Paul came awake with a hunger so deep, he grabbed at the closest thing that he could get his hands on so he could consume it. His actions were for not as whatever it was, was not keen on being eaten. He tried to grab it again, teeth bared in a growl. This time he was tossed in to the stone face of the cliff for his efforts. Gasping, he forced the hunger down and rational thought returned. Shaking his head, Paul ran a hand through his short brown hair. "Forgive me, I am not myself."
"The beast effects your mind. It is not your hunger, but his." Pressing her hand to examine his body, Kendra forced him to accept her touch. "You are not too harmed." She let him go and turned to face the path back down the cliffs. "Tonight has come, you must prepare for battle with the beast."
"I'm not going to fight the Maker." Sitting up, Paul coughed to clear his lungs. The night air had filled his mouth with salt and dust from the winds. Spitting the fowl taste from his mouth, Paul glanced over at the Slayer. "The sand worm is too big to fight, even with the most advanced weapons of this era, the blasts would be too great."
"Then you face a bigger challenge than my dreams led me to believe. My Watcher said to keep an eye out for you as well, what could he have meant by that?" Despite the fact no weapons were showing, Kendra had six daggers at the ready to be used on this strange boy if he even so much as flinched now.
Smiling, Paul suddenly appeared directly in front of her. "I have no idea." Holding up all six of her daggers, Paul handed them back to her. "There are many things about this world that still try to ellude my mental grasp, but I know more than They want me to see." Reaching out quickly, he rubbed at the area behind her left ear. "On my world I am a god."
Kendra's eyes started to droop as she felt her body began to relax. She fell against Paul, her fingers desperately trying to fight off the false malaise. "What are you doing to me, boy?"
"I do not require a shadow in this world. Your part in this is now complete." His voice increased in pitch, taking on the dual quality of his Bene Gesserit training. "Rest, Slayer, your strength will be needed in the aftermath."
"Tired." Closing her eyes, Kendra nodded. "I believe I'll sleep now."
Gently lowering her to the ground, Paul pressed a kiss to her forehead. She was far from the one he had expected to be here, but she was still of the same species at least. The other one must have already died trying to fight the Makers. Casting about for the sense of the Makers, he found only one, not the three that had been planted here.
Paul raised his head. "Where are the other two?"
"Freaky how you do that." Adjusting his collar uncomfortably, Whistler came the few feet down the cliff face to stand beside Paul. "One died, as you already know, to bring you back. The second, well, it kinda met up with a crazy old Human with a stick of dynamite. Was a spectacular explosion."
"I see." Standing again, Paul stared out over the water and watch the last dying rays of the sun sink in to the sea. Like a great beast, it refused to give up even as it disappeared behind the waves, sending red flames up over the horizon. "Magnificent. I have never seen it from this angle before."
"So, you gonna get on with this or not? Time's a ticking and that not so little beast of yours is getting older." Whistler raised his wrist, glancing at the watch. "According to my bosses, you were given a certain amount of time to ensure the future happens. You fail, that beast destroys the world, and no one lives long enough for happily ever after."
"I am well aware of the stakes, Goblin. Your masters were supposed to ensure this never happened." Paul pulled up the hood of his cloak. "If they hadn't been slacking off, none of this would have happened and I would still be a figure in a novel."
"Hey, so they screwed up. At least they left you entact so you could deal with it. You got your memory back, which means you can kill the big worms for them. That's their way of doing things, minimal interference." Snorting, Whistler watched the boy walk down the cliff path. It took him a moment to realize he had been insulted. "Hey! I'm not a Goblin, asshole!" When Paul simply continued on, ignoring him, Whistler flipped him off. "Punks these days!"
Putting the last of the boxes in his trunk, Giles turned to stare at the school whistfully. Despite the large scale of evil and potential evil in this building, he had felt at home here. He would admit there were times when the American children would grate on his last good nerve til he wanted to just stuff a scone in their mouths. Other times he wanted to die of embarrassment after learning just what exactly they had been talking about, really, children that age should not have such language.
Yes, there were many memories attached to this place. He would miss them all, even those that had hurt him the most. Despite the fact that he lost someone very dear to him hear, it would always be a part of him. Giles silently vowed only to think on this place with fondness.
With a sigh, he closed the trunk of this little car that had served him so well in the past and would now go back to its final resting place at the Watcher's Council parking lot in Las Angeles. There wasn't much choice in the matter, he couldn't very well keep it. Back to England where the cars were designed properly and people drove on the correct side of the road, the left.
There was just the little matter of locking up the school and then it would be all done with. Turning back to the school, Giles was shocked to find his way blocked by a cloaked figure again. This time he was ready for him. He pulled out the gun and took aim at what appeared to be a man. "Who are you?"
"I could ask you the same thing, Rupert Giles." Smiling at the gun, the boy waved it off.
Giles found himself lowering the gun despite the alarm still inside him. Every time he tried to focus on trying to raise it again, his mind was distracted from its presence. "What are you?"
"Benevolence. Destruction. Survival. Life giver. All these things and more. And less." Stepping closer, Paul raised his gloved hand again. When his palm made contact with Giles' cheek, he flooded the man with a sense of overwelming warmth and acceptance. "This is the power that they feared. I can control the minds of the many, I can manipulate them to feel whatever I want."
"Mau'dib." Basking in the feeling permeating his entire body, Giles leaned in to Paul's touch. He found himself lowering his head to rest upon his shoulder, tears filling his eyes. "Please, forgive me." Abruptly the feeling was yanked from him and Giles cried out from the return of his own life. The lack of comfort was almost unbareably painful to him.
"That is the same reaction I get from all whom I touch. Disgust and pity is all I can summon for those so effected. They are mere tools to be used if they can not over come the force of my personality." Letting the man go, Paul stepped back from him. When Giles crumpled to his knees, Paul ignored him. "I'm not really here, this is just an implanted memory you are living out at this moment. You will come to standing next to your car once more staring at this building and I will have already gone once more. It is a little trick my sister taught me, is teaching me, or will teach me. Time is a funny thing."
"Why? What is going on?" Giles had to clear his throat three times before he could speak clearly. Even then, his voice came out in a husky whisper.
"I needed a few tools from your car. Things I am sure the airlines won't let you bring on board. It isn't much, just a few tools that are necessary in taming the beast." Looking up at the sky, Paul seemed distracted. "Shai-Hulud is calling me, it is time. Good bye, Rupert Giles."
"Wait!" But Giles found himself shouting the word in the empty parking lot. He glanced down at his watch and realized it couldn't have been more than a moment that he was distracted. Remembering Paul's words, he moved around the car to check the back seat. He found the door open and his weapons chest opened.
He reached in to the chest to check for missing weapons and came away with a frown. Nothing that he could remember had been taking. It seemed to have been ransacked though. "May be he couldn't find what he was looking for." Stating it for no one in particular, he climbed further in the back of the car. Beside the weapons chest was a large leather satchel where he kept his spell books. It had been unbuckled and the contents removed.
Giles racked his brain for which book had been in the pocket and came up with one that he didn't really like. "A water arts book. What would he want with that?"
Thunder cracked over head as a lightening bolt hit the parking lot in front of his car. Then it came to him.
As the thunder shook the windows of her second story bedroom, Willow stuffed another sweater in the trash bag. Anything cute, cuddly, or kitteny was going in the trash. The Willow that arrived in New York was going to be a new Willow. Goth was still cool in New York, she had heard, may be all black would be the thing for her.
Looking at her red skirts and white blouses, she sighed. Well, not all black, may be just some dark clothes. Staring at the eye liner on her vanity, she sighed. One thing she was going to have to learn was how to put it on without pricking herself in the eye with it. The word prick made her giggle until she realized how very ungoth like that was.
Sobering up, Willow went back to her task of weeding out all childish clothes from her wardrobe. When she left, it would be no more Willow, she would have to choose another name for herself. Wills was also out, it was reserved for a select few people who were now out of reach. What she needed was something that said 'don't mess with me, unless you want to party'.
The flash of lightening striking the ground just outside her window made her screeh in fear. Dropping the sack she ran for the door. The lights all around her flickered speeding up her steps in to the hall towards the stairs. "Mom!"
"Down here, honey, we have the weather on and supper will be ready soon." Sheila ran a hand over her hair before wiping her hands off on her robe. Turning around, she smiled at her husband. "Right?"
"Yes, another ten minutes." Pulling on the oven mits, he looked up in time to see his daughter run in to the room, her hair frizzing out. "Willow, please do something with your hair, it looks like you stuck your finger in a light socket."
"Yours too!" Pointing at her father, Willow began to giggle again. This time, she didn't stop herself. The nervous fear had to have an outlet. Again the lights flickered. "What is happening?"
"I'm not certain, this has never happened before." Sheila walked over to the window. Peering through the slightly parted curtains, she fought the rising panic. In all directions she saw rising waves of lightening making the world appear as brilliant as a camera flash. "Very strange."
Splashing cold water on her face, Jenny groaned from the deep throbbing ache behind her eyes. She knew that if she looked in the mirror, solid black eyes would greet her. Black magic was in the air and it was summoning something deep from within her. It had been ages since she last practiced it but the long lessons were already itching on her finger tips.
Taking a deep breath, she forced her mind to focus. She had to get to Rupert immeadietly and warn him. He had to know. Despite the fact there was no slayer, they were still the best hope against dark forces in Sunnydale.
A lightening strike outside her bathroom window made her jump back from the sink. It was too much for her and the magic broke free from her. Waving a hand fear to protect herself from the noise, she summond up the wall tiles to act like a shield. They shot from their mortar to stand in front of her.
Realizing what she had done, Jenny let the spell drop. "I've got to get out of here now!" She made a dash for the door, grabbing her purse and coat along the way.
Standing high upon the cliffs over looking the ocean, Paul continued to read the spell for summoning the rains. He needed more water for this to work and the longer he spoke the words, the more the clouds would build. That it was creating lightening and thunder as a by product was an unfortunate. He would not stop now, it was the only way.
The actions of one Chaos Mage had set these events in to motion, bringing him forth. Along with Paul, the damned fool had summoned the sand trout that night two weeks ago. Sand trout were the basic jelly like slugs that came together in a Maker nest, the nest had formed baby sand worms. He had probably thought it a fun little expirement.
Paul had made a deal with the beings who called themselve The Powers That Be while the host body's mind wandered through his memories. He saw the future, knew the sand worms were coming and that he was the only one who would know how to stop them. That involved allowing him to resurface and control the host. His abilities would over run the host's mind in the process, costing him his sense of self. Eventually the host had ceased to exist and all that remained was Paul.
Sadness for the loss of his host made Paul pause for a second, long enough to distract him from the spell. He could feel the storm start to slip from his control and tighted his mind around it. In responce, lightening exploded across the sky, blinding him.
Curling his fingers around the binding of the book, Paul continued to read the words written in ancient blood. "Dues mos, con tinu wah enut. Enhut con tinu weh. Dues mos, con tinue wah enut. Enhut con tinue weh." Thunder drowned out the sound of his voice.
Appearing behind Paul, Whistler covered his ears against the storm. "What the hell are you doing?" A bolt of lightening struck the ground at his feet and he jumped to avoid it. He was sent rolling down the cliff to bump in to Paul's legs. When he looked up, blinking the brilliance from his eyes, he glared at Paul. "This wasn't part of the deal!"
"Silence!" A blast of light struck the ground behind Paul, nearly hitting Whistler.
"Okay! I can take a hint." Sitting up, Whistler looked for his hat. This was going great. He had expected something out of Indiana Jones or may be a bad movie. Something along the lines of lassoing the worm and riding it to the pits of a volcano. This summoning of a hurricane was far from that.
"Enhut con tinu weh!" The last words finished, Paul sagged forward and the strength of the spell dragged its power from him. He slowly closed the book, using sheer force of will to make his limbs move. Breathing heavily was the only physical sign he would allow to show he was weakened. The sagging part he wasn't going to acknowledge unless brought up.
Recognizing his chance, Whistler tugged at Paul's cloak. "What the hell is going on, kid? I thought you were gonna deal with the worm, not prove every meterologist in the state wrong."
Sighing heavily, Paul righted himself. He shook the offending demon's hand off his cloak and put the book under his arm. "The only true threat to the Makers was the dream of every Fremen." Waving an arm towards the clouds as they moved over the land towards the desert beyond Sunnydale, he coughed. "Paradise on Arrakis."
"Paradise?" It took Whistler a moment to understand. "You're going to drown the worm." Watching the storm, he couldn't help but admire the sheer size of it. "I think that might be enough."
"More so." Paul was about to take a step forward when he fell down to one knee. He tried to stand up, but his legs gave out all together and he collapsed to the ground. "I believe I may have over done it."
"No, kid, you didn't." Moving to stand over the fading Paul, Whistler shook his head. "Your kind of abilities can't last very long in a mortal body, humans just aren't strong enough, even with that drug you're so fond of." He knelt beside Paul, a hand reaching out to brush the dark hair from his face.
A deep chill spread through out his limbs. It was growing steadily harder to breathe as time passed. "I can't..." Blinking, Paul shook his head. "Can't think. So tired."
"Rest, kid, you deserved it." When Paul's eyes flashed open, Whistler shook his head and forced them closed again.
"This can't be." After a brief struggle, Paul lost to his fiteague. "I've seen the... future! I live." He gasped for breath only to end up coughing again. "I live."
"No, you don't." It was almost done, he could see it now. "Just let go, it will be quicker."
Paul shook his head weakly in denial. He tried to focus on the simple task of keeping his body breathing, heart pumping, but that was proving too difficult. Even as his heart slowed, he struggled to keep it going. Eventually, the muscle simply stopped. Paul felt his grip on the host slip completely.
Whistler let Paul go. It was better this way. Glancing up, he saw the black slayer make her way along the cliff top towards them. "He's all yours now."
"You can go back to your masters, demon, I can take it from here." Ignoring the Balance Demon, Kendra knelt beside Paul. "That wasn't a nice thing to do with me, boy, I could have prevented this." Picking him up by the chest first, she took a deep breath. "Boy, you weigh a ton!"
Eventually, Kendra got him off the ground. Straining, she staggered down the cliff face towards the parking lot below. Her...borrowed car was waiting there. As she walked, cold winds blew back from the town, the last vestages of the storm. She thought it strangely fitting that he would die under such a sky.
In the desert, out among the broken sands and half formed dunes a creature of unearthly origins raised its maul towards the sky. Crying in pain, it desperately turned to avoid the stinging rain. Torents fell upon it from all directions and soaked in to the ground turning the sand in to a muddy ocean.
The earth shook from the great beast's tail slapping it in attempt to shake the liquid from its body. Rolling over proved to be no help, the mud being deeper here. Great amouts of soaked earth stuck to it, making it impossible for the worm's scales to allow it movement. It roared once more in to the night.
Lightening struck the great beast's snout, blackening the scales there. It cried out in pain, buring its face in the mud to alleviate the pain. Instead of helping, the actions forced water and mud deep inside the worm's mouth. It tried to vomit up the mud but more ran inside every time it opened its mouth.
Snapping violently to remove the surrounding mud, it only made room for more water to pour down upon it. Soon the worm had sunk so deep in the mud its movements became constricted. The great worm screamed in frustraition before collapsing forward in to the water filled pit. It tried to breath through the water once, twice before its movements settled in to tiny spasm.
Eventually all movement ceased and mud filled in the hole over the great worm. All the while, rain continued to pour down upon the desert.
Outside the city morgue, Kendra parked the borrowed car. With a put upon sigh, she turned to the back seat. The lifeless figure of the boy still made her a little angry. It wasn't her fault he was dead, yet it felt like she had a hand in it. There was nothing to be done for him now.
She was about to reach out and touch his forehead, but pulled back before she could reach him. There was nothing she could do for him now. With a final glance over him, she shifted back to the front and opened the door. The weather was still bordering on freezing in her limited experience.
Watching the lightening strikes in the east, she slammed the door shut and walked away. It was the most beautiful storm she had ever seen, and prayed it was the last one of that magnitude she had to see. Having survived it was all well and good, but having to go through it once was more than enough.
Inside the car, blue within blue eyes opened.
Sitting in a chair next to the fire place, Giles nursed a glass of brandy. This had been the first and only chance he ever got to use this bloody fire place and he planned on taking full advantage of it. The cold winds and rain had dropped the temperature of the town to near freezing in his opinion. Then again, in London this time of year it would probably feel down right balmy.
He was about to take another sip when a loud banging on his door made him drop the glass. Cursing, he threw a towel over the mess as he stood up and headed for the door. "Who is it?"
"Rupert! Open up, I need to speak with you!" On the other side of the door, Jenny Calendar was shivering from the rain. This had been the worst exposure of dark arts she had felt in all her years. Her bones still ached from the exposure. "Come on, Rupert, I'm not wearing... pants. Thank you!" She rushed in to the building as he opened the door.
"What are you doing here? I thought we were to meet up in the morning, not that this is unwelcome." Closing the door behind him, he ushered her over to the chair in front of the fire. "Is there something the matter?"
"There was dark magic being used tonight. More than I have ever felt in one location before." Glancing up at him as she pulled the shawl off the back of the chair on her shoulders, she paused. "You know something about this?"
Giles nodded. There was no reason why he should lie to her about the situation in his opinion. "Xander took a book from me this evening, a very special book about water magic." He frowned, thinking on how best to tell her the truth. "It wasn't exactly Xander, he was under the influence of... something greater than himself."
"Paul Atreides." She smiled at his shocked expression. "I found my copy yesterday, it was a long read even just refreshing myself. The question is, what did Paul want with the book? Why did he create this storm and what is he planning on doing next? But most importantly, how do we get Xander back?"
"You don't." It pained him to admit it, but Giles knew the truth now. "If he survives the abilities, Paul Atreides is more than enough to keep Xander's body as his own. There is, quite frankly, nothing we can do to interfer with him and at this point, I am not sure I would."
"What in hell is the matter with you? You can't just accept that this character from a book has taken over one of the kids in your charge, Rupert!" Things were taken a change for the surreal. In all her life, training to be the person she had become, she never thought to be in such an insane situation. "We are talking about a fictional being, as in not a real person. He shouldn't exist. We have to find a way to put him back in the book!"
"There is no way!" Pinching his nose, Giles lowered his head and his voice. "I have researched the method used to bring him in to existance. The spell ended with the destruction of the statue on Halloween night. Whatever is causing this is beyond anything I have encountered before."
Jenny thought she was beginning to understand now. "But we can't let it go just because you have never experienced something like this before!"
"That is not the reason at all." Pulling off his glasses, he sat down on the couch across from her. The day's events suddenly coming back to him, Giles felt every moment of his age. "I've researched it thoroughly. Possession spells and charms are very specific in their effects, this is most definitely not one of those."
"So what does that mean?"
"It means that this is Xander, now and forever. The sum total of memories and experiences that make up Xander are but a small part of an infinitely vast mind. He is no longer just Xander, he is also Paul Atreides and every person that came before Paul in his genetic lineage. The direct result of such a blending has left him with more than his mind could handle. In his mind, he is Paul Atreides."
Hat in hand, Whistler stood at the base of a large pillar made of Ice. All around him large crystals of ice grew from the cavern floor, glowing in the darkened cave. Glancing up at the top, he smiled nervously. "Okay, so I am here."
The pillar was silent.
"A little information, please?" He expected something usual, like the images that would fill his mind along with the instant knowledge of the situation. Instead, what he got was silence. "Is there something I've done wrong again?"
"No." Stepping from behind the pillar, a gold and silver skinned woman tossed her steel colored locks. "They are just busy at the moment."
"Great, an oracle." Shaking his head, Whistler put back on his hat. "I don't care what you say, I'm not giving you my hat. It being the only thing of value I have, you can just rot if you want a gift."
"Relax, little demon. I am here to do what the pathetic humans refer to as debrief you." Flauncing her nails, she heaved a moan of displeasure. "get on with it."
"Reguarding Paul Atreides. As was stated in the deal, he was given full use of his abilities in order to stop the big worm thing. He used all his abilities in a spell to summon a great lightening storm. As we expected, his body couldn't handle the strain and went in to shock. Shortly afterwards his system shut down and he died. The worm drown a short time later. It's body is buried in the sand outside the hellmouth and charmed so no one can look for it. Deal done, mission accomplished, the end." Crossing his arms, Whistler looked at the oracle expectantly.
Blowing on her nails, the oracle boredly turned away. "Very well. They would know if you failed and would have taken appropriate actions. Your current assignement is reinstated, find Angel and make sure he works with the slayer to destroy Acathala." Frowning, she waved a hand in front of her nose. "Now go away, you stink."
"Fuck you very much." Flipping her off, he disappeared.
"Ooops, did I forget to mention there is a new Slayer? Must have slipped my mind." Glancing about the chamber, she huffed.
Climbing the steps up the plane ramp, Jenny paused just at the door. Giles was already inside the small charter plane. She wasn't completely sure this was a good idea. Most of their supplies, including all the books and weapons from the library, were on a ship bound for Panama, making her feel defenseless. It was a natural feeling considering the events of the past few days.
They had argued over Xander, Willow, Buffy, responciblity, the hellmouth, other Watchers, and their relationship the rest of the night until early this morning when it had ended in a stalemate. Night had given way to morning and morning brought with it the trip to L.A. for a plane ride to England. Along with their luggage, was a whole trunk load of emotional bagage.
It wasn't that she didn't want to go with Rupert, there were still so many things that needed to be done here. Quite rightly, she felt that they were simply abandoning the city. They had fought the darkness and had held Sunnydale for a time. Now that their best fighter had fallen and another was a casuality, retreat seemed like the best option.
It upset her that she had left without finding what happened with Xander/Paul, but as Giles had said, the boy could handle himself. That still didn't make the situation right. He was yet another reason to fight the darkness now.
The flight attendant stuck her head out the door. Clearing her throat to attract Jenny's attention, she motioned for her to come inside. "The pilot is ready to take off."
"Thank you." Climbing in the craft, she caught site of Giles' expression and smiled in return. She took her seat and buckled up before grabbing his hand in hers. "Remember your promise."
Facing forward, Giles' jaw clenched. "Do not worry, I plan on letting you have the first swing at him when we catch the bastard."
"Good." This time, she smiled genuinely at him. "I still can't believe you ever hung out with an ass like that."
"I was young and stupid. Besides, Ethan sought me out, not the other way around. Don't worry, it won't happen again."
"See that it doesn't."
Appearing in a garishly decorated bedroom, Whistler cried out in shock. All around him was pink. From the wall hangings, to the slip covers, everything was a different shade of pink. "It's what hell would look like if Barbie was a demon."
"You don't have to convince me." Angel tried to move his body to get off the pink bed, but his legs still refused to respond. "I would get off this bed, but I seem to be a little paralyzed at the moment."
"Tough break, Angel." Snickering, Whistler headed for the bed. Along the way, he stared in horror at the pink dolls surrounding the vampire. "Who did you piss off?"
"Drusilla." Grimacing, Angel pushed them off the bed. "They are supposed to remind me of being a 'good daddy'. Personally, I am feeling about ready to ring her neck next time I see her."
"Sounds fun." Stopping at the bed post, Whistler took in the full sight of Angel, then did a double take. "Pink slacks, pink shirt, pink socks. Well ain't you precious."
Angel frowned. It wasn't funny. "Quit being a smart ass and get me out of here."
"Sorry, bub, no can do. You gotta rest here until either the slayer rescues your cutsy little behind or until you can get yourself out. You know it don't work any other way." Chuckling was his next reaction. It really was too funny to stare at the guy who had been the terror of Europe for over a century. "Speaking of the slayer, where is she?"
"Buffy is dead."
"Not her, the other one. You can't miss her, five-four, got an accent, black." When all he got was a confused expression, Whistler waved it off. "You'll be seeing her soon enough. She's got a destiny to fulfill now that your blonde filly has kicked the bucket."
"Buffy was not a horse!" Growling, Angel grabbed a stuffed animal and threw it at Whistler.
The demon barely had to duck to avoid it. "Now that wasn't so nice, just think of all the trouble Drusilla went through to get you that nice little rabbit."
"Go away. Now."
Whistler jumped with a screech at the voice just behind his left ear. "What the hell."
"You'll find out soon enough, little demon, if you don't complete a disappearing act very soon." Drawing his dagger, Paul jabbed at the Balance Demon only to find air. Smirking, Paul replaced the dagger in his belt and strolled over to Angel. "Hello, pink one." He flicked at Angel's hair, knocking a pink bow from it.
"What the... She is going to pay for that." Running a hand through his spikes, Angel removed the other bows in his hair. "She must have done it while I was unconscious."
"Let me kill him, my lord, it would be a pleasure." Appearing behind Paul's back, an middle aged man with a scar along his jaw line that traced from ear to ear pulled a dagger. "He's not exactly a Harkkonen scum, but I can still enjoy myself."
"Not this one, Gurney man." Paul cocked his head to the side and another man appeared, this one on the other side of the bed. His blue eyes were half hidden behind a mask.
"I see you are still here, demon. Pity." Smiling at Paul, Duncan pulled back his hood. "You are yourself again, my duke?"
"As always." Closing his eyes, he summoned another person.
This time a weathered face of a man in desert colored clothes appeared on the bed, knealing in front of him. Cocking his head to the side, the Fremen examined the vampire. "He is very pale, Mau'dib."
Dark arms slid up around Paul's waist, pulling him back against a woman's chest. She nuzzled her face in to his hair. "Is this really what you have been fighting for, beloved?"
"Xander, what is going on here?" By now, Angel was starting to be a little freaked out by all the suddenly appearing people. When the man in the bed leaned forward, Angel automatically laid back further. "Who are all these people?"
The covers around Angel's waist lifted and warmth slid up his body as a face appeared. Kissing angel below the belly button, Xander grinned up at the vampire. He crawled out from under them, up Angel's body to lay beside him.
Angel noticed that not only was he warm, he was also very naked. "Xander?" He looked between the boy beside him and the almost identical boy standing beside his bed. The only real difference was the eyes. He looked at the boy with blue eyes. "Who are you?"
"Paul Atreides is his name." The old man behind Paul slipped around Paul and stuck the dagger at Angel's throat. "He is magnanimous and generous in the fact that he hasn't killed you yet, you unearthly beast."
"Really? I find him interesting." Othyum reached over Xander and touched Angel's brow. "I have yet to see the like as you in all my years."
"Don't worry, there are plenty others here, Fremen." Folding his arms, Duncan stood glaring at Angel. "I still believe it would be best to kill him and have done with it, Paul."
"Let him live or whatever his kind does." Blowing at the tiny hairs on Paul's neck, Chani grinned. "It's your decision, Usul, whatever it is you decide."
"I thought I felt spirits." Drusilla let the door finish opening as she coasted in to the room. Glancing from one person to the next she hummed a little. "The dolls cried out in pain. They didn't like being thrown, not at all. What have you been doing, Daddy?"
Duncan pulled out his blade and threw it at the vampire. Before it could hit, however, the blade disappeared.
Drusilla glared at him, shaking her head. "Naughty, spirit."
"Go suck a Harkkonen!" In the next instant, Duncan disappeared.
Rounding on Paul, Drusilla narrowed her eyes. "I don't like being yelled at, especially by invisible people who throw things."
"Then go away." No sooner had Paul spoken, then Drusilla appeared to have vanished. Paul turned his attention back to Angel. Humor gone from his face, he closed his eyes. The people around them soon disappeared as well. Upon opening them again, he glared down at Xander, who was rubbing on Angel.
"What? That is my body you got there, pal. I'm not leaving you to mess this up." He was about to say more when he too vanished.
"We are one being, multiple minds." This time, Paul sat down on the bed. "What I am is not something easily explained. I can do many things that makes many people fear me. To some people, that makes me a god, others I am a demon that should never have been brought in to existance. In my world, after my death, they take very great care not to spawn me again in their breeding program."
"I know, I've finished the series." Cocking his head to the side, Angel watched Paul critically. "You've done things the other couldn't."
"Call me a liberal interpretation. The potential was there, but fareness, and an author's modesty, kept me from becoming the omnipitent being he made me." Paul snapped his fingers and the world around them changed to a cave entrance over looking a vast desert. "Most of my abilities are illusions, tricks of thoughts, but so complete no one would doubt they existed."
"So, I'm still in the bed." Hopping from one foot to the other, Angel reached out to catch himself before he fell over. "Feels real enough."
"It should. This is a place from my memory. If you wish, I can replay it in earnest." Suddenly the world around them exploded in winds as a roar filled the cavern entrance. The ground shook from the roaring, throwing them against the wall.
Angel looked out towards the entrance and saw a great mouth with endless rows of teeth. "The sand worm!"
"Yes." They were back in the calm again. "When my mother came south, this was the cave we first found the Fremen in."
"Why bring me here?" Starting towards the cave, Angel glanced about him. Deeper inside the great cavern, it opened up and plants appeared. "This is beautiful."
"That is why I brought you here." Smiling Paul came up behind him. "That and what it represents. It was here I chose a path that led away from my old ways, my old life. It was here I became Usul, 'the base of the pillar'. We are here to decide the future in your world, now my world too."
"The future," Angel asked with deep amusement.
"Remember when I told you about the choices you had to make. Fight or die. All the possible futures of yours I saw." Seeing some dawning recognition in Angel's eyes, Paul smiled. "That's good, Dead Boy, now here's the catch. All of those are still possible, only now is the time in which one stops being a possiblity.
"Door number one?" A cave off to their right lit up. "Door number two." A cave to their left lit up. "Or door number three." The cave ahead of them lit up. "Come on, Angel, let's make a deal. Your choice is rather simple really. The first one takes you to a future where your's truly disappears from your life forever, a great shame really. Door number two leads to a future where we are together on occaision, but only as aquaitances."
Paul walked towards the third one. "Number three, we wake up in bed together every evening. Personally, I like door number three." Stopping just at the entrance, Paul crossed his arms. "What will it be?"
"What happens if I chose door number one?" Angel smirked at Paul's frown.
Now was Angel's turn to frown. "Door number two?"
Smirking, Paul cocked his head. "You die."
"Door three?" Angel thought this would prove if the boy was lying to him.
"You die." Paul's expression changed to that of a resigned fate. "But you have a hell of a time getting there. Face it, Angel, you are going to die eventually, we all do. The only difference is how you get there and who with."
"So really, the only choice you are offering is your level of involvement in my life." Seeing Paul nod, Angel glanced about the cavern again. "Do I have to make the choice now?"
"Door number four it is."
Suddenly, Angel was back in the bedroom, Drusilla standing there looking at him with fear. He looked all about him for Paul, but found the room other wise empty. "Is this because I asked for more time?"
"Could be." A flash of light and Paul appeared beside him again, this time laying on the bed. "Then again, it could just be because I was never really here. In fact, as of this moment, my body is being carried out of a car and in to the city morgue." Rolling on to his back, Paul stretched out flat. "Don't worry, they'll only get as far as declaring me dead before I cut the charade."
"Why are you doing this? What is going on, Xander?" Angel was shocked when the boy's eyes bled back to the normal brown.
"I'm the one with the power now, Dead Boy. I figured I would dick with you until you got angry. As for the dead thing, that is for the benefit of those Morons That Be. Seems they don't like the fact I can know things they don't want others to. I bring a new level to the playing field they've held exclusively for countless mellinia." Smirking, Paul let his eyes return to their blue. He giggled and forced his body not tense. "This guy has cold fingers."
"What guy?" Angel glanced about Paul for any sign of another person. When he blinked, he was standing in a sterile room with Paul laying on a metal table being examined by a man in a blue coat. "Your autopsy?"
"First stages. He won't get passed that, at least not on a first date." Turning his head, he smiled at Angel. When the man lifted his arm, Paul flexed his fingers, causing the man to drop it in fright. "This guy is so easy."
Angel had to fight to keep a smile off his face. "What happens when they find your body missing from the morgue?"
"They won't. I will make them all see what they expect to see, a body." When the man dared to come close again, Paul turned his head and held open his mouth. The man placed a finger in his mouth and checked the throat for obstructions. When he was through, Paul turned and spit to clean his throat. "That was rather unpleasant. Hate the taste of rubber gloves."
"What are we going to do?" Angel sighed when he was once again in the bedroom.
"Just hang tight. I am almost through in the morgue. When I am, I will come get you and we will get the hell out of Sunnydale." Winking, Paul disappeared in a flash. His disembodied voice drifted through the room. "Until then, just grin and bare it."
"Grin and bare it?" Angel looked up at the sound of a rubber glove snapping. For the first time in his long undead existance, he knew fear. "Dru, what are you playing at?"
"I wanna play Doctor." Pulling up her cotton mask, she grinned at Angel. "Now turn your head and cough for Dr. Drusilla."
Willow sat back in her Taxi with a huff. November in New York was the equivilant of hell on earth in her opinion. So many people jammed in to so little space and so damned cold it made the hair on her arms ache. The first thing she did when stepping out of the busy airport was fall on her ass. It wasn't a pleasant beginning and it had only gone down hill from there.
Her aunt and uncle had been pleasant enough, if you could ignore the deafening accent of her aunt and the old fashioned ideas of her uncle. He had taken one look her and said "eh, you could may be use a little less make up." Her aunt had just squealed for a half hour and fretted over her hair. A word her aunt had used, not her. "Fretting over my favorite niece!"
Already she was less sure it was a good idea so much as a punishment for her part in Buffy's death. If it was Karma, then she would simply nod and go on with life until she had paid her debt. At least in New York, she would have an interesting time of it. Laying her head back against the head rest, she thought she saw a reflection of something flying over head in the glass. When she looked towards it, it was already gone. "What was that?"
"What was what?" Seeing Willow looking up, the cabbie snorted in disgust. "God damned web crawling freak."
"Web crawling?" Willow searched the sky for a giant spider. What she saw instead was an impressive male form swinging around on a rope. When he spread his legs to do a roll, she saw how impressive he really was. "Oh, oh my." Her cheeks flamed red as she sat back in her seat like a good girl.
Yep, New York was going to be interesting.
Paul grinned over his shoulder at the cursing Angel. He had bundled the vampire up in the pink blankets and thrown him in the back seat. "Ah quit your bitching, Dead Boy, at least I got you out of there before she got to the lubrication part."
"Lubrication," Angel squeaked.
"Don't ask." Adjusting his mirrors, Paul let his Xander persona take hold and do the driving. Wind blowing in his hair, this was the closest to heaven Xander ever wanted to come. If what he could see was coming, then it would be a long while before he felt so free again. In the mean while, he intended to do his best to get Angel to make his choice. The only real choice. Door number three.
On the edge of Sunnydale, a lone figure stepped out of the back of a limosine. Adjusting his jacket, he grinned. The sun was coming up, the town was free of slayers, his last obstical to being defeated had just left town, and to top it off, it looked like another beautiful day in the town he had created. "Yes, sir, a fine day to be alive."
Suddenly the earth beneath his feet shook. Catching his balance, he let the grin slip a little. When it had passed, he stood up straight again. "Just a little unsettling." He turned to face the town. "Such a pretty sight." The ground shook again.
Sniffing the air, the Mayor smiled brightly. "Is someone chewing that new cinnamon flavored gum?"
The ground exploded in a hellish rain of sand.