A/N: Welcome to the project that has been consuming my life for about two years now! For those of you who have been following this project from the beginning, my first two attempts at prologues just weren't getting the job done at all, and I needed something that was better suited to the story. So I wrote this.
For those of you who have not read this yet, here are all the warnings, disclaimers, and summaries you'll ever need. Welcome to my world. You'll probably be insane by the time you leave (evil smirk).
The Passion of Angels and Demons -- This is a story set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, and it is a crossover with the X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont. There are no characters from X-Men in this story, just my own version of the DPS adapted to Buffy.
Warnings: This is a SLASH story - it contains sometimes graphic sex between two men. If such things offend you, this is not the story for you. With that out of the way: 1 This is a Xander/Angel(us) romance (at least primarily), so if you do not like that pairing, this isn't for you. 2 This story is rated M because it deals with sex and a lot of gore - the fight scenes get pretty descriptive. This story isn't really for the weak-stomached (and yes, there is some straight sex in this too). That should be about it.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was created by Joss Whedon (who is an unparalleled genius), and is owned by FOX and by Mutant Enemy. I make no money. Also, the Dark Phoenix Saga (the best comic book story arc EVER) was written by Chris Claremont, and is owned by Marvel. I make no money, I'm just having fun. Lawyers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.
PS -- Joss Whedon is finally returning to TV!! With Eliza Dushku!! They're on a show called Dollhouse which is looking something like a Whedonverse version of Alias, but better. It's gonna be on FOX this winter after 24 finally comes back -- watch it!
Okay, on to the story.
the Passion of Angels and Demons
Once upon a Time…
In the second age,
When the darkest of angels is at reign,
A true warrior will rise
A Slayer like no other before or after
And in her hands will be the Key to the Door
Though she will know it not
And the world will rest on her choice
Between her duty and her heart
-- The prophet Airindorick (date unknown)
And the Doorway will open
And Hell will pour out
From the mouth it will belch
Like sulfurous magma
And there will be many who fight to close the Door
Champions of mighty heart joined with demons of purest dark
But ultimately the power that affects those of both worlds
Will be the Key to close the Door.
--from the Byrondirk Codex (kept in the library of the Watcher's Council Headquarters in London)
From the ashes of saints and the fires of Hell
One will be borne of purest Dark and purest Light
And he will be the Doorway
And he will have to choose between the two
For only one born with a foot in both worlds
Will have the strength to bear the Child of Light
The Phoenix will rise
And the Doorway will choose which world to burn.
--A Seer, from her vision, given to a seeker, 1997.
Alexander Harris was six years old when the 'incident' happened. He was a child, and as such he had no idea that what had happened would have any import on the rest of his life. He actually later forgot that it was so important: he was so used to seeing strange things by then that it didn't seem particularly interesting. He'd always seen strange things, always heard things that no one else could and in fact most people insisted that he hadn't actually seen or heard anything.
He'd been in and out of councilors' offices for the last three years, ever since he'd started pointing things out to his parents. He was too young to understand the looks on their faces when he started speaking to things that they couldn't see. His mother tended to get a very strange look on her face, almost like she wanted to start sobbing, as if there was something particularly painful about him when he didn't act like all the other kids. His father, on the other hand, had started drinking. He'd also been demoted at work for it, and had started to yell at Xander and his mother more and more. Xander didn't like to think about that, though, so he'd started spending more time with Willow and Jesse. Tony Harris didn't usually drink in front of the other kids, so it was nicer like that.
The incident happened one day in September, about two or three days after Tony's strange cousin had come for a family visit. Jack was his name, and he was a tall, skinny man who had lots of weird tattoos and dressed funny. He was twitchy, and Xander used to think it was funny to look at the guy when he started fiddling with his fingers or tapping his feet because he couldn't sit still for very long. Other than that, Xander tended to avoid him because he stared at him funny.
Xander knew that he didn't look like other kids; he was taller than most of the kids in his class, and also very pale, no matter how much time he spent outside. He 'unnerved' people, whatever that meant, as his kindergarten teacher had told Jessica, Xander's mom, one afternoon. She said it was unusual to see a child so adult-like, so prepossessed. But she was more wigged about Xander's flashes of anger. She had reprimanded him once when a boy had taken Xander's toy. Xander hadn't had many compunctions about taking the toy back and whacking the other boy around the head a couple of times to teach him a lesson. Xander himself hadn't been able to understand why Miss Murlow had been so put out with him; how would the other boy know that taking things was wrong unless he got hit for it?
"Xander has authority issues," Miss Murlow had droned on to Jessica, who was sitting very nervously in the class listening to the teacher. Xander had gotten bored and walked away. "He does not like being told what to do and has no understanding that talking is a good way to teach someone - it's like he expects me to beat lessons into other children when they don't get it. I just don't understand, Jessica: he's so polite around you, and yet at times he is the holy terror of this class!"
So Xander was home from school for Jack's visit. He told his mom that Jack's eyes glowed strange when he was around Xander, and Jessica had lost it. She went very still, then crouched next to him and took his wrist hard enough to hurt. "Listen to me very closely, Xander, because this is important," she said urgently, staring into his eyes until he was cowed enough to pay attention. "You can't talk about these…things that you see to anyone but me, you understand? Especially not to strangers, alright? Promise me." Her eyes were shining, and she felt like she was bruising his wrist. Xander had nodded quickly.
So he didn't say how uncomfortable Jack made him feel, and on the third day of his visit, Jack had told Xander's parents that he'd be okay watching Xander when they went grocery shopping. Tony had said okay, even though Jessica had tried to bring Xander with them. Xander had a sense that Tony had hustled her out without him, and feeling angry and bereft, he'd stomped outside and started kicking a tree stump. The wind picked up around him and the sky darkened overhead as his mood grew darker to match.
That was when Jack came out of the house and said "Hey, Xan, got somethin' to show ya." He'd taken Xander's hand before Xander could protest and led him toward the stretch of trees outside Xander's house.
"I don't wanna go in there," Xander had protested as he was dragged along. It didn't feel good when Jack squeezed his hurt wrist and dragged him hard enough for his shoulder to feel sore. "Stop!" But Jack wouldn't listen, and just kept dragging him, shushing him and pulling him into the woods.
When they reached the little creek, Jack had turned to him and started touching him. Xander didn't like it; it felt dirty and wrong. So he'd wriggled away and told Jack to stop it. Jack told him to shut up and slapped him, hard. Xander had fallen to the ground, stunned. For all his father's drinking and shouting, he'd never really been hit before. He'd been shocked enough to fall down, and he stared up at Jack, shocked, as the freaky guy started reaching for his belt.
"Leave me alone!" Xander shouted, backing up. He felt like his head was spinning, and the whole forest around him was starting to blur in his vision, become sharper and then hazier, like it was disappearing behind a red film of rage. The babbling of the creek felt like drums in his head, and he felt rage and fear and darkness from inside that part of him that made him act like a bad kid.
The wind picked up, making birds shriek as they were blown down to the ground. Spooked, Jack jerked away, yelling "What the fuck?!" But it was too late for that. Xander's rage was finding an outlet, and the sky turned black as night overhead. Thunder rumbled like loud gunshots, and as Xander screamed and passed out, he didn't see the lightning slam down from the clouds like God's fist and strike the ground, right where Jack was standing.
The blast set about three trees on fire and threw Xander's unconscious body like a rag doll about twenty feet, back toward his house. When the Harrises returned home they saw a small fire and Tony had run to call the cops while Jessica ran out screaming for Xander. When she grabbed him, and saw the handprint on his face, she had freaked out and grabbed him, running for home. Of Jack there was no sign. She never bothered to look.
One year later, the Harris parents were sitting in the living room, anxiously awaiting their guests to arrive. Tony knocked down a shot of whiskey, enjoying the burn, building up his fortitude for the visit. Jessica sighed as she gazed out the window toward the still-blackened patch of woods where the charred beyond recognition remains of Jack Harris' body had been found. Just thinking of Jack filled Jessica with a bitter sort of rage – it was after he died, whatever the Hell had happened, that had made Xander so much more…different than he'd already been. She glanced at the stairs, wondering what Xander was doing now. Tony followed her glance.
"What the hell are we doing this for, anyway?" he asked irritably. She stared at him incredulously. The question, he supposed, didn't really need answering. Since what had happened with Jack - and he never really stopped to think about that, because the thought that someone in his family had been some freaky pedophile was too much for him to handle - whatever was wrong with Xander had just gotten worse.
The way that he acted – as if he were some God…it was creepy. He regarded everyone around him with a cool detachment, as if their lives were like a movie that he watched, vaguely interested but detached. Save for those strange moments where his temper would just fly…
Tony shuddered slightly, and took another swig from the bottle of whiskey. He savored the false strength that he picked up from the alcohol. The money that he and Jessica had saved up in the hope of a vacation to Hawaii had been spent on psychologists and doctors, experts and specialists. None of them had been able to help their son. So now they were broke and he was drunk and he and Jessica were fighting all the time…
After the incident, as they called it, he'd been so different, like another person – the looks that were distinctly non-Harris had intensified. If he hadn't been so pissed at the idea of Jessica cheating on him, a small part of him would almost have been relieved at the idea that this freaky version of Xander wasn't really his son.
The knock at the door startled them both.
Jenny Calendar was very nervous. She stared up at the two people in the front seat of the car that they had rented from the agency on the outskirts of Sunnydale. It was hard to decide which one scared her more – the woman in the passenger seat, or the man driving.
In the passenger seat was a beautiful blonde Frenchwoman named Marie-Claire Christiene. She was a High Priestess of the Moon Coven in Avalon – often cited as the most powerful Coven in Europe, if not the world. She had been cold and distant since Jenny had met her, two weeks beforehand.
Now, she sat like an incarnation of the Goddess herself, her eyes straight ahead and unseeing, as if she were searching the currents of the future. It would have been a smart idea, Jenny had to admit. From what she'd managed to gather about the trip they were making, there was a potential threat they were facing that posed a danger to…well, Jenny wasn't sure. All she knew was that the Moon Coven was afraid. And what they feared was a general cause of concern to the world.
In the driver's seat sat Tomas Calendar, Jenny's great-uncle, an Elder of the Calderash Gypsy Tribe. The Calderash Gypsies had business in California, so they had been on hand when the magic alert was put by a subsidiary of the Moon Coven. The Calderash had allied themselves with the great Coven years ago.
Tomas was gripping the steering wheel very hard, as he always did when he was irritated. He was irritated by a lot of things, her uncle Tomas. One of them was the fact that not everyone saw the world in the black-and-white of his ancestors – if it were up to him, Marie-Claire wouldn't even be here.
Jenny stared uneasily out the window. Sunnydale was a quaint, beautiful and sunny Southern California town, but there was something in the air, a faint sort of evil miasma that set her senses to trembling. She'd asked her uncle about it earlier, and he'd told her that it was a dark town, and not to worry about it. He hadn't elaborated, and she knew enough by then to not ask.
"We're here," Marie-Claire said suddenly, jerking out of her private reverie. Tomas sent her an annoyed look, as he was already gliding into the driveway of the Harris residence. He parked the car with short, angry movements. Marie-Claire never spared him a second glance. Tomas knew better than to really piss off a member of the Moon Coven, so he kept the major part of his irritation to himself.
Jenny quickly got out, surveying the neighborhood around them for threats, as she'd been taught. What she felt rocked her backward; there was a force in the house that they'd come to whose power…she'd never felt anything like it. Her uncle cast her an arch look; she flushed. She had been taught at an early age to hide her emotions, but she'd never been very good at it.
"I still don't know why we're here," Tomas said suddenly, his pique getting the best of him. Marie-Claire deigned to turn to him, an eyebrow cocked in annoyed question. "Couldn't you just make his parents say 'yes,' and have done with it?" he clarified.
She shot him a shocked look. Jenny wasn't surprised; Wiccans were taught that to inflict their will upon someone in such a manner was irreverent, horrifying, and forbidden. Gypsies, on the other hand, had no such qualms about using their magicks to get what they wanted.
"You should know my views on the abuse of power," she said shortly, stalking toward the house.
"Ah, yes," her uncle said, apparently unwilling to let the issue drop. This didn't surprise Jenny either; her uncle was as stubborn as a donkey. "Power corrupts, and all of that. When will you people stop lecturing me?" he snapped, his voice dripping acid.
"When you start listening?" Marie-Claire returned with a poisonously sweet smile. Her uncle ground his teeth together in annoyance, but she regally ignored him. "Besides, can't you feel it?" she said suddenly. "This is different."
Tomas could say nothing to that. She nodded as if to accept the victory, and then raised up her hand and firmly knocked on the door three times.
Xander lay up in his room, a pillow over his head. It was more quiet like this, and the seven year old cherished the dark and the silence more than anything as he tried to block out the pain in his head. He didn't understand what the word 'migraine' meant, but the shrink that his parents kept making him go to said that he had stress headaches.
It just hurt, was all he knew, all he could think with a whimper of pain. He just got so damn angry, lately, and then weird things would happen and his mom would get angry and his dad would yell and drink and he'd get a headache that made him feel like puking his guts up, like when he tried to make the weirdness stop happening he was forcing something dark back inside of him that wanted out.
His parents had been real quiet lately, ever since they got something in the mail. He knew it was about him because his dad was drinking more and his mom was chewing her lip, a nervous habit that was weird because sometimes she'd bleed. His mom loved lemonade, the more bitter the better, and so you could always tell when she'd been chewing because whenever she drank the stuff and left stinging blood bright as rubies on the glass it meant that the acidy drink had cut her back open.
He heard his parents get up to answer the door, and he smothered his face deeper into the pillow, praying that the pain would stop. He heard a roll of thunder in the distance at his thought, and he curled in on himself. He hoped his mom wouldn't come up and hit him again. Thunder shouldn't show up on a perfectly clear day.
"So, the place looks nice!" Jessica Harris said, too loudly, too brightly. She sounded as if she were trying to break the stony silence that had settled as soon as Tony and Tomas had laid eyes on each other. Jenny had chosen a creaky rocking chair near a window, farther back from Marie-Claire, who had taken point on the chair closest to the Harrises. Tomas was standing in a corner, watching the proceedings.
"Yeah, nice enough to cost whatever the rest of the fuckin' shrinks have cost," Tony grumbled quietly. "You never actually explained in your letter how you found out about Xander," he continued aloud, ignoring the glares that Jessica was shooting him frantically from his other side. "What do you want with him anyway?"
"We have received recommendations from Xander's elementary school," Marie-Claire lied smoothly. "Alexander appears a perfect candidate for our program - and, if money is an object, you should know that we are a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of special children. This won't cost you a cent, should you agree." She kept her tone smooth and even, sounding like a teacher herself instead of the power that she was. Jenny thought that this was a good tactic; Marie-Claire was an imposing, regal presence and she had a feeling that Tony Harris would instinctively lash out against it.
"Non-profit?" Tony asked with a sneer, clearly thinking of something recent. "What, you some kinda pedo shit?"
Marie-Claire looked like she had just been punched in the face; Jenny gasped slightly, feeling sick at the thought. Tomas' lip curled to the point that it might have been hurting his face, and opened his mouth to blast the man. It wasn't necessary; at the question, Jessica Harris turned and soundly punched her husband in the back of the head.
"What the fuck, woman?" he demanded with a small cry of pain.
"Shut up, Tone - we need this," she whispered, glaring at him with that special glare. Sometimes, his wife freaked him out with that glare. Sometimes, there was something about Jessica almost as different as Xander - like they were both a part of something that he could only guess at if he wanted to, which he didn't.
Everyone in the living room froze and as one regarded the small figure by the stairs. Jenny stared.
The boy looked nothing like either one of his parents, was her first impression. In fact, he looked nothing like the pictures of him on the wall. There was something alien, different…demonic, she thought with a bit of a recoil. The boy was pale as snow with unnaturally red lips, like the vampires of common mythology. His hair was an ebony dark that was unusual without dyes. He held himself with an uncanny grace, a poise that belied both his age and his appearance. It was eerie - but his eyes…they were a strange dark color, with a darkness in their depths that burned with some smoldering power. They were doll's eyes, and they made Jenny want to walk out of the room.
"Xander, honey, what are you doing down here?" Jessica asked quietly. She wasn't quite looking at her son - she's afraid of him, Jenny realized. The boy rubbed his head with a grimace of pain, and said "My head is hurting again."
I can't penetrate his mind, a voice whispered in Jenny's consciousness. She jumped slightly, but thankfully no one seemed to notice. She looked at Marie-Claire, wondering what the woman meant. There is some kind of force field, like an electric current, around his mind. It hurts when you try to read him, the woman elaborated.
The High Priestess of the Holy Isle couldn't read the thoughts of a seven year old boy? Jenny stared even more uneasily at the child. His eyes suddenly met hers. It wasn't what she was prepared for. Yes, the darkness was there. But Jenny had a sense that it wasn't only darkness in the boy's eyes. For underneath the almost alien coldness in Xander's gaze, there was a sweet light and a childish innocence and naïveté still struggling to the surface. She had a strong urge to hug the child, and to push him away all at once.
"Who are they?" the boy asked, pointing to the strangers. He went towards his mother.
"They're here to talk to us about a school," Mrs. Harris said gently, but still not quite looking Xander in the eye. Jenny winced at the obvious avoidance tactics the woman was employing. Clearly the boy had picked up on it, too.
"I already go to school," he said, his voice somehow managing a mix of confusion, hurt, and surly anger all at once.
"Well, this is a different school," Tony Harris snapped, not even trying to be subtle about not looking at his only son.
"So now you're trying to send me away?" Xander snarled back, his eyes lighting up with the anger of an animal who has been hurt and was ready to lash back. "I didn't do anything wrong!"
"It's not like that, Alexander," Marie-Claire tried to explain in a gentle voice.
"I didn't ask you," Xander snapped icily, cutting her off with a hot glare.
"Xander!" Jessica gasped, annoyed and opened her mouth to continue when Marie-Claire cut her off.
"It would perhaps be better if we were permitted to speak to Xander alone," she suggested. The tone of her voice brooked absolutely no argument, and Jenny saw Xander's eyes widen slightly when his parents complied rather readily, getting up to leave. Xander flicked his gaze back to Marie-Claire, a new appraisal in his eyes.
"Who are you?" he asked finally, some of the icy regality leaking from his demeanor. He looked a little scared, a little confused as he sagged into the couch. Looking closer, Jenny was surprised to note that the dark of his eyes was lightening to a lovely chocolaty color. Marie-Claire obviously noticed it too, for she leaned closer, conspiratorially smiling in Xander's direction.
"Xander, I'd like to take you to a place for special people, just like you," she said gently.
"I'm special?" the boy asked, as if only now considering the idea. He smiled at the idea. "I always knew there was something different about me. That's what makes my mom so angry," he continued with the bluntness of a child. Jenny was noticing more and more that as the child that he was emerged, the strange, alien presence he had exuded when he'd first walked in was dissipating.
"Yes -- but you see, we can teach you about that. We can help you," Marie-Claire elaborated.
"Help me?" Xander asked, his eyes suddenly darkening. "I'm not a freak, you know! I'm a kid and I don't need any more of my mom's stupid shrinks!" It was at this moment that Xander's temper seemed to flair in a curious way. As his voice rose, the sky darkened with angry black clouds. Jenny watched, transfixed, as thunder boomed in time with the boy's voice.
"That's enough of that now," Marie-Claire said flatly, and suddenly the storm began to break up. Xander froze, staring out the window with wonder in his eyes.
"How'd you do that?" he demanded.
"You'll know when you come with us," Marie-Claire said with a smirk. Xander slowly smiled, but not like any of them thought. He'd go with them, sure. A part of him had known that as soon as they'd walked in the door. He would learn from them -- but just so that he could make this freaky crap stop. He'd not be like his father or his mother. He'd be better. He'd show them that he could stand on his own two feet, free from anyone's control.