Author's Notes: This is part 1 of a two-part chapter. See notes at the end for more information.
The rest of the day was pretty much uneventful. Once Morgan had cleared out of the office, Xander left the door open, mostly so he could make phone calls on the store line. That was one problem with the Sanctum protocol: no signal except one specifically enchanted to go through it could go through it. So, while both Wesley and Xander could use their cellular phones and computers, the store lines themselves were, effectively, dead. Xander had known that would happen, and was curious to see what would, eventually, happen, who would come in to fix it (and the camera) and how they would react to things working just fine when they did.
It sure as hell was confusing the hell out of Sarah and John. When Xander had first initiated the protocol, Sarah was busy upstairs, serving yogurt. Upon rewinding the recording, she saw Wesley toss the bag of runed tiles to Xander, then saw Xander step out of frame of the camera, then back into it, then out of it again as he placed the two tiles in the first two corners. But once she returned to the 'present' on the camera, it was showing video again.
She'd reported both of these things to John by phone call. Casey couldn't really do anything the first time, with the exception of confirming that the store's security system was reporting the same. The door to the office was closed and locked, and it wasn't like he could pick the lock right in the middle of the day, could he? Especially when there was someone inside. John Casey may have looked like a bruiser, but you don't get to 'handle' one of the most important resources in the United States without having a lot of smarts too.
When the system came back up, and he got Sarah's phone call informing him of such, John checked the store's security system a second time, and found that it was showing the office again, though the only one apparently in it was the lawyer. The door was open, and John had to do a double-take when he walked past it. The two display cases now had contents instead of just sitting there empty. The unadorned one had books - notably Buy More/Nerd Herd employee manuals. That wasn't that unusual, since it was the Assistant Manager's office.
The one that had the engravings on it was far more interesting. Even at this distance, he knew what those were. Weapons. And not of the firearm type either, which he might have expected from reading Alexander Harris' record. No, there were three weapons hanging inside the display case were medieval-era weapons. The smallest one looked like some kind of punching dagger, though it seemed to be made out of some kind of wood instead of metal. The second one was clearly an axe, but with a larger head than he'd ever seen before. And the final weapon on display was the largest of all three, starting at the very top of the case and extending all the way to the bottom, pointing down. Somewhere in the back of his head, it named itself with the word 'Zweihänder.' It was a two-handed sword with a no-nonsense hilt, shined and apparently well-cared-for. John had no doubt that, were he to handle that thing and not be very careful, he could hurt himself badly with it.
"I'd not think the books were that interesting," said a voice next to the NSA officer's ear, and Major John Casey nearly jumped out of his shoes. It was Harris, pretty much standing right next to him. It bothered him that the kid had managed to move up on him so silently, even if he was distracted by the presence of the weapons. "John Casey, right?"
"Um, yeah, that's right," John said, trying to regain his equilibrium. And succeeding. He wouldn't be a good operative if he remained shaken for very long.
Xander stepped around John to head into the office. "Could you do me a favor and let the others know that I want to do a basic meet-and-greet after we close?" He offered his hand, which Casey took automatically. "I'm Xander Harris, the new Assistant Manager and all. I wanted to introduce myself to everyone."
"Yeah, sure," John said, once again pretty much automatically. "I'll spread the news around."
"Thanks," Xander said, scooting around John and into the office, muttering something about finding a local locksmith.
* * * *
As the day wound to a close, the man with the eyepatch and the lawyer stepped outside, the former seeing the latter off before coming back inside. Instead of going back to the office, Xander headed to the Nerd Herd desk, which was near the center of the store, to wait for people to filter together after the front doors were locked.
It didn't take long. Normally, the employees of the Buy More were known to dawdle, but on a day with this many shocks in it, their curiosity was high. And so, ten minutes later, all of them were in the area around the desk. Up to and including Big Mike and Emmett, who were both grumbling not-so-quietly under their breaths
Xander hopped up to sit on the Nerd Herd desk, cocked his head to one side, smiled, and said, "Hi! I'm Alexander Harris! I like walks on the beach, the wind in my hair, and people who take care not to come up on me on my blind side!" He wrinkled his nose and continued, "I dislike people who purposely walk up on my blind side, and anyone who makes old Cyclops or Nick Fury jokes at my expense, mostly 'cause I've heard most of 'em before!"
Then he stopped, his lips twitching. It didn't take long before amusement was running through most of the group, who quickly realized that Xander was completely kidding around with them. Unsurprisingly, several of them understood the Nick Fury joke as well.
Once things settled down a bit, Xander went on, turning marginally more serious. "I wanted to break the ice a little before I went on. Like I said, my name is Alexander, but you can call me 'Xander.' It's the name my best friend gave me when we were five, and she couldn't pronounce my full name. If you feel you must, you can call me 'Alex,' but please don't use 'Mister Harris.' That's my father, and not really a memory I'd like to be reminded of."
Kicking his legs a little, he continued, "I'm twenty-seven years old, born and raised here in California, though I have spent some time in several other countries, including England and Japan, so if there are times I end up sounding British, it's unintentional. Probably."
Xander took a breath, and went on. "In terms of interests, I tend to be very much a hands-on person. I generally prefer to work in wood, but I also work in metals too. I'm fascinated by medieval weapons, to the point where I've begun learning to smith them. I am by no means an expert or any kind of Master Swordsmith, but I am gradually working my way there. For those that have spotted them already, the three weapons in my display case are ones that I made myself, yes."
Shifting topics while he still had the attention of his audience, he added, "In addition to working here as Assistant Manager until whatever time Buy More Corporate decides to move me, I'm also a live-in administrator of the local chapter of the Jesse McNally Vocational School. That means that I may occasionally have visitors come in to see me during work hours. They are often anywhere from five to fifteen years younger than I am, and they are often female, as the school seems to mostly take in female students for some reason." He asided, "I'm just mentioning this to indicate that I'm not a 'perv' of some kind if you see a teenager come in to see me. I like to think of myself as the 'cool principal' type, or the teacher that students like to visit even after they get out of school, but I'm not exactly the one who can actually say that without obvious bias."
"That said, I'd like to open the floor to questions. I don't know for certain that I'll be able to answer them, but I'll give it an honest shot, if I can."
With that, he went quiet, to see who, if anyone, had something to ask.
(To Be Continued....)
Author's Notes: The punching dagger is actually a wooden katar, the axe a somewhat-crude battle axe, and the sword is of Japanese influence.
And yes, it doesn't seem like this chapter is complete, does it? Well, that's because it isn't (and why I labeled it 'part 1'). I'd like to offer the opportunity to my reviewers to provide questions for the Buy More employees to ask Xander during the Q&A session. With many thanks to Ted Carroll and Troy Guffey on XanderZone, I wanted to make the offer here too. So, here's the shpiel!
Have you ever wanted to write a fanfic, but never could get up the gumption to do it? (I know I have. For almost the entire time before I started writing this one.) Have you ever wanted to contribute to a favorite fanfic instead of just reading and commenting? Well, here's your chance! Ladies and Gentlemen, and children of all ages 13 and up: what kinds of questions do you think the employees of Buy More should ask of their new Assistant Manager, Xander Harris. Please review and tell me! (And, if you want, even supply who would ask the question!) I can't guarantee I'll actually *use* all of the questions, but I can guarantee I'll certainly consider them!