Title: Emerald Moon (2/2)
Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at .net/u/62966 or .net/~cyclone
Rating: Just a little bad language.
Spoilers: Anything and everything.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to other people. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: Xander may have memories of the future, but there are still more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in even his philosophy. Part three of Emerald Flame.
Author's Note: I still have trouble believing I'm actually including this crossover.
Rebecca Baxter awoke to a squealed chorus.
"Ow! Hey, seriously, is anyone going to bother explaining what Tara was pissed at me about last night?"
Rebecca's curiosity was piqued. Clearly, she had missed something important. Something involving her daughter. As her eyes fluttered open, though, another thought struck her.
Why am I not dead?
"Hey, Miss B," Xander said, quickly sidestepping the two outraged girls - Buffy and Willow, Rebecca noted - and coming up to the side of her bed. "You gave us quite a fright back there. Docs say it looked worse than it was, though."
"I-I'll get Tara," Willow stammered as she made her way to the door. Tara had gone to get something to eat a few minutes earlier, just before Xander arrived.
"What happened?" she croaked out.
"I'll get you some water," Buffy said, stepping into the attached bathroom.
"Not much. " Xander shrugged. "Tara put the ring to good use, Buffy wrecked Cordy's car, and I blew up the street in front of the house."
"You what?!" she sputtered, reflexively trying to sit up until Xander gently pushed her back down.
"Hey, you need rest," he said. With his other hand, he plucked the cup of water from Buffy's hand and held it to her lips. "Here, drink." She greedily complied, the water doing wonders to her dry throat. "I just swung by to check up on you before I left," he said.
"You're leaving?" demanded a voice from behind him.
Xander frowned and turned. That wasn't Willow or Buffy's voice...
"Yeah, Tara," he said, a little surprised at who he found glaring at him. "Just some business to take care of."
"What sort of business?" she asked, fists on hips, eyes narrowed.
He shrugged. "Someone trying to kill me for no apparent reason. You know, same old same old. Though I think it's just some sort of misunderstanding this time."
"You are not going."
"Tara, did you miss the 'trying to kill me' part?" Xander asked. "They're good. Just one of them nearly took me out, and my best intel suggests there are seven or eight more. And more than that, they're persistent. As in 'magical vow' persistent. I'm hoping to get this straightened out non-violently, but that's not gonna happen if I wait for them to come to me."
"Then I'm going with you."
"No, you're not."
"I have a ring, too."
"That's not the point," Xander said, shaking his head. "Showing up with reinforcements is just going to put them on edge, make a fight more likely. If it does turn violent, I'm heading right back here, and I'll need everyone ready to save my skin if it comes to that. Besides, someone needs to stay here to protect your mother. Buffy and Willow aren't up to it."
"Hey!" Buffy snapped, offended.
"Faith can-" Tara began to argue.
"Tara," Rebecca's voice cut in, ending the discussion.
Tara growled and stormed out of the room, Buffy and Willow not far behind her.
Xander groaned. Damn it. One day, I am going to figure women out...
He paused at that thought.
...and then the world will probably end, he admitted.
"She cares about you, you know."
"I know," he nodded, not turning around.
"I suspect, Xander, that she even lo-"
"Don't," he interrupted. "Stop playing matchmaker. That's not going to happen, and I already told you why." That said, he left.
Rebecca huffed in annoyance and sank back into her bed.
"Nice place," Xander commented as he and Egeria - still in Setsuna's body - entered the apartment. Cortana had tracked down the address from Setsuna's name.
"But this isn't a home." Egeria frowned.
"No," Xander agreed. "It isn't." The apartment was too clean. While it was furnished and was stocked with food and clothing, it didn't feel lived in.
This may have been where she slept, but it clearly wasn't where she lived.
A search of the apartment turned up nothing of interest, not even so much as a calendar or cell phone.
"Well," Xander sighed, "I guess we'll be hitting up Giles's friend."
"Who is it, anyway?"
"A Doctor Mizuno Saeko," Xander answered. He cocked an eyebrow as Setsuna's eyes grew unfocused for a moment. "What is it?"
"Mizuno," Egeria answered. "Setsuna recognized the name. I think she knows her."
"Well," Xander muttered darkly, "isn't that convenient?"
Ever since Buffy's first death, he had held a special dislike of destiny and fate... and this stank of it.
"You stay here, E," Xander said. "I don't want to tip our hand just yet."
"You don't trust him?"
"I trust him," Xander disagreed. "I don't trust her. I can't trust someone I haven't met, and besides, there could be someone else there when we find her, someone who might recognize Setsuna and might not be on our side." His face darkened, and he added, "Besides, he's betrayed our trust before."
Mizuno Ami frowned. The Mercury Computer was blinking.
When she had left for Toudai, she had installed a security system in her home, just in case the Senshi's enemies somehow tracked her down. It was a threat none of them had ever really considered back then, but she was no longer the naive little girl she had been all those years ago. None of them were. It had been a miracle in and of itself that they had all survived... well, mostly. Having the power of the Ginzuishou at their command had its advantages.
The blinking on the Mercury Computer indicated the sensors had picked up a new aura, one that it didn't recognize. It was probably just another one of her mother's colleagues or old friends... but it never hurt to be sure. She played back the recording.
"Doctor Mizuno? My name is Xander." The voice was oddly stilted, the Japanese almost archaic in some of the word structure.
"Ah, Ripper's friend. How is Ripper these days? I wasn't expecting you here so soon," her mother said, stepping out of the way and waving her guest in. "Come in, come in."
The man hesitated and said, "Giles is doing well, ma'am, but... uhh, not to be rude, but... it's a really bad idea to invite someone in after dark."
"Just... trust me on that, okay?" he said, entering the living room and taking a seat on the couch.
"Okay. Would you like something to drink?"
"No, thank you."
Ami's frowned deepened. The cameras were hidden and well-placed, but it was like this stranger knew where they were. She couldn't even see so much as a profile of him.
"I understand you're working on a research paper?"
"Something like that. I'm doing some research on the Sailor Senshi."
Ami felt her heart skip a beat.
Her mother's eyebrow hiked up. "The Senshi? What for?"
"I'm looking for them. I have a... rather difficult situation, and I think they can help. It's nothing dangerous. Well, not for them unless they want to make it dangerous, anyway. I just... I need their help."
"That's awfully cryptic, young man."
The young man twisted his head and looked right at the camera. "I wasn't talking to you."
The two walked up to the camera, and Ami heard her mother sigh as she turned the camera over in her hands.
"My daughter, the voyeur," her mother deadpanned. She looked into the camera and said, "You will call me when you see this, Ami, and we will be discussing this."
"Mind if I take this off your hands?" the young man asked, plucking the camera out of her hands.
"Not at all."
The signal went dead.
"This is definitely Alteran technology," Xander declared as he handed the camera over to Egeria. "The gaudy color scheme is new, though."
"Alteran?" Egeria cocked Setsuna's head to the side.
"The Ancients," Xander clarified.
She nodded and said, "That puts a new spin on things."
"Yeah," Xander agreed. After a moment, he shook his head. "There's got to be some sort of explanation. Those miniskirts can't be Alteran."
Egeria paused, Setsuna's eyes going unfocused for a moment, and she cocked an eyebrow. "Apparently, some of the Alterans had rather... peculiar... proclivities."
Xander shook his head and sighed. "The more I know, I more I realize I was better off not knowing."
"If I have to suffer, so do you," she shot back. After a moment, she asked, "So what's the plan now?"
"Now?" Xander shrugged. "Now, we wait. Whoever planted that camera, whether it's Doctor Mizuno's daughter or not, must be connected to the Senshi. They'll likely call a meeting, and they'll figure out who's missing. Odds are, they know this address."
"So, they'll come... here."
"Armed to the teeth and probably trigger-happy, you realize that, right?"
He shrugged. "I never said it was a good plan."
"It's been four days."
"There's no indication they even know we're here."
"We're also out of doughnuts."
That broke Xander out of his mood. He turned and half-rose from where he was sprawled on the couch. "We are?"
Egeria rolled Setsuna's eyes at his reaction. "This is getting us nowhere."
"Well, I guess we go to Plan B."
"What's Plan B?"
He held up the camera he had taken from the Mizuno home and said, "We talk to the camera."
The Senshi were worried. It had been days since the mysterious man had contacted them through Ami's mother. Did he know all their identities? What was he waiting for?
Luna, naturally, assumed he was a threat. Haruka and Michiru agreed with her. The Inners weren't quite so sure. After all, Luna had yet to be right so far in unilaterally declaring someone a threat. Makoto thought he looked cute, Minako disagreed, the latter had Usagi convinced he was a good guy after all, and Rei decided Usagi was an idiot if she was using that as an indicator of his good intentions.
Finally, Ami had other things to worry about. While her mother had her practice, and she had her studies, she wasn't far enough away to insulate herself from her mother's wrath. Grounding her was pointless - at Toudai, even someone as smart as Ami had to study almost constantly, leaving little time for anything else - but the dark look on her mother's face as they discussed the matter had promised misery in the future.
So when the Mercury Computer beeped and blinked while she was buried in her textbooks, it took several minutes for it to pierce through her concentration. She frowned and activated it. She paled as the mystery man appeared in the screen.
And sitting behind him was Setsuna.
"Hi, it's me again, Ami," he said, waving jauntily. "You don't mind if I call you that, do you? I've got a problem, mostly related to your friend behind me. I was hoping we could meet, get this straightened out?"
The actor stretched out on the balcony of his hotel room and leaned back. It had been a fairly exhausting press tour with a major investor, and he was glad to have the chance to relax and watch the fireworks.
He frowned as his gaze tracked the lights flashing across the night sky back to their source: Tokyo Tower. He rose to the edge of his balcony and squinted.
"Well, that's something you don't see every day," he mused aloud.
The Sailor Senshi running across Tokyo Tower, taking magical potshots at... he took a sharp breath.
A Green Lantern? I didn't think any of them survived.
All right, this could have gone better... Xander thought as he dodged another blast of... glowing golden chains?
The meeting had started out well enough, but as it was said, no plan survived first contact with the enemy. Though, in this instance, the "enemy" was a group of girls with miniskirts and terrifying amounts of magical energy to toss around. Perhaps mentioning that Sailor Pluto had tried to kill him hadn't been the smartest decision.
"Stand still so we can kill you!" snarled the red-skirted fire thrower.
"Do you know how stupid that sounds, you pyromaniac?" he demanded, ducking under her latest flame attack, only to shoot up under her defense and glare at her from six inches away... before throwing himself back to avoid an energy blast shaped like a miniature ringed planet.
About the only one who wasn't attacking him was their leader, who seemed to be shouting at both sides. Xander was a little too busy trying to stay alive to pay attention.
These girls are really starting to irritate me, Xander thought as he snapped off a fire hose connection point and doused some of the girls with a blast of water before the automatic cutoff kicked in.
They shrieked and recoiled, covering themselves reflexively at the dousing and chorusing, "PERVERT!"
"Damn it, I'm a good guy!" Xander complained. "Don't any of you ladies read comic books?"
"He's right, you know."
"Yeek!" Sailor Moon shrieked, recoiling away from the voice that had been uncomfortably close, nearly falling off the tower. A strong arm grabbed hers and arrested her descent before she lost her footing.
"Hey, you should be more careful."
She blinked. "Who are you?"
"Kevin Sorbo," he said with an easy smile as he helped her regain her balance. He looked up at where the young man continued to dodge the Senshi's attacks. "And he's right. The... legend of the Green Lantern Corps predates the comic books by millenia, even if it is pretty obscure, and they always fought for freedom and justice. So, just what are your friends fighting for?"
Sailor Moon simply gaped. Hercules had saved her. HERCULES!
Concerned, Kevin waved his hand in front of her face, "Are you okay?"
After a moment, she found her voice and nodded. "Yeah." She squared her shoulders and glared out at where the other Senshi were still hurling attacks at Green Lantern. "Stop it!" she ordered.
Her voice resonated with command. This was not the crybaby, Tsukino Usagi. This was Princess Serenity.
The Senshi stopped and turned.
"Thank you!" Green Lantern called as he landed by them, away from the other Senshi. "Finally, someone who's willing to listen to reason."
Kevin looked at him and asked, "So, what did you do to piss off the Sailor Senshi?"
He shrugged. "Apparently, some of them object to my saving the world."
Kevin blinked. "Um, isn't that supposed to be a good thing?"
"That's what I said!"
"That's ridiculous!" Sailor Mars retorted. "We save the world! We'd like all the help we can get!"
"Well, somebody put a damned geas on Pluto to protect some half-frozen future in which a good five or six billion people die!" Xander snapped, his patience frayed. "And I need your help to find whoever did it so we can free her from it!"
Sailor Moon paled.
"I did," she said quietly. "I told her to protect the future. I told her to protect Chibi-Usa."
"Well?" Xander asked.
Egeria nodded. "The geas is lifted."
They were all in Kevin's hotel room. The Senshi were everything from embarrassed and apologetic (Sailors Moon and Mercury) to starry-eyed and flirtatious (Sailors Jupiter and Venus) to hostile and suspicious (Sailors Uranus, Neptune, and Mars).
"So, what now?" Sailor Moon asked.
"Now," Egeria said, striding over to Xander, "I return to my friend and leave yours under her own control." Xander rose to his feet and leaned down, his lips meeting Setsuna's in a soft kiss. He closed his eyes as he felt Egeria slither down his throat... and blinked as he felt Setsuna's arms and one of her legs wrap around him. The kiss deepened, but after a long moment, oxygen became an issue.
"I think you can stop kissing him now," Kevin said, amusement dancing in his eyes.
Setsuna broke the kiss and smiled seductively. "We'll finish this later," she promised.
Xander gulped and nodded, not trusting his vocal chords. He steadfastly ignored the laughter echoing in his mind.
Damn, she's hot, he thought. He idly wondered if the carpets matched the drapes...
Play your cards right, E interjected, and she just might show you.
"Let's go," Setsuna said, striding for the door. The other Senshi rose and followed, Sailor Moon lingered for a moment. She took Xander's hands into hers and looked him in the eyes.
"Thank you," she said simply, then turned and followed her fellow Senshi out.
As the door closed behind them, Kevin shook his head and headed to the minibar. Pouring out two shots of bourbon, he offered one to Xander. "You look like you could use this."
"Thanks," Xander mumbled, accepting the drink. Egeria would metabolize it before it became a problem.
"So," Kevin said, leaning back, "I didn't think any of the rings survived."
"As far as I know, none of them did," Xander answered cryptically with a shrug. "So, what's your story, big guy? Why is my ring reading nearly as much power in you as in any one of those magical girls?"
"I don't suppose you'd believe me if I told you I was just an actor, would you?"
Xander rolled his eyes. "My ring's reading enough power in you to give Orion a run for his money, and he's a... literal... new god..." he trailed off in realization.
All those "modern day" episodes were now starting to make sense.
Kevin winced and said, "Well, I guess you've figured out my secret."
"Man," Xander muttered, "and I thought Superman's disguise was lame." He paused as a thought occurred to him. "Speaking of gods in disguise, Herc, I don't suppose you know anything about a hell goddess name Glorificus?"
Kevin went very still. "Where did you hear that name?"
Another dead end, Xander thought sourly. Kevin knew Glorificus, what she was, what she wanted, why she had to be stopped. But he didn't know who her human host was.
As he flew back across the Pacific, Xander considered the ramifications of what would happen if he did find Glory. If he did eliminate her, then the monks wouldn't send the Key to Buffy to be protected. And Dawn would never come to exist.
Maybe it's better this way.
"Suspended?" Xander blinked.
"That's right, Harris," Snyder said, grinning nastily.
Xander shrugged. "Okay."
"'Okay'?" Willow shrieked, hyperventilating. "Xander, you've been suspended!"
"I heard the troll, Will," he answered as he headed out, Willow trailing behind.
"Why you little..." Snyder growled.
"What are you going to do?" Willow asked.
Xander shrugged again. "Get my GED. Fondly cherish the memory of Snyder getting eaten at graduation. Probably save the world a few times. See if maybe Snyder will get eaten again this time around."
Behind them, the balding principal paled and stumbled to a halt.
"Besides, Will, there are some people I really need to touch base with," Xander added. "By the way, do you know if Marshall's in DC right now?"
"The President?" Willow blinked. "Um, I think he's at Camp David, actually, why?"
"Xander," Willow said, coming to a stop, "why are you asking where the President is?"
"No reason," he said. "See ya, Will."
Xander jogged off. Willow blinked, then charged after him, calling out, "Xander!"
He was already flying off into the distance when she saw him, causing her to growl and stomp her foot, muttering, "Boys."
He wouldn't be Xander if he wasn't aggravating someone.