Title: Emerald Dreaming (1/1)
Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.
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: The Dreaming crosses time and space and even alternate realities. An Emerald Flame story.
Author's Note: This story was written with Tenhawk's approval.
Egeria looked around. She stood in front of a towering building on what looked like the streets of Sunnydale. In the distance, she could see savannahs and jungles at the edge of the town. She looked down and found herself looking at a very human, very female body. The back of her mind was free of the constant presence of the host mind whenever she took control.
What on Earth was going on?
She looked up and saw her current host slouched against a wall, flanked by three other figures.
"Alexander, where are we?" she asked.
He shrugged. "I don't know if it has any other name, E," he said, waving a hand in an arc around him, "but welcome to my dream world. We're standing in front of a representation of the Metropolis Watchtower, in case you were wondering what this building is."
"If this is your dream world, then how am I here?"
"Well, you are in my head, remember?"
"All right," she said, nodding. She could accept that. She pointed at the other figures standing with him and asked, "So who are they?"
Xander sighed and gestured to each in turn. "E, meet Alpha, Sarge, and the Slayer. The, uh, consequences of previous... events. They're why I started meditating to begin with and learned how to access the dream world. I couldn't properly control the ring until I could properly control them."
"The Slayer?" Egeria stared at the dark-skinned primitive. Her eyes narrowed, and she looked at Xander, cocking an eyebrow. "Care to explain how the Slayer could possibly have a presence in a male mind?"
He shrugged and said, "What can I say, E? Like Buffy said, I'm just one of the girls." He could feel her stare at him, and he went on, "Funnies aside, there were two instances I can think of that would have caused her to show up: an Enjoining spell and me bringing Buffy back to life the first time. My money's on the Enjoining spell, but I did seem to get a bit tougher after bringing her back to life."
"You do realize how insane that sounds?"
"Why should I care how sane I sound when the only one who can hear me is a bit of uppity fishbait wrapped around my spine who knows perfectly well what I'm talking about?"
He ignored the glare she sent his way, and after a moment, she gave up. "All right, fine. So, why are we here?"
The dreamscape warped around them as Xander answered with one word, a dangerous glint in his eyes.
Xander followed his mentor through the Dreaming. Once again, they were exploring other worlds, other dreams. However, it was proving especially difficult to focus at the moment. The current situation with the Knighthood was... distracting, to put it mildly, and his thoughts kept drifting.
Building a global organization to save the world was harder than it looked.
He paused as something attracted his attention, and per the rules of the Dreaming, he was drawn to it even as he observed it. It was another him, fighting in a free-for-all with Alpha, Soldier Boy, and two women he didn't recognize. He stealthily maneuvered for a better look at the two women. One was a primitive, dark-skinned, and the way she moved was... familiar, somehow. The other moved with a subtle yet powerful grace that only came with centuries - or millenia - of experience.
"E, we've got company!"
'E'? It can't be... he thought in surprise... moments before he was dogpiled.
Elanthielle's voice drifted down from above, laced with laughter, "Oh, Alexander, what am I going to do with you?"
"I... have heard of the Kine'Iende," Egeria said quietly, "but the goa'uld of our universe never encountered them, or if we have, it has been lost even to our memory."
"You're wrong," the Knight Commander said, shaking his head. "You are Kine, Egeria. You are part of the Knighthood. Anyone who chooses to take a stand, to say 'no more' and fight for what's right is a part of it. And that includes both of you."
The Tok'ra queen swallowed hard and nodded. "Thank you."
He shook his head and added, "Still doesn't make it any less weird that there's an actual Green Lantern Corps out there."
"How do you think I feel?" the other Xander snorted. "It was just supposed to be a Halloween costume, then an artifact from another dimension. There's gotta be an explanation."
"Speaking of explanations," Commander Harris segued, jerking a thumb at the Slayer spirit, "what's her story?"
Green Lantern Xander pursed his lips and sighed. "Well, have you ever had to go up against a demon-human cyborg with a nuclear reactor in his chest?"
"I'm worried about Buffy," Xander - the Green Lantern - said abruptly.
His Kine alternate frowned at him and said, "She's strong, man. You, me, we both know that."
"I've seen her break, other me," Xander said quietly. "I've seen what years in this life can do to her. I've seen her die four times, and I'm really not interested in finding out if five is the lucky number. She never wanted this life. She dreams of being normal, and I'm trying to give that to her... I can give that to her. And instead, she dresses up like Black Canary and patrols with Cordy."
"Black Canary?" The other Xander's head perked up.
"Fishnets and all?"
"Mind out of the gutter, boyo," he snorted. "It was Willow's idea." It took Xander a few seconds to realize that, if anything, that would have sent the other Xander's mind further into the gutter.
"Hmm..." the other Xander mused exaggeratedly. He smirked and said, "Seriously, though, I'll tell you what I told my Buffy. She may dream of being normal, having a normal job, getting married, having two point five kids and a white picket fence, but you know what those normal people dream of?"
Xander shrugged and said, "I dunno. Being special? Making a difference?" He paused and considered it a bit more, then added thoughtfully, "Having superpowers and saving the world? Being a hero?"
"Exactly. They dream of being her. And from what you're telling me, deep down, where she won't admit it, even to herself, your Buffy knows that."
Xander sighed and leaned back. "I guess you're right. This talk's been good for me, man. Thanks." He paused, then asked, "How about you? Things going okay on your end?"
"Well... mostly," Commander Harris answered.
Green Lantern's eyebrow quirked up. "Something I can help with?"
"The Knighthood consists of the best we can find," he said, "but we need the best of the best. You know how it is." He grinned. "After all, you've worked with the Justice League."
"True," he agreed. "So what's the problem?"
"The Cadre's having trouble adapting," the Commander admitted. "They're still dividing themselves; they're not working together. There's just too much bad blood between some of them, and others have preconceptions they can't seem to get over."
"So..." GL Xander mused, "what you have is a teamwork problem. They don't trust each other. And you can't just break them down and build them back up the way modern militaries do; you'd lose that special something you recruited them for." He shrugged. "Easy answer. Kick their asses."
"You're not the first to suggest that."
"Well, it's a tried and true answer," Green Lantern shrugged. "Nothing unites people quite like a common enemy. So kick their asses. More importantly, you need to humiliate them. Hit them in their pride - which is probably one of the biggest reasons you're having this problem to begin with - and make them work together to save face. It's either that, or throw them in the deep end and hope they get out alive."
"You know, I've never heard it explained quite like that. I'll have to think on it."
"Glad to help. Though one thing does worry me."
"What?" his alternate asked.
He shrugged nonchalantly and nodded to one side. "Well, E's been over there with Elan while we've been talking, and they've been awfully quiet. Now, I dunno about you and Elan, but E's only in my head for the short-term."
The other Xander froze like a deer in the headlights, and he slowly turned his head to look at where their respective headmates were quietly chatting. The two women looked over at them and giggled before turning back to their conversation. His only verbal response was a long-suffering "Oh, no."
As I said above, this story was written with Tenhawk's approval.