If Wishes Were Horses...
Summery: There is always a sacrifice to be made but not usually one so willing to make it. With so few options and little to hold him Xander gives up all he knows to help a friend, unknowingly stumbling upon some answers to a mystery he has lived with all his life.
Pairings: (These are tentative groupings and are open to changes. If you have a preference or suggestions, feel free to comment.) Xander/Gambit. Andrew/Warren(Archangel). Logan/Oz. Spike/Kurt. Faith/? I would welcome any thoughts for her partner.
... I'd be buried in shite:
It had taken a week for the hunters to find him in the desert plains of Africa. Three of them had almost died for their trouble. The fact that they hadn't gained the respect of their target and the chance to be heard. The man sighed lightly as he listened to the fast paced ramblings of the four young hunters. When they tapered off into embarrassed silences he stood without a sound and quickly packed the essentials. The rest of the camp he left alone, the fire still burning, telling the boys to rest for the night.
"What about you?" the youngest asked.
"They call so I go." was his reply as he faded into the black of the night. When the four boys returned to their respective clans they would brag about how they had shared the camp of such a renowned hunter. Though he was a white man, the Protector of Man had become something of a legend in the plains. The man himself, however, had no clue as to his reputation. As such while he was boarding his flight to civilized England, he was unaware of the many villages mourning the loss of Xander Harris.
He stared at the building for a long time. There was nothing too special about said building, on the outside at least. Inside, there was a bunch of little girls beating the stuffing out of their guardians while gossiping about boys, cloths and other girly topics. Even from his position on the sidewalk, he could faintly hear the squealing giggles of the younger females. The whole feel of the place, rather, the entire isle, was so different from the natural silence of the Plains that he had grown used to. Xander felt more than a little stifled.
With a quiet huff Xander shouldered his bag and resigned himself. His girls had called, so he had come, not even taking the time to clean himself up, much to the mortification of the other passengers of his plane ride. He was wearing his only pair of jeans, the rest replaced but hunting leathers, it was soft and faded to a more white than blue shade of denim, but allowed easy movements while clinging to him like a second skin. The only type of shirt he had left to him was a soft brown leather vest decorated with beads bones and stones, placed in symbolic patterns by a tribal shaman a few years back. He had a matching strip covering eye as his eye patch had broken due to wear and tear years ago. He spared a glance to the tribal tattoos etched into the skin of his arms, clearly on display, and wondered what the girls were going to say. Not that it really mattered. The protections weaved into the patterns guaranteed that he could never remove them. Not to mention that it would insult every tribe each symbol represented to the point where they would kill him on sight.
Heaving a final sigh, Xander ignored the little boy just down the street that was gaping at him, the forgotten cone of ice cream in his hand dripping onto the concrete. He pushed open heavy metal door, which he was happy to see was laced with iron and silver, of the New Watchers Council and made a b-line to the elevators in the back of the lobby.
"Excuse me!" an indignant voice cut through the sounds of happy females and his soft footfalls, stopping his advance. He focused a questioning eye on the prim woman now standing behind the secretarial desk. "Where, may I ask, are you going?"
Her accent was the stiff, upper class British that her two piece skirt suit portrayed her to be. She didn't have the feel of a slayer so she was probably training to be a watcher. To keep from having a Giles-lecture-backlash when the woman complained, Xander decided to play nice.
"Upstairs." Okay, perhaps not terribly nice.
"Only qualified personnel and those with appointments may go past this are. As you are not listed on the schedule, I am going to have to ask you to leave." It was like the stick that had taken up residence in her backside was climbing up further as she spoke. He knew it had been a couple of years since he had shown his face but had it really been so long that he was unrecognizable? He thought the eye-patch for sure would give him away.
"So you don't know me?" He asked, just to be sure.
"I most certainly do not! No woman here would associate with such a ruffian." She spat in disgust. Xander couldn't help it. For the first time in months he laughed. Out loud and unrestrained until his face hurt. The twitch in her left eye as she glared at him made him laugh harder.
"Call Willow," he wheezed between chuckles, "she will tell you who I am."
"I will do no such thing. She is dealing with a very dangerous situation. I will not disturb her for one such as you. No, I must ask you to leave."
He sobered slightly. "Call Willow, or Buffy, or Dawn, or Giles. Whoever."
She scoffed indelicately, "Just knowing their names will not gain my acquiescence. Leave now or I will be forced to call security."
His eye narrowed. "That's fine. Not leaving."
Her scowl was unattractive as she snatched up the phone. "This is Claire." she snapped into the line. "I have a man here who refuses to vacate the building. I need an escort to show him the door." There was silence for a moment then a twisted smile crossed her face. "That will be perfect, thank you."
Claire hung up the phone and gave him a smug expression. He stared back blandly and waited. The total reaction time disappointed him, being a full thirty seconds from call end to the side doors swinging open, and he would have to bring it up to Giles later. The two Slayers, however, made him smirk when he saw who they were.
"How did you get demoted to grunt, Faith? Is Robin grounding you or something?" His voice drew them up short.
"Boy Toy?" the second oldest Slayer whispered.
"Been a while." he grinned at the incomprehension on Claire's face. Faith, however, crowed and rushed him. He barely caught her as she wrapped herself around him and planted a big, sloppy kiss on his mouth. He was proud that he only staggered a few steps. He broke the kiss eventually, when the need for air became desperate. Faith, though, did not unlatch herself, only shifted to tuck her head under his chin.
He adjusted his grip and grinned at the dark-skinned slayer leering at them.
"I see you buffed up some, Chubs."
"I see you haven't lost your blinding charm, Rona." he shot back.
She smile, "Good to see you again. The Red Witch is out of options. I guess she though you might be able to see more."
He nodded, careful not to dislodge Faith, which brought up another question. "Any reason why you turned into Slayer Koala, Faith?"
She tensed slightly but relaxed again when he tightened his grip on her thighs. The two Slayers were impressed that he was bearing all her weight so easily. "Robin cheated then dumped me for her. He said he couldn't handle how uncontrollable I was." Her whispered admission visibly shocked Rona, which prompted Xander to give her a look.
"She's been off for weeks and no one had a clue why. Now you just waltz in and she spills." she glared playfully, Xander just shrugged.
"It's a gift. As for you, Missy," he jostled Faith lightly, "where is this wayward adulterer?"
"Dunno, up and left." she mumbled into his clavicle and he mused on his life's position as a human comfort pillow.
"Well that wont be lasting long." he muttered darkly, "What do you say we find out what Wills needs from me then we raid the ice cream and plan Robins punishment."
She let her legs slid off his hips but clung to his neck, "Sounds like a plan Boy Toy."
He smirked, stooped and hoisted her into his arms, bridal style. His smile grew when she didn't resist, as he wasn't going to let her got until he had to. He resumed his earlier walk to the elevators, only for the same voice to stop him again.
"Just a moment!"her cultured tones had turned shrill, making him cringe. "I called you down here to remove this ruffian, not molest him."
"Remove?" Rona blinked. "Why would we do that? Buffy and willow are the ones that sent for him." Xander relished seeing the woman gape like a fish just a little too much.
"Why would they need someone like him?" now it was the Slayers turn to gape. Both mystically enhanced women looked to Xander for an answer.
"She doesn't know who I am." He shrugged. "Never asked for my name. Bad form far a secretary." the girls snickered as Claire's face went red. Rona decided to fill her in on the facts she was sorely missing.
"Girl, you just insulted Xander Harris. One of the original Scoobies. He is the guy most Slayers fight to have as their Watcher." the red face was quickly palling to grey and he really didn't think that was healthy.
Bored with torturing the new girl, Xander decided to move on. "Whatever Ro, there are plenty of better watchers here. I really don't have the know-how to teach you girls everything you need to know." Rona and Faith looked ready to interrupt but he ploughed on. "Anyways, I have a stressed out witch and a cranky slayer waiting on me for some reason. I suggest we kick on."
That shut them up and Rona even led the way. The left an embarrassed and mortified Claire hiding behind her desk.
In the elevator, Xander finally asked what was bothering him. "So... do either of you know why I am here?"
"They didn't tell you? Why did you get back so fast?" Faith kicked her feet slightly as she stared at him in question.
"You know the drill, they call, or in this case hunt me down, and I run home. If they have to come to me for a problem it is usually something can't, or don't know how, to handle."
"So you just uproot your life on their whims?" Rona asked dubiously. He gave her his best smile.
"Not even. You girls are my life. Everything else is just hobbies." The door pinged, drawing his attention, so he missed the small blush blooming on the two slayers faces. It was only when he reached the doors leading to the council library that he realized that he never got his answer. Rona pushed the doors open for him so he could maneuver without putting Faith down. Seeing his two best friends and Dawn sitting at the table, buried in books, while Giles rummaged through the stacks, Xander was hit with a nostalgia so deep he almost had a flashback. Fighting back the pain, and the sudden need to go buy doughnuts, he fixed a smile on his face.
"Awaken and rejoice fair ladies, and man, for Xan-man the Great graces you with his exalted presence." his voice boomed into the silence of the library in his most pompous tone. He would have bowed flamboyantly if not for the cushy burden in his arms. The three female faces lighting up with smiles was enough to make up for it.
"The title, I believe, is supposed to be Alexander the Great." Giles said in amused exasperation. "It loses something in translation otherwise." Xander frowned slightly. Giles glasses were still on the man's face. That wouldn't do.
"That old blow hard? So he conquered a few countries. He's got nothing on my witty repartee and hugging capacity." Ah, there goes the glasses, and sigh #3; Long-suffering-but-amused. Bonus!
"Speaking of hugging," Buffy cut in with a smirk. "What's with Princess Faith?" Said girl scowled but snuggled in further.
"She swooned at the sight of my ruggedly handsome face, so I decided to do the gentlemanly thing and carry her up. She's very fragile you know." Buffy snorted and Faith smacked his arm lightly, leaving a bruise. Xander grinned unrepentantly. Dawn, however, huffed and stomped up to them.
"That's not fair. I want Xander hugs too."
"Tough luck little D." Faith mocked, "Boy Toy's only got two arms and both are occupied."
"Ladies, please," Xander headed of the impending fight, that might very well involve biting and hair pulling, quickly, "there is enough Xander to go around. Allow me a moment to adjust."
With a yelp, Faith was hoisted up until she was seated on the crook of his elbow, bracing herself on his shoulder. With a casual motion, once he was sure of Faith's balance, he scooped Dawn up into the same position in his other arm. He put on his best innocent face, "Better?"
"Good lord!" Giles breathed.
"Damn, Xander. You went and got all He-Man on us." Rona approved.
"Goddess, are you magically augmented?" willow abandoned her books to come check him over. "Oh my, tattoos even. What were you thinking?"
"Could it be another possession?" Buffy asked casually but he could see the worry in her eyes.
"I'm not possessed or on magical steroids. This is human strength. I have been living in the wilds of Africa for three years, remember? And when I say wilds I mean the wilds, a place where there is no town or village for days in any direction. If I can carry a full grown male antelope over my shoulders, while it is still alive, for four days, I can lift two girls easy."
"Why did you have to carry a live antelope?" Dawn asked.
"There was this ritual and they had to have a live sacrifice. I thought an antelope was better than a kid so I hunted and captured one. The protections will last them about fifty years." he let the girls down gently and traced the oldest swirling pattern o his left bicep. "The chose sacrifice was the Shaman's son, so they gave me this in thanks. Every tattoo is from one tribe or another after I did them some kind of favour, and only a few are from magical tribes. So before you try, no Wills, I can't get rid of them without insulting over half the population of Africa."
Her stern look deflated but both her and Buffy came forward for hugs. It was a good thing the couldn't see the pattern on his back or they might really force him to remove them.
"Not that I mind feeling the love, but what's the problem you need me for?" he let them go reluctantly.
"It's Andrew." Willow answered.
"What's the geek done now?" he asked fondly. His smile slipped when the lot of them exchanged worried glances.
"It started a few weeks ago." Buffy began, "He would zone out in the middle of something and small things would start to change around him. Like this one time the chair I was sitting on turned into a cotton ball. A giant, chair shaped cotton ball. Then everything stopped. We figured it was his magic going wonky b-but then his eyes started bleeding and he...he kept calling out for you... so Willow..." She trailed off and looked helplessly to the witch in question.
The red head picked up the line of conversation, "I put his in a stasis. Keeping him alive but in a- a permanent sleep until we could get you here." she pointed a pale hand to the small body laying on the far couch. The still figure was disturbing to see and Xander had to wonder why they were keeping him in the room. He wondered if Willow had to be close to keep up the spell.
"There was no other solution?"
Dawn shook her head. "We've been looking but it is not magic based. Whatever is happening is apart of him and we think that he was trying to hold it back. That is what was hurting him. What we don't know is why he was calling for you, do you?"
"Not a clue." he whispered breaking away from his girls, "Let's find out, shall we? Wake him up Wills."
She nodded with a sigh of relief as her power finally flowed back into her. Andrew's reactions were sudden and immediate. He shot up in a clear panic, clutching at his head. Wild blue eyes popped open and searched the room frantically, seeing and dismissing each of them in an instant until they settled on the tanned American.
"Xander." his surprisingly hoarse voice breathed out. Said man thought it must be a side effect of the spell.
"Hey buddy, I head you asked for- umph!" he stumbled slightly when the little blonde torpedo ploughed into him. What was with him getting jumped today? He wrapped a supporting arm around the trembling shoulders and led the distraught boy-man back to the couch.
"I'm sorry, so sorry. I tried to hold it back but things kept changing and there was blood and my brain was exploding so I called you because this has to be Anya's revenge and I wanted to say I was sorry before I died but I'm so scared and I'm sorry. So, so, so, so sorry." Andrew babbled on even as the older male gathered him onto his lap. He was a little surprised at the difference in their sizes, but considering the deviation in their living situations these bast years, he shouldn't be so surprised.
He made himself focus on what was more important, "Shh, Andy. It's alright. You're okay. I need you to calm down, Andy. Just breath deep, now." He pitched his voice soft and smooth, rubbing slow circles low on the smaller man's back. The babble tapered off as Andrew got himself under control. "Good boy, that's it. Deep breaths. When you feel ready, I need you to tell me what you sense every time something changes around you. If you can anticipate it than we can help."
Andrew to another deep, shuddering breath. "It-it's like rushing water or a river or something. It f-flows into the object and ch-changes it into what I'm thinking about. I tried to but up a wall but it cracks and it's leaking every where." Xander nodded, he had noticed that his vest had shifted from leather to silk to cotton and was now back to leather again.
"If it is like water then a solid dam is bound to burst. Make your wall out of something strong but flexible. Let it move with your power while holding it." Andrew's eyes were cinched shut as he tried to follow his instructions. The un-tensing of most of his muscles told Xander that it had worked, somewhat. "That's it, good. Now I want you too envision a deep pit right up against that wall. Make it so deep that you cant see the bottom. Do you see it?" a small nod against his chest. "Good. Now make a hole in you wall, a small one, just above the pit. Let the power pour in like a water fall, let it fill until the amount behind the wall is the same as in the pool. Do you feel it? That balance? Hold onto that feeling. When you use your power, take from the pool. When you feel that pressure grow again, regain that balance. If it increases past that, make the pool a little bigger until you recover yourself. Feel better?"
Andrew sprawling, boneless, in his arms gave him his answer. He knew this was only a temporary fix and they would need help to teach him full control. Obviously no one here could do it but he knew who could point him in the right direction.
"Way to go Xander." Buffy congratulated, happy for the latest crisis averted. He shook his head sadly.
"It is not over yet Buff." he took a deep breath. "I, Alexander Lavelle Harris, do summon the Demon Lord D'Hoffryn as the sole heir of the last will of Anyanka, Patron Saint of Scorned Women, to call in the debts owed her." His voice rang through the shocked silence. The stale smell of sulphur told of his success.
"Finally!" The horned demon burst out. "Do you know how embarrassing it is to be in the dept of a human.? Be more selfish boy! Call in her markers faster. Now, what can I do for you today?" His sweet tone was marred by the shark grin that showed far too many teeth.
"Do you know of a place where Andrew can get help? Training?"
The Demon Lord scowled. "You and your selflessness. Yes I know of a world. There are plenty of others like him with different powers. I can't just send him though, your markers have to impact you personally. You can't just use them all willy-nilly for other people."
"Don't worry. I'm not leaving him alone." D'Hoffryn's face lit up like fluorescent light.
"Let's talk numbers then. Eight markers."
Xander snorted. "Not even. Two."
"Robbery! Six, at least."
"I know what it took to get these markers. Two."
"Damn that girl and her pillow talk. Five."
"That was tame compared to pillow talk. Still Two."
"Four. It's a bargain!"
Xander seemed to think about it, ignoring the swivelling heads of his friends, "Three and a vengeance wish. That is as far as I'll go."
"Deal," he beamed, knowing that the demon had gotten the better of the deal, "now who is the lucky victim?"
"The wish is pending, for Faith against Robin in tribute to Ahn. When she knows what she wants then it takes affect, though I do have a suggestion."
"Let's hear it." D'Hoffryn waved impatiently.
"This is a guy who complained she was uncontrollable. I say make his body rebel. Reverse his reactions in certain areas. When he is excited or turned on, leave him as limp as a noodle. When he is trying to be intimidating or serious, have him raging like a preteen with their first porno mag."
"Vicious and horribly mortifying. I like it. You know there are a few positions open in my realm if you are ever looking for a job." Xander's bland look mad the demon sigh. "Ah, well. The punishment suit you slayer?" He turned on Faith who, like the others, was more than a little lost.
"Done. Black Boy Wonder now has more hormone problems than a bus full of choir boys in a gay strip joint."
Xander nodded his thanks and focused on his girls. "Sorry Faith. It looks like I'm gonna have to cancel the ice cream binge."
"But why?" she whispered, unsure of what was happening.
"You know the drill. Can't really leave the dweeb alone in this, now can I? Look, I doubt I have long-" and annoyed huff from the Lord verified the statement, "so know that I love all of you and remember to take care of each other. G-man keep my girls alive." the older man nodded solemnly, resting firm hands on the thin shoulders of Buffy and Willow.
"You sure about this?" His blonde best friend asked quietly.
"Did you know you were?" he glanced significantly at Dawn. Buffy sighed and hugged her crying sister.
"I'll get you back." Willow swore. "I will find you and bring you home."
"Not a chance sweetheart." D'Hoffryn burst her bubble. "Dimensional transference is a dangerous business. To let the kid go along with him is going to cost the brat. His ties to this world will be severed and reformed there. Spiritually he will belong to that world. You may bring him back but he will never be comfortable here, never fit like he once did."
The life in her eyes was snuffed out like a flame. Hating it Xander did what he always did for his girls, gave them hope. "Don't forget Wills, I may have a different home but I still want to see you all again. Find a way to let us visit each other."
The red-head had joined in the crying but he could see that beloved spark returning as he gigantic brain tackled the issue and he smiled.
"Now that the sappy crap is over," D'Hoffryn decided to cut off any more interruptions, "time for you to go. This will hurt quite a bit."
The shark smile was back and when Xander heard those bony fingers snap his reality dissolved into two all encompassing feelings. Soul cutting agony and a biting cold.
Scott! the sudden mental call startled the team leader. The papers in his hands spilling to the floor.
Gather the X-Men. An Omega level mutant just manifested a short distance from here. Scott was already moving, others joining him as he passed.
Two minds, both in pain. Due to the power level, I can not decipher which on is the Omega class. They do not, however, seem hostile. Approach openly but with care.
Hank is already waiting in the jet.
A/N: That is chapter one for you lot. Hope you enjoy and I am still working on my other stories so do not panic... or lynch me, as the case may be. Like I said before , I have a lot of stories to get typed in various stages of completion so updates with usually come as inspiration hits me. I hope this story is as well received as the others.