Mirror Shards: the Conversation

by: Maven Alysse

Buffy the Vampire Slayer story

Summary: Just what Xander had to say to Giles at the end of Mirror Shards (chapter 36).

Mirror Shards: the Conversation

"Giles, can we talk?"

Hearing the seriousness in the young man's tone, Rupert Giles busied himself around the kitchen getting himself a cup of tea and Xander some hot chocolate, instinctively knowing that a hot drink would be comforting. He followed the teen into the living room, handing him his drink, settling himself in his accustomary seat. Xander sat in an armchair, legs curled up beneath him, staring into the depths of his mug.

"Some strange things happened to me while I was away." He paused and Giles remained quiet, not wanting to spook the boy. "I told you that I kept something from the Hyena possession, then again when I encountered Cheshire Cat and how the two kept me from shattering mentally, right?"

Giles nodded, setting his cup down with only the fainest of rattles, brow creased in concern.

"Did I tell you about Halloween?"

"I... I don't believe so," and with a shock, Giles realized that was true. Any repercussions from Halloween had never been discussed.

"You said that an aura like mine meant the person was insane, or had MPD. And you were right." Xander sighed, running a hand over his face. "Guess I should sort of start at the beginning. When I was seven, something so bad happened that I split myself off and hid – creating a mask to hide behind. A joker, who could take what was dished and serve it right back."

He flicked a glance at Giles, but the Watcher stayed silent, afraid any questions or outbursts would stop the revelations.

"Alex kept it up too long. It, the mask – Xander – me – became real and grew out of that role. We couldn't merge back together very easily." He shrugged, rolling the mug between his palms. "The problem was that neither of us were very solid at the beginning, so other things chipped away at us. Little things would happen to send bits and pieces into the ether, bigger things would send out chunks, until Alex and me firmed up some." He heaved a sigh, brows furrowed. "But the pieces and chunks were still out there, making noise, causing problems. Alex spent most of his time hiding beneath the picnic table, sheltered by the weeping willow tree. I just got louder and brasher to drown out the extra voices. We were like that for a very long time Almost got used to it. It got so people forgot how I used to be – so my behavior no longer rang any alarm bells for people. Then we went to the zoo."

Again, Xander fell silent a moment, visibly gathering himself to continue the tale. Giles had one hand clenched tight, trying to reign in his emotions. The teen sighed, now staring up at the ceiling. "Kingugwa, the Hyena, actually scared the fragments, kept them from harassing Alex so much. She adopted him as a cub and, once she finally agreed not to challenge me for the dominant role, decided to help me with protection. Just started to get things settled, then Cheshire Cat came along. He decided to see what could stay with me in order to help." He looked back at Giles, leaning in conspiratorially. "We're both mad, you see, but he had a few coping mechanisms I didn't and he thought I could use them. The problem was that his presence meant that I now thought in Wonderland logic. All my fragments congealed, but instead of merging with either Alex or me, they created their own entity: the Jabberwocky." Xander worried his bottom lip. "It's a bit crowded with the five of us, but since Jabberwock is one, instead of thousands, it's actually easier to concentrate, to 'hear my self think,' so to speak" Xander fell silent again, stretching his feet out in front of him.

Giles picked his cup back up, letting go of his anger at what could have been the cause of Xander's 'split', focusing on the purpose for the conversation, "And the strange things that occurred?"

Taking a sip of hot chocolate, Xander shifted on the cushion. "On Halloween, when the spell was working, I talked with Cheshire Cat. We figured out what might be going on and I got him to agree to protect Dawn while we went to talk with you. As Cheshire Cat, I successfully used several of his tricks – activated a tree portal and traveled through it, did the vanishing grin trick three times, mirror travel, and I used the vorpal blade on Spike. Dawn, who went as Alice, went through the tree portal with me, used the demon dice on some vamps, and the vorpal blade on Ethan, and did mirror travel – once with me and once on her own." Xander paused again, head tilted to the left, "I wonder if she still has any of the skills? Anyway – after the spell ended and I woke back up, the vorpal blade activated when I touched it and I was able to send the severed Jabberwocky claw back through the mirror."

Giles blinked in shock, but said nothing, content to let Xander get the entire story out before responding.

"When Carmichael had me, I kept trying to escape," the teen unconsciously covered his wrists, which had faint scarring from the handcuffs. "He didn't like that too much. Apparently, my last try attracted attention and the house we were in got invaded. I heard gunfire and managed to pull one of my hands through the cuff. A few minutes later, before I could get completely free, Carmichael burst into the room, gun waving wildly. He was going to kill me. I used some of the magic Cheshire Cat had and it kept the bullet from hitting my chest. The pain..." he swallowed thickly, tis throat giving an audible click. "He was aiming again and this time I lashed out. I pulled on the wonderland power that Jaberwocky held. " He looked up at Giles, eyes dark and tragic. "The power broke his neck just as he shot a second time. That one hit my head and caused the amnesia. I killed him, Giles."

Giles put his mug up, rose, and perched on the coffee table in front of Xander. He put the boy's mug aside, firmly grasped both his hands, and looked him squarely in the eye. "Good." At the shocked and confused look, Giles elaborated. "He may have been human, Xander. But he was every bit a monster. I would rather he had died than you. Captain Jim Brass was very illuminating when he told me what had transpired. They are still uncertain as to how Carmichael was killed, though since he knows of vampires, Captain Brass has his suspicions. He is firmly convinced that in such a circumstance, it was clearly a case of self-defense. You have nothing to feel guilty about, Xander. Carmichael was an evil man and you were in an untenable position. What were you trying to do?"

"Push him away. Get him out of the room. It's why I got hit in the shoulder. I pushed his arm far enough off-target. Then, it hurt, Giles, and I couldn't think, and he was aiming at me again, and I was so tired, the Jabberwock reacted, the power was so much stronger."

Giles tightened his grip, bringing Xander out of the memories. "Again. It's not your fault. Carmichael chose his path. You defended yourself with all you could and I am exceptionally pleased. He would have killed you, Xander. You didn't mean to kill him. It happened, but it was an accident."

"So, Captain Brass told you what happened?" Xander's smile was weak, but the look of utter devastation and self-hatred in his eyes had lessened.

"Up to, and including, the situation with Druscilla and the second kidnapping attempt. You should have told me, Xander."

Xander sighed, "I didn't want to worry you any further. Dru told me about the demon in town you and the others were trying to get a handle on. If you were worried about me, you might have missed something important and then we'd all be eaten by an Old One."

Giles echoed the sigh. "I understand your reasoning. I do. But, I want to know about these things. I care about you, Xander. I don't want anything to happen to you."

A faint blush tinged the teen's cheeks. "Thanks."

"Anything else happen?"

"Well, the amnesia actually helped. The Jabberwock finally became an ally, instead of something to fight against like I was used to. So, though I'm still in separate pieces, they're all working for the same goal now. It's nice."

"How many pieces are you in anyway?" Giles asked, curious.

"Five. There's the core, Alex. Me. Kingugua. Cheshire Cat. And Jabberwocky. Kingugua and Cheshire Cat are actually left overs from the possessions. Jabberwocky used to be all the little bits and pieces that had originally been there. On one hand, we don't believe the parts will ever merge again into one single personality but, unless another spell screws things up, there won't be any more fragmenting, either."

"Why do you think that?"

"When I was in Miami and trying to find a way out, Cheshire suggested mirror travel. I wasn't able to send my body through like on Halloween, but I did send my consciousness through. All five of us showed up. We were each able to do things on our own, but we could 'hear' each others' thoughts and feelings, so it was like being in five different places at the same time. Using mirrors, we scared the bejesus outta them both and kept them out of our way long enough to signal for help. Cheshire says that with some practice, we can accomplish those Wonderland tricks we did during Halloween. If nothing else, it should help a lot when slaying."

Instead of replying, Giles shifted to sit beside the younger man and drew him closer with an arm around the boy's shoulders. Xander sighed and sank into the embrace. The two stayed like that for some time, while Giles made mental notes on what he could do to help the teen.