Disclaimer: I do not own the characters that I am about to mangle around for my own purposes. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Charmed remain the property of their respective creators I am merely borrowing them.
~~~///~~~Chapter FourHarris Residence
The repeated, insistent electronic bleeping of his alarm clock roused Xander out of the deep, mildly uneasy sleep into which he’d slipped the evening before. Groaning softly he opened his eyes and glared at the offending device and the flashing red numerals that proclaimed for the world to see that it was seven am and thus time for him to get up and start his day. For a moment he considered silencing the alarm and then just going back to sleep but quickly dismissed that thought as he was technically still on probation with his job and thus couldn’t afford to be late for work for anything other than a major emergency. Not if he wanted to keep his job and the steady income it represented, income he would need if he was to buy and run an apartment of his own.
Sighing softly he threw off the bedclothes and got up, swatted the alarm clock silencing the incessant bleeping before stretching for a few moments as his muscles had cramped up somewhat during the night. It wasn’t that surprising as last night’s sleep had not exactly been a peaceful one; instead he’d been tormented by dreams both of Anya killing him in various different but all unpleasant ways and of a dark place that resonated with evil and fear. While the former dreams were new and deeply, deeply disturbing the latter dream was anything but new.
Many times in his life he had dreamed of the dark, evil place. A place with walls and floors of dark brown stone, lit only by fire pits and braziers with demonic creatures everywhere – some of whom looked as human in the same way that vampires could look completely human while still being a demon on the inside. But until very recently the dream had lacked any context which – after he’d learned the truth about Sunnydale being built literally on top of a doorway to hell – had often led him to speculate to himself that he was dreaming of the vamp and demon infested caves and tunnels hidden beneath the seeming suburban paradise of Sunnydale.
But now that he thought about it, and knowing what he knew now about his past, he realised that the dream wasn’t a dream at all but a memory. And it wasn’t a memory of the caverns and passages that honeycombed beneath Sunnydale like a malignant rabbit warren he was pretty sure that the closest he’d ever come to those tunnels was when he bullied Angel into taking him to the Masters cave to save Buffy three years ago. Going on what Paige had said last night he was willing to bet that the images from the dream were memories of the Underworld where he’d spent the first two years of his life being bombarded by spell after spell as the Source himself tried every dark magic trick in the book – and probably a fair few that weren’t,
he thought ruefully – to turn him into an agent of evil instead of the force for good that he’d been born to be only to meet with failure again and again.
Mentally Xander shook himself and pushed aside the thoughts on the dream that wasn’t a dream at all but dark echoes of his own past before starting to walk across the basement he had a day of work to get ready for there would be time to think about the past later. He moved as quietly as he could to avoid disturbing Spike as the platinum blond vampire was sprawled out asleep on his couch – an empty bottle of whiskey purloined from his parents’ drinks cabinet clutched in one hand and a few empty blood bags on his chest.
Pausing he gazed at the snoring vampire for a few moments and despite his intense hatred of the bloodsuckers he couldn’t help but feel a familiar stir of pity for Spike and the circumstances the hundred odd year old master vampire found himself in. The Initiative should have just dusted him and not stuck that thing in his head it would have been far less cruel. And why do we keep him around? Buffy should just stake him and put the walking corpse out of his misery,
he thought again not for the first time since the Scoobies had first become aware of the government commandos prowling the night time streets of Sunnydale capturing vampires and demons for some nebulous purpose that they still didn’t know.. Though Xander himself was willing to bet it had something to do with the government wanting to use the supernatural for military purposes as if they didn’t have enough weapons already.
Shaking his head both at what the Federal government was likely really up to here in Sunnydale and whatever bizarre thought process had resulted in Buffy sparing Spikes life – or rather unlife – instead of reducing the vamp to grimy powder, he resumed walking towards the stairs. He was just starting up them when he heard the sound of raised voices from the kitchen directly over his head. Huh they’ve started early today
he thought recognising the voices as being those of Jessica and Tony Harris in the throng of a full blown verbal brawl.
Xander paused to listen for a few moments and soon determined that the pair of drunken louts over who should go to work on time and who should stop by the liquor shop first before heading into their own job. Great just great those useless pair of drunks have to have the usual argument now,
he thought resisting the impulse to beat his head against the wall in annoyance. Since the stairs from the basement opened into the kitchen he knew there would be no way for him to get past them and to the bathroom without having to endure a barrage of vitriol from both Tony and Jessica and possibly having to dodge a thrown bottle or two. Meaning it was very unlikely he would be able to have a decent shower before work as he knew from experience that these fights could last anywhere from minutes to literally hours only ending when one or more of the participants stormed out.
Sighing he closed his eyes for a moment and thought about the shower and how nice its water jets on his clammy skin would have felt and abruptly felt something happen deep within him. A pulse of power, of magic, that surged for from deep within the very fibres of his being and spread throughout his body bringing with it a strange lightness, the wooden steps beneath his feet vanished and for a few seconds he knew nothing beyond a feeling of being both insubstantial and moving. Then he felt the cheap linoleum tiles of the bathroom floor form beneath him and the sensations vanished and the tingle of magic faded away.
Xander opened his eyes blinked before looking around in total surprise. Somehow he had been nearly instantaneously teleported from the basement steps to the middle of the bathroom. Shock and disbelief immobilised him for a moment before understanding dawned and he realised just what had happened, how he’d gotten here. I..I orbed,
he thought recalling what little Paige had said about whitelighters and witch-whitelighter powers last night in particular how she’d mentioned a magical teleportation ability that they had called orbing. An ability that he’d just reflexively tapped into to transport himself here without risking an encounter with Jessica and Tony – who he could faintly here still shouting at the top of their lungs.
“Whoa now that’s cool,” he said softly before turning around and locking the bathroom door before beginning his normal morning routine.
He was just about to get into the shower when two thudding impacts echoed through the house, impacts that sounded like their much abused front door slamming shut. Guess the arguments over or at least put on hold till later,
he thought knowing from the sudden silence in the house that Tony and Jessica had stormed out, presumably one to go straight to work the other to go to the liquor store first. Which meant that he’d get some much needed peace and quiet while he had his breakfast. Though not for the first time he found himself wondering just how his 'parents' managed to hold down their jobs as they were often drunk and frequently late due to trips for more booze any company he knew would have kicked the pair of them to the curb years ago. Maybe the Source's minions have something to do with it,
he thought before shrugging as it didn't really matter. Soon he'd be out of here as while she might be a demon out to spy on him and the other Scoobies for the Source, and wouldn't hesitate to kill him if she found out he knew what he really was, Anya was right about one thing, he needed a place of his own.
Mentally he shook off the thoughts on Anya – if he thought too much about her, what she really was and how she was playing with his emotions as part of her mission for the Source – he'd end up brooding and there was no way on this Earth that he was going to channel deadboy for anything let alone the ensouled vampires penchant for trying to out Batman Batman in the brooding department. Making a face at the mere thought of channelling Angel for any reason he got in the shower and turned it on. The moment that the water jets hit his skin was the moment when images burst into his mind with the force of a tsunami and swept away all awareness of the world...
~~//~~He was standing in one of the once fashionable but now very dated apartments out at Kingsman's Bluff that the construction company he worked for were renovating after they'd stood derelict for three years. All around him the other five members of his particular crew bustled about as they methodically stripped the place back to the bare bones.
“Harris take some of those insulation rolls to Tobias' crew downstairs, he just radioed up that they've run out as the delivery truck is running late today,” Steve – the crew’s supervisor – said to him.
“Sure thing Steve,” he heard himself say as he stopped what he was doing and picked up some of the rolls. He was about to leave when a loud creaking, cracking noise caught his attention, prompting him to look around for the source of the distressing noise.
Just in time to see a section of ceiling on the far side of the room give way, sending an avalanche of plaster, concrete, wood and what looked to be an old but expensive iron and enamel bathtub crashing down on Steve and Miguel burying both men under a mountain of thundering debris that wasn't quite loud enough to mask the dying screams of both men.
Xander gasped and stumbled forward as the images stopped bombarding his mind. Instinctively he shot his hand out to steady himself against the wall of the shower cubicle, his whole body shuddering with reaction. What the hell was that,
he thought mechanically switching off the shower and stumbling out mind still reeling from what he'd just experienced. Was that... was that a vision?
Still somewhat stunned and feeling more than a little sick at what he'd just witnessed he sat down on the toilet lid and tried to understand what had just happened and what he'd just seen. He had no idea how he'd seen that as Buffy was the one who was supposed to get visions not him, though to be fair this had been far clearer than Buffy's Slayer dreams which tended to be somewhat on the cryptic side. He could only think of one reason why he'd suddenly had a vision and that was because his powers were no longer bound. Guess getting visions is a witch-whitelighter thing,
he thought grimacing and making a mental note to ask Paige about it as she was naturally in a position to know a hell of a lot more about the whole witch-whitelighter thing and what came with it than he was.
His thoughts turned to the vision itself and what it had shown him. Clearly some disaster was about to occur at the Kingsman's Bluff apartments, a disaster that would claim the lives of two of his friends and colleagues as he was well aware that that much falling debris travelling as quickly as it had been would have killed both men instantaneously. Somehow he knew that those deaths were deaths he had to prevent but the vision had been lacking a few crucial details like when exactly it was going to take place. It had been a snapshot of future events but that was all without the exact context of when it was only where it was – the apartments currently undergoing refurbishment after being left derelict when the company that owned them went bankrupt, the building’s basement had subsequently become a vampire nest that Buffy had cleared out months ago just before the work on the buildings got under way.
Whenever it happened he silently promised himself that he would be ready for it, in fact he would make it a point to check the third floor apartments before going on shift today – just to be on the safe side as surely there would be some sign of rotten floorboards on the level above that would have explained the collapse he'd witnessed. Steve and Miguel wouldn't die such a needless and pointless death.
Not while he was around to prevent it.
A Few Minutes Earlier
Rupert Giles wrinkled his nose in disgust at the smell coming off the only carton of milk that he was holding. Oh this is just brilliant,
he thought grimacing before pouring the fouled milk down the sink and washing it away. He wouldn’t be able to start his morning with a cup of tea as he normally would instead he would nip out to the local shop and pick up a fresh carton or two of milk first. Either that or go by the Espresso Pump and have a cup of coffee which would do if he was really desperate for his morning caffeine fix as the tea that was served there didn’t really deserve the name. But then again in his experience Americans wouldn’t know a decent cup of tea if it walked up and punched them on the nose. Damned colonials.
Sighing in annoyance, and muttering a few minor obscenities under his breath, he threw the now empty carton in the bin all the while mentally kicking himself for forgetting to put it away last night. After the other Scoobies had left he’d spent the next few hours having a long discussion with Paige as he’d sought to learn not just more about the young woman who’d so unexpectedly appeared last night but to learn more about Xander the younger mans’ true history and nature as a witch-whitelighter hybrid as as far as he was aware such beings existing was supposed to be impossible given the Elders forbade witches and whitelighters from having relationships. Though the existence of Paige and Xander confirmed it did still happen from time to time.
The discussion had been extremely interesting, very informative and in some ways cause for great concern. He had been surprised to learn that despite being only in her early to mid-twenties Paige was a very accomplished and powerful witch, well versed in some very advanced forms of Wicca magic. It had also been very surprising to learn that she was in the future one of the Charmed Ones having replaced the eldest Prue Halliwell after she was killed by an extremely powerful demonic hit man called Shax. He hadn’t even been aware that the Charmed Ones were active though he of course knew about Melinda Warren’s prophecy – any Watcher worth his or her salt did. Paige being a half-sister to the Halliwell’s – and Xander by extension being a half-brother - had been more than a little surprising though it did explain why she was so powerful and how powerful Xander would be once he learned how to properly use the powers that were his birth right now that the binding placed on him by the Source himself had been removed.
Thinking about it he had to admit to being worried for Xander. He had to admit that he had become very close to the younger man over the last few years and come to regard him almost as the son that he’d never had. A surrogate son who’d just had not one bombshell but a whole barrage of them dropped on him. To learn that his entire life had been manipulated and directed by the Source of All Evil himself with the goal of luring him – and the powers within him, powers he hadn’t even known about due to said Source – into darkness was undoubtedly going to be a very hard burden for Xander to bare. A burden he was worried that Xander might not be able to cope with especially given the Source had been directly or indirectly behind so much of the bad things that had happened in Xander’s life from living with alcoholic parents to the death of Jesse and now was behind his ‘relationship’ with Anyanka or Anya Jenkins as she called herself now as she pretended to by human so she could infiltrate the group and spy on them for the Source. He made a mental note to have a private chat with Xander later, see how the young man was coping with the revelations and offering whatever comfort and support he could if he were to need it.
The sound of approaching footsteps caught his attention and brought him out of his thoughts. He looked up in time to see Paige appear surprisingly already dressed ready to begin her first full day on the Hellmouth. “Good morning Paige,” he said in greeting.
“Morning Giles,” Paige replied with a smile. “How are you this morning?”
“I’m fine aside from not having had a cup of tea yet this morning,” he replied, “the milks gone off so unless you want a black coffee there won’t be any hot drinks until after I’ve nipped out to the local shop to get a new carton.”
“I’ll wait thanks,” Paige replied inwardly shuddering at the thought of black coffee. While she would drink it in a pinch she didn’t worship black coffee in the way that Phoebe did.
“Alright, I’ll go and dress a minute then nip to the shop.”
Paige nodded and watched at the technically ex-Watcher disappeared into his bedroom to get out of night clothes and into normal clothing. She had enjoyed her conversation with him the night before and found him very knowledgeable about a variety of magical and demonic subjects. Though he had been understandably more interested in learning more about the situation that had led to her travelling back in time to this place, how she’d found out about Xander being her brother and what the Source might actually want with him. It was perfectly clear to her that Giles cared a great deal about her brother and she found that very gratifying to see.
Despite his focus on Xander Giles had been perfectly willing to tell her more about the Slayer as she hadn’t really had chance to read about her in the Book of Shadows before casting the time travel spell as well as telling her more about the Watchers Council. The Slayer was something of a sad story one filled with violence, pain and sacrifice all thrust upon the shoulders of a teenage girl. A girl that generally didn’t survive long going up against the vampires and demons it had been very sobering to her to learn that the nineteen year old Buffy was one of the longest living Slayers for nearly a hundred years having survived being on the front line against the darkness for five years and that she was only alive now due to the help of her friends but especially Xander who’d literally pulled her back from death three years ago using CPR an action that had caused the Slayer line to fission.
The Watchers Council was another cause for concern to her as while it was nice to hear there were other organisations in the world who battled against the forces of evil the Watchers seemed to have lost their way somewhat. From what Giles had told her the Watchers Council had originally been set up to find potential Slayers through use of a complex spell, prepare them to be called as a Slayer and when Called support them with weapons and knowledge of the different demonic races they might encounter in the performance of their duties. But over time it had become less and less concerned about the Slayer as a person seeing her more as a weapon to be wielded and then discarded when she was no longer useful and not a potentially very vulnerable teenage girl thrust sometimes without warning – in the case of Buffy and the other currently comatose Slayer Faith – into a life or death struggle against evil. Indeed many of its procedures and traditions with regards to the Slayer struck her as dangerous and short sighted, some were downright cruel and dangerous. From what Giles had told her it was one such test – something called the cruciamentum – that had led to him being fired from the Council when he’d disobeyed orders to carry it out prompting the head of the Council a Quentin Travers to come and perform the test himself.
She couldn’t help but grimace at the cruciamentum test. To strip a Slayer of her powers without any warning and then pitting her against a master vampire and seeing if she survived all to prove her worth to the Council struck her as barbaric, cruel and totally needless. Why the Council felt it was necessary she didn’t know and she was just glad that the Elders didn’t have a similar test.
Giles return brought her out of her thoughts. “I’ll head out now Paige,” he said, “it should only take me about twenty minutes to get to the shop and back.”
“Alright Giles I’ll make sure the kettle is full for when you come back,” Paige replied. Giles smiled warmly before picking up his car keys from a side table and leaving the apartment.
Paige watched him go before heading into the kitchen area and filling the kettle. She was just putting it back on the base that provided the device with power when her mystical sense tingled. A moment before a swarm of blue-white orbs came through the ceiling and rapidly coalesced into a tall male whitelighter who looked to be around the same age as Piper. There was something about him, something familiar though she was sure that she had never seen him before as aside from Leo the only other whitelighters she’d ever met had been Chris and Sam.
“Paige Matthews,” the whitelighter asked.
“Yes,” Paige confirmed approaching the whitelighter curiously wondering why he was here apparently looking for her. She hoped that he wasn’t here to take her to the Elders so they could send her back to her own time, she couldn’t leave Alexander not yet, not when he had no idea how to use his powers or even what those powers were as she didn’t doubt there would be some unique twists in comparison to her own and those she knew baby Wyatt possessed or would possess when he came into the world in a few years’ time. “Who are you?”
“Andrew Trudeau though you can call me Andy everyone does,” the whitelighter replied offering his hand prompting Paige’s eyes to widen as they shook hands. She recognised the name as her sisters had told her about Andrew Trudeau, how he’d been a lifelong friend of theirs and the love of Prue’s life and how he’d laid down his life in an attempt to protect them from attack by a powerful demonic assassin called Rodriguez. “I see you’ve heard of me.”
Paige nodded. “My sisters have mentioned you before but they didn’t know that you’d been made a whitelighter. Leo never told them.”
“That’s because he was specifically ordered not to by the Elders. Your sisters needed closure, they needed to move on from my death something that Prue especially would not have been able to do if she’d known I’d been made a whitelighter,” Andy explained feeling a familiar twinge of pain in his heart when he thought about Prue. Though it had been eight months since his death he still missed her terribly and it had only been through a tremendous effort of self-control that he hadn’t orbed down to see her as soon as he’d learned how to orb.
“I get you. So what brings you here to the Hellmouth?”
Andy smirked slightly. “You Paige,” he replied giving her a look that said the answer should have been obvious. “The Elders know that you’ve travelled back in time and why you did it.”
“Are they going to send me back,” Paige asked worriedly hoping they weren’t not that she could do anything to stop the Elders if they were intent on sending her back to her own time right now.
“No,” Andy answered smiling as he saw the young woman’s shoulders drop in relief. “No they fully understand and support why you came back in time. No they’ve sent me here to help you with training your brother in how to use his heritage. You’re presence here and the fact that you’ve also unbound Alexander’s powers has given the Elders an opportunity to interfere with some of the events here on the Hellmouth something that the Powers That Be have worked very hard to prevent in the last few years.”
“Why,” Paige asked hearing a faint note of distaste in Andy’s voice as he mentioned the Powers That Be which echoed the derision she’d heard in Leo’s voice when he’d briefly mentioned them when Sam had been telling her and her sisters about Xander’s existence.
“Though they are technically supposed to be on the same side the Elders and the Powers That Be don’t exactly see eye to eye on a number of issues, especially as the Powers are obsessed with a concept that is fundamentally unworkable and impossible to truly maintain.”
“Balance. The Powers believe in creating and enforcing a balance between the forces of good and evil, they’re the ultimate proponents of the status quo refusing to understand or comprehend that evil will always try to destroy good and vice versa,” Andy explained, “the Powers are also masters at manipulation and frequently draft individuals and groups into their often overly complex, convoluted plans all for the sake of serving and furthering the balance. All without concern for the wellbeing or free will of the individuals concerned, they also do not care for the damage their plans can inflict upon innocent bystanders. In the eyes of the Powers any injuries or deaths caused to innocents are merely acceptable losses as long as the balance is served.”
“I can see why the Elders would have a problem with that,” Paige replied frowning knowing from experience just how committed the Elders were to protecting innocents almost at the expense of everything else. Indeed from what Phoebe had told her the reason why the Elders had been dead set against the marriage of Piper and Leo at first had had as much to with concerns that they might become too distracted by their passions to protect innocent lives as it had concerns over the creation of a witch-whitelighter hybrid.
After a few moments thought she spoke again. “Well I’ll take any help I can get in teaching Xander how to use his abilities,” seeing the confused expression on Andy’s face at the name she explained, “Alexander apparently doesn’t like being called by his full name preferring to be called Xander.”
“I see,” Andy replied nodding understandingly recalling how Prue always preferred to not be called by her full first name of Prudence, even before she’d come into her powers as a witch anyone – other than Grams who’d called her that when she did something wrong – calling her that could really look out as while Prue was normally a very calm and controlled person she could at times have a beast of a temper. Hurricane Prue she’d been called more than once back in High School, especially when one of the jocks pushed her too far. “Xander it is then.”
Paige grinned back getting the distinct impression that she was really going to like Andy. “I don’t know him very well yet naturally but I think he’s going to like you,” she answered. “And I admit it would be nice to have a whitelighter again. Are you here for anyone other than the two of us?”
“Yes I’m here for Ms Rosenberg as well.”
Paige blinked recalling the bouncy redhead she’d met last night, the one who’d looked like she’d been about to unleash a barrage of questions about her magic before the revelations about Xander had distracted her. “Willow,” she repeated confused, “why would Willow need a whitelighter? Is she a future whitelighter?”
“No she’s not a future whitelighter. Willow is a witch specifically she’s a witch practitioner a very gifted one.”
Paige’s eyes widened. “Willow’s a witch?” she repeated in shock gaining herself a nod from Andy. “Then why doesn’t she have a whitelighter already? Is it because of the Hellmouth?”
“She doesn’t because she’s a practitioner,” Andy explained, “Practitioner witches like Willow are normal mortals who through a unique genetic quirk have the potential – but only potential – to learn and wield magic. They are not naturally born to magic in the way you, your sisters and your brother were and thus do not normally fall under the authority of the Elders so they’re not automatically assigned a whitelighter to watch over them in the way Leo was assigned to watch over your sisters from the moment they were born.”
“If they don’t get whitelighters then who teaches them,” Paige asked confused and concerned as knowing that magic wasn’t something you could really teach yourself from a home help book. If you tried then it could very easily lead you to disaster.
“If a practitioner discovers they have the ability to use magic then the Powers That Be are supposed to provide instruction in the ways of magic, the rules and when and when not to use it. But they have not done so.”
“The Elders aren’t sure but knowing the Powers they have a plan for her, a plan that requires that Willow be kept ignorant of the true rules and ways of magic. As practitioners go Willow is extremely powerful and is already stronger in magic after just over a year of practice than most practitioners get in their entire lifetime.”
“And that’s unusual?”
“Very. Her strength in magic has led the Elders to investigate her magical aura further which has led to the Council discovering something truly extraordinary and which hasn’t happened for centuries. Willow is not a normal practitioner but is a practitioner-progenitor witch which means she is the first witch in an entirely new magical bloodline as all current magic bloodlines began with exceptionally strong practitioners like Willow, your own ancestor Melinda Warren was one such practitioner-progenitor. Any children Willow has will be born witches and thus automatically under the purview of the Elders not the Powers.”
“Do you think the Powers know that?”
“It would be perfectly obvious even to the weakest of them. Though that does not explain why the Powers have deliberately kept Willow ignorant of the ways of magic and why they did not immediately inform the Elders of her existence as they are supposed to do whenever a practitioner shows signs of being a progenitor. Whatever their reasons they no longer matter as she is a practitioner-progenitor Willow now falls under the purview of the Elders and thus it falls to me to take steps to help Willow learn the proper ways of magic as well as how to create her own Book of Shadows.”
“How can I help?” Paige asked and saw Andy blink in surprise at her office. “Come on Andy you’ve just told me that Willow is a modern version of my great, great, great, great something grandmother. You can’t not expect me to help teach her I am half-whitelighter after all and a Warren witch to boot.” Andy smirked. “What?”
“Nothing you just remind me of Prue,” Andy replied smiling. “If she was here now and I told her what I’ve just told you about Willow she would have said the same thing you did.” After she was done telekinetically throwing me through a wall or two for dying on her and then not informing her of my rebirth as a whitelighter,
he thought inwardly cringing at the knowledge that if she’d been standing here now he would have really been in for an encounter with Hurricane Prue.
“Then you know that nothing you say will stop me helping you teach Willow the proper way to use magic.” A faint smile appeared on her lips. “We can teach both her and Xander about magic at the same time as from what I was told in the future and what I’ve seen here she and my brother are very close.”
“Good idea. Though there is one thing we will have to be on our guard for with Willow, something that like all practitioners she is very vulnerable to and that is it’s very easy for a practitioner witch to become addicted to magic. It can happen to any witch but it’s a lot easier for a practitioner to fall into the trap of addiction.”
Paige winced. She’d read a little bit about magic addiction in the Book of Shadows and knew it was very easy for a witch to slip into without even realising they were doing it. What could seem like harmless uses of magic as a shortcut to accomplish something could rapidly spiral into using magic for everything even when there was no need to. When that happened to a witch they became more vulnerable to corruptive influences and could fall into darkness becoming at best an evil sorcerer/sorceress and at worst lose their soul and become a full blown warlock.
“We’ll be on our guard,” she agreed before stiffening as she abruptly sensed something was wrong with her twin. Frowning she sensed through the bond that Xander was suddenly very disturbed and concerned by something. “Something’s wrong with Xander.”
“I know I can feel it too,” Andy replied frowning as he sensed the emotional turmoil his charge was in in the way all whitelighters had. “Something has really upset him. We should orb over there.”
“Agreed just let me leave a message for Giles letting him know where I’ve gone,” Paige agreed.
“The Watcher to the current Slayer?”
“The same,” Paige agreed as she walked up to Giles desk and hunted in the drawers for a moment for a pen and a piece of paper. “This is his apartment, he’s letting me stay here for a day or two until I can find a hotel or something to stay at on a more permanent basis.”
Andy nodded in understanding and made a mental note to speak with the Elders and see if there was something they could do to help in that regard. They were after all not entirely without resources on Earth and could call on the rest of the magical community for help with earthly matters if the need arose. While he waited for Paige to finish her note to Giles he closed his eyes and mentally focused on Xander Harris and noticed that the young man was still deeply disturbed by something but was on his own in his dwelling, though he did sense a vampire sleeping in the basement. What’s a vampire doing there,
he wondered a moment before someone shaking his arm caught his attention. He opened his eyes to see Paige eying him in concern.
“I’m alright I was just checking on your brother,” he explained, “He’s alone well aside from a vampire.”
“Spike’s the vampire’s name,” Paige informed him.
“What!” Andy squeaked in shock and horror as his training had covered the four vampires who’d been collectively referred to for more than a hundred years as the Scourge of Europe, Spike or William the Bloody was one of them.
“You know him?”
“Heard of him. Spike is one of the members of a band of vampires of the Aurelius bloodline that were collectively known as the Scourge of Europe after the bloody trail they left through dozens of countries in the nineteenth century until the group broke up when the main ringleader Angelus was tagged with a soul restoration curse by the Kalderesh gypsies after he fed on one of their princesses.”
“Ouch nasty,” Paige said with a wince. “But you need not worry about Spike right now he’s not a threat. Apparently he was briefly captured by some government project who implanted a chip in his brain that somehow stops him feeding off or hurting humans. Because of that chip the Slayer hasn’t yet vanquished him.”
“I see,” Andy replied frowning and making another mental note to speak to the Elders. Governments getting involved with the supernatural was never a good thing, his training had covered some of the horrors that could result from such meddling with supernatural forces. “I’ll have to speak with the Elders about that as governments meddling with the supernatural and magical worlds is never a good thing. But first let’s go and see what’s upset your brother so much.”
“Yes lets,” Paige agreed before focusing on her brother and orbing out.
“Well as I always say ladies first,” Andy said to the empty air where Paige had once been before orbing out himself.
That Same Time
Xander was deep in thought as he prepared his normal breakfast of cornflakes more by autopilot than conscious thought. His mind almost completely occupied with the vision of disaster he’d had and thinking how he was going to prevent the deaths of Steve and Miguel in said disaster. So far he could think of no way of preventing it other than simply checking the apartment above where they working for any sign of rotten floorboards and joists – anything that would explain why a section of the floor would suddenly collapse into the level below.
An ethereal tinkling sound behind him made him whirl around in time to see a swarm of orbs of blue-white light appear and coalesce into Paige. A moment later a second swarm of orbs appeared and coalesced into a tall man a few years older than her. “Hi Paige,” he said in greeting, “you must have radar or something as I was going to call you soon.”
“Morning Xander,” Paige replied smiling. “I can guess why you were going to call me, something is bother you isn’t it.”
“Yeah something happened this morning, something really wiggy.”
“Strange sorry guess I’ve hung around Buffy a bit too long she has the strangest language at times,” Xander explained apologetically before eying the strange man standing next to Paige. “So who’s your friend?”
“This is Andy,” Paige answered with a smile. “Xander meet Andy, Andy meet Xander.”
“Pleasure,” Andy said warmly holding out his hand. Xander took it and was about to shake the hand when once again images burst into his awareness like a flood.
~~//~~Andy raced up the steps to the front door of the Halliwell Manor his backup service pistol held in one hand as he pursued Rodriguez into the home of his technically ex-girlfriend and her sisters. He was right Rodriguez was a demon – nothing human had pure red eyes like the ones Rodriguez had just directed at the sisters Siamese cat Kit – a demon who was clearly after Prue and her sisters. He couldn’t allow that and despite the fact that Prue had wanted him to stay away he couldn’t let them face Rodriguez alone even with the Power of Three – whatever that meant as this magic thing was still too weird to really think about too much – to back them up.
The sound of some kind of energy discharge in the house made him run faster and burst through the front doors, to see Prue unconscious on the floor with Phoebe and Piper facing off against Rodriguez who was holding a ball of what looked like electricity. A ball he was clearly getting ready to throw at them.
“NOO,” he yelled prompting the startled demonic cop to whirl towards him, the energy ball evaporating. Without hesitation he fired several rounds into Rodriguez’s shoulder intending to incapacitate rather than kill him. Rodriguez rocked back with the impacts, flinching but amazingly not going down when those shots should have had him writhing in agony on the floor.
Rodriguez smirked evilly as he steadied himself before hurling a bolt of the blue energy right at him. There was no time to evade and the blast took him right in the torso, pain exploded in his chest and he screaming in agony as he felt himself flying through the air. He faintly heard Piper shouting his name her voice thick with horror and rage even as he crashed into a display cabinet which shattered into kindling with the force of impact before slumping to the floor. His chest was a sea of agony that spread through his body in pulsing waves. He was dying he knew he was.
I’m sorry Prue, he thought before darkness enveloped him and he knew no more.
Xander gasped and pulled sharply away from Andy as if burnt, shaking with the reaction to another vision, this one felt like it came from the past.
“What did you see,” Paige asked her brother urgently recognising all the signs of someone who’d just been hit by a very powerful vision or premonition. Guess that answers the question of what his active witch power is,
she thought, it’s the same as Phoebe’s.
“How did you…” Xander started to say.
“…know that you saw something,” Paige finished for him with a soft smile before explaining. “The youngest of our older sisters Phoebe has the same power of visions or premonitions that you seem to have. You’ll learn to cope with them in time.”
“Can’t I turn them off,” Xander asked. “This is the second one I’ve had today though this one felt I don’t know different, like I was looking at something from the past.”
“Afraid not they’re part of you,” Paige replied frowning slightly and exchanging a look with Andy as Phoebe’s visions were always of future events and things they had to prevent and not flashes of past events as well as future ones. “Tell me what did you see?”
Xander swallowed slightly then looked slightly nervously at Andy. “I saw Andy. He was trying to fire at a demon but the bullets did nothing and the demon…”
“Threw an energy ball at me a relatively low intensity one as energy balls go but still quite lethal,” Andy finished shivering as he remembered the pain of that blast striking him. He’d been injured in the past in the line of duty as a police officer but nothing had been like that pain as the energy slowly killed him. “You saw my mortal death eight months ago.”
“Yeah yet here you are now,” Xander replied, “how are you here now then are you some kind of magically powered zombie?”
Andy laughed. “No I’m not a zombie,” he answered smiling, “I’m a whitelighter an angel of sorts just like yours and Paige biological father Sam Wilder was.”
“Andy’s been assigned to help us by the Elders,” Paige added, “they’re a group of high level whitelighters who look after and guide born witches like us.”
“If whitelighters help witches then shouldn’t Willow have one,” Xander asked, “I mean she’s become quite a powerful witch over the last few years.”
“Willow doesn’t have a whitelighter because unlike you and Paige she was not born to magic and has no instinctive ability to use facets of it,” Andy explained, “she is what’s termed a practitioner witch which is a normal human who through a unique genetic quirk has the potential to learn Wicca magic but only potential. Most humans with the genetic quirk never learn they have the ability.”
“But Willow has.”
“Yes and that’s why Andy has been charged with giving Willow the instruction in the proper ways of using our kind of magic. Instruction that Willow has been lacking until now. Apparently the Powers That Be are supposed to provide instruction in magic to practitioner witches if they discover their potential powers but they’ve not done so in Willow’s case.”
“For a very good reason,” a new voice answered prompting all three to whirl around to face a man who looked like he’d stepped right out of the seventies, a man Xander recognised from previous encounters with him.
“Who are you,” Paige demanded frowning at the stranger.
“His names Whistler,” Xander replied, “he’s a balance demon who works for the Powers That Be. We’ve encountered him a few times before sometimes he’s helpful other times infuriatingly vague and cryptic. So what are you doing here Whistler?”
Whistler ignored Xander instead walking right up to the whitelighter and glaring with the anger his bosses felt at his appearance here. They’d tolerated the appearance of the witch but the appearance of a whitelighter on the Hellmouth was too much, especially if he was indeed here for Willow. “You are not wanted here,” he said in a hostile tone of voice. “As a practitioner Ms Rosenberg is not the Elders responsibility but ours.”
“A responsibility that your superiors have abdicated,” Andy replied calmly, “you’ve provided none of the support and guidance to Willow that you are supposed to provide to practitioner witches instead you’ve made sure she stumbles around in the dark with little real idea of the responsibilities and dangers that come with the gift. In addition your superiors have broken the covenant with the Elders you know as well as I that Willow is not just a practitioner but is practitioner-progenitor and you have not told them again as you were supposed to.”
“As I said there is a good reason for that, Willow has a role to play, a role she must play.”
“Wait what do you mean Willow’s a practitioner-progenitor,” Xander broke in.
“It means that she’s the first witch in an entirely new magical bloodline,” Paige explained as the balance demon continued glaring at the whitelighter ignoring the question. “Any children she has will be born with innate magical powers and the ability to use more advanced forms of Wicca magic.”
Andy shook his head at the balance demon even as he listened to Paige explain what a practitioner-progenitor was to her brother. “You mean those pricks that are your bosses are – again – risking corrupting an entire magical bloodline for their own ends,” he answered Whistler sighing, “haven’t they learned their lesson yet? How many warlock bloodlines have they created by doing what they are doing now?”
Whistler winced and grimaced knowing the answer was far too many. “It has to be done things have to be this way,” he repeated keeping to the company line set by the Powers even though he personally disagreed with it. “Willow has to play the role she is meant to play.”
“What do you mean by that Whistler,” Xander demanded concerned for his oldest surviving friend and what Whistler could mean about her having a role to play.
“He means that the Powers plan to keep your friend ignorant of the true ways of magic,” Andy explained, “they’re going to let her continue to learn without any of the support or guidance that they were supposed to provide. Probably hoping she will become addicted to magic and possibly be driven temporarily or permanently insane by powers she’s not yet ready to wield which would lead to her falling possibly permanently into darkness all to serve there nebulous and ridiculous balance.”
Xander scowled. “To hell with that,” he said shivering at the thought of Willow possibly becoming twisted and as evil. He knew he wouldn’t be able to bear that happening to his friend as it would mean he could lose her and if that happened he didn’t know what he’d do. Jesse’s death and transformation into a vampire four years ago had come within a hairs breath of destroying him he wouldn’t be able to cope with loosing Willow as well. He felt a hand come on his shoulder and he just knew that it belonged to Paige sensing his sudden anxiety through their twin bond.
“The Elders agree with you on that one Xander,” Andy said reassuringly. “That is why I will be offering her the instruction in magic that has been neglected for far too long.”
“Please don’t do this you have no idea what you’re doing,” Whistler said pleadingly though he knew it would do little good if the Elders were dead set on this course of action, something the Powers had long feared might happen. It was why they’d worked so hard to keep whitelighters away from the Hellmouth.
“I trust that despite what you believe demon the Elders know full well what they are doing,” Andy replied, “Willow is no longer the responsibility of the Powers That Be, she is mine and theirs now.”
Whistler was silent for a moment. “So be it. I will inform the Powers,” he said with a sigh knowing the Powers were not going to be at all pleased by this development and yet another of their plans being metaphorically thrown out the window. “But I warn you whitelighter there will be consequences for this action.”
“Noted,” Andy replied not really concerned about the threat. The Powers That Be liked to talk in grandiose terms, liked to think of themselves as all powerful having long since bought into their own hype, but there wasn’t really much they could do against the Elders beyond whine and complain like spoilt children being denied the right to play with a toy.
Whistler scowled before deciding there was no point in sticking around as there was nothing more to be said or discussed. Without fanfare he vanished into the ether to inform the Powers That Be of the outcome of the conversation with the whitelighter. He wasn’t looking forward to it as he knew the Powers would not be pleased and he feared what they would do in response. They couldn’t metaphorically cross swords with the Elders directly as the Elders were higher ranked in the celestial hierarchy than the Powers were, challenging them would be a futile battle. There was nothing they could do directly and that would irk the Powers something rotten.
Oh boy would it irk them.
~~~///~~~Authors Notes: Well here ends chapter four and the longest chapter of Birthright to date. I was originally going to add another scene on the end between Andy, Paige and Xander where they discuss his vision but in the end decided not to as I felt that would be too much like repeating myself just for the sake of it as you my readers already know what the vision was. I hope everyone likes what Xander’s witch power is – I will say now that it is not exactly like Phoebe’s in that it has a more psionic aspect to it. Also like Phoebe Xander will have a second more active witch power – like Phoebe’s levitation and empathic abilities – though I am going to keep what exactly that is under wraps for now.
I hope the whole difference between born and practitioner witches and Willow being a practitioner-progenitor witch didn’t come across as too complicated and convoluted. If it has tell me and I will see about clarifying it somewhat in upcoming chapters. Also rest assured that the Powers That Be are not going to take the Elders interference through Andy lying down and will do something to try and get their plans back on track. Whether they succeed or not and what exactly they do you will have to wait and see.
Until next time.