No Need for a Holiday!
A/N: Okay, so a lot of people thought my 'Infinity Box' story was a response to Ship of the Line. Well, it wasn't, instead it was a response to Challenge 4242 – Captain Willow of the PROMETHEUS. I have seen many many SOTL challenge responses covering a massively broad range of ships and fandoms. (Still waiting for someone to do 'Master and Commander' ;) ) from Robotech to Star Trek to Star Wars to Stargate and mixes of those and everything in-between. Through all of this no one has brought forth the single most powerful warship ever. Ryo Ohki! This fic is partially inspired by Feynor's wonderfully insane 'Leviathan Jr.' So sit back, hang on and prepare to cringe violently as the women of Sunnydale start their hunt for the elusive Xander-shaped boyfriend.Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Tenchi Muyo. Those shows are the property of their individual creators. I own nothing. Seriously.Ship of the Line: Xander MuyoNo Need for a Holiday!
Oh this smile was more than the permanent smile that graced one of his two faces. This one actually twitched at the permanent frown of his second face. The source of this amusement was the scene taking place in a former hell dimension that had managed to free itself of demonic domination and had then been promptly overrun by something that many higher beings felt might actually be worse.
Of course, the infestation did have its uses. Worship being a particularly pleasant one for the beings of the higher planes. However, in spite of ever increasing numbers of people, most of those beings had long since lost the ability to inspire any of the teaming masses to even notice them, much less to bow before them.
Not Janus. He had tied his power not to the bowing and scraping or noble urges the others had. Janus had latched on to the things humanity was really really
good at. Change, transition and chaos. But that was only what fueled his powers, not what was entertaining him this fine day.
Amongst the ever increasing mass of humanity there were those who had a natural affinity for the very heart of that which made him stronger. A few sought those things out, as if they were a missing part of their being, naming themselves priests in his name. Some called it a craving for adventure, others merely called it living, however a few were so interwoven with that affinity that, anthropomorphizing it, they then gave it a name.
No, what had Janus smiling was not the usual mix of random interactions that six billion teaming humans could make. Tonight that smile was present because the most accomplished of those boring sods who named themselves to be his high priests was on a direct collision course with one of the most powerful avatars of change and chaos in the entire history, written and unwritten, of humanity. Having stood silently behind the man's shoulder on that fateful day, Janus wondered if this is what Oppenheimer felt as the Manhattan Project counted down to Trinity.
Two things that should never be brought together were about to meet and in the words of the Klingon Kor. The resulting explosion was going to be GLORIOUS!~~~***~~~
“ANYANKA!” D'Hoffryn's bellow echoed through the corridors and passageways of his personal hell dimension. The cry did not necessarily carry any malice, nor did it particularly carry any pleasance. It merely was the most convenient way for the head of the order of Vengeance (Justice, please. Vengeance carries such a pedantic tone)
Demons to call one of his minions into his presence, for no matter where they might be, in whatever dimension they had been sent they would hear him.
An attractive, blond woman appeared before him, her stepping from a pillar of fire making him chuckle.
“Yes, Lord D'Hoffryn?” She bowed.
“Dear Anyanka,” the demon's pleasant tenor voice belying his horrific appearance. “How long has it been since you drew my eye with that wonderful piece of work you did on Olaf?”
“Eleven hundred ninety-eight years, my Lord.” The blond smiled, remembering how her ex-boyfriend had suffered after dumping her for a red-headed wench he had brought back from a raid on the Britons. Okay, so the wench was a slave-prize of war and thus his property, but damn it, Olaf was wooing her before he boarded that stupid boat. It was a service, turning that oaf into a troll. How were the women of the village supposed to land husbands if the men kept going off to steal women so they did not have to woo and court them. At least Olaf the Troll had manage to smash all the boats before he was trapped in that crystal, which meant that the women of the village had a year to lock in their choices before the new boats were built. How is it that she ended up pissed off again?
The demon lord looked down at his favorite minion, noting how quickly she frustrated and angered. Her recent assignments had begun to show a tendency towards more mayhem and death and less pain and suffering. Her creativity in twisting the wishes of her subjects was beginning to suffer.
D'Hoffryn drew her to a chair that allowed her to sit only a head below him. “How old were you when you cast the spell that drew me?”
“Fifteen,” she answered.
The demon raised his right brow-ridge and lower his head slightly.
Squirming in her seat, Anyanka changed her answer. “Fourteen and a half,” she mumbled.
Her master nodded. “And since that time, what have you done?”
The human appearing demon's pout rapidly changed to an affronted expression. With some heat she replied, “I have served you, my Lord. Meeting out justice for those women scorned as I was.”
“Indeed, my child,” the demon replied. “But have you done anything fun?
“SHE IS COMING!”
The cry rang through the halls of the ancient monastery. The building had housed their order for thousands of years. From the time of Sumer, through the invasion of Alexander to the Romans, Huns, and Goths. The gods of Greece and Rome, Celts and Norse each giving way before the next, yet the order remained. Now cloaked in the trappings of Catholicism the Monks of Dagon faced their final day.
Doors were slammed and barred all along the corridor leading to their most sacred treasure as the last of their order took up arms to slow the beast. In the sanctum sanctorum the last heads of a dying sect laid their final plans.
“The seers have spoken,” the first monk drew back his hood. “Our options are two. Send the key to her now or send it to her then.”
“There are merits and risks to both. To send it back is a simpler spell requiring more power,” the second replied. “While to send it now is far more complex but requires less intensity.”
A third looked up, frightened as a resounding boom echoed through the monastery. “The now risks failure if we err in the insertion, while back is both out of her reach and leaves no false trail to unravel and reveal the shell.”
The fourth monk looked to his brothers. “There is another advantage to back. Four years ago, on all hallows eve. The actions of the chaos mage open a possible means to both preserve and remove the key from the beast's reach forever. We must plant a suggestion within the shell to seek that advantage.”
The fifth and final monk, head of the Order of Dagon nodded. “Brothers. Back or Now?”
Each brother of the order in turn raised his hood and answered. With a unanimous decision the ritual was begun. The key was sent to the slayer. To be protected as blood kin, and with their mission complete each monk took their own life that the beast would not pierce the veil of protection they had woven.
Fourteen years in the past, ten years before the Summer's family moved to Sunnydale, a healthy young girl took her first breath and screamed.~~~***~~~
“BUFFY!!!” Dawn was furious. Wednesdays after school belonged to her and Xander. The teen had begun bringing over the anime collection he had inherited from Jessie and Wednesdays were the day the two of them sat together on the sofa and watched them.
Okay, she did curl up as close to him as she could get. After-all, he was her future husband, even if he didn't realize it yet.
“It's not her fault munchkin,” Dawn melted as soon as Xander turned his smile on her. “Blame our troll of a school principal.”
Dawn pouted. “But Tenchi?”
Buffy had given up attempting to understand the attraction of watching cartoons spoken in a foreign language while the dialog was flashed across the bottom of the screen faster than it could be read by any reasonably sane person attempting to take in the action on the screen. Of course Dawn was not about to let on to her sister that she was actually beginning to understand Japanese and could even speak it a little.
Xander ticked her nose with his index finger. “Double feature tomorrow instead?”
“Well...” Dawn dug her right toe in the carpet behind her left heel, her hands clasped coyly behind her back as she let her long dark hair fall past her face.
“Daaaawn...” Buffy growled.
“What? You're all going to get costumes,” the eleven year old pointed out.
“You weren't dressing up this year!” Buffy answered.
“Neither were you!” Dawn snapped. “You know Mom's not going to let me stay here alone, and if all of you are escorting kids then I'll have to go with her to that boring adult thing, unless I have a costume and go with you.”
Spinning, she pinned her future husband with her grade 'A', number one quality pout, guaranteed to raise global sea levels if she inadvertently aimed it too far south and it hit the Antarctic continent.
“It's cool Buff.” Xander grinned at the older Summers girl as the younger one did a wild happy dance off to one side. “She can tag along and help corral my group.”
The sound of keys in the front door was soon followed by footsteps and Joyce's voice from the foyer. “I swear the Mayor of this town is evil!”
Ears perked up around the room.
“Oh?” Buffy drawled. “How so?”
“I got a call from his office today. The Chamber of Commerce gathering at City Hall on Friday is costume mandatory.”
“That is evil Mrs. S,” Xander agreed. “Next thing we're going to find out is that someone there spiked the punch. Wait, this is an adult shindig. Do they have punch at these or maybe this is a case of punching the spike?”
Joyce reached out and patted him gently on the cheek. “It's called a cash bar, Xander. And you... you are all too young to know what those are. Though with costumes being mandatory, the presence of one there will most likely be a blessing.”
“Well,” Buffy said. “We were about to head to that new costume shop downtown.”
“Oh?” Joyce cocked her head and stared at the three teenagers in the room.
“The Dread Pirate Snyder has drafted Buffy, Willow and I to escort trick-or-treaters as a Sunnydale High community service project,” Xander grumbled.
“HEY!” Willow yelped. “Don't go comparing Snyder to Westley. He's more of a Vizinni anyway.”
Xander grinned. “Ah, but for some iocane powder. You think we might be able to get him to start a land war in Asia?”
Joyce snorted, choked and then began laughing. “Give me a moment to get changed and I'll drive us downtown.”~~~***~~~
Janus shook his head, trying to shrug off the sense of deja-vu that had just flooded over him. Blinking, he refocused. Someone had altered the timeline. Looking back he could see the wave coming. A split had formed, and when it hit him it both drained and empowered him simultaneously. Where once, one thing happened, now a new element was added and something else was about to be born. He plucked at the threads, studying the potentials. New energy would be fed into the mage's spell this time and not even the god of change could begin to predict the results.
Halifrek lounged back on the sofa in Anyanka's suite. Grinning, she looked around, taking in the sight of the many and varied decorations her friend had filled the space with. Over eleven-hundred years worth of nicknacks and trinkets, each a small reminder of justice done on behalf of a scorned woman.
Like her own space, Anyanka's domain consisted of more than five hundred rooms within D'Hoffryn's fortress. None of the Chief Justice Demon's operatives lacked for space or luxury. Status was determined by how close to the head of their order their space was located. The patron demons for Scorned Women and Ignored Children just happened to have adjoining suites directly across the courtyard from their boss's personal space.
Scraping noises from beyond the room and the sound of muttering announced the imminent arrival of her best friend. Sitting up she poured a cup of wine from the carafe she had brought with her upon learning of the other demon's enforced vacation.
From the hallway Anyanka's mutters were slowly becoming intelligible. “...but what if I consider what I do to be a vacation! I mean, I enjoy it and vacations are about doing what I enjoy! Right???”
Halifrek rose, meeting her friend at the door, firmly placing the goblet in the other's hands. “Sure it does Anya. Drink!”
“I mean, what am I supposed to do with the time off?” She tossed back half the goblet. “Five years off!”
“TEN!” D'Hoffryn's disembodied voice rattled the fixtures of the suite.
Anya cringed. “I'm bored already Hallie!”
“Don't worry Anya,” Hallie grinned while patting her shoulder. “I'm taking time off too. We'll go out in the world, take the time to see what the humans are really like now.”
Anya sniffled and looked up at her friend. “Well, okay. If you're there I guess we can find ways to have fun.”
Hallie took the goblet as her friend tossed back the last of the wine and held it out to her. “So, I'm thinking that we visit the active hellmouth, maybe open a magic shop or such, meet guys, break their hearts, destroy their futures, learn ways to do what we normally do without resorting to magic.”
Kicking her right toe into the rug, Anyanka twisted her right heel back and forth while wringing her hands behind her back. “Hmmm. It might be fun. Hey, are you getting taller?”
Hallie looked down at her friend as the potion she had mixed with the wine finished its effects on the now pre-teen looking girl. “Nope! But you're now eleven.”
Anya's eyes shot open wide as she spun to take in her diminished appearance in a nearby mirror. “HALLIFREK! I will
get even with you for this!”
“Now is that any way to treat your mother, Ahn?” Butter would not have melted in Hallie's mouth.~~~***~~~
“Why are we here again?” Harmony smacked her gum loudly, fully living down to the braincell robbing bleach-job that topped her head.
Cordelia rolled her eyes while closing them and briefly praying for the patience necessary so as to not tie the airhead to a tree in the cemetery nearest the high school. Looking up at the sign to the shop they were about to enter she spun and pinned the blond with her glare. “Because Party Town had an incident with their sprinkler system Monday that damaged the costumes we had reserved.”
“Well duh!” Harmony looked at the brunette like the question was obvious. “Why here?
Planting her hands on her hips, Cordelia began tapping her right foot on the sidewalk. “You mean aside from the gift certificates for a hundred and fifty percent of our prepaid reservation that is only good here?”
One or two of the high school junior's braincells lit up. “Well...”
“And the clause I insisted on that said if we spent half of the gift certificate that we could get the balance back in cash?” Queen C was out in full glory.
“Okay!” Harmony gave in. “It's just, this place is so... so...”
“Plebian?” Aura, one of Cordelia's other sheep offered as she raised her nose at the stream of Sunnydale High students streaming in and out the doors.
Staring at the sky as if it would provide answers as to why she tolerated the two girls, the cheerleader spun on her heel and marched into the shop. Coming to a screeching halt her eyes swept above the chaos of kids, parents and teens pawing through the shelves and bins of costumes. A sharp intake of breath from behind her caused Cordelia to turn in time to see Aura sidle up to a mannequin wearing a wine colored gown. She nodded, Aura would look good in that. She would just have to make sure she looked better...
One of the football jocks stepped away from the end of an aisle leading to the back of the store, exposing an oriental appearing costume. Without realizing she had moved, Cordelia found herself standing at a velvet rope that kept the costume just out of reach of small, destructive hands. Displayed before her was a light blue and medium blue kimono with lavender and purple under robe and burgundy sash. It included white, Japanese style socks and sandals and a deep royal purple wig with integrated tiara hidden just under the wig's bangs.
“Ah, Princess Ayeka of Jurai,” an English voice sounded in her ear, startling her from the trance the costume had placed her in.
“A Princess?” Cordelia's voice squeaked slightly.
“And none would be more ravishing than you to portray her,” the shopkeeper enthused.
Looking at the price tag, she noted it was just over half the amount of the certificate she had gotten from the other shop. Holding it up she waved it in front of the tall Englishman's nose. “I was told I could get the balance of this as cash?”
The proprietor winced, then nodded. “That was the agreement I struck with the Party Town owner.”
A slow smile spread over Cordelia's face as she nodded toward the Ayeka costume. “Wrap it up please.”
Turning she saw Harmony carrying what appeared to be a multi-tone blue uniform and Aura with the gown draped over her shoulder. “Let's get this finished.” As one, the three girls trooped behind the shopkeeper to ring out.~~~***~~~
Buffy pouted as one of Cordelia's minions swept past on the sidewalk with a gorgeous burgundy gown draped over her shoulder. “Gah! That would have been PERFECT!”
“HEY!” Dawn shouted as a young blonde girl shoved her way out the door of the costume shop.
A smirking brunette woman charged through, hot on the preteen's heels, strands of blue hair streaming from the open top of the bag clutched in her right hand. “Come on Ahn, it's a great costume!”
“Fine!” The blonde screamed over her shoulder. “Then YOU wear it!”
“I am! It's part of a set!” Oblivious to the fuming girl in their wake, the pair disappeared around the corner.
Joyce shook her head at the mayhem surrounding the store, her own business sense evaluating the operation as they passed through the entrance. “Thank God the gallery isn't seasonal. The owner of this place has to either love chaos or be completely insane.”
“There are times, my dear,” a British voice belonging to a tall but rather haggard looking gentleman, answered her, “I believe that to be 'love chaos and
be completely insane.'”
Chuckling, Joyce shooed her charges down the aisle away from the plastic masks and ultra-cheap costumes. Her mirth turning to a flinch as the squeal of her youngest pierced the mid-level noise of the store. A flash of Dawn's long chestnut locks flickered past the end of the aisle, followed shortly by the sight of her mulishly backing across the gap, dragging Xander with her. Rolling her eyes at her youngest's antics, the eldest Summers headed down the aisle in case she needed to intervene.
“Tenchi Xander.” Dawn was pointing at a mannequin wearing a white button down shirt with dark blue slacks under 'naval style' dark blue jacket with a Prussian collar.
The boy stared at the costume, nervously stuffing his hands in his pockets. Joyce recognized some of the tells he was giving off. Since the divorce, and with the expenses of getting the Gallery up and running, money had been tight for her as well.
“I don't know Dawnster,” Xander prevaricated while reaching out to lift the price tag.
“Pleeaaaase?” The eleven year old pouted while batting her eyelashes at him. She pointed at the other costumes. “Buffy can be Ryoko, Willow can be Washu! Hey, where's the Sasami costume?”
“Oh dear,” the proprietor once again popped up behind Joyce, causing her to jump. “I'm afraid that I just had a lovely young mother and daughter who bought the Sasami and Tsunami costumes as a set.”
Dawn began to pout at losing out on one of her favorite characters.
“On the other hand,” Ethan steered the group towards the end of the display. “I do still have the costume for Ryo-Ohki's human form. I personally think you'd make an adorable cabbit.”
Taking one look at the costume, the young girl melted. “Mooooom.” Big huge brown eyes, downcast mouth, slumped shoulders.
“Perhaps, if your group is all interested, I could arrange a deal? If you each select a costume from this display, say half off?”
A quick glance at her older daughter and friends showed that the youngest had already turned her charm on them. Buffy was looking at the Ryoko costume with an appraising eye, while Willow had a somewhat relieved look on her face and was nodding vigorously. Xander was still fidgeting and looking uncertain.
Leaning forward, Joyce whispered. “If you insist, you can pay me back, but I think Dawn's smile if you say yes will be sufficient.”
Xander glanced over at the lady who was quickly becoming his surrogate Mom. “How about I look after the munchkin the next time you and Buffy want a bonding night?”
“Deal,” Joyce smiled, reaching out to take his hand and shake. “So who should I be?”
Grinning, Xander guided her to a fancy set of robes with an elaborate headdress. “What about Funaho?”
An ear piercing squeal accompanied by a wildly jumping eleven year old girl screeched through her head. “My Mom's gonna be Queen of Jurai!!!”
“Empress, please.” Joyce sniffed haughtily.
Xander's head quickly swiveled to face her. “Huh?”
“What?” Joyce adopted an expression of affronted shock. “I'm not allowed to know these things?”~~~***~~~
Sunset was fast approaching as a fuming Jenny parked her car by the curb in front of the costume shop. She was not sure whether she should be pissed at or grateful to that wretch Snyder. Through a carefully contrived confrontation, she had managed to corner Rupert in the library. Their heated discussion leaving their noses mere inches apart with her leaning forward into the staid British librarian's personal space. His eyes had widened as the beginnings of a predatory grin twitched at the computer teacher's lips. The gap between them closing with a delicious slowness as she savored her conquest, knowing that the man was moments from becoming putty in her hands.The hands that moments before were pushing against his shoulders in emphasis now gripped the coarse fabric of his coat, pulling them closer together as the slam of the swinging door bursting open caused them to jump apart. “Just the two I was looking for,” a fingernails on chalkboard voice sliced across the empty space.
“Ah, Principal Snyder,” the librarian stuttered. “How can Ms. Calendar and I, ah, be of service.”
A feral grin graced the short man's face revealing teeth that the two faculty were surprised did not end in sharpened points.
Climbing from the car, Jenny chuckled remembering Rupert's reaction once the troll had left. Furiously cleaning his glasses, the former British Museum curator glared after the smugly retreating principal. “Didn't these bloody wankers fight a war against my country over impressment?”
“Now now, Rupert,” she cooed. “We do have a responsibility to act as chaperones for school events.”
“Perhaps,” the Watcher growled, waving his glasses wildly. “But that doesn't mean we have to be in damn costume!”
Jenny's face hardened at her potential paramour's mulishness. “Come on English. It will be fun.”
“Bloody hell,” Giles frowned. “I wouldn't even know where to begin with a costume.”
“Hmm. Glasses, British,” Jenny grinned. “Do you own a tuxedo?”
Fire flared in Giles' eyes. “I will NOT be chaperoning these kids as James bloody Bond.”
The computer teacher choked out a laugh. “Actually, I was thinking Alfred Pennyworth.”
“Who?” The librarian's anger momentarily squelched.
“Batman's batman.” Jenny answered while straightening the lapels of his coat then patting them flat. “You're right, Xander may get it, but most everyone else will think you're double oh seven.”
Jenny looked around and locked her car door before turning toward the costume shop, barely taking a step, she walked right into the mother of one of her students. “Sorry... Joyce!”
“Ms. Cal... ah Jenny,” Joyce raised her right hand, brushing her index finger against corner of her eye as she flipped a loose curl of hair away from her face.
“Costume shopping?” Jenny reached up to adjust the strap on her purse, her hand pausing briefly over her heart.
Joyce nodded, lifting the bag that was trailing from her left hand. “It seems that Principal Snyder and the Mayor are in cahoots, or at least in the back pocket of the theatrical supply industry.”
The teacher laughed lightly. “Yes, Snyder cornered Rupert and I in the library and shanghaied us into chaperoning Friday's festivities. Thus my presence here.”
Standing between the two women and Joyce's car, the Scoobies were exchanging furtive looks, uncertain whether to join in their usual exuberant manner, a conversational minefield that could reveal Buffy's secret, or to take the tack of acting worried about the close proximity of parental and authority figures who they should dislike seeing interact. Both women seemed to notice this at the same moment and exchanged subtle acknowledgments through the narrowing of their eyes and quirking of their smiles.
“Are we still on for the coffee klatch tomorrow?” Joyce's smile grew as she saw her elder daughter shiver.
Jenny's eyebrows raised slightly as she nodded. “Certainly.” She glanced at The Slayer out of the corner of her eyes. “Well, I do need to get costumes for myself and Rupert and I'd like to be home before dark.”
Joyce nodded in response. “I won't keep you. Tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow,” the Damkianna of the Ummum Igigi answered her ancient organization's newest initiate.A/Endnote: And so my crazy experiment begins. One thing I'm uncertain of as yet. Numerous people have asked for SotL stories that do not cross Stargate. I'm racking my brain for a reasonable 'space cross' that doesn't use Stargate or putting the Scoobies in the Tenchiverse. So give me your thoughts and suggestions along those lines. (I'm looking for something contemporary, so Star Trek would be dealing with pre-federation races and polities).