Disclaimer in Chapter One - Time to Suit Up!
~*^*^*^*~"Ok," he yelled, his Cajun accent thick, his dark eyes never leaving the three cards as he shuffled them. "Who's feeling lucky today?" He smiled at the crowd that had gathered.
He stood, his back to a street light, a cardboard box sitting on a side ways turned apple crate in front of him. His hands were fast as he shuffled the three half folded cards on the box.
"Find the Queen, get away clean," he said, holding up the three cards, one the Queen of Hearts, the other two the Jack of Spades and Clubs. "Find the Jacks, get knocked back! Who wants to try their mettle?" He returned to shuffling. He smiled again as a bunch of people pushed against each other, trying to be the one to place their bets.
It was like taking money from suckers.
Actually, that is exactly what it was. They threw down money to pick the right card, which they never seemed to guess. Oh sure, they thought they had him figured out. The way he sometimes lifted his left hand a little to high so a person just might catch a glimpse of the card's face, or when he seemed to clear his throat before asking the person if they were sure they wanted to pick 'that' card. He had a few different tells depending on which sucker you asked.
But it was all part of the act.
A wad of cash fell on the box in front of the three cards. It was thick, held together by a rubber band and placed down by a hand covered in a pair of fingerless gloves. He looked up at the man who had dropped the cash.
The man smiled darkly and said, "Close down the game and follow me, there's more where that came from." His voice sounding slightly joyful.
"Nice for you," he brushed the money off the box, the man catching it quickly. "Bets only."
"Listen Remy," the man continued smiling. "Take the money," he reached forward, grabbed his hand and thrust the cash into his palm. "If you manage to not blow it up while holding it, close down the game and follow me. Mutie Haters could be anywhere..."
Not waiting for an answer the man turned around and moved off.
He looked at the cash again and up at the mans retreating back. Thinking it over for a beat he scooped up his cards and said a quick "Au revoir tout le monde, I seem to be closed." and followed the man.
The man hadn't gotten far before he had caught up with him.
"Ok, you have my attention..." He said, falling into step with the man. "How you know my name?"
"I know a lot of things..." the man said before letting out a sigh. "Sorry for the Slur, I meant no disrespect."
"How you know me?" Remy said again, his voice rising.
"I knew you in another life... Earth-616. Although I never met you, I followed you and a group of other Mutants," the man kept looking around him as if in wonder. "Especially the Saturday morning Cartoons..."
Remy narrowed his dark eyes at the man. "So you know what I can do?"
"Yes Remy, I know, and I'm in need your skills, your Cards..."
"Cards are my specialty."
The man let out a small laugh, "Yeah... Yeah they are..." The man stopped walking, he stared at a poster in front of a small deli. The poster read 'SPIDER MENACE STILL AT LARGE'. "Ha! The Daily Bugle! This is so Cool!" He pointed, smiling before pausing and looked Remy up and down. "You're younger then I thought you would be, and I'm guessing you don't have full control of your abilities yet, do you?"
This seemed to be a rhetorical question as the man continued from the started look he received.
"Of course you don't, that would have been too easy..." The man continued up the street. "Guess that's one of the things the writers got right then..." he rounded on him, pointing his finger at the youth. "Let me tell you about writers Remy, they think they know everything, but even they get things wrong."
"How do you know about me?" Remy asked, squaring his shoulders. "I've been careful, always moving..."
"I know a lot about this world," the man smiled before it faltered. "Well, bits and pieces anyway." The man looked up at him. "My name is Warren, Mr. LeBeau, Warren Mears. And with me I can make you very rich, even help you with your control problem."
He stared at the man, looking for anything in his face that might bite him in the ass later.
"So what do you say Gambit?" Warren said with a laugh. "Want to test your Mettle?~*^*^*^*~
"Buffy," Roberts called, dropping Xander's chart. "Carefully start rolling the blanket up." He ordered the Slayer as he reached down and unlocked the hospital beds wheels. "You, open the window." he pointed at Andrew. "No Buffy, from the feet, keep his hands connected to the blanket." He corrected her as she went to pull the blanket from his lap.
"Why?" Buffy stopped what she was doing and moved to Xander's feet. "Why does he need to keep touching it?"
"Xander is exhibiting the Powers of Gambit," Andrew informed the Slayer, Buffy just giving him an angry look. "M-Mrs. Dyson informed me, i-if he lets go, the kinetic energy will discharge." He shrunk back on himself as he opened the window.
"Discharge?" Buffy asked, now rolling the blanket up Xander's legs.
"Like the Vamps Xander dusted." Roberts informed her, Buffy stiffened before redoubling her rolling. "Tighter please Buffy..." He said taking off his own belt.
"And we're gonna have a talk about what you just said Andrew!" She hissed. "Your fault..." She muttered.
"What do you reckon Andrew? Five second fuse once out the window?" Roberts turned to the panicking face of the training Watcher.
"Traditionally, things Gambit charges explode on impact," Andrew finished with the window.
"How hard can you throw a Football?" He asked Buffy as she finished rolling the blanket into a long roll, Xander's hands resting on the top.
"Pretty Hard, why?" She gave him a look as if to say, 'Seriously?'
"Cos once I roll this into a ball," Roberts said, motioning her to stand next to him. "And wrap my belt around it, I need you to throw it out the window, as hard as you can." He placed the belt on the bed, the belt threaded through the buckle like a lasso.
"Right..." Buffy nodded. "Oooh, Xander just finished the courtyard," she looked worriedly out the window. "And he got it to look just like the Quad from Sunnydale High too. He's gonna hate having to rebuild it..."
"Aim for the fountain, hopefully the water will cushion the force of the explosion," he reassured the Slayer. "Andrew!" he called over to him.
"Yes," he rushed over.
"I'm gonna need your help," he began, delicately rolling the furthest end of the blanket roll towards him. "When I say, lift his left hand, and keep it up in the air."
"Right... I-I mean, yes." Andrew replied, his hand hovering over Xander's hands.
"Then when I say, take his right," Roberts said, pausing to look Andrew in the eyes. "I'll hand off the Blanket to Buffy, as she throws, you be ready because I'm going to push the bed away from the window, so didn't get bowled over and keep his hands from touching anything or we're gonna have to go through this all over again."
"Andrew, what is the meaning of rushing... Good Lord!" Giles appeared in the doorway followed by Mrs. Dyson.
"Alexander..." Mrs. Dyson moved to enter the room.
"No!" Buffy and Roberts exclaimed at once.
"The blanket could explode at any moment," Roberts explained. "I'm going to get Buffy to throw it out into the courtyard..."
"But Alexander just finished the courtyard," Mrs. Dyson looked out the window. "He'll have to fix it and he hates Landscaping."
"What do you need us to do Dr. Roberts?" Giles asked.
"Close the door and brace yourselves," he said before nodding to Andrew. "Now, lift the left hand." Andrew did as he was told, the Doctor rolling the blanket across Xander's lap and over his other hand. "Then when you hear the bang," he held the rolled up bundle of blanket with one hand, careful to keep Xander's right hand sandwiched between the rolls and picked up the belt with the other. "Come in with a trauma team." At Andrew's whimper of worry he added. "Just in case."
"Yes Doctor," both Watchers said in unison, closing the door behind them, muffled shouts could be heard from the pair as they ordered medical staff to keep clear.
"Ok," he said, looping the belt around the blanket and Xander's hand several times tightly and tucking in the end of the belt. "Are we all clear on what to do?"
"Lift hand, move away from window..." Andrew whimpered.
"Play Quarterback and toss the ball into the fountain, then hit the dirt." Buffy nodded.
"Good luck," Roberts nodded to Andrew.
The training Watcher lifted Xander's hand.
"One-one-thousand," Roberts counted.
Quickly Buffy grabbed the glowing pink blanket ball.
"Two-one-thousand,” he continued.
Roberts pushed the bed towards the far wall.
"Three-one-thousand," Buffy counted as well.
She stepped to the window, looking down and spotting the fountain, only slightly larger than the one from High School.
"Four-one-thousand," she continued.
She lifted her arm up and let fly the glowing bundle, only vaguely noticing the two women entering the courtyard.
"Five-one-thousand," she hissed, dropping to the floor under the window sill, hugging the wall.*^*
They had just touched down, several members of their party tired from the trip. Then again, each passenger who disembarked from the large modified Boeing Chinook HC3 Helicopter looked a little ragged. None more so than Willow Rosenberg, dressed in a long flowing skirt and white blouse, she picked up a large satchel and pulled it over her head and shoulder. She quickly shouted over the slowing twin rotors of the vehicle to a tall woman next to her, Penny Harkness, the head Technopagan and High Priestess of the Coven.
The Witch gave her a curt nod before turning and shouting her own order to the others present, the members of the Coven sprinting into action and beginning to unload heavy equipment off the former Military Aircraft. Once satisfied orders had been heard and followed, Penny picked up her own bag, slung it over her shoulder and both began to move towards the building.
They had landed on a large section of lawn that was destined to be a new P.T. Field behind the new Magic Box as everyone was now calling it. The building was four stories tall and L shaped with a large gym attached to one end. The building was made up into several sections, The Jennifer Calendar Library and Research Labs were on the top level taking up the entire floor. Administration and Watchers Offices were on the third floor of the North Wing, followed by the Gym and Training facilities on the floors below. The Jessie McNally Memorial Hospital Wing took up three levels on the West Wing of the building and was where they were headed.
They were just coming up to a small courtyard that Willow thought was very familiar, when a small bundle of brown leather and pink sailed out a third floor window and into the fountain in the middle of the courtyard.
"What the-?" Willow began.*Splash-BOOOOM!*
Both Witches were thrown off their feet by the blast, water and small debris of the fountain raining down on them. Although both were taken off guard, each had raised their own shield charm as they were thrown to the ground. Willow shook her head, her hands raised before her, holding the few drops of water and debris that had landed on her shield at bay, when she heard a soft "Tsk, tsk, tsk..." next to her. She turned her head to her companion. Penny was sitting up, moving her hands over herself, her shield disappearing along with the the debris covering it.
"I'm to assume that your friend in trouble is up there?" Penny said in an English accent, gesturing to the open window the explosive had flown from.
"Ahmm..." Willow let out, letting the shield go, the debris falling on top of her. As she was dusting herself off, Buffy popped her head out of the window, her eyes roaming over the destroyed fountain before landing on the two women on the ground.
"Ohhh, Wills, are you alright?" Buffy yelled down.
"Yep, that's them up there." Willow gave Buffy a thumbs up.
"Then I guess we got here just in time." She said, waving a hand in Willow's direction, the dust and water covering the redhead disappearing. Penny stood up and walked to the building. "Best make this quick then," she stopped by the wall of the building, looking up at the Window that Buffy was looking down at them from. "Move back Dear!" She called to the Slayer, pulling out a rod of metal. "We're coming up!" Not waiting for an answer she flicked her hand, the metal rod telescoping out to three feet, and holding out one end to Willow.
"Don't you think this is a bit showy?" Willow rolled her eyes at the Priestess, grabbing hold of the proffered rod.
"Willow," Penny stage whispered. "I'm about to meet Buffy Summers, one of the longest living Slayers, for the first time. Allow me to make an impression." She smiled.
"She won't care Pen." Willow sighed. "As long as we can help Xander-"
"Ready?" Penny looked up at the open window. "Up!" She called.
"Wait-!" Willow got out before both Witches arms were pulled upwards and they flew into the sky.
The ends of the metal rod glowed a cool blue as it lifted both women up and off the ground. Willow let out a shriek of alarm at the sudden take off, Penny smiling at the graceful way they glided through the air and up to the third floor window.
"You're such a show off," Willow looked sternly at her fellow Witch.
"Hey, I finally get to meet some Scoobies other than Mr. Giles and yourself," she replied. "You call it showing off, I call it displaying my abilities to my potential employers."
"Show off," Willow smiled as they grew level to the window.
"Stop!" Penny called out to the rod, the object stopping in mid air and hanging before the open window.
Buffy stood just inside the window and stared at the hovering pair.
"Buff," Willow reached a hand out. "Little help?"
"Oh, yeah..." She stepped forward and grabbed her friends hand, pulling her in. "Nice entrance... Mary Poppins would be proud."
Willow raised one leg, then the other onto the sill of the window and dropped into the room.
"We haven't quite got it that refined I'm afraid." Penny said as the Slayer reached out a hand to her. "Thank you," she nodded grabbing the offered hand. "But it sure beats taking the stairs."
"We do have Lifts Ms. Harkness," Mrs. Dyson cleared her throat from the doorway, Giles standing behind her. "They did cross the pond... Along with humility..."
"It's ok Mrs. Dye," Buffy began.
"-Son." Mrs. Dyson added, both Watchers entering the room along with a couple medical staff.
"...Quicker might be better." Buffy turned to look at Willow and the new Woman. "Sorry about the fountain..."
"S'ok, is it meant to look like the High School Courtyard?" Willow looked back out the window.
"Well... It did..." Buffy then turned to Xander, Andrew and Dr. Roberts. "Everyone ok?" She asked, shrugging off a Doctor who tried to check her for injuries from the blast.
"We didn't get 'Blowed' up," Roberts let out a nervous laugh, another Doctor checking him as well. "When I finally realise that, I should be ok..."
"Same..." Andrew added, still holding Xander's hands aloft, a nurse was shining a light into his eyes. "Plus, my nose is itchy..." He whined.
"Speaking of 'Blowed' up," Penny pointed out the window.
"Xander." Buffy, Giles and Andrew said as one.
"His hands again?" Willow moved to her friend in the bed.
"Yes," Buffy answered as Xander's bed was again placed in the centre of the room. "Andrew was just about to tell us what he knows about that." She crossed her arms and stared at the small man.
All eyes fell on the Nervous Nerd, Xander's gloved hands in front of him.
"Well..." He looked to the gloved hands. "It's... When me and Jonathan decided to go on the run in El Mèxico... We kinda stopped off at our Secret Lair..."
"Basement." Buffy interjected.
"Basement..." Andrew seemed to shrink in on himself again. "And we grabbed some things... Supplies and memento's and what not, like I grabbed my Limited Edition Boba Fett, my first edition of Harry Potter, British 'Philosopher' copy, not the American 'Sorcerer' version, my Star Trek TNG Replica Comm Badge, Tricorder and DustBuster Phaser, and my complete works of J. R. R. Tolkien..."
"Oh, the one with the gold leaf and the fold out maps and..." Penny began before realising everyone was staring at her. "But I g-guess that doesn't really matter at the mo."
"Point please Andrew..." Giles sighed.
"Well, I also picked up some of Warrens stuff too..." He paused, looking uneasy. "Including a pair of Leather, fingerless tactical Gloves." He raised Xander's hands in emphasis.
Buffy, Willow and Giles each seemed to react differently.
Giles cleaned his glasses and said. "I see..."
Willow looked closely at Xander's hands, softly muttering, "Interesting..."
"You put a pair of gloves that belonged to that Woman hating, Murderous, Psycho that shot me and killed Tara into MY Weapons Chest?" Buffy almost screamed.
"I didn't know they would do anything!" Andrew jumped at Buffy's reaction, almost dropping Xander's hands. "I just thought they were from his Cosplay wardrobe and they were cool looking... Helpful while we were 'On the Lam' from the cops and the Slay-her of the Vam-piers."
"Buffy please." Giles tried to explain to his Slayer. "It's just a Weapons Chest."
"Just a Weapons Chest?" Buffy rounded on the Watcher. "Just a Weapons Chest!"
"And you had no idea they were more than Gloves?" Penny now took notice of Xander's hands and moved closer.
"No" Andrew answered.
Penny and Willow were now on either side of the bed, Willow having taken one of the arms from Andrews grasp and examining it.
"We're ruled out all the usual suspects," Mrs. Dyson spoke up. "Chaos' Hands, Dreamer's Will, Sorcerer's Intent, Childhood Fancy..."
"No," Penny took the other hand from Andrew. "It wouldn't be anything like that... This is right up my alley, this has circuitry..."
"Besides," Willow added. "Warren wasn't magical, he was into robots and technology."
"Ah, but there is a hint of Magicks here," Penny smiled. "Yes... Maybe conjured through a... An object of some kind? As if the Conjurer wasn't especially Magical to begin with...."
"Magic Bone!" Andrew blurted out before letting a hint of a giggle out at his own words.
"I know I'm new," Dr. Roberts looked at the training Watcher, the medical staff began to leave the room. "But you're weird aren't you...?"
"Jonathan," Andrew ignored the Doctor. "Whenever he utilised the Forces of Darkness and Witchcraft, he would shake his Magic Bone."
"Ewww" Buffy exclaimed.
"It's an actual Bone Buffy," Willow looked up from her examination of the Gloves. "It's covered in Runes to anchor it in the higher realms and is bonded to the welder."
"Yes, that might do..." Penny held up Xander's arm in front of herself, her other hand hovered before it as she made small hand gestures as if she was writing something on the air. "It's faint... But it is similar to what we practice in the Coven. Many of the tech we use has been bonded with our Magicks to help them work, a kind of shared shortcut if you will, until the technology has been thoroughly perfected to work on its own." As Penny finished her hand gestures her eyes turn a cloudy white and shone with a warm glow. "The Coven had Mobile Phones that fit in our pockets long before people stopped lugging around the Briefcase sized monstrosities here in the states."
She blinked a few times before intently staring at the Glove before her. Everyone was quiet as she began to move Xander's hand back and fourth. Xander stirred, quickly pulling his arms from both Witches grasps and burying his head into his pillow. Everyone but the two Wiccans let out a quick gasp as his hands fell to his chest and then down at his sides to rest on the bed.
But nothing happened.
Once again the Gloves seemed to pulse and begin to fade away before them. This time it was Penny who let out a gasp.
"Im-Impossible..." She muttered, taking a step back and shaking her head. "Nothing... Nothing can do that, the power alone..."
"What?" Buffy took a step forward.
"So, what 'bracque' thing I hafta do to get p-paid, Mears?" Xander said softly, again in a Cajun accent.
"A-and the metal..." Penny said looking his body up and down. "What kind of metal is that?" Her eyes began to shine brighter.
"Penny?" Willow stopped looking at her friend in the bed and turned to her Coven leader. "Penny? What is it? What do you see?" Willow moved to the Technopagans side and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Pen?"
"W-willow?" Penny said in a whisper, as if unsure of herself. "Where did they go? Into Nothingness" she half sobbed, half giggled before pointing at Xander's prone form. "And the Bones! Metal!"
Before anyone could say something in reply the Witch went limp in Willows arms, Buffy rushing to catch the falling Woman.
"Third Eye Incantation..." Mrs. Dyson supplied to the bewildered onlookers.
"Yes," Willow answered, brushing a lock of the Priestess' auburn coloured hair from her face.
"She should have prepared an Anchor," the Watcher continued. "The information overwhelmed her... One of the reasons Our Mages didn't perform that spell."
"Thank you Elaine," Giles dismissed the Woman as Willow gave her an angry look, her mouth opening to comment. "You may go, I'm here now, I will take over Xander's case."
"As you wish Mr. Giles," Mrs. Dyson nodded her head curtly.
"Continue overseeing the preparations of the Campus," he informed her. "I'm sure Xander will not want the workmen falling behind schedule in his absence."
"Sir," she nodded again and left the room.
"Doctor," Giles looked to Roberts. "If you could organise a stretcher and a bed for Ms. Harkness please, I'm sure she would feel better if she woke up in a proper bed and not the floor."
"Yes Mr. Giles." Roberts left the room.
"Where did you drag her from?" Willow nodded to the door just as Roberts moved passed her.
"She was fired from the Old Council a few years back, she wanted them to update their training and handling of Slayers." he sighed. "But when it comes to Magicks... She means well, but she does believe in tradition. Everything planed out and..."
"Safe?" Willow supplied.
"Ok, so, plan." Buffy said as a gurney was wheeled in by a pair of nurses, Dr. Roberts following behind. She picked up the passed out Wiccan and placed her on the bed, just as she had done with Xander hours ago.
"We need to find out everything we can about these Gloves." Roberts spoke up. "I can share what we have so far, X-Rays, blood tests... I was going to schedule some more scans..."
"Yes, that would be better." Giles watched the nurses wheel out the gurney, now with a passenger. "No more third eye anything until that woman is walking about and can tell us what she saw."
"But those scans can only tell us so much..." Buffy looked at Xander.
"I might be able to help..." Andrew raised his hand.
"Andrew?" Giles asked.
"Well," again he looked nervous. "When I took the Gloves... I kinda, also... Grabbed his diary too..."
"His diary..." Buffy looked at the small man.
"As soon as I knew what it was I didn't read it!" Andrew said quickly.
"Who cares?" Willow and Buffy both said.
"Where is it?" Giles asked. "Did it survive Sunnydale?"
"Oh yeah, I put it in a safe place." Andrew smiled, moving to exit the room.
"Where?" Giles asked.
Andrew paused in the doorway and turned to the Watcher. "I put it with the other diaries." He shrugged.
"What?" Giles hissed.
"It's up in the Library." Andrew pointed up at the ceiling, indicating the library upstairs.
"My Library?" Giles stood open mouthed.
Yeah..." Andrew beamed, turning and heading for the elevators and the Library above.
"He... He...?" Giles turned around slowly. "He put that Mentally Deranged, Manipulative, Egotistical Bastard's Diary in amongst the Diaries of Past Watchers and Slayers?" Giles, ripped off his glasses. "In my Library?"
"Giles please..." Buffy said with a smirk. "It's just a Library."
"Just a Libra-," he almost yelled before catching himself. "Oh Harr-Harr."~*^*^*^*~
Au revoir tout le monde - Goodbye everyone
Bracque - Crazy~*^*^*^*~
Sorry nothing really happened in this Chapter, but I had to do it to introduce the new Wicca Penny Harkness and reveal who designed the Gloves. Feel free to use his name now in Reviews if you want and I'm sorry I imposed that ban at the end of the last chapter, I know a few of you were annoyed by that...
I've written a few Diary entries of Warrens that show how the Gloves came to be... But at the moment I'm not sure if I should intermingle it into this story, as if a character is reading the diary, or start a new Story, as if each chapter was a diary entry.
Let me know in the reviews...
I-If you like, you know, wanna review...