"Indeed it does, and it would be such a shame to damage you when you finally managed to get everyone into Sunneydale still though if I must I must." The Professor said a little reluctantly.
The texaswookie ground his teeth, as he felt the pain in his skull begin to increase, as he stubbornly remained quiet. “Problem with what your doing Xavier is that I know you ain’t a killer.” The writer says, wiping the blood that was starting to trickle from his nose.
“True, but I can control you if I have to.” Xavier informs him.
“Damn.” Texaswookie mumbles before his eyes glazed over and he started talking. “The writer would like to say that he does not own any of the various characters in this story, and is making no money off of this, and is just having fun.”
“There now, was that so hard?” Xavier asked, as he faded from view.
“Damn meddler.” The Texan grumbles, as he grabs some painkiller for his monster headache.
Connor MacLeod gripped his sword tightly as he made his way through the graveyard. In any other town the Highlander would have been able to walk through this place with ease, but here that was simply not possible. It was likely that the ground here was no longer consecrated, making no place safe for any of them. The dark feeling that surrounded this town was one indication that something was wrong. This darkness was changing the town into some twisted evil version of itself. He had no doubt that if the First succeeded, this ghost town would be overflowing with demons and other creatures of darkness. It would be like an airport terminal where all of the darkest elements were present. This darkness made him want to run and hide where he would be safe from the evil that he could almost taste, but that he could not do. First and foremost, he was a Highlander, and he and his kind never ran from trouble unless they had to. Fighting was a part of their life, and he would be damned if he was going to back off just because it could make itself look like people that he had loved and cared for.
The Immortal Highlander sighed as he sat down. He was near where he wanted to be; he just had to be patient and he would be rewarded. He had checked the city records and knew that what he wanted was here. If he understood this girl correctly, she would come here eventually. He looked down and smiled as he saw a blonde figure already heading to the place that he had been scouting. Yes, he understood the questions that she needed to ask of herself. They were the kind of questions that all people eventually asked of themselves after they lost something that was important. They had to ask themselves what their next move would be, and places like this were where the question was asked the most. He could remember times that he had done the same thing, first with Ramirez, then his mother, and finally with his darling wife. He had laid them all down to rest, oh so long ago. He looked at the figure and saw her ancestor, Hannah, all over again. The girl was a few inches shorter, but he wouldn’t be surprised to find that the girl had the same fiery eyes that had made Hannah a woman that was both feared and loved when he had known her. He had been her godfather and he had vowed to protect the rest of her family and had done his best to keep that promise.
He got up and moved away from the site. ‘I’ll return later,’ he promised himself. This was a private matter that the girl, no Buffy, had to attend to on her own. It was not right for another warrior to spy like this while she was grieving. Were she an enemy, then maybe, but that was not the case here. He would wait at one of the exits and hope that he would not lose her again. Adjusting the katana one last time, he disappeared into the shadows of the graveyard.
Buffy sighed as she looked at the headstones in front of her. Directly in front of her was her mother’s grave, and off to the side was her own headstone. The parting words her so-called friends had put on it seemed to mock her. One of those headstones was for a hero; the other was one of the things that held a hero together. In her moments of reflection, she knew that it was right before her mother’s death that she had started to lose control of her life. First Riley left, then she died, and then she was yanked out of Heaven. Supposedly because Willow thought she was in a hell dimension, but now she wondered if it wasn’t so she could fight all the bad guys for them. After the shock of rising, there had been the relationship with Spike that had ended badly, and while they were no longer lovers, they were friends. And now there was this mess with the First and Caleb, which was why Xander was now walking around with only one eye. It hurt that he couldn’t look at her without resentment anymore. What hurt even more though, was that he and the others would rather follow Faith than her during this whole mess. Though deep inside, a part of her was glad that she was no longer the one that had to be responsible for them anymore. Even if the way it had been done had been painful. She just hoped that they survived this mess.
“What do I do, mom? I feel so confused,” she asked the headstone as she knelt in front of the last memorial of her mother that she really had. “A part of me feels like I should be angry at them for this. Isn’t this why they took me away from you? So I could be the one to deal with all this darkness? Yet when something doesn’t go the way we planned, they just get rid of me. Did I really mess things up for them that badly? The thing is though, the other part of me thinks that maybe they’re right. Was I being an unreasonable bitch, or did they all get scared? Were they tired of being hurt? Giles used to always be about duty and all, yet he agreed with breaking us apart like this when we need to be strong. It’s like Adam all over again. We don’t trust each other anymore.”
“What can I do that the First won’t be expecting? Is there any kind of sign you can give me? Or am I going to have to really and truly do this without the help of all the others?” Her voice was tinged with acceptance and fear at this thought.
After she was done speaking, it was as if someone turned on a lightshow behind her.
The X-men and the golden trio approached the graveyard cautiously as the winged horse entered the cemetery. Hesitating for only a moment, everyone got out so they could hopefully see where they were going more easily. The horse raised its head and made a cry of some sort before it headed in a direction that had statues all around it. “I’d say it’s got the scent or something,” Wolverine said. The others just nodded in agreement as they watched the threstal.
“I do believe that your sinister appearing steed wishes to be unrestricted while it searches,” Beast said to the three children that had joined them on their mission of mercy. Nodding, Harry unhooked the carriage from the horse yet again. Wolverine moved over to the other side and released the clasps on that side as well.
“Remind me why we hooked this critter up in the first place?” Wolverine asked.
“Because we didn’t know that we were going to be walking through a graveyard,” Harry returned to the gruff man as they released the final clasp. The two stepped back as the horse shook itself then stretched its wings, before it trotted off into the night.
“Well, shall we?” Nightcrawler questioned, offering his arm to Storm. The white haired woman smiled as she accepted his arm and allowed the blue mutant to escort her. The two groups all walked as silently as possible as they passed the headstones. Some of the names that stood out on the headstones were familiar; ones that they had read about, names that actually meant something. Eugene Snyder: School Tyrant. Jenny Calendar: Beloved Teacher and Friend. Jesse McNally: Best of Friends. Tara McClay: Beloved Daughter of the Earth. There were others that weren’t as well known. Harmony Kendall: Fashion Police of SD. Most of the mutants and wizards couldn’t help but feel like they were trespassing in some way or another. The silence was only broken by the sound of Nightcrawler muttering prayers for the souls of the departed. The prayers seemed to help some of them, and they walked a little easier. The horse, oblivious to all this, walked around another statue and came to a stop, looking at something that was out of their sight.
Swallowing nervously, Cyclops and Havoc lengthened their strides. The two men looked down another row of headstones and saw a familiar blonde figure standing there. They saw that the blonde appeared to be muttering something to one of the headstones. “What do you want to bet that’s the First, still up to its games?” Alex asked his older brother.
“No bet,” Scott replied angrily.
“Think the Professor will mind if we cut loose?”
“You know, I really don’t care right now,” Cyclops told his brother. “He’ll just have to live with the fact that we’re only human, and that we just lost a piece of our family.”
“Then let’s do it,” Alex said, charging himself up. The two men fired blasts of white and red energy at the figure that was standing in the middle of the graveyard. They watched as at the last instant, the figure dropped below the blasts, and rolled behind another statue.
“Cute trick, pretending that it might actually get hurt,” Scott muttered as he walked down the hill carefully. He wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of trap waiting for them down there.
“Vhat are you two shooting at?” Nightcrawler asked as he appeared in a cloud of smoke and brimstone.
“Sorry, we saw the First and kind of lost it,” Havoc replied a little sheepishly. What had seemed like a good idea now seemed rather silly, when you considered it.
“Vell get control of yourselves,” the blue mutant admonished them.
“All right,” the two replied, feeling slightly embarrassed about what they had done. They didn’t have long to be embarrassed though, since they were tackled by a figure in tan a moment later. The two mutants and their attacker went rolling down the hill from the force of the attack. Nightcrawler saw the others join them in time to see the two brothers get tackled.
Colossus armored up and prepared to assist the two brothers, but was stopped by a lethal claw blocking his way. “They’re big enough to handle themselves, kid,” Wolverine said. “Besides, we’re in trouble if they can’t beat those kinds of odds,” he added as they all turned to watch the fight.
“It helps that if you’re wrong about their abilities, you get to not only watch them get beaten, but you also get to be the one that will most likely rush to their aide,” Xavier said dryly. “I seem to recall Scott mentioning something similar after you woke up.”
“Gotta get my kicks somehow. Besides, I owe him for that remark,” Wolverine returned unrepentantly as they continued to watch the fight. Colossus reluctantly powered down after a glare from Wolverine. “Oh yeah, and I say at least one brother goes down before they win.”
“Is that a fact, Herr Logan?”
“Well I say that our mystery guest wins.”
“Really? Care to put a case of beer on that?”
“Gladly.” The two mutants shook hands on the small bet.
“Hmm, I say that it will end up in a draw,” Beast commented.
“Are you saying you want in on this as well, McCoy?” Wolverine asked, surprised that the brainy mutant would want in on something like this.
“Yes. That is, if you aren’t scared.”
“You willing to bet beer, doc?”
“Then you got yourself a bet, McCoy.” The three men shook hands before turning back to the fight.
As the three began getting up, the unknown person kicked Havoc, sending him flying a few feet before he landed painfully on the ground. The blow not only got him out of the way, but had driven the air from his lungs as well. The attacker then turned to Cyclops and began hitting him with smaller jabs that the mutant leader was just barely dodging out of the way of. ‘It’s a good thing he’s good at dodgeball,’ Wolverine thought as one jab broke the arm off of a statue. It was hard not to be impressed by the unknown attacker when it was holding it’s own against both of the Summers boys. Especially when you considered that they had the equivalent combined destructive power of a nuclear warhead when they gave it their all.
Havoc sent a blast at the attacker, but they merely dropped to the ground again, the beam passing harmlessly over them and continuing on until it hit Cyclops. The beam of energy struck Cyclops right in the chest, and while the destructive energy was absorbed into the older Summers brother, the force of the shot sent him flying back several feet. Groaning, Cyclops fired at a large overhead tree branch, which fell down and struck the unknown attacker, pinning them to the ground. The two brothers began to circle the figure, hoping to get either a killing or stunning shot in before it regained its senses. They both managed to keep far enough away in case the unknown attacker had any other surprises. Their caution was rewarded when the figure heaved the tree branch off and tossed it in Havoc’s direction. The branch would have hit him if he’d been too close, but at this distance he was only clipped, sending him spinning. The blow also messed up any hope he had at a shot for the moment as the figure flipped back up and tackled Cyclops. Again the red-visored mutant felt his breath leave his lungs as he was thrown back to the ground. The unknown attacker was on top and had their fist raised, ready to smash Cyclop’s head in. Cyclops fingered the hidden controller for his visor, ready to tap the button in his glove, but waited for the figure to be lined up just right, or they might only get a glancing blow. The figure paused a moment as if catching their breath, and actually looked at him.
“Too Cool?” a familiar voice asked him in surprise.
“Short Stack?” an equally surprised voice asked. “But I thought you were dead.”
“Not yet,” the blonde replied.
“But the First can make itself look just like you,” he argued to his very obviously alive cousin that was sitting on top of him.
“Eh, I got better,” the Slayer said as she got off the mutant. "No offense, but I don’t think we're that kind of cousins, Scottie. By the way, I love the whole biker boy look,” she told her now blushing cousin.
"Yeah, you’re definitely Buffy. No one else could ever make those comments and not only keep a straight face, but be completely honest about them."
"Thank you,” she said cheekily.
“Hang on, Scott!” Havoc called as he got back up and charged the two of them. His uninjured arm, pointing in their direction, was already glowing.
“Alex, unless you want an angry cousin coming at you, I think you better stop where you are,” Scott warned his brother.
“Huh?” the mutant questioned before he was tackled in a hug.
“Alex,” the Slayer squealed joyfully. “What are you guys doing here?”
“We ah, came to help you actually,” Alex answered in surprise. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead? Not that I’m complaining,” he added quickly.
“So by helping me, you thought that meant it was okay to shoot at me?” she questioned in annoyance as she hit both her cousins upside the head.
“Hey, ow. Besides, we thought you were dead!” Alex said, rubbing the back of his head. “How were we supposed to know that you were still alive?”
“Sorry to disappoint you, cuz, but you guys are stuck with me.”
“The only question I have is: is that a threat or a promise?” Alex teased his cousin.
The blonde just threw him a dirty look. “So what’s with the laser beams? You guys could rent yourselves out to Hollywood with those thingies.”
“Yeah, or something like that,” Scott said quietly.
“So, are you two actually going to hug me back, or am I the only one giving hugs today?” she asked her cousins.
The two brothers grinned as they caught their little cousin in a sandwich hug. “It’s good to see ya, Shorty.”
“You too, Smart Alec.”
“Told ya they’d do all right,” Wolverine said smugly. “Though that wasn’t quite the result I was expecting,” he admitted, watching the three figures below them. “Girl didn’t do too bad either. She actually managed to keep them too busy to form any real strategy, and used their own powers against them.”
“Careful, Logan, she is after all a Summers. What would Scott do if he found out that a member of his family impressed you?”
“Probably die of a heart attack. Or collect money from someone that he had made a bet with.”
“Speaking of bets, I prefer bottles. They are so much easier to hold onto than the cans are, though you might humor me with some wine.” Wolverine merely grunted in acknowledgment, while Nightcrawler nodded.
“So do we need to go down there?” Bobby asked.
“No, I’m sure that they’ll be up here in a moment,” Xavier said. “Give them a few minutes to not try and kill each other as a greeting. If they’re still down there, one of us will see if we can’t convince them to join us.”
“You know, Hermione, I never would have pegged you for having a violent family. Maybe we should have realized that during third year though, after you knocked Malfoy down,” Ron joked.
“I have a violent family? This from the person whose oldest brother is a curse breaker? While another one is raising dragons? And the twins push every level of authority that’s possible? And you think I have a violent family? If yours isn’t violent, then it’s a family full of some of the biggest risk takers I’ve ever seen. That doesn’t even count the fact that your father makes misuse laws and then turns around and breaks them before the ink is even dry,” she finished rather smugly, as if daring him to prove her wrong.
“Err, well…” the red head started, scratching the back of his head as the tips of his ears began turning red in embarrassment.
“Easy there, you two,” Harry told his friends, a flicker of a smile on his face as he watched his best friends argue.
“C’mon, we’ll introduce you to the rest of the team, and some people that we picked up along the way,” Cyclops said, ending the reunion.
“Well, since I don’t really have anywhere else to be at the moment, that sounds like a great idea.”
“Well then let me lead you, Short Stack.”
“Sorry, Too Cool, but around here they call me the Slayer”
“Yeah? Well the team calls us Cyclops and Havoc, and unless you want us referring to you as Short Stack all the time, you might want to remember that,” Cyclops jokingly threatened.
“Try it, and you’ll see just what it takes to be a Slayer,” the young woman warned her cousins, though her grin took away the edge from the threat.
The Slayer stopped joking as she saw a horse standing in front of them. The Slayer stared at the horse, which just seemed to ooze darkness. Yet at the same time, there was something almost noble about the creature, which called to the non-Slayer side of her; almost as much as it’s creature of darkness bit called out to her Slayer side. “You’re an awful good horsie, aren’t you?” she commented as she pet the animal.
“Horsie?” Alex snorted. “What are you, three or something?”
“Seeing as I can throw you across a room without breaking a sweat, you might want to consider being nice to me,” she warned the taller man behind her.
“I’ll think about it,” the cosmic powered mutant replied, grinning at his cousin.
The Slayer didn’t reply to the baiting, instead she tensed slightly as she sensed other people nearby. Looking up, she saw that off to the side were about a dozen other people watching her. Most of them were wearing black leathers outfits like Scott and Alex, but three of them were wearing regular clothes with some type of black capes or cloaks. And two of the leather wearers didn’t exactly look like they were going to make it as sexiest body around with all that body hair they were sporting. Not to mention that one of them had blue fur, while the other one had blue skin and what looked like a tail.
One of the almost regularly dressed people walked up to her and seemed rather excited as she offered her hand. “You must be Buffy,” the girl said, in what was obviously a British accent.
“Last time I checked my I.D. I was,” the blonde admitted as she shook the girl’s hand. She looked the girl up and down and was impressed with what she saw. The girl was about Dawn’s age, had bushy brown hair, and a knowing look in her chocolate colored eyes that was similar to Willow’s when she met one of the demons they had been researching and it was willing to talk to talk to her.
“How do you do? I’m Hermione Granger.”
“Granger?” Buffy asked, wrinkling up her nose as she tried to pull up something from her memory. “Aren’t we related somehow? That name sounds really familiar to me.”
“Yes, we are,” the girl answered, happy to be recognized. “Like I said, I’m from the Granger side of the family. It’s actually quite exciting to finally meet another member of the family who is aware of magic,” she gushed excitedly.
“Oh, so you do magic?”
“Yes, ma’am,” she replied, oblivious to the slight wince Buffy gave at being addressed that way. “My friends and I go to a school in Scotland to learn how to use our magic.”
The blonde grinned. “One, don’t call me ma’am or Ms. Summers. I am in no way that old.” Hermione flushed, but nodded as her friends snickered at her discomfort at being told not to address an authority figure the way one should. “Two, I didn’t even know that there were magic schools.”
“Yes, I gathered as much,” Hermione said, nodding her head in understanding. “And after a lot of research, I believe I figured out why you’ve never heard of any, or why your friend never got a letter from the Salem Academy.” She didn’t notice the flinching motion her cousin made at the reference to one of the people that had just kicked her out of her own home, though two of the others noticed. “You see, we use a type of magic that comes from the inside, and then we use our wands as foci to send our magic outwards. Whereas your witch friends are more like practicing a religion that gives them power due to their dedication.”
“So basically what you’re saying is that your magic comes from the inside, while Will’s comes from the outside?”
The witch blinked a few times, before nodding in acceptance at this simplifying of her opening introduction. “How in the world did you figure that out so fast?” the red head asked in shock. “She usually has to explain that stuff to us three times before we understand her,” he complained to the woman that their escorts had nearly barbecued with their odd spells.
“Practice at listening to that kind of stuff,” Buffy told the kid.
“Yes, well I’m sure we can wait on introductions for a moment, because I fear that I sense great danger approaching,” Xavier warned as he rolled to the front of the group.
“Gee, you really know how to introduce a girl, don’t you?” a sarcastic voice said as another version of Buffy popped into view.
“The First,” the real Buffy groaned. “Family, and friends of family, may I introduce you to the current pain in my ass: master of depressing disguises and all around troublemaker, the one and only, First Evil. Don’t suppose any of you know whether or not I can sue it for the use of my face? Grocery shopping has been a real pain lately.”
“Sorry, but I’m not sure exactly how copyright laws work with mystical entities,” Xavier replied, the edges of his lips twitching upward at the joke. It was amazing to him, as he watched this girl, only a few years older than his junior X-Men team, that she was already destroying the uneasy feeling that this being of evil manifested with just a couple of well placed jokes. Even if her joke material was in need of some work, it was truly amazing that she was able to do it when one considered all of the self-doubt he was sensing from her. He would ask her about the emotional pain later, when no one was around to listen.
“Cute,” the First returned. “Of course, words are about all you’ve got left anymore, aren’t they? I mean it’s not like you have an army or anything to back your words up with now.”
“I swear, at times I think you’re more petty than Cordellia ever was.”
“Whatever,” the First replied, smirking. “Besides, how long do you think they’ll actually follow your lead?” The Slayer just glared at her double. “Not to mention that I’ve already met most of the people here in one form or another. Haven’t I, Alex?” The Summers brothers just glared at the thing that had used Jean’s memory for it’s own purpose. “Or how about you three?” the First asked, turning to the trio. “I mean my ghost characters were fun to talk to, weren’t they? After all, we talked about such fascinating things, like schoolbooks, chess, and even girls.”
“You were giving advice on girls? Now that is just scary,” the Slayer cracked. “Whoever got that is probably going to be even more confused about the subject than before.”
The First ignored her as it focused on the teens. “I must admit that getting Snape to leave that book of his behind was amusing. After that, it was easy getting that book into your hands, hero.” The three teens clenched their hands in anger. “Oh, did I hurt your feelings by explaining how gullible you three are? The hero, the sidekick, and the smartest witch are upset because they were outsmarted. And I must say the jealousy spells worked quite nicely on you two, don’t you think? Especially on you little girl, I barely had to have you hit with one, what with that pride of yours.”
The three realized what that meant as they looked at each other in shock. “I’m gonna rip you apart!” the red head finally yelled as he tried to lunge at the First, only to be held back by his friends.
“Don’t try it, Ron,” Hermione said. “It might be a trap.”
“Are you done tormenting us yet?” the dark haired teen asked, meeting the eyes of the First, and trying not to shake with the anger he felt.
“I’ll be back later, kids, you can count on that,” the First promised as it disappeared in a flash of light.
“Well, that was fun,” Buffy said, her rigid posture relaxing as if she had been afraid to show any weakness in front of the evil being that had stood in front of them a moment ago.
Logan chuckled. “You’re the master of understatement, ain’t ya, darling?”
“Eh, it’s a living,” the Slayer returned, but there was no longer a smile on her tired face. “Let’s find a place to talk, since I don’t think I’m going to be convincing any of you to leave.”
“Yes, that is quite right. Besides, after having made such an arduous trip in getting here, I can hardly consider leaving just yet,” Hank said, stepping hesitantly into the light. Despite his worries, the Slayer just gave him a brief nod.
“Sounds like a beautiful plan, darling,” Logan said as they followed the blonde out of the graveyard. “By the way, you boys cost me a case of beer due to your crappy work. I won’t forget that,” he grumbled at the Summers brothers.
(Couldn’t resist the I got better comment)