- Permanent Injury
- Alternate Universe
- Dimensional Travel
Willow sat on the couch in Giles private library and flattened the pages of the book Elis had left behind, her brow wrinkled in confusion.
“What does it say?” Giles asked in irritation.
“I don’t know,” Willow admitted. “It’s not in English.” She turned the page. “But, this is Xander’s handwriting. I…I don’t understand. What…what language is this? It looks familiar, but…”
“Let me see it.” Giles reached out a hand.
Willow handed over the thin book reluctantly.
“Hmm,” Giles said after a minute. He moved over to one of the bookshelves and pulled out a heavy tomb. After flipping through for several minutes he hummed. “Yes. This looks like Kre’ut spell weaving incantations, sort of.”
“What do you mean, sort of?” Willow asked, sitting up straight, her back stiff. Why would Xander have written any sort of magical anything in a demonic language?
“Well, this text indicates that no two spell weavings are the same. Each one is original and specific to the weaver.” Giles explained.
“Why would Elis have a book of Kre’ut spell weavings written by Xander? Why would Xander have written such a thing?”
Giles sighed. “I don’t know, Willow. The spell you used to bring those people here, they said that was kre’ut, where did you get it?”
“Lorraine found it, but it was already translated. I didn’t know what language it was. She added a few things she thought might help. But that still doesn’t explain why Xander would have written spell weavings in a demon language.”
“As I said, Willow, I don’t know. Perhaps we should ask him. It’s possible there are a great many things about his life Xander hasn’t told us.”
Willow thought about the Eye and how Xander had never told her how he had acquired it. “I guess. I just worry about him, you know? He’s never been the same, not since Sunnydale, and Anya…not since Caleb took his eye.”
“Willow,” Giles sighed. “Xander is almost thirty-five years old, older than you, in fact. While you have stayed here in the relative safety of headquarters with the new watchers and Slayers, and your coven, Xander has been out there, in the world, brokering deals with who knows what to bring back items we have asked him for. Sometimes he brought us things we didn’t request, or information we didn’t know we needed. Do you know what that tells me?”
“No.” Willow nearly whispered.
“That his contacts are far better than ours.” Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Would I like to know where he has been and what he has seen? Yes, but I will not force those answers from him, and neither should you.”
Willow watched as the older man walked out of his own library and sighed. She grasped what he was trying to say, but she felt that Giles didn’t have the same understanding of Xander that she had. He hadn’t known Xander as long, nor did he always get Xander, not the way she did. Or the way she used to. She was honest, at least in the privacy of her own head, that she often didn’t get him anymore. It seemed like the farther away they moved from Sunnydale, the farther away they moved from each other, and it didn’t matter how much she tried to keep him close or get him to stay in England, he always had one foot out the door.
Sighing, Willow stood and made her way to the other bookshelf, the one where the practical books were kept. If she was going to help Xander she was going to need to figure out where he was first.
Xander was a little nervous introducing his new friends to his mentor. He couldn’t even articulate why exactly. He’d only known John and Sam for less than a week and most of that time had been spent either trying to figuring out what had happened or traveling.
The trip back to the Kre’ot had been mostly uneventful and the farther away from the UK that they traveled the more comfortable Xander had become. He was forced to admit to himself that maybe it was time to stop pretending he belonged with the others. He had made his own way out here in the wild and while he could live in an urban environment, he couldn’t live with the Slayers and Watchers and pretend he was one of them.
“Heads up.” John murmured.
Xander stopped and looked ahead of himself. John was about three meters ahead of him and Ronar. He was dead stopped and his purple was completely overshadowed with the gray. Xander had come to realize that was was John’s tension bleeding through. Sam and Elis were standing just to Xander’s right and he looked past John and saw a group of black and red blobs of color. Xander could tell there were several of them. He moved forward and tilted his head as he examined them sighed, analyzing what his new vision was telling him.
“Xander,” Sam said worriedly.
“It’s fine.” He said calmly, reaching behind him and grabbing the Eye from the leather carrier John had made for his back. He felt along the end and pressed several of the runes in succession and it expanded. He touched another rune and he felt an energy wave crest over them and then the black and red colors winked out.
“Was that supposed to happen?” Ronar asked cautiously.
“I think so,” Xander said as he re-sized the Eye and put it away. “What exactly happened?”
Xander heard John grunt as he moved away towards where the black and red blobs had been.
“They’re dead,” John said after a minute.
“Then they were a threat,” Xander said. “Come on, we can probably make the village by nightfall.”
“How do you know they were a threat?” Sam asked as she hurried to catch up.
Xander paused, unsure how to articulate something he just knew. “The Eye of Trevhamon is old, older than is known. It’s sentient, but it can’t function alone. It could read the aura of those…people. They are dead because they were a threat. We’re unharmed because we are not.”
“Works for me,” John said.
Xander looked at Sam and watched as the red and white in her aura filtered out and the purple took up more space, telling Xander she had calmed down. He hoped Fleh’mu could figure out what Willow had intended because he wasn’t sure how to help these two.
Willow stared up at the building in front of her. Her tracking spell had led her here, and she knew she was in the right place, but she felt a little nervous. Not only was this house in a neighborhood she knew was heavy in supernatural activity, but she wasn’t so sure she should be barging into Xander’s space. She knew he wasn’t comfortable in Headquarters and no matter how much she tried to change that, he never stayed for long. She always felt weird barging into his rooms, even when he was around, and now, given the situation, knowing he had sought sanctuary somewhere else, she wasn’t sure how she felt about entering the space alone.
She knew he wasn’t home. She could sense that much, but she needed to know more about him and where he might be. Sighing she closed her eyes she reached out with her magic. She felt resistance, Some kind of wards, nothing she had come across before. These weren’t Elis’ magic or anyone else in her coven. Maybe that man Xander had brought with him, the demon? They seemed to have an otherness about them. She took a deep breath and pushed harder. She felt them shatter and she shuddered before entering the house.
Willow looked around once with her normal human senses before venturing further into the rooms in the back. The place was empty. Completely. Once she had looked in every cabinet and closet and room, she did one final sweep with her magic to ensure nothing had been hidden. Nothing had. She finally collapsed onto the floor and wept.
Xander was gone. He’d left and swept the place clean, there was nothing for her here to trace. If he didn’t return, there was nothing she could do about it.
“Alex?” Elis asked softly. She had been speaking to Fleh’mu’s daughter about the situation back in England while her mother spoke to the Grimms and Xander about Willow’s spell. Elis had kept an eye on Xander and saw when he had stopped speaking and had frozen in place, followed by a shudder running through his body.
“I’m fine,” Alex called out. He murmured something to John and then turned back to Fleh’mu.
“They are Ro’tun.” She’baru said softly.
Elis turned to look at Xander and John Grimm who were standing close enough to each other that their shoulders were brushing. She allowed her second sight to flair and saw the way that Xander’s blue aura blended with John’s purple. “Yes, they are.”
“And you, Elisabeta Iara, have you seen what lies ahead for yourself?” She’baru asked pointedly.
Elis felt her cheeks heat as her own gaze drifted to the group speaking with the Kre’ot shamaness. Samantha chose that moment to look across the clearing and their eyes met. “I have,” Elis whispered to the healer.
“What is it?” John murmured when Xander froze and then shuddered. He stepped closer in an unconscious desire to shield the younger man.
“Willow has broken through my wards,” Xander said on a sigh.
“I thought you said she didn’t know where you were staying.”
“She didn’t,” Xander admitted. “But her magic is strong, and tracking me wouldn’t have been difficult.”
“Will she be able to find us here?” Sam asked in concern.
“No.” Xander shook his head. “When I placed the wards, I cleaned the space so she wouldn’t be able to track anything from there.”
“Good,” John squeezed his shoulder.
“Jesh’ar, this child was asking the universe to bring forth what you need, for balance and comfort, but I fear she added something here which was not in the original spell.” Fleh’mu pointed to some words handwritten in the margin.
Xander groaned. “That’s never ended well.”
“What’s it say?” John peered over Xander’s shoulder, brushing against him.
“Power and strength. In Latin.” Xander answered, feeling disappointed and wrung out.
“Why not in the same language as the rest of the spell?” Sam asked curiously.
“Well, I’m not sure if she even knew what language it was in. The book she used was partially translated already so she didn’t need to translate it herself, so there was no need for her to learn any of the basics of the language. Plus, there is no word in Kre’ot for Power or Strength, not in how she used them in this line here. They don’t have those kinds of concepts. I’m still not sure why adding those two things would have brought you here, unless it was the balance and comfort part, what with the whole Ro’tun thing.”
John opened his mouth as if he was about to say something but then he stopped. “The Ro’tun thing?” John repeated.
Fleh’mu chuckled. “He means your…bond. You are as one…do your people not join in this manner?”
John opened his mouth and then closed it again, completely at a loss for words. Sam snickered at her brother before he scowled at her and shook his head. “Anyway, I think I know why her spell brought us here, and it has nothing to do with any bond.”
“Oh?” Xander looked interested.
“Sam?” John looked at his sister meaningfully. Sam nodded her concurrence and he reached inside the jacket he was wearing when they had arrived. It had been washed since then, but the soldier seemed attached to it, so Xander didn’t begrudge him his armor. He pulled out a small vial of a golden liquid. “I think maybe the spell might have interpreted this as a cure.”
“O-kay.” Xander drew out the word. “What is it?”
“C24,” Sam answered.
“Alright, I’ll bite.” Xander huffed. “What, exactly, is C24?”
“Perhaps, Jesh’ar, you and your guests should take this into your tent?” Fleh’mu interrupted.
“Yeah, okay.” he led John and Sam through part of the village to the left where the forest branched off. Elis joined them after a moment, as he knew she would. As close as he was to her, he knew that he wasn’t the only reason the seer had decided to accompany them.
“On our world, twenty years ago, a portal was discovered in Nevada that led to an ancient city on Mars. Our parents were researchers who died there. They reopened the portal several years ago, and I went there as part of the science team. I’m a forensic archaeologist and a geneticist. Recently there was an accident in one of the labs and the company behind the research sent a unit of marines to secure the research.”
Xander’s eyes went to directly to John and he noticed John’s purple was completely obliterated by the gray, which told him how tense he was.
“We were the only two to make it out alive,” John grunted.
“Is that when Willow grabbed you?” Xander asked remembering how they had smelled and apparently looked like they’d been through a battle when they arrived.
“Yes,” Sam admitted. “The research was in artificial genetics.” Sam motioned towards the vial John was still holding. “We had found some remains on Mars that showed that the inhabitants had an extra chromosome from humans and that it made them super strong, intelligent, etc… we also noted that older specimens didn’t have it.”
“Indicating that it was artificial,” Elis said. “Let me guess, your scientists tried to recreate it and it didn’t go so well.”
“Not at all.” Sam agreed. “About ten percent of the population it worked on, but the rest, it mutant into…monsters. It seemed to be able to judge a person’s integrity, or worth or something.”
“Lovely.” Xander sighed then narrowed his eyes. “When you arrived, Sam was pretty wounded, but you didn’t seem concerned. Did you give her this…C24?”
“Yes.” John said, not even a little apologetic.
Xander didn’t suppose he would be either. If Sam was injured enough that an experimental drug was her only hope. Plus, Sam seemed like a pretty honest person to him, so it wasn’t much of a risk. “So, you think the spell interpreted this C24 as the answer Willow was looking for?”
John shrugged. “I was dying when Sam dosed me with it. I passed out, for maybe forty minutes, but then I woke up, everything was healed. You’re not ill or injured, so maybe whatever decides these things thinks it can heal your sight.”
“Maybe, but I lost one of my eyes ten years ago, and the other one was…mystical, and I’m not sure why exactly, but I can’t see with human eyes and utilize my aural vision, and my aural vision is tied to my connection to the Eye, so even if I took this C24, it wouldn’t give me my sight back.”
John looked at him for a long minute before he nodded once, sharply. “Good enough for me.”