The Dreamer of a Thousand Names for Starlight (cloudtrader) wrote,
The Dreamer of a Thousand Names for Starlight
cloudtrader

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Last (late) WIP Amnesty Day post

Okay, this is one of the few WIPs I have that I still think I can work with. My beta said that I jumped into the slash bits too fast at the end of this snippet, and that I didn't explain things adequately, and stuff and... yeah, I agree. Still. *sigh* This one is agonizing, and I actually have more than this written, and an alternate scene to the one where Xander wakes up from his faint, but eh. Whatever. You don't have to read it. In fact, you shouldn't. (No. I am not insecure. What!?!)

Title: Life Lessons Through Comics
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/DC Comics
Stalled by: Insecurity


TITLE: Life Lessions Through Comics (or, Xander Does DC)
AUTHOR: Soul Spinner / Jade Marmalade
FANDOM: Buffy the Vampire Slayer / DC Comics Universe (crossover)
RATING: ?
WARNING: ?
PAIRING: ?
DISCLAIMER: Shee-ya, right! I just wish I owned them and made money from them!
SPOILERS: Uh, takes place before Riley left but after Xan was split in two and some time around issue #19 of “The Titans” comic book.
DEDICATION: To Obsidian Rogue for the encouragement, to the All-Duckers Squad for the info, to Marv Wolfman for actually talking to me, to Oshun Anat for turning me on to the joys of slash, and to my mum – just because.


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Life Lessons Through Comics
by Soul Spinner / Jade Marmalade
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Prologue

It started simply enough, with what should have be a perfectly harmless obsession. Xander Harris liked comic books. A lot. To others, to people who didn’t understand, comics were childish. They were an uneasy marriage of art and literature that defiled both forms. Reading comics was something you were supposed to have gotten over by sixth grade. After that, it was something you did in secret, furtively hiding the evidence of your shame, and washing your hands afterward. Even his best friend, even Jesse, didn’t truly understand the lure of them. Sure, Jesse read them, even talked about comics like they were real, but he didn’t truly understand.

To Xander, comics were like windows into other worlds, other universes that seemed more real than his own. He felt close to the characters. He knew their thoughts, felt their pain, shared in their love, and held their secrets. Sometimes, the characters that he read about became more real to him than any in the “Real World” and that was something he savored deeply. Reading about Peter Parker’s troubles with his boss and his girlfriend while still saving the world let Xander forget about his own problems. Being there as Spawn or the Wetworks crew beat up on some baddie gave *him* release, made *him* feel powerful.

It was almost an addiction. And the best part was that it never ended. The stories just went on and on and on. Sure, a title might be canceled, or a character might die, but there was always the chance that the characters of the title would be incorporated into another one, there was always the possibility that the defunct character would come back from the dead.

But reading comics was an exquisite torture, too. He *longed* to be there, to be fighting alongside the X-Men, or to be accepted into the ready-made family of the Fantastic Four, but he knew, he *knew* in his heart of hearts, that his fantasy would never come true. Xander’s comic book friends weren’t real. Would never *be* real. He didn’t live in a universe that had *that* kind of magic in it. He lived in a world of monsters.

When he’d found out that his world *did* have magic in it, he’d been shocked – to say the least! His world even had superheroes! Buffy was like a girl straight out of comics. How could he not fall in love with the concept of what she was? His new awareness was painful, but even Jesse’s death couldn’t change the fact that he was now Part. Of. The. Team. He’d helped save the world. There really *was* magic and he was part of it! The monsters were now clearly defined as evil by their fangs, tentacles, claws, whatever. There was no ambiguity. He could ignore the less clearly defined monsters that had always been there, out in the open. It was like he really *was* living in the realm of comics!

But the lines between good and evil had started to blur, if they’d ever been there at all. He’d tried to keep everything in their neat little boxes and had just ended up hurting his friends. Angel had turned out to be a vampire. All vampires were evil. Therefore, Angel must be evil. But Angel hadn’t followed the rules and Xander had hated him for it. Then things got stickier. Faith was a Slayer. Slayers were the good guys. But Faith hadn’t turned out to be a good guy. Things got thornier. He was possessed and shown the darkness, the anger, the hatred inside his own soul. Comics had helped him deal with it all. He saw his own life reflected in between the brightly colored pages. The characters in his comics had faced betrayal, pain, self-doubt, relationships, death, et cetera, and come out the better for it. It inspired him. He could do it, too. And if the world wasn’t as black and white as he thought it was, so what? Sure, his girlfriend had been the cause of countless tortures and deaths to men down through the ages, that didn’t mean she hadn’t changed, that she didn’t really love him.

Xander needed that love, even if it was only superficial. He needed the intimacy of Anya’s touch, even if it wasn’t truly gentle. He craved the contact. He *needed* her. And sometimes... sometimes she was even enough.

So comics had taught him about life and surviving it. They’d helped him through difficult times, allowed him to escape the monsters, if only for a time. He still wished for a Green Lantern power ring, or a suit of Iron Man’s armor, or a telepathic dragon all his own, but he didn’t *really* expect to ever get his wish. So it really came as quite a shock when he woke up in the DC Universe.

***

Part One

“Whathefuck?!”

During his far-from-average life, Xander Harris had awoken in a wide variety of interesting places, from sewers to dark warehouses to furnished crypts. Usually, however, the only time he woke up outside of his oh-so-comfortable bed was when he’d been knocked out by your standard “thing that went bump in the night” and he had never awoken half-way inside a wall before. A solid wall. Through which he appeared to be floating. When the youth realized the full extent of the weirdness of the situation he presently found himself, he could do only one thing: scream like a girly man.

“Oh shit, oh shit, shitshitshitshitshit! I’m dead. This is hell. Fuck, I’m dead!”

“For a dead man, you’re quite vocal.”

At the sound of another’s voice so close, Xander tried to whirl around. Being intangible at the moment, this strategy didn’t work. He did, however, discover that floating upside-down through solid objects was more than a tad disorienting.

“Oh gods, I’m going to be sick!”

“Which just proves that you can’t be dead,” the unreasonably chipper voice of the stranger said. “I have it on good authority that dead men don’t puke. Now, youngster, why don’t you close your eyes and take a deep breath. Try to calm yourself.”

‘Gotta think, gotta think,’ he thought frantically. Xander didn’t trust whoever it was, but their suggestion was reasonable. He closed his eyes on the sickening spinning and tried to think happy thoughts. ‘Buffy in lingerie. Buffy in lingerie. Mom and dad passed out drunk. Mom and dad passed out drunk...’

Once he was as calm as could be expected, Xander opened his eyes and was pleasantly surprised to find himself floating upright in what appeared to be a living room. Blinding sunlight was streaming through the widows, illuminating an elderly man sitting on a couch. The stranger was watching him with a bemused expression on his face.

“What’s going on here? What have you done to me?!” Xander demanded of him.

“I?” the man asked, arching an eyebrow. For the first time, Xander noticed that the man appeared to be a Native American Indian. ‘Oh, no,’ he thought, ‘those Indian’s I dug up at the old mission are still after me!’

“Look, I’m *so* sorry about the mission. *Please* don’t give me syphilis again. I never liked Thanksgiving much, anyway. Please don’t hurt me. It’s not my fault!” Xander knew he was babbling, but he couldn’t seem to make himself shut up. It happened sometimes.

His monologue of begging was interrupted by the door to the house crashing in. This time Xander knew better than to panic. He managed to will his floating form to turn around to face whoever it was that had come in.

“Brave Bow! I heard the screams. What’s wrong?” the newcomer asked. Then he noticed the spectral Xander and immediately went into a defensive position between him and the Indian whose name appeared to be Brave Bow.

“Hold, Grant,” said Brave Bow as he stood. “This man has done nothing to me. It was his screams you heard. I don’t believe he means me any harm. In fact, I think he’s more confused about all this then we are.”

“I... I don’t know what’s going on,” Xander said in a small voice. “What happened to me? Why am I here? Why am I like *this*?” He gestured to his intangible self plaintively.

“First, tell us who you are!” Grant’s voice was steely and calm. He’d dealt with the unexpected before. Truly, a guy about his own age floating insubstantially around the living room of Roy Harper’s adopted father’s house on the Navajo Reservation wasn’t all *that* freaky. When the stranger started producing futuristic weaponry and proclaiming that he was going to take over and/or destroy the world, *then* Grant would start to worry.

“Xa-Xander. Harris, Alexander Lavelle. Born on April 1st, 1981, in Sunnydale, California. I’ve survived the Hellmouth and I’m friends with the Slayer. You hurt me and she is going to put a *major* hurting on you!” Xander managed to shut up before he could spill out his entire life story but his panic was just getting worse.

Grant considered Xander. The poor guy looked terrified but he was keeping it together like a professional. He decided to give the spectral man the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t know who or what a Hellmouth or a Slayer is, but I’m not going to hurt you unless you give me cause. You wouldn’t happen to be a super-villain by any chance?” He didn’t think Xander was, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. He looked too confused to be a villain anyway, Grant thought.

“Huh?” Super-villain? Who did this guy think he was, Magneto or something? “What are you talking about? Who are you? Where am I? Why am I like *this*!?!” His confusion had ruined Xander’s concentration and now he was slowly floating through an earth-colored couch. ‘Not good, not good, not good!’ he thought.

“I don’t think he’s a threat, Grant,” Brave Bow said, “but I do think this is a problem for your team. I’m going to call Roy and get him out here. I think our floating friend needs some help.”

Grant nodded and Brave Bow left the room to call in some people who could deal with this sort of thing – namely, the Titans. Grant had decided that Xander was genuinely confused about the whole situation, and while he didn’t know if the other man was a threat or not yet, he thought that it couldn’t hurt to calm Xander down.

“It’s okay,” he said, trying for that soothing but in-command voice that Nightwing could do to calm down his team. “I’m Damage, of the Titans, but you can call me Grant. You’re on a Navajo Reservation. And I don’t know why you’re like that. What’s the last thing you remember?”

Xander calmed down and he stopped floating around so erratically. ‘Hmm, last thing I remember...’ “Tea!” he yelled triumphantly.

“Tea?” Grant asked, nonplussed.

“Yeah,” Xander said excitedly, “tea! We’d just finished patrolling – Buffy took out a nasty Kemlevork demon and we cleaned out another vampire nest – and we all went back to the G-man’s house. He gave us tea!”

Totally unilluminated, Grant asked who the “G-man” was.

“Giles. He’s a Watcher. From England. Hence the tea.”

‘O-kay,’ Grant thought, ‘so far we’ve got demons, vampires, English tea-watchers, someone named Buffy – and a guy named Xander floating through Brave Bow’s lamp.’ Damage shook his head, bemused. He had noticed that Xander had said that they’d been patrolling, though. “So, you... protect people? With this Watcher fellow and, um, Buffy?”

“Yeah, White Hat all the way. We do the standard averting-the-Apocalypse thing.” Xander paused. “Oh, man, I *knew* I shouldn’t’ve drunk that tea! Shoulda stuck to soda. Now I’m, like, either dead or hallucinating all this! Geeze, Spike’ll never let me hear the end of this!”

Grant watched the other man rant to himself as he floated through the furniture. He didn’t even pause for breath. ‘Maybe since he’s intangible, he doesn’t have to breathe,’ Grant mused.

Brave Bow came back into the room. “The Titans appear to be off-planet. Something about Tamaranians and Gordanians. My call was re-routed to something called Oracle. It’s dispatching someone from the JLA to investigate. They should be here any minute...”

“Wait a minute!” Xander interrupted. “Did you just say that the Titans... the JLA... Oracle!? Wait, you said that you were Damage! Grant, Damage, Titans! That means... that means that I’m... I’m...”

“Hello son. I’m Superman. We’re going to find out just what the trouble is.”

Xander fainted. Fortunately, the shock apparently caused him to go fully solid and he didn’t sink through the floor.

Damage looked at the recently arrived superhero and shrugged, trying to act nonchalant around *the* greatest man on Earth and his own personal role-model. “I think he said that someone spiked his tea....”

***

Part Two

It was dark. And warm. He was on a bed, under a blanket. There was a continuous humming noise that surrounded him. Someone was stroking his forehead, pushing the hair out of his eyes.

Xander fuzzily opened his eyes. In the dim light, he could see a vaguely female-shaped figure sitting next to him. It couldn’t be his mother because... well, it just couldn’t be. So who...?

“...willow?”

“Shhh, it’s okay Xander. You’re safe here.”

“I had the strangest dream. ‘member readin’ comics? well, I was IN them. an’ there wuz the titans and the jla and damage and SUPERman...!”

“Is he better now?” asked Superman.

“Aaaaaaagh!” Xander bolted upright and looked wildly around him as the lights came on. The first thing he noticed was Wonder Woman. She was, after all, sitting right next to him. That, and a drop-dead gorgeous woman in little more than a bathing suit with huge muscles was kind of hard to miss. She was looking at him with concern and compassion. He was looking at her with his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

“Are you alright, son?” asked Superman.

“Gagh...” Xander would be more worried about his apparent inability to form a coherent word – let alone a thought! – except that it was a known fact that when confronted with something that is obviously totally and utterly impossible in the extreme, speechlessness is the perfect response.

“Son?”

“Eek!” ‘Oh god, I did *not* just squeak! Shit, I did! I’m making a fool of myself in front of Superma-ma... and Wonder Wo-wo...’ His mind was apparently incapable of wrapping his thoughts around the reality of the situation. ‘Fuck! I’ve gone totally loopy! Around the bend! Scrambled up good! Well, at least I don’t appear to be hallucinating myself through walls anymore...’

He lay back down and closed his eyes. “This is not happening. This is not happening. This is NOT happening!”

“Yes. It is. We want answers. Now.” A gravely voice full of menace brought Xander’s denial up short.

He opened his eyes. Yep, just as he thought – Batman. He was vaguely disappointed that it was the post-Crisis, post-Knightfall Batman, though. He’d always thought that the cheery guy who called his partner “chum” and wore colors other than black and *wasn’t* an Urban Legend (TM) was more fun. And probably more forgiving. Xander gulped.

Strangely enough, though, the sight of Batman calmed him down. Xander was a True Believer, a comic book fan. “Fan” being from the root word “fanatic.” This meant that, while all logical thought said that there was no way in HELL(mouth) that he would ever wind up in the Marvel Universe, or the WildStorm Universe, or the Antarctic Press Universe, or an Image Universe, or even – The Powers That Be forbid it! – the CrossGen Universe, he still had a Plan. Just in case. You know, just in case he ever *was* zapped unexpectedly to the DCU. Like now. And so far, he wasn’t really following his Plan. See, he was supposed to be all suave and mysterious with his uncanny knowledge of the universe. Hopefully, he’d also have superpowers, but that wasn’t an absolute requirement for his Plan to be put into effect. Most of his Plans centered around Batman, who was his second favorite character in the DCU – Robin being his first. That meant that the sight of the feared Dark Knight, the dude who could strike terror into the hearts of criminals with the mere mention of his name, was actually reassuring for Xander. He could put his Plan into action while trying really *really* hard not to think about how impossible this all was. After all, Xander BELIEVED.

“I’m sort of a vi-visitor. Fr-from another world. Universe actu-actually.”

The Batman’s steely gaze was momentarily taken away from Xander and he breathed a sigh of relief. “Well?” asked Batman of someone he couldn’t see.

“I sense no falsehood but I still cannot see into his thoughts. There seems to be something blocking me,” the voice hesitated for a moment, “something that growls.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that J’onn! That’s just my Hyena spirit!” Now that he had come to accept his situation and had decided to ignore the underpinning insanity that came with that acceptance, he was feeling kind of giddy. Like the rush of adrenaline he got after taking out some vamps and then drinking a few sodas and gobbling down some chocolate. Kind of hyper and dizzy at the same time.

He knew that the speaker had to be J’onn J’onz, the Martian Manhunter, because... well, really, who else could it be? He’d already seen three members of the JLA “Big Seven” and J’onn was the logical choice after the comment about seeing into his thoughts.

Xander was gratified that his guess was correct when the green-skinned Martian walked into his line-of-sight.

“Hyena spirit?” Wonder Woman asked gently.

He smiled at her goofily. “Yeah. Got lots’uv stuff bumping around in my head. I’ve been possessed loads of times. Just goes with the territory on the Hellmouth.”

“Explain,” Batman growled.

“Um, see, I’m not actually from around here. From this universe, I mean. In my universe, I live in Sunnydale, California, the site of the Hellmouth. I’m part of a group – er, sometimes we call ourselves the Slayerettes or the Scooby Gang – that tries to keep the Hellmouth closed and the demon population in check.”

Superman sounded intrigued. “Demons?”

“Yeah. See, Buffy is the Slayer. One is Chosen in every generation to combat the forces of darkness and slay vampires. Me and the others are her friends. There’s Giles. He’s a Watcher. Part of a secret society that trains the Slayers to fight the bad guys. Willow is a Witch and so is her girlfriend, Tara. They do spells. Anya is an ex-Vengeance Demon and Spike is a neutered vampire. He can’t bite humans. Riley is an ex-Marine commando from this demon-fighting squad called the Initiative. There’s also the L.A. branch. Angel, a vampire with a soul who was chosen by the PTB to fight evil as their Champion. Cordelia Chase recently became a Seer and has visions and stuff. Oh, and they also have another Watcher named Wesley and some guy I haven’t met yet named Gunn. It’s your standard, everyday averting-the-apocalypse gig.”

Xander paused for breath and looked around to see how everyone was taking it. Wonder Woman looked thoughtful. Superman looked thoughtful. The Martian Manhunter looked thoughtful. Batman looked... scary. He kept waiting for all of them to turn into demons and kill him. It was just one of those days.

***

Part Three

“So, what do you think?” asked Superman. A meeting of the JLA had been called to discuss the arrival of their strange visitor and his fantastic story. The Flash had been late, as usual, and Green Lantern had ragged him about it. For the fastest man in the world, Wally West sure had trouble getting anywhere that wasn’t a life-or-death situation on time. Although this time he had the excuse that he’d just gotten back to the Solar System. Aquaman had declined the invitation to join them, stating that he had urgent business in Atlantis to take care of. Plastic Man had been given the job of watching their “guest.” Oracle was projecting her holographic visage to the meeting on the moon, and since Damage was already involved in the whole affair, he was sitting in on it, too.

Grant felt like a peasant among gods. With the Titans, it was more like they were a family. Things got done and everyone followed Nightwing’s or Jesse Quick’s orders, but it was more relaxed. The JLA were *Professionals*. They were *Superheroes*. The older members had been handling this kind of thing when he was still in grade school. Sure, he’d been among them before... but that had been during worldwide crises where *all* the superheroes had been called in and he’d just been one among many. Now, he felt the weight of the all their eyes resting squarely on him.

“Um, I believe him, sir,” said Damage. “He was confused about where he was and panicked about what state he was in.”

“Yeah, what about that,” asked Green Lantern, “why was he intangible? And how did he become solid?”

“Theories anyone?” Superman looked around the table.

Batman spoke up. “If he really does come from another universe, the transition to ours could have happened gradually.”

“Like in the Phantom Zone?” asked Superman and Batman nodded.

“Well,” said Wonder Woman, “physically he’s human. There is no indication of any metahuman powers or that he’s a clone or anything abnormal.

“Radiation?” asked the Flash.

“At normal levels,” she replied.

“What have you got, Oracle?” asked Superman.

The disembodied voice of their electronically-connected member was of indeterminate sex and few of the JLAers knew that Oracle was really the wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon, niece of Gotham’s Police Commissioner and the former Batgirl. “I’ve run his face, name, and prints through every database there is. As per Damage’s suggestion, I ran him through the military databases but there is no record of him every having served in the armed forces of any country. He has no criminal record. In fact, there is no record of him at all. There is also no such place as Sunnydale, in or outside of California. Alexander Harris is a ghost. He doesn’t exist.”

“What about the telepathy angle, J’onn?” asked Green Lantern.

“I have managed to see into some few pieces of his mind and from what I can tell, he is telling the truth. However, I have also come across some... disturbing images. He knows things about us all that he shouldn’t. For instance, he knows exactly who you are Kyle.”

Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, swallowed nervously. “As in, under the mask?”

“Yes,” said J’onn. “I get the impression that he knows everything about us, but I cannot delve past the barriers in his mind well enough to know for sure.”

There was silence around the table for a few moments as everybody thought over the implications of this.

Grant hesitantly spoke up. “He said that his world had, um, magic. Maybe someone like Dr. Fate or the Phantom Stranger could get him back to his own world?”

“That’s a good idea,” said Oracle, “but where can we keep him until I can contact our magical reservists? Zatanna and the other occultists are often hard to locate.”

“We can keep him on Titans Island,” said Wonder Woman. “Even with most of the Titans recovering from being off-planet, there are still always people there. Damage, would you be willing to keep an eye on him?”

“Sure. Uh, yeah. Yes, that’s... that’s fine,” he said weakly.

Batman turned toward the holographic Oracle mask. “Oracle, contact Nightwing and fill him in.”

“Will do.”

“I have things to attend to back in Gotham,” said the Batman. He rose and stalked out of the meeting room, heading for the teleporters.

“Brrr,” the Flash gave an exaggerated shiver as he watched the Dark Knight leave. Wally turned to Grant. “I might be by the Tower later to check up on everything. TakecareofyourselfandwatchoutforanytricksfromthisXanderguy!” Then the Flash was gone in, well, a flash.

“I gotta get going, too,” said Green Lantern. “See ya in a few hours for monitor duty, J’onn!” Kyle headed out, already focusing on the assignment that he just *had* to finish tonight and get to his boss at the magazine.

The Martian Manhunter took Damage to relieve Plastic Man of his babysitting duties and then Superman and Wonder Woman were alone. Wonder Woman studied her friend. “Do you think this is a prelude to another invasion or some kind of villainous plot?” she asked him.

Superman rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment and then shook his head. “I don’t think so. Xander seemed sincere. Let’s just hope that it isn’t anything sinister but prepare for it anyway, just in case.”

She smiled. “Now you sound like Bruce.”

“No!” he gasped in mock horror.

Laughing, the two shining heroes that stood for Truth and Justice walked arm-in-arm to the teleporters. Clark Kent had to get home to his wife and Diana of Paradise Island had to get back to the embassy. They had obligations to keep and a world to make safer.

***

Part Four

“That was SO cool!” Xander exclaimed the moment the teleporters dropped him and Damage off inside the Titans Tower.

Grant watched the other man, amused. Xander was bouncing. A lot. Grant smiled. He could sympathize. He’d also been overwhelmed upon meeting the great JLA for the first time.

“I was – I was on the Moon! The *Moon*! Oh, man, this is great! And I got to meet SUPERMAN!” he said in reverent tones.

“How do you know about Superman if you come from another universe?” asked Grant.

Xander almost panicked at the question. ‘I can’t tell him that I read all about it in a comic book!’ he though. ‘How would they take it?’ “Um,” Xander thought fast, “see on my world, we have these... these windows, um yeah, these window-like things or, or maybe more like one-way mirrors that we use to, uh, see into other realities...” ‘At least,’ Xander thought, ‘*I’ve* always thought of books and comics and televisions as glimpses into other worlds...’

“Huh,” Damage said. He mulled over the other man’s words. It did make sense. But... “Why?”

“Why? Um,” Xander thought furiously, “... just because?” he said weakly.

“Oooookay,” Grant said dubiously.

“Maybe his people just like to... *watch*,” said an incredibly sexy voice from behind them.

Xander whirled in fright but Damage just turned with a smile. “Toni!”

The pale woman squealed and threw herself forward into Grant’s arms. Xander noticed a lot of pale flesh shrowing through barely-there skin-tight clothes and a flash of something shiny on her navel. She wrapped her legs around Grant and proceeded to kiss him all over while the other man laughed. Xander was pretty sure he knew who she was.

Still laughing, Grant set her down and turned to Xander. “Xander, this is...”

“Argent, right? Toni, um, Toni Monetti?” he guessed.

“Right!” she looked surprised. “Hey, how’d you...?”

“We like to *watch*, remember?” he leered at her.

Grant sputtered and blushed. “REALLY,” Toni murmured, “Is that *all* you like to do?”

Now it was Xander’s turn to blush. “We don’t, um, really get to see EVERYthing...”

Argent smiled at him sexily. “Too bad.”

Xander gulped. ‘Note to self,’ he thought, ‘do not flirt with scantily-clad, uninhibited superheroines!’

“Don’t you move in on my girl!” Grant mock-growled and then grinned at his new friend. “She’ll beat you every time!” They all laughed. Xander was really starting to like it here.

“So, like, Nightwing filled us all in about you, Xander. It’s so totally cool that you’re from another universe! I mean, I’ve never been to another reality, just off-planet and stuff. We just got back from fight a war with Starfire’s people! You know about Starfire, too, right?”

“Yup,” Xander grinned. She reminded him of Buffy with her Valley Girl speech. Plus, she’d also told him which issue he was in! Xander paused in his thoughts. ‘Okay, now that’s just freaky!’ He decided not to think about it. “It’s really cool that you guys went into space!”

“Yeah, but all that fighting totally *ruined* my manicure. Giorgio had a fit when he saw my nails! Anyway,” Toni turned to Grant, “me and Donna are taking Jesse out to get a makeover. That woman *so* needs to relax! See ya later lover!” She kissed Damage.

“Do I get a kiss, too?” Argent just winked at him and walked away. Xander pouted. Damage laughed and threw his arm around the other man.

“C’mon, I’ll take you to meet the others.”

“Cool!”

Xander only got to meet with Tempest for a moment. The hero was muttering something about having to get home to his wife and child to “face the wrath of Dolphin.” Xander sympathized with the poor guy. Garth had to juggle his superheroing with the Titans, his job as the Ambassador of Atlantis, AND his wife and baby. It sounded shudder-some.

He got a quick glimpse of Jesse Quick (heh) and Donna Troy before they left with Argent. Xander was REALLY digging the skin-tight costumes. Then Xander got to meet Nightwing.

“Whoa.” Xander wasn’t even sure what Nightwing had said to him. “He’s intense.”

Grant nodded. “Yeah, well, Nightwing’s...”

“Intense and gorgeous! Man, the costume, the attitude, the BUTT...!” Xander said dreamily.

“Huh?”

“Grant, look at him!” Xander pointed to Nightwing as the former Boy Wonder walked away. “That is one hot hero!”

Damage looked at his new friend uneasily. “Oh! You’re, um, gay?”

Xander laughed. “Well, let’s just say I’m not totally straight. Besides, Nightwing is hot enough to turn *anyone* queer. Shit, if my girlfriend were here right now she’d be after him like a cat after catnip!”

“And you’re okay with that?” Damage asked, momentarily forgetting his uneasiness in reaction to Xander’s startling statements.

“Sure,” Xander said. “Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m totally in love with Anya. That crazy, blunt, cute ex-demon is the center of my heart. But Anya’s, well, Anya. She was a Vengenace Demon for a thousand years. She lived outside of the rules of all societies. She also got to see relationships in all their ugliness. She once told me that giving orgasms was fun, but not real love, and that it doesn’t matter how many people we sleep with as long as we can rely on and trust each other. And as long as we never lie about it, it’s okay to sleep around. Let me tell you, Anya tells the best bedtime stories! Last week she told me about going down on a lovely little waitress at the local Coco’s in the bathroom. That was a fun night. Got me and Spike all hot and bothered. We had fun.”

Grant gaped at Xander. He was by no means innocent, his childhood had seen to that. But the casual way Xander spoke of sex...! “How can you just... just talk about all this stuff!?”

Xander laughed again. “I guess Anya’s kind of rubbed off on me. She redefines the meaning of blunt. Spike, too. After dating those two I’ve lost my blush-factor.”

“Spike?”

“He’s the chipped vampire I mentioned earlier. He’s fun in the sack. Anya says that the two of us give her the best orgasms.”

They’d wandered into one of the Titans’ sitting rooms while they talked. Grant sat down heavily on a couch.
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