Author: Cyclone <cyclone[at]>

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at

Rating: I'm gonna go say PG.

Spoilers: Up to season four and the Reign of the Supermen.

Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to the almighty Joss and DC Comics. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: Sunnydale has a new hero. Sequel to Steel Knight and Shining Armor, Crimson Tears.

Author's Note: Blame Tenhawk and cobra_7422000 for this. With Red & Gold, Tenhawk gave me the idea, and Cobra suggested how I could do it. Also, aside from what's in The Return of Superman, all DC information in this 'fic will be drawn from the Batman/Superman animated series (and possibly modified slightly).

Latest addition

Chapter 1


Buffy stared at the body -- no, vampire -- that had just flown -- obviously unwillingly -- into the crypt in front of her, cracking the crypt's wall.


Before she could move to finish it off, the vampire's chest seemed to sprout a stake, and he crumbled to dust.

What the hell?

Full of Slayer stealth, she crept toward the continuing sounds of battle. She saw five...


...make that four vampires. And they were fighting... Buffy's jaw dropped as she recognized the armored figure from the newscasts.

Thor slammed the head of Mjölnir into one vampire, sending him flying back against a tree. He thrust the hammer's shaft at a vampire behind him, skewering the vampire with the stake at the end. Raising his right arm...


...he fired a stake from his forearm into the first vampire's heart. He twirled the hammer and staked another vampire, bringing the other end around and smashing it across the last vampire's face, sending the bloodsucker to the ground. He lifted Mjölnir and plunged the stake end into its heart.

Then, he turned toward her.

"Hmm," he said, his voice deep and hollow, "judging from that stake, you know what I'm fighting here."

Buffy blinked and looked down at her stake sheepishly, "Uh, yeah." She stuttered for a moment before collecting her wits, "You're him, aren't you? Thor! Th-the Steel Knight!"

Unseen within his helmet, Xander blinked. "'Steel Knight?' Is that what they're calling me now?" he blurted out. In the next instant, he became eternally thankful for the suit's voice modulator; it concealed his surprise.

"Yeah," Buffy said, still a little intimidated in the presence of a hero like this. "Didn't you know?"

Thor shook his head.

"So, what are you doing in a little town like Sunnydale?" Buffy asked. "I-I thought you worked out of Metropolis."

"With Superman back and Steel and Superboy there, they don't need me," Thor replied. "But the Hellmouth does."

"You... you know about the Hellmouth?" she squeaked.

"Indeed," Thor said, then turned and crouched. "See you around... Slayer."

He rocketed away.

Buffy watched him disappear into the night sky, stunned. "He knows me," she murmured. A wave of giddiness ran through her, and it was almost enough to make her forget Parker.



Willow opened the door, a smile blooming on her face, and she hugged him close.

"Xander!" she squealed. "It's so good to see you!"

He hugged her back, glad that the awkwardness from after the Fluke and Faith seemed to have faded a little.

Planting a chaste kiss on her forehead, he said softly, "Missed you too, Will."

"Hey, Willow!" a voice called out. "If you're gonna bang your new boyfriend, at least have the decency to close the door!"

The moment of comfortable friendship vanished, and, blushing furiously, the two scurried into the dorm, closing the door behind them.

"Well," Xander said, "that was embarrassing. Oz is gonna kill me."

"Oh, no, he won't," Willow said, Resolve Face on, "or he'll have to answer to me."

Xander grinned. This was the Willow he knew and loved.

Funny how he could admit that, now that the romantic implications were... resolved.

"Where have you been, Xander?" Willow asked, smacking him across the chest angrily. "I was so worried about you! You told me you were going to go to Coast City, and when it went boom, I thought... I thought..." she sniffled.

"Hey, hey," Xander said softly, wrapping his arms around her comfortingly. "I'm sorry, Will. I'm sorry I didn't call. But things were kinda hectic in Metropolis at the time, what with all those Supermen running... err... flying around."

"You were in Metropolis?!" she screeched, jerking away from him and thumping his arm. She spun and stared at him incredulously. "You could have been killed! I-if Superboy hadn't stopped that big missile..."

"He hates that name," Xander murmured.

Willow's mind stumbled over that, and she frowned, "You... how do you know that?"

Xander stammered, "Uh, well, every time someone called him that on TV, he'd get really pissed. Kinda obvious, Will."

She nodded. She had noticed that the media had been careful to call him "Superman" whenever he was around. Still...

Throwing her around him again and hugging him close, she said, "I'm just glad you're all right."

"No more than I am, Will," he said with a grin. "So, what's the gang been up to while I was away?"


Had Buffy not still been so rattled after her patrol by her encounter with the Metropolis hero, she might have heard the laughter coming from within her dorm.

As it was, she was just anxious to tell Willow about Thor. She'd have headed straight back if it hadn't been for the expected riser. Which she dusted with no problems, thankyouverymuch.

Bursting into the room, she squealed excitedly, "Willow, you are not gonna believe who I ran into on patrol. He was so amazing, he just totally kicks ass, and..."

She blinked.

"Xander! You're back!" she engulfed him in an enthusiastic embrace.

"Ack," Xander murmured. "Buffy... ribs... cracking... need... air..."

She pulled back, blushing furiously. "Oh, God, Xander, I'm so sorry. Are you okay?"

"Yeah," he said, rubbing his side exaggeratedly and grinning. "No permanent damage."

"It's good to have you back, Xander."

"It's good to be back, Buff," he replied with a smile, which faded with her next words.

"And your timing couldn't be better," she said, her face turning serious. "Spike's looking for something called the Gem of Amara. It's supposed to make vampires invulnerable."

Chapter 2

It was daytime, and a battle that should not have occurred in the brilliant sunlight was playing out, amidst taunts between the two combatants. It was obvious who was winning.

"You're a pig, Spike."

Spike opened his mouth to hurl another insult, but before he could speak, someone else broke in.

"I couldn't agree more."

Spike turned and blinked in surprise at the armored figure standing there, arm outstretched.


A sharp pain ran up Spike's arm as the rivet pinned his arm to the wall, and he howled.

"Bloody hell!"

He glared at the interloper, and his eyes widened as Thor hefted the sledgehammer and he realized Thor's target.

"No... no, hell, no, you bloody bast- arrgh!"

Thor buried the hammer into the wall, crushing every bone in Spike's hand into fine powder.

Along with the Gem of Amara.

Spike howled again as he tore his arm free and started running. The sunlight -- a moment ago, so harmless -- was now a searing pain cloaking his entire body from head to toe.

But he was gonna make it. He was gonna make it. There was a sewer entrance not far from here, and he grinned as he saw it, even as the flames spread to engulf his entire body. Just a little farther...

"That's as far as you go," Thor said, landing in front of him.

"No, NO!"

Thor swing Mjölnir like a golf club and caught Spike under his chin, shattering his teeth and jaw and sending him flying backwards.

The last thing Spike saw was the sun, its rays stabbing into his eyes...

...before they, too, ignited.


Xander watched grimly as Spike flew through the air, screaming incoherently as he burned.

Nothing but dust hit the ground.


"So, you saw Thor again?" Xander asked. The four of them -- Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Oz -- were in Buffy and Willow's dorm room, listening as Buffy told them what happened.

"Yeah," Buffy said. "He saved me. I-if he hadn't been there, I don't know how I'd've gotten out of that mess."

"Spike's dead?" Oz asked.

"Yup," Buffy nodded.

"So you saw him die?" Xander prodded.

Buffy shrugged, "Well, no. But Thor says he is, and I trust Thor."

Willow frowned. There was something going on with Xander... what was it? Very strange.

"So, let me get this straight," Xander said. "You trust a guy you've met -- What? Twice? -- because he has good publicity?"

Buffy blushed and smacked him. "Xander, Superman trusts him, and that's good enough for me. Besides, he knows what I am, so whatever his source is, it's good."

"Hmm," Xander said. After a moment, he got up and said, "Y'know what? I'm gonna head home."

Willow frowned again. Yeah, there was definitely something going on with Xander. Well, she'd have to look into that.


Xander was fiddling with the basement door when his father spoke.


He turned, "Dad."

The elder Harris closed his eyes, then opened them and said, "I saw the suit. And the rivet gun. And the stake launcher. John's designs?"

Xander swallowed hard and nodded, unsure how his father was going to react to this.

"I saw what you did in Metropolis," Anthony Harris said. "I just... I just want to say that... I'm proud of you, son."

"Thanks, Dad."

His father hesitated, then sighed, "You're gonna need someone to keep that suit working, A-... Xander, and I've got a few ideas for improving it." He held out his hand and asked awkwardly, "Can you forgive me?"

Xander hesitated, then shook his head, "I dunno, Dad. I know... I know what happened, Dad, but..." He closed his eyes and shook his head again.

Tony nodded, accepting that. "Well, will you at least let me help you?"

With a faint smile, Xander nodded and took his father's hand. "Sure, Dad."

"Oh, by the way, some girl claiming to be your girlfriend's waiting for you downstairs."

Xander blinked. "What girlfriend?"

"That's what I want to know," Tony said, then turned and headed upstairs.

Xander opened the basement door and climbed down the stairs, his gaze sweeping across his new room.

"Hello, Xander."

He stared in disbelief before he managed to sputter out her name.


Chapter 3

"Anya," Xander said, his voice strained, "what are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you," she said simply. "I want to know where we stand."

"'Where we stand'?" he asked, bewildered. "Where we stand on what?"

"Our relationship."

"What relationship?" he sputtered. "We had one date. One date does not a relationship make, Anya." He sighed, "Anya, just... go. Sort your own life out first, okay? 'Cause right now, the last thing I need is a girlfriend."

She stared at him thoughtfully, then asked, "Are you gay?"

"What? No!" Xander snapped. "Anya, my life is really complicated right now. I just got back to Sunnydale, I'm still getting back into the groove of Slaying and hanging with the gang, and I just had a bonding moment with my dad. Please, Anya, not now."

Anya frowned. "Is my body not beautiful enough for you? Should I be a blonde?"

Xander let out a strangled sound, then said, "Just get out, Anya. I don't want to be with anyone right now."

Anya hesitated, then nodded and headed up, pausing at the door and looking back at him. "Redhead, right? That's it, isn't it?"


"I'm out-ing, I'm out-ing!" she squawked, closing the door behind her.

"Now," Xander sighed, realizing the implications of what had just happened, "why did I just turn down a chance for sex?"

With that question on his mind, he flopped onto his bed and was soon sound asleep.


"So," Xander glanced at the moping Slayer in the distance, "what's got Buffy so upset, Will?"

"Parker," Willow growled

Xander raised an eyebrow at that. That particular tone of growl was usually reserved for Cordy.

"Who's Parker?" he asked carefully.

"Playboy jerk who seduced her, then left her," she growled.

Well, that explained the growl. Feminine solidarity and all that.

A chill ran down Xander's spine as another thought struck him. If he'd slept with Anya last night, if he hadn't kicked her out, he would be on the receiving end of that kind of growl.

And he would deserve it.

It was something to think about.

But in the meantime... he glanced at Buffy worriedly. The Slayer did not look in top form, and if what this Parker prick did distracted her...

Something would have to be done about Parker.

He smiled sinisterly.

Yes, something would defintely have to be done.

And he had a pretty good idea what.


Parker Abrams suddenly stiffened as he felt a chill run down his spine.

Shaking it off, he smiled at the girl next to him, "And that just made me think, you know, about living for now."


It was night time, and three young men were heading toward one of Sunnydale's many graveyards.

"So," Parker said, "where is this party?" He was a little suspicious, but this townie seemed pretty cool, though he felt a bit leery hanging with the redhead's boyfriend.

"Right here," the townie, Xander, said, opening the door to one of the crypts.

"Oh, man, that's just freaky," Parker said, shaking his head as he ducked in.

And felt someone slam him against the wall.

"Well," purred a voice, "looks like delivery tonight."

Hmm, aggressive, not his usual preference, but he wasn't about to...



He struggled in her grip. What kind of... thing was that? Her face was all bumpy, and...

Ohboyohboyohboyohboy. Those fangs looked really sharp.

He blinked when she suddenly crumbled to dust. Face pale, he looked up and saw the two who'd brought him here.

"Wh-wh-what was that?"

"That," Xander said flatly, "was a vampire."

"She... she was so strong..." he mumbled, still stunned.

"You noticed," Xander's face twisted into a cruel smile. "Remember Buffy?"

Parker felt the blood flee his face once more. "Wh-what about her?"

"It's her job to keep these things from killing people," Xander said acidly. "She's a lot stronger than they are. Now, understand this, when you screwed her over, you made her less able to fight vampires. I'm of a mind to find another vamp and feed you to it. Care to give me a reason I shouldn't?"

Relief flooded through Parker when Oz placed a hand on Xander's shoulder and said, "Don't."

It evaporated when the musician continued, "He won't suffer enough."

"Yeah," Xander mused, "and Buffy'll freak if they turn him."

*Oh, my God,* Parker thought, his heart -- or what passed for one -- sinking.


Buffy sighed as she walked to class. Life sucked. She hadn't heard from Parker in a while. She hadn't even seen him. It was like he was avoiding her.

*Or got eaten,* she thought morosely. *Can't forget that possibility. Which means someone else I failed to protect.*

"Ah, Buffy?"

She blinked and looked up. "Parker?"

"Yyyeah," he said nervously. Why was he so twitchy? "I, uh, I want to apologize. F-for using you like I did." His voice rose an octave as he forced the next words out of his mouth, "F-f-feel free t-to pummel me if it'll make you feel better."

She frowned. She saw his eyes flicking over to... what...?


She waved at him, and Xander grinned sheepishly, returning the wave.

*Well,* she thought with a smile. *That was sweet.*

She glared at Parker and growled, "Get outta here before I change my mind."


Chapter 4

Buffy glanced at her watch impatiently and frowned. "Where is he? He's late."

"He's Xander," Willow said, curling up against Oz. "He's always late if lives aren't in danger."

Tonight, they were supposed to be carving jack-o'-lanterns, and more importantly, Xander was supposed to have a movie readt. But Xander wasn't there when they arrived -- Willow had had to filch the spare key from its hiding place. That had been a half-hour ago, and still no Xander.

Suddenly, the door swung open, and Xander jogged down into the basement, "Hey, guys! Great news!"

"What?" Buffy asked.

"One," Xander said, holding up the video, "Phantasm. Good thing I double-checked. The idiot at Blockbuster nearly gave me Fantasia. Two, new job."

"Really?" Willow's face lit up. "Where?"

"Check it," Xander grinned, holding up his new ID card. "I now work for Wayne Electronics. They bought out the old CRD place and cleaned it up."

"'Wayne Electronics'?" Willow asked excitedly. "As in, part of Wayne Enterprises?"

"The same," Xander nodded.

"Doing what?"

"Security guard," Xander replied with a shrug. "Sure, it's not much, but I get an ID card, a uniform, and a gun. Not to mention a rather hefty paycheck for someone who's just starting and a great dental plan."


"Hey, mighty, mighty Alpha Delts. You should think about pledging."

"Oh," Oz interjected. "Xander is a civilian."

"Ah! Townie, huh?" the frat boy said. "Didn't know. He looked so normal. You sure we should let him come to the party, Oz?"

Xander chuckled, "Hey, at least I don't have to call Mommy for my spending cash. Who needs college when you can make money standing around and doing nothing?"

The frat boy bit his lip and frowned, "Say what?"

Xander merely grinned.

The Alpha Delt shook his head as the sound system blared up.

Oz frowned, and Xander cocked an eyebrow, listening carefully. He nodded slowly when he finally picked up on the crackling from the left speaker.

The musician pulled out his pocketknife and knelt to trim the wire.


Xander turned, "You okay?"

"Yeah. Just cut myself," the werewolf replied, shaking his hand.

And one droplet of blood landed on the symbol on the floor.


The party was in full swing, and the Alpha Delt that had hassled Xander earlier was leading a girl through the array of horrors. She was blindfolded as he guided her to the next display.

"You guys are sick!" she giggled.

"Here, give me your hand."

He placed her hand in the bowl of peeled grapes, and she flinched, "This is gross."

"Eyeballs, Rachel! They're eyeballs!" he laughed.

Pulling off the blindfold, Rachel looked at her hand... and shrieked.


Xander spotted Buffy and grinned. Little Red Riding Hood. Classic, and entirely unlike what he would have expected from the Slayer. With a shake of his head, he snuck up to her, leaned over her shoulder, and asked, "Hey, Red. Whatcha got in the basket, little girl?"

She turned, "Weapons."


"Just in case. Superman, Xand? I thought you renounced spandex."

"Hey," he said, "it's insurance. You know, in case we get turned into our costumes again. Who better to have around -- or be -- in that situation than the greatest hero ever?"

"Good point."

They continued to head toward the fraternity house, then waved and greeted Willow and Oz.

"Will," Buffy greeted. "Medieval Will."

"Hail, ye olde... vareletty... thou," Xander sputtered.

"I'm Joan of Arc," the redhead proudly announced. "I figured we had a lot in common, seeing as how... I was almost burned at the stake, and plus she had... that close relationship with God."

Xander looked at Oz, "And you are?"

"Oh," Xander murmured as they continued.

Xander frowned as a pair of commandos stepped out of the bushes. "Huh."

"Nice costumes," Buffy said. "Very stealthy."

"What are they supposed to be?" wondered Willow.

"NATO?" Oz speculated.


Xander groaned as he picked himself up.

"Well, that went well," he muttered. First, they'd found the frat boy, talking about the weirdness in the building. Then Willow and Buffy had had that argument, and Willow stalked off, Oz right behind her.

And then the floor ate him.

He looked around, and his blood ran cold.

"No way," he murmured, shaking his head in disbelief. "This looks like..."

"Engine City."

He turned toward the voice and found himself face to face... with the Cyborg Superman.