Taking Sides

An Underworld / BTVS tale

Author: B.H. Ramsay <drgonzo124[at]yahoo.com>

A late night visit to a Clinic Plunges Xander into battle to control the Underworld

Setting is Post-Chosen and the Climax of Underworld. *Spoiler Alert*

Dedicated to the Shrine Of Heroes & Crossover Connection

Chapter 1
The Walk-In Clinic

This was the bleakest place I've come to in a long while. Tall structures that screamed Goth. Looking at the buildings I thought once more, that Batman should be flitting through the shadows or something. It had been about three weeks since I had last talked to the girls. Buffy and Dawn were in Europe somewhere Willis was having a rest break in New York with the ever-attentive Kennedy at her side. I was supposed to meet Andrew in LA which meant also hooking up with Fang Boy and his crew. Pleasant as seeing everyone again would be there was still a sense of strangeness. Running Wolfram and Hart had left Angel even more morose and taciturn since assuming control of the LA office.

Besides this was my baby, an internet chat board had started buzzing about major badness going down in the World Of Darkness as some of the Fan-Boys insisted on calling it. Some kind of major-league conflict had spilled into the streets involving Werewolves and Vampires. I was curious what was going on. There was a whole world outside of Sunnyhell I was getting to know. Apparently, the world did not lack for weirdness and the absence of a Hellmouth in no way prevented the weirdness from pouring forth into the streets.

Shuddering at the chill in the night, I pulled my long coat tighter around me. I dress like an extra from The Matrix these days. Willow laments the death of the Hawaiian shirts and goofy outfits I favored during high school, but she understands. That kid, as much as I missed him, had died in Sunnydale at the eye gouging hands of Caleb and the Bringers. He had been on life support for a long time before that but that incident pretty much forced me to rethink a lot of things. The death of Anya had not helped much. Buffy seemed especially distressed to see the change in her Xander shaped friend.

I was following a few leads. I wasn't sure what I was looking for. For all I know some kid had been playing too much RPG and had started spouting off about an aggressive gaming session but still you knew never knew.

Two days of looking for clues had turned up nothing. The vamps and were-beasts were laying low. Whatever had happened had sent every one underground. That could be either good or bad. If there had been a war and one side had won then the humans would be victimized by the winners. If the war were still ongoing then humans would be caught in the crossfire when things flared up again.

I was about to call it a night when I heard running feet. Two big guys and a smaller guy running away from them. I had been in this game too long. I could tell how many of them there were and roughly how many blocks their quarry had covered in their flight from danger. I came around the corner and ran full tilt into the hunt.

They were standard garden-variety toughs. Whoever hires these guys must call some kind of rent-a thug hotline. The kid reminded me of Jessie. Young and innocent looking. They pulled up short and the thugs assumed the standard take no crap stance that usually sent people scurrying for cover from them.

"Get behind me." I hissed at the Jessie clone that had obviously been taking a few blows before the chase began.

"Mind yer own business." Thug 1 edged forward. I guess he was hoping that invading my space would cause me to back down. I was not buying into that. Tonight I was selling a steaming cold glass of whup-ass and they looked like they were aching for a pint.

I snatched at a gift from Robin Wood a partner in slaying. He had gifted me before he and Faith had headed off to parts still unknown. They were a pair of batons that could extend outward. They had other neat surprises but I don't use those on non-vampires. One flick of the wrists and I had a pair of two foot weapons in my hands.

"Who are you supposed to be - Daredevil." Thug one sneered even as he backed up.

"Nah, Daredevil is blind in both eyes." I swept out my hands and smacked him across the face with the first baton. His partner grabbed for me and I swung the second baton up between his knees sending him sagging to the ground. Robin's crash course had been pretty exhausting .I danced around the both of them striking them and hitting them sending them to the knees and eventually the hard ground.

I breathed out and relaxed stowing the batons away for future use. "That was amazing." The Jessie Clone gushed. .

I looked at him. "You're bleeding, did they hurt you much "

"They tried, I run fast, seems like running is all I'm good for sometimes."

"Think nothing of it, running can be the smartest thing to do especially if you aren't one hundred percent sure of yourself." I gathered him under my arm and marched him toward the streets. I hailed a cab and told the driver to drop us at the nearest clinic or hospital. The cab looked at the Jessie- clone and floored it around corner.

"My name's Patrick. I was heading home when I ran into those guys."

"I'm Xander, isn't it kind of late to be pounding the pavement."

"I work late nights as a volunteer at the clinic."

"The clinic."

"Oh you must be new here, yeah some people set up a clinic for the inner city low-income types me and a few volunteers try to keep things going but resources are tight. Where did you learn to fight like that?"

"I grew up in a tough neighborhood in California."

"Man, that must have been one hell of a neighborhood."

"More like it was in the neighborhood of hell."

His mystified look reminded me that my gallows humor tends to fall flat outside the Scooby gang. The driver pulled the cab to a stop and Patrick and I got out I helped him inside. A black woman looked up and gasped at the sight of Patrick. "Patty child, what happened to you. Oh dear Hun you sit right down."

"I'm ok Amy. I'm fine."

"I think I can tell when someone's been attacked and mugged it happens often enough."

"Xander here helped me out. He was amazing."

"Oh amazing was he so amazing he couldn't have stepped in sooner." She looked me up and down and got the distinct impression I was not passing whatever test she was running in her mind.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time if I could have helped sooner I would have."

"Well you got him here and you help save his life, I suppose that is the important thing. Patty, the place is filling up fast tonight could you go right through and let Michael take care of that for you."

Patty and I headed down a dank hallway that was barely clinging to the ideas of cleanliness. Patty pushed open a door. A youth roughly the same age as me who was sitting buttoning up a filthy shirt. I caught a glimpse of a wicked-ass scar on his shoulder. Anyone else would have ignored it. Not everyone grew up on the Hellmouth. He looked up and smiled. "Patrick what are you doing back here I thought you were gone for the night."

"Ran into a bit of trouble, Xander here got involved." Patty's admiration was going to my head it was also making me nervous.

"Well let me patch you up." Michael smiled and planted Patty on the examining table his hands moved swiftly and surely over Patty's body taping his wounds and administering healing salves. My untrained eye still noticed that the stuff they were using was not that much above Band-Aids and iodine. Michael caught me looking and laughed. "It's not glamorous like ER but if I use them all right, I can keep you alive. Sometimes I can even do something really useful."

"Don't mind me. I get queasy watching Discovery Channel"

"Don't knock the DC baby, they had a series of specials right before my Gross Anatomy finals; danm things saved my bacon."

"I found myself liking Michael. he had a quiet charm and was easy on the eyes. And not in the annoying way that Angel was. You could hang out with Michael and not think he was getting all the action cause you looked like a troll in comparison to him. He finished checking out Patty. "All right, Pat could you go out and see if Amy needs anything. I want to make sure your guardian angel didn't pick up any surprises coming to your rescue." Pat nodded eagerly and headed out the door. I sighed.

"Bit much being a hero?" Michael asked me.

"I guess I'm just reminding myself of what it was like when I was the adoring fan-boy and it was someone else doing the rescuing."

"Well I was not kidding around I want to make sure you are A-OK, it's the least I can do Pat is the hardest working intern they have had here." I allowed the doctor to remove my coat and shirt after I had sneaked off the weapons I keep secreted up inside the coat. He started poking and prodding at me. He paused, amazed at the scaring I had picked up over the years.

I answered his unasked question. " I had a misspent youth."

"I would say you had been in a war but I'm not sure what century. There are blade cuts, scratches, burn marks."

"One man's force is another mans foreplay." I replied innocently

"You have to use protection …every time" he reached into a drawer pulling out a three pack of condoms he dropped them into my hands.

"Thanks for the thought doc but I need more protection then this for the kinds of girls I date.'

"What kind of girls are those?"

"The kind that include disarming as part of the foreplay process."

"You might not believe me, but I know what you are talking about, … believe me I know."

We shared a laugh and I realized that it was the first time I was laughing in a while. After we had calmed ourselves, down he pulled me off the examining table. I could hold my curiosity at bay no longer, "so what is someone as talented as you are doing playing ghetto doctor."

He took the question well. "The inner city needs medical professionals as much as the next place Xander."

"Sorry, but you don't look like some overwrought do-gooder.

"No, I don't do I, well I had to …change my career goals recently."

"Let me guess this had something to do with the girl you mentioned. Came into your life flipped it upside down and then blew off into the sunset with an air kiss and wave."

"Not quite." He laughed. " She hung around. I'm not sure why, truth is I don't think she knows either."

"God not another one who is scared to love. Don't you hate cleaning up the messes other guys leave behind."

"Well, she has father issues and last guy who wanted her was kind of a dick."

"She wouldn't perchance be blond and perky."

"Nope, dark and angst-ridden."

"Michael I'm going to give you the advice that was given to me. I ignored it mind you, but I still remember it. . Find a nice sweet girl and forget trying to fix her baggage."

"You think I'd ignore good advice?"

"That's what guys like you and me do. Falling for the wrong kind of girl, spending half our time fixing her and then watching her go skipping off with someone else. Meanwhile opportunity after opportunity slips us by."

"Whoa kemo sabe, I'm guessing you have history where this is concerned. But remember you were there for her when she needed someone. Sounds like you're the friend that she needed, that she will always need."

Loud shouting interrupted us. Michael headed to the door and threw it open. Coming down the hall were a pair of cops. Obviously john law had made an appearance and pat had told his miraculous tale of survival. The last thing I wanted to do was play games with the local police. I was about to make that fact known to Michael when he slammed the door and pushed me back into the room. Tearing open another door that led to a connecting office, he pulled me inside.

Digging out a cell phone, he pushed a button. Seconds later a garbled voice hissed on the other end of the line. Whatever they were talking about Michael cut them off. "No time for that now, they found me, I'm going to need an exit" the voice garbled again in answer. Whatever they said was not what Michael wanted to hear right at the moment. "Honestly you can bitch at me another time. But, right now, I need to get out of here. And you need to help me."

"Is this something you want to share with me?"

"I have to get out of here, they want to take me in."

"They are cops Michael, serve and protect, whatever it is I'm sure that it can be worked out."

"They may be cops but trust me when I say that I'm the last person they are trying to serve and protect, and I want to avoid the people that they are working for."

"Say no more rent - a- cops, I've seen it before. I moved to the only window and opened it. Some fool had piled wooden crates in front of the window. They would have to be shoved aside but I had no idea how I could move them. I may have trained with a slayer but I still had the normal strength level for a human.

The door burst inward and the two rent-a-cops stormed in. I flicked out the batons and tripped up the first cop through the door. The other took a swipe at me with his nightstick. I entangled it and swung his arms out of the way so I could kick him in the side. He grunted and stumbled. I spun in place striking him twice more and sending him crashing to ground in a senseless heap. I had forgotten about the first cop who had climbed to his feet. Michael must have seen something because he cried out and grabbed me I heard the sound of gunshots going off.

Buffy once told me that being shot was like being punched hard. Michael let out a series of grunts and I felt his body shudder with the impact of the bullets. I heard him utter an unnatural snarl before shoving me to the ground and tuning to move on the cop who had fired on him. I looked up and saw him claw at the man putting a series of razor sharp gashes in the man's uniform. The man screamed at the sight of the cuts in his chest. Michael grabbed at the cop yanking him into the air and hurling him through the window. There was a crash and the officer's body landed in the alleyway floor was a disturbing crunch. There were more shouts coming and I vaulted through the window to land in the alleyway. The cop had not moved and from the way his body was lying still. I suspected he would not be moving anytime soon

With a thud Michael landed next to me breathing heavily, actually it sounded more like growling. The mouth of the alleyway filled with figures at one side. Hulking forms that hinted at the man they might have been once. "Michael, your running days are over you belong to us, you always will,"

Michael cursed, or at least it would have been a curse if his speech were not almost sub-human in its guttural flow. I belong to no one, tell your masters to leave me alone. I don't want anything to do with their bloody feud."

"The vampire has twisted your mind. Come with us and you will see the truth of our ways."

One of the other figures started forward, "you think your human will protect you, he is less then useless."

The Werewolf snapped out his fist toward my head I snatched a nearby garbage can and met his fist with cold steel. The cold clang filled the night. I then began to beat him accompanying my words with whacks in the face with the cans lid. "Why do people always think I'm not dangerous." Michael leapt on top of two of the others slashing at them with animal like ferocity.

The were-wolf I had beaten rose from the floor of the alleyway coming at me again I pounded on him with the batons but her beat my hands aside and slammed me up against he wall. "I'll cut you open and eat your heart" he snarled as he pulled his fist back.

I jerked my arm forward and a foot long blade etched in silver slid out of my coat sleeve. A gift from the last time I hung with Wesley. I jabbed the bastard in the side giving the blade a little twist so that the wound stayed open longer. His scream cut the night and he dropped me to the ground as he rolled backward.

I turned to watch as Michael was being penned in by the other two. I got to my feet. My chances against two were-beasts were in snowballs chance in hell territory but I had to try. Then a screeching of tires announced the arrival of another soul to the party. A black sedan peeled around the corner its high beams blinded everyone present. This, I guess, was the point. Out of the sunroof a head popped out followed by a pair of auto pistols gripped in the fists of a dark hared girl that was easily as scary as Faith. Her first gunshots took the werewolves in the shoulders and chest. As the car pulled to a stop, (she must have been standing on the brake) she hurled herself out of the car. She landed on the hood. A long black coat flared behind her as she slid down the front of the car to land on the ground. The guns bucked and roared relentlessly. Looking like some gothic version of Lara Croft, she continued firing as the were-beasts were thrown further back. She passed the werewolf I had stabbed who caught sight of her and pulled himself to his feet. I rolled forward as he stalked toward her and stabbed down on his foot. He let out a painful cry. The girl turned her head and snapped one of her guns out in a vicious pistol whip before emptying a whole clip into the creature's shuddering body.

She was obviously the vampire the wolfmen had been talking about I was sure of it she moved too fast and sure to be anything human. She turned her remaining gun in my direction before Michael snarled out to her "Selene, no."

Selene eyed me cautiously while speaking to the heaving, groaning boy. He was clenching his fists. "Remember what I taught you, calm your rage and center your thoughts. You have to master your bestial side or it will dominate you."

Michael clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes closed. He was murmuring under his breath obviously trying to control his killing rage. I had heard that Oz was trying to master the same techniques. "Is he going to be alright?" I asked

"Quiet hunter," she hissed and that gun came up again and I was staring down the bore of a big, big gun.

"Selene, I said no." Michael almost sounded normal, exhausted as though he had run a marathon. Selene danced over to him giving him her arm and shoulder to keep him upright. During all of this, her gun didn't move the slightest from its target, the bridge of my nose.

"He's a hunter I can smell the death on him

"He risked his life for me. Stood and fought when he could have run"

"I'm telling you he is dangerous to us

"And I'm…"

I cut him off. "She's right Michael, I have hunted vampires before, had run-ins with werewolves as well." He looked at me as if his heart was breaking. "I got a look at your shoulder back in the office. I knew a werewolf before, so I know what a bite looks like."

"You won't be telling your little friends about us." The safety on Selene's gun clicked ominously

"Please Selene…"

"How many hunter, how many of our kind have you killed."

"Not enough to equal the amount of friends I've buried because someone was feeling hungry, or to take away the pain of having to stake and kill friends turned to monsters who threatened those I still cared for."

"I've heard that kind of rational before, how much pity do you have for the plants and animals that you turn into the food you eat."

How clean are your hands sweetheart, I couldn't help but notice you emptying a clip into these bad-boys. You seem to like the ultra-violence. I'm sure your teaching Michael all about control and restraint."

"Actually she has.. Look Xander, I don't know what kind of wild hair you have up your ass about vampires and demons, but Selene is not your enemy. Neither am I, I just want a normal life like the one I had before all of this started." He gestured at the bodies scattered like rag dolls around us.

In that moment he sounded like Buffy, life had face-planted him in a steaming pile of weird and he was barely dealing with it. I looked into his eyes and I remembered a young girl whose greatest desire was to shop, be a cheerleader and in general be a teenager. Saving the world, changing the world was not on the agenda and yet she had risen to the task. Then I also realized something else. There were times when the only thing keeping her sane had been Willow and me.

"I hate to be the bad guy Michael but normal and you are now light years apart. The best you can hope for is that you will be able to deal with it. It helps if you have friends you can count on and trust."

Selene's gun dropped to her side. "So you hunt demons and vampires."

Hunt is a fancy term, think of it a blundering into mortal danger and surviving when danger tries to eat me."

Selene laughed, "some of the deadliest Death Dealers I ever knew seemed to operate on that principle." She turned to Michael. "Get in the car, now that they now you are here they will come back in force better that the staff don't know where you have gone, better for them anyway."

Michael nodded, I could tell he was starting to get used to packing up and moving on at a moments notice.

The both of them headed toward the car leaving me in the alleyway. "No, no, don't you guys worry about me. I'm sure the cops won't be the slightest bit curious about what happened back here." I supplied sarcastically

Selene smiled evilly "of course they will want to know, I suggest you get out of town, both the vampire clans and the Lycans will be very curious about what went down here."

Michael was more sympathetic. "I'm sure you are used to packing up and moving on Xander, thanks for the assist and for understanding." He ducked in the sedan, which pulled away took back alleys out to the streets before hailing a cab back to the room I was using.

I watched the sun raise over the city as I composed an e-letter to the rest of the gang. Angel and Buffy would be definitely curious about what was happening here. Willow, Giles and Wesley would have tons of theories about how it had happened and what it would mean in a world that was already bursting at the seams with being different thanks to willow's slayer activation spell. I thought about it for hours. Then hit the send button. I felt for Michael but I had given him a head start. I hoped that would be enough.

--- The End ---