Xander in Black

Author: Koffeeman <koffeeman[at]comcast.net>

FEEDBACK: I NEED ideas.  Like air or water.  Give me ideas, info, comments!  Anything.  Talk to me or the bunny gets it.

DISTRIBUTION: Ask and I will let you know.


CONTENT: Xander/?

RATING: PG for language, violence, odd thinking.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Buffy and co. They belong to Joss Whedon, the misguided fool, and his production company, Mild Enema or whatever.  All claims to the MIB or their employees belong to Barry Silverman or whomever own the rights by now.

SUMMARY: Xander get recruited by a very special group, but not for the reason you think.

NOTE: Okay, bear with me.  I know I said I was going to do a M.Y.T.H. crossover but this plot bunny popped in.  And following one of the many lessons learned from Anya, I must kill it dead.  So there.  Let me know what you think because this is my first fan- fic.  Really.

Pain can be useful. It can teach you to avoid things that can hurt you. But only if you are willing to learn from it. Xander knew this so very well. He even had his own thoughts on the meaning and use of pain. He believed that in today's world, there was an immature fear of pain itself. Not the thing that causes pain, which deserved to be avoided, but the sensation of pain. People avoid athletic activities like marathons because they might hurt themselves. One could see it in people demanding life support for relatives who would never wake again, just to avoid the pain of loss. One could see it in the way that school administrators avoid activities that can be construed as being uncomfortable, because it is easy for that to be exaggerated into pain of rejection or embarrassment. But these are all imaginary pain, pain that is a shadow of real, prolonged agony. Like the pain of loss. One can lose a loved one and feel the slow ache for years, even decades. The edges of the pain are worn down over time, but the pain of loss is there. But when the pain of loss is repeated again and again and again, it changes. When one loses everything but a handful of things one values, the pain overwhelms itself. You end up on the other side of pain, where one values what you have and accepts the pain as motivation. Motivation to avoid the chance of losing anymore and make sure that no one else has to go through that again.

Xander was there. The loss of his family, his home, his ex-fiancee, his life, everything but the few people on this bus. He stared out of the window of the school bus. He blinked a few times to sooth his dry eye. The windows in the dented and abused bus were still whole but they no longer fit well. As a result, a pretty steady flow of air was blasting him in the face. It was keeping him awake. Well that and the overwhelming need to do something, anything but drift off into the nightmares again. Xander glanced out of the front window and watched the double yellow line race towards him. Giles was still driving away from…that place. Giles had been driving for hours across the Utah desert. The night was his shift to drive. Robin would drive in the mornings till sometime in mid-afternoon, Willow or someone else would drive till nightfall, and Giles would cover the night drives. A few hours before, Giles had taken his stint at the wheel to allow Willow to get some rest. Xander had watched all of the shift changes for 2 days without comment.

His mind played over how the division of driving had conveniently skipped over him. Even though he had shown he had the capacity to drive a vehicle even without his eye, there was still this unspoken stance from the group that while he could lie to the state, he couldn't lie to them. They knew he couldn't drive that well. The truth was they didn't trust him. He really didn't care. Because right now, he couldn't trust them. As Xander stared even farther out over the dark purple sky, his mind turned back to Anya. While he could not say that he still loved Anya, he had placed a value in his heart on her. She had come to help when it was not expected and had given her time, her presence, and finally her life. But when he had trusted Buffy and the bleached wonder to protect the group of people like Anya, Dawn, and the inexperienced potentials, Buffy had let him down. The more he thought about Buffy and her actions over the past several years, the more he realized that he no longer trusted Buffy to do the right thing, the smart thing, or even a good thing when it came to others. She risked other people's lives without care, did not consider the results of her actions, and did not seem to accept that she had to take all parts of the Slayer legacy, not just the ones she liked. That meant all vampires were bad, Watchers did have a clue about what should be done, and that she would have to do this until she died or someone could find a way for her to retire. He had been blind to it for so long. He returned to the thought that had marred his dreams every time he fell asleep. He had leaned on Buffy for support and she had fallen away. But now that this battle was over, Xander could reflect back and ponder what that really meant to him and his future. His mind ground to a slow halt and he stared at the stars. Xander blinked again and turned to stare at the other shadows spread throughout the bus to change his thoughts.

'Man, we are one sorry looking bunch,' he mused as the ripped jeans, dirty shirts, bandages, and cast off weapons were dully lit by the stars. People were curled up on the seats, in the aisles, wherever they could be comfortable. The exhaustion that had been staved off by naps and quick meals for weeks had slammed into everyone like a hammer after the First had been defeated.

Xander was distracted by the feeling of the bus slowing down. He looked out the front window of the bus, only a few rows ahead of him, to see what Giles was up to. About fifty feet from the hood of the bush, highlighted by the headlights, two black sedans and a black panel truck were blocking the road. The placement of the cars looked haphazard but Xander felt that something about the way they blocked the road was very intentional. A man, dressed in a black suit and a pair of sunglasses, walked towards the driver's window.

"Is there a problem here?", Giles asked in a tired voice.

"No, we are actually waiting for you. Is a gentleman by the name of Alexander Lavelle Harris with you?" came the reply from the man. He seemed to be an average height male with brown hair. If it wasn't for the totally business like tone and manner, this man could probably fade right into the night and disappear.

Xander was concerned. As far as the whole gang knew, no one from in or outside of Sunnydale know that they had survived and no one should know that they would be headed this way. He quickly looked around at the slowly waking slayers and potentials. They were still groggy and no help in scoping out the situation. Buffy had not even moved. Fantastic job she was doing at being a guardian to everyone. A quick glance out the driver's window at the dark suited man brought him back to his original fear. The man looked directly at him and smiled. And it didn't feel good.

"Mr. Harris, your uncle Z would like to make sure you are OK. Can you come with me?," the man asked, still smiling that large, cat eating grin. Every politician used that smile. And it always meant someone was about to be had. Xander looked to Giles for instructions. And then time stopped.

A flash of light seemed to fill the bus. Xander blinked and found himself outside of the bus, standing in front of the man. He turned to look around.

"Wha….Who….Huh….Wha?" came from the bewildered man's mouth. He turned back to the black-suited man.

"You already said Wha…. Once, son. You need to work on your confused vocabulary. You will probably need it. Come with me," the main said with a chuckle. He put something into his jacket pocket, turned and walked towards the panel van parked behind the two sedans.

Xander followed, too confused to do much but follow directions. The two men walk to the back of the van. The man in the suit opened the door and looked at Xander.

"Please step inside. And it is good to see you again," he said, pointing to the dark opening of the van. Xander swallowed, stepped up the bumper, took a step into the van, and vanished just as the man's last words hit him.

"Again?" Xander asked as he opened his eyes.

"Please to meet you, sparky," came a voice from behind him. Xander looked at what was in front of him in even more confusion. There was no way that what he was standing in was inside a van. No way in a 3-D universe, at least. Wide-eyed, he examined the scene in front of him. The wall and doors in front of him was glass but the frosted effect prevented him from seeing through. He noticed that the glass looked different and he realized that this was a special windows, one of electro-reactive glass. Throw a switch and the glass went opaque. Flick it back and you could see through it like a normal window. What grabbed his attention next was the chair and other…thing set on the carpet of the room. The chair looked vaguely like one of those egg shaped chairs that had taken his interest when he was decorating his apartment originally back with….her. Better to not think about her.

The other object looked kind of like a coat rack but with padding, some hooks, and what looked like a padded seat on top. The closest he could call it was some really ugly sculpture. Why was it in the middle of the floor?

"Well, wouldn't you like to know what the hell is going on? Who I am? And most importantly, where is here?" the voice said, this time in a more brusque tone.

Xander turned around. A man with a goatee was seated on the other side of a white desk. He too wore a black suit but seemed to be older, and well, thicker around the middle than the other one. His suit was a finer cut and did not have the worn appearance of the other suited man.

"Oh hell, I hate it when the twins miss something. We'll get you to Medical for that eye when we are done. Now, take a seat. We need to talk," the man said, a quick glint of pain passing over his face as he looked at Xander's face.

"Wait, wait, wait. I just get somethinged in the middle of the desert, get kidnapped or something else, and now you want to have me sit down and talk….?" Xander said slowly as he stared at the man across the desk. Right now, Xander hoped he would wake up soon. Somehow, he was having a nightmare about a mediocre set of movies. Yep, way too tired and his mind was doing the mix and match game. He reached over to his arm and pinched himself. That hurt. But nothing happened.

"Perhaps a little explanation would help. I will try to make sense of what happened for you.," the man said as he leaned back and folded his hands on the white plastic of his desk.

"A little over 40 years ago, an agency was established in the government to monitor…unusual activity worldwide and try to both understand and control it. Predominantly, this has meant tracking and apprehending certain alien species. But we have also had to deal with beings of a cross-dimensional nature. Beings referred to as demons, vampires, spirits…." The words drifted to the ears of Xander as the man spoke, watching Xander's reaction.

"Alien species? Apprehend? I thought the Initiative was destroyed," Xander interrupted as he listened to the lecture. He began to surreptiously back to the door. Given his experience with government agencies, the only thing he was starting to believe was that he was in trouble. A whole lot of trouble. And he still had no idea where here was.

"Those yahoos? I can't believe that the current government even let that get started. Your group did a nice job in slamming the door on them. But we are not those clowns. Think of us as the INS and FBI for beings not from Earth. But I'll get back to that later. The reason you are here is that group you are a member of, the things you have dealt with, and my agency's operational directives have all come to a point. Simply put, I have an offer for you. I want you to come and work for me," the man stood up and turned to face the wall behind the desk.

"If you are not the Initiative, then who are you? And what do you mean job?" Xander asked as he started to crouch, ready to jump in action or run if he could escape this rounded office. "We are shadows, suggestions, half remembered thoughts. Our world is one of rumors followed by disappearance. We are the figures you never quite see, never remember, yet depend on every day. We have no names, no connections with the world. We are the Men In Black. Our job is to monitor alien activity on the planet Earth, prevent unauthorized visits from aliens, and generally try to let the unknowing population of the planet live happy lives without the knowledge that we are not alone in the universe," the man said in a quiet but firm voice that carried around the room. As he spoke the last words, the walls of the office went clear and Xander's world went upside down. Outside of the windows, creatures of all shapes and sizes milled around. There were large blob shaped, pink masses being followed by men in black jumpsuits with mops. The men did not look happy. In another area, what looked like a metal detector was being used on a being who looked like a green furred rhino. The rhino set off the detector and turned around, already reaching into the folds of his grey pinstripe suit. Keys, wallet, and other objects came out and were deposited in a bowl before the rhino tried again. Xander looked at the far end of the room and saw what looked like an eyeball with arms in front of the most complicated computer keyboard, or maybe pipe organ, he had ever seen. Unconsciously, Xander had stood up and leaned towards the window wall to see more of the myriad interactions occurring.

The window went opaque again.

"You took that quite well," the older man said as he turned to Xander. Xander had taken a step towards the window and come within a few feet of the gentleman.

"Well, I have seen some strange stuff in my life. My weird-o-meter is a little insensitive," he absent-mindedly replied as his brain struggled to pull some logic out of his sleep deprived brain.

"Yes, I know. Zombies, demonic transformations, killer cyborgs, killer robots, master vampires, and the like. And your unfortunate home life, to boot," the man said as he sat down. "By the way, my name is Zed."

Xander snapped back to alertness as he heard the litany of his past encounters listed out like one might read a shopping list. And how did someone know about his father and his former life?

"Well, Zed. How do you know so much about me? And for that matter, where is here? You did tell me I should ask about that,"

he said as he glared at the now smiling man seated back at the white desk.

"Well, as to here, you are in the principal port of call for the planet Earth. We are located in NYC, the chief residential location for most aliens on earth. Specifically, you are overlooking intergalactic customs. You know, illegal fruits and vegetables, immigration, the usual stuff. As for how you got here, the movies were mostly right. We have a lot of junk from other races that we use to both operate and finance our operations. Guns, computers, plumbing, even clothing. The major difference is that we use a whole lot more advanced items more often than that picture suggested. Like the matter transport terminal you used. Great for short commutes and individual emergencies. Lousy for cargo or groups, so used spacecraft salesman still have jobs. I wanted to see you as soon as possible so I had one of the teams intercept you," the older gentleman said as he turned to place his hands in what looked like two bowls of blue jello. His fingers moved and a holographic screen appeared over his desk. The strange thing was that it appeared normal to Xander, who was standing at the end of the desk. Xander moved to the opposite side of the desk from Zed and watched and the screen seemed to track his movement.

"Take a look at this," Zed said as removed his hands from the bowls. "This map shows a time lapsed satellite picture of North America over the past two months. Note that the energy signature, that large angry red blob growing at the left side of the map, is located on Sunnydale. Then notice that it winks out of existence and a smaller one appears in Cleveland. We know that the Hellmouth was located in Sunnydale and it has now moved. We also know that your group was single handedly responsible for the waning of its power and the crippling of the First. Congrats, you kicked another demonic overlord in the kiester. But what I want to talk to you about is now," Zed continued as the loop of the satellite image played again and again.

"We have been aware of the attractive properties of the Hellmouth for demonkind for years. Efforts have been made to contain the more violent demons who existed outside of the Hellmouth. But as the volume grew over the past few years of demons streaming to Sunnydale, we lost the ability to prevent their activities. When your group of friends took up the fight in town, we were able to focus on keeping the potential disasters contained. Our plan had always been to get a team permanently set up in Sunnydale, relieve you of the burden of protecting this dimension, and shut down the Hellmouth. But as you kept dealing with the escalating disasters, our teams also kept up with increasing loads of work trying to merely contain Sunnydale. It became so incessant that the board of directors of MiB made the executive call to "restrict our demonic suppression to catastrophic emergency situations only". So three months ago, I came up with a new approach. The board agreed to it as a way to do something proactive and to at least have some foreknowledge of those situations. I am to recruit an agent with your group as a liaison, supply them group with whatever is needed, but not allow the existence of the MiB to become known. Even though the Hellmouth is now moved, the plan is still good," Zed said as the display changed to show men in black suits firing guns, missiles, and what appeared to be high velocity crossbows at vampires, demons, werewolves, even the walking dead. The scenes changed over and over, always showing the suited men in different locations with different equipment fighting different adversaries. But always fighting.

Xander sat down carefully and thought about the massive information shock he had just been given. He wasn't upset that the Scoobies had never been given help by these men in black. From what he had seen, they had done an equally overwhelming job at the same time. He actually felt a little…relieved. At least someone else was in on the good fight. But this liaison thing. He assumed that he was here to be the liaison. But why now? And more importantly, why keep it secret? Things are not adding up here.

"Why are you not telling everyone? Why just me?" Xander quietly said. He looked directly at Zed who was now smiling like he had won the lottery.

"We are not as large as we should be. It is very difficult to for us to respond to anything except an emergency. And to top it off, because of what we deal with, the fewer people who know about us and what we face, the better the rest of the population is. Given who you are with, we don't trust any of them to keep a secret, especially one that could be abused so very easily. As to why just you, it is because of who you are. When we recruit agents, we do not look for glory hounds, stellar physiques, or even geniuses. We can give you knowledge, physical agility, strength, even some psychic capabilities. But what we can't give you, and most people don't have it, is the heart to fight and protect. We want individuals with honor, with a sense of duty, and most importantly, a sense of humility. Your compatriots there have at various times shown a shirking of duty, a lack of honor, and/or a lust for power. You, on the other hand, kept repairing broken doors, making stakes, patrolling, even forgoing a normal life. I will even bet that your loss of the eye is because of your dedication. And all of this is in spite of your lack of magical skills, gifts, or knowledge," Zed said in a warm voice. He opened the cigar box off to the side and removed a greenish looking cigar. He looked back at Xander and raised his eyebrow in a gesture of offering. Xander minutely shook his head back and forth as he leaned back and began to slouch.

He was a little stunned to hear this man say the same words that were floating around in his mind. He didn't really see how he fit into the dedicated soldier mode that Zed had just pinned him down on, but he did see how no one else on the bus did. And he did understand that most people did not want to know about things that go bump in the night, much less might decide you looked tasty. Add the fact that this bunch also had to deal with aliens around the clock and the amount of resources both tasks would require made it easy for Xander to see the need for a liaison, not a replacement for the Scoobies.

"You want an impartial opinion on when the Scoobies really need help," Xander said finally. "You don't have the resources to replace us completely and it would be a shame to waste the talents we have. But you also realize that when the going is really bad, you need someone to know when to call for help. And people who think of themselves as special may not ever make that call. Is that it?" Xander continued now staring off into the space above Zed's head.

"Yes, for all those reasons. And for one more. The last time we offered this to you, you went through training but ultimately turned down the position of being an agent to go back home to help your friends. We know you can be an agent but now the offer has changed," Zed said in reply.

"Previous offer? I don't ever remember anything even close to this. I think I would remember aliens and toys from Star Trek," Xander snorted back.

"Actually, you thought you were working in Oxnard, in a club. You remember that neuralyzer in the movies? The actual one not only erases memory, it also allows us to exert some control over a person's actions. Simple things like following someone, sit down, you know. That is how G got you off of the bus. And it is what we used to erase your memory of the training and the offer before you went home," Zed stated in a matter of fact manner. "That actually gave me the idea for a liaison with your Scoobies. J was impressed with your willingness to take a beating, your ability to adapt under fire, and quite frankly, your humility. We both thought it would be a shame to lose such a promising man, so we kept track of you after letting you go," Zed concluded as he trimmed the cigar and reached for a cut crystal lighter.

"Would you like to remember what happened?" Zed asked as Xander sat slumped in the egg chair.

"Actually, yes, yes I would," Xander replied, growing more animated as he sat up. Not knowing what was real or not was uncomfortable. And being told that people knew you but you didn't know them was really uncomfortable.

Zed made no reply but instead pulled out a pair of sunglasses from his jacket pocket. As he placed them on his face, a round globe descended from a hole in the ceiling. The globe seemed to hover just below the opening. Xander looked up at the globe. And time stopped again.

"So let me get this straight. You want to implant memories in my friends' heads that I have an elderly grandparent that wanted to avoid Dad but had a soft spot for me. I have a letter, suitably distressed, shoved inside my duffel bag and unopened, that will state that this grandparent is now gone and has willed his entire estate to me. The executors will have liquidated the estate and will await my call as to what to do with the funds. That should cover the money angle as well as the lack of need for employment, but what about the equipment and training?" Xander asked a few minutes later. His memory had come back like a tidal wave. He remembered the 3 months of memory implanting, training, drilling, and toughening that he had been put through. His most current memories had not been affected, just the blank spot of his summer trip had been filled in. And a few more details of what Zed was planning had been added for his benefit.

"Well, that is a tough one. If you show up with fancy equipment or weapons, you will definitely peak interests. So a good cover story will have to be made. And to make it even more difficult, we can't give you the big stuff. No real good way to disguise or hide it," Zed said as he leaned back to puff on the stogie.

"I have an idea. Some of the equipment can be disguised as my normal gear. But most of the detection, communication, and data access can be built into my replacement eye," Xander said, leaning forward with a gleam in his eye. "As for the weapons and other equipment, I think Vanessa should get a new body."

Zed sat up slowly, a grin spreading across his mouth. "Ooo. I like that," he mumbled as he thought more deeply about Xander's suggestion. " I like that a lot."

Ten minutes later, Xander walked out of Zed's office and down to the main lift to the floor of the terminal. Gone was the shuffle and slow step of an exhausted man. In its place was the purposeful stride of a man with a purpose. He might not be trusted by his friends but he was trusted by someone to watch over the Scoobies and, by proxy, the whole world. Xander's thoughts cleared as he stopped short of a door in front of one of the offices on the main floor. The figure inside looked up from the workbench it was hunched over. And grimaced.

The door silently slid open, allowing the two men to look directly at each other.

"My God, they dug you up again. What will it be this time? Implode another reaction drive core? Maybe flood the sewers with thorine gas? Or how about merely rearranging my armoury again? It took me only 3 weeks last time to put it back correctly," the man said in an exasperated tone, his eyes never leaving Xander's hands.

"Relax, Q. Zed said to suit me up. But not the normal way," Xander replied, the glee in his voice reflected in his grin. The other man's only response was to groan, lower his head, and wonder who in his past hated him enough to allow X back into MiB.

An hour later, Xander, formerly known as X to the men, women, and beings of MiB, left Q's office. Outwardly, the only difference was the duffel bag that Xander carried. But between the modifications made to the everyday vampire hunting equipment that Q had made and the clever camouflaging that Xander had requested, an arsenal was on the move. Xander stopped his walk and smiled as he thought of the damage that these new toys would deliver. His smile faded as he thought of the next item to do. His eye. Time to fix what that psychotic whack job had done. He turned and walked to the Mechanic.

The Mechanic was a Xentrallian bio-repair specialist. MiB had hired him when his employment by the Xentrallian embassy had been terminated for assisting MiB with a surveillance operation on a Xentrallian bureaucrat suspected of illegal intergalactic weapons sales. Given his excellent medical background, familiarity with Earth, and his desire to stay on the planet, Zed had decided that MiB Medical could use him. Five years later, the Mechanic, his nickname as his own name involved flatulating, belching, and retching noises, had taken over most of the department and send MiB medicine sideways for at least a half century. Given the over head lifts, the collection of jars holding surgical and exploratory tools, and the residue stained coveralls he wore, one might think the Mechanic worked on vehicles, not beings. The Mechanic didn't heal so much as repair his patients. Instead of letting torn muscle fix itself, he might replace the damaged muscle with clone tissue. Some MiB agents were walking around better than new with artificial organs, muscles, even one photographic memory enhanced brain. The work may have been brilliant, but you had to get by the fact that you felt like a sedan when he went to work.

"X, you look…shitty. Actually, B looks better than you. And he is in for a full skin regen after that incident with the flamethrower," the tall, green mottled skin alien said as he opened his four arms wide to hug Xander. "You need a new eye, maybe a strength boost, and definitely a fluid change. Maybe also a high test diet," he continued as he looked over the young man. "Come, into the shop," he concluded, pushing Xander towards a chair sitting in the center of the room.

"Nice to see you, too," Xander muttered as he sat down. He liked the Mechanic but having the bedside manner of a transmission specialist was sometimes, well, dehumanizing. Just as he was going to follow that train of thought, a wave of blackness overcame him and he fell into it.

Xander awoke slowly. He was standing outside of the bus, facing the dark desert. His watch showed 4:26 in the morning. The sun was coming up soon and the sky had that lightening purple shade. HE turned around and looked up at Giles.

"Xander, use the facilities and please get back here. We are at least two hours from the next town and I want to get there for breakfast," the English gentleman said in a tired voice. Xander walked a short distance into the darkness, a sly grin slipping onto his face.