madimpossibledreamer: Eye from manga drawing. (ace attorney)
[personal profile] madimpossibledreamer
It is one of the great fails of the last season of Buffy that we never got to see the First torturing anyone else.  Because, let's be honest.  This is the Buffy crew.  They've had so many people die around them.  I would've liked to see more of that, which maybe makes me cruel, except for the fact that I like...
It's not just to watch them suffer.  Or be angsty or hurt each other.  They do enough on their own.
It would've felt more like a final season to look back on everything that came before and reflect on the deaths and friendships and whatnot.  I mean, people rarely remember Jesse's name (this is people who have watched the show multiple times and I've seen a vast majority of the episodes once.  Crazy, right?) but he was Xander's friend and Willow's friend and he died and Xander killed him.  Or the demon wearing his face.  That's such a pivotal moment and of course Willow and Xander would shrug it off like it was nothing because they're the king and queen of compartmentalization but it was not nothing.  It would continue to haunt them, particularly out of the blue, because that's how guilt works.
Also, it would've made the First that much more dangerous.  We don't see the First do that much.  It's mostly the ancient vampires that are really, really hard to kill, and controlled Spike, and it's so easy to focus on the physical threats because they were shown more.  But this is the First.  The embodiment (ha!  given that it's not actually of the concept of all Evil with a capital E.  It would twist the knife.  It would remind them of all the people they failed to save.  It would take on the faces of all the people they loved and lost and taunt them.  You know when Spike's working for Adam and he knows exactly what to say to get them all not only doubting each other but doubting themselves?  The exact words to punch a hole in someone's gut?
The interesting thing about this is that there's a similarity.  Spike might've been "de-fanged" (i.e. not a physical threat) but he knew exactly what to say to break them.  The First should've been like that.  Except so much more so.
Finally, I didn't go into complete detail here.  I showed the first times that Jesse and Cordy showed up, but they were back.  Along with many others.  Partly that's because the imagination tends to be worse than a certainty.  I'm betting my reader's minds can conjure up worse than anything I can write.  (At least, I've found that's true when I'm on the reader's side.)  Also partly because it triggered a panic attack.  (Which I've experienced, if not, luckily, too recently, so I'm writing from my own experience there.)  (It being the First, its words probably magically burn onto the synapses, though.  Or maybe it'll whisper again in his nightmares...)
Wow, did not intend for that to get long.

Main Points:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Iron Man Crossover (Self-Made Hero)
Summary: Xander and the First talk.  Dawn tries to save the day.
Word Count: 955
Rating: Teen, Xander's a mess in this one (panic attack, low self esteem, PTSD, The Literal Incarnation of Evil)

          “I’m liking the look.”
          Xander’s heart stops.  And he looks up from his welding.  Th—
          That’s Jesse.
          “Pity it’s stolen.  You don’t have anything original, do you?”
          The First.  They said it could take the form of the dead, but why—why—why—
          He shakes his head desperately.  “Hey, I think the whole tech-magic thing—”
          “Nnnope,” Jesse says, dragging out the word and pronouncing the p with a sharp, gunfire sound.  “You don’t get to pretend that’s not borrowed, too.  From Jenny.  You remember Jenny, right?  Or are you too focused on progress that you ignore the past?”
          It’s not really Jesse.  It’s the devil in disguise.  Don’t let it get to you.
          The image laughs delightedly.  “Actually, I’m not a copycat.  Like you.  The real deal, resurrected in all the glory aside from the fact that I’m not corporeal, but hey, I don’t need a body to talk to my bestie, right?”  A grin.  “And what about the ‘Tony Stark, Sorceror Supreme’ thing?  I seem to remember something about him having a magic/tech armored suit.  And let’s not forget the technomages from B5.”  The grin widens.  “There’s not an original bone in your body, is there?  Magic, technopagans.  Suit, comic books.  Brain, same.  Heart…well, jury’s still out on that one.  Hell, even your name.  Thought the name change would be a great homage, since, well, it’s your fault I’m dead.  If you’re not original, not you—are you even real?”
          He doesn’t remember how he ended up on the ground.  One second he’s standing and staring at Jesse, the next he’s kneeling, desperately trying to breathe like he’s about to die.  A fair portion of his mind is completely convinced he is, in fact, going to die, but there’s Tonys in his head telling him he’s going to be fine, just breathe, I’ve got this kid.
          “You’ll try to convince yourself it’s not your fault.”  His heart turns to ice.  He knows that voice, maybe more than he even knows the face that accompanies it.  Cordy leans in, and he imagines, whether or not she’s actually corporeal and can touch him, that he can feel the breath on his face, just the slightest brush of her against him.  “That you did everything you could to figure out what happened when I missed our little phone dates.  But we both know that isn’t true.  You’ve got the money, you’ve got the drive.  You could have flown out.  It’s not that far, and you made your suit, and I always wanted to see it.  And now I never will.”
          His breath hitches.
          “You were needed here, you’ll say.  Well, not at the moment.  Your Exoskel didn’t save that Potential, did it?”
          Something funny is happening with his vision.  The other Tonys are telling him to breathe, trying desperately to stay afloat, but they’re drowning, too, drowning in that little persuasive “talk” in the cave, and none of them sound as loud as her voice in his ear.  Right next to his ear.
          “You’re useless right now.  Maybe you won’t be, in the end.  But you could’ve at least spared a day to fly out and convince Angel that one person cared about me.
          He gasps, desperately.  Flails a little.
          What feels like an eternity of harsh words he tries not to remember because his brain is malfunctioning anyway and instead brand themselves onto his heart, he feels, dimly, himself being shaken.  A blanket being placed around his shoulders.
          It takes the slap, followed by a desperate hug and crying into his shoulder, to break through.  Just a little.  I’m still alive.  I’m still alive, and not—and not Jesse, or Yinsen, or Cordy, or…but I’m here, I’m alive, it’s for a reason.  We’re broken, but we’re not useless.  Come on.  Reboot.
          “I’m still waiting on that sandwich,” Leader Tony says, because he has access to the memories and he knows that’ll earn a smile.  Which it does.
          Humor really is some kind of medicine.
          “Dawnie?” he manages eventually and knows he sounds like crap.
          “I thought you were dying,” she whimpers, and if nothing else that’s a reminder.
          Gotta look like I’m fine, if they’re all counting on me to be General Morale and all.
          That earns some groans.
          Captain Morale?  …Lieutenant Morale is just too big of a mouthful, not doing that one…
          “Just the First trying to mess with my head.  You snapped me out of it.  Thanks.”
          He’s not fine, he’s never going to be fine, but the least he can do is act like it.  The least he can do is—because he’s not the only one.  He can’t be.  This is happening to the rest, too, and he knows about PTSD, he knows it’s not his fault, he knows and he knows and he knows all these facts and they will never not make him feel inadequate.
          She gives him a long look, which says she’s not buying what he’s selling, and he panics a little, because he’s a salesman, he’s good at that, why can’t he be good at that right now, is he really broken—
          And then she announces, “Okay, but you owe me one.  Specifically, lots and lots of ice cream.  Which we will buy and eat together so you are my accomplice if we get caught.”
          He grins, bright and amused and Tony.  “That sounds fair enough.  I’ll bribe the judges.  Willow will be mad, but if we can get her on our side via illicit turtle ice cream in a cone, that just leaves Buffy, which is manageable.”  It’s not perfect, but it’s something to work with, and he’s an engineer.  Give him starting materials and he can figure out how to put it together.


madimpossibledreamer: Jiraiya|Yosuke jumping and using a throwing star (Default)

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