Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Marvel Crossover AU (Self-Made Hero: The Infinity Mirror)
Summary: The last official member of their little team will take some work to retrieve.
Word Count: 1704
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Dr. Winifred Burkle had an amazing life. She was well-respected. Her work did brilliant things for the world. She had an attentive, loving fiancé.
Of course, the key word there was had.
The things you didn’t know could and definitely well did kill you. Such as her fiancée was actually involved in a cult. Such as she was sacrificed, screaming, begging, unable to believe the betrayal, her still beating heart cut out to draw darker things into the world.
Illyria had a cult. She was a Goddess, worshipped by so many followers. She had the respect and even fear from the other Hell Gods and Goddesses, including that windbag Glorificus.
The key word there was also had.
The things she hadn’t known had led to her being trapped, entombed for eternity. The things she hadn’t known had led to one presumptuous human assuming a life of accomplishment would do for a sacrifice in her name. The things she hadn’t known had led, through spells passed down the centuries, to the human named Wyndam-Pryce to assume that a summoned Hell Goddess could be tamed.
Fortunately, there were things that this Wyndam-Pryce also had not known, and she rose in the former body of his fiancée, teeth bared in a snarl and eyes glinting in the dark in a way that human’s eyes did not. His screams and his blood against her claws grown solely for the fact that she has no weapon and feels the need to tear are sweeter than the heart lying in the bowl.
When she finishes, she is uncertain of her path. In her diminished powers, she feels the loss of her cult, and many of the other greats have been locked away over the years by mere humans. Yet she cannot return to the life of this ‘Winifred’. She doesn’t know enough about being human to do so.
Curious, she touches the heart, and relives the savage rage, the retribution that this former Winifred had exacted through the blessing of her dark Goddess, and decides this is enough. In thanks for her release, she will obliterate this cult from the earth, these humans who dared to rival the demons in their evil. She uses some of her power to preserve the heart, a little more to make her clothes that of her liking, and leaves.
She’s nearly done when some of them manage to unearth a ritual to travel into different dimensions, and escape, and she’s blind with fury. She takes out her frustration on every vampire above a Hellmouth and feels a little better.
She nearly kills one of the ringleaders when he reappears, only he convinces her that he was not and never was one of the leaders when he shows her his power, and it’s chaotic but not evil as the other’s was. “The ones you seek have allied with an enemy of mine,” he explains. “If you join us, we will hunt them down.”
She soon meets the others—a witch, a wolf, a knight, an assassin—and agrees.
Apparently, they are to rescue one other. A Slayer. A human created specifically to hunt evil, and the more in this hunt, the merrier. She has never had comrades before, never fought with others other than her followers, but as the knight jokes even as he traps one of the runaway cultists in a cage of his own karma with woven words, she decides she likes the feeling.
( Follow the Path. )
“So, how was the City of the Angels?” Xander asks with a slow smirk and Buffy bursts into tears.
He looks alarmed now. “That bad, huh?”
She blinks. “Wait, what?” She’s staring at him as if she’s never seen him before. He wasn’t…he wasn’t yelling at her?
He grins briefly but quickly turns serious. “Hey, it’s hardly like you’re the only superhero in town. I’d rather you take some time off than be distracted and die.” She quickly glances at the rest, including Mom’s friends, but they’re suddenly all talking to each other. She suspects he’s using some kind of magic, which if it gives her a break is fine with her.
She doesn’t care that everyone else is in the room. She runs into his hug, because if nothing else Xander is good at hugs. “Why…?”
“I like Angel.” She pushes away to stare at him. He hasn’t been replaced by an evil clone while she was away, has he? “No, seriously, I do. Mostly. I tease him and everything else. He’s also the only one who will let me patrol without a fuss. But I like you alive more. Selfish, definitely, but. And go on and hate me if it makes it easy, because lemme tell you, Willow does. She’s barely talking to me, and it hurts, but…” he shrugs. “…it’s not like I don’t deserve it.”
She bites her lip. “Angel would’ve made the same choice,” she says slowly. “That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, mister, but. I understand. Sometimes we have to make the hard decisions.” She’d been feeling so alone as Slayer. Like no one understood.
“Everyone else hates patrolling, but I’ll keep doing so in your stead if you don’t wanna.” Moving on. Business. He might be a goofball, but he knows how to be serious when it’s needed.
“Actually, you get demoted to my sidekick.” She lets a smile play around her lips as he pouts theatrically. “In Angel’s memory.”
He nods, wiping away all trace of the amusement. “In Angel’s memory.”
Dru’s distressed, swaying around. “Promise you’ll be careful, Spike. Dorothy’s coming to town with all her little friends and they’re not as you remember them. For all the Tin Man’s brains he is the Heart. The little dog Toto’s got fangs. Oz is really the Cowardly Lion. Glinda and the Lion have history and the man behind the curtain puts on a puppet show. The Scarecrow’s blue and she stole an improved brain by sacrificing her heart.”
Spike kisses her forehead. “I’ll be careful, pet.”
“Watch yourself. People might start thinking you’re my sidekick or something,” he tells Angel, who rolls his eyes.
“Yeah, if that involves making sure you don’t kill yourself and make Buffy upset.” Or get himself killed being an idiot, which would be equally as bad.
He shrugs his shoulders like it doesn’t matter. “It’s not like there’s a long list of contenders.”
There’s something quiet and helpless in the voice, but what’s probably worse is that it sounds like he’s resigned to it. Like it’s natural.
“Seriously. Are you okay?” He knows that it’s breaking the code, that they’re not supposed to talk about it, that however much Xander teases him about brooding and never talking about anything, let alone his feelings…Xander needs this. Intervention. Someone to step in. Even if it’s probably already too late.
“Batvamp.” Angel suppresses a sigh. “Look around. We’re living in a freakin’ warzone with not so much as SHIELD to have our backs. I’m living with the memories of several haunted alcoholics with PTSD in my head. Tensions are running high amongst my friends, i.e. fellow soldiers, which makes sense but doesn’t lead to good team-building. I’ve got at least five sets of memories where that led to the death of everyone I know and loved. I don’t even have my suit, which would at least make me valuable and a person again in the eyes of my friends. Even though I can fight, they won’t let me unless they don’t know about it.” He shrugs, eyes burning. There’s so much emotion there that Angel can’t even read. “It’s a losing war but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop fighting.”
And that…that isn’t broken or hopeless or anything else. It’s kind of sweet, honestly, though Angel’s never going to say that.
“They appreciate more. They just don’t realize they do,” he corrects, because it’s something he can say, and that gets a lopsided smile.
“Whatever you say,” he says, just humoring him, and then, softer, “…Thanks, big guy.”
“…I’m not the Hulk,” Angel grumbles, and that gets a wide, delighted grin, which is the only reason he even bothered to say it out loud.
“Wow, you’re not a total philistine! There’s hope for you yet!” Xander claps the vampire on the back, hard.
( Chapter 2 )
( Chapter 1 )