Justice League Xander:

Shining White Knight

By Paradox761

Paradox761@mail.com

http://members.tripod.com/~Paradox761

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters, nor do I claim to. No copyright infringement is intended, so please don’t sue. I don’t have any money anyway.

Summary: During a fight in Gotham City, Xander is transported fifty-two years into the future where he meets the Justice League. Will Xander be able to adjust to life in the future? And will he be able to help his new friends fend off an army of vampires set on destroying Gotham?

Author’s note: This story is part of Justice League Xander, a non-sequential series inspired by Justice League Unlimited on the Cartoon Network. I’ve been inspired by many of the minor characters on the show that, not being a big DC Comics fan, I’ve been unfamiliar with until now. So special thanks to the writers, producers, and actors behind JLU for getting me interested in DC again in a way I haven’t been since Batman: TAS. And thanks to Wikipedia for their detailed entries on all the DC characters, without which these stories wouldn’t have been possible.

*

Xander had always wanted to see Gotham City. Architecture like nothing else in the world, and the nightlife was second to none. The problem was, there were no vampires in Gotham City, or at least not very many. Xander had asked Giles, begged him even. But there simply wasn’t a reason to have a Watchers presence in Gotham. Xander figured it had something to do with Batman. Even the vampires were scared of him. That thought always made Xander smile. That a normal human being, not too unlike himself, was one of the baddest dudes on the block when it came to superheroes. Okay, so maybe that was the reason Xander always wanted to see Gotham.

So now he finally got his wish. The Bat couldn’t keep a lid on things in Gotham forever, especially now that he’s running with the Justice League. So some warlock decides to open a portal into hell above downtown because he got a parking ticket, or something stupid, and they get the call. Scoobies assemble. The original gang, all together again, for the first time since Sunnydale became a sinkhole. Buffy, Willow, Giles, Dawn, even Faith. They talked and laughed and reminisced on their way to the office building where this idiot was on the roof trying to suck the city into Hell. It almost felt like the good old days.

An hour later, Xander found himself sitting behind an air conditioning unit on the roof reloading his crossbow, remembering that some of the good old days weren’t all that good. Willow was sitting next to him, feverishly paging through some old book. The warlock was a wormy looking guy, five foot nothing with horned rim glasses and nerd rage to spare. He was just some pencil pusher for the city, none of their intel said anything about this much power. But when they interrupted his incantation, he started summoning Fyoral demons and throwing magic at them that would make Glory jealous. The fight was getting hairy, but Buffy and Faith were holding their own, as was Giles. Xander and Willow took rear positions so Willow could figure out what this guy had tapped into and how to shut it off, and Xander could pick off demons with his crossbow and watch Willow’s back at the same time. Dawn was off to the side behind another air conditioner with a crossbow of her own, providing cover fire for the slayers and the watcher.

Anything yet,” Xander asked, sliding another bolt into his crossbow and peeking over the a/c unit at the fight.

Willow shook her head. “It doesn’t make any sense, the stuff he’s using is way too powerful for him. Maybe it’s a possession.”

Xander fired a couple of bolts and hit one of the demons. He looked up at the warlock again to see him reading from a large book. “He’s incantating again,” he said. “He’s not looking, I have a shot. Should I take it?”

It was a tough call. They didn’t take killing humans lightly, even if it was necessary sometimes. Maybe Xander shouldn’t have asked, maybe he just should have done it. But that wasn’t a decision he wanted to make anymore than Willow did.

No,” Willow said. “It has to be a possession, it’s the only thing that makes sense. I can do this, I just need to figure out what form of magic he’s using so I know what spell I need. Buy me some time.”

You got it,” Xander said, turning back to the fight. He fired another bolt, striking a demon in the chest. He glanced over and Dawn and saw her taking aim. She was concentrating on the fight, so much so that she didn’t see the demon that had managed to circle around behind her. “Shit!” Xander cursed, springing to his feet and running toward Dawn. “Dawn, look out!”

For many years to come after that day, the people who were there would replay that moment over and over again in their heads. Like it happened in slow motion. Xander’s shout had caused everyone to turn. Dawn spun around but it was too late, the demon grabbed her crossbow and ripped it from her hands. Xander fired, hitting the demon in the stomach. Dawn kicked it, and Xander hit it with the butt of his crossbow once he was close enough and it went down. He spun around again toward the rest of the demons, his crossbow up again, just as the warlock turned to see what the commotion was. He saw Xander pointing his crossbow in his general direction. He raised his hand, and a bolt of red energy flew from hit. Xander quickly pushed Dawn out of the way, just before the energy struck him and sent him flying backward, over the edge of the roof.

The only thing Xander heard after that was screaming, and then wind rushing by him as he plummeted toward the ground. There wasn’t time for his life to flash before his eyes, just the realization that he was going to die, that this was the end. And then, in an instant, like the flicking of a switch, the sky above him changed from blue to black. He could feel himself starting to slow down. Something had him. Someone. He could feel a pair of arms under his legs and back, and there was a face above him now. But it was so dark he couldn’t make it out. He was confused, disoriented. He had just gotten the wind knocked out of him and spent a few terrifying seconds in free fall. But now he was alive. He said the first thing that popped into his mind. “Wha...?”

I got you pal, you’re okay,” a gravely voice said to him. A few moments later, Xander felt them touch down. The man who had been carrying him set him down, and Xander took a moment there on his hands and knees to catch his breath and let his heart slow down.

Thank you,” Xander said after a minute. He looked up just as his benefactor stepped into the light. “Batman?” He was dressed head to toe in black, with a big red bat emblem on his chest.

I didn’t honestly think he’d be here,” Batman said. It took Xander a second to realize that he wasn’t talking to him. There were two other men on the roof with them. Xander looked around. Another roof, a different roof.

The other two walked into view and Xander got his first good look at them. One was an older African-American man, with gray hair and a gray beard, wearing a purple mask. He had a long black coat on, and a lightning bolt emblem on his chest. The second man was dressed in silver armor, with a pair of large wings protruding from his back.

The Red Witch said he’d be here,” the older man with the purple mask said. “And she’s never been wrong.”

I thought he’d be taller,” the one in the armor said.

You’ll have to excuse Warhawk,” the black man said, this time addressing Xander. He offered him a hand which Xander took and pulled him to his feet. “He left his manners in his other armor. My name is Static,” he said, shaking his hand. “And I assume you’re Xander Harris, right?”

How did you know my name?”

Oh, we’ve been waiting for you for a while now Xander,” Static said.

I don’t understand, where am I? A minute ago is was still light out, and now it’s night.”

Static reached into his coat and pulled out an envelope. “This will explain everything,” he said, handing it to Xander.

Xander took the envelope and looked at it. His name was written across the front in Willow’s familiar handwriting. He tore it open and pulled out a letter. He started to read it.

Dear Xander,

I know this must all be terribly confusing for you, but trust me when I tell you that you are among friends. I don’t know exactly who will be there to greet you, but there isn’t anyone in the Justice League that I wouldn’t trust with my life. That’s right, the Justice League. But you probably figured that out already.

Let me start at the beginning. The last think you remember was the fight with Temporal, on that rooftop in Gotham City. That was his name, Temporal. I was right about it being a possession, but it wasn’t a demon or a ghost. Temporal was a Time Spirit, a creature that normally only exists between dimensions, with no physical form. The human that he had possessed was the one who accidentally summoned him. He was trying to open a rift in space/time, not to a hell dimension like we originally thought. He wanted to go home, back to the inter-dimensional ether. If the rift had opened though, it would have swallowed the entire planet, so it was still good that we stopped him. After he blasted you off the roof, I found a spell to drive Temporal out of his host. Without a host he couldn’t manifest his powers, so a standard vanquishing spell took care of him pretty quick. As for the human who had summoned him, his name was Arthur Smola, and I came very close to killing him that day. The others managed to stop me before I went all black-eyed.

So, what happened to you you’re probably asking. The blast he hit you with was temporal energy, and it pushed you into the future. Exactly fifty-two years, one hundred and eleven days, sixteen hours, and forty-three minutes into the future to be precise. You don’t even want to know how long it took me to calculate that. After I figured out what happened, I poured myself into every book on temporal magic I could find. We interrogated Smola, contacted mages all over the world, tapped every resource the Watchers had. The good news is that we were able to calculate exactly how much energy was used in that blast, therefore we knew exactly when you would materialize again in the future. The bad news is that there is no way to reverse the process. There is simply no way for anyone on Earth to access the kind of power that Temporal had.

At first I had a difficult time accepting that, we all did. Dawn left the Watchers for good after that, deciding that she wanted a normal life. She finished college, ended up married with a couple of kids. Her oldest son is named Alexander, after you. Last I heard from her she lived in Ohio somewhere. She’s happy. Buffy became depressed after that day in Gotham, distant. She never seemed like the same person again. Her walls were up and nobody was getting in. Giles started drinking again, and eventually stepped down as head of the Council. He died in 2016, of a heart attack. His funeral was the last time I saw Buffy. Even Faith never seemed the same after what happened to you. She threw herself into the slaying pretty hard after that. Last I heard she was somewhere in Africa.

As for me, I didn’t give up on finding a solution so easily. I did a lot more research and a lot more studying, on every form of magic I could find. White magic, black magic, even chaos magic. Looking for anything that could help bring you back. There was a good two year period where I rarely left the central library in London.

I love you Xander, and I always will. I miss you more than anything, and I wish to the Goddess that there was something I could have done. I still think about you every day. I’m so sorry, Xander. You should have taken that shot when you had it, but I said no. I thought I could figure it out in time. But I wasn’t fast enough. I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you back. I failed you. I hope that you can forgive me.

At some point though, even I had to concede that there just wasn’t anything I could do. I needed to move on with my life. As cruel as that must sound to you now, having just lived through those experiences mere minutes ago, you have to remember that many years have passed for me. I didn’t have the drive to work with the Watchers anymore, my heart just wasn’t in it. But my years of study and research to find a way to bring you back left me with considerable power. In fact, I was one of the most powerful witches in the world. And I still wanted to use that to help people. I think that’s what you would have wanted me to do. So I became a costumed hero. I thought it seemed like a good way to help people on my own. I called myself the Red Witch. It went pretty well, and a few years after I started, I joined the Justice League. It was a dream come true, meeting all those heroes, getting to work alongside them. I still can’t help but think every time I set foot on the Watchtower what you would think of it all. I hope you’d be proud of me. It’s because of you that I became the Red Witch. I owe you everything Xander, and I can never repay you.

One last thing. If you’re reading this letter, and I’m not there to greet you myself, chances are that I’m dead. I’m sorry that I never got the chance to see you again. This is a pretty good world to live in, and I hope that you give it a chance. The League will take care of you. I hope you live a long and happy life, Xander. I did.

With love always,

Willow Rosenberg

aka The Red Witch

Xander finished reading and folded the letter back up. He reached up and wiped his eye. “Is she really...” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the question.

Almost ten years ago,” Static answered him solemnly. “Not too long after she wrote you that letter.”

Did she...I mean, was she...”

It was a good death,” he said, putting his hand on Xander’s shoulder. “Willow died a hero.”

You knew her?” Xander asked.

I considered her a good friend. She used to talk about you all the time. She spoke very highly of you.”

It wasn’t her fault, she knew that, right? I mean, she did everything she could, there wasn’t anything...it wasn’t her fault! Damn it, I should have taken the shot! Why did I ask her first, I should have just done it!” He took the crossbow that was still hanging from his shoulder and threw it down. “It wasn’t her fault.”

She carried the pain with her for a long time. She always wished she could have done more, but deep down I think she stopped blaming herself a long time ago,” Static said.

Good,” Xander said. He picked the crossbow back up and put it over his shoulder, pushing it around to the back. “So what happens now?” he asked.

Static, Batman and Warhawk all looked at each other. Batman spoke up. “We take you to see the old man.”

*

Xander was in the Batmobile. A flying Batmobile, over a Gotham City that looked like something out of a science fiction movie. Static and Warhawk flew on either side of them as they headed for the Batcave. *The* Batcave, where Batman hangs out. It was all becoming a little too surreal.

Wait a minute, you’re telling me that Bruce Wayne is Batman?”

*Was* Batman, I’m Batman now.”

You’re yanking my chain, aren’t you? Who was the Flash then, Donald Trump? And Bill Gates was Wonder Woman, right?”


Could be,” Batman said. “I don’t know who either of those people are. Hang on, we’re almost there.”

The Batmobile touched down and the canopy opened. Batman climbed out and offered a hand to Xander. “Welcome to the Batcave,” he said. Static and Warhawk landed a second later.

Xander was awestruck, there just wasn’t another word for it. On one side there was a display case with Batman’s costume, along with Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing. Further down there were more display cases filled with what looked like souvenirs from various villains Batman had fought over the years. On the other side of the cave there was a big computer, with a huge screen and a chair in front of it. The chair spun around to reveal an elderly man seated in it, his fingers steepled in front of him as he looked at Xander.

How did it go?” he asked in an old, worn voice.

He was exactly where and when we expected him to be,” Batman answered. “And he seems to be taking it all pretty well, considering.”

Xander stepped forward as the old man pushed himself up with a cane. “You’re Bruce Wayne,” Xander said.

I am.”

Holy shit, so you really were Batman?”

I was.”

Holy shit!”

You said that already.”

Oh, I’m sorry, it’s just all so much of a shock. It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Batman...I mean, Mr. Wayne,” Xander said, extending his hand.

Bruce shook his hand. “The pleasure is mine, I’ve heard a lot about you over the years.”

You knew Willow too, then.”

She was a remarkable woman. I’m sorry for your loss. I know this can’t be easy for you, but I’ll do everything in my power to help you as much as I can. You can stay here at Wayne Manor for as long as you like. And I’m sure Terry here wouldn’t mind helping you learn more about this new world that you’ve suddenly found yourself in.”

Terry?”

Bruce motioned toward the others. Xander turned and saw Batman taking off his mask. He was a kid, younger than Xander himself, probably still in his teens. “Terry McGinnis,” he said, extending his hand. His voice sounded much more natural now, gone was the fake gravel. “Nice to meet you.”

Xander shook his hand. “You too. You guys are being pretty casual about your secret identities here. You’re not going to kill me later, are you?” Terry laughed.

We’re a family,” Bruce said. “And Willow was part of that family. That means that you are too.”

Xander didn’t know what to say. “Thank you. That means a lot right now.”

Static took off his mask as well. “I’m Virgil, and this is Rex,” he said, indicating Warhawk. Xander smiled and nodded toward both of them.

Terry,” Bruce said. “How did the rest of your patrol go tonight? Did you take care of that pest problem by the docks?”

Pest problem?”

The leeches, remember?”

Oh, right, the leeches. Yeah, I ah, exterminated them. But the overall, uh, infestation is still citywide.”

I figured as much,” Bruce said. “Okay, that’s enough for tonight, why don’t you head home.”

Yeah, I’m going to head back to the Tower,” Static said, putting his mask back on. “I’ll see you guys later. It was nice meeting you, Xander.”

You too,” Xander said.

Static put a finger to his ear. “Static to Watchtower, one for transport.” And a second later, he disappeared in a flash of light.

That is just too cool for words,” Xander commented.

I’m going to do one more sweep of the city first,” Warhawk said. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” He nodded his goodbye and then took to the air, flying out of the Batcave.

Come on Xander, I’ll show you around,” Bruce said.

*

It was 3:00 AM when Bruce found Xander in his study, sitting at the computer terminal that he had shown him briefly how to use earlier. Ace was lying on the floor next to him and Xander was casually petting him as he looked at the screen.

You’re up late,” Bruce said.

Xander looked up. “My body still thinks it’s a lot earlier,” he said. “What about you?”

I’ve always been a bit of a niteowl,” Bruce answered. Xander smiled at that and turned back to the computer screen. Bruce walked up behind him and looked over his shoulder. Xander was looking up his friends on the net, trying to find out more about their lives, about everything he missed out on. Along with fifty-two years worth of history. “Anything interesting?”

The Watchers Council going public in 2021, then three years later The Red With and Dr. Fate work together and cast a spell that banishes all supernatural evil from this plane of existence and the Watchers disband,” Xander said, reading from the screen.

They didn’t disband so much as just become integrated into the League as the Paranormal Research Department,” Bruce said. “The public just wasn’t ready to hear that all the things that went bump in the night were real. It was easier to downplay it, tell them that the League had it under control.”

So the spell they cast didn’t really banish all evil?”

It was a major blow, stopped anything too powerful from getting a foothold in this dimension ever again. It made vampires and most other demons an endangered species, but ‘banish all evil’ may be a bit of an exaggeration.”

Well, it’s nice to know that spin is still alive in well here in the second half of the 21st Century.”

What about your friends, have you been able to find any more on them?” Bruce asked.

Finding stuff on Willow is easy, she was a celebrity. The others were a bit harder. I did find their obituaries though.”

I may be able to get a hold of Willow’s personal database from the Watchtower’s computer for you. That might have more information on your friends. Along with her personal logs and files. I think she’d want you to have them.”

Thank you, I’d like that,” Xander said. He paused, collecting his thoughts. “It’s finally starting to sink in, that they’re all gone. Everyone that I ever knew is dead. In that fraction of a second while I was falling, they all lived their lives without me. And now I’m alone, a one-eyed carpenter with just the clothes on my back in a world that I have absolutely no understanding of. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Bruce pulled up the chair next to Xander and sat down. “When I was a boy, both of my parents were murdered. It happened right in front of me. I know it isn’t quite the same thing, but I felt the same way that you feel now. I didn’t understand how I was going to go on, what I was going to do. I had a lot of anger, and I ended up channeling it in ways that I wouldn’t recommend. My point is, that as hard as it was for me, I moved on. Because I had to, there was no other choice. I found a way. And you will too.”

How?”

That’s something that everyone has to find for themselves. I can’t tell you how to grieve, or when to stop. You have to figure that out for yourself. And it might not seem like it right now, but you will.”

Thanks.”

Bruce put his hand on Xander’s shoulder and squeezed as he stood up. “Try to get some sleep, you’re going to have to get your body used to the time change eventually.”

I’ll try.”

*

The next day found Xander and Terry standing outside the Museum of Justice, a museum dedicated to the history of the Justice League. Xander had spent most of the day on the net again, trying to learn anything and everything he could about the last fifty-two years. Terry stopped by in the afternoon, deciding to play tour guide, and asked Xander what he wanted to see. Xander told him that he was mainly interested in the Justice League, and Willow’s career as The Red Witch. So Terry took him here.

Wow,” Xander said, looking at the grand entrance of the museum dedicated to Earth’s heroes. “How long has this been here?”

I’m not sure,” Terry said. “It’s been around ever since I can remember. They used to take us here on field trips every year in elementary school. Always a class favorite. Come on, let’s go inside.”

The museum was divided into two sections, current heroes and past heroes. They walked through the current heroes section for a while, Terry telling Xander about all the new faces he saw. They stopped at Static’s display, where Xander learned that Static had been around even in his time, as a teenager. His costume hadn’t changed much, which Xander thought was strange. And his former sidekick, Gear, was also in the League. He ran the Watchtower, taking over for Mr. Terrific after he retired. They stopped at Warhawk’s display too, where Xander learned that he was the son of Hawkgirl and Green Lantern. There seemed to be a lot of that, children of former heroes, taking over the family business as it were.

They made it to the past heroes section, and Terry led Xander to the Red Witch’s display. The first thing Xander saw was her costume, worn by a faceless mannequin. It was a red bodysuit, with a long red hooded cloak over it and a simple domino mask over the eyes. Next to it there were pictures of Willow in costume standing next to Superman, flying into battle along side other heroes that Xander didn’t recognize, and dozens more. There were video screens playing news footage of her in various fights, taking out some bank robbers, fighting what looked like a demon on a city street. Xander was drawn to that. Still pictures were one thing, but there was something about seeing her in action that was almost surreal. She was amazing, and he couldn’t help the smile that lit up his face.

She really loved her job, didn’t she?” he asked.

That’s what they say,” Terry said. “All the old timers that I’ve met who talk about her all say the same thing. No one ever cared as much, or had a bigger heart. She used to say that she was living the dream of two people, so she always had twice as much fun.” Terry paused. “I wish I could have met her. She sounds like a great lady.”

She was,” Xander said with a sad smile.

Here, let me show you something. These displays are all interactive. Do you see that red circle on the floor?” Terry asked. Xander nodded. “Stand on it.”

Xander stepped forward onto the circle, triggering a three-dimensional holographic display of some of the very same scenes he saw playing out on the video screens. It felt like he was really there, watching her in action. A narrator’s voice came up.

The Red Witch first appeared in London, England in 2011. Not much is known about her early years in crime fighting. She was based in London, even though her accent would indicate that she’s American, and she fought everything from petty criminals to powerful super villains with occult powers, like The Shaman. In 2012 she foiled the South African super villain's plot to kidnap the Queen. In 2016 she moved to the United States, making appearances mostly on the West coast. In 2018, she joined the Justice League.

The Red Witch’s powers are magic based, and include levitation and spell casting. She also swung a pretty mean battle ax.”

This comment was accompanied by a video of Willow swinging a double headed ax at a particularly nasty looking demon. Xander smiled. He recognized the ax, it had belonged to Giles. His favorite in fact. The narrator continued.

She faced off against mostly magical enemies. Demons, warlocks, and other magic users. She worked closely with Dr. Fate during many of her adventures, along with another organization.

In 2021, The Watchers Council, a centuries old secret organization dedicated to fighting evil of the supernatural sort, went public with the help of The Red Witch and the Justice League. And for the first time, the public learned of the very real threat that vampires and demons posed to us. The League took an active role in helping to fight this evil, until 2024 when The Red Witch and Dr. Fate worked together to cast a spell to banish these creatures from our dimension forever. The Watchers Council disbanded after that, and The Red Witch became our first line of defense against what was left of the supernatural threat. And she continued to fight bravely, until her death in 2049 in the battle against the invading Zendali alien hoard on the outskirts of our solar system.

Above all else, we will always remember The Red Witch for her bravery, compassion, and amiable personality. She lived and died as a hero, but as her self-written epitaph reads, ‘No One Ever Had as Much Fun’.”

A new hologram appeared after the narrator finished speaking. It was Superman and Willow standing next to each other, surrounded by reporters and cameras. She was standing barely two feet away, closer than she had been in any of the other holograms, with a 1,000 watt smile on her face.

The real hero today is The Red Witch,” Superman said. “She’s the one who opened the portal that swallowed the asteroid to stop it from hitting the Earth. It was her quick thinking that saved the day.”

The reporters all fired questions at her. “How does it feel to save the world?” one of them asked.

It feels great, I’m just glad that I could help. This has all just been a dream come true for me.” She turned her head, and it seemed like she was looking right at Xander. “Thank you,” she said. Xander reached out to touch her face, but his hand passed right through it.

The hologram disappeared, and Xander found himself looking at the blank mannequin wearing The Red Witch costume. “Willow,” he whispered.

Hey, are you all right?” Terry asked, putting his hand on Xander’s arm.

Yeah, I’m okay,” Xander said, gathering his thoughts. “It’s all just a little surreal, seeing her like that, in costume. An honest to goodness hero, saving the world.”

Terry looked around to make sure no one was in earshot. “Wayne told me something once. I told him that the reason I wanted to be Batman was because it made me feel like I was worthwhile. He said, ‘It’s not Batman that makes you worthwhile, it’s the other way around. Never tell yourself anything different.’ The only compliment he ever paid me. The only one he ever needed to. My point is, it’s not the costume that makes the hero, it’s what’s inside of it.”

Xander looked back at the display case, at the collection of weapons displayed next to the mannequin, including Giles’ ax, a wooden stake, and a crossbow. “Believe me, I know,” he said. He put his hand on the glass and stared a moment longer before turning back to Terry. “Come on, let’s check out some of the other displays.”

Sure thing.”

The two of them started back down the hall. “So, how long has Gotham had a vampire problem?” Xander asked.

Terry looked at him. “What? Why would you...what gave you that idea?”

Leeches? Come on, just because I’m from fifty years in the past doesn’t mean I’m stupid. When did it start? Do you know who the master is yet?”

Wait a minute, I can’t...Wayne didn’t want you to know.”

Because he knew I’d want to help and he doesn’t want me to get hurt. Been there, done that, bought the soundtrack. But now I do know, so you might as well tell me the whole story.”

Terry seemed to consider it for a moment. “There’s really not much to tell. It started a few weeks ago, and we really don’t know how or why. Vampires are supposed to be a thing of the past. There aren’t a whole lot of people left who know anything about them.”

I do,” Xander said. “For instance, I know it only takes one night for a vampire to rise. I know that the docks are a perfect place for vampires to hunt if they’re looking to turn their victims. You got lots of people coming in by ship, not from Gotham, won’t be missed for a while if they disappear. Not to mention a lot of homeless and prostitutes, more people who won’t be missed. I know that in a few weeks, if every night even half the vampires turn just one more, you’ve got yourself an army of the undead pretty damn quick. So this probably all started with one vampire. If you can figure out who, you can figure out what he’s up to. Does he want to end the world? Summon a demon? Reinvigorate the vampire population? Chances are he’s not raising an army just so he can throw one hell of a Superbowl party. How many vamps are we talking about here? How many missing persons reports? How many bodies in the morgue with no blood and bite wounds to their necks?”

This past week, it’s been ten or twelve a night. The old man is looking into the missing persons reports, we’ve got a handle on it.”

There’s no reason why I can’t help,” Xander said. “This is what I do, I’ve been doing it since I was younger than you.”

It’s not my call to make,” Terry said.

They walked by another display and it caught Xander’s eye. He stopped. It was a suit of golden chainmail armor with a helmet. There was a red tunic over it with a black bird emblem across the chest. And just to complete the Arthurian motif, next to the armor there was a stone with a sword sticking up out of it.

Shining Knight,” Xander said, taking a closer look at the armor. “I remember him.” He stepped onto the circle and the interactive presentation started. The narrator spoke.

Sir Justin was a 6th Century knight, a member of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. He was given a magical suit of armor and sword by the wizard Merlin, as well as a winged horse called Victory. During one of his adventures, Sir Justin became trapped in an avalanche and buried under the snow and ice. He remained there, frozen in suspended animation until he was discovered by archaeologists in the 20th Century. Finding himself in a new and confusing world that he didn’t understand, Sir Justin decided to put his training as a knight to good use and become a crime fighter. Taking the name Shining Knight, he eventually joined the Justice League in...”

The narrator cut off as Xander stepped off the circle. He turned back to Terry. “A Knight of the Round Table, displaced in time over a thousand years. He wasn’t some living museum relic, he contributed to society. He kept fighting for what he believed in, no matter how much the odds were stacked against him. Nobody put him out to pasture, or told him that he couldn’t do the one thing he still knew how to do. All I’m asking for here is the same chance he was given, to prove myself. To show you guys that I’m still worth something.”

You don’t have anything to prove to us, Xander. So who are you trying to convince?” Terry asked. “Me, or yourself?”

*

Later that night, Bruce walked into the Batcave to find Xander there in his chair at the Bat-computer. “What are you doing down here, Xander?”

Well, where I come from we call it research. It’s what we did whenever someone tried to raise an army of the undead. Your computer is much more user friendly than I would have thought, it didn’t take me too long to figure out how to run searches on it. Access to police reports, missing persons records, not to mention a very extensive occult database. Giles would have wet his pants if her ever got to see this, God rest his soul.”

Don’t you think I’ve done all that already?” Bruce said, his tone flat.

I wouldn’t know, since you decided to keep me out of the loop on this,” Xander said, accusingly.

No one is keeping you out of the loop, Xander. You’ve been here less than a day, you just found out that everyone you ever knew is dead. I thought you had enough on your plate without having to worry about our little vampire problem.”

I’d hardly call it little,” Xander said, turning back to the computer screen. “According to my calculations, we’re looking at nearly 600 bloodsuckers here. That’s a lot, even for a city this size.”

Bruce’s expression changed. “600? My calculations only put it around half of that.”

Did you add 10% for unreported missing persons? Did you check the reports from neighboring counties, or across the state line? Any vampire with a half a brain who’s trying to raise an army is going to know not to get everyone from the same area.”

Bruce stepped closer and looked at the computer screen over Xander’s shoulder. He stared at it for several seconds, his expression hardening. “Damn,” he said.

I’m still no closer to figuring out who the master is, or what he’s up to. No break-ins or robberies in the last few weeks connected to vampires, nothing really unusual aside from standard feeding deaths for a group this size, and all of the missing persons which indicate that they’re turning more and more as the group gets larger. None of the random mayhem that you’d expect, and the numbers that Terry is seeing during his patrols are too low, even if they were just feeding. They’re laying low, feeding on the sly, probably from a blood bank or a slaughter house. They’re waiting for something. But what? I searched the occult database for any prophecies or big supernatural events that might be coming up, but so far nothing.”

Bruce nodded as he looked over Xander’s results. “This is good work,” he said.

Try not to sound so surprised,” Xander said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time.”

Hey guys,” Terry said, walking up from the other side of the cave. “Did I hear my name?”

Terry, tell me about the first vampire you ran into,” Xander asked. “Where did you find him? What did he look like? Did he say anything unusual?”

Terry thought for a moment. “It was around three weeks ago, outside the Gotham Museum of History. I think he was a guard. I had never seen a vampire before, it was kind of freaky. He didn’t say anything, just growled and tried to bite me.”

Sounds like a newbie, looking for his first meal. The museum, that’s got to be it. Our guy broke in and turned a guard, was anything stolen?”

No,” Terry answered. “I don’t understand, the museum has got to be what?”

What this guy is after, why he’s raising an army. Museums are full of artifacts with supernatural properties, and most of the time nobody even knows. Did you check...”

All of the new artifacts in the acquisitions department,” Bruce finished. “Nothing matched anything in the occult database. I thought the same thing. It could just be a coincidence. Just because it was the first vampire Terry found, doesn’t mean it was the first one turned.”

I don’t believe in coincidences,” Xander said. “There has to be a connection, maybe...”

Xander was interrupted as two shafts of light appeared in the Batcave, materializing into Static and Warhawk. “We’ve got a problem,” Static said. “Vampires, hundreds of them, all over downtown. It’s chaos, the cops are trying to get control but they’re getting overwhelmed.”

Oh my god,” Terry exclaimed.

He’s making his move tonight,” Xander said. “The museum is uptown, isn’t it? It has to be...”

Who do we have,” Terry interrupted, not really listening to Xander.

Superman’s across galaxy, fighting aliens or something,” Warhawk answered. “The rest of the League is spread all over, so we’re it.”

Damn,” Bruce said. “All right, suit up,” he said, looking at Terry. “You two get out there, do as much as you can. Try to get any civilians into any private home, vampires can’t enter a home unless they’re invited. Xander, you stay here.”

Bruce, listen to me,” Xander tried to interrupt.

Xander, there isn’t time to argue! Keep researching.” Bruce reached into his pocket and pulled out a small device which he handed to Xander. “It’s a comlink, contact us if you find anything. I’m going to help Gear coordinate things on the Watchtower. What are you two waiting for, go! Watchtower, one for transport.”

Static and Warhawk flew out of the cave, followed closely by Batman, stilling pulling on his mask. Bruce disappeared in a shaft of light, and all at once the excitement was over. The cave was quiet. Xander was alone.

And people say I rush into danger without thinking,” Xander complained. He sat back down at the computer and started typing furiously.

*

The streets of downtown Gotham were pandemonium. There were vampires everywhere, attacking anyone and everyone they saw. Destroying store fronts, tipping over cars, setting fires. Most of the cops didn’t know what they were dealing with, trying to arrest them at first. The ones who did know just started firing their guns. Neither were very successful.

People were running through the streets, screaming. Some tried to hide. But there were so many vampires, they were everywhere. The attack had started during rush hour, when the streets were filled with people. There were no private homes downtown, it was all businesses. There was simply nowhere to run to. Nowhere to hide.

Static, Warhawk and Batman fought as best they could. Static tried shocking them directly with his powers, but it only stunned them for a few seconds. He threw manhole covers and trashcans at them, dumpsters and even cars. But nothing seemed to do anything more than slow them down briefly. There were so many of them. Warhawk fought on the ground with his Nth metal ax, landing blow after blow, but it did little. Batman managed to decapitate a few with his exploding bat-a-rangs, but they just kept coming.

We’re getting stomped down here,” Batman said into his comlink. “Any chance for reinforcements?”

We’re working on it,” Wayne’s voice came back.

*

The Museum of Justice was completely empty. Almost. Anyone with a brain in their head who wasn’t stuck downtown had locked themselves in their homes by now. But Xander was here, standing in front of one of the display cases, with one of Mr. Freeze’s cold guns that he had taken from the Batcave clutched in his hand.

Maybe Terry’s right. Maybe I am just trying to convince myself that I’m worth a damn. That I can make it in this new world. I don’t know. What I do know is that there are people in trouble out there, and that there’s going to be a whole lot more trouble real soon if I don’t do something. So here I am, about to do something either really stupid, or really brave, and I just don’t have the time right now to figure out which it is, so what the hell.” Xander raised the cold gun and pointed it at the display case. “Here goes everything.”

He fired. A blue beam shot from the gun, freezing the water vapor in the air and creating ice on whatever surface the beam struck. Xander covered the display case in ice before taking his finger off the trigger. He leaned back and brought his foot up, and with a swift kick, shattered the ice and glass into a million pieces. An alarm sounded, accompanied by a computerized voice. “You are breaking and entering. The police have been called and are on their way.”

Something tells me they have more important things to worry about tonight,” Xander replied wryly as he stepped forward. In front of him there was a golden suit of armor, and a sword sticking up from a stone. Xander wrapped his hand around the handle of the sword and pulled it free. “I’m sorry about this Sir Justin, but right now I need this more than you do.”

*

The fight downtown wasn’t going well. Most of the cops had barricaded themselves behind their cars and were still firing at the vampires. Most had figured out that the body shots weren’t doing anything, so they switched to trying to disable the vampires, aiming for kneecaps or shoulders. Some with larger caliber weapons aimed for the head. Static had met with some success, hurling flaming trashcans and setting the vamps on fire. Batman was quickly running out of bat-a-rangs. All in all, the odds had increased from impossible to horrible.

Warhawk buried his ax into the chest of the vampire in front of him, then raked his steel talons across the demon’s face. The vampire just pushed him away, sending him six feet into the air before falling to the pavement. When he looked up he saw the vampire still coming at him, the ax still sticking from his chest. There wasn’t time to react.

Suddenly, the vampire stopped moving, a surprised look on his face. Warhawk watched as the lower half of the creature’s body was quickly covered with ice. A sword came out of nowhere and sliced through the vampire’s neck, decapitating it. It exploded into dust, leaving behind a shell of ice shaped like its legs and the Nth metal ax that had been embedded in its chest, which Warhawk caught before it hit the ground. He looked up and saw a man with an eye-patch, wearing the Shining Knight’s golden armor and carrying a sword.

What the hell are you doing here?”

Saving your life. You’re welcome, by the way,” Xander answered.

Batman and Static, having seen the commotion, flew over and landed. Static threw up a quick forcefield to keep the vamps off of them for a minute. “Xander, what are you doing here? Wayne told you to stay in the cave and keep researching,” Batman said.

I figured it out,” Xander said. “I know what he’s planning. Besides, I thought you guys could use some help.”

We’re doing just fine,” Warhawk bit out.

Really?” Xander asked skeptically. “No offense, but you guys aren’t used to fighting to kill. You’re going to have to change your tactics a little.” Xander reached into his belt and pulled out a handful of crossbow bolts. “Here,” he said, handing them to Static. “The shafts are made of metal, so you can use your powers to levitate them. The arrowheads are wood, aim for the heart. Should be a lot more effective than throwing trashcans at them.”

Static took the arrows and looked at them. He levitated them with his powers and smiled. He closed his fist and the bolts went flying off in every direction. He dusted five nearby vamps before the bolts returned to his hand. “Damn kid, I knew there was a reason I liked you,” he said. “Thanks.”

Don’t mention it. As for you,” Xander started, looking at Warhawk. “You’re pretty good with that ax, but chest shots aren’t going to do squat against vampires. You have to take off their heads, or barring that, their arms or legs. It won’t kill them, but it will disable them enough where they can’t fight.”

The half-Thanagarian didn’t look happy at being told how to fight, but he still nodded in agreement.

You said you figured it out,” Batman said. “What did you figure out?”

The Rite of Mongoumba,” Xander answered. “It’s a ritual that summons the power of an ancient African demon, bestowing near godhood on anyone who invokes it. It requires two things, the Orb of Ouadda, which just happens to be at the Gotham Museum of History, and has been for almost ten years now. And it must be performed on the third full moon after the winter solstice, which just happens to be tonight.”

So what’s this riot all about if what this guy wants is in some museum uptown?” Static asked.

A distraction, to keep the cops and the capes off his back while he performs the ritual at the museum?” Xander answered.

Why not just steal this orb thing?” Warhawk asked.

Because it weighs 700 pounds and is the size of a small car,” Xander said. “Not to mention that if he did, we’d be on to what he was trying to do right away. Whoever this vamp is, he’s smart. And that’s way more dangerous than strong, any day of the week.” Xander turned to Batman. “We have to get to the museum and stop the ritual, now.”

Xander!” Bruce’s voice barked at him from inside his helmet. Xander jumped, he had almost forgotten he was still wearing the comlink the old man had given him in his ear. “I thought I told you to stay in the Batcave!”

Xander put his hand to his ear. “Yeah, Willow probably should have warned you about that. I don’t listen too good.”

Actually, she did,” Bruce said.

Batman put a hand to his own ear. “Did you get all of that?” he asked, referring to Xander’s explanation.

I did, and Gear just confirmed it with the computer up here. Xander’s right, you two get to the museum as fast as you can. Static and Warhawk can handle the vampires for now. We’re still working on getting you reinforcements. And Xander, we *will* talk about this later, understand?”

Xander gulped. “Loud and clear, big guy.”

Batman typed a few commands into the panel on his forearm. “Come on, the Batmobile will meet us half way.” He hooked his arms under Xander’s and fired his boot-jets, lifting them both into the air. Static and Warhawk returned to the fight with a new vigor.

There’s one thing I don’t get,” Batman said. “If this ritual is as powerful as you say, then it can’t be this easy.”

You’re right,” Xander said. “That’s the one thing that’s bugging me too. According to the occult database, this ritual requires series amounts of natural magical ability and power, something that no vampire that I ever met ever had. So I don’t know what we’re going to find when we get to the museum.”

*

The museum was dark and quiet. Batman landed the Batmobile on the roof and he and Xander entered through one of the skylights. They made their way through the empty halls toward the African artifacts display. Xander could see the soft glow of candle light up ahead and quickened his pace. The two of them followed the light to a large room with a domed ceiling and another skylight, and stopped.

The room was round, with display cases all around the edges containing various artifacts from ancient Africa. Everything from spears and other weapons to pottery and simple tools. And in the middle of the room sat the Orb of Ouadda. It was a six foot tall perfect sphere, with a surface like black volcanic glass. The orb was surrounded by candles, and on the floor there were runes drawn in chalk. Standing in front of the orb was a single figure, his back to Xander and Batman. He was wearing a hooded cloak, and his arms were raised up with his palms flat against the orb. He was chanting quietly.

Um, hi,” Xander said. “Sorry to interrupt, but you’re going to have to stop now so we can kill you.”

The figure didn’t even turn, just took one of its hands off of the orb and held it out to its side. A bolt of energy shot from its hand and opened a portal in the middle of the room. A half a dozen Fyoral demons spilled out of the portal before it closed and started advancing on Xander and Batman.

Yeah, somehow I didn’t think it was going to be that easy,” Xander said, drawing his sword. “Try to aim for the eyes,” he said to Batman before launching himself into the fray. Batman drew two bat-a-rangs and threw himself into the fight as well.

Xander swung his sword, slashing the first demon across the chest. The demon howled and swiped at Xander with one of its claws, which bounced harmlessly off of his armor. Xander swung his sword again, this time slicing the demon’s face. It grabbed its face and hit its knees. Xander swung for its head, and the enchanted blade passed through the demon’s neck with ease, decapitating it.

Three of the demons tackled Batman to the ground and piled on top of him. A second later the dark knight fired his boot jets, taking to the air and sending the demons flying in three different directions. One of the demons pushed himself back up to his feet and looked down to see a bat-a-rang sticking out of its neck. A half a second later it exploded, taking the demon’s head with it. A half a second after that, two more bat-a-rangs exploded and killed the other two. That left two demons still alive. Batman looked down and saw Xander fighting with one while another was trying to get behind him. He swooped down and tackled the one behind Xander.

Xander had managed to deflect the demon’s attacks pretty well, slashing up its arms with his sword. Until finally the demon got an arm in and grabbed Xander’s arm. It picked him up and flung him into one of the wall displays. The glass shattered and Xander collapsed on top of a pile of centuries old wooden spears used by African hunters. The demon was advancing on him quickly. Xander scrambled to his feet and lunged with his sword, plunging it into the demon’s throat. The demon fell to the ground. Xander pulled his sword free and started hacking the creature’s head off.

Stop!”

Xander looked up at the shout and saw the cloaked figured facing him, the hood still obscuring his face. Next to him Batman hovered a few feet off the ground, bound by some kind of magical energy. He struggled to free himself, but he couldn’t move.

You never did know when to quit, did you Xander?” the cloaked figure asked. Then she pulled back her hood to reveal her face.

Xander’s sword clattered to the ground as his mouth hung open in shock. “No,” he said. “It can’t be you. That’s impossible.”

The wicked gleam of the raven-haired slayer looked back at him, and smiled. “Oh, it’s me, Boytoy,” she said.

Faith?” She looked exactly the same as the last time he had seen her.

Faith’s faced morphed into that of a vampire, and her eyes glowed with an icy blue light. “Actually, the name is Temporal.”

*

Static watched as the arrows he sent out shot through three more vampires, reducing them to dust. Behind him Warhawk was still taking vampires apart with his ax. The tide of the fight was finally starting to turn. The Leaguers were taking the fight to the demons now, going street to street. They had enough time now to make sure the civilians were safe, and police and firefighting crews were starting to hold the areas the heroes had already cleaned up. Things were going slow, but they were going.

Static caught the arrows as they flew back to him and took to the air to scout the next street while Warhawk picked off what was left. He rolled his shoulders and winced a little when his joints popped. He would never admit it to anyone, but he was getting too old for this. As well as the fight was going, the odds were still against them, and they couldn’t keep up this pace forever.

*

No, you can’t be. Willow killed you.”

You mean that pathetic vanquishing spell? I think not. I may not be able to manifest my powers outside of a host, but that doesn’t mean I’m easy to kill. I took this body while your friends were busy trying to stop the witch from killing my previous host.”

But why? Why are you doing all of this? This isn’t going to help you get back to your dimension.”

Back? My dear boy, why would I ever want to go back? Do you know what life without form is like? It’s torment! In this dimension I have power. That day on that rooftop I was opening that portal to welcome my fellow Time Spirits into this realm, so that we could take over the entire planet! But once I discovered this ritual, I realized that I didn’t need them to take over this world. I could do it myself!

It’s a funny thing about power. The more you take, the more addicting it becomes. When I first took this host, her memories of her many battles, the power she held over her enemies, it was intoxicating. But soon her power wasn’t enough, and I sought out a vampire to turn me.”

But that still wasn’t enough.”

The world is a different place now. That spell your friend cast with the help of the Justice League made it hard for my kind to get by. So in a way, you humans brought this on yourselves. An irony that you can reflect on when you’re all my slaves, and this planet lays broken before me.”

This fight isn’t over yet,” Xander snarled.

Please, I find your threats comical. You forget, I possess all of this host’s memories. I know that you have no special power or skills. You cannot defeat me, worthless human.”

Power doesn’t equal worth,” Xander said. “As long as you’ve been on this planet, you should have learned that by now.”

And what worth do you have to challenge me with? In your timeline, we met less than a day ago, and I hurled you off of a rooftop with a flick of my wrist. What could you have possibly learned in that time?”

Two things. One, I should have shot you when I had the chance. And two, no matter how powerful you are on this inside, you’re still just a vampire on this outside.”

Xander took his hand from behind his back to reveal a wooden spear that he had palmed when that Fyoral demon had thrown him into the display case. Temporal snarled and held up her hand. A bolt of magic shot out and struck Xander dead in the chest. But the enchanted armor protected him, the magic had no effect. Xander took advantage of the Time Spirit’s temporary confusion and lifted the spear up to his shoulder.

I’m sorry Faith,” he whispered to himself.

Xander threw the spear and struck her in the heart. Temporal barely had time to look down at the weapon sticking out from her chest before she exploded into dust.

The magical bonds that held Batman disappeared, and he fell to the floor. The bodies of the demons disappeared next. And just like that, it was over. Xander picked up his sword and walked over to Batman, giving him a hand up.

Do all the demons who want to end the world talk that much?” Batman asked, dusting himself off.

Pretty much,” Xander answered.

Batman looked down at the pile of ash that had once been the Time Spirit possessed vampire. “Who was she?”

An old friend.”

I’m sorry.”

Xander shook his head. “She died a long time ago.” Xander produced a cloth from his belt and wiped the demon blood from his sword. “Come on, this isn’t over yet. There are still a few hundred vampires downtown tearing the city to shreds.”

Right,” Batman said. He put his hand to his ear. “Wayne, we’ve got things handled here. Do you want us back downtown?”

Negative,” Bruce’s voice came back through both of their comlinks. “Stand by for transport.”

*

One moment Xander was standing in the dimly lit African artifacts display at the Gotham Museum of History, and the next he was on the brightly lit bridge of the Watchtower. Xander had heard of the Justice League’s teleportation technology, he had even seen it being used, but to experience it first hand was something quite different. There was a flash of light, and suddenly he was someplace else. It was disorienting, and he felt a little dizzy for a few seconds. He even felt like he might throw up. The feeling passed, but when he looked up and saw the look that Bruce was sending his way it quickly returned. Standing next to Bruce was a heavyset blond man wearing a green helmet and visor over his face. It was Gear, Static’s former sidekick. Xander recognized him from the picture he saw at the Museum of Justice.

What the hell were you thinking?!” Bruce growled, stalking toward him. “Stealing the Shining Knight’s armor, going off half-cocked...”

Hey, I was fully cocked I’ll have you know!” Xander interrupted, feeling a little indignation at the inference that he didn’t know what he was doing. “I found the ritual, I had to...”

You could have just told us what you found!”

And you would have done what? The fact is, you guys were shorthanded out there, and you needed my help! I’m sorry I took the armor and the sword, but it was the only thing I could find that had any kind of protection against magic. I’ll pay whatever penalty I have to, but I’m not sorry that I did what I did.”

Xander missed the look of shock on Bruce and Gear’s faces when he mentioned the sword. “What did you say?” Bruce asked, looking closer at the sword that was still in Xander’s hand.

I said I’m not sorry I...”

No, before that. Where did you get that sword?”

Same place I got the armor, from the Museum of Justice. It was sticking out of a prop stone right next to it.”

That wasn’t a prop,” Gear said, amazement clear in his eyes. “When Sir Justin fell in battle for the last time, his last act was to plunge his sword into the ground. Afterwards, no one could pull the sword free.”

Superman finally pulled it out,” Bruce continued. “But when he did, half of the blade was encased in that stone. Even he couldn’t get it out.”

It was the enchantment that Merlin put on the sword, it protected its power from being misused in the event of its bearer’s death,” Gear said. “Do you know what this means?”

Xander looked down at the sword, mouth agape. “I’m the next King of England?” he guessed.

No, the sword has chosen you to be its new bearer. Only one who is clear of mind, strong of will, and true of spirit can draw the sword from the stone. That’s what the enchantment said,” Gear said. “And the sword chose you.”

Xander looked down at the sword with a new sense of honor and reverence. It all seemed so overwhelming, so unbelievable. He carefully slid the sword back into its scabbard on his hip. “We still have an army of vampires to deal with. You have to beam us back down.”

We can’t,” Bruce answered.

Terry took off his mask. “Why not?” he asked.

The vampires saw you leave. If they see you come back, they’ll know that their master has been defeated,” Bruce said.

And they’ll scatter,” Xander said, understanding. “We’ll never be able to track them all down. And with no master to control them...”

They’ll kill, and make more vampires, and spread through Gotham like an infestation. And they won’t stop there,” Bruce said. “It will be chaos. Vampires used to be a thing of the past, this is the exact kind of thing that could jump start their population again. We have to take care of them all, here and now.”

But how?” Terry asked. “They’re going to eventually figure out that they’re losing anyway, whether we go back or not.”

Bruce and Gear shared a look. “We know,” Bruce said. “We’ve been trying to come up with something on a larger scale, wipe them all out at once, but we’re not having any luck.”

We could get a priest to bless the reservoir,” Xander suggested. “Then open all the fire hydrants. Let the streets run with holy water.”

What’s a fire hydrant?” Terry asked.

Xander looked at Terry. “Right. Future. Almost forgot there for a second.”

Wouldn’t work anyway, still too easy for them to avoid,” Bruce said.

Too bad sunrise is still eight hours away,” Xander said.

Gear perked up. “What?”

Well, they’re all outside. If the sun came up they’d all be crispy critters.”

That’s it! That’s brilliant!” Gear exclaimed. He ran for the computer and started punching in commands.

What did I say?”

The telescope at the Gotham Observatory, it uses a series of satellites with giant mirrors to bounce light off of, so it can look at stars anywhere in the night sky, all over the world. If I can hack into those satellites, I can position the mirrors to reflect sunlight onto downtown Gotham.”

Bruce sat down at the console next to Gear. “It could work,” he said.

Xander just watched as Bruce and Gear moved the satellites into position. Terry walked up next to him. “So that’s twice you saved the city now in, what, fifteen minutes?” Xander looked at him. “You’ve been chosen as the next bearer for the Shining Knight’s sword. And you’ve only been here a day. Sounds like you’re adjusting well.”

Xander watched on the monitors as the satellites moved into position and downtown was bathed in sunlight. The vamps started popping like ants on a skillet. He smiled. “Just imagine what will happen tomorrow.”

*

One month later...

Xander stood in the Museum of Justice in front of the Red Witch display, all decked out in his new armor. It was white, with bits of silver here and there, and covering the chest plate was an ornate Celtic cross.

What do you think, Wills? Shiny, huh? The circuitry that increases my strength comes from the same technology as the Bat-suit, and the armor plating is Nth metal, thanks to Warhawk. The color and design I chose myself. I still can’t quite believe it. I’m an official member of the Justice League now, the new Shining Knight. And it’s all thanks to you.

I miss you, Willow. I miss everybody. This isn’t an easy time to live in, there’s still so much about it that I don’t understand. But I’m trying. I’ve got good people to help me, thanks to you. I look at all this stuff, at your life for the past fifty years, and part of me can’t help but be sad. I missed out on so much of it. But the rest of me just feels proud. I see the lives you saved, the contribution you made. I see how happy you were. I’m glad you had a good life, Willow. Even if I couldn’t be there to share it with you.

You said in your letter that you failed me, but that’s not true. What happened on that roof wasn’t your fault, none of it. You did everything you could, more than anyone could have expected. You didn’t fail me Willow, you saved me. I hope you know that now.

They tell me that you used to say that you were living your life for two. Well I guess it’s my turn now. I’ve got a pretty big legacy to live up to. I hope I can make you as proud of me as I am of you.” Xander reached up and touched the glass. “And I hope that I get to see you again someday. I love you, Willow.”

Xander took one last lingering look at the images of Willow in the display before taking his hand down and walking away. Further down the hall he stopped in front of another display case. The Shining Knight’s armor was proudly displayed behind a newly fitted sheet of glass and next to a stone with a plaque in front of it explaining that the sword it once held was now in the possession of the new Shining Knight.

“I guess I should apologize for breaking in and borrowing your armor. It was for a good cause though, I swear. And it saved my life, so I owe you one for that. As for the sword, I don’t know if you had anything to do with letting me pull it from the stone. Something tells me that you did. I just want to say thank you, I’m honored to use it. You left some awfully big shoes to fill, I hope I’m up to the task. I hope I bring grace, honor, and dignity to the name Shining Knight. I promise you that I’ll always do my best to live up to your legacy.” Xander drew the sword from the scabbard on his hip. He pointed the tip at the ground and lowered himself to one knee, bowing his head in respect. “I won’t let you down, Sir Justin. On that you have my word, as a knight.” He stood up again and sheathed the sword.

So, what do you think of my armor? Nice, isn’t it? I don’t have a flying horse though, those are a little hard to come by these days. I was thinking of stealing the Batmobile, painting it white and calling it Victory. I’m sure Batman won’t mind, he can always build another one.”

All right smart ass, I know you know I’m here.”

Xander turned and looked up, smiling. Clinging to a pillar next to the skylight in the roof above him, Batman deactivated his cloaking device. “Don’t take it personally Bats, I’ve had things way older than you sneaking up on me in the dark since I was fifteen.”

Another after hours visit?” Batman asked. “Tonight is your first solo patrol, I would have thought you’d be jumping across rooftops downtown right now.”

Just paying my respects,” Xander answered.

Batman swooped down and landed on the floor. “I heard what you said. I think you’re going to be just fine. Sir Justin would be proud of you as his successor.”

Xander smiled. “Thanks.”

Come on, let’s get out of here. We’ve got work to do, bad guys to fight.” Batman said. He fired his boot jets and took off, out through the skylight.

Shining Knight pushed the visor down on his helmet. The heads up display popped up, showing him the status of his suit’s systems, as well as the visor options. He switched to night vision before reaching up and firing the grapple built into the armor on his right arm. A small spiked ball attached to a chain flew out, through the open skylight and wrapped around a nearby flagpole. The grapple retracted, pulling Shining Knight into the air.

“Wait’ll they get a load of me.

The End