Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor anything related to it belong to me.
"Okay," said Willow sternly as she stood at the end of the table in the library. She looked from Buffy who was sitting ramrod straight in one chair to where Xander slouched in the other and continued, "We talked about what rules should be had for this conversation?"
"Rules?" repeated the Slayer with a hard glance towards the young man across from her.
With a quick nod the redhead said, "No asking about Div's previous bearer Dart – he has nothing to do with this. And no asking Div to reveal anything about Xander because he won't do it. Plus..."
Not to her, I won't, growled Div as he tightened the grip of his invisible coils around his bearer's body as Willow continued laying out the rules the three of them had agreed upon. Xander winced at the pressure he felt and instantly it lessened. My apologies.
I know you're just trying to protect me, assured the teenager with the mental equivalent of scratching the dragon's chin. As a pleased rumble echoed through his head, Xander continued, But lessen up on the hugs. It's starting to get where I can feel you all the time around me rather than just when you're draping yourself like a cat.
Div sniffed at that and muttered, I do not drape. He then 'nodded', saying, Yes, I remember. Such is because of the stone being inside of you, I believe.
So you said, noted Xander. Just a little bit freaky though knowing that my body is essentially bonding with it.
I would give you some assurances but so far as I am aware this never happened with any of the other bearers. Then again, perhaps it is because of what I am. Div made a humming noise before adding, It is interesting that whatever this is has effected how I speak.
Xander rolled his eyes at that.
Oh, he said after a moment, you mean how your voice has started coming out of my mouth now instead of being disembodied and we can only talk for about an hour and a half before I collapse from exhaustion?
The teenager felt the dragon shift nervously, scales brushing roughly against his skin and clothes.
Yes, answered Div, that is what I mean. Or perhaps it was that being Willow summoned.
Aoidē, Greek Muse, said Xander with a little winning smirk that he could remember that and the dragon couldn't. That earned him the unsettling sensation of teeth nibbling on his ear and he resisted the urge to try and brush something off since he knew he couldn't. Stop that!
Div chuckled darkly then they both returned their attention to the others as Willow finished, "...and he can only talk for about an hour."
"Why?" asked Buffy, eyes narrowed.
"Because," answered Xander as he leaned forward, "the effort of Div speaking draws energy from me thanks to the tweaking of the Muse Wills called upon for the spell. Which is fine enough with us since it allows him to speak if he needs to but also keeps him from overusing the privilege."
As if I would overuse it, grumbled the dragon.
Buffy gave him a skeptical look then looked over at the closed door of Giles' office where her mother was talking with the Watcher. They had left her alone while waiting on Willow and Xander to arrive to discuss some changes her mother had hinted at. What exactly that had meant was a mystery but she had a feeling she wasn't going to like her mom knowing so much about Slaying.
With a grunt Xander leaned back in his chair and shouted, "G-man! Mrs. S! We're ready to start!"
The door opened a moment later to allow both adults to exit and Buffy watched with wide eyes as her mother walked close by Xander, patting him gently on the shoulder. She and Giles both then took their places behind Willow at the head of the table and everything went silent for a moment.
She didn't know what to say.
"Well then," rumbled a deep voice that she knew. Buffy turned slowly, eyes wide, to look at Xander who had dropped his chair back to the floor and was leaning on the table. A smirk twisted his lips and there was an amused twinkle in his hazel eyes but she knew that voice wasn't his. Yet his mouth opened again and it came out. "Shall we get this conversation started?"
"I," said 'Xander', "am the one you have been trying to get rid of this entire time. Perhaps it is polite to introduce myself?"
Buffy just stared, unable to comprehend the fact that not only was the dragon speaking through Xander but that he sounded like Darth Vader. Which was amusing given Xander's obvious geekiness but was still terribly unnerving since that voice brought with it a boatload of the terror she'd felt the first time she'd seen Star Wars.
"O-okay," she managed to stammer after a moment.
Xander just looked amused as his mouth said, "So you can speak. Amazing."
Div, mentally growled Xander warningly since once they switched control getting it back again took a lot of energy.
Oh, come now, she was asking for that one.
The teenager sighed and said, Just...try not to piss her off? Please?
Div shook his head, wondering exactly why the boy was so attached to the girl, but relented. If him playing nice would repair something of their relationship, he would do it for his bearer's happiness.
"I," continued Div aloud through Xander, "am the Divine Dragon, King of the Dragons of the world of Endiness. You may call me Div as I will never tell anyone other than Xander my true name again."
"Why not?" asked Buffy, finally able to find her voice through her initial shock.
A growl rumbled out of Xander's throat – a far darker and more bestial sound than he would ever be able to make – and Div answered, "In my own world I was imprisoned for fear I would destroy the world and they used my true name to secure the seals they placed upon me. After time, however, the magic of the seals waned with no one to care for them. I was released and those of the past brought down my vengeance on those of the present."
The Slayer blinked then hissed, "You attacked people who weren't even responsible for you being imprisoned?"
"Dragons are not creatures to be held by collar and leash like some dog," snarled the dragon in a brutal tone. "Thousands of years spent chained beneath a mountain, bound to the earth without means to see sky or spread my wings. When I broke free, I did not care who I killed, little girl, only that someone would suffer for what I had gone through."
He paused, taking a deep breath, and then Div continued in a calmer voice. "I am no longer caught in the web of that need, so you do not need to fear I will send Xander into madness."
If you would spread your hands, he said to the teenager since he could control only Xander's voice.
Of course, Div. Xander frowned a little, wondering the dragon's ploy, but spread his hands out on the table, palms flat against the surface of the wood.
"Now," said Div in a stern tone, "do you have any questions for me, girl? If I'm not mistaken, we have taken up ten minutes already."
"You did," corrected Buffy. Then she bristled and snapped, "And my name is not 'girl'!"
This time Xander took the initiative and leaned back in his chair with a gesture towards Buffy before he steepled his fingers. Div caught on quickly and coolly stated, "And how am I to know your name when you have not introduced yourself?"
"It's only polite," interrupted the dragon in a smarmy tone.
Buffy opened her mouth to retort then closed it, her teeth snapping together sharply. She took a deep breath then extended one hand across the table as she said, "I'm Buffy Summers."
With that Xander leaned forward and took Buffy's hand, all too aware of Div's presence coiling around his own, effectively shaking her hand himself in his way.
"Now that we have officially met," said Div as they both leaned back, "do you have any questions?"
Almost immediately the Slayer was on the attack, firing questions left and right.
"Do you mean any harm to Xander?"
"Being as he is my bearer, no. I admit at first I was wary of him from my initial brushes with his mind but he has proved to be not only a suitable warrior if given the tools and a noble friend."
Both Div and Xander noted Buffy's wince at his words and the teenager noted, Laying it on a little thick, aren't you?
The girl needs to understand what she has done. Div paused before he continued, I have witnessed your loyalty to her and the others since I have come here and it is something to treasure. You would walk through fire for any of these people you call 'family' without batting an eye and she needs to see that she needs that loyalty.
Xander sat in stunned silent for a moment then asked, You really think that?
Child, one of these days I am going to rid you once and for all of that damnable idea that you are less than you are, growled the dragon. And were I able, I would kill your parents for putting it in your head.
Maim then, conceded the dragon, still unable to comprehend how the teenager could still care about the fate of his parents.
Xander grunted in a vaguely agreeing tone then said, Buffy's about to ask something else.
Div shifted his attention quickly and waited for the girl to ask her next question.
Buffy frowned then asked, "So...how's you end up in the stone thingy? The one Xander has inside him now?"
"What?" exploded the other three occupants of the room and Xander bowed his head even as Div prepared a response.
"Upon death the dragons of Endiness have their souls compacted into stones like the one Xander bears. In the time between the death blow and true death, it is possible to reach inside the dragon to retrieve this stone. These are the Dragoon spirits which allow the humanoid races to use the powers of the dragons."
As Xander lifted his head finally, a pained expression on his face, Div added, "About the...debacle...at the hospital, Xander and I concluded that it would be safer for my stone to be hidden elsewhere. Since it must be in contact with him to work, we came to the decision that it being inside him would be best."
Obediently Xander lifted his shirt to show off the half-circle scar on his torso as the dragon finished, "It was a simple enough operation with some assistance from medical books."
Willow blinked open-mouthed at them both while Giles pulled off his glasses, polishing them and muttering, "Oh dear," under his breath. Joyce then took a step forward and slapped the back of Xander's head sharply, rocking him forward and bringing a startled, "Mom!" out of her daughter.
Wincing, Xander hissed, Damnit, Div, apologize, apologize, before she hits me again!
"Mrs. Summers," said Div quickly as she reared back for what looked like another strike, "please. This would have happened sooner or later anyway."
She narrowed her eyes at them and even the dragon felt a little cowed by the expression on her face. After a moment she leaned down and as Xander leaned back, he felt Div doing the same while coiling more tightly around him.
"That was a stupid thing to do on your own," hissed Joyce. "And if I ever hear about you – either of you – coming up with such a stupid plan again, I will smack you again. Xander could have died from blood loss or worse doing that!"
"I made sure we both knew what needed to be done before we began, Mrs. Summers," assured Div in as calm a voice as he could manage. "And, as I said, one way or another it would have had to be done anyway. It is simply not safe to be carrying around the stone as he was."
The older woman nodded sharply as she leaned back. "I understand that," she said, her tone lightening and growing kinder. "But you remember my words, Div. And if either of you have such a hair-brained idea again, come to one of us for help first."
"Of course," said the dragon to her then nudged Xander to turn back towards Buffy. As he did, he noticed the amused expression on her face and noted pointedly, "I wouldn't laugh."
Immediately her expression fell as she remembered the tough-lashing she had received from her mother as well as the grounding she was still living under. Then, shaking herself, Buffy went back to her questions.
In the end, they went a little over the hour time limit that had been set down and were closing in on the hour and a half mark when Div noticed that Xander's hands were shaking.
I can go to the end of the time, protested the teenager tiredly but the dragon sharply spoke up.
"We have gone on longer than we should have," he said. "Are you satisfied that I am an ally at the least, Buffy?"
Buffy suppressed a shudder at her name coming out in that voice then nodded, saying, "I think so."
Div snorted but stated, "That will do. Then I bid you all farewell until I find need to speak again." He released his hold on the link to Xander's vocal cords and coiled reassuringly around the teenager. You should have warned me that we were getting close to the time.
Was important for Buff to get to know you, replied his bearer tiredly. Xander then pushed himself to his feet and, after wobbling, asked, "Um...can someone drive me home?"
"I will," stated Joyce, firmly intending to take the teen back to her own house to sleep. She wasn't going to let him walk back into that place his parents dared call a home half out of his mind with exhaustion. Glancing at her daughter, she said, "Remember to try and be home before one, Buffy."
The Slayer nodded since even Giles had agreed it was safe enough for her to not patrol as late as she usually did and watched as her mother helped Xander out of the library. She then looked at her Watch and asked, "What do you think?"
Giles shook his head slightly before saying, "I have already heard some of this before via Xander. And while I did have some initial distrust, it has become rather obvious to me that the dragon rather honestly wishes to help."
"He helps us because Xander wants to help us," piped Willow. At their curious looks, she shrugged and added, "We talked a bit after we first did the spell. That's how we found out about the limit." She didn't mention that he had been a disembodied voice then, not speaking through Xander. That had happened a week after the spell's casting and both of them had told her their shared suspicion about stone slowly bonding to him.
No matter how Buffy might come to accept Div, Xander and Willow knew she would never fully accept that. Well...not immediately anyway. Give her time to get to know the dragon and she might be able to wrap her head around the idea.
There was silence between them for a moment then Giles coughed and said, "A very – ah – interesting voice."
Willow choked at that, failing to cover a laugh, and finally gave in to her giggles a moment later. As her Watcher smirked, Buffy gave in to the smile trying to creep across her own face.
Div did seem to honestly want to help so...she'd try and trust him for now.
But he only got one chance.