All characters property of Mutant Enemy, and the WB and any other corporate masters. I don't own them I just put them in fun situations. Archived on Twisting the Hellmouth and FF.net
Summary: YAHF. Xander Harris dresses as a mild mannered reporter with unexpected results.
A/N: Thanks to those who reviewed this! Kind of shocked me to be honest. I'll try to maintain the integrity that you all have hoped for.
Early on the morning of November first, 1998 , just as the night began to flee the coming sunrise in earnest, Xander Harris awoke. Getting out of bed, Xander yawned and began a stretch routine while going over his checklist for the day.Breakfast with Bruce and Diana in Gotham, getting his run in around Metropolis Gardens, Finish that article on cargo cults for “Harpers”, see if Perry had any-
With a start Xander found himself very awake and extremely amused as he realized that he'd been going through Clark's checklist. With a rueful shrug and no small surprise that he was up with the sun, Xander decided to try modifying his possessor's daily schedule to fit his own.
Packing a his bag for school and throwing on some running clothes, Xander looked at what he knew he was capable of and augmented his non-existent morning schedule with Clark's. He'd have to watch for over taxing himself, it's not like he had the strength of a demi god.
Managing to avoid Tony Harris' morning rituals, Xander slipped from his house with a brisk warm up pace to the school track. In the course of fifteen minutes travel, the teen had come to some amusing conclusions.
Clark was a real man, with real problems. Heat vision didn't exactly combat loneliness, and superhero or not, everyone has to pay bills. Even with all of that, there was more that Xander could be doing to get on a better path. Jesse's death and Buffy's arrival had derailed him, turned him into a reactionary and he knew that if he ever wanted to feel like he was more than a sidekick on a teen drama(one that was still in it's early episodes, he bet) he'd have to try and plan further ahead. Xander knew that Clark wasn't a panacea for his woes, but comparing notes against a level headed, accomplished 28 year old was a good start as to the moves he could make. If the Hellmouth was going to stuff all of these memories and skills in his head, he could at least use them as guide to his life.
Arriving at the school track, Xander could see that hitting the books and laying off the twinkies every day might have to be on the junket. He wondered if all of this maturity was going to screw with him in other ways as well. Hell, he might even be able to stop pretending that Willow wasn't an attractive young woman who was rapidly approaching hottie levels.Okay, let's not just crazy yank the band-aid of denial off of life.
The teen thought to himself.
Laughing loudly, Xander started some laps, soaking up the abundant Southern California sunshine.
After making an impromptu stop at Ethan's costume shop and finding it empty, Rupert Giles sat at his desk trying to enjoy a mug of tea and a copy of the Guardian's international edition. Ethan's return into his life had stirred up ugly thoughts and he hoped that a return to regularity and schedule would help calm him down. Despite the cultural canyon that “Ripper” Giles and America stood on opposite sides of, Giles had become rather fond of California and would have no truck with a former mate buggering about in his new home.
Taking controlled deep breaths Giles heard someone sitting down to the table out in the main library. Checking his watch and seeing that classes were still an hour away Giles found himself shocked by the sight of Xander busying himself with fruit and and a notebook.
“Xander? What a-er-surprise. Is there something going on?”
Xander somberly regarded the librarian. “Yes Giles, I'm afraid there is.” Xander dramatically reached into his book bag. “Breakfast.” With a grin, Xander tossed an orange to Giles. “Homework too, but I think I should probably not use a watcher diary as research materials for a report on Death of a Salesman
Giles quirked a smile and left the boy to his work.
Getting back to his paper, Giles reflected that he had never seen Xander actually look like he was enjoying do his homework. Perhaps last night was even more strange than previously thought.
one week later
After the disastrous visit by Billy ”Ford” Fordham had left everyone floored by the former friend's grave mistake , Xander and Willow were having a slightly glum lunch at school.
“Ugh, I can't believe that he thought being a vampire would be cool,” Willow squeaked angrily, “what did he think? Drinking blood while killing innocent people will be great!”
Xander furrowed his brow, lost in memory. Ford has bothered him too, partly because of Buffy's connection with him, but much more so that anyone would sacrifice people just to get ahead. Then after rifling through Clark's memories of Lex Luthor, Xander sadly realized that to some, power was worth whatever price. The criminal businessman had put many innocent lives in danger in the short time that Clark had been Superman, and every situation had almost always been for a minute measure of control over the city.
Xander noticed that Willow had quit ranting and guiltily came out of his thoughts to a questioning look on his increasingly attractive best friends face.
“Uh, sorry Wills,” Xander drawled lamely searching for an excuse, “I was just thinking of all the kids we saved at the club, hoping that they won't get back into that creepo stuff.”
Willow looked pensively at Xander, biting her lip. She had seen him in the library a lot lately. More than just Slayer stuff, she had seen him chatting to Giles about books, taking notes from various things and flirting with Willow and Buffy, which wasn't too weird, except for the fact that Xander was flirting with Willow at all. It just wasn't done as far as she could tell and his frequent periods of deep thought were starting to draw her attention as well.
Xander recognized that Willow was trying to work up to asking him something, but he sighed in relief as the bell rang harshly in the sunny courtyard. Grabbing his books and practically running to class Xander was stopped by Willow's gentle hand on his arm.
“Xander...I think we should talk.”
“About?” Xander tried for casual. He failed.
“You've been acting different and-”
“Ooh, sorry Will, I gotta run. But we'll talk later, okay?” Completely forgetting himself, Xander pulled Willow into a brief hug and kissed her on the forehead.
As he ran to class, thinking of new excuses not to discuss his attitude change, he never even saw the look of total shock and furious blush on Willow's face at the totally unexpected kiss.
a few days later
Swimming laps after the swim team were done with practice, Xander allowed himself to forget about his new way of looking at things, forget about his crappy parents, about his friends, basically he forgot about Sunnydale altogether. When he slipped into the placid water after running (he had begun running twice a day now, anything to avoid home) everything tended to become less important.
It generally did when it was the closest to flying he figured he'd ever get.
Gliding underneath the water, Xander swooped and flowed, feeling serene.
The sense of his and Clark's memories merging never felt as strong as when he was swimming. He'd gotten close by writing, and despite that not being quite the same, Xander had begun to enjoy the writing a great deal. Granted he was drawing off the technical expertise of a man who had won a Hearst Award in College, a National Journalism Award for international human rights reporting, and had been a Pulitzer finalist prior to the time Xander had been possessed by Clark. It wasn't like Xander wasn't playing with a bit of loaded deck, the teen mused wryly as he entered into his final set of laps. That was a curiosity to the teen as well, why had he retained so much of Clark? Everyone else's costume memories seemed to have faded within days, heck, even Willow had quit curiously poking at walls by November third. Xander though....he could feel Clark in there.
Well, “in there” was an improper way of describing it. Xander simply remembered Clark's life vividly, almost as if he had been there. Or seen it all first person, at least. He'd started keeping a journal, noting what he could draw up offhand, of the Kansas, then Metropolis, residents life. He had been going through all of Jesse's comics, reading all of the Superman and DC universe ones, trying to see if any were close to the “real” thing. The Clark who had been in Xander's body had only been suiting up for three years at the time of possession, and while he was very iconic and had been credited with setting off what was referred to as the “Modern Age” of superheros, he was hardly a legend.
The suit had been the biggest difference that Xander had noted. Clark's suit had been created by the fortress computers, designed by Clark and Martha over the course of a month. Johnathan had encouraged his adopted son to eschew the idea of a mask, agreeing with Clark that people could trust an uncovered face. They had all been terrified of people recognizing Clark, but when he had passionately argued that security or no, the world need him, his parents had been so proud and knew that he was right.
Xander had been impressed with the ingenuity of the suits triggering mechanism after he had racked his brain understanding Kryptonian technology. Clark had two rectangular patches of a clear nano-crystal weave that were about twelve microns thick, which he wore across his lower stomach and back. When he applied a few thousand tons of force to both pads simultaneously, the weave would activate and convert whatever clothes Clark was wearing into his uniform.
As Xander hit the locker room to clean up, he grinned at the memory of the first time he'd activated the weave in his parents kitchen. The sensation of his clothes reforming had been almost chilly, reminiscent of interfacing with the Fortress the first time. While Clark hadn't “felt” cold in years, the sensation was like rivulets of cool water rushing over his skin. The dark blues with the gold on red “S-shield” were much different from pop culture, and the belt and underwear on the outside were gone as well. Xander remembered the collar on the suit as well, which hadn't been in any drawings that he'd seen in his universe. Well, yet at least. The gasp from his parents had been so rewarding, the awe in their faces at their Clark transformed.....
A week already and Xander barely noticed when he interchanged when he thought of Clark as himself or vice-versa. What's more, the teen probably wouldn't have cared had anyone been able to point it out.
Xander headed to the library to catch the last 20 minutes of Buffy's training session. The girls and he were going to the Bronze for some downtime after they finished their homework and he wanted to get a head start on his so he could get some writing down while Buffy and Willow got ready. Plus watching Buffy beat up Giles while wearing tight workout clothes was always good imagery.
Buffy watched Xander dancing at the Bronze that night with Willow. Her best guy friend was currently making Willow blush and other girls were giving him appreciative glances as the teen played out on the dance floor.
It was beginning to bug her.
While Buffy had pretty firmly ignored Xander for awhile now, and she frowned guiltily as she remembered using him badly when she had gotten back after last summer, the Slayer still had a strange proprietary interest in Xander. He belonged to her and Willow, bellowed the alpha Slayer in her, and she'd be damned if she could understand her Xander shaped friend as of late.
She'd seen him at her training sessions over the past week and a half and Buffy felt as if he was much more....observant? Attentive? He'd been taking notes, sometimes when Giles spoke, other times from textbooks, and other times just from various books that came from parts of the library she didn't think she and Xander had ever known existed. She'd caught him wearing his glasses from Halloween a few days back, when she called him on it, he just laughed it off and said that they helped him focus his chi.
Buffy had heard the cheerleaders starting to talk about “Dorkwad Harris” in a more favorable light as well, which had raised her hackles. The two short weeks of running and swimming she found out that he'd been doing had started to tone the boy nicely.....Buffy's mind started to wander as she remembered yesterday when he was changing from his school clothes into his workout clothes in Giles' office, and hadn't seen her see him. Xander was already pretty okay before working out, the swimming and running could only help and was starting to show a well built, un-bulgy, kind of muscled body that Buffy had always liked. Plus he'd been talking about getting into rope yoga and that just confused the hell out the little blond. Since when did he do yoga? She could only imagine what that would do for his butt....
Okay, she had to stop thinking about him like that. She loved Angel! She did too, and she'd seen Angel without his shirt on recently and his pale cool flesh had almost glowed in the dim light of his little apartment....
Let's just leave Buffy there, shall we?
Two and a half weeks later, Thanksgiving night, Sunnydale
Angel prowled the streets of Sunnydale, covering for Buffy while she enjoyed Dinner with her Mom. He was glad that he had the opportunity for a solo patrol, he still felt restless from the whole experience with Eyghon.
Xander had caught the reference to the demon inhabiting the nearest unconscious body minutes after the the briefly possessed Jenny Calender had been escorted from the school by Giles Willow had combined that with the realization that a vampire body was the dead body half of the criteria that Eyghon needed to inhabit something and the group had managed to form a plan that had saved Giles and Jenny a lot of grief.
Of course the immediate physical exhaustion from Eyghon had been a tea party compared to what Spike and Dru had subjected the ensouled vampire to a week later. The whole process combined with the shock of Kendra's existence as another Slayer had really put one over on the Slayer and her friends, Angel was grateful for the holiday so as they could all get some rest.
Angel had noticed that a change had come over the group lately, he felt as if he were missing something, but every time he thought he might pin down the elusive feeling, it shot off into the dark once more. Intuition wanted to point at Xander, but Angel resisted that line of thought. Yes, the boy seemed more focused lately, Angel had noticed that Xander's humor tempered with bitterness had started to fade over the past month. Quietly, it had been replaced by a calm kind of humor, full of dry wit combined with some more of the standard lascivious jokes teenagers are capable of. The boy definitely had a lot going on behind his glasses, that was for sure.
Another thing Angel noticed was the way the air changed whenever the teen came into the room. It was hard to describe, but Angel knew he recognized it somehow, and it bothered him that it was just out of reach.
Deep in thought, Angel moved to the rooftops as he entered the downtown area, only to see a pack of vampires moving north towards the Serene Heart Cemetery, creeping stealthily with dark purpose.
Moving swiftly through the cooler than average night, Angel beat the pack to the cemetery, only to find a scuffle in progress.
Four vamp had already attacked a figure, the fight looking like a brutal dance. Angel watched for an opening, trying to rescue the young man before the reinforcements arrived but was getting caught up in the spectacle. One vamp exploded into a cloud of dust as a whittled axe handle stake punched through the undead chest, the tactless fighter making up where he lacked with a violent temper.
Angel finally dove in after an agonizing few seconds and managed to dust another vamp while kicking a third into the “victims” stake. As the fourth vampire pulled back and joined the newly arrived pack of six, both parties regrouped. Angel took a moment to get a better look at his fighting partner and felt his dinner of pig's blood run cold as he realized that Buffy was going to kill him for letting Xander get into this mess.
“Well, well boys, looks like we'll be giving thanks tonight. Who wants to say grace?” a vamp dressed in Biking leathers drawled at the sight of a tired Xander.
“Careful Leo, the kids got a friend,” the remaining member of the first group called out nervously.
Leo sneered. “What? The pretty boy? Nah, I heard that his fangs got pulled a long time ago.”
Xander and Angel smirked at each other, Xander grimacing at the stitch in his side.
“Well Angel, looks like I'm getting some turkeys tonight after all,” the teen joked while coughing from the beating he'd been taking, Angel couldn't smell any blood though so he counted their blessings.
“Stay close to me Xander, I'm not going to have Willow and Buffy tie me to a picture window just because I let you get dead.”
“Aww, but the girls look so good in black...don't tell me you haven't pictured it before.” Xander mused just as he impulsively dove in to the two vamps on the right of the group.
Angel rolled his eyes. Youth really was wasted on the young.
The fight reached a fever pitch within seconds. Angel kept getting flashes of Xander but he was dealing with four relatively experienced vamps of his own. Blocking a telegraphed punch got Angel a rib cracking knee to the side, which he repaid by snapping the offenders neck so hard that the vamp dusted on the heads first three-sixty. Kicking at “Leo's” knee resulted in a satisfying snap which was followed by some short agonized screams, as Angel wasted no time staking the vampire biker.
When Angel spun around to find where Xander was his face fell in horror.
Xander Harris was having a bad night.
His parents were hosting a traditional family thanksgiving which meant a lot of family classics. Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Jose, Bud Light...ugh. The memories of each awful year after year screaming matches had done little to make tonights disaster any better. By 7:30 Tony and Jessica had gone through a case and were opening up the hard stuff, much to Uncle Rory's delight. By 8:30 Xander had fled the house, shame and anger at his parents awful accusations ringing in Xander's ears. Clark's memories hadn't helped much, images of Clark and his parents joining up with the Ross family at the Lang household where the three families would laugh and spin wild tales of past holidays. “Thanksgiving was for friends and neighbors,” Pa had always said. Xander could only see those days as the best days of a life he'd never lived and in the din of his own home, it had been a knife in his heart. On top of that, Xander had started to give up his dreams of somehow following in his possessors footsteps, his heart aching at the thought of never getting to be free of gravity ever again.
He knew that being out late was asking for a fight, but no matter the change brought on by Halloween, Xander was still a boy who'd suffered 16 years of various abuses and no one who's been through such things can be expected to control their anger logically when dealing with raging hormones.
He'd seen a vamp near the north gate of the Cemetery and had trailed it through the graveyard until one accidentally turned into four. After one of them screamed into a walkie-talkie for the rest of his friends, Xander knew the night had gone from bad to infinitely worse. Angel showing up had been an onyx ray of sunshine though. While Xander was still wrestling with his “Vampires can be people” issues, Angel's more than passing similarity to Bruce Wayne (especially when brooding) always gave Xander a smile.
Clark's memories revealed that early on in Clark and Bruce working together, there had been an incident with a dimensional tear known as The Bleed with a “mirror darkly” group of superhumans who called themselves the Authority. At first Superman and Batman had been baffled by how well Apollo and The Midnighter worked together, until the “special” nature of their relationship had been revealed. The four had laughed hard over some misconceptions and though Bruce and Clark definitely
didn't feel the same way, they resolved that a trust based friendship could help with their synchronization as a fighting team.
Years later, Diana would still tease the two of them about their “hidden love” and lamented that she couldn't get between them, that was of course until Bruce showed her his Bat cave. Clark had firmly requested no details from either, but had been happy that the strange on again, off again, relationship made his friends happy.
But all of this happy bullshit was kind of moot as Xander had just gone two minutes into round two before two vamps clamped down on his shoulders with their fangs.
Angel's demon side began howling like an air raid siren when the scent of Xander's blood filled the air. Angel kept himself in check, but finally realized why the air changed when Xander was around. The boy smelled like he had Summer in his veins. The four remaining vampires had gone berserk as the smell of sunlight and fresh clean air filled their senses. Sunlight far more pure than they ever remembered before they began their endless night, to be sure. Angel swayed weakly before coming to his senses and scrambled towards Xander as the two leeches convulsed in an orgiastic fit of ecstasy at the taste of the teens blood. The two remaining vamps actually attacked their brethren and fed off of their friends their blood lust was so great. Angel helped Xander to his feet as they both watched the bizarre sight of four vampires simultaneously blissing out and fighting each other like rabid dogs.
Then things got really weird.
The vamps were moaning in joy, when without warning, they all began screaming horribly. Angel could see their fangs blacken and crumble and their eyes started to glow from within.
Xander couldn't believe his eyes when the screaming vamps just exploded into nothing after drinking his blood. Much more than a staking, there was no discernible point of dusting, they were just smoking from the mouth, then they were gone, almost no ashes or dust to be seen on the wind.
Darkness curled at the edges of his vision and the last thing he heard before passing out from blood loss was Angel's almost scared voice whisper.
“What are you?”
TBC......A/N 2: Thanks for reading, this chapter was really hard for some reason. I had to rewrite it twice and it was only after I finished an outline for this first arc that I found my excitement again. I figure that this first arc will be 7 or 8 chapters of similar length, just for a heads up. I'm hoping to update at least bi-weekly, if not more. Thanks for stopping by.