Episode 21: Cleaning Up
Episode 21: Cleaning Up!
by 3D Master (firstname.lastname@example.org)
web site: http://members.chello.nl/~jg.temolder1/
Disclaimer see episode 1
A large amount of the blast had been absorbed by Earth’s magnetic field, but nowhere near all of it. The shockwave, releasing a little bit of the atmosphere from the grasp of Earth’s gravity, blasted past the three girls and the Asian man. All of them hoped their shields held. The jets a little further below were heavily jostled. Even with their eyes closed, turned away from the blast and covered with their arms, the blinding flash still left them unable to see. Once the flash had gone, the three girls and an Asian man uncovered and opened their eyes again. They turned around to look up, and as they waited for their vision to return, they hoped nothing of the asteroid would come straight at them.
After about half a minute their vision returned and they looked at the asteroid, or what was left of it. There was an orange burning glow surrounding center of the remains of the rock. A glow that quickly receded as the lack of oxygen extinguished all the fires and the freezing space cooled the rock down. Most of the asteroid had been vaporized, the rest was reduced to pieces, which came rushing toward the planet, most of it straight down, because the explosion had not changed their course. About eight times the amount of debris was left as there was with the first asteroid, and a few pieces much bigger than any of the debris the first had produced, it still had the potential to destroy a whole lot, if not everything on the planet.
“I guess we have another round of clean up to look forward to,” Faith announced as tears still ran down her cheeks. She wiped them off and hardened herself. Those things needed to be stopped or a whole continental plane was going to be leveled with the ground.
Buffy stopped looking up and started looking down, until she spotted Xander falling downward. Faith noticed and said, “Buffy, stay focused. We have to stop those things.” Faith spotted the first rock and blasted it away.
Buffy was in indecision only for a moment, then she started moving downward, and Faith grabbed her around the waist tightly, “Buffy, we need you up here.” Their voices were slightly muffled by their oxygen masks.
“Let me go!” Buffy said struggling against the tight grip, desperately flailing her arms around in an attempt to break free.
“Buffy!” Faith called out loud, hoping to calm down her fellow slayer. “These rocks need to be stopped.”
“Shut up, you cold bitch, Xander needs help!” Buffy screamed with tears in her eyes.
“Damn it, B! Xander’s made his choice, he’s beyond help. Don’t let his sacrifice be for nothing!” Faith called tightening her grip, hoping the older slayer would listen to reason.
“LET ME GO!” Buffy screamed, as her left elbow found Faith’s left cheek. Faith reeling back was all Buffy needed to rip free and fly downward, her chi flame bursting into existence.
“Damn her!” Faith said following Buffy with her eyes for a moment. She looked to her right and noticed Dawn looking down at Buffy with indecision, tears leaking from her eyes. “Dawn, stay here, you hear me!” Behind her, Faith heard the Asian destroy his own first piece of rock. Dawn shifted her gaze to the dark-haired slayer. “We need you here more than ever!” Faith stated, with all the pleading she could muster into the command. “If they are allowed to spread out, the devastation will be unimaginable!”
Dawn looked at Faith for a moment, and then nodded determined, slowly stopping her crying, “Right. Let’s do this.”
Buffy soared toward Xander. The tears that left her face seemed to be moving upward, as she moved much faster than the tears. Irritated by the oxygen mask and the flask on her back, she quickly removed them, and threw them aside. Finally she reached the limp form of Xander Littica. She wrapped her arm around him gently, and then blasted downward with even greater speed. Her face in a grimace, filled with grief and determination. To her horror she felt Xander’s body receive a powerful shock at the acceleration, and a weak, almost inaudible moaning coming from his mouth. Normally it wouldn’t have done anything to him, but she was certain she had at least bruised one of his ribs. Strangely as she studied him, he didn’t seem to have any wounds on him, he was just weak. Xander slowly opened his eyes.
“What . . . you doing, Buff?” he said. Buffy could hear the strain in his voice. She realized just talking brought him closer to death. His voice was so low, she was certain that if she didn’t have slayer-enhanced hearing, she wouldn’t have been able to hear him.
“Saving your life,” Buffy answered him, biting her lip as she pushed all her energy into flying down.
“There’s no life left to save, Buffy,” Xander’s almost nonexistent voice said. “Don’t you get that? I’ve used up all my energy, there’s nothing left, not enough to survive. Fifteen minutes - half an hour and I will be dead.”
“I will not let you die,” Buffy said forcibly. “I won’t.”
Xander looked at his friend, seeing tears stream across her cheeks. “Buffy, let me go. Please, you have to save the lives of the people in this city and the surrounding area. Your sister needs you up there.”
“NO! Dawn can take care of herself, you’ve seen to that,” Buffy yelled out loud, as the Earth came closer and closer. “Listen, Xander; we need you alive. I need you alive. When I first saw you fight Glory, I was in denial. I thought I was still the strongest, while I knew I never was. I’m weak. I’m a cheerleader, Xander; a cheerleader who was handed the fate of the world, and messed it up so many times, without you guys backing me there wouldn’t be an Earth anymore . . .”
“That makes you strong, knowing your limitation, and getting help,” Xander barely more than whispered. “If somebody else had been chosen, they probably would have messed up worse. Please let me go. Help them.”
Buffy seemed to break down and cry harder, and told her best friend, “That’s not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about exactly what you’re saying. I didn’t know my limitations, I began to think all the propaganda, ‘best slayer ever, lasted the longest’, blah, blah. I was starting to think myself above you guys, that I was somehow better than you, and I’ve acted like it. The people who’ve kept me alive and saved the world along my side, and I neglected you, Willow, all of you. I even threatened to kill you, if you tried to kill Dawn and save the world in the process. Even if you didn’t have super powers, Xand, you kept me alive. You never used them to defend me, to save my life, and help save the world, and I pushed you aside, barely acknowledging you. I’m stupid.” They reached the first buildings, and Buffy slowed down as fast as she dared, with Xander’s fragile form in her arms, then turned to a horizontal direction, looking out for a hospital.
“Don’t . . . blame . . . yourself . . . Buff,” Xander said again, straining more and more. “I didn’t . . . want . . . to . . . be seen . . . protecting secret . . . and all. . . I could have easily . . .”
“Shut up!” Buffy screamed almost hysterically, hearing Xander straining himself, and fully realizing how much of his energy really was depleted, and how quickly it would be gone if he kept talking. “Don’t say a damn thing anymore, it’s killing you. The point is, that if you really were a normal human without super powers, who couldn’t push himself more to the front, I would have acted the same way, neglecting all of you. Where the hell would that have lead to? So shut up, and let me save your life. I will not let you die, I WILL NOT!”
Xander sighed and closed his eyes. Buffy didn’t want to listen, which meant he went to focus all his power on surviving, no matter how little he had left, or how impossible it was. After all, he had promised Anya that if there was anything he could do about it he would live, it seemed Buffy was determined to make sure that he was going to have something to say about it, and he had never broken a promise before; he wasn’t about to start now.
Buffy was glad Xander had stopped talking, she had seen how every word brought him a giant step closer to death, and she couldn’t bear his death. Flying through the maze of buildings for three minutes finally allowed her to find what she had been looking for: a hospital. Quickly descending down to the emergency room entrance, she yelled at one of the doctors while she was still in the air. “You! You have to save him!” Buffy yelled, landing as rapidly as she dared, holding her fragile cargo.
The young doctor looked up and his eyes widened as he saw a girl holding a young man in a tight embrace, yelling at him to save him, whoever him was. For a moment he was stunned then training and instinct took over and he gestured for a stretcher that was quickly wheeled out. Next to him an ambulance was unloading a female, who was harmed by debris falling as a result of the first shockwave. The girl placed her passenger on a stretcher and then yelled at him, “Save his life, do you hear me!? DO NOT LET HIM DIE! If he dies, I will level this hospital with the ground!” The doctor looked into Buffy’s eyes and he reeled back, those eyes were set to the breaking point. He wouldn’t be surprised that if he had to tell her, her friend - lover? - had died that she would snap like a twig and carry out her threat. “I think I have bruised or broken a few ribs getting him here, he doesn’t have any other physical injuries, but he’s out of energy. He used up all his life force to blow away the asteroid, save him. Please, save him, and oh, he’s not human, he’s an alien, so don’t go cutting into him without checking you can!”
He saw her squeeze his left upper arm and whisper, “I love you.” He was about to protest her ridiculous claims, until she blasted upward into the air, a visible white, flame-like shape around her. Moments later a blue, see-through dome - that looked somewhat like a force field out of scifi seemed to cover the hospital - at which point he admonished himself, that compared to seeing that with his own eyes, her claims of the man being an alien were quite mild. Xander was rapidly wheeled into the hospital.
Buffy flew to just over the hospital and generated a chi shield around it. She was determined as she flew higher into the sky. She was going to protect the hospital Xander was treated in, and also take out any and all rocks that would crash elsewhere into the city. She blasted rocks away as she rose to about a hundred meters high, where she furiously started destroying the bigger rocks around her. She fired energy balls left and right as she twisted around, and back and forth, destroying the occasional rock with her hands or feet. Her face was contorted in a grimace as she fought there to protect Xander’s and other people’s lives.
Higher still the two girls and Asian man were desperate with their own struggle with the remnants of the asteroid. The Asian, however, was nowhere near as effective as either Dawn or Faith. The two girls made use of the advantages they had; which mostly consisted of training under multiple times Earth gravity. Faith furiously blasted away bigger and smaller rocks, focusing on bigger and really big pieces. Two exploding destructo disc finished off another very large meteorite.
Dawn looked down for a moment, and suddenly called out, “Faith!” Faith turned to look and Dawn pointed downward. Faith looked down and saw gleaming planes and helicopters flying everywhere, all destroying their share of rocks. Further outward across the US, other planes were doing the same to pieces that were moving sharply outward, away from the center. It was rather obvious the three of them were far more effective than a plane or helicopter, high maneuverability, coupled with speed being the deciding factors.
Faith punched her fist through a smaller rock, which promptly shattered, and she observed, “The military. So what?”
“NO! Further down!” Dawn exclaimed with irritation.
Faith looked down and extended her senses. Buffy was down there, and now that she looked closer she saw flashes move in different directions all originating with the blonde slayer, and promptly exploding and wiping out a rock.
“Hey!” Faith called out with a powerful voice. She patted Dawn on her shoulder and told her with a broad smile. “Well, done.” Dawn beamed with pride before continuing with the next rock.
As Faith continued with destroying rocks, she told the Asian who had turned to regard her, “With Buffy and the military between us and Dallas, focus on rocks that move outward!! The more we contain the impacts in a small area the less people will die!” He gave her a thumbs-up and promptly moved off toward more outward moving meteorites. Faith and Dawn did the same after that, moving more toward the edges of the meteorite rain.
“I can’t believe this,” Xander’s young doctor, Dr. Millbank, said, looking at the test results. He walked around the small room preserved for looking at test results. “There is no energy left - electrons, electromagnetic currents, neurons, all virtually non-existent. He won’t survive this much longer.”
“This is a lost cause,” a fellow doctor told him.
“There’s got to be something,” Millbank said in frustration, “There’s got to be.”
“Like what?” his companion asked again. “We don’t know of anything that could suck out all the energy out of someone like that, how do you propose we put energy back in?”
“I don’t know, but if we don’t . . .” he answered, thinking thinks over before continuing. “That girl was running on empty.” Millbank pointed to his head, “Up here I mean, if he dies, I’m afraid she’ll snap and without thinking about it, make her threat of blowing this hospital up a reality.”
The other doctor blinked but stayed silent.
“Think,” Millbank thought in irritation, even as he read through another patients report. “He’s missing electromagnetic energy, so how do we . . .” Millbank looked up, his eyes widening in revelation. “Please tell me there is somebody close by who can modify the MRI scanner?”
“MR . . .? What?! You don’t actually think that’s going to work do you?!” the doctor asked in disbelief.
“It can’t hurt to try!” Millbank counter and sped out of the office.
“ICS Medical Services are pretty close by,” the other doctor answered him perplexed.
Millbank raced out, as he told his colleague, “Get them here.”
Ten minutes later in the MRI scanner room.
“You want me to do WHAT!?” the engineer asked in shock.
“I want you to boost its output, and change the magnetic field’s frequency to that of human cells,” Millbank repeated hastily.
“I heard you the first time! Do you have any idea, what it takes to do that? Rip open the whole machine, I don’t think the management or your bookkeeper would like that very much,” the engineer argued.
“Just do it!” Millbank almost yelled, and looked as Xander was wheeled in, his ribs bandaged. “You see that guy?” Millbank asked in irritation. “I’m pretty damn sure he’s the one who saved the world by blowing up the asteroid . . . twice, the girl flying outside, that created the shield you passed through, brought him here. She also said she’d level the hospital with the ground if he died, and from what I saw, she’ll keep her word.”
“In that case, I’ll get right on it,” the engineer said, and started ripping open the piece of equipment that was worth over a million dollars.
Millbank ran to the other side of the room and passed through the door and into the room with the protective glass. Impatiently he, his colleague, and a nurse waited, seeing Xander’s vital signs drop steadily. “How long!?” he called out loud with frustration.
“Exactly how much it needs,” the engineer answered with irritation, as he continued with his improvised hack and slash modification. Finally after another three minutes he announced, “Done!”
Millbank gestured, and Xander was wheeled further into the room. As the nurses placed him on the table of the MRI scanner, the engineer came to join them in the protective room. Once the nurses had filed out, Millbank looked anxiously at the vital signs monitor that was practically at zero, and said, “All right, crank it up.”
The engineer himself operated the machinery and the table wheeled into the circular tube. Than the innards of the tube started to glow. “Anything?” Millbank asked.
“No,” his colleague answered him.
Millbank sighed, “Let’s wait a while, perhaps it takes some time before a change is visible.” They waited. They waited one minute. They waited two minutes, still nothing.
“I guess this isn’t going to work,” Millbank’s colleague observed. “He’s beyond help.” Millbank lowered his head.
Suddenly he lighted up, his right index-finger in the air with revelation, and said, “He’s not human!” The two men and the nurses looked at him as if he had gone mad. “That’s what she said, he’s not human. We’ve only done the test needed to detect his energy level as she told me what was wrong with him, not his insides or his genetic structure. Change the frequency, fiddle with it.”
“Fiddle!?” the engineer answered dumbfounded. “You want me to fiddle with a multi-million dollar precision instrument!?”
“Yeah, he’s so like us, we don’t see a difference on the outside and which made me forget the girl’s words in the first place. The frequency of his cells can’t be too much different,” Millbank explained eagerly and then nudged the engineer who shook his head as he walked back into the scanner room. He went for the opening he had broken into the scanner, knelt down and began to ‘fiddle’, muttering profanities under his breath.
After a few moments of slowly shifting the frequencies, by messing with the wiring and other hardware, that no human hand should really have touched, he suddenly heard a yell of triumph.
Millbank and his colleague had been looking at the vital signs screen, until suddenly the erratic readings had reacted. He screamed out, the others soon following his example. Then the readings dropped off again. When the engineer turned to look at him, Millbank motioned to go back. The engineer did, and moments later the vital signs reacted again. Just in time Millbank got the engineer to stop whatever he was doing.
“Incredible,” Millbank’s colleague said, as he watched Xander’s heart rate steady, the EEG becoming less irregular. Millbank grinned, and for a moment looked at Xander’s body through the window. His face twisted into surprise, and nudged his colleague, who looked as well. Once in a while an electric spark sizzled around Xander’s body. “How do you suppose to explain all this?” his colleague asked.
Millbank mulled it over for a moment, then shrugged, “In quantum mechanics particles can appear out of nowhere, and disappear the same way. His body is out of balance, no energy where there should be. Energy is simply poring into where it there should be, like water always falling down a waterfall, not up.”
His colleague nodded thoughtfully, “Yeah, I know this guy ain’t human, but . . . it kind of makes you wonder about what secrets still lie inside the human body.”
Millbank nodded again.
It took hours before they had finally destroyed all of the larger debris. The smaller debris, however, that they couldn’t stop did enough damage. In the night sky, the fires and smoke around the city made an eery sight. None of them bothered with helping out in the devastated city, as they had done in Oklahoma. They had more important things to do; the Asian flew back to Tibet, having a long flight ahead of him, and the Slayers and former key had to check up on Xander.
Faith and Dawn reached Buffy still hovering in the air, as the blonde lowered her shield. It had been quite a strain, lowering and raising the shield whenever someone had to get into the building, but she had managed. Now joined together again, the three girls lowered themselves to the ground. For a moment they stood silently, Faith and Dawn looking at Buffy questioningly, none dared to extend their senses, for fear of what they would find. Buffy finally started walking into the hospital, Faith and Dawn followed.
Once inside, the three looked around at the overcrowded place. Doctors, nurses, patients everywhere. Buffy looked around with a sad look, until she spotted the guy she had entrusted Xander to. He was busy with surgery on one of the many patients in the emergency room. Buffy quickly went over to him and demanded, “Well?”
Millbank looked up, slightly startled, and looked at the blonde, and saw the desperation in her eyes. He turned back to his one-man surgery, everybody else was busy with their own patients. He had only one nurse for support and she was currently away getting some warm water. “Excuse me, if I don’t look directly at you,” he started with a face full of concentration. “He’s alive, although I have no idea if it stays that way. We had to bombard him with giant amounts of electro-magnetic energy. It might have bad repercussions, we just don’t know, we’ve never done anything like it. We stopped the moment his cells had absorbed enough for him to survive on his own. However he will require lots of rest before he can get to full strength. He’s in . . .” He pauzed for a moment as Dawn ran off, jumping and zigzagging around patients, faster than the fastest Olympic runner. The moment Dawn had heard Xander was still alive, and would probably stay that way, she no longer kept her senses back. “ . . . room 121,” Millbank finished and watched the other two bolt off after their younger friend.
Dawn rapidly came closer to Xander’s position, her eyes watering. She was glad he was alive, but also concerned. This didn’t feel like Xander. He was so . . . weak. She was used to a very different Xander. When he was transformed into a Super Saiyan, it was like being dragged around in a tornado, one of energy instead of wind. Even without his transformation he always felt like a sun all of his own. But now, he was nearly non-existent. She turned right and bolted into a room. She looked around, patients lying on beds, and on the floor in sleeping bags. Finally she spotted Xander, lying on one of the four beds to the left and quickly jumped to him. She flung herself on the bed, wrapping her arms around his neck and breaking down in sobs, she laid there, repeating a mantra softly. “You’re alive, you’re alive, you’re alive, you’re alive.”
Xander forced himself awake after feeling Dawn cling to him. He slowly opened his eyes and looked a the young girl still repeating her mantra. “Yep, alive,” Xander whispered to her as he pulled out his right hand and gently laid it around her head and shoulders. Dawn looked up with wide tearful eyes and then smiled at him, digging herself back into his shoulder. At that moment Buffy appeared in the doorway to the room, and then bolted to Xander’s other side. She too climbed on the bed and wrapped her arms around him in a fierce hug.
Buffy whispered, “You’re alive, you really are alive.”
“I already got the heads up from Miss Keyness here,” Xander quipped weakly. “But Buff, you don’t need to squeeze me to death. Slayer strength and no energy and all.”
He felt Buffy loosen up her grip and she murmured, “Sorry.” Xander placed his remaining arm around Buffy’s shoulders.
Faith walked in and stopped at the foot end of Xander’s bed, looking directly at him with a big beaming smile.
“Please do not jump on the bed and hug me too, Faith,” Xander told her, bemused. “I wouldn’t survive.”
“Don’t worry, Xander,” Faith answered grinning. “I’m not the hugging type, I’m more the ‘fuck your brains out’-type.”
“So is Anya - says something about my taste in women, doesn’t it?” Xander joked with a grin. “Speaking of Anya, can we get out of here?”
“They say you should rest,” Buffy told him with concern.
Xander grinned, as he slowly got up, the two girls in his arms quickly got up and helped him out. “You got enough energy left to fly back home?” Xander asked, although it was more a statement. The girls nodded. “Well, then, you can carry me, can’t you?”
“I guess,” Buffy answered, looking from Dawn to Faith with a little uncertainty.
“Good, than hand me my gi,” Xander told them.
Several minutes later the four of them reached the front desk. Xander looked around the crowded hall. Just like all the rooms and the hallways between his room and here, it had victims of the asteroid lying in many places. “I’m getting out of here,” he told the nurse behind the desk. The nurse, who was only busy with relegating patients and doctors to the right places to be - checking insurance and money had gone out the door the moment this all started - looked up at him and his three companions. She recoiled for a moment, recognizing them instantly, it was hard not to, with one of them hanging outside the hospital and generating a protective shield that had kept the hospital from being damaged, which had made this hospital the most crowded in the city, and the male his own celebrity as a medical mystery.
“You were ordered extensive bed rest,” the nurse said hastily.
“Yes, but I prefer to get that bed rest at home, in the arms of my fiancee,” Xander said calmly, supporting himself on the counter.
“Right, thanks for telling. Goodbye then,” the nurse answered and returned to her computer, picking up another ringing phone.
“No discharge papers?” Buffy asked a little perplexed.
Without missing a word on the phone, the woman gestured around the hall. They understood, too many to sign them all in or out. They were about to leave, when Dawn’s gaze fell upon the television screen hanging in the corner, showing a news program.
They watched for a few moments as a General on it answered questions. “At the moment the death toll is two million and rising. We’re estimating before this is over it will be about five million in the US alone. These are casualties as a direct consequence of the asteroid crash.”
“Sir,” a reporter began. “The blast that finally destroyed the asteroid, where did it come from?”
“Five nuclear bombs and an experimental weapon system,” the general answered, smiling friendly. “It’s classified, and by no means ready to be taken out there. Today’s premature use, born out of desperation showed that quite remarkably. It’s destroyed, it overloaded. Still many flaws in there, it’ll take a few decades before it can be used for real, on a regular basis.” The general gestured toward another reporter.
“Man,” Faith said angrily. “Now there’s a load o’ bull, if I ever heard any.”
Xander grinned. “Good,” he said, supporting himself on Buffy and nudged her to walk out the hospital. The others followed.
After another question, the General continued, “Relief efforts, money, food, drink, and water are coming from all over the world. Most notably from Europe, but then, they have the most to spare.”
Once outside Dawn asked, not understanding, “Why? We’re heroes, we saved the world for all to see. Shouldn’t we be at least acknowledged, if not praised and celebrated?”
“No,” Xander said, looking up into the night sky, feeling desolate at the infernal vision he saw. “Tourists and fans coming to look for us would only endanger them and get in our way, while we fight demons and gods.”
They stayed silent for a few moments, and then Dawn nodded, understanding. Then the three girls blasted off, Buffy carrying Xander along.
Their reunion had been emotional to say the least. After that, Xander had slept for two days straight, only getting up for bathroom breaks and meals. Anya had never seen Xander eat so much, he positively gorged everything away. The first day he had even asked whether she had more after he had finished everything she had made. When she noticed he seemed quite strong and healthy, he woke up this new day, she had ridden him to a mutually satisfactory sexual peak. After breakfast he had left for Buffy’s house. Buffy had opened the door. Then greeting the two witches, and their teacher, he pulled Buffy up the stairs.
Once inside her room, he said, “Damn it, Buffy!? Why did you do that!?”
Buffy looked as if she got a fist in her face. Her face was pale and her eyes were watering, as she answered, “W-w-what? Save your life?”
Xander looked at her angry, “You shouldn’t have done it, damn it!”
“B-but . . .” Buffy answered, a tear forming as she looked in Xander’s angry face. How could he be angry at her for saving his life? “I couldn’t let you die . . . I-I just couldn’t.”
“You got lucky, Buffy,” Xander said calmly, but still angry. “The number of deaths haven’t been that much more than if you had stayed up there with Faith and Dawn. But if you weren’t so lucky, you could have killed tens of millions of people with your stunt, you and me included.”
Tears leaked down her face, and Buffy said, “I’m sorry.”
“You’ve got to toughen up, Buff,” Xander said roughly. “This time you got lucky, the next time you try to save a life at all costs, it may cost you the world, and that means whoever you tried to save will be as dead as everyone else. You can’t go on a whim anymore, we’re at war; whims will get us killed.” Buffy sat down heavily on her bead, unable to keep in her tears. She didn’t understand. How could everything be so different? Xander wasn’t supposed to . . . She was supposed to . . . Xander sat down next to Buffy gently and slung an arm around her shoulder, pulling her into his chest. Xander told her gently, “Don’t get me wrong, I like being alive and I’m grateful to you for saving my life, and thank you for that, but . . . you made a tactical error in judgement, a giant one. You have to start looking at the big picture, Buff.”
“I w-will t-try . . .” Buffy answered, sobbing. “I just c-couldn’t . . . couldn’t l-let you die. I d-don’t k-know what . . . I’d d-do without you.”
“Hey,” Xander said hoarsely. He really hated seeing her like that. He lifted her chin up with his index finger and told her, “You’re still my hero, so dry those tears will you?” Buffy nodded and started drying her tears. “Just don’t worry.” Xander gave her a tight hug, before continuing, “I’ll help you, teach you, you’ll be the best.” Buffy managed a weak smile, as he gave her a kiss on her forehead.
That same time
Faith was bored. She sat on the couch in the hotel’s lobby doing nothing. The others had all gone out, and had left her here. For a moment she considered going up into the gravity gym, but decided against it, for once not feeling like doing some quality violence. She had started training the others in the use of their chi, Angel was coming along quite nicely, Gunn and Wesley too, even though they were quite a bit slower. Cordelia had her own personal trainer, a three-hour drive away. Fred and Lorne obviously weren’t fighters, and thus weren’t training.
The last few weeks had gone pretty well, she thought. Wesley and Cordelia had needed some warming up to her, but the others had gone great. Angel, as always, was awesome. Gunn was just plane fun to be around, they could share horror stories of their youth, one about beatings, the other about living on the street. They had started a friendly competition, each trying to one-up each other constantly. Lorne was just plain crazy, in her opinion, but a good kind of crazy. And Fred, well, Fred was Fred. There were times that the two of them were in complete sync, than there were times that she couldn’t make heads nor tails of her, and Faith didn’t mean the techno babble. At those times Angel seemed to be the only to be able to focus her again, especially when she was in one of her ‘I fear everything, just let me rot in my cave’ phases. Faith sighed of boredom once again. If she thought of it though, she was pretty convinced she had somewhat of a relationship going with the girl, although she couldn’t quite pin point what that relationship was. Definitely still less than friends, although more than simple acquaintances. Faith had watched from afar, as after a very strong suggestion from Angel, Cordy had gone to make friends with the waif, and gotten her to go out of the hotel and do shopping and stuff. If she was honest with herself, and at this moment she felt like being, she had felt a pang of jealousy. She would have loved to tag along, but since she was being honest, she also understood Angel’s reasoning, the girl was a frightened little thing. A friendship with a brutally honest ex-psychopathic, super warrior - still working on finding her own equilibrium - would probably be just a little too much for the girl at this time. Perhaps in a month or so, when they both had regained their footing some.
Faith’s eyes flew open. Demon! Her heart raced, an instinct to jump up and kill began in her. Vampire! Mixed in with a soul! She calmed down with some effort. She lazily sat up, and as the door to the cellar and the sewers opened she called, “Angel.”
Angel was startled a bit, as he heard his name called before he even stepped in sight. He looked at Faith and smiled at her, “Faith. The others aren’t here yet?” He closed the door behind him.
“Nope,” she answered, and became suspicious at his smile. “You have something not boring to do?” She grew even more suspicious as Angel’s smile broadened. She turned around to face the front door, as she felt the others approach. Moments later, Fred, Cordelia, Gunn and Wesley arrived and walked inside. Seeing Faith, they smiled. Faith became even more suspicious.
The group looked at each other for a moment, apparently deciding on who was going to do something. Alarm bells rang in Faith’s ears. Finally Cordelia stepped forward and started, “Faith, although I hate to admit this, you’re a hero. You pretty much saved the world a few days ago . . .”
“I remember that was primarily Xander,” Faith tried to get out from under the praise, but the group was determined.
“Faith,” Wesley told her with a grin. “You did your part more than just good. You fired the longest on that asteroid as you pushed it into an orbit. You /are/ a hero.”
“Exactly,” Cordelia took back over, “And that’s why we bought you presents.” Faith swallowed hard, as Cordelia reached inside of a plastic bag she was carrying and revealed a gift-wrapped present, which she gave to Faith.
Faith slowly opened the gift, while the group stood before her looking down at her, and Angel stood smiling behind her. She looked with confusion and a slowly growing dread in the pit of her stomach at the gift. “A backpack?” she asked.
“A very stylish backpack,” Cordelia nodded with a mysterious grin.
“Now mine,” Fred positively beamed with excitement as she handed Faith a small package.
Faith opened it too, and looked at her second gift with mounting dread: a calculator. The next gift she got from Gunn: a pen and pencil set, including a bag to put them and other writing tools in. Faith was fighting urges to fly away by now. Wesley came next, and his gift was an agenda. Oh, god!
Finally from behind the couch Angel presented her with a gift, and holding out a piece of paper. With trembling hands she opened the gift; a geometric triangle. “Wha . . . why give these to me?”
Angel handed her the paper and she quickly scanned through the first few paragraphs. One word jumped out at her, the same dreaded word the whole group joyfully announced to her; “You’re going to high school, Faith!”
Faith’s face went white as she shrieked, “WHAT!?!”
The group chuckled, and Gunn announced bluntly, “You’re right Wes; Slayers can shriek and her face /is/ priceless.”
“You guys are joking, right!? This is just a joke!” Faith screamed out, hoping against hope.
Angel walked away from the position behind her. He smiled as he sat himself down upon the left arm of the couch, and said, “Nope, you’ll get to graduate in two years.”
Faith felt herself sinking down through the ground. “No, no, no! You can’t do that to me! School is hell, it’s worse than hell!” Faith yelled out in shock and fear.
“Trust me, it isn’t,” Angel answered her with a smile.
“Have you ever gone to school?” Faith said, glaring at him.
Angel grinned at her, answering, “Yes, have you been to hell?”
Fred looked at the freaked-out slayer and said, confused, “I thought you wanted to go to school? Isn’t that what you said at the trial?”
“Girly, that was over two years ago! I was out of my mind at the time! Basing my self worth or rather lack there of, on how much Miss Goody Two Shoes, ‘she’s the best’ - Buffy liked me and how much I was like her!” Faith screeched out, making Fred jump back. “I was only a few months away from becoming a murdering psychopath! I was nuts!”
“But you have to, Faith,” Angel told her soothingly. “It will do you good to be in a normal environment, not around the likes of us - no offense guys - or in a constant thought of kill those demons, kill those bad guys, kill, kill, you get the idea.”
“But high school!?” Faith pleaded eyes wide. “How about a job, or something? Heck, I’ll go do stripteases, that’s normal, right!?”
Angel grinned at her and said, “You’re going to school, Faith.”
Faith looked at him with wide eyes, “Cheer up, Faith,” Fred told her, and actually sat down next to her and put an arm around her. “You’ll do great. School is fun. You’ll learn interesting stuff, meet interesting people who might become your friends, or perhaps even your boyfriends, there are dances, and if you get stuck with anything, we can help out with your homework. I’m pretty smart, even if I do say so myself. Any technical stuff I can really help you with.”
Faith looked at Fred as if she had lost her mind . . . not to mention an arm slung around her? This girl really liked school - from a girl jittering away in fear, needing to gather courage just to look someone in the eyes when talking to them, to being a happy puppy with her arm around the ex-psychopathic slayer . . . correction: she /loved/ school.
Faith quickly turned to Angel and said, “I’m not doing it. There’s no way I’m going to school.”
“Legal guardian, remember?” Angel answered her. “If I say you go to school, you go to school.”
“Then I’ll move right back to Sunnydale . . .” Faith announced with determination.
Before she could continue, Angel told her, “You could do that. Of course Xander suggested it to me in the first place, so I’m pretty certain he’ll send you to school as well.”
Faith looked at him with her mouth ajar, trying to come up with a denial. “You’re lying, he wouldn’t do that to me.”
“Sorry,” Angel answered.
“Oh, come on, Faith,” Wesley told her, a smile in his voice. “We’ve signed you up for two classes, philosophy being the first. We thought a few basics in that would help you out, and second Driver’s Ed. Anya suggested that one, since you told her you still had to learn how to drive. It’ll be a week before school starts - apart from the mandatory classes, you can choose the rest yourself.”
Faith looked up at Wesley with a surprised face. Anya too! It was a conspiracy! For a few moments Faith mentally thought of a way out, finding none, she let her head drop in defeat.
“Oh, come on, Faith!” Cordelia said, sitting down on the other side of to the depressed slayer, and placing her arm around her as well. “It’ll be great, I’ll give you some fashion tips, and I’ll make you the most popular girl in school in no time. You could rule the place, and with that Slayer agility of yours, you would be a cheerleader in no time.”
Faith’s anger flashed in her eyes. She looked at Cordelia and held up a threatening index finger, “If you ever suggest to me again that I should become a cheerleader, I will rip your head off with my bare hands.”
“Or a wrestler, or a football player, or a gymnast . . .” Cordelia shut up, as Faith very slowly and very meticulously removed Cordelia’s arm from her shoulder, giving Cordelia a smouldering look all the while. “Or not,” Cordelia added, giving Faith a wide, nervous smile.
Sunnydale University Campus
One week later
Students milled about the grounds of the campus everywhere. Xander deftly avoided one, as he walked toward the two girls he recognized, he sped up some.
“Hey, guys! Surprise!” Xander called. Buffy and Willow looked over toward the sound. They saw the jeans-wearing Saiyan - carrying books under one of his arms - run toward them.
“Xander?” Willow asked nervously. “What are you doing here?”
“I enrolled of course,” Xander said, indicating his books. “Molecular biology and physics.”
“Huh?” Buffy sputtered.
Willow with some more smarts understood and clarified, “Ah, Cordelia’s condition and destroying hell - the scientific way.”
“Bingo!” Xander said with a grin.
“But how did you get in? SATs, bad high school grades, and all?” Willow asked a little confused.
“Convinced them to let me take an aptitude test, aced it,” Xander answered with a grin.
“But what about your job?” Buffy asked confused.
Xander waved it away, saying, “Ah, got it covered. The boss says if I really can’t continue to come to work, he’s happy to hire me back once I’m finished with school. In the mean time, I’ve got Ed covering for me when I have to be here.”
“You do your job and school at the same time? Don’t you have to go to classes?” Willow asked bug-eyed.
“Hardly,” Xander answered with a grin. “The last two weeks I went ahead and did the repeat tests for those that failed it the first time around. Aced them. Good thing tests during the asteroid threat were postponed or I would be behind. The only thing I have to do now are the practicals, and the truly cutting edge stuff that I don’t know yet, which I probably will follow via the internet, so I can debate it too with the really smart scientists. Then an internship and two doctorates, not certain which I’ll do first yet. I’m guessing one and a half to two years and I’ll be done.”
The two girls looked at him with wide-eyes, then turned to look at each other. He was going to be finished at the same time as Willow, a year before Buffy - she and her mentor had decided that with taking care of Dawn and stuff, it was best if she lessened her load somewhat and add an extra year to do everything in - and he would have two doctorates instead of one. “Xander,” the two said in unison. Xander looked at them with a puzzled face at their sour tone. Then they looked at him and said, “We hate you.” Then they turned around and walked toward the school building.
“What?” Xander managed to blurt out. “Guys? What’s going on?” The girls just kept walking. “Guys!? What did I say!? Guys!? Wait up, guys!” Xander jogged after them to catch up. The girls looked at each other for a moment, a gleam in their eyes that said, ‘Just like old times.’
The End . . . for now . . .
Author’s notes: Done! This is the end of the Super Saiyan Xander saga. Don’t worry, I’ll continue onward with the next episode and the beginning of the next saga soon. It’ll take a little longer though, although I know pretty much everything that will happen in the next ten or so episodes, probably more, I still have to fit them all in the correct order. Since I’m going to be switching between LA and Sunnydale to cover all them, I have to plan this out in much greater detail first, or I’m going to make some major plot and timing screw ups.
Anyway, I hoping to hear from you guys, what you like and didn’t like of this saga!
The Evolution of Buffy Z
University scene: The very last scene is another one of the very few scenes that came from a version of Xander Immortal. In that version Xander wouldn't be super smart and it would take him three years to finish, but since he’s got a lot factual knowledge blasted into him via the Quickenings he wouldn’t need to study, there would be added to it dialogue about him grumbling over two ‘mistakes’ he made during the oral-history part of the aptitude test, his answers were obviously correct, since he had the memories to prove them.
Charmed ones: The reason for the charmed ones inclusion is quite simply to give a juxtaposition from the Scooby Gang’s committed war. A few witches who follow their gods without question, while Buffy and co want to destroy them all. It occurred to me during Prue’s death, I loved Prue and would prefer to see her alive, damn thing was I liked Paige quickly as well, so I figured what would happen if all four of them came together. Anyway Xander rescuing Prue from Shacks soon came up in my head, and after mulling it and a handful of other scenes over, it occurred to me they could very nicely work like that. Interestingly I went back and forth between placing the scenes in like this, or actually making a separate Charmed saga in which I placed all the scenes after another, but that just wouldn’t work as well.
Faith’s trial: Faith’s trial is in there for a very simple reason; a girl convicted of murder, I can’t just have walk around Sunnydale and say: ‘well, they let me out’, I had to show why they let her out. In the original concept I had Willow and Xander and the whole bunch testify as well, but that would just go on for too long, although in my head they did testify, even though I didn’t write it down. Anyway, I think it worked out rather well, especially since it gives a whole new insight into Faith’s psyche, as well as several very interesting action scenes, (Faith’s activation, Gunn vs the master vampire, the bar fight, most notably).
Next Time: Uh, well, probably a bit more about the Super Saiyan Xander Saga, and perhaps it’s about time for a break from the evolution until there is some more written that I can talk about.