The Demon Murphy
Wow. That’s really all I can say.
Thanks, for all the reviews, and I’ll try to reply to the ones I get for this chapter, I’ve been really bad about replying to reviewers, and that needs to stop. Anyway, for those of you who want spoilers on future abilities check out “worldwideweb dot wikipedia dot com” and search there for some pretty accurate analyses of character abilities. As before, for info on the incarnation of Duo appearing in this fic, read “Upon a Fiery Steed” on fanfiction.net.
As usual, if it’s recognizable, then I don’t own it. Please do not sue me, as I have nothing worth taking.
Now, without further interruptions, on with the Fic!
The Demon Murphy
They made it almost halfway to Amy’s house, the only one of the four likely to be uninhabited, before Jonathan collapsed only semi-coherent on the pavement vomiting what felt like everything he’d eaten for the past week.
The others were right there. “Jono, you alright?” Xander asked, concerned.
“Yeah,” the brown-braided young man said as he wiped his mouth. “This is a good sign. I think.” He responded with a wince.
“You think?” Amy asked with concern as they helped him to his feet.
“Well, Duo only ever infected one person, and he really didn’t have a terribly normal immune system,” Jonathan answered distractedly.
Amy appears to be on the verge of exploding at Jonathan, the question is on her lips when Xander interrupts. “Wait until we get to your place. We’ll all need some time to think about this before we’re ready to play twenty questions,” he says calmly. “Can you walk that far, or do you need Dawn to carry you?” the silver-haired young man asks with a grin that’s pure Xander. Using humor to defuse tensions and distract people from their worries came as naturally as breathing. Just as natural as Father Nightroad’s forced clumsiness.
Xander’s rebellious mind threw at him. And that was digging a bit too deep too quickly. The priest hid what he was by being a klutz. What does that say about you?
He forced himself to not think about it.
Xander would have been making the next joke already, helping to keep his companion’s minds off of their own internal troubles. But that was before Halloween and the memories. And he could already feel the barriers, which held them back, failing. The mental techniques he’d found in Giles’s books that had held the remnants of the Hyena separate from his conscious mind for months without a shudder were . . . leaking under the pressure. Little pieces of memory were slipping through in a steady stream. He knew from his experience in the days after the Hyena incident, before the wards were strong enough to restrain it fully, that he needed several hours of sleep to begin sorting it. He didn’t know why, but for some reason, building filing cabinets out of grass on the Serengeti in his dreams seemed to help. As they walked in further silence, each examining his or her own mind, he wondered idly what he’d dream of this time. Maybe building filing cabinets out of rock on Mars?
Came the sardonic thought, melding Xander’s stubborn resistance and dry sense of humor with the Vampire Priest’s memories and fears.
Xander was brought back to the physical world abruptly as he noticed Jonathan begin shaking. It wasn’t anything obvious, but trained reflexes slipped the scythe from its carrier into his left hand, providing stability for unsteady legs. He shared a quick glance with Dawn and Amy. Something was definitely wrong. And more than just simple exhaustion.
After looking at him for a moment and sharing a glance with Amy, Xander speaks up. “Dawn? Carry Superman over there so he doesn’t give himself a concussion when he faints and hits the ground,” Jonathan immediately shoots a glare at the now silver-haired youth. However, in the process of turning to lay the death glare on the other male in the group, he loses his balance and starts to go over backwards. Dawn and Xander with Amy not far behind immediately rush over and grab him before he can hit the pavement.
As Jonathan was fading out of consciousness he grabbed hold of Dawn’s arm and managed to whisper two words, “No hospitals,” That was about the time that he blacked out entirely.
As soon as Jonathan passed out, the others had hauled ass to Amy’s place, which was as empty as promised with her dad away on business. Xander was feeling winded even with his nanites operating in standby mode, Amy was sucking for air after the run despite Rukia’s excellent physical condition, Dawn, however, didn’t even seem to be breathing hard as she set Jonathan down on the couch.
As soon as Amy had the breath to ask, she turned to Xander and demanded, “Alright, you know the most about Anime, what happened to Duo that could cause this
Xander considered for a moment before he answered, “I really don’t know. I never really liked Gundam Wing, that was more Jessie’s” the word caught in his throat, “ . . . thing. The only thing that I can think of is that its related to whatever that the Mad Five did to make him able to pilot a Gundam.” Xander shrugged apologetically, “I’ve seen most of the series, but I never saw Endless Waltz and I’ve never read Episode Zero, so I don’t know much about the background,” when Amy appeared ready to launch into another question, Xander raised his hand to cut her off, “Look, we aren’t going to make sense of this tonight, we’re all worn out. Get some sleep and we can discuss this in the morning,” he glanced at Jonathan, “And hopefully, sleeping beauty over there’ll be awake,”
Amy wasn’t exactly happy with the situation, but she also couldn’t argue with it. She directed Dawn to her Dad’s room and found a sleeping bag for Xander before she came back to the living room and tucked a blanket around Jonathan’s still form. After that, she just stood and watched him for a time before she shook herself and stumbled off to her room. After the events of the night, sleep was surprisingly quick in coming.
As soon as Dawn closed her eyes she found herself back in the strange not-quite control room that the priest had held her in earlier. She was momentarily surprised to find it empty, and took the chance to look around a bit.
The area she thought was the command deck was empty. Elevated above the rest of the room, it seemed almost forbidding somehow, while, at the same time, it was no different in any real way from anything else in this strange dream world. She couldn’t see much of it from the floor, but if the strange readouts on the rest of the walls and the various consoles were any indication, it probably held controls and displays that she wouldn’t understand, and, in truth, didn’t care to. For the next few minutes, she wandered through the rows of chair-less consoles, hoping to see something that she understood. Other than a few machines that reminded her of the MRIs and stuff that she’d seen on TV, she really had no idea what she was seeing.
After making a couple circuits of the room, Dawn was feeling incredibly bored, but before she could decide whether or not to go exploring on her own, a door she hadn’t even seen on the right side of the room rotated open. Tres Iqus walked through as the panel shifted shut behind him.
Dawn, trying to play cool, though the situation was making her more than a little nervous, inquired, “So what brings you to the neighborhood?” before reconsidering her question and demanding. “On second thought what and where is this place and how do I get out of it?”
Tres’ head cocked to the right approximately one degree and his left eyebrow rose fractionally. “Good evening, Miss Summers.” He said in his usual monotone before turning and heading up the stairs to the balcony.
Dawn’s jaw dropped. Oh he did
not just blow me off.
Tres, resolutely ignoring the now ranting Dawn, stands before the central console and begins typing at the controls at a furious pace. Dawn, overcoming her nerves, climbs the circular staircase, a childish part of her hoping that Tres would at least react to someone screaming in his ear.A childish part.
Before the sun went down, she never would have thought that. She was twelve. She was a child. She had a right to be childish.
Dawn’s eyes widened in horror as the control room shattered around her. Her mind was suddenly filled with a life she hadn’t lived, as memories were integrated piece by agonizing piece into her consciousness. It was, perhaps, a perversity of chance that she didn’t pass out until after the process was complete.
Now alone in the strange not-quite control room, Tres sighed minutely and immediately set in on his next self-appointed task. Dawn’s presence forced him to recall the girl Elise from one of his early missions against the Order of Rosen Creuz. The comparison was . . . distracting. He only hoped that she would be as fortunate as the young tactile telepath had been.
Tres frowned microscopically as more impossible data streamed across the visual interface of his cybernetic eyes. The girl’s mind had survived the integration process intact as anticipated. In fact, the pain she had experienced was well below what he had expected. Even inside this strange biological-digital-spiritual realm, the shock should have been damaging. Tres removed an item from his work queue as its completion became unnecessary. A mind that should have required three-point-four-seven-five hours of repairs was resting easily, the memories of pain fading to an indistinct blur as all such memories do. If he had been organic, Tres would have had a hard time keeping his mouth closed. As an android, he simple filed the information and moved on.
The separate set of memories that I inserted into her mind would have left Father Nightroad less than entirely sane for several hours. Her resilience is unprecedented. Another set of observations, as well as possible causes were filed. He did not have a likely solution yet, indeed, the best percentage for an accurate answer for the unknown variable was at less than a thousandth of a percent; however, after the impossible had been eliminated, one of the resulting variables had to be correct. He simply required more data. With the need to divert nanites to restoring positronic-neural connective systems eliminated, Tres moved quietly along to the next queued directive and resumed his cell-by-cell scan of Dawn Summers’ body. The chaos magic that had created him had been surprisingly thorough, but he had already discovered four hundred twenty-nine thousand, two hundred and twelve faults in her systems that would have to be repaired at a molecular level.
Inserting new items into his list of directives, Tres still diverted a tiny portion of his awareness to analyzing the walking conundrum that was Dawn Marie Summers.
Xander awoke to find himself staring at hard vacuum. Instinctive reaction had him drawing a breath in a feeble attempt to hold onto a few more milliseconds of life before the gaping void drew the air from his lungs. About three seconds later, when he realized that he wasn’t dead, Xander let the air back out. He reached forward tenuously, half afraid that if he moved, his inexplicable reprieve would be revoked. Less than a foot in front of his face, his hand abruptly stopped. Glass?
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” a familiar voice asked from behind him. Xander whirled automatically backing up against the view port of the ship or space station. Only to stop in surprise and no small amount of fear as he looked upon a face that a part of him swore he’d never seen before while another argued that he saw every morning in his mirror. “I’m sorry to have startled you,” the serious, almost somber, face breaks into a small smile. “Normally I’d introduce myself, but I suppose that’s kind of unnecessary,”
Xander grinned for a moment at the wry humor before he caught himself. “I suppose this is the part where you take over my body like the Hyena did?” Xander asks, settling in for a fight that he knows he can’t win, not against someone/thing that could tear down his best mental barriers in less than a day. However, before he can finish the question, the figure is already shaking his head.
“I have no intention of harming you,” he said in answer, “And I haven’t torn down your barriers. You are tearing them down even as you build them up.”
“Yeah, as if I’d let another
possession wander around inside my head even subconsciously. Pull the other one. It has bells on it,” Xander snarled back, looking for the trap. The Hyena had tried it enough in the early days before he’d managed to shut him up for good; he wasn’t about to fall for that trick here.
The priest shook his head ruefully, “You don’t understand, do you? I’m not a possession. I’m not far separated from that subconscious that you were just jesting about.”
Xander quirked an eyebrow at that, “Then why does my subconscious sound vaguely British?”
The maybe-not-possession glared at him with pursed lips and rolled its eyes slightly before speaking. “You and the character that you dressed as are very similar.” The projection explained using small words and generally behaving as if he was talking to a nitwit. Which,
Xander considered, actually does argue that this is me I’m talking to. In the anime, Father Nightroad was always calm and respectful, even when people were pissing him off.
“Like attracts like.” A magnet and some small pieces of iron appeared on a table that he was sure hadn’t existed the previous instant before they snapped together. “Magnetism is a physical principal. This is magic. If you persist in trying to keep him out, you’ll end up killing yourself.”
Xander looked at what he was now convinced was a part of his mind that desperately needed a rubber room in shock. “There is no way you’re suggesting what I think you’re suggesting,” he said as he pointed a finger at the Nightroad look-alike. It nodded. Xander rebelled. In horror, he turned and tried to run, only to find himself pressed up against the thin-seeming glass between safety and space. He watched in horror as the first cracks started to form.
“This view isn’t just for looks, you know.” The other said from where it stood, unmoving. “You’re at a very real crossroads here. You stand upon the edge of a knife, and if you lean either way, you’ll fall. ‘Course, if you stand still, you’re just as dead as if you chose wrong.” Xander glared at him as he turned back around.
“Okay, you’re my psyche. Tell me what this place means then. I know I paid enough attention in Psych class to know that dreams like this are symbolic,” the brown haired teen said gesturing to the station around him. His other nodded.
“This room is your choice. The options you’ve got. Out there,” he pointed at the stars, “is hard vacuum, explosive decompression, and death. The door,” he said pointing back over his shoulder to a barred door that hadn’t been there previously, “is you’re way out. All you have to do is take the bar out and open it.” Seeing the look on Xander’s face, the other elaborated. “Your mind is breaking from the strain of trying to hold back magic and almost a millennia of memories that it wants
to integrate. Keep the walls up, and you die. Take them down, and you live.” It concluded with a shrug.
Xander swallowed roughly, “And the choice I have is letting someone else walk around in a Xander Suit for the rest of my life-?” he stopped at the negative headshake.
“Do you really think that Abel Nightroad would do that to you? Besides, the possession is over. The spell ended. All that’s left is memories.” That didn’t leave quite the sour taste in his mouth that being possessed would have, but it still stuck in his craw. A sickening crack sounded behind him. “In any case, you ain’t got much time left.” The phantom began to fade from view. “One last thing,” the apparition spoke as it vanished, “refusing to chose is also a choice,”
Xander stood for a moment, feeling lost. If he let those memories in, the changes that he somehow knew would come with them, he wouldn’t be Xander anymore. He’d be something else, something Other. Could he handle that? Could he live with remembering, or perhaps not remembering what he’d been like before one supposed-to-be-quiet All Hallows Eve?
Another crack sounded behind him, the loudest yet as the spider’s web of faults fan across the window. Another set of images floated in front of his eyes. Buffy with the Master, the Jessie-Vampire in the Bronze the night of the Harvest, the Incan Mummy.
If he hadn’t been there, who would have stopped them? How many innocents would die if he wasn’t there the next time? At the heart of his being, Alexander LaVelle Harris was a Paladin, a White Knight. He would sooner die than let anyone under his protection fall in his place. In the end, there was only one road that he could possibly take.
Overcoming his fear, Xander made his choice.
In the space between worlds, a glowing figure looked down at the boy sleeping on his friend’s floor. He’d had to skirt the very edge of truthfulness there. That one has a strong will.
They all did, to a degree. The boy Jonathan’s was weaker than the others, but, despite the more objectionable aspects of Duo’s personality, he was a good fit for the boy. Strong willed and stubborn, but with a loyal streak wide as the Rift.
He would be a crucial player on the world’s stage, as humans reckoned such things.A strange irony
, the being thought, that those four youths, focuses of Chaos that they are, will do more good in their lifetimes than those attempting to enforce their silly ‘Balance’ have done in a millennia.
After all, Discord could not be allowed in the Chorus. It had to be contained and eliminated. Even such low energy-spirit beings should have learned that by now.
The figure watched for several more moments, just to make sure that its charge would be safe. It had been granted a great blessing in being allowed to see His plan for these young mortals, and even seeing those few strands of the Tapestry had come close to breaking its mind. Joy swept through its being then, that it served a fair and benevolent King who planned for each of His creations so. The figure smiled to itself as it once again reviewed what its Lord had showed it. Be glad, all four of you. Great adversity lies ahead, but great joy also.
The winged being stood, then, and departed its place in the Void Between. Much as it would have loved to observe these four who had been singled out by the Master’s hand, it had other duties equally enjoyable Above. Still, it would return, as often as it could, and not simply because it was its duty. The boy Alexander would be a joy to watch. He certainly lived up to his name.
A single phrase echoed in a silver-haired teen’s dreams as he slept. The Blessing of the Lord be upon you Alexander. May you find all that which you seek.
As the voice echoed, the dark’s terrors lifted from the boy’s shoulders and he slipped into a more restful sleep. Feeling, in his heart of hearts, that he had nothing to fear that night. For the first time since his youth, Xander Harris slept easy.
Dawn came entirely too soon for Amy Madison. Being stung awake by sunlight coming in through her bedroom window less than six hours after she had finally gotten to sleep was not the way that she’d wanted to begin her day. After deciding that the sun probably wasn’t going to reverse directions just for her, Amy finally gave up on going back to sleep and sat up. Walking softly down the hallway Amy discovered, to her irritation, that she was apparently the only one up. Figures. It’s my house and I’m the only one awake. Oh well, at least I get first crack at the shower.
Amy wandered into the bathroom, and, after taking care of the usual morning necessities, proceeded into the shower for a nice hot wash.
For years after her mother and father had divorced-and before the body-stealing incident- water had been her refuge. Whether it was swimming laps in a pool, or taking a long soak in the bathtub, water had always seemed to calm her a bit, enough, at least, to be able to sort through her problems. This morning though, she found the cascade around her hardly comforting. She remembered what sh-Rukia. It had been Rukia, not her-had done the night before, and shuddered. How many families are wondering what happened to their children this morning? How many other teens did we kill last night?
She wondered as tears mingled with the passing water. The fact that the others had been trying to kill them at the time really didn’t enter into it; she had killed people. With fire and lightning and sword, she had ended the lives of children
.How am I any better than my mother? She might have done some temporary damage, but she never
Even if she counted trying to kill Buffy, her own body count dwarfed her mother’s. Even assuming that three quarters of the “demons” the night before had been legitimate monsters, she’d murdered almost a dozen innocent people.
For easily understood reasons, she cut her customary half-hour soak short.
Upon leaving the bathroom, she discovered that there was still no one awake, so after checking to make sure Jonathan was okay, she wandered into the kitchen with the vague idea of making breakfast.
Amy sighed and looked toward the living room as her hands moved of their own accord. She was really worried about the now-braid-wearing teen. Seeing him after the fighting had stopped the night before had been something else. What she had gained from the body switching episode-namely an incredible figure and the urge to keep it- Jonathan had gained from Duo. In spades. He’d easily picked up an extra six inches and had kept approximately the same weight, which on a now larger frame, with more muscles, meant that the formerly pudgy young man had abruptly spiked to about an eight on the hotness meter. Seeing him pass out like he’d done had not been an enjoyable experience.
By this time the smell of cooking was starting to permeate the rest of the house and she could hear the faintest of stirrings from the living room and her dad’s room as Xander and Dawn began to stir. However, when she checked on Jonathan while the rice and miso
were cooking and the fish was thawing slowly in the microwave, she was disconcerted to see that he was still deeply asleep.
Nevertheless, she went back to the kitchen and momentarily regretted the lack of seaweed and umeboshi
for the rice before deciding to add some pickled beets that her dad had bought in preperation for Thanksgiving. Oh well, an egg and some soy sauce will do as well.
Tamago kake gohan shouldn’t hurt the
Quickly boiling some eggs to add to the beets, Amy’s thoughts once again slid towards Jonathan. Their friendship had been fading even before her mom had taken to wearing an Amy suit and finally destroyed it once and for all. Once she got her body back, Amy had never felt the time was right to try and make ammends. Courtesy of her mom’s influence, she was now accepted by some of the more popular kids; it was nice not to be the reject for once, and she had been afraid that making overtures to one of the out crowd would ruin that. As she set up to steam the thawed fish Fresh is so much better than frozen
she came to the conclusion that she needed to try, even if it proved to be impossible.I never should have let it get this far in the first place.
she thought as a search of the cupboards turned up some green tea. One sniff told her that it was the Americanized version of the drink, but even American green tea was better than that pitiful excuse for a drink the English made, or-Kami forbid
-coffee. As she began to boil water for her awakening guests she checked the vegetable stock that she’d dissolved what little miso
paste she had found into and made sure that the onions, mushrooms, tofu, and potato pieces weren’t being overcooked. She’d wished for some daikon
, but there hadn’t been any, neither had there been buckwheat flour for the soba
she’d originally intended to make. It appeared that her first meal hosting her friends would be a dish short, which was irritating; it seemed a shopping trip would be in order for later in the day. If the
Kami are merciful, the
gaijin won’t notice,
she didn’t count on it though, and coming up short on her first time as a hostess was agravating. Miyabi
demanded better. Serving plain
soba would have been bad enough, but to have a dish missing entirely?
She frowned as she monitored the fish’s progress even as she added the tea leaves to the water. Satisfied that the food was as good as she could manage with her currently limited resources, she began to prepare the table settings and had even managed to cobble together a replacement for the missing hashioki
before Xander and Dawn wandered into the room.
Both blinked and looked at the ornate place setting’s on the table, and more importantly at the food filling the bowls and plates. Xander was the first to speak. “Uh, Amy, not that I’d turn down free food or anything, but aren’t breakfast
dished traditionally served for breakfast?”
Amy frowned at the aparent non sequitor, and examined the place setting nearest her. Rice bowl on the left, soup bowl on the right, fish steamed with lemon zest and
shōyu with a light horseradish flavor at the center
, she concentrated, wondering what the problem was. The eggs, cooled in ice water and colored a light lilac from the brine they had been soaking in had been neatly sliced to expose the yolk and were in the back on the right, and the beets themselves were in the back on the left. Nothing was wrong with the picture, which, she abruptly realized, was precisely what was wrong.
She had never tasted nattō
in her life, but she could recall the destinctive nutty flavor of the fermented soybeans easily. She had never made a Japanese place setting, she had never even heard of umeboshi
, and she couldn’t stand the taste of Soy sauce. Breakfast for her would have normally consisted of slighly charred bacon and lumpy pancakes, certainly nothing like the feast that she’d created. A part of her was cringing in discomfort, while a second felt that she should simply go along with it, and a third was screaming bloody murder. The third won out.
“I am going to hunt down and kill
Ethan Rayne if it is the last thing I ever do!” She screamed at the top of her lungs as both Dawn and Xander momentarily fell back before her obvious wrath. No, my life isn’t complicated. Not at all.
His first impression upon returning to consciousness was noise
. Lots of noise. That level of noise around him before his first cup of coffee was generally a Bad Thing, and he reacted accordingly. “Damnit Heero! Can’t you avoid pissing Relena off ‘till at least noon?” he roared as he threw the covers off and got to his feet, absently checking his braid to make sure it was alright. Wait a minute, that didn’t sound like Relena, and it sure as hell wasn’t Sally. What the fu-
and he remembered. As his mind caught up with past events, his body’s discomfort made itself known. He was slowly sitting back down to try and sort out the mess running around inside his head when his three companions in the wierdness of last night turned the corner.
Amy spoke first with the sort of concern that she hadn’t shown for him in more than a year, “God, Jonathan, are you alright? You scared the hell out of us last night!” it was suddenly as much as he could do to keep from breaking into mildly histerical laughter. Shi no Yami integrating? I can’t immagine how anyone could find
A sideways smile slid onto his lips.
“Well, since I’m not dead, yeah, I’ll be fine,” he said as he struggled to his feet. “Let me have something with caffine in it and some food and I’ll be alright,”
Xander, seeing how shaky he was on his feet immediately attempted to veto the idea. “No way. Bedrest until you can stand without your knees giving way-”
“Knees aren’t weak, Shi no Yami
just hasn’t finished with my nerves yet. My central nervous system needs to catch up with the peripheral nervous system, and my muscles need time to catch up with my reflexes,” Jonathan interrupted as he walked carefully toward the bathroom, trying to make sure that he didn’t trip over his own feet, or try to lift the second while the first was still in the air. At their confused looks, he elaborates, “Shi no Yami
crosses the blood-brain barrier and infiltrates the cells there. I’ve got my memories and muscle memory of how to walk, and Duo’s memories, and neither set is right at the moment because my synapses are firing at different speeds,” the last said as he closed the bathroom door.
Outside the other three looked at each other, clearly not understanding what Jonathan was trying to spell out for them. Xander recovered first, to smell of food draving a rumble from his stomach that had Amy grinning as she cocked an eyebrow at him. “Well, you were nice enough to make us breakfast, Amy, so lets not let the food get cold. The three entered the dining room followed closely by an appreciative Jonathan as he took a deep breath in through his nose.
“Ooohhh steamed fish,” he said as he dropped less than gracefully into a chair and immediately picked up his chopsticks like he knew how to use them. “And tamago kake gohan
too.” he continued as he used the chopsticks to grab some of the rice dish. “Do you use soy saunce with the egg, or not?” he asked before he popped the food into his mouth.
“You know what this is?” Dawn asked as she stared at the contents of her plates and bowls dubiously while trying to position the chopsticks and not having much luck.
“Are you kidding?” Jonathan responded, “Japanese cuisine is the only way to go for breakfast. I used to like Western stuff, but Heero got me hooked on this years ago,” he added, finding nothing incongruous about the statement. The dead silence had him looking up from his bowl of miso
soup. “What?” he asked “Oh Kami
, is there something wrong with my hair?” he asked as he flipped his braid up over one shoulder to examine it. Jonathan abruptly realized what he’d done and stopped fussing with his hair ties. The rest of the meal passed in fairly comfortable silence after a short lesson to Dawn and Xander on the art of chopsticks. Though they weren’t used to the idea of fish, soup, and rice for breakfast, they found the food was truly enjoyable.
Amy mostly wondered how the hell she’d done it while tasting, for the first time, something that her mind told her she’d had hundreds of times before.
Jonathan wolfed down his portion of the food with absurd speed and then sat and slowly and repeatedly sipped at the green tea and grimaced. The silence lasted until perhaps a half hour after the last pair of chopsticks were put down. Dawn had spent most of her time staring at a wall, aparently deep in thought, while Xander had his head layed back idly fingering a bullet from his gun, and Amy played with her hair and appeared to be attempting to make a rock garden in her rice bowl.
Jonathan couldn’t take it any more. “Amy,” he began and startled the others, his voice loud in the silence, “please tell me that you have something in this house with caffine in it?”
Amy frowned at the request before attempting to make a Xanderesque joke. “You said something about that earlier, is Duo a secret caffine addict or something?”
Jonathan shot her an unreadable look. “Let me have some coffee and I’ll tell you.” A thourough search of the house didn’t turn up any coffee, but Amy did have some diet pop on hand and Jonathan pronounced that adequate. After downing two cans of the stuff in rapid sucession, Jonathan led the whole group into the living room, a third diet cola in hand.
Amy, still anxious about what had caused one of her oldest friends to pass out the night before finally asked the question that she’d wanted answered previously. “What happened to Duo that made you sick like that, and why are you better so quickly?”
Xander nodded in agreement. “As bad as you were last night I didn’t expect you to be up and about like this for a few days yet,”
Jonathan nodded in understanding, “To be frank, I’m surprised I’m not horizontal right now. For some reason the infection seems to have proceeded way more quickly than it should have.” By the end of his sentence, his comrades are looking at him with distinct unease.
Dawn interrupts, “You mean, like, a contagious disease? As in germs?”
Jonathan’s grin is obviously a channeling of Duo. Wide and maniacal. “Nah, Shi no Yami
isn’t contagious,” a small snort of laughter escapes the obviously amused teen, “Not unless you get real creative.” A frown breaks across his face for a moment. “Look, I’ll start from the beginning here and try to include everything, but the whole thing’s sort of complicated.” He breakes for a deep breath.
“First of all, I got two full sets of memories from last night,” this statement very nearly results in a flood of questions, but Jonathan simply steemrolls over their objections. “My idea of Duo aparently conflicted with the spell’s intention, at least, that’s the only answer I’ve been able to come up with. I’d been reading some fan fiction lately from that show Wormhole Extreme, and I came across a Gundam Wing crossover. Anyway, I was thinking about that when the spell hit last night. I’ve got a mixed bag of memories and, some technical knowledge from the Gundam Wing Duo, but most of what I’ve got is from the other Duo. That Duo,” he continued with a deep breath, “was a member of one of the planet Sanq’s five Guardian Strains. Specifically he was a Shinigami
. For you two,” he indicated Dawn and Xander, “Shinigami
means ‘little god of death’ he was the host to a really nasty bug called Shi no Yami
. That means, roughly ‘shadow death’. Anyway, one of the Morrigu decided that exposing whole colonies to plagues was lots of fun, so, she’d dust an area of the colony with this nastly little bug that really resembled a Terran slime mold. And nine in ten people would drop dead in their tracks, eaten from the lungs and their vascular system. If you managed to survive that, you got this really interesting cancer, or one of several other things. In any case, it wasn’t plesant. The real kick in the ass though, was that one out of ten. They were carriers, and after a while this nastly little parasite would drive them absolutely bug house nuts, and they’d break and start killing.”
The story, by now, was eliciting gasps from the ladies and moderately queasy looks from Xander. Jonathan recalled the last time “he’d” explained the story and carried on, “Then after a few decades, something went wrong. Maybe a slow day at the mad scientist’s lab, maybe they just got complacent, but a batch of the stuff reverted to near wild type. And wild type Shi no Yami
doesn’t kill its host, it doesn’t spread by air, and it doesn’t put its home in a mental institution.”
“Shinigami,” Xander guessed.
Jonathan, again channeling Duo, smiled wryly, “Got it in one. Shi no Yami
works its way all throughout the host’s body and insinuates itself into everything down to the host’s genetic code. By now, I literally have Shi no Yami
in my genes as though I was born with it, my bone marrow produces more of it, and my body considers it just another variety of lymphocite. The reason why I’m so wobbly is that it goes for the nerves last, and the blood-brain barrier isn’t exactly easy to get across. In about a week, I’ll have better reflexes, and better hand-eye coordination than any normal human ever born.”
All of the others look suitably impressed at the statement. “However, this all comes with downsides.”
Amy jumped in, “You mean the caffine?”
Jonathan smiled, “That’s one. Shinigami
have to have caffine to function. We can synthesize it in our bloodstreams if we have to, but that tends to make us really cranky, and we need to feel the wind.” Everyone looked puzzled by that, so Jonathan continued, “Shi no Yami
may not be airborne anymore, but its instincts still say ‘go to air.’ It takes several days before we get twitchy, and it takes almost a week before the paranoia starts to set in, but we do need to be around moving air.”
Everyone waited a moment to take everything in. “Wait a minute!” Amy broke in, “How’d you do the wings then?” she asked while Dawn and Xander looked at her like she was nuts.
Jonathan blinked in surprise, “I guess I did forget that part, sorry I-Duo-only ever had to give the whole speal once. The wings were sgean dubh
Amy frowned. “That’s not Japanese,”
This time the translation came from a different source, “It’s Welsh, I think,” Xander said from his place in the rocking chair. “The . . . dark knife?” he asked.
The self-titled Shinigami
nodded, “Pretty close. We actually translate it as ‘black knife,’ but po-taytoh, po-tahtoh,”
“So, you can really fly?” Dawn asked eagerly.
Jonathan grinned again. “‘Course. Not for very long though, sgean dubh
takes a lot out of us. It’s a lot like sprinting uphill, and having your wings disappear when you’re fifty feet in the air makes for a bad day.”
Dawn grimaced imagining the results of that particular accident.
“So what about the rest of you?” Jonathan asked. Silence greeted the question. “Ah, c’mon, I told you!”
Amy, Xander, and Dawn traded glances before Amy sighed and began to speak. “I can’t just call up a memory and have it there like you apparently can, but . . . it’s like I grew up speaking and reading Japanese. When I need it, it’s just there. Same with the cooking. As long as I wasn’t concentrating on it, it seemed perfectly natural. It’s only when I stopped and thought about what I was doing that I realized how weird it was.” She stopped for a minute and frowned. “I wonder if I can still use a sword,” she trailed off, frowning in thought.
“Maybe,” Xander said, “we’ll have to check with Giles later and see if we can borrow one of his,” Xander shook his head. “Anyway, I’ve got all of Abel’s memories and I can . . . well, see them like I suppose Jonathan can, but I also seem to have picked up a lot of Nightroad’s habits.”
Jonathan’s left eyebrow went up, “Like what?”
“The fact that I instinctively scanned this room when I walked into it probably counts. And the fact that I can take this gun apart, clean it, and reassemble it less than a pair of minutes definitely does.” Xander shrugged. “There’s other stuff, but those are the high points.” Xander concluded.
“Damn,” Jonathan said, “I think I’ve still got the weirdest though.”
That is when Dawn chose to speak up, “I have a male
android living in the back of my head,” everyone looked at her.
The world’s only Shinigami
just stared at her for a moment. “I withdraw my previous statement,”
“Anyway, Tres has a lot of ideas, and I think some of them are worth listening to.” Dawn frowned for a moment before looking at the ceiling and yelling, “Yes, I said some! I haven’t decided about the rest yet . . . No I don’t particularly care that you aren’t upstairs, I’ll direct my comments wherever I chose to direct them,” When she looked back down, she found the rest of the gang looking at her like she was a loon. “Oh, don’t you start.” She said as Xander opened his mouth, a quip obviously on his lips. The quelling glare directed at him convinced him that, this time at least, silence was the better part of valor.
“Anyway, Tres has been pitching a continual fit about how inefficient our slaying tactics are, and his opinion of my sister’s prejudices is close to blasphemy,”
It was at this point that Jonathan interrupted, wide-eyed. “You mean that those things weren’t just a Halloween thing? I mean, magic I can get. It’s not that far remover from Quatre’s empathy or Fei-Fei’s pyrokinesis, but there are really demons
that hang out in this town?” All of the others turned to stare at the surprised Shinigami.
“Um, sorry,” Dawn said, “I guess we just sort of assumed that you’d know.” Dawn looked at Xander questioningly.
Xander sighed at the look before attempting to launch into Giles’s spiel, “Uh, how does the G-man put it? The world is older than you know, and, unlike popular belief, it did not begin as a paradise. Demon ruled this world for eons. They made it their home, their hell. However, eventually, they lost their grip on this reality and the way was cleared for mortal animals and for man. Now, there are only certain traces or vestiges of the Old Ones, certain magics and items of power. And the slayer. One girl in all the world, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires to stop the spread of their evil, and so on and so forth. Basically we live in a town built on a portal to a hell dimension. Buffy is the slayer, and it’s her job to kill demons and keep the portal shut. She, in turn, is controlled by a society of arrogant Brits with authority problems and a serious thirst for power.” Xander gave the Shinigami
a sideways smile, “I guess that it’s kind of a lot to take it, huh?”
Jonathan frowned for a moment, “Actually, that sorta explains some things I’ve seen around here. It’s kinda like that spell last night. As though something didn’t want me to notice what I’d been seeing all along,” Jonathan shakes his head and focuses in on Dawn, “So what does Tres have to say about hunting the hunters?”
Dawn frowned for a moment as she organized her thoughts, “Well, his first point is that we need to change the way that we dress when we go out hunting. He says that dark clothes and jackets should be the order of the day, or rather, night.”
Xander appeared to get the point of that. “So we blend in with the background better, right?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Dawn responded, “but not only that. If we dress like the Vampires do, the priest thinks that normal people would repress seeing us just like they do actual Vampires. He’s trying to figure out if it’s the Hellmouth’s presence that’s doing it, or some sort of area affecting spell, but either way it ought to help camouflage us from human and undead alike,” Dawn waits momentarily for the rest of the group to mull the idea over before continuing.
“Second, he thinks we should do away with ‘those inefficient, ineffective patrols’ and simply stake out, no pun intended, the trouble spots, like the Bronze and the most frequently used graveyards after we take care of the newbies each night. With the six of us, we’ll have every third day off and we’ll have at least decent coverage of the worst areas,”
It was at this point that Jonathan interrupted. “Wait, decent coverage? The worst areas?” he looked at the other three skeptically, “Just how many demons and vampires hang out here anyway?”
Xander and Dawn exchanged glances, both of them running up a mental tally. “Um, in the last year, we’ve done away with a couple hundred vamps and at least seventy demons. Add that to the evil humans who always seem to be popping up, and I’d have to say . . . lots,” Xander answered as Jonathan’s jaw dropped. “And I agree with Dawn. Decent coverage of the bad spots is likely the best we’re going to get, though I’d like to know who the other two people are that Tres is considering part of the group,” Xander requested politely, obviously already knowing the answer.
Dawn nodded her head, apparently expecting the question. “Tres figures that, based on what happened to all of us, we won’t have any way of keeping last night from Buffy,” The cyborg carefully avoided mentioning her mother, “so she and Willow are going to end up wanting to help,”
“Okay,” Amy said, “I can understand that, but you’re just assuming that we’ll all be able to hold our own against vampires and demons. I don’t even know if I have Rukia’s sword skills or magic, much less any of her enhanced physical abilities. Plus my zanpakutō
disappeared when the spell ended last night, so I’m not exactly armed or armored anymore.”
That remark was met with silence for several moments as the others considered what she’d said. Finally, Dawn spoke, “I suppose that we’d have to spend some time working up before hand, and I guess there’s no guarantee that any of you have any more combat abilities than a regular person, but what happened last night and the fact that we all have memories and characteristics of our characters would seem to be a good sign,”
Xander smiled, “In other words, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it,” the others immediately cast glares in his general direction. However, before anyone could say anything about the founding Scooby’s sideways statement, the phone beside Amy rang, startling all of them with the unexpected intrusion.
After nearly fumbling the receiver, she managed to get it to her ear, “Hello?” she asked and immediately pulled the phone away from it. “By the Kami
, Willow, slow down, I can’t understand a word that you’re saying.” A pause as the redhead apparently tried to slow her speech to something a person who wasn’t fluent in Willow-Babble could understand. “Yeah, I’ve seen them. They’re here right now,” Amy again pulled the receiver away from her ear. “They spent the night Willow. No not
like that! We were tired and my place was convenient. Nobody to ask awkward questions ‘cuz my dad’s away on business.” Another pause as she listened to the proto-Wicca. “Yeah, sure, we’ll be there. Okay. Um,” she began before shooting a look at Dawn, “one other thing, ya’ see, there might be some changes
.” Amy once again pulled the receiver away from her ear. “No Willow, nothing like that, just . . . different.” A last few pleasantries were exchanged before Amy, shaking her head in exasperation and looking like she’d run a marathon. When she looked up, she found the eyes of the others pinning her to the chair in an uncomfortable manner. “What?”
Dawn raised her left eyebrow. “So, what did you just agree to? In all of our names nonetheless?”
Amy glared just slightly at the should-be-twelve year old. “She asked if we could be at the library at noon today. Giles is apparently freaking over the spell and who broke it. I figure getting this out of the way early is our best bet.”
“Wait,” Jonathan asked, nervous, “you mean we’re just going to tell them everything?”
Amy turned a disapproving expression on the Shinigami
,“Well, considering that Dawn has apparently aged four or five years in the space of a night, I really don’t see another option.” The others, Dawn included, grimaced to varying degrees. “I figure we tell them what happened, and then try to make the best of it,” she turned to Dawn, “Does your mom know about the weird stuff in this town?” at Dawn’s negative headshake her frown came back. “That’ll be a fun conversation,” she declared authoritatively.
Dawn looked at her and replied monotone, “Thank you, Captain Obvious. So, what’s the plan? We have,” a look at the clock, “twenty minutes to figure it out before we need to leave. Nothing like flying by the seat of our pants.” Everyone simply stared at each other. Even Father Tres was silent in the back of Dawn’s mind. After about thirty seconds of silence, Dawn put her head in her hands and muttered, “I’m doomed,”
Miso: A paste produced by fermenting rice, barley, and soybeans with salt and kōji. The result is used in a number of traditional Japanese dishes, most notably Miso soup.
Kōji: A fungus used to create both miso and soy sauce through the fermentation of soybeans.
Umeboshi: Pickled ume, a fruit similat to the apricot.
Nattō: Made frome fermented soybeans, it is usually seved with breakfast. Frequently with rice.
Tamago kake gohan: Literally, egg sauce over rice. A raw egg, sometimes with soy sauce served over or mixed with rice.
Gaijin: Literally, outsider. Not Japanese.
Kami: An object of worship in the Shinto
only a god/deity.
Daikon: Japanese radish.
Soba: Noodles made from buckwheat flour.
Miyabi: Literally, elegance, refinement, or courtliness. Contextually, one of the traditional Japanese aesthetic ideals.
Hashioki: The chopstick rest
Shōyu: Soy sauce
Zanpakutō: Literally, soul cutter. A Soul Reaper’s weapon
Shihakushō: The black robes that form a Soul Reaper’s uniform.
A cliffhanger! Aren’t I evil? Sorry about the lack of action in this chapter, but I needed to do a general info dump for those of you who don’t know much about the crossovers, and I needed to know, and to let you know, just how much and in what way the four remember Halloween. My beta raised the fact that they don’t seem to be reacting much to the changes that they’ve undergone. My answer is that they’re still somewhat shell-shocked.
If you have any questions feel free to ask them when you submit a review! If you don’t question my thoughts and approach, then I have no way to improve as a writer.
And that’s it. I’m goin’ back to bed.