Disclaimer: See first chapter
Warnings: a little swearing, battles/fights typical of a BtVS fic or Flash comic book.
*** January 26, 1999
The first thing I saw when I woke up was Cordelia Chase.
“It’s about time you woke up, Loser.”
What the hell? What’s she doing here?
I check out my surroundings and I appear to be lying on a bed inside the guest cottage at the Chase estate. That’s right, they’ve got a little guest cottage away from the main mansion. You know, somewhere nice and cozy for visiting friends, or a nice quiet place to bring your date. I have many pleasant memories of this place.
“Cordy, what a joy it is to see you tonight.”
Hey, just because it isn’t true doesn’t mean I shouldn’t say it. Cordy’s not my biggest fan right now so it’s important I lay on some charm. Don’t want this to turn into yet another fight.
“I must admit there are worse sights to wake up too. Let me just say you’re looking particularly beautiful tonight.”
Oh yeah, give her some of the Xander Harris charm and I’ll get out of this with as little pain as possible.
“Oh please, is that the best you could do? Let me make this perfectly clear: I’m always beautiful and I don’t need a useless cheating ex-boyfriend like you to tell me that.”
So that didn’t work. She’s giving me that good old “you’re lower then the crap I wipe of my shoes” look that I haven’t seen since…well since this afternoon actually.
“I mean, especially when you’re just trying to butter me up to avoid explaining why I found you lying beside a dead smoking demon in the cemetery.”
Okay deflection time. Quick throw in a quip.
“Dead smoking demon eh? I guess cigarettes really do kill. Huh, who would a thunk it? I thought that was all just media hype.”
She’s clearly not buying it.
Cordelia Chase is not an idiot. Despite the fact that she’s a cheerleader and hangs around with a bunch of girls that can at best be called clueless or air-headed, she actually does fairly well in school. I mean, she’s no Willow but she’s definitely a step or two ahead of me when it comes to the grades. She’s just been raised in an environment where showing those smarts is frowned upon. Brought up around the flashy cars and expensive parties of the Chase household it’s been hammered in to her from an early age that it’s only important she look pretty and maintain a position among the social elite. So that’s what she shows to the world. She built herself up to be the prettiest and most popular girl in the school and she’s ruled it with an iron fist.
When she first encountered the supernatural she appeared to shrug it off like all the other simple people. Through conversations we had while we were dating I learned she remembered it all. She knew those vamps that attacked at the Bronze were more than just some gang members hopped up on drugs. She remembered me accidentally staking my best friend and she remembers that he crumbled to dust afterwards. But she had an image to maintain. She couldn’t just start talking about vampires or the supernatural. People would think she was nuts. The fruit of her upbringing waged against the realization that there was something more important than social status out there. It took some time fro her to understand the true horrors that she could be faced with though. It took witchy cheerleader moms, nightmares coming to life, and an invisible girl out for her blood but when the crunch time came she risked herself to save others. She risked herself and her status and entered the Scooby Gang, although she kept more to the outskirts than me. The whole trying to keep us a secret and Willow not liking her didn’t help her feel welcome.
Despite all our bickering and insults though, I saw in her a young woman confronted by darkness who chose to help fight rather than walk away. I saw someone who had no special powers or mystical destiny but who cared enough to stand up and fight anyways. And in truth I saw a desire in her to be someone who made a real difference. To not be satisfied with following in her mothers footsteps as some trophy wife but to be someone who helped save the world. Even if it was a little weird and in no way cool.
It was a gradual process for sure but that glimpse of the true Cordelia is what made me start to care for her. I like to think she saw the same thing in me. You know, minus the trophy wife and change it into avoiding becoming a drunk like my parents
“Well, come on loser. What’s going on here?”
Right, she’s still waiting for an answer.
God my head’s killing me.
“Tell you what Cordy. Why don’t you tell me how you found me and then I’ll fill in the blanks from there.”
She gives a little huff of frustration but seems to be willing to go along with it as long as she gets her answers afterwards.
“Whatever. So, I was at the Bronze earlier with Alex. Do you know Alex? He’s the star of the school track team. He took me out for a dinner before hand too. Wasn’t that nice of him? It wasn’t even fast-food which was a nice change for me.”
A pointed look at me and Cordelia Chase earns herself another point. Even her enemies have to admit she’s good at ripping into people.
“We showed up as you were having your little run in with the school psycho O’Toole. Nice handling of that by the way. Could you possibly sink any lower than sucking up and covering for that psychopath? Never mind I honestly don’t care.”
She shoots, and she scores again.
“So after we danced at the Bronze for awhile I decided to call it a night because I need to get up early for an extra cheerleading practice tomorrow morning.”
I take a moment to fondly remember a couple times when she’d dressed up in her cheerleading uniform for me. Ahhh…good times.
“So I was walking home, making sure to keep one hand on my stake and the other on my pepper spray, when I saw a bolt of lightning hit the cemetery and I heard two screams. Now I know that sort of thing isn’t normal so I figured I’d check it out, then call Buffy to deal with it.”
I just couldn’t help but smirk a little.
“You mean Cordelia Chase saw trouble and actually checked it out. Was she truly concerned about someone other than herself?
Okay, that was low. I know she’s better than that. She knows I know she’s better than that. It’s just our way with each other and it’s hard to break.
“Believe me, if I had known it was you I wouldn’t have bothered.”
I think I’ll name this glare the “I wish lightning would fall from the sky and smite Xander Harris” glare. I think it’s an oddly appropriate title.
“So anyway, I carefully checked it out and found you, and what I can only assume is someone from a close branch of the Harris family tree, lying on the ground next to you. Your demonic looking relative was smoking but you looked more or less okay.”
She gave me a look over.
“That is you don’t look much worse than usual.”
She’s sharp that one. I refrain from pointing out that she used to have no problem with the way I looked. No need to go down that road. She’s gotten enough shots in as it is.
“So I called a cab on my cell phone and brought you back here till you woke up. Feel free to fall at my feet in thanks any time now.”
Now it’s time for my properly scathing and witty retort.
“First of all I’d like to quash the rumors that the pile of smoking demon, formerly known as Lucy, is any way related to me.”
She’s giving me a weird look now. She’s probably trying to figure out if I’m actually okay or if something’s popped loose. Cut me some slack. I was just hit by lightning.
“Secondly I’ll have you know that she is a member of a cult of she-demons bent on opening the Hellmouth and bringing about hell on earth. I was valiantly fighting her off before a freak meteorological event interfered.”
“So you were running, it caught you, and then you got saved by a freak quirk of nature.”
Shows what she knows.
“She caught me. Not it. It’s a she-demon. One hundred percent female. Her name was Lucy.”
Now she’s rolling her eyes at me. I’m just trying to be specific here.
“I’m so sorry. So you got beaten up by a girl. Bravo. What were you doing out here by yourself? Shouldn’t Buffy or your precious little witch have been there if you’re getting ready for an apocalypse?”
I try to avoid her eyes but it’s too late. She’s seen the flash of sadness and my momentary hurt expression. She’s sees weakness and attacks.
“Oh my God. You really are the Zeppo aren’t you? The end of the worlds coming and they still don’t want your help. This is hilarious. Not even your best friends want you hanging about.”
She laughing now and I feel myself burning with anger. My friends may not want me to help but that doesn’t mean I’m useless. I know I’m better than they think I am. For some reason I feel more sure about that than I ever have before. Like there’s something on the edge of my mind that, if I could just remember what it was, I could throw it in their faces and show both the Scoobies and Cordelia that I’m not as powerless as they think. It’s just out of reach though. It’s maddening and, in my anger and frustration, I lash out at the only convenient person available.
“Look why don’t you just shut up Cordelia! I’ve had a hard enough night as it is and I don’t have to sit here and take this crap from some spoiled little daddy’s girl. If you’ve got such a problem with me then you can just go to hell! Literally, if you’re willing to wait a few hours.”
If I could take back the words I would. I can see I’ve hurt her with them. I’ve stepped beyond our usual verbal sparring, even though she went there first.
“Don’t forget buddy. I just saved your life.”
All laughter has left her now and she’s gone ice cold as she glares at me. From the fury in her eyes I can only presume that she’s a little bit miffed at my unwillingness to take her verbal abuse tonight. Go figure.
“If I hadn’t dragged your sorry ass out of that cemetery you would probably be dead by now. Who knows what else would have been attracted by your screams, let alone the lightning. You probably would have been sucked dry by some random Dracula wannabe and never woken up again. You owe me buddy so watch the attitude.”
The part of me that knows she’s right stops me from sending another biting retort her way. Time to make peace.
“Look, you’re right. I’m sorry okay. It’s just been a really shitty night so far.”
She looks shocked that I backed down. So shocked that for some reason I decide to tell her what’s happened to me. I tell her all I know about the Jhe demons and their plans. I tell her about Jack and the zombies and about how none of my friends would listen to me when I tried to talk to them. About how they pushed me away and about how pissed off it makes me.
She’s just watching me silently as I talk. She seems to be trying to figure out why I’m telling her everything. It looks like she can’t help from asking either.
“Why are telling me all this. It’s not like I’m your girlfriend any more. Why would I want to know any of the freakish drama that’s going on in your life?”
I sigh and run my hand through my hair. I can see the confusion and hesitancy behind her eyes and I can’t help but wish, yet again, that Willow and I had never fluked.
“I don’t know why I’m telling you all this Cordelia. Maybe it’s because there’s a part of me that hopes you still care even a little bit. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to worry about you telling this to anyone else because they’d think you’re crazy. Maybe it’s also the fact that you’re right. My friends don’t want me around and you’re the only person who’ll listen, even if it’s only to have ammunition to use on me later.”
I drop my head into my hands and begin to chuckle darkly.
“I mean, hell, I don’t even have my uncle’s car anymore because I had to ditch it to get away from the zombie boys while they were cake shopping.”
She lets out a small snort of laughter and I glance up to see her eyes are now filled with laughter and a bit of pity.
“Cake shopping? Why would zombies be looking to buy a cake?”
“Oh no, they weren’t looking to buy one. They just wanted to pick up the ingredients to make one of their own.”
She joins me in laughter and for a moment it feels like things were back the way they once were.
“I mean seriously, what were they thinking? It’s not like they were breaking into a bakery or a grocery store either. How did they think they were going to bake a cake with ingredients from a hardware store anyways? Their zombie brains must have been turning to mush.”
Cordelia is laughing so much at the absurdity of the situation that tears are starting to come out of her eyes. I’ve stopped laughing though. For some reason, when I thought of zombies making a cake from a hardware store an image flashed into my mind. It was strange. I don’t know where it came from but it was like I was looking in a mirror and watching myself. I was wearing the same clothes that I am now but it looked like I was in the basement of the school. It looked like I was in the midst of trying to disarm a bomb. A crudely constructed home made bomb in fact.
I’m sure my face paled and my whole body went cold when it came to me. Jack and his friends weren’t planning on making a cake. They were going to make a bomb. A bomb that they were going to place in the basement of Sunnydale High, right near where my friends would be fighting for their lives to keep the Hellmouth closed. A bomb that, if it was allowed to detonate, would surly kill them and leave the Hellmouth unattended. A bomb that only I, for some reason, knew about.
Cordelia has noticed my silence and appears to be trying to figure out what’s wrong. I can faintly hear her ask what’s the problem is but she’s easily drowned out by the screaming I’m doing inside my head.
I’ve got to get there. If this vision in my head is right I’ve got to be there to disarm the bomb. I look at my watch. It’s almost 11:00pm now and who knows when the bomb will be set to go off.
Without even thinking I get up from the bed and begin heading for the door. I’m ignoring Cordy’s shouts, and demands for explanations. Her words mean nothing though so I just keep ignoring her as I yank open the door and start, first walking quickly, then running as fast as I can away from Cordelia’s and towards the school. I think I hear Cordy yelling one final time a demand for an explanation but I can’t be sure.
I know it’s a good twenty to twenty-five minute run to get to the school from her place normally. I also know that I should have waited and gotten her to drive me there. Either that or at least called ahead to try and warn them. I know all this but for some reason I just keep running.
I keep running as fast as I can towards the school. I can feel that time is running out and that if I don’t get there soon it will be too late. I begin pumping my arms and legs faster and faster. Pushing myself more and more and trying as hard as I can to think myself there faster. Every single part of my being is focused on being at the school immediately. I’m directing all my thoughts on the fact that there is nothing more important then me moving as fast as possible in order to save my friends. I can feel my nerves begin to tingle and before long I feel like I’m being fused with energy and I find myself moving faster than I ever have before. Houses and cars become nothing but a blur as I run by them and before I know it I’ve arrived at the school.
I skid and stumble a bit as I come to a stop at the front doors. My feet feel like they’re on fire and as I look down at them I’m surprised to see they are in fact smoking a little bit. I check out the soles of my shoes and see that the rubber traction on them has melted a little. Weird.
I wonder if there was something I ran over or through that messed them up.
The condition of my shoes becomes a bit less of a mystery though when I turn to check out the path I took to get here.
I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing and I wipe my eyes for a second to make sure I’m not imagining things. There, across the school lawn, where I was just running, is a line of fire. It’s stretching all the way to the street corner and then turning, following the path I took.
I glance at my watch.
Holy shit twice!!
I just made a twenty minute run in under three and I’m not even winded.
I know what’s just happened is strange but for some reason I know that there’s nothing demonic, evil, or Hellmouthy about it. Whatever it was that made me get here so fast was natural and was supposed to happen. I’m sure of it, even if I don’t know why.
Still, there’ll be time enough to figure this out after I’ve disarmed the bomb. I’ll get Giles to look it up in his books and we’ll have it figured out before you can say “Why am I not surprised this happened on a Hellmouth?”
I quickly check the front doors but unfortunately they’re both locked. That really shouldn’t surprise me seeing as it’s so late. I’ll just have to run around and try to find an open door somewhere.
It looks like it’s time for some quick sprinting from entrance to entrance. There has to be an open entrance somewhere.
Ahh, success. Lady Luck is on my side and I’ve found myself a door. I feel like it only took me a few seconds and as I glance at my watch again I’m greeted by the sight of the time changing to 11:04pm. So it was just seconds. Awesome!
The open door is one near the back of the school. It isn’t as visible from the street which is probably why it was chosen. I say chosen because the door isn’t really so much open as it is torn right off its hinges. I guess the demons or the zombies needed an entrance too. How nice.
Using my highly developed skills at tip toeing around, I slip in through the shattered doorway and begin making my way towards the basement entrance. I still don’t have a complete grasp over this newfound speediness so it’s best if I go slowly and carefully.
Whoever came before me obviously doesn’t think much of the school itself. Things have been knocked off the walls and thrown about all down the hallway and I can hear sounds of fighting in the distance.
The she-demons must be the ones who made most of the mess. They must already be in the midst of fighting with the rest of the Scoobies for control of the Hellmouth.
The giant screeching noise that makes me flashback to the night Buffy died is not a comforting sound. It’s possible the Hellmouth is already open which means it’s even more important that I deal with this bomb situation and get back to help.
I guess it’s a good thing I appear to have recently developed some super speed.
I’m off in a flash, forgetting about taking it slow, and racing down the hallway and before long I’m coming to a stop in front of the basement entrance just in time to see Jack and the rest of his zombie gang coming up the stairs with smiles on their faces. Before they can see me I’ve zipped off and grabbed one of the schools conveniently placed fire axes.
You know, in our day and age when school shootings are become more common it’s nice to know the Sunnydale Board of Education is still willing to provide easy access weapons to their students. I mean we’ve got our own obituary section in our newspaper. It’s nice that they’re giving us a chance to fight back.
I’m back with the axe before they’ve left the stairs and, at the speeds I’m moving, they never really had a chance.
The greatest thing I’ve heard about fighting zombies is the fact that they’re already dead. They may feel some pain but when you go to work on them they won’t bleed all over the place. You can hack off their arms and legs without worrying about killing them which makes it easy to keep them out of trouble. That and there’s no pesky guilt over the whole thing cause hey, they’re already dead.
I always wondered if that was true. It is. It’s really quite a satisfying experience. I highly recommend it.
After bringing all the pieces back down into the basement I prop up what’s left of Jack O’Toole against the bomb. I kneel down in front of him and give him a nice wide grin. He’s looking a mite pissed off now.
“You know I’m going to kill you for this Harris. As soon I get my arms and legs reattached you’re going to pay for this. I’ll enjoy killing you so much, I’ll probably bring you back just so I can go to work on you again.”
I smirk at him.
“And how exactly do you think you’ll get out of this situation? You’ll bite my kneecaps off?”
It’s time to explain to him how things are going to go down.
“The problem with your plan Stumpy Jack, is that right now, that thing you’re leaning against, that’s the bomb you guys built. It looks like it going to go off in…” Quick glance at the timer. “…about a minute and thirty seconds. So you have a bit of a problem. You’ve seen the way I move. I’m fast. Certainly fast enough to get away from here before this thing blows up. Of course it would probably be best if I wasn’t weighted down so you’d have to stay here.”
He’s looking mildly uncomfortable now but that could just be the realization that he’s missing all his limbs kicking in.
“Now even though I’m awfully fast, I don’t think I could figure out how to disarm this bomb in the…minute I’ve got left. I might need a bit of help. Do you know anyone who could help me disarm it Jack?”
He’s defiantly sweating now. He’s twitching each time he hears the timer beep and I can see the fear creeping into his eyes. He knows that even as a zombie, if this thing blew, anything at ground zero will be toast including him.
“35 seconds left Jack. I’m goanna leave soon unless I’ve got a reason to stay.”
I stand up and turn to walk away when he apparently makes up his mind.
“Cut the red, then the blue, then the green wire. Nothing but those three.”
“Are you sure?”
He’s lost all semblance of self-control now.
“Yes damn it! The red, the blue, and the green. For the love of God Harris, hurry up and cut them.”
Now it's time to have some fun with him. I zip over, cut the wires and am back in place so quickly he doesn’t even notice.
“I don’t think I believe you Jack. It’s probably best I just save myself.”
I turn and begin to walk up the stairs. I hear his cries of fear and panic, quickly joined by his buddies as they watch their last hope walk away.
I wonder how long it’ll take them to stop yelling and realize the timer isn’t beeping anymore.
I realize I’ve got bigger things to worry about though when I arrive at the library. The Scoobies are currently engaged in a pitched battle against the combined might of the Sisters and the Hellmouth many-tentacled beastie. It looks to be an uncomfortably close fight but thanks to my new found gift of super speed I’m able to take a moment to take everything in. Buffy and Angel seem to be working as a team to fight the Sisters while Willow looks to be trying some sort of chant over by Giles. The old fellow is putting up a good fight and is slashing at the tentacles flailing around him while at the same time making sure nothing disrupts the ritual Willow is working on.
Not bad for an old guy.
Faith is throwing herself at anything she can find with reckless abandon and it’s only her Slayer powers and, admittedly excellent, sword skills which are keeping her alive.
They all have a few wounds. Cuts and scraps and the like although from the way Giles right arm is hanging it’s possible he’ll need to use his left hand to turn the pages in his books for the next little while. They’re doing pretty well for themselves which I find surprising considering they seem to be moving so much slower than normal.
Of course then I realize that it’s not that they’re moving slower but it that I’m now seeing and reacting to everything so much faster than I normally do. Trust me; this speed thing is going to take some getting used too.
A sharp cry of surprise shook me out of my musing though and I had just enough time to sprint to the other side of the room, while weaving through obstacles, and catch Buffy before she could crash into some book cases courtesy of a tentacle smack that caught her by surprise.
I look at her and give her a small smirk while I allow myself to gloat in my triumph.
She’s sounding more than a little confused. Not that I can blame her.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m saving the day Buffy. How about you?”
I know I came off sounding more than a little egotistical there but cut me some slack. I’ve got some flashy new powers now, have saved the day once already tonight and I’m going for a pair.
“You know what, never mind Buff. Why don’t we finish up with these gals and save the questions for another time?”
I set Buffy back on her feet and before she can get a word in edgewise I’m off to the races.
Now, I’ll leave it to Giles and Willow to close the Hellmouth. That’s pretty much out of my hands but I can certainly deal with the demon stooges and get rid of some distractions.
I try the old quick stop and punch in front of one demon but it only leaves her slightly stunned, while I nurse a sore hand. If I’m going to take them out I’m going to have to come up a plan that’s a little more sophisticated than “punch them and send them flying”. I may have some power now but that doesn’t make me physically strong enough to go toe to toe with them. I’d forgotten that.
While consistently dodging the Lucy look-alikes return punches I try to work out a way to use my speed a little differently. Keeping an eye on the big beastie in the middle of the library I realize that I have the perfect means of disposal just waiting to be used.
The Hellmouth monster is just sending it’s tentacles out in any old direction and doesn’t seem to care who it catches. All I have to do I make it so it’s the Jhe demons it snags instead of my friends.
So I begin racing around again, pushing a demon from behind here, tripping someone there, poking one in the eyes and then quickly turning her so and sending her stumbling right into an outstretched feeler and before you know it our favorite Hellmouth monster has pretty much decimated the minions trying to set it free.
With the demons more or less under control Buffy, Faith, and Angel are able to focus on chopping at the tentacles and protecting the spell stuff and Giles is able to join Willow in her spell casting. Before long they manage to close the Hellmouth and put the big bad beastie back to bed.
Job well done by all.
The library is pretty much a mess and I really don’t envy Giles having to come up with an explanation for Snyder in the morning. It probably won’t be a fun time. Speaking of things I’d like to avoid, the rest of the gang appears to be just about ready for some sort of an explanation on what I’m doing here with the ability to move like lightning. Wait a minute…Lightning…I seem to remember something about that. It’s still a little foggy in my head but I almost remember hearing the term “Chosen of the Lightning” somewhere.
Did it mean me and my new gifts?
I can’t remember.
Still, regardless of where it came from I don’t feel like sitting around trying to explain it now. I’ve had a long tiring day and the last thing I want to hear is that I should have stayed out of it because I could have gotten hurt. Time to make a break for it.
“Well you guys all look pretty tired and you did mention you didn’t need me around tonight so I think I’ll just head on home now. Catch up on my shut eye. You guys have fun cleaning up though okay?”
It’s fun to rub things in.
“Xander what have you…?”
I don’t even let Willow finish before I’m out the door. I have no desire to find out how that sentence will end. It’s a much better idea to give them a night to sleep on it before confronting them in the morning.
Oh damn I forgot.
I quickly zip back into the library and speak up before they can say anything.
“Before I forget you guys should probably send someone to clean out the basement tonight. I left a couple dismembered zombies beside a disarmed bomb and we probably shouldn’t leave them around for just anyone to find.”
Everyone’s eyes go wide and I think I see Willow mouth the name “Oz.” before I sprint out of the library and then the school before heading home. I bet whoever goes down there is going to get an earful from Jack. He’s likely to have recovered from his shock and is back to his normal prickly self again.
Ah well, it’s been a good night.
It started off a little rocky but it’s definitely finishing on a high note. I picked up some new powers and saved the day. How could it of possibly gone better?
But still…there’s a part of me that feels like I’m forgetting something.
Oh well. It can’t be that important.