Just How Many Universes Can We Visit?
AN: GAH! It took me forever to come up with something I thought was any good for a new chapter. I am, however, rather pleased with the results. Hope you guys enjoy it. Now, on with the fic!
Chapter 4: Just How Many Universes Can We Visit?
Xander blinked awake as the phone rang. “Hello?”
“Yeah, Oz man.”
“It’s two in the morning.”
“It’s fine.” Xander yawned. “What’s up?”
Xander was very, very quiet.
“Anti-coagulant.” Xander closed his eyes. “Shit! Is she bleeding out?”
“Alright, Oz. I want you to listen to me very carefully. If it looks like Willow’s going to die, I want Buffy to feed her blood straight from the vein.”
“No. Trust me. I got it from a good source that she’ll be fine.”
“Yeah. Later.” Xander hung up. Dammit to hell. No way was he going back to sleep. He looked up at the ceiling. “You guys want me exhausted all the time, it seems. Why is that, I wonder?”
~Maybe they’re brainwashin’ ya?~
~Faith? Where are you?~
~The balcony. Just waitin’ for you guys to wake up.~
Xander felt a pang of guilt. She spent a lot of time alone while they slept.
~Hey, don’t worry about it, X. I’ll survive, ya know?~
~That’s not good enough. No one should simply ‘survive.’~
He felt the mental equivalent of a shrug. ~Don’t know what else to do.~
Xander sighed. ~Guess I’ll have to figure something out. Meantime, I’m gonna take a little trip.~
He just grinned.
“You want to visit the other Willow?” Tara asked.
“Yep. It’s been a while since I saw them, and I need to make sure the other me is doing what he’s supposed to.”
“You mean what you told him to do after you pounded the shit out of him?” Faith smirked.
“Exactly.” Xander returned the smirk. “It’ll only take a couple of days, and I think it’s just what I need right now. A little break from reality.”
Frowning, Tara relented. “I don’t like this… But alright. Make sure you go armed.”
Xander grabbed his axe, and a sword. “My lady, but of course.”
A dark figure watched these proceedings with interest. The young man wanted a break from reality? Well, that could be provided easily. Whether he came back or not, well…
The figure chuckled. This was perfect.
Xander came out of the bedroom with a duffel bag. His weapons were concealed in his duster, as he’d come to learn was a handy piece of clothing.
Now, if he could just get it to billow as he walked…
“So, where are you gonna show up in this other ‘verse?” Faith asked.
“Wherever I am in this one. That’s why I’m heading to the park.”
“Oh.” She nodded. “Makes sense.”
“As much as any of this does.” He agreed.
She pressed a disposable camera into his hands. “Get some good vacation pics, alright?”
He nodded. “Sure thing, Faith.”
Xander looked over his shoulder for what had to be the hundredth time. He could swear someone was following him.
His magic sense didn’t detect anyone. In fact, there didn’t seem to be anyone in the park at all. Convenient, all things considered.
Shrugging, he wrote it off as paranoia.
Now, here’s something Xander wasn’t aware of. When he crossed into the other universe, there was a large build up of power around his person. It didn’t cost him any power personally, he simply took it from the ether.
Here’s something else he didn’t know. In the split second before he disappeared, if someone were to overload that power, he’d be sent somewhere completely unexpected. Since these things wouldn’t be pointed out unless that was going to happen, those details will be skipped.
Suffice it to say, Xander wasn’t where he expected to be when it was all over.
The Dollhouse, Four Universes Over
Xander shuddered. He felt… incomplete. What was… What was missing? He reached out with his connection to Tara and Faith. Even in the Wishverse, he should be able to sense them.
But, wherever he was now, they were gone. That’s what had disappeared! Something had happened, obviously. Something less than expected.
He took his surroundings in. It was a large room, filled with people. None of them seemed to really notice, or care, that he had appeared.
“Are you lost?”
He turned to look at who was speaking to him. It was… Faith?
“I get lost sometimes. Do you need help?”
She shook her head. “No. My name is Echo.”
Echo. Right. Okay. “Echo. Do you know who I am?”
“No. Should I?” She seemed genuinely curious. As if the thought of recognizing someone was totally foreign.
This. Was. Weird.
“I’m guessing no. Where are we?”
“The Dollhouse.” She answered simply.
“Right. The Dollhouse.” He would have asked more, but the unmistakable sound of guns being cocked drew his attention. He turned around. Yep. Armed guards. About… 20. He could handle them, but there might be casualties. Best not to risk it.
“Echo. Do you want to die?”
“Then climb onto my back. I get the distinct feeling you’ll die if you don’t.”
She did as she was told.
“I’m going to teleport us now. We’ll be somewhere else very quickly. Do you understand?”
“Good.” He summoned his power. “Transporto nos domus!”
They materialized in a woodsy area. Clearly, his apartment hadn’t been built here.
“Where are we?” Echo asked.
“Well, I was aiming for my apartment. Looks like I missed.”
“Are we going to stay here?”
“No.” He shook his head. “We’re… going to head for civilization. I can teleport again, easy. But… I don’t know where to go…”
She was silent for a moment. “Where’s closest?”
“LA.” He answered automatically. “Ah! Perfect! Transporto nos ad urbem!”
They appeared in an alley. It was still daytime, so they were safe for now.
“Alright…” Xander muttered. “What now?” That was easy. They needed a place to stay for a while. Wherever he was, this was not
the Wishverse. He doubted Willow and Buffy were available to put him up. Unless… The Buffy back home had a mansion. Maybe he’d get lucky here? It was worth a shot. “Transporto nos ut Buffy!”
Xander felt a terrible wrenching
sensation. When it passed, he wasn’t in LA anymore. He was on a busy sidewalk, somewhere with an overcast sky.
This place was cold. Really cold. And he doubted he’d be able to teleport again today. This was the end of the line for a while.
Xander turned. It was Buffy. “Uh… Yeah?”
“What are you doing here?”
“Don’t you know Willow’s expecting you at the Garden?”
Garden? “As in… Madison Square Garden?”
“Well, duh, Xand. Where else?”
Alright. That told him where he was. New York City. Why was he in New York?
“Um… Buffy, this might sound a bit strange…”
“Stranger than you carrying a girl on your back?”
“… Yes. Why are we in New York?”
“Because… we live here? Have done for a few years? You know, after the fall of Sunnydale.” Her eyes widened. “Hey! You have two eyes!”
This made him take pause. “Don’t I usually?”
“No! Caleb took one!”
Caleb. The man Dawn had warned him about. This was strange. “Uh… Okay. I’m guessing this is the future, or something. What year is it?”
He nodded. “Yep. Definitely the future. About ten years. Although, how I ended up here instead of in the Wishverse…”
“Why would you go there? To meet your vampire self?”
He blinked. “Ooooookay. I’m going to assume the Wish went differently here.” He sighed. “Can we find somewhere warmer? Echo here isn’t even wearing shoes.”
“Should I be?”
Buffy’s eyes widened even further. “Faith?!”
“… And then you found us outside.” Xander finished.
Buffy shook her head. This was… Well, actually, this wasn’t so strange. Sad to say, this was everyday life. “This is so messed up.”
“You’re telling me. Why’d you let Faith end up in that place?”
“Can you let
Faith do anything?” She countered.
“Ah… Good point. Well, unless I start withholding sex. Of course, that takes willpower that I don’t have.”
Buffy looked astonished. “You and Faith have sex in your world?”
“Daily. Several times.”
“Yeah. Her, me, Tara…”
“… I need to sit down.”
“Don’t let the fact that you’re sitting stop you.”
“Good to know.”
Buffy rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Alright… We need all the Scoobies, clearly. I’ll make the calls.”
“Sounds good. Especially since, ya know, I don’t know any of them.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Great… There’s two of them. Again.”
And Xander stared back.
“Parallel world huh?”
“I guess. Doesn’t sound quite right.”
The eyebrow above the eyepatch was raised. “How so?”
“Well, this world is… a little older. It doesn’t run parallel.”
“Riiiiight. Duh. I knew that. Comic book physics.”
Xander smirked. “Exactly. Now, tell me something. I couldn’t get it out of Buffy.”
Alt. Xander shrugged. “I’ll tell you if I can.”
“Why was Buffy so surprised that I’m living with Tara?”
Alt. Xander’s eye closed. “I… I’m not the right person. You should talk to Willow.”
Xander sighed. “Fine… At least she’s not a vampire here.”
“Vampire? Is she wearing that leather outfit?”
Xander shrugged. “No idea. She lives in LA.”
“Huh. What about Deadboy? Shouldn’t he be running the show out there?”
Xander shook his head. “That’d be hard considering he’s dead.”
“As in permanently?”
“I thought so. Buffy’s out there with her. So’s Cordy and Oz, along with a couple others. I only met Wesley in passing, and they’ve got this other guy… I think his name’s Doyle.” He smirked. “Oh, and the cop…”
“Cop?” This caught Alt. Xander’s interest. “What cop?”
“This cop Buffy’s dating.”
“Is he trustworthy?”
“It’s impossible for him
to be trustworthy if he isn’t a him.”
“Dude, you okay?”
“The cop… Is…”
“A hot blonde chick.” Xander smirked. “Let me tell ya, Happy Visual Place.”
The other Scoobies chose that moment to arrive. Willow was the first through the door. “Okay! We’re here, Buff!” She saw the two Xanders. “Toth again?”
“Nope.” Buffy came in from the next room. “Alternate world.”
“Ah.” Willow nodded. “You’ve got a double of your boyfriend, then.”
Xander blinked. “Say that again?”
Alt. Xander blushed. “Uh… We’ve been dating for about two years…”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Why do I keep finding everyone paired up in weird ways when I take these trips? Next thing you’ll tell me, Willow’s dating Cordelia.”
Willow shrugged. “No. She’s not really my type. A bit bossy. Although…” She poked her head out the door. “Sweetie, get in here! We’ve got double Xanders again!”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming!”
Xander froze. He knew that voice. He’d heard it about a week ago.
Dawn came into the room.
Xander’s jaw dropped. “Holy… What the hell?!”
She gave him an appraising look. “He’s younger. Younger than me, even.”
Xander shook his head. “That’s it… No more travelling. I’m staying in MY Sunnydale until I die. I can’t take this. Willow… and Dawn…
“What, I’m not bi where you come from?” Dawn smirked.
“Well, you do seem to like Tara’s breasts. Although, that’s probably from hunger.”
Xander sighed. This was confusing. “Okay… Explain your relationship to everyone here, please. Then I’ll explain.”
Dawn shrugged. “Well, you know about me and Willow. I’m Buffy’s sister. You’re my friend. Giles is my father figure… Did I miss anyone?”
Willow shook her head. “No, I think you covered it.”
Xander sat down, hard. “Buffy’s sister?”
“Well, technically I’m the Key, but they made me out of Buffy, so…”
Xander held up his hand to cut her off. His head was swimming, just a bit.
Alt. Xander sat down in front of him. “I’m guessing things are different for you?”
“That’s a big yes… Uh, okay. Back home, Willow is dating Oz. Buffy’s an only child. Dawn is the daughter of Tara McLay and myself. And Faith somehow, but that’s because of magic.”
Once again, dead silence.
“How do you think I feel?” He half grinned at them.
“You… and Tara?” Both Willow and Dawn had pained expressions on their faces.
“Why does everyone keep reacting that way?” Xander demanded. “I mean, seriously, did she hate me here, or something?”
“Ah, no…” Willow took a deep breath. “It’s just… We were together for a while. Until she died.”
He blinked. “Died?” They nodded. “How?”
“A guy named Warren Mears. He tried to shoot Buffy, about… seven years ago. One of the shots went wild, and…”
Xander ran his hand through his hair. That was… not what he had expected. “I… I see. Well.” He cleared his throat. “Let’s talk about something, or should I say anything
Buffy nodded. “Right. Like, how do we get you home?”
He shrugged. “No idea. I’m not sure how I get to the Wishverse in the first place. The demon who gave me the power never really went into detail.”
“You’re taking it well.” She observed.
He grinned. “If I know Tara and Faith, they’ll string Willy up by his nose hairs the second I’m late coming home. Assuming they’re not aware of a problem already.”
Buffy nodded. “Right. Well, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything.”
“Oh, absolutely. Right after we fix Faith. Cause, this Echo thing? Creepy.”
“True… Right we fix that first.”
He nodded. “Cool. Just direct me to your books.”
Willow, Dawn, and Alt. Xander all snorted. “You research?”
“Well, yeah. Doing magic tends to require that.”
Willow’s eyebrows shot up. “You do magic
“Frequently. You’d be amazed how many things you can find a use for it. Like this.” He cleared his throat. “Locus Terra!”
An image of Earth appeared in front of him, a red light appearing on New York. “Pretty cool, huh?”
Willow looked unnerved. “Uh… You don’t use magic for trivial things… Do you?”
He shrugged. “Define ‘trivial.’”
“Like… Decorating, or cooking. Everyday things?”
He laughed out loud. “What?! Do you think I’m suicidal, or something? Anyone who’s read ‘Celora’s Compendium’ knows better than to do that.”
“You never read it?” She shook her head. “It’s a basic magical text. Has instructions for cleansing rituals, and such. It’s all about control. I found it in the library during Junior Year.”
Willow furrowed her brow. “I don’t think we had that.”
“Had what?” Giles’ voice came from the door. “Sorry I’m late. One of the Slayers was having trouble with a Tubilack demon. What was it we didn’t have?”
“Oh, yes. I had that on back order when you were all in school. After the explosion, it slipped my mind.” He paused. “Two Xanders again?” They nodded. “Right.”
The next day or so went by at a snail’s pace. Everyone searched for a way to restore ‘Echo’, but no one was having much luck.
Echo, for her part, took it all rather well. She simply accepted everything at face value, something the junior Slayers took advantage of more than once. Well, before Buffy got ahold of them.
That was something else Xander was amazed at. So many Slayers! It boggled his mind. He begged Willow for details on how it was done, but she refused. According to her, they’d given him too much information as it was.
Although this frustrated him, he conceded to her logic. If things didn’t happen a certain way, it could get worse for them later on. As much as he wanted to know, he stopped asking questions.
On the second morning of Xander’s residence in this new world, Buffy found him pouring over ancient books, smoking like a chimney. “Since when do you smoke?”
He looked up, and grinned. “Only when I’m concentrating, or really pissed off.” He took a long drag, and let the smoke out through his nose. “What can I do you for?”
Buffy shrugged. “Just checking in. Willow hasn’t found anything.”
He sighed. “Sadly, neither have I. You’d think there would be a magical precedence for removing someone’s personality. Suppressing it, certainly. Breaking it, absolutely. But total removal? Nada.”
“Huh. Well, that sucks.”
“You’re telling me.”
“It’s too bad you can’t just break in there and steal it back.”
Xander’s head shot up. “Say that again?”
“I said it’d be nice if you could steal her personality back.”
Xander’s face now wore a grin. Anyone on the receiving end of it would have prayed for a quick death.
“What are you thinking, Xander?” Buffy asked, eyebrow in the air.
“Oh, nothing you need to concern yourself with, Slayer.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m so sure… Try not to kill anyone, okay?”
His hand flew over his heart. “You wound me, Buff. I don’t have to kill anyone for this.”
“Alright, Will. You understand what I need?”
The redhead nodded. “I think so. I just have to use a locator spell. Simple enough.”
Xander nodded. “Right. Well, two of them. The second one needs quite a bit of detail.”
She nodded. “Yeah. We’ll do that one first.” She closed her eyes, pulling her power to the forefront. Her red locks lightened, just a bit. “Reperio sessio of vox. Dico mihi quis Ego postulo scio.”
Xander grabbed a pen and a pad of paper. The next few words were of vital importance.
“44.7 Terrahurtz…” She muttered. “They use… Copper. And… Cow’s blood…”
He grunted. Strange. Using blood as a conductor. Innovative, to say the least. “Alright, Wills. That’s enough. Rest for a moment.” He went to the door of the room they were occupying. “Buff, we’re going to need a decent amount of copper and cow’s blood.”
“Yeah. ASAP, okay?”
“You got it.”
He went back to the witch. “Do you need more rest?”
Willow shook her head. “No. I’m good. The last spell is pretty easy.” She took a deep breath, joining her hand with Xander’s. “Reperio mens.”
In his mind’s eye, Xander saw a computer filled with hard drives. Each contained a personality matrix.
Locating Faith’s was easy. Both of them knew her fairly well, and her personality tended to stick out. Once it was located, Xander summoned it. “Addo mens.”
The hard drive appeared in his open hand. He grinned. “Easy as pie.”
Echo sat still, as Xander had told her to. He was placing a circle of copper onto her head, coating it with blood as he went. Any normal person would have at least questioned these actions. She just sat there.
“Alright.” Xander let out a breath as he finished. “That should do it…”
“Are you sure about this, Xander?” Buffy asked. “I mean, this is Faith we’re talking about…”
“I know. And no, I’m not 100% sure. 85, 90%. That’s better than a Scooby normally gets.”
“He’s got a point, Buff.” Alt. Xander said softly.
“Oh, shut up…” She sighed. “You’re just agreeing with him cause he’s you.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Can we move on, now?”
No one objected.
Nodding, he picked up the hard drive, and put his other hand at the back of the ring.
Electricity sparked between his hand and the metal.
Another spark. Followed by another, somewhat larger.
Electricity flowed freely. Echo’s eyes squeezed shut. It was… a bit painful.
Both Xander and Echo let out primal screams. Echo was feeling something shoved into her mind, something that hadn’t been there in months.
Xander was channeling it, feeling everything that made this version of Faith what she was.
The process seemed to have no end. As far as either of them were concerned, an eternity was spent right there.
Finally, it was over. Xander fell to the ground, completely spent. He wasn’t even aware of falling.
Faith, meanwhile, blinked as she took in her surroundings. “What the fuck?”
Buffy took a step forward. “Faith?”
The Dark Slayer shook her head, disoriented. “Yeah… B? What’re you doin’ here? Where is
“My apartment. In New York.”
Something clicked in her brain. “New York? I’m supposed to be in Cali. How’d I get here?”
Buffy sighed. “That’s a bit of a story. We’ll discuss it later. What happened to you?”
Faith sighed in return. “Well, the Law caught up with me in Boston. Someone recognized me, and decided to call the cops. I got away, but I was on the run. Somehow, I wound up back in Sunnydale, or what’s left of it. Someone built a company there, called Dollhouse. They said if I worked for ’em for five years, they’d get rid of my record.”
Buffy shook her head. “You know we’d take care of that, Faith. We’ve got the pull, we can do it.”
Faith shrugged. “Didn’t want ya to know about it…”
Alt. Xander shot her a one eyed glare. “After all these years, you don’t think we’ll find out anyway?”
She smiled. It was a small smile, but it was there. “Guess you’ve got a point.” Removing the copper crown from her head, she looked behind the chair she was sitting in. “Hey, who’s the kid?”
Buffy smirked. “That’s part of the long story.”
Xander’s eyes shot open, and he sat up very suddenly. ~Tara! Faith! Where are you?!~
His mind quickly supplied the answers. He took several steadying breaths. “Right. I’m cut off from them. Gotta fix that.”
“Cut of from who?” A smoky voice asked.
“The one and only.” She gave him her trademark smirk.
He laughed. “I beg to differ. I doubt you’ll sleep with me if I asked.”
The smirk widened. “Play your cards right…”
He shook his head. “No, thanks. My Faith would have my head on a platter.” He looked at the clock. 4:26. He’d been out for eight hours. “Been here long?”
“Just since about midnight. B told me what you did. I wanted to thank you.”
He shrugged. “No big. You’re Faith. I couldn’t do any less.”
She smiled at him. “I don’t think it’d really matter who I was.”
He laughed. “True enough. Honestly, I want to go take down that whole operation, but…”
“But what, Stud?”
He sighed. “I can feel myself weakening. I’m Earth-Bound to Tara and Faith, back home. Since none of us are dead, I’ve managed to last this long. Too much longer, though…”
“And you become a corpse?”
“Only in the literal sense.”
She nodded. “Don’t worry about it, X. We’ll take care of the Dollhouse. Red can work her mojo on everyone there.”
He sighed. “I hope so. The spell I used is fairly simple, even if it takes quite a bit of power.” He winced as he moved. “And more than a little exhausting.”
“You need more sleep?”
He shook his head. “Nah. I’m usually up by now. I just need some coffee.”
“You like Starbucks? I can get ya a cup.”
He smiled. “Sounds great. I need a little more than my daily dose of caffeine.”
After several more days’ research, Willow stumbled upon what had happened to Xander. From there, a solution was fairly simple.
Xander managed to fill the disposable camera his Faith had given him, mostly with pictures of the Scoobies, and the mini Slayers. Everyone was more than willing to pose, especially when they found out they’d be seen in another world.
Xander taught Willow a few spells, like his sharpening spell, and the cleansing ritual. He also pulled Buffy aside for a very important conversation.
“Okay, listen Buffy. This doesn’t go beyond the Scoobies.”
“Sure, Xand. What is it?”
He took a deep breath. “You should think about getting turned.”
“Well, I guess I can… Wait, what?”
“You should think about getting turned. As in, by a vampire.” At her look, a mixture of shock and disgust, he continued. “Look, it’s obvious to me that being a Slayer has made you more or less ageless. You look almost identical to my Buffy. A year or two older, maybe, but not a full decade like you should. Faith’s the same. But, at the same time, you’re vulnerable.”
“And being turned into a vampire would help… How?”
He smirked. “You’ll be almost unstoppable. I say almost because I’ve killed a Slayer Vampire, and I’m sure there are upper limits to their power. We just haven’t found them yet.”
“I don’t know…”
He held up a hand. “Look. Just think about it. Talk to the others, except for Xander. Once he gets the details, he’ll beg you to do it. Anything to keep his girls safe. You’ll keep your soul, if that’s what’s worrying you. And you can turn normal humans into vampires. They’ll be a cut above your average Demonic Breed vampire. Just… Don’t turn another Slayer. I’m not sure what happens, but Slayers have to be turned by a normal vamp.”
She nodded. “I’ll think about it. No promises.”
“That’s all I ask.”
“You have everything?” Willow asked.
Xander nodded. “Looks like it.”
Alt. Xander shook his double’s hand. “I’d tell you to stay out of trouble, but…”
“It’d be wasted breath?” Xander smirked. “Yeah. I know. ‘Be careful’ wouldn’t do much good, either.”
“How about… Stay alive as long as possible?”
This surprised a laugh out of Xander. “Works for me. And the same goes for you. Oh, and one other thing…” He put his hand on Alt. Xander’s head. There was a flash of light, and the older man stumbled back. Xander smiled as he felt the three personalities in Alt. Xander merge. “Just a parting gift. I think you’ll find it useful.”
“Uh… Yeah. Sure thing.”
Xander nodded. “Right. Willow, you ready?”
“Okay. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I don’t see any of you again. This kind of trip is a little disorienting.”
“Feeling’s mutual, X.” Faith grinned. “Hope you make it home okay.”
“Thanks.” He took a breath. “Okay. Let’s do it.” He focused on going home. Willow sensed the power build-up, and overloaded it. Xander disappeared in a twinkle of lights.
Xander found himself in the same apartment, except it was empty. However, his connection to the girls was back with a vengeance. “Yeah!” He teleported home.
No one was at the apartment, so he went looking for the girls. He found them, as he’d expected, beating Willy for information.
“Ladies, as much fun as it is to beat the little man, you might want to let up. We do need him alive.”
Two voices cried out in unison. “XANDER!” They tackled him, knocking him to the floor.
None of them spoke for a few moments, communicating through the link. All the emotion they’d built up over the past few days came out in full. If it had been expressed in words, it would have been along the lines of ‘I missed you!’ ‘I missed you too!’, along with copious amounts of tears.
When they stood again, Xander grinned. “So, what’d you guys get up to while I was gone?”