Disclaimer: BTVS belongs to Joss. The Dead Zone belongs to Stephen King.
In one universe, the butterfly didn’t beat it’s wings. Xander and Willow ‘Fluked,’ and were caught by their significant others. We all know how that story went. It’s been told.
Let’s look at what happens when the butterfly did
flap it’s wings.
Willow pounded against the basement door with her shoulder, letting out a good grunt each time. After several hits, she heard Xander moan below. She ran down to the bed, cradling his bloodied head.
“Xander? Are you okay?”
He tried to sit up. “Dizzy.” He winced. “Kind of nauseous, too. Do I remember having a fight with Spike?”
He reached up to feel the wound on his head. His fingers came away with semi-dried blood. “I won, right? Kicked his ass?”
She smiled at him. “You were real brave. Do you need to barf?”
“No, I'll be okay.” He looked around. “Where are we?”
“The factory. We're locked in the basement.”
“That burnt-out place in the middle of nowhere? So we're pretty much in a 'scream all you want' scenario.”
“Pretty much.” She agreed sadly.
“Why didn't he just kill us?”
Willow looked nervous. “He-he wants me to do a love spell.”
“Drusilla broke up with him.” She explained.
“Gee, and we had all hoped those crazy kids would make it work.” Xander quipped.
“He's out of control. I mean, not that he was Joe Restraint in the old days.”
“So what are our options?” He asked. He tried to sit up again, but only felt pain for his trouble.
“Well, I figure either... I refuse to do the spell and he kills us, or I do the spell and he kills us.”
“Give me a third option.”
“He's so drunk he forgets about us, and we starve to death. That's sort of the best one.”
“Will, we're not gonna die.” He took Willow’s hand, pulling himself up. “If he's so drunk, he'll get sloppy, and then I'll make my move.” They collapsed back onto the bed. “As long as my move doesn't involve standing up or using my limbs, we'll be okay.”
It was then that they noticed just how close they were. Their lips were only an inch apart, at most. Xander started to close the gap… Then clutched his head in pain. After a few seconds of screaming, he passed out.
Xander’s eyes fluttered open. The first thing he noticed was that he wasn’t in the basement. That was a definite improvement. At first glance, he was guessing a hospital room.
He looked to his left. There was a window. The sun was either going down or coming up. He wasn’t sure which. He looked to his right. Cordelia was sleeping in a chair. He tried to sit up quietly, but his muscles were weak. A groan escaped his lips.
Cordelia’s head snapped up, her eyes wide open. “Xander! You’re awake!” She bolted over to him, pulling him into a hug. She kept chanting “ohthankgodohthankgod.” under her breath.
He hugged her back. “I’m… glad to see you too, Cordy.” His voice didn’t sound right. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was just… off. As if he hadn’t spoken for a long time. “How’s Willow? Did you get Spike?”
She pulled back, confused. “What? Oh, right. Willow’s fine. Spike got away again. Uh… Stay here, okay? The doctor said to tell him if you woke up.” She ran out of the room.
Xander lay back on the bed. It hurt to try and sit up for long.
Cordy returned quickly, a doctor in tow.
“Hello, Mr. Harris. I’m Dr. Maynard. Do you know where you are?”
“Well, your badge says Sunnydale Memorial, so I’ll go with that.”
Maynard laughed. “Alright. Where is Sunnydale?”
“California. Or the U.S.A., if you want to go more general.”
“Good. What year is it?”
“The month and date?”
Maynard nodded. “Good. You seem to have come through intact.” He turned to Cordelia. “I’ll leave you to it.” He left.
“Boy. You just can’t deny the use of a good doctor. They know the months by heart.” Xander quipped. He sobered at Cordy’s expression. “What’s wrong?”
“Xander… It’s not November. And it’s not 1998.”
“What? Yes it is.”
She shook her head. “No. That’s when you were kidnapped.” She took a deep breath. “You’ve been in a coma for a month and a half. It’s January 13th, 1999.”
Xander couldn’t believe it. Two months. Gone. But, he supposed it could have been worse. He could have slept for five years, or something.
His muscles were next to useless now, and he also learned that his left leg had been permanently damaged, most likely in his fight with Spike. He’d walk with a limp for the rest of his life.
His physical therapy actually went well, all things considered. He was walking unassisted within a week, and if it hadn’t been for the constant exams they wanted on his brain, he’d have been gone at that point. However, they had discovered something strange.
“Basically, this part of your brain is dead.” Dr. Maynard was holding up an MRI of Xander’s brain. A piece of his… Something-or-other had apparently died off. It was the part that controlled visual perception. He now had difficulty with the ‘where’ of things.
“Huh. Okay. So… Now what?”
“Well, nothing, really.” Maynard shrugged. “It’s not life-threatening, so we can just leave it as is. You’ll be a bit more prone to neurological conditions now, so I’d recommend getting checked every six months, or so.”
Xander nodded. “Alright. Can I go now? As in, home? I’ve seen enough of this hospital to last me a lifetime.”
Maynard laughed, and nodded. “Certainly.” He held out his hand. “Good luck, Mr. Harris.”
Xander shook the proffered hand. As soon as he came into contact with it, images assaulted his mind.
Maynard as a boy, playing with a golden retriever.
Maynard as a young man, taking a test in school.
Maynard as an older man, getting his Ph.D.
Maynard in a tuxedo, reading his vows to his wife-to-be.
Xander pulled back quickly. “Holy shit!”
“Are you alright?” Maynard asked, concern evident on his face.
Xander shook his head, trying to clear the images away. “Uh… Fine, I think. Why did you name your dog ‘Arnold’?”
Maynard took a step back. “How did you know that? I haven’t had that dog since I was-”
“Nine, I know. Don’t ask me how, but I know. I… I just sort of got it when you shook my hand.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Xander regretted them. This would give Maynard an excuse to hold him even longer.
However, luck was smiling on Xander just then. Maynard’s Sunnydale Syndrome kicked in. “Strange. Must have had something to do with static electricity. I think I read about that somewhere.”
Xander went back to school soon after that. To his surprise, he was no longer the subject of ridicule he once was. In fact, no one seemed to realize he existed. He supposed it had something to do with his long disappearance. People vanished all the time in Sunnydale, and were quickly forgotten.
Another strange happenstance were his grades. They were improving drastically. He didn’t think he was putting any more effort into the work, but somehow things were coming more easily to him. A little time on the computer told him that, while coma patients usually drop a few I.Q. points, there were documented cases of increases in their intelligence.
Xander was contemplating these things, when he bumped into someone. “Excuse me.” He tried to go around.
A hand grabbed the front of his shirt. Xander was brought around to face Jack O’Toole, the most psychotic student at Sunnydale High. “You a retard, or somethin’?”
Xander shook his head. “No, just a cripple.” He held up the cane he now used.
O’Toole snatched it. It was well crafted, made of oak with a candy-apple-red finish. “This isn’t somethin’ you use when you just pull a muscle.” He observed.
“No.” Xander agreed. “It was my grandfather’s. My mother gave it to me after I got out of the hospital.”
O’Toole looked at him. “Hospital? What for?”
“Got into a fight with a few gang members. Took a sharp one to the head, and apparently my leg. I was out for two months.”
O’Toole’s eyes widened. He knew exactly what ‘gang members’ meant. He handed the cane back to Xander. He might not like the twerp, but he had to respect him. “Take it easy. Don’t need to make yourself worse.” He stepped out of the way.
Xander nodded, and continued on to his next class.
O’Toole shook his head. He’d been planning to have a little fun that night. But it was common knowledge that Harris was the weakest of his little group. If he could take on a ‘gang member’ and survive, things in this town were getting a little too interesting for his taste.
Maybe he’d just stay in. Catch the new episode of ‘Walker.’
After school, Xander headed for the library. He’d told Giles about what happened with Dr. Maynard, and he was hoping for a little information.
As he entered the room, he caught the tail end of a conversation between Buffy, Willow, and Giles. “… And then the Hellmouth will open. This sisterhood is quite organized. I don't think this will be one of your easier battles, Buffy.”
The Slayer shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, Giles. I can handle it.”
Xander walked further into the room. “Opening the Hellmouth, huh? Sounds fun.”
The three of them looked up from the table. “Oh. Xander. When did you arrive?” Giles asked.
“Right around the bit with an open Hellmouth, and a sisterhood. Anything I can do to help? I’m actually able to research now, even if this” he held up his cane. “Leaves me on the sidelines.”
“No, this is pretty open and shut.” Buffy shrugged. “Giles barely even had to crack a book open. The hard part is stopping it.”
Xander nodded. “Right on. Oh, and speaking of research. Giles, did you get any info for me?”
“Hmm?” The librarian asked, distracted. “Oh, yes. I believe the phenomenon you described was Psychometry. In layman’s terms, you received a psychic impression from physical contact with the doctor. In theory, you should be able to do this with any person, or object.”
Xander took a moment to process the information. He looked down at his cane. Any person or object…
He held the cane in both hands, and closed his eyes. He let his mind go blank, just feeling the wood in his hands.
Private Alexander Lavelle moved up Normandy beach, rifle in hand. He ran for cover, firing at the towers in front of him. One of his buddies, Eric, ran farther ahead. Private Lavelle tried to stop him, but wasn’t fast enough. Eric stepped on a land mine, sending a piece of shrapnel into Lavelle’s leg.
Xander gasped. His eyes shot open.
Willow was at his side in an instant. “What? What did you see?”
“Grandpa Lavelle… On D-Day. He was in Sector Juno. A friend of his hit a mine… Right in front of him.”
“Good lord.” Giles looked fascinated. “Did anything happen to your grandfather?”
“How do you think I got the cane?”
Xander looked at the strong piece of wood with newfound respect. He got the distinct impression that Grandpa Lavelle had connected that memory with the cane. The old man’s limp, which was the only thing Xander really remembered about him, must have been a constant reminder of what happened to Eric.
“Well…” Xander cleared his throat. “If you won’t be needing me, I’ll just go. All this standing is starting to make my leg twitch.” He turned, limping toward the door.
Buffy almost couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The Xander she knew would have done everything to try and stay on the team. This new reaction worried her. “Xander, wait!” Buffy ran up to him. “We still need you. You’re… You’re Xander. How can we do this without you?”
He sighed. “I’m useless in a fight, Buff. You said it yourself, you’ve got the research angle covered this time around. All I’ll do is get in the way.” He looked her in the eye. “It’s okay. Really. If I was whole, I’d probably be fighting tooth and nail. But I’m not. I’ve got a bum leg, and messed up depth perception. I might be able to work around them someday, but not by… When is this apocalypse happening?”
Buffy looked at the floor. “Tonight.” She admitted.
“See? It’s going to take time. I have to relearn everything.” He lifted her face up to look at him. He smiled. “You can handle this, Buff. You’ll see. Tomorrow, the world will still be spinning, and all the happy denizens on it will have no idea how close it came to stopping.”
She gave him a grateful smile. “Thanks, Xander.”
He nodded. “Good luck.” He turned, and went out the door.
He got to the exit of the school, when he heard two voices just outside.
“Oh, come on. You can’t tell me never.”
“What do you think I am, Faith. A slut? I’m not just going to give it up.”
“Yeah, but your boy’s been in a coma since November. You musta gotten the itch. I get waitin’ for him, but he’s awake now!”
He heard Cordy sigh. “Look. We didn’t do it before, and I don’t know when we’re going to do it now.”
“Hah! You said when. You’re plannin’ on it. Maybe as a break up thing? Give him the Sympathy bone?”
Xander decided to rescue his girlfriend. He opened the door. “You should know better, Faith. Everyone knows Cordy doesn’t feel sympathy.”
While Faith was looking at him, Cordelia sent Xander a thankful look. After a second, she spoke. “Oh, shut up, dork.”
Xander just grinned, and limped over to them.
Faith looked nervous. “Listen, X. I didn’t mean anything by what I was sayin’.”
“I know Faith.” He patted her shoulder. “You’re fi-” His hand tightened on the shoulder. His eyes slammed shut.
Ten-Year-Old Faith. Her mother lays on the couch, more alcohol in her system than the average bar. Faith cries, but knows she won’t be able to get her mother up before noon the next day, at least.
Fourteen-Year-Old Faith. She’s just been told she’s a potential Slayer. Her new watcher, Diana Dormer, is taking her away from her mother. Faith is happier than words can express.
Normally, Xander would have let go at this point. However, something unexpected happened. A new kind of images hit him. He knew they weren’t memories. These were different. Less tangible.
Buffy and Faith out on patrol. They’ve just killed a large demon and his minions. They’re running high on adrenaline. Someone steps out from the shadows, grabs Faith by her shoulder. She whips around, and stakes him. Too late, she realizes that her target is human.
Driven by guilt, and a belief that the Scoobies will abandon her, Faith goes to the Mayor. He’s planning to turn himself into a demon. Faith becomes his right hand.
Faith and Buffy fighting on a roof. They’re struggling over a dagger. Buffy manages to get it, and stabs Faith. Faith falls off the roof.
Xander fell away from Faith, collapsing. Both girls rushed to help him.
“What happened, Xander?!” Cordelia practically shouted.
He blinked, still a bit dazed. “I’m… not sure.” He stood, somewhat shakily. “I… I saw something.”
“Like with the doctor?” She asked.
“Sort of… Except not. I saw her past. Just snippets, like with Maynard. Then… I saw something else. I think it was…” He shook his head. “No. It’s not possible.”
Faith snorted. “Come on, X. We live on a portal to hell, and fight vampires
every night. ‘Impossible’ ain’t in our vocabulary.”
Well, when you’re right, you’re right. “I think I saw the future.”
Thanks to Xander’s warning, Faith didn’t kill the deputy mayor. He warned them about the Mayor, and they were able to eliminate him quickly. Faith had the pleasure of dusting Trick, Kakistos’ former minion.
Faith proved to be a valuable companion in the fight against the darkness. With her help, the local demonic activity dropped to almost nothing on the Hellmouth.
Faith and Buffy both helped Xander work around his disabilities. By the time they were done with him, he was deadlier than most martial artists on the planet. He also carried a new cane. It came apart at the middle, revealing a sharp wooden point.
A month after the Mayor was taken out, Xander and Cordelia lost their virginities. Lucky for Xander, with each other. She’d have killed him otherwise.
Two days before graduation, he asked her to marry him. She turned him down, saying “We don’t know how much longer we’re going to live. I’m willing to spend the rest of my life with you, but I can’t handle something like a wedding if you’re going to get your head cut off the next day!”
Willow wrapped Xander up in a bear hug. Well, as close as the petite redhead could come to a bear hug. “I’ll miss you, Xander.”
He returned the embrace softly. “Me too, Will. I’ll write, okay? And I’ll try to make it back for Christmas.”
She pulled back, and swatted him. “You’d better do more than try! It’s my first year to do the Snoopy dance! I need you for moral support!”
He laughed. “You got it.”
She smiled. “Oh, before you go… Give me a reading?” She had a hopeful look in her eyes.
He nodded, and took her hand.
Willow and Oz at college.
Oz with a blonde… No, a werewolf. They’re in a cage. They transform. They mate.
Willow heartbroken. The blonde is dead. Oz leaves.
Xander almost cut it off right there to give her a warning, but then the next image came.
Willow at a Wicca group. Most of them seem to be fakers, but one of them is sincere.
Willow and the other witch sitting on a bed, playing with a cat. The witch’s name is Tara.
Willow and Tara. Still on the bed. With no clothes.
Willow sitting at the Espresso Pump with Tara, looking utterly content. Ten times happier than she had been with Oz.
Willow overusing magic. Tara trying to stop her. They break up.
Willow almost dies in a car crash. She swears off magic.
Tara and Willow in each other’s arms. Willow’s been forgiven. A stray bullet comes through the window. Tara dies in Willow’s arms.
Willow. With dark hair. She has the shooter tied between two trees. She skins him alive.
Xander’s eyes opened. He felt something trickling on his lip. He wiped it. His hand came away bloody. “Guess I need some practice before I do the long-term reads.”
“Are you okay?”
“Well… What did you see?”
He almost answered. But then, Tara’s face came to mind. She would make Willow happy. Supremely happy. He couldn’t interfere with that. “I can’t say, Will. Not yet. Nothing will go wrong for a while, but I’ve got to keep the info to myself until just before. Otherwise, it might end up worse. Okay?”
She looked disappointed, but nodded. “Okay. Thanks, Xander.”
He smiled. “Any time, Will.” He picked up his bag, and headed for the waiting bus. He’d said his good-byes to Giles and the Summers clan the day before, so Willow was the only one who came to see him off.
As he approached the bus, the gorgeous brunette next to it smiled. “Ready, Dweeb?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” He shifted his grip on the bag. “You sure about this? LA is a pretty big town.”
She nodded. “I’m sure. If I intend to get into acting, this is the best way. Besides, it’s away from the Hellmouth. There’s got to be way
fewer vampires there, right?”
He chuckled. “I hope so.”
AN: Well, I enjoyed writing this. I hope you've enjoyed reading it. I'm considering the possibility of a sequel... Any thoughts?