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Summary: What if Jesse was turned a year earlier? What would happen with no slayer around? Who would step up and stand against the darkness?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Pairing: Other HetdazzlarFR18228,850137411,6659 May 0930 Jun 09No

The First Step Into A Much Larger World

Human Potential

AN:- This story starts off in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and will crossover into Stargate. There will be visits to The Adept book series, Vampires, Aliens and Predator movies.

Disclaimer:- I don’t own these worlds; I’m just playing in them. I’m not making any money from this story so relax. You might consider it free advertising though.

Summary: - What if Jessie was turned a year earlier? What would happen with no slayer around? Who would step up and stand against the darkness?

Canon differences: - Xander was into fantasy novels, games and movies, not comic books. Willow was likewise into sci-fi. Xander was not physically abused by his parents. The magic system will be a little different and so will the vampires and demons.

Thankyou to my betas – Adam and Reyad. Without your input, this would be pretty rough.

Chapter 1 – The First Step Into A Much Larger World

September 1996

It was close to midnight and the graveyard was eerily silent. The sky was partly cloudy but let through enough starlight to provide some illumination in this place of death. There was no breeze, no rustling of trees, no animal sounds and no 20th century noise either. It was like the graveyard was waiting for something. This was the calm before the storm, the pregnant pause before all hell breaks loose.

Sitting around a fresh grave were two teenagers. They were cross-legged next to each other. The male with his arm around the female and the female resting her head against his shoulder. They both had tear marks on their faces. They had talked and cried earlier and were now just sitting, silently in their grief.

Their best friend Jesse was dead. He had died yesterday and his funeral was earlier that afternoon. They had been told he was killed by some gang members on PCP. He had been cut down before the prime of his life. He was only 14.

The silence was suddenly broken with a seemingly loud ‘beep-beep’. This was quickly followed by an ‘eep’ and an ‘ack’. The young girl Willow’s watch had chimed midnight. She had eeped and her other best friend, Xander, had acked.

Xander recovered quickly and said, “Your watch scared the jeepers out of me Wills.” Willow leaned into him further and replied, “Stupid watch, it was a special moment here. It has no business scaring people. Here we are sitting Shiva for Jesse and it just rudely interrupted us. Never again will Minnie be bought by this here girl.”

Xander was going to comment on Minnie’s’ lack of manners when he heard a crunch. There were several more following as well. He looked around trying to find the source and couldn’t. What did catch his immediate attention was the pile of dirt in front of him shifting.

With more ack's and eep's, the two teenagers leapt to their feet. The dirt on the grave of their friend was rising. Something was pushing the dirt up from underneath. This was rating pretty high on the Wiggins scale and suggested they step back, which they did.

The pile of dirt kept shifting and rising until first one then another hand shot out of the ground. Any thought of eeping and acking were non existent as jaws were hanging open in shock or perhaps awe. In seconds there was a body standing in front of them, shacking dirt from its self. It was Jesse.

Xander gasped, “Holy moly! Jesse?” The body in front of them stopped shaking and opened its eyes. A twisted smile quickly lit its face as it saw them.

Jesse said, “I’m so happy you guys are here. I missed my dinner and you guys came to help me out. Thanks a bunch.” His face warped into that of a demon with fangs and yellow eyes. Clawed hands reached for the two teenagers.

Willow freaked and screamed, backing away. Xander stumbled back, falling to the ground, but sticking his foot out to ward off the nastiness. Jesse’s rush quickly stopped when he encountered a foot in the balls curtesy of Xander. This caused him to hunch over in pain and it gave Xander a chance to regain his feet.

Jesse snarled at him, “You will pay for that Xan. I’m gunna rip your arms off and beat you to death with them. I’m going to drain you dry and then start on your little friend.” In mid motion, the demon stopped and sniffed. He smiled evilly and said, “Oh, she’s on the rag. It smells delightful. What a wonderful virginal aroma. I’m going to enjoy going the growl and chewing down on that.”

Willow went from freaked out to furious in less than a heart beat. This thing might have looked like Jesse initially, but nobody said that to her. No one, not even Cordelia had ever made her this mad before. Her normally genius mind was shunted aside and a single thought permeated her head…kill!

Xander’s standard response to threats had always been get away from them in whatever way possible. When attacked verbally, he crumpled. When threatened physically, he made non-threatening gestures with his hands and bolted at the first opportunity. His flight or fight response had been locked on flight for all his life. Hearing the hatred and utter certainty of his painful death come from the Jesse-demon in front of him, Xander knew he was going to die. He knew it to his core. His normal fear left him and he became strangely calm. Something primal awakened within him at that point. When faced with certain death, the basal part of him reared up. There was no way he was going down without a fight.

The three friends came together in a mess of flying limbs. The hate filled demon Jesse, the berserk Willow and the calm but determined Xander. Two living and one dead, it didn’t go well for the living. Xander and Willow were wailing on Jesse with wild haymakers. Jesse was fast enough to not just match four arms with his two, but quickly gain the upper hand. Willow was knocked flying with a backhand blow. Xander managed to land a punch before coping one in return. In the past, although Jesse was taller, Xander was always stronger. Now the tables had turned. Jesse’s punch felt like a thunderbolt as it hit his jaw, sending him reeling.

As Jesse moved in to finish Xander off, Willow careened into him, sending both to the ground. Willow was fighting like a woman possessed, which is ironic considering her opponent. She managed to get in a few blows, which were probably stronger than Xander’s at the moment, but they didn’t seem to faze Jesse. With a hard shove Jesse threw her from him, gaining definite air, before she stumbled to the ground again.

Xander shook out his jaw and with a glare, rejoined the fight. He took two quick steps and then landed a hard kick into Jesse’s side as he was getting up. There was a cry of pain from his ex friend. Several more kicks followed before Willow joined in. The two living were kicking the daylights out of the one dead.

Jesse tried to stand up and got kicked in the head for his trouble. He tried turning to the side but was kicked in the other side. Each way he turned he got kicked. By this time he had a couple of broken ribs. He started crawling forwards trying to get away. As he picked up speed, the kicks slowed down. He was finally able to get his legs under him and started to stand.

Xander knew that if Jesse got fully up he and Willow were in serious trouble. Glancing quickly around, he saw a tree a few yards away. This was his chance to finish it. As Jesse got partway up, Xander stopped kicking him and charged him with his shoulder. It wasn’t a flying tackle, but rather a continuous leg driving shove. Xander was trying to slam Jesse head first into the tree.

Just before Jesse’s head hit the tree, he managed to stand up fully. This was very unfortunate for him because he hit the tree chest first. Rather he hit the broken off branch that was sticking out of the tree, chest first.

Xander shoved Jesse into the tree and he just came apart under his hands, turning to dust. This was not part of the plan and caused Xander to slam into the tree himself, in what looked like a classic tackle. He bounced straight off and hit the deck hard, his shoulder screaming in pain.

Willow suddenly found herself without a target and the berserk rage left her. She crumpled to the ground breathing heavily. Her brain was struggling to reboot itself and make sense of what just happened.

As the pain in Xander’s shoulder slowly dimmed, he noticed something very odd. Jesse’s clothes were still hanging off the broken tree branch and were covered in dust. Moving closer, he discovered that all Jesse’s clothes were there, including, underwear, shoes and socks. His keys and wallet were even in his pockets.

Perplexed, Xander turned to Willow to get the answers, as always. He saw Willow was in a bit of a mess. She looked completely out of it. He called to her and it took several times before she looked up.

Willow was still in a muddle when she noticed Xander calling her. She looked up with a, “Huh, what?” He responded, “Are you ok?”

Willow started to talk, slowly at first, then rapidly into babble mode. “Am I ok? No I’m not ok! Jesse came out of the ground. Our dead friend Jesse came to life and tried to kill us. How could he do that? We were his friends. Friends don’t do that to one another. How could he come back to life? Where did he go? Are those his clothes? What’s all the dust? Ooh no! We killed Jesse! We killed an already dead Jesse!”

Xander made his way over and enfolded her in a hug. She clung to him like a lifeline. He softly said, “It’s ok Willow. We are safe now. He can’t hurt us.”

They sat there for a while calming down. The adrenalin slowly left them and their mental faculties returned. Willow asked, “Xander what just happened?”

Xander sat back a bit and looked at her. He said, “Jesse came out of his grave and tried to kill us. His face changed and he was stronger. We fought and I shoved him into that tree. I think he turned to dust. His clothes are still there.”

Willow looked right back at him and said, “That’s what I thought happened. But how can this be? People don’t rise from the dead. Well unless that Christianity thing is true. But Jesse wasn’t into religion. Then he turned to dust. People don’t turn to dust that fast, it takes years, decades even.”

Xander sighed and said, “I don’t know Wills. I would normally joke and say he had all the markings of a classic vampire. But this is real life. It’s not like the books I read. We are not in the Forgotten Realms or Ravenloft, we’re in California.”

Willow got up and said, “That’s right those are fantasy books and worlds, this is Sunnydale. There has to be a logical explanation for all this.” She then marched over the Jesse’s clothes and examined the scene. She pulled the shirt off the tree and noticed the branch had made a hole in it, right where Jesse’s heart used to be.

Blood drained from her face, not that Xander could tell, and she turned back to him. She said, “I think you might be right. I haven’t read as much fantasy as you, but even I know a stake through the heart kills vampires.”

Xander stood up and joined her. He picked up the rest of the clothes and shook the dust of them. He said, “So vampires are real then. We are standing alone in the middle of a graveyard at night. We have no weapons but a tree and our razor sharp wit. We were lucky to live through that, but if we stay any longer, I think we go from lucky to stupid and dead.”

Willow gaped at him for a brief moment before breaking into a run. Xander quickly joined her and they raced away. They ran as fast as they could towards Willows place, which was closer and didn’t have Xander’s parents in it. They bounded up the front door panting. Willow did the key thing and Xander tried to look in every direction at once.

Willow got the door open and they leaped inside. The door was quickly locked and bolted. Willow hurried upstairs, Xander following her. As soon as she got to her room she went straight to her school bag and grabbed some pencils. She threw some to Xander and stood there panting. Armed with a pencil in each hand her eyes darted around the room.

Xander closed the door and locked it. He then secured the window and pulled the curtains. Xander was in slightly better shape than Willow, so he recovered first. He sat down on he bed and said, “I think we are safe here Wills. If not your trusty 2b can take them out.”

As Willows breathing slowly got under control, she noticed that her friend’s sense of humour was back. She moved over to her desk and sat down, facing him. She said, “So vampires are real and we killed one tonight. That’s so like, wow!”

Xander nodded and said, “Totally wow. Did it have to be Jesse though? All that’s left is his clothes. Man that sucks.” He gestured to the pile by the door.

Willow said, “It wasn’t meant to happen. They said he got killed by some gang high on PCP. Hey, they say that a lot in the paper. There are always gangs high on drugs killing people. But it wasn’t was it? It was a vampire. Some vampire killed Jesse then he tried to kill us. There are an awful lot of gang killings going on. I wonder if they are all vampires. Hey, what if none of them are really gangs? That would be so of the bad.”

Xander agreed, “It’s very of the bad Wills. If all those gang killings are really vampires, then this town must be full of them. Where would they live though? Most books say they live in coffins. Aren’t you meant to have to find their coffins and stake them there? Jesse didn’t turn to gas and float away, he just dusted.”

Willow frowned and thoughtfully said, “It seems like a lot of what’s in the books is wrong. We need to look at this in a logical and scientific manner. We have a lot of theories about vampires and only a little proof. We need to make a facts list.”

Willow turned around to her computer and turned on the monitor. Within seconds she had a Word document open. She said, “Ok let’s start with what we know. You can kill them with a stake to the heart. They are very strong, fast and tough. They have claws, fangs, yellow eyes and a Klingon like forehead.”

Xander chuckled at Willow’s sci-fi-ness. He said, “They also have a normal face that can change into the fangy Klingon. I wonder if they can change back though. I reckon they could, but we don’t know for sure yet. When they die they turn to dust leaving their clothes behind. Hey that is weird. Jesse was buried with his wallet and keys. What’s up with that? Why would the morgue do that? I thought the personal effects go to the next of kin.”

Willow turned and looked at him. She replied, “It is weird. Maybe the morgue guys know about vampires. Maybe they like don’t want the vampires coming into the morgue looking for their stuff. I wouldn’t want them doing that.”

Xander smiled at her and said, “I reckon you’re right on the money. But, as you say, it’s only a theory at the moment. It does raise a very important point though. How many people know about this? If the guy in the morgue knows, wouldn’t he have told the police? Are the police covering all this up, with that PCP nonsense?”

Willow paled a bit and said, “That is an important point. I have a more important one though. What are we going to do about it? Do we ignore it and hope we never meet another vampire? Do we trust the police to take care of it? If we say something about it, will the town council and police do something to us? They would have to know something is going on. With so many supposed PCP deaths and the morgue guy, they would have to know about it.”

Xander paled as well. He said, “Yeah I agree they would probably know. But we don’t have proof yet. What we do have is proof vampires exist. As for what we do about it, we stay alive. We do what it takes to stay alive and we kill them all.” He finished this off with a look that trumped Willows resolve face several times over.

Willow just looked at him. She was impressed with his new face. Then she pouted and said, “You beat my resolve face. You put that face away right now mister. That face is banned from being used on the Willow. No new Xander face here.”

Xander smirked at her, licked the top of his index finger and motioned a one in the air. He said, “The Xan man scores. I’m going to have to name this face sometime. But for now, what do you think we should do about vampires?”

Willow replied, “We definitely stay alive. If vampires are out there killing, someone should stop them. The one who killed Jesse is out there somewhere and we should be the ones to stop him or her.” Seeing Xander’s nod, she continued, “But I don’t want to go out tonight and look for it. I don’t want to die. What if it’s an adult vampire? What if it’s stronger than Jesse was? What if it’s not alone?”

Xander blanched at the thought of multiple older vampires. He said, “Oh I agree totally Wills. We stay away from lots of vampires and old vampires. Actually, I’m not ready to go hunting Jesse’s killer yet. I want to be ready to do it, but I’m not. Let’s get ready, really ready before we go after them.”

Willow put on her resolve face and said, “Absolutely. Let’s get ready. So um how do we get ready then? Oh I know what to do. We have to learn what they can do and what they can’t do. We need to learn about them so we know how to stay alive and how to kill them. I think we should do some training too. Jesse was really strong and fast and tough. If he had been chasing us home, he would have caught us.”

Xander nodded and said, “I don’t like the idea of study or training, but I like the idea of being dead even less. It makes sense, to be able to hunt them we need to know about them. We also need to be able to survive them.” Here Xander grinned and said, “We need to go up some levels, get some magic weapons and magic buff items.”

Willow laughed and said, “Have you been playing Baldur’s Gate again? I don’t know where we can get some magic buff items or even magic weapons, but we train and get experience and level up. Hang on one minute. If there are vampires around, what else is too?”

Xander looked at her with a solemn face and said, “You have just taken your first step into a much larger world.” He then cracked up. Willow laughed with him then glared and said, “That’s my line. Sci-fi girl here remember. You’re the fantasy boy. Stay in your own worlds!”

Xander shot straight back at her, “Star Wars is everybody’s world. What you suggest is blasphemy! It’s evil I tell you. It’s against the very force itself. You cannot take away Star Wars from anyone. It crossed all boundaries of space and time. I mean, even the oldies watch it.”

Willow pouted and said, “Ok mister, you can have that one. But we are so in the dark here. We can theorise all we want but we don’t know much about what’s in this new world of ours.”

Xander simply said, “We do what we can with what we have. We may not have much at the moment, but we can try to maximise what we’ve got. For now we need to start training and get some weapons. We can learn more as we go.”

Willow felt a lot better about that. They would start training and add to their facts list as they went. One thing was certain, she wouldn’t be going anywhere from now on without at least a pencil with her.

* * * * *

Xander made it home the next morning and put on some washing. He and Willow had decided to wash Jesse’s clothes before giving them to charity. The shirt had bloodstains and a hole over the heart so it was thrown in the bin. There was no sense letting anyone else know there was a vampire killer around. They were unsure if they would get in trouble for it.

After washing, Xander headed into the back shed. He got out some bits of wood and tools. An hour later he had half a dozen stakes of various sizes. He put one of the smaller stakes into his sock, under his jeans. It was quite uncomfortable and he decided that he needed some sort of holster or sheath for it.

They had also come up with a couple of ideas about training. There was one idea that Xander was dreading, but he knew it was a good one. After lunch he had to talk to his father. It was a good bet his father would be up by then.

Tony Harris was an alcoholic and a bad father. He had never hit his wife or son but he was very neglectful. It was a big surprise when his son came to talk to him.

Xander said, “Dad my friend Jesse was killed the other day. They said a gang on PCP killed him. Can you teach me to fight and to shoot please? I don’t want to die if they attack me.”

Tony stared at his son. He saw something in Alexander’s face that took him back almost 30 years. The look on his son’s face was the same one he saw on certain other men who were in the army with him. They were the ones who volunteered for Vietnam. Tony had been drafted and what happened in that war was the cause of his drinking.

Tony was lost in his memories of violence and bloodshed. He remembered shooting and killing the enemy. He remembered the ambushes. He remembered the pain of being shot and blown up. He remembered seeing his friends blown apart. He remembered the rage he felt when his friends were killed in front of him.

Tony came out of his memories and looked at his son again. There was a bruise forming on his jaw. He said, “Son, where did you get that bruise on your face?” Xander answered, “Willow and I ran into a gang banger last night. We managed to get away. We were lucky there was only one of them.”

Tony rubbed the bridge of his nose. There were many emotions running through him. Rage that someone would hit his son. Fear that his son would be killed or end up like him. There was uncertainty because he really didn’t know his son. To top it all off, he had a rotten hang over.

Tony said, “Ok. Next Saturday your uncle Rory and I will teach you to shoot and to fight. Now go and make sure that bruise is looked after.” Xander beamed at him and said, “Thanks dad, this really means a lot.”

When Xander left Tony just sat there, thinking. Had he done the right thing? Could he teach his son to fight, to kill if necessary? How would his son cope? Would he be like the volunteers or would he be like him? Some arsehole gang member had already taken his sons innocence. Tony had to make sure he didn’t lose his life. There was no way he could live with himself if his son died because he failed to act. Tony knew what it was like to lose a friend because you froze, you never got past it. The rage was immediate, but the guilt lasted a life time.

* * * * *

A short while later Willow showed up. After giving her some stakes, they walked to the public library, discussing their plans as they went. Willow said, “I did a lot of research on the net this morning and have lots of ideas on how we can train. Before we get into it, we need to know where we want to end up. What direction do we want our training to go? The best way to figure this out is to emulate someone we aspire to be like. Who do we know that could fight vampires and win?”

Xander immediately started to rattle off names, “Drizzt Do’Urden, Elminster, any big mage, Belgarion, any big sorcerer, Duncan Macleod, Luke Skywalker…” Willow cut him off with a cuff on the arm.

She rebuked, “Not fantasy Xander, real life! Who do we know from our world who could fight and beat vampires?” This stumped the young male. He put on his thoughtful face and kept it on.

Willow waited patiently for him to finish. She watched closely for steam coming from his ears, but there was none so far. Xander finally said, “From our current time I would say Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, martial arts masters, possibly some navy seals or other well trained soldiers and anyone who is really good with a katana or other swords. If we look at previous generations, Wong Fei Hong, other massive Kung Fu masters, Joan of Arc, maybe some Templars, Miyomato Musashi, samurai, ninjas, robin hood style archers, and pretty much any really good warriors from the past.”

Willow nodded and said, “I came up with a lot of the same people. We don’t know yet if modern day weaponry will even affect vampires. Oh hey, did you ask your dad?”

Xander grinned and said, “Yeppers I sure did. He said next weekend him and uncle Rory will teach me how to fight and shoot. Did you want me to ask if you can come along too?”

Willow sighed and said, “I already asked my parents and they said I couldn’t learn from your dad. They don’t trust him. So listen here mister. You will teach me everything he teaches you, you hear?”

Xander sent her a mock salute, “Ma’am, yes ma’am! I got no problem with that. But we do have a problem and it’s a doozy. Where will we get the guns, bullets and place for me to teach you to shoot? I don’t know if I can take any of dad’s guns? He keeps them locked up.”

Willow frowned in thought and rattled off, “To take the guns, you would have to pick the lock or copy his key. But you would have to replace the bullets as well. We aren’t old enough to buy our own guns or bullets. We don’t know how to make our own guns either, so that’s out. A place to learn to shoot would be anywhere in the desert. We could ride our bikes there. Does your bike still work?”

Xander smiled at the Willow babble and replied, “Wills, my bike is made for ten year olds. It is too small for me and in bad condition. Besides you know I ride a skateboard now. The desert idea would have worked though. Being able to pick locks would be cool to know. But the idea of making my own weapon sounds awesome. I want to make a katana!”

Willow grinned at him and said, “You do that mister. Just don’t forget to make me one too. I will be computer girl and you will be weapons maker boy. I know I will be research girl too, but you mister will be reading knowledge books as well. Now I don’t want to hear any complaints from you. There is too much to learn for you not to open a real book.”

Xander nodded and said, “No worries computer girl. If it’s a weapon smith you want, then I’m your guy. You know I like reading. Although the idea of reading an educational book gives me the wiggins, I am willing to do it. So why don’t we hit this torture place better known as a library and get started.”

Willow looked at her friend in shock. He was agreeing to learn something? This was a sure sign of the apocalypse! She hesitated and finally said, “That’s great Xander, but we need to do something else too.” He looked at her with trepidation and she continued, “We will need to get some more money too. We have to pay for training gear, books, a new bike for you, weapons or weapon making material and maybe even lessons. Basically, we need to get a job each.”

Xander stopped walking. He stared at her with horror in his eyes. He couldn’t believe she would swear like that. How dare she hit him with the J word? That was really hitting below the belt. He huffed and harrumphed in indignation. As bad as what she did was, there was something even worse. He couldn’t fault her logic. Oh this was so of the bad! The Xan man was going to join the work force. He shuddered in terror.

Willow graciously allowed him to suffer at the thought of working before she interrupted him. “So back to the earlier point, we need to come up with our direction. We have a list of people who could take out vampires, now we just need to figure out who we want to be like. Personally I think a combination would be best.”

Xander recovered slowly and refocused on Willows comments. He said, “I agree totally. If we are the size and strength of Arnold, with Bruce’s speed and strength, that would be kick arse. Did you know Bruce was so fast he could punch in between the frames of a movie camera? That’s like a full punch in a tenth of a second. Come to think of it, I reckon most martial arts masters are pretty fast too. If we add in Jet’s form and flow, that would be great. Yeah I reckon Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee and Jet Li are the direction I want to go in.”

Willow responded, “Yeah, that would totally work. If bullets work on vampires, then maybe some soldier training at some point. Navy Seals or Special Forces are meant to be the best. Maybe we had better make a list of exactly what we need to do.”

The public library was a building neither had been in before. It was bigger than they had imagined. It was also mostly empty. They had no trouble joining up and were soon at a desk with pen and paper in from of them. The ‘To Do’ list took shape as follows:-

1) Get the facts about vampires. Their strengths, weaknesses, characteristics and behaviour. Find what works and what doesn’t.
2) Learn how to fight, some type of martial arts that has swords or something to simulate a stake.
3) Get in shape. Increase size, strength, speed and flexibility.
4) Find a way to get tougher or get some armour to wear.
5) Make money to pay for training, weapons and Twinkies.
6) Learn about making weapons and then make them.
7) Once trained and armed with weapons and knowledge, hunt the vampires down and kill them.

They borrowed the maximum of ten books each from the library. They had books on martial arts, fitness, training, yoga, bodybuilding, guns and weapons. Willow also grabbed some books on meditation, gymnastics and a book called Superlearning. Xander also grabbed some books on metallurgy, metal work, military tactics and gun smithing.

Aside from the books they borrowed, they also looked at what else the library had to offer. There were videos on aerobics, tai chi and yoga. Not to mention a few comedy shows like Bill Cosby and Ben Elton. There were also aerial photographs and maps of the whole town. They couldn’t borrow these, but they did manage to order their own copies, one each. It would cost two weeks allowance, but it was worth it. Knowing where to find the enemy was very important.

On the way back from the library they swung by the closest shopping mall. After stopping at a bank auto teller they made a beeline for the fruit and vegetable shop. Using a weeks worth of pocket money they bought the next weapon in their vampire arsenal, four rings of garlic. They would hang one on each doorway and window of their bedrooms. That should make it safe to sleep at night.

When they got back to Willows place they decided to start their training. They began with a run to try and get fit then continued for strength with push ups, sit ups, chin ups or rather chin up, and squats. It wasn’t much but it was all they could think of at the moment, without learning more. After the workout, they started reading their books

* * * * *

On Sunday Xander took himself off to church. His official religion was Catholic, but his family had never been into the church thing. Willow was Jewish so she would only go on special occasions, like funerals. After recent events, he just had to go. He needed to talk to someone about the crap that went down as well as test some theories.

He showed up around two o’clock in the afternoon, when he was pretty sure there were no services on. According to the sign out the front he was right. Upon entering he had a good look around. It was a typical church, stained glass windows, vaulted ceiling, hanging lights, rows of pews on each side, pulpits, organs and the main attraction - two bowls of holy water.

In most of the vampire stories he had read, holy water and crosses were weapons to be used. There was the possibility that it was a holy symbol, not just a cross, but he couldn’t be sure. Either way, he was going to try and get his hands on some. Not wanting to tempt a lightning bolt striking him down for stealing, Alexander went looking for a priest.

As he went through the empty church he spied a double booth down the back right of the church. There was a light on above one booth. As he got closer he read the sign which said, ‘Confessional.’ He stepped up the lightless booth and went inside.

It was dark inside, but a faint ceiling light turned on when he shut the door. There was a chair and a sliding panel leading to the other booth. Sitting down, he opened the panel and said, “Hello. I’m looking for a priest. I hope there’s one in there.”

A male voice came from the other booth, “Yes my son, I am a priest. Do you have something to confess?” Xander answered, “Um, I don’t know how this works I have never been here before. Actually I don’t know if I have ever been in a church. I am Catholic though.”

The priest said, “Well, most Catholics are christened when they are babies, so there is a good chance you came to a church then. Tell me my son, why have you come now, after all this time?” Xander answered, “My best friend was killed this week. Then everything got really weird. I mean Twilight Zone weird.”

Over in his booth, the priest shifted to get more comfortable. This was a heavy subject and would need to be handled delicately. He said, “I’m sorry for your loss my son. I shall pray for your friend. What was his name?” Xander answered, “Jesse. His name was Jesse McNally.”

The priest said, “Why don’t you tell me about your friend, my son?” Xander replied, “They said he was killed by gang members on PCP. That happened on Thursday. His funeral was Friday.”

The priest started to get a bad feeling about this. He knew what the code, gang members on PCP, really meant. Xander continued, “My other best friend, Willow and me were sitting Shiva for him Friday night. Willow is Jewish and it was important to her.”

The priest said, “I know the practice of sitting Shiva. It is similar to a wake in our religion, similar but different. What happened next, my son?” As he asked this, a feeling of dread settled in his stomach.

Xander took a deep breath and answered, “Around midnight Jesse came out of his grave and attacked us. I think he was a vampire. We killed him.” The priest exclaimed, “OH MY!”

The dread feeling in the priest’s stomach turned into shock. He was getting ready to hear about someone’s death, possibly this Willow’s death. He never expected to hear anyone say they killed a vampire just like that. Even the churches own teams would be hard pressed to kill a vampire with just two of them. He said in an excited voice, “Wow. That’s just wow.”

Xander said, “We were very lucky pops. But, the thing is, you aren’t telling me I’m crazy or there is no such thing as vampires. That leads me to believe you know about them. Care to explain?” The end was said in a very cold tone of voice.

The priest gulped and got a bit worried. This chat had turned from heavy to scary very quickly. The priest said, “It’s Father Abrahams or just Father, not pops, my son. I do indeed know about vampires. I was warned before I came to this parish.”

Continuing in the same cold voice, Xander said, “Why haven’t you warned anyone? If you had Jesse might still be alive!” His voice was starting to crack and a rage was building in him. Violence was looming imminently.

Father Abrahams quickly said, “Anyone who says anything is killed. The last two priests here have warned their congregations about vampires and demons. They disappeared within days. Their heads were sent to the Vatican. Their bodies were never recovered. I was warned to keep my mouth shut and my head down.”

Xander said, “Cruddy crapola! That just plain sucks. I suspect dozens of people are dying each year and the good guys are being killed off. Why doesn’t the Pope send an army of whoever in here to set things right? And just what do you mean by demons?”

Father Abrahams responded, “There has been a bit of a problem in that regard. The Catholic Church does have teams of vampire slayers. The problem is that all but one team has been killed in the last few years. We are struggling to rebuild the teams and have sent out inexperienced or fewer numbers and it has been disastrous. The teams are being slaughtered. One of the ancient vampires was behind it all, we did manage to kill him, but we are still losing badly. As for demons, well they exist. There are many different demons around in a myriad of forms.”

Xander was stunned. Two of his and Willow’s theories had just turned into facts. Jesse was actually a vampire and they get more powerful as they age. Oh and there were actual demons too. It seems like he and Willow had stumbled upon a war. What was even worse is the good guys were losing. He said, “That is a heck of a lot to digest father. But I congratulate you on your answer. Of course this brings up more questions. For starters, how do you know all this?”

Father Abraham relaxed a bit as the young man’s voice lost its rage. He said, “Since I am stationed here on the Hellmouth I need to know these things. The fact that I have no back up makes my position even more precarious. I have to be careful to stay alive and I can’t do that if I'm kept in the dark. I’m glad that my superiors see fit to keep me illuminated.”

Xander asked the obvious question, “What is a Hellmouth? Because if it is what I think it is, then I need to change my underwear.” Father Abrahams chuckled briefly and answered, “Yes it is indeed what you think it is. Fortunately it is not open at the moment. Somewhere in the town of Sunnydale is a portal to a plane of hell.”

Xander was regretting coming here now. His Twilight Zone thoughts went out the back door and he was fast approaching A Nightmare On Elm Street. He said, “So how is it that the Catholic Church only sends one priest who has to keep his head down, to sit on a Hellmouth? Were you bad or something? Are they trying to get rid of you? Actually, why are you telling me all this? Won’t you get killed for it? Hang on; will I get killed for it?”

Father Abrahams said, “Those are some excellent questions my son. I was sent here to keep an eye on things and if there are signs of things going down the tube, I call for back up. I know how to keep my head down and I know what to look for. So no, they aren’t trying to kill me, they are trying to keep others alive. As long as we are in the confessional, no one can scry or eavesdrop on us. So as long as you keep this quiet, we are safe. Well, safe from that particular threat I should say. As for why I am telling you this; first, you asked; second, you actually killed a vampire; third, the more you know, the more precautions you can take to stay alive.”

Xander digested this then said, “Ok fair enough. I will definitely be using this confessional thing again. I have a lot of thinking to do now father. Two quick questions before I go. Do crosses and holy water work on vampires and can I get some please?”

Father Abrahams replied, “Yes they both work. Crosses can be used to repel vampires or burn them by touch. Holy water burns them like strong acid. I will give you all the holy water you ask for. As for a cross, normally we sell them, but considering you have killed one of the undead, you can have one for free.”

Xander said, “Thank you father, that means a lot to me. Can crosses be used by anyone? My friend Willow is Jewish, so will they work for her? Or should she use the Jewish cross like thingy?”

Father Abraham said, “Yes crosses can be used by anyone and their mere touch will burn vampires. In order to repel them though, you need to have faith. So that usually means you need to be Catholic or at least a Christian religion. As for the Jewish Star Of David, that won’t work like a cross. However the Jewish religion has their own way to defeat vampires and demons. King Solomon was considered the bane of all demons. I heard rumours of a Seal of Solomon that could work against vampires, but I can’t say with any certainty.”

Xander finished up with father Abrahams and left with a silver cross around his neck and 2 water bottles of holy water in his hands. He needed to digest what he had heard and speak to Willow but he would definitely be back. It was funny, he came to the church to feel better but now he actually felt worse. He really needed a Twinkie.

* * * * *

When Xander left St John’s church, he headed straight for Willows place. Upon arrival he found Willow nose in a book. When he entered her room, she ‘eeped,’ and grabbed one of the stakes he gave her. Upon seeing him, she glared and said, “Xander you poopyhead! Don’t you know how to knock? Hey you got the holy water eh?”

Xander laughed then saw she still had her stake in hand and quieted. He said, “Yeppers got the holy water right here. Wanna do me a favour and point that somewhere else?” He gestured towards the stake.

The stake was dropped as Willow bounded off her bed and grabbed a bottle of holy water. She whacked him on the chest and said, “I am dangerous armed girl now buster. No sneaking up on me like that. So how was church?”

Xander shut the door and filled her in. Willow was quiet after he finished. She sat there for a while just holding the bottle of holy water. She finally said softly, “I’m scared Xander. First it was vampires now demons, magic and a Hellmouth. What the heck are we meant to do? There is nowhere safe anymore.”

Moving over to her, Xander pulled Willow into a hug. He held for her a while then did what he was best at, used humour to change the mood. He said, “You know what we need? We need a lightsaber and blaster each. We drive around here in a Whitestar and if any Hellmouth demon pops up we blow it away.”

Willow cracked a smile and said, “Hand them over then. They would be good to have but where do we get them? No Xander, they don’t exist. Face it; we live in a town that is home to the Hellmouth! It’s just us two. You even said they good guys were getting smashed. What hope do we have?”

What Willow said was pretty much exactly what Xander thought. All in all, they were both very overwhelmed. What could two teenagers do in the big bad world they found themselves in? Then it hit him…

He said, “I’ll tell you what we can do, we can kill vampires, as evidenced by Friday night. We were untrained, unarmed, surprised, under prepared and emotionally drained. With all that going against us, we did something that most of the church’s slayers couldn’t do. We killed a vampire. Stop selling us short. Oh and with regards to no lightsaber's being around, then you just need to make two. I’ll take mine with a blue blade please.”

Willow smiled at the old argument between them. She also considered what he said. Finally she said, “You are right Xander.” At this point Xander jumped up and did the happy dance. Willow couldn’t help but laugh at his antics.

When he settled down she continued, “We did manage what seems to be impossible but a lot of it was luck. With proper preparations, we should be able to take out more vampires. I’ll have you know that the green lightsaber blade is the only one to use. If I make, no when I make two, I will make them in green. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.”

Xander smirked and retorted, “Are you serious? Blue is so much better than green. Both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker used a blue blade. Only Luke made a green blade during Jedi. Now what are we going to do with the information I just found out? The only thing I can think of is getting a Supersoaker each and spraying vamps with holy water.”

Willow grinned at that, it was a very good idea. She said, “Ok so we get lots of holy water from your priest then. Maybe take a bag with bottles of water in it when you visit him next. I will look at the Jewish books on the net. If only we had a synagogue in this town. You need to find out from priesty man all about vampires. We also need to know what demons are in the area and the facts about them. Maybe he has some books on them. Hey, do you think he will tell you about the slayer teams they have? Ooh, what about the training they do, maybe we could do that.”

Xander knew Willow was alright as soon as she went into babble mode. He had just the thing to make her feel even better. He said, “Why don’t you make a list of questions I can take him next week?

Willow’s face brightened immensely and she went straight to her computer. She said, “Oh hey, I thought of something else today. Remember the grave Jesse came out of, how it was all over the place and disturbed like? I reckon that happens whenever a vampire breaks out of them. That would mean the people who look after the graveyards would have to know something was up.”

Xander had to agree with her; that definitely sounded fishy. The more he thought about things, the more it looked like the people in charge were dodgy. Right then he had a thought. He exclaimed, “Crap, crud and Cordelia! Hey Wills, what if it isn’t people being dodgy, but some kind of magic? I mean we don’t know what magic can do or even what effect a Hellmouth can have. We lived in this town our whole life and never knew what was going on. Were we really stupid or just blind? I know we weren’t dodgy, but maybe we were affected by something?”

The typing at the computer stopped when Xander swore. He did have a point, there might be more going on than they realised. They were really in the dark here. Willow really hated not knowing something, it made her feel ignorant and that could not be tolerated. She said matter-of-factly, “I guess we can add some questions about Hellmouth’s and magic to the priest list.”

* * * * *

When Monday arrived Xander and Willow checked out the school library. It was not a very helpful place though. Willow did manage to find some books to aid her computer skills, but not much else. Xander found some books about engineering and materials, metalwork and construction. There was nothing they could use for training or fighting.

Over the course of the next week, there were many changes to the lives of Willow and Xander. There was one thing they didn’t consider though. The training they did made them sore. They had to start off really light in most areas, but it still hurt like the dickens. They were walking around in agony for the first two days, and then it slowly eased over the week. The strange thing was, the pain felt kind of good. Every ache reminded them of the good they did to their bodies.

They had finished off each of their books and now had a pretty good idea of what they were going to do. The biggest change, at least in Willows mind was Xander. He decided he was only going to answer to Alexander from now on. He said that Xander was a child, but Alexander was someone who had killed. Xander was innocent but Alexander looked at the world with open eyes. It caused her to insist he call her Willow from now on.

They also both had jobs now. Sure a paper run in the morning wasn’t much, but it was something. It sure as heck beat their allowance. In fact when added together, their income was quite reasonable. It also had the added benefit of being a form of training. They each had a different circuit to cover, but were roughly the same length. It was meant to take 90 minutes to do. They would start off walking and slowly increase it to a run as they got fitter. When the time came to run, they would ditch the cart and carry the papers in a large backpack. There was one other added bonus they got from the paper run, they could check the obituaries. They could see who dies, where they were being buried, how and where they were killed.

They also discovered something that threw a big spanner in their plans. They were too young to safely do real weight training. Their plans to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Corey Everson suffered major set backs. All they could do was light weight training, any heavier before they turned 16 could stunt their growth and give them joint problems. They basically had to keep the repetitions above 30 for each set and avoid any significant weight in squats.

Alexander managed to find his dads old weight bench, barbells and dumbbells in the basement. Once they were cleaned thoroughly, they put them to work. The program they used was only a beginner’s one from the body building book. It was amazing how good they felt after each workout. It was a chilled out and contented feeling that lasted for hours.

Willow had found a martial arts style for them to learn on the net. It was very strange that Sunnydale didn’t have a martial arts dojo or even a boxing gym, so they had to learn on their own. She picked Jow Ga Kung Fu for them to learn. It had several points which made it worthwhile. First, there were videos they could buy that showed the lessons. Second, the style had been designed to defeat several other Kung Fu styles. Third, it had many different weapons they could learn, including, swords, daggers and staves. Very cool! Fourth the style had a long curriculum. It had 18 levels before black belt and a further 36 until you were considered a master of the style. That had to mean it was really good, right?

Until they bought the video’s they were stuck with the martial arts book. They were able to practice basic punches and blocks, knees and elbows, and a couple of kicks. They used Alexander’s backyard after school since he had the weight bench in the basement. It didn’t work too well, but they made the most of it. After the first session, Willow hit the net and found some martial arts supplier stores. There were heaps of pads and gloves and protective devices. What really drew her in was the large array of weapons for sale. Most of them were training weapons or for display, but there were a few that were very expensive and meant to be real.

There were also mirrors for sale on the web page. This made her stop and think. A mirror would be really helpful for seeing what you look like doing the techniques. They could even use the mirror in Alexander’s basement to ensure they were doing weights properly. Right then Willow had a light bulb moment. If she had a video camera she could have Alexander film her doing the techniques and then compare it to the instructional video. It would make things so much easier to learn, especially if they were without a real life instructor.

After finishing and discussing the nutrition book, they had a look at what was in their respective fridges and cupboards. Willow’s had some pretty decent stuff but Alexander’s was atrocious. With that in mind, he offered to do the grocery shopping instead of his mother. Boy did that make her day; she could spend the extra time sitting down with her feet up having a Chardonnay.

They also had a good hard look at what they ate from the school cafeteria. There were some decent foods there, but half of what they served was utter rubbish. So some of the time they would have to take a packed lunch from home. They also introduced vitamin supplements into their diet and cut out junk food and soft drinks. This was especially hard on Alexander, because of his Twinkie and donut addiction. Going by what the body builders did, they would have one day a week where they could eat rubbish. On that day, boy would they ever indulge!

Alexander was able to change one of his class electives, since it was only the second week in the school year. He ditched history and took up auto shop. It would work well with one of his other electives, metal work. These two classes would help him attain and practice the skills for weapon smithing. He was also going to see if he could do some work at his uncle Rory’s garage and junk yard. There were heaps of old cars and bikes there for him to practice on.

The true gem they found was the Superlearning book. It had so many things they could use. There were packages of at home courses that could teach you a language fully in two months. Willow was keen on doing this, but Alexander wasn’t going to bother. It even had special music to help you to learn anything faster. Speed reading was something they were both going to learn. Meditation and hypnosis could be used to accelerate and improve their fighting skills. Visualisation could be used to help cement what Kung Fu they learned and also improve their skills. There were even memory exercises that could lead to a photographic memory. Even Alexander saw the benefit of this for school and their extra curricular activities, he might even pass math.

Their new training program consisted of aerobic exercise, the paper run, in the morning followed by a light yoga routine to warm down. The afternoon would be for martial arts, weight training and a longer yoga routine. In the evening they would do their homework, mental exercises and meditation. Willow wrote their program based off another book she borrowed, Time Management For Dummies. The weekend is when they would practice speed reading, language skills for willow and shooting for Alexander.

With this program there wasn’t much time left for goofing off and stuff. In Willow’s mind living was worth the cost, not to mention she absolutely loved learning new things. Alexander used to goof off, read and play games because he didn’t have a purpose. He always longed to live in a world where he could fight the forces of darkness for the good of mankind. He finally got his wish and no longer needed to escape to reading books where that happens.

* * * * *

The weekend finally arrived and with it, Alexanders first fighting and shooting lesson with his father and uncle Rory. On one hand he was looking forward to learning these new skills but on the other hand he was apprehensive about spending time with his father. Rory was pretty cool and Alexander actually liked him.

Tony drove with Alexander to pick up Rory and then they all headed out to the desert. Apparently Rory knew a place they could shoot without any problems. The journey was pretty quiet, with only minimal pleasantries exchanged. When they finally got there they all pilled out of the car, two duffel bags being carried by the adults.

Tony stood in front of his son, beside his brother Rory. The time had come, time to teach Alexander to survive and if necessary to kill. He said, “Ok before we start, we need to establish the proper mindset. That means there are some rules that need to be followed. The first rule about a fight is to survive. No matter what, you live. You are the only one who matters in a fight, so look after yourself. The best method is to avoid a fight, so you run first. If you absolutely have to fight and you can’t avoid it, then follow the second rule, win!”

Tony started to pace back and forth. He continued, “Some people will carry on about fighting fair, but that’s a load of horse shit. Someone always has an advantage in a fight. You just make sure it’s you! Be bigger, stronger, faster, better trained, sneakier, cheat if you have to, have numbers on your side, ambush the bastard, be armed, do whatever it takes but win. If he has a knife, you have a gun. If they have a gun, you have a bigger gun or a car. If they have a car, you have a tank or a plane. You see what I mean?” The last question was rhetorical, since Tony was looking into the distance.

He stopped pacing and sighed. He said, “Now this isn’t a war, so there are laws and all that shit. Live first, win second, worry about the law third. If memory serves, self defence has limits. It might not be the best if some kid comes up to you and you shoot him. That’s kind of overkill. If someone is untrained you can’t damage them too much. If there are more than one or if they are armed, you can go to town on them. You see, if they are armed and use their weapons against you, that means they are trying to kill you. When that happens, you have much more leeway.”

The pacing started again. Tony said, “Now if you run into those arseholes that got your friend and can’t get away, then go straight for the kill. They won’t feel anything like a normal person would. PCP means they don’t feel pain and the think they are invincible. If it’s just a normal fight, you take them down as quickly as possible. Only the really skilled can take someone down without hurting them, so don’t worry about that.”

“Basically in a fight, you neutralise the threat as fast as possible. Now the mechanics of a fight vary a lot. There are many different techniques, some lethal, some crippling and some pain inducing. A fight to the death is not like in the movies. You don’t go around punching each other in the head until one falls down. If you can, you hit them once and that’s it, dead. If it’s not a fight to the death, you can use non lethal techniques.”

Tony stopped once again and said, “We have three different areas to go through, so pay attention. There are unarmed fighting, knife fighting and shooting to go through. Each area has places you want to aim for. For example you might shoot someone in the chest, but wouldn’t punch them there. You might cut someone in the throat with a knife, but it would be better to shoot them in the head.”

The next few of hours were very intense. Alexander learnt some really nasty fighting techniques that were not at all like he imagined. The knife work was scary, but also had other applications. Alexander was thinking in terms of a stake in many instances. If only a stake could slice as well as poke, that would be great.

The shooting side of things was a whole new ballgame. There were heaps of safety rules to go through before he was even allowed to pick up a bullet let alone a gun. There were three guns that he was introduced to, a colt M1911 pistol, an M16 assault rifle and the Winchester Model 70 hunting rifle. He was shown how to assemble, disassemble and clean each gun. He also got a chance to shoot a magazine worth of bullets from each. It was actually a lot of fun.

After they finished shooting they cleaned the guns, collected the casings and left. After a drive through at McDonalds they headed back to Rory’s place. Rory lived out the back of his business. It was mechanic shop and junkyard.

While Alexander was making knives and fooling around with motor bikes, Tony and Rory got on the piss. In no time at all they were sitting in Rory’s lounge room, a couple of coldies in their hands. The first can of beer barely even touched the sides, before they were on to can number two.

Rory nursed his second beer and said to his bro, “I think that went well. Alex seemed to really get into it and even I learnt a thing or two, myself. Of course shooting is always a fun thing to do. He seemed to enjoy himself.”

Tony was struggling with the whole thing. Did he make the right choice to teach Alexander? Could he handle it if anything happened to his son? Would Alexander handle walking the same path as he did? He finally said, “I don’t know if it was the right thing to do? He is so young to have to deal with this sort of stuff.”

Rory returned, “You made the right choice, no two ways about it. Those dickwad gang bangers already put him in the shit. They killed his friend and one even attacked him and his friend Willow. Remember what dad told us when he taught us to shoot? It is better to know and not need than to need and not know. He needed and didn’t know. He was lucky to get away. So yes you are doing the right thing in teaching him.”

Tony persisted, “I’ve seen war and killing, you haven’t bro. It’s so much to deal with. How could he ever cope with violence, death and killing? It’s just too much.”

Knowing this was a very tricky subject with his bro Rory spoke carefully, “He has encountered violence during that attack. He has encountered death with the loss of Jesse. Hopefully he won’t ever have to kill. You were right, if it comes down to it, better them than him. Look at his first response to the death and the attack. He came straight to you to learn how to defend himself. I also think he wants to defend Willow.”

Tony couldn’t fault his logic. Alexander needed to be able to defend himself. He didn’t know it, but he was doing what every decent parent did, worry about his kid. He said, “He seemed to handle the attack and death ok. I hope he isn’t feeling guilty about Jesse. I do reckon he is trying to protect Willow. That part is all fine with me, it’s what might happen if he meets any gang bangers again I am scared about.”

Rory agreed, “Me too bro, me too. All we can do is give him the tools and deal with whatever comes up when it does. Do you think talking to him about what has happened might help? Or maybe getting someone else to talk to him? It might help him deal with what has happened and what might happen.”

That threw Tony for a loop. He had once been offered a shrink back in the early 70s, but told the guy where to get off. After more than 20 years on the piss, he now wondered if that might have been a mistake. He said, “Yeah that might be an idea. Maybe we can bring it up next weekend? He might not go for it, but maybe he can chat to us.”

Rory nodded and said, “I will check out who is around and get some recommendations. Now tell me bro, did you enjoy today? You know spending time with me and Alex? Actually talking to your son?” Tony nodded his head ruefully and said, “Yeah, I did.”

It was getting close to sunset when Alexander noticed the time. He did not want to be caught out after dark if he could help it. He quickly tidied up and went to find his dad. He found him passed out on Rory’s lounge, snoring. Rory noticed Alexander come in and said, “Today was a good day. I haven’t seen your dad like that for many years. He actually had fun today and so did I.”

Alexander was flabbergasted. His father had enjoyed spending time with him? This was unheard of. His father had never spent much time with him even when he was a small child. Alexander realised that he had really enjoyed himself today too. He said, “Better write this down in the diary. I enjoyed myself as well. Should we wake him up?”

Rory smiled and said, “Nah better let him sleep. He hit the cans like a mongrel, brought up lots of memories today did. Take the car and drive home. I will drop him off tomorrow.”

Still out of it, Alexander didn’t fully register what was said. He turned to leave before it hit him. He swung back and said, “I can’t drive Unc. I’m too young remember.” Rory just smirked at him and said, “I guess we will have to add driving lessons in next weekend then eh?”

Alexander grinned at him and said, “Cool! That would be so awesome. Thanks Unc. Do you suppose we might include motorbikes in that lesson? Please?” Rory grinned openly at him and replied, “I see you have the Harris gene as well. It would be a crime not to. You’ll be fanging along on two wheels in no time.”

With a whoop and a yelled, ‘thankyou,’ Alexander left. Still grinning and happy, he started for home. As the shadows lengthened, he remembered what the night life was like in this town. So he picked up his heels and tore off down the street.

By the time he made it home the street lights had just come on. He was safe, relatively. Once he had caught his breath he grabbed some paper and wrote down all he had learned today. He also added what little he had learnt from the martial arts book as well. He was going to document every technique he learned in fighting, so he could practice it all and not forget anything. This stuff was going to be drilled over and over until it was second nature to him. Also since he had to teach Willow he needed to remember it all.

* * * * *

The next day Alexander visited Father Abraham again. It was decided that these visits would be a weekly thing. On the outside it appeared that Alexander was reconnecting with the church after Jesse’s death. On the inside, it was part information gathering and part just having someone else to talk too about what goes bump in the night.

After a very good chat that lasted about half an hour, Alexander left the church feeling much better than the week before. Some questions were answered but they in turn brought up some new ones. There was a definite direction gained from the information, unfortunately it meant new stuff to learn. Possibly the most important, they chatted about Jesse’s death, turning and how Alexander felt about it all.

So it was with a backpack full of holy water bottles and a page with questions answered, Alexander showed up at Willows house. He was ushered inside the house and into her room with almost the same speed as her famous babbling. Before she could open her mouth, he struck a pained pose and put a grimace on his face. Her face fell and she quietly asked, “What went wrong?”

Alexander shrugged off his backpack, placing it on the floor. He ran a hand through his hair and said, “Tragedy has struck! Garlic doesn’t work on vampires.” He grabbed her by the shoulders and looked intently into her eyes. He continued, “Do you know what this means? We wasted a weeks worth of allowance each! We could have used the money to buy Twinkies.” He burst into laugher when he finished.

She pushed him off with a whack to the chest. Hands on hips she glared, “Don’t do that to me mister. It isn’t that funny. Hey stop laughing at me! Want me to hit you again? That’s better. No more making me think it’s really bad when it’s only a little bad. No giving me more Wiggins when I already have them. Don’t you forget, Twinkies are only for Sundays!” She finished off folding her arms over her chest and standing imperiously.

Alexander smirked at her, licked the top of his index finger and motioned a one in the air. He back-pedalled in a hurry as Willow tried to whack him again. Deciding discretion was the better part of valour, he changed the subject. “So I got the Holy water, all six litres of it. We also went through the list of questions you printed. Now take a seat and I will fill you in.”

As Alexander was organising himself, sitting on her bed, he missed the blush that popped up on Willow’s face. She was thinking different things about Alexander filling her in, that were quite naughty in nature. Nevertheless she sat at her desk and eagerly awaited the new facts.

Alexander grinned at her and said, “To start with the good Father was very impressed with one of our ideas. Well he was, once I explained it to him. It appears that he had no idea what a Supersoaker was. I must say, he sounded quite vicious once he got it. He called it a rapid delivery of divine fury upon a demonic spawn. Quite poetic if I must say.”

There was much giggling to be heard from the red headed teenager. This priest sounded like quite a character, for a priest that is. Getting back on track she said impatiently, “Come on, what else? If you are going to drag it out, then just give me the list.”

Alexander hugged the list to his chest saying, “My precious! No, mine, mine! Behave Willow and all will be revealed. I asked him what he knew about vampires and he gave me a lot of answers. So crank up that computer of yours and add these to the list.”

Willow moved at the speed of light, relatively, and was soon ready to go. Alexander continued, “Ok first up, vampires need to be invited into your home before they can enter. If it’s not a home, then its open slather. Oh and vampires can change back from their fangy Klingon face. So you gotta be real careful and never actually invite anyone into your home.”

Moving on to the next point, Alexander said, “He didn’t know the exact story with how much tougher, faster or stronger they are, but he did know they were more so than humans. He isn’t an expert about vampires, but rather had been briefed about them before he came here. Oh and he confirmed that sunlight burns then kills vampires. They don’t like fire much either. It has to be a serious fire like a flame thrower, not just a match or lighter.”

Pausing in her typing, Willow turned to Alexander. She said, “Looks like you need to add flame thrower to our weapons list then.” She was surprised at his wince until he said, “There is so much more we need to learn, but I will get to that soon.”

He shook the paper in a self important teacher like way. Then, grinning rakishly said, “He confirmed that vampires get more powerful as they age, although we kind of already knew that. Silver doesn’t work on them at all, although it is meant to work on werewolves. Oh they actually exist by the way.” He put on a thoughtful air and continued, “If there was a way to control the change, it could be an advantage to be one. From all I have read, admittedly it’s fiction; werewolves are much stronger and can regenerate even in their human form.”

Willow glared at him. She said, “Those are two very big ifs buster! There will be no tracking down werewolves to get bitten any time soon. We must know everything before hand about them. You never know, they might not be all that great to be. You might not even be able to control the change. Although it sounds like magic and we don’t know anything about that yet. So keep their paws off you and especially me.”

Holding up his hands in surrender, Alexander said, “No worries friend of mine. Just add it to the research list.” Willow flashed him a quick grin. He continued, “Getting bitten by a vampire will not turn you. They have to drain you then give you some of their blood. So the one that turned Jesse actually wanted to turn him, not just feed off him.”

There was a quiet moment after the last sentence. Both were lost inside their thoughts and memories. Finally Alexander continued, “Ok so the confirmed ways of killing them are, stake to the heart, enough holy water, enough fire, decapitate them and sunlight. To my way of thinking, we look at Supersoakers, stakes, sharp swords and maybe a flame thrower.”

Willow responded, “Yeah that sounds doable to me. What about guns?” Alexander answered, “Apparently guns can hurt them, but not kill them. He doesn’t know much about the church’s slayer teams at all, but he knows they use guns. Maybe we could shoot out their knees or something. Although they are very fast so that might be hard to do. Perhaps a big enough hollow point could blow their brains out, that might kill them. Or we could try shooting their neck off, but that sounds much harder. Maybe a grenade launcher or tracer rounds could work.”

Willow just looked blankly at him. Alexander finally saw one of his own expressions directed back at him. Actually it was the first time Willow had ever sent that look at him before. It felt really good. To know something that Willow didn’t was something that he could get used to. Since she always helped him out, he answered, “Grenade launchers are just what the name implies. They fire a grenade that looks like a really big bullet, except it explodes when it hits the target. Now a tracer round is a special type of bullet. It is useful for night fighting, as it lights up when it’s fired.”

With a nasty grin, Alexander continued, “A tracer round is similar to an incendiary round. They are packed with either magnesium, phosphorus or a combination. When fired, they start their burn. In traditional warfare, they are used at night to sight their targets. However, they can also burn hot enough to go through steel; hence they are often used against tanks. If used against vampires, they should be so much more effective than normal bullets. The best part is how hard it is to put them out. They burn even under water. The only way to put them out is to submerge fully in water and scrape the phosphorous off the body.”

Continuing on, in a way that left Willow with an open mouth, Alexander said. “Now exploding bullets were outlawed during the Hague Convention, but I like the idea of using them on the undead or demonic forces. Imagine a grenade but the size of a bullet hitting a vampire’s chest or head? Oh yeah, so making with the pain! Since they can’t be bought, probably not even on the black market we, sorry I, would have to make them. Now that is going to be a long and expensive project. So maybe for now we should stick to what’s available and easier to get. Oh yeah, did you know that silencers don’t actually work. Well they do, but not like in the movies. They only drop the noise by 10-20 decibels. That will mean that if we use guns, then it will be heard all over the neighbourhood. That may be good for LA but not so much for Sunnydale. However that magic thing that makes people not notice anything weird might affect guns as well.”

Willow was utterly flabbergasted. Did Alexander just give her a lesson on guns and bullets? Did he know something that she didn’t? She was completely shocked. It was so totally wow! It was also incredibly hot. She really hoped Alexander didn’t see her blush.

Willow, still bright red, said, “That was amazing Alexander. You are the weapon king, the god of guns, and the grand poobah of bullets. I do like the idea of an exploding burning bullet that kills vampires and demons. Since they are so loud, maybe we can use them as a last resort only. Although with all the deaths that occur in this town, we don’t hear many painful screams going on. Is a death scream as loud as a bullet? Maybe there is some magic that we can use to our advantage. Hey what did you find out about magic?”

Alexander was back on track now. He said, “Ok I think that covers what I learnt about vampires. As for demons, magic and the Hellmouth, well that’s a whole other story. The only magic he knows about could be considered prayers. The Catholic Church uses blessings and prayers to do various different things. Obviously the higher ups or special sections of the church have access or more or different prayers. Considering that we are in this town, he has to be very careful on what he offers us.”

Continuing, Alexander said, “He didn’t give me any books to look at. I did manage to get some titles out of him. There several unfortunate aspects we have to deal with. The first being they are mostly in different languages. The second is they are prayer type thingies for the Catholic Church, not so good for Jewish Willow. The third is he doesn’t know anything about Jewish prayers or magic type stuff. To sum up, we need to research magic, demons and the Hellmouth ourselves, in different languages.”

Willow groaned, sighed and said, “Poop! That makes things much harder. I guess I will keep looking for the Jewish version of magic prayers and you take the Catholic version. Either way we both get stuck with other languages. So do you think we should start learning languages now or get the books first?”

Alexander replied, “Well there is one book we can get that is in English, but it’s pretty old. It’s called Vampyre. It’s meant to be the definitive book on those undead suckers. Father Abraham hasn’t read it, only heard it mentioned. I did ask him about languages as well as books and it isn’t looking good. For the church stuff alone he mentioned Classical Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Ancient Hebrew. He also mentioned ancient Hebrew for you too as well as Yiddish.”

Willow smirked at him and said, “So much for you not wanting to learn any languages. You have more to learn than I do.” She took up a thoughtful pose, while Alexander stewed a bit. She continued, “I think I know where to look for magic stuff. Each country has their own versions of magic that pop up in myths and legends. Vampires were until a week ago, just another one of these. Even here in the good old US of A, we have many American Indian tales of magic and supernatural events.”

Alexander chimed in, “That’s right Willow! There are myths from all over the globe, from leprechauns in Ireland to the wizard Lo Pan in China. This is going to suck big time. They all have their own language and that’s only modern languages. How the heck are we going to learn all those languages and more importantly should we?”

That last question threw Willow for a loop. She never considered that, it was very scary for her to think about not learning. She thought about it and said, “I think we need to learn some languages, not necessarily all of them. There will be some languages that won’t be important, but some will be. We should learn the most important ones first.”

Alexander whined, “Do we have to Willow? Couldn’t you just write up a computer translation program or something? You know we just plug it into the computer and it spits it out in English?”

This brought a massive smile to her face. She beamed, “That’s a fantastic idea. There has to be some translation programs out there already. I can find them and if necessary adapt them for our use. Utter genius Alexander! Maybe I can even get a program for all the languages you know like the Universal Translator they use in Star Trek. That would be so awesome! You still aren’t getting out of it though mister. There will be some things, like prayers and spells that require the actual language to be used. Could you imagine stuffing up a syllable because the proper language wasn’t known or used? There is no way I am using some Catholic spell or prayer, so that’s leaves you. If you want it cast or prayed, then you gotta learn it.”

As the babble came to its end, Alexander went from feeling really good at escaping the dreaded learn language thing to almost back where he started. He didn’t give up though replying, “Ok Willow that makes sense. The thing we need to remember is, we know next to nothing about magic. Bearing that in mind I suggest we figure out whether it is worth our time or not. We also need to consider just how much we are doing at the moment. We are doing so much right now, might it not be better to spend more time on some of those first, before doing extra stuff?”

Willow had to hand it to him; there were none more tenacious about getting out of work than Alexander. Normally she would call it lazy, but he did have a point. She replied, “Yeah that’s right. It’s the same principle as cross training. If you do one thing, then you can put in all your time into that and be really good. If you spread yourself around too much, then you get very little progress in any area. Ok, I will write the translation program and we will wait before learning any languages. However, if I’m doing all the work on this, then you better be working on something at the same time.”

Alexander quickly agreed and said, “Yeah sure, absolutely Willow. I might as well work at uncle Rory’s and see what weapons I can make up. Actually I had an idea for when we are actually hunting the vamps. We need a way to get there and get away fast. Your idea about riding bikes to the desert was a good one, we just use them to high tail it if things get too dangerous. Now I grant you, push bikes aren’t that much faster than running, but in a year or so if we used a motorbike, it would be so of the good. So as a long term plan I might see what I can scrounge from Rory’s junkyard.”

Willow frowned at him, motorbikes were dangerous. Then she thought about it, being caught by a vampire was even worse. Having a way out of a dangerous situation did sound like a good idea. She said, “That might work. Even though they are more dangerous than cars, they should be easier to use for a quick getaway. Ok Alexander, I will work on the computer stuff, you work on the weapons and the wheels. If it turns out that magic is worth it, you are so getting into it!”

There was actually conflict in Alexander when he heard that. On one hand he got out of language and into something more fun. One the other hand casting spells did sound like a blast too. For now though, he needed more information and motivation before he would submit to the torture of learning any other language. Nope, he was happy at the moment, weapons and bikes were going to be great.
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