Disclaimer : I own none of the characters or settings.
Contains all the usual buffyverse stuff with many elements of DnD.Chapter 1 – Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire
Birds sang overhead as Alexander Harris started to regain consciousness, finding himself face down in the dirt with his head hammering in an annoyingly familiar way.
‘Yet again the Xan-man loses to whatever hit me this time’ he thought, cobwebs starting to clear from his mind. ‘Just hope Buffy got them for me.’
At this point he realized there was no sound of activity around him, no crashes from Buffy fighting whatever hit him, no Willow worrying over his latest concussion and no Giles yelling advice to the Slayer. Wondering why he was alone he opened his eyes, seeing trees around him and a bright orange glow over the horizon that indicated very early morning, though everything was tinted a strange reddish color.
“Oh boy, concussion ho,” he groaned to himself.
Remembering he was alone it occurred to him this was not the usual ‘Xander gets his ass kicked’ situation. He tried to climb to his feet, noticing his neck somehow managed to feel both stiff and wobbly at the same time and his back seemed to have what felt like a tent draped over it.
He could also feel the wind on his skin – all of his skin.
“Great, gonna turn out I’m naked with whiplash, in the middle of a forest – I thought this kind of thing was for college.”
As he pushed himself up he felt a weird pressure against his lower back, almost like something was tugging on it while scraping against him, the feeling only increased as he rose. He managed to stand briefly, only to fall back onto his hands as his feet seemed too short to stop him from falling forward. His head hit the ground as he fell, which, proved a lot less painful than he would have expected considering his existing brain trauma. Feeling nothing wrong with his balance he moved to stand once more, looking down to try and steady himself, catching sight of his hands in the process.
Where his hands should have been there were two bright red, scaled paws with razor-sharp black talons emerging from each stubby, armored digit.Yesterday 2:00pm Sunnydale High
“What's the deal,” asked Buffy as Snyder grabbed a hapless student and presented her with the ‘volunteer’ register for Halloween escort duty.
“Oh, a bunch of little kids need people to take them trick-or-treating. Sign up and get your own pack of sugar-hyped little runts for the night,” said Xander.
“Yikes. I’ll stick to vampires,” she muttered.
“Hey Buffy,” said Xander, an idea to try and impress her, if only slightly, beginning to form. “Maybe I should try going as Snyder, he can’t complain if it’s for a good cause, I’m sure I could find a fleshy colored swimming cap for that ‘captain cue-ball’ effect and I’d get to take out my frustrations on the few people who can’t fight back.” Said Xander, gleefully mocking the school’s resident troll. Both Buffy and Willow’s eyes widened slightly, and glanced behind him.
‘Crap.’ He thought, turning around. “Principal Snyder, how are you today?”
“Don’t get smart with me, Harris, it doesn’t suit you, my office –now–!”
Wincing, Xander slowly marched off to Snyder’s office, hoping he’d heard as little as possible.
“You two – sign this.”
“I said sign it!”
Buffy and Willow reluctantly added their names to the volunteer form.
“So What did Snyder do to you in his office?”
“Buffy, can you not phrase it like that – bad mental images.” Buffy and Willow’s eyes widened slightly at the thought of what was being suggested.
“Anyhow, I’m now the not so proud owner of a hoard of Sunnydale’s anklebiters for this evening.”
“You too huh,” asked Willow.
“Yup, and I’ve got a week’s detention for some reason or another; I kinda tuned out when Snyder started trying to be intimidating.”
“Intimidating?” asked Buffy.
“I’m pretty sure he was going to try standing on a chair to be able to look down at me, but he realized it would’ve spoiled the effect and settled for staring up my nose as hard as he could.”
Both girls grinned at the image of Snyder berating Xander while standing on a chair.
“So anyway can you guys pick me up a costume while I’m doing time with das commandant, nothing over twenty dollars though.”
“Sure, no problem. Any preferences?” asked Willow.
“Some kind of superhero.”
At four the two girls met up with Xander back at the school, batman costume in tow, Buffy looking extremely pleased with her elaborate dress. Willow was wearing her tried and tested favorite, the ghost sheet.
“Hey Xander,” they both said.
“Hi – Buffy! Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, I am in awe! And to think I was hoping for spandex.”
“Thank you kind sir,” she said, curtsying with a grin at the compliment. “Your outfit for tonight,” she said as she handed him the Batman costume.
“Thanks, old ones are the best ones huh Will.”
“Uh-huh, no argument here,” said Willow with a little more enthusiasm than normal, even for her.
“Well, I’d best go and-”
“Harris, what are you doing with that,” Snyder demanded, seeming to materialize from the crowd. Which admittedly, given his height, wasn’t that hard.
“This, uh, getting changed. I mean I was going to go and find an empty room first but if-”
“No comic book characters.”
“No. Comic. Book. Characters.” Said Snyder, with a worrying grin.
“Then what am I supposed to wear?”
“Follow me,” said Snyder, looking smug as he led Xander to an empty classroom.
“These spares are for reprobates such as yourself who were too lazy to get a proper costume and have to rely on the charity of a generous local business.” Said Snyder, handing him a red bundle.
“It’s your costume Harris, put it on – don’t worry I won’t peek,” said Snyder looking far too pleased with himself.
“But how was I supposed to know comic book characters were banned?”
Snyder shrugged at him. “Not my problem if you thought I’d let you contaminate a new generation with your fecklessness, Harris, now move it. I have delinquents to supervise.”
“Xander? What’s that supposed to be exactly,” asked Buffy as Xander returned from the empty classroom.
“I don’t know but I suspect it’s Barny the dinosaurs inbred cousin,” said a disgruntled Xander. He was wearing a red shirt, a cheap plastic mask and fake wings.
“It’s . . . nice, in it’s own subtle way,” said Willow, trying to be as supportive as she could without giggling.
“Thanks Will, though I suppose it’s beats a Tarzan outfit.”
Willow’s eyes widened at the mental image and she was suddenly grateful for her concealing choice of costume as she felt herself blush.
“I wouldn’t say that Xander, I’m think you could pull it off,” said Buffy, trying to be as supportive as she could considering his ridiculous appearance.
“Really? I could?” said Xander, thinking through the implications of what Buffy just said.
“Well, yeah - I mean I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t look that bad,” said Buffy. She felt a twinge of guilt as she tried to backtrack, realizing this would only fuel Xander’s one sided and not exactly secret crush.
“Looks like our escortees have arrived,” said Willow, looking at the swarm of younger children being led towards them by Snyder.
“Summers, you have this group, Rosenberg, them, Harris, them. Don’t speak to them, last thing they need is any of your influence, just bring them back in one piece I won’t expel any of you,” he said, as he glared at each of them in turn.
The three friends separated, leading their charges out of the school and towards the streets of Sunnydale, spurred on only by the thought of free candy. As Xander was leaving the building he heard the familiar gloating tone of the schools resident missing link.
“Where’s your bodyguard Harris? Curling her hair? Hey, what the hell are you supposed to be – let me guess, Queen of darkness,” said Larry, chuckling at what passed for his sense of wit.
“Yeah, In your dreams,” Xander muttered quietly under his breath as he started to walk away.
“Hey – what the fuck is that supposed to mean?” demanded Larry, grabbing him by the arm.
“Hey Buffy,” said Xander, looking behind Larry.
“What, where?” Said Larry, turning around to look for the only person likely to object to Xander’s appointment with his fist. Not seeing her he turned back to find Xander gone and the exit swinging shut.
A wave of magic passed through Sunnydale, those in tune with such things briefly felt it’s passing, those not in tune quickly discovered it’s effects for themselves.
Fylokkipyron the red stumbled, finding he was no longer in the forest surrounding his lair, hunting a band of orcs that had dared to stray too close. Looking around he saw a number of species he did not recognize rampaging through what looked to be a settlement of one of the humanoid races. He sent a quick jet of flame at one of the beasts that had had the audacity to approach him and watched only long enough to see it run a short distance and collapse as the flames ate away at it’s flesh. He quickly took to the air and began to survey the region, eager to find out how he came to be here.
He settled into a gentle glide over the large city, probably one of several tens of thousands of inhabitants, he decided. He expanded his senses to try and detect whatever power brought him here and felt a nearly overwhelming blanket of chaotic magic rippling over the city, emanating from hundreds of sources, the pulsating effect almost felt like laughter inside his head. Behind the chaos he felt a sense of pure malice, capable of nothing but hatred and rage that was bent on the annihilation of everything it encountered. He briefly tried to analyze the black presence but its furious reaction dissuaded him. The feel of both magics were utterly foreign so his limited experience and lopsided arcane studies quickly led him to the conclusion that he was on another plane of existence.
He refused to admit that he was a novice in matters of the arcane, though his knowledge was far from complete. This left him with little choice but to give up on finding a magical solution. He decided on a more direct approach and descended, coming into land near a passing human.
“You, human – what plane is this?” He demanded of the red haired creature.
“Gah! – w-what?” Willow stammered, more than slightly surprised at having an eight foot tall, twenty eight foot long red dragon fly up to her and start a conversation.
“It’s a simple question human, even for one of your obviously limited intellect. Where. Am. I?” demanded Fylokkipyron, his eyes narrowing in annoyance.
“Uh, S-Sunnydale, Y-You uh, you kinda probably ended up possessing someone else’s body ‘cause that’s what happened to the kids I was watching only that person might not have been a dragon - I mean they probably weren’t as there aren’t many dragons round here or well any that I know of not that I really know any dragons-”
“Shut up human I have no interest in your deranged ramblings. Where is the local wizards guild?” said Fylokkipyron, deciding that wizards were the most likely culprits for his transportation to the plane of Sunnydale. Their sort were usually the ones responsible for such bizarre and irritating events.
“Wizards guild? Huh?” Willow murmured, perplexed at the question. Fylokkipyron sighed; of all the humans in this town he had to pick the village idiot. Concluding he would get nothing useful from her he drew in a deep breath and prepared to roast the cretin.
“Oh, wait – Xander, you must be Xander!” Said Willow, the connection suddenly dawning on her.
His curiosity piqued by her emphatic statement, Fylokkipyron couldn’t help but ask, “and what is a –Xander–?”
“Well uh, you are – I mean were before you were changed and got possessed by, well, you.”
“Give me an answer that makes sense or I’ll kill you,” he said with annoyance.
“Uh, well it’s Halloween – that’s where people dress up in costumes, my friend Xander dressed up as a dragon and, well, people kinda turned into their costumes, so Xander turned into you,” explained Willow.
“So you claim I am a –Human– who has been turned into a –dragon–,” said Fylokkipyron raising a scaled eyebrow at the absurd claim.
“Well, no, I mean your obviously a dragon, but you sort of possessed a boy named Xander and he got turned into one by whatever did this,” she said, waving her hand at the chaos surrounding them.
“Well, I am most likely here as a result of a wizards experiments of some sort, where is the nearest wizard with the ability to perform such a thing?” demanded Fylokkipyron. Hopefully the dimwitted human might finally give him a useful answer.
“I-I don’t know – though Giles might, he know about magic-y type stuff; I’d have to ask him.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s in the library, he-” Willow was cut off by a scream.
“Buffy! That was Buffy!”
“Who or What is a Buffy.”
“She’s the Slayer.”
“Vampires – and sometimes demons. She’s the vampire slayer so she might know what’s going on.”
“I am not having trouble with vampires, I am having trouble with an unknown wizard and a mentally inadequate human – now tell me where ‘Giles’ is or I will kill everyone I meet until I find him!” he bellowed angrily, causing Willow to stumble backwards.
“B-But she might know as well, she’s the slayer she deals with this sort of stuff!”
He glared at her for a moment before leaping into the air and gliding the short distance to Buffy.
He drew himself up to his full height of eight feet and glared at the girl, causing the creatures harassing her to scatter. “You, human, are you Buffy, the vampire slayer?” he demanded. Hopefully this human was more coherent than the last. She looked at him, her eyes widened briefly, then rolled up into the back of her head as she passed out.
Wonderful, he thought sarcastically as he made his way over to her, absently noting that the mentally deficient red haired human was rapidly approaching. He grabbed the unconscious girl’s hair and lifted her head a foot off the ground, then let go, letting her head bounce off the grass. She gave a off a quiet moan as her head hit the ground.
“Wha- W-Where am – eep!” She squeaked seeing Fylokkipyron standing over her, looking increasingly impatient.
“What is going on here?” he demanded.
She stared at him, wide eyed with shock and her jaw still moving.
“How did I end up here, who is responsible!” he demanded angrily, leaning forward, causing her to flinch and scurry backwards.
“Very well, since you obviously know nothing you shall serve as food.” He drew in a breath, preparing to incinerate the girl.
“Wait, no! Stop!” the other useless human yelled, having finally caught up.
“You, are ordering ME to stop human,” he said, not quite believing that even someone as dimwitted as her thought they could command a dragon.
“What are you doing, you’ll kill her and-”
“She knows nothing useful therefore I might as well consume her.” He moved to kill her with his breath again.
“Stop! If you kill I won’t tell you where Giles is!” she yelled defiantly.
“Well then, I will kill you too.” He swiped at her with his paw, intending to knock her to the ground, only to have it pass though her without resistance.
“You – so, you are a spirit of some kind, a shame, your flesh would likely have quite a pleasant taste given your apparent youth.” He turned back to Buffy.
“I’ll only help you if you leave her alone!” said Willow, recovering from the shock of the discovery that she was incorporeal.
Fylokkipyron paused, thinking through his options, he slowly turned his head towards Willow and glared at her. “And why would I agree to that,” he spat.
“B-Because you won’t find him without directions, and I’m the only one who knows where he is.” she said, looking slightly more confidant as she realized she could keep the situation under something resembling control.
He stared at the creature that had the –audacity– to make demands of him. He wouldn’t admit it but whoever had brought him here had him worried. Having already dismissed the girl’s story of possession and shapechanging the only plausible explanation he could think of was mass plane-shifting; something which would take considerable skill and power to perform. He bitterly concluded it may be in his best interests to avoid the mage responsible for his predicament until he was more confidant in his own arcane abilities. This meant relying on local authorities to deal with the mage. This meant he still had to secure a means of returning home.
“Alright human, if you follow my wishes I will spare your friend.”
“Alright, first we need to get to Buffy’s house-”
“Why? You said Giles was in a library.”
“Yes but we need to make sure Buffy’s safe – and she has a phone-”
“What is a phone and how would it be useful?”
“It’s like a machine for talking over long distances, we can talk to Giles quicker. Buffy’s house is just a few blocks over,” she said, motioning down the street before turning back to Buffy. She waved her hand in front of the almost catatonic girl. “Buffy? Buffy get up, we need to go.”
Fylokkipyron snorted at Willow’s attempt to get her attention and stepped through her, looking Buffy in the eye. “MOVE IT HUMAN OR I WILL KILL YOU!” he Bellowed at her.
Buffy shot up and started to stumble away as fast as her clothing would allow.
“Buffy! it’s okay, he’s not really gonna hurt you but we need to move.”
“I-I but It It-was-” she stammered, on the verge of passing out again.
“Buffy! Look at me, it’ll be okay but we have to go now.” She tried to reassure the panic stricken girl, not being able to touch her made this difficult.
Fylokkipyron smirked in amusement at the human’s fear. At least the night wasn’t a total waste of time, terrorizing people was always fun.
Eventually Willow managed to calm Buffy down and led the group down the street. The creatures rampaging through the town left the group alone as Fylokkipyron glared at them, daring them to come within breathing distance. As they approached the house they saw a man in dark clothing running towards them.
“Angel!” yelled Willow, finally seeing him clearly under the streetlight.
“Willow, Buffy – what happened?” he asked, noticing Buffy was shaking and sending fearful glances towards the large red – dragon?
“Everyone turned into their costumes. That was Xander, Buffy turned into some noblewoman, oh and he threatened to kill, her – hence the panicking.” said Willow with a touch of hysteria in her voice.
“Oh, well we should get inside, Cordelia showed up just before I did – She’s been pretty badly mauled but she should be okay,” he said, feeling less shocked than he would have thought at coming face to face with a dragon.
The group headed inside Buffy’s house, finding Cordelia lying on the couch. She was pale and covered in scratches and blood and she was holding a blood soaked towel to her left shoulder.
“Great, where the hell were you when I needed you – what the hell is that!” she said trying to back away as gently as possible.
“I am Fylokkipyron human. Now that the ‘Slayer’ is safe I believe we had an agreement.”
“Yeah, I’ll call Giles and find out what’s–”
“Don’t bother, the phones are out,” said Angel.
“Oh, well I guess I’ll have to go there myself and–”
“Tell me how to find him human, I will ask him myself.”
“No offense but – I don’t really trust you not to try kill us all if I just tell you. I’ll find him and come right back,” said Willow, her voice wavering only slightly as she spoke. Then she ran through the wall. Fylokkipyron raced outside to follow her, taking part of the door frame and a chunk of wall with him, but couldn’t see the direction she was headed in and couldn’t hear her non-corporeal footsteps. Snarling in frustration, he went back inside.
“You had better pray to whichever gods you follow that she returns before I lose my patience and eviscerate all of you, humans.”
Hearing this was all too much for Lady Buffy who burst into tears.
“You’ll have to get through me first, and I’m not gonna let you hurt anyone here,” said Angel, stepping up nose to nose with Fylokkipyron. He glared at Angel briefly, and was about to question the mental faculties of a man who put his head next to a dragon’s mouth then made threats but he noticed something which made him pause. He blinked at Angel in surprise and smiled widely.
“You will stop me hurting them, vampire, are you certain you yourself haven’t been addled by tonights spellwork? Or are you trying to keep your condition a secret,” said Fylokkipyron, giving Angel a toothy grin as he looked over at Cordelia and Buffy.
“Yeah, well, unlike some I’ve got more maturity than a spoiled infant who didn’t get their way. No-one else is getting hurt tonight-” the rest of his warning was cut off as something heavy crashed into the door. “You want to kill something, try whatever that was,” he said, looking at Fylokkipyron and hoping this might distract the dragon.
“Oh, I will,” said Fylokkipyron, still smiling maliciously at him.
He pulled the door away from what was left of the frame and grabbed the nearest creature with his jaws, his teeth sinking into its head as it gave off a piercing screech. He dragged the creature back inside, it’s head was beginning to deform under the force of his bite. Another hard bite crushed it’s skull completely, causing the creature to fall silent as he started to tear strips of flesh from its chest and swallow them. The rest of the mob had scattered upon seeing the fate of their leader and hearing the screams of it’s demise.
“Do you recognize the species vampire, or do you suppose it was another innocent caught up in this spell,” he gloated.
It dawned on Angel there was a good chance that was a child who just died and was now being devoured in front of him.
“Ah, a person then, did you know them by any chance?” he said, looking as innocent as possible, not even remotely bothered by the thought of what he was now eating.
“What do you mean? what spell?” said Cordelia, slightly confused from shock and blood loss.
“Your red haired friend claimed that we are all here as a result of a spell which turned a person into whatever costume they were wearing. I wanted to know if the vampire knew who this was before they were transformed,” he said smugly.
“You – what the hell is wrong with you, you’re eating someone!” she gasped in horror.
“Yes, and from your tone I take it you’re volunteering to be next,” he said giving her a sinister, toothy grin.
“No ones getting eaten, Willow will be back soon then we can figure out what to do next,” said Angel.
“No, I will decide what to do next, you will follow my orders or die.”
“Fine but lets see what Giles has to say first.”
Things finally settled down after Angel went to check the windows. Fylokkipyron was left munching on the corpse of his unlucky victim, pondering his options concerning revenge against the mage who brought him here. However, the peace only lasted until he had finished his meal.
“I am bored. When will that girl return?”
“I don’t know,” said Angel, looking at the clock, then at the girls. Buffy was missing.
“So you finally noticed, you shouldn’t have spent all that time wandering around should you, she snuck out the back door about a minute ago. I would have said something but I was busy eating this child,” gloated Fylokkipyron as he grinned at Angels expression.
“I’ll find her, stay here,” he said to Cordelia while heading towards the back.
“Oh no you don’t, I’m coming too,” said Cordelia as she stumbled after Angel.
“You’re in no state to go running around you should–”
“Stay here with captain cannibal, no way. I’m sticking with you,” said Cordelia as she followed Angel as quickly as possible, shooting a nervous glance at Fylokkipyron as she realized she may have just insulted him.
“Fine, just stay clear of any fights.”
They both ran out of the house, leaving the bored dragon behind.
‘Oh well, back where I started,’ he thought. Drawing in a deep breath he blasted a jet of flame towards the center of the house and walked out, leaving a large and rapidly growing fire behind him.
Jumping into the air, he flew off and began to formulate a new plan to find whoever was responsible for the situation. As this Giles person was proving to difficult to find he decided on a simpler approach; he would ask everyone he met and kill anyone who didn’t answer his questions to his satisfaction. He headed towards a series of large buildings, surrounded by thick trees. A sign near the road proclaiming the property to be the University of Sunnydale. The buildings lacked a tower, so the owner was unlikely to be a mage, after all, everyone knew magi only lived in towers, though he would be cautious regardless. Flying overhead, he concluded from the size of the grounds that whoever did own it was of some importance and would probably know something useful, or at least have something worth stealing. Unfortunately for him by this point Willow had already reached Giles, who had thought to check the source of the costumes and headed to Ethan’s, it was at this time that the chaos mage finally gave in and and told him to smash the statue.
Fylokkipyron was about to turn to land at what looked like the main entrance when a nauseating wave of magic overtook him and left him feeling as though his mind was being torn apart. He pushed back, using his own innate magic to try and resist whatever form of attack he was under, hoping his own reserves would protect him. His counter spell had no effect. As he continued to slip away into nothing he tried to reach out to the chaotic magic that permeated the city only to find it gone. Reaching further he tried to tap into the fount of evil, only to find it was far more powerful than it had been before. The black magic swamped him, slamming into his mind with almost unbearable force. He fought back, trying to control the vicious entity and barely managing to push it out of his mind.
Then Fylokkipyron ceased to exist.
Xander Harris blinked as he regained consciousness and looked around briefly, discovering he was in mid-air over a patch of trees he had only a moment to consider his situation before forward momentum started to become downward momentum.
“Wha- AH! OH P-” was all he had time to say before he slammed into the ground, head first at over ninety miles per hour.Present
He had been staring at his taloned feet for nearly a minute, thinking about the previous night, before it occurred to him it might be a good idea to check the rest of his body. With the difficulty that comes with having an extra three feet of neck he slowly turned his head back to see if the rest of his body had been altered in the same way; it had. The unwelcome sight of two blackened leathery wings, a scaly muscular torso and a huge fin-topped tail greeted him as he swung his head around.
Why am I a dragon?” he asked himself, the universe and whichever god of butt-monkeydom that had taken a personal interest in his life. “Okay, think back. Halloween costumes. People turned into them. Mine was a dragon, probably, Willow was a ghost and Buffy was noble-Buffy,” he said to himself, trying to figure out what had happened between playing chaperon to a bunch of brats and waking up as a dragon. “So now I’m me again, mostly, which means . . . uh. I think it means I need to find Giles,” he said, quickly admitting defeat in the face of serious hellmouthiness.
He took an experimental step forward, testing each foot individually, then jumped up and down on the spot to get a feel for his now quadrupedal body. Satisfied with his sense of balance, he started to carefully wobble off in the direct of Giles’ house. After a few hundred feet he began to get used to walking with four legs and was focusing more on controlling his neck, wings and tail; the latter of which tended to drag along the ground. With walking sorted out he accelerated into a fast trot and almost fell over as the position of his tail started to have a serious impact on each step. Not being very stable at speed he returned to a slower gait, concentrating on preventing his tail from bring him down.
He was approaching the edge of the grove when he noticed the strange sensation in his stomach, it was almost like a pre-belch but without any of the internal pressure. Reaching the road, he finally decided to do something about it; after all, how often did someone like him get to expand the boundaries of human experience, even if it was just by belching as a different species. Stopping briefly he let fly, only to find himself half jumping, half yelping and almost swallowing as a forty foot cone of fire emerged from his mouth. This ignited the car opposite, the streetlight it was parked next to and left most of the road bubbling and blistering from the heat.
How did I . . . ?” his thoughts returned to the previous night, how Fylokkipyron had used his ‘breath’ to destroy things.
“Oh, that’s how it works – Oh suckering suckertage!
Buffy’s house – oh man, I am a dead Xander,” he muttered, beginning to remember the previous night.
As he thought further back he recalled ‘snack’ he had eaten the previous evening, making him wretch, causing another far weaker jet of flame to emerged, giving him a slight stomach pain. This further damaged the burning car and ignited several parts of the now smoking road in front of him. Unable to do anything about it now, he forced the thoughts of the previous evening to the back of his mind.
‘Whatever it was I ate it wasn’t a child. Nope, just some normal everyday demon-y badness that totally deserved it.’
His determination to reach Giles’s house renewed he trotted around the flames, spotting curtains twitching as people began to look outside to see what the noise and flashes of light were about.
“Come on Sunnydale Syndrome, don’t fail me now,” he muttered as he slunk off guiltily, trying to look as inconspicuous as a one ton dragon could. Catching his reflection in the window of a minivan it occurred to him he looked a lot like a cat that was sneaking away from doing something it shouldn’t have done. Something it really
shouldn’t have done, he thought as the burning car’s gas tank exploded.
A short while later he finally reached Giles’s house, the gate was too small for him to fit though so he carefully made his way up the drive. The car occupying the driveway was way too small to block anything that could actually fit through the gate. He walked across the covered patio and carefully pushed the doorbell, hoping he wouldn’t accidentally break it; causing yet more property damage was the last thing he needed, aside from not being human at least. Not getting any immediate response he squeezed around the back to see if anyone was there. Looking through the windows he found no sign of activity and so he returned to the front of the house. There he saw Giles, who had stepped out to see who had called and was looking out of the gate in what he could have sworn was a tweed bathrobe. Hoping he wouldn’t just scream and flee, he walked up and announced his presence.
“Hey Giles I–.”
On hearing his voice Giles turned around gave off a yelp that might be expected from Willow and managed to jump at least four feet vertically, then fell over in midair; It was quite impressive considering his age.
“Oh man, Giles, are you okay. Sorry, I guess I kinda shouldn’t have snuck up like that,” he said apologetically to the bundle of limbs lying next to the wall.
Clutching his head Giles looked up again, awkwardly scrabbling back as he caught sight of Xander.
“Wow, Giles, it’s me Xander. Look, I got transformed into my costume yesterday and–”
“Xander – what? B-But how?” he gasped, staring at him with suspicious concern.
“Well yesterday was Halloween right, and everyone sort of ended up turning into their costumes. Well mine was a dragon and–”
“Yes yes I know about that, Willow came to the library and told me. But the focus of the spell was broken, its effects; they should have ceased instantly. This is impossible!” he said as much to himself as to Xander.
“Hate to burst your bubble but . . . still a dragon here.”
Giles glared at him for a moment. “Yes well, I will need to research this obviously. It may take some time. You had best hide in the garage before someone sees you.”
“Can I help with the research?”
“Do you breath fire?”
“Then no you may not. Many of the books I will be searching are nigh irreplaceable and I doubt you have the experience needed to control your breath.”
“Actually it’s a belch.”
“It’s a what?”
“Dragon fire, it’s a belch. You belch at stuff and, FWOOM
,” he said, shrugging for emphasis.
“. . . You do realize that knowing that isn’t going to change my mind.”
“I kinda figured. What happened to everyone when the spell ended?”
“They returned to normal, and were mostly unharmed by their ordeal. Cordelia had to be taken to hospital but I was assured her injuries were relatively minor, so she should make a full recovery. Buffy went out to look for you while her mother stayed at a hotel, though Joyce believes her to be staying at Willow’s. Apparently their house burned down last night, I take it you might have some idea how that happened,” he said, examining his glasses for damage.
“Yeah, Fylokkipyron kinda set it on fire when he was leaving.”
“Fylok– ah yes, the uh, creature. Do you actually retain its memories?”
“Yeah, most of them I think, why?”
“Almost nothing is known of the nature of true dragons, even a small glimpse into their behavior would be invaluable. Could I ask you to try and and recall some of the details of it’s life?”
“Sure, might as well do something,” said Xander as he squeezed into the garage.
Giles closed the door and went back into the house to retrieve the books most likely to prove helpful. He had realized it would be best to find a solution quickly as dawn had broken half an hour ago and Buffy would likely show up sooner rather than later. When he had last seen her she had been rather upset at the loss of her home and appeared to be using Xander’s disappearance as an excuse to put off dealing with it. She could do without the additional stress of Xander’s problem.
Buffy Summers was not a happy Slayer. She knew Slayers weren’t supposed to kill humans but Ethan Rayne was really
pushing her on that, after he had seriously screwed up what was apparently her only night off this year. Instead of vegging out, she had been turned into a helpless princess; screamed at the sight of a car; received death threats from a dragon; got felt up by an unwashed pirate; been chased by Spike; made a fool of herself in front of Angel; had her house burn down and had a friend go missing. She paused for a moment as she recalled the nights events, determined not to cry about her own situation until she’d made sure Xander was safe. She wanted to be doing something
to distract her from the fact she and her Mom were now, temporarily at least, homeless.
Standing on Kingman’s Bluff she looked out over Sunnydale, hoping for some clue as to where to look while trying not to imagine all the horrible things that could have happened to Xander. Seeing two thick pillars of smoke rising from the town she set off to investigate the new one, doing her best to ignore where the first was coming from.
Arriving twenty minutes later she came across a wrecked car with scorch marks leading across the road to the edge of the college grounds, the fire department were still hosing the whole place down. As she got closer it dawned on her the burns actually extended from the tree line to the car, expanding in a cone, as you might expect a dragon’s breath to do. Thinking quickly it occurred to her the fire was recent so it must have fairly late on in the evening when it started, though it was odd it was still burning after so much time. She quickly dismissed those thoughts, she had no idea how to judge how long a fire like this had burned for, not to mention that the fire department would only have come out after dawn had broke.
If this was the last place dragon-boy had been when the spell ended . . ..Giles.
Xander could have made it there just after she left, he would have been going slowly enough to miss her if he was injured. She shot from the scene of the fire, running towards Giles house, hoping Xander wasn’t too badly hurt. Various worst case scenarios started to enter her mind, he could have been flying! and who knows how high he was when the spell ended – oh god why did she have to go and think that!
She accelerated into a flat sprint.
Giles and Xander had been researching and writing down memories respectively, for nearly twenty minutes; Xander having finally figured out the art of writing with his stubby, clawed fingers. Giles was occasionally stopping to ask questions about the nature of dragons, particularly chromatic reds now they had finally managed to narrow down Xander’s species.
“How good are you at recognizing demons?”
“Well, I can identify most of the species likely to be encountered in Southern California.” Said Giles, suddenly remembering Angel’s account of what happened at Buffy’s house and recognizing where this was going.
“Well last night, I kinda saw one, hanging around near the college campus – it was about when I changed back, it didn’t seem affected by the spell so I’m pretty sure it was a real one.” said Xander, looking increasingly grim and nervous as he went on. “It was short, about four feet, fat too. It had like, six spider leg type things coming out of it’s back and it was bright blue–”
“Xander, if you are concerned about the creature that you . . . ate, last night you needn’t worry. I checked the materials involved in the spell, no demon matching the description Angel gave me would have been created. The demon you killed was, from the sounds of it, a Glinaka. They’re usually quite timid unless backed up by others, though they do have a fondness for human liver,” Giles reassured him.
“Oh thank god! I’ve been wondering if I should go make like Cordelia and cram my fingers down my throat,” he said, trying to rationalize the other ‘monster’ his new body had been used to kill when he had first transformed as something beyond his control. He knew without a doubt that had been a real child. Rationalizing it wasn’t helping very much.
“Yes, well it was a real, live demon you killed so you needn’t worry,” said Giles, grimacing at the mental image Xander’s suggestion provided.
“So, got any ideas on how to change me back?”
“Honestly? I have none, not yet anyway. We’ve managed to identify your species and gain some theoretical ideas about your magical abilities and influence but actually undoing whatever is that happened when ‘Fylokkipyron’ attempted to tap into the hellmouth will likely take quite some time.”
“So I’m stuck like this until further notice.”
“Unless the change begins to reverts on its own, yes. I’m afraid you are,” said Giles, awkwardly.
“Great, what are the chances of it fixing itself.”
“Rather poor I’m sorry to say. Although look on the bright side, it could be always be worse.”
“I’m not human, or even remotely humanoid – how could it be worse.”
“Willow informed me you had originally planned to dress as Principal Snyder.”
“. . . okay, it could be worse.”
The doorbell rang with Buffy’s ‘secret code’, which consisted of repeatedly jabbing the button until someone answered, so Giles stood and left the garage.
“Giles have you seen Xander? There was a fire nearby and it looked like it might be dragon related. I thought he might have come here.”
“Buffy – hello, well, yes I have seen him but I need to talk to you about something first,” he said, waving her in.
“Why? He is okay isn’t he? Please tell me he’s okay.”
“Technically he is okay. In a manner of speaking. But he . . . well, it’s rather complicated–”
“What do you mean complicated, it’s a yes or no question, is he okay?” she said, panic starting to creep into her voice.
“Xander’s body did not change back last night, Buffy. He has regained his personality and mental faculties but physically . . . he is still – still a dragon,” Giles said, realizing it sounded faintly ridiculous when said out loud.
“. . . What! You said the spell ended, how can he still be a dragon?” she said, not quite believing what she was hearing.
“From what Xander has told me the creature attempted to draw power from the hellmouth as the spell ended. I can only theorize that this somehow disrupted the transformative effects of the magic.”
“From what he told you– is he here?” She demanded.
“Is he here Giles? I need to see him,” said Buffy in a slightly pleading tone, starting to worry about just what sort of effect trying to tap into the hellmouth might have had on Xander.
At this moment Xander decided to avoid getting her any more worked up than she already was and stepped out of the garage. He walked across the yard to the still open front door and leaned inside to greet her. “Hey Buffy. It’s me,” he said with some caution, not being entirely sure how Buffy would react to his appearance.
“Xander! Oh my god, Xander – you – your–”
“All dragony, yeah I know. But it could have been worse, Giles reminded me I was gonna go as Snyder,” he said grinning slightly.
She stared at him in disbelief. How could he be joking about this?
“We can fix this right? we can change him back?” she asked Giles, hoping for at least some good news today.
“Eventually we will be able to undo the spells effects, but I’ll have to do more research on certain issues surrounding the nature of a dragon’s magic and its effect on hellmouth energies before we attempt anything,” Giles reassured his Slayer.
Buffy slowly walked up to Xander, concern and unease etched on her face. She looked slightly uncomfortable at touching him, but placed a hand on his neck and stroked the thick scales that covered him. “Your hot.”
“You know Buff I’ve always wanted you to say that, though i didn’t think I have to change species to hear it.”
“What? Oh Ew
- not that I think you’re icky but, you know. The whole different species thing. No I mean your like fire type hot.”
“Yeah, well I do breath fire,” he said, ignoring the ew.
“Yeah, I figured,” she said, sounding slightly distracted.
“Oh right, I’m sorry about your house, if I can help out in any way–”
“It’s okay, it wasn’t really you. Mom says the insurance will cover the damage.”
“Right. Well, sorry anyway, I would offer you a free flight but I’m kinda too cowardly to try these things out,” he said nodding towards his wings.
“I might just take you up on that before we turn you back, dragon-boy,” she said, a small grin crossing her face.
“Well it is a Saturday, and I believe we have some researching to do. Buffy perhaps you should get some rest first, you have been up all night,” said Giles before Buffy interrupted.
“I’m fine. I wanna help too.”
“. . . I don’t suppose there’s any possibility I’ll dissuade you from participating until you are rested?”
“Nope. Where should I start.”
“Well, if you start with these,” he said, handing her a thick pile of books. “Remember, check all references to Chromatic Reds and to weave transmutation.”
They sat down and started searching for anything that might help identify a way to return Xander to normal. At eleven they received a call from Willow, asking if Xander had been found. After calming her down Giles told her he had been found and was mostly fine but she needed to come over immediately. She arrived thirty minutes later and started hammering away at the bell nervously, looking as if she ran the entire way.
“Hello Willow, if you–,”
“Where’s Xander? He is okay isn’t he you said he was okay where did he go was he injured ‘cause he should have called someone and–”
“Willow, slow down, he’s fine but we have a slight problem concerning the after effects of Ethan’s spell.”
“Oh, is he trying to breath fire or fly, ‘cos I forgot about the walking through walls thing and tried it this morning. Probably don’t need to tell you it didn’t work,” she said, absently rubbing her head.
“Not quite. Perhaps it’s best if I show you what’s wrong. Please remember, it isn’t permanent and we are working towards a solution,” he said, leading her towards the garage.
“What isn’t permanent? Why are we going to the –OH MY GOD–, XANDER?
” she wailed in shock.
“But the spell – it was supposed to end – you shouldn’t be – why are you–”
“Easy there Will, it’s not permanent it’s only until we find a way to get me fixed. And I did not mean that last part literally.”
“You–You’re–You’re still a dragon, how?”
“Seems Fylokkipyron decided to screw around with the hellmouth when the spell ended. Long story short, spell ended, he went away, I kept the body.”
“Oh,” she said faintly.
After a some grumbling from Willow about not being called to help when Xander had shown up as a dragon, in spite of only having had four hours sleep at the time, she sat down and joined the search for a way to restore him. After nearly four hours they finally managed to pin down the specific events that caused Xander to remain in dragon form after the spell ended. However the unpredictable and semi-consensual nature of the magic around which the spell was based left Giles with little doubt about the possibility of reversing the spell.
“Giles – cliff notes version, please,” said Buffy as he began a long winded explanation as to the problem they faced.
“Well, in short, with a transformation of this kind there is no way to reverse it. This isn’t a transformation, it’s a full transmutation. You are now as much a dragon as the being who occupied that body yesterday.”
“But he was transformed one way right,can’t we just do the same thing in reverse?” said Willow, to which Buffy and Xander nodded in agreement.
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Chaos magic is, well, chaotic; if you do something with a specific intent in mind it won’t work, aiming for a specific outcome defeats the purpose of chaos spells. When it ended the Fylokkipyron managed to shield himself from effects of it’s cancellation long enough for the reversal to be prevented. As you wore the costume of your own free will, when Fylokkipyron tapped into the hellmouth to protect himself he effectively did it with your consent. I’m afraid that there is nothing morally acceptable we can do to reverse your change.”
“What do you mean by ‘morally acceptable’?” asked Xander.
“Some of the darkest of black magics may have the power to undo this – and I must emphasize the ‘may’, but they always carry a horrifying price.”
“Oh. So basically, I’m stuck like this.”
“Yes, Xander, I’m afraid you are. I’m sorry.”