It Came From the Pool
Child of the Hellmouth
It Came From the Pool
word count: 4952
“So how are things with Xander?” Kuwabara asked him before shoving some noodles into his mouth; he chewed and swallowed them with gusto. “Come on Urameshi. You never talk about the kid.”
Yusuke threw a chopstick at his best friend with deadly accuracy; Kuwabara caught it and threw it back. “There's nothing to tell.”
“What are you two fighting or something?”
“No, he just never tells me what’s going on with him.” He tossed the used chopsticks into the trash. “He calls to ask how Keiko is, Mom, Keiko's parents and me. When I ask him how he's doing he talks about classes, and his friends.”
“And what's wrong with that?”
“He's leaving out the important stuff, like how many times he almost got killed that week, or how many vampires he's taken out. Stuff I need to know!”
“You're turning into a girl.”
Yusuke threw a salt shaker at him; Kuwabara caught it and salted his ramen, then tossed it back. “You're an ass, and I'm not turning into a girl.”
“He's been on his own a lot right?”
“So you didn't rely on adults or authority figures when bad shit happened.”
“That's not the point Kuwabara.”
“Actually it is. He's kind of like you, doing things his own way.”
“It doesn't make me feel any better.”
Kuwabara snorted. “I really hope you never have any daughters.”
“If you're this worried about your little brother...if you have a daughter you're going to be grey-headed before you're thirty.”
“Go to hell.”
Xander ignored the party going on around them, content where he was, his head in Cordelia's lap as they cuddled by a bonfire. They were under a blanket to help ward off the chill of the ocean air.
Willow and Oz were beside them, huddled together, each with a drink in their hand, bobbing their heads to the music of someone's boom box. Obviously they were more into the party than him.
“You're dying of boredom aren't you?” Cordelia sighed.
“Pretty much. I'd rather be on patrol with the others. Why are we here anyway? None of us are even into sports, except for Larry and you Cordy.”
“You didn't have to come.”
He shrugged. “This is where you wanted to be. Huh, just answered my own question didn't I?”
Cordelia smirked at him even as she said; “Aw.”
Willow smiled at them. “Well I think it’s nice, a party on the beach is festive, and the team did win so it’s a good reason to party.”
“And the tunes are good.” Oz waved vaguely toward the direction of the boom box.
Cordelia patted at his head. “Besides, you guys wanted to get Buffy out of Sunnydale for a while, for a change of scenery or whatever.”
“Next time we go camping in the desert, or clubbing in LA, something besides a school or after school function.” He grumbled.
“Maybe not Xander.” Willow pointed toward the shore. “Looks like Buffy's made a friend.”
He rose up enough to see Cameron talking to Buffy. “Oh come on. She can do better.”
“He is the number two swimmer on the team.” Cordelia pointed out. “Even if he is sort of a jerk.”
“Huh. Maybe you gals can get together for a girls night, no guys around to distract you.”
“You just want an excuse to sneak in and steal some of Gwen's homemade brownies.”
“Would I do that?”
They all moved at once towards the yell. Dodd McAlvy was trying to drown Jonathan in a tub of ice water.
“Some jocks just never learn.” Xander grumbled as he made his way toward the ruckus, his blanket falling to the ground.
He and Oz moved on either side of Dodd and grabbed him. “That's enough.”
“Back off Harris.”
Russ Luna stepped up, his boyfriend Andrew tucked safely behind him. “Easy Dodd, Harris has a habit of breaking bullies. He could probably throw me across a room.”
“Yeah right.” Dodd started to pull away...and couldn't break Xander or Oz's grip. “Uh...”
“Take a walk.” Oz suggested.
Dodd nodded. “Right.”
Xander smirked and they released him. “Bye now.”
“Right.” Dodd started walking away, another team member, Gage, followed after him.
“You okay Jono?”
“Yeah...thanks for...stepping in...instead of Buffy.”
Xander put a hand on Jonathan's shoulder. “Been there, done that. It hurts the man-pride to get saved by a girl. Come on, we've got a fire and a blanket.”
“He seriously wants you to change Gage's grade?” Xander shook his head. “That's not fair; everyone else works hard for their grade, including those of us with D's.”
“That's the way high school works Xander. The jocks with the best skills get the perks.” Cordelia gave him a little smirk. “If you tried out for a team you'd be getting a few of them.”
He grimaced. “I'd rather be an outcast, besides, I like spending my free time with you, the pack, and keeping everyone alive.”
“And the sentiment is appreciated; especially the part where you said you liked spending time with me.” They shared a grin.
Willow smiled as well. “Also, we all know you're making B's and C's, so the offended act isn't really working.”
“It’s the principle of the thing Wills, and I really don't see what the big deal about the swim team is.”
“Gee Xander; tell us how you really feel.”
He eyed Cordelia when he said very simply. “They stink.”
Willow gave him a disapproving look. “Xander!”
He shook his head. “No, I mean they smell. All of them, and I'm not talkin' about chlorine.”
Both girls looked at him in confusion, and a bit of dawning realization, Willow actually stopped to ponder out loud. “Like Cancer? All of them?”
“I know cancer smell and that's not what they smell like.”
Cordelia made a disgusted face. “Cancer has a smell?”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“Huh. So that's why you don't like being around the team, because of their smell.” Willow murmured.
Cordelia elbowed him a bit. “Why didn't you say so in the first place?”
He shrugged and smiled at her. “You wanted to bask in their victory for the school.”
“Oh...thanks.” She smiled back and linked arms with him.
“You think we should tell Buffy? Maybe before she and Cameron get too close?”
He nodded. “Sure. If she can pull herself away from his stinky swimliness.”
“So I'm thinking we need to teach Cameron a lesson...or at least throw Snyder off the roof.”
Xander blinked at Heidi in surprise, then checked to make sure no one heard that oh so casual comment. “Good morning to you too Heidi. Now you wanna clear up that little speech for me?”
Heidi's eyes nearly spat fire. “This morning. Cameron drove Buffy to school. Then showed his true colors and tried to accost her.”
“I'm guessing he survived her retaliation since you want to teach him a lesson.”
Her smile was a touch feral and complemented her burning gaze. “Can I play with him a bit?”
“How badly did Buffy hurt him?”
“Hmm, broken nose and a sprained wrist, I think.”
He smirked. “And then Snyder took his side.” She nodded and he gave her knee a pat. “Don't do anything that would get you in trouble...or at least don't get caught doing it.”
“Thanks.” And then she was off again, off to implement whatever torture she had planned for the unsuspecting Cameron.
He was within sight of Snyder's office when Willow appeared and dragged him into a nook next to some lockers. He was so shocked by her suddenness that he went unresisting. “Hey Wills, what's the what?”
“You're hiding something.” She stated, folding her arms and blasting him with the full force of her resolve face.
He tried for calm, nonchalant and a dash of confused. “Huh?”
“Don't try and pull that 'Huh?' stuff with me mister. Jesse may have been able to read you better than me, but I can tell when you're keeping a secret.” Her resolve face wavered and her lower lip started to stick out in a pout. “I just thought you'd have told me by now what was going on. You've never kept anything from me this long. It’s been months Xander.”
Damn, it was happening...things were going to start falling apart...he was so not ready for this. “Willow...it’s complicated...and could change a lot of things...and could hurt some people.”
Her eyes widened. “Does it have to do with Angel?”
He shook his head. “No...well...not directly. Can I...can we talk about it later, just us?”
Her lip was still in a pout, and her look was somewhat sullen. “I guess...why?”
“Snyder was giving Buffy a hard time after she busted Cameron's nose...after he tried to make some unwanted moves.”
Her stance changed, and a familiar protective air came over her. “You want some back up?”
He smiled at her, glad to be back in familiar territory with his best friend. “Nah, I can handle Snyder. You can keep the secretary busy while I bully though, if you want.”
“Sure, but we need to talk, soon.”
“Promise.” He held up his pinky, and she linked hers with it and they shook on it. “I won't need long. And this is better than what Heidi wanted to do.”
“Do I even wanna know?”
He grinned. “She wanted to throw him off the roof.”
Xander gave Willow thumbs up as he moved behind the secretary. She had the woman embroiled deeply in a conversation about class schedules and the substituting gig she was doing for Jenny's classes. She winked at him and he moved to the door of Snyder's office. He slipped inside, and locked the door behind him.
Snyder looked up, and his eyes grew wide. “Harris.”
Xander casually walked to one of the chairs in front of the desk and took a seat. He put his feet up on the corner, leaned back and gave Snyder a smile. “So Cameron is a jerk and you let him get away with it, simply because he's a super swimmer.”
“Defended herself. I'll admit it was excessive but you need to stop watching her every move.”
“Now why would I do that?”
“She's a member of my pack.” He bared his teeth. “You remember my pack. Don't you Principal Snyder?” He flashed his eyes.
Snyder gulped. “You think you can get away with threatening me?”
“You think you can get away with pressuring Willow into changing grades for the swim team?”
“I never said--”
Xander laughed, cackled actually, Snyder's fear was...delicious...huh... “Keep in mind that our pack is keeping the vamp population under control. It would be bad if we decided not to patrol your street any more...now wouldn't it?
“What do you want Harris?”
“Leave. My. Pack. Alone.” He sneered. “I really can't say it any plainer than that.” Xander stood and leaned over the desk, looking down at Snyder. “Be careful going home tonight. There's a lot more out there than just vampires.” He stood straight again and left the office.
Snyder took a moment to get his breathing under control, and then he snatched the phone up, and nearly dropped the receiver twice while he dialed a very familiar number. It rang twice. “Sir? It’s Snyder. We may have a problem here at the school...Xander Harris...” His eyes widened. “But...what do you mean Diplomatic Immunity? How is that possible? No, I understand. Good day Mr. Mayor.” He hung up...and for a moment allowed his fear to overcome him.
“So Snyder and the coach totally take his side, and I'm treated like the bad guy, even though Cameron is a total jerk and Nurse Greenleigh totally didn't even say anything. And the coach even told me to dress more appropriately...Anyway Cameron gets away with it and I'm the one in trouble because he's on the Swim Team...and he's also sort of banged up. But it’s so stupid that he's practically royalty just because...” Buffy halted her tirade and cleared her throat. “So...um.”
Xander smirked. “Relax Buff. Don't worry about Snyder; I've already had a talk with him.”
“You what?” Buffy gave him a horrified look.
Giles looked up from his research. “He's still terrified of you then?”
Willow looked from Giles to him. “Huh?”
“Someone want to fill us in? Wills looks as lost as I feel.”
Giles stood, and smirked a little. “I caught Principle Snyder messing with the wards here in the library. Xander and the others merely assisted me in making it clear that the library was off limits to him.”
Buffy failed at her attempt to hide a smile. “When was this?”
“Right after Christmas break I think. This time I also reminded him that we don't have to patrol his street anymore. We could just let the monsters have him.”
“Neat. So, other than that, what have you guys been up to?”
Willow grinned at her. “You mean now that you've seen the error your ways and are anti-swim team once more?”
Buffy gave her a sheepish smile. “Yeah...sorry about that.”
“Yes well, now that our dose of teenage drama is out of the way. Dodd McCalvy is dead.”
“So that's what Coach Marin meant...he said that Cam was his best swimmer now, but he wouldn't say what had happened to Dodd...what happened to Dodd?”
“It wasn't pretty.” Willow grimaced.
“Quite. He was eviscerated, nothing left but skin and cartilage.”
“...something ate out his insides?”
“We don't know that for sure...I mean what self-respecting predator would want to eat something that smells as bad as a member of the swim team. If I was a demon I'd have better taste.”
That got him three awe-filled stares...and Buffy added a face of revulsion. “Ew, and very creepy.”
Willow looked a little green. “You did mention that this morning, that the whole team smelled bad to you.”
Buffy latched onto that. “What would cause that?”
Xander shrugged. “Dunno, but they're not sick.”
Giles looked thoughtful, even as he continued to peruse the books for demons that like to eviscerate. “Something in their blood perhaps?”
If possible Willow looked greener. “Like drugs?”
“This wouldn’t explain the skin being left behind thing.” Buffy pointed out, and then sighed. “I guess I'm joining the research party.”
“Maybe someone should snoop around in the team's personal belongings?”
Xander didn't even bother to look up from his book. “Not you Will.”
“And why not?”
“You won't know if someone is coming.”
She huffed. “I can kind of sense aura's now...if I concentrate.”
“Which you won't be able to do if you're being snoopy; also Oz might not appreciate you being in a boy’s locker room.”
Willow pouted. You get to have all the fun.”
“No I don't.” He grinned. “I was gonna make Tor or Kyle go snoop.”
Buffy grinned back. “Isn't that an abuse of Alpha power?”
“I won't tell if you won't.”
He was using a lot of magic for being so new at it...Tor could see a lot of meditation in his near future...and possibly a scolding from Botan. However he was on a mission, and these two spells were really cool and he really wanted to try them out.
It was his first time using a glamour out in public, and it was a pretty good spell, even for a beginner. It was very different from the glamour that Botan used when masquerading as his late sister Tonya, that glamour made her appear more human, blond hair, green eyes etc. What he had done was to hide from view, he wasn't necessarily invisible, but it was as close to invisibility as one could get. It made going around the locker room unnoticed a breeze.
The second spell was for the locks on the lockers. Unlike Xander, Tor didn't have a lock pick set, nor knew how to use one. Instead, magic was his key.
And so far he was finding nothing. Every locker he checked came up negative for drugs...well there were a couple of baggies of weed, but no steroids. He had just closed a locker when he heard voices close to the steam room entrance. Cameron and Coach Marin.
Tor smirked and tiptoed closer so that he could hear what was going on.
“My god. What happened to you?” Tor blinked at the coach's question...had something else happened to Cameron? He peeked around the lockers...and had to put his hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh. Cameron was blue, or rather had splotches of blue on him.
“Someone pranked me. It wouldn't come off in the shower.” Cameron grumbled.
“Looks like a hippie tried to tie-die you. Go get some steam son.”
“Yes sir.” The towel clad swimmer did as told and opened the door to the steam room...and a wave of steam gushed out. As did the sickening smell that always seemed to follow the swim team members wherever they went.
The steroids were in the steam...holy crap. Wait till the others heard about this!
“Kazuma said you need to speak with me?”
Yusuke jumped a bit, nearly dropping his cigarette, the last thing he needed was Keiko finding out he was smoking. He put it out and tossed it over the balcony before facing Hiei, who was perched on the railing.
The small balcony of his apartment left them enough space without feeling crowded. “Was it hard, just watching over Yukina, never being able to be a part of her life?”
Hiei was silent for a moment, never looking away from the view of the neighborhood. “It was.”
“How come you're still sane?”
“What makes you think I am?”
“Point.” Yusuke sighed. “I just don't get the kid.”
“Xander.” Hiei paused. “Is not like you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You fight for the same reason Raizen did. For the thrill, for the fight itself. The need for battle runs in your blood.”
“Yeah? And? How is Xander different?”
“He doesn't. The boy fights to protect, not for the thrill...he feels the thrill, enjoys it even. But he fights to protect what is precious to him. Kazuma is the same way.”
Yusuke leaned against the railing beside Hiei. “They are a little alike aren't they? Too damn honorable for their own good.” He snorted. “Maybe that's why I'm so worried about him.”
Hiei smirked. “And you should be.” He moved to leave. “When Xander comes back I will train him some more.”
Xander checked Cordy's salad off his list and glanced at the growing pile of ill gotten goods. He still needed Willow's orange juice and Tor's milk, other than that he'd gotten everything. With a grin he made his way to a different refrigerator. Slaying was hard work, it was only right that the school donate snacks and meals to its protectors.
He had just opened the fridge and reached for a carton of milk when the kitchen door opened. There was no time to duck down and hide, so he waited to see who it was. It was Cameron. They stared at one another; Cameron seemed very surprised to see him there.
Xander smirked. “Cam.”
Cameron sneered. “How'd you get in here? The door should be locked.”
“I don't see how I got in matters. You got in.”
“I have a key.”
Xander sneered back. “Just another swim team perk.”
“Hardly. I'm not the one who got beat up by a girl, or the one sporting the borderline smurf look.” He grinned as Cameron gaped at him, the blue splotches really added to his complexion. “I love it when you dumb jocks piss her off. Which reminds me.” Xander closed the fridge and started walking toward Cameron. “The next time you try to accost a girl, any girl, you and I are gonna have words, and then I'll let Heidi do what she wants with you. Next time Heidi will do a lot more than turn you blue.” By this time he was in Cam's personal space.
Cam gave him a smirky sort of smile, though he twitched a bit when he heard Heidi's name. “What? Is that supposed to scare me?”
Xander growled and let his eyes flash a bit. Cam stopped smiling. “Trust me Cam. If I was trying to scare you, you'd have wet yourself by now.” He bared his teeth and snapped them, making Cameron stumble back in surprise.
“What kind of freak are you Harris?” Was the tough guy's closing shot as he made a quick exit.
“Heh.” Satisfied with a job well done Xander started to turn back to the fridge...and then Cameron screamed. “Damn.” Xander spared a moment to sigh before running into the lunch room...only to stare in helpless shock.
Cameron was still screaming...but he was also shedding his skin. It was splitting and peeling off of him, like he no longer fit inside of it and was bursting out of it. Then the smell hit him, and Xander almost lost everything in his stomach. If he thought Cameron and the other guys stunk before, it was nothing to what was coming from him now.
Then Cameron's screams changed to inhuman howl's...and the last of his human skin fell away. It was then Xander realized that Dodd most likely hadn't been eaten. Instead he'd probably gone through the same change that Cameron had just gone through. Poor guy.
Then all sympathy went out the window when the fish monster, formerly known as Cameron Walker, tried to eat him. The creature dove at him, mouth open, and teeth ready to tear the flesh from him. Xander snarled and kicked it away, baring his own teeth in challenge.
It was enough. The thing shrieked and jumped through a window to escape him.
“Who's the freak loser now Cam?” He yelled after it, gesturing rudely at the departing figure. “Holy crap...I gotta tell Giles.”
Tor, Cordy and Giles were the only ones in the library when he slammed through the doors.
“Good lord Xander, don't do that.” Giles scolded him.
“Sorry. I was right. Dodd wasn't eaten.”
The Watcher paused. “Oh?”
“Cameron just turned into Super Fish.”
Cordelia blinked in confusion. “What are you talking about, and where are our snacks?”
“While I was raiding the kitchen Cameron came in...and we had a little heart to heart about how to treat women. I might have growled some and made glowy eyes at him...and then he stumbled into the lunch room...and started screaming. By the time I got to him he was half out of his skin and not happy about it...and stinkier than ever. So...what about you guys?”
Tor just sort of stared at him. “Whatever it is they're taking its in the steam. And that was a lot of babble; I didn't know you could go that long.”
Xander looked over his shoulder, sensing Willow and Buffy come in the library behind him. “Hey Wills. Tor doubted my babble capabilities. Also Cam turned into a Fish Monster.”
“Silly Tor...also...what?” Willow blinked at him. “What's going on?”
Buffy raised her hand. “I second that motion.”
Giles sighed. “It would seem that, not only are the boys taking steroids, they're also turning into fish creatures.” He straightened. “Hold on. If the drugs are in the steam...then Coach Marin and Nurse Greenleigh are responsible.”
“That kind of tracks with what we found out.” Buffy said.
Willow nodded. “Right, after Dodd, Cameron was the best swimmer, and after him Gage.”
Cordelia shuddered. “So Gage is the next in line to join mutants are us club?”
Giles shook his head. “Not if we get a sample of the steam to the hospital's toxicology lab so that they can start working on an antidote.”
Xander grimaced. “Then we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Tor raised his hand. “So...can we still have the snacks?”
“Dude, I can't believe this.”
“I know. How can they get away with this crap?”
“Come on Larry, help us out!”
“Sorry guys. I don't run this show. This is Harris' baby, and Red here is really handy with that tranq gun so I think you guys should just go along with this. Because if you get past her you have to deal with Kyle and the others.”
The boys of the swim team looked from Willow, who was standing at the ready with her handy-dandy tranquilizer gun, to Kyle, Rhonda, Tor, and Heidi...all armed with not-so lethal sports equipment. Well okay the baseball bat could be lethal, but not so much as a mace.
Xander smirked. “Believe me guys; you are going to thank us. Coach Marin and Nurse Greenleigh are already in police custody, and hopefully by this afternoon the hospital will be able to reverse the effects of that oh-so lovely monster making steam.”
It was Gage who asked. “What are you talking about Harris?”
“I'm saying that if you don't want to end up turning into creature features from the deep blue sea you need to relax and take your plasma transfusions like good little guppies.”
A few of them turned pale. One asked. “Is that what happened to Dodd and Cameron?”
After that they were quiet, and very cooperative.
Heidi pouted. “That's it? They're gonna just go quietly? I don't get to break anyone.”
“But Alpha! They're jerks.”
He gave her a look. “Behave.”
Her pouting continued, but he got some curious looks from the swim team for the commanding tone he'd used.
They were sitting at a bench in the quad; various members of the pack were trying not to pout. Xander sighed. “I agree with Heidi. I can't believe how simple that was.”
Buffy smacked his arm. “Please don't jinx us.”
Giles grimaced. “Let’s just be glad we found everyone and that the doctors at the hospital feel rather positive about the success of the plasma treatments.”
Cordy leaned into him with a miserable look on her pretty face. “Still, we're never gonna win any sort of state championship at this rate. It almost makes me want to give up my pom poms, I have nothing left to cheer for.”
He grinned at her. “There's always the Track team, and hey you can always cheer for us the next time we save the world.”
She poked him. “Not funny.”
Tor lifted his head from Buffy's lap. “So what do we do about Dodd and Cameron?”
Buffy pet his hair. “As much as Cam talked about the ocean I don't think we have to worry about them hanging around.”
Xander was sitting on his back porch, in an old rocking chair, plate of food in his lap. Cordelia was sitting across from him on an old porch swing; her own plate of food in her grasp, Spike was sitting beside her, sampling his own meal.
“You made this?” Spike asked, after swallowing a bite.
“Yep. You like?”
“Not bad. Dribble a little blood over it, be perfect.”
Xander blinked. “I should have thought about that. There's some blood in the basement fridge.”
Spike stared at him. “You have some in your fridge.”
“Well I can't keep it in the kitchen fridge, my mom is a nurse’s aide and would totally know what all the medical jargon on the bags would mean...so you like?”
“Yes Pet, its good.”
Xander grinned and Cordelia snickered. “You see now why I'm keeping him. He also does dishes, laundry and all kinds of housework. It’s too much hassle to find another fully domesticated seventeen year old boy.” She smiled at him to take any bite out of her words.
He rolled his eyes. “Thanks Cor. I love you too.” Though he smiled back at her.
Marshal chose that moment to hop into Spike's lap and flop over on his side. Spike barely moved his plate out of the way; he made a face at the cat. “I wouldn't say the boy is fully domesticated, the way he's always growling at every little thing. Want to tell me about that?”
“Hey yeah, I never actually heard the whole story about you and the others getting those Hyena Perks.”
Spike blinked. “Hyena?”
Xander grinned. “It started last year when we had that trip to the zoo.”