Anchors Away – A Lacking an Anchor Shadow
AN: Take 2- Now with 50% less demonic hatred!
Xander stepped out of the portal only to find he was looking at a very familiar scene.
Buffy had raised the sword to drive it through Angel into the statue only to freeze as a beat up looking Xander carrying a shiny red axe stepped out of the roaring portal.
Buffy and Xander called each other’s names only to stop and yell out “What?!”
“I can't hear anything over the howling portal.” Xander shouted, “Let me close it then we'll talk.”
Holding up the gleaming double handed battle axe Xander chanted “Guardian of the gate am I, master of my fate I cry and those who choose evil good to spurn shall meet my emerald flames and they shall burn!”
To Buffy and the still somewhat traumatized Angel's amazement Xander's axe burst into green flames and with a single swing he reduced the statue to rubble, however despite the statue's destruction the portal remained.
Xander sighed and stepped closer to the two, “It’s still loud as hell, pardon the pun. But at least it’s no longer growing.
Something black and scaly stepped through the man sized portal but Xander casually beheaded it as it was trying to adjust to the new dimension.
“That's not to say it’s not still a pain in the ass, but it’s not likely to swallow the world and cause everyone from the oldest man in the retirement home to the latest egg fertilized and beginning to split in its mother's womb to suffer in pain and torment for all eternity.” Xander said loudly and cheerfully as the two paled, realizing what had been at stake.
“It has to be closed,” Buffy said aloud her brief hope that she wouldn't have to kill Angel dashed.
Angel nodded “It has to be done.”
“Yeah, and I know how to do it.” Xander said “So there's no need to traumatize Buffy by making her do it or see it.”
“What, but I-” Buffy tried to complain that it was her job, only to have Angel interrupt her.
“Need to look after Giles. You don't need to see this, and I don't want you to see this.”
Buffy gave Angel a tearful hug while Xander disemboweled something with green skin and blue freckles before fleeing the scene.
“Ok, Xander – do it.” Angel commanded, throwing his head back and bracing himself.
Xander grinned and punched Angel in the nose, knocking him to the ground.
Angel staggered back to his feet, holding his bleeding nose. “What did you do that for?”
Xander ripped off a section of his shredded shirt and tossed it to Angel “It’s a small portal and the demon is dead. Just soak that in blood for me drama queen.”
“Then why did you send Buffy off?!” Angel demanded loudly before paling “You're going to kill me aren't you? You needed Buffy gone so you could do it privately without having her interfere.”
Xander rolled his eyes “Then I could have done the whole sacrifice to close the portal setup and no one would have been the wiser. Guess again and hand me the damn rag!” he shouted.
Angel handed Xander the bloody rag. “You wanted to punch me in the nose in private?”
Xander grinned. “That too.” Xander tossed the rag into the portal, shrinking it to the size of a dime and drastically lowering the noise coming from it.
Angel and Xander stared at the tiny glowing portal.
“Sorry Angel, apparently that wasn't enough blood – I guess we will have to sacrifice you.” Xander said mockingly.
Angel blew his bloody nose into a handkerchief then threw it into the portal making it vanish completely.
“Now we go to the hospital.” Xander said.
* * *
“And why do I have to have a rock in my shoe?” Angel asked, limping into the hospital room.
“For the last time, because it makes you unhappy. Perfect happiness means your soul goes bye bye and I dust you. Fortunately you're shallow enough that sex has to be involved. But just in case the rock in your shoe will keep you from perfect happiness – and the fact that you are unhappy makes me happy which is a small consolation for not being able to dust you.” Xander explained.
“Sorry, but this is the most annoying rock in existence. I've walked over broken glass and not had it be this annoying. How can one small rock be so damn irritating?” Angel complained.
“I picked it up while I was in Hell.” Xander explained to the assembled Scooby's amazement.
Everyone fell silent before looking between the two Xanders suspiciously.
“I'll bite.” Oz spoke up when it became obvious no one else was going to say anything. “Why are there two Xanders?”
“Because a very arrogant witch decided to fix her error of accidentally casting me out of reality by screwing up my transport home and landing me in hell for a weekend.” Xander said cheerfully, but everyone noticed the tension in his shoulders and how tightly he gripped his axe. “Fortunately I found a portal leading out.”
“Does this witch have a name?” The native Xander asked.
“Sure, not that it matters – the bitch is dead to me. I mean, accidentally throwing me out of reality because she wanted to test out a new spell and refused to listen to anyone with any experience because she is so much smarter than them... I'm stupid enough to forgive her for that, as I did her other betrayals. But to ignore the warnings of a demon lord and a lord of order because she was sure she knew better; no the bitch is dead to me and I was fortunate enough to have a telepath build me some excellent shields so I won’t be influenced into forgiving her.” Xander ranted.
“Wow, I'm bitter.” The native Xander said.
The new Xander laughed, “Since I'm here and I wasn't in my past that would make this an alternate time line so you won't become me.”
“Wow, when did you become smart?” Cordelia asked.
“Of course bitter is pretty much a given, considering how pretty much everyone around you is going to betray you in one way or another. I'll explain more once I've had some sleep and am in better condition.” Xander sighed.
“Everyone?” Native Xander asked with wide eyes.
“Well, everyone here – not everyone in the world.” Xander admitted. “And there has to be a certain level of trust or they can't betray you, so Angel never betrayed us.”
“Thanks … I think.” Angel said dryly.
“How can you not trust Angel?” Willow burst out.
Xander snorted “Trust a demon possessed corpse with a taste for pedophilia? No thanks.”
“Hey!” Angel complained. “Buffy isn't a child.”
“You got a crush on her when she was 14 and you died when you were 26... Not counting the centuries you've been walking the Earth as a corpse. There is a twelve year age gap, and anything past 3 years begins to get a little iffy. So I suppose I have to admit you did wait until she was over 16 for sex so pedophilia doesn't apply.”
“So two and a half years is ok?” A female voice asked from behind him.
Xander turned and saw Joyce and a dark haired girl who'd asked the question. “As long as nothing too intimate happens before the girl is 16.” He agreed.
“Where's Buffy?” Joyce asked anxiously.
The native Xander stepped forward “She ran off after seeing that Giles would be alright.”
“Xander?” The two asked, shocked at seeing two Xanders.
“An arrogant red haired b-witch used me as an unwitting guinea pig and then when I almost got back home she screwed with things again and I was sent to hell. Angelus opened a portal to doom everyone, I stepped out and with Angel's help I closed the portal. If I remember my own time line correctly Buffy thinks Angel is dead, Joyce said something awful and Buffy ran off to LA.”
“I have to find her.” Joyce and Angel chorused.
“What is he doing here?!” Joyce demanded, noticing Angel.
Willow quickly explained the whole soul problem and how she'd cast the spell to return Angel's soul at high speeds.
Joyce turned to Xander and he explained “Not content with encouraging your daughter in her necrophilia this witch here decided to dabble in necromancy by casting one of the darkest curses ever conceived. The curse rips a soul out of its just reward and makes it haunt the demon possessed corpse that used to be its body while inflicting all the memories of the demon on it like it was its own. I have no doubt that its earned her a place in hell. Buffy will be back in a couple of months, she has a bunch of people to save in LA.”
Native Xander spoke up. “Future Xander is more than a little cranky about being sent to Hell by his Willow screwing with the spell he was using to return home.”
Xander nodded, “I'm doing my best not to bite people's heads off for things their alternate selves have done. But cranky is a good way to put it.”
“If you’re from the future, then what are the winning lottery numbers?” Cordelia asked.
“Come on, who memorizes lottery numbers in the off chance they'll come back in time?” Native Xander asked.
Cordelia raised an eyebrow and rattled off three sets of lottery numbers. “That's last year’s lottery numbers on my birthday, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.”
Future Xander snickered “She did the same thing when we had an alternate reality created by a wish pop.”
“So you remember at least one set of numbers?” Cordelia demanded.
“About three months from now, yeah.” Xander admitted. “But we're not on speaking terms and that goes for Willow and Oz as well.”
The dark haired girl behind him poked him “So you said two years was fine, right?”
Xander grinned, seeing another way to tweak the Scoobs and borrowed a pen and paper from Joyce. Quickly writing down a set of numbers and a date. “Mystery girl you have a choice. Date me, or win 3.8 million dollars in a couple of months.”
“Yes!” The girl did a little jig and snatched the paper from his hands, making him grin until she stunned him by tearing it up, shredding it, chewing it up and spitting it into a waste basket before practically tackling him in a hug.
Angel blinked “Dawn, you just gave up being a millionaire to date Xander.”
“Yep!” She smiled widely at the Xander she was holding then frowned “Mystery girl?”
“Yep, alternate time line Xander here, I've never met you.”
“Well, that sucks.” Dawn said sadly.
Xander patted her back, “It means you have a whole other chance to impress me, and so far you're doing an excellent job.”
“Perv.” Cordelia said, hitting native Xander in the shoulder.
“What did I do?!” Native Xander complained, rubbing his shoulder.
“You just said Dawn was impressing you.” Cordelia complained, making a shapely woman figure in the air with her hands.
Xander rolled his eyes “As you can see, Cordelia is a bit of a pervert. Dawn just gave up millions of dollars without a second's hesitation to be my girlfriend. I find that kind of devotion to be impressive. The whole shapely woman bit can wait for when she's older.”
“So Buffy will be ok?” Joyce asked, wanting reassurance that her daughter will be fine as the night's associated strangeness sank in.
“She'll be fine.” Xander assured her. “She just goes to LA; gets a job as a waitress, mopes a bit, invades a hell dimension, comes back – the welcome home party gets invaded by zombies, your friend from the book club gets eaten...” Xander trailed off for a moment. “Ok, fine is overstating it. But fine by Scooby standards.”
Everyone was silent for a minute.
“Since she's already on the path to it, wouldn't it be best for me to go meet her there to ensure her safety?” Angel asked.
“Sure, point out the obvious I guess as long as you don't get romantic. But I expect you to keep that rock in your shoe.” Xander said, “And keep them on in her presence.”
“I'll do that.” Angel promised before vanishing out the door.
“I still don't like him.” Joyce and Native Xander chorused.
Xander shrugged “I like that he helps keep Buffy alive. The fact that she has feelings for him makes me think she needs counseling, as far as I'm concerned corpses shouldn't give you any warm fuzzies unless there is something wrong with you or someone is mojo-ing your head.”
“You think someone made her fall for a vampire?” Joyce asked hopefully.
“It’s possible.” Xander admitted, “I mean falling for a corpse that's older than America isn't exactly natural especially when her Slayer instincts should be telling her to kill the unnatural thing.”
“Geeze, jealous much?” Cordy said rolling her eyes and recalling how she'd been attracted to the broody vamp herself and annoyed at Xander for the way the new Xander was treating her.
Native Xander frowned, not liking Cordy's insinuation to his other self, but the dimensionally misplaced Xander just grinned.
“You're saying I'm jealous because you believe I want a relationship with Buffy, right?” Xander's grin had an edge.
“Ok, let’s test that theory. Xander I'll need your help.”
Native Xander looked at him suspiciously. “I'm not sure I feel comfortable doing this in front of Joyce and Dawn.”
“Aha!” Cordelia crowed, wheeling on the native Xander “You are still attracted to her!”
“That's not the reason.” Native Xander said flatly, looking more than a little uncomfortable.
Xander looked down at Dawn, “Why would he not want to do this in front of you?”
Dawn shrugged “Let’s see, I've had a crush on Xander since I first laid eyes on him – and Buffy is my older sister.”
“Good taste in men is a plus, as is not bleaching your hair. How do you feel about vampires?”
“It’s a shame ants are only active during the day, because staking one down for them would be loads of fun. And if the flies would just do their jobs and lay eggs in them the maggots would eat them and the world would be a better place.” Dawn said thoughtfully.
Xander picked her up and swung her around joyfully, “Ok, I am definitely liking you more and more.”
Joyce looked over at the native Xander, “Why don't you want us to see your reaction?”
“It’s not a good one.” Native Xander said flatly.
“Drool is rarely attractive.” Willow giggled.
Xander grinned evilly “I don't think that will be a problem.”
“What’s the problem?” Oz asked curiously.
“Nausea mostly.” Native Xander admitted. “I can hide it when she hugs me, as it’s not like we're in skin to skin contact but the thought of being ... intimate with someone who was willingly intimate with a corpse … That's just …” he trailed off looking green.
“Enough! Angel is not a corpse he is a vampire. But he is also a good person! Sure, he's a bit cold and has a restricted diet – but he moves, breathes, heals and lives. Corpses don't do that.” Willow burst out.
Native Xander backed down but still looked a bit nervous.
Xander sighed. “Some people cling to their delusions harder than others, and I can see from how the local me is reacting that I'm going to have to have someone fix the mind mojo-ing he's been through.”
“Huh?” Native Xander said, suddenly paying very close attention.
“The vampiric version of Willow stopped by the Harris residence. Since none of the people who live there actually consider it a home the normal threshold protections are weak enough that vampires who don't intend harm can enter. Both Dru and Vamp Willow have altered Xander's mind. They both meant well, strangely enough – Dru ensured the multitude of hyena remnants and soldier memories wouldn't drive us insane while emphasizing the traits she thought would help us survive. Willow's vamp self touched up her work a bit and added compulsions to obey and be attracted to Willow. They also made it so we consider them people. We have vamps with hypnotic powers running around, did you expect everything they did to be obvious?”
“Back to the corpse thing.” Joyce suggested.
Xander nodded “Vampires kill people and get them to drink their blood while dying. The person dies, leaving a corpse behind that the blood demon then inhabits. At no point in this does the body come back to life. It’s simply a well preserved corpse being worn by a demon. Vampires don't get sick because they are dead, but they can still be carriers for god knows what. Anyone want to dispute any of what I said?”
The looks of horror as people followed his reasoning warmed Xander's heart.
“Now, Angelus is a master vampire and while he is physically unable to do anything – I'm not so sure he can't use a little of the mental mojo to mess with people. Hell, he could have known about how to break the curse, and this is simply the first time Angel got close enough to someone for long enough for him to do it. All it takes is a lot of little subtle nudges to make everyone think of him more as a human with a demon inside than a demon possessed corpse haunted by the man he once was.”
“That … makes sense.” Oz said suddenly.
“Then why weren't you affected?” Willow asked.
“Because I hate vamps with an overwhelming passion that completely eclipses reason, and my soldier memories and hyena instincts reinforce that.” Xander replied.
Native Xander nodded, “That makes a lot of sense now that I think about it... and why is your left hand glowing pink?”
Xander held up his left hand revealing a glowing pink Lantern ring. “It’s a light red Lantern ring. I picked it up on the world I was on before ending up in Hell. Not quite sure how to work it. The Green Lantern ring is easy to use, if limited since it’s a ring generated limited copy. But all I know about the light red one is that I can heal people I love with it.”
“Hominah hominah.” Native Xander mumbled, overcome with comic book geek joy.
“You're looking better than you did when you came in.” Oz said.
“I thought I was feeling better because of …” His eyes widened as something occurred to him. “You love me!” he accused Dawn who blushed but still wasn't letting go.
“So it heals those you love, and being in contact with those who love you heals you.” Native Xander guessed.
“So you're a Pink Lantern?” Willow asked.
“Light Red.” Both Xander's spoke up, prompting a round of laughter from the women.
Dawn touched the Light Red Ring and the glow went nuclear for a moment, blinding everyone before vanishing – leaving a very healthy looking Xander who suddenly swept Dawn up in a kiss.
“My arm feels better.” Native Xander said, rotating his left wrist.
“My headache's gone.” Joyce announced.
“Mine too.” Willow added.
“I'm guessing a strong enough love will affect everyone in the area.” Cordy said dryly.
“Ahem!” Willow said loudly, trying to get Dawn and Xander to come up for air.
“My baby's first kiss.” Joyce said with a sigh and a smile.
“Its going to be your baby's first kid if they don't break it up.” Cordy said snidely, jealous that Xander was kissing another girl in front of her, regardless of whose Xander it was.
Joyce took in the way Dawn's hands were working their way under Xander's shirt and decided she was right. After futilely clearing her own throat a few times she touched the “Light Red” Ring as well, causing the ring to glow like a 90 watt light bulb – which caused the two to turn and hug her, saying she was the best mom ever.
“I'm guessing there's some magical feedback.” Native Xander guessed, feeling quite good himself.
“Really?” Oz deadpanned.AN2: This is just some stuff I tossed out to get rid of a block or two. None of it was good enough to put in a fic, but it is mildly amusing.