This one is for texaswookie. Not sure how I feel about it though.
Looking at my hands, encased in leather gloves, I curse whatever gods or higher powers that may exist. I’ve always been a very tactile person, I liked to touch, to hug, to comfort my friends, and now I can’t do any of that without hurting them. It’s hell. My own personal prison according to Giles.
That’s what the spell did after all, when Catherine Madison, cheerleader obsessed witch, tried to blast Buffy into oblivion, trapped me in a prison of my own devising. I took the shot, didn’t know what else to do, and was rewarded with this curse. I am trapped within my own skin, cursed for the rest of my life with the knowledge that just touching another person will hurt them, drain them of their strength... their memories... their lives.
It’s a rush for me, to feel that surge of energy as I drain someone. The knowledge... the power I gain, however temporarily. But for them? According to Giles, (Thankfully the only one to experience it), there is little he’s seen that can compare to having your life sucked out of you.
I had drained Giles when he helped me up after the blast. He had offered his hand and I had grabbed it without thinking. The second our skin touched, I felt something. I saw a rush of images, scenes from his life. I saw flashes of his days as a punk called ‘Ripper’, his days in the Watcher’s Academy, I felt knowledge of demons and magic, languages and fighting styles rush into my head. I even developed a sudden craving for tea. The most noticeable amongst all of this though was the sensation of power I suddenly felt flowing through my veins. Magic, I realized using Giles’ stolen memories, I had even drained his personal power.
While all of this had been going on inside of my head, Giles had collapsed to the ground unconscious.
Using some meditation techniques Giles had known, I managed to remain calm enough to use what must have been his wits to keep Buffy and Willow from freaking out. Though I think it may have freaked them out even more when I started talking in a British accent.
Buffy carried Giles back to the library to recover. Willow and Amy had panicked a bit over the disappearance of Catherine Madison, the crazy witch had recast whatever spell she hit me with and somehow sent herself to oblivion, but I managed to get them to follow me and Buff.
Giles woke up about an hour later. I could actually feel everything leaving me, going back to where it belonged. I could feel the memories and the power fade as he regained consciousness, and thankfully the urge to wear tweed had gone with it as well.
He explained the situation to me as soon as he had figured it out, how the spell had cursed me permanently. I would never be able to touch another person again without hurting them. I wept that night. I wouldn’t be able to hold Willow ever again. God, I’d die a virgin!
When I came to school the next day with a pair of leather gloves added to my wardrobe, Cordelia had noticed. She always notices any change in fashion, makes it easier for her to mock people, and she asked if I had finally taken to heart her lectures on the evils of spreading ‘Loser Germs’.
When I entered the library, the girls were mournful. Both of them blamed themselves, Buffy for being targeted and Willow... well, I’m not actually sure how Wills was blaming herself, she managed to reach a new speed of Willow--Babble. I shrugged it off with a joke and went on as normal. Giles was apologetic, and extremely curious about my condition when I related what I had felt.
He looked fearful when I told him I still remembered bits and pieces of his life, but aside from a few nights from his younger days that had me consider draining Giles again if I ever met a girl I could touch, I only remembered a few fine details. I told him that the secret of his misspent youth was safe with me, for some reason he didn’t want me to tell the others about how there was a time when he wore leather instead of tweed, I’ve got no idea why, must’ve faded or something.
After a day or so, Buffy and Willow confronted me about how I was feeling, I hate how they can just read my mind without even having the decency of being telepathic. We talked. Buffy tried to relate my curse to her own destiny as the Slayer and Willow offered all the support that she could. I do love how those two can make me feel good in ways other than the normal teenage male being flanked by two beautiful girls.
After that things kinda returned to normal, or whatever passes for normal in Sunnydale, although I was forced to take a backseat during the Slayage, I really did not want to know what draining a demon would be like. At least until our Biology teacher turned up dead, which was a shame cause Dr. Gregory was a pretty decent guy, except for, you know, the whole trying to make me learn thing.
His substitute was incredible. Drop Dead Gorgeous is the best way to describe her. She had half the class hanging on her every word, which was more than Dr. Gregory ever got. She invited me to help her with a science project after class for the school fair. My condition, as well as our age difference and all other streams of logic, were immediately forgotten as my lower head was doing the thinking when she asked me to meet her at her place. I really need to have a talk with it.
I ignored Buffy and Willow’s suspicions about her, but, in my defense, I had been around Cordelia and her sheep long enough to know that girls generally don’t react well to anyone prettier than them. How was I supposed to know she was a demon?
I woke up, suspended in her basement with a giant praying-mantis moving towards me. It didn’t take much to figure out that the monster was in fact Miss French, especially not with the guy in the cage crying about it. Since Miss French had actually covered praying-mantis’s in class, the one time I actually paid attention, I could figure out what I was in for. I started screaming.
Luckily, or, unluckily, as the case may be, she knew as much about my condition that I did about hers. With the gloves and jacket on and everything, she hadn’t actually made skin contact when she had dragged me down here and chained me up. So when she dragged her... whatever it was across my face, we were both in for a shock.
I felt the pull, just like with Giles, only stronger this time. The monster in front of me let out an ungodly shriek as it’s memories poured into me. I learned everything about it... her, in seconds, most notably her victims, and her powers. At the same time, I felt a weird energy flow through me, similar to Giles‘ magic but still very different. Her memories helped me realize, she had the power to shift between her human form and this one, and now so did I.
Calling on her mind, I triggered the change, and immediately felt myself growing. I could feel new limbs forming, old ones changing shape, an exoskeleton growing from my skin. In seconds I had become identical to her, although a bit smaller. My new form was strong, easily enough to break through the restraints.
As soon as I was free, she had recovered enough to attack. I lost track of how long we fought, but she was weak from being drained, and I was eventually able to wound her despite my new body’s overwhelming instincts telling me to submit. Death at her... hands, or whatever she has, would be too God damned ironic for me to accept.
She was down and dying when I transformed back into myself, her strength already starting to abandon me. Using a broken pipe lying against the wall I started playing Mantis Pinata until she finally stopped moving. When Buffy and the others found me, the other guy had ran off and I was destroying her egg sacs. The memories were already fading and I new that I couldn’t shift again, but I could still remember all the people that she had killed, in a very disturbing manner, and it wasn’t a particularly nice feeling.
That little adventure showed me the good my curse could do. I could absorb demonic powers and use them to help Buffy, for as long as they stayed anyway. I tried to limit the use of my powers though, the instincts of the demons were pretty hard to ignore, depending on the species. The vampires for example, were so completely overwhelmed by the presence of my soul that I could steal their strength without going off hunting for blood, but there was a situation at the zoo where some students got possessed by Hyenas.
I accidentally zapped one of them and the Hyena had full control for the hour. That was a bad day. Buffy and Willow still won’t look me in the eye and the urge to eat my meat rare is annoying as heck.
I was shocked... Horrified. There was a prophecy. Buffy was going to die, and the Master was going to rise. After everything we had done over the past year, the world was going to end and the Slayer was as good as dead.
“I quit!” Buffy yelled, tears falling from her eyes as she screamed at Giles, “You just find someone else to save the world because I officially resign!”
I kind of phased out after that, lost in my thoughts as I tried to process what I had heard. The Slayer would die at the Master's hands, and then he would rise.
I couldn't believe it, Buffy can't just die! It's not fair, just because she's the Slayer...
Realisation dawned on me. The prophecy said that ‘the Slayer’ would die, but Buffy and the Slayer are two different things. Buffy is the girl, called by fate or destiny to fight against the supernatural, but the Slayer is the power that she wields, and I'm the only person on earth who can borrow something like that.
Reaching out, I grabbed Buffy’s shoulder and turned her around to face me. Her grief was probably the only thing that kept her battle instincts from pulverizing me as I put one gloved hand on the back of her head and pulled her into a deep kiss. I’m about to go to my death here, so I’m taking my shot before I go.
The pull started instantaneously, and I braced myself for the images of Buffy’s life that assaulted my mind. The knowledge that she saw me as nothing more than a good friend was disheartening I’ll admit, but that’s not important. I felt my muscles fill with a strength unequaled by any vampire or demon that I had ever absorbed as Buffy dropped to the ground unconscious.
Turning back to Giles and Miss Calendar, both looking at me with mixes of fear and shock.
“When she wakes up,” I ask them as I walk over to the weapons cage, “Tell her I’m sorry.”
Grabbing a crossbow and a stake, adjusting my grips on both until the weapons felt as though they had been made for me thanks to the Slayer Spirit currently residing within me.
I walk out without another word, leaving G-man and Miss C to figure out what to do. Personally, I think that when I die, Buffy will wake up with her strength back, then she’ll be able to stop the Master once and for all. Yay team.
Moving quickly, I follow the Slayer instincts as they point me towards some kid coming towards me.
“Help me...” he seems to beg.
“I know what you are,” I tell him, watching as his posture shifts instantly from that of a scared child to a dangerous predator, “Take me to your leader.”
The kid doesn’t even chuckle, instead he just turns away, towards one of the sewer entrances, expecting me to follow him.
The Anointed One leads me through a maze of tunnels, eventually showing me to an open room, lit by candle light, before he turns and leaves.
“Welcome.” A voice echoed from all directions.
“Well it seemed rude not to show up,” I reply, stepping into the light.
The Master follows suit, emerging from the shadows, “I was expecting someone a little more... feminine.”
“Yeah? Well I was expecting Dracula. What can you do?” I ask sarcastically, raising the crossbow and firing without hesitation towards the creature's heart.
“Nice shot,” he comments lazily as he catches the bolt before it struck. Stepping forward, he continued, “You’re not going to kill me with that thing.”
“Maybe not,” I say, reloading the weapon, raising it and firing again I answer, “Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.”
He catches the second bolt with the same ease as the first, speaking again, “Do you even understand your part in all this?”
“It’s my job to die here,” I answer, my voice never wavering, “To fulfill the prophecy so that you can go up to the surface, where you will be stopped once and for all.”
Raising my stake, I leap towards the Master in a last ditch attempt to catch him by surprise. For all the strength and speed of the Slayer, he knocks the stake from my hand and catches me by the collar. Looking into his eyes, I suddenly freeze as my mind is overpowered by his own.
“That’s the funny thing about prophecies,” he gloats as I struggle against his mental grip, “They don’t tell you everything.” He leans in to whisper in my ear, “You’re the one who sets me free! If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go. Think about that.”
As he finishes his little speech, his teeth plunge into the base of my neck. The guy must know about my powers because he keeps his skin from coming into contact with my own.
It’s an odd feeling, being the one to be drained of life. Such an ironic twist, I thought idly, the blood loss affecting my brain already. I could feel the Slayer Spirit fade as he drank my blood, along with the remains of Buffy’s mind. The second they are gone though, the Master pulls back.
High on his stolen power, he dropped me, forgotten, face down, into the pool of water. My heart stopping as I struggled uselessly for breath beneath the surface.
The next thing I am aware of is a rush of air being forced into my lungs as someone pressed down on my chest. My heart was beating once again. The second it did though, the lips blowing air into my lungs were suddenly drained by my curse.
Memories that I had already experienced and power that I had previously held flowed back into me as I realized who my savior was.
Coughing up the water in my lungs, I open my eyes to confirm what I already knew. “Buffy.”
“Hey Xander.” She greeted softly, looking very faint as she did so. Looking over her shoulder was Angel, hovering protectively over the girl he loved.
“The Master?” I ask, as I start to stand. Buffy’s stolen strength making me feel a hell of a lot better.
“He went up,” Angel replied tersely.
“Let’s go then.”
Buffy and I followed Angel through the tunnels back to the surface, where we saw a horde of vamps moving towards the high school. I always knew something wasn’t right about that place.
“Buff,” I say as I look up, I can sense the Master on the roof, “I’ve still got the Slayer Strength, so you stay here with Angel.” Turning to the aforementioned vampire with a soul, I tell him, “She doesn’t die. Got it?”
He nods his agreement, shifting into his ‘game face’ before turning back to face the vampiric mob homing in on us.
“Good luck.” Buffy said, before grabbing my collar and pulling me down to her level. Suddenly taking on a very steely tone, she continued, “But if you die again, I will bring you back one more time, just so I can kill you. You got it?”
“Yes’m.” Doesn’t make sense, I have super-strength and am about to face the vampire that just killed me and she still manages to scare the crap out of me.
It takes me seconds to reach the roof, where the demonic Pillsbury Doughboy is looking down through the skylight.
“Yes,” he mutters to the creature emerging inside the library, “Come forth, my child. Come into my world.”
“Hey!” I yell out, grabbing his attention, “Not your world just yet.”
The Master turns around, staring at me in shock he shouts, “You’re dead!”
“Yeah, well, so are you,” I answer happily, “Yet here we both are.”
“You were destined to die!” He yelled in rage, “It was written!”
“Funny thing about prophecies,” I say with a smirk, parroting what he himself had told me, “They don’t tell you everything.”
Growling, the Master reaches out his arm and commanded, “Come here!” I felt the same mental push that he had used earlier, but this time it seemed weaker somehow. Or maybe I was just feeling stronger.
Tugging my gloves off, I answer, “With pleasure,” before moving towards him with all of Buffy’s speed.
Before he could react, I had both hands holding his demonic face in place as I began to drain him. He resisted at first, but was unable to break my grip, with his struggles growing weaker and weaker as I stole more of his strength. The memories of his life, if you could call it that, hit me too, the centuries upon centuries of atrocities and horrors that he had committed, the lives he had taken, the things he had done. It was far worse than anything else I had ever seen, even the She-Mantis hadn't done as bad as him. I could barely deal with it. It took all my willpower not to let go of him.
Finally, when the Master turned limp, held only by my grip on his head, did I let go. Shoving him into the skylight, I watched as he fell like a rag-doll to the floor below, where he landed, impaled, on an upturned table leg. His flesh fell away to dust, though, for some reason, his skeleton remained. As the Master faded from the world, the monster coming from the floor of the library retreated. I guess he was powering it or something.
I jumped down into the library, using the Master’s strength, I barely even felt the impact. Giles, Willow, Miss Calendar and, for some reason Cordelia were all there as well. Trying to recover I guess, but for some reason they all gave me some really odd looks.
Angel and Buffy walked in not long after, Buffy looked a lot better, her strength had faded from me and returned to where it belonged. I guess the vampires out there must have run off when the Master died.
“Uh, Xander?” Buffy asked, confused, “What happened to your hair?”
“Yeah, Dork Boy, do you really think the ‘Skunk’ look is cool?” Cordelia snarked.
“What?” I asked, looking around for a mirror, I really shouldn’t have been surprised when Cordy pulled her compact one out of her purse. Taking a look, I saw that some of my hair had turned white, making a streak that ran across my scalp.
“Must have been a parting gift from the Master,” I tell them, not really sure what else could have caused it, “I’ve never held on to someone for that long before.”
“The Master?” Angel asked.
I nodded my head over to the skeleton, taking a moment to think about it before idly commenting “I think I’m going to destroy it.”
“Why on earth would you do that?” Giles asked, confused.
Moving over to it and picking up the skull, it coming away easily from the vertebrae, I answered, “Stress relief,” as I turned and hurled it at the nearest wall. It shattered on impact. It felt really good.
“Fair enough,” Buffy allowed, “Big day for you and all, huh? Died and everything.”
“You were dead?” Willow squeaked, I guess she hadn’t heard.
“Yeah, but Buff brought me back,” I say, trying to calm her.
Suddenly turning angry, Willow yelled, “You... You... If you ever die on me again Alexander Lavelle Harris I will never forgive you!”
“Hey! Watch the middle name there!” I complain as she wraps herself around me. Careful to avoid skin contact I hold her, and tell her that I really am okay.
“I should have known that not even death could prevent you from annoying people, Xander,” Giles chuckled good-naturedly
“Well if it didn’t stop Deadboy and every other vamp how’d you think it would stop me?” I ask, ignoring Angel’s ‘hey’, Buffy’s ‘hey’ and Cordelia’s ‘I’ve been flirting with a vampire!?’
“Well, what do we do now?” Miss Calendar asked.
“Hey! I hear there’s a dance at the Bronze tonight,” I offered.
“Finally!” Cordelia exclaimed, as though we were just now thinking clearly.
“Sure! We saved the world. I say we party!” Buffy agreed enthusiastically.
A week later, school had finished. Cordelia had headed off on vacation with her folks. Buffy was in L.A. with her dad. And Wills and I were keeping up patrols. Luckily, with the Master gone, the vamp community was down a lot, but there were a few running around here and there.
Unfortunately, the streak in my hair didn’t go away, Giles thinks it might have something to do with the stress of experiencing the full memories of a vampire who’s over six hundred years old. Cordelia did promise that she would spin it and make it seem cool when we got back to school, said she was repaying me for saving her life. Of course, she did make it clear that it was a one time thing, and that I was, of course, still a loser. Whatever, I think it makes me look kinda roguish.
The strength didn’t fade either. Something to do with killing the Master while I had absorbed him caused a larger part of him to be left behind. Thankfully this didn’t include a lot of his personality, it did however, mean that I kept his strength, which was quite a bit more than your everyday vamp, though still less than Buffy’s. The memories though, I could do without. I didn’t keep the full 600+ years, thank God, but I did get the highlights. I get the feeling I’ll be having nightmares about them for years.
But at least it all helped. Though it still killed me sometimes to not be able to touch the others I was getting the next best thing. I could still be there for them, I just had to be more careful about it. And at least I could protect them.
Gotta see both sides of the coin I guess, in order to turn a curse into a blessing. Now if only I could figure out how to have sex without killing anyone I'd be golden.