Before you read this I would like to emphatically state that this is NOT a YAHF! And that, whilst this particular tale does take elements from the season 2 episode 'Halloween', neither Xander's costume, nor its lasting effects on him, are anything but canon.
A splash of blood, that’s all it took. Well, kinda, it also took a bunch of freaky chaos magic.
Buffy and Cordy had gone to a frat party. I followed them to try and make sure that they- well, that Buffy at least- didn’t do anything stupid. Turns out that that particular frat house was a front for a demonic cult, they tried to sacrifice Buffy and Cordelia to some snake monster in the basement.
The calvary arrived, in the form of Giles, Willow and Angel, and the demon was slain before anyone was hurt. Plus I got to vent seventeen years worth of frustration on some spoilt rich brats. It was a good night.
Except for when Angel sliced the demon with his sword. He followed through, and accidentally flicked snake-demon blood into my eye.
“Xander, will you please calm down?” Giles snapped.
It was the morning after the party, before school, and I was in the library, one hand covering my left eye, which had been itching like crazy all day.
“Giles!” I continued to panic, “Demon Blood! In my eye! Badness follows!”
“Xander,” he sighed, “For the last time, the blood of Akida should not cause you any problems. The itching in your eye is most likely just irritation being enhanced by your own paranoia.”
“Uh-uh,” I shook my head ‘no’, “I remember seeing something in the books when we were researching, there was all kinds of stuff about demon blood and infections!”
Giles sighed again, “Whilst it is true that there are several demonic breeds which can infect a host with an ‘Aspect of the Demon’ through contact with their blood, these creatures are the minority and I can assure you that Akida is not one of them.”
“You’re sure?” I asked hopefully, still clutching my eye to try to suppress the itchiness.
“I am positive,” Giles reassured me, “If your eye is still irritated, then wash it out with water and give it some time.”
“Fine,” I grumble, good-naturedly, “Ruin my perfectly justified freakout with logic and reason.”
“I’m sure you’ll survive,” he commented dryly, as I left for class.
The next week or so passed without major incident. At least not until Halloween.
Snyder drafted Buffy, Willow and I to this trick-or-treating program, which is a real shame cause it put off our Bollywood movie marathon.
That night, I grabbed some fatigues and bought a toy gun from this new costume store and went as a U.S. soldier. I remember, halfway through the evening, I actually became one. For about two hours, I was Private Alexander L. Harris of the United States Military, trained in basic combat and specializing in explosives and sniper training.
Willow the Friendly Ghost guided my confused persona through the chaos that was the streets as we found Lady Elizabeth the Useless of Buffonia and Cordelia in a Cat Costume. Then things really went to hell when Angel and Spike got involved.
Weird thing though, throughout the night, even after I regained control of my body, my left eye was itching like crazy again.
I woke up the morning after Halloween from nightmares of basic training. It seems that Soldier Guy’s left a few things behind.
As I wandered through my room, collecting clothes and books for school, I looked over what I had accumulated from last night. A few memories of sniping techniques and explosive recipes where rattling around my head, as well a bunch of stuff about the Sunnydale Army Base.
Walking out the door and into the hall, I started to make my way towards the bathroom a few doors down. Normally I try, usually unsuccessfully, to be very quiet, so as not to antagonize my parents who, especially after a holiday like Halloween, are more than likely nursing hangovers, and I was glad to see that I had not made a sound this time. I had missed all of the squeaky boards and my footsteps had been uncharacteristically silent.
Heading into the bathroom, I began my usual morning routine. As I stopped at the mirror to shave though, my blood ran cold. Something was very off about my reflection.
Forming a perfect circle surrounding my left eye was black skin. Not tanned skin. Not bruised skin. Pitch black-as-the-night-sky skin, creating a startling contrast with the rest of my face, which appeared shockingly pale in comparison.
“Hey Harris, when did you join Kiss?” Larry laughed when he saw my face.
Despite my attempts to hide it with a hooded jacket, bumping into Larry had revealed my new complexion for the world to see.
“So not in the mood Lar,” I said as I tried to sidestep around him, only for him to move to block me.
“Oh no,” he mocked, “Yet here you are. And without your little blonde bodyguard I see.”
“Larry, I’ve got a lot to worry about right now, so get your cro-mag skull out of my face,” I snapped.
“Or what?” He leaned in closer, and I suddenly became aware of the two linebackers standing not too far away.
The words were said before my brain could initiate an override sequence, “Or maybe I’ll kick your ass!!”
Larry laughed along with his buddies at the absurdity of the notion.
Next thing I know, he’s launching a right hook at me.
I moved to dodge, missing the hit by a hair’s breadth and leaving Larry to follow through as he tried to punch with his left. I ducked that one too, leaving him overextended and overbalanced.
As Larry fell passed me, I was shocked at my sudden burst of speed. Usually I couldn’t move that fast without a vamp fueled adrenaline rush driving me on. Once Larry hit the floor, his buddies closed in on me and started launching attacks of their own.
I ducked and weaved through them, miraculously avoiding every single punch they threw my way, until I saw one of the guys prepare to tackle me. I don’t know what drove me to do it, it was like my body was on autopilot for a second, but as I moved to the side it somehow turned into a dive, allowing me to miss him completely and moving with way more grace than I should have been capable of. I hit the ground rolling, ending up in a crouch, from which I sprang forwards and started running full pelt towards the library.
“Um, why does Xander look like a human domino piece?” Buffy asked as soon as she and Willow saw me.
Looking up from his book, Giles answered testily, “That is exactly what we are trying to find out.”
“What the Watcher said,” I confirm, not looking up from my own book on chaos magic.
Turning to me again, Giles asked, “Are you absolutely sure that your costume last night couldn’t have caused this?”
“Like I told you,” I answer, “I dressed as a garden variety soldier. Nothing wig-some. And aside from a few disjointed memories, there doesn’t seem to be anything left.”
“Well,” he sighed, “I can’t seem to think of anything else that could have caused this phenomenon other than the chaos magic Ethan loosed last night.”
“Xander?” Willow asked tentatively, “Isn’t that the eye that the demon blood splashed last week?”
“Yeah Wills,” I reply absently, still not looking away from the book, “But Giles told me that that shouldn’t of done anything.”
“Of course!” He exclaimed, “Akida!”
“What’s an Akida?” Buffy asked.
“The snake demon you were almost sacrificed too last week,” Giles sighed.
“Watcher-man has answers?” I perked up immediately, “Cures even?”
“Um, not exactly,” Giles muttered, reaching for a new book and scanning through it until he found a particular passage, “You said that, when you were assaulted in the hall, you acted on instinct? And that no matter what they did or how you moved, they could not land a single hit?”
“Yeah? It was weird, almost like the old Harris luck had reversed for a few minutes there,” I told him.
“Giles rubbed his glasses,” I observe, panicking a little, “That’s never a good sign. You know what’s going on don’t you?”
“Possibly,” he admitted weakly.
“Well we don’t,” Buffy spoke up, “So why don’t you explain everything. From the beginning. In English.”
“Last week, Xander, when you came into contact with Akida’s blood - ” Giles began before I cut him off.
“Hey, you said that the freaky snake blood wouldn’t do anything!” I say accusingly, then, seeing the look on his face at being interrupted I abruptly change directions, “But please continue.”
“Thank you,” he commented dryly, “As I was saying, Akida’s blood must have left some sort of a taint upon you, one connected to the power of Janus through Akida’s power over the fortune of men. It is conceivable that the taint may have been awakened by your exposure to Ethan’s invocation of the power of chaos last night.”
“But, what does that mean?” Willow asked.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Giles admitted, “Though, aside from the obvious cosmetic changes, and judging from your accounting of what happened in the hall I believe that you may in fact have gained some form of Akida’s power over fortune.”
“You described your altercation with Larry as your luck changing direction,” he replied, “I believe that that is exactly what happened.”
Following that little revelation, Giles needed to test his theory.
His first idea was to have me flip a coin and try to guess the outcome. He figured that if I did have Akida’s power over luck, then something like that should have been easy to control. He was wrong. After nearly an hour of repeatedly tossing a single coin and not getting the results he was expecting, he came up with a new test.
In the new test, he had Buffy and Willow throw stuff at me. We discovered that, if I stayed still, I’d get hit, no surprises there, but if I tried to dodge whatever was coming my way then it didn’t matter how accurate they were or how many projectiles where being thrown in my direction, not one of them would hit me. Some instinctual force guided my body into the perfect placement to avoid them, sometimes even causing me to perform feats of speed and agility that I really should not have been capable of doing. I actually managed to dodge a baseball thrown by Buffy at full speed.
Giles’ second test involved testing my accuracy. I had always had decent aim, pitching in Little League and playing darts when I was younger had been two of the few ways that I could get my dad’s attention, but now... it was like I couldn’t miss. Throwing knives, crossbows, pencils even, it didn’t matter, if I aimed it then I would hit the bullseye every single time.
It actually gave me a really good idea to help out Buffy.
That night, I borrowed something from Giles and went with Buffy on patrol. Before she began her run through a cemetery, I drew upon Private Harris’s memories and went looking for the perfect vantage point, in a tree or on top of a mausoleum if at all possible. I found it on top of one of the tombs, under the dark shadow of a tree where I wouldn’t be easily seen. As Buffy walked through the graveyard I kept her in my sights, ready to help her if she needed it.
Buffy walked sedately, successfully managing to project the image of the ditzy teenage girl that she only sometimes actually was in order to lure in the vamps. Unfortunately, none of them seemed to be out tonight and I quickly grew bored.
When a pair of vampires finally showed their faces, Buffy fought fiercely, but was unable to get the upper hand.
From my position about fifty yards away, I drew an arrow and raised my bow. Taking careful aim, I had to wait for the perfect moment, when Buffy was out of the shot. I fired, and the arrow flew true, driving into one of the vampires hearts, allowing Buffy the opportunity to stake the other.
Things changed thanks to my new status. My skin tone especially caused a lot of problems since I refused to let Buffy slather my face with make-up and I was now forced to walk around with diametrically opposing complexions for all to see. People, namely Snyder, ended up labeling the black patch as a gang tattoo and suddenly I was avoided like the plague.
My grades actually improved, as I was now acing any multiple choice quizzes I was given, unfortunately my luck didn’t extend to essay questions or short answer sections of the tests, but at least I wasn’t doing any worse there.
Patrols continued like the first one, with Buffy luring out vampires and me dusting them from a distance, hiding to the side with a bow and arrow. It wasn’t a perfect system and, to be honest, it got more than a little boring just waiting for the vamps to show up. Made me wonder how Buffy had been doing this alone every night for over a year without going insane with sheer boredom.
Things on the Slayage front had been odd, even for us. We got yet another possession demon, a robot, even a second Slayer. Even stranger were the evil mind controlling eggs.
Yesterday though, we got news of yet another problem. For Buffy’s seventeenth birthday, it seems that Drusilla and Spike decided to get her a present in the form of an early grave. They had brought together an indestructible demon known as the Judge and, according to all of Giles’ books, he could not be harmed by ‘any weapon forged by man’.
Possibly even worse though, was the news that Angel had returned to the dark side.
We were at the mall when I broke away from the group, I had already set the rocket launcher up so that all Buffy would have to do is point, click and pray it works. I quickly made my way up to the second floor, where I found the perfect position to do what I had to.
Before we had left in search of the Judge, Giles had taken me aside.
“Xander,” he said, “I need you to do something for me.”
“While Buffy is distracted with dispatching the Judge,” he began slowly as he offered me a gym bag, “I need you to use this.”
Unzipping the bag, I reached in and pulled out a compact bow, complete with a scope attachment, along with a quiver filled with arrows.
“Why are you giving me this?” I asked.
“This should greatly increase your range,” Giles explained, “And the arrows, while composed of metallic alloys, are tipped with wood, so they should still be effective against vampires.”
“...You want me to kill Angel,” I realized, “Don’t you? To assassinate him while everyone’s distracted by the big bang.”
“Yes, Xander,” he admitted softly.
“You don’t think she can do it.”
It wasn’t a question.
“Whether or not she can or cannot is irrelevant,” he pressed, “The point is that she shouldn’t have too.”
“What do you mean?”
“Angel is dead,” he pushed darkly, “All that is left is a creature so monstrous and vile it had to be caged in the first place. But Angelus is not like the others that Buffy faces each night. He is different because will use Angel’s past with Buffy, not to simply kill her, but to completely destroy her first. I cannot allow her to be exposed to that.”
“Why can’t you take the shot?”
“I don’t have the skill,” he admitted, “Nor the luck necessary to catch a vampire off guard.”
I nod, and, placing the bow back into the bag, I slung it over my shoulders and moved to go rejoin the others, saying as I do, “You know that she’ll hate us for this, right?”
“Yes,” he whispered faintly, “But, in time, I believe she will forgive us.”
“I wish that I could believe that. But we both know that, if she sees it, we'll be dead to her. Just like Ms Calendar.”
“Just make sure that Angelus does not survive.”
Looking through the scope, I had the arrow aimed directly at Angelus’s heart. Now all I had to do was wait.
The Judge spoke, Buffy quipped, the rocket launched, the Judge burned. My moment came.
Angelus dove forward to escape the explosion, in the air, with fire flying around him, he screamed as he dissolved into dust. Drusilla the Mad Seer’s existence ended in a similar fashion.
The sudden explosion of light and sound forced Buffy to flinch, so she missed seeing my arrows embed themselves into her ex-lover’s heart before he dusted. She must have assumed that Angelus had simply been caught up in the explosion
‘Lucky me,’ I thought darkly, as I watched her from my position, crying onto Willow’s shoulder for her lost love.