I've been working on this one for a while, so I hope you guys like it.
Appearing in the middle of a library to see a librarian and a cheerleader was unexpected, I thought I was gonna pop out on top of the Hellmouth?
“Demon!!!” The Cheerleader yelled, as she dropped her pompoms and leapt towards me me.
I ducked to the side, carefully avoiding stabbing her with my Soulsword as she passed. She was fast, maybe she was the Slayer I was supposed to help?
“Buffy Summers?” I ask tentatively, she doesn’t stop attacking as she replies sarcastically.
“Great, now the demons know my name, did they send out a newsletter or something?”
“Uh, I’m not a...” Looking down, I remember that with the Soulsword out I do look pretty demonic, with ram like horns attached to my forehead, lengthened canines that can only be described as fangs, goat-like cloven legs and a red, spaded tail, “Oh, that explains it.”
Dismissing the Soulsword and ridding myself of the demonic attributes, she did not even slow down.
Ducking past another assault I yell, “Hey, human here! Stop attacking me!”
“Right,” she answers sarcastically, with a punch, “And the horns and fangs deal was just make-up and a really good costume.”
“Look,” I press, just dodging the attack, “I was sent here to help you!”
“Oh yeah?” She asked disbelievingly, “And who would send a demon to help the Slayer?”
“Not a demon!” I answer testily, God that’s getting annoying, “And I was sent by Jesse McNally!”
“How do you know Jesse?” She raged, attacking again with renewed vigor.
I leapt to the side, but she still clipped my ribs, “We’re old friends, I used to know him and Willow when we were younger. He came to me after he died,” I explained, nursing my bruises, “He told me to come here and keep you, Willow and Cordelia safe.”
“Buffy,” the Librarian spoke for the first time, “I think you should stop.”
Buffy seemed shocked by this order, but did so. Wait a second... Old British Guy hanging around with a Slayer with a few tons of books lying around, duh. “Watcher.”
“Rupert Giles,” he introduced himself, “And you are?”
“Alexander Harris,” I say, with an extravagant bow, “Ruler of Limbo, Lover of Ladies and Kicker of Butt, but please, call me Xander.”
“You were the one who dethroned Belasco?” He asked, shock evident in both his eyes and his voice.
“Who?” Buffy interjected, looking confused, before she motioned towards me, “And why aren’t I Slaying him?”
“Not a demon,” I say through gritted teeth, ‘Oh Jesse, I am so gonna get you for this some day.’
“And what exactly are you?” Mr Giles asked.
“Human,” I repeat, before flippantly continuing “I was born right here in Sunnydale actually, but I was kidnapped when I was about seven by Belasco. He raised me as his apprentice. Then I rebelled.”
“His apprentice?” He asked, looking at me warily.
“Yep,” I reply happily, “He was an ass, but the guy taught me a lot about magic, demonology and a whole lotta other stuff that would probably give you nightmares.”
“And the sword?”
“Little trick I discovered right before I kicked his demonic ass,” I tell him, summoning the Soulsword as I explain. Buffy tenses but doesn’t attack as my horns, fangs and tail grow in and my legs shift, “It’s called the Soulsword. It is literally the physical manifestation of my soul in all its glory, only harms the supernatural for some weird mystic reason that I never bothered to look up.”
“If the sword is a representation of your soul, then why does your body revert to such a demonic appearance?”
“Cause without my soul safely tucked away in my body, the parts of me that Belasco got a hold of pretty much have full reign,” I reply easily, “Hence the horns, the legs, the fangs and the ever so useful tail.”
“The tail is useful?” Buffy asked doubtfully, “For what, swatting flies?”
“Actually,” I answer smoothly, passing the Soulsword to the aforementioned serpentine appendage before performing an intricate series of coordinated strikes through the air, “I was thinking about how it can wield a sword.”
“Yes,” Giles said thoughtfully, his eyes glued to the display, “That would be quite useful in a battle situation wouldn’t it?”
Grinning wickedly for a moment, I added, “That, and the phrase ‘Demon in the Sack’ also comes to mind.”
I enjoyed the awkward pause as my audience turned red.
“Back to the topic at hand,” Buffy said tiredly, turning towards the door, “Giles, if you don’t think he’s going to eat you, then I am going to tryouts.”
“Tryouts?” I ask the British man curiously, was there some sort of fighting competition going on?
“Buffy has decided to be a cheerleader,” he sighed dejectedly, polishing his glasses to vent his frustration, “To be honest I had hoped your appearance had distracted her.”
“The Slayer wants to be a cheerleader?” I ask confused, that went against everything I had ever been taught about them. Slayers were supposed to be fearless warrior women who dismissed any personal feeling.
“This one does,” Giles tiredly replied.
“Good for her,” I shrug, “Bout time one of these gals had a personality.”
“You’ve met previous Slayers?” Giles suddenly regaining his earlier interest in me.
“Oh yeah,” I confirm, “There was one in Limbo called Katherine, not exactly Miss Happy Fun Time let me tell you. She was under some curse for her soul to remain trapped in Limbo until Belasco died.”
“I assume that she was the one who pushed you to rebel?”
“No, I wanted to rebel all on my own,” I correct him, “But Kathy’s the one who rescued me from Belasco in the first place. Had this weird hatred of magic too.”
“Well I can only imagine that after being the victim of a curse, one would develop an aversion to the mystic arts,” Giles dryly remarked. Funny, I think I might actually like this guy.
“Okay,” I concede, “Maybe not so weird then, and at least she taught me how to fight hand to hand. I cannot tell you how useful that’s going to be here on Earth.”
“Why?” The Watcher asked, confused, “Surely, after defeating Belasco, you must have access to incredible power?”
“Yes and no, mostly no though,” I answer cheerfully, “Yes to the power, but it’s all tied into Limbo, so I actually have to physically be there to use it. On my own I’m not that strong magically speaking, I kinda doubt I could set fire to a book as is.”
“One moment,” Giles asked, clearly confused, “If you lack significant personal stores of magical power, then why would Belasco have chosen you as his apprentice?”
“Cause he wanted me for my innocent little soul,” I explain, “Teaching me dark magic was just his way of trying to pervert that innocence so that he could use me to summon some really old demons and end the world.”
“I’m sorry,” he offered, “But, that truly is a shame. My own power is sorely limited to the ritual ingredients I have access to, and it would have been a great advantage to have a more powerful castor on hand.”
“Eh, them’s the breaks,” Looking around I realized for the first time that I had not yet reunited with the other two women I was supposed to protect, “Say, where’re Willow and Cordelia anyway? Do they know about the supernatural?”
“Ah, Willow does,” Giles stuttered, surprised by the sudden change in conversation, “She has volunteered her assistance concerning Buffy’s duties, despite my protests. Cordelia... I assume you mean Miss Chase? To the best of my knowledge she has repressed her recent exposure to the truth of this town.”
“Damn, now she’s going to think I’m crazy,” I sigh in frustration.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why exactly are you here anyway?”
“Like I told Buffy,” I pause for a second, wondering who on earth would curse their child with such a name, I mean, my parents weren’t great but at least they left ‘Lavelle’ out of the public eye, “Jesse was my best friend back in the day, and when he died he passed through my realm. He asked me a favor, and I decided to honor his last request.”
“And Jesse asked you to...?”
“Come home,” I tell him, “To help the Slayer and to keep Wills and Cordy safe. Where are they by the way?”
“With Buffy at the cheerleading tryouts I would assume,” Giles answered, “But, I rather got the impression that Willow and Cordelia had a fairly significant dislike of one another.”
I shrug, I’ve got pretty much no clue what’s been going on here for the last eight years or so, “All I know is that Jesse had a huge crush on Cordy ever since we were six and she gave him a kiss under the mistletoe, regardless of how Willow felt about her.”
I smile at the memory as Giles chuckles sadly.
“I’m sorry to say that I never actually met the young man before he died,” he admitted.
“Shame that, but anyway, I’m going to go find the girls, maybe try and explain things to Cordelia.”
“Are you sure that that is particularly wise?”
“In this town? Can’t hurt to try and tell her. If she represses it then I’ll just have to work that much harder to keep her safe.”
“You have a point.”
Not one to resist a joke, no matter how pathetic others may view it, I summoned the Soulsword once more, grinning a fanged smile I quipped, “I have several.”
“Dear Lord,” he sighed in resignation. I am definitely going to like this guy.
It didn’t take me long to navigate the halls of the school, that reminds me, if I’m going to stick around this town I should probably get S’ym to work on getting me enrolled. Anyway, it was only a few minutes after leaving the Library and the esteemed Mr Giles to his books that I found the gymnasium.
Oh my, I thought as I entered to an incredible sight. Looking at scantily clad women in revealing poses is such a spiritual experience. I felt so giddy, I almost broke into a chorus of ‘I think I’m gonna like it here!” Actually that worries me, I wonder if I should make sure Sweet’s not in town? Stupid, Jazz-crazed, pyromaniacal, pedophile.
I file that thought away for now, I’ll ask S’ym to check on it for me later, for now though, I see Buffy with a red-headed and approximately Willow-shaped girl.
“Hello again,” I greeted the Slayer as I strolled on over to the pair.
“Great,” she huffed, crossing her arms in frustration, “First Angel, now I’ve got yet another stalker guy.”
“Angel’s in town?” I asked, curious, “Wow, the Hellmouth really draws in everything.”
“You know him?” Buffy asked, suddenly much more interested in what I have to say.
“Every demon in the underworld knows about Angel, the guy’s a cautionary tale,” I answered, remembering several of the lessons Belasco taught me about that particular vampire.
“Cautioning for what?” Willow spoke up.
“Don’t mess with gypsies,” I answered mysteriously.
“You wanna explain that?”
“Not particularly, and by the way, stalker? I came over here to talk to Willow.”
“What? Why? I mean, you don’t even know me. Who are you again?” Said red headed girl babbled.
“Aw, you don’t recognize me, Wills?” I teased, “I mean, I know our break-up was a bit rough, but still.”
“We didn’t... I mean, I’ve never...” Willow’s face turned a very interesting shade of red as she stammered out denials to a very interested Buffy.
As she continued to babble out a stream of half formed denials, Buffy looked at me with a protective glint in her eye.
“Does that mean you’ve finally forgiven me for stealing your Barbie?” I asked.
Recognition flashed in Willow’s eyes as she squealed, “Xander?”
“In the flesh.”
“Oh my God! I haven’t seen you in over eight years, where have you been?”
“Between places,” I answer semi-truthfully.
“You’re back now though?” She asked hopefully, “Oh, but... Jesse...”
“Yeah, I, uh, heard about that,” I answered awkwardly.
“How?” She asked as Buffy stood by silently.
“He told me,” I replied simply.
“How?” Willow repeated, now even more confused.
“He’s a demon,” Buffy answered offhandedly, only half paying attention to our conversation as she focussed on the current candidate for the cheerleading team.
“I am not a demon,” I repeat tersely, “I am the ruler of a demonic realm, there’s a difference.”
Seeing Willow’s confused expression, I continued, “Hows about we talk about this in a less public setting, unless you want us all committed to the nearest asylum?”
“Fine,” she acquiesced unhappily, before putting on a version of ‘Resolve Face’ that was much more mature, yet also less threatening, than the last time I had seen it.
It was then that the sound of screams caught our attention, and I turned to see one of the cheer candidates catch on fire during her routine. Maybe Sweet really is in town? Buffy reacted automatically, ripping a banner down from the wall and running to put the flaming girl out.
“At least it wasn’t Sweet,” I told the girls once we’d gotten back to the library.
“How is a crazy, cheerleader obsessed, witch better than some guy named Sweet?” Buffy asked sarcastically.
“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” I told them as I suppressed a shudder at the memory of the last place I had seen while Sweet was visiting, so much sub-standard singing and bad choreography... it was awful, “But hey, at least we’ve got some leads on the witch.”
“We do?” Buffy asked curiously, “Who?”
“Yes, uh, Mr. Xander,” Mr. Giles interjected, offering the proper respect for a demon lord, I’m going to have to knock that out of him, “Please enlighten us.”
“People with the potential for magic are normally pretty rare, but it’s pretty easy to tell from their aura’s whether someone has it or not,” I told my captivated audience, “Of course in this town it seems like every third person or so could be pretty powerful with the right training, Willow included by the way, same with that blonde girl Buffy was talking to at the tryouts.”
“Amy?” Willow offered, “No, I don’t think she could do something like that. She doesn’t even care about cheerleading, she’s just trying out to make her mom happy. Mrs Madison is, like, completely obsessed with that kind of stuff.”
“Maybe, maybe not, but there was definitely something seriously off about her aura, it was almost like it didn’t fit her body.”
“What are you saying?” Giles asked carefully.
“I’ve seen that kind of aura a few times before on people who were being controlled by Belasco.”
“I’m not sure I follow,” Giles admitted.
“Magical potential is inherited. I’m saying, maybe Mommy Dearest is making sure her daughter follows in her footsteps by giving her a little nudge and eliminating the competition.”
Mr. Giles and I went to check out the Madison household to make sure that Amy’s mother was not the witch we were searching for while Buffy and Willow kept an eye out for any more trouble. Gotta say, the Madison house definitely wouldn’t look out of place as a witch’s home, or at least the home of the stereotypical broomstick-riding witch that the current generation of Wicca practitioners are desperately trying to make people forget about.
Giles knocked on the door while I hung back a few steps, and the woman who answered was definitely not what I was expecting.
“Giles,” I interrupt his attempt to introduce himself, “We have a slight problem.”
“What?” He asks, slightly stunned as he turns to face me, leaving Mrs Madison looking very confused.
“Her aura,” I say by way of explanation, “It’s got the same thing as Amy’s. Whatever’s affecting her is affecting her mother as well, but she’s not the one who’s in charge.”
“What are you talking about?” Mrs Madison interjected.
“Mrs Madison,” Giles began, “Have you or your daughter come into contact with anyone... unusual, lately?”
“Huh? Oh, no, Mo- I mean- Amy and I are perfectly fine,” she pressed urgently.
I noticed the slip, how she almost said ‘Mom’ instead of Amy, and it was then that I realized what was wrong with their auras. Amy’s was too much, too experienced for a teenager, whereas Mrs Madison’s showed way too much innocence to be a middle-aged woman.
“You’re Amy, aren’t you? Your mother switched places.”
She froze for a moment in shock before she surrendered, “She said that I was... wasting my youth. So... she took it.”
“We’ve gotta get back to the girls.”
“Certainly,” Giles began, as he rummaged through his pocket for his keys.
“No, we don’t have time to drive the Oldsmobile,” I tell him as I summon a disk of light surrounding the three of us, focussing intently on the library, alleviating their concerns with an “I’ve got transport covered,” as we disappeared.
We reappeared exactly where I had intended, though the fact that Giles and Amy-in-her-Mom’s-body both fell to the ground upon reentry didn’t fill me with confidence.
“You guys okay?”
“A little warning perhaps next time,” Giles groaned as he pulled himself to his feet, turning to me curiously, “I was lead to believe your magical abilities were severely dampened due to your separation from your realm? To the best of my knowledge opening dimensional portals takes tremendous amounts of power.”
“On the Hellmouth? Please,” I scoffed, “The dimensional walls are so weak in this town a drunk two year old could bust through them if he had the right training. No, the only problem is controlling the disk enough so that you end up where you want to be, rather than in the middle of space sometime next century.”
“Please tell me you’re kidding,” a chalk faced Amy begged.
“Uh, sure, let’s go with that,” I lie, no sense in worrying the nearly hysterical girl, “Anyway, we better go round up your Mom so we can set this whole thing to rest.”
“But we don’t have her spell book,” Giles reminded us, “How can we reverse this, because I somehow doubt that she will be particularly willing.”
“I’ve got it covered.”
“Why does that not fill me with confidence?”
“Hey, you’re starting to get me,” I answer cheerfully as I ignored his concerns and strode out the door, “I’ll be back with Amy’s Mom, kinda need both of them here for this.”
I didn’t find Mrs Madison, and it wasn’t until I ran into Buffy and Willow that I discovered she had disappeared at some point during lunch. I sent the girls to the library so Giles could catch them up and then decided to go and find my final charge while we waited for the witch to show her face again, after all, if Catherine’s gunning after cheerleaders, then that must mean Cordelia’s somewhere on the hit list.
Luckily Cordelia wasn’t anywhere near as hard to find, it seems as though everyone I talked to knows her entire schedule off by heart-- or maybe that’s just the guys?-- anyway, I was pointed in the direction of Drivers-Ed. I found her, staggering around like a blind drunk, looking as though she was determined to get into the test car.
“Cordelia, are you alright?” I asked, forgetting for the moment that we had yet to actually be reintroduced.
As she turned around to face me, I saw what was causing her problems. Wrapped around her eyes was an ethereal blindfold, a sure sign that someone had cursed her with some kind of blindness, and I bet I know just who did it too.
“Who are you?” She asked.
“A friend,” I told her, “Come with me and I’ll fix your eyes for you.”
“Are you Daddy’s optometrist?” She asked hopefully.
“No, but I can fix your eyes for you,” I answer.
“Oh, hell no,” she protested as she began to try and pull free, “I am not letting some no-name intern anywhere near me!”
“Trust me,” I told her as I carefully steered her away from the road and towards the library, “No ordinary doctor’ll be able to fix this.”
“Is it something exotic? Are you a specialist?” Cordelia asked with renewed hope as she stopped fighting me, “Oh, please tell me it’s really rare?”
“Sure, let’s go with that.”
“Okay, now try not to panic,” I caution Amy, “Same goes for you too, Cordy.”
“Why would I panic? I can’t even see anything!”
“Yeah, but this cure is going to be instantaneous, so try not to freak out,” I say, as I summon my Soulsword, ignoring Amy’s near scream as she saw my more demonic form, “Relax, I’m the good guy.”
“Sorry,” she whispered nervously, shaking a bit in shock as though I were about to turn on her.
“Yeah, yeah, hey Cordy, try and hold still for a sec, alright?” I ask, carefully lining up the tip of my sword between her eyes, “This is gonna be a bit of a shock.”
I jab the Soulsword into her head, severing the ethereal blindfold and ending the blinding curse, unfortunately I didn’t think my plan through very well, so when she regained her sight the first thing she saw was a demon stabbing her in the head. Not my greatest idea.
“Aaah!” She screamed, tripping over her own feet as she tried to scramble back away from me.
“Calm down,” I try to tell her, dismissing the sword and my demonic appearance as I wracked my brain for an explanation.
“Oh God,” Cordelia breathed as she took in my now human form, “You could have warned me that I was going to be hallucinating! Jeez, what kind of doctor are you?”
“I never said I was a doctor,” I reminded her, “Just that I specialized in treating your particular problem.”
“Whatever,” she blew me off as she looked around the room, “Why are we in the library?”
“I... needed a reference?”
“Fine,” Cordelia accepted, before stopping once her eyes rested on Amy, “Oh wow, you're Catherine Madison aren’t you? You’re like, a legend around here!” She paused for a moment, cocking her head to one side as she really took in Amy’s appearance, “Wow, you really let yourself go, didn’t you?”
“Uh, Cordelia,” I interrupt, “That’s not actually Catherine, that’s her daughter, Amy.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Catherine Madison is a witch,” I tell her bluntly, “And an insane one at that. She used magic to steal her daughter's body and is now cursing all of her competition to ensure that she can relive her glory days. She’s what caused your sudden case of blindness.”
“You’re nuts,” Cordelia said tactlessly, “Not about me being the biggest competition for any wannabe cheerleader, of course, but magic doesn’t exist!”
“It’s true,” Amy whispered, quietly supporting me.
“I can prove it,” I summon the Soulsword, my horns growing through my forehead, my canines lengthening into fangs, my legs shifting, growing fur, hooves and brand new joints and my spaded tail erupting from the base of my spine.
“Oh,” Cordelia gasped, eyes wide in shock.
“What happened to Cordelia?” Willow asked once she, Buffy and Giles returned to the library.
“Fainted. Where were you guys?”
“We were searching for Mrs Madison,” Giles explained as he searched his office for smelling salts.
“No point,” I reply, “She’ll have felt me severing the curse she attached to Cordelia, so I’d put money on her coming straight here.”
“Actually, she’s already here,” we all turned to face the door, to discover Amy Madison’s body, looking surprisingly threatening despite being dressed in a bright yellow cheer uniform, “So, you’re the one who messed up my little spell. What are you, a warlock? A demon?”
“Something in between,” I answer, readying my Soulsword.
Buffy moved forward, prepared to attack the bodysnatcher, but I stopped her with a raised arm, “You can stop her, but you can’t reverse what she’s done.”
“Don’t make me regret this.”
I nodded, then casually reached out and sliced my sword through Amy-in-her-Mom’s-body’s head. The sword passed harmlessly through the human flesh, bone and brain matter, but she collapsed to the floor, unconscious, her aura now detached from her Catherine’s body.
I then leaped towards Catherine, my goat-like legs propelling me forward and allowing me to clear the entire room and land next to Amy’s body, where Catherine was still stunned by what she had just witnessed, and did not react fast enough to prevent me from cutting through her own skull as well. Detaching Catherine’s aura and forcing the Madison women to return to their original bodies.
Unfortunately, this left Catherine in the midst of the group, allowing her to attack. She released an outwards blast of energy, knocking everyone away from her. Buffy, the first to recover, returned to her feet and began running towards her.
Catherine began to build up energy as she spoke the words for a powerful curse, apparently targeting Buffy. As she released the energy however, I threw a light disk between them, transporting the energy to a point directly behind Mrs Madison, where it continued onwards to collide with her back. Causing her to scream as she disappeared.
The group just stood there for a moment, probably trying to figure out what had just happened. I knew that Catherine had just sent herself off to some private hell that she had concocted to trap Buffy in, but I get the feeling the others wouldn’t like that explanation.
“What the hell just happened?” Cordelia shouted, proving to the world that she was both awake, and had, in fact, seen everything.
After the magical display presented to her, Cordelia suddenly had no trouble believing in magic, though she made it very clear that, should that fact become common knowledge, she would destroy us. Funny thing, I believe her.
With Amy back in her own body, and her mother out of action, she was able to return to her father, something she seemed pretty excited about.
Buffy and Willow were both safe as well, for the moment at least, although Giles’ inquiries about the state of Limbo were starting to get annoying. But with the Hellmouth temporarily peaceful, I was able to get away for a while and fulfill Jesse’s other request.
I spotted my prey at the Bronze. He must have sensed that something was hunting him because he left without dinner. I followed him, stalking silently behind him as he moved through crowds, hurrying towards his lair for what he believed was sanctuary.
He cut through the graveyard, probably looking for that sewer access the others had mentioned, and that’s where I confronted him.
“Hey, Vampire,” he froze, and turned towards me.
“Sorry Buddy,” he smiled, “I think you’ve got the wrong guy.”
“No I haven’t. You’re the vampire that took up residence in the corpse of Jesse McNally.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” He asserted, “I am Jesse!”
“No you’re not,” I tell him coldly, “You’re a monster, a demon.”
I moved forward, he shifted into his demonic visage and growled. I drew my Soulsword and my demonic appearance took hold. He froze, I attacked.
He was a fledgling, barely a week old and unused to fighting anything that knew how to fight back. He had the advantage in strength and speed, but I was armed, and had far more experience.
My Soulsword cut clean through his neck before the fight had truly begun, and he crumbled to dust with barely even a dying scream.
“Bye Jesse,” I whispered quietly to the winds, “May you rest in peace.”