Here is my tribute to the alleged inspiration for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Our lives are made up of an endless stream of choices, each dictated by things we cannot explain. Is it fate that guides our marionette strings? Chance? Perhaps the careful hand of a higher being, so far above us mere mortals that they are simply beyond our comprehension? Nobody truly knows the answer to that question, but what is known is that an infinite number of possibilities result.
This is the story of what would have happened if one such choice were changed ever so slightly.
The choice in question? The order in which one 'Cordelia Chase' made her wishes to the Vengeance Demon, Anyanka, the Patron of Scorned Women.
In the universe you are familiar with, Cordelia first wished that one 'Buffy Summers' had never came to Sunnydale, allowing Anyanka to create a hellish world where this was so. A chain of certain events then stemmed from Cordelia’s presence, ending when the alternate version of Rupert Giles destroyed Anyanka’s power center, reversing what she had done and returning the world to how it should have been, at the same time stripping Anyanka of her tremendous power and leaving her trapped in her mortal guise. After this, Cordelia continued, completely ignorant of the world that had just been created and subsequently destroyed by her actions, to make several more wishes to the, now human, Anya Jenkins.
In this universe, we will explore the possibilities that may have come about, if Cordelia’s second wish had been granted.
“I wish he could never again feel the touch of a woman!”“DONE!"
I twitched as I heard, first the whisper in the back of my mind, and then physically cringed as I felt the booming voice of absolution ringing through my ears that seemed to reverberate through the entirety of my very being.
My friends around me reacted to my shock as all sense of touch abandoned me. I couldn’t feel my clothes brushing against me or the wind pushing past me, nor the warmth of the sun against my skin.
I tried to breathe, but the air felt heavy and stagnant in my lungs, and I felt almost as though I were choking, but at the same time knowing that I would never suffocate.
Buffy reached out to try and calm me, only for us both to freak as her hand passed right through my body.
“We need to get to Giles,” Buffy stated quietly, her hand still held inside my torso.
I could only nod my agreement, my voice having abandoned me as well.
This was hell... That was my conclusion at least. I couldn’t touch, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t even taste the air around me, hell, as it is I’m amazed I could still hear. My friends had hurried me to the library, where Giles had started us out searching for any references to intangibility.
I was currently standing over a table, unable to sit down without falling through the chair to the floor only to slowly sink until I could climb myself back out-- don’t ask how it works because I have no freakin’ clue. I was hovering over one of Giles’ books, the title of which was long winded and complex, but basically boiled down to ‘idiot’s guide to intangibility’.
As I reached the end of yet another page of completely useless information I reached out and waved a hand in front of Faith, trying to grab her attention.
“What?” She snapped after I finally had to resort to shoving my hand through her head to get her to turn around.
I pointed to the book and mimed turning the page, Willow noticed from the other side of the table and interjected sympathetically, “I’ve been there.”
“Remind me why I got stuck babysitting the not-so-friendly ghost?” Faith asked as she complied, revealing a whole new page of boring, and most likely useless, information.
I motioned to the book again, specifically pointing at the words, which were written in Latin, a language that nobody else in the room--bar Giles-- could read.
“How the hell did you learn Latin, anyway?” Faith asked, one eyebrow cocked.
I stared blankly at her, silently reminding her that I was currently mute.
“Xander learned it in church,” Willow replied absently, not even looking up from her own book as I tried my very best to scream at her to shut up, “He used to be an altar-boy when he was younger.”
“Really?” Faith smirked, casting an amused look in my direction, “Hot bod like yours? I bet all the musty old priests wanted to get with you.”
I continued to fume, trying to delete the very disturbing images that had popped up in my mind, as Willow looked up suddenly, blushing bright red and indicating that she had, in fact, realized what had just happened.
“Oops?” She offered as an apology, I nodded to show my acceptance, and continued to read the page before me, determined in my goal to ignore any more of Faith’s comments.
Unfortunately, ignoring Faith is easier said that done, especially when I had to have her turn the pages for me every few minutes as I searched for anything that might help me get back to normal.
“Okay, just for the record I am so
not here,” Cordelia protested as she did, in fact, enter the library, “I just wanted to tell you all that that new girl is some kind of demon before she goes and kills anyone.”
“What?” Giles asked, confused, “You say that there was a demoness on campus today?”
“Yeah,” Cordelia confirmed in exasperation, “That new girl--Anya something-- she asked me to make a wish, and then her face went all veiny and she sounded like she’d been gargling rusty nails.”
I turned to Giles for an explanation, only to see that he’d gone deathly white.
“Giles?” Buffy poked him, hoping for a reaction, “You recognize her?”
“Oh? Yes!" Giles was snapped out of his minor freak-out, “Cordelia, what exactly did you wish for?”
“Why? Was she some sort of demon fairy-godmother or something?”
“More like a monkey’s paw,” Giles answered, “You may have had an encounter with a vengeance demon, who most certainly would have the ability to cause Xander’s current condition.”
“Condition?” Cordelia asked, now curious, “Can he not touch girls anymore?”
“No, actually, he cannot touch anything, is that what you wished for?” Giles asked.
“No! I just wished that he couldn’t go all cheating around with girls anymore!”
“It seems that the vengeance demon you encountered may have interpreted your wish differently, what was the exact wording of the wish?”
“Um, hold on,” she said, trying to remember what words she had used, I guess, “Something like, ‘never again feel the touch of a woman’?”
“That would certainly explain what has happened,” Giles sighed.
I wondered idly, as Giles seemed to extract answers from Cordelia, if my intangibility had somehow mutated into invisibility as well.
I flagged down Faith’s attention and made a few motions at the Watcher, I think she got the message. A loud piercing whistle rang through the room, turning everyone’s heads towards the originator, Faith.
“You wanna explain all this for Xander?” She asked suddenly. Hey, she understood me!
“Oh, um, right,” Giles stuttered as he collected himself, “Vengeance Demons, ruled by D’Hoffryn, grant wishes for certain people in need in the name of their own perverted form of justice. The wishes are drawn from innocent people who have been wronged somehow, and are twisted and often interpreted in far too literal ways in order to cause chaos and destruction, usually against the party who wronged the innocent. Unless I’ve missed my guess, Cordelia was recently wronged by Xander, placing her within one of their spheres of influence, thus making her eligible for the wish, which created the rather literal effect of making Xander intangible, and thus, incapable of touch.”
“How do we reverse it?” Buffy asked immediately.
“Do we want to?” Cordelia jumped in, “You heard the old guy, this is justice!”
I would have said ‘hey’, but, being intangible and all, I could only take solace in the fact that Willow said it for me.
“We will need to summon Anyanka, the patron vengeance demon of scorned women and the most likely culprit,” Giles explained, ignoring Cordelia’s comment, “Preferably not me as she is purported to detest males of all kinds purely on principle. Willow can perform the ritual and, once here, one of you will need to get a hand on her necklace.”
“Why do we want the bling?” Faith asked, “Why don’t we just kill her?”
I found myself nodding along with Faith’s suggestion. You don’t reason with a vengeance demon. You kill it.
“Vengeance Demons are near impossible to kill,” Giles answered, “In fact, to my knowledge, it would take the power of one of their own to accomplish such a feat, and the ‘bling’, as you call it, is the center of her power. With it at risk, Anyanka should become compliant with our wishes.”
If only I could speak, I would have had a great joke for right about now.
“Really?” Faith drew out, with a lewd grin, “You reckon she could get me some time in a hot tub with George Clooney?”
Eh, not exactly what I had in mind-- I would have said Yasmine Bleeth-- but close enough. And it was nice to know that my mind and Faith’s shared some space down in the gutter.
Giles had set out all of the materials and prepared Willow for the summoning. He had decided that unnecessarily irritating the vengeance demon we were calling to us by having a man perform the ritual was just plain stupid.
Instead, Giles and I stood back and watched as Willow spoke the incantation, flanked by Buffy and Faith with Cordelia standing--despite protests-- directly behind them.
When the final syllable exited Willow’s lips, it was as though the female form simply appeared before us.“The maidens have summoned me,”
that voice from before, the one that said ‘DONE’ in the quad spoke from her disfigured visage, “Yet they allow MEN to stand alongside them, one of which has already seen my power.”
“You did this to him?” Giles asked in surprise, completely ignoring the disdain she was showing towards the two of us, “You made him intangible?”"Oh, but it’s so much more than that, Watcher,”
she corrected with a wicked grin, "He will never age, never come to harm, forced to watch as those he loves grow old or die around him, but he will never be able to intervene. Never able to so much as truly communicate again with those he calls friends.”"Foolish man,”
she muttered, before turning back to the girls, "Why have you summoned me before you, were the results of your vengeance unsatisfying?”
“Personally? No,” Cordelia answered flippantly, “But these losers around me seem to think you’ve taken things a little too far.”
“And that’s why,” Buffy said snarled as she moved forward, faster than eye could follow, and grabbed Anyanka around the throat, lifting her into the air one-handed, “You’re going to reverse it.”"If you think that you scare me than you’re even more foolish than I thought,”
“Buffy! The amulet!” Giles yelled before things could escalate.
Buffy smirked, lifting Anyanka higher with one arm as she reached up to snatch the green pendant in her free hand and prepared to crush it."NO!!”
She screeched, before hissing, "If you destroy my power center, then your friend will remain in his incorporeal state forever!!”
“Well,” Faith drawled, “Seems to me that he’s stuck either way, but at least breaking your thingamajig screws you over as well.”
Anyanka’s face distorted even more as rage overtook her and I became thankful that my incorporeal state had removed any need to use the bathroom.“Fine,”
she surrendered, huffing in irritation, “You release me and I grant you one request.”
“Let Xander be solid again,” Buffy ordered immediately.“Done!!”
She gave a wicked grin, before disappearing, leaving behind not a single trace off her existence.
The second she was gone, I prepared myself for my return to the solid state of matter. It was incredibly exhilarating, to experience the shift and to suddenly be able to feel and breathe again after hours of nothingness.
“Ha ha!” I laughed, so happy that I didn’t even care that the creature that had cursed me was still free.
The girls’ questions distracted me from the wonder of my rediscovered physical form, and as I looked up, smiling happily, I felt it all disappear. I lost my connection to the physical realm and felt myself revert to intangibility again.
‘No!!’ I tried to scream, clutching my head in my hands after the others’ passed straight through me, shouting silent denials, ‘No, I’m solid! I’m solid!’
As though answering my demands my body became tangible again, but this time, as I reveled the simple pleasure of it all, I focused on it, desperate not to revert back.
Turns out that Anyanka got the last laugh. She responded to Buffy’s demand, she let me be solid again, but intangible had become my default setting, so unless I concentrated on staying un-ghosty I would pass right through anything I came across.
That was actually kind of fun, now that I had the chance to adjust. Don’t get me wrong, it was annoying as hell to have to concentrate all the time just to stay solid, but being able to walk through walls? It was almost worth it.
I could keep solid for hours at a time, it didn’t take all that much effort to stay that way, but eventually my concentration would slip and I’d return to my ghostly state, which was incredibly annoying when I was cut off mid sentence. A sentiment that was not shared by my friends, who apparently found that particular situation hilarious.
“We’re, uh, here to join you,” I told the group of witch-hunting wackos, “We wanna get in on the hate.”
I don’t think they believed me, or maybe the Hansel and Gretel demon let them sense that Oz and I were more magical than we appeared, but either way they stalked dangerously towards us.
“You guys know you’re nuts right?” At least one of us had the guts to say it, unfortunately the nice crazy men did not take Oz’s comment very well, which unfortunately led to the two of us running for our lives through the winding hallways of City Hall.
As we rounded a corner, I reached out an arm and grabbed Oz by the shoulder. I dropped my concentration, causing us both to become intangible, I tugged him to the side and pushed us through the wall into the room beyond. Once through, I returned us to our more substantial states and released my grip, watching as a shiver ran through Oz’s body.
“Did you know you could do that?”
“I do now.”
“Does it always feel like that?”
“Like turning into a wolf-man three times a month isn’t?”
It was then that a series of terrified screams reached our ears. Oz immediately zoned in on the air vents as the source of the noise and looked back towards me to meet my eyes.
“And Buffy,” I agreed, “And I think the third one was Amy.”
Oz held out an arm, “Short cut?”
I responded by grabbing the offered limb as we moved towards the wall, turning us intangible again before we collided with the plaster.
The two of us ran through a number of obstacles--walls, furniture and even the occasional person-- as we followed the course of the vent until we came across a very angry mob, their backs turned to us, watching three girls we both recognised as friends be burned at the stake.
I released Oz, allowing him to return to normal, and rushed forwards, still untouchable. I raced through a number of people, a great number of whom I recognized, who each scrambled away when I came running out of them. When I reached the front, all three girls looked to be in trouble, but Amy was beginning the incantation for a spell I remembered all to well, so I figured it best to free her before she did anything stupid. I continued forwards, ignoring the screams of those I had moved through, straight into the flames.
‘OW!! Hot!! OW!! Fire hot! OW!! Fire very very hot!’ I silently screamed as I discovered that fire, in fact, could
hurt me when I was intangible.
I pushed through though, and ran across the burning books, passing through the Amy’s ropes and grabbing her along the way. I pulled her free of her bindings and the stake, cutting off her incantation as she found herself incapable of speech, and dove out of the flames.
With Amy free and no longer cursing things, I jumped to the left and dove in to free Willow, while Oz had gotten his hands on the fire hose and was putting out the pyres, occasionally turning the torrent of water on any idiot who tried to stop him.
With Willow released and the fires diminishing I turned to get Buffy loose. Unfortunately, the group of angry mobs had gotten over their shock at the ghost boy freeing the witches and the other boy blasting them with water and were now preceding to do something insanely stupid. They were listening to the homicidal orders of dead people.
The water pressure must have dropped because Oz’s hose stopped working, but with the fires out that wasn’t so much of a problem. I saw the doors on the other end of the hall open to allow Giles and Cordelia access. Giles immediately held up a beaker of something disgusting looking and started chanting in a language I didn’t recognize.
As I grabbed Buffy and pulled her through her ropes the forms of Hansel and Gretel started to shiver, driving together they fused and transformed into a much more threatening appearance.
“Okay,” I said softly, “I liked the two little ones better than the one big one.”
The mob apparently agreed with me, as they started screaming in terror and fled the room, now free of the demon’s influence.
“I like’em better this way,” Buffy disagreed, now free of her bonds and casually ripping the giant stake from the floor, “Cause this one’ll be a lot less disturbing to kill.”
And she did just that, hurling the wooden pole like a javelin and impaling the troll through the chest.
The Sisterhood of Jhe were damn tough.
Normally, this isn’t much of a problem for me. I’m not much of a fighter and my power isn’t exactly offensive, so getting in the thick of things is rarely one of my duties. But we need to kill these things and Buffy, Angel and Faith can only do so much against the demonic horde currently trying to open the Hellmouth.
The thing is that I can avoid any attack they try, but then I can’t kill them in my intangible state. So here I am, in the middle of a fight against creatures that looked like the Judge’s concubines, phasing an axe into one of them and solidifying in its chest, slicing clean through flesh and bone as I ripped the weapon out and letting it fall to the ground, dead. Unfortunately, as that demon died, another one hit me from behind before I went intangible again.
I flew across the room, propelled by the demoness’s strength, going intangible now that my concentration had been obliterated and phasing through a variety of enemies, allies, a wall, and finally sinking through the floor rather than hitting the ground. I was a little out of it from the pain, so I didn’t stop myself until I came out in the basement and fell to the bottom of the boiler room.
I stopped my descent in the ground beneath the school, ‘swimming’ to the surface and climbing out of the ground before I pulled myself together enough to solidify. I noticed, as I took in my surroundings, that there was a tank of oil in the middle of the room with a bunch of wires connecting it to a clock that had been frozen at 00:31. I must have fallen through it on the way in, I tend to short circuit electronic stuff when I phase through it. Weird clock though, and why would anyone keep down here anyway--Holy Shit it’s a bomb! A bomb big enough to blow the whole school sky high! A bomb that was now nullified without the timer to set it off...
I stopped a bomb... cool.
‘And now,’ I thought with a sigh as I phased again and tried out another little trick I’d learned, I literally walked on air in order to get back to the hallway, ‘Back to preventing the apocalypse.’
‘What kind of life is it,” I wondered as I ran through the halls on my way to the library, ‘Where stopping a bomb is no longer the most exciting thing to do on your Tuesday night?’
I went back to the bomb a few hours later--after the apocalypse had been averted of course-- to see about disassembling it before whoever made it in the first place came back to see why the school didn’t go boom. What I found was the deeply disturbing sight of a napping Oz-Wolf with blood dripping from his muzzle and pieces of flesh strewn around the room. I was already intangible when I came in--I haven’t yet been able to break the habit of slipping intangible when my concentration lapses-- so I didn’t have anything to fear from Oz’s more bestial side, but it was still damn hard not to run screaming.
I decided not to think of who exactly Oz may have eaten, taking comfort in the fact that it was most likely whoever set up the bomb, and instead went to work at dismantling the thing, taking the time to ensure that the bomb couldn’t be put back together again any time soon while Oz-Wolf continued to nap soundly.
Once that was taken care of, I took the time to take a look at the remains and I noticed something really off about them. There was way too much to be from just one person, even ignoring however much Oz must have eaten I could see at least two full people here with a enough left over to suggest a third. Another look at one of the larger pieces, which I’m fairly certain was once the torso, revealed a series of bullet wounds as well. And fatal ones at that. What the hell?
I heaved that particular corpse over to look for a wallet, and was shocked when I found Jack O’Toole’s driver’s license.
Could this’ve been Jack? I mean the guy was a world class psycho, and I could easily see him blowing up the school, purely for kicks... actually never mind, I just answered my own question. But how did he get shot before he got eaten? Maybe one of the others had really bad aim?
I searched the remains in my intangible state, thankful for the lack of olfactory senses, trying to find a gun. I didn’t find anything like that, but I did find something else. Other than Jack’s corpse, all the rest of the flesh looked like it had been decaying for months before Oz got to it. And what the hell was a chicken foot doing in here?
What the hell was going on? Did Jack try to bribe Oz with some corpses and a chicken he happened to have lying around? But even then, that still didn’t explain how the Hellmouth he got himself shot dead!
Maybe someone else betrayed Jack and then used him as bait? But then why wasn’t the bomb reactivated?
This was going to drive me nuts, I just knew it.
Eventually I went to the library, making sure that Oz-Wolf was still sleeping soundly and that the door was locked before I left the boiler room, and started looking through Sunnydale’s newspapers from the past few weeks, trying to find out if Jack had any recent gang affiliations that would explain bullet wounds.
He did. Turns out he was involved in a drive-bye a few weeks ago. One where he was miraculously uninjured. His grandfather was on the scene. His grandfather who happened to own a voodoo shop in town.
If my intense knowledge of horror movies serve me well, voodoo practitioners can raise the dead. Maybe Grand-Pappy gave Jack a new lease on life?
A glint of light drew my attention away from the article, the sun was rising.
I went back down to the boiler room to fulfill my duties as Oz Watcher of the evening.
Rule #1. Make sure Oz is given clothes upon returning to human form.
Rule #2. Unlock his cage and/or restraints without cracking jokes about what activities he may enjoy behind closed doors.
Rule #3. Ensure that Oz does not freak out upon discovering that his pillow is a mutilated torso.
I got there to discover that the moon was, in fact, below the horizon.
“Oz?” I carefully asked as I tried to shake him awake, silently pulling the decaying arm out of his grasp and throwing it across the room before he realized what his cuddle-toy of the evening was, “You up, man?”
He cracked an eye open, “Xander?” Then--apparently remembering the apocalypse which took place last night and any number of possible reasons as to why it wasn’t Willow waking him up-- he jerked into a seated position and worriedly asked, “Willow?”
“Just a concussion,” I informed him, “The Hellmouth’s still closed and everyone’s fine, just a few scrapes and bruises all around. I’m actually more concerned about what happened here.”
Oz’s face, usually a blank slate, took on an expression of actual shock when he saw the carnage surrounding us.
I jerked up. Oz had been silent ever since he’d taken in the scene in the boiler room, even as he got dressed and I walked him back to the library.
“Jack O’Toole,” I answered, before turning back to this morning’s Sunnydale Post, which contained a small article about the desecration of three specific graves last night, “And if my theory is correct, the others were Parker, Dickie and Bob.”
Oz gave me a look, “Those three died months ago.”
“Exactly,” I replied, showing him the article concerning Jack’s brush with death, “I’m pretty sure that you killed a group of zombies.”
Relief shone in his eyes as I continued, “Who were also trying to blow up the school, which would have killed you, me, the rest of the gang, and likely would have caused the Hellmouth to remain open, thus bringing about the end of days.”
“I saved the world?” He asked coolly, eyebrow raised.
“We saved the world,” I corrected, emphasizing the ‘we’, “I short-circuited the bomb, and I think that they accidentally released you when they came by to check on it.”
“Cool,” he said, “So, how do we play this?”
“Much boasting is in our future,” I promised with a grin.
“I’d actually prefer it if nobody knew I’ve participated in cannibalism, zombies or not.”
“Or we could just let it slide,” I shrugged, “Just make sure you brush your teeth for a few hours before you come back to school, Buffy might actually be able to smell death on your breath.”
“Done,” Oz assured me, before continuing, “Death Breath is not particularly pleasant anyway.”
“I know the feeling,” I agreed, remembering how I felt right after the hyena incident, I had little rotting pieces of Herbert the Pig stuck in my teeth for a week. I imagine that it could only be worse having the stench of dead bully rolling off my tongue.
‘Gotta keep quiet’, I thought as I phased through yet another of one of City Hall’s many walls in my search for the mysterious ‘Box of Gavrok’. The Box was apparently desperately needed for the Mayor’s big Ascension plans so, naturally, we decided to keep it from him.
He was having it flown in from somewhere-or-other, but we missed the trade off. This lead to me--the Uncatchable and Uncontainable... something, I really do need to come up with a fancy name for myself, like, Buffy is the Slayer, Willow is a Witch, Giles is a Watcher and Oz, a Werewolf. I can’t just keep going around calling myself a victim of an evil fairy-godmother-- being pointed at the building and told to come back with the mystical doodad that was causing all this strife.
As I poked my head through yet another door to look into yet another room that, yet again, was lacking the very thing I was looking for, I sighed. This was getting boring. Maybe I should’ve brought Oz, the guy could probably have sniffed the thing out for me.
Eventually, I came across an open atrium, where the Box was resting on a raised pedestal, just waiting to be taken.
If I’d actually given the situation any thought I probably would have realized it was a trap, but I was bored out of my mind and somehow scared out of my wits at the same time, so I cannot be blamed for any acts of stupidity I may have committed.
I walked right up and grabbed the Box. Alarms then blared as red lights flashed, reminding me of pretty much every movie I’d ever enjoyed as a couple of minions burst through the door.
I panicked, and just took off with the Box, phasing it with me before I hit the wall. Unfortunately, when I came to the wall I did something I hadn’t done in a while, I managed to knock my surprisingly solid head against the equally solid wall, falling to the ground and dropping the Box as I counted the funny Tweety Birds now circling my head.
I woke up in an office, chained to a chair with a desk between me and Mayor Wilkins.
“X’s awake,” Faith’s voice caught my attention from my right, and the Mayor turned his attention towards me.
“Ahh, Mister Harris,” he greeted warmly. I tugged at my restraints, confident of my phasing, but found them to be just as solid as the laws of nature dictated. “Now, now, this whole room is safeguarded against poltergeists, they’re so much easier to get rid of when they’re solid, so you should find the abilities Anyanka bestowed upon you to be successfully nullified.”
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Well Xander--do you mind if I call you Xander?-- you’ve become something of a problem for me,” Wilkins leaned forward on his desk, “You’re little thieving habit. Now, while snatching a rocket launcher in order to dispose of that arrogant ‘Judge’ character was all well and good, I simply can not tolerate your attempt to steal such an important mystical artifact from under my nose.”
“Then why am I still alive? You’ve stuck me solid, and somehow I doubt you’d lose any sleep over it.”
“Such a sharp lad,” he grinned, “But I’ve always found that the best way eliminate an enemy, is to make him a friend, as my dear Faithie here can attest.”
I can’t hold back the snort. Despite the situation, I tilt my head and smirk at Faith, “Faithie?”
I was rewarded with a growl and a look of disdain, even as Wilkins continued on as though I hadn’t said anything.
“I want to turn you into an ally, Xander,” he finished.
“Yeah, about that,” I begin, “No offense Mr Wilkins, I mean you’re offer is really flattering and everything, but I don’t think I can do it. Being evil? Wearing all the black? I think it would clash with my skin tone, I’m really more of a summer you see.”
“Well, I can’t say I’m surprised,” Wilkins replied, as he walked out from behind his desk and out of sight behind me, “But with your abilities you’re simply too value to waste, so I’ve taken measures to ensure your cooperation.”
He returned moments later with a mask. A mask that looked very similar to one you’d find in a costume store with red skin, fangs and horns, yet was made from wood and looked to be hundreds of years old.
“This is Ogun,” Wilkins supplied cheerfully, “And he is my insurance policy for talent which simply refuses to listen to my sales pitch.”
I struggled as Wilkins began to lower the mask, I may not have any clue as to what the hell it would do, but knowledge isn’t really a factor when you can feel waves of dark power emanating from something.
My struggles ceased when I felt Faith grab my head and force it still, allowing the Mayor to easily position the mask on my head.
The second it was in place the rest of the world disappeared from my perception, and I was reborn.
Ogun is all that I have ever known. His teachings are all that I’ll ever need.
From the moment of my birth he has trained me to be an assassin. Martial arts from the day I could walk. Lessons on anatomy and tactics from the second I could speak. All eighteen years of my life devoted to his training. The knowledge on how to combat anything, be it human, vampire or demon, was taught to me, and I learned as was expected.
I have a new mission. I am to kill Buffy Summers.
I have been ordered to work with a partner. This is unusual, but I will adapt. I am to fight alongside Faith, and to protect her with my life should need be.
We move quietly through the night. Using the sewers we move to a location specified by Master Wilkins, one which was once the prison of a vampire known as The Master. We reach the cavern without incident, all the denizens which would normally reside in such areas are currently out hunting.
I turn to my partner and hold out a hand. She accepts, but not without comment.
I activate my gift, the thing which makes me an asset to my Master. We become intangible. Faith, unused to the sensations, resists slightly as I begin to walk upwards through the air, as though up a flight of glass stairs, but follows without significant complaint.
We reach the roof of the cavern and continue through the earth as though it were air, soon exiting to the surface.
We rise in the center of Buffy Summers’ base of operations, directly above the Hellmouth according to Master, and leap into action.
Faith immediately attacks Buffy, while I move to subdue her associates, only the Watchers are here with her at this hour. Master did not order their deaths, so I withhold my weapons.
The younger one is too startled, he does not offer any resistance as I punch him in the temple, knocking him into unconsciousness. The elder Watcher provides little more of a challenge, despite drawing a foil and attacking with flawless precision, I phased through the weapon and his body, turning around in the air and landing a kick to the back of his skull.
With the associates dealt with, I turned towards the battle of Slayers raging nearby. Waiting for the opportune moment as I observe the fight. Faith and Buffy both moved with precision and efficiency that truly showed their mastery of combat, but they were evenly matched, and it was my job to tilt the scales in Faith’s favor.
Buffy feinted and managed to land a hit on Faith, knocking her back a few steps. It was now that I chose to intervene.
Focused on pressing her advantage, Buffy did not see me coming, but still moved instinctively to avoid my shuriken, and now turned her attention on me.
“What are you?” She screamed as I blocked her strike, sweeping at her legs with my own.
I ignored her questions, the mask of Ogun hid my face well and sowed confusion amongst my Master’s enemies. Instead I pressed my advantage.
From the ground, Buffy kicked at me, but her legs passed harmlessly through my body. I saw realization flash in her eyes, and a single word escaped her lips.
I ignored the nonsense word and drew my katana from its sheath as I prepared to launch the killing blow and fulfill my mission.
As the sword flew, I was forced to remain solid, and she exploited this weakness when she kicked out with renewed vigor, catching my ankle and causing me to fall to the floor, dropping my sword in the process.
She was up in an instant, moving with speeds that she had not shown during her brief battle with Faith, and I was forced on the defensive. I was required to phase almost constantly to avoid her barrage.
“Buffy the mask!” A yell caught her attention, distracting her from me and allowing me to solidify long enough to strike her midsection, “Destroy it!”
The voice was silenced after a meaty ‘thunk’, suggesting that Faith was doing more than just watching us fight.
Buffy’s attention returned to me, with more clarity now that she had a target. She began launching a barrage of attacks at my head, and I was forced to phase yet again to avoid them.
Buffy’s assault was halted when Faith launched herself back into the fray, now wielding my discarded katana.
A soft noise alerted me to the younger Watcher loading a large tranquilizer gun that was aimed at Faith and my orders kicked in. I was to defend Faith at all costs, and I lacked the time necessary to get to either the Watcher of to Faith, so I leapt between the two in an attempt to block the dart with my own body.
The dart collided with my head, the tip penetrating through the forehead of the Ogun’s mask, and the world went dark.
I remembered everything.
I still remembered the moment that Ogun’s mask was placed over my skull, as I was transformed into his apprentice. I remember the years of training and the skills he taught me within my own mind. I remembered the days I spent under Wilkins’ control, as his devoted assassin. But the moment that that the mask was damaged, Ogun lost his hold on me, and I remembered everything else. I remembered who I am.
I am not Ogun’s Apprentice, and I am certainly not Wilkins' Assassin. I am Xander.
Landing on the library floor with all of the cat-like grace that Ogun had forced upon me, I immediately stood and ripped the mask from my face, hurling it away with all my strength.
“Faith!” I yelled as I turned towards the Slayer tete-a-tete, fury rising within me as I remembered the last week I had spent under her and her boss’s control.
The Slayers broke apart at my outburst, and I immediately hurled a dagger at the dark haired Chosen One. She caught it with ease, but I used the distraction to follow up with a kick to her side, directly above her left kidney to inflict maximum pain. She tried to respond, but I phased through her counterattack and continued my assault with an elbow strike to her temple, knocking her unconscious, just as I had done to Wesley and Giles only a few minutes before.
Wesley ensured that Faith was collected by the Watchers, I tried not to think too much about what they did to her but we received word several days later that a new Slayer had been called somewhere in Europe.
Giles pestered me for any information I had about the Mayor’s Ascension, but the only thing that I could tell him was that Wilkins’ had ordered me to kill several people whilst I was under his control. Giles did some digging and learned that the vulcanologist I had killed had recently discovered the remains of what he believed was a new species of dinosaur, but was what Giles recognized as an Olvikan Demon.
This lead to the realization of, not only which form the Mayor planned to take after his Ascension, but also a vulnerability that we could exploit. And Willow and Oz prepared an explosive cocktail that would hopefully mimic the conditions of a volcanic explosion.
So, on the day of the Graduation of Sunnydale Class of ’99, I stood before the gigantic snake-like demon preparing to devour us all and taunted him with the memory of Faith, and how I had used the skills he himself had forced upon me to stop her, until he gave chase.
I ran into the school. Phasing through the walls with the Mayor barreling through them behind me. I cut a straight path to the library, solidifying once I reached the center of the room.
I turned to meet Wilkins’ demonic form when he burst through the wall and froze at the sight of the several tons of explosives piled up around me.
I grinned wickedly, “See-ya ‘round, Dick-head.”
I pushed the detonator and phased, taking something of a perverse pleasure in observing the destruction of both Sunnydale High School and the Olvikan Demon who had enslaved me.
With the demonic crisis dealt with, I now had to deal with traumas of a more emotional nature.
My experience with Ogun had changed me, I was no longer the Xander that my friends had known. Ogun’s training and the blood on my hands had taken a large part of what little innocence I had left. It would take time to re-acclimatize myself, and for my friends to adapt to the new me, so I was planning on taking a road trip to clear my head of the bad stuff and try and find myself again.
On the plus side, I was deadly now. In a fight, I was an untouchable shadow with all the grace of a cat, moving without hesitation and a cold efficiency. Very useful things considering my hobbies, but still a little frightening when you stop to think about it.
Hey, maybe that’s what I could be, a Shadowcat... although I’m not really a cat, and it does kinda sound more like a pok-e-mon than something that strikes fear into the hearts of the demonic community. Eh, I’ll work on it.
I was driving through Cleveland, Ohio, about halfway through the summer. I was on my road-trip, just passing through town on my way to the East Coast, when I found him. Well, actually, a better description would be that he found me.
I wasn't even patrolling, I just went across the street looking for some dinner when a scream cut through the night and, as a card carrying member of the Scoobies, I was drawn to investigate further. Following the noise, I came across a couple of vamps looking for breakfast in the form of a nice young couple.
Ogun's training kicked in and I phased, moving silently towards the two. As the first vampire began to descend upon the young lady's neck, I acted. Solidly punching his partner in the back of the head and jabbing a stake through his back and into his heart, alerting his friend to my presence.
The first vampire threw the girl down to the ground, seeing me as a more immediate threat. He was about to attack when a piercing cry ripped through the air, and flames seemed to erupt around the vampires skull.
"Holy shit," I muttered, as the vampire dissipated into dust and I got a look at its attacker. It was a dragon. A little purple dragon about the same size as a dog.
The young couple, having long since reached their tolerance for strangeness, fled without so much as a 'thank you', so my attention was enraptured by the little dragon, who was just sitting there, gazing at me expectantly.
Eventually, I guess it just got bored, since it started shuffling towards me, sniffing the air around us, until his eyes locked on to my pocket. Realising what he was after, I hesitantly pulled a Twinkie from my pocket and unwrapped it, before holding it out to the waiting creature.
He scarfed it down instantly, and then began to rub his head against my hand in a decidedly cat-like fashion.
"Willow's never gonna believe this one," I breathed quietly as I slowly stood and started to back away.
The dragon sat there for a moment as I reached the mouth of the alley, gazing at me quizzically, before jumping up and following after me. I didn't realize he was still there until I opened my motel room, only for a purple blur to rush in before me. By the time I entered, he was already curled up on my bed.
"Alright," I surrendered, sitting down next to him and scratching him under the chin, "So, what am I gonna call you?"
I clicked on the T.V., deciding to name him the same way I named my goldfish back when I was seven. A commercial for Lockheed Motors popped onto the screen, and I turned to look at the little dragon beside me.
"So, Lockheed," I prodded him, he twitched at the name, so I'm assuming he liked it, "I'm Xander, you wanna stick with me?"
The newly named 'Lockheed' looked up, and nodded vigorously.
And that's how I ended up with a real-live, fire-breathing, miniaturised (though I learned the hard way not to call him that) dragon as my travelling companion.
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