It all started after Spike tried to heal Drusilla. Y'see when we killed those assassins, their bosses kinda took offense. They sent this magic guy after me and Buffy to ‘restore their honor’ or something cause we were the ones who did the actual killing.
We had no clue what was coming, we were just in the library, doing research about the latest Big Bad when Buffy just jerks up, she must have sensed him or something, but the next thing we know, everybody but Buffy and me just fell to the floor unconscious, no warning or anything. It was like when a puppets strings get cut.
Anyway, Buff and I are trying to wake the G-man so he can figure out what the hellmouth is going on when the guy just walks in, says that he is taking revenge for his fallen brethren and blasts Buffy before she can react. When he turns to me I've grabbed the nearest thing I could reach and charged at him. He blasts me before I get even halfway to him, the only thing I remember after being thrown against a bookshelf is this blinding light and this burning sensation in my head.
When I woke up on the floor, everybody was crowded around me, looking worried. From what I managed to piece together from Willow's babble, the light that I saw woke everyone up and Buffy got really annoyed at Mr. Mage, but after he'd been dealt with they couldn't wake me up. They asked me what I saw and I told them about grabbing something and trying to attack before being blasted. When Giles calmed down enough to explain, he told me that the 'something' that I had tried to use as a weapon, was the priceless and one-of-a-kind Du Lac Cross, which Giles had been using to translate an ancient text, that was now no longer working.
Giles came to the conclusion that whatever spell the Mage had been, for the most part, blocked by the cross’s magic, this unfortunately countered the translating effects of the cross, rendering it as pretty much a useless hunk of gold (that I wanted to sell but Giles wouldn’t let me).
And that was that, or so we thought, I didn't notice any effects for about a week, I mean when I started understanding French and Spanish classes I figured that it was just years of school and Willow tutelage were finally sinking in, same with being able to read Latin during the research sessions, how was I supposed to know something Hellmouthy was going on?
It wasn't until we were researching how to stop the Judge when we realized that something was up. We were all just kinda reading what we were given, trying to find an answer but coming up with the same thing, 'no weapon forged by man', 'it took an army to stop him', etcetera... you'd think that the authors of these things could be more helpful. Anyway, I was reading this one book when Giles came up behind me and realized that the damn thing was written in Ancient Sumerian, a language that I had never even seen before. In my sleep deprived state I hadn't realized that I wasn’t even reading English!
After I got the idea for the Rocket Launcher and Cordy helped me swipe the thing, Buffy got to blow up the Big Ugly Smurf, and the next day Giles confronted me in the library. He gave me a couple of texts, in a number of different languages, both human and demonic, and asked me to read them. I thought he was crazy until I started. It's hard to describe how it happens, it was like the first paragraph or so was gibberish, I couldn't make heads or tails of it, but the more I saw, the more I started noticing patterns and connections in the writings until before you knew it, it was plain as English for me.
After I had my little freak out where I panicked about suddenly being on Buffy's 'to-be-slain' list before Giles explained his theory to me. He told me that there was some natural 'chaotic residue', as he put it, in my aura from that Ethan Rayne guy’s big Halloween spell that had latched onto me. He said that it messes around with any magic performed on me, altering the effects in completely random and unforeseeable ways.
Giles has another theory about that involving Janus taking a liking to me and my natural penchant for chaos, what with the whole circumventing prophecy thing that I like to do so much. And he thinks that this chaos field messed around with the Mage guy and the Du Lac Cross's spells, and caused them to somehow transfer the translation magic of the cross into me.
Bottom line, I was holding the Du Lac Cross when I got blasted, Janus likes me because I mess with prophecies and decided to mess with the magic on my behalf, I ended up as some kind of human decoder ring. I see a language, I can read it. I hear a language, I can speak it like a native (assuming my vocal cords can actually produce the right sounds). And somewhere up there, Janus is laughing both his heads off.
The next few weeks were... interesting to say the least. Buffy was cautious around me after the big reveal, as if I might turn into another Angelus or something, Willow was jealous, I had gotten a power that she would have loved with all her heart and soul, the universe is a bitch like that. Giles was ecstatic, he kept coming to me with obscure texts in forgotten languages, looking for translations, to be honest it was a bit annoying, though the look on his face when I told him that one particular book, actually turned out to be a book on, and this is the literal translation, ‘On the Removal and Cleansing of Demonic Fluids’.
Turns out that the original copy belonged to one of his superiors, a man named Quentin Travers, and had actually been a source of great pride to the man, since the book had been a mystery to the Watcher’s Council for centuries and believed to hold information on the darkest, most powerful demons imaginable.
Jenny was very interested in testing my new ability against the intelligence of a machine. Turns out that whilst I can understand binary easily enough, I don't have the technical know-how required for hacking. To be honest I think Willow was a bit relieved about that, not that I blame her, computers are her domain.
Cordelia, once she admitted that what we were doing was in fact dating, was very interested in my powers, something about foreign relations, and for some reason she also loved it when I spoke French to her. Its incredibly unfair, I can understand any language in the universe, (and in any other universe for that matter), but I still can't understand teenage girls.
I also learned how to read body language. The subtle twitches and motions made that show me what they’re really feeling. I could now tell how somebody felt at a glance, call on a lie with certainty, and understand the vast range of subtext in a conversation, (made me glad that Giles and Ms. C had broken up, cause I really don’t want to see their sexual tension laid out in plain english). Though it did vary quite a bit people, Willow for example was an open book, but I had to pay extremely close attention to Oz to get even the most basic reading.
We dealt with a few minor crisis, Oz turned into a werewolf after being bit by his cousin Jordie. That was really weird, when he went Wolfy I could kinda communicate with him through body language and tone, I couldn’t hold a conversation with him or anything, the wolf wasn’t sentient enough for anything like that, but I could tell what he wanted and managed to convey enough to keep him calm when we locked him up on full moons.
Valentine’s day was a disaster. I screwed up, plain and simple. Cordy dumped me, humiliated me, in front of the whole school, so I figured I’d get back at her a little y’know? I blackmailed Amy, who’s training herself with her mum’s witchy powers, to do a little love spell. The plan was to get Cordy to fall in love with me so that I could humiliate her like she did to me, not the most mature of plans maybe but hey, I’m only seventeen. So we cast the spell, and there was something that I really should have remembered. I should not have forgotten what Giles told me about Janus and the ‘chaos field’ thing. The spell went nuts, big time, instead of making Cordy fall in love with me, every woman in town except for Cordelia Chase became obsessed with Alexander Lavelle Harris.
Things went badly really quickly, ending with me being molested by several girls who will remain nameless for my own protection, hunted down by a mob of scorned women, almost turned by Drusilla, punched by Oz for hurting Willow’s feelings, (an act that made me reconsider my whole ‘Willow shouldn’t date the dangerous werewolf’ idea), and chewed out by Giles, Buffy, Willow, Ms Calendar before Cordelia, in what has to be a miracle forgave me on the grounds that I was humiliated first. You can imagine what my answer was, since we spent the next hour or so in the nearest broom closet. Y’know I’m getting worried that soon I won’t even be able to walk past one of those things without standing to attention.
A few days after that incident, once Buffy and Willow started talking to me again, Ms Calendar showed up at the daily Scooby meeting with a disk that needed translating. I took it without question, used to such demands, and started reading it, but when I figured out the language I was confused. It was the curse, the one that would restore Angelus’s soul. And now I felt myself facing an incredible moral dilemma, do I give them the translation, allowing them to return Angel control of his body, or do I not?
I found myself lost in a memory for a few moments, of the time when I was possessed by the Primal Spirit of a Hyena. I remembered hurting people, trying to rape Buffy, playing with Willow’s emotions, hunting my prey, more then that though, I remember what I felt coming from the rest of the pack as we feasted, the taste of warm blood and flesh as we consumed Herbert the Pig and later the feedback from when the others ate Principal Flutie. I remember that time with perfect clarity, every sensation and thought that crossed my mind, and what haunts me at my darker moments is the knowledge that, on some level, I enjoyed every second of it, the power and freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted, and hearing that tiny voice at the back of my mind, the one that shows up whenever Willow’s voice has fallen asleep, urging me to let go, to hunt, to kill, to feast and to mate, no matter what the consequence.
I never liked Angel, I’ll admit it, and Angelus needs to be stopped and deserves to suffer, but can I really condemn him to that kind of life again? A life where he would be never be able to see the sun? Never be able to be with the one that he loved? All the while constantly haunted by memories of a hundred years of rape, torture and murder? On the other hand though, what will the others say if I don’t? And what about the people who will die between now and the time that we can finally kill Angelus?
The answer comes to me, I’ll give them the curse, Buffy knows him best so she can make the call, and the next time I see Angel I’ll give him the choice, to live his cursed life, struggling for a redemption that he may never attain, or to let me end his suffering, I’ll just have to be the first one to find him.
With trembling fingers, I type out the instructions in English as Jenny explains what she’s done, and without a word to the others I leave, all the while praying that Janus can convince whatever higher power there may be to have mercy on my soul.
In the end they chose to cast the spell. I spoke to Angel about it later, made my offer, he refused, he told me that he had too much death on his hands to take the easy way out, that he would do his best to make a difference until he earned his final reward, but that if Angelus ever breaks loose again then I should not hesitate to stake him. I left him after that, I still don’t like the guy, but I didn’t go out of my way to hate him anymore. Plus he’s doing his best to stay from Buffy.
Near the end of the year, the worst happened. Drusilla, that crazy vampire bitch, discovered some demon locked away in stone. This demon, Acathla, if released, could apparently open up a portal big enough to suck the whole world into hell. The only real stroke of luck we had is the the nut-job didn’t actually know how to unlock the goddamn thing. The Watcher’s Council did have a book about Acathla, of which Giles had the only copy on the continent.
Kendra showed up again to help out, we really needed all hands on deck for this one. Unfortunately, she, Buffy and Angel got lured out by a possible lead, turns out it was a trap, just not for them. The vampires poured into the library, there must have been at least two dozen of them, and they swarmed us. Willow, Ms Calendar and Cordelia all went down under the first assault, staking one vamp between them. Giles managed to grab a rapier from behind the counter and was beheading any bloodsucker that came near him while Oz was holding his own, his werewolf blood giving him enough durability to keep going at least as he tried to get to Willow.
I meanwhile was shocked into action after a punch to the gut. After another two attacks from the same vamp I had that same flash of insight I get whenever I figure out a new language. There was a pattern here. I suddenly noticed that every vampire in the room was fighting in pretty much the same style, and that there were patterns in it that I could read and translate as my body sprung into action.
All of a sudden, the fists and kicks that were flying at me from all directions weren’t random, they were predictable, and all it took were some minor movements to block their strikes and to dodge and duck between them until I got in position to stake them. I had dusted two of them like this when I noticed that Oz had gone down and wasn’t getting back up, another one and Giles had lost his sword, one more and Giles was unconscious, and three more after that before a new vampire stepped out of the crowd and attacked in a pattern that I wasn’t familiar with, some kind of Karate maybe. I didn’t have enough time to analyze his technique and counter it before he had knocked me out.
I woke up in a darkened room, chained to a bed, with Drusilla hovering over me, a demented grin on my face and a book I recognized from Giles’ office.
“Hello my Cross Kitten,” she whispered seductively, “Miss Edith tells me that only you know how to read this naughty book, and tell Mummy how to wake up the Sleeping Portal in time for tea.”
“I think Miss Edith may have been lying to you Dru,” I tell her nervously.
She slaps me hard across the face and hisses at me, “Bad Kitty,” she glares, “Miss Edith doesn’t lie to Mummy.”
She opens the book to a specific passage, and grabs my head with her free hand, forcing me to look at the page. I can’t stop my mind from translating the seemingly random jumble of symbols into a clear text, and I learn the secrets of how to unlock Acathla.
“Now, my Dear Kitten,” Drusilla whispers as she reaches towards an array of knives on the bedside table, “The stars told me you that you wouldn’t tell me what I want, so I’ll see if I can make you scream.”
“Why couldn’t they have told you the winning lottery numbers?” I mutter as panic starts to rise up in my chest.
Using the knife to slice open my shirt, Drusilla starts to giggle madly, “They told me that the Cross that was s’posed to make me strong again did this to you.” I struggle to stay still, to not give the insane monster above me the satisfaction of watching me thrash and scream as she uses the knife’s razor sharp point to carve the likeness of the Du Lac Cross perfectly over my heart.
Drusilla continued in this fashion for hours, I remember pain, I remember screaming, I remember her cackling as she asked me her questions, but I didn’t tell her. I couldn’t. Cordelia, Buffy, Willow and Giles... they were all counting on me. They needed me to be strong.
I remember collapsing with relief when she stopped, blood, sweat and tears dripping from my body, as I heard sounds of a fight outside. She left, ‘to deal with the naught guests,’ leaving me alone for the first time in hours.
Then I saw Cordelia rush into the room, hurrying to free me. She started on the chains.
“Oh God! Xander!” She cried, as she took in my bleeding form “Don’t worry, we’ll get you to a hospital. They’ll fix you.”
“Cordy,” I wheeze, I’ve been having trouble breathing since I yelled myself hoarse a while ago.
“Its okay, everything will be okay,” she whispered, in my ear, “But Drusilla opened the portal, we need to know how to stop it, and Giles says you're the only one who can tell us.”
Eyes widening in fear, I tell her everything, how the Acathla can only be opened by the bleeding of ones own blood, and can be closed by throwing Drusilla through the portal, ending the blood flow, and canceling the portals power.
Cordelia leans in and whispers, her voice suddenly changing, “Thank you Kitten, you’ve helped Mummy so very much.” I watch in shock as Cordelia’s form dissolves into that of Drusilla’s. I watch as she stands and leaves, laughing to herself the entire way before I black out.
Giles burst through the door maybe ten minutes later, rambling about Buffy and Kendra and Portals and ‘Good Lord’s’ as he moved to free me.
“Go away,” I slur, to exhausted to really be eloquent and witty, “Your not real, Drusilla’s making me see things, people that I want.”
Giles stopped for a moment, gobsmacked, before reaching out and slapping me, “Xander if Drusilla were to use her psychic abilities to seduce you for information then why on God’s Green Earth would you be seeing me?”
I pause for a moment, processing what he just said as he finishes unlocking the chains, “Right, let's go then.”
He half carries me as I limp out into the corridor, while I ask, “Did she open the portal?”
“Yes,” Giles told me gravely, as we continued on “Buffy is with Kendra and Angel at the opening, together the three of them were able to destroy Drusilla but we need to know how to close the portal.”
I freeze for a minute in horror, forcing Giles to drag me into the room where I can clearly see the others hovering around the red glowing swirly thing that I assume is the opening to hell. Drusilla is dead, her blood is needed to trap Acathla again, the Earth is doomed.
“Xander?” Someone, I didn’t pay attention to who, more important things on my mind right now, “How do we stop it?”
Then I notice Angel, who keeps shifting his gaze to a small pile of ashes, Drusilla’s remains I guess, when it hits me.
“Angel.” I croak out desperately, “Angel, you're her Sire right? It was your blood that turned Drusilla into a vampire?”
“What does that have to do with anything?” He asks.
“EVERYTHING!” I yell, “Answer the question! Did your blood flow through her undead veins?”
“Yes,” He answered, stone faced whilst the others are shocked by my outburst.
“The portal needs blood,” I tell him bluntly, “Her blood,” I motion to the ashes in the corner, “But if it was your blood that raised her, then we might have a shot.”
“What do I have to do?”
Motioning to the sword in Kendra’s hand I tell him, “Take the sword, and jump in the portal, if we’re lucky, then the world is saved, if not... then it doesn’t matter anyway.”
“NO!” Buffy screeched, “I just got you back, I can’t lose you again.”
“Buffy!” I yell, “It’s not your decision!” limping over to him I grabbed his shoulder to steady myself, looking him in the eye I tell him, “A year ago, I told you to prove Buffy right, to prove you are a real person, now I need you to do it again.”
Nodding solemnly, he reached out and took the offered weapon and walked to face the growing portal.
“May God have mercy on your soul,” I tell him briefly in his native Gaelic, he smirks as he reaches out to pull Buffy into one last kiss and a tearful goodbye. I think he was trying to lose his soul so that we could shove Angelus in their instead of him.
Turning back he leapt into the portal, which dissipated around him.
“Oh look,” I say, somewhat deliriously, relief flooding through me, “It worked.” Before I fell to the ground like a puppet with it's strings cut.
I woke up days later in hospital, being treated for blood loss, dehydration and multiple wounds. Giles had given the staff the usual statement of ‘Gang members on PCP,’ so nobody really questioned my injuries. Looking over myself in a mirror, I found that most of the scars would fade and heal, except the cross that Drusilla had carved over my heart, a reminder of what my gifts had cost me.
I got visits from everyone, Willow babbled for almost half an hour while Oz and I had a silent conversation based on subtle body language, the man doesn’t give away much unless he wants to but he can read it like a pro, probably something to do with the wolf. Buffy came in with Mrs Summers, who played the worried mother hen. Giles and Jenny stopped by a couple of times as well.
For the most part, they were dealing with what had happened. Kendra had returned to her usual station, Buffy was still mourning Angel’s sacrifice and the others were all recovering from their own injuries.
All in all, we were alright, especially with the summer lull starting up. Giles had started talking about the possibilities of training me in martial arts, to see if what I experienced earlier could work for all styles of fighting, he especially seemed interested in the idea of me sparring with Buffy.
Weeks later, we heard that Kendra had been killed taking out a group of Miquot demons, and that a new Slayer, a girl named Faith, had been called somewhere in Boston.
I still do translations for Giles, and even started tutoring the others in French and Spanish (except Willow of course), but now I’m more useful in the field, thanks to my ability to determine the patterns in fighting styles and use that to predict where and when they will strike, allowing me to counter them with surprisingly good results. It only really works on vampires and other sentient creatures though, other demons are just too chaotic to accurately predict. This little gift became even more useful when Giles gave me some demonstrations of several martial arts styles.
It turns out that, much in the same way that my mouth and vocal cords can instinctively form words and sounds that I’ve never heard before without me giving so much as a thought, my body can now instinctively utilize the various styles that I’ve already seen. It's a lot of fun. Especially when I got to spar with Buffy. I kicked her ass. Then she stopped holding back and kicked mine. I still say she cheated with the whole Slayer speed thing though.