Here, as requested by CrystalBlaze, is 'Cannonball'. I'm sorry that I didn't manage to fit Aphrodesia in, but I hope it lives up to your expectations.
“Where’s the Master?” Buffy asked, her tone serious.
To my left, Angel answered, “He went up.”
“Then let’s go.”
“Buffy, are you sure you’re all right?” I asked, concerned, “I mean... you were dead.”
“I feel fine,” she replied, but there was something in her voice that just felt... wrong, “I feel strong.”
Or not. Must be a Slayer thing.
“If you’re sure,” I conceded, as she moved to follow Angel through the tunnels, on her way to face the monster that almost killed her.
It was then that disaster struck.
Really, we probably should have expected it, I mean, California and all, not exactly uncommon for earthquakes. Plus, you know, apocalypse going on, /literally/ right on top of us by this point. So, maybe going underground hadn’t been the best idea.
Buffy moved a fraction of a second before me, her Slayer abilities getting her clear of the cave-in, whilst I was forced to duck back into the Master’s Cavern, or end up a Xander-styled pancake.
“Xander!” I heard her yell, as dust filled the room, which was thankfully still lit by candlelight.
“Buffy!” I called back, “I’m okay!”
“Stay put, Xander,” she assured me, “We’ll get you out of there in no time!”
“No,” I shook my head vehemently, not entirely realizing that she couldn’t see me, “That’ll take to long. Go stop the Master, you can come save my sorry ass when the world isn’t about to end!”
“Don’t worry, Xander,” she called back, “I’ll be back, I promise.”
“I know you will,” I smiled. Of course she would. She always did.
She and Angel left, his own vampiric abilities enough to save him from my fate, to face the Master and save the world, and I was left, trapped in the Cavern, wishing vainly for a way out. I never did do well in confined spaces.
In order to achieve this wish, I began to try moving the rubble that so stubbornly blocked my path. Lifting the stones I could out of the way, and avoiding the ones I couldn’t, until I found a hole.
It was a small hole, barely even large enough to fit my fist through, but I could at least try and make it bigger.
In doing this, I soon found myself in a very odd position, where I had braced my feet against a stone behind me and was pushing with all my strength against a particularly stubborn boulder, trying to push it out the other side of the wall.
If I had been able to see the sheer amount of rubble that was preventing the rock from budging, I would have known it wasn’t possible to move it, but ignorance can be bliss, and in this case, it quite possibly saved my life.
Humans are tool using animals. Unlike virtually any other animal under the sun, moon and stars, humans have evolved, not to adapt their bodies to a specific terrain, but are instead designed to change the world around them to suit their own needs. It is this that has allowed them to become the dominant species on the planet, as we can survive in virtually any environment available to us, by manipulating certain variables.
One of the most available tools in the universe accessible to humankind happens to be magic, and any human can, to some degree, channel the mystical energies that surround us.
And it is this that saved my life.
The ground around me began to rumble as another earthquake rocked Sunnydale, and as even more rubble and debris began to shake loose from the ceiling, I began to panic, as I realized that Buffy would never make it back in time, and that I would likely be crushed to death if I didn’t escape immediately.
Redoubling my efforts, I again braced my feet and pushed, aligning myself almost horizontally as I tried to utilize the full strength of my body, and it is then, with the energies of the open Hellmouth swirling around me, that a change occurred within me.
Some deep, primal part of my mind opened my soul to the powers of the Hellmouth, accepting the magic it offered as it began to form pathways, shaped by my desperate bid for survival.
It was a process, I would later be informed, similar to that used by Coach Marin almost a year later, where his all encompassing desire and desperation would cause him to unknowingly channel the Hellmouth’s powers, transforming a failed Russian genome project into a viable demonic steroid cocktail.
My instincts channeled the Hellmouth’s magics into a unique form, as power begun to erupt from my legs, and I shot forwards, crashing through the rocky debris with the ease of a cannonball fired through paper, and continued to send me flying forwards uncontrollably through the sewer tunnel, until I crashed into a wall where the tunnel turned.
Groaning, out of habit more than anything else, as I picked myself up, I was elated to learn that I was completely unharmed, the power which had granted me my temporary flight also providing me with protection from the rigors of my crash, in the form of, what Giles would later deem, an impenetrable force field, hovering less than an inch from my skin.
I didn’t really give any of this much thought though, what with the rumbling of the earthquake continuing around me, and instead chose to flee.
I followed several tunnels Angel had led me through in our search for Buffy, until I eventually found an open manhole, probably left that way by a vamp eager for the eternal fun that is the Apocalypse.
Coming out in the middle of the street, I found myself within sight of the school, and also saw the horde of vamps crowding around the door. I saw Angel fighting, single handedly keeping them at bay, but he was losing ground, and I started running over to lend a helping hand, and as I ran I felt the power build up in my legs again, in the same manner it had down in the Master’s Cavern, and I dove forwards on instinct.
Before gravity was able to take effect, I found myself cannonballing once more, a wake of fire and smoke left behind me, and I bowled through a number of the vampiric mob, coming to a rather violent stop after I busted through the wall to the administration office, coming to a rest in a pile of groaning vampires, in the midst of what was once Snyder’s prized oak desk.
Grabbing a pair of makeshift stakes, I dusted the three vampires I had collected during my flight, before they could come to their senses, and jumped, through the hole, outside.
“Xander?!” Angel said, shocked, at my appearance, even as he fought another three vampires, “How...? No, doesn’t matter. The Hellmouth’s opening in the library. Buffy’s on the roof facing off against the Master. We need to keep these idiots off her back.”
As he had been speaking, Angel had dusted two of the vampires, and thrown another back into the crowd, conservative estimate of which would place about thirty vampires closing in on us.
“Got it,” I replied, diving forwards, and cannonballing through, causing the mob to scatter in order to avoid me, and I continued onwards, realizing I had no clue how to stop.
I tried to imagine myself turning around and flying back to the vampires, but my body didn’t really respond, so instead, I accessed the large variety of comic-related miscellaneous knowledge I’ve got stacked up in my head, and pulled out some advice on how to fly. Point your head, and your body will angle itself in that direction, allowing you to exert some control over your flight.
I tried that, twisting my head out to the left as I tried to look behind me, in order to swing my body around one hundred and eighty degrees. What happened instead was not what I had in mind.
I was flying, maybe, five feet off the ground, and when I tried to flip myself around, I wound up diverting my legs into a mildly upwards direction, which sent me cannonballing into the dirt at speed. Not a particularly pleasant experience, but the same force which propelled me forwards maintained its protection, allowing me to simply roll over and drag myself from the small crater I had created.
“They make it look so much easier in the comic books,” I moaned, as I picked myself up and started running back towards the school, diving into another cannonball on instinct not ten steps later.
I was back at the school in seconds, crashing through the mob again and causing them to disperse, I continued right through the walls of the building. Unable to stop myself, I continued straight ahead, barreling through plaster and wood until I collided with a mass of writhing flesh that, despite my momentum, actually forced me to bounce backwards.
Landing on my ass not too far from the wall, I found myself face to face with the monster that would haunt my nightmares for years to come.
I screamed at the sight, scrambling backwards along the floor until my back hit what was left of the wall.
Tentacles, originating from the creature, began to make their way towards me, now that I had won its attention.
A scream from above distracted me from my own terror, and my head snapped to the side in time to see the falling form of the Master impale itself on an upturned table, slowly withering away to dust as the tentacled creature gave off an unearthly screech of its own.
I watched as the Master continued to wither away, until only his skeleton remained, and the creature, it’s source of power gone, was pulled back into the portal it had emerged from, the Hellmouth sealing behind it.
Many months later, I stood at the docks, at near midnight, with a sack slung over my back, adjusting my aviator goggles as I prepared to activate my power.
It was Buffy’s birthday, and when it had been crashed by the arrival of Spike’s minions and the revelation that he was trying to reassemble an ancient demon known as ‘the Judge’, I decided to offer my services to give Buffy the only birthday present she had outright asked for, as opposed to the various gifts she had merely ‘strongly hinted’ at.
In the tussle with Spike’s minions, our group had come into contact with one of the Judge’s limbs, still locked in an ancient shoebox, and Giles had instantly proclaimed that it must be removed from the Hellmouth immediately, and hidden in one of the farthest corners of the Earth.
Angel was the logical choice to take it, he was the only member of our little group with no obligations in Sunnydale after all, and thus, the only one who wouldn’t be missed in the days and months it would take him to bury the thing.
Buffy had begged him to stay, and, for her, I gave him the chance.
Blasting off into the air without a running start wasn’t all that tricky for me, but I still dove, headfirst, from the pier, only to ignite my propulsion midair, if only because it was more fun that way.
Once in the air, I directed myself straight out to sea, flying swiftly towards the horizon, a trail of smoke the only evidence of where I’d been.
It was perhaps an hour later that I decided I’d gone far enough. With nothing but the ocean on the horizon in all directions, I cut off my abilities, allowing myself to slow my forward momentum in the air, even as I started to fall.
Whilst still in free fall, I removed the sack from my back, and hurled the arm of the Judge as far away from my person, with as much strength as I could muster, before I aligned myself in an easterly direction and reignited my power, ensuring that I wouldn’t have to turn too much mid-flight, because comics be damned, that is hard as hell.
Hours later, I finally returned to the mainland, and then back to Sunnydale from there, the sun just starting to peak out over the horizon, the piece of the Judge I had tossed now lost to the waves, with damn little hope of ever being found again.
I landed, none too gracefully, in a crater out in the junk yard that was growing bigger by the day, and began to make my tired way to school, shoving my aviator goggles up to my forehead as I went, where I firmly intended to crash in the library after blackmailing Giles to write me a note.
After all, I had just ensured that the Judge wouldn’t be reassembled any time soon, I think I deserve a day off school.