I don’t pretend to understand how exactly this happened, maybe it was just my natural ‘Xanderness’ messing with Darth Willow’s power, maybe someone up there wanted to help me out, all I know is that all that Earth magic pumped through my body had changed me and the gods were laughing. Why else would I get the power to heal any injury, only after Joyce and Tara had died?
The months following my transformation had been tricky. Giles had given me an amulet that would cast an illusion around my body, hiding my gold colored skin, but it was still depressing, knowing that I couldn’t go outside without hiding myself. The fact that I shone in the sunlight was just plain annoying, though for some reason the girls didn’t seem to think so.
I was thankful for the powers, you wouldn’t believe how thankful, patrolling with Buffy had never been easier. If one of us got injured, no more pesky bandages or painful iodine, just a quick bout of concentration and a dose of my healing hands and voila, although the girls quickly grew tired of me saying ‘Boo-Boo Begone!’ whenever I healed them, (they didn’t say anything when Buffy used the same quip on three different vampires in one night, but I get a catchphrase and suddenly its ‘no, bad Xander’).
At least once a week I would spend the day healing the more critical patients at the hospital, though most of them were apprehensive about letting me near enough to try and the ‘miracles of modern medicine’ were credited. It felt good anyway, after all those years of just reacting to the latest Big Bad, to actually go out and help put people back together was incredible.
When Spike turned up, gibbering like a lunatic, we had some small problems, seems my powers didn’t work on vampires, everything was already dead, so there was nothing to work with, besides, after what he did to Buffy I was content to leave him to suffer a bit anyway.
Willow came back with more control over her magic, she must have spent at least three days straight apologizing for what happened and promising to change me back to normal. I considered it, but the healing powers were too valuable. Healing spells normally just can’t be done on the Hellmouth because of all the negative influences, and my abilities could save lives, my own included. Besides, I had the amulet to let me look normal and Anya really seemed to like looking at my skin, probably cause it reminded her of money.
When Giles showed up and the potentials started pouring in, we did our best to make it work. We made room, tried to protect them and explained what was happening. Unfortunately, as one of the few males amongst a large group of teenage girls, combined with my ‘exotic’ appearance, led a couple of the girls, (if you believed the angry complaints of Anya and Dawn) to develop crushes on me over the weeks.
Whenever a new one got here, I always had to go through the same routine. First there was the pretending not to notice them staring at me because of my skin. Then the pretending not to notice when one of them ‘accidentally’ broke something to get a better look at my skin. Then I had to answer all the awkward questions about how I got the weird skin when they finally got the guts to ask. And eventually, after they finally got used to me, going through it all over again when they got injured and I had to heal them. I’m pretty sure that some of them were actually hitting each other just to get my attention, though that may just have been my imagination.
We took them out on patrols, tried to teach them to fight. They picked up on it quickly enough, but they still weren’t Slayers. As such, they were no stronger then the average teenage girl, despite whatever suppressed ‘Slayer Instincts’ that they may possess. We needed more backup, which we got in the form of Faith, and man did that get awkward.
Tensions between her and the rest of the group ran pretty high. Buffy still resented her for what she had done the last time she was in town, as did Dawn, Giles agreed with Buffy on principle I think and Andrew annoyed her, well, Andrew annoys everybody, but that's not the point. From what I could tell, Spike was actually amiable with her, and Willow had already sorted everything out with her on the drive from L.A.
We had a couple of awkward conversation before she offered an apology for what she’d done her first time in Sunnyhell. I accepted it easily enough, she wasn’t the first girl to try and kill me, and unfortunately wasn’t the last, but I still mostly just stayed out of her way. The Goldilocks jokes were not funny, though the Miracle Max ones were, (note to self, next time I heal someone, proclaim to all that they were only ‘mostly dead’).
It was the night after Faith had shown up when things got serious for me specifically, I had just finished healing up Shannon, a new potential that had been found branded and stabbed, who told Buffy where to find Caleb, the psycho who’d done it. We were preparing for an assault against the base, an abandoned vineyard, when I had my meeting with the First.
It had appeared to me as Jessie. It had reminded me of everyone I had failed. The people I had been too powerless to protect, and the ones I had been too late to help. It had shown me everyone I had lost over the past few years, Ms Calendar, Kendra, Joyce and Tara. It was not a pleasant experience. He had told me, with Jessie’s face, that something was going to happen soon, something big, and I was going to be too late yet again.
We had split up at the entrance, Buffy and Spike leading the first assault with Faith and I coming in with back up when we heard the signal. We heard screaming not long after and followed. I managed to save Rona from a Bringer by shooting its arm with an arrow, Faith got in close enough for the kill while it was trying to recover. I looked around and saw that we were hopelessly outmatched, the Bringers were going down easily enough, but Buffy and Spike were on the ground and some crazy priest, that I assumed to be Caleb, was standing over them, not even breaking a sweat. It was when I saw him reach out and casually break Molly’s neck and start towards Kennedy that I realized what the First had meant.
Willow was currently in a very fragile state, and if Kennedy were to be killed, God only knows what that would do to her. The First knows about her power, its scared of what she could do, so it wants to break her, keep her too scared to use her power for fear of repeating her past mistakes, and Kennedy’s death would be like hacking open that particular wound with a salt covered knife.
I started running towards him, barging through any Bringer stupid enough to get in my way. I didn’t notice as they fell to the ground in pain as there flesh started to rot and cancerous cells grew. I didn’t notice until I had gotten between Caleb and his prey, that my skin was turning a metallic black color. I didn’t care either, I just reached out and grabbed the monster in front of me and poured every ounce of hate I could muster into his body. I could see the effect it had as his eyes widened in shock when the pain hit him. When he tried to raise his arms but was in too much agony to control his body anymore. I was stimulating every nerve in his body, he must have felt like he was on fire and being crushed at the same time. I stopped when his mouth stopped gaping and his eyes started to bleed. Letting go of him he dropped to the ground, dead.
Turning back to the others, I was silent, the remaining Bringers had already been killed and now everyone was just staring at me. Realizing that they feared me, I forced myself to be calm, and the gold shine slowly returned to my skin. Walking over to Rona, I took her broken arm in my hands and healed it, putting their fears to rest.
“Let’s get out of here,” I told them, “This place gives me the creeps.”
I noticed, some time later, that the black coloring had not left my entire body. There was a blob, that was... floating across my skin, like a lava lamp. I knew what it was, it was the physical manifestation of the darkness I could achieve, the drop of poison that allowed me to harm as well as heal.