I woke up on the streets, alone and cold, with a throbbing ache in my jaw. I tried to remember how I got here when it hit me, Angel. Angelus must have gotten free somehow, and now he and Faith were working together. A million thoughts ran through my head, ‘What do I do?” was the most prominent.
I thought for half a second about telling Buffy, but I knew she wouldn’t be able to end Angelus, and I kinda doubt she’d be able to stop Faith one on one either. Willow would want to do the curse again, but we didn’t have time to wait for the next full moon. Oz would follow Wills.
Giles and Wesley would be impossible to predict, on the one hand they would probably be delighted at the chance to dust Angelus, but the idea of going against or fighting either one of their Slayers would not put them in a good position.
I came to my conclusion, I would have to stop them myself. But in order to do that I would have to embrace something I had tried for so long to ignore, and do something that I can’t come back from.
Y’see, I’m not entirely human. I found out about a year ago, after a particularly harsh patrol, I was recovering at home when suddenly I just... shifted. My skin gave way to green scales, my blood turned cold, my hair hardened into a spiky carapace. My tongue forked, and my senses expanded. I became a demon.
My mother explained it all to me as soon as she saw me. She told me about my father, about the night, so long ago, when she had been violated by a monster.
I hid it from the others. I didn’t want them to know what I was, that I was one of the things that we killed every night. I tried not to use my other form, it was a part of me that I did not want, that I did not need. I did my best to just ignore it, I had vainly hoped that it would just go away.
But it didn’t, and I was forced to use it when I had no other choice. Like the thing at the hospital, the invisible demon that was killing the sick kids. I had sensed it during the day, walking around the children’s ward, and I had followed it, stake in hand, into the basement. It had been beating me, I only had a vague idea of where the thing was, when it made the mistake of clawing me. My body just reacted to the injury, transforming into my other form so that I could heal faster, and I could suddenly taste it, in the same way a snake does, and feel its movements.
I reacted faster, and with better coordination than I had ever done in my life, and before I knew it the thing was dead. And I shifted back to what I prayed was still my true form.
But now, Angelus needed to be ended, and Faith needed to be stopped, and it looked like I would have to do it. I knew though, that I would not be able to beat them, my other form is barely stronger than my normal one, and I have almost no experience fighting like that, whereas both of my prey were master combatants. So I would have to become stronger.
After I had discovered my true heritage, I researched. It was difficult, I had only my mothers description to go on, but I eventually found what I was looking for. The books described a rite of passage for the males of the species, where their arms were severed, so that they could grow back stronger, marking them as a man of their tribe. This is what I needed to do.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself, so I went to Willy’s. Shifted into my demonic form, I found some random demon carrying an axe and told him to cut off my arms. He did without question, probably thought he'd get to eat them or something, and it hurt less than I thought it would, maybe there’s some kind of natural anesthetic or something, but he cut off first my left, then my right arms at the shoulder. It didn’t take long for the new ones to grow back in. They just burst through the exposed flesh, bigger than ever before. There were claws too, extending from my fingers, and spikes on the shoulders and elbows, but I didn’t care. I just killed the demon with my new found strength and walked out of the bar. Returning to the street where I’d had my run in with Angelus and Faith I started tasting the air, getting a trace on my prey.
I tracked them to Angel’s mansion, and I managed to sneak in. By using my camouflage ability and crawling on the walls, I was able to avoid detection. I watched them from the ceiling as they talked to Buffy. I saw her face as she realized who exactly she was talking to, and I saw Angelus move to punch her.
The look on his face when the punch was caught was hilarious, the look on everyones face when they saw an elongated tongue wrapped around his wrist was hysterical, the look on their faces when they followed the tongue to see me clinging to the ceiling was priceless.
Jerking my head to the side I tugged on his arm with my tongue, Angelus flew to the other side of the room, colliding with the wall as I dropped down and attacked Faith. She recovered quickly and countered, she was stronger then me, but I was faster, more agile and no slouch in the strength department myself. I was able to keep up with her, despite her much greater fighting ability.
I wasn’t paying attention to Buffy as I fought, just keeping a feel for Angelus should he attack again, so I didn’t hear her screams when I whipped out my tongue again to grab him by the neck. But I certainly felt it when she grabbed my tongue and pulled.
As I was expecting to be the yanker, not the yankee, I was caught by surprise when I was pulled painfully backwards by my tongue, only to be slammed into the wall by Buffy. She grabbed my head and smashed it back against the wood, my carapace protected my skull but the wood was destroyed and I was dazed.
“Angel, stay back!” She doesn’t know that it's Angelus.
“Angelus,” I said strongly, as I reached up to her wrists and tried to pull her off me.
“A friend of yours, Fang?” Faith drawled out from the other side of the room.
“None that I recognize,” he answered, confused.
“Don’t remember me, Angelus? I’m hurt,” I mock, still trying to wrestle Buff’s hands away from my neck, “You once called me the White Knight, or do you say that to just anyone who gets in your way?”
I saw his eyes flash in recognition, “Xander.”
“What the fuck?” Faith was confused, “That's X?”
“This isn’t Xander! It’s a demon!” Buffy said strongly, “Xander couldn’t do anything like this.”
“Was trying to protect you, Buff,” I say, her grip having weakened from my throat, “From Faith and Angelus. Had to do something to stop them.”
“Xander?! But Angel was just pretending, he still has his soul.”
My eyes are cold as steel when I answer, “He left me to die on the streets Buff,”
“But it was just an act. To fool Faith into tell us about the Mayor.”
I consider what I just learned, before leaning to the side a bit and, from my position, still pinned by Buffy's grip, I ask, “Hey Faith, you think the Mayor’s hiring?”
“What?” she answered, snapping out of her shock at being played.
“What!?” Buffy screeched.
“Is the Mayor hiring?” I repeat, my voice void of emotion, “Cause right about now I’m thinking of bringing him the Buffster’s head on a pike and Angel’s ashes as a present.”
She grins, sensing a change in the situation, “And why’s that?”
“These two betrayed me and left me to die on the streets of Sunnydale,” I remind her, eyes never leaving Buffy “Isn’t that enough?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” she promised.
“Good,” I replied, before throwing the slack-jawed Slayer across the room, she may be a hell of a lot stronger, but she doesn’t weigh any more than anybody else, colliding into Angel as she landed. Shifting back into my human form, I noticed that my claws had remained, and feeling my tongue I could tell that it had stayed forked as well, Going through that rite had changed me permanently, and would continue to do so each time I was seriously injured until the time came when I would eventually not pass for human. As I walked over to the door, I said, “Let’s go then.”
Faith took a quick glance at the fallen Slayer and followed me out.
Mayor Wilkins had been only too thrilled to add another trooper to his ranks, especially after Faith had told him what I had done. He told me that he had been considering making me an offer after the Judge situation and the zombie gang a few weeks ago because I was ‘determined’ and had ‘the ability to think outside the box’.
I worked closely with Faith after that, when the Box of Gavrok was on its way to Sunnydale, the two of us were sent to retrieve it. Faith had wanted to saw the guys hand off to get the handcuff off him, but I just used one of my claws to pick the lock instead, much easier and less messy.
When the others managed to steal the stupid thing, we were able to grab Willow as a consolation prize, this wasn’t something I was too happy with. I ended up on a shift of guard duty while Faith went off to catch some Z’s.
“Hey, Wills,” I greeted her warmly as I entered the room, “Nice to see ya.”
“Xander,” she said coldly, refusing to look me in the eye.
“Come on, Will, talk to me,” I whined.
“Why should I?” She suddenly yelled, “You betrayed us with that skanky whore girl!”
“Who left who alone to die on the deserted streets of Sunnydale, Wills,” I reminder her, “You guys didn’t trust me enough to tell me the plan, and I almost paid the price.”
“But, we couldn’t tell you, otherwise Faith wouldn’t have believed it,” she pleaded.
“What Wills, you think I can’t tell a convincing lie? Me? The master of excuses?” I ask her, incredulously. I mean we’re talking about me here, the guy who once convinced every single one of his teachers into letting him off homework for a week.
“It's not the same thing,” she begged.
“Well, you made your choice, and I made mine, and now we both have to live with them,” I said angrily, storming out of the room and leaving her alone as I stood guard outside.
Things were tense at the trade off, I was watching, camouflaged on the ceiling, and didn’t actually get a chance to do much besides snagging Faith’s favorite knife back before we left.
Prom was interesting. Wilkins had surprised us both when we found dress clothes and a limo waiting at Faith’s apartment. He said that we had earned a night of fun after all of our hard work. It was fun winding up the remaining Scoobies for a while, but the end of the night was so much better. Faith had decided to test out my new anatomy, she was particularly curious about my tongue.
I gotta say, shooting Angel with an arrow coated in ‘Killer of the Dead’ was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. Personally I wanted to just shoot him through the heart, but Wilkins insisted that this would demoralize the Scoobies further before the Ascension, and that he trusted me to keep Faith safe should Buffy come looking for a cure.
Buffy had come after us, catching us in Faith’s apartment. Wilkins was working on getting me one of my own, but for now I was to stay in Faith’s guest bedroom. We had been amidst the throws of passion when Buffy had broken down the door.
Not even paying attention to anything other than the gorgeous woman in bed with me, I had flicked out my tongue, grabbed her by the calf, and thrown her out the door. This bought us enough time to finish. Buffy had tried to take Faith, but with the two of us working together and distracting her with our nakedness, she didn’t last very long before we tossed her out the window.
She grabbed onto a fire escape, preventing her from colliding with the ground, but by the time she had gotten back up to our apartment, we had grabbed our clothes, cash and headed out over the rooftops.
The thing with the Volcano guy was not fun. It was actually a bit depressing, I just don’t have that demonic killer instinct, but hey, it had to be done. I was in too deep and had to see this through. I did learn something interesting about the Mayor’s Ascension though, and unless the guys can get their hands on a portable volcano then I can say with absolute certainty that they are doomed.
I found out from the Mayor that, after trying to kill Faith, Buffy had wound up in hospital after curing Angel, not a very smart move all things considered, what with the Ascension tomorrow and everything.
Wilkins asked me to go over to the school and scan the quad, he wanted me to be sure that the vampires would have unrestricted access to the surfaced during the eclipse. While I was there I planted a couple of ‘surprises’ for the big day.
During the Graduation ceremony, I sat bored in the crowd with Faith as we waited for Wilkins to finish his speech.
“I still can’t believe he’s actually doing the whole speech,” Faith commented.
“He’s trying to become a demon,” I answer slowly, as though talking to a young child, “Where in that did you get the idea that he doesn’t want to torture an innocent group of high school graduates?”
“Whatever, can we get to the killing now?” She whined.
Up on stage, Wilkins twitched, “I think it's not going to be too much longer, just give it another minute.”
She huffed, “This better work.”
“Well if it doesn’t than we’re going to die painfully,” I answer cheerfully, as the Mayor began to jerk uncontrollably, “Just remember that.”
“Thanks for the confidence.”
“I do my best.”
We watched, transfixed, as the Mayor began to change before our eyes, growing longer, taller, his limbs melting into his body. Soon he was standing taller than the school buildings, and that's when we heard Buffy’s voice ring out ‘Now!’ and all of the students ripped of their gowns to reveal a small armory.
Pulling out our own little surprises, Faith and I yelled out, “Get back!” As we hit the detonators for the bombs planted around the stage.
After I had joined up with the Mayor and learned what exactly he was doing, I knew that I couldn’t go through with it. I was angry at Buffy and the others, but this was Apocalypse bad, not ‘I’m upset with you’ bad. So, I started working on Faith, dropping hints about switching sides again. She wasn’t really responding too favorably until the whole thing where we poisoned Angel.
Wilkins had known that Buffy would come after Faith to cure him. He had known that there was a chance, however small, that Buffy would be able to defeat me and Faith, and use her for Angel's cure. He had known and he had done it anyway. That had shown Faith that, no matter how much Wilkins may have actually loved her, he would sacrifice her in a heartbeat to get what he wanted.
So we had come up with the plan. After finding out what the Volcanologist had known, I had scared him out of town by shifting into my demonic form and threatening him. The guy would probably need therapy for a while but at least he’s still alive. So I planted the bombs, hoping that they would be enough to kill the Mayor’s Ascended form.
The explosion almost completely engulfed the Mayor. Frying Snyder and a few other teachers and students who had been standing too close, it still did its job and the Mayor fell backwards, dead, or dying at the very least.
Turning around, we moved towards the incoming vampires. Shifting as I did so, the two of us started ripping into them, dusting them left and right. Between the two of us we must have gotten at least ten before any of the others snapped out of their shock.
The fight was long, hard and bloody, but eventually the only vampires still whole were the ones smart enough to have run away. And Faith and I found ourselves confronted by a very angry Scooby Gang.
“Hey guys,” I greeted, grinning weakly, giving a half-hearted wave along with Faith, “I can totally explain all of this.”