I was jumped when I walking home from the Bronze on a Friday night by about six vamps. You can imagine what happened. I managed to take out one of them by catching him by surprise with a stake, but the others had me hopelessly outmatched. I was knocked out, and awoke a few hours later, lying chained naked on an altar under the moonlight on a volcano. Turns out they had driven me to the volcano about fifty miles out of town.
They were surrounding me, dressed in robes and chanting in some weird language that I couldn’t recognize. There were marks painted in red on my body, though from what I could see, they were only on my chest.
After I woke up, I spent a few minutes trying to find out what was going on, but the vamps ignored me, I pulled on my bonds, but I wasn’t Buffy, I had no chance of breaking the chains. Eventually the chanting started to increase, eventually reaching a crescendo, and the vamps moved in on me. Of the five of them, two grabbed my arms as the others unlocked the chains.
I was dragged to towards the cavernous mouth of the volcano, struggling futilely against my captors without success. I was hauled right up to the edge before I was roughly turned around to face the lead vampire.
“With the sacrifice of this human soul!” He proclaimed regally, “We implore thee great Vulcan!”
“You’re sacrificing me to Mr. Spock!!?” I yelled, horrified. I was being killed by vamp sci-fi geeks!!
Ignoring me, the leader continued, “With this gift of a mortal soul, we ask that you share with us, your loyal followers...” with this he gestured grandly to himself and his comrades, “You’re immunity to the power of the flames!”
“Let us be unharmed by you’re holy fires!” He yelled, “Let us walk, unhindered by the morning light!”
“With our offering...” Motioning to the two vamps holding me, he finished, “Give us your strength!”
With that, the two vamps who held my arms heaved, throwing me ceremoniously into the pit of lava below. I screamed as I fell, feeling the heat turn from hot to unbearable. I could feel blisters forming from the heat as I rushed to meet the red hot liquid.
I felt something change though, about halfway down the pit. The air surrounding me suddenly became pleasantly warm, and I could feel my body melting in a way that is impossible to describe. When I hit the surface of the molten rock, I felt as though I had just jumped into a hot tub. It was warm, but pleasantly so.
Once I realized that I wasn’t dead, I just drifted dumbly beneath the surface as I tried to get my brain to work. Eventually, the lack of air caused a survival instinct to kick in and I kicked myself powerfully to the surface. Emerging from the lava, I could see the lips of the volcano, and wished frantically to return there. Next thing I know, I’m rising quickly towards the sky. Looking down, the first thing I notice is my body. It was was red and orange, glowing with heat and almost... fluid in appearance. My flesh had somehow transformed into lava. I stifled a scream when I discovered this, a bit more preoccupied with what I was standing on. A slowly rising geyser of molten rock.
Stalling the impending panic attack in favor of survival, I go with it. I was made of lava and rising on a growing pillar of the same material, I could deal. I’ll figure out the how’s and why’s later. For now, I will the geyser to move faster, and it responds, sending me shooting upwards, closer to the edge.
As I emerge over the top of the rock, I can see the vampires reactions. The way that they stare at me in fear, awe and confusion makes me think that this wasn’t what they intended to happen.
Before they react, I raise my arms and think hot. I figure that If I’m made of lava, then I must be generating a hell of a lot of heat, so I tried to focus it. Flames erupt from my palms, incinerating the terrified vamps in seconds.
“Heh,” I snort, as the geyser places me at the edge of the volcano’s mouth, the loss of my adrenaline high leaving me somewhat woozy, “Didn’t even say ‘Flame On!’”
After I stood there under the stars for a minute, trying to process everything that had just happened, I tried to think cold. If I was going to have to make my way back to Sunnydale I wanted to not be the Human Volcano, way too conspicuous.
It worked, and I turned back into Normal Xander. Unfortunately for me, Normal Xander doesn’t come with clothes, so I had to walk down the volcano naked, which, let me tell you, I do not recommend. I eventually found my way to a parking lot at the end of the trail, which contained the car that the vamps must have drove me here in.
I immediately regretted incinerating them, the car key must be a tiny puddle of molten metal by now. Instead, I worked my way to the front of the car. Holding out my hand, with my index finger extended, I tried to reclaim that feeling I had in the volcano, of the power of the Earth’s core channeling through me.
It worked, and the tip of my finger began glowing red/orange with heat. Jamming the molten digit into the keyhole, I exposed the engine. Silently thanking my Uncle Rory for his love of mechanics and his drunken determination to share his knowledge during the nights when he would ‘babysit’ me. I managed to tinker with the workings a bit, and get the engine to start.
As I repeat my finger trick with the drivers side door I ask the heavens, “Why is it that whenever I do something cool, nobody gets to see it?”
“Cause the universe is a bitch.”
Startled by the unexpected answer, I jump in my seat, twisting to the source, I see a man sitting in the passenger seat, watching me with eyes that seem to spark and a thick beard that seemed to be burning. The first thing about him that jumps at me is his size, the guy is a solid wall of muscle. The second is the injuries, he has braces surrounding his legs and another one on his head, but he looks like he could move comfortably regardless.
“Who the heck are you?” I blurt out dumbly. I then notice that I am still naked and immediately move my hands to cover vital areas.
Big Guy chuckles deeply, “I have been called many names in my time, Boy,” he says, his voice loud and booming, and containing a weird accent that I couldn’t place, “Hephaestus was popular once, but for now, you may call me Vulcan.”
Hephaestus, I recognized that name from Giles’ books. The Greek God of Fire and Craftsmen. So that means that Vulcan, as in Mr Spock, was actually Vulcan, the Roman name for Hephaestus.
“Holy shit!” I say before my brain can catch up to my mouth, “Erh, that is... please don’t kill me... Sir!”
He laughed, a big booming laugh that shook the car, “Calm yourself Boy, I mean you no harm.”
Relaxing a bit, I raise my finger, igniting it as I ask, “Are you responsible for this?”
He shrugged, “Yes and no.”
“What?” I boggle at him. Why can’t divine beings ever give the mortal guy a straight answer?
“Well,” he began, “I was content to let you die and grant the vampires their wish, it would have been nice to have some followers again,” he mused stroking his beard, not even noticing the flames, “But then Venus saw that it was you they where offering and decided that she had to stop it.”
“What?” I repeat. My point, I believe, is proven.
“My wife, Venus,” he answered, a little dreamily, “The Goddess of Love.”
“Oh,” I reply, now even more confused. Didn’t I really piss Venus off last year with the Love Spell?
“After you caught her attention last year with your little spell, she took an interest in you,” Vulcan explained, “She mentioned something about your unusually large capacity for love and how entertaining it made your life to watch. So when she saw you about to be killed by my followers, she came to me, and I decided that I didn’t want to sleep on the couch for the next few centuries.”
“And you gave me the powers?” I ask, still confused.
He shrugged again, “I figured that if I couldn’t keep those followers than you’d make a decent substitute, plus it should make you more interesting for Venus.”
“That’s the second time you’ve called me ‘interesting’,” I noticed, “What am I, a T.V. show to your wife?”
“And a few others,” he says simply, “I had to make them a unique television set that locks on to your aura in one of the atriums back home.”
“What others?” I ask him nervously.
“Janus for one, he’s been a big fan of yours ever since you brought the Slayer back to life and broke that prophecy,” Vulcan tells me, thinking for a moment before continuing, “Mars likes you too, the Halloween possession and your little ‘never say die’ attitude. That and the thing with the Judge had him laughing for weeks. It took an entire army a month of planning and a few thousand lives to put him down the first time, but you blow him up in less than a day.”
I just stare at him in shock as he continues, “Bacchus, I believe, likes the way that you indulge yourself when you can. Apparently, he thinks that most heroes are too boring because they never stop to have any fun, which you and your group enjoy at any opportunity. And you seem to share a love of those ‘Twinkies’ that he’s been raving about for over half a century.”
“Anyone else?” I ask faintly, my mind swimming so much I had forgotten about my nakedness.
“Diana pretends not to like you because your male,” Vulcan went on, “But I’m pretty sure that she at least approves of the way that you have dedicated yourself to her Chosen Ones. Apollo and Mercury don’t like you though,” seeing my look of confusion and fear, he elaborated, “Apollo hates the way that you destroyed one of his carefully planned prophecies and Mercury thinks you tarnished his sacred duty by not relaying the Witch’s message for the Slayer back when Angelus was sent to hell.”
“Okay,” I reply, stunned that this conversation is probably weirder than my new ability to turn into living lava.
“Well,” Vulcan says, looking at the light of the breaking dawn, “I have to get back to Olympus, I think Venus has a special ‘thank you’ planned for sparing you. Enjoy my gifts and try not to destroy anything important.”
He clicked his fingers and with that, he disappeared. No flash or bang, one second he was there, the next he was simply gone.
Looking around, I noticed that he had transported the car right outside my home. Looking down, I noticed something else.
Looking up I yelled, “You could teleport me home, but you couldn’t give me some clothes?”
The next day, I told the others about my powers, with the Mayor’s ascension looming and Faith turned to the dark side, we need any advantage we can get. Although I did decide to omit the part about me being a T.V. show to the gods.
And when the news came out about the Mayor’s demonic weakness, I became the plan to defeat him.
So there I stood, watching as the Mayor’s human body twisted and mutated, growing into the form of an Olvikan Demon. My clothes burnt away as my flesh turned to lava and I focused on channeling the heat of the Earth’s core.
Fire erupted from my outstretched arms, keeping the monster at bay as I focused on the ground beneath it. Slowly, the dirt began to heat up as the Mayor thrashed above, melting and falling away to expose the newborn volcano beneath.
Mayor Wilkins the First, Second and Third gave an unholy shriek as he fell into the pit of molten rock, but he did not rise.
Worn out from the exertion of creating a volcano, I reverted to my normal form, collapsing naked on the ground as the battle between the students and the vampires raged on, with the vamps being heavily outnumbered.
Somewhere, high on Olympus, Venus looked towards her husband and smirked seductively. Vulcan, in response, smiled happily, the bastard was getting lucky because of me and he knew it.