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Changes, Drawbacks and Discomforts

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Changes In Destiny". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Follow-up to my 'Beer Bad, Whiskey Worse' and 'Not All Tests Are Pass Or Fail' stories, and the third story in my 'Changes In Destiny' series.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralGreywizardFR1513,5810113,51013 Jun 1113 Jun 11Yes
Title: Changes, Drawbacks and Discomforts

Author: Greywizard

E-Mail: greywiz@gmail.com

Rating: FR15

Disclaimer: All BtVS references belong to Crack-Head Joss and ME. Sam Spade (Without A Trace) belongs to Hank Steinberg and whoever he's affiliated with. If you recognize other beings that Joss doesn't own, I don't own them either; either Marvel Comics or DC Comics do. Deal with it. I have.

Category: Multi-crossover. Note that I'm going to be rearranging the time frames of most of the series or shows that are mentioned, in order to make them better mesh with this particular universe.

Summary: Follow-up to my 'Beer Bad, Whiskey Worse' and 'Not All Tests Are Pass Or Fail' stories, which you can find here: http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-10239/Greywizard+Beer+Bad+Whiskey+Worse.htm and http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-25054/Greywizard+Not+All+Tests+Are+Pass+Or+Fail.htm. Story #3 in my 'Changes In Destiny' series.

Time Frame: Takes place during a slightly AU 'Chosen.'

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don't know what happened in 'Beer Bad, Whiskey Worse' and 'Not All Tests Are Pass Or Fail', why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: None. At all. Really!

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

As usual, "word" indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

~~~

"Change is the only constant." – Heraclitus

"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely." – Karen Kaiser Clark

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." – Arnold Bennett

~~~

Sunnydale High School
May 20, 2003


As Giles headed off towards the teachers' lounge to join Robin Wood, Buffy, Xander and Willow continued silently walking down the school corridor together side-by-side, their faces reflecting the memories of the innumerable times they'd done this in the old high school – before they'd blown it up at Graduation four years ago, of course.

Still maintaining her silence, Willow straightened herself into a more confident stance and then, after giving each of her two friends a hopeful, if somewhat hesitant smile, broke off and headed into Robin's office, to join Dawn and Kennedy. It had been decided that the Slayer's little sister should be with the witch and Potential Slayer, instead of joining Xander for the upcoming fight – the way things would have gone under different circumstances in a different universe.

Speaking of different circumstances, Xander Harris' life was a lot different now than what it could have been as well. He had gotten married in a drunken Vegas fiasco last year to a woman named Samantha ‘Sam' Spade. The marriage had immediately been annulled, of course, but two months later, Sam had called him and informed Xander that she was pregnant as a result of all the fun activities of their wedding night.

These days, what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas, obviously enough.

But the worst part was that after Sam had notified him of the pregnancy, she'd wanted Xander to renounce all claims to the child – something which he had refused to do. When he'd asked *why* Sam didn't want him to have anything to do with their child's life, the FBI agent hadn't mentioned her sister, or the guy that had raped her, or her part in his death. She'd just mentioned that, according to her sources, Xander had a police record; the Sunnydale PD listed him as being investigated for possible connections with a variety of violent assaults, deaths and drugs. In addition, he was suspected of having been involved with the theft of military weapons from the nearby Army base, as well as having a *very* highly classified military folder.

Not the kind of guy she wanted to be a one-eyed weekend dad, to be sure.

Putting aside the past, Xander reached out and took Buffy's hand and gave it a small squeeze, and with a lopsided grin, he then turned off to join Anya and Andrew in the atrium.

Alone once more, Buffy headed for the basement to join Faith, Spike and the Potentials and face her upcoming destiny.

***

Willow was seated on the floor before a semi-circle of runes, lit candles and ritualistic totems from pretty much every pantheon she could think of, the scythe directly before her, while Dawn and Kennedy sat across from her, facing the witch and watching intently as she made her final preparations.

"They should all be in place by now," Kennedy noted, a tremor of nervousness evident in the normally extremely self-confident teen's voice.

"Okay then," Willow laughed, an equally noticeable tremor in her voice as she considered the sheer magnitude of what the three of them were about to attempt. "It's magic time. You guys ready to kill me if the power makes me crazy?"

"Don't worry, Willow, we probably won't have to bother doing that, 'cause the Turok-Han're almost certainly gonna slaughter us all, long before that could happen," was Dawn's half-hearted attempt at humor.

"That's good to hear. Great. No pressure, at all," the redhead muttered nervously, more to herself than in actual response to the younger girl's comment. Reaching out, Willow laid her hands on the Scythe in front of her and then looked up at her companions/acolytes, the expression on her face completely serious now.

"Brace yourselves," Willow warned them before closing her eyes and focusing all her attention on the task before her and reaching out to link with both women with her – Dawn, to try and tap into the reputedly measureless power of the Key, and Kennedy, in order to try and use her as a linchpin to maintain both Dawn's and her own links to their humanity and hopefully avoid any appearances of potentially megalomaniacal alternate personas in the face of massive magic and multiple deities.

"Come on, Red. Make it happen. I'd rather not die here today, if it can be avoided," Kennedy muttered semi-snarkily in a barely audible voice, watching with a combination of trepidation and fascination as Willow chanted silently to herself, invoking powers she'd never before even dreamed of appealing to (especially all at once), while mystically reaching out and attempting to locate and bond with both Dawn and her lover.

"Oh – my – Goddess!"

The witch's comment issued unconsciously from her throat as she felt herself link with the youngest Summers woman, and the sheer amount of power suddenly available for her to tap became evident.

An instant later, Willow felt both her own and Dawn's connections to the nervously watching Potential click into place – and all the wonder, awe and worry, as well as the smallest trace of fear that Kennedy had been feeling while watching her, all of it rushed through her and enabled Willow to shake off the developing sense of godlike power that she'd begun to feel.

Channeling the power of the Key, which she could feel Dawn was making available for her use, into the Scythe lying on the floor in front her, Willow could feel the sudden flare of brilliant white light and immense power flowing into the artifact across the ethereal bridge the three had forged. She felt it gather itself into an ever growing pool of energy, waiting for the most favorable moment of release.

An instant later, an invisible tsunami of energy exploded outwards in an expanding circle, engulfing everything in its path and unlocking the myriad possibilities that had previously been locked away from so many unsuspecting beings across the globe.

It was telling how many gods and goddesses answered Willow's plea, and a fair indication that the Powers That Be and their ideas of ‘balance' were not what the elder gods had in mind when they'd left the PTB in charge of this reality. However, some of the deities who answered would prove problematic; but by then, it was too late to do anything about it.

***

Kennedy's head snapped up and her eyes widened with both shock and satisfaction as Willow's spell embraced her and she realized that her time as a Potential had finally come to an end – she was now a Vampire Slayer!

But now, she was just one of many…

And with a major difference; no demon was part of *this* Calling.

Far below the trio, inside the shadowy underground cave which Buffy had led them into via the Hell gate formed by the Seal of Danthalzar, Vi, Rona, Chao-Ahn, Amanda, Caridad and the rest of the Potentials assembled there with them all gasped in shock as Willow's spell passed through them and unleashed their Potential.

They, too, had become Vampire Slayers, and they turned to face the legion of enemies they could now instinctively sense were gathered together below them at the base of the cliff they stood on.

Faith merely wondered why the hungries and hornies were hitting now, instead of after the smackdown.

Elsewhere, in a softball field in Chicago, a young girl stepped up to bat and suddenly felt a surge of strength flow through her, and in Miami, a teenage schoolgirl put out a hand to steady herself against a row of lockers in her high school as a pulse of magical energy changed her forever.

In Bangalore, India, a girl fell to the floor as power and instinctive knowledge coursed through her.

And in Cuernavaca, Mexico, an abusive father realized that the hand he'd raised to strike his young daughter had halted in mid-swing and his wrist was caught in a vise-like grip, as his daughter was abruptly transformed from victim to champion. An instant later, the would-be batterer found himself flying through the air, to smash against the refrigerator in a welter of pain and broken bones.

In all of these instances and in hundreds of other cases throughout the world, people heard an ethereal-sounding woman's voice asking them, "Are you ready to be strong?"

***

Nearly indescribable power surged through Dawn Summers, as she sat cattycorner to both Willow and Kennedy.

Rejoicing in the previously inaccessible energy now flowing through her slim form and facilitating her newly gained awareness of each constituent part comprising her being, together with a newly gained awareness of the Key's energy that had, until this moment, been secreted within her without any way for her to either recognize it or utilize it, Dawn took a moment to focus her new awareness.

She could *see* it all now. The various green walls separating all the numberless different dimensions out there, demon worlds and hell dimensions alike. She could *see* how to insert herself to unlock those gates and let all the different dimensions bleed into this world and create sheer chaos, not that she any intention of doing so. Although she did seal off one particular hellfire dimension which had been Glory's original home, so that those other two ruling hellgods were cut off and trapped there forever.

It wasn't much of a revenge against the *thing* that had almost destroyed the Earth and forced her big sister to die for the cause, but Dawn was willing to take whatever she could get where Glory was concerned.

Then, tapping into the wellspring of power now available to her and smiling to herself as a stray memory of a once fervent childhood fantasy caught her attention, the slim brunette's body began to…change.

An exhausted and barely conscious redheaded witch and a newly empowered Slayer both watched in wide-eyed disbelief as, a moment after Willow sent out her question, Dawn suddenly – shimmered – and a seven foot tall, statuesque, emerald green woman now sat cross-legged in the same spot which a clearly adolescent teen had occupied only a moment before.

"Okay, guys, let's go kick some vampire ass!" Dawn smiled as she pushed herself to her feet before leaning down and offering the two older women a hand up.

Shaking her head as though to clear it, Kennedy hastily grabbed hold of the Scythe, then shoved herself up to her feet and began following the jade giantess as the woman who bore more than a passing resemblance to She-Hulk jogged towards the entrance to the basement where the Seal lay.

"Sunnydale," the former potential mused. "Leave it to the Hellmouth to bring a comic book to life."

~~~

Halfway across the country, a nigh-exhausted, redheaded youth wearing a sweat-drenched tee shirt, jogging shorts and sneakers slowed his fatigued pace and glanced around with a mixture of surprise and bewilderment as he felt the ethereal wave of energy surge over him on its transit across the planet.

Smiling with delight as he felt his exhaustion disappear behind the swell of power that had enveloped him, Bart Allen darted forward, resuming his previous run, only to almost instantly disappear from sight, leaving only a small trail of dust rising from the road and the echo of the first ever sonic boom Kid Flash had generated behind him.

~~~

Far out in the ocean, far beyond the view of any vessel, a capsized sailboat floundered under the punishing force of the storm-generated waves that smashed against it, and its sole occupant gasped as she slipped beneath the water one last time, her desperate efforts to stay afloat negated by the ferocity of the storm she'd been unable to avoid.

As her lungs protested futilely one final time and her body reflexively sought for more life-preserving oxygen, the arcane tsunami created by Willow and Dawn passed through her, unlocking possibilities in her genetic structure that would normally have remained inaccessible.

Accordingly, as the seawater invaded her lungs, her cellular structure shifted to one that had first evolved uncounted millennia ago – and Lorena Marquez's now-modified gill structures filtered the required oxygen out of the fluid she was now breathing in as easily as the air she'd inhaled only moments earlier.

Aquagirl instinctively relaxed, held in the soothing embrace of Mother Ocean.

~~~

Cecilia stumbled and nearly fell to the sidewalk as a moment of dizziness over took her, but then she recovered almost instantly, ignoring the incessant rude and ignorant remarks the teenagers hanging on the street corner yelled at her and continued on her way.

"Hey, bitch, I'm talking to you!" she then heard someone scream at the same time she felt a hand grab her arm and yank her backwards.

"Leave me alone," Cecilia demanded as she spun around, taking advantage of the momentum the person attacking her had imparted in order to spin faster, and she drove her fist deep into her assailant's stomach – doubling him over with the force of the unexpected reaction.

Unfortunately, that just produced a more ‘extreme' reaction on the part of the assailant.

"Yo, bitch, that was pretty fuckin' stupid!" the stocky, acne-scarred thug snarled as he yanked a gleaming, stainless steel semiautomatic pistol from behind his belt. "Before I was just gonna show ya some lovin', but now – I'm gonna fuckin' kill ya!"

Leveling the pistol at the woman he'd unsuccessfully tried to assault, the budding gangster rapid-fired three shots at his intended victim – only to drop to the pavement, screaming in pain as all three rounds were somehow reflected back at him by a barely visible, shimmering aura that suddenly enveloped his putative target.

Cecilia stared at her would-be murderer in dumbfounded surprise for a moment, before turning and walking off, leaving him lying on the cold and equally unfeeling concrete, and bleeding out on the sidewalk.

~~~

All across the globe, a myriad number of people, both those in immediate peril and those relaxing in complete comfort, were inundated by Willow and Dawn's wave of arcane energy. Previously unsuspected abilities and potentialities were unlocked and made available to their possessors, and the aftermath of the actions taken by a small unknown and unappreciated group in their efforts to save the world, would change said world in ways too complex for any one being to comprehend.

For better or worse, it was an entirely new playing field now.

~~~

Back in Sunnydale High School, inside the teachers' lounge, Rupert Giles and Robin Wood also heard Willow's voice echoing in their heads and inquiring, "Are you ready to be strong?" – Giles because of the minuscule, virtually unnoticeable fragment of the Slayer Spirit that still lingered within the former sorcerer's body after the mystical Joining that had allowed the Scooby Gang to defeat the demonic cyborg, Adam, three years earlier, and Robin because of the genetic heritage he carried from his mother's having been Called as a Slayer some three decades before.

Giles' response, "Yes, Willow, I am," came simultaneously with Robin's, "You bet I am!" and so the power of the Slayer that had, for untold thousands of years, previously empowered only women, now coursed through men's bodies, too, strengthening and enhancing them as it had its previous female bearers.

As he felt the wave of power surge though him, Robin glanced over at Giles as he hefted the double-bladed axe in his hand and said, "Let's move it, guy. We've got some ugly vampire ass to kick!"

***

In the school's atrium, both Anya and Andrew could almost literally *feel* the wave of energy which Willow and Dawn's combined effort had produced wash over them as it radiated outward from Robin's office, and the eyes of the ex-demon and the demon summoner widened as they considered the new level of power that they had now gained access to.

Anya frowned as she heard her former fiancée say, "You bet I am," apparently in answer to some question only he had heard, and she was just starting to turn to ask him who he was speaking to, when he abruptly dropped to the floor, while trying to muffle a scream of pain.

On his part, Xander felt as though each individual cell in his body were being ripped apart and then immediately reassembled in place, again and again, evidently as a result of that energy pulse which had just passed through him.

As Xander lay on the floor, trying to figure out what was happening to him, the former carpenter could hear Andrew exclaiming, "Oh Great Maker! I can't believe what I'm seeing!", as Anya snapped, "Andrew, shut up! You're not helping!"

"Wha- what happened? Ahn, what's going on?" Xander asked, shaking his head as he simultaneously realized the pain was ebbing away and that he was no longer experiencing the extreme, body-racking agony of just a moment ago.

"I don't know exactly what's responsible for what's happened to you, Xander," he heard his ex-fiancée saying, "but whatever it is, you've – changed."

Judging by the tone of the former vengeance demon's voice, Xander immediately realized that whatever it was that happened to him had to be something that was close to freaking her out – and given Anyanka's past history, that had to be *really* be something weird.

Opening his uninjured eye, the former carpenter forced himself up into a sitting position and glanced down at himself, only to freeze in shocked horror at what he discovered.

Xander's plaid flannel shirt and jeans were now ripped and torn and pulled taut over what was clearly a now larger and much more massive and solidly-built body than the one he'd possessed when he'd joined Anya and Andrew just a few minutes before.

The fact that he was much larger wasn't what was disturbing him, though – it was the fact that all of the skin visible through the tears in his clothing was grey and looked like it was kinda scaly, like it belonged to some sort of reptile – or maybe even a fish of some kind.

His fingers now ended in claws that looked like they were about an inch long and very sharp, and his teeth, from what he could feel moving his tongue around in his mouth, felt like they were not only pretty sharp, but serrated, too.

All in all, from everything he could see and feel, Xander Harris figured he probably looked like something Buffy and Faith would be either stabbing or bludgeoning with the biggest object they could find within arm's reach, just on instinctive general principles.

"By the Force, Xander!" Andrew exclaimed as he took a closer look at the founding Scooby from behind the safety of Anya's shoulder. "You look a lot like Marvel Comics' Tiger Shark did after he mutated from his basic human form.

"Just, y'know, without the huge dorsal fin on his back and head," Wells then noted thoughtfully. "Do you feel like you have gills, in addition to your lungs?"

"Andrew! You can satisfy your foolish comic book curiosity later, once we've managed to hopefully escape any Turok-Han that got by Buffy and Faith and the other Slayers!!" Anya scolded the over-enthusiastic geek as she smacked him in the back of the head to get his attention.

"Assuming, of course that Willow and Dawn were successful in activating them, that is," she noted parenthetically.

"I don't know about that last bit, Ahn," Xander said as he turned to face the hallway, from which he could hear the thud of heavy footsteps coming, "but I think we're about to find out first hand just how hard fighting a Turok-Han can be."

{ I just hope my son has a good life without me, if I don't survive this mess, } Xander thought to himself as he saw the first of their opponents enter the atrium. { Not that Sam would be likely to let me anywhere near him, now that *this* has happened... }

Leaving his axe lying on the floor where he'd involuntarily dropped it when the first spasm of his agonizing transformation had hit him (because it felt so much more natural using the claws he now possessed than some mere tool), Xander moved forward to face the first of the bestial, ugly uber-vampires who were now starting to rush through the hall door.

{ And since I'm probably not gonna make it out of this alive, I'd rather die at the hands of one of these monsters, than have Buffy or Faith be forced to kill me, } the founding Scooby decided as he leaped forward to meet their opponents.

Of course, being who he was, Xander just had to get his own, possibly last-ever, one-liner in as he met the first vamp of the fight.

"LANDSHARK!"


FIN

The End

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