Disclaimer: Btvs characters are owned by J. Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Damon Lathe and ‘Blackcollar’ are owned by Timothy Zahn and Baen publishing. I own nothing but ideas caused by sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Giles was having a quiet morning in his apartment. A pot of tea and a cup was beside his elbow and he had just opened the daily paper. Buffy and her friends were to meet at the school library this afternoon so Giles could ensure that there were no lasting repercussions from the previous nights magic. According to the paper while parts of the town had suffered significant damage and the hospitals were filled with the injured there were surprisingly few deaths. Of course the ‘Sunnydale Syndrome’ was in full effect as the authorities were claiming a gas leak had caused mass hallucinations. The Mayor had issued a statement saying last night’s events were “a tragic accident” and thanking those who were unaffected for their efforts in restoring order.
He was about to turn to the obituaries when he heard someone pounding on his door. On his doorstep was a very wild eyed Xander Harris. “Giles we need to talk!” The Watcher knew that something was wrong when the young man addressed him by his name and not ‘G-Man’. Rupert motioned for the teenager to enter and followed him into the living room.
“So Xander, what seems to be the problem?” Giles said as he placed a cup of tea in front of the agitated youth.
“Giles last night you said that at most we would have fading memories of our possessions.” Xander said, glancing around the room, automatically noting exit points and blind spots. He took a deep breath before continuing. “I think that something extra was left behind.” Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a silver grey ring and placed it on the table between them.
“Giles do you have a knife you won’t mind getting broken?” Giles looked at him questionably before moving to a nearby cabinet and pulling out a short utility knife. He returned to the table and placed the knife next to the ring. “Now Xander would you mind telling me what is going on?”
Xander handed the ring to the older man. “Last night when I put on that costume that ring was made of plastic. Now it’s not.” Giles hefted the ring and noted two things. The first was that the ring was metallic and second it had almost no weight. He looked at the ring again, noting the dragon face design and what appeared to be ruby chips for eyes. Handing back the ring he looked at Xander.
Xander took the ring back then picked up the knife. Bracing the point of the blade on the table he then dragged the batwing edge of the ring across the blade. Giles looked on in astonishment as the ring shaved a sliver of steel from the knife without damage. “Good lord Xander what is that ring?”
“It’s the ring of a fictional soldier from the future. His name is Damon Lathe. He fought and lost a war against an alien race in the 25th century and spent the next thirty years letting his enemies think he was no threat to them before launching an attack that started the liberation of humanity.” Xander said quietly, placing the ring back in his pocket. “I think that I still have most if not all his memories. Especially his knowledge of the martial arts, weapons, strategy, tactics and planning.” Xander looked at the Watcher before going on. “Giles I need to know. Am I still me or will the memories and experiences of someone from a sci-fi novel overwhelm me?”
Giles saw the fear in the young man’s eyes. Removing his glasses he polished them for a moment before answering. “Xander I’ll be honest with you I have never heard of something like this happening. But since Ethan was using ‘Chaos Magic’ there is no way of knowing what the long term repercussions could be. Are you sure that you have memories of this character and it’s not just things described in the book?”
“Giles when I woke up this morning I started doing a series of exercises designed to develop and maintain flexibility and muscle tone. Once I finished that I did a series of martial arts katas I never knew before today. It’s starting to freak me out!!” The last sentence was nearly shouted.
Giles looked at Xander. The young man was as agitated as he had been after his Hyena possession. Replacing his glasses Giles made a decision. “The first thing to do Xander is to calm down. Panicking won’t help anyone.” Xander took a deep breath and relaxed slightly. “What I’m going to do Xander is cast a spell so I can see your aura. If the character that you became last night is taking over it should be easy to see. If it is we can then work out what to do. So finish your drink and then join me in the study and we’ll begin.”
Xander nodded and reached for the mug in front of him while Giles began gathering the components for the spell before heading into the other room to prepare.
Two hours later.
Giles reached over and tapped the shoe of the young man dozing on the floor. A second later he was glad he hadn’t shaken Xander’s shoulder as the young man erupted from his position on the floor into a fighting stance, ready to attack or defend. Xander took in the room he was in and relaxed. “So G-Man, what did you find?”
“Well Xander I’m happy to say that you are not possessed by any entity demonic or otherwise.” Giles said, quietly pleased that Xander had relaxed enough to call him by that infernal nickname.
“I’m hearing a ’but’ coming G-Man, come on let the other shoe drop.”
“But your entire aura is awash with ’Chaos energy’, far more than what is normal for humans.”
“Oh great. I’m not possessed but I’m infected with ’evil’ magic. My life truly sucks!”
Giles smiled at his young friend. “No Xander you’re not infected with evil magic. Its chaos and all humans have some degree of chaos energy in them. It comes from having a soul and free will.”
Xander relaxed slightly. “So I’m not about to go crazy and try to summon a ‘Hell beast’ or something?’
“No Xander it will just be your normal level of teenage hormone driven insanity.” Giles chuckled quietly.
“Hey I resemble that remark!” Snarked Xander glaring at the Watcher.
“All jokes aside Xander there’s not much more I can tell you right now. I’ll need to do some research, perhaps consult with other members of the Council. To be honest I don’t think a spell of that magnitude has ever been attempted before.”
Giles paused while he thought about the problem. “Xander you said your character was from a novel? Do you happen to have a copy of it?”
Xander grinned and reached into one of his pockets. “Yeah G-Man I do and I thought that you might ask for it.” He passed over a battered paperback. Giles accepted the book and glanced at the cover. It showed a man dressed in black clothing using a nunchaku against a creature that looked remarkably like a Cru’lak demon wielding a heavy short sword.
“I’ll have a read of this over the weekend, perhaps it will give me a better understanding of what may be happening to you. Now you mentioned that you did several martial arts katas this morning?”
“Yeah it was weird cause the only fighting moves I know come from Bruce Lee films and watching Buffy train.” Xander’s stomach growled, letting him know that it hadn’t been fed since lunch yesterday.
“Xander why don’t you get something to eat and meet me at the library. Buffy and Willow should be there soon and I can check to ensure that the spell is not affecting them. I also want to see what fighting skills you’ve retained from last light. They might be helpful in the future.” Giles said speculatively.
“Sounds like a plan there G-Man. But could you ensure that you don’t use the word ‘possessed’ around Buffy? I really don’t want a repeat of my Hyena Incident and Buffy trying to brain me with a desk.”
With that Xander headed out the door while Giles gathered the components for the aura spell. Again he cursed Ethan and his warped sense of humor. Giles had a feeling that the repercussions of last night would be felt for years to come.
The Library, Sunnydale High School.
Buffy, Giles and Willow stood watching as Xander worked his way through a series of martial arts patterns. Giles was in full Watcher mode trying to identify what particular martial art the young man was doing. After several minutes he realized that it was a combination of types. He saw the influence of aikido, kung fu and judo as well as various military style hand to hand combat techniques all blended together to form a style that used deflection and evasion for defense and hard fast strikes for attack. Every now again Xander would pause before moving on. The Watcher realized that Xander was actually thinking about the next series of movements before continuing on.
The two young women watched as their ’best guy shaped’ friend continued working through his exercises. After a few minutes Willow broke the silence. “He moves almost like he did last night.” She whispered to Buffy. The Slayer nodded as she remembered the events of Halloween night and how Xander had fought while he was affected by Ethan’s spell. Xander finished the last kata with punch/kick combination then stood upright, chest heaving while he got his breath back. Buffy turned to her Watcher.
“Giles are you sure Xander’s not possessed and we’re not going to have a repeat of ‘Hyena Xander’?”
“Yes Buffy I’m sure that Xander is not possessed.” Giles replied in an exasperated tone. “I used the same spell that I used to check your aura to ensure that ‘Lady Elizabeth’ would not reappear. As I said when you arrived Xander now has a very strong aptitude for hand to hand combat the same way that you now have an affinity for the French language.” Giles decided that he would not mention the larger than normal amount of Chaos energy around Xander. Since neither Buffy nor Willow really understood the difference between ‘White’, ‘Black’ and ‘Benign’ magic’s their first reaction would be to try and remove the excess energy from their friend. He suspected that any attempt to do so would result in Xander’s death.
That reminded him. He really should sit Willow down soon and explain to her the dangers of practicing magic on a Hellmouth for a neophyte just starting their studies. It was very easy for a beginner to unknowingly tap into the Hellmouth’s energy. Giles suspected that Willow’s own internal magical power was perhaps the strongest he had ever seen. If that was combined with the Hellmouth’s latent energy it could well spell disaster. Perhaps Miss Calendar would be willing to help?
Xander walked over to his friends, wiping his face with a hand towel. “Well guys what do you think?”
“WowXanderthatlookedgreatyouweremovinglikelastnightwhenyoukickedthestuffingoutofSpikebutnotasfast andwhyamIseeingblackspots!!” Willow babbled. Xander put his hands on the shoulders of his oldest friend. “Breathe Willow, Breathe.” He said calmly. Willow took several deep breaths. “Thanks Xander.”
“I suppose that you’ll insist on patrolling with me all the time now Xander?” Buffy said as she passed him a bottle of water. “Now that you’re ‘Mister Martial Arts’.”
Xander accepted the bottle with a grateful smile and took a much needed drink before replying. “No Buff. At least not for a while anyway.”
“Huhh?” Buffy was surprised. She’d thought that with Xander somehow knowing some fighting skills he’d attach himself to her hip.
He glanced over at Giles before continuing. “Buffy before I’m any good in a fight I need to train. Not just the fighting skills but my overall stamina and strength. I had a talk to the G-Man before you and Willow arrived and he agreed that going out and getting into fights with vampires is a good way for me to take a dirt nap!”
“Oh that makes sense.” Buffy said, at the same time wondering why she was feeling slightly disappointed that her friend didn’t’t immediately state that he was going to patrol with her from now on. “When I was first called Merrick had me train for nearly three weeks before I went after my first vampire.”
Willow then piped up. “Does that mean we won’t be seeing much of you for a while Xander?”
“Of course not Wills, I’ll still go Bronzing with my two best buds and of course school. It just means that Buffy won’t have to worry about me when she’s out patrolling.” Xander grinned at his friends.
Giles then called out from a nearby table. “Now that that’s settled Buffy I need you to have a look at tonight’s patrol route.” Buffy came over to look at the map, followed by Willow. “Because of last night I have a feeling that the vampires may be out in force. As a result tonight’s patrol is longer than normal.”
Buffy immediately started to whine. “But Giles it’s Saturday and there’s a good band playing at the Bronze tonight.”
“Yes Buffy I know and if you had actually looked at the patrol route before starting to complain you would have seen that the first leg finishes back here at the Library around 9 o’clock and the second leg begins at The Bronze at 11 and the nights patrol should have you back home by one.” The watcher said in a slightly superior tone.
Buffy blushed slightly in embarrassment as she realized she had put her foot in her mouth again. Giles then turned his attention to Willow. “Now Willow I know you were looking forward to tramping through graveyards with Buffy tonight but would you consider forgoing that to continue your magical studies?”
The young red head looked over to the Slayer. Seeing the small nod and smile from her friend she turned back to the Watcher. “Sure Giles that’d be great!! What spells are we going to practice?” Willow was virtually bouncing up and down in her excitement.
Giles smiled at Willow’s exuberance. “Sorry Willow there will be no spell casting tonight. Instead I want to go over some of the basic principles of magic as well as some of the pitfalls.”
“Oh, OK.” She said, slightly crestfallen. Then she perked up “It’ll be like learning how to program a computer!” Giles muttered something about ‘infernal machines before turning to Xander. “I take it you’ll begin your training tonight?”
“Yeah G-Man I figure I’ll spend some time in the gym this evening while Buffy’s doing her patrol and head back to my place after hitting the Bronze.”
“Well then I’ll see you all back here this evening. Oh and Buffy if you can get word to Angel ask him if he’s heard anything of Spike’s plans?”
With that they left the library.
Xander exited The Bronze and waved to his friends. The night had been good so far. Xander had spent several hours in the gym working on his strength and stamina. Then he and his two best friends in the world had spent a couple of hours dancing and just hanging out, acting like normal teenagers who didn’t live on a Hellmouth.
He grinned as imagined how Willow would sound when she found out that the bass player in the band had been watching her all night. The guy even missed a couple of chords when he and Buffy managed to drag her out onto the dance floor. Xander sort of knew the guy too, he was a senior known as Oz who kept to himself mostly.
“If he is chasing after Willow I’d better polish up my Shovel Speech.” He thought as he turned a corner.
Then his night went to shit as he ran straight into three vampire’s looking for a meal.
“Lookee here boys, dinner showed up on its own.” The largest vampire smirked.
The other two snickered while they moved to flank what they thought was an easy meal.
Xander’s first instinct was to run and scream for help but he quashed it ruthlessly. If he tried to run the vampires would be on him before he’d taken four steps. Screaming wouldn’t help either. This was Sunnydale, where people did not look out their windows at night and any loud noise was ignored. His only chance was to attack and hope that it would be enough to let him get away.
Moving faster than he ever thought possible he closed in on the big vampire and launched a palm strike towards the demon’s nose. Even as he felt the cartilage collapse under the blow he lashed out and side kicked the knee of the vampire on his left. Before the first two vampires fell to the ground in pain Xander had turned and was facing the third vampire with a stake in his hand.
The vampire barely had time to gape before Xander’s stake was embedded in his chest. Almost in a daze Xander staked the other two vampires and walked down the street.
“How the fuck did that happen?” He thought. “I just took down three vampires in less time than it takes Buffy!”
End Chapter Two.