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.
It was night in the graveyard, the only light came from scattered street lights and the new moon that was just rising over the mountains to the east. Near a freshly dug grave two figures waited, one patiently and the other was constantly checking her watch and tapping her foot in frustration.
“Dammit! How long do we have to wait for this guy to wake up?” Buffy asked, adjusting the leather jacket she was wearing and automatically checking the stake that she kept in an inside pocket was easy to get to. “I’m supposed to be meeting Angel at the Bronze soon.”
Leaning against a headstone Xander looked up from the stake he was idly whittling. “Relax Buffy, George will make his appearance soon.” He said as he inspected the point of the stake. Satisfied that it was sharp enough he tucked it into his own jacket and folded the knife he had been using before putting it away. “In fact, it looks like tonight’s guest of honour is about to arrive.” He said, pointing at the grave where the loose dirt had started to move as something dug its way to the surface. “You want to take this one?”
Buffy shook her head. “Nah Xander, I’ve just done my nails. You can have him.” She offered magnanimously waving a hand to indicate that she had just had a manicure.
Before Halloween she would never have considered letting her ‘Xander Shaped Friend’ take on a vampire, even one that was still trying to dig its way out of its grave on his own. But she had to admit that Xander was now a highly skilled fighter in his own right, not as good as her of course but more than capable of taking on a new riser, and she’d be right beside him if things went wrong.
“Thanks Buff your all heart.” Xander responded and drew his Nunchaku and made sure that his stake was at hand. His experiments with sharpening the ends of the batons so that they could be used as stakes hadn’t worked all that well so now he concentrated on disabling vampires before staking them.
In front of him ‘George’ a college student who drank too much one night and let himself get picked up by the wrong sort of girl finally dug himself out of his grave and snarled at the two teens. He could smell the hot blood that pulsed through their veins and his mouth watered at the thought of draining the teenagers dry.
“THWACK!!!” The sound of the flail impacting with a skull echoed across the graveyard. If ‘George’ had still been human the impact of Xander’s Nunchaku would have killed him immediately. Instead it stunned the vampire and Xander grabbed the vampire by its shoulders and dragged it out of its grave far enough so that he could stake it.
With a muted ‘whump’ the vampire was transformed into dust and Xander rose to his feet. “Well that was fun.” He said as he slapped the dust off his sleeve before turning to the Slayer.
“How’s your mom doing?” He asked quietly.
“She’s dealing Xander. But I don’t think that she’ll be accepting any dinner invitations soon.” Buffy replied as she quickly scanned the surrounding darkness for threats, hoping that Xander would take the hint and drop the subject of her mom’s former boyfriend.
Xander nodded in understanding, realising that Ted Buchanan was a sore spot for his friend. “So any news on Spike and Drusilla?” He asked, changing the subject.
Buffy just frowned and absently kicked a pebble, the small stone flying off into the darkness to embed itself in a tree fifty feet away. “They survived the church fire, but apart from that nothing. I haven’t even seen any of their minions lately.”
“How do you know that they made it out of the church?” Xander asked curiously.
“Angel told me.” Buffy said with a shrug. “It’s this weird Sire/Childe bond thingy he has. If Drusilla didn’t make it out of the church he’d know and since Drusilla hasn’t tried to destroy the town for revenge Spike’s still out there too.”
“Pity Angel couldn’t use the bond to track down where they’re hiding.” Xander commented. “That way we could put both of them out of our misery.”
The Slayer looked at her friend and realised that that was a good idea and something she should have thought of before. She’d have to ask Angel about it tonight when she saw the vampire with a soul.
The two teenagers left the cemetery and started walking towards the Bronze, neither of them talking, just enjoying the cool night air. As they turned the corner onto the street where the nightclub was located Buffy broke the silence.
“Giles tells me that you’ve been coming into school early these days.” She said as they walked along.
Xander just shrugged. “Been trying to spend as little time at home as I can.”
“I’ve noticed that Cordelia’s car is one of the first in the car park most mornings too.” She looked at her friend. “Is there something that you’re not telling me?”
Xander almost tripped over his own feet. For a second he thought that Buffy knew his secret but when he looked at her he realised that she was just fishing for information.
“Probably.” Xander replied shoving his hands deep into his pockets. “But Cordy coming to school early is no big secret. I’ve just been training her.”
“You’re training Cordy?!” Buffy’s voice raised an octave then her eyes narrowed. “Your training her how to fight?! Why would you do that! It’s stupid Xander, she could get herself killed if she tries to take on a vampire!”
Xander sighed. He knew that when Buffy found out that he was teaching Cordy she would react like this. The priority now was to calm the Slayer down before she did something stupid like confronting the cheerleader and trying to order her around. He doubted that that would end well.
“Calm down Buffy. Cordy’s not about to go running around at night hunting vampires on her own, she’s not that stupid. She just wants to know enough that if she does run into a vampire and you’re, say on the other side of town, she can fight well enough to get away.” He paused and looked at the Slayer. “As to why, she asked.”
Closing the door to his locker and was surprised to see Cordelia standing there.
“Cordelia, to what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked.
Cordelia Chase just glared at Xander before grabbing him by the arm. “We need to talk.” She snapped as she dragged him into an empty classroom.
Xander felt himself swallow nervously, he had a feeling that whatever Cordy wanted to talk about wasn’t the pair of shoes that had been ruined last night.
“Look Cordy if it’s about last night it’s not my fault that your shoes got ruined but come on, it’s your own fault for wearing designer shoes to a fight.”
“That’s not what I want to talk about. And for the record Dweeb, the day I take fashion advice from you is the day I come to school in a Muumuu!” She declared in full ‘Queen C’ mode. She paused and took a deep breath.
“I want you to teach me.” She said.
“Teach you what?” Xander asked confused.
“How to fight. I’ve seen you spar with Buffy and I also saw what you did in the church. I want to be able to do that.”
“Cordy why do you want to learn to fight? I mean, whenever one of your ‘Sheep’ gets out of line or you think another student has dissed you you rip them to shreds with a few well timed insults.”
“I’m a lot of thing Xander.” Cordelia confessed. “But stupid is not one of them. I know that it’s only been luck and Buffy being the Slayer that has saved me from being a vampire’s late night snack or some pyscho’s plaything. And I also know that Summers can’t be everywhere and in this town all it takes is Buffy to be roaming some cemetery on the other side of town and I end up as a statistic.” She took a deep breath and continued. “If I know some fighting moves I’ll be able to get away if something attacks me.”
Xander was about to tell her that there was no way he would be able to teach her when a memory from Comsquare Lathe came to him. Of the teenagers on Plinry, such as Pittman, Braune, Colvin and Alamzad, who the surviving Blackcollars had secretly recruited and trained after the war and Allen Caine, the Earth resistance agent who had arrived on a mission to find the location of five Nova class battleships that had been hidden before the war had been lost.
All of them had turned out to be exceptional fighters, Pittman had faced off against a Ryqril warrior on his first mission and survived and Caine and his team had travelled to Earth searching for ‘Backlash’, the drug that made Blackcollars the superb fighters they were. Lathe’s memories told him that even without ‘Backlash’ normal humans could be turned in highly effective fighters.
“Fine, if you want to learn how to fight I’ll teach you.” He said. “But this isn’t something that you can stop doing once you get bored.”
Cordelia just sniffed. “As if loser. I haven’t walked away from anything in my life.”
Xander nodded, remembering that Cordy stuck with things till the bitter end.
“We’ll start tomorrow morning then.” Seeing Cordelia nodding in agreement he reached for his messenger bag. “Is there anything else? Can I go now?”
“Just one more thing.” Cordelia said and the next thing Xander knew she had grabbed his head and pulled him down for a kiss.
Xander couldn’t help himself. He had an armful of teenage cheerleader who was trying to check that he still had his tonsils with her tongue.
Finally the two teenagers broke apart.
“Wha!..How!?” Xander stammered once Cordelia released her lip lock on him.
“I wanted to be sure that what I felt when you kissed me in the basement wasn’t just caused by the danger.” She smirked and sashayed away from the still stunned teenager. She paused with her hand on the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning Dweeb!” And with that she was gone.
Xander just blinked when he realised that he was alone in the classroom. “Oh yeah, training Cordy is going to be a barrel of laughs.” He thought to himself as he collapsed in a chair.
Another memory of Damon Lathe’s came to him. Of a Resistance intelligence officer on the planet Ardent named Faye Picciano who had tried to seduce the Comsquare. Xander snorted, Faye had nothing on Cordy that was for sure.
Then another thought struck. “Wait a minute! She kissed me! Not the other way around!”
Buffy just harrumphed and crossed her arms across her chest. “I still don’t like it Xander. I’m the Slayer! It’s my job to deal with the things that go bump in the night.”
Xander decided that now was not a good time to remind Buffy that she wasn’t the only Slayer any more now that they’d met Kendra. But he was glad that Buffy was concentrating on him training Cordy and not what the two of them got up to in the janitors closet or the stacks in the back of the library whenever they had the chance.
“C’mon Buff, let’s go see what Willow’s got up to at the Bronze.” He said gently steering his friend down the street. “Maybe there’s some vampire there who hasn’t heard that The Bronze isn’t the buffet it used to be.”
Buffy felt herself perk up at the thought of staking a vampire before getting her groove on, especially since she’d be seeing Angel tonight as well. The friends headed towards the music and lights of the nightclub for a few hours of dancing and companionship.
Jenny Calender walked up to the front doors of the school, briefcase in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other ready for another day. When her Uncle Enyos had come to her over a year ago to inform her that she had been selected to watch over the vampire that the Clan Kalderash had cursed over a century ago she had almost refused to go. She had a nice life in San Francisco, a job she enjoyed and a circle of friends that she was close to and she didn’t want to give it all up to come to a small town and keep an eye on a vampire that should have turned to dust decades ago.
But eventually she acceded to her Uncle’s demands and moved to the town that was built on the Hellmouth.
And soon after her arrival something strange began to happen. She found herself starting to enjoy teaching, especially students the calibre of Willow Rosenberg and Jonathon Levison. Her distaste for the vampire with a soul started to lessen as well when she realised that Angel was trying to make up for the atrocities that had been done by his demon and the fact that he had saved her life.
And then there was the most surprising thing. She found herself falling in love. A smile appeared on her face as she thought about the school librarian, Rupert Giles.
Yes they had hit a bit of a rough patch after the whole Eyghon incident when Rupert’s sordid past came back to haunt him and she had briefly been possessed by the ‘Sleep Walking’ demon but thankfully they were past that now. She wondered what her extended family’s reaction would be if she introduced him to them. Of course in order for her to do that she’d have to tell him who she really was. Her smile faded.
She hoped that he would be understanding when she told him that she was really Janna Kalderash and had been sent here to ensure that the tribe’s vengeance would continue.
Sighing she continued towards her classroom, trying to think of a way to reveal her secret identity. Nodding in greeting to Darrel Whitmore, the Social Studies teacher who held a tray a tray of eggs in his hands she walked past the gymnasium and paused when she heard something.
It sounded like someone hitting a punching bag, but Sunnydale High didn’t have a boxing team and the only other place she heard those noises had been in the library when Buffy was training.
Curious, she opened the doors and stop in surprise.
In the middle of the gym, Cordelia Chase was trying her best to punch Xander Harris.
“What’s going on here?!” She asked.