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Better Slaying Through Chemistry

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Summary: Just because the Watchers Council is stuck in the Middle Ages regarding the Slaying doesn't mean that everyone has to be. This is a bit of a crack!fic, but I wrote it anyway.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralGreywizardFR1525,1356689,51419 Dec 1124 Aug 14No

Chapter One

Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss and ME. Deal with it. I have.

Time Frame: Not long after Season Three's episode, 'The Zeppo,' when Buffy and Willow were preaching that 'fray-adjacent' crap for Xander and Cordelia was doing her über-bitch shtick.

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don't know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: Maybe a little bit for Buffy, Willow and Cordelia, but it's also completely fits the canon characterization of all of the Scoobies at this point in the show and I don't mind being called out for that. Remember - It's *fiction*, people!

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Note 2: As usual, "word" indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author's Note 3: This particular plot bunny was inspired by a Harry Potter story I read, which, if you're interested, you can find here:

Author's Note 4: Fic #19 for my Christmas Challenge Fic-A-Thon.


Sunnydale High School
Chemistry class

February, 1999

"Whoa, now, that's really cool! *And* way interesting to know, Mr. Winslow. Thanks for showing me what to do; I think that it could really be a big help on this project I've been working on!"

Xander Harris was wearing a wide mischievous smile as he left the classroom after speaking with his Chemistry teacher after the end of class, and his smile grew even wider as he glanced down at the two small bottles he was currently holding in his hands.

"Demons might be stronger and uglier and they might have magic, but us humans have science and ingenuity on our side," Harris reflected thoughtfully to himself. A moment later, his face broke into a wide grin.

"Oh yeah, those putzes don't stand a chance."

Then, in a fit of Thomas Dolby worship, he yelled "SCIENCE!" at a passing and confused gaggle of Cordettes.


Sunnydale library

A short while later

"Xander! What're you doing here?" Buffy's voice echoed through the empty room, causing Willow and Giles to look up from where they were doing research on the latest Big Bad the group was facing.

"Oh, y'know, I decided to mosey on over here – figured I could help with the research like I usually do, Buff," Harris told, while giving her a look that appeared to question her memory and/or her sanity.

"Xander, I thought we discussed this. And I told you that you need to be, uh, fray-adjacent from now on, didn't I?" the petite blonde said, sounding a bit irritated before putting her hands on her hips as she looked at him.

"Yeah, that you did," Xander agreed with a nod. "I also didn't agree with you, if you'll recall, so here I am."

"Xander, I'm the Slayer," Buffy announced, glaring at him.

'"Yeah, that you are," Xander nodded his head again. "I'm thinkin' everyone already knew that, Buffy. So what's your point?"

Well, that was just like waving a big red flag in front of an enraged bull, to Buffy's mind. "So, you have to do what I say when it comes to the demons and stuff," the Chosen One declared, frowning and narrowing her eyes.

"No, I don't," Xander disagreed, making the blonde's jaw drop in surprise.

"Yes, you do!"

"No, I don't."

"Uh-huh, you do!!"

"Uh-uh, I don't!"

"Children, please. The grown-ups are trying to do some work here," Giles groaned from alongside Willow. "Buffy, Xander, could you kindly take this outside – or at least up into the stacks somewhere?"

"Just a sec, Giles..." Before Buffy could start up their disagreement again, Xander pointed his index finger at her as he said, "Just answer me one question, Buffy. You don't think I can make a difference in a fight against the vamps and demons, right?"

"Look, Xander, it's not about which of us can stand up and go toe to toe with the super-strong evil killing machine –" the Slayer started to say, wanting to spare Xander the humiliation of being told that he was essentially useless in a fight.

"Oh, I get that. But please, could you answer my question? A simple yes or no will do," Xander interrupted her.

"All right, fine. If you absolutely *insist* on me putting it that way, then the answer is 'yes,'" Buffy admitted reluctantly. "Making a difference in that sort of fight is about…well, it's all about who's got the power. And like it or not, you're not nearly as strong as the demons are, and you can't fight very well, either."

"You're right about the second part," Xander surprised his audience, which now included Willow and Giles, with his concurrence with Buffy's assertion. "And we'll discuss your unwarranted superiority complex later.

"But what I want to point out, right now, is that you don't have be strong to fight demons – not if you can fight smart," he then went on to say.

"Xander, what are you talking about?" Willow finally spoke up.

"I got a question for you, Giles. That very first day Willow and I found out about the vamps, you gave us that *memorable* 'this world is older than you know' speech. You remember?" Xander asked with a smile.

"Yes, yes, I do," the Watcher took off his glasses as he and Willow stood up from their seats. "What exactly does that have to do with your question, though?"

"Well, I've been doing a bit of reading after I remembered what you said about those whatchamacallit demons, the Old Ones," Harris continued expounding on his theme. "They'd made this world into their Hell, and had done so for eons, to quote you way back when. So it occurred to me to wonder, just *how* were the Big Bads eventually taken out? Y'know, in order for human beings to eventually make their way to the top of the food chain. It's not like there was a Slayer army around to do it back then, right? What with your "one girl in all the world who must work in secret" thing, I just couldn't help wondering how that battle was eventually won..."

Buffy and Willow frowned, staring at their mentor – who was now red-faced and refusing to meet any of their eyes. "Giles?" the two girls chorused in unison.

"The question is, ah, irrelevant, after all this time," the British man muttered, as if hoping that that would be the end of the matter.

"Well, now I'm interested," Willow said, putting on her Resolve Face for the ex-Watcher. "Why don't you want to answer Xander's question, Giles?"

"Yeah! Damn it, Giles, what are you trying to hide from us?" Buffy demanded, right on cue, piqued that she was apparently not being told something that she now decided she wanted to know.

Giles looked up to glare at Xander, who was sporting a victorious smile on his face. { I'll get you for this one day, boy... } "Very well. The truth wasn't the Slayer or the various Champions for the Powers That Be who were responsible for the downfall of the Old Ones, although they did play their part. It was...ordinary men and women rising up and casting off the shackles of slavery, who primarily won the day."

"WHAT?" Buffy and Willow both looked stunned with disbelief.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," Xander nodded, a satisfied expression on his face.

"I mean – think about it, guys. Because sure, the Slayer woulda done what she could, just like all the witches and warlocks or whoever it was that learned how to do magic in order to kill the bad guys. But there woulda been so few of them, how could there have been an army of people like that? It was plain old human sneakiness and learning how to outwit the enemy that let the army generals kick ancient demon ass back then," Xander said triumphantly, as Buffy realized – a little too late – how Harris had thoroughly reinforced his original argument that fighting smart trumped fighting strong any day of the week.

"Well, that was then, and this is now. And I'm telling you, Xander – it's not about just fighting smart, you also have to have the firepower to back up your moves! I mean, look at this way – an army of ants is never gonna win against an army of monkeys, no matter how good their strategy is!" Buffy said in annoyance.

"I don't know about that, Buffy," Harris shook his head doubtfully as he looked down at her. "You ever see those nature films about army ants down in South America? Once those things start marching, pretty much everything gets out of their way.

"Yeah, you can kill lots of them," he said, "but there're always going to be more ants to take the place of the ones you've killed, and each one of those ants is going to take a little bite before they get killed, and sooner or later, there isn't going to be anything left for those ants to take a bite out of.

"Anyway, Buff, how about this?" Harris offered the obviously skeptical blonde in front of him. "If I can fight you and knock you out cold, will you agree that I know what I'm talking about, and let me help out with the Slaying again – *without* any more complaints and arguments?

"And if I can't knock you out, well then, I'll stop bothering you about helping out with anything except research, ever again. Seriously, cross my heart and swear to God on Ms. Calendar's grave," Xander added an additional incentive to get Buffy to agree to his terms.

"Now, ho-hold on a sec..." Willow was smart enough to see how this was in fact a no-win situation for Team Double-X Chromosome.

Because if Xander proved his point, Buffy was going to be end up *pissed* from now until the end of eternity – whereas if he failed to do so, according to the terms of the deal, the guy was going to fade out of their lives completely, and both she *and* Buffy would *lose* their Xander-shaped friend.

As said, definitely a no-win situation. This was a Hellmouth-y version of the Kobayashi Maru test, as her childhood friend Jesse McNally would have put it in terms of Star Trek-speak.

"Okay, Xand, it's a deal," Buffy smirked, clearly confident of her impending victory and ignoring Willow's vigorous head-shakes. "If you can fight me and knock me out, you can help with the Slaying, and I won't argue with you about it again."

"Cool," the dark-haired youth nodded, and then looked down as he slipped his hands into his pants pockets, clearly searching for something.

"And you can start anytime you want," Buffy said, her hands still on her hips.

"I'll even let you throw the first punch," the Chosen One declared magnanimously, lifting up her chin as if to provide Xander with an easy target.

"Buffy-y-y-y..." Willow said beseechingly, feeling like she was riding a train wreck just waiting to happen – but at the same time, she was totally helpless to do anything about it.

"Willow, will you relax?" Buffy said to her best friend, before turning back to Xander. "Go ahead, Xander, hit me."

"Okay, if that's the way you want it," Xander nodded casually as he started to withdraw his hands from his pockets. "And remember, Buff – like they say, all's fair in love and war..."

Distracting Buffy's attention by lifting his left hand, which contained one of the small bottles he'd obtained earlier that afternoon from Mr. Winslow, and moving it slightly to his left, Xander depressed the spray nozzle on the top as he aimed it in the general direction of Buffy's face.

The petite blonde immediately let out a scream of heartfelt pain, as she instinctively lifted both hands to rub at her eyes.

Taking advantage of her distraction, Xander then sucker-punched the Slayer with his right fist, which was currently adorned with a set of brass knuckles, and Buffy immediately flew back and dropped to the floor like a puppet which had had its strings cut.

"God damn it, boy! What did you do?!" the disbelieving and worried ex-Watcher demanded angrily, glancing up at the dark-haired youth with an expression of astonishment as he checked his charge's condition.

"I punched Buffy and knocked her unconscious – just like I told her I would, Giles," Xander replied calmly. "I mean, hey – you were listening and watching the entire time, so I really don't see why you have to ask me what happened.

"Didn't you hear me say what I was going to do, just now? Or was it that you didn't have your glasses on in order to see what went down, British man?" Harris added with his typical irreverent grin. The narrow-eyed Watcher-type glare his question produced didn't change the expression on the youth's face one iota, though.

"XANDER!" Willow's screeching was approaching the upper limits of the human hearing range, and both males winced slightly as the near-equivalent of fingernails sliding down a blackboard grated on their ears.

The redhead angrily slapped him across the face and shouted, "THAT WAS SO MEAN! AND HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO BUFFY?"

"By being sneaky – kinda like this, Willow," Xander answered, the hint of a somewhat malicious grin on his lips as he lifted the spray bottle in her direction and thumbed the plunger top down a second time. "It's called formaldehyde."

The outraged and pain-filled scream which immediately followed caused Xander's grin to expand to a full-blown smile, and he tossed a second small bottle containing a 0.9% saline solution in the Englishman's direction as he said, "Here ya go, Giles. You can help them flush their eyes out with this."

"I, I don't think either Buffy or Willow would accept any help from me – or any other man – not at the moment," Giles muttered as he watched the witch clawing at her eyes before tearing his handkerchief in half, soaking one half in the saline solution and handing the wet cloth over to the redhead.

"What's with all the noise in here?" Cordelia Chase arrogantly demanded as she pushed through the library's swinging doors. "You can practically hear the screaming a mile away!!

"All right, doofus, let's hear it. What's that boyfriend-stealing little cheater screaming about?" the head cheerleader inquired imperiously with a lift of her perfectly plucked eyebrow as she glanced over at Willow rubbing at her eyes and Giles apparently attempting to aid her with some sort of rinse solution.

"Oh, nothing much. I was just showing the Willster how I knocked Buffy unconscious with one punch," Xander replied, an indifferent tone present in his voice as he answered Cordelia's question and gestured at the insensate Summers girl lying on the floor.

"Yeah, right. As if!" Cordelia immediately snorted derisively. "The day a nothing dork like you could do something like that, pigs will fly!"

"Okay, fine, don't believe me," her former boyfriend shrugged disinterestedly, his attitude indicating that he clearly didn't care whether she believed him or not. "Just ask Buffy what happened when she wakes up."

"Hey, wait a minute!" Cordelia interjected, her curiosity fully engaged now. She had dated Xander long enough to know when he was actually being serious about something, even if she'd been unable to perceive his lack of faithfulness to her. "*You* punched out Little Miss Freak Show Fights-A-Lot? How the hell did you manage to pull off something like that?"

"That's none of your business, Queen C," Xander told her, turning and frowning at his ex. "If Buffy wants you to know what happened, I'm sure she'll tell you. Otherwise, butt out," he said as he turned to leave.

"Wait up, dweeb boy," Cordelia snapped, a frown narrowing her normally smooth forehead as she grabbed hold of Xander's arm before he made it out the library doors. "I demand to know what you just did here!"

"Really. Why should I tell you, though? What's in it for me?" Xander asked her challengingly.

Cordy felt the stakes of this little contest of wills rise as she frowned and said, "All right, I'll bite. What do you want that I can give you? And Xander, if you so much as hint at me putting out for you, you'll get a Manolo Blahnik so far up your ass you'll be walking funny for a week afterwards!"

"You wanna know what I want? I want you to *stop*, Cordelia. Just – stop. That's all I want nowadays. A few months ago, it would have been for you to forgive me and take me back, sure – but hey, I'm thinkin' we both know how that ship has totally sailed now," Xander said with uncharacteristic grim seriousness.

"What are you talking about? And what do you mean, stop?" Cordelia looked a bit unsure by his demeanor.

"I mean, enough with the insults, and revealing my family's dirty laundry to everyone who'll bother listening to you. Just – pretend I don't exist anymore or something, I don't care," Xander said tonelessly. "Just stop acting like I'm Public Enemy Number One, or at the top of your shit list."

The old fury was instantly rekindled in Cordelia's heart. "After what you did to me? How *dare* you!!"

"After what I did to you? Cordelia, I cheated on you. I threw away the first real relationship I ever had with a girl for illicit smoochies with my best friend, because I was a complete hormonal jackass three or four months ago. I deserved to be dumped, and Lord knows I don't blame you for doing that. But everything else I got the blame for, I *didn't* deserve! I mean, hell – did I force you to run away up those stairs? Did I deliberately weaken that wooden board for you to fall through and get stabbed by that rebar? All that was an *accident*, for crying out loud! I just-"

"You just can damn well shut up," Cordelia hissed at him like a snake. "You think I give a damn about that gaping hole in my gut, or ending up in the hospital for a week? Newsflash, dummy, but I don't! What I care about is the humiliation I went through afterwards, when everybody learned that you had chosen the mousy little *nerd* over *me*!"

"And again I say, how is it *my* fault that Harmony overheard Buffy and Willow talking about what happened in the girls' bathroom, before she spread the news all over the entire school?" Xander demanded.

"Shut up! Just – shut up! All I want to know is how you managed to knock Buffy out cold – and then I'm through talking to you for the rest of your miserable, misbegotten life!!" Cordelia ranted at her ex-boyfriend viciously.

"You *sure* you want to know, Queen C?" Xander practically growled as he glared at the brunette, his hostility obvious to anyone who might have been viewing the scene unfolding before them.

Off to the side, Giles concealed a grimace observing the interaction between the two ex's while he helped Willow flush her eyes of the disinfectant/preservative.

While he personally bore the outspoken, acid-tongued young woman no animosity, he did think Cordelia's continuous verbal attacks upon her former boyfriend had been going on far beyond the point of any reasonable response time; thus, he did not intervene beyond retrieving the other half of his handkerchief and soaking it in the rinse saline solution, since he could easily foresee what was about to occur.

"Yes, I do!" the school's once-again-reigning social tyrant sneered at her former boyfriend in response to his question. "Now show me exactly what you did to Buffy!"

"Okay, then. Since you *demand* to know, I guess I don't have any other choice except to show you," Xander conceded, his words causing a wide smile to appear on Cordelia's face as Harris *finally* bowed to her will. "I showed her – this."

As another anguished female scream abruptly rent the air, Xander again began making his way out the library's doors.

"I'll see you guys later, Giles," he called back over his shoulder as he left Slayage Central.

"And when Buffy wakes up, don't forget to remind her about our little deal she entered into... entirely of her own free will."

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