AN> Sorry about the lack of action. It will be coming soon, as will a proper explanation of his power(s). Some dialogue was taken from Ultimate X-Men: The Tomorrow People, Vol. 1+++
Xander was dreaming. He had to be, because he was pretty sure he had blacked out in the middle of a Sunnydale street, not around a campfire on the planes of an African savannah. Shaking his head slightly to clear away the last of the cobwebs, he pushed himself up so that he was sitting, legs splayed out in front of him.
The grassy woodland plane extended as far as his eye could see, the golden blades shimmering slightly in the moonlight while the small trees ways in a faint breeze. The chirping of crickets joined the sound of the fire crackling, creating a wild symphony that was oddly soothing.
Xander flinched, head whipping around at the sound. His entire body tensed when his eyes fell on, well, himself, sprawled out on the other side of the fire. The other Xander was dressed in an olive green tank top, heavy camouflage pants and shiny black combat boots. His hair was cropped in a high and tight, and his right bicep was covered in a vivid tattoo of an eagle holding a rifle, a trident and an anchor.
“About time you woke up, soldier,” the other Xander, SEAL Xander, said, eying his counterpart carefully. “I was getting bored with only Spots to talk to.”
“Huh?” Xander frowned, “What? Who the hell are you, and why do you look like me?”
SEAL Xander snorted before giving him a sloppy salute. “Lieutenant Commander Alexander Harris, United States Navy SEAL, reporting for duty.”
“Huh,” Xander nodded dumbly for a second. “You’d think after getting punched in the face so many times, I’d be a bit more resistant to concussion-induced hallucinations.”
That startled a laugh from the lieutenant. “Oh, I’m not a hallucination, soldier. I’m you. Or, at least, I’m the you that was running around on Halloween.”
“But the spell ended,” Xander protested, shaking his head frantically in denial. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Just ‘cause the spell ended doesn’t mean I disappeared,” SEAL Xander told him plainly as he rolled his shoulders and looked up at the sky. “For better or worse, you were me, and no hocus pocus is going to change that. Sure, the conscious stuff was fading, but the more unconscious stuff – the attitude, the instincts – they stuck around.”
“Then what are you doing here? You just said you were fading, so how are you still hanging around all fully-formed like?”
SEAL Xander shrugged carelessly. “Don’t know. Probably the same thing that let you do whatever it was to kill that vamp. All I do know is that I feel like I’m finally home.”
“Home?” Xander frowned again as he let himself lean back on his elbows. It was clear he wasn’t going anywhere, so he may as well get comfortable.
“When I was riding around in your body, I felt… wrong, like I was walking around in clothes a size too small. I wasn’t meant to be there, and I guess I knew it on some level. But now… now I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be, even if I am dissolving a little.”
“You’re dissolving?” Xander cocked his head, eying SEAL Xander carefully, which made the lieutenant snort in amusement.
“Not right this moment, numbskull,” the SEAL smirked at him. “And it’s not even dissolving really. It’s more like, the bits that make me me
, are slotting in with the bits that make you you
“You mean we’re… merging? Combining?”
“Nah,” SEAL Xander shook his head. “It’s more like, you’re getting a Me-Upgrade. You’re not getting my personal memories or anything, just my skills and stuff. You’ll still be you, just with a little extra.”
“Cool,” Xander nodded. That didn’t sound so bad. In fact, it sounded all kinds of awesome. The martial arts training alone was badass on a level Xander never thought he would reach. “When it’s over… will you still be here?”
SEAL Xander shrugged. “Probably. Someone needs to keep Spots company.”
“Spots?” Xander asked, cocking his head.
A high-pitched cackle filled the air, sending shivers racing up Xander spine, along with a healthy dose of pure terror. He recognised that laugh. It had haunted and lingered at the edges of his waking mind, drawing his eyes towards elderly couples walking down the street and children who had strayed from their parents. It represented the darkest parts of himself, the wild, dangerous part of himself that didn’t care about social inhibitions.
A flash of green in the corner of his eye had Xander scrambling to his feet and rushing away from the shadowy form emerging from the darkness. The hyena was exactly like he remembered the ones in the zoo; a muscular well developed neck and forequarters, with a smaller rounded rump; a wide, flat head with a blunted muzzle, and a face dominated by glowing green eyes; legs ending in broad paws, and a short tail swaying behind it playfully.
Xander froze, unable to move while the Primal stared at him. The moment stretched out until, after what felt like a millennia, the hyena let out a cackle before padding over to SEAL Xander and settling down beside him.
“What the hell!” Xander snapped when he was finally able to move again. He shifted away from the fire, putting more room between him and… it. “The Primal was supposed to be gone!”
The hyena yipped at him, and then laid its head down on SEAL Xander’s lap in an attempt to beg for a scratch, which the soldier provided with a roll of his eyes. “Dormant, but not gone, Xander. Primal possession is a permanent thing. Sure, you might have been able to subconsciously suppress Spots here, but whatever it was that brought me forward brought him too.”
“No! Not again! I will not be possessed again!” Xander shook his head furiously, curling his hands into fists.
“And you won’t be,” the lieutenant said in the same exasperated tone Giles used whenever he thought one of the gang was being ignorant. “The same thing that’s happening to me is happening to him, so stop freaking out. Jeez. You spend so much time whining about not being special, and now that it’s actually happening, you’re still bitching. Make up your damn mind!”
“That thing nearly raped Buffy!” Xander snapped, eyes glaring at ‘Spots’.
“No, that was animal instinct being corrupted by human intellect,” SEAL Xander countered, returning the glare on the hyena’s behalf. “You weren’t prepared for the possession, so it took you over completely, suppressing the part of you that would have normally been in control. You know this – you read it yourself – so man the fuck up, we’ve got more important things to deal with.”
“Like working out what the hell happened when you dusted that vamp,” SEAL Xander practically yelled, startling Spots, who had been dozing off. “In case it’s slipped your addled brainpan, as a rule, people don’t just atomise into clouds capable of sentient thought. That’s a whole new level of weird, even on the Hellmouth.”
Xander continued to glare at the hyena, breaths coming in harsh and sharp, while SEAL Xander’s words filtered through his mind. Begrudgingly, Xander let himself relax. The soldier did have a point. The research Giles had made him do after the whole fiasco stated explained that it took years of mental preparation for an initiate to reach the level they needed to be to control the Primal spirit. And as anyone could tell you – some with more flare and vitriol than others – Xander was not one for mental preparation.
Sighing, Xander lowered himself back to the ground. He crossed his legs and stared across the fire towards his spiritual counterparts. “I hate it when I use logic. You’re me, right, so why can’t you be just as irrational?”
“It’s called practicality,” the lieutenant waved off his complaint negligently. “So, let’s talk this bitch out.”
“And how are we going to do that? It’s not like we can research in here, what with our big honking lack of books,” Xander replied.
SEAL Xander sighed and shot a pleading look skyward. “See, I know I wasn’t this dense when I was this age,” he muttered to himself before tipping his head forward and fixing Xander with a piercing stare. “Think, idiot. You know, actually use that grey squishy thing between your ears for something other than lame puns.”
“Hey! My puns are not lame!” Xander protested, only to quail under the glare he received.
“As I was saying…” SEAL Xander continued, daring Xander to interrupt him, “people don’t normally burst into clouds of whatever the hell that was, so it was clearly not
of the natural, which means it was either demonic, magical, or something else entirely.”
“It couldn’t have been demonic,” Xander shook his head. “The only demons besides vampires I’ve been near lately have been the Bitchhood of Premenstrual Hell, and the books said they hate magic, which rules that out as well.”
“Congratulations,” SEAL Xander clapped condescendingly. “Welcome to the party… finally.”
Xander huffed. “Has anyone told you that you’re a real bastard?”
“My ex-girlfriend might have said something like that, but she was always whining about something,” SEAL Xander replied without missing a beat. “Kind of like you, now that I think about it.”
“Yep,” Xander stage-whispered. “With a capital B.”
“And since we both know that O’Toole’s little spell was on his buddies, not you, we’re left with ‘something else,’” SEAL Xander continued, once again ignoring Xander’s comment entirely.
“Something else, huh? Care to vague that up a little more?” Xander snorted.
“Bite me,” SEAL Xander snapped at his counterpart, hands absentmindedly running through Spots’ fur. “So, you’re not a demon, nor are you possessed by a demon, you’re not a witch, and you haven’t pissed of a witch enough to curse you. I can only think of one other type of person who spontaneously develops strange abilities. How about you?” +++
When Xander snapped awake, going from semi-comatose to where’s-my-coffee in the space of a heartbeat, he was still lying face down on the cement in the middle of the street. The only change that had occurred during his stay in Nevernever Land was the coloration of the sky. The dark consuming pitch of the night had bled into a rapidly warming indigo.
Groaning, the teen braced his hands against the cool ground and pushed himself up onto his knees, then to his feet. It took him a few minutes to regain his balance, but once his equilibrium was back, he began to shakily stumble home. When he reached the house his oh-so-loving parents occupied, the lights were all out except for a brief flickering he could make out through the front window which told him that the television was still on – probably because neither of the ‘rents bothered to shut it off before passing out after a full day of drinking.
Shaking his head in disgust, Xander pulled his keys out of his pocket and quietly unlocked the door. He slipped inside silently, shooting a glance towards the sofa as he passed, confirming his earlier theory that both Tony and Jessica Harris were passed out in an alcohol-induced slumber. Rolling his eyes before sneering at the two layabouts that constituted his parental unit, the teen turned to leave, only freezing when his foot came down on the remote control. How the damn thing ended up under his foot, he had no idea, but the result had him thinking it was more than just a coincidence.
“Good Morning California, I’m Ellen Isley and you’re watching Channel 9 early-morning news update,” the blond woman on the screen announced. She was wearing a blue business suit with a pair of wire-framed glasses perched on her nose. “This morning’s top story, the trial run of the government’s Sentinel Project is hailed as a triumphant success as a mutant nest is uncovered and neutralised with zero civilian casualties.”
The image on the screen changed, showing soldiers running crowd control while a robot stared down at the flaming wreck of a car with glowing eyes. Xander couldn’t help but stare at the image in horror, especially when he could see suspiciously humanoid-shaped blurs in the flames.
“Were these mutant terrorists behind the recent anti-human bombings in New York and Washington?” the woman’s voice continued as the screen flickered to other similar scenes. “People say the evidence is undeniable, but Human Rights campaigners Amnesty International have condemned the action as ‘inhumane and unconstitutional’, provoking stern White House response.”
The screen flickered again, showing one of the president’s aids standing behind a podium. “How anyone can question the Sentinel Initiative after the Washington Annihilation is astonishing,” the aid said, gesturing strongly. “The president wishes to reaffirm his support of the project, and offers his sincere congratulations to the federal employees behind it.”
The image on the screen changed to show fire fighters and rescue works rushing through a disaster sight while the newscaster’s voice returned, “The president’s press secretary was, of course, referring to the Brotherhood of Mutants’ devastating bomb-blast on Capitol Hill on seven days ago, and the subsequent broadcast from Magneto, the death-cults self-appointed leader…”
“Man is a parasite on mutant resources,” a man wearing a red uniform trimmed in purple said from his thrown. His face was hidden by a domed helmet, but his eyes gleamed from the shadows it cast. On either side of him stood a mutant. On the left, a woman in red, with black hair spilling around her shoulders, and on the right, a man with silver hair and green uniform decorated with lightning bolts. “He eats our food, breathes our air, and occupies land which evolution intended Homo Superior to inherit. Naturally, our attacks on your power bases will continue until you deliver this world to its rightful owners.” The screen flickered to show a close-up of Magneto’s face. “But your replacements grow impatient.”
The video cut off, replaced by a clip of a man in a lab coat bent over a computer terminal.
“Former NASA engineer and Sentinel designer, Professor Bolivar Trask, was pleased with the performance of his androids, and is excited about future potential,” Ellen said.
“We’ve lived in fear of the mutants for as long as I can remember, but today goes down in history as the turning point where ordinary people start fighting back,” Trask’s voice stated. “Los Angeles was only the first step: my colleges and I estimate that ever mutant hiding in the United States will be detained in the next six to eight weeks.”
Xander quickly swept the remote up of the floor and hit the mute button. Dropping it onto the back of the sofa, the teen braced his arms against his mother’s make-shift bed and stared at the vividly coloured images. His thoughts were summed up with one word; “Shit.”