BtVS and Ultimate X-Men belong to their owners which, unfortunately, are not me. But I can still play in their sandbox! Glee! +++ Prologue
Xander walked down the street with his head down and his hands in his pockets. He didn’t even notice the sunlight fading into night, the safety of the day bleeding away a little more each passing moment. The street lights flickered on one at a time, narrow beams pooling on the pavement. Xander’s mind didn’t register the change; too busy going over the latest episode of ‘Slayer: The Buffy Summers Chronicles’, entitled ‘Let’s Keep Xander Fray-Adjacent.’
Over the last year, the teen had noticed how ‘his’ girls had slowly been phasing him out, pushing him to the edges of their little group. Instead of contributing to the fight against evil, he had been reduced to contributing to the fight against hunger and chores. Now, rather than researching ways to stop the next big bad, or fighting the littler bads, he fetched food and ran errands. There was nothing like being demoted to a secretary for the mystically-enhanced to stomp on a boy’s ego.
It had gotten even worse since the arrival of Faith. Now that they had another heavy hitter, the girls seemed to think that he wasn’t needed to fight any more. After all, he was only human, the normal one without any supernatural powers to help him out – Yeah, like floating a pencil was such a huge advantage in the middle of a fight! And it wasn’t like Giles was suddenly superhuman. The only thing that made Giles different was his training, which, again, was something the group didn’t want to involve him in.
Xander snorted derisively, scowling at the pavement as his thoughts drifted back to tonight and the whole zombies/bombs/Sisterhood of Jhe thing. It had all started when he and the gang had gone to investigate a potential new threat; an all-female demon clan that apparently wanted to open the Hellmouth. The Scoobies had gone to stop them before they could do anything truly dangerous. During the fight in the cave, he had jumped between Buffy, who was looking in the other direction, and a demon, who had been trying to take advantage of the slayer’s distraction. Long story short, he killed the demon, but took a blow doing it, landing him flat on his ass.
Instead of thanking him for covering her back, Buffy had then lectured him about being safe, unveiling her latest catchphrase; ‘Fray Adjacent’. What really struck deep was that Willow, who was meant to be his best friend, jumped on the slayer bandwagon, as did the equally unremarkable Giles. Being the fairly laid-back guy that he was, he shrugged their comments off.
The following day was about as good as the one before, starting with a spectacularly bad game of football that earned him a run-in with Jack O'Toole, during which the jock had threated to cut up Xander’s face and kick his ass into a new shape. To add insult to injury, Cordelia had seen the whole thing and felt the burning need to showcase a fantastic display of Bitch. She viciously announced that he was, quote, ‘nothing compared to his friends’ end quote. He was the normal one, the comedic relief, ‘the Zeppo.’
After an afternoon’s thought, he came to the conclusion that if he wanted to stick around, then he needed something that the girls wouldn’t be able to dispute as being useful. After all, even if he didn’t have witchy powers or Oz’s wolfy mojo, he could still have something that the others could make use of besides his awesome donut fetching skills. So, in true Xander fashion, he swung by his Uncle Rory’s and borrowed the man’s car in exchange for working at the garage for a few weeks.
The next day, he pulled up to school in his Uncle’s 1957 Chevy Bel Air, announcing that he was ‘car guy, guy with a car.’ The girls were suitable stunned, though they still didn’t give him any details about the latest big bad. When he said that he wanted to help, he was once again sent off to fetch donuts where he once again ran into Cordelia. Never let it be said that Cordy wasn’t perceptive in her own, malicious way. She recognised what had happened and tore into him with her normal venom, with a healthy dose of vitriol, and taking what Xander could only consider an unholy glee in informing him that he was ‘expendable.’ The only thing that stopped him from sulking (though he’d never admit it to anyone), was the arrival of a beautiful blonde who, contrary to Cordy’s opinion did
care about his new car.
Though, now that he thought about it, he really wished she hadn’t.
By the time he rear-ended O’Toole’s car, he was almost at the point where he welcomed the prospect of being pummelled if it meant escaping the blonde’s vapid commentary about her Ex and her favourite cars. After she ran off, Jack had introduced him to Katie, a very large, very sharp, knife. It was only thanks to the timely arrival of a cop that saved him from a more intimate
introduction. Hoping to avoid a larger confrontation, Xander had lied to the cop, telling him that there was nothing wrong.
In hindsight, maybe getting stabbed would have been easier.
Needless to say, driving Jack and his three zombie friends, all of whom wanted to pick up girls, drink beer and ‘bake a cake,’ around was an experience he never wanted to repeat again. After an argument, a trip to a hardware store and a somewhat confusing meeting with Willow, Xander found himself once again meeting Katie. Apparently, Jack really did want a dead-man’s party.
After a fine display of manly running away, followed by some high-speed driving, he ended up running down a demon attacking Faith. The following hour was a blur of sweat and hormones, followed by confusion, and eventually, humiliation. Being thrown out in his boxers with only a “That was great. I gotta shower,” was a not-insignificant blow to his delicate male ego, and dredged up a whole lot of messy feelings that he was quick to lock away in the big box at the back of his mind labelled ‘Denial’.
Once he finished getting dressed in the parking lot – Can we say awkward
? – he had gotten a good look at Jack’s cake ingredients. Since he was pretty sure kerosene wasn’t used in the making of confection, he realised that the Zombie Squad was baking a very different kind of cake. His first thought was to get Buffy, but when he found her at Angel's, where the severely star-crossed lovers were crying, arguing and declaring their love for each other, he decided to deal with it himself.
After finding the guys and performing a bit of automotive interrogation, he made his way to the school with a gang of dead footballers hot on his ass – and wasn’t that
a brain-bleach-worthy image.
That was also when he realised what Willow had been babbling about earlier, and why Buffy and Angel were arguing. Once again, he had been kept out of the loop, and left to fend for himself while the girls starred in their own little action series, special guest starring Angel, the bloodsucking Prince of Brood, and Giles, the super-librarian. Fuelled by anger and a whole mess of resentment, Xander had gone down to the boiler room and played chicken with dead man and a bomb.
Xander couldn’t help but smile to himself when he thought of the way he had stared Jack down until the dead boy had disarmed the bomb. He had left the school a little later. His anger had cooled a little – after all, how could he really be angry when he knew that the girls only did it to keep him safe? – but he was still resentful of the way that they just decided
that it wasn’t safe for him, especially since he had stopped four zombies, saved a slayer and prevented a bombing all on his own. His smile faded and his scowl returned as he cut through the park lot of a convenience store.
“Not like they’ll care anyway,” he grumbled to himself, idly kicking a stray can across the pavement. “Even if I told them, they’d just tell me I was being reckless… that I should have told them.” He sneered and gave the can a vicious kick, sending it soaring through the air before crashing into the middle of the road. “After all, they’re the special one. Not me. Not plain, ordinary, human
Xander. God, I wish that I was the special one for once.” He paused in the middle of the parking lot and tipped his head back to yell up at the sky. “Is that really so much to ask?”
Xander stood there for a few moments, glaring up at the full moon, before sighing to himself. Letting his head fall back down and his shoulders slump, he snorted. “Of course it is.”
Head bowed, the teen resumed his walk home. +++
In a nearby alley, Halfrek, the Patron Demon of Lost Childhoods, watched one of her favourites walk away with a smile on her face. She had watched after Xander Harris for a long time, waiting for him to make the wish that would make it possible for her to give him what he really deserved. It had almost come too late since Xander was only a few months away from slipping beyond her jurisdiction as a Wish Granter, but he’d done it. He’d made a wish she could work with, one that filled all the requirements. Sure, it would have consequences, but in the end, Xander would be better for it. And really, what more could she want for one of her kids?
“Wish Granted,” she proclaimed, her face distorting into its demonic visage as her power flared and rushed to do her bidding; to change the destiny of one Alexander Lavelle Harris. +++ Just great!
Xander mentally snarled as he dived sideways to avoid the vampires charge. He rolled with the impact, coming shakily to his feet. Well, foot considering his left leg sort slid out from beneath him, but he counted it as a win since he wasn’t a smear on the pavement. What a perfect end to a perfect night!
He had just turned onto his street when the vampire came out of nowhere, completely blindsiding him. One second he was walking, the next, he was pinned against Mrs Pascal’s obnoxiously tall fence. It was only thanks to his excessive experience with being thrown around by people stronger than him that he instinctively brought his knee up, straight into the vamp’s groin. Some curse, threats and general violence later and they were still dancing around one another.
“I was just gonna eat you, but now I’m gonna rip your spine out through your ass and beat you with it!” the vampire roared as he wheeled around and lashed out with a kick that Xander narrowly avoided by tumbling away. Unfortunately, or at least in Xander’s humble opinion, the movement also teen was sent sprawling across the pavement. Before Xander could scramble to his feet, the vampire pounced on him, slamming all 180 lbs. of undead demon-infested corpse on his back. A hand wrapped tightly around his throat, preventing him from shouting, while sharp teeth scraped against the shell of his ear. “Time to die!”
The vampire pulled back slightly in preparation to sinks its teeth into Xander’s throat, giving the teen in question just enough time to process what was happening. He was about to die. A vampire had him pinned to the ground, and was about to rip his throat out. He would never see his friends again. No Willow. No Buffy. No Giles. No Oz. Not even Captain Forehead, Wes the Weasely Watcher or Faith the Slightly-Psychotic Slayer. The sound of his heartbeat pounded in his ears, drowning out everything else. No!
Something deep and wild roared in the back of his mind. Retreat is not an option, soldier!
Another snapped out. Never die!
The Primal snarled, slamming itself against the barriers penning it in. On your feet, soldier!
The SEAL ordered, fighting through the mist obscuring him. Fight!
The Primal bared its teeth, shattering the walls, flooding Xander with its wild energy. That’s an order!
The SEAL shouted, pulling free of the mist, his essence slotting into place.
The vampire’s teeth made contact with the skin of Xander’s neck and the teen snapped.
It started in his gut – a fluttering, falling feeling that moved out, up through his lungs and along his shoulders, down his arms. It also went down, over his hips and down his legs. His entire body began to shake and vibrate. And then he flew apart into a cloud of a million billion tiny pieces of Xander, each with their own perspective and view. The street was no longer just a stretch of pavement lined with rundown homes, but a pattern of energies grouped into specific shapes and uses. Even the vampire was only a collection of particles, slow and dense, pulsing with cold energy.
Had it only been Xander in control, he would have flowed around the Vampire-pattern, escaping its clutches, but it wasn’t just Xander in the driver’s seat any more. The part of him that was the Primal wanted blood, it wanted the death of the one that would dare challenge its position as Alpha, while the part of him that was the SEAL refused to leave an enemy behind. So Xander didn’t flow around the Vampire-pattern, he tore through it. The million billion pieces of Xander rushed up, ripping into the million billion pieces of Vampire which, lacking the cohesion, the connectivity of Xander, scattered. In half a second, the pieces of vampire that formed its heart were nothing more than constituent particles. Half a second more, and rest of the Vampire pattern fell apart, leaving only a writhing mass of very confused, very afraid Xander.
Before he could panic, he felt all the little pieces of himself abruptly rush back together and snap into their proper places with a heavy-duty thump of impact that didn’t come from any one direction, but from every direction at once. It stung like a bitch, and left him wanting to hurl, an urge that was only stalled by the three foot drop to the ground that ended in a face-plant worthy of comedy TV. Groaning, Xander pushed himself onto his side and curled into a foetal position, arms wrapped tightly around his stomach. His head pounded in time with his heartbeat, which was beating a staccato against the inside of his ribs, and darkness curled at the edges of his vision.
Xander’s last things to filter through his mind before he succumbed to unconsciousness was the feel of fur and the smell of gun oil.