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The One that Protects

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Summary: Xander dresses as Ichigo and acquires a zanpakuto. What would a sword made from his soul be like? How would it change the course of the series? Contains elements from Arthurian legend. Buffy timeline is moved forward a decade to match with current events.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > Bleach
Literature > Fantasy
(Recent Donor)ElSantoFR15524,816186019,13822 Jun 1213 Feb 13No

How many references can you spot?

Disclaimer: There's a lot of things in this that I don't own. Ruroini Kenshin, Inuyasha, Dragonball Z, Highlander, Breaveheart, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Bleach, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellsing, Bizarro from DC comics. There's really too many to count. Anything you see in here that comes from another property, does not belong to me.

Chapter 2 – How many references can you spot?

"I'm ready," said Xander as he stared at Tensa Zangetsu nervously.

"I know you are Xander. Remember that. I believe in you," he said firmly before he plunged his sword into Xander's chest.

Xander screamed as he was burned alive. The fire spread from the wound on his chest, burning away every atom of his existence. His legs were the first to be consumed. The flame traveled up his shoulder and arms until the fire burned his fingertips to flames burned their way up his throat and engulfed his head. And still he screamed.

Xander collapsed to the ground as Tensa Zangetsu pulled his blade from Xander's chest. Xander's chest heaved as the pain vanished. He finally opened his eyes, expecting to see his blackened and charred limbs in front of him. They were fine, unharmed.

"What did you do to me?"

"When Rukia gave Ichigo her Shinigami powers, she did it in the external world. And she did it, not her zanpakuto. We are in your inner world, Alexander. And I am not Ichigo. I am the embodiment of his power. I used our raw power to bolster your own. Something that can only be done in here."

"I felt like I was being burned away," said Xander as he struggled to his feet.

"There is something odd about this world. Or perhaps I should say this reality. It is difficult to express spiritual pressure here. Almost as if there is something blocking it," said Tensa Zangetsu with a frown. "In any case, you experienced a fraction of Ichigo's true power without that buffer in place."

"Whoa, that's his power?" asked Xander in awe. "My body's not disintegrating or anything like that, is it?"

"If there was not that force blunting our strength, you would have disintegrated the moment we manifested in your body, Alexander."

"I expect that would have killed everyone in Sunnydale too, huh?"

"No. They would not have even been able to sense our spiritual pressure unless we specifically brought it down to a level where it could affect the world around us."

"Like Aizen," whispered Xander.

"Exactly. Unfortunately, you would have been exposed directly to our spiritual energy because of whatever brought us here tonight. But that is not what matters. It is time to claim your own power Alexander. It is time to prove worthy of your sword."

"What sword? I don't have latent shinigami powers like Ichigo did!"

"Really?" said Tensa Zangetu with a cocked eyebrow as he pointedly glanced at Xander's left hip. Xander looked down then stilled in shock.

"Impossible," muttered Xander as he stared at the non-descript long sword on his hip.

"Interesting style," said Tensa Zangetsu as Xander drew the blade from its leather scabbard.

"But I'm not a shinigami," muttered Xander as he stared at the sword in his hands.

"Alexander, you dressed as a Shinigami tonight. You may have dressed up as Ichigo but you still dressed as someone with Shinigami powers. It was a simple matter to awaken them in your soul after that."

"So when you leave…"

"Yes, that change should remain. At least, that is my hope. Now, it is time for you to abandon your mask, Alexander." Xander stilled at Tensa Zangetsu's words. When he glanced at the spirit he saw Tensa Zangetsu smirking at him. "Did you believe I would not be able to see it? Ichigo has worn a mask since the death of his mother. Tonight was the first time someone has seen him without it. You are still wearing yours."

"I don't know what-"

"Perhaps you do not," said Tensa Zangetsu as he placed a hand on the nearest cracked tower. "You have been forced into a role, Alexander. And I think you know by whom."

"That doesn't, it isn't, whu-what, it's not-"

"It is time, Alexander, to grow past the blundering buffoon."

"And became what? King of the Cretins?"

Tensa Zangetsu glanced at the broken tower next to him. "Perhaps you are right."

"I know that isn't a real thing but- wait, what?"

"No more waiting," said Tensa Zangetu firmly as he blurred into motion and plunged his hand into Xander's chest.

"Okay, totally freaky! I think I should freak out, don't you? Yep, completely freaking out here!" babbled Xander as he stared at the hand that was inside his body.

"You are ready, Alexander. You can defeat it. I believe in you," Tensa Zangetsu assured him. Xander looked up to see Tensa Zangetsu giving him a small smile. Then he pulled. Xander screamed as he felt a part of himself be ripped away. It felt like his skin had been torn off all at once. Xander collapsed to his knees as he clutched at his chest. That hurt!

"Typical. What're you begging for now, Useless?" Xander stilled at the sound of his father's voice. He began to cringe reflexively when he remembered where he was. How could his father have gotten into his inner world? "You listening punk or did your brains finally dribble down your ears?"

Slowly he looked up, past the black boots and black jeans. Past the blood red shirt and black jacket that he clearly remembered hung in his closet. Past all of that to see his own face as it stared back at him. "What?"

"Surprise!" he yelled in his father's voice. Then he laughed. A high pitched warbling laugh. A hyena's laugh.

"The hyena," whispered Xander in horror.

"Of course, stupid! What did you think you really wanted all that power gone? Even you aren't a big enough idiot to throw away all those great powers. Super strength, super senses." The other Xander drew in a sharp breath through his nose. "God I can still remembered the way she smelled. If it wasn't for your worthless conscience we would be mounting her right now. But that's alright, because now I'll set things right."

"What do you mean, set things right! Who are you! And why do you sound like Tony!" Xander scrambled to his feet.

"You have got to be the dumbest S.O.B. I've ever even heard of," he said with a sneer. "I'm you, fool. Or at least what you would be if you weren't a spineless coward. And I sound like Tony because, honestly, who would want to sound like you? Tony has respect. And power. And you still don't get what this little tête-à-tête is really for?" He snorted before he grinned savagely, "I'm free now!" he cried as he spread his arms, "I'm no longer trapped in that dark corner you shove everything worthwhile in so you don't have to live with the realization that you're a complete and utter failure!" He laughed at the way Xander flinched away from him. "I'm free now and I'm going to put you into that deep dark corner. Then I'll be in charge!" he yelled with a slap to his chest. "And you can watch me be everything that you can't!"

"No way, Zangetsu is that tru-" Xander stilled as he realized that Tensa Zangetsu was nowhere to be seen.

"Sword boy disappeared the moment I showed up. He knew what the deal was. But he thought you could beat me. Hah! Now I'll get to run around with blondie and nerd-girl. I'll be sure to let you watch as I mount them again and again."

"Ragh!" Xander leapt at his darker half with a yell as he brought down his sword to split his dark side in two. Dark Xander smirked before he casually brought his own blade up to block Xander's attack. Xander stared wide-eyed at the other sword.

"What," began Dark Xander as his smirk grew into a sneer, "did you think I couldn't do anything you couldn't? That's pretty funny." Dark Xander drilled his foot into Xander's stomach. The attack blew Xander off his feet and sent him flying nearly 30 feet straight before gravity once again took hold.

Xander threw up. He began to wipe his mouth when he heard the squishy sound of footsteps rushing toward him. He spun to his feet in time to receive his counterpart's charge. Dark Xander's sword bounced off his own with a resounding clang that vibrated throughout his arm and shoulder. It was all he could do to keep his sword from being forced down from the strength of the blow.

He had barely recovered when the follow-up swing came. Xander gripped his sword with both hands and turned to block the sweep aimed at his left side. The blow made him brace himself against the soft ground. Xander cursed as he noticed that his opponent was only using one hand and was already brining the sword around to attack his other side. Xander turned to his right and braced himself. He was barely in time to block the attack.

"I didn't know you were this pathetic!" yelled Dark Xander with a laugh as he stepped back and cracked his neck. "No wonder blondie thinks of you as another one of the girls!"

Xander swung his sword at Dark Xander. Dark Xander parried the blade, pushing him along his swing further than he intended, before pushing his blade up and away from him, leaving him open to a slashing counter attack. Xander leaned back as far as he was able but he was still caught across the chest. The long gash burned as Xander stumbled back. It wasn't very deep but it was very distracting.

Laughter brought Xander's attention up as Dark Xander licked some of Xander's blood off his blade. "First blood goes to me and so will the last!" Xander braced himself as best he could as Dark Xander charged forward and brought his sword along the ground for an upward slash. Placing his sword in the way, Xander felt like a truck hit him as Dark Xander's slash pressed his sword back into his body. The follow through lifted Xander off his feet and threw him into the air.

Xander's mind boggled as he flew through the air from the force of the attack. He heard a yell and saw Dark Xander flying towards him! When did he learn to do that! Xander twisted as best he could and attacked first as Dark Xander came into range. Dark Xander, impossibly, changed directions in mid air and came around to his back. Xander twisted again and managed to block a thrust at his heart. The attack altered his trajectory even as it increased his momentum. Xander spotted movement out of the corner of his eye and stabbed behind himself blindly. His sword jarred as it struck true.

"Argh!" came Dark Xander's cry of pain. Dark Xander appeared in front of him and kicked downward. Xander saw that Dark Xander was cradling his shoulder for a brief second before all the air was knocked out of his lungs. Xander finally managed to draw breath a moment before he struck the ground, sending soggy sand flying everywhere. Xander struggled to catch his breath as he swayed onto his feet. He was bent over, his hands on his knees when he saw a shadow growing under him. Xander dove to the side as Dark Xander crashed into the ground, sending a wave of soggy sand flying away from the impact. Xander was borne along by the wave, tumbling as he tried to catch his footing on the moving terrain.

"How the hell is he doing this?" muttered Xander to himself. Was his dark half really that powerful? How was he going to beat him? Was he supposed to?

You can defeat it. I believe in you.

Xander remembered the words of Tensa Zangetsu as the wave finally lost all momentum and dropped him to the ground. He rolled along the ground until he skidded to a stop. He rose to his feet. His aching ribs protested as he gulped in large lungful breaths of air-

Do you think that's air you're breathing now?

His proud geek mind immediately connected the references and realized what was happening. What was he breathing? They weren't in the real world at the moment. This was all in his mind, or, er, his soul rather. He was acting like Neo when he first entered the computer construct. There was no air for him to gasp for! He wasn't even physically here, even if he felt it!

Time slowed down as Xander's brain, propelled by this revelation, shifted into a higher gear. He watched as Dark Xander launched himself up out of the crater his attack had created and paused at the apex of his jump. He spun toward Xander and jumped again, horizontally this time.

Do or do not. There is no try.

Do not think you are, know you are.

Don't believe in yourself! Believe in the me that believes in you!

You are not the man you used to be. You are stronger and wiser and freer than you ever used to be. And now you have come at the crossroads of the destiny. It's time for you to choose.

Never give up! Never surrender!

You are ready, Alexander. You can defeat it. I believe in you.

Xander's grip tightened on his sword. This was his sword, his! Forged from the strength of his soul! Xander stepped forward and disappeared.

Dark Xander stared at the spot Xander vanished from in shock. Movement from the corner of his eye caused him to bring his sword up and black Xander's attack. The slash blew him completely off course, sending him flying through the air.

"Impossible! You are a weakling!" he screamed as he watched Xander fly up to him.

"Screw that and screw you!" yelled Xander as he brought his sword down with all the force he could muster. Dark Xander was sent flying into the ground. The impact sent a huge dust cloud into the air, obscuring visibility in the area. Xander grinned as he floated in the air. This was awesome!

A wave of pressure accompanied by a roar pushed Xander back even as it cleared the dust in the air. An aura of dark crimson energy was flaring out from his counterpart. Xander dodged to the side on pure instinct. It was almost enough. A red flaming blur flew past him, taking his hand with it. Xander screamed as he clutched at his maimed arm. He flew away even as he stared at where his hand used to be.

This was a reality created by his consciousness, his sense of self. In here every thought he had became reality. In here he was The One, he was Q, he was Eternity, he was the Source. His severed hand vanished into nothingness even as a new hand grew from his wrist. He flexed his hand even as he heard a boom that signaled his opposite's continued pursuit. He looked at the sword in his hand for a moment.

He could do this! A bright golden aura flared into life around him. His perception of time stretched until he could perceive a grain of sand as it slowly fell to the earth. He looked up from the falling grain to see Dark Xander's charge continue toward him at a still blistering pace. Xander surged forward and met the attack head on. The energy from the two attacks colliding washed out over the landscape, flattening whatever meager vegetation there was and causing the nearby tower to crack and begin to slowly crumble.

Dark Xander straightened as he landed on the ground. He needed to locate the whelp. How could he have possible progressed so quickly? And where did he find the inner strength to challenge him?

"Hiten Mitsurugiryu Ryu Tsui Sen!" He rolled to the side as Xander's tremendous slash came down on where he used to be.

"Stealing moves from all the shows you've seen?" jeered Dark Xander, "well two can play at that game!" Dark Xander gripped the pommel of his sword with his left hand, stretching his right hand out to balance the tip of his blade. "Gatotsu: Ishiki!" He charged forward and thrust his sword forward. Xander leapt back, his enhanced abilities inadvertently carrying him forty feet further back than he intended.

He had to get this under control, although the extreme speed was totally great! Now he needed to land a solid hit on this guy. What attacks did he know that were almost impossible to defend against? "Hiten Mitsurugiryu Kuzu Ryu Sen!" yelled Xander as he charged forward, nine flashes of light following the path of his sword.

"Ashura!" Dark Xander's swords split into three, one in each hand and one in his mouth. His body then split again, each arm and his head splitting twice to resemble the traditional image of the Hindu Asura deities.

"That's cheating!" yelled Xander as he closed in. How the hell had his double split his sword into three?

"Makyusen!" Each attack was met by another, the nine swords of Dark Xander canceling out the nine simultaneous attacks of Xander. They were both blown back by the force of the collision.

"Tsubame Gaeshi!" Xander looked up only to see three simultaneous attacks coming at him. He didn't know how his opponent split his sword earlier and he didn't have enough time to prep another Kuzu Ryu Sen. He could, however, do this. Xander sheathed his sword before he stepped forward with his left foot.

Xander's near invisibly fast attack knocked both of Dark Xander's horizontal attacks aside. Xander continued his spin, pulling Dark Xander in with the vortex created by his speed. Dark Xander was forced to turn the final slash of his attack into a block against Xander's final attack. The force of Xander's blow sent him flying through the air with the speed of a bullet.

"Hiten-Mitsurugiryu Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki," whispered Xander to himself in awe. No wonder that was Kenshin's final technique. Xander considered his next move. What other technique had he seen someone else use? There were so many attacks that he wasn't sure which one to use. He had to make up his mind quickly though before his other self- "Raah!" He looked up to see his opposite charging at him. His sword was blurring in a strange manner. What was he- Xander recognized that attack!

"Quicksword!" yelled Xander. His perception of time slowed down until he no longer saw a blur of movement from his opponent's sword, but saw every small vibration the sword was making. He blocked one, two, three, six, eighteen, forty-seven attacks before Xander lost count. Xander sped up until he was finally able to make a lunge in between attacks.

Leaping back to create some space, Dark Xander thrust his hand forward. "Hadoken!"

Xander's brain froze for a moment as he watched the attack race toward him even as Dark Xander continued retreating. How the hell had his counterpart managed that? He grinned as an idea came to him. He swung his sword horizontally. "Sonic Boom!" A yellow arc of energy spun in a circle as it flew toward the other projectile. The attack cut the other in half and continued on its way.

"Big Bang Attack!" Dark Xander grinned as he used Vegeta's signature attack. Who knew that the brat's obsession with video games and anime would come in handy? He was stronger, with absolute certainty he knew was stronger. One of these attacks would overwhelm the weakling and then he would be in charge!

"Oh, now that's just cheating," grumbled Xander as the much larger ball of energy consumed his attack without even slowing down. Xander concentrated on an oft remembered image. This was one of Jessie's favorite attacks after all. His sword began to glow with a white light that drowned out his blade. "Engetsu!" His vertical swing created a rippling wave of energy that traveled up into the air as if it was the ground before it collided with Dark Xander's attack. There was a huge explosion as the two energy attacks cancelled each other out.

The world buzzed like static as a line of silver crossed over Dark Xander from his left hip to his right shoulder for the briefest of moments.

Both fighters were panting with the exertions of their recent attacks. Xander wondered what the hell was going to happen next. Obviously in here they could use almost any attack they could imagine. And with all the video games and anime and comics and cartoons Xander had watched, their imagination was already filled to overflowing with attack ideas. Should he use Samurai Jack's tremendous Horse Cut technique? That cool countermove from the last Highlander movie? Hmm, that could be a possibility with the guaranteed head cut and all. Xander was drawn out of his musings as Dark Xander charged at him.

They traded blows furiously as they both raced across the landscape. Xander nearly missed being decapitated and took a cut to his cheek instead. A quick thrust cut Dark Xander across the left bicep. A mistimed jump nearly cost Xander his foot and Dark Xander almost lost his head to Xander's slash.

Dark Xander blurred into motion around Xander in a classic speedster attack. Xander responded with an Incredible Hulk classic by smashing the ground, causing a small earthquake that threw Dark Xander off his feet. Xander charged after his opponent as he fell. Dark Xander recovered in midair and blocked Xander's slash. Their swords locked together as they pushed against each other. Xander's aura flared wildly as he began pushing his opponent back. Dark Xander's aura flared as he put more energy into his own push. Their auras grew again and then again as they each pushed as much energy against the other. Their swords slipped from their lock and they each went charging forward, past each other. They slowed their momentum and turned. They were almost a mile apart.

Range attack, what's a good range attack? though Xander furiously. Perhaps he could use a Kamehameha? "Wind Scar!" Inuyasha? They only watched that because Willow had insisted on it. Still, it did have a few cool moves. Xander concentrated as the energy raced toward him. He had to time this perfectly so he could- now!

"Backlash wave!" Xander's slashed resulted in a typhoon that drew in the energy of the other Xander's attack. Redoubled in strength the attack raced back toward Dark Xander. For a moment Xander wondered what would happen if his double used the backlash wave himself.

"Meido Zangetsuha!" Well that answers that, thought Xander as he watched the tears in space race toward him. Now how the hell was he supposed to counter something that tore holes in time and space? Wait, what did time and space mean in this place? Xander put that question to the back of his mind as another idea occurred to him. He raised his sword until the cross guard rested against his forehead. His sword burst into a crackling blaze of yellow energy. He swung the sword out until it pointed straight at Dark Xander.

"Special Sword Beam Cannon!" It wasn't a Kamehameha but the piercing power should work properly. Xander grinned as the attack absorbed or outright shattered Dark Xander's attack. Dragonball was way better than Inuyasha!

Dark Xander screamed as he raised his sword. He exploded in green swirling energy that coalesced on his upraised sword. Suddenly the energy bulged as his blade expanded into the shape of a large drill. "GIGA!" He pointed large drill at Xander as he balanced the unwieldy weapon with his other hand. He pulled his hand away as he yelled "DRILL!" and the drill began to spin unbelievably fast. His aura flared blue as he launched forward, picking up speed with every moment. "BREAKER!"

Xander stared in absolute disbelief as the drill attack dispersed his Special Sword Beam Cannon and raced toward him. How the hell was he supposed to top that!

With a man's soul and a strong back, go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb!

What did time and space mean in a place that existed only because of his soul?

Even if armed with hundreds of weapons... there are times when you just can't beat a man with a spear of conviction in his gut.

All this existed because he existed. But everything that had happened here he had made happen with his will.

You believe that the strong exist to cull the weak. To use them as food. But you are mistaken. The strong exist, not to feed off of the weak, but to protect them!

How strong was his will? How strong was his conviction? How strong was his determination?

A true man doesn't die even if he's killed!

What would it mean to lose here? What would happen to the others? To Willow? To Buffy? To Giles?

Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.

Could he really exceed even himself? Could he truly move past everything his life had thrown at him? Could he really become more than he was now?

My whole life, I struggled to gain my father's love and acceptance. But once I had it, I realized I lost myself getting there. I'd forgotten who I was.

How can he be the one if he's dead?

You have no chance! No chance!

No! He wouldn't give up! He would never surrender!

Evil can only exist when good men do nothing.

Never. I'll never turn to the Dark Side. You've failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

The enemy is one, you are one. What is there to fear? Cast off your fear. Look forward! Go forward! Never stand still. Retreat and you will age. Hesitate and you will die.

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.

Lo there do I see my father. Lo there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers. Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live, forever.

Everything that has a beginning has an end. I see the end coming. I see the darkness spreading. I see death... and you are all that stands in his way.

Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!

Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!

Even when trapped by karma's cycle, the dreams we left behind will open the door! Even if the Universe stands in our way, our seething blood will determine what will be! We will break through Time and Space! And defy all who would stop us to grab hold of our path! Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann! Just who the hell do you think we are!

The world buzzed like static for a brief moment as Xander stepped forward. When it stopped buzzing he was once again standing in place, his sword held casually by his side.

Dark Xander continued to rush forward, his attack only gaining in speed and intensity until the roar of his drill deafened all hearing, until the blaze of his aura blinded all sight, until the force of his burning spirit numbed all touch. Then the attack faded away to nothing as Xander's despair fell to the ground, nearly cut in half from his left hip to his right shoulder.

He could hear him gurgling and coughing wetly as he walked over to the fallen form of all his self-doubt and fears and hopelessness. The other Xander looked up at him in shock. "What?" he gurgled, "What happened?"

"I am Alexander Harris. I choose to become more than what I am."

"Im-" he coughed for a few moments, "impossible!"

"Yes, it is. So I went beyond the impossible. And now I am free." Xander brought his sword down. The form of his fallen foe burst like glass before fading away. Xander closed his eyes and breathed a sigh in relief. Suddenly he was beset by shaking on all sides. It felt like the world was closing in on him and he was being crushed into nothingness. As soon as it began it was gone. Xander fell to his knees as he struggled to catch his breath. Startled by something tickling his hands he opened his eyes. There was grass! Xander looked up and saw that there was grass as far as the eye could see. There were mountains in the distance capped by snow. There was a forest to his right, past a large lake. Turning he saw that there were no more broken towers strewn in the landscape. There was only one tower made of white gleaming stone that rose proudly into the clouds. The sun was setting and a few fluffy clouds floated lazily in the sky.

"I like this place," said Tensa Zangetsu from behind Xander. Xander turned to regard him.

"Could he have really killed me?"

"Yes."

"Would you have let that happen?"

"Yes, I would have."

"What! Why?"

"You needed to prove yourself worthy of the power we are giving you. If you lost here, you would have forever been at the mercy of your self-doubt and despair. You could never have broken free."

"I thought I was going to lose."

"For a moment you were. But you found the strength to believe in yourself."

"It wasn't easy."

"I saw, but I am still unsure," said Tensa Zangetsu slowly as he looked down in thought. He gazed at Xander intently for a moment. "How did you beat him?"

"I combined the Doc Brown method with Superman Two and used a little Kamina for my last attack."

Tensa Zangetsu stared at him blankly.

"Uh, okay, uh, I hit him with an attack so fast it struck him in the past. It looks like the attack was so fast his body didn't even react to it until I'd finished the attack in the present time."

The zanpakuto stared at Xander agape. "You, you moved so fast your attack traveled in time?"

"Pretty much."

"You do realize that all these attacks and techniques you use didn't actually occur?"

"Uh, yeah, I figured it was just the way my mind was interpreting our battle of wills."

"Oh. Good. When you finally meet your zanpakuto here you will be limited to the techniques you have learned from it."

"I thought it was something like that. What about," Xander waved at were Dark Xander's corpse had lain, "that thing?"

"It will trouble you no more. However, you must still guard your heart. You can feel all new despair. But it will no longer be as deep as before."

Hey guys, are you two almost done in there? You've been making me feel weird all night!

"We are finished Ichigo."

"Hey, what's been going on?"

Ah, we got to Buffy's house. Ran into that Angel guy. I almost cut his head off, by the way.

"Almost? You don't think you could finish the job?"

Willow asked me not to.

"Curses!"

"Have you found a way to return us home?" asked Tensa Zangetsu as he ignored Xander's tantrum.

Uh, yeah, we ran into Cordelia, I saved everyone from this stupid vampire. And a Sith. And I'm pretty sure that was Miyamoto Musashi earlier.

"Whoa, did you beat him too?" asked Xander.

Yeah. It was kind of disappointing. Anyway we found Giles and figured out that this guy, Ethan, is where all of this originated from. It's only the people that got their costumes from there that changed. Giles and Willow went there to stop the spell. Did you know Giles knows this Ethan guy?

"Ethan?" asked Xander.

Yeah, Ethan Rayne. He's a chaos sorcerer, whatever that means. Giles knew him when they were younger.

"Why aren't you with them?"

Uh, we were attacked by Alucard on the way there.

"Hellsing or Castlevania?"

Hellsing.

"I'm assuming you won?"

Yeah, but it wasn't easy. Especially since I was only trying to knock him out and not kill him. Uh, Buffy, uh, she ran off while I was fighting him.

"What! You have to find her!"

Angel and I are trying to track her down .Don't worry. I swore to protect her- oh, there she is!

The window to the outside world opened once more. They watched as Ichigo backhanded a pirate and knocked him out.

"Hey, that was Larry!"

Who's Larry? It felt really good to knock him out. Kinda like Keigo, except I wanted to hurt this guy more.

"He's a bully and a jerk." A memory played in their minds of Larry bullying Xander earlier in the day.

Okay.

They watched Ichigo kick Larry again for good measure.

Prick.

(]ooo((=============>

Ichigo scowled. While this was a very common circumstance the twitch in his eye was not. They were being forced to run from a blonde vampire that Xander told him was called Spike. While Ichigo would have had no problem facing off against the vampire, even with his current stunted abilities, Spike was very effectively and very wisely using people turned into their costumes as a shield.

"Me am your friend! No beat you until you live!" There was also the deranged Superman clone to contend with.

Hey, Xander! How the hell do I beat this guy?

Uh, you beat him, literally, I think. We don't have any blue kryptonite handy, either.

Superman's powers?

Yeah, except he'll have freeze vision, flame breath, and vacuum breath. He's not smart but he'll be superfast and superstrong.

Elizabeth and Angel ran into the nearby warehouse, barricading the door as best they could. Ichigo planted himself in front of the door, forcing the other demons to wait out his confrontation with Bizarro. Bizarro himself charged at him at supersonic speeds. Ichigo blocked the attack with his sword and had to use his reiatsu to keep himself in place.

You weren't kidding about the speed and strength!

Can you cut him?

Of course we can. Ichigo, let us finish this in one blow!

Let's go, Tensa Zangetsu!

One Bizarro's next pass, Ichigo dodged to the side and brought his sword down with a yell. A large gash opened up in Bizarro's side as blue blood sprayed from the wound.

"Argh! You no hurt Bizarro! You am good friend! Bizarro no make you bleed!"Bizarro took a breath before expelling a huge gout of flame.

"Getsuga Tensho!" The blast of black energy overtook Bizarro's attack and sent the twisted copy of Superman flying off into the distance. Ichigo smirked for a moment as he watched Bizarro be carried away. His smile was wiped from his face when a goblin jumped and his head and tried to scratch at his eyes. "Oi! Watashi kara anata sukoshi oni o oriru!" Something bit at his ankle and Ichigo stumbled to the side before grabbing the goblin off of his shoulders and slamming it into the dog thing that bit his leg.

The sound of rushing air filled Ichigo's ears as he felt pain against his stomach. Something had tackled him and was carrying him up into the air. "Bizarro no am number one!" Well crap. Ichigo turned his sword in his hand in order to stab it into Bizarro when Bizarro's eyes began to glow blue.

Ice vision! Block his eyes!

Ichigo covered Bizarro's eyes with his left hand. His hand felt colder than it ever had, even during the harshest winters in Karakura. Ice began to form over his hand. Ichigo flared his reiatsu, but it only slowed the progress of the growing ice.

Finish him Ichigo! Stab me down!

Ichigo plunged his sword into Bizarro's back. Immediately Bizarro stopped flying as it arched its back in pain. The stop was so abrupt Ichigo nearly dislocated his shoulder holding onto his sword. This only served to carve Tensa Zangetsu further up Bizarro's body. Ichigo floated up above Bizarro and pulled out his sword. Bizarro plunged down into the earth.

I hope he's still alive when he changes back.

Don't worry, I'm sure he'll be fine, I think.

Agreed. His fate is not in our hands any longer. However, we must return to Buffy.

Right.

Ichigo turned and burst into motion, quickly landing back in front of the warehouse Elizabeth and Angel ran into. Luckily, Bizarro had shot away in a straight line. Unluckily, they had gone far enough away that when Ichigo returned, Spike was mere moments away from draining Elizabeth. He charged without thinking and brought Tensa Zangetsu down on Spike's head.

The plastic sword he was once again wielding shattered against Spike's head.

"Ow! I bloody well told you to restrain the poof!" he screamed only to discover that it wasn't Angel he was facing off against but the samurai. Only the samurai was now staring at his broken sword in confusion. Spike looked around at his new minions and saw that they were all children once again. "Oh, hell!" he muttered to himself as he slowly turned around. Buffy straightened from her cowering position and pulled the wig off her head.

"Honey, I'm home!"
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