The Shapeshifting Demon
ETA: Header blockGenre
: Dramady, YAHF.Word Count
: Buffy Season 2, “Halloween.” Doctor Who: Series 2x09/10 (“The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit”). Series 5 just after ep08/09 (“The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood”). Torchwood, general first season. Disclaimer
: I do not own Scooby, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood, Doctor Who, or David Tennant, though I’d very much like to own David Tennant. I am not profiting financially from this bit of silliness. Author’s Note
: Alright, I’ve been asked some questions, and some things have been pointed out (nicely, mind). I’m going to address some of the more common things here instead of in the fiction, because that will add a whole lot of extraneous information that the characters don’t need to know. But I have no problem answering them for you all.
1. Regarding River Song
: She says “hello, darling” instead of “hello, sweetie” because, while Xander became a Time Lord by way of being possessed by Ten, he’s not
her Doctor (Ten or Eleven). But this iteration of River has
met an older Xander, and knows a little about him. Enough for him to have his own pet name.
2. Regarding the date
: It’s been pointed out that November 1, 1997 was a Saturday, not a Monday as is in my fic. All I can say is, oops
! Blame it on the timey-wimey stuff.
3. Regarding Multi-crossover
: I’m planning on some. We’ll see how far it goes.
4. Regarding the Xanderbeacon
: Yes, technically speaking, more incarnations of the Doctor should have picked it up or answered it. HOWEVER, logically speaking, One through Seven would expect their superiors to answer it, Eight was a bit busy destroying the Daleks and creating the time lock, and Nine was short-lived and busy trying to get over his own personal horrors. Ten and Eleven would, therefore, be the only Doctors in positions to answer the beacon. And we established last chapter why Eleven wouldn’t.
oOoOoOoSunnydale High School Library
Willow didn’t like thinking bad thoughts about any of her friends, especially Xander. He’d been her friend, her only friend, her best friend, since kindergarten when a miniature Cordelia and her gaggle of airheads decided to make her life less fun. They had been the outcast kids together, banded against the evils of Cordy and the Cordettes. Jesse had come later – second grade, she thought – but right from the start, it had been her and Xander, against the rest of the world.
She knew Xander fairly well as a result. She knew his moods, his expressions, his behaviors. And right now, something was definitely wrong.
She only half-listened to Buffy raving about how thrilled she was to see Ford again, how she couldn’t believe he was here in Sunnydale. She was trying to puzzle out exactly what was off with Xander. It wasn’t the clothes, it wasn’t the words or the tone or the way he held himself. It wasn’t even the pile of shopping bags hanging from each wrist.
It was the hearts comment. Hearts. Plural.
After returning to the school, Willow had skipped lunch and her first class of the afternoon. She was worried enough that she had felt only a mild pang of unease at missing another class, one quickly shoved away and ignored. She spent two hours combing through Demons, Demons, Demons
and Compendium of the Fallen Races
, looking for shapeshifting demons with multiple hearts. It was ridiculous. She just didn’t know what else to do.
There were a surprising number of multi-hearted demons with illusory powers, psychic abilities, or shapeshifting. Since Willow didn’t know what else to do, she was narrowing them down one by one. D’mor’ak demon. Two hearts, on in its chest, the other in its… oh.
Willow’s eyes widened at the fairly graphic sketch of the demon’s physiology. With a slight flush, she flipped the page. Nope. Definitely not. Barstromani demon? Oh. No lumpy back. Not Doppelxander.
Galifragos demon? Hm, there was a possibility. Looked human, two hearts, could change their face. Willow read a bit further and then shook her head. Oh. Only at death could they shapeshift to be reborn, with little control over their form. Not Xander then.
She flipped page after page, growing more and more frustrated as she eliminated the different species who qualified for her private theory. When she reached the end of the book with no solid lead, she slapped the book closed with a growl. Only then did she realize that Buffy had fallen silent and was staring at her curiously.
“Willow?” Buffy said. “Is everything alright?”
“I think Xander’s been possessed, or-or replaced!” Willow shrank back in her chair, clapping her hands over her mouth. She hadn’t wanted to say it, but it had just come out. She wished she could take it back, rewind time, but it was a little late for that.
Buffy narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean?”
Willow agonized for a moment, squeezing her eyes shut. What if it was Xander, and he was being possessed again, like with the hyena? What if he really had been replaced, as a way for the demonic population to get closer to the Slayer? What if… what if Halloween hadn’t gone away? Willow dismissed that thought almost as soon as she had it. The spell had been broken, for everyone. Xander included.
Buffy was still waiting, tapping her fingernails on the table. Willow sighed. “Okay, don’t freak out,” she said. “It’s probably nothing, but…”oOoOoOo
Xander’s first impression anything was wrong was the look on Willow’s face when he entered the library. It took him a moment to notice, as he was still riding high on his success with the beacon. Willow’s guilty face stopped him dead, and he got the nagging feeling that he was about to be conked on the head.
“Hi Will,” he said carefully. The hair on the back of his neck rose. “Buffy’s behind me with a lead pipe, isn’t she?”
The frightened flick of her eyes to something over his shoulder confirmed it.
He turned around, tried for a casual smile and a wave. Buffy stood there, her head tilted to the side. He’d seen her do this before when she was concentrating really hard on hearing something. He wondered what she was listening for, then his eyes went wide. Oh crap!
Three had been a fighting man, and Ten certainly had his moments. But Xander had inherited his glass jaw.
Buffy’s right hook took him out.oOoOoOo
Buffy and Willow stood side by side at the book case, looking down at the unconscious Xander locked inside. Willow wringed her hands over and over again, fidgeting from foot to foot. She glanced between Buffy, standing with her arms crossed and a stubborn expression on her face, and whoever was pretending to be Xander, still looking exactly the same.
“Buffy,” she said. “Maybe I’m wrong?”
Buffy shook her head, ponytail bouncing. “He has two hearts, Willow,” she said. “I could hear them. Ba-da-da-boom. Really weird rhythm. It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before.”
Whatever hopes Willow had that Xander was actually Xander shriveled and disappeared in the wake of Buffy’s report. “Oh,” she said, eyes downcast.
“Hey.” Buffy put a hand on her shoulder. Willow glanced up. Buffy’s eyes were rock-hard determination. “We’ll get Xander back. Cross my heart.”
Willow always felt better when Buffy promised things in that particular tone. Buffy had done the impossible more than once, fought things way stronger and beaten them easily. If she said she could get Xander back, she would. “So what now?” she asked, glancing back at the demon in her friend’s body.
“Now?” Buffy blew out a breath that made her bangs float for a second. “Now, I have to go meet up with Ford before he gets all interested in why I spend so much time in the library, which was so
not me in Hemery. And you
go find Giles and see if he can get a handle on what we’re dealing with.” Buffy smiled to soften the blow. “I’m not knocking your research skills, Will, but Giles is kinda the go-to guy for all the weird and demony in town.”
“Yeah, o-okay. I’ll do that.” Willow hesitated. “What are you going to tell Ford? A-about the Slaying and stuff. I mean, if he’s an old friend, you’ll want him on the team. Right?”
Buffy smiled as she shook her head. “I dunno yet,” she admitted. “It’s nice to see an old friend, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to handle it. I mean, Hemery was weird enough, with the gym-burning and all. Yeah, he was one of the only people to speak to me after everything went down, but I don’t think he’s ready to know about night-bumpy things. The farther he stays away from vampires and demons, the better off he’ll be.”oOoOoOo
Xander came to in a sudden jolt. One minute, he was out cold, off in la-la land. The next minute, he was sitting up and rubbing his jaw. “Ow,” he muttered, feeling along his jawline with tentative fingers. Nothing felt broken, but he was going to have one massive bruise before the day was out.
He paused. Or was he? He seemed to remember the Doctor getting bashed around quite a bit. Angry fists, stray pipes, misplaced light poles, that sort of thing. But he didn’t recall any sort of injury that took him out for more than a few minutes. Whatever didn’t kill a Time Lord seemed to heal very quickly. And whatever did
kill a Time Lord merely triggered a regeneration cycle.
Xander didn’t know if he even got a regeneration cycle, so he wasn’t eager to test that out.
Cautious of any other injuries he might have and not yet know about, he stood up. Fingers, toes, Adam’s apple. Everything important seemed to be intact. “Still alive,” he said to himself. “Chalk that up in the win column.”
He glanced around, not even slightly surprised to find himself locked in the book cage of the library. What did surprise him was the fact that no one was guarding him or, for that matter, even in sight. On a hunch, he checked his pockets and found his sonic screwdriver right where he’d left it, along with three paper clips, a bit of string, and his flip wallet.
When he got out of here, and everything was explained, he was going to have a serious chat with Buffy about rifling through people’s belongings before locking them up.
He debated the merits of breaking out now, but really, what else did he have to do? Right now, Buffy probably thought he was some sort of demon who’d eaten her friend and replaced him, and she’d want answers. If he broke out of the book cage, she’d only be more irritated and less likely to listen to him when she tracked him down. And he knew she would
track him down. It was hard to get away from people without a driver’s license. Or a TARDIS.
Man, he really missed the TARDIS.
So, despite being very capable of releasing himself from captivity, Xander decided his best option was to just sit down and wait. Sooner or later, someone would come looking for answers. To pass the time, he ran a finger over the spines of the books on the shelf behind him, selected a weighty, meaty tome, and cracked it open.oOoOoOo
Willow roamed the halls of the school, looking for Giles and avoiding teachers whose classes she’d skipped that day. She ducked into an empty classroom to hide from her French teacher, coming down the hall the opposite way. Thankfully, she was engrossed in her day planner, and didn’t see Willow.
Willow rested her head against the wall and blew out a breath. She wasn’t made for all this covert, clandestine stuff. She was no good at breaking rules and hiding from people and keeping secrets. No, wait. That wasn’t true. She kept Buffy’s secrets and she broke all sorts of rules to help Buffy out, and she was really good at hiding from vampires and other monsters, but… Teachers! She wasn’t any good at hiding from teachers and breaking school rules. Only… Only she was pretty sure that a few of the teachers were evil, and she’d hidden from Giles in the stacks once or twice and he was like a teacher, and she was pretty sure that weapons were against school rules, as was using the school internet connection outside of class or study hall were all prohibited, and…
She needed to stop thinking that line of thought before she confused herself any further.
She peeked around the doorjamb to see if her teacher had disappeared. She had, and joy of joys, there was Giles! Sure, he was talking to Ms. Calendar and seemed animatedly involved in the conversation. Willow didn’t like interrupting people in conversations, but Xander was important, wasn’t he?
Squaring her shoulders, Willow pushed away from the wall and left the room, then hurried to catch up with them. “Giles!” she called.
The Watcher turned around, the amusement dissipating from his face. “Willow. What is it? What’s wrong?”
She slowed to a stop. “Giles, it’s Xander. He’s in the library. You should come quickly.”
“Good lord. I’ll be right there.” He turned back to Ms. Calendar and Willow couldn’t see his face or hear what he said, but the computer teacher just nodded.
“I’ll see you later, Rupert,” she said.oOoOoOo
Engrossed in his reading – my my
, female Tessera demons were saucy wenches – Xander almost missed the swirl of gold spreading throughout the room. It tugged persistently at his senses though, until his head jerked up.
“What?” he said reflexively, then leaned forward to peer at the eddies and currents. He studied them for a long few moments, trying to puzzle out what was so important about now
that the time vortex leaked through.
It did that from time to time, he knew. It was part of how Time Lords could know the future, how they could tell fluid events from fixed points. He wasn’t sure why; as studied as the vortex was, the surface of understanding had barely been scratched, even by the Time Lords before their unfortunate encounter with the Moment. But he was in a book cage and, as far as he knew, there wasn’t even a Big Bad on the radar. How important could this honestly be?
Hazy images ghosted through the room, temporal wraiths that laid out the general shape of things to come. He saw a dead woman burn in the light of regeneration and, though he craned and squinted with great interest, he couldn’t make out her face. He saw Angel with a devil’s smile, and a portal to a very bad place opening unchallenged. He saw Willow and Giles and Ms. Calendar and Cordelia, and that orange-haired guitarist, only the guitarist was overlaid with fur and fangs and then, clear as day, he saw Buffy in a bomb shelter with betrayal bright in her eyes as she looked at a dark-haired guy he’d never seen before. Then the wraiths faded, leaving him with only the nagging feeling of needing to be somewhere, and a slight headache.
“Ow,” he said, rubbing his temples. “Alright. I’m going. Sheesh.”
He put the book back on the shelf, lining it up neatly with the others in the row, and moved to the cage door. A quick buzz of the sonic sprang the lock, and he was free.oOoOoOo
Willow stared in shock at the empty book cage, took a couple of paces in and slowly spun in place. “I don’t understand,” she said. “It was right here!”
Giles rested a hand on the wire mesh. “What was here?”
“Xander! Or-or the thing pretending to be Xander! It escaped!”
Giles’ eyebrow arched into his hairline. “There was a thing pretending to be Xander?”
Willow looked at him; there was something in his tone that made her want to shrink, like she’d just failed a test and had to face the teacher the next day. It all spilled out, the slightly-off behavior, the electronic equipment, the clothes, and the two hearts Buffy had heard. She finished up with, “We think Xander was replaced by a shapeshifter. We knocked him out and locked him up, then I came to find you.”
Giles turned away, removing his glasses. This was not at all how Willow thought it would go. She thought Giles would be more concerned about Xander’s welfare. She thought he’d tell her to break out the books, or check Xander’s house, or ask where Buffy was.
“Giles?” she said hesitantly, and left the book cage. “Giles, what is it?”
The librarian’s shoulders started to shake.
Giles roared with laughter. “… A shapeshifting demon,” he wheezed, tears streaming down his face. “And you… knocked him over the head and put him in the book cage…”
Willow didn’t see what was so funny, but she was beginning to think she had missed something.oOoOoOo
: This chapter originally dealt with Ford, Eyghon and the meeting between the Doctor and Xander (and Rose and Buffy and everyone else), but it sort of got away from me, so I cut it in two. I will hopefully have the second half posted either later this evening or sometime tomorrow.