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Jack Of All Trades, Taskmaster Of Every One

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Summary: Xander finds out that there are some aftereffects of Coach Marin's efforts to get a championship team that no one could reasonably have expected.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > AvengersGreywizardFR15514,3221216454,66530 Aug 1229 Apr 13No

Chapter Three

S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
Undisclosed location

May 13, 1998


"Colonel? I've just received additional news about the Gorscht's Übermensch formula situation we're currently investigating in Sunnydale, California," Sitwell announced as he approached the greying, one-eyed man. Nick Fury, for his part, just kept scowling at the report he was reading on the monitor situated on the corner of his paper-covered desk.

"Why am I thinking that this isn't gonna be good news, Sitwell?" Fury growled as he looked up from the latest report on the situation currently developing in Latveria.

"Could be the Eternity Formula is starting to make you psychic, sir."

"Just get on with it," Fury tried but failed to conceal a smirk, as his subordinate reminded him of the old days with Professor Berthold Sternberg. { Back then, things certainly seemed to make a lot more sense than they do now... }

"We currently have three teams investigating Carl Marin's background, sir, and from the information they've gathered so far, it looks as though he was inoculating the members of the local high school swim team with a rather odd derivative of Gorscht's formula," the blond, crew-cut agent informed Fury.

"Jesus! What in the Sam Hill was that idiot thinking, dosing kids with that stuff?" Fury immediately exploded, upon hearing that particular tidbit of information.

"The most likely theory is that he was attempting to drastically improve the performance of the swim team members, so that one or more them would eventually be selected for the upcoming Olympic Games in Sydney; and that he'd accompany them as their coach, sir," Sitwell answered. "Marin could have then leveraged the publicity as a internationally renowned swimming coach to amass a large personal fortune, both in terms of employment and endorsements.

"We also believe that he was planning on eventually making his variation of the Übermensch formula available to what he anticipated would be a large following of devoted fans," he elaborated.

"As it happens, several people associated with the Sunnydale High School swim team have disappeared over the course of the past two weeks, sir," Sitwell continued his briefing. "Four varsity members of the swim team – Dodd McAlvy, Sean Dwier, Gage Petronzi, and Cameron Walker – as well as the school nurse, one Ruth Greenleigh, have all dropped out of sight shortly after meeting with Mr. Marin, at some point or other.

"Our field teams are currently documenting everything they can, to determine what similarities there are in the disappearances, in the expectation that it might provide some indications as to where these people might have gone, or what might have happened to them," the agent informed his boss.

"Once we've determined what the actual situation is, we'll have a better idea of what's been going on in Sunnydale, and how best to proceed," Sitwell summarized the current situation as they understood it, and what S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing in response.

"Fine. Now, what about that bozo who started this whole mess?" Fury demanded.

"Nothing new to report since last time, Colonel. Other than our Psychology Branch concluding that Marin was clearly delusional, self-centered and incredibly narcissistic," the younger agent added. "Still, the Biomedical Division people said that he achieved some amazing results, especially given the primitive equipment he was forced to work with. If Marin had had access to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s resources..."

"Then we'd all be up shit creek without a paddle! I don't care if they think Marin was another Albert Einstein," Fury growled as he focused his attention on Sitwell.

"I want this asshole found, and I want him put away so that he can't ever use any other kids as test subjects for his damned experiments!" the cyclopean Director snapped. "And I also want anyone who might have been exposed to this stuff he developed checked out by our own lab people, before we close the file on this incident. I don't want to find out a few years from now that it's got some nasty side-effects that are gonna cause us a whole passel of trouble that we could've prevented, if we just took the time to check the situation out completely before the crap hit the fan.

"You understand me, kid?"

"Perfectly, sir," the younger man calmly nodded his comprehension.

"Good," Fury nodded, before turning his attention back to the monitor on his desk.

Glancing up a moment later, he practically snarled, "So, what're you doing, standing here and wasting my time, kid?

"Get going, and the next time I see you, you'd better be telling me that this problem's solved!"

~/~/~

Sunnydale High School gymnasium

May 13, 1998
Late afternoon


Having decided to kill some time until he was supposed to meet Buffy and Willow in the library, Xander was sitting quietly in the upper sections of the bleachers and watching several of the basketball players practice.

He had been quietly contemplating the fact that he'd felt a mental 'click' while watching Percy West and several of his jocks – the same sort of ‘click' he'd felt the previous day while watching Buffy and Giles practicing their sword katas, and later, while watching Buffy practicing her hand to hand moves against the training dummy – when his thoughts were rudely interrupted by a gaggle of sneers and insults.

"Oh, look, it's Loser Harris," Harmony Kendall loudly declared as she led her fellow cheerleaders back into the gym and took advantage of what she thought would be another opportunity to put down someone she perceived as a social inferior.

"What are you doing here, you dork?" the blondes demanded. "Sitting here and watching the basketball team practice, and realizing just how much of a real man you'll never be?" she gibed at him.

"Oh, hi, Harm. I didn't notice you and your friends come in," Xander announced loudly as he gave the blonde cheerleader a wide, clearly artificial smile as he looked over at the group. "I thought that shrill, brainless chattering I was hearing was just the rats over in the Bio lab.

"And as far as your question about me being here goes, the answer is, no, 'cause I'm just chilling out and relaxing a little; since I knew that nothing important ever happens around here," he added dismissively, in response to Harmony's gibe.

Seeing Percy West and two of his arrogant fellow assholes heading towards the girls, and theorizing that the feeling he'd just experienced while watching the jocks practice was an indication of the same effect which had happened the previous night while he was watching Buffy and Giles, Xander made a point of announcing, as he got up from his spot on the bleachers, "And I'm secure enough with knowing who I am, that I'm really not all that interested in any homo-erotic displays of so-called manliness."

"You just wish you were only one-tenth as good as any of us, Harris," Percy announced as he, Blaine Mall and Hogan Martin walked up to join the cheerleaders. "Everyone knows you're worthless, just like the rest of your family," he sneered.

"Do they now? Well, just how difficult could this crap be if *you're* one of the star players, huh, Perce?" Xander returned the jock's sneer with one of his own. "Give me the ball, and I'll show you exactly how worthless I am.

"Twenty-five bucks says I can make the same corner shot you just did a couple minutes ago," Xander went on, challenging the school's star point guard to a contest that he knew the other teen wouldn't be able to ignore. "*And* that I can do it on my first shot.

"You willing to put your money where your mouth is, loudmouth?" he taunted his surprised would-be antagonist. "Or is it like I've heard it said in the girls' locker room lately; you're all talk, and no action?"

"Fuck you, Harris. And I'll take that bet," Percy immediately accepted, a wide grin on his face at what he clearly believed was an impossible feat, while several of the cheerleaders watching simply goggled in disbelief.

"You willing to let me in on that action, too, Harris?" Blaine demanded, his face looking as though he'd just stumbled across a winning lotto ticket.

"Yeah, I can do that, Blaine," Xander nodded as he gave the other loudmouthed jock an equally predatory grin.

"So. Anyone else want in on this?" Harris asked as he glanced around at the rest of the group surrounding the three of them. "Hogan?"

The tall youth slowly shook his head, somehow smelling a rat. Xander's demeanor reminded Hogan too much of that time when he had been hustled playing pool at the Bronze last year. "Too rich for my blood."

With no one else offering to bet against him, Xander held out his hands towards Percy and said, "Okay, West, gimme the ball."

Easily catching the basketball West threw at him with a good bit of unnecessary force, Xander continued casually walking along the border of the court until he reached the spot he'd designated, at which point he simply paused for an instant, pivoted slightly as he'd seen Percy do earlier, and effortlessly tossed the ball up in a casual arc which terminated in the ball dropping through the hoop for an easy three point score.

"You two can pay me in the morning, guys," he called over his shoulder as he then resumed walking towards the exit doors.

"And, oh yeah – I only accept cash," Xander added with a satisfied smile, not bothering to look back at the stunned and disbelieving expressions on the faces of the group behind him

"How the hell did that *loser* do that?" Harmony demanded, before seeing the newly pissed-off looks on the faces of Percy and Blaine, and deciding it might be wise to not to hang around here any longer.

Cordelia would probably want to know what had just happened, after all.

~/~/~

Sunnydale Museum of Natural History
Research Lab

Later that evening


Dr. Doug Perren, one of the museum curators, looked up in surprise as he heard a whisper of noise coming from somewhere behind him.

"Hello?" Doug called out, as he got up from his desk and walked over to the massive obelisk that took up a large part of the lab. Touching the cuneiform-ish runes covering the obelisk's surface, he frowned – since the whispering seemed to be coming from *inside* the mysterious, ancient monument.

Doug should have paid more attention to his surroundings, though, as a slim hand wrapped around his face and pulled his head back with inhuman strength, exposing his throat to the glistening pair of ivory fangs – which were quickly buried in his throat, despite his frantic struggles.

"I'll have one of these to go," Angelus announced loudly as he casually led several other vampires into the lab, gesturing towards the stone column and ignoring the curator feebly battling against Drusilla's implacable hold.

"And be sure not to scratch it," the Master vampire warned his minions, as Dru dropped the drained corpse onto the ground.

"Remember, it's in mint condition."

~/~/~

Sunnydale High School library
Sunnydale, CA

Several hours later


Buffy had brought Kendra Young, her fellow Slayer, back to the library after encountering the Jamaican Chosen One during her nightly patrol, and the two were waiting on Giles since he was involved in a somewhat animated phone conversation with someone from the improbably large and well-funded Sunnydale Museum.

And unlike what might have been, Willow was busy helping Xander set up a video camera borrowed from the school's combined Yearbook, Photography and Newspaper department.

"Guys, are you two sure we're having a good idea?" Buffy asked doubtfully as she watched the two Slayerettes finalizing their work.

"Oh yeah, Buffy!" Willow looked up from her connecting the power cables to the television monitor and nodded eagerly at her friend's question.

"I mean, I think Giles is absolutely right; videotaping your training sessions *will* allow him to better review and assess your Slaying techniques," she volunteered with an enthusiastic expression on her face at the opportunity to implement any sort of technological improvements to the nightly Slaying.

"Yeah, and who in their right mind is going to argue against the chance to videotape two hot babes like you and Kendra fighting against each other?" Xander added his opinion with an equally bright smile.

"Hey!" he added, as though an idea had just occurred to him. "Would you two maybe want to consider changing, and doing your sparring sessions in bikinis? Gimme an hour or so, and I could even rig up a mud pit for you to wrestle in! Remember, the magic words are submission hold!"

The exaggerated leer and Groucho Marx-like eyebrow wiggle he gave the two Slayers as he spoke made Kendra blush and look away shyly, while Buffy merely gave him an exasperated half-smile and swung a halfhearted slap in his direction

As Willow started to scold him, Kendra recalled her first meeting with Xander; after he had arrived from Buffy's house, barely escaping from that Terakan assassin nicknamed "Norman Pfister". She had been completely unable to talk to the guy back then, even though the situation had improved over the past six months. The junior Slayer had often wondered what things might be like right now, if she'd been able to properly thank Xander for his help against Spike in that burning church...

All merriment ceased abruptly, though, as the four teens heard Giles hang up his office phone and then he joined them in the main room.

"I've been in contact with the museum," he announced. "The artifact in question has gone missing, and the curator has been murdered.

"Vampires, to be sure," he declared as he leaned against the massive wooden table they used for research.

"And you're sure this was the tomb of Alfalfa thing-y?" Buffy asked with a frown.

"Acathla," Giles automatically corrected his Slayer's mangling of the demon's name. "And yes, the information provided by Kendra's Watcher seems most conclusive."

"So, wanna explain to us again what makes the latest Big Bad so big and bad to our health?" Xander asked casually.

"Yes, well, uh...the demon universe exists in a, in a dimension s-separate from our own," Giles began explaining as he sat down at the table, "and with one breath, Acathla will create a vortex, a-a kind of, um... whirlpool that will pull everything on Earth into that dimension, where any non-demon life will suffer horrible and... eternal torment."

"So that would be the literal kind of 'sucked into Hell' thing-y the books were talking about, huh?" Buffy said nervously. "Neat. Not."

"So, how do we stop Acathla from breathing?" Willow asked, an equally worried frown on her own lovely features.

"Wit' dis," Kendra said, as she pulled a sword from her bag.

"It was blessed by de knight who first slew de demon," she explained, making Giles focus more attentively on the sword, an intrigued expression on his face. "If all else fails, dis will stop it. I tink."

"I hope you’re right," Xander commented with a frown from his position by the video camera. "'Cause we're all out of rocket launchers, at the moment. Well, the rocket part anyway. And I definitely don't want to try to steal one from that National Guard base again. I almost got caught the last time, as it is!"

"I'm not sure that something like that would even work against Acathla as it did the Judge, Xander," Giles replied, a contemplative expression on his face. "The Judge, although quite physically powerful, was still mortal in the generally accepted sense of the word.

"Acathla, on the other hand, was reputed to have been summoned from his own dimension for the sole purpose of opening a portal from our world back to his own, in order to bring about Armageddon," the Watcher explained, absentmindedly removing his glasses and polishing them as he spoke.

"He was not so much slain, as, as simply *transformed* into stone by the blessed sword of the knight who fought him," he stated. "The army which had been raised to fight the demon was unable to destroy the transformed statue, which is why the damned thing was removed from the battleground and eventually sent here, the furthest corner of the New World, where neither man nor demon would want to look for it."

"Yeah, and we all know now how well *that* plan worked!! Besides, they said pretty much the same thing about the Judge, what with the whole 'no weapon forged' thing, Giles," Xander reminded their mentor.

"I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong about this thing being indestructible," the dark-haired youth conceded, "but I don't think that us having a 'Plan B' up our sleeves is a bad idea, either. I mean, has anyone *tried* blowing up the damn thing with C4 or dynamite? ‘Cause I can’t help thinking, this is just like the Council’s attitude about guns; if they didn’t work centuries ago, then they won’t work now. Seriously, this is the 20th century! What’s wrong with using today’s technology to get results with regards to the Slayage, I ask you?"

"Well, uh, I suppose...your idea of a contingency plan involving explosives *does* have some merit, Xander," Giles agreed reluctantly. "But ‘technology’ and the supernatural often tend to clash violently, and for all we know, such weaponry may have utterly no effect on Acathla. So we should also be prepared for the possibility that either Buffy or Kendra may be forced to use the sword Kendra brought along with her against the demon.

"Which is why I think that the two of you should commence your training, now that your nightly patrol has been completed, Buffy," Giles refocused the topic of discussion back to the one he'd initially suggested, earlier.

"Now, Xander, are you sure you're capable of operating that device you and Willow have set up?" Giles asked, a doubtful look on his face as he glanced over at the camera.

"Giles, I find your lack of faith...disturbing," Xander said melodramatically, with a passably good imitation of James Earl Jones.

"Xander," Willow said scoldingly. It was amazing how close they were nowadays, given that the people named Cordelia Chase and Daniel ‘Oz’ Osborne were not part of the Scooby Gang.

"I know, Will. Seriously, though? For a chance to tape the Buffster and Kendra in all their sweaty and hopefully barely clothed glory, I'll apply myself one hundred percent, I promise," Xander enthusiastically declared, as he took up a position behind the camera and focused it on both girls with a wide, lascivious grin. "C'mon, ladies. Smile for the camera."

WHAP!

"Ow, Buff! No fair with the Slayer strength, already!"
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