The Mark of Eyghon, part III
A/N: Disclaimer, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1; spoilers are through “The Dark Age”.
Xander stared at the ceiling and sighed, “Oh gods, can this get any worse?”
Willow gasped, “And… and that’s why you’re doing better in all your classes! Except computer science!
Right? And that’s… that’s why you knew the plural of abacus this morning! Right, Xena? And that’s why you just said ‘oh gods’ instead of what Xander would say!”
Buffy gave Xander a look like she was going to punch him into next week. She said, “Is Willow right? Is she?”
Xander sagged even more. “Sorta. I’m me. I just kept a lot of Xena’s memories when the spell broke. Just like you did, with that high tea thing and French class, and Will did with the way she’s been checking the walls to see if she can walk through ‘em, and the swim guys did with their new swim times.”
“Ewww!” complained Cordelia. “You mean Cameron’s better on the swim team now because he’s still part girl mermaid
? I need to go scrub my lips off!”
“Cordy? Not now!” Xander snapped, only to find out Buffy and Willow were saying the exact same thing at the exact same time. He grinned and said, “Padiddle!” Buffy shook him one-handed to remind him he wasn’t getting off that easy.
Cordelia snapped, “So if he’s all Xena warrior sissy now and not Eyghon, then the demon’s dead, right? No one to jump into? We’re not dead, right?”
Xander smacked his forehead with his palm, even though Buffy still held him several inches above the floor. He groaned, “But someone was unconscious.”
Buffy and Willow looked at him with expressions of dawning horror. Buffy let go of him, accidentally dumping him onto the floor. She snapped, “Start calling Giles, and warn him! I’ll run over and cut him off. I can go faster than his car.”
Cordelia sneered, “Big deal. So can old people with walkers.”
Xander muttered, “I never thought I’d be happy the G-man has such a lame piece of crap for a ride.”
By then, Buffy was out of sight and the library door was slowly swinging shut.
Willow looked at Xander and slowly edged around to the other side of the table. “So… you’re like part Xena and part Xander, so how much is Xander and how much is Xena? I mean, like with percents? Because I’m thinking you never really wanted to kiss me before Halloween and that was definitely your inner Xena talking when you saw me, and I was kind of dressed like Gabrielle, sort of, and maybe you don’t really like me, it’s just that Xena really likes Gabrielle in a not-showing-it-on-prime-time way and I was just hoping you were Xander, and now it turns out you’re not, and I really want my Xander back!”
Cordelia groaned, “So we’re gonna do ‘Days of Our Lives’ instead of calling the guy with the girlfriend who has a demon inside her?”
Xander said, “Call Giles. Then if you don’t get him, call Miss Calendar’s place. Lather, rinse, repeat.”
Cordelia said, “And I take orders from you because…”
“Cordy, please just do it and complain later?” Xander groaned and looked back at Willow. He stepped toward her, but she edged further around the table. He suddenly felt like she had stabbed him in the heart. “Will? Are you afraid of me?”
“Umm, no?” she whimpered. “I’m just kind of taking a bunch of stuff into consideration, and maybe that whole ‘playing Xena and Gabrielle’ idea was a really bad idea, and we shouldn’t watch those DVDs anymore.”
Xander sat down and buried his face in his hands. “This is going so great. And we’re really helping the G-man now.”
Cordelia called out, “No answer either place!”
Xander and Willow both looked over and yelled, “Keep trying!”
Willow looked back at Xander and growled, “You’re pretty bossy, you know… Xena.”
Xander muttered, “Crap. I’m never gonna live this down, am I?”
Cordy looked up from her phone call and asked, “So, do you remember just about cutting my head off on Halloween?”
Xander groaned, “Yeah. I was pretty much along for the ride through all that, even if I couldn’t talk or make contact with Xena or do anything, or even figure out what was going on. But I’m pretty sure she would’ve really killed you if you hadn’t made that totally sincere apology after you called the real Xena a whore. Not your smartest move ever.”
Cordy hung up and dialed another number. “Stupid phones… Hey! Well how was I supposed to know I was talking to a raging psycho?”
“Hello? Hellmouth? When do we ever get a break away from psychos and monsters?” Xander complained.
Cordy suddenly burst into chatter. “Oh! Giles! Hey, we figured out that… Oh… Uh-huh… Okay… Yeah… Okay!”
She hung up and smiled, “So I don’t have to do anything now!”
“What?” Xander yelled.
“Cordelia, what did he say?” Willow asked in a way nicer tone that Cordy totally didn’t deserve.
Cordy said, “So it turned out Buffy caught up with ‘em in Giles’ parking lot right when Ms. Calendar started going all Eyghon on Giles, and Buffy yanked Eyghon out of the car and threw him over a fence, and Eyghon split, so Buffy helped Giles get to his apartment. And Giles thinks Eyghon is going after Ethan Rayne next.”
“And why’s that a bad thing?”
“Xander!” Willow fussed.
Twenty minutes later, they were still reading through the research books. Willow wasn’t talking to Xander. She was sitting as far away from him as she could and still be at the library table. The one thing she had done was to take the book in Middle English out of his hands and give it to Cordy. Then she slapped a Latin book down in front of him and told him to get reading.
He got to reading. This was just so great. Now Buffy, Cordy, AND Will were all pissed off at him. What next? The G-Man riding him out of town on a rail? Miss Calendar interrogating him with electric shocks? His brain shifted over to a mental image of Jenny Calendar, only in a skin-tight black leather catsuit, and round glasses like The Baroness from ‘G.I. Joe’, looming over him while he was tied in a chair, and…
Willow glared, “Are you looking for stuff to kill this thing, or not?”
He winced inwardly. “Umm, yeah. Sure. It’s just… The memories I got from Xena aren’t exactly like four years of Latin lessons. They’re more… bits and pieces. So it’s slow going.”
Cordy snipped, “At least it’s going, which is more than I could say about you before.”
He looked down again and read, “Uh… ‘hot lava’… no, that’s not right.”
Willow muttered, “That’s for a heretic.”
Xander didn’t look at her, but he really wondered. How did she know all this stuff, anyway? Had she already read these books a couple times?
Cordelia looked up from her book and said, “I’ve got the solution right here. ‘To kill a demon cut off its head.’ All done.”
Xander pretended to agree. “Oh, yeah! We’ll find Ms. Calendar, then we’ll decapitate her. Hey! She’ll be the first headless computer teacher in school. You think anybody’ll notice?”
Cordelia fumed, “Do you know what you need, Xander, besides a year’s supply of acne cream? A brain. You’re not using your head, maybe you should’ve let Xena have the whole thing!”
Xander jumped to his feet. “That’s it! All these years of you, and I’m snappin’! I don’t care if you’re a girl or not, I’m throwin’ down! Come on!”
Cordelia got up and walked right up to him. “Oh yeah, big talk when I don’t see Xena saving you by stabbing me in the neck with a sword.”
Xander opened his mouth to give her a blistering retort, assuming he could think of one fast enough. But Willow cut him off. She actually screamed at Cordy! Okay, she screamed at him just as much. So not a hundred percent goodness there. But once they sat down, Willow went on, “Look, we’ve done the research. We just have to figure out how to use it.”
Xander helpfully suggested, “Oh, hey! I know. Why don’t we find another dead body for the demon to jump into!”
Cordy almost agreed with him, which never happened. “Yes! At the cemetery.”
But Willow frowned at that. “Well, that won’t kill the demon. It’ll only give it a change of scenery.” Then she had an idea. Xander could see it in her eyes. “Oh. Oh! Oh, I’ve got it!” And she ran over to the phone.
Cordy drove them over to Ethan’s Costume Shop. Okay, that meant that Cordy drove, Willow got to sit shotgun, and Xander got crammed into the way-too-small back area by two girls who weren’t really speaking to him. They pulled up just in time to see Angel sprint from a now-open manhole into the shop, running the whole way with a tarp over him that he didn’t dump until he got under the awning. Cordy parked illegally in front of a fire hydrant, and they scrambled out of the car, which meant Xander was last out.
They dashed into the shop just in time to see Angel wrestling Eyghon to the ground and starting to choke it.
Giles and Buffy started to jump in, but Willow grabbed Giles and Xander waved his arms to get Buffy’s attention. He knew there was no way on earth he could stop a Slayer intent on getting into a fight. Maybe if he had a bulldozer, he could. Maybe a really fast bulldozer.
Giles yelled frantically, “He’s killing her!”
But Willow insisted, “No! Trust me! This is gonna work!”
And if it hadn’t been another Genius Willow idea, it would have been incredible that it worked. But it was Willow’s idea, so Xander was pretty much expecting it would go great. Once Angel choked Eyghon enough, the demon leapt out of Jenny’s body, right into the nearest corpse. Angel. Only Angel’s body wasn’t exactly open for new tenants.
Angel staggered back into the wall and fell to the ground. Then he started convulsing. His face contorted sickeningly as Eyghon got the upper hand and then lost it. He went back and forth between Angel and Eyghon a bunch of times, until he crashed against the wall and his vamp demon threw Eyghon out of that nice, comfy home. The demon crumbled to ashes while Angel did his own collapse.
That was when Xander noticed that little weasel Rayne had run away again. Next time, he was stapling that guy to a wall first.
Buffy ran right over and gave Angel a big ol’ hug that probably would have broken five of Xander’s ribs if he’d gotten it. She looked at Willow and said, “You knew that if the demon was in trouble it was gonna jump into the nearest dead person.”
Angel nodded, “I put it in danger.”
Willow smiled, “And it jumped.”
Angel got up. “I’ve had a demon inside me for a couple hundred years... just waitin’ for a good fight.”
Buffy hugged him again and said, “Winner and still champion.”
Xander managed to break the mood. “I hate to spoil the moment, but Weasel-Boy disappeared again.”
Buffy scowled, “Darn. I really wanted to hit him till he bled.”
“Me too,” Xander said.
“Not as much as me,” Buffy growled. And that was when Buffy told what happened to her. When Buffy had gone to rescue Ethan, the creep knocked Buffy out, tattooed her with the mark of Eyghon, and tried to sacrifice her to save himself.
Xander snarled, “I am really getting to hate that guy.”
But that still didn’t wrap things up. Not even after Giles helped Miss Calendar get home and she pretty much told him to kiss off. Not even after Willow gave Giles a hard time about how he needed to pay for Buffy getting that tat off, and Giles explained that Slayers couldn’t do the tattoo thing because their healing would push the ink out of their skin in a week or two.
No, that night in the library, Willow and Cordy and Buffy had to tell Giles the entire Xena lowdown. Even including the incredibly embarrassing ‘trying to get Xander to dress up as Xena again at Willow’s house to play Xena and Gabrielle’ part of it. At least Giles didn’t laugh. He just took off his glasses and polished them for like two solid minutes.
Xander waited for Giles to do something really un-fun, like tell Xander he wasn’t trustworthy anymore and he was out of the Scoobies until further notice. No, Giles just stared at Xander for a long time.
The G-man finally said, “As you know, I’m forbidden from training anyone who is not the Slayer. But if you already have years – perhaps decades or centuries – of sword training, I don’t think it is against the rules to assist you with a little work getting ‘back’ into shape and re-learning your skills…”
Xander grinned, “G-Man, you’re pretty sneaky for a stuffy tweed-guy… who used to summon demons and do orgies with that Rayne jerk. Who I am definitely going to punch the next time I see him.”
Giles smiled ruthlessly, “And then you can teach Buffy more swordsmanship. Getting additional training for one’s Slayer is always a good idea.”to be continued in ‘What’s My Line’