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Summary: Angelus decides that he's going to teach the Scoobies a lesson, after Xander bluffs him to keep him from attacking Buffy while she's in the hospital incapacitated with the flu.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredGreywizardFR18316,92245214,12830 Apr 1312 Aug 13No

Chapter One

Disclaimer: They all belong to either Joss and ME, Gregory Widen, Constance M. Burge, NetherRealm Studios, Midway Games, H. P. Lovecraft, Turner Network Television, or other people I don't know. Yes, I know that that's outrageous, but you need to learn how to deal with it, the way I have.

Category: Multi-crossover, including Highlander, 'The Librarian' TV movie series, 'Charmed,' H. P. Lovecraft's mythos, and quite possibly any number of other series as my muse's whims dictate.

Summary: Angelus decides that he's going to teach the Scoobies a lesson, after Xander bluffs him to keep him from attacking Buffy while she's in the hospital incapacitated with the flu.

Time Frame: Starts during Season Two's episode 18, 'Killed By Death,' and then veers off into my own personal version of reality. The time frames of other series which may be crossed with this are juggled to suit my own purposes and my muse's whims.

Spoilers: Probably none whatsoever past Season Two, because I'm writing what my muse dictates, and she's got her own special way of warping things to fit her designs.

Character Bashing: No bashing per se, in my opinion, but the characters *will* be saying nasty things to and about each other in the course of the story. It really can't be helped, if you insist on keeping everyone close to canon characterization, initially, but it usually won't be much worse than the way Joss had them treating each other.

Feedback: Of course! Like Tenhawk says, it's the coin of the realm, people! ;-)

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Note 2: As usual, "word" indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author's Note 3: By author fiat, I am declaring that Angelus didn't kill Jenny in episode seventeen of the show, 'Passion.' She survived the attack, but was seriously injured and is recuperating at home. Make up whatever rationalization you like for why it didn't happen, but she's still alive here. Also, Xander and Cordelia never reconciled after she broke up with him in 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.' The reasons for that will – eventually – be explained, however.

Author's Note 4: I'm trying a different writing style here, and trying to go with the first person singular viewpoint for most of the story. Let me know how you think it works.

Author's Note 5: This is my response to TTH Challenge 7209: 'In for a penny, in for a pound. Or how Xander Harris got traded.'

~~~

Xander's POV

You know, it's kind of funny whenever I think back on it, but it's also true. Never, not in even my wildest dreams, would I have imagined that getting Turned would turn out to be the best thing to have ever happened to me.

Yeah, okay, I know you don't understand what I'm talking about, so if you'll just sit back and listen, I'll explain exactly what I mean by that.

I guess you could say that it all started back on that night in March when Buffy decided, against the fervent and very loudly expressed opinions and advice of yours truly, that she needed to go on patrol. Despite the obvious fact that she had one of the worst cases of flu, ever, and she was burning up with fever. Anything that could get past a slayer's hearty constitution would have to be.

But no, the Buffster made her decision that night and anything sane or rational that I told her – like the fact that she was having trouble even breathing, or that she could barely stand up straight – she decided to simply ignore, regardless of what the consequences might be.

The fact that she wouldn't necessarily be the only one who ended up suffering the consequences of her poor judgment was something else that was completely irrelevant to the situation, at least in her mind, if not mine and Willow's.

And Cordelia, of course, was no longer a consideration...

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that? Sorry, my bad. Thing is, my girlfriend and I broke up a about a month before that night. On Valentine's Day, if you can believe it. Well, okay, when I say we 'broke up,' that's a euphemism (yeah, yeah – big word, I know) for saying Cordy dumped what she termed 'my loser ass.' Mostly thanks to her incredibly self-centered desire to be popular trumping any feelings Queen C may have had for, and about, me. I'm just glad she based her decision on something that's important and lasting.

Yeah, that last part was sarcasm. I'm somewhat inclined to it, if you haven't already noticed.

Yeah, that was sarcasm, too.

Ah, well, never mind. Like I said, it's been a month or so, and I'm slowly starting to get over Cordelia, who's gone back to being the queen bee (with bee being shorthand for bitch) of Sunnydale High. Hell, it probably wouldn't have lasted much longer between us, anyway, as Buffy and Willow have pointed out more than once lately. The somewhat self-righteous looks on their face when they say that somehow make me doubt that their condolences are completely sincere, though. Willow, especially.

Anyway, back to the story at hand. Based on our humungously massive reservations about the sanity of her decision, Wills and I ended up shadowing Buffy when she started patrolling that night.

The fact that she didn't even notice us following her for the first twenty minutes says more than enough about just how sick the Buffster was, so I'll skip the details leading up to her hospitalization and just note here for posterity that I *really* enjoyed kneeing Angelus in the face after Willow managed to throw my jacket over his head in that graveyard. I just wish I had still had my stake with me, so I could finish the job.

I think the fact that I did it twice undoubtedly pissed Angelus off a little more than it normally would have, and probably accounts for at least part of the reason why he decided to lay in wait for me outside the Sunnydale General Hospital. This was, you understand, after I managed to bluff Overbite out of attacking Buffy while she was semi-comatose and hallucinating in her hospital bed.

In any event, I figured that Angelus had decided that, after blowing his chance to kill Miss Calendar a while back, he needed to do something to show that he really wasn't a complete undead pussy, and that he actually was as big a badass as his ego assured him he was.

And because of that little fit of pique, the bloodsucking idiot referred to as one of the 'most sadistic and brutal demons in history' – and seriously, did he, or did he not, have great PR people working for him back then? – decided that he was going to capture, torture and then turn me, Xander Harris, wisecracking Slayerette, as an example of what he could, and would, eventually, do to the rest of the Scoobies.

Personally, I can't really see how, exactly, that differentiated Captain Forehead from pretty much any other vampire who drained and then turned their victims. Well, aside from sending Buffy a message that he wasn't going to attack her until *after* all her friends and support base was dead and gone.

In any event, it was a couple hours after the overgrown leech had left – after deciding that Giles and Willow must have set up some sort of trap for him in Buffy's hospital room, and that they were using me as bait to get him inside – when Giles finally showed up. The damn Council had kept him on the phone all night, and he obviously didn't think it important that his Slayer was lying unconscious in a hospital ward, accessible to anyone – or anything – who might want to walk in and possibly sink their teeth into her neck.

I'm just glad I didn't have anything important to do, instead of watching over Buffy all night – you know, like go home and possibly catch a couple of hours sleep before class, or anything like that.

So anyway, there I was, on my way out of the main lobby when I heard a girl screaming from around the side of the building.

And, just like Angelus had expected they would, my stupid 'damsel in distress' instincts kicked in and I took off around the corner. Only to end up getting sucker-punched by your formerly brooding, friendly, neighborhood, no-longer-souled bloodsucker, and knocked out cold.

I'm gonna skip over the next sixty or so hours, and just say that Buffy's ex-Significant Other had a whole lot of fun (at least on his part) showing me all of the different ways he'd learned to inflict pain on people, over the course of a hundred and fifty-odd years.

I'll also say that he looked quite disappointed when I finally passed out for what must have been the final time, although he did smile and take the time to tell me, "It looks like you had things backwards, boy. We're both here, but you're the one who's gonna die."

I'll admit, at the time I was pretty disappointed that I didn't have enough of my own blood left to spit in his face. Although now, I realize that that would have been more like offering Angelus an after dinner mint. After all, both he and his nutty as a fruitcake childe, Drusilla, had both been feeding on me, off and on, ever since the Magnificent Poof (or so I heard Spike refer to him) kidnapped me that night.

I'll also admit that when Dru stuck a freakin' stiletto into the base of my spine, I lost whatever bit of focus I still had. Which all goes to explain why, when that undead prick who'd nailed Buffy's admittedly delectable ass stuck his bleeding wrist into my mouth to make me drink some of his blood, in order to turn me, I actually did drink some of his blood.

That brief instant of shattered concentration was all it took, and I swallowed a mouthful before I died my First Death.

Well, I'm fairly sure that's what happened, based on what I can gather from my own rather muddled memories and all the different and fairly confused accounts of everything that was going on around that time, anyway.

I'm sure you're wondering why it was my hero, the Slayer, never jumped out of that hospital bed and stormed into that damn factory, in order to save me from the torture her psycho ex and his 'daughter' was inflicting on my ass, right?

Well, as it turns out, there was some kind of invisible kid-killing demon haunting the pediatric ward at the same time Buffy was admitted, so the Buffster had Willow inject her with some sort of flu shot to make her sick enough to be able to see the demon, so that she could kick its demon-y ass.

Priorities, you understand.

And then, after saving those kids from whatever monster it was trying to eat them, Buffy collapsed, unconscious, in the hospital basement, alongside the invisible demon's corpse. This focused Giles' and Willow's attention almost completely on Buffy's condition, since the fever had caused some sort of weird heart palpitations for her, and required her being temporarily transferred to the Intensive Care ward.

It was around this point that Giles *finally* realized that there was absolutely nothing keeping Angelus from just walking into Buffy's hospital room and draining her as fast as my dad did a case of Coors. So, the G-man got Ms. Calendar, with Willow undoubtedly hanging on her every word, to perform that dis-invitation ritual for Sunnydale General, even though it was a public building. And thus, finally, something was done to help alleviate the hospital's rather shocking mortality rate.

But like I said, no one had thought to look for me right after Angelus grabbed me. Which must have majorly spoiled some of Deadboy's fun, what with no one frantically running around looking for me, the way he'd planned would happen. And that was basically because one of the nurses had told Giles that she thought I was coming down with the same strain of flu that Buffy had, and apparently none of the Gang had wanted to bother me while I was sick.

Yeah, right. I've heard way better excuses at school for not handing in homework. Like Buffy always saying, "But he didn't have a soul then!" every time I reminded her that she was smooching a walking corpse – one that had gotten some major neck in its day.

So, my showing up on the Summers family's front porch the day after Buffy had been released from the hospital, looking like I'd been attacked by a huge-ass school of piranhas, was actually the first hint any of the Gang had that not everything was entirely copacetic on the Xander Harris front.

For my part, the first thing I could remember when waking up, after blacking out for the final time under Angelus' not-so-loving attentions, was opening my eyes and looking up into Willow's and Buffy's shocked and horrified eyes, and feeling kinda achy all over. Sorta like what I'd feel if I'd had a really bad case of the flu, or whatever.

"Guys? What's the matter?" I can remember asking them, which made both girls scream in fright and jump back away from me, while staring at me with wide-eyed disbelief. Oh, and with a good dash of horror thrown in there, too.

I somehow managed to push myself to my feet (noticing as I did so that I was apparently lying on Buffy's front porch) and I had just managed to regain my balance, 'cause I was still feeling a little woozy, when I heard Buffy say, "I'm so sorry, Xander!"

"Uh, about what?" I asked her, while trying to make sense out of what seemed to be disjointed memories of a couple of really horrible nightmares.

Namely, nightmares of being kidnapped and tortured by Angelus, Drusilla and Spike. And then, later, of having some sort of three way battle for possession of my body with some super-fugly green bumpy-faced demon, the hyena spirit who'd possessed me in sophomore year, and some sort of blue-white glowing version of myself, telling them all to go away, and to leave me alone.

Weird as hell dream, for sure – especially since both the Hyena and the demon had simply just ignored me and started fighting each other, and I had simply waited, off to the side, until the Hyena had finally chewed the demon into little pieces and started eating its defeated foe.

At that point, I just picked up a big rock and then walked up and bashed the hyena's skull with it, then kept on hitting it until the Hyena had stopped moving. After that, I emulated my caveman ancestors by cutting the hyena up, roasting it over an open fire, and eating it all.

And I gotta say, despite what you might think, roasted dream hyena tastes delicious! No salt needed, thank you. But I wouldn't have refused some barbeque sauce, if it had been available.

In any event, my waking up had obviously shaken both Buffy and Willow up a good bit. I just stood there, listening to Buffy apologizing to me for not being around to stake Angelus – when all of a sudden, she pulled out a stake and jumped forward, and then she buried the stake into my chest! Into my heart!

I remember thinking vaguely that with friends like that, who needs enemies...

But I didn't have time to scream or protest or even do anything at all, before everything went black and I died.

Again.

For the second time in less than two days, as it turns out.

Although I didn't know that then, of course.

At the time, all I really knew for sure was that Buffy had just killed me by stabbing me in the heart with a stake – just as if I were a vampire.

Bottom line is, I died and I didn't know anything more until I finally woke up again.

This time, however, Giles was present, in addition to Buffy and Willow. And all of them were staring down at me with a mix of surprise, uncertainty, concern and maybe a little bit of fear, too.

Giles had a stake in his hand, and as soon as I saw that, I reflexively rolled away from him, only to slam up against the side of the couch in Mrs. Summers' living room while doing so.

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE??!!!" I screamed at him while I tried to scramble back onto my feet again.

And of course, while I was doing this, I was also making sure to keep an extra-careful eye on where Buffy was in relation to me.

"Xander –" Giles began, but I interrupted him before he could say anything more.

"BUFFY JUST STAKED ME! WHAT?! YOU WANTED TO DO THAT AS WELL?!" I yelled at him while I began backing away as much as I could, which wasn't much, considering that I was surrounded by my so-called friends. "I'M NOT A FREAKIN' VAMPIRE, GILES!"

"Yes, uh, we know that now, of course," Giles said as he stood there in front of me, the stake he'd obviously just pulled out of my chest still in his hand, and my blood dripping from the end of it and onto Mrs. Summers' rug.

"Because if you were a vampire, you would have become dust after Buffy staked you," Giles used what I call his 'I'm pointing out the obvious to an idiot' voice.

Which was something that really pissed me off for a moment, I can tell you!

"So would you mind telling us exactly what sort of demon you are?" the big Knowledge Guy of the group then asked, while looking at me as if I were some kind of interesting 'creature' he'd never seen before.

"I'M NOT A DEMON!" I yelled at him, which caused Buffy and Willow to reflexively take a step back before Slay-gal stepped back, to stand alongside her Watcher, a real flinty look in her eyes.

Which was just great, I thought to myself – where was this sort of attitude when Angelus had needed to be put down at the goddamn mall that night? He got a free pass, but now Buffy's looking at me like I'm something that she needs to Slay, right this second?

I was really starting to get pissed by this point, because the past few days had most definitely *sucked* with a capital 'SUCK', and Giles saying I was a demon was pretty much the cherry on top of the shit sundae I was being handed, as far as I was concerned.

"I don't know exactly what's going on, Giles," I yelled at him, "but I'm NOT a demon!"

"Well, not to point out the obvious, but you certainly aren't human," the British man said with one of those frowns he gets when he doesn't fully understand the situation he's dealing with. "Human beings don't come back to life after being killed by vampires, and they don't have retractile fangs like those Buffy reported you displayed upon awakening."

"Fangs?" I echoed stupidly, before brushing that aside. One thing I was sure of, I did *not* do the whole pointy-tooth 'I vant to suck your blood' thing. "I don't know what you're talking about. And not to point out the obvious, but Buffy died and came back to life," I immediately replied, ignoring the sharp intakes of breath I heard come from the girls at my response.

"Granted, it was after I used CPR to bring her back," I pointed out, in as reasonable a tone of voice as I could manage. "Still, going by that rationale, I'm just as human as she is."

I noticed Mr. British Flag Up His Butt's frown grow more intense as he declared, "That situation with Buffy is a, uh, a special case."

"Yeah, okay," I agreed. "But who's to say that I'm not, too, huh?" I followed up with my own comment. "Who's to say that some kind of magical CPR wasn't used on me, to bring me back?

"Maybe it was some kind of reward? You know, to even things out for my forcing Deadboy to get off his ass and take me down to the Master's lair, in order to save her life," I added, gesturing toward Buffy. I gotta admit, I was hoping that Giles was at least partly willing to listen to me, and not have Buffy stake me, just on general principles. Especially after my previous comment implying Buffy might not be human.

My answer must have made Giles at least consider the possibility, since he paused for a moment with whatever it was he had been about to say, but then he shook his head and said, "It's, err, not that simple. You may, indeed, be at least partially correct about some sort of mystical event 'evening things out', as you put it, in, in terms of still retaining your soul and human physiology after being Turned. But, but no normal human being can come back from the dead *twice* – the balance argument no longer works in that situation. Buffy staked you, as I attempted to do, just now..."

"And you don't sound the least bit sorry about it, either," I interrupted, glaring at the guy. "Tell me something, Giles. What if I *hadn't* come back to life the second time? What would have you said, or done? Just gone 'oops' and told Buffy to bury me in the nearest convenient empty grave?!"

"Xander – please. Don't be like that," Willow begged me, finally speaking up when it was obvious the limey ass couldn't think of anything to say in response to that.

"Willow..." I sighed. "Oh, hell, quit it with that stupid-ass Resolve Face thing, will you?! Come on, Wills, we're not six years old anymore! At least *try* to act like you've grown up a bit, okay?

"And I have every right to be angry, since Deadboy and his two kids just tortured the *shit* out of me for the past three days, remember?" I reminded all of them. "Most especially since, during all that time they were having fun working on me, I was wondering, where the hell are my friends? When are they gonna rescue me?"

Seeing the various expressions of guilt and/or embarrassment on their faces, it was like lightning hit my brain. "Oh, wait just a freaking second! Don't tell me – you people didn't even miss me at all, did you?"

"We, uh, we thought you were ill with the flu," Giles said hesitantly, but even I could tell it was a half-hearted explanation at best.

"Is that what you two thought as well?" I demanded, more that a little pissed, as I looked over at Buffy and Willow. The fact that neither of them could look me in the eye didn't help the situation in the least.

I swear, I was tempted to walk out the front door there and then, and never speak to any of them again – but the sad fact was, I *had* died and come back twice, and since my initials were not J.C., that meant I needed help to figure out what, exactly, had happened to me.

Because I *really* needed to figure out if this was just a one-or-two time thing. Thinking that I could depend on this 'dying but coming back to life a minute later' thing while in the middle of a fight, and then finding out that it only worked twice would suck *majorly*!

"Okay, fine. Let's just ignore for the moment how you people were so caught up in your own lives, you couldn't bother yourselves to even wonder about where I might be or what was happening to me," I snapped at the three of them, trying not to let my temper get away from me. And let me tell you, that was taking some major effort.

"So, what do you think has happened to me, Giles?" I asked, trying to get back to the point I was concerned with. "And spare me the fucking 'you're a demon' bullshit, understand? 'Cause I'm REALLY not in the mood for it, right now!"

"Well, I-I'd have to start researching it, but I suppose there are some things we could try to assess here and now," Giles answered thoughtfully, looking around the room.

"Whatever you want to try," I agreed, while deciding to keep an eye on – and a discreet distance from – Buffy, for at least the next couple of minutes.

Because let's face it, the Buffster's a 'stake first, worry about it later – if ever' kind of Slayer. Unless, of course, you happen to be the undead brooding asshole pedophile she decided to lose her virginity to.

So, you'll understand if I wanted to give her plenty of time to let Giles' acceptance of me as a probably harmless, maybe-demon kind of person soak in for a while before getting too close to her.

Which isn't to say that sort of attitude is unwise for the Chosen crowd, mind you. It's just that since *I* was the nearest maybe-demon type in the vicinity, it wouldn't hurt to be a little bit extra-cautious around her for a while.

Although I'll be the first to admit that when you compared her to Kendra, Buffy was just chock full of warm and fuzzy feelings towards demons.

If it had been Kendra who'd killed me earlier, I didn't doubt she'd have done it again immediately, the moment I woke up – and she'd have kept going until she'd either run out of things to stake me with, or run out of Xander-y things to stake.

In any event, now that we sort of had a truce kind of thing happening, I was just as eager as Giles was to try and figure out exactly what the hell was going on with me.

For probably the first time in my life, I was actually looking forward to doing research using whatever books Giles had available.

And if that wasn't a sign of an upcoming apocalypse, I didn't know what was...

But then, I turned to face Buffy, and I saw how she was staring at me with an annoyed and uncertain expression on her face. Probably because I wasn't living down to her expectations, and giving her an excuse to attack me again.

{ Great, } I thought to myself sourly. { Stake me again, why don't you? It's not like you haven't already staked me once already tonight, and it's pretty damn obvious your Slay-ness is screaming at you to do it again. You wouldn't do it if it was your 'poor, poor Angel who didn't deserve what happened to him,' though, would you? }

"So, Buffster," I said with as much fake enthusiasm as I could whip up. "Got a cross around for me to hold? Or maybe some holy water to gargle with? 'Cause I'm wondering what, exactly, would be proof enough for you that I'm not a member of the Evil Undead club?"

I suddenly noticed that Willow had moved off to join Giles on the other side of the room, as though she was trying to give us some privacy, so that we could talk without anyone overhearing us – and the needle on my 'Oh shit!'-o-meter immediately began climbing towards the maximum setting.

"Xander," Buffy said, now sounding more than a little hesitant – or maybe it was reluctant – as she spoke. "What did you mean, when you said you had to force Angel to 'get off his ass' and take you down to the Master's lair, in order to save my life?"

I resisted the impulse to close my eyes, drop my head into my hands and groan, although I seriously wanted to do just that. I swear – just when I think my day's as shitty as it can get, someone backs up a dump truck and drops a complete trailer-load of crap into my lap! God damn it, she wanted to talk about that *now*?

"Does it really matter at this late stage, Buffy?" I asked her, while I prayed for some sort of apocalypse or something to start up nearby. "I mean, after everything that's happened – Deadboy losing his soul, him trying to Turn me, you people not even bothering to look for me while the undead version of the Manson family were enjoying themselves by feeding on me and causing me whatever pain they could? THAT'S what you wanna focus on?"

"Yes," Buffy replied as she took a few steps forward, even though it was blatantly obvious she wasn't comfortable being so close to me.

"I want you to tell me everything that happened with you and Angel, the night I went down to confront the Master…"

{ Oh, good! I'm delighted to see you've got your priorities in the proper order, } I remember thinking to myself as I stared at her, trying not let my disbelief at her self-absorption, or my anger at that same egocentric mindset, show on my face.

"Well, Buff," I began my explanation about what actually happened that particular nightmarish night, when I realized that she wasn't going to let the matter slide, "when Deadboy finally did get around to answering my admittedly frantic pounding on his door, I noticed that his copy of 'Moby Dick' was lying open, with a bookmark in it, on the end table right next to a large glass of red wine he'd apparently been enjoying..."

~/~/~

An unknown location

A short time following the preceding scene


"You have an update for me?" The speaker's form was concealed by a hooded robe reminiscent of those worn by cloistered monks during the Middle Ages, but the aura of power emanating from the being was almost palpable, even from a distance of several meters.

"Yes, My Lord, I do." The second speaker's voice was clearly that of a woman, although their form was also concealed beneath the same type of hooded robe.

"Your plans proceed as you wish, although not quite as quickly as might be hoped. The youth is currently completely unaware of the power he possesses, but he is perfectly positioned for your purposes, as he is still one of the Slayer's most vocal supporters.

"I only learned this afternoon that he had been captured by that pretentious ass, Angelus, but he apparently managed to escape on his own, and is currently recovering from whatever tortures that arrogant fool subjected him to," the woman informed the first speaker.

"That situation is acceptable for the moment, I suppose," the first speaker declared, after a moment's rumination. "Return and maintain your watch over the boy. Alert me at the first indication of his displaying any abilities."

"It will be as you command, my Lord," the woman's voice declared. An instant later, the figure vanished from view with a brief flare of light.

The hooded figure chuckled to itself as it sat, alone, on its throne-like chair, the unholy sound of amusement malevolent and unnerving as it echoed in in the vast, empty chamber.

"You think yourself so crafty and devious, Raiden, you wily old bastard? I'm looking forward to seeing your face, once you finally realize that I've suborned your chess piece to join *my* side of the board."

~/~/~
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