Story 2, Chapter 1
X1000 – Take Two
Author: Anime Ronin
Rating: R, just to be safe
Summary: A series of short stories in chapter form – the trials and tribulations of a Man made Machine.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
AN: Okay, my first attempt at a sequel to my original story sucked, blew, swallowed and repeated several times, with only a few very minor redeeming factors. That having been said, I’m taking another stab at this, though in a far more manageable form – this will hit some of the high and low notes of the rest of Season 2 and, depending on how things go, Season 3.
AN2: No promises on things like Xander’s characterization and reactions to things as far as human norms go – he’s still, technically, a machine at this point. I can only say that I will try.
1 / ?
(Sunnydale Library – November 1, 1997)
She watched in abject horror as her best male friend’s hand slid from the double-bladed battle axe that it had been just second before into a silvery mass of morphing liquid, and then into what appeared to be a scimitar before it morphed back into his right hand. It was impossible, it was incredible … but after what she had seen last night and in her little more than two years as a Slayer, Buffy had to admit that it was one of the coolest things she had ever seen – terrifying, yes, but also VERY cool.
It then hit her, though, that her best guy friend had just told her that he wasn’t even human anymore, that he was, in fact, the T-1000 from that movie, only he had a human mind in the computer … somewhere deep inside, he was human, but still he wasn’t human in body. This thought made her sick to her stomach even as Willow clutched Xander’s chest, sobbing at what he had told them even as Giles was very busily cleaning his glasses into a new prescription.
He looked first down at Willow Rosenberg, then over at Elizabeth Anne ‘Buffy’ Summers, and finally over at Rupert Keith Giles – all of them were experiencing what could be called ‘mental trauma’ in that they had all be told of his true condition, an act that had gone against his processor’s best suggestion as to how to proceed, which had been to put up a farce until they found out the truth. In truth, he knew that it was the best thing to do as a human, but over the past few hours he had come to the glaring reality that, save for in mind alone, he was no longer human – he was a human mind trapped in a mimetic poly-alloy, more commonly known as ‘liquid metal’, and that body was in control of him, for the most part; sure, he could tell it where to go, how to act, even how to react, but when it came right down to it, he had very little control over what he remembered the real Terminator could do. He couldn’t scan anything, couldn’t extend his arms out in blades like it had in the movie (not that he planned on shutting a guy up by shoving a blade through his face while he was drinking right from the milk carton), hell, he could barely make himself FEEL anything emotionally – he had just the basics down … but that was going to change because he’d find a way to be himself again, come hell or high water … the HELLMOUTH or high water.
“Giles?” Willow pulled away from Xander long enough to look at the Watcher / Librarian, who quickly put his glasses back on his face, “Can we help him?”
He was silent for several seconds, his mind whirling for an answer that would put the girl’s mind at ease, but after several seconds he just sighed and shook his head, “Willow … I wouldn’t know where to begin.” She gave him a look of pure disbelief and heartbreak even as he went on, “Ethan had the power of Janus, the Roman god of chaos, behind him when he preformed this spell, and while I admit that it would be difficult to even beseech Janus to alter what he has done, it would be impossible to ensure that Xander would be made human again.”
“But … isn’t there something you can do?” Willow’s weak, almost defeated voice made him want to go track down what was left of Ethan and curse them and his soul to hell for what happened.
He merely settled for shaking his head, banishing Ripper back to his dark little corner, “No, Willow, there is not. With time, though, perhaps, but for now … no.”
“This … is an unfortunate turn of events.” They all turned to look at Xander, who was wearing a frown as he slowly extended his right index finger out in a two-foot-long lance that tapered to a needle-like point, “Excuse me … I need to process … to think.” He morphed his hand back to where it was supposed to be and left out of the room before anyone could stop him.
When they all surged out of the Library to catch up with him, though, all they were greeted with was the slowly-filling school and neither hide nor hair of Alexander Harris.
“This could benefit us, brother.”
“It would also destroy us, sister. He is aligned neither with us nor with the darkness,” he pointed out somewhat primly.
She stated, just as primly, “He is still adjusting, brother, and is vulnerable enough that we could mould him into our Champion.” He gave her an affronted look, knowing what was coming next, “He would be infinitely more agreeable with us all as opposed to your vampire, and is more adaptable.”
“You would prefer Angelus to be released back unto the world, then, sister?”
“He would not last long, brother – if Angelus is to ever be released again, his termination will handled by someone who is not affiliated with you or with your favored lower beings.”
He replied, somewhat stiffly, “The Watcher’s Council has served us for generations, sister, though often without their knowledge.”
“They serve only their own misguided thoughts of imagined power, son.” Both shut up instantly as the speaker went on again, “And more to the point, they have mostly lost their way, or at least their upper hierarchy has.”
Both bowed to their father, who’s black wings ruffled slightly as he stepped forwards – yes, things were going according to his plans.
“Penny for your thoughts?” He looked over and saw the one person his mind told him would be there – Willow was at the top of the list to have followed him, let alone found him, at 95.3 percent, and Principal Snyder would have been at the lowest at only 2 percent, but Aura Davis, one of Cordelia’s ‘Sheep’ had not even made the list.
He arched an eyebrow at her and looked around, not seeing any of her running buddies around, “What brings you up here, Aura? Last time I checked, Cordelia’s head of new fashion trends could not be seen with the school loser.”
She gave Xander a fond smile as she walked over to where he was standing, on top of the school roof and leaning against the railing there, “What, can’t I come over and talk to the one person who made my first year at Sunnydale Junior High bearable?” Her mother had brought her and her older brother from Japan and she had started sixth grade in a school that was completely inhospitable towards her – Xander had, on a whim, asked her to sit with them (Willow and their other best friend, Jessie) and for a few weeks he was the best friend she had until Cordelia came to her and brought her into the fold.
Xander looked back at her with a calculating eye, “Only when Cordelia and the rest of her sheep aren’t around, which is rare.”
She smiled, brushing her highlighted hair back over her ears, “She’s playing hookey with the others today, something about a new shoe store opening up in LA.” She heard him chuckle dryly and she looked him over – there was something very different about Xander that morning, something she could not put her finger on, so she went out on a limb, “So, crazy night, last night, huh?”
He studied Aura’s fine Asian features, which his mind told him was both aesthetically pleasing and had very little in the way of cosmetics on, and then nodded as he noted that she was, for the first time in years, dressed down in a pair of blue jeans, a simple white cotton blouse and sneakers, “Indeed it was.”
“I don’t remember a few hours last night, Xander.” He looked over at her and saw that her eyes were indeed worried, “I can’t remember them … and I feel funny this morning.” She brushed her fingers across the tops of her hands, “I think something happened last night, and I would really like some answers.” He looked down at the tops of her hands and his vision went black and grey for a moment – he could see the bones in her hands and arms, along with several other things, and a trio of slowly-growing opaque bones growing in her forearms, muscles and such shifting out of the way as they did, “I went as Wolverine last night, Xander … well, a female one, and I … I can’t remember anything in those hours.”
She watched him look up from where he was looking at her hands and stifled a gasp as she saw his eyes shift from black to brown and then heard him sigh, “Aura … I can tell you what happened last night, but it’s a question of if you will believe me.” She nodded at him and they began to walk away, “My question to you is how you got stuck dressing up as Wolverine, especially from Ethan’s shop?”
Aura blushed, “Well, that’s all he had left, apparently, and the people over at Party Town lost my reservations for the ‘Jasmine’ outfit.” She looked over at him and saw the grin on his face, “What?”
“Never figured you for a Disney movie fan, let alone that one,” Xander said to her with a semi-wry grin, one that went away, soon, “but if you had been her last night, you’d probably be a lot better off with what I’m about to tell you.”
She frowned at his words, “Could it be that bad?”
He stopped and she did as well as he turned to her before he looked around, after which he looked her right in the eyes and held his hand up, “Trust me, Aura, it’s worse than you know.”
She watched in mute horror as his hand shimmered a silvery metal color and elongated slightly, tapering down into a sword’s blade, then into a mace, and finally into an axe’s blade before it went back to his hand – she’d seen the movie, too, in fact it had been one of her favorites back in junior high, but to see it in real life … “What the hell?”
He smirked at her and put his arm around her shoulder, “Trust me, Aura, ‘hell’ has more to do with it than you’d think. You see, last night, those few hours that you don’t remember …”
(Later – Library)
Aura looked on in mute horror as Buffy bent the steel rod in half even as Mister Giles held a ball of pure fire in his hands, a ball he had called up from nothing, though it appeared to happen with more than a little trepidation on his part – when Xander had told her that ‘hell had more to do with it’ than she would think, apparently what she was seeing and what she had been told about the Hellmouth was what he had been talking about.
Of course, the capper of it all had been when she had felt a white-hot knife of pain rip through both of her arms, shrieked and, when it had passed, look down to see three bone spires sticking out of her flesh … the claws of Logan, the Wolverine, sticking out of HER flesh! “Wow,” she uttered, unable to say much else even as the chair in front of her melted to the ground and reformed into Xander. “Can you not do that? I’m still coping here, you know?”
He gave her a look that clearly said ‘how do you think _I’M_ dealing with this, Aura,’ as he spoke, “We all are, to varying degrees, Aura.” He looked over at Willow, whom had passed out at the sight of Aura’s blood-soaked claws, shaking his head, “Some of us better than others.”
She nodded at this and sighed, sinking her face into her hands, “So, what are our options, Mister Giles?”
“You and Alexander must learn to deal with the changes that are going to happen to you, Aura,” Giles said to the young woman who was doing a remarkable job of masking her own terror. “I understand that this is a great deal to take in all at once, but let me assure you that so far, we’ve managed to be able to handle all that has come our way.”
“He’s right, Aura,” Xander said in a semi-helpful voice. “Last time someone was possessed … there were very minor side-effects.”
She gave him a worried look, “’Last time’? Who and what was it?”
Buffy walked over, “Xander, and a Hyena spirit. He went … native for a few days, but we got it cleared put, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of any ‘side effects’.” She gave Xander a piercing glare, but it obviously didn’t hold the same clout as it once did as he just shrugged it off, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You were not told because you didn’t need to know about the alterations to my body, Buffy.” She glared at him again and he relented, slightly, “muscle structure alterations, slightly improved healing ability, slightly improved sensory capabilities, and the odd urge to stalk down certain items.” THAT one she knew all too well – not long after the whole Hyena incident, one that she had long-since suspected that he remembered, she had caught him stalking a lone Twinkie on the library table, never making a sound; all in all, it had been very disturbing, but as it rarely happened, she was more than willing to overlook it happening.
Aura gulped and looked at Xander somewhat shakily, “And now you’re … this?”
He nodded, “Cyberdyne Industries Terminator, series T-1000, designation Alexander Harris.” He winced then, and she could see in his eyes more than a little disgust, “The only real problem now is for me to try and figure out where the machine and programming ends and I begin … and I’m not sure where to start.”
Buffy smiled, “Well, you can start with me on patrol tonight – I want to see just what you can do.”
Xander looked first at Buffy, then at Giles and finally over at Aura as he heard Willow wake up, “Well, if anything, Aura gave me a good idea earlier.” Aura gave him a blank look and he held up his left hand, clenched it into a fist and frowned in concentration – from the backs of his hands, three liquid metal claws oozed out and solidified, mimicking the claws of the Wolverine exactly, which brought a snicker from Aura, a frown from both Giles and Buffy and a fainting sound from Willow as she fell back into the bench she was on.
Aura stopped snickering and grimaced as she held up her own hands and extended her claws with more than a little pain – it would be something she would have to get used to, even if she wasn’t going to be with the self-proclaimed ‘Scoobies’ all of the time, “And me?”
Giles spoke up this time, “Once I’ve briefed you on what it is that we normally do, Aura, we’ll begin our training … something I must first apologize to Xander for. A glaring omission on my part, to be sure,” he went on as Aura gave him a curious look, Xander rolled his eyes and Buffy looked a little shame-faced, “but once we get your training under way, we’ll see about helping Xander with his own training.”
Xander sucked his claws back into his body without changing expression, an action that Aura copied, though with a grimace and then a look of wonder as her hands healed in under a second, at which point Xander spoke, “Just make sure it never happens again.”
At this point the doors to the Library opened and Jenny Calendar, the computer science teacher, walked into the room dressed in a skirt and blouse, her face like a thunderstorm as she charged at Giles, “Rupert, I want to make sure it is VERY clear that I am not in any mood to deal with silly answers – what happened last night?” Before Giles say anything, though, she went on, raising her hands in front of her, “Because, before last night, I was never able to do this.” With that, she went totally invisible.
Silence reigned in for several minutes even as Ms. Calendar reappeared, though this time between Xander and Aura, a silence that was broken by Giles muttering out, “Bloody hell, Ethan – what were you sodding THINKING?” They were all taken aback by, though it was in British, the language used as he looked up at Ms. Calendar, “Ms. Calendar … I think you need to sit down for this.”
AN: Okay, people, that’s the first part of this second attempt – what do you think? Different from the first one, I know, but I’m having a little fun and so is my muse – Reviews, please, in order to let me know if I just need to abandon this attempt and just leave the first one as is.