Good Thing I Didn't Take the Blue Pill 1/1
Rating: PG. Definitely nothing worse than the show.
Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to Mutant Enemy and Crack-Head Joss Whedon, although he doesn't deserve any of them, considering the way he's destroyed them over the past couple years. I'm just borrowing all of the characters for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine. The Matrix characters belong to Larry and Andy Wachowski, and possibly Warner Brothers. (I'm not completely sure of all of the financial details.)
Category: Yet another AU Halloween story.
Summary: Xander doesn't go as a soldier, but as a rather popular movie character.
Time frame: Alternate Buffy-verse, branching off at Season 2, episode 18, 'Halloween.'
Character Bashing: None.
Relationships: You'll just have to wait and see.
Feedback: Of course! Constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated. Flamers will be ignored and/or added to the lists of those to be painfully exterminated, once I am appointed to my rightful position as King of the World. :)
Author's Note 1: I know that the movie I'm referencing wasn't released until 1999, but for my purposes, it came out earlier in the Buffy-verse.
Author's Note 2: If there's enough interest, I might expand this story to detail more of the events that happened between sophomore year's Halloween and Graduation, and maybe even beyond through the Scooby's college years.
Good Thing I Didn't Take the Blue Pill 1/1
Ethan's Costume Shop
Thursday, Oct. 30, 1997
“So, Will, what'd you get?” the Sunnydale Slayer inquired as she walked over to inspect her friend’s Halloween costume selection.
“A time-honored classic!” the redheaded hacker responded eagerly, as she held up a ghost costume.
“Okay, Will, can I give you a little friendly advice?“ the blonde asked, eying the pseudo-spectre outfit dubiously.
“What? It's not spooky enough?” Willow asked, uncertain of what was causing the petite blonde to give her selection a “thumb’s down” evaluation.
“It's just... you're never gonna get noticed if you keep hiding. You're missing the whole point of Halloween,” she advised the taller girl. “It's come as you *aren't* night. The perfect chance for a girl to get sexy and wild with no repercussions.”
“Oh, I don't get wild,” Willow advised the blonde. “Wild on me equals spaz.”
“Don't underestimate yourself,” Buffy replied, as she cast her eyes around the store for possible alternate choices she might suggest. “You've got it in you. Just let it out and let it run wild.”
“Hey, Xander!” The future valedictorian of the Class of 1999 waved her hand and called over to the third member of their group, seeing him standing off to one side of the store.
“What'd you get?” the hacker interestedly demanded, as he casually ambled up to the other teenage members of the Scooby Gang. “And who did you finally decide to go as?”
Wordlessly, with a lopsided grin, he partially pulled a pair of black wire-rim sunglasses, several plastic replica Berretta pistols, and a shoulder rig for them out of his bag and held them up for Willow to see.
“That's not a costume,” Buffy decided as she looked over the various items on display.
Giving Buffy a ‘Duh!’ look, the tall brunet turned to Willow to answer her question.
“The rest of my costume’s at home,” he stated with a smile, “and I’m still not telling you who I’m going to be. You’re just going to have to wait ‘til tonight to see who I picked.” His grin turned into a triumphant smirk at their annoyed looks.
“See you guys later,” he said as he left and headed home. He wanted to make sure that he looked perfect tonight.
“He’s such a guy!” Willow said, staring daggers at her best friend’s back. If Xander felt anything, he ignored it and kept on walking.
Friday, October 31, 1997
“My, Xander, you certainly clean up well,” Joyce smiled as she answered the doorbell and greeted the brunet.
“Thanks, Mrs. S,” the male Scooby grinned. “I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at people’s reactions; this isn’t the kind of stuff I usually wear.”
“It does seem a bit out of character,” she agreed with a smile. “I guess I’m just accustomed to seeing all of those wild Hawaiian shirts you usually wear. I never would have expected to see you dressing as a Goth.”
“Well, I’m not, exactly,” he corrected her politely. “I’m actually a character from a movie, you see –“
“Hey, Xand, you ready to head out?” Buffy broke in as she carefully made her way down the stairs, eyes intent on the stair treads before her, not wanting to trip on the hem of her elaborate ball gown and take a header down the stairs. It may have looked good, but making sure she didn’t catch her foot on the gown or the long slip under it was a real pain.
“What are you – Wow! You definitely look different,” she observed in surprise as she looked up and saw his body-hugging costume for the first time.
“Sometimes, I’m just full of surprises,” he grinned at the Slayer’s reaction.
“How come you dressed up like Angel?” she asked. Still a bit surprised at the sight of her friend’s attire, she missed the flicker of anger that her remark triggered, which was replaced almost immediately with his normal ‘joker’ face.
“Actually, Buff, there are other people out there who wear the same type of clothing as Dea-, as some of the sunlight-challenged do,” Xander caught himself before actually naming the souled vampire he despised.
“So, who is it you’re supposed to be, Xander?” Joyce asked, redirecting the conversation towards the original topic before the situation could deteriorate.
“The character’s original name was Anderson. Thomas Anderson,” he stated, smiling as he watched Buffy’s brow wrinkle as she tried to recall where she had heard that name before.
Before she could say more, they were interrupted by Willow’s appearance, clad in a white sheet with ‘BOO!’ printed across the front of it.
“You guys ready to go?” she asked brightly, ignoring the tension evident between her two friends.
“Sure…Casper,” Xander grinned at her, using the same nickname he had come up with seven years before, when she had shown up for the first time to go Halloween-ing with Xander and Jesse, an old sheet thrown over her head for lack of being able to decide on any other costume.
Removing the black wire rim sunglasses he had procured from the costume shop the previous day from an inside pocket of his long black coat, he slipped them on before opening the front door and indicating with a sweep of his hand that the girls should precede him.
“Ethan’s” costume shop
Friday, October 31, 1997
Kneeling before the statue of Janus sitting atop the small pedestal he had built, Ethan began chanting in Latin.
The small glow that had surrounded the statue began to slowly brighten, before suddenly flaring for a moment into a blinding glare before then subsiding to its previous level, leaving a smug and smiling worshipper behind it.
Outside the shop, a wave of blackness roared throughout Sunnydale, carrying away with it the consciousness of everyone who had purchased their costumes from the outwardly genteel Englishman, leaving behind and in control of their body the personality the costume’s wearer had sought to emulate.
The world stopped spinning and he opened his eyes to find himself – elsewhere.
At first glance, it looked as though he had been dropped into one of the generic small-to-medium-sized towns that seemed to be scattered across the whole of the United States, complete with the lushly landscaped lawns and tree-lined streets that he had never really seen before, in the flesh, so to speak. Numerous small, unfamiliar and very furry shapes were scurrying across the lawn, away from him, as he looked around, trying to find a familiar landmark
“Where in the world – “ he began, before his attention was drawn by the sounds of a woman screaming, followed by several gunshots. He immediately began heading towards the source of the sounds at top speed, while he drew his Berretta 93R, then cursed under his breath as he failed to find his cell phone.
“Just where the hell am I?” he asked, as he rounded a corner to see a truly surrealistic scene. A tall brunette dressed in black leather and holding pistols ready for use in both hands was standing next to a slightly shorter redhead who looked like a Bon Jovi groupie and who was babbling something about not shooting the monsters around them because they were actually children, while a petite black-haired woman in some ornate renaissance ballroom gown was gibbering insanely about demons, monsters and being a proper lady.
“Trin?” he called out in relief as he slowed his frantic pace slightly, while all three women turned at the sound of his voice.
“Neo?” the brunette replied, her face breaking out into a small smile when she saw him, and immediately headed towards him, the two women following her like ducklings trailing after a mother duck.
“Xander?!” the redhead exclaimed upon seeing him. “Oh thank god! Everybody around here’s gone crazy! Cordelia’s thinks she’s that Trinity character from that movie, ‘The Matrix,’ and Buffy thinks she’s an eighteenth century noblewoman and a lot of school kids all got turned into demons, like the costumes they were wearing! And I turned into a ghost!” she added, apparently not needing to pause to breathe while she spoke.
“I’m sorry, but you seem to have mistaken me for someone else, miss,” he told her politely, as he scanned the area for any sign of Agents or other possible hostiles. “My name is Neo.”
“Xander?” the redhead said hesitantly, as she looked at him, her eyes full of concern. “Oh no,” she muttered under her breath. “You’ve been affected, too.”
He noticed from the corner of his eye that she gave a shake of her head as she seemed to be talking to herself, then looked up at him, her brow furrowed with determination.
“Xander – I mean, Neo,” she corrected herself. “There’s some amnesia kind of thing going on that’s made everyone think they’re someone they really aren’t. I’m Willow and you’re really a friend of ours named Xander, Trinity is one of our classmates in school named Cordelia, and Buffy,” she indicated the third woman,” is a friend who’s been affected, too. She thinks she’s a noblewoman, but she really isn’t.”
The woman who was supposedly named ‘Buffy’ immediately began yelling stridently, insisting that she was, indeed, noble-born, quite chaste, and remonstrating the redhead for insinuating she might be otherwise.
“And I would never associate with a low-born trollop of a camp-follower such as her,” Neo could hear her insisting, before he ignored her and turned his attention back to the redhead.
“ – so, you guys need to find someplace to hide out while I go find Giles and get him figuring out what’s going on here,” Willow was saying. “And make sure you don’t kill anything, because they might just be kids turned into their costumes, okay?”
“I really don’t think you should be going anywhere by yourself, if what you say is true,” he told her. “Any of these creatures could attack you before you find your friend.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m a ghost, remember? Nothing can hurt me when I’m like this,” the redhead replied, waving her arm and passing it through him before turning and heading off down the street.
“And remember, no killing any of the monsters!” she called over her shoulder before disappearing around a corner.
“Do you actually believe her story?” Trinity asked as they continued to scan the area while the annoying brunette continue babbling about the inappropriateness of Trinity’s clothing for attracting anything but the attention of ‘low-born thugs.’
“I’m not sure,” he answered honestly. “I doubt she’s an Agent construct; her story is entirely too strange for an A.I. to have developed,” he judged. “Until I have reason to believe otherwise, I’m inclined to accept her story as a possible hypothesis to explain where we are.”
“So, what now?” Trinity asked him, trying to tune out Buffy’s annoying prattle.
“We find someplace to lay low and figure out how we got here, and where ‘here’ is,” Neo replied. “And try not to kill any of the monsters unnecessarily, I guess.”
“ A DEMON! A DEMON!” Buffy screamed as she sought shelter behind Xander as a sport utility vehicle drove down the street with its headlights on.
“That's not a demon. It's a car,” Neo corrected the cowering woman, trying to dislodge the frantic and surprisingly strong death-grip she had on his arm.
“What does it want?”
“Is this woman insane?” Trinity asked, an expression of annoyance and disgust on her face at the smaller woman’s behavior.
“That’s as reasonable an explanation as anything I’ve heard, so far,” Neo agreed.
Two blocks over, several monsters chased people down the street past Spike, who simply stood by idly, watching.
“Well! This is just... neat!” he grinned, savoring the fear and confusion that seemed to permeate the night before he headed off to add his share of terror and suffering.
“Are you sure she came this way?” Neo asked as he picked his way down the trash-strewn alleyway.
“No. Not at all,” Trinity shook her head. “I was busy trying to not kill any of those furry little things that attacked us, the way that Willow girl asked us to do, and when I turned around, she was gone.”
“Who do you suppose this Buffy girl really is? This – Willow – said she’s not normally useless and helpless like this,” the tall brunet said, unaware of the small group of demons gathered on the other side of the wall separating the local warehouse lots.
Finding no trace of their quarry, the two searchers then moved on to the next block in their hunt for the missing brunette.
“Well now, do you hear that, my friends?” Spike smiled at the assembled monsters as he considered the news they had just heard. “Somewhere out here is the *tenderest* meat you've *ever* tasted, and all *we* have to do is find her first!”
Neo grabbed hold of the ersatz pirate who was attempting to molest the cowering brunette and casually slammed him against the large metal warehouse door, the impact producing a hollow ‘Thhoooommm!’ as though someone were pounding on a large drum.
As the pirate blinked in dazed confusion, Neo slammed him into the door a second time, before sending him sprawling into a large pile of trash that had accumulated at the end of the alleyway.
“That felt really good for some reason,” he commented reflectively as he turned back to the two women.
“Neo, we’ve got company,” Trinity announced, looking up to see an advancing group of demons as she checked over the blubbering, terror-stricken girl they had charge of.
At the head of the oncoming crowd of monstrosities was a bleached-blonde man with a deformed forehead, yellow eyes and prominent fangs, who seemed to be focusing the majority of his attention on the cringing girl
“Well now, look at what we’ve got here. The all-powerful Slayer, her lapdog and a really tasty-looking little tidbit, too,” Spike sneered as he gazed at the three people his crowd of faux-demons had trapped in the dead end passage.
“The mighty Slayer,” he mocked the sniveling girl. “Look at you. Shaking. Terrified. Alone. Lost little lamb. I’m gonna love every second of draining you, luv,” he smiled, as he shifted to his game face.
“I think we could forget about the ‘no killing unnecessarily’ rule here, don’t you, Neo?” Trinity said coolly, as she drew one of her Berretta Cheetahs and let it dangle at her side.
“Take Buffy and get her out of here while I distract these clowns, okay, Trin?” Neo said, as he removed his sunglasses and carefully stored them in an inside pocket of his coat. “I’ll catch up with you in a couple minutes.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” the Bleached Wonder laughed as he saw the boy he recognized as one of the Slayer’s minions move to stand between the currently helpless Slayer and the crowd of demons filling the alleyway. “The lapdog seems to think he can actually slow us down the slightest bit.”
“Get moving, Trin,” the tall brunet instructed his lover, who reluctantly nodded her acquiescence to his direction.
Without a word, the leather-clad brunette beauty pulled the trembling, smaller woman to her feet, then grabbed her and casually tossed her over her shoulder, receiving an outraged shriek from her burden before she turned and ran diagonally up the alley wall behind them to disappear across the neighboring building’s roof.
“How –“ Spike began as he stared with disbelieving eyes at what he and his would-be minions had just seen happen.
“Never mind that, go get them! Find the Slayer, and that other bint, too!” he bellowed with rage as he realized his prize had just been stolen from him.
“But don’t kill her!” he ordered. “Catch her and then wait for me. I’ll be along as soon as I take care of this wanker, personally,” he said, as the mini-demons all scurried away to search for the escaped women.
“No,” Neo said quietly, the faintest bit of a smile playing across his lips, as he dropped back into a classic Kung Fu defensive stance, “I don’t think you will.”
With his left hand extended, he motioned to Spike in the classic ‘bring-it-on’ gesture, then simply waited.
“I’m going to enjoy this, wanker,” the vampire smiled, then rushed forward to overpower the youth and drive him to the ground, where he would disembowel him, then leave him to bleed out, the unspoken implication that he wasn’t even worthy enough to drain being the ultimate insult a vampire could render.
Contrary to his expectations, though, Spike not only didn’t bowl the boy over, he found himself flying through the air to impact face-first against the warehouse wall that the boy’s companion had run up while carrying the Slayer.
Shaking his head to clear it of both the shock from the impact and the surprise he felt at the result of his attack, the demon turned to find the Slayer’s lapdog waiting and watching with the same imperturbable expression he had been wearing a moment before.
Moving a bit more cautiously, Spike approached the youth again, examining the fighting stance he had assumed. After deciding that the boy had taken a bit of martial arts training, he lashed out a feint with his right hand that was instantly followed by a quick kick to the youth’s lead knee and a slashing attack with his left hand, only to find himself unbalanced and falling forward as both his kick and slash attack encountered only air.
Indeed, as he moved forward, involuntarily following the momentum of his body, he felt a hand grasp his right arm, pulling it forward and turning it over to lock his elbow, as blinding pain suddenly exploded, first in his shoulder and then, a fraction of a second later, in his elbow.
As a harsh scream erupted from his lips, an overwhelming force suddenly impacted at the base of his neck and he could feel the vertebrae there shattering under the irresistible force that was driving him face first to the asphalt beneath him.
He hit the street hard and lay there, unable to move a finger, or even curse the person responsible for his condition. The sound of footsteps grew closer until he could see the black tactical boots the wanker had been wearing stop next to his face, and a quiet voice addressed him.
“I promised someone I wouldn’t kill anyone tonight, which is the *only* reason you’re still here,” the brunet informed him. “I don’t like breaking promises.
“The next time I see you will be the last,” the voice prophesied, and the steel manifest in the boy’s tones was reinforced by the vampire’s own silent vow that only one of them would survive their next encounter.
As he lay there helplessly, listening to the receding sound of the boy’s footsteps, he began trying to figure out how he would survive the rest of the night and, more importantly, the coming dawn.
Sunnydale high School Library
Later that night
“ - and then Cordelia grabbed me, threw me over her shoulder and ran up the wall and across the roof of the next building like she was Spiderman or something!”
The Slayer’s voice was loud and more than a bit excited, making it difficult to determine whether she was angry about her rather cavalier treatment by the possessed Cordelia or simply upset and embarrassed by her behavior as the incompetent and rather pathetic noblewoman she had been turned into, earlier in the evening.
The subject of the Slayer’s report was sitting quietly off to one side in the library, her fingers nervously tapping on the arm of the chair in which she was seated, her gaze constantly moving and traveling around the room, before inevitably returning to the other black-clad would-be Halloween reveler, whose chocolate-brown eyes had remained steady on her for almost the entirety of the Scooby Gang’s reports.
Each time their eyes had met, the head cheerleader had immediately looked away, only to eventually return to meet his quiet and steady gaze, before blushing, breaking away and repeating the entire cycle again.
He and Cordelia were definitely going to have to talk, he decided. That kiss they were sharing when the spell broke was more than just the casual smooch of two people who had been dating. Much more.
“ – you have anything to add to Buffy’s account, Xander?” the male Scooby’s attention was diverted as he realized that Giles had asked him a question.
“Well, aside from the fond memories I have of Buffy hiding behind me and screaming ‘Demon!’ the first time she saw a car,” he grinned, ignoring the thousand watt glare the Slayer was giving him for reminding her of her less-than-courageous behavior, “the only other thing I’d care to mention, was that I remember kicking the snot out of Spike when we fought, and leaving him lying in the street before I went looking for Buffy and Cordelia.
“I just wish we could have woken up sooner, because when I went back to finish him off, he was gone,” he added sourly as an afterthought.
“You what!? That’s impossible, Xander!”
“Are you kidding us, Xander?”
“What did you say?”
The obvious disbelief in the faces of Buffy, Willow and Giles at his statement was counterbalanced by the calm recognition and acknowledgement of his abilities Xander could see in Cordelia’s eyes.
“Feel up to a little demonstration of what happened to Spike, Buff?” he smiled slightly as he got up from the chair in which he had been slouching, divesting himself of his black duster and revealing the very real paired Berretta 92R pistols he still carried in a twin shoulder rig.
The amused smile on Cordelia’s face as he issued the challenge assured him that at least one person present didn’t doubt his capabilities any more.
It would be interesting to see if Cordelia had retained any of Trinity’s memories, he thought to himself as he assumed a modified Shao-lin Dragon-form defensive stance in the cleared space where Buffy usually practiced.
Especially the ones that occurred after Neo had returned, subsequent to Agent Smith’s killing him in the ‘Heart of the City' hotel.
Trinity had called to him, to Neo, and he had come back at her urging. They belonged together, and he wasn’t about to let anyone or anything stand in the way of their getting together.
“Ready anytime you are, Buffster,” he grinned.
Things were going to be very interesting, very soon now.
Sunnydale High School Graduation
The Mayor had begun his Ascension, his body slowly transforming into a huge snake-like demon.
As a result of that sight, a great many people were screaming and running around wildly trying to escape, but the vast majority of the Graduating Class had managed to re-assemble on the school lawn adjoining the pavilion.
“Xander! Cordy! You guys have the stuff we need ready?” Willow called over to the black-dressed pair as she and a former hell-raising sorcerer turned librarian tried to ensure that everyone was in the proper position to implement their battle plan.
“We’re on it, Wills,” he called back, as the brunette beauty hit the speed dial button on her phone.
Beside her, her brunet demon hunter/soul mate, along with a (currently) redheaded werewolf and a Neo-pagan, were all making final checks on the magazines of the personal weapons they each carried, while two Slayers and an ensouled vampire occupied the transformed demon’s attention, using their superhuman agility and speed and tag-team tactics to prevent him from focusing more of his awareness on the not-so-panic-y actions of the graduating class. And she could also see that Faith was, as usual, having far too much fun playing tag with the demonic politician. Cordy smiled to herself; she and Xand would help their girlfriend work off her pent-up energy later.
“Operator,” the voice at the other end of their special phone line answered.
“It’s us, Tank,” Cordy spoke into the phone. “We need some supplies.”
“Okay, Queen C. Store's open,” the Nebuchadnezzar’s chief pilot and virtual supply officer replied. “What do you need?”
“Guns. Lots of guns, Mr. ‘I-ask-foolish-questions,’ “ the brunette former cheerleader sniped teasingly at him. “And as many AT-4’s as you can manage.”
“You got it, babe. Just make sure you call back and let us know how everything went, okay?” Tank instructed, as a dozen racks of weapons suddenly shimmered into existence in the taped off space next to the waiting troops of graduating students.
“All right, big guy, will do. And thanks. Talk to you later; we’ve got a demon to kill,” Cordy agreed, as she folded her phone and slipped it into the pocket of her black leather pants.
She could see Xander, Willow, Oz, Giles, and Jenny were all busy handing out the weapons from the newly-arrived racks, and she smiled as her boyfriend looked over and tossed one of the anti-tank weapons to her, to match the one already slung over his own shoulder.
“Everyone to their positions! Let’s move it, people!” she heard him shout, as the Mayor’s snout lunged through the curtains decorating the pavilion, and four score seniors all ran to their designated spots, unsnapping and discarding the shipping covers from the ends of the AT-4 anti-tank recoilless rifles they carried, or slamming magazines filled with tracer rounds into the MP5A5s, min-Uzis and Skorpians the Scooby Gang had distributed to them.
“Firing by companies, on command!” Xander ordered as he lined up the sight of his own AT-4. “Alpha company – Fire!”
As she readied her own weapon, Cordy gave some thought to which outfit she should wear when they went out for their victory dinner later that evening. She was so glad that she and Xander had retained their hacking skills along with all of the other skills they had gained that night. It had been a close thing, but if they hadn’t managed to head off that IRS audit, she’d probably be living in the same roach motel the Council had forced Faith to live in when she had first arrived in town, before she had moved in with her and Xander in the townhouse they had bought a few months after they had officially gotten together. Getting Xander declared an emancipated minor had solved his most immediate problems with his family, and had enabled him to control his own finances, making his subsequent purchase of their home that much easier.
Personally, she really liked the maroon Emanuel Ungaro with the thigh-high slit up the side, but both Xander and Faith had absolutely drooled that last time she had worn that navy blue Donna Karan with the scooped neck.
Actually, she reflected, that decision could wait ‘til later; right now, it was time to take out the trash, she decided, as her mental count told her it was time for her people to act.
Shouldering her weapon, she called out to her own company, right on the tick, “Delta Company – Fire!” and watched the already blasted and burning carcass of the Mayor explode into even smaller fragments that showered the grass for yards around it with blood and viscera.
< Damn! How the hell am I going to get that blood off this blouse! You just *know* it’ll already have set-in by the time I can finally get home and soak it! Some people are just so inconsiderate! > she thought as she discarded the now-empty tube and picked up the MP5A5 hanging from its shoulder strap.
“Lock and load, people!” she directed her group. “It’s open season on anything with yellow eyes and fangs.
“Except Angel,” she added immediately.
"Well, unless you have to," she then muttered under her breath. Her opinion of the vampire was much like Xander's: the vampire might be useful, but he was still a vampire.
“Shoot him, and you’ll piss him and Buffy off! And you really don’t want an angry Slayer after your ass,” she continued her official briefing, while thinking, "unless you can kick her ass with ease," before unloading a three round burst of tracers into a vampire foolish enough to think that a mere growl and a flash of fangs would be enough to intimidate a dozen students with automatic weapons.
< Of course, a horny Slayer is an entirely different matter, > she added to herself with a salacious grin.
“Okay, guys, let’s finish this up,” she hollered. “I’ve got a manicure scheduled for three fifteen and I don’t want to be late!”
< Let’s see next year’s graduating class top this! > she thought with a satisfied smile, as she led her classmates in a search for any vamps that might have survived the Mayor’s barbecue.