Title: Be All you Can Be
Rating: PG. 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. DC Comics owns Animal Man.
Category: Another 'Xander gets powers' story. But it's a short one.
Summary: Xander's noticed something different about himself since getting hit by the energy blast at the evil temple.
Time frame: Alternate Buffy-verse, branching off immediately after Grave. Willow and Giles never went to England.
Character Bashing: None.
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.
Title: Be All you Can Be
May 29, 2002
"Okay, guys, I, uh, have something I need to tell you," Xander announced nervously as three women stared at him with mixed concern, trepidation and suspicion from their seats on the couch in the living room.
"Is this a demon-y kind of something?" Buffy asked, her eyes narrowing as her Slayer aspect immediately came to the fore. While she readily admitted that she wasn’t the most talented Slayer in the demon-sensing department, she didn’t feel any demon-y vibes coming from her best male friend.
"Uh, I certainly hope not," the carpenter immediately replied. "'Cause this involves me being able to do weird kinds of things I couldn't do up until a couple days ago."
"What kind of weird things?" Dawn immediately asked, her head cocked at an angle as she looked at him curiously.
Wordlessly, the carpenter/demon hunter reached out and placed his hand flush against the center of the coffee table's top surface, then lifted his hand.
Along with the solid chestnut wood table, which now seemed to be stuck to the palm of his hand.
"Today, I seem to be Spiderman," he said quietly.
“Cool! Can I be MJ?” Dawn piped in, tongue firmly in cheek.
"It seems to work sort of like Animal Man's powers do," the tall brunet explained to his friends a short while later as he referenced the comic book character. "Except that I don't have anywhere near the same amount of control that he did."
"How long has this been going on?" Dawn demanded. The young brunette had also noticed that Willow had seemed to be cringing somewhat as they listened to the male Scooby's explanation of what had been happening to him over the past few days.
"Anything you might want to share with us, Willow?" she asked, the slightest bit acerbically, before the brunet could answer her previous question. She was still a bit peeved by the witch's attempts to kill all of them the previous week, not to mention the whole car-wreck/arm in a sling deal the witch had put her through, and wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to put the metaphorical screws to the object of her ire.
"Well, uhm, it's - possible - that Xander might have been affected by the energy blasts I was using last week when I was trying to raise that temple," the redhead hesitantly stated, her eyes worried and apprehensive as she looked over at her oldest friend.
"What do you mean, affected?" Buffy immediately demanded, as she glanced between her two friends, both of whom were wearing expressions of concern and muted alarm.
"I - I was channeling energy from the earth and using that to energize the temple," Willow explained as she looked at Xander with an increasingly worried expression on her face.
"When he stepped into the energy stream, it - it's possible that he might have absorbed some of the energy and it affected his system," the redhead hypothesized.
"There are some spells Giles could use to check and see if anything actually did happen," she offered, being unable to use the spells herself after she had consented to having her own power bound and then stripped from her the same day as her rampage by the coven that had sent Giles to Sunnydale.
"Okay, then, let's get moving on that, then," Buffy ordered, once the redhead had finished speaking. "Dawn, call Giles and tell him we need him back here ASAP."
"On it already!" the Key announced, her fingers having already finished dancing across her phone's keypad, leaving her only to await someone's answering her summons.
"I guess all we can do now, is just wait, then," Xander suggested as he sat down on the overstuffed chair closest to the couch.
"So, guys, see any good movies lately?"
"Well, that most certainly settles that," Giles said quietly as he concluded the last of the tests suggested by Willow and the Devon Coven.
"And that means what, Giles?" Buffy asked, uncertainty making her voice quaver the slightest bit.
"I wouldn't begin to imply that I understand exactly how this type of thing might have occurred," the ex-Watcher replied, as he looked the Scooby's in-house repairman over yet one more time, "but it would appear that you have somehow managed to link yourself to the morphogenic field that comprises and encompasses this planet."
"Uh, having the English subtitles would be of the good, Giles," Xander interjected.
To his amazement, the former librarian merely shook his head slightly while muttering "Ignorant colonials," under his breath, and then proceeded to elaborate.
“The simplest way to explain would be to say that you are now mystically connected to pretty much every living creature in the entire world, my boy,” Giles stated. “And through that connection, you are now able to gain the abilities of any organism you desire. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that you would be able to replicate in full measure the abilities of whatever creature you might choose to mimic, much as you did this afternoon, by replicating a spider’s strength and its ability to adhere to virtually any surface.
“In fact, after you have more fully developed this power, I do not see why you might not be able to replicate the abilities of multiple creatures simultaneously,” he observed.
“Cool!” Xander smiled as the possible parameters of his newly-gained capability became clearer.
“Hey, Will, can you think of anything that‘s got X-ray vision?” he asked as he turned to face his friends, completely missing Giles’ shaking his head in resignation and murmuring to himself, “Oh god, we’ve created a monster.”
With the enthusiastic support of Buffy, Dawn and Willow, Xander soon became an expert on a wide range of creatures that encompassed some of the various branches of the animal kingdom, quickly becoming adept at replicating whatever abilities he decided would best suit the situation.
“Xand, I have to say, that was really kind of disgusting,” Buffy commented as they finished up patrol and headed home.
“Says the girl who would probably have had her head ripped off if the demon sneaking up on her hadn’t been blinded by me spitting cobra venom at him and it then tripping over its own feet,” Xander genteelly scoffed at the petite Slayer.
“Hey, I’m not complaining,” the blonde quickly replied. “I’m very of-the-grateful for your blinding said demon before it could open up my skull. I’m just observing that spitting in its face was the least bit disgusting. That’s all.
“And feel free to continue being disgusting like that anytime something’s trying to kill any of us,” she went on with a smile.
“Okay, you might have a point,” Xander agreed after a moment’s consideration. “But since I couldn’t get away from the two I was fighting, that was the best I could think of on such short notice.”
“Just make sure you rinse your mouth out before you try to kiss anyone good night, okay?” Buffy grinned.
“Are you sure you’re gonna be okay, Xand?” Dawn asked worriedly, as she hovered above the supine carpenter stretched out on the Summers couch. “ ‘Cause, to tell the truth, you really look like shit. Which is kind of a letdown from your usual hunka-hunka burning Viking that I’m used to seeing.”
“Yeah, Dawnie, I’m gonna be fine,” Xander reassured her. “And I have to say, your bedside manner could definitely use a little work.
“But really, there’s nothing to worry about. Salamanders and planarians can regenerate pretty much any body part they lose in a few days. My arm’ll be back as good as new by the end of the week at the latest. The toes that Fyoral demon bit off are already back, see?”
“You cannot prevail, fools,” the seven foot tall, four-armed magenta-colored demon gloated as it lay bleeding on the floor of the cavern. “The artifact’s explosion will have an effective blast radius of over a mile, and that will trigger the opening of the Hellmouth, allowing my people to swarm over your pathetic world and take what should rightfully belong to us!
“It will take you over a minute to reach the surface, and even more time to get clear of any inhabited areas, and the artifact will detonate in less than three minutes,” it laughed triumphantly. “We will win, and humans will serve as nothing more than food for our tables! We - urgh!“
Any further pronouncements from the demon were cut short by the axe buried in its forehead.
“Oh shut up,” Dawn told it, unnecessarily, as she put her foot on its chest and pulled on the axe to free it from the demon’s skull.
“Okay, guys, time for the last-ditch college try here,” Xander said, as he reached down and began pulling the artifact free of the framework holding it in place. “Peregrine falcons can sustain flight speed of better than one hundred miles an hour, so once I’m above ground, I’m putting the pedal to metal.”
Any protest any of the Scooby Gang wanted to voice died in their throats as they realized the seriousness of their situation. If the artifact opened the Hellmouth, invading demonic armies would be pouring out of the open portal before any effective military resistance could be mobilized.
With the demonic relic cradled in his arms, the first Scooby took off at top speed up the winding passages leading to the surface. Buffy immediately followed on his heels, but even with her Slayer speed was soon left behind as her fellow demon fighter tapped into the speed of a cheetah and leaped forward.
She made it to the surface barely in time to see her best male friend in the world rocketing upward into the sky, dwindling into the distance even as she watched. Her enhanced vision enabled her to keep track of him after a normal person would have lost sight of the youth, although anyone other than a completely blind person could see the sudden explosion that lit up even the daytime skies above the ocean waves lapping Sunnydale’s docks.
“We couldn’t even find a single identifiable part of him to bury,” Willow was lamenting for what seemed the fiftieth time in the last three hours.
The private wake the Scooby Gang had arranged for Xander Harris, on the third night after the explosion that had destroyed both the artifact and its carrier, had drawn a surprising number of mourners given the general ‘don’t notice anything weird’ atmosphere that seemed to always encompass the town and its environs, and the Gang was now trying to unwind and get rid of the residual tensions and emotional upset at the Summers house.
Cordy, Wes, Faith and Angel had surprised pretty much everyone present by showing up at the wake and had then accompanied the Scoobies back to the house.
Currently, everyone was occupied with remembering and relating various humorous or sentimental anecdotes regarding the now-deceased Scooby, so the knock on the backdoor went both unnoticed and unanswered for several minutes. It was only when the knocking effectively became hammering that Buffy broke off her fond recollections with Cordy and Faith about how nicely Xander had filled out his Speedos in junior year. Faith was holding out her hands a significant distance apart as she said something to Cordy, Buffy noticed as she went to answer the summons.
“Oh, you picked the absolutely *worst* possible time to try to impersonate one of my friends, you asshole!” the others in the house heard her exclaim heatedly. “Just hold on a minute, ‘til I get my sword and then I’ll be delighted to gut you!”
“NO! Hey, Buff, no gutting needed! None at all!” they heard what seemed to be a familiar voice responding, prompting something that closely resembled a cattle stampede to the back door.
By the time they arrived, the Slayer was in the process of trying to slice and dice a tall brunet youth in a blue buttondown shirt and jeans, who was jumping around the yard in a series of leaps and bounds that closely resembled a circus act to those watching, all the while shouting for the diminutive blonde to cease and desist her actions.
“And why should I?” Buffy demanded, even as she continued trying to shish-kabob the newcomer. “You show up here trying to impersonate a friend of ours who just died the other day, and you expect me to smile and invite you in for coffee?
“Stop jumping around like that, and let me kill you!” she snapped as the brunet managed to avoid another disemboweling stroke.
“Would you stop that?!” he yelled in frustration, as he leaped upward and grasped hold of one of the branches of the massive maple tree that normally shaded the side of the house, then pulled himself up and crouched on the branch. “I’m not dead!”
“Come down here, and you will be!” Buffy promised, as she stared at the intruder with a narrow-eyed expression that didn’t exactly radiate warmth and affection.
“Look, I’m really me! Xander Harris!” he shouted down at Buffy.
“It took me all this time to heal the damage from the blast,” he said, noting that the Slayer’s glare diminished only the slightest bit at his explanation. “I was spending most of my time floating around and absorbing nutrients from the ocean water like zooplankton and healing for the past two days. I couldn’t even walk until early this morning. That’s why I’m only showing up now.
“And there was kind of another minor, unintended side-effect that I found out about while I was healing up,” he added, looking over to the crowd of people now gathered on the back porch.
“Hey, Will, remember when I told you that I was replicating planarian healing, because I found that it was faster than salamander healing?” he called over to the redhead.
“Uh, yeah, Xand,” the redhead nodded her head affirmatively, her eyes now tentatively lighting up with happiness at the idea that her childhood friend was still alive. “Is there a problem?”
“Well, some people might think so,” he replied ambiguously as he dropped from the tree to the grass and turned towards the back gate, now that Buffy had apparently ceased her efforts to eviscerate him. “Okay, guys, come on in,” he shouted to someone in the shadows.
“Well, Will, remember what happens when you chop up a planarian?” he asked, as the back gate opened up and four more Xander Harrises stepped into the yard.
Faith had a huge and lecherous smile on her face gazing at the oncoming quartet.
“Looks like Christmas came early this year, guys… Dibs on the one with the leather pants!”
“I’ll take the one in the muscle shirt,” the Key proclaimed.
The redheaded witch promptly responded with, “I want the one in the yellow T-shirt.”
Dawn and Faith looked at her. “What happened to ‘Gay Now’?” Dawn finally blurted out.
“Bi now,” was Willow’s only response to the now floored inter-dimensional Key.
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, Pip,” Faith smirked as she slinked up to her chosen Harris. “It doubles your odds of getting a date on Saturday night.”
On reaching the leather-clad Xander, she immediately went flush against his front and grabbed his ass with both hands. “Hey, Viking-man, I’ve been a *bad* girl! Wanna do a full body cavity search?”
“Subtle, Faith!” Dawn commented as she took the muscle-shirt wearing Xander by the hand and started leading him into the house. “So, Xander, does daddy still like?”
“DAWN! What do you think you’re doing!” was Buffy’s outraged cry at her sister’s rather obvious intentions.
“Xander, duh!” Dawn snarked back. “You got your own; don’t be greedy!”
“I’ll find my own way back to the office, guys,” Cordy called back over her shoulder to her two partners and ignoring the others as she walked over and slid an arm around the Xander in the black golf shirt and jeans. “And I’m probably gonna take a couple days of vacation, too.”
Looking at Willow firmly, and what looked like permanently, wrapped in the yellow-shirt wearing Xander’s arms, Buffy sighed, finally gave up the ghost of control she had imagined she had over the situation, dropped her sword and took the blue shirted Xander standing close to her by the hand and responsibly started to lead him into the house for a lot of questions from those gathered for the carpenter’s wake.
All the time wondering where she put her little black raincoat, for the post-wake festivities.