I didn't write this. My brother did. For all that he is a shy, retiring soul unwilling to get his own frickin' account, he loves getting the feedback you delightful people leave him. So, to stay in his good graces, I'm happy to post this and forward any comments you care to leave. You don't even have to nag him to send me MY feedback, as he's getting caught up.Disclaimer:
All the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. All the characters, creatures, and details of Tremors
are the property of its writers, creators, producers, and other invested owners. No infringement is intended. No profit will be made. From Beneath You It Devours
Xander lay on the desert rock gazing up at the clear sky. He turned his head and saw his car a hundred feet away.
//Fully loaded 2005 GMC Canyon Truck?
Xander picked up a rock beside him, tossed it in the air a few inches, and caught it.
//GPS tracking system?
Xander tossed the rock ten feet away, onto the desert soil.
//Various weapons, cell phone, magical amulets that send an instant SOS when activated? ……… around $5,000.//
The ground around the thrown rock collapsed as three barbed tentacles pulled the rock underneath the earth.
//Being able to get to all that without getting eaten by a giant underground earthworm?
Xander sighed. “Bastard’s actually waiting me out.”
Xander stood up and slowly walked the perimeter of the rocky outcrop he has sought refuge on.
//Huh. Reminds me of the Sahara. Never thought I would miss it. I wonder how Sam is doing.//July 2003, Tunisia
“GODDAMMIT! STUPID PIECE OF SHIT RENTAL!”
Xander slammed the trunk shut on his rental car.
“What kind HALF ASS RENTAL COMPANY doesn’t put in a SPARE TIRE?”
Xander stalked around the car to the side of the road.
“Great. Just great. Barely two days into my great journey and I have to call Giles asking for help. After I give him the song and dance about how I can look after myself, and he’s so shorthanded he can’t afford to send anyone else. Crap. I should have just taken up Buffy’s offer to hand with her in Italy. But no, I had to strike out on my own.”
Xander looked up and saw a dust trail down the road approaching him.
“Yes!” Xander got up and began to flag the approaching car. The car slowed then pulled onto the side of the road, coming to a complete stop a few yards past Xander’s car.
“Thank you! Thank you! Seriously, I was afraid I was going to have to walk the rest of the way to town. Which of course meant that I was going to die of thirst along side the road on the way to town. So this is…. You don’t speak English, do you? That’s okay. I have my translation guide in the car. Just wait here until I get it. Be back in a jiff.” Xander said.
“I speak English. And I doubt you would die of thirst. The next town is only eight miles away.”
Xander stopped “Oh. Okay. That works.” Xander shifted uncomfortably under the man’s gaze. “So… I guess I can walk the rest of the way, since you’re headed in the other direction.”
Xander waited a moment, hoping the man would offer him a ride into town, but the man just silently studied Xander. “Glad we were able to clear that whole thing up then. Nice to meet you.”
Xander waved, but the man did not wave back. Xander turned to head down the road, the turned back.
“Say, you wouldn’t know a Sam Zabuto would you? Cause once I get to town, I need to look him up. And if you could give me directions to his -”
“I am Samuel Zabuto.” The man stated.
“You are? Great. Saves me the trouble of walking into town. And if I did, you had already left, so I’d be kinda screwed there. Unless you got back soon. So…. Anyways, I’m glad to meet you. Rupert Giles sent me. My name is-”
“You are Alexander Harris from Sunnydale. You are the friend of the Slayer Buffy Summers. Why are you here?”
“Oh, you know me huh? I go by Xander, just so you know. Can I call you Sam?”
Xander smiled nervously. Mr. Zabuto did not answer, but only stared at Xander.
“Or Samuel is fine…. We’ll just stick with Mr. Zabuto for now. So anyway, Giles is rebuilding the Watcher’s Council and he wants to contact all the surviving members of the old Council. So that brings me to you, since you’re a member of the old Council and… you’re not dead.” Xander explained.
Mr. Zabuto just shook his head. “I resigned from the Council five years ago. I want no part in a new Council.”
Xander stood flustered. “Oh…. Maybe I should have called first…. So I guess I go to the other names on the list…. Both of them.”
Mr. Zabuto sighed. “Get in the car. I’ll drive you into town, you can contact a tow service there.”Present Day, Nevada Desert
Xander watched the sun set over the horizon.
//Yup. It’s official. This week sucks. My vacation gets cut short, I find my mother and try to reconcile with her, then she takes off the moment I give her money to help her out. And I’m pretty sure the desert nights get below freezing, this time of year.//
Xander sat up and picked up a rock from the small pile beside him. He pitched the first rock a few feet in front of him. He picked up a second rock and tossed it a few feet past the first rock. Xander tossed the next rock a few feet further, bordering on the edge of the outcrop. Xander held his breath as he tossed the next rock. It landed on the soil a few feet past the outcrop.
Xander got up, holding a rock in each hand. He walked up to the edge of the outcrop. He tossed one rock, then the other just after onto the soil. The ground exploded as three tentacles burst out of the ground, flailing around.
Xander fell back and quickly scooted backwards.
“Bastard’s actually smart. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET ME! THINGS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO EAT ME SINCE HIGH SCHOOL! INCLUDING EVIL WORMS! I TOOK WORMGUY OUT AND I’LL TAKE YOU OUT TOO!”
Xander sat back down. “Just have to figure out how.”Tunisia
Xander rode in silence as Sam Zabuto drove the car.
Xander reached over to turn on the radio.
“It’s broken.” Sam said.
Xander dropped his hand.
After a couple of minutes Xander turned to Sam.
“So how did you recognize me?”
Sam looked to him.
“Earlier,” Xander said, “you knew my name. How did you know who I am?”
Sam turned his gaze back to the road.
“Kendra. She brought back pictures from her first trip to Sunnydale.”
Xander nodded. “Got it. From the first time she showed up. We took a bunch of pictures. Took them to one of those one hour developers. Not the second time ‘cause…. Yeah.”
The two men rode in silence for another mile. As the came to the town’s border, Xander turned back to Sam.
“You know, Giles is putting through a whole bunch of reforms. If there’s any specific policy you disagreed with-”
“Mr. Harris, I met Kendra when she was three years old. I became her guardian six months later. I raised her, taught her, trained her, and loved her like a daughter. The day she became a Slayer was the happiest I had ever seen her. It was also the day I had been most dreading for years. No. It was the second most dreaded day. The most dreaded day came one year later. I…. I will not go through that again. Don’t ask me to.”
Xander sat uncomfortably as he listened. “I’m sorry. I…. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Sam pulled the car around the corner. He pulled up to a shop, but the shutters were closed.
“Closed.” Sam said. “They close earlier on Sundays.”
Sam drove on past the shop. “I have an extra room. You may spend the night. In the morning, I’ll bring you back to the shop.”
Xander nodded. “Hey, man. You’re going out of your way here. And I appreciate that. Is there a good restaurant around here? I haven’t had anything since last night. My treat. Anything you want. I owe you for the ride and lace to sleep.”Nevada Desert
Xander shivered in the cold night air.
//Maybe I should just let this thing eat me. Even my own Mom doesn't want to have anything to do with me. Anya's long gone. Willow's out getting down with her bad witch self. Buffy has a whole world of semi evil Lotharios to date. Dawn's getting the full college life. Giles has been working non stop since Sunnydale to rebuild the Council. Cordy? Cordy's dead.//
//And me? Yeah. I did good work in Africa. But I've pretty much been wandering around doing assignments for Giles, while managing to avoid having a life for myself. What's the point?//
Xander couldn't ignore the pressure on his bladder anymore. He got up and walked to the upper edge of the outcrop. The ledge ended with a ten foot drop to the ground below. Xander unzipped his jeans and aimed at the ground below.
“Hey, wormy. Nature calls.”
Xander began urinating on the ground below. He sighed as he felt the pressure relief. After a few seconds, Xander saw the ground burst open. He smiled as he saw the tentacles wave around well out of reach.
“Don't eat any yellow sand.”
Xander finished, zipped up, and walked back down the outcrop. He sat on the ground and curled into fetal position.
//If this thing doesn't have the brains to avoid getting pissed on, then I know I can outsmart it. Just have to figure it out.//Tunisia
Xander ate his hamburger is silence. Sam Zabuto sat across the table from him and studied him as he ate.
When Xander was half finished, Sam finally spoke.
“She liked you.”
Xander looked up. “Kendra?” He asked.
Sam nodded. “She came back full of stories, excited to share them with me. She spoke of the red haired girl who seemed like a sister to the Slayer. She spoke of the tall rich girl who spent more time grudgingly assisting the Slayer, than socializing. And she spoke of you.”
Xander allowed himself a grin. “Yeah. I kinda got the idea she didn't hang out with teenage boys much.”
Sam nodded. “It was... difficult sometimes. I had to train her constantly. And we moved frequently. Both of us were so ingrained with the idea that the Slayer must work alone, that it never occurred to either of us to act otherwise. After she returned from the Hellmouth, all she could talk about was the people that worked with the Slayer. She mentioned you most of all. And she often blushed as she did so.”
Xander gazed at Sam as he spoke. He could sense the sadness mixed with pride in his voice. He wondered if he would ever be able to speak about Anya the way Sam spoke about Kendra. When Sam finished, Xander felt he had to speak, to prevent the silence from falling again. There was only one thing he knew Sam would want to hear.
“She went down fighting.”
Sam looked up in surprise.
“Buffy went to fight Angelus. But it was a trap. His whole gang attacked the library. There were vampires everywhere. I fought briefly, but... I heard more than felt my arm break. Then the pain hit, and I got knocked down. Willow got a bookshelf knocked on her, that took her out. Giles was knocked out and kidnapped. But Kendra? She just kept fighting. She must have taken out half the gang. I think the only reason they left the rest of us alive, was because she had done so much damage to them that they wanted to get back to safety as soon as possible.”
Xander paused. He knew the next part would be the hardest. “She.... There was this vampire named Drusilla.”
“I know of her.” Sam said.
“Then you know that hypnotic shit she can do. She walked up while Kendra was staking a couple of other vamps. Drusilla did that locking eyes thing. I've seen her up close once. That gave me nightmares for awhile. Kendra just stopped, transfixed. I was across the room on the ground with a clear view. I couldn't move either, and I wasn't even the focus. Then Drusilla slit her throat, and Kendra went down. She was dead in seconds. I don't think she even felt a thing.”
Xander had focused on his plate as he spoke. He knew he would be unable to give his account looking directly at Sam. When he finished, Xander looked up and saw Sam wipe his eyes.
Sam took a moment to collect himself, then turned back to Xander.
“You've lost people too?” Sam asked.
“Yeah. Jesse was the first. We never talked about him after it happened. Then others. Usually someone else was much closer to them. But it still hurt. The last was Anya. She was..... She was special. And I think I'm the only person who really knew exactly how special she really was.”
“Call me Xander.”
Sam stopped. “Alexander is a fine name. It means Defender of Mankind. I think I prefer to call you that. If you don't object.”
Xander smiled. “Yeah, sure. When I grew up and people called my Alexander, they said it in a tone that meant dumbass. But I like the way you say it.”
“Alexander, may I ask you a personal question?”
“Why are you doing this. After all you have lost, all you've done, you can walk away, and no one would think the less of you.”
“Um... wow. I never really thought about it.” Xander looked around. “It's just.... I watched Buffy struggle with being a Slayer for years. Faith too. And Kendra. And the girls at Sunnydale at the end. And the one thing I got was that it was such a big thing, no one could possibly do it alone.
“Even without any special abilities or skills, I know I helped Buffy. Sometimes with research, sometimes in a fight. Fixing windows or making sure her favorite ice cream is stocked in the freezer. Even just giving her an encouraging word when she's done.
“When the Slayer activation spell was cast in Sunnydale, we had no idea how many girls would be affected. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of girls out there who have had there lives changed in an instant. And the one thing I'm sure of is that every single one of them could use some help.
“I guess, in the end.... I just want to help.”
Sam looked thoughtfully at Xander. He looked down at the empty plates before them.
“Right. Dinner was very good. Thank you. We should get back to my quarters. I'm sure you'll want to head out early tomorrow.” Nevada
In the morning Xander got up and worked the kinks out of his back.
//Okay, I'm only going to get one shot at this. I better make it count.//
Xander stretched his limbs until, the muscles felt loose enough. He pulled out his canteen, and walked up the outcrop to the far ledge. He opened the canteen and set it on the edge, pulled out the strap on the canteen and placed a heavy rock on the strap's end.
Xander then slowly walked to the other end of the outcrop, taking care to step softly enough, that his steps made no noise on the rock. When he reached to end closest to his truck, he stopped and turned.
Xander hefted the small rock in his hand. He drew back his arm, took aim, and threw the rock. The rock sailed and hit the canteen in the center, knocking it over the edge. The canteen fell two feet, then stopped, the strap connecting it tight, with the other end of the strap held down by the rock. The water drained out of the canteen hitting the ground, splashing loudly.
Xander heard the ground on the other side of the outcrop break open and the tentacles swishing in the air.
Xander slowly, and as quietly as possible, stepped off the outcrop and began tiptoeing towards his car.
//Please let this work.//
Xander had gotten about twenty feet from the outcrop, when the canteen ran dry. Xander paused. He heard the awful borrowing sound from the other side of the outcrop.
Xander broke out into a run. He tuned his head, and caught a glimpse of a upswelling of the soil coming towards him.
Xander sprinted, pulling the keys to his truck out of his pocket. He tuned his head and saw the upswelling gaining fast. The sound of his heart beat and breathing thundered in his head.
//C'mon, you can make it!//
Xander turned back and put as much speed into his run as he could. He heard the ground breaking behind him.
Xander saw a glimpse of light just ahead. He ran past a metal object. He spared a look backwards as he passed. Just as he turned, he saw the full body of the creature burst out of the ground barely five feet from him. Xander forced himself not to stumble as he jumped, barely avoiding the barbed tentacles that shot from its mouth.
Xander barely turned back, when the explosion boomed, knocking him off his feet.Tunisia
Xander awoke, showered, and dressed early the next morning. He headed to the main room and saw Sam was already up.
“Hey. Thanks for the room again. I guess we go to the towing place. What time do they open?” Xander asked.
Sam shook his head. “You can call the rental agency from the road. They can pick up the car if they want it. We need to get moving. I want to be in the next town by lunchtime. There is a Shaman who we should talk to. We can go over you list on the way. I have a few names to add.”
Sam hefted a bag and headed out the door. He turned and saw Xander standing still.
“What are you waiting for, Alexander? There is much work to do.”
Xander quickly grabbed his bag and followed Sam.
“Um... not that I'm complaining, but I thought you didn't want any part of this?”
Sam shrugged. “I guess I just needed to hear a good reason. It's been a long time, since I truly had a cause to get behind.”
Xander stopped. “Sam? Are you all right?”
Sam looked up. He gave a sad smile. “I'm going to be. Now tell me. How long did Mr. Giles send you here for?”
“A couple of weeks. Maybe a month, if I need it.”
Sam chuckled. “It will take longer than a month. Alexander, prepare to see Africa. We have much to do.”
“I guess we do, Mr. Zabuto.”
“Please, call me Sam.”Nevada
Xander looked around in a fog, his ears ringing. He stumbled to his feet, his legs swaying. As his vision cleared, he saw an older man in a truckers cap walking towards him.
“What in the hell did you think you were doing? That Grabboid can outrace a horse.”
Xander shook his head. “Wha?”
“Stupid kid. Shouldn't have even stopped in the first place. I hope you have a change of clothes.”
Xander looked down, and realized he was covered in bloody chunks of the worm creature that had been chasing him. He looked back up at the stranger.
“Who are you?”
“The name's Burt Gummer. And I'm the man that just saved you from being wormfood. Literally. Didn't you see the warning sign?”
Xander looked around. He saw the rest of the worm's body twenty feet away. The surrounding area was littered with chunks of the creature.
Xander looked back up at Burt. “Sign? What sign?”
Burt sighed. “The sign that says 'No Stopping, Dangerous Animals in Area.' By the highway marker.”
Burt pointed behind him. Xander strained to see where Burt was pointing.
“I don't see a sign. All I see is a bunch of broken ground with a small hole.”
Burt turned around. “Son of a bitch. Damn things are learning.”
Xander spotted his keys on the ground and picked them up. Burt turned back around and took time to examine Xander.
“You look shook up. Are you all right?” Burt asked.
Xander stopped and thought.
//I made it through. Damn thing couldn't get me after all. And I still have a Slayer to meet in LA.//
Xander smiled. “I'm going to be.”FINIS