I asked all of you out there to submit to me a bunch of ideas for things that could happen or become true for Xander. Then I used a random number generator and the AXIS (Alternate Xander Idea Selector - thanks, learnedhand_dj) to choose three random consecutive episodes and three random ideas, and I wrote a story based on those ideas.
Authors: please feel not only free, but actively encouraged to attempt your own Great Random Xander Story, using the AXIS listed above. I can tell you from personal experience, it's actually kind of fun and a very interesting writing exercise. Writing a story where you know at least two more major changes are coming but you don't know what they are going to be or when they will occur is pretty wacky. Try it out, and be sure to share your results with the rest of us!
This is the first attempt at that story, but will not be the last, so keep submitting your ideas. (We're up to about 150, I believe. New goal is 200!) First chapter and author notes can be found here
On with the story:
One of the features of the Magic Box that had convinced Rupert Giles to purchase the establishment was the large back room. The previous owner had not even used it for storage -- there was large basement for that -- and so it had gone entirely unused. He had decided to use the space as Buffy and Faith’s training area. The fact that Xander’s lab already housed a much more advanced training space was immaterial to him. This would be the official training space, the one he as Watcher had chosen.
To his unstated and yet deep satisfaction, Buffy and Faith had accepted this new space without a question. While they still trained on their own in Xander’s lab, they came here when they were to learn from him. It was nice to know that he did not have to compete with Xander for Buffy’s attention in that regard, at least.
Today, however, the space was not set up for training the Cruciamentum-enhanced Buffy or the cyborg Faith. The training mats, free weights, chin-up bar, and other equipment had all been pushed to one side by the aforementioned Slayers. An intricate circular design had been drawn out in a special paint made of the blood of a male virgin (Giles had not asked Jonathan where he’d acquired such blood, but he suspected it had not been at all difficult for the shy young man) with a crushed mixture of unicorn hair and essence of gurlap. The design was the Rotating Eye of Myrrdh, and would bind any force of vengeance called within its center.
In theory, anyway.
The actual summoning of the demon Anyanka was something that Giles had discovered months ago, but it was not the summoning that concerned him. There was no telling how powerful this Anyanka might be, and without the proper binding spells, she might unleash untold power on them in return for being summoned. Demons were quite notorious for destroying (or worse) unwary summoners.
Still, he was relatively certain that this would work. They had spent months researching, and he had a great deal of confidence in the young minds that had assisted him in that task. Willow, Jonathan, and now Tara were all well versed in the mystical, and each had verified the accuracy of the design. He would trust their judgments as surely as he would trust those of the Devon Coven.
“We’re almost ready,” Giles said as he looked over the ancient tome in his hands. “Remember, once the demon is summoned, it will be trapped within the Eye. It shouldn’t be able to hurt any of us, nor use its power in any way, but it will still be able to speak. Don’t let it rile you. It may attempt to turn us against each other.”
“Fat chance of that,” Faith said from her position against the wall. She was sitting against it with her legs sprawled out in front of her, and was idly reconfiguring her arm from one mode to another. Green light sparked across her forearm and hand with each new configuration as she changed from normal hand, to chain-blade, to cannon, and then another dozen configurations that Giles could not even recognize. Giles hoped she wasn’t in the habit of cycling through configurations when she was out in the world. The last thing she needed to do was change her arm into a directed plasma cannon or whatever nonsensical thing Xander had designed into her that week.
“Yeah, we’ll be fine,” Buffy said. She was also sitting against the wall, but she had her knees propping up a textbook and a notebook, and was scribbling away as the others set up. He was glad to see her doing homework, but he wasn’t sure he liked that she could find no other time to do it. “We’re all super bondy right now.”
Giles supposed she was right. He glanced over to Willow and Tara, who had spent most of the last two hours talking quietly amongst themselves. He did not have to guess at what they were discussing.
Tara’s family had arrived at the shop earlier that afternoon, but they had not remained for very long. Willow, who had been suspicious of just where Tara had ever gotten the idea that she was part demon, had almost immediately asked Tara’s father if she was actually a demon.
“No,” he’d replied. “That’s just something we tell the women so they won’t use their magic on us. It helps us keep them in line. I don’t trust any woman I can’t control, and I’m terrified that my daughter will someday use her power against me. I have to keep her afraid of it and afraid of me.”
It had taken quite a lot to keep Faith from breaking the man’s nose after that, and Giles still wasn’t sure if they’d done the right thing by just letting him leave. If ever a man deserved a good thrashing, it was Tara’s father.
Still, Buffy was right in that the event had helped to solidify the familial nature of their group. Tara need not worry about losing her father or brother. She had them, and as far as Giles was concerned, she was much better off as a result.
“So is this going to be like a real devil demon thingy with horns and a pitchfork?” Dawn asked. She was sitting beside her sister, and her look of perpetual boredom was temporarily replaced by one of curious fascination.
Buffy had insisted that Dawn remain close by, more for her own protection than because she wanted Dawn there. Buffy had told him all about Glorificus and the monk’s claim that Dawn was not real. He found the idea quite remarkable, but not at all impossible. It concerned him to think years worth of memories about Buffy’s little sister were manufactured by some powerful magic, but it was not unthinkable. Such power did exist, and it was not all demonic. If the monk’s story was true, if Dawn was an actual flesh and blood human -- with a soul, no less -- then her creation was almost by definition a miracle. That was incredibly significant.
So while he didn’t approve of Dawn being there for a demon summoning, he understood and was forced to agree with Buffy’s decision to keep Dawn close. If this Glorificus came after Dawn, Buffy needed to be close by.
“She’ll probably look pretty human,” Jonathan said as he put the finishing touches on the Eye. “There are some pictures in the Book of Bloody Vengeance if you want to see.”
“Ooh, yeah,” Dawn said eagerly.
“No way,” Buffy said, not even looking up from her homework. “You won’t sleep for a week.”
“I’m going to see it when it gets summoned,” Dawn countered. “Who cares if I see what it looks like in the book first?”
“No you’re not,” Buffy said. “Because you’re going to close your eyes and cover your ears when we do it.”
“What? No I’m not!”
“Yes you are, Dawn! I’m not letting my baby sister get her soul ripped out by some sweet-talking demon!”
“I won’t get my soul ripped out! I’m not going to actually listen to it, I just want to see it.”
“Not happening. I will zap you into the MCD first.”
Dawn’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t!”
“I’ll tell Mom!”
“You’ll tell her afterwards,” Buffy said smugly. “And that’s if I put your molecules back the right way.”
“I hate you,” Dawn snarled, then crossed her arms to pout. “You never let me have any fun.”
“I’m just keeping you safe,” Buffy said absently as she went back to scribbling in her notebook. “You’ll thank me for it someday.”
“Only if that day is opposite day,” Dawn muttered.
“Can someone get the door for Xander?” Buffy said. Her eyes never left her work.
“What?” Dawn asked. “What are you--”
There came a knock on the door, and Giles opened it to find Xander on the other side. He was holding four long devices, each about four feet in height and very thin. He was having difficulty holding them all.
“How did you know he was there?” Dawn asked suspiciously.
“Slayer sense,” Buffy said dismissively. Dawn frowned at her, but did not seem to fully accept this explanation.
“Xander,” Giles said by way of greeting.
“Giles,” Xander said, nodding at him. “Uh, a little help?”
Giles grabbed one of the devices just before it slipped from Xander’s grasp. “And these are?”
“Ultra-dimensional flux radiation detectors,” he said as he stepped inside. “I figured I could set them up before you do your whole summon thing. I have this theory about demonic energy actually being a kind of flux radiation existing in the sixteenth ultra-dimension, and I want to test it.”
“As long as it does not in any way penetrate the Eye,” Giles said, pointing to the diagram on the floor.
“Absolutely no eye-poking,” Xander said. “I promise. It’s a totally passive scan.”
Giles sighed. “All right, then.”
“Great! Hey, Dawn, you want to help me set these up?”
Dawn, who was still sulking, shrugged her shoulders at him. “Not really.”
“Come on,” he coaxed. “It’s possible I miscalculated the amplitudinal gain on the pattern buffers which could lead to spontaneous genetic alteration of anyone handling the detector. We’re talking potential superpowers here. You’ll be kicking yourself when you can’t actually kick yourself on account of how you missed out on the opportunity to get all Mr. Fantastic.”
Dawn glanced up at him. “They can’t really do that.”
“No, but setting them up does induce massive depression in the pizzaxionic membrane deep in the cerebral cortex. The only cure is pizza and ice cream, and it would be my scientific obligation to cure anyone suffering from such an ailment by taking them to Giordino’s for an extra-cheese-extra-pepperoni-extra-all-t
Dawn gave him a sideways glance. “Really?”
“Only one way to find out,” he said tantalizingly.
“Okay, fine. What do I do?”
“Just put one of these in the corner, then press these three buttons. When the green light comes on, press these two buttons.”
While Dawn and Xander set up his devices, Giles looked over the diagram one more time. “I think we’re ready. Willow? Tara? If you would take your positions.”
The two girls nodded and got up to kneel around the diagram. Jonathan took up a similar position so that the three of them formed an inverted triangle, which would help to bolster the power of the Eye.
Giles stood in the center of the triangle and just before the eye. He placed a goblet and several bags and bowls of powders and herbs in front of him, and then knelt down before them. He placed a pouch of Vermin’s Root into the goblet, then carefully lit the end of the pouch.
“All set,” Xander said as he finished setting up his devices. He joined Buffy, Faith, and Dawn at the wall. Buffy gave him a brief kiss on the cheek as a greeting.
“All right,” Giles said, taking a deep breath. “This is it. Remember, pay no heed to anything it says.”
“We’ll be totally heedless,” Buffy said. She looked over to Dawn. “Right?”
Dawn sighed and covered her ears with her hands. “Right.”
Buffy nodded resolutely. Giles took another deep breath.
“Very well. Let’s begin.”
Buffy groaned and rolled over onto her side. She clutched her pillow tightly to her chest, grit her teeth, and then let it go. With a frustrated sigh, she rolled onto her back and let her arms spread wide. It was just too quiet. How was she supposed to sleep? Every time she closed her eyes, her mind would just start working a mile a minute. She couldn’t relax. She couldn’t just float through his thoughts and let the peaceful tranquility of his imagination lead her into those beautiful dreams of discovery.
With another sigh, Buffy glanced over to the clock by her bedside. It was nearly four in the morning, and she was still tossing and turning. Just a few hours earlier, she had been seriously thinking about temporarily moving back in with her mom and sister. With that crazy Glorificus woman possibly after Dawn, Buffy didn’t like the idea of leaving her alone. But how was she supposed to protect Dawn if she was exhausted because Xander wasn’t around to help her fall asleep?
Buffy sat up and swung her legs over the side of her bed. She groaned again and rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands.
How pathetic was she, anyway? One night without Xander’s mind to focus on, and suddenly she was an insomniac. One night by herself, and she felt so out of sorts that she half-thought she might be going through some kind of actual physical withdrawal.
She wasn’t. At least, she was pretty sure she wasn’t. Xander had ruled out physical addiction to his mind months ago, and she’d seen the scans to back that up. No, it wasn’t a physical need she had, it was just a mental one. She had heard of old couples married for thirty or forty years, and how any kind of forced separation made it difficult for the other to sleep. That’s what this felt like.
But she was only nineteen years old! She and Xander had been dating for hardly a year, and had only lived together for a few months. She wasn’t supposed to get all antsy and uncomfortable when she had to sleep by herself. She’d slept by herself for eighteen years. She could handle it for one night.
Except she couldn’t. This just wasn’t going to work. She hadn’t realized just how relaxed Xander’s mind allowed her to get each night, and she needed that relaxation. She needed to be able to sink into that peaceful slumber his mind would always allow her to drift into. Without it, the stresses of the day, the stresses of her life, the stresses of being Buffy the Vampire Slayer would start to eat away at her.
At least the curse-breaking had worked. It had all been pretty easy, actually, and Buffy wasn’t sure why they hadn’t done it months ago. The demon Anyanka had turned out to be a real pushover. Destroying her power center -- the green pendant around her neck -- had been extremely easy for Faith to do with one perfectly aimed shot. Just like that, the curse was lifted, and Buffy Summers no longer had to worry about her friends learning every aspect of her increasingly kinky sex life.
Hmm. Maybe that was why she was having a hard time sleeping. She and Xander usually had at least a good-night blowjob before going to sleep, if not actual sex. It was usually the blowjob, mostly because it was easier and less tiring, and they both got equal amounts of pleasure out of it. Buffy had never been completely against the idea of oral sex before, but being able to feel everything Xander felt meant she was an enthusiastic participant these days. She was very glad that she would no longer be forced to tell Willow that she was the one who suggested sucking Xander’s penis more than he did.
Of course, he didn’t have to suggest it. He just had to think about it, and she really wanted to hear him think about it just then. There was just nothing like feeling his arousal mix with her own arousal. There was something so primal to it, especially when that lust was directed at her.
Buffy slumped back down onto the bed and began to gently knead at her breast with one hand. She closed her eyes and pretended Xander was there. He loved her breasts.
Well, he loved all breasts. But when they were in bed and he was playing with hers, he loved hers with the kind of needful passion that Buffy had once thought was only true in fairy tales. She could lie back and bask in not only the sensation of his hands on her, but of the absolutely mesmerizing effect her breasts had on him. The power her body held over him was intoxicating, and the power his mind held over her was equally exciting. It would just loop around and around until she would be so horny she could hardly speak.
Buffy whimpered softly as one hand slid down between her legs. This would be her third time masturbating tonight. It just wasn’t satisfying enough. She needed to feel Xander plunging inside of her, deep and tight and full all at the same time. She needed to experience that wonderful climax when he came, and she got to feel not only her own orgasm, but his as well. Then she could crawl up beside him, lay her head down on his chest, close her eyes, and listen to his thoughts as she fell asleep.
It didn’t take her long to bring herself off, but as she had predicted, it could not satisfy her: not when she had to cover her face with a pillow and clamp her mouth shut to keep from making a sound. And it certainly couldn’t satisfy her when she knew just how much better it could be.
Still, while it didn’t satisfy her mind, it did serve to tire out her body, at least temporarily. Buffy lay in bed, panting and with her t-shirt pulled up over her breasts as her mind drifted over half a dozen things. She thought about the perfect shot Faith had made, shattering Anyanka’s power center and curing Willow’s curse once and for all. She thought about how happy she had been when she told Willow she was a nine-foot tall purple dinosaur with wings. She thought about the tiny twinge of regret she felt from knowing that she could never bring herself to be as open with Willow as the curse had made her ever again.
She thought about the joy of knowing she could finally do more of the things that she and Xander dreamed about, and not have to worry about telling Willow what they did. Her private life was actually going to be private again.
They could go out more often, and maybe they wouldn’t just go to the Bronze anymore. They could go to Los Angeles. They could go to the clubs that Buffy had heard about; the ones where it would be easier to find girls willing to join them for a night of fun. They could try new things; things that Buffy wanted, and things that Xander wanted. Maybe she could finally get him to agree to get some of those toys she wanted to try.
Buffy grinned to herself in the dark. She felt so naughty, but she also felt adventurous and oddly adult. She didn’t have to be embarrassed anymore. What she did, what she wanted, what she was willing -- eager, really -- to do for and with Xander was no longer something she had to share with any one but him. She had to remember to suggest a few more augmentations for him. If she was going to be giving him oral sex all the time, then it wouldn’t hurt if he tasted a little better, now would it?
Strawberries. That would be nice. He loved to watch her swallow, and she loved the taste of strawberries.
“Mmmm,” Buffy hummed to herself as her eyelids fluttered closed. In her mind, she was already sculpting Xander’s body.
She finally fell asleep while thinking of inches, muscles, volume, and stamina. Oh yes. Definitely lots and lots of stamina.
“I just wish we had a better idea of what we’re dealing with,” Willow said as she tossed another book onto the pile. “It feels like we’re going in circles.”
Almost the entire gang was gathered in the Magic Box. There were well over twenty books spread out on the table, but none of them held any information that was of any use to them whatsoever. Willow was getting very frustrated. It wasn’t even like they were searching for “that which must not be named” anymore. They knew the name they were looking for, and they were still finding very little.
“We’re not entirely circly,” Xander said in a subdued voice. Beside him, her head resting on his shoulder and a serene smile on her face, was a sleeping Buffy Summers. She had sworn that this time she would actually help research instead of falling asleep, but within minutes she was snoring softly against Xander. Xander claimed she was having trouble sleeping lately, but Willow wasn’t so sure she believed that.
She knew that Buffy had moved back in with her mom and sister, but she also knew more about Buffy than even Xander did. There was no way she kept falling asleep during the day because she was having trouble sleeping. No, she must be doing some crazy new kinky thing every night.
Willow wondered what it was. Buffy’s sex life was already sick and wild and kind of scary. What was she getting up to now that she didn’t have to tell Willow all about it? God, it must be so nasty.
She wished she knew what it was.
No. That wasn’t true. She didn’t wish for that. It was nice, being free of the curse. It was nice to be able to spend time with the people she loved without being bombarded by information she neither wanted nor needed to here.
And she didn’t want to hear it. Why would she ever want to hear about where Buffy had stuck her tongue when she was in bed with some girl she’d just met? She might be a lesbian, but she wasn’t into that kind of stuff. It was gross. She had no idea how Buffy could ever do such a thing, and she was probably doing even crazier stuff now that she was free from the curse.
That was why she was so exhausted every morning. It had to be.
She just wanted to know for sure, that was all. It would get rid of the nagging thoughts in the back of her mind that kept coming up with things that Buffy might be doing. Horrible, nasty, kinky, terrible, dirty, totally disgusting things that Willow wanted no part of.
“We don’t know anything except her name and the fact that she’s a hellgod,” Jonathan said. “And I still don’t believe that part.”
“We know a lot more than that,” Xander said. “We know the precise quantum oscillation of her inverted Dawnitron output and how that would interact within our subspatial hyper-plane. I can tell you with ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine-nine-ni
“Mmmm,” Buffy murmured, never opening her eyes. “Xaaaaanderrr...”
“Ugh, I think she’s dreaming of you,” Dawn said. She was leafing through one of the books and looked very, very bored. Buffy had insisted she come along for the research session, mostly because Buffy refused to let Dawn out of her sight for very long. Willow wasn’t sure what Buffy expected to do to protect her when she was too busy sleeping off her wild sex romps to actually pay attention to potential danger, but she wasn’t about to say that to Buffy’s face.
“All of that’s great for you, Xander, but we need to know real stuff about her,” Willow said. “She’s a hellgod. We’re going to need to know the right kind of magic to get rid of her.”
“I don’t know, I’m pretty sure if we crash her proton cube she’ll be crushed by our universe and cease to exist,” Xander said. “I’ve done the math five times. It’s pretty solid.”
“Xander, you know your stuff never works on the really powerful demons, and this one is like a billion times stronger than anything we ever fought. Don’t you think it’d be better if we found some real information on her?”
“Oh, because my data is imaginary?”
“Sh-she just means we need, um, m-more relevant information,” Tara said diplomatically. “Right, Willow?”
Willow calmed herself down a little at the look Tara gave her. She took a deep breath and nodded. “Yeah. That’s all I meant. Relevant magic information.”
“Don’t worry, X,” Faith said, leaning towards Xander. “I’ll blast her with my new beam cannon next time I see her. Can’t hurt to try, right?”
“Not, uh, statistically speaking,” Xander said. He cleared his throat.
“Xander?” Willow said, rising an eyebrow at him. “Is this one of those things that might reverse fusion in the sun or something?”
“No, that’s just the transluminoscope,” Xander said, brushing off her concern. “The particle beam cannon can’t do anything really bad. Not unless there’s a sudden spike in Tara-radiation, but the chances of that are roughly seventy-nine-trillion-to-one.”
“T-tara radiation?” Tara asked, blushing slightly. “W-what’s that?”
“Technically it’s a particle wave originating from outside our current space time. My current theory is that it’s produced by the destruction of what I’m calling micro-realities. I’ll know more next week. I just discovered them yesterday.”
“Oh. And you named them...”
“Uh, yeah. Is that okay? I name stuff after my friends.”
“You never named anything after me,” Jonathan pointed out.
“What? What about the Jonathan Effect?”
“What’s that?” Jonathan asked.
“The, uh,” Xander said slowly. He looked up and then said, “The tendency for naturalized extra-dimensional distortion waves to interact cleanly with a positively charged ionic membrane, resulting in little to no resonance in atomic frequency.”
“Mmmm,” Buffy moaned.
“You just made that up!” Jonathan exclaimed.
“What? No I didn’t!”
Jonathan gave him a serious look.
“Okay, okay, fine, maybe I did, but I just realized it was true and it needs a name, so it’s called the Jonathan Effect. Happy?”
“Is that really true?”
“If I may,” Giles said. Having just finished making a sale, he was looking somewhat pleased with himself. “Perhaps we can discuss Xander’s naming predilections another time? The threat of Glorificus is possibly an urgent one. This is not something we--”
He was interrupted by Faith suddenly jumping to her feet. A green spark exploded over her arm as she switched configurations. A gleaming silver cannon appeared to jut out of her forearm, and she had it leveled directly at Giles.
“F-Faith?” Giles said, raising his hands tentatively. “W-what are you doing?”
“Get out of the way, Giles,” she said, eyes narrowing. Giles frowned at her, then stepped to one side and turned to look behind him. Willow’s eyes widened as she recognized the beautiful young woman standing behind him. She had seen that face on the visual data from Faith’s encounter with her a few weeks ago.
“I want these,” Glorificus said, holding up a few items from the shop. She gave Giles a serious, not-to-be-trifled-with look. Giles seemed at a total loss for words as he slowly backed away from her. “Hello? This is the part where you say the price and I give you the money so I can get out of here sometime today!”
Giles continued to back slowly away. Glorificus’ expression turned to that of a pouting frown, and she narrowed her eyes at him. “Why are you acting like my minions? I hate my minions. They’re so...”
She trailed off as she looked past him and to the others. Her eyes locked with Faith’s. “Hey! I know you! You’re that stupid Slayer who buried me under a building!” She grinned and carefully placed the items she wanted to purchase on the counter behind her, then cracked her knuckles as she moved towards Faith. “This is going to be fun. I’ve been wanting to hear you scream for mercy for wee--”
Willow shrieked in spite of herself at the sudden explosion that seemed to go off right beside her. A tremendous beam of pure white light burst out of Faith’s arm-cannon and struck Glorificus directly in the chest. Books, trinkets, and spell ingredients fell from the shelves as the entire building shook with the force of the blast. Faith was propelled backwards and slammed into the wall behind her, and Buffy woke with a start, confused and bewildered by the sudden noise.
Strangely, Glorificus was not blown backwards by the impact of the beam. Instead, she stood in the same spot and stared down at herself. Her entire body was glowing with white light. She began to shake, and then looked up to stare in shock at Faith.
“What did you to do me, you bitch?”
Her shaking intensified. Glorificus screamed and dropped down to her knees. The shaking became so fierce that the entire building was vibrating with her. The glass in the window shattered as more trinkets crashed from the shelves. Glorificus reached up as if she were fighting to hold back some tremendous weight. A horrible dull droning sound began to echo through the room.
The white light exploding from Glorificus’ body was suddenly framed by a black orb of pure darkness. Her shaking ceased, and she knelt in a frozen position on the floor. Her eyes stared up at the gang. Her lips parted.
The black orb engulfed her, and an instant later the white light became so bright that they all had to cover their eyes.
When Willow could see again, Glorificus was gone. In her place was a young man curled up in the fetal position. He was shaking, covered in sweat, and was wearing Glorificus’ dress.
“Gone,” he gasped. “She’s gone. Impossible. I-It’s not possible.”
“Did I get her?” Faith asked with a groan as she picked herself up off the floor.
“Nope,” Xander said, puffing his chest out a little. “This time, I got her. Directed Dawnitron particle beam cannon, baby! Take that, magic!”
“Oh thank God,” Buffy said as she slumped back down into her chair. “I can finally get some sleep.”
It was a warm Saturday afternoon, and Rupert Giles was relaxing with a nice cup of tea and one of his favorite books. It was the third such weekend he had been able to have in as many weeks. After the rather simple defeat of Glorificus, life in Sunnydale had settled into a quiet -- but not too quiet -- routine. The level of demonic and vampiric activity in Sunnydale had not changed, but Buffy and Faith were far too adept at dealing with them. Vampires hardly even registered as a threat anymore. Buffy could deal with almost any threat thanks to her plasma-blade, MCD, or the old-fashioned steel sword she kept in her watch, and Faith had dozens of different configurations, each designed to deal with one type of demon or another.
So things were going relatively well. Willow was no longer cursed, which meant that Giles was not forced to overhear details about Buffy and Xander’s sex life. Likewise, he was no longer compelled to tell Willow the truth of his own sexlife -- or the distinct lack thereof, unfortunately.
Yes, he had gone on a few dates here and there since Jenny had died, but none of them ever truly worked out. For a time, he had thought he might return to England and make a new life for himself there, but the need to find a cure for Willow’s curse had kept him here. Now he had the Magic Box, and he was excited at the possibility of being more than just Buffy’s Watcher.
Perhaps now that he would not be telling Willow every detail of his personal life, he could focus more on meeting someone. As he had admitted to Willow on more than one occasion, he often fantasized about asking Buffy’s mother out on a date. She was a lovely woman, Joyce was, but he also knew that it would make Buffy extremely uncomfortable if they were to date. Besides, he had no idea if Joyce would even accept. After all, he was the strange older man who insisted that her oldest daughter engage in a nightly war against all things demonic. He wasn’t sure Joyce was particularly enamored of him.
Giles sighed and leaned back in his comfortable chair. Why couldn’t he just be happy about the relative peace in which they were now living? Not everything had to be about romance and sex. Couldn’t he just enjoy his life?
A heavy knocking on his front door startled Giles out of his thoughts. He sat up straight and carefully folded a bookmark into his book before setting it aside. “Yes? Who is it?”
“Open the door!” a female voice called through the heavy door. Giles frowned. He didn’t recognize it. He took a quick glance out the window just to be sure it was still a sunny day outside, then shrugged and opened the door.
There was an attractive young woman standing on the doorstep. She was in her early twenties at most, and had shoulder length brown hair. She stood stiffly and awkwardly, as if she were not quite used to it. Her hands were fidgeting as she looked up at him.
“Oh, good. She said this was where you lived.”
Giles frowned at the young woman. “She?”
“The information lady on the telephone.”
“I’m sorry,” Giles said, shaking his head slightly as he peered down at the woman. “Do I know you?”
“Yes,” the woman said. She brushed past him and entered his apartment without invitation. Perplexed, Giles followed after her.
“E-excuse me, but it’s rather rude to simply go barging into someone’s home without an invitation,” he said.
The woman turned and glared at him. “You can’t invite me. I might be a vampire and then I would kill you.”
“Yes, of course. How foolish of me.”
“So,” the woman said, standing in the center of his apartment and still standing in that awkward way of hers. “How are you going to make it up to me?”
“Make what up to you? I don’t even know who you are.”
“Make up for ruining my life?” the woman said as if it were obvious. “Costing me my job and all my friends? Killing me?”
“I beg your pardon? Kill you?”
“You might as well have!” the woman exclaimed. “I’ve got hardly sixty years left, and that’s not even counting getting hit by a bus or something!”
“P-perhaps we could start at the beginning,” Giles suggested. “Why don’t we start with your name?”
“Anyanka,” the woman said, crossing her arms. Then she scowled and added, “Or just Anya now.”
Giles’ mouth opened slowly in surprise. He took one slow step back as he examined the pretty young woman. The last time he had seen Anyanka, it had been just before Faith shattered her power center. Then there had been a flash of light, and she was gone. She had certainly not looked at all like this attractive woman standing before him. She had been a demon through and through. This woman looked like she belonged as a freshman in college, not a demon destroying the lives of all those she came into contact with.
He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and examined her a little more intently. Yes, he could see it now. There was a resemblance there. It was as if this girl, this young woman, was the human equivalent of that terrible demon.
“Good lord,” Giles whispered. “You really are her.” He quickly pointed his watch at her. “Stay back!”
Anya rolled her eyes at him. “I’m not going to hurt you, stupid. I’m just a useless human now.”
“D’Hoffryn won’t give me back my power center,” she said as a pout slid onto her face. “He says I failed and now my punishment is to be a human again for the rest of my life.”
Giles noted the name. D’Hoffryn. He had found it in several of his studies on Anyanka and the power of the wish. He was a very high level demon, and was worshipped as a deity among some of the lower castes of sub-primate demons.
“Wait a moment,” Giles said, lowering his wrist slightly. “Human again? You were human once before?”
Anya sighed and looked away. “A long time ago. I don’t really remember it.”
“W-well, I, a-as fascinating as that may be, I’m not sure why you came here.”
“Because I need your help.”
“Becoming a demon again? Surely you don’t expect me to help you with that.”
Anya looked down. “No. I can’t be a demon again. D’Hoffryn won’t let me. I just need someone to help me be a human, that’s all.”
Giles lowered his arm. “Help you to be human?”
She shrugged. “Yeah. It’s not fair. Everyone else has a family and a childhood and documents and papers that say who they’re supposed to be. I don’t have any of that. You stole my power center, so you owe me.”
“We destroyed your power center because you cursed one of our friends: a lovely and innocent young woman who had harmed nobody. I fail to see how I owe you anything, Anyanka.”
She looked up at him angrily, but her eyes were wet. “Because! You did this to me! It’s your responsibility! I don’t know how to do anything! I’ve been living in this old apartment that used to belong to these vampires, but the money they left is running out and then I won’t be able to acquire food. I don’t know how to live in this world, and you’re the one who forced me to live in it, so you owe me! Please? That’s what humans say when they’re desperate and pathetic, right? Well that’s me. Please? Please please please?”
Giles narrowed his eyes at her. “What exactly do you expect me to do?”
“You’re old and knowledgeable,” Anya said, sniffing slightly. “You can teach me how to be a human. How does one acquire money? What makes automobiles obey your commands? What is TV and why does everyone talk about it all the time? How do I stop being afraid all the time? Things like that.”
“You’re afraid all the time?”
Anya nodded seriously. “Yes. It’s horrible and I hate it. Is there some trick to getting rid of it? You humans don’t seem that scared most of the time, but I don’t understand why. Don’t you know you’re going to die in at most a hundred years?”
“It’s complicated,” Giles said. “The human psyche is adept at ignoring truths it would rather not dwell upon.”
“So that’s what I need. I need you to teach me how to ignore bad stuff. And I need a place to live, food, clothing, and lots of pharmaceuticals. I don’t want to catch the bubonic plague and die before my eighty years are up.”
He was going to regret this. It was utterly foolish. She was a demon. She was a killer. There was no way he could trust her. And yet, somehow, he really did feel that he had some responsibility for her. In a way, he had caused her to become human. He had given her this life.
“I have a guest room,” Giles said, removing his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. “You can stay there for a short time. We’ll talk to Xander and Willow to see about getting you whatever legal documents you require, but I warn you that she will not be nearly so eager to help.”
“Are you eager? This doesn’t seem like eager.”
“No, this is barely-restrained-tolerance,” Giles said. “I’m willing to take a chance on you because if I did not it seems very likely you will get yourself killed, living as you are in Sunnydale. But if I even once believe you are reverting to your demonic ways, that will be the end of that. Understood?”
Anya rolled her eyes. “How am I going to do that? I already told you, I’m blacklisted. Don’t you pay attention when people talk to you? How am I going to learn anything from you if you don’t pay attention to what I say? How will you know what I need to learn?”
“I’m sure I’ll figure something out,” Giles said, and hoped he was not making the biggest mistake of his life.
She knew something was up. She wasn’t stupid, after all. Something was up, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was somehow a part of it. First, Buffy had moved back home, which had given Dawn the temporary and ultimately false hope that she and Xander had broken up. But no, they were just as stupid-shmoopy-moron-looks in love as ever. So why had she insisted on staying at home?
Dawn had never seen Buffy as cranky as she’d been in those weeks. They were always large bags under her bloodshot eyes, and her every response to Dawn or her mother was to snap angrily or mumble sleepily. It got to the point where even their mom had suggested that Buffy move back in with Xander, because it was clear that she was not happy being on her own.
But she had stayed, even as she got more and more cranky each day. Worse than that, she began to fixate on Dawn. Where was she going? Who was she going to be with? You can’t go there, it’s not safe. You can’t hang out with them, they’re a bad influence. Can’t can’t can’t, don’t don’t don’t. Suddenly it was like she had a second mother.
Then one morning Buffy just decides that since their mom had a tumor, Dawn had to have a full cloud-scanny-thing at Xander’s, just to make sure she wasn’t at risk herself. That was stupid, because Dawn had made Xander give her a scan last year after she found out that Buffy got them all the time, and if he was going to find anything he would have found it then. Buffy had insisted though, and afterwards she had clearly seen Buffy whispering something to Xander while they looked at her scans.
And then one day they were all hanging out in Giles’ new shop trying to figure out how to beat whatever the new big evil thing was )Dawn never really paid attention to stuff like that. That was her sister’s world, not hers) when suddenly she’d actually shown up right there in the shop and (big surprise!) Faith had killed her right then and there.
That night, Buffy moved back out, and that was when Dawn finally demanded to be told the truth.
So here they were, Dawn, her mom, Buffy, and Xander, all standing around in Xander’s lab.
“Okay, you have to promise not to freak out,” Buffy said, looking to first Dawn, then her mother. “It’s over and everyone’s safe.”
“Safe from what?” Joyce asked.
“That hellgod lady,” Dawn said. “The one Faith killed. Right?”
“Hey, Faith only killed her because I built a totally awesome Dawnitron particle beam cannon that totally worked because science is a thousand times cooler than magic any day,” Xander said. “But, uh, yeah. She was the what.”
“And she’s gone now, so there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just that, um, there were these monks, and they cast this spell, and uh...” Buffy looked nervously at Dawn. “Well, they said they did something to Dawn.”
“Did what?” Joyce asked. “What did they do to her?”
“Nothing bad,” Buffy said quickly. “At least, um, we don’t think it’s bad.”
“Here,” Xander said.
“Look at this,” Buffy finished for him. A floating three-dimensional representation of Dawn appeared in the air between them, roughly one-quarter Dawn’s actual size. Dawn’s eyes widened as she thought for a second that the image was naked, but then she realized it was just smooth like a mannequin. She wasn’t sure if that was any better. The slowly rotating image showed off her entire body. She blushed furiously.
“This is Dawn from six months ago,” Buffy said. Xander hit a few more buttons, and the image changed, growing slightly taller and just slightly curvier. A strange green glow surrounded the entire image. Dawn’s blush intensified. “This is Dawn from last week.”
“What’s that green light?” Joyce asked.
“That’s what they did to her,” Buffy said. “It’s a new kind of energy field related, uh, coincidentally, to Dawnitrons. We think it’s extra-universal. As in: not from this universe.”
Dawn blinked at the image. “That’s on me right now?”
“No,” Xander said. “That is you.”
“The energy,” Buffy said, then paused to take a deep breath. “Um, that energy is you. You’re a total biological human, but you’re also an energy field originating from outside our spacetime and universal structure.”
“Technically speaking, it’s impossible,” Xander said. “But there’s magic for you, I guess.”
“But I feel the same,” Dawn said. She stared at her arms and tried to tell if she could feel anything different. “I don’t feel like energy.”
“You won’t be able to feel it. Chances are you’d go through your entire life and never notice it. As far as I can tell, it has absolutely no discernible effect on our reality. It doesn’t do anything. It’s just what you are.”
“How can that be?” Joyce asked. “Why would they do that to her?”
Buffy and Xander shared a look. Dawn stood up straighter. They were doing that thing where they said stuff without words. She didn’t know how they did it, but she was sure they could.
“We, um, we weren’t sure if it was a good idea to tell you, but Xander thinks you have a right to know, and, uh, so do I, I guess. Just don’t freak out, Dawn, okay? Whatever happens, you’re my sister and I love you.”
Dawn’s eyes widened. “What? Wh-what’s going to happen?”
“Nothing. A-and we don’t even know if what the monks said was the truth, but, um, i-it might be. But even if it is, that doesn’t change anything. You’re my sister. You’re mom’s daughter. That never changes.”
“W-why would it change?”
“Buffy, please,” Joyce said. “Just tell us.”
“The monks did this to her, b-but if they were telling the truth, they didn’t give Dawn the energy. T-they gave the energy life. They took this energy -- they called it the Key -- and they made it into a person. A real person, okay? A totally real person, just one that was also energy. A-and then they...”
“They gave us all memories of her,” Xander said in a subdued voice. “Made us remember her being part of our lives.”
Dawn took a step back. “What?”
“As near as I can tell,” Xander said apologetically. “The energy existed in its pure incorporeal state up until about four or five months ago. Then the monks turned it into you, Dawn.”
“That’s not true,” Dawn whispered. “You guys are playing a trick on me.”
“I’m sorry, Dawn,” Buffy said, and Dawn was horrified by the serious look of sympathy in her eyes. “I-I wasn’t sure if we should tell you, but I didn’t think it would be right to keep it from you forever. Glorificus needed you -- needed the Key -- and she was willing to do anything to get you. But she’s gone now, so you’re sa--”
“No!” Dawn exclaimed. “I’m real! I’m not just made up by some stupid magic!”
“Whoa, hang on,” Xander said, holding up a hand. “Nobody said you weren’t real.”
Tears were slipping down her cheeks as she sniffed. “Y-you just said they made me. That I’m just some stupid energy.”
“No, I said you’re both. You exist as both states simultaneously. You are one and you are the other, but neither is exclusive or mutually exhaustive. You’re energy, and you’re human. Genetically speaking, you are Buffy’s sister in every way, and your mother’s daughter.”
“B-but my life, everything anyone knows about me--”
“Is a memory,” Xander said, nodding. “So?”
“So it’s not real.”
“It’s as real as anything else anybody remembers,” Xander said. “Nobody remembers anything exactly the way it happened. We all come up with our own little twists and interpretations. Humans don’t measure the past by an objective criteria of rational understanding. We remember stuff, and we remember it wrong. A lot.”
“Except Xander,” Buffy said. “He remembers everything perfectly. It’s sick.”
“Well okay, there are a few exceptions. But the point is that memories are just that: memories. It doesn’t matter what really happened or what didn’t happen. That reality is no longer observable to us. All we have is the present reality. That’s the only thing we can react to in an objective way. Dawn Summers is standing right here, and she’s upset, and that makes me upset too.”
“Me three,” Buffy said, and Dawn was surprised to see she really did look miserable. She blinked a few times through her tears.
“But she’s real, and in one way or an other, she’s always been real. Who cares if she existed as a field of energy for a few billion years? I existed as carbon atoms. Does that make me any less human?”
“N-no,” Dawn said. “B-but, it’s not the same.”
“Seems the same to me. It’s all about observable reality. It doesn’t matter how you got here. You’re here now, and you are who you are.”
“You’re my little girl,” Joyce said, and hugged Dawn to her. “I don’t care what any monks say about that, baby. You’ll always be my little girl.”
Dawn closed her eyes and hugged her mother tightly. A moment later, Buffy’s arms closed around her as well.
It would take her a long time to get used to the idea, and an even longer time to truly accept it. The road would be bumpy, and her life would never be quite the same, but Dawn was heartened by the undeniable truth that she had people around her who loved her, no matter who -- or what -- she was.
“Oh my God,” Buffy breathed as she stared at it. “It looks just like me.”
Technically speaking, it looked like her as of her last cloud-scan. They were tiny fluctuations in weight, height, and a thousand other minor differences. But yes, to the naked, untrained eye, they were almost entirely identical.
Buffy and Xander were in one of the lab’s back rooms. Buffy had labeled it the Robo-Room, and it was where Xander had been working on her latest request. He had just perfected the bio-mimetic construction chamber that afternoon, and the nano-render had finally completed the shell.
What looked like an almost-perfect twin to Buffy Summers was lying naked on a highly modified medi-bed. The outer appearance was designed very similarly to Faith’s reconstructed limbs, muscle tissue, skin, and hair. It was all bio-mimetic components, and would feel absolutely real. The robot might technically be classified as a cyborg, but in reality there were no actual organic parts. The bio-mimetic parts might seem organic, but they were still technological in origin.
Buffy reached a hand out towards the nude form, but stopped just above the pert breasts. She looked back to Xander. “Can I?”
He shrugged. It kind of freaked him out to touch the lifeless robot. He could almost imagine it was just a naked Buffy sleeping, but the fact that her chest did not rise and fall with her breathing kept telling his brain that what he was really looking at was a corpse.
“Ew,” Buffy said, and pulled her hand back before touching the robot. “Okay, no touching the body. Not yet, anyway. When will she actually be able to get up and do stuff with us?”
Xander knew what “stuff” meant. He swallowed hard as he imagined the impossible fantasy that almost every guy he knew had: twins. Even better than that, twins with absolutely no shame and no guilt. Sometimes he was far, far too lucky.
“You know it,” Buffy said, then grinned as she sauntered over to him. She pushed him back onto his chair and sat down on his lap so she was facing him. She gave him a deep kiss, then pulled her head back. “So? When will she be ready?”
It would probably be another month at least. He wanted to perfect the simulated intelligence before then. He had debated long and hard between a simulated intelligence and an actual artificial intelligence, and had ultimately decided on the former. It meant he wouldn’t have to worry about the ethical implications of creating what might be deemed life, nor would he have to have any guilt about programming it to do whatever he wanted. The differences were subtle -- it had to do with levels of self-awareness and adaptation to new stimuli -- but he was certain he could build either.
The simulated intelligence would be somewhat more difficult, in fact. He would have to program it with learning algorithms that simulated actual learned behavior, but was in fact just highly complicated logic routines. If he had actually used the artificial intelligence designs he’d come up with -- and he’d come up with at least six so far -- then he could have had the robot up and running in less than two weeks. Of course, it would have taken longer to teach the intelligence how to interact with its surroundings, and there was absolutely no guarantee, even with the right programming in place, that said intelligence would be at all interested in nights of kinky sex with him and his very beautiful, very sexy, and very horny girlfriend.
“Mmm,” Buffy said with a smile. She kissed him again, then spoke against his lips, “I like it when you think about me.”
“I know,” he said, even though he also knew he didn’t need to say a word.
They made out for a few minutes, but Buffy had already given him a blowjob less than an hour ago, and they’d made love twice that morning. She sighed and finally stopped kissing him when he was -- with some mild discomfort -- starting to get hard again. She winced at sharing his pain, and then sighed. “When do you think those new augmentations will be ready?”
It was easily the twentieth time she’d asked him in the last few days. Ever since moving back in with him -- or more precisely, ever since Willow’s curse had been lifted -- Buffy had been completely insatiable. While he loved having a girlfriend who not only wanted to fulfill his every fantasy, but outright encouraged him to come up with new ones, he was starting to get a little annoyed with how demanding she was becoming about this augmentation thing. Like any guy he was interested in being stronger, faster, bigger, and better, but he liked to think he was doing a pretty darn good job just on his own.
“You are,” Buffy said, pouting slightly. “I love you the way you are, Xander. I just can’t wait to have you the way you are all the time.”
He rolled his eyes, but it was hard to stay upset when Buffy Summers was complaining that he couldn’t have sex with her enough. She was a Slayer, after all. He supposed no normal man could really keep up with her. Sighing, he resigned himself to spending some time working on the augmentations this week.
“Um, about that,” Buffy said, wiggling her bottom against him slowly. “I kind of worked on them myself a little.”
“Yeah. I think I understand how it all works. You want to see?”
He nodded, and Buffy reached her hands up to call up the holo-display. He stared at the way her nipples poked through her thin t-shirt as she did so. Buffy’s moan of approval told him she was showing off on purpose, something she did a lot of when it was just the two of them.
“Oh! How dare you,” Buffy said in a voice of mock scandal. “This is just more comfortable, that’s all.”
Sure it was.
She grinned at him, biting her lower lip naughtily as she did so. He grew slightly harder, and she wiggled against him some more. “Later,” she chided. “First check my math.”
She entered a few commands, and suddenly a series of complex equations were floating over his head. Buffy lowered her hands and then slid forward to lean against him. She turned over so they were both looking up, and then she grabbed his hands and wrapped them around her middle. As he held her, she pointed up at the equations.
“See? It’s good, right?”
Xander had to nod in approval. The math was fairly simple (it was only super calculus) but it all checked out. The interactions with the cellular vibrations were spot-on, and should react with the intended effect. They would need to run it through the simulators a few times and he would have to--
“I already did that,” Buffy said. “Fifty simulations, and they all worked.”
“Yup. So? It’s good, right?”
It was good. It was really good. In fact, he was amazed at how good it was. It was entirely possible that Buffy was now the second most intelligent person on the face of the planet, because he didn’t know anyone but him who could have written equations like those, even if they were well beneath his current understanding of mathematics.
“Always bragging,” Buffy teased. “So since I’m the smartest girl in the world, I say we celebrate by--”
Hang on. He frowned as he looked at one of the equations and quickly ran through the simulation in his head. Unless he was mistaken that was going to make his semen taste lik--
“Strawberries,” Buffy said sheepishly. “Is it weird? It’s weird, isn’t it.”
“Weird is a strong word,” he said diplomatically, but it was no use. It was weird, and she knew that he thought so.
“I-I just thought that, um, well you like it when I swallow and I like that you like it, but it would be even nicer if it tasted good, and I really like the taste of strawberries, a-and then I thought if I liked the taste then I’d want more of it, so I increased the output by--”
“Jeez, Buff. I’m going to be dehydrated every night!”
Xander blinked up at the equations. He would be a firehose. He would have to adjust his temporary sterility treatment just to compensate for the increased production, otherwise Buffy would be pregnant for sure.
“But we can do it, right?” Buffy asked, sliding down his body and kneeling down between his legs. “It’s win-win, Xander. You get what you like, and I like what you like.”
She unzipped his pants, and gently and expertly took out his half-hardness. Oh, she knew exactly what she was doing. She could play him so easily. He should resent her for it, but--
Her mouth engulfed him, and Xander’s eyes rolled back. His own groan was matched by hers, muffled as it was.
How could he resent her when he loved her so much? For this girl, he didn’t care how weird it was. He didn’t care what she wanted to do with him, to him, or for him. Yes, of course he would let her do this to him. How could he ever say no?
Her mouth left him for a moment. “Oh, good! Cause I have a few more ideas too.” She reached back up and entered a few more commands. New equations and formulas filled the air in front of him. His eyes widened even as Buffy dropped back down to her knees. “You read them while I do this. Thinking about having a Buffy-bot just...mmm. It’s got me all worked up.”
In the end, he agreed to every augmentation she had decided on, although it could not be said that he did so with a clear-head and an open mind.
Not that he was complaining, of course. He wasn’t sure he would ever be able to complain about anything for the rest of his life.
Continued in Installment 17