"What's that one about?" a female voice huffed.
Xander looked up from reading his new comic. He was a young guy in high school, it was normal for him to read comics. No matter how much Willow scowled at them. "This guy has slight magic and creates portals to pull things from heros in other realms so he could put up the good fight since his world is being overtaken by steroid-driven idiots with ideas." He shifted to show her the front cover. "One of the last things he draws is something he didn't expect. It came with the one from the chemist. That artifact turns it from 'I put them on and learn stuff from them' to 'I'm now possessed by them'."
"That's dumb," Willow complained.
"Because it's so hard to get possessed?" Xander quipped back, staring at her. They had both seen a possession up close and personal thanks to the talent show.
"Point," she admitted. "So now he's super warrior?"
"No. He's got something from a higher warrior mage. Not the greatest but a field commanding sort of warrior mage. He got some from a hero who was a part-time chemist. That one's basically mimicking Spiderman in some ways. He's got something from a doctor that goes out to treat emergencies, because he's needed it in the past and didn't have it. That's the first he pulled because gang kids were attacking his neighborhood and killing his friends and family to take over. It was that last artifact that changed him and he never called for that one."
"So he wants to fight and can't," she said. Xander nodded. "Marvel?"
"Local guy trying something new to get attention. Graduated here a few years ago."
"Huh." She walked off shaking her head. "Maybe he'll help you pass science this year."
Xander rolled his eyes and got back to the comic. It was an interesting storyline and one he could see mirrored a bit in his own life. Plus it had come with a keepsake necklace like his artifact. Which was pretty nice.
Xander was getting dressed for halloween. The principal had demanded that they go as chaperones for the little hoodlums that inhabited the elementary and middle schools. He had his gun from the comic shop. He had his father's former BDU's - his father had gotten kicked out of the army after six months for failure to live up to standards or something, which probably meant he had went a bit nuts from some drugs one too many times. He picked up his wallet, which fell apart. "Great," he sighed. He looked around. No spare wallet. No spare keychain that was attached to his wallet. He groaned and pulled out the keepsake necklace to put his key on. Not like the outfit had dogtags. Of course, he found the dogtags a few minutes later and the key wouldn't fit on the bead chain anyway. So he tucked that necklace under the dog tags and grabbed the toy gun so he could head out for this exercise in not-funness.
Parts of Xander were analyzing the spell the next morning. He could feel that they had bonded, just like in the comic, only he had also bonded to the soldier's memories and the ones from the hyena that he already had. His brain was packed full of fun things like 'this is how you mix hydrochloric acid in the lab' and 'this is how you summon demons from another realm to eat gang members' and even 'this is how you create a super virus to destroy gang members, you can set it to the ink in their tattoos'. Which was giving him a headache to be honest. He mentally yelled at everything to shut up for a bit. The thoughts quit whirling and settled down until he wanted them to pipe up and give him ideas. He sighed in relief, heading out to the high school to talk to Giles. He was sure he wasn't the only one that had some memories leftover.
Of course, he'd be wrong.
Because everyone else had lost them. Willow didn't remember how to phase through things. Buffy didn't remember any more manners than usual since she had belched just now and not excused herself. Plus she had apparently forgotten how to cross her knees so no one saw her panties. He didn't need to know that they made thongs with happy mangos dancing on them. He looked at Giles. "Did anyone else remember anything?"
"That it happened but not anything they knew during it. You?" Giles asked, turning to look in a book.
"Actually, I think I do. I woke up this morning with the urge to do military PT." Giles stared at him. "Which I'm not bad at." Giles shook his head with a sigh. "Would past possessions matter?"
"It might have stuck to that same taint from the hyena," Giles agreed, smiling at him. "I'm sure it will fade soon, Xander."
"That's cool. I could use the working out anyway, Giles." He looked at the girls. "Um, Buffy, got images I don't need," he said. She scowled. "Mangoes? I thought you hated them." She blushed and closed her legs. "Thanks." Willow was blushing too. "Anything else fun happen last night?" They shook their heads as the bell rang for home room. So they went to do the normal teenage things for the rest of the day until patrol that night. Xander categorized the new skills he had. He might have to work to access them. Or not since he realized he was wearing that charm and the magic last night had changed it so it was real and letting him access all those memories. It didn't make math go any easier than normal, or literature, but science class was a lot easier and he actually understood what the teacher was talking about. Willow kept giving him funny looks but he was used to that.
That night, no patrol so Xander got to sit down and list out things he could now do. Useful things. Things like making a firebomb potion against vampires. He had a few formulas for those so he wrote them down in case he ended up losing all these memories. He paused when he heard his parents stomp up the stairs arguing about things while drunk. They went to their own room so that was good.
"Turn off the goddamn lights! You cost us a fortune!" his father yelled. "Damn freeloading bastard!"
"I paid the electric bill this month," Xander yelled back. "It's a propane lantern, not the overhead light."
His father slammed open the door and stared at the lantern. "No you didn't."
Xander dug out the receipt. "Came out of my paycheck." He held it up. His father glared and balled up a fist. "You realize you have the yearly kid check review tomorrow, right? And I have to tell them how well you've done with the check the state gives you for me?" His father stomped off moaning. Xander got up to shut his door and got back to his outlining. Maybe he needed to move before anything else. That might be a bit handy. Get him out of the crossfire of the fights. Give him a place to set up a chemistry set, store stakes and machetes, all those important things. Once his parents had finally drifted off, Xander hid his notes and settled in for the night. Of course, his mind was back on active so it wasn't shutting up. He'd be exhausted tomorrow he guessed.
Xander had run into the first snag in his plans. No one was going to rent to him. He was too young and a Harris, that meant everyone was going to ignore him trying to break the Harris mold. So he'd have to stay home. How could he avoid his parents getting into his chemistry kit? Compulsion potion maybe? He'd have to look those up to see if one was a viable option on his pittance of part time work's paycheck. Or he'd have to find a better paying job.
He made it home without detention for once and found his father home already. Probably a bad sign for his mood that night. "Heard you were looking for apartments, boy," he said, staring at him.
Xander nodded. "That way I get out of this hellhole." He just shrugged at the glare. "Not like the fighting is good for me and I've got chemistry things I've got to do for school."
"Like drugs?" he demanded. "I'll kick your ass over that, boy."
"I doubt that and no, not drugs. Still chemicals, which can be dangerous if knocked over while drunk."
"It making you decent money?"
"It can some day."
"Give us half. We don't want that nasty shit and about time you pay your own way."
Xander smirked. "I have a recipe to make something that would make you ignore me and you're not getting more than ten percent. I'm still underage and I'll be damned if I'm crippling my moving out and onto something better." His father glared. Xander stared back. "The offer to dose you with stuff so you don't realize I'm here stands."
"You're mouthy today." He stood up. "You're still a kid." He tried to swat him and Xander blocked it. "Huh. Think you're tough?"
"I think I've had to take out something that tried to pretend to be you a few days back." His father stepped back, looking alarmed. Xander shrugged. "The nighttime 'gang' problem." He put his hands in his pockets. It was a bit submissive looking but made him look less dangerous. Plus got his stake in hand in case he wanted to use it.
"I know what they are."
Xander smirked. "That's great. Can you maybe quit inviting them in sometimes? Last time I had to stake three of them trying to talk me into some fun." His father shuddered. "Not the first," Xander said dryly.
"That's why you're always late and sneaking out?" Xander nodded. "Suppose I can understand combat stuff. You sure you're not making drugs?"
"No, if I did I'd make something that would make hunting easier by killing the vampire virus when they used it."
His father shuddered. "That's sicko talk there, boy."
"Yeah, but handy if I could do it. Letting them do it to themselves sure as hell beats staking them up close and personal."
His father blinked a few times. "You're not that tough."
Xander snorted. "I got out every few days to help do that. I get a few a night, Dad. Have since tenth grade." His father's mouth flopped open. Xander nodded. "Different sort of service than yours. Though I did see yours thanks to someone." He grinned. "Was that general's daughter pretty?"
"Not really but she was good in bed. Could suck a golfball smooth."
"Huh. I need one of those." He shook his head quickly then stared at him. "Ten percent. You can't touch anything in my room, especially not Mom to sell it. I hated having to get my crossbow back and I kinda need it most nights."
"She was looking for a party," he snorted.
"I know you can't take viagra with the beer," he shot back, getting punched at. Xander hit him back. His father got knocked back a few feet. "You won't keep doing that. Not like I sleep anymore with the way you guys kept waking me up for no reason all night long." He gave him a pointed look.
"Thirty or you can move. I bet they won't let you though or you never would've come home tonight," he said with an evil smirk.
"I am underage to rent and you've pretty well ruined the Harris name all over town but there's still abandoned houses I can take over if I want to." His father gaped. "There's three on this street alone. I'm pretty sure I can find one that I can get the electric turned on for. I've kept the electric in this house, which is in my name anyway, up to date for a good long time. My credit score's still pretty decent." He smiled. "Ten."
"Fine. Better be more than you cost us though," his father sneered back.
"Since when do you buy my food? Or my clothes?" His father sneered. Xander stared back. "I can just dose you and save myself that money." He dug into his backpack, pulling out his notes. "I've got three options I can make at the chem lab at the high school." He looked at his father again.
"You're moving to the basement."
"That works for me but I'm barring the door from the inside."
"The washer's down there," his father complained.
"Not like you use it. Mom goes to the laundromat."
"She does?" Xander nodded. "Why? I spent tons getting that for her."
"Remember her falling down the stairs while ranting at you because you didn't like how she couldn't get a stain out? She hasn't used it since then."
His father rolled his eyes. "You can put up a fake wall."
"Fine. I'll look up how to do that." His father shrugged and flopped down again. "Let me get that handled." He went up to get his things, which mysteriously hadn't been gone through today. His mother must've been out all day doing something. Probably the review. He vaguely knew how to put up a stud wall, he'd helped his uncle do a bit at his garage after a small fire. It might not be pretty but it'd work well enough he guessed.
Xander looked around. None of the team was anywhere near him so he could take blood samples from the vampire before staking it. It was handy that Buffy had went on. Of course, she came back and caught him. "I'm taking some to test something I read. Someone's making a gas grenade that would kill the virus." He staked the unconscious vampire then put his kit back into his backpack.
"Where did you find that?" she asked.
"Online." He grinned. "Willow found the site. I'm testing it to see if we can use it for the huge nest by the beach."
"That might be handy," she agreed. "How would we make one?"
"Not that hard. It had instructions to make one in a soda can."
"Huh." They walked off together, him telling her what he was thinking about doing. That night, she watched him infect a mouse with the blood. It died and came back. He had a halogen light there to burn it if he had to. He mixed up the grenade's gas. No luck. He sighed and checked, then switched something and did it again. That one killed the mouse. Which went to dust. Buffy clapped. He grinned. "So, that huge nest?"
"Yeah, I can find a way to get it in there for you. Not that hard. Then give it twenty or thirty minutes to clear and stake anything that runs out to escape it. Should clean up most of the nest. I can try it on a bigger vampire first to figure out how much it'll take."
She nodded. "Not a bad idea. I don't think it's more than mean but it's a handy one." She walked off. "Thanks, Xander."
"Welcome." He cleaned up after himself and went home. The chemistry teacher wouldn't do more than wonder who had been doing experiments after school in the morning. Buffy wouldn't tell anyone. Mostly because no one would believe her that he was doing chemistry.
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