Chapter 1: Hostage Zeppo
This Year’s Boy
Chapter 1: Hostage Zeppo
February 23rd, 2000
Near 17619 White Oak Drive, Sunnydale
Xander Harris had lived in Sunnydale for all nineteen years of his life, and he'd known all about the dangerous nightlife of his hometown for three of them.
He knew full well that he really shouldn't be wandering around residential Sunnydale in the middle of the night - sure, he had a stake, a cross and some holy water. He was being stupid and reckless, not suicidal.
Of course, tonight was special. Because in addition to vampires, demons and even the occasional stupid but lucky entirely human mugger, and a cyborg/human/demon/Terminator thing... there was also a psychopathic rogue Slayer running around town, ready to kill and with a hate-on for one Buffy Summers and her friends.
Which included the one and only Alexander LaVelle Harris.
Xander had been planning to spend the night hunkered down in his basement bedroom/home, waiting for Buffy to give him the all-clear that it was safe to come out.
That had been the plan.
But instead, his parents had decided to get even more drunk than usual, and fight even louder than usual, with the sound of his mom throwing things and his dad’s voice reverberating all the way down through the floor. Normal, but tonight felt even worse than usual.
Five minutes later, unable to stand it anymore - he was grabbing a stake, cross, holy water and his jacket, and braving Sunnydale at night.
Dying at the hands of a vampire is better than dealing with that... man, I gotta get me a place to live that isn't at home.
"Right, because that's so easy, of course," he muttered to himself. He'd found mostly steady work with construction, enough to start saving up for his own place at least, but it wasn't like he magically had the money to pay for a new apartment right now. Especially not a place big enough for him and Anya.
Despite his dark mood, and despite the situation, Xander couldn't help but smile a little about his odd girlfriend. Anya was blunt and honest, which he always liked, and even though her other quirks and oddities were just that, they were somehow kind of... endearing, coming from her.
Oh, man Xander, you have it bad for that girl.
But that was the thing - it was humiliating and even a little morifying for them to have sex down in the basement with his parents just above them - let alone just spend any time with his girlfriend there, especially given how small and depressing it was. It was that latter part especially that made him want to make sure that whatever place he moved to was much nicer - for her - and big enough for the both of them.
Assuming Ahn wanted to move in with him, even partially.
And he wanted that. Wanted her to live with him.
And, finally, a place of his own, especially if it was nice, would mean he would never have to hear his parents - or anyone else, hopefully - having a drunken fight above him.
Xander was forced out of his thoughts by a rustling sound in the bushes nearby. Jumping, pulling the stake and turning to the sound, letting out a - very manly! - gasp of startlement, he realized it had just been the wind, or a squirrel or something and let out a sigh.
"Right, right, way to overreact," he muttered. Still, he was within his rights to overreact, with Faith running around - she'd gone after Buffy in broad daylight at college. She could easily go after him at night.
Though, bluster and fear aside, let’s be honest, Xander: You're probably pretty low on the list of people she wants to kill. Faith certainly never seemed to have much regard for him, even after they'd had sex - she'd made that more than clear, despite his own mistaken impression.
I mean, she doesn't like me, if only because I'm Buffy's friend. But Buffy and Willow and Giles and Deadboy all have to be higher up on the list of people she wants to hurt rather than me, right?
He'd only just finished the thought when he felt a knife pressing against the side of his throat, breath on the back of his neck and his right arm being twisted behind his back, all in one smooth motion.
"Ah!" Xander cried out in pain, struggling in vain against the grip around his arm.
"Hey there, boytoy," Faith's voice said, her tone really calm for someone putting a knife to his throat. “Long time no see, right?”
"Oh, the irony!" Xander muttered under his breath - and then gulped as he realized he'd said that aloud.
"Yeah? What's ironic, exactly?" Faith asked, digging the knife into the skin of his neck a little bit harder, which only made Xander inhale sharply in pain - he couldn't tell if she'd broken the skin, but it had to be close. He stood as still as possible, no sudden movies...
I want my Buffy!
Terrified for his life, Xander explained, speaking quickly, babbling the words out in a way that might even have impressed Willow:
"Oh, you know, just - I was just thinking about how - you know, like, how I probably had to be pretty low on your list of people to kill now that you're out of your coma and - you know, feeling kinda murderous, and - then here you are, knife to my throat and all. So, so there. Ironic, definitely, right?"
He laughed awkwardly, fighting the nervous twitches his body wanted to make. Don't give the crazy woman with the knife any reason to cut your throat. You look better with just the one smile. No need for a red one.
Heh heh heh...
"Relax, fella, I'm not gonna kill ya - not planning to, anyway. Might break your arm, shatter your bones, if you piss me off," Faith said, twisting his arm just a little more to prove her point, and Xander could have sworn he heard his bones pop just a little but under the force of the twist. "Really piss me off and I'll nick your throat, break your legs and leave you in a graveyard for the vampires to snack on."
"Really embracing the evil murderous psychopath in you, Fai-AH!" Xander's ill-advised and unfiltered snark earned him another twist and an even harder press on his neck, and this time he felt it cut skin, blood probably beading a little on the knife.
"Now why'd you have to go and start talking like that, boytoy?" Faith asked, sounding almost upset, but it was too over the top to be genuine. Pretty sure she doesn't do 'upset'... just crazy and evil and... stuff.
"Thing is, I was just on my way to B's old house, to have a bit of fun with Mrs. S, make Buffy come to me - but on second thoughts, you'll be just as fun. Maybe even more fun - since I'm guessing B went and abandoned her mom, the way she did Angel. Tell me, where is her undead squeeze? You know, the one she stabbed me for?" Faith asked, her voice getting grim for a moment, before returning to it's creepy-light-casual almost fake friendly tone.
"Deadboy? He's in L.A., last I heard." Xander answered, truthfully. "He broke up with Buffy and split town, after Graduation."
Faith snorted, "Don't try to lie, Xander, you suck at it." At least this time she didn't twist his arm more, but her fingers did press a little harder, tightening her grip on his arm, threatening him without actually threatening him.
Faith can do subtle. Who knew?
"Not lying. I didn't exactly ask - hey, you know me, at the time I was just glad he was finally gone - but yeah, he did the breaking up, not her," Xander said, speaking quickly.
Faith laughed, and for a moment, it almost made her sound normal. But not quite. It was a bit manic, like the supervillain in the cartoon laughing even as his plan fell apart around him.
Or her, in this case.
"I think I actually believe you! Huh. Well, that's something I'd have paid to see. Did she cry? Did B get all teary-eyed at her precious Angel running off into the night, without her? My money says he probably went and found himself a hotter blonde in the big city, while Buffy went and found herself some clean-cut, boring college boy. Am I right or what?"
Someone sounds jealous... Though he couldn't tell if it was because of Angel or Buffy. Xander could be dense sometimes, but he'd noticed - though he was more than willing to concede that it might have just been wishful thinking or something like it on his part - the way Faith looked at Buffy sometimes, especially early on.
"Not that she went into deep and meaningfuls with me about it, but Buffy wasn't happy about Angel leaving, no. Still, she didn't fall to pieces," Xander said hurriedly, speaking more or less the truth. "So... if you're not going to kill me - and Faith, please don't change your mind about that - what exactly am I supposed to be, your hostage?"
"Gotta make sure B co-operates somehow, don't I?" Faith suggested. "So, listen up. I'm gonna take the knife away from your neck, and then we’ll take a nice walk to somewhere where you can call B, and tell her where you are. And, you know, that I have you."
Buffy's not going to walk into an obvious trap, Faith.
"I know what you're thinking," Faith said, pulling the blade away from his neck, but she didn't let go of his wrist as she shoved him forward - he started walking forward, down the street, Faith still holding his arm twisted behind his back. "You're thinking 'Faith, you're such an idiot, there's no way Buffy will walk into such an obvious trap!" Faith scoffed, "Because B's always so smart, and never does something stupid and reckless."The Slayer jerked his arm further around, twisting it and this time definitely heard his bones pop. He nearly staggered and fell under the pain, but Faith yanked him back up before he could drop to the ground.
"You all think you're better than me, right? Especially B. The good Slayer. But the thing is, dude, you're not. And I'm going to prove it." Faith growled out.
"Ah, Faith, you've always been better than me, you know, what with the whole 'being a Slayer' thing," Xander babbled out, very much leaving out the 'except for the part that I haven't killed anyone' addition that rose to mind. “And could I just add -”
"No more talking, Xan. Move," Faith jabbed his back lightly with the knife, and he picked up the pace as directed, making the relatively quick walk from Sunnydale's more residential areas to its downtown - there wasn't really that much distance between the two.
They passed a few people on the street, but it was dark out, and nobody in Sunnydale noticed anything at night. And if I called out, Faith might just kill them anyway. Really, he had no idea what she would do. He'd tried to reach out to her - sure, he'd been an idiot thinking that one night meant anything, but he'd still tried. She'd choked him nearly unconscious or maybe even dead, if she'd been planning to go that far - and he owed his life to Deadboy for it, if that was the case. Not fun all around.
So, yeah, he wasn't gonna give Faith of all people the benefit of the doubt, ever again.
They were passing an alleyway between a recently abandoned hardware store whose owner had died a few weeks ago - barbecue fork accident - and a closed thrift store - when Faith went still for a second, then moved quickly, pulling around, her back to the alley, Xander in front of her - and he quickly realized why she'd moved when he saw three people walking towards them. Two had crossbows, and the other had a Glock 9mm with a silencer attached. Pointed at Faith - and incidentally, at him.
"Faith Lehane," one of them said in a soft-spoken voice, with an accent that sounded sorta British-ish - it wasn’t like Giles's accent, but it did sound like it came from somewhere in the Land of Tea and Crumpets. "By order of the Watcher's Council, you are to be taken into custody until such time -"
"Yada-yada-yada." Faith interrupted, stepping back, into the alley, holding Xander in front of her like a human shield.
Yeah, really great thought to have right now.
"Next, you're going to tell me that we can do this the easy way or the hard way," Faith sneered at the trio.
"No, easy way's where we just shoot you now," one of the other three men said, pulling back his coat to reveal his own gun. "Also the fun way."
"The Council would rather have you brought in alive." The first man said, sparing a momentary look at his more murderous friend, "But they'll settle for your corpse if need be, Miss Lehane," he went on, delivering the death threat in a nice, calm, level way, as if he was just ordering a nice cup of tea or a pint of that imported British beer that Giles drank.
Faith pulled out her knife and pressed it to Xander's neck again, "I'll kill him, you know."
"Hey, hey, hey!" Xander protested, "may I just remind you of what you said earlier -"
"Shut up," Faith growled in his ear, and Xander stopped talking.
"You really think the Council is concerned about this boy?" The first man shrugged, gesturing at him. "One of Miss Summers' little gang of helpers, yes, but not someone of any import. Collateral damage at worst. Now, will you stand down, or will we have to shoot?" He leveled the pistol at her.
"Fuck you!" Faith moved quickly, pulling Xander along for the ride as she ran for the side door of the abandoned hardware store, bullets and crossbow bolts flying where they'd just been. She broke open the door with a kick and pulled him into the back, before letting go of his arm, turning him around and shoving him against the wall.
"Really wasn't planning to do it like this, boytoy, I was actually wanting to go blonde - but then beggars can’t be choosers," Faith muttered, pulling a weird metal device out of her pocket. She fit the device onto her hand, rings on it going around her thumb, middle finger and pinkie. He had no idea what it was she was putting on, but he doubted it was good.
Faith looked at him and smirked wickedly, "Have fun seeing how the other half lives, over in Merrie Olde England," she said in an exaggerated and terrible English accent, and then the Slayer grabbed onto his hand, the tacky-looking silver-y device between their hands.
Immediately, Xander felt... something. A tugging sensation, and - his eyes were fixed on their hands, unable to break free from her grip as the device started to glow, and their hands glowed and the sound of the three Brits coming closer hit him and then -
For a split second, nothing, and then -
Xander was looking at himself. With the device on his hand now.
No, not at himself. Up at himself.
What the hell?
The whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt as his eyes looked down for a moment at his chest.
Not his chest.
Oh, Hello! Boobs!
Before he could faint, his body’s right hand jabbed out at his - her - throat and Xander gasped for breath for a moment, choking, and then -
Chapter 2: This Could Only Happen To You, Xander
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Author's Note: This story, by its nature, is not going to be super-friendly to Faith. Now, I like Faith. Hell, I like her more than Buffy, over all. But Buffy 4x15, Buffy 4x16 and Angel 1x18 do represent her lowest point, and when she is utterly at her worst (though she starts to improve in 4x16, in large part due to what she experiences in terms of living Buffy's life for a day, before sliding back again). This is, as I said, Faith at her worst.
She's not gonna come off well in this fic, though it is not going to be universally against her either. She, like all the characters in the Buffyverse are, is complicated.
You have been warned.
Thanks extended to my friend Vic for helping me as an extra pair of eyes on a particularly frustrating passage of this chapter. Further thanks to Oxnate for beta-reading the whole chapter.
This Year's Boy
Chapter 2: This Could Only Happen To You, Xander
February 23, 2000
When Xander started to finally wake up, something felt wrong.
No, not something - everything. His head throbbed furiously, a drumming sensation inside his skull that fit what he imagined a hangover headache must feel like, based on all the bitching his parents had done over the years the morning after a binge. So, most mornings.
There was an unfamiliar weight on his chest, he felt hair tickling the back of his neck - and he was lying on something cold, hard, flat and metal. Also he had what felt like manacles around his wrists - heavy ones too, judging from the way they felt on his arms. Eyes still closed in fear of any bright lights, he tugged his arms, and realized that the manacles were chaining him to something else. They made a loud jangling noise as he tugged.
During the seconds it took for Xander to remember what had happened before unconsciousness, the first thought that drifted into his mind was wholly inappropriate to the situation.
I know Ahn and I talked about experimenting with like, fuzzy cuffs or something, but these... these are something else entirely. Plus, y'know, we're supposed to talk about these things before we do them.
Then his recent memory registered with his mind - walking out of the house while his parents yelled at eachother even worse than normal, the knife at his back, Faith grabbing him and dragging him downtown-
Those Council goons, waving guns around.
And then that weird metal thing with the rings, and she grabbed his hand and then...
He'd been looking - at himself. Up at himself. As if he was suddenly shorter -
Xander's breath caught as he remembered the last thing he'd seen before his own body had punched him in the throat and left him unconscious.
Heart racing, Xander opened his eyes finally, looking down, praying to god he was wrong. That this was all some weird prank Willow and Buffy and Anya had played on him and he was just wearing a wig and-
He had boobs.
Huge boobs. They hadn't seemed this big when he looked at them on Faith - not even when they'd had sex the one time...
But now they were on his body - and they looked massive.
No, not his body. Faith's body. Which meant Faith was-
HOLY SHIT FAITH STOLE MY BODY!?
A yelp of surprise - a very much not manly yelp of surprise at that - escaped him as it fully registered that he was in Faith's body, Faith was in his...
He looked around, trying to look at anything other than himself, hitting his leg for a moment, or at least what of it he could reach - just a bit of the upper thigh - and swallowing, trying to keep himself from hyperventilating.
He was chained up in the back of some sort of truck, the manacles secure to the wall, the doors open, showing some sort of warehouse or something he was in. Sunnydale was lousy with little-used or abandoned warehouses.
The Council goons.
They'd been about to take Faith down, take her in, take her back to the mother country. Which meant...
Have fun seeing how the other half lives, over in Merrie Olde England
Faith's taunting words right before she'd used that weird metal device to steal his body. Steal my body! - rang through his head, taunting him even more.
The Council was going to take Faith - take him - to England, for some sort of trial or hearing.
But I'm not Faith.
"Hey!" Xander yelled, wincing a little at the sound of his voice - Faith's voice - coming out. "Let me out of these!" He protested, tugging on the chains again, to no avail. "You guys screwed up! Got the wrong person!"
"You rather look like Faith Lehane," the man who had held the gun said again, standing at the entrance of the truck, holding the gun and pointing it at her as he spoke.
"No - fuck, I'm not her. Just in her body - she used some sort of device, switched our bodies! Right now, she's running around, free, in my body!" Xander protested, realizing just how ridiculous it sounded as he said it aloud. But it was true - and these guys worked for the Council, they knew about vampires and magic.
"Really?" The man sounded skeptical.
"Oh, come on, you guys work for the Council. You've seen Vampires and magic and all that and you don't believe that magic can switch two people's bodies?" It happened all the time in comic books and on Star Trek. It really wasn't that hard to believe that it would happen in real life, since magic was actually a thing.
And of course, when it happened, it happened to you. This could only happen to you, Xander.
"I'm sure it can, but it is rather immaterial. We're hired to deliver a package - what's inside the package doesn't really matter." The man said with a shrug, "Even if what you say is true, Miss Lehane is in an entirely human body and no longer our concern or a threat. Whereas this body - your body - remains the active Slayer." There was a slight mocking note to his tone that only made Xander angrier.
Well, angrier and also mortified, and he felt his face heat up, flushing.
Okay that makes sense... if you're an evil idiot working for the Council That Sits On Their Ass and Does Nothing While Drinking Tea!
"Oh, come on! She's the murderer, not me! This isn't going to - I'm not a- Let Me Go!" He shouted, pulling against the chains, pressing his feet - Faith's feet? Her feet? Fuck this was confusing - against the floor of the truck, trying to use it as leverage for pulling on the chain.
Okay, no, not 'her' feet. I'm still me in here. And as long as I'm in this body, they're 'my' feet.
My arms absolutely failing to break this chain. They really knew how to make these strong even for a Slayer, apparently... fuck.
His boobs. A small part of him - the little horny voice in his head that was always thinking about sex - didn't think that part was a bad thing, but since his hands were a little chained up, he really couldn't take advantage of it even if he wasn't also... you know.
Freaking out. Freaking out at having his body stolen and being stuck in a woman's body when he was a guy and now he had boobs and a-
Then another thought occurred to him, which chilled his blood and forced all other thoughts to draw to a standstill.
Faith had said something about... planning to do this to Buffy. Well, she said 'go blonde' but who else could that me, in this context?
Fuck. That makes sense. She'd get away from the police, leaves Buffy to get arrested or worse, and she could just run off... and she'd keep Slayer strength... and after we switched, somehow the device was on my body's hand, which means she still has it. And if Buffy doesn't realize something's wrong...
Xander's mind immediately leapt to the worst scenario, on several levels - Faith switched bodies with Buffy and then... and then killed his old body, with Buffy in it. Which would leave Buffy dead, and his own body dead, and most comic books and sci-fi shows and stuff that did body switching tended to leave people stuck if their original bodies died.
So badness on all sorts of levels and then Faith could run away or just... do whatever she wanted. In Buffy's body. Tarnishing Buffy's good name.
"Just let me go!" Xander yelled again, "Faith is running away with my body!"
"Do shut up and stop struggling, or we'll have to reconsider the 'mostly unharmed' part of your delivery. Or worse." The lead guy said. "The Council wants you alive, but if you continue to give us trouble, Miss Lehane-"
"Mr. Harris! I'm Xander, you-!" Xander cut off as it registered what the goon said.
No, no getting shot. No dying. Not on the to-do list. Buffy will find you - she's been looking for Faith, and so that means she's going to be looking for you...
Fingers crossed, anyway, because otherwise Xander was facing what could be a very short life ahead of him, or possibly a very long life stuck in this body.
At the moment, he wasn't totally sure what prospect was worse. Biting his lip again, he tried to take a deep breath, heart pounding as full realization dawned on him at just how screwed he really was, if Buffy didn't come to rescue him very soon.
"Good. Now, do be silent." the boss-guy said, turning away and then walking out of sight.
I want my Buffy!
Xander lay there, heart pounding in his chest, eyes dropping down to his heaving breasts - okay, no, these are still Faith's breasts not mine - as he started to hyperventilate, breath moving fast in and out of his mouth, shallow, not really helping him with his efforts to break the chains, which were still going absolutely nowhere...
After a few minutes of straining, he couldn't keep it up anymore, and he just sort of collapsed. Half-leaning against the wall as he accepted there was just nothing he could do about the chains, couldn't get them free, not at this angle. Either he'd have to be let go or...
Or what? I don't have another option!
What did they do to these chains? Make them out of magic? Then again, the Council would need to have chains that could deal with a Slayer that 'went rogue', just like they had that fancy injection Giles gave Buffy before that stupid test when she turned 18.
Breaths still coming fast and shallow, Xander tried to take deeper breaths, tried to close his eyes, find a happy place... something, but everything - felt wrong. The hair tickling the back of his neck, the weight on his chest, the sound of his breathing... it made it impossible for him to do anything but be intensely aware of the fact that he was in the wrong body, and a girl's body at that.
And then the worst realization yet dawned on him.
I don't- my-
Xander looked down his body to his waist, trying to bend a little and push his hips up to get visual confirmation, unwilling to believe it until he saw...
His crotch. Flat.
My- I don't have- I don't have a dick... because of course I don't because Faith doesn't, because she has a-
She had... the other thing. A vagina. Or any number of other slang terms that rose to mind
And now, he had one.
Xander had thought he'd been hyperventilating before, but now it really picked up, and he started feeling light-headed. It was all he could do for the next several moments to keep himself from blacking out entirely from shock, as he felt himself trying to just... reject reality and keep pretending and-
He couldn't. This was happening. For now, for the moment, he was in a girl's body, and that body had boobs and long hair and- and- female parts.
Doesn't change the fact that I'm a guy. Faith's a girl. I'm just in her body because she's an evil, murdering, body-stealing bitch!
The hyperventilation kept going, and for a moment, Xander contemplated whether or not just letting himself go unconscious might not be the best idea, since he couldn't get free and at least while he was out he could pretend this wasn't happening. But his survival instincts told him he needed to try to stay conscious, try and find a chance to escape.
I have slayer strength, they said... this body has slayer strength. I need to figure out how to use it-
If they ever got close, maybe he could... kick them in the balls? What would that feel like with Slayer strength behind the kick? Just thinking about it made him wince, a phantom flash of pain running through him and he shuddered at the idea.
Still, the idea of doing it to the Council goods, if he could ever get free... it sounded like fun to him. Show them what it feels like to suddenly be dickless!
The thought of doing that to Faith when he caught up to her, before switching bodies sounded good for a moment, before he realized that once he switched bodies he'd be the one with the suddenly really painful/possibly destroyed crotch.
So... yeah, not a good plan. Kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face, or whatever the cliche was.
Mind racing, pulse bounding, and breath still going way too fast - his head still felt light, but at least he was managing to not black out still. Xander was stuck there, in the back of the truck, chained up and left with nothing but a parade of horrifying scenarios of what could go wrong.
Faith was a killer, and there was nothing to stop her from killing again. What if she killed everyone? Will, Buffy, Giles, Mrs. S, Deadboy?
Okay, that one I don't mind so much.
He'd have taken at least a tiny bit of comfort in the fact that Faith would have no reason to kill Anya since she never even knew her, but-
I don't think she needs a reason, since she's psycho!
And of course, everything that could go wrong with him. Because unless something changed or he got rescued or he found a way to escape, he was...
Going to England. To the Council For... whatever the hell they were up to and planning on doing to Faith.
They want her alive, so that means like... trial, not execution? Unless they wanted to make some big show of it, which would totally fit with everything else the Council had done.
What did Willow call them that one time?
Xander furrowed his brow, trying to remember, before it came to mind: Megalomaniacal, patriarchal, power-mongering, poopy-heads.
It was typical of his best friend that she'd combine big words with 'poppy-heads', and that time it hadn't even been because she'd lost the thread of her insult and lost track of what she was saying - which had also happened.
Will just doesn't have it in her to be mean, most of the time. Not that she couldn't be scary, from time to time.
So the Council could be interested in making a big show trial of it, like what happened in all those third world countries with dictators in fancy military uniforms or whatever it was that was going on in those action movies before the explosions and gunfire.
Somehow, freaking out about his possible death was actually a better feeling than freaking out about the fact that he was in a girl's body, so he tried to focus on that. Pushing himself up into a sitting position and staring straight ahead, he tried not to look down at Faith's body at all.
It was hard to be sure how long he was sitting there, freaking out about his possible death and at what Faith could be up to, but it couldn't have been too long. He was pulled out of his low-burn panic - a little bit anyway - by the sound of fighting: fists hitting flesh, someone crashing into boxes, the sound of a crossbow going off-
"Really? Has that ever actually worked for you?" Buffy's voice said somewhere nearby, and Xander jolted a bit in surprise and hope. Rescue! He was about to call out to her, call for help, when he realized that he still sounded like Faith.
How to convince her - tell her something Faith wouldn't know? That's how it usually worked in the TV shows and comics, but what? His mind raced, trying to think of something that, unquestionably, Faith wouldn't know. There were a lot of ideas that came to mind, of course, and after a moment, he settled on a few that he'd just have to rattle off quickly before she started punching and kicking who she thought was Faith.
Then there was the sound of a silenced gun going off - louder than silenced guns sounded like on TV, but still not the same loud shot, and then - thank god - Buffy's voice again.
"Missed me. I'd say try again, but you lost your last life, so game over." The thud and a grunt and then the sound of someone else hitting the floor, and then Buffy ran into view.
"Faith!" Buffy said, sounding furious, and holding a loaded crossbow, not coming close, but aiming it at him. "Where is Xander!? If I find out you hurt him, so help me god-" she cut herself off, waving the crossbow threateningly. "What did you do to him?"
Under other circumstances, the anger and concern in Buffy's voice would have been heartwarming - he knew Buffy cared about him and his well being, but it felt kind of good to have such a clear presentation of that fact.
"Buffy!" Xander hurriedly tried - and failed - to hold his hands up, the chains pulling his arms back, but at least making it clear he couldn't come at her even if he tried. "I'm not Faith!"
"Really? Then what are you, her good twin!?"
Hey, good one, part of Xander's brain noted. Faith was obviously the evil twin here.
"No, I- It's me! Xander! Faith- she switched out bodies to get away from those Council goons!" Xander said hurriedly, and he could see the doubt on Buffy's face, but he kept going, talking quickly while trying to avoid babbling his way into not being understood at all.
"I mean it! Uh- at the beginning of the college year, when you were in the Bronze after Sunday hurt your arm and took all your stuff, I tried to give you a pep-talk, which you called 'dadist' and then I told you 'you're my hero'. Over the summer I tried to go on a road trip but instead I got stuck washing dishes at the Fabulous Ladies Nightclub in Oxnard."
"And then one of the male strippers got sick-" Buffy started, and Xander caught on exactly what she was looking for - that final confirmation, and so he gave it.
"No power on this earth, Buffy." Xander repeated, and Buffy lowered the crossbow, smiling a little.
"Okay that's definitely you, Xander. Faith switched bodies with you?!" Buffy smiled even more broadly, then started giggling, managing to get out more words between laughs. Xander felt his cheeks got hot again, momentarily wishing he could just sink into the floor and vanish.
"She- you- switched..." she lost it for a moment, then, still grinning, she took a breath and said, "Oh god, this could only happen to you, Xander."
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up," Xander said, unable to entirely stop the frustration, fear and mortification - thanks, Word-a-day calendar - from making him lash out at Buffy in his tone. "You're not the one that-" words failed him and he just gestured - as much as he could - at Faith's body, letting out a 'gah!' of incoherent distress that sounded much less satisfying in Faith's voice.
Buffy cut herself off, going quiet for a minute, "Right, yeah... sorry." She said, "It's kind of funny from where I'm standing but... not for you. But you do have to agree - this really only could happen to you. I mean, Hyenas and love spells and syphilis... everything happens to you."
"Yes, I noticed. Can we worry about laughing about this and how it's so 'on brand' for this to happen to me after I'm not chained up and we've talked to Giles and Will and gotten them to figure out a way I can get my body back?! Preferably before Faith runs off with it to Cancun or whatever! I don't want to be like this for any longer than I have to!" If it took any time at all to find Faith, or if she'd already left Sunnydale...
Hopefully she's still sticking with her plan to find Buffy-
"How did you even know that Faith had done something to me?" he asked, suddenly, as Buffy stepped out of view, hopefully to find the keys to the chains.
"Spike," Buffy answered, coming back into view, keys in hand. She climbed into the truck and walked over to him, crouching to get at the locks on the shackles. "He saw Faith grab you and put a knife to your throat, and then came to gloat at me about how she was going to kill you. I tried to make him tell me, but he ran off before I could catch him. Then Giles told me that the Council had spent these three to find her, and this was where the were hiding. So I figured I'd start here, since I didn't have anywhere else to start short of threatening Willy again."
"If I say I'm thankful for fangless, can you promise to never tell him I just said that?" Xander asked, a small trickle of relief flowing through him as the shackles ran were removed from his wrists. He rubbed at them for a moment, then stopped, the alien feeling of Faith's skin and arms under his fingers - Faith's fingers - just one more unpleasant reminder of just how fucked he still was.
"Promise," Buffy agreed, visibly trying to hold back a smile.
They got out of the truck, and Xander had to grab Buffy's arm for a moment in order to not fall. Everything felt weird just standing up. New sensations assaulted him and his balance was off. Then Xander remembered - again - what Faith had said right before switching their bodies. Everything else had driven it out of his mind for a moment.
"This did happen to me, but it could have happened to you too, you know," Xander said as he followed Buffy out of the warehouse - though he was going slowly, almost having to relearn how to walk - Faith's legs and hips weren't what he was used to, and the muscle memory was clashing with his own idea of how to work, and every time he tried to step, the two kept tripping him up. He kept one hand on the pile of crates and boxes next to him, using it to stabilize him as he walked. Each step, at least, was a little bit easier, as he adapted.
Buffy stopped and just stared at him for a moment, and Xander went on. "Faith told me she was originally gonna do this to you until those council goons showed up. So... don't shake hands with me, if you see me. Until you're sure I really am me." Xander frowned. "You know what I mean."
As Buffy considered that, the height difference struck Xander hard. He’d been used to being over a foot taller than her and now they were nearly eye to eye. Much of that might be Buffy’s heels vs Faith’s nearly flat boots, but it still shocked him.
"Yeah," Buffy said; one fist clenched, inhaling a long, deep, seething breath. "Come on, let's find your body and put you back into it so I can give Faith the beat-down she so richly deserves right now. Steal your body, try to steal mine? Oh, she is so going back into a coma!"
That sounds like a good idea to me. Once she was back in her own body, anyway.
Coma or prison. Maybe both.
Both would be good.
Chapter 3: Getting to Know Me
Disclaimer: Still don't own it.
In trying to capture Xander's likely thoughts, given his status as a fairly clueless about these things, if usually well-intentioned (to my mind) young man from the late 90s and early 2000s, I am using phrasing and terminology, as well as attitudes, that I don't entirely approve of (or at all) IRL. Or that just aren't the accepted way of discussing these things anymore.
There is a plan for this story, but it's going to move at its own pace in the process.
Thanks to Oxnate, for beta-reading
This Year's Boy
Chapter 3: Getting To Know Me
February 23, 2000
Streets of Sunnydale
Xander found, as he followed Buffy out of the warehouse and onto the Sunnydale streets, that if he didn't think too hard about his walking, it was easier. Of course, that wasn't so easy given how different he felt, how different everything felt. He was shorter, which also made everything weird - though still taller than Buffy, even if only by a tiny bit. Not that that was hard. Everyone was taller than Buffy.
"Okay, so - hopefully, Faith will come for you and, knowing that she's not me, you can knock her out and then Willow and Giles can figure out how to put me back in my body," Xander said, between hesitant steps before he tried to force himself to take a breath and - again - stop thinking about it.
"Just," he added, after a moment, "Don't hit her too hard, okay? Not while she's in my body."
Buffy looked back and smiled, "I'll do my best." There was a payphone near the warehouse, so it wasn't a long walk to that. "The faster we get Willow working on a spell to switch your bodies back, the better, so let's have her meet us at Giles' place."
"Faster is better," Xander agreed, stumbling a moment, but managing to stay on both feet despite some ungainly near-falls. Fuck, how does anyone walk like this? He could only thank the Baby Jesus that Faith wasn't wearing anything with heels - not that he recalled her ever really doing that, but he hadn't exactly paid much attention to Faith's shoes, most of the time.
But if she had been wearing heels, he'd probably have broken his nose by now.
And Anya would probably be making some sort of comment about the oppressive patriarchal structures forcing women to wear such awful shoes just to hobble women, or something like that. Xander couldn't help the soft smile at imagining his girlfriend's reaction to him failing to walk around in heels - she sometimes went a little too far on hating men in general, but he liked her passion, when she got really heated about it, and it's not like he wasn't forced to admit she often had a point. And he didn't always say that just to avoid an argument. Sometimes, true, but... she had a point.
Of course, thinking about Anya reminded him of her favorite activity, as it inevitably did - sex.
And how now... he...
Anya liked sex. A lot. And those few nights when he didn't feel up to it, which did happen, she was never happy about it, though she mostly respected his wishes on that front. But she liked to have sex basically every night. And unless he got this sorted out and his body back tonight...
How was his girlfriend going to react? This was temporary - it had better be, anyway - but how long to undo and fix it? Knowing his girlfriend, and given how much work she'd put into teaching him the best way to bring her off with his tongue - and never had Xander had such enjoyable lessons in anything - she might just have him give her orgasms that way. She might even say as much in front of everyone else.
Why do I always fall in love with the tactless ones?
And while he wasn't against the idea, especially since it was the only option left, the idea of having sex with his girlfriend while looking like Faith... the thought didn't sit right with him.
All these thoughts passed through Xander's mind, distracting him and making it easier for him to walk - until he realized that was what was happening, and he stumbled again. There was an overhanging tree-branch, thick and sturdy, just above him. He reached out, grabbing at it to try and stabilize himself...
And the branch, thick as his arm and solid, snapped right off the tree. The sheer force of the break carried him down with it, and surprise did the rest - he fell on the ground, nearly face first, the broken branch still in one hand. The only reason he didn't smash his nose into the sidewalk was because, acting quicker than he thought he'd ever be able to, he moved his other arm in the wyatt the last minute, breaking his fall. Though, it meant his hand scraped across the pavement briefly, and mildly painfully.
In a very unmanly - literally - yelp of pain and surprise, Xander realized he hadn't actually broken his nose in the fall - thank god - and Holy shit I just broke the branch without even trying.
"Xander!" Buffy had turned around, and crouched down to help him up. She saw the branch and her eyes widened a moment. Then she smiled, "Well, look at the bright side of all this, Xander."
"Bright side?" Before he could make the obvious connection that Buffy had equally, obviously just made, Xander's resentment at the situation he found himself in kicked in, and he let a bit of it out as he let go of the branch, brushing himself off, "What could possibly be the 'bright side' about yet another instance of the universe making me it's butt monkey?!"
"You have Slayer Strength," Buffy pointed out, smiling. "That's not something you could have done just like that." She gestured to the branch, then frowned. "You should probably be really,really careful closing doors until we fix this," she added.
Slayer strength? She was right. He looked down at his hands, and then opened and closed them. Despite everything, the thought of having strength equivalent - or nearly so - to Buffy, or some random vampire - greater than one of those, right? - was a nice one. He'd long since resigned himself to being the Zeppo, to being the guy who didn't add anything directly to the fight, to being the normal guy...
And now I'm not normal, but I have to be a girl to be it. My joy cannot be contained or expressed in words.
But all that aside, he wondered if they'd have enough time for him to punch a vampire a few times, maybe knock it around a room once or twice. That would almost make up for being subjected to this whole mess.
It was a thought that brought a smile to his face, and he nodded.
"Yeah... I guess that is a bright side, yeah." He grinned, "and now we know for sure that Faith doesn't have any Slayer strength. Just regular old me strength." Sure, Xander wasn't physically weak, especially not after getting into construction, but he might as well be made of paper as far as a Slayer was concerned.
"True," Buffy laughed. "Faith must be having a hard time being normal." She scoffed, "Almost makes me want to leave things like this for a while, let her suffer."
"Hey!" Xander objected. Sure, Slayer strength was cool, but he didn't sign up for losing his manhood and living in the body of a psycho-killer.
Shit. She's probably wanted by the cops still. Which means I am.
Not that they could hold him, but the cops did have guns. That shot bullets. And even a Slayer can't outrun a bullet. Well, can they? That was a good question.
Also one he didn't want to test.
"I said almost!" Buffy countered defensively. They were close to the pay phone, so Xander stood, pondering his cool new strength boost, temporary as it was, while Buffy dialed collect for Giles.
"Giles, I found Faith. Sort of. The Council's goons might wake in a few hours with headaches, though," Buffy explained. She paused, while Giles said something. "One of them tried to shoot me! I wasn't going to be too gentle after that. But they're kind of out of commission for now. That's not - like I said, I found Faith. But it's complicated. Can you call Willow? And Anya? Have them meet us at your house?"
"Well, if we didn't blow up the library last year, I'd say we should meet there. But we did," Buffy replied. "No, I don't know Anya's number. Let me ask Xander. Yeah, he's here too." She turned back from the payphone, covering the mouthpiece tightly.
"I think this might be a conversation to have in person, so let's not go into detail. But what's Anya's number?" Xander gave it to her, and Buffy relayed it to Giles. "We'll be there in a bit. Oh, and um, if Xander gets there before I do, don't shake his hand or let him leave." She added that last part quickly, almost too quickly to be understood, and then hung up the phone, before Giles could respond.
"Maybe we should have just explained?"
"Would you have believed me if I told you Willow and Faith had changed bodies, over the phone?" Buffy asked, after a moment, Xander shrugged helplessly.
"I don't know?" Which, he supposed, was kind of an answer. "Okay, fine, but let's go." As he followed Buffy to Giles's house - and hoped that they didn't run into any cops - he occupied his mind, much as he could, with the question of what he would say to Giles, Willow and Anya to convince them, if they had doubts. It didn't take him long, thankfully.
February 23, 2000
Giles's Apartment, Sunnydale
When they finally reached Giles’ apartment, Xander hesitated, drawing up short. A sudden nausea settled into his stomach, as he realized what was next - everyone, not just Buffy, finding out what had happened to him. And how would Anya react? Poorly? Would she laugh? Or would everything be fine and he was overreacting?
"Xander?" Buffy turned, gesturing at the door. "Come on."
"Gimme a sec," Xander muttered. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, trying to psyche himself up for it. It didn't really work. But knowing that this was the only way to get back his body - he could hardly run off and do it himself - he opened his eyes and nodded. "Okay. I'm - not really ready, but I mean, who can be ready for this? I'm ready-ish, let's go with that." He spoke quickly, channelling a bit of Willow as he babbled, but nodded again when he was done.
"I'll go in first." She knocked on the door to Giles's place, while Xander kind of hid right out of direct sight of the doorway, so Buffy could at least prepare him and the rest a bit.
"Buffy," Giles said, as he opened the door. "You said you found Faith - and where's Xander?"
"You know how I said sort of?" Buffy said, then she gestured for Xander to step into view. Hesitantly, Xander did just that. "This is the sort of. Xander and Faith switched bodies."
Giles cough-sputtered, then after a moment, he cleared his throat and started cleaning his glasses. "I - you're saying that's Xander."
"Yeah, it's me G-man," Xander said, looking up at the watcher. He'd always been a bit shorter than Giles, but now he actually had to really look up to meet the guy's eyes. Just how tall was Faith?
Buffy's like 5'2" or something, even if she insists she's 5"3, and I'm a bit taller than her, though she does have the heels, so... what am I'm 5'5" now? 5'6"? Yeesh.
"That's - that's quite an extraordinary claim." Giles said, putting his glasses back on. "I assume you confirmed?"
"He knew something Xander would never tell Faith, and that she wouldn't know any other way," Buffy said, smiling a little. Yeah, that was true - Xander would never, even if Faith hadn't been evil, mentioned the Fabulous Ladies Nightclub. No Power On This Earth.
Over Giles's shoulder, Xander could see Willow and Anya crowding the doorway. Xander inhaled a deep breath again, then started speaking.
"Giles, when Angelus took you prisoner and I helped you get away, you said Drusilla had made you see things that weren't there, and I pointed out that they'd never make you see me of all people." Giles cleared his throat again and nodded.
"That seems unlikely for something for Faith to know." He stepped aside, out of the way of the doorway. Buffy went inside, Xander behind her. "How exactly did this happen?"
"Faith had some sort of magic-thingy on her hand. I wasn't her first choice for body theft, but the council's goons had guns. So... you know, better to serve me up to them." Xander turned to Anya. he said one word. He was pretty sure, from other things Anya had said about her past, it was in Old Norse, but he had no idea what it meant. Just that Anya shouted it a lot when they were having sex.
Unsurprisingly, Anya didn't flush or anything like that.
"Well, it's definitely you then," She said. Before Xander realized what was happening, she hugged him tightly, and Xander was treated to the feeling of their chests pressing up against each other.
BOOBS! There was an electric jolt that ran through his body at the sensation, but showing more self-control than he actually thought he had, Xander forced himself not to follow any train of thought about what that meant.
Anya pulled back, frowning. "This won't do at all."
Xander's heart sank, "Ahn?"
"Well, how can you give me orgasms when you're like this?" she asked, still frowning. Xander felt heat rise in his cheeks - funny, he thought he was done flushing when Anya brouht up their sex life in public. "We have to fix this."
"That's the idea, Ahn," Xander said. "Not planning on staying like this forever."
"Good." Anya nodded, smiling. Then, she cocked her head to the side, considering. "Though, I suppose you still can-"
Xander made a noise of interruption quickly, bringing his finger up to his lips to further make the point. "Anya, let's talk about that when it's just the two of us, okay?" He looked her in the eyes - they were basically the same height now. "Please?"
Anya pouted a little, glaring at him for a moment, then nodded. Xander turned to Willow, who was still looking a bit suspicious, but only a bit.
"Remember this, Willow?" Xander started to do the Snoopy Dance, like he used to do for her every Christmas when she came over to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas at his place. Of course, it wasn't quite the same in his current body, and he stumbled, nearly falling over again after a few moments, but from the giggle that escaped Willow he'd made his point.
"This is so you, Xander," Willow said after a moment. "All the weird stuff happens to you." She laughed again, but only for a moment.
"Totally on brand for me, yeah," Xander agreed. "How do I get my body back, though? Preferably before Faith breaks too many laws while pretending to be me." Somehow, he didn't think 'she stole my body!' was a valid legal defense in front of a judge. This wasn't Star Trek.
He hated to sound like a broken record, but he really, really, really wanted to be sure there was a way out of this. There had to be, right? Sure, magic was screwy, but magic could always undo magic, right?
Then again, Willow hasn't been able to figure out how to un-rat Amy, so maybe not always .
"I... I'm not altogether sure," Giles admitted. "I know there are magics that can switch bodies... all of them require both bodies to be in relative proximity though. Which means we need to find - well, find you. Or, well, your body, anyway." He closed the door, which had been open the whole time since they came in.
"There's magic for that, right? To find her?" Xander asked, hopefully.
"If we had some of your hair, or something like that, yes, we could," Giles said.
"I've got a comb at home. I could-" Then Xander cut himself off. No, he couldn’t go to his house. His parents wouldn't let him in, and...
Oh god. Dad will make some-
He cringed, feeling nauseous again. His dad would probably take one look at Faith's body, think she was a hooker and make some clumsy pass or something worse. Depending on how drunk he was at the time.
The thought almost made him gag.
"Or someone else could go and get something," Xander changed tack. "I don't think - can't really go home like this." He looked to Anya. "Could you- please, Ahn?"
Anya nodded, "If it'll get you back faster, okay."
"I think I remember reading about body-switching spells." Willow volunteered. "I'd have to look it up, but I'm pretty sure I could cast one. Might need a little help, once I know..." she trailed off, thoughtfully, as if she had an idea. But if she did, she wasn't sharing.
"How long would all this take?"
"Not very long, likely." Giles said. "Tracking spells are usually a simple matter, though I don't have any of the ingredients..."
"I don't either." Willow chimed in. "So we'd have to go the magic shop, and they're closed."
"So it's not gonna get fixed tonight. Yay." Xander balled one hand into a fist and hit his leg lightly a couple times, trying to stop from freaking out again. Just one night. Not the end of the world, right?
"I don't think so, no," Willow said. "But hopefully tomorrow. Unless Faith leaves Sunnydale... then we have to go-."
"Let's not think about that, please." Xander interrupted, desperately.
"It would be best to plan for such an eventuality, Xander." Giles said. "If Faith finds out the Council's special operations team doesn't have you anymore, she's hardly going to stay in Sunnydale where Buffy can catch her. Not when she's no longer the Slayer, at least in terms of the associated strength and speed."
"Wait, you've got Slayer strength?" Willow's eyes widened, gasping a little.
"Apparently, yeah." Xander nodded. "I mean, I guess that's technically a bright side, but if someone offered me the deal, I'd have said no."
"Because being a woman is so bad?" Anya asked, and Willow and Buffy both stared at him expectantly.
"No, but I'm not a woman!" he protested, even knowing how stupid it sounded to say that in Faith's voice. "I like not having to sit down to pee, among other things. I'm a guy. Guys aren't supposed to -" he gestured helplessly at himself.
I mean, sure, it could be interesting to find out how the other half lives, but like... I'm a guy not ah... transvestite! Okay, no, that wasn't the right word. That was just dressing like a woman. Xander couldn't remember the right word off the top of his head, but he wasn't one of those people who wanted to get sexual-reassignment surgery.
I like my dick, thank you very much. Just the thought of someone cutting theirs off made him want to cross his legs and cover his crotch. Like, if that's what they wanted, more power to them, but...
"Right," Giles said after a moment, clearing his throat again. He reached for his glasses, probably about to clean them again - Xander was pretty sure he just did it to have an excuse to not say something for a moment - then seemed to think better of it. "Why don't you tell us exactly what happened with Faith, so we can better determine how to restore you to your proper body."
Xander took a breath and nodded. "Sure." He detailed the short course of events - Faith taking him hostage, their brief chitchat, the Council's goons showing up with guns, and Faith using that weird metal thing with the rings
"I don't think I've heard of anything quite like that..." Giles admitted, and Willow nodded in agreement.
"But you guys can still-"
"Of course," Willow interrupted, nodding again, vigorously. "There's more than one spell that can switch bodies... they all work differently, but as long as we have your old body back, It shouldn't be too hard." She sounded very, very confident, but Willow always did when it came to magic. And, to be fair, it usually worked out.
Not that it always did, but he was definitely preferring to believe in Willow this time than not.
"I'll bow to your expertise, assuming I don't find anything in my research that countermands what you're saying," Giles acknowledged towards Willow.
"So... what's the verdict? Xander's stuck for the rest of the day, until we can get the stuff needed for the tracking spell?" Anya summarized. "But then there should be an easy way to give him his body back? Is there any reason we need to stand around here talking about it anymore?"
"I guess not..." Buffy said, looking over to Willow and Giles.
"No, I don't believe so." Giles admitted. "Well, I suppose there's one issue left - where is Xander going to be staying the night? He can hardly go home... well, like this. And the police are looking for Faith."
"Another question - what is Xander going to wear tomorrow?" Buffy asked. "I'd just say one of us could lend him an outfit, but I don't think any of our clothes would fit..." Buffy gestured awkwardly at her chest, then Xander's - Faith's - in turn.
"Faith does have impressive breasts," Anya observed, her voice fairly level. "I can see why you had sex with her."
"I'm not sure she would have taken no for an answer then," Xander said, heat rising in his cheeks as he realized he said that allowed. But really, sure he hadn't been arguing, but given what happened later... yeah. How did Buffy say Faith had put it that one time? Want, Take, Have. Yeah, that had summed that whole thing up.
"And can we not talk about that please?" Xander asked quickly.
"You're in her body right now, Xander, I think you can talk about-" Anya started, but Xander gave her what he hoped looked like a pleading look, and after a moment, she stopped talking.
"As for your question, Buff, I think I can just re-wear the same clothes? I mean, it's only one day." Buffy looked a little annoyed at the notion, but she nodded.
"I suppose, it really is just the one day."
"Hopefully." Anya chimed in. "I mean, for all we know, Faith is on a bus to Cancun right now."
Really comforting, Anya, Xander thought.
"Let's worry about that later. I mean, I can't go to the mall anyway - not as long as the cops want Faith," Xander pointed out. Xander hated the process of trying on and buying clothes as a guy, he had no doubt he'd hate it as a girl even more.
"Xander can crash on my mom's couch," Buffy suggested. "I mean, there's no room at our dorm," she gestured to herself and Willow, "and there's not really enough room for Xander here either," She gestured around Giles' living room.
"Shouldn't we ask your mom before you volunteer her couch?" Xander asked cautiously. He was just glad Anya wasn't suggesting he crash at her place - wherever exactly that was. She was quite protective of her own space. But as much as Xander would have liked the idea of spending the night with his girlfriend in theory, especially after the day he'd just had, if he stayed over with Anya, he was worried his girlfriend would suggest he put his oral practice to use, giving her orgasms.
Which, on the one hand, he wasn't against - he liked making Anya feel good - but the idea of having sex, any kind of sex, while looking like this was... for some reason, it didn't sit well with him. And given that it was only the one night...
"Do you really think she'd say no?" Buffy asked. "Once mom knows you're you, and not Faith."
"... I guess not." He sighed, "Okay, I guess that makes sense." Mrs. S had done the thing where she kicked Buffy out, even if she hadn't really meant it, or so she said, but compared to his parents, she was downright perfect. And Buffy was probably right that she'd be cool with him crashing on her couch for the night.
Under other circumstances, Xander figured he'd be tired and ready to crash after everything that had just happened, but he felt... Wired. Like he'd just chugged three or four cans of coke or something. Overcaffinated, antsy, and unable to stay still.
If the cops didn't want Faith, I'd say I could go find a vampire to kill... Now that he knew for sure this had an endpoint, and one that would come soon, the urge to have a bit of fun with Slayer Strength was growing. Find a vampire, kick it around a few times, stake it. Wash, rinse, repeat.
That translating his learned-on-the-job fighting with normal human guy strength into fighting with Slayer Strength might be easier said than done wasn't really occurring to him.
But that wasn't an option, so he'd have to just deal with it and sleep.
"I'll go to your place and get some of your hair, or something," Anya said. "But I'm not an errand-girl."
"Anya, when this is over, I'll be more than happy to pay you back a thousand times over for helping," Xander assured her. He looked to Buffy, "Should we go?"
Xander pulled Anya in for another hug, and, as slightly weird as it felt, gave her a quick kiss. "See you tomorrow, Ahn," he said softly, and Anya nodded, giving him a quick kiss back.
"Tomorrow," she repeated, quietly as well. Xander started to follow Buffy out, then Willow called out.
"Hey, Xander," he turned. Willow had a slightly mischievous look on her face, "don't forget about those lists we made back in 10th grade. You know: you, me, and Jesse?" What lists? Xander's confusion must have shown on his face, because Willow just smiled, as if amused by joke she'd just thought of.
"Just think on it. I'm sure you'll remember."
Shaking his head a little, Xander turned back and followed Buffy out of Giles's place.
February 23, 2000
1630 Revello Drive, Sunnydale
Mrs. Summers hadn't needed any additional convincing that he was Xander, thankfully. Short of that one time she had tried to Mrs. Robinson him when half the town was under the control of that love-spell, he didn't really have anything he could have thought of. And he was pretty sure that Mrs. Summers had forgotten that whole incident, since it was before she had accepted the supernatural.
Either way, not the sort of thing he liked to think about. Or wanted to bring up.
Once Buffy had explained the situation, Mrs. Summers had had no problem letting Xander crash on the couch. It didn't pull out, but it would have been long enough even at his previous height, and since he'd lost like half a foot, there was even more room. He doubted it would be comfortable, but probably no worse than a sleeping bag in a tent during Christmas.
Once she had made sure Xander was good to stay here, Buffy had gone back out to look for Faith, and end the night at her dorm room.
Still not tired, however, Xander sat down on the couch, sort of staring blankly at the TV, which was turned off, thinking about... everything. Over and over and over again. And also, he was noticing, feeling a little hungry, though he felt too distracted to do anything about that.
Xander was feeling good about the prospects of this getting sorted out quickly, between what Willow and Giles had said. The only issue would be finding Faith, finding her running around in his body. If she heads for Buffy, Buffy will be able to deal with her. But she somehow realizes that Buffy knows, she'll run, right? Not that Xander could really be sure that anything Faith did would follow any sort of rational logic.
Crazy people just sort of did things. So who knew what she'd try to do.
But if she ran...
Well, that might leave him in this body for days, depending on where she ran, how fast...
She had Xander's car keys, but the car - Uncle Rory's car, fixed, sort of - was still kind of a piece of crap. She might take that car, she might take the bus. She had his money, such as it was. And Faith would have no qualms about more stealing.
Xander really, really didn't want to get back into his body only to find out he was a wanted man.
Faith, please don't get caught, if you insist on breaking the law. The silent 'prayer' wasn't exactly one he'd have expected to make, but it was the best hope he had.
"It tends to work better if you turn it on." Xander was jolted out of his thoughts by the sound of Mrs. Summer's voice from the entrance to the living room, holding a pillow and blanket. He got up and accepted both.
"Thanks." He set them down on the couch next to him, sitting down again.
"Just... thinking," He explained. "Got a lot to think about."
"I can imagine," Mrs. Summers sat down in one of the chairs, looking across at him. "How are you holding up?"
Xander inhaled a little as he thought about the question. How was he holding up? After a moment, he shrugged helplessly. "Better now that I know this is temporary," Buffy had explained to her mother that once they found Faith, Willow would be able to cast a spell or use a spell she'd already cast, or whatever it was, to switch him back. "Still freaking out a bit, but... I'm handling that, mostly."
He sighed, "Mostly, right now, I'm worrying about what if Faith breaks the law some more while she looks like me. Well, that and the fact that the cops are looking for Faith... and will think I'm her. I don't think I can tell a Judge that someone stole my body and I'm in theirs."
Mrs. Summers smiled slightly, "No, probably not. But you are okay, then?"
"About as much as I can be," Xander confirmed. He looked down at his hand and realized that he was drumming his fingers against his leg, and probably had been the whole time. "Feeling... antsy." His stomach rumbled a little. "And hungry." He frowned, a thought suddenly occurring - when was the last time Faith had eaten? Anytime he'd seen her eat, she'd always downed the food like a starving woman.
"I don't want to impose, since you're already-" Xander started, but Mrs. Summers shook her head.
"You don't need to ask. I should have thought of that. The few times Faith was over for dinner, she certainly proved more than capable of going through a lot of food. I'm sure I have some things you can snack on," she got up and headed for the kitchen, Xander following behind her.
"If you want to not wear the same clothes tomorrow, I might have some old clothes that could fit," Mrs. Summers offered as she pulled a box of Saltines, as well as a package of cookies, out of a cupboard. "I'd have to check."
"It's really not that big of a deal," Xander said, "I appreciate it though."
"It's no problem. They'll just stay in a box somewhere until I get around to donating them," Mrs. Summers waved her hand. "I'll find a few things. Though I suppose you'll have to wear the same bra, no matter what." Xander knew it was stupid, but he felt heat rise in his cheek at the mention of bras. He was wearing one, because Faith had been, but that had been another thing he had been trying to avoid thinking about.
Well, to be honest, he wasn't sure. Just... somehow having to wear a bra felt more real than a lot of other things?
Okay, Xander, that sounds really stupid when you put it like that.
"Okay," Xander didn't fight - Buffy's mom was trying to help, and he supposed he would rather wear something a little less... revealing than what Faith had been wearing. Even if only for a little bit.
Or more, if she runs.
Nope, nope, nope, no more worrying about that.
"There we go," Mrs. Summers handed Xander the cookies, the Saltines, an apple and a few other things. Xander also grabbed a glass and filled it up at the sink. His hands were a bit full now, but he was managing.
"Thanks," He said, "Not just for - but for letting me crash here."
"Not a problem. Still getting used to having no one else in the house, even after this many months," Mrs. Summers laughed a little. "You know where the bathroom is if you decide you want a shower. I'll be upstairs - yell if you need me."
Xander nodded. "Alright." He headed back to the living room, pulling the coffee table a bit closer to the couch after setting the food and his glass of water down on it. Then he grabbed a coaster and moved the water on top of it. He turned the TV on, keeping the volume from being too high, but he quickly stopped paying attention to the action movie from ten years ago that he'd settled on, his mind drifting.
To avoid thinking about all the things that could go wrong, which really was an endless rabbit-hole, Xander started thinking about the 'bright sides', such as they were, of his situation. First and foremost, of course, he had Slayer Strength. Assuming an opportunity presented itself, Xander really wanted to have the chance to use it, just once.
It would be nice to be able to take the fight to the vampires and demons for a change. It would be nice to not be the Zeppo, for a change. He'd always felt useless, compared to Willow and Giles and of course Buffy - and sure, he had a better handle on all that now, but it was still there. He was, after all, still puttering around, only partially employed, living in his parent's basement. Buffy and Willow had their lives together and were at college.
It had only driven his feelings of uselessness further, really.
Now, though, even if only for a little bit, he could at least feel like he was useful, just the one time. It was an appealing thought.
And that wasn't the only bright side, the more he thought about it, or at least, not the only potentially good thing that could come out of this.
It wasn't like he hadn't wondered what it would be like to be a woman. Idle thoughts you have when you're curious or bored. And now he had the chance, and, thankfully, one that would end.
Because sure, he'd wondered, but he'd never wanted to actually be a woman. Try it for a day or two, sure, what guy wouldn't enjoy playing with a pair of breasts attached to their own body for a while. Or more.
What was it Jesse said that one time? If he woke up a girl he'd be too busy playing with his boobs all day to ever leave the house?
Thinking about Jesse, as always, left him with mildly mixed feelings, guilt because he sometimes felt like he didn't think about the guy enough at all, remorse at having had to kill him, but also... Jesse was his friend, and had been for nearly as long as Willow. He had a lot of fond memories of the guy.
Thinking about that specific comment by Jesse, though, made him realize - finally - what Willow had meant about lists.
It was like... middle of Sophomore Year, a few months before Buffy came to town, and Xander had just read one of his comic books, where the superhero and his girlfriend had had their bodies switched by the villain of the issue, some mad scientist dude. Xander honestly couldn't remember the details, but he'd brought it up with Jesse and Willow, because it had been amusing, and at some point the conversation had turned to the question of 'what would you do if you woke up the other gender'. They'd made lists. Unsurprisingly, for sixteen year old boys, he and Jesse had come up with lists that leaned more on the... dirty side of things.
Willow's - well, if he remembered right, she had blushed quite furiously when writing the list, so she'd probably thought of a few things, but she certainly hadn't shared them with Jesse and him. Hers was more like 'pee standing up' and stuff like that.
Xander didn't remember his list exactly - if he'd kept it at all, it would be somewhere in his basement home, but he doubted he had - but he was pretty sure the first one on his list had been 'play with boobs' and that somewhere on it had been 'multiple orgasms'.
What? He had been, and still was, a horny teenager.
Thinking about it both made Xander feel curious and... weird. He was in a unique position, now, to feel what it was like to be a girl... like that.
I mean, this'll be ended tomorrow, or like, maybe the day after right? So if I want to do it, I should do it now?
Now that the thought was in Xander's head, it wouldn't leave. And why did it need to? Sure, the idea of feeling up a body that wasn't his, but that he was inside seemed a bit weird, but it was the body he was in, and she could hardly object he was doing something like that to her body, since she'd gone and stolen his.
After a long moment to psyche himself up, Xander took a deep breath.
"I'm gonna do it," he said quietly. He took his plate to the sink, threw away his trash and put the rest of the food away, then headed upstairs, trying to both move so quickly he wouldn't second-guess himself, and also not draw attention to himself. He went into the bathroom, then, as he started to close the door, remembered Buffy's advice about closing doors.
Very slowly, very carefully, he closed the door and clicked it shut. Everything looked fine. Facing the mirror, Xander undressed. It proved to be a little hard to get the shirt off right, but soon enough, he was standing in just Faith's bra and panties.
Seeing himself in women's underwear, even given that he was in a woman's body, made Xander's pulse race, and not in a good way, as he felt himself starting to breath quickly, as if about to start hyperventilating. Fortunately, he was able to get control of himself pretty quickly, holding onto the sink and closing his eyes for a moment as he took a couple breaths.
Now that he had a chance to really look at Faith's body, he could see where being in a coma hadn't been all that good for her. Compared to how she'd been before, she'd lost a little too much weight, her skin was a little too pale, and she seemed to have lost some of her muscle definition.
Probably only doing this well from a coma this long because she's got Slayer healing or something. Xander vaguely remembered something about the body atrophying during a coma, anyway. Maybe.
He looked at his reflection again, at the bra and panties he wore. Both were black, and while sexy, seemed, to his relatively untrained eye, to be somewhat more practical.
He had no idea what sort of bra it was - didn't look like a sports bra, and it didn't cover the top of her boobs - his boobs, for the moment - but it was a bra. It seemed - and felt - supportive but also restrictive.
It proved a little more difficult to take the thing off himself than it would have been to take it off Anya, but he managed to do the same, leaving himself standing there in just the panties. It actually felt pretty good, at least a bit, to get the bra off, and he let out an involuntary sigh of relief as he took it off.
Hesitantly at first, Xander brought a hand experimentally up to one boob and started to feel it, just sort of... rubbing and massaging and squeezing a bit. Not every single touch he gave himself felt good, but several did, and he felt several more of those electric thrills running down his body, both like and unlike what he'd felt with his dick. He tried to think of how to describe it, but the words failed him pretty quickly.
He pulled his hand back, and then cupped both breasts, feeling them. When he'd first woken up and seen them, Faith's boobs had seemed huge, massive on his chest, but now that he wasn't freaking out, no, nothing like that. Faith had a nice rack, but they weren't huge.
Which meant, at least for the moment, he had a pretty nice rack.
Okay, they're not really mine, but since this is the body I'm in, it's much simpler to think like that... Fuck, having his body swapped like this made even words confusing.
Pushing that aside, he started mimicking somewhat what he knew Anya liked, Xander started to play with his boobs for another few minutes. It felt... good. Weird and good, the feelings totally unfamiliar, but... good. Really, good actually. He hadn't even meant to keep going for that long, but after he started,and got the hang of what did and didn't feel good, it was hard to stop.
Fuck. The feeling of... like... heat gathering near his crotch, at the base of his stomach was only growing with each little jolt that ran through his body, and the antsy feeling he'd been feeling earlier grew much more intense, but totally different. It was... again, he had trouble finding the right words. His legs felt a little unsteady, almost, but not really. The urge to move his hand lower was growing inside of him, as he kept going with his breasts, he couldn't help but let out several soft-sounding gasps of increasing pleasure. Idly, he noted out different Faith's voice sounded from Anya's when she was gasping, but most of his mind remained focused on trying to describe how he felt.
He felt... tight, almost, his whole body more aware. He moved one hand down his torso, inching slowly along his stomach, but after a moment, he finally managed to stop.
No, not -
His breathing shaky, almost a bit ragged as he felt his pulse pounding even past his ears, heart thudding quickly and heavily in his chest, Xander took a few hesitant steps to the shower and turned it on, and while he waited for the water to get warm, took off the panties, getting, in the process, his first look at the crotch of his temporary body - at least the first look from this angle.
Experimentally, he trailed his hand down his body again, inhaling sharply, then hesitantly, experimentally touched himself down there, trying to apply what he knew made Anya feel good. After a few moments, he let out a moan.
That felt really good. The sensation that ran through the body there really - Xander's breathing quickened, but before he kept going, he stepped into the running shower, then resumed, slowly, still hesitantly, still unsure, getting less so every moment, he kept his fingers working between his legs. He finally found his clit and when his finger first brushed over it, he almost fell over - his legs buckled, and then they did more when he kept at it. What worked for his girlfriend seemed more or less just as good here, and with practice from his hard work under Anya's tutelage, he quickly found something building.
Again, like with everything else, it felt both alike and unlike anything he'd ever felt before. The building rush of pleasure inside of him felt like what he felt like when he had gotten himself off before, that moment before release, but this felt deeper, like it was his entire body, not just collected in his dick.
When the climax finally came, he let out a long, loud moan - he managed to bite his lip after the first moments, trying to control the volume, but what he couldn't do was stay standing. It was as much luck as anything else that he fell without hitting his head on the tub's faucet or hitting the wall-tile too hard, but he did fall as he came, the whole sensation of euphoria thundering through him and making him lose track of everything around him in a way that felt very familiar, but almost more so.
After he was done, which took longer than it ever had with a guy, Xander opened his eyes, totally ignoring the water streaming all around him as he sat there in the tub, breathing ragged and heavy.
"Holy fuck." In a lot of ways, it really didn't feel all that different. And yet in other ways...
It took some doing, but he did manage to feel that 'multiple orgasms' thing. And almost crushed the spigot for the tub when he grabbed onto it for stability.
He took long enough in the shower, in total, that the water was cold by the time he was done, but he felt a lot less antsy afterwards than he had before. And - well, he'd had his curiosity satisfied in a way that had felt really good.
Between that, and now being somewhat more tired and secure and calm in the notion that he'd be back in his own body tomorrow, so all this would be sorted out, Xander watched some more TV before eventually falling asleep on the couch.
Chapter 4: It Might Be Fun
Disclaimer: Buffy. Angel. I own neither show. Even if I did, this probably wouldn't have been canon. Some things should just stay in the realm of fanfic.
As I said before, this is point in Faith's life is not Faith at her best. This is still a bit before she acknowledges - to herself - her self-loathing and suicidal impulses, but she still has a pretty bent perspective on the situation. Hopefully I captured her mindset accurately and fairly.
Thanks to Oxnate for beta-reading
This Year Boy
Chapter 4: It Might Be Fun
February 23, 2000
Outside Giles' Apartment
Faith had not planned to end up in Xander's body, and she was not happy about having it. Oh, sure, it was interesting havin' a dick, and if she had more time, she might even stop and play with it. But it was hard to walk right in it - she kept wanting to walk one way, and the boytoy's body kept wanting to do it the other way.
And interesting or not, the dick was more than a bit distracting, and she'd only had it for an hour. She'd have liked to run straight to wherever B was, switch bodies and go, but Faith wasn't an idiot, whatever Buff and Red and Xander and English - all of them - thought. She knew she had to stop and make sure she got Xander right, at least enough to pass for a couple minutes, maybe a bit more if she ran into Red or someone else first.
Kind of surprised the loser stayed in town though, especially with High School over. Was he still crushing on Buff? Still hanging around because he wanted in her pants? Which was obviously why he'd ever stuck around.
When this is over, B will be in his pants.Ironic, or some shit like that, probably.
But after working on her expressions and her Xander-isms for an hour, she was sure she had it.
The question was - where was Buffy? She could be at her dorm room, or she could be with her boyfriend; that cornfed-looking muscular guy, all blandly handsome and boring. She really dropped Angel for him?
Because it had to be Buffy that did the dropping. Xan might have said Angel did the breaking up, but Faith didn't believe that for a second. Fang had that big forever yearning, like in that stupid movie about the princess and the guy who kept screaming his name and saying 'you killed my father'. Whatever it was called.
But Buffy could be out and about, looking for her, or anything else. Good places to start with be Mrs. Summer's house, or Giles's place. Get them to call Buffy, get her there, boom, switch bodies and go.
Once she had super-strength back, it didn't really matter who B told. Faith's original body was with the Council and gonna get killed sooner or later, by the cops if not the Council. And once she was stuck in Xander's weak-ass body, Buff would be no danger at all.
Of course, what she did then was a good question. She'd been hoping to borrow B's life for a few days, a week, before she figured out just what country she could run to. Somewhere warm and tropical. B's body looked good in a swimsuit, even if she didn't have real boobs to speak of.
That wasn't gonna work now.
Finally, after a few minutes, she decided to head to Giles's place first, figure out where Buffy was and get it all done. Maybe do the switch somewhere away from everyone else, leave B unconscious in this body. She'd threatened to nick Xander's throat and leave him out for the vamps. Maybe she should do that to Buffy, once she was in this body.
Would serve that self-righteous bitch right, after trying to feed her to Angel.
Faith tried to flip her knife, and only managed to drop the damn thing. Fucking shit.Useless fucking body. Clumsy as shit too.
But still, Faith managed to get to Giles's place. The lights were on inside, and she headed for the door, then paused as she saw something through the window.
Hesitating, Faith stepped away from the door, back to the window, and peered in through it.
And saw herself.
There she was - Xander was, in her body - looking uncomfortable and shit, with Buffy and Red and Giles and some other chick she didn't recognize. Brown hair, kinda pretty, makeup. Some new member of the pathetic scooby gang. She was standing closest to Xander, and looked even more unhappy than he did.
Have time for everyone but me. Sounded just like that. None of them had really even pretended to like having her around but B, and look how that fuckin' turned out.
How the fuck did Xander escsape the Council goons so quick? Didn't they chain him up or something? Or did B rescue him - and he convinced her who he was? Like out of those stupid space shows she'd sometimes watched on re-run at 2 in the morning. Star Walk or something like that. She refused to actually remember the name on principle.
She wasn't a fuckin' nerd.
Xander was, though.
The how didn't fucking matter, not now. She had to move, now, before they saw her. Faith pulled the gadget the Mayor had left to her out of her pocket, considering breaking it, so they couldn't force her back.
She wasn't going to prison, that was for sure.
But after a moment, she decided not to. No, she didn't want to stay stuck in Xander's body forever. She liked being a chick, liked being able to get men to do whatever she wanted. They were all just animals driven by their dicks.
She watched her body hug the new chick, and Xander's dick proved to be a perfect example of that problem.
Christ, how do men get anything done with-
Oh right, they didn't.
Faith chuckled at her own joke and hurried away as quickly and quietly as she could in this useless-as-shit body. She didn't want to stay Xander forever - guy's loserness might rub off on her - and she wanted a chick's body back. But after being a Slayer for a year, then losing it for an hour, Faith had no interest in being some weak-ass bitch again either.
Gotta find someone strong to switch with. Athlete, maybe, or just some woman who spent too much time at the gym. Gotta be hot too. That was important.
And if she's rich, even better.
Not that that wasn't a tall order.
She looked down at the device again once she slowed down a couple blocks from Giles's place, before sticking it back into her pocket.
Of course, even someone strong wouldn't be as good as being a slayer. Not when slayers were tough enough to go up against...
Faith smiled to herself as that thought occurred. She could always find a vampire to swap with, right? Strength, speed, hard to kill - no more getting stabbed in the gut. And sure, a stake in the heart would kill her.
But humans went down to that too.
Would suck to have to avoid the sun, but then, I've always been kind of a night person anyway...
The thought of a liquid diet, all blood, didn't really appeal to her, but she figured, once she was in a vampire body, she'd have vampire taste buds, right? So she'd probably love the taste of it when the time came, right?
Better than being... normal. Never normal again. Never gonna be weak enough to let people take advantage of her. Not again.
But where would she find a vampire she could switch with safely? Especially in this...
It was perfect. He was in L.A., which she could get to by bus easy. Then she had to find him, but once she did. Well, Fang didn't like Xan - the way he'd punched him when he pretended to be... when he pretended to be interesting, made that clear - but being all good guy and shit meant he wouldn't attack Xander either.
Tell him B's dead, let him suffer a bit, grab his hand while he's distracted... switch...
Wouldn't that be a great way to stick it to B? And to Angel - leave him stuck in Xander's body. Hell, she'd be doing him a favor - dumbass always wanted to be a real boy.
Now that she had the idea, she knew she had to do it. It would be too perfect. She could steal Angel's body, find herself the right lady vamp to switch into, and then she'd dust the body behind her - and there's no way that anyone would ever find her after that.
And then, someday, I'll come back. I'll show B. I'll give them all what they deserve, in the end.
But only after she'd had her fun.
And, if I get to be a vampire... no aging. Living forever. Faith liked the sound of that too.
That settled it. Take a bus to L.A. Find Angel. Switch bodies. Then switch again, once she'd found the right vamp to be.
Faith checked Xander's wallet. Not a lot of cash, but he did have a card. Enough to get to L.A.
As she moved as quickly as she could to the bus stop - not realizing just how dead the local nightlife was - Faith came to a few other decisions. It would take her a bit of time to find Angel. Time she could spend having a bit of fun.
Sure, she hadn't wanted to be a guy, didn't want to stay that way, but she had been curious what a blowjob felt like on the other end. And now she had a chance. Boytoy wasn't all that bad to look at, when he shut up. He could do with different clothes though. Dumbass looked stupid in this outfit.
That, and he had no fuckin' game. Xander couldn't talk a girl into sleeping with him to save his life. But Faith- well, Faith knew she had game. The best game. Be different, maybe, but she could totally do it. Have a bit of fun.
Not like Xander was ever getting his body back anyway.
If the Council had just done their fucking job and killed me- him. Grumbling mentally, Faith went back to figuring out what fun she was gonna have on the way to Angel.
February 24, 2000
1630 Revello Drive, Sunnydale
Xander's dreams had been... weird.
Unsurprisingly, more than a few of them had been sex-related. What he could remember of them, anyway. But most of them had featured sex while he was not... he.
I mean, I did just... yeah, last night. Still. Weird. And super-weird, Cordy had featured in them. Which was doubly of the weird. Sure, he occasionally thought about his ex, but he hadn't had any... well, sex dreams about her since Anya and him had started getting serious. Which was probably for the best.
Anya was pretty much the jealous type.
Regardless, Xander had woken up, a bit of a spring in his step. He was going to get his body back today - fingers crossed, knock on wood - and everything would be back to normal. Willow would buy the ingredients for the tracking spell, they'd find Faith, do the body switching magic and he'd be himself again.
Assuming all the magic worked like it was supposed to.
Let's just hope and pray with that, 'kay? Xander put his money where his mouth was and even offered a prayer to baby jesus about it. He really wasn't much for it, but he'd take every little advantage he could get today.
It was still early though - Faith's body hadn't needed much sleep, even with how late he'd actually fallen asleep and how exhausted he'd felt. Lacking anything else to do, Xander sat in front of the TV, munching on some toast - he was starving - with the TV on. Some stupid re-run or something. He wasn't really paying close attention.
He was halfway through reaching for the remote when the show cut out all of a sudden, with a breaking news logo, switching to the anchor behind the desk.
"We interrupt this program to bring you this special report - three unknown individuals, believed to be gang members, have attacked a church and taken the parishioners hostage. We now go live to our reporter on the scene."
The moment the words 'gang members' came out of the guy's mouth, Xander was jumping and reaching for the phone. He pulled up short before he grabbed it, hesitating, not wanting to break the thing. He'd left visible indentations in the coffee table when he'd knocked on wood; small, but totally there.
"...barricaded themselves inside the church, with over twenty parishioners. All three have been described as frighteningly disfigured, almost inhuman."
"Hello?" Willow's voice on the other end of the line said, sounding chipper. Willow the morning person struck again.
"Will, is Buffy there?"
"Fa- Xander," Willow stumbled for a moment, forgetting who she was talking to. "Yeah, she's here."
"We've got vampires with hostages - or at least 'deformed gang members', according to the local news," Xander scoffed. Did the local news actually believe that, or did they just hope everyone else did? Given that the Mayor had been trying to become a giant demon, Xander was pretty sure at least some of the cops in town knew and had just been covering things up when they blamed PCP and BBQ forks.
"In broad daylight?!" Willow raised her voice a little.
"Broad daylight," Xander nodded. "They went for a church," he looked back at the news report, trying to place which church - out of Sunnydale's forty-three - it was. "Graceful Restoration Church," he added. "Twenty hostages, at least three vampires. Police are already outside, trying to 'negotiate' with them, or something." he could only guess, anyway, by all the cops around the place.
"A church in broad daylight?" Buffy said from the other side, after Willow relayed that information, the slayer speaking loud enough for Xander to easily hear. "What kind of idiots are these vampires?"
"Buffy," Xander said loudly, "these are vamps. Most of them aren't really that good at the thinking - case in point, they always think they can beat you."
"Right. I'm on my way. Xander, can you meet me there?" Buffy said, apparently having grabbed the phone.
"Me, Buffy, you're the slay-" Oh, right. "Okay, look, I'd love to have the chance to beat up a vamp or two before-"
"I can handle three vampires," Buffy said confidently, "but handling three and keeping twenty hostages safe? You've got slayer strength, and it's not the same, but staking a vamp in the heart is the same no matter what, Xander!"
Xander took a breath. He was so used to having to stay back, away from the fighting - he'd killed a few vamps here and there, yeah, and he was always willing to if he had to, but -
His first instinct had been to stay back, and now - now he didn't need to. "Right, sorry. Just... not used to thinking of myself as able to get into the middle of the fight." Then he cursed, as another thought occurred "But the cops-"
"I'll do something to distract them, a spell or something," Willow suggested.
"Alright. I'm on my way," Xander hung up the phone and hurried into the kitchen, where Mrs. Summers was making herself some breakfast. "Mrs. Summers, tell me you have a stake and some holy water in the house?"
"Of course - I keep it by the door." Mrs. Summers said, showing him where both items were in the small table next to the door. "What's going on?"
"Vampires at Graceful Restoration." At Mrs. S's surprised expression, Xander nodded. "Yeah, vamps in a church in broad daylight. Go figure. Buffy's on her way, but she wants me there, to help get the hostages out. Since I've got Faith's strength while I'm in her body."
"Stay safe." Mrs. Summers said after a moment, handing him the stake and the holy water.
"I am not dying in this body," Xander said, feeling a bit less confident than he sounded. But with Slayer strength - he could handle one vamp, at least, right? Besides, Buffy needed his help. He was going to give it.
February 24, 2000
Graceful Restoration Church, Sunnydale
Xander reached the church, having a much easier time of walking and running today, after a single stumble early on, and ducked behind a tree, avoiding the notice of any of the cops who had parked their cars in a half-circle around the entrance, in case the 'gang members' tried to leave through the front door.
Yeah, fat chance of that. Xander wondered how they'd gotten inside. Sewer connection in the basement, or had they just gotten in during the night and waited?
One of the cops was talking to a guy in a suit that looked familiar, then the guy turned a little. Riley! Right. The Initiative would be on it, coming to capture the vamps if they could. At the very least stop the cops from getting killed.
But as much as Xander liked Riley, he didn't see any of the soldier boys coming, which meant they were still on their way. She saw Buffy and Willow arrive, another woman in tow, long blonde hair, wearing a tan sweater and a long brown skirt or something. Who is that?
Riley saw them as well and hurried over to Buffy. Willow looked around, and Xander quickly stepped out from behind the tree, catching her attention before ducking back, so no cops saw him. She nodded, then quickly stepped back herself. She moved her hands around a bit, saying something quietly and then tossed some sort of powder in the air.
There was a sound of a loud crack, like thunder in the middle of a storm, and a big light show, like fireworks or something - it was hard to tell in broad daylight - behind her and off to the side, drawing the attention of everyone, including the cops.
Well, as distractions go...
Xander moved as quickly as he could, crossing the distance and slipping between two cars to reach Riley and Buffy.
"...if they're still mobilizing, how did you get here so fast?"
"I was already on my way - I was just late for church."
"Picked the right day to oversleep," Xander chimed in, unable to help himself. Riley and Buffy both turned towards him.
"Xander! Good. You have a -" Xander held up the stake and holy water.
"Borrowed from your mom. I'll give them back."
"Xander!? What are you - wait, this is Faith, that other evil-"
"No, it's not Faith. She just stole my body because she's wanted for murder, and hunted by the Watchers' Council," Xander interrupted.
"Trust me, it's Xander. He convinced us all last night. We were going to go try and find Faith in Xander's body when this happened," Buffy assured Riley. "But right now, Xander's got all the slayer strength Faith had."
"Right..." Riley nodded slowly, still taking it in. "Body switching. That's a thing?"
"Apparently it is. I didn't know it was a thing until Faith held me at knifepoint then I suddenly was looking at myself and had boobs," Xander gestured to the offending body parts momentarily. "So yeah, it's a thing. We can worry about this after the vamps, right?"
"Right," Riley shook his head. "And to think it all used to be just simple Hostile Sub Terrestrials," he added, muttering, then shook his head. "Look, the troops are still mobilizing-"
"We don't need to wait for them. But we'll be sending the hostages out. Help everyone that doesn't have fangs," Buffy said, cutting Riley off. She headed for the Church, Xander right behind her. He saw a familiar look on Riley's face - one he'd had more than a few times. No one liked being relegated to the back, and Riley at least was a badass soldier-type.
But he didn't have much time to feel sympathetic, as Buffy reached the door. Xander moved quickly to be right there when she opened the door and stepped inside, her own stake at the ready.
When they walked in, one of the vampires was holding onto an old man, about to lean in and bite his throat, but he dropped the guy back on the pew bench and growled.
"I told the cops: they send anyone in, I start the whole massacre thing."
"Good thing I'm not the cops then," Buffy quipped.
"No, you're just an appetizer," the same vampire said. He had to be the leader of this little trio of geniuses.
"Let's think about this," Buffy said, walking towards him. "Blonde hair, stake in hand, walks into a room with three vampires, not afraid at all. Can you do that math without resorting to using your fingers?"
Apparently he could. "Slayer," the vampire growled.
"Right. So you know how this probably goes, right?" Buffy said.
"It goes with my buddy killing your friend, first," the vampire said, and then one of the other vampires ran quickly from his place by door towards Xander. Reacting faster than he'd ever been able to before, Xander turned around towards the guy and punched out - and missed the guy entirely, since he dodged the blow at the last second, and grabbed onto his neck.
Xander felt his breath catch as the grip tightened. He hesitated for a moment, but just a moment - he thumbed the top off the holy water bottle off in his left hand and then threw some into the vampire's face, making him let go and stagger back. Before he could recover, Xander punched again, getting him in the face and making him stagger back. There was the sound of fighting as Buffy and the other two vamps started going at each other, but Xander was a little busy as the vamp came at him again.
This time it was a punch from the vampire to his head, almost connecting, but Xander ducked. He punched the vampire's kneecap, hearing him cry out in pain. Oops. He hadn't meant to do more than make him stumble, but from the way he staggered back - and the way his own hand hurt, he might have done a lot more than that.
Slayer strength. Gotta get used to it. Well, or not, but still.
Not letting the vamp have a moment to get his footing, Xander punched again, getting the guy square in the chest, and then another punch - this one sent him staggering back flying into the wall.
"Holy crap, did you see that!" Xander exclaimed, feeling a rush as the vampire struggled to get back up. Out of the corner of his eye, Xander saw Buffy dealing with the other two vamps, so no, she probably hadn't.
Still, that was cool!
Xander held up the stake and grabbed the vamp by the front of his shirt, yanking him into a standing position even easier than he'd thought it would be and drove the stake into his heart - which was also so much easier. He barely was able to pull the stake back and stop it from disintegrating along with the vampire.
He felt a real rush as the vampire dusted, almost a high, like he was buzzed or something, though it only lasted a few moments. Still, it distracted him for that time, and he stood the, probably looking like an idiot before shaking his head and...
Okay, hostages, hostages. Xander turned to the parishioners, who were all sort of still seated, frozen in fear and confusion as they watched Buffy fight the two remaining vampires.
"Come on, let's go," Xander said, grabbing an older woman by the hand and pulling her to her feet, trying to be as gentle as he could. "Go, go," he hurried to the doors and kicked them open. That seemed to be enough to jostle the parishioners into action and they got up, hurrying out, a few screaming or crying out in fear as things registered for them, but they were all getting out.
Xander turned back to the fighting to see Buffy take out one vampire, then spin and kick the other into the wall. She dealt with that one moments later.
She turned and saw the last of the hostages leaving.
"You got the other one?"
"Yeah," Xander said, unable to help smiling a little. "It was - it was kinda cool. And so much easier than normal."
"Normal for you, maybe."
"No, I mean just the whole getting the stake in the heart in the first place - so much easier with slayer strength." Xander clarified. "And all the rest too, but... is that what it's like for you every night?" He asked quickly, just about bouncing on his feet - the rush was still sorta there, even if it wasn't quite as distracting.
"It's not always as easy - some vampires actually know how to put up a fight," Buffy cautioned.
"Oh, go and ruin my fun why don't you?" Xander said. Then he looked back at the inside of the church. "What the hell was up with these vamps? Why would they do this?" he tried to think. "I mean, I wasn't always paying attention, but I don't think I ever heard about 'gangs on PCP' doing anything in churches."
"What do you think it was, then?" Buffy asked as they stepped outside. The cops were distracted by the rescued hostages for the moment, but that would only take so long, and it wasn't enough for him to get out. They were probably watching for any sign of the culprits leaving. Which meant his best bet was out through the sewers and electrical tunnels. Ick. If he was lucky, it would be an old and unused one. But this was Sunnydale - there'd be a way into the sewers from the basement.
The second the cops saw his face - which they hadn't yet, and he wasn't really that far from the church - they were going to see him if he moved any further, or if he didn't go back inside and out another way soon.
"Well, in Sunnyhell, when something is abnormal, what do we normally do? Blame the big bad for the year," Xander suggested, shrugging.
"Which would be ADAM."
"He of the cyborg demon parts, yep," Xander nodded. "Not that I have any clue why he would have vamps do this, but..." he shrugged helplessly.
"Well, we can figure it out. In the meantime, you should get out of here, and Willow and Tara can go get the stuff they need to find Faith." Buffy said, as the cops started to finish up with the former hostages. Xander quickly stepped around Buffy and back inside the Church.
"Tara? Is that who that other girl was?"
Buffy nodded, "Apparently she's a witch, and a new friend of Willow's. Willow thinks she can help with the tracking and making a Katro spell to switch your body back, once we find Faith."
"Huh. Cool." His oldest and bestest friend didn't make new friends easily, but if she'd found a friend who shared her enthusiasm for magic, Xander was happy for her. " Well, I'm all for anything that gets me my body back faster and easier," though even as he said it, Xander wondered if he could delay things for a bit. Have another chance to slay some more vampires.
He sighed, "Well, I need to leave a different way, so... meet you at Giles's place." And hope to God he didn't get lost down there.
And... well... maybe a bit more time with the whole... fun time stuff. Now that he'd had the chance to get a bit familiar with Faith's body like that, the idea of maybe having a bit of fun with Anya while in this body sounded more appealing than it had last night. After all, he still had a tongue.
Not that he wanted to mention that notion to anyone but Anya. definitely not to Buffy. Or really the idea of delaying for a couple days. While it might be fun, it probably wasn't worth being stuck as Faith, wanted criminal.
Though it really had been fun, being able to really just knock that vamp around so easily.
Chapter 5: Gettin' Some
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Thanks to Oxnate for beta-reading this fic.
Similar to chapter 3, this has some detailed - but not exactly explicit - explorations of sex. That's why the rating is what it is.
As I've done in my other fics, I've smoothed out some of Tara's stammering and verbal stumbles - some fanfics have a tendency to overexaggerate it, and equally, it's just not very easy to write in a realistic way that doesn't overexaggerate that characteristic. So while I do try to display some of it, bear in mind that in speech, Tara is probably stumbling or hesitating a bit more than the dialogue would imply.
Just a bit.
This Year's Boy
Chapter 5: Gettin’ Some
February 24, 2000
Cheap Motel Room, Los Angeles
Xander Harris had no game. Boy couldn't pick up a girl to save his life. Faith had been surprised he'd ever been able to get a hot girl like that Cordelia chick to date him, but since he did what all men did and fucked it up soon enough anyway, it obviously hadn't been that great.
But the point was, Xander, despite looking pretty good, especially in the right outfit, was terrible at picking up girls.
Faith, on the other hand, had game in spades. Picking up guys, girls or the ones who were somewhere in between or whatever. So she'd figured it would be easy to do that in Xander's body.
Not quite as easy as she'd thought though - a lot of her usual lines and tactics didn't exactly work with a guy's body, and so she struck out, badly, a few times for her trouble - even got slapped across the face. Faith had nearly responded in kind, but the woman had quickly moved away before she could - no slayer speed for her.
Still, she'd managed to figure it out.
The bus she'd taken from Sunnydale had stopped in Oxnard of all fucking places, and stayed there for hours for some stupid fucking reason, so that's when she'd started trying to have her fun. In the end, she'd gotten lucky with some surprisingly hot - and just a bit tipsy - cougar who was leaving some male strip club called the Fabulous Ladies Nightclub. Woman might've been twice her age, but damn was she still smokin'.
Getting the woman to take her back to her motel room had been easy, and that's when things had gotten fun. Not wanting for this to go too quick, Faith got the woman off first with her fingers before getting down to the fun part - finding out of a blowjob was really as good as guys always claimed.
And fucking hell yes it was. It was totally different than being eaten out - no surprise there - but it felt just as fucking good, but it was all concentrated in the dick. Her eyes had rolled back into her head and the fucking explosion when she finished - the cougar - whose name Faith hadn't really registered - actually swallowed most of it, which, gross, but also Faith found somehow so fucking hot to watch.
No wonder guys wanted me to do that. Still didn't interest her, but if this chick wanted to, that was her problem.
Dealing with that annoying 'refractory period' bullshit hadn't been fun, but it was pretty quick, and Faith had put her skills with her tongue to good use in the interim. But finally, she was able to try fucking a woman with a real dick, rather than a toy.
Once more, it was really impossible to compare the feelings. Faith nearly blew up right after getting inside her, it felt so good, but held out and held on. Not only did it feel different, but it was different than using a strap-on with how to do the fucking itself - the right way to do it and all. But after a few false starts, Faith figured it out.
And fuck that had felt good. Not as good as the blowjob, maybe, and Faith still didn't want to stay like this, but she minded a hell of a lot less that she was going to have to take her time to make her plan worked.
Still, when it was over, Faith had to leave to catch the bus down to L.A., and the cougar was half asleep.
Faith helped herself to the woman's cash before leaving. Not like she'd have to worry too much about the cops coming for Xander Harris for long.
And now here she was in L.A., bright and early, pulling the curtains closed so she could get some sleep. She was too tired, but again, not a Slayer. Gotta do that sleeping shit, and more of it.
At least she wasn't wasting any real time - Angel would be inside, or sleeping even, this same time. If she wanted to find him, she'd have to look at night anyway.
But one way or another, she was gonna find Angel, she was going to steal his body, and then she was gonna put the rest of her plan into action.
And once she had her shiny new sexy vamp woman body, she could go back and kill B, give her exactly what she deserved. Kill her old body too, if the cops or Club Tea and Crumpets over in the fucking mother country didn't get off their asses and do their fucking jobs and kill it for her. Then maybe burn the body or something, make sure there was never a chance she could be forced back into her old body, old life.
First things first though. Find Angel. And that meant sleeping until dark.
February 24, 2000
Giles' Apartment, Sunnydale
"Xander, this is Tara," Willow said, once everyone was inside Giles's house. Thankfully Xander hadn't gotten lost in the sewer - a quick trip to the next manhole and then out, with no cops at that specific one.
With G-man, Buffy, himself, Willow, Tara and Anya, the living room was almost crowded, but not quite. He sat next to Anya.
When he'd come in, Willow had given him a knowing smirk, which made it clear that yeah, she'd known damn well what she was reminding him of when she'd brought up those lists about if they ended as the other gender for a day they'd made, with Jesse, years ago. And how his and Jesse's lists had been predictably NC-17. And from her smirk, Willow seemed to know, or at least be pretty damn sure, that he'd gone and done it.
He felt his cheeks heat a little as a result, but not by much. He was a teenage boy - what was he supposed to do with a surprise pair of breasts and everything else that came with having a female body temporarily? Not have a bit of fun?
At least he knew it was temporary. The idea hadn't really occurred to him until after he'd had a chance to calm down after knowing for sure this could end.
"Tara, this is Xander. Just not how he normally looks," Willow added, turning to Tara.
"I - I can tell..." she said, looking at him. "Your aura - it's - it's fragmented," Tara explained, stumbling over the words. Clearly shy and not used to meeting new people all at once.
"Fragmented aura? Do they have a prescription for that?" Xander joked. "Something I could get at the drugstore?"
Tara shook her head, either not getting the joke or not finding it funny. Probably the second one - it wasn't his best material - but at least it didn't upset her.
"No - no... just getting you back to your normal body. It's not ... it's not dangerous, or anything. But it's obvious to anyone... anyone who can see auras," Tara said quietly.
"Well, I'm glad it's not dangerous. It's nice to meet you Tara." He held out a hand and she shook it a bit hesitantly. "Especially you can help me out with the whole... fragmented aura body-stealing problem." He smiled. "Willow says you're a powerful witch."
"Not really," Tara said with a bit of self-deprecating laugh.
"Yes really," Willow countered. "You can read auras and you know and can do spells I've never even heard of or thought about." She held up a small wooden box. "I couldn't have figured out how to do this - or done it as easily - without your help." She opened it and showed the glowing green ball inside to everyone.
"And - and what is that?" Giles asked, leaning in a bit to examine the thing more closely. "Exactly?"
"It's a Katra - well, the homemade version, anyway. If Faith did something to the one she used to switch bodies with you, we can use this one." Willow explained.
"Oh thank god," Xander said. "And it'll last until we find her?"
"It's - It's one use, but it'll stay good forever, or close," Tara said after a moment, still hesitating on her words a bit, stumbling as she spoke. Anya opened her mouth to say something, and Xander lightly put a hand on her knee. He loved his blunt girlfriend, but-
Anya pouted a moment, then closed her mouth, deciding not to say whatever she'd been about to say, and then said something else.
"So than we just need to find Faith in Xander's nicely shaped real body." Anya concluded. "Did you get everything you need from the magic shop?"
Willow nodded, "ingredients, focusing crystal. And we'll start with a map of Sunnydale. You said she said she wanted to do this to Buffy?"
Xander nodded, "Probably wanted to keep the powers without the whole, wanted for murder thing." He chuckled darkly, "I mean, Sunnyhell's cops aren't all that good, but sooner or later someone would notice something."
"She was jealous," Buffy said quietly after a moment.
"Jealous?" Giles raised an eyebrow, looking over at Buffy.
"When Angel pretended to go evil to find out what Faith and the Mayor were up to, and they pretended to hold me prisoner," Buffy clarified. She was still quiet, almost too quiet to hear clearly, though not quite. "She did the whole 'villain rant' thing you're always talking about, Xander. She said everyone kept comparing her to me, and how I had this 'perfect' life with the friends and the mom and the not-useless watcher. I don't - I don't remember exactly what she said, but..." she trailed off.
Don't remember? For some reason, Xander got the distinct impression she remembered it exactly. That Faith's 'rant' was burned into her memory, or something cliched like that.
Then she raised her voice, changing tones. "She thought she deserved more and all just because she's a Slayer. Or something - I mean, Faith's crazy, who knows what she's really thinking. I tried to give her every chance, and she's refused all of them. After we switch you back, we need to... to do something, to make sure she can't hurt anyone else."
"Prison? She is wanted for murder, and undeniably guilty," Giles suggested.
"Does prison hold a slayer?"
"Not historically, no," Giles admitted. "But from what I gather, modern maximum security prisons are much more secure than the Austrian prison in 1845 that last held a Slayer."
"There was a slayer in Australia in 1845?" Xander asked, purposely getting it wrong. He couldn't point to it on a map, but he knew that Austria was a country somewhere in Europe. Mostly because of the lame joke 'Austria was Hungry so they invaded Turkey and cooked it in Greece'. "Vampires really do get around."
"Not Australia, Xander, Austria. It's right there in Europe," Giles shook his head, letting out an exasperated sigh as he realized Xander had been pulling his leg. "Really, Xander is this the time for your... unique brand of humor?"
"It's better than freaking out," Xander said.
"Prison could work, but there's every chance it wouldn't," Buffy shook her head. "I don't know what we should do with her, but there has to be a way."
"Well, there's always the Council. They want her, and they probably have magic that can hold a Slayer, right?" Anya suggested.
"The Council is just as likely to kill Faith as to hold her prisoner, at this point, I'm afraid," Giles pointed out, taking off his glasses to clean them.
"And that's a bad thing?" Anya said. "Once she's back in her body and Xander's in his, I mean. Faith killed people who didn't even deserve it. Eye for an Eye is an ancient legal precept for a good reason."
Xander managed to stop himself from grimacing at the way Anya talked about it. On the one hand, he really did understand the logic of Faith dying - and if they turned her in, she might even get the death penalty, so was this even so different?
But just handing her over to the Council to die didn't really sit well with Xander. Probably because those british assholes were... well, assholes. Helping them would probably never appeal.
Plus... handing her over like that? Still kinda felt like murder.
"We can figure that out when we have her," Buffy said, perhaps a bit too loudly. "Right now we need to find her."
"I have some of Xander's hair," Anya said, taking a small plastic bag with a couple brown hairs inside. Willow took the bag.
"So how does this work anyway?" Xander asked, as the two witches unrolled a map of Sunnydale.
"There's a few ways to track someone with magic," Willow said, obviously relishing the chance to explain and lecture, as she often did. "The most straightforward way is to take a piece of the person - hair, blood, saliva, the usual. Boil it up with the right reagents and then dip a crystal into the mix. Tie the crystal to a string and let it lead you to your target."
"But you don't know where you're going that way," Buffy noted.
"Nope. Which makes it useful to a point, but then there's this option - take a piece of the person, boil it up, and spatter it across a map with a different spell. The spatter will congregate on the map wherever the person is. There's a few other ways, but they're a lot more complicated and messy."
"So boiling up my hair is step one then, either way," Xander observed.
"Exactly. I figure we use the map to narrow it down, and then use the crystal to find her once we get there. The map is only going to be so exact, after all," Willow concluded.
"Can-can we borrow your stove, Mr. Giles?" Tara asked. "And a pot?"
"Yes, of course," Giles nodded. Willow and Tara got up, moving to the kitchen and set to work on their alchemy or potion making or whatever the hell it was they were doing.
"Giles - have you ever heard of vampires attacking a church in broad daylight?" Buffy asked, going back to what had happened earlier.
"Not in broad daylight, no. Though few cities have as extensive an underground system specifically designed for vampires to use to get around," he pointed out.
"Thank you for that, Mayor "I Just Want To Be A Giant Snake"." Xander noted. "Does anyone else miss him? Compared to ADAM, anyway?"
"He was planning on eating us all at Graduation. We don't even know what ADAM is up to," Buffy shook her head.
"So you think ADAM is behind the irregular behavior of these vampires?"
"It makes sense," Anya said chiming in. "Most vampires aren't that creative. I've granted a few wishes to scorned women who were vampires. None of them really had any imagination. It takes a real master vampire - like your ex, Buffy - or a demon to get them to do something like that."
Buffy inhaled a little at the mention of Angel, and his bloody past, but didn't say anything.
Giles cleared his throat, "Yes, well, that still begs the question - why would ADAM have vampires attack the church?"
"Distraction?" Xander suggested. "Riley said the Initiative was mobilizing. Maybe he wanted to throw them off his scent. Or you," he nodded to Buffy.
"Or seeing how fast we'd respond," Buffy said. "He could be up to something."
"He's the big bad, of course he's up to something." Xander scoffed. It didn't sound quite as satisfying in Faith's voice.
"Fine, but I meant, like... right now." Buffy waved a hand dismissively. Before she could say anything else, Willow and Tara returned with a small bowl full of bubbling brown liquid, and then, using a wooden spoon, spattered a generous amount on the map. Willow set the bowl down and the two of them held hands tightly and chanted a spell, their free hands out over the map. The map and the brown stuff glowed, and then... nothing. No moving of the stuff.
"That- that wasn't supposed to happen..." Willow said.
"Did you do it right?!" Anya demanded.
"Yes we did! Right?" She looked over at Tara, only hesitantly letting go of the blonde's hand. Huh?
"I - I think we- I think we did," Tara said softly. "The only reason it wouldn't work...." she trailed off a moment, then took a breath. "The only reason it wouldn't work is if she wasn't anywhere on the map."
"So she's already left Sunnydale? Fuck," Xander cursed. "She could have gone anywhere. And if she switches again -"
"We can find your body at least," Willow said hurriedly. "We just need a bigger map."
"I have one of the state somewhere in here," Giles gestured to the boxes of books and papers. "Had to drive here from Los Angeles." He went over to one of the boxes and started searching through it.
It took about fifteen minutes of them searching to find it stuffed in the back of his desk drawer, but they found a map of California - and it included a bit of Arizona, Nevada and Oregon each around the edges. Thankfully there was more of the brown stuff to use, and Willow and Tara cast the spell again after spattering it once more.
This time it worked, and the brown liquid started to flow across the map and slowly gathered at one point on the map.
"She's in L.A." Anya said. "Good, then we can go and find her and get Xander his body back."
"We can't just leave town right this second," Buffy pointed out. She looked to Xander, "Not that I don't want to help-"
Xander nodded. "You have classes you'd miss and- and ADAM. And the Hellmouth in general." He didn't like the idea of waiting, but he could get how Buffy and Willow could hardly just drop everything at the last minute and rush out to L.A. to help him. "But we can't wait long. Faith could... fuck, she could take a plane out of the country!"
"Do you have a passport?" Giles asked, and Xander shook his head.
"Of course not!" He laughed, "Where am I gonna go?"
"Then Faith probably hasn't left the country yet. She might still leave that city but it has been enough time since she switched that she could have gotten farther than Los Angeles if she wanted to go further," Giles pointed out.
"Willow and I just need to do a few things, and get ready - we could leave tonight."
"There's still ADAM to worry about," Xander countered. "If he's up to something, you can't leave down right this second!" Part of him could barely believe he was making that point, but it was true. And keeping the Hellmouth safe was more important than getting him back into his body, at least as long as they still did it soon.
"Xander, why are you trying to-" Anya started, then she narrowed her eyes. "Do you want to stay-"
"No!" Xander protested quickly, entirely truthfully. "There are, however, things that are more important than me! If ADAM is up to something, I can hardly ask Buffy to leave town! She's the Slayer." And they would need Buffy - once they switched bodies, someone would need to make sure Faith didn't get murderous and try to kill him - or someone else - as revenge or something.
Or run off. Buffy was right that they needed to do something to make sure Faith couldn't keep hurting people or worse, killing them.
Prison she can escape or the Council who will definitely kill her. Talk about terrible choices. If they could be sure she'd just stay in a cell, Xander would say prison. Slayer or not, she killed people. Law and Order and all that, right?
"Look, we'll go tomorrow. If ADAM doesn't do anything today," Buffy said. "We can't wait too long - Faith might run further anyway."
"Tomorrow. That works," Xander nodded. He squirmed in his seat on the couch for a moment, realizing that he wasn't as upset about the idea as he claimed. He didn't want to stay in this body, stay a woman, any longer than he had to, but if he was going to, that did give him a few more opportunities to have a bit of fun with it.
Maybe patrol tonight, dust another vamp. And...
He looked over at Anya, who looked like she was about to pout. Xander tried to give her a look of reassurance, but judging from her expression, it didn't work very well.
"The-the spell on the map should stay active until sunrise..." Tara said softly. "If she leaves L.A. before then... it will move."
"Oh thank god. That's helpful," Xander said, letting out a sigh of relief. Then he looked to Anya and grabbed her hand, "Ahn, We need to talk." Anya inhaled sharply, looking very unhappy, but then she nodded.
"Fine," she said. They got up and moved quickly out into the little 'courtyard' in front of Giles's place. "Why are you delaying! I don't like you in this body. You can't - or don't want to - give me orgasms like this, and... you wouldn't be nice to sleep next to either."
That was probably the closest his girlfriend was likely to get to admitting she liked to cuddle up next to him in her sleep.
Xander smiled softly, then closed his eyes and let out a breath. "Like I said, there are important things - Buffy and Willow have to like... plan for missing class for a day or two while we search L.A. for Faith and make sure she doesn't get away. And ADAM - he's kind of a big deal." It wasn't that Anya didn't care about people dying - she just... didn't care much, as far as he could tell.
Or maybe she really doesn't care at all. Xander ignored that little voice in the back of his head. That was just his own stupid brain trying to trip him up, just like he had with Cordy. No more listening to little mean demon of self-doubt in the back of his mind.
"And as for your orgasms, Ahn," he chuckled, "I'm willing to give you what I can. We can go back to your place."
"When you weren't willing to last night? What changed?" Anya raised an eyebrow, skeptically, though she also sounded eager.
"Last I was... it was awkward and weird and I didn't really feel- I felt like it would be... awkward or something," Xander babbled out, channeling his best friend for a moment. "And now," he added, feeling his cheeks get hot again, even more than before.
"Why-" Then Anya smirked, sly and sexy. "Ah. You... explored a bit, last night."
"I - no - yeah," Xander stammered out. "Are you mad? I mean-"
"It's not like you cheated on me with another woman. If you'd put her your hands on Faith's body when you weren't using it, that'd be one thing." Anya said, unfazed. "Besides, masturbation is entirely healthy." She leaned in. "How did it feel?"
"...good," Xander said with a squeak. Oh thank god. At the time, he hadn't really thought about Anya's possible reaction - genius move there Xander - but Anya was not angry with him over it.
"Good." She grabbed his hand, "say your goodbyes and we'll go back to my place and you can put your face between my legs until I'm satisfied."
"R-right. Good plan," Xander said quickly. A few minutes later, off to Anya's place they went.
February 24, 2000
Anya's Apartment, Sunnydale
It took several hours of intermittent oral sex - Xander was well trained by Anya at this point, but he couldn't go nonstop that entire time - before Anya claimed to be satisfied. Xander had mostly focused on his girlfriend during that time, but he had used his fingers on himself once during that span, since he'd gotten more and more turned on as he ate his girlfriend out.
But he had still been ready for more. When Anya finally had him pull away and some time to come down a bit, Anya had tried to return the favor - not with her tongue, but she'd tried to use her fingers to help him get off again. She'd been... awkward, and after a couple minutes of mostly unpleasant efforts, he grabbed her wrist - gently - and pulled her hand away.
"Stop, stop..." Xander said, wincing a little.
"I'm sorry," Anya said, actually apologizing.
"It's okay. You - you tried." Xander said, his mood not entirely gone, but it had become a lot less noticeable, thanks to how bad her efforts had felt. "I... I'm just a little surprised. When I... you know, touch myself down there," his entire body still felt warm, but for a moment it felt like his cheeks might actually have been even warmer. More flushing.
"When I did that last night, I just - I just kinda did to myself what you like when I do to you." Which she'd demonstrated - the first time anyway - by doing it to herself. And then made him do the same for how he liked to be touched on his dick. He'd had sex with her several times by that point, but somehow the notion of masturbating in front of her had been mortifying for him.
Anya, with her typical blunt openness about sex, had had no issue doing it in front of him though.
"It is different when you do it to someone else rather than yourself," Anya said. Then she frowned, "The problem, Xander, is that I don't like women. So touching one - even if it's really you in there - doesn't work for me." She sighed, "I'm sorry. I thought it would be different this time, since it was you in there."
"This time?" That implied Anya had had another experience with a woman - well, a woman's body. Which - she'd lived a thousand years, plenty of time for something to happen. Suddenly the image of Anya kissing a woman passed through his brain.
Aaaand there's the mood again.
"Xander!" Anya cut in, getting his attention again. "Honestly, I should have known your mind would go there."
"I can't help it - I'm horny and we just had sex. Of course my brain's gonna go there. I'm still a guy in here." He gestured to his head and sighed. "So... you... had sex with a girl before?"
"Tried to, once, eight hundred and..." Anya furrowed her brow, "seventeen years ago. I think. She was one of my clients, and after I granted her wish, she started flirting with me. I didn't really like the idea of having sex with a woman, but I decided to try anyway."
"Just to experiment?" Xander couldn't imagine himself just deciding to 'experiment' with a guy - in any body.
"Yeah, basically." Anya laughed ruefully, "Xander, I hate the vast majority of men, and I like sex. I had to find out if women really were an option.".
"And they're not," Xander stated, not asking a question, since the answer was pretty obvious.
"Not even close, no," Anya shrugged. "But I thought since you were really you in there, it would be easier." She shook her head. "But that didn't work."
"Clearly," Xander said. Unfortunately, he was still turned on, and felt like he needed to get off at least one more time. At least. "You don't mind if I..." He started, but Anya waved a hand dismissively.
"Of course. Like I said, masturbation is healthy, and it's not like I can help you out with arousal until you get your body back." She smiled. "I can give you some nice visuals, if you'd like." Then she proceeded to do just that.
Xander's breath hitched a moment, then he swallowed and nodded. "Yeah. I - I'd like that."
Chapter 6: Springing the Trap
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or Angel.
Thanks to Oxnate for beta-reading
And this is the first chapter where we finally get to Cordelia's POV. She's the third and final POV we'll be seeing in this fic. Not every chapter will feature POV scenes from all of them, but some will.
There is a serious issue with the timing of "Five by Five" (AtS Episode 1x18) after "Who Are You?" (Buffy 4x16). Namely, that two months happen in between by the dates, but according to Giles when Angel calls him in "Five By Five", Faith woke up 'a week ago'. It gets even thornier from there. If you're curious about the more detailed effort I made to unpack all the issues with trying to triangulate when all this takes place temporally, you can find a meta on my blog, at: kyliafanfiction (.) tumblr (.) com (/) post (/) 189362258357 (/) so-when-was-faith-actually-arrested-a-commentary
For the purposes of this fic, however, we're going to presuppose that, despite the airdate issues, Episodes 1-17 of Season 1, as well as that first bit of Episode 18 have already happened as of this point, in the interests of simplicity.
This Year's Boy
Chapter 6: Springing the Trap
February 25th, 2000
Angel Investigations, Los Angeles
Cordelia Chase was not one to second-guess herself. Not that she didn't occasionally do it, but it was not a habit of hers. And that was true now. It would be a waste of time to second-guess the choices that had brought her to where she was. Even if where she was sucked, at least compared to where she'd hoped she'd be.
It wasn't that being Angel's secretary/vision girl was all terrible. As annoying as he could be, Wesley was kind of her friend; and so too was Angel, in his growly, unsocialiable sort of way. Though after everything the three of them had been through together, 'friend' seemed kind of an understatement. Not that I can really think of a better word for it.
There was always 'family', but that felt cheesy and hokey. But still, she was close with them.
And she did like that they helped people. Not so much that she didn't wish they'd actually pay. But most clients didn't, or at least not much, not without a lot of prodding.
Sooner or later we'll have to help some rich people. Hadn't really happened yet, had it? At least not enough to get anywhere - Angel had saved Rebecca Lowell, but look how that had turned out. She'd tried to become a vampire and then run off when she went face to face with Angelus.
And now our chances of her referring us to any of the other rich and famous people she knows are zilch.
Which also did very little for her acting career. Not that it was much of anything, at the moment.
Or maybe ever, at this rate. It was hard to audition and practice when you had visions on a near daily basis.
Have I mentioned how much I love this little gift you gave me, Doyle? No? Good.
Cordelia shook her head and stood up to pour herself another cup of coffee when she felt a vision coming. Oh come on!
"Vision!" She called out, collapsing back into the chair, managing to not end up on the floor for a change of pace as images swirled through her head, the pain exploding behind her eyes. The Crowds of L.A. and then they centered out on one person in particular. A guy. Short dark brown hair. Wearing black shirt that looked pretty good on -
Cordelia didn't have time to ponder what the hell her ex boyfriend was doing wearing flattering clothing or in L.A. because her vision quickly shifted to show Xander walking down a sidestreet - which she recognized - as she glimpsed the time - 1:15pm, so a little over an hour for now - and then a black, tinted-window van pulled up behind Xander, blocking the street behind him as two men in black suits and sunglasses came at him from the other side.
They grabbed him, Xander tried to fight back and then one of them hit Xander with a taser to the neck, and he went limp, as they bundled him up and into the van.
Cordelia's head snapped forward and her eyes snapped open, groaning, hands pressed to her forehead, her neck throbbing like she'd been hit by the taser, her whole body buzzing, though at least that sensation faded quickly enough.
Who the hell would want to kidnap Xander? She briefly entertained the notion it wasn't Xander - he did not dress like that - but it was definitely him. She knew her ex boyfriend. She'd known him since first grade, for crying out loud. As enemies, for most of that time, but you still got to know someone when you argued with them a near-daily basis for almost 12 years.
He looked more or less the same as he had last year, when they'd had a heartfelt goodbye before she stepped on the bus and came to L.A. Different clothing choices aside, anyway.
She looked up to see Angel and Wesley both there, Angel holding out the bottle of aspirin she'd been getting to know very well since her first vision, as well as a bottle of water. He'd grabbed them both quickly, probably the second after he'd seen her land in her chair.
"Have I mentioned how nifty your vampire speed can be?" She popped the lid of the bottle and took six of the pills, wishing the damn things would just work faster. But anything more powerful had other problems. And she wasn't going to drink to numb the pain like Doyle had. She took a mouthful of the water, swallowed, then groaned, rubbing her neck.
"I can almost get why the visions have to come with headaches, but why do I have to feel everything too?" Cordelia grumbled, as much to herself as Angel and Wesley. Wesley's eyes brightened, and he looked like he was about to recite something he'd read in a book somewhere back at her, but she held up a hand. "Ah-ah-ah. Rhetorical question, Wes."
"You're not going to like the sound of this, Angel," She added, looking at the vampire, "but the person we need to rescue is Xander. Though given that he's going to be jumped in an alleyway in the middle of the day, I'm not sure how much help you'll be. What with your daylight allergy and everything."
Wesley and Angel responded to the news by speaking "Xander Harris?" almost at the same time, with Angel emoting enough to sound actually unhappy about the idea, and Wesley just confused.
"Yes, Xander Harris. Xander my ex, Xander Buffy's friend, Xander the guy who hates you more than anyone else, Angel. He's gonna get jumped in an alley downtown." She named the cross streets nearby. "Black van, two guys in suits, they're gonna taze him and grab him." Cordelia rattled off quickly, rubbing his forehead. "If I'm getting a vision, they're probably not just normal people grabbing, too." She'd never had a vision that didn't ultimately end up about the supernatural, sooner or later. It was one of the more predictable parts of the job - even when things looked normal, she could expect something demonic or magical would be involved. Or maybe just a vampire.
"Black suits, sunglasses, the whole... 'secret service-slash-FBI look," Cordelia waved a hand a bit vaguely.
Wesley furrowed his brow. "Lacking further information, I'd guess Wolfram and Hart," he suggested.
"Why would the evil lawyers want to kidnap Xander? Guy's useless," Angel dismissed.
"Because Wolfram and Hart is neck deep in the supernatural, and has been since its inception. Angel, we've gone over this before." Wesley sounded exasperated. "They know the identity of the Slayer, and they probably know that Mr. Harris is one of Miss Summers' friends."
"I'm still not following," Cordelia said, but from the look on Angel's face, he got the idea.
"They'll try to leverage Buffy to kill me."
"That would be my guess. Or at least gather more information on you from her, if they know about..." Wesley trailed off, clearing his throat awkwardly.
"That Angel and Buffy used to lock lips and do the horizontal tango?" Cordelia offered.
"Yes. Quite." Wesley looked away, looking all British and embarrassed at the subject of sex coming up. Though he had to improve his kissing somehow between graduation and when he came to L.A. Not that that changed the fact that she didn't find Wesley remotely of interest. Which was a pity - he still wasn't, objectively, half-bad looking.
And at least if I liked him my dating life might not be so completely empty. Since moving to L.A., Cordelia's attempts at landing some handsome rich guy, or even finding a steady boyfriend had been complicated by the slowly dawning realization that she didn't just like guys. Though it had put a few things into context for her.
Revelations about her sexuality aside, she'd thought maybe, maybe, being bisexual would have made it easier for her to find someone she liked and could date.
It was hard to meet people when you had visions randomly and worked for a vampire with a soul who killed demons professionally.
"Angel has caused quite a few problems for Wolfram and Hart as of late, it could be they want to finally deal with him, permanently. And how better to kill a vampire than with the Slayer?" Wesley concluded, when he got his composure back.
Cordelia thought for a long moment. Wesley had a point, she supposed. Just a few days ago, she'd had a vision that had led Angel to save some former gangster from Wolfram and Hart's demons, then convince the guy - to Cordelia's great surprise - to testify in court against one of the lawyers' clients.
"We shouldn't let them do that to Buffy," Angel said firmly.
"Whose 'we' Angel? You can't go. Too much daylight," Cordelia pointed out. Plus, Xander might just be stubborn enough about being 'saved' by Angel to not come with them.
"I'll get the car," Wesley nodded. "Can you convince Xander to come with us?"
"I don't see why not. I just wish I had an idea of why he was in L.A. What's he doing this far from his precious Buffy?" Cordelia grumbled. "Or Willow." The one good thing about Xander cheating with Willow was that it had ended a relationship that was doomed to end anyway. Xander would never have left Sunnydale and his precious Willow and Buffy to follow Cordelia to LA anyway, and there was no way in hell Cordelia would have stayed in that town even if she had had any other choice.
Not that that outweighed all the bad parts. Or the giant piece of rebar she'd had stuck in her torso.
"And I'll just wait here," Angel went back into his office. It was hard to say what he thought about this, but the notion of saving Xander probably didn't appeal to him. Though saving one of Buffy's friends probably felt worth it to him, Xander or not. It was very hard to tell what the hell the guy was thinking sometimes.
Other times his mind was as one-track as any guys. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy all the day long.
February 25th, 2000
Downtown, Los Angeles
Faith was lost.
Not that she didn't know where she was, or how to get back to her motel a couple blocks away, but lost in terms of having no goddamn clue where the fuck Angel was.
She'd had no luck last night, wandering around town. She had nearly gotten mugged by some random druggie, but she'd managed to punch his face before he could actually use the switchblade in his hand.
Much as it would be nice to say it was because she was just that good, it was mostly because that guy was so busy going through withdrawal that he was barely there at all. Xander's body was totally useless with reaction times. I need to ditch this body as soon as I can. But she still hadn't found Angel.
And she had no fucking clue where to start looking for him. If she was still strong, she could have tried to find a vampire or demon bar, see if anyone knew where the guy stayed, or something, but she wasn't doing that now.
Shoulda forced Xander to tell me more about Angel and what he was up to in L.A. It was just one comment he'd made that had her knowing it at all, and she hadn't thought it mattered. Her plan had been simple - steal B's body, live her perfect fuckin' life for a couple days, trash it and ruin it, and then ditch town. Maybe steal B's mom's credit card and use that to fly to like, Europe or something. Somewhere far from here.
How long until dark anyway? She'd woken up an hour ago after getting to sleep around sunrise, and she was on her way to the bodega she'd spotted last night, grab some food to have later before waiting until dark to go looking for Angel again.
She saw a digital clock in the window of a nearby store - 1:10. Still too long to go. She covered her mouth as she felt a sudden yawn come on.
"Xander!" Faith heard the sound of a voice - familiar, female behind her. Who the fuck-
She turned around, bracing herself to bolt for a moment, in case one of Xander's little friends from Sunnydale had found her, then she calmed down. They know I'm not Xander, so they wouldn't call out that name if they saw me.
So someone who knew Xander, and didn't know about the change in occupancy. Hopefully someone she recognized and could ditch-
"Cordelia?" She was so surprised she said the name out loud when she recognized the cheerleader coming towards her as she turned. What the fuck? Xander's ex?
Furiously, Faith searched her memory for anything more about Cordelia and Xander. She could ditch the girl easily enough, but if she thought something was up or something... if she called Buffy, they'd know she was in L.A. That was not something she needed. Last she remembered... fuck, nothing. She and Xander broke up, and 'Queen C' stopped hangin' at the library. Beyond that...
"Yes, Xander, it's me. Good to know you can still recognize me, doofus," Cordelia said. "Look, you need to come with me. Now." If Faith didn't miss her guess, she sounded almost... worried.
Doesn't she hate him? What with the whole locking-lips with Red thing?
"Why should I?" She demanded, slowly, backing up a pace. "Look, Cordy, nice to catch up and all, but I've got things to do."
"Can you just not be an idiot for five seconds, Xander? Or is that seriously beyond you!?" Cordelia demanded. "Look, if you don't come with me, then in a few minutes you're gonna be in some major trouble, so let's just go!"
"What the hell are you-"
"I had a vision of you getting grabbed by two goons in an alley, come on!" Cordelia grabbed her wrist and tried to pull 'Xander' after her.
"Vision? What the fuck?!" Cheerleader's got visions now? Two years ago she'd have just walked away from anyone talking crazy shit like that, but knowing that demons and vampires and magic existed made her a hell of a lot less skeptical. What little she remembered of Cordelia - girl didn't go in for lying much, or making shit up.
Did Xander know about this?
Fuck, I hope not. She did not need Cordelia calling anyone in SunnyD up and asking if something was wrong with Xander. Maybe she wouldn't bother.
"It's a long story, Xander. Short version, I get visions of people in danger, and if we don't move, you're going to get tased, so let's go," she said urgently.
Who the fuck would -
Those Council bastards? Had to be them. Who would wanna go after Xander? Guy was hardly worth the effort. But since Xander escaped from them, then maybe they figured out they had the wrong person... fuck.
"Alright, fine, fine, let's go," Faith yanked her hand free and followed Cordelia down the street, past and around a bunch of people, to a car waiting not far away. Behind the wheel was another familiar face, though.
"Wesley?!" What the hell was her useless wussy former watcher doing here? Shouldn't he be back in the mother country drinking tea and being useless?
"Mr. Harris," Wesley nodded. "I trust Cordelia's explained the situation?"
Cordelia looked at him as Wesley called her 'Mr. Harris', as if expecting something, but Faith had no idea what she was expecting. Fuck. As soon as she was sure there were no council goons nearby, she needed to ditch these two, but -
Wait. If Wesley's here, shouldn't those goons be with him? The idiot had tried to drag her to England once before.
Then again, maybe they canned him because he sucked so bad at everything. Without Faith to watch and B clearly not caring about what the Council wanted - what with springing Xander free from them - he probably had nothing to do.
"Sorta?" Faith answered, hesitating a moment before getting in the car. Even if this was some trap, Wesley being involved guaranteed she could escape it, if she had to. Cordelia got into the passenger seat in the front, and the car started. Though with traffic, they had to wait a bit for an opening.
"Okay, so... fill me in," She said, once they were on their way to... "Where are we even going?"
"Angel's place, duh," Cordelia turned to look at him. "That's how this whole thing works. I get visions, Angel rescues people. Usually. But he couldn't come this time." She gestured up to the sun, half-hidden behind a cloud. "Which is why I'm glad we found you before the goons in suits showed up."
"Angel?" Then she hurriedly shook her head, as if trying to clear her thoughts. "Angel, right." The way she said 'duh', she expected him to know she worked with Angel. So Xander probably knew, or had at least heard.
Since when do Cordelia and Wussley work with Angel? She couldn't imagine Angel putting up with Cordelia, or the Brit, and yet, apparently he was.
"Forgot that I worked with him?" Cordelia sounded like she was almost half-teasing her. Or Xander, anyway.
"Try not to think about him in general, Cordy," Faith countered, trying to sound like how Xander would say it. But still, if they were going to Angel's place, her plan could work. It could work perfectly. She just needed to get a moment alone with him, trick him just long enough to grab his hand...
She fingered the device in her pocket, rearranging it a bit to get it ready to slip onto her hand quickly.
"How did... how did you even get this whole...vision thing anyway?" Faith asked, trying to make conversation. Clearly Cordelia didn't hate Xander as Faith remembered, or why would she save him? So wouldn't they be doing a bit of catching up?
"Angel's last seer gave them to me as an oh-so-awesome parting gift," Cordelia answered, dripping with sarcasm. "Headaches, surround-sound, and I even get to feel what happens to the people in them!"
Sounds fun. She'd had a few Slayer dreams, but those had just been trippy and confusing. And at least they happened while she was asleep.
"If I had that, I'd return the gift," Faith said, honestly and trying to crack a joke like Xander might. She waited a moment, "Did you keep the receipt?"
"The visions are a direct line to the Powers that Be. They're not exactly something you can return," Wesley said from behind the wheel.
"I would if I could," Cordelia grumbled. "They are not fun, and they happen at all the worst times."
Faith didn't really know what to say to that, so she stayed silent, waiting for them to reach Angel's place.
She was probably gonna have to move fast after switching with Angel. Knock 'Xander' out, make excuses, get out. Of course, with daylight, she would be stuck inside.
Could always take care of Queen C, and Wesley too... she didn't really have anything against Cordelia, but she was hot, and she might as well drink from the hotties, and figure out what it felt like to bring on the game face.
I'm gonna be a vamp for good, soon enough. Switch with Angel, find a sexy lady vamp, switch again... have fun. Gonna have to get used to a liquid diet. She might as well get started, cover her tracks. Though she'd probably just kill 'Xander'.
Leave him for last. Make Angel watch me kill his friends? That would show Angel for pulling that trick on her, pretending to be evil, working with Buffy to get info from her like that. Sorry you two, but Angel's gotta pay... Not that she felt even remotely apologetic as she contemplated killing the two people in front of her.
Totally not. No apology. No nothing. She was a Slayer. That's what she did.
Nothing wrong with that. Look out for herself, first and foremost.
February 25th, 2000
On the way to Los Angeles
Getting to L.A. was easier said than done. Obviously, he had to go, and so too did Buffy, to keep Faith under control - probably by beating her up - once Xander got his body back. Willow and Tara were coming so they could cast any tracking spells they needed to cast to make sure they found his body. They'd already confirmed Faith was still in Los Angeles, and made one of those tracking crystal things once they were in town.
That was four people, and then Anya wanted to come.
Giles's red midlife-crisis-mobile was not going to be able to take all five of them, even if Giles was willing to let any of them take the keys. Which left Buffy borrowing her mom's car - but Ms. Summers only agreed to let Buffy take that car if Giles drove. She didn't trust her daughter behind the wheel, which given what had happened last time Buffy had had to drive, was a good idea.
Which left all six of them in the car as they went down the highway towards L.A. They were almost to the right exit, judging by the signs. Xander was in the back, with Anya, doing his best to tune out the public radio Giles had set the dial to, over the objections of himself, Anya and Buffy, though Willow and Tara seemed to enjoy it. Willow didn't surprise him, and obviously Tara shared Willow's interest in all things learning-related. Good for her. Good that Willow had someone who liked knowledge as much as she did - that had been one of the things Oz did for her that Xander had always appreciated.
And not just because Willow was less likely to turn a conversation with him to things that went over his head, when she had had Oz to talk without about them instead.
Last night, Xander had gone on patrol with Buffy, eager to make the most out of his temporary superpowers. They were looking for ADAM, or word of him, or even some sort of idea of what the cyborg Frankenstein was up to, but no luck. Still, Xander had slain two vamps - Buffy got four and some weird five-armed demon with sharp fangs. Sure, he got tossed around a few times by that demon, but even when he landed ten, twenty feet away, he was able to get up and keep going, which was totally cool.
I wish I could keep the powers and my body. Xander felt lucky the cops in Sunnydale were so terrible. None of them had noticed him out last night - not that the SPD really noticed anything out at night. Rarely, anyway.
Which, while a lot less immediately important than 'I'm a guy and I want my dick back.' (It was more than that, but still, that's kind of how it boiled down, in a lot of ways.) The prospect of having to avoid the police as long as he had this body wasn't very fun either. Especially if anyone in Sunnydale's police department was smart enough to let everyone else in other towns and cities know to look out for the dangerous criminal that was Faith.
BOLO and all that, like in the crime shows. What does that even stand for? Xander searched his memory, but he couldn't remember.
"I do hope," Giles said as he moved the car onto the exit, and having to slow down as they started to deal with a bit more traffic. "That we have a better way of narrowing down where Faith is than just 'in Los Angeles'."
"We can do the map spell again, but we should just start by going downtown and seeing which direction the crystal takes us from there," Willow suggested.
"Can you make a second crystal?" Anya said. "It shouldn't be that hard, and then we could split up, cover more ground, faster."
"We could," Willow nodded. She looked over at Tara, then shook her head, "But we only have so much of Xander's hair left. I'd rather save it for if we need to do more map spells or something."
Anya pouted, but she nodded, following the logic.
It took them the better part of an hour to start to narrow down where Faith was, as the crystal kept directing them down this street, then that, suggesting she was on the move, but finally staying mostly steady.
"I think we're getting warmer," Willow said, watching the crystal point steadily ahead.
February 25th, 2000
Angel Investigations Los Angeles
Something seemed off, to Cordelia. She couldn't figure out what, or why, or how. But something seemed different about Xander. The drive back, after asking a few questions and making a joke, he'd been unusually quiet. Xander usually - though not always - liked to fill the silence, at least if he wasn't doing something.
And he hadn't objected to being called Mr. Harris, which Xander always did. Nor had he taken any opportunity to insult Angel after he was brought up. Which again, Xander usually did though maybe he was just waiting to do it to Angel’s face.
Something was different about him. Which... well, things were different about her. They hadn't seen each other in nine months, so it wasn't really surprising he was different.
As they walked through the doors into the building, Cordelia turned back to Xander. "What are you even doing in L.A. anyway?"
Xander said nothing for a long moment, then finally he just sort of shrugged. "Needed to get away," he said quickly.
"Just... away?" Cordelia shook her head, not believing it for a minute. "So, what, you just ditched Buffy and Willow and came to L.A. for the hell of it?"
"I don't want to talk about it, okay?" Xander insisted, brushing past her quickly, opening the door to Angel's office - it was hard to miss the sign that said 'Angel Investigations', after all. Cordelia rolled her eyes and followed him in, watching Xander grab one of the doughnuts from next to the coffee maker, stuffing half of it into his mouth. Which was pretty typical Xander. Some things haven't changed.
He sat down on the couch in the entryway, crossing his legs a moment, then shifting position again, as if trying to find a comfortable way to sit.
Cordelia stared at him for a moment, as she heard the sound of the elevator coming upstairs. Wesley walked into the office at nearly the same time as Angel stepped out of the elevator. Angel saw Xander, Xander saw Angel, and then Angel looked away, his expression unreadable. As was often the case.
"Hey Angel," Xander said, smirking in a decidedly un-Xander-like way. He sounded like he was trying to bait or tease Angel. Xander was petty when it came to Angel, but usually from a distance.
"Xander," Angel grumbled. He looked at Wesley and her, "Did you see Wolfram and Hart's guys?"
"No, thankfully, I saw him before he got that far. Give it another minute or two and they might have gotten him," Cordelia answered, sitting down behind her desk.
"They don't seem to have followed us either, but one has to assume they'll try again, at least as long as you're in L.A." Wesley looked over at Xander as he said that.
"Wolfram and what?" Xander furrowed his brow. "I thought-" he cut off whatever he was about to say.
"Wolfram and Hart. Evil lawyers," Angel explained.
"Like that's an explanation, Angel," Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Evil lawyers is a given. These ones have demons and vampires as clients and working for them. That's who we think was going to grab you."
"The fuck for?!" Xander demanded.
What is wrong with me? Something kept seeming off about Xander, but Cordelia couldn't figure it out for the life of her. She'd learned to trust her instincts, so something probably was off - probably whatever reason he had for coming to L.A. - but what? And did she actually care?
No, not really. But it's going to bother me until he leaves or I figure it out.
"Impossible to say," Wesley shrugged. "But at a guess, I would suppose they want to use you as leverage against Buffy. Make her slay Angel."
Xander scoffed, "Like she'd ever do anything to hurt him, even to save me."
Something sounded almost... personal in there? Sure, Buffy delayed killing Angelus, but she had done it.
"Well, I'm sure she'd try to find another way, but she did send him to hell once," Cordelia pointed out. She looked over at Angel. "No offense."
"Right. How am I supposed to take offense at that?" Angel muttered.
Cordelia just rolled her eyes again. Right, go and brood about it some more.
Xander just looked confused for a moment as she and Angel went back and forth there, but his expression returned to normal quickly.
"Look, just hang here until it gets dark, and then we can all go - Angel included - to the bus station or whatever and you can head back to Sunnyhell," Cordelia suggested. "In case Wolfram and Hart tries again."
"Sounds like the kind of fun that isn't," Xander grumbled, but he stayed seated. Angel just shook his head and opened the door to his office, probably to just sit in the dark like he usually did. Xander stuck his hand in his pocket and stood up. "Angel - wait," he said, speaking quickly. "Since I'm here - look, I need to talk to you."
Angel stared at him, as if to say 'you're talking now'.
"Alone," Xander clarified, quickly, sounding... not excited, but like... close?
"Fine," Xander held the door to his office open once he stepped inside, and Xander walked in after him. Angel closed the door behind him. As he did so, Cordelia, watching Xander as the door closed, saw a glint of something. Some sort of metal? It was in Xander's hand as he took it out of his pocket.
Cordelia looked at her computer screen, then back to the door. Something had to be wrong. Like, really wrong. She wouldn't keep getting that feeling that something was wrong if it wasn't. She looked over at Wesley, then shook her head. Wesley didn't know Xander. How would he know if something was off?
"There's something off about Xander," she declared. Wesley looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "I've known him since first grade. There's something wrong with him." She stood up. "And I'm going to find out what." She walked over to the door to Angel's office.
"Cordy-" Wesley started, but Cordelia just raised a finger.
"Don't! Don't go 'Cordy'-ing me, Wesley." She opened the door to Angel's office. Angel was standing next to his desk, Xander not far from him, back facing the door, hands behind his back. One hand was holding the wrist of the other hand loosely, and that hand had some weird... metal contraption on it. It was held to his hand by rings around his pinke, thumb and middle finger.
"Cordy," Angel said, looking up at her. Xander looked back at her, looking furious at the interruption. Like... furious, furious. She'd never seen Xander look that angry before, but if looks could kill, Cordelia would be a smoldering wreck right now. Xander stepped forward quickly, towards Angel, hands coming around from behind his back.
Cordelia had no idea what that metal thing was, but if Xander had been hiding it, it wasn't friendly.
"Angel!" she shouted in warning, and Angel quickly stepped back before Xander could grab his hand, to do... whatever it was that thing did. Moving quickly, Angel pinned Xander to the wall, one hand pressing on his chest, the other pinning his arm to the wall at the elbow, well away from whatever that was.
"You wanna tell me what that's about, Xander?" Angel demanded. Then he growled and his vampire face came out. "Or do I get to force the issue?" He sounded almost pleased at the prospect of being allowed to hurt Xander. Okay, I mean I know you don't like him, but seriously Angel.
Cordelia's eyes narrowed at Xander and she stepped closer, getting a look at him. He didn't look even remotely afraid. Xander could be pretty brave, but this was different. This wasn't brave this was...
Reckless. Almost thrilling in the danger.
"Did you really have to go and ruin it, bitch?" Xander demanded, snarling at her, before looking at Angel. Cordelia recoiled - Xander had called her a lot of names over the years, before they dated and after they broke up - but never once, no matter how badly she treated Willow, had he ever called her 'Bitch'. And again, the anger. The snarl.
Nothing like Xander.
If it wasn't broad daylight, she'd almost wonder if this was vampire Xander, demon controlling him.
Is he possessed?
"Hey, watch it!" Angel shot back, getting in Xander's face.
"Funny. I was just gonna say the same thing." Xander pulled something out of his pocket with his free hand and pressed it to Angel's face. A cross. Angel recoiled, letting go of Xander, and Xander let go of the cross, pulling a vial of water out of his pocket.
"Good thing Xander had this on him a couple nights ago," she heard him mutter, as if referring to himself in the third person was normal. Cordelia grabbed at his arm, but Xander kicked back at her, sending her sprawling, and as Angel moved towards him, the cross-burn on his face already healing, Xander threw the holy water at Angel - it caught him right in the face, and Xander bolted, running as quick as he could while Angel was distracted.
Cordelia heard Wesley get knocked over, and Cordelia pushed herself into a sitting up position as she watched Xander running out the door. Angel, the skin on his face still healing from the holy water, ran after him.
"You can't-" Cordelia stood and moved quickly after, seeing Angel pull up short as Xander stopped in a large patch of sunlight on the landing below them, grinning wickedly. Angel was on the edge of the light, looking at Xander.
"Who are you?" Cordelia demanded. This couldn't be Xander. Someone had to be possessing him, or maybe it was some shapeshifting demon. "Because you definitely aren't Xander."
"What, do you actually have a brain in there, Queen C?" 'Xander' scoffed. "Coulda fooled me." Then he kept running downstairs, and Cordelia hurried after, trying to catch up with him. She needed to know what the hell was going on.
February 25th, 2000
Outside Angel's Building, Los Angeles
"Uh, guys?" Buffy said as the crystal directed them to turn down one more street, and then pointed dead ahead at a large brick building just one block away. "The crystal is pointing directly at Angel's place."
"That makes the kind of sense that doesn't. Why would Faith - especially looking like me - head to Angel's place?" Xander demanded, looking at the structure.
"Maybe she's planning on switching bodies with Angel," Willow suggested, laughing as she said it. Then she stiffed. "Maybe she's planning on switching bodies with Angel!" she repeated, this time taking the notion seriously.
"Giles, hurry!" Buffy said, turning to the watcher, urgency in her voice.
"Buffy, we're nearly there," he pointed out, and then he pulled up short, not far from the building. "You might as well get out now while I parallel park this bloody unwieldy thing." Buffy threw open the car door, and Xander squeezed ahead, between Willow and Tara and went out the side door as well. If Faith switched with Angel - well, that would be bad. Very bad.
Buffy ran for the front door of the building, but Xander was close behind her. Less experienced at making the most of his Slayer speed, Xander didn't go as fast as he felt like he could, knowing Buffy could restrain Faith without him if need be -
The front doors were thrown open, and someone bolted out, running as quick as he -
"Faith!" Buffy called out, stopping maybe twenty feet from his body. Faith - obviously still here - also pulled up short upon seeing the two of them, hesitating, looking ready to run either left or right, but knowing they could catch up with her before she made it ten feet.
"It's over, Faith!" Buffy repeated, as Xander stopped next to her.
Faith just sneered at them - Xander hadn't even realized his face could sneer. But apparently, yeah, it could. Huh.
"Always have to come and ruin everything for me, don't you, Buffy," Faith said, 'her’ voice dripping with the kind of contempt Xander had usually reserved for Spike. Before she could say anything else, the doors opened again and Cordelia came out of the door, right behind Xander.
"Cordy!" Xander said, unable to stop himself, surprised. Even as he said it, he remembered - she worked for Angel.
"Faith?!" Cordelia demanded, stepping back. "When did - Buffy!?! Why aren't you beating Faith up?"
"Because that's Faith!" Xander gestured to his body. Faith tried to grab Cordelia, but his ex managed to avoid her grab. Xander started to run for the two of them, but then Faith pulled something off her hand.
"WAIT!" she shouted, holding up the same device she'd used to switch with him. "Take one more step, either of you, and I break this. Then you'll never get Xan back in his body." She laughed, "Not that I see why you'd care. What's it like to not be worthless for a change?"
"Faith, you're worthless whatever body you're in," Buffy replied, coldly. "You can go ahead and break it if you want, by the way. Willow's got a spell that can do the work. Just give up already."
"Screw it," Xander said, running up to Faith, grabbing at her. Faith did in fact keep her promise, dropping the device and stepping on it before he got to her, but Xander didn't care - he trusted Willow's spell would work, and he was a little too busy grabbing Faith. He took ahold of her - his - wrists.
But because he was trying to refrain from holding too tightly - he didn't want to hurt himself - she managed to break out of his grip. Faith kicked backwards at him. Xander, not expecting it, took the hit on the shin. It didn't really hurt much, but he did stagger back a bit, and Faith started to run away. But then Xander was on her again, grabbing 'her' by the back of the shirt and tugging her back. Then he took her wrists and held on tighter this time.
"Wait, wait, what the hell is going on?!" Cordelia demanded. She looked towards him - to what looked like Faith to her. "Xander, is that -"
"Yeah, that's Xander, Cordy. Catch up already, will you?!" Faith snapped, struggling against his grip. "You're gonna pay for fucking things up, Cordy. You guys want to give me my body back, I'll kill you all. What's more murder?"
"Yeah, no," Xander said. "We're going to make sure your body is chained up before we switch you back into it. Then... then I don't know. Council, probably." At this point, he really didn't mind if Faith died. Like, it wasn't something he was rooting for, but if it happened? Long as it was in her own body, he didn't care one bit.
"Fuck you," Faith shot back. Xander held onto her, but he still didn't want to hurt his body too much, so she was able to keep moving. She kicked at his leg again, but this time he was able to sidestep it, and she fell half-over onto one knee, grunting as she tried to flip him or something. But it was easy to stay on his feet.
"Anyway, yeah, this is me," Xander said, looking up at Cordelia. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Willow, Tara and Anya walking towards them, Giles getting out of the car as well. "Hey Cordelia."
"Hey Xander," Cordelia said, shaking her head a bit. "Deja vu," she muttered under her breath. She looked over at Buffy. "Hey Buffy. So... Faith switched bodies with Xander?"
"Hey Cordelia. And Yeah." Buffy nodded. She looked at the building. "So... uhm... how is Angel?" Faith started to make some sort of comment, but Xander tugged at her arm, one quick jolt that made her cry out. Whoops. Fuck. That was gonna need some ice.
"He's Angel," Cordelia nodded. "You know. He broods, he doesn't do much socializing, he kills demons. The usual." She nodded at Xander and Faith. "We have manacles upstairs. Since you mentioned chaining Faith up..."
"Kinky," Faith remarked, though more in an angry growl rather than some sort of teasing comment, and Xander gagged at the thought.
Before they could respond, however, they heard the sound of wheels moving towards them - coming at them, perpendicular to the street Giles had driven in on, was a black van, a black SUV right behind it.
"Oh crap. We should probably get inside-" Cordelia started to say, but before she could say anything else, the SUV gunned it and jumped the curb, driving towards Xander and Faith. He cried out in shock, jumping back, and letting go of his body in the process - Faith rolled away, just barely avoiding the car, or so it seemed, until it pulled up short, bare inches from where he and Faith had just been. Buffy and Cordelia jumped back as well, and with the van and the SUV between the four of them and Willow, Tara, Anya, and Giles; he couldn't see how they were reacting.
The SUV had lowered windows, the passenger and back seat, people in black tactical vests holding guns - real guns, real bullets, fuck. Xander didn't recognize the gun - Soldier boy had no knowledge of it, but that didn't really say a whole lot. He didn't have many memories of that anyway, and soldier boy had been in 'Nam so unless it was an M14, M16, or M60 he didn’t know more than how to pull the trigger.
Faith started laughing. It was more of a bitter, hollow laugh, but still.
An attractive - no, more than that, sexy - woman with long brown hair artfully arranged around her face, wearing a black pantsuit stepped out of the van, flanked by two men wearing dark suits and sunglasses, looking like those secret service agents you saw with the President in the movies - or on the news. Somehow, he doubted that's what they were.
"I'd advise against trying anything, Miss Summers," the new arrival said, her voice sly, careful. "Normally we don't try anything this public, but after Miss Chase helped your friend here give us the slip earlier today, we had to resort to other methods."
"Let me guess, Wolfram and Hart?" Cordelia demanded. Then she looked down at Lilah's shoes. "Have to be. Only way you could afford Manolo Blahniks' that nice is by selling your soul." She sounded more jealous than anything else.
"Being evil does come with all the perks," she agreed. "Lilah Morgan, Wolfram and Hart." She nodded. "Now, if you'll kindly step away from Mr. Harris."
"I think you guys might have mixed things-" Faith started to say, chuckling, but before she could finish, the guys with guns directed them both at her, and the two men in suits put hands inside their suits, probably to grab guns of their own from shoulder holsters or something.
"We're on the clock, so please, come quietly," she said. She nodded two one of the suited men, who pulled a taser out of his coat and walked towards Faith - who he obviously assumed was Xander.
"No, really, you guys-" Xander started, but then the guns were pointed at him. Faith looked at the guns, looked at the taser, and then started to run.
"Faith, don't even-" Xander shouted, trying to grab at her, but the security goon was there, zapping her, taser getting her in the chest, and she collapsed. His body collapsed.
"We'll be in touch, Miss Summers," Lilah said, as the other security goon pulled out a gun of his own.
"Do you really think I can't get to you before the guns get me?" Buffy said, bracing herself to move.
"You are a Slayer, so it's quite possible you could avoid one, maybe two, even all three." As if on cue, the front passenger side door of the van opened and another guy in a tactical vest pointed yet another gun at them. "But four? From four different angles? Do you really want to gamble that?" Xander watched, unable to move - he didn't trust slayer speed to be faster than a bullet, whatever the gun - as his body, with Faith inside, was tossed unceremoniously into the van. Then Lilah got in. "Like I said, we'll be in touch."
The other security guy got in, the door closed, and the van and SUV sped off. Buffy started to run after them, but drew up short as the cars changed gears, increasing their speed significantly and she realized how futile it was. The cars were moving too fast.
Xander dropped to the ground, his legs giving out, landing on his ass as he realized what had just happened. Or at least, the ultimate take away.
He was stuck like this even longer.