Title: Only One (The “Remember Who You Are” Remix)
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Highlander
Rating: I guess PG-13? No worse than was on the show. I’m really bad at guessing ratings for writing.
Disclaimer: Characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, the WB, and UPN. Characters from Highlander are the property of Davis/Panzer Productions or a successor corporation.
Original story: “Twisting the Drabbles (Chapter 2)” by kerravonsen
(The “Remember Who You Are” Remix)
“Sneaking through the alleys, what a great idea, this is oh so totally what I’d planned on doing with my life. People will ask why I became a garbageman and I’ll say it’s because I spent my teenage years skulking in gross alleys with mondo amounts of trash to trip over,” Xander kicked the offending crate, and then hopped around a few times because yowsers that hurt, note to self, save up for steel toed boots, “and raise a ruckus so every vampire in a hundred yards heard me, and that, kids, is why I became a garbageman.”
“Don’t forget talking to yourself so you couldn’t hear anyone sneaking up on you,” Danielle from Xander’s chemistry class seemed to just appear out of the shadows.
The only problem is that Danielle had disappeared over a month ago.
Also what was up with that sudden appearance? Did vampires practice how to do that or was it just something they woke up knowing how to do?
“No, I wouldn’t want to forget that,” Xander said, pulling a stake out of his back pocket. Maybe he should have listened to Buffy when she said she didn’t need backup, but… come on, he didn’t pore over the Watcher diaries the way Willow did, but he knew that Slayers weren’t exactly known for their longevity. If he could help keep Buffy alive even an extra day, that would be worth it.
Assuming, of course, that he could help her stay alive that extra day, and not just get killed before her.
Danielle glided forward smoothly, laughing at Xander. “You don’t get it. I’m the cat, and you’re the mouse. Maybe the mouse can mount a defense, but in the end, the cat is going to win. That’s just the way it is. I’m higher up the food chain than you are.”
“Tell that to Tom and Jerry,” Xander countered, stepping back away from Danielle automatically.
Danielle closed the distance between them faster than an eyeblink. “This is real life, Xander, not a cartoon. You’re just food.”
“You mean Looney Tunes lied to me?” Xander shook his head in mock horror. “Say it isn’t so.” While Danielle was distracted by his goofball act, Xander drove the stake through her chest.
Buffy always made it look so easy, but he got the job done. Even if it was easier to go through the back.
Okay. Vampire dusted. Now to be backup.
Xander really should have been expecting it when Tommy yanked Xander into the shadows and bit into Xander’s neck, but it happened almost faster than he could register.
Xander woke up in the same alley. “Amateurs,” he snorted. He could have been found there! Actually, that raised a good question about what would happen to a body of a future vampire left in the sun. Would it burn or would three days need to pass first?
And then the meaning of it all hit, and Xander shook his head in disbelief. But he didn’t feel like a soulless monster! But would a soulless monster feel like one before killing their friends’ fish? They’d probably just be going lah-de-da sure do wish I could have some blood now. But he wasn’t even thirsty and wasn’t he supposed to be thirsty?
It didn’t matter, though, because Xander couldn’t let things get worse than they already were. He didn’t remember drinking any blood, but, well, he was awake and alive. “Alive”. So he must have. He always thought that he’d refuse to be a vampire, but apparently he was wrong.
But he couldn’t change it. It had already happened, all he could do was move on.
He couldn’t make his friends kill him. He couldn’t put Willow through that. So he’d have to do it himself. They’d need an explanation, and it wasn’t like he could leave a note that wouldn’t make him sound crazypants bananas, so he rummaged through his pockets for some loose quarters and found a payphone, leaving a coded message on Cordelia’s machine. With any luck, she’d share it with Willow, and Willow would pass it on to the others.
He couldn’t stake himself. He tried. He kept chickening out, and all he had to show for it was a shirt with some holes in it and some blood. Okay, a lot of blood. He thought he was supposed to be a lot faster, but maybe he was just defective.
So staking was out, and he didn’t think he could handle setting himself on fire, let alone beheading himself. So that left… Sunlight. It left sunlight.
Okay. He could do this. The beach was probably the best bet; if he picked the right spot, there was no way he’d be able to get to shelter before he was burnt to a crisp. And maybe it would be nice to see one last sunrise. If he survived long enough to even notice it.
He picked his spot and waited, thinking of all the people he was letting down, but he didn’t know what else to do. He wasn’t an Angel. They didn’t have another Orb of Thesulah on hand, and besides the last time had cost them a lot to pull off. He wasn’t putting Willow through that again, it had been freaksome when she’d channelled… he didn’t know who and he didn’t need to know who. No, they weren’t doing that again.
Xander watched while the sky turned pink, then orange, and waited for the immolation to start. And Willow wasn’t even around to notice that he’d used immolation correctly!
The sun rose higher and Xander remained a Xander-shaped Xander and not ashes. Was it too cloudy? That didn’t make sense, there weren’t really a lot of clouds.
Was it possible that he wasn’t a vampire? But he’d died. He’d felt it. ...But he was breathing.
Okay, quick check.
Xander held his breath as long as he could, staying still. Vampires didn’t need to breathe, if they weren’t doing something that needed air, like talking. Maybe if they were running they needed it, he didn’t know, they’d never tested it, so he was holding still just in case.
And he needed to breathe. He definitely needed to breathe.
He so needed to talk to Giles.
“Giles, we have a problem,” Xander announced as he came into the library.
Giles responded by throwing water on Xander.
Xander blinked the water out of his eyes. “Did you just throw holy water on me?”
“Yes, well, it didn’t have an effect, which means that Willow’s been crying in my office for the past hour needlessly.”
“That’s part of the problem.” Xander shifted his weight back and forth a few times. “I died. I know I died. But then I woke up? And things have been weird. I thought I was a vampire, since, you know, last thing I remember was a guy going chomp on my neck. But I didn’t burn in sunlight and I breathe, and also I can’t do anything vampires can do. So I don’t know what’s going on and I really hope you have answers because I’m kind of freaking out here, G-man.”
Giles blinked slowly at Xander. “I think I need to make a phone call.”
Shortly after Giles disappeared into his office, Willow came barrelling out and flung herself at Xander, clinging to him. “You’re alive! Giles says you’re really not a vampire, so why would you go leaving messages saying you’re a vampire and you’re going to off yourself, mister? I just saw you yesterday! But this is the Hellmouth and if a vampire can become a vampire in less time, it’s going to happen here especially if there’s any big supernatural happenings going on to make things even faster.”
“Breathe, Willow,” Xander reminded her with an affectionate smile. “I might have jumped to conclusions.”
Willow smacked his arm. “Well, don’t go jumping to conclusions like that!”
“I’ll try, but that kinda happens a lot,” Xander admitted sheepishly.
Giles emerged from his office. “My friend - no, that’s too strong. An acquaintance of mine, Joe Dawson, is on his way to explain things. We don’t run in precisely the same circles, but occasionally there is overlap.”
“What kind of overlap?” Willow tilted her head quizzically at Giles.
“He can explain better than I, since this is his field,” Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them while he spoke. “Normally you would not be allowed to know the full situation, and he would only tell Xander, but he is aware of your roles with Buffy, despite it not being typical, and I believe that he is rather atypical in his own group, so an exception is being made.”
Xander wasn’t exactly known for his patience, though he did try, but after what seemed like forever but was probably only a few minutes, he gave up trying to be patient. “Can you give me the cliff notes version while we wait?”
Giles sighed, though Xander would bet good money that he’d anticipated Xander’s inability to wait. “Very well. We are both Watchers, but our responsibilities are very different. I guide the Slayer. He watches and records Immortals. They’re not supposed to interfere but-”
“But he’s like you and isn’t so good at watching without doing?” Xander interrupted.
“Quite,” Giles nodded. “I must admit that I don’t know much about Immortals. They keep to themselves, for the most part; we are only taught enough about them to recognize the signs. They age like humans, until they have their first death, at which point, they are, well, immortal. They may die again, but they’ll resurrect within minutes, unless they are beheaded.”
“Sooooo I need to not lose my head and everything will be hunky dory?” Xander focused on the important information Giles had shared. He didn’t need to know most of the rest, but “if someone chops off your head you’ll die for real” was a thing he definitely needed to know. The rest of it was the kind of thing Willow would want to know, and she’d tell him what else he needed.
“I wish it were that simple,” a new voice said. “I’m Joe Dawson. Sit down and I’ll lay it out for you. Usually you’d have an Immortal to be your first teacher, but most of them won’t go near the Hellmouth, for damn good reason, but that also means you’ll be safe while you learn. As safe as you can be on a mouth of hell.” Joe Dawson settled in at the table, and steepled his fingers. “Let’s see, where to start…”
Xander’d thought he’d be lucky to survive high school. Then he met Buffy and realized that he’d really be lucky to survive high school. But now there was a lot more than that. He’d have to survive The Game, too, or die trying.
Well, this was his life now, and the sooner he adjusted, the better.
The Game was afoot.
No, wait. No, he thought of a better one.
Let the Games begin.
Oh, whatever. Bring it on, Immortals.