All characters property of Mutant Enemy, and the WB. I don't own them I just put them in fun situations. Archived on Twisting the Hellmouth and YAHF.
Summary:Xander Harris dresses as a mild mannered reporter with unexpected results.
Having but a few dollars for a prop to go with his fatigues at home, he had settled on a toy rifle. Of course, after Willow and Buffy had fawned all over the gown Buffy was going with Xander felt a surge of frustration.
A soldier, Xan? No wonder I can't get Buff-a-licious to notice me! Not when I wear my budget on my sleeve!
Xander frowned at his ugly thoughts He knew better than to think of Buffy as supremely shallow like Cordy, but he was still frustrated.
"We're done Xan,"Buffy chirped, "bought your gun yet?"
"Mmm, why don't you lovely ladies go ahead, I'll catch up with you tonight before we go on Commandant Snyder's Bataan candy march."
Willow giggled. "Wow! Xander Harris using historical references as joke material?"
"Get!" Xander swatted playfully at his best friends. After the girls left Xander wandered back to the bargain bin and tossed the gun in, frustrated.
"Easy lad! No need to get churlish with the goods!" yelped a voice from Xander's shoulder.
"Cripes!" Xander wheezed, "Please feel free to never sneak up on me ever again!" The teen shuddered. Living on a hellmouth was making him overly jumpy.
"Sorry, not to alarm. Ethan is my name. Now that you know my name perhaps we can arrive to a mutually satisfactory agreement?"
Xander just quirked his eyebrows.
"Let's make a deal!" Ethan finished with a conspiratorial tone.
Xander smiled and let out a sigh. "Those girls who just left are my friends. We've gotta have costumes tonight and I was all set with soldier guy...but I just feel like I could do better."
Before Ethan retorted however Xander spied a laminated card that said "PRESS PASS" in bold type. Digging deeper the teen discovered a slightly worn pair of tortoiseshell horn rim glasses. Turning to Ethan he proudly held up his finds.
"I know it's a stretch, but if you've got a suit jacket to go with these on the cheap you'd make me a very happy customer."
Ethan gave Xander a slightly puzzled smile. "Considering the deal I gave your blond friend I'm positive we can come to an agreement. Can I inquire as to what exactly you've decided on though?"
Xander couldn't help but grin wider. "A rare bit of subtlety from my brain...just a mild mannered reported from a major metropolitan newspaper."
Elsewhere, above the physical realms, one particular being could sense a surge of Chaos from far below.
Hmmm...Looks like someone is playing a game that I like.
Navigating through the walls of reality, the diminutive sprite came across the shade of Janus preparing for the festivities.
"Budge over McGurk, coming through!"
Janus sighed as only a god could. He hated it when this being called him that.
Chaos energy surged through Sunnydale in powerful wave as Ethan activated his spell.
Xander Harris' spirit recessed and Clark Kent came forth.
Staggering slightly as he fully possessed Xander the displaced reporter quickly recovered and began to try and make sense of his surroundings. People were screaming and running about but Clark was more shocked at how muted everything felt.
"Xander? Xander, it's me, Willow!"
Clark spun around to see a provocatively dressed red head running to him.
"Sorry miss- I don't know any Willow's...met an Ivy once..." Clark trailed off, confused as he tried sensing anything and able to only hear and see at what he remembered were pre-power levels. No thermal, no radio, no x-rays. What the hell was going on?
"Xander, quit playing!"
Clark had another shock as he realized that he could feel gravity once more. Becoming slightly alarmed he shrugged off the girl's insistence that he focus on her.
"Listen, miss, you should go find a safe place to hide. Something is going on and I need to find out what." Trying to pat Willow's shoulder in a reassuring way, Clark's jaw dropped when his hand passed right through the girl.
Willow looked almost as surprised as Clark when he looked over his glasses at her, the question in his eyes.
"Xander, listen, something crazy is going on. I was dressed as a ghost for Halloween a-and now I am...Oh hell."
Clark stared for a moment before going on. "Okay...what was it that I "dressed" as then?"
"Well, uh, you wouldn't say exactly. Just that you knew and that he was a reporter."
This could get tricky.
Not knowing where or when he was exactly, Clark decided that in his current state feigning ignorance was probably for the best. He hated playing it up but he was going to have to act around this.
"You expect me to believe this?" Though he despised lying, he was shocked as he looked in a nearby window and was startled by the reflection of a face that wasn't his own.
Willow's response was unfortunately cut off by their serious need to flee from a creature that absurdly reminded Clark of the old "land shark" sketch.
Laughing as they ran down the street, Clark knew he should be more concerned but something in the air was invigorating his sense of reckless adventure.
Pausing a moment for Clark to scoop up an unconscious young lady in heavy dress that Willow said was her friend "Buffy".
"Well Willow, what do we do now?" Clark asked as he slung the girl over his shoulder.
"Oh boy. Um, listen, I know this will sound strange but I need you to trust me so I can get you two safe!" the teen pleaded as they ran from the possessed costume wearers.
"You'd be surprised what I'd find strange!" Clark yelled as they ran through backyards from the possessed costume wearers in Sunnydale.
Willow got the three of them to Buffy's house just before "Lady Buffy" awoke and loudly began voicing her disdain for the situation. As Clark secured the doors and windows he listened to the young noblewoman establish that she wasn't going to accept the strange situation and eventually he just tuned her out, caught up in his what to do about this situation.
He was wired on adrenaline but knew that wouldn't last. He couldn't fly, see, hear, and had forgotten how it had felt to sweat apparently.
He was thrilled.
Since he had turned 13 and his powers had started coming to the fore under Kansas skies, Clark had always been concerned that he would lose touch with what it was to be human. Tonight had served as a perfect refresher course. When this was all over (because if nothing else, Clark was an optimist) he couldn't wait to see Bruce and Diana's faces when he told them about all of this. Bruce, because his stoic friend was always quietly challenging Clark to never become complacent and disconnected. Diana, because she always understood his desire to "fit in" as best he could.
Willow made a quiet comment about Buffy's costume choice that brought Clark back from woolgathering just in time for him to dodge a scaly arm bursting through the small front door window. Taking quick action, the de-powered superhero grabbed the monstrous arm, slammed it to the opposite direction, and directed a pointed strike into the elbow. Clark grinned wryly as the arm vanished rather quickly with a yelp of pain and anger, into the night.
Dusting off his hands Clark turned to see Buffy looking curious and Willow looking downright suspicious at his quick actions.
"Ah," the reporter grinned sheepishly, "a friend of mine is a- uh- professional martial artist. He tries to teach me stuff from time to time."
Willow shook her head wondering about the stranger who had possessed her friend and crush.
Screams from outside caused Clark to bolt from the house to see if he could help, finding a statuesque brunette in a shredded cat suit running from some kind of hairy beast.
As the girl shrieked for "Xander" to help her he grabbed her and dragged her into the house, the whole time Clark felt an eerie sense of familiarity at her presence.
Clark listened as Willow tried to calm the girl down, only to be rebuffed with scathing wit.
"She's like a slightly more mean spirited Lois..." Clark thought to himself as he wrapped his suit jacket around Cordelia's shoulders as she went on about Party Town and her diminishing costume deposit.
"Thanks." the girl said, a little unsure of the kind act from the person wearing Xander Harris' face.
Clark grinned and winked. "She may not look like Lois but she's almost as much fun to mess with."
"Sit tight and I'll get some help!' Willow reassured the group before running through the wall's off towards the Library.
As Cordy, Clark and the frightened Lady Buffy continued to reinforce the doors and windows Clark saw a picture of Xander, Willow, and Buffy lying on the ground.
"Huh." Picking up the photo, Clark handed it to Buffy. "What say you, kind lady? Looks like the ghost girl wasn't bluffing..."
Buffy made a face at the image before her. "Surely a learned man such as you seem to be wouldn't indulge in this, this, phantasmagoria?"
Clark rolled his eyes. "Listen miss, culture and etiquette may be the law of the land where you are from, but as a "learned man" I need- am and being given- facts. Hopefully you'll see that blind ignorance won't suffice here."
Buffy only scowled more deeply and stamped her foot in a fit of childish pique.
Suddenly and tall young man in dark clothes entered from the kitchen. "Man am I glad to find you guys, it's total chaos out there."
"Who are you?" Buffy asked while Clark was blown away in silent shock at the face before him. The stranger in his midst looked almost exactly like Bruce Wayne.
"Bruce...?" Xander whispered in wonder. This world was pulling some fast ones it seemed.
Angel gave Xander a strange look and sensed something in the air for a moment before shaking it off.
"Okay, some one want to fill me in on why you two don't recognize me?"the ensouled vamp asked, perturbed.
Cordelia chose that exact moment to swoop in, explaining the situation and making introductions, all while throwing herself at the newcomer.
Then the lights went out.
Going into crisis mode Clark stepped into a leadership role once more. "Angel, take Cordelia and check the kitchen," taking Buffy gently by the arm and whispered gently, "You should stick with me milady, I'll not have any harm come to you." Clark couldn't help rolling his eyes at the tack he had to take to keep the flighty young woman calm but knew he made the right call when she complied calmly.
Seconds afterwards, sounds of a struggle came from the kitchen. Clark heard Cordelia say "Oh god, I think i went to school with him..." before Angel and Cordy emerged from the kitchen patting dust from their clothes, distasteful looks on their faces.
On the higher plane, Janus scowled. Buffy Summers was to have accompanied the ensouled vampire, ensuring a high level of Chaos that night. This "reporter" was interfering mightily. It had been more than four thousand years since Janus had smote someone but this mortal was trying his patience. Winding up to let a bolt of energy fry the displaced kryptonian, the god was stopped by his viewing partner.
"Whoa McGurk! Relax big fella! Zap that boy and you're blowing an amazing opportunity for both of us!"
Janus, intrigued, gave the imp leeway to explain.
"Everything that happens with the confines of the spell gives you power, right? Well what about the Chaos that would occur BECAUSE of the spell!"
Realization hit Janus in a flash at the importance of the imp's plan, a smile coming over both of his mouths.
"That's right you two faced pal 'o mine! You let that kid do his thing and with my help, we'll cause those upstart P.T.B.'s to go kaput! Look at him, because of this spell he's radiating lines of force to multiple different realities! We're talking Chaos of a kind that'll transcend that weak material plain! This is the kind of power that could make you a player again!" the purple suited imp finished with grand flourish that .
Janus smiled and sat back to take in the scene below. Perhaps it was time to look at playing the long game once more.
Shortly after the group at Buffy's house settled into waiting for Willow to return, said young ghost woman and Giles shattered the bust of Janus at Ethan's shop. Magic interrupted, the energy that had supercharged Sunnydale's night life began withdrawing almost instantly, leaving little effect on all of those who had been possessed by their costumes.
All but one, that is.
Xander Harris felt the moment the spell broke slow to a crawl. Clark Kent's essence was leaving him, as if it were draining away. Desperately, the youth grabbed at the memories of that other soul, so unlike the comic books and movies he'd grown up on. The life Xander had seen while Kal-El possessed the California teen had been beyond words. The "real" Clark Kent had shown Xander a mind full of memories that were bright and strong, a life that even in the quiet moments had surpassed Xander's expectations for what to expect from the world. A sharp witted, quiet friend who dressed as a bat. A radiant Amazon princess who had been a wonderful chess partner. A childhood full of the joy of exploration and a farm full of laughter. A beautiful redhead who had been his best friend and more. A caustic, brilliant brunette who had challenged him as a reporter. The clouds between his feet. God's the clouds rushing past, the wind and sun on his face as he hurtled through the air...
Xander grabbed at the memories as best he could, trying to make all the faces stay in his heart. At the last second, the last bit of magic draining out his system, Xander could have sworn that he saw Clark's face in his mind, winking conspiratorially at the teen. Later on, Xander would have realized that on the Hellmouth, he should have learned to expect an interesting life.
After Willow had called and relayed that everything was settling down and that she'd be heading home, Xander sat in the Summers living room, dealing with the events of what had happened. He felt different now, in a way that he knew would take a while to understand.
"Y'okay Xan?" Buffy asked, seeing the slightly sad look on her best guy friend's face.
Xander shook off the look on his face. "Yeah Buff, just a lot to take in, y'know?"
"Tell me about it!" Buffy said with a smile before she spat out a series of what sounded like self depreciating comments in classical French.
Angel and Xander looked at each a burst out laughing before Buffy had realized what had happened and began to mutter darkly under her breath.
"Well, in any case Xander, if you need to talk about anything, I'll be here. Okay?"
Xander smiled and gave the Slayer a short hug and tossed a brief nod to Angel as both men realized that their earlier moment of shared humor had been a breach in their "feud". Xander still marveled over Angel's resemblance to Bruce Wayne and wondered what it all meant. Leaving the couple at Casa de Summers, Xander walked home, his head full of clouds and half remembered glories.