"Earthbound: Chapter 8 Innocence pt. 2"

Disclaimer: I do not own Superman or Buffy or any of the properties represented herein. I am in no way attempting to or making any money off of what I write, but am only trying to create unique situations for the characters to explore, occasionally putting my own creative spin on how I see things. Thank you for your time.

A/N: Upped the rating to FR15 for language, and you've been warned about a slight amount of fan service being paid in the middle part of the fic.

The early morning sky over Sunnydale generally didn't see much of interest. Some birds, maybe a demon from time to time(very rarely), usually the sky was cloudy occasionally and rained just enough to keep things nice and healthy, mainly due to the fact that this particular mayor's office took it's campaign promises very seriously.

Due to this state of affairs, no one was looking up as a six foot two inch young man jump twelve miles from the residential district to the undeveloped hills above town. This was useful because this way no one could hear the gleeful shriek of the five foot five inch blond Slayer in the aforementioned man's secure arms.

Xander landed and was pleased that he didn't crater the ground like the first time Clark had tried that trick. Then again, Clark hadn't had the precious cargo that Xander had been carrying.

"Okay, that wasn't the explanation I was looking for but we are SO doing that again Xander! That was incredible!" Buffy shouted, her eyes full of energy to match the giant grin on her face.

Xander blushed a bit at the praise, mostly he was glad that she hadn't freaked out halfway through the jump. "So it's safe to say that you're over your fear of heights then?"

"Oh hell no," The Slayer chirped, "you just sprung that on me in such a way that it didn't catch up with me till, oh, five hours from now. I like to think of it as delayed Slayer awesome reaction to paralyzing fear."

Xander laughed. "So still no roller coasters then."

"Xander, Xander...you and Willow will have a very enthusiastic bag holder the next time you guys go to Knott's scary farm, but I will never get on one of those coasters." Buffy tore her eyes away from the town that was still wrapped in some patches of fog and saw Xander, bathed in the sunlight, his eyes closed as he seemed to absorb the glow.

As with yesterday at the coffee shop, Buffy was struck by the difference in the boy that had occurred in the past few months. Besides his new demeanor his hair had begun to grow out long and wavy, and while he had never had what she considered a "soft" profile, small changes had occurred across his face, sharpening his features into an almost regal face. He'd shot up a few inches to over six feet in height and his body was lean and muscled tightly, not bulky at all but powerful all the same. Xander opened his eyes and turned those amazing "new" blue eyes on Buffy's face.

"So Buff, what should we talk about?"

Buffy playfully hit Xander's shoulder and yelped.

"What the hell Xand? What happened last night? You get captured, which I so don't buy now that I've just about broken my hand on your arm, and then the vamps and Angel goes back to being cryptic broody guy when we were coming to save you, plus the Judge got exploded without any of the world ending stuff..."

"Well, in that order: I went through a transformation of sorts, I was captured while you and Bats were saying good-bye and I didn't have the strength you've seen then, the vamps exploded because my blood is super toxic to them, Liam was keeping my secret, and the Judge miscalculated just how special he was. Now that you're up to speed, shall we go to school?"

Buffy responded with a near passable impression of Willow's resolve face and didn't say a word.

Xander looked skyward and sighed, "I knew it wouldn't be that easy..."

"You know it never is."

"Okay Buffy here we go. Would you say that I'm roughly as powerful as a locomotive?"

"Who even says locomotive these days?"

"It's for illustrative purposes Summers, work with me here."

"Sure."

"Okay Buffy, from what you just experienced, would you also say that I can leap a tall building in a single bound?"

Buffy's memories of Halloween suddenly rushed to the front of her mind and she could see Xander's face framed by a pair of glasses.

"Oh shit."

Xander wanly clapped his hands for his friend who obviously just put the pieces together. "I guess us resolving our "interesting issues" just got a lot easier, huh?"

Buffy just stared at Xander as if he was going to fly away and never come back. "You're Superman." The Slayer stated cautiously.

Xander smiled, "Well not yet Buffy. Maybe never depending on this dimension and what not...I'm not really sure how this is going to work. From what I've deduced though, the Judge's power somehow got turned around on him and super charged my cells, those are the cells that have been working slowly since Halloween to turn me into a full blooded Kryptonian. At this point, and I haven't had more than a few hours of being like this, I'm not totally sure of my power levels. I know that I have Clark Kent's memories on his relative power levels at this time in his life, but we've had a very different development cycle so I don't know how much I can trust that."

Buffy continued to observe Xander, her face carefully not betraying her thoughts. "So is it scary for you?" she asked in a small voice.

Xander almost cried about that being Buffy's first real question to him. "The only thing I'm scared of is losing my friends because they think I'm a freak."

"Well I certainly can't understand that." Buffy said dryly.

Xander laughed, the moment becoming lighter again. "This wasn't something I was comfortable sharing with you because I thought that you would try to fix me or something, that you'd think I was demonic or dangerous."

"So that was why you pulled away from Willow and me."

"Some, yes. Part of it was that, another part of it was that I need time to assimilate all of this, and to work through my feelings for you and Willow."

"So you mostly thought that if I found out about when it happened that I'd go all Slayer on you and try to exorcise you?"

"Sorry to say it but yeah, I did."

Buffy blew out a big breath that flipped her hair up. "Sadly, I think you'd have been right- at least back in November."

Xander just nodded with pleasure at Buffy's honesty.

"But I've watched you for the past two plus months Xand, I've seen you change and become this fusion of you and Clark Kent...I like it. I know you like it, hell, most of Sunnydale High likes it, even if they aren't quite sure what to do with you yet," the two friends laughed and scattered the birds, "one thing I did learn in the last few months is that I'm not your boss though- and that was driven home last night when I saw you being attacked by the Judge along with every vamp in the factory. You've made a choice to join the fight and I can't really be mad or scared of you just because you've gotten the tools to make a difference. I almost lost you Xander, I'm not going to do something that puts either of us in that place, ever again if I can help it."

Xander absorbed Buffy's speech and could hardly believe where they'd come to. Sometimes he was haunted by the few flashes of the other future that could have been and he instinctively knew that no matter what, this was the better way.

"Thank you Buffy. It means a lot that you can see what I'm becoming and that you trust me to handle this responsibly."

"Well, I figure I'd better play nice since you just crushed that rock into dust with your hands and I'm all out of kryptomite."

"You're all heart Buff. It's krypto-nite, by the way."

"Whatever. C'mon Superboy, let's get down to the school."

Xander rolled his eyes as he polished off the rest of the pancakes from Joyce's care package. As she jumped into his arms he mused on the fact that the Slayer had the ability to swing between serious and quippy at will.

"So tell me why you call Angel 'Liam' all the time Xand..."

That afternoon Liam stirred from his restless sleep. All day he'd been plagued by self doubt about what he could have done to save Xander and how he could have better helped Buffy. Should he have told the Slayer the truth when he first found out about Kent? Would that have helped?

Pacing back and forth, he counted the seconds till sunset. All he wanted to do was find out that Buffy was okay even though Giles had told him about the curse. He'd lost one friend, he wasn't about to lose Buffy because she was distraught and not getting her head into the game, perfect happiness clause or not.

A knock on the door to his apartment shook him from his quality brood. His enhanced senses recognized Buffy on the other side of the door and he raced to open it.

"Hi!" The slayer said pleasantly.

Oh gods, Liam thought, she snapped and went into denial.

'I think you should sit down," Buffy said cautiously as she led her boyfriend across the room to his favorite brooding chair, "I brought some blood for you, have you eaten today?"

"Buffy..no...I've been...what's going on?"

Buffy ruffled his hair with love in her eyes. "Oh Liam..." she mused, trying out his other name, "bring in the food!" Buffy called out over her shoulder.

The vampires pale features grew damn near luminescent as Xander walked into the room and held up a bag from the butcher shop.

"Look dead boy, bison blood! Great taste but less filling!"

Thankfully vampires don't faint, not that Xander didn't give it the old college try.

"So you to have been at school all day and you've known about Xander's secret since this morning?" the vampire growled as he practically stalked back and forth across his apartment.

"It never occurred to either of you to drop a line, a signal flare, a damn carrier pigeon?! I've been going out of my mind all day and you-you- you're laughing at me," Liam said grouchily as he saw that Xander and Buffy were wiping tears of laughter from their eyes.

The teenagers were clutching each other as they sat on Liam's bed, finally able to let out their laughter.

"That's great! Great! Laugh now! You two make me crazy with fear and guilt and now you're laughing at me! Watch it Kent or you'll have to clear the attic on your own!"

Xander immediately sobered up and had the good sense to look sorry.

"Apologies around dude, we just got caught up at school today...the teachers are really cranking up the workload now that we've been back from winter vacation for a few weeks..."

Buffy nodded glumly, "Pop quizzes in French and Civics today," suddenly her head popped up with a suspicious look, "What attic?"

After a short explanation about their project and a short run across town, Liam and Angel finished looking over the revised renovation list for the house as Buffy wandered the property, getting a feel for the property.

"Really Liam, are you okay? I'm sorry that we didn't stop by earlier..."

The vamp looked a little put out still but was just glad everything (well some things) seemed to be okay. "Honestly? I'm a little frazzled by the yoyo act all of our emotions have been doing...I'm glad Buffy is with us now, the whole 'secret pals' thing was getting kind of hard to deal with, probably wasn't going to get easier after I mentioned that I knew you could take care of yourself last night when we were coming for you."

Xander laughed, "Yeah she wasn't real pleased with me either about you and I being friendly behind her back."

The Irishman looked Xander over quickly, impressed at the boy's stance after last night. "What about you? We thought you were dead last night- that was one hell of an explosion..."

"I know, I know. It was strange though...it felt like I was being reborn or something. At the very end something weird happened too..."

"Weirder than causing a warehouse to explode in a blue and red flare of energy?" Angel commented dryly as her washed the last of the paint brushes off in the now complete kitchen.

"Har har. No, I thought I heard Father for a moment- and by Father I mean Jor-El...

Liam thought about what Xander was saying and noted it for later before changing the subject. "So Buffy said you flew today?"

Xander snapped out it before shaking his head, "Not even close. We did a controlled jumping thing, kind of like what the original golden age Superman must have done- except he could only jump 1/8th of a mile and I think I might have jumped almost 15 this morning."

Liam's eyebrows jumped at that, "you jumped 15 miles?"

"Yeah but I think we can thank physics for that. I'm damn strong, but y'know how it is mass plus power.."

"Equals Xander jumping totally way far," Buffy called out from the parlor, to the men folk's amusement.

"Whatever the Judge did was better than a jolt cola. I've felt incredible all day, funny enough it was only after I felt like this that I remembered that this is what Clark feels like all the time. It's not like a buzz or anything, I just feel like I'm running high test, I mean, my brain was already better after Halloween, but I feel as if my synaptic activity has increased threefold since last night-"

The two men just stared at each other for a second before they both burst out laughing.

"Oh gods Kent what the hell..."

"Seriously?!"

As the laughter died down and they finished putting the renovation supplies away for the night Buffy came into the kitchen.

"Have I mentioned that it's slightly creepy to hear you two laughing together?"

"Only twice since we got here," Xander quipped as he sat at the kitchen table he and Liam had brought in last week.

Liam couldn't help himself as he wrapped an arm around Buffy from behind, Giles and Jenny's words of dire warning running through his ears all the while.

"Seriously though, you guys have a house and stuff. I'm impressed! What's next? You start a Fox sitcom about the two least likely roommates in Sunnydale history?"

Angel and Xander mulled it over before Angel broke the silence. "Nah, Fox would never go for it...maybe that WB channel though..."

"Well in any case, I like the house. You guys have been working on it for how long now?"

"About a week into December is when we cleared the nest out of here, I guess roughly six weeks at this point," Xander filled in helpfully, "originally it was to make a place to see what was going to happen to me over time, but the more we've worked on the more I think of it as a home. Certainly more of a home that the Harris house," Xander's face clouded a bit and Buffy decided to move on.

"Well I can only guess that the room full of mirrors is for you mega ego Xand? It's not like my non reflective honey here needs them."

"Nah, we knew that you'd be coming over some day, wanted to make sure we had a room ready for you." Xander deadpanned while Buffy threw some comic books from the kitchen counter at him and Liam tried that smiling thing he was getting good at.

Lilith dropped the child's empty body to the ground, the lifeblood of the toddler making her dizzy with pleasure. The whole family had been very...morally proper... which made for the equivalent of milk fed veal in terms of their blood quality.

The eldest daughter however had tried to put on a lovely front of brooding pre-goth, which at least meant that their was some decent eyeliner in the house.

Ever since she had woken up last night, her mind had been whirling with new thought, new information, as her psyche redesigned the fragile and near useless memory palace that Dru had erected in her crazy little head.

It was all tea parties and bloody phantasmagoria in the dumb bitch's head, making Lilith almost feel sorry for Spike having put up with the nonsensical twit for all of these years.

Then again, she reflected as she pulled on a lovely pair of charcoal slacks that belonged to the former Mrs. Wright, if that bleached walking caricature hadn't gotten fed up with Dru's rambling by this point there wasn't really any pity to be doled out.

Angelus, now that was someone she'd have liked to party with. Throwing various shirts and blouses on the bed atop the corpses of the Wright's, Lilith saved Dru's memories of Angelus' cock. That boy had definitely been good for a shag before he got his balls cut.

Deciding on a form fitting black business shirt with gray pinstripes, Lilith tossed the rags that had been Dru's dress aside and walked over the various pieces of the family that she had dismembered upon her first feeding.

She nicked the so pathetically rebellious daughter's smokes and walked into the kitchen checking on the gas line that she had ripped out of the stove earlier and by the time she had gotten to the front yard the candle she'd left burning in the bedroom finally ignited the gas cloud and the house started to burn quite nicely with a few fireworks to kick the show off.

Lighting up, she savored the taste of the cigarette and giggled.

Walking back into the woods that surrounded the secluded family home Lilith couldn't but reflect that two wrongs don't make a right, but four Wrights certainly made a good first meal.

Lilith sauntered through the woods, taking in the night. She was still on the outskirts of Sunnydale, having wandered into the hills off of Crawford St. Even being in the woods wasn't the same as it used to be...she could sense the Hellmouth first of all, a deathbag over the whole valley, an intense heady feeling of power that was only accentuated with the sense of electricity that fueled the mortal world. These humans had come far in some ways to her surprise. Of course it seems they had only traded magic for the foolish idea of technology.

Gods knew she had certainly done her best to disabuse the fools that had been pushing science on the world back in her day, but apparently all you did by slaughtering infants was piss off parents, who then get all butt hurt and banish your bleedin' spirit away.

Nimbly leaping to the tree tops she surveyed the town. While she couldn't access even a twelfth of her former powers yet, she at least could still see they 'ley' of the town as it were.

Hellmouth, Mayor's office, a small patch of air about seventy feet above the college campus that looked pretty weak dimensionally, and a nice assortment of flavors in terms of various sects, cults, and magic users. Oh my, there was a nice big hot spot over there- oh for crying out loud- how had Acathla gotten over there? That stupid bastard had always been a little over the top for her and now he'd gotten himself here in the new world. Shaking her head, Lilith continued to survey the town. The area where she had been let back in to the world was a bit of a hot spot too, all kinds of energy was over there, most of it unusable though. It was very pretty though; she'd always liked blue and gold, and red was pretty much her favorite color.

A soft moan of pleasure interrupted her thoughts and she realized that she was very close to some adolescents fucking their brains out in a car about twenty feet away. As she leaped down to the car to get some dessert, Lilith reflected on the fact that at least some things hadn't changed in five thousand years and that you could still count on the young to be deliciously naughty.

Janus saw the walls of reality rushing past, dizzying in the extreme. His former peers had been very happy to strip him of everything he'd ever known save his mind before dropping him into the space between for his banishment.

Incorporeally rushing through the Elsewhen, Janus started to worry about the "leniency" of his former peers. There had definitely been some hard looks directed his way before the jettisoned his sou from the judgment dimension they had created, the Wolf in particular having a particularly nasty look on it's face.

As he traveled, little snippets of realities tried to grab at his, his explorer's mind still trying to encompass the amazing variety that grew steadily darker as time went across. His mind felt a little wibbly at this point, the only thing holding his consciousness together being the sense memory of divine composure and the fact that at one point this had been as simple as walking across the street for him. As it stands, few mortals could handle unshielded transport through the express lanes of reality and his newly mortal soul was feeling the strain.

As a funny little police box nearly scattered him as it raced the other way he reflected on the humor of being in a situation where one should be praying to various deities like mad and here he was with a curse in his mouth(theoretical) for everyone that he could think of.

Janus grew a little concerned as he rocketed into a section that could be considered the "bad part of town" in terms of the the collective sum of realities. The walls of time and space began to shriek and swirl in more threatening ways as the former god hurtled through them

Had he a form, Janus would have been screaming in terror as something from the Dungeon Dimensions tried it's damnedest to get through and make a snack of him before it's tentacles were forced back by a flash of white light.

"Well, well, how the mighty have fallen." came a smarmy voice to what would have been Janus' right side.

Oh perfect, Janus thought, that's just who I needed to see right now.

"Come come old friend! No smile for Q?"

Not on your life, even if I had a mouth.

"Tsk tsk. Here I go to the trouble of slowing your descent into eternal madness and you can't even show me a little gratitude. If you could know the anguish I'm feeling at your callousness!"

So sorry you sarcastic little twit, but as you can see, I've caught a sudden case of being damned in almost every way imaginable.

Q just shook his head in mock pity before wagging his finger sternly. "This is what you get for throwing in with that little bastard you know. The girl was on the right track, but the man, now he was truly dumb. I could have told you that those 5th dimensioners are nothing but trouble.

Lovely, here comes the bigotry.

"Insults! Slander! I have the mind to just let you get back on the flight path you former so-called-friends sent you on!"

Well why did you stop me anyways? I thought you stayed in that ridiculous universe with the spaceships most of the time.

"Well a body likes to go on vacation from time to time. Besides, your little tether to that boy you're so fond of cut through my reality when you were going Warp 1000 towards the hell regions."

Janus moved his point of view around and was blown away at the sight of a infinitesimal strand of Chaos connected to his cloud of energy.

"Indeed old boy, little surprising to myself as well. I can only assume that is what's blocking that ridiculous group of 'gods' from coming and making sure you're properly trussed up still. The static this thing puts out is extraordinary."

Both beings recoiled as the line suddenly pulsed brightly and flooded Janus' form with energy before the strand that had led back to Xander unraveled into ambient energy that Q sampled some of.

What the hell?

Q swished the energy in his mouth before absorbing it fully. "Tastes like a fair amount of class 2 byproduct chaos. I'm getting an morally questionable female feeling from it.

Brunette and British?

"Parts of it. It's also very old. Most of the strife is that she just killed some kid who was going to shoot another man to death in a few years, what a lucky little primate he is! Those 'Powers', always building little glass balance scales, then getting mad when the butterfly effect changes everything."

Janus was ignoring the annoying Q. The energy pulse had done something to him and he could feel himself being drawn towards a birth somewhere.

"Well look at that. Looks like you're off on a grand adventure! Glad I slowed you down long enough for you to get that then," Q looked inquiringly at Janus' form, an opportunistic look on it's face, " I think this makes us even for that time you created the continuum then, hmmm? Ta!" With a snap of his fingers Q vanished into the ether, relieved to be out of debt.

Janus wasn't sorry to see the annoying creature go, almost amused that the continuum thought he'd created them, but mainly he was feeling very odd as he was pulled to a dimension's Earth far away from all the realities he'd mapped out. His cloud began to send sparks off in every direction, bolts of energy slamming into the walls of reality and the former god's knowledge began to bleed off of him in a dazzling display of light as the dimension he entered molded his form to fit to standards. He vaguely sensed that his soul was changing, becoming more properly human, but he attempted to hang on to bits of his divine memory the same way that Xander had grasped at Clark's fleeing essence on Halloween. Janus had the idea that this world and time were being created almost retroactively in accordance with the surge of Chaos, but the knowledge of how slipped away from him as he was drawn into the womb of a woman in the early stages of her pregnancy. The god's last physical incarnation was converted into biological information and sorted into the genetic material of the womb, creating a design that the baby would grow into. As the divine finally settled into the mortal, a new life was cemented in place and a reality was given a character who would change the world simply by living in it.

On a bright winter day in 1899, on an earth so very like our own, a young expectant mother named Anna walked through the park with her husband, almost certain that she could feel he growing baby moving. Joy on her face she grabbed her husband's hand so he could feel their child's movement.

"He's already moving about, I wonder if this means I should look forward to an active pregnancy," she asked her husband with a mona lisa smile.

"He? So sure of a son my dear?"

"Is that disappointment I'm sensing?" Anna asked with faint surprise.

"Of course not! I'm just wondering if that means you've accepted my proposal to what the child's name should be then?"

Anna laughed delightedly. Her husband was not always a subtle man, but she loved him so, sometimes because of it. "Yes dear I have. I think Henry Jones Jr. is a wonderful name for our son."

Back in Sunnydale, in it's own relative time flow, Lilith paused as she licked her fingers clean of the young girl's blood. The boy had been nice, she had tasted the violence in him, and it had made the young girls blood that much sweeter. Like lovely songs around the may pole-

Lilith clamped down harshly, turning inward and destroyed the sing-song thought. Her takeover of this body was going well, as long as she destroyed errant Dru-isms like that last bit when they popped up.

Taking the car keys from the boy's clothes, Lilith tossed the bodies back into the woods for something to snack on. She hadn't sensed any ghouls yet, but that didn't mean that there weren't any around.

Spike hadn't let Dru drive to often, but Lilith had the basics in her mind and figured out the clutch within two minutes.

Portishead burst from the speakers of the purloined car and startled Lilith but soon brought a smile to the vampire's face as she decided that the humans had at least progressed with their music. Driving through town and enjoying the deep rhythms of the music, Lilith decided that as nice as this burg would be to dominate at some point, she needed to feed out of town for a bit, preferably on babies as she used to, and regain her power.

From the few usable memories of Drusilla's, Lilith divined that a sizable city was only a few hours from here and would certainly get her out from the radar of any do-gooders in this town. She could feel a Slayer in town and Dru's memories confirmed it. Slayers, she thought with disgust, what a bunch of fucking hypocrites. Taking all the lovely violence and death out of a demon and putting it into a bubblegum package that barely lasted past the day you cracked the seal. Beyond that, this particular Slayer was friends with the one who had released her into the world...oh the games we would play with him...

Lilith felt some of Drusilla skirting the edges of her mind at the thought of the fresh young man who's transformation had changed this world and decided to let those particular urges stay. Dru had a unique knack for thinking of fun things to do to a body, generally switching between pliers and pussy. Lilith laughed again, the blunt shape of her thoughts feeling fantastic inside. She would never have dreamed that getting back into the world through one of the Order of Aurelius would have changed her language and goals so much, but who was she to complain?

She pointed the BMW towards Los Angeles, making sure to run over a homeless man near the roadside on the way out of town. These humans, walking around like they owned the place.

Xander walked back to the Harris house slowly, his brain racing in a thousand different directions.

His day had been thoroughly long and bizarre to say the very least. He'd woken up with the strength of a demigod and had been outed as an alien to one of his best friends who was currently having possible snuggle time with another possible best friend.

Huh, a vampire as a best friend.

That still threw him, and why not? Barely 12 weeks had passed since everything had changed, but of course, in Sunnydale, things could change in one night. Xander had rationalized the fact that he wasn't friends with the Vampire, but instead, was friends with the man who had been bound to the vampire- punished for the crimes committed by the face.

Currently that man had been troubled by something in the past few days, outside of possibly dead friends and near apocalypses. Xander hadn't gotten a chance to get to the bottom of it all, but he'd noticed a tenseness to Liam when Buffy was near.

Xander was also troubled by Janus' message via shiny energy circle. Thinking of the god caused Xander to pull a permanent marker and absently draw a circle on the top of the garbage can he walked past and he silently sent a small prayer out into the ether. Mxyia was a concern in that the few times they'd spoken, Xander had been attracted to the imp, his usual instincts in crushing on women who weren't even fully human obviously coming out to play. While Xander held no burning desire to pursue the imp, he certainly hoped that her abrupt removal from his life bode ill.

Looking up at the stars over Sunnydale, Xander felt his eyes drawn to a pot in the sky that only Clark would have known why he stared there longingly.

He wondered if Krypton was there, hurtling through space, intact under the light of a stable red star.

Xander hadn't looked up anything in astronomy books because he was just too afraid to know otherwise.

Janus and Mxyia hadn't said anything one way or another and they didn't need to.

You generally don't need someone to tell you that you're totally alone.

Feeling a dark cloud starting to move in on his otherwise neutral thoughts, Xander was almost glad when he heard the sounds of trouble coming from the distance. The Hellmouth was always good for a distraction or two from the real world.

Billy had been a vampire ever since Pea Ridge- March 7th, 1862. He still wore the gray, much to the ire of the few companions he'd had over the years. Course he'd had to kill most of them sumbitches so it wasn't too much of a bother.

He'd hooked up with Zlar about five years ago, the strange gargoyle like creature having fallen literally into his lap when he was passing through Boston. Normal vampires and demons didn't really play to nicely together but Billy always was an odd duck and Zlar? Well Zlar was currently trying to get the fire hydrant to "Stop looking at Zlar funny".

Billy had given up trying to convince his strange companion that this dimensions inanimate objects had attitude problems; one generally did since Zlar was approximately 8 feet tall (damn thing never did stand up straight though, so who knows) with a complexion like a brick wall and enough strength to punch a hole through an Abrams tank.

The relationship had been pretty fun most times. Billy fed on blood, Zlar on the bones, and a good time was had by all except the meal.

For whatever reason though, the thrill had been gone as of late. Billy had cut a nice little niche out in this world and usually had a lot of fun doing so. Money hadn't been a problem as of late since Billy had taken to having Zlar rip ATM's out of walls so they could get money to pay for the afterlife's little pleasures, blood and booze and what have you(precious stones were Zlar's favorite candy and Billy figured the big guy earned all the snacks they could afford), but all in all, Bill felt that the spice had gone out of his unlife.

Until a week ago.

Billy and Zlar had been holed up for the day when a weird little guy dressed like a pimp had walked right out of the shadows of the sewer and told them that Sunnydale was just full of fun if they were looking for a kick.

Billy hadn't actually visited a Hellmouth before and decided that they needed to get out of the old TX, just for variety.

Zlar was currently poking holes in the wall of Sunnydale's First National Bank with one prodigious digit while Billy was slapping a security guard around.

"C'mon now boy, don't make this worse on yourself."

"Wh-What do you want," the guard cried out as he felt his bowels release, thinking about his sister's offer of a job in Manitoba looking better and better than this hole of a town.

Billy stopped abruptly. 'Well hell! I done forgot and never asked! Let's just get to feeding..." Billy drawled as his face shifted and the security guard started to scream in earnest.

Xander eased his view over the roof of the bank, looking down on the situation below. As per usual, even with the massive brick-demon thing out in plain view, the damn street was as empty as always. He really needed to ask Giles why this town just ignored everything.

There was a vamp, tall and broad, wearing a civil war era coat over blue jeans and a Skynard shirt that went perfectly with the massive handle bar mustache the leech was rocking.

The demon was as wide as a damn Hum-Vee and looked about as smart.

But if there was one thing that Xander had learned in the past few weeks, it was the relative value of covers on books.

Seeing that the scene was kicking into overdrive with the vamp going in for the kill Xander did the only thing that immediately came to mind and jumped off of the third story roof deciding that being fray adjacent wasn't the way to experience any of life's mysteries. He dimly hoped that his new level of being wasn't going to let him down.

Zlar bored.

Bill-E taking too long to get food now.

What that thing coming from sky?

Xander did a forward roll into his decent, focusing everything he had into the work boots he'd gotten from Janus. Three stories wasn't a huge distance to build up momentum but the big demon still buckled nicely as Xander's feet impacted right on the rock things upturned face.

"Yo johnny reb! How about letting the rent-a-cop go?"

Billy just turned and stared, his predators mind damn near blown at the sight before him. Zlar had fallen on what constituted his ass and some blood bag that wasn't even half human from the smell of it was standing on the demon's torso.

"Well damn son, I aint never seen anyone get a drop on Zlar before...and believe me when I say that he's waded through a pack of Fyarl's without breaking a sweat." Billy reverted to hick speech in order to size up the boy in front of him and he could see that Zlar's eyes were starting to glow bright orange which always meant a good show was coming.

Fyarl? Xander made a research note and got back to the obvious situation. "Well the Hellmouth is full of surprises, but you'll never see any past our illustrious main street here," he said with a smirk and a wave of a stake.

"Is this the clever banter bit, boy? Cause I gotta be honest you may want to work on that."

"You know I've been working on it? I just haven-" Xander glib reply was cut off as a roar shook the air around them and he realized he was still standing astride the not so unconscious "Zlar".

A massive hand grabbed Xander's leg with a vicious grip before swing Xander through the air and back down into the pavement like an enraged toddler with a naughty stuffed toy.

"Oooeee! Now that looked painful," Billy commented, his demon yellow eyes glinting with pleasure

Xander couldn't even respond before Zlar started swing the teen over head into the pavement again and again, enraged because the flesh man wasn't turning into a fine paste.

After a few dozen hits, Billy stepped in to appraise the scene stepping over the bit's of broken black top Xander's impacts had thrown about.

"Alright big guy, let me get a piece of that!"

Zlar shifted his grip and held a limp Xander up by an arm, the teen stunned and concerned that the blacktop in his ears was going to be difficult to remove.

"Well, look at that. Now that you've been tenderized I'm guessing you are going to be tasty son, even if you aren't human. What do you think?"

"The CSA sucked," Xander mumbled defiantly.

"Why you!" Billy shot forward and landed a right cross to Xander's jaw that promptly pulverized every bone in the vampire's hand.

"OW! GOD DAMN SON OF A-"

Xander struck quickly, chopping with his free left arm squarely at Billy's neck and then shocked all three of the combatants by passing right through said neck.

"-bitch," Billy finished as he turned to dust instantly.

A beat passed as Zlar was so shocked at Billy's demise that he almost dropped Xander and Xander, blown away at the amount of power he possessed, nearly didn't get it together quick enough to move on to the next part of the fight.

The Clark side of him urged Xander not to let the moment pass and Xander quickly used all of his newfound power to catch the massive demon unawares with an over the shoulder throw.

The beast crashed into the already broken pavement and Xander seized the continued surprise by stomping the monster's head a few times, knowing that he had at least enough strength to stun it.

Zlar growled and swatted angrily at the annoying boy, his rock head starting to buzz with the blows the boy kept delivering.

Scrambling to it's feet, the beast roared and slammed both fists into a hammer strike towards Xander who knew what to expect in terms of strength from the demon now and crossed his own arms into a suitable block.

Xander recovered and spun into a kick to Zlar's chest that sent the creature skidding backwards down the street.

No fatigue, and I've recovered from the hits he dealt earlier...but what do I do with this guy?

"LITTLE BOY KILL BILL-E" Zlar roared, his eyes literally radiating the depth of his fury.

Xander considered his options as Zlar grabbed the security guy's car and swung at him, narrowly missing the bank building but taking out a mail box.

He looked around to see that the security guard had gotten away, but unfortunately Xander and Zlar had been fighting long enough for the Sunnydale PD to start towards the scene. He figured they had two minutes before there were far too many people around for Xander's tastes.

Flipping backwards from another swing of the car, Xander squashed the joy at pulling off a move so effortlessly to deal with the here and now.

Bracing himself, Xander managed to catch the car when Zlar swung again.

"WHOA! ZLAR!"

Zlar's eye's widened at the little man talking.

"We are about to have lots of witnesses here! I can only assume that Stars N Bars tried to teach you subtlety?"

The half of Xander that had grown up in Sunnydale was internally shrieking that there was no reasoning with a monster, kill it. The other half, the half that Xander listened to more often now was hoping that this would work, that diplomacy and logic could occasionally work.

Zlar, despite not being highly intelligent, remembered Billy's warnings about getting too many people involved in anything. Especially the ones that drove the shrieking cars with the lights on top.

"Trouble coming for Zlar?" The gargoyle rumbled, his fury dissipating as his brain switched tracks to being used for speaking.

'Trouble for both of us fella. I'm not to keen on us getting caught, but if we keep this up we will."

One minute the internal countdown said, making Xander focus on the moment.

Zlar let go of the car and then rust colored sand began to come from the monster's eyes.

Oh nuts, Xander thought with dismay, He's not really crying is he?

"Zlar hate blue sky world," the demon roared piteously, "Blue shirt man kill Zlar's friend! Zlar tired of cold world and ugly fleshy faces everywhere!"

Zlar turned and jumped into the night sky and Xander saw that improbable stone wings erupted from the creature's back, somehow allowing Zlar to fly against all the laws of mortal man's science.

Xander watched as his first real combatant since beginning his strange transformation flew into the night without a word.

Dumbfounded at the strange turn of events Xander just shook his head.

"Huh."

Xander was very happy that his clothes had somehow come through the fight mostly intact. Looks like Jesse was right about the whole clothes force field thing for Superman...or else Janus sent me clothes that are as strong as me...

Nimbly leaping to the roof, Xander was glad that the window in his room was unlatched as always, gods forbid Tony or Jessica actually think of security in a town like Sunnydale.

Slipping silently into his room, Xander reflected on how little he cared about this house or anything in it anymore, save for some pictures of Jesse and Willow stashed in his closet. His old clothes weren't him and didn't really fit these days, the books he actually liked were kept at school or at Willow's, almost everything at the Harris household was a joke; something that Xander was so far distanced from that he realized he just needed to leave already.

Never was any of this more clear until Xander flipped on the light and realized that he wasn't alone.

"Where the hell you been for that last two days you piece of crap," Tony Harris growled out, a bottle of whiskey in one hand, a belt hanging from the other.