Chapter 1 – Strange Awakenings
Commander Data of the USS Enterprise-E blinked. The last thing he had seen was the tremendous roar of competing energies from firing his hand phaser directly into the Thalaron Generator of the Super Warbird Scimitar, which had been about to fire its lethal radiation pulse directly into the Enterprise. He had expected to be destroyed instantly; whimsically he expected to find himself in some form of afterlife…although he doubted that would be the case…he was an android, an artificial intelligence with a basic understanding of emotions. He knew that if he was ever damaged beyond repair it would mean falling into oblivion of non-existence. It was something that frightened him.
Yet he had fired that phaser into the Generator knowing that he was doing so to protect his friends, knowing full well that he was courting that oblivion. Yet the oblivion did not come.
He now stood in what was analyzed as a late twentieth century town on Earth; judging from the halogen streetlights above him, the tarred painted roads with Internal Combustion cars parked along them, suburban housing using rather primitive brick, concrete and wood construction.
There was a problem however. This was clearly not your average suburbia from this time period. The scene around Data was absolute bedlam. There was small children sized 'creatures' that Data recognized as being 'pint' sized versions of ancient Terran myths of evils, demons, and so forth. They were snarling and screaming and charging at each other and at others.
One of them found him as a target though and tried to attack. The little demon flew through the air over twenty feet after Data intercepted its attack and redirected it.
"If this is the afterlife, it's rather quaint," commented Data to himself, drawing his Type 2 phaser and flipping open his Tricorder. The readings were confusing. He appeared to be in a small town and temporal readings clearly stated that this was the year 1998. His scans focused on the small demons and what he found shocked him. There was an unknown quantum flux inhabiting the physical bodies of normal children that was clearly altering them somehow. In fact, he detected a similar but different overlaying quantum flux all over the town. He set his phaser to heavy stun and started walking down the street, firing at any creature that threatened himself or others.
"Xander! What are you doing!?" shouted a wide eyed young woman rushing towards him. She had red hair and wore a rather brief skin-hugging outfit of short skirt and top that left her abdomen rather alluringly bare.
"That is not my name," said Data, tilting his head to the side, looking at her curiously. The woman elicited a strange longing emotion in him for some reason. He turned and fired another phaser beam into a nasty looking small devil demon, which collapsed instantly. "I am Commander Data."
"Oh my…" she looked in astonishment at Data. "You don't know me?"
"No, I don't, I suggest you find safety, however," said Data, phasering another demon and then reached out to guide the young woman to safety. He was surprised to see his hand going right through her arm. "You are non-corporeal. And yet my tricorder indicates you are alive…however the quantum flux is completely taking over your form."
"Fascinating," said the young woman, "I was dressed as a ghost for Halloween…and now I am a ghost. And you Xander dressed as Data from the TV show Star Trek…and now you are Data."
"TV show?" asked Data in askance.
"Yeah…oh this is complicated," she moaned, "there is a TV show about the voyages of the Enterprise and everything and my friend dressed as you." Data frowned at the concept…it was clearly illogical, yet, all his scans though limited and events around them clearly supported her story. Another yellowish demon approached growling, looking interested in them in a clearly predatory fashion. Data turned his phaser on it and fired.
"That is set on stun, right?" asked the young woman.
"Of course," nodded Data, gesturing to his Tricorder. "I detected the anomalous readings in the 'children'."
"Wow, I guess technology in the 24th century has its benefits, by the way, my name is Willow," she said.
"Pleased to meet you, Willow," nodded Data.
"We have to find Buffy…she'll know what to do…oh my…Buffy…" said Willow, looking over Data's shoulder. Data turned to regard a petite beautiful young woman with dark hair, wearing what looked like a circa eighteenth century red corseted dress. The woman was looking around slowly and had a lost expression on her face. Willow headed in the direction of this Buffy and Data was quick to follow.
"Buffy! Are you ok?" asked Willow worriedly.
Buffy did not get a chance to answer because at that moment three monsters approached, two of which were rather large and had goat horns sticking out of their heads with mottled brown or red skin. They growled threateningly.
"Buffy, what do we do?" asked Willow panicking. Buffy didn't answer and slumped to the ground in a clear faint at the sight of the monsters. Seeing that this Buffy was not going to help any time soon, Data turned around and fired three shots from his phaser at blurring speeds. Two of the monsters slumped to the floor, while the third was clearly hardier than the others and only seemed to be knocked backwards, but it was enough to convince it that there was easier prey out there.
Data knelt next to Buffy and hovered his Tricorder over her prone form.
"Is she ok?" asked Willow worriedly.
"A medical Tricorder would work better, but these readings show that she had a severe elevation in adrenaline and emotion…and couldn't cope with the stress," reported Data.
"She fainted?" asked Willow aghast. "That's impossible, Buffy's like this supergirl, the Slayer, very strong constitution…unless…"
"She's been effected by her costume," concluded Data. "Which is that of a eighteenth century noblewoman by the quality of the dress, and if my historical and literary databases are undamaged, they would not be trained or be able to cope with a life threatening situation."
"Buffy," said Willow, shaking the shoulders of the fainted girl, in an effort to rouse her. "Are you all right?"
"What?" moaned Buffy, sitting up wearily.
"Buffy," said Willow again, flicking her fingers in front of the girl.
"Buffy?" said Buffy in confusion. "What uncouth form of address are you calling me by?"
"I guess you're right," said Willow ruefully to Data, then turned to address Buffy again, "What year is it?"
Data took this opportunity to help the 'noblewoman' up to her feet, as she answered, "1775, I believe." She said looking at Data and Willow in confusion and she was hyperventilating. "I-I don't understand. Who are you?"
"We're friends," said Willow simply, not wanting to go into the explanation.
"F-friends of whom? Y-your dress…everything is strange! How did I come to be here?"
"Breathe okay, breathe," said Willow imploringly, "you're going to faint again." She turned to Data. "How are we going to get through this without the Slayer?"
"What is this Slayer you keep referring to?" asked Data curiously.
Before Willow could answer another monster burst out from behind a nearby tree and attacked. If Data did not have reflex protocols that worked at the speed that information was internally transferred in a computer, the monster might have had a chance. But a simple zap of the phaser later it was down and out for the count.
"I suggest we get inside before we come across anything more…" began Data but was interrupted when Buffy began screaming incoherently and pointing at something behind Data and Willow's backs.
"A DEMON! A DEMON!" she scooted behind Data to shield herself. Data turned but did not fire, as the only thing approaching was what appeared to be a sports utility vehicle with its headlights on.
"That's not a demon. It's a car," said Willow with a forlorn sigh.
"What does it want?" moaned Buffy.
"It wants nothing," said Data, "it is merely a form of transport, ma'am, one that you are not familiar with. Where can we retreat to?"
"We can go to Buffy's house, it's closest," said Willow.
"Lead the way," said Data, threading Buffy's arm through his own, but making sure his Tricorder and Phaser was handy. "I can scan ahead, so we can avoid encountering more of the 'monsters'."
"Cool," said Willow and turned left and down the street. It took better part of fifteen minutes to get to Buffy's house while Data called out warnings of mini-demons or monsters on the roads ahead. There were occasions where they had to fight their way through a grouping of them, but Data's lightning fast Phaser cleared the way easily enough.
Buffy's home was a typical two floor suburbia, with a decently up kept lawn and flowers and a nice backyard, even a white picket fence separating the neighbors from each other. They entered the house from the backyard kitchen door after Data had scanned the house for any intruders. The kitchen itself was nicely appointed, with all the essentials and also the personal touch of those who lived there.
Data had the opportunity to examine himself for the first time, as in the hallway just outside of the kitchen there was a floor length mirror. He was wearing the pre-Dominion War Starfleet Uniform of bold yellow (denoting engineering or operations officers) with black strips and still only had his Lt. Commander pips on his collar. His face was differently structured though, and amazingly his skin and eyes had a 'real' look to it, not the pale artificial nanopolymer and he could 'feel' the sensation – it was as if the Borg Queen had finished her work when she had subdued him during the second Borg Incursion into Federation space. The only thing reminiscent of himself was the slicked back black hair.
"Where are we?" asked Buffy, frowning at the interior surroundings of the home.
"Your place," answered Willow. "Now we just need to…"
There was a sudden banging on the front door. Data and his two impromptu companions head to the front door to look.
"Don't open it!" said Willow urgently. Data flipped open his Tricorder.
"It's a mini-monster," said Data, still marveling over the fact that monsters were somehow real where he was now. "And its…gone…it has moved on to the next house."
"This…this could be me," said Buffy, she was holding a framed picture of herself in which she was wearing a spaghetti strap top and smiling charmingly for the camera.
"It is you, Buffy," said Willow. "Can't you remember at all?"
"No! I don't understand any of this! Uh, uh, th…this is some other girl!" said Buffy desperately and put the picture frame back. "I would never wear this, that low apparel, and I don't like this place, and I don't like you and I just want to go home!"
"You are home!" insists Willow. Buffy was practically in tears now and Willow turned in exasperation to Data. "She couldn't have dressed up like Xena?"
"A mythological female warrior, also a Princess, who fought against the 'evil' members of the Greek Pantheon of Gods," said Data, blinking and tilted his head to the side, "indeed, such an individual would be most useful in our situation."
Data's Tricorder beeped him a warning almost too late. He turned his Phaser on the small windows in the front door and fired just as the menacing hand of a monster punched through. Buffy cringed and whimpered at the sound of the weapon firing. The monster yelped and ran away.
But before any further conversation could be had on how to get out of this predicament, a very loud female scream reached their ears. Data didn't hesitate and opened the front door and rushed out. What he saw made him thankful he had switched off emotional abilities on the walk over to the house, for he was sure to have been gaping in astonishment.
A very attractive nubile young woman dressed in a skintight leopard print catsuit was running towards the house. She was pursued by another creature straight out of Terran mythos…the Sasquatch. Data rushed forward and sent a phaser beam directly into the fabled creature, which stumbled back as if kicked but was not rendered unconscious. The catwoman rushed into his arms at that moment.
"Xander! Help me!" Data decided to comply, and in the interest of speed, summarily picked her up and rushed back towards the house, sending another phaser blast into the Sasquatch. Data closed the door behind himself and put down the squirming catwoman.
"Cordelia!" said Willow, eyeing the catwoman.
"Wait a…" Cordelia looked from Data to Buffy to Willow, "what's going on?"
"Okay," said Willow steeling herself. "Your name is Cordelia, you're not a cat, you're in high school and we're your friends. Well. Sort of." She clearly thought that this Cordelia was also affected by the phenomena, but Data's Tricorder scan indicated otherwise, she was a normal young woman.
"That's nice, Willow," said Cordelia scornfully, "and you went mental, when?"
"I don't believe she has been affected," said Data with a simulated frown.
"You know us?" asked Willow.
"Yeah, lucky me," drolled Cordelia, "what's with the name game?"
"A lot's going on," said Willow, looking dubious in trying to explain it.
"No kidding, I was attacked by Jo-Jo, the dog faced boy. Look at my costume!" She showed an obviously torn sleeve. "Do you really think that Partytown is going to give me my deposit back? Not likely!"
"Okay," said Willow, largely ignoring Cordelia's rant. "I'm non-corporeal so nothing can hurt me. You guys stay here and I'll get some help. If something tries to get in, just fight it off."
"Well, i..it's not our place to fight," said Buffy indignantly. "Uh…surely some men will protect us."
"What's that riff?" asked Cordelia, looking at Buffy as if she had smelled something nasty.
"It's like amnesia, okay? They don't know who they are. Just sit tight," said Willow and promptly walked straight through the wall, causing Buffy to stare in amazement.
"Who died and made her boss?" asked Cordelia.
"She is the only one's with overall tactical knowledge of our situation," said Data. "Myself and Miss Buffy here are not of this time nor place. In fact I believe I have been plucked out of my own Universe and placed within Xander."
"Whoah," said Cordelia, "so you really are Star Trek boy now…hmm…let me guess…Data?"
"At your service," confirmed Data, keeping a sensor watch over the house with his Tricorder. "I suggest we fortify our position more by barring windows with furniture. Could you please go upstairs and see to it?"
"Sure," she said and headed upstairs while Data started to upend a table against the large window in the living room.
"Surely there's somewhere we can go," protested Buffy, "a safe haven."
"It would be tactically unwise to retreat into an already unknown and chaotic situation without more information. I am keeping a watch on the house; if anything approaches I will know. Willow said we would be safe here for the moment."
"You would take orders from a woman?" said Buffy scornfully. "Are you feeble in some way?"
"On the contrary," said Data, noting that he would've been offended had he had his emotions enabled. "You are far safer with me than with anyone else in this town or the planet, for that matter. You saw what I did to the demons who attacked us on the way here."
"Are you some kind of sorcerer that you can fling lightning from your hands?" she asked beginning to look weary.
"You have no frame of reference to understand what I am," said Data. "But for the purposes of this argument, from a certain point of view I can be referred to as a mechanical wizard."
A beeping from his Tricorder interrupted any further conversation. Data rushed towards the kitchen with Phaser raised and tracking a figure, which had just entered the house. It was a tall classically handsome man with black, gelled hair and wearing all black. He looked at Data and later Buffy who ran in a bit later with recognition and seemed very alert (reasonable given the situation outside) but Data did not know him and was not taking any chances.
"Oh good!" said the stranger, "You're all right. It's total chaos out there."
"Please identify yourself," said Data, glancing at his Tricorder while keeping his Phaser trained on the stranger.
"What are you talking about Xander?" he looked at Data with bemusement.
"Identify yourself," repeated Data more strongly, "because my readings indicate you are clinically dead, while your brain retains its function and there is that strange quantum flux that inhabiting all of the 'monsters' in this town."
"Uh…it's me…Angel," said the 'man'. "You know…the vampire with a soul…"
"I was not aware that the Terran vampire required a soul or not to do its work," said Data with no emotional inflection, which to Angel made the young man appear quite menacing. "However, the fact that you have showed no aggression does count in your favor."
"Okay," said Angel looking genuinely confused, "will someone tell me what's going on?"
"They don't know who they are," said Cordelia, coming back into the kitchen, "Everyone in the town's turned into their costumes, which is mostly monsters and the like." She smiled flirtatiously at Angel. "How are you?"
At that point, as if things could not get worse, the lights went out. Data instantly switched his vision to work in the infrared spectrum and so was unaffected. Buffy grabbed Cordelia in fright.
"Do you mind?" asked Cordelia unpleasantly. Buffy seeing that no aid was coming from this quarter withdrew.
"If indeed, you are an ally," Data looked at Cordelia questioningly, who nodded, "then you should take responsibility for Buffy and keep an eye on her. I will watch over Cordelia. In the meantime, I can scan for any hostile creatures that approach the house."
And as if fate had listened the Tricorder gave a beep in warning, and a second later before anyone could do anything, the kitchen door behind Angel burst from its hinges and a snarling stereotypically dressed vampire tackled the vampire with a soul. There was a massive fight as the two managed to regain a vertical base and started to trade punches and kicks. Data couldn't get a clean shot. He didn't want to stun a potential ally when it was possible he would be needed later.
"Get some distance from him!" shouted Data, shifting his aim to keep up. Angel either didn't want to or didn't understand why, as he kept engaging the attacking vampire. Finally, Data had enough; he dialed down his Phaser to its lowest setting, and shot a lance of energy into Angel, who stumbled back away from the other vampire. With a flick of switch and another energy lance hit the attacking vampire at a heavy stun setting just below kill, which sent it into the land of nod.
"I didn't think that thing actually worked," said Angel ruefully, rubbing his chest where the Phaser blast had hit.
"Well now you know better," said Cordelia. Angel froze as he looked around.
Data looked at where the 'noblewoman' was supposed to be and only saw empty space and an open front door.
"Damn, she was right behind me," moaned Cordelia.
"Let's go," said Angel, and pushed Data and Cordelia towards the door. "I need that weapon of yours, since it seems to be so effective against vampires."
"Very well, I can scan for her as well," said Data showing the Tricorder and started to move forward on his own, the unlikely trio rushed out into the night.
Data followed his Tricorder reading on Buffy's lifesign that was stored in the memory of the device. She had a good head start on her erstwhile rescuers. Angel seemed rather dubious as to the accuracy of the device, but they had nothing else to go on as they moved through the chaotic streets of the town.
"Are you sure she came this way?" asked Cordelia.
"I am reading her lifesign about six hundred meters in a southerly direction moving quite fast," reported Data.
They turned the nearest corner in that direction and headed down an alleyway between two buildings to save time. They burst into the next street over and had to immediately repulse an attack from a group of four mini-monsters. Data's Phaser lanced out twice while he threw a relatively light kick at the third attacker, which sent it yelping in pain as it flew ten feet away with the force of the blow. Angel swiftly knocked out the last monster and the trio continued across the street.
They emerged into the next alleyway to see the struggling Buffy, her gown dirtied and crumpled as a stereotypical pirate had her pushed against the wall and was about to kiss her forcefully. Data wanted to conserve power for his Phaser and holstered it and his Tricorder and rushed forward extremely fast and with supreme android strength ripped the pirate off Buffy and held the snarling and cursing pirate two feet off the ground with his limbs flopping uselessly. Data reached up with his other hand and a Vulcan neck pinch later sent the pirate into unconsciousness. Data dropped the pirate in a heap and helped Buffy to her feet.
"Are you injured, ma'am?" asked Data. But Buffy yelped when she saw Angel approach.
"He's, he's a vampire!" yelped Buffy anxiously, pointing at Angel. Data realized she must have seen the fight earlier and fled when she saw her apparent saviors accepting the allegiance of a vampire.
"It's okay," said Cordelia intently, "Angel's a good vampire, he would never hurt you."
"Really?" said Buffy meekly.
"Absolutely, he's our friend," said Cordelia with a coaxing smile.
"Guys!" came a familiar voice. It was Willow, running down the alley in the direction they had come from.
"Willow!" said Angel.
"Guys, we gotta go!" she insisted and pointed some distance behind her. Approaching them was a gaggle of monsters and tall bleach blonde pale-faced man wearing a black leather trenchcoat and looking at them with a murderous glee and satisfaction. Data's Tricorder confirmed the man was vampire.
"We are outnumbered," declared Data.
"This way!" shouted Angel, pointing down the other side of the alley, "Find an open warehouse!" Angel lifted Buffy in his arms and the group rushed down the alley, the blonde vampire in fast pursuit.
"There is a warehouse that will fit our needs over there," said Data pointing at the large building some hundred meters away. They rushed towards it and found that the main entrance was a large sliding door made out of corrugated thin steel that would never hold against the monsters. But they had no choice. Angel had taken the lead and stopped, placing Buffy on her own feet. Data easily shifted the large door and the others rushed in, and closed it after Angel had guided Buffy inside.
"Just stay here," said Angel intently to Buffy, who was standing next to a scared looking Cordelia, watching as the others worked to secure the door. Data picked up heavy barrels to place in front of the door, following it up with a heavy grate. They could now hear the monsters outside the door starting to pound on it. Data saw the steel bend worryingly and knew there was no way it would hold and to try to do more was an exercise in futility.
He backed up from the door and drew his Phaser and his right arm raised ready to deliver pain or unconsciousness at a nanoseconds notice.
"Retreat!" shouted Data. Everyone saw the virtue of the plan immediately and ran deeper into the warehouse as the door groaned and gave way, allowing two monsters inside to push away the barrels and the blonde vampire entered the warehouse contemptuously, with more monsters following in his wake.
When they had finally run out of room and had their backs to the wall and could retreat no further. Data and Angel stepped forward, with Buffy and Cordelia cowering behind, while Willow watched helplessly and cursed her non-corporealism.
The monsters stopped a few feet away from the two defenders after a whistle from the blonde vampire stopped them.
"Hold on there little fellas," said the blonde vampire in a cockney accent. The little monsters snarled and hissed menacingly but obeyed. "Now isn't this a sight," said the vampire in appreciation, "a Trekkie geek and a royal poof protecting a sniveling, lonely lost little lamb…I love it. Get them!"
Data snapped off three shots with his Phaser before he had to go into a melee combat with the monsters. He gave a backfist to his right, sending a monster flying, while with perfect balance kicked to his left, and loosing another Phaser shot in front of him. Angel charged into the fray and managed to knock out two before one managed to bowl his feet out from under him; leaving others to leap on top of him in a pile on.
But Data had the collective martial arts knowledge of all Federation member worlds at his disposal, added to this the reflexes of an android, plus a Phaser, made him a sight to behold. He ducked under a punch lashing out with fist and Phaser, coming up he rolled forward to give him some more room. He was a whirling dervish of kicks and punches and evasions and Phaser blasts until…
Data froze when he saw that the blonde vampire had used the battle as a distraction and was now behind him holding Buffy against the wall. Angel was being subdued by two monsters and was in no position to help.
"Drop the ray gun and don't move, Trek, or the Slayer gets dead," said the blonde vampire. Data analyzed the tactical situation in a nanosecond and came to a decision. He dropped his Phaser at his feet and kicked it away but remained in a ready position…the remaining monsters were giving a respectful distance to the android, and were clearly reluctant to move in.
The blonde vampire turned to Buffy and punched her across the face with savage delight.
"Will you scream for me?"
"Buffy!" said Angel, desperately struggling against the monsters holding him down.
The blonde vampire placed his left hand around a whimpering and terrified Buffy's throat. He strokes her forehead with his other hand almost lovingly. He then grabbed her black hair and slowly moved in for the bite; his face changing into a grotesque demon mockery of a human face with overlarge fangs and yellow flashing eyes.
Data was about to rush forward with his maximum speed available to him to stop this, when suddenly everything stopped. The vampire was frozen halfway in his journey towards Buffy's neck. The monsters seemed suddenly to have become statues; Angel, Cordelia and Willow were also frozen in tableaus of horror at what was about to happen.
Data straightened from his horse stance in astonishment and looked around. He whipped out his Tricorder but the readings were chaotic and baffling.
"Oh you can put that away Data, don't bother," came a very familiar, yet hated voice from behind Data.
The android whirled to regard a tall man with receding dark brown curly hair and a face that seemed to be born with a perpetual mischievous smirk on it. The man was wearing the modern black and grey Starfleet uniform with command red trimmings and undershirt and wore the rank of Captain. Data engaged his emotional subroutines and let disgust show on his features.
"Why hello there my dear Pinocchio," said Q nonchalantly. "Got yourself in a bit of a fix here, now don't you?"
Data's lips thinned in irritation at the nickname. Q was a member of the Q Continuum, a race of seemingly omnipotent and extremely powerful beings, whose motives and reasons for existing were a mystery, yet from anecdotal evidence they were there to keep the chaotic forces of the Universe in check, but there was undoubtedly more to it than that.
"So here I am," continued Q, "strolling along the Metaverse, when I see that old scallywag Janus plucked you out of your very noble death for a stint in this utterly, dull and boring Universe."
"Janus, the Roman mythical god of Chaos and Division of self?" said Data with a frown.
"That's the one," said Q with a grin. "He never could resist a bit of mischief, a man after my own heart," concluded Q dramatically clutching at his chest. "But enough about me, I am here about you, my dear Data."
"Can you not send me home?" asked Data, though he knew the answer already.
"No," said Q, "your time in your own Universe has passed. You are now here and will continue to remain here within the personality and mind of Alexander Lavelle Harris, you will become like a Trill symbiote to him, through this you will finally get to experience true human emotions…my gift to you. In addition," Q snapped his fingers. "I just altered the parameters of the spell that pathetic little chaos mage cast to Janus. When the spell lifts the body you are in will remain internally an android with a few enhancements of my own and will retain the proper outer appearance of Xander, though the Tricorder and Phaser will become the stage props that they once were. You're very resourceful, Data, I'm sure you can manage without them."
"Why are you doing this?" asked Data. "You would doom Xander to watch all his friends die while he remains effectively immortal."
"The Hellmouths are dangerous places," said Q. "You've been granted a second chance at true life, Data. It would be truly a waste for you to die to those pathetic overgrown mosquitoes if you were stuck in a human host. And I spoke to Xander before appearing to you, after explaining the situation at length…he agreed, though he insisted that he retain the biological capacity to mate."
"How magnanimous of you," said Data dryly.
"I have my moments," said Q arrogantly. "Anyway, I'll be stopping by a little later to explain things to these…Scoobies…as well. This little intervention of mine has got a few consequences, not to mention twisting the panties of those higher beings in this Universe. Have fun, my dear Professor of Humanity." And without further ado, Q vanished in a flash of white light.
Data looked around…Time was still frozen.
As if the being had waited for Data's indignant shout, Time resumed it's normal flow. The magic that had put Data in the driver's seat and subsumed everyone turning them into their costumes vanished. Data felt himself being pulled back within the consciousness of Xander Harris, there he and Xander's memories and experiences merged…they were still two separate entities within the same body…but were now symbiotic, just like the Trill.
Xander blinked as the process ended and he was back in control of his new android body. He felt Data with him clearly and was amazed…for a brief while he had considered the whole thing with Q and the explanation of what was happening and what was going to happen a dream…but it was now amazingly real. He marveled at the knowledge in his mind…it was amazing, astonishing, wonderful and also terrible. Data's memories of the countless battles and death of the Dominion War was too painful to consider so he put that into the back of his mind for later.
He looked up to see that all the monsters around him were now small children again, dressed in their Halloween outfits and crying and complaining about the sudden strange place they had woken up in.
"I'm scared! I want my mommy," said small girl that had not a few seconds ago been a very nasty gargoyle like monster.
Spike (the blonde vampire) looked around in astonishment at his now reduced posse and their pathetic wailing and turned back to finish the job with Buffy. Only to realize that he was now only holding a black wig of long hair and that Buffy was clearly back to normal and was giving Spike a 'shit-eating' grin and a promise of dusting.
"Hi honey, I'm home," she mocked. She punched Spike once in the gut, and twice in the face in rapid succession, making the vampire stagger back into a mobile set of stairs. Spike grabbed a length of pipe that was leaning their intent on using the weapon the even the odds against the now recovered Vampire Slayer. She managed to intercept his attack with the pipe and used his momentum to smash him against the wall he had been holding her against. Buffy ripped the pipe out of the winded Spike's grip and used it as a Quarterstaff and swung it into his jaw and jabbed him in the stomach, causing him to double over in pain.
"You know what? It's good to be me," said Buffy confidently. She smashed the pipe into Spike's chin causing the vampire to slump to the floor. Buffy backed away and threw the pipe to the ground. "Be glad that I don't have a stake Spike, or else you'd be dust…get out of here."
Spike growled and got his feet, bursting through nearby window and out into the night.
"Hey, Buff, welcome back," said Xander walking closer.
"Yeah! You too," smiled Buffy.
"You guys remember what happened?" asked Cordelia curiously.
"Vividly," said Xander with a wince at the memories and knowledge that were roaring to the surface of his consciousness. "It's was like I was there, but couldn't get out."
"Yeah, I know the feeling," said Cordelia, "this outfit's totally skintight." Which was something that Xander really appreciated in a way that every man appreciated a good-looking woman, of course and he knew that Data was intrigued by vague subconscious lust that Xander was feeling. Angel walked over towards Buffy at this point.
"You okay?" asked the vampire with a soul, and put an arm around Buffy's shoulders, leading her way.
"Yeah," said Buffy, giving that sexy half-smile of hers to Angel.
When the couple were nearly at the doors of the warehouse, Cordelia suddenly sprouted an indignant face. "Hello? It felt like I was talking, my lips were moving and…"
"Cordelia," said Xander, shaking his head. "Give it up. You're never going to get between those two."
"Well," said buxom young woman, pointing at the kids who were now huddled in a little group, "I guess you better get them back to their parents." Xander nodded and moved towards the children, and noticed that Willow was gone…
She's probably back in her body theorized Data.
Wherever she left it, mused Xander as he escorted the large group of small children away from the warehouse. The whole thing was probably a very real out of body experience for her. Like those you read about. On the way back to the High School Xander took the opportunity to examine the children to see if there was any injuries that carried over in the fights…thankfully there didn't…the children monsters who had been phasered into unconsciousness had woken up after the magic had left and there was not a scratch on them.
Xander later managed to escape the wrath of the parents of being so late by simply stating that some of the children had managed to wander off in the chaos of the night and that he had been searching for them. The little guys all agreed eagerly with Xander and supported his story and his case was even helped further when the children told stories of what their monster selves had done…which further helped his case when the parents thought that it was merely fanciful flights of a child's imagination.
Principal Snyder, the little fuhrer in charge of Sunnydale High, had been looking fit to burst and expel, but the parent's reactions had clearly put a nix in his knee jerk reaction when it came to Buffy Summers and all her friends.
Finally, he managed to escape and when he had walked barely fifteen feet from the High School campus…
"Psssttt…Xander!" came a strong whisper from a darkened alley between the High School and the housing complex next to it. "Over here!" Now Xander would normally never even consider for a moment going near the alley considering all the things that went bump in the night in good old Sunnyhell. But since he was 'off the menu' so to speak for vampires for the rest of his conceivable existence, he turned and stared into the darkness of the alley…with normal vision he could barely make out a darkened figure standing there, but as his vision shifted into infrared, it clearly showed that his attention grabber had body heat was human and female judging from the voice. He walked closer and shifted his vision back to normal though dialing up the ambient light.
"Dawn?" said Xander in astonishment as he came within a few feet of her.
Dawn Summers was Buffy's little sister. She was twelve years old, a little hellion on two legs, and dangerously cute with her cutey face and long brown hair. Ever since Xander had become Buffy's friend he had occasionally helped to babysit her when Buffy was Slaying and their mother Joyce was in Los Angeles promoting new art for the Gallery that she ran. And since she would be very curious about Buffy's absences it was decided to bring her in on the whole vampire and demons thing. The girl had believed it instantly not even needing proof. She simply accepted it.
The unfortunate side effect of the whole babysitting for Xander was that the girl had developed an irrepressible crush on him…since he was the powerful Xander who had saved Buffy's life numerous times, even brought her back from the dead with CPR when Buffy briefly died after being fed on and drowned by the Master.
She had told him without blushing or stammering that she had dibs on marrying him when she was old enough. Yes, a right little hellion and just as stubborn as Buffy, if not more so.
What was standing in front of Xander now was not a twelve year old. The young woman in front of him looked maybe eighteen…was wearing Dawn Summers' face and hair put up in an artful bun, had a bust and body that would make Cordelia green with envy and was wearing a familiar looking shiny silver skintight bodysuit. Over her left eye where an eyebrow was supposed to be was a chrome metallic ocular implant that jutted out and at her right ear a small arrangement of metallic spikes jutted out and had hooked itself on her skin. Xander looked down and…yes, the left hand had the polyduridium exoskeleton.
Xander closed his eyes with a heavy sigh and frowned.
There must have been residual nanoprobes left in her blood when the magic left, said Data.
Everyone else returned to normal, argued Xander, I'm special because of Q's intervention to save you. What's different about her? Why is she older?
Too little data to state any facts said Data apologetically. Unless Q intervened here as well for some reason.
This mental conversation had taken place in less time than it took to blink.
"You dressed as Seven of Nine," stated Xander.
"Yes," squeaked Dawn, stepping from foot to foot nervously clearly awaiting his reaction.
"You dressed as a former Borg drone, rescued from the Borg Collective by the USS Voyager, on a path to reclaiming what little humanity she had left," continued Xander.
"Yes…" she said wincing.
"How did your mom let you go out in that…suit?"
"I got my usual witch costume and bought this with my pocket money from Ethan's…"
Xander eyed her and raised an eyebrow. Dawn winced preparing for the worst…
"Good," said Xander.
"Good?" said Dawn with incredulity. "Good?! How can this possibly be good? It is cool, though."
"Good because now I feel immeasurably more content that you can look after yourself in this town…start at the beginning Dawn-patrol did anything weird happen before everything went back to normal with everyone?"
"Ummm…I can't say," she said guiltily. "You'd never believe me."
Playing Data's hunch he said, "Did you see Q?" Dawn looked astonished and her eyes widened comically.
"How'd you know?"
"He visited me as well," said Xander wryly. "I turned into Data because of my Starfleet uniform…this is what attracted Q's attention I think. Anyway, long story short, Data was about to die in the Trek Universe and this spell pulled him into me and turned me into him. Q in his own weird way; likes Data, and as such I am now a permanent host to Data…and to accommodate that I had to be turned into a 80/20 hybrid of android and human."
"Wow," said Dawn, but then her eyes turned sad. "Data dies?"
"From the point of view of the Trek Universe…yes," said Xander wincing, as the memory of firing that Phaser into the Thalaron Generator returned in full vivid force. "So what did Q do with you?"
"Well, he will or has or arggh, I hate it when talking about temporal mechanics, also take a liking to Seven of Nine or at least Q's son will," explained Dawn. "So when Q Junior saw me…Seven appear in this Universe, he alerted Daddy. Q Senior told me that in the future, my survival would be closely linked to your survival, vis-à-vis Data's survival. So a snap of the fingers later…here I am, Dawn Summers, human/Borg hybrid."
Dawn using the statement 'vis-à-vis' was a surreal cherry on top of this night.
"Did he explain why our fates are linked?" asked Xander.
"No," said Dawn in frustration, "he just muttered under his breath something like 'stupid monks, playing around with it' and then 'do a decent job if they're going to do it'."
"Well, Q did promise he'd be around very soon to explain things to the group," said Xander thoughtfully. "The nitty gritty of your new state of being is troubling me though…Seven of Nine has to regenerate in a Borg Alcove every two days at least…and we're in the wrong Universe to find one. If Q doesn't help I'm going to have to jury rig a compatible power source for you."
"Damn, I knew I forgot to ask Q something," snapped Dawn. "In the excitement I…"
"No need to explain Dawn, I understand," said Xander supportively. "I'm just wondering what to do about your mother now…she's expecting you home within the hour."
"Oh, I can just see it now," said Dawn with sigh, closing her eyes. "She'll absolutely freak."
"I have no doubt of that," said Xander and did a mental double take. "I'm starting to talk like Giles…"
'I think it's about high time you shed that 'goofball' persona of yours,' said Data 'I understand something of loyalty to friends and family, but it shouldn't be a detriment to obtaining your own personal achievements. Willow will be happy to see you do so well even if you surpass her in certain areas. Xander sighed and resolved to think about it later.
"I think it's time we give your mother…the Talk," said Xander seriously.
"You're not talking about the sex talk are you?" said Dawn sarcastically. Xander rolled his eyes at her.
"No, I'm talking about the speech that Giles so loves to give about Vampires and the true nature of the world. And then explain about you…"
"But Mom will be heavily into Mrs Denial-Mode, we'd have to have hard physical proof to show her," explained Dawn.
"I'll have to take her on a trip to one of the cemeteries then," said Xander grimly.
"But didn't Buffy say that Halloween was dead for the undead?"
"Yes, but it doesn't stop the newly sired vamps from rising," he replied. "OK, here's the plan…"
Xander walked through the kitchen door into the Summers home. Said door was still in pieces on the floor from the fake vampire that had smashed it. Mrs Summers herself was busy bustling around the kitchen stacking knocked over appliances back into their places and using a broom to clean up the glass chips from the shattered windows in the door. Mrs Summers was a kind yet formidable woman who still looked really good despite the fact that she was somewhere in her forties. Her face had frowning wrinkles of worry but still retained a glow of youth that meant she looked after herself well. She was dressed in what Buffy would call 'Mom clothes'; conservative, unflattering and clothes that you could afford to get dirty in.
"Ah, hello Xander," said Joyce Summers.
"Mrs S," he greeted.
"You haven't seen Dawn around have you? Buffy's gotten back already and is in bed…Dawn's usually the first one back…" she said getting clearly worried.
"Relax, Mrs S, Dawn's with me," reassured Xander. "But before she can come home…there are few things that need to be explained to you."
"Like what?" asked Mrs S dubiously.
"The expression is 'Seeing is believing' in this case, I'm afraid," said Xander with a wince, adjusting his Starfleet uniform.
And so it was that Xander accompanied Mrs S into one of the nearby cemeteries; they walked among the gloomy headstones and crypts with all the eerie sounds associated with such a place. He guided her to Row 25, Grave Plot Y, which had a freshly piled mound of dirt in front of a plastic cross, which had the name of the grave occupant written on it until a permanent headstone could be fashioned and put in place.
Xander knew where to go, because it had been relatively child's play for Dawn and him (from a 24th Century Computing perspective) to hack into the Morgue's Office computer from the computer lab in the High School…the lab would need new door locks though.
"Xander why are we here?" said Joyce pointedly, staring at the fresh grave.
"To open your eyes to the necessary truth," said Xander dead seriously. It had taken all of his and Data's collective persuasive abilities to convince the elder Summer's matriarch to follow him to the graveyard. "The grave in front of you is of one Bert Stackhouse. He was a thirty-year-old traveling salesman who specialized in selling all those fancy labor saving devices they're coming up with for the home. He was found dead in an alley two days ago. The local coroner ruled that a double-pronged sharp implement in the neck, which lacerated the artery there, had stabbed him and he died of exsanguination. The coroner also found foreign blood within Mr Stackhouse's mouth. The proper reports were filed and he was buried in short order yesterday."
"Ok…and?" said Joyce wearily, looking at Xander strangely.
"Well, I hope that Bert will oblige me and answer your question for you within the next few moments…"
Xander's sensitive audio sensors picked up the disturbances in the earth before the tell tale sign of shifting grave became visible.
'I guess there is something to that curse you believe is on the Hellmouth,' mused Data.
'Yeah, never taunt Murphy, make whimsical wishes or use phrases like…well you know what I mean, thought Xander in reply.
"Xander!?" said Joyce shrilly as a white fleshy hand burst out of the earth. In response Xander walked forward and just as the second hand burst out he grabbed both and pulled the newly risen vampire out of the earth like a ripened potato. Xander held Bert up by the collar of the expensive suit he was buried in and presented the vamped out struggling vampire to Mrs S. Xander was impressed at her fortitude at not having simply fainted. Her eyes were as wide as saucers and her breathing was very heavy though as she tried to come to terms with what she was seeing.
"Mrs S?" said Xander after a few long seconds in which Joyce was just staring at the flailing vampire in numb incomprehension. "Mrs S! Joyce!" The use of her given name with such volume seemed to snap herself out of her funk.
"Xander! What on earth…is…that?!" she said, pointing weakly at the vampire.
"I'll let you find out," said Xander, and gave a strong punch into the stomach of the vampire, causing it to moan in pain, "stop struggling so much, class is in session here!" He turned back to Joyce. "Now, Mrs S, do you have a hand mirror in your purse?"
"Yes, yes, of course," she said, still staring at the vamp.
"Please get it out…" She complied slowly holding out the small vanity in her shaking hands. "Good, now try to see my reflection and that of my struggling 'friend' here." Joyce turned around adjusting the vanity to the proper angle…she gasped and turned around to make sure her eyes were not deceiving her and turned back to check the reflection again.
"Mrs S, what does not reflect an image, what crawls out of a grave dead yet alive, what has sharpened incisors to the extent that this 'individual' has?" Joyce turned around slowly to face Xander and her mind was reaching a horrible, inescapable conclusion.
"Vampire…" she half whispered.
"And ten points to Mrs Summers," said Xander with a grin. "Yes, the things that go bump in the night exist…almost every folk tale of demons, fairies, and mythical creatures exist…except for the boogy man. All existing right beneath the noses of humanity's self-delusion of logical reason and control that we supposedly have over the world."
"But…but surely…" said Joyce stammering and took a deep fortifying breath and with a visible effort of supreme will and stubbornness that reminded Xander that this was a Summers woman he was dealing with, she composed herself and asked, "Surely the government has some idea of all this?"
"As to that, I have no idea," said Xander, giving another punch to the recovering vampire, "I myself learned of the supernatural two years ago when Jesse died…" he felt that pang of guilt strike through his heart anew, "he was killed and turned into a vampire…I was forced to stake him."
"Oh," said Joyce sadly, she had wondered about the circumstances of that for a while. "I'm sorry."
"That's Ok," said Xander shaking his head to dispel the melancholy mood. "The government in all likelihood does know in certain select circles maybe, but a universal disclosure of the supernatural…no way, can you imagine the chaos? It took me staking a vampire wearing my best friend's face to finally accept the truth into my mind and heart…" Xander trailed off.
"You said staking?" said Joyce seeing that he was uncomfortable discussing it further. Xander put the vamp on his feet and gave a devastating elbow strike to the back of the head with considerable force…the back of the skull broke into pieces and pierced into the brain…causing the vampire to slump bonelessly to the ground.
"That should keep him busy healing himself for about an hour," explained Xander. "A vampire can be killed through a wooden stake plunged into the heart, or decapitation. Holy water, if enough of its used will do the job as well, its like concentrated Hydrochloric acid to skin. A Cross or any symbol of faith can be used to ward off a vampire as well, if it comes in contact with it, it will also burn."
"Garlic?" asked Joyce almost hopefully.
"Not effective as you see in the movies," said Xander shaking his head, "might give them a violent sneeze or two though."
"A silver knife blessed by a priest would work, but then again any blessed bladed weapon would work," said Xander, "silver is only fatally useful against werewolves, though I haven't seen a werewolf yet, but I have read about them."
"Instantly fatal to a vampire exposed to 'direct' sunlight," said Xander. "A vampire can stick to the shadows or stay inside buildings during the day to survive however."
"Guns, rifles and modern ballistic weaponry as they are now are useless against vampires, shoot it in areas that are normally fatal to humans and it would just laugh at you," said Xander ruefully, but then brightened, "I have had a few ideas to correct the problem, as its not a problem of damage done but more the type of ammunition. The lead and metal in a bullet does injure a vampire but not appreciably or quickly enough to matter. I'll get back to you on that."
"So unless I'm good with a bladed weapon and martial arts I'm pretty much…easy prey," said Joyce uncomfortably.
"Yes, a vampire is generally four times as fast and strong as a human, but there are defenses normal people have against the supernatural that they are not even aware of, it's how a lot of people remain ignorant and disbelieving of it until forcefully shown proof, as I've done with you tonight."
"What defenses are these?"
"The first is that a vampire cannot enter the threshold of a home without a verbal invitation from the soul living in it to enter, something to do with the soul and magic…arggh, I don't know, I'll refer you to someone later who explain the details better. Anyway, if you pray or are very spiritual it would also make a vampire think twice before attacking…faith is very damaging to a vampire."
Joyce frowned for a moment as if committing everything to memory and then said, "Magic?"
"Oh yeah," confirmed Xander with a nod, "it exists, just not as overtly as you are thinking. Magic is actually some form of quantum flux that hasn't been explained yet…I'll get back to you on that as well. But any of the flashy stuff needs considerable training and preparation to perform and you need to have a preexisting talent in it to dabble in it on that level. Witches, wizards, mages and wicca all exist and are out there, some good and some bad."
Xander stared down at the vampire and kneeled next to it, "This is also one reason why the supernatural largely goes undetected by science and the general public." He reached down and grabbed the head of the vamp and with a sharp twisting motion broke its neck. Joyce involuntarily gasped at the casual brutality Xander had just showed, she then reminded herself of what it was and that it wasn't human and would kill more if it was allowed to leave. Xander braced his foot against the shoulder of the vamp and pulled…the head of the vampire came off with the tearing sound of flesh and sinew before the entire body suddenly turned black and started to combust in front of their eyes into shadowy ash with an unearthly scream and whooshing sound.
Xander stood and brushed off his hands. "The bodies combust as the demon inhabiting the dead body is forced to leave, as technically, a vampire is a forceful unnatural presence in our dimension, it's not a native here, as such nature reclaims equilibrium and the body is reduced to what it should be."
"Ash," nodded Joyce in understanding, but then looked at Xander sharply. "Why are you telling me this? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful. But what does all this have to do with Dawn?"
"Do you recall the unpleasantness of his evening?" asked Xander evenly.
"Of course, everyone…my goodness…how did I miss that?" asked Joyce in wonder and disbelief.
"Its as I said, until your mind is forcefully opened to the possibility of the supernatural you remain blind to the true world beneath the surface," said Xander stoically. "I don't have all the details yet, but tonight a mage of some sort cast a spell that turned everyone into their Halloween costumes…"
And with that Xander spent the next half an hour speaking of the night. Joyce said that she herself had dressed as an Arabian belly dancer and could now even recall memories and dances that she had never actually learned. Xander then told Joyce of his and Dawn's choice in costumes…and she made the correct deduction.
"You've got Data's and Seven's memories?" she gasped.
Xander confirmed and explained Q's visit from the Trek Universe and with trepidation said that the omnipotent being had altered himself and Dawn to support the memories and experiences and knowledge that either had, as no normal human could hold that amount of knowledge without going mad. Mrs S reaction to seeing her transformed younger daughter emerge from behind a nearby crypt where she had been waiting was one for the record books.
It finally overtaxed even the stubbornness of a Summers and she fainted.
"Just great," groused Dawn. "C'mon, let's get her back to the house." Xander picked up the prone Mrs S and the two 24th C. hybrids walked out of the cemetery and into the night.
A/N: Here's a YAHF of my own. I've never seen Xander dress as Data in any other fic, and Dawn is included due to the temporal presence of the future spell by the monks to give the Key of Dagon human form. Q altered the spell to bring the human Dawn fully into herself during the Chaos Spell performed by Ethan Rayne during Halloween three years earlier. Temporal Mechanics are a bitch ain't it? So what space opera or sci-fi world should I cross this over with?