Doctor X. Manhattan
Alexander Lavelle Harris moved in an introspective daze through the new costume shop that had opened just a few days before Halloween. His thoughts were mainly centered on two topics; one, his manly shame that Buffy(the Chosen One, the Slayer, the superhero) had to come to his rescue from getting pummeled at the hands of the biggest Jock in Sunnydale High, and two, that he had barely a few dollars to get a costume for Halloween.
Now, normally he wouldn't even bother with Halloween. It would usually be a time when he would just exile himself into the basement of his family home and watch the usual horror reruns on TV, but not before making sure to lock the door to keep his usually drunken parents out.
But the School principal; a weasel, unpleasant, and stupid little man, had roped him, Buffy and his longest friend of all time, Willow, into escorting a group of children for Trick or Treating around Sunnydale suburbs.
He turned his attention back to the here and now, and looked enviously at the Star Wars costumes on display, way out of budget for me. He passed the Marvel heroes section, again, same story, cool costumes, way too expensive. It was as he passed the DC Comics costume section that he saw a price tag that amazingly enough, matched his budget exactly.
He reached towards the plastic bag the tag was attached to and pulled it off the rack. Inside was a canister of what looked like luminescent blue body paint, sparkle blue spandex shorts, and a small temporary tattoo that looked like a planetary diagram. He fumbled with the costume bag a moment to see the label and his eyes bugged out...how cool.
It would've never occurred to him to go as that superhero, since to dress as him, didn't involve dressing much at all. It would require a bit of personal bravery, but what better way to show that he was not a coward.
He tightened his grip on the bag and spying Buffy and Willow at the other end of the store, looking and cooing at one of those frilly 18th Century dresses, he moved to the next aisle to shield his choice from them. He went to the counter, where the shopkeeper, Ethan, looking about the same age as Giles, was waiting expectantly.
"Oh my, what a daring choice, young man," Ethan's eyes glittered with intent? "but also a good one. I hope your physique is up to pulling it off."
"I'm good," Alexander replied. Contrary to what many assumed of him, Alexander or 'Xander' as he was known to his friends, was far from a 'goofball clown', sure he enjoyed it but it was a persona created in the crucible to shield those closest to him from the horrible truth of what his 'real' home life did to him. As soon as he had been old enough to get in shape and become stronger, he had done so with zeal...now his parents, his father Tony especially, knew better than to try and vent his frustrations out on his son. To protect that aspect, was one of the reasons he always dressed in baggies and overly large Hawaiian shirts. He also didn't do as well as he could against vampires...sure he could with a stake kill one, maybe two on a good night if he put his mind to it, but they were still way too fast and strong for him, a normal human being. So all he did was to just do enough to keep himself and his friends alive.
"Hmm," mused the shopkeeper, "perhaps since you seem so confident about it, I'll throw in a set of solid blue colored contacts for you at no extra charge."
"Wow, that's generous." Xander grinned excitedly.
"Customer is King, and all that." Ethan said as he placed the contacts in the bag and sealed it up. Xander handed over the money and with a skip in his step bounced over to Buffy and Willow.
"Hey Xander!" greeted Willow with a wave. "What'd you get?"
"It's a surprise," he said mysteriously.
"Hey, look, Xander..." Buffy began uncertainly, "I'm...really sorry about this morning."
"Do you mind Buffy? I'm trying to repress." Xander felt his irritation with his embarrassment soaring.
"Okay, then I promise, from now on I'll let you get pummeled."
"Thank you," he replied rolling his eyes. "Okay, y'know, actually I think I could've t..." Xander halted himself. Stop you idiot! Yeah, you could've taken Larry! But what would the consequences be? That was a no-brainer.
Buffy was distracted now by a costume of another dress. Still 18th Century, it was red, billowy, and frilly. Xander could feel his insides crawl just looking at it.
"Look at this," she said in amazement.
"It's amazing," chimed Willow.
"Too bulky," he disagreed, "I prefer my women in spandex."
Ethan had noticed Buffy's interest and had come over to help. "Please, let me." The shopkeeper took it off the mannequin.
"Oh, it's..." stammered the Slayer. Xander rolled his eyes. Honestly, this is Angel she's looking to impress, if this is her reaction to a costume choice. Xander doubted it would have much of an affect on the undead love of Buffy's life. Yeah, Angel was two hundred plus years old, but he was still a guy, and pretty much in touch with modern guy sensibilities.
"Magnificent, yes I know," Ethan said almost patronizingly? He held the dress in front of Buffy. Xander didn't know what to make of this guy. "There. Meet the hidden princess. I think we found a match. Don't you?"
"Oh, uh, I-I'm sorry. There's no way I could ever afford this."
"Oh, nonsense" scoffed Ethan. "I feel quite moved to make you a deal you can't refuse."
Xander sighed as she held the dress to herself with a dreamy expression on her face. Would she ever be mine?
Xander fidgeted as he stood in front of Casa Summers. It had taken quite an effort to paint on his costume, especially in the hard to reach places. The spandex shorts were super tight and his eyes were itchy from the contacts. The only thing that worked as advertised was the tattoo that had to be placed on his forehead. But when he stared in the mirror it was really as if he was that superhero; especially if the light conditions were right.
He had to make some compromises for practicality though. Bare feet versus road tarmac and stones? feet always lost. So he got some blue slippers. Walking around in the equivalent of only a small tight swimsuit that you couldn't see with all the paint he had on... he didn't feel like getting arrested tonight so he grabbed a raincoat...and amazingly enough found a blue one in his closet.
It only occurred to him as he rang the doorbell, that Buffy might not recognize him at all. So let's see. All blue practically naked guy appears on her doorstep...what would she do? Punch first and ask questions later. He jumped to the side to be out of immediate sight.
Just in time it seemed. Buffy opened the door an expectant look on her face that fell into a puzzled frown.
"Buffy, it's me Xander."
"Xander? Why are you hiding there?"
"It, uh, occurred to me that you might punch me if I just appeared in my costume coz...uh I kinda look like a demon now that I think about it."
"Oh okay, well, I don't feel any demony vibes, so I promise I won't slay you," grinned Buffy. Xander peeked out into view. Wow. She actually pulls that frilly dress off! That black wig suits her too. Who am I kidding? She could make a potato sack look good. He steeled himself and emerged fully into view...expecting anything...except the reaction he got from her it seemed.
Her eyes were as wide and bulging, and she was gaping soundlessly.
He felt terribly awkward and decided to break his own impeding emotional overload that he couldn't even begin to express with his time honored method.
"Hello, I'm Dr Osterman, you must be Lady Buffy! Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, I am in awe of your beauty!" He stepped past her stupefied form and into the house. This seemed to break her from it and...
"Are you naked under there?" she said still in a half-daze.
"Not really," he said with a sigh, feeling his face heat up...thank goodness for the paint. He showed her by pulling slightly on the spandex shorts.
"Who're you supposed to be?"
"Willow will know...let's wait for her."
"Oooh, speaking of Willow, wait till you see..." Buffy seemed to struggle to tear her eyes away from him and looked up the stairs. Xander turned himself to see that 'Willow' was wrapped in a white ghost sheet that had the letters 'BOO' written on its front. He inwardly chuckled, that was just so...so...Willow.
"Hi..." she said, but trailed off as she took in the sight of Xander. He heard her gasp from within the ghost sheet and the next few moments were a virtual mirror of Buffy's reaction.
"...Casper," sighed Buffy in seeming disappointment. Wonder why?
"Hey, Will, that's a fine Boo you got there," grinned Xander.
"Xander?" Willow asked wonderingly.
"Yes, it's me, Wills," he sighed. Honestly, was it so hard to believe that he was actually a guy underneath his baggy clothes. Ok, so maybe he threw them a bit with his muscly-ness, but he wasn't exactly Conan. She finally noticed the tattoo on his forehead.
"Oooo. Doctor Manhattan!" she burbled excitedly.
"See," he gestured with a flourish to Willow, grinning at Buffy.
"Anyone want to fill me in?" said Buffy mildly.
"Xander dressed as a major super powerful hero from the Watchmen graphic novel series," Willow walked down the stairs and examined him closely. "Even the eyes look good."
"Oh, well, we better hurry to school to get our group of kids," Buffy said, looking at the time. "You can explain more on the way. Oh, and Xander, you better tie that coat closed. Major distracto."
"Check," he said sheepishly.
The one benefit of the Doc Manhattan costume was it pretty much made him incognito until he spoke. Therefore it allowed him to avoid Larry the Pirate at the School. Snyder could only sneer at his costume as he handed off a group of children for Xander to escort.
He paused outside with his little Halloween rugrats and got them in line to brief them on the age old secrets of the 'Trick or Treat'.
"I am Doc Manhattan, and here is my recommendation on sleazing extra candy: tears are key. Tears will normally get you the double-bagger. You can also try the old 'you missed me' routine, but it's risky. Only go there for chocolate. Understand?"
They all nodded their heads.
"Okay, follow me and we'll make a success of this night."
Xander looked around himself in astonishment. It was chaos. Up and down the street, parents and children had seemingly 'transformed' into their costumes...his own group had turned into miniature demons and monsters that were attacking each other. Windows, cars, doors, anything breakable was seemingly being smashed by the creatures as they stormed past the various houses.
It was then that he felt it...all the hair on his body stood up...an electric surge and wind seemed to sweep over him. He held up his blue painted arm to watch in fascination as the visible arcs of electricity appeared all over it.
No. It couldn't be happening. NO WAY!
He screamed and his arms were flung out in a caricature of pain as the 'intrinsic field' of the atoms his body was made up of began to energize and glow blue with power and slowly from without...he began to disintegrate...arms...legs...head...body...skeleton...nerves...
...and everything faded to black...
Jon 'Doctor Manhattan' Osterman, felt himself reconstitute into his glowing nude blue body and absentmindedly regarded the destruction around him. The timeline here was extremely odd. Vampires, demons, or rather extra-dimensional entities existed here as a matter of daily life. How quaint. How he had ended up here was also somewhat amusing. He scanned the reality of this place with a thought and nodded to himself. An entirely different Universe, with somewhat similar physical laws, except they were not as immutable here.
He twirled his hand and a perfect rose appeared from the ether...it was easier to create and transmute here. He let the rose drop and it vanished. He also appeared to be in his relative future in this Universe; it was 1998 here.
The difference in events in this Universe was also quite startling. He had never existed here and had not been around to influence the Cold War so overwhelmingly. The Vietnam War had dragged on for years into a stalemate for the US, instead of a quick victory. And the Cold War was over; the US had won, there was no more Soviet Union...in its a place a somewhat democratic Russian Federation! There was no Doomsday Clock! Even the 22nd Amendment was still in place...Nixon had resigned in disgrace, the Watergate reporters had not been killed by the Comedian! Bill Clinton...hmm, despite his extra-marital problems, a reasonably good President.
But for all these apparent good signs on this Earth, the extra-dimensional entities were a severe threat to it not to mention the extra-terrestrial one. And what was amazing was that most people were completely blind to it!
Jon turned around and said, "No, I am not Xander, Ms Rosenburg. He's not 'here' at the moment. And neither are you, strictly speaking." The girl blushed to the roots of her hair as she stared at him. Her eyes trying and somewhat failing to look anywhere but...there. Though what she was wearing at the moment was way more provocative than simply being nude; boots, a short, black leather skirt, and a burgundy, long sleeved, V-necked, midriff baring top.
"What do you mean?"
"You have been transformed into the essence of the costume you wore," replied Jon with a sigh, and stared off into nowhere for a few moments. How interesting, he noted the future event in his mind. Even time is mutable here.
"What...you...Doctor Manhattan?" said Willow her voice squeaking into an astonished pitch.
"It's an interesting experience...to be in a Universe that considers me a fictional character in a graphic novel," Jon felt an actual smile on his face.
A monster chose this moment to get interested in them and growled, dashing towards them. Willow flinched as it went through her and crashed into a fence. It got up and snarled only to charge at a disinterested Jon next, and with a sigh he phased himself...the monster zipped through him and knocked itself out crashing into the lamp post he was standing next to.
"Oh my, you can..." she trailed off and Jon felt a trace of Xander influencing him as he flicked his fingers and an actual flashing light bulb appeared above her head. She looked up at it and rolled her eyes. "Funny... Oh! We have to find Buffy..."
She dashed off and again Jon felt Xander peek his interest even though he knew the Slayer would be useless to them. So he calmly set off behind the girl, towards where Buffy Summers was walking on the other side of the street. Looking quite charming in that dress.
"Buffy! Are you okay?" asked Willow worriedly. Jon sighed, didn't he just tell her about the costumes...it wasn't a great feat of logic to connect the dots. They were again interrupted by a costume monster, snarling at them and looking like it was considering using their entrails as party décor. "Buffy, what do we do?"
The Slayer's response was highly original. Her eyes widened at the sight of the monster and her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and slumped to the ground in a faint.
"I thought I pointed out that we have all become the essence of the costumes," said Jon, shaking his head and with a gesture to the monster sent it flying a great distance to crash against an outdoor patio set down the street. "Hence, Ms Summers is not herself, but rather an 18th Century lady with absolutely no idea of defending herself and a head full of Victorian principles, French, tea parties and high society."
"Oh no," moaned Willow, her shoulder slumping. "Well, at least we have you to protect her. Can you just please try to stick your attention to the here and now...no looking at the future or past?"
"I shall endeavor to, though the presence of your friend in my mind is helping," nodded Jon, he touched the Slayer with single finger on her forehead and immediately she was awake. He teleported himself quickly out of her immediate reach and sight so as to not startle her.
"Are you all right?" asked Willow.
"I think so," mumbled Buffy, her accent was distinctly posh.
"What year is this?"
"1775, I believe," her eyes darted everywhere, clearly confused, and she gasped when she saw Doctor Manhattan. "Do you have no shame? Walking about unclothed! And why are you glowing blue?" Jon rolled his eyes and turned his back to her. "Who are you?"
"We're friends," Willow tried to reassure.
"F-friends of whom?Y-your dress...everything is strange! How did I come to be here?" The noblewoman gibbered and started to hyperventilate.
"Breathe, okay, breathe. You're gonna faint again. Can't you do something Doctor?"
Jon turned slightly and with a gesture to Buffy, her hyperventilation stopped and she was instantly calm and serene. He gestured up with his finger and she was abruptly stood up on her own two feet.
Another monster decided to appear and attack at this moment and with another shooing gesture it was catapulted down the street.
"I think it would be better to wait this out indoors," he said.
"A DEMON! A DEMON!" Buffy abruptly lost her calm demeanor and despite her protestation on his nakedness hid behind Jon. He stared at the SUV with bright headlights flaring driving past them and looked down at the screaming woman.
"That's not a demon, it's a car." Willow shook her head in disbelief.
"What does it want?" moaned Buffy.
"It does not want anything, it's just a horseless carriage," said Jon, he turned to Willow. "Let's go to the lady's house, it is the closest."
"Okay, follow me," nodded the newly made ghost.
They entered the Slayer's home, via the kitchen door. It was an utterly unremarkable two floor affair though some of the technology piqued his interest. He sensed the electronics were pretty advanced in some of the devices within the home, well, at least in comparison to their counterparts in his Universe. Though other things were still primitive...like the gasoline driven cars, and he saw nothing to indicate that Nite Owl's advanced technology had been released when he hanged up his cape.
"There is no one within the house," declared Jon, allowing Buffy and Willow to enter.
"Where are we?" asked the noblewoman.
"Your place. Now we just need to..."
The front door abruptly banged rapidly as if someone was knocking on it. Both girls jumped nearly a foot in the air before...
"It's a mini demon," said Jon looking closely at the cordless phone hanging on the wall. "It will leave if we do nothing to indicate we are here."
"This...could be me," said Buffy, picking up a picture frame where a photo of herself smiling for the camera in a spaghetti strap top.
"It is you, Buffy, can't you remember at all?" Willow intoned.
"No! I, I don't understand any of this! Uh, uh...this is some other girl! I would never wear this," the lady put the picture back as if her hand was scalded, "low apparel, and I don't like this place, and I don't like you, and I just wanna go home!"
"You are home!" insisted Willow, and turned to face Manhattan. "She couldn't've dressed up like Xena?"
There was a shattering of glass as monster stuck its arm through the small windows beside the locked door. The ugly yet deadly appendage groped for anyone it could reach and it growled in anticipation. Buffy collapsed against the wall and shut her ears against the sound.
"Oh, sorry," said Jon with a nod, looking up from the TV set and another shooing gesture with his glowing blue hand and abruptly the monster appendage disappeared.
"What did you do? That wasn't telekinesis, these monsters are normally children..."
"I know they are children," Jon actually felt irritated, amazing. Xander's presence was actually getting rid of his general apathy towards what was happening around him. "I just teleported it away a few hundred meters."
"Got it," nodded Willow suddenly weary. It occurred to her for the first time that she was dealing with a freakishly powerful person here...best not to piss him off, but that was an odd thing...from what she could remember, Doc Manhattan was usually extremely apathetic to almost anything. Sure, the second Silk Spectre had cured him somewhat of it with her affection and love, but he was still distant.
There was a sudden screaming outside, that of a woman.
Jon sighed in exasperation, as his non-linear perception of time forced him to act, set aside amazement at his new feelings, and snapped his fingers.
A decidedly attractive and statuesque woman dressed in a skin tight 'cat' suit appeared out of thin air in the house. Jon could actually feel himself surprised and his heart skip a beat...for but a brief moment, he had thought that it was Laurie. But the face was different, the body more curvy.
"Cordelia!" Willow cried out in shock.
"What the...wait a...what's going on?" Cordelia blinked at her sudden change in location.
"Okay," the trainee witch steeled herself, "your name is Cordelia, you're not a cat, you're in high school, and we're your friends. Well, sort of."
"That's nice Willow," Cordelia replied sarcastically, "and you went mental when?"
"You know us?"
"Yeah, lucky me...." The social queen of Sunnydale High glimpsed Doc Manhattan for the first time and gasped. Jon had the TV floating in its component parts in front of him and examining the microcircuitry. "Oh yeah, lucky me..." grinned Cordelia, now staring unabashedly.
"Ummm, Cordelia, do you know who you're actually ogling there?" Willow coughed, feeling herself blushing again as she also stared at Doc Manhattan.
"Oh, just a glowing naked hunk with a bod full of muscly curves and a very l..."
"Ok, yeah," Willow agreed, waving her hands frantically, "but when he isn't like that his name is usually Xander Harris."
"Dweeb-boy?!" coughed Cordelia in shock. "That Adonis is...is...Xander? What is going on?!"
"Short story...everyone's been turned into their Halloween costumes."
"No kidding," Queen C's eyes widened, but her eyes continued to sneak glimpses of Jon. "I was just attacked by Jo-Jo, the Dog-faced boy. Look at my costume!" She showed a torn sleeve of the suit. "Do you really think that Partytown is gonna give me my deposit back? Not on the likely. Which reminds me...how did I get from out there to in here?"
"Xander...teleported you," said Willow, trying again to avert her eyes.
"He can do that now?" Cordelia asked speculatively as she saw Jon give a gesture to the TV set and it reassembled itself and he moved on to examine the PC, which also promptly disassembled itself in mid-air for his scrutiny.
"His costume was Doctor Manhattan, a very powerful superhero." Jon nodded to himself as he stared at the CPU and absently gestured at Cordelia...she gave a start as a reverse tearing sound was heard and her own costume's sleeve was repaired as if it had never been slashed.
"And the dealio with the nudeness?"
"Doc Manhattan finds it pointless to dress, he's usually quite apathetic...meaning he doesn't care what others think of himself and his actions. It's also to do with the fact that clothes on his body doesn't last when he uses some of his powers."
"Well I'm not complaining," Cordelia's eyes sparkled.
"Okay, Doc, I have to get to somebody who can help and figure out what's going on...by the way, do you know what's going on? You have Clairvoyance," Willow pointed out.
"All I will say is that you should keep Cordelia's condition in mind, or rather lack thereof," Jon said and the PC reassembled itself. "You wish to see Rupert Giles?" Willow nodded. "Very well." He gestured and Willow vanished.
"Where did she go?" queried Buffy meekly.
"To get help," said Jon, walking over.
"What's that riff?" asked Cordelia, moving to stand next to Jon and threading her arms around his right arm. Jon almost automatically bent his arm for her to hold on to, and was surprised at the subconscious action...ah Xander again.
"Her memories have been affected," replied Jon. "I remain aware of the full situation thanks to my powers." A chair appeared out of nowhere. "Please, ma'am, for your own comfort use the chair." Jon helped Buffy to the seat by giving her a hand up. Buffy stubbornly refused to look at him, but nevertheless accepted the aid.
"Surely there is someplace we can go," said Buffy, seemingly finding prim lady stubbornness within herself again. "A safe haven."
"Hello? Duh! Didn't you see what Adonis here can do? We're safest with him!" insisted Cordelia. "Dammit, why did she have to get amnesia? Willow didn't."
"She was turned into the best exemplar of who would wear an 18th C dress," explained Jon.
"I don't know what this...amnesia...is, but I'm certain I don't have it. I bathe quite often!"
Jon rolled his eyes. It's pointless to argue with her.
"Hello, it's a mental condition, Lady Useless. It has nothing to do with how often you bathe!"
"How dare you?!" gasped Buffy. "I was brought up a proper lady! I wasn't meant to understand things. I'm just meant to look pretty, then someone nice will marry me. Possibly a Baron."
"Ullgghh, I can't believe women acted like this at one stage," Cordelia stared in horrified fascination.
"A woman's most attractive asset is her mind, the rest is just cherries on top," grinned Jon; that was a combination of him and Xander speaking. Cordelia goggled at him for a second then her eyes shined.
"See, that's the attitude to have," she nodded. "Though Sunnydale has slim pickings, the good looking ones are always dumb, and the smart ones are scrawny nerds. Why is that I wonder?"
They were interrupted when the kitchen door opened and a tall, dark haired man walked in wearing dark colors and had that 'cool' look about him that came naturally to some people. He was distracted and staring outside as he spoke.
"Oh good! You guys are alright. It's total...chaos...out...uh, Cordelia what...who's the guy...not wearing..."
"Doctor Manhattan," said Jon.
"Dr Manhattan, this is Angel...uh, he's a 'good' vampire so please don't...blow him up or teleport him away, okay?" Jon merely nodded. "Everyone's turned into their Halloween costumes," Cordelia explained. "The town is filled with monsters, villains, heroes." She gestured to Jon. "This was, um, is Xander."
Angel blinked and was actually rendered speechless. This...is Xander?
"Okay," Angel said slowly, feeling his brain struggle to gasp the concept. It was then that he got the sense of sheer power from Xander; it was like...as if he was but a bug in comparison. He could even feel the chained demon Angelus whimper within him.
It was then that the lights in the house abruptly went out. Buffy grabbed onto Cordelia in fright.
"Do you mind?" Her tone was cold and irritated towards the lady. Buffy startled away as if her hands had scalded.
"A costumed temporary vampire has sneaked into the house behind you," said Jon idly to Angel. "It's waiting to ambush someone behind the basement door in the kitchen."
Angel stared at Jon for a moment then looked at Cordelia questioningly. "Willow said something about the Doc having Clairvoyance as well...better check it out." Angel shook his head but went to check anyway, seeing Dr Manhattan, Buffy and Cordelia following at a discreet distance.
In the kitchen, the door was indeed ajar. Angel turned his attention to the basement door. Any doubts about the veracity of Manhattan's 'clairvoyance' vanished as the door burst open and a stereotypically dressed 'Dracula' vampire in an eyeblink charged him down. Angel was a Master Vampire himself, and was able to cope…managing to grab the vampire in a takedown and wrestled him to the floor.
"Some help here!" Angel was struggling to keep the vampire down…it was after all Dracula. He had no choice but to pull out his game face to keep the scale of strength roughly even but despite this the costumed vampire was slowly winning. The next thing he knew the vampire had disappeared from under him and he fell down on the tile floor awkwardly.
"Why didn't you do that before the fight?" queried Cordelia.
"If I prevent every fight, every pain, every heartache…that is not growth; that is not life. I do all the work, and you diminish as a result," said Jon solemnly.
"Where's Buffy?" Angel was startled as he got up and saw that she was missing and the front door open.
"She was right there!" moaned Cordelia in exasperation, gesturing to the empty air where Lady Buffy was supposed to be.
"She was frightened by the fight and by Angel when his demonic face was exposed," said Jon idly.
"We gotta find her…" Angel rushed forward and out the door, Cordelia followed dragging Jon slightly by their entwined arms.
"Are you sure she came this way?"
"This is her exact route," replied Jon with a sigh to the ensouled vampire, as they paced along the street a few blocks away from Buffy's home. "She is not exactly fast in her current attire, we will catch up."
"A million bad things could happen to her in the meantime!" snapped Angel.
"She'll be okay," encouraged Cordelia.
"Buffy would be fine, whoever she is now is helpless. C'mon!" He started to run. Jon rolled his eyes and swiftly picked Cordelia up so she rested in his arms. She gave a startled squeak at the action but settled comfortably soon enough as he easily caught up with Angel with a burst of speed.
They finally caught up with Buffy in an alleyway a couple of streets down. She was being pushed against the alley wall by a stereotypical pirate who was leering and chuckling menacingly at her whilst giving sloppy kisses along her neck. The Lady Buffy was clearly not enjoying this and was futilely trying to stave off the big pirate. Jon felt his apathy burned away at this sight in an instant and his body glowed noticeably brighter. He put down Cordelia and with a slashing gesture of his right hand Larry the Pirate was launched off of Buffy as if shot from circus cannon. He smashed into the opposite wall…hard, and crumpled into unconsciousness.
"That felt remarkably satisfying," Jon said with a grin.
Cordelia rushed forward and helped the frightened and trembling Lady Buffy to her feet. "Are you okay?" Buffy saw Angel and instantly cowered away.
"He's a…he's a vampire!"
"It's okay, really. Angel's a good vampire, he would never hurt you."
"Absolutely, he's our friend," encouraged Cordelia.
Willow appeared sprinting down the alley they were in from the other end. "Guys!" She shouted.
"Willow!" called Angel in alarm.
"Guys, you gotta get out of here."
At the other end of the alley behind her, a whole pack of mini demons and monsters approached, being led by what Jon thought to be a Billy Idol wannabe – the bleach blonde's true nature was apparent at a glance. Master Vampire. He gave a glance at the timeline of the next twenty minutes – everything would work out, but it was so inconvenient.
Jon sighed and cocked his head at the oncoming pack and with a slight wave of his fingers the whole lot of them vanished, teleported close to the high school a few miles away.
The look on the blonde vampire's face was priceless as he stared back at the space his posse had been in.
"Angel," prompted Jon, the souled vampire had been getting ready to carry Lady Buffy in retreat, but put her back to her own feet. "I believe you have a score to settle with this one, don't you?" Xander's memories of the blonde vampire Spike coming to the fore for Jon's perusal.
Angel only nodded and walked forward gaining an eager look on his face as he settled into a fighting stance opposite Spike. The vampire glanced at the menacing Angel and then to Jon, abruptly decided that retreat was better the part of valor and turned to escape, aiming for a sewer entrance to disappear into.
"Tut, tut," said Jon, shaking his head. Before Spike could so much as take a second running step, he vanished into thin air.
"Where did you send him?" frowned Angel, he had been rather looking forward to beating up Spike. It was a rare occasion for the childe of Drusilla to be caught so off guard and so exposed without backup.
"Straight back into his little lair with Drusilla, he should be laying low for quite a while to come," grinned Jon. "If you would all excuse me, I am needed elsewhere."
Dr Manhattan glowed noticeably brighter and with a blinding flash vanished from the Scoobies' presence.
"Aaaah, I'll miss the view," sighed Cordelia with a dreamy smile.
Ethan Rayne grinned unrepentantly at his old, old friend.
"What? No hug? Aren't you pleased to see your old mate, Rupert?
Rupert Giles glared at the man he had once considered a friend in their youth and his hands curled into fists. "I'm just surprised I didn't guess it was you. This Halloween stunt stinks of Ethan Rayne."
"Yes, it does, doesn't it? Don't wish to blow my own trumpet, but its genius. The very embodiment of 'be careful what you wish for'." Ethan smirked egotistically.
"It's sick, brutal, and it harms the innocent."
"Oh, and we all know that you are the champion of innocents and all things pure and good, Rupert. It's quite a little act you've got going here, old man."
"It's no act. It's who I am."
"Who you are? The Watcher, sniveling, tweed-clad guardian of the Slayer and her kin? I think not. I know who you are, Rupert, and I know what you're capable of." Ethan got a considering look on his face as surveyed his old friend. "But they don't, do they? They have no idea where you come from."
"Break the spell, Ethan. Then leave this place and never come back," Giles said firmly.
"Why should I? What's in the bargain for me?"
"You get to live."
"Oh, Rupert, you're scaring me."
Giles suddenly advanced on Ethan and delivered a hard punch in the gut with a left, making Ethan double over, and followed up with a right to the face. He continued the beating for a minute, being careful not to endanger his former friend's life – but he let flight with his carefully bottled up anger at the actions of the man below him. Ethan Rayne had cost a young Rupert Giles his innocence. He paused finally to get some breath back, allowing Ethan to curl up into a ball of pain.
"And you said the Ripper was long gone," smirked Ethan despite everything.
Giles grew furious at the use of his old warlock name. "Tell me how to stop the spell."
"Say 'pretty please'."
Giles kicked him hard in the kidney, in response to the taunting and Ethan yelled out in pain.
"That is enough!"
The voice seemed to come from everywhere in the costume shop. Giles glanced around frantically then spotted movement from behind one of the isles. Emerging from it was a blue being that seemed entirely made of energy. His mind absently noticed the tattoo of the hydrogen atom on the forehead, the fact that its shape was a nude human male, and that its eyes seemed to glow intently.
"Ah, I was wondering when you might show up," Ethan winced from the floor.
"I do wonder as to your sanity not to mention common sense, Ethan Rayne," said the being, the voice struck Giles as being familiar. "You knew my abilities would easily be able to spot you."
"Couldn't help myself," laughed Ethan painfully. "The sheer chaos that will result from my summoning you will be magnificent to behold in the future. And I'm a fan of your character."
"I know already what my presence will cause in this Universe," said the being. "I will try my best to ameliorate it."
"Who not to mention what are you?" demanded Giles.
"I would be more respectful to him, Ripper, he could squash you like a fly and barely notice it," smirked Ethan.
The being turned to Giles and with a nod said, "I am Doctor Jonathan Osterman, but I prefer to be known as Doctor Manhattan…" this Dr Manhanttan seemed to nod his head, before his whole aspect seemed to change and he grinned in very familiar lopsided manner and said, "Hello, G-Man."
There was only one young man who grinned like that or used that name, "Xander?!"
"Yeah, it's me, the Doc is my alter-ego, weird side effect of the chaos spell summoning the Doc and destabilizing the intrinsic field of my atomic structure – cool, I'm channelling his memories." Giles absorbed that with bafflement. "The bottom line is…" said Xander seeing it, "I have access to a whole host of abilities because of my new state of being, and they are too numerous to get into right now. Suffice it to say, that while I can't be considered physically human anymore, my core personality and soul is still the same old Xander."
"Good Lord," gasped Giles.
"Amazing isn't it," Ethan smiled toothily.
"Tell me how to break the spell," ordered Giles, glaring at the Chaos mage; lifting his foot to ready another kick.
"Breaking the spell won't help me, G-Man," interrupted Xander. "The spell removed the intrinsic field of the atoms of my body – an intrinsic field is oh, to use a comparison…like the shell of an egg, once gone or broken…"
"'…all the king's men couldn't put Humpty back together again,'" laughed Ethan.
Giles dropped his foot and looked at Xander sadly.
"But you can help everyone else in town," smirked the nude teen, "break the statue of Janus, over there. That's what Ethan was about to tell you."
Giles spotted the forgotten and glowing green statue and rushed over to it, grabbed the statue and lifted it over his head to smash it.
He threw the statue hard to the floor, smashing it into tiny pieces. Despite himself, he looked to Xander and saw a brief flickering of his form, as if static was crackling all over him, but just as soon it had disappeared. The teen's eyes were closed and looked as if he was concentrating quite hard. Finally, he gave a sigh and looked at Rupert.
"It's over, everyone, including Miss Summers has reverted to their original selves," said Doc Manhattan, now in control again, his posture and diction now reverted to something Giles thought of as distinctly 'academic'. Giles turned around intent on continuing in releasing some pent up frustration on Ethan Rayne for this stunt, only to find the spot he had held on the floor was empty.
"Dammit, still slippery as an eel, the bugger," muttered Giles under his breath.
"You will meet him again," assured Doc Manhattan, coming to stand next to Giles. Rupert gave the Doc a sidelong glance and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted. "No, I will not be covering up. The US government in my Universe with all its power could only get me to concede my allegiance and to wear a loin cloth in the bargain. I rather doubt you could do the same."
"And what about Xander?" asked Giles mildly. "What does he think?"
Xander was back in control, he folded his muscled blue arms thoughtfully pretending to think. "Hmm, no, you see Cordelia's reaction to me has erased my fears…and I kinda like having chicks drool…such satisfying revenge for what they do to us men."
"What about school and appearing in public? You would be arrested and…"
"If anyone tried I would simply," Xander waved his hand and all the costumes of the shop vanished, leaving it empty. "I just dumped that right on top of Ethan's head." Giles gaped at the display of power. "I can also alter the wavelengths of light emitted by myself." Xander closed his eyes and there was a slight wavy ripple over his form as there now stood a rather smartly clothed Xander Harris; wearing khaki slacks, leather shoes, and a black shirt with the upper buttons loose – the effect vanished with another ripple and Xander was back to his nude blue form. "Piece of cake, I can even make it selective, that's if I want to blend in. And why should I hide what I am?"
Doc Manhattan returned. "So you see, we are united in purpose and decision, we are one…a blending, despite the fact that we can speak as two separate voices."
Giles nodded in understanding, "If you wish Doctor, I can perhaps look into a magical way of regaining this intrinsic field…"
"It won't work," pronounced Xander immediately, "even if you managed to create intrinsic energy through magical means you have no way to shape it into the correct form; as I doubt one of your hocus pocus litanies could give instructions accurate down to a sub-molecular level."
"Ah, no, if that is what required then I see your point," sighed Rupert, shaking his head. "What are you going to tell the others?"
"The truth," said Xander simply. "They deserve nothing less…Hold on a moment Giles, time is running out…" Giles watched in awe as Xander began to glow visibly brighter and there was a slight flash that blinded the Watcher. When his eyes cleared he stared…and rubbed them again and…no difference.
Where there was one glowing nude Xander, now there stood two…absolutely identical. The first Xander turned to his…copy! and said, "You know what to do." The second Xander nodded with a lopsided grin and began to glow brighter again…then with a flash, vanished.
"W-w-what just happened?" stuttered Rupert in astonishment.
"I created a copy of myself, to handle a critical situation and perhaps solve many future problems…" Xander replied vaguely staring off in the distance. "It will allow me to remain here and handle the fallout of this event."
"Quite," was all Rupert could think to say in reply as they walked out of Ethan's shop and headed towards his old Peugeot. Xander walked up to the passenger side of it and got a wry expression on his face.
"I really think you ought to trade this car in G-Man, it's a rustbucket," the blue teen laid his palm on the hood of the vehicle…a white glow suffused the entire forward section of the rickety car…when it faded the car seemed unchanged, and Xander calmly got in. Rupert got in the driver's side and looked around for any changes…still none…he put the key in the ignition and turned it, and almost jumped out of his skin at the sound of a strong growl of an engine as he pumped the gas.
"What did you do Xander?"
"Nothing much, simply rebuilt the engine and gearbox on a molecular level, it's now as if it just came off the assembly line about fifteen years ago, I also added a few tweaks to optimise performance. I could've made you a modern car, but I'd love to see the look on the DMV clerk's face when you try and explain how your little Peugeot suddenly turned into a Ferrari or Alpha Romeo."
In an arching angular gold walled corridor, with obsidian black floors, a man is fighting for his life, for his friends, and for his planet. In one hand he holds a Berretta pistol, in the other a highly modified MP5, he wears a black battle dress uniform and backpack, with a hoodie covering his long hair. He first hears the heavy footsteps of his enemy before he sees them, and takes cover in an alcove near the door of the room his friends are in. He is important, he was protecting their backs, and he could not fail. The consequences of failure were something the young man had already seen, and was determined to prevent.
The tall forms of the enemy came into view; armoured in an exotic alloy over the upper body and groin, whilst armoured boots reached up to protect the lower legs and knee joint, a stylized helmet shaped like a serpent's head. It was a combination designed to intimidate less advanced cultures.
The young man brought both weapons to bear and fired. It was clear to see that despite aiming accurately, and killing the two enemies with armour piercing bullets that he was not a real soldier. He handled the weapons awkwardly, and did not stay behind the cover of the alcove properly when firing.
"Jack!" shouted the young man desperately. In his distraction, a single enemy approached from the other corner and loosed a bright orange burst of plasma energy from a weapon the shape of a bulbous staff. It hit the young man square in the shoulder, the kinetic energy flinging him against the wall.
"Arrgghh!" groaned the man, pushing himself painfully to a sitting position, and in his determination, brought his pistol to bear in his right hand and fired three times, killing the enemy that had felled him.
Another man in black emerged from the doorway the young man had been guarding, this one older, with the grizzled air of a veteran soldier, with greying hair, holding his MP5 to scan for enemies before attending to his wounded friend.
"Daniel…Dammit!" cried the veteran, looking at the grievous plasma wound burned in his friend's left shoulder.
"I'm dead anyway, just get outta here!" insisted Daniel, pushing off the veteran from helping him.
"I'm not leaving you here, Daniel," retorted the veteran.
"Get outta here, Jack! You're just gonna blow up with the other ship anyway! What difference does it make? Go! Just go! I'll stay and watch your back." Daniel picked up his pistol again to show that he was more than capable still.
Jack O'Neill stared long and hard at Daniel Jackson, he'd had to do this before, leave a man behind – who couldn't be saved, because the mission came first. Heck, he'd been on both sides of this scenario. And now the stakes were as high as they came – the entire planet, six billion people's freedom from Goa'uld slavery and oppression.
Jack stood and nodded in respect of the man's decision. He had come to secretly like Daniel Jackson, despite his near irritating civilian naivety of looking at things on occasion and his near constant obsession with the past – something that Jack by his nature just viewed as something best left alone. And if anyone had a past like his they would share the same damn opinion. Jack left and walked back into the Bridge of the Goa'uld Mothership to rejoin the others and tell them of their friend's sacrifice – before they transported themselves off the ship.
Daniel Jackson on the other hand was not someone to give up, not even when staring death in the face. He had done so to kill Ra, the first Goa'uld that Humanity in its modern form had encountered. And right now he was crawling across the floor, dragging himself to the reason that he had not died two years ago on the planet Abydos.
The crawl seemed to take forever, through his exhaustion and the pain of his wound; he lost all sense of coherent time. He vaguely knew that there was perhaps only ten minutes left before the Mothership he was currently on was destroyed thanks to some very well placed C4 charges. He thanked God and the Goa'uld sense of self preservation for putting the Healing Sarcophagus on the same deck as the Bridge.
The Goa'uld Sarcophagus was even powerful enough to raise you from the dead.
He stopped however when he could see a strange blue glow reflected off the walls. It was coming from behind him, but he couldn't dare turn around for fear of losing his momentum and succumbing to the pain the manoeuvre would bring. He gasped when he felt something pressed against his wounded shoulder suddenly, the sudden pain of the contact vanished and he….was…beginning to feel…better!
Daniel felt his strength returning and crawled onto his knees, grabbing at the torn BDU to expose the part of his shoulder that showed now nothing but perfectly normal and healthy skin! He whirled around to look for the source of that blue glow, and found himself staring at the glowing blue form of some sort of alien…yet it's…no his appearance was rather human, that of a naked human, and it tickled a feeling that he had seen this before somewhere.
The blue man - who despite being tall, well muscled, had a hint of youth still there – was turned with his back towards Daniel a few feet away and raised a hand down the corridor. Five Jaffa warriors came charging from around a corner but before they could even fire a single blast, their forms seemed to shimmer and then…explode into particles of energy that dissipated into nothingness.
"I have healed you. Follow me, Daniel Jackson," said the blue man and walked back towards the Bridge. Daniel was for a moment, too stunned at the turn of events to do anything. Who was he? What was he? Did he just kill those Jaffa?
Daniel realized he wasn't going to get any answers by standing stupidly rooted to the spot and hurried off in the blue man's wake. He caught up within a few seconds.
"Uh, I dunno who you are but this ship is about to blow up…"
"Oh, don't worry about that," said the blue man seemingly unconcerned. They entered the Bridge and the man gave a gesture to the door they had entered and it snapped shut, sealing them off. Daniel's eyes widened in surprise, he realized that he had placed his last charge of C4 in this very room, right behind the main ship control interface. He rushed over and looked under the console and saw…nothing…it's gone!
"I took the liberty of moving those charges to the central power core of the other mothership," said the blue man, standing up to the interface and placing his palms onto the crystal pads. "Fascinating technology," he murmured his eyes closed, "though crude in practice and delivery, it's not as efficient as it could be, not by a long shot…the Goa'uld clearly don't even have a proper understanding of it."
"Okay," said Daniel in confusion, but making a note of it, in retrospect it made sense…the Goa'uld were parasitical by nature, meaning they take and use, and could even duplicate stolen technology but that didn't mean they truly understood the principles behind it. He shifted to the matter at hand. "But that still leaves this ship and its crew of thousands of Jaffa to deal with."
"There was a reason I sealed the Bridge," said the blue man, and suddenly the rather beautiful view of Earth that was visible through the forcefield window was replaced with a hologram; that showed a schematic of the pyramidal mothership with giant hull segments attached to give it a vague circular look when view from above. A scrolling red warning flashed in Goa'uld across the screen. Daniel took a moment to read it and stared in horror.
"You're depressurizing the rest of the ship!"
"Yes," said the blue man apathetically. "Believe it or not, it's a pre-programmed subroutine, sort of a failsafe for this…Apophis, in case he ever had to deal with a large scale rebellion among his troops." The man raised an eyebrow at Daniel's seeming objection. "They were about to die in the fiery destruction of this ship, at your hands, I might add. Don't come quibbling about moral ways to die to me."
"Okay, just who are you?" demanded Daniel.
"That's the second time I was asked this question today," mused the blue man. "Hmmm…Alexander, that should do, yes." The hologram flashed a new screen. "Aha, the cycle is complete, no air or life signs detected outside the Bridge." The screen vanished and was replaced with the vista of Earth and the other Goa'uld Mothership not a hundred kilometres away and getting closer.
"Why are we still moving towards the ship about to explode?" asked Daniel lightly.
"So that your friends will still think everything is going according to plan, and get out of that ship," explained the blue…no, Alexander. At sixty kilometres a cocoon of energy flashed over the other mothership before vanishing. "They've managed to bring down the shields of Apophis' ship."
"That's good…right?" asked Daniel uncertainly.
"Oh, sure, this is still a fully functional mothership, I could open up with all its weapons and obliterate the other ship easily – but your friends are still on it."
Finally at twenty kilometres distance two Death Glider fighter craft squirted out of the main launch bay of Apophis' ship.
"Either that's Apophis and his son Klorel escaping or…"
"They would not evacuate by Glider, it has no faster than light capability," Alexander stated, staring down into the controls, "Sensors show a human and Jaffa lifesign in each craft."
"That's definitely them," said Daniel firmly.
"Taking evasive action – shields to full." Alexander shut his eyes and started to glow noticeably brighter.
Daniel watched anxiously and in awe as the mothership he was on pulled away from Apophis's ship faster than he imagined possible for a thing with such huge mass. The other mothership suddenly flashed as if a miniature sun had just come into existence before it died down and exploded in massive brief fireball of energy that radiated an energy shockwave that washed over the shield of Klorel's ship. Thankfully the shields shrugged it off and the whole event barely produced a shudder through the deck plating.
"Where are they?" said Daniel urgently.
"The residual radiation from the explosion has affected sensor efficiency, but they would've definitely been hit by that shockwave, and their craft has no shields. Hmm…where are they…radiation, radiation, more radiation…aha."
"The good news is they're still alive," grinned Alexander.
"And the bad?"
"Their fighters are heavily damaged and they're in a rapidly decaying orbit."
"Can you get them out of there?"
"Certainly," grinned Alexander and brought the mothership closer and matched orbits with the damaged Gliders. "There they are." Daniel squinted and saw the distinct curved shapes of the Goa'uld fighters glistening in the reflected light from Earth. "You better get ready to calm them down."
"What do you…"
Daniel was interrupted when suddenly Alexander flicked his fingers. Out of thin air, Jack O'Neill, Samantha Carter, Teal'C and Bratac appeared and awkwardly landed on their behinds, sending them sprawling to the floor of the Bridge.
"Ooof!" grunted Jack. "What the…hell?"
"Ow…Did we just…that's…huh?" stuttered Sam, looking startled at the sudden change in surroundings. Teal'C and Bratac, merely looked around with wide astonished eyes.
"Hi guys," said Daniel weakly, waving his hand.
"Daniel," Jack got to his feet, clearly inviting elaboration, helping Sam up.
"Yeah, uhm, it seems we have a new…acquaintance, this is Alexander," he gestured to the glowing nude being.
"Oh boy," said Sam, trying to avert her eyes yet still stole the occasional glance.
"Please, Captain Carter, don't bother," Alexander shook his head as he piloted the ship to a higher orbit. "I find it irritating when people don't look me in the eye."
"He says he's responsible for altering your plan to destroy both ships," shrugged Daniel. He saw that Teal'C and Bratac were eyeing the door leading out to the rest of the ship. "And he's vented the rest of the ship to space."
"He can do that?" Jack blinked.
"Yeah, and I think a lot more…I think he healed my wound and he's also the reason you got here from your damaged Gliders. Unless the Goa'uld have remote transporters without using Ring platforms built into these ships."
"No Goa'uld possesses such technology," Bratac affirmed.
"Are you saying he just what…teleported us here and healed you, Daniel?" Sam was incredulous.
"It certainly looked that way…"
There was a pop of displaced air a few feet in front of them, and a large mahogany table with five chairs sprang into existence, more pops followed as various buffet menu items started to appear as well.
"Eat," Alexander said nonchalantly, "you must be starving." Daniel had to suppress a laugh; any number of flies could've made a home in Sam's mouth as she gaped at the deliciously stocked table, the smell of which was already making his mouth water. Jack warily approached a dish filled with steaming hot chicken drumsticks and touched it, then grabbed one. "It's not poisoned; I simply liberated it from a buffet restaurant down on the planet."
Jack stared at Daniel and took a bite. "Ah, that is good," he mumbled while chewing. Daniel rushed to a seat and started piling his plate with food. Teal'C and Bratac looked at each other exchanging raised eyebrows and also sat down. Sam was the last to sit, touching the wooden table, the chair, then grabbed a piece of sliced beef and bit into it.
"How do you move a finger, or an arm, Captain Carter?" retorted Alexander. "So where do you want me to park Earth's newest acquisition?" he grinned.
Jack started to cough and choke as he hurriedly gulped down the juice that he had just swallowed. "You're kidding?" he spluttered.
"Not at all, Colonel O'Neill. Area 51? McMurdo?"
"51 it is," said Jack, looking like a kid in a candy store. "We got ourselves some big honkin space guns on a big ship, yeah!" he chanted with a pumped fist.
"Why?" asked Daniel suddenly. "Why are you helping us?"
"Daniiiieeelll!" Jack suddenly looked forbiddingly at his friend.
"I mean it's obvious you're no friend of the Goa'uld…but it's just that so far, every advanced society we've met has either scorned us as being primitive and told us to go on our way…"
"Let's just say that my race…" Alexander grinned wryly and his solid blue eyes glittered with mischief, "…has a score to settle with them. And helping others in their capacity to fight the Goa'uld is beneficial."
"And your race would be?" Daniel asked.
"Think hard Dr Jackson, you'll figure it out. I've programmed a descent course into the ship, and disabled all the failsafes Apophis had installed. Landing will commence in fifteen minutes. I suggest you alert your superiors. I'll be in touch."
Alexander turned around to face them and began to glow visibly brighter again, and with a bright flash…vanished.
"That was different," blinked Jack.
Xander stared at his home – or to be more accurate – his former home. He was under no delusions that Anthony and Jessica Harris would accept the fact that their son had been turned by magic into an extremely powerful being of energy; with a preference for au naturel behaviour. A glance into the probability lines of the next twenty minutes was enough to see that only one option remained. Anthony, a self-pitying drunk, who couldn't reason himself out of a wet paper bag would think some sort of monster had invaded his home, and throw beer bottles. Xander's mother would either faint or charge at him with a frying pan…they could not see their son anymore in the glowing body of energy.
Yet, his parents for all their faults…had stayed together, and still loved each other – despite their unhappiness. It boggled Xander's mind that – though the Doc understood love and its power all too well.
He sighed as he willed light to stop reflecting off him, essentially turning him invisible and blind to his normal vision, but he hardly had normal vision anymore.
He moved into the house – it was time.
She consciously reminded herself for what felt like the hundredth time to not stare. It was very, very difficult. Her inner Slayer and heck, for that matter, she herself had one thought in mind every time she looked at her radically changed Xander-shaped friend – hot boy, me want. She would then take to looking away and chanting in her head 'Angel, boyfriend. Angel, boyfriend.' And then she would catch sight of Xander again – as he was idly running a glowing blue finger along the spines of the books stacked in the shelves of the High School library, and the process would start over again.
A glance at Willow, (now thankfully not a ghost anymore and back in her body and dressed in her typical style sweater and skirt) who seemingly had a permanent blush now whenever she was in Xander's presence – showed that the trainee witch was probably in a similar state. Cordelia, well, Buffy had never seen the Queen of Sunnydale High, so…so…enamoured with anyone. She unabashedly stared at Xander with this absent dreamy smile on her face.
Her thoughts went off on another tangent as she contemplated what she would do to this Ethan Rayne, the next time she met him. Rip off his arms and beat him up with them – introduce him to the inner workings of his own digestive system – that last one had possibilities.
"Uh-uhm," Giles cleared his throat, seeming to snap the three females out of their daze. "Willow, since you seem so knowledgeable about this graphic novel, perhaps you could enlighten me on the powers Xander now possesses."
Ah, good old Giles, acting all Watchery.
Willow released an explosive breath and visibly steeled herself and focused rigidly on the Watcher. "Honestly, Giles, the extent of Doc Manhattan's powers were never even fully shown in the novel. But the list is huge; general control over space and time; regeneration; energy and matter manipulation; flight – though that's just silly, he doesn't really need it; superhuman speed, strength and durability; intangibility; precognition; teleportation of himself and others; self duplication; and he can change his size at will. He also has a genius intellect, or I suppose the Doc aspect has it."
"Don't underestimate me, Willow," said Xander, grinning goofily at her from one of the stacks, a book floating open in front of him. "Yeah, the Doc is super smart; your Xander just never could be bothered with school work, too boring. I suspect that part of my intelligence is geared more towards the spatial and practical – I have a thirty thousand piece ship model that I finished just last month. I hid it from you, and for that I apologize." He snapped his fingers and a rather beautiful and extremely intricate sail ship model with the name 'Bounty' on its stern appeared on the desk of the library they were all seated at.
While Willow gaped at it and try to comprehend and absorb this, Buffy herself tried to get her head around that long list of powers Willow mentioned. Giles had started to clean his glasses vigorously halfway through it and hadn't stopped. Cordelia simply resumed her staring, this time with a gleam in her eye.
But Buffy was struck by one thing at this time. "Giles, what does this mean for us, as in the Scoobies?"
"I-I-I don't k-know Buffy, this situation is completely unprecedented. I mean besides the obvious benefits of having Xander's powers in dealing with the forces of darkness…"
"There's a problem with that G-Man," said Xander, who now had half a dozen open books simultaneously floating in front of him, the pages flapping as if someone was reading them extremely fast. "Sorry, Doc M's learning tendencies are getting to me. Willow, can you explain."
"Xander's right," sighed Willow. "In the Universe where Manhattan comes from, he helped the US win the Vietnam War in three months."
"But isn't that good? I mean, so many people didn't die because he helped," Buffy frowned in puzzlement.
"Yes, that was good by itself, but it had consequences," said Willow, looking troubled. "The easy victory caused US politics to shift towards aggressive and big brother style foreign policy. It also had consequences for the Constitution, it gave President Nixon unheard of support and he successfully repealed the 22nd Amendment – basically meaning that a President can now be elected for more than two terms and in 1985, Nixon was still in the White House."
"Good Lord," said Giles, shaking his head trying and failing to imagine such a United States.
"It was unfortunate," said Xander softly.
"He also had a major effect on the world economy, as Doc Manhattan wanted to stop pollution from destroying Earth's atmosphere, so he synthesized vast amounts of lithium required to make all motorized transportation electric and coupled with nuclear reactors and refined gas power stations, essentially made oil obsolete for the motor industry."
"Oh I bet OPEC, loved that," muttered Giles, looking deep in thought. "So getting back to us, even though Xander could literally wipe out every vampire and evil demon on the planet, there is no way to predict if the knock on effects would be desirable."
"Oh, there's a way," disagreed Willow, glancing at Xander and like clockwork, blushing again. "Xander is experiencing time in a non-linear fashion, he can tell us possible futures, but the sheer act of knowing it, will change that future."
"The future is determined by the character of those who shape it," muttered Xander absently.
"So does all that mean Xander is going to help or not? Because if he doesn't just because we're afraid of the effects…then I might as well not go out and slay, because that one vampire I didn't kill would have a snack on a guy who would invent a new light bulb or change everyones…"
"I did not imply that I would do nothing, Buffy," said Xander, now turning to face them squarely, causing Cordelia to sigh in appreciation. "I merely said that there would be a problem using my powers to their full extent…and that we should be prepared for the worst. The Chaos Mage wants what his name implies. Anyway…"
They were interrupted when suddenly another glowing Xander appeared from the other side of the stacks and unflinchingly walked into the first Xander and was gone.
"Ah, your duplicate has returned I see," commented Giles.
Xander nodded and stared upward for a moment before grinning. "Yes, I needed to attend to a problem. Hopefully, with this windfall they can focus on the more important job." He turned back to floating books and began reading.
"What job? And who is they?"
"There are battles beyond to be fought for the survival of the human race, Buffy, not just in Sunnydale."