Chapter 5 – Took A Level in Badass
"So how do we kill the amazing worm-man?" asked Xander to the group at large.
Oz, Willow, Miss Calendar and Giles each shared a look. Giles cleared his throat.
"I'm not sure I understand Xander. You were able to defeat him before."
"But not dispatch him. Thing is, it says here that he can only truly be injured in his disassembled state. When he's separated I can easily crush him with my spiritual pressure. When he's whole I can chop him up but he just puts himself back together again. Plus, I can't use my reiatsu like that without catching the people around me. I'll also be vulnerable immediately after and he already knows not to go pile of worms around me."
"So you can stalemate him," stated Oz, "meantime you can't help us because you're stuck fighting him."
"Exactly," agreed Xander emphatically as he pointed at Oz. "So, any ideas?"
Miss Calendar bit her lip as her gaze shifted from person to person until she ended with Giles. "I might have an idea. Let me look something up first." She pulled her laptop out of her bag.
"Your friend is frightening."
Buffy looked up at Kendra. They were currently sequestered in Giles' office after cleaning up the mess from their spar. Buffy didn't know why Giles had spazzed. They'd picked everything up and nothing had been broken. So what if the books were a little, teeny-weeny disorganized? It's not like he didn't love cataloging and organizing.
In any case, she and Kendra had been sent into the office to ready their weapons away from anyone that might come into the library. They'd gotten to know each other some more and even become a little friendly. Then Xander had come in to pick up a book, stopped and done some really flashy tricks with Kendra's knife, complemented it and left.
Kendra had blushed furiously and hadn't said a word from the moment Xander had walked into the office.
"Do you mean Xander?" Kendra nodded. "He's a goof!" exclaimed Buffy. Kendra stared at Buffy blankly. "It means he's goofy? A funny person? Like a clown?" Kendra frowned.
"He doesn't seem to be very funny." Laughter and a cry of "I never!" from Giles filtered in from the library. Buffy motioned Kendra over as she looked through the circular window set in the door. As they looked they saw Xander gesturing wildly while he had Miss Calendar and Willow in stitches. Oz was smiling while Giles was polishing his glasses in an attempt to hide his own smile.
"See," she told Kendra, "That's Xander. He makes people laugh."
"It seems strange to see him like this compared to earlier."
"Ah," said Buffy with a grimace. "This is actually normal for us. It was very strange for us to see how he was acting earlier."
"So he wasn't scary before?"
Buffy was set to agree when she remembered his words when Willow was kidnapped. Or his reaction after learning Jesse had been turned. "Well," drawled Buffy as she worried her lower lip, "that's not exactly true." If they hurt Willow, I'll kill you. "He cares, a lot. His, his best friend was turned."
"Xander staked him."
"That sounds like something he would do," said Kendra with certainty.
"No!" disagreed Buffy, "You're wrong. He isn't like that at all!" Buffy looked at Xander who was now sitting on the floor and- wait, was he meditating? "At least," she said slowly, "at least he wasn't like this before. Or maybe it was always there, hidden because he never had to use it?"
"He is a strong warrior. Why does that make you sad?"
"I just realized that, even though he's one of my only friends, even though he's saved my life, I really don't know him at all. I don't think anyone really knows him, not even Willow. And they've been friends forever."
"I wouldn't know," said Kendra softly, "I've never had friends." Kendra nearly jumped out of her skin when Buffy grabbed her hand.
"Well you have some now," declared Buffy with a bright smile. Kendra hesitantly returned it. Buffy decided that Kendra wasn't all that bad.
That bitch! Buffy couldn't believe Kendra wouldn't come with her to save Angel! Now she was caught by a bunch of vampires and worm guy and Spike was going to finish her off!
The doors to the church burst open as Kendra rushed in after Xander. Xander sliced the vampire nearest to the door in half as he made straight for Norman. Kendra jumped and split kicked the two vampires holding Buffy down.
"You're coming with me!" yelled Xander as he grabbed Norman by his dress shirt and pulled Norman behind him as he ran to the side of the church. He threw Norman out the closest window.
Giles, Oz, Miss Calendar and Willow came in after. Miss Calendar made for the window Xander had just leapt through. Giles and Oz took aim with their crossbows a fair distance from the mob of vampires gathered in the center aisle. Willow stood behind them, carrying the spare bolts and a super soaker full of holy water.
Xander stayed on top of Norman, rushing the assassin as soon as he cleared the window. Each cut he inflicted was healed in moments and each amputated appendage was reattached. Even bisecting him didn't work as Norman started healing before Xander finished his cut. Norman and Xander stood glaring at each other. Norman couldn't get close to Xander in order to take him in hand to hand combat, and he couldn't disassemble to use his strongest attacks. Xander was limited to what he could do with a preternaturally sharp sword until Norman became vulnerable.
"You weren't listed in the brief for the Slayer at all," complained Norman.
"Really? I thought I'd at least rate a mention." Xander shrugged but never let his guard down. "Tough luck for you and psycho cop."
"Actually I think this is where you and I will part ways. You can't finish me off in this form and I won't separate around you."
"You think I'm just going to let you go?"
"I think that you're more concerned with helping your friends inside the church than killing me." Xander couldn't help the way his eyes glanced to the side. He couldn't see the church out of the corner of his eye but he could make out the sounds of a fight. "You hero-types are so predictable." Norman relaxed as he smirked at the visibly frustrated Xander. "I'll be taking my leave now, but I'll be-"
Norman became a pile of worms.
"Squashed!" yelled Xander as he let loose with the full force of his reiatsu. Worms began bursting, one after the other, faster and faster. With one last squelching sound Norman was no more. Xander stopped pushing out his reiatsu. He stumbled back, his body feeling incredibly drained. Xander's head snapped around as someone grabbed hold of him from behind.
"Gah! Don't sneak up on me," said Xander tiredly.
"Sorry," Miss Calendar's smirk didn't help her seem sincere. "It looks like you got him all. I got caught at the edge of your pressure, but I was ready for worse. Felt very unpleasant though, like I'd suddenly gained forty pounds."
"Yeah, that was really hard though," Xander balanced himself as he stood under his own power, "but I'll be good to go in a bit."
"We might not have that much time," said Miss Calendar with worry as she pointed at the group of vampires heading in their direction.
Xander cursed his own weakness. "Go back Miss C. I'll take care of these guys."
"That's a lot of vampires Xander and you don't look too steady at the moment."
"I'll be fine, but I won't be able to cut loose with you here at the same time."
"Xander, don't get yourself killed trying to play the hero," she told him sternly.
Xander took a deep breath and felt his reiatsu suffuse every part of his body.
It will be enough Alexander, now get her out of here. You are not skilled enough yet to defend her and attack at the same time.
"Go," commanded Xander, "I can take them but I can't defend you at the same time."
"Xander we should both get out-"
"Go, now!" roared Xander. Miss Calendar found herself running back to the church before she realized what she was doing. She didn't stop but glanced over her shoulder as the group of vampires surrounded Xander.
"Good luck, Xander," she whispered as she rushed back to the church, praying that she could get Xander some reinforcements.
This is it, isn't it?
You will not fall here, Alexander. This is but the beginning. Now, give these monsters no quarter!
"Heh, didn't even cross my mind." Xander readied his sword and wiped the sweat from his brow.
Despite the fact that he was holding a sword, the mob of vampires saw him as an easy meal. They formed a semi-circle around him.
"Looks like we get to have an appetizer before the main course!" said the largest of the vampires. The others laughed sycophantically. This guy was obviously the leader of this group. Good, thought Xander, it saved him the trouble of having to identify him in the middle of the fight.
"You think I'll fall to a bunch of mooks?" Xander laughed, "You're already dressed in black, you might as well just put on ninja masks and be done with it!"
Most of the vampires looked at each other in confusion. "Screw you happy meal! You couldn't take one of us much less all of us!" Except for that guy, who was incidentally the youngest fledging, having been raised only a few months before. The other vampires realized that Xander had insulted them and snarled.
"I've got dibs on this guy," said the leader as he stepped forward. He casually stepped up to Xander, fully confident in his ability to see any attack coming. So he was understandably surprised when Xander's sword seemed to vanish from his left and reappear on his right. "Huh?" the vampire looked down and saw his arms hit the floor and vanish into dust, followed by everything under his waist. He looked up, completely disoriented by his sudden transformation into a torso. "What just happened?" The rest of him then burst into dust.
The other vampires stared at the spot where their boss had vanished. None of the vampires could understand what just happened. After all, despite being a shinigami, Xander still registered as a normal human to their senses.
The vampires were consummate predators. When confronted by prey they could do nothing less than attack, so convinced were they of their superiority over humans. They couldn't believe what they had just seen, and so they didn't. In their mind they simply assumed that their leader had made a fatal mistake by not simply attacking the human outright.
Once they had made their own sense of what had just happened, they attacked en masse. There was no finesse at all to their approach. Xander took the opening he created and ran forward through the one gap in their approach. He turned back at the now massed group that was stumbling in their efforts to not crash into each other. Xander charged.
The two vampires closest to him barely had time to scream as Xander cut them three times each, slicing them across the knees, the waist and the neck. They fell apart into seven pieces before they dusted. Xander stepped to the side as three vampires leapt at him through the dust of their compatriots. One vampire had his head cut off as he went past Xander.
With a snarl one of the vampires from the rear rushed Xander as he was recovering from his swing. He barely had enough time to block with the flat of his sword. The blow pushed the sword into him. He'd set his feet enough to keep himself from launching off his feet but the grass gave way first and he slipped, sliding backwards as the vampire continued pressing forward. Xander lifted his feet, letting the forward momentum of the vampire carry him for a moment, and planted his left foot into the vampire's solar plexus. He slid back as the vampire stumbled to a stop, clutching at its broken ribs. Xander sliced its head open. It very quickly dissolved completely, starting from its split head.
Are you dusting the vampires?
They appear to be reacting adversely to your reiatsu. But ponder this another time, the rest are coming!
Xander stopped his curiosity as he ducked under another leaping vampire. Xander made to slash at the four following behind the one he had ducked under, but they all leapt back, now fully aware and cautious of the blade in his hand. He slashed out at one vampire who jumped back again. Another approached his back but was held off with a thrust. A quick slash to the side caught the jacket of another vampire. Now the five vampires were circling him, dancing in and out of the edge of his range.
They've noticed your physical condition.
Yeah, I was already feeling it from forcing my reiatsu out to crush bug man.
You must strike a decisive blow.
But how do I- "Aagh!" Xander cried out in pain as one vampire managed to close and slash the back of his neck. Xander turned and slashed with his sword. The female vampire jumped back. Xander threw himself forward and managed to catch her across the torso opening her up almost to her spine. Just like earlier she slowly dissolved as her wound expanded until her entire body vanished. She screamed the entire time.
The other vampires took advantage of Xander's overextension and one of them punted him in the ribs. He felt them give way as he was knocked aside. He rolled painfully and tried to rise when another vampire kicked him from behind. He slid painfully on his front across the grass. Spitting out some dirt he tried to get up quickly when he was once more hit and sent flying again. He took the kick on his shoulder this time and it numbed his entire sword arm. His fingers twitched uncontrollably and dropped Excalibur. The four vampires were on him in seconds once he was deprived of his weapon. Two held him by his arms as another drilled a fist into his chest.
For a moment his vision blacked out. Xander sagged a bit since he couldn't hold off his fatigue any longer. The last vampire had Excalibur in his hand.
"I say we take this and turn him into finger food."
"Or we can just start with the fingers."
"What the hell!?" exclaimed the vampire as Excalibur vanished from his hand.
"Enough!" cried Xander as his reiatsu exploded out of him. The two vampires holding his arms were fledglings. They quickly collapsed to their knees, overwhelmed by Xander's power. The vampire that had struck him reacted like a cornered animal, attacking him with a primal snarl, spittle flying from his lips as his eyes flittered over Xander wildly. Xander was already mid swing when he manifested Excalibur again and neatly bisected the attacking vampire. Two more quick flicks dispatched the vampires at his sides.
"What, what the hell are you?" whispered the last vampire. He was the second oldest of the group and managed to reign himself in instead of attacking or fleeing wildly. He now seriously regretted not taking the second option.
"You dare lay your hands on me?" whispered Xander dangerously, his head bowed and his shoulders tense. "You dare touch my sword?" Xander's head shot up. The last vampire flinched as he met Xander's eyes. Xander's completely black eyes."You are not worthy to even be in my presence and you dare stand against me? Kneel!" The vampire dropped to his knees, staring up at Xander in horror. There was a strange warble to the boy's voice know, as if two voices were trying to speak at the same time. "I am the King! The ruler of everything! You are but a blight upon my subjects! An abomination I will not abide! I sentence you to death!"
"No…" squeaked out the vampire through muscles tensed in fear.
"My power is absolute. My word is law. And you," Xander's sword flashed across the vampires neck, "are less than dust before me." Once the vampire had settled into so much dust Xander pitched forward, landing face first in the dirt.
What, what just happened?
You have exhausted yourself.
No, I meant- was that an inner hollow?
As all people must, you are required to make a choice, Alexander.
You must make a choice. Will you be the beloved ruler, the leader for your people, the protector of the realm...
Will you be the feared tyrant, the controller of his subjects, the conqueror of the world?
I choose the first, of course!
Do you really?
Wait a second, I thought I already did the whole 'fight against your inner darkness' thing with Zangetsu?
You defeated your own powerlessness and self-doubt. Now you must control your power and ambition.
A large crash resounded from the church, Xander forced himself to his feet and limped as quickly as he could back to the church. Looking into the window he saw that the pews inside were on fire and that the massive pipe organ had come crashing down from the second floor balcony.
"Xander!" yelled Willow. She and the rest of the group were leaving from an exit across the hall. "Meet us out front!" Xander nodded and limped to the front parking lot.
As he rounded the corner he saw the others exiting the church. He saw that Buffy was helping Angel walk out. "You couldn't have left him in there?"
"Xander!" scolded both Buffy and Willow. They both froze when they noticed his disheveled appearance and the blood trickling down his chin.
"What happened?" asked Willow as she rushed over to him.
"I got into a little trouble with a pack of vampires."
"That looks to be more than a little trouble, Xander," said Giles as he looked Xander over.
"I'll be fine in the morning. I have some enhanced healing, but I need to be resting for it to work very well."
"Actually, he looks pretty good to me for a guy that just took on ten vampires," remarked Miss Calendar. Xander threw her a sour look as Willow and Buffy exploded.
"Ten vampires!" yelled Buffy.
"What were you thinking!?" yelled Willow. "Where you even thinking!?"
"Impressive," remarked Kendra as she eyed Xander's increasingly stable stance.
"Nice," said Oz, remembering how fast some of those vampires had moved inside the church. They'd had trouble taking on two between him, Giles and Willow.
Both Buffy and Willow turned a sharp glare on Kendra and Oz before turning their attention back to Xander.
"Are you crazy mister?" chastised Willow as she shook a finger in his face.
"Why would you do something so stupid?"
"First off, Wills, I am not crazy, despite the voice in my head.
Every madman believes the voices in his head are real.
Hush you. Xander turned from Willow to Buffy. "And second, they were Spike's reinforcements. We would have had to fight them anyway. They were also unarmed and I'm skilled enough to hold off two Slayers, you really think ten entry-level vamps can take me?"
Buffy's mouth closed with a click as she reluctantly shook her head.
"Then why are you so hurt?" asked Willow, no longer angry but still concerned for her friend.
"I made a tactical error. I used my spiritual pressure trick to kill worm guy. Remember how tired I was after I did it in the library? I was even more wiped this time. And the vamps didn't give me a chance to rest. I slipped, they got in some hits, but I came out on top."
"Ten vampires? Two slayers? What's going on?" asked Angel weakly.
"Are you sure we can't leave him?" asked Xander again.
"Enough children, please," asked Giles before Buffy could snap at Xander again. "Let's just go home."
"I'll second that," agreed Xander.