BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Discworld and denizens by their author, Sir Terry Pratchett. Elements of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling also appear.

As with most of my longer stories this has undergone several rewrites, most notably the change from third to first person. This takes place in the calm period before the discovery of two dead children and Buffy's eighteenth birthday. Nothing really exciting has happened since Christmas.

Xander Harris:

Season 3, January 1999


Life was not being fair to me.

After my latest attempt at romance had ended with my awkwardly trying to unhook a girl's bra and her third hand helping me out, I had decided to spend the night locked in the library cage... a barrier between me and the cruel, demon-filled world.

I heard the male voices chanting as soon as I opened the double doors of Sunnydale's High School library. This left me two choices:

I could either flee and try futilely to contact the Slayer... When was that girl ever going to carry a beeper?

I could succeed in contacting Giles at home, by which time the ritual might be over.

Or, recounting the possibilities, I could investigate myself. Quietly.

I weaved my way through the dense stacks and moved some books on a shelf, to see a bunch of teenagers in dark cloaks with pointed hoods chanting over an immense cloak fit for the Grim Reaper.

The cloak was laid in the center of a summoning circle made not out of the regular chalk, or blood, but rare herbs and silk thread. I could identify the components by the labeled crates and jars marked 'rare herbs' and 'silk thread' the intruders had stacked against the back wall.

I was angry. This was our library, none of the other students had a right to come in, let alone perform stuff.

The leader finally finished reading the ancient language in the grimoire he was holding and proceeded to give the necessary exposition:

"The spell is done. Now all we need to do is anoint the cloak with fresh blood and the Death most willing to claim the donator will appear before us. As we have predefined this Death," the members nodded and pulled up the long sleeves of their cloaks to reveal matching tattoos. "A simple slice across will be all that's needed to bring him screaming into our reality and lead us to conquer this world!"

As the cheers sounded, I, the lucky eavesdropper that I was, mulled this over.

Hmm... Snake-oozing-from-a-skull tattoos, unfamiliar, but... Immense dark cloak... Oh, that Harry Potter book in the corner, that cinches it.

Yes, the books were fresh and popular; yes, I had flipped through them. No, I did not like the writing particularly. Worse, they were yet another way for demons to get their helpless victims to come with them quietly.

What child, upon finding something impossible floating over their bed, could resist an offer like Hogwarts, even if they knew, deep down, the books were fiction?

Two out of the last fifteen...


Furious, I charged the bookcase in front of me... They were not about to bring a wraithy attempted-baby-slayer into the world if this Harris had anything to say about it!

I bounced off the heavily laden shelves, but that only sent books flying in several directions.

Darn... it always worked in the movies and I'd just blown my cover.

My attempt at crushing the would-be Death-Eaters did succeed in heavily beaning two of them, but the rest charged around the bookcase to confront me as the leader stayed and readied the knife.

As they reached me, I finished clearing one shelf of some particularly tall books and tried to dive through to the other side.

The redheaded leader intercepted my movement, grabbing my arm and dragging me forcibly through the case to land heavily on the ground.

The fall had enough force to knock the wind out of me, leaving me vulnerable to a series of kicks. I managed to grab his foot and send him sprawling to the ground.

I couldn't see it, but, as he was crawling towards the symbolic cloak, apparently trying to reach it and finish the ritual, he was actually fishing something out of his pocket.

When I came to my feet and grabbed for the crawling man, he dropped his knife and turned his body to face me, swinging his fist as he moved.

Shiny metal connected with my forehead and I fell to the ground, the blow from the hastily-worn brass knuckles was strong and I hadn't much time to prepare...

The leader backed up, to the center of the circle, as his troops charged back around to where they were...

He was about to draw the knife across his tattooed forearm, but, suddenly, I was there, grabbing the knife by the blade.

This has got to be the one of the dumbest ways in which I've saved the world I thought to myself. But even if I can take this guy out, any of these freaks could finish the ritual.


They all stood there, in a frozen tableau, as the first drops of my Scooby blood fell to soak into the cloak.

I let go of the knife and kicked my redheaded opponent out of the circle as a mighty wind rose up and the thread and herbs caught fire.

"You idiot!" one of the bookworms yelled. "That stuff cost three thousand dollars!"

The cloak rose up in front of me... I backed up slightly, but chose to stand my ground rather than approach the fanatics.

"DAMN," a voice intoned as the summoned being's feminine hands reached up and pulled back the hood that was suddenly covering her head.

A wave of white-blond hair with a single black streak poured around her shoulders as she said: "You all are very lucky that you didn't try this a few minutes earlier. If you had, a bunch of kids would have been stuck years before their birth at the sacking of Perseoplis instead of just being left in a suddenly teacherless classroom. That would have made me angry instead of just pissed off."

"Who are you anyway?" she frowned, looking at the assorted faces.

"Uh, I'm not with them," I assured her. "Lone, unarmed guy versus group in dark hoods with tattoos. Oh, and look, bloody knife."

"You are going to pay for what you have done!" the redheaded teenager yelled as his neighbors helped him to his feet. "Get them!"

The new arrival and I had a moment to prepare ourselves as the failed cultists considered the wisdom of attacking a 'Death'.

They finally decided that the black-haired young man and the 'helpless' girl would be no match for all of them.

Us two in the circle had a moment of understanding and stood back-to-back, ready to face whatever happened next.

"My name's Xander," I said, my hand still dripping blood to the floor.

"Susan Sto-Helit," she answered, three lines burning brightly on her face as we met the first wave of attackers.


Yep, Life was not being fair to me, but maybe with Death I'd have a fighting chance.