Summary: Some people have come a place far, far away and a time far, far ahead to ask for help on an urgent matter. The time? February 2008. The place? Moscow. The problem? They're in Cleveland, September 2003. And that's just the beginning of the trouble…

Pairing: Kinda, sorta, depends on how hard you squint. Mostly friendship/adventure/humor rule the day.

Author's Note: This is based on a challenge issued by Uncle Rand on the XanderZone list, so you know, right away, that it's Xander-centric. Beyond that I'm not telling.

The key points of the challenge:

Set immediately after Chosen

A group of people come from the future via a spell to seek help in saving the world of the future

They're awestruck at meeting Xander, but may or may not know who the other Scoobs are.

No B/X or W/X. If you must have a pairing, keep to either F/X or D/X.

No incredible inventions from the future capable of killing vampires from a distance.

(Optional) Xander has a choice to stay with the present-day Scoobs or leave with the future group.

Sadly, I may have stuck to the letter of the challenge (with a few letters out of place), but most definitely not the intent.

Warning: This is a WiP and may take a blasted long time to finish because I'm using it to clear my head when I run into a wall on the Where Fools Go series. End result, it may take a bit to reach the end. No worries, though, I already have the plot in hand.

Disclaimer: Is this necessary? I own nothing. ME/Fox owns everything. Deal.

Feedback: As always, thoughtful feedback is welcomed. Since this is a WiP that may take a looooong time to finish, I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

Archiving: On XanderZone is automatically granted since the challenge came from there. Everyone else please ask.

Living History

By Lizbeth Marcs

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

--Hunter S. Thomson

Part 1: I'm A Stranger Here Myself

A low moan issued from the pile of bodies in the alley.

There was some reflexive twitching and tics in the pile.

"Whose elbow is in my eye?" an irate female voice asked.

"Better not be the same person whose foot is firmly placed on my wedding tackle," a decidedly British male voice spat.

"Was it supposed to be like this?" a second female voice whined. "I don't remember anyone saying…"

"Enough!" A third female voice ordered.

There was some movement amongst the bodies and a tall, brunette woman emerged. The mouth, which always seemed ready to burst into a sunshine grin, was turned down into an uncharacteristic frown. She glanced around the alley with distaste, as if not sure she wanted to believe her nose.

"J'Nal," she snapped. "Get your astra over here."

"My head," the British male voice complained.

"Suck it up. We don't have time for this horsha."

A male crawled out from under the pile and, staying firmly on hands and knees, wormed his way to the woman's side. She sighed and hauled him to his feet, supporting him as he wavered unsteadily back and forth.

"Well?" she demanded.

"Gimmie a moment," J'Nal complained. "The spell is still…"

The woman sighed and in a softer voice urged, "Look, I know the portal spell took a lot out of you, but you have to get your bearings. You know the rules: if we're not in the right time or place, we have to zip out of here before we interact with someone from this time period. The minute a human sees us or we do anything that might affect anyone, it's too late and we have to make do or go home empty-handed."

"I know, I know." J'Nal sounded apologetic. He peered around with eyes narrowed to slits, a sure sign he had a screaming headache to end all headaches. "Well, I can tell you that we're nowhere near a warm climate."

"Oh?" The woman shoved her unruly hair out of her eyes in an aggravated move. Somewhere along the way she lost her customary barrette to tie her mane back and the resulting trip across time and space had caused it to take on a Medusa-like life of its own. Wind tugged at and tussled with the strands, making the image complete.

"The wind, plus the fact that it's cold, means that we're definitely not in what the Taras call 'La-La Land.'"

"But are we on Tara?" the woman hissed.

"I'd guess so," a second male voice said from behind them. J'Nal and the woman turned around to see a slight girl with long jet black hair bearing the insignia of a Faithist help the speaker to his feet. "This construction just screams Tara architecture," he added.

The woman snorted. "Looks like a blank brick wall to me. Get knocked unconscious in enough alleys and they all start to look alike."

The second male held up a scanner, touching the screen at different points. "Spectrometer indicates that the gases infused with the brick match perfectly with early twenty-first century Tara."

The woman, who was clearly in charge, let her face relax. "Well, at least we're in the right timeframe then. The question is, are we in the right place and the right year?"

"Aren't you being a leeeeetle overcautious?" the third woman whined as she crawled to her feet.

"Catherine, why did we have to bring her along?" the Faithist asked.

"Ruda, I know you're not in love with the idea of the press…" Catherine began with another ineffectual swipe at her hair.

"Hey, what the Slayer Corps does is infor and this is infor," the third woman had her hands on her hips, sharing her angry glare between Slayer Ruda and Watcher Honoria Catherine. "I came along to get a story and this is the story of the century. Hell, the brass at UNS is willing to pay my bar bill, so that has to tell you something."

"Calm down Ms. Tikri, no one is going to rob you of your story. You're here, so by definition you have an exclusive," Catherine soothed, fighting hard not to roll her eyes. "But we need to make sure that we're," here she reverently pulled out a small book and gently rubbed the surface, "in Moscow during 2008."

"Well, that I can't tell you until we get a look around," J'Nal said. "The spell can't be exact on the first try."

"Well, we're in the right time period, so there is that," said the scanner-bearing man. "I have to check everyone's translation implants, make sure we have both twenty-first century Russian and English programmed properly."

"Do it," Catherine ordered with a nod.

Scanner man, known as Charlie to the rest of the group, went to everyone in turn, checking the slim metal disc fitted behind everyone's left ear. On unspoken agreement, Catherine was left last, mostly because her standing orders were thus: the Slayer first; witch second; medic, meaning himself, third. Ms. Tikri got attention before Catherine herself simply because, in this working band, the Watcher Honoria always went last, whether it was for basic equipment checks or urgent medical treatment.

Once he was finished, Charlie nodded happily. "Rodger, dodger old codger. Good to go."

"Old codger?" Catherine's face exploded into a grin. "You need vision correction."

"Look out!" Ruda's voice snapped through the alley.

The others looked up, eyes wide. "Oh futch," Catherine muttered before shouting. "Ruda! Leave the hostile. Leave the hostile!"

Too late. Said hostile—known as a vampire to you and I—launched itself at Ruda with a hiss. Too fast for the eye to move, Ruda's sword was out and flashing through the dark, beheading her attacker in a single smooth swipe. The creature exploded into dust.

There was overwhelming silence in the alley, broken by a single word from Ruda. "Oooops."

"A common, garden-variety vampire," Charlie smiled. "Wish I had the opportunity for a closer look."

"You have got to be jossing me," Ms. Tikri said. "Those things are pests. Better to kill 'em now before they have a chance to make more."

"Yes, but this is a Tara vampire," Charlie explained, "the original of its kind. That makes all the difference…"

"Charlie," Catherine warned as she fingered the tiny pin bearing the symbol of the Watchers Honoria intertwined with her own family crest. She turned towards the alley's entrance, teeth worrying her bottom lip. "Well, wherever and whenever we are, we are now here to stay."