Threshold Issues

Summary: Xander hears a knock at his door just after arriving home and is stunned to see who the visitor is. Follow-up to "No More Be Grieved" and "Good Answer."

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes and language.

Time Frame: Mid-fifth season BTVS/second season "Angel." Immediately following "Crush": a few days before "The Thin Dead Line." (this is your spoiler warning, folks)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me ( to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


Xander was tired. After having gotten up bright and early to help Buffy look for clues in the train car, he had been kept busy running errands for his boss at the construction company. He wasn't complaining about the work: he was getting full pay plus overtime for the errands while his wrist healed (damned troll), but he was definitely bone tired. He entered the front door of his building and made it to his apartment door without incident. He went inside and was contemplating a midnight snack before hitting the sack when he heard a soft knock at the door. Frowning, he walked over to the door and pulled it open, wondering if Buffy had run into problems on patrol and needed backup. The visitor came into view, and Xander felt a violent chill go down his spine as he met her dark eyes with his own. He swallowed hard, and contemplated running or screaming, or both, before he remembered that she couldn't reach him unless she was invited. He forced himself to look at her without trembling and commented bluntly, "You're a long way from Brazil, Drusilla. . .what can I do for you?"

Drusilla watched Xander with a secret smile on her face, then replied, "I came to see my William. . .my bright, beautiful child. . .but that wicked Slayer owns his heart. . .poor Spike, poor lost lamb."

Xander shuddered, both at Drusilla's confirmation of Buffy's suspicions and because something about Drusilla's words seemed eerily familiar to him. He blinked, then looked back at Drusilla and commented, "That's too bad, Drusilla, and I cannot stress just how much I mean that. . .but what are you doing * here * ?"

Drusilla smiled a little more, then seemed to completely notice him for the first time. Xander felt another chill as the apparently bottomless black pools of the vampire's eyes seemed to stare into the depths of his soul. She laughed softly and replied, "You poor, sweet man. . .don't you remember? You called me."

Xander felt a surge of righteous indignation that overwhelmed his fear, and he snapped back, "I did NOT!" Drusilla blinked and looked hurt for a moment, and Xander felt an irrational surge of guilt; whatever Drusilla was, whatever she had done, there were no good feelings to be had at yelling at an emotionally and mentally damaged person. . .well, more or less a person. He sighed and responded, "Look, Drusilla. . .I'm sorry I yelled, but the last time I was this close to you, you were about to turn me into a vampire. Now, I know that might have seemed like a really neat thing to you, but it's really far down on my list of things to have happen to me. So, I'm pretty sure I didn't call you."

The secret smile came back to her face, and Xander was rocked back on his heels by her reply: "But you did. . .I heard you whispering to me as I slept, and I came to you. All of those other pretty little things were dancing in your head, then you told me you were sorry about the bad things Daddy did to me, and that you didn't mean to turn my head with that wicked spell. . .then you sent me away, but I remembered. . .I heard your voice with Miss Edith's and the others, and one day they told me to come here. I thought it was for Spike, but I'm sure now that it wasn't. . .it was you. . .brave young ram in a field full of wolves. . .you were whispering for me to come to you."

Xander swallowed hard and urged, "No, Drusilla. . .I'm sure you were right the first time. In fact, I'm sure Spike is waiting for you now. . .why don't you go to him?" * While I call Buffy and the others with a whole mess of firepower to deal with this nightmare *

Drusilla frowned and responded sadly, "No. . .my Spike won't play wonderful games with me any more. . .he was going to stake me to win the heart of the Slayer, but she spurned him, cast him aside like an old shoe. . .he freed her just as I was about to feast. . .wicked lawyers are poor provisions compared to a Slayer."

Xander had a hard time following what Dru was saying, but what he did comprehend had him restraining himself from dashing to the phone to check on Buffy. He took another deep breath, then replied, "Well, Drusilla, as much as I'd like to see you guys be back together-- * in an urn* he thought -- it just isn't going to happen, I guess. . .and the same goes for you and me. Sorry."

He was about to close the door, when he saw the look in her eyes change. Knowing of her psychic powers, he recoiled, only to realize it was only a change of expression. She looked calm, and more sane than usual. She met his eyes and whispered, "That wicked spell let me see you for what you are. . .you are a shining knight, sworn to defend his lady against all that would harm her. Angelus raged like the storm when you stopped him from visiting the Slayer in her sickbed. . .you have faced my Spike twice and lost, but you kept coming. . .you are valiant, indomitable. . .I could show you things worthy of that valor."

Xander was mesmerized by her words for a moment, then reason kicked back in and he replied harshly, "You mean you'd show it to some demon with my face, who probably wouldn't give a damn about anyone except maybe you or any of my exes I wanted to stalk that week. . .no thank you."

Drusilla blinked, then asked with a hurt tone, "Why stay in this nasty place. . .I can give you a life under the stars, away from the fools that can't see inside you. . .see you as you really are. . .why stay?"

Xander blinked: there had been times over the last four years when he had wondered about that same question himself. . .but there was no hesitation in his voice as he replied, "Why stay? I stay for the woman in the other room. . .the one who gave up the life of a demon to stay with me and make a life for us both. I stay for the woman who gave my life real meaning, who is the truest hero I've ever known and who I'd give my life for in an instant. I stay for my best friend, who I've given way too much grief over the years, and who-to my everlasting gratitude-has found happiness in spite of my best efforts to screw up her life. I stay for a man who has been more a father to me the last four years than the one I lived with until a few months ago. I stay for the friends and other innocent people who, in spite of everything we've done, didn't live to see this day. I stay for those friends who have left this place, but who I hope will come back some day. . .so I can tell them how much it means to me that they're all right." He paused, and without a hint of fear locked eyes with the dark eyes two feet from him as he concluded, "Drusilla. . .I stay, because everything I love and live for springs from this place. . .and to leave it would be like dying."

The vampire's dark eyes flashed with fury, and she whispered, "Then so shall it be." She stared deeply into Xander's eyes, and Xander shivered as Drusilla continued, "Xander. .. be-"

"All right, I think we've heard about enough from you. . .bitch."

Drusilla blinked, and Xander whirled to see Anya standing there, her eyes blazing with anger. He felt fear race through him like lightning, and he snapped, "Anya, get back! She's dangerous."

Anya nodded, and she replied, "Very dangerous. . .but not to you. . .not right now, anyway." She beckoned towards the doorway behind her, and Xander was shocked to see two familiar figures walk through it to stand behind Anya. He stared and stammered, "Willow? Ta. . tara?"

Drusilla was less impressed. She giggled and replied, "The naughty witches from the dream place. . .bad girls playing with fire and magick. . .careful, that fire can burn from within!"

Willow blinked, then coldly responded, "From what I hear, you're the one with fire issues." Drusilla involuntarily shuddered, and Willow continued, "Xander is protected by a warding spell. . .none of your psychic powers will do anything to him. . .unless he wants them to. I wouldn't wait out there hoping for that to happen."

Xander had turned back to Drusilla in fascination, and he saw Drusilla attempt to mesmerize him. . .and felt nothing. He laughed out loud, and Drusilla glared at him before replying to Willow, "So it seems. . .but this place is no stronghold. . .you can't stay here forever."

Willow turned to Tara, and Drusilla frowned at the less familiar woman's words: "When you entered the building, you triggered a spell we left there for you. . .if you ever come back to Sunnydale again, we'll know it. . .and Buffy's on the way. You might want to make tracks."

Drusilla smiled wickedly, and all present could see that she was calculating the odds of a fight between herself, Buffy, and all present in the apartment. Willow shuddered, then beckoned to the doorway again.

Xander turned to stare as three more figures walked into the room: Cordelia, looking grim but as beautiful as ever; Wesley, who carried a loaded crossbow and who had a more determined expression than he could ever remember seeing on the former Watcher's face, and a young black man carrying a nasty looking axe. . .that had to be Gunn, the vampire hunter Cordelia had told Willow about during some of their phone conversations. Xander, stunned by the mass invasion of his apartment, was startled by the frustrated wail coming from behind him, and he turned just in time to see Drusilla dash away without another word.

Xander silently turned away from the door, then walked over to a chair and settled into it. A moment later, he felt a jolt as Anya threw herself at him, hugging him tightly. The familiar, welcome sensation helped him regain his composure, and he looked up at the concerned faces, which now included a visibly winded Buffy, and he stared at them for a long moment before asking the obvious question: "How?"

Buffy looked relieved, but her expression abruptly changed to one of mild embarrassment as she began, "It started with that knife you took for me last summer. . .it put you in that trance where you dealt with your issues with the women in your life. You don't remember any of it, but Cordelia, Faith, and I remember all of the parts we were there for. That wouldn't have been a problem, but then we remembered that Drusilla has psychic abilities too. . .and she has a weird way of getting obsessed with stuff. We figured that if she ever came back to town, you'd be high on her hit list."

Xander blinked, making a mental note to have a long conversation with Buffy about Drusilla's complaints about Spike, then asked, "OK. . .and I get why you didn't say anything: being ground zero for Dru's obsessions would not have been something I wanted to worry about for the last six months. . .but how did you all know to be here? Not to mention, since when have I had a protection spell against Drusilla's mojo on me?"

Willow smiled and replied, "We had some of Drusilla's possessions from the mansion to use as components, and as for the spell focus. . ." She pointed at Xander's right wrist, and he looked at the charm bracelet there that Anya had given to him in September. He turned it over, reading the inscription there for the thousandth time: "All my love. Anya."

Xander closed his eyes for a long moment, then leaned over and kissed Anya on the forehead as Cordelia interjected, "As for why we're all here. . .chalk it up to yet another searingly painful headache sent by the Powers That Be, which is also how we knew where to be." Xander began to speak, and Cordelia gave him a look with equal parts of fondness and annoyance as she cut him off with, "You're welcome."

Xander looked at her with an expression that was a mirror of her own, with a good amount of gratitude thrown in, then turned to Wesley and Gunn and said simply, "Thanks for watching her back. . .and mine."

Wesley nodded, seeing the genuine gratitude in the eyes of the young man who had looked at him mostly in scorn in days past. Gunn nodded at him and replied, "No problem. . .I've heard a few stories about you." He gave Xander an appraising look, then commented with a deadpan expression, "Somehow, I thought you'd be taller."

Xander stood and walked over to Gunn, then replied, "Likewise." He offered Gunn his hand, and the other man shook it firmly. Xander then turned back to the others and asked pointedly, "So. . .is there any other deep dark secret about my life that I should know about?"

Willow, Tara, and Buffy turned to each other for a moment, then Buffy turned to Xander and replied, "Well, there is one thing. . ." Xander tensed, waiting for Buffy to continue. After a moment, the Slayer looked at Xander and stated somberly, "You drooled a lot when you were in a coma."

Xander tossed a pillow at her, and there was general laughter in the room.

* * * * *

The dark, slender figure waited at the side of the road, near the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign. It was three in the morning, and little traffic was on the highway at that hour. At length, a Cadillac sedan with darkly tinted windows pulled alongside her, and the front passenger side window slid down. A feminine voice came from within: "Get in."

Drusilla complied, and Darla glared at her for a long moment before commenting, "We've got to move. . .it's not all that long to sunrise, and I hate getting stuck at motels for the day. . .the eating is always so bad at those places." Drusilla was silent, and Darla weighed the virtue of silence against her own curiosity before curiosity won out: "What happened?"

Drusilla began rocking and whispering, "His heart is here. . .his heart is here."

Darla rolled her eyes and responded, "Great. . .you know, he never did have his head screwed on straight. . .never able to think past the present, always one to fight rather than think. . .it's amazing he lasted as long as he did before those government lunatics put that chip in his head." She shrugged and tried to console Drusilla. . .to get her to be silent if nothing else: "You did your best. . .we'll just have to do without him."

Much to her annoyance, Drusilla ignored her, continuing to whisper, "His heart is here. . .his heart is here. . ." The Cadillac sped off towards L.A., disappearing into the night with one deeply irritated vampire and one heartbroken one.

As before, comments are welcome and desired.