Title: The Wicca life.

Author: Nodakskip

Email: Theo

Rating: PG-13, or whatever the rating for the TV shows is.

Ship: X/C, and some others

Disclaimer: I own nothing that you recognize, especially with regard to Buffy, Angel or Charmed. 'Nuff said.

Category: AU, Action, Adventure, Crossover, Romance

Setting: Initially starts around the end of Buffy season 2, and progresses from there.

Summary: Willow and Xander swap places...sort of.


Room 314, Sunnydale General Hospital, Sunnydale

Tuesday May 12th, 1998

10:23 pm

The situation looked pretty grim.

One of the Scooby gang was lying unconscious in the hospital bed. The apprentice witch had recently tried to re-ensoul the vampire known as Angelus, but the attempt had been doomed to failure from the start - thanks to that soulless Irish-born monster sending his minions to kidnap Rupert Giles, the British Watcher on campus.

In any case, this member of the Scoobies had had a bookcase fall upon them, ending up in a coma after the brunette girl known as Cordelia Chase had run for her life - and the person who had told Cordy to do so had gotten a broken arm for their trouble.

Yes, the witch was not in good shape, and had so far refused to wake up. Despite all the pleas for the coma victim to do so.

And at that moment, a balance demon named Whistler and a whitelighter Elder named Gideon orbed into the hospital room, as its mortal occupants froze. This supernatural duo had business to conduct here, after all.

And almost instantly, they stared at the comatose witch named...Xander Harris.

"I must admit, I still don't understand all this," the Elder commented in his foreign accent, idly noting that the brunette female teenager holding the witch's unconscious hand...had frozen tears flowing down her cheeks.

"Geez, we gotta go through it again? Fine," the demon semi-groaned in a broad Queens accent. "This world is different to most of the other ones out there, on account of all those possible realities have the cute little redhead as the witch pal of the Slayer. Here, destiny kinda decided to go off-track, and it was the class clown who was born with the mojo ability! Capisce?"

"Yes, I know all that," Gideon looked irritated. "But what I meant was why are we here, now?"

"To demonstrate to you higher types once and for all that no matter what universe we find ourselves in, a soul curse is a. Very. Bad. Idea!" Whistler semi-ranted. "Doesn't matter if it's Rosenberg or Harris here, who gives my boy his soul back. Bottom line, that spell has a LOUSY effect on the spellcaster! They'll get darker and darker over the years, from opening themselves up to those kinda mystical forces so young in life. And if we don't do something, I'm told Harris here will destroy the entire planet in about four years!"

Gideon looked instantly shocked. "What? How?"

"Remember the fun stuff what happened back in 1932, thanks to that she-bitch called Proserpexa? Three guesses whose side Harris eventually decides to join, during 2002!"

The Elder now looked concerned. "If all that you say is true, then we should get someone to destroy this boy right now-"

The balance demon sighed. (This guy's reputation really is overrated, isn't it?) he thought to himself. "Couple of problems with that scenario. One, ALL of the Slayer's little gang is needed to prevent the other upcoming apocalypses, till Darth Harris goes on the rampage. And two, technically right now this kid's a good witch. You know, someone who's supposedly on your side?"

Gideon again looked uncomfortable. "Er, yes, true enough..."

Whistler then got a determined look on his face. (Okay, we're into the home stretch here. Let's go for broke!) "Which is where you and I come in. On account of the key to solving this whole mess is...balance, ya know? Harris loses part of his goodness bringin' Angel back, so that part of his essence needs to be replaced. From someone else. A loved one's sharing their essence with him, that sort of thing!"

The bearded Elder instantly looked shocked. "Are you...are you seriously suggesting what I think you are?"

The messenger for the Powers That Be nodded. "The binding ritual you guys can do? Yeah."

Gideon looked almost apoplectic. "Not only have those magicks not been done in thousands of years, it is utterly forbidden to do something like that - without the informed consent of both the witch and the intended familiar!"

Whistler looked like his patience was wearing damned thin. "No - I wasn't talkin' about THAT ritual, big guy. I meant the other one! Plan is not to make Harris and his partner act like a witch and his familiar, but just that they become part of each other...body and soul. Yin and yang. BALANCE. You get now what I'm sayin'?"

The Elder looked slightly mollified. "Yes. But just who, pray tell, did you have in mind for this sort of self-sacrifice?"

Whistler gestured over to the hospital bed, where a frozen Cordelia Chase was still holding Xander's hand and silently weeping. "Her."

Gideon examined the brunette cheerleader. And almost instantly, he felt the higher Power's subtle influence over her life, the entity that would one day be called "Jasmine" guiding the Chase girl's destiny. "Hmmm. Perhaps someone else would be more suitable-"

"Nope, it's gotta be her. After all, our boy lost his virginity to Miss Popularity here last month, after that little incident with the high school swim team! Anybody else, it would just cause huge-ass problems for all of us somewhere down the line. And sooner, rather than later!"

Gideon contemplated that. He owed nothing to the Power That Be, and so said musingly, "If I do this, you know that the boy automatically comes under our dominion. He'll need to be assigned a whitelighter..."

"Not a problem," Whistler shrugged. "And my advice? Horny male teenager here, so - make sure that she's one hot-looking babe. Otherwise Harris is gonna give you all sorts of hassles, what with the way this kid has a big problem with authority figures!"

Gideon nodded and mentally filed that away, as he raised his hands. Blessed white light sprang forth as he made his decision, and it briefly encompassed both Xander Harris and Cordelia Chase.

And somewhere up above, just as Whistler and Gideon vanished and time resumed for the mortals, Jasmine screamed in impotent rage - as her plans for Cordelia were nullified permanently.


The hospital room

Wednesday May 13th, 1998

4:02 am

"He has to do it!" Willow Rosenberg told her childhood enemy.

"No he doesn't!" Cordelia Chase yelled back at the shorter girl with the cast on her arm. "For God's sake, Willow, look at him! Xander just came out of a coma!"

"Ah, guys..." Harris tried to say from his bed.

"We have to get Angel back," Willow said firmly.

"No we don't!" Cordelia declared. "Buffy does, maybe, but what WE need to do is just sweep his dusty ass up with a broom!"

"Guys..." Xander tried again.

Willow just shook her head. "Now that Spike's working with Buffy-"

Cordelia looked at her fellow Scooby like she was brain-dead. "We've already been tricked once tonight! Giles is missing, you have a busted arm, and my witch of a boyfriend is barely off the critical list! And now you're saying, let's trust a soulless vampire? Willow, you're as insane as-"


Both girls looked over to him, finally. Harris looked them over, wincing in pain. "Willow's right, we have to try to give Deadboy his soul back..." He held up a hand to stop his girlfriend's objections. "But only because we don't know if Buffy is able to stop Angelus." He nodded to Oz. "Oz-man just has to get my supplies, and I can do this..."

"Okay," Willow said firmly, as she turned to leave and ignored Cordelia's enraged features. "I'll go tell Buffy-"

"Willow, wait!" Xander cut her off. "Listen to me. Buffy needs backup that's not of the undead variety, yeah. But do NOT tell the Slaymaster General that we're going to retry the curse!"

Willow looked at him strangely. "Why?"

"Because then she'll hold back," Xander replied wearily, again the pain in his head bothering him. "Buffy's needed to go all out to finish what she started that night at the mall with the Judge, and she's finally going to do it now..."

Before Willow could object he added, "Willow, think! Because I'm not jealous of that asshole vampire, and I'm not doing this just so Buffy gets her boyfriend back. This is the bottom of the ninth, and I'm doing it because if Buffy doesn't go all out on this one and win, we get sucked into Hell. As in the literal version of!"

"He's right, Willow," Oz said emotionlessly.

"Guys..." Willow said stubbornly, looking between them. "This is Buffy here. She can do it!"

"No she can't," Xander said simply, the 'one who sees' instinctively knowing the unpleasant truth. "How many chances has the Buff-meister had to just stake Angelus and be done with it, ever since her birthday? Three, four? And for whatever reason, she's failed. Every single time. On account of Buffy simply can't get past the fact that that monster has the same face as the guy she loves, and treat him as if he's just another vampire..."

As Willow again began to object Harris continued on, "Will, lemme just say this. Like Guinan told the new Captain Riker on board the Enterprise after the Borg had assimilated Captain Picard, 'if a man believes he's going to die tomorrow, then he'll probably find a way to make it happen'. If Buffy knows there is even a one percent chance of Angel taking up residence inside Deadboy again, she'll hold back. And risk six billion people ending up in Hell! That's why you WON'T tell her the truth. Understand?"

"Fine," Willow semi-growled as stubbornly as ever, before she left.

"Star Trek reference," Oz said with a raised eyebrow. "That was...deep."

Cordelia looked a little lost for a moment, before she snapped her fingers in joy. "Oh! Wait, I know this...it was Whoopi Goldberg in that horrible hat, when they fought those fashion-dead humanoid aliens!"

Oz looked at her in barely-concealed shock. "You've watched Next Generation?"

Cordelia blushed a little, not wanting to admit it. "Xander watched all my tapes of Beverly Hills 90210 with me, so..."

"Whatever. And just so you know, Oz, initially - I had to tie her down to the chair," Xander joked.

"So that's what you two do for fun?" Oz commented, various scenarios of these two playing 'Mistress of Pain' going through his mind. (Scary mental place!)

"Well, we're almost seniors, so we've experimented a lot..." Cordelia snorted, as she sat on the bed next to her boyfriend. "And so help me God, I will skin you both alive if you EVER tell anyone!"

"I think she means it," Oz mused to his male buddy.

"Yeah, me too. And you know what?" Xander asked him.


Harris looked with a smirk on his face. "Cordy thinks Worf is kinda hot."

"Xander!" Cordelia yelled indignantly, as she smacked him on the arm. "Shut the hell up!"


Crawford Street, Sunnydale

Over an hour later

"I know you're there!" Buffy said to the bushes, as she came to a halt carrying her blessed sword. "And I've got things to do, so just come on out!"

Willow came out of the bushes, holding a rock. "Where's Spike?"

Buffy grabbed her best friend's arm. "Will, what are you doing here?"

"Uh, tryin' to be backup...with a rock," Willow replied weakly. "Buffy, Xander has a point. You can't do this alone..."

Buffy sighed. "Okay, fine, you can come with. Find Giles and get him out of there. I'll take care of Angelus!" She handed her friend a spare stake. "This'll work better."

"Right," Willow replied, her broken arm bothering her as they started walking towards the dark mansion.

"Didn't think it would ever end like this, Wills," Buffy mused as she walked. "Not like this at all."

Willow looked at her closest female friend, and knew that the blond was nervous and needed some hope that everything would turn out all right. (Xander's wrong, and so is Oz. I KNOW that Buffy can do this!) Thus, deciding to completely ignore Xander's opinion, the redhead blurted out, "Xander said he's going to try the spell again."

"What!" Buffy demanded, as she stopped.

Willow nodded eagerly. "He didn't want me to tell you, but I'm sure - the soul curse HAS to work this time!"

Buffy closed her eyes for a moment. "I can't count on that."

"Why not?" Willow interrupted in astonished confusion. "If Xander said he'll do it..."

Buffy looked to the mansion with suddenly malignant hate. "Because Angelus has tricked me before, Will. Kendra's dead now, because of what I insisted we try to do last night! I've let that guy escape more than once because I thought...I prayed that I could get Angel back. But he wouldn't want the world to risk being destroyed, just to save him. Angel's at peace now...and I'm finally going to kill the demon that's wearing his face."


The hospital room

Not long after sunrise

The three teens had locked the door, and covered the window to the hall. They all knew that they couldn't afford any interruptions this time, vampire-related or otherwise.

The trio had by now set up the Orb of Thesulah in the center of four lighted candles, and a sacred circle. Various animal bones also lay on the medical tray above the bed. Xander rolled the stone runes onto the tray, and Oz did as he was told while Cordelia kept waving the burning herbs and incense.

Oz sounded it out as best as he could. "Quod perditum est, invenietur."

Xander started chanting straight after. "Not dead...nor not of the living. Spirits of the interregnum, I call."


The Crawford Street Mansion

The same time

Willow slipped into the shadows, as the lone vampire guard ran past her. Everyone wanted to see the big fight between Angelus and the Slayer, after all. After he turned the corner, Willow darted over to the small room. She pushed aside the velvet curtain and called out, "Giles!"

She ran over to the tied-up Watcher. "Oh my God, Giles, what did they do to you?" she asked in horror, as the computer hacker tried to untie him and took in his visible wounds.

Giles weakly moved his bruised head up to look at the girl. "Willow?"

The redhead nodded as she pulled off the ropes. "Can you walk?"

"You're not real," Giles said firmly as he slumped into the chair, skeptical after his recent episode with the vampiress called Drusilla. "It's a trick. They get inside my head, make me see things I want..."

"Okay," Willow reasoned. "Then why would they make you see me? I'm the one you yelled at recently for forcing Xander to look into ways to bring Ms. Calendar back, remember?"

Giles looked at her for a moment. "You're right. Let's go." He instantly groaned in pain as Willow put her arm around him.

"Come on," Willow said, as she tried to hustle the larger man out through the back entrance. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Buffy fighting the vampires. (Please be okay!) she thought to her friend.


The hospital room

A few moments later

Xander kept going with the chants, but was starting to feel the effects of his concussion. "Gods, bind him. Cast his heart from the...evil...realm." He started to pant a little, but kept on going, "Return...I call on..."

As he trailed off, Cordelia looked VERY worried. "Xander!"

Oz was just as worried, deep down. "Dude. Are you okay?"

Both jumped in shock when Xander's head popped back up quickly, his eyes turning black as he started to chant again. This time like a man possessed; but with Gideon's magic in place, not letting the darkness infect his soul. "Te implor, Doamne, nu ignora aceasta rugaminte..."

"Please let this be a good thing," Cordelia said softly, praying as she watched her boyfriend with ever-increasing fear for his safety.

"Nici mort, nici al fiintei..." Xander kept on going, channeling the magicks as Cordelia resisted the urge to grab her beloved and tell him to stop. She didn't want to be the one reason why the spell didn't work, after all. "Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transporta, sufletul la el!"


The mansion atrium

6:15 am

Angelus played a little with his sword, idly pointing it at a defenseless Buffy on the ground. She looked up at him, frightened. "Now that's everything, huh?" he asked.

Angelus taunted her with the sword. "No weapons...no friends...no hope." The vampire grinned, truly an evil soulless thing to be dusted on sight. "Take all that away...and what's left?" He thrust the sword right at her face.

However, Buffy's hands come up at the last possible moment to catch the blade between her palms. An old trick that Merrick had taught her she was capable of. "Me."

The Slayer shoved the blade away from her, and the hilt of the sword hit Angelus right in the face. Cursing, the vampire staggered back, and Buffy hopped to her feet and kicked him in the chest. Angelus stumbled back even more, giving her time to get her sword.

The Slayer swung it around and thrust at him, but he managed to parry the blow. They exchanged several more blows, blocking each other. Buffy then spun around and swung her sword down at Angelus from above. He held up his own weapon to block, but she hit it hard and he fell to one knee. The girl swung again, and again the male vamp blocked it. Buffy spun around with a roundhouse kick to his side, and the walking corpse then quickly collapsed to the ground.

Buffy kicked Angelus again, hard, releasing some pent-up frustration and he went flying through the busted doorway. The vamp hit the floor not far away and rolled to a stop. Before he could get all the way back to his feet though, Buffy leaped in and swung her sword at him. Angelus almost missed deflecting the blow, and had to step back to get his footing. They exchanged a few more swings, but then Angelus missed a block and got badly sliced on his hand.

Growling, the soulless demon dropped his sword and held his deep cut. Buffy didn't waste time though, and did a vicious high kick to his face. The vampire fell backward into the statue of Acathla, and landed on his knees before her.


The hospital room

The same time

The table lurched hard, as Xander grabbed it firmly. "Asa sa fie! Asa sa fie! Acum!" he called out. "Acum!"

The Orb glowed brightly for a brief moment and then went dark, reuniting its cargo with its corporeal vessel. Xander's body suddenly relaxed, and from the terrible strain of his exertions fell unconscious back onto the bed.

"Xander!" Cordelia yelled in sheer terror, as she saw him collapse. "NO! Xander! Oz - call a doctor!"


The main area of the mansion

6:17 am

Buffy raised her sword to finally dispatch Angelus, but stayed her hand when he suddenly gasped loudly and groaned in pain.

The young woman saw his eyes glow bright orange for an instant, and go back dark. The ensouled vampire looked up at her, but quickly collapsed to the floor in pain. Buffy stared down at him, but still held her sword raised behind her - in case this was another trick.

Angel raised himself back up, his eyes heavy with tears, and looked into her eyes. "Buffy?" he said uncertainly. "What's going on? I feel so..."

She just looked at him, confused but not yet ready to lower the sword. Angel looked around a bit and got to his feet. "Where are we? I-I don't remember..."

Finally Buffy realized that the curse might have been carried out, and she slowly lowered her sword. "Angel?"

The vampire was about to reply, when he saw a wound that Angelus had caused her. "You're hurt..."

Buffy looked down at her wound and felt his gentle touch on her arm. She ignored her cut, looking back up at him and stepping closer. Angel simply embraced her tightly, happy to be with the woman he loved.

"Oh, Buffy...God," Angel said, as they continued to hug awkwardly. "I...I feel like I haven't seen you in months. Everything's so muddled. I..." He held her even more closely.

Tears formed in Buffy's eyes, as she sensed without a doubt that it really was Angel now that she was holding. (Oh my God, Xander, thank you...)

But a low rumble caused her to open her eyes again. She stared in awed shock, as the portal to Hell that Angelus had been able to open during the fight had grown bigger. Much bigger. Large enough to suck them in now. Thus Buffy let go of Angel, and looked up into his face.

Angel was very confused. "What's happening?"

Buffy whispered reassuringly to him, "Shh. Don't worry about it." She leaned in and kissed him deeply, for the last time. Not sure what was going on, Angel simply returned the kiss wholeheartedly.

Then Buffy suddenly broke off, just as she was about to lift her sword to stab Angel - like Whistler had warned her might be necessary. As she'd felt the cold blood dripping onto her skin, from his cut palm.

"Buffy?" he asked, unsure.

"The sword!" the Slayer said frantically, as she picked up the weapon of the ancient knight that had stopped Acathla hundreds of years ago. The same one Angelus had used to open the portal. She found it where it had fallen, and grabbing it she grabbed Angel's hand as well.

"Hurry! Smear your blood, like, all over the blade!" Buffy ordered Angel at once.

Angel had no idea what this was about, but did as ordered anyway. After the metal got covered in his dark lukewarm blood, Buffy took it and rushed over to the ever-expanding and glowing portal. Angel was utterly shocked when he saw the circular disk, but said nothing as Buffy went to the edge of it and hurled the wet blade into the portal.

A large explosion of light and sound knocked both of them off their feet, and blinded the duo for a moment. As his vision came back to him, Angel got up and helped Buffy to her feet. "Can you please give me a clue here?" he asked her. "I don't-"

"Hold on!" Buffy said firmly, as she looked over to Acathla. Luckily the demon's mouth was back to being closed, and the form again looked like inactive stone. The knight's sword sticking out from its chest proved that the deadly demon was sealed again.

"I've seen that thing before..." Angel said in confusion. "I just don't know where!" He looked to his girlfriend. "Was I gone for a while?"

"You could say that," Buffy said, truly not sure what to do now. Then her body told her what to do, as she indulged in another long kiss with her soul mate - one of relief, rather than passion though.


Room 314, Sunnydale General Hospital, Sunnydale

Thursday May 14th, 1998

8:24 am


The cheerleader looked up from her chair to see Giles come over, with several bandages on him. "Has there been any change?" the Watcher asked.

"No," the girl replied, upset. "The big dummy is still in that damn coma!" She suddenly growled, "So. Are Buffy and...HIM together right now?"

"No," the Watcher replied wearily and in pain. "Angel is back at his apartment, as far as I know. Apparently, he either couldn't or wouldn't face any of us, after he started to remember all the things Angelus did for the last four months. And Buffy slept at my house last night. Later today, we have to meet with Mrs. Summers to explain all this..."

"And prove that her daughter isn't a complete nut job? Well, technically?"

"Yes," Giles sighed at the tactless and bitter question. (Try not to take it personally, she's very worried about Xander after all!) "Look, you should go home and get some rest, there's not much you can do here at the moment-"

"Hell, no!" the cheerleader replied angrily to that. "We both know from Buffy's little adventure here back in March, that vampires can just come on in and munch on anyone they choose. No way am I leaving my boyfriend in here all alone, for that to happen!"

"It's eight in the morning, for heaven's sake," Giles told her in semi-annoyance. "And I can keep an eye on the boy. Go home and at least shower and change, before nightfall. I'll stay here with him till Willow and Oz come."

Cordelia mulled it over. "Well, uh, I do want to look good for him when the big doofus finally comes out of it..." She looked back up to the Watcher. "Okay, deal. But if you so much as even have to go to the bathroom, call me so I can-"

"Ahem," Giles cleared his throat, as he pointed to the wash closet in the room.

"Oh...right," Cordelia replied sheepishly. Before she got up and said, "Okay, I'm outta here. But I'll be back soon. And call me if he wakes up!" Then Cordelia imperiously strode out of the room, to the Watcher's tremendous relief.

Ms. Chase's company was only good in small doses, after all.


The Council chambers of the Elders, the realm of the whitelighters

The same time

"Thank you for coming so quickly," Gideon told the female whitelighter.

"I felt it best, after receiving your summons," Carissa said simply. "Can I assume this means I'll be getting a new charge?"

"Yes," Gideon told her simply, as he walked around the center table. "One has come to our attention that must be trained with...well, great care."

"Then why me?" the woman asked, again going for bluntness. "As I recall, my ability to properly guide a charge was called into serious question back then. Both by you, and almost all the other Elders."

Gideon nodded, recalling those events with Penelope Halliwell years ago. "Granted. But while some still share that concern, most of us feel that your youth may work to our advantage in this particular situation."

The female who would always appear 17 years old frowned at hearing that. "I take it you actually mean my looks, given I've been dead ever since 1862?"

"Physical appearance is one thing. But your youthful mindset also will come in handy here," Gideon told his one-time prize pupil. The Elder waved his hand and a magical portal appeared - showing young Xander in his hospital bed, surrounded by his friends. "This is Alexander Harris, but he prefers to go by Xander. He is a new witch, who has only recently come into his powers."

"What happened to him?" Carissa asked.

"He's currently in a coma," the Elder informed her. "To save the world from being sucked into Hell, he had to perform a magical rite well beyond his current capability. In a nutshell, he ensouled a vampire."

The angel looked at the Elder in shock. "You mean, the young fool actually forced a human soul into the body of a demon?" When Gideon nodded, the female whitelighter looked disgusted. "Well, now I've heard everything..."


Room 314, Sunnydale General Hospital, Sunnydale

Later that night

Everyone looked up in alarm, as two forms magically appeared into the hospital room.

"Demon!" Buffy yelled on autopilot and charged forward, only to find herself hovering three feet above the floor. "Hey!"

"Please don't be alarmed," the older male told her in a soothing voice, and as an aside to the rest of the Scooby gang as well. "The fact is that we're all on the same side here, believe it or not."

"You're not human!" Buffy said crossly, as she hovered in mid-air.

"My kind can do things normal mortals cannot do, that's true enough," Gideon replied evenly. "But then so can you, Ms. Summers. Does this automatically mean that you're not human as well?"

Buffy looked rather taken aback by that, so Giles answered for her. "Buffy is the Slayer, she-she has a higher calling - she was mystically empowered to protect humanity...but what of yourselves?"

Gideon lowered his hand and Buffy returned down to the ground at the same time. "Please believe me when I say we come in peace. I am Gideon, an Elder. And my companion here is Carissa, a whitelighter...what some might call a guardian angel."

Giles looked at him in surprise. "A, a whitelighter? It's said they 'orb' with the appearance of white lights...just as you two did, a moment ago?"

Cordelia, who had instantly taken her place between the new people and Xander, looked to the Watcher. "Giles, time out. Exactly who or what's an Elder and a whitelighter?"

"What she said," Buffy said crossly, unable to get past how easily she had been neutralized just now...even if it was the hands of a friendly party. The Slayer essence did tend to have that sort of effect on its host, after all.

Giles looked to all his young students, adjusting his glasses. "Well. Um. Granted, th-this isn't my area of expertise, of course, but from what I've heard - the Elders are said to be the guardians of good magic in the mortal world, and their whitelighters are assigned to good witches to guide and protect them. They're the, uh, the glue that keeps the magic world working, apparently."

"Well put, Mr. Giles," Gideon nodded approvingly to the other man. "And what you may not know is that ever since the beginning, we have also been charged with keeping the forces of the Source at bay."

"The Source?" Giles demanded, his eyes going wide. "Good Lord, he's actually real?"

"Indeed he is."

Buffy looked at Giles in consternation at his tone. "Source?"

"The Source of All Evil," Giles told her, looking pale. "Next to the Devil himself, he's-he's rumored to be the most malignant being in existence-"

Buffy growled. "And I didn't know this, why? Geez, Watcher mine, I can't slay them if I don't know about them!"

"Buffy," Giles replied very seriously, causing his Slayer to look at him again. "Listen to me very carefully. If the rumors are true - then you, or any other Slayer for that matter, would stand no chance of defeating or vanquishing the Source. The, the Master and Angelus are like ants, compared to him. Odds are he'd kill you with just a thought...and that's a best-case scenario, if he was feeling in a good mood!"

"I'm afraid your mentor is quite correct, Ms. Summers," Gideon said, noting Buffy's suddenly-pale features. "It is not impossible to destroy the Source, but you were gifted to fight the lesser members of the demon world, such as vampires. Not the entities like him."

"What do you mean, lesser demons?" Willow asked, instinctively moving near Oz.

"Here on the Hellmouth, you have been dealing with the many different nonhuman types of demons," Gideon said. "The witches under the aegis of the Elders have to deal with both them, and the more upper-level demons. And many of them are very much human in appearance."

"So why are you here?" Buffy wanted to know. "And who's the silent blond again?"

"As I said, this is Carissa and she's a whitelighter," Gideon said. "And she is present here, because she has been assigned to your friend Alexander Harris."

"Assigned?" Cordelia demanded. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" she wanted to know, as the rich young woman checked out the tall and attractive blond girl as competition. (That's all I need. It's bad enough Willow and Buffy are constantly hanging around my boyfriend, but now I have to keep an eye out for this one too?)

Carissa stepped forward. "My job is to watch over and help guide Xander to become a good witch." She smirked a little, "And don't worry, it's very much against the rules for a whitelighter to ever get involved with a charge whilst guiding him or her onto the proper path."

"But Xander's already a good guy," Willow said to that.

"Yes, that he is," Gideon said. "But his latest spellcasting was a soul curse. And he invoked extremely dark magicks in order to do perform it! To perform such a spell at such a young age is...very dangerous. If left unchecked, he could fall more and more deeply onto the path of darkness - till it's too late to save him..."

"No way, that won't happen. I'll kick Xander's ass the moment he starts anything in that direction!" Cordelia said firmly, as Buffy instantly looked guilty as hell. "But y'know, he's in a coma at the moment..."

"Of that I am well aware, Ms. Chase," Gideon replied. "It is yet another reason why Carissa and I are here, now." He slowly walked over to the side of Xander's bed. "To be sure young Mr. Harris stays on the path of good, we must aid him to do so."

"And we do that, how?" Buffy asked him.

"I've already cast a ward on his soul, but that's only a temporary half-measure I'm afraid - thus, something a bit more...extreme...is ultimately necessary."

"What?" Giles, Buffy, Willow, Cordy and Oz all echoed at the same time.

"It is an ancient ritual, almost forgotten in this modern era," the Elder said calmly, looking around. "We must anchor his soul with that of another person, one close to him."

"How will that help?" Giles asked, getting even more worried.

Gideon told him simply, "It'll make sure that he'll never go evil."

The beauty queen looked incredibly impatient with all the vagueness that was this conversation. "Okay, look. Can you explain all that in detail, and in non-magic English, for the rest of us?" Cordelia asked.

Gideon sighed, trying to be patient with annoying child himself. "In the simplest possible language? The ritual is a magic spell that will bind the essence of Mr. Harris with that of another human being. It is where the term 'soul mates' originally came from," he told her. "They will almost literally become as one, in two bodies."

"Wow! That really sounds kinda romantic," Willow smiled, indulging in a bit of emotionality.

Rupert didn't appear to share her enthusiasm. "And just who did you have in mind for this, this...anchoring?" Giles asked.

"The one closest to Mr. Harris."

"Me?" Willow said at once, as she stepped forward. Oz followed her at once of course, as the redhead momentarily glanced at him. "You want to bind him to me? Uh, but I already kinda have a boyfriend though-"

"Not you, Ms. Rosenberg," Gideon told the redhead.

Relief was mingled with surprise and disappointment, oddly enough. "Huh? Uh, why not?" Willow asked at once. "I've known Xander ever since we ran naked through the sprinklers in my backyard, when we were five..."

"Yes..." Gideon replied to that, shaking his head at the unnecessary visual. "But while you are his closest friend, this spell-" He hesitated for a moment, before looking at Cordelia. "Well, my information on Ms. Chase says she values the blunt honest truth?"

"You bet, pal!"

The Elder kept his gaze on the cheerleader. "So be it. The thing is, this spell does have a sexual element to it."

"What!" Willow's eyes bulged out. "You mean, you...you want Xander to lose his virginity to Cordelia?"

"Not that it's really any of our business - but the boy's already lost his virginity to her, Ms. Rosenberg," Gideon said, as the Chase girl glared at the hacker for the implied insult. "Apparently, they've been sexually active for over a month now."

"What!" Willow yelped again, a little too loudly. Oz and Buffy just stared at her, and immediately the redhead blushed and looked down. (Okay, okay, okay. Calm down. You're with Oz now, remember? And it's not like Xander's ever really noticed how you're a girl, with girl parts! If Cordy makes him happy...and oh, major ewww to that! Well, you just gotta deal...)

"You watched us?" Cordelia demanded of Gideon, ignoring Willow this time and looking more than a little creeped out.

"No, Ms. Chase," Gideon replied, taking a step backwards despite everything from the look on her face. "Because I don't spend my time watching people engaged in that sort of thing, I'm hardly what you might call a 'peeping tom'! One of our seers informed us of your activities, but did not give any details."

"Let me just say, trés yuck!" Cordelia said, upset. "Don't you people have any idea what the word 'privacy' means?"

"Getting back to the spell," Gideon said semi-hopelessly, with the first twinges of a headache appearing. "Let me just say that I can assure you that the...act...will not be watched by me, or anyone else associated with me."

Cordelia looked as if she didn't get it. "So all I have to do is make love to my boyfriend, and we get joined at the hip?"

"Well, not in the literal sense of course," Carissa replied, finally speaking up again. "But you will both be more connected than you were before. What one feels, the other will also feel - till death do you part." She nodded to Carissa, as Cordelia's eyes went wide at all the implications of that.

Without a word, the whitelighter then went over to the bed and held her hands above Xander's head.

"My word!" Giles said in amazement, as Carissa's hands shone with a golden glow. "You really can heal him?"

"Ohh," Xander moaned as he woke up. "That spell sucked..." He then stopped as he saw the two new faces. "Hey, everyone. Ah, did I miss something?"

"Only the world getting saved!" Cordelia said anxiously, as she raced over and gave him a deep kiss. "You are SO lucky you just got out of a coma, or I would smack you upside the head for scaring me like that!"

"Cordelia? He's fully healed of any and all injury," Carissa told her casually.

"Oh, really?" Cordy asked with a smirk. "Good!" she then said, before the female teen gave Xander a light smack on the back of the head. "And just so you know, you're now under a 'no more comas' rule, mister!"

"'Kay," Xander replied warily as she helped him up, and Buffy and Willow rolled their eyes. "I take it we won?"

"Giles and Angel are back, thanks to you," Buffy told him, as she thanked her male pal from the bottom of her heart.

Xander just shrugged, even though deep down he grimaced at the concept that Captain Hairgel was back in all his broodiness. "All in a day's work, Buff-"

"And that is precisely why we are here, Mr. Harris," Gideon said as he cut in.

Xander looked up at his girlfriend. "Wanna fill me in, Cor?"

"Bottom line? We have to have sex tonight. Or else you might eventually go evil," Ms. Chase said with a smile.

Xander looked at her, very shocked. "Okay, obviously I have to fall into a coma more often..."

"HEY! You do not get to break my rules!" Cordelia told him crossly, as Carissa rolled her eyes this time at the duo's antics. "Break them, and I won't let you do-" She then whispered something in his ear.

"No more comas!" Xander said quickly, his eyes wide. "I swear, from this point on - I am so no longer Coma Guy!"


No. 4 Parkview, Sunnydale

Friday May 15th, 1998

12:07 am

Xander sat on Cordelia's bed, somewhat tired and thinking about the past.

He had quickly been discharged from the hospital, after Giles had made the necessary arrangements. Cordelia had then taken him home in her car, and the two whitelighters had met up with them here at the Chase mansion.

Cordy had then decided to do it. Share her essence, that is, after Gideon and Carissa had explained in detail all the repercussions of this vitally important decision. And luckily, the duo had been subtle enough not to ask why Xander was here instead of the Harris residence, just doing their jobs and then vanishing in a way-cool cloud of blue-white lights.

It was kinda odd though how lately, this place had started feeling more like 'home' to Xander than the house where his parents lived. Cordelia knew why, of course, she was the only one who did - given how she was the only member of the Scoobies who had actually met his parents, in recent times.

But in any case, he was here now. And soon, Xander knew he was going to have sex.

With Cordelia Chase.

The notion was still so new and somewhat thought-provoking that at times, the young man wasn't sure whether or not he was dreaming. After all, it hadn't been all that long ago that he had been hopelessly lusting after Buffy's derriere...

(But that was never meant to be,) Xander suddenly realized. (Much as I hate to admit it, and as much as I hated HIM for it at the time, Angel was always the one Buffy had her heart set on. Even if big smoochies with the walking dead was a big fat mistake, which of course I knew right from the start!)

Well, be that as it may, that humiliating sexy dance at the Bronze had cost Buffy Xander's romantic affections last year and almost his friendship as well. Even if it had been the start of Cordelia's interest in him.

Ever since Halloween '97, Xander knew now that Ms. Chase had started eyeing him differently. His no-nonsense, take-charge attitude that night was like a glimpse into the future of what kind of man Harris would become; and deep down Cordelia had liked what she'd seen, a lot.

Not that they'd stopped fighting, of course. Parent-Teacher Night, Eyghon, and the Tarakan Worm-Assassin Guy...he and his girlfriend had been ready to kill each other, more than once. But good ol' Norman the Bug Man had undeniably been the catalyst for Xander Harris and Cordelia Chase entering a newer, more...pleasant sort of fighting.

It hadn't been all smooth sailing since then though, to be sure. Xander still had nightmares about every woman in Sunnydale, alive or undead, wanting to make him her cuddle monkey around three months ago. (What the heck was I thinking then? And why the hell didn't Amy just say no, when I asked her to help me with that stupid love spell?)

Indeed, that was no doubt a mystery for the ages. But ever since then, as Gideon had said not long ago...he and Cordelia had become lovers. Which was a unique event, in the entire infinity of the multi-dimensional universe.

Cordy's parents hadn't been pleased when they'd learned the news, though. In fact, they'd threatened to disown Cordelia and throw her out onto the streets if she didn't break up with Xander at once. Not surprisingly, Harris had lost control of his temper for a moment...

And a vase had lifted itself up off the table, flying into the air and narrowly avoiding smashing directly into the face of Charles Chase, esquire.

Although just as shocked as everyone else, Xander had assumed responsibility for the act and admitted that he was a male witch to his stunned girlfriend's parents. And he'd been just about to leave, when the Chases had told him to wait up.

After a long conversation, during which Mr. and Mrs. Chase had finally satisfied themselves that he was nothing like his father, Xander had eventually been welcomed into their home. And thus, he was almost on a first-name basis with the duo nowadays. Not that Harris would ever dare call those two anything but "sir" and "ma'am" for a long time to come, if he knew what was good for him.

A sudden knock on the patio doors to Cordelia's bedroom disrupted the youth's mental musings, as Xander got up off the bed and went to see who it was. And his eyes narrowed at once, when he recognized just who and what it was that had come to visit.


"Well, well, well. Look who's here! Y'know, I wish I could say this was such a big shock and all, Deadboy, but then I knew you'd come looking for me - sooner or later! Okay, I am kinda surprised that you'd have the nerve to show your face at Cordy's house of all places, but then Willow's the big brain of our group - not me..."

"Xander," Angel said slowly. "Buffy told me you were in a coma. I should've known my good luck wouldn't last long."

Despite himself, Xander momentarily grinned at that one. Then he frowned, "So what are you doing here, anyway?"

"You cursed me with a soul. That's not the kind of present you just send a card or a gift box as a reply."

Harris raised his eyebrows at the vampire's statement. "You came here to thank me for it? Or try to rip out my still-beating heart?"

Angel shrugged. "You can't exactly invite me in for the second option, as I'm pretty sure you know-"

"Damn right I do! And just for the record, I plan NEVER to invite a vampire into my home. Soul or no soul, it's too darn dangerous!" Xander snapped out.

"I agree. And thanks for reminding me, you should tell Buffy to do the de-invite ritual on her house - just in case Spike ever comes back."

Xander suddenly stared at his 'acquaintance', for lack of a better word. "And the reason you can't do it is...?"

Angel suddenly had a hopeless look of despair on his Irish features. "Because I can't be around Buffy anymore. Not now, and maybe not ever. It's...too dangerous. All it'd take is just one unguarded moment with her, and I can't ask you to go through all that again - just for me...look, Harris, I just wanted to say thank you for doing what you did. Not for my sake, but for Buffy's. She was ready to kill Angelus, and I think we both know how that might have destroyed her - in everything but the physical sense. I owe you one for that, so I'll be seeing you around to pay you back - one day. Somehow."

Xander blinked, and in that moment Angel vanished without a sound. Staring stupidly at the empty balcony, Xander finally closed the patio doors and stepped back into Cordelia's bedroom.

Only to find himself in the presence of what most boys at Sunnydale High would gladly kill or die for.

And that was Cordelia Chase, removing her silk bathrobe to show how she was wearing literally nothing underneath.

The sight of the nude female teen was enough to instantly hoist Xander's mainsail, so to speak, and the brunette young woman smiled at the effect her body was having on her boyfriend. But then she settled down, and quickly went about her business removing his clothes...

And all things considered, it was probably lucky that Cordelia's parents were at their lakeside summer home right now, because no father in his right mind would have been able to ignore the screams of ecstasy and passion coming from his daughter's bedroom for the rest of the night.


A sidewalk in downtown Sunnydale

The same time

"You okay, Willow?" Buffy asked, while the two girls walked.

"Oh, just peachy!" Willow replied. "I sooo do not want to think of what Xander is doing with Cordelia right now!"

"Well, you're the one that had to eavesdrop to hear about that part of it," Buffy told her with a slight grin.

"But I didn't think I would hear THAT!" Willow cringed. "Xander and Cordy having sex, with symbols drawn with each other's blood on them? Ewwww! Who makes this stuff up anyway, I ask you?" She shook her head. "I love Xander like a brother, but blood rituals, rune casting, maybe going evil? I wouldn't trade places with him for anything!"


The library, Sunnydale High

Later that morning

"Ah, isn't it just such a glorious day, I ask you?" Cordelia beamed in delight, as she came through the double doors in her extra-special designer clothes.

"Well, someone looks happy!" Buffy joked as she saw her so-called friend's look. "Must have been a good night, huh?"

"The best ever!" Cordelia said happily, as she sat down at the table.

"I don't know if I even want to ask how the spell went," Willow said hesitantly from her chair.

Cordelia gave her a smile. "It wasn't the sex...thing is, the spell kicked in about mid-way, and suddenly I just felt all his emotions!"

"You did?" Buffy asked, surprised. "So, like, can you read Xander's mind now?"

"No," Cordelia replied. "I..." After a pause, she looked at both blond and redhead. "Okay, look, you both know that Xander wasn't my first. I wasn't a slut or anything, but I wasn't a virgin either. But last night..."

"Yeah?" Buffy prodded her.

"Well - most guys I've known didn't really care about me, just how I filled out my cheerleader uniform," the brunette told her. "But all of a sudden, last night I felt everything Xander feels for me. And let me tell you..." she trailed off as a tear formed. "I never before felt so much love that I know wasn't faked!"

"That's good for you, Cordy," Buffy said, but with a slightly morose air. (At least one of us is happy!)

"Where's Xander now?" Willow asked, wanting to change the subject. As descriptions of Xander and sex were something she wanted to avoid on general principles these days.

"Oh, he'll be along soon," Cordy replied. "Him and Carissa were having a chat. I guess some things between a witch and their whitelighter are privileged, kinda like a shrink."

"And that doesn't bother you?" Willow wondered.

Cordelia shook her head. "Honestly? After what I felt last night, he could even shower naked with her and it wouldn't faze me." Her face then gave them a familiar old Chase smirk. "Not that that would ever happen, of course - if he doesn't want me to castrate him!"


The Bronze, Sunnydale

Friday June 5th, 1998

Buffy Anne Summers was not in a good mood.

It was summer vacation now, school was over and vampire activity had bottomed out as usual - since the days had started to become so very long, and many people even left town for a while. And while that was fine for the rest of Sunnydale, it wasn't fine for Buffy - as she didn't have as many opportunities anymore to take out her frustrations on the undead community.

Because Angel had left her.

The big jerk had given her a horrible breakup speech while they'd been in the sewers hunting for some big nasty, and the Slayer had forced the issue of why he'd been avoiding her - even after she'd called Angel for help. Buffy hadn't been able to believe it, even though the memories of what Angelus was capable of doing had been indelibly embedded into her brain...

On account of deep down the young woman had believed that true love, the type of star-crossed romance she and her soul mate had shared...would conquer all.

Alas, but that was not to be. Angel had split town for LA, not long after it had been discovered Richard Wilkins the Mayor was a bad guy.

Buffy didn't know all the details, all she knew was that Giles had discovered Snyder had been in contact with the guy, Willow had dug up stuff on the computer, Xander had done some sort of 'revealing' spell after Carissa had informed him of what she knew - and Wilkins had later turned into bones and ashes, after whatever magic he'd been using to keep himself alive for over 100 years had been canceled out somehow.

(Eh, whatever. Guy couldn't have been that much of a big threat anyway, if he was defeated so easily,) Buffy had just shrugged to herself at the time. Besides, she'd had her own problems then...that lousy murder rap, and her mother's inability to deal with reality.

Still, those stupid criminal charges had quickly been taken care of by the Council. And Joyce Summers had finally come around, and the Chosen One was living at home again. Although Buffy didn't exactly like to remember what her mom's reaction had been, upon finding out that her daughter had lost her virginity to a vampire.

'Necrophilia' was such an ugly word, one cannot deny.

Luckily these days Buffy and Joyce had gotten past all that, even though the middle-aged woman had started badgering the Slayer's Watcher about removing her baby girl's burden from her somehow. And the news that Buffy had already died once had NOT put Joyce in a happy frame of mind, to be sure.

At that moment though, Buffy saw Xander and Cordelia entering the club hand in hand. The cheerleader was clearly dressed to the nines; a light blue Donna Karan dress, stylish hair, perfect nails, matching lipstick, and a pair of Gucci pumps that instantly made Buffy jealous! But Xander, on the other hand...

Well, the Chosen One hated to admit it, but her male friend's appearance almost defined the term 'loser'. That Salvation Army shirt, the faded jeans, and the scuffed shoes...the couple looked mismatched in every which way from the outfits they had on, and like they came from entirely different worlds.

With a mental shrug, Buffy tried imagining them without their clothes on, to see if the teen couple would appear to fit any better...

(EWW! AGHH! GROSS!) the Slayer instantly thought to herself in horror, banishing the mental image at once. (It's bad enough I know that Xander's having sex with her...)

As she watched Xander and Cordelia start to dance, Buffy quickly looked over to Willow - who was obviously watching Oz perform with his band up on stage in complete rapture. The blond frowned, (I still don't get it. Why the hell didn't Xander end up with Willow, the way he was supposed to?)

It was an old saying how the very powerful and very stupid have one thing in common; how they didn't alter their views to fit the facts, but rather tried to alter the facts to fit their views. Buffy had always believed in her heart that if she could just get Xander to wake up and smell the hottie that was his best friend, they'd live together happily ever after...

Then again, of course, this was the same person who'd believed that Angel and herself had been destined to be together forever - so Buffy's judgment in these matters wasn't exactly stellar in the eyes of any neutral observer.

Giving up her mental musings, the Chosen One made her way over to her best friend, and cringed at how loud the music was - Slayer hearing and all that. She dragged Willow away in order for them to have a chat - but then got the shock of her life, when the redhead told Buffy that Xander and Cordelia were soon going to leave Sunnydale. For good.



New Chase Manor located at Pacific Heights, San Francisco, California

Tuesday June 30th, 1998

Xander carefully set down the box in his new room, within his new home.

Everything had happened so very fast, it made him wonder what on earth was going to happen next. About six weeks ago the young man had been sure the world was going to end, but now it seemed as if the world was pretty much starting over for him.

Because after the Mayor's ass was toast, Xander had been emancipated from his parents and had left town with the Chases. It was amazing what a good lawyer and a sympathetic judge could do! Basically, even though it hurt a lot how he wouldn't be seeing Willow and Buffy every day anymore, Harris was still pretty happy over how he had finally gotten out of that house once and for all.

And since his drunk of a father had apparently already sold everything he'd left behind to buy more beer, c'est la vie.

After the junior Prom and things had slowed down in Sunnydale, it had been decided that Xander should move away from the Hellmouth to remove himself from all the negative vibes emanating from the damned place. When asked why the worry if that sex magic ritual had made sure he wouldn't go evil, Gideon had informed him that nothing in life is ever a certainty. Also, if his anchor Cordelia were turned evil somehow - then Xander would for sure follow suit not long after.

So after the meeting between the Elder and the Chase parents, it had been decided that they would all move away from the Hellmouth. It seemed that Mr. Chase had been planning on moving to San Francisco in about a year after Cordelia had graduated, anyway. His company's main headquarters had relocated there a couple of months ago, and it just made good business sense for this man (who had paid his taxes conscientiously every year) to finally ditch Sunnydale along with his family.

So now Xander Harris had his own room in a very old, but still very large manor in one of the more upscale areas of the city by the bay. And his bedroom was on the ground floor, one and a half floors from where Cordelia's new room was. Harris got the vibe that like any father, Mr. Chase didn't want to have his daughter's live-in boyfriend to be in the room right next door.

It was bad enough he knew that they'd had sex together!

Xander could understand that, and was coping as well as he could. Of course, leaving Sunnydale and his girls had also been damned hard, but Willow herself had told Xander he had to go and better himself and not end up like his dad. And also for some reason when San Francisco was picked as the city to move to, Gideon had seemed a little too happy. But at least the Elders had moved several older, trained witches and their whitelighters to Sunnydale to help Buffy guard the gateway to Hell.

"You look deep in thought there, buster," Cordelia said as she came into the room, and they kissed briefly. "I didn't think that was possible with you!"

Xander simply smiled as he looked back to her. "Believe it or not, Cor, my brain does think of things other than how awesome you look when you're naked..."

"Well, it shouldn't!" Cordelia teased, even though deep down she was pleased by the compliment.

"Just wondering what could change next," Harris told his girlfriend. "A new school that won't even have a obituaries section? Almost seems lame, in comparison."

"Hey, myself I say that's something for the good column!" Cordy replied as she adjusted the framed picture on the Sunnydale group on the dresser. She came over and took his hand. "Xander...come on. Time to go."

"Go where?" he asked.

Her face beamed. "We have two shoe stores less than four blocks away! I need to go restock."

"Oh God, no..." Xander whispered, wondering why the Lord hated him enough to have allowed this kind of upcoming torture to happen.

"Oh, God, yes!" Cordelia said as she pulled him into the hall. "And then we have to go shopping for an entire new wardrobe for you, y'know. Because there is no way in hell my boyfriend is going to show up at Baker High with me, and be immediately classified as a loser! And don't even bother to argue - you are SO not going to arrive at our new school in your...well, clothes, for want of a better word!"

(Maybe I should have stayed in Sunnydale. Because right now, a fully opened Hellmouth is looking more and more of a comfy hellish alternative!) "Well, uh, you're the fashion expert, so why don't you just go and I'll stay..." Xander started saying as he got dragged down the corridor.

However, he trailed off as they passed the open door to the study. "Oh my God!"

"Xander?" Cordelia stopped and asked, seeing the look on his face. "What's wrong..." Then she saw it. "Oh, that's new!"

Mrs. Chase shook her head, annoyed as she reached down and picked up the pillow from the floor. "Damn it!" She looked up and saw the two stunned teens looking at her. "What? This stupid pillow keeps falling..."

Xander didn't hear her, as he was more interested in the transparent ghost of a young girl pushing the pillow off the couch.


San Francisco, California

Friday November 6th, 1998

To: Hey Willow!

Dear Willow,

I know it's been awhile since I've emailed, and I'm sorry about that. But things have been weird around here. Well, weird for me anyway!

For one thing, the teachers at my new school actually help me with my schoolwork! I'm passing all my classes, even if it is only two months into senior year. Weird as, but without having to fight for my life every night in a cemetery or whatever, I can actually get my homework done on time. Cordy and I have even made our own little room for studying in the attic...

It's kinda freaky, though. Believe me, I do miss you helping me on the math stuff and everything.

Cordy tried out and made the varsity cheerleader squad for the football team (of course). But the strange thing is that since she's the new girl around here, she's not the team captain or even 'Queen C' anymore. And she's fine with that, can you believe it? Cordelia, no longer the most popular girl - and she doesn't care. You should really see her now that she doesn't have to hide behind her 'head bitch of Sunnydale High' persona.

She even got nominated for the Homecoming Court!

Cordelia's been trying to talk me into trying out for the swim team or the football team or something, but I have way too much to worry about right now with my magic training. Oh! And I have some big news there.

I have my own magic power now!

Carissa says that a few witches have a special and unique power that they get. And I, Xander Harris, have one! She tells me it's rare. It's called 'atmospheric manipulation'. I can make the air around me act like a kind of compressed air gun effect that I can shoot people with! So far I don't have much aim with it, but I've been told others with this power can even take out a brick wall...well, with loads of practice.

Huh. Maybe it first activated itself the day that vase nearly hit Cordy's father, and I outed myself as a witch to her parents? Well, whatever. All I know is I don't have to hide anything from them anymore, and that includes the fact that Cordy and I are probably gonna get married one day - due to this thing of us feeling each other's emotions all the time (and please stop screaming at the computer screen, Will! It'll give you an ulcer sooner or later).

Oh yeah, I've started my own 'Book of Shadows' too. Sounds extra-freaky, doesn't it? I have to tell you, I'm real nervous about encountering my first human-like demon. I don't wanna kill a human by mistake here! Besides, each one of them (and there are a lot) have their own potion needed to vanquish them. That was the nice thing about good old Sunnydale, a stake and a sharp axe was all you needed to take out the bad guys!

Oh, and remember when I told you how our new house is haunted? Well, we've come up with a truce with the two ghosts that seem to like living here with us in this old place. Apparently, they got killed in the home that used to be here that got destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. And even though Cordy and I are the only ones that can see or hear them, we set aside a room for them to hang out in - and it all looks copacetic, at least for the moment.

Well, guess that's all for now. Give my love to Buffy and her mom and Giles, whatever they're up to these days. How's my favorite Slayer doing, anyhow? Tell her I said to play nice with that new Slayer named Faith, anyway, because don't think I've forgotten what the Buffster was like when Kendra showed up way back when - God rest her soul...

And if Angel ever comes back from LA - call me at once!

All my love,



Sunnydale High School Quad, Sunnydale, California

Monday February 1st, 1999

"What's up, Red?" Faith LeHane asked her friend on the other side of the table. "I mean, we did the whole 'save the world' thing last night, and even have the bruises to prove it!"

Willow just shrugged. "I'm just kinda scolding myself, I guess."

"You are?" Oz asked, cocking his head.

"What for?" the brunette Slayer asked. "You did good with that axe, backing up them super-witches-"

"You're thinking of Xander again, aren't you?" Buffy asked from the redhead's side, a knowing look on her face.

"Yeah, pretty much," Willow admitted. "I was just thinking that he would have loved to be here to help last night...but at the same time, for some reason, I'm really glad he's not here anymore. Last night was so..."

"Intense?" Oz asked.

"Yeah," Buffy told him. "And I was just thinking that myself, that Xander's probably better off out of the line of fire. Of Hellmouth-related demons, anyway!"

"We talkin' about the stud in that group picture you two gals have?" Faith asked, somewhat confused. "One day, I gotta meet this guy! But hey, I thought Harris was one of the super-witches himself?"

"He's going to be, one day," Giles said. "The boy needs training to become...whatever he'll eventually become. But here the supernatural energies are too malign, he needs to have an environment that's more...centered, I suppose you could say, to realize his potential."

"Hey guys," Jonathon Levinson said, as he came up to the table. "Bad night?" he asked quizzically, as he looked over their bruises.

"It was nothin', Johnny," Faith told her semi-sidekick as of late. "They came, they saw, and of course we kicked their asses for it!"

Willow looked up to him. "Boy, you're lucky you weren't at school last night Jonathon. It was crazed!"

Jonathon just shrugged. "Well, glad to know everything's okay," the boy replied as if nothing unusual had happened to him last night. "I'm gonna grab a snack. Anyone want anything?"

"I'm oddly full," Oz commented sagely.

"And I'll have to think about that one, boy toy. Ask me again later," Faith replied with a lewd grin as the short nerd left.

"Faith!" Willow demanded in horror, as her genius-level brain instantly made the connection. "Tell me you didn't!"

"What?" the dark-haired girl asked innocently. "He helped me out of a situation last night, and you know how I get whenever there's a big fight without a decent kill at the end..."

"Oh my God!" Buffy exclaimed. "I mean - Jonathon, Faith? He's only three feet tall!"

Again the junior Slayer smirked, "Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it B! Hell, that boy has a killer moped..."

"Could we possibly not speak of this right now?" Giles semi-demanded, as he felt a headache and an ulcer flare up.

A little distance away towards the cafeteria, Jonathon was spotted by another girl. "God! Get out of my way, ya big dork!" Harmony Kendall yelled, even though she'd walked to him. "What are you smiling about anyway, dweeb?"

Jonathon just ginned a little and shook his head, as he walked away from the annoying blond.

"Hey!" Harmony yelled. "I'm not done with you yet! Come back here!" When the boy didn't even acknowledge her, Harmony fumed. "God, ever since Cordelia started going out with the King of Dorks last year, they all think they can do as they damn well please..."

The cheerleader suddenly smirked at the thought of what her old 'friend' was currently up to. (Wonder where she is at the moment anyway, now that she's fallen in love with that...nerd? Maybe at a Star Trek convention...)


Chase Manor, San Francisco, California

The same time

"Come on, come on, move it!" Cordelia yelled, as they pushed Xander into the reinforced room. When everyone was in, she slammed the heavy metal door shut.

"Who the hell was that guy!" Xander demanded, as he looked around the old bomb shelter underneath his new home.

"The makeup salesman who dropped by not long ago. And I swear, he's gone nuts!" the 18-year-old girl named Alicia, who was Cordelia's friend and fellow cheerleader, told him.

Xander looked at the young black girl in shock. "Makeup salesman?" Looking over to his girlfriend in her blue and white cheerleading uniform, Harris demanded, "Tell me you didn't, Cordy? Not AGAIN?"

"Again?" Cordelia's mother wanted to know.

The young woman just squirmed under her boyfriend's gaze. "Well in my defence, what were the odds that another makeup guy would try to kill us? I mean, this isn't Sunnydale!"

Xander looked at her in disbelief, before he threw his hands in the air. "I do not believe this!"

"You mean this has happened before?" Mrs. Chase asked her daughter in confusion.

"Sorta," Cordelia grumbled. "But that guy was made out of bugs, a-and was some evil demon hit man..."

"Demon hit man!" Alicia stopped her. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Ah..." Cordelia smacked her forehead. "Can you just forget you heard that?"

Xander looked at his friend. "What the hell. Alicia, bottom line? Demons, magic, vampires and everything not so nice exists and seems to want to keep pissing me off!" Ignoring her disbelief he looked to Cordy. "So tell me, what exactly is this guy?"

"He threw one of those energy ball thingies at us," Xander's girlfriend told him, as their high school classmate continued to look on in disbelief. "He said he heard there was a nice rare power around here-"

"A warlock. Just great!" Xander sighed.

"Ah, and that is what exactly?" Mrs. Chase asked.

"Former witch that's gone over to the Dark Side of the Force," Xander told her briefly.

"And if they kill a good witch like Xander here, then they get his power," Cordelia finished.

"No one else is home, right?" Xander asked as he started to think.

"Just the ghosts," Cordy replied.

"Ghosts?" Alicia asked, sure that this had to be some sort of dream. Make that nightmare!

"Oh, don't worry," Cordelia told her. "They're like Casper, they're completely friendly...except when they keep flushing the toilet while someone's taking a shower!"

"Okay, let's get you guys to someplace safe," Xander said as he looked up and called out, "Carissa!"

A few moments passed and nothing happened, so Cordelia called for the whitelighter also. "Carissa, get your angelic dead butt down here!"

Again, nothing. After another long moment Cordelia turned to Xander, "What's the deal?"

"This guy might have the power to block our calls," Xander guessed. "I mean, if there's a witch then there's also sure to be a whitelighter somewhere. And he can't kill me if we just orb out..." Harris thought for a moment. "Okay, you guys stay here, I'll take care of this-"

"Like hell!" Cordelia replied to that. And her mother sent her a very sharp glance because of that.

Mrs. Chase had adapted to the knowledge of the real world by this time, ever since her daughter and her boyfriend had explained to herself and her husband the facts of life months ago. But what she still couldn't get a handle on was how her baby was so willing to risk her life like this.

(Add that to the fact that I know she wants to marry that boy one day, and it's...well, it's just not right! My little girl's grown up way too fast, it shouldn't be like this - she should have had years yet to date and go to college and get a job...but now she constantly wants to risk her neck fighting demons!)

"I know, Cor," Xander told Cordelia honestly, breaking Mrs. Chase's reverie. "But I have to learn how to do this on my own, or I won't last long at all."

Cordelia hated to admit it, but he was right. "Whatever, it's a moot point anyway, it's not like he's going to miss us!"

"Maybe. Or then again, maybe not," Xander said as he grabbed an empty cardboard box and drew a small quick sketch of the four floors of the manor.

"What are you doing, Xander?" Mrs. Chase asked the witch as he finished.

"It's a spell I've been working on," Xander answered, as he set the box in front of him. "Show us others' tracks, so that we may always watch our backs."

"How the hell-?" Alicia asked in amazement, as a small pair of footprints showed up in the sketch of the third floor. "What is that?"

"That's the bad guy," Cordelia told her. "He's in the library."

"Oh," Alicia replied as if magic was normal. Or else she had just accepted all this was a nightmare, and would just enjoy the ride till it was time to wake up. "So we just run out of here and let the police take care of this guy, right?"

"Wrong," Xander told her. "The SFPD can't handle someone like him, and besides we don't know what powers he already has. He could be like the Flash and beat us outside, be there ready and waiting to kill us all!"

"You know..." Mrs. Chase said speculatively, as the middle-aged blond woman looked at the quick drawing of the home's floor plan. "That looks very detailed...Xander, have you done this spell before?"

"No, ma'am," Harris answered quickly. "It's just I saw the plans in the old storage room recently...Willow back in Sunnydale wanted to know what the place looked like."

"I see," Mrs. Chase frowned.

Cordelia was very glad her mother couldn't see her face as she looked away. "First time I've seen it..." Of course, Ms. Chase wasn't going to tell her mother that this was the spell that she and her boyfriend often used, when they wanted to know if they could shag like mad bunnies in the house - without getting caught by her parents.

"Anyway," Xander said, "I'll sneak out and see what this guy's got." He ignored Cordelia's look as he thought for a moment. "But I don't want him finding you guys and using you as bait..."

Xander looked at them for a few moments, as he thought over the spells he knew. He then pointed at his companions, "Block these innocents from magic's sight and mind until the evil is gone."

"Aren't you supposed to rhyme?" Cordelia asked. When Xander didn't reply, she walked over to him. "Hello!" The brunette waved her hand in front of his face, but got no reaction.

"I guess that worked," Xander said to himself, as everyone else had apparently vanished.

"AHHH!" Alicia screamed in fear, as she looked into a mirror and did not see her reflection at all. "What's happened? Where am I?"

"It worked," Cordelia said as she tried to calm her friend down. "It's just to hide us for a while..."

"Here I go," Xander said before he opened the door and then closed it again behind him.

"Be careful, Xander!" Cordelia said to the closed door as her mother gave her a comforting hug.


Main Foyer, Chase Manor

A few moments later

"Well, now, there you are!"

Xander was catapulted off his feet by a small energy ball nailing him in the chest. He flew back and into the wall, destroying a small end table and lamp. "Well, that hurt!" the witch said, as he groggily climbed out of the wreckage.

"That was the whole point, boy!" the warlock said as it picked Harris up by his neck. "I didn't want to kill you...yet!"

"I...know," Xander got out.

"Oh," the warlock said, toying with him. "And how is that?"

He got his answer by being flung back through the length of the room and into a couch, flipping it over as Harris used his power to shove the evil thing away.

"You can't get my power if you kill me from a distance!" Xander called, as he ducked a stronger energy ball.


The Bomb Shelter

The same time

"No!" Mrs. Chase told her daughter as she grabbed Cordelia's arm, just as the girl was about to charge out of the room. "The best thing we can do is stay put."

Cordelia shook her head. "Listen to that!" she told her mother. "Mom, my boyfriend could be getting himself killed up there!"

(God help us, but there's no doubt about it - she's almost acting as if they're a married couple, already!) "I know, dear. But this isn't our battle. We just have to trust in Xander's abilities," Mrs. Chase consoled her.


The Sitting Room

The same time

Xander ducked behind the wall, just as an energy ball singed the edges. He was wracking his brain on how to stop this guy, but coming up empty. The way a spell vanquish worked was that the spellcaster had to have more power than the target. But this guy had a lot more power than he did.

(Think, damn it!) Harris thought to himself. (Because I did not survive 17 years on the Hellmouth just to die at the hands of my first warlock!)

"Come on out, you coward!" the warlock yelled out. "At least die like a man!"

(Come on...think. Think!) Xander thought desperately, trying to get a clue as the warlock got closer. So the guy did the only thing that popped into his head, he started to build his magic power.

"Well, well, well," the warlock said a minute later, as he came around the corner. "Hiding like a scared child, are we? You young witches just aren't much sport now, are you...oh well!"

Xander just stared up at him intently, his mind focused on his power. He didn't even notice his nose was starting to bleed a little.

"Time to die, witch!" the warlock suddenly growled in an inhuman voice, as he created an energy ball in his hand. As he threw it however, the outcome was not what he was expecting.

The thing was that Xander's power so far had been directional, the boy had tried to use it like a bullet or crossbow bolt against his enemies. But that wouldn't help him here, that was pretty obvious.

So this time, he tried to spread it out all around him. If this worked, then Xander knew he owed Stan Lee a drink. He copied the Fantastic Four comic he'd read, and tried his best to make an invisible shield of thick air all around him.

Harris was fighting with everything he had the instinct to move or try to catch the ball, burying himself in the magic power as the energy ball flew at his head...and suddenly stopped in mid-air, as if it was caught in a web.

"What the-?" the warlock demanded, as Xander thrust his right arm underneath the deadly ball but never actually touching it. The former witch yelled as his own weapon came back at him, and nailed him full in the chest.

"AGHHHHH!" he yelled, as the bad guy was engulfed in flames and vanished.

Xander was in no mood to celebrate, the blood now hemorrhaging out of his nose from the effort required to save his own life. He collapsed unconscious, and down in the bomb shelter Cordelia felt it - as the agony engulfed him and the young man passed out.

"CARISSA!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, before dropping to the floor herself - out cold thanks to the bond she shared with the male witch.


First floor Living Room, Chase Manor

Twenty minutes later

Xander awoke with a groan on the couch. And as he opened his eyes, he saw several women looking down at him. "Well, that was fun," the male teen said sarcastically as he sat up.

"Yeah, loads!" Cordelia sighed as she sat next to him. "I always wanted to pass out on a hard concrete floor!"

"Sorry," Harris replied. "But I didn't have time to think of anything else-"

"Well, you should have!"

Xander looked up to see a curly-haired woman standing next to Carissa. "Excuse me? Who the hell are you?"

"This is Natalie," Carissa told him, annoyed and not hiding it very well. "Unlike me, she's what some call a 'proper' whitelighter."

"And a bitchy one," Cordelia added.

Natalie shook her head in annoyance, ignoring her colleague and the annoying twerp of a female mortal. "You should have been trained on how to deal with such things by now. With the activation of the Charmed Ones in this area, many demons and warlocks are going to come here!"

"The who?" Xander asked.

Carissa held up her hands in mock awe. "The prophesized most powerful witches on the planet."

"Right," Xander sighed. "So since these über-witches are around now...the rest of us just get all their warlock leftovers?"

"Most likely," Natalie said simply. "The Elders said that warlock most likely wanted to get your power to help in defeating the Charmed Ones."

"So this will happen again?" Mrs. Chase asked, worried.

Natalie gave Carissa a hard look before she answered, "It's possible, and even very likely, but at least Mr. Harris here did one thing right. And that was getting you others out of the line of fire-"

"Oh, will you just shut up about that already! The superiority act is getting damned annoying!" Cordelia demanded, as she got up to face the woman.

"How dare you talk to me like that!" Natalie looked at her in surprise and no little scorn, as Mrs. Chase looked apprehensive. "If you want your boyfriend here to make it to age twenty-one..."

"He will, believe me!" Cordelia replied. "He knows I would kill him if he died on me."

"I'm in awe of your logic," Natalie told her curtly. "Hard to believe you're a cheerleader, hmm?"

"Let me guess," Cordelia smirked. "You were in the AV club?"

"They didn't exactly have that kind of stuff around when I was in school," Natalie told her.

"It was that long ago?" Cordelia said, amused. "Well, I guess that explains the clothes and hair, if nothing else!"

When Clarissa choked down a snicker at that, Natalie looked at her. "Do you find something funny?"

"Well, you must admit, the girl DOES have a point," the young blond replied. "You look like an 80's news anchor in that outfit..."

"Why the Elders put YOU in charge of this boy will no doubt always remain a mystery to me," Natalie sighed, then looked back to Xander. "Look, don't get me wrong, you did well in destroying the enemy. But from what the Elders said, it was more a case of last minute good luck than anything else! That's why I think it would be best if you move to Magic School..."

"Well, I'm kind of still in high school," Xander told her.

"You have a rare gift with your magic power," Natalie told him. "For the greater good, you should transfer to Magic School right away!"

"Uh, I'll think about it," Harris finally replied.

"What?" the female whitelighter couldn't believe this young whippersnapper was basically ignoring her wise advice on what was best for him to do.

When Harris just looked at her funny, Natalie just 'hmphed' and orbed out.

"I just knew she was gonna throw in that 'greater good' thing somehow," Carissa said in semi-despair, as she sat next to Xander. "But don't worry about it, Xander, like Natalie said - you did good, you've gotten your warlock cherry popped now. And before I could give you the birds and bees talk..."

"HEY!" Cordelia said protectively, glad that Alicia wasn't here to witness this. Luckily, Carissa had hit her with the whitelighter dust and she was now living in ignorant bliss again.

Then the Chase girl automatically melted into Xander's side, as yet again her mother frowned over how those two were acting joined at the hip - almost.


Crestwood Cemetery, Sunnydale, California

Wednesday March 10th, 1999

"I can't believe you don't get the cravings, B!" Faith said almost as an aside, as she staked the last newbie vampire.

"Well, I'm not saying that I don't," Buffy replied, as she scanned the area for any more demons. "I just don't get them to the level that you apparently do." She looked back after finding no more bad guys. "But I guess this explains Kendra..."

"The Slayer before me?" Faith asked. "What about her?"

"She just seemed way too...repressed," Buffy admitted. "When she met Xander for the first time, she almost acted like he was some kinda movie star. She kinda said her Watcher didn't let her hang out with boys much, if at all."

"Man! That must have sucked!" the brunette Slayer sighed, wondering yet again about the legend - and if all the stories regarding Witch Boy were true. "Glad I don't have that problem."

"I know..." Buffy grumbled, as she hadn't had a boyfriend ever since Angel had left her. Well, apart from that guy Scott Hope...who had secretly turned out to be gay! "You've got Jonathon."

"You should come over some time, B," Faith said with a smirk. "Let Johnny work his magic..."

Buffy gagged at that. "No thanks!"

"I'm telling ya - you don't know what you're missing, B," Faith insisted. "A repressed geek with no real friends to speak of, and a decent-sized tool to service all of a girl's needs? He can be a lot of fun at nights!"

"I'll just take your word for it," Buffy said, looking ill. "And try to get that lovely image out of my head for the foreseeable future!"

"More for me, then," Faith said with a little smile. The girl had come to be very grateful for having her little geek all to herself. At least HE wasn't always busy yakking on about the great Buffy...

Because Faith had grown to like her sister Slayer ever since they'd met last year, but damn! Sometimes the others spent way too much time worrying about doing things the Right Way, which was Buffy's Way...


Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Friday May 21st, 1999

"It's just that everything's changing again!" Xander told his girlfriend late that afternoon. "We just got here, it seems like, and now high school's over...finished. The end. Tout fini! We graduated, we're the class of '99 already...alumni!"

"I know, Xander," Cordelia told the guy from beside him on the bench. "But I also know what this is really all about...it's about her."

When Harris looked at his girlfriend a little guiltily, Cordy just held up her hand. "Whoa, I'm not Jealous Girl here! It's just I know how you really wanted Willow to go to school here too."

Xander nodded. "Yeah, I guess. I just thought she would want to, ya know? I still miss Wills so much. And it would've been nice for you and her to be friendly...and not just in my presence!"

"Can you blame her, though?" Cordelia asked him. "Willow wants to stay on the Hellmouth with Buffy and Oz, to help protect Sunnydale. Now that that Faith person is being sent to Los Angeles and all..."

"But Willow doesn't have any powers, it's dangerous there for her!" Xander protested.

"And in some world where YOU were the one who didn't have any powers, would you just leave?" Cordelia asked him archly.

"No..." Xander admitted. "No. You're right, I guess..." He then looked up at her. "Unless it meant I was going to lose you because of that."

A deep blush was seen on the brunette's face for a moment, before the duo briefly started making out. "So what about you?" Cordelia asked him after they came up for air. "Have you thought about going to Magic School?"

"I...I don't know," Xander told her honestly. "Look, Cor, I know your dad wants me to join the family business and all, to become someone that you and your parents would be proud to-"

"Do NOT start on that again!" Ms. Chase told him in no uncertain terms. "Xander, I am happy with the fact that I can point to you and say, 'he's my boyfriend'. Get used to it!"

"But it's just if I do go to Magic School," Xander started to say uncertainly. "Well, that's gonna make me look like a bum in the mortal world. It's not like I could tell people what I'm doing, and what my goals are! I can't list 'wizard qualifications' on a job application now, can I?" He sighed. "My dad only had a high school education, and look what happened to him..."

"You are not going to end up like your father," Cordy assured her significant other. "And it's not like we're going to go broke if you don't become a lawyer or an architect or whatever! We're rich, remember? And hell, after I get done with medical school..."

"I already live in your parents' home, eat their food, and even use their car..." He looked at her, and Xander's voice suddenly got a lot firmer. "Maybe it's pretty old-fashioned of me these days, but I'd feel like I was a freeloader or a trophy husband or whatever - if I didn't contribute SOMETHING into our future!"

"Daddy's told you already that you have a job waiting for you after your magic school training is over," Cordy gave him a little wink. "And trust me, Xander...I would have no problem with you being my trophy husband! Of course, you'd have to wear a pair of Speedo's most of the time..." She burst out laughing at his look.

"You really think I should go to Magic School?" Harris asked her bluntly.

"Yeah. You're supposed to become this big powerful witch one day, it's your destiny and all that," the former May Queen smiled. "Just like mine is being with you. And hell, I'll sleep that much better at nights, knowing that you were watching out for and protecting our kids..."

"Our kids?" Xander had a look of horror on his face.

She quickly corrected herself at his look, "Possible future kids, sweetheart."


Pier 12, Slip 4, Los Angeles Harbor, Los Angeles

Sunday November 28th, 1999

Aboard the good ship 'Quintessa', people were panicking in the locked hold - as they all knew they were about to die tonight.

A group of half-Lister demons, plus four others - Angel, Allen Francis Doyle, Faith LeHane, and Wesley Wyndham-Pryce - looked at the light bomb created by a bunch of bastards known as The Scourge. A beacon of death that would kill anyone with any trace of human blood, when activated.

"Er, I hate to be the voice of doom and all, but that thing's definitely getting brighter..." the Watcher said nervously, as Wes then looked at all the refugees herded together like lambs headed for the slaughterhouse.

"If I pull that cable, I think I can still shut it off in time," Angel said thoughtfully.

Doyle didn't get it. "How're you gonna do that, without touching the light?"

Faith was a lot quicker than the half-Brachen demon though. "Yo, Fang, that's suicide!"

"She's right, Angel - you can't do this!" Wesley added in his own two cents. Despite his being a Watcher and Faith being a Slayer, their adventures with these two in the City of Angels had made him very reluctant to lose either the demon or the vampire that his charge fought alongside.

Doyle agreed, "There's got to be another way..."

Angel looked at the terrified refugees below in the hold, then at his companions. "Not anymore. It's all right..." The vampire then put a hand on Doyle's shoulder, as if to say goodbye.

The half-demon messenger for the Powers put his own hand on Angel's arm, unable to let him do this. "The good fight, yeah? You never know until you've been tested. I get that now." Out of nowhere Doyle then hit Angel on the chin, knocking him down into the cargo hold.

Allen Francis turned to Faith, and paused for a second. The he thought, (To hell with it...) and they kissed.

It was a last kiss goodbye too, as the astonished Slayer finally allowed herself to respond to this short half-Irishman's charms; on account of he loved her and had more-or-less taken Jonathon's place, after the geek had been killed thanks to that insane lunch lady six months ago.

Wesley just frowned in paternalistic disapproval, and then looked in astonishment as a strange blue light seemed to pass between their lips just before Doyle and Faith parted. (What the devil was that?)

Doyle stepped back and said, "Too bad we'll never know..." He morphed into his spiky demon countenance, "...if this is a face you could actually learn to love."

Doyle quickly jumped for the weapon, as Angel started screaming, "Doyle! Doyle! Doyle! Doyle! NO!"

But it was too late; the young hero ignored him and quickly managed to deactivate the bomb, pulling the cable away just before he burned to ashes - and saving all of their lives in the process.

"NO!" Faith screamed, the new Vision Girl's heart shattered again for the second time this year.

And somewhere upstairs Jasmine started tearing her metaphorical hair out, all her plans were ruined - thanks to that good old Slayer healing factor...


1630 Revello Drive, Sunnydale, California

Sunday May 28th, 2000

"Man! That was one weird dream," Willow said, as everyone gathered at the table in the Summers kitchen.

"Yeah, the First Slayer. Not big with the socialization skills," Buffy commented.

"Plus Cave-Slayer pissed me right the hell off," Faith added in her two cents, having come back to the Hellmouth recently after Wesley had finally recovered from that LA bomb blast. "I mean, what was that whole 'death is your gift' crap supposed to be about?"

"There were many things we dreamed about that were no doubt symbolic, that'll need a great deal of research," Giles responded. "But somehow our joining with Buffy and...invoking the essence of the, the Slayer's power was an affront to the source of that power. Well, I did mention it would be dangerous-"

"Yeah, but you say that about chewing too fast!" Buffy looked annoyed.


Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles, California

Tuesday May 8th, 2001

It had been over an hour since the crew of Angel Investigations had arrived at Caritas through that interdimensional portal, and yet his black mood had only recently begun to lift for Angel. Some of it had to do with the fact that it was going to cost a fortune to liberate his convertible from Caritas...but most of it had to do with the hero of Pylea named the Groosalugg, who had thoroughly kicked his ass. And all because he'd thought Angel was planning to rape and defile Faith...

Speaking of which, the Chosen One no longer looked like a porn actress in that princess costume she'd been forced to wear whilst the monarch of Pylea. And the undead Champion was definitely glad of that. As he was a man trapped in a vampire's body and not the other way around, as Wesley had so eloquently put it yesterday.

Faith, Angel, Wesley, and the latest additions to the agency - Charles Gunn, Lorne and the former slave named Winifred Burkle - entered the garden court. "Are-are you sure about that?" Fred asked in wonder.

Faith nodded. "Trust me, Texas. We got tacos everywhere - not to mention soap!"

Gunn shook his head. "Yo, that portal jumping's one fun ride. We figure out how to sell it to a theme park, we could get rich!"

Angel pushed to the front of the group as they get to the front doors, and said with a smile, "Okay. Can I say it? I wanna say it."

Wesley asked, "Say what?"

Angel pushed the double doors open, walking into the lobby. "There's no place like..." But then he trailed off, as he saw Willow sitting hunched up on one of the chairs in the lobby. "Willow?"

Faith was just pleased to see an old face from the past. "Hey, Red, what's...?"

Willow never said a word, her expression empty and vacant. She slowly got up off the chair, never taking her eyes off Angel.

And in an instant, the vampire understood. He had seen that same expression on her face years ago as Angelus, when Willow had learned that Jenny Calendar had died. And there was only one person for him who would merit a personal visit, even after all these years.

He said quietly: "It's Buffy."


P3 Nightclub, San Francisco, California

Saturday July 6th, 2002

Cordelia danced around her boyfriend, as the band Green Day performed on stage. Xander watched, a little stunned as Cordy's moves were far more...well, sexually provocative than normal. But after the song was over, they just went over to the bar and ordered a couple of sodas. "What was that for? Not that I'm complaining, mind you..."

"I didn't like the way that that redhead was staring at you," Ms. Chase declared shortly, as the young couple moved to an empty table while the band took a break.

"What redhead?" Xander asked, as he looked around.

"The one on that couch, next to the two brunettes over there in the corner," his girlfriend told him, with a bow of her head. "She's been eyeing your ass all night! I just had to show her that you were mine, and that if she got it into her head to try to steal you away - well, she had better be ready for one hell of a fight!"

"Well if you need to do that again..." Xander teased. "Maybe later tonight...?"

"Maybe," Cordelia said with a grin. "If you're a good boy."

Meanwhile, across the club the redhead and her sisters were joined by a blond-haired guy. "Hello, ladies," Leo Wyatt said as he sat next to Piper. "What's up?"

"Oh, nothing much," Paige sighed as she looked towards their whitelighter.

"Don't mind her, Leo," Phoebe Halliwell said, amused. "She's just mad that the girlfriend of a guy she liked saw her checking him out!"

"It's not like anything would have happened anyway," Paige said with a grimace. "My luck, a demon would attack and he'd think I was some kind of freak!"


Starbucks Coffee Shoppe, San Francisco, California

Sunday June 1st, 2003

"Say what?" Xander demanded.

The younger man, one of the few survivors of the Battle of Sunnydale, repeated what he'd just said. "Mr. Giles, the head of the New Watchers Council, hereby respectfully requests your services in London."

"Uh-huh. And what the hell would I do there, exactly?" Xander asked. "Push papers around? Please. And don't you guys have an army of Slayers now?"

"Yes, we do," Andrew Wells told him sadly, thinking of the terrible price paid for bringing Buffy's plan to fruition. "But we do not have many witches or Watchers with field experience, I am afraid."

"Ah, look," Xander said, shaking his head at the former nerd's diction. "Thanks for the offer and all...but sorry, I have to stay put here. I'm in...a certain institute...and Cordy's only in her 4th year of med school. It would be very inconvenient for my wife and I to move to England right now!"

"But it would be a rousing adventure," Andrew told him with a look of anxiety, worried about the consequences if he failed to recruit 'the legend'. "And of course, you would report directly to me!"

"What?" Xander demanded. "Look, pal, I was slaying vampires before you hit puberty! That's not sweetening the deal!"

"But, but I'm Mr. Giles' assistant..." the young Watcher wannabe said to that. "Everyone reports to me!"

"Does Buffy, Willow, or Dawn do that?"

"Well...not exactly," Andrew admitted.

"I rest my case," Xander said forcefully. "Just tell G-man that I'm always here for them if they have a world-ending thing going on, but for now I'm needed more here. Maybe someday we can talk about his offer again, but not today."

Xander got up to leave when he added, "And by the way? Take my advice. Leave the Thundercats lunchbox at home for your next interview!"


In the alley behind the Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles, California

Thursday May 13th, 2004

Angel ran down the alley, carrying his sword, running through the pouring rain.

A lot had happened in the six years since he had come here, and met Doyle - his first seer, from so long ago. There had been good times and bad, laughter and tears...all of which had led to this moment. His showdown with the Circle of the Black Thorn.

Ever since Faith had had that vision in the hotel two months ago, Angel had known it might come to this. That was why he had sent Fred Burkle away with his three-year-old son, Connor, along with his girlfriend Nina. So that no matter what happened to him and his crew tonight, the ones he loved most would be safe with Buffy and her Slayers.

When he got to the chain-link fence at the end of the alley, Angel looked around for the others, but failed to see anyone. The sky thundered above him, as the heavy rain continued to pour down.

"Boo," a British voice said sarcastically, as the vampire named Spike walked out from the shadows.

Angel just took in his grandchilde's battle-hardened appearance. "Anyone else?"

The other vamp said, "Not so far. You feel the heat?"

The head of Angel Investigations nodded. "It's coming."

Spike seemed happy, in his own twisted way. "Finally got ourselves a decent brawl."

Just then the man named Charles Gunn came running down the street toward them, carrying his homemade battle-axe. "Damn! How did I know the fang boys would pull through?" His steps became progressively less sure, though. "You're lucky we're on the same side, dogs, 'cause I was on fire tonight. My game was tight..."

The human almost collapsed from his injuries, but Angel and Spike caught him and helped him to a box on which he could sit down. Spike started looking at Gunn's wounds, "You're supposed to wear the red stuff on the inside, Charlie boy."

Gunn looked down at all the blood, but only said, "Any word on Wes?"

Just then, Faith jumped down from the chain-link fence to stand behind Angel. "Wes is dead. Vail killed him, before I could get there..."

Angel looked heartbroken. Gunn briefly wept; Spike just hung his head. But all Faith said was, "I ripped the bastard's head off about ten seconds later. Didn't help much."

Everyone began to hear a crowd clamoring not far away. Spike said, as the noise began to draw closer, "Well, maybe kicking the arses of this lot might make ya feel bit different..."

Angel just looked at the approaching army. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of demons of all sorts, shapes and sizes. Looking upwards in the pouring rain, the original vampire with a soul saw a huge winged dragon fly angrily towards them overhead.

Gunn seemed determined not to just lie down and die, here. "Okay. You guys take the 30,000 on the left..."

Faith didn't need her supernatural Slayersense to know when her friend was in trouble, as she examined the bleeding. "You're hurt bad. At this rate you'll last ten minutes at best, Chuck."

Charles Gunn, who had never once ever contemplated becoming a lawyer, got up. "Then let's make 'em memorable."

Angel stepped forward and Spike, Gunn and Faith loyally followed. They stared at the horde of demons approaching them in the alley.

Spike asked of no one in particular, "In terms of a plan?"

"We fight," Angel said brusquely.

"Bit more specific," the other ensouled vamp drawled.

Angel stepped forward. "Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon." The demon horde began to attack. "Let's go to work..."

He began to swing his sword, just as the enemy forces got right in Angel's face. So all things considered, it was probably lucky that Faith's sister Slayers and the Council forces managed to catch the demon army with their pants down, approximately ten seconds later.


Watchers Council Headquarters, London, England

Saturday July 29th, 2006

"Buffy, get in here!" Willow Rosenberg yelled to her best friend.

"What is it?" Buffy demanded, as she joined the redhead.

"Demon?" Kennedy asked, as she ran in too.

"No. Look at that!" a younger English Slayer named Belle said, as she looked at the TV screen.

"My God," Buffy said in shock, as she saw all the destruction.

The CNN reporter came on again, "Ladies and gentlemen, what you are currently looking at is live pictures from San Francisco, California, just twenty minutes after a earthquake measuring 9.4 on the Richter scale hit the area. We are being told there is massive damage all over the city, although thankfully not many fires have been reported like in the quake that destroyed much of San Francisco exactly 100 years ago..."

"We've got to get over there!" Willow told her best friend urgently. "Xander could be hurt, or-or worse!"

"I'm going too!" Dawn Summers said vehemently. "It looks like they need all the help they can get!"

"Uh, I'm scared for him and Cordy too, guys," Buffy said carefully, the burdens of leadership as the head Slayer taking their toll on her yet again. "But this isn't really a Council matter, is it?"

"It will be soon enough, I'm afraid," Giles said, as he strode into the large TV room. "The Source may be gone now, but there are still plenty of other demons who'd love to exploit this...opportunity. Plus as soon as it's dark, the vampires will go out hunting for trapped survivors..."


Parking lot of San Francisco Memorial Hospital, San Francisco, California

Some time later

"I need help over here, stat!" Cordelia Chase-Harris yelled as she held pressure against a man's bleeding wound.

"What have we got?" a harried-looking medical resident said as he ran over, his blue medical scrubs already filthy with blood.

"Thirty-six year old male construction worker," Cordelia said quickly. "Fell during the quake, and got impaled on some rebar!"


"Ah..." Cordelia said, as she looked at the clipboard. "Mark Hill..."

"Mark, can you hear me?" the doctor asked the patient.

"Hu...hur...hurts," Mark got out, before he passed out from the pain.

The doctor looked back to the way he came. "Bill! Is there an operating room available?"

"Hell, no!" the male nurse replied from where he was. "All the undamaged ones are already booked solid!"

"Damn it!" the doctor said, as he looked around and spotted several tents being set up by the National Guard. "We're just going to have to take him over to the tents and hope they have what we need to operate."

"We?" Cordelia asked, surprised.

The M.D. looked at her. "You're the only one available even remotely qualified...I need you as my nurse on this, can you do it?"

"Uh, yeah..." Cordelia decided, wishing she had taken the surgery rotation training first instead of radiology.


Elsewhere in San Francisco

The same time

"Let him go!" Paige Matthews demanded, as the youngest Charmed One saw the Scabbar demon holding a small boy.

"But he's so full of fear," the demon said, its tongue briefly flicking in and out. "It's-" But he didn't get any more out, before a blast of air sent him flying back away from the kid.

Paige ran over and grabbed the boy. "Do you know where your parents are?"

"Our house fell over there," the traumatized kid pointed numbly.

"Get him outta here," Xander said as he ran up to join the half-whitelighter. "I'll deal with ugly and badly-dressed over there!"

"Right," Page said to a fellow witch, not remembering Xander from that night in P3 years ago as she took off with the boy the way he pointed. "Thanks!"

"You cost me a meal, witch!" the demon roared, as he charged his enemy - just as Paige orbed out with her cargo.

"Oh, shut up!" Xander told him in annoyance, as he tossed a small bottle of red liquid at the demon. As soon as the glass broke, the demon screamed in pain as he was engulfed in fire.

After he was vanquished, Xander briefly took a moment to rest. "God, am I glad I made extras of these last week..."


Parking lot of San Francisco Memorial Hospital, San Francisco, California

Later that night

Xander finally made it over to the hospital his wife was stationed at, after the demon fighter had spent hours blasting and magicking his way across the war zone his adopted city had become. "Cordy!"

"Xander?" he heard Cordelia yell, and then saw his other half run over to him and hug him tight. "Thank God, I was so worried!"

"I'm okay," Harris quickly assured her. "But the demons are going nuts out there!"

"Glad you finally made it here, son. And myself, I'm just happy that we're all still alive and safe right now," Charles Chase told his son-in-law, as he came over from where he and Mrs. Chase were sitting.

"Did the manor make it?" Xander wondered.

"Mostly," Mr. Chase told him. "It would have been a lot worse though, if you hadn't put that protection spell on it! The Reynolds' second floor caved in."

"Damn," Xander thought briefly of their neighbors, who were thankfully vacationing in Spain right now.

"Hey, guys," Carissa said, as she came over after orbing into a hidden spot. And after all these years, no one even so much as raised an eyebrow at her sense of timing.

"Good, I'm glad you're here," Cordelia said at once. "On account of I so need your healing ability!"

"I don't know if the Elders will let me use it, if you're thinking what I think you're thinking," the whitelighter who still looked 17 years old said uncertainly. "This isn't a magic-related event, after all."

"Most of these people are gonna die otherwise. You have to try," the 25-year-old woman said simply, as she grabbed the blond angel and dragged her towards the medical tents.


Halliwell Manor, San Francisco, California

The same time

"Paige!" Piper yelled as she saw her sister. "Where have you been?"

"Uh, sorta had to help a family whose house fell on them," the former redhead replied, as she saw Phoebe and Leo come over. "Plus, a demon tried to eat one of the kids."

"A demon?" Leo asked in disgust. "Trust them to make an opportunity out of all this tragedy and suffering..."

"Yeah, well, another witch took care of him," Paige told her brother-in-law. "He was a cute one, too."

"Really?" Phoebe asked, before Piper cut her off. "Okay, now's SO not the time! Plus, remember Coop and Henry? No, never mind, Leo - do you know if the Elders can get any more magical help over here?"

"I have no idea," the former whitelighter admitted. "They've already put a few witches with pyrokinetic powers to work on keeping the entire city from going up in flames, but that's all that Carissa told me before she orbed out."

"Well, try to check with her again as soon as possible, see if there's anything major we need to deal with," Piper told him. "For now, we should head over to help at one of those Red Cross places."

"Too bad we can't donate blood," Phoebe mused sadly, as the good guys set off.


Chase Manor, San Francisco, California

Sunday July 30th, 2006


It was the day after, and Xander looked back from the pile of bricks he was making at the sound of his name. He was very surprised to see many of the Sunnydale people jump out of a rental car.

"Hey, Dawn-patrol!" he called out, before the male witch was nearly knocked over by the youngest Summers woman.

"I was so worried about you!" Dawn told him quickly, as she hugged him. "We couldn't even get you on your cell phone!"

"Yeah, well..." Xander admitted. "A lot of cell towers are out of commission at the moment."

"Xander!" Buffy and Willow said, as they quickly double-hugged the guy when they got to him.

"Need to breathe, guys..."

"Sorry," Buffy said as she let go. "I'm just so glad you're okay." Looking around, she saw no one else. "Where's Cordy? Is she all right?"

"She's fine," Harris told her. "She's still at the hospital, they need everyone there they can get at the moment."

"I still can't believe it sometimes," Willow said, yet with no malice. "Cordelia becoming a doctor!"

"Me too," Xander admitted. "It took a lot of soul searching on her part back in the day, but she made the right choice. I know it, and so does everyone else."

"Oh!" Willow said quickly, as a brunette girl came up slowly. Grabbing her arm, Willow pulled her over. "Xander...this is my girlfriend, Kennedy."

"Nice to meet you," the brunette Slayer greeted Xander warmly. "I've heard a lot about you."

"Some of it good, hopefully."

"Xander!" Willow said, before she slapped him lightly on the arm. "Of course it was all good!"

"Well, then," Xander said slowly. "Welcome, all. And not that I'm unhappy to see you guys, but it's been a while since Cordy and I last saw you-"

"Since the wedding in Vegas, yeah," Buffy pointed out. "Sorry. But we've been...busy."

"Right. How's that whole rebuilding the Council thing going?" Xander asked, as he took out a rag and wiped off the dirt from his hands.

"Very well, actually..." Giles said, before trailing off.

When he saw everyone else looking behind him Xander asked, "What?"

"Those bricks..." Kennedy said with a questioning voice, getting a little tense.

He turned and saw the bricks he'd been clearing still moving onto the pile, but he and only he saw the resident ghosts doing it. "Oh, don't worry, that's just the girls. They died in the first '06 quake."

"Alright, then..." Giles said as he watched the floating bricks for another moment, and Willow nodded as the memories came flooding back. "Uh, is it all right if we go inside? I'm afraid our little visit today is not just to check up on old friends."

"Sure," Xander said as he pointed to the cracked walkway. "This way. What's the problem, anyway?"

Giles sighed, "It's Faith, I'm afraid...ever since the events of two years ago she's been self-destructing, slowly but surely. A locator spell put her somewhere in the vicinity of this city, but either she's masking herself somehow or something's interfering with the spell. We were hoping you could help?"

Xander nodded. "Gimme something of hers, and I'll scry for her at once."


San Francisco Memorial Hospital, San Francisco, California

Sunday August 13th, 2006

"God, my feet hurt!" the med student Carlos Menendez said as he sat on the gurney. "What I wouldn't give for a week on the beach. Just me, some beer and Kendall Casablancas..."

"Let me guess," Cordelia asked her friend. "Big breasts, long legs and a tiny IQ?"

"Don't know about the IQ," Carlos replied wearily. "And don't care much, either."

"Big shock there," Cordelia grinned at her friend. "I used to be like that, just going by looks, but hey! I grew up."

"Is that why Becky calls your husband a babe?" Carlos asked, amused.

"He has a good inside too!" Cordelia said seriously. "Trust me here, when I was a teenager I dated a lot of male airheads, and Xander is not one of them!"

"Hey, you two!" Becky Maars ran over to them. "Cordy, have you seen this?"

"Seen what?" Cordelia asked her coworker.

"This!" Becky said, as she slapped the new magazine down on the gurney.

"Oh my God!" Cordelia said in shock. "That's me...me on the cover of Time magazine?"

The married woman started at the cover picture of herself in her bloody scrubs, as she looked lost in the remains of the hospital after the quake. The title read, 'The Second Big One'. "How did I not know about this?" she demanded.

"Well, they got the photo off of a free-lancer, and so they don't know your name," Becky told her as she flipped to the inside. "On the cover," she read, "an unknown young woman after a long shift at the remains of the one of San Francisco's major hospitals."

"Damn it!" Cordelia swore. "I finally get my face on a magazine cover, and I don't even get my name in it?"


Dateline NBC

Wednesday July 29th, 2009

"It's one of the most iconic images of the last few years," an announcer said as the picture of Cordelia flashed on screen. "Next to the pictures of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami, this picture was reprinted and shown all over the world. It has come to be one of the symbols of the 2006 earthquake in San Francisco. Now on the three year anniversary of the earthquake, we thought we would catch up with the young woman in the picture."

Cordelia's image appeared on screen with short hair. "Welcome to the show," the reporter said.

"Thanks for having me," Cordelia replied gracefully.

"Now at the time of the picture, you were a medical student - correct?" he asked.

Cordelia nodded. "Yeah, when the quake hit, I was just starting at the hospital."

"And now?"

"And now, it's Dr. Cordelia Harris," she told him happily. "With a little girl, and another one on the way."

"How far along are you?" the reporter asked at once.

"Just six weeks, actually," Cordelia said, with a semi-sigh. "If it's a girl, we're planning to name her Faith - after a friend who died three years ago, the very day after the quake."

"I'm very sorry for your loss," the reporter said with practiced professional smoothness. "Ah, what about your husband?" he asked.

"Oh, Xander is a godsend," Cordelia admitted. "He more or less does the Mr. Mom routine, he was going to take a job in my father's company...but once he saw our daughter's face, he just melted." She smiled, "Thing is that he didn't have that great a relationship with his parents, and so wanted to be the best father he could be..."


Near Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California

Saturday June 15th, 2013

3:03 pm

It was amazing what 15 years could do for one's life, not to mention one's powers...which was the amount of time elapsed ever since that soul curse had been cast on Angelus, back during the previous millennium.

These days, Xander Harris had finally realized his potential and was one of the most powerful magic users on the planet. Granted he wasn't in the league of the Charmed Ones, of course, but then he had no desire to be - what with the way their whitelighter had killed Xander's former acquaintance Gideon back then, or so rumor had it. The man was content to just be the best witch he could be, and safeguard his family; as his wife, his daughters and his in-laws meant everything to him.

That was why he'd recently fought against and killed an assassin witch, one who'd been very powerful and who had been born with a distinctive "phoenix" birthmark...with Angel's help. Who had finally paid Xander back for that ensouling spell, over a decade before.

Xander jogged through the sand along the beach with labored breath, as the 32-year-old man looked down to check his watch, and then...

"What the hell?" he demanded, as Harris skidded to a stop and saw the strangest thing he had seen...well, during the last few months anyway.

All around him, the world was frozen in place. The waves were still above the water, the birds were unmoving, the people around him looked like statues, and he could hear no sounds of nature at all. "Okay...this is just plain nuts!"

"Not at all. We just wanted to be able to talk to you in private."

Xander turned and saw an older man dressed all in black, with a grey beard. "And you're what? Demon, warlock, Backstreet Boys fan?"

"I am Alpha," the man told him. "You know my kind as the Avatars."

Xander quickly got ready for a fight upon hearing that name. "I thought you guys had been defeated?"

"No, not defeated," Alpha said calmly. "Only delayed. The world was not yet ready for us eight years ago, after all."

"And personally, I hope it never is," Xander told him.

Alpha looked at him sadly. "I honestly don't understand. Why would you wish to live in a world where at any moment, the forces of evil can take from you all those whom you love? Where you must fight against demons all your life, and where your descendants must continue your work - till the final battle results in mutual destruction, and an endless eternal void?"

"Because from what I've heard, your way isn't any better at all," Xander told him. "I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but you just kill off anyone who doesn't meet your specifications of what they should be? The hell with that! Who gave you the right to play God? And-"

"I can see that your mind has been poisoned by the Elders against us," Alpha sighed.

"All right, let's cut the crap. What do you want from me?" Xander demanded, knowing he would have no chance in a fight with this guy.

"It has come to our attention that you are constantly in battle with the minions of the new Source," Alpha replied. "If you were to join us, you could easily have the power to end his reign of evil-"

"And give you a bigger power base with which to go nuts later on," Xander said clearly. "Y'know, I've done a bit of research on what you guys tried to do back in ancient Egypt...so thanks, but no thanks."

"As we knew you would say," Alpha told him.

"Then why bother even asking?" Xander wanted to know.

"To plant the seed of curiosity," the Avatar replied. "You are one of many whom we are meeting with."

Xander shook his head. "I won't change my mind, ever."

Alpha shrugged slightly. "I will also never understand why mortals complain about the battle against evil, and then scorn an offer to help stop it for all time."

"Because we have a brain," Xander told him rudely. "You guys don't fix anything, you just gloss over evil like a bad band-aid. I heard an old saying once: 'There is nothing more deadly than a good man who believes he's right'."

"We know we are right," Alpha told him. "Someday you, along with the rest of the world, will see that as well." With that said, the magical being vanished and the world started up again for Xander Harris.


Baker High School, San Francisco, California

Monday September 30th, 2019

7:34 am

"It's high school, dude!" the young man named Mike told his best friend, early that morning. "Come on, Chris, show some enthusiasm!"

The tall, dark-haired 15-year-old boy named Chris Halliwell shrugged. "Why? We're freshmen, the lowest of the low."

"But we get to start over!" Mike said urgently. "We can be, like, studs on campus now! None of the girls from the other junior highs know about us."

"I..." Chris started but stopped. "Oh, no."

"What?" Mike asked.

"Over there," Chris pointed. "Lucas is being his usual idiot self..."

Mike looked over and saw a guy that he and Chris knew (unfortunately) trying to hit on a hot girl. "It's seven-thirty on the first day of school, and he's going all caveman already?"

"He's a jock," Chris said simply as they went over.

"Come on, baby," the hulking form of Lucas Smith was saying to the annoyed girl. "You and me...under the bleachers..."

"Oh, please!" the brunette girl said scornfully. "I only date guys who've passed the Cro-Magnon stage of evolution!"

Lucas looked confused. "Well, how do you know I'm not one of...those guys?"

"Your breath for one!" the cheerleader type said, disgusted.

"Listen," Lucas said firmly as he grabbed her arm. "Any girl would kill for a chance to go out with me..."

"Lucas!" Chris yelled. "It's our first day already! Will you grow up and leave her alone?"

The jock looked over to him in annoyance, but still holding the girl's arm. "Or what, wimp? You think I'm afraid of-"

He didn't finish the sentence before the girl had grabbed him and flipped him onto the ground, hard.

"Whoa!" Mike said in awe, as the smaller femme easily handled the bigger guy.

"Let's keep this simple, shall we?" the girl asked as she held Lucas's arm in a lock and placed her spiked heel on his chest. "If I even see your ugly mug again within five feet of me, or my friends...I break the arm. Are we clear?"

When Lucas didn't reply, the girl twisted the arm more. "I asked if we were clear?"

"We're clear," Lucas grunted in pain, before the girl finally let him go.

"Good," the high school student said, as she picked up her backpack and started to walk away.

"Hey, wait up!" Chris called as he and Mike raced to catch up to her. "That was amazing! Where did you learn how to do that?"

"Oh, that was nothing," the young woman told him with a shrug. "I mean, my parents have had me learning martial arts ever since I was five..."

"Ah, I'm Chris," the male said as he extended his hand. "Chris Halliwell."

The girl stopped, and looked him up and down. Not quite like a side of beef, but close. "Hmm, not bad...but you definitely need a better wardrobe, though."

"Huh?" Chris asked, clueless.

"Doesn't matter right now," the brunette told him as she shook his hand - and instantly, both the male and female witch knew that the other was definitely no muggle. "I'm Cassandra Harris..."

And thus was born the start of a whole new generation of magical adventure and excitement.

The End