A/N: Just another of those wicked little plot bunnies. I'll have at least one more chapter, maybe more if my muse is less ellusive than usual. It goes without saying that I do not own the rights to Buffy or any other creations of Joss's or any of the parasitic suits that produced the show. I don't mind reviews, but pointless rants just hurt my head; so please keep things coherent. Thanks to Cathode for letting me bounce ideas off of her, and thank you dear reader for taking the time to read my little tale. Enjoy.

Poe1911

I'M NOT REALLY HERE

ANOTHER TIME AND PLACE

He was one of the Powers that Be; he has a name but since it's kind of unpronounceable, let's call him Bob. Bob was looking over the Sunnydale situation and not liking what he was seeing. There was a critical juncture coming up, a second vampire was going to get a soul which would derail the Sanshu prophecy, the witch was going to try to destroy the world and might succeed, and the slayer was about to be seriously injured, possibly killed. With only a moment of thought, Bob came up with a way to nip all of these potential situations in the bud, as well as extract a bit of wholly justified revenge on that wisecracking little punk that had the audacity to thwart a Codex prophecy all by himself. Vengeance and other such petty motivations were not supposed to factor in to what moves the Powers made with their pieces, but; Bob sighed then smiled, sometimes you have to crack a couple of eggs to make a cake. He resumed observing Sunnydale; he was going to enjoy this.

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Spike had fired up his stolen motorcycle and was looking back at the lights of Sunnydale, he realized then that he might fail in his quest, and thus never see Buffy again. He shook his head; he just had to see her one last time. He parked his bike a couple of blocks away, and walked into the Summers back yard. It was very early morning, and Buffy was sitting at the kitchen table working the crossword from the paper, enjoying the quiet.

Lost in the view, Spike didn't really notice that it was becoming easier to see her until it was too late; the sun was up, and he was trapped. He looked around and saw that the only hope he had was a corner by the house and the fence. There were a couple of bushes as well, so the area should always be in the shade, it would be uncomfortable, but it was survivable. Quickly he made his way over to the dark haven and sat down to wait out the day.

He must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he was aware of was the sound of voices; Droopy was talking to Buffy, and apologizing from the sound of it. Then a third person came into view, yelling about something or other. Spike would have ignored him, except the brainless wanker was pointing a gun at Buffy. Spike noticed two things quickly, that both he and the ponce with the gun were in the shadows, and that Droopy had put himself between Buffy and the gun. With all the speed he had, Spike reached out and snatched the gun from the twit's hands and then clubbed him on the back of the head. The chip fired, but Spike figured that a little pain was worth it if it kept Buffy safe. Then something weird happened. It was almost like something else took over his body, he was aware of Droopy moving towards him and thanking him for what he'd just done; but then for some reason he just raised the gun and emptied the clip into the sodding Nancy Boy's chest. As soon as the gun locked empty, it was as though control was returned. He looked up and Buffy was hysterical holding the Whelp in her arms, she was covered in his blood. It started to dawn on Spike that he had just committed one of the few unforgivable sins in Sunnydale; he had just hurt Xander Harris in front of one of his girls. He dropped the gun and was starting to move towards the gate when he heard a noise, voices to be precise. He looked up to see Red and her Girl-Toy standing at an open window, they both looked irate, and the fact that both of them had globes of fire bouncing on their palms tipped him off to the fact that they were a little upset with him. Before he could move another inch, a word of command was spoken and he watched as the twin fireballs raced towards him. All he could say was "bugger" before he was incinerated.

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Bob gave a little grunt of satisfaction as he watched the events play out as he had wanted them to. He was preparing to take care of another unacceptable situation in San Francisco when he was roughly grabbed and spun around. The protest died on his lips when he realized he was facing the angel Raguel, commonly referred to as the 'vengeance of the Lord' or 'God's assassin'; and the angel didn't look happy to see him.

"What have you done fool" the angel roared, flames dancing in the back of his eyes.

"What I was given providence over, tending the plan for Earth."

"And the killing of Alexander Harris?"

"An unfortunate outcome I'm afraid."

"You shallow fool, do you realize that he and his line to come was one of the chosen of the Most High; now you have destroyed a millennia worth of work and quite possibly compromised the master plan itself."

"I did not know" Bob said "I will of course do everything I can to help in this trying time."

"No you shall not" the angel answered pulling his sword, which burst into flames as he raised it "there is a reason that I was summoned and not the angel of penance."

All Bob had time to do, before the sword came down was say "bugger".

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Xander looked around, but all he could see was light, it was kind of wigging him out.

"Hello" he called out, but the only sound he heard was the echo of his own voice. Now he was seriously freaking out, he had no idea where he was and he couldn't remember how he'd gotten there. Heck, he could hardly remember Sunnydale. He looked around again, what the heck was going on. He had just resolved to start walking in one direction and see if he ran into anything when he heard a voice behind him, a voice he recognized.

"Xander"

He turned and there was Joyce Summers, suddenly he didn't care where he was or how he'd gotten there. He lunged forward and swept her up into his arms, tears of joy streaming down his face. "I've missed you Mom" he said.

"I've missed you son, and I want to thank you for what you've done for the girls."

"It's not much" he said blushing, then he sobered up "I'm dead aren't I?"

"Yes you are, but the problem is that you're not supposed to be here for another forty years or so."

"Forty years" Xander said with a gulp.

"Yes" Joyce sighed "you had quite the destiny in front of you, it wouldn't have been easy but you would have been very happy."

"Would have?"

"Yes, but now everything is in flux because some idiot up here overstepped his authority."

"So I'm dead because of an angelic bureaucratic snafu" Xander asked, anger boiling up in him.

"Yes dear" Joyce said, putting a calming hand on his arm "but because it was the fault of someone up here, you've been granted a choice."

"What is it?"

"You could continue up to Heaven, or you can go back."

"That's an easy one; I want to go back of course. So let's get going, beam me down Scotty."

"Well there is one small problem" Joyce said with a bit of trepidation in her voice.

"And that is?"

"You have no physical body, so you can't return as Xander Harris."

"So you mean I can only be re-incarnated, what good is that; I'll be an infant. There's no way I could help, you guys owe me another option."

"There is one" Joyce replied cautioously "your spirit can return, but you have no body, and on Earth there is a champion who's body is alive, but the spirit has ascended and cannot return."

"So you'd put my spirit into another body."

"Exactly"

"Would I have my memories and knowledge, the bodies, or both?"

"You would stay who you were, your knowledge, your experiences, everything; you would just have a different body."

"Would I be near Buffy and the gang, would I be able to help them?"

"You will be able to help them, but Xander; over a year has passed on Earth since you died."

"What's happened" Xander asked quietly."

Joyce waved her hand and there was a view-screen in front of them; then Xander saw it all, his funeral, the coming of the First, the calling of the slayers and Anya's sacrifice; wearing the amulet to close the Hellmouth. "They're amazing" Xander said, awe in his voice. "Can I see her, Anya I mean" Xander asked.

"No dear you can't" Joyce replied "she is meeting with Him right now, and there's not time."

Xander shook his head "how do they keep fighting" he asked as his eyes returned to the images of the last year.

"They only did what you inspired them to do Xander, you were always their heart, you still are."

"Then I need to be back there" Xander said, a hint of steel in his voice. "Is there anything I need to know before I head back down" Xander asked.

"Just this, the body you're returning to was badly damaged, but it has now been fully restored, so you'll be in top shape once you get there" Joyce said "and Xander, please tell the girls I love them and I'll see be watching."

"I will Joyce" Xander said "and I'll see you around Mom."

"Good luck son" Joyce replied, and there was a hint of laughter in her voice.

Xander wondered what that was all about when his world went white again.

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BACK ON EARTH

Xander opened his eyes, then slammed them shut again as they were assailed by light, fortunately it was just sunlight and not that weird heavenly stuff. His body felt stiff, but OK; like it hadn't moved in a while. Eyes half lidded, he stood up and headed for what he hoped was the bathroom. He went to ease his bladder, but soon realized that there was some very crucial equipment missing. His eyes came fully open and he gaped into the mirror. "You have got to be kidding me" he said in Cordelia Chase's voice.