"Who's Buffy?" Jesse asked, knowing that he could delve into Xander's mind to find out, but knowing that it would be far better for the information to be given freely.
"She is," Xander replied haltingly, pointing towards the figure lying on the ground.
Xander stared at the motionless figure of Buffy, completely unable to move. He hadn't been expecting to see her ever again, except in dreams of course, and for her to just reappear into his life so suddenly had caused him to go into emotional shutdown.
"Xander," Jesse called out, "she isn't breathing."
Hearing those words brought Xander back to the land of the living in a heartbeat, and he was crouching down next to her a moment later, trying to breathe life back into her for a second time. He was so focused on saving her life, that he was able to completely ignore the thoughts swirling through his mind about the differences between touching the real Buffy and the Buffy of his dreams, the final proof his psyche needed to know that the happiest, most joyous time in his life had been completely fabricated.
Again and again he forced air into her lungs, trying to restart her system, until eventually she took a large gasp of air unassisted and opened her eyes, the scene eerily similar to the last time Xander had saved her.
"Xander," Buffy breathed, half in joy and half in shock, the latter expected by Xander but the former seemingly out of place.
"Hey," he said softly, unable to hide the breathtaking smile that emerged on his face, "you're making this a habit you know," he told her, indicating his having to resuscitate her, "and this is one habit I'd really like you to break, as even though I seem to be incapable of it, you'll still be the death of me if you do this again."
"Xander," she repeated, her eyes lighting up as she began to realize that she wasn't hallucinating, or in heaven, and that he really was kneeling beside her. "You're alive."
"So are you," he replied, "we make a matching pair."
"You're alive!" Xander suddenly found himself unable to breathe as he was in receipt of a Slayer-sized hug, one he found himself reciprocating whole-heartedly. After several long moments, she pulled back suddenly, a questioning look on her face. "Why are you alive?" she paused for a moment before her eyes widened slightly. "And why do you have two hearts?"
Xander had almost flinched at the questions, thinking of how Angel had reacted to his continued existence, but all he saw in her eyes was genuine curiosity without a single shred of suspicion. He started to wonder whether they'd arrived in the correct dimension after all, as Buffy was acting nothing like how he remembered.
"It's a long story," he told her, quickly going on when he saw her eyes narrow slightly, "but one I promise to tell you later on. First things first though; why were you being turned into a Buffy-shaped night light?"
Just as Xander asked that, Buffy suddenly released him and stood up before pacing the floor frantically. "Oh my god! Dawn!"
Xander's head began to swim as he heard Buffy's panic laden scream, and Jesse's voice began booming into his head a moment later. Alexander! A spell is trying to overwrite your memories! Focus on my voice, and only my voice!
Xander did as was requested, and listened as intently as he could on Jesse's voice as he continued to talk to him, finding that it became easier to do so the longer he listened, until he found that there was no resistance at all. Okay, what the hell was that? he asked, 'visibly' shook up by what had just occurred.
As I told you, Jesse replied, a spell was trying to rewrite your memories, specifically concerning your time in Sunnydale since Buffy arrived.
How did you stop it? Xander enquired, remembering what Eve had told him about their inability to cast magic.
I didn't, Jesse told him, his tone making Xander feel that Jesse would be smiling if he could see him. The spell is still running; I have just done the biological equivalent of a system back up within your mind. It was the only thing I could think of at the time, but now at least it would allow you to have both sets of memories, enabling you to see just what the spell was trying to make you remember.
No, Buffy had no knowledge of the spell, Jesse assured him, knowing what the question was going to be, at least, not that she was going to cast it on you. It had laid dormant within her mind, waiting for her to speak about a certain object, place or person, making whoever in earshot that already hadn't been affected by the spell remember it as though they'd always been aware of it, in this case a young woman by the name of Dawn. Sensing that Xander was going to ask more questions, Jesse went on. The easiest thing to do would be for me to allow you time to assimilate the new memories, so you can see for yourself what changes have been made.
Jesse left Xander's mind and turned his attention, not that it had really left, back to his interior, specifically the young woman holding his companion as he slumped to the ground.
"Xander?" Buffy said softly, shaking him gently but firmly in an attempt to wake him up. "Xander, wake up!" she said louder, increasing her shaking of him as her panic began to rise.
"Alexander is just getting used to a new set of memories," Jesse told her, causing Buffy to spin round, trying to find the source of the voice.
"Who's there?" she demanded, wanting to search for them but not wanting to leave Xander alone on the floor.
"I am the ship that you currently find yourself in Miss Summers," Jesse explained.
"Alright," she said slowly after a few moments, "that's not the weirdest thing I've ever heard, but it's definitely up there. So, what do I call you, Hal?"
"Very droll," Jesse told her, his tone indicating just how unfunny he found her remark. "My real name in unpronounceable in your language Miss Summers, so Alexander has, with my permission, named me Jesse."
"After his friend," Buffy said unnecessarily, a sad lilt to her voice as she thought of the first person she'd failed to save in Sunnydale. "By the way, please call me Buffy."
"Very well, Buffy. I apparently sound very much like his departed friend, and his first reaction was to say his name." Before she could ask him anything else, Jesse went on. "We shall be landing soon, and it might be a good idea if you could fill me in on the current situation."
Buffy pondered on the best way of explaining what had been going on, and decided to be blunt. "Basically, a hell goddess called Glory wanted to use my sister, Dawn, to open a portal home. I managed to slow her down long enough to stop her, but one of her servants, a rather unassuming demon called Doc, sliced Dawn and opened the portal. As her blood opened the portal, it would also close it, but I wasn't going to let her kill herself so I jumped instead, but not before I ripped that bastard Doc's head clean off though."
"How would you jumping into the portal solve anything, if it was your sister's blood that was required?" Jesse enquired, his tone perplexed.
"She's not really my sister," Buffy admitted reluctantly. "Some monks created her out of mystical energy known as The Key, and used me as a template for her. It was the energy that Glory needed to go home, and because the Key was now human, it was the blood that held the power. As we both have the same blood, either one of us would work and I chose me."
"What has become of Glory?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," she replied, her tone suggesting just how unhappy she was about that, "after I'd smacked her about enough to leave her lying on the floor, I started to make my way up the tower to help Dawn."
"Well then," Jesse said brightly, sensing that the conversation needed lightening, "the first thing we'll have to do is ensure that your sister and the others are okay, and then Xander, Jack and The Doctor will think of a way to deal with Glory personally, amply assisted by Eve and myself of course. I'm assuming that by Glory you mean Glorificus?"
"Yeah," Buffy replied in surprise, "how do you know about her?"
"I've been around a very long time," Jesse told her, Buffy being able to tell it was a gross understatement, "and have learnt a great many things."
Their conversation was cut short when Xander began to stir. "Ohh, you could have told me how much that would hurt," he groaned as he slowly opened his eyes, surprised that Buffy was holding him. "Hey."
"Hey," she replied softly. "So, you're the proud owner of a space ship huh?"
"I don't own Jesse," he denied, a confirming sound coming from Jesse himself, "he's my companion."
"I didn't know you swung that way Xan," Buffy teased, waggling her eyebrows.
"Ha, Ha, very funny." Xander turned to one of the speakers. "Have we landed yet?" he asked, thinking that he'd need to speak with Jesse about him using an image on the view screen so he actually had someone to look at when he spoke to him.
"Yes," Jesse replied, "the others are waiting outside, not very patiently I might add. I don't think The Doctor likes the fact that his sonic screwdriver won't open my door," he told him, his voice sounding terribly smug.
Xander stood up slowly before going over to the main console and sat down. "You might as well let them in," he instructed Jesse before he turned his attention back to Buffy. "Deadboy is with us by the way."
"Why?" she asked, shocked that she would soon be seeing her former boyfriend after nearly a year.
"I'll let him explain it," he told her, not feeling up to it himself.
The doorway opened and The Doctor, Rose and Jack walked in, Angel, Fred, Gunn, Doyle and Cordelia following quickly behind. When Cordelia saw Xander, she rushed over and pulled him onto a bruising hug for a while before releasing him and slapping him hard around the face.
"Where the hell have you been!?" she demanded, her tone and stance indicating dire consequences if her didn't give a full and frank answer immediately.
"Hi Cor, how are you?" he asked, completely ignoring her question.
"Don't you hi Cor me!" she snapped. "Where the hell have you been the last two years?"
"Going where no man has gone before." Coughs from The Doctor and Jack caught his attention. "Okay," he drawled, "going where I've never gone before."
"Before you go any further," Jesse cut in, causing most of his occupants to look around in surprise, Cordelia most of all as she definitely recognised the voice, "we need to ascertain whether Buffy's sister and her friends are alright, not to mention ensuring that Glorificus has indeed been disposed of."
"Right," Xander said decisively. "How far away are we from the opening to the portal?"
"Approximately 4 miles," Jesse answered. "I thought it prudent to ensure that we couldn't be sucked back in, even though it seemed to close just after our arrival. Also, the strange energy signature emanating from the town, no doubt caused by the Hellmouth, would begin to affect my and Eve's systems if exposed to it for too long."
"That means we get to have a nice walk back to Sunnydale, at night. Oh joy," Xander said sarcastically.
"It might not be as bad as you think Alexander," Jesse told him, his voice showing amusement. "I have a few... gadgets here that should prove useful."
"I can't believe you actually have phasers," Buffy moaned as Xander incinerated yet another demon with the device. "And I really can't believe that you won't share."
Before they decided to make their way back to Buffy's house, where she said Giles and the others would have gone, Buffy went through with the others what had happened the past few months, followed by Angel and then finally Xander. Those that had known Xander before hadn't been too happy when he'd informed them of his new non-human status, but when he'd explained the alternative they'd quietened down fast. Even Angel, who had little love for the young man, felt sympathy for him over the ordeal he'd gone through, and would have still been going through had it not been for Eve's assistance.
Once the back-story had been divulged, the next order of business was to look over the 'gadgets' Jesse had mentioned to see if they would be useful. Xander knew that they would be the moment Jesse gave them the direction to the armoury, and The Doctor had been both impressed and disgusted by such an impressive range of weaponry Jesse had at his, or more precisely Xander's, disposal.
Not wanting to raise suspicion, as while the citizens of Sunnydale seemed able to ignore or explain away a multitude of things ray guns may be pushing it too far, Jack and Xander left the larger weapons where they were and simply grabbed a hand phaser apiece, The Doctor deciding to forego the weaponry completely. The others were less reticent, but before any of them could do so, Jesse had warned them against picking up any of the weapons, offering them less technological but equally as deadly alternatives. Xander had also grabbed several other devices that he thought would come in handy, before they all left Jesse and began their four-mile walk.
It was at this point that Cordelia fell down in agony, a vision entering her mind care of the Powers That Be, indicating that a child who could grow up one day to be a Champion and their parents were being hunted by a group of mercenary demons hired by Wolfram & Hart. Not knowing how long they had, Angel and the others had no choice but to part ways with the others and make their way to LA.
Xander had offered to give them a lift, but Jesse warned him that they were now part of events and therefore travelling would become tricky. He didn't quite understand why, but Xander trusted Jesse's judgement in these things and had instead gone with them and helped them 'acquire' a car for transport purposes, showing them how useful a sonic screwdriver could be.
Before they left, Cordelia forced him into promising that he wouldn't be a stranger, and to not leave it two years before she saw him again. Xander then showed them how effective a phaser could be by vaporising a tree, informing Angel that if anything happened to Cordelia or the others, Fred included who had decided to go with the souled vampire to the City of Angels, what happened to the tree would be nothing compared to what would happen to him. Waving them off, Xander then met up with the others and began to make their way to Buffy's house.
While they had expected some sort of demonic presence to rear its ugly head during their walk, they hadn't expected to see quite so many demons in such a short space of time. Apparently, news of her supposed death had reached the underworld and they'd decided to come out and party, the human population of Sunnydale acting as their party favours.
It seemed as though Glorificus had scared a fair amount of the demon community, and they had been lying low to remain inconspicuous. Buffy and the others hadn't taken much notice in the drop of demonic activity, as they'd been too preoccupied with Glory, her minions and those Knights of Byzantium idiots that had all been after them to worry about the nocturnal population of Sunnydale or the lack thereof.
"As Jesse told you," Xander replied to Buffy's moan, trying to prevent himself from dancing around in geeker joy at being able to use a real phaser, "he was from a less civilised time, and so weaponry was a must. Eve doesn't have any offensive weapons, apart from the ones that Jack and I have brought on during our travels, as she was purely for discovery and exploration. As for why you can't use them, all weaponry aboard Jesse is engineered only to work for Time Lords; anyone else that tries to use it will find themselves filled with enough volts to light up New New York."
"Yeah, well, it's still unfair," she moaned, dodging a wild swing from a vampire and dispatching it easily with a stake Jack had provided her with.
"I'm sure you'll get over it," Xander assured her as he fired upon yet another vampire. "Are you sure that Giles and the others would have taken Dawn back to your house and not to the hospital?" he asked.
"Yeah," she confirmed, "none of us like hospitals at the best of times as you well know, but ever since mom..." Buffy broke off, wiping her eyes as fresh tears came.
"I'm so sorry that I wasn't there to help," Xander told her sincerely, feeling bad that he hadn't been around to help his friend through such a traumatic time in her life.
He considered asking Jesse to take him back in time to help save Joyce, but he knew that to do so may well cause the timeline to become even worse than it was, remembering one of The Doctor's stories about his early adventures with Rose when he wasn't quite the man he was today. Xander just hoped that Buffy and the others didn't figure out that it was possible and ask, as he wasn't sure he'd be able to deny them.
"You weren't to know," she told him, feeling soothed by his sincere regret.
"Doesn't make I me feel any better," he replied gloomily, feeling cheated in a way that he had been unable to say goodbye to a genuinely wonderful lady like Joyce.
"We're nearly there," Buffy told him, deciding that a change of topic would be a good idea right now, "and once we're inside we should be safe as Willow and Tara have placed enough wards in and around it so nothing short of Glory herself can get in without our say so."
"Who's Tara?" Xander asked, wondering who had joined their group since his departure.
He quickly found his curiosity piqued even more by Buffy's reaction to his question, as she faltered in step and half started several times to answer him.
Eventually she just sighed and came straight out with it. "She's Willow's girlfriend."
Xander felt surprised for a moment before shrugging. "She must be something special for Willow to admit she felt that way."
"She is," Buffy confirmed, thinking that Tara's help had been indispensable since she had joined their merry band, and not just in their nighttime activities. Xander's words finally sunk in and she looked at him in surprise. "You knew Willow was gay?"
"I know that she's Bi," he corrected gently. "Willow never looks at aesthetics when it comes to the people she's attracted to, it's something much deeper and goes beyond gender. To be honest, labelling her as anything other than Willow just seems… wrong, so I try not to."
As they reached the door to Buffy's house, Xander's steps began to slow as he realised he was going to be returning to a world he had left well before they believed him dead, and wasn't sure he'd be able to do so. He'd felt more and more isolated from them as time had passed, although that was mostly his own fault, and he was no longer sure he would be able to fit in with them anymore.
Another thought that hit him was that he hadn't been feeling the usual misery that went with seeing or thinking about Buffy, and while he was relieved, he also wanted to know whether it was a temporary thing like before, caused by the spell he'd experienced earlier. He knew that now Buffy and the others were aware that he was alive, it would be very difficult for him to leave again, at least for very long, and if he had to go through the emotional rollercoaster he went through before, he'd rather not get reacquainted with them at all and get their hopes up.
His options were taken away from him when the front door was flung open and a small blur came flying out, latching itself onto Buffy.
"You're alive!" Dawn, Xander's mind supplied from his new memories, screamed as she tried to hug her 'sister' in half. "You're alive!" She suddenly let go and looked Buffy in the eye. "Why are you alive?" she demanded.
Buffy rolled her eyes at the last question, but the smile didn't leave her face as she saw that Dawn was alive and well. "It's good to see you too," she told her sister sincerely, a shimmer coming to her eyes.
Dawn turned to see who was with Buffy, and when she saw someone completely unexpected she released her sister to grab them in a hug as strong. "Xander!" she squealed, completely ignoring the small part of her brain that suggested he might be dangerous as she buried her face into his chest with a happy sigh.
"Hey Dawn Patrol," he said softly, feeling a little uncomfortable. On the one hand he knew her as Dawn Summers, younger sister to Buffy and unofficial president of the 'Xander is Great Fan Club'. On the other hand, he didn't know her at all and was feeling a little weirded out having her cling to him so readily.
"You know," Dawn began, her tone mischievous, "I thought your middle name was Lavelle, not Lazarus."
"Gah! Not the middle name, never the middle name!" he told her, still fighting the slightly disoriented feeling he had interacting with her. "I take it that you're none the worse for wear after your little adventure earlier today?"
"Yeah; it looked like the blade Doc used on me was enchanted or something, as my wound had healed after just a minute or two. Of course," she went on, "being the total spaz that I am, I didn't even realise until Giles wiped the blood off."
Before either of them could contradict her, Dawn grabbed their hands and all but dragged them into the house, which given the amount of demonic activity they'd seen wasn't a bad idea.
With Jack and the others following suit, the Summers house was getting pretty full, which meant that Xander had nowhere to manoeuvre when Willow came barrelling up to him and engulfed him in a hug similar to the ones he'd received from both Summers women. If Buffy hadn't put a steady hand out, Xander was certain that they'd have fallen to the floor in a heap, waiting a moment before allowing herself to be pulled into a crushing hug by Giles, who had thought that the woman he thought of as a daughter had left him once again.
When Xander realised the noises he was hearing was Willow babbling, he felt a pang of regret that he had trouble getting it all. When he'd been able to decipher what Fred had been saying, he had thought that some skills never leave; that may still be true, but skills do dull with time, and he was just finding that out.
A pretty mousy blonde seemed to see his predicament and decided to take pity on him. "She says that she always knew you weren't dead," she told him softly, Xander assuming that she was a naturally quiet person, "as she didn't feel that you were dead like she had with Jesse, but never brought it up because she knew how the others would react. I'm Tara by the way," she added, her hair covering her face suddenly as though she willed it, which given that she was probably a witch was very possible.
"I'm Xander," he told her in greeting, "and it's always nice to meet someone who can make Willow happy, as Willow's should always be happy; Xander's law."
"Well, I'm nothing if not law abiding," she assured him with a smile.
"That's good to know." Xander looked down to the redheaded limpet attached to him and kissed the top of her head. "Willow, Giles over there looks like he either wants to hug me or examine me, and he can't do either until you're out of the way."
The person in question suddenly felt a little hot under the collar as everyone turned to face him, their faces showing a spectrum of emotions between confusion and anger. Seeing that the situation could escalate, especially when he saw Jack starting to go for his weapon, Xander gently extricated himself from Willow and moved himself between Giles and the rest of the group. "Hey Giles," he greeted the older man warmly, "long time no see."
"Good evening Xander," Giles replied cordially, but coolly, "if that is indeed who you are."
Xander didn't blame Giles for being suspicious; he'd probably be worried if he hadn't been, especially given the way Dawn and Willow had rushed over to him regardless of the risk. Of course being rational only works so far, and to see someone he respected and thought of as a mentor look at him with distrust in his eyes hurt a lot.
First things first, he needed to prove that he was not a member of the fangy community, something he did quite easily as he pulled a cross out from his back pocket and held it in his hand.
"Do you have any holy water on you?" he asked the older man, who pulled a vial out from within his jacket and passed it over to him. Without a pause, Xander opened the vial and downed the water in one go, doing it in such a way that it was clear to Giles that the liquid was indeed gone down his throat.
"Okay," Giles said, "you've proven that you're not a vampire, but you may well be a demon of some kind assuming Xander's form."
"Shoot me, stuff me, mount me."
The others looked at Xander strangely for the non-sequitor, but Giles' eyes widened as a memory unspooled within his mind of the time Xander had been possessed by the spirit of a hyena. After the event, Xander had told the others that he couldn't remember a thing during his possession, but a private conversation between the two had revealed that Giles knew otherwise, and it was then that Xander had uttered that phrase.
Only Giles and Xander were there, and the newly re-appointed Watcher had never betrayed Xander's confidence, and he was certain that Xander had never told another soul, meaning that the young man standing in front of him truly was Xander. Instead of letting the others know of his change of opinion verbally, he pulled the younger man into a hug, pleased beyond words that Xander was indeed alive and well.
"It's good to see you my boy," he told Xander sincerely as he released him, before pinning him with a piercing gaze. "Now, if you would be so kind as to explain why it took you two years to inform us of your continued existence?"
"I will," he assured him, "but there are more pressing concerns right now."
"Like?" he asked, not happy with the delay.
"Glorificus for one. I know that Buffy put the beat down on her before she took a swan dive, but nothing after that. Do we know for certain that she's dead?"
"She's dead," Giles assured them, his tone certain.
"How can you be so sure?" The Doctor asked, always needing physical proof before he was able to accept anything.
"Because I killed her," the Watcher told him, "or at least the human host she'd been bound to."
"You did what?!" The Doctor snapped. "How could you be so stupid!?"
"Xander, just who are these people?" Giles asked, finding the man's attitude grating. The fact that he had a British accent only made it more galling, as he was starting to remind him of the inner circle of the Council.
"I suppose introductions are in order; Giles, Willow, Tara, I would like you to meet The Doctor, Rose Tyler, and Captain Jack Harkness. Jack, Doc, Rose, I would like you to meet Rupert Giles, Willow Rosenberg and Tara…" he trailed off as he realised he didn't know what Tara's last name was.
"Maclay," Tara supplied, nodding slightly to the others.
"A doctor of what may I ask?" Giles enquired, earning a raised eyebrow from the man in question.
"Xander asked me the same thing."
"The answer being?" Giles asked a little impatiently.
"It's my name, not my title. My title is Time Lord."
"Good Lord," Giles exclaimed, his eyes showing recognition to the title, which only Xander saw.
"No, Time Lord," The Doctor corrected with a smirk.
"So you're a lord of time?" Buffy asked, her tone sceptical.
Before Xander had a chance to intervene, The Doctor spoke. "My word you're intelligent, you got all that just from my title?" The Doctor mocked, not realising something rather fundamental; never piss off a Slayer when they're within striking distance. He never saw the blow coming, and he felt the pain of colliding with the wall before he felt the pain in his jaw.
Xander walked over and crouched down next to The Doctor, a slightly amused expression on his face but a dark look in his eyes. "I may have neglected to inform you of Buffy's title, although I would have rather thought that you'd have figured it out for yourself on the walk here. May I once again introduce you to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
Buffy nodded her head again in greeting, The Doctor noticing that the look in her eyes meant that she wouldn't hesitate to do the same thing again. Xander moved in closer and spoke softly into The Doctor's ear, ensuring that no one, not even Buffy, could listen in. "You may well be used to being able to say whatever you like and not regretting the consequences, but around here you better damn well find yourself a mental filter."
"It seems you left out a few details about your life before arriving aboard the TARDIS Xander," The Doctor said eventually as he slowly got to his feet.
"No he didn't," Jack said cutting into the conversation, "he told me all about his friends, barring their names of course."
"He never mentioned them to me," he groused, the look he had in his eyes making Xander feel a little guilty.
"Well maybe he thought I'd actually listen," Jack retorted. "You're not exactly the most sociable of people."
"Let's get back on track shall we?" Rose said, getting between the three Time Lords. "Sometimes I think you're all related to the Three Stooges."
"Nyuk Nyuk," Xander said, forcing a laugh out of Rose and releasing some of the tension in the room. "Why are you so worked up over Giles killing Glory's human host?" he asked The Doctor. "I know you're not a fan of killing, but I think we can all see that there was no other choice."
"Glory's abilities were muted because she was tied to a mortal; by killing the host, those limitations no longer exist. You've gone from dealing with a handicapped Hell Goddess, to one who has full use of all her abilities." The Doctor turned his attention to Giles, whose face showed he was well aware of what he had done. "Congratulations, you've made things a hundred times worse."
Xander got right up into The Doctor's face, the Time Lord actually backing up a step as he saw the look in his eyes. He realised now that Xander was right; he really did need to engage his mental filter. He was so used to dealing with strangers, only interacting with them enough to avert whatever crisis he found himself in, that he never bothered himself with simple niceties. Now his lack of common courtesy had put him in the path of Xander's anger, and The Doctor knew that was somewhere he most definitely did not want to be.
"I really urge you to keep your damn mouth closed unless you have something important to say," Xander told him quietly. "You are my friend, and I respect you a great deal, but if you insult my family again, we will be having words."
"I had understood it from what the Council had told us that Glory, or The Beast as they called her, had been on Earth a lot longer than her human host, Ben, had been alive. If that is the case, why was she not freed before now?" Willow wondered aloud, her question causing the two Time Lords to silently agree to a truce.
"My best guess," The Doctor replied, "is that it was more the way he died than the actual event. I take it that there was some sort of masking spell making it difficult for people to remember who she was bonded with?"
"Yes," Buffy told him, "I'm almost certain that had been around when they changed from one to the other, but all I can remember is that one moment Ben was there and the next minute Glory was using me as a human lawn dart."
The low menacing growl that suddenly came from Xander made them all turn to face him, the man in question blushing slightly from both the action and the extra attention. "Sorry, instinct."
"Has anyone ever told you you're a strange individual?" Rose asked him with a smile.
"Not in so many words, but they surely got the point across."
"Can we get back to my brilliant supposition please?" The Doctor asked in frustration.
"Oh please, amaze us with your brilliance Mr. Perfection," Xander said, faking a southern belle whilst batting his eyelashes.
The Doctor sighed but went on with his theory. "I would assume that because Giles was well aware of who Ben was, and that his reason for killing him was in the hope that by doing so Glory too would perish, it was enough to break whatever it was that chained her to a mortal soul to begin with."
"Alright, as Dawn is still here, Glory might well have been returned from whence she came…"
"When did you start using whence?" Buffy asked Xander playfully.
"… but we have no real way of knowing whether this Glorificus is gone or not," Xander went on, ignoring Buffy's comment with all the dignity he could muster, "so we have to assume that she isn't. That means we have to figure out a way of tracking her, and to protect Dawn in the mean time now that Glory knows that she is the Key."
"We've tried several different locator spells in the past, and each time with no result," Giles told them, his frustration over the situation showing in his voice.
"Okay, we'll get on to that soon, but the first thing we need to do is check everybody over for injuries; Jesse gave me a few things that will help."
"Jesse?" Willow asked.
"I'll introduce you to him later Wills," Xander assured her, knowing that he had to prepare for that beforehand, "I know you're gonna want to meet him and Eve."
"At least with you getting your own ship I won't have to listen to you calling the TARDIS that silly name," The Doctor commented, earning himself a slap to the head from Rose.
"I may not be able to talk to her myself," she told him, still feeling a little put out by that fact, "but I do know that she likes the name Eve, so I won't stop calling her that."
"Nor will I," Jack agreed, gaining a smile from Rose the he reciprocated wholeheartedly. "And we'll look into a way for you to speak with her as well, alright?" he asked, Rose nodding and smiling even wider.
"Xander," Willow began tentatively as she saw what he was removing from the satchel over his shoulder, "why are you playing with a tricorder?"
"I'm not playing," he replied as he ran the device up and down Dawn's body checking for injuries that might have been missed, "and it's a medical tricorder."
"Oh." Willow looked blankly at him as he used the device for several moments before speaking again. "Xander, why are you playing with a medical tricorder?"
Xander sighed and after verifying that Dawn was fine, went over to her and began to do the same thing, thankful that she wasn't protesting. "It's real Wills; Gene Roddenberry received a visit from Jesse's previous crew and he took inspiration from what he saw,"
"You hit your head recently didn't you?" she asked, worried for his state of mind.
"He's telling you the truth Willow," Buffy told her, kneeling down next to Xander, "I've seen Jesse and he looks just like one of those shuttlecraft you see on the show. He's got a phaser as well, but he won't let me use it," she added with a pout pointed in his direction.
"I've already told you why not, so don't blame me," he informed her with a smile, relishing the ability to do so unencumbered.
Soon, he was finished checking on Willow and turned to Tara, who nodded her consent to his silent question and allowed him to check her over in the same manner. As he was doing so, he heard a quiet beeping noise coming from his chest, and remembered that Jesses had given him a communicator so that they wouldn't be out of contact for long.
"Xander here," he said in his best imitation of Commander William T Riker, which while not all that good still caused Willow to giggle.
"I hope you don't mind Alexander," Jesse began, "but I have been listening in on your conversation thus far and took it upon myself to see if I would be able to find a way of tracking Glorificus."
"I take it you've found a way." Xander assumed, looking up at Willow as he heard her gasp in shock and saw her face turn ashen.
"Jesse," she whispered, tears coming to her eyes as she though of her dearly departed friend, something she hadn't allowed herself to do too often.
"I'd hoped that I could have explained before you heard him," Xander told her as he pulled her into a hug, "but as we both know things don't turn out as you expected on the Hellmouth."
"I miss him," she said softly into his ear, the first time she had admitted such a thing to her oldest friend.
"I know, me too."
"I'm sorry if I have caused you any distress Mss Rosenberg," Jesse said sincerely, "but I felt that I could not wait to inform Alexander of my findings. Having interacted with Glorificus' kind before, I have her race's energy signature in my database. Taking into account how it would diminish and change from her time being merged with a human, although that would soon change, and the natural dampening effect the Hellmouth's energies produce, I have managed to get a rough estimate of her current location."
"Okay, but why was it necessary to tell us now?" Xander asked, a bad feeling in his gut.
"Because she is currently half a mile from your location and closing fast."
"Shit!" Xander swore, quickly standing up and begin pacing the floor. "Do you know if the phaser I have will be of any use?"
"Uncertain; it wouldn't have affected her before, but being bound to a human host for so long may have weakened her sufficiently for it to work, but even then you would need it to be on the maximum setting."
"Great, and if I miss I'll take out half the neighbourhood. Okay, new plan; we make a run for it. Jesse, how long could you be on the Hellmouth before your systems become affected?"
"Approximately fifteen minutes before the damage would become permanent," Jesse informed him, "less than five before I'm affected at all."
"That's more than long enough. I'm gonna need you to act as a distraction while Eve comes in and picks us up and you follow right behind. Are you two okay with that?" As soon as he'd finished the question, the unmistakable sound of Eve arriving could be heard in the back garden. "I'll take that as a yes. Alright everyone, all aboard that's coming aboard, the Eve Express to Freedom will be departing shortly."
"How much should I worry about collateral damage?" Jesse asked.
"Do what you have to, but try to at least leave this house intact," Xander replied as he made his way through the house into the kitchen, the others following closely behind.
"How are we all going to fit inside that Xander?" Willow asked as she saw Eve in the garden. "It barely looks big enough to fit two, let alone all of us."
"Trust me," he told her as he opened the door to Eve, "appearances can be deceptive."
They all followed him inside, those who hadn't done so before making the appropriate noises of shock and awe while The Doctor, Jack and Xander took up positions at her central console.
"Seeing as you've obviously been holding back on us," The Doctor told Xander, "you can get us out of here."
Xander didn't bother to reply, instead he began to handle the control like he was born to do so, which in a way he was.
Where would you like to go Alexander? Eve enquired.
Britain, present day. Giles should know a few people who could help figure out a way to deal with Glorificus, and it's far enough away to buy us a few hours at least.
"You are of course working under the assumption that she doesn't have the ability to travel unaided," The Doctor pointed out verbally, making the others look at him a little strangely.
"If she were able to do so, we wouldn't have had the time to get away," Xander replied as the three of them manned the controls to plot the course to Britain. "Giles, is there anywhere in Britain we can go to lay low for a while?"
"My family has an estate in Surrey we can use," Giles replied, giving the younger man the address.
"Excellent, we'll be able to see how the other half live for a while," Xander said absently while programming the coordinates into Eve. "By the way Giles, how many files do the Council have on The Doctor?"
"I'm not sure, maybe…" Giles trailed off as he realised his mistake. "How did you know?"
"I may have been gone a while," Xander said with a smile. "but I doubt you'd have changed that much. You always say good lord when you've been told something important, and you said it when you were told our title."
"Our?" Giles asked, looking at Xander intently. "What do you mean, our?"
"Just what I said, our. The Doctor, Jack and I are the last three remaining Time Lords, although The Doctor is the only one born into it naturally."
"Xander, if these Council people have files on us, do you think it wise to say anything else?" Jack asked, The Doctor remaining strangely silent.
"I'd already told Buffy, so Giles would have found out eventually anyway."
"Are you saying I can't keep a secret?" Buffy asked faux-indignantly.
"Wills and I found out about you being the Slayer within 24 hours of meeting you," he reminded her seriously, before a smile came to his face, "but as I never told you that it was a secret, you wouldn't have needed to keep it." Xander turned his attention to Jack. "Giles is trustworthy Jack, and the great thing is that if he did somehow lose all of his marbles and betray me, he knows that he wouldn't get to see another sunrise."
"Now see here…"
"No Giles," Buffy said cutting him off, "Xander's right. The main difference between the evil that we fight and us is that we have people that we can trust, that we can count on. If we lose that, if someone we've trusted betrays us, we have to deal with them more harshly than anyone else."
"I wasn't threatening you Giles," Xander informed him, "as I know I don't need to. If I ever betrayed any of you, I know that it would most probably be the last thing I'd do because you would ensure it."
"You're right of course," Giles conceded, "it's just not something we've ever said aloud before."
"I probably could have worded it differently," Xander admitted, albeit reluctantly, "so for that I apologise."
"No apology needed," Giles assured him, "if the roles were reversed I probably would have been the same."
"If we've gotten the touchy feely stuff out of the way," The Doctor said impatiently, "we've landed at the coordinates."
"Is he always this cranky?" Buffy asked in a theatrical whisper, earning herself a glare from the man in question.
"Only after getting caught when he doesn't want to," Xander replied in the same manner, "The Doctor hates getting caught if he didn't plan it himself."
"He plans to get caught?" Buffy asked incredulously, wondering whether The Doctor should see a doctor of his own while at the same time finding it hilarious.
"Oh yeah, all the time," Xander said brightly, knowing The Doctor could hear every word.
"The best way to find out what's going on is to ask, and the best way to speak with the one with all the answers is to be taken to them," The Doctor replied matter-of-factly, even though there was a twinkle in his eye that made Buffy believe that there was more to him than she had seen. Of course, there had to be, as if he were like this 27/7, she knew that Xander would not hold him in such high regard.
"Well Giles, you know this place better than most so why don't you lead the way?" Xander suggested, receiving a nod of acquiescence from the man in question.
With Giles in the lead, the group left Eve, noticing that Jesse had landed adjacent to them, and saw that they were in a large meadow with a grand manor house off in the distance.
"While I can tell that we're not exactly in a heavily populated area," Xander began, a small smile on his face as he realised the underestimation of his statement, "is it safe for a bright blue police box and a space ship to be left out in the open like this?"
"Unlike Eve," Jesse said, "I have the capability of changing my external appearance to better blend in with my surroundings, although it is only the technological equivalent of a glamour spell. I might be able to expand that field to include Eve for a short while, but it would only be a temporary measure."
"How long?" Xander asked.
"Eighteen hours; I might be able to stretch it to a day, but I would prefer not to."
"There should be no need," Giles assured Jesse, "I have a few contacts to call, and as it is early morning right now I won't have to wait before doing so. Once we've got the information we need, we could look into alternative measures, or simply move somewhere else. I have to say that I do believe the Council gave us all the information they had available on Glory, so we might not gain any further insight. A more detailed search could become fruitful, but I'm not sure we have the time for that."
"If we cannot find a way to effectively remove her as a threat," Xander said, "we'll have to find a way. Simple banishment won't be sufficient, as I won't knowingly let such an evil torment someone else just to get her out of our hair. I don't want her to get Dawn anymore than the rest of you, but could you live with yourself if you doomed another planet to untold misery?"
"No," Dawn said before anyone else could reply. "I know you all want to protect me, and I'm more than grateful believe me, but I won't sacrifice innocent people just to keep me safe, especially as we have no idea whether she wouldn't find a way back some time in the future and come after me again."
"Dawn's right," Giles agreed, "we must find a way to eliminate her completely, anything less will simply not do."
"If that's the case, then it would be wise to begin that detailed search of yours," Xander commented.
"Would that I could Xander, but even if she doesn't have supernatural means with which to travel, Glory will be no more than a day or two from finding us. The monks sent Dawn to us because the Hellmouth helped mask her energy signature; now that she is away from it Glory shall be able to track her down with ease."
"Start it anyway," Jack told him, "we have a few hours to decide either way, and it won't hurt to start. In the meantime, The Doctor and I can begin to think of ways to keep Glory busy to buy us some extra time, while Xander gets reacquainted with his family."
No one could see a fault in his thinking, so everybody acquiesced to Jack's suggestions and went their separate ways.
It was almost midday, and their time was running out before they had to start thinking of other ways to keep Dawn safe. Giles had gone off to call everyone he knew who might have information on Glory, or know people who might, whilst going through his family library to see if it held any pertinent information. Knowing the way Giles was with books, the others knew that his family library had to be pretty extensive, which meant he could well be in there long after their self imposed time limit came up.
Willow and Tara had follow Giles to the library, knowing that there would no doubt be a variety of magical texts that could very well come in handy. Willow had been able to go up against Glory briefly before becoming outclassed, and she hoped that by teaming up with Tara their combined power would be enough to do some major damage, at least momentarily.
Jack and The Doctor, with the help of Rose and Eve, began to think of ways to postpone and delay Glory in her attempts to find Dawn, The Doctor and Eve using their knowledge of Glory's species to come up with ways to disrupt her abilities, or at least fool them. While neither one knew Dawn or the others very well, Xander did and while he had his bad points, he was an excellent judge of character, and his ability to sense whether a person were trustworthy or not had saved them on more than one occasion. More then that, Xander was one of them, a Time Lord, and while he and Jack had only been so for a short time, they had in The Doctor's opinion earned the title, although he'd never say as such, and therefore his loyalty.
That left Xander, Dawn, Buffy and Jesse. After Eve had transported herself inside the mansion, easily fitting inside the ballroom, Jesse had suggested taking the young girl's mind off of things by taking her for a more leisurely ride around the countryside. He'd also shown them to the dining area, where they found that replicators were also real, Dawn making use of them by requesting a wide variety of coma inducing desserts and pastries. Buffy and Xander had joined in with the impromptu pig out session, although not with quite the enthusiasm.
"You know there's a good chance we won't find a way to get rid of Glory before the deadline don't you?" Xander said to Buffy softly, mindful of Dawn who was now snoring slightly after coming down from the sugar high.
"Yeah," she replied sadly. "We threw everything we had at her last time, and although it seemed to have some effect, it wasn't lasting. To know that she wasn't even at full power scares me more than I've felt in a long, long time."
"I've been thinking of a way to keep Dawn out of Glory's hands while the others kept researching ways to destroy her."
"I'm listening," she told him, sensing that he was nervous about something.
"Did you know that we could be away for months, maybe even years, and for everyone else only a moment would pass?"
Buffy had been thrown by the question for a moment before the meaning behind it hit her. Her eyes widened as she realised that Xander was asking her and Dawn to go with him, to turn tail and run away until they knew it was safe to return. She now knew why he'd been reticent to bring it up; if there was one thing she hated more than anything else was to run away. This time however, it wasn't about her, it was about Dawn, and she would do anything to ensure her sister's safety, even if it meant running away.
"What does Jesse think about this?" she asked, trying to buy herself time.
"I think that it would be the most prudent course of action given the circumstances," Jesse told her before Xander could respond. "As Xander told you, we could be gone for months and yet return only moments later, at least to the perception of the others."
"Glory is only able to track Dawn," Xander went on, "which means that she wouldn't be able to find the others, which would keep them safe to continue researching. I know that The Doctor will get itchy feet if he stayed around too long, but I know that Cordelia and the others would be more than happy to help. We could leave a way for them to contact us wherever, or whenever, we are, and we could return in an instant."
"You're really making it difficult to say no," Buffy told him, "which isn't difficult as I wasn't going to say no anyway."
"You weren't?" he asked, surprised but also pleased.
"No; Dawn is my focus here, not my ego. If we need to leave to keep her safe, then that's what we'll do. However, I'd only do it if there were not other alternative."
"You sure know how to make a man feel wanted don't you Buff," Xander quipped, but Buffy could sense that he felt a little hurt.
"It isn't that I don't want to be around you, far from it in fact," she assured him, "but the last time we were this close you pretty much told me it was torturous for you. I'd spoken to Giles about what you'd told me that day," she went on, Xander nodding to say he'd thought she might, "and he was astounded that you hadn't become completely catatonic from the emotional blitzkrieg you were under. I haven't seen you acting like that recently, but I'm worried that my being around you will cause a relapse or something."
"I don't know what to tell you," Xander replied, "as I'm not sure myself. When I first found myself on Eve, the depression and sadness I'd been weighed down by had dissipated, but it didn't last long and by the time Jack came back to the fold the feelings had returned. I don't know why I'm not feeling the way I used to around you, but this is one gift horse I won't even be acknowledging, let alone look into it's mouth."
"I may be able to enlighten you on that Alexander," Jesse told him, joining the conversation once more, "although it will be more of a theory than anything else. I'm not sure if you've taken a lot of time to filter through the second set of memories you now have of you time in Sunnydale," he went on, both Buffy and Xander listening attentively, "but I would hazard a guess that in those memories you didn't go through the experience with the Ytin'e'res did not take place, and that there were other factors that led you to casting the spell on the Mayor."
"Why not?" Xander asked, not exactly sure what he should be feeling about the whole thing.
"What you did, breaking free of their hold over you of your own accord, is quite simply unbelievable, mainly due to the fact that no other case has ever been recorded in recorded history, and I am included the Time Lord database in that. Even if the monks had been told of what had occurred, they would not have believed it, and therefore would not have included it in your new memories."
"Alright, say that everything you just told me is correct, how does that relate to Xander not feeling the way he used to when around me?" Buffy asked.
"I still feel the same way about you Buffy," Xander told her sincerely, "I just don't have the nasty after effects anymore."
"As I was saying Buffy," Jesse went on, not giving Buffy the opportunity to reply to Xander's statement, "having two different sets of memories regarding that night onwards, the affects have been, for want of a better term, diluted."
"That makes no sense," Xander told him, "especially as Buffy and the others remember what happened to me that night. If what you said was true, wouldn't their memories have been altered too?"
"You were the only one to experience what actually happened Alexander; the other might have been aware of what occurred, but they didn't have memories of what actually happened. Even though Buffy was aware of most of it due to the fact that you told her, she still didn't know specifics, and was therefore unable to fully grasp what you went through. Add to that the fact that you weren't around at the time the monks cast the spell, and there was no reason to alter their perceptions of that night."
"Are you telling me that I actually have different memories of Dawn to the others? What stupid kind of spell is that?" Xander asked incredulously.
"Up until that night no, all of your memories of her should be the same," Jesse explained, "but after it is quite possible that some of the memories you have of Dawn will differentiate with her own. My best suggestion is to simply not mention anything you 'remember' of Dawn after that night. As to the spell, the monks were not infallible and with the pressure of Glory looming over them they simply didn't have the time to prepare for all eventualities, especially as they no doubt believed you to be dead."
"Getting back to the topic at hand," Buffy said, "do you know if the side effects will return?"
"I'm afraid not," Jesse answered reluctantly, quickly going on when he sensed both Buffy and Xander's mood at the news, "I know that isn't what you wanted to hear Alexander, but I simply cannot give you a definitive answer. The only way we will know for sure is to wait."
"I can't make your life a living hell again Xander," Buffy told him, her eyes moistening slightly, "I just can't."
"I'm willing to take the risk Buffy," Xander assured her, putting his hand on her shoulder, "and as it is my body we're talking about here I get the deciding vote. Anyway," he went on, "if we do need to get Dawn out of here, I can't see you staying behind, so you really don't have much choice."
"I just don't want to cause you any more pain," she mumbled as she battled with her emotions.
"Life is pain Buffy, you know that more than most, just like you know that you have to risk a little pain to do the right thing."
"A little pain? From what I remember, you tried to kill yourself numerous times, and only stopped when you found that you couldn't die."
"Yeah, well, you… Dawn's worth it."
Buffy bit her bottom lip upon hearing Xander's slip of the tongue, not knowing quite what to say. The last time she had properly talked with Xander, not including when he killed Dick, she had told him that she could never see them becoming an item. She'd known almost immediately what he answer had done to him, and as Xander went on to explain just what he went through she'd come to understand the full ramifications of what her answer had meant to him.
What she hadn't known was what her answer meant to herself, at least not until later.
While Xander had become increasingly distant before her talk with him, he's practically dropped off the face of the earth afterwards, and it was then that she really started to realise just how much she missed him in her life. Almost from the moment she arrived in Sunnydale Xander had been there, and without her even realising he had become a calming and necessary presence in her otherwise hectic life.
His ability to joke even in the face of death lightened up an otherwise bleak existence; his stalwart belief that she could overcome any and obstacles that might get in her way, even when everyone else thought otherwise, was sometimes all she needed to prove him right; his willingness to fight alongside her despite the odds made her feel that she wasn't alone against the darkness. He had gone out with her on patrol night after night, knowing that he was up against things stronger and faster than him and that he might not live to see sunrise, and even though he would joke about his lack of courage he never shrank from a fight, nor did he ever run away.
He had done so much for her, and for her to fully appreciate it he had to take it all away from her. In a way that was his own fault, although she felt guilty for thinking so, as he was so unassuming, so ready to play down his own part in things, that it was easy to overlook and even expect it as normal, instead of seeing it as extraordinary. By the time her thoughts had made what was now their logical conclusion, she knew that Xander would not believe her, believing her to be saying what he wanted to hear in some vain attempt to help.
After the battle at Graduation, Buffy and the others had gathered at Giles' apartment and she had explained what she had seen Xander do. Giles was quickly able to explain to them just what he had done, the sacrifice he had made on their behalf, and while she knew it was egotistical Buffy knew that he had done it for her more for anyone else. She had been able to take some small amount of solace in the fact that he too was at peace, or at least not in a constant state of despair, but her feelings for him had not dwindled.
She hadn't wallowed in misery, although there were times when she would have happily done just that, instead she had gone to college and thrown herself into her work, and stepped up a gear in her training with Giles, ensuring that she had little to no time for a social life. There had been a couple of potential candidates for boyfriend material, but hadn't allowed herself to pursue it as she knew that she would have only given them false hope. Later, as her mom's health began to deteriorate and Glory began to make her presence felt, it gave her more things to take her mind off of missed opportunities and dreams of what could have been.
Then as she jumped from the tower into the portal Doc had opened with the spilling of Dawn's blood, she did it knowing that closing the portal would save her friends and family, and hoping that she would wind up in the same place Xander went to when he vanished in a flash of light, and as luck would have it she did.
The only problem was that now that he was right in front of her, she was scared out of her mind to tell him how she feels. Everybody she loves leaves; her dad, her mom, Angel, and even Xander, and she wasn't sure she could tell someone else that they loved them and have them leave again.
"I hope you know what you're letting yourself in for Xander," she warned playfully, shelving that particular line of thought for later.
"I have a pretty good idea," he replied with a grin.
Their self-imposed deadline had come and gone, and the decision to leave had been made. Dawn had been surprisingly amenable about the whole thing, and the group had breathed a sigh of relief of that, given that Dawn Summers in full on tantrum mode was something to behold, not to mention downright scary.
Willow had extracted promises from all three to keep in contact, with threats of doing some not very nice things to them if they didn't. She also spent some time with Jesse, talking about some of the more technological aspects behind what a TARDIS truly is, whilst reminiscing over his namesake.
The Doctor, along with Jack and Rose, promised to stay a while longer to aid in the research, interspersed with sessions of demonology 101 with the Watcher, and that once they were on their way they would be on the lookout for anything that would help with getting rid of Glory once and for all. Xander knew that if anyone could find something to help, it would be those three.
Knowing that being away from home for would be difficult for the pair, Xander and Jesse had risked returning to Sunnydale to gather up a few of their personal belongings, hoping to make Jesse feel more homely for them. The young Time Lord was looking forward to reconnecting with Buffy, and to finally gain first hand knowledge of just what sort of person Dawn Summers was. He still had reservations concerning what would happen if the side effects were to return, but he had decided not to let them ruin what could be a truly pleasurable experience.
A wise decision, Jesse told him, his tone indicating his approval with the idea. One should never allow thoughts of what could happen to dampen the appreciation of what would happen.
I have to ask, Xander replied, did you ever meet Confucius?
All Xander received was the mental impression of a smirk.
Xander caught movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see Buffy and Dawn walking towards him, travel bags at the ready, with Willow, Giles and the others following behind. "So, you two ready to go?" he asked, receiving nods in the affirmative from the two young ladies.
"You better take good care of them Xander," Giles warned, "otherwise I will take great joy in confirming whether your immortality is indeed as all encompassing as you believe."
"Believe me Giles, the only way either of them will get hurt is if I'm already dead," Xander assured the older man as they shook hands.
"Now that the big strong men have assured that the little women will be okay," Buffy said sarcastically, levelling a half serious glare at the pair, "can we get moving?"
"Before you go," The Doctor interjected, stepping forward, "I want you to have thins Xander."
The Doctor then pulled out a small glass sphere from his jacket and handed it over to Xander, who looked quizzically at it. "What is it?"
"It's a communication device."
"Why would we need another one?" Xander asked. "Not that I don't appreciate the gift Doc, it's just that I thought we'd already assured that we would be able to reach each other if we needed to."
"We did, but I had been reminded that there was someone else we needed to consider."
"Who is that?"
Me, Eve replied. The device you now hold in your hand will enable you to communicate with me telepathically no matter where, or when, you find yourself.
Xander looked at the globe and then back to The Doctor, a wide beaming smile lighting up his face. "Thank you," he told him sincerely.
"The old girl would have moaned at me non-stop if I hadn't done something."
I do not moan, Eve told him primly.
"I was talking about Rose," The Doctor replied cheekily, instinctively ducking his head to narrowly miss getting hit by the woman in question. "Being serious now, I want you to take care of yourself," the Time Lord told Xander, "There aren't many of us left, and I've gotten used to not being the last of my kind."
"I'll be as careful with my life as you will with yours," Xander assured him.
"You better not," Jack told him with a grin, "The Doctor doesn't have a self preserving bone in his body." He then stepped forward and grabbed Xander into a hug, before shifting back and placing a quick kiss on Xander's lips. "We'll see you soon, so you better have some stories to tell us when we do."
"I'm sure that between the three of us the chances of getting in the middle of things is a certainty," Xander told his friend, doing his best to hide his reaction to the kiss for fear of hurting him. He had always known that Jack's ideas on sexuality differed from his own, coming from a different period in history and all, but Xander still felt a little uncomfortable with it, although it was more to do with the way his father had 'raised' him than because he had a problem with it himself.
The moment Jack stepped away a redheaded missile collided with Xander, Willow wrapping her arms around him in almost a death grip. "I'm gonna miss you," she mumbled into his chest, "I just got you back and you're already leaving again."
"But this time you know for a fat that I'll be coming back," Xander assured her, kissing the top of her head.
"Come one sweetie," Tara said softly as she gently pried her girlfriend off of Xander, "they have to get going."
Xander nodded to Tara in thanks and moved towards Jesse, where Buffy and Dawn were already inside waiting for him. After one final wave, Xander stepped inside and went over to the main console, sitting down in the plush leather chair, Buffy and Dawn taking seat either side of him.
"Alright Jesse," Xander began, "you know more about the universe then the three of us put together, so could you pick somewhere nice to start off our journey?"
A screen in front of him came to life, and Jesse's face appeared. "I'm sure I can think of something." There was a moment or two of silence before Jesse sighed. "Go on, you can say it."
Xander stood up, performed the 'Picard Manoeuvre', and smiled widely. "Engaged."