Disclaimer: I don't own the X-Men or Buffy.
Summary: Xander is back home on the Hellmouth, but with a war between humans and mutants brewing will he be able to stay there for long? Story is set right after Soldier X so read that first.
Authors Notes: This is it folks the last story in the series. I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have.
As Xander looked at the people at the Bronze he wondered if it had really been only four months ago that he had been just like them.
Okay, so he hadn't been just like them from the moment one Buffy Anne Summers and walked into his life and he had started to help her kill undead creatures that shouldn't exist. Extracurricular activities aside though the young man figured that it had been about four months from the moment he had first driven past the Welcome to Sunnydale sign as he left on his road trip.
Starting from that point Xander figured he had spent about two and a half months seeing the sights that the good old US of A had to offer him, as well as working at various jobs to earn money to pay for gas and food so he could see more sights. Then about a month and a half of fun and joy with mutants, ending with a cross country flight and a taxi ride home bringing him to now.
Now meaning him hanging at the Bronze after even more fun and joy moments where he learned that he now had to pay rent to live in his parent's basement. It seemed to fit with how the later part of the summer had gone though, so he wasn't as upset by it as he could be.
But so help him, if one more thing went wrong he was going to start punching every man named Murphy he came across until he found the one that was messing with his life.
Just then Xander saw a certain blond that had starred in many of his high school dreams. He hadn't expected to run into Buffy or Willow here, but he wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to talk to one of his best friends when the universe finally decided to cut him a break.
"The whole world in front of her, and she comes back to this dive," said Xander as he closed the distance between himself and one of his best friends.
"Xander!" cried Buffy as she went to give her friend a one armed hug. "When did you get back?"
"Last night. I was planning to hook up with you and Willow on Saturday, 'cause I don't know what strange hours my college friends have their classes."
"I missed you. How was your trip? Is America nice? I hear America is nice," said Buffy in a rapid fire motion that had Xander a little worried. Out of his two female friends Buffy was usually the more laid back one, and seeing her approach Willow babble was setting off a few of his best friend alarms.
"There's some purple mountains majesty, I'm going to have to say," said Xander figuring that Buffy would talk when she wanted to talk.
"What'd you do? What'd you see?"
"Well, the first stop was the Redwood Forest, and I must say being able to drive your car through a tree is of the cool. Form there is was up north to see Mt. St. Helens, because volcanos are always fun despite a disappointing lack of lava. Then I went east doing the normal tourist stops at The Worlds Largest Ball of Twine, the Liberty Bell, Niagara Falls, and Fort Ticonderoga."
"Wow," said Buffy clearly impressed with what he had seen.
"My car decided to die in New York, so from there it was work to get a plane ticket home to my loving parents, where everything is exactly the same except now I sleep in the basement and have to pay rent.
"So how's college?"
"Living in the basement?"
"I like to think of it as their own twisted way of trying to get me out of the house so I can become an independent man. Now I ask again, how's college?"
"College is good," said Buffy in a tone that Xander didn't believe at all.
"Buff, this is me remember? Willow has been my best friend from the moment she broke her yellow crayon in kindergarten, so if there is one thing I've mastered, it's telling when a girl feels bad even when she says that she feels good."
"There was this vampire, and she took me down, and I just… I don't know how to stop her."
"You were alone," said Xander. Not a question for Buffy to confirm, just a simple statement of facts.
"Yeah, how did you know?"
"Because I know you Buffy. I know you well enough to know that the only reason the vampire you faced isn't dust is because you were alone, and probably stressing out over school."
"Yeah, I was."
Xander simply nodded and continued talking. "Buffy I've seen two vampires kick your butt until you see whoever they have strapped to the sacrificial table that week. When that happens something inside you changes, and it doesn't matter how bad the odds are, I'd bet every comic book I own, every time, that you'll find a way to pull through and save the day. The only explanation that I've been able to come up with over the years is that you're a real life hero, and that means that you're always at your best when someone else needs saving. That's how I know what I know, but it looked like you needed a reminder."
"I think I did, thanks," said the slayer with a slightly embarrassed smile on her face.
"Now to make the night complete, how about we go and find this vamp and introduce her to the fun side of your Mr. Pointy."
"I say that this time she's dust," said Buffy with enough conviction that no one would be able to doubt her words.
"Why are we going to my dorm again?" asked Buffy.
"Because I have this thing that may help us find your stuff," replied Xander.
"Yeah, I'd feel a whole lot better about this if you told me exactly what your thing is, or even where it is, because I'm not seeing a new thing on you."
Biting back the first few dirty jokes that came to mind Xander simply said, "Let's just say that my summer vacation involved more than playing tourist. I'm not going to hide anything, but I only want to explain things once. That means that while you get to be one of the first ones to see my thing in action, the full report will have to wait until the next Scooby meeting. I will tell you that it's safe, and won't hurt you at all though."
"Mysterious things that come with cryptic warnings are usually bad things Xander."
"No warnings, just a statement that I hope will reduce injuries. Or more accurately you hurting me or my thing," said Xander as Buffy unlocked her dorm room.
"Well we're here, and my roommate isn't around, so let's see your thing."
"It's right behind you," said Xander, causing Buffy to spin around and see the very large hyena that was sniffing around the room, trying to find a sent to follow.
"Xander, that kinda looks like…"
"It kinda is Buffy."
"And it's not going to try and eat me, or do something else where I may need a school desk?"
"No, it's not. Listen, you aren't going to believe this right now, but this isn't magic. Like I said though, I don't want to explain it a lot so explanations will wait until everyone's here."
"That's something that I'm going to make sure happens about five minutes after I get my stuff back just so you know."
"I figured as much."
Just then a mildly attractive college co-ed opened the door and came into the room, quickly followed by Willow and Oz.
"Hey, we aren't allowed pets in here, you could get kicked out for that," said the unknown girl the second that she saw the hyena. "Wait, did you get kicked out already?"
"No, it's a prank by some people I knew in high school. You know Willow, the ones that never tanned well?"
"Oh, those people!" said the red haired former hacker as her face lit up in understanding. "Yeah, you really have to look out for those bad tanners; you never know what wacky prank they'll pull next."
"Whatever, just get your dog out of here," said the girl as Fido started to eagerly sniff her.
"I think he's found everything he's going to find," said Xander, taking note that even the weapon chest that Buffy kept by her bed had been taken even as he started to walk out the door, his mental construct and the rest of the gang following him.
"Um, Xander that kinda looks like…" Willow began as soon as they were a safe distance from Buffy's roommate.
"It kinda is Willow."
"And it's not going to try and eat me, or do something else where I would be safer in another town is it?"
"No Willow, it's not," said Xander as he shook his head at the fact that he had this conversation almost word for word just a few minutes ago.
"Hey, now that Willow and Oz are here you can tell us exactly how you know this, and how it isn't magic," said Buffy even as they all followed the animal as it followed the unique mix of perfume and dust it had found at the dorm room. The trail it had picked up in the room had lead underground, something Xander didn't think would be smart to follow, so now the hyena was stuck following the far more faint smell that it could pick up outside.
"I said I'd explain when everyone was around, and Giles counts as part of everyone. That means unless the vampires who stole your stuff decided to stash the loot with Giles, you're going to have to wait."
"Yeah, but I really want to know now," said Buffy in a tone that told him that she was mostly serious. She was still willing to cut him some slack due to their friendship and the talk he had given her earlier, but she wanted answers as quickly as he would give them.
"Like I said, I'll tell, I just want to tell everyone at once so I don't have to repeat myself," said Xander. "Now in an attempt to blatantly change the subject, did you know that your roommate isn't human?"
"Kathy is a demon?" asked Buffy with a bit of shock. "I knew she was annoying, but she hasn't shown signs of, you know, evilness."
"I said that she wasn't human, didn't say anything about demon or evilness," said Xander. "She could just be a mutant, or even a good demon. Just because she's your roommate doesn't mean she's an evil demon that wants to eat your soul."
The steady look Buffy directed his way stated her opinions better than words ever could.
"Okay so knowing our luck she probably is an evil demon that wants to maim and mutilate and do evil things to your morning bagel, I'm just saying it's not a 100 thing."
"Just for clarity, how do you know Kathy isn't human?" asked Oz.
"Fido," said Xander with a nod to the hyena they were all following. "I don't know everything he sees or smells, but I get a general idea. For instance I don't know what the perfume we're following smells like, but it was the strongest scent linked to the vampires that didn't lead into a tunnel."
"It's a boy?" asked Oz zeroing in on what he believed to be the most interesting bit of information.
"I think of Fido as a boy because I'm a boy, and because I have no desire to go and look."
"Smart," replied Oz as he glanced at the animal and would later swear that the animal gave him a far too intelligent look back that screamed of many hurtful things if the young werewolf even thought of physically checking what was under its hood so to speak.
"Well this is it," said Xander as they walked up to what looked like an abandoned frat house.
"You sure this is the place?" asked Buffy, her voice holding just a bit of eager anticipation at confronting the vampires that had stolen her stuff.
"Mostly sure. This is the place where Fido is getting the strongest scent from, so even if this isn't where they are this is where they hang out a lot."
"Good," said Buffy as she walked up to the door with a determined stride, kicked down the door, and walked inside with the intention of causing great bodily harm.
"Weapons?" asked Oz even though Buffy was already inside.
"Um, I think I have a pencil," said Willow as she began to rummage through her pockets.
"They stole Buffy's weapons so just stick close to Soldier Boy, he'll cover you until you can take care of yourselves," said Xander as he called the phantom of his Halloween possession into the physical world.
"Vampire dusting bullets?" asked Oz as he looked Soldier Boy over.
"Don't know, but usually they act a lot like regular bullets so I figure a vampire will react the same way a human would if they are shot in the head a couple of times."
Oz simply nodded at the logic of the statement, while Willow was just slightly wide eyed at how her best friend could casually talk about shooting things in the head. Granted they were demonically animated dead bodies that want to do unspeakable evil, but still.
"Okay Fido, you've been good, so all the vamps in here are game for you except for the leader, that one belongs to Buffy," said Xander as he entered the building with Oz, Willow, and SB.
The hyena only gave a pleased snarl in response before bounding ahead to where Buffy was fighting to cause as much carnage as it possibly could.
The battle was rather anti climatic truth be told. Between Buffy and the hyena most of the vampires were dusted in just a few minutes, leaving only one vampire wearing a black tee-shirt with a skull on it that the support group had to dust. Truthfully it wouldn't have even been that if Buffy hadn't had to compensate for her injured arm.
"So all this stuff in here, it doesn't belong to anyone anymore and would just be sitting her right?" asked Xander as he took a look at everything that didn't belong to Buffy.
"It seems wrong, somehow," said Oz even though there was a look in his eye similar to the one in Xanders.
"Dibs on the rowing machine," said Xander while thinking that selling this stuff would go a long way to letting him pay his rent.
"Okay no time for talking we have to get going if we're going to see Giles," said Buffy as she placed her class protector award where it wouldn't get harmed.
"Is he going to help us move this stuff back into your room?" Xander asked as he lifted a trunk of Buffy's stuff.
"Probably, but we're going to complete your definition of everyone so I can get some explanations. My stuff can wait until after you explain just how you can make the things you were possessed by real."
"Wow, when you said that you would want an explanation five minutes after you dusted the bad guy, I didn't think you literally meant five minutes."
"Well I did, so put down the trunk and move it mister," said Buffy with a slight smile on her face so Xander wouldn't take offence at her words.
Xander looked over to Willow for support in helping to delay this just a little bit longer, but saw a full force resolve face that said she was in complete agreement with Buffy. Resigned to his fate he followed his friends out of the building and across campus to where Oz had parked his van.