Title: Loose Ends

Author: Jane McCartney

Disclaimer: All the characters you recognize belong to Joss & co. (all hail the crackhead). I'm just fooling around with his universe, with no intention of making money or anything.

Classification: Buffy-Angel crossover

Rating: PG13

Feedback: Yes, please! Doesn't everyone want it?

Email: janemccartney@bol.com.br

Distribution: Anywhere, I don't mind, just credit me and inform me where it's at.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Theo, who actually made this project a viable one with his amazing and wonderful work - I'm truly grateful for your help with the English grammar and all the necessary adaptations. You're my savior.

Note: This is my very first attempt at fan fiction, and English is definitely not my native language, so I'd be happy if you guys didn't go too hard on me - please. I'm just doing the best I can here.

Summary: [Buffy-Angel Crossover] Xander shows up in Los Angeles, and brings with him a secret that'll lead him into dangerous territory. Can he cope with that? And his friends, will they be there for him?

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: FROM NOW ON, THIS STORY'S BEING WRITTEN BY JANE MCCARTNEY AND STAIRWAY MAN.

***

The countdown was almost complete - there was just a little over an hour to go, before Angelus would be around to say, "Showtime!"

It was at that moment that the evil silver medallions of the Kohra demons began to glow, warning their owners of what Tara and Willow had just done.

"No!" screamed their leader. "Those damned witches-!" It then whirled to face Luke, Isabelle and Gerard. "Vampires! Order the army you have formed, to attack our enemies at once!"

The three bloodsuckers, astonished at the anger - and fear? - that they saw in the demon's face, simply nodded and obeyed.

***

At the hospital, Angel arrived not with a bang but with a whimper.

The souled vampire groaned, as he felt a pounding headache. The former Scourge of Europe remembered what had happened... Cordelia! What the - why did she hit me like that?

He groaned again, as he tried to get off the floor - and then Angel saw the astonished faces of a family that was inexplicably suddenly in the room with him.

"How the hell did you get in here?" asked a tall man, who was most likely the father of the person now in the bed.

"Yeah!" exclaimed the patient, as the rest of the family looked on in wonder. "How'd you show up out of thin air? Are you like a magician?"

Angel didn't understand, either the questions or what had happened to him, and just quickly got up and vanished out the door with vampire super-speed.

First things first, the 249-year-old guy thought to himself. Gotta find Cordy... Then he stumbled upon Dr. Penn and Nurse Marshall in the corridor, groping and kissing once again. "Um, excuse me?"

Both medical people broke away at once, their faces flushed as they tried to straighten their clothing. "Can I help you?" Kelly said, in a somewhat squeaky voice.

Angel grinned, "I'm looking for Cordelia Chase. She's a patient around here somewhere..."

Michael and the nurse looked at each other. The Armani-clad doctor then said to the undead guy, "Ah, you must be mistaken. Miss Chase was discharged from the hospital, nearly a week ago..."

Angel was stunned. "What? Uh, wait up - what's the date?"

Kelly told him.

Angel was even more stunned. "How the hell-? Did I just skip forward in time a few days, or what-?"

Nurse Marshall was astonished herself, and again she was reminded of Xander's semi-insane babblings - the first night she'd met him. "Uh, sir?" she started to say. "Do you know a Xander Harris, by any chance?"

Angel stared at her, just like Michael did too. "Yeah, he recently tried to kill me," his voice grew harder. "Did he get to Cordelia?" The vampire couldn't help it - despite the last few enlightening words he'd had with the seer, the former Angelus somehow couldn't help blaming the boy for all this in his head.

"No, no," Michael rushed to reassure him, getting a very weird vibe from this guy. "As far as we know, she's fine, recovered from the PCP gang attack..." the doctor paused. "Although from what I saw of the extent of Mr. Harris's injuries, I'm not sure we can say the same for him..."

Angel was now thoroughly confused, and demanded Michael and Kelly tell him everything - which they did. "What?" the souled vamp said, thoroughly perplexed. "Faith's with Xander now?"

"You know her too?" the sandy-haired doctor exclaimed. "This is getting too weird..."

"I agree completely," Angel said, making up his mind to go home at once. "Excuse me, but I gotta go..." He then rushed off, leaving the bewildered doctor and nurse behind in his dust.

And it is a sad fact that, despite everything, Michael Penn and Kelly Marshall never did find out just what all the strange events of that week had really been all about.

***

In the street outside the warehouse, Xander and Faith arrived into the world at the same moment Angel did.

"Whoa!" Faith exclaimed, as the brunette Slayer - from her point of view - saw all the cops vanish into thin air. She looked at her partner, "How did you *do* that?"

Xander just grinned, and started off towards the Hyperion. Dragging Faith along, he quickly told her about what had happened - the conversation with Cordy, the spell to send them into the future, everything.

"So how much time do we got now?" the rogue Slayer asked, hesitant now that the end was suddenly and abruptly so near.

Xander could easily pick up her nervousness. "Cordelia said just a few minutes," as they came close to the hotel. "Are you OK?"

It was obvious to anybody with a pair of eyes that the answer was no. "Yeah," Faith grunted.

Xander stopped, and took her hand in his. "I'm sorry Faith," he told her, as they quickly hugged. "I told you, you don't have to do it..."

"Yeah, right," the Chosen One shot back. "You think *you* can take Angel, now that we've lost the element of surprise?"

"Probably not," Xander said, suddenly emotionless. "But you won't plunge the stake in either, if you get him against the ropes in a fight - that's why I'm here, and we both know it."

So saying, the two warriors finally reached their destination - and saw that the Hyperion hotel was now a war zone.

***

Vampires and demons were fighting viciously against the Scooby Gang plus the Fang Gang - desperately looking for Angel and Faith and Xander too, but finding none of them there.

The battle raged on, as Buffy staked vampires left and right. Gunn had his trademark axe, and was dusting the bloodsuckers as well. Spike was just happily tearing the demons apart with his bare hands, very glad that his chip didn't work against them. Giles, Cordelia and Wesley had their crossbows, and were taking out any strays that the big hitters missed.

Willow and Tara were close together, side-by-side - as Lorne had taken Dawn, Fred and Anya away on Buffy's orders, at the first sight of the invading army. The blonde Wicca muttered, as she magically blasted away a vamp, "Now would be a good time..."

Throwing away all self-control, the redhead threw back her head, let her eyes go black and invoked a spell to let loose a great big ball of sunshine.

The vampire mercenaries started burning, and quickly decided enough was enough - they weren't going to die like this, just for blood or money. Abandoning the fight despite the demons' orders, they all quickly left the scene...

Gerard, in particular. The young vamp noticed out of the corner of his eye Luke and Isabelle quickly getting staked and beheaded respectively by the white hats, and as he decided to head for Mexico. "Johnny" thought smugly, Good riddance...

It was at this point, Faith and Xander joined the good guys.

And also, that one of the Kohra demons hit Tara with a determined knife attack.

"No!" screamed Willow. She quickly started to fry all the minions of Evil with her magicks, completely ignoring anyone and everything else around her. Soon enough, nearly all the demons were down...

As Faith and Xander reached the fallen blonde witch, they heard her mumble "Pocket..." as her hand moved to her side; and then Tara Maclay, age 22, died.

"Oh, shit..." Faith cursed, as she looked around at the ruined remains of Angel Investigations, on the lookout for any new possible threats. Xander didn't listen - he just checked Tara's pocket, and withdrew that particular something the witchy woman had held in reserve in case all else failed.

"What is this?" Xander asked his brunette partner, as he held up the artefact - which was a Draconian katra device.

Faith's breath caught, as she recognized it. "Oh my God..."

"What?"

The Slayer looked at her companion, with sudden hope in her heart. "Remember when I pulled that body-switching stunt with B, way back when? Well, this is the kind of thing that did it! And reversed it! Xander, the guys - they thought of something other than just killing Angel! Maybe we can save him - by one of us switching bodies with him! I'll just take it and-"

But Xander held it away, as he stared at this woman who had been his first. "Hold on. Look, we both know that it'll work on two people of the same gender... but how do we know it'll work, if *you* try it on a guy?"

Faith stopped in horror. "Xand, no way! This is my job, damn it! 'Cause let's face it, I'm just a killer! You don't have to do this - you're not guilty of anything!"

"This isn't about guilt or punishment, Faith," Xander said in a calm, controlled voice that Faith didn't like at all. "This is about winning a war we've both damn well sacrificed everything for. This is about reducing your risks to the absolute minimum. You give me one, good, non-emotional reason for you to do this instead of me - and I'll hand it over..."

The two ex-lovers engaged in a brief battle of wills - but in the end, as Xander had foreseen, there was nothing Faith could say that would change his mind.

A huge Mohra demon then attacked them, charging in and roaring with fury - and Faith briefly forgot about everything else, as she struggled in this sudden mortal combat.

Xander briefly scribbled one word on a loose piece of paper he saw just in case, and quietly abandoning his friends to their fate, went out towards his awaiting destiny. Which was a lot closer than he'd thought, as when Xander reached the front doors of the hotel - Angel arrived.

"Xander?" the vampire was briefly stunned, taking in the mortal's condition. He could smell the dried blood, before the soon-to-be Scourge of Europe suddenly remembered all that had happened. He growled, "Where's Cordelia?"

Xander shook his head, "No idea. Haven't seen her in almost a week - and apparently, neither have you..."

Angel lost his temper, and grabbed the young man. "I've had enough of this crap! Now what's going on, damn it? Why did you try to kill me!?"

Xander stared at him, and once again Angel could see the rage and empty hollowness in his eyes. But there was something else there now, too - just a crazy shade of hope.

The human whispered the prophecy he had memorized, "Woe unto all the people of the world, for a great power of darkness will be released. Let men fear, for the Scourge of Europe will rise once again, spreading fear and destruction in his wake along five continents."

The man from Sunnydale continued to quote, ignoring Angel's shock, "His fires will burn, and children will be the kindling. Evil will have no mercy, and the blood of the innocents will stain the scorched earth red."

"You're crazy!" Angel shouted, letting Xander go and moving back. "What are you-"

"No more games," Xander interrupted, shaking his head. "You *will* lose your soul, Deadboy. I've seen it, and lived through it. Seven days, Angel - I had seven day to stop you from destroying the world, from that night when I came back from the future. But time's up now..."

"So, what?" the souled vamp stared at this young man - who he *knew* had always hated him. "You expect me to just take your word, for all that?"

"No, but I'm thinkin' you'll take Faith's. 'Cause she came back with me - and she knows everything I do! The same guy recruited her to help stop you - I mean, Angelus..."

Angel continued to shake his head, refusing to accept it. "No frickin' way! This is insane..."

Xander came up close to him, and held up his hand with the magical device in it. "I didn't think it was possible, but the gang found a possible loophole. An alternative to just staking you, to prevent all that..."

"What do ya mean?" asked the Irish-born undead, still unable to believe he was having this conversation.

"Take my hand. Please. 'Cause if you don't, I swear in a few minutes you'll lose your soul - and eventually you'll kill everybody. And I don't want to see Buffy die in my arms again, or hear Cordelia choke to death on her own blood, or stake Anya after you turn her..."

The vampire could *feel* the truth in Xander's words, even if he didn't want to. And suddenly, all the events of the last 48 hours started to make a crazy sort of sense - Xander's inexplicable reluctance while trying to kill him, Cordelia's sudden attack at the hospital after that vision...

Feeling like he was caught up in a dream, the vampire slowly took hold of the human's hand with his own - and then the Draconian katra device began to glow. A few moments later, Angel looked up to see a sight he had not seen since he'd left that demon dimension called Pylea - the sight of his own face and body, staring back at him.

And that was when an Angel-shaped fist hit him right between the eyes, knocking the former vamp out cold.

***

When Angel came to a few minutes later, he was aware of pain. Pain from the blow Xander had given him, and pain from the arguing voices he heard in the background.

"I can't believe Xander would actually try to do something like that!!" Buffy's enraged shout rang out. "Faith, what the hell is the matter with you? Letting him go off to pull a stunt like this..." It was obvious that the two Slayers had been talking for a while, and the blonde one wasn't currently thinking about old animosities.

"Buffy, please calm down," Giles' quiet, comforting voice made his former protégé shut up. "The fact is, I-I think Xander decided to make the only choice he could, that didn't involve cold-blooded murder..."

"Whatever, I think it's nuts too," Gunn's cynical shrug-off was easily heard, if not seen.

"Yeah, right," Cordelia's sarcastic tone was evident. "Like Xander woulda done this willingly? Come on! He hates vampires more than anything, and to make this sort of sacrifice..."

"Hey, wait up! He's awake!" Faith's husky voice then stated.

Angel groaned, and then looked at himself in horror. The former 18th century Irishman could see hands, shoes, and clothes that were not his own, and hear a heartbeat that he *knew* he did not have. "What the hell-?" he whispered.

"Xander?" the former vampire heard Buffy ask hesitantly.

And as soon as Angel locked eyes with the former love of his life, he said, "I'm not Xander," at the same time that Buffy said, "That's not Xander," in a way-creepy duet.

"Holy shit, he did it?!" Faith asked in wonder.

"This is gettin' too weird," Gunn stated for the record, as he tried to comprehend how his erstwhile friend and colleague was now occupying the body of a man he had disliked almost from the moment they'd met. "Man..."

"The prophecy," Wesley spoke up for the first time. "How does this affect the prophecy we found in the Codex?"

Angel, in Xander's body, looked stunned. "What? The Codex says I really was destined to lose my soul and go on a killing spree, like Xander said?"

"No, Xa- I mean, Angel," Giles looked around and made a decision to tell the former undead all he knew. "It said that Faith was destined to face the vampire with a soul, and kill him when he lost it..."

The reborn human looked stunned as Wesley then interjected, "I don't understand - if Angel's here, in this body, then Xander-"

"-is gonna lose his soul in Angel's body," Cordelia felt the light bulb go off in her head. "Oh man, we gotta find him!"

At that point, Faith spied the paper on the floor. She quickly grabbed it, and looked at the others. "The warehouse..."

***

By the time they all arrived there, the time-traveler named Xander Harris had already resigned himself to his fate. The human-turned-vampire was waiting quietly in a hastily-constructed cage in the warehouse, when all the members of the Angelites and the Scoobies barged in.

Including Anya, who had been informed of the situation and now didn't know what to do in any way, shape, or form. "Xander?" she asked the brooding Angel-shape in the cage.

"Yeah, Ahn, it's me - and honey, I'm so glad to see ya," the former Zeppo smiled at his beloved, before looking at all the others present. "But I don't get why... I mean, I shoulda gone all soulless ages ago..."

Faith quickly filled him in, her eyes showing sadness but her voice forcing coolness. "Red and her gal pal, they brought us back early, stud-"

Xander, in Angel's body, looked around. "Where is Will?"

"In the psychiatric wing of St. Matthew's hospital," Giles settled his glasses on his nose. "She, uh, she had a breakdown after we lost Tara..."

Xander sighed in deep sorrow and horrible frustration. "Tell her I'm sorry, later..."

Angel stepped forward, as he and Xander shared a long look. The former vamp didn't know what to say, so the American undead was the first to break the silence with a lopsided smile, "May the Force be with you always, young Jedi..."

Angel didn't waste time with platitudes, and ridiculous pop-cultural references. "Xander, please. You, you mustn't do this..."

The ensouled vampire shook his head. "Yes I must, and yes I will."

"No way!" Buffy shouted. "You think I'm just gonna let this happen? I'm getting you out of there-" and she made her way to the cage.

"I saw you dead after Angelus killed you," Xander's cold voice stopped her at once. "I know that you don't want to hear this, Buff, but apart from Dawnie and Faith... as far as I'm concerned? You've all been dead for weeks. You let me out of here, you're committing suicide!"

"Damn it, Xander, no! There's got to be another way!" Cordelia cried out, and no one missed her real feelings for the man evident in her voice.

Xander looked at her sadly, regretting for the last time what had happened with his high school sweetheart. "Sorry, Cor. Maybe there mighta been - but now, we're outta time. Like I said, whatever it takes - including my life..." Then he looked at his other family and friends, focusing on Anya.

His one true love, that he would soon lose forever. "I'm sorry, Ahn. I love you..."

Faith looked at her watch, and started in horror. "I think we got less than a minute here-!"

And then it happened - the Angel-shaped body let out a howl of pain, and collapsed to the ground.

A few seconds later it jumped back up, as the soulless demon looked around - grinning and chuckling at them all. He stared at the women that Xander had been 'intimate' with - Faith and Anya. "Hello, ladies..."

***

"Angelus?" asked Spike in semi-wonder.

"Not exactly," the now worst nightmare of both the Slayers began walking around his cage, a damnable smirk never leaving his lips. "Although you can call me that if you want, Captain Peroxide..."

"Reckon I should call ya 'whelp' instead," the British undead muttered, as he sent a semi-confused glance to Angel in Xander's body.

"Don't think Slutty the vampire layer would like that too much," the caged vamp sniggered. "You trying to send me a message or what? 'Cause hey! You shoulda taken a shower, if you didn't want me to smell her scent all over you! How long you been boning that emotionless freak, anyway?"

All the others looked at the duo in shock - Angel, in particular, feeling very betrayed. "None of your business," the blonde girl snapped without thinking, then wincing at her thoughtless choice of words.

"So you admit it? Huh! Well, I always knew that once you got a taste of vamp lovin', you can never go back..." the demon laughed.

Then the evil vamp smirked towards Spike, "Too bad she doesn't love you, ya know - not like she loved her "Angel" over there," he nodded towards the direction of Xander's body. "And thing is, she never will! You wanna know why? Because deep down - you're just a filthy, soulless demon. Exactly like me," again Angel's face showed that cruel, sadistic grin.

Spike said nothing to that, but as he shrugged the chipped vampire knew the other guy was right. Guess there's nothing else for it, then. I'll have to go see that demon legend I heard about in Africa, about getting my soul back...

"Xander..." Faith started to say.

"Save it," the demon in Angel's body snapped. "Your boy toy's gone, lover. And he ain't coming back!"

"We'll see..." Giles said in a grim manner, as Wesley nodded his head - trying to figure out a way to deal with all this.

Faith looked utterly emotionless. "I was just gonna ask, why you still in there? Cage that weak couldn't hold anybody with vamp strength - and I don't think you'd mind taking your chances with two Slayers..."

The soulless creature's eyes went wide with new-found respect. "Soul Boy thought of that," he gestured vaguely. "That's why he came up with a plan. I try to bust outta here, that bomb goes off..."

Everyone looked around, to see a device leaning against a covered-up window close to the cage.

"...sunlight comes in, and I get deep-fried. Either that, or the place is wired to blow at sunset. But I figure, you guys won't let that happen - you'll come up with a way to get me out of here safely! After all, you're gonna try to restore my soul..."

"Only one problem with that scenario," Faith interjected stonily. "I'm from the future, remember? I *know* that's not gonna work. You think you'll escape, when we try something like that. And odds are, you'll succeed..."

"What are you doing?" Fred asked, as the brunette Slayer took out a stake and headed for the cage.

"This *thing* isn't Xander. Or Angel. My partner gave his life, to save the world from *that*! And I'm not gonna let it be for nothing..." the ex- Boston girl explained, as she got ready to attack.

"Faith, you can't do this! Screw the prophecy!" Dawn cried out in horror, and then looked a little ashamed at her language.

Angel said hurriedly, "Wait! What if I just use that magic thing again, and switch us back-"

"He hasn't got a soul, remember?" Cordelia looked exasperated. "It'll never work! Or if it did, you'd only end up getting a soulless demon in a human body!"

Gunn shook his head, cursing the day he'd ever gotten involved with these people and moving closer to Fred. "Unbelievable..."

While the others were bickering, Anya came as close to the cage as she dared and stared at the vampire. "Xander?" she asked timorously.

"Sorry," the demon recovered his smirk. "But, funny thing, I still remember everything he ever did. Including what you taught him about sex! So, how are ya, Ahn?"

The blonde woman stared at the vampire, seeing Faith on the other side of the cage and suddenly marvelling how easy this was going to be. "Pregnant," she said softly, as the demon's eyes went wide. "That's why I have to do this-"

Taking out the axe she'd kept hidden behind her back, Anya swung at the bars as Angel's body stepped back in horror. "No!"

Everything then seemed to happen very quickly.

The axe hit the bars, and the bomb - which had been set on a hair trigger - instantly exploded.

Sunlight streamed in, and that which had been Xander Harris in Angel's vampire body began to burn.

"You bitch! I''ll kill you! I'll-" the vampire tried to get out of the cage, as Spike shied away from the deadly sunshine. But it was too late - his ensouled self had planned too well, and a few seconds later the flaming corpse disintegrated into dust, as Faith looked stunned in horror.

A few moments later, everyone looked on in horror as well. "Anya! What have you done!?" Buffy screamed.

"What none of you could have possibly done," the former demon winced, as she put a hand to her belly. "Giving the man I love peace and rest. And making sure that my unborn child has a future, this time around..."

Anya then looked around at everyone, who were stunned at the news. "I'm going home, to grieve for my husband. I'll see most of you back in Sunnydale-" Then she stopped, and looked at Angel in Xander's body. "By the way, don't try to find me! My pregnancy has got nothing to do with you, even if you *are* inhabiting the body that's responsible for my condition..." The girl then swept out of the warehouse, to catch the next bus home.

Wesley looked around at everyone. "My God, the prophecy," he said in wonder. "It's, it's come true..."

"I thought you said Faith would kill Xander, though?" Buffy asked in confusion.

"The exact wording was, 'the Slayer will face the vampire with a soul - and upon losing it, that vampire will become dust'," Giles said quickly, as he looked sadly at the dusty remains in question. "We just, ah, assumed Faith would stake him..."

"No! That wasn't what I meant," Wesley stated cryptically, as he stared at Angel.

"Then what did you mean?" Dawn asked in confusion, trying to bury the horror she still felt over watching her old crush die.

"I was, uh, referring to the prophecy I found in the scrolls of Aberjian," the younger ex-Watcher said slowly. "Angel - you, you've become human. The Powers have given you your shanshu - as in, you get to live now, even if it's not in the way that we all thought it would be..."

Cordelia somehow just couldn't deal with that.

Watching the soul of the first guy she had ever truly loved get torn apart, seeing his undead body disintegrating next, and then facing the fact that her ex-vampire friend lived on his human remains... it was just too much, and she quickly ran out of the warehouse.

And as everyone else stared in wonder at the former Champion, in the higher realms the Powers That Be turned their attention towards newer, harder, upcoming problems - now that the earthly plane was safe once more.

The loose ends with this case had finally been taken care of.

THE END

Hey, all! So it's finally over... well, it's been a really long way, but we've made it after all. A big, no, the biggest thank you to Theo - we wrote this, from chapter 24 to this last one, together. And thanks for all the reviews - you guys seriously rocks. Really.