…Back to Life, Back to Reality…

Rupert Giles moved over to the table in the library and sat in front of Cordelia Chase and Xander Harris, his charges.

"You mean to tell me," he hedged as he cleaned his glasses, "That you both remember everything from Halloween? Have been changed by it?"

"Yes, sir," the young man nodded respectfully as he sat straight and stiff in his chair.

Cordy elbowed him in the side.

He grunted slightly, "You're not gonna get rid of nineteen years of subordinate behavior overnight, Maxie," he said by way of explanation.

"This is the dealio," Cordy said as she turned to look at Giles once more. "It seems to me that Alec, er, Xander and I have blended with the personas that we took on Halloween night."

"But how?" the Watcher asked as he eyed them owlishly, "I had Jenny look Manticore up on that infernal machine and she came up empty other than the bygone monster. I also had her look up Max Guevara and Alec MacDowell and nothing."

Xander shrugged, "I originally had the idea to go as a generic soldier… I have no idea what would have triggered my becoming what I am now."

"What did you have with you that night?" Giles asked him, "It seemed as though all of the creatures running around were fictitious. How would you two fit in if your characters were from a war torn, post Apocalyptic North America?"

Thinking for a moment, Xander said, "Grey shirt, green fatigues, the toy AK from the store, the toy glock from home, my boots and my bag."

"What boots?" Cordelia asked excitedly.

A black, leather boot clad foot with a single bucket over the instep clumped onto the table.

"Those are Alec's boots," Cordy exclaimed.

"I know they're my boots," Xander agreed as he put his foot down.

"I mean that those are probably what triggered the regression, you moron," Cordelia dropped the dumb Valley Girl routine when they were not with the others.

"Shut up, Maxie," the young man's brow furrowed as he looked at her guardedly.

"What did you wear, Cordelia?" Giles asked as he tried to maneuver the conversation away from a verbal sparring match.

"Originally I was gonna go as a cat, I saw something at Party City that I thought I'd like," the young woman said thoughtfully. "But, then I passed that shop and noticed the black bodysuit in the window and couldn't pass it up. I had the boots and gloves at home."

"Then it was the housebreaker suit," Xander nodded for sure.

"So what does this mean for you?" the Englishman asked as he looked at the two young people in concern.

Alec sat up straight in his chair as he looked up at the librarian and said, "I was genetically engineered to be a light combat stealth unit." He sounded like he was reciting from a report. "I was designed specifically for solo missions, although I have led a few successful team missions." He looked down at the table, not proud, he continued, disgusted, "Assassinations." He looked back up at Giles, pleading for the older man to understand, "I've even gone done black-ops. I, we," he corrected quickly, "have enhanced strength, speed, senses and higher intelligence. I can blend in with the general populace and adapt quickly to different scenarios. Max, or Cordelia, is too… or would have been if she'd completed her training. Except that she was designed for night combat."

Giles nodded thoughtfully, "As you know, you both have my complete trust in this matter. I understand full well the implications of secrets being revealed."

Xander and Cordelia looked up at the librarian, their mentor, more father figure than their own parents and smiled benignly at him.

"What was up with that," Cordy piped up as she turned to the other X5 and mocked, "Lieutenant Colonel Alec MacDowell?"

He looked at her a long moment before he smirked, "I didn't lie… I am a lieutenant colonel, or at least I was…" he looked away from her and she thought he was finished. "I was transgen Liaison to the Director bitch of Manticore, affectionately known as Renfro. I was also CO of my unit... of which, Cece and Biggs were a part of."

The brunette May Queen looked at him in stunned silence for a long moment… "But you were such a screw-up."

"I presented you with something you wanted to see," he told her straightforward.

Cordelia looked at him for a long, silent moment.

Giles cleared his throat and both X5s turned their intense gazes on him. "Is there anything else I should know?"

Cordelia's shoulders slumped slightly in a defeated posture; she did not want to tell anyone about her weaknesses. But she and Alec had spoken about it earlier and they decided that they had to confide in at least one person. Of everyone, they trusted Giles the most.

Xander sucked it up and continued his explanation as clinically as possible. "Us X5s are prone to epileptic-like seizures due to a brain chemistry imbalance. We need a steady supply of tryptophan or some such derivative to keep them under control. We haven't experienced them yet, but given our history, probabilities indicate we'll have them sooner or later. We've been real careful about eating turkey and drinkin' milk so far to counteract the deficiency. Both Max and I are lucky, being as were both clones, we never suffered from Progeria… I think its due to the fact that neither of us have junk DNA."

Cordy frowned as she remembered her X7 clone, old and grey. She looked at him with a surprised expression on her face, she had not known that about him.

"Anything else?" Giles asked as he cleaned his glasses once more.

Cordy looked down at the table, visibly upset.

The young soldier put his hand on her shoulder as he spoke once more, "The females of the species experience a crazed, mating frenzy we call Heat. It happens about three times a year."

"I'm not so sure of my cycle," the young woman blushed along with Giles as she spoke. She swallowed nervously as she continued. "It's been a while since my last one…" she trailed off thoughtfully.

"You could have one at any time," Xander looked at her wide eyed.

She looked at him, wide eyed. "Alec," she whispered, "what am I going to do when a heat hits me?"

Xander thought before answering with Alec's trademark smirk, "We'll just have to cross that bridge when it's burnin'."