TITLE: It's Better This Way

DISCLAIMER: Joss owns Buffy, James Cameron owns Dark Angel, Davis Panzer/Gregory Widen owns Highlander, other crossovers to come.

PAIRING: Xander/Cordelia, Willow/Oz

RATING: T and R for violence and content.

SPOILERS: Dark Angel is set at the end of season 2. Buffy is set in season 2 during the Becoming, Part 2 Episode. Highlander is set after the Series but before Endgame.

SUMMARY: A continuation of I Thought We'd go Fishin'. The fight with Angelus comes to a head.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is based on Challenge 1405: Not so broken world submitted by Ladeia and Challenge 400: Immortal Revelation by Teri from Twisting the Hellmouth.


…Medicinal Compound…

Xander sat alone at the bar nursing his scotch. A sardonic frown was on his face as he thought of the events that had led up to this point.

He had been fighting with the Slayer more and more recently. He snapped at her rudely at unexpected moments.

She did not understand what his beef with Angel was, why he could so coldly cut off a friend. Xander had told her that Angelus was not their friend and like Jenny, he'd kill the rest of them if allowed to live.

Buffy had yelled at him and said he was jealous, that was when he had laughed, long and loud.

Xander did not want Willow to perform the soul restoration ritual. He had protested to the others that dealing with the dark arts would lead the red head down a path that she would not be able to drag herself out of easily. He had even quoted Star Wars and the immortal words of Yoda, and quoted the immortal words of Uncle Ben in Spiderman; the others still refused to listen to him.

'At least this is the week of finals,' he thought with a self-depreciating smile as he downed the last of the amber liquid and shook his empty glass at Willie. At least, he was making A's and B's now instead of D's and F's in school.

Aside from the improvement in his grades, he was angry because of everything that was going on. He was frustrated because he could not do anything about it without coming clean to Buffy and the others and he was not sure if he wanted to let the Panthera pardus out of the bag.

The jingle of the cell phone disturbed the demons in the bar, but knowing it was the Demon Hunter's phone, they just went about their business as if nothing was happening.

…Dying Changes Everything…

The Emergency Room was crowded when Xander entered through the double doors of Sunnydale General Hospital and looked around for any familiar face.

He walked down the hall, headed toward the ER station when he caught Buffy's distinctive scent. Following his nose, the transgenic turned down the hall and found her trying to be covert.

He walked up behind her and touched her shoulder.

The Slayer startled as she turned around, tears streamed down her cheeks as she threw herself into his arms in an almost too tight hug.

He hugged her back, equally as tight and they shared comfort for a long, silent moment. The part of him that was an animal reveled in the feeling of home and hearth as he breathed deeply of her scent. He nearly whimpered when the young woman pulled away.

"I was so worried about you," she said with a frown and a concerned look. "Are you okay?" she asked as she checked him for injuries. Finding none, the blonde sighed in relief.

"I'm alright," he said as he pulled her down the hall.

Buffy noticed two policemen over the young man's shoulder and threw herself into his arms once more.

Xander just went with it and wondered what the hell was going on. When he noticed two cops stroll past them shoulder to shoulder he led her down the hall away from the cops still wondering what was the deal.

"We're okay now?" Xander asked with a dark look as he looked into her hazel eyes.

"Yeah," she said, "we're okay…" she trailed off as she got a glimpse of his frown.

"What's wrong?"

…The Deepest Pain Inside…

Buffy and Xander stood over an unconscious Willow. She had two black eyes, a cut down the side of her cheek and a huge knot on the side of her forehead with a cold compress taped to it.

"Head trauma," the transgenic said simply by way of explanation. "She could wake up at any moment, but the longer she's out…" he left the rest unsaid.

"I never should have let her attempt it," Buffy frowned as she looked at the peaceful face of her friend.

Xander gave a huge inhalation of breath and turned away with a deep frown. He was not going to say, 'I told you so,' even though the Alec side of him was itching to tell her.

Buffy touched the uninjured side of the red head's face as a tear slipped down her cheek.

"And her parents are in Colorado for a psychology conference." Xander frowned even more if that were possible, "They're… not coming."

Buffy looked over at him in stunned silence. 'What kind of parents are those?' the blonde wondered to herself.