…The Berrisford Agenda…

Xander had walked into Willie's bar and ordered a drink. He sat down nursing his bourbon and thought about what had happened in the Library earlier. Perhaps he had been a little hard on her, he contemplated.

Glancing down at the other end of the bar, he noticed Buffy talking to a scaly demon. She noticed him and frowned. Resolved, she moved over to him.

"Hey," the young man said quietly as she reached his side.

"You drinking now, Xander?" she eyed him like he had grown another head.

"You fuck vampires and you're gonna rib me for this?" he questioned. "I ain't drunk, Buffy, not gonna go that route."

The blonde sighed deeply, "I'll talk to you later," she turned to leave.

"Hey," he called after her and she stopped. "You know I was made in a lab, I can hold my liquor."

"Spare me," Buffy said as she turned back to him, "I just don't understand why you act the way you do. All beating up Angel and turning on me. Why can't you understand what's going on?"

Xander sighed as he took a long sip from his glass.

"See, Buffy, the thing is," he said as he rose from his seat and moved to a table in the back.

The blonde followed him and sat across from him.

"I do understand, more than you know. I understand exactly the division between good and evil. I suffered for it then, and I don't want to see you go through all that."

"I'm sorry," the blonde said with a scowl, "I didn't…"

He looked at her as he scratched the back of his head, "I don't wanna see the things that happened to me, happen to you."

After a long stretch of silence he spoke again, "I know you love him, but I don't want to see you hurt. You're like a sister to me, I wouldn't have done all those things if I didn't care."

"I kinda knew that," Buffy said as she gave a half smile.

"Since we're talking about difficult things, I figure I can tell you something," Xander said as he took another sip of the amber liquid and looked at the glass as he spun it on the table.

She looked at him curiously though she remained silent.

"I had to do this job," he began with a frown. "I had to get close to this family, watch the dad. But he had a daughter."

She watched him intently now, he never spoke about that other place and this was the first time that he had said word one about it.

His fingers trailed in the condensation left by the glass on the table and drew caricatures. "I fell for her, Buffy, I fell hard. She had… life and light... and it made the dark places in my soul shine with her warmth."

He looked at her and Buffy noticed a single tear roll down his cheek.

"Sounds wonderful," she said with a Mona Lisa smile, "What went wrong?"

"I was commanded to kill them," the transgenic looked back at the table. "I tried to warn them, to protect them, but they wouldn't listen. I wouldn't kill 'em, Buffy, but they died because of me."

"Xander, I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too," he said as he looked at her.

Into the comfortable silence he said, "Thanks, Buffy." The dark haired young man drained rest of the liquor from his glass.

"Are we okay?" the Slayer asked as she tilted her head to the side to look at him.

"Yeah," Xander said with a nod as he gave her a sideways hug, "we're good." 'For now at least,' he thought silently as he released her.