Date written: Sat 18 Sep 1999

Author: Starway Man

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Highlander Crossover

Email address: theop at kew dot hotkey dot net dot au

Main characters: Xander, Angel, Duncan MacLeod

Spoilers: Anything up to Season 3 of BTVS and Season 6 of Highlander.

Disclaimer: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and WB Network; Rysher, Davis and Panzer Productionsown the Highlander universe; no infringement of copyright is intended; yadda yadda yadda. No profit will be earned as a result of this work (like that needed to be said).

Setting: This fanfic takes place after Season 3 of BTVS.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to AleXander's transcripts for much needed references.

Rating: R-ish (violence, language)

Warnings: Spoilers for all seasons present. Also, it's my first attempt at BTVS fan fiction, so that should be warning enough.

Summary: Xander unwittingly makes a Wish, and creates an alternate universe. Along the way, he discovers that he is an Immortal.

Title: Xander Makes A Wish


12 A.M., June 21, 1999

Angel looked around at his temporary home, wondering why on earth he had decided to come back to Sunnydale. After the attempted ascension and the death of the mayor Richard Wilkins III, he had left for LA, but he just couldn't stay away. He hated to admit it, but he missed Buffy Summers, the vampire Slayer, too much.

All of a sudden there was a bright light, and Angel tried to shield his eyes from it. When he could see again, he felt an unfamiliar emotion — fear. Standing in front of him was the image of Jenny Calendar, and it was an understatement to say that she looked angry.

"What are you doing here?" he asked. "You ARE the First Evil, right, and not the ghost of Christmas past?"

"I'm here to correct a mistake, you fool. You are of no more use to me," she hissed at him. "You failed to kill the Slayer, and you failed to kill yourself. On this night of the solstice, let your soul begone!"

Angel would have tried to protest or run, but another incredibly bright white light filled the room. When it was gone, the First Evil had vanished, and so had the human soul of Angel. All that was left was the unconscious form of Angelus — the demon, the soulless vampire who did not just feed to live, but lived to feed on the blood of mortal man.


The high demon D'Hoffryn was sitting at the altar in his dark chapel, staring at his visitor. "You cannot be serious," he said in disbelief.

"You bet your ugly backside I'm serious," said the demon known as Whistler. "This is an emergency here. The First Evil wasn't supposed to put the old whammy on our boy Angel, and the big guy's plans are now totally out of whack. If she really was a broad, I'd be thinking a serious case of PMT...as it is, everything's gonna end up in serious crapola if we don't do something fast!"

"Your concern for the lower beings is irrelevant to me," D'Hoffryn said dismissively.

"Yeah, fine, whatever. Just get her here, and then we can get outta your hair."

D'Hoffryn looked at him curiously. "I've known Anyanka for a long time. She was a fool to let herself be robbed of her powers, but that doesn't remove over a thousand years of experience. Just what makes you think you can force her to carry out your plan?"

Whistler just grinned. "Hey, I don't force anyone to do anything. You just gotta get 'em angry enough, and they'll do what you want without you having to lift a finger."

D'Hoffryn gestured and thought, { He's an imbecile to think of giving her back her powers. But if nothing else, this should be worth watching just to see what she does to him. } The demon murmured a spell of incantation, and the ex-demoness appeared in a blaze of light.

Anya looked around in puzzlement, then in awed comprehension. She stared at the two demons and said, "Why am I here? By all the pestilent gods, who summoned me?"

D'Hoffryn looked at her in disgust. "I did. My companion here wanted to talk to you."

Anya looked at his companion. "Who are you? Apart from being someone with a really bad taste in clothes, of course."

Whistler said enigmatically, "Name's Whistler, toots. Wanted to meet ya, in order to settle a bet I got going with my old buddy here."

She looked puzzled. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, let's just say we've been keeping an eye on ya, on account of you've been kinda buddy-buddy with the Slayer and her friends. Especially that Xander guy, huh? You got a thing going for him, maybe?"

Anya looked enraged. "You're out of your mind! For a thousand years I wielded the powers of The Wish. I was the matron saint of scorned women, and I brought ruin to their unfaithful husbands and sweethearts. I hate all men!"

"Yeah, sure," Whistler said, smirking. "Like a friend of mine once said, doll, methinks you doth protest too much."

Anya looked even angrier. "If only I still had my power center, I'd show you what I..."

Whistler gestured, and a green light glowed around her throat. Anya looked stunned, as she saw her necklace. All of a sudden, she changed back to her demonic form, and stared at Whistler. "Why did you...?"

Whistler just shrugged, still smirking. "Part of the bet, toots. Now why don't you go find this Xander kid, and start making with the smoochies? You know you want to..."

"Never!" Anyanka screamed. "I'll be back to take care of you, after I deal with him!" She then vanished in a blaze of light.

Whistler glanced at his companion, and D'Hoffryn looked back at him. "Not bad," the high demon admitted grudgingly. "Your plan might just work, after all."

Whistler no longer looked amused. "It better, old buddy," he said absently. "For all our sakes, it sure as hell better."


Xander Harris was lying on the bed in his hotel room, watching something on TV late at night. Since graduating from high school, he had thought about joining the army, but then he decided that he needed to experience more of what life had to offer, before he enlisted.

Thus, he had decided to go on a journey to "find" himself, but he'd quickly discovered that camping out alone in the woods got pretty boring. He'd eventually ended up in Seacouver, about 20 minutes away from Sunnydale up the interstate highway.

He remembered wandering along the streets, and eventually finding a martial arts dojo. Intrigued, he'd gone inside and met Duncan MacLeod, the owner of the establishment. "Hello? Anyone home?"

The Immortal turned to face Xander. He'd felt a telltale pain in his head even before Xander had come through the door, and thought, { Someone's coming. }The Scot gave Xander an appraising look, and replied, "How can I help you?"

Xander shrugged. "I dunno really, I was just passing through and I saw your sign outside. Thought I'd check out your place, see what it can offer me."

Although Duncan showed no change of expression outwardly, on the inside he was somewhat amused. { He's a pre-Immortal alright, one with an attitude. I can't wait to see what the training will do to his cockiness. } The Highlander replied, "What's your name?"

"Xander Harris."

"Well, Mr. Harris - may I call you Xander?"

"Go ahead."

"Thank you. I consider myself a good judge of people, and I'd say you've got potential. But I don't think you'll want to train here."

Xander blinked. "Why not?"

"Your attitude sucks."

Xander started to grow angry. "Hey, I don't have to listen to this!"

Duncan chuckled, which just made Xander madder. "What are you laughing at?"

Duncan replied amusedly, "You. And, your inability to control your emotions."

By now, Xander was furious. He took off his backpack and his jacket and said to the Highlander, "Come on, let's see what you've got!"

Duncan simply shrugged. "All right, I promise not to hurt you too much."

Xander spat, "Don't do me any favors!" He charged the Immortal, who simply stepped out of the way. Cursing, Xander tried to deck him, but always failed; either his punches were blocked, or he was too slow, or else Duncan didn't appear to feel anything when his blows struck. Finally, MacLeod hit him with a reverse roundhouse kick, which sent him sprawling to the floor.

Xander saw stars. When his head cleared up a little, he saw Duncan standing over him, offering his hand to help him up. Still a little dazed, he accepted it and got unsteadily to his feet.

Duncan looked at him and said, "We've got to work on your stamina, first of all. Leave your stuff in one of the lockers, and get dressed in a T-shirt and sweat pants. I'm taking you on a little jog."

Xander looked at him in a stupefied manner. "Huh?"

Trying to be patient, Duncan said, "We're going for a run. What part of that didn't you understand?"

"You mean you're gonna train me?"

"Let's just say, I now want to see what you're capable of."

As the weeks passed, Xander grew fitter, and Duncan began teaching him how to fight properly. They began with the basic martial arts, and as Xander began to grow more proficient, the Highlander also started to teach him how to use a sword.

One night when Xander had done well, Duncan decided to end the training session a bit early and take his newest student out to relax and unwind. They went to Joe's Place, and Xander spotted a hot-looking girl at the bar and immediately went to hit on her.

Duncan just smiled wearily to himself, and sat down to talk to Joe Dawson, the owner and his personal Watcher. "Evening, Joe."

Joe stopped wiping the bar, and replied "Hello, Duncan," He looked at his friend closely, and then glanced over at Xander. "What's the story with your young friend?"

MacLeod decided to play innocent. "He's just a new student at the dojo."

Joe looked at him disapprovingly. "Don't try that routine on me, my friend," he said warningly. He rubbed at the tattoo on his arm, which signified his affiliation with the Watchers, an organization that kept tabs on the Immortals. "I know that look. He's a new one, isn't he?"

Duncan grimaced and grunted, "No. Not yet. Look, Joseph, just leave him alone, okay? He doesn't know he's going to become Immortal, and with this sort of thing ignorance really IS bliss. He'll find out the truth soon enough, God knows..."

Joe nodded. "Okay. But you know the news won't stay quiet forever."

"I know, I know."

Joe looked at Xander appraisingly. "You know, Duncan, he reminds me a lot of..." before he suddenly cut himself off.

Duncan looked pained. "It's alright, Joe, you can say his name. Richie Ryan. Killed by yours truly. And before you ask, no, I'm not doing this to atone for what I did to my friend after that business with the demon. Xander knows about it, in fact he's had a lot of experience himself with vampires and demons alike."

Dawson looked stunned. "How's that again?"

Duncan simply smiled. "We've talked a lot. He's from Sunnydale. The fact that he survived living on the Hellmouth, even with the protection of the Slayer, is pretty amazing. Some of the stories he also told me about the Slayer's Watcher were..."

Joe interrupted him. "Hold it! Vampires? Hellmouth? Slayer? And most importantly, WATCHER?"

Duncan couldn't help laughing. "It's a long story. Get me a drink, and I'll tell you all about it."


Xander was pulled out of his flashback, by the sound of knocking at the door. Although he didn't feel like talking to anyone, he got up and answered it.

When he opened the door, he was utterly surprised to see Anyanka standing there, in her human form. She in turn stared at him and said, "Hi, good to see you. Can I come in?"

Getting a grip on himself, he muttered "Sure," and gestured for her to enter. After she had done so, he closed the door and turned to face her again. "I wasn't exactly expecting to see you again, y'know."

Anya looked pained. "I know. You must all hate me, after the way I bailed out on you guys back then."

Xander shrugged. "I don't, but I doubt you're the most popular person back in Sunnydale because of how you ran away like that. By the way, how'd you find me?"

Anya hesitated a moment before replying, "I ran into someone I knew, and made a few enquiries. So, Xander, what happened after I left?"

Xander grunted. "We survived. The mayor got what he deserved. Oh yeah, afterwards Angel and Cordy left for LA, Willow and Oz went off touring with the band, and Buffy kept on doing her thing with Giles."

Anya looked at him closely. "Is something wrong? You sound upset."

Xander looked away. "It's nothing."

She came closer. "No, it's not. If you need someone to listen, I'm here."

Xander seemed to sag. "It's - it's Jesse."

"Who?"

"Jesse. He was my best friend, before he became a vampire and I killed him," Xander said bitterly. "No one remembers him now, except me."

"I don't understand."

"I got a call from my parents today. Seems that Jesse's last surviving relative died in an accident, and he left some of Jesse's things to me in his will." Xander started to pace, no longer looking at his companion. "It really bugs me, y'know? He would have been 18 in a few weeks. He didn't deserve what happened to him. If I had a chance to do it all over again, from the day I first met Buffy, I swear I would make things different. I wish I could just have that chance to..."

He broke off as he suddenly stared at Anya - or rather, Anyanka. The demon. She was grinning at him. "Done," she said in her demonic voice. A bright white light seemed blanket everything, and he knew nothing more.


Xander was lying on the ground, as he slowly regained consciousness. He became aware of sounds and images, as he slowly got to his feet.

He looked around. It was Sunnydale - in fact, it was Sunnydale High. He would have known his old high school anywhere. { How the hell did I get here? } Then he looked around at all the activity.{ And when did they rebuild the school anyway? Last time I saw this place it was a smoky hole in the ground. }

Then he saw something he tried very hard not to see, because he was afraid that it meant he was losing his mind. Principal Flutie - a man who had been dead for years, killed and eaten by hyena spirits.

Mr. Flutie stopped as he noticed Xander staring at him. "Is there a problem here?"

Xander just shut his eyes and shook his head, hoping it would all just go away. "You are not there. I am having a nervous breakdown, after living in Sunnyhell too long!"

The principal merely looked exasperated. "Not another one! First that transfer from Hemery named Buffy Summers, now you? I swear, you kids these days have GOT to stop taking those recreational pharmaceuticals..." he kept talking to himself as he started to walk away.

Xander didn't try to stop him. He was rapidly becoming convinced that all of this was real. He suddenly remembered his conversation with Anyanka. { Ohhh shit... }Then he searched himself. Sure enough, there it was; the stake that Buffy had dropped, on the first day he met her, so many years ago.

Xander raced to the bathroom, and examined his face in the mirror. There was no doubt about it, he looked younger than he remembered. He then sped out and found a copy of the school newspaper in the trash; today was March 10, 1997.

Xander was stunned. He wasn't sure what to do at all. Then he remembered, it was nearly lunchtime, and they were all supposed to meet in the quad today. He hurried off to find his friends.


Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg were having lunch, when Jesse came up to join them, throwing his bag down. "Hey!"

"Hey," said Buffy and Willow.

Willow said, "Buffy, this is my friend Jesse. Jesse, Buffy."

Jesse asked, "Great to meet you. Have you guys seen Xander? We were supposed to meet up, but he was a no-show."

Willow replied, "Sorry, I haven't seen him."

Buffy asked, "Who are we talking about again?"

Jesse grinned. "Willow's boyfriend."

"Jesse!" The grinning boy ducked as Willow threw a pencil at him. He said simply, "Hey, Will, I told ya, he's gonna find out how you feel one day. And you guys are MADE for each other."

Just then, Xander came up and joined the group. Although he tried not to show surprise, he couldn't help it - the sight of his best friend, who had been dead for over two years, and his other two best buds as sophomores was a bit more than he could handle. Basically, he almost lost it.

Willow looked at him in concern. "Xander, what's wrong?"

Xander looked at her. She looked so young, so innocent. They all did, damn it - for the first time in his life, Xander felt OLD. Even though he was in his sixteen-year-old body, something about him suggested he was different, and the others felt it too. They couldn't understand it, but Buffy in particular had a serious case of the wiggins.

"We've gotta talk," Xander said seriously. Then he turned to Buffy. "I also wanted to return this," he handed her the stake.

"Oh, right," Buffy said uncomfortably. "A-a-actually it's for self-defense. Everyone has them in LA. Pepper..."

"Spray is just so passé, yeah, Buff, I remember," Xander interrupted her, looking off to one side.

Buffy was growing even more nervous. "How'd you know what I was gonna say?"

"Doesn't matter," Xander said cryptically. "We have to get to the library. G-man has to hear my story too, so I may as well wait till we're all together. It'll save time."

All of a sudden, Cordelia Chase appeared, addressing Buffy. "Are these guys bothering you?"

Buffy said, "Uh, no!"

Willow added, "She's not hanging out with us."

Jesse went and stood next to Cordelia. "Hey! Cordelia!"

Cordelia sneered at him. "Oh, please!" Turning her attention to Buffy, she added, "I don't mean to interrupt your downward mobility, but I just wanted to tell you that you won't be meeting Coach Foster, the woman with the chest hair, because gym was canceled due to the EXTREME dead guy in the locker."

Buffy was shocked. "What?"

Willow was no less affected. "What are you talking about?"

Cordelia seemed happy to elaborate. "Some guy was stuffed in Aura's locker!"

Buffy stated rather than asked, "Dead."

Cordelia agreed, "Totally dead. Way dead."

Jesse said to Cordelia pleadingly, "Y'know, if you need a shoulder to cry on, or just to nibble on..."

Buffy interrupted him. "How did he die?"

Cordelia put on her disinterested gaze. "I don't know."

Buffy had to ask. "Well, were there any marks?"

Cordelia looked at her strangely. "Morbid much! I didn't ask!"

Buffy looked at everyone, and noticed that Xander in particular was staring at her. Almost as if he knew something the others didn't. "Um, I gotta book. I'll, I'll see you guys later." She grabbed her things and left.

Cordelia stared after her. "What's her deal?"

Xander looked at her with resignation. "That conversation was so déja vu. God, Cordelia, I'd almost forgotten what a complete bitch you could be, back in these days."

Cordelia stared at him, stunned. "How dare you say that to me, you LOSER..."

Xander wasn't interested. "Save it already. Or else maybe the IRS is gonna get an anonymous phone call, about what your father gets up to."

Cordelia started to look nervous. "What..."

Xander cut her off, oblivious to the stares of his two friends. "Man, we REALLY don't have time for this. Willow, Jesse, we gotta see Giles, right now. Get to the library." As his friends went off in bewilderment, Xander couldn't help adding before he left, "By the way, Cordy, don't ever date anybody named Kevin. It's the least you could do for the guy."

"What?" But it was too late, and he was gone.


Buffy barged into the library, after having discovered the vampire bite marks on the dead man. "Okay, what's the sitch?" she demanded of Rupert Giles, the school librarian.

Suddenly she noticed Xander, Willow and Jesse standing near Giles. She tried to cover her remark, by saying, "Have you found that book I was asking for..."

"Knock it off, Buffy," Xander interrupted her. "I know you're the Chosen One, the vampire Slayer, and that Giles is your Watcher, who trains and prepares you, blah, blah, blah." Ignoring the amazed stares from his companions, he continued, "I have a story to tell that you probably won't believe, but what the hell, I'm gonna tell it anyway..."

Xander sat down and started to talk. Buffy and Giles listened intently as he explained what had happened to him, although Willow and Jesse looked at him as if he was crazy.

"You're from the future?" Jesse exclaimed in disbelief. "Buddy, does the phrase 'reality check' mean anything here? You've been watching too many Star Trek reruns!"

Xander was tired from talking, and although he knew it was hard to believe he couldn't hold in his anger. "Oh, yeah? Then how come I knew Buffy was the Slayer, and Giles was her Watcher?"

Giles said quietly, "It - it's not impossible that you might have..."

"Oh, really? I didn't know the Watcher Council was that incompetent about keeping secrets. By the way, G-man, does the name Ethan Rayne ring any bells? If not, how about Eighon?"

Giles went so pale, he almost looked like a ghost. "H-how did you..."

"Ancient history, where I come from," Xander said sarcastically. "Look, from what I remember, you were researching about this new crisis that's supposed to happen when Buffy arrives here in Sunnydale. To save you some time, it's called the Harvest. The Master's gonna wake up and try to open the Hellmouth, and kill a lot of people."

Giles looked concerned. "I'll have to..."

"Research, yeah, I know the drill," Xander said dryly.

Buffy looked confused. "The Master?"

Xander looked impatiently at her. "Ugly vamp, centuries old, who deserves to be in Hell more than any of them." He broke off, suddenly realizing something. "I got someone I gotta go see. I'll see you guys tonight at the Bronze."

Willow looked horrified. "Xander, you can't ditch school just like that!"

Xander gave his friend a sad look. "Yes I can," he said softly. "Look, Will, I'm not the same Xander that you knew this morning, okay? I - I'm different. That's what comes from spending the next few years on the Hellmouth. If there was one good thing about high school for me apart from you guys, it's the fact that it's over, I graduated. End of story. Now excuse me, I gotta go find Dead Boy." With that, he quickly left the library.

Jesse looked at the direction his friend had gone, and then made for the telephone. "Talk about needing a rubber room..."

Willow stopped him. "Jesse, you can't! It's Xander!"

"Look, Willow, I know you've been hopelessly in love with him since you were five, but COME ON! He's flipped out! We gotta put him in a straightjacket before he hurts somebody!"

Giles said quietly, "Why don't you students, uh, get to your next class, and I'll take the responsibility for what we're going to do about Mr. Harris."

Jesse shrugged, deferring to the authority of the older man. "Sure, works for me. Come on, Will," and he dragged her off.

Buffy made to follow them, but Giles stopped her. "Miss Summers, c-could I have a word?"

"What?"

"This is m-most unsettling," Giles remarked, in his most British accent. "I - I've heard of this demoness Anyanka, vaguely, and this thing about The Wish, a-and I must admit it - it both frightens and gladdens me, that we now have such a - a resource in this young man."

"You mean you believe him?" Buffy was incredulous.

"Oh, yes," Giles said, as he took off his glasses and started to polish them. "H-he knew things about me, th-that no one could know."

"Yeah, what was all that about?"

Giles seemed very uncomfortable. "A-another time, perhaps, I've got rather a lot of work to do now. Please - please, just keep a close eye on our Mr. Harris."


Xander hurried along the street, glad it was still daylight. He was headed for where Angel's old apartment was, both hoping and not hoping that the vampire would be there. Just in case, he had brought along his cross, a stake and some holy water if he ran into trouble.

He entered the building, and went to the appropriate door. Hesitating a moment, he started banging and called out, "Rise and shine, ya got a visitor!"

The door opened, and Angel squinted out. "Who the hell are you?"

"I like to think, your worst nightmare," Xander replied. "We gotta talk, Angel."

Angel gestured, "Come in."

Xander did so, and before the door was fully shut he said, "Just so we're clear about this, I don't trust you. If you try anything, I'll shove a stake through your undead body so fast it'd make your head spin."

Angel looked at him in curiosity, rather than fear. "You know who and what I am? What's your name?"

"Yeah, Dead Boy, I know who you are," said Xander. "And the name's Xander Harris."

"Who sent you? Whistler?"

Xander was puzzled for a moment, and then he remembered who Angel was referring to. "You mean the so-called good guy demon? No. You're close, but no cigar."

"Why don't you start at the beginning? It's usually the best place, so I hear."

Xander grinned, despite himself. "No one ever accused you of not having a sense of humor," he replied sarcastically. "Lemme tell you what happened to me..."and he did so. He finished up by saying, "...and that's where we are now."

Angel was astonished. "Time travel? I never heard of such a thing."

"Yeah, well, it happened. How else would I know about those gypsies? I mean, how they gave you your soul back, with that curse. And how to break the curse too, while we're at it?"

The 240-plus-year-old vampire's jaw nearly fell to the floor. "You know - what?"

Xander almost panicked for a moment. "Uh, maybe I shouldn't have said any..."

Angel just looked at him. "I believe you. You want to know why?"

"Spill."

"Because your story is too crazy NOT to be true. And there's another thing I've noticed - your body language. You act as if you've been around me for a long time, whereas I KNOW I've never seen you before. Any human this close to a vampire who knows what it is will either be terrified, or calm as only a lunatic can be. You're neither."

Xander grinned again. "Thanks...I think. But the real reason I came here was to warn you never, EVER to sleep with Buffy. No matter how much you love her, or..." he paused for a moment in pain, "she loves you. If you ignore what I'm saying, a lot of people are gonna die, and you'll be responsible. Plus, I don't think Hell would agree with your soul."

Angel looked confused. "What...?"

"Never mind," Xander glanced at his watch. They had been talking for a long time. "Heck, I gotta get going. And so do you, if you're still planning on catching Buffy tonight."

"How did you...no, don't tell me. In fact, it might be better if we didn't see too much of each other, from now on. Too much knowledge about the future might be very dangerous. For example, if you knew when someone's going to die..."

Xander had been heading for the door, but suddenly stopped in shock. "I almost forgot! This thing with the Master and Buffy, fighting in a few months. We were both there, she drowned, I gave her CPR and brought her back to life..."

"Please!" Angel shouted. "I don't want to know anymore. We'll deal with that when the time comes."

"Yeah, well, just in case something happens to me before then, I thought you should know. This IS the Hellmouth, remember? See ya around, Fang Boy."


Later that night at the Bronze, Xander showed up early and discreetly kept a watch on his friends. He saw Giles and Buffy talking on the upper level, after Buffy had left Willow behind. He was determined to change things this time around, so as soon as Willow started talking to the vampire Thomas he came up to them and shoved his cross into the demon's face. As Thomas vamped out, the teen used his other hand to plunge a stake into the creature's heart, and the Debarge-like vampire quickly exploded into dust.

Willow looked around in panic, but no one else seemed to have noticed; the din and the jostling crowds had masked Xander's activity. She spluttered, "Xander? What...?"

Xander just gave her a small smile. "Believe me now, Wills?"

"I...I..."

Xander didn't wait around for a reply, he had already spotted Jesse with the four-hundred-year old female vampire called Darla. "Go get Buffy!" he told her urgently, and Willow scrambled to obey.

As Darla led Jesse out the door, Xander shoved his way through the crowd in an effort to reach them. He didn't want to think that he might too late, that he might have screwed up...again.

Outside in the parking lot, he started to catch up with them. "DARLA!" he shouted at the top of his voice.

The vampire stopped and turned around, surprised that someone actually knew her name. She took one look at Xander, and KNEW that this human understood the situation. As she put on her game face, she grabbed Jesse by the neck and growled, "No closer! Or I'll sever his carotid artery so fast you'll drown in his blood!"

Xander stopped, and Buffy, Willow, and Giles came up to join them. "Let him go," said Giles in his most authoritative voice.

"I don't take orders from a human," she sneered. "Especially one who has such a lousy dress sense, as to wear nothing but tweed."

"Who are you?" asked Buffy.

"Her name's Darla," said Xander, glaring at the undead killer. "She's Angel's sire."

Darla again looked astonished. "How did you know about Angelus?"

"Don't ask me no questions, I won't tell you no lies," Xander mocked her.

"You're all going to die," Darla sneered. Speaking like she was quoting scripture, she continued, "And like a plague of boils, the race of man covered the Earth. But on the third day of the newest light would come the Harvest. And the blood of men will flow as wine, when the Master will walk among them once more! The Earth will belong to the Old Ones, and Hell itself will come to town!"

"Yeah, yeah," Xander said wearily. "I liked it better coming from that what's-his-name vamp, Luke, in the mausoleum, but whatever."

"WHO ARE YOU?" she screamed, sounding positively demented.

"Just somebody who knows how to break that gypsy curse placed on your undead boyfriend 100 years ago," Xander said enigmatically. "Would that be worth anything to you?"

Calculation began to show itself on her face. "Tell me now, and maybe your friend lives!"

"I don't think so," said a voice from behind her.

Darla whirled around, spotting the source of the new voice. Unfortunately for her, Jesse tore himself free while she was distracted. He dragged himself over to the others, who clustered around him, making sure he was alright.

Xander looked over, and saw Angel standing nearby. Darla was silently snarling at him, but all that mattered was that Jesse was safe, and alive. Xander almost sighed in contentment; he hadn't made a mess of it this time, after all.

Darla had backed up, and was now sneering at them again. "You're all going to end up dead!"

"Somebody change the CD," Buffy wisecracked. "You think you can take on all of us?"

"Maybe not," she grinned horribly, "but I think they can."

The gang looked around, and saw vampires coming at them from all directions. Immediately a fight broke out; Buffy and Angel fought the undead, while Giles grabbed Willow and Jesse and hustled them back inside the Bronze. He would have grabbed Xander as well, but after seeing the expression on the teen's face he suddenly knew better than to try.

"Xander!" screamed Willow. Xander paid no attention; he just grabbed his stake and launched into the fray. The other two fighters were too busy trying to kill the enemy to tell him to go. They fought and punched and kicked, dusting the vamps where they could.

Eventually though, Xander's luck ran out. Just before the remaining vampires gave up and ran off, a really ugly fangster backhanded him so viciously that he flew across the lot, and slammed into a parked car. He hit it so hard, he was knocked unconscious immediately and stayed that way for a long time.


Xander woke up groggily, finding himself in the school library. For a moment he was disoriented, not remembering what happened; then it all came rushing back. He tried to get up, but almost immediately started to fall down again.

"Hey, take it easy!" Willow exclaimed. "Don't try to get up yet, you've been hurt! I thought we should have taken you to the hospital-"

"No," Xander croaked. "We don't have time for that. The Harvest-"

"Xander, man, I gotta apologize," Jesse said as he came over to help his friend, who was trying to get up again. "I saw it, but I still kinda don't believe it! Vampires..."

"Yeah," interrupted Xander. "Hey, where's Buffy? Giles?"

"Right here," said Giles, coming to join them, along with Buffy. "Are you all right, Mr. Harris?"

"Call me Xander, Giles, please," the teenager replied. "Mr. Harris is my father."

"Well, Xander, then," the Watcher tried not to smile. "I've just been explaining to everyone what we've come up with, i-in regards to the Harvest. Young Miss Rosenberg h-has been most helpful, using that infernal computer device. Apparently once a century, th-the Master can draw power from one of his minions while it feeds. Enough power to, uh, open the Hellmouth. The minion is called the Vessel..."

"Yeah, right," Xander interrupted. "I know, Giles, I've heard it all before. Come on, we've got to get to the Bronze."

The Watcher looked uncertain. "A-are you sure? There are a number of places they could go..."

"Yeah, I'm sure," Xander said testily. "What time is it?" he looked at his watch. "No! Come on, we've gotta hurry!"

The rest of the battle went pretty much as it had the first time around, according to Xander's memory. They arrived there late, with the vampires having taken control of the club. Buffy went to fight Luke (the Vessel), while Giles and the teenagers got the rest of the people out of there. Darla tried to kill Giles and Jesse but was driven off screaming, by the holy water Willow threw at her. Xander did his best to stake the vampires, glad yet again that Jesse wasn't among them. Finally Buffy destroyed Luke, and the danger of the Apocalypse was averted.

As the gang left the club, exhausted after their ordeal, Darla watched them exit the Bronze. She was still scarred by the holy water, but more than that she wanted to kill Xander. She believed that somehow, he was responsible for this debacle. She had gathered the remaining vampires that had fled after the Vessel had died, and waited.

As she sent the other vampires to attack, she came out of hiding and aimed a gun at the boy. As she fired, she felt a sharp pain in her chest, and turned around to see Angel and the stake he had used. "You..." she barely had time to say, before she exploded into ashes.

Angel looked over towards the others, and saw Buffy fighting the vampires. He rushed to help her, noting one of the humans was lying on the ground. He was somewhat more concerned to realize it was Xander, as he fought the Master's minions.

While the battle was raging around them, Jesse was with his friend, trying to get him to hold on. He was afraid to move him; Xander had lost so much blood, and Jesse was secretly thinking it was already too late. "Come on buddy, stay with me -"

"Jesse, shut up," Xander croaked. "Don't have...much time. Stick close...to Buffy. Lotta freaky things're...gonna happen. And what I said...about Cordy? Didn't...mean it. She's worth..." Xander's slurred voice gave out, as the last of the life drained out of him and his eyes stared blankly at nothing.

"No!" screamed Jesse. He drew the attention of a huge-sized vampire, and scrambled away from Xander's corpse as it charged towards him.

The fight continued, until once again the vampires were either dead or fled. When it was over, Willow looked around and asked, "Where's Xander?"

Jesse drew her into a hug. "I'm sorry, Willow. I'm so sorry."

"NO!" she screamed and buried herself in his embrace. "Where is he? I wanna see him!"

"He's right over..." Jesse started to point, but then looked at the spot in surprise. "Hey, where'd he go?"

"What's going on?" Buffy limped over, as Giles and Angel joined them.

"It's Xander. He's..."

"He's dead, isn't he?" asked Angel. "I saw it. I'm sorry I wasn't quick enough to stop Darla. For what it's worth, I made sure she didn't survive long enough to enjoy her handiwork."

"But where's the body?" asked Giles in confusion.

Jesse replied, "I don't know. Maybe the vampires carried it off - we'll have to start searching, the least we can do is give him a decent funeral..."


Xander jerked up awake, on the bed in his hotel room. The TV was buzzing softly, the black and white snow filling the screen. He quickly examined himself, but there was no bullet wound, no injury at all. Going to the bathroom, he splashed water onto his face, and then looked at himself in the mirror. It was the same old face it had been this evening, not his younger self.

He went over to the hotel room calendar, and checked the date and the year was what it was supposed to be. There was no sign of Anyanka, either. "I have GOT to start laying off those anchovy pizzas..." Xander grumbled to himself, as he decided it was all just a dream.


The next day Xander went over to the dojo early, as he wanted to say goodbye to Duncan before catching the bus to Sunnydale, to see his parents about their phone call the previous day. When he got there no one was around, so he let himself in with the key Duncan had in a secret location.

A short while later, he suddenly felt a strange buzzing, like somewhere in the back of his head. A few moments later, he saw Duncan MacLeod enter, and the sensation vanished.

"Duncan?" MacLeod didn't answer him, but simply withdrew his katana. Xander became somewhat uneasy and asked, "Hey, what are you doing?"

"Are you here to challenge me?" the Scot asked Xander tersely.

"What? No, why?"

Duncan frowned. "Are you that newly Awake? Don't you know the Rules?"

"What rules? What are you talking about? I just came to say goodbye, I gotta go back to Sunnydale for a bit..."

"Who are you?" MacLeod interrupted him.

Xander was completely dumbfounded. "It's me, Xander! What's the matter with you? You're acting like you've never seen me before!"

The Highlander nodded slowly. "I haven't."

Xander burst out laughing. "C'mon, quit kidding around! A joke's a joke, but this is going too far..."

"I'm not joking," Duncan said emotionlessly. "But you're acting as if YOU know ME. Explain yourself."

"Huh? Look, Duncan, I have no idea what's going on here, but I've been training with you in the dojo for weeks! Then I have that really nutty dream last night, I felt this weird pain in my head just before you came in, and now you're acting all psycho on me..."

Duncan frowned again, lowering his sword. "Are you seriously telling me, that you don't even know that you're an Immortal?"

"I'm a WHAT?"


Duncan and Xander talked for a long time, telling each other everything. To convince the new Immortal what they were, MacLeod killed himself and quickly came back to life, disregarding the teen's abject horror of his actions.

Later, Joe Dawson came over, and he too had no idea who Xander was, despite having met him at his bar. Xander was still finding it hard to believe everything Duncan had told him, even though he trusted his teacher implicitly. "So...explain to me again, what exactly an Immortal is?"

Duncan sighed. "Xander, I told you that we ourselves aren't exactly sure what we are. Although we appear completely human, we're not - for example, we can't have children. The bottom line is that after we're killed and resurrected the first time, we no longer age, we can't get permanently sick or injured, and we don't die. Unless someone cuts off our heads."

"Gross," Xander muttered to himself. "But when did I die? I mean, I would have remembered - oh, no. That wasn't real, was it? It can't have been..."

Joe said gently, "Xander, you're babbling. What exactly are you talking about?"

"Uh, never mind for now. But if I'm an Immortal, where did I..."

"Come from?" Xander nodded. "I don't know. You see, we're all foundlings, none of us know where we really come from.

"What I do know is that since the dawn of mankind, we've lived our lives among them in secret, fighting throughout the ages for something called the Prize. But none of us know what it actually is, just that in the end the last of our kind is supposed to claim it, at the time of the Gathering. Our only refuge from all this is holy ground, we can't fight there, it's a major rule that not even the most evil of us can break." He gave the teen an enigmatic grin. "This may not be the best time or place to say it, but welcome to the Game, Xander."

"Thanks," Xander said in confusion. They kept on talking, and eventually Joe excused himself to go back and check on his bar. Duncan then asked Xander to show him what he was capable of with a sword; he had decided to take on the teenager as a student, secretly doubting that he had done so previously.

As they fought, though, Duncan finally became completely convinced of Xander's story; he recognized things in Xander's fighting style that he taught to all his students, that no other Immortal did. Eventually, they stopped when Xander was completely exhausted.

"Duncan?" Xander said tentatively.

"What?"

"This thing, about the Games..."

"The Game, Xander. Call it what it is."

"Yeah, right. WHY do we have kill each other?"

"Because that's our nature, that's what we ARE, buddy boy. Kill or be killed - but don't take any pleasure from it. My teacher and kinsman, Connor MacLeod, taught me that."

"You know, this so-called Game sucks!"

"True. But we have no choice but to play it."

"Well...what if I decide not to?"

Duncan looked at him, compassionately. "How long do you think you could avoid the others? There are those of us who can spend their entire lives on holy ground, but you're not that type of Immortal, Xander, I can tell that already. Sooner or later, if you won't defend yourself, someone WILL take your head. No, Xander," he said sadly, "for better or worse, you'll play the Game. You won't be able to help it."


All of a sudden, both of them felt the telltale pain in their heads, that signified the approach of another Immortal. Duncan turned around and hissed, "Xander, whatever happens, remember you can't interfere. The fight is always one-on-one. If I die, get out of here and disappear, Joe will help you. Keep practicing until you're strong enough to fight the other Immortals."

"What? But I..." Xander started stubbornly.

The other Immortal, a swarthy forty-something man of roughly average height, appeared through the door. "MacLeod," he said simply.

"Parisien," the Highlander said emotionlessly.

"Who's your young friend?"

Xander spoke up then belligerently, "Xander Harris."

Parisien gave him a quick glance, and looked back at Duncan. "You surprise me, Highlander," he said with a sneer. "Don't you remember what I did to one of your previous students?"

"What do you want?"

"Can't a man just show up to say hello to an old friend?"

"We are not friends," Duncan said in the same emotionless voice. "If you're here to challenge me, either do it or leave now."

Parisien just gave him an evil grin. "I told you, MacLeod, I just dropped by to say hi," he said in a pseudo-friendly voice. "I'm not in the mood for a fight right now. Maybe later." With that, he left.

"Who was that?" Xander asked his teacher.

"One of the worst types of Immortal," Duncan replied. "You're in danger..."

"And you're not?"

"Not as much as you are. Konstantine Parisien is a headhunter, one of those who deliberately targets Immortal infants like you, for the easy Quickenings..."

"What?"

"Quickenings, Xander. I explained it to you - our life-force, all that we have ever known and felt - and more."

"Duncan - you just called me an infant. So, like, how old are you?"

The Highlander smiled. "I was born in Scotland in 1592, Xander."

The younger Immortal was amazed. "Over four hundred years ago? That's - wow!"

"I know."

Later that night, Xander went back to his hotel. His head was still spinning, from all the things he had learned about himself. Suddenly he had so many questions he wanted to ask his parents - his adopted parents, he reminded himself - and there was also that thing with Anyanka he had to investigate. He made a decision; he was going back to Sunnydale immediately.

He composed a letter the next day to Duncan, and shoved it under the door of the dojo on his way to the bus depot. However, he failed to realize that Parisien had spotted him. The older Immortal thought to himself, { He's not protected by the Highlander now. This should be fun, }as the bus to Sunnydale pulled away and he followed it.

As Joe and Duncan arrived at MacLeod's dojo, they found and read the letter. Both men started cursing, as they knew he would be easy pickings for the Immortal headhunter all alone. Getting into Duncan's car, they also started down the road to Sunnydale.


Xander arrived home, after sunset. He went to his house, and tried to open the door with his key, but it wouldn't work. Confused, he rang the bell.

A strange man answered it. "Yes?"

Xander said, "Hi. Could I come in? I have to talk to my parents."

The man frowned. "I'm sorry, son, but your parents aren't here. Were you expecting them to be?"

"Well, yeah, they live here!"

The man frowned again. "You must have the wrong house. I've lived here for over a year, ever since the Harris people left."

Xander was now nervous. "They left?"

The man shrugged. "So I heard. I talked to the neighbors, and apparently they weren't exactly Mensa types, if you know what I mean. Nothing but drunken fights all the time. Also, they'd lost their teenage son in some gang fight a few years ago. They could be anywhere."

Xander couldn't help himself, he was fighting back tears. He choked, "I see."

The man was not a fool, he realized something was upsetting Xander. "Are you okay? Would you like to come inside for a moment?"

Xander backed off, he didn't want to go inside. There would be too many painful memories, and besides this wasn't his home anymore. "Uh, no thanks. I've gotta be going, I appreciate your help..." he turned and left.

"WAIT!" But it was too late, Xander was gone.


Xander wandered the streets for a while, not sure where he was going. All of a sudden, he pulled himself together. { What am I doing? I gotta go see Giles! He'll know what to do. Heck, he always does. }

He quickly made his way over to Giles' house, praying that the man would still be there. He rang the doorbell, and sure enough, the man in question answered. "Yes?"

Xander threw himself into a big embrace with the older man. "Giles! Man, thank God you're here! I was beginning to feel like I was in a freaking episode of the Twilight Zone or something!"

Giles managed to free himself of the teen's hold. "May I ask, who the devil are you?"

Xander really started to panic. "It's ME, Giles! Xander Harris! The guy from school, who always called you G-man, and you hated it? Don't tell me you don't recognize me, or I might seriously lose it here!"

Giles stepped back to study the boy, and suddenly he gave a start of recognition. "Good God, it IS you! But it's been years - h-how..." Suddenly he stepped back, and brandished a cross in front of him. "Don't come any closer!"

Xander looked confused. "What are you doing?"

"You're a vampire, a-aren't you?"

"Huh?"

"How else do you explain being here, a-after you ended up dead at the Bronze over two years ago?"

"Oh man, that was REAL?" Xander said to himself. He then reached over and touched the cross...but nothing happened.

Giles looked absolutely astonished. "You're not a...w-what ARE you?"

Xander grimaced. "I'm an Immortal."

"What?"

"Can we go inside and discuss this? 'Cause I get the feeling it's gonna take a long time, and I'm freezing out here," Xander said.

"Uh, yes, of course," and Giles gestured for him to come in.

As they entered the librarian's home, Xander looked around and remarked, "I see things haven't changed much around here..." when all of a sudden, Jenny Calendar walked into the room. "Rupert, who was that at the door?"

"Well, I'm not..." Giles broke off as he saw Xander was staring at Ms. Calendar. "What's wrong?" he asked him.

Xander couldn't stop staring. "You're alive," he said to her, blankly.

"Yes," she said uncertainly. "Who are you?"

"His name is Xander Harris," Giles said quickly. "Is there a problem?"

"No," she replied. "I'll just be in the kitchen, it looks like you two have a lot to talk about." She then turned and left.

Giles turned his attention to Xander. "What's the matter?" he asked the boy.

"It's just - I didn't think she'd be here," Xander stammered. "I thought she was dead."

"DEAD?" Giles exclaimed. "No, she's not! Is she in some kind of danger? Tell me what you know, right now!"

"Chill, Giles, I was planning to do just that," Xander continued. "But, maybe you oughta get all the gang over here first. No sense in having to repeat everything I tell you."


Some time later, the doorbell rang, and Giles went to answer it. In came the so-called 'Scooby' gang; Buffy, Angel, Willow, Oz, Cordelia - and last of all, Jesse.

Xander got up off the couch. Willow and Jesse took one look at him and screamed, "XANDER!", backing up to the door.

There was fear and pandemonium for a few moments. Giles eventually managed to restore some semblance of order, by yelling at the top of his lungs, "QUIET! EVERYBODY CALM DOWN!"

As the dust settled, Buffy withdrew a stake and asked, "What's going on? Who is he?"

Xander flinched; although he was getting used to people not knowing him anymore, somehow the fact that Buffy was one of them made it a million times worse. Fortunately, Willow came to his rescue. "Buffy, that's Xander! Don't you remember him? It was when you first came to Sunnydale, and he died, a-and I..." she broke down and started to cry. Oz took her in his arms and tried to comfort her, glaring at Xander.

Buffy lowered her stake, squinting at him. Suddenly, she also recognized him. "Right! I remember now. But you..." she raised the stake again. "You must be - if you try anything..."

Angel lowered her arm. "He's not a vampire, Buffy," he said to her. He looked at Xander in confusion. "But...you're not the same person as before. You're...different."

"Well, you got that right," Xander remarked sarcastically.

Jesse stammered, "Xander? Is that really you?"

Xander sighed. "Yeah, buddy. It's really me. The original Xandman, y'know?"

Jesse and Willow ran over and hugged him, overcome with emotion. Cordelia kept her distance though, and Giles, Buffy and Angel hung back, as they hadn't known Xander very well. And Oz and Ms. Calendar just looked on in confusion as in this reality, they hadn't known Xander AT ALL.

"Would someone please tell me what's going on?" asked Jenny Calendar.

"Here we go again..." Xander said to himself.


After Xander had told his story, the others just looked at him in silence. "I'm supposed to be dead?" Ms. Calendar asked in wonder.

"Me too?" stated Jesse.

"I know it sounds crazy," Xander said tiredly, "but it really did happen that way, once upon a time. When Angel lost his soul..."

"But I never did!" claimed the vampire. "I remembered your warning. Buffy and I never..." he suddenly broke off.

Buffy looked at him in sudden comprehension. "So THAT's why you wouldn't..." and she suddenly stopped too, embarrassed.

"What?" Oz asked in confusion, but neither of them replied.

Xander tried to change the subject. "So, Oz, are you still a werewolf?"

Oz looked startled. "Yeah! How did you...wait, never mind." He started to shake his head. "I don't think I wanna know."

Xander looked around. "So what else is different here?"

"Pardon?" asked Giles in confusion.

"Well, y'know, how about the Master's death. What happened this time around?"

Angel said, "It all happened just like you said. When we learned what was in the Codex of Prophecies, I remembered and I brought Jesse along to give her CPR when she drowned."

Xander grinned. "Way to go, buddy! I don't suppose you became a soldier at Halloween one time, just like I did?"

"Yes! I..." Jesse stopped. "This is major weird. Uh..."

"What?"

"Did you know Cordelia and me would end up together too?"

Xander's eyes nearly bugged out of his head. "WHAT?"

"I'm guessing that's a no..."

Xander stared at Cordelia, who so far hadn't said anything. "Hey, Cordy. I, uh, guess congratulations are in order."

"Yeah, thanks," she said vaguely. It was obvious she didn't feel comfortable in his presence, and he searched for something else to say. "Hey! What happened to the other Slayers? Kendra and..." he paused, "Faith."

"Uh, th-they're both dead," Giles stammered in his usual way. "We've been looking for the new Slayer for a while now..."

"Faith never got out of the coma, then?"

"What coma?"

"She..." Xander stopped. "I'm guessing, she never ended up in a coma here?"

"No," Buffy said. "Some demon bitch killed her, not long after my 18th birthday."

"Your..." Xander said to himself. "Oh, right. I remember now. Yeah, she would have been, wouldn't she? If I hadn't been there with my car..."

Buffy looked furious. "You mean you KNEW? Why didn't you warn us back then? For that matter, why didn't you warn us about what would happen to Kendra?"

"Whoa, Buff, gimme a break, I kinda had my hands full back then, remember? You guys didn't believe half of what I told you, anyway. So, what DID happen to Kendra?"

This time Angel spoke. "Drusilla killed her. Her vampires kidnapped Giles, and tortured him to reveal how to activate Acathla. Fortunately, we were able to stop her and the others before the world was sucked into Hell."

Xander looked at him. "And that's ALL that happened?"

"Yeah! Now what about Faith?" Buffy said angrily.

"Buffy..." he said slowly. "Before I answer that, I gotta ask, what about the mayor? That thing with the ascension?"

"That vampire, Mr. Trick, he spilled his guts to us about that," Willow said. "We were able to prevent..."

"Okay," Xander interrupted her. His mind was racing furiously, on what to tell them. "Buffy, about Faith...I mean, something happened. It was...bad. There's no point going into the details now, it doesn't really matter, does it? Let's just say she ended up in a coma after being stabbed, and she was probably gonna die anyway, so it's kinda better if we don't say any more about it, okay?"

Buffy still looked like she had a lot of questions, but a voice suddenly said, "You're sugar-coating it a lot, kid, but what the hell, you're basically right."

Everyone looked up to see a badly dressed man lounging against the kitchen door, wearing a strange hat. Angel immediately recognized him. "Whistler! What are you doing here?"

Xander looked at the vampire. "HE'S Whistler? The demon?"

"Yes...Buffy, calm down!" he tried to restrain the Slayer as she brought up a stake, focussing on the new arrival. "He's one of the good guys."

Xander looked confused, and asked the demon, "I thought she knew you?"

"Not this time around, kid," Whistler said. "I just dropped by to say congrats and all that, and have a nice life."

Everyone started asking questions, and Giles again had to yell for quiet. "Who are you?" he asked. "What do you want here?"

"Again with the explanations," the demon grumbled. "I really hate this part. Okay, listen up, 'cause I'm not gonna say this twice..." and he told them about the First Evil, and D'Hoffryn, and the meeting with Anyanka. "And I'm guessing our little buddy here has told you the rest of it?"

There was a silence, which Xander was the first to break. "Dead Boy lost his soul AGAIN? So that's why you gave Anya her powers back, and tricked her into sending me back in time. But how did you know I would wish for...oh right, you'd have known about my parents. But what about..."

"Hey, kid, I didn't come here to play twenty questions!" Whistler exclaimed. "Let's just say Angelus would have seriously screwed things up big-time, so I hadda do what I hadda do. You did all right, too - fixed up what once went wrong, and we're talking a new and improved Hellmouth here. Sorry I had to leave ya in limbo for a few years after that bullet, but it's not like I had anywhere to PUT your dead tokus. So, all's well that ends well, that's what I say."

"I guess it's not that important, y'know, but I AM curious - does anyone else remember the original history?"

"Well, apart from you and me and that Anyanka broad - no. As a matter of fact, I'm gonna have to avoid that toots like the plague for the next few centuries..."

"But Xander came back from the dead?" Willow shouted. "You still haven't explained that part of it."

"Uh..." Xander stammered, "Will, that's a long story..."

"And that's my cue to bug outta here," Whistler said as he stepped into the kitchen.

"Wait!" Giles shouted. Jenny Calendar raced over and looked in the other room. She turned back and faced the others. "He's gone!"

Angel gave a wry grimace. "He does that sort of thing a lot..."


All of a sudden, Xander began to experience a buzzing in his head. "Oh, no..."

"What is it?" asked Willow.

There was a knock at the door, and Giles answered it. "Hello?"

Parisien came striding into the house, as if he owned it. "Harris," he said, locking eyes with the young Immortal.

"Parisien," Xander replied in the same tone.

"Excuse me, but what are you doing in my home?" Giles exploded.

Neither Xander nor Parisien paid any attention to him. "Is this about what I think it is?" said Xander.

"I'm glad to see you've got some brains," sneered the older Immortal. "You'll need them. I'm sure MacLeod has explained the Rules to you. When and where do you want to do it?"

"This does NOT sound healthy," Jesse said to no one in particular.

He was ignored, just like Giles had been. "There's an abandoned factory at the north end of town, just off the main road," Xander said. "Will that do?"

"Sounds like it," Parisien agreed. "Meet me there in less than an hour. Or else I'll come find you. Anybody I kill on the way, it'll be on your conscience." With that, he abruptly left.

"What the hell is going on?" shouted Buffy. "Who was that guy?"

"He's like Xander," Angel said slowly. "He felt...different, but the same."

"You got that right too," Xander also said slowly. He took out the Manchu broadsword from his trenchcoat that Duncan MacLeod had loaned to him, until he could afford his own weapon. He examined the blade, making sure there were no imperfections and disregarding the looks of amazement from his companions. "I've gotta get going..."

"No!" cried Willow. "Xander - what was all that about? We could call the police if he's not a vampire or a demon..."

"NO!" shouted Xander, before calming down. "Look, this doesn't have anything to do with you guys. Just - stay out of it. I'll be back..."

"Will you?" asked Cordelia cynically.

Xander looked at her, and she couldn't hold his gaze. "Maybe not," Xander said, being honest. "But if I don't go, bad things are gonna happen. You can trust me on that. Uh, if I don't come back, and a man named Duncan MacLeod ever comes around asking about me - well, just tell my teacher I said thanks for everything."

"Xander, wait!" But it was too late. Xander had sheathed his weapon and was already headed out the door.


Some time later, Joe Dawson and Duncan MacLeod rolled up at Giles' house. They knocked at the door, went inside, and were told what had happened. Duncan started cursing again. "The young idiot is gonna get himself killed!"

Jesse asked tentatively, "Uh, is that gonna matter? I mean, he's been dead before..."

"Yes, it does matter," Joe replied. "There's a way that Xander can end up dead...permanently dead."

"We've gotta go after him!" said Willow firmly.

"No, we will, you won't," said Duncan even more firmly. "You have no idea what you're dealing with."

"You - you're like Xander, aren't you?" asked Giles. "You're a...what did he call it...Immortal?"

"Yes," said Angel, as all heads turned to look at him. "I can feel it."

Duncan turned to look at him. He suddenly had a flash of insight and said, "You're the vampire?"

Angel put on his game face for a moment, to demonstrate. Duncan shook his head and said, "Well, that answers that."

Joe said in concern, "Duncan, we really should get going. Now."

"You're right," and they quickly headed for the door.

Jesse jumped up and yelled, "We're coming too!"

Duncan turned around. "I told you..."

"No, I'm telling YOU!" Jesse yelled. "I just found out today that originally I became a vampire and I've been dead for ages! Then my buddy saved me. Now that he's in trouble and he might die, AGAIN, you expect me to just sit around here? You're nuts!"

Duncan could not help grinning; he understood now why the two teens had been such inseparable friends. "What the hell...we've got to hurry."


At the factory, Xander walked up to the main entrance and went inside. He had many bad memories of this place, but he thrust them aside. He felt the pain in his head, and knew that Parisien was nearby.

He walked to the factory floor, where he found Parisien waiting for him, with his sword withdrawn. Xander stared at it - it resembled a cross between an oversized kukri used by the Gurkhas of India, and a Roman gladius. "Nice sword," Xander said as he withdrew his weapon, "but I think mine is bigger than yours."

Parisien gave him a rare genuine smile. "Very amusing. It's not like I haven't heard that one before, in the past 210 years." Then without any further chat, the fight was on.

Less than a minute after it began, Xander's friends came barreling through the door.

"We're too late!" exclaimed Joe.

"DAMN IT!" swore Duncan.

"What can we do?" asked Willow worriedly.

"Nothing," said Duncan, steeling himself for the worst.

The fight continued, but it was pretty evident that Parisien was going to win. He was obviously stronger and more experienced than his counterpart. He taunted Xander as they fought, "You know, you don't exactly strike me as one of MacLeod's students. They're usually better than this! You sure you been practicing?" Xander snarled and attempted to slash at his midsection, but Parisien easily blocked it. "I suppose so. Well, enough with the fun and games," and he ran Xander through with his sword, who then collapsed to his knees but somehow managed to hold onto his sword.

"We have to do something!" said Buffy.

"You can't interfere!" said Duncan sternly.

"Maybe not," Angel said, "but I owe him. We all do. And somehow, I don't think your rules apply to my kind." So saying, he took a running start and did a huge back-flip, landing right behind Xander, in front of Parisien.

Xander had just staggered to his feet and the older Immortal had begun his final swing to take his opponent's head, when Parisien suddenly saw the demonic visage of the vampire appear right in front of him. Needless to say, he was surprised; he stopped and stepped back for a moment, trying to deal with the new situation.

That moment of distraction was all that Xander needed. Taking a wild swing with all of his strength, he decapitated Parisien, whose head flew off and landed on the floor a short distance away. The young Immortal yelled viciously, "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!" as the head clattered to a stop.

The Highlander began to motion everyone to leave. "Everybody out! Right now!"

"Why?" asked Giles, ever curious.

"No time! Just go!"

Unfortunately, no one was listening to him apart from Joe. They were too busy looking at Xander and the headless corpse, wondering how they were going to explain this one to the authorities. All of a sudden, the dead body began to float and glow.

"Too late!" shouted Dawson. "Everybody, take cover!"

As everyone scrambled to obey, Xander dropped his sword and stretched his arms out wide. Suddenly, electrical bolts began to criss-cross the factory floor. The Quickening started to focus itself on Xander, who then started to float in midair.

The crates started flying and the glass in the windows exploded outwards in a million pieces; Xander started screaming, as the lightning entered his body. He was encompassed by over 200 years of Parisien's life, taking all of his opponent's knowledge and power. The agonies of life and death played all over his features.

Suddenly it was over, and Xander fell to the ground. Panting heavily, he began to drag himself up and recover his sword, as the others slowly came out of their hiding places.

"What was that?" Cordelia asked in a small, terrified voice.

In a low voice, so low she wasn't sure if she heard him correctly, Joe Dawson muttered, "The Quickening."


A short time later, almost everyone was gathered back at Giles' place. Xander and the others were waiting for Joe and Duncan, who were taking care of some other business. Everyone apart from Xander was still pretty freaked out over what had happened, and also somewhat annoyed that Xander wouldn't explain any details. But MacLeod had warned him, "The less the mortal world knows about us, the better."

"But what about Joe?"

"He's different. The Watchers take a non-interference oath with regard to our lives. Do you think the rest of the world would do the same if we ever revealed our existence? I saw the witch-hunts. Today's government laboratories would be worse. Trust me on this."

Xander was pulled back to reality, when he heard his name mentioned. "I'm sorry?"

"Xander, you really haven't changed much at all! You still never pay any attention to me!" Willow exclaimed.

"Yeah, you're right," Xander said with a smile. "What was your question again?"

"I said, how long are you gonna be gone before you come home again?"

Xander blinked, and said slowly, "I don't know."

"What does that mean?"

Xander got up and faced everyone. He looked at them all - Giles, Jenny, Buffy, Angel, Willow, Oz, Cordelia and Jesse. His friends. For the first time in his life though, he felt out of place here. This wasn't his Sunnydale anymore. "I mean, I don't know. It's not like this is exactly my home, y'know? Not now."

"But Xander..." began Jesse.

"No, I mean think about it," Xander interrupted. "My parents aren't around any longer. The rest of the world thinks I've been dead for years. I don't really belong here anymore."

"But we're your friends!" said Willow.

Xander gave a small grin. "Yeah, I know. I didn't say I wouldn't come back to visit or anything, I'm just saying I'm an Immortal now. Things are way different. Besides, you guys have gotten along just fine without me all this time. Why should things change now?"

"WE DID NOT GET ON JUST FINE!" shouted Willow. "Do you have any idea how many times I cried myself to sleep after you died? Do you have any idea of the guilt Jesse felt when he was unable to save you?"

"Yeah," replied Xander, calmly. "I went through what Jesse did too, remember?" He went over and hugged her. "Look Will, I'm just saying I have no idea what the future holds. But I've got a whole lotta stuff to learn, that Duncan's got to teach me. And besides, I don't exactly feel comfortable with the thought that you guys will be in the line of fire, if some sadist with a sword comes to take a whack at me again."

He heard the car outside, and gathered his things. He briefly gave Jesse, Buffy, Willow, Ms. Calendar and Cordelia a hug, and a handshake to Oz and Giles as he began to say goodbye. He left Angel for last, and spent a little extra time with him. "Thanks again for saving my life, Angel."

The vampire looked embarrassed. "You're not calling me Dead Boy anymore?"

"Nah. It's getting pretty old, don't ya think?"

"You know what? Let's meet at least once every fifty years. I've kinda gotten used to hearing you call me that."

Xander grinned again - this brand of humor, he would definitely miss. "You got a deal." He left without looking back, and met Duncan by the car, with Joe at the wheel. "Are you sure about this?" the Highlander asked him.

Xander turned around, and sure enough, everyone was gathered at the door. He waved briefly, and they all waved back. He shoved his things inside and told MacLeod, "I'm sure." They climbed into the car and drove off, into a bright new future.

THE END