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Echoes of the Fallen

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Fallen May Rise". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: YAHF- Xander lost a bet with with Willow, where he had to dress up as a Jewish character for Halloween. Well, he stuck to the bet, and now, he must overcome the memories of a man who wanted only to protect his people, no matter the cost.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Xander-Centered(Recent Donor)ChilordFR181492,971197516226,9932 Jul 094 Dec 09Yes
CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner

Transitions I

Echoes of the Fallen: Transitions I

Disclaimer: These aren't my characters, only my interpretation. Magneto belongs to Marvel, Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon and the various studios/networks.

Author's notes: These will be mainly scenes from various episodes and interactions... Don't really feel like rehashing all of what happened in the episodes, when they're ultimately the same. So, I brought up some scenes where the differences begin to show. They'll grow as time goes on.*Edit* Has been edited for grammar and a few mistakes

-*-*-*-

Xander hunched forward over his keyboard, mouse quickly flitting about the screen. Occasionally, his fingers returned to the keys, numbers quickly typed in, flashing across the screen with cold precision. Slowly, steadily the design began to take shape and form on the CAD screen in front of him.
 
“What’s this you’re working on, Xander?” The casual curiosity in Jenny Calendar’s tone barely reached the teen’s ears as he would wave his hand slightly in response.
 
“^Just something to sell,^” the boy responded, his voice unconsciously slipping into Romani, as his thoughts often did for some reason around the Computer teacher.
 
“^What’s it do?^” came the response, from the woman’s lips, before her eyes widened at her slip as she took a step back, staring at the boy in front of her.
 
His fingers kept up their mad pace for a moment longer, and for a moment, she thought perhaps he hadn’t caught it. Then, the motions stilled and he slowly turned around and looked up at her. There was a worn age in those eyes she noticed, something she’d never seen before in the boy. As one brow arched up, she could hear his voice slipping into a slightly European accent.
 
“Well now, this is… unexpected,” the boy noted, studying the woman in front of him for a long moment. “And suddenly, I find myself wondering, if cyber pagan accurately describes who you are, hmm?”
 
“How do you know that language?” There was a slowly dangerous glint in her eyes as the woman eyed the boy in front of her, carefully putting her back to the door, her body tensed and ready. “Because, last time I checked, Xander Harris was limited to English, bad English at that.”
 
“Well, I know how I know Romani,” the boy shot back, his brow still arched. “But, I find myself at a bit of a loss as to how a computer teacher with no obvious signs of Romani heritage, save for her rather lovely looks knows it.”
 
“Xander… if that’s who you are.” Jenny Calendar was staring at the calm boy in front of her.
 
“Yup, it’s me all right, Ms. C,” The boy chuckled as he offered her a lopsided grin before his face grew serious. “If that’s who you really are.”
 
She flinched lightly at his words shifting softly as she half glared at the boy, speaking again in the Romani tongue, “^I will ask you again, how do you know my people’s tongue?^”
 
“^Ah, so you are of the Romani? Interesting.^” Xander chuckled softly his dark eyes locked onto her own. “^I suppose that would explain the magical training. Now, what would a Romani be on the Hellmouth for?^”
 
Ignoring the intensifying glare the woman was sending him, Xander reached up, lightly tapping his lower lip in thought. “^Not for power, or evil, you’ve proven enough already… Which means you were most likely sent here for something. Now, that leaves me to wonder, just why that would be, as the only thing  I can…^” A light shone behind those eyes, a plausible answer flashing across them. “Angelus.”
 
Her glare faltered, a look of shock in her eyes as she managed, to slowly respond, “^How… No, I suppose there’s no point in denying it now?^”
 
“^Considering you’ve rather confirmed that, I’d say not,^” Xander grinned softly back at her before shrugging slightly. “^Sorry.^”
 
“^How did you know?^” her voice was soft as she glanced around the rather empty room.
 
“^I didn’t.^” Ge grinned back at her with a soft gleam in those black eyes. “^I guessed.^”
 
She stared back at him, her mouth opening a moment, before shutting again, staring incredulously at the boy in front of her. “^But…^”
 
“Takes a gypsy to catch a gypsy I do believe is the saying?” Xander responded, switching back to English with a smirk on his lips.
 
“You are not Romani,” she countered with a good degree of authority in her tone.
 
“No, I’m not,” he agreed with a grin. “But I have the memories of one,” He paused a moment, before lightly stroking his chin. “Well, the memories of a man who became one by marriage then became one via assumed identity, at least.”
 
“Halloween,” she supplied with a sigh before growling out a curse under her lips as she spat out. “If I ever find the bastard responsible for that…”
 
“Ethan Rayne,” Xander supplied with a happy little grin on his lips.
 
“What?” the woman blinked a moment, staring down at the boy in front of her.
 
“His name is Ethan Rayne,” the boy repeated with a grin. “Ya know, the guy who did the costume changing? Cast a spell using a bust of Janus as a focus. Talk to G-man if you wanna know more about him, they used to be friends.”
 
“They’re friends?” There was a distinct frown, a mixture of anger and disapproval flashing across their eyes.
 
“They WERE friends,” Xander corrected with a shrug. “Fall out happened, G-man was less than pleased with what happened last night. I think he made his displeasure known to him.”
 
The way the boy spoke the word ‘displeasure’ sent a slightly feral smile to the Romani woman’s lips as she nodded and answered him back, “So, who did you go as that left you with knowing how to speak Romani?”
 
For a moment, Xander said nothing, his lips pursed together as he debated a long moment on how to respond to that question, before with a sigh, he answered her, “He had numerous names, identities and aliases… The one that he was most widely known under, was… Magneto.”
 
The woman in front of him paled visibly as she took a step back. “Magneto… as in the super villain? As in, tosses around nuclear submarine’s without trouble, Magneto?”
 
“Hence the status of the rather decimated warehouse district,” Xander responded with a nod, before his face darkened visibly. “And, if you want a super villain, take Apocalypse, or Sinister, or, hell even Shaw, but NOT Magneto. He never did what he did for himself.”
 
“Still…”
 
“Trust me on this.” Xander’s eyes fell closed for a moment before slowly slipping open again> “I have the guy’s memories… I know.” He paused a moment before giving her a pointed look. “So, Angelus?”
 
“I was hoping you’d forget that,” she grumbled softly as she half glared at the boy.
 
“Not likely to happen.” Xander chuckled softly. “As much as I might want to claim otherwise, Max’s memories are starting to alter how I look at things. Fortunately, without the emotional perceptions.”
 
“I can see the problems of you seeing the rest of us as ‘flat scans’,” the teacher responded drolly before she arched a brow slightly. “But, I thought his name was Erik?”
 
Xander stared at the woman for a moment, his face only imitating a fish for a moment before he quickly regained his composure and let off a rueful chuckle. “And of course, you’re quite full of surprises, now aren’t you my dear? A comic book geek, a gypsy witch and beautiful woman. Were I a little older, and you a little younger, I'd find you to be the perfect woman.”
 
“Oh?” The arch of that brow rose up as she looked down at him, her arms falling across her chest as her lips thinned. “A gypsy witch am I?”
 
“My dear.” He chuckled softly as he would casually finish saving his design, with a slight shift of his hand, sending it to the printer a moment later before he gave her his full attention. “I have the memories of a man who married a gypsy, and had a daughter that was another, literal, gypsy witch. The scarlet one in fact, remember?”
 
“So, what, you’ve got some incestuous fantasies now?” The arch of the brow only grew on her face as she stared down at the boy in front of her.
 
“Ah, I suppose this is where I fluster, get red in the face and stammer?” Xander asked idly before he would get up out of his chair and wander over the printer to look over the designs. “Sorry, I’m afraid that won’t work on me.”
 
“What, no more teenage hormones?” The brow quirked again as her lips twitched slightly upwards with her response.

“Mmm? Oh, they're there alright.” He nodded slightly as he responded to her, before nodding in satisfaction at the designs in his hand. “This will do nicely....”

“They're there, but?” she offered up, curiosity shining now in those dark eyes.

“But? Oh.” He nodded absently as he rolled the print outs up and slipped a rubber band about them. “I may not have his powers, but, I do have the techniques he used to discipline his mind in order to keep from destroying the world when he used his abilities.”

“Oh.” she blinked slightly. “So, no typical teenage bubbling pot of lust and desire?”

“Only when I want to be,” he responded back, with a wink. “So, again, Angelus?”

“Fine.” She sighed softly, pinching lightly at the bridge of her nose before shrugging. “I was sent here to make sure he's still suffering. To make sure he wasn't allowed happiness.”

“Ah, how very Romani.” He nodded thoughtfully before shrugging slightly. “Making he suffers even generations since his crime.”

“As you said, we are Romani,” Jenny Calendar responded simply. “Not going to scold us for it?”

“Why?” Xander arched a brow slightly before shaking his head. “It is vengeance. And as long as this vengeance is being carried out, the Scourge of Europe cannot return.”

“You really do have his memories, don't you?” Her voice was soft, as she looked at the boy in front of her as if in a new light.

“Indeed.” He nodded again before smiling slightly as he looked at her, “Do be careful though. You remind me a little of Wanda.”

With that Xander turned, designs in hand, and strode past her, leaving the woman to ponder just what it was he meant by that.

-*-*-*-*-
 
“I appreciate you coming out here with me, Xander,” Buffy said softly as she quietly sat atop a tombstone, half glancing towards the mound of recently settled dirt on the grave next to her.
 
“No problem, Buff,” the dark haired boy responded with a simple shrug, his own eyes following her gaze. “Though, kinda surprised you made with the asking me along instead of G-man.”
 
“I was, kinda, planning on asking him,” the blonde haired girl admitted with a slow shrug of her shoulders. “Then, I kinda figured you have a bit of a better view on all this because of, ya know…”
 
“Ah yes,” the boy responded with a sage nod. “The memories rattling around in this old noggin of mine.”
 
“Ya know, its weird how you can be all Xander-y at sometimes, then all Magneto-y at others,” the girl pointed out quietly. “Never quite sure how you’re gonna react.”
 
“Eh, keeps things interesting though, doesn’t it?” he offered her a soft grin as he responded, before shrugging softly. “But, honestly? Depends on who I’m talking to and why.”
 
“Does life ever get any easier?” The voice was soft, quiet as it left her lips.
 
Any answer he might’ve given her was cut off as the ground underneath the grave suddenly erupted as the fledgling vampire emerged from it. A feral, mindless growl escaping its lips as it shook the dirt from its body. Then, suddenly it stiffened, yellow eyes flashing open, wide in shock, before it collapsed into dust.
 
“I was going to do it you know.” Buffy’s voice was soft, even as a tone of gratitude whispered through it as she slowly looked over to where Xander was slipping his stake back into his jacket.
 
“I know,” he responded softly, his voice shifting as it did at times, steadier as that tinge accented it once more. “It never gets any easier, but, that doesn’t mean that friends can’t be there to share the burden.”
 
“I was kinda hoping you were going to lie to me,” she said softly as she slipped up, and walked over to him, laying her head against him as he gently wrapped an arm about her shoulders.
 
“I can’t do that, Buff,” he responded quietly as he let her lean against him for a time. “I told you I’d help you stay on track. That means I can’t start lying to you.”
 
“Yeah, I know,” she responded softly, giving him a soft hug before she stood up. “Come on, let’s go hit the Bronze.”
 
“Lead on McBuff, Lead on,” the boy smiled back at her as he would settle in next to her, the two teenagers leaving the now empty grave of Billy Fordham behind.
 
 
-*-*-*-*-
 
“Er, well, hello there,” Ethan Rayne managed as he looked down at the glaring Slayer who held him tightly by his shirt. “Did you enjoy your costume?”
 
Suddenly, he found himself sailing through the air before a rather painful landing on the hard floor of the library. “Urk… Children these days, no sense of gratitude, eh Ripper?”
 
“Mr. Rayne.” The cold voice, cultured and distinctly European as it curled against his ears, was decidedly unfamiliar to the Englishman. “I have been so… Looking forward to relaying to you just what I thought of your spot of fun.”
 
“Errr.” Ethan blinked slightly as he turned his still dazed eyes onto a dark haired teenage boy “Do I know you?”
 
As an arch of the brow answered him, he took a moment to study the dark haired boy for a moment before blinking a bit as a realization hit him. “Oh, the one who just wanted that silly purple cape! What, turn into some bloody awful magician and turned yourself into a newt or some such?”
 
The man swallowed nervously when every eye in the library bore down on him with a sharp, baleful look as the boy slowly rolled up his sleeve to reveal the faded string of tattooed numbers on his arm as he spoke, “Oh no, Mr. Rayne.” A slight shake of the head accompanied the boy’s response. “You turned me into an Auschwitz Sonderkommando.”
 
For a moment, a blank look of incomprehension blossomed on the man’s face before slowly his eyes widened as a trickle of memory exploded through his thoughts. “Hold on! You’re the one that put together whatever costume you had, not me!”
 
“Yes, but you’re the one who decided that you were going to transform us into them,” Xander countered as he quietly loomed over the man. “If you hadn’t, we’d have just had a rather bland Halloween, dressed poorly. And, I wouldn’t have the stench of the ovens haunting my nightmares.”
 
“I told you its…” the man protested again, his eyes locked in denial as the boy suddenly leaned over him.
 
“Mr. Rayne?” Xander’s voice came, clear and concise as it dripped with scorn down upon the man.
 
“Err, yes?” Ethan responded, his eyes grown wide in shock.
 
“Shut up.” and with that, Xander’s fist slammed across the Ethan’s jaw, sending the man into a daze as he stood up and looked at the rest of the group. “Oh, and before I forget… Ms. Calendar wants to have a word with him as well.”
 
*-*-*-*
 
“So, not that I’m not saying I wasn’t completely insane for doing it.” Cordelia’s voice rose up as the brunette cheerleader looked over at Xander. “But, why didn’t you kiss me back?”
 
“You mean, besides the creepy bug guy trying to kill us, making it a rather horrible time to start thinking with other parts of my anatomy than my brain?” Xander asked back, a slight shrug of his shoulders emphasizing his words. “You’re attractive Cordy, hell, I know we had some really weird love hate thing going on since this year started, but…”
 
“But? What, I’m not good enough for a loser like you?” she snapped back, her eyes burning into his.
 
“Cor,” he said the word softly as he looked into her eyes. “You’re shallow, vain, egotistical…”
 
“Never mind then!” she snapped back, immediately turning to go, fighting down the tears she refused to acknowledge were beginning to sting at her eyes, before she found his arm on hers, refusing to let her go.
 
“Honest and blunt to a fault, smart, sharp witted and fiercely protective,” he continued without really missing a beat. “But, you’re not ready to let anyone in. And because of what’s up here.” He paused, tapping his head meaningfully. “I can’t act like a guy should when one of the two hottest girls in the school is practically throwing herself at me.”
 
“One of the two?” The bitterness in her tone was spat out, even as her eyes softened quietly. “If you like bleach blondes, I suppose…”
 
“What can I say?” Xander grinned softly back at her. “I’m attracted to strong, independent women, even if they like to hide it behind a vapid mask that most don’t bother to look underneath.”
 
“So, you DO want me!” she crowed triumphantly with a smirk as she lightly jabbed her finger at the boy’s chest.
 
“Yes,” he admitted it with a slight smile as he would look into her eyes. “The problem is, I can’t do anything about it.” Gently he would reach out, and lightly tapped his finger on her chest. “Until you learn to let people in here, and trust them, we’d end up hurting each other in the end. And I want to see the Cordy I know you can be, too much to sabotage that.”
 
“Gah, you know, only YOU could blow me off and do it for my own good.” She glared at him for a long moment before sighing softly. “And actually mean it.” She looked at him a long moment before reaching and cupping his cheek. “You’re too good to be this selfless.”
 
“Ah, huh?” The boy blinked slightly, a look of confusion on his face. “What and the huh?”
 
“Doofus,” she said it with a soft affection. “You deserve to have what you want too, you know.”
 
He shrugged slightly before reaching forward and pulling the girl into a gentle hug. For a moment, he could feel her stiffen, and he could practically feel the retort ready to bite past her lips. Then, she stilled and relaxed as she returned the hug with the slight pressure of her own arms.
 
“Maybe someday, huh?” He grinned at her, a slight lopsided grin on his face. “But, for now, this is high school, remember? After I’m out, we’ll see about finding what I want.”
 
“You better.” She pulled out of his arms, and gave him that serious, regal glare she’d perfected so long ago. “Otherwise, you’ll answer to me.”
 
“I know.” He smiled softly at her, nodding quietly as she turned and walked away, his smile dimming gently as he watched her go.
 
Once she was out of hearing range, he spoke up once more. “I just wish I could believe you, Cor. Maybe someday, when I know you’re all safe. When I’ve earned it.”
 
And with that, he turned, quietly walking away as he fought down the pang of desire that rushed through him. He knew he wanted her. He knew she wanted him. But, she deserved someone that didn’t wake up, screaming in the night from memories not his own. Someone that didn’t hear the stinging rebuke of their father, spitting out his worthlessness haunting his mind.
 
Maybe someday he’d be that person, but as he looked around him, at the ever dwindling number of his classmates, he couldn’t help but doubt that.
 
-*-*-*-*-
 
Xander was twitching slightly as he looked down at the gutted and exposed electronics spread out in front of him. Shaking his head, he reached up pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment. Sighing then, he gazed over the remains of the robot “Ted” and shook his head again.
 
“And I thought LMDs were a pain in the ass” The boy grunted softly as he checked the bag on a nearby shredder.
 
“LMDs?” a familiar, perky voice asked as a familiar head of blonde hair strode casually down into the room. “What’re those?”
 
“Life Model Decoys,” Xander responded with out thinking before blinking a bit again as he looked up to see his friend. “Hey, Buff.”
 
“Hey, so, what’s the what about these Live Model thingies?” she asked curiously as she peered down at the stripped and disassembled Ted. “And man, is that creepy.”
 
“Eh, what’s creepy is how stuff that shouldn’t be possible with  current tech around here keeps popping up,” the boy countered. “And LMDs are basically robots like Ted here back in the Marvel universe, mainly used by a big bad organization. The thing is, the programming and memory needs for them….”
 
As he trailed off, Buffy arched her brow up as she looked from the android to her friend. “Is there something you haven’t mentioned that I should be aware of, Xander?”
 
“Err, no?” he offered hopefully before glancing at the firming resolve in her eyes and releasing a slow sigh. “Well, err… I’m…” The remainder of what he was saying was lost amidst a string of muted mumbles that she couldn’t quite distinguish.
 
“You’re what?” she asked again, her arms crossing about her chest, lightly glaring at him now.
 
“Thinking you’re very cute when you’re trying to be all threatening?” He grinned slightly as he managed to pull a slight blush across her features before holding up his hand as she started to advance on him, “I’m as smart as Magneto was, I KNOW what he knew.”
 
“Translation?” she offered up, brow perking up on her face as she canted her head slightly to the side.
 
“I make Willow look like she’s somewhere between you and Harmony?”
 
“Hey!” She was pouting now as she glared back at him and sniffed softly. “That was mean!”
 
“I know.” He nodded sagely, before offering an apologetic shrug. “But, accurate. When it comes to the schooling, you’re not exactly…”
 
“Yeah, yeah.” She grumbled softly as she pouted back at the boy. “Still, comparing me to Harmony?”
 
“Note, I said between…” he pointed out with a slight grin as he started to feed the first piece of the robot into the chipper. “I can’t bring myself to directly compare ANYONE to Harmony.”
 
“So, you’re super smart now?” Buffy slowly hazarded.
 
“Yup.” He shrugged slightly and grinned. “Comes in handy at times… especially since I sleep in class so much.”
 
“I was wondering why you were snoozing more and still making such good grades,” the girl admitted.
 
“In between dispensing sagely wisdom,.” Xander was grinning lightly before he turned the chipper on long enough for the screeching of the robotic part’s destruction to die down before shutting it off again. “And other things.”
 
“So, why the big secret?” She hopped up on the table next to Ted’s parts and offered him the next piece.
 
“Eh, Giles knows,” Xander responded with a nod of thanks as he quickly disposed of the next piece.
 
“Who else knows?” There was a look of hurt on her face, though she still handed him the next piece for disposal.
 
“Currently?” He shrugged, mulching the next piece just as quickly as the last. “You.”
 
“Wills doesn’t know?” She blinked slightly, staring incredulously at him as she pulled the piece she was about to hand him back.
 
“Nope, and I’d appreciate you not telling her,” he responded as he picked up another piece off the table before disposing of it next.
 
“What?! Why not?” Shock didn’t even begin to describe what was in Buffy’s tone as she stared back at her friend, blinking brightly as she couldn’t wrap her mind around someone not wanting to tell their best friend since kindergarten something so important.
 
“Because, she’s Willow.” He shrugged again as if that was answer enough.
 
“Ok, make with the splainy, now!”

“Among us, who has the least self discipline?” he asked quietly as he fed another part into the shredder, not turning it on, simply feeding it in and turning his head, looking at her. “Who among us thinks the least about the consequences?”

“Um, me?” she pointed out as she shrugged. “Not exactly one for thinking ahead and what not.”

“Heh.” Xander chuckled at that before shaking his head. “Not so much actually. Willow's the one.”

“Willow? But she's Miss Uberbrain!” Buffy immediately protested.

“So?” Xander arched a brow back at his friend as he would lightly shrug his shoulders. “I love her, but, seriously, the girl has serious impulse control. She always goes for the quickest, easiest solution.”

“Since when?” Buffy blinked a moment. “And, I'm not exactly the poster girl for taking the longer, harder solution.”

“No, you're the poster girl for taking the most direct solution.” He grinned back at her a bit before wincing as he hit his arm on the table. “And, I'm the poster boy for why you shouldn't mess around with magic.”

“Eh, no argument with you there.” She nodded back to him, a slight smile on her lips. “Magic can be of the bad.”

“Ugh.” Xander shook his head and sighed, shaking his head lightly before continuing. “Wills though... Why do you think she got into hacking?”

“Never really thought about it honestly,” the blonde girl admitted as she would finally offer him the next part.

Nodding back at her, Xander disposed of the one currently in the shredder, before loading the new one in. “She wanted to learn more. Even the stuff she really wasn't ready for. Stuff that she should wait to know until she's wiser. But, she doesn't wait. She pushes on ahead and ignores whatever anyone else might tell her.”

“Again, not seeing much of a difference between us,” the Slayer responded with a slight shrug.

The sigh that left his lips made her friend suddenly seem, very, very old, almost weary as he leaned against the table she sat down on. “With you, its more, see target, slay target. You're not constantly looking for ways to get more powerful... Unless you're holding out on us Buff?”

“What?! NO!” She immediately, vehemently shook her head. “I don't even want what I've got! I just want a nice, normal life! No vampires, no demons, no slaying, just a nice, happy, normal life! If I got MORE power? I'd just end up having MORE of these stupid problems.”

“And thus, the difference between you and Willow.” Xander smiled slightly as he leaned over, putting his arm over her shoulder and smiling as he half hugged her close. “Wills... Isn't ever satisfied. And she doesn't think about how things can go wrong with looking for more.”

“You... really think that about Willow?” Buffy looked up at him, a half doubtful, half worried expression crossing her face as she lightly scrunched her brows together. “I guess I could kinda see it... It's just...”

“She seems so bright and happy about it?” Xander winced softly. “I think she gets off on knowing more than anyone else she knows does. Part of the reason why I'd rather her NOT know about me.”

“What, afraid she'll go all evil mad scientist on us?” Buffy asked with a slight giggle in her voice, before she saw the solemn expression on Xander's face. “You are, aren't you?”

“I've just seen how it happens... How it can start out so innocently, and turn someone into a nightmare, into a monster.” He paused a moment, pursing his lips before he would let out a soft little sigh. “I even know what its like to start off down that path. Magneto... Did some things that he thought was right at the time, but, ended up being... He regretted them.”

“This is still WILLOW we're talking about!” Buffy exclaimed, a tremor of denial lacing her voice. “Willow!”

“Uh huh, Willow,” He agreed before he got up, quietly feeding another of the remaining pieces of the Ted bot into the machine. “I know you probably don't see it like I do, but... Trust me on it, its there.”

“Uh huh.” She glared at him slightly, her lips pursing together. “You know, you can't hide it from her forever.”

“I know.” He said it softly as he fed another piece into the machine.

“She will find out,” Buffy pointed out again her arms crossed about her chest.

“I know,” he repeated his previous answer, a soft little sigh escaping his lips. “Oh, do I know.”

“Then WHY?” She was growling softly now, her eyes flashing as they bore into his own.

“Because all I can do is try to hold out, get her to learn some self control, get her to gain a little wisdom to go with the thirst for knowledge,” he spoke softly, shaking his head. “Otherwise... One day the Big Bad we have to put down, might be her.”

“But... IT'S WILLOW!” the girl again protested, her eyes wide as she stared back at the boy in front of her.

“You think I don't know that?!” He was growling at her now, no articulation, no culture to them, they were pure, unfiltered Xander. “But, I still SEE IT! How do you think it feels?! To see in someone you'd known your whole life, been closer to you than your own family, and see in them the potential to become like the things nightmares are made of?!”

Buffy faltered at that, as her mind quietly raced over the things that she'd seen, and tried to look at it the way her friend was. Trying to see where he was coming from. But each time, she kept seeing Willow's eager, smiling face. The bubbling exuberance that rolled off of her. And the way nothing seemed to affect her. How she always kept going with a stubborn demand.

She paused then, in her thoughts. Running over how when it came down to things, Willow always seemed to do what she wanted to do. What she thought was best, no matter what. How she hadn't hesitated a moment in illegally hacking into secure files. How she always seemed in her sense of right and wrong was dependent completely on what was important to her.

Slowly, reluctantly she nodded her head, before bringing fingers up, rubbing at her temples. “I think I can see where you're coming from. I guess... I just always looked at her as being so bright and cheerful. So... Normal. But, that's not really normal at all considering things, is it?”

“No, it's not.” Xander shrugged slightly before slumping down onto the ground, leaning back against the leg of the table. “And, ya know what? If I didn't have over 60 years of memories shoved into mind to force a bit of separation? I'd never see it.”

Buffy slowly slid down the table and sat next to him on the floor, leaning slightly against him. “I guess I wouldn't either if you didn't make me really think about it.” She paused a moment, before giving him a serious look. “But... You can't keep expecting the worst out of people, Xan.”

“I don't.” He shook his head in denial, before wincing slightly as he nodded an acknowledgment. “I do see the worst in them now though. Just can't help it. Seen too much to not. I just... The whole old saying: 'If you want peace, prepare for war.' Wills, is just too easy for me to read. And it hurts, because I know that I've already lost what we had.”

“I guess that explains why you seem so distant around her lately.” Buffy nodded quietly before shrugging a bit. “So, I guess I really do need to keep an eye on you, huh buddy?”

“Yeah, guess so.” He offered her a sad little smile before shrugging just a bit. “Come on, lets finish this up.”

“Cool.” She nodded her head. “Can I shred some of it too?”

“Well, he did try to kill your Mom, so I think you're allowed to help shred him,” he responded good naturedly as he tossed her a part. “Go ahead.”

“Wh-what's going on here?!” A squeaking shriek erupted through the room, as both occupants looked towards the door, to see a wide eyed Willow staring at what they were doing with shock and horror. “What're you DOING?!”

“Huh, I thought it was pretty obvious, how about you, Buff?” Xander responded with a shrug as he would pick up another piece just as the blonde girl nodded and fed the first into the shredder.

“Yup, seems that way to me.” The Slayer immediately nodded back as she took the proffered piece from the boy and fed it into the shredder. “Disposing of Evil Ted Bot.”

“But, but, but...!” Willow was whimpering now, staring at the rapidly vanishing pile of Ted parts that remained. “Think of what we could learn!”

“Evil Robot Wills,” Xander pointed out. “ Evil, murdering, drugging, girl beating robot.”

“But...” Again the protest came, whimpering past her lips as she plead with pouting lips. “I wanted to study him!”

“Sorry, Wills.” Xander shrugged as he tossed Buffy the robot's head then nodded in satisfaction as the screech of its destruction reached his ears. “Ted Bot goes bye-bye.”

“Ah, that felt good,” Buffy said with a happy sigh while they finished off the last few pieces of the robot's parts. “So, Bronze?”

“Sounds good to me,” Xander agreed. “You coming, Wills?”

“All that nifty stuff....” Willow was pouting softly before she glared at Xander. “Don't think I'm gonna forgive you for this so easily Mister!”

“Willow, it was an evil robot,” Xander pointed out with a shrug. “Let it go.”

“Come on, Wills,” Buffy interrupted, as she tugged on her friends arm. “Lets go see if that cute guitarist that took the bullet for you is there.”

“Oz?” the red head offered up hopefully, before brightening a bit at Buffy's nod. “All right, to the Bronze then!”

As Xander slipped up next to Buffy, the two let their eager friend take the lead, as a short murmur of words passed between them.

“Xan?” Buffy's words were soft, as her eyes never left Willow's back.

“Yeah, Buff?” The boy's own eyes were watching the same as the Slayer's.

“You might have a point.” Her voice was soft, reluctant in its admittance.

“I wish I didn't.”

“Me too.”
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