Title: Blast to the Past (0/?)
Author: Cyclone (newbie to Buffy 'fics)
Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.
Rating: I'm gonna go say PG.
Spoilers: Up to a single comment in The Freshman.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to the almighty Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: Xander goes on a time trip.
Author's Note: For some unknown reason, I am particularly fond of the post-season 3 Xander dynamic. I suppose it could be because I dislike the concept of a Xander who would hook up with Anya after ragging on Angel for so long. Anyway, on to the 'fic!
* * *
My life has gone insane. At the moment, though, I'm not sure I particularly mind.
It all started after Uncle Rory's car broke down and stranded me in Oxnard. Being a, um, "male dancer" was not exactly my idea of a perfect -- or even decent -- job, but at least it paid for the hotel room, food, and repairs... and boosted my ego a little. Add to that the fact that no one I knew would ever be seen in _Oxnard_, and overall, I considered myself lucky.
I knew I shouldn't have thought that, but I wasn't in Sunnydale anymore, so I figured the Hellmouth might actually leave me alone for once.
Boy, was I wrong.
When I opened my eyes that morning, though, I knew something was screwed up. I was looking at the Babylon 5 poster stuck to my room's ceiling above my bed, when I knew damn well I should have been looking at the broken ceiling fan of the rundown Motel 6 room I'd checked into at Oxnard for the summer.
I sat up and looked around. Seeing the calendar hanging on my wall turned to November of 1997 did _not_ improve things in my eyes.
*Great,* I thought sourly, *something Hellmouthy's sent me back in time.*
I wasn't sure what to do, but I did know that I had to talk to Giles. If anyone could fix this, the Watcher could.
What happened next is sort of a blur. I do know I went through my once-regular morning routine and endured the same boring classes I still remembered.
Lunch time was my first reprieve, and I headed straight for the library.
"Giles, we got a problem."
"What is it, Xander?"
"I'm stuck back in time."
I sighed. I guess I wasn't exactly clear on what I'd meant, after all. "Giles, as far as I know, it should be July of ninety-nine, not November ninety-seven. Something Hellmouthy tossed me back in time."
From the way his eyes widened, I knew that this was not a good thing.
"Oh, dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear."
"'Oh, dear' _what_, Giles?" I demanded, rather anxious now.
"Temporal folds are rather... tricky matters. Xander, whatever you do, refrain from telling anyone about future events, or you may return to a future that is not your own."
In retrospect, maybe I should have expanded on that advice and kept my mouth shut about everything, but as far as I can see for now, things seem much nicer... if a little nerve-wracking.
"Ya gotta send me back, G-man. I don't know if I can go through all this again."
"Yes, well, I can certainly understand that sentiment. I'll have the group meet this evening. And don't call me 'G-man.'"
I gave him my patented Xander-grin, "Thanks, G-man."
* * *
That evening, we'd all gathered together.
Well, most of us.
Buffy was doing a little early patrol, and who knew -- or cared -- where Deadboy was? Willow was... I'm not sure where she was, actually. I'd sort of steered clear of her the whole day, and I was torn between hurting inside for not knowing and hating myself for avoiding her. At the moment, it was just me, Giles, Cordy-... _Cordelia_, and Ms. Calendar.
We were researching with mucho gusto for a couple of hours, but so far, we had found nothing.
I slammed yet another book shut and snarled in frustration, "Nothing! Not one damn thing about how to get me back!"
"Whoa. This thing's really got you freaked, huh, Xander?"
"Huh?" I looked up and shot Buffy a faint smile. I hadn't even noticed her come in. "Oh, hey, Buff."
That's when the library doors opened again.
It was _her_. Willow. My-... no, _Oz's_ Willow. *But she's not Oz's yet,* a small voice in the back of my head observed. I shook that thought away.
She smiled and looked at me, and my heart stopped. Only for a moment, obviously, since I didn't collapse in a big, dead heap. It was _that_ look, the same loving look I'd seen on her face for so many years and was too stupid to notice until it wasn't directed at me anymore.
When I saw that look, my chest tightened up, and I felt something catch in my throat. "Oh, God," I choked out. I shot to my feet and bolted from the library. Seeing the hurt look on Will's face only made it worse even as I called back at them, "Igottago!"
I was so preoccupied with the jumble of thoughts running through my mind as I headed for the school's front doors that I didn't even notice Buffy following me until she grabbed my arm and slammed me against the lockers.
Of course, I said what came naturally.
Well, what else did you think I might have said?
"Okay, Xander, spill. What's wrong? Why'd you freak when you saw Willow?"
"I..." I mentally winced when I heard my voice crack. I took a deep breath and tried to figure out exactly what to say, "I can't stand it, Buff, seeing her look at me like that."
A memory played itself out in my mind when I said that. Every word, every syllable came back to me as I recalled the night I finally told Willow that I loved her. The night she first broke my heart.
"Like what, Xand?"
I fought back the tears. I'd had lots of practice over the years, though Buffy wouldn't learn about that for awhile yet. "Like she loves me," I finally croaked out, trying to keep the pain out of my voice.
Judging from the look on Buffy's face, I'd say I failed miserably. Which sort of makes sense -- I think -- failing miserably at not sounding miserable. Whatever.
"Xander," she said, her voice softer, gentler, and definitely without the edge of anger it had before, "she does love you."
I shook my head and said bitterly, "Maybe she does now, but damn it, Buff, I'm from the future. I know. Between now and then, she broke... will break... my heart. Twice. And she doesn't... won't... even know it. She left me, Buff, for one of the 'cool' guys. Just like everyone else. I can't... I can't go back if she looks at me like that." By now, I had quite thoroughly lost my fight against the tears, but I didn't care anymore.
"So don't go back."
I blinked. "What?" *She couldn't have just said...*
"Don't go back."
"No buts, Xander," she said. "You're still you, and it's not like the future's set in stone, is it?"
"I said 'no buts.'"
By now, you'll notice that I wasn't exactly thinking straight here. I guess having the whole "poor, tortured soul" act I'd mostly eased into disrupted had knocked me for a loop.
Oh, man. Now that I think about it, I must have been _really_ losing it if I was copying Deadboy's act.
"So, you like her butt, huh?"
She grinned impishly at my so eloquent response to her wisecrack -- isn't it _my_ job to do the cracking of the wise? -- and said, "Well, you're making _some_ progress."
I was torn. Buffy had a point. I _could_ stay and be with my Willow, but on the other hand, with what I knew about what would happen with Angel and Acathla and then with Faith and Mayor Wilkins -- and especially what would happen to Ms. Calendar and Kendra -- I wouldn't be able to stop myself from interfering.
The problem with that -- and Giles would be proud of me to have thought it out this far, I think -- is that whatever I do might just make things worse. Heck, even taking the chance with Will I'd missed before this time around could cause some major bad to happen without me knowing.
And if seeing her loving me again and the _thought_ of going back to a time when she didn't was hurting this much, I certainly couldn't live through losing her again.
Firming my resolve, I said quietly, "I can't, Buff. If I stay, I'm gonna change things, and if I change things, that could be very of the bad. I mean, a lot's on the line with what we do. At least... at least in the future I remember, the world didn't end, and believe me, things got pretty close a couple of times. I have to go back."
I could tell she wasn't entirely convinced, but she let go of me and headed back to the library, so I guess that was the end of that. At least for now. With luck, I thought I'd be able to avoid a confrontation before we did whatever magical whammy we needed to send me back.
I was mostly right.
* * *
The spell needed the brain of a particular kind of demon. I can't exactly remember what this kind of demon was called. I call it a whozit demon. Of course, I call a lot of demons that.
It was under one of the many abandoned factories in Sunnydale. You know, you'd think that, one of these days, all those new companies would realize there was a _reason_ all the factories got abandoned. I can't remember the last time a factory stayed up and running more than a couple of months.
Anyway, I was the one who found it. It stood about seven feet tall with pebbled black skin and glowing red eyes. Oh yeah, we can't forget any of its four arms. Or the nasty, six-inch claws it had on the fingers on the hands at the ends of those arms.
To my credit, I didn't scream and run like a girl _or_ charge in to get my ass handed to me. I made a tactical withdrawal and called for reinforcements.
Okay, so I did scream and run like a girl. Can you blame me?
"BUFFY! I FOUND IT!"
And wouldn't ya know it? Buffy was nowhere in sight. Deadboy, on the other hand, popped up out of nowhere and nearly gave me a heart attack. I didn't even know he was with us. He charged the demon with a big honking battle axe. Or was that a halberd? Oh, wait. It was a great axe.
Suddenly, the machete I carried seemed even more inadequate.
Anyway, I stood there like an idiot instead of running for my life like I should have been doing. What? _I_ didn't stand a chance against something like that! Hyena possession and soldiery pseudo training aside, I'm still just a regular guy, y'know. If I had that rocket launcher, I might have given it a shot, but I didn't. Have it, I mean. The rocket launcher.
Angel looked back and saw me standing there. "Go! Get! Buffy!" he yelled when he could catch his breath while dodging claw swipes.
And why was he breathing so hard? You'd think two hundred years would be long enough for him to shake the habit. I guess it's from trying to blend in among humans.
Anyway, that brought me back to my senses, and I ran. It didn't take me long to round up the gang.
We really need cell phones. Or maybe telepathy. Yeah, telepathy might work. Cell phones would probably break the moment some big nasty clobbered us.
But I digress.
When we all got back, Deadboy was still fighting the whozit demon, and Buffy jumped into the fray while the rest of us did the usual "hang back and pray" routine.
Buffy's chosen weapon that night was a Roman short sword. It was deceptively small and sharp enough to cut through nearly anything even without Slayer strength behind it. All in all, it was a good choice, though I'd have preferred something with a bit more reach.
Of course, when Buffy got knocked on her ass, my chivalric urges got the better of me, and I charged into the fight. I guess the experience from the nearly two extra years I had counted, since I actually scored a couple of solid hits before it backhanded me into unconsciousness.
* * *
When I woke up again, the gang had already taken out the demon and harvested it for parts and lugged me back to the library.
"Hey," I said groggily.
And Will was immediately fussing over me. "Xander, are you all right? How do you feel?"
"Yeah, Wills, I'm fine. Not my first concussion."
Then again, now that I think about it, maybe it was, thanks to the time loopy thing. I'm not sure. Whatever.
"So, we got everything we need, Giles?" I asked.
So we got around to setting everything up, me still avoiding Willow like the plague, and by the time everything was ready, I stood in a little magical symbol drawn on the floor, and Willow had this incredibly hurt look on her face. Buffy was glaring at me.
Glares can say a lot, and there was no mistaking the meaning of Buffy's glare when her gaze flicked over to Will.
"Wait," I croaked out, just as Giles was about to begin. He looked at me curiously, and I licked my suddenly dry lips and said, "There's something I have to say before you send me back."
"Xander..." Giles began, a lecture on the tip of his tongue.
"No, not about the future, Giles, but I have to do this." I stepped out of the circle and looked at Willow. "Willow, I have to say..." My voice caught in my throat, but I pushed on, "I'm sorry. For everything. You'll understand later."
That was all I had intended to say. It really was, but the rest just spilled out, "I love you, Willow. I always have, and I probably always will. I was just too dense to realize it, and... and..."
That's pretty much when I lost it and kissed her, and you know what? It was even better than I remember from the Fluke. Maybe because there was no guilt this time, because this time, it was just us. No Oz, no Cordy. Just us. Me and Willow. Willow and me. Just like it was years ago, before we met Jesse.
In any case, after that dramatic display, Buffy shot me an approving grin as I stepped back into the circle. With a cough that I still suspect hid a grin, Giles cast the spell that would send me back, and everything went black...
* * *
Well, folks, what do you think?
Next up in Part One! Xander finishes his narration in a world that is not his own