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Thicker Than Water

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Summary: Hank Landry has only just began to repair his relationship with his daughter. An unexpected letter tells him that may not be the hardest relationship he has to work on.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Xander-Centered > Theme: Xander's Real FamilyMidknightJFR1536,51437826,40914 Sep 0810 Dec 08No

Returning from Afar

Disclaimer: I'm poor. I own nothing

Notes: This is out later than I planned but I ended up rewriting it three times before I had something I was happy with. The next update probably won't be until January.

People were giving him a wide berth as he walked through Hopkins International. Xander barely noticed. He was used to people giving him his space these days. It was something most people did without realising when they came across a tall, reasonably built, one-eyed man. The fact that he radiated an air of ‘stay the hell away from me’ probably helped too.

It most likely would have been different if he still wore his bright Hawaiian shirts, or even his trademark goofy grin. He just hadn’t been in the mood for that much lately.

Nobody talked about Sunnydale anymore. It was like when they were kids and a classmate died or ‘disappeared’. Like they never existed to begin with. Xander could never bring himself to feel that way though. Even if nobody wanted to talk about them Xander always remembered them. Every name and every face; he remembered. He remembered Jesse.

Most of their lives it had been Willow, Jesse and him: the three musketeers. They did everything together, shared everything. At least until Darla vamped Jesse.

He had only just found out about vampires, about the real world underneath what everyone thought was the real world, and something like this happened. A personal blow enough to break or motivate him. He chose motivate, but it hadn’t been easy.

After Jesse was dust the trend continued and everybody followed the unwritten rule; nobody would talk about him. Sure Willow came to him for comfort, but only at first. In no time at all even she never mentioned his name, even when talking about their childhood.

That was part of the problem. She came to him for comfort. But damn it he needed to talk about it! It was his stake that pierced Jesse’s heart. Yes he was pushed onto the stake, but it was still his stake being held in his shaking hands. Logically he knew that Jesse was already gone but in his heart he still felt like he killed his best friend.

He needed help through that, to decide whether to fight or walk away and pretend everything was all right, but nobody was there. It was his father of all people that gave him the strength to go on.

It was only a couple days after Jesse’s death that his father caught him in his bedroom with silent tears rolling down his face. Well Tony Harris was not one to put up with what he considered sissy behaviour in his house. It only served to anger Xander but what could he say? He killed his friend but the body turned to dust?

The more his father had gone at it the angrier Xander had gotten. It was the first time he hit back. That’s not to say his father hit him all the time, just that he had more that a few ‘accidents’ growing up. From that day on Xander made a conscious decision not to be a victim anymore. To anyone or anything.

He thanked Jesse for that every time he closed his eyes.

Outwardly Hank Landry appeared the stalwart military man as he entered his office. Internally he was weary.

It hadn’t exactly been a good day. Hell, not even a good month.

Two of Earth’s Daedalus class ships, ten Ha’taks from the Free Jaffa and three from the Lucian Alliance, one O’Neall class ship from the Asgard; one would think nothing could stand against such a fleet. Yet at the battle for the supergate a mere four Ori motherships did just that. It only took four ships to decimate them.

The Ori had a foothold in this Galaxy, their fleet growing by the hour. Chulak was one of the first worlds to fall in their conquest.

At least SG-1 and Vala Mal Doran were safely back at the SGC. A small victory to be sure but at this point Hank would take what he could get.

As he sat behind his desk his mind wondered to where it usually did when he was alone. Alexander. Another reason for his weariness.

His first instinct when he found out Alexander was alive was to jump on the next plane to Africa and track him down. He couldn’t do that. Not with the mounting Ori situation.

That’s not to say he did nothing. Hank had been a military man all his life and been all over the world carrying out his duties. He knew people, some of whom owed him favours.

He started calling them in.

That was six months ago. You would think a twenty-three year old Californian with an eye patch would be easier to track down in Africa.

All he really knew for sure was that Alexander was alive, he moved around a lot, and he did a great deal of charity work in the villages and towns he passed through.

Hank pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed before clearing his screen saver. A minute later his eyes widened at what he read.

Maybe that wasn’t all he knew after all. Alexander wasn’t in Africa anymore. He was in Cleveland.

A small, rotund man jostled Xander as he was reaching for his bags in baggage claim. The man had a scowl etched on his face going on about delays and how he was an important man with important things to do and the like. Xander just shook his head and waited patiently for his bags to come back around the conveyor. The personal space thing didn’t work all the time.

Eventually his bags came around again and he grabbed them. He turned and headed for the exit at a leisurely pace. There was no hurry since there would be nobody waiting for him. All he had said when he called was that he was coming to Cleveland, he hadn’t said when. That was a week ago.

As he walked through the crowd he wondered who would be there to great him when he arrived. After Sunnydale they had pretty much scattered.

It bothered Xander how little it bothered everyone else when Sunndale collapsed. Everyone just seemed to take the destruction of a Hellmouth as a victory and move on. He couldn’t do that.

Sunnydale was more than just a place to him. He had lived there his whole life and couldn’t have stayed away even if he tried. It was where he met his best friends and the love of his life. It was where he found something worth living for, something worth fighting for. It was more than just a place, it was a part of him.

He was surprised Willow wasn’t more upset. She had been there with him through it all. It was her home too. He supposed she at least had Kennedy to help her through it. As much as he disapproved of the relationship, thought it was unhealthy the way she jumped into the arms of another woman when he knew she wasn’t even close to being over Tara yet, at least she had somebody. He didn’t.

It was Andrew, of all people, who showed more concern for him over Anya’s death than anyone else. He got the cursory condolences from the others but nobody really tried to help him deal. More concern was shown to how Buffy was dealing with Spike’s death.

Xander had to bite down the bitter taste that brought up. They showed more remorse over the death of someone who had been unreliable both when he didn’t and when he did have a soul than over someone who had been with them through so much over the years.

The double standard didn’t really surprise him though; it just bothered him. When they found out Anya had gotten her demonic powers back Buffy had been gung-ho about stopping Anya, yet when The First proved it could control an already unstable and dangerous Spike she was more than willing to keep him around.

He knew the reason for it, even if he didn’t like it. He was ‘the one who sees’. The one who offers the comfort, gives the pep talks that give them the strength to go on. It never occurred to anyone that he may be the one who needed the pep talk.

All too soon plans had to be made, and there just wasn’t time for mourning anymore.

Giles, Robin and Faith took most of the newly awakened Slayers to the Cleveland Hellmouth. Andrew tagged along because… well, it’s not like he had anywhere else to go. They had managed a lot in the last six months, or so he gathered from his weekly check in calls with Giles. Apparently they got a decent building to work and live out of, not to mention train the new girls to protect the Hellmouth. Giles was even close to finding the rest of the Old Council’s monetary assets last they talked. It had been slow going but he had been optimistic.

The rest of them had their work cut out for them too though. Potentials all over the world had just become Slayers, and somebody had to find them before the other side did.

It was fortunate that, unlike what he had first thought, not all the Watchers were killed by The First, mostly just the upper echelon and those with potentials in their care. Many of those still alive were more than willing to help out and rebuild, though some took things as a sign it was time to retire. Europe and Asia in particular were well covered.

One part of the world that had virtually no Watcher presence at all was Africa. Xander was quick to volunteer. Lots of places to get lost, and that’s just what he needed. He had lost a home, an eye, a love and his closest friendships needed serious time put into repairing the damage done to them over the last few years. If they could be repaired at all.

The thing was he needed to heal himself before healing anything else. He knew if he stayed around the others he’d break sooner rather than later.

Naturally the objections came almost before the words were out of his mouth.

There was a time, not so long ago, he would have backed down. Instead he slipped out, bought a ticket and went anyways.

It was a month before he called anyone. Xander didn’t even know that Giles knew language like that.

In the end, when the ranting ended, he apologized for worrying everyone and for the way he left. From the silence he suspected the older man noted that he didn’t apologize for actually leaving but he said nothing of it. Xander was thankful for that.

He openly admitted to Giles that he should have contacted him as soon as he arrived, if only for a plan of action. He didn’t really have anything specific in mind when his plane first landed on the African continent. Instead Xander pretty much wandered aimlessly, never staying in the same town, yet alone a single country, for very long.

Occasionally he would hear rumours that could be about Slayers or demons and would follow them as far as he could, often to remote locations. Whenever finding a Slayer he would give her the low down on things, sometimes through a translator if one was available. Usually there wasn’t one and he had to muddle his way through. Africa has over two thousand languages, and it’s not like he could learn them all. Or even one really. Xander was able to pick up a little Arabic and Swahili, along with bits and pieces of a handful of regional dialects he didn’t know the name of. That helped some.

Once he got communication going he offered the girls the Cleveland school as a training ground. Most turned the offer down, which didn’t surprise him, and he didn’t press the issue. He wasn’t going to force these girls into anything. That was no way to gain their trust. Still, he always left them more prepared than when he arrived and called in their location so a Watcher could be sent to check in later.

As good as he knew the work he was doing was it still did nothing to help him heal. If anything, seeing the poverty and war, the hungry and the sick, broke his heart more than ever.

It wasn’t until his fourth week in Africa, the day before he called Giles, that things changed for him. Xander came across a charity group building shelter and a small medical centre in a village that had been hit hard by a local warlord. From that day on he spent as much time swinging a hammer and passing out food as he did searching for Slayers.

A biting cold brought Xander out of his thoughts as he passed through the automatic doors, his light jacket doing little against a Cleveland winter. Having spent his entire life in Sunnydale he had never felt such cold before. He ignored it as best he could as he went to get a cab.

“Xander!” someone called behind him, and Xander tensed at the sound of feet rapidly hitting pavement that accompanied it. He turned on instinct to defend himself from his attacker. It was only as he placed the voice that he hid the motion by opening his arms to welcome the brunette missile.

“Hey, Dawnie,” he said as he wrapped the girl in a warm hug. As Dawn pulled back Xander forced his patented jovial grin on his face. “Miss me?”

Dawn smiled up at him. “You have no idea. I’m glad we caught you. Traffic was worse than I thought and I didn’t think we’d make in time.”


“She means me, Boytoy.” Xander looked up to see Faith coming towards them, the seductive sway of her hips and tight leather pants earning her more than a few admiring looks, mostly on her backside.

“Not that I don’t appreciate this, but what are you two doing here? I didn’t tell anyone I was coming today.”

“Short-stuff here,” Faith said jerking her thumb towards Dawn. “Gave Red a call. Only so many flights from Cairo to Cleveland. Apparently it didn’t take much to find out which you bought a ticket for.”

Faith grinned. “You should have seen Little D when we hit that traffic jam. Cursing up a storm, giving everyone the finger, it was a riot.” She tapped her chin in mock thoughtfulness. “I don’t think the nuns in that bus appreciated it though.”

Dawn’s face went beet red. “I wasn’t that bad.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” Faith told her before turning back on Xander. “Anyway Dawnie was having a breakdown and I told her to relax, we’d be there in plenty of time. Who’d have thought you’d get the only flight that’s on time.”

“You didn’t have to go through all that trouble,” Xander said as he followed them through the parking lot.

“I’ve barely even been able to talk to you lately,” Dawn told him as she came to a stop next to a blue Pontiac Sunfire. “I’m not wasting a second of Xander-time”

Xander pulled the girl into a hug. “I missed you too.”

“Shotgun!” Faith called suddenly, grinning at them over the car.

“Okay, but I get the shiny axe this time. I like the shiny.”

Faith rolled her eyes before getting into the passenger seat. Xander and Dawn took their cue and got in the car as well.

“Time to get you home,” Dawn said after she turned the key.

As the car pulled out Xander’s forced grin began to waver. The offhand comment sent his mind back to Sunnydale. It was hell but it was still his home. He missed it.

Jailik was getting annoyed. The console before him reflected the scowl on his reptilian features back at him.

“Alright,” a voice came over the intercom. “That’s the next load. Come and help me sort out the catch.”

It was only after a few steadying breaths that Jailik stood.

How long ago had it been since he had let his brother talk him into this? I need your help Jailik. It’s the perfect plan Jailik. We’ll be rich in no time Jailik.

He really should have known better. Daijin always had one ‘get rich quick’ scheme or another going on. If nothing had even remotely worked out so far, why had he thought this would be different?

Sure, salvage had seemed like a good idea in theory. There was always one battle or another going on, especially in recent years. First there was the fall of the System Lords and the battles that preceded that, then that crap with the Replicators and now the Ori, not to mention all the other skirmishes going on. Every time the galactic threat gets taken down and peace seems in reach someone else comes in and causes trouble.

In other words business should have been good. It wasn’t.

They only had one small cargo ship and virtually nonexistent contacts. The larger operations always seemed to beat them to the punch and all they were left with were table scraps. They were losing money faster than they were making it, which, no matter the platitudes his brother gave him, bothered Jailik immensely. His family may like to eat some time this month after all.

That is what led them here, one last try before he washed his hands of it all. Daijin had come to him all excited. Apparently a contact (when he actually made one Jailik may never know) had given them the coordinates to where a massive ship supposedly disappeared off sensors during the Replicators’ attack on the galaxy.

What they found when they got there was a whole lot of nothing.

Oh, sure, they detected lots of metal in the area but it didn’t matter. So far they only found these small useless metallic blocks by the barrel.

Jailik’s scowl deepened when he walked into the hold only to see Daijin enthusiastically piling more of those damned blocks into barrels. He took a moment to calm himself before he went over to help. The quicker they got this done the quicker he could go home. Maybe he could even make his youngest child’s hatchday.

“Jailik! Come over here quick!” Daijin exclaimed in that annoyingly cheerful voice of his. “You have to see this!”

Mentally counting to ten Jailik went over to see what his brother was so excited about. What he saw was definitely not what he was expecting, but it still didn’t impress him much.

“It’s just a human female,” he told his brother patiently as he looked into the small area Daijin had been clearing. It revealed the body of a blonde woman in strange grey clothing. “A dead human female at that. Admittedly remarkably preserved, but still just a dead body.”

“Don’t you see, Jailik? If there is a body then there must have been a ship. There must be something useful here som-AKK!” Daijin gargled out as blood poured out of his mouth and he stared disbelievingly at the blade in his chest. His eyes followed the blade down an arm it seemed to grow out of until he finally stared into the now open eyes of the ‘dead’ human female.

Jailik could only watch in horror as the blade was pulled out, morphing back into a hand, and his brother fell lifelessly to the ground. He hurriedly backed away as the woman stood and turned to him. He moved too fast apparently and he lost his footing on the blocks littering the floor of the cargo hold.

With a casual grace the woman approached him, morphing her arm again as she moved. The last thing Jailik saw was the terror on his own face reflected in the metal of her blade.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Thicker Than Water" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 10 Dec 08.

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