Chapter Ten aka Sunnydale Interlude
Xander Season One
Warrick was starting to believe the world itself was trying to tell him something, and that something was that he shouldn't have come to Sunnydale.
He'd left Las Vegas just before dawn, but hadn't reached Sunnydale until night was falling. The first setback appeared just after he'd left Clark County, there had been a major pile-up on the freeway which had delayed him for several hours. Then when he was an hour away from Sunnydale he'd come across another accident, not as major but still causing a delay.
He had finally made it to Sunnydale, but just after passing the welcome to Sunnydale sign both of his front tires had blown.
If Warrick believed in such things he would have considered all this a bad omen and high-tailed it back to Las Vegas, but Warrick honestly didn't really believe in such things. So, he pulled out his cell phone and called information. After which he called a local company for a tow. Now all he could do was wait for the tow-truck.
Absently, Warrick realized that this was his official cell phone, which since he was no longer a crime scene investigator meant he would have to turn this one in and buy his own, which he would do when he returned to Las Vegas. It was a shame, because he really liked this phone.
Warrick looked down at his flat tires, and a strong feeling of foreboding washed over him. Off in the distance a canine began to howl at the moon, which was bright and full in the sky. A fact which Warrick was thankful for since without it he would be in almost total darkness.
A moment later, Warrick realized nature was calling. There wasn't anyone around, still Warrick walked around to use his car as a shield. He finished his business, but when he turned to walk back around the car the hair on the back of his neck rose.
He was being watched, but he looked all around and couldn't see anyone or anything. Of course, since this was Sunnydale it meant that even if he couldn't see it there was probably something there, just outside his field of vision watching and waiting. But for what?
Warrick almost screamed when he heard a branch snap behind him.
He spun around, and briefly he caught sight of what had to be the biggest dog, or animal, that he'd ever seen before said animal plowed into him taking them both to the ground.
Warrick threw his arm in front of his face to protect himself, and did scream when he felt the mighty jaws tear into his flesh. Warrick thought he saw light flashing beyond his closed eyes, and then suddenly the beast released him.
Slowly, Warrick opened his eyes, and to his relief the tow-truck was here, and it had been the lights of the truck that had startled the beast away.
"You okay, man?" the balding over-weight driver asked as he slowly approached.
Warrick supposed he should have been surprised, but wasn't when he saw that the driver was carrying a shot-gun and looking around as though he expected the beast to return at any moment.
"I think so," Warrick replied, and finally managed to get to his feet. His arm was throbbing, and surprise washed over him as he looked at his arm. Just under the elbow his arm was practically torn to shreds, and yet it wasn't hurting, though it was bleeding badly.
The driver caught sight of the wound.
"Let me get your car hooked up, and then I'll take you to the hospital."
Warrick opened his mouth to insist on going to the hospital first, but then realized the man probably didn't want to be out here alone, and after what had just happened Warrick couldn't blame him. So, Warrick did his best to bandage the wound while the other man got his vehicle ready for towing. ~ * ~ * ~
On Xander's second day in Sunnydale, he found himself sitting at a motel room kitchen table across from an angry Harry. Upon arriving in Sunnydale, Xander had managed to convince Harry into finding them a motel room rather than joining Xander in trying to find Buffy, Willow, and Giles, which had left Harry unhappy from pretty much the beginning. Of course, Xander had to give Harry credit, because he had managed to track Xander down, or at least track him to the house of Giles, though by that point they had all ready left for the Initiative.
Harry sheepishly admitted after that his tracking spell wouldn't work properly. So, he'd tried to reach Xander by cell phone, he had left Xander a voice mail, which Xander hadn't found until after waking up from the weird dream. The dream still left Xander puzzled, especially since the First Slayer seemed deeply unhappy that Xander wasn't stuck in the basement of his parents house. In the dream every time he'd leave one place for another she would put him in his parents basement.
Xander had hidden it, but right after waking from the dream, Xander had been struck with dread at the thought that the past year had been a dream and that he really was living in his parents basement simply having delusions of grandeur. Stranger still was that Catherine had a starring role in his dream, or rather she appeared, but acted as someone else. It hadn't hit Xander until waking up that while the imagine in the dream had looked like Catherine she'd acted like Anya. Upon reflection that thought scared him more than the idea of being trapped in his parents basement.
"I should have tried to find you," Xander admitted. "But there wasn't much time," he told Harry about the discs which indicated the plan was pretty much going down right then.
Xander looked across the table, and then looked down again. It was clear that Harry was still very angry. Which Xander could understand, but he was afraid that because of this Harry was going to get off to a bad start with his old friends. He actually wanted Harry, Willow, and Buffy to like each other, or at least not hate each other.
Thankfully, Harry seemed a bit calmer, and perhaps after Xander explained things the anger would vanished. Hopefully.
Xander took a deep breath, and proceeded to tell his story.
Finding Buffy, Willow, and Giles had been a bit of a chore, but Xander had finally found them on a sidewalk on the University of Sunnydale campus. Even from a distance Xander could see the tension between them and couldn't help but wonder what the hell had been going on in his absence.
After exchanging hugs with Buffy and Willow, they quickly told Xander what had caused the tension. Apparently, a chipped Spike was still a bad Spike. Somehow Spike had managed to drive a wedge between Buffy, Giles, and Willow. But more than that Spike was apparently working for the current big bad, which lead to Xander trying and failing to fake surprise over the idea that Spike would betray them, which had nicely broken the tense mood between friends.
He then talked about how the gang had moved things back to Giles' house where Warrick had been proved right when Xander made a smart remark which flicked a switch in Giles' brain, and so the plan was made. He even told Harry what Warrick hadn't seen, which was Adam, a military version of Frankenstein, which meant he was big, bad, mean, and flawed. Pretty much an unstoppable machine. When he'd first learned of Adam, Xander admitted that he'd started to believe that he'd come back to Sunnydale to simply to die with his friends.
Xander felt himself smile as he continued telling Harry the story.
Just before forcing the door open and storming the Initiative, Xander had landed at the bottom of an elevator shaft in between Buffy and Willow who were having a make-up fest. To his surprise, he'd been included and told by both of them that they'd missed him badly. The three of them had included Giles in the group hug when he'd finally made it to the bottom of the shaft.
After defeating Adam, and surviving the First Slayer, Xander was now ready to introduce his old friends to Harry. But considering Harry's current mood, Xander wasn't sure how well that would go.
Silence filled the room, and Xander thought about Buffy's new boyfriend.
At some point in the past year, Buffy had started dating one of the soldiers, and Xander wasn't sure what to make of Riley Finn the soldier boyfriend. They'd met briefly at Buffy's house after defeating Adam, and while he (Riley) seemed okay, perhaps a little confused, but okay, Xander still wasn't sure he liked him. However, Xander had decided to keep his thoughts on Riley to himself, after all he'd given Buffy more than enough crap about her last boyfriend, and at least Riley seemed to be totally human which gave him a leg up.
Finally, Xander gave Harry a quickie version about Riley, and only then because it was necessary to explain how they'd gotten into the compound in the first place. Thanks to Riley, Buffy had gotten clearance to the compound that hadn't been revoked, which was how they'd managed to get inside. Of course, all hell had broken loose after that, but finally the plan Giles had come up with went off without a hitch, and Warrick's nightmare vision had been averted.
Xander frowned. He hadn't told his old friends about that. Now he wasn't sure he should, though he knew he needed to tell them something, because he'd basically just let them assume that he'd finally returned home. Since Xander wasn't planning to stay, he knew he needed to tell them and soon, possibly because he'd practically fallen back into the group as though he'd never left, and that made Xander feel uncomfortable. Almost as though he were trying to wear old clothes that no longer fit properly. Trouble was, he wasn't sure how to break this news to them.
Harry sighed dramatically. "I get it, I really do, but you should have at least called. That's why we got these infernal things, right?" Harry asked holding up his cell phone.
"I honestly forgot," Xander replied sheepishly. "I'm sorry, you're right."
Harry grinned. "So, when am I going to meet them?"
"Tonight," Xander replied. "Giles just called me, there's a Scooby meeting."~ * ~ * ~
Xander could admit he was nervous as they approached the house of Giles. He'd purposely made sure they'd be arriving slightly late so they wouldn't end up having to go through this more than once.
He got to the door, and realized he wasn't sure what to do.
When Xander only stood looking at the door, he saw, out of the corner of his eye, that Harry was giving him a funny look. Xander chose to leave Harry's unasked question unanswered.
Should he simply go on inside or should he knock? Once upon a time Xander would never have considered knocking, but now Xander was pretty much a stranger in a strange land, so he knocked.
Giles seemed stunned when he'd opened the door.
"Hey guys," Xander said, and was pleased to see Willow and Buffy smile. Of course, he wasn't sure what to make of the two other people in Giles living room. He did remember Anya, but couldn't figure out why she was glaring at him. Sure they'd went to the Senior Prom together, but that had been the extent of their involvement.
However, there was a girl sitting next to Willow that Xander didn't know at all. She was very pretty, and she was smiling at him, which made him wonder if the group talked about him.
"You know Anya," Buffy said. "And this is Tara," Buffy hesitated, and Willow nodded her head. "Willow's girlfriend."
Xander knew his mouth was hanging open, and that he should close it, but he couldn't seem to make his brain let alone his muscles work.
Buffy chuckled, but Willow was frowning, and Xander realized if he didn't say something he was going to hurt her feelings.
"Sorry, Wills," Xander said after a moment. "I don't really know what to say, wasn't expecting this."
Willow grinned, and Tara smiled again.
"What happened...," Xander started to ask, then cut himself off. "I mean..."
"It's okay," Willow said. "Oz and I broke up. He left me... Well, his wolf got a bit out of control," Xander could tell there was more to the story, but wasn't going to press. If Willow wanted him to know the story she would tell him, perhaps when Tara wasn't around.
Willow sighed, and Xander watched as Tara reached out and took Willow's hand in hers.
"So he left. I know he didn't leave me exactly, but that's what it felt like," Willow said. "He came back recently, but by then I had moved on."
"And how did you end up with this lovely lady?" Xander asked, and was pleased to see Tara blush slightly.
"We met at a Wicca meeting," Willow said. "Bunch of blessed wanna-bes," she muttered, before looking up again.
"Tara was there, and she knew about the real stuff. We started hanging out, and... Well, one day I realized that I really liked her, and then I figured out that she really liked me, and the rest is history."
"Don't feel bad," Buffy said. "You took it better than I did."
"Oh?" Xander couldn't help himself.
"I didn't take it badly," Buffy back-tracked. "I was just thrown for a second, or ten."
"So, who's your new friend?" Willow asked.
"Guys," Xander said. "This is Harry. While I was in L.A. he was dropped in my lap."
"Literally?" Buffy asked.
So, Xander told them a short version, about Harry being from another reality, about a magical backlash, and then about how the two had become friends. He left out his career as a stripper, and the tales about the Las Vegas night-life, though Xander did plan to tell them about some of his adventures.
"So, why did it take you so long to come home?" Willow asked, and he was pretty sure even a deaf person wouldn't have missed the hurt in her voice.
Xander took a deep breath. He was going to have to tell them about some of his adventures. After a moment, Xander wondered why he was holding back. He wondered if it was because he was afraid they wouldn't believe him.
Giles and Buffy looked stunned by the time he finished, and Xander tried not to take offense. They might have simply been stunned by the whole baby vamp thing. After all, he had fought by their side for three years so they knew (or should) that he wasn't totally inept.
"So I knew I couldn't take off until I cleaned up the mess I'd..."
"We'd," Harry put in.
"...made," Xander finished.
"Have you? Cleaned up the mess?" Willow asked, and Xander knew now was the time to tell them that this was just a vacation for him. While he was planning to stay awhile, he was also planning to return to Las Vegas before the summer ended.
"I think so," Xander said, and Willow suddenly looked happy, and Xander almost remained silent. Almost.
"But I do plan to go back," and sure enough Willow looked crushed.
"I'm sorry, guys," Xander said quickly. "But I realized some time ago that Vegas was my home now, not Sunnydale."
Xander was pleased when after a moment Buffy nodded. She didn't look thrilled about it, but Xander could tell that she understood him. Giles looked relieved, which admittedly pissed Xander off just a little bit, but Willow stopped his reaction to Giles cold when she got up, glared at him then stormed out of the house.
Tara frowned at Willow's back, but stood up and followed her girlfriend.
"S-sorry," Tara said without turning. "It-It was n-nice m-meet-meeting you."
Despite everything, Xander almost smiled. Even as she was following her girlfriend out the door she tried to be polite.
Xander looked at the door for several moments, but finally decided against following Willow. He'd leave her be and let her calm down then try talking to her again. After all, on the way back, Xander had decided to stay in Sunnydale for a couple weeks, so he didn't have to handle everything tonight.
"We should talk," Buffy said. "Privately," she added with an apologetic look at Harry.
Xander nodded, and for a moment thought he would have to restrain Harry, but finally Harry gave a terse nod, and Xander followed Buffy out the door. Apparently, Harry had noted his reaction to Giles, and was going to take offense on Xander's behalf, but that didn't include Buffy, who's reaction Xander did understand to an extent. After all, Buffy was a super hero, but Giles was only human like Xander.
Once outside, Buffy opened her mouth then looked away.
Xander wondered what she was about to say. He wasn't worried, not exactly, but after Willow's reaction, Xander couldn't help but feel whatever Buffy was about to say wouldn't be good.
"You look good," Xander said, hoping to jump-start the conversation and get this (whatever this was) over with.
Buffy spun around, and for a moment Xander wondered if he should have simply waited for her to say what she needed to say. Then she smiled, and Xander felt some of the tension leave his body.
"So do you," she replied. "Though, as always, your sense of fashion leaves a little something to be desired."
Xander grinned. During his mad-rush to get to Sunnydale, he had taken a moment to throw on one of his older outfits. Not that he would ever be voted best dressed by anyone, but he no longer dressed quite as badly as he had in high school which was due more to his stripping career than anything else. A stripper did have to be aware of fashion, at least to a certain extent.
He wasn't sure why he was hiding his updated sense of style, but something had prompted him to try and look as much like he had when he'd left Sunnydale. Xander supposed it was because he wanted to look like the Xander they
remembered. Trying to go back to being that Xander was surprisingly harder than he'd expected.
While he still joked with an eye toward geek humor, he wasn't known by his new friends as Xan-man the funny man, and he was only now starting to realize how much certain things were expected of him by Buffy, Willow, and even Giles to an extent that wasn't expected of him by his new friends.
"I'm sorry," Buffy finally said, pulling Xander out of his thoughts with a massive jolt. He'd expected many things, but Buffy saying I'm sorry hadn't been one of those things.
"I realize now that I should have been a better friend," Buffy continued, and raised her hand when Xander opened his mouth to say something, which was probably a good thing since Xander had no idea what he would've said.
"I'm not saying this to try and convince you to stay. I went to L.A. once, and while there I asked Angel to look for you. Around Christmas he called me to tell me that he'd finally tracked you down, but by the time he got there you were all ready gone," Buffy said, and Xander realized that she was angry with herself about something.
"At first I was angry that you weren't here, that you hadn't come home. I had this mistaken idea that you belonged to me," Buffy looked embarrassed. "That I could do anything I wanted, and you would just accept it. And then came the guilt when I started to realize it was that attitude which no doubt played a large part in driving you away. I had no right to be angry at you, and I should have told you more often how... Well, how important you are to me, and how much I did-do care about you."
Xander was stunned. For a long time these were the words he'd longed to hear from her, but now that she was saying them, Xander wasn't sure he was feeling happy. He'd expected to at least feel satisfaction, but while he was feeling many things, satisfaction wasn't one of those things.
"I owe you my life, and...," Buffy paused, and Xander could see that she had tears in her eyes. "I didn't really know what to say, so instead I didn't say anything. Which might have been okay, but then after the way I behaved I really should have said something. I'm sorry I never said anything."
Xander pulled her into his arms, and the last traces of negative feelings he'd had melted away. He hadn't lied to Angel, he had all ready forgiven her, but he also knew that if she had said this years ago his old crush would have returned full-force. It wasn't that he didn't love her anymore, but he loved her differently, and at the moment he was feeling a tremendous amount of respect for her. Sure she made mistakes, but who didn't? And he had to give her points for trying to make up for them even if it wasn't necessary.
That meant it was his turn now.
"You know," Xander replied. "It wasn't all
your fault. I could have been more understanding about Angel, even after the whole Angelus thing," Xander paused. "I think I'm as much to blame for the shitty state of our friendship as you are."
Xander laughed, and realized it felt good. "Several months ago, I began to realize that I owed you one hell of an apology."
Buffy pulled away, and flashed a small smile. "You did, but in the end you weren't wrong. I mean look what happened with Angelus..."
"Which wasn't your fault, nor was it his," Xander said firmly, and he was surprised to realized that it honestly didn't hurt to admit that Angel was actually innocent in the whole Angelus ordeal. "I mean there were people out there who knew what was happening, but you weren't one of them, and neither was Angel. And surprisingly it doesn't kill me to admit that."
Buffy chuckled, then nodded. "I'm glad you came back, especially since you just saved my life, again."
Xander chuckled. "Hey, that's what I'm always here to do."
Buffy smiled, and they hugged again, and for the second time Xander was glad that he'd come back to Sunnydale.~ * ~ * ~
After the meeting broke up, Anya cornered Xander as they were leaving. In that moment, Xander hated Giles just a little bit, because once Giles realized that Harry was a magic user, he'd pulled Harry away to grill him about magic. Obviously, Xander could tell that Harry planned to tell Giles very little, which was good cause knowing Giles he'd freak if he knew Harry's full story.
Xander could admit he might be just a little bit biased here, but he was still smarting over Giles reaction to his announcement that he wasn't coming back to Sunnydale for good, which was why Xander had headed outside once the meeting broke up.
When Xander turned from closing the door Anya was standing in front of Xander with her hands on her hips. Xander almost groaned, because he just knew this was going to get ugly.
"Why weren't you here?" Anya demanded. "I came back, because I couldn't stop thinking about you, and you weren't here! We were supposed to have sex, and then I'd be over you."
Once again Xander's mouth was open, and he couldn't manage to get control of himself.
Then Xander started to get angry. Just who the hell does she think she is?
While there was a bluntness to her that he could appreciate that didn't give her any right to demand things of him.
Anya was tapping her foot impatiently, and he knew she was expecting a reply. Trouble was, Xander had no idea how to respond. If he went with anger things would get ugly, so Xander tried to calm himself.
"I'm sorry," Xander said, and barely stopped it from being a question. "But once I left, I just found myself in no great hurry to come back, and then one thing lead to another..."
"That's okay," she said, and she seemed less angry herself now. "You're here, we can have sex now."
Xander felt his mouth drop open again.
"Um," Xander stammered, while Anya waited impatiently.
"I don't know what to say," Xander finally managed.
"Don't say anything," Anya instructed. "We'll have sex, then I'll be over you, and we can both move on with our lives."
"Anya, it doesn't work that way," Xander replied softly.
"Are you saying you don't want to have sex with me?" Anya asked, and Xander knew he was in deep shit, because that was exactly what he was trying to say, but it seemed that wasn't what she wanted to hear.
Xander's brain froze. Since when did he turn down sex with a beautiful woman? Oh, right, when it wasn't just sex. No, what Anya was wanting was more than sex, even if she herself didn't realize it. And Xander just wasn't ready for that, or maybe he just wasn't ready for that with Anya.
It was funny, though, because in another place and time, Xander knew he'd all ready have their clothes off and her pressed against the wall.
The question was how to handle this without making her angry, and without having sex with her, because Xander was fairly certain she'd put the high in high-maintenance. Plus he suspected if he did have sex with her she'd never leave him alone.
"You do understand that I'm not planning to stay in Sunnydale?" Xander pointed out. He wasn't sure this would work, but if Anya was trying to start a relationship with him this should work. Of course, even if he planned to stay he knew he wouldn't want to be in a relationship with her. While she was was a very good looking woman, maybe not as hot as Catherine, but certainly attractive in her own right, Xander did not want to spend the rest of his life listening to her stories of vengeance against men. Her stories had been a real downer on prom night, not that he'd told her that.Hmm, maybe I should.
"Of course," Anya replied. "That makes it perfect. We'll have sex, then I'll be free to see if this thing I've got going with Giles is leading anywhere. Which I can't do until I get over you!"
Xander almost swallowed his tongue. Then a thought hit him, so he opened his mouth.
"Does Giles know there's a thing?"
"Of course," she snapped, but there was just a hint of doubt in her eyes. "He's just afraid to make a move, because he knows I'm still hung up on you," Anya said, and nodded, more to herself than Xander.
For a moment, Xander was almost tempted to just have sex with her. If she really did have a thing with, or most likely for Giles, it might mean that she wouldn't latch on to him.
With sudden clarity, Xander realized that Giles had no idea that there was a thing going on between him and Anya, which meant having sex with Anya was a risk Xander simply wasn't willing to take. Xander found himself almost feeling sorry for Giles. Almost.
Mostly though, Xander was worrying about himself as Anya had grabbed his arm and was trying to pull him down the street. It was strange, Xander liked sex, and Xander hadn't had sex in almost a month, but surprisingly he felt no real desire to have sex with Anya.
"You know," Xander said suddenly feeling inspired. "It isn't a good idea to began a new relationship by having sex with someone else."
Mercifully, Anya stopped tugging on him, she didn't let go of his arm, but at least she was no longer pulling, and there was a thoughtful look on her face.
Xander held his breath.
"But I have to be able to announce that I'm over you," she said, and there was a bit of a whine in her voice, which wasn't at all sexy.
Xander took a deep breath, and was hit with a new idea. It was a long-shot, but it could work.
"Look, I'm involved with someone else," it was a lie, but hopefully Anya wouldn't know him well enough to realize that. "Back in Vegas."
"Really?" She sounded suspicious. "Why didn't you tell the others?"
"There was no reason to," Xander replied easily. "I wouldn't be telling you either, but you've forced my hand."
Some of the suspicion left her face, and before anything else could be said, Xander heard a familiar voice calling his name. He looked toward the sound and realized that Warrick was pulling up beside them.
"Warrick," Xander said, and tried to not to let himself look as relieved as he felt.
"What are you doing here?"
Warrick smiled. "Well, I came to help, but I'm guessing I missed the big battle since not only was I delayed in getting here, but I spent last night and most of today in the hospital."
Warrick shook his head. "I'll tell you later."
Xander nodded. "And, yeah, big battle over now."
"Catherine also asked me to make sure you made it home in one piece," Warrick said, and Xander could have kissed him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Anya look intently at Warrick. Finally, she nodded and walked away, when Xander looked back Warrick was watching Anya walk away with confusion in his eyes.
"Your timing doesn't suck, bro," Xander said as he looked back just in time to see Anya disappear around a corner.
"You were looking a bit panicked," Warrick replied, then grinned. "Never known you to look that worried while talking to a pretty woman."
Xander realized that was actually true. Xander had gotten rather good with women since leaving Sunnydale.Have I really changed that much?
The answer was surprisingly yes.
"Well, except Cordelia, but I'd call that extenuating circumstances."
"She, Anya, thought she needed to have sex with me to get over me," Xander said, and knew the disbelief was clear in his voice. "I finally told her that I was involved with someone in Vegas."
Warrick laughed. "And I mentioned Catherine."
Xander smiled. "And I could kiss you for that."
"I'll take a rain-check," Warrick replied. "So, where's Harry?"
Xander turned to point out Giles' house, and realized that Anya had pulled him some distance away from the house.
"Back at the house I just got dragged away from," Xander said, and walked around to get in the car. "We'll go back, pick him up, and head for the hotel."
"Then Vegas?" Warrick asked, and there was something in his voice that Xander couldn't identify.
Xander shook his head. "The Buffster and me had a chat."
"I sense a but," Warrick prompted.
Willow isn't happy with me right now, and I'd like to try and make things right with her before heading home."
Warrick eased the vehicle up to the sidewalk, and Xander realized that Warrick was probably in a hurry to get back because of his job.
"You can go on back, though," Xander said. "I don't intend to stay forever."
Warrick smiled. "If you're worried about my job, don't. I don't have one anymore."
"Lets get Harry, then I'll only have to explain everything once."
Xander nodded, and was almost relieved to see Harry coming out the front door. Xander just wasn't ready to face Giles again. It was hard realizing that the man he'd thought of as an almost father hadn't really respected him anymore than his real father had. ~ * ~ * ~
Sequel coming soon(ish)
Based on the reviews, I decided to note that yes there will be a sequel, I've all ready started working on it.