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“The First got an alien to clone and replace the real Xander,” Buffy stated confused. “Why?”
“Because he’s your heart,” Clone Xander answered.
“I don’t understand,” Buffy continued as she sat down in a nearby chair. Spike hovered over her and placed his hand on her shoulder, and she placed her hand on his and grasped it and pulled it close to her heart.
“The First needed to separate the Scoobies. Divide and conquer, right?” Xander turned his head to the side for a moment and stared and nothing before turning back and resting his forehead in his hand and rubbing. “The First knew we were stronger together.”
“We?” Willow asked as she came closer and stood behind Buffy, next to Spike.
“Fine. The Scoobies,” Xander said looking up and staring into Willow’s eyes. “I do have Xander’s memories, OK? I remember being him even though I know I’m not.”
“Aliens?” Dawn asked coming over and actually sitting next to Xander, somehow feeling safe regardless of what exactly this Xander was. Connor followed her and stayed nearby, just in case.
“They’re called the Asgard. They’re from another galaxy, they’ve been cloning themselves for a long time and now they have problems. It’s like that episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation, where they cloned themselves so many time that the original copy data got corrupt and they couldn’t copy anymore. The First appeared before their only mad scientist, who apparently is known for kidnapping humans in the attempt to fix the mistake. Don’t know how he thought humans would be the miracle answer though. He’d kidnap them and replace them with a clone that would only live a week.”
“But you’ve been around for over a year,” Angel said, stating the obvious. He’d just been watching the actions going on around him. His lack of plans for the future leaving him feeling a bit lost.
“The First went to a great deal of trouble to make me. I honestly didn’t even know I was a clone until Willow went to get the truth potion,” Xander shook his head. “I… I’m like a computer program, I’ve been programmed to believe I am Xander 1.0, unless circumstances come about where I have to be Xander 2.0 to deal with it.”
“And what, exactly, are you programmed to do?” Willow asked surprised that Xander, in any form, would use a computer analogy, no matter how simple it was.
“Keep the Scoobies apart and do as much good as possible in the hopes of throwing the balance out of whack so the First can get a new foothold. I haven’t hurt anyone.”
“I’m not following that thing about computers,” Buffy said. She really wasn’t one for computer analogies.
Dawn frowned as she tried her own analogy, “It’s like two TV shows being on at the same time. They’re almost the same, but you like one and not the other. The one show is great, good acting and stuff like that, while the other one is a knock off, it’s got okay acting but the main character sometimes acts differently than the main character on the first show. The truth potion was like a remote, using it caused the channel to change to the other show.”
“OK, I get that,” Buffy said with a frown before turning to Xander. “What did you do to keep us apart?”
Xander rolled his eyes and gave a put upon sigh, “Really Buffy, did you think loosing his eye was enough of a cause for Xander 1.0 to turn on you? He stuck by you through everything, sure this was the first permanent thing to happen to him, but after that speech he gave the potentials does that really sound like him?”
Spike grimaced as Buffy’s grasp on is hand tightened, a lot.
“When exactly did you replace Xander?” Willow asked before Buffy could act on how upset she was getting. Willow was feeling guilty because she turned on Buffy without any outside interference.
“That night in the hospital, when you had to take a bathroom break. Creating me only took a few minutes with all the settings ready.”
“Where is the real Xander?” asked Angel as he decided that was what was important right now. Yeah the other information was important but it was all information that could wait after verifying he hadn’t hurt anyone, but with finding the real Xander, even after a year, every second counted.
“I don’t know,” Xander 2.0 answered with a shrug. At the glares sent his way by Willow and Buffy he sat back against the couch and used one of his hands to massage the back of his neck. “I really don’t. If I had to guess, he’s probably somewhere in outer space. On either Loki’s ship or in one of his labs, but I don’t know where they are. The First only really told me what I needed to know. I doubt he’s dead. Loki is insane, not evil.”
“Is he really the key to solving their problems?” Dawn asked curious.
“I don’t know. He must be something if he hasn’t been returned. If the problem had been solved the other Asgard would have found out about him and returned Xander 1.0.”
“Is there anything you know of that could help us locate the real Xander?” Willow asked quietly. The faint hope in her voice speaking volumes to those gathered.
“If you could contact the Asgard they’d probably help look for him. I can’t think of any other way to find him.”
“We’ll work on that then,” Angel said softly. At the confused looks cast his way he explained, “We don’t have anything much to do here in L.A., for awhile anyway, we can start the search for locating Xander and the Asgard. Dawn told me you all were considering building a branch of the Council here in L.A. and I’m offering this hotel. I think it’s safe to assume that Connor can stay with you all, if he likes.”
Connor nodded with a glance at Dawn who blushed when she noticed. Angel smiled sadly, thinking about how it hadn’t been that long ago that Connor had been a baby, he hadn’t really gotten any chance to prepare himself for the man Connor was already becoming.
Buffy and Willow exchanged looks before coming to a decision. Buffy turned to Angel, “We accept. Thank you Angel.” Buffy turned to look up at Spike who smiled down at her. “I think I’ll stay here for now, I’m not really affiliated with any of the branches so I’m free and I think Dawn knows enough to get us started turning this into a branch. If she’s willing that is,” Buffy said with a smirk as Dawn turned away from Connor.
Dawn smiled as she realized her sister was finally accepting the fact that she was growing up and nodded.
“Then there is only one problem,” Kennedy said speaking up as she moved closer to Willow. “And that’s what we’re going to do with him,” Kennedy said pointing towards Xander 2.0.End – Chapter 4REVIEWS INSPIRE ME!
Another cliffhanger! They just keep happening…