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The group was far from silent as Willow drove them to the hotel. Erin and Kennedy had bonded over old horror movies that they found funny. Willow smiled as she thought back to how she had bonded with Buffy and Xander the same way. Willow blinked her eyes to hold back tears as she thought about Xander. How could she not have noticed it wasn’t him? She needed to save Xander, she just had to.
Oz watched on concerned. He knew Willow well and knew what she was going through must have hurt a lot. That Xander was cloned was a surprise to him, but not a shock. Things just happened to him. At least Xander kept him in the loop about what was going on in Sunnydale, at least he had after Oz’s encounter with the Initiative… and Tara. Oz had been on his way to Sunnydale when it sank, he’d almost lost control of his wolf before he’d received the e-mail from Xander letting him know they were safe in L.A. and… a summary of what had happened.
Erin reached out and took Oz’s hand as she and Kennedy continued their conversation. Erin and Oz smiled at each other. Oz had never told Xander about Erin, beyond that he had met and was seeing a werewolf. So this should be a surprise when they made it the new branch of the Council. Oz, showing his romantic side, reached their joined hands up to kiss her hand.
“We’re here,” Willow called out as she pulled into the hotel parking.
Erin and Kennedy went silent as they all piled out of the car and headed into the building. Willow led the way past various employees who were working on fixing up all the building. Some slayers were nearby helping with the heavy lifting. They were all pretty excited about being in L.A. plus here they’d all get private rooms with bathrooms. Willow finally stopped in front of a room. As they opened the door they could hear Xander talking.
“So if you knock out this wall the pipes can be moved here to deal with…” Xander’s voice trailed off as he caught sight at the people in the doorway. Gunn and the head construction guy looked up from the blueprints to look at what was distracting Xander.
Gunn, seeing the confusion in front of him explained, “Xander here might be a clone but he is an experienced construction worker who knows how to deal with slayers so he’s helping to figure out what to do to make the building a perfect branch.”
“So you’re the clone?” Erin asked coming forward to look at him more closely.
“Yeah… I’m Xander 2.0, far better than the original,” Xander confirmed as the strange woman looked at him very closely, studying him.
“Okay,” Gunn said as he rolled up the blueprints. They hadn’t been expecting Willow back so soon with help, convincing the doctor was supposed to be a hard thing, something that would take awhile. “Well… We’re going to go show what we’ve got figured out to the crew.” Gunn grabbed construction guy and pulled him out of the room.
Erin continued on as if he hadn’t been there at all, “How are you ‘better’?”
Oz looked at Willow with a smile and explained, “Scientist mode, nothing distracts her.”
“I don’t actually know,” Xander 2.0 said. “I know there are some differences between myself and the original. I think all the demonic influences on him aren’t here.”
“Demonic influences?” Erin asked pulling out a small notebook to take notes on.
“Xander had minor side effects from being possessed and stuff. Like when he was on the swim team. He might not have turned into a fish monster like the others, but he could still stay under water longer than most normal humans, I can’t do that.”
“So basically, physically, you should be Xander if he hadn’t known about the supernatural?”
“I guess so.”
“Well,” Erin said turning towards Willow, “I think I can figure out some of the differences, but if his genetics aren’t identical to the original it’ll take me a longer time to isolate differences on conflicting DNA, unless you have Xander’s DNA from the pre-Buffy days.”
“I doubt anyone would have that,” Willow said softly, glancing at Kennedy, concerned. Kennedy came over and wrapped an arm around Willow’s shoulder and pulled her in close. “But you’ll help?”
“Sounds like fun, and I will be living in L.A. for the next two years. I’ve signed a contract to stay at CalSci for awhile. It’s to give me time to work on some projects, I think I’m close to a breakthrough on my werewolf project.”
“Great!” Willow said smiling. At least one of their problems was going to be dealt with.
“Now, I just need samples from the clone and the original Xander for comparison.”
“Willow,” Oz began as he realized something. “Where is the ORIGINAL Xander?”
“We’re not sure.”
“What?” Erin said, her eyes widening. “How am I supposed to figure out the difference between the Xanders with only ONE Xander?”End – Chapter 7REVIEWS INSPIRE ME!