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Echoes of the Fallen

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Fallen May Rise". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: YAHF- Xander lost a bet with with Willow, where he had to dress up as a Jewish character for Halloween. Well, he stuck to the bet, and now, he must overcome the memories of a man who wanted only to protect his people, no matter the cost.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Xander-Centered(Recent Donor)ChilordFR181492,971197516225,1372 Jul 094 Dec 09Yes
CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner

Expanding Ripples III

Chapter 7: Expanding Ripples III
 
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters, only my interpretation. Magneto belongs to Marvel, Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon and the various studios/networks.*Edit* Has been edited for grammar and a few mistakes
 
Author’s Notes: So, uh, yeah… heh.
 
-*-*-*-
 
“Do you hate me?” Willow’s voice almost squeaked as she looked up at Buffy, her eyes wide as her lip trembled slightly in fear.
 
“Hmm?” Buffy blinked a moment before looking up from her book at the red head, her expression unreadable for a moment. “Why do you ask?”
 
“Because,” she shifted slightly, her eyes immediately falling down as she squirmed, “You and Xander haven’t said more than a few words to me since you’ve been back, and you’ve all buddy-buddy with Cordelia and now Faith, and you’ll barely look at me anymore and…”
 
“Willow,” Buffy said softly, cutting her off with the word as the red head blushed brightly and hung her head. “I don’t hate you.”
 
“Oh,” the red-head responded softly, fidgeting slightly in place as she watched Buffy go back to the book she was looking over. “Then… why…?”
 
“I don’t hate you,” she repeated quietly, not looking up at the girl across from her. “But, that doesn’t mean I like you very much right now.”
 
Willow trembled in response, her eyes going wide in shock, her lips working open and shut for several moments, before she managed a squeaked word in muted shock “…What?”
 
“Willow,” the blonde girl slowly looked up from her book and leveled a look at the girl across from her. “I know you were trying to help, I know you were doing what you thought was best, but that doesn’t change the fact that because of you, I sent Angel to Hell instead of Angelus.”
 
“Oh.” Again she hung her head, her eyes tearing up as she clenched her fingers tightly into small fists. “But…”
 
“Willow,” Buffy said the words softly as she slowly closed the book in front of her. “Like I said, I know you were trying to help, and eventually, I’ll be able to forgive you. But, not right now. Xander helped me out a lot this summer, but, I still have a lot to work through.”
 
The blonde Slayer paused a moment, before pursing her lips quietly. “And Xander? Not your biggest fan right now.”
 
“…I know.” Willow flinched back slightly as she hung her head. “I just…”
 
“Thought you were right, he was wrong. That you knew better than him,” Buffy cut her off. “No one’s saying you’re not smart Willow. Hell, no one could say that. The thing is, there’s a difference between being smart and having common sense.”
 
“And the wisdom of when to use your intelligence, and when to not,” Giles spoke up as he would walk up to the two of them, his eyes scanning the otherwise empty library. “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”
 
Willow frowned at Giles, shifting slightly. “But…”
 
“Magic, is a dangerous thing, Willow,” the man said softly as he would quietly lock his eyes to hers. “Especially to those who try to push too far, to quickly.”
 
“You don’t think I can handle it,” she said quietly, looking down as she could feel the slight swirl of emotions pulsing through her in a chaotic mess.
 
“Mmm.” the British man paused a long moment, before he just arched a brow towards her. “And considering the power black out one of your misfired spells caused this summer…”
 
“That was one little mistake!” Willow protested immediately before blushing brightly as she looked down, realization crashing down on her like a ton of bricks. “Oh…”
 
“Yes, ‘oh,’” Giles commented back to her, shaking his head slowly. “If that was just ONE little mistake, imagine what could happen with a larger one. Magic isn’t something you can rush into! You need to go slowly, carefully. Build up your skills and understanding. Do you understand?”
 
“I… I guess.” The red head nodded reluctantly as she curled back up on herself. “I just… it’s so neat! And it’s so interesting, and there’s so much you can do with it! I could help out so much!”
 
“Yes, and you could also do a lot of damage as well.” Buffy pointed out quietly before picking up her book, and looking towards Giles. “Faith and I'll take a short patrol tonight, we still have to get her settled into her new place.”
 
“Ah, yes, good.” Giles nodded softly with a slight shifting of his glasses. “Willow, I think it would be best if you were to, lay off any attempts at more advanced magics without proper supervision.”
 
“But...” the girl began to protest, her eyes widening for a moment, before she slowly hung her head and nodded slowly. “Okay.”
 
“Good.” He nodded, offering her a slight smile towards her before lightly patting her on the shoulder. “You need to focus on control for now, learn the basics and perfect them. They'll help you later on as you progress.”
 
“Giles, why don't you do magic so much anymore?” The girl was looking at him intently, studying him as she lightly bit down on her lower lip.
 
“I, er, well.” He paused, growing flustered before he released a slow, drawn out sigh. “I've seen first hand where arrogance can lead with magic. I've learned, painfully, that it’s something that one has to take great care when approaching, and to be able to safely practice it, one must devote far more time to it than I have.”
 
“Oh.” Willow slowly nodded before fixing him with a firm look of determination. “Could you teach me some of those control exercises?”
 
A slight smile dawning on his face, the Watcher nodded quietly to her. “Why yes, Willow, I’d be delighted to.”
 
-*-*-*-
 
“I need to talk to you guys about something,” Buffy spoke up softly as she walked into the automotive garage, her eyes flickering across the grimy forms of her friends, lips involuntarily quirking up at the sight of Cordelia in overalls and grime.
 
“Yeah, yeah,” Cordelia grumbled softly as she glared at Buffy. “Breath one word of this blondie and…”
 
“I don’t think that’s what she wants to talk about, Princess,” Faith cut her off with a grin of amusement. “Though, I promise I won’t tell her how much fun you’ve been having getting down and dirty.”
 
“Oh, listen here you leather clad little slut-bomb…” Cordelia snapped back, her eyes playfully angry.
 
“Girls,” Xander interrupted with a softly firm voice. “I think that it’s something a bit serious.”
 
Both brunettes turned their heads again, noticing the way Buffy was tightly holding her arms, body shifting slightly, uncomfortably. Her eyes never quite turned towards them, always moving, shifting around. Finally, her mouth opened and she would respond.
 
“Yeah, it’s…” She paused, unsteady and uncertain fingers digging more tightly into her skin. “Angel, he’s… back.”
 
“Hold up,” Faith said suddenly, confusion written on her face. “I thought this guy went to Hell? You know, nasty, nasty place?”
 
“Yeah, he was,” Buffy responded as she would lightly rubbed up and down on her arms. “Only, now… he’s back somehow. But…”
 
“But?” Xander offered quietly as he would carefully begin to wipe his hands on a near by rag, studying his friend for a moment before he slowly walked over towards her.
 
The instant he moved in range, the blonde girl released her own arms and wrapped them around Xander, hugging him tightly as she began to tremble, her words, soft and almost whispered. “He’s… He’s not Angelus, he’s Angel, I know his soul’s still there. But, he’s, it’s like there’s not one there. Like he’s like an animal now, instead of a man.”
 
Gently, Xander ran his fingers through his friend’s hair, a slow, steady motion as he wrapped one arm about her shoulder, holding onto her for a long moment. “What happened?”
 
“I chained him up at the mansion,” she said softly. “Last night, and then everything happened with Pete and Oz, and I was thought he might’ve…”
 
Gently Xander kept running his fingers through her hair, making soft, little sounds as she continued to almost babble against his chest. “Then, when we figured out that it couldn’t be Oz or well, Angel… When I was confronting Pete, he showed up, he saved me and… He said my name. He held me. I…”
 
“And, we’re sure this Angel, not Angelus?” Cordelia confirmed her brow arching up slightly as she would pull off a pair of gloves and lightly tossed them onto one of the nearby workbenches.
 
“Yeah.” Buffy looked up, tears in her eyes as she remained against Xander. “It’s definitely Angel.”
 
“Huh.” Faith shrugged slightly, more than a little wary. “So, what’s that mean then? I mean, no offense, B, but this guy did some serious damage from what you’ve told me.”
 
“Angelus, not Angel,” Buffy corrected quietly as she slowly pulled away from Xander’s embrace.
 
“Considering how easy it is for him to go bad again…” Faith shot back, before looking uncomfortable. “Look, I don’t exactly have the best track record with guys. X-Man here is the first decent one I’ve ever met, so maybe I’m a little biased. But, you know you two can never be together, right?”
 
“I know,” Buffy shot back, her words a mix of anger and melancholy resignation. “It’s just… I still love him.”
 
Cordelia walked up, gently wrapping her arms around the petite blonde, rubbing her lightly on her back. “We know, Buffy, we know, but, seriously. This time, you know you can’t be together.” She paused a moment, looking up at Faith then Xander before hugging the blonde Slayer once more. “But that doesn’t mean we have to dust him, right?”
 
“As long as he keeps from getting a happy,” Xander said quietly. “If he does… This time he gets dusted, right Faith?”
 
“Right.” Faith said with a slight nod. “If it comes down to it, I’ll take care of it.”
 
“But,” Xander continued, “Only Angelus, right? No staking Captain Forehead with a soul.”
 
“Xander!” Buffy quietly protested, even as a slight curl of a smile passed her lips.
 
“Captain Forehead?” Faith asked, a trace of amusement on her lips.
 
“You’ll understand when you see him,” the boy shot back with a grin. “So, where is Deadboy?”
 
“The mansion,” Buffy responded as she slowly pulled out of Cordelia’s arms and wiped her tears on her sleeve. “I guess we should go and introduce Faith to him?”
 
“Well it would help keep her from going, all dust first ask questions later,” Xander admitted as he grinned at Faith. “Haven’t been back to the Mansion since we cleared out Acathla.”
 
“Yeah, well,” Buffy nodded quietly before looking over towards Cordelia. “Want to come?”
 
“Spend the evening with a grunting, tall, dark, and broody?” Cordealia wrinkled her nose and waved her hand. “Pass, I’d rather not have to deal with what equates to a football player with extra baggage.”
 
“Oooh, I’ll have to remember that one,” Xander grinned, rubbing his hands together. “Well, come on, lets get to it!”
 
“Not going to clean up first?” Buffy asked hopefully as he eyed the two grinning, grease caked brunettes.
 
“Nope!” Xander and Faith responded simultaneously as they picked Buffy up and dragged her out of the garage.
 
“Hey! I can walk you know!”
 
-*-*-*-
 
Buffy glared at the collapsed, laughing form of Xander as he rolled about on the mansion floor, tears streaming down his face. “It’s NOT funny!”
 
“B,” Faith spoke up, grinning broadly herself as she pointed to the cringing form of Angel huddled up against the wall. “Your boy, bad ass, vicious vamp extraordinaire, took one look at the X-man, then ran like a damned rabbit to the wall.”
 
“He’ll attack me, he’ll attack a monster attacking me, but he takes one look at Xander and he runs scared.” Buffy was pouting slightly now. “It’s not fair!”
 
“Why don’t you try calming him down, Buff?” Xander finally managed, slowly stilling himself as he lay there on the ground, grinning like a fool. “Because, I can tell you this, as soon as he’s back to normal, he’s NEVER living, err, undeading I guess, this down.”
 
“Jerk,” Buffy grumbled slightly, sticking her tongue out at him before slowly making her way over to Angel. “It’s all right, the big, bad Xander won’t hurt you.”
 
-*-*-*-
 
“So, ah, Angel is back?” Giles asked with a slow arch of the brow before he would carefully remove his glasses, polishing them for a moment against his shirt.
 
“Yup, and making with being scared of Xan,” Buffy added, her face scrunching slightly. “It was mildly disturbing.”
 
“Says you,” Xander countered with a grin on his face. “Faith and I, on the other hand, found it quite amusing.”
 
“No offense B, but he does have a point.” Faith grinned back at the girl. “I mean… Look at him, does he seem the intimidating type?”
 
“Hey!” Xander huffed as he crossed his arms about his chest. “I’ll have you know, I can be very intimidating when I want to be.”
 
“Riiiiiiight,” Faith drawled out with an over exaggerated sweetness to her words. “I believe you.”
 
“Actually, he’s telling the truth,” Buffy spoke up, settling forward just a bit. “No matter how much I might tease him, there’s a reason Angel’s afraid of him.”
 
“Yes,” Giles spoke up softly, his eyes lingering on the suddenly very quiet boy suddenly frowning in front of him. “Despite how he might play at being a clown…”
 
“Hey, 100% clown substitute here!” Xander immediately protested.
 
“… He’s proven time and time again, that underneath, there are depths to him that we only rarely remember,” Giles finished, as if the boy had never interrupted. “Or, do you think it was a mere fluke that he managed to convince you to move?”
 
Faith paused a moment, about to open her mouth, before turning her head, and eying Xander carefully. “Well, I guess I just got used to the goof ball, grease monkey.”
 
It was at that moment that Willow and Oz stepped into the library, the red head’s eyes lighting up for a moment when she saw Xander and Buffy, before immediately falling when she remembered the situation she was in. “Oh… didn’t think anyone else would be here.”
 
“No big.” Buffy shrugged softly, not quite looking at Willow. “We were just discussing Angel’s grand return from Hell.”
 
“And his cowering behind Buffy from X-Man,” Faith added, grinning back at her fellow slayer as she slipped her legs up onto the table.
 
“Wait, Angel’s back?!” Willow squeaked out, stunned before a smile blossomed on her face. “That’s great! Wait, he’s back and he’s scared of Xander?!”
 
“Never before have I laughed so hard,” the dark haired boy agreed as he would lean back in his own chair. “Buffy was giving me the, ‘I WILL Slay you’ look.”
 
“Ah, yes.” Giles nodded as he would quietly lift up Faith’s feet and guide them off the table. “Feet off the table, thank you. We do need to remember, not all hell dimensions follow the same flow of time as our own does. While it was only a few months for us, it might’ve been much, much longer for him.”
 
“Would explain the caveman approach of his,” Xander added helpfully as he casually stretched out. “Too much time, too much torment, forcing him to regress to a more primitive mindset.”
 
Willow sent Xander a bewildered look as she heard him speak. “Wha-huh?”
 
“He went like Oz under the full moon on us,” the boy clarified. “No offense.”
 
“None taken.” The werewolf shrugged laconically.
 
“But, Angel is back?” Willow repeated again, before looking at Buffy, a brilliant smile on her face. “GREAT!”
 
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded, a sad little smile curled on her lips. “And once he’s better, I can move on.”
 
“Move on?” That had caught Willow off guard, her eyes widened a bit. “But… I thought…”
 
“Been down that road already, Willow,” the blonde Slayer responded with a slight, bittersweet smile on her lips. “The only way it can end is in Big Baddage.” She paused a moment, before offering a slight teasing smirk to Xander. “And I really don’t want to have to drain Xander's bank accounts completely to pay for retail therapy.”
 
“I live but to serve, your grace,” Xander offered back with an exaggerated flourish in his chair.
 
“But...” Willow frowned slightly before leaning over against Oz. “Okay.”
 
“Okay?” Xander asked with a slight arch of his brow, those dark eyes fixing firmly upon Willow's own, a look of consideration flashing across them.
 
“Yeah, okay.” The red head nodded firmly. “Not really a fan of the whole everyone keeping their distance from me except for Oz.”
 
“We'll see,” Xander responded evenly. “Not gonna lie and say that I'm gonna forgive and forget.”
 
“You've really changed, haven't you?” There was a sadness in the redhead's eyes as she looked at her oldest friend, and realized, she only recognized bits and pieces of who he was.
 
“Everyone changes, Willow,” Xander said so quietly, so simply. “Some simply faster than others.”
 
“I guess,” she admitted reluctantly, looking at him, “It just... feels like I don't know you anymore.”
 
“You don't,” he responded softly as he stood up, looking at her for a moment before his eyes flicked away. “You proved that already.” Nodding slightly to the rest of the group, including Oz, he continued. “I'm out, I'll see everyone at school tomorrow, and I'll stay away from the mansion until Angel is together enough to start using hair gel again.”
 
“But...” Willow started to reach for him, disbelief in her eyes before she could feel a firm hand placed on her shoulder.
 
“Let it go,” Buffy said in a soft voice as she held firmly onto Willow's shoulder while they watched Xander leave the library, before once she was certain the boy was out of sight, she let go of the red head and looked at her for a lingering moment. “You hurt him, Willow, pretty badly.”
 
“I just... I...” The girl fumbled over her words, trying desperately to form some kind of response to what the blonde Slayer had said.
 
“The thing is,” Buffy's turned, walking over to the table, lifting up a few books into her arms as she spoke softly, “The part that gets me, is that he wasn't surprised. Disappointed, hurt, betrayed... But, not surprised.” She looked at the red head once more. “From what you and Giles told me, and from what I've managed to get out of him, he's seen some of the worst things humanity has to offer. He's seen so many mistake, both that others made, and that Magneto did. Seventy years worth of memories, Willow.”
 
The blonde offered Faith a look, and the brunette Slayer nodded quietly as she slid up in a sensual, singular movement as Buffy finished. “That's on top of his own. He had the best idea of what I was going through, so, he focused on me for a while. Just, being there for me. Now, he's doing it for Cordy, and for Faith.”
 
“But... Why can't he do that for me anymore?!” the girl shrank slightly as she curled on herself, feeling a hand lightly rubbing against her back as she looked up into the neutral eyes of her boyfriend.
 
“Well, from what I can see,” Faith drawled slightly as she stretched out. “You already have someone to be there for ya... You know, wolf boy there and what not?”
 
“Oh, uh, yeah,” Willow immediately flinched slightly before hugging her boyfriend. “I just... He's always been there for me, he's been my best friend... since forever!”
 
“Perhaps, as it was,” Giles spoke up from where he'd been studying the group. “He felt it was time for you to... spread your wings as it were. To experience more independence.”
 
“Or, maybe he thought you should learn to take care of yourself,” Faith offered up. “Cause, ya know, from what I've seen, most of our problems? Not a lack of independence. Too much relying on ourselves, at least for me.”
 
Buffy studied the distraught girl for a moment, lips pursing just a bit before shaking her head. “Anyway, come on Faith, I'll walk you back to the garage.”
 
“Cool,” Faith nodded slightly. “I got some body work I wanna get done tonight.”
 
“Please tell me that's NOT an euphemism,” Buffy twitched slightly. “Because, ya know, not all of us Slayers are all about the Hungry and Horny.”
 
“Heh,” Faith grinned slightly, leering at the petite blonde. “Whatever you say B, whatever you say, just remember, you already spilled the beans about what gives ole Angel a happy.”
 
“A thing with has put me off sex indefinitely,” Buffy surmised.
 
“That, and the fact that the only decent guy around here, won't sleep with us,” Faith pouted with a slight sigh as they walked out into the night. “But damn, would I like to.”
 
“I know,” Buffy responded, her lips quirked slightly as she mentally tacked on a 'so would I,' to what she'd said.
 
-*-*-*-
 
“Ugh, can that guy get ANY more lame?” Cordelia whined as she trudged to the dance in her half destroyed dress. “I mean, SlayerFest 98?!”
 
“Sorry about that, Cordy,” Buffy offered up. “I know you wanted to go to the dance.”
 
“Oh, puh-lease,” The brunette waved dismissively. “I only wanted to go for the same reason you did, to get Xander in a slow dance.”
 
“What?! I, uh, no!” Buffy quickly blushed brightly as she trudged through the park near the school next to the cheerleader.
 
“Again,” the smirking brunette responded, “I say 'puh-lease!' Anyone can see you slayers have a thing for him. He's just too damned noble for his own good. He doesn't think you're over Angel, and me and Faith? Trust issues there like you wouldn't believe.”
 
“I kinda noticed that much.” Buffy shrugged slightly. “Kinda surprised you didn’t run for Homecoming Queen.”
 
“What would be the point?” the cheerleader offered up a quiet shrug. “A year ago? Yeah, I would’ve been all over it. Anything to help fill the void as it were. Now though?” She paused, offering up a slight grin in Buffy’s direction. “Now, I’m starting to see just how pointless it all really was.”
 
“Ugh, don’t remind me.” Buffy sighed softly as she gave an exaggerated shrug of her shoulders. “I mean, hello? I was as bad as you were. It is nice to have a friend that enjoys shopping through.”
 
“I can imagine,” Cordelia responded a slightly smug smile on her face. “How long did you try with Willow before you gave up?”
 
“Twice,” the blonde girl admitted as they came in sight of their school. “Melt down babble as soon as we came in sight of the lingerie department.”
 
“Her loss.” Cordelia grinned back, winking lightly. “You’re an… adequate shopping buddy.”
 
“Hey, at least I can handle my own purchases,” Buffy shot back, smirking softly. “I don’t require a couple of drooling guys to follow me around hauling my bags.”
 
“True, but its so much fun to see them drool over what they can’t have,” the cheerleader responded imperiously. “I mean, really, it takes more than a decently in shape body to interest me!”
 
“More like a Xander shaped one?” the blonde teased back as she lightly straightened her dress, and adjusted her hair as best she could.
 
“True.” Cordelia was silent for a moment, as she stared a head, the soft crunch of their shoes the only sounds rising into the air, before she spoke quietly. “But, I don’t think he’ll let me in. Not in the way I want.”
 
“I did some research on Magneto,” Buffy said softly. “Xan tells us a lot of it… But, I think there’s more to it than what he’s said. He’s trying to not let it influence him too much, but…” She trailed off for a long moment and shook her head. “He was abandoned by his wife after watching his child die from what we know from Xander. He tried to love again, but too many times it ended up very poorly.”
 
“And it’s leaked into Xander,” Cordelia supplied. “He tries to keep it to a minimum. Hell, all things considered, he’s doing an amazing job not turning into a Magneto-Junior sans the powers. He’s reaching out to us, to Faith. I think he recognizes the loneliness, the isolation.”
 
“He still has the nightmares,” Buffy spoke up as they entered the school grounds. “He thinks I didn’t notice this summer, but… There were times when he’d wake up, screaming. They were rare, yeah, but they still happened.” She paused, her eyes distant. “Others, where he’d wake up, crying, or looking wistful. All those memories, the good and the bad, a full hard life.”
 
“And knowing Xander,” Cordelia added softly. “He’d rather deal with everyone else’s problems than his own.”
 
“For someone so smart, he can be pretty dumb, huh?” Buffy responded with a slight grin on her lips. “Something both of them had in common.”
 
“Yeah.” The cheerleader nodded, making a few adjustments of her own to her dress. “So, rock, paper, scissors for who gets a dance first?”
 
“Sounds good,” Buffy agreed as they headed towards the gym and the dance.
 
-*-*-*-
 
“You know, I’m really, REALLY starting to hate your old friend, Giles,” Xander growled as he glared over at the uncomfortable looking librarian. “I really wish you hadn’t let him go.”
 
“We didn’t let him go,” the man responded with an uncomfortable indignation. “We were on a bit of a tight schedule you know.”
 
“I know, I know.” Xander growled just a bit more, twitching as he watched Snyder approaching, the little man glaring towards them.
 
“Ah, Mr. Harris, just who I wanted to see,” the principal stated coldly, looking up at the boy imperiously. “I need some volunteers to help clean up the damage those…”
 
“Snyder,” the boy started, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
 
“That’s PRINCIPAL Snyder,” the man stressed. “And a little hooligan like…”
 
“Snyder,” the boy interrupted again, his own voice cooling considerably as he sent a glare that forced the administrator back a step. “I had a particularly unpleasant evening, including having to deal with the mess you played such an eager part in perpetuating, so I’m far from in the right state of mind to deal with your petty thuggery.”
 
“Why, you…”
 
“As it’s become rather obvious that you can’t figure anything out unless it’s presented to you at its most blunt,” Xander cut him off again. “The only reason you find yourself with current employment instead of a jobless pariah is because I’ve managed to convince myself to leave you where you are for the moment.”
 
He paused, glaring more tightly at the rapidly shrinking man as his lips curled back into a snarl. “But that is rapidly becoming a less attractive option. Or, did you really think that Mr. Murdoch’s evidence just MAGICALLY appeared hmmm?”
 
“That.. this is blackmail!” the man sputtered brightly.
 
“No, this is called coming to an accord,” the boy corrected. “But, since you seem incapable of realizing just what your position is, nor how generous we’ve been, I will put this bluntly.” His voice was like ice as he stepped forward, looming over the man with those cold dark eyes. “If you do not leave us alone, I will destroy you. Completely, and utterly. To the point where you will wish I HAD killed you.”
 
“You… you…” Snyder stuttered, his eyes widening, his body trembling as he struggled to react.
 
“Am… I… Clear?” Xander carefully enunciated each word, snapping them past his lips.
 
“I… This isn’t over Harris!” The man struggled to reclaim what dignity he could before turning and stomping away, but not before he could hear the boy clearly behind him.
 
“Yes, it is.”
 
As the principal stalked off, Xander turned his attention back to Giles and clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “I do look forward to the day I can actually destroy that little toad.”
 
“Xander,” Giles chided lightly, before smirking slightly. “It is something to look forward to, now isn’t it?”
 
“Yeah.” Xander sighed softly before slumping slightly. “What I want to know, is who the hell Trick is working for now.”
 
“What makes you think that…?” the Watcher asked, as he walked with the boy, his voice trailing off as he caught sight of Buffy talking with her mother, and for a brief moment his eyes met Joyce’s before both flushed and looked away.
 
“This didn’t feel like his style. Well, the misdirection and the Ethan bit, yeah, but not the demon dealing,” Xander responded, his lips twitching slightly as he watched the Watcher. “Look at how he’s acted in the past. The whole SlayerFest thing… the guy’s a schemer.”
 
“Ah, I, um, suppose so,” Giles agreed distractedly, a faint blush on his cheeks.
 
“So, should I let Buffy know where her Mom got those handcuffs?” the boy asked with a slightly bemused smirk.
 
“Wha-? I, Um, err, Xander, I, I don’t…” Giles immediately grew flustered, his fingers quickly grabbing hold of his glasses as he pulled them down, polishing them furiously against his shirt.
 
“Or, maybe I should mention what you two apparently did?” Xander added, his expression neutral until he watched the sudden alternating of flushed and pale flesh as the man stared at him eyes wide.
 
“Xander! Why… How?!” Giles stared back at the boy, before sighing as he reached up, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I bloody well walked into that one, didn’t I?”
 
“Why, Giles, I have no idea what you could be talking about,” Xander responded, his mood lightening significantly. “What with you and Mrs. Summers blushing and shuffling around like a pair of school children around each other.”
 
“Xander…” the man responded, a slightly warning tone in his words as he gave the boy a pointed look. “It’s hardly…”
 
“Oh for the love of…” Xander reached up, grabbing hold of Giles by the man’s ear, and bodily dragging him over to the Summers women. “I swear…”
 
“Owowow! XANDER!” Giles immediately began to sputter until he felt his ear suddenly released, only to find himself uncomfortably close to a bemused looking Slayer and her bewildered looking mother.
 
“Xan, did you just drag my Watcher over here like he was a little boy?” The blonde girl’s voice was a step away from full blown giggles as she watched the librarian sputter helplessly.
 
“He was being a git,” Xander responded, before smirking slightly, “Pardon my British.”
 
“Pardoned and exonerated,” Buffy responded with a regal wave of her hand, “What’s up?”
 
“These two,” Xander responded as he jerked his thumb from Giles to his friend’s mother. “Have some things they need to talk about. Very important things that if left alone to they’re own devices will lead to even more awkwardness and schoolyard fumbling.”
 
“Well, you know, this IS a school.” Buffy pointed out with a slight grin.
 
“Yes,” he admitted. “But they aren’t students.” He paused a moment, before suddenly grinning wickedly at his blonde friend. “You might want to cover your ears.”
 
“Why do I suddenly have a feeling of certain and impending Doom by embarrassment?” the girl muttered slightly before she took a step back. “I think I’m gonna go see what Cordy’s up to, bye Mom!”
 
“Buffy…” Joyce started to say, before her daughter practically vanished from sight, leaving her to blink owlishly in shock. “She’s very… fast.”
 
“The topic of one’s parent’s sex life, tends to do that to a teenager,” Xander said dryly as he smirked at the two adults.
 
Two adults who immediately blushed brightly as they stumbled over each others words, refusing to look at once another. For a few minutes, he watched the display with nothing save a soft chuckle. Finally, he shook his head and raised his hand to cut them off.
 
“Mrs. Summers… Save the denials, Giles already gave it up,” Xander said with a bemused grin on his lips.
 
“RUPERT!” The woman was aghast as she stared back at the flustered librarian.
 
“Now, Joyce, I assure you I…” the man immediately responded defensively.
 
“Though, in his defense,” Xander continued on, as if neither had spoken, “I merely tricked him into confirming my suspicions. The question now, is what are you two going to do about it?”
 
“I hardly think this is any business of yours young man,” Joyce immediately responded, only to blink in surprise as Giles groaned audibly.
 
“Oh, now you’ve gone and done it.” The librarian could be heard as he watched the single eyebrow rise on the young man’s face.
 
“Yes, I can hardly imagine why it would be any concern of mine why the mother of one of my best friends and the closest thing I have to a decent father figure in my life are pussy footing around the rather obvious attraction they have for one another,” Xander responded sarcastically. “Especially after the BRILLIANT display of emotional maturity said mother displayed a few months ago where, what was it you told your only daughter again?”
 
Joyce immediately flushed bright red in humiliation and anger as she stared back at the boy, wordlessly struggling to form a response, before Giles beat her to it.
 
“Listen you bloody imperious little wanker,” Ripper growled out from the depths Giles had locked him away in. “Don’t you dare talk to her like that.”
 
“Oh, and why not hmmm?” Xander responded, his words drawled out as he crossed his arms about his chest. “She’s hardly behaved as anything more reputable than a giggling little bar floozy.”
 
“I will NOT let you stand there, insulting such a damned fine bird as Joyce,” The older man was snarling now, his fingers clenched as he took a step towards the boy. “You have NO right to try and demean a bloody good woman!”
 
“Rupert…” a small smile broke across the woman’s lips as she watched the man defend her so quickly.
 
“Well,” the man immediately stumbled slightly as he caught sight of the smile, flushing from something other than anger before he looked at the mother of his Slayer, “It’s true.”
 
“So good of you to finally admit it, Giles,” Xander responded dryly as he chuckled just a bit. “I really did not want to have to deal with anymore additional repressed sexual tension in my life. I deal quite enough as is.” He paused, looking at the two adults suddenly staring at him and rolled his eyes. “What?  You think I was just going to stand there and let the two of you avoid how you felt about one another?”
 
“You buggering bastard,” Giles grumbled as he glared at the boy. “You bloody set us up.”
 
“Of course I did,” Xander responded with a roll of his eyes. “And the next time the two of you decide to behave like children, do remember, I’ve got the memories of a man old enough to be your father running around in my head, so I’m hardly afraid of taking you to school.”
 
He paused a moment, before pointing at Giles. “And you, Giles, are taking her to dinner on Friday.” He switched his finger over to Joyce. “And you will go with him, the two of you will have a good time and you WILL enjoy yourselves. Am I CLEAR?”
 
Giles glared down at the boy who was smiling, cheekily back at him, before nodding his assent. “You’re paying for it though you cheeky bugger.”
 
“Of course I am,” Xander responded with a negligent wave of his hand as he started to walk away. “Why do you think I gave you the bloody card?”
 
“… Does he always make you feel like you’re acting like a silly little child?” Joyce asked carefully, her mind awash in confusion as she stared at the boy’s retreating back.
 
“Only when he decides to point something out,” Giles muttered slightly, before sighing ruefully. “Though, generally it’s a good point.”
 
“So, what’re we going to do to get him back?” Buffy’s mother shot back, a glint in her eyes.
 
“Oh, that’s easy,” the Watcher responded. “When I show up to pick you up on Friday, make sure Buffy answers the door and we let her know it’s all Xander’s fault.”
 
“Devious,” Joyce was grinning back at him, “I like it.”
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