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This story is No. 6 in the series "Understanding". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Xander found himself unable to look away from the stricken expression on Sam's face and, for the first time, it didn't occur to him that Sam was a demon.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Xander-CenteredAngelfirenzeFR1814,614164,79616 Feb 1016 Feb 10Yes
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Mutant Enemy and all involved are the geniuses behind these characters. I just borrow them at times to manipulate them much like action figures before returning them slightly abused but generally in good shape. Ah, yes, and The Wizard of Oz, the original book, belongs to L. Frank Baum. Silly me.

Summary: Xander found himself unable to look away from the stricken expression on Sam's face and, for the first time, it didn't occur to him that Sam was a demon.

Further Notes: This is blatantly Buffy/Angel. Not your thing, feel free to skip those parts. Everyone else? Enjoy! Also, fun fact: Eyal Podell (Lawson) was actually born and partially raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. Interesting, no?

As for Buffy and Angel's exploits, well, I'll just have to get to that.


Xander watched in near-shock as the three women before him went limp before becoming rigid in their respective seats and began to glow a subtle dark red inlaid with bright white light. Before he knew what he was doing, Xander stalked over to Buffy's arm and took hold, the glow overtaking him instantly, leaving him on his face in the middle of a lush green field of grass with a light sheen of rain falling over him.

Every ache in his body was gone, he realized.

Standing slowly, he immediately saw Buffy, Faith, and Willow walking hand-in-hand aways ahead of him and couldn't stop himself from calling out to them.

All three turned back in abject shock before Buffy and Faith each raced back with speed unheard of even in a Slayer and stopped abruptly in front of him. Faith seemed content to remain unnerved, letting Buffy do the talking.

"What the hell did you just do?"

Xander struggled for words, noticing absently that despite the rain none of them were actually getting wet. "I touched your arm. I -- you were -- "

"Leaving the mortal plane, Xander!" Buffy hissed, astonished that after all the spells they'd performed he'd do something so foolish.

Ahead of them, Willow only sighed, mentally handing Tara and Oz, each, a wad of hundred dollar bills and two kisses. That was their deal in the dream she'd had after all.

"You could have gotten yourself, us, and Angel all killed!"

"Well, hell," Faith sneered, finally chipping in her two cents. "Maybe that's what he was going for. After all, what are we if he gets to off Angel in the -- "

"No -- no!" Xander growled, glaring at Faith now, feeling the blood drain from his face. "I just didn't want to be left out and that's exactly what you were doing!"

"You don't think you've earned it?" Buffy snapped before turning away and beginning to run back to where Willow stood without awaiting his answer.

Xander clenched his eye shut, more tears coming, and Faith resisted the urge to sigh. Gripping his arm, she pulled him along as she ran, his feet not touching the ground, and suddenly all four of them were a group once more.

"Where are we?" Xander asked before kicking himself. It was obvious none of them wanted him anywhere within a hundred mile radius of him so why was he even bothering.

"We're in Ireland," Willow answered lightly, though Xander got the feeling she thought he should have realized it. "Specifically a few miles outside Angel's hometown. We needed some place secluded and there's plenty of open space here. It's not like the States, after all. Ireland's even less developed, building-wise, than England. Plenty of room to do all kinds of magick and no one to notice."

Just then something dark brushed past them and Xander only got a glimpse of it before it had disappeared.

"What the hell was that?"

But when he glanced at Buffy, he was surprised to see her smiling. Without another word, she took off at the same speed the dark shape had gone, gleeful laughter -- something Xander hadn't heard from her in longer than he cared to remember -- issuing from her before suddenly she had disappeared, too.


"Shut up, let it happen." Even Faith's tone had lightened considerably as her head tipped to the side. She was tempted to yell for them to wrap it up, but figured that'd probably defeat the point.

"Where -- wait, are we in Angel's head?" Xander burst out, subsequently distracted by the way his voice echoed in the complete silence around them. "But -- we -- you...Angel's head isn't the mortal plane..." his voice petered out in realization.

"Nope," Faith shrugged, looking over to find Willow bent over, examining some plant or whatever, a grin on her face.

"Okay," Xander said slowly, trying to calm down. "You said you've been in Angel's head before and Willow's attached his soul twice. You've been here before?"

"Nah," Faith answered, examining her nails like they were just waiting for the bus. "I didn't see anything before 1902, I think. I think that was when Angel got to America. He was at Ellis Island and 'suck' doesn't begin to cover it. Don't miss the smell, that's for sure."

Xander bit his lip in thought, becoming more resigned to what he'd gotten himself into. "But this is new. This -- This, Angel hasn't even seen any of this, right? I mean, this is modern Ireland, right?"

Faith shrugged. "No clue. We could be in 2001. We could be in 17-whatever. You already noticed the lack of buildings and all."

Xander sighed heavily and ran his hands through his hair. How come he was the only one not calming down?

"You don't want to be here and Angel knows it," Faith answered, looking right at him when he turned to her. "It doesn't matter where we are, this is Angel's mind and he knows when someone or something's in it that ain't supposed to be or, in your case, would happily set him on fire. Guess it doesn't matter right now. He's just happy to see Buffy and it's making -- "

"You and Willow happy," Xander snapped, dismayed further when his sweater started to get soaked through by the light rain. Faith was still dry as a bone and he could pretty much guess Willow was, too.

"You t-two are still dry," Xander chattered, now soaked and miserable, glaring at Faith, who looked completely unconcerned with his current state of affairs.


Xander sighed and tried not to fume, concentrating on trying not to be angry or irritated, and he noticed his clothes started to dry up.


"Ye-eah, imagine that..."

Xander resisted the urge to roll his eyes, not knowing if that would set Angel's defense systems off again. When he was completely dry once more, he frowned in concentration, looking around for Buffy.

"What's Buff -- Buffy after anyway?"

"The only thing she's ever wanted, Hyena-Boy."

It was the softest tone Xander had ever heard Faith use, even if she and Willow had both insulted him in the past hour or so. Suddenly, they heard laughter coming from somewhere. Definitely not Buffy's, but too...happy...dear God, was that a happy Angel? There wasn't anywhere they could hide or anything to use as a weapon...

Buffy was hauling a Founding Fathers-dressed, long-haired Angel back toward them, suddenly, both their clothes disheveled, but surprisingly Buffy didn't look very happy about it.

"Oh, come now, Buffy," Angel said in what was obviously his original accent, a huge, wolfish grin on his face, obviously unable to decide between leering and...and...Xander froze and started to back up without meaning to. Angel, or whoever this version of him was, was really drunk. Xander wanted no part of that. He'd had enough of that in his own mind, thank you.

Trying to stay calm so he wouldn't get wet again, Xander glanced at Faith, who -- he was gratified to see -- looked really pissed.

It was starting to rain again, only this time he wasn't the only one affected. Which sucked, honestly.

"They send the wrong one out to play or somethin'?" Her fists were balled by her sides and Xander could tell she was trying to stay as calm as she'd been before but, like him, wasn't managing it. She and Buffy had being Slayers to fall back on, though, and Willow had the witchiness. Xander, on the other hand, was completely...defenseless...

Before he realized it, Willow was beside him again, her face cold and blank, her hair and eyes having turned black. The contrast with her bright clothing was even freakier than usual.

Without a word, Willow summoned one of the balls of light she'd hit him with and sent it flying into...whoever Buffy was dragging, sending him flying back toward the ground, where he laying groaning and then...crying?

Angel tried to get to his feet, but Willow shot another ball of energy at him and he fell back over, a cry of pain issuing from him even at a distance.

Suddenly, they were all getting totally drenched, everything around them being heavily rained upon, and he could hear the voice of a man berating and belittling Angel, though this voice called him Liam or something, and somewhere around them there was raucous laughter and the obvious sound effects of a brawl.

He's magnificent.

"You bet your ass," Buffy growled at his side, though Xander noticed she didn't make a move to help Angel/Liam up. "GROW UP!" she yelled over the rain and the man -- Angel or whoever he was right now -- before her stilled, his head coming up to stare at her and Xander could see centuries of despair written in his eyes even from this distance.

"You're better than what he thinks of you! He doesn't even know you! Now get up and be everything I know you are!"

Without warning, the black shape they'd seen earlier appeared and hurled itself into...Liam, causing the despair on his face to morph into wicked glee even as his clothing shifted to those of Angelus the night Buffy ran away. Xander tried to back up even further, but found himself at a wall he could just tell was within the interior of Angel's mansion.

He could still see Ireland on the outskirts of his vision, but the mansion was clearly at the center, with a swirling wall of golden light billowing in the middle of it. Scary.

"We're not in Kansas anymore," Faith muttered at his other side, even as Willow took hold of his face and trained his eyes on the scene before him. "Way to go, jackass. You changed the game plan. Again. Now this is just going to be harder on them."

Not a second later, a sword materialized and Buffy, now sobbing, watched as Angel fell to his knees and his own eyes glowed before he was quite obviously souled, confused and asked her name. Buffy was touching his face, seemingly memorizing the planes of it.

Xander's stomach pitched. He didn't want to see any of this. Not at all. He tried to look away, but Willow's grip was firmer than he'd realized and he couldn't. She wouldn't let him.

Beside him, Willow was now crying, herself, and Xander could now feel her hand shaking as it held his head, hear her whimpering. He hated it all.

Buffy lifted Angel back to his feet, saying brokenly, "I love you."

There were voices swirling around him again only, this time, he was painfully aware of just who was speaking.

It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It's the man.

You're weak. Everybody is. Everybody fails. Maybe this evil did bring you back, but if it did, it's because it needs you. And that means that you can hurt it. Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster.

It was then that Angel apparently regained control of himself because he said, just as sadly, "We h-have to do this the way it was. That's the only way..."

Buffy nodded, her free hand over her mouth as she tried to stop sobbing, but then she shook her head then and dropped the sword, instead throwing herself at Angel and kissing him desperately even as the portal widened to take them both.

"Buffy!" Xander screamed, surging forward, trying to break free from Faith's grip, but he couldn't. He wasn't strong enough.

"NO!" Xander yelled, again trying to run forward, but again Faith stopped him. "You've changed things, like I said. Stop."

"We...we have to wait," Willow whispered, he heard her perfectly. "It's between the two of them now. We -- Faith and I -- had to be here so Buffy wouldn't get lost, and we'll be here when they get back, but right now it's all up to them."

"They're in Hell!" Xander burst out again, but Willow shook her head, ignoring the tears that were clouding her own vision. "How can they come back?"

"They're not in Hell," Faith snapped, grabbing Xander and turning him toward her. "Now shut up and come with us. There's stuff you need to see."

"I -- "

"What part of 'shut up' gave you the trouble?" Willow interjected, taking hold of Xander's other arm and dragging him away from where Buffy and Angel had disappeared. Xander fought, but Faith reached over and hit him in his already injured elbow and they heard an audible crack as the abused arm finally broke. Xander screamed and Faith flinched, but kept pulling him, though it was Willow speaking to him now.

"We're really sorry, Xand. You have to stop resisting. You have to see the reason you really can't stand Angel, why it's all so clear to everyone but you and Giles, and why you need to get the hell over it."

Xander bit back another scream, old practice coming back to him with surprising ease. "I owe you for that one, Lehane," he growled, turning to glare at her, but Faith only nodded and shifted him to carry his broken arm around her shoulder instead, her arm now around his torso.

"When this is over you can hit me all you want, if you still do."

"Why wouldn't I?" Xander demanded in disbelief but Faith didn't answer and suddenly they were shifting again and Angel was holding a bunch of rags while burying something over a makeshift grave.

The bundle gave a cry and Angel, his hands shaking, stopped to use his free arm to pull the baby closer to his chest, shushing it, kissing the top of its head. "I mean, besides the fact that you're a girl."

But neither were paying attention to him anymore so he just continued to stare.

"Who -- " Xander started, but Willow shushed him in turn. "Watch."

The progression of images was slow. Drusilla and a dark-haired man meeting atop a cliff, Drusilla collapsing and convulsing, vomiting blood before apparently recovering, Dru speaking her usual madness and then the man's vantage point as Angel stumbled from a small church followed by a priest carrying a small boy whose hair was turning from blond to black to stark white right before their eyes.

The entire way, Angel kept stumbling, moaning, sometimes screaming, vomiting blood again and again. Xander felt his mouth drop open but was too appalled to bother closing it.

Angel, the priest, and the boy disappeared inside the house the man angrily turned and, ignoring Drusilla's taunts, kicked her in the head before he picked her up and carried her away.

A short fast-forward to what was obviously a bigger city but Xander didn't know where. The boy was older now, dressed in a shirt, pants, and sweater like he'd seen on his Uncle Rory when he was about six or so. The boy's hair was silver, though the rest of him simply looked like a normal child.

"It was a scar of their ordeal," Willow whispered, a small sigh on her lips. "He mirrors everything his father is, inside and out."

"Father -- what?" Xander asked and Faith was tempted to give Xander's arm a wrench for not paying attention, but managed to restrain herself.

Willow went ahead with an explanation, "Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Jethro -- or, mostly, Agent Gibbs. That's the kid there, though he's a big guy now, all grown up like I said. Angel buried his mother after she died while in labor the night he was born and took Jethro to raise as his own. He had a choice at first and kept him, but then it became kind of a necessity. Angel gave the baby some of his blood because the little guy was starving to death."

"What?" Xander's eyes widened yet again but Faith and Willow were still watching intently and mostly ignoring him so he forced himself not to look away.

The kid -- Leroy -- was now at a kitchen table, dressed in what looked like an altar boy's uniform, patiently awaiting something. Xander wondered why none of the holy stuff was affecting the kid if he was a vampire -- not to mention how he was growing or anything like that -- when Angel came in the door, plainly not expecting the kid to be there waiting for him.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS, POP!" the kid yelled, leaping with supernatural strength, if not the grace, into Angel's arms and hugging him tightly, Angel somehow ignoring the obvious burn the cross embroidered on Leroy's robes had to be making. Xander could see the smoke from here. Instead he smiled and sighed, returning the hug with interest before setting the kid back down on his feet.

"Merry Christmas, becan."

"What does -- " Xander hissed, but Willow interrupted him sharply. "Little one. He's called Buffy and Dawn several Irish nicknames, each. Shush!"

"Now we go to Midnight Mass," Leroy said with absolute certainty.

"Midnight Mass doesn't start for three more hours, son, you know that..."

Xander watched, now enthralled. He knew that, had he been in Leroy's place. he hardly would have been worried about going to Mass. There wasn't a Christmas tree anywhere in the apartment that he could see, but stacks of presents sat waiting and several candles had been lit. The kid hadn't touched a single one in all the time he'd sat there.

"You're kidding me," he muttered to no one in particular, but the scene changed again.

"Jethro, you need to get the hell away from me before I kill you, too! I -- oh, God -- "

Angel, this time long-haired and all -- holy crap -- disco-fied, was stumbling around the same apartment, a now adult Leroy (Xander would guess about twenty-one or so) was standing straight-backed with his arms folded across his chest, a look of absolute defiance on his face as he watched Angel fling his possessions into a large trunk.

"I'm not going anywhere," Leroy stated calmly, not flinching when Angel vamped out and bared his fangs right in his face.

Xander's mouth dropped open yet again. If Angel had done that to him he'd've probably been halfway down the block within seconds.

Leroy, on the other hand, stood completely still, his face hard, though his own eyes were now shining an electric blue Xander figured was most likely from the vampire blood in his veins.

"Go." Angel commanded harshly, taking hold of Leroy's shoulders and turning him around bodily before going to shove him toward the door, but Leroy dodged and returned to his original position.

"I can't. I won't."

Angel apparently lost his patience and let loose with his full demon, grabbing Leroy's arm and when the young man didn't move, his shoulder audibly gave with a pop and then a tear and Angel froze, lurching back away from...Xander felt his heart skip several beats...his son, who despite having to be in severe pain by now, only turned to stare at Angel, deep breaths issuing forth without his knowledge.

Xander saw, for the first time, fangs and a small divot in Leroy's forehead, his brow slightly more pronounced. The fangs, themselves, weren't very long at all but still obvious to the naked eye. Somehow, Xander knew that Leroy had never once taken human blood.

He could hear Leroy's heart pounding even in all the noise of the scene and vaguely wondered how that was possible.

Angel, himself, was now huddled in the corner of the room, howling audibly, plainly horrified with himself, his face in his hands as he cried uncontrollably.

Beside him, Willow was crying again and Xander looked down and away to see that Faith's hands were bleeding where her fingernails, blunt nonetheless, had cut into her skin.

Without once looking away from Angel, Leroy walked backward around the apartment, gathering bandages and other implements before seating himself on the ground in front of his father, removing his shirt, and resetting his shoulder with a loud pop before bandaging and wrapping it.

Angel was whimpering now, his fingernails digging into his face, drawing blood. Leroy merely blinked, reaching up with his uninjured arm and gently pulling Angel's closest hand toward himself.

"May I, Pop?"

Xander couldn't comprehend how Leroy could look at the father -- adoptive or not -- who'd just displaced his shoulder with respect and adoration, even going so far as to call him 'Pop' and ask politely for blood to heal faster.

Angel didn't reply audibly but shoved his arm in Leroy's face and the young man gently bit into the proffered wrist, his eyes glowing before they shut against his will.

Xander wanted to look away, his stomach churning, but he was surprised it was with nerves, not revulsion. He glanced at Faith, whose breath had hitched, and found her pressing a hand against her throat and was shocked to see an open and trickling bite mark on her throat.

"He -- Angel bit you!" Xander managed to hiss, but Faith didn't answer, forcing her own eyes back open while taking her hand from her throat and Xander found himself liable to have a heart attack as the bite mended once more before his eyes.

"Shut up and watch, okay. World in peril, all that crap. Get over it and watch."

Xander forced himself to turn away, blinking away the amazement he felt that both the top Slayers had been bitten by Angel and, apparently, shared a connection with him that Xander, himself, could never understand even if he tried.

Breathing deeply, he tried to concentrate on the tableau before him, his head spinning worse than ever before.

Leroy was lowering Angel's arm, wiping his mouth with his hand afterward, before rooting around in the first aid stuff he'd gathered.

Ignoring Angel's weak protests and stronger struggles, Leroy bandaged Angel's wrist one-handed, before kissing the bandaged place he'd just bitten and looking back up with human features.

"I promise to make you proud of me, Pop. Le meas...slán...go raibh maith agat..." Leroy said quietly, reaching up to run a hand through Angel's awful hair before standing with inhuman grace and finishing the 'packing' Angel had been doing for him and leaving the apartment.

On the roof of the apartment, Xander was unnerved to find the same dark-haired man from the cliff before watching Leroy stalk down the street to a car and toss his trunk in, starting the engine and driving away.

"Good luck, little brother," the dark-haired man said before turning and disappearing again.

"Who the hell is that?" Xander found himself asking aloud, this time not daring to turn away as the scene changed yet again. "What'd he mean by 'little brother'?"

"Dru wasn't the only vampire Angel ever Sired, Xander," Willow said softly, apparently having stopped crying. "She wasn't even the first. She was just the last one he Sired without a soul."

Xander's eye practically bugged out of his skull at that news. "He Sired a vampire after he got his soul? Why the hell -- "

"Because an entire crew of human men would have suffocated to death if he hadn't," Willow bit out, her face sad again as this time the view focused solely on that dark-haired man.

He was sitting in an office in the middle of what she instantly recognized to be Tel Aviv, his back to drawn shades as a man and a woman dressed in the black clothing and gear of assassins stood before his desk. "He's hated himself for all of his sons, but none moreso than Sam...or should I say Elijah David?"

This Sam/Elijah guy was speaking what Xander somewhat recognized as Hebrew, not having the grasp Willow did on the language since he wasn't Jewish, but one look at his face and Xander knew this guy was one big ball of pain.

"The son is Ari Haswari -- that's a Palestinian name, his mother was a Palestinian Potential. The daughter is Ziva David. Her mother was an Israeli Potential. Their little sister Talia's mother was one like Ziva's. Talia and Ari's mother are both dead. They were..."

Willow's sharp intake of breath surprised both Xander and Faith, who each stared at her, but she continued shakily, "T-they were killed in suicide bombings in Gaza and the Diamond District. Ari's mother is dead -- a suicide bombing in the Gaza Strip. The father and the son are in such pain -- Hasmia Haswari was Sam's mate. Ziva's torn, she didn't really like her stepmother, but she loves her brother and sister more than anything. Sam knows that. Ziva killed the man who killed Talia, but there's no way for Ari to avenge Hasmia, her killer is already dead, so..."

Xander found himself unable to look away from the stricken expression on Sam's face and, for the first time, it didn't occur to him that Sam was a demon.

He watched Angel's oldest son crush his hands in his previously neat hair before suddenly calming and moving back, standing up, turning to face the night sky now before them all. He was speaking again and Willow was translating, her eyes widening with every word.

"He's going to see his father -- Elijah's going, I mean. He says he doesn't expect to see either Ari or Ziva again and for neither of them to bother looking..."

Another shift and Angel was standing in front of Elijah in what must have been Wolfram and Hart, Wesley, two people, and a green demon all trussed up on chairs as Angel held a stake to Elijah's heart. From the damage around, they'd been battling and...Sam had wanted Angel to win.

"Come on, Chief. Give me a mission..." Sam begged before Angel switched hands and shoved the plank of wood through Sam's heart and he collapsed into dust.

The scene shifted again and Willow would have collapsed, now crying again, if Xander's hands hadn't suddenly latched onto her arm and waist, completely forgetting about his broken arm until the exertion quite readily reminded him.

He bit back a scream and, once Willow was securely on her feet again, cradled the limb against his chest as he turned back to what was unfolding now.

It was nothing at first, but then leaves shifted behind a house and suddenly all of them could see Ari and Ziva watching as the now adult Gibbs (Xander supposed they were all around the same age, but that Ari and Ziva had more vampiric blood so they physically aged more slowly) and Angel's son Connor both leapt down from a treehouse in the middle of a crime scene littered with bodies, their intense distress visible even from this distance. Gibbs was cradling a boy, himself, gently transferring him to a doctor's care before collapsing to the ground and sitting in a daze, not even noticing when an assistant came over and started checking him over, much less that they were being watched.

Connor had retreated to a nearby car and was bawling his lungs out in the arms of two people in the backseat.

The vampires in the bushes were crying, as well, but no one noticed.


Irish translations:

Becan - little one

Le meas - respectfully

Slán - goodbye

Go raibh maith agat - thank you

Prequel to Stained, Novice; Sequel to Invitation, Disagreement, Fodder

The End

You have reached the end of "Splitting". This story is complete.

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