Xander Season Three
Harry was tired, he'd been up most of night worried about Xander. Xander had left, once again, for Sunnydale the night before, and while Harry trusted the people back in Sunnydale more than he once had, there was something about the note Xander had left that worried him.
Why, Harry couldn't say, because the note simply said that Xander was going back to Sunnydale to help Willow with something. How Harry had managed to turn that into something to worry about did amaze him. Sometime before sunrise, Harry finally decided that the worry had come from the fact that the note was so vague.
He opened the door to the diner, he didn't even know the name, he just knew he wanted something to eat before heading to work, however, since he was home alone he didn't feel like cooking himself, so he'd decided to have breakfast on his way to work.
Looking for a table, Harry froze. He hadn't come here looking for the slender man with the short spiky dirty blond hair that belonged to one Greg Sanders, but seeing him sitting alone at a booth having breakfast was not unwelcome. Several weeks ago, Harry had been working alone in Warrick's office when Greg had stopped in wanting to talk to Warrick.
Slowly, Harry walked over, almost unsure of what he was hoping for.
"Hey, mind if I join you?" Harry asked.
Greg looked up, and it was clear that he was on the verge of panic.
"Relax," Harry said as he slid into the booth on the opposite side of Greg.
He knew why Greg was upset, and was going to do his best not to take it personally. However, the day Greg had stopped by, they had starting talking, and for some reason, Harry still didn't know the reason, Greg wanted to talk things over with Warrick, because he'd recently come to wonder if he might be gay.
Something else Harry couldn't figure out was why that revelation made him happy.Anyway
, Harry thought pushing that thought away. At some point, during their chat, they'd fallen silent, and on the spur of the moment, Harry had decided the best way to help Greg would be to just kiss him. At the time, Harry was sure that Greg had responded positively, at least during the kiss, and that had made Harry even happier. However, considering the sped with which Greg had fled afterward, and now with as nervous as he appeared, Harry was coming to wonder if he'd read Greg's reaction wrong.
"I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable," Harry said. "I just thought the best way to help you find out if you were
was to kiss you."
Harry tried not to be insulted when Greg almost instantly calmed.
"Actually, I think that's my fault," Greg finally said sheepishly. "I didn't realize that you were... are... you know."
Harry smiled. "Gay."
"Yeah, that's it."
Harry almost laughed.
"I really should thank you," Greg continued. "Cause thanks to that
I know now that I'm not gay," Greg looked down at the table. "Maybe that's why I panicked, you know, after the kiss."
Harry was disappointed, but tried his best not to let that show. After all, it wasn't Greg's fault that he wasn't gay.
"I'm sorry," Greg finished softly.
"Hey, no big," Harry replied, pushing his own feelings aside. Then he thought about what he'd said, and frowned. He really was hanging around American's way to much. "And nothing you need to be sorry for, except maybe avoiding me. You know, you could have just told me."
"I know, and I should have, but...," Greg's voice trailed off. "I don't know, I guess I was afraid of your reaction."
"What? You were afraid I'd act like a rejected flaming queen or something?"
Greg grinned, which made Harry feel better.
"No. But the reason I chose Warrick to talk to in the first place was because I don't work with him anymore, so even if he decided to tease me about it..."
Harry grinned. Greg made it sound like Warrick and the people Greg worked with was ten years old.
"...I wouldn't be around him all the time."
"Yeah, but he could've told the people you do work with," Harry pointed out.
Greg swallowed hard, clearly not having thought about that.
Harry grinned. "Relax, I'm only teasing you."
Greg glared, though it wasn't really an impressive glare, and certainly didn't come anywhere near a Snape glare. Hell, Harry thought, it didn't even come close to a Hermione glare, and even she'd never made it to Snape's league.
Pain tried to rise at that thought, but Harry pushed it aside, and when it worked Harry almost smiled. This was the first time he'd been able to think about his old life without practically falling to pieces. It was
a little strange that thinking of Snape would make him sad, though. After a moment, Harry decided that perhaps it was because despite everything Snape reminded him of a simpler time. A time when he was just a little boy, the time before he'd become a killer.
"I know Warrick, he wouldn't have teased you or told someone who would."
"I think I knew that," Greg replied. "Like I said, I just panicked."
Harry opened his mouth, but decided whatever it was that had made Greg start to question his own sexuality wasn't really any of Harry's business.
"So," Harry asked another question. "You headed home?"
"Finally," Greg said happily, then frowned. "It's been a long night. These days it feels like they're all long nights."
Harry could understand that, even if he didn't work with Greg, thanks to his job with Marty, he knew that crime scene investigators were kept pretty busy these days.
The waitress finally came to take his order, and when Harry looked back to Greg he saw the other man was almost finished.
"Look, I need sleep," Greg said. "So, I've got to go, but we're okay. Okay?"
"So, no more avoiding you, or by extension Warrick."
Harry smiled. "Warrick doesn't know you've been avoiding him because of me, Warrick's still out of town."
"What's he doing?"
Harry shrugged. He knew, but he also knew that Greg didn't know about the supernatural part of life.
"I don't know, working on a case, I guess," Harry said trying to be vague. "Hopefully, he'll be back soon."
After that Greg left, and Harry ate his breakfast, feeling better then he had since the kiss. He was, of course, disappointed that Greg wasn't gay, but Harry couldn't exactly hold that against him, especially since Harry couldn't be sure if he wanted Greg for Greg or just to show Penn that he wasn't pining for the vampire anymore.
Harry almost sighed. There was a part of Harry that still harbored a crush on the vampire, but mostly he wanted to show Penn that he was over him. He thought if he could manage that Penn might move back in with them, and crush aside, Harry really missed the vampires company.~ * ~ * ~
Once again, Xander was leaving Sunnydale heading back to Las Vegas, and unlike his last trip, this one had him in a mess again. Of course, the reason the last trip hadn't screwed him up was probably because he hadn't visited any of the gang, he'd gone straight to Buffy's grave, and then back to Las Vegas.
And this time his bad feelings were caused by one person.Willow,
Xander thought sadly.
Last year, they'd started to mend their fractured friendship, but after her phone call, there was nothing left to mend. Willow had burned away the few pieces that had remained, and now even if Xander wanted to he wouldn't have been able to put them back together again. And, to be honest, he really didn't want to, he wanted nothing to do with Willow Rosenberg, despite his happiness over seeing Buffy alive and well again, which was pretty much all thanks to Willow.
Xander frowned. Buffy had said she was fine, they'd even shared a group hug, but Xander wasn't sure. However, he couldn't exactly argue with her, she was the one, after all, who'd just spent several months dead, she had to know what she was feeling better than he did. At least everything had gone smoothly, and there didn't seem to be any adverse affects from the spell itself.
Okay, not everything had gone smoothly, thanks to a demon biker gang, Buffy had been forced to dig her way out of the grave. Xander would feel bad about that for the rest of his life, but they'd honestly thought the spell failed when one of the bikers broke the magical urn. So, instead of trying to stay near the grave, they'd ran to save themselves sure that the spell had failed. Still aside from that glitch everything seemed to have gone well, and while something about Buffy's behavior niggled at the back of his mind, she seemed fine.
The biggest source of confusion for him was Spike. The Spike he'd been around this trip back was almost nothing like the Spike he remembered from high school. And from what he'd been told, mostly by Dawn, he'd thought Spike of all "people" would be glad to see Buffy back, instead he acted like bringing Buffy back was the worst thing they could have done.
Xander did he best to ignore his own guilty feelings about that. After all, Buffy looked good, and said she was fine, so there wasn't anything he needed to feel guilty about.
Of course, Spike weirdly enough had made a few valid points. For example, Xander suspected he was right about Willow's reasoning for not telling the vampire about her plan to bring Buffy back. Because Spike was a vampire he probably wouldn't care if someone he cared about came back not exactly right.
Xander almost smiled. Apparently, even for all her faults, Willow had cared about whether or not Buffy came back right. He could give her credit for that even though he couldn't give her credit for anything else.
He also suspected that was also why she hadn't wanted Giles to know about her plan. Giles was a wiser man than Xander, and Xander was starting to suspect that Giles would have somehow managed to keep Willow from even attempting the spell. On the other hand, Willow was right everything had turned out fine, so maybe, just maybe, she'd been right to go behind his back.
That afternoon, before he started back to Las Vegas, he'd watched Buffy leave the Magic Box, and then he'd pulled Willow aside. By that point, it wasn't something he'd wanted to do, but something he accepted he had to do.
"I don't want to speak to you again," Xander said, after they'd moved away from the others. To his surprise, she'd looked stunned.
"But it worked," she said, as though that made everything okay. "Buffy's fine, she came back okay."
the point," Xander replied. "You said some... You know what? Forget it, you'd probably just miss the point anyway," and he'd taken a vicious pleasure at her wide-eyed broken-hearted expression. Finally, he'd hurt her as much as she'd hurt him. Of course, that wasn't the point either, but it made him feel good in a very evil way.
"Just don't ever
call me again," he finished, and walked away, leaving Willow behind him with her face frozen in shock.
And even now, hours later, he just couldn't feel bad about hurting Willow. Though he knew not to long ago, Xander would have turned his car around, and rushed back to Sunnydale to assure Willow that everything was really okay. But everything was not okay, and as far as he was concerned things would never again be okay between the two of them.
The trouble was, there was a part of him that understood exactly where she'd been coming from. From what he could tell, she honestly believed bringing Buffy back was the right thing to do. And considering the evidence, he couldn't exactly disagree with her. Still Xander couldn't leave her feeling justified in her use of any means necessary to accomplish her goal.
Still things had worked out fine, which left Xander feeling as though something was wrong with him. He should be happy seeing Buffy alive and well again, but every time he looked at Buffy he couldn't help feeling as though her being back was a mistake. Even with clear evidence to the contrary, he kept thinking that he should have insisted Willow take the time to contact Buffy first.
Still Buffy looked fine, and seemed back to normal, despite the fact that something about the way she'd acted felt off. Of course, maybe Anya was right, and jet-lag from hell was really jet-lag from hell.
To his surprise, there had been one other person who hadn't seemed exactly thrilled about doing the spell. Tara, Willow's girlfriend, had backed up Xander's suggestion of trying to contact Buffy first, but Willow refused to listen to even her. Instead of thinking about their suggestion, Willow had laid another guilt-trip.
He'd been grateful for Tara's look of sympathy, but in the end they'd both went along with what Willow wanted. And for all intents and purposes it had worked, so Xander couldn't understand why he still felt like going along with Willow had been the wrong thing to do. And, he still wasn't exactly sure why his presence along with his candle lighting skills had been necessary. Now he'd probably never know for sure, because he wouldn't be asking Willow. Though, he supposed, he could ask Tara, but somehow he knew he wouldn't.
By the time Xander pulled into his driveway, he was considering calling Sunnydale just to make sure Buffy was still okay. Though he had stayed long enough to assure himself that Buffy was fine, and he knew that Giles would be coming back in a few days, so Buffy would have all the support she needed, but there was a part of Xander that felt like an ass for leaving her.~ * ~ * ~
That night, Xander was eating his traditional meal before bedtime. He'd had a long night at work, and almost skipped his meal in favor of sleep. Tonight he'd slept with two of his clients, ending the profitable relationships he had with them, which meant he needed two new clients if he was going to maintain his income.
As he finished his meal, he surprised himself when it hit him that he hadn't thought about Buffy or Willow since walking in the house after returning from Sunnydale.I should call
, Xander thought as he put his plate in the sink. Just to make sure Giles is really coming.Tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always tomorrow
, Xander's inner voice sang tiredly, and Xander decided that calling Sunnydale could wait until tomorrow.
He was almost out of the kitchen when he heard something shatter, and then a scream. It didn't sound like the scream of anyone he knew.
Xander entered the living room, the front door was wide open, and Harry was on his ass against the door looking catatonic.
He looked out the door, there was a weirdly dressed, very old man doubled over several feet away.
"What the hell?"
The old man looked up, and aside from the coloring of his clothes, Xander realized that the clothing looked a lot like the clothing Harry had been wearing when he'd arrived in this reality.
"I don't know how he did this to me," the old man said slowly and painfully. "But he must face justice for his crimes."
"Huh?" Xander asked suddenly feeling alert and awake.
"He must return with me," the old man replied sounding slightly stronger. "He must stand trial."
Xander glanced back, Harry was still sitting on the floor looking catatonic.This is not good
, Xander thought to himself. The old man was slowly recovering, but Harry was still under the effects of whatever spell the man had cast.This man must be a light magic user
, Xander realized.
Sometime last year, while Xander had been dealing with other things, Harry had worked out why some magic affected him so badly, while other spells had little to no effect at all. It had to do with what was considered light and dark magic. According to Harry even the light magic in this reality was tainted with a certain amount of darkness, and the darkness extracted a price for any light magic directly from the magical user, which was where the pain came from.
Harry had started to work around that by trying to taint all his spells with just a little dark magic. Xander wasn't sure why, but Harry seemed amazed by how easy it was. According to Harry it was simply a matter of emotions, which didn't make sense to Xander, but seemed to work. For a while, after that revelation, Xander had kept a close eye on Harry, and finally had to accept that his friend was fine, whatever he was doing didn't have an adverse affect on him.
Xander had asked why this reality was darker, and Harry admitted he wasn't sure, but thought it was because of the Hellmouths scattered across this version of Earth. The biggest, and closest one being the Sunnydale Hellmouth, so Xander had suggested moving away.
Harry had shook his head in response. The Hellmouth effect, he'd said, was cumulative. Meaning it had built up in this reality over time, and while it would, no doubt, be worse the closer one got to a Hellmouth, one would never be able to completely escape the effects anywhere in this reality.
When Xander was honest with himself, that bit of information worried him. It didn't bode well for the future of magic in this reality.
Xander brought himself out of his thoughts, and realized that the strange man was looking better by the second.
Xander frowned. He understood law and order, and most of the time agreed with it. But the Harry here and now was not the same person that had tortured and killed anymore then Penn was the same vampire.
Xander's resolve firmed. He wasn't going to let some old man on a hellfire and brimstone kick take his friend away to face whatever amounted to justice back in his old reality. From what little Harry had let slip, Xander knew going back would amount to an automatic death sentence for his friend, and as far as Xander was concerned that was unacceptable.
The old man got to his feet, and Harry was still out of it.
Xander didn't know what the hell to do.
"Stand aside, young man," the old man said. "You know it is the right thing to do."
"I don't know any such thing," Xander said stubbornly.
The old man's lips quirked.
"I'm afraid young Harry is to powerful to leave running around unchecked," the old man said, almost kindly, but Xander wasn't fooled. "What happens the next time he loses control? Are you willing to risk not only your life, but the lives of everyone around you?"
"He's fine," Xander said firmly. "He's been here almost two years, and hasn't had any
problems," which wasn't exactly true. There had been problems, but not problems of the losing control kind.
The old man raised his wand, and every instinct Xander had was telling him to move, but he couldn't leave Harry at the mercy of this man.
The old man shouted a word that Xander didn't understand, and suddenly there was a beam of light speeding toward him.
Xander blinked. The old man was on the ground again, and the ball of light had stopped inches in front of Xander's face.
"Not Harry," Lady Heather said from off to Xander's right, and the ball of light flickered and died.
He stepped forward, and could see her standing beside her car which was parked in the driveway. He wasn't sure, but thought she might actually be leaning against the car.
"Not that I'm not glad to see you, but why are you here?"
"I was coming to see you, actually," she replied. "You missed our last appointment."
"Oh," Xander said. "Ah, I had to go back to Sunnydale, I forgot to call you."
Lady Heather smiled. "Is everything all right?"
"Mostly," Xander replied. He really didn't want to talk about the things that weren't all right standing right here right now.
A sudden squawking sound brought Xander's attention back to the man on the ground just in time to see a very colorful bird swoop down, and lift the man into the air.
Xander's mouth dropped open. "Huh?" Xander couldn't believe his eyes. The bird was large, but not large enough to be lifting a normal sized man, and certainly not big enough to fly while carrying him.
"Interesting," Lady Heather said thoughtfully. "But I believe we should check on Harry."
Xander shook himself. She was right, but in watching the impossible scene, Xander had forgotten about Harry.
"Wait," Xander said as Lady Heather leaned down beside Harry.
"How do you know that's Harry?"
"You just told me."
Xander shook his head. "You knew before that."
"He came to me over the summer, I've been seeing him in my capacity as a therapist."
"Oh," Xander said. "Okay."
"I believe you had another question," Lady Heather said, as Harry jolted to life.
"You're a witch? How come I didn't know that?"
"Because I'm not a witch," Lady Heather said, and Xander had the feeling she wasn't going to tell him more.
"Not to be rude, but what are you then?"
"I'm a human who has certain clients that don't always pay with money."
Xander wondered exactly how that worked, but decided he'd pushed her far enough. After all, she'd just helped him, and demanding more information would be rude.
did he get here?" Harry asked, and Xander was glad that he was awake and aware. He also sounded okay.
"That I do not know," Lady Heather replied, and Xander had a nasty feeling crawl through his body. He had a very bad feeling about how the old man managed to get here.~ * ~ * ~
: I know some will be turned off by the fact that I've apparently made Greg straight, but I see gay!Greg so often that I decided to let the poor guy be straight (or at least not completely gay) for once. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with gay!Greg, I just decided to do something different. Sadly, in the end it probably won't matter either way anyway, because while I originally planned for Greg to have a bit of a part in season three, it's now looking like that's probably not going to happen.