On Angels WingsDisclaimer: I do not own the characters that I am about to play around with for my own amusement. They remain the property of their respective creators.
Authors Note: My thanks to Alkeni for beta-reading this fic.
Xander looked up from his quiet ongoing discussion with Giles when the sound of footsteps approaching caught his attention. To see Willow returning from the bathroom looking refreshed – having washed away the evidence that just minutes before she’d been crying on his shoulder over the fact that he wasn’t human anymore – yet at the same time still somewhat shell shocked by the revelations that he had died and come back as a guardian angel of sorts. He couldn’t really blame her and he couldn’t help but feel guilty about having upset his oldest friend so badly even though it had been unavoidable as she would have found out about him being a whitelighter sooner or later.
“Feeling better?” he asked softly as Willow sat back down beside him.
“A little,” Willow admitted, “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, that you’re a…”
“…whitelighter? It does take a bit of getting used to,” Xander replied with an understanding smile as in some ways he was still getting used to it himself. “But the important part to really remember is despite the fact that I’m not human, and despite the fact that I have only just begun to explore and understand my abilities, I’m still me. Still the same Xander you’ve known since we were five.”
Willow nodded but decided to change the topic slightly as she would need time to really come to terms with what Xander was now. “Giles did Buffy give you any idea when she’d get here,” she asked.
“She said she would be over as soon as she can find Faith,” Giles replied. “She’s probably asleep but I’m not sure where Faith stays so I couldn’t direct Buffy there.”
Xander frowned. “You don’t know where Faith’s staying,” he asked surprised and more than a little concerned that Giles didn’t appear to know where the dark haired, firebrand Slayer was staying. Giles looked a little embarrassed even as he shook his head in a negative. “She’s staying at Sunnydale Motor Lodge.”
“Good lord,” Giles replied in a mixture of alarm and concern knowing that places like motor lodge chalets and hotel rooms were exempt from the normal mystical access rules as they were places of temporary residence only. Vampires could barge into any room or chalet in such places without an invite as the barriers that would normally keep them out of a persons home were extremely weak to the point of being virtually non-existent. Combined with the generally seedy reputation the motor lodge had it was not a safe place for any young woman to be staying alone for a long period of time, even if they were a Vampire Slayer.
“I know the motor lodge has a sleazy reputation but is it really that bad a place to stay,” Willow asked confused as she looked back and forth between them wondering why they both seemed so concerned about where Faith was staying.
“It is but not because of anything the management has or hasn’t done but because the motor lodge chalets like hotel rooms are largely exempt from the mystical rules that prevent vampires from entering without permission,” Giles explained “as it’s a place of temporary occupancy the wards that would normally stop a vampire cold on the threshold are so weak that they might as well not be present at all.”
“You mean vampires can barge in whenever they feel like it,” Willow asked horrified at the thought and also realising whenever her parents went away to one of their frequent conferences and seminars how frighteningly vulnerable they were to vamp attack.
“Exactly which is why most field watchers have an amulet to counter the effect issued to them before they head out on a journey,” Giles replied grimly “thank you for telling me about Faith’s living conditions, Xander. I will have to do something about them or recommend that whoever Faith’s new Watcher is does something about it whenever he or she arrives. Even a Slayer needs a place where she can relax and unwind, having to be constantly alert in the way that Faith must in her current lodgings is not a good thing. Though I am curious how long have you known?”
“Only a few days,” Xander admitted, “I found out the same day that the Sisterhood of Jhe tried to open the Hellmouth. I didn’t tell you because well I thought you’d known before hand Giles considering you were acting as a temporary Watcher for Faith. Plus I have had a few other things on my mind.”
“I should have known,” Giles replied mentally kicking himself for what was an unforgivable oversight and dereliction of his duty of care as a Watcher – even on a temporary basis – for not realising the circumstances the younger slayer was living in and the danger she would be constantly in. It was no wonder that Faith was always so highly strung and prone to excessive violence, she had nowhere safe to call home, nowhere where she could sit back and relax and not have to worry about a vampire barging in looking for an easy meal. For anyone it was not a good situation to be in, let alone someone like Faith who gazed into the darkness every night. Silently he vowed that he would do something about the situation as soon as he was able to – even if he had to offer to allow Faith to stay here with him as he did have a spare bedroom.
“I think we’re all at fault somewhat Giles,” Xander said softly as he watched Giles mentally beating himself up, “none of us have really been paying Faith the attention she’s really needed. We’ve not exactly been fair to her.”
“What do you mean,” Willow asked frowning at him.
“I mean we’ve treated Faith almost exactly the same way we treat Buffy and that is not fair to Faith,” Xander told her, “she’s a completely different person to Buffy and unlike her doesn’t have a loving family background and has known only hardship and heartache her entire life and she’s never really had anyone there for her until she met her first Watcher – certainly not like how you and Jesse were always there for me whenever my folks were at their alcoholic worst,” he sighed softly as a thought occurred to him, “I’m going to have to go.”
“Go where,” Willow demanded.
“To see the Elders,” Xander answered, “I’m going to see if I can get them to agree to me taking Faith on as another charge alongside you and Buffy. If anyone needs a whitelighter to be there for her then Faith does.”
“Do you think they would agree to it,” Giles asked frowning thoughtfully. A whitelighter being assigned to Faith could be of great help to the troubled dark haired teen as it would mean there would be someone there for her, someone she could talk to whenever she needed to. And if that whitelighter was Xander then so much the better as to tell the truth Xander did have a very similar background to Faith having lived with abusive alcoholic parents and would thus be far more likely to understand what made her tick than anyone else. With such a background it was a miracle that Xander was the person he was and not someone as bad as or worse than his parents.
“I don’t know but we don’t loose anything by me going to ask,” Xander answered, “I’ll go and ask them now if you want.”
“But what about telling Buffy about the mayor and about you being a… you know,” Willow protested.
“I can deal with that,” Giles replied, “I know quite a bit about whitelighters, as I said before the Council has encountered Xander’s kind more than a few times over the centuries, I can answer any questions on that issue that Buffy and Faith might ask. Plus it might be a good idea if Xander isn’t here when we tell them that way we don’t risk Buffy or Faith trying to slay him before we can explain to them that he’s not a demon masquerading as Xander or hasn’t been turned into some new sunlight-proof breed of vampire. They’d fail to hurt him but it would still be something to avoid if at all possible.”
Willow bit her lip slightly while Xander looked at Giles. “Are you sure you’re alright with me leaving for a little bit,” he asked.
“I’m sure go on; this is too important leave telling Buffy and Faith about both the mayor and you to me.”
“Alright,” Xander replied standing up before looking at Willow, “I won’t be long Wills and watch closely I think you’ll like this,” he added the last part with a knowing smile before concentrating on going to see the Elders and orbing out.
“Whoa,” Willow breathed as before her eyes Xander was enveloped by a light blue aura before dissolving into a cloud of hundreds of glittering orbs of white-blue light that surged upwards like water and vanished through the ceiling the effect accompanied by a sound that was both musical and ethereal. “What was that?”
“It’s called orbing and it’s a kind of magical teleportation its one of the basic powers of a whitelighter,” Giles explained to the astonished looking redheaded witch who he could tell was building up a whole barrage of questions to ask him on the issue. Thankfully he was saved from the verbal onslaught by the sound of the doorbell. I’ll have to warn Xander that Willow is going to pester him with questions about his abilities,
he thought with a mental smile as he got up and answered the door.
“Hey Giles,” Buffy said in greeting as he opened the door to see both Slayers standing on his porch both looking more than a little puzzled at being called in the middle of a warm Saturday afternoon. “What’s up?” the blonde asked as Giles stepped aside and allowed them access to his abode.
“Something very serious Buffy,” Giles replied as he closed the door and led the two Slayers into the living room where Willow was waiting. Seeing Willow Buffy frowned and looked around as she’d seen Xander’s car outside but there didn’t appear to be any sign of Xander being here.
“Hi Willow, is Xander here I saw his car outside?” Buffy asked.
“Xander had to go and see to an important issue,” Giles explained as he gestured for the two slayers to sit down, “he’ll return shortly.”
“Oh,” Buffy replied guessing that Xander was walking to wherever he had to go and they’d simply missed him. “So what was with calling us?”
“Yeah what’s the problem,” Faith asked a little irritated at having been called since she’d just been sitting down to something to eat at the local McDonalds when Buffy had found her and told her that Giles needed to see them a.s.a.p. She wondered if another apocalypse was brewing as they’d only just finished dealing with the last one, this was after all the Hellmouth the demons and other nasties were always up to something.
After a moments thought she decided she didn’t mind if there was another apocalypse looming. It would give her an excuse to slay more of the things that went ‘grr’ in the night. Something that never ceased to give her a warm feeling inside as after so long being helpless, being a victim to suddenly have the power of a Slayer and born to fight was glorious. Yet strangely Buffy never seemed to quite see it that way as the older Slayer seemed to regard her abilities more as a curse than the gift they were, a fact that never ceased to puzzle the hell out of her. It had made her realise that for all of her impressive accomplishments since her calling Buffy was to put it mildly weird.
“Before I get down to explaining that there is something I need to tell you first, something about Xander that has a bearing both on our everyday lives and on what the problem facing us could really be,” Giles said bringing the attention of both Slayers to him.
“Xander what about him is something wrong is he hurt?” Buffy asked in concern wondering if Xander had gone out on his own against the demons again still seeking to prove that he wasn’t useless, wasn’t someone to push aside when danger threatened. Something he had already proven to her when he’d fearlessly gone up against and faced down Jack O’Toole and his posse of walking dead before diffusing a bomb that would have blown her and the rest of the Scoobies off the face of the planet and ensure the permanent opening of the Hellmouth. I will have to have some words with him,
she thought feeling extraordinarily guilty that Xander apparently still felt he had to prove his worth, prove that he was not useless tell him that he doesn’t have to prove himself anymore.
“There is nothing wrong with him Buffy nor is he hurt. It’s just, there is no easy way to say this so I’m just going to say it,” Giles replied, “we’ve learned today, me and Willow that despite appearances Xander isn’t human, not anymore.”
“What!” Buffy squeaked echoed a moment later by Faith. “Is he,” she swallowed nervously as she remembered how strange Xander had felt to her the last time she’d touched him, she’d put it down to exhaustion but was there more to it? Had the reaction of the slayer spirit inside of her been trying to tell her something about Xander? “Is he a demon?”
“No and nor is he a new sunlight-proof form of vampire,” Giles answered anticipating her next question “in fact he’s as far from being demonic as it is possible to be.”
“He’s a whitelighter.”
Buffy frowned. “What’s a whitelighter,” she asked.
“A whitelighter is basically a kind of guardian angel Buffy, a whitelighter is someone who’s died and been given a new life by a group of higher level light beings called the Elders…”
“Wait, wait boy toy’s dead,” a shocked, disbelieving Faith interrupted dark eyes wide as she stared at the Watcher.
“Dead and come back to life just not as a human. Though in everyway that matters, Xander is still Xander, still has his soul and everything he’s just not human now.”
“H…h…how, when did he d…die,” Buffy stammered feeling like someone had just punched her hard in the stomach and she was glad she was sitting down as if she’d been standing up she was sure she would have collapsed to her knees. Xander was dead
she’d always feared that something would happen to Willow or Xander as a result of them being involved in the slaying. It was why she’d tried a few times to push them both out of slaying with her though they were quite welcome to help with research – though Willow had become increasingly useful in the field in the last few months as her skills with magic improved she’d still worried about her getting hurt.
“Very recently as in a few days ago,” Giles explained a sympathetic look on his face, “apparently Jack O’Toole didn’t take kindly to Xander stopping him and his pals from blowing up the High School on commission from the Sisterhood of Jhe. Apparently after Xander defeated the others and intimidated Jack into deactivating the bomb Jack strangled him to death.”
“But I saw Xander just after that he was fine,” Buffy exclaimed in shock while also seething that Jack would do such a thing, it was fortunate for him that the zombie was already destroyed eaten by Wolf-Oz otherwise she would have permanently ended his undead life and she would not have been quick about doing it.
“He was already a whitelighter by then Buffy. The Elders after changing him into one apparently sent him back to us at the exact moment of his death but not before giving him some basic information on how to control his basic whitelighter abilities. They also made a request of him, a request that Xander carried out this morning which leads to the reason why I asked you both to come here.”
“So that’s what it was,” Buffy muttered recalling how Xander had felt well different when she’d put her hand on his shoulder as he disconnected the bomb from the fuel oil drum Jack and his cohorts had lashed it to how the slayer spirit within her had gone quiet no longer compelling her to find and kill creatures of darkness. At the time she’d thought it was because of exhaustion but now it was clear that she had somehow on some fundamental, instinctual level realised what Xander was.
“What what was B,” Faith asked confused even as she continued to try and wrap her head around the fact that Xander wasn’t a human anymore. The fact that someone undead lowlife had killed him enraged her no end and she vowed silently to find Jack O’Toole and teach the sentient zombie why it was not a good idea to mess with a Slayer’s friends right before she ended him and she was sure B would gladly help her. Yet at the same time she was relieved that Xander was still with them just that he was now an angel of sorts, she couldn’t help but think it suited him given the hero complex he seemed to have.
“When I found Xander in the boiler room he felt different, made the Slayer in me go quiet in away that nothing has ever done when I touched him. I thought I was just imagining things after the fight with the Sisterhood and the Hellmouth beast but now I must have sensed that he was this whitetorcher thing.”
“Whitelighter not whitetorcher Buffy,” Willow said speaking for the first time with a chuckle at Buffy’s predictable mangling of the English language.
“Whatever so what did these Elders want Xander to do? What wiggy thing has he discovered that we need to deal with?”
“Something very worrying especially as the Elders indicated that it is a very severe threat to the safety of the world,” Giles admitted before beginning to explain about Mayor Wilkins and how he’d apparently lived and been the mayor of Sunnydale since the towns founding a hundred years ago.
“How could someone live that long,” Buffy demanded “is he a vampire or a demon?”
“No he is not a vampire nor is he likely to be a demon,” Giles replied.
“A warlock,” Faith suggested recalling some of the things that Laura had taught her during the time between her becoming a Slayer after the death of Kendra at the hands of Drusilla and Laura’s own torturous death at the cloven hands of Kakistos. She felt an inward stab of pain at the knowledge of what had happened to Laura, she’d been the first person to be genuinely decent to her and a vampire had taken her away, something she would always hate them for.
“That would be my best guess Faith.”
“But Laura told me that while warlocks are undeniably evil they don’t live much longer than normal people no matter how many powers they steal.”
“Warlocks steal powers?” Willow asked shocked and horrified that anyone would do such a monstrous thing.
“Yes they do Willow,” Giles replied grimly, “warlocks are corrupted magic users who are gain their powers by stealing them from a witch be they natural born like Amy was before her transformation into a rat or a practitioner like yourself killing the witch in the process,” seeing the redhead about to ask a question he pre-empted her “I’ll explain the difference later, Willow. But you are right Faith normally warlocks don’t live much longer than the normal people they appear to be however every now and again you will get one who makes a deal with dark forces to gain a longer life.”
“So what does he want,” Buffy asked concerned.
“I do not know,” Giles replied, “though I very much doubt it is simply immortality as while it would make him potentially extremely powerful and undeniably dangerous it would not make him an apocalypse level threat which is what the Elders implied he is to Xander. What the threat is though they did not tell him either because they do not know themselves because of mystical interference from the Hellmouth or because they want us to work it out on our own.”
“So research time,” Willow asked eyes practically glowing at the thought of doing research while inwardly Buffy groaned. Unlike the redhead she absolutely hated doing research though she understood why it was necessary as you couldn’t always take down the Big Bad with a stake or a sword – though it made things so much easier when you could – sometimes they needed a very specific thing to vanquish them. A glance at Faith showed her sister Slayer felt the same way about research though like her Faith would confess that it did have its uses.
“Research time,” Giles agreed, “once Xander returns I will get my keys and we can go over to the school library to begin our work.”
“Where did he go anyway,” Buffy asked curious but before Giles could answer an ethereal, musical tone filled the air and a stream of shining white-blue orbs came through the ceiling and coalesced into a cloud that in an instant transformed into the very person she’d just been asking about. Before she even realised it she was on her feet and moving over to Xander as the blue glow around him vanished as he finished materialising. She immediately pulled him into a hug and buried her head in his shoulder, as before she immediately felt the slayer spirit within her react to the contact. Felt the ever present urge to hunt down and kill the vampires and other creatures of the night fade almost to nothing as the spirit relaxed in the waves of peace and serenity that seemed to come from Xander.
To say Xander was startled to be pulled into a hug by Buffy the moment he finished materialising was an understatement. The hug tightened and he faintly heard Buffy sniffling slightly against his shoulder, clearly Giles had done what he’d said he was going to do and told Buffy and Faith about him. With no idea what to do, what to say now he returned the hug putting his arms around Buffy for a few moments until the Slayer pulled back…
…and promptly slapped him around the back of the head.
“Ouch what was that for,” he asked reaching up and rubbing where she’d hit him.
“For getting yourself killed you big idiot,” Buffy replied scowling at the taller teen. “Damn it Xander you should have called for backup.”
“Why you wouldn’t have listened and even if you had you and Faith were both needed to stop the Sisterhood opening up the Hellmouth,” Xander answered making Buffy wince at the suggestion that she wouldn’t have listened to him, a suggestion that she guilty acknowledged had a very strong basis in fact. “I don’t regret my actions one bit and while the dying thing was a bit of a bummer I still choose to come back and help you.”
“You choose to be a whitetorcher.”
Xander smirked. “Whitelighter,” he corrected with a chuckle, “and yes it was my choice. When I died the Elders appeared and offered me a choice. Continue on the heavenly realms or be sent back to Earth as a whitelighter, while the former was tempting I just couldn’t walk away so I agreed and here I am. And I’m charged with looking after and helping you, Willow and now Faith as well.”
“The Elders agreed then,” Giles said.
“They did though they were shocked to learn that Faith is a Slayer,” Xander replied before frowning, “they also had no knowledge that Kendra was the Slayer before Faith. Apparently the Powers That Be never told the Elders about happened in the Masters cave, something they were not pleased to learn when I told them.” He shook his head. “Politics happens even with higher beings apparently.”
“So boy toy what do you mean by me being a charge of yours,” Faith asked still trying to wrap her head around the fact that Xander wasn’t human anymore. She got concurring nods from Willow and Buffy as they’d both been wondering what Xander meant by charges.
“It means I’ve been assigned to assist you,” Xander explained, “I’m to provide guidance and support when Watchers cannot as no offence Giles but the Watchers Council doesn’t know everything.”
“None taken,” Giles replied smiling as unlike some Watchers he didn’t pretend that the Council knew everything there was to know about the various supernatural worlds and beings. Though they had been around for a great many centuries they had barely scratched the surface of what was out there, it was one of the reasons why all field Watchers – like he technically no longer was – kept official diaries which were turned over to the Council for inclusion in the achieves upon death.
“I can also provide guidance on magic,” Xander continued when he saw Willow smile and her eyes light up, “and heal any injuries that are sustained even if they would otherwise be fatal. The one thing I cannot do however is fight demons for you, though I have been granted a bit more leeway than most whitelighters the Elders have made it clear that I’m not to fight except in extreme situations and only ever to defend myself or my charges and each time I would have to justify it to the Elders. That doesn’t mean however that I cannot help train you in how to deal with demons that use more active combat methods.”
“So you can’t patrol anymore,” Buffy asked.
“No I can’t,” Xander admitted sounding a little annoyed but accepting of the reality of the rules that he was now bound to follow, “but if anyone gets hurt you just have to call for me and I’ll orb right to you.”
“What did you mean by active combat methods,” Faith asked.
“What he means is not all demons use brute force in the way vampires and most of the demons you’ve both encountered here on the Hellmouth,” Giles explained. “There are some kinds of demons that use magic either to grant wishes – like in the case of vengeance demons like what Anya used to be – or have magic based combat powers.”
“Such as,” Buffy asked frowning as she hated coming up against demons that cheated and used magic. Though thankfully they seemed to be few and quite far between at least in her experience as they could be a right pain in the ass to deal with.
“Fireballs, occasionally plasma balls and most commonly energy balls,” Giles answered, “all of which are extremely deadly if they strike you, however if you are fast and agile enough you can dodge them and if skilled enough in magic yourself can deflect them back. But we have wandered off topic we need to get back to figuring out just what Mayor Wilkins is and why the Elders believe him to be such a threat to the world.”
“Sorry Giles,” Buffy replied looking sheepishly at her Watcher. “We best head to the library then.”
“Indeed. I’ll just get my set of keys then we’ll head over and begin our investigation.”
“Joy,” Faith muttered not looking forward to spending hours pouring through books trying to find out exactly what Wilkins could be up to. “Hey why don’t you guys start on the research while me and B head over to Willie’s bar.”
“That’s a good idea,” Buffy agreed smiling at her sister-in-arms, it would be more fun getting information out of Willie than wading through books and tomes. After all if there was something bad going down in Sunnydale then Willie tended to know about it from one of the many vamps, demons and general lowlife scum who frequented his bar.
“It is,” Giles agreed after a moment even as he retrieved his set of keys to the school from a drawer, “very well go but for goodness sakes be discrete about it. Whatever he is up to we don’t want to tip Wilkins off that we might be onto him.”
“We’re always discrete come on B,” Faith replied getting up and heading for the door. Buffy followed and in moments the two Slayers had disappeared out into the sun drenched streets of Sunnydale. Giles sighed and shook his head muttering under his breath about the dubious ideal of discretion and subtlety subscribed to by Slayers and how it was different to how everyone else on the planet would describe said terms.
“We should go ourselves Giles,” Xander pointed out breaking the silence that had fallen on the premises. “Come on I’ll drive us there.”
“Then lead on.”
Xander nodded and began leading the way out of the house, retrieving his own keys from the pocket of his jeans. Giles and Willow followed all of them hoping their search would not be in vain and that they would discover just what Mayor Richard Wilkins was really up to here in Sunnydale. Once they knew they would be able to begin working out a plan of action to stop him though none of them believed stopping him would be in anyway easy as nothing apocalypse worthy ever was though they knew they had to try as there was nothing else to do.
~~~///~~~Authors Note: Well that’s chapter two done, next chapter will move into the events of Bad Girls and the first appearance of Wesley. I know it seems like Buffy and Faith accepted the reality of Xander being a whitelighter too easily but they’ve not really had time to think about it, its not had time to really settle in on them as Giles gave them something else to think about and focus on i.e. the issue of Mayor Wilkins longer than normal life. I have some thoughts on how to have Buffy and Faith react when its all had time to settle in next chapter.