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Rogue Knight

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Summary: Being pulled from his home, friends and family Xander Harris returns to Sunnydale two years later to a changed world.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Star Wars > Xander-CenteredSilentbobfoleyFR18346,412115615,65231 May 1310 May 14No

Chapter Two

Chapter 2

Drifting in mid system the YT-1000 continued to scan the area around itself, the system of Derra IV had once been the site of a large scale ambush on a supply convoy heading to the old Rebel base on Hoth.

Jumped by a combination of Imperial Star Destroyers and heavy fighter support the majority of the Alliance ships had been hit by the Imperials and wiped out in short order. It was this battle where a Corellian freighter had picked up an unknown Alliance pilot that had gone EVA, and now two years later that pilot had returned to the point that he had arrived in this universe.

While old the Reaper had a powerful and relatively up to date scanner system, courtesy of the special operations division that had once kept the old starship in good condition. That was before it had been crippled in what Xander could only suppose was a pretty nasty fight, fortunately this meant that he would have a better chance of finding his way to the opening that threw him here. He’d already picked up a few more transmissions that could only have come from Earth and they were getting stronger the further into the system he went.

As he slid from hyperspace the ship’s shields and weapons went into automatic standby, if there was anything in the area he wanted them to know they he wasn’t an easy target by any means. While the four turret cannons were only really useful against fighters or patrol craft, his torpedo armament what he had of it anyway would hurt corvettes and gunships in short order.

But anything bigger would be able to destroy his ship in seconds. The shields and jammers were at least one generation behind the rest of the newly installed technology, but it was better than nothing considering what he was about to do.

Unwanted memories came to the fore as he continued his cruise through the system, while a lot of those first few days were missing from his memory some things stayed in his mind. The cold feeling of space leeching the heat from his body while his oxygen supply dwindled, turning dull and stuffy as the limited rebreather began to fill with carbon dioxide.

As he had come to consciousness he’d noticed that he was drifting weightless somehow, with a fragmented memory he had no idea where he was, who he was or what was going on all he did know was that he was in a world of trouble.

Worse yet was watching as ships both large, small and their fighter escorts were brutally massacred, Imperial Star Destroyers had jumped the convoy as it had passed through firing on the thinly defended ships.

He could vividly remember the green and red of turbolaser fire shatter nebulous shields and non-existent armour, breaking the backs of freighters or transports spilling equipment, supplies, fuel, water and bodies of the crews into space. Closing his eyes Xander forced the memories back into the depths of his mind, keeping company with the other atrocities he’d seen and returned to his task.

Staring out of the cockpit he realised that he had arrived at the same location the battle had taken place in, he stared at the scattered debris as it stood out against the backdrop of the gas giant close by. Most consisting of pieces of the older cargo ships and a number of Alliance fighters with a very few TIE chassis mixed in.

The fleet had stood no chance against Imperials and the survivors were either very good or very lucky. Several later members of Rogue Group had been those few survivors their numbers expanding the Rogues into a full squadron, but the majority of the crews and supplies had been destroyed in mere minutes causing delays and shortages at Hoth.

Sighing he flinched as he saw a few bodies in amongst the wreckage, evidently the Empire had decided against retrieving the dead from the Rebel fleet possibly leaving them as a warning to anyone that crossed their path within or without the system. A few signals of weak and practically dead beacons from survival pods or from the Imperial probe left behind were all that came up on the usual energy scans, he ignored the Rebel beacons knowing that the crews of any of them would have been long dead by now and concentrated on trying to find the way home.

He’d been one of the lucky ones when the rescue group had appeared.

Climbing slowly up out of the orbital plane he managed a full scan of the system after a few hours at sublight speed, the local planets were basic and uninteresting with only the one inhabitable world that neither Alliance nor imperial had bothered to station forces on. The scans continued on as Xander calculated a long stretching trajectory, including if necessary a few in-system hyperjumps.

But he had an odd feeling that he wouldn't need it too much if he was right about it's location.

With less than ten minutes to go he found it, having tracked news and entertainment broadcasts to a location he continued into the depths of the inner system. Passing by dead planets and gas giants alike, before finally settling into orbit of the planet of Derra Four itself. Here the debris was even thicker and heavier due to it being the original ambush site, however that meant little as Xander looked within the orbital plane directly at the wormhole ahead of him. Checking the scanners he found nothing on them but with bare minutes to go he had to make the choice here and now.

“Alright, here we go.” Xander took a deep breath, “Scythe lock down back there we’re going in.”

Gripping the control stick Xander accelerated the Reaper forward towards the pulsing energy field, the scanners still couldn’t pick up any major energy signals although the visual recorders could see the light emitted from it.

Moments later the forward cockpit collided with the anomaly and pushed forwards with barely any resistance, as it passed the half way mark the entire vessel seemed to accelerate as if being sucked into the ‘wormhole’. Once the freighter disappeared the light of the anomaly faded slowly until it simply faded a bare hour later, precisely forty eight hours after its appearance closing the gateway between the two universes.

For the pilot of the vessel time stood still around him, stretching the single moment into countless more as he travelled through the boundaries between the universes. Time meant nothing to the two inhabitants of the vessel as they passed through the ether, barely noticing the changes that the very energy of the transfer was making to their ship, their cargo and themselves.

For an all too brief time they were outside of time and space seeing something terrifying yet immeasurably beautiful that made up the levels and worlds of the multiverse before crashing through the barrier on the other exiting a mirror to the anomaly at Derra Four.

Still barely moving the freighter slid through and into the universe of Alexander Harris' birth with barely a ripple allowing the pilot to coast the vessel to a halt, silence rang through the interior of the craft as Xander let out a breath he had been holding. Never in his years fighting demons or Imperials had he ever seen or experienced anything like that before, his unconscious state had precluded him from seeing anything when he arrived. Even if he had been the memory loss and gradual return might still have those experiences locked away.

Sighing he looked out at the stars, already the navcomputers accompanied by the R2 unit were looking at the stars hoping to find one or more of the local constellations that Xander remembered. While only a half dozen to a dozen were really clear in his mind it let the modified, modern age computers crunch the numbers while looking for the stars he knew. It was helped by the fact that only a few stars could allow life to flourish at the distance and type of world that Earth was, as it was while they were plentiful in most sectors of the Corusca galaxy very few could be confirmed in the Milky Way.

However given the location that he left the other universe he expected that the Sun and it's planets would be somewhere close by, maybe even within a few light years. Although he guessed he was lucky that he hadn't ploughed his ship into Sunnydale itself, but then again he guessed that whatever had allowed him to come home was watching what was going on. That or he had been really, really lucky.

It took a few moments for it to hit the young man, he'd made it through to the other side of the portal.

He was home.

It also meant that he really was completely cut off from the Rebel Alliance and his friends in Hoth Wing, there would be no more bull sessions, no more pranks with Wes and sometimes Hobbie depending on the other man's mood.

No conflict with Imperial fighters or ground troops where they would escape by the skin of their teeth, no galactic war, no massive battles between fleets. For the first time in years he wasn't on the run or facing death at the end of a laser blast or torpedo from a Imperial ship, everything he had grown to understand and believe was now gone.

Slowly spinning the ship Xander brought the Reaper around to face the exact opposite to its original bearing, as he expected the anomaly was long gone and he would be unable to use it again unless he could find another way to open it. Sighing he finally believed in his heart what his mind was already telling him, the way back was closed and he was cut off from those he had fought and lived besides.

He was alone in deep space with no way of returning to those people that had meant as much to him as anybody he knew, sighing he returned the Reaper to its original position and waited for the navicomp to finish its work.

Scythe bleeped from up the corridor a small display on the piloting console translating the droid's speech into aurebesh, a quick look told Xander what his R2 unit was trying to ask him.

*Bleet-Tweep*

Are you ok?

"Yeah just feel unpleasantly like being drunk" Xander replied by calling down the hall.

*Bleet-Beep-Tweep-Blat *

What's wrong with being drunk?

"Ask a glass of water."

The droid didn't reply as it tried to find the logic in his owner's response, but gave up trying to understand the human's mind before continuing its primary directive looking for any local life giving stars. Xander's experience and knowledge had laid the foundation for his search, with an odd coincidence had led to both his home world and most of the races in the Corusca galaxy to use the same classification to star types.

This meant that both his and the ship's computers were scanning the closest star emissions for the same type as Corellia, Coruscant, Alderaan and millions of other inhabited worlds orbited around.

Smiling and with Scythe busy he headed into the rear of the vessel towards the crew quarters, passing the droid's socket he walked into the still wide open room. Inside he moved the few bits and pieces not yet put away into empty cabinets and draws, he wasn't sure if they had left things out for him to put away where he wanted them or that whichever Rogue had been sequestered to find him the necessary bits and pieces he needed had simply been too lazy or busy to do so.

Picking up several of the sheets and other paraphernalia he stashed them in the empty cubbyholes underneath the opposite bunk, twin blankets and a pillow sat on the already made bed so he could lay down.

Completing the tidy up he remembered the bottle of Whyren's on the clothing pile, gently settling it on the bed he pushed the rest of the clothes into a cupboard and closed the door ignoring them for now. Unwrapping the bottle he held the whisky bottle firmly while pulling a small note from the label.

Hey Kid.
Well if you're reading this then you managed to find your way back home, I know that right now you are still thinking that you should have turned around and come back. Well forget that right now, every one of us would kill to be in your shoes. Heading home with a ship full of gear that we could use or sell to make a lot of money and that's why we're behind you on this.

You could easily run into Corellian space or Yaga Minor or any number of a thousand worlds and settle down, but I know you as well as anyone can do and I know you are heading home. Believe me when I say that I'd like to have been with you when you get home to meet your friends, but I've got a job to do here as much as you have to do there.

The Rogues will remember you as will the other squadrons; it’s probable that by the time you've got back to Earth that the rest of us have been tapped for another mission even on leave. We'll miss you flying with us but always remember that once you are a Rogue you always will be. The bottle was an idea from Wes and Hobbie, apparently Wes owed you two bottles but didn't pay up before you went. So this bottle is from elsewhere, I'll get our erstwhile compatriot to pay me back some time.

There’s a lot we didn’t get to talk about considering everything we’ve been through together but in the end none of us ever really get that chance, when you get back to the Scooby Gang don’t let them go and even though I don’t know them really I know enough.

Good Luck Xander and May The Force Be With You.
Your Brother
Wedge Antilles.

Settling the letter down he looked at the bottle properly, it was a real bottle of Corellia's finest something difficult and expensive for people like Wedge to get hold of. He and others usually got by on a version that came from one of the Corellian colonies, those few where Rebel Alliance pilots weren't in as much danger if they landed.

The bottle he had was one as expensive as any he'd seen and Xander high doubted it was just one that Wedge had to hand. Attached to the letter was a single piece of flimsy with a picture of the Rogues the day of the jump to Bakura, most of the survivors of Endor had come back while others attached to them hadn't.

“Give my love to Syal Wedge, I hope you find her.” He whispered to himself.

Stepping across to one of the cabinets he opened up a hidden and unlocked electronic safe either added by the original owners, or maybe the Alliance spec ops team that had kept the ship for the last decade or so. Checking it over he managed to modify the safe's locking code and sealed the bottle as well as his money pouch inside. A few minutes later he found himself laying down on the bed and rereading the note, while it didn’t make him feel that much better overall it did mean that at a part of him was still back with his friends.

A plan had been put together by himself, Wedge and Tycho in regards to his disappearance from the Alliance, a few weeks after his ‘insertion’ his first scheduled signal wouldn’t arrive. Another few weeks would pass and nothing, after three months Wedge would approach General Cracken and inform him that Xander had gone missing and should be considered MIA.

Considering the sensitivity of the intelligence service, he would be written up as lost in a mission and possibly a POW or otherwise lost, sooner or later there would be a service and Lieutenant Alexander Harris would cease to exist within the Alliance and that would be that.

For Xander the last two days had been hectic, combined with the largest battle he had ever fought, then travel to another fight and back again he was feeling tired beyond belief. The few days of rest he’d had on the Dauntless had barely taken the edge off his nerves, so slowly and gently he fell asleep on his bed.

A few minutes later Scythe approached the door with news that his pilot would need to know, scanning that the human was in a deep sleep the R2 unit simply shut the hatch to the quarters and rolled back to his slot.

The fact that they may have found Earth could wait until the morning.
****

High Earth Orbit
March 1st 2000

A flash of light heralded the arrive of a small black hued transport vessel high above Earth orbit, pseudomotion seeming as if the freighter was decelerating hard as if dropped from hyperspace. Within the cockpit Xander Harris pulled back on the throttle causing the ship to come to a relative stop above the planet, scans had begun from the second he had dropped from light speed looking for the few stellar landmarks he could remember.

The first scan was a close range one around the only habitable planet the scan had found, one planet much like Corellia and other planets with its range of climates from ice at the poles to the sand deserts of the equator.

“Seventy percent water, huge land masses.” A feeling swelled in his chest and stomach, “Humanoid type life, limited space technology in orbit. One Moon.”

Checking the next set of data he brought up the information he was looking for, the system was devoid of heavy industry in orbit or close by. Nine planets around a G type star and a good sized asteroid belt.

He slumped into his seat, this system had been a bare light year from where he had dropped into, so becoming the first of the G type stars in local space to be checked and now he found that he was home. Scrabbling with the comms system he began picking up planetary signals that spoke in a very familiar accents and languages.

“And we are on the last run up to the Summer Olympics here in Sydney Australia where the weather as always is sunny and warm giving us a fantastic climate for this hotly anticipated sports extravaganza.”

“Prime Minister Blair today commented….”

“The race for the Presidency today took another turn as candidates George W Bush and…”

“Scythe, I’m taking us down. Hold on back there.” Xander grinned excitedly as he tightened his restraints, throwing power into the engines he began his descent into the upper atmosphere. Speeding into the far thicker soup of a planetary body he activated the ship’s deflector shielding, angling it to a specific formation allowing the vessel to enter an atmosphere without blowing up or causing a hot flare to show up around the shield bubble.

Slipping through the atmosphere its shields and inherent small cross-section allowed the freighter to penetrate any defensive scans the planet below could throw up against it, hurtling through the upper ionosphere he began shedding speed allowing the Reaper to slow. The already close to invisible craft killed its running lights and all but the very minimum of scans needed to continue to fly, at the dead of night the craft was invisible completely to the eyes of the world.

Xander took a breath before letting it out slowly the scans were right on the money, as he took the freighter around the planet in a high atmospheric run he could make out areas that he recognised from his school years.

As the ship began its drop from space he noticed the large and bulky shape of the Hubble Telescope and for a second considered buzzing across it's lens at close range, to eclipse the scans it was taking of the local cosmos but shaking his head he decided against it. Not only was it likely to blow his cover if anybody did manage to track him, but it was wholly unfair on the poor bastards that had to keep the telescope going.

The Reaper slipped through the atmosphere and running high over the northern hemisphere, passing over an oddly shaped island off the of coast of the mainland that could only have been the original home of his first mentor. Continuing past the European mainland he crossed the Atlantic still scanning as he approached the east coast of the United States.

He would have to be very, very careful as he passed across the sky of his home country, the American government was paranoid at the best of times. A saucer shaped craft running at several dozen times the speed of sound would have any number of people scrambling to find out what it was. The UFO crazies throughout the US as well as abroad would try to find out who and what the ship was and where it had come from, hence his moving very high and very fast so that no-one should notice him unless they were very lucky or very good.

“Ok Scythe give me a heading, I need somewhere close to LA.”

A second later a map of the west coast of the United States appeared on the navigation readout, the location of LA a single red dot on the far side of the map. "You know just because you think millions of times faster than me doesn't mean you have show off, good work though.”

As they closed in on the West Coast Scythe began a heavy scan of the local area, he didn’t want to appear too close to LA as he ran the risk of being sighted by an aircraft going into or out of LAX. If he landed too far he would have problems getting to LA proper.

Hovering almost silently, high above the city the tiny starship continued to look for a decent place to hide for the foreseeable future. A bleep from behind him sent a series of numbers and letter across the readout in front of him, a heading for a quiet and out of the way warehouse building cum factory on the very outskirts of the nearest town.

Checking the area around it the factory seemed empty, abandoned and untouched for a long time. There was no sign of any life in the area and the overgrown foliage was already encroaching on the brick and concrete buildings. Making sure of the size and bulk of the structure. he made sure that the building and the entrance itself was big enough to allow him to land and secure the ship from prying eyes. A shame it had been so far from the original choice nearer to home but he needed the location and the solitude.

“Alright then, nice and easy. A full load does not an easy landing make.”

*Tweek-whoop-eek.*

“Hey I’m a damn good pilot thank you so much.”

*Twee-tweek-whoop.*

“What do you mean not from where you were sitting, if I was so bad how come I came out of Endor with such a high kill count?”

*Wheet*

“Luck had nothing... ok it had some to do with it but some of it was pure skill, I learnt from the best even with a pain in the ass astromech riding in the back. Now shut up and let me land this thing before we’re seen ok, or would you prefer to ride outside.”

Silence

“Thought so.”

The freighter dropped like a stone its ion engines cutting out as the aging repulsorlifts cut in mere meters from the ground, the high pitched sound driving away small animals and any predators that had made their home in the old abandoned building. Skimming close to the ground the saucer shaped vessel slipped between the two massive open doors barely inches from roof, floor and walls before settling down on its landing gear.

Engines and repulsors shut down completely allowing the silence of the early morning to settle around the now inhabited building, the last sounds of the ship’s reactor systems dying down as the pilot set his ship to standby mode.

“Crap that was close.”

Silence

“Alright Scythe stop sulking, we’re down and we’re hidden. Now it’s your turn.”

*Wheet*

“I need you to hack into the local land listings and banks and have this building and land assigned under an assumed name. Set up a trail as best you can, we sure as hell don’t want to have anyone coming up and finding us if we can help it.”

Xander unstrapped from his chair and headed into the rear of the vessel, it was still quite dark and if he remembered anything from his time before the Alliance it was not to go out into the dark alone even if better armed than he was back then.

The front cargo ramp dropped down allowing Xander egress from his ship and out into the makeshift hanger, quickly he ran across to the massive doors to close them. Age and neglect had made them all but impossible to move quickly, pushing against one he manage to move it a few inches before surrendering and gathering a few tools from the engineering section of his ship.

Soon afterwards the door moved inches then a few feet until it stopped half way across at the end of its rails. A quick use of some of the tools on the other side brought the other door closed shifting the room into complete darkness bar the landing lights of the Reaper.

“That should hold for a while.” The Californian native said to himself, “Need a lock or something.”

Climbing back aboard the ship the pilot reached into a small locker at the rear of the cockpit, during his travel to Derra Four he’d set up a collection of gear just in case he needed to take a little walk away from the ship and his R2 unit. Pulling out a battered old backpack and an equally battered and well worn bantha-hide jacket, he checked the contents quickly making sure there wasn’t much if anything that would shout to the world that he had access to advanced technology.

A set of spare clothing went in first, a self-filling water canteen with a few of the better tasting rations followed, then a couple of standard bandages and antiseptic creams any person could get hold of. Lastly his Alliance wallet and ID went in the top before he changed his mind and stashed it in his bottom of his gear. Heading for his quarters he pulled open the hidden safe removing the heavy satchel and laying it on the table, this was the biggest problem and worry that he had.

Opening it he pulled a handful of the metal inside and one of the smaller pouches full of stones, looking over what he had he extracted two small gold plates and a handful of gemstones, a comparatively small amount compared to what he had but enough to trade or fence off to gain some local currency, a quick change of mind had him pull a slightly larger platinum piece out with them.

Locking the rest away again he had one of the two bars neatly tucked into his left boot while the stones were secreted in his backpack, the last slip of gold simply sitting in his trouser pocket, a hand comlink was set securely in his vest pocket.

Pulling on a shoulder holster he pulled out his illegally modified heavy blaster and paused before it entered the holster, this wasn’t a podunk town or outer rim planet and if he was caught with the blaster he wouldn’t be able to explain it away as a simple toy.

Stashing it away he instead pulled out a small hand sized pistol, the holdout was one of the more common imperial weapons used by Imperial Scouts or special agents. Something a lot of pilots either stole, bought, requested or ‘acquired’ from different sources.

The weapon went into the belt at the small of his back before he pulled the heavy coat over his clothes, a small but nasty vibroblade ended up secreted in a special pocket in his boot. Finally he picked up his worn but obviously cared for wallet going through it for the first time in years.

Identification, video club card, even the few bills that he’d had that evening were there. Putting it away into a pocket and picking up his gear he walked out of the cockpit. Tapping the black and green astromech on its dome as he went past, receiving a farewell bleep from the small droid as he strode down the ramp.

“I’ll be two maybe three days, keep out of sight and keep the scanners on the local military and police channels.” He ordered the Astromech, “And see if you can hack into the Sunnydale networks, get some local history of the last few years.”

Leaving the tiny ship the pilot slipped out through the massive steel doors pulling them shut and attaching a magnetic lock to the outside as he left the building, he’d need to find a better place for the ship. Even with the sensor jammers aboard he would still visible during the daytime hence the ‘acquisition’ of the land courtesy of Scythe.

However the dead of night was a very different thing, however considering what he was expecting to see out here he perhaps should have waited until the morning before leaving the ship. Stepping out onto the closest road he looked at the sign.

Los Angeles- 24 Miles

“This is gonna take a while.” Xander huffed, the sun was only just reaching up into the sky and remembering this world well he knew that this was going to got more than slightly warm. Undoing his jacket he let it swing slightly, hiding his weapon but allowing him access for a quick draw in case he needed it. Stepping onto the long stretch of tarmac he began walking, for him this would be a long, long day.
****

Los Angeles
California
March 2nd 2000
09:00

“Thanks man.” Xander beat his fist against the hand of the young man in the front cab of the pick-up truck, he’d walked about an hour or so before he’d managed to hitch a lift to the city proper. Stepping off the back he watched the truck splutter off down the road before crossing over to the park opposite, for Xander it was odd coming back to LA after all this time. He’d lived close enough while in Sunnydale to visit every so often but hadn’t for a good long while before he was pulled into the other universe.

Before he’d left he’d have seen Los Angeles as a large city and one of the crowning achievements of the West Coast, but after seeing a few truly massive cities both in his own eyes and through the memories of Wedge it no longer seemed all that spectacular. There were some planetary sized cities out in that galaxy that would put the combined efforts of the Earth to shame, but for now he looked around and for the first time walked around the streets of a familiar and very welcome city of home.

It was a cooler and somewhat sunny day even for March but he was more than willing to take the discomfort when he compared it to some of the places he’d been, but even now he was still getting his head around the fact that he was so close to home as made no difference.

Strolling around he nodded to a few people who nodded back while others ignored him or in a very rare occurrence gave him an appraising look, he guessed all that time in the cockpit and fighting stormtroopers had given him a bit of a cadence in his walk and a little self confidence he’d never had as a punk kid in a suburb.

A few off looks came from his clothing but nothing that would have anything think that he was anything else than a visitor from somewhere and didn’t quite fit in, but then in LA looking the norm was abnormal.

Heading for the City Hall he had to check out if he was even still deemed as alive, a few half truths would allow him to get around most the questions as to where he’d been and what he was doing. Climbing up the steps he headed in steeling himself for the greatest of evils he knew he had to face be it Sunnydale, Fleet HQ, Home One or LA.

Bureaucracy

A few hours later and a tired and ragged Xander Harris left the building after trying again and again to prove who he was, only to find out in the end that the records department hadn’t even been informed that he was missing let alone dead. In fact with the exception that he had been added to the nominal rolls of Sunnydale High there was little about him from the last few years.

Sighing he hitched his bag over his shoulder and continued down into the bright street of the city, it was time to figure out just what he was going to do now he was home. Smiling to himself Xander turned into a small grocery store and went straight for the one thing that he missed most of all- Twinkies.

Practically inhaling the golden cake he sighed before slowly eating the next one in the pack, he’d come across a lot of odd food over the years. The contents of the alliance survival packs and tauntaun meat notwithstanding, most had been relatively tasty or at least edible and nutritious. But he’d never found anything that compared to some of the foods he’d missed from home.

He’d never quite forgiven Solo and Chewie for destroying the last two he had in his flight suit when they picked him up after Derra IV, although given the predilection for fresh food and raw meat that Wookies had the processed cake probably wouldn’t have settled in his stomach well.

That and the kick to the sack hadn’t helped him and Chewbacca get on particularly well at the start.

However the momentary bliss of the cake faded away to the realisation that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing in LA, he needed to get some money and information fast which meant that he needed to head for a library and somewhere to sell off a few of the stones or gold slips he had secreted in his gear.

He just had to be far more careful and imagine that he had a target on his back, as he very probably would be one if he wasn’t careful. While there were no Imperials around he would be in trouble if any local problem types saw him.

Taking notice of the slight rumbling in his stomach that the Twinkies weren’t able to quite quell he took a stroll down a brightly lit side alley, he figured it would be less of a tourist trap than some of the larger and more expensive places. Most catered for those with the money or ego to spend at up market restaurants or fake foreign cafés. It had been two years since he’d had an old fashion American meal and heading for an out of the way but clean looking place he smiled to himself, it was going to be a good meal.
***

20:00
Night had fallen and Xander was nowhere nearer to finding a way to change his valuables into ready cash, he had thought about trying the various pawn shops he'd passed but wasn't sure if he'd need proof that the stones were his. The little money he'd had had already been depleted by the need for a hot meal and a few snacks for his walk around the city.

The two packs of twinkies had been more expensive than he remembered but had been more than worth it. Now however he realised stupidly that he had no money to find a place to stay and no way of finding out how to change the gold at least, he had to find somewhere and fast unless he decided to find a way back to the Reaper.

Glancing down an alleyway he noticed the receding couple as a young woman being escorted by a tall, well dressed man. After two years of fighting both on the ground and in space Xander had begun to understand how certain people moved, most rebels still walked around and acted like the civilians they were while Imperials almost marched around. Some like Tycho and Han Solo still had a touch of the imperial stance, while Winter and Leia amongst others had the regal bearing.

The man walking down the alley moved in a combination of animal and predator, two things that didn't bode well for the woman with him. Xander wasn't completely sure about the possibility that the man was a vampire but he wasn't about to let someone end up hurt because she didn't know what was going on. Shrugging his pack off his shoulder he hid it behind a dustbin before creeping up after the two, it was a matter of a few seconds before he ended up at the end behind the man.

He stood over the young woman having thrown her to the ground as he cupped himself, evidently she had known how to take care of herself against a normal human and had attempted to get away. Unfortunately this 'man' was obviously capable of taking the hit and probably more besides, stepping up behind the creature he pulled the blaster from behind his back and shot the now evident vampire directly between the shoulder blades.

The effect was almost instantaneous as the three blaster shots pierced through the partially necrotised skin, vaporising a large section of the vamp's unbeating heart. While not overly powerful the holdout pistol could be and usually was quite deadly at close range, to a normal human it could pierce armour as easily as clothing and kill the target. With a vampire it was far more so especially as the three bolts slammed into and through the body, one after the other.

A second passed as the body turned to ash and fell apart covering the floor beneath it, palming his weapon back he turned to the woman who stood up and all but shouted at him. The shock of it wasn't the shouting as much but the woman herself, a very familiar face that he'd seen more than once with that look. Of course now he had to wonder just what he'd done to piss her off this time, to Xander she seemed less bothered about being attacked by the vampire than his actions.

"Have you any idea how long it took for us to find that guy." Cordelia Chase continued ranting, "Now we've got to start all over again, who the hell are you anyway?"

"If you give me a chance to speak." She could all but hear the smirk in the voice, "I'd tell you."

Cordelia's eyes widened as she managed to link the voice to a name, it had been years but it was still the same voice. Although the silhouette of the man was larger and taller than the boy she'd known and been saved by time and again.

"Xander?"

"Hey Cordy, been a while."

"Stay back, I'm armed."

"I... huh?" Xander stepped out of the shadow and into the streetlight arms akimbo but still holding his blaster in one hand, "I'm not gonna hurt you Cordy."

"You've been gone for over two years Harris, how do I know that you are you." Cordelia backed up, "And not trying to eat me."

"Cordelia I couldn't stand you back in Sunnydale, If I was gonna kill you you'd not have known I was coming." He put his weapon back in his holster, "I've been gone a while I know, I just need to get my bearings and for some reason I end up with you. Could be worse I suppose."

"What is that supposed to mean?" The beauty crossed her arms, "I can be just as much help to you as anyway you know, I've been living here for months while you've been... where the hell have you been?"

"Now that is a very long story."

"One I'd like to hear." Another voice came from behind Cordelia.

For the last few years Xander had been taught the basics of blaster combat by several of the other pilots, he may have had the knowledge but the muscle and nerve memories weren't there.

After he’d been cleared by Rebel Intelligence he found the blaster he’d had with him had been stripped down to find out where it had come from, several people even asking why he was using a thirty year confederate blaster. As usual he’d given the excuse that he had no memory and no idea about it, the Hoth armourer had pretty much told him to use something better and he’d get rid of it instead.

Xander had been issued with a basic blaster that most of the alliance military were equipped with, oddly enough within a few weeks he found himself hitting both moving and stationary targets square. Although he'd found the weapon uncomfortable compared to others he tried, he kept with the blaster.

However over his time on planet and then later with Hoth Wing he'd also found himself being tutored by one or two of the better shots including Wes Janson.

He'd picked up a heavy blaster from a raid against a pirate base near Sullust a few months before Endor, finding it to be an almost perfect fit and weight for him. Janson's response to the weapon and his handling was that it was 'better' than before giving him a decent shot/hit ratio, one far better than the old DH17 had given him.

However his improvement with the handguns and the increased speed his pilot reflexes had given him meant that the holdout blaster was in his hand again before anyone could move, the distance between him and the other figure was more than enough to get a bead on the figure before he could get close.

“Hold it there, out of the shadows before I put a bolt in your head.”

“Easy Harris, I’m not going to do anything.” The figure stepped out hands to the side.

“Angel.” Xander didn’t move his aim an inch, he could kill or seriously wound the vampire if he had to from here and he wasn’t taking any chances. “Prove you are who you say you are.”

“Should I be asking you that?”

“I told you to eat before we left.” The Californian native said flatly to the vampire’s surprise, he had expected more of a fight from the other man to give up his real identity.

However considering that only the two of them had been in the sewers at the time, there’s no way he could have known that unless he was who he said he was. His scent was a little different to the boy he’d known those years ago but that could be a combination of factors including wherever he had been. “Now you.”

“She thinks you're a real person. And right now I need you to prove her right.” Angel replied, his best bet being the same conversation. However the vampire knew that wouldn’t be enough if the other man thought he was Angelus again. “I can’t prove anything else except I’ve been working with Cordelia for the last six month and she’s still alive.”

“Damn right I’m still alive.” Cordelia snarked, before gesturing to the short skirt and thin shirt that she wore. “Now can we please leave and get back to the office before I freeze.”

Taking the risk Xander lowered his weapon to the relief of both humans and vampire before putting it away, both had seen what it had done to the vampire they’d attempted to corner to get information out of and didn’t want to see what it could do to them. It was then that something Cordelia had said came to mind and he looked up at the two of them quizzically.

“Office?”
****

Angel Investigations
March 2nd 2000
22:00

“Welcome to Angel Investigations.” Cordelia said as the three walked through the door to the frankly dingy little apartment/office that housed their company, “We help the hopeless.”

“Please tell me you didn’t make that up.”

“Why not it says what we do.”

“Never mind.” Xander relented, “Its fine, so you guys are a detective agency?”

“Yep, we’ve been helping people that don’t have any other choice or are hunted by the kind of people the law can’t usually touch.” Angel interrupted Xander before the man could make the obvious contrast, “And NO not like The A-Team.”

“You know about the A-Team.”

“I was in a depression not blind, although the 80s sometimes make me wish I had been.” Angel hung up his coat, “Once I left Sunnydale I had to find a way to do something to make a difference.”

“I…” Xander took a breath, “Are they all alright?”

Angel nodded the affirmative knowing that the young man wanted to know about his friends, the fact he’d held his tongue this long was a testament to the changes the Californian native had gone through. That they were alive was enough for Xander to all but collapse into the chair behind him, he rested his face in his hands as he rubbed roughly croaking out a few sounds.

“All of them?”

“Willow, Buffy and Giles are alive and as well as they can be.” Angel replied, “Most of the rest as well.”

“The Rest?” Xander looked up.

“That’s a long story as well, there’s more than just those three in the fight now.”

“Fair enough” Xander nodded relieved “Ok, so what now?”

“Now.” Cordelia stalked around to him and pushed him down into a chair, “You will tell us what happened and where the hell you went after you disappeared that night.”

“Now that is a very long story.” Xander shook his head, “Look I’ve been on the go since before dawn this morning then around parts of LA until I found you guys, I need a drink, food and some sleep at the least. I also need to find a vehicle, papers for it and money until I can get myself settled.”

“You’ve been gone a while Xander, Sunnydale PD would have you down as missing or if the Mayor had anything to do with it dead. No-one would try looking for you if you were still alive.”

“Wait, what about the Mayor?”

“That’s part of the long story Xander.” Angel leant back in his chair, “Two years of history to make up for.”

“I guess, I figured that I’d need a new identity if I couldn’t reclaim my own. Plus a good supply of cash and a bank account once I managed to figure out how to change what I’ve got up for dollars.” Xander fished a gold slip from his pack and threw it towards the vampire who caught it easily, a gasp from the vampire’s side saw the brunette woman grab the gold from Angel’s hands before he could look at to properly.

“This… this is gold.”

“Yeah, six ounce gold slip.”

“Where, how?”

“Part of my long story.”

“Six ounces is about seventeen hundred dollars you doofus.”

“Enough for you guys to help me out with this.”

“Hell yeah.” Cordelia pre-empted her boss, the vampire simple splayed his hand in surrender as he looked at Xander. The woman went on before looking at Angel “We’ll need more to get you what you want though, right?”

“I know a few people…”

“Good, now that’s settled.” Cordelia sat down herself and pierced the Rebel pilot with a pointed stare. “Where have you been?”

“Can I get a drink first?” Xander asked, “I’ve been doing a lot of walking today, don’t have any cash to speak of anymore.”

“We’ve got water, coffee, tea, root beer.”

“Coffee please.”

“I’ll be right back.” Cordelia flounced off to the side of the room.

Xander shook his head as she watched the former Queen C of Sunnydale walked away to make a drink probably for them both, the young woman was different to the spoilt brat he had grown up with. Even knowing about the dark underbelly of Sunnydale hadn’t changed her as much as he thought it might have been, the fact that she knew about Angel’s true nature meant that things weren’t the same to begin with.

Her willingness to work with Angel to help people meant that the girl he knew was very different to the woman she was now, she seemed harder and more mature than a normal two years should have done to a normal person. But then again the last two years had changed him possibly for the better so who was he to say what a normal person should be capable of, hell he hadn’t even been a normal person even before being transported to the other side of the dimensional barriers.

“She’s different.” Xander said to Angel as Cordelia stood just out of earshot. “I guess she knows everything now?”

“Yeah, she found out a while ago decided to keep helping even after…”

“After?”

“Her story to tell, not mine.” Angel looked at the other man, “You have a lot to catch up on Xander, luckily you have the time.”

“I guess I do.” Xander replied, “You know I’m going back to Sunnydale right, I’m going to need to know what happened.”

“You’ll know before you leave.” Angel grimaced, “There’s a lot you need to know both the good and the bad.”

“It’s the Hellmouth, I figured that.”

“It’s worse.” Angel took an unnecessary breath, “I screwed up Xander, pretty bad.”

They were interrupted by a trio of mugs on a tray appearing on the desk between them, Cordelia handed them out before sitting down. Angel took the second as while he didn’t need to drink the coffee he found that the warmth of the fluid sometimes eased his mind. It also helped when facing others that wanted to employ him, giving them something in common as they talked. Xander grabbed the last of them before taking a sip, looking down at it he wondered who had given her Hobbie’s recipe for Caf.

“So, what happened?” Cordelia asked, “You were there taking potshots with some kind of ray gun at vampires, dusting them then you were gone.”

Xander sipped again, “I ended up stuck in the middle of deep space in the aftermath of a slaughter, the costume I had somehow linked me with a person from another universe.”

“Like that vampire version of Willow?”

“Wait, what?” Xander blinked.

“A version of Willow came from another universe where she was a slutty vampire, leather and lace and I think she was bi-sexual. She tried it on with most of us even our Willow.” Cordelia rambled, “Willow had to dress up as her to trick some really dumbass vampires.”

“I think I’ll need to hear the full version of that later.” Xander was a little thrown, “Anyway a few hours after I arrived in their universe, I was slowly freezing to death and low on Oxygen when a couple of ships arrived to find any survivors of the fleet that was destroyed. They found me drifting in an Alliance flight suit and had no idea who I was. Needless to say I wasn’t that welcome at the beginning, especially after I punched out one and attacked a seven foot walking carpet. Believe me steel toecaps can be your friend in almost any circumstances. I almost got away with it too but the Princess pulled a gun on me.”

“Are you sure you’ve not been in a psyche ward or something.” Cordelia snarked, “Walking carpets, princesses, you sound like you need your head read.”

Xander reached into a pocked and pulled out both his earth type and Alliance issue wallets, opening up the alliance one he handed it over to the two private investigators. Inside was a small amount of Imperial issue credits and a few flimsy print outs of photographs from his time with the Rebellion, the first few pictures were with his squadrons over the years including a recent one of the Rogues from the day of the attack on the Death Star. Older ones from places like Hoth and Home One were tucked away as well.

One picture was from just after the retrieval of Han Solo from the claws of Jabba the Hutt and included the Rogues, the Wampas and the Heroes of Yavin, almost thirty in all clustered in the photo. It was the last time that he saw the Wampas before he made the decision to come home, same with Han, Leia and the rest bar Luke Skywalker. It was also the last time he would see almost half of the Rogues again.

“On the bottom left is Chewbacca, Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa.” Xander began, “Known to most of the Alliance as three of the Heroes of Yavin. Those three picked me up out of space and took me to Alliance Headquarters on another planet, I was interrogated and checked over for a few days before one of their own pilots vouched for me and I was let go.”

“Someone knew who you were?” Angel asked.

“One of their top pilots, a guy called Wedge Antilles told them he knew me and that I could be trusted.” Xander took another drink, “He took me aside into a briefing room and said three words to me, Vampire, Slayer, Sunnydale. It turned out the pilot I dressed as that night wasn’t a generic sci-fi pilot like I thought but one of the greatest heroes and most capable pilots in an entire galaxy. I returned with a few words back letting him know I remembered things as well. From then on I was assigned piloting duty after a few days of simulator training, survived on an ice planet and that was it for a while.”

“For a while?”

“You have to understand that the Rebellion was something that was relatively small compared to the Empire it faced, about a year into my time there an Imperial probe found us and we were attacked by a force hundreds of times our size. I flew out escorting one of only a handful of ships and fighters that survived the battle and was stuck in a hospital ward for about a week afterwards. Out of the starfighters and pilots that were on planet maybe two dozen got out, after that we had to run as far as we could to recover from our losses. Most of us ended up with Rogue, Wampa and Frostbite squadrons afterwards, Hoth Wing was made up of the survivors and volunteers of those that got away from the planet intact or not so in some cases.”

“So you’ve been at war for the last two years?” Angel asked

“Yeah, some of the biggest battles the galaxy had seen in decades culminating in the defeat of the Empire at Endor, destroying it’s biggest weapon, best officers and it’s ruler.” Xander finished his drink before continuing carefully, some of the Rogues knew more about what happened on the Death Star than most but even so it wasn’t his secret to tell. “The Emperor and his right hand were killed in the same battle, we won and as far as I know we still are now.”

The three sat in silence as they contemplated what he’d said, Angel knew about war better than most having lived through and witnessed every major conflict in the last two hundred years. Some had allowed him and the others of his kind to murder, rape, assault, and anything else their despicable imaginations could come up. The later ones on the twentieth century had been to a scale that even vampires had distanced themselves away from, through the danger of being sent to their final death.

Cordelia like the rest had been fighting against the darker side of the world for years, as tired and weary of it all as she got she had at least had a while away from it all once she had left Sunnydale. Her life had already changed long before that and while she tried to change things, she couldn’t just let people go through their lives without some kind of help. But now she was hearing about someone who had been in a much larger conflict, one who had seen hundreds of thousands or more die including close friends. He had already fought for more than a year before he’d disappeared, now he was back and Cordelia knew he’d end up back at Sunnydale especially now he was capable of fighting.

“How did you get back?” Angel asked, “We saw you go into the portal but that was all we knew.”

“Grabbed a freighter and headed back to the system that the Alliance found me in, right there was a big portal which I guess was bigger the one I went through. I ended up about a light year outside of the Solar System, found my way back and hid my ship in an abandoned factory outside the city.” Xander explained, “Everything I own or brought back with me is in there.”

“You left all that alone.” Cordelia cried, “Are you crazy what if someone finds it and tell the government or the military or Oprah or someone.”

“Relax Cordy.” Xander rubbed his eyes, “I didn’t come back alone, Scythe stayed with the ship he’s trying to hack into the local real estate and find a way to keep the ship hidden. I didn’t know how long I’d be away from the ship for so I ordered him to look for something, anyone stupid enough to try and take my ship away from me or him is in for a shock of his life.”

“You… you brought someone back with you… are you crazy.” Cordelia screamed, “What is he, some kind of alien thing, you’ll have to keep under cover?”

“He’s not an alien.”

“Human… is he cute?”

“He’s not human either.”

“It’s not a demon is it?”

“No it’s not a demon Cordelia.” Xander huffed, “Scythe is my astromech droid.”

“Droid, like a robot?” Cordelia reflected, “Ooh is he big and studly like Arnie in Terminator?”

“Not exactly, more like a Dalek.”

“A Dalek?”

“Yeah a dustbin on wheels.” Angel interrupted, “Dead not in the ground, I watched TV.”

“My fighter used an astromech droid as the main navigational aid, repair drone and all round assistant to the pilot same as about half of the Snubfighters in the Alliance military. Wedge decided to send him along with me just in case I needed the help, he was right by the way.”

“I told you that years ago.” Cordelia snarked, “So what do we do now?”

“Me, I’d like to sleep thanks.” Xander yawned, “I need somewhere to crash, know anywhere close by and very cheap?”

“Oh no, my apartment’s barely big enough for me let alone another person.” Cordelia replied, “You can stay here.”

“I can?” Xander asked

“He can?” Angel echoed

“Angel’s got the room right?”

“I suppose so.” Angel looked at the other man, neither looked particularly thrilled at the idea but knew that any attempt to argue with Cordelia Chase was doomed to failure.
***

Angel Investigations
Rooftop
6am.

“Things changed around here huh?” Xander said hearing the vampire behind him, Xander had been able to sleep a few hours before waking up in the early morning. Being relatively early in the year it was still dark as he stepped out onto the rooftop of the building, he was used to odd hours and uncomfortable surroundings. The times he’d fallen asleep in his X-Wing or aboard a shuttle between postings had been amongst those, but the sofa in Angel’s apartment had been amongst the worst.

“You could say that.” Angel gestured to his cup, “Do you want me to go back inside?”

“Considering what I’ve seen Angel what you do with your food doesn’t bother me.” Xander shook his head before taking a gulp from his own cup, it might not be the cross between caf and engine cleaner that the Rogues used on a regular basis but it did the job.

He continued staring off into the slowly rising sun in the Los Angeles sky, it would be a few more hours before it properly rose and Angel was safe enough using the lean to as they talked. “It’s funny you know in the last few years I’ve seen sunrises on maybe a dozen worlds, some were blinding as the sun reflected off snow and ice while others where a long drawn out type when there were two suns. But I never forgot what I was like to wake up in the morning and watch the sunrise on Earth. It was exactly the same on those worlds as it was here, it meant that I’d survived another night of the bad guys trying to kill me.”

“I’ve only seen a sunrise once in the last two hundred years and no-body except me even knows it happened.” Angel shook his head, “You’ve changed as much as we have Xander, you’ve not sniped at me, called me names or been an asshole.”

“As I said, I’ve been around a bit.” Xander turned to the other man, “During the years I was out there I saw things I never wanted to, the Empire was led by two men both bastards to the core. Even at his worst Angelus couldn’t touch them, they murdered entire planets if the people didn’t obey their every command and both were as human as I am.”

“Sound’s pretty bad.”

“The Empire stretched about three quarters of the galaxy. Most of the rest were tributaries or under assault from imperial forces, apparently the people thought that The Empire was a good idea at the beginning until people started to see just what those in power were doing. Mass murder, slavery, destruction of entire planets, every evil thing that humanity could do to itself it did to others instead.” Xander sipped again, “Some worlds managed to get out of the grip of local imperials, fighting them off and then helping the Rebel Alliance in some way or just staying out of the fight if they could.”

“I’ve faced down troops on a dozen worlds intent on killing me and everything I fought for, if they found Earth they’d use us as nothing more than cannon fodder and probably to feed their military machine. Nothing we could do would stop even a single one of their warships before we were overrun, our technology in tens of thousands of years less advanced and they’d be willing to use it to sterilise this planet.” Looking at the vampire he shrugged, “Compared to what a normal human could do with that kind of power in his hands, a single vampire master is worthless.”

Sitting on a wall he stared out at the slowly changing colour of the sky, “Just before I left to find my way home I fought in the biggest battle the Alliance had ever seen, the Empire had built a planet destroying superweapon and we had to stop it, simple as that. We won the battle and possibly the war on that day and I left behind the friends and comrades I'd made there only weeks after, I was given the chance to come home and took it. Two years of constant fighting and I make it back and I realised that when I go back to Sunnydale that I’ll be doing the same thing just without a starfighter, I’m a fair ground trooper now so at least I’ll be able to help.”

Silence reigned between them as the conversation petered out, Angel seemed to be finding it slightly difficult to keep topics going given that the other man wasn’t nearly as talkative or childish as he had been. Then again fighting in a war that made anything on Earth seem like a bar fight would do that.

“Remember I said I made a massive mistake.”

“Yeah.”

“I slept with Buffy.” Angel put a hand up, “Wait let me explain, it was and wasn’t at the same time.”

“Considering what you just said about a good friend of mine it better be.”

“You remember my curse right?”

“Yeah, soul curse, gypsies etc etc.”

“There’s a loophole in the curse that if I have a single moment of true happiness the soul is released and the demon take over again.” Angel looked chagrined, “I found that moment with Buffy as I slept with her for the first time.”

“Oh great so you go your rocks off and Angelus came for a visit.” Xander grasped his blaster tightly, “How many of them did he kill.”

Angel looked up at the man, the fact that he had said ‘he’ and not you was not lost on the vampire. “He… I tried to kill every one of them at one time or another, mentally and then physically torturing some of them. Until Jenny Calender made a mistake and let Angelus find out that she had a copy of the Soul Spell and was trying to decipher it. She was hunted for fun by Angelus and killed as he snapped her neck, then destroyed what he thought was every copy of the spell that existed. Turns out that he knew as much about computers as I did.”

“Jenny had another copy somewhere.”

“On a disk.” Angel looked up, “A few weeks later and I was brought back to myself after being locked in a cage and threatened with a pair of bolt cutters.”

Both men shuddered at the mental picture of just what a few pissed off women could do with those bolt cutters and the male anatomy, he was pretty sure that not even a psychotic vampire with delusions of grandeur would risk trying anything with that in mind. Angel looked even more haunted than before as Xander watched him, the vampire had made a critical error when he had got close to Buffy Summers.

While he knew just how the ensouled demon felt about the girl, he wasn’t at all sure he could really have expected anything more from a man who seemed more like him than he thought.

“Angel I gotta say you have a really fucked up way of seeing ‘perfect happiness’” Xander shot at him, “You had to sleep with someone to have that feeling, that really either makes you seriously messed up in the head or shallower than Cordelia at her worst.”

“I think it’s a bit of both.” Angel leaned back against the wall of the lean-to, “Back when I was turned I didn’t really understand what real happiness could be, I was a drunkard, a letch and a coward before being turned by some woman I thought was a common whore. When I got my soul back I still had that upbringing to fall back on, I hadn’t bothered to learn any more recent because there wasn’t a reason for it. I’d told women I’d loved them before I left them or killed them and it meant nothing to me, even hearing it from someone I love as much as Buffy wasn’t enough in the end.”

Angel looked Xander in the eyes as he spoke, “She could tell me as much as she could that she loved me but for all of that I couldn’t deep down believe someone like her could fall for me, I never meant for it to happen the way it did. It was stupid and cowardly for me to act the way I did but I can’t go back and change that, but the moment she accepted me into her and showed me just how much she loved me I could truly believe that she did in the way she was. Even for just the split second before the doubt hit me again I believed she felt the much for me, but that split second was too long and Angelus was the result.”

“Shit.” Xander thrust his elbow back against the wall he was leaning against, “I should have been here.”

“What could you have done?”

“I don’t know.” Xander snapped, “Anything, stopped you earlier somehow.”

“Xander, she tried everything to bring me back for months. She should have killed me the second I turned back, but you know what Buffy’s like if she gets it into her head that she can change something. She wouldn’t have let you kill him if there was any chance she could have got me back. She was a teenager in love with someone she shouldn’t have been, logic wouldn’t have come into anything she did.”

Xander groaned at the thought of everything he’d missed while flying for the Alliance, while he’d had no chance to get back until yesterday he hated the fact that so much had happened while he was gone. From day one he’d found himself in a fight bigger than himself and kept on fighting, even if one was bigger in a universe where he probably wouldn’t be remembered in a few months. Now he found that while saving the galaxy he’d been unable help protect the people he cared for.

Secondly he hated the fact that he was right with Angel being a danger to everyone else, as much as the younger version of him would have crowed about the fact. He also knew that the current version of him had seen to much to blame any one person; or point a finger towards that same person the way he would have once.

Right now he was facing someone who had spent a century atoning, with the one time he had allowed himself to feel human led to the deaths of people and the possible permanent damage to others. Now he had to fight the good fight again and not allow himself to get close to anybody because of the risk, something that more than a few rebels had found themselves doing.

The vampire was right about them both though, each had changed in ways both within and without and he knew some for the better and some for the worse. He could accept Angel for who and what he was considering, but he also knew that if the bastard Angelus ever made an appearance he would be more than capable of taking the beast down in short order and Angel knew that now.

“So who gave you your soul back?”

“Willow managed to somehow, no one knew if she had the power to but then since when has that stopped her.”

“I didn’t even know she had any real magic ability.”

“She didn’t, not much anyway not until that night.”

Xander looked at the vampire again, “So somehow Willow got the power to re-soul you with no training, no power source and no idea what she was doing? And no one thought that was a little crazy?”

“To be honest Xander I was in a cross between being relieved and horrified that I’d been brought back.” Angel remember that night vividly, “They should have killed me the second they had the chance to, next time make sure they do.”

The younger man’s head shot back as he heard the vampire’s words, the exact same thought that had been going through his mind came from the mouth of the person he was trying to figure out how to kill if he had to. Everything from his blaster pistol up to a thermal detonator came to mind, plus a few little tricks he learnt from some of the other troops he fought alongside at Hoth and afterwards. Nodding his head he acknowledged the request from Angel and left it at that, both knew that Xander would put himself between his psychotic vampire alter ego and any innocent caught in the way.
***

“That vampire you took down earlier, how did you do that so fast?”

Xander smirked at the question, Angel had been a little antsy since his confession and while Xander was angry to an extent he also was aware that you can’t change the past but you can make sure that the future doesn’t go the same way. “That… that was easy. He was arrogant, stupid and drunk in his own power. No different than some Imps I’ve killed over the years, I simply came up behind him and fired this into his back from point blank range.”

Unholstering his blaster he pulled the power cell from it’s location and handed the weapon over to the vampire. As much as they had been on opposing viewpoints before Xander and Angel had both changed, he didn’t want to risk seeing if a blaster bolt could be repaired by the demonic influence in the vampire’s body.

Angel hefted the weapon slightly in his hand, in his years he had held pistols and muskets, revolvers, rifles, even a machine gun or two. The design was an obvious evolution of any weapon that a human could build, but it was too light and too different to be anything that he could put a name to.

Aiming it up slightly he looked down the iron sight on top before bringing it down, while very small he didn’t doubt it’s power in the right or worse wrong hands. especially if someone using it could kill a vampire from close range. Given what he remembered of Xander though he doubted this was the most powerful weapon in his arsenal, nodding he handed it back to the human and watched as he put a small pack back into the weapon before laying it down.

“This is a smaller weapon than the one I usually carry. But then I thought it would be a bad idea to walk around LA with a holster and powerful plasma weapon on display, good way to get busted.” Xander shook his head, “Once I’ve got myself settled down in Sunnydale I’ll send you a few to help out, I’ll need to test the rest out but if this thing can kill a vamp a heavier pistol should kill it well out of hand to hand range.”

He put the cup down before leaning over the wall slightly looking out at the city, “I brought a lot of stuff back with me, the guys I’d been flying with for the last few months had managed to dig up a half busted ship and filled it’s cargo bay with weapons and equipment that would get me arrested if I was found with it on either side of the portal. Including a few explosives that would get me locked up for use of weapons of mass destruction, funny thing is on the other side they would be considered little more than an anti ship missile.”

“There’s a place just outside of Sunnydale, one of the old caves the bootleggers used in the 20s. No-one’s used it in decades not even other demons not since the last of the tunnels to the outside was sealed up, should be big enough to put your ship in.” Angel explained, “If you dig out a new tunnel you should be safe enough, especially if you’re telling the truth about what you’ve brought with you.”

“I’ll have a look when I go back.” Xander shrugged, “You said you have someone that can help you fence some of the stuff I’ve got, let me know what his percentage is and what yours is and then we’ll talk.”

“Cordelia was right, the gold is about seventeen hundred dollars.”

“I’ve got about fifty of them, twenty the same size of platinum and a couple of pounds of cut and polished gems.” The now former pilot said nonchalantly, “Another gift from my buddies in the squadron, they knew I’d need it as Earth doesn’t use Imperial or Alliance credits.”

Laughing lightly at the awestruck vampire he made a decision that he hoped wouldn’t be a mistake, since his arrival he and Angel had put a lot of their problems aside. So raising his trouser leg up he pulled a short bladed knife from his boot and threw it across to Angel, catching it he watched as the other man looked it over trying to figure out how to unsheathe it from the flimsy metallic fabric that covered the blade.

“Press the lower button.”

Doing as instructed Angel felt the sheath come away from the knife revealing a very sharp and dangerous looking blade, he marvelled at the design itself that while small like the gun that Xander had been carrying could be very deadly in the right hands. Looking up at Xander he told to try to cut through a piece of the wooden construct keeping him safe from the sun, trying so he found it could slice through the wood with some effort from his vamperic strength.

Looking again he found the blade unsullied and unbroken even after the effort he’d had to cut through the planking, amazed he passed it back. Xander merely smirked and pressed the second button on the hilt of the knife causing a very high pitched buzzing that caused some major discomfort to Angel. Waving it off Angel could only goggle as Xander pressed the knife to a thick, unused pipe and merely flipped the knife through the steel. The blade passing through easily causing it to separate from the rest of the building and fall down to the street below.

“How?”

“It’s a Vibroblade, cuts through anything it touches within reason. Should take off entire limbs if used right.” Making a choice he threw it back to the other man, trust between them had already begun and he decided that sometimes you needed more. “Keep it, I’ve got others. Maybe you can let me know how it works out against vamps and demons, I’ll send you a charger unit for it with the rest when I send it your way. Besides if you tried to hurt me with it you’d end up with a blaster bolt to the head before you could get close.”

Putting it in his pocket Angel finished his slowly cooling mug of blood and watched out as the first proper rays of sunlight came up over the horizon, while still not enough to hurt him in any real way the feeling of the sun was making him uncomfortable. It would be another hour until the sun was up far enough to be any danger, taking his leave from the conversation he walked back down the stairs leaving the younger man to his thoughts. Leaning against a wall Xander brought the mug to his lips one more time before turning out to the slowly dawning light.

“Welcome Home.” He whispered to himself.
***
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