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A Visit From An OLD Friend

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Fixing The Future". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Some visitors stop by to let the Scoobies know about some *very* unpleasant events that are poised to happen in the very near future.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredGreywizardFR1519,7126306,28318 May 1418 May 14Yes
Title: A Visit From An OLD Friend

Rating: FR15, primarily for some minor (?) violence, character death and a little bit for language.

Disclaimer: They all belong to people who are not me, and who make a lot of money because of those facts. I'm specifically referring to whoever owns BtVS, Heroes, Highlander, Stargate SG -1 and Stargate: Atlantis. Deal with it. I have.

Category: Multi-crossover, with Highlander, Heroes, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis.

Time Frame: Begins in the middle of Season Three, Episode Thirteen, 'Zeppo', and then veers off into my own personal universe of insanity. Yeah, it's my own personal universe, and you can only visit because I say so. So, there!

Spoilers: Probably some spoilers for BtVS through the middle of Season Three, and I'm cheerfully proclaiming that I'll most definitely be wreaking havoc with canon for Heroes, the various Stargate series and any other series I might be incorporating into this story.

Character Bashing: I call them like I see them, so don't be surprised if some characters don't come off looking as good as they did in their canon appearances. If you think I'm being unfair, I don't mind your telling me so, but be prepared to provide justification in the form of canon citations and examples, and not just emotional biases.

Feedback: Of course! Like Tenhawk says, it's the coin of the realm!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication, { word } indicates a character's thoughts, and // word \\ indicates foreign languages.

~/~/~

Sunnydale High School
The Library

January 26, 1999


The sole surviving Sisterhood of Jhe demon pushed through the library's swinging doors in a frantic effort to escape the fighters who'd slaughtered her sisters. Much to her surprise, she ran directly into the blade of 'Katie,' the large Bowie knife Xander Harris had taken as a souvenir of his rather – interesting – interaction with Jack O'Toole and his fellow zombies a little earlier that evening.

The wide-eyed look of stunned disbelief on the blue-skinned demon's face as Katie pierced her heart was a close match to the one the other Sister had worn a few hours earlier when he'd run over her with Uncle Rory's 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, Xander decided as he shoved the now-deceased body away from him.

The equally surprised look on Buffy's face as she saw him standing in the hallway was quickly replaced by one of annoyance as she asked in a loud and extremely upset and disapproving voice, "Xander?! What are you doing here? I thought I told you we didn't need your help tonight."

"Yeah, you did say that, Buffy," Harris nodded his agreement with the last portion of her statement before continuing, "and you also seemed to forget that since you're not my mother or my boss, I really don't have to pay attention to anything you have to say.

"But hey! Since I was kinda busy preventing Jack O'Toole and his buddies from setting off a bomb in the basement that would have blown the entire school to little tiny pieces – and you guys along with it," Harris went on nonchalantly, ignoring both the irate expression that initially appeared on the blonde Slayer's face when she heard the first part of his answer, and the open-mouthed look of shock and alarm it shifted to, upon hearing the second part, "I would've expected you to be glad that I didn't pay any attention to your little… edicts and stay home the way you wanted me to."

"Dear Lord, Xander! Did, did I just hear you say that Jack O'Toole was attempting to, to blow up the school?" Giles asked, the shock on his face mirrored on the rest of the Scooby Gang's faces when they'd heard his response to Buffy's admonishment.

"Yeah, you certainly did, Giles," Xander calmly nodded his confirmation of the former Watcher's question while ignoring the rest of the Gang's reactions to his clearly disturbing announcement. "So! How's it feel, G-man, knowing that you ignored me in that graveyard as I was trying to tell you the situation and that you put everyone's lives in danger, because you were *sure* that I had nothing important to say?"

Anything Giles might have said in reply was interrupted by the sudden appearance – without, contrary to what would be normally be expected on the Hellmouth, any sort of accompanying clamor or lightshow – of three individuals in the school hallway only a few feet away from the now-open library doors and the Scooby Gang now gathered there.

One moment, the school hallway was completely empty aside from the Scoobies; the next, three people were standing in front of them. If it weren't for the pulse of displaced air, it would have looked like bad stop motion photography from an even worse 60's TV show.

A youthful-looking, petite blonde dressed in a set of well-used, but clearly carefully maintained black body armor and bristling with weapons was busy helping support an almost painfully thin, unshaven, grey-haired older man with a black eyepatch, who was similarly outfitted, while the third individual – a lean, black-haired, pale-faced Asian man of indeterminate age wearing an equally well-used set of body armor, as well as a sword sheathed across his back – stood next to the pair, swaying as though he were drunk or suffering from either extreme fatigue or a head injury. A small trail of blood was also visible, oozing down out of the man's left nostril and across his upper lip.

"Are you okay, honey?" the Scooby Gang heard the beautiful blonde ask, as she looked over at the Asian man.

"Sorry… sweetheart," the Scoobies could all clearly hear the Asian man say, his words sounding more than a little slurred to his audience's ears, "but... I seem to… have run completely… dry, now.

"In fact... I think… I might be… completely… out of… energy…now," the Japanese man managed to get out, before his knees abruptly collapsed and he toppled forward, his head impacting the corridor's floor with a hollow thud!

"Go help him, Claire-Bear," the grey-haired man ordered as he straightened up from his hunched over stance and pulled away from the blonde's grasp, indicating his fallen colleague with a nod of his head. "I'm good."

"You sure about that, boss?" the blonde responded, even as she hurried over and dropped to her knees next to their prostrate companion.

"Yeah, I'm sure I'm as good as I'm gonna be," the older man snapped in an annoyed tone. "And you already know that.

"So, how is he?" the one-eyed man then asked as he – and the dumbfounded Scoobies – watched the blonde check the guy's vital signs with a professional expertise.

"Not good, boss," the blonde provisionally identified as 'Claire' answered, she examined their companion. "We're losing him...

"Dammit, you're not leaving me here alone with just the boss, hero," the girl could be heard muttering in a low voice as she worked on him. "Not after all the time and effort I spent finding you, and all the crap we've gone through to get here!"

As the newly reunified Scooby Gang watched with fascinated bewilderment, the blonde swiftly pulled a large hypodermic syringe from a pouch on her web belt and stabbed it into her thigh with an air of experienced competence, allowing it to fill with her own blood.

Pulling the needle out, she then expertly slid the syringe into her companion's neck and depressed the plunger, emptying its contents into his veins. Withdrawing the needle, 'Claire' quickly capped it with the plastic cover which had originally secured it, and replaced it in her belt pouch, her movements practiced and automatic.

A few seconds following her actions, the man let out a low groan and stirred, his hand lifting and moving to cover his eyes from the brightness of the hall lights as he opened his eyes.

"Ohhh, boy. I feel like the floor of a taxicab," he quoted Bill Murray, his comment eliciting a small giggle from the blonde, who then leaned down towards him to bestow a long, passionate kiss on him, followed by a smack on the shoulder and a low-growled, "Don't worry me like that again, you hear me, hero?"

Having quietly watched the pair's interaction, the older man now noisily cleared his throat and said, "Well now, kids... If you two are finished with your own personal version of 'Passions' for the moment, do you think we can maybe get back to the reason why we came here?"

Grinning as the blonde gave him a sour look while muttering a low-voiced, and most likely rude and unflattering, response in an unrecognized foreign language, the eldest member of the trio finally turned to directly address the Scoobies, who were carefully and intently observing everything from their positions only a few yards away, and casually waved at them as he said, "Hey there, guys.

"I'm sure you're wondering how and why we showed up here on your proverbial doorstep, right?"

"Who are you people?! And what are you doing here?" and "Who the hell are you guys, and whadaya want?" immediately erupted from the lips of Buffy and Faith, respectively.

"We're some badly needed messengers, people, here to tell you guys some things you really need to know," the middle-aged guy told them, with an oddly familiar smirk.

"And, like the old saying goes, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news," he continued, still flashing them that unsettlingly familiar smirk.

"The bad news is that, if things don't change significantly in just the next seven years, the human race is gonna be heading up the list of this planet's endangered species," their eldest-appearing visitor told the horrified Scoobies.

"But, the good news," the one-eyed man then gave his listeners an encouraging smile, even as he winced slightly as he unslung the large backpack he was carrying, "is that we're gonna tell you exactly what it is that's going to be happening, and you guys, and some other people we need to talk to, are hopefully going to be able to prevent all of the apocalypses comin' down the pike."

"Okay, that's the why. How about the who?" Xander said challengingly.

"Well, this lovely young lady is Claire Bennet-Nakamura; and the guy lying on the floor in front of her is her husband, Hiro Nakamura-Bennet," the old guy introduced his fellow travelers.

"And I have to say, I'm shocked – shocked, I tell you – and deeply wounded that none of you guys recognize me," the older guy went on, the wide grin on his face revealing that the man was quite enjoying the confusion and bewilderment that his words were creating in his listeners.

"I'm Xander Harris, former Donut Deliverer Supreme!" he informed the Scoobies with a grin. "Too bad I seem to be completely out of any confectionary goodness right at the moment. Although I'll note that that's primarily due to a serious lack of very many living bakers in the future."

"Eh, that's okay. These guys are gonna have to get used to the fact that I'm *done* being their step and fetch it, so there's no time like the present to get started on that," Xander shrugged, finally recognizing his older-looking doppelganger and provisionally accepting what he'd just been told.

The shocked, disbelieving and horrified expressions on all of the Scoobies' faces seemed to be the only reactions his audience were capable of, after hearing those incredible bits of news.

***

Sunnydale library
A short while later


"So, so what you're telling us is that not only is the Mayor attempting to Ascend and become an Old One, with the intention of eating the graduating class and their families during the upcoming Commencement ceremonies… but that's only the, the first of a series of potential apocalypses we will be facing over the course of the next several years?"

Giles' query seemed to summarize the situation fairly well, to judge by the nodding heads and simultaneously skeptical and incredulous faces of the Gang as they perched themselves on various pieces of the semi-demolished ruins that remained of the library's interior, following the Sisterhood of Jhe's attempt earlier in the evening to open the Hellmouth.

While the older version of Xander Harris was positioned at one end of the now even more battered table which they typically used for research, his younger self, Buffy, Willow and Faith were all scattered along the rest of the lengthy table.

The elder Harris' two companions were casually leaning against shelving a short distance behind him and on either side, providing subtle, but unmistakable backup. Giles and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (who had unexpectedly arrived the previous day, and had had quite the baptism of fire this evening) had both taken up positions flanking the end of the table opposite their visitor's spot. And Angel was a few yards away, leaning his battered self against the equally battered end of one of the bookshelves, still not one hundred percent recovered from the big battle with the Hellmouth demon.

Each member of the Scooby Gang was also paying rapt attention to the grey-haired man at the end of the table. The fact that the one-eyed man had provided each of the Scooby Gang members present, in separate and private meetings, with private background information that none of them had revealed to anyone else in the group at that point in time had confirmed the visitor's identity to one and all's satisfaction.

"Yep. That's exactly what I'm telling you, Giles," the one-eyed man who'd identified himself as a future version of Xander Harris nodded agreeably.

"And oddly enough, dealing with Mayor McSnake and his undead minions turned out to be the *least* of the various problems that we ended up facing, in the timeline I experienced," Harris went on, the amiable expression on his face churning through a varied mixture of emotions before finally settling into what seemed to be his default expression of sardonic amusement at the world.

"But what really makes the whole apocalypse situation here even worse," the time traveler went on to inform his raptly listening audience, "is that it turns out that there are also several alien races out there in the depths of deep, dark space that basically view the human race as 'the other white meat,' too.

"And they're all completely comfortable with the whole 'laying waste to the planet, if opposed by anyone' idea, as well," he informed his incredulous audience, "so it eventually seemed like, whenever we weren't busy at home fighting demons, we ended up helping other groups stop whatever the most current alien apocalypse was, and vice versa."

"There really are advanced alien races here, spying on the human race?" Willow squeaked, her eyes wide with astonishment at the apparent confirmation of what were believed to be various off-the-wall conspiracy theories.

"Well, not exactly, Willow. There *are* quite a few other civilizations scattered across not only the Milky Way galaxy, as well as several other nearby galaxies, as well," Older Xander informed his audience in an almost blasé manner, while Claire and Hiro shrugged, with the mien of people listening to a conversation whose subject matter they were already familiar with.

"In fact, while there are alien civilizations which developed independently of Earth, most of the ones out there are actually human cultures which developed from people kidnapped from various existing civilizations here on Earth and transplanted by a bunch of parasitic, mind-controlling worms several thousand years ago," the ostensible temporal traveler told the wide-eyed Scoobies.

"And incidentally, on the down side, a couple of those cultures were moderately to completely hostile to Earth, for various reasons which don't really matter at this point in time," he noted parenthetically.

"On the even worse side, though, there are two completely alien species, the Ori, who view humanity as lower level beings only suitable for worshiping them, and the Wraith, who look at humanity as, quite literally, a brand new food source," Older Xander went on.

"In the timeline we lived through," the former Scooby then said, as he indicated himself and his two companions, "approximately seventeen years from now, immediately following a major attempted demonic invasion, the Ori launched a successful asteroid attack against Earth, as the first part of their own intended invasion. That event ended up obliterating almost all of Chile and Argentina and screwing up weather patterns throughout the rest of the world. We eventually managed to take the Ori out, but it cost us a lot of time, resources and a hell of a lot of good people before that battle was over.

"And then, less than eighteen months later, two demonic armies invaded and devastated half of the remaining habitable parts of the planet, since they wanted to take advantage of all the chaos and social upheaval caused by the Ori's attacks," Older Harris continued, his nonchalant, offhand recitation of the devastation inflicted on their world by various malign forces somehow magnifying the impact of the horrors he described to his audience. "The attacks were coordinated by a law firm which was run by three demon lords calling themselves the 'Senior Partners'.

"What Wolfram & Hart didn't count on, though," Older Xander went on with his account of the world' future history, "was that the Wraith, who are best described as space vampires that literally suck the life out of you, had learned about Earth's existence and decided to invade the planet themselves, since Earth could provide a much larger source of food for them than nearly all of the planets in their home galaxy combined could.

"We eventually managed to take out those bastards, too, but the net result was that we ended up with approximately eighty-five percent of the planetary ecosystem destroyed, and the total surviving human population at that point was less than fifty-seven million people, scattered across the planet and several dozen colonies and space stations inside our solar system," their scarred and grey-haired visitor concluded his history lesson, and an appalled and horror-struck silence pervaded the library for the next several minutes as the current day Scooby Gang tried to absorb the information they'd been given and consider some of its various ramifications.

"Well, I dunno about anyone else – but far as I'm concerned, all that sucks. With a capital S," the present-day Xander eventually declared with a frown.

A clearly shaken and disturbed Giles said to the older Xander, "Yes, quite. And, and given the information you've provided us, errr... exactly what do you three intend to do, in, in, in order to ensure that things do not, um, proceed as you have described?

"And more importantly, how can *we* help?" he added, knowing that none of his charges could now even consider not contributing whatever efforts might be requested of them, if it could possibly avert any of the events they'd had described to them.

Older Xander laughed with what sounded like actual humor at the Englishman's questions, and the smile which creased his lips appeared to be just as genuine as he said, "That's a damn good question, Giles, and I'm glad you asked me that.

"Problem is, I don't think any of you people are gonna like the answers I'm gonna give you," he stated. "Not if you're anything like the way I remember you to be."

Turning to survey the rest of the Scoobies as they stared at him with puzzled expressions on their faces, Older Xander faced the elder Chosen One and asked, "How old do I look to you, Buffy?"

"Uh, about fifty-five. Maybe sixty?" the blonde Slayer answered with a perplexed frown, clearly surprised by the incongruity of the question.

"Not quite. I'm actually a hundred and thirteen years old," Harris corrected her, ignoring the various new expressions of surprise his comment generated as he turned to address Giles and Wesley and ask, "Okay, Watcher-type people – just how much does the Council know about the beings usually called ''Raiden's Get'?"

"Well, ah," Wesley began uncertainly, after first glancing over at Giles and receiving a nod that he should answer the question posed, "the term is generally used to refer to a group of, um – beings – who are generally indistinguishable from humans, and who are reputed to be able to heal virtually any type of damage they receive, allegedly even to the extent that they can return to life after being killed.

"Based on the few eyewitness reports the Council possesses, they typically also display an astonishing degree of proficiency with a wide variety of bladed weapons, although each of the beings in question tended to favor one particular type of weapon over most others, with the choices observed ranging from battle axes to Claymores," Wesley continued his impromptu lecture.

"The Council believes these beings are most likely the hybrid offspring of some humanoid demon claiming to be a demi-god or -goddess, and are most likely ignored or abandoned by their demonic parent subsequent to their dalliance with the human one," the junior Watcher continued his explanation. "Most arcane tests are unable to differentiate them from normal humans, and the only proof known to definitely identify them... uh, if memory serves, small bursts of lightning that will dance across any open wounds they receive, healing the injury to its former pristine condition.

"Rumors persist that most of these beings are hundreds – or in some cases, possibly thousands – of years old," the Junior Watcher additionally noted, "but there has never been verifiable documentation to substantiate those claims, and so most of the Councils' scholars are undecided as to the veracity of those particular allegations."

"Hmm. Interesting," Harris commented with a nod, before adding, "Okay, thanks for the info, Wes. I appreciate it."

Refocusing his attention on all of his intently listening audience, Older Xander then said, "Okay, just to get it out of the way, *I* am one of the beings generally referred to as 'Raiden's Get.'

"What that means," he went on to a now-completely focused group of listeners who appeared to be hanging on his every word, "is that, just like Wesley said, I can heal from virtually any injury I receive. All of my kind can, once my healing ability – which is most commonly referred to as a Quickening – is activated, and we don't physically age from that point in time on.

"And I can also testify, from personal experience, that I can recover from pretty much anything that would kill a normal human being," he declared with a self-satisfied smirk. "In fact, I heal even faster and better than Slayers do. Took me thirty-eight years to do it, but still, my birthright eventually manifested itself.

"Unfortunately, though," the time traveler noted, as he indicated the patch covering his left eye, "any injuries received prior to the Quickening being triggered, *won't* be healed.

"The Quickening only restores a person's body to the same approximate state of health they were in, prior to its activation," the older Harris explained.

Turning his attention to his younger doppelganger, Older Xander asked, "So, would you like to get your Quickening activated early, Junior?"

Up until now, Xander had been listening to his future self and trying to keep up with the thread of the conversation. Suddenly being faced with the fact he wasn't human, that he might even be half-demon – although, from the expression on Older Xander's face, he kinda doubted that scenario – the teen might have gone into a panic... if it wasn't for the fact that he suddenly realized that Tony Harris *wasn't* his father.

{ Yes, yes, yes! } Xander's inner nerd wanted to shout and dance with glee. { I'm *not* destined to be the latest addition to a long line of drunks and useless, unemployed jerks! And so what if my mom cheated on the guy? Oh, I can't *wait* to thank her for that! }

Staring at the older version of himself, Xander Harris allowed a wide smile to crease his face as he also realized that he now had indisputable and undeniable proof that he really wasn't just your ordinary, run of the mill 'normal' person, the way Buffy had been insisting he was.

And even better, once his power was activated, Buffy wouldn't have any basis for trying to exclude him from the Slaying in the future.

"You bet I would!" the younger Harris practically screamed his answer to the question he'd been asked, while fighting off the urge to do a triumphant Snoopy Dance to celebrate that piece of news.

"Okay, fine. We'll get around to that soon enough, kid," the elder Harris promised his younger self, with a serious look on his face.

"But before we do that, I've got some things that all of you need to hear before we do anything else, and I'm telling you up front, none of you are gonna like hearing what I have to say," Older Xander announced as he gave the entire group a measuring look.

Focusing his attention on Buffy and staring her directly in the eye, Harris said, "Buffy, even though you're probably the best fighter in this room right now – since you have two years more Slayage experience than Faith does, and you're a lot faster than Captain Hairgel, over there," he added parenthetically, indicating both of the other Scoobies with a wave of his hand, "and even though you're destined to take down one of the nastiest Big Bads imaginable, you wanna know what your problem is? Here and now, you have all of the leadership and strategic military skills of General George Custer."

"Hey!! What you mean by *that*?!" Buffy instantly shot back upon hearing the time traveler's evaluation, an angry and insulted expression on her face. "We've been doing just fine with the way I do things!"

Seeing the righteous indignation in the little blonde's eyes, Harris cut her impending tirade short with a quick slash of his hand and resumed his assessment of Buffy's leadership and strategic abilities.

"Well, since you were good enough to ask, I'll be glad to tell you," the visitor responded to the blonde's incensed comment in a calm and composed voice.

Which only served to increase Buffy's indignation.

"Remember how, the first week you arrived in Sunnydale and Jesse was grabbed by Darla, you went down into the sewers to rescue him, all by yourself?" Harris asked Buffy.

Waiting until she reluctantly nodded her acknowledgement of that particular unpleasant night, Harris then reminded her, "And do you also remember how, if Junior here," – he indicated his younger alternate self with a wave of his hand "– hadn't ignored your orders to wait until you came back, then you would have been trapped down there all alone, and you would have ended up as vamp chow?"

Looking at the red-faced girl who was obviously trying to think of some way to refute his point, the older Harris said, "That decision almost got you killed, Buffy, because none of you guys gave any real thought to what the possible consequences could be.

"Even after that vamp, Luke or whatever his name was, managed to fight you to a standoff at that mausoleum the night before… you still thought you would just waltz right in, rescue Jesse, whisk him out of the labyrinth that the Master had had his minions build for him down there, and that you could do it without any of the dozens of vamps down there having any chance of stopping you," he went on, shaking his head.

"No one – not you, not Giles, not Willow – really gave much thought to what you were gonna face down there," Older Xander added, in what was an almost gentle tone of voice.

"And don't think that I'm gonna say that I was thinking any clearer than you were, back then, because I wasn't," the older man admitted with a frown.

"To be honest, based on what I can remember I was thinking – well, I was at least partially hoping that my showing up and helping you rescue Jesse back then would make you think that I was some kind of badass and that would make you think better of me, and maybe even get you thinking about going out with me," the older Harris twin admitted with a somewhat rueful grin, while his younger counterpart covered his face with one hand and let out a low groan of mortification at that particular revelation.

"Yeah, that's why it's called being young and stupid. But getting back on topic – if you want to be the best leader you can be, Buffy – and I know you really do want that," Harris advised her, the clear concern in his gaze as he looked at her obvious to everyone present, "you need to learn how to think both clearly and strategically when going into a battle, and learn how to adapt established plans on the fly, to whatever changes might occur in the course of the battle. Because otherwise, you're going to lose people, and you really don't want to find out how something like that feels.

"And I can tell you from personal experience, it's something you never really get over," he added quietly.

Now shifting his focus to Willow, the time traveler immediately recognized the way she was looking at him, with a combination of outraged indignation at the way he'd spoken to Buffy and anticipatory worry about what he was going to say to her.

Giving her the slightest nod of acknowledgement about her concerns, Older Xander said, "As for you, Willow... while you have the potential to become one of the most powerful practitioners the world will ever see, Willow, you currently have all the spellcasting expertise and finesse of Mickey Mouse when he was the Sorcerer's Apprentice."

"NO, I DON'T! THAT'S NOT TRUE!" was the instant, outraged response the older Harris received.

Seeing the affronted and offended expression in the redhead's eyes that so perfectly matched the way Buffy had looked at him just a moment earlier, the older Harris doppelganger again held up a hand to stifle the furious protest he knew was coming and said, "Before you say anything more, Willow, I want you to answer me one question.

"To be exact, did Jenny Calender teach you everything you needed to know – all of the basic skills and background that any practitioner needs to work magic safely, in just the few weeks you two had together before she died?" he asked.

"And before you answer that, keep in mind what Giles has been teaching you about the hocus-pocus since then – or rather the lack of anything like that, if memory serves," Harris pointed out, concealing the satisfied smile that threatened to come out when he saw the redhead's expression shift and she slumped listlessly back against her chair as she decided against arguing with him.

Seeing the angry expression on his younger version's face at the way he had spoken to both Willow and Buffy, Older Xander took a moment to glance over at the youth and say, "Don't worry, kid – you're gonna hear all about your own problems in just a minute, but I have to finish up with Willow, first. So just sit back, shut up and wait your turn, okay?"

Returning his attention to the dejected redhead again, the time traveler said, "Continuing with the military analogy I used with Buffy a minute ago, Willow, you're essentially the witch-y equivalent of a buck private partway through Basic training, that's started Special Forces training before you're ready for it.

"What nobody ever seemed to consider – except me, for some reason – is that the first major spell Willow ever successfully cast was that damned *soul curse*, people! Remember –the Kalderash gypsy tribe didn't call it an ensouling *spell*, they called it the ensouling curse, with the emphasis on 'curse'!" he said, looking annoyed.

"And something else you people should keep in mind was that Willow only succeeded in casting it on her second try. Based on what I remember Cordy and Oz telling us afterwards, Willow was apparently at least partially possessed by someone or something," Harris reminded the group, glancing around to make sure they were paying attention.

"And while I can understand why no one thought about it at the time, given all the problems going on then, I still don't understand why nobody – and by 'nobody' I mean you, specifically, Giles," Harris noted reproachfully, as he looked over at the former Watcher, "remembered and checked her out, later, to make sure that whatever it was that helped her cast the spell wasn't still hanging around in her head."

Seeing the somewhat alarmed expressions the Scoobies now had on their faces – Willow, especially – and the shamefaced and mortified expression on Giles' face as he pointed out the potential hazard no one had previously recognized, Harris nodded affirmatively as he said, "Yeah, this *is* a Hellmouth, people! It's not like there haven't been other cases of possession happening around here, before this, right?"

"In any event, you haven't really had any significant problems, Willow, at least not so far. But you really need to go back and make sure you have all the basics down pat before you start trying to work with the more powerful magics," Harris told her, making sure he was looking her directly in the eyes while he did so.

"Get a strong and well-established foundation to build on, no matter how long it takes, and you'll be a lot better off, and a lot happier, than you were in the timeline I lived through," he warned her obliquely, not willing to say anything more specific at this point in time. "That's all I want for you, Willow.

"And now, it's your turn, Junior," Harris went on, now turning his attention to his younger self.

"We both know that you have all the protective instincts of a mother bear, which isn't necessarily a bad thing," Harris informed his younger aspect with the same brutal honesty he'd used with Buffy and Willow a few minutes earlier. "Your main problem, though, is that you have no real combat skills to back those instincts up, aside from those your typical barroom brawler has. And that's simply not good enough, as far as the Slaying is concerned.

"Plus, you also have all of the survival instincts of a lemming touring the Grand Canyon, whenever you see anyone you care about in danger," he noted, meeting the younger man's outraged gaze at his harsh, but accurate, evaluation with an unflinching expression. "And that's a large part of the reason why Buffy and Willow get so worried about you, and why they've been trying to cut you out of the Slaying lately.

"Oh, sure – that does *not* justify, in any way at all, their attempting to push you out of the fight entirely, the way I remember it happening during this point in time," Older Xander added, turning and giving each girl a disapproving look as he spoke. "That's not a decision they have any right to make, and they damn well ought to know it, too."

For their part, both girls tried to meet Harris' gaze, but neither could manage to do so for more than a few seconds, before each of them looked away.

"But as I said, right now you're stupid enough to throw yourself on top of a grenade for them, or for anyone you care about, without even trying to analyze the situation first. And don't try to argue with me; I may be over a century old, but I still remember what I was like when I was eighteen. Namely, desperate to please. Not to mention, desperate to get laid."

The present day Xander choked, and Older Xander went on relentlessly, "One of the few advantages to growing up, kid, is learning that there's a time and place for sacrificing yourself for the greater good. Even if that's not something that you'll need to worry about, after tonight – since we'll be activating your Quickening, once I'm finished with the rest of the unit evaluations here," he noted, almost as an aside.

"And now it's *your* turn under the gun, so to speak, Faith," the time traveler said next, as he turned his attention to the brunette Slayer, causing her to startle slightly as she realized he was addressing her, and not Giles, as she'd been expecting.

"What? Whadaya mean, X?" she asked, clearly surprised that she was being included in this discussion.

"I don't have any problems," Faith declared with a indifferent expression and an unconcerned shrug of her shoulders.

"You say that, Faith, but we both know better. Because I'm not the Xander Harris you slept with earlier tonight; I'm the Xander Harris who's known you for *years*," Harris immediately contradicted the Bostonian native, shaking his head as Buffy and Willow gasped.

"Deep down, or rather not so deep down, you're majorly pissed off with everyone here. And there're a couple reasons why. One, because Giles is supposed to be your Watcher, but the only Slayer he seems to care about is Buffy. And two, because you feel like Junior, Buffy and Willow only show any interest in you when it comes to the Slaying, and because they don't invite you to hang out with them, the way Cordy and Oz do," he said, paying no attention to the furious look Faith was giving him for that statement.

"The thing is, though, part of the reason the kids here haven't been going out of their way to include you in anything they've been doing," Older Xander said, indicating with a wave of his hand the other three teens who were sitting around the big wooden table and now staring intently at them, "is after that incident with the fake Watcher, and the evil demon glove she was after, you've been doing a pretty good job of keeping to yourself, and making them think you're really not interested in hanging out with them."

Seeing the quickly buried look of uncertainty, anger and hurt that had flitted across the younger girl's face at his words, the temporally displaced Scooby smiled as reassuringly at her as he could as he said, "Hey, nobody here's guilt-free, Faith.

"You basically don't trust anyone because of the way you were treated by the people who were supposed to take care of you, when you were younger," Older Xander told her bluntly, and he caught the almost unnoticeable cringe Faith made as he spoke.

"As I recall – Buffy and Willow haven't exactly gone out of their way to make you feel welcome, because they're both more involved in dealing their own problems, just like any other teenaged girls," he went on, ignoring completely the outraged and resentful glances his observation brought him from the young women mentioned. "And don't look at me like that, you two – after all, cheating on Oz? Hiding the fact that Angel here came back from Hell? Seriously, need I say anything more?"

The time-traveler turned back to face Faith. "You think that Junior, here, has only been nice to you because he wants to sleep with you – which, granted, he most definitely does," Harris noted parenthetically as he continued listing what he saw as some of the various issues that needed to be addressed by the group, and ignored the pissed-off look his younger version gave him for that announcement.

"But if you'd paid any real attention to him, you'd know that that's not the primary reason why he's been nice to you," Harris Senior told the Boston-born Slayer, again ignoring the pissed-off look his younger doppelganger was throwing his way, this time for the appellation he kept using. "That's just the way he treats all the women he knows.

"You'd realize that, if you gave it any real thought," Older Xander said with a grin, "since he even treats Harmony and the rest of the Cordettes with a minimum amount of respect, and I'm sure you know by now what he thinks about them."

Seeing the amused smiles and grins his comment had produced among the four teens at that last observation, he added, "You guys all need to actually talk to each other, and about more than just the Slaying. I'm not saying that you'll all automatically end up with a happily-ever-after situation, but at the very least you'll end up with *real* friends. And that's something you need, Faith. a Lot more than you're willing to admit to yourself, at least at this point in time."

With that issue addressed, Older Xander turned and looked at the older of the two Watchers.

"I don't think we really need to get into the details of how you screwed up, do we, Giles?" he asked, his words and tone of voice revealing a clearly deep-seated respect and affection. "Especially during Buffy's birthday, last week?"

"You are entirely correct, Xander – I, uhm, have made a great many mistakes with regard to how I have handled many of the situations here. Not the least of which was, uh, Buffy's Cruciamentum," Giles nodded his agreement with the other's evaluation. "The only mitigating factors I can plead is that, for each decision we made, we believed it to be the best choice available to us at the time."

"You're right about that, Giles," Harris nodded his own agreement. "And believe me, I also know from personal experience that when you don't have a lot of time and you've only got a handful of relevant facts, any decision you make is probably gonna be a bad one.

"Now that you're aware that you've been making mistakes, I know you'll start giving everything more thought, so I don't see any need to discuss this any further right now. Do you?" the traveler asked.

Seeing the older Englishman shake his head, Harris Senior turned to look at Wyndham-Pryce.

"You haven't been here long enough to make all that many mistakes, Wesley," he declared as he addressed the younger Englishman.

"Still, having said that – aside from the fact that you haven't moved Faith out of that roach motel she's been staying in, the biggest problem you've got these days is thinking that the Council is always right, when it comes to how they treat the Slayer," Harris stated, his comment eliciting a surprised and outraged expression from the junior Watcher. Harris also ignored the surprised and appreciative look Faith gave him for addressing the problem with her accommodations.

"And before you say anything, young man," Older Xander cautioned Wesley as he pointed a finger at the British man, "consider the way the Council shows up and treats the Slayer as though she were property, without regard for any thoughts or desires she might have – and then imagine how *you* would react, if someone did the exact same thing to you.

"Over the years, Wes, I've seen the end results that the Council's current mindset produce. And all I'll say at the moment is that they aren't pretty, and that nobody involved ended up living a long and happy life," the time traveler stated, the expression on his face one of anger, loss and several other, unidentifiable emotions, his audience noticed.

"And that's just one of the many reasons why the three of us made the decision to come back to this particular here and now," Older Xander declared as he waved a hand again, to indicate himself and his fellow travelers, "along with everything we could get our hands on, about pretty much anything significant we could find out about, that was going on in the world at this point in time.

"Like I said, we've got extremely detailed information, as well as the entire spread of any test results available, for every major and minor scientific and magical project that was being investigated anywhere in the world at this point in time, the long-term results of every economic and political decision made for the past fifty years prior to this year, and detailed engineering and manufacturing drawings for all of the major scientific discoveries and developments which took place between now and the time we left our old timeline," the time traveler stated, gesturing towards the backpacks the three visitors had brought with them.

"By the most conservative estimate available to us before we traveled back, each of us in this room will be multimillionaires by the end of this year, and billionaires in two," Harris announced, before lapsing into silence and allowing his audience a moment to consider exactly what he'd just said.

Then his attention turned to the ensouled vampire in the room...

***

A discussion a few minutes later…

"That's not possible! Angel would *never* do something like that!" Buffy declared, instantly coming to her former lover's defense upon the elder Harris' words.

"Yeah, you're right, Buffy," the time traveler immediately agreed with her, making the petite blonde halt in the midst of her rant and stare at him in confusion. "Angel wouldn't.

"But since you obviously weren't paying attention, you didn't hear me properly," he admonished her. "I didn't say *Angel* was influencing all of you; I said *Angelus* was."

Seeing the assorted looks of confusion evident on the Scoobies' faces, Harris Senior let out a short sigh, rubbed his face with both hands and muttered under his breath, "This has *got* to be some kind of divine retribution; it's almost as bad as dealing with that pack of Potential Slayers, during 2003..."

Ostentatiously ignoring the small giggle his comment drew from Claire and the puzzled looks on the Scoobies' faces, Harris repeated his earlier statement.

"As I just said a minute ago, *Angelus* is who's been using the mental influence the Aurelius line of vampires are noted for, to make most of the people in your group feel more sympathetic towards Angel than they normally would," he said.

"Uhm, uh, excuse me, Xander, but that… makes no sense at all," Giles made a somewhat flustered objection, as he pulled off his glasses and began cleaning them.

As Buffy, Willow and Wesley chimed in their own agreement with Giles' statement, Harris Senior noted that both his younger doppelganger and Faith were now giving him their full attention.

"Actually, it makes a great deal of sense when you stop and consider all the aspects of the situation which the demon's in, Giles," Senior replied.

"Think about it, people – Angelus, the blood demon which originally took control of Liam McCarthy's body after Darla drained and turned him," the older man clarified who he was speaking about, "was abruptly shoved aside and chained up after the Kalderash tribe yanked Liam's soul out of the afterlife, and stuck it back into his corpse.

"All of a sudden, that *thing* found itself a prisoner inside the body it had been using," Harris explained, "while the kidnapped soul is now back in a corporeal body, with a very vivid and complete set of the memories of what the blood demon did while it was controlling that body.

"Now, having met and dealt with a number of Kalderash gypsies over the years, I find it difficult to believe that the tribe didn't say anything at all to Angel here about the curse," the time traveler went on, "mostly because I can't see them passing up any chance to make the new soul they've just used to torture the demon, feel even worse – by making sure that Soul Boy knows that if he ever gets too happy, then the curse will be broken, and he'll be the one responsible for releasing Angelus back on to all the helpless and unsuspecting people in the world."

Seeing the puzzled expressions on virtually everyone's face, Older Xander continued with his explanation.

"You see, I think that what happened is that Angelus, the blood demon, used its mental powers to mind whammy the soul, Angel, and make him forget entirely about the existence of the curse's little loophole," Harris told his now intently-listening audience.

"That way, since Angel wouldn't remember that he couldn't ever risk being happy enough to release the demon, Angelus significantly increased the likelihood of his eventually being freed," Older Xander pointed out.

"And as far as my saying the demon was influencing most of you is concerned," he then went on, "I can distinctly recall Buffy initially being significantly unimpressed when Captain Hairgel first started randomly showing up in the shadows to give her cryptic warning about impending crises and then disappearing again," he reminded his listeners.

"What I think happened is, once Angelus learned about Buffy being the Slayer, and her being helped by her friends, he took advantage of the opportunity to work his way into a group of mostly impressionable teenagers by helping out, and waiting to see what opportunities might come his way. Specifically, by using his influence to make Buffy and Willow and Giles regard Angel as more like a big demonic teddy bear with hair-gel, than a normal blood-sucking vampire," he shrugged.

"Well then, if that is what Angelus was attempting to accomplish with regard to Miss Summers and Miss Rosenberg and Mr. Giles," Wesley objected after a moment's consideration of what he'd heard, "then why didn't he try to do the same with young Mr. Harris, here?"

"He almost certainly did," Older Xander responded with a nod and a grin, satisfied that at least one person was giving his proposal serious thought.

"The problem he ran into, though," he then went on, "was that, basically, any mental health professional you might ask would almost certainly consider Junior here as pretty much pathological in his hatred of vampires. All vampires. Plus, when you add in the girl of his dreams was crushing on the same sort of creature that turned Jesse into a monster...

"I suspect that the best Angelus was able to do, at least as far as Junior and Angel coexisting was concerned, was ensure that Mini-me, here, wouldn't try to stake him, the first chance he got."

The various thoughtful looks and nodding heads – especially, Angel's – that his explanation received made it clear that everyone present was going to give the elder Harris' words a great deal of serious consideration.

"So what now?" Faith suddenly asked, attempting to look bored.

Older Xander frowned. "I need to talk with Cordelia, as well, but that'll have to wait until the morning. I suppose..." he turned to stare at his younger counterpart. "...it's time to make good on that promise about activating your Quickening."

***

A few minutes later

"Are you really sure you want me to do this, kid?" the elder version of the founding Scooby asked his younger doppelganger, as he checked the ritual circle he'd inscribed on the floor one final time.

"'Cause I'll tell you two important things up front: first, once we begin, we can't stop; and second, this really is gonna hurt like hell."

"Yeah, I'm absolutely sure, old man," the adolescent Harris nodded his confirmation as he watched with avid curiosity how his older version scrutinized the precisely drawn circle with an exacting eye for detail. "I most definitely want you to do whatever you need to do to activate this healing ability you say I'll get, 'cause this way, I'll be able to help out a whole lot more than I do, now."

{ Damn. Those lines look like they were drawn with a compass and pen, } the eighteen-year-old thought to himself as he, too, inspected the circle. { How'd he manage to make them so precise, just drawing them by hand? Did he use some kind of magic to do that? }

"Will you show me how to do stuff like that, once the ritual's done?" Xander asked his time-worn twin, a hopeful expression on his face as he indicated the work Harris Senior had just completed.

"Don't worry, Junior," the older Xander smiled as he glanced over that his younger and more innocent self. "By the time I'm finished, you'll know everything you need to know, in order to get the job done properly."

Turning to address the rest of the group, who were watching their goings-on with fascinated interest, the time traveler said, "Okay, now, everybody except Hiro, move back at least five feet.

"I'm going to activate the wards we need to ensure the ritual doesn't bleed over and possibly affect anyone else, because I don't want anybody getting singed," he announced. "Once he's done his part, Hiro'll move himself out of the circle."

Nodding approvingly as the Scoobies, and Claire, stepped back the indicated distance, Harris muttered a lengthy incantation in a low voice and the ritual circle began glowing, its luminescence gradually increasing until it was as bright as any of the florescent lights in the ceiling, as it formed a scintillating dome over the trio inside it.

"Okay, now, kid – sit down here, right in front of me," the elder Scooby directed as he dropped to the floor and assumed a cross-legged Indian-style position on one side of the small yin yang symbol he'd drawn inside the ritual circle. The younger version of Harris did so, while also noting that his older version's Asian companion had moved to stand behind his doppelganger, apparently for his part of the ritual.

"All right. What do we do next?" Xander asked curiously as he watched his older self pull a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife from a sheath on his lower leg.

"Well, first, I need to say the appropriate words," Older Xander replied with a small grin as he sliced open the palm of his left hand and let his blood drop onto the yin yang symbol in front of him.

"There can be only one," the Immortal then intoned, an instant before he quickly leaned forward across the small space separating them – and shoved the knife into his younger self's heart, killing him instantly.

Chaos immediately exploded throughout the rest of the library as the Scoobies all screamed protests at the apparent treachery they'd just witnessed.

Buffy and Faith both leaped forward towards the circle, swords in hand and enraged expressions on their faces – only to bounce away as though they'd hit some sort of rubbery wall, which repelled them with only a minimal amount of force.

Meanwhile, even as he began gathering his admittedly minor magical power so that he could properly punish his foster child's murderer, a puzzled Giles witnessed Hiro pull his katana from its sheath on his back and use it to effortlessly decapitate Older Xander, a bare second after his teammate had murdered his younger doppelganger.

As the now headless time traveler's body slumped forward to fall against its younger self's corpse, small forks of azure lightning started to erupt from the neck's stump and began swirling through the air inside the glowing dome, while Hiro vanished from inside the dome, reappearing an instant later at his wife's side.

Everyone present froze in place and watched as though enthralled, as an ever-growing lightning storm flared and ricocheted within the now-brightly pulsating ritual dome. Each cascading bolt of blue-white energy that stuck the dead teen's body was absorbed by his corpse, while the time traveler's form seemed to be slowly sublimating as the energy tempest raged

After what seemed to be an eternity, the seemingly never-ending cataracts of energy slowly subsided, leaving only a solitary unmoving body lying on the library floor inside the now faded and deactivated ritual circle, while the Scooby Gang stared at the motionless corpse with stunned anguish and the two temporal travelers stood by in silence and waited.

A few seconds later, a low groan shattered the silence and the seemingly paralyzed group all leaped forward towards the dark-haired teen who was pushing himself up off the floor and looking around in confusion.

"Son of a bitch!" Xander Harris could be heard muttering, an instant before he was overwhelmed by a sobbing blonde and redhead, an upset but nominally in-control brunette, and two clearly astonished and marveling Englishmen.

"The old bastard was right – that definitely hurt like hell!"

***

A few minutes later…

"Well, of *course*, we didn't give you any details about the activation ritual," Claire snorted, in response to Giles' narrow-eyed and clearly irate question.

"Come on, admit it – if we'd told you beforehand that it required killing the younger version of the Boss, you wouldn't have let us anywhere near the guy," she told the intently listening Scoobies, effortlessly shrugging off the still-angry glares Buffy, Willow and Faith were giving her, for her part in their friend's power activation/murder.

Ignoring Faith's clearly heard, "We'd have done a *lot* more than that, sister," the blonde time traveler gave the elder Englishman a charming smile as she said, "And now that that little detail is taken care of, as the Boss would've said if he were still here, we can proceed to the next step of the plan."

"And exactly what might this next step of this plan you mentioned earlier entail, exactly?" Giles asked in a very British tone of voice, while giving Claire a narrow-eyed, disapproving look.

"Xander? You wanna handle this one?" the blonde woman asked him.

"No, Claire-bear, you go ahead. I'm... still having trouble integrating a hundred years' worth of memories, here," Xander shook his head. He ignored the funny looks Buffy and Willow sent him for his automatic use of the woman's nickname, as he focused on burying the bulk of some very disturbing memories in order to function properly.

Memories of Buffy committing suicide by diving off a tower in order to save her little sister Dawn – someone who didn't exist yet.

Memories of Willow trying to destroying the world following the death of her lover named Tara – even if her current incarnation didn't know that she liked girls, yet.

Memories of attending Cordelia's funeral in Los Angeles, after she spent nearly a year in a coma and nearly four years as Angel's Vision Girl...

Those and many, *many* others almost as painful…

Nodding, Claire cleared her throat and glanced at Hiro, before following Xander's orders.

"Well, in a nutshell, we're planning on calling a lot of people and giving them a head's-up about some of the upcoming events we've already told you guys about," the blonde answered the original question posed to her by Giles.

"Hey, hon! Do you think Stargate Command will accept a collect call, if I ask specifically for Colonel Jack O'Neill?" Claire called over to her husband, as she picked up the library's phone and ignored both Giles' sputtering protests and the teen Scoobies' various approving grins at the reaction she'd managed to provoke.


FIN (for now)

The End

You have reached the end of "A Visit From An OLD Friend". This story is complete.

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