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This story is No. 2 in the series "Fixing The Future". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The newly enlightened Scoobies and their visitors now have the problem of trying to implement the changes they intend to make, if they're going to ensure that the human race and their allies survive what their various enemies have planned.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered
Television > Heroes
GreywizardFR1838,8021338,6322 Aug 1416 Aug 14Yes

Chapter One

This is entry #2 in my 2014 August Fic-A-Day challenge series.

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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, the various Stargate series and maybe some other assorted series, too.

Time Frame: Picks up immediately following my earlier story, 'A Visit From An OLD Friend', and then continues its journey into my own personal variant of The Twilight Zone. Yeah, it’s my own personal universe, and you can only visit because I say so. So, there!

Spoilers: I'd say none whatsoever for any of the series involved, because I've thrown canon out of the cargo hatch at forty thousand feet, and I'm thoroughly enjoying listening to the screams dopplering away in the distance.

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 and/or biased, be prepared to provide justification in the form of canon citations and examples, and not just emotional outbursts that I'm prejudiced against your favorite character.

Feedback: Of course! Like Tenhawk says, it's the coin of the realm, do don't be cheap!

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.

Author's Note 3: This is the second story in my 'Fixing The Future' series, and begins immediately after the conclusion of 'A Visit From An OLD Friend'.

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Chapter One

Sunnydale High School
The Library

January 26, 1999


"Are you *sure* you're okay, Xander? That ritual thing looked like it musta really hurt, what with all the lightning bolts and you getting stabbed and, and everything..."

Xander Harris shook his head in reflexive minor irritation as he heard Buffy Summers inquiring about his well-being, in what appeared to be a now-automatic reflex whenever she thought he might be hurt or injured.

He also noted the only-partially wiped-away tear tracks on both Buffy's and Willow's faces – and the clearly anxious and troubled expression on Faith's face, as well – and he immediately stifled the equally reflexive retort he'd been about to make regarding Buffy's unneeded – but quite understandable and, really, not entirely unwarranted – concern, as several years' worth of related memories of the tiny blonde worrying about him and other people filled his mind.

As Xander reluctantly acknowledged to himself the validity all of his friends' concerns when it involved his being injured prior to this evening, the newly-activated Immortal tried to sooth Buffy's anxiety as he gave all three girls gathered around him a reassuring smile. Then he said, "I'm fine, pretty ladies.

"Really. I'm perfectly okay, now that I'm finally who and what I was always meant to be," Xander insisted, giving them all what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

Okay, then," he sighed with a mixture of annoyance and aggravation when none of the three's concerned expressions changed in the slightest after hearing his previous declaration. "Screw being polite and reassuring.

"Get that look off your faces, and listen up!" Harris then barked rather brusquely at the girls.

"Once Older-Me triggered my First Death, Hiro's decapitating him let the ritual accomplish a couple of other things which he wanted to happen," he gruffly informed the three girls, who were now staring at him with mixed surprise and astonishment. "Bottom line, the plan worked just like it was supposed to, understand? So now, I'm actually in the best physical condition I've ever been in, if nothing else!"

"What kind of 'other things' are you talking about, Xander?" Willow immediately asked, her curiosity piqued about what exactly had happened just a few minutes previously, in the expectation that, in turn, would kick-start what Xander could tell would most likely be a virtually inexhaustible series of questions.

"Before I can answer that, Willow, you all need a little background about what a Quickening actually is, and what it does," Harris replied as he glanced around at his friends.

Looking over and seeing that both Watchers were paying rapt attention to him, too, Xander gave each of them a guarded look and said, "And for the record, what I'm about to say is for your own information only. I do NOT want the Watchers Council being told any of this, understand? Or else, you two can leave right now. You choose."

Seeing the conflicted expression on Wesley's face at his comment, Harris elaborated further on his earlier statement.

"And before you say anything, there's something you need to know, Wesley. Back in the previous timeline, once the Council found out about me not being human – thanks to you reporting it – one particular faction of your people tried to have me killed," he explained, his words eliciting gasps of outrage and indignation from all three girls, an angry scowl from Giles and a look of utter surprise from Wesley.

"Based on what we learned a few years later, they apparently considered my associating with Buffy and Faith and the other Slayers that were activated – and I'll get to that part of the story later, don't ask me for details yet," he noted parenthetically as he saw the various expressions of surprise and interest on the group's faces at that particular revelation. "Anyway, those putzes thought my Quickening might somehow mystically pollute or contaminate the Slayer line, so they hired an assassin from the Order of Taraka to kill me.

"Needless to say, he didn't succeed," Xander added with a quick, vicious smile, "but I'd like to avoid any sort of repeat of that particular problem, so you keep your damn mouth shut, Wes. Or else this time around, I won't stop with just kicking your ass for deciding your superiors needed to know things which they clearly didn't. You're gonna end up a head shorter if you betray me that way, you understand what I'm saying?" The ruthlessness which previously had only occasionally been displayed by the younger man was now being seen in full force.

"Well, uh, yes. And, um, after hearing your explanation, I understand your concerns completely, Mr. Harris – uh, Xander," Wesley nodded his head in agreement, while the others – especially Buffy and Willow – looked shocked at the unexpected death threat. "And I'll also admit that I can see some of the more – conservative – members of the Council quite readily ordering such actions, while deciding to do so entirely on their initiative.

"Very well. You have my word that I will not mention your newly-acquired abilities in my reports, unless or until you authorize my doing so," he promised.

"Thanks, Wes. I appreciate that," Xander gave the younger Watcher an approving nod. " Now, let's get back to my explanation about Immortality.

"The first time that one of Raiden's Get – no, hell with that description, the first time a *pre-Immortal* dies as a result of any sort of violence, aside from decapitation," the newly-activated Immortal informed his raptly-listening audience, "his or her Quickening is triggered.

"What the Quickening does is essentially supercharge the entire body with a kinda magical energy that some Immortals say comes from something they call the Source of Immortality, so that any mortal injuries are very quickly healed, and we can then resurrect ourselves, thanks to that sort of life energy.

"And from that point on, an Immortal will no longer age, any injuries they receive will heal quite rapidly, and if they die, they'll revive again, usually within a matter of minutes," Xander explained to his fascinated audience.

"The only way for an Immortal to be killed, completely and irrevocably, is to be decapitated or have their body wholly destroyed, to the extent that there's basically nothing left of them to regenerate," he went on.

"There's also this whole intra-cultural thing known as the Game – a tradition, believe it or not – that pretty much says all Immortals everywhere will have to eventually fight each other to their Final Death – and yeah, that *is* the term that we use – Final Death," Xander noted, sighing and shaking his head the way he'd seen Giles do sometimes, when he witnessed what he considered displays of adolescent foolishness.

"You see, when an Immortal undergoes his or her Final Death, their Quickening will gather above their body like a big ball of energy, complete with lightning and other really cool-looking special effects," the Founding Scooby elaborated further on his previous statements with a sardonic grin.

"You saw a display of it just a couple minutes ago, when Older-Me died," he noted, by way of explanation.

"Anyway, the Quickening is who we are, what we know, the sum of all our strength and power. So what happens when two Immortals fight to the death is that the loser's Quickening will be absorbed by the winner, along with all of the knowledge and skills they've learned over the course of their entire life, making the winner more powerful and more knowledgeable with each Quickening they absorb.

"So, in a nutshell, that ritual which Older-Me performed was designed to not only allow me to more easily integrate all of his memories that I got along with his Quickening, but age my body a few years, too – so that I won't look like I'm eighteen years old for the rest of my life," Xander told the other Scoobies. "Usually, after a Final Death, the loser's body remains, along with the head, and it doesn't sublimate into the ether the way his did."

"Wow," Willow said, her eyes wide as she tried to absorb all the information that her friend had just imparted to her.

"Hang on, I don't get it. Why the artificial aging thing? I mean, why would you not want to be eighteen anymore?" Buffy asked, looking confused.

Xander exhaled and pinched the bridge of his nose, something that almost wigged Buffy out completely for the way it resembled how her Watcher did that. Harris then said, "I keep forgetting how you're just barely eighteen years old yourself, these days. Giles, you wanna handle this one?"

"Ah, yes, well – Buffy, you, y-you need to imagine what it'd be like for Xander a few decades, or even a few centuries, from now," Giles tried to explain it. "Looking eighteen on the outside, but being a fully mature adult on the inside, it'd be like – well, uh, t-try to imagine what it'd be like for your mother if you and Joyce were to swap bodies, the way that Catherine Madison and her daughter Amy did a few years back..."

"Funny story there, actually," Xander shook his head, as he surreptitiously glanced at Buffy and then Faith. "In a way that's really not, come to think of it."

"And don't forget, there's medical studies which show that a person's brain doesn't reach full and complete development until they're in their early to mid-twenties, Xand," Hiro Nakamura-Bennet pointed out from his position off to one side the group, startling the other Scoobies with his interjection and reminding them of the two other time travelers' presence.

After all, the Asian man and his wife, Claire Bennet-Nakamura, had accompanied Xander's older self back from their apocalyptic future in an effort to prevent the same series of catastrophes and disasters which had crippled their own civilization from occurring in this group's worldline, so they were just as involved in the group's efforts as any of the Scoobies might be.

"Well, as far as I'm concerned, that still doesn't explain the Boss's sense of humor," Claire chimed in with an infectious grin from her position in one of the library's wooden chairs, making the group laugh and relieving some of the tension which had been accumulating since their arrival.

"Well, uh, given your explanation regarding the ritual's purpose, Xander," Giles said, as he gave the youth a longer, more thorough evaluation, "I would venture to say that it was a-at least somewhat successful – since you, err, appear to be older, physically, than you were earlier tonight."

"Yeah. You, uhm, you look like you could pass for being in your mid-twenties now, Xander. Early twenties, at the very least," Willow hesitantly agreed with Giles' assessment, as she, too, gave him a more comprehensive visual examination. "And, and you look like you're a little taller and, uh, maybe more muscular than you were, too?"

The redhead's eyes were flitting back and forth across the young Immortal's now more developed frame, as were both Buffy's and Faith's. Judging by the way the apprentice witch was biting her lower lip, it appeared that she definitely approved of the changes her oldest friend had undergone.

Buffy also seemed to favor the now-clearly-noticeable differences in Xander's appearance, given the way she was now eyeing him – at least, until Faith gave a short laugh and asked her, "So, B – thinking about maybe getting a taste of Boytoy for yourself, what with the new packaging and everything else?"

Blushing a bright red as she realized that she really had been checking Xander out, the blonde Slayer took a short step back as she shook her head vigorously, "What? No! I-I wasn't thinking about that at all, Faith!", even as she guiltily glanced over at Angel, and reddened even more when she found him expressionlessly watching her reaction.

"She's telling the truth, actually," Xander spoke up, as everyone turned to look at him. "Because the only guy Buffy has eyes for is Angel. Well, nowadays, anyway."

"What's *that* supposed to mean, Xander?" Buffy demanded at once, instantly shifting from embarrassed to somewhat angry and confrontational.

"You'll find out soon enough, Buffy," the answer came in a flat, emotionless tone, and right away the blonde Slayer didn't like the look on Harris' face.

There was utterly no emotion there at all as he then added, "Newsflash, Buffy, but Angel's immortal – kinda like me, if you look at one way – and you're not. I'm sure that if you think with your head and not with your heart, for once, you'll be able to do that math."

"Ah, if you don't mind my asking, Xander," Giles chose to break into the conversation at that point, most likely to distract his Slayer from her newly-developing semi-homicidal tendencies, "apart from the artificial aging thing, I-I'm still somewhat puzzled about why your older self had to, uh, sacrifice himself that way.

"I mean, uhm, correct me if I'm wrong – but surely all that was actually needed to activate your Immortality was for you to die by some violent method?" the older Englishman asked in a reasonable voice.

"If he had merely killed you with that knife the way he did, and then waited for you to revive, your older self would still be alive and able to provide us with whatever information he had – which you now possess," the former Watcher explained his reasoning, a puzzled expression appearing on his face as Giles considered the situation. "So, uh, why didn't he do that?"

"That's another very good question, Giles," Xander acknowledged with a nod of his head as confused looks crossed the other Scoobies' faces as they considered Giles' question.

"And the answer has to do with the way the Wraith – they're the alien space vampires I mentioned before, who attacked Earth at shortly after the demon army I also mentioned earlier did – feed on people," Xander explained with a grimace, as a series of rather disturbing memories came to mind.

"You see, the Wraith don’t just suck out your blood, the way the vampires we usually deal with do," Harris informed his audience. "The Wraith drain your actual life force out of you.

"And I can remember how that's gotta be the most painful experience I've ever undergone, in what was almost a hundred years of fighting pretty much every kind of demon and alien that humanity met up with while exploring a dozen different galaxies," Harris added, an involuntary shiver running down his spine as he spoke.

"I don’t think that any of you caught Older-Me's comment that I was thirty-eight before my Quickening was activated," Xander said as he looked around at the other Scoobies, "but after my first Death, I stopped aging, and kept on looking like I was thirty-eight years old, regardless of how old I actually was.

"Do you remember saying that Older-Me looked roughly fifty-five, maybe sixty, when he asked you how old you thought he was?" Xander abruptly asked Buffy, turning his laser-like gaze upon her.

"Yeah, so?" Buffy demanded frostily, still upset about the 'you can do that math' wisecrack from earlier on.

"Well, if you thought that meant he lived another two decades before dying for the first time, you're wrong," Xander said simply. "I was thirty-eight years old when my Quickening was activated," Xander added as he looked around at the other Scoobies. "And after my first Death, I stopped aging, and kept on looking like I was thirty-eight years old, regardless of how old I actually was."

"But, but that doesn't make sense," Willow protested. "I mean, you're totally contradicting yourself! You, you just said you were frozen at thirty-eight years old, physically, but the older you looked like –"

"Yeah, and trust me, if I'd known what I was eventually supposed to become, then I'd have killed myself at least fifteen years earlier," Xander interrupted, looking annoyed. He glanced at Hiro and Claire, who just shrugged and stared back at him. Harris just muttered, "Freaking Boy Scouts and their outdated morals..."

"Why?" Faith spoke up again, ignoring that. "I mean, why would you go and off yourself like that?"

Xander glanced at her before saying, "For an Immortal, Faith, thirty-eight is *too old* to have any realistic chance of surviving the Game, long-term. Physically, it's even worse than being eighteen forever! You want to be roughly twenty-five, thirty at the most; otherwise you're slower. Weaker. Easier prey for the younger-bodied Immortals. You live long enough, you'll discover that for yourself – when you go up against the vamps one night, and your body simply ain't what it used to be."

"And yet, you survived it," Angel commented, staring at Xander in a way he had never done before.

"I did. At least, I did until I got captured by the Wraith during one of their raids in the Pegasus Galaxy," Xander noted offhandedly, his casual reference to actually having traveled not just off the planet, but to another galaxy, eliciting expressions of awe and wonder from the others (apart from Hiro and Claire).

"The Wraith?" Wesley asked, looking fascinated.

"Yeah. Like I said earlier, those – *things* – literally drain the life out of you, all the way – until you die of old age," Xander noted, somewhat analytically.

"In my case, however, each time they killed Older-Me by draining him, things didn't quite work that way, because his Quickening restored him back to life. Kinda freaked them out, especially their Queen, who kept muttering 'Impossible!' every time she witnessed it. Anyway, turns out there's a limit on how often the Quickening can bring you back to what you were, after the Wraith drain you that way. Slowly but surely, my body was aged physically beyond the age I was when I first died," he explained, "which is why Older-Me looked like he was in his late fifties or early sixties, and not in his late thirties, the way I'd looked before I was captured by the Wraith.

"And even though it would normally be impossible for an Immortal, he was actually suffering from seriously advanced cases of arthritis and chondrosarcoma, which is part of why he chose to kill himself and give everything he had to me. It wasn't just the memories and the experiences..."

Seeing the blank looks his explanation had produced on Buffy's, Willow's and Faith's faces, Xander paraphrased his previous explanation, "Older-Me had an advanced form of soft tissue cancer, and he was pretty much in constant and unrelenting pain after what the Wraith did to him."

The shocked and sympathetic expressions on the girls' faces his words produced made Xander shake his head and say, "No. Don't pity him. Older-Me didn't want or need that from anybody, which is why he never mentioned it to you guys while he was here. Besides, he accomplished a hell of a lot of things in his life that a lot of other people never had the chance to even try. And he went out the way he wanted – doing everything he could, to make sure that those bastards we told you about aren't ever gonna see the metaphorical baseball bat we're gonna be swinging at their not-so-metaphorical heads.

"Now, it's up to us to make sure we can follow through and eradicate all these bastards from existence."

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