AN: The part of Linda Price is, in this story, being played by Anette O’Toole, who plays the part of Martha Kent on Smallville. (sigh) I’m running out of women to cast as the part – this may be the last time I let Linda survive.
AN2: Some Buffy and Xander bashing in this part, though somewhat angsty and light, and a few slurs thrown at Faith, too, by Buffy – I want to get it out of the way, so I am.
(Start of Season 3 +1 day – Buffy is back, no zombies at party – Sunnydale High Library)
Xander walked towards the library, dressed down in a pair of dark slacks, a pair of Doc Martin boots and a dark shirt that was open enough at the throat to show a dark gray shirt under it, mindlessly humming to himself while ignoring some of the looks he was getting from both the students and teachers alike – he’d put on about twenty pounds of muscle over the past few months from regular workouts and working in his suit, but it wasn’t a bulky muscle, rather a fine, lean kind like a runner or a swimmer, and it showed with not only how he walked and carried himself, but also in the way his clothes hung off of him. He’d gotten more than a few long stares from Cordelia’s sheep, Harmony actually choking on her drink and spilling it over her expensive blouse, some appreciative looks from a few of the younger female teachers, but also a few from some of the guys as well, but most of all he had, with a single glare at Snyder, showed the troll that he was not in any kind of a mood to put up with the Principal’s antics, so to leave him the frell alone. It had been almost a month since his return to his Earth from his sojourn into both Space and Time, but it had been a productive month – he’d upgraded his armor and power supplies nominally, not to mention finishing his upgrades on the Boost Ball addition he’d made, but he’d also tweaked his Missile Replication unit, something he admittedly rarely used, to the point that instead of using a single tank of energy per day, which made 24 missiles, he’d made it to where he could use that same tank over two days and get the same effects, which was a good thing as his charging station, a bunch of solar panels hooked up to the side of his lab, just wasn’t cutting it anymore. He needed a more stable and more reliable source of power, or another way to get the power on the fly – Washu had taken back her portable recharging station that she’d made for him to use in space, and now he was in deep with having to find a new source of power.
He shook his head as he went into the library, an easy smile on his face as he walked first past Willow, whom he had actually managed to patch things up with, though it had taken several renditions of his patented Snoopy dance to do, and then past both Jenny and Cordelia, who were immersed in what appeared to be fashion stuff, and towards, Giles and his fellow Watcher, Linda Price, “Yo, G-man, Ms. P, how’s it going?”
“Xander, do you have to call me that?” “Good morning, Xander,” came in unison, though the first with a truckload more of exasperation than the second. Linda Price was a woman in her mid thirties, maybe her late thirties, with a soft, straight red hair, a fair skin and freckles that bespoke of an Irish heritage, but her soft smile and gray eyes could either warm his heart or, with their absence, chill his soul – truth to tell, if it were not for the fact that she had been married and widowed once already, he would have considered flirting with her as much as he did with both Jenny and Joyce.
“Hey, Faith.” The Boston Slayer, Faith Williams, had not taken to him at first with the stories of what he had done having gone around and about her head at first, but once he told her his side of things, she seemed more than a little willing to at least not rip his head off on sight. She was taller than Buffy, taller than most everyone but himself and Giles, actually, with dark brown hair that was almost black, a dusky kind of tan on her skin that was natural and brown eyes that bespoke of a hellish childhood – he’d seen those eyes more often than not when he used to look in the mirror, so he knew to tread lightly around her. She lived hard, played harder and, when on patrol, would slay like it was going out of style – she had an overall sense of sultriness that could arouse a dead stick, but under that there was a young woman who wanted to be seen for what she really was and not for what people perceived her to be.
“Stud. How’s it hanging?” She was currently dressed in a pair of leather pants, a red halter and a pair of biker boots that had seen more than a little Slaying action, but on the chair she was lounging in was a leather jacket that she had not been seen without since he had first met her a few weeks before. She, once they got past the stories, had come on strong at first, but he had managed to get to realize that he was a friend and wouldn’t use her like that, which at first shocked her and then confused her until Willow had made a comment about Mihoshi, which brought on a few other explanations. Since then, they had been friends, though there was a little something else that at all times.
“Just like God meant it to be, babe.” He shot her a smirk as well and took his place next to her, unsure why he had been called to the Library that morning, “So, G-man, Ms. P, what has you two calling me here this morning?”
Neither of them had to speak as he heard an enraged snarl from behind him and he turned in time to see Faith bodycheck a flying person into one of the couches and then pin said individual in a rather painful arm bar, “B, you need to check yourself, girlfriend. He ain’t here to hurt you.”
He sighed and sat back down in his chair, “Oh, you’re finally back.”
Buffy struggled under Faith, “I’m going to kill you, you son of a bitch!”
Even as Giles and Linda both tried to calm her down, he snorted, “No, you’ll try to kill me and you will fail.” This seemed to only enrage the faux blonde Slayer even more as her struggled increased, but Faith had superior leverage and a better grip, so Buffy wasn’t going anywhere.
“Now see here, Buffy – if you do not calm down I will be forced to tranquilize you.” Giles stepped forwards, shooting him a glare, which he promptly ignored, before turning back to Buffy and taking off his glasses, “Regardless of your problems with Xander, I ask that you look past them in hopes of you two working together again.”
“Never – I’m never going to work with that traitor again, Giles.”
“Same here, G-man, only substitute ‘traitor’ with ‘deserter’.” He sat back down in his seat and yawned even as Willow came over to help with restraining Buffy, “Is this what you wanted to tell me? That Buffy is back?”
“Well, that, and that my contacts that you gave those programs to have successfully sold them and you should be seeing your cut within the next day or so.”
Xander nodded, having thought of ways to generate revenue other than salvage and, with Jenny’s and Willow’s help, had come up with several computer programs that his suit had been using to translate texts to sell on the open market, “Cool. Well, if that’s all, I’m outta here.”
“Get back here, traitor!” Somehow Buffy managed to get free of both Willow and Faith, but when she charged at him, fully intending to take his head off of his shoulders, she seemed to miss that he was waiting on her, which is why he was able to twist himself and lock in a chokehold around her throat, his size allowing him to hold it and his speed catching her by surprise even as she dangled an inch off of the ground, “Ack!”
“Buff, this may come as a real shock to you, but the world doesn’t bow to you and I sure as hell don’t – attack me again and we’ll see if your death activates another Slayer, or if Faith will be the only one.” This brought a silence to the room even as she ceased her struggled for a second and he put her down enough to breathe, “Now, I am going to let you go – play nice.” He released his hold and, with his foot, pushed her away even as Giles walked up.
“Buffy, listen to me – I know you feel somewhat betrayed by what Xander did, but the fact of the matter is that the world is still spinning and we believe that is what he intended from the start.”
Buffy pulled herself off of the ground, glaring at him before turning to Giles, “But he lied to me!”
“And you fought hard enough to stay alive – you weren’t waiting on Angel to show up, so you didn’t do something stupid and get killed.” He leaned against the banister, his mind going back for a minute to his conversation with Sasami a month before, before shrugging, “Either way, what was done is done and it cannot be undone, and that the world is still going is all that matters – get over it.”
She snarled at him but held her place even as Giles gave him a look, “But what about Angel? I sent him to hell!”
“And by that point in time that was the only viable option that kept us all alive. If you had done your job, or allowed someone else to do it, earlier, that would never have been a problem. Harsh but true, he was a necessary sacrifice.”
She sneered at him, “Oh, so now you have a shot at me without him in the way?”
He snorted at her, “Please, get over yourself, because I did a long time ago.”
Faith stepped up, her eyes narrowed, “Yo, B, this may come as a surprise, but X-man here is telling you the truth.”
“Oh, so you’re spreading them for him, then? Typical.” Buffy’s catty comment got more than a few noses out of joint, but none of them so quickly as Faith’s, who stepped up and got into Buffy’s face.
“That’s wrong, B – Xander’s my friend, and when I did offer him that, he pushed me back, saying that he had someone else, and I know he wasn’t lying. ‘Sides, at least anyone I go to bed with has a pulse, unlike you.”
“Buffy, that was entirely uncalled for,” Giles said, walking over and his face stern. “Faith is a Slayer as well, and while her past is different from yours, I would hope that you show her the same amount of respect that you showed Kendra.”
“She has to earn my respect, Giles.”
“And you have to re-earn all of ours, Buffy. Or my respect, at least.” Xander stepped forwards, “To me, now, you’re no better than anyone on the street – until you prove to me that you’re on the level, I want nothing to do with you.”
“Fine with me – I can live with that.” Buffy backed off, a cocky smile on her face, “So, what happened here in Sunnydale this summer? Dull?”
Willow went over a few things that happened while he was gone, then explained his own disappearance as far as she could, as he had yet to tell them all of what happened, but she then spoke of something that had happened a few weeks before, “And then there was this military outfit under the University that was stealing and studying demons – at first they seemed to be on the level, but one night Xander broke in, hacked their computer and found some things that weren’t kosher and before you knew it they had all packed up and left.”
Buffy glared at him, “What kind of things?”
“One of their main doctors had plans to create demonic shock troops, slaving demonic organs and appendages into human bodies to make them stronger, better, more damage resistant, files on all of us and ways to eliminate us, if necessary, stuff like that.” Buffy gave him a shocked look and he shrugged, “A few e-mails and calls later, the funding was cut, the base personnel removed and the place was filled in with concrete as of last week – whatever the Initiative would have been, they are officially closed for business. You’d be surprised how scared the US government is of getting their dirty little secrets aired out like so much laundry.”
Buffy blinked at him for a second and then looked at Willow, “So, you let him go gallivanting off into space like that? Why?”
Willow rolled her eyes, “I was kinda in a coma at the time, Buffy, and we didn’t know he was in space until after the fact.”
Buffy stood up a little straighter, “Well, no more. Xander, I forbid you to do anything that dangerous again – I’m the Slayer, I do dangerous things. You’re only normal.”
“Firstly, Buffy, you are A Slayer, not ‘the’, and secondly, last time I checked, I ran my own life, not you – in fact, in the grand scheme of things, I answer to three people, all of whom are higher up on the ladder than the both of us put together, and compared to them, you’re small potatoes, and not only in height.”
She stomped and got into his face, well, into the middle of his chest, “I'm the Slayer, Xander – you do as I say!”
“B, you ain’t listening.” Faith pulled Buffy back and glared at the elder Slayer, “I’m a Slayer, too, so that puts us on even standing.”
Buffy sneered and, truth to tell, Xander was getting more than a little tired of her attitude, “Please, I’m So much better than you it’s not even funny.”
Faith’s reaction was instantaneous – she slapped Buffy so hard that Buffy fell back and onto her backside, “Don’t you dare talk down to me, B. And at least I don’t desert my friends and my town after doing my job, skin and bones.” With that, the Slayers began to bicker back and forth even as Xander and the others shook their collective heads. Xander just shook his own head and started to walk away, but a hand on his shoulder made him stop and turn.
“You need to work your problems with her out, Xander.” Linda was like a mix between Joyce and his own mother, before she had met the bottle – she had that tone of voice and that look that said ‘you know you’re going to do it anyway, so save yourself the trouble and do it now’, but as any young man would, he resisted.
“She’s completely unreasonable when she’s like this, Linda – damn, and I thought I was bullheaded, but trust me, it’s like talking to a brick wall with her. When she calms down and uses that lump she calls a brain to think, then she and I will talk.”
“I thought she was your friend, Xander?”
“She used to be my friend, back when she was Buffy. I’m not sure who in the hell she,” he pointed at Buffy, who was back on her feet and preaching at Faith, “is, but she isn’t Buffy, and she sure as hell isn’t my friend.”
Linda winced, “She’s been through a lot, Xander. Sending your lover to hell isn’t something one does easily.”
“No, it probably isn’t, but she also seems to think that just because she’s a Slayer, she gets special treatment and no one else does – I hate to burst her bubble, but she doesn’t and nobody does.”
“She was in love, Xander. Can’t you cut her any slack for that?”
He gave Linda a look, or rather, a masked look, “Not an inch. In this business we have to make decisions that have no emotional clout whatsoever, no matter how bad we sleep after it. Trust me, I’ve had some pretty shitty sleep over the past two months.”
Even as his intestines began to roll a little, Lina looked at him closely and then nodded, “You made a decision like that, didn’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah, I did.”
“Did your emotions have any say in it whatsoever?”
He looked her right in the eyes and told her, “Not one whit.” It was all he could do to keep from throwing up at the memories that were coming to mind, and to keep from breaking down and crying as well.
(Later – Xander’s Lab)
He was in his lab, his back to her, and hunched over his table while working on something that he occasionally swore at and welded on with something in his other and – it had taken her a few hours, but Buffy had gotten herself back under control long enough to actually think her way through what had been said in the Library that morning, and once she used her higher reasoning skills, she decided to go to Xander and at least try and have a civil conversation, “Xander?”
He turned around and gave her a look before sighing and going back to his work, “What do you want? I have better things to do than to talk with someone who is incapable of listening.”
Buffy winced at that slightly, but steeled herself even as she walked forwards, “Can we at least have a civil conversation?”
“I can, the question is, can you?”
She growled, “Look, I don’t know what your problem is, but whatever it is, get it out in the open.”
He slammed down his tool and ripped his goggles off, “Fine, if you want to know what my problem is take a good, long look in the mirror, Buffy. Yeah, I lied to you, but I had a reason to so get over it.”
“You sent Angel to hell with that lie, Xander – are you really that petty?”
“Are you really so short-sighted that you couldn’t see past Angel and see that the world was about to fucking end?!” She stepped back at that as he shouted th last two words, throwing his hands in the air, “I mean, Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, Buffy, pull your head out of your ass and look at the world as it really it! The good guys don’t always win, the bad guys often look better than the good guys and innocent people get caught in the crossfire.”
“I’ll do that as soon as you pull your head out of your ass and see that not everything is a gray color! Sometimes emotions DO play a role in a decision and I made the choice I could sleep with.”
“Oh, you mean you made the choice that made it to where you’d never have to sleep again, right? Because you’d be dead!” She flinched back, not sure where his anger was coming from, but he went on, “I mean, for fuck’s sake, let’s just say it – you wanted Angel and the world be damned, right? You, me, Willow, your MOTHER, everyone! But it’s okay, you would have your Angel and it would all be okay, right? Well screw you, Buffy – you’re not the only one to ever make a choice like that, so get over it.”
“Oh, and you made a choice like that? When? With who?”
“Six weeks ago, and with Mihoshi.” Both of them turned to see Willow standing in the doorway, sipping on a coffee, eyeing them both, “Or at least, that’s what I can figure on how much he avoids the question.” She walked into the room and Buffy was amazed with how much taller the redhead had gotten in the past ten months, “So, what was the decision you made, Xander?”
He glared at Willow for a second before he sighed, “Willow, Mihoshi and I can’t be together for a very long time – I’ll be 251 years old before her dream and my own can be realized.” Buffy gasped and she saw Willow blink even as Xander took a seat, sinking his face into his hands, “Long story short is that Mihoshi’s race is a very long-lived one, and until they are about 280 years old they are not capable of marriage on any level – their mental chemistry, physiological makeup, even their innate maturity changes over that time to where they are capable of bearing children and marrying someone they are going to spend the rest of their 650+ years of life with. Secondly, my job won’t let me and her be together.”
Willow was the first to speak after about five minutes of silence, “So, that’s why she seems so … out there?”
Xander shook his head miserably, “Yeah – she’ll mentally mature in about a hundred years to a level that she doesn’t act like such a klutz, which is why her race is generally not allowed to join the Galaxy Police or any form of scientific research firm until that point. It’s too damned dangerous.”
Buffy winced again at the note of pure misery in his voice and began to sympathize with him – he loved Mihoshi, for some reason, and just as her own case with Angel, he couldn’t be with her, only in his case if he did sleep with her, she wouldn’t lose her soul. A look over at Willow showed a look of shared misery for her friend as well, but also a look of possible hope even as Xander got out of his seat and went back to work on his suit’s cannon.
About five minutes later Willow finally speaks up again, “What did you mean, your job wouldn’t let you two be together?”
“Willow, I can’t turn my back on this, Slaying and everything – it’s my job now, ever since I, we, lost Jessie to it. And in case you haven’t figured it out, people who hunt the things that go bump in the night generally don’t live to see old age very often, even if they do like me and cheat every chance they get.” He closed up his cannon arm and pulled it onto himself, attaching several power leads to a large battery before taking aim at a large target at the far end of the lab before unleashing a trio of energy blasts. Buffy had seen the power blasts hit a vamp dead on and only stun it, and had seen it hit metal only hard enough to dent it slightly, so she was more than a little shocked when the steel plate at the end of the target range buckle into something half of it’s original size and smolder slightly. This, however, didn’t get a grin out of Xander, only a grunt of confusion and then a snarl as he disconnected the power leads, pulling off the cannon and muttering, “Still not powerful enough.”
“Huh?” Willow walked over and traced a finger over the cannon, her eyes slightly yearning even as Buffy fought down the urge to go over and cuddle the cannon as well while Xander pulled off the access plates, “This isn’t powerful enough?”
“No, not at full power. I use it at about half power at most on the tough demons, because I don’t want to fry the circuits. I’m still tweaking it in case we run into something that we can’t handle very easily, but it still isn’t powerful enough to not destroy the steel plate, only to heat it up so much that in three shots, it’s about to melt.”
Buffy blanched, “Why do you need something that powerful, Xander? I mean, seriously, Slay-chick here – I take it out if you put it down.”
“And if I can’t put it down? Face it, Buff, I’m thinking ahead.” He went back to work and it was about that point in time that Buffy realized that she wasn’t mad at him anymore – it was like as he spoke, her anger had just drained away and they were back to him being Xander and her being Buffy, only now she knew that he wasn’t going to bow down to her every whim and he, she hoped, knew that she would at least try and see things for as they really were.
“How far ahead?”
“I have a job offer after graduation from Empress Misaki to become a Royal Guard, or to enlist in the Jurain Science Corps, but also I’m thinking about college and other things.”
She nodded, but her mind stuck on something that they had shouted at each other earlier, “So, just for the record, why did you lie to me?”
He sighed and turned to glare at her, something she wilted under for a second before he toned it down, “The world’s continued existence always takes precedence over the heart’s chosen one. It sucks, and at the time you don’t understand, but when you see the next sunrise or see a mother and father playing with their kids, it should hit you like a Mack truck hitting a Pinto at full speed – THEY matter, at the end of the day we’re fighting for them and anything else is just gravy.”
“And that’s the decision you made at the time?”
He nodded, “Exactly.”
Willow snorted slightly, “How poetic – complete bullshit, but it was poetic bullshit.”
Xander gave her his lopsided grin, “It was, wasn’t it.”
Buffy opened her mouth to say something else when her Slay-dar went off like a bomb and she groaned, doubling over and doing her best not to chuck her lunch all over Xander’s lab floor. When she looked up, she was a little surprised to see Xander smiling warmly and shaking his head, “What is that, Xander?”
“That’s who, not what, Buffy, and her name is Tsunami, apparently. She looks like the Empress Misaki and Sasami will look like the both of them when she gets older, so I guess you could say either she is divine perfection or someone didn’t break the mold when they made her.”
Buffy looked over at the woman, who was tall, had blue hair, red eyes, and a pair of golden dots on her forehead as she giggled then, “Flatterer.”
“What is SHE doing here?”
“I am not sure, but if she is after our Slayer, we must intercede.”
“Flatterer.” Xander smiled at Tsunami, not wanting to tell either Willow or Buffy that this was the first time that he had actually seen her face to face.
“Well, I try. So, Lady Tsunami, what brings you to this neck of the woods?”
Dressed in her robes and partial armor, Tsunami glided over to him and smiled brightly as she stroked his face, something that was both instantly arousing and worrisome in the same gesture, “Well, Xander, I need to talk to you.”
Willow growled from beside them, “Well, start talking.”
Tsunami gave her a look, “Alone.”
“Not happening.” Buffy was not on her feet and looking rather unsteady, “We’re not letting you take him anywhere.”
He gave the queasy Slayer a sad smile, “She’s a goddess, Buff, the pinnacle of Jurain religious culture – I doubt you could even make a smudge of dirt on her robes, let alone touch her.” With that, he flipped on his newest acquisition from Washu, an interdimensional radio that would play anything from anywhere, any when, and was a little surprised when 2004’s ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ came on as he and Tsunami faded out of view from the two steaming young women.
Xander soon found himself still next to Tsunami, but now they were in front of a rather large pool of water next to an even bigger tree, bigger than the trees in the Sequoia National Forest, even, and he shook himself off even as she smiled, “So, what did you need to talk to me about?”
“Obviously, you know who and what I am, though I am curious, how?”
“Her name starts with an ‘S’ and ends with a ‘aw, how cute!’” He smiled even as Tsunami giggled at his description of Sasami, but he soon stopped smiling as his mind supplied that she wouldn’t stop by for no real reason, “So, again, I ask, what did you need to talk to me about?”
She shrugged and took a seat next to the water, dipping her fingers into the liquid only enough to create a small disturbance in the surface, which spread out, “You know who I am, but what you don’t know is my connection to Sasami – nobody but she knows, actually, and it’s time for you to know.”
“Why?” Tsunami didn’t tell him immediately even as the pool darkened and began to show events as they happened years before, when Sasami was a cute little tyke with only a single bunch of hair pulled off to one side at the top of her head – Xander watched the attack and how she was in the Royal gardens before she plummeted to what should have been her death at the roots of the tree, Tsunami, but how said goddess intervened and fused her life energy with that of Sasami.
She looked up and looked slightly disturbed as the waters cleared, “There is a time coming when she and I will co-exist, Xander, and at that time you will need to be there not only as Sasami’s friend, by my champion as well.”
“But, what about Tenchi? I mean, isn’t he supposed to be your champion?” Truth to tell, Xander kinda liked the shy guy, but with the way that Tenchi had worshipped the ground he walked on for not only taking Mihoshi’s attention, but Sasami’s and Little Washu’s attention away from him, he only had to deal with Ayeka and Ryoko more often than not, Xander was more than a little wigged about the guy becoming an Emperor of a good chunk of known space.
She nodded, “He was, but things have been put into motion that even I cannot ignore, things you need not worry yourself with, so now all he has to worry about is being Emperor of Jurai … and surviving either Ayeka or Ryoko, most likely both, as wives.” He winced at the thought, but Tsunami stood and went on, “Be that as it may, she loves you.”
This statement struck him as a little odd, as it came out of far left field, “Uh, who? Mihoshi?”
“Sasami. Or rather, she is starting to love you – she doesn’t realize it yet, and probably won’t for a few more years, but by then it will be a moot point, Xander.”
Xander felt his stomach flip as the thought of both Empresses, Misaki and Funhao, not to mention that asshole of an Emperor, Azusa, came to his mind, not to mention the thoughts of his own damnation of Angel’s relationship with a much younger woman, “She’s thirteen, Tsunami – it’s a very non-moot point.”
She gave him a look, “Yes, she is, for now, but by then, she won’t be. Regardless of those points, I am asking you to take up charge as both her friend and as my champion, at an appointed time.”
“Uh, sure, okay, but what good will I be? I mean, Tenchi has the Lighthawk Wings, not to mention Ryoko and Ayeka to work with him – I have my power suit, my razor-sharp wit and a surprisingly large repository of ego-bruising one-liners that will get me very dead.”
She smiled at him and he felt his stomach flip as she walked towards him, her water blue hair flowing around her shoulders and her robes ruffling by an unfelt breeze as she reached up and traced her finger along his jawline, “That is true, but sometimes it is not the power within one that is necessary, merely the will to use all that one has at his or her disposal, that matters.”
He stepped back, feeling a little uncomfortable, “Alright, say that Sasami and I do eventually hook up, what about…”
“Mihoshi?” Tsunami smiled sadly and shook her head, “Nobody ever said the road of love was easily traveled, Xander, and even then, there is much time between then and now. I’m sure you’ll find a way around it.”
Something niggled at Xander’s mind, “Hold on, protect Sasami from what, precisely?”
“Well, for starters, my sister, Tokimi, another goddess, but also sundry other things that may or may not be necessary for you to fight, but even so, Sasami will need her knight in shining armor next to her when the time comes.”
“Even if that knight’s armor and sword are covered in blood and he stands in the shadows?”
She smiled at him, “Precisely. But I want you to be careful, Xander, because not all of the threats that you will face between now and then will be visible. In fact, most of them you will never see as a threat until it is far too late to do anything about them and you find your and your friends fighting to save the world, once again, at the drop of a hat.” With that, Tsunami conjured what appeared to be a wooden cup carved out of a piece of oak and dipped some water out of the pond, smiling at the crystalline sound a stray drop falling back into the pond made as se offered it to him, “Could I interest you in some water, Xander?”
AN: Alright, that’s it for this part – okay, I lied in the past chapter, saying you’d have to wait until after the holidays for this one, but you WILL have to wait for a while for the next part, as it’s only half written out. What do you boys and girls think of this so far? Xander’s new job is only partially laid out, and there are some issues to deal with as far as romance goes, but those hurdles will be cleared, eventually. R&R, AR.