Chapter TwoXander And Anya’s Apartment,
Ten minutes later, the trio had arrived at Xander and Anya’s apartment and quickly got themselves comfy on the couches in the living room, Xander and Anya cuddled together on one and Cole sitting casually on the other.
Xander has had something he wanted to ask Cole since he the moment they met, but had decided to wait until they were alone to do so, especially given Buffy and Riley’s reaction to him.
“So Cole, don’t take this the wrong way, but are you evil?” he asked the half demon.
Anya sent him her most vicious death glare upon hearing his question, a glare that Xander ignored totally with remarkable ease in Cole’s opinion. Realising that he was ignoring her, in her eyes, justifiable anger, she voiced it.
“Xander, how could you ask one of my oldest friends whether…” Anya petered off when she finally realised that almost all of her oldest friends were evil, making the question a valid one. “… Oh, carry on,” she finished with a shrug, wondering about that question herself now.
“I’ve already told you I’m not here to kill you or your friends,” Cole said in an attempt to assuage Xander’s fears.
“And I believe you,” Xander replied, “otherwise I would already have explained to Willow and Tara how to create the vanquishing potion for you. That doesn’t, however, mean that you’re not evil.”
Both Cole and Anya looked at Xander in surprise, as that was the second time he had shown knowledge of Cole that he had no way of knowing.
“How did you know that Cole could be killed by a vanquishing potion?” Anya asked him, Cole noticing that she sounded uneasy about it.
Xander turned to Anya and shrugged in much the same way he had the last time he had been asked. “No idea,” he answered truthfully. He turned back to Cole, his posture intimidating and his voice threatening. “I’ve noticed you haven’t answered my question,” he pointed out, steering them all back to the original topic of conversation.
“No I’m not evil, anymore anyway, but I’m not whiter than white either,” he answered, deciding to go with the same blunt honesty that Xander had been using with him. “I have no problem with killing demons, or humans for that matter, if they endangered the life of my girlfriend Phoebe or her family.”
Xander nodded his head in understanding at that, especially as he felt the same way about Anya and the others. “I have no problems with that, I’m the same in that respect,” he said in his usual happy tone.
“So you believe me?” Cole asked, surprised at the sudden change in tone.
Xander sent him a lop-sided smile. “I already knew you weren’t evil, I just needed for you to say it out loud, for my own peace of mind you understand.”
Once again Cole looked at him in surprise. “Are you sure
you’re only human?” he asked.
Xander snorted in laughter, but Cole can sense a touch of bitterness in it. “Believe me, I’m as human as you get, if you discount the fact that I’ve been possessed twice and have been fighting vampires and other demons for five years. Why do you ask?” he asked intrigued.
“It’s just that when I look at you I get the strangest feeling…”
Before he had a chance to finish, Anya suddenly stood up, catching the attention of both men. “Anyone for coffee?” she asked loudly.
Xander gestured that Anya sit back down. “I’ll get it Ahn, your usual cream and two sugars?” he asked his girlfriend.
“Yes please,” she responded with a smile.
“Cole?” he said in way of a question.
“Black, no sugar if that’s alright.”
“Coming right up,” he stated cheerfully before walks off to the kitchen.
Once he was out of sight, Cole turned his attention to Anya. “What’s going on Anya?” he asked with a commanding tone.
Anya looked at him with her most innocent expression, which considering who was doing it wasn’t all that innocent. “I have no idea what you mean.”
Cole narrowed his eyes and leant forward, no longer willing to play her game. “That won’t work with me, I’ve known you too long. You know who he is don’t you?” he asked her, having finally realised it himself and knowing there was no need to explain to her what he meant.
A sudden look of panic appeared on her face, knowing what he was currently thinking. “You can’t say anything!” she shouted in a panicked voice.
Cole was surprised that Xander hadn’t come in due to Anya's outburst; she sure wasn’t being the quietest person on the planet at the moment. He shook his head in disagreement. “You know I have to; the Source is gunning for Phoebe and the others, not to mention he’s sending every hunter dumb enough or strong enough after me as well. He’s our best chance at happiness.”
“You have no idea what this will do to him!” she hissed. She was now almost in tears, but he couldn’t work out whom she’s more worried about.
“Xander or the Source?” he asked. At her look he realised something, something he should have figured out from the beginning. “You still love him don’t you?”
Before she had a chance to answer, Xander came back into the living room with their drinks.
“Here’s your coffee…” Xander could feel the tension in the room, and wondered what had caused it. “Did I miss something?” he asked the two of them.
Cole went to tell him, but Anya cut him off before he had a chance. “No, we were just reminiscing and some of the things we did aren’t quite as nice to remember, now that we actually care about what we did.”
Xander smiled comfortingly at them both, having had conversations like that with Anya before. “Yeah, I remember Ahn telling me about some of the more creative things she did to men during our first date.”
Cole gave him an incredulous look, suddenly forgetting his previous conversation. “And you went on a second
?” he asked in amazement.
“Well, after we killed the mayor and blew up the High School…” before Xander could go any further, Cole put his hand up to stop him.
“Wait, wait, why did you kill the mayor?” he asked.
Xander frowned in confusion for a moment, “you don’t want to know about the High School?” he asked.
“It was High School,” Cole responded simply.
“Ah, got you. Well the mayor ascended into a true demon during our graduation ceremony and was going to eat everybody in Sunnydale. We tricked him into going into the High School and blew it up with him in it,” Xander explained, a small smile making its way pn his face as he spoke of blowing up the school.
Cole winced at that, imagining how that must have hurt. “Sounds a bit extreme,” he commented, thinking of several different ways that could have been handled without the need for major property damage.
“Could you think of any other way a group of High School seniors and a librarian could kill something the size of a dinosaur
with only a few days preparation?” Xander asked him in reply, his tone making it clear that he didn’t think there was one.
Cole thought for a couple of moments but came up with nothing. “You do have a point there. You still consider yourself normal after everything you’ve done?”
“All of my friends seem to think so,” he replied, again with a touch of bitterness entering his voice. “I mean there’s a Slayer, a Watcher, two witches, a military trained demon hunter and last, but certainly not least, a former vengeance demon. I’m just a guy who works construction that occasionally helps out, mainly by keeping the supply of coffee and donuts coming.”
Cole shook his head in disbelief in how little self-esteem the young man before him had. “You’ve been fighting things that are faster and stronger than you for five years, you are more than just a construction worker.”
“You forgot Spike,” Anya said unexpectedly, cutting into the conversation.
Xander turned to Anya in confusion. “What?” he asked.
“You forgot to mention Spike,” she reiterated.
It took Xander a moment to work out what she had meant before shaking his head. “No I didn’t,” he responded. “I said friends
Ahn, I hate to even think of DeadBoy Jr. as an ally.”
Cole once again felt lost in the conversation, realising that it probably wouldn’t be the last time it happened either. “I feel like I’m doing this a lot, but Deadboy Jr.?” he asked.
“Spike, or as you may know him William the Bloody,” Xander began, “is a vampire who had a behaviour modification chip stuck in his head by a covert military project that makes him unable to hurt humans. You know, when I say it like that, it sounds like a plot from one of those trashy b-movies they show when there’s nothing else to put on. Anyway, don’t ask me how they made it, how they implanted it, or how they made it work with dead brain tissue, all I know is that they did and it works. He can, however, still hurt demons, so he helps out from time to time in exchange for money and/or blood.”
Cole could almost feel the disdain Xander held for the vampire. “I take it you don’t trust him?” he asked, knowing the answer already from the man’s body language alone.
“Not as far as I can spit after going without water for three days. I trust his Grandsire more than him and that is saying something.”
Once again Cole looked at him in surprise, wondering just how someone who could talk about demons so casually could consider himself normal. “You know Angelus
?” he asked, shock colouring his voice.
Cole had never met him, having travelled in different circles, but almost everyone knew of the exploits of Angelus and his cohorts.
Xander nodded his head but his face darkened slightly. “Unfortunately,” he replied, “but he goes by Angel now. He fed on the wrong girl about a century ago and got cursed by gypsies with his soul. If he has a moment of ‘perfect happiness’ the soul goes bye-bye and we’re left to deal with the Scourge of Europe. We can barely stand to be in the same room as each other, the reasons being many and varied, but I still trust him more than the fangless wonder. Anyway enough about me, tell me a little about yourself.”
Cole wasn’t sure that telling Xander about his past would endear himself to the man so he tried to put him off. “I’m not sure you’d like it.”
“Do I need to list the people I know again? I am more than aware that being an agent of the Source means more than organising keggers and darning socks.”
“How did you know I worked for the Source, or that the Source even exists
Once again Xander simply shrugged his shoulders, having no idea but knowing it to be true nonetheless. “No idea.”
Cole decided that he needed to tell Xander what he knew, at least what he thought he knew anyway. “I think I do.”
Before he could continue, Anya suddenly jumped up. “Belthazor, no
!” she shouted at him, anger and panic both obvious in her voice.
Xander looked between the two in confusion and a little worry. “What’s going on here?”
Anya spoke before Cole had a chance. “Nothing Xander, Cole needs to be leaving, now
Cole decided that he needed to make a stand; it was too important to back down now, especially if Xander truly was whom he thought. “He has a right to know Anya.”
She looked at him, pleading with her eyes. “Leave it alone Cole, please.”
Cole shook his head but before either one could say any more, Xander stood up and turned Anya to face him.
“Ahn, what is going on?” he asked with an uncertain tone of voice.
“Xander do you love me?” she asked him, hoping to get out of explaining what was going on.
He smiled lovingly at her and caressed her cheek with his thumb. “You know I do,” he said warmly.
She leant into Xander’s touch before composing herself and speaking again. “Then leave this alone.”
“I don’t even know what you’re on about,” he pointed out, his concern over what was going on increasing exponentially with every passing moment.
She took his hand in her own and pulled it away from her face, her desperation causing her to get angry. “It doesn’t matter, leave it alone.”
Cole got up and glared at Anya. “This is more important than your selfish desires Anya.”
“I said leave it alone Cole now go before I do something you’ll regret,” she threatened, sending him a look right out of her demonic days.
Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to convince Anya, he turned his attention to Xander and pled his case. “I know you have no reason to trust me Xander, but the lives of my girlfriend and her family are at stake, as well as countless others. I need to explain to you what I believe.”
Seeing Xander wavering, Anya decided to go for broke, knowing just how precarious her position was, but unable to see any other way out of her current situation. “Xander I’m ordering you to let this drop,” she said forcefully, knowing the moment the words left her mouth that she had just put the death nail into their relationship.
Xander snapped his head round to look at her, his eyes flashed with barely repressed anger. “You’re ordering
me? I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but you are not the boss of me!” he growled.
Anya knew that she was fighting a losing battle, but she couldn’t stop herself. Returning his glare, she started poking him in the chest with every word that she spoke. “I’m your girlfriend and if you want me to stay that way you’ll do as I say!”
Xander took a couple of steps back from her, getting away from the more annoying than hurting jabs, his glare still in full force and his temper at breaking point. “I don’t respond well to threats Anya, in fact I have a tendency to do the exact opposite of what people want just for the sheer hell of it.”
Anya just looked at him for a couple of moments before grabbing her purse and running out of the apartment in tears, not knowing what to do anymore.
Xander took a couple of calming breaths before sitting back down and returning his gaze to Cole. “You better speak fast Cole, my patience has suddenly got very short,” he bit out.
Cole actually took a step back due to the intensity of Xander’s gaze, falling back onto the couch. He had never seen such a determined look in a person’s eyes before, and was suddenly glad that he hadn’t. He started to understand just how Xander had lived as long as he had, as he doubted there were very many demons that would want to have that look trained on them. To say that he didn’t hesitate in beginning his explanation would be an understatement.
“There is a legend of a being, known only as ‘The One Who Sees’,” Cole began “that will instinctively know a demons powers and weaknesses and who will be immune to those powers and magic. This being will fight the Source and defeat him completely.”
“Completely?” Xander asked, his ire dimming, but only slightly, as his curiosity grew.
“When the Source dies any other way, his powers and title goes to his appointed successor. It is said that ‘The One Who Sees’ not only destroys the Source but the power as well. No more power, no more Source.” Cole explained.
Xander just stared at him for a moment before a mirthless laugh escaped his lips, indicating just what he thought about what Cole was suggesting. “And what, you think that I’m ‘The One Who sees’?” he asked sceptically.
Cole simply nodded his head in agreement.
“I don’t think so,” Xander stated with certainty. “For a start, I’ve no idea what half the demons we have faced over the years can do, or how to kill them, and the ones that I do know about comes from hours upon hours of exhaustive research. I’ve also been affected by magic on more than one occasion, a love spell being a notable example.”
“That’s because you’ve been dealing with agents of the First,” Cole said in way of explanation.
Xander started shaking his head in confusion and frustration. “Now you’ve completely lost me.”
“It’s a little difficult to explain but I’ll try,” Cole replied, feeling happy that Xander hadn’t just dismissed him and was willing to hear his case. “At the ends of the spectrum of good and evil you have Lucifer and the Creator. They basically keep out of things unless absolutely necessary, which believe you me is a very good thing for everyone. The day-to-day things are left to, basically, middle management. On the side of good you have the Powers That Be and the Elders. On the other side you have the First and the Source. There are others as well but these are the main players. With me so far?” he asked, knowing that he had given Xander a lot to take in.
“Lucifer, Creator, Powers, Elders, Source, First.”
“Right,” Cole replied with a slight smile at his paraphrasing. “To help limit confusion, the PTB deal with the First and the Elders deal with the Source to ensure that little to no conflicts of interest occurs.”
“Makes sense,” Xander noted, his military knowledge seeing the logic behind that, “but what does that have to do with me?” he asked.
“If I’m right and you are ‘The One Who Sees’ the legend speaks about,” Cole replied, “you’re a major player for the Elders, but nothing more than a small blip on the radar for the PTB. That’s why you’ve been affected by magic and been in the dark about what you’re facing; they have nothing to do with the fight you’re meant to be a part of. I’m guessing that although you were affected, it didn’t work as planned?”
“Well the love spell backfired in a big way and the possessions have had longer lasting effects on me than the others, which is why I still have the skills of SoldierBoy.”
“You said you were possessed twice?” Cole asked.
“Yeah,” Xander responded, “by a hyena spirit, I was the alpha of the pack. I’ve noticed that since then I’ve been faster and stronger than I should be and I heal faster as well,” he explained, surprising himself by how open he was being to this practical stranger.
“It would also explain why you were the alpha in the pack,” Cole mused, remembering something he had learnt whilst in Africa assassinating a tribal shaman.
“Huh?” Xander asked intelligently.
“The alpha of a hyena pack is usually female” Cole explained, “and your status is probably what had the alpha inhabit you in the first place.”
Xander groaned and put his head in his hands. “Great
, further proof that I’m just ‘one of the girls’.”
“What?” Cole asked.
Xander dismissed the question with a wave of his hand, not needing to go down that particular memory lane right now. “Nothing. If what you’re saying is right, why’s Anya so dead set against you telling me, to the point that she’s actually broken up with me?” he asked. Xander then suddenly sat up straight with a look of disbelief plastered on his face. “Could you also explain to me why I didn’t run after her?”
“As far as your second question goes, I’m guessing it was a mixture of shock, anger and the need to know what made her have such a strong response. As for the first, I’m not sure that I should…”
Xander cut him off. “I think I have a right to know, don’t you?”
After a momentary internal debate, Cole nodded his assent. “OK. At one point in time, Anyanka and the Source were in a relationship.”
Xander looked confused by that, “I always thought that she hated all men, she was the Patron Saint of Scorned Women after all.”
“She hated all human men, the Source is definitely not human. The relationship ended when it began to interfere with their duties.”
Xander snorted in derision, “Yeah, I can see how a relationship would put a hamper on mayhem and destruction.”
“She was an Agent of the First, there were those that were uneasy about them being together.”
Xander was silent for a few moments, allowing that information to sink in, before speaking once more. “Was she in love with him?” he asked, not sure whether he wanted to know the answer.
“Yes, she was in love with him.”
Xander could hear something in Cole’s voice that he didn’t like in the slightest. “You think that she still is, don’t you?” he asked.
“I honestly don’t know,” Cole responded, the answer sounding hollow to his own ears.
Xander arched an eyebrow at that, knowing a lie when he heard it. “You must be crap at poker because you can’t lie to save your life.”
“Believe me I can, you can simply tell whether I’m lying or not, it’s another ability of ‘The One Who Sees’.”
“Whatever,” he said dismissively. “Either way, I doubt she likes the fact that her latest boyfriend seems to be destined to kill her last boyfriend.” Realisation suddenly hit him and his features darkened. “She knew didn’t she, she knew that I was the one in the legend?”
“I’m afraid so,” Cole answered regrettably, knowing how the news would affect his new friend, “as soon as I started to talk to her about it she began to panic.”
Suddenly feeling like his entire relationship with Anya had been a lie, Xander leant back into the couch and stared blankly at the ceiling.
After several minutes passed, Cole begins to get worried for his new friend. “Xander?” he said gently.
He didn’t get a response straight away, in fact it took several seconds before Xander finally turned his attention back to Cole.
“What now?” Xander asked.
Cole knew that he wasn’t talking about Anya. “I know that I’m right about who you are, but there is someone else who could give final confirmation.”
“Well get them here,” Xander demanded.
“I can’t,” he replied, “they’re not allowed near the Hellmouth.”
“Ah, you mean a Whitelighter.”
“How did you…” Cole stopped himself from asking, knowing what the answer would be. “Never mind, yes it is a Whitelighter. It does mean coming to San Francisco with me.”
Xander shook his head. “Can’t do that right now, you guys aren’t the only ones fighting against the forces of darkness you know. Also the mother of one of my friends is ill and I want to be here to help.”
“I know that you want to help, but you shouldn’t even be in their war…” before Cole could utter another word, Xander was up out of his chair and grabbed him by the collar, bringing Cole to within inches of his face.
war as well and I won’t be dictated to by anyone
, especially not demons on the road to redemption.” Xander pushed Cole back down onto the couch and began to pace. “I need to talk to Buffy and the others and then I’ll consider going with you.”
Realising that any further disagreement would be detrimental to his health, as while Xander may not be able to actually vanquish him yet, he knew that his attempts would cause him no small amount of pain, Cole simply nodded in agreement. “Whatever you say, but I suggest that you talk to them sooner rather than later.”
Xander walked to the door of the apartment, turning his head to look at the other occupant as he opened it. “How about now?”