I’ll Have an Apocalypse and a Double Armageddon to Go, Part XCIV
Beta by: Theo (Junior Editor/Muse Wrangler...Many Thanks)
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners...it will start off with the Joss/ME characters, and any other characters or real-life folks are clearly not mine. No money is involved.
Summary: Xander and his ad hoc expedition try to make the best of being out of time and out of dimension.
Sorry it’s been forever posting anything…
The two people who had delivered the letter to the door were still standing in the entry hall of the Council Headquarters a few minutes later when Rupert Giles and several others strode with determination to speak with them.
“Drs Littlefield?” a British man with signs of definite graying asked as he stopped behind two non-descript Slayers. “I’m Rupert Giles. Is Xander nearby?”
Catherine answered for them, “He is, with the rest of our group, just down the street Dr Giles. If you prefer not to meet—”
“No, no, that’s not it at all, madam. Things got out of hand and it, it would be wonderful to see him again. And I for one wish to convey to him my apologies for not, for not being as supportive of him before he left.”
Giles with a slight smile waved aside his erstwhile bodyguards, as a redhead and a blonde dressed rather frumpily moved to one side as a beautiful young brunette circled around the other. It was she who spoke.
“Is Xander okay?” the woman asked. She held out her hand and shook theirs. “Oh, and I’m Dawn Summers by the way. And this is Tara and Willow.”
“Willow?” Ernest asked with a little confusion, “I thought…”
“I’m better now,” the worried looking young woman with a sad smile murmured, and the Littlefields noted the scars on her hands, wrists and right side of her face—indeed the only skin showing at all. “They, Buffy brought us back.”
“Oh…” Catherine responded politely. “I’ve become accustomed to stranger things, my dear. But I’ll let Mr. Harris know so he won’t be too shocked. Dr Giles? Should we call the rest of our party, or would you prefer to meet somewhere more public and secure?”
“Um, if you wouldn’t mind, here would be best.”
“The other Miss Summers isn’t around, is she?” Catherine asked with concern. “I don’t believe it would be wise.”
“No, though she’s expected sometime in the next week, she’s not currently here. Though it would be nice if all could be brought together.”
“Mr. Harris didn’t seem ready for it, and he’s a bit on the edge, Dr Giles,” Ernest admitted cautiously. “And he and William have only just this past day healed back to normal.”
“William?” Giles asked. “I’m afraid—”
“Spike, Giles,” Dawn considered quietly, but aloud. “William Ragsdale, remember?”
“Oh, well, there might be a problem with his entry into this building…”
“By healed, we mean, he is once again completely William Ragsdale, not um, Spike.”
“What?!” gasped the Sunnydale veterans. Catherine and Ernest both took a step back in alarm, even as Dawn and Giles both held out hands in reassurance.
“Sorry,” Giles apologized. “It, it’s just very unexpected. How many of you are there?”
“No more than a dozen,” Catherine conceded.
Giles considered he had ordered all twenty-eight resident Slayers onto what Andrew insisted on calling ‘Yellow Alert’ and believed it sufficient. “No non-humans?”
“Very well, then.” Giles turned to his companions. “I think we’re ready.”
The Watchers were quite surprised when two Xanders and two Faiths entered the room with a bunch of people in American military attire under overcoats. Dawn’s eyebrows rose as the older Xander stared warily at Tara and Willow.
“Soldier Xander, normal Xander … is there a Hyena Xander going to show up?”
Lex and Xander looked at each other and smiled weakly. Lex waved from Xander towards the Watcher Scoobies, and the latter cleared his throat.
“No Dawn, these folks are from another dimension,” he explained to the SGC folks to his right. He gestured to his left, “This is our Faith, Jon O’Neill, Connor—Angel’s son, and William. We’ll be going back with them. And they thought I should talk to Giles before I go, and maybe we could copy the Watcher Library.”
Lex smiled and shook his head in slight amusement as he stepped forward and offered a handshake to Giles.
“I’m Colonel Lex Giles, United States Air Force, in my dimension the son of Jessica Lavelle and Rupert Giles. You know Mom in this one?”
“Jessica?” Giles asked in quiet surprise. He sat back in his chair in amazement. “You mean in your world I married Jessica?”
“No…she left without telling you, when you went to reconcile with your family.”
Giles looked at the Xander he knew, but didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything for a moment. No one else did either.
“I, does this mean Xander is my son here too?”
“Giles,” Xander croaked. “I don’t expect anything—especially since I’m going with these guys for a new start. I’d like to know.”
“I’m sorry, Xander,” Giles began, but moved quickly to continue when he saw the man who might be his son start to lose semblance of emotion in front of him, “Not about finding out, I mean for everything that happened before we, before we stopped interacting after your return from Africa. Tara?”
“If Dawn can get a circle ready in the Casting Room, it would only take a few minutes, Rupert,” the young woman nodded. “But the colonel should stay out of the room so it doesn’t confuse the spell.”
“Of course,” Rupert agreed. “Xander?”
“Um, okay,” he agreed, his shell of repressed rage and hurt crumbling into numbness at seeing Willow and Tara alive again, and his Willow scarred. ‘I just don’t what to do?’
‘You could smile at me?’ a rather shy pair of green eyes conveyed as they tried to stare back at a lifelong friend who hadn’t been there when she’d been resurrected with Tara. Xander and Willow took slow and tentative steps forward, afraid the other might not be real. Their hug lasted an eternity and a few minutes.
Xander and Willow sat next to each other as others engaged in minor conversation until after the ‘paternity test spell’ would be ready and over with. Xander sighed lightly and cleared his throat to speak.
“I missed you,” he told her very quietly.
“I know. Me, too. I mean, once I was back again and you weren’t here.”
“Well, I didn’t have a home here anymore. And I just needed to go out there by myself and figure out stuff.”
“I discovered I like being part of a small group, one that wants to help keep folks safe. I didn’t expect one of them to be Ethan Rayne.”
“After all he did…”
“He was burnt out and felt abandoned by his only real friend; I know how that is now.” He caught a hurt look, “Hey, not your fault; mine more than you or … you know.”
“You’re my Willow. When I go this time, I’ll know you’re okay, and Tara’s with you. You guys have a family again. And I seem to be part of something like one.”
“I DO have to go, Wills. I don’t belong here and what I know will make a difference there.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“I don’t know.”
“I, I’m sad…” she sighed. She looked tired and frail, “I don’t want you to leave me.”
“Well…I don’t know if you’re ready to leave Watcher Land and come with, Wills. And it might be a while, quite a while, but Other-Me said something about a Dimension Gate on another world—maybe if we get that going, I can sneak in a few visits every so often?”
“I’d like that, Xander. I miss you, and so does Tara. Things are actually good enough. But I miss having fun.”
The woman nodded.
“Have Giles hand you the company credit card; you and Tara should go places,” he told her, and held up her hands in front of him to look at them. “You need to live, Willow. And maybe if I ever come back, you can show me all the places you’ve been to.”
“Okay,” she replied softly, nearly a whisper. She was looking down at their joined hands, and he knew she was trying to hold back tears. “I’ll try.”
“Hey,” he uttered as they hugged again. “We know each other’s okay, and you still have Dawnie. And I heard she banged a thrice-wise.”
“Great…” Dawn sighed as she reentered the room. “Even when you’re not around, you know my mistakes.”
“And a big one too, I’d guess.”
“SO not funny. I didn’t like being a giant, Xander. Willow had to help me get back to normal-Dawn-size again.”
Willow smiled a little as she finally let go of her oldest friend. It would be really hard to see him leave, but she’d seen and hugged him, so that was important. After a moment of staring at one of the other-dimension people, she realized something, and whispered to her oldest friend.
“Xander? I thought your friends said there weren’t any demons with you?”
“No,” he above a whisper responded. “We said no DEMONS. Who are you concerned with?” He followed her nod and smiled. “Ah. That’s RJ, and um, Angus, I think.”
“Not that I’ve noticed.” He smiled as the robotic life form stepped over.
“Not evil,” the individual responded, then patted his chest. “Cloned human intelligence in artificial body. Not my idea, but what’s a superior copy supposed to do?”
“Okay, wow,” she replied, then Willow-frowned. “Who’s Angus?”
“He’s a crystal fella that lives in the empty spot in my torso. We have kind of a timeshare going on. Right now he’s recharging, or I’d let him talk a bit.”
The discussion would have gotten further, but one of the Junior Slayers entered the room and announced the spell was ready to perform. As those participating or cleared to observe the ritual excused themselves, the guests were provided access to one of the ‘safer’ libraries and provided with refreshments. One of the Slayers, Satcho, let them wander and peruse for a while before stepping over to the former vampire in their midst.
“You’re William the Bloody?”
“Not really,” he told the girl, who showed slight disbelief. He smiled, “They tell ya that the soul and demon are two different folks, right?” She nodded. “Well, they are. I am William Ragsdale, the soul that only came back a few years back, right?” She nodded as this matched the intel. “Good. Now, because a body makes memories, I have all of Spike’s who was the evil vampire version of me. So when I talk, since they’re now MY memories—demon’s gone, luv—I talk as though I was Spike, and even answer to it. After all, I’ve not even thirty years of human memories, and I have ‘bout a hundred-thirty years of Spike memories. So if you want answers to questions, I can help. But if you’re lookin’ to avenge someone Spike killed, the demon’s been dusted already. Only the human with the memories remains.”
Even though they hadn’t gathered too closely as he explained it, most in the room had stopped and politely listened—it wasn’t everyday a first-hand account was given of such an experience. Satcho thought over his words, and then stepped back to door guard duty with a satisfied nod and a thank you.
Soon, the spell room people returned, Giles and Xander looking a bit skittish and yet more comfortable than when they’d reunited a short time before.
“I guess it’s yes?” Lex asked. He was answered by many affirmatives. “Now what?”
Xander sighed and frowned in thought before replying.
“I’d like to come back someday and get to know … my father … better, but I’m still not ready to give up the chance to make a real difference in space and everywhere else. Too much sci-fi geek still in me to pass it up.”
Giles smiled with understanding, “But if, when, you come back, my boy, we’ll make the time so I can tell you about our family history. Now, Colonel, Xander’s also mentioned you have the ability to ‘beam’ copies if we let you?”
“Yes, sir, though it’s more, beam it up, copy it and beam a copy back down all at once. We haven’t really tried it on actual magic stuff, so we don’t know if the magic doubles up. But since we’re just after the knowledge, anything we get will be a big help.”
“Hmm, indeed, I can imagine. Well, you have our permission. Dawn is arranging a series of ‘holes’ in our wards on a section by section basis up above, so we are not entirely exposed. But as we don’t wish to lose our active magicks, it’s fortunate we have those sequestered in other vaults.”
“Thank you. We’re allied with the Council back home, but having our own copies to reference when they can’t gives us a safe backup—Xander’s told us about that annoying First thing. We used a big taser and a spray bottle of holy water to zap it away. So a second copy of stuff is much appreciated.”
“We do ask in return for your word on two matters—first, that it will indeed be used only for the fight against the Darkness, and second that you will determine a satisfactory way by which Xander and the others can return to us.”
Lex turned to the others, and Harry left the room for the front doors.
“We’ve encountered what we call a Quantum Mirror, like a dial-a-dimension portal. We’re gonna see if by duplicating it, they’ll be locked to each other to start with. If so, we’ll be able to maintain almost-constant contact. But only for short time periods.”
“Why’s that?” Willow quietly asked.
“Something called Temporal Cascade Failure. Since they’ll have adjusted through our other way of getting home, they’ll become part of our timeline. If they or you are too long in each other’s dimensions—especially when you have a double there, both will start to eventually warp out of existence. But don’t worry, Wills, since their doubles and us’ll be the same, it would only be a problem for the rest of you to visit our timeline.”
Willow turned back to Giles, “Makes sense, and if the Mirror works, he can visit us sometimes, and we can visit them for very short visits.”
“Oh, excellent, then. When would we know of success?”
“Once we get back, we could try,” Lex told him. “But you’ll definitely want to keep it a secret from governments since we’ve kinda made off with your world’s copy of stuff without permission.”
“Why not just copy it all?” Dawn suggested. Others nodded.
“The ‘copier’ itself was requisitioned,” Dana replied with an embarrassed smile. “But you’re right, we should.”
“Well,” Giles smiled. “In that case, while all of you, um, make copies, Willow and Tara will give you the tour while I enjoy some time with my son.”
Father and son both beamed at the strangeness of that.