Chronicles of the New Watchers
Book One: The Chosen Ones
Xander: Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night.
“When She Was Bad”
Xander: I just mean ... you can't protect yourself from ... some stuff.
Buffy: I'm way ahead of you, big brother.
Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Harris, Watcher
July 4, 2003
I can’t believe how pissed I am at Giles right now. He’s forcing me to take the day off from training. It’s been a week since Wesley and I had to take out that damn Fornole demon. It could have easily taken us out if he wasn’t so fucking loud. Lucky I heard the son of a bitch coming.
Giles tells me I shouldn’t write out cuss words in my journal, but I don’t fucking care right now.
See that? F-U-C-K-I-N-G. I lost my eye so I have this goddamned blind spot. But I’m going to make sure it doesn’t kill me. I going to keep pushing until I’m strong enough and fast enough to make sure I don’t get killed. Or get anyone else killed.
Damn, it’s the fourth of July. England sure as hell doesn’t celebrate it. I think I’ll call Will and Buffy.
Giles observed Xander talking animatedly on the phone. He used his shoulder to hold the receiver to his ear as he waved his hands about as he explained something to the party on the other end. Willow or Buffy most likely, he thought. To the casual observer Xander would appear to be his usual happy self as he talked, but Giles knew better. There was a rigidity in the way he moved, and a clipped way he spoke since the demon attack a week ago. His temper flared constantly and he also swore long and frequently. Xander was pushing himself and the strain was showing.
The older Watcher was sure the girls could sense this harsh change in him even over the phone lines. How could they not? Giles removed his glasses and polished them as he watched Xander. He was unsure how to reach him now. The lad was becoming a different person. But it shouldn’t surprise him. Xander had faced much over the last year, much like the rest of them. The law of averages demanded that it catch up to them sooner or later. That would explain the strain everyone felt in the days leading to his departure with Xander. And it looked like the younger man was finally cracking under the stress.
Xander turned in his seat and spotted Giles watching him. Resentment played across his features briefly, but long enough for Giles to see it. He sighed and placed his glasses back on.
“Is that Buffy?”
Xander nodded the affirmative. “Hold on a sec Buff,” he said into the phone then placed his hand over the mouthpiece. “You wanna talk?”
Giles smiled reassuringly. “For a moment, if you don’t mind.” The young man shrugged and passed off the phone.
“Buffy,” Giles said warmly into the receiver.
“Giles! Happy Fourth.” She giggled slightly. “But they don’t celebrate Independence Day there, so I’m sure you’re not down with all the fireworks and stuff.”
“No, not here. Al – although I don’t mind fireworks. Rather entertaining.” He watched as Xander rose and walked to the other side of the room. He sighed and Buffy clearly heard it.
“What’s wrong with Xander? I could tell something’s wrong when I was talking to him. Was he hurt and doesn’t want to worry us? Is he not happy there?” She was speaking rapidly.
Giles turned his back to the other man and lowered his voice. “He and Wesley were attacked by a demon while in London a week ago.”
“Oh, is that all?” Buffy paused. “They weren’t seriously hurt, right. I mean, they – they’re used to all that.” Giles could hear the worry in her voice. “No, they weren’t seriously injured,” he reassured. “Its just affected Xander rather badly. The demon attacked from his blind side. He heard it, luckily, and was able to dodge aside.”
“Oh no, Giles. He’s feeling kinda helpless, isn’t he? He’s pissed, huh?”
“I’m afraid so. He’s been pushing himself in his training. I’m afraid he’s on the verge of a breakdown.”
“I guess we all should have known it was coming. We were under a ton of stress trying to fight the First. I was watching Passions the other day with Spike and something they said made me start crying. I didn’t stop for three hours. Three hours, Giles! I think we’re all going to break at some point.”
“I realize that. I just fear that he’ll hurt himself in someway before he breaks down and lets it out.”
Buffy sucked in a sharp breath. “That’s it! Will, Dawnie and I are on the first flight out!”
Giles glanced nervously over his shoulder to see if Xander was listening, and then turned back. “No – no, Buffy. Give us a few days. He was doing so well before this attack. He was managing to settle in very nicely. This has been hard for him to be away from all of you, especially Willow. But he and Wesley have been getting on well and Sam Zabuto seems to be impressed with Xander. He’s well liked here and it was helping him adjust. I just fear undoing it all.”
“Undoing it! Giles I don’t want to call you guys next time to find out he’s crashed and burned. Giles, if he’s getting bad, we should be there!”
“Ye – yes I know. But give me a few days and we’ll see how he is.”
Buffy sighed unhappily. “All right,” she conceded. “Just let us know what’s happening. If he gets worse, I am so there!”
“I understand. Let me put him back on the phone.” Giles covered the mouthpiece and turned toward the dark-haired young man. “Xander?” he spoke louder to get his attention and held out the phone. Xander marched over and snatched the phone. Giles felt a pain inside as Xander glared at him.
Excerpt from the journals of Wesley Wyndham-Price, member of the Central Council
July 15, 2003
Xander appears to be growing more and more irrational. I believe James Robson said he’s suffering from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know that Xander still suffers from nightmares. My room is next to his and sometimes I hear him scream when the dreams become particularly bad. And during his workouts he pushes himself to the verge of collapse. His speed and strength are not improving due to the amount of stress he’s been placing upon his body.
He’s been moody, sulking around. I even tried to snap him out of it by comparing his brooding to Angel’s. Unfortunately all it did was earn me a black eye. Xander has a formidable right hook.
Giles has decided perhaps Buffy and the others should come after all.
Xander was walking past Giles’ den when he heard the phone conversation. His name being mentioned caught his attention. Staying out of sight he listened to the older man’s end of the conversation.
“I’m afraid he’s grown worse.” A pause.
“Yes, I should have let you come when you first offered.” Pause.
“He’s at the edge Buffy. I’m afraid Xander will break at any given moment. He’s already given Wesley a black eye.” Another pause.
“I’m afraid Wesley compared his brooding to Angel.” A short pause.
“Yes, he realizes in retrospect that it wasn’t all that wise.” Pause.
“And how are you holding up? No more crying marathons?” A pause.
“I am worried too. About all of us. We haven’t fully recovered from our war with the First.” Pause.
“Yes, Robson referred to it as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Very serious business.” Long pause.
“All right. I’ll expect you soon.” Short pause.
“Spike? Shouldn’t someone stay in Sunnydale? You – you know vampires and demons.” Pause.
“Kennedy and Connor you say? Yes, I suppose they can handle things there. And Angel has no problems with his son covering for you in Sunnydale on his own?” Another pause.
“I supposed that’s true. Very well. I should go. I have to go over some business with the Central Council. I’ll see you when you arrive.” Short pause.
Xander couldn’t see Giles’ face, but he could hear the smile when he said, “I love you too. And tell the others the same for me. Goodbye.”
Xander hurried around the corner of the hall so Giles wouldn’t see him when he came out of the den.
Excerpt from the journals of Rupert Giles, Head of the New Council of Watchers
July 16, 2003
I cannot stress enough how angry I am. I may understand that Xander is going through a difficult time right now, but that unequivocally does not give him the right to disappear on us. There is no clue as to where he’s gone, except that he isn’t booked on any flights out of the country. Wesley even check under possible aliases Xander might have employed. Wesley had mentioned something rather confusing about an “Alfred Pennyworth,” but I chose to ignore it.
When Xander failed to show for supper last night I should have realized something was amiss. The lad never skips a meal – or in-between snacks for that matter. But I felt it best to give him his space and decided I’d check on him later. When I went to check on him in his quarters he was not there. He hadn’t taken anything with him, but that meant nothing. Apparently when he called off his wedding to Anya he pulled the same stunt.
When I get a hold of him I will strangle him for worrying me so.
Xander rubbed his good eye wearily as the sun hit his face. He groaned and rolled over in bed, attempting to burrow deeper into the mattress. Then he felt his arm connect with something soft. “God, I hope that’s some stuffed toy,” he moaned.
“Now, mate,” a female voice answered. “Is that anyway to tell a lady good morning?”
He cracked his eye open slowly, afraid of what he’d see. A gorgeous woman with black hair was lying in bed with him. Naked. He lifted the sheets to confirm that he too was naked. “Uh, not to be rude or anything, but what the hell happened last night?”
“Well, luv. You came into the pub looking to forget about something,” the woman shrugged. “I struck up a conversation and you asked if I knew someplace cheap you could stay. I invited you here and after a few drinks you agreed. Name’s Shari by the by.” She stuck her hand out and he shook it cautiously. “You’re not a demon by any chance?” Xander asked, dreading the answer.
She laughed at him. “No, pet. Why do you ask?”
“Bad history with women.” Shari nodded her head, pretending to understand.
“Did I spend the night bitching about how miserable my life is?”
“Well you did until I figured how to shut you up.”
Xander blushed. “Oh – kay.” He staggered out of bed and began searching for his clothes. “I need to get back. People are probably worried about me.
“I understand luv,” Shari told him reassuringly as he struggled with his pants. “You probably want to explain it to them on your own about our engagement.” Xander stumbled and fell to the floor. “Ow,” he groaned. Shari chuckled. “Relax mate. I was joking. You were just a lonely man who needed to cut loose for the night and forget about what troubles him. We all need to do it at some time. I had fun, you had fun. No harm, no foul.”
Xander picked himself up off the floor. “Right. So it was good huh? ‘Cause, you know, I really don’t remember much.”
Shari smiled slyly. “Very good.”
He grinned smugly. “I’ve never had complaints yet.”
Excerpt from the journals of Wesley Wyndham-Price, member of the Central Council
July 16, 2003
When Xander arrived home I was sure Giles was going to have an aneurysm from trying to restrain himself from killing the lad. I admire his self-control. I understand where Giles was coming from. Even I was sorely tempted to lay into him myself. He pulled a foolish, juvenile stunt. If he had been hurt or worse we would never have known.
He seemed mildly repentant, but he’s still distant and angry. I hope Buffy and the others are here soon. I think the only one who can reach him is Willow.
That night Xander struck out at the workout bag with all his might, his fist connecting in the center of it. His body protested the action and he was forced to at least pause till the pain in his ribs subsided. The frustration was mounting in him. Even his little drunken escapade the previous night hadn’t released the feelings he was battling. Once more the rage he felt toward the First and Caleb boiled up and he renewed his attack on the hapless bag. His roundhouse kick was almost enough to tear open either the bag or Xander himself. He collapsed to the floor when his body decided it had enough.
“Goddamn it!” he roared. “Fuckin’ unbelievable.” He was shouting and he didn’t care. All he wanted was to tear anything and everything apart. He shot to his feet and began to punish the workout out bag with his rage. Pummeling it non-stop, he never noticed when his knuckles spilt open from the force of the blows. Blood flowed out of the wounds and ran down his hands and wrists.
“Damn it Xander! Is this who you wanted to become when you left?”
It took several seconds for his brain to process the voice he had heard. Slowly he turned to face the speaker.
He blinked; unsure of who he was seeing. “Will?”
Willow Rosenberg had her resolve face on. “What the hell are you doing to yourself Xander?”
Book Two starts next, covering what happened with Willow and the others from Xander’s departure to their arrival in England to deal with Xander’s break down.