A Different Beginning

Author: Knife Hand <d_lutke[at]hotmail.com>

Feedback: Constructive feedback appreciated, flames unappreciated

Spoilers: Dawn from fifth and maybe some from first few series.

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy. I would buy them but I am broke.

Category: Buffy/Xander

Summary: What if it was someone other than Pike who fought beside Buffy at Hemery? How would that change things?

AN: Dawn is in this, she is not the Key, she's just Buffy's sister. Joyce is the Joyce from the Movie, the absent parent, not Joyce from the series who I think was a good role model and should never have been killed off. A slight crossover, not telling with what yet.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Hemery High, LA, 1996

Buffy slumped to the ground, the still smouldering remains of the school gym behind her. It was over, she had defeated Lothos, but she could not have done it with him. She looked around, searching the immediate vicinity, filled with police cars, ambulances, fire trucks and news vans. She saw him striding along towards her, and she smiled, snuggling into his jacket that she was wearing.

"They said we are finished here. As soon as you are ready, we'll go pick up Dawn, pack up your stuff and leave." He said.

Buffy was glad that he had insisted that Dawn be babysat tonight; despite the almost ten year old's protests that she was not a kid. With Buffy's parents absent so much, either working or going out to charities or on vacation without their daughters, Buffy had mostly risen Dawn on her own and although she could be extremely annoying, like all the time, Buffy would die to protect her. Just as she would die to protect him, and knew he would die to protect her.

"Alright, let's go." She said.

They walked over to his van and hopped in. The back was half filled with a motorcycle and all his stuff, the rest of the space reserved for the Summers sister's belongings, except the jury-rigged seat made up for Dawn. They drove back to the Summers' residence and packed all the girls stuff they could fit into the van, and strapped Dawn into her seat. Twenty minutes after arriving at the Summers house they were gone. Buffy idly wondered if her parents would miss them.

"Thank you for everything." Buffy said as they passed the LA city boundary.

"No problem." He replied.

"I mean it." Buffy said. "Thank you, Xander."


Eighteen Months Later, late 1997

A slightly beaten up van crested the hill that led into town and stoped. It was joined a second later by a motorcycle. Buffy stepped off the motorcycle, removing her helmet and dusting off her leathers. She unplugged the radio interface to the helmet as Xander and Dawn got out of the van. Buffy was wearing her bike outfit, which was protective leather pants and jacket with a white blouse under the jacket and boots. Her brownish blond hair was kept back in a ponytail. Xander wore a similar outfit with his brown hair cut short and the end of a scar peaking out from under his white shirt at the side of his neck. The pair looked more eighteen than their sixteen years, mostly because of their eyes that had seen too much. Dawn, who still held innocence in her eyes, was wearing lose cargo pants and a long sleaved blouse, both in dark blue. All three had crosses on chains around their necks. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was touching the horizon.

"Picking up and ultra creepy vibe." Buffy said.

"Yah, this place gives me the Wiggins too." Xander replied.

"Right. Xand, stow the bike. Dawn, start checking the weapons. We move in twenty." Buffy said.

Xander wrestled the motorcycle into the back of the van and locked into its wall bracket. Dawn, now eleven, was methodically checking out the stakes, crossbows, sword and other assorted weaponry that they used. That was her job as she generally did not fight, which is not to say she did not know how to defend herself. No one survived in this business if they could not defend themselves. So Dawn looked after the weapons and communications from the van while Xander and buffy fought.

Stripping off his jacket and shirt, revealing the scar that ran from the side of his neck half way to his waste, Xander strapped on a body armour vest. The put his shirt and jacket back on, grabbed one of his swords and his gloves, and went outside to stand guard while Buffy and Dawn got ready. Xander pulled on his leather gloves and looked at the crosses on the knuckles. Idly swinging the short sword, he thought back on his life.

Xander had always looked out for Buffy, ever since he first saw her in third grade and he had fallen instantly in love. She had never noticed till she was called, but he had been there, even beating up the guy who had called her names in fifth grade. He had run every day and tried to keep fit for his role, also so he could run to her house in under ten minutes if he ever found out something was going on against her. He was actually strong for his age but he had kept it hidden by his baggy clothing. When Buffy had been called as the Slayer, Xander had stepped up to the plate again, and this time she knew. He had faced off against his friend Marcus who had been turned to protect Dawn. Buffy arrived, from a training session with Merrick, half way through and saw Xander stake his friend, to protect her sister.

After they left LA they had travelled a lot, moving from place to place to find the vampires and kill them. They had met up with others who knew the score and had learnt from them. They had gotten the body armour from a cop over in Detroit who had seen them fighting vampires. Sure it was designed to stop bullets but it worked just as well against demon claws. They had found contacts all over the US and Mexico who supplied them with weapons, information or training. Buffy had been training Xander and, to a lesser degree, Dawn since basically day one so they were an effective team.

The van had become their mobile base, but they had numerous store dumps around that they could use to get whatever they needed. They had all leant basic first aid and a range of other stuff, mostly guns, from this mother son team who roamed around. They had learnt a lot in the four months they had spent with them. Most said the mother was crazy, preaching about the end of the world, but to them the end of the world was exactly what they were fighting, they would just have to be wary of this one. Sure the date she had preached had passed, but Judgement Day may still come. They had been sad to hear of Sarah Conner's death and hoped her son, John, was ok.

As the sun finally dipped behind the horizon Buffy opened the back door of the van and stepped out.

"You ready?" She asked, as she clipped the radio to his belt and ran the line to the headset down under his shirt.

"Sure." Xander responded.

They got back into the van, Xander putting the short sword in a sheath in the back of the driver's seat. Xander got in the drivers seat while Buffy got into the passengers. Dawn was strapped into her seat, which had been converted into a communications and observations station, with monitors for the hidden external cameras on the van and scanners set to every emergency frequency. By the time they reached the town limits full dark had fallen. They drove through the streets slowly, scanning the area with the infrared that they had picked up from Conner. After twenty minutes they picked up something.

"Turn left. The park. Five humans versus vamps. Wait a sec, one of the vamps is fighting others." Dawn called.

Xander drove up and he and Buffy jumped out of the van. Xander had the short sword from the back of his seat, as well as several stakes and a long knife. Buffy had a Bastard sword in one hand, an axe in the other, a crossbow slung on her back and several stakes.

"Dawn, track the vamp the humans are fight with, warn us off him. We'll help out with the rest." Buffy said into her headset as they rushed to the battle.

Xander and Buffy got lost in the fight, running on instinct and the stream of information that Dawn was relaying through their headsets.


The other combatants were amazed at the newcomers. The lost count of the number of times that they spun to face enemies that they could not possibly know were there. The humans also noticed the aborted attacks at their vampiric ally. When all the attacking vampires were dead the pair of newcomers stopped.

"All clear here." The man, about sixteen years old, said, obviously speaking to someone over the headset.

"Right. You want to come and meet them?" the woman, also sixteen, asked a second later.

"You will be covered." The man said after a short pause.

A few seconds later the door of the van the newcomers had arrived in opened to reveal an eleven year old girl, also wearing a headset, and carrying an MP5.


Xander chuckled on the inside. Dawn loved that MP5, ever since John Conner had given it to her and shown her how to use it. Xander, Buffy and Dawn turned to face the other group.

"Thanks. They were little buggers" The older gentleman said in a cockney accent, before changing to a cultured one. "I think that this would be an appropriate juncture for introductions."

"Whoa." Xander said, hearing chuckles from the other group.

"Alright." Buffy said. "That's Xander Harris, the squirt with the MP5 is my sister Dawn Summers, and I'm Buffy."

"Shit. You're Buffy Summers? You're the sodden Slayer? I'm Ripper." The older man said, changing accents again. "Um. Rupert Giles."

He was probably in his late forties, with his hair going slightly grey. He was actually dressed similarly to Xander, but without the jacket and with a jumper tied around his waist, although Xander could easily picture him with glasses in a tweed suit.

"Angel." The vampire that had been fighting with the humans said.

He was dressed in typical vampire fashion. Buffy was eyeing him as if she wanted to stake him, and Xander felt the same urge.

"What's his deal?" Dawn asked sceptically, aiming her MP5 in his general direction, aiming from the hip.

"He's got a Soul. Name's Jessie." Said a young man about Xander's age.

Jessie was a well built young man, his dark hair was slicked back and he had a look in his eye that mirrored Xander's. He was dressed in black cargo pants and a black t-shirt. Behind him, and closer to Ripper, was an older lady who had long black hair and was dressed in conservative clothing but handled her crossbow like she knew how to use it.

"Jenny Calender." She said.

"Janna of the Kalderash?" Dawn asked.

"Where did you hear that name?" Jenny said shocked.

"We met up with some Romany a few months ago." Xander said.

Angel shifted nervously but the rest seemed to take it in their stride.

"I'm Willow, and this is Oz." The redhead in the back said.

"Hey." Oz added.

Willow had flowing red hair that she let fall over her face. She seemed to shy but they had seen her in battle. She was very accurate with her crossbow and they, particularly Dawn, had seen her throw fireballs during the battle. She raised her head and smiled. There was a long scar running down her face, which just missed her right eye, and along her neck which was hidden by her hair when she had her head down. Oz was quite short with spiky hair that was orange. He was stocky and they had seen him fiercely protect Willow, with a hint of animalistic motion in the way he fought.

After the introductions, they decided to go back to the local team's headquarters to discuss matters. Jessie came with Buffy, Xander and Dawn to direct them to the headquarters, the library of the local high school, while the rest of the local group made their own way back. Jessie seemed genuinely impressed with the van's setup, especially the weapons and Dawn's communications station.


Xander sat down on the stairs next to Willow. They had been in the library for about five hours with Buffy and Giles giving back story of the groups.

"Nice scar." Xander said offhandly. "How did you get it?"

"A 400 year old vampire named Darla." Willow said shyly.

Xander pulled back her hair gently and looked at the scar, which stopped just above the collarbone. Willow's face was pretty and, to Xander, the scar added a ruggedness that enhanced the beauty of the rest of her face.

"Knife or sword?" he asked.

"Knife." She said quietly.

"Yah. One of mine was a knife, the other was a sword."


"My scars." Xander explained. "This one was from a sword."

Xander traced the scar from his neck down his chest.

"It was Gonax demon. They look human but their heart is in the centre and their kidneys are located just below their shoulder blades. That was before we got the vests. This one was done by a vampire with a knife."

He pulled up his left sleave and revealed a scar running from mid bicep to just above the wrist.

"Wow." Willow whispered.

"Yah, had about four broken bones as well." Xander paused. "Why do you hide?"


"Your face."

"It's hideous." She sobbed.

"Never. I think it makes you look more beautiful. Unfortunately you are spoken for, and I think I am too." Xander said with a grin.

The Sunnydale gang was suddenly startled by a sound they had not heard for over eight months. The sound of Willow laughing. Another shock came when, while still laughing, she tucked her hair behind her ear, revealing her scar. It was a pale, thin line down her face, not the vicious looking thing that she had feared, and it did not detract from her beauty at all, despite what they had feared.

"Wow. She hasn't laughed since she got that scar." Jessie whispered to Dawn.

"He's Xander. That's what he does. That and kicking undead ass." Dawn replied in a conspiratorial whisper.

"Ok. Enough back story. What was that fight tonight about. They seemed seriously bent on getting you guys." Buffy interrupted.

"They were The Master's men." Giles responded.


Chapter 2

Giles was about to launch into a speech about The Master when Jenny interrupted.

"It's getting late. I think this can wait till the morning." She said.

"Sure. Come friends, let's away." Xander said.

"Ok, that's it. No more using the satellite uplink to hack into pay TV for you buster." Buffy said half crossly.

Xander just smirked.

"Come on Dawnie." He said.

"Right." Dawn said to Xander, before turning to the Sunnydale team. "See you tomorrow. Sleep fast buddy."

"Not you too?" Buffy almost screamed.

Xander and Dawn chuckled as they made their way out to the van. When they arrived, Xander pulled out the two deflated air mattresses and the air compressor. In under a minute he had both of them fully inflated, and they all changed into their sleeping attire. Dawn curled up on the smaller mattress clutching at Mr Gordo, Buffy's old stuffed pig which she had given her little sister when they had left LA.

Buffy lay on the other mattress clutching her replacement for Mr Gordo, Xander, and listing to him breath as she rested her head on his chest. Xander wrapped his arm around Buffy's shoulders and waited for sleep to claim him. This was the family he always wanted, needed, not those people in LA who he happened to have a blood relation to. Home was wherever they were and everything was fine as long as they were.

'This is how my life was supposed to be. In her arms' Xander thought just before sleep claimed him.


Willow awoke early, as usual. She showered and was laying out clothes to wear to school when she caught her reflection in the mirror. She turned to look at herself. Pulling her hair back from her face she examined her scar.

"Xander was right." She whispered.

When she left the house, Willow was dressed in slightly loose, black cargo pants, boots and a pale red blouse that left a small strip of her midriff bare. Her hair was swept back in a ponytail, revealing her scar to the world, and her head held high. Xander had given her confidence to be herself, even more than ever. She met up with Oz and Jessie on the way to school, talking animatedly and laughing.

'It feels good to live again.' She thought.


It was around ten o'clock when Xander finally awoke. The nomadic lifestyle that they lived, along with the mostly night-time nature of their work meant that none of the group were getting a formal education and therefore had no need to rise early most days.

In fact Buffy and Xander had done their high school equivalency tests a few months ago by correspondence and Dawn was working towards hers. It had not been easy but they had sweated through it, mostly because they had gained a fair number of suppliers and contractors that now worked for them who will not work for someone without that qualification.

Xander looked down his chest and smiled at what he saw. Buffy was still asleep, clutching him and using his bare chest as a pillow. She had also thrown one leg over his, which despite the innocence of the action, looked sexy due to the fact that she was only wearing one of his old shirts and a pair of boxers.

Dawn, as she sometimes did, had moved over during the night and slept on his other side, her head pillowed in the crook of his arm, her back against his side, and clutching Mr Gordo to her chest. Unlike her sister, Dawn was dressed in proper pyjamas, while Xander only wore a pair of old shorts (AN: as in pants with short legs not underwear. I'm an Australian.). Buffy stirred slightly and Dawn stretched in her sleep. Under a minute later they were all away and there was a flurry of clothing flying around the van as they all changed for the day, having lived for so long in a small space, they did not find the situation uncomfortable or improper, it was just the way they lived.

They piled out of the back of the van, which was parked in the Sunnydale High School parking lot, and started up to the school. It was obvious from the crowds of students that it was between classes. They moved through the crowds with relative ease, the natural senses of the High School teenager that detects dangerous people, usually bullies and football players, reacted to the demon hunters and so the students gave them space. Through a gap they saw something going down and decided to intervene.

Six large boys, seniors and football player by their looks, were picking on a girl. Unfortunately they had chosen a poor target as that girl was Willow.

"What you going to do, scar face?" the leader said.

"How about this?" he heard a female voice say behind him.

In his stupidity, he turned and caught Buffy's crescent kick to the jaw, causing him to collapse to the floor. In the momentary confusion of the bullies, the demon hunters acted. Xander sweep kicked two of the bullies, then he kicked one of them in the ribs and delivered a blow to the back of the other's neck as he rose, causing him to drop back to the floor, unconscious.

Buffy delivered a blow to a bully's solar plexus, disrupting his diaphragm and as a result winding him. The other bully she was facing used that time to launch a blow at the petite Slayer, which was pitifully slow to her reflexes, so she caught his arm, twisted it behind him. She then delivered a blow to the back of his knees, causing him to drop onto his knees, and she used his momentum to knock him out by kneeing him in the face.

Dawn got the last bully's attention away from Willow, who generally did not fight hand to hand, by punching him hard in the kidneys.

'He'll be pissing blood for a week.' She thought with an internal grin.

The bully turned and began throwing punches at Dawn, mad at the fact that he had been attacked by an eleven year old. While she was nowhere near the fighting abilities of Xander or Buffy, she did have a major advantage over the bully, her agility. After training with her family, avoiding the bully's punches was fairly easy. He did manage to land a few blows, but only lightly as she was moving away. Dawn would dart in to attack and then dance out of the bully's reach. First she hit him in the solar plexus, as Buffy had, and while she did wind him, it was only slightly. Next she tried a crippling blow by kicking his knee, but she lacked the force to produce the crunch of a broken kneecap, but again it slowed him. Finally desperate, she tried an age old technique. She kneed him in the balls. This caused him to drop, as it had to countless million men before, and she kneed him again in the face, finally putting him out of commission with a broken nose.

"Not bad. How's the shoulder?" Xander said.

Buffy and Xander had taken only a few seconds to take out their bullies so they had watched Dawn fight, ready to intervene if she looked to be in trouble, which they did not expect to happen. Dawn worked the shoulder where a blow had landed.

"It's alright." She said.

"Let's go see Ripper." Xander said, after checking over Willow.

"You know, we generally just call him Giles." Willow added, as they started towards the Library, leaving the injured footballers and a gaping crowd behind.

They opened the doors to the library and walked in.

"Where have you been? It is almost ten thirty. I have been waiting for hours for you three." Giles said, slipping into his Watcher persona.

'I guess I was right about the tweed and glasses.' Xander thought looking at Giles' attire.

"Chill. We never get up before ten, and then we were delayed saving your pretty little witch from bullies." Xander said.

"Pretty little witch?" Buffy asked, with a note of amusement and a note of jealousy in her voice.

"No where as pretty as you, Buff. Or Dawnie. But then you could be a supermodel and Dawn is heading that way too. You both reset the beauty scale." Xander said, both truthfully, as he saw it, and to get out of trouble.

"Can we get down to business?" Giles said.

"Sure thing, Ripper." Buffy said, grinning along with Xander and Dawn at his expression.


Numerous hours had passed since Giles had begun explaining the Sunnydale situation, which had taken well over an hour. The trio had spent the day flipping through Giles' books, looking for anything cool or disgusting. They had updated some of the Watcher's files on Demonic weaknesses and such, even proving that a species of Demon thought dead for one hundred and ninety six thousand, four hundred and twelve years were still alive and active, having killed a nest of them about three weeks prior. Jessie, Willow, Jenny (or Janna as Buffy, Xander and Dawn called her), and Oz kept coming and going throughout the day either having to attend class or, in Janna's case, teach. They were all expected back in about ten minutes when last class finished.

"Hey Buff. Remember that one?" Xander said, showing Buffy a picture of a large and fearsome looking Demon.

"Oh yah." Buffy said with a slight smile.

"Wouldn't want to meet that bugger in a dark alley." Ripper said.

Buffy, Xander and Dawn all broke out laughing.

"They eat cabbage. That's it, just cabbage." Buffy said giggling.

"I sear it nearly pissed itself when we came up with weapons. They are a non-violent species." Xander put in, laughing so hard his eyes were watering.

"The scary appearance is a defence mechanism." Dawn added.

"Well I'll be buggered." Ripper said, joining in on the laughing.

A few minutes later Willow and the others entered the library. By this time, Ripper had converted back to Giles and he was discussing weaponry with Dawn, while Buffy and Xander were reading and quietly talking. The fact that they were sitting on the floor with Buffy between Xander's legs (Minds out of the gutter people), leaning her back against his chest, and reading the same book, with Xander occasionally whispering in Buffy's ear, threw Jenny, Willow and Jessie off a bit. It might have affected Oz, but with his stoic personality it was hard to tell.

"Oh, they're back." Dawn squealed with the giddiness that only an eleven year old girl can achieve.

"So what's our next move?" Jessie asked, getting down to business.

"Training." Xander replied.

"Huh? Aren't we going to take out The Master?" Willow asked.

Xander simply motioned to Buffy, giving her a smile.

"In the 'Art of War' buy Sun Tzu, it states that the two most important factors are 'Know Thy Enemy' and 'Know Thy Self'. We have to learn about each other, strengths and weaknesses, before we go into battle. When the time is right, we will beat the living shite out of The Master, but till then we train and observe."

"Cool." Jessie said.

"Glad you think so, cause your up first, sparing with Xander." Buffy said with a smirk.

Jessie groaned.