Lost but not forgotten

Author: Michael Wilson <wyrdradio[at]yahoo.com>

Rating: R

Disclaimer: Joss, Mutant Enemy, and a lot of other people own the characters from Buffy and Angel. Dune is owned by Frank Herbert. The song “Matter of Feeling” and a clip from the song “Cracks in the Pavement” are both owned by Duran Duran. The character, Rianna, is for April Duchess as a thanks for all the help she has given me during the time I have known her. I get nothing by writing this except maybe some kind words of encouragement and a few cheers... at least I hope.

Spoilers: Prophecy Girl, Graduation, Primeval, about mid Season 5, The Gift, Start Season 6, AU Season 6, Start of Season 7 - AU, bits from the Dune books and many, many scenes from the original Dune movie.

Setting: Starts post Prophecy Girl but before next episode, then the years afterward up to the first few episodes of AU Season 7.

Summary: A spell is cast to get rid of Buffy, but Xander gets in the way... years later, when he is found, will he be able to return to normal.

Author's Notes: This is a Buffy/Dune crossover. " " as always means talking... while * * means thoughts. In this part and in future parts... to convey telepathy, the # symbol will be used. The / / symbol will mean a form of sign language.

Feedback: Yes please!!!!!

Distribution: If you like it... please feel free to place it on your site... but please tell me first.

Dedication: I'd like to thank April Duchess for betaing parts of this story and for talking with me on a few scenes in various parts. It helped me to add some fun to the story... or at least I hope so. Thanks April.

Dedication 2: I'd also like to give a big thanks to Grosclout for taking on the massive job of being my new beta and for undertaking this story all in one go. Thank you so much for your hard work.


My website: http://www.angelfire.com/hero/wyrdradio/

My Yahoo! Groups:

BtVS fanfic - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Collected_Works_Of_Wyrdradio

Harry Potter fanfic - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wyrdradio2

Latest addition

Part 1

The Master fell through the skylight and was impaled on the broken shard of table. They watched in awe as his body changed into a skeleton. Xander stepped toward the skeleton and touched it.

"Wow... no dust... cool, in an 'eww' way."

Buffy looked down from above and began to cry... knowing it was finally over. Xander looked up at her and ran up to the roof. He found her, curled up next to the shattered skylight.


Buffy looked up and reached out to Xander. He rushed over to her and pulled her into his arms.

"Shh... it's ok... let it out.."

Buffy cried, hard, into Xander's chest and then stopped and looked over his shoulder.


Xander looked behind himself and nodded. Angel stepped forward and Xander transferred Buffy into his arms. Then, as Buffy and Angel hugged... Xander walked away. None of them noticed the shadowy figure floating in the darkness.

*You have killed The Master, Slayer, but I will have my revenge...*


The next day, Xander got up early and ran over to Buffy's. He wanted to be the first person she saw when she got up. He rang the doorbell and was greeted with a sleepy Mrs. Summers.

"Hi Mrs. S... looking gorgeous as usual."

Joyce smiled at Xander and blushed a little.

"Good morning Xander."

She stepped back and let Xander enter.

"Have you had breakfast?"

Xander smiled at her and laughed.

"Have I told you how much I love you?"

Joyce giggled and closed the door.

"Thank you, Xander; I love you too... now.. I'm going to take that as a 'Yes Mrs. Summers, I would love to eat with you.'"

Xander nodded and moved into the kitchen. He sat down and looked around.

"Is Buffy up yet?"

Joyce walked to the stove and began making pancakes.

"No.. she's still asleep."

Xander grinned.

"Can I go wake her up?"

Joyce looked at Xander and saw the devious gleam in his eyes.

"Sure... but don't come crying to me when she screams at you."

Xander smiled and ran upstairs. He got to Buffy's room and opened her door slowly. Looking inside, he could see her... asleep in bed, the sunlight playing across her face.

*My god... she's beautiful...*

Xander smiled and walked over to her quietly. He leaned down and kissed her on her nose. Buffy smiled and moaned softly. Xander grinned and kissed her cheek. Buffy moaned again and turned her head toward the kiss. Xander grinned wider and moved to kiss her on her lips... when he found a hand around his throat.

"Kiss me there and I will make you regret it... Xander."

Her eyes opened and she smiled up at him. Xander blinked and smiled weakly.

"Buff... you're awake..."

Buffy nodded.

"Yes.. I heard you when you opened my door."

She let go of him and Xander sat down next to her.

"But if... and the kissing... why didn't you.."

Buffy grinned.

"Why didn't I stop you? Xander, you saved my life. I feel this allows you and me to advance beyond friend... a little."

Xander raised and eyebrow.

"Which means?"

Buffy closed her eyes and giggled... then opened them and stared at him.

"Which means that you can kiss me... on my cheek, nose, forehead... etc.. just not my mouth... and I will do the same to you."

She sat up, the blankets falling down to reveal a pink halter top, and leaned back against her headboard.

"Now.. come here."

Xander moved closer to her and Buffy leaned in and kissed his cheek... close to the side of his mouth.

"Thank you... and good morning. Now... go downstairs and wait for me, I'll be down in a little bit."

She got out of bed and Xander saw naked legs... a lot of naked legs... stretching up to a pair of boxer shorts. Buffy noticed his eyes and smiled, then shook her head.

"Go.. Xander.. and don't eat all the breakfast."

Xander stood and nodded, then walked back downstairs... a smile on his face. When he got downstairs and back in the kitchen, Joyce had the pancakes ready and was smiling at him and looking at him funny. Xander noticed her look and frowned slightly.


Joyce walked over and rubbed a cloth along the side of Xander's mouth. When she pulled it back... there was a red smear, lipstick.

"I'm glad you're here for her. You're a good young man and I know you will be good for Buffy."

Xander blinked in shock and just slowly nodded. He knew this woman cared... and decided to reveal something to her.

"Mrs. S..."

Joyce looked up at Xander.


Xander swallowed.

*Come on Xander.. it's her mom.. she likes you.. just.. just tell her.*

"Mrs. S... I.. I love Buffy."

Joyce nodded and smiled.

"I know you do, Xander."

Xander shook his head and took a breath.

"No... you don't understand... I really love Buffy.. like date her, get married, have kids with her love."

As Joyce stared at Xander in shock, Buffy was walking down the stairs.

"Are you saying?"

Xander nodded.

"Yes... I'm in love with Buffy."

Buffy paused. She was in shock.

*Xander... in love with me...*

Buffy stood there for a moment.. letting it sink in.. then walked into the kitchen, a smile plastered to her face.

"Morning Mom.. Xander. What's for breakfast?"

Joyce blinked and smiled at her daughter.

"Pancakes... and you're in luck, Xander has yet to eat any of them... so hurry up and sit down."

Xander stared at Buffy in shock, but tried to hide it. He looked at the plate before him and wondered just how much she had heard.

*She couldn't have heard much.. or otherwise she would have looked scared or something... I mean... wouldn't she?*

Xander looked over at Buffy and admired her. She was in her red skirt and the nice white top he liked so much.

"You look great, Buffy."

Buffy smiled.

"Thank you, Xander. You don't look too bad yourself."

Buffy looked at Xander... really looked at him. She had been honest with her compliment; Xander really did look good this morning.

*He looks good in dark green... going to have to go through his closet and get rid of anything but green... and blue... and can't forget black..*

Buffy smiled and looked down at the plate waiting for her. She took a seat and began eating... glancing over at Xander from time to time.

"So, Xander, this is a lovely Saturday morning. Not to sound strange but, why the wake-up call?"

Xander smiled and swallowed his mouthful.

"Well... I thought you might like some company and I wasn't doing anything. I thought we could go grab Willow and maybe go shopping then catch a movie or something..."

Joyce stared at Xander in shock.

*Shopping... my god, the boy really IS in love with her.*

Buffy smiled.

"Sounds like fun, Xander. When you're done we can head over there."

She took another bite of her breakfast as Xander inhaled the rest of his, eating another 3 pancakes in under a minute.


Xander smiled and licked the syrup off his lips; his tongue sliding across them slowly... the very sight of it making Buffy's breath catch in her chest. Buffy stared at Xander in awe for a second and blinked at the mental images she was suddenly having... all of them staring a very naked Xander.

*OH MY GOD! Bad Buffy! Xander's your friend. No Naked Xander Thoughts!!*

Buffy looked down at her plate and finished the rest of her pancake.. then stood.

"Well... I'm ready if you are, Xander."

Xander nodded and stood... then grabbed the plates and carried them to the sink. Then, without telling anyone, he washed them quickly and places them in the drain board to dry. Joyce watched all of this in stunned amazement and then winked at Xander as he walked back toward them.

"Ok.. we can go now."

He offered his arm to Buffy and smiled when she giggled... then felt his heart jump when she entwined her arm with his.

"Bye Mom... see you later."

Joyce smiled and nodded.

"Have a fun day, sweetie."

Xander smiled and winked.

"I will Mom."

Xander's reply caused Joyce to begin laughing and caused Buffy to stare at him funny.

"What... I like her better than my own mother... why can't I call her 'Mom'?"

Joyce smiled.

"It's fine with me, Xander. I'd be pleased to have you call me 'Mom'."

Xander smiled warmly and noticed a shocked expression on Buffy's face... which quickly turned into a smile. He patted her hand and headed out the door, pulling her along. Once outside, Xander leaned in and kissed her cheek... then they walked down the porch steps and onward to Willow's.


"I just don't see the possible need to have two pairs of shoes that are exactly the same."

Xander stared at Buffy's feet as she tried on a pair of high heel shoes in a burgundy color... a pair that matched the ones he knew she already had in her room, cause he had seen them just an hour earlier.

"You don't get it, Xander, they're not the same. See.. see here... the strap is thinner and the color is a good two shades lighter than my other pair... and.."

Willow giggled as Xander held up his hands in defense and backed away.

"Aww.. come on Buffy, you're scaring him."

Buffy looked up at Xander and smiled.

"You can relax, Xander, they're not for me.... they're for my mom; we wear the same size, you know."

Xander smiled and relaxed some. He scooted forward in his chair and looked back down at the shoes again, this time with more focus.

"I can see her in them... yeah; they'd look nice on her."

Willow and Buffy shared a look before they stared at Xander.

"I'm not so sure I like the idea of you checking out my mom like that, Xander."

Xander blinked in surprise.

"Checking out... who.. who said I was checking out.. I mean, sure.. she's hot and all.. but I didn't.. I don't check her out."

Xander blushed bright red and turned away. He couldn't believe that Buffy would say such a thing.

*How could she... doesn't she know how I feel... doesn't she know what she means to me; what her mom means to me... how...*

Xander stood and walked a few feet away.

"I'm going to go get a soda from the pretzel hut. You guys want anything?"

Buffy nodded and smiled, staring at a pair of black sandals.

"Yeah.. diet anything."

Willow looked up at Xander and saw a glimmer of pain in his eyes. She knew that something had hurt him... and she was pretty sure that it had something to do with what Buffy had just said.

"Nothing for me, Xander."

Xander nodded and walked out into the flow of people, his shoulders slumped and an extremely sad expression on his face. Willow watched him go and shook her head.

"You goofed up, Buffy."

Buffy looked up, shocked, and frowned.


Willow sighed.

"Xander... you hurt him... he's all sad puppy right now. I think that's why he went to go get something to drink. Something you said upset him... and it hurt him a lot."

Buffy stared at Willow then looked over in the direction Xander had gone.

*I hurt him? What did I say...*

Buffy looked at her lap and tried to think of what she could have said.

*What was it? Oh... 'I'm not so sure I like the idea of you checking out my mom like that, Xander'... oh my god. No wonder he reacted the way he did. I didn't think...*

Buffy closed her eyes and sighed.

"Oh god... I screwed up big time. I shouldn't have said it... but I did... and after what he said this morning... oh.. I'm so stupid!"

Willow reached out and put a hand on Buffy's shoulder.

"What did he say this morning?"

Buffy looked up at Willow, tears beginning to form in her eyes.

"He told my mom that she was more of a mom to him than his is... and he called her mom. She looked so happy by it too... like it touched her heart or something."

*... and he told her he was in love with me... but is he still after this...*

Willow shook her head.

"Oh god, Buffy. You haven't been here long enough to know much about Xander's family. His mom doesn't even know he's alive and his dad... well, I don't have proof, and Xander denies everything... but I think he hits Xander, sometimes. Xander used to show up in my bedroom window at night sometimes and he wouldn't let me hug him..."

Any tears she was trying to hold back were set free now as Buffy heard those words.

*He hits him.... oh god no...*

Just then Willow noticed Xander returning and nudged Buffy, motioning for her to look. Buffy looked and pulled herself together, trying to hide that she had been crying. As Xander walked up to them, drinks in hand, he frowned when he noticed the red eyes on both of them.

"What's the what?"

Buffy shook her head, her lower lip trembling, and launched herself into Xander's arms... wrapping herself around him as she sobbed into his chest.

"I'm so sorry for what I said, Xander. I didn't mean it... please forgive me..."

Xander stared down at Buffy in shock and blinked when Willow took the drinks from his hands. He then wrapped his arms around Buffy and hugged her, pulling her over to a chair to sit down.

"Hey.. it's ok... shh.. calm down Buffy... I'm ok."

Buffy looked up into Xander's eyes and sniffled.

"I know you wouldn't do those things, Xander. You love my mom."

Xander frowned for a second then his eyes widened and he nodded.

"Yes.. I do. I love her.. and you.. and Willow. All of you. You're my family."

As he spoke the last three words, 'You're my family', Willow began to cry herself and joined them in the hug. Soon they were drawing a crowd and Xander smiled nervously.

"Not that I don't like this.. cause I'm loving it.. but we're getting quite a crowd watching us here."

Buffy and Willow looked up at the people watching and smiled... then leaned in and they each kissed a cheek before standing and pulling Xander to his feet.

"Come on.. let's go."

Buffy took Xander's left hand as Willow took his right... then they smiled and walked out into the mall. None of them noticed the small boy with a video camera who had recorded the whole thing..


The boy entered the crypt and walked over to the cloaked man in the corner.

"I have them on tape. I know I only started today... but there is something here you should see."

The man turned around to reveal the face of a vampire. He nodded and motioned for the boy to play the tape. He walked over to a television and hooked everything up... then pressed play. The vampire watched everything then nodded.

"So.. the boy is in love with the Slayer... and he therefore his her weakness. Alain... gather the horde... tell them to attack, tonight, and center the attack on him."

He pointed at Xander and the screen and grinned evilly. Alain nodded and ran back outside. The vampire watched the boy leave then began laughing.

"Soon, my Master, soon Carn will enact your revenge... and with the Slayer's blood shall I focus my dark magics to resurrect you."


"Three please."

The clerk nodded and handed over three tickets.

"That will be 15.35."

Xander nodded and handed over a 20... then took his change and walked into the theater to join the girls. As he entered, he noticed they were already in line to get snacks. Xander walked over to them and handed them each a ticket.

"You you go, ladies, everything is in order. Now... to get food to feed your king."

Willow rolled her eyes as Buffy giggled.

"Yes.. Xander... oh how we love our mighty king.."

Xander smiled, ignoring the sarcasm, and moved up next to them... just as it was their turn.

"Good afternoon, my good man, three large popcorns, three large drinks... two of them diet, nachos, three hot dogs.. one with mustard, one with relish, and one with everything except onions, and of course can't forget.. these, these, and two of these..."

Xander pointed out the candy he wanted and then turned to the girls.

"Did I forget anything?"

Willow shook her head, her eyes wide in astonishment while Buffy nodded and smiled.

"You forgot butter on the popcorn."

Xander slapped his forehead and nodded.

"As milady requests... butter on the popcorn, good sir."

The clerk nodded and snickered as he gathered their order. As he placed everything on the counter, Xander turned to the girls and smiled.

"I'll be along in a minute. Why don't the two of you head on in?"

They nodded and headed in. Xander paid for their snacks then started gathering everything in his arms. It was then the clerk spoke.

"Which is your date?"

Xander looked up and smiled.

"Both of them."

The clerk whistled and smiled.

"Damn.. lucky dog.. they're both hot... but the blonde, you didn't see it cause you were all acting like a nobleman, but she was giving you the eye... in a good way."

Xander smirked.

"Naw.. not Buffy... she doesn't see me like that. Hey.. got to go.."

Xander grabbed the rest of it and, with his arms loaded, headed inside.

*No way could she be looking at me like that... he's wrong... he.. he's wrong...*

Xander walked inside and looked over the seats. Near the back he spotted them and moved their war. When he reached them, he noticed they had placed him between them. This gave Xander pause... but not for long.

"Hey guys... here's your stuff."

He handed out drinks and snacks then sat down between them.

"Funny thing happened... the clerk thought you two were mine."

Willow smiled.

"Your what?"

Xander blushed.

"Mine.. you know.. MINE, Willow."

Willow blushed and looked down. Buffy smiled and laughed.

"Well.. we are hot, isn't that right Willow... so it makes sense that he would be stunned to see us with someone as hunky as you Xander."

Xander whipped his head around to see Buffy laughing.

"Oh.. ha ha.. very funny Buffy.. for that, I'm not getting you ice cream after...Willow gets your share."

Willow smiled smugly as Buffy began to pout.


Xander shook his head and the room got dark.

"Shh... pout later, Buffy, the movie is starting."

Buffy frowned and slumped in her seat as the previews started. It seemed like minutes later before she felt breath on her neck and heard Xander whisper into her ear.

"I was just kidding, Buffy; you know I would never deny you anything... I love you too much to do that."

He then leaned back and went back to watching the movie. Buffy sat frozen, her eyes wide and her body as tense as a coiled spring... for the feel of Xander's breath on her neck had made her body react in a way only Angel could before... and it bothered her on so many levels.

*Worry about it later... watch the movie now...*

Buffy let out a shuddering breath and leaned toward Xander as she got into watching the movie. At the touch of her on his shoulder, Xander sucked in a breath... then let it out slowly... only to do it again when he felt Willow copy Buffy from the other side.

*Remain calm... just watch the movie and try not to think about the two beautiful girls who are leaning on you...*

Xander closed his eyes and swallowed.. then smiled and tried to watch the movie...


"I still say they did it all wrong. The demon wouldn't have attacked openly like that. It would have snuck around behind then jumped them from the balcony..."

Xander looked over at Buffy as they sat and had their ice cream and just smiled.

"Buffy... not all writers in Hollywood know that much about demons. They're bound to make a mistake... once in a while... they're not as smart as you."

Buffy stopped mid rant and looked over at Xander.. then smiled.

"Why Xander.. that's so sweet.. thank you."

She leaned across the table and ruffled his hair then sat back down. Willow smirked into her sundae and shook her head.

"Well.. this has been a fun day, ladies, but the time has come that we all dread."

Willow and Buffy looked at each other and shrugged... then looked at Xander.

"This would be...?"

Xander puffed up some and smiled.

"The moment you both come back to my room with me and worship me as your God O' Love."

Willow blushed and Buffy groaned then they both kicked him under the table.

"Ow.. abuse.. cruel abuse... you both don't love me.. oh the pain.. the pain.."

Xander mimed dying and fell out of the booth.. then glared up at them as they laughed themselves silly.

"Xander... get up... and maybe you might save what little dignity you have left."

Xander looked up and saw legs... legs that led to a very expensive skirt.. then further up to the torso that had been in his dreams more than once... and on up to the face of a Goddess.

"Cordelia... hey... new shoes?"

Cordelia blinked, in shock by his response, and nodded.

"Yes.. they are... but how did you..?"

Xander sat up and smiled.

"I've been shoe shopping all day with my girls. I'm now officially shoe-smart."

Cordelia raised and eyebrow and nodded slowly.

"Really... why wasn't I included in this shopping trip? Hmm?"

Xander frowned. He hadn't remembered Cordelia because she had only been nice to him and the rest of the Scoobies only recently.

"I'm sorry Cor.. I guess I forgot. Can I make it up to you sometime?"

Shocked by the emotional maturity she was seeing, Cordelia just nodded and sat down next to Buffy as Xander got up and took his seat next to Willow.

"So... the night is still young... and I'm so very thrilled to be in the presence of three lovely ladies. What shall we do?"

The girls looked at each other, smiled, then said all together.


Xander smirked and nodded.

"Bronzing with the beauties it is then. Well.. knowing you three like I do.. you're probably going to not listen to me when I tell you you all look beautiful just the way you are and have no need to change and I should just shut up now cause I can see you are all wanting to get dressed up as I speak. Right... meet you three at the Bronze in... an hour?"

The girls nodded and then got up to go. Xander walked over to the counter and ordered a chocolate shake, then sat down at the bar to drink it. He watched the girls wave goodbye then leave and sighed into his drink once he was sure they were gone.

*Nice day... too bad in an hour I'll be designated background guy again...*

Xander sipped his shake and shook his head sadly...

Part 2

Xander looked in the mirror behind the bar and stared at himself. He had gotten dressed up, or what he considered dressed up, for the girls and they had yet to show. He was alone and Xander had this feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach that he just couldn't shake. It was so bad; he was pulling an Angel on everyone by brooding into his soda.

*Something is so wrong here... so very wrong here tonight...*

Xander looked up from his drink as the music stopped. It was Oz's band tonight and it looked like they were taking a break. Xander looked in the mirror and saw Oz's eyes scan the crowd... then lock on his own. Oz then hopped off the stage and walked over.


Xander nodded and turned around.

"Hi Oz. Nice set tonight."

Oz nodded and got a glass of water then joined Xander.


Xander nodded.

"The girls... Willow, Buffy and Cordelia... are supposed to show, but I'm not so sure now."

Oz raised an eyebrow.


Xander sighed.

"Just getting this weird... vibe... in my stomach, like when I had that bad pizza a few months back and yacked all over the pool table... only three times worse."

Oz nodded and sipped his water.

"Whoa... sounds harsh."

Xander stared at Oz and nodded.

"You're all with the mystical nature and stuff; you feel anything?"

Oz looked around at the crowd and nodded once.

"Tingle... something in the air... don't know what."

He chugged the water then got to his feet.

"Hang loose. If you see Willow tell her I want to talk to her. Relax... but keep your eyes open."

Xander nodded as Oz walked back to the stage. He then turned back to the bartender and ordered another drink...


Carn stepped out into the night and smiled. It was coming... the time of his attack.. he could feel it in his bones... in the dark magic pumping through his undead veins. He knew... that on this very night, he would remove someone from existence... and the very thought gave him an almost erotic thrill.

"Alain... is everyone here?"

A boy stepped out of the shadows and nodded.

"One group is here as escort, one is on the roof of the Bronze, two are a block to the east and two to the west.. and the focusing crystals have been places inside the building."

Carn nodded.

"Who is there?"

Alain smiled.

"Xander... he is there, alone. The girls are not there yet. They are still at the home of Cordelia Chase... or they were there 10 minutes ago."

Carn laughed.

*The boy is alone... and vulnerable... this is my chance. I will remove the Slayer's heart... and leave her broken and open to attack. This will be a glorious night...*

Carn looked down at Alain and stroked his hair.

"Tonight... my child.. you will be a witness to the final days of the Slayer..."


"It's about time... he's waiting there all alone.. and Oz is playing tonight and I want to see him play.. and will you two please hurry!"

Willow paced back and forth as Buffy and Cordelia compared nail polish colors to their dresses. It was getting late... and they were already over 45 minutes late.

"Come on.. we're almost an hour late because of you two. Do you really like doing this to Xander? Do you know how much it makes him worry... makes him feel unimportant?"

Buffy and Cordelia stopped mid-sentence and turned to look at Willow.

"What are you talking about?"

Buffy walked over to Willow and looked her in the eyes.


Willow sighed and rolled her eyes.

"He needs us... to be there.. to let him know that everything is ok... and when we tell him something then don't do it.. it's like telling him he doesn't matter."

Willow turned away from them and looked at the ground.

"He already feels left out... I can tell. I have Oz... you have Angel... and Cordy; well, you can have anyone you want... Xander... he doesn't have anyone because he's too scared to let anyone in."

*That's why he won't let me love him...*

Buffy stares at Willow in shock then heard keys rattling behind her.

"Come on... he's waited long enough."

Cordelia brushed past them as she walked out her bedroom door. Buffy swallowed and followed, pulling Willow with her. They caught up with Cordelia outside and drew close. As they neared her, Buffy could swear she heard crying... coming from Cordelia.

*We all love him in our own ways... yet he never gets to see it. Well... not anymore. I'm going to tell him... no, show him... and make him understand that he is important.*

Buffy took Cordelia's hand and smiled at her shocked expression... then took Willow's hand and the three of them walked together down the street. None of them noticing the vampire sitting in a tree across the street, watching them... reporting in.


Alain heard his walkie-talkie chirp and pulled it off his belt.

"Go ahead."

There was static... then a voice.

"The Slayer and the two females have left the dark-haired one's home. They are headed your way."

Alain nodded and looked up at Carn.

"They're on their way."

Carn nodded and smiled.

"Let's give them something to look forward to. Send teams 2, 4 and 5 into the Bronze. Tell them... kill them all, except the boy."

Alain nodded and began giving out orders. As he directed the vampires, he looked down at the building across from them... knowing in mere minutes it would be a bloodbath inside.

*This will be intense...*

As he watched, over 20 vampires moved into the front, back, and top of the Bronze. It only took seconds before the delicious sound of screaming could be heard...


Xander downed his drink and got up to go to the bathroom. He made it all the way to the pool tables before the screaming began. Ducking to the ground, Xander crawled under the pool table and looked out at the flood of vampires that were entering the room.

*Oh great... just great... over... 20 vampires and I'm all alone here. This sucks so much...*

Xander crawled backwards into the shadows and grabbed a pool cue from off the floor. He looked at it and nodded. It would do as a stake... if he could last long enough to get to use it.

*Come on Buffy... where are you! Get your Slaying ass in here!*

Xander watched as people were grabbed left and right and ripped apart before his eyes. It was too much; he just couldn't sit here and watch... he had to do something.

*So what if they kill me... maybe I can take some of them with me.*

Xander crawled out from under the pool table and moved quickly toward the nearest vampire. It had its back to Xander and was completely open to attack. He staked it then Xander jumped into the frenzy and began staking left and right. He hit close to half a dozen before one of them backhanded him and knocked him into a metal pole... knocking him out for a few second. When he came to... almost everyone was dead and there was blood everywhere...


They reached the corner and the Bronze came into view. As the got closer, Buffy tensed and stopped.

*Something's wrong here...*

She frowned, thinking about it, and noticed that she couldn't hear any music. It was at that moment that she heard the screaming.

"Oh god no..."

Buffy let go of Willow and Cordelia and ran into the Bronze... Willow and Cordelia soon following.

As the doors closed, Carn stepped out of the shadows and smiled.

"It is time..."


Xander pulled himself to his knees and looked around at all the dead people and wondered why he was still alive.

*What's going on...*

His head hurt and his vision was a little fuzzy, but he could see that the vampires were avoiding him. Xander got to his feet and was about to start staking again when the doors exploded inward and there she was.


Buffy ran into the room and was like a whirlwind, staking vampires left and right, moving faster than Xander thought was possible. As he watched, Willow and Cordelia entered and he could see the look of horror on their faces. Willow began to cry... then paused when she saw Oz lying on the ground near the stage. Without caring about the vampires, Willow ran over to him and started kissing his face. Xander watched and sighed... understanding... but was still in pain.

"Are you ok?"

Xander turned his head and came face to face with a scared Cordelia. She was looking up and down his body and looked like she wanted to feel for herself if he was ok or not.

"So-so.. my heard hurts... they threw me into that pole over there."

Cordelia ran her fingers through Xander's hair and frowned.

"It's bleeding..."

Xander closed his eyes, enjoying the comforting feeling he was getting from her, and sighed.... then remembered where he was and opened his eyes to look around. Buffy was standing in the middle of the room and there was only one vampire left.

"You're going to tell me what's going on before I stake you..."

The vampire moved back against the stage and was about to speak... when the lights went off except for a few in the corners and the spotlight on the stage.

"Perhaps I can answer your questions..."

Carn stepped forward into the light and smiled. He moved toward Buffy and shook his head.

"You know... for a meddlesome flesh bag... you're semi cute. It's too bad you're on the wrong side of this affair."

Buffy smirked and shook her head.

"You do know you're not getting out of here... right?"

Carn laughed and then glared at her.

"I've already won."

As if waiting for his cue... dozens of vampires swarmed into the room, taking up positions at all the doors and windows. Carn nodded to them then flung out both hands. Lightning shot across the room and melted all the locks on the doors... sealing them all in.

"You too shall not escape, my dear."

Carn looked Buffy in the eyes... then looked past her at Xander. A grin spread across his face as he turned to look to his side.


Alain stepped forward and checked a small book... then his watch.

"One minute and 38 seconds... and she's in the wrong place. She needs to be back three feet and to the right a bit."

Carn nodded and jumped off the stage, forcing Buffy back those said feet. He smiled and walked around her, keeping her in place.

"You see, Slayer, in..."

Alain sat down and smiled.

"One minute, 13 seconds.."

Carn nodded.

"... I will get my revenge. You killed The Master... for that you will lose something precious to you."

Buffy yawned, bored with him.

"Oh yeah... what's that?"

Carn stopped moving and glared at her.

"Your heart."

With that said, Carn released bolts of black and red energy into the rafters. The bolts hit strategically placed crystals and was refracted across and down toward Buffy. Seeing where they were headed, Xander screamed and ran toward Buffy.


He pushed her out of the way just as the bolts were feet from reaching her shocked form... but instead, they impacted into him.


Xander was engulfed in energy and was screaming instantly. His screams echoed in the quiet room as his body jerked and spasmed. As Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia watched Xander's eyes opened to reveal more of the energy crawling across his eyes. He opened his mouth to scream more and bolts of the energy bounced from tooth to tooth.


The energy built and built until Xander was glowing brightly. With a final soul-shattering scream... the spot where Xander was standing exploded, sending scraps of burnt and bloody clothing everywhere.

Cordelia fell back against the pole Xander had hit and slit to the ground, shock overtaking her, as she whispered over and over to herself.

"Not Xander... not Xander... not Xander..."

Willow broke down into tears and buried her face into Oz's chest, sobbing in agony. Oz wrapped his arms around her and hugged her as a solitary tear slid down his cheek.


Buffy looked in terror at the burnt mark on the floor that was all that remained of Xander. A sense of being ripped apart filled her and she exploded into rage. Buffy leapt to her feet and began attacking everything she saw. All of the vampires around her exploded into dust as Carn walked away, smiling and whistling.

"I told you I would take your heart... see you around sometime, Slayer."

He then laughed and walked off into the night as Buffy fought to try to get to him.

"I'll kill you! I'll kill you!!!!!"

Buffy staked and punched and kicked until her hands and feet were bloody... and all of the remaining vamps were either dead or had run away... leaving her standing alone and broken. Buffy fell to the ground and began sobbing... only to feel someone's arms crawl around her moments later. She looked up and saw Cordelia's tear-stained face looking back at her.

"He.. he's gone..."

Cordelia nodded and pulled Buffy against her. They cried together... all of them in unending pain... over the loss of Xander, their friend... their heart.

Part 3

Light filled his eyes and with it came pain. Xander gasped and screamed... then choked as sand filled his mouth.

Slowly the pain receded and Xander cracked his eyes open. All he could see was light and sand... for miles and miles. Xander pushed an arm under him and winced in agony... then pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. It was then he noticed he was naked, except for a few places where it looked like his clothing had burnt into his skin.

"Wha.. where am I?"

Xander sat all the way up and looked around. Sand, sand and more sand as far as he could see... and heat, intense heat blasting him from all sides. Xander began to shake and tremble as the reality of his situation sank in.

"I'm dead... and in hell..."

Xander climbed to his unsteady feet and almost fell back down.


No answer... just the howl of the winds. Xander noticed a dune to his right and figured he might see more from on top. He made his way over to it and climbed slowly. He fell three times but eventually made it to the top. Once there, he could see that he was definitely lost.

*Nothing... no towns... no signs of life... nothing.*

Xander sat down on the dune and stared at himself. He was burnt and bleeding and he looked terrible.

"I look like something exploded on me..."

Xander sighed and shook his head.

"Better not just sit here... and, since I'm lost, it doesn't matter which way I go."

Xander climbed to his feet and started walking... hoping he was headed in the right direction...

Xander tumbled down the dune, falling head-first against the sand. He weakly lifted his head and looked out through sunburned-swollen eyes. He could swear he could see a glint of metal in the distance.

*Going crazy... been out here too long... so tired... thirsty... no.. can't stop...*

Xander crawled on his bright red hands and knees for a few feet before he levered himself back to his feet. He swayed on his feet a bit then stumbled forward again. He had been wandering for close to three hours and he was as red as a lobster now and half-crazy from dehydration.

*Can't..... stop....*

Xander stumbled over his feet and his rhythm turned into a run for a few minutes before he collapsed back into the sand. He lay there for what seemed like forever before he was able to look up again. He saw the glint of metal again and knew that he was getting closer. All he had to do was make it there alive...


"Prepare the condenser and get them going again, Chani, they should be full by now. I'll be in the Southern region monitoring spice harvesting all day, but I should be back by nightfall... early tomorrow morning at the latest."

Chani looked up at her father and nodded.

"I understand."

Liet smiled at his daughter then climbed into the thopter and buckled himself in. Chani stepped back and watched as it lifted up off the ground then flew south. She smiled and nodded to herself... then started back to their home, but stopped when she thought she saw something move out in the sand.

*Too close to be a worm... and father would have told me if any of the tribe was coming... then what could it be?*

Chani tightened her stilsuit and moved toward the edge of the airstrip... scanning the sand for whatever she had seen...


Exhausted by everything that had happened and weakened by sun exposure and blood loss, Xander crawled across the sand on his hands and knees.. not caring anymore if it cut his skin open. All he knew was he had to keep moving.

*can't................................ stop................................... can't................................*

Xander heard the sound before he saw it... but had sense enough to block his head from the blowing sand as the... whatever it was... flew over him. Wind grabbed sand and pebbled his skin to bits, ripping open crusted patches of blood, creating new one.


Trembling and on the verge of collapse, Xander fell forward into the sand and lay there. He was so tired he was unable to move... but he was aware of everything around him. When he heard the sound of uneven footsteps he was sure he had gone insane... but then a shadow fell over him and he was positive of it.

"Hello... are you alive?"

Xander turned his head slightly and saw her. She looked to be about 11 or 12 and she was cute... for a kid. She was dressed in this strange, black, form-fitting outfit and her eyes were the brightest blue he had ever seen. He tried to speak but all that came out was a moan. In that instant, it was as if every ounce of energy he had drained away and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was engulfed in the blackness.

Chani stared at the boy before her and winced.

*My goodness... he looks terrible.*

She watched him pass out and then moved to his side.

*Whoa.. naked.*

Chani turned away... then grinned and turned back. She looked at the boy and smiled.

"You're cute... nice hair... a bit burnt looking right now... and you don't look much older than me."

She looked him over and shook her head at all the blood.

"You're wasting water..."

Chani sighed and began pulling him back to the airstrip. There she could get him onto a carrier and take him home. She could watch him and bandage him and then when father returned... they would decide what to do with him.

"Shit you're heavy..."

She yanked on his arms and dragged him a few more feet onto the airstrip before setting him down on the tiled surface.

"Ok.. you just... right, you're out cold.. so why am I talking to you...?"

Chani moved to the storage rooms and pulled out an anti-grav carrier and maneuvered it toward the boy... then lifted and somehow managed to get him up onto it.

"There.. now I can take you home."

Smiling, Chani took the controls and headed back home, the grav following her...


Awareness came back slowly and she opened her eyes and heard someone talking.

"... and he had been there for at least an hour, maybe more. We talked. He was all upset cause he figured you guys forgot about him. He said you were really late that maybe you might not show up at all..."

Buffy closed her eyes and felt tears leak out.

*He thought we abandoned him... oh god.. Xander... why you... please someone tell me why you...*

Willow looked over at Buffy. She was lying on Giles's couch and had been there ever since she had collapsed at the Bronze.

*Seeing Xander... die... did something to her... to all of us... but her especially. She just lost it... then blacked out. Glad she's finally awake.. it's been over three hours.*


Buffy opened her eyes and sat up.

"He's really gone..."

Willow nodded and watched as Buffy started crying again. She wanted to join her but felt at least one of them had to be strong... and she knew it wouldn't be Cordy. She had run home immediately after Buffy had passed out; claimed she couldn't handle it... that it hurt too much.

*I understand... I do... it feels like something's been ripped from inside me... from inside all of us.*

"I'm sorry, Buffy... he... he was a good guy."

Buffy looked up and saw Angel sitting in the corner. A wave of sadness washed over her at seeing the look of pain on his face. She opened her arms and was engulfed in an embrace in under a second.

"He's gone Angel... and it hurts..."

Angel ran his hands down her back and nodded.

"I know... I know... it's going to hurt for a long time... but it will lessen eventually... you just have to be strong... be strong for him..."

Willow looked at the two of them and nodded to herself.

*Be strong... cause Xander would want it that way... well, ok then.. I'll be strong.. I'll be so strong nothing will hurt me ever again...*

Willow got to her feet and walked over to Oz.

"Walk me home?"

Oz nodded and grabbed her hand... then led her outside and into the night... knowing that after tonight, the world would be a little darker... for a very long time....


Chani pushed the door closed and leaned against it.

*Don't think anyone saw me... stuck to the alleys... think it's ok...*

She let out a breath she had been holding and moved over to the boy.

"Need to get you cleaned up... and put some aloe on your skin before it cracks and peels off in big sheets."

Chani glanced down his naked body and blushed.

*Stop looking at him like that...*

Chani shook her head and moved into the back of the house... returning a few minutes later with some cloth and a half dozen bottles. She moved to Xander's side and examined his wounds.

"Not good... but not too bad..."

Chani took out one of the cloths and poured a small amount of liquid from one of the bottles onto it. She then began rubbing the cloth across Xander's skin... gently... removing the blood and burnt clothing. It took her almost half an hour... but eventually she had him clean.

"Well.. now I can see what needs to be healed."

Chani then spent the next 10 minutes applying ointment to the small gashes and saved the three large ones for last. She then took out a thin needle and some medical thread and stitched up the three large gashed she found... hoping that they wouldn't get infected.

"There... done. Now.. to fix your sunburn..."

Chani took out a jar of aloe and spread a thin layer of it over the boy's body, trying to cover every inch of exposed skin. When she was done, she grabbed a thin sheet from the linen closet and draped it over him.

"Now.. to get some water in you..."

Chani walked over to the condenser and measured out a cupful of water. She walked back over to the boy and slowly ran a few drops over his chapped lips. The lips opened and Chani then carefully dribbled in a little of the water at a time, watching him, making sure he swallowed it all. Once the cup was empty, Chani bent down and kissed his forehead before she walked off to do her chores.


Liet shook the sand off of his body then stepped onto the porch of his home. He opened the door and stepped through. As he removed his cloak, he could hear Chani humming in the kitchen.

"I'm home."

Liet moved into the main living room and was stunned to see a body lying on an anti-grav carrier.


Chani ran in from the kitchen, her hair escaping her braid some, and stopped at the look from her father.

"I.. I found him... just after you left. He was all burnt and hurt and cute..."

Liet sighed and moved over to the boy. He pulled back the sheet and saw the nakedness.

"Tell me, why is he naked?"

Chani blushed and bit her lower lip.

"I found him like that."

Liet nodded and rolled his eyes.

"And I'm sure you loved every minute of it..."

He sighed, knowing his little girl was growing up on him.

"So you healed him?"

Chani nodded and moved over to the boy.

"He was cut and burnt and I cleaned then applied ointment.. and he had three gashes that I stitched up. You might want to look at them. I then coated him in aloe... for the sunburn."

Liet looked down at the boy's red chest and shook his head.

"You did good... but he's still going to peel... badly... and make that tea that Stilgar made for you once, he's going to need it. With luck, this burn will darken him enough that he should be fine if he goes out again."

Liet looked at the gashes and nodded.

"Very nice work... the skin looks clear and its not puffy. I think you did well, Chani."

Liet smiled at his girl and kissed her forehead. Chani giggled.

"So does this mean I can keep him?"

Liet groaned and laughed.

"Yes... for now..."

Liet smiled and walked into the kitchen, his thoughts polar opposite of his expression.

*How could a boy that water-fat, even after the obvious dehydration, get out into the desert... alone.. without a stilsuit. Where is he from...*

Liet prepared himself a cup of spice-tea then leaned against the wall to sip and think. As he stood there, Chani entered, made the tea, then went back out to take care of 'her' boy.

"Come one... drink for me..."

Chani dribbled the tea into the boy's mouth and smiled as he slowly swallowed.

"Good... get well.. strong.. for me..."

She brushed back a strand of hair that fell into his eyes then sat back to watch him sleep...


The first thing Xander noticed was that it was dark... and he was naked. Xander could feel the soft texture of some kind of cloth covering him and he also noticed he felt better. Xander opened an eye slightly and saw a thin tan sheet covering him. He lifted it and saw that he had some kind of medicine covering his skin.

*Someone is taking care of me...*

Just then he heard a sigh and his eyes jerked to the left to see... the girl.. from earlier. She was asleep, curled up on a couch next to... whatever it was he was on.

*She looks so adorable asleep...*

Xander smiled and felt his eyes droop.


Xander turned his head and let his eyes close, going back to sleep...


Buffy and Willow walked up the steps to the door and knocked on it. They heard someone yell from inside then an angry man yanked the door open.

"Yeah.. wadda ya want?"

He was drunk, obviously, and very angry. Buffy frowned and shook her head.

"Mr. Harris?"

The man nodded.


Willow squeezed her friend's hand.

"It's about Xander... he's..."

Mr. Harris sneered.

"What's the little shit done this time. Is he in jail or did he knock one of you up... or both of you."

The remarks cut through Buffy like a knife and her sadness turned to anger.

"He's dead.. you bastard."

Mr. Harris looked shocked for a second.. then nodded.

"Fine... one less mouth to feed."

He then slammed the door closed and stomped off leaving a stunned Buffy and Willow staring at the closed door.

"He doesn't care... oh god, what kind of father is he?"

Willow shrugged and walked back down the steps... followed by Buffy a minute later. She looked at her friend and tried to smile.

"We told him... that's all we can do. Everything will be ok, Buffy, maybe not today or tomorrow.. but eventually. Come on... we have a funeral to prepare."

Buffy nodded and followed Willow up the street to her house, knowing that everyone else was meeting there to plan everything. As they walked, Buffy's mind kept going over the same phrase.

*... knocked one of you up...*

Buffy couldn't understand why, but a small part of her was screaming... because she would never BE in that situation now... not with Xander dead. The future child she had never fantasized about... until this very instant... was gone, forever, and it felt like something was ripped from her... making her feel even more empty inside.

They reached Buffy's house and walked inside. Giles and Joyce were already going over the funeral arrangements.

"... and I think the headstone is taken care of as are the flowers. All we have to do now is figure out the list of people coming."

Buffy stepped into the room and wiped her eyes.

"You can forget about his parents... they're not coming. Don't think Xander would want them there anyway... for all its worth, you two were better parents to him that the ones who had him."

Giles looked at Buffy then at Joyce and nodded.

"Fine then... do you know if anyone...?"

Willow shook her head.

"It's just us... he would want it that way. Just us."

Giles nodded and made a few notes.

"That simplifies things. Well... then once I make a few calls, everything will be taken care of."

He got up and moved to the kitchen, pulling out a cell phone as he moved. Buffy watched him leave then moved over to her mom.

"How are you doing?"

Joyce smiled... but you could see her eyes were red.

"I'm dealing, sweetie, but it hurts. It's like you said... he feels almost like mine.. and it hurts just as much as if it had been you."

Joyce paused and then leaned in close to Buffy to whisper.

"You do know, honey, that he loved you."

Buffy nodded.

"I know... I.. I heard."

Joyce's eyes widened.


Buffy nodded.

"Yes... everything. He was in love with me... and now he's gone... and I don't know what I'm going to do now. I mean, I love Angel... but there is this part of me, deep inside, that won't stop screaming that Xander is gone. I think I love him too... but now he's gone and I feel so empty inside."

Joyce nodded and pulled Buffy into a hug.

"You loved him... deeply... it just took this to make you see it. I think, wherever he is, he understand... and loved you back. Maybe... in a few days.. you should talk to him, tell him how you feel. It might make you feel better."

Buffy nodded and smiled.

"Yeah.. I'll do that. Thanks Mom."

She kissed her mom's cheek then went over to help Willow and Oz. Joyce watched her go then prayed silently for Xander to watch over her little girl...

Part 4

"We are gathered here together to say goodbye to a loved friend..."

It was deadly quiet in the cemetery as the priest swallowed and looked around.

*Night funerals... who ever heard of it...*

He looked down at the open grave and was confused by the chest lying there. No coffin... just an empty chest.

"... our lives are but flickers in God's grand scheme.. and we know not when our time will come, but it is painful for those of us who lose those we love... especially when they are still young. Such is the case here... with young Alexander..."

The priest looked at the mourners and was startled by how many there were. There was the ring of family - a young blonde girl standing between a woman who was obviously her mother and a young man who looked like he was her boyfriend, an older gentleman who stood next to them... one of the father's perhaps, a young red-haired girl and the strange boy next to her, and a lovely dark-haired girl. They were the main ring... but beyond them, there was the surprise. It was as if everyone in the school had come.

"... and so we are here to say farewell... knowing that Alexander is in a better place now, safe from pain... and know that he is watching over all of you... and know that he is happy."

The priest closed his bible and stepped back. One by one, the family moved forward and lowered an item into the chest...


Cordelia stepped toward the grave and took a shuddering breath. She placed her favorite sweater into the chest and smiled.

*He loved that sweater. He used to run his fingers along it and then blush and pretend he hadn't touched me...*

"Xander was a goofball... but he was my goofball... and it's not fair. He's supposed to be here. I need him here to make fun of his clothes... or to have him make fun of... me. I... I just need him..."

Cordelia turned away and wiped her eyes then walked back over to Giles and buried her face in his shoulder.


Angel stepped forward and placed a folded black silk shirt into the chest.

*He was always jealous of my clothes... made fun of them... but I know he liked them and wished he had the guts to wear them himself. Well, Xander, I hope you're wearing them now...*

"Xander was strong, brave, smart, caring... he was there for you when you needed him.... when all of you needed him... and he was never afraid to jump into the fight... if it meant saving one of his girls. He was a good man... and he will be missed."

Angel stepped back next to Buffy, took her hand, and gave it a gentle squeeze... but frowned in confusion when she didn't squeeze back.


Oz stepped up to the grave and looked down. He places a bottle of blond hair color in the chest and smirked.

*He always wanted blond streaks... but was too afraid to admit it to anyone but me.*

"He was a cool guy. He loved pretty much everyone and you knew where you stood with him. He never lied to you... it was always the truth with Xander. He didn't like me at first... but then he did, and when he likes you... you're like family to him. It's going to be a strange world with him not in it."

Oz stepped to the side and waited for Willow to step up.


Willow moved to the grave and started crying. It took her a few minutes to calm herself enough to lower a broken yellow crayon, a box of Twinkies, and a comic book into the chest.

*No... Xander... please don't be gone... please...*

"He was mine... from the day we were born. We grew up together, Xander and I. We did everything together. He was the closest thing I had to... anything. Xander knew everything about me... and loved me for it. You're a part of me, Xander, and with you gone there's a hole..."

Willow paused to catch her breath... then turned and ran to Oz, unable to go on. Oz nodded and led her back to the side.


Joyce stepped forward and placed a box into the chest. Inside the box was a plate of pancakes with syrup.

"Xander was always at my home... and he made the place brighter. He was there to make my daughter and me smile... and when we smiled it made him smile... and his smile could light up a room. He was a light... shining on everything to make the darkness go away. He told me once he wished I was him mother... well Xander, you're my son... in my heart and soul, you're my son... and I missed you."

She turned and walked back to Buffy, tears in her eyes.


Giles moved to the edge of the grave and removed his glasses, cleaned them, then sighed. He placed a small dagger into the chest then shook his head.

"Xander was the son I never had. He made me smile one moment... then frown the next. He was smart and brave and had a sense of style unknown in all of Human history. He was a fighter... and now the fight will be quite a bit harder with him gone. My gift... a dagger... to you, Xander, so that you can continue on the good fight... even from beyond. May you watch over us all... and keep us safe."

Giles closed his eyes and said a small prayer then stepped back to Joyce's side... Cordelia grabbing back onto him.


Buffy stepped forward slowly and stared down at the chest with red eyes.

*You're gone, Xander... and you have no idea what you mean to me.*

She looked down at the envelope in her hand and smiled. Inside was a red heart-shaped card... with a special meaning to Buffy.

"Xander saved my life. Just a few days ago, I was dead...."

Buffy heard Joyce gasp behind her and winced slightly.

"... but you brought me back. If you hadn't been here... I would be gone. You gave me a gift... you gave me back my life..."

Buffy placed the envelope gently into the chest and whispered.

"... and I give you my heart."

She stood back up and turned away, knowing no one heard her last remark... but she was wrong, someone did. Angel stared at her in shock then looked down at the ground as Buffy moved back to his side.

*Her heart...*

Then, one by one, all of the students of Sunnydale High came forward to say something and place a cherished object into the chest. The priest watched in awe as dozens upon dozens of children came forward to say something about the young man who had so obviously touched all of their lives. It was astonishing to him... for one man to have done... this... to the people of this town. It was almost miraculous.


When the last person stepped forward, the priest nodded and closed the now full chest... then motioned for the graves-men to lower it into the ground.

"Ashes to ashes..."

The chest went lower...

"Dust to dust..."

The chest reached the bottom and the men began filling in the dirt.

"May you rest in Heaven now, Alexander LaVelle Harris. You earned your reward..."

The crowd watched until the grave was filled then slowly walked away... leaving only the family who stood there staring at the grave.

"He's gone... it's official now."

Buffy touched the headstone and began to cry... then turned and ran to the car, unable to bare it any longer. She was followed by everyone else, slowly, then they all drove away.

When the cemetery was empty... a lone figure stepped forward and stared down at the grave.

"I wonder what they would do if they knew you were still live..."

Carn grinned then laughed manically before walking back into the shadows...


Xander opened his eyes and looked around. Light filled the room and he could hear people talking in the next room. Xander swallowed and blinked a few times.


Within seconds there was a graying man and the girl from before at his side.

"Hello there, welcome back young man."

Liet smiled at the boy and nodded.

Xander looked up at the man and smiled.

"Uh.. thanks."

Chani grinned; pleased the boy had made it through alive.

"What's your name? I'm Chani and this is my father, Liet."

Xander looked up at them and frowned.

"I... I don't know..."

Part 5

"I... I don't know..."

Chani looked up at her father and frowned. Liet nodded and sat down next to Xander.

"What do you mean?"

Xander frowned and looked at his feet.

"I don't know who I am."

Liet sighed and shook his head. He had seen loss of memory before and knew that sometimes there were hidden memories... or faint ones.

"Close your eyes and search your mind. Look deep inside yourself and tell me if you see anything."

Xander closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He saw darkness, nothing but empty darkness... then a pinprick of light. He moved toward the light and was suddenly on a sandy beach. He could see the waves and feel the sand and then heard laughter behind him. He turned around and saw three beautiful girls waving at him. One had red hair, one had dark hair and the third had blonde hair. They were smiling and waving and on the breeze he heard a voice...

"Come on, Xander, the food's ready."

Xander opened his eyes and stared in shock. Liet caught the boy's attention and looked hopeful.

"So, did you see anything?"

Xander nodded.

"Beach... water... picnic... three girls.... smiling at me... called me... Xander."

Liet smiled and nodded.

"Well.. that is a good memory...."

Then it hit him.


Chani got it too.

"Water?! You saw water!"

Xander looked at them and nodded.

"Yeah... it was the ocean."

Chani backed away, her eyes wide, while Liet took a deep breath.

"Son... there are no oceans on this planet."

Xander blinked in shock and then began to tremble.

"Then where did I come from?"

Liet looked over at Chani who nodded and ran out of the room, returning with a small computer. She turned it on and placed it before Xander.

"Welcome to the Lansradd. Behold the planets of the Houses of the Lansradd. Caladan, home of House Atredies, ruled by Duke Leto Atredies. Geide Prime, home of House Harkonnen, ruled by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Kaitain, home of the Imperial Palace, ruled by Padasha Emperor Shaddam the Fourth. Behold... Arrakis, home of the spice Melange."

Xander's eyes had widened and widened the entire time as he viewed each planet and its ruler in turn. Chani watched him, seeing the shock and fear in his eyes, and wanted to hold him... but knew he wasn't done. She keyed in a command and it focused on Arrakis.

"Arrakis... Dune... a desert planet. There is no water on Dune."

Xander swallowed and looked away.

"Ok then... so I guess I'm not from here then, am I?"

Liet shook his head.

"No son, you're not."

Xander nodded.

"Ok.. then how did I get here and why would someone dump me in the desert.. to die?"

Liet sighed.

"I don't know that either... but I intend to find out. For now, though, you stay with us. You will get well and strong and we will keep you safe while we try to learn where you belong. When you are ready, we will take you to see someone important. With her help... perhaps we can learn more... but for now, rest and get better."

Xander nodded and lay back down. Chani pulled the sheet back up his body and kissed his cheek. Xander smiled at her and blushed then closed his eyes again. Chani waited till she heard his breathing become regular before she stood and moved into the other room to talk to her father.


"You think the Reverend Mother Ramallo will be able to learn more?"

Liet nodded.

"Yes.. I do. She has the magic... she can see things we can't... she will know what to do about him."

Chani nodded and looked back at Xander's sleeping form.

"He's seen oceans, father..."

Liet smiled and nodded.

"Yes.. it's amazing... he might be from Caladan... but there haven't been any ships from there in almost 3 months. There is no way he could have survived that long... alone.. in the desert."

Chani nodded.

"Did you notice his voice... there is an accent to it."

Liet smiled at his daughter.

"Yes.. I noticed it too... and his speech hesitates a little... as if he is unconsciously waiting and thinking out everything he says."

Liet looked at the boy and smiled.

"He looks so much like your mother... it's almost scary."

Chani looked up at her father in surprise.


Liet nodded.

"Yes... in fact, your mother had a younger brother. Give Xander longer hair, a fatter nose, some more muscle to his build, darken his skin, and a few more inches of height.. and you'd have your Uncle Sanwin out there."

Chani gaped in shock.

"Could he be related... somehow?"

Liet shook his head.

"No.. I'm afraid not... Sanwin was unable to have children due to an accident in a fight when he was 10. Xander just looks like him... but we can use this to our advantage. We can claim him as family when we go to see Stilgar and have Xander brought into the tribe. It will give him protection while he is here."

Chani frowned in confusion and looked up at her father.


Liet smiled. He had it all figured out.

"I go off-planet for the Emperor. You know that. Stilgar knows that. Everyone knows that."

Chani nodded as Liet continued.

"Xander is a few years older than you... and your mother had you only after being married to me for barely a year. I will just say before I married your mother, I was with a woman on another world and did not know she was with child. The child was raised there and then was told the truth. Xander came here from..."

He paused to think about from where.. then smiled.

"... from Caladan.. yes, I was there about 16 years ago so it will fit... from Caladan and Xander came to see me. He went to Kaitain but found I had been sent here.. so he came to Arrakis, but there was an accident and he got lost. You found him.. only he had hit his head and all he remembered was his name and that he was looking for me. We will use this excuse... until we can explain everything in detail to Stilgar."

Chani nodded and smiled.

"So he's my brother?"

Liet laughed.

"For now, my dear, for now."

Chani nodded again and grinned.

*For now... but when I grow up and you learn the truth... all bets are off, Xander.*


Xander opened his eyes at the sound of someone walking back into the room. He smiled at Chani and Liet and sat back up. Chani grinned and sat down next to him.

"So, Xander, do you feel hungry?"

Xander nodded and smiled.

"Yes, please, and are we going to call me Xander then?"

Liet nodded.

"Yes... your name is Xander and until we find out who you are and where you came from, you're my son."

Xander frowned.

"I don't understand. Your son?"

Liet nodded.

"Let me explain. We know of someone who can probably tell us more about you, but in order to get to her... you'll have to get into a place that is very secretive. Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen, will be wary of you... but if I tell him that you are my son and that I didn't know of your existence until just recently... well, he might be more willing to believe. Your story is you are from a fishing village on Caladan. I met your mother 16 years ago and was in love with her. I left and didn't know she was pregnant with you and she didn't know how to find me so she never told you until just a month ago. You decided you wanted to see me so you went to Kaitain... but I wasn't there. You then came here when you found out I had been stationed here and got lost upon arrival. Luckily there was a transport from Kaitain a few days ago, so it all makes sense. You had an accident upon arrival and that is why you are injured. Do you understand?"

Xander nodded and rubbed his head.

"I'm from Caladan... you're my father... Chani is my half sister... I'm here to see you... you want to take me to someone but Stilgar has to approve it first?"

Chani smiled and nodded.


Xander nodded.

"Ok... but why are you doing this?"

He looked up into their eyes, confusion clear on his face. Liet sighed.

"Xander... I'm doing this because I can sense that you are a good person. I can see so much potential in you and I know that you are here for a reason. You remind me of my wife, Chani's mother. You look so much like her that it makes me want to take care of you... as if you were my REAL son. I know you probably have a mother and father who are worried about you and so I feel it is my duty to keep you safe until we can get you home. Do you understand?"

Xander nodded and smiled, tears forming in his eyes.

"Yes... and thank you... father."

Liet's breath caught and he nodded, grinning widely at his new son.

"Well now.. can't have you walking around naked.. and no Chani, don't even start... he's your brother now."

Chani pouted as Xander blushed then began to laugh. Liet smiled at his children and laughed with them.

"Ok.. Xander, grab the sheet and stand up so I can get your measure."

Xander grabbed the sides of the sheet and stood up slowly, pulling it around him. Once fully on his feet, Liet bent down and examined Xander's feet, legs, hips, stomach, then chest.

"You're not much different in mass than I was about 6 months ago. Chani.. get the stilsuit I wore to see the Emperor for the Lansradd meeting. I think it will fit Xander."

Chani nodded and ran into the other room. When she returned, she was holding a pile of black fabric that looked strange and slightly scary to Xander.

"I have to wear that? What does it do?"

Liet smiled at his new son.

"It is called a Stilsuit. It is an all-encompassing habitation device. It has been specially designed to absorb every bit of your sweat and filter out the salt... giving you drinkable water which is stored in cache-pockets which you can drink from through a tube in your shoulder. It has also been designed to separate and filter and process urine and feces though pockets in the legs. Breathing and walking are all the energy required to pump and filter everything. With a good working stilsuit... you can survive for weeks in the deep desert. It is the best thing to have to keep you alive."

As Liet spoke, he pointed out each section on Chani. Xander watched and was in awe.

"You can really drink your own sweat?"

Chani nodded and pulled loose her tube.


Xander bent down and took a sip. The water tasted stale and a little strange... but it was water. He stood back up and smiled.

"Wow... very cool."

Chani looked at Xander and frowned.

"Cool... it should be warm... "

Xander giggled and shook his head.

"It was... I meant cool as in nice."

He looked at them.

"You've never heard cool used like that?"

They shook their heads. Xander nodded and shivered.

"Ok.. another weird fact to store away."

He took the stilsuit from Chani and in the process, his sheet fell. Chani blushed and turned away as Xander pulled it on. It was a snug fit... but all seemed right to Liet.

"Yes... tighten a strap here... loosen one here... fold this down... and there we go. It fits beautifully."

Chani turned around and gasped in shock. Xander looked almost like any other Fremen... except his eyes were this deep dark brown that reminded her of her mother.

"You look great."

Xander looked down at himself and smiled. The stilsuit fit him like a second skin and revealed muscles he didn't even know he had.

"It feels nice... like it's almost a part of me... or something."

As he stared at it, he adjusted a strand of material at his neck, tying it behind his back... then moved his drinking tube into place. Liet gasped and Xander looked up in shock.


Liet's eyes were wide.

"How did you know to do that?"

Xander looked at his father then at himself and just shrugged.

"It just seemed the proper way to wear it..."

Liet swallowed and nodded.

*He shall know your ways as if born to them...*

"Well.. you're right.. it is. Maybe you've worn a stilsuit before and just don't remember."

Xander nodded.

"Maybe... so, what now?"

Chani smiled.

"Now we eat... then we go see Stilgar and explain, right father?"

Liet nodded.

"Yes.. quite right.. you mustn't miss your sister's cooking. She's very good."

Xander nodded and felt and heard his stomach growl. Laughing, he looked down at it and shook his head.

"I think it heard that.."

Chani giggled and walked toward the kitchen.

"Well, I had better get started then..."

Xander smiled as she walked into the kitchen and then walked around some, testing out his new stilsuit.

"It feels different... but I can get used to it."

Liet nodded and moved about preparing for their trip. Xander watched his new father prepare and became curious.

"Where is this Stilgar? Is he close?"

Liet shook his head.

"No, he is in Siech Tabr... far away from here."

Xander nodded.

"How will we get there?"

Liet smiled, a gleam in his eyes.

"By worm..."


Xander burped out loud and blushed at Chani's giggle. It had been the best food he had ever eaten and he had gushed on Chani until she was bright red from blushing. They had headed out to the shield wall and beyond and were now a good distance from the city of Arrakeen.

*They were right... I do feel better in this thing.*

Xander ran a finger over his stilsuit and smiled. It was keeping him cool and protected him from the sun.

"Walk without rhythm now, Xander. We need to get a bit further out before I call a worm."

Xander looked confused for a minute then copied the way they were walking. Step, step, slide... step, slide.... step, slide, step, step. They constantly shifted their steps in the sand. Xander smiled and nodded to himself as he followed them out into the open desert. They walked for what seemed like 10 minutes before Liet stopped.

"This is good enough. Chani, plant the thumper. Xander.. hold this for me."

As Chani planted a long pipe in the ground, it began to move making a thumping sound. Liet handed a long spike over to Xander as he pulled a long coil of rope out of his backpack. Within minutes, Xander noticed lightning crawling across the sand in the distance.

"What's that?!"

Liet turned his head and looked.

"Wormsign... good eye, Xander."

Liet moved forward some just as a monster erupted from the sand. Xander gasped in shock and backed away, terror in his eyes. Liet grabbed the spike from Xander then ran toward the worm. He stabbed the side and then was lifted up into the air as the worm rolled to the side, rolling away the injured section from the abrasive sand. When Liet reached the top, he released the spike and attached his rope to the worm with hooks... then threw the free end down to them. Chani took Xander's hand and ran toward the rope.

"Climb up!"

Xander nodded and followed Chani up the rope then moved to stand next to Liet. He was in awe. It was the most amazing thing he had ever experienced in his life. He was riding a giant worm that had to be over 300 feet long... or more.

"This is amazing!"

Liet nodded and steered the worm out into the deep desert, heading toward Siech Tabr...

Part 6

Xander stared out at the sand as they sailed across it on the back of the giant worm. Xander looked down at its tough hide and smiled... then remembered back to the way his father had gotten onto this thing.


Liet smiled.

"Yes Xander?"

Xander looked down at the flattened spike strapped now to Liet's back.

"Did that spike thing hurt the... worm?"

Liet shook his head.

"No.. it is just an irritation, like getting a small scratch. The worm shifted its body away from the sand so as to avoid further irritation."

Xander nodded, glad that the mighty creature underneath them wasn't hurt.

"How much farther?"

Liet glanced at the approaching mountain of rock and smiled.

"We're almost there..."


Jamis stared out at the sand and saw a worm with riders approaching.


Word spread quickly and soon Stilgar arrived with a squad of Fremen soldiers.

"Who is it Jamis?"

Jamis squinted into the sunlight and could barely make out three people.

"Three people... a man and two children... looks like Liet maybe."

Stilgar nodded then frowned.

*Three people... who is he bringing?*

Stilgar ordered a man nearby to go out with a thumper... in case it was needed. The man nodded and ran off. Stilgar moved out toward the Siech opening and watched as Liet arrived.


"We're here... Chani, lower the rope and take Xander down with you."

Chani nodded and threw the rope down then climbed down, Xander following her. They reached the sand and jumped clear. Liet released the hooks and waited the worm out as it began to dive back into the sand. Once the ground was close enough, he jumped free and ran over to his children... just as Stilgar arrived.

"Liet... welcome.. but who have you brought?"

Liet took a breath and smiled...


Deep inside the Siech, Reverend Mother Ramallo opened her eyes with a gasp.

"An offworlder... has come..."

She turned to her guards and ordered them over to her.

"Stop Stilgar... now!"

The men nodded and ran off as two more took their place. Reverend Mother Ramallo stretched out on her couch and took a breath.

"Take me to Stilgar... before it is too late..."

The men nodded and moved to pick up her couch... then carried her out into the main part of the Siech and beyond...


"... and this is my son, Xander. I brought him here to see the Reverend Mother."

Stilgar frowned and glared at Liet.

"You broke the rules, Liet. You know the consequences."

Stilgar pulled out his crysknife and moved toward Xander when a voice called out from behind.

"Stop! Reverend Mother says stop!"

Stilgar glared at Xander and turned to see who spoke. His eyes widened when he saw who it was.

"What did you say?"

The men ran up to Stilgar and stopped.

"Reverend Mother told us to tell you to stop. She's coming to see you, Stilgar. She knows about him."

They pointed at Xander and Stilgar's men glanced his way, staring in a mix of confusion and awe.

"How could she..."

Stilgar stopped as he saw the Reverend Mother arriving on her couch. He nodded and dropped to his knees... his men following him. Reverend Mother Ramallo came to a halt before Xander and stared at him.

*He's here.... but its not him... but something....*

"Stilgar... who is this boy and why is your blade unsheathed?"

Stilgar frowned.

"His name is Xander. Liet claims he is his son. He showed him the worms..."

Ramallo nodded and smiled at Xander.

"Xander... come to me."

Xander looked up at Liet and he nodded and smiled. Xander walked over to the woman and smiled at her.

"Yes ma'am?"

Ramallo smiled warmly and reached out to touch Xander's face. Her eyes closed as she scanned his mind. She saw nothing but a dark mist... until she saw a wavering glimmer of light. She moved into the light and saw the dream Xander had explained to Liet. She gasped in shock and opened her eyes.

"You are a special boy... aren't you."

She turned to Stilgar and frowned.

"Sheath your blade, Stilgar. Xander is hereby placed under my protection. He will be welcomed into the tribe and will be shown respect. I want him to be brought to me for training and I want you to train him to be a fighter... personally."

Stilgar stared at her in open shock... but nodded.

*The boy... could he be.... why else would she order me so...*

"I will do as you say, Reverend Mother."

Ramallo nodded and took Xander's hand.

"Come with me, Xander. I have a story I wish to tell you."

Xander looked back at Liet and frowned. Liet nodded and smiled.

"It's ok.. you can trust her."

Xander nodded and took the woman's hand. As he touched her, a sense of warmth and love washed over him. He smiled up at her and his eyes twinkled. Ramallo smiled back and nodded to her men. They turned and carried her back inside as she began to talk to Xander.

"... you see, Xander, many years ago there was a great revolt high above us....."


Buffy sat on her bed and stared at the framed photo on her nightstand.


She stared at him, the smile on his face as they laughed about something... she couldn't remember.

*Why did it have to be you... why you?*

A tear trailed down her face as she heard footsteps outside.


Buffy looked up at the sound of her mother's voice.


Joyce smiled at her daughter and bit her lower lip.

"Willow and Oz are here to walk you to school. Are you sure you want to go?"

Buffy nodded.

"Yeah.. I have to... I can't just sit here and mope... Xander... he wouldn't want me to."

Joyce nodded.

"Well.. ok, you take your time..."

Buffy smiled.

"Tell them I'll be right down."

Joyce smiled back and nodded, then turned and headed back down. Buffy watched her leave and then looked down at the piece of fabric in her hands. It was a small bloody scrap of Xander's shirt. It was all she had of him... her last link... and she was resolved to never let it go.

*I'll never forget you... Xander.*

Buffy stood and folded the fabric into a small square... then placed it inside a locket her father had given her. She then hung the locket around her neck and grabbed her books.

*You'll be with me forever...*

Then, with a sigh, Buffy headed downstairs... to go on with her life.

Part 7

Time passes slowly and with it comes change. Change can be a good thing... or it can take you deeper into the darkness. Which of these is the case and what do you do about it...


Spike smiled down at Buffy as she whimpered in fear.

"This is something I will savor for years, Slayer."

He bent down to sink his teeth into her neck as her friends watched behind him. Cordelia, dressed in a catsuit whined incessantly. Oz, the short redhead, glared at his back and strained against the two vampire's holding him... the muscles of his chest straining and rippling under the army fatigues he was wearing.


Spike inched his way closer and then noticed a flash of light inside Buffy's eyes. Buffy blinked and sat up, her wig falling off her head.

"I don't think so..."

Buffy kicked Spike across the room and jumped to her feet. Spike stared in shock as she quickly dusted the vampires in the room... then made a run for it, choosing to run and fight another night. Buffy stared at Oz as he looked around in shock.. then glanced at Cordelia.

"Let's get home."

Oz nodded and moved to gather up the children watching, working in an almost military manner.

"Move out.. line up kids... everything will be ok."

The children nodded and followed Oz out into the alley with Cordelia and Buffy following. As she stepped into the alley, she felt Angel staring at her and she turned in his direction.


The pain in his voice ripped her apart. She had been avoiding him for some time now... ever since she lost her Xander. Her Xander.... that is what he had become... the realization of it hitting her only recently when she, Willow and Cordelia had been talking. They had discussed Xander and they all openly admitted to loving him... each in their own way. Talking about it brought them closer together and now they were as close as sisters... almost.


Buffy blinked and looked at Angel.


Angel frowned and moved toward her. Buffy looked down and away from him and it made him wince.

"Are you ok?"

Buffy nodded as she fingered the gown she was wearing. She had chosen it as an attempt to get back with Angel... but it had only made her miss Xander more.

"I'm fine. I.. I have to get home. I'm sorry..."

Angel nodded and walked away, disappearing into the shadows. Buffy listened to him leave then continued walking, knowing that the rift between them was shattered even wider tonight and that there was little hope of it being repaired now.

*I am sorry, Angel, but I can't be with you when I want him more...*

Buffy wiped tears from her eyes and started running home...


"... breath in through your mouth and out your nose, Xander. Feel the energy inside your body. Feel it flow through every inch of yourself. Focus on it... can you see it?"

Xander sat on the edge of the rock wall next to Reverend Mother Ramallo with his eyes closed. He was meditating, searching inside himself for his center. It had become a daily ritual... one that lasted all day sometimes.

"I think so..."

Ramallo nodded.

"What do you feel?"

Xander smiled.

"Peaceful... I feel warm and calm..."

Ramallo smiled.

"Do you hear anything?"

Xander frowned, concentrating.

"Your voice... my voice... Hannah singing to Relia... your breathing... my breathing..."

Xander focused harder and felt something pass through him... then felt so much more.

"... your heartbeat.... Stilgar talking to his men... water dripping..."

Xander took in a shocked breath and opened his eyes.

"... I can hear a worm... in that direction."

He pointed to the east and stared, his eyes wide with a mixture of shock and fear. He looked over at the Reverend Mother and began to tremble. Ramallo smiled and pulled him against her aged body, holding him comfortingly.

"Shh... no need to fear, my child, you are well... you are more than well.... you are progressing rapidly and I am so proud of you."

She petted his hair soothingly and smiled down at him.

"You are like a blank slate and a sponge. You absorb everything I teach you so quickly. You make me so happy."

Xander looked up at her and smiled.

"I love you, Reverend Mother."

Ramallo smiled, tears in her eyes.

"I love you too, Xander."

She kissed his forehead and laughed.

"Now, my child, it's time for you to go train. Remember what you learned today and I will see you tomorrow. Oh, when you get back to your home... tell Chani to come see me when she gets a chance."

Xander nodded and climbed to his feet. He placed a kiss on the old woman's cheek and then ran off down the tunnel. He ran back to his home in the Siech and was happy to see Chani inside studying.


Chani looked up and smiled.

"Hello Xander. Did today's lesson go well?"

Xander walked into the main room and picked up a piece of spiced fruit, eating it as he nodded.

"She said she's proud of me. She wants you to come see her when you get some free time."

Chani nodded and smiled.

"So.. where are you off to?"

Xander grabbed his crysknife and strapped it to his waist.

"I have training with Stilgar. He said he's finally going to start me on the crysknife today. I'm looking forward to it."

Chani smiled and laughed.

"Well.. then you had better run. He gets gruff when you're late."

Xander nodded and leaned in to kiss her cheek before he ran out of the room... leaving a smiling Chani behind. Xander ran down two levels to a large chamber and found Stilgar talking to his men. Xander ran into the room and waited for Stilgar to finish.

"... and I want you to check the eastern region for any new smugglers. Deal with them accordingly."

The men nodded and then left the room. Stilgar looked over at Xander and nodded.

"Xander... did you bring your crysknife?"

Xander pulled it off of his waist and showed it to Stilgar... remembering to keep it sheathed. Stilgar smiled.

"Good.. you remembered. Never draw your blade, then sheath it again, without feeding it blood. Always remember that."

Xander nodded as he placed it back on his belt. Stilgar moved over to a shelf and pulled out two jackets, throwing one to Xander.

"Put it on then draw your blade. We will begin today in making you a Fremen Warrior."

Xander nodded and pulled the jacket on. He fastened it and then pulled his blade. Stilgar nodded and pulled his own blade.

"Bring the blade to your forehead in salute..."

Xander copied him, being careful to not cut himself. Stilgar smiled.

"Now repeat after me... 'May your blade chip and shatter...'"

Xander swallowed.

"May your blade chip and shatter..."

Stilgar grunted then lowered his blade.

"Now.. come at me."

Xander nodded and ran toward Stilgar. It had begun.....


Xander fell to the ground, a small gash on his cheek, and smiled up at Stilgar.

"I almost got you."

Stilgar nodded at the young man before him. He had been training him for months now and the boy learned fast. He lasted so much longer today before he had been cut, it was making Stilgar smile more and more each day.

"You're getting good... very good."

Xander grinned and climbed to his feet. He was in amazing shape now. Gone was the water-fat and now he was thin and athletic and powerful. Muscles he didn't even know he had were clearly visible now. In a word.. Xander looked hot.

"Want to go again?"

Xander grinned playfully at Stilgar and watched the man shake with laughter.

"No, Xander, I think that is enough for today. You do not realize it but we have been training for close to 5 hours now. You should go home. I do not want Chani angry with me for keeping you so long. I already get dark looks from her for every cut I give you."

Xander smirked and blushed. He loved Chani; he really did, even if she was a bit protective of him.

"Yeah.. you think you have it bad, I have to listen to her go on and on about how I need to be more careful."

Xander laughed and grabbed his crysknife from where it landed. He looked at it and smiled... for there was a drop of red on it.

"I think I got you."

Xander held up his blade and smiled. Stilgar stared at it then ran his fingers over his body... finally noticing a small drop of blood at the side of his neck.

"Hmm.. that you did... well, Xander, you have progressed further than I thought. Very grand indeed."

Xander smiled and bowed.

"I'll see you tomorrow then."

He waved and ran off...


"Happy Birthday!"

Buffy smiled at everyone and laughed. She had survived another year and was happy. She was with her mom and her friends... and everything was good, except someone was missing.

*I miss you...*

Buffy looked over at Xander's picture on the mantle and smiled. She wasn't unhappy and brooding anymore. She had decided that Xander wouldn't want her like that... so instead; she lives and thinks happy thoughts, knowing it will make Xander happy.

"Open this one... it's from me."

Buffy looked at Willow and smiled as she ripped off the wrapping. She gasped when she saw what was underneath... it was a photo album. Buffy opened the album and found page after page of photos... of Xander. They started when he was 5 and continued on. Over 10 years of photos. Buffy smiled, tears in her eyes, and pulled Willow into a hug.

"Thank you... it's perfect."

Willow smiled and nodded, then stepped back as the others pushed forward to give Buffy their gifts. Buffy opened them one by one and smiled at each gift... then they all moved into the kitchen for the cake. Buffy blew out the candles and smiled as she watched her friends enjoying the party. Willow and Oz smiled and laughed together while Cordelia talked to Angel.

*He's smiling... I'm glad he likes her... it will help him to stop brooding so much.*

Buffy glanced over at her mom and saw her chatting with Giles... and laughing.

*Is she flirting... no.. don't even go there... bad Buffy.*

Buffy smiled and snickered under her breath then walked across the room to Xander's picture. She picked it up and smiled at it.

"Happy Birthday honey... I miss you."

Buffy kissed Xander's picture then placed him back on the mantle, content with her life... knowing that eventually she would be with him again.



Xander stepped out onto the outcropping of rock and stared up at the stars. He had been thinking about the only memory he had, the three girls, and had been concentrating a lot lately on the blond. He didn't know her name, or who she was, but he felt drawn to her.


Part 8

"You can't go; you might get hurt and then never return to me."

Chani glared at Xander as he continued to pack for his journey. Xander sighed and ran his fingers through his long hair.

"I'm sorry but Stilgar said he wants me to learn from a teacher at Red Wall Siech. I'll only be gone a year so no worrying about me. When I return, I'll know everything I need to know and I can finally take my place in the tribe."

Xander grabbed his pack and cinched it closed.

"Reverend Mother mentions how I need to find a bride... but I don't feel that I'm worthy of anyone. Who would want me...?"

Chani stared at Xander, tears in her eyes, and sighed.

*I do...*

Xander glanced over at Chani and misunderstood her tears.

"Aww.. sweetie.. I know it seems like a long time, but I promise to be really careful. I promise to come back to you... ok, so please don't cry."

Xander pulled Chani into a hug and noticed she was taller than he remembered and she felt more mature. It bothered him some and he backed away.

"My baby sister... all grown up... and I missed it. You're so beautiful..."

Chani blushed, a grin on her face. Xander smiled and kissed her cheek.

"You'll probably be in love and married by the time I come back."

Xander pulled his pack over his shoulder and headed to the door, missing the expression of hurt that flashed across Chani's face. He paused at the door and looked back at her.

"I love you, Chani. Pray for me."

Chani nodded, her heart in her throat.

"I will. I love you too Xander."

Xander smiled and walked off into the shadows.


Xander stepped down onto the sand and took a satchel from Stilgar.

"Inside you will find food and water for the journey, along with a sealed letter for Talrin. He will take you in and place you under his training. You will live with him, his wife and his sister for one year. You will then return and take your place at my side in battle... as a man. May Shai Hulud watch over you."

Xander nodded and bowed to Stilgar then ran to wait for the worm and rider who would take him to his new home. As he waited for the worm to get closer, Xander looked up into the sky and wondered what his memory women were doing...


"First battalion, fire!"

Students stepped forward and shot volley after volley of crossbow bolts and arrows at the Giant Snake Demon that was once the mayor. Oz, standing on a statue, motioned for them to fall back and then waved a second squad forward.

"Flamethrowers... to the front!"

Six young men stepped forward and glanced up at Oz.


They opened fire, flame bathing the Demon as it howled in pain. It dove at Oz but missed as he jumped and rolled across the ground. It was then that Buffy and Angel ran forward. Angel jumped up on the Demon's back and ran a sword through its head and managed to hold on a second before he was thrown clear. Buffy ran forward and screamed up at the Demon.

"Hey! Looking for me! I bet I really piss you off, huh... so what are you waiting for! Eat me!"

The Demon screamed and dove at Buffy. Buffy jumped to the side and ran into the school... the Demon on her tail. Buffy ran through the halls to the library then paused long enough for the Demon to catch up before she ran out the back. The Demon hesitated, noticing a large pile of explosives, and then cringed in terror.... before it and the school exploded.

Outside, Buffy wandered in a daze, having bashed her head against a tree by accident, and just stared in awe at everything around her.

*Fire bad... tree pretty.*

She saw people running around all over and felt something... off. As she looked, there was this shimmer in the air.

*Head hurt... shimmer really pretty.*

As she stared into the shimmer, an image formed and what she saw next would startle her for the rest of her life. She could see a desert... and a large mountain of rock. As she squinted to see clearer, she could see a black-clothed figure standing on the sand.

*Can't see... wish it closer*

As if by magic, the figure grew closer and closer until she could almost reach out and touch it.

*Strong... nice body...*

What happened next would be debated as maybe real but more probably dream. The figure turned and Buffy gasped when she saw his face.


Footsteps echoed behind her as Giles ran toward her. Buffy stared into the shimmer and screamed.


Giles spun Buffy around and looked into her eyes, a terrified expression on his face.

"Buffy.. are you ok?"

Buffy jerked free and turned back around... but Xander was gone.

"NO!... no... it's not fair.. he was here... he was here..."

Buffy fell to her knees and stared, tears falling down her face. Giles dropped down next to her and pulled her into his arms as she cried.

"Shh.. it's ok... it's going to be ok."

Buffy shook her head as she cried, wondering if she was loosing her mind...


Xander watched as the worm came to a halt and headed toward it. As he began to climb the rope, he heard a whisper in the wind.


He paused and looked around... but saw nothing... then continued up. As he reached the top, he could have sworn he saw a shimmer of light down where he was standing... but ignored it as he moved to take his place next to the rider. The rider nodded and turned the great worm around, headed back into the forbidden regions of the desert...


Life continued for Xander. He was taken into Talrin's family and welcomed with open arms, and every day was a new experience for Xander. Time passed and soon his year was almost over...


Xander dove under the attack and spun around, the blunt edge of his blade swatting against the back of Talrin's head, knocking him to the ground. Talrin rolled and came back to his feet then attacked with a kick and slice combination. Xander bent away from the slice then cartwheeled backward away from the kick, landing in a crouch. He glared up at Talrin, his eyes sparking with laughter, and grinned.

"Give up, old man?"

Talrin smirked.


Xander leapt forward and launched a flurry of blows, which Talrin blocked, then dropped down and slammed the blade into the protective chest padding.

"Got you!"

Talrin nodded and sucked in his breath. He looked down as Xander pulled back and saw a line of red on Xander's blade.

"You're stronger than you believe... you cut me."

Xander looked at his crysknife and winced.

"I'm sorry... I.. I didn't know."

Talrin shook his head and peeled off the jacket to reveal a thin cut about 3 inches across.

"It is nothing. It only proves one thing... my training and that that the Reverend Mother has taught you has turned you into a fine warrior. You move fast, but you move faster when you are not concentrating. You're running on Bene Gesserit training then. This is good... it will keep you alive if you ever face an enemy."

Talrin reached out and grasped Xander's shoulder.

"You have learned everything that I have to teach you. You can best me in a fight, you know every plant that my wife knows, you can ride the worms as if you were a native... you are a man, Xander, you can return to your sister now."

Xander smiled and nodded.

"Thank you, Talrin, this means much to me. I will gather my things and say my goodbyes then."

Talrin nodded and smiled as Xander ran off into the tunnels...


Xander walked out into the harsh sun, a changed man from when he arrived, and summoned a worm. As he waited, he looked back to wave goodbye to the people who had taken care of him for almost a year. He knew he would miss them and vice versa. The worm surfaced and Xander went through the motions to harness it and ride... then pointed it toward Siech Tabr...


Buffy ducked the punch from the large slimy Demon and then kicked it into a wall before continuing on. She had to get into the heart of the complex... knowing that Adam, the Cyborg Demon, was inside... with Riley, the Teachers Assistant/Commando she had been semi-dating for the last 4 months. Buffy forced her way through the warlike chaos that was the underground labs of the Initiative as Giles, Willow, and Cordelia worked on the Empowerment spell...


Giles, Willow and Cordelia sat around a small fire as they chanted - Tarot cards in their hands. Giles placed his next to the fire and the card glowed.


Willow placed her card as well and nodded as it glowed too.


Then Cordelia smiled warmly at them and placed her card with the others.


Giles then began chanting and placed a fourth card on top of the others. A flash of light filled the room and, in unison, their heads jerked back.


Buffy threw Cyborg Forest across the table just as Zombie Maggie Walsh stabbed Riley through the heart... killing him instantly. Buffy cried out in shock then gasped as power exploded through her. Her eyes glowed golden and she turned to attack Adam. Just as she got close to him, a shadowy form materialized and a bolt of lightning hit her. Buffy turned to look and growled at what she saw... Carn.

"You die!"

Carn smiled at her as she came forward toward him, ignoring Adam who took this opportunity to move to stab her with the bone shard in his arm. He extended the shard and moved to strike when something jumped in front of him with a sword.

"Bugger off!"

Spike exploded toward Adam, slicing into his neck, just as the shard impacted with his chest. Spike looked down in shock and then turned to look at the startled Buffy.

"Bloody Hell..."

As he spoke, Spike exploded into ash... distracting Carn long enough for Super-Buffy to reach him and rip off his head. Carn gasped in shock then he took exploded into dust... but not before he made a final comment.

"You've lost your heart for good now, Slayer..."

Buffy paused for a second, shaken by his words, then spun around and slammed her fist through Adam's chest, pulling out his heart. She then watched as Adam fell... dead. Buffy stared down at the dead bodies and piles of dust and began to cry. She dropped Adam's heart onto a table and then crushed it into powder before heading back out... gathering Giles, Willow, and Cordelia on the way.

Once outside, Buffy felt the spell wear off and then collapsed crying into Giles's arms as they walked away into the night...


Xander saw the familiar rock of the Siech and smiled. He brought the worm to a halt and climbed off... then ran inside. As he arrived, he noticed that there were people gathered around a woman and a boy a year or so younger than himself. Xander spotted Stilgar and walked over to him.

"Stilgar... I'm back."

Stilgar turned and smiled.

"Xander, welcome home, come... meet Jessica and Paul. They have been adopted into the tribe, such as you were. Paul is near your age and Jessica is..."

Xander looked over at Jessica and Paul as Stilgar spoke and interrupted him.

"... a Bene Gesserit... I can see it on her, and on the boy."

Jessica's eyes widened in shock and she glanced over at Paul. Paul nodded slightly to his mother as Chani stepped next to him. Chani spotted Xander and smiled, running over to him.


Xander smiled at Chani and pulled her into a hug. Chani looked up at Xander and played with his hair.

"You're too shaggy... I need to cut your hair, Xander... and you're too thin... and..."

Xander laughed, he had missed his little sister so much. He looked past her at Stilgar and the others and noticed confusion in Jessica's eyes and... jealousy in Paul's.

"I missed you too, sister, but come now, I haven't introduced myself properly."

Xander walked over to them and bowed. Then, using a hand language Reverend Mother Ramallo taught him, he signed in Bene Gesserit as he spoke.

"Greetings to you... Jessica and Paul... I am Xander, son of Liet, brother to Chani, student of Reverend Mother Ramallo. Long life to you."

Jessica gasped in shock as Paul nodded and replied back in kind.

"You honor us with your greeting, Xander. I am Paul Mua'dib, Duke of Arrakis, and this is my mother Jessica."

Paul finished signing, adding in one more phrase.

#Speak with me later... please.#

Xander nodded and smiled. He got in line behind Chani as they ushered their new arrivals down into the Siech. Once fully inside, Xander whispered into Chani's ear then headed to their home. Once there, he cleansed himself with some special plants then caught his reflection.

"I am shaggy... and big."

Xander's muscles were well defined. He looked as if he didn't have an ounce of fat on him, giving him a powerful and deadly appearance. Xander shaved and waited for Chani to come home, knowing if he attempted to cut his hair himself she would kill him. He sat down in a comfortable chair and fell asleep.


Chani walked down the hallway smiling. Paul was so handsome... and mysterious. Being near him made her tingle all over. She opened the door to her home and stepped inside and spotted Xander asleep in Father's chair. A grin came to her face as she looked at him... but then it turned into a frown.

*Xander's back... and he's gorgeous... but he only sees me as his sister. He accepted the role of brother so completely he has forgotten that we are not related. Then there is Paul...*

Chani sighed.

*I just don't know what to do...*

She walked over to Xander and kissed his forehead.

*Sleep... I can cut your hair later.*

Chani then placed a thin blanket over him and left to go speak with the Reverend Mother...


Chani entered the chamber where the Reverend Mother lived and saw her talking to Jessica. Chani stopped then continued on when Ramallo waved her over.

"Jessica... this is Chani, one of my students. You have met before."

Jessica nodded and smiled.

"Nice to see you again, Chani."

Chani nodded.

"Yes.. you as well."

Ramallo looked up at Jessica.

"Jessica has agreed to take my place as Reverend Mother. She will take the Water of Life and allow me to pass beyond. When I have, you will become her successor."

Chani's eyes widened but she nodded.

"I understand."

Chani looked at Jessica for a second then looked back at Ramallo.

"Xander has returned... and he surprised everyone."

Ramallo smiled.

"My training... he noticed then, did he?"

Jessica nodded.

"You trained him as I have trained my son. I can see it on him. Do you think he is...?"

Ramallo shook her head.

"No. Xander is gifted... smart and quick... but he is not the one."

Jessica nodded.

"I see. Once you pass on, do you wish me to continue his training?"

Ramallo glanced at Chani then back at Jessica.

"Yes. Take him under your wing. The key to gaining Xander's trust is to mother him. He hasn't one and he yearns for one so greatly that he thrives when taught with love. He has learned more from me in such a short time than I learned myself at younger than his age. Be kind to him, Jessica, and he will amaze you with his skill... and his capacity for love."

Jessica nodded and smiled.

"I will do as you ask."

Ramallo turned to Chani and smiled at her.

"When I am gone, Chani, tell Xander that he holds the place of my son in my heart. He will understand and I believe it will comfort him. Also... do not let him know of my passing until after the ceremony. He is asleep?"

Chani nodded. Ramallo smiled.

"Good... let him sleep. I do not want him to experience this. Tell him it was my command and he will understand. Now go... watch him... wake him before the ceremony and give him a cup of spice coffee laced with xanis. It will make him sleep. Then, come back here for the ceremony. You have one hour."

Chani nodded and bowed her goodbyes to the Reverend Mother and Jessica. She then turned and ran back to Xander, finding him still asleep. She waited 40 minutes then prepared the coffee and gently shook Xander awake.


Xander blinked and rubbed his eyes.

"Chani... wow, sorry.. I fell asleep."

Chani smiled.

"It's ok.. here, drink this... it will help you."

Xander took the cup she was holding and smelled it and smiled... then drank it all in one drop. Then, a strange look crossed his face and his eyes rolled back in his head. Chani helped Xander back into his chair and kissed his cheek.

"I'm sorry... but she told me to do it. Sleep well."

Chani then got changed and ran to the ceremony...


Xander awoke slowly and found Chani sitting next to him, a stunned look on her face. Xander sat up and blinked a few times.

"What happened?"

Chani jerked in surprise then looked at her hands.

"Reverend Mother Ramallo is gone. In her place is Reverend Mother Jessica... and her daughter, Alia."

Xander closed his eyes and reached out with his training. He felt tears fall down his cheeks as he verified what Chani said. He couldn't feel Ramallo anymore... but yet he felt the presence of two Reverend Mothers. Xander opened his eyes and stared at Chani in shock.

"What... how... do they know?"

Chani shook her head.

"Not yet... but how do you?"

Xander shrugged.

"It must be a part of the Bene Gesserit training... I guess."

Xander stood and took a deep breath.

"I have slept a long time. Has Stilgar spoken to you about what he wants me to do now?"

Chani nodded. Stilgar had been by earlier with Paul. They had explained to her about the Weirding Way and a new module weapon system. Stilgar had told her to send Xander to him when he awakened.

"You're to report to Stilgar for a new type of training... with Paul."

Xander nodded and got changed then headed to the auditorium.


Xander stood with about 40 other members of the tribe as Paul spoke before them on a dais.

"... with this training you can sever limbs, boil blood in your enemy's body, explode organs, set fire to them completely. You will become an unstoppable force... and you will in turn train the others... who will train more.. until all Fremen are the most powerful force in the universe."

Paul displayed the Weirding Module and Xander blinked in surprise as the small device created such power with just the power of your own voice. Xander stared at the tiny device in awe as one was placed in his hands.

*I hold power... and with training... I will be a sight indeed.*

He looked up at Paul who pulled him aside for a second.

"I wish to train you separately. Wait afterwards for me."

Xander nodded then moved off to the side to practice with the others. As he moved up to a column of rock, he concentrated on the sound in his head... then rolled the sound in his throat and fired.


A burst of energy shot out of the module and ripped a hole in the column. Xander smiled and felt pats on his back from the other men. They were all excited and appeared to be enjoying every minute of this new training. Xander smiled as they too were successful then went back to his own column. He knew this would be a very fun day...

Part 9

Under the personal training of Paul, Xander learned quickly and advanced to a level comparative with Paul himself. Each day was filled with training, by Paul then later by Jessica. They wanted to pass on everything they knew to Xander and with each day, they grew closer and closer to him until Xander thought of Jessica as his own mother and Paul as his brother. Eventually, Xander had advanced to the point of having not much left to learn... so Jessica was left with a difficult decision...


"... and he has mastered everything I have taught him. I even tested him with the box. He lasted quite a long time, not as long as Paul... but very long indeed. I am wondering if I should attempt to teach him The Voice."

Alia listened to her mother and with her preternatural mind; she saw the possibilities layered before her. Seeing the possible future, she nodded.

*If he is similar to Paul then it might be useful to him later on.*

She nodded to herself and locked eyes with her mother... staring at her with eyes in a body that was unnaturally older than it should be.

"If it will help him... then I say you should do it. It would be of great help, maybe, to him... plus it would infuriate Mohaim."

Alia smiled evilly and pictured outrage on the older woman's face at having two males with the ability to use The Voice. Jessica nodded.

"I was thinking something along the same lines. I'll do it."


Jessica walked into her son's room and found him talking with Xander. She smiled at them and cleared her throat.

"I'm going to train you in The Voice, Xander..."

Xander looked at Paul in confusion then smiled at the grin on Paul's face.

*I wonder why they're so happy....*

"The Voice?"

Jessica nodded.

"I shall explain..."


Buffy slammed into the column and looked up in shock at the blond woman walking toward her.

"You know... you hit hard... for a girl."

Buffy glared at the woman and spit out blood.

"Oh.. I'll show you hitting hard, skank."

Buffy jumped to her feet and ran toward the woman. As she neared her, she launched into a jump-kick that tossed the woman across the room. She then ran over to the man tied to a nearby chair and ripped him free, only to be hit from behind seconds later.

"Hey! He's mine, you leave my monk alone!"

Buffy spun around with a crescent kick at the woman's head and knocked her against the other column, breaking it in half. As the woman got to her feet, the ceiling began to crack. She stared up and her eyes widened in shock as the ceiling cracked wide open and began to fall down upon her as Buffy and the monk ran out of the building.

Outside, Buffy dragged the monk to safety and lowered him to the ground.

"You're going to be ok. I'm going to get you some help, just hold on."

The monk shook his head.

"No.. no time... the Beast... she.. she must not find the Key... you must protect the Key..."

Buffy frowned, not understanding.

"Key.. what key?"

The monk stared up at her and swallowed.

"We sent the Key to you... for safe keeping... in a form you would accept..."

Buffy's eyes widened.


The monk nodded.

"The Key is energy... we made it human... and gave it to you..."

Buffy's eyes filled with a horrified expression.

"She's not human..."

The monk coughed.

"She does not know that... she only knows you and your mother... she IS human. You must... you must.... protect..... her......."

The light in the monk's eyes faded and Buffy lowered him to the ground, her mind shocked by everything.

*Dawn.... oh my god....*


Xander stared at Jessica and concentrated on what she had been teaching him for the last few weeks. He focused his mind on the feeling the pointed out and squinted as he tried to reach out to that place.

"Come here..."

Jessica shook her head.

"Try again."

Xander swallowed and blew out his breath.


Jessica smiled and shook her head again, but before she could say anything... Xander growled and glared at her...

"Cooooommmmmeeeee..... Heeeeeerrrrrrreeeeee.... coooommmmmmeeeee... heeeeeerrrrrreeee."

Jessica's eyes widened in shock and felt herself take three steps before she stopped herself. She could still hear Xander's voice vibrating and echoing in her ears, but she was able to block it.

"Very good job, Xander, you did it."

Xander smiled and laughed.

"Hurts your throat... am I doing it wrong?"

Jessica laughed.

"No, Xander, you did it right. It will hurt the first few times... but you will get used to it. That is enough for today. I believe that Paul has something planned for a few days from now. He wanted to speak with you about it in an hour."

Xander nodded and walked over to her.

"I'll go see what it is he wants then. Thank you for teaching me."

Jessica nodded and smiled... then pulled Xander into her arms, hugging him.

"I'm proud of you, Xander."

She kissed his forehead and then sent him on his way.


"I don't see any... wait.. there..."

Xander lowered the binoculars and turned to Paul.

"They've just crossed the edge of the rock wall."

Paul nodded and motioned to his men.

"We take them... kill the Harkonnen scum... gather the spice."

The men nodded and waited for Paul to signal the attack. Xander watched Paul as he waited then jumped to his feet as Paul lowered his hand. Within seconds... the fight was on.....


Xander slammed his crysknife into the gut of the soldier in front of him and threw him to the side, fighting his way into the harvester. As he got near it, the smell of raw spice caught him be surprise. It was so strong...

*What... is... happening...*

Flashes of light filled Xander's mind as images of the girls jumped before his eyes.


Xander shook his head and managed to duck just as something shot at him, the blast missing his head by a few inches. Xander jerked to the side and fired back then ran into the harvester and commandeered it... at weapon point.

"Stand down or die!"

The man nodded and backed away. Xander motioned him outside just as Paul arrived.

"We're clear... no one else is inside."

Paul nodded and ordered his men to gather and transport back the spice to the Siech. He then looked over at Xander and frowned when he noticed the dazed look in his eyes.

"You ok, Xander?"

Xander shook his head.

"I.. I don't..."

Images were flashing before his eyes over and over... increasing in speed and intensity. It was making Xander dizzy... so dizzy in fact that he fell to the ground unconscious.


Xander opened his eyes slowly and blinked at the light. He lifted his head and saw a worried Chani sitting next to him.

"Oh thank the Gods..."

Chani rushed over and pulled his head against her chest, holding him there.

"You're ok..."

Xander blinked a few times and then turned his head slightly as he heard and felt Jessica approach.

"Xander... are you ok?"

Xander pulled himself loose from Chani and shook his head.

"I don't know... something happened to me out there..."

Jessica nodded.

"Spice... raw spice.. you stank of it more than anyone. What exactly happened to you? Do you remember?"

Xander paused, remembering, and nodded.

"I was near the harvester... it smelled so strong... I went inside and these flashes... images.. filled my mind. There was so much power behind them that it hurt."

Chani swallowed nervously and looked over at Jessica as she sat down next to Xander.

"What did you see?"

Xander looked at his legs and tried to remember.

"The red haired girl... only she was younger... like Lia's age... and she was crying. She had broken this small yellow stick and was sobbing. I walked over to her and gave her another stick just like it and she smiled and kissed my cheek."

Jessica smiled and nodded.

"Anything else?"

Xander thought about it and shook his head.

"No.. just that."

He looked up into her eyes and frowned.

"What was that?"

Jessica titled her head and smiled. She knew of Xander's one memory and she had a good idea what this was.

"I think it was a memory... triggered by exposure to an intense amount of spice. I think... I think that if we introduce a high level of spice into your diet, gradually increasing the amount, we can trigger these, memories, but in a controlled fashion. Are you willing to do this?"

Xander stared at her for a few seconds then nodded slowly.

"Anything to get my memory back."

Jessica nodded and stood up.

"I will see to it immediately."

She then turned and left the room... a smile on her face.


Days passed and Xander began to notice things felt... different... to him. Sounds were growing clearer, his vision was getting sharper and he was having strange dreams. He was eating a large amount of spice every day and was eating more and more each day. By now, he was eating as much as Paul...


"... now focus your mind and feel through your thoughts. Think back through the mist to the light... travel to it and then beyond... and tell me what you see..."

Xander popped a piece of spice into his mouth; his eyes closed, and pushed his way through the mist in his mind. He pushed harder... and harder... and then something strange happened....


Dawn walked into the room, blood dripping down her arms.


Buffy rushed over to Dawn and stared at her arms in shock.

"What did you do?"

Dawn glared at Buffy, her jaw clinched tight.

"Am I a thing... am I a stupid thing!"

Buffy's eyes widened.


Dawn frowned at her.

"Am I this... Key thing?!"

Buffy's jaw dropped.

"Who.. how?"

Dawn closed her eyes.

"So it's true... I'm not real..."

Buffy grabbed Dawn's shoulders and shook her slightly.

"Of course you're real! This is blood.. it's real!"

Xander stared in horror at what he was seeing. He looked around franticly and noticed that the blonde standing next to the bleeding girl was the same one from his memory... only older. He looked behind her and saw the red-haired girl and the dark-haired one sitting with an older blonde woman and another blonde.

*What... where am I?*

Xander floated over to them and bent down to look into their eyes... but they couldn't see him. He moved to them, one by one, skipping the other blonde, until he was before the bleeding girl. He stared at her and saw a green glow around her body.

*Key... what's going on here?*

He looked down into the blonde's eyes and bent forward to look at her closer... but she moved and her head met and merged with his... and in that second, there was a feeling unlike anything he had ever felt before.

*What! Whoa!*

He gasped... the blonde gasped, her eyes wide with shock... and the other blonde gasped from across the room. Xander blinked and backed away.. then everything vanished in a flash of light and he was back sitting before Jessica... breathing hard and shaking.

"What did you see?"

Xander looked up into Jessica's eyes and slowly tried to explain...


Buffy gasped and shivered as a warm feeling flooded her body. For a second, she felt something touching her... deep inside... and then smelled something woodsy and sandy and heard a male voice inside her mind.

*What! Whoa!*

Buffy heard Tara gasp and spun around, her eyes wide with shock and fear.

"Tara? What?"

Tara swallowed and blinked.

"Y.you didn't s.see him?"

Willow looked at her and frowned.

"See who baby?"

Tara looked around then spotted a picture on the mantle. She pointed at it and swallowed nervously.

"Him... only older."

Every eye turned to the mantle and Buffy gasped in shock.


Part 10

"Him... only older."

Every eye turned to the mantle and Buffy gasped in shock.


Buffy began to tremble in shock, then looked over at Dawn and snapped out of it.

"Mom! Dawn.. we have to..."

Joyce Summers got off the couch and moved over to Dawn.

"I'll take care of it. Cordelia, help me please."

Cordelia nodded and she and Joyce took Dawn upstairs. Buffy watched them leave then turned to Tara.

"Xander... you saw Xander?"

Tara nodded.

"Yes... him.. the guy in the p..picture, only older."

Buffy smiled; thrilled that Xander was still alive.

*He must be alive.. he can't be older and be dead.*

Willow stared in awe at Tara and Buffy then it hit her.

"He's alive?!"

She began to cry, shaking, and threw herself into Tara's arms.

"... he's alive... he's alive..."

Buffy took Xander's photo off the mantle and held it to her chest.

"I knew you were still out there... but where...?"

She looked over at Tara and smiled.

"What did he look like? Does he look sick.. or healthy?"

Tara tried to figure out how to explain... then smiled. She grabbed her art pad and began sketching. Willow looked down at the paper, watching her draw, as Buffy moved to crouch before Tara's feet. Tara drew Xander as she saw him and then nodded.

"There... that's what I saw."

She turned the drawing around just as Dawn, Cordelia, and Joyce walked back into the room. A hush filled the room as they stared at the new Xander. Gone was the goofy lanky boy. In his place was something... gorgeous.

"Mmm.. salty goodness."

Cordelia heard herself and blushed then smiled at Buffy.

"God, Buffy, he's gorgeous now."

Buffy nodded and stared at the picture. Xander was wearing this skin-tight black outfit that showed off layer upon layer of hard muscles. His body looked amazing and his long, past shoulder length hair made him even more yummy looking.


Everyone stared in shock at Dawn... who just laughed.

"Come on.. he looks... wow. If he were here, Buffy wouldn't be getting any sleep at all."

Buffy blushed as Joyce frowned at Dawn.

*She's right... he looks sooooo good... but where is he?*

"Tara... what was he doing?"

Tara looked around the room then nodded.

"He... appeared... over there, then moved toward the couch. He looked into Willow's eyes then moved on past the rest of us and over to you and Dawn.. then he frowned and leaned forward to look into your eyes, Buffy, and you turned and your heads.. merged... then he jerked and disappeared."

Willow smiled, glad her friend was alive.

"So he's alive... then that means we can find him. He had to have left something... residue.. of how he came here. We just have to find it."

Buffy nodded and stared down at the picture in her lap, a smile on her face... a smile that hadn't been seen for... years.


"... and then my head slid into her head and I panicked and everything shifted and I was back here. I know a few names now... though... the girl is named Dawn... and the blond, when my head merged with hers... I got the name, Buffy."

Jessica nodded.

"I see... and this, how did you describe it.. green glow?"

Xander shook his head.

"Aura... it was an aura. It was this pretty green color... but I don't understand what it means."

He paused, looking at them for a minute.

"How did I go there?"

Paul sighed and moved closer.

"Spice induced vision. I've had them before. You traveled there... to the past, present, or future. Judging by what you told me, and their apparent ages.. it's the present."

Paul frowned.

"This shouldn't have happened... you haven't been taking that much spice."

He looked into Xander's eyes.

"Continue taking the spice... but be careful. Monitor how much you take and if you feel something happening, call out for me or mother... immediately."

Xander nodded and took in a shuddering breath.

*Well, Buffy, looks like you just gave me something to think about...*


Paul stalked the red haired man slowly, moving... concentrating... on the blade in his hands.

".. and what about the little one, is she your pet? Does she deserve special attention?"

Paul growled and sliced at Feyd... who jumped back and laughed.

"Ha ha ha.. I will kill you!"

Paul moved forward and locked arms with Feyd. Feyd smirked and a blade silently slid out of his side. He spun around and sliced Paul's stomach open. Within seconds, the poison on the blade surged through Paul's body and he fell... dead.


Xander jerked awake.

It had been a dream.

He looked around the room and saw a sleeping Chani in the next room. Xander took a deep breath and absentmindedly popped a piece of spice into his mouth. He got to his feet and moved out into the silent hallways to find Paul...


"... and then the poison killed you."

Paul nodded.

"I have seen this... Feyd... in my visions. Thank you... thank you Xander for telling me this."

Xander nodded. It was his duty to help Paul in any way, and meetings such as this had become an almost weekly occurrence... ever since that night so many weeks ago.

"Are you still having the nightmare?"

Xander looked up and nodded.

"Same dream... they are under this tower. Dawn is strapped to the top of it and this old man is cutting her... Buffy is fighting this blonde woman with a lot of power... the red-haired girl is shooting lighting at the woman while the other blonde is being held safe in the arm of this older man. I don't think I'm there... cause it hasn't happened yet... and no one seems to be able to see me. This shimmer of light fills the sky and the red-haired girl does something to the blonde Buffy is fighting... but it hurts her and she falls to the ground. Buffy then manages to knock the woman to the ground and she turns into a man. The blonde in the man's arms seems to shiver and change and then runs to the red-haired one while Buffy runs up to help Dawn... then everything gets too bright and I wake up."

Paul nodded slowly.

"Do you have a feeling as to when this will happen?"

Xander shook his head.

"Not really.. but I think soon. I.. I want to help... I have to help... for some reason."

He looked up into Paul's eyes.

"Can you help me go back... like last time?"

Paul's eyes widen and he nodded.

"Yes... I cannot right now.. but I can soon. I have my own... mission... to undertake. I want you with me... Xander... when I do it, when I take the Water of Life."

Xander gaped in shock.


Paul nodded.


Xander took a shuddering breath and nodded.

"I'm with you."

Paul nodded and smiled and then pulled Xander into an embrace.

"Thank you... brother."


Xander dropped down next to Chani and Paul as Paul drank the blue liquid. Xander stared down at the man as he began to writhe... then scream. Tiny droplets of blood dribbled down from the corners of his eyes as Paul began to... change. Xander watched, awe filling him, then felt a pain rush over his body. He gaped out in pain and fell back onto the ground as worms erupted from the ground all around them.

*What's.... going.... on....*

Xander crawled into his hands and knees and then pushed himself up and noticed blood on the sand.... his blood. Xander reached up and felt his face and his hand came back covered in blood. He looked up in shock at Chani who looked terrified.

"Xander... you.. you're bleeding..."

Xander reached up and pinched his nose, trying to stop the flood of blood... but nothing happened... then it all stopped. Xander looked down at Paul and saw his eyes were open. Chani gasped and reached out to her Paul.


Paul climbed to his feet, a strange look in his eyes, and stared into the sky.

"Father! Father... the sleeper has awakened!"

Xander stared in fright at Paul... who finally looked down at him.

"Xander! What.. how?"

Xander, trembling, shook his head.

"I don't know... it started when you took the water."

Paul grabbed a cloth and wiped Xander's face clean, checking it for more blood.

"You seem ok... now... come, we must return. I know what to do now and we are short on time..."

Xander nodded and moved back to join Paul's honor guard as they summoned a worm.


Buffy jerked in her chair and looked around in shock.


Willow moved in front of her.

"They took her, Buffy. We have to find her."

Buffy nodded and then pulled Willow into a hug.

"Thank you... thank you for pulling me out of there."

Willow nodded. She had gone into Buffy's mind to pull her out when she had fallen into a catatonic state after loosing Dawn.

"It's the least I could do, Buffy."

Buffy smiled.

"Come on... we need to get busy."

They stood and moved into the main room of the magic box. As they entered, they noticed Tara was twitching and shaking.

"Must go... must go... need... need to work on the vectors..."

She was trying to get up and go, like she had before, but she couldn't move because of being tied to the chair. Staring at her, it suddenly all made sense.

"Untie her. Glory is summoning her. This is our chance to find her."

Giles nodded and untied Tara... who then jumped up and ran to the door... then out into the night. They followed... a few feet behind her... until they arrived at the industrial park, a tall tower visible in the center... with a few figures standing at the top.


Buffy ran forward, the others following, and attacked the first minion she saw. Glory soon appeared and began fighting Buffy... not noticing Willow sneaking up behind her...


Xander stared at his bloody hands and then looked back up at Jessica and Alia. they had wiped their own bloody faces clean... but he could still see it, in his mind. He had bled, like them, and that fact disturbed him greatly.

"It's time... I know it."

Paul turned to Xander and nodded.

"Well then... we know what to do."

He turned and picked up a small vial then turned and handed it over to Xander.

"Drink this and you will achieve a state deeper than before. You should be able to travel back, in your astral form, and do whatever you feel you need to do. I will watch here and bring you back when it is time."

Xander nodded and took the vial... then drank it quickly, all at once. Almost immediately, he could feel his mind expanding and that same feeling came over him. Xander closed his eyes and reached out... and then felt he was in someplace else. He opened his eyes and saw... chaos....


Tara looked around, unhappy and not understanding what was going on... then saw something she recognized.

"Mmm.. pretty man.... pretty man back...."

Xander blinked in surprise and then smiled... but his smile faded when the woman turned to look at him... and saw him.

"Who the hell are you?"

Buffy frowned and looked where Tara and Glory were looking... but saw nothing.

"What are you talking to? I don't see anything?"

Xander looked down at himself and noticed he looked... hazy. He concentrated and became more focused. As he solidified more, he heard a gasp come from nearby.


He looked up at the blonde, Buffy, and smiled. She was staring at him... and he noticed the red-haired one was as well.

"Hey... so, am I late for the party?"

Tara broke free from Giles and ran toward Xander... but was grabbed by Glory. Willow screamed and ran to them, chanting a spell. She then ran her fingers into Glory's head and Tara's head.

"Give it back to her, you bitch!"

Glory screamed as light exploded between her and Tara with both of them falling to the ground. Xander watched then jerked as a drop of blood landed on the ground near him. He looked up and remembered the girl, Dawn. He turned to look at Buffy, who was staring at him in shock.

"Hey... you had better hurry... the old man is killing her."

He pointed up to the top of the tower just as Buffy ran over... and through him.

"Sorry.. I'm not really here... and you really need to hurry..."

Buffy looked at Xander, tears in her eyes, and nodded... then she ran up the stairs... followed almost immediately by Angel, who had followed them and had only just arrived. Giles, staring in awe, walked toward Xander then heard Glory moan from the ground. He looked at her and noticed she had turned back into Ben. Giles nodded and walked over and crouched down over Ben... then, when no one was looking, snapped his neck... killing him.

"Buffy couldn't do this... but I can."

He looked up at Xander... who was staring at Willow and Tara. Xander walked over to them and stared as she and the blonde hugged.

"You ok?"

Cordelia walked over to join them as Willow looked up at Xander with tears in her eyes, and nodded. Tara smiled and reached out and ran her hand through Xander's body. Willow saw this and began to sniffle.

"Are you... dead?"

Xander shook his head.

"No... astral something. I'm not really here... wherever here is... and by the way, who are you?"

Willow stared in shock at Xander's statement.. then jerked when she heard Cordelia gasp. She looked up to see Angel falling from the top of the tower. Cordelia ran over to Angel just as Dawn screamed. They looked up and saw Buffy jump off the tower into a portal of light. Xander looked up and frowned.

"What is she.... no..."

They watched as Buffy was consumed in lightning... then screamed as she fell to the ground, dead. Xander stared in terror... then felt himself being tugged back. He turned to a crying Willow and frowned.

"I'm sorry I can't comfort you... whoever you are... but just know that I'm ok. I have to go... bye.."

Xander began to fade and Willow jerked toward him.

"No! No.. not now.. I can't lose you too! NO!"

Before her eyes, Xander faded away... and in that moment, Willow collapsed in a sobbing heap... her eyes wandering over to the still form of her best friend...

Part 11

Xander jerked and opened his eyes, pain clearly visible in them.

"She... she's dead... oh Gods, she's dead..."

They stared down at him in shock, but before anyone could say anything to him, Xander got to his feet quickly and ran out of the room, disappearing into the darkness of the lower levels of the Siech...


The first thing she noticed was light... and then warmth... then soft music. Buffy blinked and looked around as her vision cleared and the aftereffects of the pain faded away.

*Where am I?*

She could see a large room with mist crawling over the ground. In the distance, she could see the shadowy forms of people walking around and she could hear the loud hum of many voices talking all at once. Buffy looked down at herself and saw she was in the clothes she was wearing when she... jumped.

"I'm dead..."

Buffy frowned and stared at her hands, still bloodied from untying Dawn.

"Yes... you are."

Buffy jerked and spun around and came face to face with someone she hadn't expected to see.


Jesse nodded and smiled.

"I'm surprised you recognize me... we never got to know each other too well."

He looked her up and down and smiled.

"Damn though.. you turned out even more hot than you already were."

Buffy blushed and smiled.

"Thank you... and I'm sorry... that you died."

Jesse nodded.

"It's cool... it's not bad here... and I've not been alone, hell.. half the population of the High School is up here."

Jesse moved closer to Buffy and pulled her into a hug. Buffy stiffened for a moment then relaxed and hugged him back. When Jesse backed away, blushing, Buffy smiled.

"What was that for?"

Jesse laughed.

"Wanted to hug you... and it was an attempt to feel you up."

He smirked then backed away at the expression on her face.

"Jesse... how many times do I have to tell you this... no teasing the new arrivals."

Jesse winced and nodded as Buffy spun around and saw...

"Ms. Calendar... oh my...I'm sorry..."

Jenny nodded and pulled Buffy to her, hugging her and petting her hair.

"Shh.. it's ok... it wasn't your fault."

Buffy sobbed into Jenny's shirt and clung to her tightly.

"Yes, it is. If I had listened to Angel when he warned me... then we would have made Spike and Dru go away and Spike wouldn't have killed you..."

Jenny closed her eyes and rocked Buffy slowly from side to side.

"You didn't know... sweetie... so stop blaming yourself. It was my time. You must stop this, Buffy..."

Buffy looked up into her eyes and shook her head.

"She iz right, Buffe... you cannot blame yerself for thiz..."

Buffy's eyes widened and she began to tremble.


Buffy turned her head and saw the dark girl walking toward her, a worried expression on her face.


Buffy pulled free of Jenny's embrace and ran over to the former Slayer... slamming into her... hugging her as hard as she could.

"I'm sorry.. I'm so sorry..."

Kendra kissed Buffy's hair and held as she shy cried.

"Iz ok, Buffe... you could not stop et. Do not cry."

Buffy pulled back at looked into the smiling face of the stuffy Slayer and smiled.

"I've missed you..."

Kendra smiled.

"I mizzed you too... but I am not ze only one."

She turned to the side and whispered into Buffy's ear... then pointed out into the mist as shadow after shadow moved apart and came toward them. As they drew closer... Buffy could see.. girls, hundreds upon hundreds of girls.

*Oh my...*

Buffy gasped.


Kendra nodded as the former Slayers drew closer. One of them, a feisty girl with flaming red hair stepped forward and smiled.

"Buffy Summers... We, the Slayers who have come before, warmly welcome you home. We have watched you and we are proud of you. You have lasted longer than... any of us. Welcome... to Heaven."


Xander sat on the outcropping of rock and trembled silently. His thoughts, a blur of what he had seen and his out of control emotions, were troubling him greatly.

*Why does she affect me so? I know dieing is terrible and all... I've learned that myself, ever since those scum killed father... Liet.*

Xander wiped his moist eyes and sighed.

*Good thing no one is here... wouldn't want anyone seeing me give water to the dead.*

Xander leaned back against the warm rock and looked up at the sky.

*I don't know who you people are... but you recognized me. You asked me if I were dead... which means you think you saw me die. What could have happened to place me in the position of being in such danger that it caused my death? Just who are you...*

Xander stared down at his feet and closed his eyes... trying to block away the influx of emotion and memory, for it only brought pain.

"Hmmm... mmmm..... mmmm, mmmm, mmmm...."

A melody, appearing in his head as if by magic, escaped his lips as Xander let his thoughts drift.

"... something on my mind, breaking open doors I sealed up before. Something on my mind, makes me run when I thought I'd run too far..."

Xander listened to the delicate traces of music that brushed his mind and let himself flow... not caring anymore, just wishing the pain would go away.

"How does it feel... when everyone surrounds you. How do you deal... the crowds just make you feel lonely. What do you say...when people are gonna try and pin you down..."

Xander looked up into the approaching night sky and felt... something. He remembered this music...

"Acquaintances smile... but there's no understanding. How after awhile... you keep falling off the same mountain. Try to explain it but nothing really gets them that high..."

Xander's eyes closed and a smile crept across his face as he continued to half whisper, half sing the rest of the song.


Buffy smiled at the Slayers then felt something tugging on the back of her mind. She turned her head and listened and she could swear she heard... music, and someone singing.

"What is that?"

Jenny closed her eyes and listened and smiled.

"Come with me..."

Jenny walked away a ways, Buffy following her, until they came to a large arch made of light. Jenny spoke to the arch in a whisper and its interior shifted until an image of Xander was revealed.


He was dressed in that strange black body armor and was leaning against a dark rock wall... singing.

"Steal away in the morning... love's already history to you. It's a habit you're forming... this body's desperate for something new. Just a matter of feeling... this moment's madness sure to pass. And tears will dry as you're leaving... who knows you might find something to last..."

Buffy gasped, feeling the emotion radiating off of him. She didn't know the song... but for some reason, she knew it's meaning instinctually...

"Emotion's a game... saved up for a rainy Monday. But your laughter's the same... cause it's been pouring on Sunday. Call up your numbers never let the zeros bring you down..."

Buffy moved closer, her fingers touching the image of Xander's face as tears streamed down her cheeks.

*Oh god... Xander... I love you so much.*

Xander opened his eyes and Buffy saw something that made her gaps.

*Blue?! Blue within blue! What the hell!*

In that instant... it was as if he could see her... for his demeanor shifted noticeably.

"How does it feel... as time is too heavy to hold. Whatever you desire... for the moment is holy. Whenever you slow down... to see life is passing by..."

Buffy gasped and held her hands to her chest.

*Dear god... the love... I... I can feel it even here...*

"Steal away in the morning... love's already history to you. It's a habit you're forming... this body's desperate for something new. Just a matter of feeling... this moment's madness sure to pass. And tears will dry as you're leaving... who knows you might find something to last..."

As Xander's singing grew more and more quiet, Buffy sat down and stared at him... wishing she could touch him, let him know that she was ok.

"He loves me... so much time has passed and he still loves me."

Jenny looked down at Buffy and sighed.

"He doesn't remember you... any of you. The spell cast on him gave him amnesia. All he remembers is that picnic you all went on a few weeks after you met. That is his only memory."

Buffy looked up at Jenny in shock and shook her head.

"No... impossible... how can you say that. Didn't you just listen to him? He sang... to himself... to me. He has to remember me. He has to... or else then I must being going insane because I can FEEL him... feel his love for me."

Jenny sat down next to Buffy and wrapped her arms around her.

"Yes... he loves you... even though he doesn't know who you are or why he loves you... but you must understand. You are here... your friends are in Sunnydale... which Xander is very, VERY far away."

Buffy's eyes widened.

"You know where he is!"

Jenny nodded.

"Yes... I do. Buffy... let me tell you a story. Far, far away from here is a collective of worlds ruled by a very nasty family. Their head is called the Padasha Emperor. The one in power right now is named Shaddam the Fourth... but not for long...."

As Jenny explained... everything... Buffy's eyes grew wider and wider until she was trembling in shock.

"... and Xander is on that planet and there is no way for you or your friends to rescue him. It is known, here, that there is a way for him to return... but it is so twisted up in knots of probability that to even outline it would destroy it completely."

Buffy stared at Jenny, her mind numb from listening to everything.

*Other humans... other worlds... giant worms... this is too much.*

"So he's safe?"

Jenny shook her head.

"Safe is a relative term.. but for now, yes... he is."

Buffy looked back at Xander and smiled.

"Is it ok for me to watch him?"

Jenny sighed and nodded slowly.

"Yes... but don't spend all of your time here. Go.. talk to your friends and the other Slayers. Mingle.. meet everyone.. learn things. Don't just sit here all the time."

Buffy nodded and smiled.

"Thank you."

She turned back to watch Xander, a smile on her lips. Jenny stared at Buffy and shook her head, laughing silently.

*She loves the boy so much... it's all just so sad though...*

Jenny climbed to her feet and walked away, leaving Buffy staring at her love...


Xander watched the stars twinkle and let his mind drift. He had been scared, momentarily, earlier when he had remembered that melody... and then the words that had come after. It was all a bit... surprising.

*Seemed like a nice place... nice people... the older man, he had a nice face. I wonder if he is my father. The curvy blonde... she smiled at me and reached out to touch me... a sister maybe? The red-haired one... she's the little girl I saw... maybe she's my sister too. then there is the dark-haired one. She ran to the younger man when he fell. He must be dead... for I doubt he could have survived that fall. I feel sorry for her. She looked like she loved him.*

Xander climbed to his feet, remembering the one who had looked the most startled.

*... and the blonde, Buffy. What a strange name. She looked so... sad... seeing me... but at the same time there was this look in her eyes.*

He closed his eyes and brought her face to mind. Her eyes... wide and imploring. Her body... reaching out to his with an almost tangible need.

*It was almost like... love? Could she have been my girlfriend... or maybe more... maybe we were joined, married. Could she be my wife? That might explain why none of the women here appeal to me enough to even attempt courting here.*

He moved to the opening that led back inside and paused.

"Could I have...?"

Xander felt a small flame flicker to life in his heart and he smiled.

"... maybe I did... and maybe I still am."

With a smile, Xander shook his head and walked back inside...

Part 12

"They're smugglers!"

Paul winced.

"Damn.. I was sure it was Harkonnen."

Xander fired at a soldier aiming at them and then dropped into a crouch next to Paul.

"We have to move..."

Paul nodded and ran forward, Xander on his heels. Paul saw a shadow in the smoke filling the air and brought up his weapon... then paused. The man pointed his gun directly into Paul's face as Paul smiled.

"You don't need that weapon, Gurney. Don't you recognize me?"

The man frowned, staring as if trying to place Paul's face.

"They said... they said you were dead."

Paul brought his hand up, revealing the ducal signet ring. Gurney began to smile and pulled Paul into a hug.

"You young pup! You young pup!"

Tears flowed down Gurney's face as he pulled the boy who was almost his son tighter into his embrace... then sighed and let go, smiling. Paul nodded, smiling as well, and turned to Xander.

"Gurney.. this is Xander, my second and my brother."

Xander nodded as Gurney's eyes widened. Xander stared at the man and caught glimpses of his past.

"I'm sorry for your loss, sir, but I'm sure you will have a chance to get your revenge."

Gurney's eyes widened yet again and he took a step back.

*That is not possible... what the hell is he?*

"Paul... who... what is your friend."

Paul shook his head. He was surprised himself. He knew, after the blood incident and then again later, that Xander had advanced beyond what Jessica had planned. They had run many tests and it was discovered that Xander was as close to being a male Bene Gesserit as was humanly possible.

"Xander... Xander is a Bene Gesserit."

Xander smiled at Gurney and raised an eyebrow as he saw the reaction the old man had.

"Bene Gesserit... but he's male... what the hell has your mother done now?!"

Xander laughed.

"She has done nothing more than teach me and advise me on my path. I am who I am... even if my past is a mystery to me. All I am is based on what I have been taught here. Fate or destiny has bent and shaped me to its will."

Xander paused.

"I am a soldier... one of the elite... I do as I am told. I serve my Duke."

Gurney smiled and nodded at Xander.

"Fine answer, boy, fine answer indeed."

He turned to Paul and grinned.

"I like him."

Paul laughed and nodded.

"Gather your men, Gurney. We're going home."

Paul signaled a cease-fire as Gurney did the same. They then gathered together and headed back to the Siech...


The wind blew cold across the cemetery and made the trees dance. The moon was full and bright and illuminated a small group of people gathered around a tombstone, which read.

"Buffy Anne Summers... "

As one, their eyes traveled over the writing until they came to the final inscription...

"She saved the world, a lot."

The grave was empty and a coffin lay next to it... the group around the coffin. Willow placed the urn on the coffin and then turned to look at the people around her. Tara, her love, smiled and nodded, offering encouragement. Cordelia grinned and nodded as she held hands with her fiancée, Angel. Angel, however, had a worried look in his eyes.

"What? We dug her up, like you suggested. What else is wrong, Angel?"

Angel frowned.

"What if she is in Heaven?"

Willow sucked in a breath through her teeth... then shook off the fear that had been approaching.

"We need her here. Things have gone to hell here and you're not strong enough to help anymore... now that you're human."

Angel frowned... then nodded. He had become human again a few weeks back when some prophecy had come into being. He was happy about being human, being able to be with Cordelia, his love, but he lost so much in the process.

"I know... I know... I just don't like it."

Cordelia smiled and squeezed Angel's hand.

"Hey... we'll bring her back then you can talk to her. If she was in Heaven... then you can make her feel better by talking her through it. You've been there... you know all about it."

Angel smiled at his fiancée and nodded... then turned to look at Willow.

"Go ahead."

Willow nodded and began the spell...


They had separated when they had arrived back at the Siech. Xander went for his daily lessons with Jessica while Paul helped Gurney and his men get settled. Paul explained the rules of the Siech and assigned places for Gurney and his men to live. Gurney nodded and looked about in awe of all Paul had accomplished.

"Your father was betrayed... but I do not know by whom."

Paul looked down.


Gurney jerked his head toward Paul.


Paul looked up into Gurney's eyes.

"It was Yeuh. He was the traitor. He set us all up to get his revenge on the Baron for killing his wife. He drugged us, took father away and left mother and I stilsuits so that we could survive the desert. He left us the plans for the Weirding Modules as well. He was later killed... but by whom, I do not know."

Gurney nodded and blew air out of his lungs angrily.

"He will get his punishment in the beyond. I am just relieved that you and your mother are safe."

Paul smiled and led Gurney down to the training yard. As they approached, they noticed Xander inside training. He was striding across the yard, his movements looking like a combination of many forms of martial arts.

"He's fluid..."

Paul nodded, knowing this was just the beginning of Xander's daily exercises.

"Watch... it gets better."

Xander began a series of flips and cartwheels then that made him appear to be almost floating. A cartwheel into a crescent kick into a reverse roundhouse into a backflip with a spinkick. His movements growing more and more complex. A one point, a young Fremen approached and threw Xander a quarterstaff. Xander reached out and caught it while in the middle of a backward cartwheel and began spinning it around his body.


Gurney watched in awe as Xander twirled the quarterstaff in time with his movements and then did something that almost made his heart stop. Xander tumbled forward and then rolled to his feet... then he planted the quarterstaff and launched himself up and over it, going into a handstand on top of the now vertical quarterstaff... and held himself there. He then removed one hand and placed it at a 90-degree angle to his body as he lowered himself toward his remaining hand. What happened next made a definite impression on the former Weapons Master. Xander pushed down on the quarterstaff and launched himself up and into a flip, coming down to land with one foot on the still vertical quarterstaff.... landing without a wobble.

"Impossible... how.. who has trained him?"

Paul laughed.

"In a sense... you have, Gurney. I taught him everything you taught me and then mother went from there."

Gurney smiled and nodded. He ran the movements through his mind and noticed his own teachings there.

"He is very skilled. Your father would have been very thrilled to have had him on his guard."

Paul nodded.

"As I am, Gurney, as I am as well. Xander is the best man I have with me on my personal guard. I trust him with my life."

As the men watched Xander balance, a soft voice drifted across the yard.

"Enough playing, Xander. Drone practice."

Xander smiled.

"Yes Mother."

He then flipped down and twirled the quarterstaff back into his hands then tossed it to the Fremen who had handed it to him earlier... before moving over to the drone to practice. As he moved away, Gurney bent over to whisper in Paul's ear.


Paul nodded.

"Mother adopted him... some time back. She adores him and he learns faster with her love than with someone yelling orders to him. She has told me he has learned faster than any girl at the Sisterhood. She says that it is a rare thing to find one so adapting and intelligent."

Paul paused and smiled as he watched Xander beat the hell out of the practice drone.

"She and Alia both love him as if he were blood. I have to admit that I am fond of him myself."

As they watched, Xander thrashed the drone and then kicked it across the yard, laughing as it shut itself off in defeat.

"Good, Xander... Bindu."

Xander nodded and began a series of movements that was startlingly beautiful to watch. His movements were so fluid they looked almost magical. Gurney followed Paul as they walked over to Jessica and took a seat.

"You taught him Bindu? I thought that was forbidden."

Jessica smiled at Gurney. She had been told he had been found and she laughed at his greeting her with a question instead of a pleasantry.

"Hello to you too, Gurney, and yes... I have taught him Bindu. I don't care what the Sisterhood thinks. I want Xander to know everything he needs to know to survive. Besides, I taught it to Paul when he was 8."

Gurney's eyes widened and he glared at Paul... who just nodded and smirked back.

"Well... I see... anything to make a better warrior..."

He then turned and watched Xander continue with his training...


The wind howled and inhuman screams filled the air as Willow chanted the end of the spell. She was surrounded by snakes that had come out of her body and was covered in a multitude of gashes that had appeared out of thin air.

"... arise!"

Light surrounded them and the coffin and slowly sank down onto and into the coffin. A white mist began to leak out of the cracks in the coffin and then a soft gasp was heard. The lid opened and a very different looking Buffy sat up, her eyes wide with fright.

"Wha... where... where am I?"

Buffy turned her head and saw Willow and the others gathered around her. She blinked, not sure she believed what she was seeing. All she knew was once minute she was dead then the next she was here.

"What happened?"

Willow smiled and began to cry as she explained the last months. Buffy listened, her body trembling as Angel helped her out of the coffin.

"So I died and you brought me back... why?"

Angel frowned.

"Because of me... I'm human now. They don't believe I'm strong enough to handle things alone anymore."

Buffy stared at him in shock then placed her hand on his chest. She could feel his heartbeat and stared up at him in awe. She was about to comment when she noticed the possessive look on Cordelia's face... and the ring on her finger.


Angel smiled.

"Thank you."

Buffy nodded and looked down at herself and frowned.

"You buried me in this?!"

Willow sniffled and smiled.

"It was your mom's idea..."

Buffy smiled then her smile faded.

"Mom... oh god... and Dawn... is she... are they ok?!"

Willow nodded.

"They're fine. Giles came to see them every day. I think they've been good for each other. I've seen them... smiling... at each other."

Buffy winced.

"Giles and my mom... bad mental there..."

Buffy laughs along with the others as they laugh at her reaction then stops suddenly. For some reason an image of Xander had just crossed her mind.

"He wasn't there..."

Buffy's voice was so soft hardly anyone heard her.

"Who wasn't there?"

Buffy looked up at Tara and swallowed.

"Xander... he wasn't there."

Tara smiled. She remembered the night Buffy died and how Xander had been there. She smiled remembering how he shone and glowed as he walked amongst them.

"He's not dead, Buffy, remember? He was there... when you died. He told us he wasn't dead."

Buffy stared at Tara as it all sank in and nodded slowly.

"I ran through him. He told me... he told me to go help Dawn."

Willow moved next to Buffy and nodded.

"He told us he was astrally projecting to us. Somehow he's learned how to do that. He also doesn't remember any of us. He asked who we are... as if he has amnesia or something. He watched Angel fall... then saw you jump and then he faded away."

Willow looked down at the ground, a sad expression on her face.

"I think he knew it was going to happen... and he came, to help us. Even not knowing who we are or anything... he still came to help us."

Buffy nodded, remembering that night in vivid color.

"He's so beautiful now..."

Cordelia moved closer to them as well.

"His long hair and tanned skin..."

Tara smiled.

"He glowed..."

Willow nodded.

"His eyes though... they were blue... nothing but blue..."

Angel moved forward and placed his arms around Cordelia.

"He looked bigger... like he has been working out..."

Buffy smiled.

"He's alive... and ok... and he'll come back someday."

They nodded as Buffy smiled.

"Ok.. enough with the bonding over Xander. I want to go home and shower for three days. I stink and I thin I have bugs crawling in my hair."

Laughter washed through the group as they turned and headed back to Buffy's house, whole once again... except for an almost obvious hole where their Xander should be...

Part 13

Deep underground... a council of war is taking place...


"The Emperor thinks he can control us, bend us to his will. He thinks he can come here and seize all of the spice and then kill us off one by one. Well... he is wrong. Together, we are a force more powerful than anything seen before. We will face the Emperor and show him that you do not underestimate the Fremen. We will attack and kill anything that gets in our way. We will win this war... and the universe will tremble."

Paul stared down at the massive crowd of Fremen and shot his fist up into the air.

"Long live the fighters!"

A roar exploded from the crowd as they turned en masse and moved out onto the sand. They gathered together and summoned worms... then traveled toward Arrakeen... and the Emperor...


Buffy stared in the mirror and touched her reflection. She knew that she was seeing herself... but there was something missing; only she didn't know what.

*I look tired... and my hair needs to be lightened again... and trimmed.*

Buffy sighed and moved away from the mirror, heading off to bed. She crawled into bed and curled up with Mr. Gordo... wishing it was someone else instead.

*I miss you Xander... so much.*

Buffy closed her eyes and fell asleep and as she slept, she dreamed...


Buffy smiled as his arms slid around her waist, pulling her back and against his body. The feel of his hard muscles, bare against the bare skin of her back, was driving her crazy. She could smell him, a combination of sweat and musk and sand... and it made her weak in the knees.


She groaned as his hands slid up her stomach, sliding across her bare skin gently and slowly... moving ever upward to her chest, yet never reaching it. His touch created a warm heat that grew outward from deep inside of her, making her feel safe and loved. Buffy smiled wider and tilted her head to the side, revealing her neck as his lips brushed against her skin, his breath warm and tickling... making her tremble.

"Oh yes... nice..."

Buffy pressed her body back against his and sighed. She loved the way this felt, his body against hers, his smell filling her lungs, his breath tickling her neck. Buffy closed her eyes and ached for him to kiss her, to touch her in places that begged to be touched.

"Please... Xander..."

As he moved even closer and began to place delicate kisses along her neck, working up toward her earlobe, his hands slid slowly upward... inching their way closer and closer to her breasts.


Just as his mouth moved closer, his breath on her skin.

"Xander... please..."

His tongue lightly brushed her neck, moving higher... higher... and as he lightly touched her ear... a loud squeal shattered her reality. Everything shattered. Instantly Xander was gone and in his place was a voice yelling at her.

"Wake up!"


"Wake up!"

Buffy groaned and slowly opened her eyes to see Dawn smiling at her as she bounced up and down.

"Mom said to wake you up now or else no breakfast for you."

Buffy glared at her sister and rolled over, trying to go back to sleep to recapture her dream.

"Come on Buffy... she made blueberry pancakes and she won't let me eat yours!"

Buffy groaned again and screamed into her pillow. She wanted to go back to her dream, back to Xander. She longed for his touch, the feelings he produced within her that made the day that much brighter and living that much easier... and now her sister was tormenting her almost to the point of madness.

"Come on Buffy... you can go back to sleep later. I'm sure Xander will still be there waiting for you to ravish you when you return."

Buffy blushed and lifted her head from the pillow.

"Ok, ok... fine... I'm up."

Dawn nodded and skipped out of the room as Buffy sat up and winced. She felt her clothes and knew it had happened again.

*Damn... going to have to change my clothes... again.*

This was the third time this week that she had dreamt of Xander and been excited to the point of needing fresh clothing. It was driving her up the wall. She was so... frustrated... that it was even starting to scare Willow and Tara, who thought the dreams were cute.

*Why is this happening to me? Why can't I even stay asleep long enough to get to the good part? I want the good part... I deserve the good part. God... why is this happening? I dream and get all excited and then... nothing. You can't do this to a person without causing serious damage and I'm getting really, really tense over this!*

Buffy got to her feet and rolled her eyes then walked over to put on fresh clothing before going down for breakfast. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she paused and blinked in shock.

"Ah.. good morning Buffy. I'm glad to see you finally woke up."

Giles... at her breakfast table... in jeans and a t-shirt.

"Did you and Mom hide some of the evil chocolate?"

Joyce smiled and laughed. It made her smile when she saw Buffy so freaked by everything. She and Rupert had been... dating, almost... ever since a week or two after Buffy's death.

"No, sweetie, no evil candy... just something we realized we both felt."

Joyce smiled at Giles adoringly and then blushed at the leer he shot back at her. Buffy caught this look and frowned.

*Damn it! Even mom's getting more action than me.*

Buffy's eyes widened and she shivered.

*Oh god.. bad mental.. BAD MENTAL!!!*

Buffy shook herself and sat down across from Giles.

"Please... no foreplay during breakfast."

Giles smirked as Joyce blushed bright red.

"Buffy... honestly!"

Dawn laughed through a mouthful of pancake and then quickly swallowed.

"I think it's cute. Keep it up and I'll finally get a baby bro or sis to torment."

Joyce blushed ever redder, if that was humanly possible, and sat down next to Giles. Giles leaned over and kissed her then grinned.

"We'll see, Dawn... we'll see."

At this, Buffy choked on her juice and shot it all over the table... then glared at Giles as she got her breath back.

*This is so not a good morning...*


Xander crouched high above the rock outcropping where Paul, Gurney, and Stilgar waited. He adjusted the thick white suit he was wearing and moved higher up the rock wall. He had to get into position in order to force his way inside... through the roof of the Emperor's palace... once Paul had set his plan into action.

*Alia has been captured by now and Paul should be almost ready for the atomics...*

Xander reached the high point he needed and sat down to wait for the signal... before moving on across the rock wall...


Alia walked into the main throne room and smiled at the Emperor.

"Why is this child here?"

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam glared at Alia and hissed at her.

"Remove this... Abomination."

Alia laughed.

"Just wait, Emperor, for my brother comes with many Fremen warriors..."

The Baron laughed and moved closer as Alia glared at Mohiam.

"Soon, Emperor... soon you shall see..."

Then, with a glance to the side and a glance directly upward she smiled and nodded....


Paul gazed out into the night and smiled.

"Alia keeps pace with the storm..."

He paused and looked up and to the left.

"... and Xander is in position."

Gurney shared a look with Stilgar and they both shivered as Paul grinned wider.

"Do we have wormsign?"

Stilgar laughed.

"Usal, we have wormsign the likes of which God has never seen."

Paul laughed and turned to Gurney.

"Stand by on the atomics..."

Gurney nodded and motioned to his men. Paul reached out and touched the minds of Alia and Xander...

#Atomics in 10...9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3...#

"Gurney... now!"

Gurney turned his head as they flipped down their hoods and screamed out into the night.


An explosion rocked the rock wall surrounding the Emperor's palace. It crumpled outward and in the wake of the explosion... worms came flooding through...

#Now Xander!#


#Now Xander!#

Xander ran across the rock wall as soon as the blast was complete then launched himself into the open air, diving toward the top of the Emperor's palace...

#Now Alia!!#


#Now Alia!!#

Alia smiled at the Emperor and then began pushing her way into Mohiam's mind.

"Arrgg... get out of my mind!"

Alia glared at the old woman and snarled and used the voice.


Mohiam grimaced then trembled.

"She is Alia, daughter of Lady Jessica and Duke Leto Atreides, sister to Paul Mua'dib."

The Emperor jerked in surprise and jumped to his feet.

"Paul's sister!"

Alia turned to the Baron and smiled.

*Come to me Baron...*

The Baron floated toward her, drool dribbling out of the corner of his pudgy mouth, and once he was close enough, Alia slashed out and stung him with a Gom Jabar... poisoning him instantly.


Alia laughed as the side of the palace was blown away... then ran toward the opening and jumped out into open air...

#Catch me Xander!!!#


Xander fell through the air, slowing himself in time to land soundlessly on the roof as the fighting began. He moved to the side of the building and jumped down, moving from tier to tier until he was only a few floors above the throne room.

*Come on...*

Xander moved lower and then turned away just as a blast opened the side of the building... a blast he knew was coming.

#Catch me Xander!!!#

He jumped down and reached down, catching a small red-haired girl as she leapt out into the darkness. Xander pulled him to her and then jumped down to the sand below, her body trembling against his.

"You ok sweetie?"

Alia looked up at Xander, love and adoration in her eyes, and nodded.

"I got the Baron... and they know about Paul now."

Xander smiled and kissed her cheek.

"Good, angel, very good. Now... do you remember the plan?"

Alia nodded. Xander grinned and lowered her to the ground.

"Ok then... head back to the others and I'll see you when this is done. I love you, Alia."

Alia smiled, a tear in her eye, and nodded.

"I love you too, Xander."

She then turned and ran off, disappearing into the darkness. Xander watched her go and then turned and stormed back toward the palace... shooting at anything that got in his way...


Hours later it was over.

The battle took many lives, but in the end... Paul and the Fremen were victorious.

As he followed his men into the palace, Paul looked over at Xander and smiled.

"You did well. I've heard storied of how you flew; the men think you are something akin to an angel now."

Xander blushed and grinned.

"Nothing you couldn't do... what with who you are and all..."

Paul smiled and shook his head as they entered the throne room. He glanced over at the Emperor and glared at him.

"You have lost, Emperor. It is all over. You will stand down now... or die."

Feyd Rautha, nephew to the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, stepped forward... smirking... and moved to the Emperor's side.

"An Atreides scum... how dare you speak to the Emperor so?"

Gurney growled and stepped forward.

"Sire, let me kill him... please."

Paul shook his head.

"No Gurney... I will deal with him myself."

The Emperor turned to Feyd and pulled out his knife.

"If Feyd so wishes it, he can use my blade."

Feyd took the knife and smiled.

"I so wish it."

He then launched himself at Paul, who was ready for him. The fight began and Xander began to grow tense. His eyes widened as he recognized movements and attacks. It was all happening just as in his dream. He turned to look at Paul and decided to warn him.

#Paul... remember the dream...#

Paul nodded and dodged a slice from Feyd, then locked arms with him and looked down to see the blade pop out of the man's armor.

"Look, Atreides, look at your death."

Paul stared at the blade and closed his eyes.

*I will bend like the reed...*

He then twisted his body and rolled down and away, bending away from the blade, and shoved his blade up and through Feyd's neck... killing him instantly. Paul then got to his feet and stepped away. He stared down at Feyd's body and screamed... with the sound of his voice ripping the corpse in two.

A gasp filled the room and Xander heard a Fremen behind him whisper in awe.

"Usal no longer needs the Weirding Module."

It was then a cry came out and Mohiam stepped forward.

"Kill him... kill him now!"

Paul looked up and glared at Mohiam.

"Quiet... old woman."

Mohiam hissed at him and shrieked.

"Foolish child! Do not speak..."

Paul glared at her and blasted her with the voice.


Mohiam screamed in agony and took three steps back, rocked by the power of his voice.

"Do not threaten me, old woman!"

Paul paused, anger clearly on his face.

"You know that place you cannot look into... that place you fear? Well, look into it now and you will see me staring back at you!!"

Mohiam groaned in agony and closed her eyes. As she did so, Alia smiled and giggled.

"How can this be... for his IS the Kwisatz Hadderach."

At the sound of that name, many people in the room dropped to their knees. The Emperor paled and backed away, preparing to run, only to be stopped by a mass of Fremen blocking his path. Within minutes, the Imperial robes were stripped from Shaddam and brought to Paul... then placed on his shoulders.

"Long live the Emperor... long live Paul Mua'dib!"

As cheering exploded from outside, Xander stepped away from the celebration to walk out onto a balcony. He leaned against the cool metal and stared out into the darkness, his mind ablaze with everything that had happened.

*They are all so happy... but yet it doesn't touch me... for I see now that my place isn't here. I belong out there... with her.*

Xander closed his eyes and brought to mind her face... a face that brought with it feelings of love so strong he felt shocked by their intensity... the face of a woman dead and gone from this reality.

*Buffy... wherever you are, I hope that you are happy, and at peace... and please just know that I love you...*


Buffy stared out at the night sky as she prepared for bed. She had been back for some time now, weeks... months maybe... and was finally starting to feel at home again. There was only one thing missing.


She wiped a tear from her eye and then moved over to her bed. As she crawled under the covers, she felt something pass through her... a sense of longing that came from very far away. Deep inside her, somehow, she recognized it and it touched her so much that it almost made her cry again. With a smile, Buffy turned her face to the window and kissed the air.

"I love you too, Xander..."

And far away... as Xander stared up at the stars... he could swear he felt something brush his lips. It only lasted for a second... but he knew what it was, and with a smile... he turned and walked back inside... feeling as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, knowing that for once... all was right with the world...

Part 14

Xander stared down at the approaching surface with awe and smiled. He turned to look at Paul and grinned. They had just folded space to Kaitain and were about to land the Imperial Palace.

"Nice place, very... clean... looking."

Paul laughed as they touched down and shook his head.

"Oh Xander... I am so glad you came with me. I dread facing CHOAM, what with the fact that they want me dead."

Xander nodded. He had heard that story as well. A Guild Navigator had come to the previous Emperor and had declared that they wanted Paul killed... back when he was just a boy.

"I still think this is a bad idea. You don't know what they might do."

Paul nodded.

"That's why you and Gurney are here with me. Gurney because he knows more about weapons and battle strategy than anyone I know... and you because you seem to be in tune with the threads of time. You have successfully predicted three attacks, four births, and a death. You have the Sight, Xander. Whether this is something you had before, or a gift from the Spice, it is a blessing to me. You seem to be able to see into places that are mere shadow to me. With you by my side... I have nothing to fear."

Xander blushed. It was a great honor, these words, and it touched him.

"Thank you... this means so much to me."

Paul smiled and they walked into the courtyard to meet with the Guild Navigator who had been waiting...


*Come further.... just a bit more...*

He pulled out a hunter-seeker and aimed at the two young men walking into the courtyard. His aim drifted from the older one to the younger one.. then back... and back again. They were both deadly... and he had been ordered to kill them both if he could.

*Just a bit farther...*

He brought his first target into his sights and prepared to fire...


Xander looked around, the hair on the back of his neck standing up. Something was definitely off here. He looked around and felt a presence that shouldn't be there. It gave off something that made his whole body shiver... a familiar presence.

"... Demon."

Paul jerked his head at Xander and watched in awe as Xander pulled free his crysknife and threw it into the darkness of the balconies above them. A cry went out and a body fell to the floor. He watched as Xander ran over to the body, then followed him and blinked in awe at what he saw.

"Demon... "

Xander looked up at Paul.

"This is a Demon... right?"

Paul stared down at the body, Xander's crysknife imbedded between the... man's... eyes, and watched as the body shifted and melted, changing shape.

"No... not a Demon, Xander. This is an assassin, a Tleilaxu Face Dancer."

Xander frowned, not recognizing the name.

"So not a Demon."

He yanked his crysknife free and cleaned it on the assassin's clothes before returning it to his sheath.

"Felt like a Demon... felt evil."

He saw a glint of metal in the creature's hand and kicked it free.

"Hunter-Seeker... aimed at either you or me."

Paul nodded, remembering the one fired at him.

"You saved our lives, Xander... yet again."

Paul looked around as guards flooded the room and nodded to the body.

"Face Dancer... remove it and find out who sent it. Double the guards... they usually travel in pairs."

The men nodded and ran off. Xander stood and kicked the body.

"Nasty thing... made the hair on the back of my neck jump up."

Paul nodded and smiled.

"Good.. then you can find it's partner before it attacks. Keep aware... see if you can find it... now come, we have to meet the Guild now. I want to see their reaction when you show up. I'm sure the rumors about you have spread by now..."

Xander grinned, remembering...


One week earlier...

Xander walked down the narrow trail, feeling countless eyes on him as he followed Jessica into the heart of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood.

*Stay calm.. they can't do anything to you... Jessica promised you that.*

Xander blinked in awe as the large building appeared in the distance and swallowed.

"It's beautiful..."

Jessica looked over her shoulder and smiled.

"Yes... it is."

She stared at Xander for a moment then continued on, noticing his tense body language. The young sisters had come out to see him... to see the first male Bene Gesserit... and they were very open in their admiration of his, body. This was clearly unnerving Xander extremely.

"Don't worry, Xander, I won't let these girls hurt you."

Xander blushed as the girls giggled at Jessica's comment then smirked.

"You can say that.. but they're not looking at you like you're a piece of spice candy."

Jessica laughed along with some of the girls at Xander's comment then led him up the steps into the Academy.

"Follow me, Xander... your journey is about to begin...."

Xander nodded and sighed softly... worried about what was to come.


Xander stepped before the Council of the Sisterhood and looked up at them, sweat dripping off his body. He had just spent the last four hours being tested to the point of almost being ripped into pieces... just to let them prove to themselves something he already knew... that he was one of them.

*... tired...*

He had undergone test after test, ranging from skill tests to speed tests to pain tests. He was forced to contort his body in ways that would make normal men scream...and then do it again and again until he thought he would collapse and never get back up... then suddenly, it was all stopped and Jessica came to bring him to the Council.

"Xander, son of Liet, you come before us to prove yourself worthy to continue existence as a Human. You have undergone the tests of the Sisterhood and have passed. You have shown us that you possess the skills and the knowledge and the power. What is left is to know if you can control what you are."

Xander looked up at the woman and swallowed. She was radiating power and glaring at him. She obviously was not pleased that he even existed.

"Jessica... has he been tested with the box?"

Jessica nodded.

"Yes... he has."

The woman nodded and looked back at Xander.

"... and his level?"

Jessica glanced over at Xander. She remembered him during the test... how he lasted so long... and remembered her own son's testing and Mohiam's comments after the test. She could remember those words so clearly... 'He achieved a level far greater than the most skilled of girls. On the scale.. he was a 15...' Jessica smiled at Xander and then turned back to the woman.

"Xander... scored a 13."

Eyes widened on the Council and a low gasp filled the room.

"13... are you certain?"

Jessica nodded.

"Yes... 13, two degrees below that of my son, the Kwisatz Hadderach."

Xander blinked in shock and stared at Jessica. He had had no idea that he was that similar to Paul. The very idea scared him to the point of almost wetting himself. He looked back up at the woman and watched her calm herself.

"I see... then all is complete. Xander... the Sisterhood welcomes you, reluctantly, as a full Bene Gesserit. You will be recorded in the chronicles and will be placed in the registry."

She took out a large box and opened it to reveal a sleeveless black shirt and matching hooded cloak.

"The Sisterhood clothes themselves in the robes of our order... but we feel a robe would look out of place on you. We came to this decision and chose something... suitable... for you."

Xander took the offered clothing and nodded, then pulled the shirt over his head. He smoothed out the material and noticed an insignia stitched into the fabric over the right breast in a charcoal color. He then pulled on the cloak and fastened it around his neck.

"Thank you."

He bowed before the Council and turned to Jessica.

"Is that all?"

Jessica shook her head.

"No.. one more thing. Come with me."

She turned and led Xander into an anti-chamber where a large machine was waiting. Jessica moved up along side it and pointed out two glass plates.

"Place your hands on the plates and your chin in the niche."

Xander did as she asked and was startled when a low green light appeared and covered his hands and his face... then stopped. Jessica nodded and motioned for Xander to join her at the side of the machine.

"You have been recorded, Xander. Now, anywhere in the universe, you can access information and funds through machines similar to this one... only smaller. It is your identification."

Xander nodded, understanding, then stared down at his hands for a moment before bringing his eyes back up to Jessica's.

"Is there more?"

Jessica shook her head then smiled.

"No.. you are done. Welcome to the Sisterhood... Xander."

She pulled him into a hug and kissed his cheek... then turned and led him back to their shuttle...


Back on Kaitain...

Paul entered the main throne room with Xander on his heels and nodded to a guard to let the Guild Navigator and his men into the room. Paul took his place as Xander looked around, his senses wide open... searching for the second assassin.

"Don't sense anything yet..."

Paul nodded and then turned his attention to the main doors as the Navigator entered in it's large spice-gas filled tank. It floated toward them and one of the men stepped forward.

"Greetings, Emperor."

Paul nodded.

"Greetings, Navigator and crew."

The man looked at Xander and frowned.

"The Bene Gesserit must leave."

Paul shook his head.

"No... Xander stays... or you leave."

The man growled to a second man and then nodded.

"Fine.. he stays. Now.. to get down to business..."

Xander stopped paying attention as Paul spoke to them... for his mind was elsewhere. He could sense... something... in the room. He failed to notice Paul as he moved closer to the Navigator's tank, that is until he felt the signature of another Face Dancer. Xander looked around and saw the assassin only seconds before it fired.


Xander ran toward Paul, his speed staggeringly fast, and knocked him out of the path of the hunter-seeker... sending it against and through the glass of the Navigator's tank, shattering it. Spice gas exploded out of the tank and engulfed Xander completely. Xander breathed in and felt his body explode with pain.


Paul watched in terror as Xander's body began to glow and orange lightning began to cascade across his skin. Xander screamed in agony and his eyes locked on Paul's for a second before the glow grew too bright to look into. Then, with a scream like that of one dieing... Xander vanished.

"NO! XANDER!!!!"

Paul ran to where his friend had been and felt the residual power flowing there. He launched his mind into the power and watched as he witnessed Xander traveling across space... to a small blue-green world far, far away...

Part 15

Footsteps echoed along the darkened path as she moved away from the club, following the sidewalk as it trailed next to one of the town's many cemeteries. The sound of another's footsteps seemed to follow her and she stopped, looking around for its source. Within seconds a dark figure emerged from the shadows. The woman stared in shock... which quickly turned into terror as glowing gold eyes gazed back at her. Without thinking, she turned and ran... into the cemetery.

"I always love it when they run..."

The vampire laughed and ran after her... knowing his family was already inside.


"... and so you see, we need to do something special. Buffy will be all broody tomorrow and you know that if we do this, it might make her smile."

Tara turned to her lover and smiled. She loved it when Willow babbled.

"Yes... we should plan something. After all... it is Xander's birthday."

Willow nodded and smiled, remembering the last time they had seen him. He had looked so amazing, all buff and hairy and drop dead gorgeous. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she pictured his rock hard body... then she blushed at the raised eyebrow from her girlfriend.

"Picturing Xander naked again?"

Willow blushed redder and shook her head.

"No.. he's in that black body armor... and why, doesn't it bother you?"

Tara smiled.

"Well... to be honest... I think about him too, sometimes."

She bit her lower lip, grinning.

"He's very beautiful... and he glowed. He's so full of love... I just know that he will love me as much as you do."

Willow nodded enthusiastically and grinned.

"Yes.. I just know he will adore you... if he ever comes home."

Just then, they heard a scream in the distance. They shared a glance then ran toward the scream...


The vampires surrounded the woman, drawing ever closer until she was trapped with her back against a crypt. She screamed again and they laughed, preparing to attack... when something happened. The air grew electrified and a soft orange glow appeared between them and their meal. As they watched, the glow grew brighter and brighter until it was too bright to look at. Then... out of the light... a figure appeared.

"... Demons..."

The vampires looked at each other for a second before a whirlwind attacked them...


Orange light filled Xander's vision and with it came pain. The pain grew and grew until he thought he might go insane from it... only to then have it stop. The light that brought the pain receded until he found himself in another place... with nearly half a dozen creatures before him.

"... Demons..."

Then, with a growl, Xander drew his crysknife and launched himself at the Demons. He ran toward the first one and slammed his blade into it's chest. It looked down and gaped in terror as the wound began to smoke then catch fire. Xander noted this then moved on, choosing to decapitate the next three while the first one exploded into flames.

*Exploded into flames... what the?*

Xander turned to confront the last two... but found them gone, running away from him in terror. Xander watched them leave and then heard a sound behind him. He reached out with his mind and felt power... extreme power. He turned and spun the blade up and around, going for a killing blow. His crysknife plummeted downward and then stopped barely an inch from the neck of the person behind him, stopping when he saw who it was...



Willow and Tara entered the cemetery seconds after the scream and saw something that shocked them. Between the woman, who must have been the one who screamed, and about 6 vampires, was a lone dark-cloaked figure fighting the vamps. Tara stared in awe at the power surging through his aura and gasped.

"His power... it's intense."

Willow nodded, feeling it as well, and then watched as the first vampire burst into flame while three others exploded into dust after being decapitated.

"Goddess... he moves as fast as Buffy."

Tara nodded as they walked slowly toward him and the woman. As they drew closer... he stopped and spun around. His weapon came up then downward in an attack, coming inches from hitting Willow... only then, as quickly as he started; he stopped and stared on in shock.


Willow gasped and grabbed onto Tara for support. Tara squinted at the figure and then felt her eyes go wide with shock.

"Oh... my.... "

The figure stepped into the light and they both swallowed in stunned amazement.

"... Xander."


Xander stared at the two women before him and began to tremble slightly.

*This is impossible... I'm here?*

Xander lowered his crysknife and re-sheathed it, then took a step back from them.

"Is that my name?"

Willow looked at Tara in shock then back at Xander.

"Xander? What's wrong?"

Xander shook his head.

"Is that my name?"

Tara, catching that there was something off here, nodded.

"Yes.. it is your name. AleXander LaVelle Harris... but you prefer to be called Xander."

Xander nodded and took a breath.

"You two know me then?"

Willow, finally catching on, nodded.

"Yes, Xander, we're your friends. You and I have been best friends since we were both about 5. Are you ok? You're acting very strange and it's scaring me."

Xander nodded and looked down at the ground.

"I have no memory of myself. All I know is my name, Xander; an image of you, a blonde, and a dark-haired girl; then a more recent memory with you and a few others. Everything else is blank."

Willow gasped and tears formed in her eyes.

"Oh Xander..."

She ran toward him and threw herself into his surprised arms, wrapping her own around him... holding him tightly. Xander stiffened in shock then slowly relaxed.

*This feels... familiar.*

Xander wrapped his arms around her small body and sniffed her hair.

"You smell nice."

Willow looked up into Xander's blue eyes and smiled at him.

"Thank you... and my god, what happened to your eyes?"

Xander frowned and shrugged.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

He looked at them and swallowed nervously.

*Can't let them know too much... yet.*

He looked at the blonde girl and smiled.

"What are your names?"

Tara smiled and laughed.

"I'm Tara and the bundle of red trying to squeeze the life out of you is your best friend, and my girlfriend, Willow."

Xander nodded to Tara then looked down at Willow.

"Willow... that's pretty."

Willow blushed and buried her face into Xander's rock hard chest as Xander turned to Tara.

"Are we related? I tried to put relationships to faces I saw in my... well, and for some reason I though of you as my sister."

Tara blushed, feeling something so wondrous fill her.

"No.. we're not... I'm not your sister, but thank you."

Xander nodded and opened an arm to her and smiled as she slowly moved in to join Willow in hugging Xander.

"This feels right..."

Xander smiled down at the two women and then remembered the Demons.

"This place isn't safe. There are Demons here. I killed four of them just minutes ago. We need to get out of here and into someplace safe. Where do you live?"

Willow looked at Tara and nodded.

"Come with us, Xander, we'll take you where we're all staying right now."

Xander nodded and smiled as they each took a hand and led him out of the cemetery.


The room had cleared almost immediately after it had happened. Everyone was terrified... for those present had witnessed something impossible.

"Get them out of here!"

Guards ran into the throne room and led the Guildsmen out of the building... then sealed the room. Paul stared down at the orange stain on the tiled floor and traced the faint outline of a man burnt there.

*Xander.. by the Gods... what happened to you...*

The doors opened and he lifted his head as Jessica stormed into the room.

"Where is he? Where's Xander?!"

Paul shook his head.

"I don't know, mother. He vanished in an explosion of orange light. I tried tracing him but all I could glimpse was a blue-green world far, far from here. I also sensed a shift in time as well... as if he were traveling either forward or backward in time."

Paul stared back down at the outline and swallowed.

"I do know one thing though. Wherever Xander is... he is back on his home world. I caught a glimpse of the planetary aura and it matched that bluish-white shimmer in Xander's own aura. I think exposure to pure spice gas must have triggered something that had been lying dormant inside him... perhaps reversing whatever it was that brought him to us in the first place."

Jessica knelt down next to Paul and nodded.

"Can you show me the planet?"

Paul nodded and summoned the vision to his memory. He then took his mother's hand and transferred the memory. Jessica stared at the planet and ran a scan on it, discovering something she knew Paul would never have thought of looking for.

"Xander is safe... and not alone. A faction of the Sisterhood is on that planet."

Paul's eyes widened in shock and he let go of his mother's hands.

"What?! How do you know this?"

Jessica sighed.

"There is a skill taught in the Sisterhood. It allows us to be aware of where other sisters are located. I never taught it to you. I used it on your memory... and found a beacon on one of the landmasses."

Paul nodded slowly.

"Then he will be ok. Do you think he can find them?"

Jessica opened her eyes and smiled slightly.

"He will have to... or risk dying from Spice Withdrawal."

Paul winced. He had seen what that does to people and knew that the spice gas exposure had to have pushed Xander's tolerance far beyond what it had been before. He would be fully addicted by now... maybe... and would be in serious danger once the effects of the gas wore off.

"Good luck, Xander. May Shai Hulud protect you..."


The candle flame flickered as an image floated above it. Rebekka stared at the image and frowned. The fighter was using skills no man should know and was moving faster than humanly possible.

*It cannot be...*

She stared into the flame and watched the young man as he eliminated the vampries that had been, moments earlier, attacking that woman.

*Who are you... you're not of my people, though I see traits of the Sisterhood in you. Has one of us had a child... or maybe one of the outsiders?*

Rebekka shook her head.

*No... for his age, there is no one... and then there is this.*

Rebekka recalled the image back to moments before the man appeared and hissed in a breath when she saw the orange light once more as he emerged from it.

*The light of the spice gas... impossible.*

Rebekka nodded. She had recognized the light orange color of spice gas immediately.

*Whoever he is... he has been exposed to pure spice gas. If he is still alive... well... we had better be aware of him.*

Rebekka swallowed and examined his location.

*California... Sunnydale... the Hellmouth.*

Rebekka shook her head.

*I must notify the Reverend Mother. She will not be pleased...*


Xander stared at the house and swallowed, feeling suddenly nervous.

*Calm down... this is nothing... if you can face Harkonnen scum, you can face a girl.*

Willow looked up at Xander and smiled, squeezing his hand.

"Come on... it's ok."

Xander nodded and walked up the steps. As the girls moved to open the door, Xander felt a surge of power from the other side.

"... and no anchovies this time, Dawn!"

The door opened to reveal a young girl with long brown hair. Xander looked into her eyes and saw fear then recognition then joy explode within them.


Xander only had seconds before the girl threw herself at him, much as Willow had done.


Xander stared down at her in shock and hugged her back.

"Hey there... um... hi."

He looked up as the doorway was immediately filled with people. An older woman stared at him with tears in her eyes. An older man stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders, a look of longing so strong was in his eyes that it scared Xander... and behind them was the blonde, Buffy. She was staring in shock, as if unable to believe anything she was seeing.


Xander smiled and nodded.

"Hey... sorry I'm late... been on a desert planet for the last... oh, six years or so."

He tried to move toward the doorway but the girl was blocking his path.

"Dawn.. let him go."

Dawn smiled and shook her head.

"No.. he might disappear again.."

Willow shook her head and laughed then, with Tara's help, managed to pry Dawn loose so that Xander could step across the threshold. As soon as he stepped inside Buffy's house, he was pulled from person to person being hugged and kissed by each. By the time he was into the living room, Xander was red from blushing. He looked over at Buffy, who was still staring at him, and walked over to her.

"You ok?"

Buffy reached out tentatively, running her fingers along Xander's jawline.

"Are you real?"

Xander nodded and took her hand. He could feel the warmth of her skin and brought her fingers to his chest.

"I may not know who I am... but I'm real. I'm here and that is all that matters."

Buffy's eyes closed as she began to cry and pulled him against her... placing kisses all over his face.

"Never ever leave me again...."

Xander smiled at her and nodded.

"Ok... um.. but can I ask you one thing?"

Buffy nodded, smiling.


Xander smiled.

"Who are you... all of you? I don't remember anything."

Part 16

"Who are you... all of you? I don't remember anything."

Buffy stared at Xander in shock, her jaw dropping.

"Say what?"

Xander frowned and half walked/half dragged Buffy to the couch, sitting down with Buffy ending up in his lap. Xander gave her a strange look then began.

"I have no memory of any of you. I know a few names... but other than that... nothing. I've been living on a desert world somewhere out there in another galaxy probably. The people there took care of me and believe that my memories are somewhere in my head... but I can't access them. I was hoping you could all explain things to me."

Buffy shifted her weight slightly and wrapped her legs around Xander's waist, locking him in place as she stared into his blue within blue eyes.

"We can try to answer your questions, Xan, f you answer some of our own. For starters... what's with the eyes?"

Xander frowned.

"You're the second person to ask me about them. What were they before?"

Dawn dropped down on the couch next to Xander and smiled.

"They were this gorgeous chocolate brown color... but now they're this electric blue color and the whites of your eyes are the same blue... sorta blue within blue... or something... but very dreamy."

Buffy glared at her sister as Dawn drooled at Xander.

"What Dawn means, Xander, is that they were nice looking and are still nice... just in a different way now. Can you explain why they're blue?"

Xander though about it, running his fingers along the base of Buffy's spine absentmindedly the whole time... not really noticing the shiver that passed through her body.

"Well... let me see... everyone had blue eyes... and I remember Chani telling me one day that I had begun the change... the day my eyes went blue I guess. I had to run to training and never got around to asking her about it. It could be a reaction to the spice..."

Giles moved forward as Xander spoke and sat down in a chair across from him.

"Spice... what spice?"

Xander looked up at the man and bit his lower lip.

"Spice... um...?"

Giles smiled.

"Rupert Giles... but everyone calls me Giles."

As Xander nodded, Willow giggled and whispered to Tara.

"Giles won't ever have to worry about Xander calling him G-Man anymore."

Xander raised and eyebrow, having heard everything, and smirked.

"G-Man... now why would I want to call him that?"

Willow jumped and stared at Xander in shock. She and Tara were across the room and she was amazed he had been able to hear her.

"You heard me?"

Xander nodded.

"Yes.. my senses are very strong. Paul says it's a side effect of ingestion of the spice on great levels... though not as big a change as what happened to him."

Giles cleared his throat.

"You were saying... the name of this spice?"

Xander nodded.


Giles's eyes widened and he nodded.

"That rings familiar to me... something I read once... but strangely enough I can't remember it right now. Anyway... this melange... what did it do to you?"

Xander tilted his head and smiled.

"Increased my speed, sharpened my instincts, enhanced my senses, that sort of thing... then there are the more esoteric changes..."

Xander looked around the room and noticed everyone staring at him in shock.


Joyce moved to sit on the arm of Giles's chair and smiled comfortingly at Xander.

"Sweetie.. you used the word 'esoteric' in a sentence... correctly. You used to not be able to do that."

Xander swallowed and nodded.

"Ok.. so maybe I'm a little smarter too."

Xander looked back into Buffy's eyes and saw something that startled him. The raw emotion simmering away deep in her eyes... for him... was staggering. Xander blushed slightly and went back to his tale.

"Anyway... where was I... ah, esoteric abilities. I guess you could call them gifts. I get glimpses of the future now. Nothing too far, just a vague sense of what is going to happen, enough to warn me if I am about to get into danger. I also can see auras and energy around people and things. It's a strange gift but it comes in handy from time to time. I can sense evil. That ability saved mine and my brother's life..."

At mention of a brother, everyone stared in shock.


Xander nodded.

"Not a real brother... but as close as I could get... you could say. On this other planet... Arrakis... I was found by a 12 year old girl named Chani. She took me home to her house and she and her father, Liet, took care of me. They then decided to adopt me into their family as a way to ensure my safety. I was then brought to the Fremen, a nomadic race living in the deep desert, and it was there that I met the woman who I would call mother... for a short while. Her name was Reverend Mother Ramallo... and she showed me love, and I loved her in return. She told me I was special and that as long as I trusted the Sisterhood... I would always have someone to love me."

Xander paused, remembering.

"I learned from her the ways of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. She was both mother and teacher to me... that is until Paul and his mother Jessica arrived..."

As Xander told his tale, everyone moved to sit around Xander... listening in awe as they were led into his world.

"... for when they arrived, Ramallo died so as to pass on her skill and knowledge to Jessica. I miss her every day... but then Jessica took over my training and in turn also chose to mother me as well. She had children, her son Paul and her newborn daughter Alia, so she understood what a child needed. She taught me everything she knew... or everything she wanted me to know... giving me love at the same time. As our bond grew, so did my bond with Paul and Alia grow as well. Already I had Chani as my sister... then I was able to add to that Paul as my brother and Alia as my baby sister."

Xander smiled, remembering little Alia.

"Little Alia... my precious angel... she was so spunky and smart and powerful. She was like bottled sunshine and I adored her. I hope she's ok. They probably think I'm dead... what with how I came back and all."

Xander closed his eyes and shuddered, remembering the pain.

"Not supposed to be able to survive exposure to that much pure spice gas... don't really know why I'm alive..."

Buffy glanced over at Willow as Xander continued and mouthed to her silently.

"You understanding half of what he's saying?"

Willow shook her head and then smirked at Buffy.

"You're sitting in his lap... naughty girl."

Buffy smiled and wiggled in Xander's lap, feeling his body tighten slightly in reaction. She winked at Willow then focused back on Xander.

"... and then I jumped off of the cliff wall and floated down to the palace. I waited a few minutes then made my way inside once the side of the building was blown clear... then I moved to eliminate the power generator so that Paul and the Fremen could take the Emperor's ship..."

Buffy stared at Xander, her eyes widening.

*Jumped off a cliff??? Emperor??? What the hell did I miss?*

"... and then Paul became Emperor and that was that. We were together on Kaitain, the Imperial planet, when we were attacked by a pair of assassins. It was during the attack that I was sent back here. I arrived in..."

Xander glanced over at Willow and Tara.

"Ashcroft Cemetery."

Xander nodded and smiled.

"... and found a woman being attacked by six Demons..."

Willow cleared her throat and smiled.


Xander frowned.

"Not Demons?"

Giles smiled.

"Technically... they are Demons... though not pure blood. Either way... you say you found six of them? What happened next?"

Xander shrugged slightly.

"I stabbed one with my crysknife. It screamed and burst into flames as I decapitated three others. I then turned to get the last two... but they had run off, as had the woman. I did, however, run into someone else... Willow and Tara."

Willow smiled.

"Yeah.. almost killed me too.. with his white blade."

Buffy perked up at this.

"White blade... makes vampires burst into flames... why don't I have one of those?"

Xander laughed and pulled his crysknife from his sheath. He handed it over to Buffy and smiled. Buffy stared at it and frowned.

"This isn't metal... or wood... what is it?"

Xander smirked.

"The tooth of a maker."

Buffy frowned and handed the crysknife back to Xander.

"Ewww... you're using a tooth as a knife?"

She turned to Giles and her frown deepened.

"Why would a tooth do that, Giles?"

Giles removed his glasses and polished them.

"If it were a holy relic... then perhaps..."

He put his glasses back on and looked at Xander.

"Is it, perhaps?"

Xander nodded.

"The makers are our Gods. Shai Hulud."

Giles's eyes widened in shock and he leaned back.

*SHAI HULUD!!! Dear God no!*

"Did you say Shai Hulud?"

Xander nodded.

"Yes... do you recognize it?"

Giles nodded slowly.

"Giant worm... teeth like a lamprey... smells like cinnamon... now I know why Melange sounded so familiar. We received word from a Watcher on the southern coast of Spain of a strange Demon that had appeared. They went to check it out and found a group of women herding it into a large portal. The Watcher there heard one of them call it Shai Hulud. He said it had killed and eaten an entire village before they captured it."

Xander stared in awe.

*A worm... here... impossible.*

"Southern Spain... I'll need to check this out at sometime in the near future. If they have a Shai Hulud... then they must have melange as well... and I will need some."

Dawn smiled at Xander and lay her head on his hard, muscled shoulder.

"Why is that?"

Xander turned his head and smiled down at her.

"I am addicted. If I don't have it... I will go into withdraw and die."

Silence filled the room with Xander's last words as all eyes turned to him in shock.


Xander nodded.

"Yes, Dawn, die... and it won't be pretty... that is why I must find this place in Spain and discover if they have melange there. I believe I have some time, though. I have gone as long as a week without feeling any symptoms... and went another week before I became ill... so I should have that much time."

The room was quiet once more as Xander's words sank in... then it was Joyce who spoke first.

"Well... it's late and I'm sure Xander is tired. He'll stay here and we can talk more in the morning. Xander, the bathroom is upstairs. Why don't you get cleaned up and then we'll get you situated in a bed."

Xander stared at Joyce and frowned.



Rebekka entered the main chamber and bowed before the three women on the dais.

"Greetings... I come before you with a message."

The woman in the middle nodded and smiled.

"What is this message, Rebekka?"

Rebekka swallowed.

"A man has appeared in California... in the United States. It appears that he possesses Bene Gesserit training and appeared in an explosion of light the color of spice gas."

The women turned to speak to each other quietly then looked back at Rebekka.

"Does anyone know of this... man?"

Rebekka shook her head.

"No... I was alone. I came straight to you."

The woman in the middle nodded and closed her eyes.

"Go to California. Take a healer with you in case there is need of one. Be our eyes and our ears. Find the man... test him... and see if he is, the one."

Rebekka nodded and left the room, both stunned and terrified of what she must now do...


Xander stared down at the toilet and frowned.

"I'm supposed to... in here... and not in my stilsuit?"

Giles nodded. He had been trying to explain the bathroom to Xander for the last 15 minutes... with not much luck.


Xander looked at Giles then back at the water.

"But it wastes water."

Giles sighed.

*This again...*

"It's ok, Xander. We have plenty of water here. Remember the water that came out of the sink.. and the bathtub?"

Xander nodded.


Giles smiled.

"You can use the water and not have to worry. It gets recycled... made clean again... so that others can use it as well."

Xander smiled, finally catching on.

"So its not wasted then.. I understand."

Giles nodded.

"Good... so you can take a shower now?"

Xander nodded. He had listened carefully as Giles explained the shower to him and was secretly excited about trying it.

"Yes.. I remember."

Giles smiled.

"Ok then... here is a towel, you dry off with it when you get done. There is the soap.. shampoo.. conditioner, you use it after the shampoo... and I will have you some clothes when you get done. Just wrap the towel around your waist and open the bathroom door when you're done."

Xander nodded and began removing his stilsuit. Giles shook his head and moved out of the room as Xander stripped then stepped into the shower. Xander cleansed himself, enjoying every minute of it, then about 15 minutes later... stepped out into the hall wearing only a towel... just as Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Tara, and Cordy came out of Buffy's room.

"... and so he's really back?"

Buffy nodded to Cordelia... then paused, her jaw down, as she stared at the wet, glistening, semi-naked Xander standing before them.

"Hmna wha..."

Xander stretched and popped his neck as he stood in the bathroom's doorway, his muscles rippling, dripping an occasional droplet or two of water down his chiseled chest... his towel tied loosely around his waist just inches under a rock hard six-pack of abs. In short... Xander was a god, and drop dead gorgeous. The girls stared, unable to look away... and they remained in that state until Giles walked up the stairs with Xander's clothing.

"Ah.. Xander... I grabbed some clothes for you. Step back inside the bathroom and I will show you what goes where..."

Xander nodded and stepped back inside, followed closely by Giles. Once he was gone, the girls blinked and then ran back into Buffy's room... with the sounds of giggling heard minutes later...

Part 17

Xander stared in the mirror at his reflection and examined himself carefully. He was dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a black t-shirt that clung to his body like a second skin.

*Feels smooth... soft... strange but nothing I can't adapt to.*

Xander looked down at his feet and frowned at the shoes he was wearing.

*These, however, are not enjoyable. They have no give, no feel to them. I cannot understand why people would want to wear them.*

Xander shook his head and grabbed a comb and began combing his long hair, then tied it back with a piece of cloth Chani had given him. He gave himself another once-over then opened the bathroom door to reveal an empty hallway.

*Hmm... the girls are gone. They seemed to like looking at me earlier...*

Xander smiled and moved toward the stairs, heading down them toward sounds coming from a side room. As he entered, he spotted Giles and the woman who had been sitting with him.


They looked up and the woman smiled. A flash of warmth filled Xander and he smiled back at her.

"Xander... you look nice. Are you hungry?"

Xander smiled and nodded as he took a seat at the island in the kitchen.

"Yes please, ma'am."

Joyce laughed and shook her head.

"Joyce, Xander, not ma'am... I'm not that old."

Xander nodded.


He looked at her then looked at Giles and noticed a link between the two of them.

"If I may... are you two mated?"

Giles, who had been drinking a cup of tea, coughed and spew tea all over himself.


Joyce laughed and threw Giles a towel as she moved over to the sink.

"Mated... in a sense, Xander. The correct term here would be dating. It comes before mating... in most relationships... although you still could say that Rupert and I have mated before.."

"MOM! Gross!"

Xander turned in his seat to see the stunned faces of the girls as they walked into the room. Dawn grimaced and shook her head.

"I think it's cool you two are together but don't go talking about the hot monkey sex between you and Giles."

Buffy winced and began shaking.

"Mom and Giles... hot monkey sex... oh God, I'm going to puke."

Xander frowned and noticed an exasperated expression on the adults's faces.

"What's so wrong about mating? I myself have never found anyone I cared enough for to mate with but I have seen the joy in the faces of those who have... why Paul and Chani are extremely happy and seem to glow almost all the..."

Cordelia blinked and stared at Xander.

"You're still a virgin?!"

Xander stopped and stared at the new girl.

"I... have we met?"

Cordelia frowned and nodded.

"It's me... Cordelia... Cordy... you were dating me before you disappeared, or trying to at least."

Xander stared at her and nodded slowly.

"The dark-haired girl... the one from my memory... Cordelia. Thank you... and yes, I am still untouched."

Buffy stared at Xander and took in a slow steady breath.

*He's still a virgin... and I gave mine to... oh God...I thought he was dead... and now... oh God.*

Xander noticed a change come over Buffy and moved next to her.

"Buffy... is something wrong?"

Buffy looked up, startled, and stared into Xander's eyes.

"Wrong... what.. what would be wrong... I.. I'm fine."

Xander saw the pain in her eyes and frowned.

"Are you sure? We can go upstairs to talk if you'd like."

Buffy looked at the others then back at Xander and nodded slowly. Xander took her hand and turned to the others.

"We need to talk. We'll be back in a while."

Joyce nodded and smiled.

"I'll fix you something when you get done."

Xander nodded and then guided Buffy upstairs...


Xander sat down on the edge of Buffy's bed and motioned for her to join him.

"Buffy... what's going on?"

Buffy looked into Xander's eyes and began crying.

"I'm so sorry, Xander. I.. I just couldn't..."

Xander grabbed Buffy and pulled her into an embrace. He could feel her sobbing against his chest and wondered what was going on inside her head.

"Tell me what's wrong, Buffy. Just start at the beginning."

Buffy sucked in a breath and began.

"You left me and you saved me from Carn and he hurt you so much before you disappeared and then you were gone and you had told me how much you loved me and I had told you that I didn't see you like that but I lied because the longer you were gone the more I started to realize that I loved you too but you were gone for so long that I couldn't stand being alone anymore and I met this guy and we dated and then had sex and oh God Xander... I'm not a virgin anymore and you still are and I feel so ashamed because I didn't wait for you and..."

Buffy's words trailed off into sobbing as Xander sat in shock and stared down at the top of her head.

"You love me?"

Buffy looked up, tears in her eyes, and nodded.

"With everything in me."

Xander swallowed and closed his eyes. He searched his memories for his earliest memory... and compared the feelings surrounding it with what he now knew as lone... and he was stunned to discover that the feelings were still there. It finally explained so much.


Xander opened his eyes, tears forming in them, and he took a shuddering breath.

"...I watched you die... and in that moment, I felt something in me break. I didn't know who you were... but you meant more to me than anything I could explain. My people... we don't cry... we call it giving water to the dead... but for you, I cried... because I loved you and you were gone... but now I'm here, and you're alive."

Xander blinked, tears falling from his eyes and onto Buffy's upturned face.

"What I'm trying to say is... I don't know much about what was between us... but I know what I feel. You are in my heart, Buffy. I love you."

Buffy blinked, her mind ablaze with fear and doubt at his words.

"Xander... you don't have to say that just because..."

Xander leaned in and kissed her lips, slowly and gently.

"I love you, Buffy. I think I have always loved you... and I saved myself for you. You were the light in my darkness, the one thing to keep me going... the hope of seeing you again someday."

Buffy felt the emotion in Xander's words and the love in his blue eyes and threw herself at him, kissing him wildly... releasing almost six years of passion into one kiss. She ran her hands through his hair, down his body, never once breaking contact with his lips. She wanted to devour him, never let him go, but had to take a breath. They broke contact and both gasped for air. Buffy, now lying on top of Xander on her bed, rested her head on his chest and gasped in breath.

"That was... wow."

Buffy looked up at Xander and saw his smiling face.

"I love you, Xander, and that was nothing. Just wait until I..."

"Buffy... Xander... dinner's ready so stop having sex and get down here."

Buffy blushed as Xander smiled and began to laugh.

"We'll be down in a minute, Dawn, and we were not having sex... yet."

Xander blinked in surprise at Buffy's comment and noticed a wicked gleam in her eyes.

"So we're going to..."

Buffy smiled and kissed Xander again, effectively silencing him.

"Later... right now, let's go eat. I want you to have lots of energy for later."

Buffy jumped up off of him and pulled him to his feet, a stunned expression on Xander's face.

"... later?"

Buffy nodded and ran her fingers down his chest... to his waistband, pulling him against her.

"Yes, Xan, I've waited a long time for you... and you're not going anywhere."

Buffy kissed Xander again, her tongue doing acrobatics inside Xander's mouth before darting back out again.

"... but for now, we eat. Come on."

Xander nodded as Buffy headed for her door... then paused as he had to adjust himself before going back downstairs...


Rebekka and a healer named Rianna moved toward the bowels of the enclave.

"Portal travel isn't allowed that often. Why am I coming with you, Sister?"

Rebekka turned to Rianna and sighed.

"We have a situation in California. We need to get there immediately... so we have been give permission to use the portal."

Rianna nodded.

"It's one way though. How will we return?"

Rebekka smiled.

"I have enough money from the treasury for us to take a plane back when we are done."

Rianna nodded and together they stepped into the portal... and vanished.

Part 18

Buffy walked down the stairs, Xander right behind her, and smiled as she noticed Angel standing behind Cordelia.

*Looks like he made it to the party as well. I thought he had to work tonight.*

She nodded at Angel, who smiled back, then moved to take an empty seat at the table... then noticed that Xander had paused at the foot of the stairs.


Xander stared at the young man behind Cordelia and swallowed hard.

*How can this be? I saw him fall. I know he has to be dead... but... he's breathing.*

Xander moved closer and stared at Angel, his eyes locking on the other man.

"You were dead."

Angel nodded, not understanding what was going on.

"Yes... you know that, Xander. What's going on?"

Xander sighed.

"I saw you fall... from the tower. You were dead."

Buffy looked at Xander and it hit her.

*The fall... he doesn't remember about Angel being a vampire then. I had better say something.*

"Xander... it's ok. Angel wasn't killed that night... he.."

Xander turned to Buffy and frowned.


Buffy bit her lower lip and frowned.

"He was a vampire. The fall didn't kill him..."

The moment he heard the word, vampire, Xander reacted. He reached for his crysknife, then remembered it was with his stilsuit. Instead, he launched himself toward Angel, moving faster than anyone could believe. Within a second, Angel was on the ground with Xander's hands around his neck... choking him.


Xander glared down at Angel, his sense on overdrive, then paused as he felt something he wasn't prepared for.


Angel stared up at Xander, his eyes wide with fear, and tried to claw Xander's fingers loose. He was running out of air and thought he was going to pass out when Xander suddenly let go. As he took in a gasping breath, Angel stared up into Xander's confused eyes and began to tremble.

"You're human... how?"

Angel felt Xander back off of him and quickly scrambled to his feet. Cordelia slammed into his side and clung to him as he waited for his breathing to stabilize.

"Strange... prophecy... turned me... human... again."

Xander nodded, understanding prophecy. He stared at the man... and the way Cordelia clung to him... the love and worry in her eyes.

"I... apologize... for my reaction. When I am from, you remove a threat before it can threaten you. I hope you understand, I had no idea."

Angel nodded and reached out a hand to Xander. Xander nodded and took it.

"It's ok, Xander. Giles explained when he called me. I know what it's like to not remember anything. It's a terrible feeling."

Xander nodded and turned to look at the others. They were staring at him in shock.

"Xander... how did you move so fast?"

Xander looked down at Dawn and frowned.

"Fast... that wasn't even half my speed."


Xander jerked at the outburst from most of the room and nodded.

"Yes.. I can move much faster. I chose not to because there isn't enough room in here. If I had attacked Angel at full speed... we would have crashed through the window over there and then would have slid halfway across the front courtyard before our momentum stopped."

Buffy blinked in awe and motioned for Xander to come to her. Xander walked over and sat down next to her. He felt her right hand fall onto his leg and looked at her eyes. She was smiling at him with that look of love in her eyes again. He took her hand in his and then turned to look at the others. Giles smiled and nodded as Angel and Cordelia took then seats.

"This is a celebration. The family is whole once again with the return of our Xander. This is a very happy day for us..."

He paused, smiling, as he remembered something important.

"... especially since, Xander, tomorrow is your birthday."

Xander blinked in surprise and smiled.

"I had no idea. How... how old am I?"

Buffy smiled.

"You're 22 tomorrow."

She smiled and blushed slightly as an idea for a present formed in her mind.

*Oooh.. you are a naughty Slayer... but Xander would love it so... and it is a perfect birthday present for him...*

Xander nodded slowly.

"I'm older than I thought..."

He smiled at the others as Giles continued.

"So let us all enjoy this time together... and thank God that our lost soul was returned to us."

Everyone smiled and then began eating. Soon light conversation and laughter filled the room... bringing a level of joy back to the home.


After dinner, everyone gathered in the living room to talk. Buffy smiled at Xander as she sat in his lap on the couch, but her eyes kept glancing over at the clock. When it was about 10 minutes till midnight she turned to Xander and whispered in his ear.

"I have something special for you... upstairs."

Xander blinked and smiled. He was about to ask what when Buffy spoke to everyone.

"Guys... this is great and all, but I think Xander is tired. I think we should call it a night."

The group looked at each other... then at Xander... then Buffy sitting in his lap, and smiled.

"Right... why don't we all get together in the morning for breakfast?"

They nodded at Joyce's suggestion and got to their feet. Angel and Cordelia moved, hand in hand, to the door and waved goodbye to Xander.

"We live two blocks over... if you need anything."

Xander nodded and then waved goodbye as Willow and Tara moved to the door as well.

"We're in the dorm, Xander. Buffy can show you the way there if you need us too. See you tomorrow morning."

Xander smiled and nodded.


Buffy then took his hand and led him toward the stairs.

"Mom... Giles... Xander's going to be staying in my room tonight."

Joyce smiled and nodded.

"That's fine dear..."

She laughed softly and shook her head.

*Just don't kill the boy... girl's got too much energy for her own good. Xander is going to be in for a shock if Buffy doesn't hold back some...*

Thinking about the night her daughter had planned made her get her own ideas. Joyce watched Buffy led Xander back upstairs then turned to Giles and kissed his cheek.

"Dawn... I think its time for you to go to bed as well..."

She turned to stare into her youngest daughter's eyes.

"... and no listening through the wall, young lady."

Dawn grinned and nodded... then ran upstairs laughing. Giles turned to Joyce and laughed.

"Are you so sure that that was a good idea?"

Joyce nodded and kissed him again.

"Yes.. I know Dawn. She'll give Buffy and Xander their privacy... tonight at least. Anything done tomorrow night is up in the air."

Giles laughed and pulled his love against him. He could feel her body's excitement and smiled a smile reminiscent of his Ripper days.

"Oh.. someone's feeling naughty..."

Joyce giggled and nodded... then ran upstairs.

"Catch me if you can..."

Giles grinned and chased after her... knowing that Buffy and Xander weren't the only ones in for a good night...


A crackle of energy filled the air as it became ionized. Seconds later an oval of electric blue appeared and two women in black emerged. As soon as they cleared the oval, it vanished.

"Are we here?"

Rebekka nodded.

"Yes. We need to find the trail of a young man. He was in this cemetary earlier tonight. We must find him as quickly as possible."

Rebekka moved to walk into the cemetery when she felt something. She opened her senses and scanned the area. To the right, near a crypt, she could see the faint energy trace of a gate or sorts... and it radiated orange.


Rianna glanced over at the crypt and could sense it as well.

"Can you get a trace, Sister?"

Rebekka nodded and moved to the crypt. She moved to where the young man had been standing... then walked down the path, following his footsteps. Rianna watched her for a moment then moved behind her and followed her as she walked off down the street...


Buffy sat Xander down on her bed and smiled at him.

*This is your night, Xander. You're going to love it...*

She smiled sexily at him and began removing his shirt, keeping her eyes locked on his the whole time. As his bare chest was revealed, she bent down and kissed his neck, her eyes still locked on his. She then stepped back and grinned.

"You get undressed. I have a surprise for you."

Buffy smiled and walked over to her closet. She grabbed black jacket and something else then moved to the door.

"I'll be back in a few minutes, Xander."

Xander nodded and smiled as Buffy left. He looked around her room and spotted his stilsuit lying in the corner. He got up and walked over to examine it.

*Hmm.. everything looks ok... not much cleaning needed.*

He picked up his sleeveless shirt and noticed it had been washed... as had his hooded cloak.

*Joyce must have done this while I cleansed myself...*

Xander stared at the insignia on the shirt and traced a finger along it. The mark of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood... his other family. Xander sighed and placed the shirt and cloak on Buffy's dresser... then began removing his clothing. Once he was down to the boxers Giles had given him, he moved back over to the bed. The door opened suddenly and Buffy slipped inside. As she saw Xander she paused and licked her lips... then tightened the tie of her short jacket.

*My God.. just look at him... oh my...*

Buffy sauntered over to Xander and had him sit on the edge of the bed. She glanced over at the clock and smiled.

"Happy Birthday Xander. Want to open your present?"

The grin on Xander's face could have lit up the room as he nodded and slowly untied her jacket... then gasped as it fell to the ground, revealing a very nude Buffy.

"You're beautiful..."

Buffy smiled, love in her eyes, and pushed Xander back onto her bed. Her eyes glanced down at the boxers and she smiled.

"You won't be needing these..."

She reached down and slid them off of him... then climbed up onto the bed, sliding over him until she was lying on him, face to face.

"I hope you like your present, Xander."

She smiled and leaned in to kiss him as she felt his hands reach up and slide down her back...


Rebekka followed the trail to a house with only a few lights on upstairs. She nodded to Rianna and they moved up to the front door. As she knocked, she could feel a sense of power coming from inside the house.

*He is here... I can feel him.*

There was a small wait then the sound of footsteps running to the door. The door opened to reveal a young girl.

"Hi... can I help you?"

Rebekka looked at the girl and nodded.

"I apologize for arriving at this time of night... but I need to know... do you have a young man with dark hair here. An unusual man?"

Dawn looked at the two women... then noticed that both of the women had eyes like Xander's.

*The blue in blue eyes...*

"Uh... hold on a sec."

She closed the door and ran upstairs. She knocked on her mom's door and when a half-dressed Giles opened it she glanced toward the door.

"Strange women here... they asked about Xander and they have his eyes."

Giles nodded.

"Go get Xander. I'll see what they want."

Dawn nodded and moved to Buffy's door. She could hear sounds coming from inside and smiled... then knocked on the door loudly. A muffled frustrated scream came from the other side of the closed door... then the door opened to reveal an angry Buffy standing there with a robe wrapped around her.

"What is it, Dawn!"

Dawn smiled.

"Two women here... they want Xander... they have his eyes."

Xander looked at the door and heard the last part.

*Sisters... here?*

He grabbed his boxers from where they landed on the nearby nightstand and pulled them on under the sheet... then moved to where he left his clothing.

"I'll see them in a few minutes, Dawn."

Dawn nodded and moved away from the door, noticing the angry look on Buffy's face.

*Must have caught them mid-way through... oh boy, Buffy's pissed.*

Xander pulled on his jeans and then reached for his shirt when Buffy stopped him.

"Xander.. we were... busy."

Xander nodded and turned to her.

"They might be from the Sisterhood. If so, I must speak with them."

He saw Buffy grab his shirt and then begin twisting it. Xander sighed and grabbed his sleeveless shirt, pulling it on over his bare chest.

"Buffy... I'm sorry... but this is important."

Buffy nodded and moved away, pulling on her own clothing as Xander strapped on his crysknife.

"I know.. but... I wanted this to be special..."

*... and now I'm all worked up and horny...*

Xander smiled and nodded.

"I know, my love, I know. We can continue this... later?"

Buffy nodded, smiling finally, and pulled on her top. She zipped up her pants and then hugged Xander.

"Later then..."

Xander nodded and moved to the door, headed downstairs...


The door opened to reveal an older gentleman with no shirt on.

"Ladies... can I help you?"

Rebekka nodded.

"We have come for the young man. We know he is here."

Giles nodded and stepped aside. They entered and Giles motioned them into the living room.

"Have a seat... he will be down shortly."

Rebekka and Rianna nodded and sat down on the couch. Rebekka smoothed out her robe, her fingers tracing the insignia unconsciously. A few minutes later they heard someone walked down the stairs. Rebekka glanced over and gasped in shock at what she saw.


Xander walked down the stairs and then into the living room. He noticed the two women and nodded to himself at the Sisterhood robes they were wearing. It was when one of them gasped that he paused.

"You... how did you..."

Xander frowned and looked down at his chest. She was staring at the insignia and he understood.

"I can explain... Sister...?"

Rebekka swallowed and looked up into the young man's eyes. Blue within blue, the mark of the spice.

"Sister Rebekka... and you are?"

Xander nodded.

"I am Xander, son of Liet, and as for the rest... Sister... I too am a Bene Gesserit."

Part 19

"I am Xander, son of Liet, and as for the rest... Sister... I too am a Bene Gesserit."

Those words echoed in Rebekka's mind as she stared at the young man sitting across from her; a blonde young woman sitting in his lap.

"This... how is this possible?"

Xander sighed and tightened his grip around Buffy's waist and frowned.

"Sister... are you able to access the chronicles?"

Rianna gasped and shook her head.

"How do you know these things?"

Rebekka nodded. She wanted to know as well.

Xander frowned more.

"Please answer my question, Sister."

Rebekka stared at the young man and her patience gave out at his evasion. She focused her eyes on his and used... the Voice.

"YOU WILL ANSWER ME.... you will answer me..."

Xander felt the words roll over him and smiled. Jessica's training was paying off, for he felt nothing.

"The Voice, Sister, doesn't work on me. Mother made sure of that... and my brother took it even further from there."

Rianna jerked in shock.

*He resisted the Voice... but how... it is impossible for those not...*

"Sister... he's been trained."

Sister Rebekka turned to Rianna and nodded.

"I realize that... now."

She turned to Xander and sighed.

"Who trained you?"

Xander smiled.

"Reverend Mother Ramallo was my first teacher... then Reverend Mother Jessica... then finally, Emperor Paul Mua'dib Atredies..."

Xander paused... relishing this moment.

"... the Kwisatz Hadderach."

Rebekka gasped as Rianna shrieked and backed away, terror in her eyes.


Xander just nodded.

"I was taken to Gallach... brought before the Sisterhood... tested fully and acclaimed to be the first male Bene Gesserit. I am archived in the chronicle and have full access to any Sisterhood stronghold... on any planet."

Rebekka shook her head.

"I need proof... but that can wait... we know how you arrived..."

Xander winced and nodded.

"A Navigator's tank exploded on me. I was bathed in the spice gas. I feel... different."

Rebekka turned to Rianna and frowned.

"We need to know his condition before we continue."

Rianna turned to Xander and frowned.

"Xander... was it?"

Xander nodded and Rianna stepped over to him.

"Remove your shirt, please."

Xander nodded and lifted Buffy off of his lap... then stood and removed his shirt. Rianna nodded and ran her fingertips over the skin of his chest. A slight smile formed on her lips as her hands made contact with his skin, almost caressing it.

*My god... the power in this young man... so strong... so seductive... almost addictive...*

Buffy stared at the strange woman fondling Xander and began to fume and scream inside. Her foot began to twitch... then tap, faster and faster as her anger grew.

*You're touching my Xander.... you're touching MY Xander... get your skanky hands off MY XANDER YOU BITCH!!!*

Giles noticed the expression crossing Buffy's face and swallowed.

*Oh my... Buffy is nearing critical mass... I had better step in and.. oh dear.*

As he watched, Rianna's hands slid lower.. moving closer and closer to Xander's waist - a look of ecstasy on her face. Buffy began to tremble in anger and then screamed.


Rianna jerked and blinked as Buffy grabbed her and threw her across the room.

"Huh... what?"

As Buffy moved to kill the woman, Xander grabbed her and pulled her back.

"Buffy... baby.. calm down."

Buffy fought against his grip, trying her best to reach the woman, halfway dragging Xander across the room. Xander shook his head and spun Buffy around, planting a kiss on her mouth. He opened her lips and slid his tongue into her mouth, searing her with a kiss so passionate it made most of the people in the room gasp in shock... and envy.

*Kill the bitch... kill the... mmm... oh yeah... oh god.... where did he learn that... oh mmmmmm.*

Buffy wrapped her arms around Xander and then tried to climb up his body as her hormones, so eager from earlier, kicked back in. As she began to grind against him, Giles cleared his throat and glanced around at the shocked looks, from the ladies, and the leering looks, from the men.

"Buffy... Xander... this isn't the time for sex... and no killing the guests, Buffy."

Buffy, who had her hands in Xander's long hair now, wrapped her legs around Xander.. still grinding against him... and wouldn't let go. Xander opened his eyes and then tried to extract his tongue from Buffy's mouth long enough to answer.

"Buffy... calm.. "

Buffy grabbed his mouth again and knocked him off his feet and back onto the couch.. then with a final hard grind, broke the kiss and glared at the women as she draped herself, possessively, over Xander's body.

*He's mine... all you bitches had better recognize that!*

Giles noted the posture and swallowed.

"Ok... as we were... um... madam... before you were so... taken... by the situation... were you able to discover Xander's medical condition?"

Rianna, still in shock, nodded as she jealously stared at the Buffy-covered Xander. She shook herself, calming completely, then moved back to Sister Rebekka's side.

"Yes... he's completely infused with spice gas. He is super-saturated at this moment. Given time, I'd estimate about 36 hours, he will consume the remainder of the gas and will need a steady supply of spice."

Rebekka, stunned by the events that had just occurred, nodded.

"We will return to the enclave at once. I am thankful that we came prepared."

Rianna nodded.

"If we had been able to portal back, the spice would trigger a transformation within his cells. He would become... a Navigator."

Xander blinked in shock.

*A Navigator... shit!*

"Where is the enclave?"

Rebekka looked at Xander... then at the others who had wandered into the room from the screaming... and sighed.

"A small town on the southern coast of Spain. We can fly over then travel overland."

She shook her head and stood.

"Xander... gather your things and come with me. You will come with Rianna and I. Your friends will remain here."

Buffy shook her head.

"Nope.. he's not going anywhere without me."

Rebekka turned to Buffy and glared at her.

"Listen, little girl, you are not invited. Xander is only coming because of circumstances that are beyond my control. He will be traveling alone and that is final."

Buffy climbed off Xander and walked over to the taller woman... then lifted her up off the ground.

"You don't control me... and you will not stop me from going with him. I have had to live without him for close to six years... SIX YEARS... and I am not going to lose him now. Do you understand me?!"

Rebekka looked down in shock into the eyes of the blonde and saw rage and fathomless love for Xander staring back at her.

"Fine... you may come..."

Buffy lowered the woman to the ground just as a voice from behind her spoke up.

"I'm coming too..."

Buffy turned to see Dawn sitting next to Xander, her head on his shoulder.

"You're not the only one who loves him, Buffy."

Buffy stared into Dawn's eyes and nodded.

"We're all going... and that's final."

She turned to Giles and her mom and nodded.

"Giles... call Cordy and Angel. Mom... call Willow and Tara. Tell them to pack clothes and anything else they will need for at least a week and get over here as soon as possible. Tell Angel to bring over a few of his shirts and pants for Xander too."

Joyce nodded and ran to the kitchen as Giles pulled out his cell phone. Buffy then turned to Dawn and smiled.

"Go pack."

Dawn squealed, kissed Xander's cheek, then ran upstairs. Buffy walked over to Xander and took his hands. She then looked over her shoulder at the men and women and smiled.

"Wait here... we'll leave when the others get here."

Smiling sweetly, Buffy pulled Xander up the stairs... feeling the glares of at least three people on her back...


Angel stared at his fiancée as she stepped from the shower, water droplets glistening over her tanned, tone skin. His heart leapt into his throat as he was overcome with emotion yet again.

*She loves me... and wants to be with me... even with everything I did in my past. She loves me so much she stood by me through it all and now...*

Cordelia glanced over at Angel as she dried her hair and smiled.

*He's daydreaming again... I can tell by that look in his eyes.*

She glanced down at her naked body and smiled. It had become a regular thing for her to walk around naked in front of Angel without fear, ever since his soul was locked in place by his becoming human. She grinned, remembering their first night together.

*Eighty years of pent up sexual energy... I still get sore just remembering it.*

She stepped into their bedroom and bent down to kiss Angel gently on the forehead.

"Angel... sweetie... are you going to sit there all night or are you going to celebrate with me?"

Angel blinked and smiled... then pulled her down onto the bed with him, enveloping her in his embrace. He began kissing down her body, drawing ever closer to her breasts, when the phone rang. A low growl escaped his lips as Cordelia picked up the phone.


Angel looked up at her as he crawled down her body, willing her with his eyes to hang up the phone. As she continued to talk, he began licking at her stomach... teasing her.

"What... oh... um.. no problem.. we'll..."

Cordelia's voice caught in her throat as Angel did something he shouldn't have and her eyes rolled back in her head.

"On our... we'll be... fine Giles.. fine.... an hour... right... shirt and paaaants, no problem."

She hung up the phone, missing twice, as sensations exploded through her body... her happy screams soon filling the room...


Willow spun around the room, her feet feeling lighter than air, as she celebrated the return of her longest friend.

*He's home... he's home.. he's finally home!!!*

Tara walked into the room and smiled. Her love was happier than she had ever seen her before, and she had to admit... she was happy too. Xander had accepted her so quickly and so completely. She had felt an overwhelming feeling of love come from him that made her feel so warm and comfortable inside. Willow has been right, Xander did love her too.

"Baby... you're happy, I understand that, but you really need to come to bed."

Willow opened her eyes and stared at her love, smiling.

"He's back, baby... he's back."

Tara nodded and opened her arms as Willow ran into them, drawing her into her happy dance.

"My Xander's back... and he's never going to leave ever again... you and I will make sure of that."

Tara stared lovingly into her lover's eyes and nodded.

"Yes... your Xander..."

Willow smiled.

"OUR Xander.."

Tara blushed.

"Our.. Xander... won't be leaving us, any of us, ever again. Things are going to be so much better now."

Willow nodded and leaned in to kiss Tara's nose, playfully.

"Did you see how happy Buffy was? It was the first time in 4 years I've seen her act so alive..."

Tara nodded, understanding.

"Yes.. her love, her soulmate, has returned. Xander is tied to completely to Buffy that it is as if they share one soul."

Willow looked into Tara's eyes and smiled.

"Like you and me, baby?"

Tara blushed and nodded, staring back.

"Like you and me..."

Willow grinned and kissed her love on the lips, their lips parting, tongues touching as their kiss deepened... only to be interrupted as the phone rang. Tara pulled away from Willow's searching lips and reached out to grab the phone.

"Hello... yes... really.... I see... yes, we'll be there... ok... bye."

Tara looked into Willow's lust darkening eyes and sighed.

"We need to pack for a week and head over to Buffy's. Some people came for Xander..."

She barely got the words out before Willow exploded into action. Clothes flew out of the closet as Willow started gathering elements for spells.

"Not going to happen... no... not going to happen again."

Tara watched as their suitcases filled then shut and stared at Willow in shock. Willow closed her bag and locked eyes with Tara.

"No one is going to do ANYTHING to our Xander."

Tara, understanding the emotion, nodded and grabbed her purse.

"Did you get everything?"

Willow looked around at the results of her magic and blushed.

"I think so."

She blushed and smiled.

"Got carried away?"

Tara nodded.

"Slightly, honey, slightly... but it's ok."

She took Willow's hand and levitated their suitcases.

"Shall we?"

Willow nodded, squeezing her love's hand.

"We shall..."

They grinned and walked out the door...


Xander tightened a strap on his stilsuit as Buffy paced. She had already packed most of her closet into a few suitcases but had stopped suddenly as another wave of anger cascaded over her.

"How dare she.. how dare they... they can't do this..."

Xander shook his head and sighed. He understood, on an instinctual level, what was going on.

*Buffy is upset. She views the reactions of the Healer as overly invading her territory... but yet she hasn't openly asked for that level of bond. She has initiated a mating act but was unable to complete it. I wonder if...*

Xander strapped his boots in place and the stood. He pulled the sleeveless shirt back on over his stilsuit and then pulled on his hooded cloak. Xander glanced down at his waist and noticed his water counters. They were a mixture of rings and beads on a piece of cord. He had never given them to a woman, like Paul had given his to Chani, for he hadn't felt right about it... but now...


Buffy stopped pacing and stared at Xander, her eyes widening in shock.


Xander moved over to her and reached down undo his counters.

"Will you hold my water for me?"

Buffy frowned, not understanding.


Xander winced, trying to figure out how to explain it.

"It means... to bond yourself to another, to express to that person that your water, your very life, you give to that person. To be asked to hold someone's water is like saying... will you hold my life in your hands."

Buffy listened, her eyes widening in shock.

*Is he... proposing? Do his people... I'd guess... yes. Oh my...*

Buffy looked down at the series of beads and rings and smiled.

"So you're... like... asking me to marry you... and be with you forever?"

Xander smiled and nodded.

*Close enough..*

"Yes, Buffy, will you?"

Tears filled Buffy's eyes as she nodded slowly. Xander smiled and looked about her body for a place to attach the cord. Buffy noticed his actions and her eyebrow went up?

"What are you looking for, Xander?"

Xander looked up into her eyes and frowned.

"You're supposed to wear them... to show I belong to you."

Buffy smiled and nodded then ran over to her dresser to grab a silver chain. She took the cord from Xander's hand and paused. There was a gold ring entwined on the cord that looked like it might fit her finger.

*Why not... combine his beliefs with your own...*

Buffy carefully removed the ring then tied everything back in place and attached it to the chain. She then put on the chain, the beads and rings falling to just above her breasts. Xander looked at the removed ring and was confused... until she handed it to him.

"Place the ring on my finger, Xander."

Xander nodded and slid the ring onto her finger, smiling as it fit perfectly. Buffy grinned and lifted Xander's face up to hers to kiss him.

"Yes, Xander, I will hold your water."

She glanced down at the gold ring and sighed happily.

"So... we're married now?"

Xander nodded.

"According to the beliefs of my people... yes. You carry my water, my life... and so you own me - body, mind and soul. If we were amongst my people, you would give me a token and it would be official."

Buffy grinned and removed her locket. She placed it around Xander's neck... the paused and pulled out a ring her father had given her when she was a little girl. It was far too big for her, but she had loved it so much he had finally given it to her. She slid it onto Xander's finger and smiled.

"You own my water, Xander... and me."

Xander smiled and kissed his wife.

"I love you, Buffy."

Buffy smiled at her husband and nodded.

"I love you too, Xander."


An hour later they were ready to go. Everyone had gathered in the living room and it was strangely quiet. On one side of the room sat Sister Rebekka and Healer Rianna, while on the other side sat the Scoobies... neither side speaking to the other. It was that sight that Xander and Buffy saw as they walked down the stairs.

"Are you ready to...?"

Sister Rebekka paused as she got the full effect of a completely dressed Xander... stilsuit and all. She blinked in shock and then swallowed nervously. At his shoulders were two red handprints, the mark of an elite warrior. She also noticed that he didn't carry any water counters... then noticed them around the neck of the girl, Buffy.

*Joined... they're joined... no wonder she was so possessive.*

Joyce looked at her daughter and Xander as they entered the room and spotted a glint of gold on her daughter's finger.

*A ring.. he... oh my god.. he proposed!*

It was then she noticed an identical glimmer on Xander's finger.

*Two rings... they...no way...*

Xander walked over to Sister Rebekka and nodded. He locked eyes with her and caught her attention.. then decided to make things easier by taking steps to make it so. He brought up his hands and began signing to her...

/Greetings to you, Sister. I am ready to make my journey to see my other Sisters and to pay my respects to the Mother. I must, however, make a few things known. Buffy is mated to me. She holds my water as I hold hers. I have given to her and she has given to me. The ceremony is complete. She is to be given the respect of a mate. If this doesn't happen, I will be forced to take action against the offending party. I wish for you to make this known and understood to them.../

As Xander signed, everyone watched... confused by what was going on...

/... and when we are finished, I will be returning with them. They are my family. I will, however, return to the enclave any time I am needed. Do we have a deal, Sister?/

Rebekka nodded slowly.

"Yes, Xander, we have a deal."

She turned to her friends and got to her feet.

"Let's go. Rianna.. did you make the preparations?"

Rianna nodded and stood.

"I contacted the airport and chartered a flight for us."

Rebekka nodded and turned to the Sunnydale group.

"We have a plane waiting at the airport. Are you all ready?"

One by one they nodded. Rebekka nodded.

"Fine then... we will follow you to the airport."

Giles nodded and grabbed his keys. They then moved outside and got into their respective cars and headed out... to what, they didn't know...

Part 20

Xander looked down at the water below him and smiled weakly.

*So much water... and yet you can't drink any of it.*

He stared out the airplane window and smiled at the clouds that they were now flying through.

*To be in the clouds... an amazing feeling.*

He felt someone take his hand and give it a squeeze. Seconds later he felt Buffy slide her body up against his as they sat on the soft couch-like seat.

"You ok, baby?"

Xander nodded and turned to look into the smiling face of his wife.

"I'm good... now."

He leaned toward her and kissed her lips, sucking her lower lip into his mouth, momentarily, before letting it go.

"I love you..."

Buffy crinkled her eyes and smiled back.

"I love you, too."

Xander shifted his body slightly and felt her slide more against him, melding perfectly into his arms... where she belonged. They had been in the air for close to eight hours already... and had another 8 to 10 or so to go.

"It is a long flight... to this Spain."

Buffy nodded and turned her body until her head was against his chest.

"Yeah... overseas flights take a long time... but this just gives us more alone time."

Xander looked down at his wife, then around the rest of the plane at the others, and smiled.

"Alone... yes... only we're surrounded by people, Buffy."

Buffy smiled and looked up into Xander's eyes.

"Yes, but honey.. this is our wedding night... er.. morning.. or something. I want to spend it with you... doing something that would be easy to do but embarrassing for everyone else to watch. I mean, I love these people... well, most of them... but I don't want them seeing me riding you like a wild woman."

A wicked gleam came to her eyes as she smiled.

"But I will... if you don't do something about all this, Xander."

Xander smiled and looked around. He saw that the large bathroom was free and shifted Buffy slightly. He climbed to his feet and pulled her up to join him.

"Come on, honey."

He took her hand and led her to the bathroom, catching a smile from Dawn as they walked past, and into the bathroom. It was a large room complete with a soft looking couch along one wall. Xander closed the door and locked it then smiled at his wife.

"There... now we have privacy."

Buffy laughed.

"Yes, but now they all know what we're going to be doing."

Xander nodded, unfazed.

"You were going to anyway... with them watching... so why care what they know?"

Buffy smiled and began removing her clothing.

"Good point... now strip and come here."

Xander grinned and began undressing as he walked toward her...


Joyce stared at the closed door and sighed.

*To be that age again.. so free.. so full of life... so excited in each other.*

She looked over at Giles and smiled, a feeling of love coming to her eyes.

*But then again... age has its nice points.*

Giles looked up at Joyce and winked, blowing her a kiss. Joyce smiled and giggled softly.

*I do believe I'm in love...*

Joyce smiled then winced slightly as a twinge passed through her stomach.

*Damn stomach flu... third day in a row I've felt sick... better get that Healer woman to check me if she'll do it...*


Giles looked up from his reading to see Joyce wasn't staring at him anymore. He smiled at her and then glanced over at the door.

*He's home... my boy's home... and the family is whole once more.*

Giles looked back at Joyce and sighed softly.

*This woman... this radiant woman... she holds my heart. I look at her and I see love looking back at me. She makes me smile. She makes me laugh. She makes me feel things I haven't felt... in a very long time. She's my life... and I do believe I will love her forever...*

Giles closed his eyes and played their last night together in his mind. The way she moved, reacted, moaned, screamed his name... his made him shiver in excitement.

*... and it's all for me... I feel like the luckiest man in the world.*


*... I feel like the luckiest man in the world.*

Angel looked into Cordelia's eyes as she played cards with Dawn and smiled.

*She has remained with me... through good and bad... never leaving me. She knows all my secrets. She has seen my darkness and it was her who brought me into the light. For her I became human... sure it was some prophecy, but I remained good for it.*

Cordelia looked up and brushed a stray strand of hair back away from her eyes, then glanced over at Angel. A warm smile came to her lips and she stared into his eyes lovingly. Angel felt his heart pause and he knew he was lost to her.

*Yes... Cordelia, Queen C, has tamed the beast... and the beast has never been happier...*


Cordelia smiled at Angel and closed her eyes halfway, gazing at him with a look of love bordering on lust in her eyes.

"Full House.. beat that."

Cordelia blinked, her thoughts brought back to reality and away from the wild hot sexy place they had been moments before. She looked down at Dawn's cards and then looked at her own.

"Damn it. Three of a kind."

Dawn laughed and took the small pile of money between them. Cordelia shook her head and went back to looking at her lover, Angel, while Dawn shuffled the cards.


Sister Rebekka stared at the people around her and seethed inside. They had been forced to bring them along, ordered by that woman. It made her feel weak.. and a Sister is never weak.

*I should have just taken the young man and let their thoughts or wishes be damned. It is the way. You take what you want and let them be angry if they want to be. You do not cooperate.*

She looked over at Rianna and shook her head.

*She was no help. Rianna lost her head completely over the young man. Sure, she explained it as being caught in the rush of his power level but do I really believe her. How do I know she just isn't after some hot young slab of...*

Rebekka blinked and shook her head.

*Damn it! Damn him! My thoughts betray me... I need to center myself.*

Rebekka closed her eyes and sank into meditation... but was unable to enter because of the sounds that were coming now from the bathroom...


Willow looked toward the closed bathroom door and grinned evilly.

"Buffy's finally getting some."

Tara gasped and smiled.

"Yes... let's just hope she doesn't kill our Xander in the process."

Willow nodded.

"Yes.. it's been way to long for her... way to long."

Tara smiled wider as she pictured what was happening inside... then blushed. Willow smiled smugly at the blush and laughed.

"Now who's picturing him naked..."

Tara blushed redder and ducked her head.

"Evil vixen..."

Willow crinkled her eyes and licked her lips.

"Damn right."

Just then a loud moan filled the room. Everyone looked up and as one, their eyes turned to the closed door.

"Yes... YES... to the right... my God it's so big..."

Willow covered her mouth with her hand and looked at the others.

*Oh goddess... Buffy will never live this down.*

"Unnn.... left... LEFT.... oh god...."

Giles looked at Joyce and watched the red blush rise up her neck into her cheeks.

"Ohhhh... fuck... mmm.... faster..."

Dawn's eyes widened as she listened to her sister's outburst... until Angel jumped across the seats and clamped his hands over her ears.

"Ah... ah.... AH.... Gnnngh.... harder..."

Rebekka blew out her breath angrily and glared at the closed door as Rianna giggled behind her.

"Yes... YES... OH GOD YES!!!"

All grew quiet as the sound stopped. Everyone looked at each other then back at the closed door. Angel waited a few seconds then removed his hands. Dawn smiled up at him and snickered softly, having heard all of it even though his hands.

Suddenly the door opened...


Buffy stared down into Xander's eyes, sweat dripping off her well satisfied body, and smiled the smile of a woman in love.

*My God... I feel... amazing.*

"That was so good..."

Xander nodded, a silly grin on his face.

"Never... never in my life... oh god Buffy... I had no idea it would be so good..."

Buffy giggled and kissed his nose.

"Same here, big boy."

Xander looked down at their still entwined bodies and raised an eyebrow.

"I'm big? I had no idea.."

Buffy snorted and started laughing.

"Yes.. you are... but it's a figure of speech, honey."

She climbed off of her husband, a soft grunt escaping her lips at the loss of contact, and stood up.

"Oh god... I'm sore in places that haven't been sore... ever."

She looked over at Xander as he began to clean up and smiled.

"You're so mine."

Xander looked over at his naked wife and smiled.

"Of course... who else's would I be?"

Buffy bit her lower lip in an effort to not pounce on him and start all over again wha they just completed.

"When you say things like that... you make me want to do thing to you that would keep us in here for the rest of our lives. Do you have any idea how much I love you?"

Xander looked at her; sweat dripping down her tanned, tone, naked body and smiled.

"Almost as much as I love you."

Buffy closed her eyes and smiled... savoring the moment... then opened them and began getting cleaned up. As she finished and was getting dressed, a thought came to her mind.

*I wonder if anyone heard us...*

She looked over at Xander and saw he was ready. She straightened her skirt then moved to open the door. As they stepped out into the main room, they were shocked by the thunderous applause that came to them. Every eye was on them as they all clapped. Buffy blushed red and buried her head into Xander's chest.

"I guess they heard you, honey."

Buffy nodded and looked up into her husband's eyes.

"I'm never going to live this down... am I?"

Xander shook his head as he walked them back to their seats. He looked over at Willow and Tara who were staring at him.


Willow smiled evilly and looked down at Xander's waist... then back into his eyes. Just then, Dawn ran over and plopped down next to him.

"So... how big are you really? Are we talking big.. oh my god he's got a snake in there?"


Dawn looked around at everyone and blushed slightly.

"What?! You were all thinking it."

Xander smiled at Dawn and laughed.

"Ask Giles... he knows."

Giles blushed red and groaned as Joyce grinned evilly at him.

"Are you trying to seduce my son-in-law, Rupert?"

Giles shook his head strongly... then paused as the words sank in... around the same time as everyone else.


Part 21

The plane touched down gently and came to a halt next to a good-sized airport. The stairs lowered and one by one they emerged onto the pavement. As they gathered together, waiting for their luggage to be unloaded, Sister Rebekka stepped over to Xander and pulled him aside.

"We will travel overland to the enclave once we have everything. I have already arranged for transportation for us and it should be waiting in the parking lot. The enclave is 2 hours to the southeast of here and once we arrive... you will not speak unless spoken to... this is..."

Xander raised a hand and shook his head.

"You're not talking to some lowly novice, Sister. I am a full member of the Bene Gesserit. I have been trained for years and tested by the elder members of the Sisterhood on Gallach. I know my place and how I am to act. Don't even think about continuing the line of speech you were using, for to do so would be rude and would anger me. Please refrain from believing you are the one in control here, Sister, for you are not."

Rebekka glared at Xander and her eyes darkened in anger.

"You think you know what you are, what you're doing.. you have no idea. I have been a sister for close to 15 years. I know more than you could ever hope to know. Do not ever talk to me like that again."

Xander stared down at the woman before him and nodded slowly.

"I apologize, Sister, for my impertinence... and for my reaction to your tone."

Rebekka heard his emphases on the word 'tone' and realized she might have come off a little bad after all.

"Understood... now... gather your people... please."

Xander nodded and moved back to the group.


"Ok, everyone, grab your luggage and form a line. We will be moving swiftly to the parking lot where transportation is waiting for us. Where we are going, you must be very careful what you touch and never, I repeat, never eat anything given to you. Most assuredly everything will be laced with Spice."

Xander moved over and picked up Buffy's bags before he moved toward the parking lot. Dawn looked at Xander and frowned.

"Why are you carrying Buffy's bags? She's strong enough to carry them herself. Make her lazy ass do it."

Xander stopped and turned to Dawn.

"It is a husband's duty to do what is best for his wife. Buffy is my wife. Yes she is strong and independent... but she is also my wife. I love her and if I choose to carry her belongings for her, then I will... unless she tells me not to."

He turned to Buffy, who was blushing.

"Do you?"

Buffy shook her head and smiled.

"I don't mind, honey, you can carry them for me."

Xander nodded and turned back to Dawn.

"You see.. she is ok with this. I would hope that you refrain from any further attempts to disrupt this journey, Dawn. You are my little sister, now, and I love you too... but I will not have you doing anything to undermine your sister, my wife, in any way."

Dawn paled and nodded, looking down at her feet. She was ashamed of the way she had acted and was upset about the talking to she had just received. Xander sighed and moved to her, kissing her cheek.

"I'm sorry I was angry with you, Dawn... but you do see why?"

Dawn nodded and looked up into his eyes.

"Yes.. I see."

Xander nodded and smiled, then looked over at Joyce as she was about to pick up the largest of her bags. He noticed the paleness to her skin and the slightly green pallor and felt something was... off. A quick scan of her biology showed him what was wrong.

"Mom... stop."

Joyce paused, a stunned look on her face.


Xander walked over to her and stared at her.

"Don't lift anything heavier than your smallest case. It wouldn't be a good idea... in your condition."

He turned to Giles and smiled.

"Congratulations on your addition."

Xander smiled and walked back over to Buffy as everyone stared at Joyce in shock.

"You mean... I'm going to... I'm... oh god."

Joyce turned green and spun around to vomit. Giles stared at her and nodded, slowly understanding.

"This explains so much... the morning vomiting, the strange mood swings, the way you wanted hot peppers with your chocolate ice cream the other night."

Joyce wiped her mouth and turned to Giles. He was smiling, a glow in his eyes.

"I'm going to be a daddy..."

Joyce smiled then turned and vomited again.

"Oh God... more months of this..."

Giles smiled and moved over to his love's side to hold back her hair.

"This is wonderful. We need to pick out a name... oh, and prenatal vitamins... and baby clothes... and we'll get married, of course... and I'll write Evan in London about applying to all the best schools for University..."

Joyce looked up at Giles and rolled her eyes before her stomach heaved again.

*The poor idiot... so excited... God I love him so much...*

Xander looked back over at the others, who were finally ready, and nodded when Joyce seemed stable. He then led them across the runway to the parking lot and the three SUV's waiting...

Part 22

Deep within the confines of the Bene Gesserit enclave, great machinery came to life as the latest report was received. The tachyon burst was decoded and then directed to the main terminal in the communications room. Novice Alicia glanced up as the computers signaled download complete.

*A new update... so soon.*

Alicia walked over and pulled up the information. As the lines appeared on the screen, something drew her attention.

*A new Emperor... and... oh my god...*

Alicia backed away from the terminal and ran down the halls to the main chamber. She had to notify the council immediately.

"Reverend Mother!!"

Reverend Mother Felice Welin looked up as the Novice entered.

"Yes child?"

Alicia came to a stop before the Reverend Mother and curtseyed.

"An update... from Gallach, Reverend Mother. You need to see it."

Felice frowned and pulled up the information on her terminal.

"Battle on Arrakis... Fremen invade Imperial Palace... new Emperor Paul Mua'dib Attredies... son of Duke Leto Attredies and Reverend Mother Jessica... accompanied by..."

Felice paused, her eyes wide with shock. She turned to the side of her chair and pressed an alarm button. Within seconds, close to a dozen Reverend Mothers had entered the room.

"What is going on, Felice?"

Felice turned to the eldest among them, Reverend Mother Angelica De'argen, and swallowed.

"Pull up the latest update on your terminal... wait.."

Felice pulled up the information on the large main terminal then turned to look at it with the others. A gasp of shock filled the room as they read the words they never believed they would ever see.

"Emperor Paul Mua'dib Attredies... the Kwizats Hadderack... accompanied by his Bene Gesserit... Brother."

Reverend Mother Delila Sasqui trembled and turned to the nearest terminal to pull up the Chronicle.

"Dear lord.. it's true. There is a Kwizats Hadderack in the universe... and..."

She pulled up the list of new additions to the Sisterhood and ran through the list franticly.

"... novices... advanced... sisters... ah... sponsored by Reverend Mother Jessica and Reverend Mother Ramallo (Deceased)... Brother Xander, the first Male Bene Gesserit... see attached file."

Felice pulled up the file on the main screen and read.

"Let it be known that the unfathomable has occurred. My son, Paul, drank the Water of Life and passed within. He returned and was transformed... but when this transformation occurred, something just as amazing happened. Myself and my daughter, Alia, felt the change and a nosebleed was the result. Every member of the Sisterhood in our area of known space experienced this bodily abnormality... as did one other person... young Xander. Chani, my son's wife, will continue with her first hand knowledge of the event..."

The file paused then began again.

"I am Chani, daughter of Liet. I accompanied Paul and Xander when Paul drank the Water of Life. While he was changing, blood seeped from the corners of Paul's eyes... but it was the drops of blood landing onto the sand next to me that drew my attention to Xander. I looked up and gasped in terror. Blood was pouring from his nose, completely coating his mouth and chin. I didn't know what to think at the time, but when we returned... I discovered that Reverend Mother Jessica and her daughter, Alia, had experienced the same event. This disturbed them greatly and they took Xander away for many hours. When they returned... the look of fear in Xander's eyes... I had never seen that look in his eyes, ever... but it was nothing compared to the terror in the Reverend Mother's eyes..."

The members of the Sisterhood reading the file looked at each other in shock as the file continued.

"After the battle, Xander left with Reverend Mother Jessica. What happened then is to her to recount."

The file paused... as it shifted to Jessica's account of what happened.

"I took Xander to Gallach. There I had him sent through the trials... and he passed. He was brought before the High Council and they finished the examination. Xander, by some quirk of genetics or destiny, was a male Bene Gesserit. He was accepted into the Sisterhood and placed within the Chronicles... to be known as Xander, son of Liet, first Brother of the Bene Gesserit, General of the Fedaykin, Dark Whirlwind of the Desert, Guardian of the Sacred Waters, Avenging Angel of the Fremen."

A listing of every battle he had been in was shown with death numbers that were staggering. Then there was one final entry... from the High Council itself.

"The worst thing possible has happened. During an attack on the Emperor, there was an accident. Brother Xander... is gone, vanished in a cloud of Melange Gas from a ruptured Guild Navigator tank. He was traced to an unknown planet somewhere in the universe. This is an all points alert to every enclave. If you find him... take care that he lives... so that the breeding program can continue. His life is more precious than anything. He must be found alive..."

The screen went black at that moment... then lit up again as a picture of Xander was shown; recorded at the time of his being added to the Chronicles. Felice stared at the image and her eyes widened in shock.

"Be aware, Sisters. I believe this young man is the one we sent Rebekka to examine... the very one she is returning with at this moment. If so... we must make absolutely sure that he does not leave this enclave... ever. The breeding program is paramount. Any obstacle that gets in our way must be dealt with. I want all of you to watch and protect this young man... no matter what."

They turned and looked at the image, locking it into their minds, all of them determined to keep him at the enclave...


Xander stared out the window of the SUV and glanced up at the sky. He was on his home world... but yet at the same time, felt his home was elsewhere.

*Paul... Chani... Alia... Mother... I hope you are all ok...*

He felt someone take his hand. Figuring it was his wife, Xander squeezed and pulled the someone against his side. He then looked down to see... Dawn. Xander blinked in shock then smiled and kissed the top of her head.

"You ok?"

Dawn looked up at Xander, then glanced over at Buffy... who was talking to their mother.

"Yeah... I'm ok. I'm just nervous. We're going someplace to see people who might not be too happy about you... if they're anything like the Ice Bitch."

Xander smiled and nodded. He, too, disliked Sister Rebekka.

"I have seen many of the Sisterhood, Dawn, and many of them are like Sister Rebekka... but then again, there are many who are like my mother. I met a few, in the short time I was there, who were gentle and kind to me. I can only hope that the ones here have at least one or two who are as kind."

He took a breath and closed his eyes as a small tremor of pain washed through his body. It took a minute to pass, but in that time... tiny beads of sweat had formed on his face, unnoticed by everyone.

"I'll just be glad to get there and get things under control again."

Xander smiled at Dawn and then turned back to the window as another stab of pain flowed through his body.

*Going into withdraw... too early... just hope I can last long enough to get there before I pass out...*

Xander ground his teeth together and took in a breath as the pain passed... then went back to looking out the window, wishing they could hurry.


At the enclave, those on guard scanned the treeline for any invaders. Suddenly, from the fire trail, a small group of SUV's emerged. The guard sounded the alarm and moved into position to watch the approach.


"We're here... be ready for anything and let me do all of the talking."

Rebekka stared at everyone and then got out of the SUV as it came to a stop before the large gates. She walked up to the guards and ordered them to stand down. The gates opened and novices emerged to greet Rebekka. Xander stepped out and looked around... then turned as he heard the gasp from the crowd of young teenage girls.

"Sister Rebekka... is this..."

Xander had been moving toward the group as he spoke.. then stopped as he felt something inside him shift in a way that was instantly understood to him as wrong. He groaned and his eyes rolled back in his head as he fell to the ground, blood trickling from his nose, ears and the corners of his eyes.


Sound faded as his mind left him and the blackness overtook him...



Buffy screamed in terror and ran to her husband as he fell to the ground. She managed to catch him before he hit the stone walkway and carefully lowered him to the ground.

"Xander... wake up.. sweetie..."

She rolled him over and screamed at the blood pouring out of his face from various locations. She looked up at Rebekka, tears in her eyes, and pleaded with her.

"Do something... please..."

Rebekka felt her heart stop and her steps stumbled.

*Dear God no.. please no...*

She rushed to Buffy's side and helped her pick him up.

"Inside.. quickly... to the Infirmary, now!"

Buffy nodded and gently helped carry Xander inside... not knowing if her husband would live to see the next day...

Part 23

Shock and horror were the order of the day as their newest link to the Sisterhood lay deep within a coma in the Enclave's Infirmary. Healers moved around Xander's body, doing their best to stabilize him enough to introduce enough Melange into his system to have him awaken. They were half in shock, half in almost blind panic. None of them had had to deal with the level of spice addiction that they knew Xander was under now... and this fact terrified them. They were doing everything they could... but would it be enough.


Buffy paced back and forth in the small room. The others watched her as she moved from one side of the room to the other, like a caged animal.

"Why aren't they telling me anything?!"

Rebekka stared at Buffy... then glanced over at the doors. She knew that she could go and request the information... but it would be a possible slight against her elders. It was better to wait... even though the wait was torture, even for her.

*The young man has a way of getting under your skin. If we lose him... Buffy just might lose all control.*

She looked back at Buffy and took a deep breath.

"Buffy... they are the best ones to deal with this. They know what they are doing. Have faith in them... for they will not let him die."

Buffy stopped pacing and turned to stare Rebekka in the face.

"How do you know this?!"

Rebekka lowered her eyes as she brought to mind a memory.

"I have seen something... similar. In that instance, everyone with any measure of healing talent was brought in... just in case. Everyone who needs to be here, is here, so be assured Buffy that he will be well taken care of."

Buffy rolled her eyes and stared up at the ceiling.

"Can you do something... anything... to get some kind of information from them?"

Rebekka stood and nodded.

"I can try."

She turned and walked to the doors.

"Remain here."

Rebekka then opened the doors and walked into the darkened hallway beyond.


Xander floated silently in an orange misty place. As he floated, he could see a soft blue light to his left and a soft green light to his right. Xander moved toward the blue light and as he neared it he could make out images of himself in the mist... images from his past. He saw his childhood - meeting Willow, being beaten by his father, meeting Jesse, being beaten some more by his father, starting middle school, more beatings, starting high school, yet more beating, meeting Buffy, the night of the attack.

*I... I remember now... I'm Alexander LaVelle Harris... I remember everything now.*

He turned and looked over at the green light and wondered what it might be. Xander sighed and moved toward it... watching as images from his time on Arrakis appeared. He watched it all... remembering. His life as a Fremen... total and complete. As he looked closer, he suddenly realized where he was. He had, as Jessica had put it, gone within.


Nothing... just silence in the mist. Xander took a deep breath and reached out with his mind.



Light-years away, Emperor Paul Mua'dib sat meditating on an upcoming meeting of the Laansrahd. His mind was within and was focused on his needs... when suddenly he heard something.

"... paul..."

Paul reached out in all directions and felt a tiny flicker of light in the great distance. He reached out toward the light and heard the voice again.


Paul moved toward the light until he saw a dim figure floating far across the mist.



Xander saw a robed figure in the far distance approach and then heard an answering voice call across the void.


Xander smiled.

"Paul! It's me! I'm alive... or I was."

He moved closer as the figure did the same... until they were the distance of a football field from each other. It seemed that was as close as they could get.

"What happened?"

Xander shrugged.

"I'm back home... but the Melange gas really messed me up. I think I'm in full withdrawal. All I remember is screaming out in pain... then everything went black and I appeared here."

Paul winced, his eyes widening in terror.

"You need spice.. fast!"

Xander nodded.

"I am in a Sisterhood enclave. For some reason there is one here. I assume they will take care of me. I don't know for sure though."

Paul nodded, relaxing some.

"Yes. Mother told me you are in the Chronicles. They have to help you... it's part of their laws."

Xander smiled.

"Good... oh, and I remember now. I arrived here and found my memories. I remember both sides of myself. I am the Xander you remember... Xander, son of Liet, first Brother of the Bene Gesserit, General of the Fedaykin, Dark Whirlwind of the Desert, Guardian of the Sacred Waters, Avenging Angel of the Fremen... but I am also Alexander LaVelle Harris, follower of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think I'm both now... because I remember both lives clearly."

Paul smiled and laughed.

"Wonderful, Xander, I am so glad you regained your memory. Mother, Chani and Alia will be so pleased."

At mention of their names, Xander felt a twinge of pain.

"Paul... can you tell them... that I love them and miss them... for me?"

Paul nodded and smiled.

"I will do so when I return."

Just then a flash of light filled the room and Paul smiled. They had just injected Melange into Xander's bloodstream.

"You'll be waking up soon. When you awaken... don't forget us."

Xander felt a pull on his mind and nodded.

"I'll miss you, brother!"

Paul nodded and felt a tear fall as he saw Xander growing transparent.

"... and I you, brother. Farewell!"

Xander faded away and was gone. Paul waited a moment longer then returned to his body. He had some wonderful news to tell his family...


Rianna removed the needle and set it aside.

"Ok.. that's the last injection. That should be enough to awaken him. Once he is awake, we can get him taking the Melange orally."

Rianna wiped the blood from Xander's face and felt him take in a deep breath of air. Seconds later, his eyes flickered and moved as he neared awakening.

"It's working... notify the Elders."

A novice nodded and ran out of the room as Rianna moved to signal the waiting room. As she touched the button and was about to press the intercom, Rebekka entered and caught her off guard.


Rebekka looked over at Xander and frowned.

"How is he?"

Rianna smiled.

"He is awakening. I was just about to notify everyone."

Rebekka smiled and moved over to Xander. She brushed a strand of his long hair out of his eyes and then turned to Rianna.

"I will tell them. When he awakens completely... please do a blood test on him. I would like to know why he went into withdrawal so quickly."

Rianna nodded and watched Rebekka as she turned and left the room.


A few minutes later, Rebekka walked into the waiting room with a smile on her face. Buffy rushed over to her, a pleading expression on her fearful face.

"Is he?"

Rebekka smiled.

"He's awakening. He's going to be fine."

Buffy sighed and collapsed into a boneless heap on the floor. Rebekka stared in shock for a moment then moved to help the others in the room lift and carry her to one of the comfortable couches.

"She's probably in shock... its been hard on her."

Rebekka looked at Joyce and nodded.

"Yes... very... I can imagine."

She looked down at Buffy and smiled.

"Let her rest. When Xander is fully awake, I will come back and we can awaken her then."

With that said, she turned and walked out of the room... leaving behind her a much happier group.

Part 24

Light came first and with it... sound. Xander opened his eyes and stared up at a metallic ceiling. He could hear the hum of machinery and someone in the room breathing and walking about. He blinked a few times and took a weak breath... catching the attention of the person watching him.

"You're awake."

A kind looking woman of about 40 appeared above him and smiled down at him.

"How are you feeling?"

Xander thought about it for a moment.

"Sore... and tingly all over."

The woman nodded and glanced over at a nearby machine.

"You seem to be coming along nicely now.... but we need to get you on Melange soon."

Xander nodded and tried to sit up. The woman moved to his side and helped him into a sitting position.

"Easy now..."

Xander nodded and felt his stomach grumble. He smirked and turned to the woman.

"Can I start now?"

The woman nodded and handed Xander a small box.

"This will get you started. We are organizing a more concentrated version for your own private use, but it isn't ready as of yet."

Xander nodded and pulled out a piece of spice candy, popping it into his mouth. It dissolved almost instantly on his tongue... the spicy cinnamon flavor filling his mouth bringing with it a rush of clarity to his mind.

"I needed that..."

Xander swallowed and then quickly ate three more pieces before climbing to his feet. He glanced down at himself and was pleased to see that he was still in his stilsuit and clothing. He shoved the box into a pocket of his cloak and took a few tentative steps.

"When can I see my family?"

The woman smiled and motioned to the door.

"Anytime. I believe there is someone waiting for you just outside."

She moved to the door and opened it to reveal... Sister Rebekka.


Xander blinked in surprise as Sister Rebekka moved to embrace him... then back away in embarrassment. Xander smiled and grinned... a perfect old Xander grin.

"Gee Sister... I didn't know you cared."

Rebekka glared at Xander as his grin widened.


Xander held up his hands and laughed.

"Can I go see the others now?"

Rebekka nodded and motioned for him to follow her.


Buffy stared at the door, willing it to open. She had awakened minutes earlier and was still slightly dizzy.

*Open... open... come on, open up already and bring me my Xander...*

Dawn sat down next to her and took her hand. Buffy looked over at her sister and smiled.

"Hey... you ok?"

Buffy nodded and brushed Dawn's hair off her face.

"I'm fine, Dawnie... just worried."

Dawn nodded.

"Xander's strong... he'll be ok."

She looked down at the floor then smiled.

"What was it like?"

Buffy frowned, confused.

"What was what like?"

Dawn looked up into Buffy's eyes.

"On the plane... with Xander... you know."

Buffy nodded and smiled.


She sighed happily and smiled.

"It was... everything I wanted it to be."

Dawn smiled and leaned her head on Buffy's shoulder.

"You love him so much... don't you?"

Buffy reached up and began to stroke Dawn's hair.

"Yes, I do, more than anything. He means so much to me. I don't know what I would do if I ever lost him again."

Dawn looked up into her sister's eyes and in that second made a silent vow.

*No matter what... I'm going to make sure Xander always comes back to you Buffy.*

Dawn looked around the room, taking in the expressions of everyone's faces. Her mom and Giles were huddled close together, holding on to each other. They both loved Xander as if he were their own child. She knew this and had since she was little. Xander had always been... family.

*He's their son... in their hearts if not their blood... and this is hurting them as much as it is Buffy and I.*

Her eyes traveled on to Willow and Tara. They were talking quietly to each other, holding hands. Dawn could see the love they shared for each other shining in their eyes.

*If Xander belongs to anyone else... it would be Willow. I can imagine what she's feeling as well.*

Dawn continued on to Angel and Cordelia and smiled. Angel was braiding Cordelia's hair and grimacing at the same time. Dawn wondered how Cordy had managed to get him to do that... then nodded to herself when she saw Angel lovingly stroke Cordy's cheek.

*Cordy and Angel... the ex's, sorta. They understood it back then... even before anyone else... and fate brought them together.*

Dawn smirked.

*Well... fate and a certain cute brunette who shall remain nameless...*

Just then, the door opened and all eyes moved in its direction...


Xander stood at the door and took a deep breath. He knew everything he had forgotten before and was slightly nervous about going inside. He knew so much more now that he didn't before. Before... he was kind of naive about things. He was married to Buffy... and that fact alone was enough to make him want to do the Snoopy Dance in the hallway... but he needed to remain calm.

*Ok Xander... you can do this.*

He reached out and opened the door, stepping inside the room. Almost instantly, a blonde blur slammed against him.

"Baby... oh thank god you're ok."

Xander looked down at Buffy in his arms and half-grinned... then heard a gasp come from someone across the room. He looked up to see a look of recognition in Willow's eyes. Xander raised an eyebrow and winked at her. Her eyes widened and then she did something that those present would remember for years. She squealed.


Willow ran to him quickly and slid against his side, tears flowing down her face.

"Hey Wills... don't cry... I'm ok now. Nothing's going to keep me from my girls ever again."

Buffy pulled slightly away and looked up in confusion at her husband.


Xander nodded and smirked.

"Hey Buff... what's the what?"

Before she could respond, someone beat her to it.

"Oh my god... he's back!"

Xander laughed and looked across the room at the one who spoke.

"Yes... nailed it in one, Queen C. I'm back, Cor."

He smiled widely and let his eyes travel from person to person.

"Dawn Patrol... looking all grown up on me... and so pretty. G-Man... what, no tweed? Mrs. S... or is it Mom now... I wonder what the wedding will be like."

Joyce smiled as Giles blushed red. Xander smirked and continued on.

"Deadboy...or should that be the artist formerly known as Deadboy. What the hell happened to you?"

Angel started to speak but Xander shook his head.

"Later... we can talk later."

Angel nodded as Xander continued.

"Tara... you're new for me... but I can see you make my Willow happy... so that makes you cool in my book. Welcome to the family. Expect to be initiated sometime soon."

Tara blinked in shock and turned to Willow. Willow smiled and nodded.

"It's ok... that's just Xander's way of making you welcome... and don't worry, he's just going to show you the proper way to eat a Twinkie."

Xander frowned and pouted.

"Aww... you spoiled it."

Everyone laughed as Xander walked Buffy to a nearby couch. She was staring at him in shock, her jaw down.


Xander looked into her eyes.

"How did I get my memory back?"

She nodded. Xander smiled and explained.

"I went within..."

Sister Rebekka gasped and backed away... then ran out of the room. Xander winced and watched her leave.

*Damn... going to pay for that one now.*

He sighed and continued.

"... and while I was there. I found where my memory had been sent to. As soon as I found it, it dispersed itself back where it came from. I remember my life here... and also my life there. It's a little confusing... but I know a hell of a lot of stuff now that makes me think, with my Bene Gesserit training, I'm probably almost as fast as a Slayer now."

He glanced up at the shocked looks on everyone's faces and turned to Giles.

"Can you check me out sometime?"

Giles nodded.

"I'd be happy to, Xander."

Xander nodded and looked back down at his wife.

"You know something Buff?"

Buffy smiled.


Xander grinned and kissed her.

"This is what I always wanted most in my life. Thank you for loving me."

Tears formed in her eyes as Buffy smiled and kissed her husband back. For once, everyone was happy. Little did they know that their happiness would be short-lived.


Sister Rebekka ran into the main council chambers and came to a halt before the Elders. They turned to her and nodded.

"Yes Rebekka?"

Sister Rebekka took a breath and swallowed hard.

"I have news... about Xander."

They nodded.

"What news? He is awake?"

Rebekka nodded.

"Yes... and I have learned what awakened him."

She paused and her face fell, a look of almost fear replacing her normal features.

"Xander... went within."

The Elders backed away, their eyes wide with shock at the news.

"Is he...?"

Rebekka shook her head.

"I don't know. If he is... then he is hiding it."

The Elders spoke to each other quietly then nodded.

"Have him and his people brought to us. We must get to the bottom of this."

Rebekka nodded and ran out of the room. As soon as she was gone, the Elders sighed.

"If this has happened... we must be prepared for the worst. We cannot let him leave... ever."

Part 25

Rebekka walked up to the closed door and stared at it.

*Brace yourself. If he has changed... then he will sense anything false coming from me. I need to be as convincing as I can. I need to bring him before the Elders... that much is true. If I say no more than that... it might work.*

She opened the door and stepped inside.


The door opened and Xander looked up. Sister Rebekka entered and moved toward him. Xander felt something... off... about her.

"Xander... I've been asked to bring you and your guests to the main chambers. The Elders wish to see you."

Xander nodded, staring at her.

*She's hiding something...*

He climbed to his feet and took Buffy's hand.

"We had better see what they want."

Slowly everyone nodded and they followed Rebekka, as a group, toward the main chambers. As they entered, Xander spotted the three women and bowed. The one in the center nodded and motioned for him to step forward.

"Welcome Xander. We have been... surprised by your arrival and your importance to the Sisterhood. We have much to discuss with you... but we must get the formalities taken care of first. For the record, state your full name as recorded in the chronicle."

Buffy stared at Xander as the old woman spoke. When she asked... no, ordered... him to state his full name, Xander seemed to stiffen slightly.

"I am Xander, son of Liet, first Brother of the Bene Gesserit... General of the Fedaykin... Dark Whirlwind of the Desert... Guardian of the Sacred Waters... Avenging Angel of the Fremen..."

Xander spoke his name slowly... pausing between titles... giving a sense of power to those listening. Buffy looked at her husband with a gleam of pride in her eyes. She was so proud that he had accomplished so much.

"Thank you... and now, your battle record."

As Xander swallowed and started from the beginning, Buffy listened intently and felt her eyes widen in shock at what she heard.

"... 349 killed at the Battle of Staril Station, 1008 killed at the Battle for Planet Arax, 214 killed during the assault on Geide Prime..."

Xander went on and on, a wave of shock passing through first Buffy... then the others... as the death number went up and up. They were in shock. This was Xander, goofy clumsy Xander... not some killing machine.

"... and then two Face Dancers on Kaitain. Everything from then on isn't recorded."

Xander watched the Elders nod and then noticed that his side felt... colder. He glanced to his right and saw Buffy backing away from him, a look of disgust on her face.

"Buff... you ok?"

Buffy shook her head.

"You killed people, Xander."

Xander blinked and nodded.

"Yes, I did. It was war, Buffy, people die in wars. You choose a side and you fight... you kill... or you die."

Buffy shook her head.

"It's not like that, Xander. You don't kill innocent people..."

Xander shook his head, interrupting her.

"Innocent... INNOCENT!"

Xander glared at her and moved toward her as she continued to back away. Willow moved to stop him but felt Giles grab her arm and shake his head no.

"They weren't innocent, Buffy! They killed, raped and mutilated everyone on my side. They took people... MY people... and did things to them that would make you scream in terror for the rest of your life. They killed children, babies Buffy.. and they laughed while doing it. I didn't kill people... I killed monsters!"

Buffy shook her head.

"They were human, Xander. You don't kill humans. You only kill demons and things that aren't human."

Xander growled and moved closer to her.

"Only things not human... well Buffy, I'm not human, not any more. I'm so far above human that my DNA has probably changed by now..."

He glanced at one of the Elders and she nodded in agreement. Xander turned back to Buffy, his eyes blazing, and stalked toward her.

"What are you going to do? You going to kill me, Buffy? You said you only kill non-humans... and that's me."

Shaking in fear and confusion, Buffy stumbled away from Xander... her eyes wide with shock.


Xander shook his head.

"No Buffy. You don't get it. It's not like you see it. Everything isn't black and white, good and evil, human and demon. There are gray areas... and there are pink, blue and green areas. You have no concept of what I lived through, Buffy. I had people wanting me dead, just because I lived on a planet and was a Fremen. They didn't care that I was smart, or strong, or could build things, or sing, or whatever. They saw me as scum. It was genocide, Buffy... the complete and total annihilation of all life on my planet."

Xander moved closer to Buffy, his voice hard and cold.

"It was them or me, Buffy. When it comes down to it, in the heat of battle, you have to choose. Do you fight and kill those attacking you... or do you let them kill you, enabling them to move on and rape, maim, or kill someone else. I made a choice. I chose to protect the women in my tribe, their sons and daughters, the little babies that smiled up at me when I'd walk past. I did it for them... and I'd gladly do it again."

Buffy shuddered in disgust.

"That's monsterous, Xander. Those people had souls. They may have done terrible things, but that doesn't give you a right to murder them... like an inhuman monster."

Xander glared at her and in that instant felt any love for the blonde woman before him shatter into dust.

"You really see me as a monster? Well then, Buffy, you shouldn't have to live with one. What I told you earlier, what we did... it means nothing to me. Consider it null and void!"

With that said, Xander turned back to the Elders and bowed.

"I'm sorry for the disturbance, Honored Mothers. I hope that I will be permitted to partake of my allotment of Melange from this enclave."

The Elders looked at each other then the one in the middle looked down at Xander and nodded.

"You will be shown to a room and it will be brought to you."

Xander nodded.

"Thank you, Mother."

He looked at the others and saw the distrust and fear in their eyes.

"Can quarters be provided for my... guests?"

Rebekka saw the Elders nod and moved to Xander's side. She understood where the outburst had come from and was shocked to see their close-mindedness over it.

"I can take you to your rooms."

She looked at Xander and before she could say anything, Xander shook his head, glanced over at Buffy with a look of sheer hatred in his eyes and signed to Rebekka silently and quickly.

/I'd like a separate room please. I do not wish to be anywhere near... her./

Rebekka nodded.

/I understand./

She glanced at Buffy and hissed under her breath, then moved to Xander's side... looking him in the eyes.

"Follow me please."

Rebekka moved out of the room and down some stairs. Xander followed after her... then was followed as well by the others... some distance behind him.


Rebekka opened the first door and motioned to Joyce and Giles. They nodded and entered. Rebekka then gave a room to Willow and Tara, Cordy and Angel, then opened the last door and motioned to Buffy and Dawn.

"This will be your room."

Buffy looked inside and saw the two beds and frowned.

"We can't all share this room..."

Rebekka shook her head.

"You're not. You and your sister have this room. Xander is staying elsewhere."

With that said, she turned and led Xander off down the hallway, leaving a shocked Buffy behind them. Once they were out of sight, Xander sighed and let his shoulders slump.

"Thank you, Sister."

Rebekka nodded and motioned to another door.

"In here, Xander."

She opened the door and stepped into the room. It was a nice size with a bed and a desk and what looked like tea service set up on a small table. Xander walked over to the table and sniffed the aroma coming from the teapot.

"Spice tea... just like Chani used to make... thank you."

Rebekka nodded, a smile on her lips.

"I am sorry for their... ignorance. I know how you felt about ... her."

Xander sighed and nodded.

"I'm sorry, Sister, for making a disturbance. I had no idea she would view me and my life with such... single-mindedness... and disgust."

Xander turned and looked at the woman before him.

"They just don't understand. They can't understand that sometimes people are just as evil as demons. Buffy has this perfect view of the world... very black and white... or at least she used to. She can't see that sometimes there are just things you have to do."

Rebekka nodded, understanding completely.

"Perhaps you don't belong with them..."

Xander looked down at his feet and sighed.

"... perhaps. Perhaps you're right. Perhaps it was stupid to think that she could ever see me as..."

He yawned slightly and Rebekka smiled.

"You need to rest. Have some tea then take a nap. You'll feel better later."

Xander nodded.

"Thank you Sister."

Rebekka smiled then left the room. Xander walked over and grabbed the teapot, his mind troubled. He poured the liquid, without looking, then drank the entire cup in one swallow. His mouth and sinuses were suddenly filled with the taste and aroma of concentrated cinnamon. It was then his eyes widened in shock. He choked and stared down at the cup. Instead of a soft orange tea... was a thicker blue-green liquid, a liquid he had seen before.

*Spice Essence!*

Xander dropped the cup and backed away from the table. As the cup shattered on the floor, he fell to the ground... his eyes wide open and glazed over as the drug flooded his mind...


A hand closed the panel and then backed away into the crawlspace.

"Step One... complete."

Part 26

The door closed and Dawn spun on Buffy.

"How could you! How could you do that to him! You treated him like dirt!"

Buffy stared at her sister in shock and blinked a few times before a frown crossed her face.

"Shut up, Dawn! He killed people... you don't kill people... otherwise you're just as bad as them."

Dawn shook her head and moved closer to her sister.

"Didn't you listen to him? He was in the middle of a war. You kill people in war. Don't you remember grandpa's stories? He said he killed people while he fought. Does that make him a monster too?"

Buffy shook her head, her mind not allowing her to understand. The Slayer saw things in black and white, good and evil... with demons being the only thing evil. People were to be protected... not killed.

"Are you that stupid as to believe that someone who kills someone else, in self-defense or in a war, is evil?"

Buffy stared at the ground as she backed away and sat down on the bed... not answering Dawn. Dawn sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Fine! Don't talk to me! I'm going to go find Xander."

She glared at Buffy then turned and left the room leaving a stunned Slayer behind.


"I just can't understand or believe it..."

Joyce stared at Giles as he paced back and forth across the room.

"What's to understand? The boy was in the middle of a war. You do what you have to do without asking why... or you die. It's that simple, love."

Joyce stared at her lover and shook her head.

"I understand all that, honey. My father was in the war and told me all about how terrible it was. What I'm getting at is that Xander didn't seem sorry or bothered by it. Shouldn't he feel... remorse?"

Giles stopped pacing and walked over to Joyce. Bending down until he was face to face with her, he caressed her face.

"Joyce... from the way Xander's commander... this Paul... is described; it's as if he is a religious leader of sorts. Xander might have been in a jihad... a holy war. If that is the case, considering how he said it was the genocide of his people, he would see fighting as fulfilling his pact with his God. Remorse wouldn't be a part of his psyche. He did what he was told was right."

Joyce stared into her lover's eyes and nodded. She could see that viewpoint. She didn't agree with it completely...but she could understand it.

"I just hope this doesn't ruin everything for them."

Giles nodded.

"I think it already has. Xander seems to have denied what happened between them... if I understood it correctly."

Giles sighed.

"Buffy can be very stubborn... and I doubt that Xander will make the first move to discuss this. They are probably broken up now, maybe even might be considered not married anymore. This may go on for some time."

Joyce nodded and smiled at Giles placed a hand on her belly.

"We won't make their mistake, love. You and I are going to be together... forever... and this young one will be in a happy home... no matter what I have to do to it."

Joyce smiled and kissed Giles then wrapped her arms around him.

"Thank you... for everything."


"She has lost her mind... just completely lost her mind."

Cordy looked at the door and sighed.

"He's Xander... so what if he killed all those people. He was in a war, right?"

Angel nodded.

"... and you kill people in war?"

Angel nodded again.

"... then why can't little miss perfect slayer get that through her thick skull?"

Angel shrugged.

"I think its all part of that Slayer instinct; the whole kill evil and protect human life thing."

Cordy stared at her finance and shook her head.

"Well... that's stupid. She's going to lose him over that... and there's no one to pick up the pieces. I'm with you... and Willow is with Tara. There's Dawn... but she's too young... so Xander's screwed."

Angel nodded.


Cordy nodded to herself.

"You like him... that's why you're Mr. Broody again... right?"

Angel nodded.

"He's matured. He doesn't bother me anymore... and this is going to hurt him. I don't want him feeling that pain."

Cordy moved over and sat down next to Angel on the bed.

"Me either, sweetie, me either."


Dawn stared down the hall, looking first left than right, then chose a direction and took off. She walked down the hall, peeking in each room as she passed, looking for Xander's room.


Xander's body lay on the floor of his room. His eyes were glazed and his pupils were fixed and dilated. His body twitched and a thin gloss of sweat covered all of his exposed skin. Inside his mind, however, it was a different story...


Xander floated in the mist, his eyes closed, as his body shook with the energy of the pure spice essence. It was flooding his senses, opening doors in his mind he had no idea even existed. Space and time were opening to him, and all he could hear was a faint sound in the distance - a sound he couldn't identify.

*What's happening to me?*

He opened his eyes and saw nothing but orange mist. To his left... mist, to his right... mist, all around him...just mist. Xander blinked and looked down at his body. He was glowing and twinkling slightly... as if partially out of phase with his surroundings.

*What the hell is going on!*

He swallowed, tasting the spice, and felt his eyes widen.

"Oh shit! I'm going to die!"

He looked around franticly; hoping there was someone who could help him nearby.


Silence. Nothing but silence.


Still silence. Xander took a deep breath and reached out as far as he could. His mind went out, moving past the solar system... broaching the time barrier... then snapping it... going beyond.


Who answered him... was completely unexpected... and it made Xander blink in shock when he recognized the voice.


Xander jerked in complete shock and watched as a form moved slowly toward him.


Xander moved forward, drawing closer and closer to the dark mass in the distance. As he got closer, it clarified and formed into a figure... which then became recognizable to his scared mind.


Part 27

It was a complete surprise to him. Her, of all people, came to his aid... but what was her ulterior motive? She never did anything without having something planned out in the background.

*Something is wrong here...*

Xander stared at her. As he drifted toward her, she came closer and closer. She looked... different, older... but that didn't make sense. He hadn't been gone that long and when he had left, she had looked younger than him by about four or five years at least.

"Irulan? Is that you?"

Irulan came to a stop and blinked back the shock. She recognized the man before her... but he hadn't aged a day.

"How... this... this is impossible?"

Xander blinked in shock and shook his head.

"I don't know..."

Xander looked at their surroundings and frowned.

"Where am I? Last thing I remember..."

His eyes widened in shock.

"Spice Essence... someone has poisoned me!"

Irulan jerked back in terror. She understood what had happened now... and there was no one there to help him. There was no other choice; he would have to come to her.

"Xander... you need help... quickly. Is there anyone who can help you where you are? Someone who can find your body in time?"

Xander shook his head. After the way things had ended after the audience... he didn't think he had many, if any, allies.

"No... I'm alone... now."

Irulan looked back the way she came and swallowed nervously. She wasn't sure...

#Have no fear, Irulan, I will shepherd him safely across...#

Irulan's eyes widened in shock.


Irulan looked back at Xander and took a deep breath.

"Hold on, Xander, help is coming."


Dawn peeked in another room and saw a dark form lying on the ground. Concerned, she opened the door all the way and gasped when she recognized who it was.


She rushed to his side and rolled him onto his back. A strange blue-green liquid was dripping from his lips... and more was splattered all around him. The room smelled strongly of cinnamon, so much so that it was hard to breathe or think clearly... and yet she noticed that Xander wasn't breathing too well.


Dawn reached out and checked his pulse. It was faint and thready, but there. As she moved him to check his breathing, she noticed his chest wasn't moving.

*Oh God... he's not breathing!*

Remembering the CPR classes from Health class, Dawn tilted Xander head and opened his mouth. She then placed her mouth over his and blew into his mouth... watching as his chest filled with air. She then moved over him and began pumping his chest.

"One... Two... Three... Four... Five..."

She moved back to his mouth and repeated. Over and over until his body convulsed and some of the liquid came flying up out of his throat... and into her mouth. Dawn jerked back in shock and spit it out... but not before she had swallowed once. She grabbed onto Xander and turned him onto his side as more of the liquid oozed out of his mouth. All this time, she noticed the room was getting fuzzy and this warm feeling was filling her body. She didn't know what was happening, but whatever it was... it wasn't good.

"Hold on Xander... please..."


Xander watched as Irulan seemed to speak with someone in her head then turn back to him.

"It's time, Xander. Hold on!"

Xander nodded and suddenly felt something akin to lightning pass through him. As the pain started, he screamed... then vanished.


Xander's body jerked and shook under Dawn. She stared down at him and then gasped as electrical charges began crawling over his body.

*Something's trying to hurt him... to take him away... no... not again!*

Dawn grabbed onto Xander and held him tightly. She ignored the pain from the electricity and just clung to his body... afraid that if she let go, she'd lose him forever.

"No! You can't take him!"

The electricity crawling over Xander's body flared and then engulfed Dawn as well. As her scream filled the room and the hallway beyond... a flash of light filled the room.

When the light receded... they were gone.

Part 28

Irulan snapped her eyes open and jumped to her feet. Without even pausing to gather her cloak, she ran out of her rooms and down to the main reception room. She could feel power growing, radiating from that point. As she came to the main stairwell, she leapt down it in one jump... avoiding over a dozen steps that would have cost her precious time.

*Must hurry... don't have much time.*

She burst into the room and came to a halt upon seeing Leto standing there waiting for her. He stood in the middle of the room - the light bouncing off his armored skin - and motioned for her to come closer.

"He is here..."

As if his words alone made it so, a flash of light filled the room and something appeared on the floor before there... something screaming. The light faded and Irulan was able to make out Xander's form... along with the body of a young girl. The screaming stopped at that moment and the girl's body collapsed on top of Xander's. Irulan stared in shock for a moment then dropped down next to them.

"You need to enter his mind... tell him how to convert the poison..."

It was then she noticed the traces of spice essence on the girl's lips.

"... while I do the same with this poor child."

Leto nodded and dragged the girl off of Xander's prone form then sat down next to him, closing his eyes. Irulan took a breath and reached out to touch the young girl's mind... hoping she would be able to make contact...


Dawn was in darkness; her mind shrouded in confusion and pain. She couldn't think. She couldn't see. All she could do was scream out in pain.... until the light came.

"Calm yourself, child, there is no pain. It is not real."

Dawn shook her head. She knew what pain felt like and this was most definitely pain.

"Listen to me... there is no pain... focus on my voice... focus on the light... and come to me."

Dawn moved toward the light, drifting slightly toward it. It was then she saw the face of a woman standing in the middle of the light.

"Good... good, come closer. You can do it. Force your mind to be clear. The pain isn't real. Force it away from your mind. Let it flow around you and away from you into oblivion..."

The more the woman spoke, the better Dawn seemed to feel. Within what felt like hours, but surely was only minutes, she reached the woman's side. Looking up into her warm eyes, blue eyes like Xander's, she felt a sense of kinship with her. In that moment, the pain receded to the point of being bearable.

"Who are you?"

Irulan smiled.

"My name is Irulan... and you are?"

Dawn swallowed and winced at the taste of the spice essence in her mouth.

"Dawn... my name is Dawn."

She looked around and shuddered. She didn't like where she was and wanted to go somewhere else.

"Where am I?"

Irulan frowned.

"Dawn... what happened to you earlier?"

Dawn blinked in shock and shook her head slightly.

"I found Xander on the floor. He wasn't breathing. I performed CPR on him but when he spit out what he was choking on... I swallowed part of it by accident. After that, everything got warm and fuzzy... then the pain hit and I passed out."

Irulan nodded to herself.

"How much did you swallow?"

Dawn looked down, thinking.

"I spit out most of what was in my mouth... but I swallowed... say a quarter of a mouthful?"

Irulan smiled and let out her breath. It wasn't as bad as it could have been.

"You are a lucky young woman then. You didn't drink enough to bring on the change..."

As she spoke the words, she could feel a sense of power waking within the girl.

"... you just awakened something you already possessed. We will have to see about that once you wake."

Irulan looked back into the light and then bent down to talk to Dawn.

"Dawn... now.... to get you out of here you need to listen to me very carefully...."


Xander floated in the mist and waited. He knew something was going on. He could feel the energy of the spice flowing all around him... yet in a way he never had before. It was... different. He could sense people all around him... and yet he was alone... or so he thought.

"So... you're Xander?"

Xander spun around to see a young man only a few years younger than himself standing a few feet away.

"Yes... and you are?"

Leto grinned.

"I am Leto, Emperor of the..."

Xander held up a hand and the young man paused.

"You're Emperor? I thought Paul was Emperor?"

Leto shook his head, a sad expression on his face.

"No... not any more... my father is dead."

Xander blinked in shock.

"Father... Paul didn't have children."

He frowned.

"How long have I been gone?!"

Leto sighed.

"It was been over 30 years since your disappearance."

Xander's face became expressionless as the words sank in.

*Thirty years... my god... so long.*

Xander swallowed and tasted the spice essence... then remembered where he was.

"I've been given spice essence. I... Paul never told me how to control or purge it from my body. I... I don't know what to do."

Leto nodded and moved closer.

"That is why I am here, Xander, to bring you across. How much did you drink?"

Xander closed his eyes and went back in his mind.

"I was thirsty, and angry. I drank without thinking. I drank... at least half to three-fourths of a cup. It was so strong... as if distilled... or worse."

Leto nodded. He examined Xander with different eyes... and saw what he expected to see.

"You have begun the change. There is nothing I can do for you..."

Xander jerked in shock, his eyes snapping open.

"What do you mean by that?! You're going to just leave me here!"

Leto shook his head.

"I will not abandon you, Xander, but I cannot help you. You must go further within. Find the spice... bind it to your will... become one with it... or die."

Part 29

"I will not abandon you, Xander, but I cannot help you. You must go further within. Find the spice... bind it to your will... become one with it... or die."

Those words echoed in his mind as Xander turned his attention inward, seeking out the spice flowing within his veins. He knew he had to find it, bend it to his will, force it to be assimilated safely. He understood what was happening. He had seen Paul go through this... only from the outside. He knew what was happening... now.

*Flow with the spice... follow its trail... find the source...*

Xander searched, his eyes fluttering behind his closed lids, until they stopped. He had found the source of his problem and now all that was left was to figure out how to merge it completely with his body and mind.

"I've found it, Leto. Now what?"

Leto smiled and nodded.

"Take each molecule... separate it.... then shift it until it is in tune with your body. Do this quickly. You will grow faster as you work until you have assimilated each and every atom of the spice. Then... and only then... will you be safe. However... if you survive this... you will be changed."

Xander nodded. He understood that.

"I know..."

Xander forced himself to the task and began assimilating the spice bit by bit...


Ghanima stared at her brother Leto, Irulan and the two strangers. She didn't know what was going on... but it must be important. She examined the features of the girl first, noticing slight touches in her face that made it clear she would be beautiful beyond compare in a few short years.

*Lovely... she is quite lovely.*

She moved her attention to the man before Leto and gasped in shock.

*No... impossible!*

Drops of blood appeared at the creases of his eyes. A thin trail then began to trickle down from his eyes... the sign of someone attempting the transformation.

"Clear the room! Place guards on all doors! No one shall enter until I say so!"

The guards nodded and quickly followed her orders. Once the room was secure, Ghanima sat down next to her brother and took his hand... waiting for him to awaken.


Irulan stared into Dawn's eyes and watched as they shifted to blue. She ran a hand through the girl's hair and watched her finishing the exercise.

"I'm finished..."

Irulan nodded at Dawn's words and examined her. She appeared stable now... but there was something of power within her now.

"Yes... you are stable now. The spice you ingested has been absorbed and transmuted safely. You are not a Reverend Mother, my child, but you are no longer as you once were. Something within you has been... awakened."

Dawn frowned for a moment, confused by what the woman said, until she heard the last part.


She paused and it slowly hit her.

"The Key."

Irulan raised an eyebrow.


Dawn looked up at the woman and bit her lower lip.

*Can I trust her?*

Dawn looked down at her hands.

"I'm not as I appear. I am a key... a key that can open the doors to other dimensions. I was told this power was gone... but I guess the spice brought it back?"

Irulan shrugged... then nodded.

"Perhaps. The spice can sometimes do strange things. For women, it is part of a ritual to become a Reverend Mother within the Bene Gesserit sisterhood. With men... well, it usually kills..."

Dawn's eyes widened in fear.


Irulan nodded.

"He is in danger. He might not live to see tomorrow."

Dawn stared at the woman as tears began to fall from her eyes.

"I have to see him. Take me back... please?"

Irulan nodded and placed her hand in Dawn's.

"Just tell yourself to awaken..."

Dawn closed her eyes and everything changed...


Dawn blinked a few times and then opened her eyes. Light flooded her eyes and she blinked in momentary pain. She looked up at an ornate ceiling far above her then turned her head at a nearby gasp of shock. As her head turned, she spotted the woman blinking and staring down at something. Dawn rolled onto her side and noticed a seated young man with a young woman holding his hand. There was something strange about the young man. His skin looked like stone... or something similar. As her mind tried to catch up with her body, it was then she noticed the body before the couple... Xander's body.


Dawn moved onto her hand and knees and screamed. She could see Xander's face clearly now and the sight of it was terrifying to her. Trails of blood flowed from the corner of his eyes...


The young woman turned to look at Dawn and tried to smile. Dawn looked back at her then turned to Irulan.

"Is he...?"

Irulan took Xander's hand and waited.

"No... he's not dead."

Irulan looked over at Ghanima and nodded to her.

"How long?"

Ghanima looked down at Xander and tilted her head.

"The blood appeared as droplets five minutes ago. The thin trail appeared minutes after that. It is as was recorded. He is becoming like father..."

Dawn looked at the two women and was about to yell at them when Xander moved. She moved closer to his body and noticed the young man awaken and blink his eyes... followed moments later by Xander himself.

"Xander... you ok?"

Xander blinked and sat up. There was a calm and powerful aura around him now. His eyes were deep blue and cool.

"I am..."

He paused as the voice sank into his mind. He turned his head and saw her crouching there.

"Dawn... what are you doing here?"

Dawn moved closer... then threw her arms around his neck.

"Oh God Xander... I was so scared. You weren't breathing and then you almost died and that stupid spice got in me and we ended up here and..."

Xander blinked and pushed Dawn away slightly so he could look into her eyes... her blue eyes?

"Dawn... are you ok?"

Dawn nodded and turned to look at Irulan.

"She said it's awake now... like back then."

Xander frowned... then it hit him.

"Oh my God... I'm sorry Dawn. I didn't want this to happen to any of you... and now... I'm so sorry."

He pulled her back into his arms and held her, rocking her slightly.

"I'm never going to let anything more happen to you. I'm going to protect you... with my own life, Dawn... this I swear to you. No matter what..."

Irulan smiled at Xander as he held Dawn and made his vow.

*Now that is the Xander I remember...*

She glanced over at Leto and Ghanima and frowned. There was a look in Leto's eyes... a look she didn't like... the look of a ruler who saw before him, a rival to his power.

*Leto... I don't like that look Leto. I'm going to have to keep an eye on Xander now... now that he has become like Paul.*

Like Paul... it was hard to believe. Another Kwisatz Haderach was in the universe... and God help anyone who tried to take Dawn from him...

Part 30

Xander stared out over the city, its strangeness vast and almost ugly in appearance.

*Everything looks so different. I can... my god; I can see puddles of water in the street below. If Paul were alive he would be ashamed.*

Xander shook his head and sighed. It was a shock, being back, and this time he had brought someone with him - an innocent. He looked back into the room and saw Dawn sleeping on one of the two beds in the room. They were going to be given separate rooms, but Dawn was too scared to be alone... so they set up two beds in one of the larger rooms. She had fallen asleep, exhausted, almost as soon as they were alone.

*She's been changed... by the circus that is my life. Little innocent Dawn... gone, replaced by this young woman who now has to face life with a ball of energy pulsing in her body. Life, addicted to spice... living longer with it, but no longer feeling human. I haven't felt completely human in... a long time, and now I'm not. I'm like Paul and Leto now. When I think back to the time of Paul's change, I remember how terrifying it was for Chani...*

Xander winced. Chani... she was gone now.

*Chani... my sweet Chani... how I miss you, my baby sister.*

He had been told what had happened to her. Irulan herself had come to him and had explained everything...


(2 hours earlier)

Xander smiled at Dawn as she began to snore. As he stifled a giggle, there was a soft knock at the door. Xander opened the door and was surprised to see Irulan standing there. She looked older... but yet still she held her regal beauty. Xander smiled and waved for her to enter.

"Irulan... good to see you. You've aged very well; you're still quite beautiful."

Irulan smiled and blushed, flattered that one almost half her age found her attractive.

"Thank you, Xander, that means much to me."

She sat down on the edge of Xander's bed and patted the spot next to her. Xander sat down and smiled.

"Xander... there is much you need to know. You know it's been more than 30 years. Much has happened since you were taken from us... much you may not like."

Irulan paused and swallowed, afraid of what she had to say next.

"I wasn't always that nice of a person. When Paul chose Chani over me... it infuriated me. I did something I am ashamed off. I went to an outside authority on poisons and had Chani poisoned with a drug especially designed to keep her from having any children..."

Xander's eyes widened and he hissed in his breath. He began to speak but stopped when Irulan looked up into her eyes with tears falling down her face.

"Paul was able to counteract the poison... but only through massive amounts of spice. The spice changed Leto and Ghanima... made them different. Their birth was hard of Chani and she... she..."

Xander closed his eyes.

"She died."

Irulan nodded and began to sob softly.

"I'm so sorry. I was a girl who felt ignored. I was spoiled and didn't care about anyone or anything. I'm so sorry for everything I did. Paul forgave me, somewhat, over time. I know I don't deserve forgiveness... but I'm hoping you can forgive me too, someday."

Xander opened his eyes and looked at the woman next to him. He could see her pain, her suffering. It was clear in the age-lines scattered across her face. Worry had aged her to appear a good 5 to 10 years older than the almost 45 she was now.

*I can see how much pain she has been in. She has had 30 years to suffer. It would be cruel to make her suffer anew. I won't forget what she has done... but Chani would want me to forgive her.*

Xander sighed.

"I won't ever forget what happened... but Chani wouldn't want me to keep you suffering for a mistake you have already had years to think about. I don't immediately forgive you, Irulan... but I think I can, eventually. I don't hate you... but at the same time, I don't like you that much right now."

Irulan blinked in shock. She had expected for Xander to want her death... but instead he gives a promise of forgiveness someday. She was shocked.

"I... I..."

Xander looked into her eyes.

"You expected death?"

Irulan nodded. Xander shook his head.

"No... I wouldn't do that to you, Irulan. You still have a place within me. Those I have cared about, even slightly, remain with me forever. Those I have loved..."

For a moment Buffy's face flashed across his mind. Xander paused then shook her face clear from his mind. His past with her was over. She had denied him openly before everyone. She had, in a way, said everything he did and everything he was... was evil. She couldn't accept him... and therefore had no place in his life. Anything he felt for her was now gone, destroyed by her stupid beliefs. It was best to move on, let her find someone else to control.

"... in whatever way I loved them, they stay with me. I used to feel sorry for you, Irulan. You were so lovely... but so cold."

He stared deeply into her eyes then.

"When I look at you now, I don't see that girl anymore. She's gone, dead to the universe... and in her place is a warm and loving woman who has had time to mature and atone for the mistakes she made in her past. I won't condemn you now for what you did then."

Xander reached out and took Irulan's hand in his.

"Give me time, Irulan, and one day I'll be able to say I forgive you completely. For now, just be secure knowing that I am on the path of forgiveness and that I don't hate you."

Irulan nodded and smiled, then squeezed Xander's hand.

"Thank you."

Xander nodded and smiled.

"Now... what happened to the children? Ghanima seems sweet... a bit sheltered, but sweet. Leto, on the other hand, is dark. There is something about him that reminds me of the worms..."

Irulan gasped.

"You know?"

Xander blinked and frowned.

"Know what?"

Irulan shivered.

"Leto said he did what Paul could not..."

Xander's mind flashed a memory then and he could swear he heard Paul's voice. As he remembered, he quoted what he heard.

"I remember... Paul talked with me once. He mentioned something about a path he couldn't take. He said... 'Xander... my life is a treacherous one. I see what is before me, but I cannot do what it wants me to do. I fear the golden path...'"

Irulan gasped.

"He knew?"

Xander nodded.

"About the golden path... yes. I'm assuming Leto took it... and if he did, then he has become, or is becoming, that which Paul feared."

Xander's eyes widened as he saw the path in his own mind. Being like both Paul and Leto now, he could see what they saw. He understood the path... and what it meant.

"Leto is becoming a worm... isn't he?"

Irulan nodded.

"Yes. He is completely encased in armor now. He says the transformation will take millennia to complete..."

Xander nodded, his eyes closed. He could see the path Paul took... the golden path Leto took... and another. Underneath the two paths was a third. It was faint and hard to see... but it was there - an electric blue ripple in space.

"What of the third path?"

Irulan frowned, confused.

"Third path? Neither Paul, nor Leto, ever spoke of a third path."

Xander opened his eyes.

"Then I guess it is mine... but what will I become at the end?"

He shook his head and glanced back up at a scared Irulan. Giving her one of his Xander smiles, he patted her hand.

"Don't worry, Irulan, I'll be ok."

Irulan smiled and nodded.

"I trust you, Xander. I know you won't become like Alia..."

Xander frowned.

"Alia... what do you know about Alia? No one will tell me what happened to her."

Irulan frowned. She had forgotten that they didn't want him knowing yet... and now it was too late.

"Alia became an abomination. She merged herself with the Baron... and went insane. She's gone now."

Xander took in a shuddering breath and shook his head.

"So much has happened. I wonder if she would have been ok if I had stayed..."

Irulan caught where his mind was going and knew she had to stop it.

"It isn't your fault. She was born that way. She chose to let him in... to let him take over her body, her soul. You couldn't have done anything. Do not take her mistakes on yourself. You hear me?"

Xander nodded, surprised at Irulan's forcefulness.

"I understand, and I thank you Irulan, but I still will always wonder."

He glanced over at Dawn and frowned.

"Will that happen to Dawn?"

Irulan shook her head.

"No. You and I are both here. We know what to expect; we know what to do for most situations."

She turned to Xander.

"She isn't safe here."

Xander raised an eyebrow.


Irulan nodded and flashed her eyes downward. As she spoke, she also spoke in the Bene Gesserit sign language.

"There are many here who do not like strangers."

/Leto cannot know about who she really is./

"The city has changed... people are more like thieves here now."

/The Guild must not know of her either./

"People no longer have the beliefs they had before."

/Likewise with the Sisterhood. If they knew of her existence, they would place her in the breeding program. They would want you as well./

Xander blinked in shock.

"So they have given up the old ways?"

/I see. So I must protect her from... everyone then. I fear I cannot do it alone./

Irulan nodded.

"Sadly yes. They have abandoned their seiches for towns."

/You are not alone. You have me... if you want me./

Xander nodded.

"The old ways have been forgotten, it seems. I fear for the future."

/I accept, Irulan, but how will we keep the Guild and the Sisterhood from finding us?/

Irulan sighed.

"True... as do I."

/I believe you might be able to handle that. I overheard Leto earlier. He was enraged because of something he discovered. He cannot see you./

Xander shook his head.

"So much has changed here... and not for the good."

/What do you mean, he cannot see me?/

Irulan frowned.

"I wish things could go back to how they were, sometimes."

/The Guild and the Sisterhood have blind spots around each other in certain circumstances. The Guild Navigators could not see Paul sometimes... and I have heard word that they cannot see Leto sometimes. It has something to do with being what you are... and now Leto cannot see you. It's probably safe to say that you, Xander, are projecting something that hides you from them.../

Xander nodded.

"As do I."

/So anyone with me might be hidden as well... I see that now. That explains what I saw... what the third path means. I can hide... from everyone.../

Irulan looked at Dawn and then back at Xander.

"The world looks much different now."

/If you took Dawn and myself with you... no one would be able to find us. I can teach her what she needs to know and you can keep us safe... if you want to, that is. It's your decision./

Xander nodded.

"I hope to get a chance to see it soon."

/Yes. When and how will we leave? I see that it is not safe for us here now./

Irulan got to her feet.

"I must be going. I'll join you for dinner?"

/I will come for you tonight... before dinner... be ready./

Xander nodded and stood.

"I'd like that. It's good to see you again, Irulan."

/I will prepare and tell Dawn what to expect. We will be ready. Until later./

Irulan smiled and exited the room. Xander watched her go then moved to the window...



Xander stared at Dawn, then moved to sit next to her. He reached out and brushed his fingers along her hair as she slept, wondering how to keep her safe.

*Soon, Dawn, soon I will have to do things to keep you safe that you may not understand. I pray you do though. Sleep safely, for now, and when you wake... may we all get out of here alive...*

Part 31

Dawn blinked a few times then opened her eyes. For a second, panic seized her, then she saw Xander's face move over hers and she calmed herself.


Xander smiled and nodded.

"Hey kiddo, you feeling ok?"

Dawn sat up and felt the room spin for a second. She nodded and looked around the room.

"Yeah... I feel ok, I guess. Where are we?"

Xander sat down on the edge of the bed and took her hand. Dawn looked down and blushed.

"We're on the planet I told everyone about. We're in Arrakeen right now, in the Imperial Palace. We were given a room and I've been watching you sleep."

Dawn listened and nodded then remembered the blood coming from his eyes.

"My God... your eyes. Are you ok?"

Xander nodded.

"I'm fine. It was all a part of the transformation from who I was to who I am now."

Dawn frowned.


Xander sighed.

"Yes... I was poisoned. It triggered a change that is usually deadly. I'm lucky to have survived."

Dawn reached up and caressed his face.

"What changed in you? Are you still Xander in there?"

Xander smiled.

"Yes, I'm still me... just better now. I'm Xander version 2.0."

Dawn giggled and leaned against his shoulder.

"I'm different now, too. What's going to happen to me?"

Xander looked down at her hair and brushed his fingers through it comfortingly.

"You remember the woman who helped you? Well, she and I are going to help you work this out. She will teach you the same teachings I was taught and while she is doing this, I will protect you."

Dawn looked up into his eyes.

"Why can't you teach me? You know it, right?"

Xander nodded.

"I know it, but it would be more understandable coming from her. She lived it when she was near your age; she knows it from a female point of view."

Dawn started to object again then stopped and thought about it. What Xander said made sense. She was a girl, well.. young woman, and it might make more sense if it came from a woman who had experienced it herself. She needed to be mature about this and not the spoiled brat they all thought she was back home.

"Ok, if you say she's the best one... then it's fine with me."

Xander blinked in surprise. He wasn't expecting her reaction to be quite like that. He had been preparing himself for a tantrum.

"Thank you, Dawn. We can trust Irulan. She'll help us."

Dawn snapped to attention.

"Us? Xander... what's going on?"

Xander closed his eyes and shook his head. He moved his mouth down to her ear and opened his eyes. Whispering, he explained everything.

"Listen very carefully Dawn... our lives depend on it..."


Irulan glanced back over her shoulder and then moved down the hallway toward the guest chambers. Dinner was in 15 minutes and she had to get everyone secreted away before the guards came.

*Must hurry. If Leto discovers what I am up to, he will stop us from leaving. I only have an hour to get them, get out of the palace and get to the shuttle before it leaves...*

Irulan turned the corner and came to a series of doors. She let out a breath at seeing the hall empty. Moving quickly, she rushed to Xander and Dawn's door.


"... and so that's everything."

Dawn blinked in shock. She hadn't been expecting any of that.

"I don't know what to say. I mean, my god, Xander. How can you expect me to take this calmly? You tell me that the pe..."

Xander clamped a hand over her mouth.

"Not out loud... and yes, I do expect much from you. I'm sorry for springing this on you but we..."

Xander paused as the door began to open. He jumped to his feet and moved to the side of the door. As a hand entered the room, Xander grabbed it and yanked it into the room.


Irulan opened the door and pushed it open slowly. As she entered the room, a hand grabbed her and threw her to the middle of the room. Immediately, she had her hands up and dropped to a crouch.

"It's me!"

Irulan looked up at a startled Xander and watched him visibly relax.

"Sorry, Irulan, you startled me."

Irulan nodded and stood up.

"Are you both ready?"

Xander nodded and turned to look at Dawn. Dawn nodded and got to her feet.

"Do I get one of those black suits like Xander?"

Irulan shook her head.

"Won't be necessary. We're going off-planet. I have us passage on the next shuttle leaving under assumed names. All we have to do is get to the docking station within the next 45 minutes."

Xander blinked.

"That doesn't give us much time... and what about the dinner? How can we get away without drawing attention?"

Irulan smiled.

"Don't worry, I have it covered."

She glanced at the door and took a breath.

"Ok then... follow me."

Irulan moved to the door then out into the hallway....

Part 32

Footsteps echoed off the stone walls as three shadows appeared at the end of the main hallway. One by one they appeared, moving swiftly yet carefully toward the main exit. Irulan walked quickly ahead followed by Dawn then Xander. As she walked, she mentally counted in time with the surprise she had left behind.

*33... 32... 31... 30...*

They turned the corner, then down a small flight of stairs.

*26... 25... 24... 23...*

Down a slight ramp to a landing then down yet another flight of stairs to a walkway that led around the outer border of the palace... a path rarely used by any of the Imperial guards.

*17... 16... 15... 14...*

Up ahead stood the main gates leading to the city itself. Beyond that was a maze of streets that twisted and turned until reaching the open space allotted to the shuttles that traveled to and from Arrakis every day.

"Not much further now. Once we reach the streets, tracking us will become more difficult."

Irulan glanced over her shoulder at the palace and smiled. It was almost time now.

*6... 5... 4... 3...*

As they reached the main gates, Irulan grinned.

"Two... one..."

An explosion sounded loudly behind them. Dawn shrieked and clung to Xander as he jerked his head around in surprise. Irulan watched as smoke began to billow out of one of the upper tier rooms.

"Come on... they will sound the alarm any second now."

Xander pushed Dawn forward as Irulan took them to the gates. Guards milled around the gates... then vanished inside as orders came through the communication system. This was as Irulan had planned. She knew there would be a small break in time, a window that would allow them to get through the gates with no one there to stop them. She triggered the gates and as they opened, motioned Xander and Dawn through then followed, closing the gates behind her.

"Now what?"

Irulan looked at Dawn and smiled.

"We have to get across to the landing field. The streets of Arrakeen are like a maze... one that can take hours to cross... unless you know them well, as I do."

Irulan moved toward the first street and then into its shadowy depths...


Leto stared at the scene around him with disdain. He should have known this would happen.

*Where are you, Xander? I cannot see you, your companion, or... Irulan. Have you taken them somewhere? Done something to them? What are you planning and why can't I see it!*


Leto glanced over at Ghanima and shook his head.

"I can't find Irulan, Xander, or the girl. It's as if..."

Just then a guard ran into the room. In his hands was a smoldering black box.

"Your majesty, the source of the explosion has been discovered..."

He motioned to the box in his hands.

"It was found in Lady Irulan's quarters. They've been completely destroyed. We cannot find her."

Leto nodded and motioned for the guard to leave the box.

"Thank you. Tell the guards to search the city. Have them branch out and look for Irulan and the two that arrived recently. They may have been kidnapped by some unknown faction."

The guard nodded then ran out of the room. Ghanima stared at the side of Leto's face and frowned.

"You don't believe that for a moment. Irulan knows more about fighting that most of your guards. She would not be taken against her will... and what I have heard of Xander, he was almost as skilled in battle as father."

Ghanima moved closer to her brother, looking into his eyes now.

"What are you thinking, Leto? Why do I see hatred in your eyes?"

Leto glared at Ghanima and scowled.

"I am Emperor, Ghanima. I am... because of what I am. I was the only one of my kind... but now..."

Ghanima nodded, understanding.

"Now there is Xander. You're afraid. You're afraid that he will want the Imperial throne."

Leto's anger deepened.

"I am not afraid! I know the power that comes with the change. Father had it, I have it and now Xander has it. He WILL want the throne. The pull of the power is strong. He will challenge me and I will destroy him!"

Ghanima looked into her brother's eyes and could see a faint tinge of the worm's madness looking back at her.

"You've seen this?"

Leto looked away and slowly shook his head.

"No. He is... invisible to me. I can see where he was... but not where he is. There is something surrounding him that hides him from my sight."

Ghanima sat before her brother and turned his head so that she could look into his eyes.

"Then how do you know what is to come? You cannot see him... so you cannot see what he might do. Do not jump to judge him before his guilt is shown... for you might lose a powerful ally in the process."

Leto jerked his head away and got to his feet.

"I am Emperor. Do not think to order me to do or not do anything. I am the one in command here, not you."

Leto moved to the windows that looked down upon the city as a guard entered.

"Your majesty, Lady Irulan has been seen heading toward the landing field. There is an unknown man with her."

Leto nodded, a small smile crossing his face.

*I have you now...*

He turned and with a flash, was gone.


The streets opened up to a wide courtyard with the landing field beyond. Xander blinked, amazed at how much it had grown since he had been here last.

"We're on the shuttle over there. We have less than 10 minutes to get on board."

Xander nodded and started to reply when he felt something touch his mind. Instantly, he knew what it was. He pushed Dawn toward Irulan then spun around and jerked his head to the side to avoid the armored hand that came flashing to where his head had been moments earlier.


Irulan grabbed Dawn and pulled her toward the shuttle. As they ran, she looked back and felt her jaw drop in awe at what she saw. Two blurs bounced in a circle in the courtyard. She knew one was Xander... while the other had to be Leto. Knowing that it wasn't safe to be out in the open, she pulled Dawn onward toward and then into the shuttle...


Xander moved faster that he knew possible, jumping and twisting away from the punches and kicks from Leto. The rest of the world appeared to slow down around them as they moved faster and faster. Xander looked at Leto's face and saw a level of rage he'd only seen once, on Paul's face. He knew he had to keep moving, not let Leto hit him. They were both powerful, but Leto's armored skin was harder than his own. Any punch might kill him and this thought terrified Xander enough to move just that much faster.


Dawn looked down the ramp and toward the courtyard where Xander was fighting someone. He was a fuzzy blur moving, bouncing from place to place. It was terrifying for her. Her heart was in her throat as she watched, trembling.

"Who is it?"

Irulan looked back at the fight and frowned.


Dawn looked up at Irulan and then back at the fight. Swallowing hard, Dawn closed her eyes and prayed... prayed to whoever might be listening to help Xander get out of this alive...


Xander jumped to the left and ran up the rock wall before him. He could feel Leto following him.. just seconds behind. He had been looking around franticly for anything that might help him stop Leto... or slow him down... long enough to get away. He had finally noticed that much of the walls was crumbling stone atop more stable stonework. Xander could see the pressure spots that, when hit or kicked, would cause the wall to crumble.

*One wall won't be enough. I'll need more than one... or maybe even... yes...*

Xander flipped off of the wall and across to the balcony of the building to his left. He could hear Leto growling in rage behind him. He knew he would get only one shot at this so it had to work. He leapt off of the balcony back toward Leto, flying over his head to an alley behind and to the side. It was a narrow dark alley that led to a dead end. The walls were in worse condition that the ones in the courtyard... and were taller as well. In his mind, Xander could see each point he had to attack. He formulated a plan and then...


Leto jumped and angled off of the balcony Xander had been standing on seconds earlier. He almost had him... but Xander seemed to be one second faster than him. It enraged him beyond where he was. His vision dimmed until all he saw was what was directly in front of him; the worm's rage in control.

*Kill... kill... KILL!!!*

Leto saw Xander dart into the alley and smiled. He knew he had him now. With a bellow of rage, he followed him into the darkness...


Xander heard Leto scream and swallowed in fear.

*Ok... this is it.*

He ran faster and moved up the right wall. As he reached a third of the way up, he spun and kicked the first weak spot in the wall. It shattered, the stones falling inward and down in a cloud of dust. Xander jumped to the left, his arms outstretched, his body appearing to be floating in the air as he moved across to the left wall. He ran higher up the wall, until halfway up and repeated his movements. As his foot slammed into the stone, he could hear and sense Leto below.

*Keep... going...*

The stone exploded like before and more dust was added to the cloud forming in the dead end. Xander held his breath and launched himself up and away toward the remaining third wall. He knew he had to get as close to the top as he could in the second or two he had left. Moving at a speed that terrified him, Xander half ran/half climbed up the wall until he was only a few feet from the top. Clinging there, he glanced down as the rock cascaded down on Leto and paused to whisper into the air around him.

"I'm sorry..."

Xander then slammed his fist through the wall and yanked down. The wall crumbled and fell inward. He threw himself upward, his body stretching, reaching, for the top of the wall on the right. Dust was so thick that it became impossible to see. Blindly, Xander clawed his way to the top of the wall... then over...


The shuttle's engines roared to life and Irulan looked back in terror. She had ordered the men watching the doors to keep them open. What she saw would be something she would remember for the rest of her life. She watched as the two blurs moved into a dark alley... only to have it crumble inward seconds later.


As the walls fell inward, a blur appeared above the closest wall... then moved over it. The blur raced toward the shuttle and Irulan felt her heart stop... only to have it start beating again as the blur slowly formed into Xander. He ran up to the doors and then inside. Irulan turned to the men watching and nodded.

"Launch... now!"

The men nodded and the shuttle began to move. It flew up into the sky... then beyond. Xander stumbled into the room and fell to the floor before Irulan and Dawn. His body was covered in sweat and dust, making his skin so dark gray that it was hard to tell just who he was underneath it all. Dawn jumped out of her seat and dropped down next to him.

"Are you ok?"

Xander nodded weakly and reached out to take her hand.

"I'm fine... just... tired."

Dawn nodded and helped him climb into one of the seats. Once secure, she moved back into her own seat... but didn't let go of his hand. Irulan noted this, but said nothing.

"What happened?"

Xander took a breath, coughed, then nodded to himself.

"Leto... he came after me. I managed to keep a second ahead of him then led him into a dead end alley."

He paused and looked down at the planet below them.

"I crumbled the walls and buried him. He should be out by now. It was the only thing I could think of."

Irulan nodded. It was hard to believe... yet she'd seen it. She would have her hands full keeping things in order from now on.

"Where are we going?"

Irulan looked over at Xander and smiled.

"Caladan... to pick up someone we need."

Xander frowned for a moment, wondering what she was... and then it hit him, and his eyes widened.


Part 33

The cool mist carried up from the lapping waves below bathed Jessica's body as she walked the battlements of the ancestral home of House Atredies. For years they had been away, then when everything had changed, she had come back, but not alone... Gurney came with her, as both protector and lover. Now they lived together, protecting each other, safe in their own world while Leto fell further and further into his Imperial Madness.

*First Paul, then Alia, now Leto. I've lost them all.*

Her children and her children's children... gone.

*I'm all alone now...*

Footsteps sounded behind her causing Jessica to pause. She turned her head and smiled, recognizing Gurney's cadence.

"It's rather late for a walk, and you forgot your wrap. You'll catch a cold."

Jessica smiled and relaxed into the loving arms that wrapped a shawl around her shoulders.

"I'm fine. I know I'll always have you to keep me warm."

Gurney smiled then frowned as the small communicator on his belt beeped. He reached down and opened a channel.

"Go ahead."

There was static for a moment then the landing guard's voice was heard.

"There is a shuttle from Arrakis with Lady Irulan aboard. They wish permission to land. She wishes to speak with Lady Jessica about... her son."

Jessica turned her face toward Gurney and frowned.

*My son... why didn't she use his name?*

Jessica nodded and Gurney flipped a switch.

"Let them land. We're on our way."

He turned off the communicator and they walked toward the stairwell that led to the courtyard below...


Xander looked around in awe at everything. It had been so long since the one and only time he had been on Caladan, before his return to Earth. So much looked different.

"I guess many things can change in 18 years, of course, the last time I was here was only for a day as Paul gathered soldiers for his army."

Xander stared at the vastness of the ocean and the way the stars and moon were reflected on its dark water. It was so beautiful.

"Reminds me of back home."

Xander looked over at Dawn and nodded.

"Yeah, it does, a little... like L.A., only cleaner."

Dawn smiled and nodded, moving closer to Xander's side until she was leaning against him. Xander wrapped an arm around her, unconsciously, and held her against his side as they stared out at the horizon.

"I keep forgetting how vast it all is. I've been here only a few times myself. I hope to return many more times from now on... if we survive."

Xander looked at Irulan and nodded. He knew the risks they were taking by coming here, but it would be worth it... that is, if he could convince her to come with them. Her teachings would be so very valuable to Dawn... and it would be nice to have her in his life once more.

*What am I going to do? It's been so long for you, Mother, and yet for me... hardly any time at all has passed. Still, I long to see your face once more. I only hope that you still love me...*

Xander heard the sound of approaching footsteps and turned toward the main path. In the distance he could see a set of large doors opening. Two shadowy figures emerged and then moved toward them. As they stepped into the light, the first thing Xander noticed was moonlight bouncing off of a bald head, a head he recognized on sight.


Irulan glanced at Xander and nodded as Xander stared on in shock. She turned back to watch and smiled as Jessica appeared. To her right, she could hear Xander's breathing quicken and saw him lower his head, hiding his features in shadow.

*He's afraid... but why?*

Jessica and Gurney approached and came to a halt some 15 feet away.

"Irulan, it's nice to see you. What brings you here at this time of night... and who is this with you?"

Irulan smiled at Jessica and nodded in respect.

"It is nice to see you as well, Mother. I am here as guide for..."

She paused and turned toward Xander. Xander sighed and lifted his head into the light.

"She came as guide... for me, Mother."

Jessica gasped in shock and stepped backward into Gurney's arms. Her eyes were wide with shock and fear and her mind was going a mile a minute.

*No... it can't be... but he's here... my boy has returned.*

She moved closer, staring at his face. As she crossed the distance between them, she saw a young woman step in front of Xander, a protective expression on her face.

"Is it really you?"

Xander nodded.

"It's me, Mother, but I'm not as you once knew me to be. Reach out with your mind to me and you will understand."

Jessica closed her eyes and reached out... then jerked back in fear.

"No! This is impossible! How!"

Gurney rushed to her side and glared at Xander.

"What did you do to her?!"

Xander shook his head.

"I've done nothing; it's what I am now that has her scared."

Gurney frowned.

"What would that be?"

Xander swallowed and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were a swirling blue with tiny sparks of electricity cascading across his eyes.

"I am what Paul was... what Leto refused to completely be... what she and her Sisterhood fear most."

Gurney turned to look at Jessica as she trembled next to him. She looked up and nodded.

"It's true. I don't know how he has done it, but he has. He is a Kwizats Hadderach."

Gurney's eyes widened as he turned his head back to Xander. It was in that moment he noticed the girl.

"And who is this young thing?"

Xander looked down at Dawn before him and smiled.

"This is Dawn, probably the most precious person to me in this universe at this time. I owe her my life..."

Dawn looked up in shock and swallowed hard at the loving expression in his eyes. Xander smiled down at her and nodded.

"It is because of me, however, that she has... awakened... and is in need of specialized training."

He looked up at Jessica and smiled.

"So I figured, why not go to the best... and who else but the woman who trained me, my Mother."

Jessica nodded at the man before her and smiled. This was the boy she had loved and trained, grown now into a man. She could feel in her bones that unlike most with power, her Xander would not go dark.

"I would be honored, my son. Come, let us go inside and get out of this damp. We can have a hot meal and discuss..."

Irulan cleared her throat and moved forward a few steps.

"I'm afraid we don't have time for that..."

Xander nodded.

"Yes, we are under time constraints. There is trouble following us."

Gurney frowned.

"Trouble... what kind of trouble?"

Xander sighed.

"Leto has gone mad. The worm within him is taking over, and with it... he loses more and more of his mind every day. When I... awakened... his first instincts were to destroy me. You see, he didn't like the idea of my existing..."

Jessica nodded.

"You're a threat to his power."

Xander sighed and nodded.

"Exactly. This is why Dawn and I are about to go into hiding. Irulan volunteered to help us, but we need more. That's why we came to you."

He paused and looked both Jessica and Gurney in the eyes.

"Will you, both of you, help us?"

Gurney turned to Jessica and looked down at her.

"Whatever you decide, I will agree to."

Jessica nodded, smiling, and leaned up to kiss his lips before turning back to Xander and the others.

"We will help you... and seeing as you feel you are being followed, come with us as we pack and you can explain in detail your plan."

Xander nodded and moved to her side as they turned and walked back up to the castle.


Sometime later, back on board the shuttle, they settled into their seats as they finished their conversation.

"... and so you can hide all of us with this... shield... of yours?"

Xander nodded and adjusted his seat.

"That is what Irulan says. In theory, we can live... anywhere that is isolated enough to not have many visitors, or any at all, and still be safe."

He looked across at Gurney and chewed on his lower lip.

"I was hoping you might have a suggestion on where to go. I was thinking maybe the wilds of Gallach, or maybe Ix, or..."

Gurney shook his head.

"No, they would look there first. No... this will have to be one of the outer rim planets."

A grin crossed his face and he began to nod his head slowly.

"I know the perfect place. Yes... this place is perfect."

Xander was about to ask its name when Gurney stood and exited the room. Minutes later, the ship traversed the distances to their destination. Xander looked out the viewport and stared in awe at the massive planet below them... wondering just where it was they were.

Part 34

The planet loomed below them like an iridescent pearl floating in space. The entire surface was covered in a constant storm, giving the planet a shimmering gray color. Located far beyond the other inhabited planets, it was the perfect place for them to reside - isolated and remote; it was on no star charts. Xander stared down at it and shook his head. The whole idea was... crazy to say the least, but Gurney believed they could survive there... so here they would be.

"Everyone strap themselves in. We're heading in."

Xander glanced over at Gurney and nodded then moved to make sure the women were secure before claiming his own seat. Within minutes they were away from the larger transport and were spiraling down toward the massive storm-covered planet below....


"Where the hell are they?!"

Leto stormed into the room, knocking down a serving girl in the process, and stalked toward his advisors.

"There has been no word on them. Where are they?!"

Administer Tuco shook his head and looked away from his Emperor's gaze.

"We do not know, Emperor. They have vanished from our search. The last location we had on them was Caladan... but then once they shifted, we lost them."

Leto rushed forward, his form blurring, and grasped the groveling man by the neck. Lifting him high into the air, Leto glared at him as he slowly crushed his throat.

"You will find them and you will do it now... or you, and all of your people, will die!"

He then threw Tuco across the room before storming out again. Tuco watched him leave, rubbing his throat, then turned to his aide.

"He has lost his mind. Relay this to our contact on Ix immediately."

The young boy next to him nodded then ran out of the room. Tuco stared in the direction Leto had gone and cursed him for all eternity before getting up himself and going back to his office...


Meanwhile... back on Earth

Buffy stared into the mirror in her bathroom and rubbed her tired eyes. They were rimmed in red and puffy from the crying she had done for the last hour. Everything was falling apart on her; Xander screamed at her and told her that everything was over... then stormed out of the room; Dawn yelled at her, everyone seemed to disagree with her over what had happened to Xander when he was gone.

*How can they take his side? He killed people!*

She shook her head and sighed. It was just so wrong. Everything was wrong here.

*It's all their fault. Everything was fine before we came here. Xander was sweet, not like he was before... but sweet. We were happy... but now...*

She glanced back into the main room and frowned. Dawn wasn't back yet and had been gone for quite a while.

*Where is she..."

Buffy dried her eyes then headed into the main room. The door was slightly open and she could swear she could hear something faint in the distance - something that sounded like Dawn.


Buffy opened the door and peeked into the hall... but it was empty. She moved to the door next to hers and knocked. It opened and revealed a half-naked Angel glaring at her.

"What do you want, Buffy?"

The coldness of his voice startled her. She hadn't ever heard him speak to her like that before.

"Have you seen Dawn?"

Angel nodded and pointed down the hallway.

"She went to go check on Xander over an hour ago. I heard her as she stormed past."

Buffy nodded and looked down the hall.

"Do you know which room he's in?"

Angel shook his head.

"No, they moved him to another wing of the building... at his request. You should ask one of them."

Buffy nodded again and turned to go. She looked back and was going to ask Angel something... but jumped as he slammed the door in her face. Frowning, Buffy turned and walked down the hall. She passed by door after door before coming to a small open area filled with women in black robes. Across the room, she saw one she recognized. She didn't know her name, but she remembered she had been one of the ones who had greeted Rebekka. Buffy walked over to her and cleared her throat. The woman turned and nodded.


Buffy chewed on her lower lip before she spoke.

"I'm looking for Xander. Do you know where his room is?"

The woman looked Buffy up and down then nodded.

"Come with me."

She turned to those with her and spoke quietly, they nodded and walked away. She turned to Buffy and frowned.

"Follow me."

She then headed back into the hallway and turned right, moving quickly... causing Buffy to race after her. Buffy followed the angry woman down hall after hall until they arrived at a long hallway with an open door at the end. The woman approached the door and stepped inside, Buffy close behind her, only to pause when the woman stopped.

"Something is wrong here."

Buffy looked at the woman and frowned... then smelled it. The room stank of cinnamon and there was a blue-green stain on the floor. She sniffed the air and noticed something else as well. It was faint, but there, and she recognized it. Her eyes widened in shock... then fear.


The woman turned to Buffy and nodded. She could smell the young woman from before as well. She walked over to the stain and examined it. She could feel some strange energy radiating from the floor... an energy she didn't recognize... then noticed the teacup lying off to the side and growled.


She ran to the door and slammed her hand on an intercom that Buffy hadn't noticed before.

"Lock down the building! Brother Xander has been poisoned and is missing!"

An alarm filled the room as the woman moved to the door. Buffy watched her move then the words she had spoken reached her brain...


The woman nodded and glared at her.

"Yes, child, he has been poisoned and it is probably too late to save him. Stay out of the way, girl, and let us do what we have to do. You've caused enough trouble already."

With that said, she stormed out of the room, leaving a stunned Buffy behind her...

Part 35

As the woman ran down the hallway toward the main audience chamber, Buffy followed. She knew that the woman was hiding something from her - something to do with Xander and Dawn. She was determined to find out just what this secret was...


Felice looked up as Erin ran into the room... followed closely by the blonde with Brother Xander. She stared at the woman; shocked that she would show her face after the spectacle she had made of herself earlier, and wondered why she was here now.

"Mother... there is something you need to know."

Felice nodded to Erin then glared at the blonde woman.

"You need to leave. This is a Sisterhood matter."

Buffy shook her head.

"Not on your life. If this has something to do with my sister Dawn and my husband Xander... then it has to do with me."

Felice let her eyes widen slightly and turned all her attention to the annoying blonde.

"Your husband... really now... this is a surprise. He denounced you earlier and took back any claim he gave to you."

Buffy shook her head.

"He's just angry. He didn't mean it. We're married. Everything is going to be fine."

Felice laughed coldly.

"Married... I see. Were you married by an elder of the tribe?"

Buffy frowned.

"No... but we're married."

Felice grinned.

"Were you married by a Sister?"

Buffy frowned deeper, her eyebrows pointing downward.

"No... but Xander said we're married."

Felice laughed and stared down at Buffy.

"Xander, a Brother he may be, was wrong. Only three people can ordain a marriage in our religion - an elder of the tribe; a Reverend Mother, or the Emperor. Xander is none of these... which means... you're not married... now leave."

Buffy gaped in shock at the woman's words and just stood there. Erin looked at her then sighed and turned back to Reverend Mother Felice.

/Mother... Xander has been attacked./

Felice looked at Erin and nodded.

/What did you discover?/

Buffy watched as the two women began speaking with their hands... like Xander had before... and glared at them.

*Who do they think they are... telling me I'm not married? Xander said we're married. He wouldn't lie to me about that. I know he's mad right now and said we aren't any more.. but he'll get over that. I'm his wife.. we're married and I'm his wife, he wouldn't lie to me..*

As the thought crossed her mind, she paused. Xander had changed. He had killed... people... and had felt nothing wrong with it. She always believed one thing... you don't kill people... and Xander had killed hundreds, thousands even. Maybe she didn't know him after all.

*Maybe... but...*

Erin glanced over at Buffy and noticed she appeared lost in though.

*Good... stay that way... give me time to get this done so I can get to work.*

She looked back at Felice as she continued.

/... and the energy traces felt like that of the dark ones. Judging by that and the smell of spice essence in the room, I would assume that he has been taken, somewhere, by magical means./

Felice nodded.

/I see. Have Rebekka summoned and have her bring along Rhaine. I believe she has some knowledge of the dark magics./

Erin nodded.

/By your command. Mother... what do I tell his companions?/

Felice stared at the blonde who appeared lost in thought and smiled.

/Tell them that Xander is gone and that we are working on it. They, however, are no longer wanted here. They are to leave this enclave immediately... or face death. They can either return home, or travel to the local town, or who cares... just as long as they leave. Have an order of guards with you when you tell them./

Erin smiled and nodded.

/As you command, Mother./

She bowed slightly and then turned to Buffy.

"We leave now."

Buffy nodded and followed Erin as she left the room. Felice watched and smiled... knowing that soon she would have less people to deal with.

*Step One is complete... Step Two is underway... and running so smoothly...*


"... and so you are being told to leave now."

Giles stared at the woman in shock. They had just been told that Xander and Dawn were missing and now they were being forced to leave.

"Now see here. We will not leave and just let Xander and Dawn be found whenever you decide it's time. We're their family... we shall be the ones who find them."

Rebekka shook her head. She knew all too well the futility of trying to argue with the Sisterhood.

"Save your breath, Mr. Giles."

She turned to Erin and noticed the sinister grin on her face. Erin had always enjoyed giving bad news and appeared to be reveling in it now.

"A direct mandate?"

Erin nodded.

"Of course. Expulsion upon penalty of death."

Rebekka nodded again and sighed.

"Then you all must leave... for none of you could face us in battle and survive."

Buffy started to protest, but Rebekka stopped her.

"Not even you Slayer. You could face one of us, maybe, but could you handle 100, 500, 1000? I don't think so."

She shook her head.

"No... you wouldn't last 10 minutes, Buffy."

Rebekka sighed.

"You must leave. I will find out what's going on and get in touch with you as soon as I learn something."

Buffy started to say something, but was silenced by Giles wrapping a hand across her mouth.

"Thank you. We understand. Come, everyone, gather your things together... we're leaving."

Buffy ripped herself free and stared at Giles in shock.

"Giles! We're not really leaving! We can't!"

Giles nodded.

"We're going... that's final Buffy. Sometimes you have to do what you don't agree with in order to survive. Sometimes you have to do things you wouldn't normally do..."

Buffy frowned as she heard the double meaning and let her gaze fall to the floor.

"I don't like this..."

Rebekka stared at Buffy and nodded.

"You don't have to... you just have to leave."

With that said, she turned and left the room...


Angel closed the back of the SUV and turned toward the women watching him and the others.

"That's the last bag. We're ready."

He climbed into the driver's seat and smiled at Cordy sitting beside him. She was sad and staring back at the entrance behind them.

"Don't worry Cordy. They'll find him... or he'll find us. He did it before... remember."

Cordy nodded and smiled.

"That he did... that he did."

She turned to look at Angel and grinned.

"Come on... let's go home."

Angel nodded and started the SUV. Off to his left he could see the other SUV. They wouldn't need it this time. Angel looked at the people in the vehicle with him and made a note of where they were. Giles and Joyce were sitting behind him... sad expressions on their faces. Behind them were Willow and Tara... identical expression there as well. Finally in the back... Buffy.

*Buffy... you had no clue that your little outburst would cause so much trouble... and yet you still haven't admitted you were wrong... and now Xander's gone again and this time Dawn's gone with him. I certainly hope you don't fall apart the way you did last time, this time, but knowing you and your way of thinking... you just might.*

He looked at the road ahead of them and frowned. They were two people short. He knew when they left that they might return one person short... maybe two... but he never figured it would be the two who are missing.

*Wherever you are, Xander, I sure hope Dawn's with you so you can keep her safe.*

Angel started the engine and headed them down the road... toward home...

Part 36

The SUV came to a stop at the edge of the forest and pulled off the side of the road. Angel and Giles stepped out onto the road and walked back down the way they had come a few feet.

"We're not really leaving... are we?"

Giles shook his head.

"No. We know that there are clues to what happened to Xander and Dawn within that structure. All we have to do is get in somehow without getting killed."

Angel stared down the road and widened his eyes. He was human, but for some reason, part of his vampiric skills remained.

"No one is following us. The road is clear for as far as I can see."

Giles nodded and pulled out a small notepad.

"I made notes while there. I believe I mapped enough of our path through that I can safely guess what else is in the adjoining rooms. Security was high, but I believe that was because we were there. The women on guard appeared to be bored, as if it was something they didn't normally do. This leads me to believe that the halls are usually less guarded."

Angel nodded.

"I noticed that too. Also, there is virtually no security system there. I saw nothing showy on the outside of the building and nothing in the rooms or halls. If they have anything, it's well hidden... or not there at all."

Giles flipped through the notepad and frowned.

"Do you still have your stealth?"

Angel nodded.

"Not as much as before... but yes."

Giles looked back at the SUV.

"Good. I'll take them on to town, get everyone set up in the hotel, then come join you."

Angel sighed and nodded.

"I'll get started then."

Giles smiled at Angel and reached out to pat his shoulder.

"Good luck."

Angel smiled then ran down the road, headed back the way they came. Within 50 feet, he had vanished. Giles watched the road for a minute before he headed back to the SUV. Inside, he started the engine and headed back down the road... ignoring the looks from the women in the vehicle.

"Giles... where's Angel?"

Giles stared at the road.

"He's gone back to find out what's going on."

Cordy blinked and frowned.

"You let him go alone?!"

Giles shook his head.

"He's not alone. As soon as we get back to town, I'll be joining him."

Joyce jerked her head toward Giles in shock and frowned.

"You're going to do what?!"

Giles looked at her in the rear view mirror and smiled.

"Don't worry... it's something I have to do. I'll be ok."

He looked back at the road and saw the edge of the town approaching.

"Now, I need to find a hotel... so please let me concentrate."

The women looked at each other then glared at Giles, but remained silent, as he merged with traffic of the small yet busy town...


Angel slid against the side of a boulder and stared up the hill toward the enclave. He could make out a patrol guard circling the outer perimeter, but it was only two people.

*I can either go on in and remove the guards... or I can wait for Giles and together we go in.*

He looked back the way he came, then back at the guards, and sighed.

*I had better wait...*

Angel climbed up the boulder some and maneuvered into a comfortable spying position to wait...


Felice stared at the screen before her and frowned.

*Where is the word from my contact?*

She had been expecting some notification from her contact on Gallach about Brother Xander. The spice essence surely triggered the internal change and if anyone would have felt it, it would have been her contact... but there was nothing. She read over the message on the screen and shook her head angrily.

"No such person is within this universe."

Felice growled and turned off the screen. The gleam of malice in her eyes was shimmering like wildfire.

*Where are you, boy?! Where did that cursed energy take you...*


The sound of a twig snapping brought Angel to attention. He turned his head and was about to attack... when Giles stepped out of the shadows and moved to join him.

"What have you seen?"

Angel pointed to the enclave.

"Two women, guards, patrol around the outside. It takes them five minutes, at the brisk pace they walk, to make a round trip. I figure we have at least that much to get inside at that point there..."

Angel pointed to a small opening in the side of the rock wall surrounding the enclave. Giles nodded and made a few notes in his head.

"How are the women?"

Giles glanced at Angel and frowned.

"Unhappy... about everything. I explained as best I could before I left. They didn't want to let me go alone. I had to cast a temporary spell on them in order to leave. They won't be pleased."

He sighed and watched as the guards appeared on the left.

"We had better get moving. Let's find out what happened to Xander and Dawn and then get the hell out of here."

Angel nodded and jumped down. Giles followed more carefully, then the two of them ran toward the enclave...


Meanwhile... far, far away...

Once, twice, a third time... and the door was knocked open. A spot of light appeared in the middle of the room and then slowly moved across the large floor and up the far wall. As it slid over a sensor in the wall, engines that had been formerly dormant suddenly began working again. Light filled the room revealing a large central chamber with room-sized recesses in the walls on all sides. The layout of the space was grand and open... and everything was covered in dust. It all looked as if it hadn't been used in decades or longer.

"This place will take forever to clean... a perfect training tool, Dawn."

Dawn glared at Jessica as they walked into the room. She had asked the woman earlier what the training would be like and had been told one word... tiring. She didn't think, at the time, that she had meant 'working her butt off' tiring.

"I'm going to look around... is that ok?"

Xander reached out with his mind and only felt some insects and small rodents... nothing dangerous.

"Feels fine to me, just be careful."

As Dawn moved deeper into the room to explore, Xander moved next to Jessica.

"I don't remember ever having to clean as a part of my training, Mother."

Jessica smiled.

"I know that; you know that; but she doesn't know that."

Xander grinned and nodded.

"Ah... I see."

He leaned in and kissed her cheek and smiled as she blushed.

"I missed you."

Jessica smiled at Xander and leaned her head against his chest.

"I missed you too, my boy. For so long I thought about my boys... how I lost you both... then suddenly you're back with me again, and it fills my heart."

She looked up into his eyes, a serious gleam in hers.

"Please don't ever leave me again. You're all the family I have left."

Xander frowned.

"What about Ghanima and Leto? I know Leto's insane, but Ghanima?"

Jessica sighed.

"She loves her brother. She won't listen to reason."

Xander nodded.

"I'll try to do what I can to save her, Mother, I promise."

He smiled down at her and then glanced around the room.

"You know... this place is so big, I think it might take Dawn a year to clean it all. Maybe I should help her with it? After all, I need more training too..."

Jessica laughed and shook her head.

"Yes, you do at that. Good... get cleaning. I want a clean place to cook in two hours... over there."

Xander laughed and nodded.

"Yes Mother... right away."

With that said, he moved off to join Dawn for a moment before he got to work cleaning... knowing that the training he needed to survive had just begun...

Part 37

"Find your center, Dawn. Stretch out your mind, your senses. Feel the energies around you and let them wash over you."

Xander watched as Jessica and Irulan taught Dawn. He remembered going through something similar, years ago, with Paul. He didn't remember having to do it quite the way Dawn had to though. She was in the middle of the room, perched in a headstand on top of one of the chairs.

"Good, good Dawn. Now, reach out toward the disk and lift it from the table."

As Xander watched, he saw the small metal disk on the table begin to shake for the first time in days. It brought a smile to his face and he had to stop himself from cheering and breaking her concentration.

"You can do it, Dawn, lift it."

Dawn began to tremble and then shake as she strained to lift the disk. She was having a very hard time keeping her focus. She kept feeling this slight tickling sensation in her lower back that kept drawing her mind away from where she was. As she finally managed to get the disk to clear the surface of the table, she felt something shift in the chair and fear exploded in her mind. the chair began to wobble and her balance began to waver. Suddenly it was all she could do to remain in place, and as the disk fell... so did she.


Dawn fell face first toward the hard stone floor, only to stop suddenly with her nose an inch from touching. She swallowed down her fear and stared at the floor.

"Stop staring, Dawn, and plant you hands down already... you're not the lightest thing in the world to hold with me mind, you know."

Dawn scowled and planted her hands on the stone. As she did, she felt the force that had been holding her give way and all of her weight suddenly slammed down into her hands. With a forward roll, she rolled to her feet and began dusting herself off.

"I'm not heavy, Xander, and you know it... now take that back."

Xander smirked and nodded.

"Ok, I'm sorry. You're not heavy... for a Summers girl."

He turned his head to the side and smirked at Irulan. Irulan shook her head and rolled her eyes at Xander.

"Don't let him goad you Dawn. You know he only does it to get you angry so you'll concentrate harder."

Dawn nodded to Irulan and walked toward Xander. As she reached his side she kissed the top of his head and leaned against the back of the chair he was sitting in.

"I know. He does it because he cares. You say that every time, Irulan. I just wish you wouldn't care so much sometimes."

Xander looked up into her eyes and smiled.

"Want me to let you fall next time?"

As Dawn replied with an eager no, they both heard a very determined voice from the other side of the room.

"Yes, do let her fall. She needs to learn to not rely on you to save her, Xander. She needs to learn to catch herself if she falls. If you catch her every time, what will happen the one time you're not there? Answer me that."

Dawn frowned and looked at her feet as Xander nodded.

"I know, Mother, but it took me time to learn to catch myself. You know how many times I came in with my face bloody because of falling on it. I don't want her to have to go through all that pain."

Jessica sighed.

"You learn with pain. You know this already Xander."

Xander nodded. He remembered the teachings... and what was to come with Dawn.

"Is it time for her yet?"

Jessica eyed Dawn up and down then shook her head slowly.

"Not yet... but soon."

Xander nodded and reached out to grasp Dawn's hand. As he smiled up at her, his mind cringed at what he knew she would soon have to face.

*I'm so sorry you have to meet this new test soon, Dawn, but we all had to do it. I just hope you too can meet the Gom Jabbar and live as we all did before you. I would hate to lose you too...*

Xander sighed and got to his feet.

"Ok... my turn, Dawn. Come on... it's time to run. Three full laps of the caverns then back here. If you can keep up with me I'll go easy on you when we get back."

Dawn nodded then took off running toward the tunnel entrance. Xander counted to 10 then took off after her. As they vanished from sight, Jessica turned to Irulan and nodded.

"Prepare a Gom Jabbar. I lied to Xander. We test Dawn tonight."

Irulan nodded and moved to do as asked, her mind praying that Dawn would survive.

Part 38

They had worked on her stamina for three hours before Xander had left to continue his own training outside. He had no fear of anything on the planet. He ran, jumping from crag to crag, his mind focused on one thought, one feeling, centered and absolute. He was more nimble in this moment than he had ever been in his entire life... for he was walking the path, his path.

*Stay on the path... stay on the path... stay on the path...*

Xander's path was different from those walked by Paul and Leto. Paul's let to fear and death, for he abandoned everything he knew out of fear of the golden path. The path he took was a dead end... ending in the belly of a worm in the deep desert. Leto had less fear. He embraced the golden path and saw himself over 3500 years in the future... alive and well, a God. He knew his path... and the greed and power consumed him... drove him mad. Xander's path, however, was different. His path didn't make sense. He saw himself in the here and now... and yet, he saw himself standing before Leto in his full adult worm form. What made this strange was he hadn't aged a day... and this fact confused him greatly. It was this confusion that drove him ever onward. He trained more and more every day. His life felt like it was balanced on a piece of string as thin as a strand of spider's silk... and so to abate his dread, he pushed himself ever further onward.

*There is no fear... there is only me...*

Xander leapt upward and grabbed hold of a tree limb and pulled himself up onto the top of the cliff bordering the small sea to the east of their home. He moved to the edge and sat down, his breath slow and even. He was concentrating so intently that it appeared to him as if he were sitting on a path, a pale blue path, his path. It lay under him and before him, looping back down the cliff and back into the caverns that lay below almost a mile away. He followed the path with his eyes and sighed.

*I'm going to live a long time if I remain on this path... but I will be alone.*

He knew this fact to be certain. Every point along his path had him alone... except for the next year. After that... everyone was gone. As to when they all left him, he didn't know. Xander didn't want to see those moments for he feared losing those he loved.

*Mother... Irulan... Dawn... you will all leave me. I have seen it. When, I fear to look, for knowing would haunt me the rest of my days.*

He looked out at the water and let his mind dwell on everyone else.

*Willow... Tara... Buffy... I've already lost you. I have no way of returning to Earth. I've condemned Dawn to a life of fear and war, never to see her family ever again. She would still be normal, be safe, if she hadn't followed me. Now... now I've taken her from her life and saddled her with mine.*

He looked back toward the cavern. He knew what was going on.

*Mother... you lied to me. I could feel it as you thought the words. You lied to me about testing Dawn... and yet, her I sit as you prepare to do to her as you did to me. This is something that must be done, though I hate the thought of it. We must know, one way or another... but if she dies, I will abandon you, Mother, and leave you here for Leto to find. Let's just hope that she lives... for I would hate to see what Leto would do to you...*


Jessica looked up as Dawn entered from her room. She was reading from one of the books Xander had found and had the most precious grin on her face. She walked across the room and sat down in one of the couches, reading the whole way. Jessica turned to Irulan and nodded.

/Take position at the entrance and watch for Xander. If he comes, warn me./

Irulan nodded and got to her feet. As she moved toward the path to the surface, Dawn looked up in wonder.

"Irulan... where are you going?"

Irulan smiled and paused.

"I'm going for a walk outside."

Dawn looked the older woman up and down and smiled.

"Xander's out there. I'm sure he wouldn't mind the company."

She winked and when Irulan blushed, went back to her reading. Irulan tried to stop blushing as she moved to the path. As she reached the exit, she paused and glanced back before walking off into the darkness.

"Dawn... come here please."

Dawn looked up at Jessica and smiled then got to her feet. She set her book down then crossed the room to where Jessica was sitting.

"Have a seat, here, before me."

Dawn sat down at Jessica's feet and smiled up at her. Jessica smiled back then looked very somber. She pulled out a small metal box and reached up a hand to the side of Dawn's neck.

"This is the box."

Dawn's eyes tracked to where Jessica had her hand and moved slightly away from it.

"Do not move. At your neck I hold a Gom Jabbar. It is a needle filled with a very powerful poison."

Dawn's eyes widened in fear. Jessica nodded and the box opened in the side.

"Place your hand inside the box."

Dawn looked down at the box and swallowed.

"What's inside the box?"

Jessica looked at her darkly and frowned.


Dawn wanted to back away, but remembered the needle at her neck.

"Place your hand in the box now."

Dawn closed her eyes and wished it all wasn't happening then slid her hand into the box.

"You will feel a tickle... now. The tickle will grow to an itching... then a burning..."

Dawn closed her eyes as her hand began to burn. It hurt but she knew that if she moved, she would die.

*Xander... Xander... help me!*

"... feel the flesh crisping... smell the skin burning..."

The pain was becoming very intense. She wanted it to stop... but could do nothing to stop it. She was about to go mad when she could swear she heard Xander's voice in her mind.

*I must not fear, fear is the little death, fear is the mind-killer that brings total oblivion. I will face my fear, embrace it, let it pass through me and into oblivion, then it will be no more. I must not fear, fear is the little death, fear is the mind-killer...*

It went on and on, and as she listened to the litany, the pain seemed to fade a little... but not much. She didn't think she could hold on much longer. She lasted another 15 seconds before she screamed out in pain.


Jessica gasped and pulled her hand away.

"Enough... it is done. Remove your hand... young human."

Dawn opened her eyes and shook her head. She was terrified to see her charred hand.

"Do it!"

Dawn yanked her hand free and winced in fear... then saw that her hand was whole. There wasn't a mark on it.

"I.. I don't understand."

Jessica smiled.

"Pain by nerve induction. It is a test given by the Sisterhood. You see, a human can endure any pain..."

Dawn shivered and cradled her unharmed hand as her mind swam with what had just happened to her.

"What now?"

Jessica sighed inwardly.

"You can go back to your reading. You will have no lessons from me tomorrow... instead; Irulan will take over completely in your training. I have taken you as far as you need to go with me. For now, rest and prepare yourself for tomorrow."

Dawn nodded and got to her feet. She walked away from Jessica then paused, looked back, then ran to her room and slammed shut the door. Jessica watched her run away and sighed.

*I'm sorry I had to hurt you Dawn, but it had to have been done...*


Outside, Xander sat and watched Dawn's test in his mind. He was timing her as Irulan approached and sat next to him.

"You're testing her. You two lied to me."

Irulan nodded.

"I'm sorry Xander... but you know it had to be done."

Xander nodded.

"Yes, I know."

He winced as he heard Dawn begin to cry in his mind. He reached out toward her and began teaching her the litany... hoping she would hear and use it.

"You love her... don't you?"

Xander turned to Irulan and raised an eyebrow.

"Dawn... yes, like a little sister."

Irulan shook her head.

"Not her... the other one, the one you left behind."

Xander frowned.


Irulan nodded. Xander looked at her and slowly shook his head.

"No, I don't love her. Anything I felt for her was destroyed when she betrayed that love out of fear, loathing and distrust. Maybe deep inside of me a part of me might still love her... a small part... but it is nothing like it once was. Our friendship was... is.. too ingrained into my core to ever give up completely on her. I guess you could say I love her close to the same as I loved Chani and Alia, like a sister. Any romantic feels I had are dead now.. I do not love her as I once did, though. That part of my life is over."

Irulan nodded and felt a slight smile cross her face. She looked at him and suddenly felt so much older than him, yet at the same time, felt like a teenage girl.

"Do you think you'll ever feel that way about anyone again?"

Xander looked Irulan up and down and smiled. At that moment, he felt Dawn's trial end... with her still alive. He got to his feet and looked down at Irulan and smiled.

"I know I will... someday. All I can hope is that the right woman will still be there for me?"

Irulan heard and felt the question and knew it was directed to herself. She felt her fear speed up and a blush filled her face. As Xander reached out a hand to help her to her feet, she took it and felt a shock of electricity pass between them. She looked into his eyes, smiled, then squeezed his hand.

"I know she will, Xander."

Xander smiled and nodded and then motioned toward the path. As they headed back, Irulan noticed that Xander was still holding her hand and the feeling of his hand in hers sent her soaring. It was the happiest she had been in a long time. Now all she had to do was wait for the day when he was ready to return her feelings.

*I can wait for you Xander. I know I can...*

Part 39

His massive form loomed above Xander as he walked slowly toward his platform. He was an abomination now... more worm than man... and completely insane with his power.

"I have you, Xander."

Xander looked up at what remained of Leto's once human face and laughed.

"You don't have me, Leto."

Leto let out a laugh that shook the stone walls around him and lowered his head a fraction closer to Xander.

"You are in my domain. My guards have weaponry trained on you every second you are in here. My Duncan has a pistol aimed at your head as we speak... don't you, Duncan."

Duncan Idaho, the latest of hundreds of gholas, stepped out of the shadows and nodded... a pistol in his hands. Xander glanced at him and smiled.

"This may appear true, but you do not have me Leto."

Xander smirked and vanished, only to reappear high atop Leto's body... just feet from his face.

"I can be anywhere I wish to be, Leto. I came here of my own free will, not because of anything you think you did. You know this, little Leto."

Leto growled and rolled his massive body to the right, trying to throw Xander down and crush him... but instantly, he was gone again. Xander reappeared behind the Duncan ghola and pressed a nerve in his neck, sending him instantly into dreamland.

"Shoot him!"

The guards jumped to action and began to fire at Xander as he disappeared then reappeared in various locations within the chamber. One by one, Xander took out all of the guards, until it was only Leto and himself who remained.

"You see, Leto, you cannot stop me. You cannot keep me here against my will. You cannot do anything Leto."

Xander vanished once more only to appear where he started. He glared up at Leto and placed his hands on his hips.

"Look at me Leto. Look at me."

Leto focused his eyes, his mind, everything, on Xander. Xander opened his eyes wider and a shadow seemed to pass over them.

"I am light and I am shadow. I am the morning sun and the rising moon. I am more things than you could ever have imagined, Leto, and more. You think you can have dominion over me, but you're wrong. You cannot see me. You cannot track me. You cannot hold me."

Xander's face became very somber as his demeanor changed.

"I am the thing your darkness fears. I am your boogyman, Leto. I'm out there. I've been out there for more than 3000 years, Leto, and I will live for millennia more. I am eternal... and I will see the day of your destruction... and I will laugh. You have no power over me."

Light seemed to fade within the room some at that moment. As the shadows grew, Xander's body began to fade... until it was gone.

"I'll be watching..."

Leto screamed in anger and went into full rage, his bulk rolling from side to side...


With a gasp, Leto sat up in bed. His eyes scanned the room in fear as he tried to slow his breathing. He had had the dream... the vision... again. He knew it was real. He knew what he would become. He felt it deep within his core... and he knew that Xander's part of it was real as well.

*He hasn't aged... all that time and he was no older than he is now. How...?*

Leto got to his feet and stormed to the doors leading to the balcony. Throwing them open, he stepped out into the night air.

*I've seen this vision over a dozen times already. I know when it is, where it is, and who is there... but I don't know why or how. Why is he there? Why is he able to do what he does? How does he do what he does? How is it he hasn't aged in over 3000 years? It's... no, it's not impossible. It would take a long time, but you could learn to slow or even stop the aging process... but you would have to do it at the molecular level. It seems Xander will discover this... sometime in the future.*

Leto stared out at the desert and a scowl crossed his face.

"I will find you, Xander. One day I will find you... and destroy you."


Xander blinked his eyes open and took in a deep breath. He was confused by what he had just seen. As he began to consider what the meaning behind it was... he felt weight against his side. He looked down and saw Dawn asleep against his side.

"Dawn... sweetie... come on now... wake up."

Dawn mumbled in her sleep and snuggled closer to Xander. He smiled at her as she tried to hold onto him and remain on the couch at the same time. Xander shook his head and carefully slid away from her. He then stood and picked her up off of the couch.

"Ok hon.. you sleep.. I'll just take you to your room."

He carried her across the main floor to the door leading to Dawn's room. Xander pushed it open with his foot then carried her inside, placing her on her bed. He pulled a light blanket over her and placed a kiss on her forehead.

"Sleep well and sweetly."

Xander walked to her door and glanced back smiling.

*I only have a year. I must make the most of it. I need to get Dawn settled into her new life... then try to find a way to send her home.*

Sadness filled his eyes for a moment as he stepped into the hall and closed her door. He didn't want to lose her, but he knew he would. He would lose all of them.

"One year... then it's all over. It's not enough time... and yet, all the time in the world."

Xander sighed and then walked off into the night...

Part 40

"Side... side... front... block... punch... kick... leap... thrust... block... duck..."

Dawn moved in time with Irulan's commands as she sparred with Xander. She had been knocked onto her ass close to a dozen times already since sunrise and it was barely 10:30. As she failed to jump over a leg sweep, Dawn fell onto her ass for the thirteenth time.


Dawn glared up at Xander as he smirked down at her.

"Yeah, yeah, rub it in."

Xander snickered and helped her to her feet. Dawn brushed herself off and sighed.

"How much more before we rest?"

Irulan glanced at the clock.

"You train until noon then you eat and rest then you train again until sunset. You know this Dawn."

Dawn nodded, a tired look in her eyes.

"Yeah, I know, I just wish it wasn't so much work."

Xander laughed causing Dawn to glare at him.


Xander grinned.

"This is nothing. I trained in full gear on top of a stilsuit in the middle of the deep desert. This... this Dawn is a picnic compared to what I had to do."

Irulan nodded. She had heard from Paul what Fremen training was like. Dawn did have it much easier than them.

"He is right, Dawn. Your training is much more relaxed than the training of a Fremen warrior. Paul displayed their training for me on one occasion and I was stunned by the length and complexity of it."

Dawn frowned.


Xander smiled and nodded. He looked around the room at the furniture and equipment and nodded to himself.

"I think I can give you a slight demonstration."

He took a step toward the center of the room then launched into what was a scaled down version of his former daily training. He attacked an invisible assailant as he moved across the stone floor, then one became two, then three. With each new fighter, his level of skill and difficulty increased. At that moment, he included flips and jumps and skills that required more body control than the average fighter.

*Whoa... and they expect me to be able to do that?*

Dawn shook her head and watched in awe as Xander bounced off the walls, flipping in mid-air... then off of thin air as if it were solid. He was doing the impossible.

"Watch him closely Dawn. See how he moves, how his body flows fluidly with a minimum of effort. Follow the lines of force the way I showed you. Do you see it?"

Dawn didn't see it. It was just stuff that reminded her of the way Buffy fought... but then she noticed something. She could see how instead of moving three inches to the right to block a punch, like Buffy would, Xander appeared to roll to the right then continue to roll, moving only an inch and a half. When he stopped rolling, he was further to the side than Buffy would have been... but he only moved half as much. He used half the energy than Buffy would have to do the same thing.

"I see it. He's using less energy to do the same thing Buffy would. He's getting the job done without tiring himself in the process."

Irulan nodded.

"Exactly. Now, do you see what you're doing wrong?"

Dawn shook her head.


Irulan nodded.

"Exactly. This is why you train. If you could see what you were doing wrong, then you would not need to train any more, for you would already know your problem and therefore would have just been lazy."

Xander did a series of flips and spinning flips then ended his routine with a front flip that brought him back to where he began. He bowed to Irulan and Dawn then moved back to their side. As he neared them, Dawn noticed Xander wasn't sweating... he wasn't even breathing hard.

"That, Dawn, is what I would do every day when I was training. Stilgar would do to me as I have done to you, over and over, until the day I was able to best him. It was then he claimed me trained and proclaimed me to be a full Fremen warrior. By the time that day came, I was a good three inches taller, at least 20 to 25 pounds of muscle heavier, and had more bruises and cuts on my body than you could imagine. It took me... a long time... but in the end, I was perfectly suited for where I was. I hope to be able to do the same for you, for as long as you are with me... there will be people out there who will dislike you and even want you dead, just for being my family. Irulan knows this and yet she still chose to help me, to help us. I can think of nothing better in this universe than for you to end up like her. If you end up even half as good as her, then I would be thrilled. All I ask is that you try."

Dawn looked up into Xander's eyes and saw love, faith, pride... hope, in his eyes, for her. It made her feel special... and more determined to learn everything they would teach her. She wanted to make him proud.

"I'm going to do the best I can, Xander. I want to make you proud of me."

Xander smiled and pulled her into a hug.

"I already am, Dawn, I already am."

Irulan watched on and smiled. She could see the love that Dawn felt for Xander and knew now that it wasn't the crush she had before. She could tell that Dawn was more centered now and would be more able to learn that which she needed to learn... but as she looked into Xander's eyes, she noticed something startling. In his eyes there was a look of distance... as if he was separate, a little, from the world around him. It bothered her and confused her, all at the same time. She would need to figure out what was going on before something happened.

Part 41

The lone guard stepped away from the door and walked a few feet down the hallway before stopping. She looked left then right then moved down the hallway to her left, leaving the hallway empty. Moments later, two shadowy shapes dropped into the room from above. They moved to the door and tested the knob - it was unlocked. One of them opened the door and they stepped inside...


Joyce looked in the mirror and frowned at the redness in her eyes. She had been crying ever since they had been thrown out of the enclave... without her daughter.

*Dawn... where are you? Are you ok?*

She looked at the closed door and wished for it to open with her daughter on the other side. She wished this with all her heart... but she knew that it wouldn't happen, her Dawn was gone.

*My baby... my sweet Dawnie...*

A knock at the door caught her attention. She rushed to the door and threw it open.


No... it wasn't Dawn. Buffy stood there staring at her mother. Joyce felt a part of her, deep inside, scowl at her other daughter... but it faded when she saw the pain in her girl's eyes.


Buffy moved forward and fell into her mother's arms, tears falling freely from her eyes now. Joyce pulled her into a hug and shut the door with her foot.

"Shh... it's going to be ok, sweetie."

Buffy sobbed against her mother's chest and shook her head.

"No... it... won't..."

She looked up into her mother's eyes and trembled.

"Xander's gone. Dawn's gone. They're gone and they can't come back... and they won't let us back in there to find them."

Joyce sighed and nodded. Things were so far out of control that she feared they would never return to normal.

"I know sweetie, I know, but don't worry... something is being done."

Buffy frowned and looked at her confused.

"What do you mean?"

It was then she noticed that her mother hadn't unpacked anything yet. Everything was lying on the floor next to the bed. She knew that Giles and Angel had gone off... somewhere... but she didn't know what they were doing.

"What's going on?"

Joyce looked out the window, back in the direction of the enclave, and sighed.

"Honey... Angel and Rupert have gone back to find out what happened."

Buffy's eyes widened in shock.

"They can't! They'll get hurt! Those women are cold, heartless and evil! They will kill them!"

Joyce nodded.

"They could... but I don't believe they will. Angel still has his skills, though lessened some, and Rupert is adept at breaking into secure locations. I believe they will be ok."

She looked into her daughter's eyes and smiled.

"Buffy, they're going to find out what happened to Xander and Dawn. They're going to find a way to get them back. Trust me in this."

Buffy saw the faith her mother had shining in her eyes... and for a moment, all her fears were gone... but regretfully, that moment was just that, a moment. Once that moment passed, those fears and doubts that were plaguing her mind came flooding back.

"What if you're wrong?"

Joyce shook her head.

"I'm not. I have faith in them, Buffy. You should too."

She leaned in closer to her daughter's face.

"Can you do that for me, Buffy? Can you have faith that they'll succeed?"

Buffy pondered it for a moment then slowly nodded.

"Yes... I can try."

Joyce smiled and pulled her daughter back into a hug, rocking her gently, trying her best to soothe her troubled mind...


Two shadows emerged from the inky blackness of the lower chambers of the enclave and moved to peer down at the main cathedral that was the audience chamber. A meeting was already in progress as they looked on and watched.

"What are the findings?"

A red-haired woman in her 30's looked up at the woman who spoke and nodded.

"Traces of purified spice essence were discovered on the floor of Xander's room, in the teacup, and the teapot. Sister Andrea made a report on this discovery. I have it here."

She held up a small bundle of paper and then smiled. Quickly she ripped the paper to shreds, letting them fall to her feet.

"Good... no one must know the truth of what has happened."

The woman who spoke turned to another woman and nodded.

"Sister Elisa... what were you able to discover about his genetics?"

A short blonde woman stepped forward and grinned evilly.

"He is a fine specimen. I have examined his blood and compared it with the enclave's files. Any children from him will be exceptional and will have an 80 percent chance, or higher, of breeding true."

She paused.

"He's perfect. His children will be Kwizats Hadderach... all of them. All we have to do is make contact with the sisterhood on Gallach and have them hold him under guard. Then, when those outsiders have gone completely, we can have him returned to us. They will understand. It is for the good of the breeding program."

High above them, the two shadows looked at each other and nodded... then vanished back into the darkness behind them.


Angel pulled off his hood and took a deep breath. He looked over at Giles and shook his head.

"They did it to him on purpose. They hurt him on purpose!"

Giles looked at Angel, anger burning in his eyes, and for a moment... Angel saw Ripper screaming to be set free.

"I know. They're going to pay... oh yes... they will pay, but not until they bring him back."

He locked eyes with Angel and scowled.

"We will wait until they summon him back... then... only then will we attack."

He paused, a dark look in his eyes.

"We will do this alone. Buffy will not understand. We will go in there and remove anything in out path."

Angel nodded. He felt the same.

"We will kill them... save a few needed in case all is not well. We will bathe in their blood, until it is just you, me, those few, and Xander... and if Dawn is not with him, we will rip apart this building until they summon her as well."

Giles nodded.

"Genocide. We will let loose the wrath of God upon them. This... We... Vow."

Part 42

Sister Elisa keyed in the commands to connect to the great computer on Gallach and waited for a response. Moments later, green lights lit up across the screen before her.

*Accessing main communications array... lower cavern 32... subsection S... and now to see if anyone is there...*

The screen filled with text followed by a prompt. Elisa keyed in her access id and password and waited for her contact to respond...


Giles looked down at the lone sister who sat before the large computer and glared angrily at her.

*What the hell is taking her so bloody long?!*

He shook his head and wished her to move faster.

*Get a move on you stupid bint!*

Angel glanced over at Giles and saw the anger still livid on his face. He wasn't Giles anymore, he had gone far beyond that sometime earlier. He was Ripper now. Angel felt the same. He knew Angelus no longer lived within him... but still, there was still seething pit of rage bubbling away deep in his core that felt so much like the way Angelus used to. It felt almost like he was still there... and just as pissed off as they were at what had happened. Angelus had wanted to be the one who eventually killed Xander... and these women, they had stolen it from him. He was beyond pissed. Angel was a little afraid of what might happen if and when he let that part of himself out to play. All he knew is that it wasn't going to be pretty.

*Damn it woman... summon him already!*


Sister Elisa stared at the screen as her contact appeared.

"Request information."

Type crawled across the screen quickly in response.

"What do you need?"

Elisa smiled and took a breath.

"Location of Brother Xander. Important that he be placed into custody by order of the breeding council. Brother Xander is pure line, 80 percent or higher chance of breeding KH true for each child."

There was nothing for a moment then four words appeared, and with, her heart stopped.

"He is not here."

She frowned in confusion and shook her head.

"Where is he? He has to be there. We sent him back to you."

The screen remained dark for what felt like minutes then words slowly appeared.

"He has not arrived here, or anywhere in the universe. He is no more."

Sister Elisa gasped in shock and backed away in horror.

"Dear Gods no... it can't be!"

She got up and fled the room... the screen still on and connected. Moments later, two forms entered the room and moved to the console.

"What does this mean?"

Giles slammed his fist into the screen and winced as it shattered... the glass cutting his hand.

"It means they've killed him... both of them."

He looked up into Angel's eyes and shivered. In that moment, Angel saw something inside Giles collapse.

"They're dead... I've lost two more of my children."

Angel looked at the remains of the screen and felt himself take in a shuddering breath.

"I can't believe it. What... what do we tell the girls?"

Giles paled and shook his head.

"What can we tell them...? The truth... they're gone."

He looked around once then sighed.

"We might as well go home. There is nothing holding us here now."

Angel nodded then looked up.

"Want to kill them anyway?"

Giles looked into Angel's eyes and slowly nodded.

"We'll go out the main doors. Anything we run into on the way... dies."

Angel nodded and pulled out his weapons, with Giles copying him. They looked up at the ceiling and, as one, said a short prayer to whoever was watching Xander and Dawn.

*Keep them safe with you... and protect us on our way, if it pleases you.*

Giles let out a breath and popped his neck once. He turned to Angel and nodded.

"Let's do this."

Angel nodded and they moved in the direction the sister had run off earlier...


Sister Elisa ran into the council chamber and up to Reverend Mother Felice.

"Reverend Mother!"

Felice turned her head and nodded.


Elisa took a breath and centered herself.

"He's dead."

Felice's eyes widened and she stared at Elisa in shock.

"What did you say?"

Elisa nodded.

"Brother Xander never arrived on Gallach. He is nowhere in the universe. They cannot feel him anywhere. He's gone. We've failed."

Felice started to tremble... then shake... as rage filled her. She got to her feet and began ripping apart everything around her. Elisa watched in awe and terror, backing away slowly from the elder woman in fear. She made it to the door and was about to open it when suddenly pain flashed through her body. She gasped and looked down to see a foot of steel extending from her stomach. She blinked a few times before her eyes rolled back in her head and she was no more. The blade slid back into her body and the door was kicked open. Two forms entered the room and attacked. In the confusion, no one was able to lift a finger to defend themselves. Within moments, they were all dead. The two forms nodded then moved back into the hall and onward, death in their wake...

Part 43

Joyce stared out the window at the road, her eyes locked on it. She had been sitting there for hours it seemed with Buffy, Willow, Tara or Cordy keeping vigil with her. She had told them she wasn't going to move from that spot until her love came back.

*Please return to me safely, my love, please...*

It was drawing closer and closer to sunset and she was getting ready to ask one of the girls to get her something to eat when two forms appeared over the ridge of the road. Her heart leapt into her throat as she felt something... intimate... coming from one of them.


She jumped to her feet and ran down the stairs. She bolted out onto the street and ran toward the two figures. As she grew closer, she could see that she was right.


Giles looked up and weakly smiled as Joyce, his love, ran toward him. As she drew near, he heard her gasp in terror.

"Oh baby!"

She had every right to be shocked. He was being held up by Angel and had a hand clamped over his side... staunching the flood of blood from a shallow but wide wound. Angel wasn't that much better. They both had barely made it out alive.

"Oh my god... you're hurt! Buffy! Cordy! Willow! Tara! Hurry!"

She moved to take Giles's other side and they moved onward to the hotel. As they neared it, the girls emerged and freaked. Cordy ran to Angel and started to cry at the blood that coated both him and Giles from head to toe.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god..."

She moved to touch Angel all over, letting Buffy take Giles from him, wincing each time he gasped in pain.

"Oh baby..."

Angel tried to smile as they walked into the hotel and leaned down to kiss her lips.

"Honey... calm down... not all of this is mine."

Cordy looked him up and down and frowned.

"But some is?"

Angel nodded and pointed to a large gash on his left arm that was bleeding heavily.

"Yes... here."

Cordy took her shirt and ripped off the bottom. She wrapped it around his gash and pulled tight.


Cordy glared at him.

"Shut up you baby! You got hurt! You deserve the pain buster!"

Angel nodded and moved to sit down next to Giles on the couch. He hadn't noticed the other man sit down, but seeing the look in Joyce and Buffy's eyes... he assumed it had happened similar to himself.

"What happened?"

Giles looked up at Willow and sighed.

"Get us some bandages and any healing spells you girls know would be appreciated, and we will tell you everything."

Willow and Tara nodded and moved to quickly help them. Within minutes, Giles and Angel were cleaned up some and bandaged. They sat down across from the two men and nodded for them to begin. Giles looked over at Angel and sighed.

"For starters... we have some bad news. Xander and Dawn are..."

He felt his voice break and tears fell from his eyes. The women looked on in terror and slowly broke into tears.

"No... no... not again no... no...!"

Buffy shook in pain and fell from her chair onto the floor as Joyce cried out in anguish and fell against Giles's side weeping. Willow and Tara clutched onto each other and openly wept. Cordy crawled into Angel's lap and cried into his shoulder.

The worst thing that could have happened to them had happened... again.

Xander and Dawn... were dead.

Part 44

There was nothing keeping them there any longer. They packed up their belongings and headed back to the airport. As the others loaded their luggage onto the conveyor belt, Buffy was in the women's restroom. Her stomach felt strange and she had felt queasy the last week... ever since hearing that Xander and Dawn were dead.

*It's not true... it can't be true...*

She felt a wave of nausea hit her again and her head dropped down over the toilet once more as her stomach heaved up the toast she had managed to choke down only an hour earlier. A painful moan escaped her lips as she wiped her mouth clean and climbed to her feet. She flushed the toilet and stumbled to the sink. As she washed her mouth out, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror and was startled by how pale she was now.

*My god... I look terrible.*

"Buffy... you ok in there?"

Buffy turned her head toward the door and swallowed back the residue in her mouth.

"Not... really..."

Joyce pushed the door open and walked over to her daughter.

"Honey... you're so pale. Are you feeling any better?"

Buffy shook her head and felt her stomach lurch again. She turned and bolted back into the stall. Seconds later, the sounds of her vomiting again filled the room. Joyce stared at the closed stall door and frowned.

*She's been sick so many days now. It's got to be stress, because there's no way it could be...*

Joyce paused and counted back days in her mind. It was fairly close, but doable number wise.

*Could it be? Could my baby be...*

Buffy heaved once more and began to cry. Joyce stepped back as the stall door opened, then helped Buffy over to the sink.

"Baby... are you sure you can fly like this?"

Buffy shook her head.

"I don't know... but I don't have a choice. I want to go home. I want to see Dr. Berk... not some quack here. I want someone who knows what they're talking about... not some idiot..."

Joyce frowned. Buffy had gone to a local doctor when she had gotten first sick, then had stormed back into the hotel an hour later and wouldn't tell anyone what she had found out.

*If he told her all of this, and she doesn't believe it, it might explain her wanting to see Howard so badly.*

"Buffy... what did he tell you?"

Buffy looked at her mother and let her eyes travel down to the bulge that was becoming noticeable now and sighed.

"He's an idiot. He doesn't know what he's saying. It's not possible... it's just not possible..."

Joyce followed Buffy's eyes down to her stomach and it all came so clear.


Buffy looked her in the eyes.


Joyce smiled and moved closer to her daughter.

"Baby... are you pregnant?"

Buffy's eyes widened and a single tear fell down her cheek. Slowly, she nodded her head... then flew into her mother's arms, crying her eyes out.

"Shh... sweetie.. it's ok... it's going to be ok."

Buffy shook her head and sobbed against her mother.

"No it's not... I'm all alone... and my baby's father is dead...Oh God mom... he's dead..."

Joyce pulled back so she could look into Buffy's eyes.

"You're not alone. You have me and Giles, and Willow and Tara, and Cody and Angel. You have all of us. We'll help you through this, baby. You'll be fine."

Buffy shook her head.

"But Xander..."

Joyce nodded.

"He's gone... I know... but do you really think he'd want you crying yourself sick over this? Do you think he'd want you to do anything to hurt yourself or the baby?"

Buffy shook her head slowly.


Joyce nodded.

"Exactly... so calm down. We'll work through this together. Everything's going to be fine."

She wiped Buffy's cheeks dry and smiled.

"Now... the flight leaves in 20 minutes. Let's get you some ginger ale and some crackers. They'll settle your stomach, and when we get home we'll get you over to see Howard as soon as we can. Ok?"

Buffy nodded and smiled in return.


She hugged her mom and smiled, her stomach settling some.

"I love you, Mom..."

Joyce smiled and kissed the top of Buffy's head.

"I love you too... mom."

Buffy smiled and together they walked back into the airport...

Part 45

Time passed, as it always does, and with it many things changed. Xander, Irulan and Jessica worked hard to train Dawn in her skills. They worked for many hours, every day, drilling the knowledge into her mind until it had become second nature. Xander then took Dawn aside and worked with her separately, honing the skills she possessed until she was able to complete every move swiftly and fluidly...


Xander watched as Dawn moved across the charred field, moving from outcropping of rock to outcropping of rock, like someone born to grace and skill. She seemed to flow from point to point, fluidly. It was something Xander had been waiting to see for a long, long time.

*She's has honed her skills to a degree I had not hoped for. She is very graceful and is able to hit each and every move we taught her perfectly. I fear there is nothing more I can teach her without running the risk of hurting her and condemning her to a life like mine.*

He frowned and felt his face darken as the realization of it all hit him.

*I've taken her as far as I can. I... I have to work on taking her home now.*

Dawn backflipped off a rock ledge and landed on her feet before Xander.

"Ta da!"

Xander looked up at her smiling face and grinned.

"That was perfect, Dawn, just perfect."

Dawn beamed at Xander and rushed forward to hug him.

"Really... oh wow... this is so cool..."

Xander winced and pulled back some.

"Eww, Dawn... you're all sweaty..."

Dawn squinted her eyes at Xander and frowned.

"I'll have you know, girls don't sweat, Xander, we glisten."

Xander laughed.

"Ok.. then you're glistening like a pig."

Dawn glared at Xander and hit him in the chest.

"That's not funny, Xander. I've been working like this for close to four hours now, its hot out here, there's hardly any shade, and..."

Xander was trying hard not to laugh at her, but Dawn caught it.

"... you faker you... oh I am so going to get you for this."

She playfully slapped the side of his head and rolled her eyes. Xander laughed at her then picked her up to spin her around in a circle.

"Hey! Put me down!"

Xander lowered her to her feet and smiled.

"You've done it, Dawn."

Dawn raised an eyebrow and looked him in the eyes.

"Done what?"

Xander smiled wider.

"You've learned all I can teach you. To learn more, you would have to have ingested more spice... enough to permanently change you into a sister... and no, you're not going to do that."

He smirked at her small pout and shook his head.

"Don't give me that look, Dawn. Trust me... you don't want to go any further."

Dawn nodded and grudgingly agreed.

"Ok.. so what happens now?"

Xander pulled her over to a rock ledge and sat down. He patted the spot next to him and smiled when Dawn sat down.

"Dawn... how are you feeling about all of this?"

Dawn looked at Xander, confused by his question.

"What do you mean?"

Xander sighed.

"Dawn... we've been together here for more than half a year. You've been away from your friends, your family, all of those you love for so long. Do you miss them?"

Dawn looked down at her feet. She did miss them. She missed them all so much it hurt, but there was nothing she could do about it... so why think about it.

"I miss them with everything in me. I miss Buffy. I miss my mom. I miss everyone."

She looked up at Xander, tears forming in her eyes.

"I can't do anything about it, so why bring it up?"

Xander looked at her and swallowed. He had been working on a theory for some time now and wasn't sure if he could do what it was he needed to do. While he and the women had been training Dawn, he himself had also been training. He had been exploring his mind, exploring the mental pathways that led to his power, and had found something... different.

"What if there was something..."

Dawn blinked in shock and grabbed Xander's face, locking his eyes on hers.

"What are you saying?"

Xander sighed and looked deep into her eyes.

"Dawn... do you want to go home?"

Dawn gasped and jerked back in shock. Home... Xander was asking her if she wanted to go home. It was something she had hoped for but knew she would never be able to have... and now it was being offered to her. It was so much to take in.

"Are... are you teasing me, Xander? If you are... this isn't funny."

Xander shook his head.

"No, Dawn, I would never do that to you... you know that. I mean it. Do you want to go home?"

Dawn nodded slowly.

"Yes... more than anything. I want to go home... but how?"

Xander took a breath and nodded to himself. He would have to tell her everything.

"I've been working on examining the spell that brought me here in the first place... and the instances that brought me back to Earth and then back here. I've examined them in miniscule detail in my mind and I believe I have found a pattern..."

Xander paused and closed his eyes.

"There are... I guess you could best describe them as paths... in the universe. When I was brought here, I was taken along one of these paths. It looks, to me at least, like a road made of energy."

Dawn nodded.

"Uh huh... go on."

Xander sighed.

"There are many of these... paths... in the universe. They all led to different places and times. The best way to tell them apart is to picture them as different colors. The one that took me here is a vibrant orange color entwined around a pale electric blue."

Dawn watched Xander as he opened his eyes to look at her.


Xander smiled weakly.

"I think I have figured out a way to get back onto this path, and I believe, traveling it, I can take you home."

Dawn's eyes widened in awe and she threw her arms around him, hugging him with everything in her.

"Oh Xander! You're going to take us home! This is so cool! Can we go now?!"

Xander shook his head.

"I can't access the path from here. We're going to have to go someplace very dangerous..."

Dawn pulled back and looked into his eyes and was shocked to see fear in those blue orbs.

"Xander... you look scared. What is it?"

Xander shivered and swallowed hard.

"We have to return to Dune... to the exact location where we arrived."

Dawn frowned for a moment then understood.


Xander nodded.

"Yes, Leto. We would have to face him again... and I fear that it would be impossible to get deep enough into the complex without him knowing and then attacking us."

Dawn nodded, understanding his fear, then remembered something else.

"Xander... what about Irulan?"

Xander shook his head.

"No. She's not going with us. It's too dangerous for her... not now."

Dawn shook her head.

"No.. I mean, can you leave her... what with..."

Xander shook his head and tears fell onto Dawn's face.

"You're... you're not going back with me, are you?"

Xander shook his head.

"I'm sorry Dawn. I can't leave her, I just..."

Soft humming drifted in on the wind and they turned to see Irulan walking toward them from over the ridge.

"Hello there. How is everything going?"

Xander turned his head as he wiped his eyes quickly, then looked back and smiled.

"Everything is fine. Dawn's completed everything we discussed."

Irulan walked toward them, her clothing billowing in the wind, a smile on her face.

"That's wonderful. Congratulations Dawn."

Dawn smiled at Irulan and laughed.

"Thanks Irulan."

Irulan laughed and then moved to Xander's side. She bent down and kissed his cheek and her clothing pulled tight against her... revealing a noticeable bulging of her stomach.

"I came to tell you that dinner was ready... but now we should celebrate. I'll go tell Jessica and Gurney."

She smiled warmly at Xander and grinned.

"Will you be returning soon?"

Xander smiled and nodded.

"We'll be on our way back in a little bit."

Irulan nodded and then headed back toward their home. As she faded over the ridge, Xander sighed.

"No Dawn... I can't leave her... her and my little girl, not now, not ever."

He looked at Dawn and smiled.

"But I am going to get you home... no matter what."

Dawn nodded and smiled.

"I understand Xander, I really do. I'm not saying I like the fact that I'll never see you again, but I understand you not wanting to abandon your baby."

She paused and looked contemplative for a moment.

"It will be ok though, won't it?"

Xander nodded.

"I certainly hope so, Dawn. I certainly hope so."

He got to his feet and reached out a hand to her. Dawn took it and let Xander pull her to her feet.

"Come on, let's go eat. We have an adventure to plan..."

Dawn smiled and slid an arm around Xander's waist as they walked back home...

Part 46

Time is a fickle thing. While five or six months passed for Dawn and Xander... more passed for the rest of the world they knew before. Time passed ever onward, leaving them behind until it seemed to fly by in flashes...


"Push baby... come on... you can do it."

Joyce brushed her fingers through Buffy's wet hair as she lay in the hospital bed striving to bring her own child into the world. She glanced back at her husband, Rupert, and saw him watching, a look of fear and worry in his eyes, while he held their newborn son, Jacob.

"I can't... it hurts and I'm too tired..."

Buffy had been in labor for hours and hours and was dripping with sweat. All of her energy had gone into trying to get her baby out into the world... but after almost a day of this, she was exhausted.

"You have to... just a little more sweetie."

The doctor looked up from between Buffy's legs and nodded.

"Come on Buffy... you're so close. I can see the baby's head. You just need to push hard for me."

Joyce lifted the back of Buffy's head as Buffy pushed once more.

"That's it... keep going... keep going... ok wait a moment."

The doctor shifted the baby slightly and its shoulders passed through then the rest began to move quickly down and out.

"One more..."

Buffy took a breath and pushed and then groaned as she felt the baby... her baby.. come out finally. The next thing she heard was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard in her life... the sound of her baby's cry.

"It's a boy!"

Buffy felt herself start to cry as she looked down and saw the most precious little boy in all the world being lifted up toward her.

"Is it... is he?"

Joyce nodded and kissed the top of Buffy's head.

"He's perfect baby. He's got all 10 fingers and toes...and the most beautiful tiny brown curls of hair on his head."

The nurses took the baby away for a few moments then brought him back and placed him in his mother's arms. Buffy looked down at him as he wiggled in her arms and yawned. He opened his eyes and looked up at her and had the most beautiful set of brown eyes she had seen... well, second most beautiful.

"Hey there... I'm your mommy... and I love you so much."

Joyce smiled down at her daughter and her grandson and felt an arm come around behind her. She looked over her shoulder at her husband and took her own baby into her arms.

"Jacob... take a look at what you're big sister just brought into the world. Take a look at..."

Buffy looked up at her mother and smiled.


Joyce and Giles smiled and nodded.

"Jacob... meet your nephew Alexander."

Baby Jacob smiled and cooed down at the new baby and then curled into his mother's arms and fell asleep. It was a lovely moment with a new life so recently brought into their world. All was prefect except for one thing... there were two people missing who should be there... Xander and Dawn.


A small boy with dark hair ran through the sprinklers laughing as his family watched and smiled. He was being chased by an older boy with blonde hair who had been trying to tickle him for the last 20 minutes.

"Gonna get you Alex."

Alex laughed and shook his head as he jumped over the spinning sprinkler head.

"Nuh uh... can't catch me Jacob."

He laughed as he felt Jacob's fingers brush against his bare back and put on a small burst of speed. Alex could run faster than the other children... not by much, mind you, but he was getting a little faster every day.

"Uh huh... I'm gonna get you."

They laughed and chased each other for hours until Buffy stepped outside and rolled her eyes.

"Dinner.. inside both of you."

Hearing the magic word, both boys stopped and ran for the porch. Jacob ran up to his daddy and hugged him as Alex just stood there and smiled.


Giles nodded.

"Yes sport?"

Alex smiled. He liked his nickname. He was sport while Jacob was tiger.

"Grandpa... can you tell me about Daddy again?"

Giles smiled, a small glimmer of sadness in his eyes as he looked down at the little four-year-old, and nodded.

"Well sport, your daddy was a very brave man. He loved everyone you know... and some you never got to meet. He saved your mommy's life when they first met... and then saved it again later. He was the closest thing I had to a son... and it was the worst day of my life when I learned that he was gone, along with your aunt Dawn."

Giles looked at Alex and could already see so much of Xander in him. Alex looked up at his grandpa and smiled.

"Do you think daddy would have liked me?"

Giles nodded.

"He loves you, Alex, even now. I know he does."

Giles got to his feet and ruffled Alex's hair.

"Come on now...Let's go eat."

He took the boys hands then together they walked inside...


Xander stared into Irulan's eyes as she cried softly.

"I'm sorry, but you know that it's too dangerous for you."

Irulan nodded and wiped her eyes.

"I know, but why now? Why not wait until Erica is born and then let us all go?"

Xander sighed. He hadn't told anyone about how everything depended on planetary alignment and other matters. He really didn't understand it all himself and didn't want to try to explain it.

"It has to be now and it has to be there. If I wait until Erica is born, the window will be closed... maybe forever."

He caressed her face and moved in for a kiss. It was soft and sweet and full of love.

"I'll be careful and once I have Dawn home safely, I'll be back. This is my home now. You're my home."

Irulan nodded once slowly and sighed.

"You had better be careful... or so help me I'll make you pay."

Xander smiled and kissed her again.

"I will... I promise."

He then turned and, taking her hand, led her back into the main room. The others looked up as they entered and smiled.

"Ready Dawn?"

Dawn had her things together in a backpack and looked all set. She nodded and smiled.

"I'm ready."

She turned to everyone and a tear fell from her eyes.

"Gurney... I'm going to miss you. You're like the dad I never had. My dad never really cared that much... so thank you for everything you've done for me."

Gurney smiled and pulled her into a hug.

"I know the feeling, kitten, I know. Thank you."

Dawn smiled and looked next at Jessica.

"Jessica... you've been like a second mom for me. I can see now why Xander turned out so well. Anyone who has been loved by you is lucky and I am thankful that I was able to experience that love myself. Thank you."

Jessica cried and hugged Dawn as if she were her own blood.

"I'll miss you too, baby. You be good."

Dawn nodded and moved over to Irulan.

"Irulan... I'm going to miss you most of all. You've been both mother and sister to me. You've been so kind and welcoming... yet hard and demanding when it was necessary. You've taught me so much. I'm going to miss you and miss not being here to see your baby born."

Dawn paused and wiped her eyes.

"I'm going to miss you. I love you, Irulan."

Irulan wept openly and opened her arms. Dawn flew into them and clung to her as if she was all that was keeping her standing.

"I love you too, Dawn. I love you too. I'm going to miss you so much..."

Dawn sniffed and wiped her eyes as she felt Xander's hand on her shoulder.

"It's time. We have to be going now."

Gurney looked around and frowned.

"You didn't say anything about how you're getting there. Do you need me to be your pilot?"

Xander shook his head.

"I don't need a ship anymore. I've learned enough now to understand how the Navigators travel without moving..."

They gaped and stared in awe.


Xander nodded.

"I know... but I can do it. I think Paul could as well... at the end. I have these... faint memories that I know had to be his floating in the other memory. I can do this."

He took Dawn's hand and made sure her stilsuit was secure. He had checked his own earlier and had had Irulan double-check it for him as well.

"You ready hon?"

Dawn looked up at Xander and smiled.

"I'm ready."

Xander closed his eyes and reached out into the vastness that was space. He took where they were and placed it on his left then took Arrakis and placed it on his right. He then folded the space between them together until the two worlds were superimposed on top of each other... then pulled Dawn and himself through.

As the others watched, Xander and Dawn vanished before their eyes. Irulan touched her hand to her chest and closed her eyes.

"Good luck... my love."


The guardsmen walked along the walkway as the night crept ever onward. They failed to notice two figures appear out of nothingness on the sand below them.

"Ok... follow close to me and no talking from here on."

Dawn nodded and followed Xander as he moved toward the walled city. They moved silently into the city then crept from alleyway to alleyway until the walls of the palace were visible. Xander took Dawn's hand and tightened the bubble of invisibility that lived around him closer to their bodies. Together, they walked slowly toward the palace.


Leto stared out into the night. He could sense that something was off in the darkness... but he wasn't sure what.

*Where are you, you pathetic scum? Are you dead, like they tell me, or have you just hidden yourself away somewhere?*

Leto growled and crushed the glass in his hand to powder.

*Doesn't matter where you are, Xander, I will find you.*

As he glared at his unseen enemy, he never noticed or felt said enemy just then enter through a lower entrance...


Xander looked down the hall and saw that it was clear. He squeezed Dawn's hand and then moved into the hall.

*One more level then we hit the throne room... then it's just a matter of doing the ceremony and we are off.*

Xander walked toward the large gilt doors and opened them slowly. He peeked inside and was gratified to find it empty. They walked inside and he carefully closed the door.

"Move to the center of the room, Dawn, while I get ready."

Dawn nodded and moved to stand on a large mosaic medallion set in the tiled floor. Xander moved to stand in front of her while he pulled out his crysknife.

"This is going to hurt Dawn. I'm sorry."

Dawn nodded, understanding suddenly what he had to do.

"It's ok."

Xander nodded and dropped his invisibility. He knew it was dangerous, but he needed all of his energy...


Leto's head jerked as he felt Xander appear suddenly out of nowhere.

*What?! How?!!*

He turned and ran to the door.

"Guards! Intruder in the palace... in the throne room!"

He smiled evilly and ran in the direction of his throne room.

"I have you now, Xander..."


Xander gathered all of his energy together into a condensed core of power. He was almost ready.

"Dawn... give me your hand."

Dawn extended her hand and Xander carefully cut her... not much, but enough to make her bleed. Dawn winced at the pain but held herself steady. Xander watched the blood pool in her hand then sliced his own palm open.

"Blood to blood I link us."

Xander took her hand in his and squeezed hard. Their blood mingled and Xander felt a surge of power flow through him. Dawn's eyes widened in shock as a rush of energy exploded through her body. As her eyes rolled back in her head, she could swear she could see a green glow surrounding their bodies. As everything grew brighter, the doors opened and there stood Leto.


Leto moved toward them, as if in slow motion, and Xander reached out with all the energy in him and folded space...


As Leto watched, Xander and Dawn were surrounded in a green glow... then vanished.


As his scream echoed through the palace, he destroyed everything in the room...


In the woods just on the edge of town a freak wind appeared out of nowhere. The animals jerked and ran away in fear. Slowly... a dot of green light appeared... then began to grow. Brighter and brighter it grew until it formed into two beings. Two bodies solidified slowly until Xander and Dawn were visible. The light faded and then was gone... leaving Xander and Dawn standing alone in the middle of the woods. Dawn opened her eyes and looked around.

"I think we made it."

She looked up at Xander and became concerned when she saw his eyes were still closed.


Xander opened his eyes and said just two words.

"Get... help..."

His eyes rolled back in his head as his body crumpled to the ground. As Dawn dropped to his side, she felt a wash of fear run through her body.

*No... not this... not now!*

She looked up at the dappled sunlight through the trees and judged the time to just an hour or so after noon.

"You're going to be ok, Xander, I'm going to go get help."

She brushed his hair from his eyes then got up and ran in the direction she figured was town... knowing a life was on the line...

Part 47

A soft breeze drifted through the trees as the sound of running footsteps faded into the distance. Green trickles of energy cascaded across Xander's body as he lay in the leaves and dirt. His muscles twitched and soft grunts of pain escaped his lips with every sharp burst of energy that washed over and through him. It was clear that not all had gone as planned.

*Oh God this hurts...*

Xander opened his eyes and stared at a small beetle directly in front of his nose. It was crawling toward him slowly and he could swear it had a nasty gleam in its eyes.

*Go away... shoo... don't even think about biting or stinging me... go on now... get...*

The beetle stopped moving and seemed to stare at Xander for a moment before it started moving again, this time away from Xander. He let out a soft breath in relief and tried to move. Shock filled him when he realized his body appeared to be frozen in place by some means.


He tried to look up, but it was hard to see much of anything lying on his stomach as he was.


There was no reply.

*Where is...*

It was then he remembered that he had sent her for help. He winced and sighed.

*So not a good thing. I didn't tell her 'who' to get. God I hope she doesn't get Buffy. I so do not want to face her right now. If she pulls any of her shit on me so help me I will wipe that condescending look off her face...*

A rustling sound came to his hear then and Xander glanced sideways.


The rustle happened again and then something small and furry moved out of a bush to his right.

"What's... what's there?"

The furry thing moved closer to Xander; inching bit by bit toward him, until he could make out that is was a small brown dog... not much older than a puppy.

"Hey there... hi..."

The puppy moved closer and started to sniff Xander from all sides. It moved around his body, poking its cold, wet nose into different sensitive places, before it came to his face. Xander looked into two shining black eyes and smiled.


He glanced down the puppy and smirked.

"Hey boy... hi there."

The puppy sat down in front of Xander and began to pant happily. It barked once, a high-pitched yip, then moved in to lick Xander's nose. Xander laughed and tried to move away from the tickling tongue... but he couldn't.

"Hey... cut that out..."

The puppy licked him for a little bit more then stopped and jerked his head to the right. A soft growl rumbled in his chest before he got to his tiny puppy feet and moved between Xander and... the unknown.

"What is it boy?"

The puppy openly growled and moved slowly toward Xander, the whole time keeping his eyes on the shadows off to the edge of Xander's sight...


Dawn ran through the trees, flying almost it seemed to anything watching her, moving much faster than someone her size and age should be able to move. She had called upon all of her training and skills, bending them to her will... making them completely a part of her, allowing her to tap into energies that she hadn't before. Because of this, she made it quickly through and then out of the woods and across town in just under five minutes.

She wasn't thinking as she ran. All that was in her mind was one thing... getting help. That's what Xander wanted... what he needed more than anything else in the world right now. Who knew what was going on inside him, what the trip did to him, what that much power did to him. He could be dieing at this very moment and no one would know.

*No... don't go there... just get home and hope that someone is there who can help.*

Dawn turned the corner of the block and saw a sight she hadn't seen in so long. There just three houses down was her home. She slowed to a walk as shock passed through her. She was home; she was finally home, after such a long time.

"I'm home..."

Dawn wiped her tears from her eyes, then ran quickly up the driveway and the steps. She moved to open the door when something stopped her. She was afraid. For some reason she was totally afraid to take one step more. It was as if some force had halted her in place.

*What... what am I scared of? This is my home. My family is here. I belong here.*

She belonged there, that much she knew was true, but part of her... a small part, mind you... wondered if she really did belong there. That part of her wondered if she really belonged with... maybe Xander... or with the monks who made her... or maybe with someone else entirely.

*Come on now! Snap out of this. You don't have time for this. You have to get help! You have to get back to Xander, he's hurt! You have to get help now!*

Dawn shook her head and took a deep breath. Her hand reached out and took hold of the knob. She turned it and slowly opened the door...


Alex looked down at the drawing in front of him and chewed on his lower lip. He had been working on it all morning. It was a present for his mommy. He wanted to draw her something to make her happy. He had seen her crying the night before and when he had asked her why she was crying, she had just said she missed his daddy... so Alex wanted to make her happy again.

*What should I do now... red or green... I want it to look good...*

He was drawing his family. He had already drawn the house and backyard. He had Grandpa and Grandma side-by-side on the swing set...

*Used up all of my gray on grandpa. I'm gonna have to get him to get me a new one.*

He let his eyes trail to the right and smiled at his drawing of Aunt Willow and Aunt Tara. He had used lots of bright colors for them and was trying to decide if they needed more. As it was now, he had Aunt Willow in a red, brown, green and yellow dress... one he knew she didn't actually have, he just liked the way they looked together... and had Aunt Tara in as close as he could come to her dress that was three shades of brown.

*Going to need to find my sharpener after I get done... my crayons are getting all nubby again.*

He looked next at Aunt Cordy and Uncle Angel and smiled. Uncle Angel liked to wear black all the time, but not in his drawing. Alex laughed and smiled at what he had done. Instead of black, Uncle Angel was dressed in baby blue and tan. He snickered under his breath as he pictured the look on Uncle Angel's face when he sees the drawing later.

*He's going to go all growly at me... and Aunt Cordy will spank him again.*

Alex giggled and looked at the rest of the drawing. All that was left was him, Jake and his mommy. He and Jake were in their matching superhero outfits... while his mommy was in her pink dress. He thought he had done a really good job, but something was missing. He had this blank space off to the side where he had randomly doodled different colors.

*Don't really know what that's supposed to be...*

As Alex let his mind drift, his hand continued to draw... slowing making images all on its own. Off to the side of the piece of paper... what looked like a blob of green appeared. Alex dropped the green crayon and grasped randomly for another crayon. He moved his crayon up and down then side to side... on top of the green... until something told him to stop. Blinking, Alex looked down at the paper and his eyes widened in surprise. He had drawn, off to the side, what looked like two stick people surrounded by a blob of green.

*What's that supposed to mean?*

He continued to stare at it for a minute more before he heard the front door open. Alex smiled and got up. He figured it was mommy. She had done to the store earlier, leaving him with Grandma, and he was looking forward to showing her the drawing he made for her.

"That you, Mommy?"

Alex turned around and his eyes widened with fear when he saw someone he hadn't seen before standing in the doorway.

"Who are you?! Grandma, help!"


Joyce looked in the oven and smiled.

*Just a little bit more and they'll be done.*

She was making cookies for Jacob's birthday and was pleased, so far, with this last batch. They looked and smelled heavenly and if they tasted even half as good... then they should be great.

*Just a little more... and done.*

Joyce removed the tray from the oven and set it aside to cool. She had been baking all morning and was close to being done. She was all alone in the house... except for little Alex. She was watching him while everyone else prepared for the party. Rupert and Jacob were out having some father/son time, Willow and Tara were doing some last minute shopping, Angel and Cordy were picking up the cake from the bakery, and Buffy had gone to the store to get some icing.

*Such a lovely day so far.*

It had been a nice morning. Alex was being good. He was in the living room and had been drawing with his crayons all morning. She had asked him what he was drawing and when he said it was something to make his mommy not cry anymore, she almost cried herself. He was such a good little boy.

*He's so precious... sweet and kind... smart and polite. I wonder if that's what Xander was like as a little boy...*

Xander... it had been over six years since he and Dawn had vanished... six long years. She didn't know how they had all made it through. The first year had been hard. Buffy cried nearly all the time. She had too. She had lost her baby girl, her little pumpkin-belly, her Dawn.

*Still hurts so much...*

Joyce wiped a tear from her eye and took a deep breath. She heard the front door open and smiled. She heard Alex's voice and moved toward the living room, then paused when she heard her grandson's scared voice.

"Who are you?! Grandma, help!"

Joyce rushed forward into the room, ready for anything, then stopped at what she saw before her.

"My God..."


Dawn pushed the door open and stepped inside. As she stepped into the living room, she heard a soft voice to her left.

"That you mommy?"

Dawn blinked in shock.

*Mommy? I'm not someone's mommy. What's going on here?"

She watched as a small boy with dark hair sat up from the other side of the couch... then watched as his eyes widened with fear.

*Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my home?*

The boy jerked and backed away.

"Who are you?! Grandma, help!"

Dawn jumped back in surprise then jerked her head to the right as someone ran into the room.

"My God..."

Dawn stared into the shocked eyes of her mother and a soft smile crossed her lips.

"Hi, Mommy..."


Joyce came to a halt and stared in shock at the doorway. It was impossible, it had to be, but she was there. It was when she heard her voice that everything broke down for her.

"Hi, Mommy..."

Joyce trembled and stepped slowly toward her daughter.


Dawn nodded and was instantly engulfed in a hug.

"My baby... you're alive... oh God, my baby..."

Tears streamed down Joyce's face as she clung to her long lost daughter, returned to her at last.


Dawn looked at the little boy and smiled. He had the most adorable, confused look on his face... a look she had seen before on... Xander's face.

"Mom... who's this?"

Joyce let go and blushed.

"My God... so much has happened... Dawn, this is your nephew... Alex."

Dawn blinked and swallowed.

*Alex... then that means...*

She smiled and bent down.

"Hi Alex... I'm your Aunt Dawn."

Alex frowned.

"Grandpa said you're dead. Was he fibbing?"

Dawn shook her head.

"No, he wasn't fibbing, he just didn't know. No one knew. I've been gone a long time."

Alex nodded.


Dawn smiled.

"Someplace far, far away. Someone very special took care of me and helped me finally come home."

Joyce gasped and turned Dawn so that she was looking at her.

"You mean?"

Dawn nodded.

"Yes... but he's hurt. He's in the woods. I ran here to get help."

Joyce nodded and grabbed her keys from off the side table.

"Alex, sweetie, grab your jacket... we're going for a ride."

Alex smiled and nodded. He grabbed his favorite blue jacket and pulled it on. They headed out to the car and climbed in. As he fastened his seat belt, Alex turned to Dawn and tugged on the funny black outfit she was wearing.

"Why are you wearing that... and who's hurt?"

Joyce glanced at her daughter, noticing for the first time her clothing... gasping in shock. It was one of those suit things Xander had worn.

"We're going after someone special. He took care of me and helped me get home... but now he needs help."

Alex nodded and looked out the window as they drove quickly through town. When they came to the woods, they slowed down and then parked in the gravel lot just outside. He undid his belt and climbed outside. It was then he noticed where they were.


Everything was green... the same green he had drawn earlier. He felt someone take his hand and they moved into the woods. Dawn lead the way and soon they entered a small clearing.

"Oh my God..."

Alex looked up and saw a man lying in the dirt before him. He wasn't moving and there was a puppy guarding him, growling at them...


The puppy continued to growl, getting louder and louder. Xander knew then that someone was there.

"Oh my God..."

Xander jerked his eyes wide open. He recognized that voice.


He heard a gasp and three pairs of feet moved toward him. The puppy growled louder and Xander tried to calm him.

"Easy boy... it's ok..."

The puppy looked back at Xander then backed closer to his side.

"Xander... oh God. Xander, are you ok?"

They reached his side and carefully rolled him onto his back. Xander blinked and then smiled at the woman hovering over him.

"Hi Mom..."

Joyce dropped to her knees and ran her fingers through his long hair.

"Are you ok?"

Xander blinked.

"No... not really... the pain stopped a few minutes ago but I can't move yet."

Alex stared at the man on the ground in shock.

*Xander... grandma called him Xander... does that mean...*

Alex looked at the man's face and studied it. He looked a lot like him, except for the freaky glowing blue eyes. He could be...


Xander blinked in shock and stared at the little boy sitting next to Joyce.

"What? Daddy? What's going on?"

Joyce smiled and took Xander's hand.

"Xander... this is Alex... your son."

Part 48

"Xander... this is Alex... your son."

Those words seemed to make time stop for Xander as he looked up at the young boy staring down at him, hope shining in his eyes.

"My son... um... ok."

He grinned at Alex and decided he needed to play along for the time being. He didn't want to scare of upset the boy any more than he already was.

"Hi Alex."

Alex smiled at Xander and reached out a small hand to touch his face. He ran his tiny fingers through Xander's hair, then down his cheek, until it rested on his chin.

"You're skin is really tough... like the covers of Grandpa's books."

Xander blinked in shock as Joyce fought back a giggle.

"Um... ok. I think that's from living in a desert for most of the last few years. Blowing sand and hot winds make your skin get really tough, really fast."

Alex nodded eagerly and looked into his father's eyes.

"How come your eyes are blue and not brown like Mommy said they were supposed to be?"

Xander swallowed. The boy was smarter than he looked.

"Well, Alex, why don't we get me up out of here and back home..."

Xander paused, lost in memory for a moment, before he continued.

"... and then I can tell you everything. That be ok?"

Alex nodded and moved to try to pull Xander to his feet.

"Come on... move then."

Xander winced and felt his body jerk as the strangest of sensations passed through him. It was as if every cell in his body screamed out in recognition. His body knew that this boy was his; that he was a part of him. It was an amazing feeling. It seemed to awaken the power within him to the point that he could feel his muscles relaxing and warming up. His waist loosened and he bent forward, sitting up, a stunned look on his face.

"Easy son... easy."

Alex let go and backed away... then moved back to take his hand again, only more gentle this time.

"You ok?"

Xander nodded and stared at the look of awe on Joyce and Dawn's faces.

"Strangely enough... I am. I'm starting to feel more and more normal. Either it's all wearing off... or you helped me in ways I don't understand right now. Either way, thanks kiddo."

Alex grinned. He had helped his Daddy and his Daddy was smiling at him now.

*My Daddy... my Daddy... I finally have a Daddy. Wait till Mommy finds out. This is so much better than my drawing...*

Alex moved down to Xander's legs and touched his knees... forcing them to bend. He pushed Xander forward and continued to push and pull on his arms and legs. Dawn moved to help but was stopped when Xander shook his head. Something told Xander that there was something odd going on here and he didn't want to jinx it.

"You're doing good. I think I'm almost completely back to normal."

He grinned at Alex and pushed himself onto his hands and knees... then to his feet. He wavered side to side and almost fell down, only to stop when he felt a small hand slide into his.

"I'm here, Daddy. You're going to be ok now."

Xander smiled down at Alex and felt a warmth of emotion flood his system. As he looked down at his son, his eyes flashed and a ripple of energy washed through and down his body... leaving behind loose muscles and amazing warmth.

"Whoa... that felt weird."

Xander rolled his neck, feeling it pop, then moved his arms and legs tentatively. Everything seemed to be ok now.

"Everything seems ok now."

He ruffled Alex's hair and smiled.

"Thanks kiddo, you helped me out there. Not sure how, but you did."

He looked up to see a worried Joyce almost bouncing on her toes. When he smiled at her, she launched herself into his arms and hugged him until he couldn't breathe.

"Air... need air..."

Alex giggled as he watched his Grandma hug his Daddy so hard. When she let go, she was crying... but smiling at the same time... so it must be one of those happy cries she mentioned once. He looked at them and noticed that his Daddy was wearing the same black clothes that his Aunt Dawn was wearing.

"You have funny black clothes too."

Xander looked down at himself and nodded.

"Yes, they are funny, but they keep you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. They're really good to have... if you're lost in the desert or on some alien world."

Alex laughed at that.

"Alien worlds... that's funny, Daddy. They're only in stories."

Xander grinned and took his son's hand.

"Well, Alex, then I have an amazing story for you."

They started to walk back toward the car as Xander talked.

"You see, many years ago there was this boy and this special chosen girl who he loved with all his heart..."

Part 49

Alex stared up at his father, his eyes wide with wonder, as they pulled up the driveway.

"What happened then, Daddy?"

Xander smiled and shook his head.

"Well, your Uncle Paul circled around the evil Feyd monster slowly; his eyes locked on him. I reminded him that Feyd had this hidden blade in his belt with poison on its edges. Paul was ready for this and when Feyd moved in to stab him, well Paul just bent forward and slid out and around him. Feyd hit the ground and boom, Paul got him and the evil Feyd monster was destroyed."

Alex smiled and clapped his hand. He liked this story. He was kind of sad that Uncle Paul was dead though.

"What happened then?"

Xander grinned.

"Well, Paul was made Emperor of all the known planets and we moved to Kaitain for a while. Paul and his guards got to work on cleaning things up some while I went with your other grandma, Grandma Jessica, to Gallach to get the women there to see me as someone who had a share in their way of life. You see, Alex, they were very anti-men there. They didn't see them as being that good... but when they saw that I was like them, well, they decided to let me join their organization. I took this test and then when I passed, they said I was one of them."

Joyce looked in the rear-view mirror at them and smiled. She was so happy. Her babies were home at last.

"We're here."

Xander looked up and saw the house, a house he hadn't pictured seeing ever again.

"Whoa... been a long time it seems."

He saw that the house had been painted, some roses were growing in the yard, and there were some new cars in the driveway. He was about to ask what else was different when the front door exploded open and a very worried Buffy appeared.


Alex opened the car door and ran to Buffy. Buffy pulled Alex into a hug and checked him all over for injuries.

"Where were you? Are you ok?"

Alex nodded.

"I'm ok, Mommy. I went with Grandma when Aunt Dawn came and said that Daddy was hurt."

Buffy looked at her son, a confused expression on her face, then look up at the car as Joyce stepped out of the car.


Joyce looked back into the darkened car at Xander and Dawn. Dawn shook nervously then exploded out of the car and ran over to Buffy.


Buffy blinked in shock as her sister climbed out of the car and ran over to her.


Dawn nodded and wrapped her arms around Buffy in a hug. Buffy slowly hugged back then began to cry.

"Dawn! It's really you! You're ok!"

They pulled apart slightly and Dawn nodded.

"I'm sorry for everything. I was just.."

Buffy nodded.

"I know. I was mad. It's been years... things are different now."

She looked Dawn up and down and saw she was wearing a stilsuit... like the one Xander had.


Dawn nodded.

"He took care of me, Buffy. He kept me alive so that he could get me home... to you and Mom."

As they talked, Alex ran over to the car and opened the door.

"Come on, Daddy. I want to show you to Mommy."

Xander took Alex's offered hand and climbed out of the car. They walked around it and he looked up at the mixed emotions playing across Buffy's face.

*God... this is tough.*

Just looking at her brought back a mix of bad and good memories for Xander. He felt confused. One the one hand, he felt something for her that made no sense anymore. On the other hand, he was in love with Irulan now.


He took at good look at her. She was older, at least five or six years older. Her hair had gone back to the light brown it had once been and she looked like she was finally eating healthy again. She had filled out some and it looked good on her. Her eyes looked tired though.

"Hey Buff, it's me."

Buffy walked over slowly to Xander and just stared at him.

"They said you and Dawn were dead."

Xander frowned. He hadn't known anything about that.

"No, as far as I know we're both alive and kicking. We're not the same people we were... but that's not really anyone's fault except some insane Sister who decided to play with the Breeding Lists or something... figured they'd jump start their plans to get another Kwizats..."

Buffy moved in closer and waved her hand in Xander face.

"You're Willow-babbling, Xander."

Xander blinked and saw a playful smirk on her face. He grinned and blushed.

"Damn, you got him to blush in under a minute. That is so not fair."

Xander laughed at Dawn's comment and nodded.

"Hey, go easy on me. I've crossed who knows how many millennia miles of space to get us back here. That takes a lot out of you. I reserve the right to be un-me for a while."

Xander took a step forward and felt his knees buckle under. He fell forward... only to be caught by Buffy. She pulled him tightly against her body and he swallowed hard.

"Guess I'm more tired than I though."

Joyce rushed over and took Alex's hand.

"Let's all get inside. We can talk more there."

Buffy nodded and helped Xander walk inside. Dawn moved to Xander's other side and together they moved him to the couch.

"Really... I'm ok; I'm just tired."

Xander sat down and was surprised to see a Twinkie shoved into his face.

"Here Daddy."

Xander took the Twinkie and smiled at Alex.

"Wow... you really are my kid. Thanks."

Xander sniffed the Twinkie and moaned happily.

"My god, it's been years..."

He licked the golden sponge cake lightly, savoring the flavor. He bit a small portion off the end and wiggled his tongue into the cream filling, his eyes rolling back in his head from the sheer ecstasy of it. Then, when he was finally ready, he inserted the entire thing into his mouth and devoured it in less than three seconds.


Alex stared at the way his Daddy had eaten the entire thing in one go and blinked in awe.

"Never thought of trying it like that. How do you keep from choking?"

Xander smiled and swallowed the remaining bits in his mouth.

"It's all practice. Took Willow and me a few years."

As if by magic, as if by saying her name he summoned her, Willow stepped through the front door.

"... and I think that if we mix the blue frosting with the extra white we can get the right shade to.."

She froze in place as her eyes landed on the people in the room. For an instant, her mind went blank... but then the realization that Dawn was standing in front of her came flooding to attention and she did the one thing that came to mind. She squealed.


Willow dropped her bags and ran to pull Dawn into a hug. She twirled her around and around until she spotted a mass of black hair sitting on the couch. She stopped twirling and stared in shock.

"Hey Wills... did ya miss me?"

Willow began to tremble and took a tentative step forward.


Xander got up and moved to his friend's side. He took her into his arms and pulled her into a hug.

"It's me..."

Willow jerked and threw her arms around him. She squeezed hard and began sniffing him, breathing him in deep.

"Oh Xander... oh goddess you're back!"

She snuggled in closer to him... then felt something odd. She felt a wellspring of power deep inside Xander, power that easily doubled or tripled her own. Her eyes opened wide and she stared up at Xander.


Xander saw the look of worry in Willow's eyes and titled his head.


Willow frowned.

"What have you done this time?


Part 50

"What have you done this time?

Those words started Xander for a moment before he grinned and nodded.

*That's right, they don't know yet.*

Xander smiled and ran a hand through Willow's red hair, smiling when her head instinctively leaned into his caress.

"I changed, Willow, on a cellular level."

Buffy frowned at this and moved closer.

"Changed? How?"

Xander looked over his shoulder at Buffy and nodded.

"You remember the Sisters?"

They all nodded. Xander saw a strange look on their faces, however, that confused him.

"One of them, I don't know who, poisoned me by introducing distilled Spice Essence..."

Joyce cleared her throat and Xander paused.

"It was a Sister named Caryn. She and the others have been dead for many years now."

Xander blinked in shock and shook his head.


Willow nodded.

"Giles and Angel got really mad when they said that you and Dawn had died. They kind of lost it and killed them all."

Xander blinked and swallowed hard.

*Not going to go there right now.. just finish what you were saying...*

"Anyway, back to my story... the Spice Essence was snuck into my body disguised as tea. It placed me into a state of shock which brought the spice gas back to life which sent me back to the limbo I had been in before.... killed?! They're dead?! No.. later..."

Xander moved Willow to the couch and sat down.

"I managed to get in touch with some people back there who walked me through getting out of limbo and when I woke up... well..."

Dawn nodded.

"He's a Kwizats Haderach like Paul was now."

Joyce blinked in shock and was about to say something when Alex spoke up.

"What's a Quizy Hatrack?"

Xander smiled and laughed.

"Um... a boy version of your Mommy and your Aunt Willow combined into one person."

Alex's eyes widened with wonder as the rest of them gasped in shock.

"You're as strong as me, Xander?"

Xander looked over at Buffy and nodded.

"Yeah, pretty much. I'm faster too... wouldn't you say Dawn?"

Dawn nodded, smiling, and tried not to laugh.

"Yes.. and you're smarter too... Willow smart or better."

Xander laughed.

"Well, I wouldn't go that far."

Alex frowned.

"The story daddy?"

Xander looked down at Alex and smiled.

"The story... right. Well... let's see. I woke up, wiped the blood from the sides of my eyes, and noticed I... well, we... were back on Dune. It was strange to look around and see things that looked the same... and yet looked different all at the same time. It was then that I noticed that we weren't alone. I met Paul's son and daughter and learned that close to 30 years had passed while I was away. Paul was dead. Alia was dead. So many I knew and loved were gone."

A sad expression crossed Xander's face at the moment and Buffy found herself wanting to pull him to her and comfort him... but restrained herself. She had this feeling that things between them were long dead and buried... for Xander at least.

"... and it was soon after that that I realized what Leto had done. He had undertaken a destiny that Paul was afraid of. He was becoming a worm... and with it, he was losing his mind. Leto wanted me dead, so I took Dawn and Irulan and we fled Dune. We went to Caladan to get my mother, Jessica and her... friend, Gurney and then headed to one of the unnamed planets. We set up a home there in the ruins of a colony depot and set up to train Dawn."

Joyce raised an eyebrow at this and looked at Dawn carefully.

"Train Dawn... why?"

Dawn looked sheepish and blushed.

"I kind of drank some of the Spice Essence when I tried to give Xander CPR. It changed me a little too. The training was to teach me how to control what had been awakened within me."

Joyce grew concerned and moved to run her fingers down Dawn's face worriedly.

"Changed how?"

Xander grinned.

"You've got another Slayer for a daughter, Joyce, or something close. Dawn's as fast as Buffy... if she concentrates, but doesn't have the healing or 'Slayer Sense'."

Buffy glanced at her little sister and smiled.

"I can finally kick your butt now without holding back."

Dawn grinned.

"Ditto. This will be fun."

The two of them laughed and hugged each other as a car pulled into the driveway. Tara glanced outside and smiled.

"It's Angel and Cordy. It looks like Giles and Jake are with them."

Xander smiled then frowned.

"Who's Jake?"

Alex giggled.

"That's Grandma's boy's name. He's my uncle even though he's only older than me by a little bit."

Xander nodded. He remembered Joyce being pregnant.

"Ah.. I see. Thanks."

The door opened and they turned to watch as the others entered.

"... and we rode the go carts and we had cotton candy and saw a snake with three heads and..."

Jacob entered first followed by Giles, Angel, then a pregnant Cordy.

"Holy sh..."

Xander remembered Alex at his side and censored himself.

"Holy Cow! Cordy... you're pregnant?!"

All eyes at the door turned to the couch and saw Dawn and Xander sitting there. Cordy's eyes widened and then rolled back in her head as she fainted. Willow slapped the back of Xander's head before she moved to help Angel with Cordelia.

"Nice going Xander."

Xander winced and frowned.

"Sorry... it surprised me is all."

Giles stared at Xander and Dawn and walked toward them slowly. He reached out and touched their shoulders to verify they were real then pulled them into a hug.

"You're home... you're finally home."

Xander winced and bit his lower lips.

"Um... actually..."

Part 51

"You're home... you're finally home."

Xander winced and bit his lower lips.

"Um... actually..."


It had taken Xander close to an hour to explain everything and by the end, not very many people were happy with him. Buffy had stormed off to the backyard, dragging Alex with her. Joyce had followed soon after with Jake in tow. Giles and Angel just stared at Xander in shock while Willow, Tara and Cordy took Dawn to catch up in the kitchen.

"You're going back?"

Xander nodded. He knew they would be upset, but he didn't know how badly it would be.

"I have to. I have a life there. I have a family on the way."

Giles frowned and glared at Xander.

"You have a family here."

Xander nodded.

"True... but I also will need a steady supply of Melange until such time as I can adapt my body to no longer needing it. Since I found out that you two killed them all, I cannot get any more from here."

Angel started to speak but Xander stopped him.

"I know what you're going to say. I have a son here. I understand that. Don't you think I'd want to have him in my life if I could? Do you really think Buffy would ever let me take him for visits? How long did it take me to get back here? If I took Alex with me, the next time she saw him... any of you saw him he'd be a teenager. Do you really want me to do that to her?"

The men stared at Xander in silence then nodded. They understood how that would effect Buffy.

"It would kill her. Alex is her whole life now."

Xander nodded.

"Exactly. I can see it all around her. He is her reason for living. I have no right to do anything to rip that world apart."

Xander sighed and began to pace.

"Don't get me wrong. I like the kid. He's like me... only smaller. I'd love to be able to spend time with him and see him grow up, but I can tell you already that that isn't going to happen."

Xander stopped and stared at them, sadness in his eyes.

"I just don't have that right..."


Willow sat down at the table and looked at Dawn. She looked so different now, more mature.

"How are you, Dawnie, really?"

Dawn smiled.

"I'm good, honest. Xander took great care of me. He risked his life to get me to somewhere safe. He was ready to give up everything so that I would be ok. He was even willing to..."

Dawn paused as the emotions inside her caught up with her. Tara frowned and saw that Dawn was hiding something.

"Willing to what?"

Dawn swallowed and let out a shuddering breath.

"To get us home, Xander had to fold space and time. He used my blood to enhance himself..."

Dawn's eyes got a far away look in them as she remembered the journey.

"You weren't there, you don't know what happened. It's so hard to explain what it was like. You didn't hear him screaming in unimaginable pain as we were literally thrown back here."

The girls gasped in shock and stared at Dawn, wanting to know more.

"I felt part of it. Xander shielded me from the brunt of the pain... but he couldn't silence his screams. It was like we were ripped into millions of pieces. I felt barely nothing... Xander felt it all."

Willow's eyes widened in fear and pain as she pictured what her Xander must have gone through. Trembling, she clung to Tara in shock. Tara nodded and took in a breath, stunned by everything. Cordy stared into space as her jaw shook slightly.

"How is that possible? How could someone take that much pain?"

She looked at Dawn and reached out to take her hands in hers.

"What happened when you got back?"

Dawn nodded.

"We materialized and I fell to the side. I was dizzy, but ok. I looked up at Xander and he looked sick. He was pale and sweating and trembling. He was only able to say 'Get Help' before he fell to the ground. I knew that he was in trouble and that time was of the essence, so I ran as fast as I could to get help. I got here and got Mom and Alex to come with me to get Xander... hoping he was still alive."

Dawn wiped her wet eyes, not realizing she had been crying, and sniffled.

"I was so afraid he would be dead and that... that..."

She broke down crying as Cordy slid over to embrace her.

"That would be more than you... than any of us could take. We know, Dawn. We've lived through this already. you were very brave to do what you did. Because of you, Xander's still alive."

Cordy ran her fingers through Dawn's hair, soothing her fears and calming her.

"There are times when the only thing you can do is your best. You did what you could and it was good enough. Xander did what he did and it was good enough for you. No one can ask any more of either of you."

Dawn looked up at Cordy face and smiled.

"When did you get so smart?"

Cordy laughed and pat her stomach.

"Since getting this little guy. He's changed me."

Dawn smiled and reached out to gently touch Cordy's stomach.

"Is he?"

Cordy smiled.

"Angel's... yes. He's human in more ways that we ever imagined."

Willow laughed.

"Yeah, I remember that fight when you found out. You went out and bought a pair of hedge clippers and threatened to snip it off."

Dawn giggled and wiped her eyes.

"Now that sounds like the Cordy I know."

Cordy smiled and shook her head.

"Hey... can you blame me?"

They all thought about it for a moment then broke down laughing.


Xander heard laughter from the kitchen and knew that Dawn was ok.

"Sounds like Dawn's fitting back in with her family."

Xander looked out the window at the others and sighed.

"Should make things easier on her when I go back home."

Giles nodded, accepting it all but not liking it.

"We'll do all we can to make the transition easy for her."

Xander nodded.

"Thank you."

He looked out at Buffy and sighed.

"I need to head back, the window won't be open that much longer."

Angel frowned.


Xander nodded.

"There are windows in space-time. I took us through one to get us here as quickly as I could. As it was, I lost many years on you guys... but as long as the window is open, I can go back to my original time."

Giles nodded, half-way understanding.

"Like a time limit on a spell?"

Xander nodded.

"Exactly. I have about half an hour left I think, if I kept track of time right."

He shook his head and took a deep breath.

"I had better get this done. I'll say goodbye to everyone before I go."

They nodded and watched as Xander made his way to the backyard... to say goodbye to his son...

Part 52

Xander stepped into the backyard and took a look around. Everyone seemed so happy. Joyce and her son Jacob were sitting under a tree off to the left while Buffy and little Alex played to the right. He smiled at Alex and Buffy. Alex was sitting in a swing with Buffy pushing him. The look of joy on his face was something priceless.

*So much happiness... and I'm going to rip it all away.*

Xander sighed, tired and ashamed of what he was about to do.

*I had better get this done as fast and as best as I can. The less pain I can cause, the better.*

He stepped away from the back door and smiled when Alex looked his way.

"Hi Daddy!"

Xander smiled and waved at his son.


Alex wiggled his legs as he soared higher and higher in the swing, laughing and happy, secure in the knowledge that his life was as it should be. He had his mommy, who he loved, and now he had a daddy. All was right in his world... but his happiness wouldn't last for very long. Xander knew his and hated himself for it as he walked over to them and stood next to Buffy.

"Buffy, can we talk for a few minutes? It's important."

Buffy nodded and started to slow Alex down but stopped when Joyce moved toward them.

"You two go ahead. I'll push Alex."

Buffy nodded and led Xander off to the side. She sat down at the edge of a picnic table and patted the bench nearest her. Xander nodded and took a seat beside her.

"You seem odd, Xander. Is something wrong? What is it?"

Xander sighed.

"Yes... something is wrong Buffy. God, How do I begin?"

He shook his head and swallowed.

"Buffy, you know that things aren't that good between us. I never knew anything about you being pregnant when what happened to me happened. I don't know if I could have done anything about it, but I'd like to think I would have tried to help. For not being here, all I can say is I'm sorry."

Buffy nodded, stunned. She hadn't been expecting any of that and wondered where Xander was going with all of this.

"I understand, and about that, I'm sorry. I didn't understand how things were, back then. I saw everything in black and white, good and evil. I... I've been able to see more of the gray now. I just want you to know that I don't think you're a monster for what you had to do... and I'm sorry I hurt you."

Xander nodded and smiled.

"Thank you, Buffy. That means a lot to me. It makes what I have to do now harder though."

Buffy frowned, confused at his remark.

"What you have to do?"

Xander looked into Buffy's eyes.

"Buffy... I have to go home."

Buffy shook her head.

"You are home."

Xander sighed.

"No, Buffy, I'm not... not anymore. I don't belong here. I don't think I ever belonged here. You all have done fine without me. You're happy, you have a good life and hell, even Angel is expecting a kid. You all have so much... and I'm not needed here."

Buffy shook her head.

"You are needed Xander. We all need you. I need you. Alex needs you."

Xander frowned and shook his head.

"Before today, Alex had never seen me. He seems like a happy kid, so I don't think I made that much of a difference. You have all had lives of your own. You've moved on and created families.... as have I."

Xander paused and ran his hands through his hair.

"Buffy, I have a life back where I was. I have a destiny that I never knew existed. I have people depending on me for their survival. I have people who care about me... and I have someone I care about a great deal; a someone who is pregnant with my child right now."

Xander closed his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Buffy, but I can't live here, on Earth. I can't survive. If I were to stay here, I would die."

Buffy's eyes widened in shock.


Xander nodded and opened his eyes.

"Yes, die. I need the spice in large amounts now. From what I heard, Giles and Angel destroyed any hope I had of remaining on Earth with their act of vengeance. Even if I had nothing holding me there and could stay here... because of that act, I can't."

Xander reached out and touched Buffy's shoulder.

"Buffy, I'm sorry... but I have to go home."

Buffy's eyes widened with fear and she glanced over at Alex. Xander noticed this and nodded to himself. He had been right after all.

"I'm not going to take him, Buffy. I have no right to do so. I have no right to his life. He is your son. You are his mother. You are his world. I'm just the man who dearly loved his mother enough to want to be one with her completely and we're lucky that the Powers or God or whoever decided that we were worthy of having Alex in our lives. I won't destroy his whole world by ripping him from this one."

Buffy sighed and nodded, trembling slighlty as she felt her fears slowly melt away.

"Thank you."

Xander nodded.

"I just don't know how to explain all of this to him. I mean, how do you tell a little boy that his daddy has to go away again and he might not ever return? How do you do that to a child?"

Buffy shook her head.

"You don't."

Xander frowned, confused.

"What do you mean?"

Buffy looked Xander in the eyes.

"You're different now, more so than when you were here last time, correct?"

Xander nodded. Buffy glanced at the others then continued.

"You have skills and abilities, now, that you didn't have before. Can you just..."

The whole idea of it was intensely painful for her to even think of, but she knew it would be the best thing for them all.

"Can you just fix it so... so we don't remember you were here?"

Xander pondered the question. He did have the ability to do that, but it would be very hard to do, and it would take what little time he had left to do it.

"Yes... I can do it."

Xander sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and looked into Buffy's eyes with a look of determination on his face.

"Gather the others, please. I need to prepare."

Buffy nodded and moved to speak to the others while Xander sat down on the ground and closed his eyes, gathering energy.


"We're ready, Xander."

Xander opened his eyes and looked at the people before him. They all looked nervous and sad, but they were there. He got to his feet and walked toward them.

"I know you all think this may not be the brightest of ideas, but I'm sure Buffy has explained it all to you. It is the best thing, for it will remove the pain my leaving will create for you again. All I can ask is that you can forgive me for what I am about to do."

One by one they nodded and Xander stepped up to the first one in line. He looked into Cordelia's lovely, sad eyes and smiled weakly.

"Hi Cor. Let's begin..."

Part 53

Joyce's eyes rolled back in her head as she fell unconscious in Xander's arms. He stared at her with unblinking eyes and whispered words without sound. Slowly and carefully, he erased all memory of his being there from her mind, the same as he had done for the others, then lowered her gently to the ground.

*There, that's all of them.*

He had placed a memory into each of them of a celebratory family picnic, in honor of Dawn's miraculous return, that lead to them all growing tired. It then led to a group nap in the warm sunshine. It seemed the most logical explanation at the time, and Xander was in a hurry.


He turned to Dawn and saw tears falling from her eyes.

"Hey, shhh, honey... it's ok. You know I had to do this."

Dawn nodded. She understood everything, but that didn't mean she liked it.

"I know... but... I'm going to miss you too, and you can't fix me like you fixed them because..."

Xander nodded.

"Because I need more of your blood to jump-start myself back home... and you have to be awake for it. I know."

He reached out and pulled her into a hug.

"Can you be strong for me? Can you pretend what we decided on and not tell them the truth?"

Dawn sniffled and nodded.

"Yes... for you."

Xander smiled and kissed her on the head.

"You know you will always have a piece of my heart, Dawn. You saved my life."

Dawn smiled up at Xander and blushed.

"Don't forget me."

Xander smiled.

"How could I ever forget you?"

He closed his eyes and felt that the window was starting to close.

"It's time."

Dawn nodded and stuck out her hand. Xander pulled out his crysknife and made a delicate cut. Blood filled her palm slowly as Xander made a matching cut on his own hand. With a look of brotherly love in his eyes, Xander grasped Dawn's hand and focused on infusing her blood with his own.

*Take it in... focus on the window... feel space around me... now!*

Xander released Dawn's hand and folded space around him. Before Dawn's tear-filled eyes, he wavered and grew transparent... then vanished before her eyes.

"Goodbye Xander..."

As her family began to awaken around her, Dawn wiped away her already quickly healing hand and shoved it into her pocket, a fake smile crossing her face....


Leto stared at the spot on the tiled floor where Xander and Dawn had vanished. What had happened was an impossibility... but yet it had happened.

"I want guards stationed on this spot, in the room, every hour of the day. No one else, save me, is to enter or leave. If anyone or anything shows up in this room... grab it, knock it unconscious immediately, and call for me at once."

The three guards nodded and took of a triangular formation around the spot where the others had disappeared. Leto watched them for a moment then left the room, a storm of anger in his wake.

"Any idea what happened?"

The other two guards looked at the one who spoke and shook their heads. One dressed in pale gray sighed.

"I recognized one of them though. It was Xander, if I am not mistaken."

The other two guards frowned, as if trying to remember something, then nodded.

"Yes, I think you're right. There are some pictures of him from when he was second-in-command to Mua'dib. They look very similar... but it is hard to tell, the pictures are faded."

The others nodded and let their eyes begin to trail along the walls of the room, their backs to the center of the room. Doing so, they failed to notice the thin wispy strands of light that were forming behind them. So quickly it all happened, and so silently, that they failed to know the truth of the situation until it was too late to do anything. Xander materialized between them and it was only the sound of his breathing that made them turn and as one scream out in alarm... only to be silenced seconds later.

*Damn! Too damn tired to be quiet and now everyone knows I'm here!*

Xander stepped over the guards and ran to the door. He opened it and peeked into the hallway. It was clear, for the moment, so he took off down it at a run.

*Don't have enough energy to just fold home. I'm going to have to run out of here and hide until I recharge.*

Xander ran down the hall until he came to a balcony. He took a moment to step out onto it and saw an empty courtyard below.

*Maybe... might be enough...*

He stepped to the edge and jumped off into the air. Xander fell down toward the sandstone courtyard below and slowed his descent at the last moment... much as he had done in the major battle against Shaddam so many years ago. He landed on his feet, almost four stories lower than he had been moments earlier, and took off down the stairs to the streets of Arrakeen... and beyond. As he ran, he pulled his stilsuit tighter against his body and ran onward toward the desert...


Back on Earth, time moved onward at a steady pace. As Xander made his escape into the deep desert, Dawn melded herself back into her family. She watched as the others continued on with their lives. She watched as new children were born into the family. She watched as a miniature version of Xander grew more and more each day and vowed to keep him safe... never knowing that each night, that same child - a child that had bouts of melancholy that confounded everyone except Dawn - was dreaming each night of a man with blue eyes who was all alone in the universe; alone and sad - living by himself in a far away land...

Part 54

Wind whistled along the edge of the cliff as he stood motionless and stared at the ground before him. He had been back about a month since returning Dawn home and had managed to have a scant few days before everything in his life crumbled into dust.

*Life isn't fair, that much we all know, but to have so much happen to me, so quickly... it's more like toward being cruel.*

Xander sighed and bent down to brush leaves off of the tombstone before him, wiping it clean once more. It was a massive thing made of polished stone, the same stone Paul had used so many years earlier during a training lesson. He had retrieved it from the Sietch when he had been resting after returning home. He was going to use it to make a present for his child... but unfortunately that was not to be....


Xander climbed up the rock wall and slipped into the Sietch. He moved upward through the pathways to one of the training rooms. They were semi-isolated and rarely used anymore, or at least they were, so he felt fairly secure in using one to recover himself. He walked into the room and shut the door then sat down before the remains of the large training obelisk that Paul had used so long ago. He stared at it and let his body relax, meditating as his internal batteries began to recharge themselves. The stone was halfway gone now, used in training for so many years... but hard enough that not much of it had been damaged. He could still see the place where he himself had managed to break off a chip of it. True it was only a chip roughly an inch square, but it was still a great feat... for who he was back then.

*Things were easier back then. I had no worries other than destroying the enemy and protecting Paul and Alia as best I could. I was Xander, adopted son of Liet and brother to Chani. I didn't have anything else to worry about, not like now. Now, life is much more complicated.*

He took a deep breath and slowed his heart down some as he focused on meditating. As things slowed, he opened wider and wider to the universe... and in that instant, he felt and heard the cry of pain and instantly knew who it came from.


His eyes flashed open and instantly Xander was on his feet. Tired still from his journey, Xander feared folding space again, but he knew that this was an emergency and that he had no other choice.

*I have to do it... no matter the cost.*

He reached out with his mind to the planet he had chosen for their home and fixed its image clearly in his mind. He then pictured where he was now, Arrakis, and fixed it in place as well. Then, he folded the space between the two planets and willed himself across. As his body began to fade away, a lancing stab of pain exploded through his body and Xander wondered, briefly, if he would make it across in one piece.


Xander trailed his fingers along the inscription in the tombstone and sighed, moisture in his eyes for the ones below the earth before him. He had arrived home in one piece, true enough, but the scene before him when he arrived was one of chaos. Irulan had gone into labor, early, and things weren't going well for her or the baby. Xander had stumbled into the cavernous room and had collapsed within sight of his love. As things went black, all he could remember was her scream. When he awoke, three days had passed and his love and his daughter were both dead...

"I knew this was going to happen. Not this, exactly, but something. I knew I would be alone and that our time was short. I just forgot about all of it, what with trying to get Dawn home and all. I lost track of time. I fell in love with you, Irulan."

He caressed her name lovingly then let his fingers slide over to touch the name of his daughter.

"I never got to see you either, my daughter, my little Jocelyn. I never saw you enter this world, never saw you open your eyes and take in your first breath... though I am thankful that Jessica and Gurney did. At least someone had that memory. I am so sorry that you were never given a chance to see and do everything there is to see and do in this universe."

Tears fell from his eyes as he spoke to his family.

"I never got to meet you... but I loved you and will always love you, my baby. You will be with me... forever."

Xander got to his feet and took a step back. He glanced to his left and frowned sadly at the two matching graves next to the one before him.

"I am just thankful that you all are together. I am sorry for what has happened, but at least you are all at peace now."

In his foolishness, Xander had left a trail for Leto to follow. Within moments of waking, Xander discovered Leto had come and had killed all who were in the cavern... save him. His quarters were isolated and hidden deep inside the rock walls. He guessed that he had been placed there when he arrived and therefore had been spared. It was hard to believe, though, that Leto would kill his own grandmother... but he had.

"I don't know how it all ended... but I am sorry that I was not there to defend you. I am sorry that I led him to you. I am sorry I failed you all."

Xander looked off into the distance and felt something within him die. All the warmth he had previously had flowing inside him was locked away behind walls of frozen stone. He couldn't allow himself feelings... not with what he had to do, what he had to become.

"I vow to you all... and to all the ones I lost before. I will find a way to make him pay. From this day on, it is my mission to destroy Leto."

Xander turned and walked away from the gravesite, fading away with each step he took... until he was gone.


Far, far away, a man who had lived a long life sat on the beach with his grandson, a grandson who looked so much like him, and told a story he had been telling for over 70 years.

"Tell it again, Grandpa."

The old man nodded and smiled.

"Many years ago, far across the expanses of space, there lives a man. He is strong and brave and powerful... but he is sad."

The little boy, barely six years old, stared up in adoration.

"He's sad because he's alone?"

The old man nodded.

"Yes, James, because he's all alone. Everyone he loved was gone and all he had left was a cold emptiness deep inside him. He was as sad as you could ever imagine."

James frowned.

"Sadder than you were when Grandma died?"

The old man nodded.

"Yes, much more than that. Sadder even than if you were to wake up tomorrow and have no one here who loved you. You would have your friends and their mommies and daddies... but he was all alone, he had no one to love him. He was that sad."

James sniffled and nodded. He didn't like the idea of anyone being that sad.

"What happened to him?"

The old man stared up into the sky and sighed.

"He left his world and wandered the sky, moving from world to world, looking for a way to get rid of the emptiness within him. He visited over three dozen worlds... that's the same as three cartons of eggs, Jamie... and finally on one cold, dark world, he found what he needed. He moved into a cave and put himself into a deep sleep that lasted for many, many years. When he woke up... well, he was a different person and was living in a brand new universe."

James nodded, his eyes wide with wonder.

"What did he do?"

The old man frowned.

"He went hunting."

James frowned at the story, one he had heard many times before, but this time it was a little different.

"Grandpa... who told you the story? Who is the man?"

The old man smiled at James and laughed.

"No one told me the story, Jamie. I see it in my dreams, from time to time, and that's why the story gets longer and longer each time I tell it, because I'm seeing things as they happen... or will happen... or happened. I'm not really sure, it's very confusing."

James blinked in awe and nodded slowly.

"And the man?"

The old man grinned.

"His name is Xander. He's my father..."