Only Human

Author: Danii <debrabantknight[at]>

Summary: Xander finds out the strange tale of his beginnings

NOTE: Not a Xander-gets-a-power story. Quite the opposite in fact...

Disclaimer: I own no one. Don't sue. I have no money...

Distribution: Anyone who wants it...

Rating: PG-PG13

There are several reasons why a human head would want to explode. Being hit by a hammer square on the top, various chemicals dropped on said cranium, or plastic explosives wired under the ears. However, Xander had figured out a slightly less messy method of splitting his skull into itsy bitsy parts, with the added bonus of not losing his life.

Unfortunately, it had involved spending a great deal of money and cosuming a ridiculous amount of alcohol.

One would wonder exactly why a young man in the prime of his youth with a high-paying job, a beautiful apartment, and a wonderful girlfriend would wish to reduce his cranial matter into goo in such a way, especially since the aforementioned young man didn't really like to drink all that much.

The reason behind this was that he no longer had the wonderful girlfriend. Anya, the ex-demoness Xander had whole-heartedly confessed his love to, had decided that she was throughly sick of living on top of the Hellmouth, and so had packed up and left for parts elsewhere. More importantly, she had done the aforementioned acts all by herself, without any indication given to her boyfriend about her plan, and then done the most horrible thing a person could possibly do in this sort of situation.

She'd left a note.

Anya had left a note detailing the various thoughts that had run through her little mind which had made her come to the conclusion that living in Sunnyhell wasn't the most wonderful thing in the world, even if Xander was there. Then she'd gone into her ideas on asking him to come along, which had progressed into her feeling that her boyfriend would never leave the good fight, even for her. Which then, in turn, had brought her to the conclusion that Xander didn't really love her as much as she needed, despite how good he was in bed.

That had been the general gist of the note which Xander had extracted carefully through the layers of babble the ex-demoness had written down for him ever so conveniently. He had her words crystal clear in his mind. At least he had had her words crystal clear. They'd gotten blurier with each drink, and now, during the hangover, they were almost unreadable. But that didn't mean he wasn't still in deep pain about it.

However, it is often mentioned that it is darkest before the dawn, and so it was in the life of Xander Harris that night. For as he was closing his eyes in an attempt to dull the pain that was shooting mercilessly through his skull, which felt like it was in pieces on the floor, a great white light appeared to him from the window of the living room.

The light filled the whole apartment, from desktop to doorknob, with a warm, shimmering glow that almost seemed lika a halo. In fact, had he been able to think properly, Xander would have said that it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

But, since he wasn't thinking straight due to pain, the entire effect was lost on him.

"OWWWWWWWWWW!" he asked intelligently.

"Oh dear, I know I should have come sooner..." came a voice from that beautiful light. The voice was light and feminine, with a smooth flow that would have sounded relaxed and dignified had it not contained a nervous titter.

"Huh?" Xander asked, continuing with his ever-so-astute interrogation as he painfully moved his hand up to shade his sensative eyes from the brightness.

"Yes, definately should have come sooner..." the voice repeated, "Before the alcohol. There's no way that I can deal with him like this. Won't hear a darned word I say..."

Xander, still shading his eyes, was getting more coherent now as the pain miraculously began to dull, and so began looking for the origin of the voice. It was a bit difficult in all that light, however after a second later, he found the owner of the mysterious voice.

She was standing near the window, her long dark hair moving in the slight breeze from outside. Her crystal blue eyes were staring directly at him in a look of disapproval, and yet Xander could see a slight smile gracing her perfect lips. All in all, the young man thought, I could do worse than having a gorgeous woman appear out of nowhere. But it was at that point that Xander noticed three very important things.

The first were the flowing robes she was wearing. White, and made of some delicate cloth, they hung on the frame of the woman perfectly, making the simple loose garment as beautiful as any fine dress he'd ever seen on anyone.

The second were the wings. Two gigantic, white-feathered wings that sprouted from the back of the woman by the window, each one twitching almost nervously in a way that assured Xander that they were not fake.

The third was the golden ring that seemed to float a few inches above her head.

"Are you..." Xander began, speaking through the horrible pounding that was currently going through his skull, "An angel?"

"Yes, Alexander, I am..." the figured replied gently, almost all traces of nervousness gone, "And my name is Saphreal."

"Okay then...could you dim the light?"

"Sure..." she replied. And the light dimmed till it was just a slight glow around her.

"Thanks. Pleased to meet you," the young man said with a slight nod, " 'Name's Xander."

"Xander..." the angel repeated, rolling the name around her mouth and off of her tongue, "Xander."

"Yup, that's me..." he agreed as he slowly put one of his hands up to his head to hold it from breaking off of his neck and tumbling away, "Pitiful, hung-over, girlfriend-less, useless, non-college guy Xander Harris..."


"Useless to my parents!" he continued angrily, letting the pain fuel his wrath instead of letting it stop him, "Useless to my friends except for doughnut duty! Useless to my girlfriend! No, EX- girlfriend!"

"Oh, this isn't going to work at all with you like this..." the angel said to herself, "Xander?"

"Whu?" he asked, her voice jolting him from the self-pity fest that he was having.

"Would you mind if I took the pain away?"

He answered by staring straight at her with his blood-shot eyes.

"Okay. But on one condition..." she said.

"Shoot..." Xander told her, "And if that's your solution to the pain, I'll be happy anyway..."

"No," she shook her head, "I'm not going to do anything like that. But my condition is that you never do anything like this again."


The being known as Saphreal smiled at his answer. She knew that he wasn't like this normally, and so she had a feeling that he'd be able to keep this promise. Besides, now that he'd felt the hangover, he'd be doubly sure not to do it again. She was quite aware that he wasn't stupid.

"Then it's done." she announced.

"What do you mean, I-" he started, then stopped as he realized how clear his voice was. How clear his head was. How non-poundy it was. How there wasn't any more pain.


"You're welcome." the angel said with a smile.


Then there was a moment of silence as Xander, now clear-headed and fully functional, looked the angel over.

"So... " he began nervously, "You're an angel..."


"So..." he repeated, "What are you doing here then? Cause I have a feeling that the Big Guy in the sky doesn't just send you people out to cure hangovers..."

"Well," the angel began, sounding nervous once more, "No, he doesn't. He...well, He doesn't really have a lot to do with why I'm here right now."


"Well, you know...obviously He does have something to do with me being here, him being the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful..." she babbled in a very unangel-like way, "But as far as it comes to ordering me here, He didn't really. I'm here because I have to talk to you..."

Xander raised an eyebrow.

"So...let me get this straight..." the young man asked, "You want to talk to me NOW?"


"Now?" he questioned again incredulously, "Now...not all those times the world was going to end, not when I had to stake my best friend, not when-"

"I couldn't before, all right?!" the angel said angrily, sounding very hurt by his question, "I wasn't allowed to help you, or even talk to you before now, okay?"

"Okay." Xander grudgingly agreed.

"But don't think I haven't been watching out for you..." she told him quickly, "Your friends as well, but mostly you."

"Why?" he asked.

"Well," she began, sitting down on Xander's couch like a normal human being, "There's a long, complicated story involved in that."

"Tell away..." Xander asked as he plunked down on the chair opposite her. God, he thought, I'm sitting down across from a genuine angel and I'm treating her like anyone else. Living on the Hellmouth sure gives you a blase attitude about some things.

" see..." she began nervously, moving back and forth on the seat cushions, "Well, Xander...I know it's going to come as quite a shock to you but...I'm kinda your mother."


There was no sound at all in the room, except the ever-so-quiet sound of Xander's brain giving up. It had been abused enough that night, thank you, and so had decided, despite the reprieve the angel had provided, to just stop working for the moment.

"Whu?" he asked, using all the remaining brain power he had left to form that question. And what a packed question it was.

"Well, you see..." the angel explained, "I'm not really your mother."

Xander's brain paused as it was about to clock out for the night.


"I'm kinda your surrogate mother."

"Okay." Xander repeated, still in shock.

"You see, your father was a demon."

"A demon."

"Yes, a demon." the angel told him, "One of the nastier sorts. Evil to the core. She broke up with him after she found out..."

"Wonderful..." Xander commented as his brain started working once more, now renewed from it's break.

Saphreal looked at him and realized that she had better get going.

"Anyway, he was a demon, and your mother only found out about it after you were conceived."

"After I was-"

"So your mother, not wanting to bring a monster into the world, prayed and prayed, hoping that her prayers would be answered. You see, she couldn't bring herself to abort you because as much as she didn't wish to bring demon-spawn to this earth, she refused to immediately condemn you because of what your father was. She thought that, perhaps, you might still be good. So she prayed, and I, her guardian angel, heard her prayers and decided to do something about it."

The angel stopped speaking for a moment and looked up into Xander's face to find out what could possibly be there. She had been fearing anger, fear, or maybe even self-hatred, but instead was pleasantly surprised by what she found there. He was, in fact, smiling.

No, it wasn't a broad smile, or a strong one. But an interested smile that let her know that he not only believed her, but he wasn't mad at her.

"Anyway, I came to your mother, and together we figured out how to make sure you didn't come out an unholy terror, though from what I saw of your teething, I'm not exactly-"

"How?" he asked politely, interrupting her babble, "Or can I guess?"

"I'll tell you now..." she told him with a smile.


"I carefully transported you from your mother's womb into my own, and it was decided that I would keep the baby, you, within me for the remaining seven months so that my angelic aura could cleanse you of the demon's taint."


"And I did..." she concluded, leaning back into the sofa, "I carried you around for seven months as you grew bigger and stronger, and then when the time came, I took human form, like I'm taking right now, minus the wings and the halo, and gave birth to you in Sunnydale Hospital, claiming to be Ms. Abigail Johnson, your mother's name at the time. And as planned, you weren't a demon."

"So, what you're telling me is that I'm the son of an angel..." he said, standing up and pacing, "What kind of...things... does that include?"

"Nothing..." she told him honestly, "Except that I tend to watch out for you a bit closer than any other."

"Nothing?" he asked incredulously, "Nothing? No interesting ability? No plus to all of this?"

"No, not really." the angel admitted, hoping she hadn't upset him too much, "Though from what I've watched, you have an abnormally hard head."

"You mean-"

"What?" she asked, grinning at her 'son', "You think just anybody can survive a swing from a troll hammer right on the head? You didn't even get knocked out."

"Yeah..." Xander said, feeling a little bit better.

"I've noticed that you do heal a bit quickly," the angel conceeded, "But that's probably because angels and demons both heal fast, so we weren't exactly working against each other on that score."

"So, I heal fast." Xander repeated. "That's it?"

"That seems to be it." she told him.

He sighed tiredly and fell back down onto the chair.

"Well, isn't that just great." the young man said, the comment to himself more than anything, "I've probably got one of the strangest birth stories in the history of Sunnydale, maybe even the world, and I've got nothing to really show from it!"

Even through his disappointment and anger, Xander could feel the gentleness of the touch on his shoulders as his 'mother' attempted to sooth him. Smoothly, she walked around till she was in front of him, never taking her hands from his shoulders nor her eyes from his.

"Xander..." she told him gently, "Don't say things like that. You have plenty to show for it. You have a wonderful home-"

"Which is kinda empty..."

"A great job-"


"And wonderful friends-"

"That I can never really help because I'm just a normal guy..." Xander told her, sounded defeated.

"No," she said with a shake of her head, "That's not true and you know that. Who was it that went down to the Master's lair and brought Buffy back from the dead? Brought her back because he was HUMAN and contained life and breath...

"Who was it that guarded Buffy's door while she was sick, stopping that sadistic vampire from getting anywhere near her where he could cause her serious harm? Showing his bravery because he was just HUMAN...and still facing down a vampire.

"Who was it that told the Slayer a lie, a very painful lie, that he knew he had to tell her in order to stop the end of the world? Who still holds the pain of that lie, and it's necessity, within his very HUMAN heart?

"Who was it who stopped those zombies from blowing up the library, an act which, at the time, would have meant the end of the world? Stopped them because of his HUMAN conscience which demanded that he DO something instead of just letting things happen.

"Who was it, Xander? Who? You know the answer...I know you do, because I watched all of these events, all the while praying that you would be okay.

"Xander, my son, my young man...don't think of being human as a weakness. There is nothing wrong with being human, even when you are fighting the good fight. Your mother and I, we worked so hard just to get you to be only human...and there is a reason why we did this.

"There is a strength in being human, Xander. A strength that He put there. A strength that you can always depend on. Being human is what every demon wants to be, what every Slayer wishes she was, what ever witch is at heart, and what every werewolf wishes he was again. And there's a reason for that, Xander."

"What?" he asked, finally able to speak.

"I can't tell you that, Xander..." she said, a slightly small smile on her lips, "But just know that you were given the greatest gift..."

"I..." Xander tried to speak, but he was too choked up, " I do..."

It was then that those soft hands removed themselves from his shoulders as Saphreal stepped away from him, a small grin on her face.

"Good." she told him, "I'll be watching..."

And then she was gone.


"Here..." Xander panted out, tossing the stake into the outreached hand of the Slayer he fought with.

"Thanks..." Buffy answered as she caught the aforementioned stake. Then she spun, kicking her feet up and into the face of the vampire she was fighting, which flew backwards into yet another of the undead.

"No problem..." Xander replied quickly as one of the vampires charged into him, knocking him to the ground. He felt the wind being pushed out of his body and out of his mouth, then the familiar burning sensation started...not from his lack of breath, but from the interaction of the vampire on top of him and the cross that was slung around his neck, which caused said vampire to jump right back. Which worked just fine for Xander.

"Damn straight," he said as he plunged the stake into the heart of the burned vampire, "Take that..."

"I think he did, Xand..." came an amused voice from above his head, accompanied by a familiar hand held out to pull him up.

"Well, when I stake vampires, I stake em' good and hard...they get the point!" Xander told her with a wide grin on his face.

"Yeah, well...don't try too hard..." she warned him as she pulled him from the ground, "Wouldn't want you to be hurt or anything..."

"Don't worry about it." Xander told the Slayer as he began to dust off his clothing.

"I just want my Xander-shaped friend to stay Xander-shaped..." she said with a grin, helping him to clean up.

"No worry about that..." he assured her with a grin as he looked upward, "I'll be okay."

Buffy sighed. " I know...I just...worry. I worry about you. I mean, you don't have to be doing this every should be out getting a new girlfriend, wowing the girls at the clubs with your manly construction-worker muscles, not fighting vampires in the middle of the night with a tumbled Slayer."

"Nah, I really shouldn't..." he said honestly.


"Don't worry abou it, Buffster," Xander repeated, "I'm doing what I want."

"Ah..." she asked with a playful smile, taking his hand into hers, "Can't resist the alure of near-death struggles? Of end-of-the- world battles? The smell of research books?"

It was then that he took her other hand into his own and looked deep into those aqua eyes. Those eyes that had seen too much in far too short a time. Then Xander glanced once more up to the heavens, to the one person he hoped was listening, before he did was he was about to do.

"Well, I'm only human..." he told her with a wide grin. Then he kissed her gently on the cheek and walked away.

And high above them, someone smiled.

The End