Phoenix Chronicles 5

All My Dreams, Torn Asunder

Author: Nodakskip <nodakskip[at]>


Rating: PG-13

A/N: This is part 5 in the series. It has been beta-read by Theo; and btw, this is only my second attempt to write a long fic. It was easier to do it in script format before with the other parts, but I am now trying regular fic style. <> denotes thoughts. This starts a few hours after the last story; and it's more a character work, rather than an all-out war fic.

Summary: Xander tries to stop an invasion; while Cordelia becomes something she thought she would never be... a mother.

Legal stuff: Buffy/Angel is owned by Joss and Mutant Enemy Productions. Highlander is owned by Rysher Entertainment. Hercules/Xena owned by Renaissance. Characters from Roswell are owned by 20th Century Fox/ Jason Katims/ Regency. Characters from SG-1 are owned by Double Secret Productions/Gekko Film Corp. Characters from Dogma are owned by View Askew Productions. Characters from Hang Time are owned by Peter Engel Productions/NBC. Steven St. Wolf/ Wandererverse was created by Steve Pantovich, @ The Winters Trilogy/Chase Winters is by Misty Flores, @,

And now on with the show...

Chapter 1

Sunnydale, 2004

Day 1

There were days when all Buffy wanted was to have a nice normal conversation with no heartache, or tears coming out of it. But her current conversation with Willow, as they walked down the sidewalk, was not turning out that way.

"Do you think we were too hard on him?" Willow asked, as they walked.

Buffy shrugged her shoulders. "Hey, I don't know what to think anymore. Half of me wants to go side by side into battle with Xander..."

"And the other half?"

She watched the cars go by as she answered. "It just wants to keep Xander safe. With him being gone for so long...he means so much to me, Will. He's family. I feel like part of me is, y'know, missing. And seeing that look on his face when he came to the hotel later..."

The Slayer grew angry with herself. "Kristen trusts him so completely. So why do I have trouble believing in him?"

"Well..." Willow began.

"Well, what?"

Willow got nervous. "Maybe you're, uh, trying to hide from your feelings for him."

Buffy stopped. "Feelings for Xander? Are you saying what I-? Hey, I don't have any feelings for him!"

Willow put her hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Maybe you're just trying to knock him down a few pegs, in your eyes. Buffy, your record with guys? It's not the best. And Xander was always the one dependable guy, who was always there for you. Could be you see a guy that you could have had a real long-term relationship with, and you're trying to keep him at arm's length to protect yourself from getting involved with him..."

Buffy's eyes go wide. "I do not have feelings for Xander." Willow just stared at her. "Okay! Maybe I did have some tiny feelings, but I'm over that now. Besides, he doesn't have the best record with women himself. And when did you get all Psych 101?"

Willow shrugged. "Well, I did learn something from Professor Walsh. She did have a lot of degrees on the subject..." Buffy glared at her. "But of course, none of that matters, since she was totally evil!"

Buffy relaxed, so Willow went on. "What do ya say we call him up tonight, and talk for hours like we used to do in the old days?"

Buffy smiled warmly. "It has been awhile. But that'll eat up all his cell phone minutes, maybe we could..."

Buffy stopped, as they turned the corner to the school. Five school buses, and dozens of cars were in front of the school. It looked like the entire student body was leaving at once.


They turned to see Dawn running to them. "Dawn, what's going on? It's not even noon yet. Why's everyone leaving?"

Dawn could hardly contain herself. "Something big's going down! Principal Wood told everyone to head off home."


"The whole town's being evacuated! Everyone has to be out by tonight."


Dawn smiled at her sister's face. "They said that the Department of Homeland Security guys called, they have a threat against Sunnydale..."

"A human terrorist plot? What would they do here?" Willow asked, surprised.

Buffy turned to her. "Will, you think you can hack into City Hall to find out?"

Willow nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, sure! I still have a few back door programs that the Mayor didn't find in their system..."

Buffy's response was cut off by the noise of several jeeps, Humvees, and trucks coming down the street loaded with soldiers.

"Oh, sure. NOW they come. I get no help when I gotta fight a hellgod, but get a stupid bomb threat and here comes GI Joe..." Buffy grumbled.


All the Scooby Gang, save for Kit and Carlos, were in Buffy's house. Willow was working on her computer, while everyone else watched the pandemonium going on outside.

Soldiers were everywhere. All the neighbors were tossing suitcases into their cars, as quickly as possible. Anyone who'd lived in town long enough knew that when the government finally took notice of the stuff in Sunnydale, it was time to run.

"Willow, any luck?"

"No, it's so strange! All that's in here says that the Governor called after the Feds called him, but it doesn't list any reason."

"You sure they didn't notice you in there?"

"Sure I'm sure. Even if they did, I'm faking an ISP address from a cyber-cafe in Moscow..."

"I wouldn't be too sure 'bout that, Red," Spike called out from the other room.


Outside a truck, and a Humvee pulled up right in front of the house. Men started for the front door.

Buffy called out, "Everyone out the back, now!"

Willow yelled back, "Buffy, wait! Is that who I think it is?"

Buffy and Spike both went back to look. "Oh, bloody hell!" they both echoed.

Buffy ran over and opened the door, to look at the man in front of her. "Graham?"

The man in question, one Agent Miller turned back to his soldiers. "Wait here." He then came in, closing the door behind him; and his voice grew very cold when he saw Spike. "Hostile 17. How's that soul working out for you?"

Buffy spun him around. "How do you know about that?"

"I was informed by Captain Harris before I came here." He saw everyone's confused looks, and clarified, "Xander?"

Everyone was shocked...everyone, except for Dawn. "Captain Harris, wow," she said with a lustful gleam in her eye.

Buffy rolled her eyes at her. "Dawn!"

"Oh, like you didn't think he was *so* hot during that Halloween night?!"

Graham shook his head. "We don't have time for this, people. I have my orders straight from him. Look, he sent me because you know me..."

"You're saying that Xander ordered the evacuation?"

"No, the President ordered it after Harris delivered some classified intel to a member of the Joint Chiefs."

The girls looked at him, lost in confusion again. But Lee wasn't confused, he was just shocked. "He knows a member of the Joint Chiefs?! Damn..."

Graham pulled out a silver portable DVD player, and turned it on. Everyone looked at it, when Xander's face came on the screen.

"Hi guys," his smiling image began, before it sobered up. "No time for explanations here. Something's coming, and it's not a demon, or a hellgod, or a group of vampires. My people and I have to handle it. And if you guys stay in Sunnydale you're gonna get killed, or even worse captured..."

A pause. "Look, I know you guys are having difficulties trusting me...why, I personally have no clue. But we don't have time for that now, on account of Sunnydale is about to become a war zone."

Buffy and Willow looked at each other.

The video went on, "As in a real war zone. This is not a Slayerette problem...well, it is a little, but that's where I come in. The guys I've sent are gonna take you to the airport immediately, to fly you to Los Angeles. You'll stay with Angel, he has plenty of room. And everyone has to go, Buffy. No sending Dawn away to Deadboy, while you and the others stay to fight. Everyone goes, including you. Please, if you ever trusted me at all in your lives, go now. I love you guys, and I need to know you're safe."

Buffy made a surprised face, at learning Xander wanted to keep 'her' safe.

As if he could see her, Xander's image said, "Yes, Buffy. Keeping you safe. I have enough on my mind right now, without wondering if you're all under the rubble somewhere. Go, please." The screen went blank.

"What happens if we don't go willingly?"

"Then we drag you away, kicking and screaming. This is not the Initiative, and we are not playing on your turf anymore. Believe me, you wouldn't stand a chance."

"And you would?' Willow asked.

"A better one than you guys."

Buffy pulled Willow to the side. "What do you think?"

Willow thought for a moment. "You did say you wanted to trust Xander more..."

Buffy sighed. "I know. But what if another Adam's loose, and they just want to cover it up?"

"Look, I think we have to trust Xander. Buffy, you know he would never try to order us out of here, if something like that was going on! He would haul ass back here to tell us, and fight alongside us..."

Buffy nodded her head, as she agreed. They turned back to Graham, "We'll go, for now. Just give us a few minutes, to get our stuff together..."

"Negative," he cut her off. "Orders are to evac as soon as possible. Which means now."

"But we need our clothes and womanly things here!"

Graham pulled out a credit card, with Xander's name on it. "Harris said that you can use this. He said it's one of the ones he used, while he was running from the Watchers. There's $35,000 still on it."

"Thirty five thousand?" Willow screeched. "I know Kristen said that Xander took some money from the Council for them to use — but that much?!"

Spike stepped up to everyone. "That's nice 'n all mate, but what about me? Can't really go flying today. I sunburn easily, ya know..."

Graham opened the door, and four soldiers brought in a large, long, and metallic canister. They opened it up to reveal it covered in soft foam, with a pillow.

"You can't be bloody serious!"

Graham pulled out a stake, as he glared at the souled vamp. "Believe me, I have no problems dusting you to save us the trouble. We can do this any way you like..."

"Spike, just get in the damn box."

"I bloody will not, Slayer!"


A few minutes later Buffy and the others were getting into the Humvee, while the troops were loading the metal box onto the truck.

Had they stayed in the house a few more minutes though, they would have heard the phone ringing. And seen the caller ID saying, 'A. Investigations'.

Chapter 2

Demon Command

In the control room, Xander along with the others were busy looking over recent satellite images of Sunnydale, and the area around it.

They looked up instantly though, as five people in military uniform came in.

Four men, and a woman. The oldest man looked at Xander, "I love what you've done with the place. Not everyone can play shuffle board at work these days!"

Xander smirked as he asked, "And you are?"

The man looked at him for a moment before he responded, "Colonel Jack O'Neill, U.S. Air Force. And I am taking over this operation, as of right now."

Everyone in the room stopped to look at him, as Andrews came out of the nearby office behind O'Neill. "Could you repeat that please, Colonel?"

The man instantly snapped to attention. "Sorry, sir. We were not told another officer was on-site. Hell, we weren't told much of anything really."

Rebecca looked at him, annoyed. "So you just came waltzing in here, thinking you could simply take over?"

"Well, that was the idea. We thought this was a civilian operation..."

Andrews shook his head. "This is an Air Force base, Colonel. Which means they, and you, answer to me. Where are your orders?"

O'Neill looked to the woman. "Carter?"

The woman handed Andrews a folder. As Andrews started to read it, Rebecca came up to Carter. "Major Samantha Carter?"

She nodded, "Yes, and you are?"

"Lieutenant Rebecca Gerald."

Carter looked at her for a second. "Hailey's friend from the Academy?"

Rebecca nodded, "Yeah, that's me."

"You know her, Rebecca?" Xander asked.

"Oh, she's a legend back at the Academy. She once took a friend of mine who wanted to quit away for a few days. When she came back, Jennifer worked her butt off! After graduation, she got drafted into a classified program. She tells me it's deep space radar out of NORAD, but come on..."

Xander turned to Carter. "So that's your cover story? Deep space radar? I'm guessing you're here because of my comments to Martinson about the snake-heads, and the Prometheus..."

O'Neill shook his head. "Sorry, that's classified."

Xander groaned, "We got an invading army coming from another dimension, and we still have to deal with the red tape? And I thought the other dimension stuff was bad. Those are easy, but..."

Major Carter looked at him. "You've been to other dimensions before?"

Captain Harris shrugged. "Well, most of the time it was trying to avoid getting sucked into the damn portals in the first place."


"Yeah," Xander continued. "Let's see, twice stopping the world from getting sucked into Hell. I guess we could count the time Glory tried to destroy the walls between all the different dimensions out there..."

He shrugged. "Plus the damn Hellmouth keeps almost opening, so often you could set your watch by it. But as for actually going to another dimension...uh, an old girlfriend and a vampire friend went to Pylea for a while. Not fun, from what I heard. Oh, and my friend Buffy spent some time in a hell dimension one summer..."

"Portals?" Carter asked again, still not believing.

Xander got a little annoyed. "How else do you get to and from another dimension?"

Another man with glasses came forward. "You, uh, you have a vampire friend?"

"Yeah, known him since high school. Same with the other one, but he's really not my friend. Hate him almost more than the first one. Now, before you go all 'vamps aren't real' on me? They are. You learn that real fast when you grow up fighting them, and other demons."

The man blinked, as if he'd heard wrong. "Other demons? Well, it's possible that another race that looks different to us could be mistaken for a demon, but I don't..."

Xander just groaned. "Oh, great. A non-believer. We so do not have time for this!"

Gavin groaned as well. "Yeah, this is just swell. We're supposed to work together, and neither side knows everything?" He ran his hands through his hair. "Is it too late to join the Navy?"

While Xander continued to argue with the others, April moved over to Rebecca. "Hey," she whispered to her.

"Hey what?"

"That Carter woman keeps looking at me. She's cute and all, but I don't really go for that kind of thing!"

Rebecca sighed. "Relax! I don't think you two will be bar-hopping together anytime soon..."


LA Suburb

An Air Force Major paced as he yelled into his living room phone, "No! I don't know how they figured it out. The orders just came out of nowhere. Yeah, the town is just about evacuated. I've seen the orders, everything is getting transferred there. They even have an aircraft carrier moving into position just off the coast! Look, we might be able to screw up some of the deployments, if we..."

A windowpane shattered, and the Major fell to the ground. His shirt turned red, as a river of blood gushed out from his wound.

From the roof of an apartment building across the street, Alexis watched him fall. She stared at the man through the windows, with a look of pure hate on her face as she disassembled her rifle.

Her voice was cold as she whispered to herself, "You think I'd forget about you? Bastard little Assembly mole. Think I'd forget who once snuck up on Uncle Xander, and shot him in the back?! Too bad for you, that won't be happening this time around..."

She looked in satisfaction at her work for a few more seconds, before taking off.


Cordelia's Dream

The wedding march started to be played, as Cordelia stood at the back of a church. She was in a very expensive-looking white wedding dress, and looking very happy. Two people were with her; her father, and a young girl in a matching dress. The girl had a basket with flower petals in it, and was looking extremely excited.

"Do I look okay, dad?" the blushing bride asked nervously.

Mr. Chase smiled at her. "You look beautiful, honey. Just like your mother."

The woman had to keep herself from tearing up. "Thank you so much for being here, dad. I know you never really liked him..."

"Honey, he makes you happy. That's all there is to it."

The brunette looked at her other companion. "You ready down there?"

The little girl smiled up at her. "Yes, auntie..."

The music got louder, as Mr. Chase straightened the bride's veil. The flower girl got in front of them, as the doors opened to the crowded church. It was small, but packed to capacity. Everyone stood up, and looked back to the open doors.

Cordelia could see Xander standing nervously in a black tux, by the altar. Then the little girl started walking slowly down the aisle, gently tossing flower petals as she moved. A moment later she, and her father started walking slowly up the aisle.

The woman of the hour kept her head straight, but looked around with her eyes. On one side Cordy could see her family. Her mother, grandparents, and all her cousins. Also there were her old Cordettes...

On the other side, she could see all her friends from LA; Gunn, Wesley, Fred, Lorne, and even Angel. Conner was standing with Kristen, and looking very happy for her.

Cordelia also saw all her Sunnydale friends; Buffy, Willow, Giles, Spike, Lee, Amanda, Oz, and Dawn. Dawn's friends Kit and Carlos were also there, looking very uncomfortable in their formal clothes.

And all of them were watching her, with joy on their faces. Soon the flower girl reached the end, and moved to one side to stand next to Giles.

Cordelia, along with her father, soon stopped at the end of the aisle. Her dad lifted her veil, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. With a smile on her face, the bride went up the small steps to stand next to Xander. They both smiled, when they looked at each other.

Everyone sat at once. The priest looked at them kindly, and started the ages-old ceremony; "Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to witness, and celebrate the union of Cordelia Chase and...Angel."

Her eyes went huge, and the woman's head whipped around to look where Xander was standing. But now, Angel was standing there in his place.

In the exact same tux Xander had been wearing.

Cordy was so shocked, she didn't know what to do. She looked around frantically, but everyone just stared at her as if nothing was wrong.

The wife-to-be spun at the sound of a voice, as Xander came up behind her; and to her horror, he was now dressed in the same outfit he'd had on, when he'd run from the hotel that day.

He walked to the altar calmly and said, "What's wrong, Cor? You've moved on." Xander then put his arm around Angel, in a comradely gesture. "And it's better this way, don't ya think?"

Cordelia looked around in panic, then everything changed. The room got darker, more somber. She looked around to see all the people; and they were all dressed in black. Plus there was the fact all of them were crying; crying so much, that no one was saying anything.

Miss Chase then looked down, only to find herself in a modest black dress. She turned back around, only to find the priest gone. What captured her attention then, was a big photo of Xander on display.

She quickly screamed when she saw an open brown casket with Xander lying in it, very much dead. She then felt a hand squeeze her shoulder, along with a female voice saying, "He looks so peaceful, doesn't he Mom?"

Cordy was clueless as to what that meant, as the ex-bride turned to see two twin dark-haired women. They looked around 18 years old, and both were in matching black outfits.

She just stared at them in shock, as one took out a pack of Twinkies and slipped it into the casket. The woman looked at her sadly, "So that he'll always have something to munch on..."

The other twin got angry. "It's not fair! He promised us he would always come home..."

The two hugged each other, then looked at her. "You okay, Mom?" they chorused.

Cordelia then screamed, as she shot up in bed. Her eyes were red from tears, as she looked around in utter confusion.

A brief memory flashed into her mind. <Xander looking to Angel, then back to her. "I know you've moved on.">

Those words started to repeat over and over in her head, and almost drove Miss Chase batty.


Hyperion Hotel

Everyone except for Cordelia was in the lobby, looking very grim.

Conner was sitting on one of the couches, with Kristen lying next to him. Her head was on his lap, but she was staring at nothing; basically, she was fingering the necklace she'd gotten from Xander. The son of two vampires was trying to comfort her, but not having much luck.

Angel looked up, as Wesley came out of the office. "Still nothing?"

Wes shook his head. "Someone should have been there by now! I've left at least ten messages. I'm even thinking of calling Spike..."

"Don't bother, mate. We're 'ere already..."

Everyone looked up, to see the Sunnydale gang come in. Graham was with them, but he decided to hang back — since none of the LA people knew him. Angel rushed over, "He talked to you too?"

"Xander?" Angel nodded. "No, all we got was a video saying that we had to get the hell outta Dodge, and come here," Buffy told him with an annoyed tone.

"Xander told you to leave Sunnydale?" Wesley asked, slightly shocked.

"No," Willow answered. "He ordered us to leave. The entire town's been evacuated..."

Fred looked to Angel. "So whatever he's going to die fighting, is in Sunnydale?"

Buffy, Willow, and Dawn all yelled at the same time, "Die?!"

Fred went white. "You didn't know? Oh, boy. Didn't the video tell you?"

"No, we didn't know! What the hell are you talking..."

Buffy stopped, as she saw the state Kristen was in. She kneeled down, to be at eye-level with her. "Kristen?" she asked softly.

The girl didn't answer, but Buffy could see the sadness in her eyes. The older Slayer got up, turning back to Angel. "Please, what is going on here?"

Angel looked into her eyes. "Last night, his new friends came here accusing us of kidnapping him. Then this morning, he comes here with them. Says he was kidnapped, but a friend saved him. Then he took some of Kristen and Connor's blood for some test."


The vampire nodded. "We don't know what that's really all about. He then started saying goodbye to all of us. He even hugged me! He told Cordelia he loved her, and tried to leave. Then he sang to Cordy, letting Lorne read him..."

"What did he see?" Dawn demanded.

Angel was about to respond, when Kristen spoke up first. However, she didn't even look at them. "He's going to die." Conner tried to comfort her, as she started to cry again.

Willow tried to stop herself from crying. "Well, we have to find him! Cordy found him on a ship, right? There can't be that many around here!"

Angel shook his head. "We looked already, but it's the middle of the tourist season. There are several dozen large ships in this port alone. And we don't even know if this is the port it's in..."

Dawn was getting desperate. "What about his cell phone?"

"Cordy already tried several times. He's not answering."

Cordelia walked in the front door. "Yeah, he's not answering because he thinks we'll talk him out of it. God, he's in that damn stupid White Knight mode..."

The Sunnydale people quickly noticed the state she was in; no makeup at all. Dressed only in a sweat pants and T-shirt. Her hair in a ponytail, and her eyes red from crying. Dawn went over to her, drawing her into a hug. Cordy hugged her back.

"Cordelia? What did he say to you?" Willow asked her softly.

Cordelia looked down for a moment. "Just that he never stopped loving me. All this time, I wondered if he still did. And now, he's going to die before I can tell him..."

"Tell him what?"

"That I still love him!" she cried out. "With every fiber of my being. As soon as he said he loved, it just clicked in my heart. And he thinks I'm still with Angel..."

The seer quickly got mad. "The man I love is gonna die, thinking I'm in love with someone else!"

During this Graham quietly made his way to the door, thinking no one would notice him. But just as he was almost out, Buffy ran and grabbed him, pulling him back in. "Oh no you don't, Graham. You're not going anywhere!"

"Who the hell is this?" Cordelia demanded.

"Just one of the old gang from the Initiative." Buffy turned back to him. "You said you're taking your orders from Captain Harris? So, you must know where his base is, right?"

Graham quickly noticed every single eye on him. "Look, I have my orders. Bring you guys here, make sure you're all accounted for, then leave. I kinda have a team to lead into Sunnydale. I'm sorry I can't tell you where he, or the base is, but national security is at stake..."

Cordelia angrily grabbed him, and shoved him hard against the wall. She got right in his face and yelled, "Don't even try that crap on me! The first guy I ever truly loved is going to die in some stupid pointless battle, so you're going to take me to him first!"

Graham never flinched. "Pointless? Lady, you have no idea what's going on. He knows what he has to do. Apparently, he's the only one that can. And we can't let them get a foothold on American soil!"

She kept a firm hold on him. "I don't care! You are gonna take me to him. If he has to die, then I'm gonna be there with him!"

Before he could answer though, Skip appeared. He looked sadly at Cordy, "I'm sorry, Cordelia. But you can't go to him. This is his path, and he has to walk it alone. It's his, well, destiny."

Kristen jumped up at Skip angrily. "How the hell do we even know it's really you, this time?"

Cordelia walked over to Skip, and looked at him for a few seconds. "No, it's really him. I can feel it..."

"His destiny?" Buffy spat out. "This can't be how it ends for Xander! I've had enough of this crap — we're all going back to Sunnydale, and helping him!"

Skip looked at everyone. "No. You can't. The Powers knew this was coming. This is what Alexander Harris was born for. It can not be changed..."

Everyone looked at him, when Graham started to laugh. Kristen got angry, though. "You think this is funny?"

He nodded. "What Harris was born for? That's the biggest load of bull I've ever heard! He knows what his real destiny was, before those Powers got involved..."

The soldier started to leave, but then turned back to Cordy. "I'll talk to Xander. Maybe we can do something, so you can talk to him. But I can't promise anything." He then left very quickly.

Skip looked at the closing door, shaking his head. "Alexander must face this alone. The Powers told me that themselves..."

Kristen looked to the others. "If there's one thing that Xander taught me? It's that none of us are ever alone. That's why he sent me here in the first place. We all look out for each other, and damn it we are going to be there for him!"

Cordy nodded in agreement to Kristen, before turning back to the messenger demon. "Skip, what did that idiot mean? What does Xander know?"

"I don't know Cordelia, but I will look into it," he said, before he vanished in a cloud of smoke.


Demon Command

Everyone was standing around the large lit table, with several new satellite pictures of Sunnydale around it. Xander then started pointing out the area from the edge of the woods, to the desert. "The entire area is filled with caves, for miles around. Some are big enough to have entire buildings lost in them. It'll take forever to search them all!"

Daniel Jackson looked up. "How do you know so much about the area?"

"I grew up there."

"And you explored these caves for fun?"

"Nope. Only went in, when I had to. A crap-load of vamps and demons use them for lairs, sacrifices, and other stuff. We had a few battles, but most were under the town itself."

"Do you think these vamps will pose a problem when we start to search?" O'Neill asked snidely.

"The town's evacuated. No one left to bite. They'll go after our search parties very quickly." Xander tried to keep his temper.

Jonas Quinn studied the images. "What about this Hellmouth? Maybe we can narrow it down a bit, if we knew where it was..."

"It's located under the high school, but that's not where the magnifier will be."

"How can you be so sure?"

"They have to use it to open the portal nearby. The school's near the center of the town; so you can't really launch an invasion from there. No room."

Major Carter wondered, "I'm still not clear on this whole portal thing. Are they, uh, miniature wormholes?"

Xander just looked at her for a few seconds, wondering where she'd gotten that idea. "No. They're magically created tears in the fabric of the universe, to allow point to point travel."

"Magic?" she shook her head. "Oh, I don't think that's the case. We've encountered many things that appear to be magic, until they're proven to be just a..."

Xander cut her off sharply, "Oh, give me a break! Lemme guess — when I say magic, you think of sawing someone in half, or pulling a rabbit out of a hat, right?"

"Why would someone wish to be sawed in half?" Teal'c asked him in confusion.

Xander got fed up. "Okay. A big lesson in the way of the world, children. Vampires and demons are real. I have helped fight them, since I was 15 years old. Sunnydale is located on the center of the Hellmouth. It acts as a magnet, to all the evil things that go bump in the night out there..."

O'Neill tried to interrupt, but Xander kept right on going. "According to the daughter of a good friend of mine, the Assembly is going to open a huge-ass portal to bring in an invasion fleet to take over the world. And no, I'm not on drugs. We are on a very tight timetable here, so let's skip the classified crap and tell each other what we know!"

"I think that's an excellent idea..."

Everyone looked back to see Generals Andrews and Martinson walk in. Martinson was holding a large stack of papers, and he laid them down around Xander and his people.

"These are non-disclosure contracts. If you want to be let in on the biggest secret this planet has, then you have to sign them," the USAF general said calmly.

"This'll clear up all the classified crap?" Xander asked, still annoyed.

Martinson nodded. And soon, the sounds of scribbled signatures could be heard in the room.

Chapter 3

Hyperion Hotel

Day 2

Kristen sat in her pajamas, looking very depressed. Her booth in the hotel's old dining room was the only bit of light present therein. She glumly sipped her hot chocolate, as she flipped through the large photo album on the table.

"Couldn't sleep either?"

Kristen looked up to see Buffy in a set of white pajamas, with pictures of food all over them. "I gave up trying to sleep after three am," she told the older Slayer.

Buffy sat down opposite her, setting down her coffee. She looked over at Kristen's mug, and frowned as she noticed the tiny marshmallows. "Hot chocolate?"

Kristen smiled. "I never liked the taste of plain old coffee."

"Not even cappuccinos?" Buffy asked with a grin.

"Any kind of coffee." Kristen looked down. "I think that's what I'm gonna miss the most, ya know. The little things. Xander was always up, before I was. He'd have a hot chocolate waiting for me..."

She looked down for a second, to gather her thoughts. "It still amazes me, when I think about it. When we were going from city to city, he didn't do anything but try to cheer me up. Any time I got really scared, he would just hold me. God, I was so scared when I fought my first vampire..."

"Tell me about it," Buffy grinned painfully, remembering that LA cemetery with Merrick.

"We were hiding out in Essex, waiting a bit before coming back here? One day we were walking down this street, when I got this huge cramp in my gut. Xander started to look around, and sure enough he spotted a female vamp trying to feed off a little kid. We went after her, and Xander..." the girl trailed off.

Buffy took Kristen's hand in hers. "He what?'

"Xander got the bloodsucker off the kid, but he didn't attack her. He told me to do it. Man, I was scared shitless. He just told me he was right there, if I needed him. The damn vamp then nailed me with a shot to the head, and I just got so pissed after that! I charged her, and just kept hitting her; I almost forgot that I had to stake her, but I eventually did."

Kristen smiled, "I was so happy, when I saw Xander's face grinning at me. He said that he was so proud of me! All the time I had to train with Mr. Parks, he never once said he was proud of me. The prick always said I was just wasting his time..."

The younger Slayer then giggled, "When we got back to the hotel, I was very in the mood. I wanted to jump Xander's bones right there, but I didn't want our relationship to be just sex. He'd told me how great that had helped Faith. Plus, we had a kind of Kung Fu master/student thing going on."

"He made you watch Kung Fu?"

She nodded. "We rented all the old movies we could get our hands on. I loved the old Godzilla movies in particular. For an hour we kept trying to talk out of synch, like the actors — I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time! He even had me watch Star Trek with him. He got a DVD player, and all the seasons of Deep Space Nine. He knew all the lines almost by heart, and I gotta admit — the last few seasons with the Dominion war were pretty good..."

Buffy looked down. "He tried to get me to watch it in high school with him, but I never did. Kind of wish I had, now."

Kristen broke down, "I asked him one night why he stayed with me. Why he didn't just run off back to Sunnydale. He told me, that I was one of his girls now. I knew then that he wouldn't leave me, ever. That I was safe, as long as he was with me..."


Willow, Cordelia, Gunn, Angel, and Spike staggered through the hotel gates. All of them were tired, bruised and bloodied; Gunn in particular was ready to collapse. "Jeez, I don't think I can take anymore..."

Spike just snorted at him. "Kids these days, no bloody stamina!"

"Now, uh, why did we have to kill a hibernating demon?" Willow asked.

"Because the Powers sent Cordy a vision," Angel told her.

"But it wouldn't have come out of its shelter for another five more months, at least!" the redhead kept at it. "I can understand the vamps in the park, but the last two missions? They were, like, a waste of time!"

Angel shook his head. "The Powers wouldn't jerk us around like that. There's no reason for it..."

"Well, what about what Graham said that Xander knows? Seems to me like these Powers are just keeping everyone busy!"

"Willow, we've had hard nights like this before. I..." Angel stopped when he stepped into the lobby.

"Angel? What's wrong?" Cordy asked, as she stepped past him. Then she saw them too. Two people — a man and a woman in U.S. military uniforms, working behind the counter.

Angel bolted over to them. "What the hell is going on here? Who are you?"

The souled vamp was startled, when the woman turned to him. "Hey, I know you — you're the woman that was here with Xander!" he exclaimed.

Beth nodded her head. "I'm just following his orders. We got it all set up for you."

"Got what all set up?" Cordelia demanded.

The man put a new laptop computer on the counter, with a rotating 3-D seal of the Air Force visible on the screen. He then put a very expensive camera up next, and plugged it into the computer.

The guy nodded to Beth, then walked out without saying a word. Beth looked to Willow, "Let's see. Short, red hair, an excited look when seeing the must be Miss Rosenberg."

"Oh! Uh, yeah," Willow said sheepishly.

"Well, we're setting this up so you can talk to Xander for a few minutes. April is setting up a similar connection on the ship. Just don't touch it, and it'll all be fine. Just have whoever wants to be here for this, present at ten am today."

"But that's in four hours!" Cordelia complained. "Look, just call his lazy butt, and tell him to get on-line already!"

Beth shook her head. "No can do. He was up very late last night with...with the others, planning. We actually had to force him some pills down his throat, just to make him sleep! The captain hasn't been having the best few days. And God knows, it's just gonna get worse from here..."

Cordelia's face softened. "How's he doing? Honestly."

"Honestly?" Beth looked at her with a frown. "Not good. He's trying to hide what all this is doing to him. But finding out you have to die to stop the bad guys, is not exactly what anyone wants to hear! He says he's been prepared for something like this ever since Jesse, whoever that is..."

Willow and Cordelia's eyes went wide at that name, as ancient memories of Sunnydale High came roaring back.

"But none of that compares to who told him all this. Now with all the new info we got last night? It's just too damn much..."

"Please, you can trust us. What is going on?" Cordelia pleaded.

"It's not my call to make. I wish I could tell you what's going on, but it would just make it harder for him. I swear, it's hard enough to watch him try to bury the rage he has right now. But he'll have plenty of targets to take it out on soon enough..."


Watchers Council training room #2

"You mustn't drop your guard like that, Lori!" Rupert Giles said with a chastising voice, as he helped his young charge up from the mats.

"Sorry Mr. Giles," the 16-year-old girl said with a noticeable Southern accent.

"Just Giles will do fine. It's, uh, been too long since I've had anyone use the "mister" title, I must say."

"Yes Mr. Gi...Giles," the girl said obediently, as she took up her fighting stance again.

Giles dropped into a similar stance, and then he pounced. Lori easily ducked her head to avoid Giles' right hook, then she jumped up to avoid his sweeping kick. Next she punched him in the chest, causing the Brit to stagger for a split second.

Lori took advantage of her situation and planted her hands on his shoulders, and back-flipped over the Watcher. She then lashed out with her foot, as soon as she landed. Giles fell flat on his face, and Lori pushed her stake straight into the heart target on his back padding.

"Was that better, Giles?" she asked.

"Yes, um, uh, quite good. I-I see your gymnastics training as a youth has been very helpful for you..."

Lori and the seven other teenage girls in the room giggled, as Giles started to stand up. One, a tall attractive blond moved to help the G-man. "Mr. Giles. You're on the Inner Council now! You must have better things to do, than to help us with our training. We have very good teachers in many forms of martial arts..."

"Yes," Giles interrupted her. "But none of them have had any experience in the field, Nika. You see, you've all been trained to use many weapons in close combat with vampires. But none of you have been shown how to fight, when you have to use only the items around you at the time! If you're called to be a Slayer, there will be occasions when you will have to be...very creative. Also, the fact that I'm now on the Inner Council is exactly why I'm doing this."

He looks at the girls for a moment, before continuing. "You are all aware of when Buffy Summers went through the Cruciamentum, on her 18th birthday?"

The girls all nodded.

"The Council was, and in some ways still is, very rooted in the old traditions. Such as the Cruciamentum. Most tend not to know what it's like in the field. Very few on the Council wanted to have the Slayer seek allies in her battle with the vampires..."

Giles sighed. "You know by now of the important contributions that all of the Slayer's friends in Sunnydale made. Such as Willow's being able to attack Glory to keep her out of the battle, or Xander's acquiring the rocket launcher to defeat the Judge. In fact, all of the Slayerettes performed Buffy's duties one time, that summer before their senior year..."

Sachi, a 15-year-old Japanese girl, grinned. "I wouldn't mind following Xander's orders for the entire summer!"

Corin, the Greek Slayer-in-waiting grinned also. "I bet Cordelia didn't mind either..."

She giggled. Most of the girls smiled too. Lori spoke up, "Giles? I'm a little confused about a part of the history between Xander Harris and Cordelia Chase."

"What's confusing you, Lori?" Giles asked, not liking where he thought this would go.

"Well sir, they dated for a long time. But after you made an entry in the diaries that two of the Slayerettes were briefly kidnapped by the vampire Spike, you then wrote that Xander and his girlfriend ended their relationship. Yet you didn't give any reason..."

Lori paused, trying to find the right words. "Afterwards, you made mention several times about how the two of them were constantly fighting, and practically hating each other. And that they seemed to become friends again, shortly before the ascension of the Mayor Richard Wilkins III. I guess what I'm wondering is, what happened that caused them to break up like that? You recorded that Cordelia was injured, but nothing else."

Giles found all the girls' eyes on him, as they all wanted to know about one of the juiciest secrets of the Slayerettes. "Girls, I-I'm afraid that that's a private matter, that must remain in the past. Some secrets must stay in the confidence a Watcher has with his young charges..."


Beth's lab

April, Beth, and Major Carter were all hunched over the table, and all eyes were glued to the LCD screen on the watch-like band that Beth was holding. "So this Alexis woman took these from the Assembly?" Carter asked.

"That's what she told Xander. She said that she's had them for a few years, now. Apparently, it was just dumb luck that she found one of their bases," Beth told her.

"And she didn't call for any help?"

"Call who? And tell them what? That an invading army from another dimension was plotting an attack? Who the hell would have listened to her?"

April picked one of the bands up. "So what does this thing do, anyway?"

"It can record the coordinates of an alternate dimension, and open a portal back to your home dimension. Otherwise, you could end up stuck in another world for good. And with all the energy that magnifier is pumping out...Xander might get sent to another dimension before he can get near it," Beth told her.

"Too bad we don't have the mirror anymore," Carter mused.

"What mirror?"

When Carter hesitated, Beth got angry. "Hey, we signed the damn papers! Just tell us already."

"Okay, here it is. A few years ago on an abandoned planet, Daniel found a mirror — one made of the same alien element that the 'gate is made out of. When he touched it, it gave him a mild shock. But what he didn't know at the time, was that it sent him to an alternate in which the Goa'uld were attacking Earth."

The blonde Major looked down, overcome by the memories. "He barely made it back from that world, before it was taken over by the invaders. But the kicker is that while he was there, he found out where the attack was being launched from. We went through the Stargate and ended up on the attack ships, heading for Earth. Do you remember the giant explosions in space, back in early '98?"

Beth nodded.

"Well, that was the two Goa'uld mother ships exploding," Carter finished up.

"Damn," was all that Beth could say.


Hyperion lobby

Everyone was crowded around the counter, and full of anticipation. Several chairs had been moved in, and now everyone was constantly watching the small clock at the bottom of the computer screen. At 10:01 am a new screen popped up, and the camera came to life.

In the new window, they could see the torso of a woman in a very tight and revealing shirt. Cordelia and Kristen exchanged confused looks, as they heard the woman start to speak.

"Okay, now just stare into the lens, and chat your butts off." And when the woman moved out of the way, they saw Xander's face looking back at them.

"Xander!" Cordy yelled happily.

"Hey, Cor. Graham said you wanted to talk to me. I guess my little solo number to Lorne worked, huh?" Xander said in a semi-joking way.

Cordelia went right up to the screen. "You're damn right I wanna talk to you, mister! You tell me you love me, and then just take off!? Then I find out you're going to die! What the hell's the matter with you?"

"Take it easy, Cor," Xander held up his hands. "Look, I just didn't want to take the big dirt nap with anything left unsaid between us..."

"And that's another thing — how can you talk about your upcoming death so calmly?" the seer demanded.

She was surprised, though, when Xander's voice got tighter. "You know this isn't easy for me, damn it! Add to that, finding out my entire life for the last few years was..." the USAF officer then stopped himself, before he finished.

"Xander, what about the last few years? Is this about what Graham mentioned?" she asked softly.

He just looked at her, and Cordelia could tell he was trying to keep calm. "Cor, I can't tell you. Not now. After this is over, you are gonna be so upset that I didn't, but just believe me when I say I don't have the time to deal with it at the moment. But you will know it all eventually, and I know you'll be good to them."

"Good to whom?"

"I can't, Cordy. Every single fiber of my being wants to tell you, so we can take care of it. But if I say something, someone might overhear us..."

Cordelia looked around at the people with her, and then she looked back at the screen. "Xander, we know everyone here! We trust everyone here. They wouldn't do anything..."

He cut her off. "No, it's not that — I trust them too. Look, I don't have a lot of time here Cor, but you will find out soon so let's leave it at that. Now, what did you want to talk to me about? And before you start, there is no way you are gonna talk me out of this. It has to be this way...for now, at least."

Cordelia cleared her throat and said clearly, "Xander, I love you."

Xander was very much taken aback with that. "Cor, it's okay, you don't have to say that to make me feel better before I finally kick the bucket! 'Cause I know you're with Dead Boy — sorry, Angel, now...not that I really understand that at all, but..."

"Shut up!" Cordy yelled. "I'm not with Angel. I love you! Get that through your thick head! You are the one I want!"

Xander was definitely stunned at this, so much that he could hardly talk. "What? How..."

She spoke softly, "Damn it, Xander, I've always had feelings for you. They were just, um, buried for a while. Didn't you ever wonder why I wrote back so quickly after every email? Called back after every phone call? We just never admitted it to ourselves. Why the hell do you think I cried on your shoulder for days, after what happened to Doyle? Damn it Xander, I love you."

Xander was almost crying, as he looked at her. "Oh. Huh. Well, our timing kinda sucks then, don't it Cor?"

The former Queen C started tearing up, "You just can't die on me now! There's still so much we have to do in our lives together..."

"Cordy. I swear I want nothing more than to hold you, and tell you that it'll be all okay. But we both know it won't be. Please, just listen to me. When you find out what I know, those people sitting around you will be there for you. That much, I know for certain..."

"Xander, do you remember my favorite romance novel when we were dating?"

He smiled, "Yeah, you made me read it twice. How could I ever forget the tale of love on the high seas from the 18th century, with Fabio on the cover?"

"Do you remember what she called her husband?"

He thought for a moment. "Uh, something like love-?"

Cordelia smiled, happy that he remembered. "She called him, 'my love'. That's what you are to me Xander, what you'll always be. My first true love. My Love. It's cheesy as hell, but it's true."

"Uh, I don't know what to say Cor-"

"I know what's in your heart. It took me long enough to see it again, but I know it's there."

Cordy then heard the woman's voice from before. "Captain? You-know-who has just arrived. We have to start looking for you-know-what, right now."

They all saw his head look away, towards where the woman must be standing. "Okay, April. I'll be there in a few minutes." He turned back to the screen. "I have to go..."

"No! Please, stay!" Cordelia pleaded with him.

He just looked into her eyes — and even with two computer screens between them, she felt safe, and loved in his gaze. "I can't, Cor. Look, I need to ask you something. I need you to promise me that you'll help Conner look after Kristen for me..."

Cordelia looked at Kristen, as she came closer to the screen, and then took the Slayer's hand in hers. "I'll look after her like she was my own daughter, Xander. I swear..." And the messenger for the Powers could have sworn she saw Xander look sadder, when she said that.

The young man looked at the both of them. "You know how much I love both of you. Stay safe — well, as safe as you can fighting demons..."

He looked to the others. "Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Lee, Amanda, Oz wherever he is, hell even you Spike. Thanks for being my real family. All of you. And Buffy, next time you see Giles..." he choked up a bit. "Can you tell him I said thanks for everything...Dad."

Buffy nodded as Dawn gripped her arm, and they both looked at the screen. Willow could hardly see through the tears, "I love you, Xander."

"I love you too, Willow. Thank you for everything...and if I see her...I'll tell Tara that you miss her." Willow just collapsed into Lee's arms, as she cried over hearing that.


"Yeah, Xander?"

"That thing I told you I do on someone's birthday every year. Could you..."

She smiled at him through her tears. "I'll do it every year. We'll all go see his mom."

Kristen spoke up, "Xander?"


She sat straight up. "Qa'pla! May you die with honor. And many songs will be sung in memory of this day!"

Everyone looked at her strangely, but Xander had to let loose a small laugh. "Just make sure they don't set the songs to disco or rap..." Kristen nodded, as she too started up with the waterworks.

"I gotta go. G'bye..." He kept his eyes on Kristen and Cordelia, as he started to log off.

Cordelia reached out, and put her fingertips to the screen. "Goodbye, my love..."

Xander stared at her with tears coming down, as he cut the connection. When the screen went black, Cordelia and Kristen held each other tightly as they cried a river of tears.

Willow, Buffy, and Dawn came together, and did the same, as did most of the others.

Spike just looked at Angel. "Don't even try to hug me, or I'll bloody well stake myself..."


Demon Command

His teammates looked on with worry, as Xander came down from the meeting room. They were all concerned about him, and with some justification.

"Are you okay?" Rebecca asked softly, as they all crowded around him.

Xander nodded, "Yeah, I'll be fine. There's just way too much going on at once, is all."

Melissa took his hand. "What did they say? What did she say?"

Xander looked at her for a moment. "Oddly enough, it appears that we both still have feelings for each other. Yep, my great timing kicks in yet again," he said sadly.

Gavin looked at him. "Those Tok'Ra guys have arrived in orbit, and started to scan the caves. Are you up to meeting 'em?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah, well, I have to be. What's the guy-in-charge's name? Spock?"

"No, it's Jacob Carter."

"Carter? As in Major Carter?"

"Her dad."



Someplace else

Cordelia stood up slowly, as she wiped her tears away. A split second ago, she'd been sitting with Kristen, crying her eyes out.

Now she was standing by herself, in what to any other human would think was a very strange place indeed.

But Cordy had been here before, even though it felt like a long time ago now. This was the realm of the Powers That Be.

She saw no floor, no wall, and no ceiling, only white. She looked down to notice she was now wearing the white robe that she'd worn, when she'd first come here. The woman saw no one, but she knew she was being watched.

The thing was, being here at this moment scared Cordelia Chase more than she'd ever thought it would. "No!" she yelled. "You can't just bring me back up here now, of all times! Show yourselves!"

She was expecting Skip, or possibly that Whistler guy Angel had told her about. Maybe even her old teacher, that had helped her when she'd first come here to dwell with the Powers. But what she got, was nothing like she'd been expecting.

The air around her shimmered, and human forms materialized out of thin air. Eight men and women, or what appeared to be men and women, stood there. All in white robes, all silent, and all looking at her. She knew who they were, she had just never seen them before in person.

They were the real Powers That Be.

One finally spoke. "Cordelia Chase. You have completed your test on Earth."

Normally Cordelia would have shown a bit more respect or maybe fear with the Powers, but not today. "Test?! You're saying that you sending me back after I helped Angel, was all a test!?"

A female Power to her left spoke. "Yes, child. And congratulations, you passed. You did what needed to be done; the ensouled vampire is back on his path. His son is no longer a danger, and Alexander Harris is now ready to face his destiny."

Cordelia turned to her. "You mean you just wanted me to break up with Angel long enough to say 'I love you' to Xander?! All that crap about how I was needed on Earth was all a lie?"

Another spoke. "You have passed this test. You are now ready to remain here, to begin your true destiny."

"No! No way in hell! They need me down there! Xander needs me, they all do. I promised him I would look after Kristen, and that's what I'm going to do!" the former cheerleader shouted.

"The life of one Slayer is nothing in the grand scheme of things. And what you must do here is more important. Besides, Alexander Harris does not truly love you. He simply said that, so you would remember well of him. The one he truly loves is called Willow," he said plainly.

Cordelia couldn't believe it. "That's a lie! He loves me, and I've loved him as well all this time! It just took me too damn long to realize it. Now, send me back!"

"You can never return to that place. You are to be sent to..."

"Send me back now!!"

The Powers, and even Cordelia, were shocked at her tone. No one had ever spoken to the Powers That Be like this before, no one.

"Child, you must control your human feelings in our presence. But do not worry, you will not be troubled by them soon."

She got scared, hearing that. "What do you mean?"

The head Power spoke again. "Your human emotions will make it more difficult to do the work you must do. Thus, they will be removed from you. Then you will be bothered no longer by the memory of your time on Earth."

"You're going to take away my memories again?" Cordy asked, as she backed away slowly.

"Regrettably, it must be done..." The other Powers stepped closer to surround her. They grabbed her, and held her in place as the main Power approached.

"No, please," she pleaded as she watched the Power come to her. "I need my memories. They're who I am! It's my life we're talking about, you assholes! Don't do this!" she cried.

The Power stood in front of her, and ignored her tears. "It is for the best, child. And do not be concerned for your friends, the one called Winifred will be given your visions..."

Cordelia tried to kick him away, but he just laid a hand on her head. Cordelia looked up through her tears, to see his hand start to glow white. "It will all be over soon, child..."


Low Earth Orbit

Xander sat in the seat, and grinned. It was a dying man's last request, he'd told them. Just for a few minutes...

The Air Force captain looked out the windows, to see what he'd never thought he would get to see from this vantagepoint.


At long last he was out in space, and the Earth was slowly turning underneath him. Plus, he was at the controls of a spaceship. It was just a small cargo ship, true, but it was still a spaceship all the same.

Moments later, no one noticed the look on Xander's face go from pure joy to pure terror. He felt a cold shiver run down his spine — as he knew something was wrong, that something very bad was happening.

Something was happening to Cordelia. He didn't know how he knew, but he knew. And the guy also knew he could do nothing about it.


Watchers Council Headquarters

The main Council chamber was filled with people. The half-circle Council desk went all the way across to the back of the room, and there sat the most important Watchers of the day.

In the center seat was Emma Consworth, the head of the Council, and to her right sat Rupert Giles. All eight Slayers-in-waiting sat in seats off to the side. The now 19-year-old Russian girl, Nika, sat at the head of their group.

All eyes were on the large screen, pulled down in the front of the room. The projection TV showed CNN reporting live. There was large text on the screen that said, 'The Next Attack?'

All of them listened to the reporter, as his voice came through the speakers hidden in the room. "All we do know for sure is that the entire town of Sunnydale, California, located 85 miles from Los Angeles, has been evacuated. Even no one from the police force, or the local government is still within the town limits; it has been sealed off completely. We have gotten reports that most of the patients from the local hospitals have just been moved, to hospitals in LA. We..."

The main anchorwoman cut in, "I'm sorry, Tom. But we have Phil Marks on the phone, with some new developments. Can you hear me, Phil?"

The screen switched to a color map of lower California, with Sunnydale in red. An older man's picture was at the top with the words 'On the phone' next to it.

"Yes, we have just learned that several units from all branches of the U.S. military have been sent to Sunnydale. The Pentagon will not confirm this as yet, but some sources are saying they expect a possible attack soon..."

The anchor asked, "Do we know any of the troop deployments?"

The map screen came back up. "No. No one is talking here at the Pentagon as to what's expected, or even how they knew of this attack. But they are treating it as a very real threat! This could be the next al-Qaeda attack, that many people in government have been warning about. But why they would pick a target I believe most of them have never even heard of, I honestly don't know..."

Giles stared at Emma with a dark look. "Well, ah, now we know why no one in Sunnydale is answering our calls. They aren't there."

"Do you think we should send a team to the Hellmouth?" Emma asked him.

Giles thought for a moment. "We should have one nearby at the very least, maybe in the next town over."

"Could it be a new Initiative?"

"I certainly hope not," Giles replied with a sigh.


The realm of the Powers That Be

Cordelia kept trying to struggle, but she was being held too strongly. Through her tears, she saw the Power's hand glow. She had never been this scared, not even when she was being tortured by the demon priests in Pylea.

Even then she'd had the memories of Angel, Wesley, Xander, Doyle, and her other friends; she'd known that they would come for her, as they always did.

Then Cordy suddenly felt light-headed. She tried to recall things; her address, the way Wesley had looked in a tux at the Prom, making out with Xander when she was a teenager...but it all seemed to slip away from her.

As her memories were leaving, Cordelia cried out, "I love you, Xander Harris!"

But even as she finished saying the words, the woman realized she had no idea who Xander Harris was. Let alone, why she had called out his name.


Demon Command

April was working on a computer in Beth's lab, when she suddenly felt...wrong.

She looked around, only to see no one in the room with her. But the feeling only got worse and worse. She recalled the saying, <Someone just walked over my grave.> That was exactly what she felt like.

It hit her fast, when she realized what it was. What was happening. April dropped the folder she was holding, and winked out of the room.

She reformed in the center of the control room, and headed right for the woman at the side console. "What the hell do you think you're doing?!"

Major Carter spun around to face her. "Nothing. Just checking out a few things..."

April pushed past her to see the screen. Her program was running, and her command codes were on the screen. This person shouldn't have had access to them; only Andrews, Beth, and Xander had her codes. "This sure as hell doesn't look like nothing to me!"

"Calm down. I was just testing your..."

"Who the hell gave you the authority to mess with my programming?"

Carter was shocked to see the fury in April's face. "Hey! I don't want to have to take you off-line, so calm down!"

"Calm down? You're messing with everything that makes me, me! And you want me to be calm!?"

Beth came running over. "What the hell is going on over here?"

April just moved aside to show her the screen. "She was messing around with my program!"

Beth spun on Carter. "How the hell did you even get access?"

"That's not important. Besides, I just wanted to see how she was working out! We haven't gotten any reports about her in a month."

"And why would you get reports about April's performance?"

"I helped program her core functions," she told Beth with a shrug.

"So, you think you're what? My mother?" April asked, still ticked.

"In a way; one of about a dozen of them, anyhow..."

April closed out her program, and re-encrypted the access. "Well, consider this me cutting the umbilical cord!" she yelled, before storming off.

Carter looked to Beth. "Is she always this emotional?" She stopped when she saw the look on Beth's face. "What?"

"I know she's just a computer program to you. But to us, she's a member of this command. We are about to lose one of our people, and I will not have some outsider mess with another of our own!"

"Look, I'm sorry. I just wanted to..."

"Freak her out? Get everyone's nerves even more wound up? Congratulations, you succeeded. I told you before, she is one of the team. If you don't believe me, then go ask Captain Harris why he gave orders to take her CPU with us when we evacuated the last base!"


The realm of the Powers That Be

The Powers released her. "Now, doesn't that feel better child?"

Cordelia didn't understand. "Was I in pain?"

"No, child, you were just confused. Are you ready for your mission?"

"I'm always ready to help out, you know that..."

The elder Power was about to speak, when he noticed Skip come out from behind the other Powers. "Skip, this is a private matter. You were told to wait until we sent for you."

Skip just kept walking right up to the Power. "Apparently, someone wants to talk to you."

"And who would that be?"


The Powers turned to see a man dressed in jeans, and a blue sweater. They fell to their knees, when they saw who it was. Metatron.

"You honor us with your presence, Lord Metatron," the head Power spoke. "Does the One wish us to complete a task for him?"

Metatron looked down, speaking in a British accent. "Actually, He wouldn't mind having you, and your entire little band of idiots here, jumping into the deepermost pits of Hell. And believe me, I would love to see it happen too."

"I do not understand," the Power said, shocked.

Metatron just squatted down to be at eye level with him. "Did you really think that the upper echelons wouldn't notice your completely screwing up the entire master plan?"

"But Lord Metatron, I don't — I, we have been doing as we were tasked to do, eons ago. Protecting the Earth plane..."

Metatron pointed to the motionless Cordelia. "You expect me to believe that your reformatting the girl's brain like it was an old IBM computer, is the right thing to do!?"

He grabbed the Power by his robes, pulling him up. "The plan has been in place for all eternity. And with your little act of stupidity you screw it up, and then try to cover your arses?!"

"My lord, you know that the Assembly attack was too severe in the original timeline. We needed a champion to lead the fight, and Alexander Harris would not have..."

"Don't even think that that'll work with me! We both know Harris, and his now vegetable-like wife here, were supposed to move to Los Angeles after a few years so she could continue with her entertainment career. He would then have been drafted into the fight against the Assembly..."

Metatron shook his head. "But you all thought that having two Slayerettes in the same city as your damn Champion, would lessen your hold on him. That's why the Assembly attack was so bad the first time around! But did you try to make it right? Oh no. You screwed it up even more, by having this woman become the vampire's seer. But the biggest screw-up of them all, was when you kidnapped those unborn children!"

The Power stepped back from the enraged Metatron. "They have not been harmed, as you know..."

Metatron didn't let up. "Do you have any clue how important those kids are? How important the Harris family lineage is going to be?"

The higher being waved his hand, and Whistler appeared next to Skip; so did a large older black man, with grey hair. Metatron addressed them, "You're all here now, because you knew nothing of this stupidity. And because you've all helped Mr. Harris and Ms. Chase or their friends, at one point or another. Until further notice, you three are now the Powers That Be."

The head 'old' Powers was speechless. "Lord Metatron! This is..."

"Do you really want to see those hell pits? If you don't, I'd shut up if I were you. This is on His orders," Metatron told him. Next, he went over to Cordelia.

"What can I do for you, sir?" she said in a very cheerful voice.

"Just hold still, already," the guy told her, as he placed his palm on her forehead. It glowed brighter and brighter.

Everything then came flooding back to Cordelia; her entire life. Playing with her father when she was two. Riding on his shoulders, while her mom videotaped it. Playing in a sandbox with her friends Xander, Willow, Harmony, and Jesse...

She remembered everything. Every laugh, every tear, every kiss. She remembered the pure terror she'd had, the first few times she was sure she was going to die back in Sunnydale...

And for the first time, Cordy remembered with crystal clarity the night of the Harvest at the Bronze. How Buffy, Willow, Giles, and Xander had come in and saved the day. She'd never really been able to recall it fully, even when Xander had tried to help her remember when they were dating.

Xander. Oh dear Lord, she remembered it all. All the joy, and the tears. The times she'd cried herself to sleep after they broke up, all the times they'd made out in the closet at school, or in the back of the library...

How he had held her all night when she was so vulnerable. How he hadn't tried to take advantage of her that night in her room. And how much she'd cried tears of joy after she listened to the tapes of his sessions with his shrink.

Those three days in that hotel room before she left — it suddenly made her body tingle all over.

Cordelia then remembered that getting on that bus to LA, was the hardest thing she had ever done. She was also surprised that she now had two sets of memories; ones with Dawn as part of their lives, and ones without her.

She could remember babysitting Dawn, on the same night she and Xander had actually gone to see a movie. But then, the Englishman in front of her interrupted her thoughts.

"There, now. All better, I take it?"

Cordelia didn't answer. She just walked right past him to the Power, and she punched him in the face as hard as she could.

Metatron chuckled. "Yep, she's fine. You want me to hold him for you?" he then asked her in amusement.

She didn't answer. She just punched the Power again, and again. Finally, Metatron grabbed her arm. "Amusing as this is, we have more important things to deal with at the moment. Skip, go to Mr. Harris. Tell him that Cordelia Chase is fine now. Heck, we can't have him worrying about her when the attack is so close..."

The demon guide vanished, going off about his business.

Metatron turned to the Powers. "And all of you...take a walk. You will be dealt with shortly." He turned back to Cordelia. "Come with me, please."

She followed him but had to ask, "Uh, how could Xander be worried? He couldn't possibly know I'm up here..."

"Oh, he knows alright. Just as you'll know when he...well, you know."

"When he dies," Cordy whispered sadly. "Who are you?"

The higher being sat on a leather recliner, that appeared out of thin air. Another one appeared, and Cordelia sat next to him. He said cheerfully, "I'm Metatron. Don't worry, not many people down there know who I am either. I gave up on trying to get any fanfare when I appear, long ago."

"So you're a, uh, 'higher' higher power?"

"Not exactly, I only work for one. But it gets the underlings scared shitless of me, so that's always a plus. Also, I got a great dental plan." He saw her confused look, "For Heaven's sake, woman. Hanging around Harris as long as you did, you should be used to bad jokes by now!"

"Sorry, then who do you work for?"

Metatron pointed upwards. "I work for the big man...or woman, depending who you ask. The Creator. The God."

She was stunned. "You're saying God has time to be concerned with me?"

"Don't sell yourself short, kid. You and Harris are amongst the major players."

"You can not be serious!"

"Miss Chase," Metatron began with a sigh. "That whole soulmate thing, that's you two. You and your other half were meant to be some of the big guns down there."

"We were?" she asked weakly.

"Yep, but you see the Powers screwed it all up."


"Please tell me you know how time travel works, or else we're gonna be here a while," Metatron said with a grin.

Cordelia was completely confused now. "I dated a sci-fi geek, I know some things. Just don't get too technical."

Metatron waved his hand again, making a large big screen TV appear in front of them. "Well then, that saves us some time."

The TV came to life, and Cordelia saw three people on a catwalk. Angel, Doyle, and Kate Lockley.

"Do you know where they are?" Metatron asked her carefully.

Cordelia nodded, as that was one night she would never forget. "That's right before Doyle jumped to shut off the light bomb of the Scourge. But where am I?"

"Somewhere else. Because basically, you were never meant to be there. In fact, you were never meant to meet Doyle at all."

"What!?" she yelled. "But I was there! He kissed me before he jumped, and gave me the visions!"

Metatron looked at her sadly. "This is the original timeline, as history was supposed to be. You did go to LA to get into international superstardom and all, but you moved back to Sunnydale shortly after your old boyfriend came back from his road trip."

Cordelia was stunned. She didn't know how to respond, but then a light went off in her head. "Wait a minute! Original timeline? Time travel? Are you saying someone went back into the past, and changed history?!"

He smiled at her. "Good to see that you do have a brain again. Most others tend to take forever to figure stuff like this out."

The image on the TV moved. Cordelia watched Doyle hitting Angel, knocking him off the catwalk. Then Doyle said something to Kate, just before he jumped. The image faded into nothingness after that.

"Sorry, I just didn't think you wanted to see him get killed again," Metatron told her. "You see, thing is...originally, you went back to Sunnydale and your one true love before you ever met Angel again at that party."

"But why the hell would I have gone back to the Hellmouth? Okay, I did miss Xander, but I got letters from him almost once a week..."

"And you used to run home every day to see if you had gotten another letter, didn't you?"

The former seer got defensive. "He was my friend, okay!? The only one I thought I had left! But I remember the mood I was in, those first few months. I know I wanted to go running back to him, just give it up and go home, but that would be admitting that I couldn't hack it on my own. I had to see it through."

"Right, that's why you almost started to cry when that bloodsucker Winters said he wanted to help you...before you realized he was a vampire."

"I never said I was at my best, alright?" the woman told him in a snappish voice. She didn't like someone else knowing all her life's details.

"Well, then. You wanna know why you originally went back to la Boca del Infierno?"


The TV came back on. It showed Xander and her at the Espresso Pump, in Sunnydale. They both looked very happy, and Xander had his arm around her. Then they got up, and Cordelia could see her past self...really see her.

And it shocked her to her core. She was pregnant!

"You can't be serious!" Cordelia yelled. Half of her was deliriously happy, but the other half was so confused it didn't know what to think. "How did that happen?"

"I don't really need to explain about the birds and the bees to you, do I?" Metatron asked her with a smile. The TV flashed again. This almost surprised her more...almost.

A small hotel room. A bed. Herself and Xander. They were kissing, while she was lying on top of him in a full-on French Maid outfit. Metatron smiled, "That's when it happened. Well, okay, about two hours later, but since this is the most G-rated I can make it here..."

She was floored. "You watched us!?"

"Kid, everyone's life is open for review to the big man. And He doesn't really watch it like a Peeping Tom; you see, He would have to have some bits of human anatomy for that to happen, but He doesn't. And I already told you, that you two are major players down there."

Cordy was now very confused. "But I remember that happening, so how was the past changed? I never got pregnant, unless you count those demon babies...which I so do not want to relive right now!"

"Well, you see, this is the thing that your ex recently found out — and that really ticked him off. What that Graham guy was talking about. Look, I need to fill you in a little on the back-story..."

Metatron looked annoyed again, more than ever. "In the original timeline, you and Harris got married, and stayed in Sunnydale up until the fight with Glory. After that, you and the little tykes went to LA where you tried the acting thing again, while your squeeze got a construction job with a company that built movie sets."

"So, Xander married me just because I was pregnant?" the former May Queen looked down sadly.

Metatron looked at her, surprised. "Do you honestly think that was the reason? He loved you, and you loved him. But hey, my opinion, the reason you didn't go back to him in the timeline you remember is because you were scared."

"I was not scared of Xander!"

He just looked at her.

"Okay," she admitted it with ill grace. "I was, a little. I trusted him once, and I nearly got killed for it."

"Kid, you know the one phrase that is used to justify way too much down on Earth? 'God has a plan'. Well, in this case He did. Your breakup, and the months of fighting were all planned. It was meant to happen like that."

Cordelia's eyes went wide. "Like I said before, you can't be serious!"

"Cordelia," he said, shaking his head. "Neither of you were ready for that kind of relationship then. And if you two hadn't broken up...then Harris wouldn't have been there to stop that bomb going off and killing everyone, that night the Hellmouth almost opened up. Best case scenario, you two would have lasted till about halfway through college; and then you would have never seen each other again. Both of you would have ended up very lonely and bitter old people."

"I thought we could have lasted," she said softly, almost to herself.

In reply the TV flashed, and Cordelia saw her and Xander in the closet during their junior year at Sunnydale High.

"Cor, why can't we?"

"Xander, we've been over this. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I, on the other hand, have everything to be ashamed of."

Cordelia winced at her past self's words. She remembered speaking them, but this time she also got a look at his face when she'd said she was ashamed of him. Xander looked on the verge of tears, but the younger Cordelia was too busy ranting to notice it.

"Not nice to hear, is it?"

The young woman lowered her eyes. "No, it isn't. I didn't know he felt that strongly about it..."

"You never told him the real reason why you didn't want anyone to find out about you two, did you?"

She glared at him. "What? That I was terrified about becoming a social pariah?"

"You know what I mean."

Cordelia looked at him, with tears starting to run down her face. "I was so scared that if we started going out openly...that there was a small chance that Harmony and the others might have accepted him. That he would become popular, since he was with me."

"And since every popular boy you were ever with just wanted to get into your panties, and show you off to his friends, you thought he'd become one of them."

She nodded. "He was the first guy that gave a damn about what I said. Sure we fought all the time, but he listened to me! I didn't want to lose that."

"Yeah, but you did."

The TV flashed to show her in a hospital bed. Xander was walking out of the room, with his head down. She saw her younger self break down in sobs. "One of the worst moments of my life," Cordy said hollowly.

Metatron nodded. "Your pride wouldn't let you take him back."

She wiped away a tear. "God, it seems so simple now. Oz and Willow got back together, but my damn stupid pride stopped me, every time he tried to talk to me. I totally built him up as a monster in my head, just to make it easier I guess."

"Want to see it from the monster's point of view?" Metatron asked her. She nodded...

The TV changed yet again. She could now see Xander pleading with her to stay awake in the ambulance. Xander forced out of the emergency room, when they started to work on her. Xander sitting in the hospital bathroom, crying in one of the stalls.

She then watched, as the boy tried to hide his tears as he came out of her room. Xander had then pulled Giles aside, "G-man, she wants nothing to do with me. But I can't just abandon her! Her parents are off at some goddamn party in Paris, and she needs someone here for her. Can you please...?"

Giles nodded. "Of course. I'll be here if she needs anything."

Relief washed over Xander. "Thanks. Just don't tell her I asked you."

"Xander, for heaven's sake — I would be here even if you hadn't asked me! I consider all of you to be like my own children."

Cordelia watched, as Giles hugged Xander as he broke down crying. "Turn it off!" she cried.

"Not what you thought it was like, huh?"

"No!" she answered.

"Honey, another popular saying down there is 'no pain, no gain'. And thing is, you two got a lot of pain then. You don't know how much you grew up during those few months. Sure it was painful, and lonely, but you got through it on your own. His pain started a little sooner, though."

"What do you mean?" she demanded.

A young boy that Cordelia knew was Xander appeared on the screen, and he was watching a movie on TV. She couldn't tell what it was, but she saw the look on young Xander's face as he said to himself, "When I get a girlfriend, we're gonna get married and live happily ever after like Snow White..."

A loud voice boomed in the room. "You think some broad would be stupid enough to marry you, ya little punk?" His alcoholic father came into the room. "You were a stupid drunken mistake, you shithead, and mistakes don't get that in life. And even if you did, you would screw it up anyway!"

She watched horrified as Little Xander tried to leave the room, only to be blocked by his father. "Did I say you could leave?"

The old man then threw an empty beer bottle at him, that hit the wall only inches from young Xander's head. The image froze this time on Xander's scared face, as he watched his father come at him.

Metatron shook his head. "Some humans, I will never understand why they're allowed to procreate."

Cordelia was still horrified, and couldn't take her eyes off of young Xander's face. "Oh my God! I knew his home life was bad, but it was like that?! His entire childhood?"

Metatron sighed. "Yeah, his entire childhood. Why do you think he was so clingy to Miss Rosenberg, growing up? She was his lifeline as a kid, her and that Jesse guy were all that our pal here had. She was the only girl he could have ever cheated on you with. And..."

"There's more!?" Cordy yelled.

"Well, you see, young Mr. Harris here tried his entire life to prove that his father was wrong, that he could mean something. The summer when the Slayer was in LA, that was his time. He missed Buffy Summers, sure, you all did. But he took charge. He got everyone into a team, and even you went out with him to patrol. He finally had the respect he'd always wanted, and the woman he desired. He was your team leader..."

Metatron shrugged. "...but when Buffy got back and took over again, you were all he had left. And after your breakup, he didn't fare so well." He turned to her looking very serious. "Now, I need your most solemn holy vow that you will never tell anyone about this next bit. No one can ever know it. He can never know, that you learned about it."

"I'm not sure I can take much more of this, but okay — I swear I will never tell anyone," Cordelia told him softly.

The TV did a rewind, to show Anthony Harris again. "Even if you did, you would screw it up anyway!"

"Harris tried for years to prove his old man wrong, and then wham — he was proven right! The guy did screw it up with you. Plus his friends started to push him away, with that "we just wanna protect you" crap. After a not-so-good 'talk' with his father for screwing up the chance to hook, and I'm quoting here, 'a rich slut like that', I'm afraid your ex couldn't take it anymore."

The screen changed again, and this time Cordelia screamed, "No!! No way in Hell! He would never do that!"

On the screen was a teenage Xander Harris, with a gun in his mouth.

"Oh yeah, he did it alright. He even pulled the trigger, but lucky for him the gun jammed," Metatron shrugged.

Cordy still couldn't believe it. "No! Where the hell would he have gotten a gun anyway?"

The screen flashed again, to show one of the few vampires that Cordelia had ever truly hated in her whole life.


On the screen she was in the Bronze, shooting two pistols at Buffy. Angel came from behind, and staked her. And as everyone was moving towards Buffy, Xander leaned down and pocketed both guns.

"After that gun jammed, Harris took it as a sign to move on. Which he did; the next night, he stopped those zombies from blowing up the high school. And that's the day he stopped making attempts to win you back, remember?"

Cordelia looked down. "Yeah," she said sadly.

Metatron looked right at her. "In those few short months, you and him went from kids to adults so fast that you became friends again, during the days after the Prom. And as you now know, you were supposed to come home after the summer, but with the Powers' stupid mistake that didn't happen."

"Exactly what did they do? How could they have screwed up this master plan, the way they did?" she asked him.

Metatron sighed. "I wish I could say it was all for some good reason, but it's not. The Powers knew only a tiny bit of the future. That's why your visions normally ever came only an hour or so in advance! The dummies knew that you two were going to move to LA; and since they've always been control freaks..."

The guy sighed again. "They thought that you guys would try to get Angel out from under their guidance. So, they made it such that you two never got back together. Harris lost his destiny. His, uh, fling with that Anya girl was never meant to happen, and so didn't pan out. The same goes for you, with that guy from Pylea..."

"What was Xander's destiny?"

"The first time around, he sorta got drafted into fighting the Assembly," he told her.


"The Assembly is an army from another dimension, where demons and humans are all one big happily evil family. They attack other worlds, and you can guess the rest. Bottom line is, Harris was in the wrong place at the right time, and he helped stopped a huge attack. At least, that was the plan..."

"What do you mean?" Cordelia's mind was starting to get overwhelmed.

"Okay, let's see if I can break this down for you," Metatron started. "After the Powers' meddling, our boy was not around to stop the Assembly. Their attack therefore on truth, justice and the human way was very bad. The Powers next tried to fix it by having you guys get married, but not go to LA. That didn't work out too well either. You and one of your twin babies got out with Dawn and Amanda — the rest? They didn't make it, that time around."

Cordelia just couldn't take this. "Xander...and our child..."

The TV flashed again, showing Dawn throwing bags into a SUV. Amanda was holding a baby girl, while Xander was trying to calm down another Cordelia. All around them, Sunnydale was burning.

Cordelia looked on in horror, at the state she saw herself in on the TV. Dried blood over her face, eyes red from crying, her clothes torn, ripped and burned.

But what shocked Cordelia the most, was the other Cordy's eyes. She could see the hopelessness in them, as she pleaded with the Xander who was holding some kind of sci-fi ray gun.

"Xander, for God's sake please come with us!" she cried. "There's nothing more you can do here. Please! I...I can't lose you too. I can't make it without you!"

Xander just looked into her eyes. "Yes you can, Cordy. I know you can. Look, someone needs to stay, and keep them distracted long enough for you guys to get out. And as long as they're looking for me, they won't be looking for you. You can escape, and you will, 'cause our kid needs her mother Cordy."

"She needs her father as well! I need you, damn it!"

Xander grabbed her, and kissed her. She melted into his body, and for a brief second that Cordelia looked like she was okay; but that was over, as soon as the kiss ended. She grabbed him, and wouldn't let go.

"Amanda!" Xander called.

The woman in question handed the baby to Dawn, then came and grabbed Cordelia from behind, pulling her away to the car. Xander just watched her being pulled away, as his wife struggled as hard as she could.

"I love you, Cordelia Harris!" Xander yelled to her, briefly looking down.

That version of Miss Chase just started screaming, as she was pushed into the back seat of the SUV. "Xander! No! Please! I love you!"

Amanda pushed her all the way in, and closed the door. Cordelia jumped in the back, looking out the window to see Xander looking at her with tears coming down his face. As the SUV started to pull away, her eyes stayed locked on Xander till he was nothing more than a speck in the distance.

When that Cordelia couldn't see him anymore she leaned against the inside, and pulled her knees close to her. "No...please, God, no..." she whispered as the tears fell.

The image stopped on her crying face. Cordelia got up, and stared at herself on the screen. She couldn't even imagine the pain that version of herself had gone through...

She then faced Metatron, not even trying to hold the tears in. "All this, because the Powers did something so stupid? This is what you told Xander, when you spoke to him?"

"I've never spoken to Harris about any of this. Only you."

She was confused. "But then how did Xander know some of this stuff?"

"Somebody else told him. You met her once, yourself."

Cordelia was surprised. "I did? Well, can't you talk to your boss to fix this? He should be able to stop the Powers from ever screwing everything up, right...?"

Metatron looked at her. "That would be like wiping the last few years away completely, as if they'd never happened. Everything you and he did since you left Sunnydale, would never have existed. Not a good idea, as a tiny bit of good has come out of this mess."

"What good could have possibly come from all this?"

"One word; Kristen. If Harris hadn't been with the Council to rescue her, then Travers would have brainwashed her but good. He woulda turned her into a very cold-blooded killer, trained to take out one person above all others."


"She would've tried several times to kill Buffy Summers, until your friend would have had to kill her in self-defense. You think what happened with Faith was bad? That was nothing, compared to what would have happened when she went over to the dark side. Plus Angel wouldn't have gone to Pylea after you, thus no Fred. Oh, there is one more thing before you head back downstairs..."

"Oh, God. I can't take anymore!"

The TV changed back to the image of her and Xander, in that hotel room. "You should know this event happened, in the history you remember. You still got pregnant."

"But I was never..."

"I also think you're gonna want to keep hitting those Powers guys, after I show ya this..."

The TV vanished, revealing a plain door. Metatron got up, and Cordy quickly followed him. He looked into her eyes, "As Xander said, you'll be good to them."

He flung open the door. When Cordelia saw what was inside, she started crying as she fell to her knees.

"Thank you," was all she could whisper out.


After Cordelia vanished, Whistler stepped up.

"You were told?" Metatron asked.

Whistler frowned, trying to comprehend what he was told. "She's an Immortal?! That sure as hell wasn't in the file that I saw of her. And how the hell can she have kids then!?"

Metatron sighed. "Her template was Immortal."

"Her template?"

Metatron sighed again. "Kid, as I told the old Powers? The programme concerning Harris and Chase and their kids was all planned. Back in 1981, Mrs. Chase's little girl was going to be still-born, so we 'upgraded' her."

Whistler was still confused. "Okay...but how does that explain the kids? Or the pregnancy she had a few years ago?"

Metatron groaned. "Do I have to have a flashing neon sign over my head that says 'I work for God!'? I'll explain this only once. In some dimensions and alternate realities, Cordelia Chase is and always was an Immortal. And ours is one of them...kind of. Hell, there's even some places where the Slayer is an Immortal! Anyway, Miss Chase's genetics was tweaked somewhat to allow her to be with child, but with only one man. And can you guess who that is?"


Snapping his fingers, the higher being said, "Bingo!" Metatron continued, "She can have all the kids she wants...but only with him. As for the demon spawn she almost had...well, does the phrase 'evil demon magic' mean anything to you? The plan was always for her to lose her Immortality, before it was even activated."

"Uh, maybe I'm being too dumb for words, but how does she lose her Immortality?"

"Well, in the first timeline it was planned that Glorificus would suck it out of her — when she thought Cordelia was the Key. But since she wasn't there this time around, Glory went after Tara Maclay instead. Cordelia lost her Immortality this time, when the old Powers changed her to suit their needs."

"You mean, when they made her part-demon."

"No...she was never made part-demon. You think the Powers would change her into a demon, then have her come up here? How many times have you heard the phrase 'lower being' here?"

"Then what did they change her into?"

Metatron shook his head. "Now, that would be telling. You can't expect to be told the entire story at once, can you? It would be like reading spoilers on the Internet."

"You read Internet spoilers? For what show?"

"Please, I don't. During the 80's, then I would have. But you do not want to see my boss when He gets on the 'Net, looking at 'Smallville' spoilers."

Whistler couldn't tell if he was being serious or not. "God watches 'Smallville'?"

Metatron shrugged. "How do you think it's still on the air? I just wish they would get him in the damn tights already. Be glad you weren't around when He wanted the 'V' TV series to be made. The movies were good...but the series..." he shook in horror.


Hyperion lobby

Everyone was speechless, when Cordelia reappeared in a flash of light. A few seconds ago she was sitting with Kristen, but now she was standing there, with two babies in her arms.

Angel ran to her. "Cordy, where did you go?"

"The Powers called," she said derisively, as the woman looked at her babies.

Angel took note of the disgust in her voice, when she mentioned the Powers That Be. "And whose kids are these?"

Cordelia looked up glancing at everyone in the room. With pride in her voice she said, "They're mine...and Xander's."

Dawn was the first to recover from the shock. "Ah, Cordy. Just how long were you up there?"

Chapter 4

Demon Command

Day3, one hour before sunrise

Everyone stood on the dock, as Xander hugged them all goodbye. Gavin patted him on the back, "Give 'em hell, Boss!"

Xander grinned back. "Believe me, they're gonna find out just how ticked I am!"

Xander looked at them again, before he started to walk off. "I think I'm supposed to say something inspirational, right about now. But unfortunately, I can't think of a damn thing to I'll just see you all on the other side." With that, he went for the helicopter.

Major Carter and Daniel Jackson watched the scene from a distance. Sam turned to Daniel, "Is it me, or does he remind you of someone?"

Daniel thought for a moment. "God help us, yes — but I don't think we could survive two of them..."


Watchers Council Headquarters

As before, everyone was watching the screen; but this time it was Buffy's image that was on it.

"None of us here have ever heard of this Assembly. But our experience with other dimensions is somewhat limited," Emma told the blonde Slayer.

Buffy nodded. "We figured as much. Sounds like it's gonna be a large-scale attack, unlike anything we've ever dealt with. From the sounds of it, it almost seems like a military operation."

Giles spoke up, "I, uh, don't see how. From what we've heard, there's been a massive buildup on the outskirts of Sunnydale. No portals we've ever come across could let in a force, big enough to face all those U.S. military forces."

"I know, Giles. But you didn't hear Graham. He was very concerned about these Assembly assholes getting a foothold on American soil. So these guys have gotta be big."

"Miss Summers," Another member of the Inner Council spoke. "Do you believe that Mr. Harris will be more forthcoming with information, after the battle is over?"

Her reaction to that was miniscule, but Giles knew the woman who was his daughter in every way but blood. He knew how to read her..."Buffy, what is it?"

Buffy looked back down again. "Giles...Xander is, uh, apparently fated to die during all this..."

Buffy could see, even in that dark room, the faces of all the Slayers-in-waiting as she said those words. She saw how hard the news hit.

"Buffy, a-are you sure?" Giles asked slipping from Watcher mode to a concerned father.

"Yeah Giles, way sure. Angel's demon friend Lorne, he read Xander's future the last time he was here. Plus the guy who Cordelia talked to, said the exact same thing. We're going to lose another one," she lowered her head.

"I'll be on the next flight out to LA," Giles told her.

"Mr. Giles!"

Everyone in the room looked to the Slayers-in-waiting, as Nika stood up. "I hereby request permission to join you."

"As do I!" Lori called as she stood up.

The rest stood as well. "So do I." "Me too." "I wish to join." Within moments, all the Slayers-in-waiting were standing.

Emma just gave Giles a nod, as he turned to the girls. "Ladies, get ready then — we leave in less than an hour."

He then turned back to the screen, "We're on our way, Buffy."

Buffy nodded. "We'll be waiting, Giles. I mean heck, it's not like we have anything else to do," she said bitterly as the screen went black.


Buffy logged off the connection to the Council. <Too bad they're gonna take this computer back after...> she couldn't bear to finish the thought. Willow then came running from the stairs, so she asked, "What's the rush, Will?"

"Buffyyouhavetoseethis!" Willow babbled very fast.

"Slow down, Willow. What's going on?"

Willow went behind the counter, and grabbed a very high-powered digital camera. Buffy's eyes went wide when she saw it, "How the hell does Angel have one of those? Wasn't it worth like $500?"

Willow shook her head. "This isn't the one I showed you online last week. This one is worth $4000! Fred said they got it as a gift from some Nabbit guy, it's to help them with their cases..."

"Okay, then why do you need it now?"

"It's got incredible resolution, and this is just so cute..."

"What is?"

"Just come on." Willow motioned for the blonde to follow her up the stairs, and was adjusting the camera as she went. Buffy ran with her to a room on the second floor — the one Cordelia was using.

Fred, Amanda and Dawn were grinning to each other, as they came running. "Stop running. You're making too much noise!" Fred whispered to them.

"Will someone please tell me what's going on?" Buffy whispered back, annoyed.

Dawn grabbed the doorknob. "You ready, Willow?"

Willow nodded, and Dawn slowly opened the door. Only the lamp next to the bed was on, but it gave more than enough light to see.

On the bed lay Cordelia in a pair of small shorts, and an old T-shirt. Next to her were the two baby girls, and Cordy had her left arm wrapped protectively around both of them. All three of them were sound asleep.

Willow zoomed in to take several shots. Then she whispered to Fred, "Let's go. We still have two hours till she wanted us to wake her."

With that, all five women crept quietly out of the room and closed the door.


Demon Command

Rebecca and Melissa watched as the helicopter that carried Gavin, Major Carter, and Teal'c fly off into the distance. "This is really happening, isn't it?" Melissa asked, as she leaned against the railing.

Rebecca looked at her. "Not the kind of thing you thought you'd be doing with your life right about now, huh?"

"That's a big understatement," Melissa answered, as she looked over the water. "Getting superpowers, fighting vampires, almost getting kidnapped. All that I can deal with, but fighting a bunch of Star Wars stormtrooper rejects who want to take over the planet? To top it all off, we have to help Xander kill himself! I don't know if I'm even remotely ready for this..."

"I know what you mean..."

"How could you? You told me the majority of your family has been in the military, for as long as you can remember. You went through a damn Academy for this crap," Melissa said, narrowing her eyes.

Rebecca sat on a deck chair. "It's one thing to be told, and even taught how to fight, but to really go out and risk your neck like we do...I gotta admit, I was definitely not ready. I was taught the best way to win a fight...was to never to let it start in the first place. But that doesn't work, fighting the stuff that we do. I just keep going over the first fight we had, back in the other base."

"What about it?"

"I was trained to be a pro, even a killer if I had to be. But all I'd been doing before that, was sitting at a computer terminal. The only real fighting I got was from martial arts instructors, and I wore padding when I fought them..."

She sighed, "I just keep thinking of how Xander handled it. Before we got the powers and were going to go in, he just accepted it. No second thoughts at all. Then when those two vamps had us with that M-16, I thought that we were dead. And the guy throws his body on top of mine! It was like a damn reflex for him. The civilian protecting the big Air Force officer..."

"And you really minded when he threw his arms around you to protect you?" Melissa asked with a smirk.

"We had a damn M-16 pointed at us! No way was I thinking that..." Rebecca stopped, when she saw Melissa still smirking. "You're not believing me, are you?"



Xander looked out the window of the helicopter, but all he could see was blue water. The sun had only recently come up. He was trying to collect his thoughts, when he saw it.

An aircraft carrier.

"Always wanted to go on a carrier," he said to himself. The former Zeppo was going back to his thoughts, when he saw something painted on the conning tower of the ship.

"Holy crap!" Xander turned to Major Davis next to him. "Number 65? You can't be serious!"

Davis laughed. "Thought you'd get a kick out of it being a surprise..."

"Well, I'll be. The goddamn Enterprise!"


Stargate Command

General Hammond met the group, at the elevator checkpoint. It was the first thing any visitor to the SGC saw, as they came to the base. Well, any visitor from Earth anyway...

He saluted. "Mr. President. Welcome to the SGC."

President George W. Bush smiled. "I finally get to see the damn thing in action then, General?"

Hammond smiled back. "Yes, sir. Dr. Jackson and Jonas Quinn are scheduled to depart in less than an hour..."


"You can't be serious," Gavin said as he drank his coffee.

Major Carter looked at him. "You used to have an underground base."

"Yeah, but it kind of blew up around us! And that was after the huge fight with those vampires," he told her, as they got in the featureless elevator.

Carter and Teal'c gave each other a smile, as they watched Gavin walk out last from the elevator. He looked ahead, then up, then he dropped his coffee cup on the floor.

"That's the Prometheus?" he asked, awestruck.

"Indeed," Teal'c answered in his solemn trademark way.

Gavin looked around to both of them. "Please tell me I get to fly it."

"If you're good..." Carter teased him.


Colonel O'Neill and General Andrews watched the troops as they worked. Beth and April were working the main screen. The large screen changed to show several small sections in a row, and the rest went to the Air Force logo. One small section at a time came to life.

"The Joint Chiefs and the Pentagon are online," Beth called out. April and her then took turns calling out the others.

"The White House is online."

"NASA is online."

"The SGC is online."

"USS Enterprise is online."

"NORAD is online."

"Pacific Command is online."

"Satellite feeds are online."

"The AWAC is online."

O'Neill smirked, "If this isn't the conference call from Hell? I don't know what is..."


USS Enterprise

Briefing room

Xander noticed a set of eyes on them, as they came in the room. Major Davis knew the man, "Lieutenant D'Amata, I wasn't aware you were still activated for this..."

D'Amata, a 5'7 man with short black hair saluted Davis. "It was kind of last minute, sir. They said they wanted someone who was, uh, used to the strange stuff."

Xander turned to Davis. "He's got experience in this type of battle?"

Davis looked around, to make sure no one else was too close to hear. "Lieutenant D'Amata was part of SG-2 for awhile," he whispered.


D'Amata looked Xander over. "You're the guy that we have to cover?"

"Yup," Xander answered. "I'm the big shot, I guess."

"Ten-hut! Captain on deck!"

All the Marines that were in the room moved to their seats in a split second, and stood at attention. A man in a Navy uniform came into the room, and the door was closed.

"Be seated," Captain Neidlinger said. They all took their seats, as Xander, Davis, and D'Amata took three seats in front.

The ship's captain continued, "You've all been told that we're expecting an attack, but what you have not been told is from where. I must remind you now that this is not a war game, or drill. Everything said in here is top level security. Major Davis?"

Davis got up and went to the front of the room. "Good morning. Most of you have been fighting the ongoing war on terrorism, and are used to human soldiers. Unfortunately for this operation, that does not apply here. If our information is accurate, we're, uh, going up against a group of demons from another dimension." He paused to see the very surprised reactions from the Marines.

One Marine looked like he was going to laugh. The captain saw it and snapped, "Something you want to say, Marine?"

"No, sir!" the man called out.

Davis continued, "You will be deploying near the evacuated town of Sunnydale, California. The town is surrounded by desert, with a small forest to the south. During this op, we'll be focusing on the desert area where we believe the enemy is going to 'portal' in. For the basic background, I'm turning this over to Captain Alexander Harris. Captain, if you would?"

Xander got up and faced the Marines, somewhat nervously. "I can see by some of your faces, you don't believe that you're hearing this. Well, it's all true. Permit me to demonstrate..."

Now, Xander had never had good luck with magic. The Valentine's Day fiasco with Cordelia, was an excellent example! But in his time with the Council, he had picked up a few tricks that the young man knew would be needed now to convince the troops.

Muttering in Latin, Xander quickly made himself appear nine feet tall.

There was a great deal of confusion, with babbling voices as the Marines could not believe their eyes. Even Davis and D'Amata, used to strange stuff by now, had a moment of disbelief as they stepped away.

"Any of you can touch me if you want, to prove it's not a trick," Xander's head said from the ceiling. When no one came forward, he quickly reversed the glamour.

"Okay. Listen up. All the stuff you thought was the project of fantasy writers? It's real. You will not be hearing the Twilight Zone theme at any time here. As Major Davis said, the enemy will portal in from another dimension. What this means is, that it will be a magic portal."

Seeing some fragments of doubt still, Xander reiterated, "Yes, I said magic. Look, it'll appear out of thin air, and make it seem as if the sky has just opened up. We believe that this portal will be several miles in size, to allow an effective foothold force to get onto American soil. And from what I've heard, they will be hard as hell to stop if they get set up..."

He took a sip from his water bottle, and continued. "Sunnydale was built on a Hellmouth. What this means is, a slight tear in the fabric of reality between different dimensions. As its name will tell you, it's an entrance to Hell, or at least what we think is Hell..."

Xander looked grim as he then said, "From the stuff I saw growing up there, I have to say that I think it's Hell alright. It attracts many kinds of demons to it, most notably vampires. Yeah, Dracula and all that 'I vant to suck your blooood' type stuff. Vampires tend to be the garden-variety demons in Sunnydale. We, however, will be on the outskirts during daylight, so we shouldn't have to worry about them. But you will be told how to fight them, just in case."

Davis nodded to an officer by the door, and the lights went off. He turned on the projector, and it showed a satellite image of the desert with a cave opening circled.

"This," Xander said, pointing to it, "is our target. We will deploy here, and move into the cave. From our scans, we've determined the cavern is quite large, nearly the size of three football fields. People, what we're after is the portal magnifier..."

Xander saw the Marines' confusion and sighed, "Normal magic users can only open small human-sized portals to go through, but the magnifier will give them the power to open the huge one they're using. It'll most likely be heavily guarded by what we've nicknamed, the Stormtroopers..."

Captain Harris hesitated a moment. "My...source said they use a body armor that seems to be made to deflect energy weapons, rather than gunfire. Look, bottom line is, you'll have full authority to take out as many as you can. We are not taking prisoners here. Your main objective will be to get me to the magnifier, so I can shut it down. If we can take it out, then the portal will close and our other forces can take care of their personnel that are stranded on our side."

The lights came on, and Xander opened a case that was on the desk. He held up the white wristbands for the Marines to see.

"These are devices that were captured from the enemy," he said. "They lock on to your home dimension, and allow you to open a portal to get back home. You will be issued these, because with all the energy the magnifier is going to be pumping out, several portals might open up in that cavern. If it happens and you get caught up in it, just activate the band to get home — like this."

He demonstrated how to work it. "Now, a word of warning. If you are sent to another dimension? Avoid contact with the people of it, if possible. Open a portal as soon as you can, and return home. We don't know the enemy numbers already here in our dimension, so we have to assume..."


Flight deck

Two hours later

Xander looked around, as several aircraft were getting ready. He watched, as the jet aircraft prepared for take-off.

"Thinking of joining the Navy?" He turned to see Davis and D'Amata coming up to him.

"No, just normal guy drool at seeing all the jets," he laughed.

"You ready for this?" Davis asked him.

"I guess. But I'm still wondering why I have to take a different helicopter in..."

"Better odds," Davis told him. "You're the guy who we have to get to the magnifier. The Marines will land first and secure the area, and then you come in after. We don't know when the attack is supposed to happen, or how much the enemy knows..."

Xander looked at him. "What if the attack doesn't come? I mean I would love not having to go out fighting again, but..."

"We've got a cover story in place if that should happen, that this was all a drill of the Homeland Security department to test our readiness for an attack."

"Guess you got a lot of practice with that line, what with the attacks from the..." Xander pointed his finger up towards the sky.

"Too many times," Davis said grimly.


Hyperion Hotel

"So, have you thought of names yet?"

Cordelia looked up, and saw Fred standing over her. "I've thought of a few, but it seems wrong with Xander not being here to do it with me..."

The seer started to cry, as she looked at the middle of the lobby where Dawn and Willow were laying on a blanket — playing with the girls. "It's just not fair! Those two will never know their own father! And how am I supposed to raise them by myself? I'm barely holding my own, these days. Now with two kids?"

Fred sat next to her, "One: you're not alone, just look around this place. You really think we wouldn't help out? I mean, we do have experience with babies around here. And two: couldn't you use that trust fund you said you have coming?"

Cordelia wiped a tear away. "It's only five grand. I don't think my grandma was thinking I'd have kids by now, when she set the fund up."

"What about the inheritance from your uncle? Still no word?"

Cordy suppressed a sarcastic laugh. "Yeah, just heard from his attorney friend last week. The little gold-digging wife will most likely get all of it. I gave up on that hope, a long time ago."

"Ah, Cordy..."

They looked back to see Kristen, with a briefcase behind them. "I've done a lot of thinking in the last few hours, and since the Council is now not trying to kill me and paying for my school...I don't need this."

She opened the briefcase, and Cordelia and Fred nearly fainted when they saw the contents. Eighty-one thousand dollars.

"I...I...I can't take this!"

"Yes you can, Cordy," Kristen said firmly. "This is just one of the many accounts Xander set up for emergencies. The Council will never miss it — it was earmarked to go cover an addition to Travers' house, for God's sake! Besides, you know I'm gonna spoil those two girls rotten anyway," she said with a smile.

Before Cordelia could respond, Lorne called out. "Hey kids, you might want to come see this!"

He turned up the volume on the 25-inch TV, that was in one of the rooms resting on a large counter. It showed a helicopter shot, on CNN. In fact, it was a highly zoomed-in shot of Sunnydale. A line at the bottom read 'Live from KTLA News Chopper 5'.

The reporter said, "Ladies and gentlemen, what you are seeing is live coverage near the town of Sunnydale. We can see the many tanks, soldiers, and other vehicles in the area. Also, several fighter jets have been seeing patrolling the area. We have been alerted that the Pentagon has just restricted the airspace for another twenty miles around the town. We might have to..."

The reporter on the helicopter cut in, "I'm sorry Sandy, but we're seeing something happening here! The sky seems to be...warping, is the best way I can describe it. Something seems to be happening...all the military now seems to be in motion..."

Then it happened, on live TV.

Flashes of lighting came out of nowhere, and traveled sideways. A dark red line seemed to move high into the air, and off into the distance. Suddenly the clear blue sky was ripped open, and everyone could see the thing that awaited on the other side.

"My God," Dawn whispered.


Stargate Command

Main Conference Room

President Bush wasted no time. He turned to the screen that connected him to the Pentagon, "General. Go to DefCon One." He then turned to another screen, connected to General Andrews. "Did your man land yet?"

"No, sir. The Marines have landed, and have not encountered any resistance so far. Horsemen 2 and 4 are on-site as well. Harris is on his way," Andrews answered.

"Good, have them go in as soon as Horseman 1 arrives on-site." Bush turns to Hammond. "Any luck with the, uh, Asgard?"

"No contact as yet, sir."

They both looked up, when the large board of numbers on the wall went from 2 to 1. A loud alarm then went off.


Stargate Control Room

Sergeant Walter Davis didn't look at the DefCon One alarm with nervousness. He had been at the SGC since the beginning, so it was very old hat stuff to him.

He'd lived through attacks by space, crashed alien ships, Anubis using the Stargate as a bomb, hell even the 'gate being connected to a black hole.

The only thing Davis was ticked off about, was that this meant he'd lost the base betting pool. He had put his money down, for the next alert to go off in two weeks...


Two miles from Sunnydale

"This just went from War of the Worlds to Saving Private Ryan, didn't it?" Agent Robert Maxwell asked, as he saw what lay beyond the portal.

Graham smirked. "You're saying we can't handle this?"

"Sir?" Agent Juliet Parish shook her head. "Are you kidding? We've been trained for fighting vamps and demons. Not that!"


Demon Command

"They're just sitting there?" Xander's image asked through the video-link.

"Yeah, it's really weird; they're all lined up like in 'Attack of the Clones'. But they're not coming through — at all. We can see the Big Boy ship floating, just behind the main assault force," April said, as if it was just talk about what was on TV.

Andrews leaned in, "Captain, what is your ETA?"

Xander looked back to the pilot of the helicopter. "We should be there in..."

"Sir!" Beth called out. "The satellite's picking up some kind of energy buildup, from their side of the portal!"

"Can you identify it?"

"Not's building up to something, but nothing like this was reported by Alexis..." Beth told Andrews, as she watched the satellite data feed onto a side screen.

Seconds later, it hit her. The readings looked like...

"Call the jets off, now!" Beth yelled. "It's an EMP!"

But before anyone could react to her warning, an almost unseen wave pushed out from the portal.


The tanks were hit first. As their operators looked around in growing panic, the controls blew out in sparks. All the tanks, all 143 of them came to a dead stop at once.

"What do we do now?" one crewmember asked his tank commander.

"The only thing we can do," he responded, as the man grabbed his gun from the base of the chair.


"Pull up! Climb, climb!" came the shouts from many of the fighter pilots. A few in the rear managed to get high enough to get away, just barely. The helicopters, on the other hand, were not so lucky.


The President watched, horrified, as the indicators on the massive screen changed. Almost all fighter jet, tank, and helicopter status went from green to bright red.

"Get me the AWAC! We need to remobilize the reserves, now!"

Hammond tried to remain calm. "We can't raise it."

"Sir!" Beth's voice came through. "The satellite shows the AWAC just crashed!"

Bush tried to control his anger and shock, as he turned to the link with the Pentagon. "Damn it, Clinton signed the freaking order ten years ago! Why weren't we shielded from that?! We just lost a hell of a lot of good people!"

"Sir, they were mostly all shielded. Especially the AWAC! Whatever the enemy's using, it's a hell of a lot more advanced than anything we have," a three-star general told him.

"Do we know if Horseman 1 crashed?"

"We still show him inbound. The pulse was directed inland."

"Do we have any contact with the troops at all?"

"No, sir. We only have the satellites at the moment," Andrews answered.

"They're coming out of the portal!" April suddenly yelled.


Thousands of Marines, National Guard, and Army troops opened fire as soon as the stormtroopers started marching in. The Assembly troops started getting mowed down in nice even rows, as they advanced.

A Marine Lt. Colonel called to the radioman. "Any luck?"

"No sir, this thing is dead!"

Another Marine spoke up, "Sir, we're taking them down. This should be over quick..."

"Jeez, tell me you're not that stupid kid! Don't you see what's going on?"

The private shook his head.

"Son, it's just like Normandy. The first few lines will get slaughtered, but the rest of 'em will get through. They're sacrificing themselves!"


The Assembly's version of jet fighters came screaming out next. Several went after the few jets that the pulse missed, and most of the rest started to open fire on the front lines. Sometimes taking out some of their own troops, just to help the rest gain ground...

Five turned towards the ocean, and took off; they were the ones Beth was tracking from the satellites. Andrews saw what she did, "They're heading for Horseman 1's chopper. They know!" He turned to the screen.

"Captain Harris! Take evasive action! You have five hostiles coming at you!"


"-hostiles coming at you!"

Xander didn't look over to the screen. He was too busy looking ahead, as he saw the five weirdly shaped jets coming right at him. With only seconds to spare, the pilot nose-dived for the ground as the jets flew...right past them.

Xander ran back to the bay, to look out the side window. The jets kept going. <Why would they just pass us? We're in a marked military transport helicopter, for cryin' out loud! What else could they want?>

He ran back to screen. "They passed us. They just ignored us completely!"

"The other jets are hitting everything that's moving. Why not hit you?" Andrews asked.

"I think they're going after Enterprise!" O'Neill called out.

Xander murmured a silent prayer, that the Enterprise would survive. He recalled what Commander William Riker of the Enterprise NCC-1701-D had once said; 'Luck. It protects the stupid, small children, and ships named Enterprise.'

<I just hope he was right...oh, damn!>

Xander actually kicked himself, for not realizing it right away.


O'Neill noticed his face on the screen. "Captain, what is it?"

"They didn't hit us on the way, because it must already be taken care of," Xander said.

"What do you mean, Harris?"

Xander's answer was lost in the sound of gunshots.

Everyone in the control room looked on in shock, as the screen went to static. The last thing to be heard was Xander's voice, "You have got to be shitting me!"

Chapter 5

Rupert Giles was feeling more like a babysitter, than anything else at the moment.

With the exception of Nika, who was nose-deep in a large book, all the Slayers-in-waiting were drooling over the in-flight movie. <I'm sure Leonardo DiCaprio must be a bloody demon...>

His thoughts were interrupted, by the plane's captain coming over the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have to inform you that we have just been told all traffic to almost all of southern California, has been diverted. We have changed course to land in Salt Lake City, and should be arriving within the hour. We apologize for the inconvenience, but there's nothing we can do about it..."

Over the sound of many groans from upset passengers, Nika turned her worried face to Giles. "This is bad, isn't it sir?"


Demon Command

"Can we get him back?" Andrews asked Beth, as he tried the controls himself. Beth didn't answer, she was just staring at the small static-filled screen. "Beth!"

"Huh?" She saw Andrews' face. "Sorry, sir."

The woman checked the status screen. She double-checked the results, and then triple-checked them. "'s no..." she couldn't finish. She didn't have to — he saw it too.

The satellite 2-D profile of Xander's helicopter was flashing red. The word CRASHED flashing as well.


One of the many abandoned warehouses in Sunnydale

Graham and his team ran through the doors. And as soon as the last member was in, they slammed the door shut.

"You think they saw us?" Agent Parish asked, as she caught her breath.

Agent Tyler shook his head. "No, we should be okay." He turned to Graham. "Since when do we run from the enemy, sir?"

"Since they outflank us on all sides, and our air support is in the middle of a smoky hole in the ground!!" Graham yelled.

"Don't move!"

They all spun to see several Army wounded coming out of hiding.

"I'm Agent Graham Miller, and this is my team. We're the good guys," the man said calmly. He started to walk forward, when he saw someone else. A girl, about 15 or 16 years old.

"Who's she?" he demanded slowly, going for his gun.

A medic came forward. "She was here when we came in, a few minutes ago. She ran away from home, and didn't hear about the evacuation..."

Graham just kept his eyes locked on the girl. "Parish!" he called out, with his hand reaching behind him.

Parish handed him a small wooden cross. Graham drew his gun and aimed it at the girl, as he tossed the cross over to her feet. "Pick it up," he demanded.

The medic got in between them. "What the hell are you doing!?"

Graham pushed him aside. "Stay out of the way. Now pick up the cross," he told the girl again.

The girl started to look around nervously. "Why would you want me to pick up a..."

"Pick it up now! Or else we open fire."

The medic struggled in Tyler's grip. "Have you gone mad? Put the gun down!"

The girl started shaking as she reached slowly down, then at the last second she looked up and her face morphed into her true vampiric image.

She lunged at Graham growling, but he immediately opened fire. She fell back, as multiple bullets hit her. Graham wasted no time as he ran over, and shoved a stake into her heart before she could get up.

The medic watched, stunned. "What was that?" he quietly asked.

Graham smiled. "Welcome to Sunnydale, doc." He turned to his people. "Search this place, top to bottom. We don't need anymore uninvited guests..."


Demon Command

"Ah, people? I know it's a bad time and all, but one of the bad guys is leaving the area," April called out.

Andrews, O'Neill, and Beth looked at the screen. "Just one fighter?" Jack O'Neill asked, as he watched it move north on the screen. "Is it headed here?"

April shook her head. "No, it's headed inland. It's not following the coastline. It'll be passing about 30 miles away from us."

Andrews looked to O'Neill. "One of the bases, maybe?"

O'Neill frowned. "It's going to go over the middle of LA. There's nothing there, or on its flight path, that they would need to take out..."

Beth was also wondering what the jet was going after. There was no military target in its path...

<But there is a civilian target!> the thought screamed in her head. She recalled when Xander had told them what Alexis had told him. 'The guy killed all my friends, just out of spite...'

"April, lay over a street map of this guy's flight path!" she yelled.

Andrews watched her face, as a city map appeared under the white line of the projected flight path. "Beth, what is it?"

Beth didn't answer, as she sprang out of her seat and ran for the stairs.

"Take over!" Andrews called to O'Neill, as he took off after Beth. He got to the conference table, a few seconds after she arrived and started yelling at the laptop computer screen. "Come on! Come on! Pick up!" Andrews got to her, as he saw a redheaded woman appear on the screen.

"Xander?" the woman asked hopefully. Her face fell, when she saw it wasn't him calling. "What do you-?"

Beth cut her off. "Willow, evacuate the hotel right now! You have incoming!"

"Ah, incoming what?" she asked, confused.

They heard another voice, as a young black man came into view. "What's goin' on?"

Beth looked at him. "Evac now! You have less than 90 seconds to get out. You have incoming!"

The redhead still looked confused, but the bald man wasn't. His eyes showed shock for a second, before he ran.


Hyperion Hotel

Gunn ran over to the other side of the lobby. "Everyone outside, now!" he yelled.

Angel looked at him. "Gunn, what is it?"

Gunn grabbed one of the babies off the blanket. "We got incoming! Wes!" Wesley was on the move, before Gunn had finished. He grabbed the other baby.

"Charles, what's going on?" Fred asked him in confusion.

Gunn used his free hand to pull her along. "Hotel's gonna go boom. Move it!"

They all ran to the entrance. Cordy, Buffy and Connor stopped at the door, looking back at Angel and Spike. It was the middle of the afternoon...

"No time!" Angel yelled. "We'll try to get to the sewers. Go!" He and Spike took off back into the hotel.


The light wind blew through his hair, as Xander regained consciousness. He looked around to see where he was... <Great. In the middle of the desert.>

The human felt sore all over, as he picked himself up. He looked for the other 'guy'. He noticed the chameleon demon, which now had very large wings laying several feet from him. From the looks of it, the thing hadn't fared as well as he had.

<No way in hell is anyone going to believe that,> the USAF officer thought to himself, as he pulled out a yellow device the size of a cell phone from his vest.

<Please work...please work...> he kept repeating to himself, as he watched the GPS unit turn on. <Yes!>

<Only 1.32 miles to the north. Great, and I suck at running,> Xander Harris thought to himself, as he took off.


Street outside the Hyperion

Everyone who could make it out to the street, started looking around frantically.

"There!" Lee pointed up and down the empty street. A weird red jet was roaring down at full speed. Everyone ran — well, almost everyone.

Cordelia didn't, as she was thoroughly pissed.

<I could've been happy with the man I loved all this time! But they took away my family! Tried to erase my life! And now these guys have tried to kill Xander, heck are going to kill him! And now they go after me and my friends! My children!> the anger in her was building beyond anything the woman had ever felt before.


Amanda, Willow, and Buffy turned back, when they didn't see Cordy with them. And what they saw stunned them. Cordelia was right in the middle of the street; Buffy started to go for her, when Amanda stopped her.

"What are you doing?" the Slayer demanded.

Amanda kept looking at Cordelia. "Look at her eyes!"

Buffy looked, and was awestruck. Cordelia's eyes were glowing, and energy was radiating out of them as well. Suddenly, pure white light circled around Cordelia like a mini-tornado. It quickly rose up and followed her arms, as she raised them. She pointed her hands, right at the oncoming jet.

"NO MORE!!" Cordelia screamed, as a huge blast of light shot from her arms.

Everyone watched, as the light hit the jet — shearing it in half, like it was tissue paper. It exploded in mid-air, almost on top of them and if not for Willow throwing up a magic shield...they would have been died in the firestorm.

As soon as they could, they ran to Cordelia. She was sprawled out motionless on the street.

"Is she okay?" Fred asked, as she took the baby from Gunn. He bent down, and took her head in his hands.

Cordelia weakly opened up her eyes a bit, and looked at him. "Did I get it?" she asked.

Gunn nodded. "Yeah, you got it. Jesus, Cordy, how did you know you could do that?"

"I didn't..." Cordy said weakly, before she passed out.

Gunn looked up. "Lee!"


"Run back in, and call them back and see if any more are coming. Willow, can you put up another of those shields if you have to?" he asked her.

"I think so," Willow said, as she leaned onto Dawn.

Buffy blinked, when she saw Dawn smiling. "What's so funny?"

Dawn smirked, "I so do not envy the first guys those two girls bring home to meet Mom..."

A roaring noise made them look up, as two F-15s flew overhead.


Demon Command

"Ah, Command? This is Bishop One. You're probably not gonna believe this, but the enemy aircraft was taken out by some sort of energy weapon. We've buzzed the area twice now, and cannot see any type of weapon the blast could have been launched from. But the jet is definitely down, right in the middle of the street."

Andrews moved to the mike. "Copy that, Bishop One. Remain on standby in the area, in case more attempts to try this again occur."

"Roger that, Command."

Andrews looked over to an officer at one of the far terminals. "Take a team out there, and secure the wreckage."

As the officer ran out of the room, O'Neill looked up. "Where the heck did they get an energy weapon from? Who are these people, sir?"

"Later, Colonel..."


The second wave of jets came out of the portal, low and fast. They engaged the over 300 hundred U.S. and Canadian fighters jets, that had just arrived on-scene. And behind the jets came the Big Boy.

It was elongated, cylindrical-shaped, with several fighter bays along the front and underside. It was huge; it dwarfed the fighters, as it came out. And as soon as it emerged, it started to go on a direct course for a small Navy weapons testing range in Nevada.


Stargate Command

Hammond sighed, as he saw the report on the screen. "Mr. President? The ship is being tracked. It's headed right for the hangar, just like we thought it would."

Bush nodded, as he spoke to the Pentagon. "Launch the Prometheus."

One officer spoke up, "Sir, there is a news chopper in the area..."

"Just launch the damn ship! This is wartime now, they'll see it all eventually anyway. It's time to see what seven billion dollars will buy you these days..."


Salt Lake City International Airport

Like everyone was doing in the terminal, Giles and the girls watched the large TV.

"...we are definitely seeing some sort of activity here. It seems the ground is opening up, we're trying to get closer to see what is going on..." the reporter on the chopper said.

"Could this be some sort of bunker-?" the news anchor tried to ask, when the reporter cut her off. "Oh my God!"

The image switched to a view of the desert, and inside an incredibly large hangar. A large, long gray ship, the size of a small aircraft carrier sat in the bay. It slowly started to rise out of the ground.

The terminal was dead silent. Everyone was stunned, as the ship that was obviously a human-made craft gained momentum till it was out of the bay and the doors closed behind it like a huge garage door.

The reporter was trying to regain his composure. "We can see the letters USAF on the side, along with the designation X-303. We do not know what the 303 means, but..."


Prometheus Bridge

Major Erin Grant looked over at Colonel William Renson, in the center seat. "Looks like we have an audience, sir." They could see the news chopper on their screens, and out the view windows.

Colonel Renson sighed. "The term 'restricted airspace' means nothing anymore, does it? Okay, where's our target?"

Major Grant checked her screen. "They're coming straight for us, fast. Distance 79.6 miles, and closing rapidly."

"Sound battle stations. Helm, take us to them, and try to keep us over the desert. We don't need a dogfight over a city!" the colonel ordered.

"Yes, sir..."


Salt Lake City International Airport

Giles and the others watched, as the ship went from hovering off the ground to a complete turn to the left in one fluid motion, and it took off to join the battle in Sunnydale.

As the reporter tried to speculate on where the ship had come from, a young man in a USC sweater near Giles smiled. "I suddenly don't mind paying my taxes..."

Giles watched, amused, as the man turned to his friends. "Come on guys, U! S! A!" the young man started to chant, and then his college friends joined in. "U! S! A!"

The man looked his friends over. "C'mon, let's go find a bar with a big screen so we can watch them kick the crap out of whoever those bastards are!"

Giles watched them leave with a smile, before turning to the girls he was leading. "Come along, then; we, we have to rent a van for the trip to LA..."


Abandoned warehouse

Graham looked out the window at the noise. And he didn't like what he saw. "What the hell-?"

A small, strange ship was almost directly over head. Everyone ran to the window to watch, as a long object came out of the front of the ship. The object seemed to be in sections of thin metal. As soon as the tip hit the ground, it split open and legs dug into the earth.

Graham then realized what it was. <Those damn towers.> A moment later, a blue field popped up and covered the area. It went over the next rise.

He turned to his men. "People, we just found what we have to blow up."

Agent Donavon asked, "You know what the thing is, sir?"

"I was briefed. Basically, they're shield towers. None of our support teams will be able to get through, and they'll have time to bring in a whole crap-load of troops. Okay, I want a weapons check of everything we have here, and I want it now!"


Cave entrance

"We can't wait any longer!" D'Amata said, as he started to move.

Melissa grabbed her arm. "We wait for him. We need Xander; nothing else we have will hurt that thing."

D'Amata sighed, "Look, he should have been here a long time ago. They must've crashed, it's the only explanation. We've lost the element of surprise by now; they have to know we're here. If we don't go now, we might not get another chance!"

Before they could argue a Marine called out, "Sir! Someone's coming!"

They turned to see a figure running to them, as D'Amata grabbed a pair of binoculars. "Well, I'll be damned! It's him..."


Pentagon War Room

"Sir, they have the shield towers up!"

"How many, sergeant?"

"Six of them, sir."

General Martinson looked at the satellite display. "Damn it — our boys are trapped in there! Did we have any luck with the equipment drops?"

"Yes, sir," his aide told him. "We dropped several payloads in. If the troops got them or not, we don't know."

"I want everything we have that can get through that shield there, as soon as possible. Get in touch with Area 51, have them go through all the crap the SGC teams acquired off-world. Maybe something we can use is sitting on a damn shelf there!"


The news chopper was still tailing the Prometheus, as it glided over the landscape. And everyone around the world was watching it.

Colonel Renson frowned at the monitor. "Have they responded at all to our hails?"

"Only to put me on live TV, sir," the communications officer sighed.

"Damn!" He turned to Grant. "I really want to shoot them down. You think the brass would mind? We could call it a malfunction of the targeting system. After all, you remember what happened on the shakedown cruise..."

"I remember sir, but I don't think they'll buy that," Grant smiled.

"Double damn. Communications, get me Major Carter."


Tok'Ra Cargo Ship

Cloaked flying along side the enemy ship.

Carter opened the channel on her panel. "Go ahead, Prometheus."

"Major. How much longer?"

"We've completed our scans of the ship, and it's not really as advanced as we thought. It just has really good shielding," she told Renson.

"Good enough that we'll have a hard time?" he asked.

"It might take a bit longer than anticipated sir, but you shouldn't have too much trouble."

"How's the assault team doing?"

Carter checked her display. It showed nine blips, moving through the corridors on the ship. "They haven't run into any resistance so far. I had the transport rings set them down in a cargo section. They...stand by, Prometheus..."


Inside the ship nicknamed 'Big Boy'.

Jacob spoke into his radio, "Thanks, Sam. Stand by..."

He held up his hand, and the other members of the team stopped without a word. He waved them over to the side wall. They all pressed themselves against it, just before two stormtroopers marched past in an adjacent corridor.

As soon as the troopers had their backs to them, Jacob fired his zat gun and both troopers fell as blue energy wrapped itself around their bodies.

Gavin grinned. "General, you have got to get me one of those..."

Jacobs's eyes flashed yellow-white, as his symbiote spoke. "The Zat'ni'katel is not a toy for the young."

Gavin stepped back. "Give a guy a warning before ya do that!"

Teal'c looked to them, as he started to put on the fallen troopers' armor. "How far is the control center from here, Jacob Carter?"

"Two decks up, and down half the length of the ship," he answered, as the Tok'Ra operative started to remove the other's armor.


Cave entrance


"What happened to you, sir?" D'Amata asked, looking at the state Xander was in.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Now, let's get a move on. Have you seen any enemy troopers?"

"No, sir."

"Alright then, let's get started," Xander said, as he took out a P90 from the equipment.

They moved into the cave, and were shocked at what they saw. Rebecca was the first to say it. "No way in Hell! How could they do this, right under our noses?"

The cave was a vast network of corridors. Metal walls, lights, even carpet. Four corridors led out from the main entrance. "We'll have to ask after we save the day. Melissa, which way do we head?" Xander demanded.

Melissa looked at her Tok'Ra-issue scanner. "Second to the left."

Xander looked back to his team. "Okay, keep an eye out for any cameras or troopers. Avoid weapons fire if possible. They probably know we're here, but I don't want to risk it anyway..."

"You okay with that thing?" Rebecca whispered to Melissa.

Melissa glanced at her P90, and nodded her head. "Two hours of training will have to be enough."


Hyperion Hotel

Cordelia woke up slowly. "Oh God, my head."

"About time you woke up..."

Cordy looked, and saw Fred sitting next to the bed. "How long was I out? I had the weirdest dream..." she asked, holding her head.

Fred grinned at her. "A dream where you shot down a plane?"

Cordelia was shocked. "That really happened?"

Fred nodded. "Willow put up one of her shields, in time to stop it coming down on top of us. It was freaky. Her eyes went all black and everything..."

"How the hell did I mange to do tha-" she stopped, as the new mother looked around. "Where are the girls?!" Cordy asked, panicked.

"They're downstairs, with Lorne and Dawn. Kristen and Conner went out to get some baby food for them," Fred reassured her.

"I miss anything?" Cordy asked, as she tied her hair in a ponytail.

"Other than World War Three?"

"It's that bad?"

"Oh yeah. The bad guys put up some kind of shield around the place. The TV is saying that the Army isn't lasting long, trapped in there. It's becoming a bloodbath," Fred told her sadly.

Cordelia looked down, fighting back tears. <And my Xander is right there in the middle of it...>


Assembly base

Xander glanced down the corridor. "Clear!" His team and the group of Marines with them ran to the next corridor. "Ether this is a gigantic trap, or we are really lucky..."

D'Amata sighed. "I'm going with trap."

"Yeah, so am I." Xander looked at him. "I was wondering why you quit the SGC. After what I was told about that place, it seems like a cool gig."

D'Amata frowned. "You're asking me this now?"

"Well, I was wondering, and I am going to be dead later, so I can't ask then," Xander shrugged.

"Something happened on a mission. My team thought I was dead. So they left me behind. But I wasn't, and I got the fun end of a Goa'uld slave labor camp."

"Ouch," Xander winced.

"I left the service, after I got back three months later. I hooked up with an old high school buddy, and tried to get back to my old life." He shook his head. "That lasted about a month, before I signed back up. Then I got the call for this."


They both turned to see who had called them. Two Marine privates were standing next to a small portal, next to the wall. Xander, D'Amata, and Rebecca all readied their weapons, as they moved over.

Rebecca was the first to see the portal. <What the hell?>

Xander saw her shocked face, as he came over. "Bad guys?"

"Ah, I don't think so sir..."

Xander neared the small portal, to see Angel and Lorne standing in the lobby of the Hyperion looking back at him. <Why the hell would a portal be there?>

Angel's face went as white as it could, when he saw Xander. Rebecca and Xander looked at each other for a second, before the man from Sunnydale heard a voice that he knew very well. Cordelia's voice.

"Angel? What's going on?" she came into view, and saw Xander. Her face went pale, and the woman threw her hand over her mouth.

"Oh my God!" she cried, as tears started to fall. Cordy looked like she was going to collapse as she spoke again, "Xan...Xander?"

Xander weakly waved to them. "Ah, hi guys. This must seem strange to you...okay, let's just call this a Hellmouth moment. Or one heck of a wacky, wacky dream..."

Angel was holding Cordelia, so that she didn't fall. "Who are you? What kind of game are you playing? How did you learn about Xander?" he demanded.

Xander was very surprised at the amount of venom in his voice. "I kinda have to know about myself, Dead Boy. Look, I can't really talk right now. If we survive this thing we have to do, Rebecca here can come-"

"This isn't going to work!" Angel interrupted him angrily. "I told you that if you ever tried something like this again, I would burn your damn firm down to the ground!"

"Firm? What — oh! You think I'm with those evil lawyers..."

Cordelia spoke softly through the tears, but she was still shaking a bit. "I'm sorry I had them pull the plug on you, honey...but I thought you had no chance of ever coming out of the coma..."

"Coma?" Rebecca looked to Xander. "When were you ever in a coma?"

Xander looked at Cordy through the portal, sadly. "I was never in one. But, her Xander must've been..."

Cordelia's eyes went wide as he said, 'her Xander'. She watched, as Xander turned to the redheaded woman next to him. "I swear, this is just too freaky. Almost as weird as when we did the enjoining spell, to help Buffy stop Adam..."

Angel, Lorne and Cordelia just gave each other confused glances, as they listened to them talk.

"You mean that demon Terminator you once told us about?" Rebecca asked him.

"Yeah, but it got even weirder when the ghost of the First Slayer attacked us in our dreams later," Xander grimaced.

The alien Cordelia Chase, also known as Chase Winters in her dimension, couldn't help but smile. It was the one thing about her late husband and father of her adopted children that she'd loved and hated. His ability to talk about everything other than what was important.

She wiped a few new tears away, before the Immortal woman suddenly exclaimed, "But that was over 100 years ago. How can you still be alive?"

Xander spoke softly. "Uh, Cordelia? I'm sorry, but I'm not your Xander. There's this thing here, that's doing a bunch of weird crap to the Hellmouth right now..."

He stopped, suddenly in shock. "Wait, a hundred years ago? How the heck are you still alive, then?"

She and Angel looked at each other, unsure of what was going on. Melissa frowned, "Xander? How can this thing open a portal to the hotel in LA? The thing isn't that powerful, is it?"

Xander thought for a minute. "Well, there was this big portal created in the Hyperion a little under two years ago. Cordy sent me an email about it, after Dead Boy's son..." He stopped as he saw the alien Angel's face.

"My...son?" the undead guy asked. "Vampires can't have children!"

Xander sighed. "So, no Connor in your little bit of the universe? Look, just forget all I said. Let's just go back to the this is a wacky, wacky dream idea..." But before anyone could say anything else, the sound of running footsteps was heard.

Xander spun around. "Damn it. They know we're here!" He aimed his P90 at the rushing troopers, and opened fire. "Give me some cover for a minute!" he told D'Amata.

He turned back to the portal to see Angel looking ready to fight, and Cordelia holding a long sword. They looked very ready for battle. "Ah, I'm not even going to ask about how you got the sword so quick..."

Xander didn't notice D'Amata look back, when he mentioned the word sword.

"But I have to close this portal now, or else they could come after you." He lifted his arm and checked the white wristband. It had a series of fourteen numbers on it; 59418493728438.

Before he hit the button to close it, Xander looked over to the still softly crying Cordelia.

"Look, I know this must be hard for you, but I'm sure your Xander knew that you did what was all for the best. You must have loved him very much, and I'm betting he loved you the same. I'm sorry, but I have to go." So saying, he hit the button.

As the portal started to shrink Cordelia screamed at him, "No, wait!"

D'Amata glanced over at him, while he changed a clip in his P90. "You okay?"

"Doesn't really matter anymore, does it?" Xander answered him with a shrug, as he opened fire at the enemy.


The realm of the Powers That Be

"What in God's name?" George Bush asked, as he looked around. "Do you see this also, General?"

"Yes, sir." Hammond told him. "I see plenty of white."

"The Asgard?"

"Those little grey guys? Nope, not this time," a British voice answered.

The President and the General watched, as Metatron appeared. Hammond immediately got in front of the President. "Who are you? And why are we here?"

Metatron just sighed. "No time for twenty questions, George. Let me just get to the point. I needed to talk to Junior there, and you my dear general are only here to keep him from thinking he's gone nuts."

Bush stepped forward. "What do you want with me?"

"Well, sir, my name is Metatron. And don't ask, you've never heard of me. Now my boss and I were discussing the matter of Xander Harris. You know what he was told about that time travel business?"


"Good. Didn't need the headache of re-explaining it all again. Here's the deal. If Harris does his bit for king and country, and kicks the bucket in the process — we might be able to do something about it."

"But Alexander Harris is already dead," Hammond said in confusion.

Metatron held up his hand to silence Hammond. "Just because a light changes from green to red, mac, doesn't mean someone's dead...yet. Look, it's real simple. If he wins, and dies...don't declare him dead for a week or so."

"Why?" asked the President.

"There's something in the pipeline. And if we can work something out, we will. But in the meantime could you have the CIA, FBI, or whoever the heck does it now, make up two fake birth certificates? Twin girls. Born to Alexander Harris and Cordelia Chase. She'll be needing them." He waved his hand, and in a flash the two humans were back at the SGC.

Bush turned to Hammond, "Am I-"

"No sir, you are not going crazy."


Assembly base

D'Amata and three Marines took turns firing, as they went through the corridors. "Take a left!" Melissa called out, as she read her scanner, and they soon came to a set of large cargo doors.

Xander moved the switch on the side, how they'd discovered a few doors ago. Then they rushed through, as soon as the doors started to open. They found themselves in a small part of another corridor only a few feet wide, with another set of large doors at the end.

Everyone raised their weapons, as the doors opened on their own. When they saw what was waiting for them, Xander sighed. "I guess this is the trap part..."

On account of the over 65 enemy troopers that had their weapons pointed right at them.

Chapter 6

The vampire turned to his sire. "We're ready, Master."

The Master smiled, as he watched Xander and the Marines being led into the cave at gunpoint. "Do not attack any of them, until I say so."

"But Master, the two females look so appetizing," another vampire said.

In one fluid motion the Master jabbed a wooden stake into the vampire's heart, and he exploded to dust. "Anyone else want to question my orders?" he looked around. "Anyone?"

The vampire army all remained silent.



Xander's eyes were drawn to the spinning object, at the rear of the large cave. He could see the white ripples of energy coming from it, and sighed. "The magnifier..."

A woman's voice answered in a Southern accent, "Well, honey, of course it is..."

Xander and the others turned, and were very surprised at what they saw; a six foot-something blonde woman in her 20's, with lightly tanned skin. Plus she wore black skin-tight leather pants and almost only a black strap around her breasts, that didn't leave much to the imagination.

The woman radiated sex and power like a supernova, and almost every man in the cave could feel it.

Any other time, Xander realized he would be drooling. But amazingly enough he was too focused on the mission, and his impending death at the moment. "Who are you?" he demanded.

The woman came up to him. She simply smiled, as she reached out and ran her fingers over his face. "Let me say first that I knew you were attractive, Mr. Harris. I've seen your file, but you look so much better in person..."

Xander pushed her hand away, shaking his head. "Oh, just great. I get an Inca mummy girl, a preying mantis lady, a psychotic Slayer, and now a villain from a Bond film wanting me. Can you say, surreal?"

The woman just smiled at him. "I'm more than just a common villain, Mr. Harris, much more. You can call me Sonya."

Xander smirked at her, as he glanced at all the weapons pointed at him. "Okay — hello, Sonya. My name is Xander Harris, and I'll be the one kicking your ass today!"

Sonya just pouted. "Oh, come on! Don't say you're not tempted — and it would be such fun..." She let out a large grin. "The things I could do to you..."

The evil creature eventually trailed off, when she noticed his annoyed face. "All right, fine. If you want, we can take Ms. Chase with us! I could always use another pet..."

Xander got angry with that and moved towards her, but two troopers pushed him back.

Sonya smiled. "Before we move on to the more fun details, I have to ask you some questions. For instance, how'd you know about the attack? The Prometheus was supposed to be destroyed in its hangar..."

Rebecca smiled. "Giving you a bit of trouble, is it? Ah, what a shame..."

"It's nothing we can't handle, little girl!" Sonya snapped at her, before seductively turning back to Xander. "And how, exactly, were you planning to do anything to my ass given how you're vastly outnumbered, and we have all your weapons?"

Before Xander could answer, a loud growl made them all turn. And out of the shadows, charged several dozen vampires.

The Assembly troopers opened fire immediately; and while they were distracted, D'Amata and the Marines jumped their guards. Xander hit Sonya with a right hook to her face, sending her down in surprise.

"Those rocks over there!" D'Amata yelled as they ran for cover, exchanging gunfire with the troopers not fighting the vamps.

"Friends of yours?" the ex-member of SG-2 asked, as he looked out at the undead army.

"No," Xander snapped, while he shot a trooper. "I have no clue what the hell is going on here!"


Sonya got up slowly, as her guards flanked her. She wiped the small trickle of blood away, from where Xander hit her. The Assembly officer then grinned, as she saw the red fluid on the back of her hand. "Ah, so he likes it rough. Well, I can handle that!"


Xander and D'Amata crouched down with Rebecca and Melissa, as the Marines kept firing at the troopers. "Anyone got any ideas?" D'Amata asked. "We don't have that much ammo left to take out the Star Wars rejects, let alone the vampires..."

Melissa reached into her pocket. "Oh, I have this..." she pulled out a small hand grenade.

"You were carrying a grenade in your pocket?" a surprised Xander asked her.

Her face went pale. "That's what this thing is?" She quickly tossed it to Xander. "Can we use it now?"

Xander grinned at her. "You betcha..."

He looked over at Sonya, who was single-handedly fighting off and staking several vampires with ease. It almost looked like she was dancing. The former Zeppo then looked over at the troopers; a few took some shots at him, as he stared their way.

Xander quickly pulled the pin, and held down the trigger. "Fire in the hole!" he called to his own people.

"What does that mean?" Melissa asked in surprise, before Rebecca pulled her down.

Xander lobbed the grenade over the rocks, into the large group of Assembly troops. It exploded before anyone could react; and the sound was absolutely deafening. Several troopers went flying, and a few bodies landed near the Marines.

"Hit 'em while they're out of it!" Xander ordered, and everyone got up and started shooting at the wounded soldiers. A dozen enemies still standing were cut down in a deadly rain of bullets.

D'Amata grinned to Melissa. "Got anything else in your pockets?"


Amy Madison walked carefully out of the Summers house. She had gone there the day before, to see if they knew what the hell was going on. But she'd found no one.

Then the fun had begun, and Amy was smart enough to know after all these years that tempting Fate by staying on the Hellmouth after the Slayer had left, was not a bright idea.

She stayed close to the houses, trying not to be spotted by the weird jets, or the black-covered troops that were everywhere. <I have got to get to out of town,> she thought to herself. <It's the only shot I have. Man, where's a damn Slayer when you need one?>


Xander looked from the cover of the rocks. The battle with the troopers had gone better than he'd thought it would; Sonya and the few Assembly troops left had taken off down a side tunnel. <Figures she was all talk,> he thought to himself.

"Human! Come out."

D'Amata glanced over at him. "The bloodsucker is calling you out?"

Xander shrugged. "Funny thing about vampires. Even if you have them totally beaten, they'll still threaten you. My guess is he'll say something about eating my insides."

"You can't be serious!"

Xander smiled at him. "Care to put ten bucks on it?"

D'Amata shrugged. "Sure."

They both stood, but kept behind the rock pile. "You got a name, vampire, or should I just call you Fang Face?" Xander yelled out.

The Master vampire smiled. "Ah, yes, you must be Harris. I've heard you used to roam around my town, with the Slayer."

"Your town?" Xander mocked. "Oh, you must be Argus. The latest Big Bad, that claimed Sunnydale as his own little Vamp-topia!"

"The Hellmouth is and always will be mine, blood-bag."

"Oh, please! The only vampire I was ever really afraid of when he said that, was the Master himself. And he got his butt stuck underground for 60 years! I'm betting Buffy takes you out in about four — no, make that three months..."

Argus growled. "Human. You will die slowly, when I decide to end your pitiful life! And then, I will feast on your heart..."

D'Amata groaned. "Thanks a lot, vamp face! Now I owe him ten bucks. 'I want to eat your heart.' How the hell is that a great threat?"

Argus shook his head. "Both your times will come, but not today." He turned, and started to leave through the tunnel he'd come from. His remaining vampires silently followed him.

"That's it?" Xander was shocked. "You attack the bad guys, and then just leave?"

Argus turned back. "Why waste any more of my people, now that the good old U.S. military is here? You will do the job of disposing of these others for me."

Xander watched him leave. "You gotta love this town..."

A voice called to him, "Yes, well, too bad this town will be in flames soon."

Xander spun around, to see who the new voice belonged to. And when he saw him, his face twisted in rage.

"Well, now — hello there, my old friend," the White Suit Man said in a jolly tone. "How have you been doing lately?"


Unknown Island

Metatron watched, as the woman he was with danced from flower to flower, smelling them. "You know, you do have to keep up with the times. It's almost 2005, and your hairstyle is very early '90s."

The woman looked up at him, annoyed.

He frowned back at her. "I am not trying to avoid the subject. It's just that it hasn't been done, in a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean a very long time. It's not exactly easy to do either, you know. You can't just snap your fingers, and make it so...well, all right, you can snap your fingers, but..."

The brunette woman giggled, as she put her finger to his lips silencing him. She looked him in the eyes for a few moments, saying nothing.

"Okay, fine, we'll do it your way," Metatron told her with a sigh. "But if it gets out what we did, do you know how many crybabies we'll get up there demanding we do it for them too?"

The woman just smiled and picked up a seashell off the beach, and began to play with it.

He shook his head. "Why do I ever bother to argue with you? But just for the bleeding record, I am not getting stuck with the paperwork on this one..."


Xander jumped over the edge of the rock pile, and stood facing the White Suit Man. D'Amata and Melissa ran after him, as Rebecca and the Marines were left behind.

"Xander, hold up!" Melissa called to him.

The White Suit Man smiled at him. "I gather you know of me, Mr. Harris."

Xander growled at him, "It's Captain Harris. And yeah, I was shown your picture," he said in a flat, lifeless tone.

"Oh? And by who, if I may ask? I just need to know who I have to slowly kill later, you see..."

"Oh, please. I swear, you boys are just no fun..."

They all turned to see Sonya, with a few more troopers with her. Two of the troops held a large circular mirror.

The man stepped towards her. "Sonya, what are you doing? This is my battle, not yours. I'll kill this insect myself, so go-"

Sonya laughed, interrupting him. "Kill him? Why? We just need to get rid of him. If he finds his way back here later..." she licked her lips, in a lustful way. "I'm sure I can find something for him to do, to amuse me. But for now..." she nodded to the troopers holding the mirror.

"Sonya, no!"

But it was too late. The mirror had been placed on the outskirts of the magnifier's energy; it connected, and sent a stream of energy right at them. And as soon as it hit the four of them, they were gone.


Parallel Dimension Number 65893254189465

a.k.a. The Wandererverse

June 2nd 1998, 2:37 pm

Hammersmith Park, Sunnydale California


Steve, Amy, Willow, and Buffy looked on, as Cordelia angrily threw her purse onto the picnic table. "This is unbelievable..."

"What's got you so upset, Cordy?" Buffy asked, already guessing the answer.

Cordelia growled, as she sat down. "He just makes me so mad! He's lying to me now..." She looked to Willow. "How can you not be mad?"

Willow frowned, "Mad about what?"

"Xander and Oz! They went out on patrol last night!"

"What? I thought they went to a movie...didn't they?"

Cordelia shook her head. "No. I asked Xander how the movie was, and he told me they went to a different movie than what he said last night. So I made him tell me the truth."

Amy interrupted her, "You mean, you threatened to kick him out of your bed for a few days," she said with a smile.

"Whatever, the point is they said they got two vamps last night. Only two. They almost died for only two damn vampires!" Cordelia snarled. "This has got to stop. They're just a couple of normal guys, for Goddess's sake..."

Steve spoke up, "Well, you know that they've been just normal guys since the start, and they seem to do okay..." the Immortal demon hunter quickly stopped talking, when he saw all the girls glaring at him.

Cordelia spoke a little softer, "I am not going to lose Xander, because he has this insane desire to play Rambo. If that happened, I would have Artemis bring him down from Olympus so I could kick his ass!"

"Steve," Buffy said to the man. "You don't understand. Xander has always taken this way too seriously. He's been taking way too many risks...oh, no, not now!"

They all followed her look, and saw a pack of nine Mohra demons running at them. Steve and Buffy had their swords out in no time, and got prepared for battle.

"Mohra demons. Shatter the crystal in their foreheads! And don't touch their blood!" Steve called out. They spread out, and started to attack the bad guys as soon as they came near.


"Which way did that piece of crap go?" Xander asked, looking around for the White Suit Man.

D'Amata looked around. "We lost him by the entrance. You sure we're still in Sunnydale?"

Xander kept looking around the fairly deserted park. "Yeah, but we're in another dimension. Heck, I'd love to go exploring, but we don't have..."

"Do you guys hear that?" Melissa asked them.

They listened, and heard it too. The sounds of a fight, not too far from them.

"Come on!" Xander called, as he ran towards the sounds.


Cordelia ducked, as the demon tried to take her head off. She nailed it with a roundhouse kick, "Boy, did you idiots pick the wrong time to ever mess with me!" she punched it as hard as she could, shattering the crystal. It vanished in a flash of light. "Now, who's next!?"

Before she got her next attacker, she heard Willow curse. "Cordy, look!"

Cordy sprinted over to the man that she thought shared her bed, "Keep back, Dweeb Boy! We'll have these guys taken care of in a minute..."

Xander just look at her for a second. "You're fighting these guys?" he asked, surprised. "Sorry Cor, but we can't let you have all the fun..."

The USAF officer turned to the two people with him. "You guys ready for some mayhem?"

She grabbed his arm. "Xander! I said stay out of this, or else you will be very lonely tonight. I mean it!"

He smiled at her. "Sorry, Cor. Look, don't be too hard on your Xander because of me..."

Cordelia frowned. "My Xander?" Then she saw it. This version of her boyfriend looked older, and slightly more built. Her grip got tighter. "Who are you?" she demanded.

"Cordy!" Amy called. "We could use some help here!"

Xander shook her off, and nodded to his two friends. "You heard the lady, guys, let's go kill something. But hold off on your ammo; we might need it back home. Just take out the crystal things on their heads. And no green blood on you..."


Buffy brought up her sword to block the demon's thrust, but it didn't come. Buffy looked on in shock, as the Mohra demon stood frozen in place. It tried to move, but couldn't. Then a brunette woman, only a few years older than her, came up behind it.

"Oh, nice sword," she told the demon. "It's not doing the cool glowing thing like hers, but it's still pretty neat. Do you mind?"

The girl took the sword, and swung the hilt of it full force into the demon's crystal, shattering it. After it vanished, she smiled at Buffy. "Hi, you must be the Slayer."

"Ah, yeah..."

The girl smiled. "Cool. Nice to meet you. Or one version of you, that isn't a total dumbass," Melissa said laughingly, before she started to fight with another demon.

D'Amata blasted two demons, with the blaster he had gotten from one of the stormtroopers. <No need to save ammo with this baby.>

Steve quickly destroyed their crystals. "Who are you?"

D'Amata ginned. "Sorry, that's classified..." Suddenly, D'Amata and Steve both stiffened. "Man, I never felt it like that before!"

Steve shattered another crystal. "The buzz was weird, yeah. You're an Immortal? So why didn't I feel you, till you looked at me?"

D'Amata got into a defensive stance. "No idea. Look, pal, I don't have time to get into the Game with you right now..."

"Hey, I don't play the Game. Never will. It's all a fraud, anyway."

D'Amata shot another demon in the head, killing it. "Okay. Then we're cool."

Xander ran at the demon that Willow was facing. "Hang on, Willow!"

Before she could react, Xander was halfway through a flip over the demon. He grabbed its head in mid-flip and threw him into a tree, knocking it out. He moved hardly a second after he landed, crushing the crystal with his boot.

Willow was stunned. "Xander! How did you-"

He didn't answer, but just went for the last demon. It growled at him, "You will die for this, human!" before pulling out its sword.

Xander smirked. "So, we're supposed to just let you kill us?"

"Xander!" Cordelia yelled, concerned, but Steve held her back as he had a funny feeling about all this.

Melissa came up to him, "Xander, catch!"

They all watched, as she tossed the captured sword to him. The man caught it, and smiled to the demon. "Y'know, ordinarily I'd say first blood, but since there's no telling what yours would do to me, let's skip that part..."

The demon roared and attacked. Steve, Buffy and the three Slayerettes watched as Xander started to sword-fight with the demon. He was good.

Steve watched, shocked. "He's almost as good as Duncan..."

Suddenly, the demon froze in place. Xander got annoyed. "Melissa! I can take him, you know!"

The girl smiled. "Sure I know, but can you do it without cutting him and maybe getting his blood on you?"

Xander looked put out. "Well, no, but...ah, damn it!" He walked over and smashed the crystal, walking away as the demon vanished.

The guy patted Xander on the back. "Not bad, Captain..."

Buffy looked at Xander in shock. "Captain?!"

Cordelia came face to face with the guy she was now very suspicious of. "Where's my Xander? Talk now!" she growled at him.

Xander was slightly surprised. "Man, you are a little more forceful than my Cordy when we were in high school!" He looked at her face, "I mean, you are still in school, right?"

"We are, but summer break just started," Willow told him.

Xander looked at her, trying to gauge her age. "The summer between junior and senior year?"


Xander got confused. "But Buffy's here! It's summer, and Buffy is definitely here!"

"Yeah, well, why wouldn't I be here?" Buffy demanded, confused.

Xander looked on, shocked, as Giles and Ms. Calendar run up to them. Giles was panting, "Buffy, there's a pack of demons in the area..."

"A little late there, Giles," Buffy sighed. <Why is Xander so scared all of a sudden?>

Xander slowly backed away from Ms. Calendar. Melissa looked at him, "What is it?"

"Remember the teacher I told you about, that was with us for a while?"

"Oh, you mean the one that Angel..." Shock quickly came to her face as well. "That's her?"

Xander nodded. "Either she's alive again somehow, or she's like another fake by the First Evil or something..."

Giles looked towards him in shock. "Xander, did — did you say the First Evil? How the devil could you have heard of..."

He stopped, when the sound of clapping was heard. They all looked at the source, but only Xander, Melissa, and D'Amata recognized him. The White Suit Man.

"Bravo, my old adversary, bravo! I always love watching the good guys win — well, at least, when I'm not the bad guy."

Steve flashed his sword. "Who are you?"

The man ignored him. "Get lost, you fool. My business is with this man, and him alone. Isn't it, Harris?"

Cordelia spoke on reflex, "You'll have to go through me first to get him, you bastard!"

The Assembly officer smiled. "Now that's what I really miss, you know. Your wife jumping in to defend you, or you her. Kind of gets me all misty and sentimental..."

Cordy was shocked, but part of her couldn't help feeling a warm tingly sensation as well. "Did you say wife? We're married?"

Xander ignored that and moved to the front, his hands beginning to glow. "You're going to die."

"Please, Harris, before I kill you again, I really want to know how you knew. Who told you?"

Xander kept moving. "You mean, how I know that I beat your ass for nine years, and pushed your Assembly back to the hell it came from?"

The White Suit Man smiled. "That's always been a neat trick you have there, my friend. You want to see another?" He raised his own hands, and they glowed blue.

Xander moved back in shock, "How the-?"

"You and your Horsemen only have pieces of that crystal. I found another, a few years back." He launched a fist at Xander, and before the man knew what had hit him he flew back several feet and nailed a tree.

"Did that hurt you? So sorry. Now, who told you?"

Xander wiped the blood coming from his mouth. "You mean who told me about how you came back and slaughtered all my family and friends, while I was on a mission? That what you want to know?" He did a spinning kick and nailed the White Suit Man in the stomach, sending him flying.

The man slowly picked himself up. "How did you..." His eyes widened. "Oh, of course! That little bitch! Your pet Slayer's damnable daughter? I figured she'd have just constantly wet her pants, rather than doing anyone any good..."

"Well, Alexis is full of surprises. You should've known that. Even with just one Slayerette left, that's still more than enough to kick your lame ass!"

They started fighting, using the powers of the crystal fragments. Punches and kicks flew, almost too fast for the eye to see. "Well, so what if I didn't have time to kill that idiot werewolf? Since he hadn't been one of you for so long..." the White Suit Man laughed.

Xander grabbed his arm, and flipped him to the ground. "You missed two of us, asshole. No wonder you lost the last time..."

On the sidelines, two people spoke quietly.

"Daughter?" Buffy asked in amazement.

"Oz?" Willow asked her back, in hurt and confusion.

The White Suit Man quickly kicked Xander's legs out from under him. Fortunately, the white hat moved his cranium a split second before a fist shattered the sidewalk. Xander shot out his left leg, and nailed his enemy in the head. But he recovered fast, and soon they were both holding each other's glowing hands, and glaring at each other.

"You should have seen her, Harris. Your wife, your dearly beloved Cordy. She only had a sword against my men, but still she faced us knowing that she was going to die. Well, but I shouldn't have expected anything less from your woman, should I?"

Cordelia didn't know what to think, hearing about one version of her future upcoming death.

Seemingly defying gravity, Xander jumped up with both feet and smashed them into the man's chest. It sent him crashing into the picnic table, shattering it. Xander got up, just in time to be smashed in the face by a piece of the table thrown at him.

He fell, bloodied, back to the ground. The White Suit Man moved in a blur, and pulled Xander up by his neck. "You disappoint me, Harris. This is just too easy! I guess I'm just used to fighting you with a little more experience under your belt..." He threw Xander a few feet to the ground. "Oh, well..."

Xander wiped the blood from his eyes, to see the Assembly officer running straight at him. He was too stunned to move out of the way, or defend himself as the glowing hands moved towards him.

"We have to help him!" Cordelia shrieked.

Melissa concentrated with all her will, as she hadn't had the chance to work on many inanimate objects yet. They all watched, as part of the destroyed metal frame of the picnic table flew towards the two combatants.

The White Suit Man had Xander by the throat, and he was strangling the life out of him. "I could have waited an eternity for this, you know. But at last, it's over..."

Then his eyes flashed in shock, as he jerked suddenly. The human/demon hybrid followed Xander's eyes, down to his chest. Where a long jagged steel pipe was impaling him, all the way through.

The White Suit Man had just enough strength to give Xander one more look of pure hate, before he collapsed dead to the ground.

The others came over, as Xander rolled the body off of him. Steve asked, "Are you okay?"

But Xander didn't pay him any attention; he just kicked the dead body. "That's for the Scooby Gang!" Another kick. "That's for the Fang Gang!" Another. "That's for Alexis!" And another. "And this one's just for the hell of it, since I can't get to the Powers That Be!"

Cordelia watched with more than a little jealousy, as Melissa hugged Xander. "You okay, Xander?"

He shook his head. "No, but at least I got to kill that thing before I have to die..."

"Die?" Jenny asked, completely shocked and confused.

"Yeah. Look, long story, but we're not from around here. Our dimension is being invaded. And I'm the only one who can stop it. Of course, it's gonna kill me, but at least I got to say goodbye to my Cordelia..."

He sighed and turned to D'Amata. "Open the portal, let's go home."

"Yes, sir..."

Steve looked at him. "Xander, why did he call you Captain?"

Xander smiled and put out his hand. "Captain Alexander Harris, United States Air Force. Demon Command, Alpha Team leader. Code-named the 'Four Horsemen'. Nice to meet you, Mr.-?"

Willow frowned. "Xander, it's Steve!"

"Never met you before today...Steve. Uh, are you a Slayerette here? Or maybe the new Watcher, instead of Wesley?"

Buffy got confused. "Xander, you don't know Steve?"


"The big fight in the school gym months ago? Going to Fragnar's birthday party? This ringing any bells?"

Xander shook his head. "Sorry. Um, maybe he came later, after I left Sunnydale..."

Cordelia was shocked. "You left Sunnydale?"

"Hey, you left years before I did!" But Xander's annoyance vanished when he saw her shocked face. "Sorry, keep forgetting you're not my Cordy," he apologized. "But what I want to know, is how the hell you three got so good at fighting? You had a hell of a grip back there, Cor."

It was Amy's turn to frown. "We're Amazons now. Is none of this familiar to you?"

Xander, Melissa, and D'Amata were surprised. "Amazons!? Amy, have you been watching too much Xena lately?"

Cordelia was taken back. "We're not Amazons where you come from?"

"No Amazons, no Steve, and no glowing swords either. If this is 1998, right about now Willow, Oz, Cordy and I were lamely fighting the vamps, while Buffy was missing in action for the summer," Xander told them.

"Why would I be missing?" Buffy asked, a little shocked.

Xander shrugged. "After the entire thing with sending Angel to Hell with his soul restored, guess you didn't want to hang around. Plus Snyder had expelled you, and what with the big blowup about your mom finding out that you were the Slayer..."

Steve put his arms around Buffy, to keep her from falling to her knees. " his soul back?"

"Yeah, and he ended up in a hell dimension for about 100 years before the Powers brought him back. You had no choice, you had to do it," he tried to calm his blonde friend. "Believe me thou. And, you were not the only one with the screwed-up relationships back then. After the big breakup of Cordy and me...well, we all had a pretty crappy year."

Cordelia was shaking inside, more than she would have liked to admit. "We — we broke up?"

Xander looked at her sadly. "Yeah, that was years ago for me, but I gotta admit it. It was all a stupid mistake on my part. The crazy things you do, when you're sure you're about to die..." He shook his head.

D'Amata nudged him. "Sir, the portal's ready."

Xander smiled to Melissa. "Come on, let's go save the world..."

She smiled back. "I'll bet you say that to all the girls..."

The three walked calmly to the portal, but at the last moment Xander turned back. "Hey, Amy? Some free advice. Don't ever turn yourself into a rat, to escape being burned at the stake. 'Cause it took Willow a hell of a long time to change you back..." And with that, they left through the portal.

Steve went over to the White Suit Man's body. "Come on, Giles. Let's get rid of this thing, before someone sees it..." He stopped, when he noticed something.

"What is it, Steve?" Giles asked him.

"This wristband. It has coordinates on it."

"Coordinates for what?"

"I don't know, but I don't want to try it till we know for sure," Steve told them.

Amy shook off the shock at what Xander had told her, and looked at the others. "I know it's kinda a bad time to ask and all, but are we still Bronzin' it tonight?"

Cordelia spoke softly, as she picked her purse from the ground. "No, I have to go find Xander. I'm going to make damn sure that whatever happened to that Xander and me, doesn't happen here..."

Willow nodded. "I better go see Oz."

"And I have a reversal spell to look up. Just in case, I'll post it on Steve's fridge," Amy said, as she watched her Amazon sisters leave.


Rebecca looked up, as the portal opened. All the Marines that were not guarding the doors, quickly took aim.

"Whoa, we come in peace!" D'Amata said, as he came through.

"What the hell happened to you, Xander?" the female USAF officer demanded, as the others stood down.

"Take it easy, Rebecca. We just met some other-dimensional doubles of my old friends, and fought some demons. No big deal," Xander told her, grinning.

"Don't forget to mention the part where you went all Mortal Kombat on that one guy," D'Amata told him.

Rebecca looked to Xander. "The guy in the white suit?"

"Yeah. And now he's dead," Melissa answered in satisfaction. "Deader than dead."

"Where did everyone go?" Xander asked, as he looked around the empty room.

Rebecca shrugged. "They just took off."

"The enemy just hit the road here?!" Xander asked, not believing.

"Yeah, and they left us alone with that thing, which we can't get close to," she motioned to the magnifier. "Who knows where it would send us..." the lieutenant watched, as Xander stood a tad straighter.

"I guess that's my cue..." the former Zeppo sighed.

D'Amata and the Marines formed a protective semi-circle around them, and Melissa hugged him with all she had left. As they broke the hug she whispered, "Thank you for everything. I don't know where I'd be right now, if you hadn't helped me. Probably, stuck back in that mental ward..." She kissed him on the cheek.

Xander looked at her warmly. "Hey, you helped me too!" He looked at Rebecca. "Both of you did. It'd been a while, since I had a place that felt like home..."

Rebecca looked at him, with tears forming in her eyes. "Every home should have a big brother. I have three by blood, and now...I have another."

Xander smiled, in angst and pain. "I, uh, don't know what to say..."

She just moved in, and hugged both him and Melissa. "That promise that Gavin made you...we're going to keep it. Cordelia will raise your kids, if we have to bring the Powers That Be down ourselves. No matter how long it takes!"

They held the hug for a few more moments, before Xander moved forward. Giving them one last look he told them grimly, "Stay back..."

He raised his arm, and the blue shield slowly came out. It extended down to his feet, and slightly over his head. Xander then slowly started to walk over to the magnifier.

The white swirling energy had seemed to lack any substance when it had hit him earlier, but now it nearly pressed him back. It was like he was being hit with a firehose, at full blast and point-blank range. The man had to use his other hand, to brace the arm with the shield.

<It's pushing me back, but I should be able to get to it fairly easily. So why the hell would they just leave us here alone with this thing?> Xander suddenly thought with a suspicious mind.

Melissa and Rebecca shielded their eyes, as they watched the man wade through the swirling energy to get to the platform. They could only make out the upper part of his body now, because the energy was so bright.

<Come on, I can do this,> Xander thought, as he kept trying the method Beth had tried to teach him. <Just focus on nothing, but the shield. Just imaging its shape changing...>

He watched as the flat shield shrank one-fourth its length, and began to curve slightly. And as the shield curved more, it acted as a barrier to the energy. The magnifier energy couldn't penetrate the shield; but it acted like a lens, and blasted all the power towards the center of the room. <Damn it!>

"Okay, get as far back as you can!" Xander yelled to his teammates.

The young man could see his people running for the far wall. He then looked down, to see the shield now turning into a dome-shape, totally covering the device. Captain Harris could see the raw energy swirling around fiercely, under the blue energy dome.

<Right, now I just have to hold it here and in a few minutes it should feed back on itself. Of course, I have no idea what'll happen when...>

"OH, BLOODY HELLLLL!!" Xander screamed in incredible agony, when the pain started.


She looked down into the cave; the young woman had briefly thought she wouldn't get here in time. After all, it had taken a while to dust that damnable Master vampire. She'd had run the rest of the way to get here, and it looked like she had just made it in time.

Alexis Heyer looked around, for the backup Xander was sure to have brought along. She had to strain a bit to see them, but find them she eventually did.

A group of Marines were pressed up against the far wall, next to the doors leading back into the corridors of the Assembly base. The daughter of the Slayer smiled, when she saw who was with them.

<Aunts Melissa and Rebecca. God, they look so young! They look almost nothing like the women who helped me pick out my Prom dress...that I never got the chance to wear...>

Alexis looked back to Xander, and she could see it in his face. <He's already feeling it. Damn!> "Here goes nothing..." she whispered, as she jumped off the edge and down towards the ground.


"Who the hell is that!?" D'Amata yelled, as he aimed his gun.

Melissa and Rebecca looked, and stared in open-mouthed shock. A dark-haired woman was floating down, from the top of the cave. They looked at each other at once, and both had the same thought. <Alexis?>

Rebecca put her hand on D'Amata's weapon. "Hold your fire!"

They all watched as she glided down as easily as a bird would.

D'Amata frowned. "So, who's this chick? Supergirl?"


It took a lot of effort for Xander to move his head to see who was coming down on top of him. And if he'd had the energy to do it, he would have jumped in shock. "Alexis! What the hell?"

She landed gracefully, and ran over to him. "Sorry Uncle Xander, but I couldn't tell you all of it. You would have never gone through with the plan, never let me do this..."

"Do what?" Xander grimaced, as the pain kept increasing.

Alexis looked at him, like a little girl who'd gotten caught with her hands in the cookie jar. "Like I said before; you died in my arms. And..."

She held up her arm, and pulled down her shirtsleeve. Xander's watch was wrapped around her wrist. "...this thing came off, after you died. Guess I kind of inherited it from you."

Realization filled Xander with horror. "No! I won't let you take my place!"

"I know you wouldn't, Uncle," the woman said a little proudly. "But I'm not here for that."

"Then..." a wave of pain hit him. "God damn it!" he screamed.

She looked at him sadly. "Yeah, that's it right there. You don't have the power to do this, not by yourself. Never did. We both have to do it, together."

"No," Xander said weakly, though he tried to be firm and parental.

Alexis got determined. "Oh yes, Uncle. Keep in mind the big picture; 'cause you're already too weak. And I've had six years of practice with this." She moved next to him, and put her arm out. The energy from her watch stretched out, joining with his.

The shield grew even brighter. "Now for the bad part," she told him grimly, accepting death with a mental sigh.


Underneath their shield, the magnifier rocked wildly. The energy started to push out against the energy barrier. "Damn it, it's starting!"


Everyone watching from the back could see the pain in the faces of the two people on the platform. They watched as Xander buckled and fell to his knees, but he still kept his arm up.

Melissa started to move to go to him, when Rebecca grabbed her arm. "There's nothing you can do, remember?"

"So we're supposed to just sit here, and watch him suffer?" the young woman demanded.

"Yes. 'Cause that's all we can do," the female officer told her, as she kept her eyes on the platform.


Hyperion Hotel

Everyone watched, as the soldiers left. It had taken over an hour to get everyone's statements, but they all told them the same thing. "No, we didn't see where the blast had come from. We only saw the light."

Now, the only thing left to do was watch the carnage unfold on the TV. Most of the battle was taking place, inside the area covered by the Assembly's shield towers. Some had spilled over to the desert between LA and Sunnydale. Some parts of LA were already being evacuated, just in case.

"Those damn bastards!" Lee shouted.

Angel turned to him. "What!?"

"They got the Enterprise! It's on fire; they got it beached, but it's still on fire!"

Dawn looked confused. "We have an Enterprise? You mean, that flying ship on TV?"

Lee looked at her. "No, the USS Enterprise. The aircraft carrier!"

Dawn shrugged. "Oh! Sorry, I didn't know we had one of those..." she stopped, as she saw Cordelia in the back. "Cordelia?"

Angel and Fred looked back to where Dawn was looking. Cordelia was sitting by herself, shaking and crying.

"Cordy!" Angel ran to her. "What is it?"

The seer looked up at him, with tears in his eyes. "He's in pain. So much pain, they both are. I can see them, Angel, I can see them!"

Buffy sat down next to her. "Cordy, can you teleport there? Or send me or Angel?"

Cordelia shook her head slowly. "No. It's already too late..."

Buffy and Angel just looked at each other. They both knew there was nothing they could do now. Nothing at all.


They had been watching for the last seven minutes. And in that small amount of time, the military personnel had witnessed their new friend and boss change drastically.

As far as they could see, Xander was no longer the tall, dark-haired young man they'd known. His arms now looked like toothpicks, his skin was spotted, and his hair — what was left of it — was a light gray color. And Alexis looked much the same.

"Sweet Jesus..." one of the watching Marines whispered.

But it was working. The magnifier was slowing down. Barely four minutes later, it stopped spinning all together. Now the energy seemed to be all contained inside the magnifier.

"Is that it?" Melissa asked, not taking her eyes off of what was left of Xander Harris.

Rebecca started forward, and when she got to within a few feet she saw the old woman that was now Alexis look up in fear. "NO! Get out of here now!" she said hoarsely.


"Go, now! It's going to blow. Hurry!!"

D'Amata grabbed Rebecca by her uniform, and dragged her out the large set of doors they came in. Melissa ran out with the last of the Marines, just as D'Amata activated the door switch.

Only a few seconds had gone by, before they saw it. The light shown through the bottom of the door was brighter than the sun, during midday in the Gobi Desert. It nearly blinded them, even though it lasted for under twenty seconds.

D'Amata then took out a pair of dark sunglasses that covered his eyes completely, and put them on. "Wait here..."

He went back into to the cavern, but the Immortal somehow already knew what he would see. The magnifier was dark and lifeless, lying on its side, and there was no sign of the two people who'd been next to it.

All that was present now were two dark, burned, human-shaped outlines. There was literally nothing else left.


Hyperion Hotel

No one knew what to do. At the exact same moment Xander died, Cordelia and her new daughters had started to cry.

Angel just held onto Cordelia as she kept saying over and over, "He's gone, he's gone..."


Demon Command

Control Room

Everyone watched in the control room, as they stared at the video feed. The gigantic portal started to flicker. Then it started to dissolve, all along its length. Several technicians and other personnel yelled excitedly, as the portal quickly collapsed. Some even hugged each other.

Beth and April were not among those celebrating.

The computer program looked to her friend, and in an almost childlike voice she asked, "Do you think it was painful?"

Beth looked at her companion sadly, and nodded her head. They kept looking at each other, until Andrews came over. "Hey! We are only half-done here, people! Everyone back to your posts — we still have to deal with the enemy currently remaining on our national soil!"

A tech on another monitor called out. "General! There's an energy buildup underneath Sunnydale. I think it's that, uh, Hellmouth thing..."

"Put it on the main screen!"

The screen flashed, to show an overhead shot of Sunnydale. And the energy that the tech had guessed was from the Hellmouth had indeed changed.

Days ago in the first scans, it had resembled a spider web radiating outwards from the high school. But now, it was all concentrated under Sunnydale High.

O'Neill frowned. "Could the feedback from the magnifier thing have disrupted it all this bad? Could this thing be opening? 'Cause Harris said, that that would be a very bad thing..."

Beth shook her head. "It looks like it caused the Hellmouth energy to feed back on itself. Oh, thank God there are no kids in that school!"

"Why?" O'Neill asked, concerned.

Beth pointed to the screen. "It's building up way too fast for... what the-? April, give me an overhead shot of the school now!"

The screen flashed to the same picture, but with just a video filter. As they watched, the brand-new high school seemed to shake as if an earthquake was going on right underneath it. Which wasn't too far from the truth.

"This is not good..." Beth muttered.

The school's roof caved into itself, before a massive explosion ripped the building apart. A thick stream of energy shot out from the ruins and went straight up for over a mile, before it easily punched through the tower's shield barrier. The stream lasted for a full three minutes, before it petered out.

A lieutenant yelled, "Sir, it just missed the International Space Station! They're reporting it went off into deep space, on a random vector..."

O'Neill was in awe. "Please tell me that was recorded!"

April nodded "Yes sir, we got it all in full color. Plus the energy readings as well for the entire..." She stopped, as she started to check her readings.

"April?" Andrews asked her.

"Sir, the Hellmouth! It's gone!" She flipped the screen back, to the readings of the energy under the town. They could hardly see any abnormal energy present now.

Beth checked her own readings. "There's still some residual energy left, but it's less than six percent of what it was before..." she looked up in awe.

Andrews understood. "So the energy from the Hellmouth, all the stuff that attracted the demons to Sunnydale in the first place, is..."

"Gone, it's all gone," Beth said smiling. "Not only did Xander stop the portal...he closed the damn Hellmouth..."

"The towers!" April called out. "One just went down! It made a huge hole in the field..."

Andrews smiled. "Order everyone we have on standby to head over there! Take the rest of them out, with extreme prejudice!"

"They're already moving in, sir. Several reserve units already are at the town limits..."


Outskirts of Sunnydale

Wreckage of Shield Tower Three

The first instincts of the Marines were to pull the woman out of the area, but she wasn't moving.

"He's still under here!" the brunette called out, as she tossed the still-burning debris away.

"Who is?" one asked her.

"Agent Graham Miller! And he could still be alive! Now either help me, or get the hell out of my way!" Amy yelled at the grunts, before she went back to digging.

Chapter 7

Hyperion Hotel

"Will you please stop doing that?!"

Angel looked up from his pacing, to stare at Wesley. "I can't help it. I mean, I should be there!"

Wesley shook his head. "You tried twice, already. Angel, she isn't ready to talk about it. Those two girls are the only things helping her keep it together right now..."

"He's right 'bout that, mate," Spike said, as he lit a cigarette. "The bird just lost the bloke she 'ad kids with. It's not like a hug from good ol' Angel is gonna make it all go away!"

Dawn looked up, from where her friends Kit and Carlos were sitting. "Willow and Kristen are with her. We just need to give her some time." She then turned back to smack Carlos on the back, "And will you quit hitting on the potential Slayers?!"

The Slayers-in-waiting just giggled, as Carlos shot Dawn a dagger-like look.

Buffy came in from the office. "Any news?" Amanda asked her.

"Good and bad," she told them. "Most of the houses are pretty much intact, but yours and Lee's apartment building got nailed by some artillery. The top floors are toast, but the ground floor is okay. And the Magic Box, along with most of Main Street, is totaled."

Giles paled. "Bloody hell, not again!"

Buffy nodded. "Afraid so. And it looks like Xander did something else, besides closing the portal..."

Dawn looked to her sister. "What did he do?"

Buffy grinned. "He closed the Hellmouth."

Giles paled again. "Good Lord. It opened up, during all this?"

"No, it never opened, but the feedback Xander caused somehow drained all the Hellmouth energy. Right about now, it's got less energy output than Fresno!"

Giles started to wipe his glasses. "Now, uh, how exactly did Xander drain the energy from the Hellmouth?"

Buffy shrugged. "Don't know. April wouldn't say. She just said she got it all, on full color video. But, there is one other thing."

"What's that, luv?" Spike asked her.

"She said that we're all supposed to go to their ship, tonight. They're sending a bus for us all. And they want all of us, even the girls you brought, Giles."


Wolfram & Hart

Office of Lilah Morgan

Lilah looked up, as her office doors opened. "Who the hell are you?" she demanded.

The man smiled, as he sat in the chair opposite her and put his feet on the desk. "And a big hullo to you too, Ms. Morgan. Oh, by the way, you can stop pushing the little red button under your desk," Metatron told her. "And that little gun you have in your top drawer? Won't do you much good, either."

The lawyer tried, but she could not get her drawer open. "Right, fine. Color me impressed. Now, what do you want?"

"Well, basically, just to chat."

"Oh, great, a comedian. Will you just get to the point here?"

"Your problem, woman, is that apart from being a vicious bitch, you lost your sense of humor years ago. Oh well. Right then — you see, Ms. Morgan, I just wanted to tell you that some things have changed."

"Really?" the evil lawyer grinned. "What things?"

"For starters? The legal battle for the inheritance of the late David Chase, who died a little over four years ago," he grinned back at her.

Lilah leaned back, losing the smile. "That might be a case of ours, but I'd have to check to be sure. We do handle so many..."

Metatron chuckled. "Have to admit, I do love this part."

"The part that has you leaving, before I have you arrested for trespassing?" Lilah asked snidely.

"No, no. The part where I remind the smug little insects like you, who's really in charge around here..." He snapped his fingers, and they vanished from the office. Less than five minutes later, they reappeared.

Metatron was grinning, and Lilah's clothes were burned and smoking. "What was that place?" she asked, with a hint of fear in her voice.

"That, my dear, is where you're currently scheduled to spend the rest of eternity — after the whole mortal coil thing is over and done with."

"What!? That can't be right. My employers-"

Metatron looked annoyed. "Your employers, may they be forever cursed, don't ultimately determine who goes where. My boss does. And He might be inclined to lessen your visit there, if..." he trailed off.

"If what?"

Metatron went behind Lilah's desk, and sat in her chair. "Don't you worry about that. We've already informed your Senior Partners about our little requirements."

"And they listened to you?"

"When I told them what would happen if they didn't...well, actually, they just perked right up."

Lilah raised an eyebrow. "And out of curiosity, just what would have happened?"

The higher being leaned back, and smiled a huge grin. "The vampire Angel and the Powers That Be have been your main opponents, for a long time now. I just told them what would happen, if my boss focused all His energy to finally finish off every single contingent of this little firm. I mean, have you ever seen an ant hill get run over by a kid on a dirt bike?"

Lilah paled. "What do you want?"

"Well, where to begin. Let's see — first thing is, the young widow of Mr. David Chase just seemed to win the lottery up in San Francisco. So she's decided, out of the evilness of her heart, to drop the lawsuit against the other party of the will from getting the, what was it now? Oh yes, $43,000,000. And the mansion, not to mention the summer home. Now who was the only other person named in that will?"

He looked deep in thought. "I just can't recall her name..."

"Cordelia Chase," Lilah spat out in revulsion.

"Ah yes, his favorite niece. It's interesting, isn't it, that right after our girl in question found a job with an undead acquaintance in this city, her possible inheritance got all tied up in legal trouble. Don't you think so?"

"A damn shame," the lawyer growled. <I should have killed that little bitch when I had the opportunity...>

"Oh, yes — and before I forget, the second thing. It seems that Ms. Chase suddenly got herself a family. Well, she always was a goal-oriented girl, wasn't she? Let's just be clear on the fact that she and her children are completely off-limits to you and yours, from now on. Because, if they're bothered at all even by junk mail from this place...well, the shopping mall down the street is looking for space to add another parking lot."

Metatron gave her a deadly glare. "Are we clear on this?"

"Crystal," Lilah tried to whisper in great hatred.


Apartment of Cordelia Chase

8:47 pm

Kristen woke slowly from her nap. She stayed on the couch as she asked Willow, "Has she come out yet?"

Willow shook her head. "Except to go to the bathroom once, no."

"Did she say why she wanted your computer at least?"

"She said she was going to visit some baby name websites. I just hope she doesn't go into the My Pictures folder."

"Why?" Kristen asked, sitting up.

"I've got digital copies of over seven years' worth of photos in there. Including the ones she used to have of her and Xander in her locker, during high school."

Kristen winced, as Willow looked embarrassed. "I didn't remember, till she already had it set up..."

They then both looked up, at the knocking on the apartment door. And Willow was slightly surprised when she opened the door, and saw the two people who stood there. A guy and a girl, that both had on military uniforms. "Are you Willow Rosenberg?"

She nodded.

The man smiled. "I'm Gavin, and this is Melissa. We're here to pick you up."

Kristen came to the door, and recognized them both. "Pick us up?"

"We've been ordered to bring you two, along with Ms. Chase, back to the base. We'll be picking up your friends at the hotel, after we collect you guys."

Everyone turned, when Cordelia came into the room. "If this is to tell us Xander's dead, I already know," she said hollowly.

Gavin and Melissa just stared in shock at the baby in her arms. "We were told you got them, but how?" Gavin asked, in awe. "We thought we'd have to go after them ourselves! How'd you get them both away from the Powers? I mean, you did get both of them, right?"

Cordelia sighed. "Yes, I got both of them. Let's just say someone higher up than those assholes helped out."

"That Skip guy?"

Willow looked at them. "How do you...?"

"We'll explain on the bus, but please, can you five come with us? We're not entirely sure what's going on either."

Cordelia slowly nodded. "Fine, we'll go. I have to get his stuff from his room anyway. Help me get them bundled up..."


39 minutes later

Cordelia looked up, as Lorne climbed up into the large couch bus. "How are you doing, sweetcakes?" he asked her.

"Not good," the woman confessed to him. "Do you think I can sing to you later? 'Cause, it's like, I have no idea what to do now," she asked softly.

Lorne smiled. "Sure, honey." She smiled weakly back at him, as Lorne bent down and smiled at the baby in her arms. "Well, hi there, little angel. Remember me? I'm your Uncle Lorne, yes I am! Now I need you and your sister's help to look after your mom, okay?"

The baby giggled at him, before she burped in his face.

Cordelia looked at her with a small smile, a few tears coming down. "Yep, these are Xander's kids alright." She then turned and watched, as the rest of the gang started to pack into the long bus.

Angel came right to her. "Are you...?" he started to ask.

"I feel like crap, Angel," she completed the answer, before he'd finished the question.

The souled vamp put his hand on her shoulder. "Maybe you should move back into the hotel for a while."

Cordy looked to Kristen. "Kristen, could you...?"

Kristen nodded, and took the baby. She faced the child so she could see her sister, that Willow was holding. Willow's eyes then went wide, "Willow, what is it?" asked the Slayer.

The redhead had a slightly stunned look on her face. "I think she just stuck her tongue out at her sister!"

"Can she do that yet? No, she couldn't have..."

"Oh, trust me, you never saw their parents growing up. Sticking out a tongue would be the tamest thing they would do..."


In the very back of the bus away from everyone else, Cordelia and Angel were sitting by themselves. Angel had his arm wrapped around her, and she was not holding it together very well.

"...I mean, I always wondered if I should have given him another chance. I just figured that there was still plenty of time...Xander was like a — a security blanket. But now, knowing I was supposed to be with him all this time!?" she cried.

Cordelia looked ready to start weeping. "And to top it all off, I find out my big role in this damn mission to help the helpless wasn't even supposed to happen! Kate was supposed to be here, instead of me. She was supposed to end up your best friend!"

Angel looked at her. "You are my best friend, Cordy. No one else. Yeah, I've made mistakes in my life, but having you by my side was never one of them."

The new mother wiped her face. "Sure, you believe that now, but we both know the real truth here. And who was it who screwed up everything? The people I willingly almost died for! They didn't make me part demon to save my life, because they gave a damn. They did it, just so the brass upstairs wouldn't notice their screw-up!"

The vampire held her as she cried, and after a few minutes he asked, "Do you think we should tell the others everything you learned up there? About how you moved back to Sunnydale...?"

She looked up at him, and shook her head. "No, all they know is when I got pregnant with the girls. Not any of the rest of it. I just — I need time to get over all this. God, Angel, the story of my life I saw up there..." Cordelia seriously cried, as she leaned into her best friend.


Demon Command Dock

Everyone looked out at the massive cruise ship. The teenagers, mostly the Slayers-in-waiting, all looked on in awe. "He worked here?" Lori asked, amazed.

Gavin shrugged. "It's not bad."

"Not bad?!" Dawn shrieked. "We knew he was stationed on a ship, but this thing?"

Gavin waved them forward. "Come on everyone, to the covered escalator. We'll need you all to sign in when we get aboard."

As they went up the escalator, Dawn turned to Melissa. "What's the name of this ship, anyway?"

Melissa frowned, as she contemplated the question. "You know, I don't think we've actually gotten around to that part yet..."


Club Monaco

E Deck

The teenagers were still in awe of the place. For the most part, the ship still looked the same as it did when it was fitted out. All its lavish furnishings were still in place, and if the people who worked there had any say in it, it would stay like that.

"This is so cool!" Dawn exclaimed, as she looked around.

"Dawn. Sit down," Buffy ordered, as she saw the look on Cordelia's face. "We're not on a sight-seeing trip here."

Angel looked to Gavin. "Who are we waiting for?"

"The guy with the stars on his shoulders." At Angel's confused look, Gavin clarified, "General Andrews."

And as if on cue, Andrews came through the glass doors. And he was not alone.

"What the heck?" was all Willow could get out. Because coming in with Andrews were three Secret Service agents, and President George W. Bush.

Andrews went to Gavin. "Is everyone here?"

"Yes, sir."

"Look, if this is about Xander," Cordelia said grouchily from the table, "there's no need for any 'you have my deepest sympathies' crap. Because he's gone."

"He died serving his country, Ms. Chase," Bush said calmly. "Someday, when all of what happened is declassified...he'll be a national hero."

She just looked at him, annoyed and unimpressed by the national leader. "Well, whoopee! I'll be sure to tell my daughters that, when they ask me why they never knew their own father."

"Mr. President? You admitted to the public where the attack came from — granted, you couldn't really hide it, but you didn't mention how Xander knew of the attack in the first place. May I inquire-?" Wesley asked.

Melissa spoke up. "Ah, I can answer that. He was warned by an ally about when, and who, was going to attack. Just like he was told how he could close the portal."

"And just who was this ally?"

"I'm sorry, but she made us promise not to reveal that information."

"And why is that?"

"It's complicated, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce," Bush told him. "But her info, and Captain Harris's acts of bravery, among countless others, have saved this country. We lost a lot of good Americans during this whole business, and since she was one of them — I've decided to honor her request."

Bush looked back to where Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia were sitting. He pulled out two slips of paper. And as soon as he laid them on the table, Cordelia looked in shock. "Birth certificates?"

"Yes," Bush told her. "Admittedly, forged ones. But no one outside this room will ever know any differently. Your daughters were born to you and the late Captain Harris at 1:37 am, last Tuesday morning. Instead of going to a hospital, you chose to have a well-respected local midwife deliver the infants. Which were then checked out by the doctor here, at their father's base. All we need from you is their names, so we can make it all official."

A voice came from behind them all. "Pardon me for asking, but don't you think both parents should be in on that decision?"

All of them turned, to find Metatron leaning against the bar. In less time than it took them to turn, the Secret Service men had their guns out.

This just seemed to annoy the higher being. "Oy, please..." He waved his hand, turning the guns into plastic green water pistols.

"Um, what are you doing here?" Cordelia asked him, as she got up.

"Oh, I'm just doing what I told Junior here I would do."

She looked to Bush. "What's he talking about?"

The President kept looking at Metatron, in slight shock. "So, uh, I take it you've worked something out?"

"Oh, yes."

"What did you work out?" Cordelia demanded.

"Well, my dear, my boss has reasoned that since in the original timeline Mr. Harris and yourself got married and did the entire happily ever-after-thing with the munchkins..."

"What?!" Buffy shouted in surprise.

Metatron winced. "Oh. You didn't tell them about that part yet, huh?"

Cordelia shook her head.

"Sorry. But anyway, bottom line, he lived his life and did things that needed to be done. And so, several things in the future will be royally screwed if we keep him dead."

"But Xander's gone. I saw it all, in my vision. Even if he was still alive, he wouldn't be..."

Metatron held up his hands. "Yes, I know it drained him. But this isn't your standard resurrection like the Slayer got, that I'm talking about here."

Willow went very pale. "That was a standard version?" she asked in a shaky voice, as the witch looked at the others. "Am I the only one here who remembers the snake thing?"

"This," Metatron continued, ignoring that, "is the tricky part. We start with the standard reincarnation, but add a little twist."

Cordelia's legs went weak. She had to grab hold of the table to keep from falling. "A twist? You're saying you can bring him back?"

Everyone looked at Metatron, and he didn't like the attention. "Yes and no. His old body was all used up, and like you said...gone. So we'd have to give him a new one..."

Angel grabbed Cordy to help support her. "You mean he won't be the same Xander? He'll have a different body?" he asked.

"Yeah. He'll have a new body. But it'll look almost the same; no one except Ms. Chase would be able to tell the difference. And Nika over there also, I guess. "

"Why only them?" Dawn asked.

"Well, my little Key, they're the only ones out of all of you here who got what you'd call a real 'up close and personal' look at Mr. Harris' old body."

Almost every set of eyes in the room, especially the other Slayers-in-waiting, all looked at Nika — who was blushing deep red.

"What?!" Lori screeched.

Nika could barely speak. "It was only ever the one time..."

Molly, one of the potential Slayers, glanced at Cora. "Pay up!" Cora grumbled as she pulled out a few British pounds, handing them over to Molly.

"And what is all this about?" Giles asked them in amusement.

Molly grinned. "We just had a small bet going, sir."

Nika was horrified. "You bet that I slept with Xander Harris?!"

Molly smiled at her. "Well, you did look incredibly pleased with yourself when you returned to the dormitory that night..."

"Could we please get back on topic here!?" Cordelia yelled. She turned back to Metatron. "So you can bring him back to me?" she asked hopefully.

"Well, I can't, but my boss can."

"And just who is your superior, sir?" Wesley asked him.

"That's not important right now!" Cordelia snapped. "Look, yes or no — can you bring him back or what?!"

"Calm down, woman! Have a little patience, he's getting ready for this as we speak. Harris is just chatting a little with a few people right now, is all. Besides, it's not like we can just toss his soul in there, after slapping together a bag of flesh and bones," the higher being tried to calm her down.

Willow perked up. "And just who has he been chatting with?"

Metatron ticked off the names. "Jesse Richards, Tara Maclay, Joyce Summers, Jenny Calendar, Harmony Kendall, Allen Francis Doyle, Alonna Gunn, Larry Blaisdell, Forrest Gates, Anya Jenkins, Kendra, Faith, Kate and a bunch of other people..."

The room erupted, when almost everyone heard a name they knew. After the commotion died down a bit, he turned to Buffy and Willow. "And that reminds me! I need you two to stop hunting for Jonathan Levinson. There are some plans being made for him, and we kinda need him still breathing."

Willow frowned. "But he's a murderer!"

Metatron glared at her. "Do you really want to start this conversation with me, Ms. Rosenberg?"

The redhead shrunk back, and decided not to press her luck.

"Good. Now as the annoying giggling voice in my ears is telling me, we're finally ready. If you could all direct your attention to the corner over there..."

They all watched as a white light appeared, and started to grow stronger every second. Soon, it was almost too bright to look at.

"My God!" Bush quietly exclaimed, from behind his Secret Service people.

Metatron turned to him. "You don't know how close you are, Junior."

The shape of a man appeared in the middle of the light. It started to move towards them, as everyone in the room watched — waiting for their lost friend to come back to them.

When the man stepped out of the light, everyone frowned. They got a dark-haired young man, but just not the one they were waiting for.

"Well now, that was anticlimactic wasn't it?' Spike said smugly.

Cordelia was ticked. "You said he would look the same! He looks like a teenager, and that's not Xander!"

Metatron sighed, and turned to the newcomer. "You were supposed to come out second."

The teenager shrugged. "They told me to go, and when the guys with the wings tell you to do something? You do it." He turned to Cordelia. "Don't worry, he's right behind me."

"Then move the hell outta the way!" she yelled at him.

"Oh, right," the boy said, as he darted aside.

A second figure appeared, and started to come forward. Cordelia, Buffy, Willow, Dawn, and Kristen stood near each other and held hands. They watched as the figure came closer. They started to cry, when he stepped out of the light.

Xander Harris, version 2.0 found himself the recipient of the biggest hug he'd ever had. "Ah, guys. Need to breathe here?"

Willow looked hopeful. "Xander, is it really you?"

"Oh yeah, Wills, it's me."

Buffy smiled at him. "So, are you trying to top my act or what?"

"No, don't worry Buff. You still got one more resurrection on me..."

He looked at Cordelia, who was standing there looking at him. She wasn't moving, she was just looking at him. "Xander? Is it really you?" she asked softly.

"Yeah, Cor, it's really me."

What happened next shocked most in the room, but Xander knew what was coming and was waiting for it.

Cordelia slapped him. "Don't you EVER do that to me again, Xander Harris, do you hear me!?"

"I hear ya, Cordy."

"Well, good!" she said, before the young woman jumped on top of him, knocking him down to the floor. Cordelia then started to kiss him, for all she was worth.

Kristen looked at Angel, confused. "Why did she just slap him?"

Angel just smiled softly watching them, "Trust me. It would take forever to explain their relationship..."

Everyone looked up from the reunited couple, as soft giggling was heard. Standing next to Metatron, was a short woman with long dark hair. She was watching Xander and Cordy, with a large smile on her face.

"Ah, excuse me, young lady?" Wesley asked. "Who are you?"

She didn't respond, she just smiled at him and returned to watching the two people on the floor. She then pulled an envelope out of Metatron's jacket, and slid it in Xander's shirt pocket as they got up.

"Who are...?" Cordelia began, but Xander stopped her.

"Trust me, Cor, you don't want her to answer. On account of I like your beautiful head, and wouldn't want it to explode into little pieces here..."

She looked at him, very confused. Metatron leaned in and said, "Yeah, like he said, trust him on that. Besides, She has a lot of names. It all depends on who you ask about her."

Cordelia got confused again, but then she remembered her pervious conversation with Metatron. Her eyes went wide, "You mean, that's...?"

"Yes, it is."

"Oh, boy."

Buffy came up. "Who is she?"

Xander glanced at the woman, as she nodded her head. "Buffy? Uh, meet God."

Buffy's jaw dropped, and everyone was at a loss for words. Well, almost everyone.

"Oh, like hell! You 'ave got to be kidding me, mate. I mean, you got any proof?" Spike called out.

"Spike!" Dawn hissed.

God skipped over to Dawn, and smiled at her. "Ah, hi," was all the brunette girl could manage to get out.

Metatron came over to them. "She wants you to know that it doesn't matter how we come into existence, or when we arrived, but only what we do with the time we have. I think you know what She's getting at."

Dawn looked into the woman's eyes. "Yeah," she replied softly.

Then the brunette avatar looked to Angel. He couldn't help but squirm under her gaze. She took his hand, and the demon within felt a horrible burning sensation, at touching the holy presence.

The woman then pulled him over to the other side of the group. There she took Wesley's hand, and made them shake. All the people from Angel Investigations smiled at this. Cordelia felt a tear fall down her cheek, as she watched the two former friends really shake hands at last.

Metatron nodded to Angel. "There, now. That wasn't so hard, was it? And one more thing. Ms. Chase told you about who was originally supposed to be with you?"

"Yeah, Kate Lockley."

"Right, and now her destiny is really screwed up. It's going to take a while to get it all straightened out, but there is one thing my boss here wants you to know."

"What's that?"

"Something you always wondered about. You remember when Miss Kate had that little suicide episode?"

"Of course."

"Ever wondered how you got into her apartment to save her, without being invited?"

Angel was shocked. "You mean..."

God just nodded, and kissed Angel on the cheek. Again, the demon howled in agony, but the soul basked in a long-forgotten pleasure. Then the woman went skipping into the light — and the light faded, as she went into it.

"That was," Carlos said in awe.

"Oh, we're not done yet," Metatron said, as he walked up to the teenager who'd come out before Xander. "Everyone, please meet Alex Whitman. The late Alex Whitman of Roswell, New Mexico. Mr. President, he has some info on some friends of his that you should know about. So why don't you guys go have a nice chat?"

Alex, Bush, the three agents, and Andrews went to a booth in the far corner of the room. And as they left, Metatron turned to Cordelia, who was still holding onto Xander. "It's been a hell of a few weeks, hasn't it Cordelia?"

"Oh, I don't think any of us will ever forget 'em."

"Well, good. Now first off, it's Harris's new birthday. He is reborn and everything, after all. So we need to talk. Into this booth, please." He ushered her and Xander to a booth near them. The others crowded around, Angel and Wesley standing in front of the group.

"Cordelia Chase, a few years ago you thought that if you didn't get the visions, that your friends here wouldn't need you anymore. So tell me, do you still think they would only care about your visions?" he asked her.

Cordelia shook her head. "I know who my friends are, and I know I'm important to them more than just because I get the visions."

"Well, good. Because as of now, you no longer get them," he told her.

At the same time Cordelia and Angel shouted, "What?!"

Metatron looked her in the eyes. "You won't need them anymore, and what the hell — you weren't ever supposed to get them in the first place. And you know the others won't treat you any differently than before."

"But they're a huge part of who I am!" she yelled.

"Oh come on, we're all of us more than the sum of our parts! We've been reworking everyone's destines upstairs, you know, trying to get everything back on track. And this — well, this is just the start."

"Just the start?" Cordelia asked, shocked. "What else can happen to me?"

He leaned back. "Well, for one thing you don't have to worry about money with raising those kids, who are still sleeping like little angels in Harris's room. That guy Lorne, he is going to be so ticked he missed the big show while on babysitting duty! Plus, he's going to wonder a lot about the woman who just popped in to give the little tykes a kiss goodnight..."

Cordelia sent a questionable look at Xander. "It's okay, Cor. All this was explained to me before I came back. It's okay, really."

She turned back to Metatron. "What do you mean, I don't have to worry about money?"

"That inheritance that you had coming from your uncle, that was tied up in court because of the opportunist wife who's younger than you? Well, that's all been cleared up. You might want to call the attorney's office on Monday."

Fred was ready to faint. "Ah, Cordy? Didn't you tell me that you woulda gotten 43 million dollars? Plus a mansion?"

Cordelia could only nod her head.

Gunn smiled. "Damn, girl, we are definitely having the Super Bowl party at your place this year!"

"I'm still not done yet," Metatron told them. "You also have to go to the Hard Rock Café in LA for lunch tomorrow, with Mr. Harris here. You already have reservations, and the meal will be on the house. But you have to be there at 11:30 on the dot."


"Because that's ten minutes after the casting director of a new syndicated TV action show will be seated behind you."

"You can't be serious! My acting sucks!"

"Well, before when you tried to act, you were still kind of a..."

"Ditz?" she asked.

He shrugged. "I was going to say raw talent, but whatever works for you. But you have a hell of a lot of emotional life experience now, don't you?"

"Oh yeah, I've been put through the wringer a few times..."

"So don't worry, you'll do fine."

She frowned for a moment. "Wait a minute. An action show? And it's syndicated? It's a T&A thing, isn't it? Like that VIP show?"

Metatron sighed. "Well, there is a tiny bit of that, but it will have a story most of the time. I'm guessing you'll be in one or two swimsuits here and there; they do want a male demographic and all. But on the plus side, lots of women will be ticked at you for getting your figure back so fast after having twins. Even if you didn't really give birth to them."

Cordelia smiled. "I think I can handle that. Okay, are there any other life-changing bombshells you want to drop on me?"

"I think you'll like this one. I think you both will." He motioned to Xander. "You have that envelope with you?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah." He opened it up, and pulled out two first class plane tickets, and reservations for a hotel suite for three nights. "Las Vegas?"

"Well, we figured you might want to get reacquainted with the little woman here," he indicated Cordy.

"Little woman!?" Cordelia screeched instantly.

Xander covered his face with his hands. "Trust me, don't ever call her that. Not even as a joke."

Angel grinned. "I think she's gotten over the shock."

Cordelia just glared at him. But her look softened, as Xander put his arm around her. "What do you say, Cor? You, me, and a big hotel suite all to ourselves?"

"A few days in Vegas with Dweeb Boy here, and I don't have to pay? Yeah, I think I can handle that." She leaned in and kissed him. "Now if that's all...Xander here needs to meet his daughters. Come on, Harris."

As they quickly left the club, Bush, Alex, and Andrews came up. Alex went to Angel. "So you're the ensouled vampire with the whole Champion thing going on, huh?"


"Cool. So when do I get to see this hotel that I'm told I'll be working at?"

Everyone looked at him. "That you'll be working at?" Gunn asked, as he looked the kid over.

Alex nodded. "I'm here for two reasons. First, to help out my old friends. And second, to help out Cordelia. And I'll do that better since she'll still be hanging out with you guys a lot. But I am getting paid by George here."

Angel shook his head. "Why would the government pay you to help out Cordelia? And help her out with what?"

Alex shrugged. "Well, I got all this stuff in my head about how her growing power works, and as for the government...that should be obvious. It's in everyone's best interests to have a woman who can shoot down a jet fighter to be able to control her powers."

Angel growled slightly, "How do you know about that!?"

"Hello! I just got the mission from God. How the hell do you think I know?"

Bush stepped in. "Don't worry about your friend. Granted, there are some in the government who would use Ms. Chase's powers for their own agendas...she is the girlfriend of the man who just stopped an invasion force from taking control of the entire nation! But no one outside this room will know of her powers."

Angel looked at him. "If they ever do..." He let the threat drop. Bush knew that he was deadly serious.

"Angel-cakes, calm down," Lorne said, as he walked into the room.

The Secret Service agents nearly jumped him. "Mr. President, get behind us!"

Andrews stepped between them. "It's all right, Mr. President. Captain Harris told me about Mr. Lorne here personally. He's non-hostile."

Bush looked at him. "You're sure, General?"

"He was just babysitting the captain's daughters, sir. And I don't think he would have been there, if he wasn't trusted."

Bush relaxed. "My apologies, Mr. Lorne. It's just that the last time I saw a demon, he tried to take my head off — literally."

Lorne smiled warmly. "No problems, studmuffin. For a second there, I thought this was all because I voted for Gore..."

"You voted?"

"Oh yeah, took a mail order class to help with the citizenship test," Lorne admitted. "You know, I saw this beautiful little dance club towards the rear of the ship. What say we make this a party, kick back and enjoy ourselves?"

Bush laughed a bit. "Well, the General and I do have some plans we have to go over, but..." He looked to Andrews, who just nodded. "Fine, just try not to make too much of a mess."

"But we don't have any drinks or food!" Melissa told them sadly.

"Don't worry, darling. I know a liquor store near here that still gives me a good discount," Lorne told her.

"Cool, a beer run!" Dawn called out. Buffy glared at her. "Uh, a Pepsi run?"

"That's better."

"Come on," Gavin said, as they went for the doors. "I'll check out a Humvee to help haul the stuff." Lorne, Spike, and Conner left with him. Melissa went with the others to open up the club.

After everyone had left the room, Bush turned to Andrews. "You know something, General? I think I'm going to like reading the reports from this place."

"As much as the reports from the SGC?"

Bush grinned. "If we can make the project fly, then the SGC will be jealous."

"Have they been able to find space in Washington?"

"We're planning to have it work out of the old Omega facilities. Now, we just have to figure a way to get Mr. Giles behind it..."


Xander's Quarters

He yanked his hands back, after she smacked them away. "Ouch, Cor!"

"Sorry Xander, but this is the first time in a week they've slept so peacefully. You pick them up, and it's going to wake them up."

Xander grinned at her. "I guess having God give you a goodnight kiss will make anyone sleep well."

She looked at him. "I don't think that's it."

"Then what?"

"They've been little terrors since..." she looked away.

Xander moves around her. "Since when, Cor?"

She looks up with tears coming down. "Since I saw you in my vision, as that magnifier thing drained you away to nothing! They started crying, the second died."

As she broke down, Xander pulled her to him. "It's okay Cor, I'm here now, and I'm not going anywhere."

She looked up at him, her head on his shoulder. "You mean that?"

"Yeah, and you know I do Cordy..."

The phone on the nightstand rang. He sighed, "Just ignore it."

Cordelia wiped her face, "No, Xander — we talked to God tonight! I'm not taking any chances here." She bent down and answered it. "Hello. No, it's okay Kristen...alright, we're coming."

Xander pulled her back into his arms. "What did she want?"

"It seems Lorne got them to open up the dance club, they're having this big party...oh, damn!"


"I forgot to ask if one of them could baby-sit. I'm not bringing my kids to a party! Next thing you know, they'll be drinking and bringing home strange men...who I'll have to kill, if they so much as touch..."

Xander stopped her. "I think we still have a few years before they start dating, honey. And as for the babysitter, I think I have that covered."

"You do?"

He moved over to a panel next to the TV, and flipped a switch. "April?"

The voice seemed to come from nowhere to Cordelia. "Yeah, sugar?"

"Can you come to my room, please?"

Cordelia frowned at him. "And who was tha..." She almost fell backwards, as April appeared right next to her.

The former seer looked over to the woman who'd just appeared. Tight black jeans, and a very small black top. "Xander, who is this woman who can just appear in your room?!"

He whispered, "Cordy...keep it down, you'll wake them up. This is April." April smiled at her. "She's the — well, she's the main computer basically. We had a few extra emitters, so we put them in a few areas so that she can move around. The gym, the officer's lounge..."

"Your bedroom?!" Cordelia hissed.

"Cordy, it's not like that. I have an X-box!" he whispered back at her.

April faced her, "Ms. Chase, don't worry. He hasn't done anything, we're just friends. Besides, I don't have the files yet on how to, well you know..."

Cordy softened a bit. "You want a computer to watch our kids?"

April looked disappointed. "I am right here, you know! Don't worry. I downloaded a whole bunch of childcare stuff."

"Cor, I trust her. And we're only going to be two decks down. She'll call us if they wake up."

Cordelia scowled a bit more. "Okay, but just don't change their clothes. We just got their names picked out, and I don't want to mix up who's who!" She went over to the babies and kissed them on their foreheads.

The woman whispered to them as she did so, "Goodnight Erica, goodnight Kelsey. Mommy and Daddy will be nearby if you need us..."

She turned to see Xander watching her, smiled at him. "Are you coming, my love?"

Xander took her hand, and walked out with her. "Anywhere with you Cor, anywhere with you."

Chapter 8

The Hollywood Dance Club

C Deck

"There are no unlockable doors

There are no unwinable wars

There are no unrightable wrongs

Or unsignable songs

There are no unbeatable odds

There are no believable gods

There are no unnameable names

Shall I say it again, yeah

There are no impossible dreams

There are no invisible seams

Each night when the day is through

I don't ask much

I just want you

I just want you"

Everyone was watching the stage. Doing their best to make Ozzy Osbourne proud was Xander, Beth, Rebecca, Gavin, and Melissa. All linked together with arms around each other, in an almost football-like huddle, swaying left and right as they sang.

Buffy turned to Willow, and frowned a tiny bit. "They seem to be getting along very well."

Willow smirked at her. "You're jealous!"

"Am not!"

"Are too."

"Am not!"

"Cool it, you two," Amanda ordered, as she grabbed Lee and dragged him to the dance floor.

Cordelia walked up to the bar, where Lorne was watching and listening to the group on stage. "Think they'll ask you about their futures?"

Lorne just took a shot of brandy, and stared at them. "I hope not."

This caused Cordelia to get concerned. "What is it?"

He turned to her. "I'm getting a kind of group vibe here, so I can't be 100 percent sure."

"But..." she prodded him.

"But if anyone is thinking this group was put together for small-time stuff...forget it. It won't be long till they start catching up with the rest of you, in the 'we've saved the world a lot' race. But there is one thing I should tell you, about your boy up there."

"Shouldn't you tell him?"

Lorne shook his head. "No. He would never admit to it anyway."

"Admit what?" she asked, worried.

"Honey, when I first read you there was one main thing I saw in your aura."


"Well, yeah, but mostly your breakup with him. With you, it's seemed to fade a bit since you became friends with him again, but with him..."

The anagogic demon poured him self another drink. "With him, it's still there big-time. That guy is almost as guilt-ridden as Angel was, when I first met him. And the biggest dark spot of them all on his aura, is what happened between you two back then."

Lorne sighed, "What I'm telling you is this. Tread lightly. He would rather die than hurt you again, but your old squeeze is *real* unsure of himself. You need to build him up a bit."

Cordelia just stared at Lorne, then over to the stage where Xander was just finishing. "I will, I'll do whatever it takes."


47 Miles outside Billings, Montana

Max and Liz Evans were shoved against the wall of the cabin. Next to them, trying to get up were the few people they completely trusted in the world; Kyle Valenti, Isabel Ramirez, Michael Guerin, and Maria DeLuca. All looked up to see the countless guns aimed at them.

"Don't even try anything, you freaks!" the FBI agent-in-charge told them. "You might get some of us, but your human friends will not be so lucky!"

Max pleaded, "Please, we just want to be left alone!"

Several agents laughed at that. "Like you've been alone since the Fifties? So you can kill a lot of other good men? Like you'll kill these naive kids with you, when you get bored with 'em?"

"Boy, someone sure got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning..."

The Federal agents turned to see five people in military uniforms, and with them were at least 30 armed soldiers.

The lead agent angrily addressed the newcomer, who'd spoken up. "Who the hell are you?! Get lost, this is our mission. These freaks have been killing our people for decades!"

"The name is Colonel O'Neill, U.S. Air Force. And, actually, these kids haven't killed anyone. The killer I believe you're talking about was a shapeshifter named Nacedo, and a girl named Tess was the one who destroyed the base in New Mexico. Both are now dead, and you are harassing American citizens without due cause, so you shut up and get lost."

"You have no jurisdiction here, Colonel. Now..."

O'Neill pulled out a letter. "This is from Robert Mueller, who God help us all is still your boss. And his orders here are to shut up and leave, and never bother these kids again. If you don't believe me, go call him yourself."

"We're not going anywhere!" the agent angrily tossed the letter back at O'Neill, without reading it.

The leader of Team SG-1 yawned, and turned to a soldier next to him. "Take them out to the car, so they can make the call. If they don't cooperate, place them under arrest. If they resist, shoot them."

"Yes sir!" the soldier responded. He, and the other soldiers forcefully removed the FBI agents.

O'Neill and the four remaining people moved up to the man named Max. "Max Evans, we are offering you and your people a full pardon from whatever those idiots out there have charged you with. You can come with us now or not, it's your choice."

"Why should we trust you?" Michael raised his hand to O'Neill.

"Kid, before you hit me with the same kind of whammy that killed Agent Pierce — which I'm told was self-defense — you might want to ask yourself, if you want to live on the run forever."

Major Carter looked to Max. "Would you happen to know the relative galactic coordinates of Antar? We've never heard of it, but if there are any more of those 'skins' on Earth, we should really find out."

"How do you know all this?" Liz asked, wondering what the hell was going on.

A voice came from behind O'Neill. "Because I told them."

All six people against the wall froze in shock when Alex Whitman, their very dead friend, appeared in front of them.

"A-Alex?" Isabel choked out, her eyes watering. "No...this is some trick. Alex is dead!"

"Well, oddly enough, I was; but then I got recruited for a job back down here in the land of the living, so they gave me a copy of my old body. And so, here I am," he told her.

"Job!?" Michael yelled. "You just came back to life for a job?! No way. You're a skin!"

Alex shook his head. "No, I'm not. Guys, I'm not another version of Tess, Nacedo, or Kivar. I'm Alex Whitman, and when I found out that I could help you all out after I got back...I said what the hell."

A pause, as he saw their expressions. "What? You think you guys are the only aliens living in this country? Hell, there's one alien who's a TV writer in Hollywood, for God's sake! Look, you can have your lives back. But whatever you decide, I wanted to say thanks Liz, for figuring out what Tess did to me. And Isabel, those little visits from me that you never told anyone about while you were dating Jesse...that was all me. I was up there at the time, but you did say that you would name your first boy Alex. Hell, we danced at my grave for God's sake..."

Isabel was shocked. "That was you?"

O'Neill looked them over. "Come on kids, what do you say?"


Staples Center

Home of LA Sparks

Julie Connor nailed another shot from the free-throw line, as her friends Mary-Beth Pepperton and Kristy Ford watched. They were the only ones on the court, after everyone else had left after practice.

"Julie, you only missed one out of ten. I think you can stop now," Mary-Beth complained.

Before Julie could respond, they heard another basketball being dribbled at the other end of the court. All three women turned to see the man dribbling the basketball, as he walked towards them. "Mary-Beth, you should know by now how much of a stickler for perfection Julie is..."

Mary-Beth smiled wide. "Vince!" she called out, before she ran over and hugged him. "What are you doing here? Last we heard from Danny, was that you were working at NORAD!"

Lieutenant Vince D'Amata looked at the three women gathered around him. "Well, I just got reassigned here. After the fun that was Sunnydale, I asked for a transfer — and here I am."

Kristy's eyes went huge. "You were at Sunnydale during the war?!"

Vince nodded.

Julie leaned in. "That story the President mentioned last week...invaders from another dimension? That can't be true. Can it? I mean, it's Star Trek stuff..."

"Yeah, but it's also all real. I got the fun of seeing them real up close. While I can't say what I was doing there, I can say this...we got off lucky. If that portal hadn't closed when it did, along with Miller and his team taking out the shield tower to give our guys a way in...we would not be having this chat now." he reflected sadly. "I've seen way too much death for a dozen lifetimes."

The three women looked at each other; up till now, their biggest problem had been getting jobs in the same city. Now their friend had lived through a war. "Do you want to talk about it, Vince?" Mary-Beth asked him softly.

The Immortal shook his head. "Maybe later, but thanks. At least, there's some good news. One of the guys I went in with was able to recover from his wounds that he'd received. After I heard about how he got better, well, I just had to sign up here."

"How did he recover?" Kristy asked.

"You wouldn't believe me, even if you did have clearance to know. But you know one thing I wouldn't mind right now?" he asked them.

"What's that?" Julie wondered.

Vince tossed the ball to her. "To see if you're still any good."

Julie raised an eyebrow at him, before grinning. "Oh, you're on pal..."

"It's time to see," Vince told her, "if getting drafted into the pros has gone to your head."


Demon Command

Control Room

11:47 PST

"Does he really think I don't see him?" April asked herself in annoyance. She watched the small screen in front of her, as the computer program sat in the darkened control room.

She spoke into the phone. "Security, let him pass. The captain is expecting him." After she hung up, April continued to watch the vampire that thought he was sneaking on board.


<It's about time,> Xander thought, as he shut off the monitor. Without even looking back at the open sliding glass doors to the private deck, he asked, "What took you so long, Dead Boy?"

"How did you know it was me?" Angel asked at once, as he came into the room.

Xander turned his chair around to face him, and held up the small monitor. "We started tracking you, as soon as you parked half a mile away. We have this entire area under 24-hour surveillance, you know."

"Nice toys," Angel said as he closed the sliding door, and then stood staring at Xander.

<He's even got that same old 'I'm evil' pose,> Xander smiled. "And to what do I owe the honor of your company tonight, Angel? You know, I will be seeing you tomorrow night after all the debriefings are done."

Angel smiled, as he appeared to be glancing around the room. "I just wanted to have a chat with you alone."

"Oh, and what about?" Xander asked, as he started to mentally count down what he knew was coming. <>

"If you hurt Cordelia again, I will kill you."

Xander had to fight the urge to laugh. "Is that so?" he asked with an amused smile.

Angel growled at him, "Don't push me."

"Boy," Xander told him two seconds later. "You forgot the 'boy' part at the end. I mean, that is how you threatened Riley, isn't it?" He imitated Angel's voice, "Don't push me, boy."

"You think I'm joking?" Angel moved closer.

Xander tried to stop smiling. "No, no, I think you're deadly serious. But I just love the self-righteous attitude from you about this." Angel gave him a stare that would make others shake in fear, but not Xander. "Oh, come on Angel. When did that ever work with me?"

"I meant what I said."

"I know. You're here, because the last time I was together with Cordy I cheated on her and got her impaled. And maybe also because I walked out on the woman I was going to marry on our wedding day. Am I close?"

"Right on the money."

"Well, before you get your probably-black-like-everything-else boxers in a bunch, let me say this." His face got deadly serious. "I will never hurt Cordelia again. Ever."

"You've made those claims before..."

Xander stopped him, as any and all feelings of goodwill from his last visit to the hotel disappeared. "Angel old pal, can you define the meaning of the word 'hypocrite'? Should I spell it out for you? Because that's what you are."

Angel just looked at him coldly as the USAF officer continued, "Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Whistler shows you Buffy in LA, and tells you that you're supposed to help her — nothing more."

Angel stared in shock, as Xander shook his head. "Yeah, I actually heard about that — right from the horse's mouth. You knew all along you couldn't do anything else with the Buff-meister, that it wouldn't work out. But did you keep it just business? Well, we both know the answer; you two made with the smoochies, then got groiny with each other. And so, we all got to meet your other half. And after a few months of killing and other acts, you get your soul back..."

"I know all this, Harris..."

The young man kept going though, "Then you come back from Hell with your big purpose to help the helpless. Do you go do that? No. You go back into Buffy's arms again. You know better than ever that it won't work out, and you two still get back together! But then you finally start to think with your head and figure out that it can't work, so you dump her — which was a whole lot of fun for her, I can tell you..."

Xander shook his head at the memories. "You then leave and try to fight the good fight here. I get letters from Cordy telling me how she'd found a purpose for her life, how she understands now why I always wanted to help out Buffy. You became her best friend, and then you went all nuts again."

"Xander, that's..."

"Shut up and let me finish."

The temperature in the room fell several degrees, as Xander continued, "You kicked her out of your life and went into idiot mode, just so that you could kill Darla and Drusilla. But did you kill them, Angel? Was pushing Cordy and the others away like that worth it? Did you take out the Big Bads? No, again. Hell, you even slept with one of them! But the best part's still to come..."

A short, deadly pause. "Even after both tries to be with Buffy, you still try to get together with Cordelia. You know it won't last and that it would only end with her heart being broken...but you went ahead with it anyway! How long did she cry after you two decided to stop seeing each other, buddy boy?"

Xander stood face to face with the vampire. "Now, on to me. With regards to Anya, and our little wedding of doom? Yeah, I left her. I ran with my tail between my legs. Not making excuses — but did anyone ever tell you about the nightmare future visions that that demon gave me? Or tell you about how they were all fake, to scare me off from my bride-to-be?"

The undead creature with a soul shook his head slowly.

Xander stared off into the void as he said, "You know what I never told anyone, Angel? That they weren't really fake. I'd seen all the crap in them going on between my mom and dad, and the chances were it woulda happened to me too..."

The young man's expression went dark and cold. "I've heard almost everyone I care about say I won't turn out like that, if I don't want to. My opinion, they should keep their damn mouths shut unless they've been there. There was this guy called Jon, he was an older kid of one of my dad's drinking buddies. When he got married, he swore to me that he would never hurt his wife like that, never drink like his old man. You wanna know where he is today? He's in almost nightly AA meetings, just so he can keep his monthly visitation rights with his kids!"

He paused to collect himself. "As for Cordy. I was a stupid ass who didn't know what I had, till I lost it. I had the love of my young life calling me every name in the book. Then she went after Wesley? Well, at least your friend Doyle and her actually stood a chance..."

Angel stiffened. "Don't you mention his name."

"Oh get off it, Dead Boy. You ever wonder how Doyle just happened to know everything, from Cordy's favorite old movies to her favorite ice cream flavor? Or what kind of music she liked, but would never tell anyone?"

"You?" Angel asked in shock.

He nodded. "I was in town for the day, so I thought I'd drop in and say hi. But you and Cordy were away hunting a demon, and Doyle was tending the office. We went out and had a few drinks. I gave him some pointers."

"Why would you do that?" the souled vampire asked suspiciously.

"Because I'm not the kind of guy who beats up on his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. I mean, who does that kind of thing? Oh, wait." He pointed to Angel. "That would be you."

Angel took a step towards Xander, but then stopped. "What I said stands."

Xander looked him in the eye. "You've delivered your little warning, so now it's my turn. You ever treat her again like you did back then, and I will dust you. And this is no idle threat here, because we both know I could do it now without breaking a sweat. I don't think you've forgotten about those funky new powers, right? So are we clear on this?"

"We're clear," Angel growled at him.

"Good. Now you're her best friend, and I respect that. So for the record, I will not be trying to get her to stop hanging out with you, or helping you in your quest to make up for your past. I still remember what it's like to have your friends treat you like you're neither wanted or needed, and God knows I would never wish that on anyone..."

Xander straightened up. "Now after you walk out that door, as far as I'm concerned — this conversation never happened. You go back to brooding or being all champion-like, and I'll keep annoying you and calling you Dead Boy...hey, you know what? That moniker's getting kind of old. I have got to think of a new nickname for you. And I'm sure you have a few for me, don't you?"

Angel only nodded, before he started for the patio door leading to the private deck. "Uh, Angel?" Xander stopped him. He pointed towards the door. "We did track you all the way in here. Base Security knows you're on board, so you might as well use the normal way off the ship."

Angel crossed the room and opened the find a USAF sergeant waiting for him. "What, don't you trust me?"

Xander shrugged. "You did sneak into a government installation. No unescorted civilians allowed. See you tomorrow."

About twenty minutes later, after he got tired of the endless CNN coverage of the last week, Xander was laying on his bed reading over D'Amata's report about what had happened after he had 'died', when the phone rang. "Xander's psychic network, Ms. Cleo speaking," he joked.

"Quit clowning around, dorkhead," came the excited voice of Cordelia Chase.

"Do I hear a little giddiness in your voice, Cor?"

She yelled happily into the phone, "I got the part, Xander! I got it!"

"Hey, way to go, Cordy!" he responded. "Do I get to find out what the show is about yet?"

"Well, I don't know Xander. They did want to keep it a secret so it's not all over the Internet tomorrow," she teased him.

"Ah, come on Cordy. Who do you play?"

"I play May Richards, a 24-year-old woman who was a child genius. Xander, from the script I've read so far this chick would like blow Willow out of the water! She's this big computer expert," she said.

"Right, so what's the show about?"

"Well, there's a two-hour pilot movie first, then we have a series later if they pick us up for next season. I'm not the main character; I become her best friend. But it's so cool, we work for the CIA and everything. Elizabeth — the lead — her father, my character's boyfriend and others go missing, after looking into some terrorist army. You wouldn't believe the scene I had to do in the reading..."

"Not a love scene, I hope," he frowned.

"No, but there is a flashback to me and my boyfriend making out in the movie. At the end of the movie, we find my boyfriend dead on the floor of a bad guy hideout. We get there a few minutes too late, and she never gets to say goodbye to him. Xander, I had to do this huge crying scene. And they loved me!"

The young man could almost see her, jumping up and down in her living room. "And you said you'd never make it..."

"Well, I guess having God setting me up to be discovered didn't hurt," she told him. "But it sucks that you can't be here to help me celebrate," she said the last word a little suggestively.

His eyebrows went up, as Xander heard that. "We will have plenty of time in Vegas, for that."

Her voice got deeper. "Oh, you can be sure of that, Mr. Harris. But I think we can manage for now. want to know what I'm wearing, right this second?"

Xander's eyes went wide in surprise, before he smiled. "You know I do..."


Two days later

Las Vegas, Nevada

Cordelia frowned, as she walked into the hotel suite. "I swear, Xander, that idiot is going to get himself bitch-slapped! The guy would have made Faith blush..."

When she got no reply, the former seer turned around. "Xander?"

"Just a sec, Cor!" the man called out, as he dragged her bags in the room. As he set them all down Xander muttered, "Now I remember why I hated going anywhere with you, when we were in high school..."

She glared at him. "And how come you didn't smack that guy?"

"Cordy, granted he was a jerk, but that friend of his seemed to be able to shut him up real quick. Besides, I don't know if we want to beat up one of God's old Prophet buddies while we're on a trip arranged by God," he reasoned.

"Well, okay, I'll let it slide this time. But if he says anything else, I'm going to smack him good!" Cordelia said, as she opened one of her bags.

"I dunno, Cor. I think he might like it if you start hitting him." Xander pulled the mother of his children to him. "Think of how much he would brag, when the hot chick that beat him up becomes a TV star..."

She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Speaking of which, I'm going to need your help to rehearse the make-out scene with the boyfriend."

"Oh, I think I can handle that," Xander whispered.

"Good, because I might need to rehearse it several times. It could take hours," Cordelia whispered back, before she leaned in and kissed him. A few minutes later when they came up for air, she frowned.

"What's wrong, Cor?"

"I just remembered what I forgot to bring."

"And what's that?"

She grinned at him. "Remember what we had to have around the room after Graduation?"

He nodded understanding. "Windex, and some Drano."

She leaned in and whispered softly in his ear, "Well then, you better run down and buy some."

He kissed her forehead. "Your wish is my command." He started for the door.

"Xander?" He turned around. "Hurry back, my love."

He smiled. "You know Cor, I don't think I will ever get tired of hearing you say that."


A cliff over looking an ocean

Metatron walked up to God. "Okay, I get the fixing of everyone's destines, giving the girls back to those two crazy kids, even the thing with the aliens. But why was it so important to have her become a TV star, already? She got her family money back. She wouldn't ever have to work again..."

She looked at him, smiling as always.

"That's it?" he asked in surprise. "She ends up a role model to a Slayer 80 years from now?"

God looked him right in the eyes.

The man looked mildly surprised. "Her great-great-granddaughter?! But the odds of that happening are..." Metatron stopped, when he saw her glaring at him. "Right. Well, anything else you feel like letting me in on?" he asked her, somewhat annoyed.

She nodded, as his eyes went wide in shock. "You can do that?! But that's against every rule for them, that we've set up down there! On their 16th birthday, they really get the full deal? I mean, there is only one to go around..."

God raised Her right hand, and an object appeared in it. A jar of clear glass, and in it one could see a massive amount of energy; bolts of lightning, flashing and crackling around.

Metatron was speechless. <I thought it was lost, when the Powers did what they did. But it wasn't, was it? The plan was always to transfer it into the muo-ping, right from the beginning...>

For a moment, his Creator assumed its true form, as if to say 'congratulations for figuring it out' — a form that could not be described, in any symbology known to mortal man.

Metatron bowed his head, but soon went back to his thoughts. This had never been done before. And until that moment, he'd thought it couldn't be done. Because in the receptacle lay the 16th birthday present for Erica Francis Harris, and her sister Kelsey Jesse Harris.

Their mother's Quickening.


Xander slid the key card back in his pocket, as he walked into the suite. "I think you're right, Cor, I'm going to have to beat him up. The guy offered to pay me for a nude picture of you!"

He heard no reply, though. "Cordelia?"

The young man walked into the main room of the large suite, and stopped. The room had been transformed; the lights were off, and about a dozen candles were around the water-filled hot tub.

Xander looked over and saw a note on the couch, next to a small gift-wrapped package.

We did a few of your fantasies last time.

But there is one from high school I always wanted to do.

Open it, and put it on.

But don't you dare get in the hot tub yet.

Call me when you're ready.

He ripped open the small package, and grinned. There in his hands, was a pair of maroon Speedo swimming trunks.

A few minutes later, Xander called out to the closed bedroom doors. "I'm ready, Cor."

In the low light, he saw the double doors slide open. There, in a very small blue robe, stood Cordelia Chase. Her hair was up, and he watched as she pointed a small remote to the side and the radio started playing soft music.

Then the young woman slowly walked over to him, and looked him over with a gleam in her eye. She then said in her best airhead voice, "You're that cute senior that's on the swim team, aren't you?"

He played along, "Why, yes, I am. We just got done with practice."

Keeping the airhead voice, Cordelia giggled. "Well, I wanna go for a swim, but I heard there was a bunch of scary old fish monsters running around. And I'm just a poor little freshman. Do you think you could stay a while, to keep me safe?"

Xander tried not to laugh. "I'll make sure no fish monsters come anywhere near you."

Acting scared, Cordy looked to the hot tub. "Could you test the water first for me?"

"Sure." He sank into the hot water, and moved his hands around under the surface. "It's all safe. No monsters in here."

"Good," Cordelia said, as she untied the robe and it slid down to the floor. Xander's jaw dropped, when he saw the small black bikini she was wearing. It was so tight and revealing, she would get arrested wearing it in public. "Uh, wow...I mean, that's...that's a nice swimsuit you have on."

She smiled at his spluttering. "Well, I have a friend in my computer class named April, and she showed me a few places to buy some new suits."

Cordy slowly got in the hot tub, and sat across from him. "I'm still a little nervous, way over here in the deep end. Can I come over there and sit with you?"

He smiled. "Of course you can."

"Thanks. I'm oh-so-lucky to have a big strong guy like you to keep me safe." She moved over to him. But instead of sitting next to the guy, Cordy sat on Xander's lap, facing him and wrapping her arms around his neck. "I think this is so much better. Don't you?"

"Oh, yeah..." He leaned in, and kissed her.

She giggled. "Wait till I tell my girlfriends that Xander Harris — the biggest stud of the senior class — kissed me! They'll never believe it..." Cordelia then smiled again, leaned in and kissed him, and then she moved down and started to nibble on his neck.


Hyperion Hotel

Angel, Gunn and Wesley walked in, arguing.

"Yo, Angel," Gunn was saying. "All you had to say was their blood ate through clothes! And no, I don't know how much a new jacket will cost..."

Before Angel could respond, they were told, "Be quiet, you guys!" by Kristen.

Willow and Kristen were walking around the lobby in their pajamas, each holding a baby and a bottle. "They're almost asleep," Willow told them.

Gunn whispered, "You put them to bed before we left, didn't you?"

"Well, they woke up again," Willow said, annoyed. "They sleep most of the night for Xander and Cordy, but for us they keep on waking up..."

The girl in her arms, Erica, started to cry again. Willow tried to quiet her down, "Oh, it's okay honey, Aunt Willow didn't mean anything. You're a nice, quiet girl..."

Gunn gave Wesley his ax, and took the baby from her. He started to gently rock her in his arms while he started to sing, "Hush little baby, don't say a word. Uncle Gunn's gonna buy you a big crossbow. And if that crossbow doesn't shoot, Uncle Gunn's gonna buy you a razor-sharp sword. And if that sword doesn't cut..." He stopped, when he saw Erica was fast asleep.

He looked up, to see everyone looking at him. "What? You think just because I was in charge of the 'Lost Boys', that we didn't have a few single mothers with us?"


Imperial Palace

The Grey Suit Man was surrounded by guards, as he started talking for his life. "But, sire...I did not order the troops out of the cave, she did!"

The large man on the throne stood up angrily. "Are you saying my daughter is to blame for this debacle?"

He cowered a bit. "No, no, of course not. She couldn't have known that they had the means to close the portal. I am only saying that the enemy should have been finished off, before we left..."

The other man waved a hand, in dismissal. "We can still conquer that dimension; we need only to retrieve the magnifier. Now, where would they take it?" His Emperor demanded to know.

"My liege, they would most likely take it to the place where the items from the SGC are stored. Area 51, they call it, in the state of Nevada. Now, we can take troops to their dimension, but we will need equipment to attack that installation. And without the magnifier, it will be difficult..."

"Enough!" the Emperor bellowed in disgust. "I don't care about the details, share them with the Imperial War Staff. The concern for now should be the one called Harris. The warrior my daughter wishes to have by her side..."

"Sire, I understand your desire to please your daughter. But it would alert them that we are planning to return, if we capture Captain Harris for Lady Sonya beforehand. In my professional opinion...I would submit we must seek to retrieve the magnifier first," the suited man reasoned.


Private Chambers of Lady Sonya

The daughter of the Emperor relaxed, as she sank further into her bath. Her favorite slave attendant was busy braiding her hair as she spoke to her, "My lady, I am sorry that he did not return with you."

Sonya reached over the side, and grabbed the folder holding the large photo of Alexander Harris. "I am as well, but one good thing did come of this."

"If I may ask — what is that, my lady?"

The woman smiled. "My future toy has proven himself in battle. No one will ever call him a worthless insect again, like that idiot who gave us all the information on him. My father respects him now, so he will do as I ask and try to retrieve him for me," she said slowly, as she gazed at the picture.

"But what of his mistress? The one known as Cordelia? Were we not told that she has powers as well? Will she not attempt vengeance, after you take him from her?"

Sonya smiled. "Don't worry about her. She has no idea what will happen, if she crosses me." She then looked to her attendant. "All in due time. Soon he will beg for me to claim him, but until that day...I need something else to occupy myself."

The attendant blushed as she stood up. "Yes my lady." She let her robe fall to the floor before she entered the bath.


Las Vegas

Cordelia, half-asleep, rolled over. She lightly moved her arm to wrap it around Xander, only he was not there. Her eyes snapped open, as the woman looked around the dark room. He wasn't anywhere to be seen.

Cordy slipped into her robe and slippers, and went to the main room. There she saw him, standing out on the patio — looking at all the neon lights, twenty stories down along the Vegas strip.

"Hey," the mother of the Harris twins said softly. "What are you doing out here?" she then asked, as she moved next to him at the railing.

"Oh, nothing. I'm just thinking."

"About what?"

He looked away. "Cor, I gotta ask — how can you trust me again? I mean, really. I've only ever had two good things in my life, and I blew them both. I'm afraid that if we do start over, that I'll just end up hurting you again..."

Xander looked at her sadly. "Or worse."

Cordelia stared into his eyes. "Xander, this is not me taking pity on you. Trust me, you know what that feels like. Look, we've both grown up a lot in the last few years. Am I going to lie, and say that the time after we broke up wasn't one of the worst times in my life? No, I'm not. It was, but it taught me one thing. That I want you in my life. And you know what, Xander Harris? I know you won't hurt me anymore."

He just looked down. "Cor, you can't know that for sure." His eyes started to tear up. "You didn't see those visions that the demon guy gave me, that day during 2002. In the end I killed Anya, and it felt so real..."

Cordelia grabbed her lover, and turned him towards her. "No, I didn't see them. You want to know what I saw, Xander? I saw one thing, and heard about another. That one time we were at your house when your dad came home drunk, most guys who grew up like you did would have stayed in their room and pretended nothing was going on. But you went right out and stopped your dad from hitting your mom. You stopped it. Then when he went after me and called me your 'cheap whore', you beat the crap out of him."

Xander hid a tiny smile. "I remember that you were more pissed that he called you cheap, than the other part. But Cor, he didn't even remember it the next day, hell even my mom got mad at me for attacking him." He sighed, "What was the thing you heard about?"

"When Tara's family came and tried to take her back. Willow told me about how her brother threatened to beat her down, if she didn't go with them. Xander, you stepped right up to him; you wouldn't allow that sort of thing then, and I don't think you would allow it in our house."

"Well, Buffy was the one who really stopped..." he trailed off. "Our house?"

She smiled at him. "You think I'm going to raise those two on my own, pal? We're a family now, just like we should've been years ago. And as for the you-and-Willow thing, how do you feel about her now?"

"Nothing like...after I saw your face that night, I couldn't..."

Cordy cut him off, "Then we have nothing to worry about, do we? Besides you're much more fun to do this kind of stuff with." She nodded to the main room, where the remains of the candles still sat out.

Xander suddenly asked, "What about that Groo guy? I thought you and him...or Angel, even-?"

Cordelia frowned. "First, Angel was a good kisser, but that's all we could do. And I was not going to end up like Buffy. With Groo, wasn't that hard to get bored."


"Xander, please, his idea of foreplay was to kill a demon and give me its severed head! Sure it was interesting the first couple of times, but to have a guy that devoted to me? If I'd met him in freshman year, then I would have loved him — but after you, he was just dull."

"Come on Cor, I can't be that hard to top..."

She shook her head in frustration. "Xander, get it through your thick head, will you?! God knows I was nothing more than a shallow bitch, back then. I was living day to day, trying desperately to find something interesting about shoes, for Heaven's sake! Before you, I didn't know what was really in this world..."

A sigh. "If I had lost my money when I was still the self-righteous Queen C, I would have self-destructed on pills like my mom. You made me give a crap; it's because of you that I wanted more out of life, than the latest fashion trend! It's because of you that I wanted to help Angel save the people of LA. And even now after I got what I wanted and I'm going to be a TV star...I still want to help. I have real friends and people who love me for me, not because of the size of my bank account."

Before Xander could say anything, she kissed him then took his hand. "Now let's go back to bed. It's cold out here, and I need you to warm me up." So, he followed Cordy back into the suite, closing the patio doors.


Office of General Andrews

Andrews spoke into the phone, "Yes, sir. Mr. Giles is on his way back to England with our proposal. He was very surprised at first with the offer, and I believe he's still very wary over what happened with the Initiative. But I think with most of Travers' people recently removed from the Council, the plan has a chance to succeed. Yes sir, I will contact you as soon as I hear back from them, very well sir. Goodbye."

As he hung up the phone, his intercom beeped. "Sir, your one o'clock is here."

He pushed the button. "Send her in, please."

General Andrews then looked up, as Amy Madison came into his office.


Las Vegas

"Xander?" Cordelia called, as she entered the suite.

"I'm in the hot tub, Cor," then he winced as he saw all the packages she dropped onto the couch. "Ah, honey? You just got the money a few days ago. Do you really think you should be going through it so fast?"

She waved off his concerns. "Please, I am going to be real busy for the next week, and then I have to go in for wardrobe fittings and promo shots for the movie. I have to get a head-start now."

Cordy moved over and hunched down, to be almost at eye level with him. "Besides, I think you'll like some of the stuff I bought. You wouldn't believe the kind of shops there are in 'Sin City'."

His eyes went wide. "More outfits?"

She smirked at him. "Hey, don't blame me. You were the one who suggested we try it back in Sunnydale..."

"Yeah, but Cor, I was joking at the time. You're the one who brought the stuff."

"I seemed to recall that you didn't mind them. Are you complaining?"

Xander never hesitated. "Oh, no. No complaining here. I'm shutting up now."

"Good," she kissed him. "And a tiny part of it is me repaying you."

"Repaying me?"

"Xander, back when it was my first made it special. If it hadn't been for you, my first would have been that bastard who turned me into an incubator for demon larva! It wasn't your first time, though; I heard about that quickie with Faith..."

"We were broken up, Cor. And the words 'stay away from me' sorta come to mind."

Cordelia grimaced. "I know, and I've kicked myself for that a few times. But now..." she turned on her thousand-watt smile. "I'm your first time."

"Uh, Cor, you're not..."

She stopped him. "Xander. Your old body went bye-bye. And now you have a new body. We're talking, Xander version two point oh. New body equals new first time."

The man was about to argue with her, but stopped when he saw her glare. "You're right, Cor. It wiped the slate clean."

Pleased with his reply, Cordelia kissed him again, long, slow and sensuously. "Smart answer. Now go take a shower, and get dressed. We have a lunch reservation at two."


Vegas Hotel Lobby

Xander looked back in confusion. He and Cordy had just passed the two strange Prophets, and they just nodded. The tall one hadn't made any comments at all towards Cordelia. "Ah, Cor?"


"Why didn't he make any lewd comments about you? You didn't really start hitting him, did you?"

"No, my love, I didn't hit him."

"Then why..."

She just cut him off, "Here's our taxi."


Jay could hardly keep his cool as the veritable demi-goddess walked by, and he noticed how her boyfriend just looked at him as they left.

The Prophet looked to his friend, Silent Bob. "Man, what does she see in him? A fine girl like that deserves to be laid down and made loved to real slow, like..."

He then started to make kissing sounds, and began to thrust his hips back and forth. A group of senior citizens walked by, and looked on in shock. Silent Bob just shrugged at them, not even trying to explain his friend. He finally hit him on the shoulder, and motioned for Jay to move it.

"Yeah I know, let's go get the camcorder ready," Jay said. "And the sooner I do this, the sooner I get my picture..."


Xander was getting nervous, as they came back to the hotel lobby. "Cor, are you okay?"

She looked ahead. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well, we had that talk last night. You said everything was okay, but now you're..."

Cordelia stopped and looked at him. "I meant every single thing I said last night, Xander. Never think any differently. Okay?"

"Okay, Cordy. It's just've been a bit out of it since we left. You didn't even hit me, when I made fun of Siegfried and Roy..."

"I guess this is all starting to get to me, is all. It's all finally sinking in how fast my life has changed again."

"I get it," he understood. "It's not that easy to believe that we talked to God, and..."

She shook her head. "Oh, no. I believe that. After all the stuff we've seen over the years, and me getting made into a higher being by those assholes up there? Not a problem. But I have two kids now. I'm just waiting for them to come back from a hell dimension as teenagers wanting to kill me, or something..."

"Cor, that can't happen again..." Xander stopped and got serious. "That can't happen again, right? I mean that idiot is dead, isn't he?"

She nodded quickly. "He's dead, yeah. To think Holtz had his own sidekick kill him — talk about twisted! Nothing to worry about there."

Xander grabbed her arm, as they walked. "Cordy, the elevators are back that way."

"I know, I just need to take the edge off a bit." She stopped at a door. "What do you say, Xander? For old time's sake?"

He looked at the door. It had a blue sign on it. 'Supply Closet'. "Cor, it's got to be locked..." She turned the knob, and it opened. "Or not."

They went in, and closed the door behind them. "Wow," Xander said, as the light turned on. "They sure have big clean closets here, don't they?"

"Lock the door, stupid!" she told him sharply.

Grinning, Xander turned and locked it, and then he yelled at what he saw when he turned back. In front of him was Cordelia Chase, down on one knee. She had a silver ring in her hand. "Ah, Cordy-?"

"Quiet!" she shushed him. "I'm nervous enough as it is."

"Ah, okay..." he replied weakly.

The young woman took a deep breath, before she started her speech. "Xander, we started out as kids who didn't understand there was love buried under all that lust, till it was way too late. We both went our separate ways after Graduation. But I always felt there was something missing from my life, honey, and I know you did too. I loved my life, but when Angel did his little solo act a few years ago it taught me one thing. That my great life can be shattered in an instant. That's why I want something permanent."

She continued, "One thing I knew I could count on you for was that even when we fought, and I mean really fought, I knew if I was in any danger at all that you would drop everything in a second to help me. And I would do the same for you...well, afterwards I would have made fun of you a bit..."

Cordelia giggled, but just for a moment. "But you know what I mean. Look, I want you to know that this is not just because we have kids now. Our lives have changed several times, and I don't want to live anymore wondering what could have been. What I'm saying is...Xander Harris, will you marry me?"

He was too stunned for words.

"Well, say something!" she quickly seethed.

Xander's brain started working again. "Yes! Of course Cor, you already knew the answer before you even asked. Yes, I'll marry you."

She jumped up happily, and hugged him. "I love you, Xander!" Cordelia kissed him.

"I love you too, Cor..." he whispered, as they kissed again. The young man wiped her tears away, "I woulda never suspected that you would ever propose to me, ya know?"

She smiled a big smile at him. "I'm Cordelia Chase. I don't wait for what I want, not anymore." She kissed him again, then moved to the back of the closet.

"Cor? What are you doing?" Xander asked.

She moved a shelf out of the way, and the USAF officer saw a mini DV camcorder sitting on a big tripod.

"How long have you been planning this?" he asked laughingly.

"Since our talk last night." Cordelia ejected the tape, and slipped it into her pocket. She then took his hand, and pulled him out of the closet.

When they got out, they found Jay and Silent Bob waiting outside on the other side of the hall. Cordelia squealed happily and hugged Bob, "He said yes!"

Bob just smiled at her, and shook Xander's hand. Jay looked disappointed. "Ah, man!"

Cordelia made it a point to be right next to Jay when she told Xander, "Come on, my love. I just got this new harem girl outfit, that I am just dying for you to take off of me..."

The three men's eyes bulged out. Bob patted Xander on the back, as they went for the elevators, and Jay started sulking. "Man, we cleaned the closet and got the hotel's camera — and not even a kiss on the cheek?"

Bob went in, and picked up the small item that Cordelia had slipped onto the shelf near the camera. A Polaroid picture.

He laughed as he saw it and gave it to Jay, as he locked the closet. His friend grabbed it like a small child with a new toy, but his face soured when he saw it. "Oh, come on! That is so not fair!"

In the picture Cordelia Chase was wearing a shirt four sizes too big, that went down to her knees. On the white bottom of the picture were the words... "I am naked...under the shirt. Does that count?" 

The End