Author: Danii <debrabantknight[at]>

Summary: After inheriting an old castle from his Great-Uncle, Xander discovers the very special secret that has been kept there for nearly five centuries...

Distribution: Anyone who wants it, tell me where you put it and put my name on it. That's all I ask.

Disclaimer: I own no one. Don't sue. I have no money, and I get none for doing this; all I get for this are headaches and odd stares. Rating: PG-PG13

Ship: Xander/Other, Xander/Buffy (not sure what I'm doing yet, but it will nonetheless have B/X thoughts in it at least)

Note: I have never been to the UK, so if I get something wrong, don't kill me. Feel free to correct, but don't slice me to pieces with a chainsaw, okay? Thanks...

Xander dropped his keys.

It wasn't an uncommon occurrence for the young man, but for once it wasn't caused by a multitude of packages in his hand, a demon attack, or Anya. It was caused by the words that had just left his father's lips.

"Get packed."

After the initial shock, Xander became first scared then angry. How dare his father throw him out of the basement? How dare he? He'd given the old bastard the rent for the next three months! There was no reason for-

Mr. Harris must have read his son's thoughts from Xander's expression, because almost immediately, he continued.

"No, I'm not kicking you out, you little asshole...though I shoulda done that years ago..."

Xander waited to find out what his old man was talking about.

"You're heading to Scotland, kid..." Mr. Harris said in a rather disgruntled-sounding voice, "Tonight."

"Tonight?" Xander asked in complete shock. Tonight? What the hell was so important in Scotland that he had to go tonight? For that matter, what the hell was so important that his parents would actually pay to send him there at all? Dear god, not-

"Yes, you little dick, tonight..." Xander's father continued in a grumble. He was, at the time, slightly drunk, and the younger man could smell it on his breath as he spoke. It was far too familiar for Xander to mistake it.

"Why?" Xander asked, making his way into the basement he called home. Okay, he didn't call it 'home', but he did sleep there and eat there, so one could call it home...the same way one could call a dank jail cell 'home'.

"Because..." Mr. Harris said slowly, as if speaking to a mentally impaired child, "Your Great-Uncle Ambrose is dying, and he wants to see you..."

"And?" Xander asked. He knew there had to be a catch. There was always a catch. His parents were money-grubbing, abusive assholes. They wouldn't grant the old man's wish simply to make him happy.

"And..." the elder Harris said angrily, "He said that if he DIDN'T get to see you before he died, he wouldn't leave us a thing in his will...though God only knows why he'd want to see a moronic ingrate like YOU as the last thing on this earth..."

"So that's You want Pap's money!" Xander said, half to himself. It sure explained why they were dishing out the money for the plane ticket instead of spending the cash on good, old fashioned booze like they usually did.

But it was understandable. Pappy, known to most of the family as Great-Uncle Ambrose, was extremely rich, and the only Harris who was so. So his parents, and every other one of his relatives Xander knew like them, were careful to do what the old man wanted whenever he should give a request. And, luckily for Xander, one of those 'requests' had always been that Xander visit every other summer for two weeks, although he hadn't been able to go due to his job the last summer.

Yet now the old man was dying. Not of any particular disease, but just of old age, things breaking down and no longer functioning. Xander had known he was in the hospital, but he'd been able to brush it off in his mind by saying that the old man would get better. But now, obviously not. And even though he was glad he was going to get to see Pappy once more, Xander's heart sagged with sadness that the only family member who had ever shown him kindness was going to die.

"Yes..." was Xander's father's answer at last. He looked almost ready to hit Xander for saying it out loud, but another of the old man's requests had been that no one ever 'hit' Xander, and while his parents would ignore it a great deal of the time, they would never chance it before a trip to Scotland.

"Fine..." Xander said, his voice dead and flat, "I'll get packed right now. When's the flight?"


Xander gave his father a look.

"Cutting it close, but I'll be there." Xander continued in the emotionless voice. He was hurting inside, both from talking to his hateful father and from finding out about his Pappy. But he wouldn't give his father the satisfaction of seeing him in pain. He got that too often.

"Good. Plane tickets are on the table. One way, for some reason. He 'requested' 'em that way..." Xander's father said quickly, beginning his way up the stairs.

"Good." Xander said as Mr. Harris climbed the stairs.

And then Xander's father disappeared behind the basement doors, and Xander let out a small sob of sadness. Tears ran down his face quietly as the stomping of his father's steps disappeared into the kitchen area of the upstairs. But Xander couldn't give a rats ass about his father.

Dear God, Pappy was dying...


Xander walked through the hospital like a zombie, his bag in his hands and his only heavy coat on his back. He hadn't had time to pack more than one (nor had he had time to tell any of his friends in person; he'd left them a note)

He'd come directly from the airport to there, not wanting to chance that the old man would die before he could see him. But now, filled with pain and experiencing jet lag, he wasn't very much to see. Yet he made his way quietly to the room at the end of the hall that the rather sympathetic nurse had pointed out.

Though it was only a few meters, it seemed like an eternity of walking to get there. Each steps seemed to echo in the hospital hallways, which Xander thought were too sterile-feeling, and his uneasy breaths seemed to fill his ears. Yet he made it. He made it to the room, put his bags down in the corner, and took a look at the man he hadn't seen in nearly three years.

"Hi, Pappy..." Xander said quietly as he took off his jacket and draped it on one of the chairs in the room. The young man didn't want to look at his relative like that yet. He still had to steel himself to it.

"'ello, Xander..." replied a raspy, but cheerful, old voice with a slight Scottish accent. A raspy voice that held more love and caring for the young man in front of him then his parents had ever had.

"Hi...Pappy..." Xander repeated, adjusting his jacket on the chair just right to stall for time. Dear God, he was dying...he was dying! "I dunna have the breath ta waste on this, young man..." said Ambrose as he lay in his bed, "And I dunna have the time ta watch ya adjust that blasted jacket anna more..."

As he heard the words, Xander stiffened, caught in the act, which was not surprising since his Pappy knew him better than almost anyone. So Xander let go of the coat, turned around, sat and looked up to see his great uncle.

It was the same man he knew. The same brown eyes and the same dark hair. The same twinkle in those eyes, even if it was slightly dimmed with painkillers. The same smile, the same long fingered hands that would hug him close...that had once turned the pages as he read Xander a story next to the fireplace...

But then there were the tubes, and the machines, and the sensors, and the bottles. The controls, the room...Things which were NOT his Pappy. Things which wrenched his heart and made his soul cry out.

He felt a tear run down his face.

"Oh..." his Pappy said quietly, "Dunna do that...ya knew it was coming. I knew it was coming. But dunna let my last time with ya be all tears, Xander..."

He nodded as he wiped away the tears.

"Ya still callin' yourself Xander, then? Didna change it or annathing, did you? I know how ya are about ya name..."

"No, Pappy...I didn't change it." Xander answered quietly as a small smiled began to form on his lips, "It's still Xander. I didn't make it an unpronounceable symbol or anything...I'm not 'The Guy Formerly Known as Xander'."

This made the old man smiled, and Xander's smile widened in turn.

"Good...good. It's good to see ya, lad. Very good. I've missed ya these last few years..."

Xander's heart immediately filled with guilt at not going on his bi- annual trip last summer, and it must have shown on his face because Ambrose spoke up.

"Oh, dunna go getting' upset about not coming last time..." he said with a small chuckle, "I'm not gonna deny ya a life..."

Then his voice got a little angry.

"Ya parents seemed to have that one covered..."

But then, the old man's demeanor changed completely, and the anger in his voice was erased. They began on easy topics, and started talking. Work, school ("ya didna get into college? Why? What in hell were you doin'?"), girls ("What about that pretty blonde ya told me about?"), and other things. Then after a while, Ambrose's voice got serious and he asked:


"Yes, Pappy..."

The old man rolled his eyes, but continued. "Xander, I want ya to know some things before I go, which ah very important."

The younger man cringed slightly at the talk of 'going', but nonetheless listened.

"Firstly, my boy, I want you to know that I love you dearly."


"Lemme finish..." he said, then continued, "Ya are, despite ya father's best attempts, a fine young man. A lovin' young man. A kind- hearted young man. One I am proud to say is related to me."

Xander sat there stunned.

"Secondly, I want ya to know that I'm gonna take care of ya now, when I couldn't before. I'm gonna give you the two things you need."

It took Xander a minute, but he finally asked, "Which are?"

This made the old man roll his eyes good-naturedly and smile. Young people were so hurried nowadays...

"Ya'll see..." Ambrose told him with a small grin of delight edged with a deep sadness, "But for now, I want ya to head to my house now, get settled in, and dunna worry about me."


"Xander, ya've got jetlag, and yer upset..." the old man reasoned, "Do as I say please..."

So, without another word, Xander picked up his jacket, then his bags, and walked out the door. He was upset. So upset that he didn't hear the faintly whispered word of:


But then, as he made his walk to the elevators, Xander heard an alarm go off in the nurse's station. Three of them, including the kind one who had pointed him to the room, ran quickly down the hall, and as Xander feared, into his grand uncle's room.

Xander was unable to move, but he did listen. He listened to the frantic voices of the nurses. He listened to the thumps of who-knew- what. Then he listened to the silence, followed by a faint voice from the room that broke his heart in two.

"Ambrose Michael Harris died at..."

He didn't hear the rest. He was too busy running out of the hospital.


Xander squirmed.

It was perfectly understandable. There he was in a foreign country, wearing his nicest (and most uncomfortable outfit) sitting in a lawyer's office which was at least twenty degrees too hot for anyone who didn't live on the sun, and he was waiting for his grand-uncle's will to be read. His great-uncle who had been the only member of his family to show him any kindness at all. His great-uncle who had been alive just five days before. His great-uncle Ambrose who had been buried yesterday in a ceremony attended by all of three people.

As he sat, Xander thought on the ceremony. It had been very nice, pre- arranged by his Pappy during the hours at the hospital, but rather sparse. Xander guessed that the old man knew that there would be few there, and so hadn't planned for many because most of his friends had died years before.

So it had been him, the priest, and a woman. A woman in a strange black dress with brown hair that seemed just slightly kissed with a bit of gold. A woman he didn't know and hadn't gotten the name of.

Heck, he hadn't even gotten a look at her face. She had had it covered with a veil, not to mention the brim of her considerable (yet nice-looking) hat. And even when she seemed to look up, Xander didn't seem to see her, as if she wasn't really there at all. But the priest had seen her because as he spoke about the deceased, he had gestured to her, calling her 'a friend'.

"I wonder who SHE was..." Xander muttered to himself, feeling a twinge of guilt at his curiosity about her right after his Pappy's death.

You're not supposed to pick up women at funerals...he thought to himself, but Xander was Xander, and could not help the mental ending of: but she was pretty hot. Yet just as Xander was about to think more on all that had happened in the last few days, he heard footsteps and looked up to the doorway of the office in which he sat. As expected, in came his great-uncle's lawyer, a Mr. Gerard Townsend, followed by two others.

Mr. Townsend was a large hulk of a man, and seeing him in a suit was an example of fine tailoring at work. Yet, as Xander watched, he saw that despite his size, he was extremely quick. From what Pappy had told him, Xander knew that Gerard had once had dreams of being a soccer (no, here they call it 'football'...) player which had been crushed by a bad back injury during a game. However, it seemed, he had a quick mind to match his quick body, and so turned out to be an excellent that Ambrose Harris had trusted with a great deal.

"Hello, Xander..." Gerard said, his handsome face twisted into a look of genuine sympathy. "Are you doing okay today? I know you must be hurting. And I'm sorry for missing the service the other day...I was unable to come..."

Xander sighed tiredly, but looked up into the friendly man's face. "It's okay..." he answered with yet another sigh, "It's just his body. The important part was done already, ya'know?"

"Yeah..." Gerard answered with compassion in his voice. Again it was genuine, as Gerard had also been a friend of Ambrose's as well as his lawyer. Moreover, he knew Xander decently too, and felt for the kid. "I know..."

Then there was a moment of silence, partially to honor the one who was now dead, and partially to help bring peace to the two who were living. But Xander broke this silence with a question a moment later. A question that immediately set his conscience stinging.

"Do you know a brownish blonde-haired girl who was a friend of Pappy's?" he asked, "I mean, I saw her at the...funeral yesterday, and I never got to find out who she was."

This made Gerard smile a little bit. It was not a smile that reached his eyes, but the sadness lifted a bit from him.

"Oh HER..." he said with a strange expression, "I know her...kind of."

"Kind of?"

"Well, I've seen her..." Gerard admitted with a shrug, "She always used to hang around to him, laugh with him...she was always THERE..."


"But..." the lawyer said with a strange expression on his face, "I never seemed to see her face. Or hear her voice. It was like she was there, but not to me...but I saw her..." "You saw her."

"I saw her."

Xander raised an eyebrow, then seemed to shake the entire issue aside. His gaze moved from the lawyer to the two people who had walked in with him. They were sitting and waiting, and they looked slightly annoyed.

"We'd better move on, shouldn't we?"

"Yeah..." Gerard answered with a sheepish grin as he stepped away from Xander's chair and moved to his desk.

"The reading of the will..." said one who looked vaguely like his grandfather.

"Finally..." said the other, whose slightly annoyed look reminded him of his Uncle Rory.

This made Gerard give a snort of disgust (though he hid it as being a slight cough), but nonetheless, the lawyer opened up the envelope that had been sitting on his desk.

Immediately, Xander's ears were filled with legal jargon, much of which was completely unknown to him. It was like he was reading one of Giles' books. One of the really confusing ones that didn't even have pictures. But he did make out a few things...

"Five hundred thousand pounds to Julian Harris..."




"Hundred thousand to-"


Then Xander shook his head and started understanding. It was rather easy to understand the extremely upset looks on his relatives (he assumed they were his relatives), but he again got lost in the legal talk until he heard his parents come up.

"To Jonathon and Susan Harris, my nephew and niece in law respectively, I hereby leave 1 million pounds in various-"

Which immediately got the other two into a rampage which was in two stages. The first was anger (what the hell?) while the second was confusion (where did it all go?). They got the answer to the second question at least.

"And to my great-nephew, Alexander Lavelle Harris, I hereby leave the remainder of estate, what I estimate to be 12 million pounds, and the deed to Tueur Castle."

And it was at this point that Xander promptly fell off of his seat in a dead faint.


Xander looked up at the large castle with total awe.

And despite the pain he was feeling from his Pappy's death, only one theme would allow itself into his brain.

It's mine...

It's all mine...

Not my parents...

Mine and mine alone...

Followed by a short addition of:

And it's a castle...

This last thought made Xander let out a sigh of pure amazement for at least the second time that day. The first time had been when he had driven up to the large, slightly moldy, probably drafty, but still HIS castle. Driven by a driver. In a really nice car. Paid for by what was now HIS money.

It was completely mind-blowing for him.

He had money. Ten million pounds to be exact. Twelve million if he included all the stocks, bonds, etc that he didn't exactly understand and would probably have to hire an accountant to figure out.

What a thought that was. Hiring an accountant. Hiring anyone. Up till then, the only hiring he'd been involved in had involved him being the hiree, and usually a great deal of french fries.

But the money (which had completely driven his folks bonkers when he found out) was nothing compared to this gigantic, ancient building before him.

He owned a CASTLE!

Xander couldn't wait to tell Giles about it. The old Brit would probably drop his glasses when he heard. At least, that was what he had done when he had told them about the money over the phone.

Giles had dropped his glasses, Buffy had missed the training dummy, Willow had rocked back in her seat, and Anya had started listed what she wanted to buy, which had been a little upsetting to him in a way he couldn't quite describe. It had gotten worse when he'd heard her reaction over how he GOT the money.

"Why couldn't he have died sooner?"

But Xander didn't even want to think about any of that. He had a castle to deal with. And he wasn't going to let any tactless comment from his girlfriend mess that up.

So, moving slowly, Xander started walking toward the doors of the castle, feeling at the same time the pride of an owner and the embarrassment of an invader. His bags in his hands (he hadn't let money get him THAT spoiled), he made his way to the gigantic slabs of wood that served as an entryway to the first part of the castle.

He got there quick enough, then pushed open the large wooden doors easily. Xander figured there had to have been a lot of oil on the there for them to move so slowly, and even then, there had to have been some sort of weight system installed for them to move so nicely.

He thought over the mechanics of it as he crossed the courtyard and looked at another large door into the main part of the building.

Yet as he touched the door, he felt strange. He felt...almost like he knew this place. Knew the courtyard. For some reason he couldn't understand, it reminded him of the first time he had ever meet Buffy; complete shock complimented with a strange familiarity. But this was even more shocking. He knew this. And in a distant part of his mind, he could remember chickens being in that corner while small children played in the far corner. His mind's eye could see merchants near the gate, and a small party of nobles sitting near this door.

This door that felt so normal. This door that he could somehow remember going through a hundred times, a thousand times. And each time other than one time, he remembered, he had crossed it will love and joy in his heart. Love for his dearest, E-

"What?" Xander said out loud, completely confused. What had come over him? What had made him think those things, imagine those sights? And why had he felt so at home her?

But Xander had dealt with worse things then eerie feelings of déjà vu, and he quickly brushed it off, and opened the door.

Inside, the castle was as splendid as it had seen, though drafty as he had predicted. The walls were hung with pennants and various hangings, all of which were probably older that he could possibly imagine. Each one was hand crafted and gorgeous all by itself, but as a whole, the amazing colors that didn't seem faded at all on all of the tapestries seemed to blend into one long picture.

He looked at the first. It was of two young lovers, standing in a glade. The man, a tall, dark-haired youth, was wearing a dashing costume as he romanced his lady, and she, a brunette maiden in a glowing blue dress, seemed very happy to be romanced. Xander felt a glow of happiness around this picture.

The second was more turbulent. It pictured a battle, and what was strange was that the woman and the man were fighting. Their faces twisted in righteous anger, the two cut through not enemy foes, but demons and vampires all around. And as he saw it, something twisted in Xander's mind.

The third was another battle, but this one was sad. The lady was being carried away by an older man and a young woman, while the young lord lay dying on the ground. However, next to the man, dying like he, was a gigantic beast, one that clicked something in Xander's memory.

But it was like his feelings at the door. Almost unreal. Yet this time, they were so strong that he began to try and figure out what exactly was going on. But he was interrupted by a familiar voice (with an unfamiliar accent) and the sound of steps on the stairs.

"Hello! Are you him? I saw you the other day, but I didn't see your face as you didn't see mine, so I wasn't sure...but you're young Xander, right?"

Immediately Xander looked up to see flowing brown hair, just kissed with sun-yellow. The young woman from the service. It was her. It was her running down the steps to greet him.

Again, he didn't see her face as she came down, but what he saw of her body told him that she was well in shape and that she probably wouldn't be panting after the short run. However, nothing prepared him for what he saw when she finally slowed down.

Her face. Her face. Her face. Dear God, it couldn't be real. It couldn't be true. He'd just talked to her over the phone hours ago, where she had been happily working in Giles' house.

Buffy. It was Buffy.

Xander's eyes opened wide in shock, and then the young woman saw his face and got an equally amazed expression on her face. Her familiar eyes and mouth opened wide, then she screamed.



Then Xander fainted for the second time on his trip, and the young woman flew back up the stairs...


When Xander woke up a few minutes later, he had no idea why he had dropped.

Well, he did have an idea, but after, with no visible proof, the whole idea that had caused him to faint seemed silly.

Of course it hadn't been Buffy. It couldn't have been Buffy.

First off, Buffy was in the United States at the time, probably beating the living daylights out of her Watcher while training. Secondly, the voice had soundly slightly different from his Buffy. Thirdly, his Buffy had blonde hair, not brownish-blonde. And...and she had called him Alexander, which Buffy NEVER did. At least not when he wasn't in some SERIOUS trouble.

But he knew that he must have dropped his bags (and himself) to the floor for some reason, and so, with all the self-preservative instincts of a lemming, he went to go investigate.

"Hello?" he shouted loudly, his voice echoing throughout the large castle in a way he would have called 'cool' had he not already been freaked, "Anyone still here?"

As a return, he heard the sound of quiet sobbing from upstairs. Quiet, female sobbing.

So, acting on both his protect-the-damsel urgings and his curiosity, Xander left his things behind and began walking up the dank stone stairs.

As he walked, the sobbing got louder and louder, but what really caught his eye was the tapestries once more. They were too bright in contrast with the gray of the walls not to pull his eye, but as he looked at them again, Xander realized something.

The lord and the lady...they looked a familiar.

He hadn't been able to really see the faces from his angle at the floor, but now that he was more level with the work, he could see the features of the figures in the scenes, and they were truly startling in their resemblance.

The was Buffy...

Buffy, with dark hair and an olden-times dress, but it was the girl he loved who stared back at him from the tapestries.

And the lord? Well, at first, Xander had thought that he would look perhaps like Angel, or maybe Riley, but no. The figure was tall, with broad shoulders and a thin waist. His hair was clearly black instead of brown, and his eyes, though brown, seemed to glimmer with mischief and love. He could see it well. Especially since Xander knew the face.

It was the face Xander saw in the mirror every morning.

A little older, more scared, more aristocratic...but though Xander couldn't even begin to explain it, he had to admit that it looked like him.

But Xander had no time to contemplate the fact that he and Buffy were in tapestries older than the Slayer's old boyfriend because it was at that point that he heard the sobbing reach a high pitch that simply wrenched his heart.

Without his wanting to, Xander began to run toward the room where he had heard the crying in and, sans concern, he burst into the room to find the girl weeping her eyes out.

As he came in, the girl looked up to his face and he once again discovered that the young woman looked exactly like his Buffy. And apparently, his own appearance upset her because her eyes again widened, starting a whole new torrent of tears.

"What's...wrong?" Xander asked carefully, watching that he didn't touch her. He didn't want to offend her or anything.

The young girl didn't answer. All she did was cry, yet in the middle of her sobs, he could hear her repeating a single phrase, like a mantra.

"He's dead. He's dead. He's dead..."

This made Xander immediately conclude that she was mourning his uncle (though he couldn't even begin to guess how seeing his face had triggered THAT), so he, knowing that pain well since he was still experiencing it in the back of his mind, tried to comfort her.

"Don't worry about Pappy..." Xander said soothingly, sitting down on the small bed where he had found her, "He was an old man. And he had a really good life. I mean, I'm gonna miss him a lot, more than-"

"NO!" she cried, starting the weeping over again with renewed volume, "He's dead! You're not him! Why must you look like him when he is gone from me?"


"And I can't even," the girl continued, anger beginning to surface right next to the grief, "be with him! I can't even join him because of Hazel's good intentions! Oh damn all love to the depths of HELL!"

"Now, calm down now..." Xander said, trying to calm her down. He SO did not need a beautiful woman who looked a lot like Buffy to start flipping out in the middle of his castle. "And what seems to be the pro-"

It was this time that the girl seemed to figure out that he was there again, and she turned to him with a mixed look of happiness and sadness.

"Oh, look so much like him..." she said, now quiet and almost dreamily, "So much like my Alexander..."

Now Xander got a little freaked. Crazy lady saying that he looked like someone she knew, talking like that. A crazy lady who somehow knew his name. And he didn't even know her's...

But, as he looked at her, his own mind started pulling things out.

"Andra." He said for reasons he himself couldn't explain. Which was bad, since he expected he would have to the young woman sitting next to him on the bed. But instead of asking him what he was talking about, the young lady gave a gasp and jumped away from him.

"Dear God!" she cried as she scrambled back away from him. Then the young woman seemed to calm, and she gave him a scanning look.

"Is it really you, Alexander? My Alexander, is this truly the man I love so long ago?"

Looking at her (Andra, his mind said insistently), her eyes so full of trust and love, he hated saying what he had to. But he wasn't about to build up her hopes and then crush them.

"Look, I have no idea." He admitted, "My name is Alexander. Always has been, though most people call me Xander. And as for knowing you? I don't know what to say about that 'cause you look a hell of a lot like a friend of mine..."

"A...friend?" Andra asked, curious and just the slightest bit suspicious.

"Yeah...Buffy." Xander answered.

Then there was silence as the two thought over everything.

"But how did you know my name?" the young woman asked, the smallest glimmer of hope still in her eyes.

Xander shrugged. "I don't really know." He said, "It just sort of came to me. Seems to be happening to me a lot here..."

This made Andra's eyes open again in surprise. "Really?" she asked, her voice as desperate as if her life depended on his answer, "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean I keep on remembering things!" Xander answered, getting up from the bed with a frustrated sigh. How the hell did he get into this crap? "I mean, I go to the door, and as I'm looking around the courtyard, I suddenly remember a day at market there, with children and chicken and all that. I mean, the only chicken I've ever seen was at the zoo! Or that one time when Will's mom wanted to do things the 'organic' way...

"Then I walk in, and the tapestries set my head spinning...then you come, and I swear that you look exactly like Buffy...and I know your name is Andra!"

She just took it all in, a strange expression on her face.

"And I don't know WHY!"

And as he finished, Xander looked down to see Andra, her face shining so beautifully, Xander was sure he was going to cry. She looked so much like Buffy.

Xander felt his heart beginning to swell with caring about this girl that he knew so little about. This girl, Andra, who looked so very much like his Buffy, the one he had loved since first sight and, despite what she might have thought, he still did love.

And as he looked at Andra, he felt that same deep caring that he'd gotten right after falling off his skateboard. The same feeling that had made him ask...

May I have you?

But before he could figure out these feelings, she jumped up to hug him...

And passed right through his body...

Xander jumped back, immediately, and kept in a scream, barely.

"What the-"

"Oh..." Andra said, a sheepish grin on her face, "Sorry about that..."

"Sorry about-"

"About scaring you like that..." she continued as she wiped the tears off of her face, "Sometimes I forget I don't have a body."

Xander held back a rather biting barb about THAT, but he couldn't hold in the other comment.

"Well, I would think that being a ghost would sort of entail a lack of body, and it's rather hard to forget you're dead..." But he softened it a bit with, "but I forget some crazy things too at times."

This, for some reason, set Andra into a giggle fit which quickly puttered out. Yet, there was a smile on her face as she asked, "Who said I was dead?"

Xander's eyebrows rose at that statement. "Not dead?"

"Not dead." Andra repeated with an impish smile that was quickly making Xander fall in love with her for reasons he couldn't explain.

"So...then...what gives?" he asked, pacing around the small room nervously. Here he was, in Scotland, in HIS castle, sitting with a girl who looked exactly like Buffy that had no body but wasn't dead. Again, his mind screamed in frustration, how the hell did he get into these things?

The impish smile then changed, turning into an expression that told him she was thinking. But that only took a few moments, and then she began.

"You see, I'm not dead-"

"Got that..."

"Oh, shush, silly..." she told him playfully. And Andra did feel playful, for reasons she couldn't explain to herself but knew deep in her heart. Because she knew that she had been right the very first time she had seen him...

"I'm not dead", Andra repeated, "But my body is in a sort of deep trance which it is has been in for the last 500 years."

"Five hundred years!" Xander shouted in surprise. Well, there went the possible 'lost twin' theory he had been formulating about her resemblance to Buffy...

"Yes, five hundred years..." she said once more. "You see, um...I had a very strange job when I had a body, and-"

"You were a Slayer..." Xander told her as something clicked in his head. That was HER, not Buffy that had been pictured in the gigantic works. But that still left the question of who the dark- haired youth had been.

Her gasp confirmed what he had said. "How did you-"

"Tapestry outside..." Xander explained, pointing towards the main hall, "It has you and some other guy fighting vampires and demons off."

"My courageous Alexander..." she said dreamily before coming back to her mind and asking, "But how do you know about Slayers?"

The young man gave her a smile and sat on one of the small chairs in the room with a plop. "Good friend to one of them...used to be two, but she went crazy and tried to kill me..."

Andra looked about to gasp again, but then chose just to sigh. "First off, I don't know how there could be two, but I'll just go with it. At least you knowing about them will make all my explanations a great deal easier..."

"Yup." Xander said easily.

This earned Xander a rolling of her eyes and another grin, which made his heart warm. How was she having this effect on him? Why did he know about her? What the hell was going on? What the-

Oh, she started explaining...

"-and while I was never the most conventional Slayer, I did my job well. True, my beloved and my dear sister did know what I was, and often helped me in my battles-"

"Hazel." Xander said. He didn't know where the knowledge had come from, but he guessed it was right from the odd look she gave him.

"Yes, my sister Hazel." Andra repeated, "She was a practitioner of the Old Ways, and one of my dearest friends. And my Alexander, my brave warrior, was my White Knight....and why do you look like you are about to choke?"

Though it wasn't the finest switch of topic in the world, it was for a good reason because as Xander heard the words 'white knight', he had tried to say two things at once, which you can't do with one mouth. Therefore, he was now making choking sounds.

As soon as he stopped, she continued without asking what had happened, "Anyway, I worked very well until my 19th year of life, when I was attacked by a Jru'Atakri."

"A jew-what?" Xander asked, wondering if she knew how much that 'white knight' thing had freaked him.

"A Jru'Atakri..." she said once more, her voice soft with pain and something he couldn't identify, "A fearsome beast the size of a cabin..."

"And I'm guessing you didn't make it out of that one?" Xander asked gently, trying to rein in any and all sarcastic comments.

"Well, I did. In the middle of the fight, I was stabbed by one of the demon's tusks, which are poisonous, so Hazel and Miles-"

"Who's Miles?" Xander said, his mind already answering his question.

"My Watcher. Miles Rupert. He worked as a tutor at the castle for Alexander and myself, and he taught me far more than a girl in that time was supposed to know..."

"Good for him." He responded, unsure of what to say since this was getting REALLY weird.

"Anyway," Andra continued, "Hazel and Miles took me away from the fight, leaving Alexander to finish off the beast, which should have relatively simple..."

"But of course it wasn't." Xander stated, knowing those kind of situations far too well.

"Indeed." Andra said gravely, "As they carried me away, a band of vampires attacked, and Alexander, though one of the finest warriors in the land, could not beat them all."


"So, I was carried into the castle, and Hazel started the spell which would save my life from the poison. It was a sleep spell, which would gradually get rid of the poison in my body."


"But as she was working, she heard of the vampires, and not wanting me to be attacked in my sleep, laid another spell upon my unmoving body...

"I would sleep as long as it took to cleanse my body, never ageing and never dying from it. And I would not be awakened, nor found, unless it was my Alexander. Only he could find me, and only he could wake me..."

"But he died in the battle." Xander finished softly, feeling a deep compassion for this girl who had existed for so long with flesh.

"Yes. My Alexander died, and I could not go with him, for I couldn't die and no one could find me to kill me anyway. Even I cannot find my body. When my spirit finally broke free of the unmoving thing, I appeared in the main hall, near the tapestries."

"And you can't leave?"

"Oh, I can..." she told him, a slight tremor in her voice, "It takes a great effort, but I can leave the castle temporarily, such as I did to attend Ambrose's funeral."


"But I can't move on. I can't touch, I can't feel, I can't...but all that is over."

This took Xander by surprise. The change in tone and the words themselves.

"What?" Jeez, monosyllabic today, aren't we Xander? He thought, you're turning into Oz...

"Because my Alexander has returned here...returned here to finally find my body and be with me once more!"

Xander backed up in something that was half dread and half confusion.

"I know I'm saying this a lot today, but WHAT?!"

"You're Alexander..." she said again, as if it was the simplest thing in the world to believe that he was actually a 16th century warrior. "Reborn, and returned to me."

Xander's eyes opened wide at this statement, and he once more took a few steps toward the door.

"Alexander?" Andra asked quietly, sounding so lost and alone that the young man physically could not move. His heart broke as he heard that voice.


"Please don't leave..." she continued, getting up slowly from the bed, "Please? I know it must seem a lot to take in all at once, but...I know, in my heart, that it's true. I know that you're my Alexander, and I'm your Andra."

"No." he replied, even as the voice of truth in his mind said just the opposite. Though he was scared and nervous and confused, something within him knew that everything she said was true...and that he had to help her, or else.

He didn't know what that 'or else' was, but he knew that it would be unpleasant. Perhaps no unpleasant in the 'tortured to dead by a demon' way, or 'taking Calculus for life' way, but incomplete. Unwhole. Not right.

And this must have shown in his face because Andra's expression suddenly brightened, and she looked about to try and hug him again. Yet all she did was say, "Thank you."

"You're welcome..." Xander sighed tiredly. Then that something else in his mind took over for a moment and said, "Dearest God, I wish I could touch you..."

This made Andra get up off of the bed in a jump. True, she'd said it several times that night that Xander was truly the reincarnation of her Alexander, but there had been just the smallest bit of doubt, of fear of being wrong and so doomed to more time without a body. But this one statement, said in the same sleepy yet tired way she had heard for several happy years of her life, took all misgivings from her.

"Oh Alexander!" she cried, once again starting with tears.

"Oh, don't cry..." It was Xander again, but she didn't mind. She knew that they were one and the same. The only difference between the two of them was that one loved her with all his heart, and the other...she didn't know about Xander. He seemed rather confused.

"I won't." Andra said, stopping. Then she sat back down on the bed and patted the sheets in a friendly manner. "Come on, I won't bite."

Xander shrugged and sat next to her, sighing as he did. She gave him a Look, one that made her look almost like Buffy when he was goofing off too much, then said, "So, tell me about your life a little...I spilled for you, now you spill for me..."

This made Xander crane his body around to take a look at her, as if scanning her completely. He seemed full of questions, but finally asked only one.

"How can you talk like that? If you're from, like, the 1500's, how come you talk all normal and all?"

Andra giggled at his question. "What, do you think I've been staring at the walls all during the 500 years I've been here? I would have lost my mind by then!"


"Then, what did I do?" she asked for him, "Well, despite the fact that I was trying to find out about YOUR life, I'll answer you."


"So," she answered back, "Do you think you're the first person to see me? Of course not! I have befriended every person who has ever lived here. To some, I explained the truth, to others, I simply said I was a ghost. And each brought me into their world, their time...showing me the latest wonders physically or with books.

"Now, Ambrose was a true dear." Andra told him with a wistful smile, "He installed a TV, a library, and a computer (with DSL line) in the castle. And with those, he showed me the world."

At Xander's look of surprise, she laughed. "I'll show you those rooms later, but for now..."

"Oh yeah..." the young man said with a sheepish grin that, had he been feeling corny, would have been followed with 'awe shucks', "My life...well, that's a long and interesting story..."

"Really?" Andra asked, a bit skeptical.

Xander seemed about to be make a self-depreciating comment, but then changed his mind.

"Actually, yeah..." he said with a bit of pride in his voice.

"Really?" she asked again.

"Well," he said with what sounded like modesty, "Unless you consider hyena possession, the Harvest, nearly being turned into a fish, and making the entire female population (demons included) fall madly, and I mean MADLY, in love with me for Valentine's Day (among other things) boring, then...yeah."

Oh, Andra thought, it IS my Alexander! Then she sat and listened as he told her of his life...




"Pleeeeeeease!?" Andra wheedled from her seat on the couch, giving Xander the most devastating pair of Puppy-dog eyes that he'd ever been subject to.

"No, Andra..." he said with mock fatigue, "I will NOT turn on the TV and feed your addiction..."

"Oh, it's not an addiction!" Andra objected, "More of an interest...maybe an obsession..."

Xander rolled his eyes. "I knew I should have never let you watch 'Army of Darkness'..."


"Same thing happened to Buffy and Willow..." he continued, giving her a look out of the corner of his eyes, "They saw the movie with me and ended up with a Bruce Campbell addiction."

"It's not an addict-"

"Andra." Xander said with an upraised eyebrow, "You're watching 'Jack of All Trades'...there is a problem..."

"Fine." She admitted suddenly, "But if you DON'T turn on the TV, I'll sing 'Ninety-nine Bottles Of Beer On The Wall' as you TRY to get to sleep tonight!"

Xander gave her a Look. "No fair. You always use that threat."

She shrugged innocently, "One of the only things I CAN do..."

There was silence, and then Xander stepped over and turned on the TV just as the theme song came one. Andra, in a way that made Xander's heart twist, bopped along with the music like a twelve year old.

Dear God, she was beautiful. And funny. And smart. And interesting.

Simply amazing.

And as these thoughts passed through his mind, he admitted to himself what he had known that first night of conversation at the castle. He was head over heels in love with her. In love with a girl with no body...but not for long.

Ever since the third night sleeping at the castle, he'd had the dreams. Dreams of him walking around the castle. Stone walls, stone passages...he usually couldn't remember the majority of it when he woke up, but he wrote down what he did the second he got up. And this method was slowly showing him the way to Andra's long lost body.

But, he realized, what was going to happen when he found her body? This had him very confused. What would happen? Would she still enjoy his company when she then had the entire world to chose from? Would she find someone new and better then him? Just like Buffy had done...

Buffy. That was a name that invoked a great deal of confusion in him. Did he still love her like he had when he'd come there? Or had that soul-wrenching, never-ending love moved on? To Andra... He didn't know.

But to him, it seemed like they were the same person. Like loving Andra was the same as loving Buffy, and it wasn't because they looked the same. They were the same. Perhaps not the same jokes, and not the same words, but to him, it was the same heart behind those words and jokes. The same spirit in both of them. It was one of the reasons he'd been able to fall in love with hadn't felt like giving up on Buffy at all. More like seeing a different part of her. And this, he couldn't explain.

So, for now, he sat down next to Andra, put his mind away for a while, and began watching the anachronistic adventures of Jack Stiles...


Stone walls...tapestries. The tapestries. He knew those tapestries. They were the same at all times, never the past.

Then he began towards the stairs, but then turned to the other direction. That was odd...he'd always gone up the stairs... Yet now he walked down the hallway on the left, never too slowly or too fast. And as he did, he noticed a torch on the wall. It burned brightly in the darkness, yet all he did was pull on it and-

"Xander...Xander!" a voice called, and he turned away from the torch.

"Xander! You fell asleep..." Andra said as he woke up, his eyes opening slowly to look at her. There she lay, next to him on his bed. In front of them, the TV was on, showing The Matrix which he had bought that day for her to see. Yet all she was watching was him.


"You fell asleep..." Andra told him once again with a playful grin.

"I know."

Then hesitantly, she asked, "Do you remember anything?"

Xander shook his head. "Nah...nothing. Sorry..."

Andra shook her head too, but with a smile. "No problem."

It was then that he said something which shocked and delighted her. He, Xander, said it.

"Dear god, I wish I could touch you..." he whispered quietly, half hoping she hadn't heard him. Because if she had, it would complicate matters so badly...but it could make his life a million times better too.

Yet before she could tell him what she wanted to tell him, the phone rang. And Xander, without thinking of what he was perhaps wrecking, picked it up.

"You've reached Bob's Pizza..." Xander said with a smile, "Bob's not here right now, but his assistant Xander would be happy to take your order!"

Andra giggled slightly at his joke, even though she had seen him do the same sort of thing for every phone call in his two months there. Yet her laughing stopped as she saw his face change from laughing to upset and from upset to angry.

"Look, Anya!" he shouted, "I'm trying to get her body back. No, don't argue with me. No. Don't you! I refuse to fight with you over this. I'll be back soon! You can live without sex for that! I am NOT! Fine. Fine. Good. Goodbye."

And with this, Xander slammed the phone down on the receiver, nearly cracking the plastic of the thing. Yet he didn't seem to care as he sighed tiredly and put his head into his hands.

"Dear god..."

"What's wrong?" Andra asked urgently, pulling herself into a sitting position like he was in, "What happened? Was that what I think it-"

"Yes, Andra..." he said, the fatigue and pain clear in his voice, "I just broke up with my girlfriend over the phone. Just told her no. No more."

Then, "Dear God..."

Andra looked at him, then nearly cried. She wanted to comfort him. She wanted to hold him to her and let him put his grief on her shoulders. God, how she now wanted to touch him. And it hurt so badly that she couldn't. Andra felt her heart lurch as she realized once more that all she could do was talk. That she didn't have the luxury of a loving touch. So she did the best she could.

"I'm sorry, Xander..."

He pulled his head from his hands and looked her full in the face. Then that face went from pained to loving.

"I know, Andra. I know..."


"Thank you, Andra..."

She wanted to say something else, but understood what she needed to say.

"You're welcome, Xander..."


Xander was walking around the main hallway of the castle, his eyes searching. It seemed misty in the castle, which itself seemed different. Younger, less decrepit. And he felt strange.

His pants, usually so baggy and loose, were tight. And his clothing in general seemed far too heavy and gaudy for him. But that wasn't what concerned him. What concerned him was the hallway. The left hallway.

He made his way to the hall, his steps echoing in the empty castle. Then he began to walk down the path, stopping halfway down to look at a torch.

There was nothing strange about his torch. It was burning just as bright as the others and looked just as dusty and neglected. But something in his mind told him that this was a very special torch.

Almost unbidden, his hand rose up and took the torch, pulling it down. However, instead of breaking, the torch moved like a lever, and it opened a-

A bell? A trilling bell? What on earth? Xander turned around and around, looking for the cause of the strange sound.

And found himself sitting in his bed, watching the old telephone shake as it's ringer went off. Sleepily, with just a hint of aggravation, Xander took a hold of the receiver and pulled it to his ear.

"Hi Xander!" came a cheery voice from the other side of the Atlantic, "how you doing?"

"Well..." he told her with just a hint of irritation in his voice, "Sleeping would be WHAT I was doing, but that is the past and this is the present, and at present, I'm talking to you."

"Sleeping?" the Slayer asked, nonplussed, "At this time?"

Xander sighed in deeply, and made a very admirable effort not to scream. Luckily, the effort succeeded, and he just said, "Yes. Remember? Time difference? I'm in Scotland, where it is currently"

He looked at the clock on his bedside.

"Two in the morning..."

"Oh." came the response from Buffy that practically dripped embarrassment, "Sorry."

Xander smiled to himself, and hoped that she could sense it. "No problem, Buffster. I don't mind getting up for my favorite gal..."

"But what about-"

There was silence.

"Sorry, Xander..." she said, not finishing the very insensitive thing she had been about to say, "I-"

"It's all right..." Xander assured her as he turned onto his back in the bed, "It was coming. Just so happened that it was then."


"So," Xander said, his voice jovial as he switched the topic, "What's up with you guys? Killing extra baddies for me?"

"Or course..." Buffy told him with what he could hear was a smile, "But it's tough without 'key-guy'...when are you coming home?"

"When I do..." he answered truthfully, no emotion in his voice. He didn't really want to get into why he was staying. She knew, and he didn't want to discuss it. It was rather uncomfortable for him due to his confused feelings concerning Andra and Buffy. "I'm trying, but...I keep on forgetting."

Then he switched the topic once more. "So, what's new with you folks? You didn't answer the first time..."

"Well," she said, obviously thinking about it, "Not much. No near- apocalyptic battles, no spells-gone-wrong, no evil government agencies springing up...been pretty quiet. You?"

"Hanging out with Andra, mostly..." Xander admitted, "Who has gotten the predicted Bruce Campbell addiction..."

"Ah, a kindred spirit to me and Willow..." Buffy said with a laugh, "I can't wait to meet her. From what you've said, seems like we'd get along great!"

Yeah, like you're almost the same person, Xander thought.

"Yeah, Buff." He agreed, "I'm sure you would. And I'll make a point of bringing her back when she has a body."


Suddenly, Xander felt a familiar presence in the room and wanted to hang up. So, sounding sleepier than he actually was, he said:

"Well, I'll see ya, Buffster...I'm gonna go back to sleep now. I'll call you back when the sun is up, 'k?"

"Sure, Xander..." she responded good-naturedly, "And I'll tell the gang you said hello..."

"Sure. See ya, Buffs..."


And then he hung up the phone and turned to Andra, who was standing a few feet away from him near the doorway.

"You were talking to her, weren't you?" she asked carefully, walking further into the room.

Xander nodded.

"Buffy?" Andra continued, "The one who...the one like me."

Xander again nodded.

Andra nodded to herself for a moment, then made her way farther into the room. Eventually, she ended up in front of Xander, who had a rather odd expression on his face.

" her?"

Once more, he nodded his head.

" love with her?" Andra asked, keeping as much emotion out of the question as she could.

This one Xander didn't answer, which made Andra nervous. He stayed silent and still like that for a minute, but just as she was about to ask again, Xander flopped backwards onto the bed and sighed out three words.

"I don't know."

At this point, Andra sat down on the bed next to him, but she didn't say a word.

"I mean, I honestly can't tell you how I feel because I don't know myself." Xander admitted, "When I came here, I was...well, I'd loved Buffy since the first moment I saw her. More like I was finding her again instead of meeting her for the first time.

"And, despite the fact that she CLEARLY didn't feel the same way about me, I continued to love her. I mean, I was practically her the all-the-jobs-but-none-of-the-perks way, but never did she ever see me as more. Yet, I couldn't STOP loving her.

"Then Pappy dies, leaves me this place, and I find you. And you look exactly like her, and the second I saw your face, it was like that again, like meeting up with someone I'd known forever and just temporarily lost.

"During these months, I've grown to love you, but I can't say I don't love Buffy. You see, that's what confuses me. feels the same to love you both. Like you're the same person. It doesn't have anything to do with the resemblance, but..."

Xander took a deep breath.

"But it's almost as if you're two halves of a whole."

There was silence in the room as Xander finished, and during this time, Andra simply started into his chocolate brown eyes, as if looking for the answer there since he couldn't seem to express it with his words. Yet as she searched his soul through those eyes, she knew that what he was saying was the truth. And that she might just have the answer to all his confusion.

"Perhaps..." Andra said slowly with a sigh, "We are..."

Xander shook his head to clear it, then asked, "What?"

"Two parts of a whole..." she continued, getting up and walking around, "I mean, if what I think-"

"What do you think?" Xander asked anxiously.

"Well," Andra said slowly, unsure of what she was saying and wishing she was so as to end his confusion, "I think that just as you are the reincarnation of my Alexander, Buffy is the reincarnation of me..."

Xander shook his head. "But that can't be. You're not dead."

"But a part of me has to be!" Andra cried, trying to work it out in her own head, "I don't know how, but part of me must have moved on!"

He looked about to argue, then paused for a moment. Then, Xander asked, "Why do you think that?"

"Otherwise..." she said logically, "How could another Slayer have been called? Somehow, the Watcher's Council must have found a way to kill a part of me...just enough to call another Slayer-"

"Like how Buffy died and called Kendra..." Xander finished slowly as the cogs in his own mind worked through what she had said, "So that means..."

"That Buffy and I are the same person, the same of a whole..."

"And?" Xander asked, realizing as he did what she was about to say.

"That probably, when I do find my body, I will be incomplete."

There was silence, and then she ended.

"And so, I will die..."

Xander's answer to this was simple, heartfelt, and passionate.


"What do you-"

"I mean," he said, the anger and fear in his voice strong, "NO."

"No?" she asked, running over to him, "What can you-"

"No." was all he said in a mantra-like way as he picked up the phone and began dialing, "No. No. No. No."

Each 'no' was punctuated by a stab at that phone, but he didn't stop when he heard ringing, and just barely stopped when Giles picked up the other end.

"Hello. Giles' residence. How may I-"

"Have you ever heard of a Slayer left alive in a castle?" Xander asked quickly.

"A Slayer left- why do a castle? Xander?" the Watcher asked in confusion. He had no idea where the young man was going with all of this.

"Yes, a Slayer left alive...entombed, but alive...unfindable. Have you heard of one? And do you know how they called the next Slayer since she was still alive?"

There was a pause, and Xander could hear the turning of pages over the phone line. Giles' voice came back then, still confused.

"Yes, there is a record of a young woman that was hidden in a castle by a witch...supposedly her sister, from what this says. But what does that have to do with anything?"

"Andra." Xander said simply.

"Andra?" Giles asked, completely lost. "What would a ghost have to do with all of this?"

Xander nearly slammed the phone on the floor with aggravation. "No, she's not DEAD. I thought I explained all of this!"

There was a pause as if the other was trying to silently explain that he HADN'T been told, then the Watcher asked, "So...she is truly not dead?"


"Well," Giles answered with a strange note to his voice, "Then I am guessing that she is the young Slayer left in the castle, correct?"

"Yes..." Xander said, calming down as much as he could. And that wasn't much, since he was very upset. To think, Andra, a beautiful, wonderful girl, would die just as she got her first chance in centuries to touch and feel and taste. That Andra, the girl he had fallen in love with during long nights of talking in the castle, midday picnics on the castle grounds, and the occasional stroll in the nearby village was going to die...he just wanted to strangle whatever powers controlled things like this.

"Then...I am unsure." Giles told him plainly. He wasn't going to lie to the boy, not when he was so obviously emotionally involved, "I don't really know what they did to call the next Slayer after her. All it reads here is that they 'killed her in the eyes of Fate' which could mean a variety of things."

"Give me the 'variety', G-man..." Xander said, barely restraining himself. Didn't the Watcher understand how important this was?

"That would take at least a day and a half, cost you a fortune in phone bills, and likely not get us anywhere." The former librarian told him tiredly, "But since I am unfamiliar with the entire situation, it would help things greatly if you told me all that YOU know. What you have told me so far over the last months has been pitifully of the reasons I thought your Andra was a simple ghost."

So Xander, calming down only slightly, began to tell the Watcher about the tapestries, the dreams, the strange familiarity with the castle, and Andra's theories. And the Watcher listened carefully, giving the occasional 'hmm' as he heard something he had missed from Xander's earlier calls.

Finally, there was a pause as Giles thought over everything that had been told to him. Then, with a fatigue to his voice that told Xander he was truly upset about what he was about to say, Giles told him, "I have no idea what they did...but I suspect that Andra is correct."

"No." Xander said as the fear and rage built again. "No! I'll go down to the Watcher's Council myself! I'll go and MAKE them tell me! I don't care how...I'll blackmail them...yeah, I'll tell the world about vampires and stuff if they don't!"

As he angrily shouted into the phone, he could almost feel the spiritual hands that were attempting to comfort him. He also heard the calm, soft voice in his ear.

"Xander..." Andra told him gently, "Don't shout. There's no need. Please, dear, don't get upset..."

Xander, tears starting in his eyes, turned away from her into the phone and asked in a trembling voice, "Giles? Is there any hope that she'll live when I find her body?"

"There is a-"


"A hope..." the Watcher told him, "But just a hope. In all likely hood, though, she will die when her body is found."

There was silence as both parties thought over what had just been said, then Xander told Giles something strange.

"Fine. Please tell Buffy and Willow that they won't be able to meet Andra, and that I'll be coming home really soon, okay?" the young man said tersely, his emotions firmly reigned in, "Bye, G-man..."


"BYE, Giles..." Xander said patiently. But he couldn't hide his anger enough not to slam the phone into it's receiver. Nor could he hide it any longer, because as soon as the phone was put down, he collapsed on the bed. Andra, carefully so as not to upset him further, sat down on the bed next to him.

"Xander?" she asked gently, wishing she could hold him in her arms and make him feel better. But now, she knew, there was a chance she'd never be able to do that.

He waited a second before answering, then got up slowly and calmly, looked into her eyes and said, "I'm not looking any more."

"You're not-"

"I'm not looking for your body anymore..." Xander told her clearly as he wiped tears off of his face, "In fact, I'm leaving the castle."


"If I stay..." Xander said, his voice that same quiet, calm tone that told her he was near tears again, "I'll continue to have dreams...and I'll find your body without wanting to. And I won't find you just for you to die."

"But, Xander-"

"NO!" the young man shouted, the tears starting up again as his walls broke down, "I am not going to kill you!"

And with this he got up and went running out of the room. Andra followed him as he stomped into the hallway.





Finally, she got in front of him, her expression just daring him to walk through her. He didn't.


"No, I'm not going to-"

"NO!" Andra shouted back, "I am not a child. I was 19 when I ended up like this, and I've been alive for the last five hundred years! You will NOT treat me like a child, and you will NOT make a decision for me!"

"It's not your decision..." Xander told her firmly, "It's mine. And I DECIDE to leave."

"NO YOU DON'T, ALEXANDER!" she screamed, "It's mine. I'm the person whose been here for five hundred years! I'm the person whose had to live without flesh, without being able to taste or feel. I'm the person whose been waiting for five centuries for my love, the one who would finally find my body.

"And to be perfectly honest, even if I die when my body is found, I know that I will be with my Alexander. And that will be better than sitting in this God-forsaken castle for the rest of eternity!"

"But Andra-"

"No, Xander..." she said, now much more quiet, "I...I'm sick of doing this. I'm sick of living like this. Sick of not being able to comfort. I don't want this. I'd rather die then face another century of this."

"!" Xander said like a small child who was attempting to scare off the boogeyman, "No..."

Then he ran down the steps, grabbed his coat from a hanger in the main hall, and made his way down the left hallway, at the end of which was his newly bought car (German made, of course). But as he tried to get his coat on AND walk, the coat got caught on one of the torch-holders.

Yet instead of simply ripping the jacket, the torch-holder pulled down, with a very disturbing result...

As Andra and Xander watched, a section of the wall moved aside, revealing a small narrow stone passage...

Almost immediately, Xander grabbed the torch forcefully and tried to push it back into place, as if to undo what had been done. But after a few moments of futile shoving, he realized that what had happened couldn't be changed.

"Dear God..." Andra gasped in shock, "I never guessed...I never realized. Of all the-"

"You weren't supposed to." Xander said tiredly, upset at himself, "Only I could find the damned thing, remember?"

This earned him an icy look from Andra, but as she took in his sadness, her eyes softened to him, as did her voice.

"Xander..." she said quietly, "My body is down there. It's down there."

"I know."

"And I intend to go find it."

"I know."

"And..." Andra said with just a hint of pleading in her voice, "I want you to come with me."

Xander seemed about to answer, but stopped himself for a moment. Then his mouth opened, as if to refuse her, but instead just let out a fatigued sigh.


And with this, the two started walking down the tunnel, Andra following Xander through the small stone passageway.

He hated it. He didn't want to do this...he didn't want to kill Andra, even if she did want it. He just couldn't help her end her life, no matter how long it was. And so as they walked, time seemed to distort itself as the minutes passed eagerly like seconds, until they reached a large room at the end of the hall.

It wasn't majestic, or well kept. It wasn't the sort of room you expected to find an enchanted maiden (for that WAS what Andra was even if it did sound like some cheesy fairy tale) in, but rather just a large stonewalled room with a stone block in the middle of it.

Behind him, he heard Andra gasp once more, but Xander couldn't bring himself to look at the block or what was on top of it. He wouldn't allow himself to see Andra, in the flesh, because otherwise he'd go mad with the knowledge that she'd have the much-longed for flesh for so very short a time. But eventually, he had to look, and it took his breath away as well.

There, lying on the large gray stone, was Andra.

Her body wore a strange piece of clothing that looked almost like a dress but with a very short skirt, obviously for fighting. It was made of dark blue cloth that probably blended with the night, and in one spot near the hip was a rip.

It was small and had a small circle of dried blood around it, but from the size of it, Xander figured that had it not contained poison, it would have been a harmless cut for a Slayer to take. It had, in fact, healed over, and through the rip, Xander could see flawless creamy skin that he very much longed to touch but wouldn't.

His eyes stayed there for a moment, unwilling to move up to see the face of the figure out of pure denial, but finally Xander found the courage to look at the face. And what he saw, though so familiar, brought tears to his eyes.

That same face he had looked into for five years. Those same eyes that he'd looked into so many times, though they were now closed. The same cheek he longed to stroke with one of his fingers. The same lips, and nose, and face. Brown hair that he had often wished to run his fingers through. And as he saw all of this, he couldn't help the slight tear that fell from his face.

Roughly, Xander wiped the tear off of his face. What was wrong with him? He barely ever showed his emotions, and he never cried, yet in the past few months, he had done both so often it had become almost as natural as his old 'make jokes, it'll go away' method. But he wouldn't be weak now. He couldn't.

"Andra?" he asked carefully, pulling himself from his thoughts long enough to wonder if she had already killed herself.

"Yeah?" she answered, finally walking past him towards the body, "I'm still here..."

"Just checking..." he covered as he watched her circle her sleeping form.

"Dear was so long ago..." Andra said with a strange note to her voice, "So long ago that I had a body...that I could touch and feel. That I could fight. I just want to jump right in."

"Please don't." Xander asked her quietly.

"Well," she said, continuing to circle, "It's a trade, isn't it? One moment of being able to hold you in my arms again, or going on like this, with you till you die, but never able to touch."

"Tough choice." Xander said succinctly.

"I thought so too..." Andra said, still with the circling, "But then I remembered something..."

"What?" he asked, thinking that perhaps she had decided not to rejoin with her flesh.

And then, without warning, she jumped into her body.

It was like an animatronic doll come to life as Andra's body lifted up from the block of stone. A beautiful porcelain doll. He watched in awe and something very near horror as she shook her head to clear it, then turned beautiful hazel eyes to him.

"Xander, I-"

But almost immediately, she was cut off as body-wracking coughs went through her, zapping her strength and making her lie back down on the slab. Xander, frightened out of his mind at the thought of losing her, ran quickly to the stone and caught her before she hit her head on the hard rock.

"Andra, I-"

"Shhhhh..." she told him quietly, pressing her finger onto his lips gently before coughing violently once more, "None of that. We both knew this was coming. I don't want any tears or regrets..."

The words she spoke were so similar to what his Pappy had told him that Xander could not help the tear that fell down his face and onto her dress.

"But Andra, I-"

"Shhhh..." Andra told him again as she gave him a light peck on the cheek, "I don't have the breath to waste to argue with you, as you can tell. But I need to let you know some things before the inevitable happens..."


"That I love you." She told him just before letting loose with another cough, "I love you so much that I can't even feel the pain right now. All I can feel is your arms around me..."

"I love you too..." Xander said as he continued to hold her, the tears forming in his eyes yet not falling. He wouldn't fail her again. He wouldn't cry. He'd be strong for her when she needed it.

"My dear Alexander..." Andra said dreamily, "You DO love me, I know. You do. And my love for you is what truly kept me here, I think. For that, I know, is the part of my soul that the Watcher's could never ever take."

"Never." Xander repeated quietly before he braced himself just in time for another coughing fit.

"There's something else I must tell you." Andra continued, this time her face serious as what was facing her in mere minutes.

Xander waited, then watched as her lips curled into a gentle smile. A gentle smile with warmth that made the young man's heart pound. Then those lips reached up and met his own, and it seemed almost as if electricity was passing through the both of them. As if they could both fly. As if...the kiss was everything Xander had ever dreamed it would be, even though she was as weak as a kitten. Yet as she pulled away, she said something with her final breath that he'd never expected.

"You can't get rid of me this easily..."


Xander grabbed his bags from the compartments above his seat, and began the noisy and arduous process of getting off the plane. It had been a long trip back, and it wasn't completely the airplane that was to blame.

He'd been thinking on the flight, thinking on all that had happened in that castle in Scotland. All the wonderful things, all the glorious things, all the heart-breaking things.

All his times with Andra. And even as he thought of the picnics, the nights of watching movies together, the days of going out shopping, he could not take one moment out of him mind.

The moment of her death. They had kissed, then she had spoken her strange words, and then she had died. That moment he could remember clearest of all, that strange half-second as he felt all the life, all the emotion, all the love, all the things that made her Andra and not just a heap of flesh, drain out of her. That moment when she had left him.

He almost couldn't forgive her for that. For jumping into her body without warning, for not giving him a chance to say his goodbyes. For leaving him.

But it was Andra, and he had loved her with all of his heart and soul, and so he could forgive. He could forgive, because she had given him so much. She had given him love, and caring, and confidence, and a shoulder to cry on, even if he couldn't actually cry on her shoulder. But most of all, Andra had given him the knowledge that he was lovable.

Sure, he'd had other girlfriends, but those relationships had been nothing more than lust. They had had lust for him, but never love. Cordelia had come close, but that door had been shut by him far too soon for anything to come of it. And Anya had had some caring for him, but Xander knew that lust had driven that relationship.

The throng behind him on the plane, however, jostled Xander's thoughts out of him, and realizing that he needed to get out of there, he quickly made his way out as soon as possible after that.

As he got out of the gate, Xander began looking for Buffy and Mrs. Summers, who were his ride home. Sure, he could have hired a cab or a limo, but he wasn't going to let the money change him. That, and he really needed to have people who cared about him around him to ease the pain a little.

Finally, he spotted Buffy and her mother over in the corner of the waiting area, and quickly walked over there. As soon as he got there, Xander dropped his bags and gave Mrs. Summers a big hug.

"'s so nice to see you home!" the elder Summers told him with a bright smile on her face. But that smile quickly faded to a look of compassion. "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry..."

Xander shook his head. "It's all right. I' okay."

"I'm sure you will, Xandman!" Buffy said cheerfully as she picked up his little bags, "And welcome back to the good old US of A!"

Mrs. Summers, her eyes wide in shock, gave Buffy a chilling look for her seeming insensitivity. But Buffy didn't seem to take notice. She just smiled and gave Xander a quick hug.

"Good to see you back, 'key guy'..." she said, a smile on her face. And Xander, like he always did, hide his pain and smiled at her.

"Good-" his voice cracked, "Good to be back, Buffster..."

"Great!" Buffy's mom went along with the whole cheerful thing, figuring that was how he dealt with pain. "Let's go get your bags, okay dear?"

"Sure, Mrs. S..." Xander responded as he began walking toward the bag pickup. He was moving quickly as he did, so he began to get ahead of the Summers women, but Buffy wouldn't let him go and caught up quickly.

"So, Xander, how'd things go?" Buffy asked, a strange note in her voice.

"Great..." he responded, hearing the sarcasm in his voice and wishing it wasn't there.

"Just wonderful..." It was then that Buffy stepped in front of him and turned around to face him. He stopped in his tracks.

"Don't lie to me, Xander..." she said in that same strange tone.

"Leave me alone, Buffy..." Xander told her, trying to go by her to get his bags.

But he was frozen by what she said next.

"Cause if you do, I'll sing you 'Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall' while you're trying to sleep..."

Xander, too startled to even utter a word, turned and looked at her, shock plainly written on his features. She just smiled back.

"Andra?" he finally got out as he stepped back to look at her. Same Buffy as always, but now the eyes held a bizarre twinkle in them that they hadn't had before.

"One and the same..." she answered cheerily, "Finally."

"Andra!?" Xander asked in disbelief and confusion. Dear God, could it be so? He prayed it was so.

"Yup," she said, her voice now soft and caring, "It's me,'s really me."

"'re Buffy!" he pointed out, his shocked brain not quite working right, "You didn't possess Buffy, did you?"

This made her grin. "No, Xander...I didn't possess anybody. Don't you understand? It's just like you said! We were two halves of a person. And when I died, the two halves met up again."

"'re Buffy AND Andra?" he asked, happier than he'd ever been in his entire life.

"Yes, Xander..." she answered, "I'm whole now." This made Xander immediately jump over and hug her tightly. Andra wasn't dead! Andra wasn't dead! his mind screamed. Then he went to kiss her, but stopped inches from her lips. He didn't know if-

"Xander, you really don't get this do you?" Buffy/Andra said with a grin, "I was right. The part of my soul that knew you to be my love, my soulmate, was in that castle. That's why I never...that's why I could never find the right guy to love, because my ability to love the way I was supposed to was stuck.

"But now I know. Now, I can love like I've always wanted to love. Not like I loved Angel or Riley, but TRUE love. And my true love is you, Xander. My you..."

Xander didn't even go for more questions. He just kissed her for all he was worth. Kissed her passionately, and tenderly, and hungrily. Kissed her like he'd been waiting centuries to do it, which perhaps he had. And she kissed him back, and it was more amazing that anything the two of them had ever felt. It was perfect. It made everything right with the world.

"Xander, I love you..." she said after pulling back for air.

"Buffy, I-" he began, then laughed, "Man, I don't even know what to call you."

"Call me 'your dearest' then..." she told him with a loving smile.

"All right, my dearest, but what do I call you otherwise?"

"Buffy Anne Summers should work" she replied with a short giggle.

"Well then, my dearest Buffy Anne Summers," he said with a flourish and a bright smile, "I love you too..."

The End