The Kel'rat'ee

Author: Daenerys <mwalthew[at]>

Rating: R

Spoilers Possibly

Authors Notes: Some changes to the basic storyline. Nothing with the first has come about. The gang has defeated Glory, but not with the death of Buffy. Spike knocked Doc off the tower, where Xander killed him, but lost his left eye in the porocess. He then left Sunnydale for an undetermined time, not able to handle the sympathy that the others were drowning him in.

Chapter 1

Peter's Drinking Club

The opening of the door had every inhabitant in the bar freeze for an almost unnoticeable second. Within that time a good half of the customers, turned back to what they were doing before this interuption, having determined in that barest flicker of time that the newcomer was human, and therefore harmless. Of the remaining fifty percent, the vast majority did the same as his features become visible. While he seemed relatively fit, his youthful features dismissed him, an innocent look to his eyes, that seemed to widen slightly at the sight of the various species represented. Of a room of approximately seventy people, only three continued to watch. They were the professionals, who didn't believe that any of these factors had anything to do with the truth.

One was a Bracken, not a warrior, but who had been hunted by almost everything and everyone in existence. A survivor, who lived through seeing what others did not. He had seen too many of his family and friends die to believe anything about anyone. He sat alone, his back to the wall and his face to the door and everyone else in the dwelling. The peculiar thing was that for him he was relaxed. As well as the many anti-violence spells on the bar, the owner was known to become . . . displeased, when anything untoward happened where business was concerned. Entire cities were known to have dissapeared when he was annoyed, and the fall of Atlantis was rumored to have happened as a result of him becoming truly irritated.

The second of the wary was, oddly enough, a vampire. Unlike the majority of his breed, his turning and age hadn't turned him either stupid or mad. Despite his age, having watched when the carpenter from Nazereth was erected on a cross, he still believed that it paid to be wary, and that overconfidence could kill, even for one as powerful as he was. Stakes would shatter on his skin. The Japanese swordmaster Masamune had wept when a sword he made broke instead of decapitating the vampire, and he could stand outside in broad daylight for an hour before getting anything more than a tan. Nevertheless, he was cautious, and it was this trait that led to him having these abilities that came with age. He noticed the signs like the cross that glintedfrom beneath the strangers shirt as he stepped fully into the light, the way his coat hung, showing a blade of at least 12 inches down his spine, and the heavier tread than normal that signified something in this mans boots, that added a great deal of weight. The vampire disappeared as the man approached the bar the instant he saw the tattoo that flickered for barely a mili-second when he hung his coat up, showing a dagger sheathed in a figure eight. If put on its side it became the symbol for eternity, and he knew what that meant.

The third was a human that, as the saying has it, when staring into the abyss, found that it did indeed stare back, and that that was not a good thing. He was a minor mage, with power not that much greater than a normal humans when it came to affecting the world around him. When it came to himself however, his power was unparralled. He could affect his strength, speed, endurance and almost anything else you could think of. He had dimmed his power over other elements purposely, save for a few simple missile spells, in order to immerse the rest of himself in magic. He was an enigma, that not even he understood anymore. When you gain a certain amount of skill and power, you start to exude a sense of a predator. Later, you learn to hide it again, but he could read those signs, being an expert in their use. He leaned back, confident that he could escape if anything went wrong, being able to travel at speeds greater than the speed of light, where even bariers become irrelevant.

For the moment the only other person who paid any attention to this newcomer was the barman. He waited as the young man approached.

"You pay for your drinks anytime. Don't pay, you are the drinks for the rest of these here." He motioned toward the room in general.

The young man smiled, seemingly harmlessly. The bracken chose this moment to leave, thinking that anything with such a friendly and innocent expression must be easily capable of extreme violence.

"Martini, shaken not stirred." The mage rose, flipped a roll of notes onto the counter top and left. "Actually, I'll have a Scotch."

"I'll assume your'e not a ghoul. Alcohol, not blood right?" The man smiled, his brown eyes twinkling with mirth as he inclined his head in agreement.

"It's not often a human comes in here. What is it that lead you to this place."

"Information. I'm looking for someone."

"Let me guess, some girl you know dissapeared, you discovered that demons exist, and now you're looking for revenge."

The brown covered head shook slowly. "I'm looking for a man, named Alexander Lavelle Harris, calls himself Xander. Hangs out with the slayer usually, but seems to have taken a vacation. My company is interested in him. Where is he?"

The barman burst into laughter. "You're company huh? And just what is that. The society of boyscouts? Vamp food anonymous? Try another one kid."

"The Kel'rat'ee."

What had seconds before been a teeming bar was suddenly empty. Tables were overturned, drinks shattered, and the door was swinging from the mass exit the customers had made. Not a single demon remained in the bar, seen or unseen, excepting the barman, who had gone a sudden pearl green in fear, and had backed as far away as the counter would allow him from the man before him.

"Now, I was wanting some information." There was a slight whisper as a slender blade appeared in the young mans hand, seeming to toy with it.

The door opened, and the young man stepped out into the night. Word had passed before him, and the streets were utterly deserted, leaving no-one of any species behind. He sheathed the dagger he had drawn in the bar and pulled out a cell phone. He pressed a button then lifted it.

"I know where he's going, and am following. Send the usual package to the LA airport, box 1734. Corytar."

He stepped onto a motorcycle that was parked to the side of the bar, and drove off toward the highway. Leaving only the sound of papers flapping in the wind behind him.

Chapter 2

Xander Harris watched silently from the rooftops, making sure that his fellow workers made their way safely to the nearby apartments. Oxnard was not a large town, and while stripping paid well, there were few places where they were accepted readily. As a result, most lived close together, making this an easier task than he had expected than when he first started. The rest of the scoobies, back in Sunnydale, may once have laughed at the thought of Xander Harris, the Zeppo, doing this, telling him to go home, and leave others to do this job.

Things had changed.

Doc, fallen from the tower by Spike, had headed toward it again, and had been met by Xander. In the first few moments of the fight, Doc had slashed toward Xander's face. It had caught him by the eye, and Doc had thought that the fight was over. It was, but not the way he thought it had. Many believe in a state called animal instinct, where human sensibilities and training is lost, leaving something that only reacts according to animal like beliefs. Against most trained fighters, this is no worry, in fact they appreciate it when an opponent hits it, because they lose all semblance of tachnique or skill. Xander however, did not have the standard primitive instincts that 99% of humans share. He reverted to the Hyena. And the soldier. Doc stood no chance. After the battle, Xander had confided in Giles that his possesions had returned, as everyone else had been concentrating on the fight with Glory. Then he had left, intending to wait until he could be sure within himself that they would not prove dangerous to his friends. With the loss of his eye, there was not much arguing from the others when he left for his second road trip. Anya had left him, claiming that with only one eye, he would not be able to provide hard green cash, and was therefore not worthy of marrying.

He had not intended to stay long in Oxnard, only stopping in fact for his memories. He had stepped in when Josie, a stripper he had gotten to know at the local strip club, had been attacked by vampires. Even with only one eye, his increased strength and speed, courtesy of the Hyena, combined with a minimum of the slodiers hand to hand combat lessons, had meant the fight was short. His original ten minute stop had now stretched into its third week, as his talk with Josie, who took him back to the 'Fabulous Ladies', had led to a job, not as a stripper, as the scar leading to his eye would not help him on stage, but as a barman cross bouncer. Very few people continued to make trouble when they came face to face with a grim man, eyepatch and three inch scarleading down his face. His clothes also became darker to fit this persona. Gone were bright colours, as much for the hunting later at night, replaced most usually by black jeans, and a dark grey shirt. He cursed having to wear an overcoat as well, thinking he would start to look like an Angel or Spike clone. It was necessary however in order to hide the various weapons hidden therein, and while it did increase his image as a dangerous person, he still didn't resemble the vampires in anything more than superficial detail.

He had tried carrying guns for his work for a while, but after only three fights, left them behind. Oxnard was far enough from the Hellmouth that he had only met vampires so far, no demons at all. While they could still hurt vampires, it was difficult. As well as the adaptation to having only one eye, aiming for someones legs while they're running at you was not easy. Added to this was that if there were any more one or two vampires, they very quickly were in too close a range, where he had to defend himself to shootfor such a small target. He had shrugged, thought of getting something more in the lines of a SMG, but then dismissed it as more trouble than it was worth, keeping his two hand guns for when he met something that it could affect, but usually left them in his apartment.

Instead he had slowly gathered more immediatly useful weapons. He currently carried a machete, which he was planning on replacing with a good sword as soon as possible. A small crossbow was attached to one side of his waist, with a cannister of twenty wooden bolts in it. His stakes, ringing most of the rest of his waist were also capable of being used in the crossbow, but he tended them more for closer range combat. A smaller dagger, with a nine inch blade was in a downward sheath on either side of his chest, ready for a quick draw from either hand. He wore studded gloves and his boots had hidden steel caps in them. While walking, none of these were visible, save the gloves, which just increased the Biker look he seemed to have become. Which he promptly confirmed by buying a 250cc Kawasaki.

Xander relaxed slightly as the last of the girls made it inside their apartment, then returned to the club, got on his bike and returned home.

The shadows in an alley just to the side of the club seemed to ripple, then the young man that had induced such terror in the demons in Peter's Drinking Club stepped out. He smiled slightly and once again raised hiss cell. "I've got him, Corytar. I'll proceed by the end of the week."

The shadows rippled again, leaving the streets once more, empty.

Chapter 3

Xander cursed as he faced the group in front of him. Five vampires were not usually much danger to him. He could usually take one, sometimes two with his over/under croosbow, and most were not able to fully utilise a numerical advantage, getting in each others way more than helping each other. This time however, they had hostages. Angela, a stripper at the bar, who been following home, and Mary, her ten year old daughter.

"It's simple hunter. Remove all your weapons and lie face down on the ground and we let them go. Or we torture them to death. One man can't hope to stop us."

Xander reluctantly had to agree to that statement. He could not risk the lives of the two women, but also could not trust the vampires to keep their word, but . . .

"I'm not alone. One word and I can call backup stronger than you can imagine vampire."

"Yeah right. You're alone hunter. We know of you. You are unimportant, a nuisance for us. If you had backup it would be here by now. So call . . . then throw down your weapons and lie face down."

Xander tried the trick. He was planning on making a call, and then diving for the hostages. If they died, it was tragic, but he could not believe they would be anything else if he did as asked. "Now!!" he screamed, and prepared to leap forward. What happened instead, was very unexpected.

The two vampires holding the girl's screamed, and let go of their hostages. silver thread seemed to weave a pattern across their entire bodies, looking like an impression of diamond shapes. Then it dissapeared, and the vampires seemed to collapse, their flesh splitting into a thousand pieces as they fell, then dusted. A third seemed to be grabbed by a gigantic fist, was jerked into the air, and then his body suddenly convulsed, as if squeezed. Xander winced at the thought of someone grabbing a grape in their hand, before again dust was floating down.

By now though he had got some presence of mind back. He fired a bolt from his crossbow, dusting a fourth, then drew a stake and plunged it into the still gaping and only remaining vampire. Things stood still for a few heartbeats, then Angela grabbed her daughter, and ran for her door, slamming it behind her, and very obvious locking sounds emmanated from it.

Xander slowly turned around to see a man of around his age, wearing blue jeans and a green shirt standing looking at him.

"Um, thanks for the backup?"

The man smiled. "Alexander Lavelle Harris." Xander winced. "I have a business proposition for you Mr Harris."

"Xander." The retort was instant, showing an almost pavlovian response to the name. "Anyone who saves my butt can call me that. In fact I insist. Do not call me Mr Harris."

"Of course. Xander. As I was saying I have a business proposition for you. However, " He glance around idly, "this is not exactly the right setting. Perhaps at your flat?"

Xander nodded slowly, then bent to collect his crossbow where he had dropped it when he grabbed his stake, being careful not to show the second bolt loaded on the underside, and never letting his gaze leave the other. "Okay, mystic guy. I'll take you there. I just need to get my bike first though."

The man smiled. "Don't worry. There's no need."

Shadows enveloped the two of them, then seemed to dissipate, leaving only Xander's shout of "Oh shiiitt" behind.

Chapter 4

". . . shiiitt!" Xander's shout preceded him into the room, then the shadow's seemed to thicken and ripple, and he fell through, tripped on the carpet, hit the coffee table with his elbow, and toppled a stack of comics and videos onto the floor. His companion stepped through the shadows next, in probably the only inch of floor not now covered by the previous acroutements of the table. His eyebrow rose slightly as he observed Xander writhing in pain on the floor.

"Okay. . . not what I expected when I arrived." Xander froze, then turned a murderous glance at the man.

"Don't you ever do that again. When I get in my apartment, it's supposed to be through the front door." He got up. "Just for that you don't get coffee."

"Not a problem, since it would probably kill me."


"I'm allergic to coffee."

"Damn. What about my bike."

"It's in the parking area."

Xander gave him a last glance, then got up, making himself some coffee. "You mentioned a proposition. And what's your name?"

"Ah yes," the man smoothly sat down on one of the two chairs and leaned forward toward Xander. "My name is Llewellyn. No surname. As for the proposal, I'm afraid first I have to give a slight history lesson. Not long so don't worry."

"It's not that old 'The world is older than you you know' is it. I got enough of that from the Watchers."

The man snorted. "No, its not anything to do with that bunch of amateur, arrogant, blasphemous, impotent, murderous. . ." he paused. "Ah, sorry about that, they tend to make me; irritated. No, it's more of an addendum."

"A what. And I agree with you about the council."

"An add on. There's basically just a couple of things that we need you to understand. Basically, there are two types of demon. And before you argue, I don't mean fire, water, earth, air, warrior etc. Those all fall into one of two categories. There are the original fallen angels that bow to Satan. Those who hate humans with every fibre of their being. They can never be trusted, with very, very few exceptions, and those only for limited times."

"Like Angel I suppose."

"No. Angel can not be trusted. He may have a soul, but it can be lost in a variety of ways. We leave him strictly alone, for now. The first hint that he's evil and he's dust. The second form of demon, while from the same basic stock, angels, actually became 'demons' quite a bit later. And the majority of them were only demons for a limited time. Only partial demons from that time are still on earth. They come, if you read the Bible, from when some angels became infatuated with humans, then slept with them, and were banished from heaven. They eventually atoned, and are back there. Their descendants however, had human souls, and live here until they die, and are then judged just the same as humans. Like you. They are known as The Kel'rat'ee. I'm one of them."

Xander stared at him. "Okay. Well, I guess that's alright then. But if you tell me that you're my father I'll kill you."

Llewellyn stared back. "No. You are totally and utterly human Xander. That's actually why we are interested in you. You see, part of our makeup, is in essence angelic. Which means we can't survive on the Hellmouth. Have you ever wondered about the utter numbers of demons and vampires, the many ways the apocalypse can be brought about, and how the earth is still here. Think about it. There's only ever one slayer, well two no, but still. A single slayer on the entire earth. A hellmouth which sometimes moves, as it did a few years ago to Sunnydale. How come, during a time when a slayer has died, the earth didn't end. The answer is The Kel'rat'ee. There are many normal humans who fight as well, keeping down the numbers of vampires especially, but much of the reason for there still being humans on the earth is us. Having the same strengths as demons, we can fight them. We are among the most feared opponents they have, because we know exactly what the danger in a particular place is. Where demons can feel an item of power that can bring the end of times, so can we. For every demon that can't be affected by fire we have one of the same. Our very name causes almost pathological fear in a demon, even those that have very little link to us, and have never heard of us. A vampire that has risen a bare minute before hand, and is ravenous, almost crazy for blood will run from us. We can feel demons whenever one is near."

Xander looked confused. "So how come you need me. And hey, how come none of you are on the hellmouth?"

"Because of what it is. The hellmouth is a direct gateway to hell Xander, and we have angel's blood in us. If we get within fifty miles of the hellmouth we start to get sick. Within twenty it's almost debilitating, and within ten, if stay for more than a day for the strongest, we die."

Xander nodded. "Okay, but again what has this to do with me?"

"That's it. We want someone we know and trust on the hellmouth. We do have some agents there, to give us information, but not much else. We want to change it, but if we were to attempt to empower a human, they would then suffer from many of the same problems we have. They would die. We still have some there, but as we can't ever help them there, we can't help them. If they get into trouble they have to survive on their own. Not a major problem against vampires, but demons or organised groups are different stories."

Xander still looked confused. "So?"

"So, we can't help in any way. A mage can't learn any of the spells we know and use, to teach them would mean he can not go to the hellmouth. etc. So we finally decided to find someone who can face demons and triumph, who we can help in some way, then send him to the hellmouth, to protect both our agents and the world. And to help relieve the slayer of some of her burden. If there is someone at the hellmouth, a slayer does not have to walk in unprepared because she is needed there immediatly, we will have someone there already."

"And again, why me."

Llewellyn stood suddenly and began pacing around the room."We thought of you for a number of reasons. One you already know and fight the darkness. You've shown loyalty beyond expectations. You decide on how to react, not for personal reasons, but what is best for the world. You also have the strength of a hyena spirit. Something that you have now triumphed over. We can teach you, or rather get another human to teach you, meditation techniques to conquer it totally. While we can't protect you directly, we can teach you how to fight, give you the knowledge how to fight particular demons, and referencesto others. And we have only two conditions. One, that you never give that information to the watcher's council. You can give it to the slayer and the scoobies. You can share the books and the website we will give you with everyone you love."

"Including Rupert Giles. But only if he agrees never to give the information to the watchers. We think they will corrupt it. Secondly, if we ever ask, or in fact if anyone ever asks, you give them aid to the best of your abilities. Think about it Xander. as well as this though, there is another thing for you to consider, in partial payment, as well as a retainer and salary, we will give you back your eye, through an agent who lives on the hellmouth, regardless of your decision. The address is on this paper. Go there, and then take the mage out of Sunnydale, and we will transfer enough power for it to happen. But in the meantime, dial this number in a weeks time if you decide to help us. Think long and hard, because this is major Xander. Don't just follow your heart, but think about it. Consult those you trust. And call in a weeks time. I'll see you then if your choice is to proceed. Fare the well Xander Harris."

Again the shadows wrapped around Llewellyn, and he dissapeared. Leaving Xander staring at the paper, and slowly rubbing the patch over his eye.

Chapter 5

Xander glanced at the paper in his hand, then looked up again. "The university?" he murmured to himself. "Wonder who this mage is."

He made a note again of the room number, then tucked the paper back into his back wallet. This was the first test he had for the Kel'rat'ee. They had promised him a new eye as a down payment for considering their offer. If there were suddenly further conditions, or tests, or in fact any unreasonable delays, past the weeks end, he knew he would not be taking the offer. He was rather confident however that it would not be a problem. For some reason he trusted Llewellyn. He was not an idiot though. Even knowing that he would most likely be taking the offer, he was not going to let anything blind him to the truth. Plus he could always get Giles or Willow to check out whatever spell, or the eye itself, for any problems. Taking a deep breath he moved onward into the campus housing.

He considered dropping in on either Buffy or Willow along the way, but decided not to. Despite having both a cell phone and an e-mail account, neither had been in contact with him during his eight month absence. He still was not sure though whether that was because he had asked Giles to tell them not to call him except in a emergency, or whether they just did not care. He had to admit to himself that they had been drifting further apart from each other during the past couple of years. At the time Glory had appeared, they were in a case where the only time they met was for slaying, and even then it was usually on his own initiative. Neither of them had known about his construction job, or even where he lived at the time. The days of the scoobies were a memory to him. A happy memory, but he still found it hard to believe that Willow, as soon as she had a new friend, and he did not seem as fashionable anymore. He had very quickly recognised that part of Willow's ideas on how to become popular and accepted in University was to lose all parts of herself that had made her a loner at Sunnydale High School. She had dressed in new clothes, gone to more parties, joined numerous clubs. Part of that was obviously not having a 'townie' visiting her, as Xander had quickly learned, even if she had not quite stated it in that way. In fact of the scoobies, only Giles had remained a good friend. A father to him. Instead of visiting Buffy and Willow, he had found himself in Giles apartment, he drinking coffee while Giles of course always had a pot of tea. He truly considered him family, as he used to consider Willow so. The only other person, he considered as he knocked on the door in front of him, that was even reasonably friendly even out of the scooby meetings, as she was also almost an outsider was . . .

"Tara!??" Xander's jaw dropped as Tara Maclay opened the door in front of him, apparently one of the Ke'rat'ee's agents.

Chapter 6

Tara smiled, "Xander! Welcome back, I thought you'd be away for longer. It's good to see you, how are you?" She stepped back from the door, and waved him in, the precaution of not inviting him in making him smile.

"It's been eight months Tara, when did you expect me back." Xander stepped across the threshold of the door, noticing the slight breath of relief Tara gave, even though most of the rooms were public housing, and therefore open to vampires, he knew that she periodically cast an uninvite spell to prevent any vampire or demon from entry.

Tara grimaced. "I didn't honestly know if you would be Xander. After Buffy and Willow didn't visit you in hospital, or see you off, well, not many people return to those who have abandoned them, especially friends.

Xander smiled gently. "My friends didn't abandon me, Tara. Buffy and Willow haven't been friends for a good while before Glory. You and Giles visited me often, I know, and I have some guesses as to why my eye didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. And you and Giles are who I consider my friends."

Tara seemed to beam at him for a while, then suddenly frowned. "Um, not to seem pushy, but how come you're here, I don't think you've ever visited me at campus before."

It was Xander's turn to grimace. "Well, that I'm afraid was sort of my fault. After Willow and Buffy showed such animosity when I visited them here, I kinda fell out of the habit of coming here. And I didn't actually know this was your place, though I was planning on calling you."

"But then, why did you come here?" Tara seemed to shrink slightly into herself.

"Tara," Xander reached over, and slowly raised her head so she was facing him. "I wa going to call you tomorrow, don't ever think we aren't friends or that I don't want to see you."

She slowly smiled again. "Well consider yourself welcome here at any time Xander."

She motioned him to sit on the only seat in the room, placed near her desk, if she needed it for work, but at the moment angled toward the bed, making a sort of living room, then sat on the bed herself, crossing her legs under her. "So the reason, you accidently found yourself outside of my door."

Xander leaned forward. "Tell me about the Kel'rat'ee Tara."

Tara froze, completely startled. Her eyes darted to the cross on Xander's chest, then she slowly relaxed again. Why don't I make some coffee, this may take a while. Unless you'd prefer Chamomile tea?"

Xander shook his head. "Coffee would be good Tara. Thank You."

Tara, quickly made up the cups, handing one to Xander, then again sitting down once more. "Forgive me for asking, but how much do you know about them yourself Xander, I think you'd understand when I say I don't want to give away anything that should remain secret."

Xander nodded, then proceeded to tell Tara of the events two days previously, finishing up with, "and I found you here, apparently one of their human agents."

Tara smiled, "Well, I can't see anything that you know that I don't, I'll tell you how they relate to me, then we can get on to why they senbt you to me, okay?"

"That would be great," he glanced at his watch, "but how about we do this tomorrow, it's getting late, and I want to stop in at Giles' place for a while as well."

Tara nodded, and picked up the cup from where Xander had left it. "That would be great Xander, let's meet at the coffee place, tomorrow at 1.30? That good."

"Very good. I'll see you there then. Tomorrow Tara." He gave her a hug, then left the room.

Chapter 7

Xander found himself once again outside a door, feeling nervous as hell. He knocked, waiting for Giles to answer. He wasn't sure where exactly his relationship with the watcher was at the moment. He felt like his son, and sort of hoped Giles felt like his father, but he was not totally confident on how Giles would react to his return.

"Xander." He looked up to see Giles at the door, which had opened while he'd been lost in thought.


"Welcome back." Giles stepped back and motioned him into the room.

"Thanks G-man. Nice digs"

Giles started to react with his normal response, but then stopped. "Yes quite. It's good to see you again. Might I inquire as to the length of your sojourn."

There was dead silence.


Giles smiled. "How long are you staying Xander. It was in English, you should be able to understand me you know."

"Try speaking American then. And I think I should be settling down again. And with you, Tara and Dawn here where else would I go."

Giles looked up from where he had taken a seat in the living room, then sighed. "Yes, I rather thought it would be like that. The three musketeers have split then?"

Xander grimaced. "I guess so. I don't think we've really been friends for a while now. This is just sort of putting it officially. For me anyway. It's just that . . ." he stopped.

"You feel that you are abandoning them?"

Xander nodded.

"You don't need to. I have found, that when you are first abandoned, there's no blemish on your own loyalty if you finally retreat. I might have agreed if it was only after the first few months when they went to university, but you stuck with them. After two years of them ignoring you, I would be dissapointed if you stillo considered them close friends. They are more like acquaintances now."

"But, shouldn't I try harder. Stick with it for a while longer?"

Giles shook his head slowly. "You've done that Xander. You attempted contact, and they refused. They only ever saw you at the magic box, and I can't say they were ever eager, or even happy to see you. It's much the same as the situation with your birth family."

Xander seemed to flinch minutely. Despite having told Giles about his previous home life, he was still afraid of rejection.

"If you had stayed there, where you suffered from abuse from your mother and father, it would be cowardly and stupid. I don't believe that it was wrong for you to leave home, and into an apartment when you could, and in this situation, though the abuse isn't physical, but emotional, it's similair. It would not be wise for you to continue to try. If they come to you, then I might suggest that you rebuild your relationship, but at the moment, there isn't one."

Xander nodded, then sighed deeply, letting Buffy and Willow finally leave from his heart.

There was silence for a few seconds, then Xander looked up once more. "Thanks Giles."

"My pleasure. On a similair note though, I still consider myself your friend. And you are still welcome here and at the Magic Box."

Xander seemed for a moment to shine. "Thanks G-man. On another note I don't suppose you know of an apartment available do you?"

Giles shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't. Though you are quite welcome to stay here until you do find one. I have a rather good guest room. I had thought about it as a first aid room, but decided it would be better to have that at the Magic Box instead. Buffy and Willow don't often come here."

Xander nodded. "I think I'll take that up G-man, thanks. I have some other things to talk to you about, but later huh?"

"I think that would be best. Let me show you to your room."

They left the living room, leaving it standing empty, a fire burning in the grate, and looking rather cheerful, not as the place where one of the greatest friendships of Xander's life had finally and officially met its end.

Chapter 8

Xander waited at his table for Tara to arrive. His primary focus was no longer on his eye, but instead on what her connection to the Kel'rat'ee. He no longer had any worries whatsoever about them as a group, his concerns had dissapeared almost immediatly on finding out that Tara was associated. He knew very well the sort of person she was. He had seen her refusal to employ any form of dark magic, even when it had seemed the only thing that could save her life, and argue about that use with Willow, who believed that the ends justified the means. He knew she was the most loyal friend he had met. Every other friend had dropped him when he was no longer convenient. From Willow, who at first when Jesse had joined the trio they had once formed. He had only regained his spot that had begun with a yellow crayon, when Jesse became infatuated with Cordelia, relying on him to stand up for her.

Then Buffy had joined the group, and Willow never mentioned Jesse's name again. Xander honestly believed that she had forgotten his name. Buffy had taken his place in fighting Cordelia. Then after she had left when Angel was sent to hell, Xander again became close to her, sharing that spot with Oz, but when Buffy returned, again he was almost forgotten. University had started, and Xander was officially out of her life, now a nuisance to her. So be it.

Buffy, Xander was actually more understanding about. They became friends through Willow, but never particularly close. That had been sabotaged early on with arguments about Angel. Their's was more a marriage of convenience than anything else, at first Buffy had kept him relatively near to herself, believing that without him, Willow would not be her friend, and she had ruined any chance of that with Cordelia. When she realised that Willow would stick with her rather than him, she had tried to remove him from the slaying, and expanding that to all facets of her life. Giles at first had gone along with that, but Xander's participance had proved itself to him, as he had seen the smaller things that Xander had done come to light for him. The small gestures, jokes and what he had thought was foolishness, that had kept the group from collapsing. He had been the one to ask Xander to return, and had apologised for keeping him away, and thanking him for his contribution, which had only increased when a week later he had heard about O'toole and had kept the information away from Buffy and Willow.

Of all the newcomers to the scoobies, Tara was the only one who stuck around. Oz had left, Xander believed because he was ashamed, not because of the wolf inside him. He had spent a good year with the gang as a werewolf, he didn't suddenly become afraid of it. It was because he could not handle having cheated on his girlfriend. Miss Calender had only been part of the team for a short while, but she had kept secrets, Xander knew she might have proven herself later, but had been killed too soon. For him, her trying to find the curse over Angel, had only increased the danger, she should have helped to stake him while he was a killer. Angel. Here Xander had to pause. Aside from the curse he had actually been an enormous help. The only danger he had posed was that it prevented Buffy from seeing other vampires as purely evil. He had been loyal, even towards Xander even going so far as to show him a few techniques to stay out of the way of a vampires attack when distracting them from the rest. Finally when he saw how Buffy was once more moving toward a physical relationship with himself, he had left. Xander could respect, if not like him.

Tara, however had stuck around. Through many days where she was at a risk of dying, she had remained strong. Her role was mainly one of support for the others, much as Xander's own. She had radiated calm, tried to balance Willow, and to teach her the Wicca religion. After discovering the key, Buffy had made a wonderful announcement of how Dawn was still and always her sister, then basically ignored her. It had been Tara to whom she turned, and came for comfort, as well as her mother, who had truly not seen Dawn as anything else but her daughter. Xander trusted her, and if she was connected to the Kel'rat'ee, he believed that it must be a good organisation.

He looked up as he smelt Tara's scent from the door, then motioned her to the table.


AN: A slow chapter I know. This was more for myself than for anything else, sorting things out in my own head. I'm sure you've seen some differences to canon. Some of which is why this part was written. Out of this come following AU points, though I'm sure others will notice many more.

1. No fluke. Cordy and Xander break up at graduation, her leaving for LA.

2. Joyce is still alive. I like her too much to have her die. 3. Oz did not return, he's learnt to control the wolf and is currently in Tibet, as he realised that Willow was part of what had kept him from his goal for so long.

4. Anya came for Willow, not Cordy. This happened after Oz left, and the wish was thatshe had gotten together with Xander, lead to Buffy not cominbg to Sunnydale and her getting together with him as a vampire.

5. Dawn. In the series they make quite a deal about her relationship with Buffy. As Joyce did not die, the closeness we see after Buffy breaks down in front of her does not form.

6. Angel. Only major difference is him giving Xander the start to his future fighting ability. I started intending him to be on a par with Buffy and Willow, but found I couldn't. Aside from his Angelus episodes, he doesn't actually do anything I can hit him with. Please no discussion on him, whatever I write about him will cause argument with one group or another.