Who Wants To Live Forever?
Richard Ruth, 1998

Legalistic Disclaimer 
Once again, this is the situation:  The concept and characters of 
`Buffy the Vampire Slayer` (Buffy, Angel, Xander, Willow, Giles, Spike, 
and Drusilla) belong to Joss Whedon, Warner Brothers, and Mutant Enemy.  
Meanwhile, over in Seacouver, the concept and characters of 
`Highlander` (Duncan MacLeod, Richie Ryan, Joe Dawson, and Amanda) 
belong to Davis and Panzer Productions and Rysher.  Any other 
recognizable characters also belong to their respective copyright 
holders.  They'll all be returned to their owners none the worse for 
wear (sure, they will).  Also, thanks once again go to my beta readers, 
Mary Ellen Jedrlinic and Claudia Diamond (who were also returned none 
the worse for wear). 

One last thing before we get this show on the road, please do not re-
post this story without first gaining the author's permission (that 
would be me).  Violation of this caveat may result in either 
decapitation or staking (decisions, decisions, decisions). 

** Important:  Author's Note ** 
This is a sequel to my other crossover story, "Immortal Dilemma."  To 
minimize potential confusion, I recommend that you read it (among other 
things, I indicated that Xander is a pre-Immortal) before diving into 
this tale.  When necessary, I've also taken the liberty of filling in 
some of those annoying gaps in character development.  This story is 
set in the near future of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and during the 
fifth season of 'Highlander.'  In other words, the insanity of 
Highlander's fifth season finale, when Richie seemingly gets killed, is 
completely disavowed in my little universe.  Of course, I'm also 
assuming that Angel will eventually somehow return from his recent 
(late second season) walk on the wild side with the fang gang.  But, if 
all else fails -- and Angel stays evil and Richie stays dead -- well, 
then this can become an alternate universe story.  Deal with it!  Got 
all that?  You do...really? 

Remember, all (positive) comments are welcome.  All other (negative) 
comments will be criticized and/or ignored (hey, it's a free story, 
sometimes you get what you pay for).  Please direct E-mail to:  
ruth@pbworld.com.  Enjoy. 

Who Wants to Live Forever?

When it came to fashion sense, the undead generally lacked that special 
"something."  Choosing any hole in the ground or abandoned building to 
set up shop.  This was especially true of the current vampire king and 
queen of Sunnydale, Spike and Drusilla, who were headquartered in an 
abandoned tool and die shop. 

"Why don't we go someplace nice so I can play with my dollies?  They're 
getting all dirty." 

"Oh, we will Dru.  Just as soon as we take care of that Slayer chick 
and her troublesome friends.  Then we'll move to the Ritz and show your 
dolls a good old time." 

Moving up behind his longtime lover, Spike began to caress her 
shoulders as he nuzzled her neck. 

"This Buffy babe is powerful, my sweet.  Bitch dropped a pipe organ on 
us and all!  Putting me in that damn wheelchair for months and 
scratching up my pretty face.  But, we have all the time in the world 
to destroy her." 

With a far-away look in her eyes, Drusilla then turned to face the 
platinum-blonde vampire, stating, "The Slayer will be defeated by an 
enemy from within rather than by an enemy from without." 

Taking a step back to ponder her statement, Spike then asked, "Have we 
been having dreams again, love?" 

After a few moments, Drusilla then added, "There is one near the Slayer 
who is different...powerful.  She won't suspect anything until it's too 

Suddenly losing his grin, Spike turned away and snapped, "C'mon, Dru.  
You know we can't count on Angel -- one day he's with us and the next 
he's back under her skirt -- that damn schizoid, traitorous, son of 

"Not Angelus.  There is another." 

His smile returning, Spike then turned back, embraced Drusilla, and 
stated, "Share with daddy." 


Later that evening, about 20 miles away in Seacouver, two young men 
were practicing martial arts after-hours in a gym.  The younger of the 
two was definitely losing. 

"Don't telegraph your moves, Xander.  You lose the element of 

"Should I use a fax machine instead?" 

After Richie Ryan kicked the young man's left leg out from under him 
and quickly knocked him onto his butt, he replied, "No, not a fax.  
Maybe a long-distance phone call though." 

Helping the young man up, the Immortal then added, "Don't worry.  When 
I practice with MacLeod, I usually spend more time staring at the 
ceiling than standing on my feet.  It just takes some time." 

Gingerly flexing his left knee to make sure it was still functioning, 
Xander Harris replied rather sheepishly, "Yeah, well if I was going to 
live forever like you and MacLeod, I could afford to take things in 
stride too.  Patience has never been one of my strong points." 

Taking a drink from his water bottle, Richie decided to pass on a 
discussion about longevity and instead focus on the progress the 
teenager had made during the six months he knew him. 

"Xander, you're doing very well.  MacLeod and I are very impressed -- 
although Mac will never admit it.  It's just not his way.  A few months 
ago, you had no discipline, had never touched a quarterstaff or a 
sword, and were basically a disorganized mess.  Now look at you.  
You're almost as good as me." 

Pondering what the young Immortal had just said, Xander then remarked, 
"But Richie, MacLeod says you're undisciplined and disorganized." 

After a pause, Richie smiled, grabbed the boy by the shoulders, and 
said, "See.  You're learning from an expert!" 

The smile quickly faded to a frown as Richie heard the dojo's outside 
door swing against its frame and sensed the approach of another 
Immortal.  Noting his friend's sudden change in demeanor as the 
Immortal quickly made his way towards his nearby gym bag...and sword, 
Xander asked, "Richie, what's wrong?" 

Exposing his blade, he replied, "We have a visitor.  If anything 
happens, leave through the back way.  Don't try to interfere." 

At that moment, a tall woman wearing sunglasses -- at night -- and a 
short leopard skin vest over a black cashmere sweater with tight black 
pants appeared in the doorway.  She was also wearing a beautiful 
pendant from a gold chain around her neck.  Slowly running her tongue 
over perfectly highlighted crimson lips, she cooed, "Oh, my.  Two 
sweaty young men.  I must be in the right place." 

"Amanda?  What are you doing here?" 

Before responding, the woman slowly removed her glasses and hung them, 
by the frame, in the neckline of her sweater.  "I was just in town and 
thought I'd visit." 

Slowly advancing on the young Immortal, she then asked, "I am welcome, 
am I not, Richard?" 

Blushing, Richie answered, "Of course, Amanda.  What's ours is yours." 

Amanda's overall visual impact was also not lost on Xander, whose eyes 
were nearly popping out of their sockets. 

Stopping to caress the side of Ryan's face, the female Immortal purred, 
"Of course, sweet boy."  Then, turning her attention towards Xander, 
she added, "And speaking of sweet boys..." 

Quickly deciding that introductions were in order, Richie stated, 
"Amanda, this is Alexander Harris, one of my students.  Xander, this is 
Amanda, one of Mac's oldest friends." 

Extending her hand, both Amanda and Richie were surprised when the 
young man bent down and kissed it, stating, "The pleasure is all 

"My, my.  What a charming young man you are Alexander." 

Smiling, the teen replied, "It's just 'Xander.'  Nobody calls me 
'Alexander' except my mom...when she's angry." 

"Well then, Xander it is." 

Silently observing the proceedings, Richie thought, "I knew the kid 
learned fast."  Turning his attention back to the 1,000-year-old female 
Immortal, he remarked, "Mac's in New York at an auction, Amanda.  He's 
bidding on a Picasso at Sotheby's." 

Before Amanda could reply, the two Immortals were distracted by a sharp 
pain that started in the back of their heads and quickly rattled around 
to their temples before easing somewhat.  The sensation was not 
completely different from when they sensed another Immortal, yet more 
intense.  They also became aware of a leather-clad figure standing in 
the doorway. 

Richie, upon seeing the newcomer, simply remarked to a suddenly tense 
Amanda, "It's OK.  He's a friend."  Then, turning to Xander, said, "I 
guess we're out of time.  You ride's here." 

Toweling sweat off his face, Xander muttered to no one in particular, 
"Man, why can't he be late just once?  Things were just getting 
interesting around here."  Moving towards the locker room, the teenage 
then added for the benefit of the new arrival, "Angel, just give me a 
few minutes to change.  I'll be right back." 

Holding his position in the shadows of the doorway, the man -- who from 
all external appearances didn't seem much older than either Xander or 
Richie -- simply called after him, "Hurry up, Xander.  Giles said there 
might be something happening tonight and I want to keep an eye on 

From the depths of the locker room, an echoing voice replied, "Chill.  
I'll be right out." 

Amanda, instinctively sensing an opportunity for an introduction, 
started to clear her throat.  When that didn't work, she swiftly kicked 
Richie in the ankle. 

"Ow!  What's up?  Oh, yeah...Angel, this is Amanda." 

As she extended her hand, Amanda commented, "Angel -- what a 
fascinating name.  Is it Spanish?" 

Looking somewhat uneasy, he replied, "No, it's ah, Gaelic.  Actually, 
it's just a nickname." 

Batting her eyelids for dramatic effect, Amanda simply replied, 
"Nickname or not, it's very appropriate."  After circling the newcomer 
once to complete her assessment, she then turned back to Richie and 
added, "Richard, where, pray tell, have you and MacLeod been hiding 

Desperately trying to suppress a grin, Richie was thoroughly enjoying 
the effect that Amanda's behavior was having on Angel, who was now 
nervously shuffling from foot to foot.  When the young Immortal thought 
the older man had suffered enough, he decided it was time to get him 
off Amanda's hook.

"Amanda, we haven't been hiding him anywhere.  In fact, MacLeod and I 
only met Angel -- and his very lovely girlfriend -- last year." 

With a mock look of surprise, Amanda then turned back to Angel and 
asked, "Oh, please.  Now don't tell me you're an old fashioned, one 
woman kind of guy like MacLeod.  That's no fun at all." 

With a sheepish grin, Angel replied, "I'm afraid so." 

Their conversation was interrupted as Xander re-entered the room. 

"OK, Richie.  I threw my stuff in one of the empty lockers.  Same time 
next week?" 

"Sure thing.  See you then." 

Noticing how Amanda was still eyeing Angel, Xander asked, "Do you two 
know each other?" 

"No," replied Angel a little too quickly. 

With that, Amanda sighed, "Unfortunately." 

"O....K....then I guess we're outta here.  Later, Richie.  Nice to meet 
you, Amanda." 

After nodding slightly to the two Immortals, Angel followed the teen 
out of the gym.  Upon hearing the building's outside door close, Amanda 
turned to Richie and asked, "What's the story with those two?" 

Draping a towel around his shoulders, the young Immortal simply 
shrugged and sighed, "It's kind of a long story, Amanda." 

Leaning towards him, Amanda then used the towel's fringe to wipe a bead 
of sweat from Richie's brow.  After the offending moisture was 
eliminated, she replied, "Well, darling, we both have PLENTY of time 
for a good story, now don't we?" 

Realizing he couldn't avoid full disclosure to Amanda -- she was 
relentless -- Richie decided to surrender quickly and spill the beans, 
rather than have her wear him down.  However, that didn't have to 
happen on an empty stomach.  Moving to lock the dojo's outer doors, he 
said, "Let's go raid Mac's fridge and I'll explain everything." 


An hour or so later, Amanda's jaw had practically dropped onto 
MacLeod's kitchen counter. 

"A vampire?  Him?  How?  You're not serious!" 

Sipping orange juice, Richie waited for the woman to stop sputtering 
before responding, "Yes, a vampire -- as in fangs and 'I vaant to suuck 
yourr bloood.'" 

"C'mon, Richie.  I've been around the block a few times and I think I 
would've heard about vampires somewhere along the line." 

Putting his glass down, Richie simply replied, "But Amanda, we've ALL 
heard about vampires, haven't we?  Not to mention the occasional 
bizarre killing involving massive blood loss." 

"That's different, Richie.  Those are Halloween fables and ghost 
stories.  As for the random freak murder, that could be the work of a 
cult or psychopath." 

Without missing a beat, the young Immortal quickly countered, "That 
wouldn't be like the freak 'cult' that occasionally leaves headless 
bodies around here, would it?" 

Pondering that thought for a few moments, Amanda quietly replied, "OK, 
fine.  Point taken." 

Moving to place the cold cuts they had been picking through back in the 
refrigerator, Richie then added, "Look, from what we know, Sunnydale is 
the Grand Central Station of supernatural activity, including vampires.  


"Oh, sorry, Angel -- I think he changed it for professional reasons or 
something -- helps his girlfriend and her friends hold back this tide 
of evil from overwhelming that town and possibly the world." 

As she started moving towards MacLeod's liquor cabinet, it became 
obvious to Richie that Amanda was not accepting this information 

"But why them?" 

Before answering, Richie drained the remaining juice from his glass. 

"Why not them?  According to their Watcher..." 

"Stop!  Did you say Watcher?  They have Watchers too?  Now I know I 
need a drink." 

Running his hand through his short hair, Richie waited until Amanda 
finished filling a glass with MacLeod's best single-malt Scotch (only 
the best for Amanda).  Knocking back a mouthful, she croaked, "Oooh, he 
finally found more of the good stuff.  OK, now I'm ready, go on." 

"Like I was saying, their Watcher -- same concept as Joe Dawson's 
group, by the way, but a different organization -- guides a young girl 
known as 'the Slayer,' whose mission it is to destroy various ghouls 
and assorted nasties.  The current girl's name is Buffy Summers and 
just happens to be Angel's girlfriend.  And, oh yeah, did I mention 
that supposedly there can only be one Slayer at a time?  That also 
sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?" 

As she refilled her glass, Amanda asked, "Are you trying to tell me 
that the one girl on Earth who is sworn to destroy vampires..." 

"And demons." 

"Excuse me, vampires AND DEMONS...just happens to be in love with a 
vampire?  How did that happen?" 

"Well, I don't know all the gory details, no pun intended -- oh hell, 
sure it was -- but after killing his entire family, among others, a 
group of Gypsies placed a curse on Angel that restored his soul nearly 
a century ago.  Ever since then -- well except for a short time last 
year when the curse was accidentally removed and he tried to kill 
everybody...but that's a long story -- he's been helping to destroy 
other vampires." 

Walking towards Richie, Amanda then remarked, "Fine.  This Angel guy is 
a vampire who just happens to be in love with a vampire Slayer.  
There's a match made in heaven...and I thought I had trouble with men.  
You said he's also Immortal?" 

Yeah.  That's probably why we get that wonderful teeth grinding 
sensation any time he's around." 

"Fine, I get that.  Now what's the deal with his friend, Xander?" 

"By that you mean..." 

"Richie, you realize he's going to be an Immortal one day, don't you?" 

Rolling his eyes heavenward, Richie replied sarcastically, "No!  Your 
kidding?  Of course I know that Amanda.  I may be sort of new to this 
game myself, but I'm not stupid." 

Running her hand down his cheek, Amanda cooed, "Did I ever mention that 
you're cute when you get annoyed?" 



"Well, like I was saying before you rudely interrupted me..." 

Suddenly pulling down sharply on his earlobe, Amanda stopped him dead 
in his tracks. 

"Ow!  Ow!  Ow!" 

"Don't push it, Richard.  Annoyed may equal cute in my book, but rude 
can equal pain." 

"Hey, it was worth a try.  Anyhow, like I was saying, Mac and I both 
realized Xander is pre-Immortal.  In fact, MacLeod also thought it was 
necessary to tell one other person." 




"Because he thought Angel would be in the best position to keep an eye 
on him without disrupting his life." 

"Which just happens to also include hunting and killing various 

"Actually, I think the ghouls are usually already dead...but, yeah, now 
you've got it." 

Turning back towards the liquor cabinet, all Amanda could say was, 
"Where's that Scotch?  I need another drink." 


The following afternoon, Rupert Giles was performing one of the many 
essential services of a Watcher, namely having the living hell
kicked/beaten/pummeled out of him by his young charge during their
weekly martial arts practice session.  While many teenage boys might 
actually have paid to experience this treatment at the hands of Buffy 
Summers, this kind of abuse could actually lead to permanent damage for 
a middle-aged man.  These were the thoughts running through Giles' mind 
as he was flipped onto his back for the fifth time in ten minutes. 

"I really think I should keep working on that move.  It's not 
generating enough force on impact." 

"Oh, I don't know, it felt pretty...forceful to me." 

"Why Giles, are you actually saying that I can stop practicing early 

As the Englishman slowly got back on his feet, he paused a moment 
before answering, "No.  You should continue practicing.  It's me who 
should stop...for my own good.  Maybe you should try some target 
practice with the crossbow." 

After emitting what could only be described as a small sigh, Buffy 
started towards the weapons locker located along the far wall of the 
Sunnydale High School library.  As she entered the small caged-in room, 
a fleeting question crossed her mind, which she verbalized to her 
mentor a moment later. 

"Hey Giles, why hasn't anyone on the school board, or Principal Snyder 
for that matter, ever questioned why we have a fully stocked arsenal in 
the library?" 

The librarian paused to adjust his eyeglasses before responding, 
"Strange.  I was under the impression that most American secondary 
schools have weapons lockers...to put down civil disturbances by the 
students and such." 

As she attempted to lift her jaw off the floor, the girl replied 
simply, "Sometimes you frighten me, Giles."  When a slightly quizzical 
look crossed his face, she then added, "One day...really soon...we've 
got to chat about what the English REALLY THINK goes on in America." 

The two were then interrupted as Xander entered the room with several 
textbooks under his arm.  Noticing this, Buffy wryly remarked, "Oh.  
Oh.  A sign of the Apocalypse." 

Giles, once again displaying his ability to miss an obvious joke, 
quickly sputtered, "Who?  What?  Where?" 

With a mild look of annoyance, Buffy then explained, "Chill, Giles.  
Xander is carrying books -- to study from -- a sure sign of the 
Apocalypse.  Ha.  Ha.  It's a joke, son." 

A moment later, she watched as the man slowly moved towards his office 
muttering to himself.  All should could make out was, "...joking about 
Doomsday while living on a Hellmouth.  Very unwise.  Very unwise 

Xander silently watched this interplay between the Slayer and her 
Watcher before commenting (after Giles was safely out of earshot behind 
the closed door of his office), "I think I'll give him a Whoopee 
Cushion this year for Christmas.  He'd like that."  He then added, more 
seriously, "In case you haven't already guessed, I have a major trig 
test tomorrow.  If I flunk it, I might just experience my own personal 

"Can't Willow help you study?" 

"Actually, that's the plan.  I thought I might catch her in here.  
She's coming over my house after dinner -- wait, let me rephrase that 
-- she's coming over my house after HER dinner.  I, on the other hand, 
have the exciting choice between Chinese take-out, Mickey D's, or the 
roach coach on 17th and Elm." 

"What?  No leftovers in the Harris household?" 

"No, Buff.  Leftovers would imply that cooking actually takes place in 
our kitchen.  That would also imply that mom and/or dad would be home 
long enough to even FIND the kitchen.  But then again, lawyers and 
doctors don't have much time to be happy homemakers." 

Seeing that this conversation had unexpectedly taken a serious turn, 
Buffy quietly remarked, "I'm guessing it's not exactly a Norman 
Rockwell scene at home?" 

Slumping against a table, the young man started to reply, but then 
stopped to rephrase what normally would have been a wisecrack, 
"Actually, good ol' Norman would be VERY at home.  Two parents, a son, 
a cat, and a dog -- who could ask for anything more?  Don't ya know, 
Buff, I'm living the perfect teenage American fantasy -- an empty house 
to throw my wild, depraved parties.  Now all I need are some wild, 
depraved friends to invite.  Interested?" 

With a tight smile, the girl replied, "Well, at least your mom AND dad 
are still together.  That's got to count for something." 

"Yeah, a joint tax return." 


"OK.  Fine.  Maybe it's not so bad after all.  But it can be lonely 

"I know, Xander." 

The young man then retrieved his books and started moving towards the 

"Enough feeling sorry for myself...I've gotta go.  See ya 'round, 

"Maybe later at the Bronze?" 

"Maybe.  If Warden Willow grants me parole, that is." 

Calling after him, she responded, "Hope to see you then." 

And with that, Buffy was alone with a crossbow on her lap. 


Two hours later, having opted for Value Meal No. 9 (Filet 'O Fish, 
large fries, and a vanilla shake), Xander was heading home in the early 
autumn gloom.  Maybe if he hadn't been distracted by the assorted 
trigonometric functions and log tables swirling around in his head, he 
would have noticed the unnatural quiet surrounding him sooner.  No 
crickets chirping, no dogs barking, and no other pedestrians or car 
traffic on this particular side street.  The first realization that he 
was in trouble was when a tall figure, clad in a long black leather 
coat, emerged from behind a hedge. 

"Well now.  Who do we have here?  I do believe it's one of my old mates 
from Sunnydale High.  I also believe we have some unfinished business 
from Parent-Teacher Night.  If memory serves, I think you owe me 

Suddenly becoming aware of the hair standing up on the back of his 
neck, Xander nonetheless decided to put up as brave a front as 

"What do you want, Spike?  Did Drusilla finally come to her senses and 
throw your sorry ass out?" 

Moving closer, the vampire merely smiled before replying, "If I was 
you, I'd be worried about my own sorry ass." 

Before Xander could utter another word, he suddenly became aware of 
movement behind him.  As he started to turn, he caught the fleeting 
outline of an object heading for the side of his head.  That was all he 
saw before losing consciousness. 

"Ouch.  Now that's got to smart."  Then, addressing his minions, Spike 
added, "Boys, let's get him back to the lair.  It's been ages since 
we've had guests." 

As the teenager was dragged towards Spike's car by two other male 
vampires, their leader bent down to pick up the fallen Louisville 
Slugger.  As he turned towards the car, he started twirling the bat in 
a wide circle. 

"I'm actually more of a cricket person myself.  But, when in Rome..." 

Getting behind the wheel of the car, Spike started whistling 'Take Me 
Out to the Ballgame,' before hitting the accelerator and speeding away 
into the night. 


Later that evening, Buffy found herself in a very strange situation.  
She was sitting in the Bronze ALONE sipping a diet soda while searching 
the largely teenage crowd for her friends (and the rafters for her 
significant other, Angel).  The only person she spotted, however, was 
Sunnydale's current ice princess, Cordelia Chase.  Unfortunately for 
Buffy, Cordelia had also spotted her and was rapidly moving towards 

"Buffy, have you seen Xander tonight?" 

"No...but have you checked the utility closet?" 

"Ha.  Ha.  Very funny.  I told you that was all a big misunderstanding.  
Those damn electricians should keep their mouths shut." 

"Cordy, the way I heard it, you and Xander somehow managed to short 
circuit the school's entire electrical system when..." 

"Like that's so untrue!  All lies!  He was just trying to help me find 
my contact lens that had rolled under the closet door." 

Slowly taking another sip of her drink to prolong the other girl's 
discomfort, Buffy couldn't resist asking one additional question.  
"I've been meaning to ask Xander how those burn marks on his butt are 
healing.  Would you happen to know?" 

Flashing a look that could have melted lead, Cordelia simply huffed, 
"You're disgusting," spun around on her Manolo Blahniks, and started to 

While desperately trying to keep from snorting the soft drink up her 
nose, Buffy called after the retreating girl, "Talk about a couple of 
live wires..." 


The Slayer quickly spun around to face her new companion, who had 
seemingly materialized out of thin air.  She also realized, to her 
horror, that she desperately needed a napkin to dab the carbonated 
beverage from her nostrils.  As usual, Angel's timing was impeccable. 

"Ahhh...no one.  Sit down.  Please."  Buffy then proceeded to quickly 
remove her purse from the chair next to her. 

"No escort tonight?  Haven't I told you about going to nightclubs 
alone?  You never know what kind of strange men you might meet." 

"Present company excluded, of course?" 

"Of course." 

"Actually, I'm hoping that Xander and Willow will join us later.  
They're hitting the books for a test tomorrow." 

Smiling, he replied, "Damn, we're all alone then." 

"You love it...want to dance?" 

Before he could respond, Angel found himself being pulled (with 
remarkable strength) towards the dance floor. 


Meanwhile, in a deserted factory across town, Xander was just beginning 
to regain his senses.  However, that was a mixed blessing in his 
present circumstances.  The teen quickly became aware of the fact that 
he was shackled, spread-eagle, against a cold, damp brick wall.  He was 
also shirtless and, despite his best efforts, his teeth were 
chattering.  The faint scent of rancid meat also seemed to permeate his 
surroundings.  After the fog had cleared from his senses, he also 
became aware of something else:  A large doll collection was arranged 
on shelves against the far wall.  Moments later, he heard a sharp 
metallic clang as the room's large steel door swung inward. 

"Look my dear, our guest is awake."  Turning towards Xander, Spike then 
added, "I do hope you're well rested.  We have quite an evening planned 
for you." 

Despite the dampness in the room, Xander could feel beads of sweat 
erupting on his body.  He also became aware of the fact that his pulse 
was racing. Spike couldn't help but smile, realizing that his terror 
tactics were having their desired effect, no matter what false front 
the boy tried to erect. 

"Oh, Spike.  He's wonderful.  Can we keep him?" 

"What the hell are you saying, you witch?  I'm no goddamned pet!" 

Raising a finger to her lips, Drusilla indicated that Xander should be 
quiet.  To emphasize the precariousness of his situation, she also 
started to gently run her fingers down his neck and chest.  
Impatiently, Spike simply rolled his eyes. 

"Shhh.  Good dog." 

"I'm no dog, you bitch!" 

With a lightning fast move, Drusilla then slapped Xander hard across 
the face while Spike reached out and yanked a handful of the teen's 
black hair. 

"I'm sorry, Dru.  I thought this one was housebroken a bit better.  
Well, no matter, I'll take care of that." 

Moving towards a nearby table, Spike quickly removed a cloth covering a 
variety of ominous-looking objects, including several of what appeared 
to be old-fashioned railroad spikes and tongs.  Now transformed to 
reveal his true fiendish nature, the male vampire removed a 5-inch 
spike from the table.  Slowly running his thumb over its tip, he 
visibly winced as it accidentally pierced the skin.  After sucking on 
the wound for a couple of seconds, his broad grin reappeared as he 
turned back towards his helpless captive. 

"Have you ever heard how I got my nickname?" 


After leaving the Bronze at 10 o'clock, Buffy and Angel took a stroll 
through Sunnydale's largest park.  Ostensibly, the Slayer wanted to 
make sure that none of the town's undead inhabitants were snacking on 
the little old ladies walking their poodles.  She also had a second, 
more personal, motivation.  Following one of the darker trails through 
the trees, they soon came upon an area where couples were either 
necking on benches near their parked cars or still inside cars with 
fogged-up windows. 

Grinning, Angel remarked, "Seems like a pretty dead night tonight -- 
wait, maybe I should re-phrase that..." 

With an equally large grin, Buffy replied, "I know what you mean.  At 
least the lover's lane is quiet." 

"Ahhh, Buffy, that's generally the idea isn't it?" 

"Yea, I guess so.  Maybe we should check out the ballfields...unless 
you want to hang here for awhile..." 

"...in case something turns up?" 

"Right.  You never can tell." 

"But don't we sort of stand out here?  We ARE lurking around in the 

After pondering Angel's remark for a millisecond, Buffy started to lead 
him to an unoccupied bench, remarking, "Then I guess we'll just have to 

As they started to become incognito, Angel whispered into the girl's 
ear, "I'm warning you.  I've been told I give quite a hickey." 

Buffy simply responded, "I know.  I was there, remember?" 

"Oh, yeah.  That WAS you, wasn't it?" 

That remark drew a playful slap across his face. 


After nearly six hours of continuous torture, Xander had lost 
consciousness once again.  Unfortunately for the teenager, Spike had 
honed his "talents" in such matters long ago and was an expert in 
inflicting excruciating, non-lethal (at least not until he wanted them 
to be) injuries.  However, noting the volume of blood that had pooled 
at the base of the wall, the vampire realized he was rapidly running 
out of time.  Drusilla, for her part, had tired of the proceedings a 
couple of hours earlier and had occupied herself by placing miniature 
ballgowns on many of her Civil War-era dolls -- oblivious to the
screams and sobs that were reverberating off the brick walls. 

"Dru, are you sure this one's special somehow?  He's not looking too 
fresh right now.  Maybe I should get you some new cards or tea leaves 
or something." 

"I saw it in a dream.  He's gifted alright.  I sense great power.  
You'll see, my pet." 

After asking his mate to rejoin him, Spike used a bucket of cold water 
to once again revive his victim. 

"Laddy, I'm afraid to say it, but you're not looking too grand."  With 
a snide laugh, he then added, "Hell, let's be honest, you're dying.  
That's the bad news.  But, there may be an upside...if you're smart 
enough to grasp it." 

Barely able to directly respond to his torturer, Xander's unfocused 
eyes indicated that he was going into shock.  No longer aware of his 
surroundings, he just kept mumbling, "It hurts...please stop...it 

"I bet it hurts.  Done up like a pincushion and all." 

"I don't think he's enjoying the party," said Drusilla with an impish 
grin as she cradled one of her dolls. 

"Not for long, love." 

The male vampire then proceeded to apply additional pressure on the 
spike that was impaling Xander's right hand to the wall.  As streaks of 
tears flowed down the boy's cheeks, he started pleading, "No more!  
Please, no more!" 

"That got his attention.  Now, down to business." 

Placing his face inches from Xander's ear, Spike then made his offer.  
"You can either die here -- now -- or live forever." 

After a couple of seconds, Xander replied simply, "No." 

"Oh, come now.  I'm offering you a major gift -- eternal 
life...immortality.  You can watch kingdoms and countries turn to dust, 
but you'll go on." 

Rolling his head from side to side, Xander once again replied, "No." 

Rubbing his chin, Spike then remarked, "OK, let me think.  What else 
would a young man be interested in above all else?" 

Drusilla then whispered something into her lover's ear. 

Slapping his pant leg, Spike then exclaimed, "Oh, yes!  Of course!  
Thank you, my pet.  How stupid of me...I must be getting old or 
something.  Women...chickies...babes.  Accept my offer and you can 
compete with that dog, Angelus, for the Slayer's attention.  You'd like 
that now, wouldn't you?" 

After a short pause, Xander weakly replied, "I'd rather be dead."  For 
emphases, he also spat into Spike's face.  The teen then blacked-out 
once again. 

Slowly wiping his face with a handkerchief, Spike simply commented to 
Drusilla, "See, I try to be nice and reasonable and look what it gets 
me.  The youth of today simply have no respect for their elders." 

"My poor Spike.  You gave him more chances than he deserved." 

Smiling, he replied, "Well, I always try to be a nice guy."  A moment 
later, he also remarked, "I guess you're dream was a bit off -- 
wouldn't be the first time.  Can we eat now?  Before he gets cold." 

"Yes, we can, my sweet." 

The two creatures then sunk their fangs into the major veins in the 
teen's exposed neck.  In less than a minute, his heart had ceased to 
beat.  Spike, withdrawing his canines first, muttered, "Fish." 

Drusilla, finishing moments later, turned and asked, "Excuse me, hon?" 

"I said, 'fish.'  He ate fish today.  Shame, I wasn't really in the 
mood for seafood." 


Buffy returned home from "patrolling" with Angel shortly before two in 
the morning (at least that would be the official version of events that 
Giles would be told).  Climbing into her house through the bedroom 
window, she had started to undress when she noticed the blinking red 
light on her answering machine. 

"Six messages?  I guess Willow and Xander must have been waiting around 
the Bronze after all." 

After pulling her sweatshirt over her head, she pressed the replay 
button and listened to the first message. 

"Message One, 7:10 p.m.:  'Hi Buffy.  It's Will.  I was just wondering 
if you've seen Xander?  We were supposed to study tonight and he isn't 
home.  Please call me if you check your messages.'" 

"Gee, Xander late for a study date.  Big surprise." 

"Message Two, 8:15 p.m.:  'Buffy.  It's Willow again.  Still no Xander.  
If he blew me off to be with Cordelia tonight, I'll kill him.  Talk to 
you later.'" 

"That's it.  Xander's a dead man." 

"Message Three, 9:15 p.m.:  'Buffy, I'm worried about Xander.  This 
isn't like him at all.  I'm home now, but there still isn't any answer 
at his house.  I hope something hasn't happened to him.  Please call 

Buffy, now concerned herself, listened to the last three messages that 
were also from an increasingly agitated Willow who, it seems, had 
eventually gone to the Bronze and found Cordelia, who had also not seen 
Xander.  During the last message an obviously upset Cordelia could also 
be overheard in the background.  The message ended with Willow asking 
her to call her no matter what time she got home. 

As she quickly dialed Willow's number, she couldn't help thinking, 
"Great, just what we need around here, another love triangle." 


Across town, as he approached his apartment located in a condemned 
building, Angel had more tangible reasons to be concerned.  Shortly 
after leaving Buffy at her house, he became aware of the presence of 
others of his kind following him, but remaining out of sight.  This was 
not the first time that Spike, or the Master before him, had had his 
followers play this type of cat and mouse game.  However, as he neared 
the entrance to his building, his keen eyesight and sense of smell 
quickly locked onto something new lying in the shadows.  Sprawled 
across the doorway was a body.  Quickly stooping down on one knee to 
get a better look at the person's face, Angel was shocked by the 

"Xander!  Oh God, no!" 

A moment later he then heard a shouted voice say, "I gave him the same 
choice you gave me, Angelus.  Only he refused my offer." 

Quickly standing, Angel -- now transformed -- turned towards the voice 
of his creation, which was emanating from somewhere across the street. 

The older vampire shouted back, "If you wanted to come after me, Spike, 
I was here.  This was unnecessarily brutal, even for you." 

Suddenly appearing on a nearby rooftop, Spike replied angrily, "Don't 
YOU lecture ME on brutality, Angelus.  Time was, you wrote the book.  
Now I'm simply adding some new chapters." 

"Why don't you come down here Spike and show me what a big man you are?  
Or maybe what I've heard is true and you simply don't -- measure up -- 
in certain areas." 

"Nice try, Angelus.  At one time remarks like that would have worked.  
But, no longer.  As my sire, you always taught me to avoid frontal 
assaults at all costs.  To first chip away at the opposition before 
moving in for the kill.  Well, consider yourself chipped.  Your only 
concern should be where I will strike next." 

Before he could reply, Angel could feel Spike's presence fading as the 
younger vampire left the area.  Turning his attention once again to 
Xander's obviously brutalized body, he whispered, "I sure hope MacLeod 
and Ryan are right about you." 

After unlocking the door to his building, the vampire quickly scooped 
up the teen and carried him inside. 


Within minutes, Angel was rapidly dialing phone numbers both in 
Sunnydale and Seacouver.  After asking an obviously groggy (and 
suspicious) Giles to meet him in his apartment -- alone -- he then 
tried the number at MacLeod's dojo.  Receiving no answer, he phoned Joe 
Dawson's bar. 

"Hello, Joe's Place." 

"Oh, hi Angel, how you been?" 

"Richie?  Yea, he's here.  Hold on." 

A few moments later, after reluctantly tearing himself away from a 
brunette at the other end of the bar, the young man picked up the 

"Hello.  Angel?  It's Richie.  What's up?" 

After listening for a few moments, a grimace crossing his face, the 
Immortal said, "I'll be right there.  Yeah, I still have the address.  
Later."  The redhead then slowly hung up the phone. 

"Trouble, Richie?" 

"Afraid so, Joe.  What else is new?" 

"Need any help?" 

"Truthfully?  I just don't know." 

"Well, if you do, I'm in the book." 

"Thanks, Joe." 

With his motorcycle helmet under his arm, Richie Ryan left the bar.  
Moments later, a red Yamaha could be heard speeding away into the 


Although Giles left for Angel's apartment at nearly the same time that 
Richie was climbing aboard his bike, the two arrived simultaneously.  
This was due largely to the fact that Giles drove like -- well, Giles 
-- compounded by the fact that since he had never been to the vampire's 
home before, he also got lost twice.  Richie, on the other hand, drove 
like the grand prix motorcycle racer that, in another lifetime, he just 
happened to be.  In a word, he drove like a maniac. 

When the Watcher saw Ryan roar up to the curb, he realized that 
something significant had happened. 

"Richie, what are you doing here?" 

"What has Angel told you?" 

"Just that he needed to see me right away.  Damn odd timing if you ask 
me.  Middle of the night and all."" 

"We'd better go up." 

"Has he told you anything?" 

"Oh, yeah!  That's why we'd better go up.  You'll see soon enough." 

Climbing the steps two at a time, Richie reached Angel's apartment door 
first.  It opened before he could knock.  Then, seeing Giles lagging 
behind, he added, "Sorry about the time, but I thought the two of you 
should be here.  He's in the bedroom." 

As Richie proceeded into the next room, Giles stopped to ask, "Angel, 
who's in your bedroom?" 


A chill started seeping into Giles as he asked his next questions, "Why 
is Xander in your bedroom?  Is he sick?" 

"No, Giles.  I wish it was that simple.  Xander was..." 

Before he could finish, Richie returned and remarked, "Man, they really 
did a job on him...bastards!" 

Angel then spoke again, "Giles, I...we...have something to tell you.  
Please sit down." 

A quizzical look crossed the Watcher's face as he occupied the nearest 

"Fine.  I'm seated.  Now will you please tell me what's wrong with 
young Mr. Harris in there." 

Angel, without any preamble, replied simply, "He's dead." 

After his mouth moved a few times without any sounds coming out, Giles 
finally managed to ask in a whisper, "Dead...how?" 

"He was attached by Spike and left like a burnt offering on my 

"Oh, good Lord!" 

At this point, Richie approached the older man and bent down so that he 
was at eye level with him. 

"Actually, Giles, there's more." 

Looking from one Immortal to the other, Giles was still dazed as he 
asked, "More?  How can there be more?" 

"Xander is an Immortal." 

Giles blinked several times before responding, "Pardon?  But you just 
said that he's dead.  What..." 

Richie then continued, "Giles, please listen to me.  Xander has 
experienced his 'first death.'  His body will heal.  It may take some 
time, but he will come back to life and his appearance will not change 
from this day on." 

Turning to Angel, the Watcher asked, "You knew?" 

Nodding, the vampire replied, "Yes, I did.  And so did Ryan." 

"Did Xander know?" 

"No.  We didn't want it to influence his life." 

Absorbing this information, Giles' normally rationale mentality slowly 
started to return as he replied, "Of course.  Very sensible."  A moment 
later, he asked, "May I see him?" 


Entering the dimly lit room, Giles' eyes quickly focused on the bruised 
and beaten body of Xander Harris.  Although the overall extent of the 
injuries were truly horrifying in their severity, it was the two sets 
of small marks (that had already started fading) on his neck that 
immediately caught the Watcher's attention. 

"They fed on him." 

Moving noiselessly up behind him, Angel softly replied, "Yes, they 

"What effect will that have on him?" 

"Hopefully, none.  But we just don't know...this has never happened 

"Can't you tell if he's becoming a vampire?" 

Angel answered, "No.  And right now, Ryan can't sense him either.  But 
that's actually normal for both vampires and Immortals during the 
period between death and resurrection." 

Richie then joined them in the small room. 

"Is he in any pain?" 

The Immortal replied, "Not now.  But, based on his injuries and the 
amount of healing that will still need to happen after he wakes up, he 
probably will be.  I know I was the first time around." 

"So what can we do?" 

"Nothing, but wait...and hope." 


Until shortly before dawn, Angel and Giles took up positions at the 
foot of Xander's bed while Richie slept on the couch.  They figured 
that because of everything that had happened to the young man, he would 
take some comfort in waking up to familiar faces.  At some point during 
their vigil, Giles also asked Angel, "What do I tell Buffy...and 
Willow...and Cordelia?" 


"How can I tell them nothing?" 

"It's not your right." 

"What do you mean?" 

"It's Xander's life to lead as he chooses. To tell, or not to tell, who 
he chooses." 

After a short pause, Giles then remarked, "Buffy will find out." 

With a resigned expression on his face, Angel replied, "I know.  She 
always does." 

A short time later, Richie swapped places with Angel, who slept with 
his head completely covered by his leather jacket. 

At shortly before noon, Xander's previously lifeless body was suddenly 
jolted as if an electric charge had passed through it.  Moments later, 
his eyes popped wide open and started moving wildly from left to right 
and back again as a pained expression swept over his features.  As 
Richie, Giles, and Angel moved into view, Giles spoke first, "Xander, 
you're safe now.  You're in Angel's apartment." 

Weakly trying to raise himself up, he was only able to gasp, 
"Spike...hurt...me" before Giles gently pushed him back down onto the 

"Yes, we know...he attacked you.  But you're safe now.  You need to 

Then, after muttering, "I'm so tired," the teen's eyes rolled back in 
their sockets and he again passed out. 

Silently observing the proceedings, Angel motioned for Richie to join 
him outside the room. 

"What wrong with this picture, Ryan?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"Xander's not breathing and, as far as I can tell, his heart isn't 

"How's that possible?  Are you sure?" 

"Yeah, I usually notice little things like that." 

"But I'm sensing the presence of another Immortal -- not a vampire.  
There's a difference." 

"I know." 

"Damn!  What now?" 

"Good question." 


Meanwhile, back at Sunnydale High, life was far from normal.  Willow 
and Cordelia were bouncing off the walls with worry, while Buffy sought 
out the font of knowledge for all such mysterious circumstances.  
Imagine her surprise when she found the library doors closed and 

Suddenly, from behind her, Buffy heard a familiar unfriendly voice 
remarking, "Mr. Giles called in sick today." 

Turning, she found herself face to face...no, make that face to bald 
head, with Principal Snyder. 


"Yes, Miss Summers.  Imagine that, even teachers get sick." 

But, I need to talk to him.  It's very important." 

"Well, I'll just have to wait till tomorrow, won't it?  However, since 
you obviously have a free period, you won't mind helping my secretary 
with some filing.  Come along, Miss Summers." 

As he turned to go back to his office, all Buffy could think to mutter 
was, "No good, Ferengi." 

Quickly spinning back around, Snyder asked, "What did you say?" 

"Ahh...I said you're a fun guy." 

"That's better." 


"Fine.  So let's recap.  Xander is not breathing and has no pulse.  
However, he was not affected by sunlight when I opened the curtains, 
casts a reflection, and did not react to a cross.  What does this tell 

After a moment, Angel answered, "He's a hybrid." 

Richie slowly nodded his agreement. 

Giles merely asked, "Sorry.  A what?" 

Angel then explained, "Actually, MacLeod was afraid of something like 
this.  Xander is displaying various vampire AND Immortal traits.  Like 
other hybrids in nature, he does not belong to one race or the other.  
The real question is if any of these traits will take on dominant 

Richie then asked, "So, he's still changing?" 

"Yes.  I believe his two natures are fighting for control.  Otherwise, 
he should be awake by now.  Instead, he's in constant pain, is not 
healing correctly, and keeps passing out.  That shouldn't happen to 
either vampires OR Immortals." 

Giles then asked a question that had yet to be voiced, "What about 
food?  Will he need to feed like a vampire, or not?" 

Sidestepping this issue, Angel instead remarked, "Actually, a more 
basic concern is if he can remain in control of himself.  Regardless of 
his need for blood, the fact remains that he's been infected by the 
same demon that controls all vampires." 

The Watcher then asked, "So is Xander still in there, or has some 
soulless monster taken over?" 

After pausing a moment, the vampire then responded, "Well, he still has 
a reflection and isn't affected by the cross or sunlight.  That's good 
-- I wish I could say the same.  And I was thinking about something 
Spike said last night...that Xander had refused 'his offer.'  I assume 
he's referring to his offer of Immortality.  That could be important." 

Richie simply asked, "Why?" 

Realizing the significance of Angel's last statement, Giles concluded 
the thought by saying, "When a vampire chooses to sire -- create -- 
another vampire, the candidate has to freely accept the offer.  In 
other words, there is a crucial element of free will involved.  Absent 
this, and the conversion process should not take place." 

The redhead then asked, "So why was Xander affected at all?  Why didn't 
he simply die and come back as a regular Immortal?" 

Angel responded this time, "Because of his inactive Immortal nature, I 
suspect he's caught in limbo." 

"Limbo?  What's that?" 

Leaning against a wall, Angel thought for a few moments before 
responding, "This is kind of complicated.  How can I explain?  
OK...when a vampire chooses to sire another, he or she brings the 
chosen candidate to the verge of death -- limbo -- and then gives the 
victim a simple choice:  Live or die.  Assuming the person chooses to 
live, the vampire transfuses them with some of his own blood to 
complete the process.  The major irony about it...and it's a real 
bitch...is that the person still dies, but the demon now controls their 

Giles then remarked, "So you're saying that Spike is not Xander's 

"I don't think so.  He never brought him across." 

Richie then asked, "So how do we knock him out of limbo?  He can't 
remain like that." 

The dark-haired vampire responded, "I agree.  In fact, it's hellish."  
Then, turning away from the two men on the couch, he added softly, 
"Some of the more sadistic of our kind actually use it to torment their 
more unfortunate victims...before finally killing them.  It's the 
ultimate act of domination over the helpless." 

Recognizing what he thought was the sound of guilt in Angel's voice, 
Giles then asked, "So what do you suggest?" 

"You're not going to like it." 

"I didn't think I would.  But, try me anyhow." 

Turning back towards the couch, he said, "OK...here goes...the next 
time he comes to, assuming Xander's willing, I let him drink some of 
the blood I have stashed in the refrigerator.  There's a few pints in 

"You're not serious." 

"Giles, if you have a better idea, I'm listening.  Do any of your 
ancient texts mention anything like this?" 

"Unfortunately, no.  Nothing that I've ever read has dealt with a 
situation quite like this." 

Richie then asked another question, "But wouldn't that push him farther 
over to the undead side of the field?" 

"I don't think so.  The blood will feed him, allowing him to heal, but 
the demon's influence shouldn't increase any further.  That would 
require blood taken directly from a vampire." 

After pondering Angel's words for a few minutes, Giles reluctantly 
agreed that the plan was worth trying.  Two hours later, they would get 
their chance.


Responding to the sound of breaking glass, the three men entered the 
bedroom to find Xander curled up in a fetal position.  A reading lamp 
was smashed on the floor next to the bed.  The teenager's face was 
white as a sheet and tears of blood were streaming down his cheeks.  It 
was obvious to all present that his pain was intensifying over time.  
With his knees drawn tightly up to his chest, Xander was moaning, "Help 
me!  Please make the pain stop...it hurts so bad!" 

Angel moved closest to the teen and spoke first, "Xander, it's Angel.  
We think we can help you.  Do you understand?" 

After the pain had subsided somewhat, the boy nodded weakly and 
whispered, "Yes." 

The vampire then continued, "Xander, we're going to give you some blood 
to drink.  It should relieve the pain." 

With a confused expression, Xander asked, "Blood?"  Turning away from 
Angel, he added, "No...I can't...don't want to be like Jesse." 

Hearing this exchange, Richie whispered to Giles, "Who's Jesse?" 

The Watcher explained that Jesse was Xander's friend until the Master 
transformed him into a vampire as part of his grand plan to destroy 
Buffy.  He concluded by telling Richie that Xander had to eventually 
kill his friend.  Giles and Richie then moved around to the other side 
of the bed.  The older man gently placed his hand on the boy's shoulder 
and asked, "Xander, do you trust us?" 


"Then let us try to help you." 

Suddenly, the boy was once again wracked by a series of intense pains 
that nearly caused him to roll onto the floor.  Tiny beads of blood 
also started to appear on his forehead and under his armpits. 

Giles and the Immortal then struggled to hold the teen flat onto the 
mattress.  With a wide-eyed expression, the Watcher could only mutter, 
"Oh my God." 

After the pain had subsided somewhat, Xander started pleading, "Please, 
do something! Do it now!" 

Angel then stepped forward holding an IV bag filled with blood.  
Quickly slitting open one of the seams using a sharpened fingernail, he 
then asked Giles and Richie to wait in the other room.  After the 
Immortal had closed the bedroom door, he moved the bag towards the 
boy's lips and softly said, "Xander, drink this slowly." 

As the liquid dripped into his mouth, Angel noted various changes 
coming over the young man...at first minor, but then more apparent.  
For one thing, Xander's skin ceased to be merely pale, but instead took 
on the appearance of a marble statue, with branches of red arteries and 
blue veins faintly visible beneath.  Within a minute, this 
transformation finally culminated in the appearance of a set of fangs, 
claws where fingernails had previously been, and pronounced bony ridges 
along the forehead.  Most disturbing of all, however, were the eyes.  
Angel was now staring into a pair of crimson-tinged golden pupils that 
no longer looked pained, but hungry. 

Also surprising was Xander's newly found strength.  The boy had 
completely drained the blood from the bag and now had a vice-like grip 
on Angel's arm.  This development greatly surprised the older vampire.  
In all his past experiences -- when Darla had brought him across as 
well as when he had brought Spike and Drusilla, among others, across -- 
newly fledged vampires were always much weaker than their creator.  
However, as Angel was rapidly discovering, this situation was unlike 
anything he had previously experienced. 

Grabbing onto Xander's upper arm with his free hand, he unsuccessfully 
attempted to loosen the teen's grip, saying, "Xander, you've got to let 

Until now, Angel had not used excessive force to break Xander's hold.  
However, this immediately changed when he saw the boy slowly starting 
to rise from the bed, seemingly preparing to sink his virgin fangs into 
his flesh.  Angel, now transformed himself, started shouting, "Xander!  
No!  Stop!" 

Angel's shouts quickly brought Richie and Giles back into the room.  
Upon entering, they were momentarily shocked into inaction by what they 
witnessed:  Two powerful creatures seemingly locked in a life and death 
battle...and, most surprising of all, the newcomer seemed to be 
winning.  Xander now had Angel backed up against a wall, using one hand 
to hold him off the floor by the throat, with the other clamped onto 
the side of his face, exposing his jugular.  The teen's fangs were sunk 
deeply into the elder vampire's neck.  Thin trails of blood were also 
flowing down the collar of Angel's white shirt. 

Thrashing wildly against this assault, Angel had one hand wrapped 
around the boy's neck, his claws deeply piercing the skin, and the 
other intertwined in his hair, attempting to pull his face away.  Now 
paler then usual, Angel could only croak to Richie and Giles, "Get him 
off me!" 

Seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, Xander was then blindsided by 
the two men as they each grabbed an arm, allowing Angel to collapse to 
the floor.  They then forced the young man face down onto the mattress. 

"Richie, we need to bind him.  Give me your belt." 

Using the thick leather strap, Giles tightly bound Xander's wrists.  As 
he was doing this, he heard sobbing coming from beneath him.  When he 
was finally rolled onto his back, a once-again human-looking Xander was 
saying, "I'm sorry...I didn't want to hurt anyone...I just couldn't 

Now sitting on the edge of the bed, Richie responded, "We know, Xander.  
It'll be alright." 

Noticing that Angel was no longer in the bedroom, Giles left Richie 
with Xander and went in search of the vampire.  He soon found him 
braced against the kitchen counter with the refrigerator door tossed 
open.  Angel had already drained the contents of one blood bag, which 
was tossed onto the floor, and was now quickly consuming the contents 
of a bottle of plasma in much the same manner as a person tosses back a 
cold beer.  When he finished, he placed the empty glass container on 
the countertop. 

From the adjoining living room, the Englishman coldly remarked, "Well, 
I hope you're satisfied." 

"Not now, Giles." 

"Xander's probably worse off now..." 

Quickly removing his blood stained shirt, thereby exposing an equally 
stained T-shirt beneath, Angel repeated, "Giles, I said, not now." 

"I should never have agreed to this...amateurish attempt.  I should 
have researched..." 

At that, Angel suddenly turned and pulverized the empty glass bottle 
under his fist, sending glass fragments in several directions.  Without 
flinching, he then turned and started to advance on the Watcher.  His 
eyes flashing dangerously, he roared, "Shut up, Giles!  Right now!  Or 
I'll shut you up!" 

Seeing the look of fear on the man's face, Angel stopped and stared at 
the floor for several seconds.  Quickly regaining his composure as well 
as his human appearance, he then said, "Sorry, Giles.  It's been a long 
day.  I just didn't expect that to happen in there.  He shouldn't be 
that strong." 

Removing his glasses, Giles took a deep breath and replied, "No, 
actually, I was out of line.  I know you're trying to help Xander.  We 
all are.  It's just that he could have destroyed you." 

"I know.  But, he didn't.  We'll just have to try something else." 

With a nod, the Watcher said simply, "Quite right." 


By later that evening, the seriousness of Xander's condition had become 
clearer.  Although still restrained, he was rapidly consuming the 
remaining contents of Angel's refrigerator.  The teen was also not 
himself, figuratively or literally.  When he was freshly fed, he 
exhibited signs of his mortal self, but when he was hungry, he was 
exhibiting other more ominous characteristics that Angel recognized all 
too clearly. 

To address the boy's worsening condition, Giles returned to the library 
to do some intense research into a possible course of action, while 
Angel left for the local hospital to obtain a fresh supply of blood 
products.  This left Richie to care for his stricken friend alone.  
Ironically, he recalled that this experience was not very different 
from years before when he had helped friends through drug withdrawals 
while living on the streets. 

"Easy, Xander.  Angel said you shouldn't drink so fast." 

Once the drained bag of plasma was removed from his lips and he had 
transformed back to normal, Xander was able to reply, "That's easy for 
him to say.  He's been doing this longer than me.  Man, I hate this 
shit."  Looking down at his hands, he then added, "Can't you untie me?  
Then I could feed myself at least." 

"Ah, sorry Xander.  That probably wouldn't be such a good idea.  You 

"Yea, I know.  I put the bite on Angelu...Angel.  Served him right, 
though.  He knows that can happen when you get too close to a 

"You're no monster, Xander.  You're just...different." 

"No, Richie.  YOU'RE just different.  I'm a freak," Xander immediately 

Trying to reason with the teen, Richie then explained how several years 
before a renegade band of Watchers with similar feelings about 
Immortals had set out to destroy his race.  He finished by remarking, 
"And finally, MacLeod was able to kill Horton.  But only after a lot of 
good people had died.  Horton thought Immortals were freaks of nature 
to be hunted down and destroyed." 

"But that's different.  Immortals don't have to kill humans to 

"Neither does Angel." 

"Hey, newsflash!  I'm not Angel.  In fact, I tried to make an hors 
d'oeuvre out of him." 

"That may be true.  But since we're having this conversation, I don't 
think you're very different than him." 

Looking unconvinced, Xander then asked, "Where's Giles?  I think I 
scared him before.  He looked a little pale." 

"Have you looked in a mirror yourself recently?" 

"Very funny." 

"I thought so.  But, to answer your question, Giles went back to the 
library to crack his books.  He's sure he'll find something to help 

Wincing, Xander replied, "I'd be satisfied if I could just get rid of 
this damn headache.  I guess I know how you and MacLeod feel whenever 
Angel is around." 

Actually Xander, there's something I have to..." 

Richie stopped short as a dramatic change visibly came over the teen.  
One moment he was completely lucid and the next, he was writhing in 
agony, struggling against his bonds." 

"No...not again!  Richie...get more blood...please...it really hurts." 

"Xander, stay with me here.  Angel will be back soon.  Try to fight 

Falling back against the headboard, the now heavily perspiring teen 
could only feebly respond, "I'll try." 

For his part, the Immortal took small comfort in one positive 
development, thinking, "At least he's not sweating blood again." 


Back at the darkened school library, Giles was sitting at a table lit 
only by a green-shaded lamp, frantically looking for something -- 
anything -- that could be used to reverse vampirism.  This, he realized 
from speaking to Angel on several occasions in the past, was no minor 
feat.  Truth be told, the vampire himself had unsuccessfully scoured 
the globe for the better part of a century looking for just such a 
cure.  Finally resigning himself to his fate, he had come to Sunnydale 
on a mission:  Although he would remain a vampire, he would help the 
Slayer destroy others of his kind and thereby lessen their harm
to mankind.  In so doing, he also sought absolution for his multitude 
of past crimes. 

The Watcher was so engrossed in his search that he didn't hear the 
doors to the library quietly swing open and close again.  Therefore, 
when he finally looked up from the dusty volume he was inspecting, he 
nearly jumped out of his skin.  Standing before him were three teenage 
girls...and they didn't look very happy. 

"Where have you been for the last two days, Giles?  I've left messages 
for you on your machine and with Miss Calendar who, by the way, is also 
not pleased." 

"Buffy, please, let me explain.  I've..." 

Willow then said, "Giles, Xander has disappeared.  Do you know where he 
is?  He really can't afford to miss classes.  His grades aren't that 
good to begin with." 

The Watcher then tried again, unsuccessfully, to continue.  All he 
could get out was, "I've been with Xander..." before Cordelia remarked 
to no one in particular, "That worm.  If he's hiding from me, I'll kill 
him.  We were supposed to go out last night..."  Then, noticing the 
look of disgust on the two other girl's faces, she quickly added, 
"...to the mechanic.  Yes, we were going to the mechanic to have my car 

Turning back towards her Watcher, the Slayer then said, "Speak up, 
Giles.  What's making all the men around here act like a bunch of 
dorks.  First Xander, then Angel, and then you fall off the face of the 
planet.  You didn't all go on one of those male bonding things where 
you go into the woods and stand around a campfire in your underwear and 
howl at the moon, did you?" 

"What?  No, nothing like that.  I've..." 

It was now Willow's time to interrupt with a daydream, absently 
remarking, "Xander and Angel in their 
underwear...heh...ha...oh...oh...I mean, not that I would ever want to 
see them in their underwear."  Realizing that all eyes in the room were 
now locked on her, she sheepishly concluded by saying, "I'll be quiet 

Before attempting to continue, Giles waited to make sure that no other 
random comments were forthcoming from the three who were now standing
before him, hands on hips, each impatiently tapping a foot on the 

"Are you all finished?" 

Looking first left then right for nods of agreement, Buffy then 
answered for the group, "Yes." 

"Right.  As I was saying, I've been with Xander for the past 48 hours.  
Angel and Richie Ryan have been with us." 

At the mention of the Immortal's name in the same sentence with 
Angel's, Buffy's wiggins detector immediately went to Red Alert status. 

"Richie Ryan?  Why would..." 

"Please let me continue." 

"Fine.  Go on." 

"As I was saying, the three of us have been helping Xander who 
was...attacked by Spike on Wednesday night.  He hasn't quite been 
himself since..." 

That was as far as he got before complete pandemonium broke out in the 
room.  Willow practically collapsed into the nearest chair as Buffy and 
Cordelia rapidly starting advancing.  Now closely examining his 
fingernails, the Watcher absently listened as a voice in the back of 
his head calmly noted that this wasn't going very well.  As he pleaded 
for quiet, he was only vaguely aware of the verbal barrage being 
directed at him from all sides, the highlights of which included: 

"Attacked by Spike!  Not himself!  Who the hell is he then, Giles?" 

"My poor Xander." 

"And you kept this to yourself for two days!  Could you possibly be any 
more feeble?" 

"My poor Xander." 

"Where is he, Giles?  I want to see him!  Now!" 

"My poor Xander." 

"Does this mean I'll have to give him his class ring back?" 

It soon became obvious that Giles had also reached the end of his rope 
when he picked up a thick volume and started repeatedly slamming it 
down on the tabletop. 

"Silence [boom], silence [boom], silence, I say [boom, boom, boom]!" 

Although the women were still glaring at him, some semblance of order 
was restored.  Considering Angel's earlier admonition, Giles then 
decided to withhold the facts about Xander's Immortal nature from the 
group, choosing only to relate the recent vampiric complications.  
Selecting his words carefully, he then continued, "The truth of the 
matter is that Xander is exhibiting some ah...attributes...of 
vampirism.  That's why I'm here.  I'm trying to find something to help 
him get well."  Only Buffy was able to respond to this bombshell. 

"Giles, are you saying that Xander is a vampire?" 

"Well, I didn't...wouldn't...say..." 

"For God's sake!  YES or NO, Giles!" 


As Buffy exhaled deeply, Willow muttered, "Oh, God."  Cordelia, 
meanwhile, was dumbstruck. 

"I'm very sorry.  But we're doing all we can." 

Giles could actually visualize the gears spinning in the Slayer's mind 
when she asked, "He's at Angel's apartment, isn't he?" 

"Yes, but I don't think..." 

Quickly spinning around on her boot heal, Buffy simply said, "We're 
going to see him." 

At that, the Watcher practically ran across the room to physically 
block the trio from leaving, stating, "No, you're not!  You can't!" 

"Move, Giles." 


"I'm warning you, Giles.  Move it, or else." 

Removing his glasses, the Watcher replied, "Or else, what?  What are 
you going to do young lady, throttle me?  Why don't you try.  I'm tired 
of being treated as everyone's punching bag today." 

"Lay off the tea, Giles, I think you're getting delusional.  Try decaf 
for a change." 

"I'm not moving and you're not going to see Xander." 

"OK, Giles, I'll play along.  Why aren't we going to see Xander?" 

"Because he doesn't want to see you -- any of you." 

Hearing this, Willow stepped forward and said, "I've known Xander since 
the second grade.  Why wouldn't he want to see me...us?" 

"It is precisely because he cares for all of you that he doesn't want 
you to see him...like he is.  That's why Angel and I didn't tell you 
what happened." 

Softly, Cordelia asked, "Giles, how bad is he?" 

"He's not good.  That's why we must find a cure -- or at least a 
treatment -- for him.  You and Willow would be most useful helping me 
here.  As for you, Buffy, you should go out and patrol tonight.  
There's no indication that Spike won't be carrying on as usual.  
Therefore, so should we." 

"I just don't like doing nothing, Giles." 

"You are doing something -- we all are.  However, we just can't let 
Spike run roughshod over Sunnydale in the meantime." 

With a small, somewhat reluctant nod, the Slayer replied, "OK, Giles.  
I'll do this your way." 

"Thank you, Buffy." 

A few seconds later the Slayer departed, leaving two slowly closing 
wooden doors in her wake. 

"Giles, what should we do?" 

"Help me go through the stacks looking for any references to halting 
and, hopefully, reversing the early onset of vampirism.  Willow, if you 
could search through Miss Calendar's computer web...whatevers..." 

"Websites, Giles." 

"Yes, yes.  Well, that would also be very helpful." 

The young computer hacker extraordinaire then asked the Watcher, 
"Giles, who's with Xander now?" 

"Richie Ryan.  And Angel should also be home by now."  Then, seeing the 
obviously worried expression on her face, he added optimistically, 
"Don't worry, Willow, I'm sure everything's under control." 


However, back at Angel's apartment things were far from under control.  
In fact, they had gotten progressively worse since the blood supply had 
been exhausted.  And Angel was overdue from his errand to replenish it. 

Richie was having great difficulty handling the teenager who weighed 
only slightly less than he did.  Making matters worse, the boy, now 
alternating between occasional strangled speech and inhuman growls, was 
frequently convulsing off the mattress.  This forced Richie to either 
hold him down by the shoulders or pick him up off the floor. 

At one point, Xander had even managed to get on his feet and tried to 
hurl himself through the black curtained bedroom window before the 
Immortal managed to wrestle him back down and tie his legs together 
with a curtain sash.  Richie would actually have preferred to lash the 
teen to the bed if he had some rope.  Now, Xander was desperately 
trying to bite through the leather belt binding his hands. 

"Xander stop, please, you're going to hurt yourself." 

As he tried to move Xander's head away from the strap, the boy suddenly 
turned to the side, growled, and bit the Immortal in the hand. 

Quickly pulling his limb back, Richie yelped, "Son of a bitch!" 

"Let me go!  You've got to let me go!" 

Waiting for the bleeding to stop as little flashes of lightning quickly 
closed the small wound, Richie then asked, "Why, Xander?  Tell me why 
you've got to go." 

"Have to feed...the hunger!  Where's Angelus?  He knows how it is." 

"Angel's coming.  He called to say he's on his way home." 

After unsuccessfully thrashing against his bonds again, Xander sighed, 
"No time -- the hunger -- forgive me, Richie."  As the demon took 
control of Xander, he focused his golden eyes on the Immortal's deep 
blue pupils.  Speech suddenly became very difficult as Richie felt as 
if he had been struck over the head by a two by four. 

"Xander...why?  What...are you doing?" 

"Release me." 

"Xander, I...can't" 

"Release me.  Now." 

"Don't...do this." 

"You can't resist me." 

Losing his ability for voluntary muscle control as the vampire's will 
overpowered his own, Richie slowly started to untie Xander's 
restraints.  Although he was unable to break the trance, the young 
Immortal's mind did not surrender easily.  As the battle of wills 
continued, Richie's pulse and blood pressure dramatically increased, 
eventually causing several blood vessels near the surface of his skin 
to rupture.  By the time the vampire was freed, Richie -- now standing 
motionless next to the bed -- was bleeding from his nostrils and an 

Xander then rose and carefully placed the palms of his now claw-like 
hands on both sides of the Immortal's face.  Deepening the mental link, 
Xander started picking up images buried deep in Richie's psyche, 
flashes of sword duels, Quickenings, and death as well as the most 
overpowering emotions of all -- love and guilt.  The love of two woman, 
Tessa Noel and Christina O'Leary, one shot dead on a dark street and 
the guilt of not preventing it, and the other butchered in her 
apartment.  There was also something else, the images of an abandoned 
child, left to grow up in orphanages and foster homes. 

However, this exchange of thoughts and images was not a one way street.  
On his end, Richie was receiving the overwhelming emotions of a teen 
who was deeply in love with a girl who loved another.  A teen who was 
betrayed and nearly killed -- and eaten -- by several potential lovers 
and finally brutally tortured and crucified by two undead fiends.  And, 
finally, most telling of all were the images of a neglected child, left 
to occupy himself in an empty house. 

Also passing between the two was the unmistakable, undeniable message:  

Nearly staggered by this stark realization, Xander Harris then realized 
what had to be done.  Tears running down his cheeks, he slowly sank his 
fangs into Richie Ryan's neck. 


When Angel returned to his apartment, he immediately realized something 
was wrong.  Most telling was that he received no response from Richie 
when he called to the Immortal.  Placing a small cooler containing the 
freshly acquired blood down on the floor, he quickly proceeded to the 
bedroom.  There before him, peacefully stretched out across the 
mattress, was the young redhead.  Once again calling his name, Angel 
then realized that Ryan was actually snoring.  Only by shaking him by 
the shoulders, did he start to receive a response. 

"Ryan, what the hell happened?  Where's Xander?" 

"Huh...what?  Xander?" 

"Yes, Xander.  You know, the guy YOU were supposed to watch." 

Shaking his head from side to side to clear the cobwebs, the Immortal 
only then started to recall the events that had transpired nearly an 
hour before. 

"Oh, man!  He did something to me!  I think he hit me with that Vulcan 
mind-meld whammy thing that you guys do." 

"That's impossible.  He's too young to have that power.  I only 
acquired it in the past century or so." 

"Oh, yeah, Mr. Spock?  Well, I'm telling you that he took one look at 
me and I folded like a house of cards." 

"Damn.  I didn't expect that.  I wouldn't have left you alone with him.  
I'm surprised he didn't use YOU as a blood source." 

Rubbing the right side of his neck, the young Immortal replied, "Ah, I 
wouldn't say that." 


"Yea, well, I'm a fast healer.  However, he didn't kill me.  I know 

"What do you mean?" 

"Before he tapped my keg, I remember exchanging bits of memories 
and...I can only describe them as emotions...from our lives, both as 
children and more recently.  At one point, this weird feeling of 
kinship passed between us.  It almost felt like a Quickening...it was 
that intimate.  I must have fallen asleep then, but I never died.  
That's something I always remember.  Gives me an upset stomach." 

"Tell me about it." 

"So does that mean anything to you?" 

Suddenly noticing a folded piece of paper on the nightstand, Angel 
moved towards it while replying, "It means that Xander now knows about 
his Immortality.  Otherwise, he would have drained you completely.  No 
doubt about that." 

"That wasn't the best way to find out about it.  First the shock of 
being a bloodsucker ah...sorry...vampire, and now this.  So, where 
would he go?" 

Handing the sheet of paper to Richie, Angel replied, "I think I have 
some idea." 

Quickly scanning it, Richie could also remark, "This is not good." 

"I agree.  Let's go.  We'll take your bike, mine's dead." 

"What happened?" 

"Blown manifold, that's why I was delayed.  I walked halfway home." 

As the two rapidly moved through the living room, Richie stopped to 
retrieve his boots, helmet, and long beige coat, which was strewn 
across the couch. 

"Whoa...whoa!  Something's missing here." 

Standing at the door to the apartment, Angel asked, "What's wrong?" 

"Nothing, except that I seem to have misplaced a four-foot piece of 
sharpened steel.  Call me old-fashioned, but I had a sword when I came 
in and I'll have a sword when I go out." 


"...has sticky fingers.  I've obviously been training him a little TOO 

Moving towards a wall-mounted display case, the vampire then said, "Use 
this.  I won't need it where we're going."  He then handed an
eighteenth-century British Army saber, complete with a red tassel 
hanging from the hilt, to the Immortal. 

With a low whistle, Ryan remarked, "Nice.  Very nice.  Does it clash 
with my jeans?" 

"Hurry up, Ryan!" 


Meanwhile, at the lair, Drusilla was happily serving tea to her dolls, 
waiting for Spike to return with something -- or someone -- to eat.  
Also with her were a couple of Spike's personal guard, left to protect 
Her Evil Highness. 

"She's cracked, isn't she?" 

"Shhh!  Are you crazy?  She'll hear us." 

"The Master was much better than these two crackpots.  At least he 
followed our traditions.  Now we're getting our asses kicked by the 

"If you don't shut up, Spike'll stake us.  Is that what you want?" 

"Not if we stake him first." 

"That's treason!  He's our leader!  We can't..." 

"Oh, boys." 

"Shit.  Now look, she's heard us." 

Moving towards their queen, the vampires known as Matthew and Jeremy 
asked, "Yes, Drusilla?" 

"Which looks better, the blue dress or the pink one?" 

Looking first at each other and then back at Drusilla, Jeremy quickly 
replied with a smirk, "the pink one." 

With a small smile, Drusilla then picked up and flung a stake that had 
been lying on her bed with lighting speed.  Before Jeremy even had time 
to scream, he was a pile of dust on the floor. 

"Wrong.  I like the blue one.  Don't you agree, Matthew?" 

"Yes...yes my queen!" 

"Don't EVER forget that Matthew!" 

As the remaining vampire quickly retreated, a crashing noise emanated 
from the direction of the building's loading dock entrance.  Quickly 
putting her doll down, Drusilla said, "Company's coming.  Matthew, 
please go welcome him." 

As the vampire quickly departed holding a long metal rod for defense, 
Drusilla picked up her deck of tarot cards and started shuffling.  
Moments later, as she dealt out the skeletal death card, the 
distinctive sound of metal clashing against metal could be heard, 
followed by screaming (which soon faded) and the unmistakable sound of 
a vampire being dusted.  Placing down the deck, she looked up in time 
to see a figure standing in the doorway, sword held erect. 

A deeply resonant voice remarked, "Hi honey, I'm home!" 

"Spike said you were dead.  But I knew you were special.  He never 
listens to me though." 

After using his tongue to lick Matthew's remains off his lower lip, 
Xander answered, "Spike was right.  I am dead.  You killed me, 
remember?  But death's like Jell-O -- there's always room for more." 

"I always liked you, Alexander.  You're very handsome.  I'll talk to 
Spike about letting you rule with us.  We can be one big happy 

"Yeah, like the bloodsucking Brady Bunch -- NOT!  You don't get it 
Drusilla, I'm kinda PISSED right now -- death has that effect on some 
people -- and I'm going to do to you and Spike what I just did to your 
stooge out there." 

"That's not very nice." 

Golden eyes flashing with light reflected off the now bloody 
swordblade, the newly fledged Xander Harris replied, "You're right, 
Drusilla.  It's not going to be very nice at all.  In fact, I'm still 
hungry and you're beginning to look pretty yummy right now." 


As Buffy made her way around the perimeter of the block where the 
Bronze was located, she heard a muffled cry.  Running around a corner, 
she was confronted with the image of a teenage girl being pulled head 
first into a black 1950s vintage car with orange flames highlighting 
its front fenders.  Upon sensing the Slayer, the car's occupants 
quickly released the girl and exited the vehicle to confront her.  They 
consisted of four male vampires, including Spike himself. 

"I told the lads that picking up something at the drive-thru of that 
finger-lickin good place would be a better idea.  But do they listen?  

Quickly unzipping various pockets in her leather jacket to better 
access her assorted weaponry, Buffy wryly responded, "Guess that would 
have tasted just like chicken?" 

"Yeah, that just what the boys said.  But nowadays, it's always eat and 

Without missing a beat, she replied, "Don't you know that can cause 
serious indigestion?"  Then, holding up a stake, she added, "But so can 

"Oooh, a sharpened stick.  I'm sooo frightened." 

"You should be, Spike.  Actually, considering what you did to Xander, 
I'm going to enjoy this." 

"Well, at least he tasted like fish." 

"You bastard!" 

With a smile, he replied, "You're right about that." 

The vampires then advanced as a group with Spike in the lead.  Soon, 
they split up and were attacking from four different directions.  After 
Buffy had staked one and knocked another to the ground with a kick to 
the side of the head, she suddenly realized that she could no longer 
freely move her upper body.  She immediately realized that a vampire 
who had been holding back from the battle had somehow managed to grab 
both her arms, which were now held firmly behind her back.  Within 
seconds, the vampire that had previously been sprawled on the ground 
was also holding her legs immobile. 

"Very good, Gregory.  I'll reward you and Louis for this.  Looks like 
we're going to have a real treat tonight." 

"You're vile!" 

"Now, now.  Please be a good sport.  Sticks and stones, you know.  I 
don't want to remember you as a sore loser." 

As Spike bared his fangs and slowly closed in for the kill, he was 
suddenly staggered by an overpowering sensation that hammered into his 
brain.  Grabbing the sides of his head with both hands as he crumbled 
to his knees, he could only manage to scream, "Drusilla!" 

Momentarily distracted by their leader's collapse, the two vampires 
loosened their grip just enough for Buffy to wriggle one arm free.  She
immediately elbowed the vampire behind her in the stomach and followed 
up with another kick to the head of the vampire holding her legs. 

As the tide of battle started turning, Spike managed to get back to his 
feet and make his way back to the car.  Without a word, he jumped in 
and sped off in the direction of his lair, leaving his two comrades to 
fend for themselves. 

"Good old Spike knows when to turn tail and run.  Do you?" 

Realizing that death -- permanent death -- at the hands of the Slayer 
was now a very real possibility, the two fiends also quickly departed 
in the direction of the fleeing car. 

After a few seconds, Buffy started analyzing what had just happened.  
"That was way weird.  Well, Giles would say to quit while I'm ahead.  
But if I can get Spike and Dru, I'll be way, way, way ahead.  Me 
thinks, I'll go see what's up at the undead Ponderosa." 

The girl then made her way across town at a brisk jog. 


Screeching his car to a halt alongside his headquarters, Spike was 
greeted by a steel door ripped from its hinges.  No longer sensing the 
presence of his lover of nearly a century, he ran inside without first 
taking his customary precautions before entering an unknown situation. 

"Drusilla!  Matthew!  Jeremy!  Where are you?"  Receiving no response, 
he then shouted into the darkness of the shop floor, "Is anybody 

It was then that the vampire noticed the flickering of candles 
emanating from the inner sanctum that he shared with Drusilla.  Quickly 
stooping down to pick up a discarded monkey wrench lying on the floor, 
he cautiously made his way towards his living quarters.  As he neared 
the chamber's doorway, he started to experience a painful sensation 
quite unlike anything he had ever encountered.  Since he had never 
brushed up against any other types of Immortals, this was completely 
understandable.  Once again, he called, "Dru!" 

Entering the chamber, Spike's eyes quickly adjusted to the light, which 
was being provided by the dozens of black candles that Drusilla had 
gathered over the decades.  Before him, scattered on the floor, were 
the heads of his lover's dolls, while the decapitated toys themselves 
were still sitting on their shelves.  Standing at the foot of his bed, 
sword in hand, was a male figure turned away from the doorway. 

"What took you so long, Spike?  I almost ran out of dolls." 

"You'll die horribly for this...this outrage.  Where's Dru?" 

"Die horribly?  Sorry, been there, done that.  Change the CD Spike, 
you're repeating yourself." 

When Xander turned around, the blond vampire was momentarily 
speechless.  However, after several seconds, he managed to state, "I 
drained you -- I didn't sire you -- you should be dead!" 

"Everyone keeps saying that.  Guess you just can't count on anything 
these days." 

Realizing that something was very odd about this situation -- even by 
Sunnydale standards -- Spike quickly decided to try a different tack.  
Smiling, he said, "Xander, brother, we can work something out.  It's so 
hard to find good help these days.  Me, Dru, you...we'd be 

"That's really funny.  Drusilla also wanted a threesome.  If only these 
things happened when I was alive.  Man, you're a lucky guy, Spike, she 
seems like a really kinky girl...ah vampire...or is it vampiress?  


"After much thought, about one second's worth, I turned her down.  
Shame, she kinda got hung up by the rejection.  But, I know how that 
can be."  The teenager then used the tip of his sword to point towards 
the ceiling.  Spike's gaze followed.  There, suspended by a thick metal 
chain, was the unconscious, crucified form of Drusilla.  Wearing a now 
tattered and bloody flowing white dress, she was nailed to the wooden 
beams by several of Spike's trademark pieces of hardware.  A low 
sizzling noise could be heard and a haze of smoke was emanating from 
the places where her bare flesh was in contact with the cross. 

"Like I told her, Spike, payback can be a REAL BITCH!" 

With a guttural growl, the older vampire threw himself at Xander. 


Meanwhile, outside the building, Richie and Angel were pulling up 
alongside Spike's car.  Quickly stepping off as the Immortal removed 
his helmet, Angel immediately noticed the damaged door. 

"Xander must have gotten here first.  Can you sense him?" 

"I don't know.  I feel something, but I'm not sure if it's him, you, 
other vampires, or all of the above." 

"Same here." 

Removing the sword from under his coat, Richie then said to the 
vampire, "Lead on.  These are your people this time around." 

However, before they could proceed more than 20 feet into the building, 
the two suddenly became aware of growling sounds coming from behind 
them.  Evidently, the vampires known as Gregory and Louis had returned 
home after having been denied dinner by the Slayer earlier in the 

"Friends of yours, Angel?" 

"Very funny." 

"They don't look too happy." 

"They never do." 

As the four combatants started circling each other, the Immortal asked 
Angel, "By the way, how do I stop you...these...guys?" 

"Simple.  Wooden stake in the heart." 

"Ah, not so simple.  I don't have any stakes.  How else?" 


Upon hearing this, Richie immediately cheered up, stating, "OK!  Now 
that, I can do!" 

Angel was then jumped by Gregory as Louis picked up a crowbar lying on 
top of one of the dusty tables.  In a blur of fangs and claws it soon 
became readily apparent that Gregory was not long for this world.  
Having unwisely decided to attack Angel, a much older vampire, one on 
one, he was soon being tossed around like a ragdoll.  Within minutes, 
the elder vampire pinned him to the floor with a knee on his chest and, 
seconds later, plunged a stake in his heart.  Amid the explosion of 
dust, Angel quickly looked up to see how Richie's fight was 

About 15 feet away, the Immortal was slicing away at an opponent who, 
it was obvious, was not trained in the finer points of sword dueling.  
Although the vampire had superior inhuman speed, it's attack was 
uncoordinated and the Immortal was able to recover from the few body 
blows that the creature had landed.  In contrast, Richie's assault was 
well thought out and therefore was methodically turning the vampire 
into a shish kabob.  One slash in particular caught the vampire in the 
face, opening a long gash from its ear to its jawline. 

"Ryan, can't you hurry up?" 

"Hey, if you can do better, you're welcomed to try."  Richie then 
followed-up with a punch to his opponent's face, which as far as Angel 
could tell had no effect on the vampire, but most certainly did on the 

"Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch!" 

A moment later, the vampire responded by inflicting some damage of its 
own.  Using its claws, it left a set of angry red slashes along the 
right side of the young man's face.  Reaching up to assess the damage, 
the Immortal's hand came away bloody. 

"That's it!  No more mister nice guy!" 

Without any further preliminaries, the Immortal then wound-up and took 
a swing directly at the vampire's neck.  Although the creature managed 
to raise the crowbar to block, the sharpened steel sliced cleanly 
through the tool and continued on through the flesh and bone beyond.  
As its head hit the floor, it and the rest of the body imploded in a 
pile of ashes. 

Looking down with a quizzical expression, the Immortal silently stood 
there for several seconds as small streaks of lightning danced across 
the rapidly fading wounds on his face.  He was soon joined by Angel. 

"What's wrong?  Are you hurt?" 

"I'll live.  It's just that...this dust thing...is sort of 

"Well, excuse me.  But we can't all get indoor lightning storms that 
level buildings." 

"Hey, what can I say?" 

The two then turned towards the sound of footsteps rapidly approaching 
from outside the building. 

"Hey guys, did someone throw a party and forget to invite me?  
Remember, there are union rules about that -- no amateur slayage 

"Buffy...how did you find us?" 

"Actually, I just followed the fleeing dead guys.  They led me to this 
area and I eventually stumbled on Spike's car out front." 


The Slayer then asked, "So, what's shaking around here?"  Then, 
noticing the two large piles of dust on the floor, she quickly added, 
"Other than the obvious carnage." 

It was then that the three heard a loud crash come from deep within the 
building.  Turning in the direction of the sound, they noticed the 
illuminated doorway along the far wall.  As they moved towards the 
opening all three, in their own way, began to sense the presence of 
other supernatural creatures within. 

"Hey, what do you know, the gang's all here," quipped the Slayer. 

Approaching the doorway, their eyes soon beheld a candlelit room with 
dancing shadows being projected on crimson colored brick walls.  
Entering the room in single file, they arrived in time to see a 
writhing body drop with a loud crash onto a heavy wooden table -- 
splintering it -- from a point high up in the chamber.  Quickly 
recognizing the form, it immediately became apparent to the newcomers 
that Spike's already bad day was about to get worse -- much worse. 

"Now there's something you don't see every day," Angel dryly commented. 

Scanning for the source of Spike's newly-found propulsion, Buffy let 
her eyes drift higher in the chamber.  She wasn't quite prepared for 
what she saw staring back:  The vampiric visage of Xander Harris 
clinging to the smooth surface of the wall by one clawed-hand while 
holding a bloody sword in the other. 

"Oh my God!  Xander?" 

Quickly attempting to avert his face, the newly-fledged vampire did not 
reply directly to the Slayer.  Instead, he addressed his other ground-
based comrades. 

"Angelus...get her out of here!  I didn't want her to see me like 

Angel, however, did not respond.  He was much too focused on what was 
hanging from the ceiling across the room.  Finally, he managed to mouth 
a single word, "Drusilla...?" 

"Richie!  I said get her out of here!  Please!" 

Stepping further into the room, Buffy replied simply, "I'm not going 
anywhere, Xander.  We're here to help you.  Please come down." 

At that point, an angry growl emanated from the pile of wooden 
splinters in the center of the room.  A couple of seconds later a 
familiar voice angrily remarked, "Yes, Xander.  Please come down...so I 
HOME...MY HOME!  AND TRASH IT!"  Spike then emerged from the debris by 
violently tossing it aside. 

The younger vampire immediately replied to the challenge by releasing 
his grip and landing on the floor.  The most astonishing aspect of this 
action was that Xander didn't simply fall but, incredibly, floated 
gently down and landed in the center of the room near Buffy. 

"What's this?  Flight?  Only the ancients can fly.  Angelus...what kind 
of FREAK have you sired here?" 

Slowly moving his gaze from Drusilla, Angel responded simply, "You've 
brought this down on yourselves." 

"Spoken like a true TRAITOR TO HIS RACE," sneered Spike. 

Turning towards Buffy, Xander said quietly, "I have to do this.  Please 
go.  I don't want you to get hurt." 

"I'm not leaving." 


"I'm NOT leaving!" 

Finally, resigned to the fact that the Slayer was not going to 
willingly observe his wishes, he turned to Angel and said, "Make sure 
she gets out of here."  Then, turning back to Buffy, he looked into her 
eyes and uttered one word:  "Sleep."  As a puzzled expression 
momentarily crossed her face, the young girl quickly crumbled to the 
ground.  Xander then tossed his sword to Richie who caught it in his 
free hand.  "Thanks for the loaner.  I won't need it anymore." 

"Gotta say this about you, boy...you must have a jumbo pair of 
wrinklies on you." 

"You'll see just HOW big, Spike...when I cut yours off!" 

After gently scooping up Buffy, Angel and Richie moved back towards the 
door, giving the two warring vampires plenty of room to maneuver.  
After a couple of seconds, the combatants flung themselves towards each 

After exchanging slashes to the face, leaving both bloody, Xander had 
soon forced Spike flat onto his back and was exerting an enormous 
amount of pressure to his throat.  Unable to either break the hold or 
force him off, Spike started to frantically reach behind his head for a 
weapon -- any weapon.  Soon, he managed to grasp a heavy plank from the 
destroyed table and, swinging it, swatted Xander in the side of the 
head, knocking him off. 

Quickly getting back to his feet, Spike was once again standing fully 
erect while Xander was still hunched over with one hand braced on the 
floor and the other rubbing the side of his skull.  Blood was now 
flowing from his mouth. 

"Oooh, now that's REALLY got to sting some." 

"Yeah, but not as much as THIS!" 

Launching himself at Spike, Xander caught the taller vampire in the 
midsection and pushed him clear across the room towards the immense 
four-poster bed in the corner.  The force of the impact also caused 
Spike to drop his weapon. 

Meanwhile, above the melee, Drusilla was finally regaining her senses.  
Unable to move and in great pain, the female vampire was soon calling,
"Spike...where are you?  Spike?" 

Now backed against a wall, Spike was getting increasingly frustrated.  
Not only unable to come to the aid of Drusilla, he was also having 
great difficulty warding off the flurry of powerful blows to his head 
and body.  This was definitely a unique situation in his long 
existence.  He had barely managed to respond, "Daddy's here, love!" 
before Xander once again backhanded him hard across the face. 

"Not for long, you sadistic bastard!" 

Across the room, Richie was silently watching both the combat and 
Angel's reaction to it.  Noticing the vampire slightly flinch whenever 
Drusilla spoke, he soon came up alongside and asked, "You OK, Angel?" 

Cradling Buffy's small form in his arms, he softly responded, "No." 

By now, the blond vampire, whose hair was thickly matted with blood, 
had managed to sink his fangs into Xander's exposed forearm.  Roaring 
in pain, the teenager responded by delivering several blows to the 
elder vampire's vulnerable stomach.  He also grabbed Spike by the front 
of his neck and started smashing his head repeatedly back against the 
wall.  Between wet thuds, Xander was screaming, "Die you animal!  Die!  
Die!  Die!" 

Soon, due to both internal hemorrhaging and the volume of liquid forced 
out of his digestive tract, Spike was vomiting large volumes of blood.  
Seeing this situation develop, Angel quietly remarked to Richie, "This 
won't last much longer.  He's bleeding out." 

Meanwhile, high above, in an innocently girlish tone, Drusilla cried, 
"Spike...help me...it's burning," before losing consciousness once 

In one last desperate attempt to separate himself from his incensed 
adversary, Spike managed to use both legs to momentarily hurl Xander 
away from him.  Apparently stunned, he then turned his back on his 
opponent and slowly started to scale the wall in an apparent attempt to 
release the chain holding Drusilla aloft. 

Seeing this opportunity, Xander quickly got back to his feet and 
retrieved one of Spike's torture implements from a nearby table.  
Reaching up, he managed to grab the vampire by the belt and stab him in 
the small of the back with the metal railroad spike.  Spike instantly 
went limp and fell to the base of the wall in a heap.  After a 
momentary pause, Xander then reached down and grasped Spike by the 
hair, dragging him back up to eye level.  He then placed his second 
hand on the side of the older vampire's jaw to better expose the key 
blood vessels in his neck. 

Amazingly Spike, who realized he was beaten and would most likely die 
shortly, had the remnants of a grin on what remained of his face.  "I 
guess...Dru was right...about you after all," he said. 

"Right?  About what?" 

Continuing to cough up blood, Spike managed to add, "She said...you 
were powerful...that you'd be...a wonderfully vicious creature.  Just 
like us." 

"I'm nothing like you!" 

"You're exactly like us -- you're perfect -- Angelus should be very 
proud."  Spike then passed out, transforming back to his younger-
looking human form in the process.  After a brief pause, Xander then 
released his body, allowing it to slump to the ground.  Turning, he 
slowly walked back towards Angel and Richie, asking the older vampire, 
"So what now?" 

"You tell us," Angel replied. 

"I can't remain like this.  I'd rather die." 

"That's really why you came here, isn't it?" 

Transforming back to his normal appearance, Xander then asked, "You 
read the note?" 

"Yes.  We both did.  So what happened?" 

"I don't know.  It all seemed so simple when I wrote it.  But now..." 

"Xander, please give Giles a chance." 

"But, you heard what Spike said...I don't want to be like him." 

"Or me?" Angel asked. 

"Or HIM," Xander replied nodding towards Richie.  "I'm just not ready 
for any of this.  I DON'T WANT THIS!" 

The Immortal then remarked, "Xander, God knows I wasn't ready for 
Immortality either -- nobody EVER is!  That's completely natural." 

"It doesn't feel natural." 

"You just have to take it one day at a time.  C'mon lets get you 
cleaned up."  With a sly smile, Richie then added, "You look like 

With a wry grin, Xander responded, "Yeah, the chicks around here seem 
to dig that."  He then added, "OK, I'll try it your way.  Let's see 
what Giles can come up with.  Maybe he'll actually do a David 
Copperfield for a change." 

Then, indicating the other vampires, Richie asked, "So what about 

Before Xander could answer, Angel carefully handed him Buffy's sleeping 
form and replied, "They're my responsibility...they always have been.  
I'll meet you outside." 

As the two men left, Angel set about carefully lowering Drusilla from 
the rafters.  Ignoring the burning of his hands as he removed her from 
the cross, he gently laid her on the bed and placed an undamaged doll 
in her hands.  Then, coming around to the other side of the bed, he 
removed the metal shaft protruding from Spike's back before carefully 
placing him in the bed beside his lover. 

"Please forgive me for what I now do." 

Angel then picked up one of the few remaining lighted candles and 
placed it against the heavy crimson tapestry hung behind and over the 
bed, immediately igniting the material.  Then, as the flames started 
lapping at the ceiling, the oldest vampire with a soul slowly turned 
and left the building. 


Early the next morning, Giles continued to page through his texts -- 
now with a nearly empty pot of coffee strategically placed nearby.  
Across from him, Cordelia was sleeping with her arm thrown across the 
table and her head resting on it.  Meanwhile, at a computer terminal, 
Willow was still quickly entering queries into an Internet search 
engine.  The Watcher was currently searching through the ancient Codex 
of mystical prophesies when he stumbled across the same spell that 
Spike and Drusilla had used nearly a year earlier to attack Angel. 

"If we only had to drain the vampire out of Xander, this would actually 
be pretty simple." 

"What, Giles?" 

"This spell, working in conjunction with the duLac Cross that we 
confiscated from Drusilla, could destroy the vampire that's infecting 
Xander.  Unfortunately, without something to reinforce his soul, the 
boy might turn to a pile of ashes." 

"Oh...oh!  That wouldn't be a good thing!" 

"No.  Not at all." 

Turning back towards her screen, Willow then resumed scanning the 
results of her latest search.  "Let's see.  Fifty hits this time.  
Cross...no, cross...no, cross...no -- hey Giles, why am I getting all 
cross-related results on these occult websites?" 

"I can only imagine that sometimes the old-fashioned remedies are the 
best.  Unfortunately, in our case they're totally useless." 

"Oh.  That makes sense."  She then continued to scroll down the screen, 
"...cross...no, crystal...gee, what's this?  Hey, Giles...I have a 
reference to something called the 'Crystal of Destiny.'  It says that 
under the right circumstances it can supposedly restore mortality or 
bestow immortality." 

As Giles rose and started to move towards the computer, Richie Ryan 
quickly strode into the library. 

"Good morning all!  How does the quest for the Grail go?" 

Rubbing his eyes, the Watcher answered, "Morning, Richie.  It goes very 
slow."  Then remembering something, he asked the Immortal, "Ah, how did 
you get into the building on a Saturday.  Aren't the outside doors 

Smiling, the young man replied by pulling a small leather bound case 
from his pocket.  Holding it up, he replied, "They are...for most 

"I don't think I want to know."  Then, changing the subject, he asked, 
"How's Xander?" 

"Pretty good, considering that he reenacted Custer's last stand on the 
bloodsuckers around here last night.  He's back at Angel's place 

"Is he...himself?" 

"Yeah, as long as he gets a steady blood supply, he's fine." 

"Just like Angel." 

"Yea, except that Xander has some other abilities." 

"Yes, quite." 

"So, still no luck?" 

"Well, as I just told Willow, we can easily trap or destroy a vampire 
through various means, but obviously that wouldn't do us -- or Xander 
-- any good." 

"Guess not." 

"But we're still actively researching possible remedies.  We're not 
giving up." 

"I know, Giles.  By the way, got any java around here?" 

"There's some on the table.  Help yourself." 


The Watcher then took position over Willow's shoulder and started 
reading the text on the screen:  "The Crystal of Destiny was reportedly 
one of the most potent ancient tools sought by sorcerers, witches, and 
mystics down through the centuries.  According to legend, it can 
restore life to the recently deceased or bestow immortality on a 

"I don't imagine we can pick one up at Sears," the Immortal quipped 
between sips of coffee. 

"Not quite...oh damn!" 

Walking towards the terminal, Ryan then asked, "What's wrong?" 

"Unfortunately, according to this, the Crystal was last reliably seen 
in England during the 9th Century.  It's been missing ever since." 

Taking a sideways glance at the screen, Richie then gagged on his 
drink, spilling most of the hot liquid on his shirt, "Shit!" 

The commotion also managed to arouse a still groggy Cordelia, who 
softly muttered, "Lock the door, Xander...I don't want my friends to 
see us in here." 

By now, the Immortal was excitedly pointing at a sketch on the computer 
screen, asking, "Are you saying that that's 'the Crystal of Destiny?  I 
don't believe it!" 

"Yes, Richie.  Why?  What's wrong?" 

Running a hand through his hair, he replied, "She's had it all along.  
I don't believe it." 

Willow then implored, "Richie, please, talk to us." 

"I know where your Crystal is." 

"Where?" Giles asked. 

"Probably trying to pick up men at MacLeod's gym." 

"Excuse me, Richie?  You're not making any sense." 

Without any further explanation, Richie then used his cellular phone to 
dial MacLeod's apartment number.  Receiving no answer, he muttered, 
"Damn," and dialed a second number. 

"Hi, Joe." 

"Yeah, it's Richie." 

"About 7:30.  Sorry about the time." 

"Hey, I said I was sorry about the time.  It's important." 

"OK, do me a favor.  Find Amanda...she's probably at MacLeod's...and 
drive her to Sunnydale High School.  I'll meet you outside.  And be 
sure to ask her to bring the necklace she was wearing the other day." 

"I'll explain everything later.  Thanks, Joe." 

Hanging up, he then addressed the two puzzled individuals who were 
watching his every move, "I think we're in business." 


During the intervening hours since Willow's discovery and the arrival 
of the first guests in the library, Giles had devised a possible course 
of action.  It was not, however, without some risk.  In addition to the 
librarian, also seated around a large round table were:  Buffy, Willow, 
Cordelia, Richie, Amanda, and Dawson.  Only Xander and Angel were 
missing, due to the time of the day.  The object hanging from Amanda's 
neck was the center of attention. 

"How did it come into your possession, Amanda?" asked Giles. 

"I guess you could say that I inherited it." 

"She stole it," Richie quickly chimed in. 

"Oh, details, details.  I WOULD have inherited it.  If someone ELSE 
didn't steal it first." 

"So she stole it back." 

"And how do you know, Richard?  You weren't even there." 

"Mac told me all about it, Amanda." 

"Well, fine, if you want to harp on minor details..." 

As Dawson was desperately trying not to laugh at this verbal exchange, 
Giles then decided to interrupt, "Yes...ah, well, I suppose the method 
of how the Crystal came to be here is secondary in importance." 

"Actually," the female Immortal continued more seriously, "I WANT to 
tell the story, or at least as much of it as I know, of how the Crystal 
got here." 

"Oh, very well then.  Please do." 

"The Crystal belonged to the woman -- Rebecca -- who found me when I 
first became Immortal.  Born of noble blood, she didn't hesitate to 
take a poor, uneducated serf into her house when she sensed who and 
what I was.  Remember that in 9th Century Europe helping your fellow 
man was not exactly commonplace.  Anyhow, over the years, Rebecca 
taught me how to handle a sword and defend myself against all enemies.  
Although she never did approve of my occasionally unorthodox methods of 
making ends meet..." 

At mention of this, Richie loudly cleared his throat. 

"Fine...fine, so I was a thief.  Happy now?" 


"Please Amanda, do go on," requested Giles.  After all, he rarely 
learned the history behind the various mystical implements he 
encountered in the first person. 

Glancing sideways at the young Immortal, she then continued, "Thank 
you.  Well, anyhow throughout the centuries, Rebecca would always give 
her students a small piece of crystal to serve both as a good luck 
charm for the battles they would fight throughout their lives as well 
as a remembrance of the time they spent with her as mentor and student.  
She always told us that the crystals held great power, but for me it 
was the memory of our time together that was most significant." 

"What happened to Rebecca?" asked Buffy who, along with Willow, was 
listening with rapt attention. 

"A few years ago, she was betrayed by one of her younger students, 
Luther.  After learning of the Crystal's potential, he first started 
hunting down Rebecca's other students until, finally, he also killed 
her.  He would have killed me too if MacLeod didn't intervene and nail 
him first." 

"Way harsh," remarked Cordelia. 

"And way unnecessary," replied Amanda.  "As far as I'm concerned, I'd 
gladly destroy it to have Rebecca back.  She was the mother I never 

"Amanda, I have a question," stated Joe Dawson.  "You said that Rebecca 
gave her students PIECES of Crystal.  If so, how did you end up with 
the whole thing intact?" 

"Well, as you might suspect, this isn't your ordinary piece of glass.  
Once all the fragments were placed together, the Crystal reformed into 
the sphere you see here.  I'm not exactly sure how, but I saw it 

"Amazing," remarked Giles.  "And how did you say it resurrects a 

"Actually, I'm not too sure about that.  I've never used it before.  
However, Rebecca once told me that in order to tap the Crystal's power, 
all the wearer has to do is break it while thinking about the person to 
be healed.  What happens then, I don't know." 

Giles then asked, "So you believe that it will have to be destroyed to 
work its magic?" 


"Does that upset you?" 

"No.  Not at all.  After all, it's been broken before.  And, anyhow, 
Xander needs it.  I think Rebecca would have gladly made that 
sacrifice.  So will I." 

"Thank you, Amanda." 

After a long silence, Dawson then turned to the other Watcher and 
asked, "So Giles, this is your party.  What's the plan?" 

"It's a two-fold plan, actually.  It will be dark in a few hours, so 
I've asked Angel to bring Xander here then.  When they arrive, we will 
use the Crystal and the duLac Cross simultaneously.  Since there is no 
exact spell for what we are trying to accomplish, namely banishing a 
vampire demon while restoring Xander to normal, I will need to 
improvise a bit." 

"Again with the improvising.  We almost leveled the school the last 
time we improvised." 

"Well, excuse me Buffy, but did YOU expect the Hellmouth to open up 
directly beneath the library?" 

"Sorry, Giles." 

"You should be young lady...now where was I?  Oh, yes.  But there are 
some...risks involved in the process." 

"Xander could...ah...end up...ah...dead...really dead," replied Willow. 

"What!"  The Slayer and Cordelia both leapt out of their chairs.  
"Giles, is you're tie a teeny weenie bit too tight?" 

Richie then motioned for Joe and Amanda to lean towards him and 
whispered, "Man!  And we think we have troubles!"  The two older 
individuals silently nodded in agreement. 

"Actually, there's more," Giles continued. 

Buffy then sarcastically replied, "No, you're kidding?  How can it 
possibly get better?" 

"When we use the duLac Cross to transfer the demon, it stands to reason 
that the demon has to be transferred...to someone else." 

"Angel!  You're not serious!  That thing almost destroyed him once 

"I know...and so does he.  In fact, both he and Xander have already 
agreed that we should try this." 

"You already talked to him?" 

"About an hour ago.  He feels that this may be our best -- and possibly 
only -- hope to restore Xander." 

After pouting for several seconds, Buffy then reluctantly consented, 
saying, "OK, Giles.  But you'd better MAKE THIS WORK!" 

"I'll try my best.  That's all I can promise," the Watcher answered.  
After asking if there were any other questions, he then stated, 
"Splendid.  Now let's get ready." 


Shortly after dusk, Angel and Xander emerged from the tunnels that ran 
under the school and ended behind the stacks.  As Angel entered the 
large room, Xander suddenly stopped at the threshold. 

"Ah, Angel, I can't seem to move forward.  What gives?" 

"Oh, sorry.  Hey, Giles, this is your library.  You need to invite 
Xander inside." 

"What?  Oh, of course, Xander, please come in." 

"Damn, that works better than an alarm system," muttered the teen. 

Upon entering, some changes immediately became apparent to Xander.  
Several tables and tall bookshelves had been shunted to the sides of 
the room, opening a large clear area in the center.  A large white 
pentagram had also been painted on the floor around one of the 
building's structural supports that rose from its geometric center. 

"Hey, Giles.  I love what you've done to the place...in a sort of Goth 
type of way." 

"Glad to see your sense of humor is returning, Xander." 

"Well, ya gotta laugh to keep from crying.  Know what I mean, Giles?" 

"Actually, yes I do...are you ready?" 

"As ready as I'll ever be." 

"How are you feeling, Xander?" asked Willow who had quietly approached 
as he was assessing the changes to the library. 

"Honest...I've been better.  This whole tortured bloodsucking thing 
might work well for some people...who shall remain nameless...but it's 
not for me." 

Xander didn't realize that Angel had overheard that last remark.  "He 
talks a big game.  But he's scared," the older vampire said to Buffy. 

"Are you?" 

"Yes.  If this doesn't work, I'm afraid I'll lose you." 

"Giles thinks it'll work." 

Then bending down to kiss the Slayer, Angel said, "In case it 
doesn't...and if I'm changed somehow..." 

"Angel you're not..." 

"Shhh.  Let me finish.  In case the duLac Cross works a little TOO well 
and I'm changed from absorbing Xander's demon, I want you to promise 
that you'll kill me." 

"No, I can't..." 

"Buffy, please promise me.  I never want to be like...I was...after we 
made love for the first time." 

After giving him another kiss, she reluctantly answered, "I promise." 

"Thank you." 

Meanwhile, Cordelia had now ambled up to Xander. 

"Is it true that you have fangs and claws and the whole deal like 

"Yes, Cordy, it is.  What of it?" 

"Can I see?" 

"No, you cannot see!" 

"Why not?" 

"Because it's not pretty, that's why not." 

"I always thought Angel was kind of sexy when he was like that." 



"In that case, step back here." 

A few seconds later, muffled growls could be heard emanating from the 
stacks, followed shortly thereafter by an "Ooh, Xander." 

Giles then announced, "Places everyone.  Ah, where's Xander?" 

The teen then emerged from the stacks with Cordelia in tow. 

"Good, there you are.  Now, I've told you all how this is going to 
work.  Xander and Angel please place yourselves back-to-back against 
the column so that I...oh damn...I'll need something to shackle them." 

"Not a problem, Giles," Amanda said reaching into her purse and 
producing a set of handcuffs. 

"You have anything else in there that might interest me?" inquired 
Richie Ryan. 

"Maybe one day you might find out, junior." 

"One day?  Dates...I want dates." 

Xander and Angel were then secured to the pole and Giles started 
assigning locations for the other participants to stand.  "Richie and 
Amanda, please align yourselves at the top and bottom of the Pentagram.  
Willow, Cordelia and Buffy, please stand on either side of Richie while 
Mr. Dawson and I will do the same on Amanda's end." 

"Ooh, I always enjoy being held by two strong mature men," cooed the 
female Immortal. 

Now blushing, Giles managed to continue, "When I tell you, please join 
hands and don't break the circle or leave the confines of the pentagram 
until absolutely necessary.  And Amanda, this is crucial, please listen 
for your cue.  But first, I have to activate the cross to begin 
exorcising the demon from Xander." 

Stepping up to the two vampires, he asked, "Gentlemen, are you ready?" 

"No, but what choice do I really have?" replied Xander. 

"Let's do it," Angel answered. 

"Please extend your free arms away from your bodies, grasping the hand 
of the other.  Good.  Now this might hurt a bit." 

Angel then remarked, "Less talk, Giles." 

"Very well then," the Watcher responded as he pulled a large gold cross 
from behind his back.  With a quick downward plunge, he then impaled 
the hands of the two creatures together with it's pointed lower half.  
Almost immediately, the pain caused both vampires to assume their more 
sinister appearances.  Giles then quickly joined hands with Buffy and 

"That hurts MORE than a BIT, Giles!" Xander said through clenched 

"Oh, Xander!" Willow and Cordelia both exclaimed. 

Across from them, Amanda's eyes widened noticeably as she was actually 
witnessing something totally new after 1,000 years of life.  Joe 
Dawson, meanwhile, started thinking about what, if anything, he should 
include in his official report to his superiors. 

Xander then said, "Oh, MAN, that stings!" 

"You're not alone, Xander.  I'm right here with you," replied Angel. 

"That's great, but it still HURTS!" 

By now, a red mist had also started emanating from the two vampires' 
wounds and was rapidly whirling around the interior of the Pentagram.  
Within a short time, Xander's eyelids began to droop as he started to 
slump forward away from the column, forcing Angel to stabilize him with 
his cuffed hand. 

"Giles, hurry!  He's fading, I can feel it!" 

Amid unearthly groans emanating from all directions, a writhing demonic 
image was now clearly visible in the red swirling cyclone above their 
heads.  After hovering for a few seconds, it started its descent back 
towards the column, quickly enveloping Angel's form.  His body now 
wracked with convulsions, Angel began shouting, "You can't enter!  I 
won't allow it!" 

Seeing this, Giles immediately said to Amanda, "Now!  Smash the 

Quickly releasing Buffy's hand, which immediately drew the attention of 
the floating demon, the Immortal then pulled the necklace from around 
her neck and, using its gold chain as a sling, slammed it onto the 
marble floor, shattering it.  Instantly, the room was filled with a 
blinding white light that was centered on Amanda. 

As the demon's image began to distort under the onslaught, its wails 
fading, a foggy white mist slowly started to separate itself from 
Amanda's form and approached Xander's limp form.  Soon, a strong wind 
kicked up and tiny electrical discharges emanating from the mist 
started to penetrate the young man's body, causing it to writhe 
uncontrollably.  Suddenly, as his eyes shot open, a massive electrical 
discharge erupted outward. 

The varied reactions of those assembled were immediate. 

"Take cover," exclaimed Giles, pushing Buffy to the floor. 

"Incoming," shouted Dawson. 

"SHIT!" exclaimed Richie, quickly pulling both Willow and Cordelia 

Only Amanda, Angel, and Xander were still standing as the shock wave 
blew past them and annihilated everything else in its path.  Books, 
shelves, tables, woodwork, and lamps were sent flying towards the outer 
walls as the maelstrom continued.  Within seconds, the library doors 
were also blown from their hinges, coming to rest in the hallway, as 
the glass skylights on the roof shattered.  Then, just as suddenly as 
they came, both phenomena were gone and all was quiet, except for the 
occasional tinkling of shattered glass. 

When things had finally returned to (relative) normal, bodies slowly 
started moving around the floor, eventually rising and picking bits of 
debris from their hair and clothing. 

"Look at this dress!  I just bought it last week at Neiman-Marcus.  
Somebody's going to get a cleaning bill," sniped Cordelia. 

As Buffy was helping Giles to his feet, she noticed that Angel had 
already snapped the handcuff chain and was easing Xander to the floor. 

"How is he?" 

"Knocked out, but alive." 

"Alive...really alive?" inquired the Watcher. 

"Yes, Giles.  Alive AND breathing.  But I think we'd better get him to 
the hospital." 


"Because his hand is bleeding pretty bad where you skewered us...and 
it's NOT stopping on its own." 

"Oh, that's WONDERFUL!" 

Looking at her Watcher as if he'd gone crazy, Buffy asked, "How is 
Xander's bleeding to death wonderful, Giles?" 

Suddenly remembering that Buffy was not privy to Xander's once again 
pre-Immortal status, he quickly tried covering his slip by saying, 
"Ah...what I meant to say is at least he's no longer a vampire." 

"Thanks, Giles.  I needed that." 

"Oh...sorry Angel.  You know what I mean." 

"Sure I do." 

As Giles went searching for a functioning phone, Richie helped Joe to 
his feet.  The Immortal then bent down to help Amanda, who was scooping 
up Crystal fragments. 

"Sorry you had to do this, Amanda.  I know it meant a lot to you." 

"Oh, that's OK.  It was for a good cause...and I still have these 
pieces.  Anyway, it's Rebecca's memory that really counts.  And I'll 
never lose that." 

Then slowly looking around the devastated room, Richie commented to 
Joe, "Boy, what a mess.  I suppose our work here is done." 

"Guess so.  Well at least the building's still standing...that's got to 
count for something." 

"Yeah, we must be slipping." 

The female Immortal then commented, "We never had this much fun when I 
was in school." 

"Amanda, when you were young there WEREN'T any schools." 

"Keep that up, junior, and you'll never see what ELSE is in my purse." 

"I'm only kidding, Amanda." 

"Too late, Richie.  That'll cost you at least 50 years." 

"C'mon, Amanda..." 

Across the floor from the now whining young Immortal, Giles was just 
hanging up the phone after dialing 911. 

"So what will it be this time, Giles?" 

"Excuse me, Buffy?" 

"Gas leak, earthquake, volcanic eruption, tornado, lightning storm, 
meteor, antimatter explosion, black hole...what will you say destroyed 
the library this time." 

"Well, this school year I've already reported three gas leaks and two 
tremors.  Therefore, I guess a FREAK lightning storm will have to do." 

"Sounds like a plan."  Then, looking around, the Slayer asked, "Where's 

"He was here just a minute ago.  Guess he ducked out." 

"So what else is new?  Xander's right, we should put a bell on him." 


The following evening, Buffy was out patrolling all the usual undead 
hotspots.  However, on this night, things were literally dead.  Not a 
demon or ghoul to be found anywhere.  It made Sunnydale ALMOST seem 
normal.  Passing near the now incinerated factory where Spike and 
Drusilla had recently called home, she faintly sensed something out of 
the ordinary.  Cautiously stepping around the police and fire 
department barricades, she proceeded to the charred brick opening where 
a door had hung less than 48 hours earlier.  She also eased a stake out 
of her sleeve. 

As she made her way around the blackened interior, she carefully 
stepped around holes in the buckled wooden floor.  Looking up, she 
could see the stars and clouds through the few skeletal roof rafters 
that remained in place.  As she was approaching the doorway to the 
former bed chamber, she surprisingly faltered and became momentarily 
unsure if she should proceed any further.  Quickly deciding that she 
needed to know if anything had survived the inferno, she silently 
entered the room and stopped. 

Twenty feet from her, staring into a large hole where the bed had 
dropped into the basement below, stood Angel with his back to her.  
After a few moments she tried to leave as quietly as she had come, but 
was stopped by two words:  "Don't go." 

"I didn't mean to intrude." 

"You're not." 

"Are they really gone?" 


"Richie told me what happened the other night.  I'm sorry...I know they 
meant something to you." 

"Actually, they were my children and Drusilla was...more.  What does 
that say about me?" 

"Angel, they were evil.  Pure evil.  You stopped them." 

"Yeah, I stopped them alright.  But I MADE them evil.  Fact is, I 
tortured them both before I transformed them -- just like I tried to do 
to you last year."  With a single tear rolling down his cheek, he then 
turned towards Buffy and asked, "You don't think they suffered now, do 
you?  I didn't want to hurt them again." 

"Oh, Angel." 

The two then embraced as the vampire said, "I love you, Buffy.  I want 
you to know that no matter what may happen in the future, I love you 
with all my heart...and soul." 

"I love you too.  When I'm with you nothing else matters." 

Eventually breaking the embrace, Angel then asked, "So how's Xander 

"Fine, I guess.  He's home now, resting.  The weird thing is that his 
parents never even noticed that he was missing.  That's kinda sad." 

"He's pretty amazing." 

"Excuse me?  Did I just hear that right?  A Xander compliment...from 

"I'll deny it if you tell him." 

"My lips are sealed," replied the Slayer.  A couple of seconds later, 
she then remarked, "Angel, I wanted to ask Richie Ryan something last 
night after the ritual, but he started acting all evasive on me." 

"What's that?" 

"Well, you know that lightning thing that happens when Immortals are 

"The Quickening." 

"Right.  Well, when the Crystal was doing its thing on Xander, that 
looked and acted a lot like a Quickening." 

Beginning to see where this was leading, Angel reluctantly asked, 

"Well, why would a Quickening focus itself on Xander?  Unless..." 

Moving quickly towards the door, Angel then asked, "Did I ever tell you 
how I first met Spike?  His name was Billy then and he was cheating at 
cards in a pub outside London.  He was a nice enough kid, except for 
the knife..." 

"Hey, don't change the subject on me.  Come back here and answer my 
question!  Is there something up with Xander that I should know 


Meanwhile across town, a middle-aged man was standing next to his small 
car in the deserted parking lot of Sunnydale's shopping mall.  In the 
distance, the whumping sound of a helicopter's propeller blades could 
at first only be faintly heard, but soon grew in volume.  Within half a 
minute, its red and green flashing strobes could be seen descending 
through the gloom, kicking up a storm of dust and leaves and finally 
coming to rest within 40 feet of the parked car.  The sleek jet-black 
machine was adorned only with a red, capital, Gothic-style letter "L" 
bisected by a sword.  Two men soon emerged from the aircraft and made 
their way towards the car.  Extending his hand, the older of the two 
then greeted the original occupant of the parking lot, "Rupert, how 
have you been?" 

"Fine.  Fine.  How's San Francisco?" 

"Cold and rainy...so what else is new?"  Then, turning to his 
companion, he said, "Rupert, you remember Nick Boyle." 

Extending his hand, the muscular young man said, "Good to see you 
again, Giles.  What's it been, about a year?" 

"That sounds about right." 

"So Rupert, you wouldn't tell me on the phone why you needed to see me.  
Why the cloak and dagger routine?" 

"Let's just say that Sunnydale's phone lines have been known to 
be...compromised...from time to time.  I always find the personal touch 
to be advisable." 

"I've told you before, Rupert, you're always welcome to come up to 
Angel Island for a visit.  After all, running a research center for the 
Luna Foundation does have some advantages." 

"I know, Derek, but I tend to get tied up in my work here.  But, no 
matter, I thought you might be interested in something I've come across 
recently."  Reaching into the small sack he was holding, the Watcher 
slowly removed a jewel-encrusted gold cross. 

Taking a step closer, Derek Rayne inhaled sharply and then said to his 
companion, "A duLac Cross!  My God, where did you get it, Rupert?" 

"Let's just say that it came into my possession -- after some 

"I would imagine.  But why give it to me?  It could fetch a small 
fortune at auction." 

With a smile, Giles then replied, "Let's just say that I don't ever 
want this to see the light of day again.  I've heard through certain 
sources that the Luna Foundation has the resources and, how shall I put 
this -- the desire -- to accomplish exactly that." 

Trading puzzled glances with Nick, Derek then took hold of the cross 
and said, "You've heard correctly, Rupert.  We owe you for this.  If 
you ever need anything..." 

"Hopefully, I won't.  But if I do, I'll call."  After shaking hands 
with the archeologist, the Watcher got into his car and drove off. 

Nick Boyle then turned towards the prefect of the San Francisco Legacy 
House and asked, "Would you mind telling me what just happened here?" 

Looking down at the ancient artifact in his hand, Dr. Derek Rayne 
answered, "I'm not sure, Nick.  But I definitely think we'd better keep 
a closer watch on Sunnydale." 

The two men then returned to the helicopter which quickly lifted back 
into the night sky. 


Shortly before dawn, Xander was tossing and turning in bed.  
Considering his recent misadventures, it would take some time before 
his dreams would return to their usual 'Baywatch' motif.  After one 
particularly rough nightmare, he sat bolt upright in bed and turned on 
the light.  After a couple of minutes, as his heartbeat returned to 
roughly where it should be for a teenager, he was preparing to climb 
back under the covers when he heard a soft rapping on his windowpane. 

Quickly retrieving a cross, a small bottle of holy water, and a 
flashlight from his night table drawer, he asked aloud, "Why do these 
things always happen to me?" 

Proceeding slowly across the room, he held the cross towards the window 
as he shined the light through the pane.  There, hanging outside his 
window, he saw part of a familiar face with an arm thrown up to cover 
its eyes.  A voice could also be heard from beyond the window asking, 
"Do you mind?" 

Setting the cross down, Xander quickly opened the window. 

"Man, how fast they forget.  One day a vampire and the next a priest." 

"Sorry.  You can't be too careful around here.  What's up?" 

"I just wanted to see how you're doing." 

"Pretty good, I guess." 

"Can I come in?" 


"Not good enough.  I need an invitation." 

"Oh, sorry.  'Angel, come in.'" 

Remarking, "That's better," the vampire then climbed into the room. 

"Angel, I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me." 

"That's not necessary." 

"Yes, it is.  I haven't always been very nice to you and..." 

"Xander, I know." 

"Well, thanks anyway." 

"You're welcome," the vampire replied.  He then asked, "How's the 

Looking at the bandage, the teenager replied, "Still hurts some.  But 
they did a pretty good job in the emergency room.  Instant healing can 
really spoil a guy...especially when it suddenly stops." 

After a few seconds of silence, Angel then asked, "What do you 

"Well, I can still remember eating the school mascot when I was a 
possessed by the hyena a couple of years back, so why shouldn't I 
remember this?" 

"Including the Immortality stuff?" 

"Especially that.  I guess I'm going to have to say something to my 
parents about being adopted.  I wish they would have told me." 

"They still love you, Xander." 

Turning his back to Angel, the teen replied, "I know, but it's kind of 
weird knowing that you're going to outlive everyone around you...at 
least until someone shows up and chops your head off.  It also kinda 
takes the fun out of dating." 

"I understand.  Actually, I was talking to Ryan and that's one of the 
reasons I'm here." 

While asking, "Why, is remembering a problem?" Xander turned back 
around and found himself staring into a pair of golden eyes.  He froze 
in place. 

"Xander...now listen to me carefully..." 

About ten minutes later, after blanking the teenager's memory regarding 
his Immortal destiny, Angel then induced a deep sleep, placed him under 
the covers, and extinguished the light. 

As the first light of a new day was becoming visible on the horizon, 
Angel briefly paused at the window to study the sleeping form of Xander 
Harris.  The vampire softly whispered, "MacLeod was right.  Knowing now 
would only disrupt your life.  And that will happen soon enough.  Rest 
now, Xander." 


That's All Folks (Or Is It?)