WARNING: m/m sexual activity. Adult language. Story is generally
SUMMARY: 10 Years after the fall of Sunnydale, Xander has
distanced himself from his past life until a demon forces him to look
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Giles stood facing out the huge conference room windows with his rigid
back to the scrambling underlings who were leaving as quickly as possible.
Immediately, Andrew riffed through the basket till he found the California
report and he closed the door as the last one left.
His eyes scanned the brief outline, that really offered no more facts than
had been given, and he checked the back of each page to make sure he
hadn't missed something.
"There really isn't much here, Rup, but I think it's way too soon to start
to panic. After all, there must be thousands of gay men in Oxnard.
Besides, the report indicates that there isn't any positive evidence of
demon involvement. They just disappeared. Hell, people disappear
everyday. Could be murder, could be suicide, shit, they might not even
be dead. Might be transients that just moved on. I think the first thing
we need to do is check with the local authorities and see what angle they
The Head Watcher's stiff unmoving posture gave no indication that he
had even heard what his assistant had said and the silence dragged on.
Andrew took two steps forward.
"Rup? Is there something........."
"Call Willow. Get her down here. NOW."
Without another word, Andrew left to do as he was told. He knew when
it came to the possibility of danger to one of his children, the Ripper was
not to be questioned.
Down the hall and to the left, Willow's office was the corner one that
provided the light and extra windows that her plants needed to grow
Dressed in a long skirt and peasant blouse, her hippie appearance was
a direct contrast to her all business attitude.
Sitting behind her desk with her glasses perched on her nose, she punched
the intercom button.
"Milly, do you have those invoices for last months herbs and spell
ingredients? I need the ones that coincide with the artifacts Wesley has."
The voice on the other end had the answer Willow expected. Milly
always had what Willow requested, usually before she asked for it.
Milly was what Willow called "priceless". The middle aged woman was
one of the few hold overs from before the destruction of the old Council
and she had been invaluable in helping blend the new with the old.
"Yes, Ms. Rosenberg, I'll bring them right in. Oh, Ma'am? Andrew is
here and he says Mr. Giles needs to see you in the main conference room."
Willow took off her glasses and dropped them on her desk. She rubbed
her hands over her tired eyes and scratched her short bitten fingernails
across her scalp, ruffling her chin length red hair.
"O.k. Tell him it will be a while. I really need to log these expenses
and file the reports on last months trip to Africa. Maybe we can have
lunch, oh, no wait, I already have and appointment with the lab at noon.
Before she could finish, the voice on the other end of the intercom cut
"Willow, it's Andrew. Giles said to come now. We have a situation
The last syllable of the last word had barely left his mouth when the door
flew open and Willow's sensible, flat sandals flew past him and down
the corridor, Andrew hustled to keep up.
She tossed the question back over her shoulder without slowing down.
"We aren't sure." Andrew rushed ahead to open the door for her.
"Maybe nothing. You know what a worry bug Rupert can be."
Willow raised her eyebrows at the endearment but said nothing.
It was a well known, never discussed secret that the Head of the
Watcher's Council was fucking his assistant.
Opinions ranged from mild disinterest to gratitude to the young man
for supplying what appeared to be a very stress relieving relationship.
A Rupert Giles that was satisfied at night was much more reasonable
The door opened and Willow marched in.
"What is it, Giles? What's happened?"
Fear and frustration flared behind his eyes, and Giles wanted to scream
at her that if she had attended the morning meeting she would know,
but he didn't. He prided himself on his control and restraint.
Proper English behavior prevented such undignified antics.
That and a healthy respect for the power of the strongest witch in the
Instead, he handed her Findley's report, which she scanned quickly and,
copying Andrews movement of earlier, flipped it over twice to make
sure there wasn't hidden information on the back. There wasn't.
"So, what does it mean? All it says is that 6 gay men have disappeared
in the last four months. Were there any bodies found? Any evidence
of demon activity? Oh, God, Giles, there are no names of victims listed.
You don't think.........? Shit, Giles, has anyone spoken to him? GILES,
IS XANDER SAFE?"
Andrew cringed as he saw the aura of red begin to appear around Willow's
head. A dangerous indication that the witch was becoming agitated
and upset. A certain sign that any normal, well thinking person would run
Andrew took two steps back.
Giles immediately stepped forward and put his arm around her shoulders.
Willow was one of his own. He had stood by her through the good
times and the bad. He had loved and raised her from a young teenager
to the woman she was now. There was only love and respect in his heart.
He was the only one who had no fear of her.
Willow was enormously grateful for that.
"Calm down, Willow. We need to look at this rationally. The most
important thing right now is to make sure Xander is safe. Has anyone
heard from him at all? Anyone? Anything?"
Willow's eyes dropped to the table. In a flash she remembered the
last time she had spoken to him, touched him, wrapped her arms
They had escaped. They had survived. The bus stopped outside the crater
that had once been their home, their universe. Together the survivors had
stared down into the graves of their friends and families and they wept.
Xander had squeezed her hand as he cried. His parents, his co-workers,
his Anya. All gone. All dead.
Willow, too, had been devastated and so caught up in her own sadness
and shock that she didn't realize till much later how broken Xander was.
At first, everyone had stayed together. The bus carrying the slayers,
the victors, had ended up at an out of the way motel. One that scarily
resembled the Bates motel from the movie Psycho. It was a joke that allowed
the tension to break. After what they had just faced, a looney with a knife
and a dead mother couldn't even begin to rattle them.
For the first 24 hours no one slept. Huddled together in one room they
sought comfort and they comforted. They cried, whispered, questioned,
and consoled. Some just rocked and sobbed.
The injured were tended to and began healing.
By the third day, they had started to break off into groups of two, three and
four. Wandering out and starting to inhabit separate rooms. Giles had
forced himself to again take control.
He knew if he didn't immediately take charge of what was left of the Watcher's
Council, a demon coup would over throw and try to run it, making it
almost impossible to rebuild.
No, that couldn't be allowed to happen. The time was now. He gathered
everyone together in the small courtyard at the rear of the motel and the
first meeting of the new Council of Watchers took place.
He told them that he still had access to small hidden accounts in
banks in London. He would buy tickets for them all and they would go,
claim the brick building and move in. They would be the new power.
The new slayers would immediately begin training and the Council would
execute a plan to again control the demon population of the world. This
set back would not allow the delicate balance to tip the world in favor
of the evil.
Just having a direction and a plan, turned the tide. The air sparked with
hope and anticipation. The feeling of hopelessness lifted and it looked
like the sun may just keep it's promise to continue rising after all.
By the end of the week, the arrangements were in place. The excitement of a
new beginning had everyone walking on clouds of euphoria. Willow had never
noticed how quiet Xander had been and if she did, she was sure it would be
different, he would be different, once they were in England.
Willow continued to stand silently, staring down as she remembered that
The last morning.
They had no bags to pack. No personal belongings. They had all agreed to go
as they were and buy what they needed once they got there. Giles had gotten
them all tickets on the first flight of the morning and they eagerly collected
outside by the bus.
Willow rushed to Xander's room concerned that he had overslept. That was just
so like him that it gave her hope. She banged twice on his door then rushed in.
"Xan. Come on. Get your lazy ass up. The bus is waiting. Xan?"
She saw the note immediately. She knew bad news when she saw it.
Cautiously, as though she feared it may bite her, she picked it up.
My dearest Willow,
I'm sorry but I can't go with you. I have given all to the cause that I can.
I need to find my own way in life. Tell Buffy and Giles that I apologize.
I promise to keep in touch. Please understand.
I will always love you.
So they left him behind. A decision Willow had always regretted.
He had promised to stay in touch, but he hadn't. No one had
known anything of him until a few years ago when out of desperation,
Willow had done a locator spell and found him living in Oxnard.
Giles had assigned an agent in that area to keep an eye on him
and submit regular reports. They said very little. They said he was
alive. For Willow, that had been enough.