Full-on Yellow Crickets

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to J. Whedon &Mutant Enemy, Elle Greenaway from Criminal Minds belongs to Jeff Davis and Mark Gordon Company, CBS Television Studios and ABC Studios. Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Hiromu Arakawa - Square Enix -Madman Entertainment & Viz Media. Mushu (Mulan) belongs to Disney.

Summary: Xander wakes up with blonde hair; aversion to milk and mechanical arm & leg; what is a hero of this story to do; panic of course. "I'm a Terminator NOOO!"

Main Character: Alexander Lavelle "Xander" Harris

Side Characters: Mrs. & Mr Harris, Willow, Buffy, Cordelia, Giles, Oz,Mushu

Time-line during, after or mentined BtVS second season Episodes: Surprise, Innocence, Phases & Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.


***Harris Residence – Attic room aka Xander's room***

Xander was staring in the mirror.

He made sure that he showered; he even put on some after shave – minus the shave – and he carefully put his Sunday-best button shirt, jacket, and pants on his bed. He would need to look good this evening.

"Tonight is the night ...or day," he said to his reflection. He had a gift ready for Slay B-day girl; nothing too fancy he could not afford that but he was rummaging through his mother's grandfather's box in the attic – that doubled as his room. He found some cool stuff in a large crate with the label 'Boxer'. He used a crowbar to open the thing.

But when he did – oh yeah he had hit the motherload. He had expected something related to boxing not a bunch of pretty vases, dragon figurines, two garlands of green beads he is good for presents for years, and, and then he found something wrapped in a leather bag, and inside – He could just imagine the look on Buffy's face … when he'd give her some pretty pins and some other pretty stuff - he had no idea what they were; they looked like hairpins that a hair dresser uses, and there were two daggers that were in the same style as Raphael's from Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles.

"Oh crap I'm gonna be late for school."

With that Xander grabbed his bag, nearly toppling over some of his dad's stuff.

"Phew," Xander muttered, then grabbed the plate thing that had a lizard on it and wedged it so that Tony's stuff wouldn't fall on him or something.

***School, lockers***

He had to run half of the way to school because his skateboard broke, so he had to carry it – he'd repair it during break and managed to arrive with fifteen minutes to spare. That was freaking awesome. Though very winding, as he was almost out of breath, and he had a pain at his side from running.

He put the skateboard in his locker; along with books and other things he wouldn't be needing during class. When he closed the locker doors, and locked it, he noticed Cordelia Chase standing by her own locker and decided to say hello, to his … dare he say it 'girlfriend'?

When Cordelia closed the locker door, Xander quickly struck a nonchalant – or so he hoped pose, meaning he leaned on one of the lockers closest to him.

"So... Buffy's party," he reminded her. Sometimes she could be a bit 'purposely' forgetful about Willow and Buffy. Him too, when it pleased her.

"Well, just because she's Miss Saves-the-World and everything, you have to make a big deal? I have to cook! And everything," Cordelia answered him, her mouth, shiny with lipgloss – strawberry flavored if he remembered right, and he did, pulled into a pout, while her brown eyes were staring him down.

Hard, demanding eyes and a sweet and soft mouth - that was Cordy all around.

Then it registered what she said to Xander. "You're cooking?" and would it be edible? Buffy could possibly shrug off food poisoning, she was like a superhero, but others probably not so much.

"Well, I'm chips and dips girl."

"Horrors!" Xander mock gasped. "All that opening and stirring."

Cordelia nodded and smiled at him. "And shopping and carrying."

"Well, then you should have a person who does such things for you," he joked.

Cordelia shook her head. "Well, that's what I've been saying to my father, but does he listen?"

Wait could she like hire somebody to shop for her instead – was there really such a profession or was she pulling his leg?

"Um, so, uh... " he thought on what he should say next, play it cool man - "You're going, and, and, and I'm going. Should... we maybe... go?"

Did it have to come out so …. Giles like with the stutter?! Somebody kill him now … no not kill, that could actually happen for he had no superpowers – that was all Buffster.

"Why?"

Phew she didn't notice …. why didn't she? Wait, it was a good that she hadn't!

Xander shrugged, repeating in his head 'play it cool and smooth – like Dead Boy,' "I dunno. This... thing with us, despite our better judgment, it keeps happening. Maybe we should just admit that we're dating."

It worked! Super!

Cordelia snorted and - there it was, that 'Queen Cheerleader of Sunnyhell' snobby sniff. "Groping in a broom closet isn't dating. You don't call it a date until the guy spends money."

Did he mention that she was a Mercenary? Buffy would never demand that – she was like a Marvel hero after all. She'd never demanded payment and … OK that sounded weird and sleazy and very wrong in his head.

Xander turned to his 'closet gropy partner', hey if he can't call her his girlfriend he would call her what they were. "Fine. I'll spend, then we'll grope. Whatever. I just think it's some kind of whacked that we feel we have to hide it from all our friends."

Cordelia turned on him, her brown eyes flashing in indignation. "Well, of course you wanna tell everybody." She pointed at him accusingly. He wanted to tell her that they should tell Willow and Buffy and not everyone in school – but it'd be nice if those muscly jocks knew that Loser Harris, as they called him, bagged the head cheerleader …. it would be oh so sweet.

"You have nothing to be ashamed of. I, on the other hand, have everything to be ashamed of." Cordelia kept on talking, her voice rising.

Xander stepped back and raised his hand. "You know what?" he stepped even more backwards. "'Nuff said. Forget it. It must have been my multiple-personality guy talking. I call him Idiot Jed, glutton for punishment."

He looked at her, taking in her haughty expression, and exhaled, obviously the day when he rubbed it in the jerks' faces that he had the head hottie for a girlfriend wouldn't be today, so Xander turned on his heel, and his tennis shoes gave out a squeaky sound, and walked off.

Willow and Buffy were in library with Watcher-Man; sometimes Xander wanted to call him Alfred and Buffy, Batgirl – but that really did not fly, as Alfred was a butler and Giles was not.

***Sunnydale High School Library***

Spotting the familiar red hair, Xander hurried up.

"Hello, Willow," he greeted his childhood friend.

"Hey, Xander, is everything set..." she looked aground to see if they were alone. "For, you know, the birthday party?"

"Yep, have a present and everything!" then he swooped a hand toward the library doors, "Shall we."

Willow giggled and nodded and together they opened the doors and bounded in. As soon as Xander spotted Buffy sitting in front of G-man, who was holding one of his big books, he grinned.

"Hey," Xander called out. Buffy turned and Giles looked in his, and Willow's, direction. "It's the woman of the hour."

Willow darted around the table and threw her arms around Buffy's shoulders with a radiant smile.

"Happy Birthday, Buffy!" Willow chirped excited, and Xander was glad. While he always had his bestest bud in Jesse, Willow hadn't had any girl friends she could share her girly stuff with, and for the longest time it was just the three of them. Willow – with her red hair and shy smiles and big brains, and Jesse and his mother Mrs McNally who often cooked for all three of them, since Xander's mother was often 'busy' with other things and Dr. Sheila Rosenberg did not cook. Xander often thought that Mrs Rosenberg reminded him of the character from the Big Bang Theory; they even had the same profession in Children Psychology aka Leonard's mom.

Xander frowned as he watched Willow pull back from Buffy – who did not return the greeting. She was looking down at the table as she tucked her blonde hair behind her ear.

Willow was blinking, her face stretched up in confusion. "No Happy Birthday Buffy?"

Yeah what was up with the long face, Xander wanted to ask, but Giles' next words froze him cold.

"I-it's just that, um, part of the nightmare that Buffy had the other night actually transpired," the Englishman clucked his lounge, something Xander notice though he hadn't yet made fun of, yet.

"Which means Drusilla might still be alive," Buffy muttered then looked up, and at Giles. "Giles, in my dream, I couldn't stop her. She blindsided me. A-Angel was gone before I knew what happened."

And of course everything was about Dead-Boy. Couldn't he stay in his coffin, could he? OK yeah, he was useful, but Xander did not like him at all – nothing to do with Buffy being all ga-ga over tall, dark, handsome, mysterious guy and not Xander, nuh uh, no connection to him disliking Angel, not at all.

Giles took his glasses off, and started to clean them with sharp moves. "Even if she is alive, uh, we can still protect Angel. Dreams aren't prophecies, Buffy. Y-y-y-you dreamed that the Master had risen, but you stopped it from happening."

Xander nodded, remembering the day when the Master's minions nabbed hot Miss Calendar, Giles, Cordy, and his Willow. Buffy then after they were rescued, smashed the vampire bones with a sledgehammer.

"You ground his bones to make your bread," he said, dreamy. Buffster looked awesome doing that as well, like Wonder Women – he wondered how she'd looked dressed as Wonder Woman too.

Buffy nodded in his direction, shooting him a smile. "That's true. Except for the bread part." Then Buffy turned away from him to look at Giles. "Okay, so, fine. We're one step ahead, but I wanna stay that way."

Giles stood up and picked up one of his dusty books again. " Absolutely. Let me read up on Drusilla, uh, see if she has any particular patterns."

Then he started to walk towards his office; Xander hoped that he wouldn't have to assist him in research, that was more Wills forte. Buffy could research too, but she usually left that to Giles and Willow.

"Why don't you meet me here at 7:00? We'll map out a strategy," Giles said, Xander startled, what did … oh no did the scatterbrain forgot about the birthday party?

"What am I supposed to do until then?" Buffy asked, while Xander was glaring at the librarian's back. Oh no he would remind the G-man as soon as Buffy left the library.

"Go to classes, do your homework, have supper..." Giles listed.

Buffy let out a breath, "Right. Be that Buffy," she huffed and got up from the table, grabbed her bag, and headed out of the library. When the door swung closed, Xander waited a beat then turned to the librarian, pointing at the door.

"Well, that's not a perky birthday puppy."

Willow sighed sadly, "So much for our surprise party. I bought little hats and everything."

"Mm-hm," he nodded still watching the watcher.

"Oh, well. I guess I'll tell Cordelia." With that Willow pushed off the table and started to go. But was stopped by Rupert Giles' words.

"No, you won't. We're having a party tonight."

Ohh, Xander thought, wait who was this guy and what did he do with Giles?

Xander gave him a stare. "Looks like Mr. Caution Man," he remarked staring at the Watcher, "but the sound he makes is funny."

Willow frowns and nods in agreement.

Giles gave them disapproving looks – that was normal. "Buffy's surprise party will go ahead as we planned. Except I won't be wearing the little hat."

Willow bit her lip. "But Buffy and Angel..."

Irritation swelled inside Xander. 'Angel, Angel' what was in that guy, so he was tall and handsome and mysterious and strong hello he was a vampire, of course he was strong!

Giles put his glasses, polished now, back on his nose. "May well be in danger... as they have been before, and, I imagine, will be again. One thing I've learned in my tenure here on the Hellmouth is that there is no good time to relax. And Buffy's turning seventeen just this once, and she deserves a party."

Xander smiled, glad that he was wrong about librarian. "You're a great man of our time."

Willow smiled too, "And anyway, Angel's coming. So she'll be able to protect him and have cake.

Xander would gladly eat cake … his portion and Angel's – the tall and dark might have had Xander's dream girl's affection BUT he wouldn't get any cake.

Giles nodded and smiled slightly at Willow. "Precisely," the librarian said then went into his office, leaving them. Willow turned and exited the library with a perky bounce, Xander following close behind.

After school, Xander raced home on his skateboard – the same one he fell off of on that day he first saw Buffy Summers. Come to think it, he thought wryly, this was the first time ever he was racing home. He had a gift for Buffy to wrap – hopefully the watercolors he painted on newspaper were dry so he could use it for wrapping paper.

He bounded to his attic room, ignoring bottles of beer – Tony was passed out on the couch, ever since his father lost his job, he was just sitting at home drinking and waiting for the call back. Unfortunately this was Sunnydale and sooner or later there would be a vacancy in the position for a menial worker; there always was – so even a drunk was useful.

The painted newspaper was hanging on the boxes; he used that figurine of a dragon on a plate to weigh them down.

"Awesome," Xander muttered when he checked the newspaper – it was dry, so he carefully wrapped it around a shoe box. Soon the effect was a very pretty present box. Xander was always good with making things with his hands; perhaps he could go into construction after Highschool. But first Xander had to graduate and have that road trip, to honor his buddy Jesse.

"See," Xander smiled in triumph at the little dragon that was now on his desk, resting on top of the stack of his textbooks and notebooks– the bottom of the metal statue was perfect for ironing out the dog ears his books got on a regular basis.

Then he sobered and covered his forehead with his palm. "And I'm talking to a dragon-toy." But then again that statue was a better listener than his parents and it did not judge or nag or yell at him or even make fun of him.

Though Xander sometimes thought it did silently mock him in some way- but it was just a statue.

***Bronze - nightfall***

Xander arrived with Willow, carrying decorations, just as Oz's van pulled over that made him raise an eyebrow. Cordelia's car was already parked - she drove over with Giles and Miss Calendar.

Oz came around the library more often now; he probably hung with Giles, researching about the musician's furry problem, while Xander hung with Willow and Buffy – and Cordelia in the broom closet, not that that counted as a friendly chat. True to form, Oz nodded at them, giving a curious and sad look to Willow when she wasn't watching. Xander honestly had no idea what Willow, of all people, did to Oz – it was not like they talked.

Okay, he might be forgetting something about Oz, but for the life of him Xander could not recall what … something with Oz and Willow … hmmm...well it would come to him.

Eventually.

***10 minutes later***

Xander was just putting the final touch on his present – he was very glad that his present was more awesome than Dead-Boy's. If Angel even had a present, he certainty hadn't add anything to the pile – even Cordelia put a small envelope on the pile; knowing his girlfriend, it was probably something girly. Giles' present was suspiciously book shaped and Xander hoped that the book was nothing related Buffy's work. Willow, he knew, bought her a matching knitted, from soft pink and white wool, mittens, a scarf, and a cap. Xander had no idea what Oz – a small box wrapped in blue gift paper or Miss Calendar a thin, wide, and long gift brought Buffy.

"I think I hear her coming!" Angel whispered, and he hid behind a pillar, while the others ran for their hiding spots. Giles disappeared somewhere in the shadows of the stairwell, but the rest ducked behind the pool table.

Moments passed and there was no Buffy. Xander peaked over the table to see Angel doing the same from behind the pillar. "Where is she?" Angel asked and looked around.

Perhaps Dead-Boy was going deaf in his old age, Xander thought as the others peeked out from behind the pool table and looked up at Angel. While Xander opened his mouth to comment on the vampire's hearing, Willow hushed them all. "Shhh! I think I hear her coming."

And sure enough the Birthday-Girl made an entrance – but not through the door but crashing through the window. With a vampire. They hit the ground in a rain of broken glass, right where a band usually played when the Bronze was full of his classmates and college students.

Everyone rushed over from their hiding places, just in time to see Buffy kicking the vampire as he came for her. The vamp tumbled back a few steps. From the corner of his eye, Xander saw Oz, and oops, he forgot to forward the guy's message to Willow. Well hopefully it was nothing urgent when Oz approached Xander with a request to ask Willow if she'd call or meet him.

As Xander shrugged off the thought; they were together now, so Oz and Willow could talk – only Oz had been standing with Giles the entire time, while Willow was fussing over decorations and stealing glances in their direction.

As Xander pondered this unusual behavior it was not like Willow liked the boy band guy, but they, the Scoobies, had to help the guy out as he was a werewolf. In fact Oz would probably become an honorary Scoobie – Buffy grabbed a drumstick from a drum set, spun around with it, and thrusted it into the vampire's chest and quickly pulled it back out. The vampire exploded into ashes. They – Xander, Willow, Giles, and Oz were standing before Buffy, who was not even winded up from the fight. They stared at each other until, comically, Cordelia popped up from behind the pool table, like Jack from that box toy, with her arms raised high smiling widely and yelling "Surprise!"

They all as one, except for Buffy who was already facing her, turned around and looked back at her.

Oz's voice filled the quiet after Cordelia's outburst. "That pretty much sums it up."

Xander nearly bursted out in laughter at Oz's deadpan, even as he shook his head at Cordelia, making 'tch' sounds at the head cheerleader as Cordelia lowered her arms and started to glare at him.

Buffy meanwhile hopped down from the stage, and Xander grimaced but held his tongue. Angel went over to her; couldn't Dead-Boy have helped with the staking of that vamp – it was not like he hadn't staked one from behind before?

Angel reached her then. "Buffy, are you okay?"

Of course she was, she was Buffy, Xander wanted to yell; she was like Wonder Woman – or Jungle Girl, without a whip or jungle animal friends.

Giles took of his glasses – it was his signature move! "Yes. W-what happened?" as was the occasional stutter and British accent.

Buffy pointed behind her to the front doors. "Uh, there were these vamps outs..." she trailed off, looking aroun(; she probably did not expect the decor or Miss Calendar … hey where was the super hot computer teacher? "W-what's going on?"

G-man looked frustrated, like he hadn't thrown a birthday party before. "Oh, um... A surprise party."

Cordelia shouldered her way to the front. "Happy Birthday!" she said smiling and handed Buffy that envelope, which was a clue for the others to pick up their gifts.

Buffy looked around and smiled. "You guys did all this for me?" She turned to Angel "That is so sweet."

"You sure you're okay?" Angel repeated the question from before – the guy should know that she was fine and give her a present … hey maybe he was repeating questions so that – Yep, mystery solved, the King of Tormented Souls didn't have a present.

Buffy nodded. "Yes, I'm fine."

Giles then turned to Oz, who was looking at the pile of leftover ashes. "Are you okay?" Giles asked the 'maybe' new member of the Scoobie Gang – Xander wondered who he'd be? Scoobie Doo?

Oz finally looked away from that ash pile. "Yeah. Hey, did everybody see that guy just turn to dust?"

"After I stake a vampire – they usually do that, yes," Buffy said, watching Oz.

Xander decided to give his two cents. "Yep. Vampires are real. A lot of them live in Sunnydale. Giles will fill you in." With that, Xander moved out of Cordelia's way, but not before Oz's deadpan "That explains a lot."

"It's a coupon for the hairdresser, so you'll look presentable," Cordelia told Buffy with a brilliant smile. Buffy's returning smile was a bit strained as she took the present. Then Willow was next as she handed her box, along with her wishes. Now Buffy's smile was more genuine as she ran her hand over the wool, then she put the envelope in the box and closed the lid. Giles handed over his gift – and Xander was right. It was a very thick boring black book with a red title.

"Sun Tzu on the Art of War by Lionel Giles," Xander read out loud, and nearly sighed; it was Buffy's work related. "Wait, Giles! Did you write a book!"

"Of course not," Giles sputtered. "Just, I may have thrown the Watcher's issued Slayer Handbook away, upon meeting Buffy, since making her read that would be an unusual punishment for her. This book however is forbidden reading for the Slayer."

Buffy's eyes winded and she grinned up at the librarian. "Oh why?"

"Read it and you'll find out."

Buffy's pout at Giles' words was magnificent, but she still carefully put the book into her bag; it was a tight fit. And then it was Xander's turn. When Buffy unwrapped that leather bag, she gushed. "Wow, Xander, this pin is so pretty, thank you. And is this blade claws thingy, could be useful during patrol and the hairpins are sharp and …."

"Ahm, Xander, where did you get this?" Giles asked quietly over Buffy's and other girls' excited chatter over Xander's present – he could not help shooting a smug look toward Angel as he focused on answering Giles' question.

"Meh, I found grandfather's box labeled 'Boxer' which was funny because no one in the family was ever in the boxing business."

"I don't think ..."

"What do you mean it's real?!" Cordelia screeched. Miss Calendar put the small-ish crate onto one of the tables.

"Just as I said," Miss Calendar said handing the pins back to Buffy, "those stones are genuine."

"Xander that box, it doesn't mean boxing as in two men fighting it means 'Boxer Rebellion' that happened in China." Giles reveeled to him.

"And it has nothing to do with boxing," Angel put in his unwelcome opinion, the attention hogging vampire!

"You were there, Angel?" Buffy asked.

Angel looked at Buffy with those dark, dark soulful eyes. "Yeah..."

Bleahh, Xander made a face – he could so do the same, if he was taller, wore leather and silk, AND wore hair gel that would make Jon Travolta proud.

"Fascinating …" Giles' attention was on Angel now, "come to tea sometime and you can tell me about it … I know that there was a Slayer there in that time period."

"Yes," Angel nodded. "Spike killed her. He got lucky."

"Miss Summers … Buffy, this is my present to yo," Xander heard Miss Calendar say as she handed over the present to Buffy, who carefully unwrapped the colorful paper to reveal an Ouija board game.

Miss Calendar pointed at the game. "The box contains a game board, a planchette, and instructions. Now can somebody bring the box that those creeps left behind."

"I saw the littlest vampire – I think the others called him Dalton carrying this. Giles do you know what this is?" Buffy asked as she put the gifts on the table. "Oh Miss Calendar, will it be OK if you'd drive me and this home later?"

"Yes, it's no problem. Rupert, do you know what is in the box?"

Giles was looking at the box. "I have no idea. Can, can it be opened?"

"Well Rupert this looks like a release here." Miss Calendar worked the latch and opened the box. They all lean closer to see a single arm clad in armor. Buffy leaned back; she looked disgusted by the arm. Suddenly the arm sprung up, grabbed Willow by the throat, and began choking her. Angel and Buffy reacted immediately and pried the arm off Willow, who stumbled back into Xander who held her up so that she could catch her breath.

Angel stuffed the struggling arm back inside and Buffy slammed and latched the lid on the box. Willow was coughing now, and Xander hugged her in comfort – maybe if they threw that crate on the fire ….

Giles went to Willow and Xander, looking concerned, followed by Buffy – Angel stayed with the box, Cordy, Miss Calendar, and Oz. "Good heavens. Willow, are you all right?" Giles asked when he reached them.

Buffy came over and rubbed Willow's shoulder. "Willow? That thing had major grip, perhaps you should sit down."

"W- cough" Willow massaged her neck, wincing, "what was that?"

Oz came over with a glass of water. "It looked like an arm."

Angel looked spooked. "It can't be. She wouldn't."

Xander glared at him. "What, uh, vamp's version of 'snakes in a can', or do you care to share?"

"Angel?" Buffy prompted her creature of the night almost-boyfriend; they didn't even have a coffee date yet so – they were not together, yes Xander knew he lived in the Land of Denial, he was the president there after all.

Xander saw Angel close his eyes; he looked like somebody kicked his puppy, if he had a puppy. Did he have a puppy? Worse question: Would Angel give the puppy to Buffy as a birthday present?

Hey if that happened, with Miss Calendar's claims of real gems – he'd be getting her a pony; girls were horse crazy right?

"It-it's a legend, way before my time," Angel started to explain, haltingly. "Of a demon brought forth to rid the Earth of the plague of humanity."

Plague! … and 'Hey' on behalf of humanity.

"Separate the righteous from the wicked... and to burn the righteous down. They call him the Judge."

Xander preferred Judge from the TV Show 'Judging Amy'.

Giles was cleaning his glasses; that was not a good sign in this situation. "The Judge? This is he?"

Angel gave a small smile. "Not all of him."

Xander snorted; was Angel trying to be funny? That was Xander's job, besides that was so, so lame.

Buffy raised her hand. "Um, still needing back story here."

Ditto, Xander would like to know that as well – also the hand in the box almost strangled his Willow, which was unforgivable.

"Um... He, he, he couldn't be killed, yes?"

What? Giles didn't know about the baddie of the week? Inconceivable!

"Um, a-an army was sent against him," Giles continued. It was like he was trying to remember; come on man, wait until you consult the books, or better yet, throw the arm into a fire and then scatter the ashes.

"Most of them died... but, uh, finally they were able to dismember him, but, uh... not kill him."

So they burned innocent witches for 'whatever' but they could not burn a measly demon''s body parts.

Angel continued where Giles left off. "The pieces were scattered, buried in every corner of the Earth."

"So all these parts are being brought here," Miss Calendar mussed, watching the box where the arm was locked in.

Buffy nodded. "By Drusilla. The vamps outside were Spike's."

Oh great Billy Idol wanna bee was at it again. Xander had it with that Bleach Wonder and his merry men and psycho girlfriend.

Angel sighed. "She's just crazy enough to do it."

Willow, finally able to breath again, asked "Do what, reassemble the Judge?"

OK even Xander saw that there could not be (anything) good about it.

"And bring forth Armageddon," Angel said with dead finality in his voice.

Yeah, nothing good, even Gloomy King of Torment was more gloomy now.

"Is anybody else gonna have cake?" Cordelia suddenly asked, breaking the tension, and with that Cordy went to the pool table where the small red velvet with banana cream and chocolate cake rested, along with plastic plates and forks.

Giles however didn't even blink. "We need to get this out of town."

Miss Calendar turned to "Angel," she said. Couple of days without Dead-Boy, awesome sauce!

"What?" Buffy asked – yeah OK, Xander didn't like Buffy hurt, but still Angel was no good for her. The only good would be … Xander approved.

Angel stood before Miss Calendar who was reasoning out why he should go. "You have to do it. You're the only one that can protect this thing."

"What about me?" Buffy asked. Yeah Buffy could protect this box as well.

Miss Calendar raised her eyebrows. "What," she asked poignantly, "you're just gonna skip town for a few months?"

Buffy stared. "'Months?'"

Months? Where do they live, in the dark ages? – plane travel was faster than that! Though there could be a problem in getting the arm through customs.

Angel went to Buffy. "She's right," he said with that quiet voice of his, "I gotta get this to the remotest region possible."

Buffy frowned, and Xander mirrored that frown. He looked around and all, but Giles shared in the confusion. "But that's not months," Buffy stated.

Angel gestured grandly. "I gotta catch a cargo ship to Asia, maybe trek to Nepal..."

Was he afraid of heights or flaying or something?

Buffy lips quirked up. "You know, those newfangled flying machines really are much safer than they used to be."

"And you do not need to breath," Oz phrased that as a question,but at Angel's inpatient nod, the musician continued, "so traveling in the cargo hold would not damage you."

Angel took a step back and ran his hand through his spiked hair. "I can't fly. There's no sure way to guard against the daylight. I-I-I don't like this any more than you do, Buffy. But there's no other choice."

Dhawww.

"In other words Dead-Boy is afraid of flying!" Xander piped in teasingly; hey he might be jealous as hell but Dead-Boy needed to wind down a little.

That line was worth Angel's death glare that he received for his trouble, and a quick smile and giggle from Buffy – which earned her a puppy-vamp betrayed look from Angel.

Buffy then sighed. "When?" she asked, seemingly giving up on the idea of stuffing Angel in the dark box and putting him with the arm on an airplane and flying him off to Guatemala.

"Tonight. As soon as possible."

"But it's my birthday." Buffy looked down, disappointed. OK no, sad Buffy on her birthday was a no,no.

"Yeah Dead-Boy you can not bail on Buffy's birthday." Then Xander paused. "Your present better be worth it if you go."

"I'll drive you to the docks."

Xander watched as Angel, Buffy, and Miss Calendar piled into her car and drove off. Cordelia grudgingly put the leftovers – mostly untouched dip and chips, along with cake and all of Buffy's presents into her own car. She would drive Giles and Willow to the library.

Oz went home and …"Oz, my man," Xander said, "can you give me lift home and then to the library."

"Sure, no problem."

***Harris Residence***

Tony was not home, neither was his mother – and the living room was more or less presentable, so Xander was comfortable with leaving Oz to wait for him there.

As soon as he closed the room to attic, he started to pull his shirt off – it was one of his better Sunday shirts, so if there would be any fight with a baddie it would not be good if the shirt ripped or something.

"Hello, Sparky," he started to talk with the brass dragon sitting on the shelf. "Dead-Boy will be gone for months. And in the future where,Buffy is sad, but the upside is she's working two jobs. Double Meat Palace waitress by day, Slayer by night. And Angel's in front of the TV with a big blood belly like Tony, and he's dreaming of the glory days when Buffy still thought this whole creature of the night routine was a big turn on for her."

Xander pulled one of his simple flannel shirts on then turned to the dragon again and peered at him. Xander could have sworn that the thing looked at him like he was stupid or something.

"Hey could happen and then I'll go and rescue her – sweep her away into a sunset where she would not have to work two jobs – where she could just be my hero girl..." Maybe it was the light but the statue looked like it had just rolled its eyes at him.

***High School library***

When Xander and Oz arrived at the library, Giles and Willow were already in the books.

"Others not here yet?" Xander asked when doors swung closed behind him and Oz.

"Hey Xander," Willow greeted, "and Oz." Then she looked directly at him; apparently Willow and Oz had some sort of falling out … it made Xander glad that he forgot to forward Oz's message to meet up with Wills.

"Cordelia went home," Willow was saying, "Miss Calendar is still with Buffy and Angel. She said that Buffy will wait with for Angel to leave with the ship and then she'll make another round before coming here."

"Oh," Xander nodded, somewhat distractedly. Should he ask what was up with Oz and Willow? Nahh, it would just embarrass Willow; he'd ask later when they were alone.

Oz went directly to the resident librarian. Willow ducked back to the book, this time hiding behind it.

"Mr Giles, need any help?"

"Why yes, pick a book and join me; I'm trying to pin down the account where the army faced off with the Judge and ..."

"I'll get us snacks," Xander asked the room at large, "need anything?"

Giles hemed and frowned at him, but Xander ignored the Englishman while he received the orders and coins for snacks and beverages.

"Xander," Giles' voice stopped him on the way out, "Mars bars for me, and perhaps chips. And bottled water."

When Xander delivered the goods, they all sat down to eat something and drink. And then went back to research – Xander looked at the titles and picked those that had English translations.

An hour AND then another ticked by.

Giles looked up from the book to check the time. "They should be back by now."

Willow bit her lip, thinking. "Maybe Buffy needed a few minutes to pull herself together." She looked down, frowning sadly. "Poor Buffy, on her birthday and everything."

Xander leaned back in his chair – he was losing interest in research – no action, it was boring, much like school work.

"Hmm, it's sad, granted." He nodded, then gave his bestest bud in the whole world a big grin. "But let's look on the upside for a moment." He stood up and started to pace around. "I mean, what kind of a future would she'd really have had with him?" Willow looked at him, and Xander hated that sad expression on her face – it bordered on pity, and he didn't need that.

"She's got two jobs, right, like Denny's waitress by day..." At that, Giles and Oz looked at him – one was sighing and the other pinching his nose; the other was also giving him the same pitying look. But Xander soldiers on, somebody would say he had a point … any time now.

"...Slayer by night, and Angel's always in front of the TV with a big blood belly, and he's dreaming of the glory days when Buffy still thought this whole creature of the night routine was a big turn on."

Willow gave him a small smile that didn't reach her eyes. "You've thought way too much about this."

Xander shot her a pout. She should agree with him, not this lukewarm response he'd gotten from her. "No, no. That's just the beginning. Have I told you the part where I fly into town in my private jet and take Buffy out for prime rib?"

Because he'd discover something that would bring lots of cash! Or Willow (would) finally agree to make a computer game and sell it for a couple of millions.

"Xander..." and there was a warning in Willow's voice.

"And she cries?" Xander finished.

Giles, meanwhile, had stood up and was looking somewhere beyond Xander, so Xander abruptly found himself a chair and sat down.

"What happened?" Giles asked Buffy who just came in – and as she was not glaring or shooting Xander annoyed looks, she hadn't heard what he had said. That was good.

Buffy came to a stop before Giles, looking despondent. "Dru's guys ambushed us. They got the box."

"Where's Jenny?" Giles asked. It took a moment for Xander to recall who that could have been.

"Uh, she took Angel to get clothing. I, I had some here," Buffy replies quickly. Huh, Buffy knew what Miss Calendar's first name was? And why would Angel need new clothing?

"And we needed clothes because?" he asked suspicious.

Buffy shrugged at him like it was no big deal. "We got wet," then she turned back to the librarian, "Giles, what do we know?"

Giles adjusted his glasses then started with the baddie of the week run down. "The more I study the Judge, the less I like him. His touch can literally burn the humanity out of you. A true creature of evil can survive the process. No human ever has."

Well he had a perfect candidate for the job then. "What's the problem?" he asked smiling, "We send Cordy to fight this guy, and we go for pizza."

Buffy didn't even return his smile, in fact everyone pretty much ignored him.

"Can this guy be stopped? Without an army?" Buffy asked Giles, while Xander sulked a bit in one corner of his mind. Would it be such a trouble to smile for making a joke?!

Giles looked back at his books and traced a line there, "'no weapon forged can kill him.' Not very encouraging. If we could only stop them from assembling him."

Buffy sat on the table. "We need to find his weak spots, and we need to figure out where they'd be keeping him."

"This could take time." Giles sighed, but he didn't offer an alternative, so Buffy's plan it was.

"Better do a round robin." Willow's voice filled the silence that fell after Giles stopped speaking. "Xander, you go first."

"Good call," and Buffy agreed so Xander headed for the phone.

"Round robin?" Giles asked confused. Xander let Willow field that one.

"It's when everybody calls everybody else's mom and tells them they're staying at the other's house."

She did it so beautifully.

"Thus freeing us up for world saving," Buffy added.

"And all-night keggers!" that was Willow, "What, only Xander gets to make dumb jokes?"

Hey, my jokes are not dumb, was what he wanted to say, but his mother just picked up. "Mom, hi."

"Who is this?" his mother asked. Good she sounded tired, so that meant there wouldn't be many questions.

"Xander."

"Oh, Xander hi. Why are you calling?"

"Yeah, uh, Willow and I are gonna be studying all night long, so I'm not gonna be coming home."

"All right, say hi to Willow and her parents."

"Will do, bye mom."

***Months later on Thursday Morning***

Xander rolled away from intrusive ray of light, just as the alarm clock rang. He forgot to close the blinds when he came home last night after patrolling with Buffy.

Getting ready in record time, he managed to get there just in time. The class was, as usual, boring for everyone – Buffy was doodling something; he could see her pen moving on paper. Willow was sitting to his right, and he knew her well enough that she was paying close attention to their teacher.

Hopefully Buffy wouldn't be so bleak and crestfallen or bleak or crestfallen – her two default expressions since Soul Boy was not souled anymore.

Though he got brownie points when he refused her when she came at him, dressed only in a raincoat. But boy was he tempted to take her up on her offer – only she'd probably pulverize him when she'd come to her senses, not to mention Willow would be disappointed, and Cordelia would have probably skinned him alive ... and Giles would make him cataloge every book in the library... plus it would have been wrong.

So he did not ...

***Break- Sunnydale High colonnade***

Xander was waiting on the side for Cordelia to come down the colonnade with the Cordettes. After the spell had gone wrong and OK he should not have blackmailed Amy into this mess in the first place, every female that came in sight of Xander fell madly in lust with him.

Before this spell, Xander thought that being a lust magnet for the ladies was 'Any guy's wildest dream' but now when he had had first hand experience in being a Lust God … Xander was ready to say that this was more in the line with a very bad nightmare.

But he found out something important: Cordelia really cared for him, and was, possibly, even in love with him. Xander Lavelle Harris. How weird was that?

He spotted them when they were under the balcony and heading toward the foot of the stairs. Harmony was saying, which he could hear just fine when he jogged parallel to them on his way to intercept -

"Cody Weinberg called me at home last night," Harmony said to Cordy, excited at the prospect of a date and eager for praise from the Head Cheerleader. Like a puppy wagging its tail and waiting for treats.

"Cody Weinberg? The one with the 350sl?" Xander heard Cordelia's voice say.

"The very one. Said he's thinking of asking me to the pledge dance on Thursday," that was Harmony again.

"That's so huge!" Cordy once more. He was almost there. Just around the corner ...

"Yeah, there's just two other girls he's gonna ask first, and if they refuse, then I'll..."

He ran straight into Harmony.

"Watch it!" Harmony snapped at him. He turned to her and gave her a half-felt apology.

"God!" Harmony exclaimed as she looked him up and down, "Y'know, I'm glad your mom stopped working at the drive-through long enough to dress you."

Oh wow, he really didn't have time for this bitchy fest; he wanted to talk to Cordelia. It appeared however that that talk would have to wait.

"Did you see Jennifer's backpack? It is so a crying..." Harmony droned on; how can Cordy stand this?

"Harmony, shut up!" Cordy's snap made Xander turn back. "Do you know what you are, Harmony? You're a sheep," Cordelia lit into them.

She looked magnificent.

"I'm not a sheep," Harmony protested.

Cordelia turned to all her Cordettes, and truly rammed into them. "You're all sheep. All you ever do is what everyone else does just so you can say you did it first. And here I am, scrambling for your approval, when I'm way cooler than you are 'cause I'm not a sheep. I do what I wanna do, and I wear what I wanna wear. And you know what? I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date. No matter how lame he is."

And with that the two of them walked away hand in hand.

"I can not believe I did that!" Cordelia wailed/whispered.

"Just breath, you did well. I'm proud of you, Cordy."

One particular obnoxious beam of light hit him when he turned over. Oh yeah he forgot to close the blinds across his bed.

Drrrrrrrrrrr.

Not that it mattered, judging by the alarm he set up. He hated Wednesdays; something weird always happened on Wednesday to him – at first he thought it was a coincidence. But when he meet Buffy and her sad fate …. wait … sad... how could being a Wonder Slay-Gal be sad? Alright so she died, but she didn't stay dead … and she could not stop until she died again... no he needed to stop thinking like this.

He saved her.

But he could not save her from an early, violent death. A traitorous thought twisted in his heart. Why was he thinking like this... he rubbed his forehead with his gloved hand …. gloves… where, how and … Xander started to remove his right glove to reveal...

WHAT?!

…..

He blinked repeatedly at his hand – his metal hand; he wiggled his fingers – the metal moved! He had a metal hand.

OMG! He was a freaking robot! What if he was a killer robot!? What happened to the real Xander?!

He had to get to Giles!

Yesterday!

***Sunnydale High***

The halls blurred together as he ran through them; vaguely he was aware of a semi-familiar blonde in blue with a dog following after him.

"Xander!" his tail yelled after him.

He skidded to the stop and turned around to face a somewhat familiar person- "What is it to you?"

"I'm Willow!" exclaimed … Willow?

"Willow, you're blonde and hot, and blonde; did I mention that you are hot?"

Willow became red in the face, and as she was stammering out a reply, Xander's eyes fell back onto his … hand. He turned sharply around and started a full on sprint towards the library. Watcher-Man had to turn him back into a human, there had to be away. What if he turned into the Terminator?

With that thought and when he finally caught sight of double door that lead to the library, he speed up even more.

***High School Library***

Xander was yelling "I'm a Terminator!" when he kicked the door and skidded to a stop before Giles.

He was followed by an equally blonde but taller and busty and curvaceous girl, who was actually Willow, in a blue suit with a black and white dog at her heal. The dog didn't look fully grown yet.

"Calm down, Xander," came a voice from behind him. He nearly got whiplash when he turned his head back to see the now blonde Willow that he had waved his robotic arm under her nose– the second he meet the her eyes he knew that this was still His Brave Little Toaster Willow.

"I can't calm down, Wills – don't you see I have a robotic arm!" he yelled, and Willow actually rolled her -now brown eyes and sighed at him.

"You are not," a short child sized girl, with pale blonde hair, said. She was sitting on the table – probably for a better view of the room. Because she was so little.

"You just have a robotic arm and leg and ..." she continued with a calm voice, but Xander's brain registered only … "LEGGG!" Xander grabbed his hair and pulled. That did it – his entire body was metal – he was full of metal. Shittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt!

He turned around to demand answers from 'Dr. English Of All Things Weird' aka G-Man, only to collide with a book – where did that book come from and … ouch that hurt!

"How did you know Mr. Calm has a robotic leg?"

Xander heard one of the girls ask. He was sitting on the ground where that book knocked him over – all things considered, if he took into account that the throw was so powerful that it knocked him off his feet – and he felt pain, the throbbing kind -

"M-Miss Chase!" G-Man squawked. Oh, and Xander was nursing an angry, throbbing welt on his head, where that book had made contact, while Giles passed him without checking on him – he could have a concussion, priorities man!

The doll girl put a pipe, of all things she was what eleven and she had a pipe into her mouth and did a little hmm sound. "The way he walked was slightly tilted, so …" she said.

"Ahh," the other girl said, nodding, tossing her almost floor length blonde hair that were in two side pony tails. Closing her red eyes, she held her chin in thought.

But Xander's attention went to Willow, who knelt by him and started to put some bandages on his throbbing head. Xander tried, and failed, to fend her off.

"Guys!" half pint called to gain their attention.

Xander blinked, wait if he was blonde and Willow was blond then ... "Huh, who are you?" he asked – she was either Cordelia, if that was the case Xander had every intention in gently breaking it off with her. She was just too short for him. And too doll like. And too Goth Lolita.

"She is Buffy, dumbass," the girl with the ponytails barked out, irritated – come to think it, it was her that had thrown that book at him.

" – you know Miss-Slays-a-lot."After she said her piece, she pointedly ignored his muttered "That's gotta be Cordelia Bitchy Queen." Thankfully, Xander didn't have to deal with another book in his face.

Cordelia turned to Giles, pointing at him as well as pinning him down with her reddish eyes.

"Better think of a way to solve this," she commanded imperiously, "I do not fancy missing cheerleader practice." At that, she looked down her front, frowning thunderously, "and I want my chest back!"

Xander perked up but it was Willow who spoke to Cordelia.

"Oh yeah, Cordy, you are as flat as a board now," Willow said smirking and wiggling her blonde eyebrows.

Cordelia narrowed her eyes into slits while her eyebrow twitched. Xander lost interest in the pending cat fight, and went to Giles' desk to see if he hand any leftover snacks from the research parties.

"Don't call me Cordy, little miss softer side of Sears," Cordelia growled out.

And he promptly retreated from a glass of milk … and he had no idea why, but he was seriously grossed out by this particular liquid.

"Children!" Giles yelled, trying to calm them all down. Well he wasn't succeeding with Xander, no siree Bob, he was getting away from that bottle that read 'Milk' in bold blue letters.

"Oi – blondies!" Buffy called out as she held up some book. "Did some guy come to your home yesterday?"

Xander nodded even as he inched away from the bane of his existence, not looking away from it. "Jan Congeria," he elaborated.

"Man, what is with you and milk?" Oz asked, "you've been avoiding it all day."

At Oz's 'milk comment', he whirled on the werewolf and started to yell. "I don't like to drink milk, all right! I don't wanna!"

Kay, why did he just yell like an miffed five year old? And since when did he dislike milk so much that he snapped at people?

"Xander, that is not for you," Giles' voice penetrated the haze of Xander's thoughts, "It's for my neighbor's cat."

That made Xander calm down. "Ahh, OK then." He then sprawled himself onto the chair. Man this whole milk business was so tiring … but on the bright side, he was not a killer robot – he just had a metallic arm and leg, as Buffy pointed out – he checked, it was true, the rest of him was living and his was heart beating like a normal guy.

"Jan Congeria was apparently at my house talking to my father," Willow said. "And this is Aleshanee. Dad said that the same man brought her to our house before I woke up." She pointed at the Shiba Inu, who was sniffing at Adsila.

"Right," Buffy drawled. "One, I think this is permanent. And done by Giles' buddy Ethan Rayne."

"WHAT?!" That yell came from all of them except for Oz, who didn't say anything and who was perfectly content in waiting for Buffy to share information.

"How is it Ethan?" Giles asked frowning.

"This is not permanent!" Cordelia yelled at them all, "FIX IT!"

"Oh knock it off, Cordy, you might be as flat as a board ..." Xander said from his corner – that was the farthermost from that bottle.

"I am not flat!" Cordelia screeched.

"And I am not short!" Xander yelled back.

Wait, where did that come from? It was not like Cordy called him short … right?

"Nobody called you short!" Cordelia's eyes became a burning red with anger as she marched up to Xander and poked him in the chest. "Buffy is short, you idiot, not you!"

"Buffy, what did you mean by permanent?" Willow asked, and yeah he could tune out Cordelia's ranting at him to follow the others' conversation.

Mr. Giles clicked his tongue. "And how is Ethan involved in all of this?" he directed his question at Buffy.

"I'll explain," Buffy said, her voice was so … "The name Jan is short for Janus and Congeria is Latin for Chaos. Also this is somewhat similar to the spell he did on Halloween. Only far more potent and not to mention targeted."

She kinda reminded Xander of Sherlock Holmes – if he was a midget doll girl slayer.

"Nobody sees the changes but us. And you Giles," then Buffy shrugged, "but I haven't met any other that is aware of the magic and what we do or Angel, I haven't seen him either," she added as an afterthought.

It was a good thing that Buffy hadn't sounded so heartbroken. Angel losing his soul cost her more than a boyfriend and a man that could stand with her on an equal exchange.

It created an enemy that had intimate information and stayed in the shadows just out of reach, making it difficult for Buffy to move on. It was hard facing somebody who you loved. When Jesse was vamped, Xander tried to reason with him despite knowing that THIS thing wearing Jesse's face was not his childhood friend – and Jesse was dust only because some running student pushed him onto the stake Xander was holding.

It must have been harder for Buffy.

As Xander was mussing this, the door to the library swung open and the Computer Science teacher Miss Jenny Calendar walked in. Her eyes darted around, looking for something; when her eyes met the group, she faltered in her steps. Miss Calendar's cognac colored eyes flew toward Giles for a moment, then fell to the ground.

'She should be apologizing to all of us,' Xander thought – she could have warned them that Dead-Boy's soul could do a walkabout when Angel was perfectly happy, and how could he not be?

He got a girlfriend who hadn't cared that he was a totally different species, and he had friends – even Xander was looking at Dead Boy as a friend, when he was not jealous about him and Buffy being together.

"Rupert, can I …" Miss Calendar was looking at Mr. Giles, though she was avoiding direct eye contact.

"Miss Calendar." Buffy stepped closer in one firm and precise movement, cutting across the Computer Science teacher's words, but her voice was mild, her eyes soft to cushion the abruptness of her interruption of Miss Calendar's plea.

"Do you notice something different about all of us?" She pointed at the room at large.

Miss Calendar looked at them, really looked, then she shook her head in the negative, her brows furrowed in confusion.

"No," Miss Calendar said, then she glanced under her eyelashes at Mr. Giles. "I should..."

"Jenny, wait please," Giles said while he gently touched Miss Calendar's elbow. Then he adjusted his glasses, suddenly flustered as Jenny turned back and faced him, her expression hopeful, and his guarded and flustered.

Aww, teachers in love were so cute.

"Oh for the love of," Cordelia exploded. "Miss Calendar lied and chose the kooky gypsy clan over us, which resulted in Miss-Slays-a-lot's psycho boyfriend to lose his soul. Get over it! Spank your inner Mopped, but get over it. We have bigger problems than one more blood sucker in Sunnydale."

Crudely put, but accurate. Angelus was no different in the grand scheme of things – it was only that they had lost an ally and a friend, something that could have happened if Willow or Giles or Cordy or himself would have been turned into a vampire.

"What is going on?" Miss Calendar looked from one person to the next, her eyes filled with focused intent. Finally – now she took Buffy seriously.

"Well, it is like this," Giles said while looking at Miss Calendar, "the children do not look the same as they did the previous evening, they woke up … different."

Well, that didn't clear up anything at all.

Miss Calendar blinked and tilted her head, like a confused kitten. "They do not look any different."

"Well we do!" Cordelia started to rant, "I had a fabulous figure and now I'm flat with tacky shoes and blonde hair – though I look good blonde,"

Sure, air your problems first – it was not like you had metallic arm and leg or were a vertically challenged person.

"Buffy turned into a tiny dolly Lolita, Xander became a spazzy long haired blonde idiot … though that is not much difference,"

Hey, I resent that remark, Xander thought while he glared at the ranting Cheerleader.

"And nerd girl is not a redhead anymore, but a gun toting blonde."

Did Cordelia even breath during this rant, and she forgot to mention Oz.

Miss Calendar blinked. "And I don't see, or even remember, the difference?" she asked, "But Rupert does?"

At the all around nods, she hummed. "Are you sure you are not under some spell that makes you think all that?"

"NO."

***Half an hour later***

Miss Calendar – who insisted on being called Jenny decided to cast bones to find out what happened to them. Xander decided he'd take a quick nap – he was after all a growing boy.

He was half dreaming about a silly thing like that yellow dragon in his room coming alive and singing the Macarena … when a voice intruded his peace and quiet...

"Right, little miscreants, stop loitering. You have short..." the voice was saying, but Xander only heard 'you are little, short – microbe-

"DON'T CALL ME SHORT!" Xander roared, and there was lightning and suddenly the swinging doors transformed into a palm and slapped Snyder like one would slap a fly – or a mosquito.

Xander stared at the unconscious body. "Did I do that?"

Oz nodded. "Yes."

Xander walked to the body and poked it with a stick – hey where did this stick come from, oh well. "Why the heck did I do that?" he asked. Nobody answered him … then after half a minute.

"Well, that does it then," Buffy had stood up, stopped poking the obnoxious principle … no wait, Snyder's hand twitched, he was waking up then, so Xander knelt and delivered a Xander-chop to the back of Snyder head, sending the Principal back into LaLa land.

"Somebody will have to patrol instead of me," Buffy continued.

Cordelia whirled on her. "Wait – why? You are the Slayer; it's your job!"

Could it be her job – she was not getting paid, not even dental, or insurance or anything like that.

"I don't get paid – so not a job," Buffy pointedly said like she was explaining something very simple, all while reading a book.

"She can not patrol," Oz stated – funny thought, Oz was around Buffy all the time now, why? He almost stood guard over her – as if a smallest breeze would harm Buffy?

Wait could it?

Xander had a terrible thought – sure he might be the only one that ended up with metallic limbs, but that did not mean that the others hadn't gotten their own bad stuff along with changed temperance.

"I u - understand that changes are distracting," Giles said, while ripping his glasses off and cleaning them with a vengeance. The librarian/Watcher was clearly frustrated by what was happening if the creasing in his forehead was any indication, "but you are still the Slayer."

"She is sensitive to pain," Oz said flatly, his blue eyes flashing in warning – do not push – as the werewolf turned to the Watcher, while nudging Buffy to step aside, so that Oz was facing Giles directly.

"She was having trouble with the human bullies, and if she is sent out, she will die." Oz sent an apologetic look to Buffy, who just nodded solemnly back at Oz.

Xander winced – if Buffy was so sensitive to pain, that was very bad. It was catastrophic. Even more catastrophic than him having a metal – huh, Xander thought it over. He had done some sort of magic, and he was physically stronger than before, so theoretically he could take care of tonight's patrol. But he wouldn't be alone – if he'd have to drag Cordelia kicking and screaming, HE WOULD.

Buffy nodded. "It's true," she confirmed Oz's words, then she turned back to Giles, "When I hit that guy … I … it felt like my knuckle bone fractured and for brief moment I couldn't move, because it hurt so much and my eyes went blurry ...and..." While Buffy was telling her experience to Giles, the Watcher reached forward and flicked her forehead.

"Ouch Giles!" Buffy immediately put her small palm over the spot while she teared up.

"What is wrong with you? That wasn't cool, man," Oz chided Giles – who looked chagrined, but also worried about Buffy.

"That hurt?" Giles asked while he stepped back.

"Yes!" Buffy was now rubbing her forehead and blinking furiously so that the tears would not fall. That had truly done it – until they found a solution, Buffy wouldn't come near any situations that had the potential to require her fighting.

"It felt like you slapped me!" Buffy exclaimed, her voice slightly shook, but otherwise it was in its normal pitch.

"I'm terribly sorry."

"She cannot go on patrol, Rupert, she'll get killed," Miss Calendar said, frowning in concern.

"Miss Calendar," Buffy drew Miss Calendar's attention to herself, "how did Angel lose his soul or is my new liability ...well new?"

Now that was a valid question, Xander turned questioningly toward Miss Calendar. He wanted to know that too, because if Buffy was supposedly so sensitive to pain before, Angel could not have lost his soul in the same way.

"He felt accepted and loved by you … that was the true reason," Miss Calendar stated.

"He felt loved, trusted, and accepted by me – and he and I shared an intimate moment," Buffy said matter of fact and that was the clinch that cost Angel his soul. The gypsies deserved a good beat up.

"Oh, well … about that, I umm, made a program that translates the lost Romani language," Miss Calendar said hesitantly, looking from Buffy to Giles.

"You are looking for a Soul Restoration Spell?" Giles asked, and there was caution in his voice. Why? Was this some type of thing where magic had a hidden print where there entails the cost or something? But then again Giles was always, heh, watchful of magic.

Miss Calendar nodded. "Aahh yes."

"Miss Calendar, stay with Giles and do not go out after nightfall," Buffy said, while tapping the cover of the book.

Was Buffy suddenly matchmaking … no, Xander might not be the most observant person in the room but yeah, Miss Calendar was a target.

"That is all right." Miss Calendar smiled at Buffy, "no one knows that I'm from the Kalderash tribe and"

"Miss Calendar," Buffy interrupted her, again, though her voice was even and kind, "Drusilla is a seer; she might already have had a vision that you are able to do the restoration spell."

There was still the problem of patrolling Sunnydale for baddies of the night too.

"That is OK – I'll take the patrol." Xander raised his hand from his place on the floor, where he was poking the unconscious principal.

Giles clucked his tongue. "Xander, it is not your duty to..."

"Neither is it Buffy's. She died once so technically she is done with that duty," Willow said matter of fact. "Besides, the way you use this word is incorrect. Duty implies choice – Buffy had none. She did not chose to be a slayer; she is not bound by oath to use her powers."

Buffy nodded. "C'est correct."

Giles turned toward Buffy, his eyes wide in astonishment. "Buffy – since when do you speak French?"

"Since I woke up this morning …. and I also speak German, Italian, and Japanese, oh and Arabic. Oh and Greek – also apparently Occitan and Monégasque, whatever that is," Buffy listed, but ended in a frustrated huff accompanied by throwing her arms into the air and sitting heavily on the chair with a small pout.

Mr. Giles then turned around and brought a couple of books and then put them before Buffy to read in the language they were written in out loud, then to summarize what she had read.

"So we, for some reason" Cordelia waved at them all, "went totally blonde and learned another language?"

"It would appear so," Mr Giles said while looking over at Buffy translating Latin text into Greek.

"Not to rain on anybody's parade," Buffy looked up from her texts, "Willow can you check if our subjects has changed – before I left for school today, my mom – who totally didn't notice anything different than usual" Buffy ignored Cordelia's muttering that Joyce Summers never saw anything amiss in general "Momsaid that since I passed French, I applied for Spanish. I believe that the new teacher Miss Greenaway is teaching that class."

Willow was already accessing their time tables. "You are right. Xander you have added to your usual classes Advanced Chemistry, along with Biomolecular Engineering."

"What!" Xander went to Willow and peered over her shoulder. "No way – oh hey I do very well in those. Except for the fact that I've never been – or did we even have these subjects before?"

Xander shrugged, the motion that was repeated around the room.

"Moving on," Willow said, while typing on the keyboard, "well I have Vehicle engineering and Metallurgy and Law Studies." She leaned back in her chair, "Now those I know we did not have here before."

Then she went back to the screen, scrolling down.

"Cordy, you also have Law Studies with me, and Molecular engineering, something you have with Oz. Oz you have Ecological engineering, and Culinary. OK apparently you are into ecology and cooking – nice combo there. Buffy you have, along with Spanish, Sociology and Ethnology and Anthropology." Then she pressed a couple of keys, "and you have two more classes - Folklore Studies and the Arts."

Buffy frowned. "That is a bit much, isn't it? With the regular classes?"

"That is just it; apparently you passed most of them already."

"What? How and when?" Then she paused, "how did I do?" Buffy asked with small thin voice.

"Well you are apparently a brainy girl now. You passed my scores .. or my old scores."

"Oh." Buffy breathed; she looked a bit overwhelmed.

"Uhuh," Willow muttered. "Big problem guys, we are going to be late to our classes – I'm printing our timetables and maps so that you'll know where the class is located, and we will meet before school. Oz, will you take Buffy home after class?" At Oz's affirmative nod, Willow continued. "Take the timetables with your names on it and – Miss Calendar, Mr Giles sign forms saying that you held us, so that we won't get detentions today for being late."

***After school***

When night had fallen Xander and Cordelia were in one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries.

"I can't believe I'd agreed to this," Cordelia grumbled. She was complaining the entire time, granted Xander more or less forced her to come. Though her fox, or was it a dog – fox like dog, insisted that they – all three of them came. Funny, Adsila could turn into a girl – with ears and a bushy tail, and she was a tremendous help. Between the three of them the vampires did not have a chance.

"Perhaps because you discovered that you can transform that brooch thing into a scythe that talks?" Xander asked sarcastically – he was angry that Cordelia nearly took his head off with her weapon. That she nearly dropped it when it spoke and introduced itself.

Falxfoenaria - A mouthful.

"Oh shut it, Mister I can turn stuff into other stuff," Cordelia grumbled, pulling her sickle closer – she could fire beams of … fire at vampires. The attack had signed his eyebrows.

A sudden gust of wind pulled at his red coat, and a descanted newspaper tumbled past Cordelia and got tangled in his legs.

Xander bent down to untangle the 'Sunnydale Day News' weekly paper that most people of Sunnydale read, only for a name to catch his attention – why would the BAU FBI come to Sunnydale?

He read:


'Urgent News – hot from the printing press. Today Mrs & Mr. Kendall came home to find their teenager daughter Harmony Kendall missing and their house in disarray. A missing report was filed by concerned parents, and called on Sunnydale PD Detective P. Stein, who is leading the investigation, to call the FBI for help. Quantico BAU team will be landing at the Army base Airport tomorrow. Our prayers are with the Missing teen Harmony Kendall.'


"Cordelia?" Xander called his girlfriend who wandered ahead with Adsila. The FBI was coming to investigate? How in the world did they notice one disappearance – in Sunnydale, teens disappeared every day!

Why now! And judging by the date of the newspaper – tomorrow Snyder would, probably, badmouthed them and Buffy in particular to the FBI agents – that was just great. He needed to call in- warn the others. And possibly concuss the Principal again – perhaps he'd fall into a coma. That would solve some problems.

Cordelia turned, frowning – he could see it over the rim of newspaper that she was frowning.

"What?" she snapped.

"Read the damn paper!" He thrusted the paper into her hands and threw a stake at an approaching vampire. He found out that his accuracy at throwing things – he was stronger too – combined with his ability to transform other things, like a tin can into a wooden stake, were very useful.

OK so sometimes he made an 'oops' and transformed something into something embarrassing – like that thick branch; before he wanted to transform it into a big hammer for a demon, but the log turned into a statue of a naked Cordelia.

His cheek still throbbed – Xander was sure that the dent from Cordelia's slap was still visible – as for the demon, Cordelia used her weapon to set it on fire – the statue first then the attacking demon.

***Home***

After talking to Giles – and after Cordelia drove herself home after dropping him of he shared all that had happened with his dragon statue friend.

"Man, I had a long day … and I'm talking to a statue again," muttered Xander and threw said statue in the box. The box apparently was not secure and it toppled to the floor.

And why was there some …

"I'mmmmmmm awake!"

Xander blinked, watching the statue – that wasn't a statue anymore, but a scrawny, tiny, red and orange-accented Chinese dragon with blue horns.

"Huh?" was Xander's eloquent response, no seriously, what kind of reaction should he have had – there was a tiny pigmy dragon in his room. A live one.

"What is with that stupid expression, kid?"

And apparently rude.

"Who are you calling stupid, you midget dragon?!"

"Hey! That is rude, besides I'm the Great and Powerful Mushu!" the dragon, named Mushu, introduce himself.

Xander felt his eyebrow twitch in irritation. "Hey, are you ... the one...?"

Mushu crossed his clawed arms and turned away from him – was he sulking or something? "Hey, kid, stop with the pointing and staring. It is rude!"

Xander hissed a curse word. "You ... how ..." he fumed.

"Are you always this articulate?" the Fire Worm asked.

"OK my creation should not be so annoying." Because who else could bring an inanimate object to life – he did it before with the doors that concussed Snyder.

Mushu looked affronted, and a tiny jet of flames shot from his mouth. "BTW, I was not created by you! I was alive before you, you know ... though the last time I was awake and moving was when I had adventures with my girl, her cow, and my buddy Cricket."

Xander stared - what, no seriously what?!

Mushu, however, started to pace and rant. "Also that plan of yours with Slayer gal - totally stupid. It's like if my girl Mulan hooked up with Ling or Yao or Chin Poo."

END of chapter 1/3

Cordy familiar-Adsila translates to Blossom (girl)

Willows dog's name-Aleshanee translates to 'She who always plays'(girl)