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We're heading down the garden path at warp speed. Can anyone

see the light? Please enjoy, comment if you feel like it.

I'd love to hear from you.




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November 08, 2030

In honor of his fiftieth birthday, Xander Lavelle Harris had been invited to join the Dowells and Chalmers for a celebratory dinner. To say he was nervous beyond the telling of it would be an understatement. He hadn’t seen Angel since the vampire had almost killed him near the kennels with Will’s blood on his clothing. Buffy had sworn Angel would be on his best behavior, and that he no longer thought him responsible for any part of his son’s kidnapping, but his heart pretty much beat double-time, in spite of his medications.

He was dropped off in front of the Hyperion, arms loaded down with colorful flower bouquets for the ladies; large ones for Buffy and Dawn, and slightly smaller ones for Nina and Charlotte, since he really didn’t know them, but was trying to be polite.

Trying not to bruise the blossoms, he transferred the bouquets to one hand, so he could ring the doorbell. He quietly tried not to have a heart attack while he waited for someone to answer the door. With his luck it would be Angel in game-face.

As it turned out, it was Will who opened the door. “Welcome to my home, Xander,” he said, relieving him of his blossomy burden.

Xander could hardly take his eyes off of Will. The young man was exactly the same age as he – the original William – was when he was turned. It blew his mind to see that familiar face again. So much moreso than when Will had appeared on his doorstep years ago.

“Hey, Xander,” Buffy said softly, approaching him for a kiss on the cheek, while balancing her two year old daughter on her hip.

If seeing Will was mind-blowing, seeing Buffy was a total mind-fuck. She was as young and gloriously beautiful as she’d been before he had headed off to Africa.

“What’s the matter, Xander?” Dawn chimed in from across the room. “Cat got your tongue?”

“I just – it’s sorta – I need to sit for a moment, if you don’t mind.

Buffy led him to a chair, where he could put down his cane and try to gather his wits. “I had no idea how difficult seeing Spike’s face, and Buffy’s baby-face, and Dawn’s more-mature-face would be,” he said. “It’s like a major time-warp, where some of us got pulled into opposite directions.”

“Hi, Xander,” a strange woman introduced herself, offering him a glass of cold water. “I’m Nina, Angel’s wife. Try and take it easy. The vagaries will settle in and become the new normal soon enough.”

“Xander,” Angel’s voice sounded loud as he appeared nearby, startling Xander enough to slosh his water the slightest bit. He nodded in welcome, and then moved closer to his wife.

Oh how hard Xander bit his tongue to hold the default ‘Hello, Deadboy’ greeting from leaving his mouth. Thank the great god in heaven he was successful. He did decide on a safe subject, however. “What a beautiful little girl you have, Buffy. She has Spi-Will’s eyes, and your mouth.”

“She’s absolutely divine,” Buffy agreed. “Say hello to my friend Xander, Jocelyn,” she added to her daughter.

“Hewwow, man,” the child said, coming as close to his name as she could, he supposed.

Two other strange people came over to introduce themselves. “Hello, Mr. Harris. My name is Hugh Chalmers. I hear birthday greetings are in order?”

“Please call me Xander. Mr. Harris reminds me too much of my father, and that is not a good thing.”

“Hi, Xander,” the woman next to Hugh held out her hand. “I’m Charlotte Chalmers, and that’s our daughter, Bethany,” she said, pointing to a young woman near the table.

Oh!” he cried out, standing quickly. “The flowers…” he said, looking at Will. “The pink bouquet is for Buffy, the peach colored roses are for Nina, Dawn, the yellow roses are for you. Charlotte, the cream colored roses are for you. I want to thank you all for inviting me. Birthdays tend to be rough when spent alone.”

Dawn hugged her old friend, and smiled. “Glad to have you back with us, Xander. It’s been a long, long road, for us all. Now come with me. I’d like to introduce to my husband, Connor, and my son, Liam.”

“Dinner’s ready,” Nina called out from the doorway. “Everyone sit. Angel, come help me get the food to the table.”

Xander had to smile at the speed with which the vampire scarpered after his wife.

There was nothing more that Xander could have asked for. Tonight he’d received the best of all gifts – the gift of acceptance, and the return of family ties. Where once they had been stretched to the breaking point, now they’d pulled back. And while nothing would ever be the same as it used to be, the new normal was good. All was right in his world again.


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