They were once again around Angel's table, eating Angel's food when the uninvited guest turned up. Ethan Rayne strolled into the kitchen as though he owned the place. It was only Doyle's hand on his arm that stopped Angel from going at the man.
"Ah, the prophecy demon. How nice to meet you."
"You're the teacher?"
"Yes Mr. Doyle. I've been sent here, against my will I might add, to teach one of you magic."
"A spell. You're just suppose to teach me one spell."
"My dear boy, magic simply doesn't work that way. Let's get this over with shall we?"
They followed Ethan into the room Angel used for sparring. He and Xander sat cross-legged on the floor, facing each other. The older man began showing Xander the basics of casting. One step at a time the lessons progressed, until almost two hours later Ethan had Xander work a spell. It was simple conjuring, but it required focus. Xander closed his eyes, centered himself as he had been taught, and began. He pictured the item, making his image of it as detailed as he could, then he thought of where it was located and the path it would have to travel to get to him. Then he reached...
When he opened his eyes again he was holding Cordelia's jacket. He had brought it all the way from her apartment. The boy turned to Ethan to see if he had done the spell correctly. The look on his teacher's face stole his words.
"Gods. You've studied magic before."
"Well, you did very well for a first lesson. You'll be feeling the loss of the power you just used very shortly. You should go and lie down. We'll begin again tomorrow."
Spike helped Xander to his feet and the two of them left for their garage apartment. Cordelia had left earlier, only Ethan, Doyle and Angel remained in the room. The wizard paced back and forth like a cat. Muttering under his breath in at least three languages the only words that were really clear were Ripper, insane, and dangerous.
"What is it?"
"Oh, nothing of any great import Angelus. Just a few small things all added together."
"Well, first I'm being coerced by unknown person or persons into helping the lot of you. Secondly, that requires me to teach a boy with no training whatsoever the use of some very powerful magics. And lastly, I've just discovered that Ripper has completely lost his mind."
"That boy, that untrained boy, performed an act of conjuring that he had no business being able to do. It should have taken him weeks to even begin to learn what he's mastered in one afternoon. If you bother to look past the exterior it's there for anyone to see. I can't understand how Ripper missed it."
"Power. Pure, raw, untapped power. Coupled with an instinctive understanding of the concepts and consequences of casting. He is a natural magic user. A born wizard if you will. There is a very real possibility that he's a warlock."
"Hold on there. There hasn't been any real warlocks in centuries. Nobody's born with that kind of power these days. Certainly not that lad. He's barely more then a boy."
"Be that as it may, I assure you Mr. Doyle all you need do to see the truth for yourself is look at him. Young Mr. Harris is a warlock."
"Is it possible this happened since he got involved with Spike?"
Angel thought about Doyle's question. He thought about every time he and Xander had fought each other or fought with each other side-by-side. The vampire remembered all the things Xander had been through and how he had been treated. And then he remembered his own reaction to the boy when he'd been free of the curse.
"No, Xander's always had power. I think he's just learned to hide it. He may not even remember what he is."
"That's probably quite true. My guess would be that growing up in the Hellmouth, he learned early to shield himself. It would be necessary in order to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention. Still, I can't believe Ripper never saw this."
"Then you don't know your old mate like you thought you did."
Spike stood in the door way watching them. Ethan had no idea how long he'd been there, but it was obvious he was not happy. The blonde stalked across the floor until he stood directly in front of the newest arrival.
"Whatever you've got in that twonky head of yours...get it out."
"I don't know what you mean."
"Like you didn't turn Giles into a demon. Look you, I don't give a piss what you do to the watcher but you leave off Alex."
"Alex? I thought the boy's name was Xander."
"To you it is."
"I have no intention of harming him. I'm here to teach him how to use the power he was apparently born with."
"You'll have to let me explain that to him, he won't believe it from you."
"You've known all along."
"I knew he was different. I thought it was because of the hyena and the soldier."
"What are you talking about?"
"Ask him tomorrow. He'll tell you if he wants you to know."
"How is he?"
"Out cold. How long will he sleep?"
"Two maybe three hours. Once he learns to pull energy from outside his own body that will stop. It's just that now, in the beginning..."
"Be careful of him. You hurt him, you die."
"That's a familiar refrain."
Spike left the room as quietly as he had entered it. Angel and Doyle had a thousand questions, but one look at Ethan told them now was not the time. The other man had sunk to the floor. He was sitting cross legged staring into the distance...into the past. Whatever he saw there brought a look of utter despair to his face. The sorrow and his position stole decades from him, and for a moment he seemed like nothing more than a lost and frightened boy. Doyle reached to comfort him without hesitation, and Angel was caught in his own memories of the recent past. Memories of a beautiful dark haired boy with, and regrets for all the times that he turned his back on the pain in hazel eyes made for drowning in.
It was inevitable that it was in this precise moment, that the doorbell rang. In the silence that followed they could hear Cordelia walk to the door, it opened, and then...."Giles. What brings you to L.A.?" Cordelia's voice rang through the house. It was Ethan who stated everyone's feelings about this development.