Hell on Earth

Battlefield Los Angeles

Author: Cyclops698 <cyclops698[at]aol.com>

Rating: R (War type battle scene violence, dialogue)

Spoilers: Everything through all 7 seasons of Buffy is fair game, as is everything from Angel…but the basis of the story will be everything from Angel's 100th episode and forward.

Summary: One possible of the outcome of Angel's final season and what may have led up to it.

Pairing: Probably a few at some point, not sure what they're gonna be, the only slash one will be Willow and Kennedy-maybe. And well Andrew's gay, but he's not getting a relationship either, so no worries there.

Disclaimer: Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon own Buffy and Angel, coughmoroncough. I'm not getting paid for this, but if you leave me feedback that would be great. It is the first time I'm ever letting anyone else see any fan fiction I've written.

Author's Notes: I have to thank whoever laid out the challenge awhile ago for those of us who have never written to post a story. I had something else planned based on "Restless", but after watching the finale of Angel, I had so many ideas for this, that I just started writing. I also wanna thank Brad for pushing me to actually start writing instead of talking about it and being someone to toss ideas off of. White werewolf also gets some thanks for telling me that it'd be a good idea to write. Seventh Pack and SwordofChiyun also deserve a debt of gratitude for taking time to help a first time author and going over my story. And then every author who's ever posted a story gets my thanks for forging the terrain I now travel into. No matter what you think of this, please reply to the group or off-group, I don't care. Let me know what I'm doing wrong, and anything I may be doing right.

"…" Indicates spoken dialogue.

***…*** Indicates thoughts.

And now on to the story…

Chapter 1
African Visit

The only light that can be seen is the faint glow of a campfire and the silhouette of a man carving something out of wood. By that light, a number of tents are noticeable and the outline of quite a few girls could be made out. We see one walking towards the fire and she speaks to the man sitting by the campfire.

"Hey Xand-Man. A few of the girls are getting restless. They wanna know when they're gonna be able to head to England and get started on the full training."

"I don't know Vi. Something's coming soon, real soon…maybe even tonight…"

"You need me to get everyone ready; mount up and all that."

"No…not this time…"

"But Xander…

"Nah, Vi. This is something else. I don't think it's bad or evil, but it's coming. So just be on guard in case I'm wrong…and you know what to do if something really goes wrong. Get everyone out of here, get to Johannesburg and get on the first flight out of Africa. You have our list of contacts."

"Xander, I'll send the girls, they know what to do, but I've made promises to people and I WILL NOT leave you here. You will be with us, one way or another. But none of that matters, because I know you and you won't leave us alone out here. You're too good a man to do that to a group of poor defenseless girls, aren't ya?"

"Real funny Vi. We both know that none of you are defenseless and to put yourself in that group…well we both know the truth on how defenseless you really are. You took apart those Fyarl demons last week like they were nothing."

"It was that time of the month…

"Way too much info there for my liking. I gotta do this Vi, I'm going over that hill right there, keep everyone safe and remember what I said if I'm not back by morning."

"Right, get the girls to the airport and then come find and save your cute ass."

"What is it with me and strong, sexy slayers never listening to me?"

"Did you just call me sexy, Xand?"

"Ummm….gotta go…….

"But Xand, the night now has potential….

As Vi watched him go, her thoughts were completely focused on making sure she knew what to do next and how to handle things if they went to hell. Well there was another thought in her head as she watched him walk away and that was he does have a really cute ass and that if he didn't come back, there would be lots of people who wanted to string her up for losing him.

Xander made his way down the dirt path through the hills as he reached the top, he gave a little look back and noticed Vi starting to gather up the stakes he just finished carving and passing them out. She saw him and a little nod was exchanged between them. An unspoken agreement that Vi would do what was necessary and Xander would come back or die trying. Xander turned back and continued walking down the path when he heard a rustling in the grass. He reached behind him and took out the crossbow with one hand and the fantasy dagger.

The dagger was new to Xander's weapon arsenal and it had proven handy already after that fight with the Blugrash demons. It cut through their thick hides like butter and then the true blessing of the dagger was shown as the demon blood was wiped clean without being touched. He'd gotten the dagger after saving that witch doctor type fellow in the jungles of the Congo and he was hoping he'd use the dagger to fight offer whatever was out the right now.

The rustling got louder and a figure stepped out of the bushes. Xander let fly with a bolt from the crossbow, but at the very second he turned it up and it flew over the person when he recognized who it was, "Wha, wha, what are you doing here?"

"Well, I wasn't hoping to be shot at by you, ya big dweeb. What are you looking at like that? Shut your mouth, you're gonna catch flies. Are my clothes wrinkled or something? Would you stop staring at me like that? Yes I'm here. Jeez."


"Ummm, well duh, who were you expecting?"

"I wasn't expecting you, that's for damn sure. Wow…what are you doing here? Hell, how did you know I was here?"

"Well I can tell ya it had nothing to do with hell. The other end of the spectrum…maybe, but not hell. And as to why I'm here, well I'm really not here."

"What do you mean you're not here? I can see you. I almost put a crossbow bolt through your skull…wait, you're the first aren't ya? Damn it, I knew we didn't win that war last year. Look nothing you can say is gonna matter to me, you didn't visit me last year so I know I'm not important to your plans."

"Are you done yet Lunkhead? You're right about one thing you just said. You didn't technically defeat the first evil last year, but you did enough to put it away for a while and rethink its plans. Just know it'll be back and things will have to be done differently. And that's where what you just said is completely wrong. You think that you weren't visited because you don't matter, god I know I said dumb stuff in high school, but I've gotten past it. I figured you would have by now too. You hurt me back then, but I know you're more important to this fight than almost anyone."

"What are you talking about? You for one should know that I'm just "The Zeppo."

"Oh god, are you gonna harp on that? I was in high school and you just cheated on me with the worst possible person imaginable. I knew what buttons to push and I needed to hurt you, but we both know what happened that night in the basement and just how big a zeppo you really are. And honestly, if you weren' t so important, why are you leading the African portion of the council. Why would Giles give you such an important job? Now just shut up and let me tell you what I have to."

"Wait, I need to do something first." Xander walks up to Cordy and wraps his arms around her and gives her the biggest hug he could.

"Hey, watch your hands mister. I'm not a grope toy."

"Just needed to make sure you weren't the first."

"I told you…

"I know what you said, and I trusted you enough, but I owed you that hug. I wasn't able to do it in L.A. because you were in that bed, and it was something I just needed to do."

"Understood, but don't let it happen again." Cordelia gives a lil wink and continues to speak; "Now we need to get down to business."

"I don't like the sounds of this. Another apocalypse?"

"Kind of, sorta, it's not another apocalypse…this is The Apocalypse."

"You mean, the be-all, end-all."

"Again with the kind of, sorta. The fight against evil will never be over.

We both know that. If there's good out there, there has to be the bad to balance it. But this is the one that's gonna turn men and women into heroes and push the darkness to where they're on the defensive from now on. We'll be doing the attacking and pushing the evil out. But you're not going to be doing it in Africa."

"Time to go to Cleveland."

"Wrong again…jeez. Would you let me talk? It's L.A."

"Isn't that Dead boy's territory?"

"I swear to you up there…if you don't shut up, I'm gonna beat you down with my own hands. I just got done visiting Angel and he knows what has to happen and how to get there, but when he gets there he's gonna need all the help he can. He knows that it's time to stop waiting for things to happen to him. He's gonna make things happen on his end, and it's time for you make things happen on yours. This is the big one Xand. We need to call in everyone we can.

Get Willow and her brigade out of Rio. Get Faith and the Cleveland contingency on the horn. Get Dawn and Buffy back into the fight and meet up with Giles in England at first. Do whatever you need to do to convince them that this is the real deal. They won't listen to you because they don't trust Angel right now. Hell they sent Andrew as their representative to deal with him already. You need to make this work on both ends. Get whoever else you need to. Get everyone."

"I don't wanna be beaten by you…well not yet anyway, but I need to ask this: What exactly are we going to be fighting?"

"The complete forces of a hell dimension. The Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart. The big boys of darkness Xand. I wasn't joking when I said this was The Apocalypse. So, do what you have to get the troops ready. I gotta go now."

"No, not yet Cordy. I'm not the right person for this."

Cordy places her fingers over Xander's lips and whispers in his ear, "Not only are you the right person for this, but you're the perfect person for what's to come. Look, I'm not dying, well not really…but don't tell Angel that. He needs to think I'm gone. You'll be seeing me again. Soon, I promise. Now go. Get your stuff together and go save the world."

Cordy gives Xander a peck on the lips and starts to shimmer up into the sky.

Xander watched her go and sat there for just a moment reflecting on what he'd just been told. He starts the walk back to the camp and realizes he's not sure he can do this, but he also knows he has no choice, because it's what he does and if he doesn't do it, his family wouldn't survive. Speaking of family, he sees Vi waiting by the fire. He may have only known Vi a little over a year now, but she's fought alongside him the entire time and that made her family.

"Hey Vi."

"You look like you've seen a ghost Xand. Is everything ok?"

"I'm fine, and no, everything's not ok, but we'll deal with the specifics later. We'll be leaving in the morning. Call the airport and make sure the Council's plane is ready."

"Where are we going?"

"Well, you and the rest of the girls are headed to England. Make sure you pack everything and bring it all to the council."

"No way buster…if we're leaving, you're coming with us. I'm not leaving you down here alone."

"Not to worry. I'll be meeting you in England. I just have a stop to make in Rome first."

"Xand, you're not gonna like this, but I've been keeping in touch with Dawn. Buffy's dating someone called "The Immortal." Dawn's said he's not evil, per say, but he's not exactly on the good side of the fence either."

"Ha-ha wouldn't have it any other way if I didn't have to convince Buffy of something if she wasn't dating someone who was bordering the line of good and evil. Don't worry bout me Vi. I can handle myself."

"I have no doubts about that Xand. Just wish you'd handle me sometime."

"None of that missy."

"Seriously Xand, I can tell this is bad, but how bad are we talking? Apocalypse bad, Sunnydale First Evil bad, what?"

"I know you trust me. I don't exactly know why sometimes, but I know you do. So I'm gonna be honest with ya. This is gonna be one of the two things; either the end of the world as we know it and I mean that in the worst possible way, or it's gonna be the start of something great and we're gonna be there for it. And Vi, no matter what…I will make sure you survive whatever is to come. You've been there for me this past year and that's meant the world to me. "

"Damn it Xander, with words like that you're gonna make a girl cry."

The two walk toward each other and embrace. They hug for a long moment and as they pull apart Xander kisses her forehead and wipes away a little tear from her eyes. Vi pulls back and starts shouting orders to the girls to start packing up the gear. She tells em to all be ready for a flight in the morning. She's about to say something else, when she looks back towards Xander and he gives her the nod to say it.

"Listen up slayers….starting at dawn tomorrow, we're in training. 100% non-stop. We're going to war."

Chapter 2
Midnight Fights, Dawn Decisions

After saying bye to the slayers who were on their way to England to begin preparing for the future, Xander sat in the airport waiting for his flight to Rome to be called. This time alone, the first he had in the past few months with all of the training and researching that needed doing in order for everyone to survive, finally let all his jumbled thoughts come together. There was still a great deal of shock about what happened last night, but there was way more important stuff to start focusing on.

*** First, I have to go to Rome and see Buffy again. It's been months without even speaking to her, I know I talk to Dawn, but me and the Buffster have drifted apart. I guess that's been going on for quite a while, but I was too close to notice. And it doesn't seem like the distance away from slaying has helped her judgment in men. Another borderline good/evil guy. And Vi says he calls himself 'The Immortal.' God she's gone from irony to descriptive to just plain lame. I just hope that there's enough of a connection between us still that I can get through to her this time. I know we've supposedly fought and beaten the original big bad, but this is gonna be the biggest battle we've ever faced. Hell, this may bigger than a battle, this is gonna be a war. I trust Buffy to do what's right, cause she always does, but I think I'm gonna need her to want to be apart of this, not just do it cause she has to. This isn't going to be about her duty or being the slayer; this has to beabout survival and being a warrior in her heart. And then there's Dawn. I know Dawn will always be there for me and trusts me enough to follow me into hell if I asked her, but can I do that to her? Willow, Faith, Kennedy…can I really ask them to follow me into a war that they have no part of. They're all going to think Angel has brought this upon himself and that we don't need to be there for him, but they're wrong because this is exactly what we need to do. How am I going to prove that to everyone?

God, there are so many more questions I have about what's to come. I don't even know where to start. I need to start focusing on the things that I have to do and not worry about the personal stuff right now. Whatever happens between Buffy and myself in Rome will work itself out…we always do. But this is supposed to be bigger than anything we've faced together and I have to bring everyone aboard. I have to talk to people I've never spoken to before; the people who are on the frontlines of this war in LA. And then I have to deal with the brooding master. How the hell am I supposed to talk to Angel, let alone be his partner in this? You're asking too much Cordy. I don't even know if we have the firepower to deal with something this big. ***

A voice is heard over the loudspeakers, "Flight 314 to Rome is now boarding."

*** Guess it's time for me to start along this road…314; why does that sound familiar. Damn it, I know that number; what's it from??? Aha…thank you Cordy…I know you're watching. ***

Xander boards the plane and takes out a notebook. He jots down some notes and puts it back into his bag. He knows the days ahead of him will be long and tiring, this may be his only chance for sleep so he takes it. He drifts off and the dreams he has are only known to him, but while he sleeps you can almost see the gears in his head turning and a few times you can even see a slight grin break out.

A little over 14 hours later and a connecting flight in Zurich, Xander finally touched down in Rome ready to start preparing. He left the airport and went straight to his hotel to check in and get settled. After a quick check of his email and a message left for Vi to call in and let him know she and the slayers landed safely in England, he was out the door. He made sure he had the necessary nighttime supplies as he left the hotel and began to make his way towards the address he had for Dawn and Buffy. Typical for Xander though, he made sure he found the cemetery on the way and began to cut across it when he heard a loud crash. He broke into a sprint towards the sound and in the same motion pulled out his fantasy dagger. Right as he was about to get to where he head the crash he saw a streak of blonde hair jump up and start attacking. He realized who it was and decided to stand back and see how she handled herself.

As he watched Buffy and the vampire trade blows without Buffy gaining any advantage over what seemed to be a newbie, he started to get worried. Xander was wondering just how and why Buffy seemed to have not only lost the desire to fight, but the instincts and abilities to win when he realized why. He saw a man dressed in a long, flowing black trench coat walk up behind the vampire without even being heard and quickly shove a stake through his undead heart from the back. Xander noticed that Buffy and this man began to speak and he moved closer to hear what was being said. He'd already assumed this man was the so-called 'Immortal,' but he wanted to be sure before he announced his presence. He finally got close enough to hear what was being discussed,

"What took you so long to get over here and save me? Not that I'd need saving if you let me fight my own battles."

"But my dear, dear Buffy you don't need to be out here anymore. I am 'The Immortal.' I can take care of things. You've told me how much you didn't want to be the slayer in the past and I am giving you the option of leaving this all behind. You don't need to walk in cemeteries anymore. You can walk with me in the light and leave the fighting and darkness behind. I can take you anywhere and it's not like you're needed anymore. You told me that your witch friend, Wiley…

"It's Willow, not Wiley"

…Oh yes, right, Willow. Anyway, you told me that she activated every other slayer. You're not needed on the side of light anymore. We can live anywhere you want, do anything you want. You know Dawn is getting pulled more towards England and the Watchers' Council day-by-day and she's an adult now. Let her live her life and you can live yours. With me."

"I know, I know…but it's so tough to leave all I've known for what seems like my entire life. Maybe you're right though. Maybe it's time to completely cut the slaying out of my life and just be with you."

Xander was in shock after hearing everything that was just said. Within one conversation. he realized that this 'Immortal' may have been the biggest manipulating con-artist ever and what shocked and hurt him even more was that Buffy seemed to have completely bought into it. He knew that convincing her just got a lot harder, but he was hoping he knew the right buttons to push to get her to open up and listen to him. Xander was shaking his head and began to turn around and continue the walk to see Dawn when he noticed a group of about 10 vampires and 2 nasty looking Picknel demons walk out of a crypt behind Buffy and 'The Immortal.' Without hesitation Xander loaded his dual crossbow and after aiming, quickly fired two arrows dusting the 2 lead vamps. He loaded 2 more arrows and began to run closer to where Buffy and her new beau were. Buffy and 'The Immortal' heard the whoosh of the arrow and looked over their shoulders as the two vamps dusted. They had no time to look the other way and see who fired those crossbow bolts before the battle was started. 'The Immortal' saw Buffy rush into action and began to shake his head slowly before he followed her and began fighting a vampire on his own.


Buffy quickly took down the first two vampires she faced with a flying side quick followed by a spinning back fist knocking the first one down and giving her a chance to plunge a stake into the second without warning. 'The Immortal' joined the fray going right after one of the Picknel demons. As he approached the demon, one vampire was quickly beheaded by a sword that no one had seen 'The Immortal' unsheathe. He made his way to the demon and tried a strike to its head, but the demon caught the sword easily and flung it across the cemetery. As they began to engage in hand-to-hand combat, Xander had made his way down the hill taking his Fantasy Dagger out and attacking the first vampire he came in contact with. A quick staking gave Xander the time to look over what was happening. He saw Buffy taking care of a few vampires with little trouble, but 'The Immortal' seemed to be having a bit of a tougher time with the two Picknel demons. One-on-one he seemed to be doing fine, but every time the second one got involved, 'The Immortal' found himself on the receiving end of more than a few blows. Xander finally dispatched the vamps that were gunning for him and made his way towards 'The Immortal.' He saw one about to club 'The Immortal' from behind and hit the Picknel with a running tackle. Xander quickly took the dagger and shoved it right through the demons neck and shuddered as the demon's gooey blood splattered all over. A few more thrusts into the head and neck area left the Picknel demon oozing and dead.

Xander got off the ground, wiped himself off, and began working his way back towards 'The Immortal' and the other Picknel demon. As he got closer, he could see the demon and 'Immortal' still struggling, but neither seemed to be into the fight 100% and some sort of dialogue was taking place. This peaked Xander's curiosity, but before he got any closer to hear anything, another vampire tackled him from behind. Xander deflected the majority of the blow at the last second and quickly flipped the vamp over and buried the stake deep into his undead heart. Xander rose to his feet and finally saw 'The Immortal' finish off the Picknel demon. He walked over and was offering his hand to help ' The Immortal' to his feet, but was quickly shoulder blocked hard into a nearby tombstone. When he cleared the cobwebs out of his head, he saw a right hand barreling towards his skull. He barely dodged out of the way and jumped to his feet to the side when he noticed who was trying to beat his brains in.

"Hey Buffster. Can we try and not pound me on my first night in Rome?"

"Xand…Xander, is it really you?"

"Yes it is, unless you know another one-eyed watcher stud."

'The Immortal' realized that the two know each other and makes his way over towards the duo. He slowly snakes his arm around Buffy's waist and whispers to her, "Who is this pirate chum who just saved me?"

"Excuse me, the name is Xander Harris. I'm not some pirate chum. I'm one of your *cough*girlfriend's*cough* closest friends."

"Ahhh yes, I've heard of your exploits Alexander."

"As I said, the name is Xander. And I would appreciate it if you weren't so smarmy in the way you spoke to me."

"Alex…excuse me, Xander, I mean you no disrespect, but my upbringing, even though so long ago, taught me to always address someone by their full name. It is a belittling to shorten such a proud name."

"Whoa, whoa, calm down guys. Let's keep the testosterone show to a minimum. Let me introduce ya to each other. Xander, this is my new boyfriend, 'The Immortal.' 'Immortal,' this is my oldest and closest friend, Xander Harris."

The two share a tense handshake, which seems completely normal to Buffy.

"But seriously, it's so good to see you Xand. It's been six months since I' ve seen you. You're looking pretty toned and tan. That African climate must be agreeing with ya."

"It is. But not as much as this Roman culture seems to be agreeing with you. You're looking pretty happy. Now come here and give the Xand-Man a hug."

Buffy and Xander embrace into a friendly hug. Both close their eyes for a second, but when Xander opens his, he notices 'The Immortal' giving him the biggest death glare possible. Xander, not one to back down, squeezes Buffy a lil tighter and places a kiss on the top of her head.

"Xand, what's up, really? I know you wouldn't have left your duties and slayers in Africa if something big wasn't up? So are we just gonna stand here and do the small talk all night or are you going to be straight with me?"

"Buff, you know I'm always going to be straight with you, but I really only wanna go through this once, and I want Dawn there when I do."

"Well, you're going to have to wait until the morning. Dawn's in Venice doing some work for Giles. She'll be back sometime tomorrow."

Xander notices the glares still being directed at him by 'The Immortal' and decides to err on the side of caution tonight.

"That's fine Buffy. Why don't we meet up tomorrow for dinner? I'll take the three of ya out for a nice meal, before we get to discuss the reason for my trip into Italy. I'll be busy most of the day taking care of a few things, but here's the hotel I'm staying at and my number there if you need to get in touch with me. It was a pleasure meeting you 'Immortal' and as always Buff, a delight to see your beauty up close."

"Xander, are you sure everything can wait till tomorrow?"

"Of course Buff. I'll see you guys tomorrow, and if you talk to Dawn, leave it as a surprise that I'm here."

Xander walks up to Buffy and gives her the customary European kiss on both cheeks as he catches another glare from 'The Immortal.' Xander pointedly ignores it and offers his hand to him before he leaves. 'The Immortal' takes the hand and the two stare each other in the eye before letting go. A nod is exchanged between the two before Xander walks off.

He begins his walk back to his hotel when he notices 'The Immortals' sword lying on the ground off to the side. He nonchalantly kicks it up with his feet and flings it end over end towards 'The Immortal.' It flies right past his head into a nearby tree. Xander looks over his shoulder as Buffy takes the sword out of the tree and he gives 'The Immortal' a wink.

Xander arrived back at the hotel and made his way up to the room. He unlocked the door and noticed the mess of papers laying on the bed pooled around his laptop computer that Willow insisted be part of the equipment he brought to Africa. He was hoping to go straight to bed and get a fresh start in the morning, but he knew a phone call needed to be made and now was the best time. He picked up the laptop and searched through his contacts folder and found the number he needed. His next step was to pick up the phone, dial, and pray that the conversation would go better than he hoped. On the second ring it was picked up,

"Thank you for calling Wolfram & Hart, Harmony speaking, how may I help you today?"

"Excuse me, did you say Harmony?"

"Uhhh yea, do I know you?"

"It's not important. Can I speak with Angel?"

"Who may I say is calling?"

"Alex Chase."

"You wouldn't happen to be related to the Chase's from Sunnydale. They were really good family friends. I would love…

"…No I'm not, now can I please speak to Angel, it is quite important."

"Sure, transferring you now…"

"Angel here, who am I speaking to?"

"Well, I'll give ya two guesses Dead boy and the first one won't count… Look don't say anything; Call this number when you get a secure line 01-732-555-6161."

Angel hears the click of the phone and can't believe the voice he just heard. Yesterday a visit from Cordelia and then, today, a phone call from him of all people. Knowing that something major is going on, he's on his way out of the office when Gunn cornered him with some paperwork that needed to be finished. Angel looked flustered, but knew he had to put on an act until he figured out exactly what was happening. He walked back in his office and finished the paperwork Gunn had given him before Wesley had come to discuss a few prophecies that he had come across in some texts. It was more than an hour later when he was finally able to walk out of the Wolfram & Hart offices. Another half hour to make sure he had no tail on him when he made his way back to the old offices at the Hyperion Hotel.

During the time it took Angel to get out of the prying ears and eyes of his own law firm, Xander was busy making a few phone calls. The first was to Willow to check in and see if she received word from Giles that she was needed back in England. He also asked a favor that she put a little whammy on his cell phone in order for all calls to be free of any higher or lower powers. He also made sure she put the same mystical interference on the rest of the gang's phones. After touching base with Willow, he made a few other phone calls to check in on some people he thought might come in handy and seeing if they were available for another apocalypse. By the time Xander was finished on those fronts, he was wondering what was taking Angel so long to get back to him. Xander figured he'd have time to take a quick shower, but the second he made his way into the bathroom, the cell phone starts ringing to the beat of Superman.

"One Eyed White Knight's hotline, how may I direct your call?"

"I don't have time for games, Xander, and I know you're not one for social calls, so what's the matter?"

"Shockingly, Dead Boy, I agree with ya right now. So, get any interesting visitors recently?"

"Define interesting."

"You know…tall, drop dead beautiful, could kill a man with her tongue in quite a few ways. She may have been your employee for the past few years."

"She was a lot more than an employee. She was my best friend too."

"I know what you're not telling me about her. I know the feelings went beyond friendship, and I know she's gone now. But I also know she said goodbye to you in her own way and she came to me as well. I'm not sure of the specifics and from the impression I got, that's your area to handle."

"Yea, that's why I'm a little confused as to what your end is. And why you. "

"Listen Dead Boy, I didn't ask for this, but don't you dare disrespect me anymore…

"…Whoa, calm down Xander. I didn't mean it like that. I've learned a lot in my time away from Sunnydale, even the fact that you lied the day I was sent to hell. And when I first found that out, don't think I almost wasn't back in Sunnydale to wring your neck, but I had someone show me what may have happened if you told Buffy the truth. Then I thought back to everything I know that you did to help everyone, and I realized no one ever gave you the credit you deserve. I'll admit, you're not on the top of my favorite people list, but if I'm going to put a list of people together to do what's right, you're gonna be the top of that list. That wasn't my point when I asked, 'why you.' I just don't know where you fit into the scheme of what's happening."

"Not exactly sure how to respond to what you just said Dea…Angel, but from what Cordy told me you have to handle your end exactly as your planning and my job comes in after that. The truth is Giles and Buffy don't exactly want to trust you with you taking over the stereotypical evil law office. For that matter, I wouldn't have trusted you as far as I could throw you, but you're not the only one whose opinions have changed. I still don't like you, but you' ve always been willing to be a champion. I won't ever forgive or forget the months as Angelus and I know you won't as well, but when push came to shove… You've been willing to put your neck on the line. I have to respect that. But I do trust Cordelia, and she told me that this is going to wind up being one of the big ones."

"How big?"

"Bigger than big. The biggest that either one of us has been a part of. So, here's what I was told. You do your thing; whatever's necessary. Just get your side to where it needs to be; after that, expect all the backup I can put together. I'm working on a few options to see what favors I can call in, but if everything falls through, you have my word that I will be there. I won't let Cordy's final words and wish be for nothing."

"Thanks Xander, that actually means a lot to me. You have my word that you' ll start getting the respect you deserve."

"Don't go getting all sentimental on me. I don't want you thinking we're gonna hug when we see each other. I know you're old and probably all experimental, but I don't swing that way."

"Could never go without the joke, could ya?"

"Ya know me Dead Boy."

"Yes I do Xander, and for that I thank both God and the Devil."

"Hey, you just may get to do that face-to-face, yet. I'll be in touch."

"…Wait, Xander. I wasn't sure if I should mention this, but for some reason I know trust is going to be a major factor in the next few months. Spike's back. We're not exactly sure how or why or what's happening, but I actually need him for this. I know there is no love lost between him and Sunnydale, but he's a wildcard that can be played to our advantage."


"You there, Xander?"

"Yea, just in a little bit of shock. So the bleached blunder is back. Great. You're lucky Cordy is the one who asked me to be a part of this Angel. The one stipulation is Buffy, in fact no one finds out about him until I tell them. Damn it. OK, I can figure out how to handle this. Might take some time though."

"I'll keep him in line Xander; on that, you have my word."

"Since we're being so truthful here, I need any and all information you have on someone called 'The Immortal.'"

"Why? What does he have to do with this?"

"Look, I really don't think you want the specifics on this one. Trust me."

"At some point, I do want the story, but for now I'll do what I can. I've actually met the guy once. Don't like him at all. He's got this smooth, charming thing down to a science. There's nothing real to him. But I'll see what the books of Wolfram & Hart have on him. I'll get back to you."

"Thanks, by the way, where did you find a secure line?"

"The Hyperion. Our old base of operations. Lorne put a spell on it with the Furies a while ago that makes it look vacant to anyone searching for a person. Kind of like misdirection on locator spells."

"Is that so?"

"Yea. Well, anyways, I should get back to the office before the partners realize I'm off the radar."

"Goodbye Angel. Stay alive."

"You too Xander. You too."


The next morning, Xander woke up and began a light workout in his room consisting of basic push-ups and sit-ups. He also went through a few martial arts exercises that he'd picked up here and there from a few teachers that Giles had sent to give the slayers he found in Africa a bit of basic training before moving on to England. And then there was Vi, she had been a huge benefit for him as they trained together constantly and Xander found out he had some aptitude for a few styles of martial arts, such as Kenpo and Gung Fu. He finished up his workout and took a shower before calling Buffy and setting up a time to meet later. She told him Dawn wouldn't be back for another hour or two, but getting together for dinner would be ideal. She also warned him that Andrew was in town and wanted to come to the dinner since he was and I quote, "a watcher in training." Xander laughed and told her it was ok. They hung up after deciding on the restaurant and time.

Xander went through the rest of the day making a few phone calls, setting up LA in a manner that best suited everything he thought would be needed. A few people still hadn't gotten back to him about whether or not they'd be able to help, but he had a good feeling about most of them. The one who worried him the most is the one he would be seeing in a few hours. He knew Buffy would want to help, but he also knew that she had wanted out of the apocalypse business. It was going to be a tough course to sail through and the fact that 'The Immortal' seemed to have a huge influence already only worried him more. He was hoping that Angel would get back to him as soon as possible with information on him, but there was a nagging suspicion that 'The Immortal' had a clean slate and any nefarious activities were well hidden.

Xander's last phone call was a message for Giles letting him know that he'd be in England within a few days and everything that he knew would be explained in more depth. He finished getting ready for dinner and knew that his old look was gone as he dressed in a pair of slacks and a nice shirt. He looked in the mirror and for one of the first times realized that Xander Harris had truly grown up and become more than what he once was. The upcoming dinner was sure to test his patience with both 'The Immortal' doing whatever it is he does and Andrew being the same as he was in Sunnydale's last year.

He made his way to the restaurant and was the first one there so he was shown to the table and ordered a bottle of vintage wine for the table. For a brief moment, the memory of Anya sitting across from him at a nice Italian restaurant flashed in his mind, and a smile crossed his face as he thought about her. The bottle arrived at about the same time that a loud shriek that sounded strikingly similar to his name was heard. Xander quickly got out of his seat and turned around just in time to catch the racing Dawn in his arms.

"Oh my god Xander, it's so good to see you. I've missed you so much. What are you doing in Rome? Is everything ok? Wow, you look good. Is that a new outfit? Of course it's new; I haven't seen you in like a year. I'm so happy to see you. I can't tell you much I've missed you. You have to tell me everything that's been going on in Africa. How goes the search for new slayers? Have you met anyone new?"

"Whoa there Dawnie, when did you become fluent in Willow babble. I knew you had a good handle on Latin, Greek, and Sumerian, but Willow babble is a school all upon its own. Step back and let me get a good look at ya…

…You've really grown into a beautiful woman Dawn. I'm so glad to see that Rome has agreed with ya."

Xander sees Buffy, 'The Immortal' and Andrew make their way to the table, but the look on Andrew's face seems quite different than what he expected. It' s almost a look of total fear on his face and Xander just wishes he could figure out why that look was there as Andrew hadn't looked like that since Willow 's little dark trip. Before he could mention it though, Buffy was giving him a hug that 'The Immortal' again glared at. The five of them took their seats at the table and within a minute Buffy was asking what the big news was.

"I don't want it to look like I'm putting things off Buffy, but we're here at a nice restaurant and I don't wanna ruin the mood quite yet. It's really good to see two of my favorite people in the world, and I guess you as well Andrew. And I really would like to get to know the new guy in the number one slayer's life. So, why don't we order, have a nice meal, and then we'll take care of the business stuff after dinner."

It wasn't long after dinner was finished that the expectant looks on everyone 's faces forced Xander to begin the discussion that even he wasn't sure how to handle. He figured honesty would be the best policy in the situation and being upfront with the situation.

"I know you're all wondering why I'm here and what is important enough for me to leave Africa, and I'm not gonna pull any punches or try to mislead any of ya. I had a 'visitor' at out camp in Africa a few days ago. She brought me some disturbing news about an upcoming incident that's going to be a pretty big problem."

Dawn was the first one to interrupt, but Xander figured she would with her inquisitive nature, "Who was it that visited you? Was it someone we'd trust?"

"I promise Dawnie. Everything will be explained. Just let me say as much as I can and any and all questions will be answered afterwards. Anyways, I was told we'd all be needed to confront something that was coming. It's something bigger than the Mayor, Adam, Glory, and the First. It's bigger than the biggest thing we've ever faced. More firepower and more devastating than anything we could have ever envisioned. I've already called in a few people to help us out…

Before Xander could finish his speech, he was interrupted by Buffy, "Wait a second Xander. It seems like you're leaving out a few important details before we go rushing into something so drastic. Like the whos, the whens, the wheres, the hows, and the whys. Ya know, all the important questions. And why did this person come to you, I'm the Slayer. Normally I'd get a prophetic slayer dream if anything major was going down, this time nothing. Are you sure the information you got is correct and reliable."

Xander notices 'The Immortal' start whispering to Buffy. "Buffy, let the good man talk. Remember you're not the only slayer anymore; you can listen and let them handle it. Only if it directly involves need you worry yourself with it, and only then if I can't handle it for ya."

"I'm sorry Xander, you can finish."

"Anyways, the fact of the matter is I still have a little bit of the strategically minded soldier guy from Halloween and this won't be a purely physical battle, Buff. We're going to need a lot of cooperation from a lot of different angles to make sure we live through this. Now here's where it's gonna get sticky for you guys to trust me. This isn't just an apocalypse, like the ones we've faced before; this is going to be THE APOCALYPSE. I want to repeat that, this is THE APOCALYPSE. It's going down in L.A."

"Dawn, get up we're leaving. I don't want anything to do with Los Angeles and Angel. I don't want you near him when this trip to the dark side backfires on him. We went there after Sunnydale became a huge hole in the ground and we all agreed to not have anything to do with him, until he woke up from whatever he was dreaming."

"Buffy, I really think we need to sit down and let Xander finish. He's not going to be one to want to go to L.A. and see Angel of all people. Why don't we let him finish before making any final decisions?"

"Thank you Dawn. The fact of the matter is I wouldn't have even considered this as relevant information to mine or any of our lives if it wasn't for the visitor who gave me the info. You know I've done tons of stupid shit in my life. I regret lots of things and I'd like to make up for as many of them as I can. And this is one such time. The person who came to see me, well not actually came, it was more of a cosmic thing or something. I'm not actually sure how to describe it, but it was Cordelia."

Dawn and Buffy's faces both froze in shock while Andrew just looked on in disbelief, leaving 'The Immortal' to ask the inevitable question, "Who is this Cordelia and why does her name seem to make everyone speechless?"

"Well, 'O Immortal One'…

"It's just 'The Immortal' Alexander."

"Yea, anyway…Cordelia is an old ally of ours, who wound up living a nightmare the last years of her life, as she became a mystical play toy. When we got to Los Angeles, after Sunnydale collapsed, she was in a coma and was never going to wake up again."

It was Buffy who asked the next question, "How did she wake up, find all this out, and come see you so quick. I'd have assumed we'd have heard some news of her waking up before all that time passed."

"Well she hasn't actually woken up yet, or well, at all. It was one of her last jobs and wishes before she moved on to her next mission in life. She needed to come see a few people and let them know what's coming…

It was Dawn who asked the next question, "Wait, you're saying Cordy's died. How do you know it wasn't the first then. Remember it could only visit as dead people."

Buffy was the first to respond, "Of course it wasn't The First, Dawn. We beat that down last year. We sent it back to where it came and closed the Hellmouth."

Xander knew it'd be a back and forth verbal battle if he didn't step in. " Guys, hold up. First I know it was Cordy cause she was corporeal. I touched her to make sure she was there and not the first. Secondly, Buff…there is no defeating the First. We put off its plans for a while, but it can still come back."

"What do you mean I…we didn't defeat it. We all saw the crater of Sunnydale when we were finished."

"As I said, you couldn't defeat The First. It's an image. It was incorporeal and we just silenced it for the time being. If we had beaten it, evil would not exist, the balance would be thrown off and the world would be a completely different place. I've never asked you for anything Buff, but right here, right now, I'm asking you to trust me on this.

"I'll give you the benefit for now Xander…but don't make me regret it."

"Thanks. So here's the story from what I was told, she visited Angel first and I trust her on this, he's on the up and up when it comes to Wolfram & Hart. He's been working the inside, and while it may seem like he's being corrupted, it's a necessary evil he has to undertake. Guys, I'm not sugarcoating this for you. We've got problems no matter what happens. He's taking on The Senior Partners. From what Cordy told me, they're definitely worse than The First, in that they can actually, ya know, kill us. They have minions and demons and hell spawn working everywhere and they have bodies. Not sure what they look like, but they have actual bodies to kill us with. Angel and his crew are going to have a tough enough time taking care of their end without worrying about the effects. These effects are uncontrollable once Angel takes care of his end. It's coming and we need to be there to try and save the world once again."

The four other people sitting at the table are all looking at each other in varying levels of surprise and trying to figure out exactly what to say. We see 'The Immortal' whispering to Buffy again, as Dawn seems to be weighing the options in her head. Andrew again looks like he's afraid to open his mouth. Xander is really close to asking him what the matter is when he notices who Andrew keeps giving sideways glances to. He's looking right at 'The Immortal.' Xander files this away for future reference when he again begins to speak,

"I know this is a lot for everyone to take in, and in all honesty, I wasn't expecting an answer from anyone tonight. I may have been hoping for one, but I know you have your own lives here, away from the slaying and the apocalypses, so I'll leave you guys to discuss everything. My flight to England leaves tomorrow morning, so if you have any questions, just call me. I had Willow put a magical block on all of our phones, so all calls will be private and no higher powers will be listening. I'm also leaving these here…use them if and when you decide on your plans."

Xander gets up, drops down money for the bill, and something else on the table before he walks out of the restaurant. He gets outside the door, finds a bench with a view of the front door and waits to see what happens next, and knowing the people inside like he does…he's figuring it's not long before someone explodes out the door.

Meanwhile, back inside the restaurant, everyone is still in shock and no one seems to have the courage to speak up. Well 'The Immortal' has a lot to say, but he knows right now might be the time to be quiet and let Buffy and Dawn say whatever it is on both of their minds.


Dawn was the first one to speak up, "What are we waiting for? Xander's asking for our help, why are we still sitting here?"

"Dawn, maybe our time has passed. This fight isn't ours anymore. We've always separated ourselves from Angel and Los Angeles. It was an unspoken agreement. They left us to handle things in Sunnydale; we left them alone up there."

"But they didn't always leave us alone. I know Angel came to Sunnydale a few times. There was that Thanksgiving with the Native Americans, and I know he showed up for the First, but you sent him away."

"How did you know that? I thought Spike was the only one who saw him."

"Buffy…don't take this the wrong way, but you never paid attention to details. It was so obvious based on your body language when you saw Angel. That's why I don't understand how you can sit there and not want to go help. You two have such a long history…"

"It's just that Dawn, history. I spent the majority of my life in Sunnydale worrying whether or not I'd get to see the next sunrise. I like not worrying about that anymore."

"Don't you think Xander would like to live that life too? He fought beside you the entire time you were in Sunnydale and he did because it was the right thing to do. He never asked you for anything in return. He would have liked to be shown some respect, but you always thought yourself better than him and anyone else without superpowers."

"That's not true. I just wanted Xander to be normal. He wasn't chosen for this life, he didn't have to live it. I did have to."

"That's the point Buffy; he chose to do this because he couldn't let others do it alone. And now you want him to go into this big thing without us. I can't see how you can sit back and act like you're not a part of this. He's talking about the apocalypse. Not just any apocalypse, but it seems like this is going to be the big one. How can you sit here and not wanna help? How could you be ok with letting whatever's coming have free access? You're supposed to be the best freaking slayer ever; why don't you show it?"

"I don't have to take that from you."

"You'll take anything I have to say right now."

"Miss Dawn, I know this is a discussion between sisters, but I feel I must interject myself right now. Buffy, along with myself, are building a life here in Rome. The past is exactly that, the past. There is no point dwelling on those things that have already occurred. Buffy and I are trying to grow together, and going to Los Angeles and seeing her ex would not be beneficial to that. And as Buffy's mentioned, she's served her time as the 'Chosen One.' It's time for her to be normal."

"Immortal, in all honesty; this isn't any of your business."

"Dawn, don't talk to him like that. He's just giving you our opinion. We both feel like we've done enough saving the world business. It's time for us to live our lives as normal people."

Andrew is about to open his mouth and speak when he notices 'The Immortal' glaring over the heads of the two girls and giving him the distinct impression that if he spoke, it may be the last thing he ever said. He begins to get up from the table and walk away when Buffy and Dawn notice him about to walk away. Both girls tell him to sit down before they go back to arguing with each other.

"Buffy, I'm pretty much done arguing with you about this. I'm old enough to make my own decisions and one of our closest friends is asking for help. I can't believe that you're willing to sit on your bony ass and not help out."

"Excuse me Dawn. I am still your older sister and I am still The Slayer, so you will not be going anywhere and that's final."

"First of all you aren't The Slayer anymore, there are quite a few of ya out there, so don't think that makes you oh so special. And if you really think you can tell me what to do then you have another thing coming. Just watch this."

Dawn picks up one of the plane tickets and goes storming out of the restaurant. Buffy is about to get up and follow to continue the back-and-forth exchange when 'The Immortal' grabs her arm and begins talking to her. Meanwhile, Andrew begins to feel even more uncomfortable as Buffy and 'The Immortal' start an almost silent conversation. He also grabs one of the plane tickets off the table and slinks out of the restaurant as well.

"Buffy, let her go. You can not control her, as much as you wish you could. She has Summers blood in her and we know that it can be quite stubborn. I'm just glad that you're realizing you don't have to fight every battle. That's a lesson, it seems, that Dawn will need to learn on her own. We've tried to impart our wisdom on her, but it seems that young Alexander has much influence on her."

"Yes, they've always been close. Sweetie, I have to admit that if Dawn is going to put her head on the line in this that I'm going to have to go with her. She is my sister and I love her to death. I have to be there to protect her. I'm not sure who else will be there for her."

"I understand my love, but why don't we go back to the apartment and let cooler heads prevail tonight. Remember though, that whatever Dawn does, it is her decision to make and we may just have to let her go on this one."

"I'm not sure I can do that, but you're right about tensions being very high tonight. We'll go back to our place tonight and maybe she'll be thinking clearer tomorrow. I don't know what I'd do without you 'Immortal."

"Let's hope you never have to find out."

Meanwhile sitting outside on the bench across the street from the restaurant, Xander was taking the time to reflect on the past and consider his options for the future. He was taking his time, looking up into the moon, the very large full moon, when a commotion in front of the restaurant brought Xander's attention back to the present. He saw Dawn rush out of the restaurant and look both ways before realizing she had no clue where Xander was staying and which direction to go. Xander watched her continue to get flustered and started grinning before standing up and making his way across the street. By the time he snuck up behind Dawn, Andrew had also made his way out there and was trying hard not to let Dawn in on the upcoming scare.


Dawn screamed before turning around and swinging at the person who scared her. Xander barely dodged the blow before Dawn noticed who it was who scared her half to death. She saw it was Xander and began slapping him on the chest.

"Are you trying to give me a heart attack? My stress level is high enough without you sneaking up on me."

"I noticed you came storming out of the restaurant pretty quick. I guess the conversation with your sister didn't go so well."

"That's understating the facts a little bit. She tried pulling that I'm the slayer crap and my word is law, but she doesn't realize I've made the choice to continue the good fight. She thinks that just because she wants out of the constant fearing of death that I'd want that too. I mean who'd wanna live a life without that overwhelming fear. She doesn't seem to understand that I don't want to have the choices forced upon me if the world becomes a sinkhole. That's already happened once in my life and I refuse to sit back and possibly let it happen again. I just don't understand her sometimes, she gets me so mad."

Xander notices that Dawn is getting more and more agitated and wants to cut her off before she goes too far overboard so he pulls her into a big hug.

"Shhhhh, its ok Dawn. We both know that Buffy sometimes has a hard time seeing things from other people's perspectives, but I have faith in the long run that she'll make the right choice."

"How can you be so sure? We both saw how she acted that last bit in Sunnydale. It was her way or the highway and from the little bit you've said so far, I know this whole thing won't be her way. I mean she led us into some bad situations and cost us some important things." Dawn begins to move her hand towards Xander's eye when he stops her.

"Dawn, don't. I don't blame Buffy for that and neither should you. From Buffy's first day in Sunnydale, I made the choice to live this life. Any and all risks I took were my own and I don't hold anyone 'cept the damn preacher who did it. I'll admit I've lost tons doing this, but I couldn't live any other way knowing what's out there. And by seeing the way you're holding that plane ticket, I know you've made the same decision about your life."

"I can understand that. I just wish Buffy understood that being chosen is different than choosing."

"That's why you're my favorite key."

"I'm the only key."

"Tomato, tomahtoe."

"So, what's the next step?"

"Well, I need to talk to Andrew. Here's the key to the hotel. It's the Hotel Majestic about 3 blocks in that direction. Get comfortable, check your e-mail, watch some TV, whatever you want; I'll be there in a little bit."

"Thanks, Xand. See you soon."

"Bye Dawn-Pat…Dawn."

Dawn starts walking away from the two guys when Xander turns and looks at Andrew. Andrew sees the look in Xander's eye and almost turns to stone based on it. He starts getting worried as Xander begins looking him up and down.

"So, Andrew, you think you're ready for another apocalypse. We both know how well you handled the first one you were apart of. I'm never going to forget that you were the last person to see Anya and I have no idea how she lived her final moments."

"Xander, I'm sorry. An…"

"Don't say her name. I said I'll never forget that, but I also know that some things are bigger than my own personal feelings. This is one of those times. I'm never going to be willing to trust you completely, but I know that you 're trying and I know that Giles has given you some responsibilities within the Council. I have an assignment for ya. I can see that you want to leave Rome and come with myself and Dawn to fight what's ahead, but I have an important mission that only someone like yourself could handle."

"Really? You mean it. You have something specific for me to do? Not just be there and do whatever I can."

"Yes, Andrew. This mission is directly suited to your talents."

"What is it? What do you want me to do Xander? I'd do anything for you and the Council. I'm willing to die for my redemption you know."

"I don't think it's going to come to that, but here's what I need you to do: Stay in Rome and keep an eye on Buffy. I could tell that you get a bad vibe off 'The Immortal.' I get that myself and I need someone around her just to make sure he's not another in her bad choices. But remember, I want you to keep an eye on her…not him. Be yourself, don't let you get noticed and stay out of 'The Immortal's vision. Can you do that for me, Andrew?"

"I want to do what I can, Xander…but, well, he scares me, a lot. He's so suave and charming, but it's all so fake. And I don't like remembering the evil things I did in the past, but well, we researched almost everything we could get our hands on and he was never mentioned anywhere. Someone who's lived as long as he has, there has to be some paper trail somewhere, but he's all invisible man like. That spooks me."

"Don't worry Andrew. That's why I'm asking you to keep an eye on Buffy. I know she's with him a lot, but I'm not expecting you to follow them or anything like that. Just keep your eyes and ears open for anything suspicious or troublesome. I'm just going to be a phone call away if you need anything."

"You got it Xander. I'll be Robin to your Batman."

"That's right Andrew. You'll be my trusty sidekick. Good luck."

"You too Xander."

Xander starts to walk towards the hotel when Andrew says one more thing.

"When you get to L.A., say hi to Spike for me."

Xander stops and quickly turns back to Andrew. "You know Spike is alive?"

"Yea…Ummm, when I went to Los Angeles to help Giles with that messed up slayer, I saw him."

"You haven't told Buffy or anyone, have you?"

"No, of course not. He asked me not to and I gave him my word. Just like I' m giving you my word on this mission."

"Good, make sure you keep your word to both of us then. Buffy has enough on her plate without mentioning he's still alive."

'I know. That's what he said too."

"Great. Now I'm thinking like Spike. I need a drink. I'll see you later Andrew."

"Bye Xander."

Xander walks back to the hotel and makes his way up to his room. He opens the door and sees Dawn lounged out on his bed wearing just a t-shirt and a pair of his boxers. He does a double take as he realizes just how much that she's not a little girl anymore. He quickly has to shake that thought of his head.

***She may not be a little girl anymore, but she's always going to be like your little sister. Get your mind out of the gutter Xand. Think with the head on the shoulders. ***

"Hey Dawn. Looks like you made yourself comfortable here. Is there anything good on the tube?"

"Nope, and I'm hurt that you're more worried about what's on the TV than my choice in clothes."

"Well, you see, the thing is…"

"I love seeing you get all flustered when you realize I've grown up. I'm just playing with you anyway. My crush on you has been over for a while. We have too much a history of knocking each other out for us to work. But just so you know if I wanted you…I could have you."

"I don't doubt that at all Dawn. I have a weakness for beautiful brunettes as it is. Hell, that's what got me into the mess we're currently in. Damn you Dawn and the rest of you with the bodies and the voices and the whole nine. "

"You're so funny when you get like this. By the way, which brunette did you mean?"

"Cordelia. What other brunette is there?"

"You know, the one you spend 24 hours a day with, 7 days a week in Africa."

"I know nothing of which you speak of. Isn't it time for you to go to bed yet?"

"You know you can't hold out on me forever. Maybe I'll just ask her when we get to England. Speaking of England is Andrew coming and when do we leave?"

"Andrew's not going to be joining us just yet. I gave him a few things to do here in London before that time and since I know Buffy won't be joining us at the present time, I do believe we will be leaving in the morning. With regards to you other topic; Firstly, I have no idea who you'd consider asking when you get there and secondly, she's not there right now anyway. I sent her to Cleveland to pick Faith and Wood up."

"Ha-ha, I knew it."

"You know nothing, now go to bed. We have a flight at 8 am."

"Awww Xander, why so early? A girl needs her beauty sleep."

"You don't need anymore beauty Dawn. You're already at the top of the charts."

Dawn walks over to the couch where Xander is setting up the bed to sleep and waits for him to finish so she can go to sleep.

"What are you doing Dawn? Go sleep in the bed. You know I won't let you sleep on a couch."

Dawn reaches up and gives Xander a huge hug and a soft kiss on the cheek.

"I love ya Xand. Ya know that right?"

"Yea, I know and you know I love you too. Now go to sleep."

"Night Xand. And just so you know, that nameless girl, she's very lucky."

"Blah blah blah, I can't hear you."

The two wind up falling asleep within minutes of laying down for what turns out to be one of their better nights of sleep since Sunnydale became a sinkhole. You could almost see that the closeness they share because of their past makes being in the same room as comforting as they could get living the life they do.

Chapter 3
Ye Olde Country and The New Hellmouth

The next morning saw Xander awake an hour before he wanted and/or needed to be up. He knew sleep would be hard to come by in the upcoming days and weeks, but since he was up he took the opportunity for a quick shower and brief morning exercise before beginning the disaster that would be waking up Dawn. Before he started he took a moment to look at Dawn sleeping and in that brief minute, Xander found within himself the ability to undertake that which is expected of him. He knew, just by looking at Dawn sleeping, and what she represented exactly what he was fighting for. He's fighting for the future of so many and this time he would make sure no mistakes were made and no unseen consequences were left. He took that moment to reflect and as soon as he was done, he made the attempt to wake up Dawn.

"Wakey wake Dawn. It's time to go."

"Leave me 'lone. It's sleepy time."

"Dawn, we have to get going. Our flight leaves in a little while."

"I'm comfy. Leave me 'lone."

"OK. You can stay. I'll send Andrew over with the Star Wars box set to keep you company until we can get ya another flight to London."

"I'm up, I'm up. Don't say mean things like that."

"I'll make it up to ya. Xander's famous breakfast is ready for you to eat. Hurry before I eat it all."

"No fair. You're like a vacuum."

Thirty-five minutes later Xander dragged a barely awake Dawn through the airport and onto the flight that would have them landing at Heathrow at 10 am. He had talked to Giles at the Council last night and let them know the flight information, but he wasn't sure who would be meeting them at the airport. Xander was quite bored as he sat and let Dawn sleep and what was bugging him even more was the fact that the person he had become closest to in the past year wouldn't be in London. He trusted her to take care of something he didn't have the time for, but he still wished she'd have been there when he got there just to toss ideas off of. It had nothing to do with anything Dawn tried insinuating last night.

The flight finally landed and Xander tried waking Dawn up again, but this time she was much more agreeable to it. They walked off the flight and exchanged small talk while waiting for Xander's' bags. Dawn's belongings would be along in a day or two, well, the first opportunity that Andrew had away from Buffy to send them without her noticing. Xander and Dawn both figured it would take a few days before Buffy even noticed they had left town and it saddened them both. They both knew that Buffy was having a tough time weighing the options between staying in Rome and going to help and both unfortunately knew that with 'The Immortal' around, it would take something drastic for Buffy to make that final step. They equally hoped it'd be sooner rather than later. The picked up the bags and made their way outside when they noticed a man holding up a sign that said Harris. They walked over and found out he was sent by Giles since The Council had been working nonstop since receiving all of the information that Xander had provided. They made their way to the car and began the long drive to the Council's new Headquarters.

However, both Xander and Dawn were unaware that someone else was in that airport waiting for their arrival. The person, unseen by those he was watching began to speak into the phone he was carrying,

"They have arrived. Begin interception procedures."

Once he was finished speaking, he closed the phone and with a shimmer of black lights vanished into thin air.

Meanwhile in Cleveland…

Inside a dark, dirty room we see someone chained to the wall. The door to the room opens and a slightly older man walks into the room with a tray of food. A light shines on the girl and we can see numerous cuts and bruises lining her face. Her right arm seems awfully limp too as though it's dislocated or worse and we still see little drops of blood slowly trickle out of her mouth indicated that there is still internal bleeding.

"Rise and shine little slayer. Your breakfast is here. We don't need you shriveling up or anything like that since we have no idea how long you'll be staying."

"Get the hell away from me old man or I will kick your ass."

"Such a naughty lil mouth on you. We're gonna have to make sure you don't speak again for a while. And it's too bad you couldn't kick my ass last night or you wouldn't be here now. But instead I kidnapped you and after forcing Faith and Wood fighting for their lives, didn't I?"

"You know as well as I do that no simple minions could have taken them down. They'll be coming and you'll be dead before nightfall."

"My dear Victoria; I expect nothing less from them. In fact, I have a beautiful trap for them planned already."

"The name is Vi and Faith won't be stupid enough to fall into any traps you set."

"How little you know of the real world? Of course Faith will fall for the trap because we all know how important you are to the side of light. "

"What do you want me for; I'm just one of many slayers. There are quite a few more important people on the side of light that you're talking about."

"You're more than just one of many and one day soon you shall realize that. Wait, on second thought, no you won't because you'll be dead soon and the darkness will have it much easier to expand on this world. But I've had enough fun playing the typical bad guy who gives away too much information to be used against him."

"So, you're telling me there's no chance of getting your name?"

"Since you won't have the chance to tell anyone that matters, the name is…

Rayne, Ethan Rayne."


Rayne walks out of the room and leaves the door open and we see three female vamps come in. They hear Rayne's last warning to make sure she stays alive, but they can have fun beating on her for a while. As they start pounding Vi with punches and kicks, she rather quickly blacks out and begins remembering the events of the previous night.

Begin Flashback

Vi walked out of the airport and got a chill from the night air in Cleveland. There was a bad feeling here that she couldn't shake, but she knew what her goal was and she wouldn't let Xander down. She looked at the address in her hand and tried hailing a taxi to get there. She gave the driver the address and sat back to relax during the drive over there. During the drive, she tried making a phone call to Xander, but she couldn't get through so she only left a message.

Vi arrived at the house a bit later than she expected and the sun had been down for a while. She was just hoping that Faith and Wood were still home. She walked to the door and rang the bell. After a few minutes she slammed her bag down when there was no answer. Vi took a moment to consider where they may have been when she began to feel a pull towards something. It was a feeling she couldn't describe, but one she knew she had to listen to. As she continued on her journey the pull got stronger and stronger and she no control over where she was going until she arrived at the gates of the Shady Oak Cemetery. She paused for just a second when she heard a yell from the other side of the cemetery. Vi broke out into a full speed run trying to make up the distance. She made it to the sounds and saw Faith, Wood, a couple of the young slayers locked in a fierce battle.

The group was handling themselves quite well and quickly diminishing the numbers or the vampires that were attacking them, but unseen by both Faith's group and Vi who was getting closer to joining the battle and finishing the group off was a man approaching Vi from behind. With all her attention focused on joining Faith and finishing off the vamps she was facing she was totally unaware of the man who began chanting behind her very softly. Seconds before Vi was to enter the fray she was pulled backwards by an unknown force right into the hands of the man.

"Well look what we have here. It's a slayer with no power. What ever will I do with you? I must thank the lords below for this wonderful surprise."

With a loud yell of retreat to the vampires currently fighting Faith and Wood and the slayers, the vampires started to fall back. Faith finally noticed someone else in the cemetery and at the same time she noticed that Vi was there and being held by the same man. She didn't hesitate for a second before running towards them, but by the time she reached where she saw the man, there was a giant cloud of smoke and the man, Vi, and all the vampires had disappeared.

"Son of a bitch."

"What the hell is going on Faith? Who was that and why is Vi here?"

"I don't know Wood. I'm gonna get on the horn to the council. Something is going on if Vi is here and not with Boy toy in Africa. And something was real weird about tonight. It's like the vamps were just fighting a holding pattern; long enough for Vi to get here.

Slayers, fall back to my house. We're gonna regroup and get Vi back tomorrow. "

Another billow of smoke appears as we see the man enter a room with Vi and the vampires in a deserted building. The man begins to speak to the remaining vampires; a group of five beautiful women.

"Do what you wish to her, but keep her alive and barely conscious. You're the Sisterhood of Berchta; I have utmost faith in your abilities to torture to the brink of death."

"Of course my lord."

The man walks out of the room and within seconds begins to hear the screams from inside. He enjoys it for a brief moment before uttering a spell that dampens the sounds coming from the room. As he takes a chair and sits outside the room, a devious grin comes to his face.

"This is such a pleasant night for torture. Guess it's time I make that phone call."

End Flashback

We're back in Rome as Buffy and 'The Immortal' walks down the street towards an apartment building. They're holding hands and acting like the typical couple in love.

"I have to thank you for keeping me cool last night and making sure I didn' t go after Dawn with how angry I was."

"Well, my Lady Elizabeth, it is my privilege to make sure you stay happy and I know what the relationship with your sister means to your happiness. We' ll work things out and everything will be ok by tonight. You'll see."

"I hope you're right, but we said some awfully mean things last night. And some of what she said does make sense. If there's a fight out there, I should be there. If I'm not and something happens, how will I ever live with myself?"

"I understand Buffy, but you must understand that the details of this are flimsy at best and I may not know young Alexander well, but he doesn't seem like he'd be the guiding factor in a fight of Armageddon."

"No you don't know him and sometimes I don't think I know him all that well. He's always been there and there's something about him that just fits this fight. I don't doubt him, but he shocked me so much last night with everything he said that I just jumped off the handle."

"Ah, I see my beautiful. Well, let's wake Dawn up and try and work things out."

The two walk into the apartment and see Andrew sitting in front of the TV eating a bowl of cereal.

"Oh hey guys. If I knew you'd be here, I'd have made breakfast. Would you guys like me to make something; maybe some pancakes, or French toast, or eggs, or well anything?"

'The Immortal' looks like he's trying not to glare too much at Andrew, but its Buffy who speaks up, "Nah, that's ok Andrew. I'm just gonna go in and wake Dawn up and try to talk things through about last night."

"About that…"

"Be quiet Andrew. Dawn, wake up. It's Buffy. We need to talk about last night. I know you're probably mad at me, but I'm sorry for how I reacted last night. It was a heat of the moment thing. Come on Dawn, wake up."

Buffy knocks on the door once more and begins to open it.

"Buffy, I'm not sure…"

"Shut up Andrew."

Buffy enters the room and sees the bed hasn't been slept in.

"What the hell? Where is she? Andrew, what's going on?"

"That's what I was trying to say Buffy; she never came home last night."

"And you didn't call me. She could be out dying or something. I know we're not on a Hellmouth, but there are still bad things out there. She could be anywhere. How could you be so stupid?"

Andrew starts to cower back, but continues to speak. "Well I kind of know where she is."

"What the hell are you waiting for? Tell me where she is."

"Well there's good news and bad news Buffy."

"Oh hell. What's the good news first?"

"She stayed with Xander at the hotel last night."

"Oh thank god. I was so worried something had happened to her. What hotel are they at? I'll go over and try talking to them this morning."

"That's the bad news Buffy. They left this morning. They went back to England already. They figured you had made your decision already."

"I'm going to kill him. I'm gonna find him and beat him to death. I swear to god. I can't believe they left without telling me."

"Well they kind of told you last night."

'The Immortal' finally interrupts, "Get out Andrew. Now."

Andrew doesn't hesitate leaving the apartment.

"Buffy, calm down."

"Don't tell me to calm down. He kidnapped my sister and brought her to England. He's forcing my hand to get involved. I hate being pushed to do something and now he's making me go and do this. He better pray I don't kill him as soon as I see him."

"Buffy, sit down and we'll figure out how to handle this. Let me get you a drink to calm you down. Maybe some tea or something."

"Fine. Whatever."

'The Immortal' walks into the kitchen and prepares the drink for Buffy. He walks back out and hands it to her. "Here ya go. Drink up."

Buffy takes the drink and gulps it down. She doesn't even seem to notice that it was a hot drink as her rage is still boiling. "I can't believe he did this."

'The Immortal' takes Buffy's hands and looks into her eyes as he begins to speak.

"Buffy, you need to calm down. You can not control everything anymore. You' ve done all you can for the people around you. It's time they learn their own lessons and fight their own battles. You can't be there to save them all the time. And if they do fail, we'll be here to pick up the pieces. You have to trust me on this one."

"You're right 'Immortal.' And I do trust you completely. If you think we should sit back and wait, I totally agree. Dawn will be back on her own when she realizes that she needs me more than I need her."

'The Immortal' takes Buffy's hand and walks her toward the door and back out to enjoy the day almost seemingly forgetting about the issues with Dawn and Xander.

Speaking of Dawn and Xander, they were sitting in the back seat of the car that picked them up discussing some of the training programs they'd undergone in their respective countries. Xander began describing in detail some of the martial arts he had been learning and Dawn could see in his eyes that Xander was finally losing that doubt in his abilities on the physical level. Both were so engrossed in their conversations that they didn't notice they had been driving far longer than they should have. The sun had set about an hour ago and two cars began to quickly make their way from behind. Xander finally noticed the high beams on the two cars and that they were no where near where they should have been.

"Dawn, does anything seem weird?"

"Besides the fact that we've been traveling for an extra 4 hours. We should have been there at 6 and it's already 10. I'm kind of worried now that you mention it."

"Excuse me. Mr. Driver Sir. Are you lost? We should have been to the Council hours ago."

"No, not lost Mr. Harris. Just on a detour."

The driver slows down the car and quickly turns and fires a tranquilizer into Dawn's leg.

"I had other plans Mr. Harris."

"What the hell did you do to her?"

Xander tries to scramble up to the front seat when the gun is pointed directly at him.

"That wouldn't be a smart idea. I could shoot you before you get here and that would Dawn all alone and defenseless back there. And a man of my moral stature could do just about anything to her."

"You piece of shit."

"Watch yourself. I may have been told to keep you both alive, but I don't always listen to orders. Speaking of which, it seems as if my associates have arrived."

The two back doors open and Xander is roughly dragged from the car and the only thing keeping him from going off the edge is knowing that he'd have no chance to save Dawn if he did. The two men who have him force him back to one of the two waiting cars and quickly throw him and Dawn into the back seat.

"Oh yay. My kitten has come home to play."

Xander looks up…"Oh god Drusilla…"

Chapter 4
Rescue and Recovery

The scene fades in to a flurry of activity as we see a number of girls running up and down the hallways with a big sense of urgency. Some are carrying boxes and a few more have duffel bags over their shoulder, but we focus in on one blonde who is knocking on a large door.

"Come in."

"Hello Mr. Giles. I just wanted to let you know that we've set up the guest quarters for the incoming parties. Both parties should be arriving within a few hours. Everyone is so excited. We've heard many stories of the Sunnydale crew that it's going to be a real treat to finally meet them in person."

Once Giles hears that, he clears his throat and raises his eyebrow at the Slayer standing in front of him.

"Oh I'm sorry Mr. Giles. I just meant that it'd be nice to meet someone who can relate better to the younger crowd we have. Not that you're old or anything. You're just older than like everyone here. I think I'm just going to shut up now."

"I believe that would be best, Aurora. Make sure you're on time for your training classes with Lucas and Jonah."

"Do I have to? They're both so British. Don't you need help with anything; some organizing or researching or anything?"

"May I remind you, that not only have you already called me old, but I am British as well."

"Well yea, but you're not stuffy. You're like Americanized."

"Get out and come back in an hour, I may have something that needs doing."

"Thank you Mr. Giles."

Aurora walks out of the office and just barely hears Giles mumbling under his breathe.

"Bloody Americans."

She laughs a little as she walks back down the hall towards the gym to begin her shortened lessen with two of the watchers working at the council.

Meanwhile in Giles' Office

Its a few hours later and we see Aurora sitting on the floor going through some old books as Giles is going through some paperwork. He has a really stressful look on his face and we don't know if it's because of the papers or another reason.

"Aurora, do you happen to have the time?"

"Its 10 minutes after the last time you asked; making it 8:30. Why are you so concerned about the time?"

"Don't worry about it."

All of a sudden there's a loud commotion out in the hallway and just as Giles and Aurora are about to stand, the door bursts open and all we see are floating suitcases towering over the person standing behind them.

"Can I get a lil help here?"

"What the bloody hell?"

Giles gets up and walks around his desk and begins taking the suitcases down from the top of the pile and we begin to see red hair appear. Giles finally moves all the suitcases to the side just in time to pretty much be tackled by Willow rushing to hug him.

"Oh my god, Giles, it's so good to see you. Can you believe Kennedy brought so many suitcases? We were gonna go straight to our room and get rid of our luggage, but I couldn't wait to see you. I just forgot that I had cast the little spell on the suitcases to kind of follow me. It was working fine until I got here and got all excited with seeing you and Xander and Buffy and Dawn. So, where is everyone…I know something big is going down…just don't tell me the world is ending again. I just signed up for the 'Wicca of the Month' club. They send you all these new spells and herbs each month. I'm so excited and Kennedy's been learning…"

Kennedy doesn't want Willow to spill the secret so she interrupts, "Quiet Willow. I wanna use that to surprise Buffy or Faith next time we spar. They'll never see it coming."

"Oh, that's right baby. I'm sorry. I'm just so excited and I can't hold anything in. So where is Xander?"

Giles seems to be trying to decipher exactly what it is that Willow was saying, but he's just standing there looking at her like she was speaking one of the few demon languages he doesn't have a complete understanding of. Aurora walks up to him and taps him on the shoulder.

"She said hi and it's good to see you."

"Ahhh yes, now I understand."

Willow gets a frowny face and looks at Giles, "Don't play like that. I know you understand me after all the years we spent together."

"Of course Willow. It is a pleasure to see you again. You and Kennedy are looking quite well. I'm glad to see to see that you're both keeping up with the trainers I've sent from the council."

"At first I was a little tentative about the hand-to-hand stuff, but I've been getting the hang of it recently. It's actually been really useful when it comes to my magic as well. It helps me focus more and keep everything concentrated. I'm actually disappointed we didn't get the training back when everyone was in Sunnydale. It would have helped with the 7 years of fighting we did."

"That is one of my biggest regrets Willow. You, Xander, Oz, Cordelia and even Dawn later all should have bee trained from the moment I knew none of you would leave the fighting willingly."

"It's ok Giles. But where are Xander and Dawn? I can't wait to see them. Are they in their rooms already or somewhere else?"

"I don't know how to say this Willow…

"That's never a good start Giles. What is going on? Where are Xander and Buffy and Dawn? I know he was picking them up in Rome yesterday and meeting us here today."

"Well there's one thing I do know and one I don't. I spoke to Xander this morning and I do know where Buffy is.

"Well where is she?"

"She stayed in Rome. Supposedly Dawn and her had a very large falling out last night once Xander showed up and gave them the full details of everything that's going on."

"Wait…let me see if I understand this. Xander showed up in Rome; explained that something serious was going on; Dawn, of course trusted Xander, but Buffy stayed in Rome?"

"That seems to be the case."

"Can I curse her please? Just a little one, please? She…she…oh…"

"I agree with you Willow. Buffy seems to be making a mistake by staying in Rome, but it's a decision that she has the right to make and one we have no control over."

"I guess you're right, but it doesn't mean I have to like it or even like her right now. I left Rio de Janeiro because Xander asked me over the phone. I figure she'd…oh nevermind. I guess that Xander and Dawn are still in Rome trying to convince her to change her mind then."

"From the short talk with Xander I had, changing her mind seemed as likely as Americans getting real music taste. So, no they aren't staying in Rome."

"So where are they?"

"That is what I do not know Willow. They should have been here around two hours ago. I've called the airlines and tried to find them, but I've had no luck yet. I even tried a locator spell, but that showed they were on the 3rd Astral Plane, so I know something went wrong there. I'm just hoping that the driver I sent to pick them up arrives back soon so I could kick his wanker ass for not having the decency to call if there was a delay."

"What do you mean you don't know where they are? We have to find them. If this is big enough for Xander to call all Scoobies, then the bad guys must know something and would have tried to intercept Xander. You have tons of slayers here. What are we waiting for? Get everyone armed and we'll go find him."

"You do realize how large England is? And hypothetically speaking, if someone did take Xander and Dawn and they were at the airport, they could be have been taken anywhere by now. I'm as worried as you are, but right now we have to trust that Xander is going to be able to handle whatever situation it is well enough to get a message to someone or find a way to free Dawn and/or himself."

"I can't just sit around here and do nothing now."

Just as Giles is about to respond the phone in his office starts ringing. He asks Willow for one moment to just take care of the call before they continue their discussion as to what to do next. This gives Kennedy the opportunity to walk up to Willow and try to calm her down. She whispers a few things to her and Willow visibly begins to relax her breathing, but you can see the worry and tension in her eyes. She slowly starts calming down when she hears Giles yelling into the phone.

"What the bloody hell do you mean kidnapped? How the hell could this happen? "

Willow walks towards Giles and begins asking, "Is that about Xander? Who kidnapped him? What do they want?"

"Willow, please be quiet. No it isn't about Xander, but it is quite important."

"Are you saying that Xander isn't important?"

"Of course not, but I do believe an attack on Faith and Wood last night that led to Vi being kidnapped is also of importance since it was Xander who sent her."

"Oh this is not of the good. I'll go figure something out. Be right back."

Willow quickly grabs Kennedy and Aurora along with one of her bags and asks to be taken outside. Giles quickly makes a decision to call Willow back because he knows she's a little too flustered to be trying the spell he thinks she plans on.

"Willow, just give me five minutes on the phone with Faith before we make any decisions. I promise you we will get Xander back before morning and we'll figure out the Cleveland situation. Aurora, show them to their room and the three of you, be back here in five minutes."

"Rupes, are ya there? Girl's getting a little impatient with ya."

"I'm back Faith. Now explain what happened as best ya can."

"Well Robin and I were doing out nightly patrol with a few of the slayers you have stationed here. By the way, could you send some a little less wild next time? They all remind me of me and that ain't fun to take care of. In fact, I had to have Wood tend to a few of them because they're all quite reckless. I have no idea how you handled it."

"The story Faith; sometime tonight."

"Chill Rupes. I know we're in a hairy situation, but I just need info on these bitches we were fighting last night. And when I say bitches, I mean that literally. It was a group of light blue women giving us the most trouble. Five of the hottest, nastiest babes I've ever seen. They seemed to have some control over the vampires we were fighting. I'm not sure if they were vamps themselves, but they were wicked cold the few times we were able to get a punch in on them."

"That sounds a little familiar, but I have to check out a few books. Was there anything other distinguishing features besides the skin color or anything else at all you can tell me about how they kidnapped Vi."

"What was she doing here anyway?"

"We'll get to that a little later Faith. Right now, what's important is getting her back and taking care of whoever has her."

"Fine. But here's the thing; the babes seemed to just be a distraction for us. They were just holding us off because there was some guy hiding behind the scenes that got Vi from behind. She must have thought we were having trouble with the way the babes were getting their shots in the few times they approached."

"Did you get a look at the guy at all?"

"Very little. He was wearing a hat. Was damn ugly from what I could see. Looked a little older than you, but had the same stuffy look you used to. Oh and he did this vanishing in a giant cloud of smoke thing with the blue babes."

"A cloud of smoke, you say?"


"It couldn't be."

"Couldn't be what, Rupes? Don't hold out on me?"

"Just a nagging feeling I have. Try and capture the man when you rescue Vi. If it's what I'm afraid of, I'd love to have a word with him. I will get back to you later with the information on the blue women once we find something. Be careful and stay alive."

"Of course Rupes, but I didn't know you cared."

"Good-bye Faith."

"Bye Rupes."

As Faith and Giles hang up the scene fades to…

Sitting in the backseat of the car with Drusilla, Xander is holding Dawn in his arms. He's staring at Dru, praying she doesn't make any sudden moves on him, because he knows he's in a tough position until Dawn comes to. He realizes the car has started moving and Dru has her doll to her head.

"Hello kitten. I didn't mean to scare you and I really didn't expect you to have this great glowing girl with you. My isn't she pretty. She'd be perfect to fit in my new family, but the stars are telling me no. Bad stars."

"Drusilla, while I'm a big fan of being kidnapped by nutcases who want to kill me…Oh wait, no I'm not; can we stop the mental babbling and get to the point of why you kidnapped us."

"The big nasties told me they'd kill Miss Edith if I didn't listen to them, but the stars told me that I shouldn't listen. They sang that my dark kitten who gave me the butterflies would tell me the right thing to do and become my new plaything."

"I wish I had one clue what the hell was coming out of your mouth. I don't care who sings to you or what your doll says. Let's get to the point where you tell me that we're going to die and I do something to waste time and then someone comes to rescue Dawn and myself and we'll be done for the day."

"Oh, my poor baby. No one is coming for you; the voices have told me we have all night. And I don't plan on hurting you. You're my kitten; I couldn't hurt you…well unless you asked me to. And your little glowing friend is too powerful for even me to play with."

"What the hell are you talking about? You psycho. Can you try and speak with somewhat of a normal voice?"

"My kitten is getting mad. Does he wanna spank me til Tuesday?"

"Oh god, please help me."

"Miss Edith doesn't wanna make you mad. We're afraid of making those nasty partners mad at us, but we couldn't do what they wanted, even if they said they'd give my Spike back to me like he was. All of the voices tell me bad things will come if my kitten dies and I can't have that."

"Wait, I think I understood some of that. You're saying that the Senior Partners offered you Spike without a soul if you got rid of me?"

"He sees the way we do Miss Edith. I told you he wasn't dumb."

"Great now I'm being insulted by dolls. Anyway, can we get to a point?"

"I wish we could spend more time together kitten, but our time is over."


Xander sees Drusilla climb towards the front seat and whisper into the driver 's ear. Xander begins to hold Dawn tighter and she begins to awaken as the car slows down and pulls over. Once the car comes to a full stop, Dru turns around and looks right at Xander and blows a kiss to him. Xander shivers a little because of the look Dru is giving him and he's trying to keep Dawn from screaming when she wakes up, so he's whispering that everything is gonna be ok. Dru turns back to the driver and in one of the quickest movements Xander has ever seen, she snaps the driver's neck like a twig.

Xander jumps back in his seat because of the shock at seeing this just as Dawn completely wakes up to see Dru climb into the front seat and drag the driver out of the car. Xander is still trying to catch his breathe when Dawn starts talking. He doesn't hear her at first, so she pulls his arm as she asks.

"Was that who I think it was?"

"Yea, it was."

"Did she just help us or something?"

"I'm not sure Dawn. I'm just not sure what's going on anymore."

Xander tells Dawn to stay in the back as he gets out of the car to walk to the front and drive them both to the council. As he gets out of the car, he's very cautious looking around making sure that Drusilla was trusted enough by the Partners not to have a tail on her. He makes his way to the driver side door and is about to get in when he feels a tap on his shoulder. Xander almost jumps over the car because of the surprise, but he turns around already knowing who was there.

"I couldn't leave my kitten without one of these."

Dru leans like she's about to kiss Xander and he's standing there in complete paralysis, but she leans off to the side and whispers in his ear.

"Light against dark; Good against evil; both sides have much to lose but decisions need to be made. A sacrifice may be needed to balance the scale. Some are more than what they seem, and some are less, but trust in the stars and they will lead you the right way."

Xander seems to have a shellshock look on his face and is about to ask what she means when he feels a bite on his ear and sees Dru wipe a lil blood off her lip.

"I'm sorry kitten. I needed to have me a lil taste of sweet. I'm gonna go eat the nasty, ugly driver now. Buh-bye."

Xander is still standing in shock as Dru walks off into the moonlight. She seems to be humming and singing about nights of fire and terror. He shakes it off and gets back into the car. He looks into the back seat and sees Dawn trying to fight off the effects of the tranquilizer she was shot with and doing her best to stay awake, but he just tells her to rest and everything will be fine when they get to the council. She nods her head and quickly falls back asleep.


The End