Erika Says Yes

Author: Alan P <alan.p[at]>

Summary: Xander is given a mission. Missions, rather.

Crossover: Uh... elements liberally stolen from D&D.

Disclaimer: BtVS belongs to JW, not me. D&D stuff belongs to the WotC, not me.

Feedback: Nothings says "I like this" like saying to the author "I like this."


Chapter 1

Xander yawned as he wandered home. Buff was still of the strengthless from that Chrysanthemum thing, relegated to Xander-ish levels of helplessness. Giles had said that it would only be temporary, though.

He slowed his steps as he heard someone cough in the shadows. His hand went into a pocket where he had a cross stashed.

"Who's there?," he asked.

The woman (definitely a woman!) stepped out of the shadows into the pool of light under the streetlight. She was about six foot tall, and was clad in white. What Xander noticed before all that was her large, feathery white wings. Her beauty entranced Xander, as a faint halo seemed to his eye to appear around her.

"What... what can I do for ya?," Xander asked, trying desperately to appear cool. "Uh, I assume that, uh, you're an... angel?"

The woman smiled softly. "Yes. I've been sent by the Powers that Be -- we have a special job that can only be done by you."

"Me?," Xander asked, dumbfounded. "But... I'm just Xander. I'm not a Slayer,  or a hacker, or a witch or anything..."

"And I'm just Erika," the angel shrugged. Xander pulled his loose shirt down over his jeans as he noticed the female Angel's breasts shift as she shrugged. "But everyone is important in God's eyes."

"I'll do anything you want," Xander said slowly. For some reason, he found it hard to think in the angel's presence.

She smiled again. "We need you to collect specimens from the demons that the Slayer dispatches for us. The demons have begun to evolve, and we need to study their changes."

"They have?," Xander asked. "That's... that's bad, right?"

"It is," Erika nodded. "But we need to keep our research secret, so that the demons don't know that we're onto them. And that's where you come in."

Xander began nodding as well. "Because I'm overlooked and all stealthy, right? I'm totally stealth-boy if you want me to be!"

"I knew you'd be perfect," Erika said. "However, your memories of that dark Halloween have begun to fade, have they not?"

Xander looked uncomfortable at this. "Uh... maybe kinda yeah."

"Come here," Erika beckoned. "Look deep into my eyes..."


Xander began to stir. He stopped, as he heard something fall to the floor from his bed with a clunk.

"What the...," he muttered, finding that he was only lying on top of the bed, rather than in it. He bent over to pick up whatever had fallen, to find a large, two litre plastic container filled with a greenish viscous liquid. There was a sizeable airgap at the top.

Now he remembered. It was to store the demon parts and make sure that they didn't melt like they usually did.

"Oh, yeah," Xander said. A huge, dopey grin grew on his face. "Bond, Xander Bond, licensed to do jobs for hot Angels."

"Alessandro!," a voice called out. Oh. It was a school day. "Get up! Time for breakfast!"

He pulled on his shoes, then wandered out to the kitchen. Before noon, his mother was quite nice as it was too early to start drinking. A compulsion began to beat at his mind that was not entirely his. The Soldier, as he termed that set of memories from Halloween a year ago.

"I'm just going for a run, Mum," Xander said, grabbing a piece of toast. "I'll be right back!"


"Hey, Xander," Willow greeted him as they met at the school gates. "You look like you're in a good mood."

"It's just such a good day," Xander improvised. He couldn't tell Willow -- he wouldn't be able to live with himself if the Big Bads learnt about Heavean's plan to learn more about their weaknesses. While he was sure that Willow wouldn't voluntarily tell, he didn't want her to be snatched by any goon on a fact-finding mission.

"Hi, Xander," Buffy called out. "You look different today, for some reason."

"I went for a jog this morning," Xander mis-directed. "Gonna try and get in shape, that kinda thing."

"Oh!," Willow exclaimed. "Can I join you?"

"I dunno," Xander said, frowning. He gestured at his legs. "Your legs must be at least this long to go on the ride."

"HEY!," Willow yelled, hitting him with her school bag.

"Ow! OW!! I surrender!," Xander cried, holding his arms over his head. "You can join in! I give!"

"That's more like it, mister," Willow said smugly.

"Do I get paid for doing free training?," Xander asked.

"I'll pay you... one can of coke a day?," Willow offered.

"A can of coke and a Twinkie," Xander returned.

"A can of coke and two lollipops."


"You know, Willow, if you'd asked I'd have let you come with me for free," Buffy observed. "Us girls gotta stick together."

Xander waved his arms in the air in a panic. "No takebacks! We made a deal!"


That evening found a somewhat bruised Xander sneaking into a cave holding three dead demons.

"Right, hearts, hearts, who's got the hearts?," he muttered, pulling a large machete out of his backpack.

He settled down to his grisly task, slicing open the demonic corpse in search of that organ.

"This is so gross," he muttered. "Worse than Biology."

He got out a hammer, breaking the demon's ribcage.

"Oh well, less fiddly than frogs," he continued muttering. "Oh... yuck. What is this green stuff? Ewwww... okay, this must be the heart."

He wiped his hands on a piece of rag, then opened the green liquid filled container. He dropped the heart in, and small air bubbles floated to the top of the liquid.

"One down, two to go," he said. "I have GOT to speak to that Erika angel about some kinda perk for doing this, Heaven or no heaven."


Chapter 2

Xander looked around the underground cavern somewhat nervously. A large stone cross was sunken into the ground, and a pool of water lay on the outskirts of the small cave. And in the center... the Hellmouth.

"I do not like this," Xander muttered. "With all the Masterly vibes around here... SO not liking this."

"But who would expect you to be meeting an Angel here?," a female voice asked him.

He spun to find Erika standing in a pool of shadows. He pointed his maglight at her, only for her to wince.

"Sorry, sorry, not in the eyes," Xander apologised, lowering the light.

"I wasn't hurt," she reassured him. "No harm done. Did you succeed in your mission?"

Xander nodded, grinning widely. He pulled out the plastic container holding three demon hearts. "Right here. Uh, the rest of the bodies dissolved, though."

"That's alright," Erika said. "We can find out everything we need from the heart and the blood it contains. You've done well, Alexander."

"Thanks," Xander replied, flattered. He then remembered something. "It was extremely gross getting those things, by the way. And I don't get why you don't just get the demon bits yourself, no offense intended."

"None taken," Erika shrugged. "Trying to conquer Earth and enslave humanity is a lot like capturing a butterfly -- if the demons use too much force, then they'll destroy exactly what they want to win. If our side uses too much force, then their side will use too much force out of fear that we'll win."

"Sooo... mutually assured destruction, then?," Xander asked.

"Pretty much, I'm afraid," Erika nodded. Xander was surprisingly perceptive, for a mortal. She produced another container out of thin air, this one containing that viscous green liquid but nothing else. "Here is something to use to hold the next batch, Alexander."

"Call me Xander," he said, putting the 'empty' container in his bag carefully. "Any handy tips for me?"

Erika opened her mouth, then paused. This boy---no, budding man had promise. She wanted him for her side. "I... may have something."

"Coolness," Xander said cheerfully. "What is it?"

The Angel produced a glass of water, and plucked a feather from one of her wings. She put the pure white item into the water, needing to curl it around to make it fit completely.

"How do you do that thing where you pull stuff out of nothing?," Xander asked.

"A good magician never reveals her secrets," Erika smiled secretively. She waved a hand over the glass, murmuring words that Xander couldn't understand. A flash of white light then destroyed Xander's vision.

He tried not to panic, or react violently. His 'Soldier' memories screamed at him that he was in danger, and to move. If it had given off a loud bang as well as the flash, he probably would have been moving to react.

Eventually, his vision cleared to show Erika proffering a glass of translucent white liquid.

"Drink this," Erika said.

Xander took the glass, deciding to chug it all at once rather than sip at it. He had faith that the Angel would never hurt him -- wings, halo and white, c'mon. From what he could taste, it tasted vaguely of liquorice.

"It won't perform a miracle overnight," Erika said, "but in regular doses you'll find yourself healing faster, performing better, and thinking more clearly."

"I won't glow in the dark or sprout wings, will I?," Xander asked.

Erika smiled mysteriously.

"Well, I'd better get gone," Xander said. "I've got work out and school tomorrow morning. Er... when should I come here again?"

"The Slayer will meet with a formidable foe come nightfall," Erika said. "You should be extra careful."

"Run and hide, then do cleanup afterwards," Xander nodded. He saluted her. "Later, mon capitan!"

"Don't call me that," Erika said, trailing to a halt as Xander left via the sewer entrance.

After a minute or so, a huge figure about twelve feet tall shimmered into visibility. It was covered in red scales, and large batwings were wrapped around it. A faint sensation of heat could be felt around it.

"You want him," the figure said simply.

"He has... potential," Erika said. "I want him. Bringing him to us will be a feat worthy of me."

"This is true," the figure nodded. Erika handed him the container with the hearts in it. "Well done. You do know that what you try has a terrible failure rate?"

Erika glared at the stone cross. "I won't fail!"

The figure snorted, begining to fade as it teleported. "See that you don't -- we still need the boy."


Willow yawned, looking around. The sun had yet to kiss the landscape, and yet Xander was here already?!

"It's too early," she complained.

"Yet here you are, clad in running clothes, all ready," Xander pointed out.

"What... what about vampires?," Willow pointed out.

"That's why God made crosses," Xander said, producing three.

Willow shoved them back in his pocket violently. "Put those back! If my Dad sees those..."

"Okay, let's go," Xander said.


At lunch time, Xander sat thinking about his late night meeting with his heavenly sponsor.

"Man... she sure was hot," Xander mused out loud. He then realised that her status (and thus moral code) meant that he had about no chance of getting anywhere with her. "In a way, it's kinda a shame..."

"What's a shame?," Willow asked, sitting down by him with two cans of Coca Cola. She handed one to Xander.

"Just thinking about Vamp Victim Number One Thousand and One," Xander improvised. "Nicola Ryan."

Willow shuddered. Nicola had been killed a few nights ago, and was due to rise tonight. "Yeah... she was in the book club, ya know."

"No way," Xander blinked. "But she was ho--uh, that is..."

Willow frowned. "Go on..."

"I've completely forgotten what I was going to say," Xander blandly lied.

"Riiiiight," Willow said.


Chapter 3

Oz looked up as he heard someone sit at his table, to find that Xander had joined him. He raised an eyebrow to express his curiousity.

"Is Willow following me?," Xander asked.

He shook his head.

"Phew... she's kinda ticked at me at the moment," Xander explained.

"Bummer," Oz observed.

"But... It's just that it's buggin' me, this 'cool' thing," Xander said, changing the subject entirely. His expression was now thoughtful. "I mean, what is it? How do you get it? Who doesn't have it? And who decides who doesn't have it? What is the essence of cool?"

"Not sure," Oz said, reaching for a chip.

"I mean, you yourself, Oz, are considered more or less cool," Xander said, trying another tack. "Why is that?"

"Am I?," Oz asked.

"Is it about the talking?," Xander frowned, drinking from his can of coke. "You know, the way you tend to express yourself in short, noncommittal phrases?"

"Could be," Oz said, frowning thoughtfully as well, now.

"You're in a band," Xander muses. "El King Cool ala Elvis ala Louis Armstrong ala Michael Jackson."

Both guys paused to consider this.

Xander shuddered. "Ah, definitely not MJ."

"Definitely," Oz nodded. It was the first absolute (rather than maybe) that Xander had heard from him.

"Is it hard to play the guitar?," Xander asked.

"Not the way I play it," Oz shrugged. It was true -- playing the bass guitar involved plucking it rather than playing chords.

"I need a thing, something that no one else has," Xander said.

"Demons?," Oz asked.

Xander brightened up. "That's it! Thanks, Oz, you're a lifesaver."

The bass player looked puzzled as Xander left, then shrugged and returned to his plate of chips. He didn't know why you needed a degree to be a counsellor - all you had to do was prompt them, and people came up with their own solutions.


Xander wandered into the Library, bored. Not bored enough to do his homework, mind.

"Hey, G-man, what's up?," Xander said.

Giles looked up from an ancient tome, scowling. "I am extraordinarily busy, Xander, so please make it quick."

"You know how birds, fishes, other living breathing things evolve?," Xander asked. "Do demons and vampires evolve too?"

The Watcher's expression cleared, as he considered Xander's question. "Quite possibly... it's even possible that they help it along with magical experimentation, much like our genetic engineering. Although, given their somewhat fractured society structure, I don't know whether vampires would evolve."

"So one day, it'd be like Buff tries to nail a demon through the heart only to find that that demon evolved it's heart to the other side of it's chest?," Xander theorised.

"Er, quite possibly," Giles blinked.

"So, what's the apocalypse du jour?," Xander asked, pulling a chocolate and banana Chupa Chup from his pocket. "Wanta lollipop?"

"No, thanks," Giles said. "Er, if you want, you could go get some donuts for the research session after school."

"Aw, man, but I'm bored now, G-man" Xander whined.

"Don't call me that. I believe you have homework to complete?," Giles asked.

"Whoops, look at the time," Xander improvised. "Time for... study. Yeah. Out in the sunshine."

"Have fun," Giles smirked.


"Xander, you shouldn't be here," Buffy scolded, as he sneaked between the tombstones. She was strolling along carefree in the open. "You should be... fray adjacent."

"Or hiding like the coward I am," Xander returned cheerfully. "Which I am. Hiding, that is."

The Slayer's head shot up as she felt the presence of a large demon. "Shit. Here comes Bigfoot."

The demon was at least eight feet tall, and was covered in grey hair. Buffy kicked it, only driving it back half a foot. The stake did nothing.

She looked up at it. "Uh... can I come back later? All I've got right now is stakes..."

"Here, Buff!," Xander called out, tossing her a long knife.

"AlRIGHT!," she cheered, leaping at the demon.

"Gooo Buff!," Xander cheered. "Oh crap... oh crap... hey, don't come this way! Go that way! Stupid demon! AAAAAAAH!"

Buffy started climbing up the demon's back, hanging onto it's matted fur coat as it chased after Xander. "Slow down! I can't get a good shot at it moving about like this!"

"I would, but then I'd be Xander-shish kebabs," Xander returned, still running for his life. "Hurry up and kill it already!"

"Stupid demon! I have HAD it with you!," Buffy roared, managing to finally jam the knife into the demon's skull, and thus brain. It promptly collapsed, just short of Xander's feet.

"Nice timing, Buffs!," Xander applauded. "Very nice."

"God, I ruined a nail!," Buffy ranted.

"You go on ahead while I catch my breath," Xander said, waving her on.

"Are you sure?," Buffy asked.

Xander pulled out four crosses and a bottle of holy water. "All set. Go on."

He watched as the Slayer left, whistling happily at having killed something. Xander then looked down at the demon corpse.

"Okay, pal, you and me got a date with an angel."


Chapter 4

Erika stretched, her wings spreading as her back made popping noises.

"I should return the parts to you at the home dimension, then?," she asked the figure just in front of her.

"Yes," the figure nodded. It held up a very plain looking softcover book. It looked tiny in the twelve foot tall figure's large hand. "I must check how the preparations go, and distribute copies of this... FM 3-0 manual."

"Eff Em Three Oh?," Erika asked, eyebrow raised.

"Operations, it's called," the figure smiled. It's fangs jutted out of it's mouth as it smiled.

"He's coming," Erika said, head turning to face the entrance to the cave. "You should go."

The figure nodded, teleporting out with a faint pop.

"Hi," Xander called out. "Xander Express, got a package here for the Heavenlies."

"Alexander," Erika smiled. For some reason, she had begun to feel... a form of pleasure when the male was around. She had never felt that form of pleasure before, and wanted to explore the sensation. "How good to see you again."

"Most definitely likewise," Xander said, eyes drifting to her bikini. "Going to the beach?"

"My superiors have given me some time off to spend on Earth," Erika shrugged. "And it is almost dawn."

"Well, I've got a present for you," Xander said, pulling out a two litre container. "I only had room for this one heart. A real big brother of Bigfoot, brrr. If I wasn't there with my trusty knife, Buffy would be an ex-Buffy right now."

"Excellent," Erika said, observing the flesh in the green preservative. "It's time for another dose, by the way."

"Cool," Xander said. "That stuff works well -- I wasn't concussed nearly as long last night as I am normally. Uh, did I say I was concussed? I meant... uh..."

Erika merely smiled, producing a glass of water. She curled a feather from her wings into it, then waved her hand over the glass. A brilliant flash of light blinded Xander, and when his vision cleared Erika was offering a glass containing a translucent white liquid to him.

"Here," Erika said. "After three more doses, we'll need to change it."

"Change it?," Xander asked, downing the glass. It still tasted of liquorice. "I brought some other stuff for you this time, see?"

Erika grinned for once as Xander produced a packet of Twinkies from his bag. "What are they?"

"They don't have Twinkies in Heaven?," Xander asked, a mock frown on his face. "It must not be quite as heavenly as the rumours make out! This is the standard Scooby method of eating Twinkies. Only after doing this can you be considered a full member of the Scooby Gang."

Erika blinked as Xander managed to fit an entire Twinkie into his mouth and eat it in one gulp. "How... I didn't know that mortals could do that!"

Xander beamed at her. "Here, now it's your turn."

For some reason, the unknown form of pleasure was increasing in Erika's heart. Perhaps it was connected to Xander, in some way? She took the piece of food from him, and tried to eat it the same way. After downing it, she had a case of the hickups.

"Er, oops," Xander said. "Uh, I've got a bottle of Pepsi here somewhere."

It was comical to Xander, as every time the Angel hickuped, her wings shook. He handed her the one and a half litre bottle of Pepsi, and Erika quickly took a small drink from it.

"Ah... that's better," Erika said. "Although I don't understand how I'm part of your... Scooby Gang when I can't show myself to the Slayer."

"Why not?," Xander frowned.

"Want to come with me to the beach?," Erika asked.

"Sure, if you hide the wings," Xander said, putting the Twinkies and Pepsi back in his bag. "And why can't you speak to the Slayer?"

"What do you know about the Slayer's origins?," Erika asked. She waved her hands, and her wings became invisible.

"Er, demons ruled the world, the Slayer kicked them out," Xander said.

Erika rolled her eyes. "Please. One girl, armed with sticks? No... she was never more than a holding action. The first Slayer was empowered with a captive demon's essence. Every Slayer since has been filled with that essence, which is why we cannot fully trust her with the Heavenlies' secrets."

"Ah, ixnay on the emonday untinghay around the ayerslay," Xander nodded. He stretched as they got out into the open. "Ahhhh... sunlight!"


Erika lay back on the sand, feeling the sun beat down on her.

"Xander, can you rub some lotion on me?," she asked, rolling onto her front.

"Sure," Xander said, hurrying over. "I love weekends."

"Do you ever think that the means justify the ends?," Erika asked, mind seemingly wandering.

"You mean like the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, or one?," Xander replied.

"Mmmmmmm," Erika said, at both Xander's actions and words.

"I don't know," Xander said. "I mean, sometimes you don't have any other choice, like with the Punisher, for example."

"The Punisher?," Erika asked.

"No comic books either?," Xander asked. "Man, I have got to talk to the Big Guy if I ever get into Heaven. The Punisher is a comic book series about a guy who punishes the bad guys by destroying their profits, then killing them."

"Ah, a warrior," Erika said, eyes beginning to close. "Ah, yesss... right there..."

"And then you've got your Professor Xaviers," Xander continued, starting to lotion Erika's lower back. "Pacifists, like Ghandi. Although both of them are doing good for most people, they're going about it completely different ways."

"So, using force and violence to achieve your ends is okay, then?," Erika summed up.

"I guess you could say that," Xander shrugged. "Hey, I'm going to go for a swim, want to join me?"

"Maybe in a few minutes."

Erika smiled as she watched the man run into the surf. On the edge of being a white knight, yet still pliable... yes, she was lucky she had found him when she did.


Chapter 5

She got back to find Xander lying on the beach, drinking Pepsi contentedly.

"Rough day at the office?," Xander asked, half joking.

"I just had to clear a few things," Erika shrugged. She smirked as she noticed Xander's eyes following her moving chest for a moment. "Here's an empty container, by the way."

"Cool," Xander said, taking the two litre container and stashing it in his bag. "Sure is a nice day."

"Care to finish what you started?," Erika asked, laying on her back on the towel.

"Finish what I... exactly what are you implying?," Xander asked. "That I had my way with your unconscious body while it wasn't here?"

She closed her eyes, hands behind her head as she took in the sun. "It's too nice to move... you've done my back, time for my front."

Xander paused. "Eep."

After a moment longer, he added, "If anyone asks, it was your idea."

Erika smiled as Xander began applying lotion. "You should be able to do mild versions of what I am able to do, now."

"Because of the feather drink stuff?," Xander asked.

"Mmmmmm.... yes... your strength will increase over time," Erika said, relaxing. "The easiest ability is the Tongues ability -- I can understand any spoken language, and can make anyone understand me. You'll probably have to concentrate hard and wait, until you've had the next three doses."

"So... I'm probably going to get a rude shock next time I'm at the fish and chip shop," Xander nodded. A chinese immigrant family ran Sunnydale's most successful fish and chip shop, also selling Chinese food.

"Another ability, and the most useful, is charm," Erika said. "Here, I'll take this off so you can do that area."

Xander sat back on his heels for a moment. "Ah... you do know about public indecency laws, right?"

"I trust you," Erika laughed. As Xander continued, so did she. "If I charm someone, they will do anything I ask. Anything, even kill their family or kill themself. You can only suggest things, at the moment."

"Heavy," Xander said. He paused a moment, putting on a shirt and pulling the bottom of it over his swimming togs. "I'm lucky that you're such a nice person, then."

"I'll admit to having used it to unlock your soldier memories," Erika said. An evil grin grew on her face as her eyes opened a crack and spotted Xander's... arousal. "Enjoying yourself?"

"No! Uh... that is, you're a very well put together person, and uh...," Xander began, only stopping as Erika put a finger across his lips.

Why did that strange, unknown pleasure increase as she touched him? She momentarily considered killing him and finding another patsy, but found the thought almost physically painful.

Xander paused again, as the woman beneath his fingers tensed. "What's up?"

"Someone has just raised the dead," Erika murmured. "Something is not going aright."

"Okay, so we'll stop him," Xander shrugged. "Does this go under 'collect icky body parts'?"

"No... we only need study the ritual to see any changes," Erika said. There was no power in zombie parts. "There should be more of that new variety of female demons... the Sisterhood of Jhe."

"Uh, kinda need a Slayer to take down demons," Xander said.

"That's one of the nice things about demons, they find it hard to think with no brain," Erika smirked evilly. "Soldierboy, we're going to move into the twentieth century."

Xander thought a moment. "Shotguns, then?"


"So, this is the place?," Xander asked. He and Erika were in front of an old house.

"Yes," Erika nodded. She was dressed in a tight tshirt and a pair of jeans. "The necromancer and his zombie is inside."

"I hate zombies," Xander muttered. "Stupid Evil Dead nightmares."

"Ready?," Erika asked.

"Ready as I'll ever get," Xander said, and kicked down the door.


The whole thing had been kinda anticlimatic, in Xander's opinion.

He'd taken off the zombie's head with one shot, had spun and pointed the shotgun at the necromancer, and had then paused.

"Hang on," Xander said. "Wasn't that... Jack O'Toole? Resident psycho?"

"Why'd you kill my grandson?," the old man whined. "He didn't hurt you none."

"He was already dead," Erika said, stepping over the corpse. "We laid his soul to rest. And we can't permit you to raise the dead."

"We can't kill him," Xander protested. "Do that charm thingy."

Erika smirked as she stepped closed to the old man.


"Are you sure you can't be around Buff?," Xander asked as they left the old house.

"How would we explain why she feels strange around me?," Erika asked. "I've explained why to you."

"Well... can't we say it's like an Angel deal?," Xander asked, thinking.

"I don't follow," Erika said, puzzled. Yes, Xander thought she was an Angel, but she didn't see where he was going with this...

"Angel is a vampire with a soul that Buff has a crush on," Xander explained. "We'll say it's something like that."

"Ah, ratboy," Erika said, a smile on her face.

"Ratboy?," Xander asked.

"Didn't he tell you?," Erika asked. "He's famous in some circles, lived on rat blood for eighty years after he got his soul back. Shouldn't she have dusted Angelus, then?"

"Nah, 'He's got a soul now,'" Xander said, saying the last part in falsetto. His voice then reverted. "She'd probably think that we look sweet together."

"It's worth a try," Erika shrugged. If it went bad, she'd work her way from there.


Chapter 6

Xander walked through the Library doors, not bothering to knock. Erika was trailing behind him.

"God, Xander, kindly knock," Giles said, standing up from where he, Buffy, and Willow were doing research.

"You have to knock now?," Xander asked, confused. "Anyway. I just thought I'd introduce a new friend of mine -- Erika. Guys, this is Erika. Erika, this is G-man, Buffy, and Willow."

"Uh, we're kinda busy," Willow said. "But, uh, not busy enough tooo... need more help! Yes! So... why don't you go enjoy yourself out in the sun?"

"If you say so," Xander said, still confused. "Must be a slow day in the world of cross referencing and dissectioning."

"Hold on," Buffy called out as the two turned to leave. She got to her feet, picking up a stake. "Your new girlfriend is giving me the wiggins for some reason."

"Chill, it's just Erika," Xander said defensively. "I don't go threatening Ratboy, do I?"

"Ratboy?," Willow asked.

"Deadboy," Xander cheerfully returned.

"I'm of celestial origins," Erika spoke up. "I'm on a brief vacation at the moment."

Buffy paused. "Well, it isn't like any wiggins I've felt before, so maybe..."

"Buffy, down," Xander said, frowning. "I've seen her wings and everything."

"Oh, well in that case it's my pleasure to make your acquaintance," Giles said, bowing in Erika's direction for a moment while he cleaned his glasses.

"Anyone up for donuts?," Xander offered. "Nope? Oh well."


"How... mundane," Erika said.

"Yeah, that's big bads for you," Xander said. "Weeks of research and a few frantic hours. Say... I've got an idea."

"Is it a good idea?," Erika asked.

"Depends on your version of good," Xander smiled. "Wanna prank Deadboy with me?"



"First, the thick, tarry stuff," Xander said, kneeling on Angel's doorstep. "Hand me the black container."

"Why are we using different types of slippery stuff?," Erika asked.

"So, when he cleans it off, he only does the first layer," Xander grinned evilly. "This bottom stuff is water insoluble, and sticks like nobody's business. I learnt about it from my Uncle Rory. Now, since that layer is done, we lay down some soap."

Erika wordlessly handed him the liquid soap, and Xander mixed in some food colouring to make it the same colour as the concrete the doorstep was made of. He squirted it on, then smoothed it over.

"There," Xander said. "We just wait after sundown with camera, and voila!"


Erika stifled a laugh as she and Xander ran for it down an alleyway, Kodak in hand.

"Oh, that was a good one," Xander said. "Did you see his face?"

"Oh yeah," Erika nodded. "Time to go find those bitches trying to move in, by the way."

"Those Jessy demons?," Xander asked.

"Jhe, yes," Erika nodded. "Did you bring your shotgun?"

"Yep," Xander said, pulling it out of his bag and checking it. "Fully loaded and ready for some decapitations. Also, note the big-ass knife with which to extract hearts."

"Don't look now, but there's a half dozen of them coming now," Erika warned him.

"Uh, shouldn't you be getting out a weapon of some kind?," Xander asked.

"Watch and learn, apprentice," Erika smirked evilly. "Watch and learn."

Xander racked the slide of the shotgun, waiting for the demon-bitches to get closer. Erika looked calmly at the charging demonesses, then spoke.


Xander whistled as all six stopped like they had cement overshoes. "Niiice. Charm, I take it?"

Erika nodded.

"Why couldn't I meet you sooner?," Xander asked plaintively.

He killed the lead demon-bitch calmly, then racked the shotgun and started killing the rest.

"This is kinda pathetic," Xander observed. "Normally, it's like Superman on crack trying to kill vamps and demons, but with this lot it's like shooting fish in a barrel."

"You have no problems with killing them then?," Erika asked.

"Not really," Xander shrugged. "Planet Earth got no use for skanky Hellmouth opening Jhe sluts."

"True," Erika smiled.

"Although... you can't really call them sluts, when I bet they can't get any with faces like those," Xander mused. "Time for the old slice 'n' dice."

He then settled down to the grisly affair of de-hearting the corpses. Erika held the open container for Xander to put the hearts into, so he could complete it quicker.

"Well, that was un-fun," Xander said, wiping his hands clean on a spare rag. "Almost as un-fun as watching Buff and Deadboy smooch."

Erika screwed the lid on the container, then put it away in that unseen pocket she possessed. It was obvious that her jeans and tshirt were not concealing the container.

"Say, where do you store stuff, anyway?," Xander asked, curious.

"I have a subspace pocket," Erika explained. "Given training, anyone can get one."

"Nifty," Xander nodded. "So... any place in particular you wanna go?"

"Well, before we do anything else," Erika said, revealing her wings (and destroying her shirt in the process, which now barely hung on), "it's time for another dose."


"Yes. Two, this time," Erika said. She plucked two feathers from her large white wings, placing them into a glass of water that she summoned.

Xander patiently waited through the now-familiar brilliant white flash of light. It tasted stronger this time, bearing a strong resemblance to black sambuca liqueur.

"Should my shoulder-blades be slightly itchy?," Xander asked, scratching under his backpack.

"That's a good sign," Erika smirked. "Let's see... two more doses... then you'll be ready."

"Ready?," Xander asked. "Ready for what?"

"The next stage," Erika evaded. "What else?"

"But I wanna know nooooow," Xander pleaded, bringing up the dreaded Puppy Dog Eyes that even Willow fell before.

Erika felt her resolve faltering. She wanted to just hug him, and reassure him, and...

"It's a surprise," she compromised, drawing him into a hug. "Just trust me on this."

Xander returned the hug, feeling her body press against his. "Okay. Don't... don't go, after your vacay is over?"


Chapter 7

"I can't promise that," Erika said. "Have job, must travel."

"Well... does your holiday extend as far as Graduation?," Xander asked. "Because I can totally do the travel thing after I'm outta the hellhole above the Hellmouth."

"I'm... not sure," Erika said. She paused, inclining her head slightly. "I think I hear something down there."

Xander followed her as she pulled her wings back into her body, somehow. "Uh, you do realise that your shirt is a bare memory after you pulled out those feathery things?"

"My breasts are covered," Erika dismissed the thought. "There... looks like the second Slayer."

"I thought we got those Jhe demons," Xander said plaintively. He pulled out his shotgun, calmly loading six shells into it to replace the six shells he'd used to kill the previous demons.

"There are more than six, Xander," Erika said reprovingly. "I can't Charm them this time, with a Slayer around."

"Gotcha," Xander nodded. He racked the slide on the shotgun, then calmly walked up to the Hell-bitch and tapped it on the shoulder.

"Excuse me, but would you like to make a donation to the Cancer Society?," Xander asked.

Both Faith and the demon gave him an incredulous look.

Xander tucked the muzzle of the gun under the demon's chin, and pulled the trigger. "I guess not."

"X! Wicked, wicked great timing," Faith said. "You're not bad with that thing."

"Thanks," Xander said, flattered. "I did have the drop on it, though."

"Who's your girlfriend?," Faith asked, catching sight of Erika.

"Erika, this is Faith the Vampire Slayer. Faith the Vampire Slayer, this is Erika."

"Nice to meet you, Faith the Vampire Slayer," Erika said, lips curving slightly.

"These days I go by Faith, you know?," the dark haired Slayer demurred. "Uh... X, you know your honey is a super-nat of some kind?"

"She's cool," Xander said, draping an arm around Erika's shoulders. "She's on the side of the Angels. Literally, in this case."

"I can't claim that we're as white as we're painted, though," Erika shrugged.

"Five by five," Faith said. "Hey, we'd better head on over to the Library."

"What for?," Xander asked, puzzled. "I don't think that the G-man, Ratboy, and the Buffster have even heard of these demon chicks."

"They've been booking them hard-out all day," Faith said, confused. "Didn't you know?"

"Someone must've forgotten to let me know," Xander shrugged, face light hearted. "You head on over to the Watcher's Domain, and I'll scout around for more of these things."

"Cool," Faith said. "Later!"

Xander frowned as the Slayer left. "Why didn't they tell me?"

"Fear, love, it could be anything," Erika said.

"I mean, I'm key guy when it comes to stuff," Xander continued. "The Judge, that was me. I came up with the plan. The Master... well, Buffy'd be pushing up daisies if I hadn't been around. I don't get it."

"Maybe she's afraid you'll get hurt, maybe she's afraid you'll supercede her, maybe she wants to impose her dream of normality on someone, who knows?," Erika shrugged.

"My life, my choice," Xander groused.

"Well, let's go find more demons," Erika said. "It isn't as if they'll kill themselves."

"Now that would be too convenient," Xander pointed out.

"You can Charm the next group," Erika decided. "It'll be good practice for you, although you've already begun."

"I have?," Xander asked.

"Remember introducing me?," Erika asked. "In both cases the Slayers backed down because you asked them to."

"Now that has uses," Xander grinned. "And not only in the perverted photographs department."


The next day after school in the Library found Buffy dressing down Xander, incensed.

"Xander!," the short blonde yelled. "Why did you go out last night?!"

"Because I felt like it?," Xander hazarded. This was not the right answer.

"You could have been hurt!," Willow said.

"I had Mister Boomstick to protect me," Xander pointed out.

"You're just a normal person," Buffy said.

"Can't we just agree to disagree?," Xander asked, foreseeing many hours of argueing if he didn't act quickly.

"Sure," Willow said, cutting off Buffy. "Hey, Buffy, did you see that Cordelia's grown an inch?"

"No way," Buffy complained. "It's no fair being short!"

"You won't be short forever, Buffy," Xander consoled her. "And even if you are, you can move to Middle Earth and lord it over the Dwarves. Now they are short."


"I've gone up a bra size," Willow continued, ignoring the flare-up of hostilities and desperately looking for another topic.

"Don't want to hear!," Xander complained. "Although... I've grown in the last week, too."

Willow looked at him. "Yep, you've gotten another good few inches of height this week... must be a growth spurt."

"That ain't the only place I've grown," Xander said.

"Oh?," Willow asked.

Xander blushed slightly. "Please, don't ask any more about it."

"What?," Willow asked, puzzled.

Buffy whispered something in her ear, and Willow's face went bright red.

"Oh! Oh... say, have you done Mrs Kerbopple's homework at all?," she asked, changing the subject entirely.

"Uh... would it be a mortal sin to say no?," Xander asked carefully.


"Hi," a soft voice called out from the back shelves.

"Angel!," Buffy replied, delighted.

"Ratboy!," Xander grinned widely.

"Hey, Xander, you wouldn't know anything about some greased steps, would you?," the vampire asked him.

"Who, me, nooooooo," Xander said with a patently false expression.

"What's with the 'Ratboy'?," Willow asked. "Because I can fully understand Deadboy, but Ratboy?"

"I happened to hear from a little bird," Xander began, "that Mister Liam Angelus, while in the first eighty years of soul-having-ness, lived on rats."

"Ewwww," Buffy said, predictably.

"And yes, you kissed him!," Xander continued. "Better scrub your teeth to wash away any rat-breath, Buff!"

"That wasn't nice, Xander," Willow said.

"Quickly, Angel! We must be off to Stately Angel Manor, and down to the RatCave! The people of Sunnydale need the aid of... RATMAN! *musical sting* "

"Do. Not. Push. Me. Boy Blunder," Angel ground out.

"Yes, Xander, we have more pressing matters to attend to," Giles said, emerging from his office with book and teacup in hand.

"Giles, Xander was making fun of Angel," Buffy whined.

"Yes, well done Xander," Giles said dismissively. "Now, I've read in the Codex that..."


Chapter 8

"Slayage tonight," Buffy announced. "Yay. Right when I was gonna go Bronzing."

"Can I help?," Xander asked. "I can bring Mister Boomstick with me."

"No," Buffy said. "I'm fine."

"You sure?," Xander asked plaintively.

"Positive," the blonde frowned.

"What about you, Wills?," Xander asked. "Busy tonight?"

"Uh, yes," Willow said, seizing the excuse. "Homework, and... uh... not going out. Nope. I'm staying in, and not going out and... staying in my house. Doing homework."

"Fun central, California," Xander said gloomily. "That's us."

"It could be worse," Buffy joked. "We could be on top of a Hellmouth."

Xander looked up as Oz approached, throwing Willow a bundle of letters. The 'wolf then sat down on the same couch as Xander, opening the first of his letters.

"Willow, what are these?," Xander asked, picking one up.

"They're early admission packets," Willow said proudly.

"Harvard... Yale... Wesleyan," Xander listed off, flicking through the pile. "Some German Polytechnical Institute whose name I, uh... I can't pronounce. Is anyone else intimidated? 'Cause I'm just expecting thin slips of paper with the words 'No Way' written in crayon."

"They're typing those now," Oz said, deadpan.


'I'm so overwhelmed! I-I got in! To actual colleges!," Willow beamed, thoroughly excited. "And, a-and they're wooing me! They're pitching woo!"

"The wooing stage is always fun," Buffy smiled.

"But it's weird," Willow sighed. "Now, rejection I can handle 'cause of the years of training, but this..."

"I feel your pain, Will," Xander grimaced. "Like right now, I'm torn between the fast-growing fields of appliance repair and motel management. Of course, I'm still waiting to hear back from the, uh, Corndog Emporium, so..."

"Well, I think it's great. Early admission," Buffy spoke up again. "Now there's nothing standing between you and a brilliant future."

"Well, if I may suggest, graduate," Oz offered. "Gettin' left back: not the thrill ride you'd expect."

"That's so cute! Planning life as a loser?," Cordelia said, approaching Xander from behind. "Most people just turn out that way, but you're really taking charge."

"The comedy stylings of Miss Cordelia Chase, everyone," Xander said sarcastically, gesturing towards Cordelia. "Who, uh, incidentally, won't be needing a higher education when she markets her own very successful line of hooker wear."

"Well, Xander, I could dress more like you, but, oh, my father has a job," Cordelia said derisively, leaving.

"I'm not gonna waste the perfect comeback on you now," Xander said to Cordelia's back. "But don't think I don't have it. Oh, yes! Its time will come!"

"So, life beyond high school," Xander said. "Anyone, please... chime in."

"I hear it's nice," Buffy offered. "And a place I'll never go if I don't pass Mrs. Taggart's chemistry test tomorrow."

"Oh! I can help," Willow said. "Chemistry's easy. It's a lot like witchcraft, only less newt. So whadaya say? Study jam, my house, tonight?"

"I'm there," Buffy decided.

"Is this a girls only thing?," Xander asked. Both females gave him a look as the bell rang.

"Oh. I have to go see Giles, report on last night's patrol," Buffy realised.

"Oh, yeah. He said he wanted to talk to you," Willow nodded.


Xander frowned, kicking a loose stone as he wandered through the lines of tombstones with Erika beside him.

"Why I gotta be kicked out?," he asked.

"I don't know," Erika shrugged. "Do you know why the Morningstar was cast down from Heaven?"

"Drawin' a blank, sorry," Xander replied. "Say, isn't he Lucifer, aka Satan, aka the Devil?"

Erika looked up at the stars, and began to recite. "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Isaiah, Chapter 14, verses 12 to 14."

"So... you think that Buffy thinks I'm too ambitious?," Xander asked.

"Even angels may be disowned by the Creator," Erika said, face pensive. "Is it such a reach to think that a school girl is even pettier?"

"You've... got a good point," Xander frowned, thoughtful. "Does that mean that even God can be wrong?"

"Everyone can be wrong," Erika said. She took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "Well. I've heard that a cult of vampires serving a demon have moved into Sunnydale."

"They have?," Xander asked. "How many, and how do we tackle this? Assuming, of course, you want the demon's heart."

"We'll have to do this during the daytime," Erika said. "We rip off the roofing to their warehouse, and take advantage of the vampires getting roasted."

"Too many to do it the other way?," Xander asked.


"Say, what about the demon?," Xander asked. "They can be pretty strong and fast."

"Balthazar is a bloated slug who can barely wave his arms about," Erika said disdainfully. "His only powerful muscles are his jaw muscles, from constantly eating."

"Gross," Xander pulled a face. "And thank you for that mental picture."

"Well, we'll just have to create a better picture," Erika said, then pounced on Xander.

Xander's exhaled sharply as his back hit the grassy ground, the female angel sitting on him triumphantly. A faint tinge of red coloured his face as she began moving... right on his...

"Uh... do you have to do that?," Xander asked.

"Why?," Erika asked, leaning over him. She put her hands on both sides of his head.

"You're extremely distracting," Xander said. It was true, too -- she was still wearing her shirt that was barely hanging on. Her breasts were visible through it, swinging freely in front of his face.

"Isn't that a shame?," Erika asked, a wicked expression on her face.

"Here's a good question for you," Xander said in a slightly strained voice. His eyes kept flickering between her chest and her face. "Is sex before marriage a sin?"

"You won't go to Hell for it," Erika said, somehow rolling herself over so that Xander was lying on top of her.


Chapter 9

Xander lay on the grass, staring at the stars. He was stripped, but was probably safe from exposure as a naked Erika was draped over him.

"You ever wonder why we're alive?," Xander asked. "I mean, when you get right down to it, why life?"

"No one knows," Erika said, head on Xander's chest. "Only God knows, and he isn't telling."

"Is it to have a fun, fulfilling life?," Xander continued. "Is it to serve God, or whatever?"

"It's more than a holding action killing things," Erika snorted. She stretched, feeling Xander rise as her lithe body writhed on top of his. "Up to more, are we?"

"Oh yeah," Xander said, looking down from the stars to meet Erika's face.


"That was...," Xander trailed off, as they got their clothes back on. Xander donated his sweater to Erika, in case they should happen across anyone.

"Fun?," Erika completed, eyebrow raised.

"I was going to go for mindblowing, but fun works," Xander smiled. "Say, here's a question -- why didn't any vamps happen across us?"

"Good luck?," Erika asked. "They know that the Slayer patrols the graveyards."

"True," Xander said, "very true. Disturbing, considering that that meant we could've had a Slayer peepshow, but I think you're right."

"By the way, it's time for your nightly drink," Erika said.

"Hold on, hold on!," Xander said, waving his arms. "Sweater off first -- buying new clothes gets expensive."

"You just want to look," Erika teased, taking off the sweater. Now naked from the waist up, her wings emerged from her back. She plucked three feathers from them, and placed them into a glass of water she pulled out from nowhere.

"And more," Xander nodded shamelessly.

Erika waved a hand over the glass, and that white light flashed. Xander found that he could still see, somewhat, during and after the flash.

"Okay, definitely tasting of liquorice," Xander nodded knowingly after downing the glass of translucent white liquid.

"One more, then you'll be ready for the next stage," Erika said.

Xander shifted his shoulders, then tried to scratch between his shoulderblades. "Ugh, that itch is back now. It feels like ants are crawling underneath my skin there."

"Hold on," Erika said, sending the now empty glass into that unseen storage space. "Let me help."

Xander stopped moving as she moved behind him, and started massaging his shoulders.

"Is that better?," she asked.

"Infinitely," Xander said. "You have my gratitude, and your choice of Twinkies from my private stash."

"The sun is coming, soon," Erika said softly. "I can feel it."

"And with sun comes school," Xander said. "Yay."

"We need to hit Balthazar's warehouse before you're due at school, then," Erika smirked. "If you do it quickly enough, you might get a bonus."

"Does this bonus involve a lack of certain things?," Xander asked.


"Well, let's go, then!"


"Wanna see something good?," Erika asked Xander, a sly smile on her face.

"Sure," Xander said, checking the shotgun was loaded and that he was equipped with stakes.

She pulled a length of rope out from her unseen storage, and ripped up a section of roofing iron. A scream could be heard below as the sunlight hit a stray vampire.

"Nothing like the smell of charred vamp in the morning," Xander grinned. He looked through the hole, to see an enormously obese demon in a small swimming pool surrounded by vampire knights.

"Watch this," Erika said, throwing one end of the rope into the warehouse below.

The rope swung about as if it were alive, a snake with Erika holding it's tail. It wrapped itself around one of the vampires, and pulled the undead into the sunlight. Half a second later, the vampire caught fire and dusted.

"Wanna join me?," Erika asked.

"I've never gone fishing for vampires," Xander said. "How'd'you do this? Is it like bobbing for apples?"

Erika pulled out a second length of rope, handing it to Xander. "Throw one end down. Force your will into it -- it's like Charm, but you need to concentrate more.

Xander's rope twitched as he narrowed his eyes at it. It then obediently moved towards a knight, who swung at it with his sword.

"Hey!," Xander protested as the rope nimbly moved out of the way. "No hurting my fishing line!"

"We're lucky they don't have crossbows," Erika observed as she grabbed a couple more vampires with her rope. "Bother... okay, we're going to have to go down now. The rest are out of range."

"Ah... I can't jump that far down," Xander apologised. "Not and have all my bones intact."

Erika started tying one end of her rope around a girder. "Here, do this, then have the rope slowly lower you down. Once you are down, have it untye itself."

"Nifty," Xander said. "I think I may well love you, Erika."

She grinned, as the two lowered themselves into the warehouse.

"DIE! KILL THEM!," the demon roared.

"God, change the CD," Xander complained. "Can't you find anything original to say?"

"I'll take care of the vampires, you take care of him," Erika commanded.

"That's right, Xander gets to take care of the fun jobs," Xander complained, pulling out the shotgun. He let the demon have it twice in the head. "Okay, he's dead."

"Good, so're the vampires," Erika said. "I told them to stake themselves."

Xander looked at the fat demon. It had to be bigger than half a dozen fifty five gallon drums put together. "Where the heck do I find the heart in that thing?"

"With effort?," Erika offered.

Xander pulled down a section of the wall of the pool the demon was in, jumping back as fetid water washed out of the container. "Ewww... okay, knife, check. Guts... double check."

Erika pulled out an empty container as Xander began hacking his way through the layers of fat and flesh.


Xander grimaced as they made their way out of the warehouse. His jeans were covered in demon blood, and he had the coil of rope Erika had handed to him over one shoulder.

"I have got to get a shower," Xander decided. "I stink of blood and dirt."

"I'll wash your back," Erika offered. "You do realise that not all demons are like that one, I hope?"

"Oh yeah, most are below one ton in weight," Xander joked.

She looked thoughtful as she continued talking. "Most are just like you and me, trying to get along."

"People, but with horns and tails?," Xander asked.

"I'll introduce you to some demons I know the next time we're in LA," Erika offered. "I've spent some time there."


Chapter 10

Science is not antithetical to magic, as some schools of thought declare. Science is a method, not an object. Science is described as "The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena." Phenomena may be gravity, electricity, or even magic.

It is therefore possible that scientists in other dimensions may well have an understanding of magic far, far greater than that of Mankind. Similar, in nature, to a gunsmith's superiority in terms of power to a medieval fletcher. Both make projectile weaponry, but the gunsmith has the weight and advantage of Science behind him. Without Science, the explanation of Art is used, where the reasoning behind a practice may not be known. The gunsmith can load his ammunition with explosives successfully every time, but the fletcher may have to go through numerous failures before he strikes a correct load for his arrow.

If the Hellmouth is ancient, and Art-like in nature, then what has been developed elsewhere in the field of dimensional portals?


Erika flashed into existance in a realm of fire, besides a tall figure sheathed in red scales.

"I've got something special," she said to the figure, who was twice her height. "The heart of the demon Balthazar."

"Good," the figure rumbled. "I'll hand this on to the biologists and technicians. We need a few more, still."

Erika nodded. Her expression was sombre as she looked over the realm. "How goes the training?"

"It goes well. They know the stakes, should we lose."

"I wish we could find a more peaceful way," Erika sighed.

The figure gave her a sharp look. "There are no time for diplomats. And they would not talk to us anyway. Except for your kind, that is."

Erika laughed at this. "You think they'll cede their land?"

"Don't you have matters to attend to?," the figure growled, growing annoyed.

The white-winged female nodded, and flashed out of the realm of fire.


"What's been with you?," Willow asked Xander. "You've had major ants going through your pants all day."

"I dunno," Xander said. "I just wanna get out there and earn my wings, and not as the World's Greatest Hot-dog Chef, either."

"So long as it isn't killing demons," Buffy began.

"I'll behave, Mother," Xander rolled his eyes. "Say, do you think that demons have their own versions of Ghandi?"


"The Indian guy who was big on peace," Willow said.

"India Indian?," Buffy asked.

"Yeah, him."

"Oh. I dunno, I just kill 'em," the Slayer shrugged.

"What brought this on?," Willow asked Xander.

"I've been talking to Erika about some things," Xander said. "Don't worry, she knows of the bumpeth in the nighteth."

"What-eth?," Buffy asked, smiling. "I think you two look good together."

"Er, yeah," Willow agreed half-heartedly.

A frown began to shimmer onto Buffy's face. "Ah... Xander, for some reason I'm getting vibes off you like I did off Erika."

"Really?," Xander asked, pretending to be confused while he began to sweat inside. "We... were pretty busy last night, maybe it could be that?"

"Busy?," Willow asked.

"He means they were doing it," Buffy explained. "Ummm... so you think I could be... ewww! Don't wanna know!"

"I didn't know that me naked was so scary," remarked Xander.

"No more!," Willow commanded. As they approached the door to the classroom, she began looking through her bag. "Homework, homework... Xander, did you do yours?"

"Uh... Oz ate it?," Xander tried.


Xander yawned as he wandered out of school, Willow behind him with that 'I'm going to harangue you!' expression on her face.

"Xander Harris, I can't believe you slept through school!," Willow scolded him.

"I was up early going for my morning workout!," protested Xander.

"Something for which you were absent, I might add."

"I was busy last night," Willow started, then looked at Buffy. "Working... on... homework! Yes! With Buffy."

"Riiight," Xander drawled, spotting the look. "And I was busy selling Girl Scout biscuits."

"Whatever works for you," Buffy shot back.

"Well, time to go find that perfect job servin' up dogs," Xander joked, wandering away from the girls.

Buffy gazed at him as he walked away. "Willow... you go on home. He's been acting strange lately -- I'll make sure he's okay."

"You're sure you don't want any help?," Willow asked. "Because I could... go get Faith."

"I can handle this on my own!," Buffy protested, jogging in the direction Xander had left in.


Chapter 11

"Xander," Buffy called out as she got near him. "Are you okay?"

"Okay?," Xander asked, puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"You've been acting weird lately," Buffy said. "Erika isn't like the Incan mummy girl, or the bug lady, is she?"

"No!," Xander said forcefully. "She's a great person."

"You've just been acting weird lately, and you are only normal, so Willow and me were... concerned about you," Buffy expanded.

"Don't worry," Xander grinned. "Everything is fine in the Land of Xan."


Buffy yawned, wandering down some back alleys later that day during the evening with her fellow Slayer, Faith.

"I almost wish those Eliminati guys had stuck around," Buffy said. "I am like soooo bored."

"Oh yeah," Faith nodded in assent. "This place is like dead. In the ungood good way."

"And I can't believe that Giles is like still making us look for those dorks," Buffy continued.

"I should get paid overtime for this," Faith agreed. "'Cause girl, I need it wicked bad."

Both girls blinked as a very nervous looking man in a crisp, clean suit stepped out from behind a corner.

"You... you two are the Slayers, right?," the man asked, voice shaking slightly. "My... my name is Finch. Allen Finch."

"That's me, Little Miss Slice 'n' Dice," Buffy shrugged.

"I... I need to speak with your Watcher," Finch said. "Something terrible is going to happen."


A few blocks away, Xander was wandering in search of demons.

"So, can I Charm them into submission?," Xander asked Erika. "Demons, I mean. Can I get 'em to kill themselves?"

"The weaker ones," Erika said thoughtfully. "Part of it is physical attraction, the rest is magical. Both sexes tend to be attracted to the female gender, but that doesn't apply to men."

"So... feminazi's are immune to my charming nature?," Xander asked.

Erika groaned at the bad pun.

"Hey, I've been thinking about that demon thing," Xander said thoughtfully. "I reread some of the Bible last night, and it doesn't talk about many of God's Angels Falling with Satan. Not nearly as many as you'd expect, judging by Sunnydale at night."

"Most of them aren't demons," Erika shrugged. "Not by the Christian definition of a fallen angel, anyway."

"You what?," Xander blinked. "If they aren't demons, and they aren't humans, what are they?"

"They're people, just with funny genes," Erika explained. "Many of the species are from different dimensions and Universes. Groups got transferred in cosmic accidents and were stranded here."

"Johnny Castaway, making life miserable," Xander joked.

"Humans are some of the most hated demons in other dimensions I've seen," Erika said slyly.

"We're demons?," Xander blinked.

"In this context, demon is a reference to dimension rather than a Hellfire type demon. Just like if you moved to Mars, you'd be an alien there, but here on Earth you're a native, not an alien."

"Ahhhh," Xander said, mental lightbulb going on. "That would be cool, getting to see strange new worlds."

"It's not all you'd think it is," Erika said, a faintly sad smile appearing on her face. "There is just as much pain and anger there as there is here."

"Well, good and bad demons aside, we've got a gang of them rushing us now," Xander observed.

"Use your rope," Erika advised Xander. She stood back to watch as he took on the seven foot tall chitinous, humanoid demons.

"I can't shoot them?," Xander asked, pulling a long section of rope out of his bag. He threw it at the hissing demons, who cut it in several places. "HEY! Stop hurting my rope!"

"So don't let them," Erika said, rolling her eyes.

"Ahhh, gotcha," Xander said, eyebrows narrowing. He concentrated, and the demons found themselves tied together like a bundle of pencils by the lengths of rope, that had now knotted themselves back into one length.

"Very good," Erika praised him. She eyed up the group appraisingly. "I think that they'll be enough for tonight."

"I kinda feel bad, killing them like this," Xander said, pulling a sword out of his bag.

"They were trying to kill you," Erika pointed out.

"That's why," Xander said, pausing to decapitate one, "I don't mind doing... this!"

Xander let the rope collapse as the last demon fell, headless.

"I hate being covered in demon blood," Xander complained.

"We'll have to shower later," Erika smirked, producing an empty container filled with that green preservative. "You'll need to crack their breastplates to get to their hearts."

"Oh yay," Xander said, producing a hammer. "Sunnydale... how I doth love thee."

Erika shrugged internally as she heard some relatively stealthy footsteps moving away from them. "We've had a spy."

"Who was it?," Xander asked, looking around before returning to his grisly work. "Okay, heart one, here."

Erika held the open container to Xander. The demon heart fell in with a splash, sprinkling her hands with green liquid. "One of the Slayers. I felt a Slayer essence."

"I'm not going to kill them," Xander said resolutely.

"You don't have to, and you shouldn't," Erika smiled. "Just tell them that I'm an Angel working with you."


Half an hour later, the two were at Xander's house. His parent's were still out at a new bar they'd found. Erika had teleported the container to some unknown destination, and had caught up with Xander at his house.

"Time for the last dose of feather potion," Erika said.

"What comes after this if this is the last dose?," Xander asked. "Liquified Twinkie?"

"Better," Erika said, plucking five feathers from her wings.

Not much water fit in the glass with the feathers in it as well. She passed a hand over the glass, and Xander found that the white light produced when the feathers turned soluble did not blind him like before.

"Okay, enough liquorice to kill a horse in here," he decided. "Yet, more-ish."

The glass fell from his hands to crash on the ground as complete and utter pain washed over his back.

"AAaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," Xander ground out, managing to not scream like a girl. He fell to his knees, shards of glass just in front of them, arms crossed over his chest as his eyes closed. "It huuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrtttttttsssssssssss....."

Erika took him into her arms comfortingly. "Just wait a moment... and the pain will stop."

Xander panted as he felt something break out of his back, blood streaming down and starting to drip on the floor. He could feel cool air touching almost raw flesh, the sensations dulling for some reason.

"You can feel your wings' flesh and bones growing," Erika whispered into his ear. "They're growing out, and your back is healing up. You can feel the flesh growing on them, can't you?"

Xander's eyes were still closed, and his heavy breathing erratic. "It... hurt so much."

"So does birth," Erika said, hugging his head to her chest. "Open your eyes."

He did so reluctantly, his arms falling from his chest to move to the small of her back, just below where her wings stopped coming out of her back.

"Look," she continued to whisper. His head turned to his left, to see pink flesh coming from just behind him. "You can see the feathers start to grow... yes... that's what all those white dots are..."

"So fast," Xander said. "You could make a killing if it did that to hair."

Erika smiled. She knew he was going to be fine now. She got up, supporting his weight as she moved to the sofa, laying him on it face down.

"Sleep," she said to him. "Sleep..."

He was past the major turning point with no adverse reactions or mutations. He was going to pull through this just fine.


Chapter 12

Faith whistled as she wandered into the Library, flipping a stake idly.

"Kindly stop that racket," Giles pleaded from where he was paging through a thick book. "I'm trying to concentrate."

"What up?," Faith asked.

"I'm trying to ascertain what could have happened to the Eliminati," Giles said, looking up at Faith with a frown on his arms. "They can't have simply left Sunnydale."

"I don't think they did," Faith said. "X and his girl were pulling wicked great moves last night."

"Wicked... what?," Giles blinked.

"X was doing some funky stuff, making this rope dance like a puppy, tied up a bunch of ant demons good, then blew their heads off," Faith explained, gesturing with her hands.

"My word," Giles said. "Er... blew their heads off?"

"Shotgun, Evil Dead, yo?"

"Quite," Giles said, taking off his glasses and beginning to clean them. "Yes, it may be possible to hypothesize that they took care of the Eliminati. I'll talk to Xander about it."

"Five by five," Faith said, mock saluting as she left.

"Er, wait, what about," Giles called out as she left, "... patrol?"


Xander woke to find himself being held by Erika. As he began to stir, he felt two weights on his back, moving slightly.

"What... what happened?," Xander asked. "I feel like I'm going through withdrawl."

"Don't worry, you had your sugar fix for the day," Erika smiled. "You got your wings."

Xander leapt to his feet, head twisting around to look. Two large white wings could be seen out of the corner of his eyes, kinda like what Erika had.

"Wow," Xander trailed off. "Just, wow."

"They grew fast due to our fast healing," Erika said, getting to her feet. She let her wings come out of her back, ruining yet another shirt. "I can't teach you to fly in the city, though -- too many people who could see us."

"This is sooooo cool," Xander enthused, grabbing his right wing to take a closer look. "Ow!"

Erika was amused to notice that he was more careful with his wings after that. "You'll also want to be careful if you sit down, with your wings out."

"No kidding," Xander said. He then realised something. "Oh, hell. What if Willow or Buffy spot them?"

Erika stepped in close to him, her hand reaching around his back between his wings and his torso. She drew a finger down where the feathers met flesh, and he shivered with new-found pleasure.

"You should be able to shapeshift now," Erika whispered into his ear. "Hiding your wings is a variation of that."

"Shape... shift?," Xander asked. A grin grew on his face. "I could... disguise myself as Arnie?"

"You could," Erika shrugged. Her eyes narrowed. "Concentrate on a picture of yourself as you are now, but minus your wings."

"Okay... doing that," Xander said, closing his eyes and focussing hard.

"Now, you are that image," Erika said. "Your body is that image. You are that person. Your flesh is in that shape. You. Image. You. Shape. You..."

As Xander listened to her monologue, his wings withdrew into his back, seeming to vanish. His eyes flew open as he felt the weight of them disappear.

"Well done," Erika said. "That's how normal shapeshifting is done as well, by the way."

"I see many, many pranks possible with this," Xander said, smiling.

Erika looked him up and down. "Time for a shower, I think."


Xander looked at Erika as she dried herself. He was finding it easier to read her moods, and sadness was plain in her eyes.

"What's wrong?," he asked. "What's the scratch on your record?"

She looked up at him, mind working. "I... I have a confession to make. Please, promise you won't hate me afterwards."

"I couldn't hate you," Xander protested. "I think... I think I'm in love with you."

"And I love you," she returned easily. "But... I'm not an Angel. I'm just a female from another dimension."

"Oh," Xander said intelligently. "So, why the heart hunting?"

"My dimension isn't stable," Erika said softly. "Some dimensions are huge, like this one. You could travel for a million years, and you wouldn't be able to reach the edges. Others, like mine, are small, only the size of this planet or so."

"And it's getting smaller?," Xander asked.

"No, the Great Burn is coming," she shivered. "Everything will burn to a crisp, and no one will survive."

"Ouch," Xander shuddered. "So... the hearts are to stop this Burn?"

"No," Erika said, looking Xander in the eye. "My people want to come to Earth. They're using the hearts to power a portal generator."


Chapter 13

A week later found Xander wandering the streets of Sunnydale, hand in hand with Erika.

"So, it all happens in a couple days?," he asked her.

Erika nodded. "The portal machine will be complete by then."

"And they plan on occupying places that J. Random Human hasn't occupied already?," Xander asked doubtfully. "It gonna take a loooot of bribe money for that to happen."

"There isn't a lot of us left," Erika said softly.

Xander hugged her briefly. "Hey, I could throw the mother of all sleep-over parties."

She had to laugh at that. "Idiot."

"I know you are, but what am I?," Xander asked cheekily.

"Vampire," Erika said, head turning.

"Er, no, I'm pretty sure I'd notice if I was dead," Xander said, confused.

"No, there's a brood of vampires coming," Erika said, indicating down the road.

"Cool!," Xander said, pulling his boomstick out of his bag. "Say, you still have to teach me that dimensional pocket thing."

"Stop," Erika commanded the group of approaching undead, who were all in their vampiric guises.

"Hold it," a female voice commanded, as Buffy stepped out of a pool of shadow. "What the hell is going on with you, Xander?!"

"Er... vamp killing?," Xander tried.

"Nice try," Buffy said, absently starting to stake the vampires who were held immobile by Erika's command. "What is up with this new girlfriend of yours?"

"I'm not from this dimension," Erika said, deciding to take a chance.

"What, and you decided to have a holiday on the Hellmouth?," Buffy asked acridly.

"Something like that, good ole Californy," Xander interrupted.

Buffy shrugged as she staked the last vampire. "Well, I'll see you around, I guess."

Xander stared as the short blonde walked off. "Why'd she drop it that fast?"

"Good question," Erika said. "Good question. I wasn't paying attention, so I wasn't sure when she arrived."


"Okay, demon trouble," Buffy announced as she sauntered into the Library.

"Already?," Giles asked, sarcasm clear.

"Xander's new honey said she was from another dimension, so she's a demon," Buffy said. "She was talking to him about some kind of portal machine earlier."

"I knew that slut was trouble!," Willow said triumphantly. She blushed a brilliant scarlet as the other two stared at her, where she was stationed on Giles' computer. "Uh, that is, I'm sure she's a nice person... when not here... and I'll just go back to what I was doing, being quiet, and... yes."

Giles sighed, and took off his glasses. "Well, about the only reason for a portal on the Hellmouth would be to open said Mouth of Hell."

"You mean like with the Master, with that thing with three heads?," Buffy asked incredulously. "No way. No way is anything like that ever happening again."


Erika teleported into the Realm of Fire once more, beside a twelve foot tall figure sheathed in red scales.

"I've brought the final batch," she said, handing a container to the figure.

It took it, staring from the perch the two were on over a plain filled with smaller figures practicing various activities.

"The bio-technologists will be glad," the figure rumbled. "We move in two days."

"Is training going alright?," Erika asked. "If anyone kills any humans, then they'll hang on our backs like Grim Death."

"They know their orders," the figure replied. "What about that man of yours?"

"He's finished changing," Erika reported. "No problems whatsoever. I've explained the whole situation to him, and he supports us. If we slaughter, I'm sure he'll try and stop us, though."

The figure nodded, not bothering to reprimand Erika as he knew that she could wipe memories if need be.

"I'll need four Hamatula to guard the machine while I set it up," Erika continued.

"You'll have them," the figure said. "I'll send them with the machine itself. We start moving half a minute after the portal is initiated."

"Have any estimates been made as to the time it will take?," Erika asked.

"We should be out of the town by daybreak."

"Good," Erika purred. "Have my sisters been sent out?"

"Yes, they're all doing their duties in world government," the figure said, appearing amused. "And, might I add, they are all exceedingly excited to meet your friend."


Back in his room, Xander stretched. His wings, hidden no longer, hit the walls before they finished stretching.

"Time, methinks, for some actual sleep, rather than sleeping with," Xander said, looking at his bed.

"But sleeping with is fun," Erika smirked as she teleported back to him.

"Maybe both?," Xander asked, grinning. He only had his underwear on, as he was preparing for bed.

"I agree," Erika purred, her clothes vanishing.


Chapter 14

"FREEZE, DEMON!," Faith yelled out as she busted into Xander's bedroom through the window. "Uhhh..."

"STOP RIGHT THERE!," Buffy chimed in, kicking his door down.

Xander turned his head from where he was nailing Erika to the wall. Both of them were butt naked, but Xander's large wings were hiding everything except for two heads, one back, one ass, and two legs. Oh, and another two legs wrapped around said ass.

"Do I bust into your room when you're having sex?," Xander demanded, looking over his white feathery wings. "No."

Erika looked up, lazily, from where she had her legs wrapped around Xander. "If you're not going to join in, then go away."

Buffy blushed as she snuck out the door.

"Er... is later a good time?," Buffy asked sheepishly.

"Later, hell, I'm stayin' here," Faith said, eyes glued on the couple.

"FAITH!," Buffy shrieked, grabbing the other Slayer's upper arm and dragging her out. "Come on!"

"Killjoy," Faith muttered.

"Maybe.... ohhhhh yeeeesssss," Xander said, turning his attention back to Erika.



Buffy looked at Faith.

Faith looked at Buffy.


"Damn, B, why'd you have to drag me outta there?"

"Willow would totally crucify all of us involved."

"Did you notice X's wings? Like a totally five by five ass, framed by white feathers."

"Modern art, baby..."


Giles looked up as the two Slayers returned to the Library.

"Well," the Englishman said. "What do the two of you have to report?"

"We... couldn't find him," Buffy said. "Xander. We couldn't find him."

"Really," Giles said. "Did you check his usual haunts?"

"Yep," Faith said, perching her butt on the table and earning a glare from the Watcher. "Complete lack of fine male ass."

"What?," Willow asked absently, fingers still flying across the keyboard. "Fine what?"

"Grade A manflesh," Faith said, smirking. Buffy gave her a dark look.

Giles frowned at her. "If you did find Xander and his new girlfriend, I really must insist that you report their activities to us."

"No, really," Buffy insisted. "We couldn't find him... honest?"


A quarter hour later found an unusual scene at the Sunnydale High School Library.

Willow's hands were limp on the computer keyboard, her mouth hanging open in disbelief.

Giles had forgone his usual glasses-cleaning, in favour of simply pinching the bridge of his nose in an attempt to stave off an impending headache.

Buffy was still blushing, and staring resolutely at a dim corner of the Library.

Faith was leaning against the wall lazily.

"That... that SKANK!," Willow screamed. "I can't believe her! I can't believe Xander actually did that!"

"What, the wings thing or the sex thing?," Faith asked.

"Both!," Willow snapped.

"Well, there was that whole fluke thing," Buffy offered. "I mean, you can't exactly say that Xander was yours after you went out with Oz."

Willow sat down on the computer chair with a thud. "Darn it."


The next day found Xander and Erika getting ambushed by two Slayers and a hacker.

"What up?," Xander asked flippantly.

"Where... where'd those wings go?," Buffy asked, frowning.

"I see nothing, I know nothing," Xander said, smiling.

"Xandee˜er," Willow said in a singsong tone of voice.

The two winged demons traded looks.

"Think we should tell 'em?," Xander asked Erika.

"If they promise not to tell, I don't see why not," Erika shrugged.

"Tell what?," Faith asked. "I'm five by five with actually being told something for a change."

"Well, how about we find a nice, private, secure cubbyhole like the janitor's closet?," Xander mused out loud.

"Well, alright," Willow said doubtfully as they wandered into the nearest closet.

"Okay," Xander said once the door was shut. "It's like this. Erika's home dimension going bye bye. All people there go for permanent vacay at the Pearly Gates, or here. They choose here."

"That's it?," Buffy asked. "But... we're talking people eating apocalyptic demons, right?"

"Nope," Xander replied cheerfully. "Non people hurting demons. Goooood demons, Buffy."

"But... the last time the Hellmouth opened something with way too many teeth and two too many heads came through," Willow protested.

"Different dimension," Erika spoke up. "Plus we intend on opening our own portal, rather than relying on something like the Hellmouth."

"Oh, okay," Willow blinked. "Hey, how do you do that? Do you have a bunch of mages chanting, or maybe some kind of huge Doctor Evil thing, or--"

Xander silenced her with a finger across her lips.

"I think she's gonna be fine, Doc," he wise-cracked.

"Our technologists could explain the machine better than I," Erika smirked.

"Technologists?," Willow asked. "But--"

"AAaaah!," Xander interrupted. "The long, geeky discussions can wait until we have donuts, as per usual."


Chapter 15

"Okay, long story short, their world is about to go boom so they need to move out," Xander said.

"Where to?," Buffy asked, spotting the problem immediately.

"Earth is a big place," Erika shrugged. "And we can move on to another world if need be."

"Say, how does the portal thingy work?," Willow asked, frowning. "Because if you're sending a whole race of people through it, it'd need to be big, and powerful, and last for quite a while."

Erika shrugged. "I don't know. I work in special ops, not with the scientists."

The redheaded hacker frowned. "Are you sure? You can't give me any tips or anything?"

"Sorry," Erika shrugged. "I teleport every now and again."

"Then why are your people bothering with a portal?," Willow asked.

"What about old people, little kids, supplies, that kinda stuff?," Xander asked.

"Good point," Willow blushed.

"Don't forget we still have to worry about the Mayor," Buffy reminded Willow.

"The Mayor?," Xander asked. "Did I miss a memo?"

Buffy paused, looking Xander up and down. Well, he did have those powers going for him now...

"He wants to turn into a really huge demon snake that makes boa constrictors look like spaghetti," Willow summed up. "And he wants to eat us! Brrr..."

"That's... an amazing amount of info, considering how things normally go around here," Xander blinked. "How'd we find all that out?"

"Mr Finch, the Mayor's second in command, narked on him," Buffy shrugged. "He's been packed off by the Watchers under their version of the Witness Protection Program."

"Wonderful," Xander muttered. "Come back, bug lady, hyenas, Master of Aurelius, all is forgiven."

"Does the demon snake have a name?," Erika asked.

"Old Viking, I think," Buffy replied. "Something Norse."

"No, Olvikan," Willow corrected her.

"I think that my people might be able to help you," Erika began to smile.

"We'd better go talk to the Big G," Xander put in. "He's good with making with the planning."

"Really?," Erika asked. "You never mentioned that before."

"Well, that and he's got money for donuts," Xander explained sheepishly.


"You mean to tell me that we'll have to put up a few billion demons for the night soon?," Giles demanded, incredulous. His hands, previously flicking through a large tome on the big table in the library, fell still.

"Not as such," Xander trailed off.

Giles relaxed.

"Only about two hundred million," Erika said.

The Watcher took off his glasses, beginning to clean them. "Really, I must insist that you give me more warning than this... I really have no idea on what we can do, what with the Mayor and all."

"Well, if we're putting them up," Xander said reasonably, "they can probably help us with demon snakes."

"Even so, how do you propose to feed them?," Giles demanded acerbically. "God, Travers will have my guts for garters, fired or not fired."

"Well, if they fire up their portal as soon as the Mayor gets squished, no problemo," Buffy offered.

"That could work," Giles said thoughtfully. "We will have to wait until his Hundred Days is over."

"Hundred Days?," Willow asked.

"The Council has been researching the issue in the Restricted area of the archives," Giles explained.

"I thought you got fired after the Chrysanthemum thing," Xander asked.

"With such a terrible event in the offing, the Council has decided to temporarily reinstate me," Giles explained, "due to my superior knowledge."

Xander stepped back towards the Library doors, where Erika was standing. He left the two girls and Giles talking at the table.

"You've got that look on your face," he whispered to her.

"What look?," Erika asked, eyebrow lifting.

"That 'I've got a secret' look," Xander clarified.

"Some of our mages might be able to bypass the Hundred Days aspect of Wilkin's Ascension," Erika smirked. "I need to talk to them before I commit to anything, though."

"That's cool," Xander observed. "In both ways."


Chapter 16

"Why, exactly, are we hanging at the park?," Buffy asked. "During night, no less. I could be at the Bronze, I could be shakin' it hunting vamps..."

Xander and Erika had their wings out, standing, waiting. Buffy and Faith paced nervously, while Willow and Giles sat on a park bench.

"Three, two, one," Erika said.

A second after she said 'one', four figures teleported into the large open area in the park. They were approximately seven feet tall, and were reptilian in appearance. All of them were covered in sharp barbs, and two of them were carrying a thick pillar that was more than twice as long as they were high, and composed of an unknown slick black material.

"My word," Giles said, blinking. "Hamatula. How remarkable."

"Down, Buff," Xander said. "You too, Faith."

"Woof," the Boston Slayer grumbled.

"*Hello, Erika,*" one of them said. "*Izt's squad reporting for duty.*"

"What?," Buffy asked blankly.

"*Welcome to Earth,*" Erika said. "*Set the machine up here.*"

"*How come I can understand them?,*" Xander asked, confused.

"Gift of tongues," Erika shrugged.

"Fascinating," Giles said, as the new demons split into pairs, stepping off a line of approximately thirty feet. "Now I remember where I had read about you! Your world is populated by Baatezu demons, is it not?"

Erika shrugged. "We lost contact with the main Host thousands of years ago."

"Is that a good or a bad thing?," Willow asked.

"In this case, good," Xander guessed.

"And the man wins a Twinkie," Erika smiled. "*How are you four progressing?*"

"*We are ready to commence,*" the first one said, bowing slightly. Two of the hamatula were standing by a pillar each.

"*Proceed,*" Erika commanded calmly.

Izt turned to the rest of his squad. "*Activate machine in three... two... one... activate!*"

The two standing by a pillar each slid a panel upwards in a smooth motion that spoke of practice, and a brilliant white plane of light flashed into existance between the pillars.

"*Field created, ready to link portal,*" the unoccupied hamatula announced.

"*Link portal!,*" Izt commanded.

The two technician hamatula manipulated designs on the pillars, under the watchful eye of Izt's second in command. As they did so, the pure white light darkened to a red glow.

"*Portal linked and ready for use,*" the 2IC pronounced.

"*Go through and inform the higher ups,*" Izt said.

The 2IC hamatula bowed slightly, then walked through the plane of light, vanishing.

Thirty seconds later it returned, a twelve foot tall figure sheathed in red scales with a giant pair of red batwings behind it.

"Dear God in Heaven," Giles said, eyes wide and looking quite faint. "A Pit Fiend. Oh dear Lord, oh my..."

"What, are they bad news?," Willow asked.

"My Slaydar is going off the scale, put it that way," Buffy said.

"Okay, let's not piss this guy off, then," Faith observed.

An unfamiliar figure marched through, followed by three more, all about nine feet high. The first had a strip of white cloth with three red bands around it's neck, while the three behind it had two bands on their neck-cloths. They were lithe, snake-like with wings in form where the Hamatula had been crocodile-like. Another three marched close behind them, emerging from the plane, followed by another three, then another three... all marching at the same pace, with the same military precision.

"Cornugon," Giles whispered.

Eventually, the group of Cornugon had finished marching through, and halted at the command of the leader. Another group of Cornugon marched through, coming to a halt and forming up behind the first group.

"This could take a while," the Watcher sighed, writing in a small book he had brought with him.

"Two million people, ya think?," Xander wise-cracked.

"Erika has told me of you," the twelve foot tall figure in red scales rumbled, approaching the small group.

Xander looked the figure up and down, nervous as all hell.

"Good things?," he said weakly. "I really, really hope she said good things."

"Indeed," the figure said. "Address me as Fiers."

"Call me Xander," Xander said. "Uh, so... any plans on where you're going to stay?"

"We have plans, yes," Fiers rumbled. "Erika tells me you have a slight problem with your Mayor?"

"You could call it that," Giles said dryly. He refused to look a gibbering idiot, especially at what probably counted as First Contact. "Ascensions tend to be... messy, not to mention fatal for those not Ascending."

"There are exceptions," Erika spoke up, hugging Xander's shoulders a moment.

"Our mages and technologists will solve this... problem for you," Fiers said. He turned to look at the field of demons forming up as they marched through the portal formed.

"Something's wrong," Izt said suddenly.

Fiers' head whipped around to look at the portal. "What is it?"

"The energy produced by the power modules is draining too rapidly," Izt explained. "Far more than what the portal is using, even in a worst case scenario."

"*Damn!,*" Fiers spat. "*Leftenant Wiy! Energy preservation, portal machine! NOW!*"

A Cornugon saluted him, then ordered his men to form around the side and rear of the portal, where they drew lines in the ground and did stuff that no one really understood with energy. Well, Giles and Willow had a vague idea what they were doing. The leftenant then approached the Pit Fiend.

"*Drain removed,*" he said, after saluting his superior. "*Large area drain effect that we had not anticipated.*"

"*Damn it,*" Fiers muttered. "*We're short a heart's worth of energy, now.*"

"*I could help,*" Xander offered.

"*If I get you killed, then we're in deep shit,*" Fiers growled at Xander.

Xander stepped back a pace or three. Having a twelve foot tall Pit Fiend growl at you does nothing for your nerves.

"*Sir, I wish to help my mate,*" Erika volunteered. "*If we each offer half a heart's worth, then we will both survive.*"

"*You are willing?,*" Fiers asked Xander.

Xander nodded. These seemed like good people (even if they looked like snakes and crocodiles on steroids.)

"*Follow Leftenant Wiy to the portal machine and follow his commands,*" Fiers commanded the two.

"What's going on?," Faith demanded.

"Complications," Fiers summed up. "The two Erinyes are going to help supplement the energy used -- they'll survive, don't worry."

"What about possible problems with such close contact with transdimensional energy?," Giles asked, forehead wrinkled.

"I have every confidence in my men," Fiers said.


Chapter 17

Xander was still nervous as hell. Walking past companies of demons formed up in military formations, who wouldn't be?

"It's okay," Erika whispered to him as they followed the lithe, serpentine Leftenant Wiy.

"This whole thing is still pretty new to me," Xander admitted.

"Why are you still helping us, then?," Erika asked.

"Reason number uno? A little thing called L-O-V-E, involving Y-O-U," Xander smiled. "That, and these are good demons."

Faint tremors began as a group of Pit Fiends marched through, all with backpacks almost as big as they were. Considering each of them was over twelve feet tall, that was saying something.

"Okay," Xander said as they reached the portal machine. "What now?"

"*Erika, show him what to do,*" Wiy suggested.

Erika walked to one of the black pillars, and placed both hands near the pillar. The Hamatula observing the pillar guided her hands to two panels on the pillar, and her eyes went blank. One of the Cornugons under Wiy's command stepped behind Erika, scaled hands remaining about an inch away from her skin.

"*What's with that guy?,*" Xander asked.

"*Making sure she remains healthy,*" Wiy said curtly. "*Move over to the other pillar, and do as Onl tells you.*"

Xander obeyed, holding his open hands near the other pillar. The Hamatula observing that pillar took his wrists, moving them to two panels on the pillar that were indistinguishable from the other panels.

His vision began to cloud over as he somehow felt the presence of many large... things. Erika's presence was almost palpable, even though he could not see anything. Xander could feel a draining sensation, though, and the faint touch of the Cornugon behind him monitoring his status.


Giles' mind was working furiously as he calmly watched the ranks of demons on the field swell, all standing at ease as their comrades joined them.

"You are worried," Fiers rumbled.

Buffy and Faith jumped as he spoke. Their Slayer instincts were screaming at them that they were going to die in less than half a second, so they were doing their best not to retreat as their Slayer Essences demanded.

"Yes," Giles said, allowing the frown on his face to emerge. "Despite what the Council says, I doubt they will sit back and allow you to do as you please."

"I don't think that'll be a problem," Willow spoke up. "Because this thing at the moment with the field kinda speaks to me that, hey, they've spent AGES training and planning for this. You know, so I mean that, if you're going to this kinda trouble, you'll make sure that where you're going is okay, so I think that Fiers here has something up his sleeve."

Everyone looked at Willow, surprised that she'd been so insightful.

Willow blushed a brilliant red. If her face had been shiny with sweat as well, then she would have rivalled the sheen of Fiers' scales. "Or I could be quiet."

"No, you're right," Fiers admitted. "Erika's sisters have been preparing the way for us worldwide."

"Sisters?," Giles asked. "I've been wondering -- only Berich's Demonologie touches on the matter, and briefly at that. How does their breed of demon procreate? I mean, if there are only female specimums."

"Maybe they're genetically compatible with Big Red somehow," Buffy offered.

Willow wondered about the mechanics and scale involved of a twelve foot male demon having sex with a six foot female demon, and fainted due to embarassment.

"No, they're too different from us," Fiers admitted. "The Erinyes were betrayed by the Tanar'ri many eons ago, and joined the Baatezu. To answer your original question, though, male Erinyes are extremely rare. So Alexander's services will be in very high demand."

"So X is going to be a very happy demon?," Faith summed up.


"Might I ask as to your general guidelines with regards to behaviour towards humanity?," Giles asked.

"Basic preservation on our part," Fiers said. He was explaining a great deal, as Rupert Giles was attached to one of the major organisations he'd have to work with, and also because the man was close to the newest Erinyes. "We aren't going to kill anyone, don't worry."

"Interesting," Giles said, still watching the portal. "Female units?"

"They're faster than males, and are pretty vicious once riled," Fiers shrugged. "Soon, the civilians will be coming through."

True to Fiers' word, after ten or twenty female units, what were obviously civilian units began coming through the portal. They were not formed up in rank and file like the military demons had been, and were simply moving as fast as they could. Some of them were pushing large floating plates loaded down with various items, although nothing that they could easily replace.


Izt swore, as his second-in-command reported to him.

"*Wiy! The bleedthrough is being accelerated by this blasted drain,*" Izt snapped. "*Can't your men do any better?*"

"*Not without finding who the damn mage behind the drain is,*" Wiy growled back. "*And if my unit does that, then we won't be here to dampen the damn drain!*"

"*Shit,*" Izt muttered. He turned to his second in command. "*Go tell the General that we need him to find whoever is behind the drain, and stop that man.*"

"*On the good news, the Erinyes will have topped up the machine's reserves in a moment,*" Wiy said, as his men who were monitoring Erika and Xander reported to him. "*On the bad news, the bleedthrough of transdimensional energies will have reached critical about the same time as the reserves.*"

"*We just can't win, can we?,*" Izt asked rhetorically. "*Do what you can. If everyone makes it through this...*"


"*Fuck,*" Fiers said succinctly, as the hamatula reported to him.

"What's happened now?," Giles asked.

"The usual," Fiers said philosophically. "Stay here."

As soon as he began to move towards the portal, the two pillars flared with brilliant red light. Once everyone could see again, they noticed that Erika and Xander were notable by their absence.

Everyone stepped back as rage bloomed on Fiers' face.

"As soon as I find that mother raping mage, I'm going to make him wish his grandparent's grandparents were suffocated at infancy!"

"Where's Xander gone?," Faith asked, shocked into using Xander's given name.

"I don't know," Fiers ground out. "But I am going to find out."

He sighed deeply. "And if Erika's sisters hear about this and get to that mage first, he'll wish I'd gotten there before them."


The End