No Fate

Author: Cyclone <cyclone[at]>

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at

Rating: I'm gonna go say PG.

Spoilers: Up to and through Chosen.

Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to the almighty Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: Angel comes back in time to save the hope of the future.

Author's Note: This is sort of a fusion with The Terminator. The idea just sort hit me.

Latest addition


"You don't have to do this."

Angel shook his head, "Someone has to, and I'm the best-qualified."

"But you're needed here, sir."

He whirled and glared at the other man, "No, I'm not. I've already taught you all I can, Werner. But if that... thing succeeds, we lose everything. It has to be me." He took a deep breath, "I'm counting on you to carry on our work here."

The man saluted unenthusiastically, "Yes, sir."

Angel steeled himself and stepped through.


Xander sighed in satisfaction as he began devouring his double quarter pounder with cheese.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the Hellmouth was closed, and just yesterday, he'd given Anya the honors she deserved. That last thought sobered him quickly, but he refused to let it ruin his mood.

He was busy taking another bite when a shadow fell across him, blocking the sun. He looked up and smiled, "Kennedy! What's going on? I thought you were gonna spend the day with Willow?"

There was something off about the dark-haired Slayer. She seemed... different, somehow.

"Whoa!" he cried out as he stumbled out of reach when she swung at him.

Xander scrambled away as he demanded, "What the hell is wrong with you, Kennedy?"

Suddenly, a nearby gunshot deafened him briefly, and Kennedy was thrown sideways. He turned and stared.

Then he looked up at the brilliantly-shining sun, then back at his savior.


The ensouled vampire (?!?) extended a hand toward him and said seriously, "Come with me if you want to live."

Chapter 1

"Come with me if you want to live."

"Are you nuts?" Xander sputtered at Angel. "You just shot..." he trailed off as he saw Kennedy rising to her feet, apparently none the worse for wear despite the point-blank dose of twelve-gauge buckshot.

Now, Xander was -- unfairly, perhaps -- considered to be not very intelligent. He certainly wasn't the genius Willow was. But even he could make the connection here.

Kennedy was a Slayer. Slayers weren't bulletproof. This thing that looked like Kennedy was. Therefore, it was not Kennedy.

Then again, Angel was a vampire. Vampires burned up in the sunlight. This person who looked like Angel was in the sun and not burning. Therefore, he was not Angel.

However, not-Kennedy was trying to kill him. Not-Angel was trying to keep him alive, at least for now.

Xander scrambled to his feet and ran as not-Angel unloaded another shell into not-Kennedy.

"This way!" not-Angel called as he ran toward a car, and Xander followed.

"What the hell's going on, Deadboy?" Xander demanded.

"Later," not-Angel said curtly, hotwiring the engine.

When did Angel learn to hotwire a car?


Not-Angel pulled the car over into the parking lot of the hotel the Slayers and Slayerettes had been using, and Xander raised an eyebrow. Now, how did he know where to go?

"C'mon," not-Angel said, "we don't have time. She'll know we're headed this way."

Xander followed. He wanted an explanation, and not-Angel was probably the only one who could give him one.


Buffy sighed and looked at him. Finally, she asked, "So... you're really Angel?"

He nodded, "From the future. The Powers That Be turned me human as a reward for what I've done, helping bring down the Slayer Empire. They had one shot, though. They sent an assassin back in time to kill the person responsible for the resistance even surviving long enough to become a threat."

"And it's all my fault," Buffy whispered softly.

Angel nodded sadly, "They knew we'd send someone to ride the ripple back. That's why they didn't send her back any further. They needed the Slayers to be Called."

The entire collection was stunned by the story, but none moreso than Willow.

And Kennedy.

It wasn't every day you learned that you were responsible for the First Evil's victory and that your girlfriend would become a demon- cyborg-hybrid thing sent to kill you best friend did that.

Nor was it every day you learned that being a psychotic demon-cyborg- hybrid was in your future, and that even killing yourself wouldn't work, because you had (will have?) died before that parody of you gets built anyway.

It was the sort of thing that induced migraines and nausea.

All in all, they were handling it pretty well.

"I think I'm gonna throw up," Willow murmured as she suddenly bolted for the bathroom.

"Me too," Kennedy added, a step behind the redhead.

Angel watched them disappear, then turned to Xander, "We can't stay long, sir. She'll expect us to come here. We have to move."

Xander -- along with everyone else in the room -- blinked when Angel called him "sir." That was just too bizarre.

Xander nodded, rising, "I'll get ready." His gaze swept around the table, and he looked at Angel, "Will she go after anyone else, or is it just me?"

"Just you," Angel said. "No one else survived long enough to make any difference."

"I'm coming," Buffy said, rising as well. Xander turned, an argument on the tip of his tongue, but before he could speak, Willow returned.

"So will I," the redhead said, stepping back into the room, though she still looked a bit pale.

"And where Willow goes, I go," Kennedy said firmly.

Faith looked around and shrugged, "Ah, what the hell. I'm in." She ignored Robin's frown. If the ex-principal wanted to come, he was free to, as far as she was concerned. She wasn't going to leave the Xandman hanging for him, even if he was a pretty good lay.

"Dawn..." Buffy started.

"No!" Dawn snapped, interrupting her sister. "I'm going too."

"Same here," Andrew suddenly spoke up, much to everyone's surprise.

Most of the new Slayers shifted uncertainly, and Vi and Rona looked ready to stand, but Xander didn't give them a chance, "Whoa, that's more than enough."

Looking at Dawn, Xander shook his head, "You've got to stay with the Slayers, Dawn. Please. For me." His gaze drifted to Faith and Buffy, "One of you has to stay and lead them. Go with the plan, do what you can to secure the Hellmouth in Cleveland and take Dawn," he paused and glanced at Andrew speculatively, "and Andrew with you." He turned just as Dawn opened her mouth, "No arguments, Dawn."

Faith and Buffy looked at each other for a long moment, and after a long moment, the dark-haired Slayer gave her blonde counterpart a rueful smile, "No worries, B. I got it covered." She shot Xander a look that told him that she'd rather be watching his back.

Xander closed his eyes. Him, Angel, Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy. Five people. The logistics for that was going to be problematic. Weapons, food, clothing. He shook his head and looked at the Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy. "Well, we'd better start packing. Essentials only. We leave in an hour."

They nodded and scrambled to their rooms, and Xander followed suit.

He was just damn glad Giles was still doing his circuit of the world, searching for other Slayers and surviving Watchers. The guy would probably polish right through his glasses.

Chapter 2

Xander pulled onto the highway. The beat-up old station wagon was probably older than he was, but it ran, and it had been incredibly cheap.

With most of their worldly possessions in the crater that was once Sunnydale, they certainly weren't in a position to be picky about it.

He glanced at Angel out of the corner of his eye. The former vampire was looking out the window, his hand resting on the sawed-off, lever- action shotgun that rested on the floor beside him.

A look in the rearview revealed Buffy looking thoughtfully at Angel, her face a turmoil of emotions. Willow was curled up at the opposite end of the back seat, with a thoughtful expression on her face while a worried-looking Kennedy snuggled up against her.

"So, why are we going to Oxnard?" Buffy asked.

"To pick up a few things," Xander replied.

"What things?"

"Just some stuff I left behind from my Kerouac trip," he said shortly.

"Like what?" Buffy prodded.

"Weapons," Angel answered quietly. "He has a sizable armory stashed away there."

Xander whipped his head around in surprise, "You know about that?"

"Eyes on the road!" Buffy shouted.

Angel didn't seem perturbed. He just nodded. "Yeah, I do. Seven years from now, you retrieved that gear and used it to start the rebellion."

"Okay, could you not do that?" Xander hissed.

Angel blinked, "Do what, sir?"

In the back seat, Buffy, Willow, and Kennedy stared, while Xander shook his head. It was still weird hearing Angel call him "sir."

Xander shook it off, "Talk about things I haven't done yet in the past tense. It's freaking me out."

Angel grinned, "Sorry, sir."

"And what is with the 'sir'?!"

Buffy was staring. Angel. Grinning. He looked... odd.

Angel sighed, and after a moment, he said, "Xander, I've fought under your command for over thirty years. You taught me a lot -- small unit tactics, how to use artillery, allocation of resources -- stuff I'd never even considered. I respect the things you've done."

Xander shook his head, "But I haven't done any of that yet."

"Maybe not, but you will. Besides, even by now, you already saved the world at least twice... and you're still the only human to survive standing up to Angelus unarmed."

"WHAT?!" Buffy blurted out.

Xander winced at Buffy's outcry as he racked his brain. What was Angel talking about?

"Wait, twice?" Willow asked, frowning. "I know once, 'cause he kinda saved it from me, but what about the other time?"

"Yeah, Angel, what are you talking about?" Xander asked. "I don't remember..." he froze as he remembered Jack and the bomb. "No," he shook his head in denial. "No, I wouldn't have told you."

Angel shrugged and said softly, "You were pretty drunk at the time. We'd taken heavy casualties the day you told me."

"What are you two talking about?" Buffy demanded.

Turning to look at her, Angel asked, "Remember the Sisterhood of Jhe?"

"Yeah?" Buffy said, wondering where her ex-boyfriend was going with this.

"Well," Angel said, obviously enjoying Xander's discomfort, "long story short, while we were in the library trying to close the Hellmouth, our hidden savior here was busy keeping a gang of zombies from blowing us all up. If it weren't for him, we'd all be dead before we could close the Hellmouth."

"Okay, okay, fine," Xander hissed. "What about that nonsense about standing up to Angelus?"

Angel blinked in surprise. "Don't you remember?" He cleared his throat and said, "'If I decide to walk into Buffy's room, do you think for one microsecond that you could stop me?'"

"Holy shit," Xander murmured, stunned and a little pale. "That totally slipped my mind."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Willow said. "You... you... you face down the Scourge of Europe -- one of the most feared vampires in, like, ever -- unarmed, and it slips your mind?"

"What's the big deal?" Xander asked, shaking his head. "We face death like that all the time. Scourge of Europe or not, Buffy's ex or not, you were still a vampire, Deadboy. No more, no less."

"Could you not call me that?" Angel growled. "I'm not a vampire anymore."

Xander nodded and said with a smirk, "Okay, Liveboy."

Angel groaned.

Meanwhile, Buffy had gone quiet, looking at Xander thoughtfully.


"Why are we pulling into a strip joint?" Willow asked, frowning.

"This is where I worked that one summer," Xander said, climbing out of the car.

"You WHAT?" Willow sputtered, scrambling out of the car. Xander studiously ignored her and led the way to the dance bar and pounded on the door.

"We're closed!" came an accented voice from within.

"Hey, Maria, it's me!"

The door cracked open, and a Hispanic woman peered out, "Alexander?"

"Hola," Xander said with a small wave.

Her eyes widened in shock, "Madre de dios! What happened to your eye?"

He shrugged and said dryly, "Sunnydale's nightlife got a little feisty. I'm here for my stuff."

Maria nodded, but she didn't move to open the door. Instead, her eyes tracked to the rest of the group.

Xander followed her gaze, then looked back at Maria, "It's okay, Maria. They're with me."

She nodded and opened the door, waving them in wordlessly.

Chapter 3

"Will you be staying tonight?" Maria asked. "The girls will want to see you."

Xander shook his head, "Can't take that risk, Maria. We've got something hunting us, and it's tough. Hell, I don't even know if my stuff'll be enough."

"Here's your stuff, kid," Tom -- the bouncer -- said, as he and Ricardo -- Maria's husband and co-owner of Maria's Nightclub -- carried a metal chest in.

"Thanks," Xander said, crouching and popping open the trunk. Angel crouched beside him as they tallied the inventory.

"What've we got?" Angel asked.

"See for yourself," Xander said, waving at the trunks contents: four Beretta 9mm sidearms, four Colt 1911s, two SPAS-12 shotguns, two P-90 submachine guns, and an M-16 with a mounted M-203 grenade launcher.

It was quite an arsenal. But it still might not be enough.

"The nines aren't gonna do any good, maybe not the forty-fives either," Angel said, shaking his head. "The shotguns are good. They'll put it down, at least for a while. The grenade launcher'll be a big help."

"Good," Xander nodded. "You know how to clean and maintain a gun?"

"Learned from the best," Angel smiled, nodding back at Xander.


Across the room, two Slayers and a witch sat, taking in the layout. The place was scrupulously clean, the drinks behind the bar locked away. A sign near the entrance announced Happy Hour from seven to eight and Ladies' Night on Tuesdays.

Willow's gaze drifted to the... well, "stage" was the only word she could think of for it. It was a simple design, with two islands -- each with poles to the ceiling -- connected to the back by walkways, elevated about three feet off the ground. She bit her lip as the image of Xander dancing up there popped into her mind's eye. Suddenly, it felt awfully warm.

Oh, she definitely remembered the Speedo incident.

The veteran Slayer's gaze, on the other hand, was fixated on the two men examining the weapons cache.

Angel. Her first love. He was so... different from the man... -pire she had known in high school. Different, even, from the person who'd defended Faith from her and the one who'd given her the amulet. The first was brooding, the second was righteous, and the third was jealous and oh-so-human. This Angel... he was... bitter. Not brooding, not tortured, but bitter.


And she couldn't shake the feeling that he was angry at her.

Xander. Her best friend, her emotional rock, the one who had always been there for her even when she'd tried her hardest to push him away. The revelations on the road had shaken her image of him. Now, she shamefully admitted to herself that she had considered him useless.

Only now was she realizing just how wrong she'd been.

Finally, the brunette was watching Willow closely, wondering what was going through her girlfriend's mind.

*Why did I even come?* she wondered. *I barely know Xander.* She shook her head and scolded herself, *He's Willow's best friend; that should be enough for me, and even if it wasn't, he saved my life. I owe him.*

Kennedy bit her lip. She owed him for a lot more than her life and his eye. He had faced down a legendary vampire, unarmed. He had saved the world, twice. And if what Angel said was right, he was going to do it again.

She -- and everyone else -- owed him for the world.

It was a lot more than she'd ever done, and she suddenly found herself wondering just how much of what she knew and assumed about "that guy who fixes the windows" was really true.

And what could drive Buffy and Willow to give up and risk everything for him?

Well, she was going to find out. See what kind of person he was that he could drive them to that.

Stepping aside, she caught Maria's sleeve and asked, "So, how did you meet Xander?"

That caught Buffy and Willow's attention, and they turned to look at them, their faces clearly asking as well.

Maria smiled, "He saved my life."

"Doesn't he always?" Willow said, a warm smile blooming on her face.

*She never smiles like that for me.* Kennedy guiltily squashed that jealous thought.

"Yes, he does make a habit of it, doesn't he?" Maria said with a chuckle, then sobered.


Maria was walking three of girls home. Two of her best girls had turned up dead recently, and she wasn't taking any chances.

"Well, looky here."

Maria and the girls stopped and turned. There were three of them, stalking toward them with the air of predators

But Maria had come prepared.

She snorted, drawing her revolver. "Three of you, six bullets. Seems to add up."

"Oh, please," one them smirked. "Go right ahead."

*Probably wearing body armor,* she surmised. That was the only reason they would be so cocky about a gun. Well, time to fix that. Her eyes narrowed as she leveled the weapon and fired, striking him in the side of the face.

"Bitch!" he snarled, clutching the wound. "That f***ing hurt!"

His companions were laughing at his pain, but Maria simply stared. This couldn't be happening. She leveled the gun again, but one of the others suddenly surged forward faster than she had imagined possible and snatched it out of her hands, tossing it aside.

End Flashback

"So what happened next?" Kennedy prodded.

Maria laughed, "That's when Alexander arrived. He was driving this old wreck of a car -- don't know how he kept it running -- and he rammed it into the vampires -- pinned them against the wall! -- then jumped out and killed them. He made up some stupid story about 'gang members on PCP.'" She snorted, "Where he came up with that, I don't know."

"Hey," Xander's voice interrupted, and they turned. "Time to go."

Chapter 4

"Shit!" Xander swerved the station wagon, and everyone ducked as bullets spider-webbed the windshield and flew out the rear window. The rickety old vehicle spun to the left, tires squealing.

The future Kennedy was waiting near the on-ramp, astride a motorcycle.

Angel rose and raised his shotgun. He broke the window with the weapon's stock and leveled it, unloading shell after shell into her, even as Xander floored the gas pedal.

Xander glanced at the rearview mirror and swore. "Shit! She's following us! Angel, drive!"

He didn't wait for the former vampire to respond, climbing half out the window -- glad he had left it open -- and raised the Colt .45. He fired a double tap and saw the bullets hit, but it didn't even slow her down.

Cursing, he shifted his aim... and had to grab hold of the station wagon's roof rack, dropping the gun on the roof as the vehicle suddenly swayed to the side. Xander paled as the eighteen-wheeler roared past him, its horn nearly deafening him.

"Damn!" he muttered, then thrust his hand back in through the window and called down. "Gimme another gun!"

When he felt the pistol grip press into his palm, he pulled it out and fired again.

The first shot missed.

The rear windows opened, and two of the girls -- he couldn't tell who -- began firing pistols back at the future Kennedy as well.

He ducked as the future Kennedy leveled an Uzi at him and opened fire, and he clung to the roof rack desperately as he struggled to keep from falling out of the car.

At sixty-five miles an hour, that would really hurt.

Steadying himself again, Xander leveled the gun and fired twice more.

Both shots missed, and Xander saw to his amazement that she was somehow steering the bike with one knee while using her hands to reload.

Gritting his teeth, he fired again, finally hitting his mark.

The motorcycle's front tire exploded, and the bike skidded out of control, finally veering off the highway and crashing through the guard rail.

Xander sighed in relief as he ducked back in.

"You should have let me take care of it," Angel said.

"Ah, shut it, Angel," Xander groused. He glanced at the rearview again, "Everyone okay back there?"

"Y-yeah," Kennedy stammered as she tried to get her heart back under control.

"W-we're okay," Buffy added, swallowing nervously. That had been... intense. She'd seen guns, used them, and been shot by one... but this was the first time she'd been in an actual gun fight.

More importantly, it was the first time her Slayer powers couldn't help at all.

It was unnerving.


Behind them, a tractor-trailer cab pulled over by the wreck, while the trucker called in the accident. Climbing out, he approached the small blaze.

"Hey, you okay?" he asked when he saw the woman stand up.

She looked at him... and stabbed him.

Retracting the Polgaran bone spear back into its concealed sheath in her arm, Kennedy commandeered the trucker's vehicle.


They first realized that there was something up with the big rig when it rammed them from behind.

"What the hell?!" Xander sputtered.

"It's her!" Willow called, peering out the back.

"What does it take to kill that thing?!" Xander cried.

"If I knew, we wouldn't be running from her, now would we?" Angel shot back, his voice tight.

Automatic fire sounded, and Xander struggled with the wheel as a rear tire blew out. "Angel, get her off our backs, now!"

Angel nodded, leaning out the window and firing his twelve-gauge at the truck's radiator. He racked another shell and fired again, this time aiming for the truck's front right tire.

"Forget the damned shotgun!" Xander snapped. "Hit her with a grenade!"

"N-no, wait!" Willow said. "I-I've got it!" She turned in her seat and raised her hands. Latin came from her lips, and the truck exploded and careened off the highway.

Xander breathed a sigh of relief.

"Big gun, my ass, Will," Xander said, shaking his head. "You're a freakin' nuke."


"We're gonna have to ditch the car," Xander said as the pulled into the gas station. "It's a miracle I managed to get it here with the flat."

"What happened here?"

They turned.

"Umm... can I help you, officer?" Xander asked, his face a mask of innocence.

The police officer frowned suspiciously, then glanced at the bullet-ridden car. "Can I see some ID?"

Xander glanced at Angel, who nodded almost imperceptibly. Xander reached inside his pocket, and Angel lashed out, bringing two hundred years' worth of fighting experience to use and disabling the cop swiftly.

"C'mon!" Xander said. "Load up!" He grabbed a handful of guns from the station wagon and raced toward the patrol car.

Only to be stopped by another officer pointing a Glock in his face.

"Put the weapons down," the cop said. "You're under arrest."

Chapter 5

"So, where'd you get the weapons, Mister Harris?" Lieutenant Andrea Montoya asked.

Xander scowled, "Please don't call me that."

"Fine, Alex," she said, gritting her teeth. "Where'd you get the weapons?"

"Would you believe E-Bay?" he cracked. "You'd be amazed what you can find on there. Y'know, my ex-fiancee once found-..."

Montoya slammed her fist on the desk angrily, then waved a sheaf of papers in her other hand. "I have here reports of weapons -- with serial numbers matching the ones we found in your car -- being stolen -- along with an anti-tank weapon -- from an Army base in Sunnydale nearly six years ago! This was an inside job, Harris. Who was your contact?"

Xander snorted, "If you really think that, you haven't seen the security there."


"I'm a friend of Xander Harris," Kennedy said to the man at the desk. "I was told he was here. Could I see him please?"

"No," the desk sergeant said, shaking his head. "You can't see him. He's being questioned right now."

"Where is he?"

"Look," the sergeant shot her an exasperated look, "it may take a while. If you want to wait, there's a bench over there." He pointed with his pen.

Kennedy peered over the desk and down the corridor, then looked at the desk sergeant again.

"I'll be back."

She turned and left, and it was at that point that it occurred to the sergeant that she looked familiar.

"Wait a minute, wasn't she one of the perps nailed with that Harris guy?"

His eyes widened, and he tried to scramble out of the way when he saw the headlights careening toward him.


Crack! Crack! Crack!

Montoya's head jerked up at the familiar sound.

"You stay here," she shot a look at Xander. She glanced at the other officer. "Watch him. Shoot him in the leg if he tries anything."

"Yes, ma'am."


Crack! Crack! Crack!

"What do you think is going on?" Willow asked worriedly. That strange cracking sound had started, and the guard had bolted. "And what's that noise? It almost sounds like..."

"Gunfire," Angel said softly. He looked at Buffy and Kennedy, "That's probably the assassin. We have to get out of here and find Xander. Now."

Buffy shook her head. "B-break out of jail?"

Kennedy made the argument moot. She rose and walked up to the cell door, then slammed her fist into the lock, breaking it. She slid the door open and turned to the others, "C'mon, time's wasting."


Kennedy strode down the hallway. Pistol fire echoed.

"Is it a terrorist or something?" someone asked. He didn't live to hear the answer as Kennedy cut him down with her Uzi.

"Move it, move it, move it, move it!" one of the senior officers called, waving his hand in signal and opening fire.

Kennedy didn't flinch and fired off the last of the Uzi's ammo into him.

"I got her! I got her!" one called, raising a shotgun. The twelve- gauge blast threw her against the wall, but she shook it off and drew the .45 long-slide. The laser sight settled on the officer's forehead for but an instant before she pulled the trigger.

She paused and looked at the panel in the wall. She clenched her fist and punched through the panel, then ripped out the power cables.

The building went dark.


Xander was drumming his fingers on the desk when the lights died. He sat up and looked at the officer watching him suspiciously.

"Uh, you know, I hate to be the one to point this out, but it looks like things are getting a little out of hand out there."

"Shut up!" the officer snapped.


"Let's go!" Montoya called as she turned the key. Opening the armory, she hauled out an M-16 and turned.

"Hey!" she called, firing on the intruder.

*What the hell?* she wondered, stunned as the bullets slammed into her target without slowing her down. The muzzle of the intruder's gun flashed, lighting up the hallway like a strobe, and as the bullet struck her, Montoya thought she recognized the intruder.

It looked like one of the perps who'd been arrested with Harris.

And darkness claimed her.


Xander blinked as the officer slumped to the ground, unconscious, then looked up and reflexively caught the P-90 Angel tossed at him.

They must not have had time to get them to the impound yet.

"Let's go, sir. It's here."

He nodded and followed.


Kennedy stepped out the back door, and her electronic eyes scanned the vehicle as it raced away. She opened fire, but the vehicle was quickly out of range. She turned away and looked for transportation.

She'd pick up the trail later.


Chapter 6

Five people hurried to the hotel room. Two of them were men with dark hair, and the other three were women: one blonde, one redhead, and a third who hurried between them, dressed in an all-concealing abaya.

When they were finally secure in the room, Kennedy doffed the abaya and hurled it on the bed in frustration.

"This is driving me insane!" she hissed.

"Oh, it's not that bad," Willow said, trying to cheer her up.

"Easy for you to say!" Kennedy snapped "You're not the one with her face plastered all over the news for wiping out a police precinct!"

Xander shook his head, "Listen, Angel and I'll head out, get some supplies. The rest of you stay here."

"No," Buffy said. "That thing's after you, Xander. I'll go with Angel."


"What happened to us, Angel?" Buffy asked timidly as Angel drove.

Startled by the question, he hesitated, trying to figure out what to say.

Finally, he replied, "You tried to kill me."

"What?" Buffy sputtered.

"You've been a Slayer too long, Buffy," Angel explained. "It's why the Watchers did the Cruciamentum. You've been a Slayer so long that the Slayer's demon roots are taking hold. When the revolution came, both you and Faith... you were too far gone."

"We sided with them," Buffy murmured, stunned, slumping back in her seat.

"Yeah. You did."

They lapsed into silence.


The hotel door opened, and Buffy stepped inside, her arms wrapped around some grocery bags. Angel backed in behind her, one hand in his pocket and the other holding another bag. He closed the door and put the bag down on the table.

"Listen, I got some other stuff. Should be able to make some explosives out of them."

"Angel," Xander said.

"Enough for five, six, maybe seven bombs."


He whirled and saluted, "Sir!"

Xander let out a sigh and said, "We've got an idea."

"I-I can reverse the spell," Willow said. "I did it, so I should be able to undo it, right?"

Angel shook his head, "That's what you thought, when things started going wrong. You died trying, about four years from now."

"Oh," Willow said, her shoulder sinking. "Well, there goes that idea."


"Mmm... wha-?" Willow murmured as she was shaken from her sleep.

"Willow, wake up," Xander said.

The witch blinked her eyes open and sat up, "What is it, Xander?"

"Okay," Buffy groused from across the room. "So we're all up. Mind telling us what's going on now, Xander?"

"Okay, okay," Xander said. "Just bear with me, okay? It's just, I couldn't sleep, y'know, and I got to thinking. I-it just sorta hit me."

"What hit you, Xander?" Willow asked curious.

"Well, here it is. They sent that Kennedy-thing back to kill me, right?" Xander said. "To change things. And they made sure we couldn't just stop the mass Calling. What Angel's told us has already changed things. Willow won't die trying to reverse the Calling, right?"

"So?" Buffy asked.

"So? Don't you get it?" he looked around. "The future is not set. The fact that all this happened is proof enough of that. There is no fate. No fate but what we make. We're not up against prophecy here, with all the vagueness that keeps us from changing it. We've got detailed, first-hand accounts of everything." He looked at Angel, "We can stop this. Kill the leaders of this thing before it takes off."

Buffy stared, "Xander, you're talking about murder."

"I'm talking about saving the human race," Xander snapped. He looked at Willow, "'The needs of the many...'"

"'...outweigh the needs of the few,'" Willow finished the quote softly, nodding slowly in dawning understanding.

"Won't work," Angel shook his head slowly. "You'll have to stop Asmodeus first, and I don't know how we can do that."

Xander blinked, "Who's Asmodeus?"

"Asmodeus, the Destroyer," Angel explained. "He's a demon. Somehow, he got into the internet, hacked his way into the military computers, and triggered a nuclear war." He shook his head, "Xander, you had a theory as to how he did it, but you never told me what it was."

"Moloch," Buffy, Xander, and Willow said simultaneously.

"Uh, who's Moloch?" Kennedy asked.

"Willow's first boyfriend," Xander said flippantly.

Kennedy looked at her, "What?"

"Well, how was I was supposed to know he was an evil demon scanned from a book onto the internet?" Willow said defensively.

"You met him on the internet, Will," Xander said. "That should have set off at least a few alarm bells. You only knew him for a few days, for crying out loud!"

Willow pouted, and Buffy and Xander chuckled, but Xander's mirth died as something occurred to him.

"Wait, wait, wait," Xander said, "if he launched the nukes, that must mean he got scanned into a military computer. That stuff's not physically connected to the civvie 'net. If he were scanned in on a civilian computer, he wouldn't be able to get to the nukes."

"How do you know that?" Willow asked, frowning.

Xander blinked, then shrugged, "I guess it's the soldier boy memories coming back."

"But who would scan a demon book into a military computer?" Kennedy asked, frowning.

There was a long pause, and Buffy, Xander, and Willow once again spoke simultaneously.

"The Initiative."