Of Faith And Horsemen

Author: Anime Ronin <anime_ronin[at]hotmail.com>

Summary: Faith has just arrived in Sunnydale and finds 'The Pale Rider' (and I'm not talking about the Clint Eastwood movie).

Rating: R (mentions of rape and some bad language)

Disclaimer: I own nothing, so deal with it.

AN: Okay, we're going to fast-forward a few months, nine to be precise, and here's the score; Buffy never bailed, Jenny was never killed, Cordy isn't a Scooby (doesn't fit in with the story – sorry all you C/X'ers out there) and Kendra died on her way to Sunnydale in a plane crash. And before you say/rant anything about it, Methos has changed Xander in ways that, at times, he is slightly British (prefers tea and loved BBC) – NO FLAMES!

AN2: To Jwolf: I just read your review after finishing this part. I just joined the Yahoogroup for XZ and am making my way through the archives, so as I have not found it yet, cool idea. However, this is Methos in his 'Adam Pierson' day that was in Xander on Halloween, not in his 'Death on a Pale Horse' day. Oh, and I know that it will seem like I'm skipping a huge gap in time here, but explanations of what's been going on these months will be in this chapter and in a few to come. AR.

AN3: In this Buffy-verse, Highlander is a television show and a series of movies; the Highlander-style Immortals don't exist ... yet, and when they do, it will be in limited numbers.. (Note, in this world, however, there will be no Game. It's a stupid concept for this world, so it's been 86-ed.)

AN4: Before I forget, kudos to Peter Wingfield for the portrayal of Highlander's Adam Pierson / Methos; he's an actor of high caliber and had helped bring a character for all seasons to life in the form of the Really Old Guy.

Feedback: As I have seen it put elsewhere, it's the coin of the realm. Flames will be dealt with accordingly, generally used to toast marshmallows and cook hotdogs, but helpful criticism is appreciated.

Chapter 1

Faith stepped off the bus that had been driving cross-country from St. Louis for the majority of the day and night, stretching as she did; she may have been The Slayer and all that, but the seats on the bus were wicked uncomfortable, and the company on said bus just flat-out sucked.

She'd been sent to Sunnydale by her dying Watcher, Linda, and told to find Rupert Giles, the trainer of the previous Slayer's predecessor, Buffy Summers; she had loved Linda like a mother and took the words to heart, but the pain of seeing her dead, let alone how she died, was still way too fresh for her to try and shuck off. So she had followed her orders, for that is exactly what they were, orders, and had hitched a ride to Sunnydale with the last of her cash – she didn't like to think of how she would have to earn more cash, but without a high school diploma and no real skills, the options were few and rather nasty.

"HELP ME!" Nobody flinched as somebody came running up the street, but Faith walked towards the screamer slowly, her fingers reaching into her leather jacket and removing a stake because her Slayer Sense was indicating the guy was a vamp.

The runner saw her advancing and began pleading for help, "Slayer, ya gotta help me. He's after me."

"Who's after ya, fang face? Santa and his little elves?"

"NO! The Pale Rider's after me. Please, help me."

Faith smiled sincerely, "Sure, buddy. I'll help ya." She slammed her stake into his chest and watched him dissolve into dust, "There, now you don't have to worry about this Pale Rider." Of course she had heard of The Pale Rider – rumors in the demonic underground had this guy pegged as the baddest of the bad as far as demon hunters went; some said he was a pissed- off angel seeking justice, others said he was a demon seeking some sort of salvation, but the one she and Linda were led to believe was that he was an all-business human hunter who used brute force and finesse in equal proportions.

Continuing her walk up the street, she sees the guy the vamp was running from and had to admit that he had some sweet moves; kicks and punches that snapped bones and joints, cuts with his sword that took off limbs and heads like a sell-out crowd at a Sox game went after the lone Yankees fan sitting in their midst – ruthlessly (AN: I am an Astros fan first, then a Red Sox fan – the Yankees can kiss my six for all I care.) Finally, when all that was around him was dust and the dumpsters said dust was settling on, she approached him in a totally non-threatening manner, her eyes widening when she got a good look at him.

He was young, maybe her age or a bit older, with dark brown hair that was cropped close in an almost-Military fashion, dark brown eyes that searched into her very soul with their depth, yet he had a happy air about him that bespoke of an actual sense of humor and a grin quirking his lips as he looked her up and down as she did the same to him. His clothes were strictly utilitarian – jeans, a t-shirt, a pair of boots and a leather jacket that missed the ground by about three or four inches, but that was not what was making her really notice – her Slayer Sense was going ballistic, basically telling her to run very far away and very quickly, that this guy was wicked bad news.

"And you would be whom, my dear? Certainly not a vampire, so perhaps a Slayer?" His voice was warm, if slightly on the sardonic side, and carried both a weight and an edge that made her realize that he knew exactly who she was.

"Yeah, I am. Faith."

"Alexander, but please, as we are all friends here, call me Alex." He opened his coat and slid the sword, which looked as to be a hand-and-a-half sword, into what appeared to be a sheath into the left inside of said jacket, "Now, Faith, why are you here?"

"I was sent to find Rupert Giles. You know him?"

"Yes, I do know the G-man about as well as any straight man can. Faith, may we take this conversation somewhere less ... uninviting? There is coffee shop not a block from here and, to tell you the truth, I am somewhat parched from all of this dust."

She eyed him in a slightly suspicious manner, "You buying?"

"But of course." He walked to her in a way that reminded her of either a Slayer or a hunting cat, his feet making little or no noise and his eyes were sweeping the darkness around them like those of a hawk.

In a few minutes they were sitting down with coffee at the Java Hut, a new place, apparently, and for some odd reason, Faith found herself trusting this guy who might or might not have been the baddest mf'er on the block, so she took a chance, "So, are you really him? Are you this Pale Rider?"

Alex smiled, "Yeah, little ol' me is the guy that scares demons and vamps around here more than the Slayer. Go figure." He took a sip of his coffee before he went on, "You do know that Kendra's predecessor is still alive, right?"

"Yeah. You work with her?"

Alex chuckled mirthlessly, "Not anymore. In her typically overly-dramatic way, she kicked me out of her little glee club for dusting her undead fucktoy about nine months back." He struck a wounded pose, "Oh, however am I going to find the strength to soldier on?"

Faith found herself smiling at his antics, liking that The Pale Rider was an alright kind of guy when he was off the clock, of course it didn't hurt that he wasn't exactly hard on the eyes to begin with, "Oh, I'm sure you'll find some way or another if even half the rumors I hear about you are true." At his questioning look she goes on, "You raid nests on your own and sack them for everything valuable, you have several businesses and you're a genius in the stock markets."

He smiled before draining the last of his coffee, "Okay, I'll cop to the first and third, but I need to get my high school diploma before I can run a business."

Faith felt her jaw drop, "You're still in high school?"

"Yep, and that's exactly where we'll find G-man at this time of night." He rose to his feet and she drained her coffee, the pair of them walking into the night like a pair of wraiths that vanish into the night when the lights come on.


Faith sat in a chair, well, lounged in a chair while Alex sat on the edge of one of the tables, idly listening to the yells, rants, threats and the odd curse that B and Red, as she had dubbed Buffy and Willow, respectively, sent his way. She had to admit, the guy was cool as ice under the strain of the dueling windbags that never seemed to empty, she could see that it was beginning to wear on his patience a little as both G and Miss C, Jenny Calendar, walked in from G's office and sat next to Oz, who hadn't said a word yet.

"Are you two quite finished with your incessant yowling?" The nine words shut the two girls up and the positively British way they had been said hadn't come from Giles; Alex had timed his question perfectly as both B and Red took breaths before launching into another tirade. When they didn't respond, he nodded, "Good. Giles, is everything kosher with Faith's story?"

"Yes, I have confirmed Faith's story and the fact that she is a Slayer." He looked at her for a second and then removed his glasses, polishing them, "Did Linda tell you why you were sent to me?"

"Yeah. She said that you were going to train me." She wanted to keep her answers nice and simple.

"Giles, does he have to be here?" Buffy was pointing at Alex and he merely shot her the finger in return, which made Faith smirk, an expression that was mirrored by Miss C.

"For the time being, Buffy, yes. Now, Xander,"


"Er, yes, Alex how is everything?"

"It's green, G-man."

Faith smiled at him, recognizing the line, "Super Green?"


"Faith, do you have a place to stay yet?"

"No, but I got some Council money to get a motel with."

"Out of the question." Everyone looked at Alex oddly, "I've seen and lived in the motels in this town and they suck, not to mention that any vamp can walk in uninvited. She can stay with me, free of charge and only one string of a non-sexual manner."

"And that is?"

Alex smiled, "She enrolls in Sunnydale High so that we can keep an eye on her and she can get her education at least."

Even as B and Red 86-ed that idea, Faith was touched. Here was a guy she had known for less than an hour offering her a room at his place, free and with no sex strings; it went against everything she had ever learned about guys, how they wanted to get some and then get gone, but from the look in his eyes and the tone in his voice, not to mention that only B and Red were against the idea, he seemed to be on the level.

"Are you sure, Alex?" Everyone turned to look at her, "I mean, I don't want to impose."

He laughed lightly, "Faith, I have six empty rooms that are ready for occupancy and that doesn't count the half dozen others I have for me and my stuff; trust me, you won't be imposing."

"You can't just move into his mansion like you own it, Xander!" B snapped at Alex, or Xander as she called him, her face livid.

"Of course I can, Buffy. I bought it two months after you kicked me out of your little club of ego massagers with money I took from vamps and demons in their own lairs, along with the proceeds from artifacts and tomes also taken from them." His voice was now lacking the friendly tone that had been there all night and his eyes were like ice; he wasn't playing and Faith found this side of Alex slightly endearing. "Aside from that, it is Faith's choice if she wishes to move in with me. Neither you nor I can make it for her, just as I cannot control your life and you cannot control mine, even if I were still just normal, pitiful Xander Harris."

"No, you're not Xander Harris anymore; you're a five thousand year old murdering bastard. That is what you are!"

Faith blinked in shock; five thousand years old? Him? If he could vote she was a nun.

His chuckle was like an arctic wind cutting through the streets of Boston, "Oh, is that what this is all about? The loss of your undead paramour? Wake up and smell the nineties, Elizabeth; I don't care what you think about me, what I do or what I have done. Hell, you didn't think twice to accept someone who earned a title that wasn't even bestowed on a man who caused the butcher of over six million people, yet I kill one damned vampire, who, by the way, at the time was without his soul, hence he was fair game for any and all who wanted to stake him, and I am a murderer?" Alex stood and pulled on his jacket, scribbling down something on a slip of paper before walking over and handing it to Faith, "Here's the address. I'll be up for a few more hours, so just ring the bell. If you're later, get G-man's key."

"No need, Alex. I'm blowing this pop stand."

"Before you leave, Faith, I must ask why you have accepted Alex's offer after all you have heard here tonight?" Miss C's question was brimming with genuine curiosity, so Faith felt inclined to answer it.

"After what I've heard tonight, he seems like the kind of guy I can be around and not want to kill. We both see the world in the same way – not black and white, but in shades of gray, and not to mention that if he pisses off Queen B this much and is still alive, he can't be all bad or boring to be around. C-ya!" Faith followed a chuckling Alex out of the Library even as Mount St. Buffy exploded yet again that night, only this time she was added into the curses and snarled threats. Faith couldn't help the fact that the bottle blonde semi-Slayer was pissed – it wasn't her fault if she was right.


"ARGH!" Faith found herself sitting upright in the bed of the room that Alex had been kind enough to set her up in, panting and feeling her heart trying it's level best to pound it's way out of her chest. It took a few minutes, but she was able to get it under control, which is when the smell of ... chocolate ... hit her nose and caused her to look over and see Alex, still fully-clothed, sitting in a chair and holding a mug of hot chocolate out to her.

She took it wordlessly, remembering when Linda used to do the same thing back in Boston, and then looked back over at Alex, "Why? How did you? What?"

He smiled at her before counting off on his fingers, "I was passing by earlier when I heard you having your nightmare, so I fixed you a cup and merely waited for you to wake up. I know what it is like after a particularly bad terror, so I took a chance on the drink selection. I was sitting up and reading, couldn't sleep so I went down to fix me a cup of hot chocolate. Does that answer your questions in that order?"

Faith took a sip of the chocolate and nodded, not trusting herself to speak right at that point or caring that he was fully dressed and she was clad only in her panties and a borrowed tank top, as he didn't either care or seem to notice. After a few minutes she looked back up at him and saw that he was still there, waiting patiently, "Thank you."

"You're welcomed, Faith. Is there anything you want to talk to me about?"

She felt a small smile tug at her lips, "What, are you a doctor as well as a demon hunter?"

He smiled, "No, I am not, but Methos was in several of his past identities."

She looked at him oddly, "Methos?"

He nodded, "Alright, let's start at the beginning; Halloween '97 I dressed as the Immortal Methos from that show Highlander – you ever see it?" At her nod, he went on, "Well, for a few hours he was in charge, I WAS Methos, but then the spell was broken and I was me again, Xander Harris. Anyway, a few months later a Master Vampire named Angelus killed me and somehow my temporarily being Methos had made me into a pre-Immortal, so I came back ... sort of. He was in charge again while I dealt with another past possession who, at the time, had been a major pain in the ass but was downgraded to being a minor pain in the ass, and explained things to the others until I won and we merged; I am both Alexander Harris and Methos – all five thousand years plus of him, memories included." She saw his eyes darken slightly, more than slightly actually, and waited for him to continue, "He was no saint, Faith; Methos and three others inspired a book in the Bible in their world, Revelations to be precise, as the Four Horsemen and Methos was Death on a Pale Horse, hence my name – The Pale Rider."

"You're shitting me."

"I shit you not, Faith. At first it didn't bother me; I slept okay for a few nights after the spell, but then the nightmares and memories started hitting me like a fucking shit storm – take every horror film you've ever seen, substitute the demons for humanity at it's worst, add in personal combat and wars on scales that boggle the mind and the odd historic personality and then make that over five eons and that is the story of Methos in a nutshell. He survived not because he was the strongest or the fastest, but rather he survived because he was capable of being the most ruthless bastard on the planet when he had to be – if a situation got to hot, he left and felt little or no guilt about the people who got slaughtered, he backed those in power regardless of their politics and when he fought in the Game, he often fought dirtier than anyone ever conceived of."

"Sounds like you almost admire him, Alex."

He smiled, "In a way I do; he never took himself or others too seriously and often told them precisely where to get off if they got too uppity. He had a surprising moral code that was not often infringed upon but when it was he dealt with the person or group of people in ways that would make vamps cringe, he loved to have fun and he really loved to drink – on more than one occasion he went on benders that he lost entire months in and was fine within a few days time. Except for the bender thing, he and I aren't all that different under our masks."

"Yeah, I can see that." Faith knew all too well what he was talking about with the 'mask' statement – she had worn one for so long that it was surprising to her that while it never budged around other people, it was starting to slip around someone else who had stopped wearing their own, "Is that why they call you Xander and you prefer Alex?"

He nodded, "Partially. Xander Harris was the class clown, the goofball that everybody knew and only a few truly despised for any real reason other than he was what one could call a geek; Alex Harris is the guy under that mask – he's seen Humanity at it's worst and at it's best, he's been rarely praised for his actions and generally forgotten about by those who falsely call him friend. He flat ass doesn't care what people think about him, takes people down a peg or ten when they need to be and is particularly vicious about it and more when he needs to be. They are polar opposites in the same body, Faith, and that was before Methos arrived."

They sat in comfortable silence, sipping at their hot chocolates in peace until something from that night niggled at Faith's memory, "What did you mean that B kicked you out of her glee club?"

He smiled almost fondly at that, "Well, after I, or rather, Methos, killed Angelus, we merged and I stopped acting like one of her groupies; I disagreed with her when I felt like it, didn't apologize for anything I said or did, and I started hunting on my own to finance my extrication from my parent's house. She told me what amounted to it was her way or the highway and I left; I don't regret my actions, Faith. I still hunt on my own, I still talk with G-man, Jenny, Oz and even Willow on occasion, but I have never and will never regret what I have said or done with that group." He looked over at her, "So, enough about me – tell me about yourself: Likes, dislikes, favorite foods, clothes, music and the like."

She put her cup down on the nightstand next to her bed and edged back under the blankets, "Well, not much to tell, Alex; born and raised in Boston, a Red Sox fan for life,"

He cringed at those words and sighed, "Poor child."

She shot him a look, "Anyways, my family life sucked – mom was a junkie who died when I was about ten and dad... well," she felt her throat tighten up and a tear start to slide down her face. It had been bad that first time; he had been very rough and even worse he had told her that it would happen more often as she grew up.

A surprisingly gentle hand touched her face and wiped away the tear there; for a split second she felt as if it was Linda, as if she was telling her it was alright, but then the voice became male and she realized that it was Alex. She looked up at him and saw a comforting smile, "Thanks."

"No problems, Faith. Let's skip the family bit – I don't need any more of a reason to hop on the first jet bound for Boston to kill him."

Faith was touched by the sincerity in his voice; nobody other than Linda had ever stood up for her and even fewer had been so willing to do so even under better circumstances, "Alright, I like a good rare steak on occasion, hotdogs and pizza when I'm down, I despise broccoli in all forms, I hate people who aren't up front and I like them when they don't wear their masks around me." She graced him with a recently very rare full smile, to which he returned a two-finger salute ala the cub scouts, "I like hard rock and metal, I like leather pants and clothes that let me be me, I hate early morning that don't include food or cartoons and I also," her voice dropped off as she mumbled, "like chick flicks." She hoped he had not heard the last part, as it was totally against her image, but by his chuckle he had heard her and didn't care.

"Well, except for the leather part of the wardrobe, only occasionally liking some chick flicks and adding in country music for when I am very down, we're not all that different, you and I." He gave her a strange smile, "So now we must mate and produce children that shall overtake the governments of the world."

Much to her horror, Faith found herself giggling like a madwoman; he was doing his level best to make her feel better and it was working too! "Alex, you're weird."

"I'm not weird, Faith. I'm normal and so are you– it's the rest of the people on this planet that are messed up."

Faith felt herself smile again but then yawned hugely, "Sorry."

"Not a problem." Alex put a hand on her throat and pressed for a second; whatever he was doing it made Faith feel the world slipping away from her as he moved back and pulled the comforter up under her chin. Even as the world went black around her she heard him mumble from her doorway, "Sleep well, my dark-haired beauty. The world will look better in the morning."

Even as she went under, Faith hoped he was right.


Faith awoke slowly, letting the warmth of the sun streaming in from the westward-facing windows wash over her; she had just experienced the best sleep she'd had in a while and it was something she could get used to doing – she wasn't sure if it was Alex talking to her or that thing he did with her neck, but whatever he did, it worked.

**Wait a second. West?** She looked over at the window and saw that, yes, the sun was sinking towards the horizon. She had slept all day, even if it was Saturday, or was it now Sunday? Getting out of bed and quickly dressing, she padded down the halls of the mansion to the main room, where she was met with an astonishing sight – Alexander Harris, The Pale Rider, hanging upside down in an aura of blue and in an lotus position, "What the fuck?"

That was all it took, apparently, to break his concentration and send him crashing to the ground, where he landed on his upper shoulders and, thankfully, not his neck; he may have been Immortal, but he was also his host, "Oh, that hurt."

"You alright, Alex?"

"Peachy," came the somewhat sarcastic reply.

"What were you doing up there? HOW were you up there?"

He stood up and massaged a bruised shoulder that was becoming less bruised as the seconds ticked by, "I was centering myself, and I was using magic. Methos was never that good of a magician, but I figured that I might be able to do better, so for the past few months I've been trying the small stuff – fireballs, telekinesis, even a few blessings and curses that I have put on my sword."

"Why'd you curse your sword? Wouldn't that, y'know, make it less effective?"

"Different kind of curses, Faith. Did you know there are curses that cause the afflicted to take more damage, or to make it to where they can't see past the end of their own noses?"

She smiled slightly, "No, but I bet you did."

"No, I didn't, but Methos did – he once pissed off Merlin of Camelot in one of his past identities and was cursed to have or find trouble wherever he went. The curse held for a few years until the old fart died, but it worked like a charm."

"What was his name back then, Arthur?"

Alex smiled smugly, "No, Lancelot." He smiled more smugly as Faith registered the name with a look of horror, "Apparently, Gwenivere wasn't that good between the sheets, but she was rather free with whom she shared said sheet with." Alex chuckled, "And the best part was that Arthur never knew that she was getting banged practically everyone else in the castle but him half of the time – man or woman."

"That's wrong on too many levels."

Alex shrugged, "Well, that was Methos' world and from what I remember, it was very different than this world's Camelot." He walked to the kitchen where there was a large roast and vegetables, without broccoli, cooked up, "I figured you'd be hungry this evening, so I took the –"he may have said something else after that, but Faith was not listening, but instead was starting to attack the roast and vegetables.

Three trips back to the stove for more later and several slices of bread to sop up the natural gravy from the roast, Faith felt full for the first time in a while and let out a celebratory belch with satisfaction, "Damn that was good."

"Thank you," came Alex's dry reply as he took a sip of his red wine as he ate at what was left on his plate. "So, aside from full, how do you feel, Faith?"

She thought back to the previous night and couldn't help but smile, "Better than I've felt in a while, Alex. How'd you do that to me? Make me go to sleep like that, I mean?"

"It's an older version of acupressure – instead of the nerve strikes used in combat, which were developed from this form, I merely massaged several nerves in the neck that help ease the muscles and slow the blow of blood to the brain. Completely harmless, really, but if done too hard, it can slow the blood too much and cause either a seizure or a stroke ... or acting like a bleached blonde your entire life."

"Like B, you mean." It was a fair shot – Faith could never figure out why people weren't proud of their hair color and wanted to go blonde.

"Among others." They shared a grin and she stretched out, "So, what's gonna happen now?"

"For tonight, we do nothing more than rest, but tomorrow we start some basic training and then we'll get you kitted out for school." She grimaced at that and remembered the one concession he had wrung out of her staying here, which she had agreed to.

"Can I move out now?"

"Not a chance, toots."


"Alex, can I ask a question about Methos?" Had anybody looked in on them, they would have seen a pair of young people doing their level best to kill each other in hand to hand combat; as it stood, Faith and Alex were just having a friendly spar after dinner.

"I can't say I'll answer, but go ahead."

"Did anybody know who Methos really was? About the whole Death On A Pale Horse thing?"

"Some did and then later wished they hadn't; he was kinda pissed about some of their recriminations, actually. It was a different time and a different world with different moral views – granted, we still killed people, but it's no different from what mortals are doing today with their supposed 'Police Actions' and Ethnic Cleansing."

"Alright, I get that he didn't like people judging him, but what about you? Did people ever judge Alexander Harris?"

"Every time they saw me they saw my father." Alex took a step back and stopped fighting, "He's the town drunk and they have me pegged for taking his place, but I'll never be like him – ever."

"Sounds rough." Faith could tell he had some issues to resolve and tried the same technique he had used on her the previous night, "They underestimate you."

"More than they will ever know. I guess Methos and I aren't all that different – we both have been judged all of our lives from our pasts, but we want to be judged by what we do now." He stopped, looked slightly confused, and then began to chuckles, "Gods, I sound schizophrenic saying we and I in the same sentence."

"Don't worry, Alex, I'll keep your secrets." That done, she took a swipe at him and was promptly deposited on her back with a lightning fast move that had her seeing stars for a second.

"Nice try on the sneak attack, and an even nicer one with helping me with my own inner demons, though it may help for you to not to try and use self- leading techniques I have perfected over the last few dozen centuries." With an overly smug look on his face, he turned around and sauntered out of the 'training room', which was actually the garage.

Rat Bastard.


One week later – everything is kosher ...
but that's about to change

Looking over the list of components he had used for the spell and then over at the concoction it had produced, Alex knew that if he was right, he would be able to kill vampires with a bullet; if he were wrong, however, he would probably get himself shot when the Slow Decay/Dissolve potion ate through the bullet and ignited the propellant charge of the .45 caliber round he was using. He'd been trying to use magic more now that he had a basic idea of what to do, but most of what he knew was potions, entry-level spells and only one high-level spell that he had been forced to do once but in the process had managed to lose all of his hair in the process.

"Come on, old boy. You helped Sam Colt with his gun and this damned caliber so I figure he owes us something in return by letting this work." Pouring the potion into the Pyrex dish, one-by-one he slowly dipped the projectile's tip into the solution and set it aside to coat and dry; he'd run across an old spell of Merlin's that he, well, Methos, had swiped a few centuries before and it was basically something that made whatever a projectile covered in the potion hit slowly dissolve and decay into nothing but dust – he'd tested it on a shirt and it worked wonders, but he had also used a tennis ball, not a bullet. In theory, the bullets would enter the vampires and then be dissolved from the inside out.

"ALEX!" He jerked at the sound of Faith's scream, almost knocking over the entire box of bullets he had managed to do up to that point.

Rushing out into the den, he was shocked to find Faith, in her habitual hunting gear, shaking like a leaf and looking pale while Giles, Jenny and Buffy were all standing behind her, "Faith, what's wrong?" He walked over and embraced her in a hug that she shakily returned – she seemed to like hugs but if something shook her up this bad he'd have to talk her down, again, and that sometimes took hours.

"Kakistos is here. In Sunnydale." Her voice quavered in terror as she squeezed him harder.

"Damn." A few days ago he had managed to get the story of how she had come to leave Boston as she did without her Watcher she hadn't slept well since when he wasn't near. He had felt like a heel for reopening old wounds like that and like he was about to, but she needed her head in the game, "Shape up, Williams. He's a vampire. You're the Slayer. We go and find him and then you dust him so we can get back and use the Jacuzzi that got fixed today."

"I can't. He killed Linda. He'll kill me."

"And she's a Slayer? Pfft, she can't even deal with one vamp." Buffy's tone was snippy but she blanched when he, Giles and Jenny all glared at her with a look that reminded her of how she had not dealt with Angelus.

"Shut it, Summers." Faith's voice was now stronger, lacking fear and in it's place was a full-blown rage, "Alex is right – I slay him and then he and I can use the new Jacuzzi out back afterwards."

"Oh, can I join in?" Jenny smiled and winked at him, "I do so love a nice hot soak after a night of casting spells and hunting vampires."

"We skinny dip," Faith shot back even as Alex excused himself to gather some stuff he would need for the battle that was coming. It appeared he would get the chance to try out his new bullets a great deal sooner than he had hoped he would.

Slipping on his coat and placing a holster into place, he started loading the bullets he had enspelled into magazines for the Colt Custom he had scared up from Willy the Snitch; the weasel had tried to extort more out of him than the gun was worth, but Alex reminded Willy of a small threat he had made last time he had needed help and then produced a slip of paper to prove that the IRS would look into his establishment on his say so. Sometimes he really felt sorry for Willy, but as he slapped a magazine into the Colt Custom and racked the slide before putting it away, he grinned evilly, "But this isn't one of them."

With that done, he grabbed a few spell components that he might need in the instance that Kakistos had any lackeys with him and started mixing them, still grinning evilly. If the spell didn't kill him, Giles or Jenny probably would.


"So you're the guy they call the Greek Freak." He wasn't much to look at in all reality, but if the rumors were true then all normal forms of killing him short of decapitation and sunlight were out of the question, "Can't say that I am impressed."

"The Pale Rider." Kakistos' words made the thirty or so vampires, his Lieutenant included, turn white as sheets, which was an impressive fact with Mr. Trick being a black vampire, "So, we finally meet."

Alex yawned, "Yeah, we do. Forgive me for not finding you sooner, but I had more pressing matters to attend to, you understand; cleaning the cat box is something one must do every day to keep the smell from building up." His words had the desired effects – Kakistos paled with rage and Faith and the Scoobies all snickered, even Oz. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he removed the combined spell components and held them in his hand, "Well, here we are in your home, so I thought it best to bring you a fitting house warming gift."

"Your head and that of Faith on a silver platter? I'm touched, no really."

Alex could only smile frostily and began chanting in old Aramaic, "Giver of Life, Taker of Life, I beseech thee to cleanse this place of the unclean ones." With a mighty heave, he threw the bundle into the midst of the minions and hoped for the proper results.

The bag hit with a slight thump, but then exploded and belched out a ring of pure power that cut ever vampire within twenty feet, basically everyone but Kakistos and Mister Trick, in half and turned them into dust, but Alex had to force himself to stay on his feet – he'd called upon an old god to empower the spell and if memory served him well the god had a bone or two to pick with him.

"NO!" Kakistos snarled for a few minutes and then looked at Mr. Trick, even as Alex pulled his sword, "Kill him. Drain him dry!"

The fight between Alex and Mr. Trick was pitifully short by anyone's account; Mister Trick was armed with a switchblade in hopes of getting in a lucky shot on Alex, but soon found himself disarmed, quite literally, when Alex lopped off his leading arm at the elbow and then spun, slicing his other arm off at the shoulder. Not one for halfway measures, he took off Mr. Trick's legs at the mid-femur with is sword and then left the vampire to howl in agony as the blessed and cursed nature of his sword hit him like a ton of bricks. {Alright, I confess, I suck at fight scenes. If anyone else wants to write this one part, please do so and send it in -- I'll take the chapter down and put your part in. AR}

"Well, that was bracing."

"Magnificent," was all that Kakistos cold say for a moment before he went on. "You are the true epitome of a killer, Pale Rider. Join me, boy, and the world will be ours with you at my side."

Alex looked at him for a moment and then began to chuckle – it was a dead, mirthless sound that made Faith, who was walking up to stake Trick, stop for a moment and make even Trick shut up for that time, "Sorry, Junior, but I play second banana to nobody – vampire or otherwise." He pulled his Colt and drew a bead on the extremities of Kakistos, "And the name isn't 'by' – Call me Alexander." That said, he shot Kakistos once in each of his limbs and then once in the head for good measure.

"Bullets to not kill vampires, Xander. I thought you knew that." Giles' voice was exasperated even as Faith dusted Trick with a vengeful staking into the heart.

Before Alex could answer, though, Kakistos vented out a bellow of pure agony that caused everyone to look over; from the tips of his fingers to the tips of cloven feet, his skin was dissolving, leaving the muscles, tendons, ligaments and long-unused blood vessels exposed to the open air, but then those too began to dissolve and show the bleached bones – in under a minute the only thing left of Kakistos, the Greek Freak, was a pile of dust.

"Well shit fire and save the matches – they worked!" Alex went over to Faith, tears just starting to run down her face, and wrapped an arm around her as she collapsed into her side, "Let's go home – the Jacuzzi is waiting and we both need to unwind."


As it turned out, Alex and Faith would not get the chance to unwind in the hot tub because Buffy dragged them both back to the Library and demanded that they work with her; Faith had merely shot her the finger and Alex found himself ignoring her words, but when she threatened to kill them both Faith surged to her feet.

"Fuck you, Blondie. You didn't have the stones to take out your fucktoy and when Alex did you tried to take him out; we I have news for you it ain't gonna happen."

"Angel was a good person!"

"And Angelus WASN'T ANGEL!" Alex shot to his feet and snarled, "Get this through your head, bottle blonde; I DO NOT WORK FOR YOU! NEVER HAVE I ALLOWED YOU TO MAKE MY DECISIONS FOR ME!"

Buffy looked at Willow, "Shut them up."

"Belay that, Rosenberg." Everyone looked over to see a seventies pimp wanna-be in a loud colored suit and a hat, "Slayers, I got words for you two to listen to from the big chiefs in charge." He reached into his jacket and removed a scroll, opened it and cleared his throat, "Ahem – let it be known that Alexander Harris, also known as The Pale Rider and the keeper of the Quickening of Methos, is to not be the subject of any spell, ritual or rite by decree of The Powers That Be. Furthermore, Faith Williams is to be trained in the ways of the blade, as are others who will be mentioned at a later time, in hopes that those teachings will help her fulfill her destiny by the side of Alexander."

There was complete silence for a few seconds, but then Mount Saint Summers exploded, "I WILL NOT HAVE TWO LOOSE CANNONS IN MY TOWN!"

"I got news for you, toots," the wanna-be pimp smugly said. "This ain't your town; it's his," he pointed to Alex, "town, and his world as he is technically it's oldest living being at nearly fifty five centuries old. That point aside, he's at least a dozen cuts above you and your potential very best if he were at his very worst – he's one bad mo-fo who happens to scare the bejeezus out of several of The Powers. More to the point, unlike him, who is needed, you are readily and easily replaceable, Summers. Remember that."

Alex raised his hand, "One question?"


"Who the hell are you?"

"Call me Whistler, kid, Tha Balance Demon and mouthpiece for The Powers That Be. Now, get both brunettes back to your mansion, into your hot tub, and enjoy it 'cause it's gonna be a rough few months, if you catch my meaning." That said, Whistler disappeared, leaving a bewildered group there in the Library.

The End