Of Scoobies and X-Men 2

Always Bring The Right Tools For The Job

Author: Anime Ronin <diabloslayer21[at]yahoo.com>

Rating: PG-13 (for the occasional swearing)

AN: Don't expect to see too much in the way of Cordelia and her lot in here - not until the end, that is.

Chapter 1

(takes place about six months later)

Chapter 1

The Slayer essence had expunged all of the 'gifts' that Jubilee had left behind in Buffy's body, and Willow's own growing magic had taken most of what Storm had to offer out of the question - she had a better understanding of the balance of nature and all of that, but could barely even electrocute anything more than a fly (he personally called her his Willow-sized Bug Zapper - a name that she had yet to forgive him for), Dawn no longer spoke like a valley girl, but could, in times of extreme duress, phase through things, something she hoped to develop in the future and Joyce, despite having a better eye for things, no longer had sticky fingers or the sword skills she had acquired from Amanda.

He wasn't so lucky - Gambit was now very much a part of his mind and body in that whenever he entered a bank, a jewelry store, hell, any store, he scouted out the security systems, possible means of entrance and egress, easy marks and slim pickings. He could swear fluently in four languages, loved good Cajun food and music, could just about pick any lock he could see (given he had anything close to the right tools around) and could also gamble with the best of them - he also had the mutant powers, though they were somewhat more manageable in some respects. Sure, he could charge anything and throw it with unerring accuracy to where it would detonate on contact, a really neat trick he'd figured out with vampires, his eyes shifted only at night, when he wanted them to, and offered a thermal imaging overly with his normal vision, and his reflexes were better than Buffy's, though she would never admit that. That, however, was the good news.

The bad news was that a few months back Angel and Buffy got pelvic, he lost his soul and she kept refusing to stake him, in essence she refused to do her job, and every time he brought up the subject she called him jealous - he took it, knowing that no matter who brought it up would be accused of being something they weren't. In the time that had passed, though, Kendra, the Jamaican Slayer, Jenny Calendar and Aura had all been killed by Angelus and a raging Drusilla, the sire of the Billy Idol wannabe, Spike - he had gone to Aura's funeral that morning upon her grave sat both a lily and a single card, the Queen of Hearts. He and Aura had not been boyfriend and girlfriend, but had a mutual understanding with each other and would even be polite to the other if passed in the halls - she had been a beautiful young woman and had things not gone as they had, they might have even become friends. There would be vengeance for what had transpired, and even without Gambit's memories, he knew he was capable of doing whatever he had to do to pull it off … even if it meant killing Buffy.

Which brought him to this point - he was in his hunting gear, which amounted to dark clothes, a Kevlar-lined duster, numerous pockets and decks of cards, lock-picks, a secret weapon and a hand gun that he'd snuck away and loaded with tracer rounds, he was in front of Buffy and she was demanding that he tell her just where in the hell that he thought he was going, "Out."

"Out? Out WHERE?" Ever since the incident, he and Buffy had formed a sizable rift between them, regardless of how Willow tried to keep them as friends, and now it seemed to be a good point to open the rift just a little more.

"Outside, outside of the school, specifically and in general - I have business to conduct tonight, Slayer, and if you don't get out of my face your name will be added to the already too-long list of names of people buried this week." She blanched at the tone he gave her - cold, emotionless and that of a killer, but she refused to move.

"I won't let you, Xander - it's dangerous out there!"

"As if you've done anything to make it any less so - you refuse to take out the main danger, Angelus, and then screw up anyone's chances of doing so when they have the chance. That alone makes you an accessory to murder, numerous murders, so if you don get de fuck outta my way, petit, I'm gonna make sure dat dis be de last mistake you EVER make, ne'cest pas?"

"That is quite enough, Xander - yes, Buffy has made many mistakes in the past few months, but threatening her with death is no way to get her to admit to them."

"I don't make t'reats, Librarian - dat be a promise." From inside of his pocket he drew out a single card, the Ace of Spades, and began to charge it, "Now get out of my way or're we gonna dance?"

Buffy glared at him even as he allowed his eyes to change, and then she flinched back, stepping off, "I will NEVER forgive you, Xander, do you hear me? We're no longer friends after this - we're through!"

"I find a way t' live with myself, non?" He pulled the charge back into the card and threw the singed card at her, making her flinch back even more - he walked out of the Library even as Buffy began to rage at Giles about stopping him with magic, so he picked up the pace. He knew that Giles wouldn't do it, but Buffy would brow beat Willow into doing something stupid and God alone only knew when that would happen, so he had to work fast.


"No, Buffy, I won't do it." She repressed a smile as Buffy goggled at her in shock, "Look, go back over everything he said and tell me exactly at what point he was wrong - have you or have you not allowed Angelus free reign over the past few months regardless of the fact that you've had several chances to stake him."

"I can't believe you're taking his side on this!"

"Yes. Or. No."

Buffy's face twisted into a mask of indecision before she pouted, "I wouldn't call it free reign, but yeah, I let him walk."

"Have you or have you not stopped anybody from taking him out of the equation? Yes or no, please."

Buffy sunk in on herself, "Yes." She'd taken a foot to Xander when he had a shot with a crossbow lined up, throwing off his aim once, and another time with herself, giving Angelus a verbal warning of an incoming fireball. To this extent, Willow agreed with Xander - Buffy was guilt of being an accessory to the murders, but that didn't justify what Xander had told her would happen. "Why is he acting like this, Willow? I just want to be happy, can't he see that?"

"How long would that happiness last, Buffy?" She looked over at Giles, who had a frown on his face, "How many people would you allow to die just so that you could be … happy?"

"It's not like that, Giles! I love him."

Willow sighed, "You loved Angel, but Angelus is not Angel - they are two separate people, Buffy, and if you can't see that then I'm with Xander. And as for why he's acting like this, well, I know its not jealousy, like you say, but I think it's more of a vengeance thing - Jenny, Kendra and Aura are all dead because, in part, of you, and in most part of Angelus, so he's going to the source of the problem." In her heart, Willow knew he wanted to do the right thing, but in her mind she wondered if this was the right way to go about it.

Hardware Store

Xander walked through the store silently, his eyes giving him perfect Nightvision while the mask he wore protected his identity - he picked up bits and pieces here and there, knowing only in the back of his mind what they were good for, normally, but when charged with kinetic energy, anything was a weapon to him.

He picked up a set of nail punches and slid them into a pocket while turning a corner - Buffy's last words were still ringing in his mind even as he picked up a blue bottle the size of his forearm, and he wondered just how long it would be before either she came to terms with what she did or Giles stopped letting her run roughshod over everybody and show her just who was the student and who was the teacher. Her attitude of late had been appalling and even with her mother she had been more than a little abrupt, even though Joyce and Dawn knew of the world after dark and only wanted answers - he wondered just how long it would be before someone took an axe against the Slayer's skull, but that would be too messy and, quite frankly, too easy of an answer.

As he came to the end of the isle, his eyes lit upon a new toy that had been put out since his last trip through the store - under his mask, he smiled hugely and began to dance from one foot to the other, as thoughts of the mayhem he could cause with the new goodie came into mind. Both he and Gambit were many things, but inventive happened to be one of those things that they were in spades. He picked it and several boxes next to it up and put them into the bag he had over his shoulder - he had places to go and vampires to dust, not to mention seeing if his new toy worked.

25 minutes later

Angelus watched as yet another of his minions turned to dust from an explosion from the unseen, yet not unknown, assassin - Harris was as big of a pain in his side now as he had ever been but now the boy at least had the decency to play the game on his rules and not the Slayer's. At his side Drusilla was ranting about her 'red-eyed Kitten' doing this that and the other and, for not the first time since he sired her, Angelus wondered just what the hell he had been thinking driving her mad before siring her - she wasn't worth this level of aggravation, "What in the nine HELLS is he using?"

From the darkness around them came the matter-of-fact response, "Air-nailer with quick-changing pressure canisters - you'd be surprised how well a charged nail will fly, even over this distance." Harris stepped out of the shadows, the bulky weapon in hand and his red-on-black eyes glowing like blazing embers in the darkness of the night - Angelus, unlike Spike, damned well could wax poetic when he wanted to. "So, Angelus, he we are, finally - do you want to make this easy on all parties involved and just dust yourself or are you going to let me have fun and do it?"

Angelus found himself laughing, "Are you sure you won't join me, boy? We'd rule with that kind of attitude and your powers."

Xander, for his part, only arched an eyebrow before reaching into his pocket with his free hand, "Nah, it wouldn't be any fun that way - now, if Darla was still alive, I'd be tempted, but not now. Tell you what, though - I'll even the odds a little." From his pocket he withdrew a pistol and tossed it at Angelus' feet, "Clip's loaded, just rack the slide - I figured I need to give you at least a fighting chance."

Angelus reached down and picked the weapon up before racking the slide and holding it at his side, "So, how do you want to do this?"

Harris just shrugged and shifted his air for a second before firing a single shot … which hit Dru right between her breasts and exploded, turning her into ash even as the nailer came back to rest on his own chest, "Your call, overbite."

Angelus snarled and brought the weapon up, only now noticing that it was starting to get warm in his hand and was glowing a faint lurid pink as Harris shifted his aim and fired off, dodging the onslaught of bullets that Angelus sent his way.

In seconds, though, both weapons locked on empty after a furious exchange of gunfire and charged nails, the former echoing and the latter blowing chunks out of the surrounding walls of the mansion, though he was sure that Harris had more ammunition somewhere while he did not, so he held the weapon at his side, "Nice shooting, Tex! You missed me."

"Did I? Oh, now dat make me feel REALLY bad, 'Gelus." He really hated how the boy spoke with the Cajun accent on occasion, especially now as the weapon grew warmer in his hand, "Don you t'ink dat I a'ready t'ought o' dat first?"

"Bah!" He threw the empty gun to the side and was surprised that, when it struck the wall, it exploded itself, sending concrete and stucco showering around him, "BOY! I thought this was supposed to be a fair fight."

Harris stood, holding a large blue canister in his hand, a canister that was also glowing a vibrant pink color, "I said I'd even de odds, vampire - don' remember sayin' a t'ing 'bout a fair fight, le mort." The canister was then thrown into a fireplace that was next to him and Harris smiled, "Anyone for a barbeque?"

It happened in a split second - Harris dove away from th fireplace, canister, which he figured was pressurized, exploded, and the last thing that Angelus saw was a wall of pure fire heading his way as, in the back of his mind, he heard a pair of bagpipes playing to signify his return to the Earth from whence he came.


"And yet another one bites the dust." The man looked over at the woman disgustedly - he hated that song, namely because she quoted it every time one of his vampire minions were dusted, "How much longer do you think the Wild Card will be allowed to remain wild? He has served both light and dark over the past few months - who should claim him?"

He snorted, "We could both claim him, but his will is his own - he's even more hard-headed than your Slayer, Light."

His sister, Light, smiled at this, "True enough, Dark, but the fact remains that … what's this?" She peered into the pool that they were using to view the incident and he joined her - someone, a POWERFUL, someone, was making a play for the Wild Card. "NO FAIR!" Light stomped her foot, "He gets all the good ones."

Dark chose not to answer that - when speaking of the Creator, one tended to tread lightly.

Chapter 2

Crawford Mansion

Xander looked up at the 'man' before him and sighed, "Hello, Michael, what do you want NOW?" Mentally, though, he was swearing fluently - you do one job for the higher ups and suddenly they think they own you.

"Why Xander, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you weren't happy to see me." He was in a black suit with a white shirt, his dark hair down to his collar, a little bit of growth on his chin and his good looks making him look just like John Travolta - the winning smile he wore, though, told Xander that something wasn't kosher, "I just have a little job for you that is a little out of our scope of things and we need an … outside contractor to take care of it."

"I'm a thief, Michael, not an assassin." He stowed away the pressurized nailer, after putting the jury-rigged safety on, and removed his telescoping staff, extending it to full length before leaning on it, "What's the job?"

Michael smiled hugely, "Well, you see, it involves this certain group of stuffed-shirts in England I used to deal with back in the day and, well, they've too big for their britches. I need you to go and … liberate some files for me so we can take out some of the stuffing from their shirts."

Xander rolled his eyes, "So, you want me to lift a few files so that the Watcher's Council gets their herd thinned, is that it?"

Michael smiled a little more, "Xander, have I ever told you how smart of a guy you are?"

Xander groaned, "Oh, great, this isn't going to be easy, is it?"

Michael smiled, "It's easier than your first mission for us, Xander."


Not for the first time that night, Xander was wondering just how in the hell he had been talked into doing this - he had been approached by a man that morning on his way to school, a man named 'Gabriel', and Xander knew he was serious because the man used his other name, 'Gambit' - it was supposed to be a simple one-person op, break into the building, crack the safe, get the files and the statue, get the hell out of dodge. That, of course, was the bait - the hook was that the site of the theft would be Sunnydale City Hall … a place that was magically, electronically and physically guarded after dark like Fort Knox was all of the time; the Mayor was dirty, but necessary for the time being, so Gabriel wanted to hire him to break into the mail room, of all places, and lift what he needed from there to get to where he needed to go - that part had gone off without a hitch. He'd broken in and taken a package that needed to be delivered ASAP, so he put on some clothes befitting that of a mail gopher and walked into the mail room that afternoon, in broad daylight, and after lifting the package, delivered it to where the safe and papers were - Deputy Mayor Alan Finch's office.

The Deputy Mayor told him to wait there and, not questioning his luck, he scouted the room for security and the safe - it was hidden in the floor and with his eyes could see no electronic devices, but a stone that Gabriel gave him told him that there was magic afoot, or below-foot. He went about doing his thing, slipping out of the building without anyone being the wiser, and made plans to return that night, which he did … and that's when things went decidedly south on his job.

He ended up having to crawl through the damned air ducts because of the foot traffic, magical wards and electronic devices in the halls, on the windows and on the locks - it was a tight fit, especially with the equipment he had brought with him, but he made it to the right room and, after removing the grating, slipped down into the room without anyone hearing a thing. First was the safe, an old one at that, and it was easy enough to break into once the magical guard was gone, but doing that was a tricky proposition in that he needed to be absolutely precise with his wording and markings on the floor around him, or he'd have to start all over again and he didn't have time for that. Once it was open, though, he found another problem - the papers weren't there, though the statue was; it stood to reason that they were in the office, so he tore it apart, quietly, before finally finding them in the last place one would ever think to look for secret papers … tacked to the door of the mini-fridge hidden in a nook using a big Mickey Mouse magnet. With that done, he put everything back and made his way back through the vents, having several VERY close calls with several vampires, before making it out of the building.

When he delivered the statue the next evening to the man, he made the mistake of saying that, sure, he'd think about working with Gabriel and his people again, and they had capitalized on it several times.

End Flashback

"And just what am I looking for, Mike?" He loved to ruffle the Archangel's feathers with that nickname, even m ore than he liked using G-Man on G-Man.

"A book, one that was … misplaced, some time ago, by a Cherub on Earth - they found it and claim that they wrote it, though I KNOW they can't read it." He looked a bit sour about it, "If there's one thing I don't like about you humans is that you take and take and take, but you never give credit where credit is due."

"Yet we give the Devil his due, right?" The chuckled at that - he had been called a devil by several demons who had run across him with his eyes in 'work' mode, and the Devil, well, he and Michael had been tight back in the day, before he defected to the other side.

"Either way, it's located in the office of Quinton Travers, on his shelf - stupid bastard doesn't even have the brains or the hubris to try and hide the book, let alone ward it."

Xander nodded - he loved it when people got arrogant with their position of power, because then it made them easier to steal from, "Time frame?"

"By Monday it needs to be in my hands - just give a yell and I'll get it." Michael turned to leave but then paused, "Oh, and Xander, don't get caught - plausible deniability and all that."

Xander nodded and turned, walking away from the scene of Angelus' dusting and into the rest of the house - he figured there had to be SOMETHING worth taking in the place.

Next afternoon - Mid-Atlantic

Xander sat back in his first-class seat, listening to the movie that was playing, something called 'Dogma' - funny as hell, especially with George Carlin as the Cardinal and Chris Rock as 'Rufus the 13th Apostle', but he also had other things on his mind at that point. He had returned to the Library that morning to tell Giles about the fate of Angelus only to be attacked by Buffy - she had him dead to rights until Willow came in and cast a spell that knocked the Slayer away, which made said Slayer even angrier at her 'betrayer'. She screamed something about him being jealous and a murderer, being quite incoherent at the time, and thus she never saw the attack he launched with the staff he'd brought along as a force of habit - he threw it, collapsed, at her head and nailed her right between the eyes, knocking her out, as if hitting a magical 'off' switch. Giles balled him out for it, of course, but then said that Buffy was quite distraught - Xander had put on a face of pure indifference and told Giles that he'd be back in a few days, that there was some business he needed to take care of, and also told him that if Buffy attacked him again the Council would be looking for a new Slayer. He was sure that his eyes, changed to their black and red nature, gave the point that he was not joking as he turned and left the Library for the airport.

He'd made a few calls to the English Public Architectural Records and had the floor plans of the Watcher's Council pulled - apparently it had been something of a failed experiment as far as Post-Blitz buildings went, and was something of a joke. He'd gotten them faxed to him in the airport and had memorized them before they reached the Mississippi on their way to the Atlanta Hub, then on to New York and from there it would be a six hour flight to London - he knew, despite the fact he felt particularly safe, he hated flying … and his point was proven very correct when a man stood and pulled out a gun, shouting to someone in the rear of the plane something in a language he'd never heard before. He wasn't Arabic, nor was he German - perhaps a Basque separatist? Who knew?

Without thinking, he picked up the can of soda he had been given just after leaving JFK and began to charge it slight, not really to explode, but enough to pop, but then he remembered just where he was - 35,000 feet above the middle of a very chilly Atlantic ocean, so he pulled the charge back into himself and looked up at the man, who was pointing the gun in his direction, "I'm sorry, what?"

"I said, you American pig, for your identification papers!"

"In my bag above me - do you want to get them or should I?" The man motioned with his gun to stand and Xander sighed - this was going to be too easy, "Alright." He opened the compartment above his head, reached into the side of the AWOL bag and grabbed both is passport and a handful of powder he'd brought along, "Here."

He tossed the man the ID but then charged the powder to the barest limit - the man, whom he refused to call a terrorist due to the fact that it would have given him far too much credit, caught the ID with his gun hand as a pad and was completely off-guard for the face-full of charged powder that was flung at him. The powder detonated softly and flung the man back, sending th gun sliding to the foot of a pair of men who appeared to be military, a point that was proven with the way he picked up the gun and wielded it, "What was that?"

"Flash powder - mostly harmless." He grabbed his passport and put it back into the bag while the two men went about their business, grabbing a pair of nail punches as several business men and a priest restrained the unconscious man in a seat with seatbelts, ties, belts and, though he wasn't sure where it had come from, a roll of dust tape. Thankfully, though he didn't need them as after a quick scuffle the two men brought the other man back up front, a large welt on his temple and blood running freely from his hand and … what looked like impressions from fork tines on his neck? Weird.

AN: My tribute to Kei on her/his chapter, the Fork of Doom - good idea, so I borrowed it for a sentence.


After being questioned by both Airport Security and the London constables/police, Xander was on his way again, though with a warning to keep his nose clean - flash powder was not supposed to be on board of an airplane, though he played it off as a test of his own to see if he'd get caught (he wasn't expecting it to work, but was pleasantly surprised when it did). The kicker of it all, though, was that it was the twin military boys, who turned out to be SAS soldiers, who got the credit for taking out the twin supposed hijackers - of course, he didn't care, but it would have been nice, all things being equal.

Within the hour he was in a rented room and unpacked - having no need for niceties and fluff for this trip, as it was a business trip, he had packed away his gear with both care and for every contingency in mind that he could think of, then only a few more than Gambit could think of. With the easy part done and his target in sight (it was right outside the window and across the street), he began to play everyone's favorite game of hurry up and wait, a game that he had never been all that good at.

Back in Sunnydale

Buffy groaned as her Slayer healing finished fixing her nose and sinus cavities - she had attacked Xander in a rage, probably not one of her best ideas ever, and had paid the price with a broken nose and messed up sinuses, not to mention a chewing out from Giles about attacking a human being who wasn't any true danger to her. She'd made a valiant point that he had knocked her out and Giles had shot back that, had Xander been inclined to, he could have killed her with the throwing knife he habitually kept strapped to his left leg - if nothing else, she had to give him that, especially after the way he had taken out a vampire from nearly twenty feet away by putting the knife in his left eye.

If that had been all that had gone wrong that day, it would have been a salvageable day, but then Willow showed up … no, an ANGRY Willow showed up, and that ire was directed at her.


"Sit. Down. NOW!" Buffy, after looking at Willow's expression, complied, which sent the red-head to steeping, "What in the HELL were you thinking, Buffy? Or were you? You can't attack people because you piss you off!"

"He killed Angel!"

Willow spun on her heel and glared at her, "He killed Angelus, Buffy, and if you can't tell the difference between him and Angel, then you are in need of more mental help than I first feared." This shut Buffy up immediately - Willow thought she needed a shrink? Why? "Xander did you job after you wouldn't, Buffy - how can you be mad at him for that?"

"What if he had killed your mom?"

"What if Angelus had killed your mother?" Buffy gaped and felt the blood rush out of her face, a point that Willow didn't miss as she pressed on, "Is that what it would have taken to get your ass in gear, Slayer? Maybe she needs to know that - he could have ended the world first, but not, it would have been much easier for him to kill her."

"That's … that's not fair, Willow. I … I just wanted Angel back."

"And when he killed Jenny, any chances of that happening vanished - she could have done it, now that I know it was her clan who cursed him, but he killed her to send a message to Giles, just like he killed Aura to send a message to Xander."

"Aura? What did she have to do with Xander?"

Willow gave her a pitying look at her apparent ignorance, "While she and Xander weren't an official item, they'd been seeing each other off an on for the past few months - who knows what would have happened, but now we'll never know."

Buffy felt the bottom of her heart drop down and meet up with her ankles - she wasn't the only person who'd lost someone to Angelus, but Xander, where she acted upon the hope of getting Angel back, had acted upon the rage that came with a want for getting even. She really couldn't blame him for that, which left her with a very difficult problem, "Can he ever forgive me?"

Willow, her ire mostly gone, only shrugged, "Don't expect him to follow you as blindly as he once did, Buffy - you burned him once, and he never gives anyone the chance to burn him a second time very easily.

End Flashback

Buffy looked over at her sister, who was busily passing her had through a fishbowl that even had a fish in it, and sighed - now whatever privacy she had once had was officially gone with a little brat sister who had no need for doors.

Chapter 3


Xander trusted Travers' ego to make him not only take the top floor office, though there was a sun room on the very top floor, but also a corner office - this worked in Xander's advantage in that there was that much less of a chance of him getting caught … hopefully. Shaking that thought out of his head, he scanned the window again in search of anything remotely resembling a security system, but was surprised to see none was present - either they were supremely confident in their magical wards or figured that nobody would be stupid enough to rob them in their own house. This brought a grin to his lips, thinking back when Gambit had heard someone say the same thing only to pull it off later that night - the Cajun had laughed all the way to the bank on that one, as Xander hoped he would.

Pulling a crossbow out of his bag, he shot a line across to the old building, attached his end, made sure of the test strength and his safety line, but then took a few quick steps and sprinted across the line like a tightrope - it was pure brass balls that made him do it, but it was also not wanting to get caught and the long hours of practice in the past few months. On the other end, he dropped to the ledge and pressed against the wall, his feet on the 12 inch ledge, as several cars passed, and then used his safety line to drop down to the appropriate window, which was a floor down - it was risky, especially if anyone looked out their window, but without risk the rewards were minimal.

Once in front of the window, he worked a glass circle cutter on the window, opened the lock and slid into the room without so much as a noise - Gambit's training as a young man had been phenomenal, but not perfect, so he had to work at it too or it would be far too easy; he scanned the room, his mask on his face, and saw no lasers with his eyes, so he treaded over to the massive bank of books, found the book he needed, and lifted it … and in doing so made a rookie mistake that most rookies didn't survive.

All around him bells went off and steel grate slammed down over window - MADRE! What the hell had he been thinking? He looked around and grabbed a ceremonial dagger, tucking it and the book away before grabbing a cricket ball, charging it, and hurling it at a all to make a hole - sadly, though, it failed in doing naught but making a lot of smoke and a little dent in the magical field that surrounded the walls of the room now. Even as he looked around and heard feet pounding up the stairs, he knew he was screwed to the floor … THE FLOOR! Giving up another brief prayer, he reached down, charged the expensive Oriental rug that lay beneath the desk to it's fullest extent, and moved out of the way as he willed it to detonate, and he'd eat, shit and howl at the moon if it didn't just work, but it worked OH so well.

Even as the door burst open, revealing a guard with a drawn gun, he dropped down into the hole and into the floor below, which appeared to be a meeting room of some kind, and sprinted out of the open door, into the hall, and down the stairs, taking two or three steps at a time until he hit the next floor, a large, wide-open area that appeared to be for the people who actually did the work, the researchers and all. Without even thinking, he grabbed a handful of pencils, charged them and threw them at a bank of windows that shattered and, thankfully, didn't trip another alarm as he went out and looked around - no buildings that he could shoot a line to, provided he even had one, and unless he could sprout wings and fly, he couldn't just jump off, though he was sure that if he flapped his arms REALLY fast, he might just hit the ground four stories below hard enough to only break every bone in his body instead of killing him outright.

<T"INK, BOY - we been in worse cases den dis, non? > He didn't even question the sudden voice in his mind - he'd heard it before, berating him when he made a mistake, bucking him up after finding Aura's death, even telling him, one time, that sitting on the roof did nothing more than give you a chance to get a cold ass while you were thinking. Thankfully, though, he had the chance to take a breath and see his salvation coming towards him in the form of those famous double-decker tourist busses - he grabbed his staff, telescoped it out to it's full length, sent up a quick prayer, and vaulted out into the middle of the street on bad footing and no running room … landing in the top, HARD and rolling until he hit the back of the thankfully empty passenger area and lay still as they passed the intersection of the Watcher's Council and continued on.

Watcher's Council - next morning

Travers was fuming as he walked into his office and saw the better portion of the floor not only missing, but most of his belongings, though most of them ill-gotten, tossed about in a bloody rush that appeared to look like a cyclone had hit it, "Somebody give me an answer as to WHY I shouldn't shoot someone for this … NOW!"

"Whoever it was stole the Book of Light, Sir - he looked to be here for it specifically, from what we were able to pick up from the seeing spells. He also grabbed a dagger of some kind, but we have yet to identify it." He turned to see the form of Wesley Wyndam Price, his protégé, standing in the doorway, looking more British than usual - if there was one fault the boy had, it was not being able to enjoy his position of power, "No face, no name, not even an aura - he was being protected by a very powerful and ancient form of magic that the witches have not seen in centuries, sir."

"And that is?"

Price took a deep breath and then gulped, "Angelic, sir - he was sent here by the Upper Hierarchy, or at least protected by them, to retrieve their book, sir, and he succeeded."

"Damn it all!" The Book of Light foretold many events of the coming years, of many apocalypses and decisive battles, and Quinton knew that if they could only figure out how to read the damned thing the Council would become the most powerful entity in the supernatural on Earth, Wolfram and Hart be damned.

"Now that's not very nice to say, Quinton." He spun around and saw that chap from Saturday Night Fever in a gray suit, smiling and FLOATING in the middle of the hole that had been his floor, "My boy merely took back something your people stole from us - I would only say that it was fair."

"Who are you?"

"Michael." Quinton felt his blood freeze at the name even as the somewhat friendly smile vanished from the Archangel's face and was replaced by a scowl, "Now that I have your attention, you will not pursue this matter any further on orders from HIM, and if you do we shall have a little chat … and we both know where that goes." Michael pointed down, signifying Hell, and then waved his hand, "Toodles."

Quinton let out a primal scream that shook the glass in the windows.


"You are a real drama queen, you know that, Michael?" Xander saw the Archangel smile winningly as he handed over the book, time having been frozen and nobody being the wiser, "What about that dagger I nabbed?"

Michael only shrugged, "Spoils of war, but I'd ask that you not tell your Librarian about it - corporate loyalties and all." Xander nodded and Michael flashed away, allowing time to resume and Xander to fall asleep.

Chapter 4

New York - 4:30 AM

With seven hours until his connecting flight to LA and having slept most of the way from London to the Big Apple, Xander was wired for sound as he stepped off of the airplane; after a quick bite to eat at an all-night buffet, he hopped a cab and started strolling, of all things, the streets near Times Square - cops eyed him left and right, but he gave them no reason to stop him, so they let him go on his way.

By seven the streets were filling up with the masses and masses of washed and unwashed people of New York and Xander found it heard to keep his hands to himself - people were so stupid sometimes, wearing purses and wallets that said 'take me!' and in places that any skilled thief could pick blindfolded, but he somehow managed to resist the urge and thought back to job in London. He'd heard a voice that wasn't his in his head and it wasn't something that he was particularly comfortable with, but then again, that might have been something from Gambit, who had never been at ease with telepaths, especially with all that he had done in his past - he'd had a hard enough time sleeping before hand before the memories of the mutant massacre in the Morlock Tunnels came to his mind and had driven him nearly batty.

It was nearly eight am when he came upon one of the most impressive sights that he had ever seen in his life - the Dow Jones building, where billions of dollars and millions of shares of stock were traded each day by people and computers; it was enough to make his fingers itch, but he repressed that feeling and continued walking, but this time towards his motel room and from there to the airport - he made it there, bags and all, a whole hour ahead of his departure time and was in his seat for ten minutes before he acknowledged to her that he knew she was on the plane.

She was tall, easily as tall, if not a hair taller, than he was, and while she was thin, it was an athletic thin of someone who ran, swam and practiced her ass of, meaning solid, yet lean, muscle; she was of African descent, her skin the color of warm cocoa, and her hair was the color of fresh snow … and natural, if her eyebrows meant anything. She stood dressed in a pair of loose cargo pants, shoes that left no tread marks, a sports bra underneath a light white cotton t-shirt and over that a jacket, her hair pulled back into a tail and tucked under a baseball cap, and finally her eyes were shaded - she had been following him for nearly an hour after he left the airport the first time, discrete in her ways of stealth and shadowing, but in the end it was her hair and the slight scent of cinnamon that wafted around her that gave her away.

In the seat in front of hers, he feigned reading a book he'd picked up randomly from a news stand in the airport and sighed, "Why have you been following me all morning, ma'am? Surely someone as beautiful as you has better things to do than to tail someone the likes of me."

Her voice was warm and rich, holding an amused edge as she leaned up to the space between the seats, the scent of cinnamon becoming heavier as she did, "Mister Harris, I must say that you lead me on a merry chase."

He shrugged, "I had to kill time and stay out of trouble - not to mention I needed the exercise, though for you I am sure that this was nothing more than a leisurely stroll."

She chuckled again, "It was nice, most assuredly. Angela."

"Xander. So, Angie, why are you following me?"

"Do not call me 'Angie', Alexander, and I was sent by … a friend, I guess you could say, to keep an eye on you and that dagger you procured in England."

It was what appeared to be the broken end of a katana, as if the blade had been broken off about a foot up from the guard, as the jagged edges on the tip gave credence to - the metal was of the purest silver in color, had the ring of steel and the weight of plastic, the hilt was carved of what felt to be stone yet weighed slightly less than the average softball, and the sheath appeared to be solid wood, but as with the rest of the thing, felt far too light, "And what would it be, pray tell?"

She sat back in her chair as the light to fasten their seat belts came on and the Captain came over the PA, "You shall learn about it soon enough, Alexander."

He nodded, "So, what do you do? Weather Manipulation?"

Angela snorted, "No, though I should, given how much she looks like me - I am a warrior, though more along the lines of a Pathfinder than a melee fighter."

He arched an eyebrow, "Recon? Cool beans." They sat in silence as the plane taxied to it's appropriate runway, took off and climbed up to cruising level, at which time the seatbelt light went off and Angela moved from her seat to the one next to him, allowing him to see her dazzlingly blue eyes, "Nice eyes."

She smiled prettily at him, "Thank you, your own altered eyes are quite fetching themselves. So, what are you going to do?"

"Go to sleep, wake up, eat and then get back to Sunny-hell, where I am going to research that dagger whatsitmawhozits and figure out just what it is and what it is supposed to do."

She shrugged and took off her cap, then the leather thong that held her hair in a tail, shaking it out to a rather surprising length, making her look much like the late 80's/early 90's version of Storm; she stretched out with a very unladylike yawn and reclined her seat back, putting the cap over her face, "Wake me when we get there."

He frowned, "Do angels need to sleep?"

She pushed her hat up a little and looked at him, "All females need their beauty sleep."

He grinned easily, "Then you need none, for you are the epitome of female physical perfection."

She grinned a little more at him, putting her hat back over her face, "Flattery like that won't get you inside my panties, Swamp Rat - chocolate, on the other hand …" she let it hang there as she began to chuckle at him blushing slightly - it was going to be a long flight, especially with that particular mental image in his mind.

Sunnydale - later that afternoon

Angela had left him at LAX, citing some personal business, but he had no doubt that he'd see her again later on down the road, and made it to Sunnydale without any further problems - at his apartment was a note taped to his door, signed by Buffy, asking, no, begging him to call her so tha they could possibly work something out, a note that he almost threw away, but instead put on the oak desk that he'd brought in some time back. He'd moved out of his parent's house not too long after Angelus had been released, not that either Tony or Jessica would have noticed, and into a small apartment that suited his needs - none of the others had known, until today, apparently, that he lived there, nor did he care to tell them about it or the somewhat surprisingly large library of reference tomes that he'd … come across, as of late. His collection, while not as large as Giles', had a broader base of demons in it than magic, as he sucked at the latter, and magical items were all located in a book who's title said it all - 'The Big Damned Book of Magical Items - If It Isn't Here, It Doesn't Exist'. Of course it was written in a demonic language, but he liked it anyway as the book, though a magical spell, was constantly updated as to where certain items were, who had them and what they (the items) were capable of doing.

He picked up the book, which was as big as two LA phone books across and nearly two and a half books long, and put it on the 70's era table with a grunt before picking a page at random and opening it - another enchantment on it was that unless it was opened at random, one would never find what they were looking for. He'd found that out the hard way when he first opened the book, trying to look at page one and instead seeing page 3457, something about the golden nipple rings of a demon who died out from being over-sexed, as it was supposed to make men as potent as a thousand bulls, but the drawback was that sex was the only thing on their mind, not food, drink or sleep, let alone rest.

Before him he saw something that appeared to be a pulsating rectangular tab, but he knew better - it was an identification tab that you pressed the object to in order to get a reference number, from which you got a number of pages to flip forwards by hand to find your item. He did as the book bade him to do and pressed the outer part of the scabbard to the rectangle, at which point the book flashed and showed him the one number that he, in the few months of trying, had never seen - 1. Without questioning his luck, he flipped to the next page and saw what he was looking for even as the scent of cinnamon began to fill the room. "Hi, Angela."

"What gave me away?" She walked over to the table and sat down to his left, idly toying with the pages of the book even as he went to go and get a book to translate from, "You found it, I see."

"Yes, States The Obvious," he said with a grin as he came back with the book he needed and a box under it, a gold box. "So, you finished your business, I see."

She had her eye on the box the entire time as she nodded, "Yes, I needed to check on a future player in the cosmic game of chess that we all play."

He opened the book to about the middle and absently toyed with the box, taking it in hand, "I hope you like Godiva chocolates, Angie."

She graced him with a smile, taking the box, "I was joking about you getting inside of my panties, Xander - all angels are genderless."

He gave her a grin at the corner of his mouth, "More is the pity, isn't it - now, why are you here?"

She arched a single white eyebrow, "In Sunnydale or your apartment?" He gave her a look and she relented, "I am in Sunnydale to help with something that doesn't involve you or your friends. I am in this apartment to tease you, to take your chocolate and to make sure you know what that thing is."

He looked down at the book and began to quote, "'T'was once known as Angel's Wrath, a mighty blade forged of an unknown material by the hand of the Father - the blade was carried into battle by the greatest of all Cherubs, Lucifer, and it was in that battle that he betrayed Father and the blade was shattered asunder. The pieces of Angel's Wrath were collected and scattered about the Earth for the One to find, so that the blade may be remade by the fires of Hell and quenched in the peaceful springs of Heaven, used to banish the most evil of all Evils from this world for all time.'" He sighed and looked over at Angela, who was nibbling on one of the chocolates, "Please tell me that I am not this One."

"You are not this One." His eyes narrowed as hers sparkled with mischief, "Oh, come on, Xander - it's not all that hard; all of the pieces have been found by the mortals, all you have to do is to break into where they are being held, steal them back and we'll take it from there."

He sighed and looked at the hilt of the sword, which was now glowing slightly, "And where is the first piece?"

Angela smiled, the remains of the orange-centered nougat chocolate in her mouth, "I'll do you one better - they are all in Sunnydale."

Sunnydale High School Library - 1938 hours

Buffy watched Xander walk in through the doors of the Library and felt a grin split her face until she saw the grim look on his and began to fret, one of the few things that the Noblewoman had left behind, though thankfully it was fading quickly - would she be able to apologize in time?

"YO G-MAN!" From the depths of his trenchcoat, he withdrew what appeared to be a gun of some kind, but not like she'd ever seen before as he withdrew a bunch of … nails? … and as they began to glow pink, he loaded them into the weapon before calling out again, "GILES!"

"What is it, Xander?"

"The Master's Lair, right below us - how far down is it?" She watched him put something into the bottom of the gun and twist it, causing a slight hiss, and it dawned on her what it was - an air nailer.

Giles looked confused, "Um, about thirty feet, why?"

Xander put on a pair of safety glasses and walked over to where the floor had been repaired over the summer, "You might want to cover your ears - this is going to be loud." That said, he pulled the trigger on the gun and she saw glowing pink nails being spat out of the air nailer and blowing chunks out of the tile, concrete and rock below, quickly making a hole just big enough for someone to fit through.

Even as her ears quit ringing and Giles began to start into a fit of sputters, Xander put the gun away and withdrew a length of black rope and removed his safety glasses, his eyes clicking over into what she called 'demon eyes mode' - they were actually kind of sexy to look at, if one took the time to notice it - and after attaching one end of the line to a sturdy column, he dropped the other end down the hole, "Xander, where are you going?"

"Down to get something." She cringed at the frigid tone he used as he slipped on a pair of gloves and carefully slid down the hole, disappearing into the inky depths below even as Giles stopped sputtering and came over to peer down said hole with her.

"At least he spoke to you - I take it that it is a good sign, right?"

She deflated slightly, "No - he did it out of complete reflex, not out of any want. Giles, how can I get him to forgive me? I mean, you're a guy, right? How do I do it?"

Giles looked slightly affronted at the inadvertent questioning of his masculinity as he took off his glasses and polished them before putting them back on, "He will forgive you when he is ready - not before, nor is there a way you can force the issue."

Seconds passed, and then minutes, until finally the rope jerked slightly and the sounds of something ratcheting up was heard - it was another few minutes before Xander came back out of the hole, sweating slightly, but he climbed out under his own power, coiled the rope and pulled a pair of things out of his jacket. The first looked like the end of a sword, and the next part looked like the piece of the blade that was broken off of it - he touched both ends together and they fused in a soft white glow, leaving a longer sword/broken sword to fit in a small sheath.

"Good Lord, Xander - where did you get that?"

"Around, G-man, and I know what it is." He fit the end of the sword into the sheath and, somehow, pushed it all the way back home before replacing it in his jacket.

Screwing up her courage, Buffy blurted out, "I'm sorry, Xander." She thought for a second that he didn't hear her, but even as he walked out of the Library, her mind came up with the answer that, yes, he did hear her and, no, he didn't care enough to answer her back - this brought tears to her eyes as she felt her knees go a little weak, seeing the doors close on the retreating form of her once friend. It didn't, however, stop her mind from trying to figure out how to keep on trying to get him to listen to her, though.

That Evening

Willow watched the distressed Slayer pace back and forth over the floor, wearing an almost-visible path in the tile and she was sure that, were it not for gravity, Buffy would have been pacing on the walls and ceiling as well; she had been apprised by Giles as to what had happened earlier that day, had seen the hole (not to mention helped cover it up and produce a cover-up story), and knew that Xander was doing something important that needed to be done quickly. "Buffy, stop pacing - you're making me dizzy."

The Slayer obliged and sat down and Willow sighed at the worried look on her face, "Willow, what's Xander doing? I mean, I can get that I'm not his favorite person on the planet right now, but why would he do something like this?"

"Buffy, Xander probably has a lot on his mind right now - the only time I have ever seen him like that was when he was thinking about the ingredients of Twinkies and what they would do to him if he just moved into the Hostess factory; he walked around in a daze and when he did answer anybody, which was kind of rare, it was absently and he frequently just ignored people."

Buffy's eyes brightened a little at this, "So he might not have been ignoring me?"

Willow only shrugged, "Maybe, maybe not - the ways of the male mind are often a mystery to us … until it comes to sex, food, entertainment or cars." In the past, Willow would have blushed at the mention of the word 'sex', but now, due to Storm's influence, she barely batted an eye at it, "The point remains is that until Xander has come to some sort of conclusion to whatever is on his mind, you can forget talking to him."

It was about that time that Giles walk out of his office and walked over, "Willow, I need to know where Xander is - Now."

She arched a light red eyebrow, another change to her body was that her hair kept getting lighter all of the time, which was an annoyance when she had to shave, "And what has he done now?"

"Apparently Xander went to England, broke into the Watcher's Council and stole an ancient book of prophecy and a ceremonial dagger of some kind from the office of Quinton Travers, my boss." Willow blinked at this, remembering the oft-used terms of 'prat', 'wanker' and the ever-likable 'arsemunch' when the names Quinton and Travers came into the same sentence, and Giles went on, "Apparently Xander was working for someone when he stole these items and I need to retrieve them."

Buffy gasped, "He STOLE something from you guys? Why?"

Giles ignored Buffy, "Well?"

Willow only shrugged, "If he's not at home, then I can't tell you where he is - it's not like I'm a telepath or anything."

Buffy growled, "He's probably hanging out with some den of thieves or someone totally of the bad - someone like another thief or something."


"Hey, Xand."

He looked up from the paper he had been reading and smiled, "Hey, Dawnie-Cat." She growled at him but took her place next to him on the Summers' couch as Joyce worked on something in the kitchen, "What's up?"

She shrugged, which caused on of the straps on her too-big tank top to fall down her shoulder, something she either didn't notice or wanted to happen in hopes that he would notice that she was quickly becoming a woman - hopefully it was the first, "Nothing much, but I was kind of hoping to ask you something."

"Sorry, Dawn, but I can't marry you just yet - not even California is that liberal." Out of the corner of his eye he caught her blushing a bright red even as Joyce's snickering was heard from inside of the kitchen, "Alright - ask away."

She stopped blushing after a few more seconds and took a breath and speaking quietly, "I want you to teach me about being a thief."

The End