Ordinary Men

Author: BoxerMan <boxerman083[at]yahoo.com>

<I dedicate this story to my fiancé who puts up with all of the crap I put her through.>

Buffy Crossover

Disclaimers: I can carry everything that I own, and I don't see how I can carry a TV show, maybe a TV, although I could carry a comic book, but I still don't own anything really.

A/N: read, review, and enjoy. The first two chapters are set before "Dirty Girls," especially because they were written before "Dirty Girls"

Latest addition

Chapter 1
First Impressions

Perini's Italian Restaurant

Xander Harris walked into Perini's Italian Restaurant. It had been a long drive to LA, but the management at Sunnydale Construction Ltd. was very adamant that he went. Someone very high up in the company ranks wanted to meet with him. "Why me?" he asked. With the First around he didn't want to leave. Also sure he had been working there for a couple years and was very good at his job, but apparently someone VERY high up wanted to have a talk with him. 'Oh well,' he thought 'I suppose that they could survive without the X-man for a while. Maybe I'll check up on Cordy later, its been forever since we talked.'

"Excuse me," he said as he walked up to the hostess, "Xander Harris, I'm supposed to meet someone here."

She looked through the list for a second. "Ah yes, Mr. Harris, if you'll follow me."

Xander followed the hostess through the restaurant. It was a fairly small restaurant, it felt nice, but Xander wasn't going to let himself feel at ease. Oh no, the First's tactics were simple and effective, divide and conquer. For all he knew this could be a trap to capture a key part of the Scooby gang, the foreman.

As they approached the rear of the restaurant, Xander noticed an old man with in a corner booth. He didn't look that old at first glance, maybe late 40s early 50s, but as he got closer, he had a better look. His jet-black hair had twinges of gray near the temples. He could tell by the man's body structure and the way that he was sitting that he was totally alert, while looking completely comfortable. His face was blank, but his eyes were old. You could tell a lot about someone from their eyes. This was going to be an interesting interview.

"Mr. Harris," The man stood up from his seat and extended his hand, "it is a pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise," I say as I shake his hand, "Mr. ..."

He smiles and gestures with his free hand, "Please take a seat."

As we both move into the booth an attractive blond comes over to give us our menus. They both smiled at her as she took down their orders and left.

"Well, Mr. Harris, or may I call you Alex?"

"Xander, please."

The man smiled again, not a scary smile but more of a knowing and amused one.

"Xander, how do you like your job at Sunnydale Construction?"

Xander looked at the man and answered. "I like it a lot. I feel good working there. I started out as a low level carpenter and worked my way through to foreman, it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know I worked hard and it paid off."

"That's good, I like a person that can appreciate hard work. Now do you know who Sunnydale Construction works for?"

"I know that it works for a conglomeration of larger companies, but there's too many names so, I don't know all of them."

"Well actually in two days is will become a subsidiary of one large company so that should make things easier to remember."


"Wayne Enterprises has been looking to expand its construction base in LA and we decided that..."

"Wait, if there's a management shift, there is going to be a massive amount of layoffs. My men have been working long and hard..."

"Don't worry Xander, Wayne Enterprises does not believe that able bodied skilled men need be fired just because the upper management changes. I am just letting you in on a couple of things because I think that you should know."

"Who are you?"

The man looked up and smirked. "I'm Bruce Wayne."

"As in the Wayne Enterprises that just bought the company that I work for."

"But you can call me Bruce."

Chapter 2
Dancing around the subject

Perini's Italian Restaurant

"Wait, Mr. Wayne,"


"I'm sorry, Bruce, this is getting a little confusing, just what is going on here?"

Bruce smiled at Xander. He liked this kid, he was still young, but he had potential, no subtlety, but potential. "Xander, whenever I buy a new company, I like to go through the personnel records to see if there is any untapped potential. When I came across your file I was thoroughly impressed with your devotion to detail and hard work."

Xander had a huge lopsided grin. He was not one to accept compliments. True, he had been working hard and people had noticed, but someone to actually tell him was something new. "Thank you very much Mr. Wayne."


"Bruce, I didn't think that anyone outside the previous architect and foreman noticed."

Bruce had read Xander's files several times noticing several discrepancies. He liked to be fully informed and prepared before heading into any conflict. And despite what anyone says, conversations are easily conflicts. He knew about Xander's schoolwork, from what little there was left of his permanent record. He tried to find out about him more, but the school district had said that they were blown up at the graduation ceremony several years ago. That talk would be left until a later time. His home-life was another story; among the police files were well over thirty domestic disturbances. He had tried to find out more about the domestic case among with the other numerous things in his police file, but the SDPD was not known for its willingness to hand over too much information. He had the Sunnydale Construction company employee profile memorized.

"Well, they noted in their reports how impressed they were with your work and how you never miss a day of work."

Xander was surprised. "I thought I had missed a couple days of work."

"No, you only take off sick days, you never take a day off of work because you use up all of your sick days as soon as you get them. But I can understand that with all of your hospital visits. Although I was confused how you came down with such a virulent strain of syphilis on the job a couple of years ago. And I was almost positive that smallpox had been eradicated."

"Eh, it was just some sort of flu, but the symptoms were just a little jumbled, I thought the records said that."

"They do, I went through all of your records. They make for an interesting read Xander, especially your police file."

Xander's face dropped. 'Oh hell.' "Listen, Mr. Wayne,"


"Yes, Bruce, my criminal record might be the best or most outstanding."

"I would say it IS very outstanding."

"You see in Sunnydale, there was a __ PCP gang that threatened the entire town, I had to defend myself and my friends a couple of times."

"A couple of times?"

"Several times, and if that would threaten any job, I'm sorry, I'd make the same decision again."

"Xander, I'm not accusing you of anything, and I am certainly not threatening your job. I just happened to enjoy reading your file and thinking that I would like to meet this man."

"You like meeting people considered vigilantes."

Although his face would never show it, Bruce Wayne had to stifle a laugh. "Yes I do. In fact some of my best friends could be considered vigilantes."

Xander didn't like where this was going. He had heard about Wolfram and Hart. There were apparently many rich people that had sold their souls. The First might be calling in a few favors. "I would say that you might need new friends."

Subtlety was key in the business world, but Xander was generally more of a direct person. Once Bruce brought up his friends, Xander would become more cautious. It was a necessary move; Bruce had to gauge him accurately. "I could say the same to you."

Xander really didn't like where this was going, he felt threatened, but somehow comfortable. In his time spent on the Hellmouth, he had learned to identify people in two categories: 'threat to the Scoobies' and 'not a threat to the Scoobies.' For some reason, although he didn't like the topic of conversation, Bruce didn't seem like a threat. "My friends are my life, I'd do ANYTHING for them."

The emphasis was not lost on Bruce. This was going as expected. Xander knew when to play checkers and when to play chess. Before, Xander had been more open and ready to talk, still taking notice of the conversation, but letting Bruce direct it. Once he talked about his friends, Xander had become focused and talked carefully, not ready to tell Bruce too much. Just that he was willing to protect his friends, no matter the cost.

"Don't worry Xander. I am just here to talk. You piqued my interest with your __ 'diverse' company file. I am an old man, not a lot interests or surprises me anymore. I just thought that I'd like to meet a young man that can hold a very demanding job and has a sense of civic justice."

Xander smiled, he had never thought of it as 'civic justice.' "If you are so interested in 'civic justice' you should watch Cops, they hit the 100th show a while ago."

"Why aren't you a cop?"


"Well Xander, you seem in shape, I can tell by the way that you walk and carry yourself, that you could hold yourself in a fight. And you said that you want to help defend people so why didn't you go into law enforcement?"

"That's a complicated answer."

"More complicated than having smallpox, syphilis, and the flu all at the same time?"

"Hey, it was just the flu. My immune system is just a little slow."

This was interesting. When Bruce asked him about his friends, he would put up a wall and become very precise with what he said. Given the opportunity, he changes directions in the conversation and tries to use humor and put himself down to play off the fact that he is paying very close attention to what he is saying. Even when he switches topics quickly Xander knows exactly what he is saying.

"Yes I have noticed that."

"I'm sorry if that is a problem."

"No problem, just don't want you getting me sick."

"I have a tendency to make people sick."

"Self-deprecation is used by those who are stronger than they think."

"Platitudes are used by people with nothing to say."

Bruce was really starting to like this kid. He could tell that all the innuendos and generalizations were annoying Xander. He also was quick witted when someone tried to argue with him. 'I guess there was more missing in those school records than I thought.' He decided to change directions again.

"So Xander, do you usually play verbal judo with everyone that takes you out to dinner?"

"Well this is the first time I had a sugar daddy invite me to dinner, so I'm not sure how to act. Usually I try to take a nice beautiful woman to dinner, but it's been a while so beggars can't be choosers. Why are you making with the small talk?"

There was silence for a while both men trying to size each other up. Xander could dance around the subject all night because there was no way that he would endanger anyone by telling a stranger anything. But he still needed to find out what this man knew. He could tell that Wayne wasn't a fool. Even though it didn't feel like a threat, he had the look of a predator. All of his years on the Hellmouth gave Xander a sense of whether or not people were going after him and his friends, with the possible exception for when they were attractive females that only wanted to kill him. Bruce certainly didn't fit those criteria.

Bruce looked knowingly at Xander. "Xander, most of my life has been spent either in two fashions: either building up my business or trying to help people. I have known people beside me who helped, normal people like you and I. Some were able to fight day to day and not loose themselves, some," Bruce sighed, "were not. The important thing is that they all tried and realized what life was truly about. Xander, when I read your file I saw things that I knew intimately. I lived them. I know all of the signs, the hospital visits, the 'sick days,' the missing people, the broken arms, the scars, the pain, the DEATH. Have you killed anyone yet? It gets to you. Being a vigilante does some good, you save people, but I began to believe that I WAS justice, I believed that that I was above the law. It took me more than half of my life to figure out that while I should do all that I can to save everyone, I am only human."

"Mr. Wayne, with all due respect you don't know the half of what my friends and I do. We fight not because of the people that die or get hurt, but because of the people that live. I have saved and been saved countless times. If you discovered a world underneath your own full of greed and power and evil trying to destroy everything, could you or anyone of YOUR friends turn away? As for killing, I have never, EVER killed another human being." Xander wasn't lying in the seven years he had fought beside the slayer he had never taken a human life. "I CHOSE to lead this life, I WANT to help people. I don't go out looking for fights or anything because I think I am God. I AM only human and that is what gives me the right to help people in any way that I can." For the first time in his life, Xander actually said aloud his reason for fighting. All the pain, and all the death were going to exist regardless of what he did, but he could choose to ignore it or to confront it. It was not his duty, or his privilege to fight against the darkness, but it was his right as a human being.

"Good, I am glad that you are so adamant about it. But things can and will get bloody. If the whole world came down upon making one choice, to either kill an innocent or to let many others die, would you do it? Could you damn an innocent soul to save others?"

Xander almost laughed. He sat up in his seat, looked Bruce Wayne in the eye and for the first time in years the dark knight felt a chill go down his spine. "Like I said, I would do ANYTHING for my friends."

Bruce smiled at Xander. "Then you are exactly who I have been looking for."


Xander decided to move back into his seat. "I didn't really mean that whole sugar daddy thing. From what I heard a friend of mine, Spike, might be up for something..."

Chapter 3
Part 1
Same Dance, New Tune

Perini's Italian Restaurant

"Xander, I am not one for BS. I would like for you to come out here to L.A. and supervise construction of the Wayne Enterprises West Coast building."

"Mr. Wayne, "


"Bruce, what are you talking about? First, I drive all the way from Sunnydale to get here. Then you start to tell me off on how I should or shouldn't live my life. Then you offer me a JOB?"



"I didn't mean to upset you. I was impressed with the work you've done onsite, but your activities outside of work were a concern. Your former supervisor was very impressed with your work, but he stated how you would come into work with bruises or a broken arm. I cannot allow any of the people that work for me here in L.A. to engage in that kind of activity. I just had to be sure you weren't a thug, or gang member. That was one reason for this meeting. I had to read you correctly."

"THAT's why you were trying to confuse and interrogate me?"

"Confuse, no. Interrogate, possibly." Bruce smirked.

"So what was with all of the other____"

"Excuse me gentlemen, but your food is ready."

Xander and Bruce looked up at the waitress as she placed their food on the table. Bruce looked at his Tortelloni di Fizzano. A light and simple dish consisting of Tortelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach in a creamy beef and pork sauce, Tortelloni di Fizzano is for anyone that enjoys classical Italian entré. Then he looked at Xander. Xander got Cheese Ravioli.

They ate in relative silence, Bruce because it was bad manners to speak with food in you mouth and Xander because he was still a little on the defense. The offer of a better job was still lingering on his mind. To be in charge of an entire operation was an incredible responsibility. He was torturing himself. Even though he would never leave Buffy or anyone else with everything that was going on, he still wanted to know that people thought highly of him. As he finished off his plate, he realized that it wasn't worth it. No matter what, he couldn't leave them. He started to get up.

"Don't leave yet."

"Why not?"

"I am sorry for having to quiz you like that."

"Its not that Mr. Wayne."

"Please call me Bruce. You can call me Mr. Wayne if you would come work for me."

"Well, Bruce, I can't come work in L.A. I can't leave my friends. I have a life there."

"Everyone grows up Xander, everyone leaves the nest. Besides, it's only a three-hour drive to Sunnydale from L.A. You could see your friends anytime you want. I am offering you an upper management job. You would supervise the entire construction. Tell me that you aren't thinking about it."

"If it were any other time, I would seriously consider it. But in the end, I can't leave, my friends need me." 'Whether they know it or not,' he thought. "Can you understand that?"

"I understand. I know how important friends and family are." Bruce signaled the waitress to get the check. "Is there anything that I can say to change your mind?"

Xander flashed a lopsided grin. "No, I'm sorry ___ Bruce, but there is no force in heaven or hell that would get me to leave."

"At least I got you to call me 'Bruce.' I understand. Listen, Here is my card. If you change your mind, give me a call. I can always use someone who can hold their own in a verbal fight."

"Thank you Mr. Wayne."

Bruce sighed. "Well small victories always help, even if they are short lived."

Both men stood up. Bruce held out his hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you Mr. Harris."

Xander winced as he shook his hand. "Now I know why you want me to call you Bruce. It was nice to meet you too."

Chapter 3
Part 2 (After Dirty Girls)

Sunnydale General Hospital

"Excuse me Miss, do you know what room Alexander Harris is in?"

"Visiting hours will be over in fifteen minutes sir, you can come back tomorrow between 11 am and 7 pm if you want."

"I promise that I'll only be in there for ten." He flashed his biggest grin. It had worked so many times he lost count. Too bad that anyone that actually knew him shuddered when he used it. "I'm an old friend."

"One of many I'm sure." The nurse continued with her work for a minute before looking back up. "Tell you what, if you're out in five minutes, I don't really care." He waited as she looked it up on the patient registry. "Alexander Harris, room 115. It'll be the fourth door on your left."

"Thank you."

He got to the door and was surprised that there was no one around. From what he heard from the rest of the hospital staff there was a whole group of people that came in with him. Mostly young women who were either being operated on or checking up on the rest of them. He knocked to see if anyone was in. There wasn't an answer, so he opened the door.

He looked around the room, once you've seen one hospital room you've generally seen them all, but it was an old habit to scope out a room just in case. He walked past the foot of the bed to make sure that when Xander looked up he would be on his right side. He knew enough that if he stood on his blind side, he would assume the worst.

"Hello Xander."

"Who is it?"

"Its Bruce Wayne, I had dinner with."

"I remember. Are you coming to take your offer back? I know it's not very wise to hire a foreman that can't see half the site."

"Nothing like that, I just thought you'd like to talk some more."

"About what? About how flat everything is, about how feels to have someone else's fingers in your eye? No thanks were full up of crazy, go somewhere else."

"No, I just wanted to ask you a question?"

"Those were questions."

"Does it change anything?"


"Does it change anything?"

"What do you mean, 'Does it change anything?' of course it changes things. I can't work anymore. My insurance is out. Some of the girls are dead, I wasn't able to help, and I'm even useless than before. I would say 'hell yes' it changes everything."

"Will you stop?"

"Stop what."

"Quit that Xander. I know what's going on. Girls died today, girls what, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old? What the hell were you thinking? They were too young to get into this type of life."

"They didn't choose this."

"What did YOU choose for them?"

"NO, I tried to make sure that they were all ok, I tried to help, and they died. They were coming for the rest of the girls, and we tried to stop them before they could. I don't know who in the hell decided that the fate of the world should rest in the hands on fifteen year old girls, but it sure in hell wasn't me."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I don't have time for this, I have to check up on the girls."

"You are not leaving this room until you tell me what in gods name is going on."

Xander looked up and stared into his face. He looked a little flat compared to the last time he say him. "I may only have one eye, and you might be bigger than me, but there is no force in heaven or earth that is going to keep me from seeing my girls."

"Youre strapped to the bed."


"It seems you were giving the doctors and nurses a hard time, so they strapped you to the bed to keep you from fighting them."

"That wont stop me."

"Xander, youre not doing anyone any good like this."

Xander closed his eye and whispered softly, "I never do any good."

"Just tell me what happened."

They both stayed silent for a while, neither knowing what to do next. Xander needed someone to talk to. Everyone that he knew and actually trusted was too involved in everything. He knew that he could trust Bruce, at least to an extent. Bruce, after he left their meeting in L.A. looked a bit more thoroughly into Sunnydale's past. Years of missing people, unexplained deaths, explosions, the occult showing up, and this little burg had so much terror living in it, that he was amazed. When he got the news that Xander had been severely injured, he decided to come down and figure out just what the hell happens in Sunnydale. He looked Xander in the face and simply said, "What happened?"

Xander looked in Bruce's face and saw that if he didn't tell him, he would probably go out on his own. He breathed deeply and said, "Do you believe in vampires Mr. Wayne?"

Chapter 4
Seeing is Believing

Sunnydale General Hospital,

"Do you believe in vampires Mr. Wayne?"

Bruce Wayne didn't hear the question. He focused on a soft 'Click' from outside the room. Because he was not as invulnerable as some of the people he knew, he was always on the lookout for danger. And due to experience, he knew the sound of a gun being cocked...

'Click.' 'Click.' 'Click.'

Guns being cocked.

"Mr. Wayne, I know that you probably think I'm crazy..." Bruce stated to undo his restraints. "...or maybe not."

"Xander," Bruce hissed quietly as he got Xander's right arm out, "There are four or more people outside with guns, now shut up and help me."

Xander used his free hand to unstrap his left arm and whispered, "What the hell are you talking about?"

Bruce held up his forefinger to his lips and crept towards the door. Xander watched him while he finished undoing his foot restraints. He nodded to Bruce as he slowly turned the lock until they heard the soft little 'click.'


Xander does not remember most, if any, of the soldier memories impressed into him six years ago, but when he heard the order, he was on the floor like white on rice.

Bullets whizzed through the wall, shattering medical devices and furniture. A bringer broke down the door and leveled his gun at Xander. Bruce hit him from the left and knocked him unconscious.

"What the hell?" Bruce looked at his attacker, normally gang members don't sew their eyes and mouths shut. He was about to ask Xander who the hell it was when he remembered the other three gunmen.

The three other bringers charged through the door, knocking Bruce over. Xander managed to get up and bring two of them down with a flying tackle. Bruce fought the remaining attacker. The bringer swung the gun from the left trying to pistol-whip, but Bruce grabbed his wrist and elbow and threw him over his shoulder into one of Xander's opponents.

Xander didn't have any formal weapons or martial arts training, but what he lacked in technique and style, he made up with creativity and ferocity. And after years on the Hellmouth, he could hold his own against lesser demons and minions. He grabbed a syringe on the counter. As the bringer charged him, he brought his right arm around and stabbed him through the temple. "Yeah, how do you like having things stuck in YOUR head, asshole?"

The two remaining bringers split up and rushed at the same time. Xander opted to duck and flip his opponent over and out the window, while Bruce went hand to hand. The bringer had some skill and was a little stronger than an average human being. But Bruce Wayne was never an average human being. The bringer tried to roundhouse him, but he brought out his left arm and caught the leg in mid-stride and flipped him across the room, knocking him unconscious.

"Xander, what the FUCK is going on here." Bruce Wayne is not necessarily one to cuss, but after being attacked by people who could fight very well with their eyes sown shut, not to mention that their EYES AND MOUTH WERE SOWN SHUT, it stands to reason that he deserved some answers.

"Mr. Wayne, like I said, you don't know the half of what my friends and I do. This isn't a gang war or anything, those girls that were with me died because those THINGS___" Xander pointed to the bodies of the four bringers. "___are after them. We've been trying to stop them and save everyone, but these guys are very well coordinated. They've been wearing down our numbers for months. Last week was the first time we tried a full offensive." His hand grazed his eye- patch. "Needless to say, it didn't work."

Bruce looked at this young man who was less than half as old as him talk about warfare, about having to use teenage girls as infantry, but more often cannon fodder. Xander left out the details about the girls being potential slayers and the first evil, and primarily talked about how he believed in someone, but now "it isn't in her hands. I was right earlier. It's about regular people fighting, picking up the slack, and taking charge. Just because someone is in charge, doesn't mean we should always agree with her. I see everything so clearly now____" (A/N for anyone that hasn't seen Dirty Girls, Caleb{bad guy} tells Xander that he is 'the one who sees everything' and then rips out his left eye.)




"Mr. Wayne, I need you to do something for me."

"Anything Xander, just tell__"

"Here, call this number, tell a girl named Dawn that I'm going to be there as soon as I can and to get everyone."

"Wait a minute, give me a reason."

Xander cut him off and said, "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die."


"Please, just do it."


Xander looked at Bruce square in the face. "I know that I sound crazy, but I figured out what went wrong. I know how to fix it. I need you to call this number and just tell her I'm on my way."

"Xander, I have no idea what the hell is going on here. If I find out that you are anything less than an angel, I am going to get my answers in a very unpleasant way," Bruce got his cell phone from his left pocket, "Wait downstairs, I'll drive you."

Xander smiled as he got dressed and left the room. "It's ok, my friends left my car in the parking lot." He really liked Bruce. He was a very good fighter for someone his age, or any age really. "But please do me a favor, don't say 'angel' in this hospital it has some unhappy connotations for me."

Bruce groaned. 'My life just loves getting more complicated.' He thought. Then the phone picked up. "Hello, is this Dawn? Yes, this is Bruce Wayne, Alexander Harris told me to call you and say that 'he's going to be there as soon as he can and to get everyone.' Yes, thank you. Now could you tell me___*click, dial tone* never mind."

Bruce put the cell phone back into his pocked. 'Dawn must be Dawn Summers, the younger sister of Elizabeth Summers. I know that they're all friends; they're probably meeting at their house. I can get some answers there.'

He walked out the door and down the hall.


Chapter 5
With My Own Two Hands

Front Lawn, 1630 Revello Drive,

Many things that lived in Sunnydale came out at night. Some came out to feed, some came to plot and kill, some came out to defend the night, and some came simply to enjoy the dark night sky. None of them were near 1630 Revello Drive, except for one lone figure. A house that withstood evil mask possessions, resurrections, full frontal attacks, demons, vampires, twenty teenage girls, and everything else that had been thrown at it was reduced to ashes. Xander sat on the lawn in front of the remains. He was too late. He knew that the First wasn't playing by the rules, that it would sooner or later use technology; guns, bombs, nerve gas, with the new big bad everything was fair game. He had only hoped that everyone got out alive. "Quit kidding yourself," he said aloud. It was a Tuesday; nothing for the last seven years had EVER gone right on a Tuesday.

He stood up and started to walk back to the car. He had to get his emotions in line. Maybe if he lived, he'd mourn, but for now, he had to make sure that the First would pay. He knew that it was suicide, but hell, out with the old and in with the new. The battle was an ongoing one, players on both sides were continuously getting mowed down and replaced. A new slayer would be called, maybe even two. He wasn't anyone special. Even with two eyes he had barely made a difference. If he went down, someone would step up. He knew that all over the world, hundreds and thousands of different groups, human and demon were trying to take over or kill the world, but it hadn't ended yet. If one side gained the upper hand, the other side raises the bar. He stopped and looked back at the house. 'No' he thought. He was going to be damned if the First gained one more inch. He had lived far too long, survived far too much, and lost far too many to go down like that. He was the last Scooby left. And he was going to make sure that those assholes knew it. Xander stared at the quiet hole that had been the Summers' residence. It was more of a home than his house had even been.


The first slayer looked at Xander. "You will be the last of your line."

(End Flashback)

'So be it.'

He walked up to his car and started to get his keys out of his pocket.

A figure walked out of the darkness. It was a man in a gray and black costume with a black cape. On his chest was a circle with pointed ears and what looked like a wing. "I finally figured out exactly what was going on in this <pause> 'nice' little town."

Xander stared in disbelief, and then laughed. "You have GOT to be kidding me."

The figure was not amused. Before Xander could react, he ran up to him, grabbed his left arm by the elbow and wrist and effortlessly flipped him over his back onto the grass.

Xander wasn't happy. If he had been able to see the man before he came up on his left side, he would have been able to counter. And he could have sworn that he saw that move before. "That wasn't fair, I couldn't see you."

"You think that vampire or demons care that you lost an eye? You think that they'll only come from your right side? They don't care; they'll exploit every advantage they can get. And you know it. So quit acting like you don't know what is going on."

"Just let me up, will ya?"

The man let go of Xander and watched as he stood up. "Come now Xander, how can you expect to make a difference if you don't believe in yourself?"

Xander lost it and shouted, "WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Everyone that I have ever cared about is probably either in the coroner's office or buried under THAT. I'm going to get those bastards and make them pay. I don't care what you have to say, but you can go fuck yourself for all I care."

The man stood still and looked at him. He knew that the drugs and painkillers that Xander was on should have kept him disoriented and weak. In the very least he shouldn't have been able to make the journey from the hospital to the house without falling asleep. It should have been nearly impossible for him to be able to try to fight off anyone as he had earlier. He could tell that although his body was still adjusting to loosing an eye, he was still coordinated and strong. He spoke. "You haven't been taking your medication have you?"

Xander was so surprised by the question that he answered in true Xander form. "Does Advil count?"


"Then no." Xander didn't like taking the meds. The First didn't pull any punches. He needed the pain and the fear to keep alive. He could beat the First, he just knew he could, and after everything that had happened, he had to.

The man walked towards the ruins of the house, but didn't look at him. "Believe it or not, but I've fought some demons in my time. I actually knew a slayer or two. I have been in this game for a long time Xander, and I know how hard it is to fight the darkness. Sometimes there is so much evil out there that you don't think about the others. It has been a couple of years since I have gone against the demon variety; usually I stick to the human kind."

The stranger came up to Xander's face and he could see that behind the mask there was a pair of human eyes, full of both pain and strength.

"I've been looking at you for some time, Xander; first with a slight curiosity, then with some respect. And you are right. It IS hard to take yourself seriously when you deal with 'imaginary things.' It is even harder to keep a line between the monsters you fight and the monster that you can become. And it is unbearable when you lose people to the darkness. But would you walk away?"

Xander thought for a second. If it were last year or even early last week, he would never have hesitated. Losing his eye was traumatic; losing the Scoobies destroyed what little faith he had in 'justice'. He had adjusted a lot physically, but mentally he didn't know what type of state he was in. Was he staying because it was the right thing to do or because it was the only thing he knew? Either way, the answer was the same. "No."

The man looked at him with a stoically. "If you didn't hesitate, I would think you were crazy."

Xander smiled for the first time since the attack. "I fight demons and vampires while building the high school that sits over the Hellmouth in suburban California. I just lost probably everyone I ever knew and cared about in that crater. I want to take on the First Evil and a guy dressed like a priest that jabbed out my eye. I AM nuts."

The man smiled at him, then looked towards the street and held out his right arm.


Xander heard a set of tires squealing. He whipped around to see a long, sleek, black car pull up to the curb a couple feet away. The front half of the roof slid forward with a whoosh. The man gestured to the car and said, "Get in."

Xander stood with his mouth open. That car was the coolest thing he had ever seen. And Xander had once seen Faith naked.

The man got impatient. "Get in the damn car Xander."

""Wait a minute now, I am NOT getting in a car with a guy who looks like__" Xander held up his hands and took a step back remembering the last time he had insulted the stranger. "__he is very intelligent and strong."

"I promise I wont bite."

"For some reason that isn't helping me."

The man, once again, was not amused. But before he could say anything he saw figures surrounding them. "Vampires."

Xander saw the advancing group and saw the vampires weren't alone. He quickly got out two of his stakes that he always kept on him and threw one to the stranger. The man caught the stake with one hand and looked at it with a smile. "No thanks, I came prepared." The man lowered his other hand, took three tiny metallic shaped balls from his belt and threw them towards the attackers.

The three spheres bounced on the ground and rolled towards the vampires. Just as the group reached them, they released a cloud of greenish white gas. The vampires screamed as their skin came in contact with the gas and started to bubble and melt before they erupted into flames.

The man then turned towards Xander and explained "Holy water/garlic cocktail with a little 'kick' to help jumpstart the fire."

Even before he became a soldier for a night, Xander had wondered how effective a weapon like that would work on vampires. "Isn't that expensive?"

The man smiled. "Yes it is."

Although the gas was extremely effective against the vampires, the five bringers were unfazed. Xander looked at the stranger as the both took a fighting stance. It seemed so familiar. He turned to face his attackers. As the bringers came closer into view, he whispered to himself, "Didn't these guys have guns?"

'Click' 'Click' 'Click' 'Click' 'Click'


Chapter 6
Eye for an Eye

Front Lawn, 1630 Revello Drive,


As the bringers were surrounding Xander and the masked man, the man took the black remote that he used to call the car and pressed a series of buttons. Xander looked at him. "What are you doing?"

The man didn't answer. He only smiled and pressed one last button.


The forgotten car sprang to life and jumped the curb. The bringers must have had their ears sown shut because they didn't hear it coming. The car ran into three of the bringers in the rear leaving only the two in the front to deal with. The remaining bringers opened fire.


Xander and the man rolled out of the line of fire and took cover behind the car. He was surprised that the two of them weren't injured. For all of the bringers' hand-to-hand ability, they couldn't shoot worth shit.

They could hear the bullets ricochet off of the car's armor. Little *clink*s followed the sounds of gunshots in the cool Sunnydale night. The man turned to Xander. "Wait till we can hear them run out of ammo."

Xander nodded and waited for a lull in the shooting. It didn't take long. As soon as it came, the man said, "Go" and jumped on the top of the car and launching into a flying crescent kick. Xander ran around the side of the car and tackled his opponent, effectively disarming him.

The masked man's kick had knocked the bringer back several feet and tossed the pistol that he was carrying into the smoldering timbers of the Summers house. The bringer still had some skill and attempted a flying haymaker. The man caught it in mid air, rolled onto his back and flipped it through the window of the house next door. He then heard an inhuman scream and turned to see how Xander was faring against his opponent.

The first thing that Xander had noticed when he tackled the bringer was although his eyelids were sown shut, his eyes were still there. The stupid fools actually had eyes, but had their lids sown shut. Why the hell would anyone WANT to be blind. Xander felt his blood boil. Xander and the bringer rolled on the ground, both trying to get the upper hand. The bringer threw Xander a couple of feet onto the ground. While the bringer had more physical strength, Xander's rage was becoming almost psychotic. He relentlessly started to attack the bringer. 'After all,' he made a feral growl not heard in years, 'an eye for an eye.' He channeled all the pain, all the loss, and all the disappointment onto this one creature standing infront of him, mocking him. He wasn't able to work, he wasn't able to save his friends, hell, he wasn't even able to even see the left side of a room when he walked in. He was a liability to his family, a nuisance to his peers, and a joke to his friends. And all of it was this bastard's fault. When he screamed and charged the bringer one last time, he later could have sworn that it had a look of fear on its face.

The masked man turned to see Xander ferociously attack his opponent. Any blows inflicted on him didn't even faze him. He was screaming with so much raw anger and hurt in his voice that the man thought his vocal cords were bleeding. The bringer was no longer putting up a fight; Xander had knocked it to the ground and was sitting on its chest punching its face.

Xander couldn't feel his knuckles anymore. He wasn't sure if the blood on them was from the bringer or him. When he was sufficiently convinced that the bringer was no longer a threat. He stood up, wiped the blood on his shirt and walked towards the tall, masked man.

When he was directly infront of the man. The man nodded and turned towards the car. He understood that Xander had probably lost everyone that had meant a damn to him in the explosion. He needed to take that out on something before they could figure out what to do next. Looking at the bringer lying on the ground, he was glad that it wasn't him. He looked back at Xander who was still looking at the smoking ashes of the house and motioned back towards the car. "Follow Me."

Xander simply sighed and nodded as he started to walk towards the car. The man pressed another button on his remote and the top moved forward with a similar 'whoosh' as before. The man jumped into the air and landed gracefully into the drivers side seat. Xander started to walk around the back towards the passenger side. When he found that there were no doors and that he would have to climb into the car he cursed silently to himself. All the man heard was something about "small favors" and "car's butt monkey." The man decided to keep quiet for a minute.

Xander smiled sarcastically and looked at the dashboard filled with beeping lights and controls. Normally he would start to think about playing with them, seeing what each button does. Instead he turned back towards his former surrogate home for the past few years. He still couldn't believe it. After everything that happened, he wasn't there to defend the house or the people in it. He simply couldn't believe it. He closed his eyes to say a silent prayer. When he was done he looked back at the dashboard.

The masked man sat watching Xander, he knew that he had to have a little privacy to sort out his anger and emotions. When he felt that Xander was done he spoke, "Where to?"

Xander let out a small sigh before looking at the man and letting a small tired smile creep on his face. "Where else? Sunnydale High."

Chapter 7

Main Street, Sunnydale

Xander looked out of the window. It was almost surreal. The buildings, cars, benches, trees were all there, but there was no one around. When they first started on their way to the high school, he almost thought that it was an optical illusion. Everything looked so flat and uneven, and to top it off, there wasn't a living soul in sight. 'Or an undead one either.' He thought. He looked back at the dashboard. Little buttons and lights were flashing on and off. It was a little hypnotizing especially the big red button off to the side. He wondered what would happen.

"Don't press that one."

Xander looked at the stranger again. Another one of his 'optical illusions.' A strangely frightening man in a Halloween costume that drove a car that looked like it was stolen from a movie back lot. 'God,' he thought to himself, 'I thought algebra was confusing.'

The man noticed Xander looking at him for a minute. He could feel the tension and anger stat to ebb down from him. It was how he expected Xander to react after going out of control. He would start to make jokes in his head and try to distract himself from what had happened earlier. Nobody likes to admit that they have a dark side. Xander, for all of his compassion and love and devotion to his friends also had as much anger. He thought that he could always control it. After leaving his bride at the altar and trying to act against what he had seen in his childhood, the man mused that Xander was truly frightened of that part of himself. The man knew how he felt. But he also knew that you have to recognize it, accept it, and embrace it in order to really control it.

"Where is everyone?"

The man was brought out of his train of thought by the question. "They all left, except for a few who were at the hospital and other emergency services, but I suspect that they'll leave soon."


The man kept an eye on the road. "Can't you feel that?"

Xander nodded.

The man continued. "All living things have a sense about danger. Have you ever noticed or heard about animals leaving before an earthquake or a storm. The greater a disaster, the stronger that sense is felt and the more people believe it. It seems that many people in Sunnydale knew about what goes on when the sun went down." He turned to face Xander. "Only a few actually stood up against the night. But now everyone has that feeling and its so strong that either the incredibly stupid or incredibly brave are staying."

Xander smiled. "Which one are we?"

The man smirked back "That remains to be seen."

Xander looked back outside as they passed the Bronze. Memories of everything that happened started to flow back. He turned back to face the men. "Do you know if anyone made it out of the house?"

The man was waiting for that question. "I don't know. From what I could tell, there were no bodies at the scene, and the explosion happened not that long ago, so I really can't say who was there and who made it out."

Xander was expecting that answer. "Yeah, I know, you can hope though right?"

The man tried to give him a little smile. "Right."

Xander looked back out of the window. They were all survivors. Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Giles, Faith, Anya, hell even Wood, Spike, and the rest of the girls. Strait all down the line they were survivors. Even as he tried to build some hope back up there was a large nagging feeling in the back of his head and the pit of his soul. They didn't make it. As much as he knew that they were alive, he knew that they were dead.

The man watched as Xander tried to gather himself. He knew it was hard. He had been there before. He thought back to the day when he lost his apprentice to the forces of darkness. It clouded his mind and turned him against himself. He blamed himself for so long, and still did a little. He knew that the guilt would probably never go away. He had accepted that. The same was happening to Xander, only they kicked the all of the legs out from under him, but didn't leave him the ability to have peace of mind.

Back and forth, back and forth, Xander couldn't bring himself to make a decision. Dead or alive. Lost or found. He couldn't choose. If he acknowledged that they were dead, he knew in his heart that he would never find them. If he believed that they were alive, he would only lead himself on blind hope only to find that they were really and truly dead. 'Dammit Xander, quit being such a fucking wuss.' He could hear his father start to talk in his mind. 'Any friends that you'll get, they'll leave. You just aint good enough.' For years he believed what his dad had said. First he wasn't good enough for the popular kids, later he wasn't good enough to help with the slaying, now he wasn't good enough to save his friends. He had been to so many peoples' funerals in the past 23 years. Kendra, Tara, Ms. Calendar, Jesse, they were all dead. Even before he was introduced to vampires, there were people missing from school every day, friends, family, acquaintances, they were all gone. He could have done something then and he could have done something now.

"I know what youre thinking."

Xander looked up at the man like he was a three-headed goat. "What the hell are you talking about?"

The man looked over at Xander as he continued to drive. "Think that youre the only one that lost people?"

Xander kept quiet.

"Everyone looses people Xander, its part of life, regardless of what you can do. I lost my parents, both of them. In one second my life was turned around. I was just a nine-year-old kid when I saw the dead bodies of the two people I loved the most in the world die on the sidewalk. They were my entire family, and I lost them in a split second. That's how I was introduced into this world, by loosing my mother and father."

Xander looked the man in the face. "Demon?"

The man shook his head. "Like I said, most of the time I deal with the evils of the 'human' variety. Most demons have an excuse; they don't know any better. People are different. People have souls. I have seen things that humans will do to each other that would make demons disgusted."

Xander remained silent, taking in what the man said.

"Who did you lose Xander?"


The man knew that this was still a touchy subject, but went a little further. "Who was the first?"

Xander sighed. He felt guilty. It had been a while since he thought about him. "My best friend growing up, he was a great guy. He got turned the day I met Buffy, the slayer. He came back for a ritual called 'the Harvest.'"

"A ritual used to strengthen master vampires."

"That's the one. I came with Buffy and tried to help out in the fight when he comes up and starts to tell me how great it is to be a vampire. For a second I think I might have actually believed him. Then a crowd came through and he got pushed on my stake. I had to kill him."

The man nodded. He knew what it was like to have to kill vampires who he had previously known. "What was his name?"

Xander smiled a little. "Jesse. What were your parents' names?"

The stranger grinned. "Mom and Dad."

Xander chuckled. He was glad that someone was together enough to make jokes. It makes things easier to deal with.

He looked back to the road to see Sunnydale High come up. The man pulled alongside a school bus infront of the school. The roof slided forward with its resonant 'whoosh.' Xander jumped out of the car. "Do you have any swords?"

The masked man jumped out of the car and walked towards the back, he reappeared infront of Xander with two swords. He held a long silver katana, and handed a German style broadsword to Xander.

As they walked toward the entrance, the man spoke to Xander. "Normally I would have a problem with killing people."

Xander looked back at him. "These things are neither alive nor people."

The man smiled as he pushed one of the doors open and walked in. "Hence why I don't have a problem."

Chapter 8

Sunnydale High School,

Xander and the stranger walked through the halls of the high school. Xander had built the school himself and therefore suggested that the fastest way to the seal beneath the school was through the cafeteria and theatre. He held his broadsword tightly. The feeling that the stranger mentioned was getting stronger and stronger the closer they got to the seal. He looked over at his partner to ask if he felt it too, who only nodded in agreement.

The man was making sure that he had Xander's left side covered. He was positive that Xander could hold his own in battle. He had proved it on several occasions, but he had a potential weakness. He hated thinking about people in terms of strengths and weaknesses, but it was necessary. Those he had fought alongside with had classified him as a `potential weak point.' He was only human, not as strong or fast or powerful as the rest. He knew how Xander had felt before the injury. He could only imagine how he felt now. Before, he was only human, now he was crippled.


Their thoughts were interrupted by a loud scream coming from down the hallway. Xander and the man rushed across the corridor. The man was the first to arrive. He saw a young brunette fighting against a mixture of vampires and bringers, protected only by a sword and a few holes in the ceiling. He quickly took three metal spheres and threw them at the attacking horde, while charging the survivors with his katana. At that point Xander burst through the doors and, after seeing the stranger's cape melt into the giant melee, dived in screaming and swinging his broadsword. He didn't see the brunette look at him with a mixture of fear, shock, and happiness as he disappeared into a green and white cloud of fists and swords.

The gas released by the spheres had, for the most part, taken care of the vampires. Few of the bringers were armed with an assortment of melee weapons; most were counting on hand-to-hand combat. They were sorely disappointed.

The man, in all of his years of combat and training had the natural grace and strength of a man half of his age in the peak of his prime. He effortlessly was able to take down three bringers in his initial thrust into the group. The ones that were armed came against him first. Swords, knives, and fists were brought down upon him, but he was able to counter. He kicked a knife out of a bringer's hand and watched as it flew into another's skull. He was starting to wear out when he heard a familiar battle cry and saw Xander jump into the fight. With renewed vigor, he brought the sleek katana down and slashed thought two bringers necks and a thirds abdomen.

Xander swung his broadsword tightly through a few bringers and thrust at the end of his sweep to bring the sword back up and, in the process decapitate another. Two bringers came from behind and were able to knock him to the floor. He punched one in the face and kicked the other in the chest while struggling to get up. As soon as he did, he saw the two try the same maneuver again and brought his sword up at the last second, effectively impaling them. He pushed the bodies off the blade with his foot and went to help the stranger.

When they were done they both looked at each other and sighed. Save for a few cuts, slashes and bruises, they were more or less fine. Xander dropped his broadsword and bent down for a breath.


Xander turned to see a head of brown hair hug and tackle him to the floor.


Xander hugged the girl tight and kissed her forehead. They were alive. They were alive.

"Oh god, Xander, we didn't know what happened to you. The house blew up, we had to go to___" She looked up at Xander's face and started to cry again. "Oh god Xander, your eye."

Xander was crying through his one remaining eye. "Its okay Dawnie. I'm just so happy youre ok."

He squeezed her in his arms. She was safe. They were safe. He was safe. Everything was going to be all right. Thank you God. He hugged her so hard with all of the strength he could muster. After a minute he realized that Dawn probably couldn't breathe and let her go for a second. "What happened?"

Dawn looked at the strange man in what seemed to be a Halloween costume. "Who's he?"

Xander looked back at the man who seemed to be letting them have a second to get up to date, but wanted to move on. "He gave me a ride. But that's not the point. What's the plan? Where is everyone?"

Dawn quickly filled them in.

The man was listening intently when he overheard something that he couldn't believe. "WHAT?"

Dawn was scared by the man's outburst, but Xander reassured her. "Spike is going to wear the Orb of Orkasomething, it's supposed to give the fighter the strength to beat the First."

The man stood still for a second realizing the gravity of what the seventeen year old just said. "A vampire was given an Orb with `incredible power' in order to beat the being that controlled it for over a month."

Dawn replied, "Well, yeah."

Xander ignored the man for the time being and turned back to Dawn. "Where are they now?"

"They're in the Hellmouth."

"IN the Hellmouth?"

Dawn replied meekly. "Yes."

"Dawn, its ok, its not your fault, Go to Giles and Wood. Me and ... my friend will block this way so no more demons can get out, but we've got to go see Buffy."

As Xander and the man ran towards the basement door, he heard a voice cry out, "GOOD LUCK!" He quickly spun around and shouted back, "YOU TOO!"

Chapter 9

The Hellmouth

The two men staggered down the steps. They were bloody, sweaty, bruised and beaten, but they had gotten there. Xander saw the battle rage on. The demons were slowly overrunning the SITs. Buffy was on the floor bleeding and Faith and Spike were outnumbered. He told the man to follow him and help Buffy up. He felt a figure next to him say in a singsong voice, "Xannnn-derrrrr."

He turned to see Buffy stand next to him. She smiled. "I was wondering when you'd show."

He heard a British voice shout "BLOODY HELL!"

The First as Buffy crossed her arms. "I was starting to think you'd be late."

He turned to see Spike starting to glow. It became so bright that he had to close his eyes.


The Desert

Xander opened his eye. He was on the side of a small desert road. There were high voltage power lines running parallel to the road and a small trailer off in the distance. Other than that, all he could see was desert for miles around.

"Where are we?"

He turned to see the stranger standing around in confusion. "I don't know."

"The Desert." The men turned to see a bald Caleb kneeling on the ground in chains. "When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt." He looked at them with a smile. "They wandered The Desert for forty days and forty__"

Xander rushed towards Caleb and drew his sword to his neck. "Die you son of a bitch."

The man grabbed Xander and pulled him back. "He can't tell us anything if he is dead."

Caleb smiled as he looked between the two. "Woe unto thee who refuses thy salvation. For those whose sins go unpunished shall never be clean."

Xander looks at the man and says sarcastically, "He's not really saying anything now."

"Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Lust, Pride, Envy, Wrath. These are the sins forged by man. It is by holy light that I was born to cleanse thy sins."

The man moved Xander behind Caleb and told him to be patient. He walked over infront of Caleb and bent over to come face to face. "For a `preacher,' you really don't know scripture that well. Now tell us, where are we? What are we doing here?"

Caleb smiled evilly as he looked into the man's eyes. "You are here to bear testament to my work. The Desert is where the unjust are sent to be judged and cleansed."

The man frowned and turned back to Xander. "I have a bad feeling about this."

Xander agreed. As they were talking, he saw a van driving along the road. "Watch him, I'm going to take a look at the van. Don't let him move."

Xander held his position behind Caleb. "Don't worry, ol' Cal and I are gonna have a nice little talk about being a good person." As the man walked away Xander turned back to Caleb and started to talk again. "First lesson: Don't help a force of evil try to take over the world. Second lesson: DON'T STICK YOUR DAMN FINGERS IN OTHER PEOPLES EYE SOCKETS!!!"


"Third lesson."


As the man approached the delivery van, it slowed down. When it stopped, a young man dressed in a UPS uniform got out of the van with a cardboard box. He seemed a little cautious of the masked man "Excuse me. Are you__" the young man looked at the name on the box "__Alexander Harris?"

The masked man replied stoically. "Yes."

The young man handed the box over and frantically got back into the car and drove away.


He turned to see a young woman with blond hair cross her arms and stare at him. "Well it doesn't matter now, it's all in place."

"What are you talking about?"

The woman smiled evilly and nodded towards the box.


"The creature known as Spike. His sin is Gluttony. The unclean drank the blood of the innocents but shall never quench his thirst."

"Great, the preachers talking about the desert and a thirst quencher. Just do me a favor and shut the hell up." Xander saw the man in the distance holding a box. "HEY, WHATS IN THE BOX?"

"Woe unto the slothenly, for they shall never be admitted into the kingdom. Those who watch sent off innocents to die, but never fought the darkness themselves."

"Hey I was never a fan of the Watchers, but at least they were technically on the side of the goodness." Xander was starting to get annoyed by Caleb's insane prose. He looked at him quizzically. "When did you shave your head?"

The stranger was still off in the distance. He would go over to him, but he had to make sure that they wouldn't lose Caleb. "HEY, uh, GUY!! HEY, WHAT'S IN THE BOX?"


The man ignored Xander's questions. "Who are you?"

The blond smiled, "Don't you recognize me? I bet Xander over there would. Maybe this__" the blond morphed into an teenager in a red jumpsuit with a black and yellow cape. "__might remind you."

The man took a step back in shock. "Robin."


"Greed fuels those whose only quest is for power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The witch's sin is greed, for she would forsake all in her quest for power."

Xander felt anger rise in him. "Willow is not evil."

"She is a witch. She is one of the unclean. And she still craves power."

"I was able to bring her back. She's better now."

Caleb's eyes widened as he grinned. "I haven't gotten to you yet."


"Not really, just a little piece of Robin that was left behind."

The First as Robin circled the man. "It's been a few years hasn't it? And youre still going out there, fighting on, as if it never happened. You know that denial isn't just a river in Egypt."

"You're dead. Joker killed__"

The First suddenly morphed into an older man with pasty white skin and greenish hair. "Yeah I'm dead too Bats, aint it a shame? All this," The First spun madly around with his arms open. "Its so fantastic. The end of the world and the corruption of a good soul, to think that I'm going to miss it, it well," the First did a fake sob. "It makes me sad." The first then broke into a wide grin. "But it should still be a good laugh." The Joker's insane smile turned into a childlike pout. "Youre friend over there." He motioned to Xander. "He's going to need a good laugh."

The dark knight lunged at the First but only went through think air. "What are you talking about?"

The Joker smiled again. "Open the box."


"The dark slayer is a whore the likes of Sodom and Gomorrah. She uses sex to define her existence, but you would know what wouldn't you? Lust is not the only sin of Slayers."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever Sparky. Faith may be a little messed up, but she's on the side of the Angels...now."

"Pride goeth before the fall. For the Slayer was indeed prideful, and her fall was most enjoyable. In some cases she would not still be considered human."

"Hey I am living proof that Buffy is a little bullheaded. But she is still the slayer. I may not be able to follow her blindly, if you'll forgive the pun, but I still can respect her and love her."

"No, youre in love with the other one. Your vengeance demon. You belong to her as she belongs to you. I must admit, for being a bitch of hell, she was incredibly beautiful."

Xander thrust the tip of his broadsword to the back of Caleb's neck. "What the fuck are you saying?"

Caleb gulped. "I too am only human. I found that I have the same faults as the rest of mankind. I was tested and I failed. I was jealous of what you had Xander. Envy is my sin."

Xander took a step back, taking in what Caleb was saying. "Oh no."

"When my bringers brought her to me I was captivated. I wanted to play husband and wife with her, but she refused."

Xander ran infront of Caleb and held up the sword to Caleb's throat. "You LIE!!!"

Caleb responded. "When she declined, I decided that you deserved a present, a little reward, for having such a devoted woman."

Xander's eye widened and he turned and cried at the man. "WHAT THE FUCK IS IN THE FUCKING BOX?!?!?!?!?"


Batman heard Xander's scream as he carefully opened the box. "Oh God."

"Recognize me now?" He turned to the First who appeared as the same woman from before.


The woman nodded, "Yes I know what's in the box."

Batman's eyes widened in realization. "Oh my god, I know who you are." He started to run back towards Xander.

From inside the box, a whisp of golden blond hair cropped out.

The demon known as Anyanka smiled.


Batman started running faster and faster. The thoughts on past conversations running through his head.

-`My friends are my life, I'd do ANYTHING for them.'-

-`I have never, EVER killed another human being.'-

-`It's about regular people fighting, picking up the slack, and taking charge.'-

-`I'm going to get those bastards and make them pay.'-



Xander started to walk back and forth. "NO! NO! You son of a bitch. OH GOD!"

He bent over and started to throw up.

From behind, Caleb closed his eyes and raised his face towards the sky with a little smile on his face.

Xander brought his broadsword around and pointed it at Caleb.


He turned to see the man running towards him. "CALEB HOLDS THE CARDS NOW DON'T DO ANYTHING!"




"LISTEN, whatever he said."


Anger consumed him. There was only one thing that could save him, and even then it wasn't really in the name of goodness. Spite. The man pleaded with him. "If you kill him, HE WINS. THE FIRST WINS. WE LOSE. DO YOU__WANT__IT ALL TO BE FOR NOTHING?"

When he looked into the stranger's eyes he knew. Anya was dead. He loved her. He truly did. Part of him still thought that they could be salvaged. Sure she was a vengeance demon that got left at the altar. But they loved each other. `Love overcomes everything. Except death.'

Caleb smiled as he watched the two argue; he knew what Xander was capable of doing. He only needed a little `push.' "She begged for her life."

Both Xander and the man looked at Caleb.

"Her life and the life of her unborn child."

The man looked into Xander's eye. He felt him shatter. Xander couldn't believe it. It wasn't true. Even when Anya was hurt when Glory's tower fell. When Willow was on the rampage. He always knew that she would be fine. No, Anya was alive. And if Anya was pregnant, she would have told him. "NO!! nonononononono. You lying son of a bitch." He looked at the man. "Tell me it isn't true. Tell me. TELL ME!!"

The man could not lie. He simply stared at Xander, trying to convey what emotion and compassion he could.

Beside them, Caleb bowed his head. He opened his eyes and looked at Xander with both hope and menace. He spoke softly. "Become anger Xander. Become Wrath."


Chapter 10

The Desert

Hundreds of neurons fire in the human brain each second. Millions of thoughts, dreams, emotions, carry through the synapses in the human brain. In a split second, decisions are changed, made, broken. But in each living thing, each neuron is based on one decision. One choice. Left or right? Up or Down? Fight or Flight? Anything can be simplified down to a choice between two outcomes: yes or no.

Xander Harris stood between two outcomes: kill or don't kill. In killing, he not only takes another life, he would change who he is. He would be a murderer. Sure, he had killed hundreds of vampires, demons, and other hellish creatures. But this was different. Caleb was still human. Even animals in the wild only kill if they have to. Out of need for food or defense. How would killing Caleb solve anything? Would Anya be back? Would she forgive him for leaving her, for letting her die? Would he have been a father? Would they have lived happily ever after? No, he knew that they wouldn't. Nothing could ever bring them back. Anya died a vengeance demon. Perhaps it would be a fitting tribute. To her work, to her cause, to her.

He'd still be a murderer. Look what happened to Faith. She was back now, but after so long. Ever since Willow killed Warren he hadn't been able to look at her the same way. He still loved her, but it was like a little piece of his mind that every time he looked at her, he saw Warren skinned alive. He wasn't under anyone's influence. He wasn't addicted to black magic. It would be a choice. He would be killing in cold blood. Out of anger, out of hate, out of rage or spite, it would still be a conscious decision.

The only thing it would do is making him feel better. 'An eye for an eye.' The First tried to change the rules, but the oldest ones still apply.


The man knew what was happening. If Xander killed Caleb, the First's work would be complete. The seven mortal sins of man. All of the others had given in to their darker sides and committed their sins, knowingly and longingly. Xander was the last.

He remembered what Caleb had said, 'You are here to bear testament to my work. The Desert is where the unjust are sent to be judged and cleansed.'

But how does committing the sins complete the First's plans? He looked at Caleb with his head nodded down and his eyes staring impassively at Xander. He looked at his priests collar. The sins of man. 'When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they wandered The Desert for forty days and forty' nights because they sinned. They SINNED. They created a false god; they were idolaters. The Desert is where men's true selves are judged and punished. Xander was being judged. The man began to fear for Xander's sake as well as his own. Xander was being judged and mankind was being tried. But why him?

He looked at Xander. He wasn't anyone special. He wasn't anyone special. All the others were human, more or less, but he was the only real one there. His core had always remained. 'I don't go out looking for fights or anything because I think I am God. I AM only human and that is what gives me the right to help people in any way that I can.' His faults, his weaknesses, his strengths, everything he had inside of him was human. He knew the darkness and stood for the light. He could not succumb to temptation. He had to distract him and make him see what was happening.

He shouted, "Why are you here?"


"Why are you here?"

Xander lost all train of thought. "What?"

"How did we get here? Why is he in chains? Why does he want you to kill him?"

Xander looked at the man, tears streaked down his face. "How the hell should I know? He's fucking crazy."

The man replied. "He WANTS you to kill him. Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Lust, Pride, Envy, Wrath. If you kill him, YOU become WRATH. Its what he wants."


"NO. You want Anya back. Killing him is not going to do that."

He said it. Anya was dead. Xander knew it. They both knew it. Where there was blinding hot rage there was now cold indifference. Xander felt that one small part of himself fighting to keep from drowning in a sea of apathy and despair start to falter. He felt his face start to cool down. It was better to feel rage than nothing at all.


The First didn't like how things were starting to look. Xander had to be kept in the heat of the moment. The man was not supposed to come, but it thought that he would have no bearing on the outcome. It knew about his secrets. He was tainted with darkness. That was why Caleb chose Xander. He was still pure. Pure of heart and soul. He had been conflicted with his love for Anya and wanted to not hurt her. But it was still pure. He also was the only one of the fighters to not have any magical essence left in him. The magic from the Halloween incident as well as the hyena were gone from misuse. He was 100 percent human. Everyone else had sinned, but Xander had not yet chosen his slot in hell.

The Orb was supposed to trigger the cleansing light so that the final judgment could be made. Only something human could be allowed in. The man was wholly human as well and had been transported with him. The same went for Caleb, but Caleb was planned for. Caleb had incredible strength and stamina, but that was not from magic. What people did not realize was that energy is energy. Power is power. Whether by magic or science. Steroids and drugs are purely human creations and it was simple enough to have the preacher on a steady diet of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones.

The Orb's cleansing light banishes all magic from the Desert. The First wasn't magic. It was human. From the temptation at the tree of knowledge with Adam and Eve, to Pandora and her box, to the kid that stole a Butterfinger Bar at the local 7-11 when they thought that the clerk wasn't watching, the First thrived on it. It didn't create evil in Man. The First Evil WAS the evil in Man.

The First watched Xander's face as he made a decision.


Xander turned to Caleb and said coldly, "I'll see you in hell."


The First as Anyanka smiled. "Yes you will."



A decision made. A slot reserved.