The Cerridewn Intent

Author: Banquo <jasonbautista[at]>

Rating: R

Summary: Future fic. A former member of the Scooby gang reflects on the life he had left behind. But when that life comes back to haunt him, it puts not only him but his wife in the danger he thought he left behind. This is an AU, and it is a BtVS crossover, but I don't want give away what show quite yet, but I forewarn you that I will be taking some creative liberties with that universe as well. Also this is a future fic.

Archive: Go right ahead. Just notify me if you decide to archive any of my stuff. I'd like to know where all my stuff goes you know.

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Chapter One
The Beginning

Unknown Military Medical Facility
April 2016

He looked down at his wife lying unconscious on the hospital bed. The steady beeping of the heart monitor telling him what he knew already, his wife was strong; she would live. For the longest time she had been his rock, steady ground that was the foundation of his life.

He could still remember the time when he had assumed that role for her. When they had lost the baby. The best doctors in the best facilities treated her and yet all that could do nothing as their child had been still born.

He could still remember hearing her cries asking what was wrong with the baby, her maternal instincts and training kicking in at once. It took nearly half the ward to restrain her and it was only because her body was exhausted from the delivery. If she wasn't she would have torn the hospital down with her bare hands.

He could remember the sad look in the doctor's eyes as he told him the news. He didn't remember how he made his way to her side. He only knew that he had to hold her and comfort her, calm her in her time of need.

After that, they both buried themselves with their work. With work they relied on each other and their lives were left behind. They could ignore the pain and just find comfort with each other. But today something went horribly wrong.

They had missed something, a miscalculation, misinterpretation, something and now he was here again in a hospital next to his wife, wondering what went wrong.

It was then, his mentor, his friend since the beginning, walked in.

"There is talk that it is time for you two to stop."

"You can tell whoever is talking to go fuck themselves, we got the job done," he spat at him.

"Hey, you know what I think of your work, both of you."

"Then what is it?"

"I have no control over these things, not this time. Remember those moments I told you about all those years ago?" He nodded. "Well they believe this last mission was one for the two of you."

"We missed something, it won't happen again."

"Can you be sure? You'll start questioning yourself, your abilities and they find that a liability."

"Damn it, Jason! What do you expect us to do? Sit behind a desk? Sorry that's your life."

"I'll let that one go for old time's sake. I know you two are the best, hell I trained both of you and at one time I was considered the best, but it's a young man's game. To answer your question, no I don't expect you to live my life. I expect you to live yours." He says handing him the briefcase at his side. "I know how hard things have been, especially after the baby, but that was sixteen years ago.."

"Don't go there, Jason. I mean it."

"Fine, look it over. Talk it over with your wife, tell me your answer as soon as possible."

"Or what? You'll sanction us?"

Somberly he tells him before he leaves, "Believe me when I tell you this, I'm doing everything possible to keep that from happening. Take the package, Xander. Take whatever life is in there and live it, away from all this, with your wife."

As the door closed Xander looked at his wife and thought that maybe it was time to leave this life behind. They had given them fifteen years of their lives. Maybe for once, he should take what they had given them at face value and walk away into the sunset.

Five Years Later.

It was the first day of class at the local University. The auditorium was full, this particular class was known as one of the standouts in the curriculum. The students had already found out the reason why as the whole three hundred seat auditorium was already caught up in the opening discussion.

"But professor, are you trying to tell us that there are groups out in the world that do not answer to the governments that undoubtedly support them?" The young student asks.

"I'm not trying to tell you anything. What I am trying to do is make you think." He answers obviously waiting for the student to continue.

"But it sounds like one big conspiracy theory to me."

"Then that is what you have concluded with the facts that have been given to you. Anyone else like to comment?"

A hand in the back of the auditorium went up. "Yes?"

"In a way, the need for such a group would make sense."

"Well please continue and enlighten the rest of us with your opinion."

The young woman reddened slightly before continuing. "Well, I mean most quote, unquote, normal agencies actually do have to report to the government that supports them."

"I think I know where you are going with this." The Professor said as he picked up a stack of papers. "Please keep going while I start handing out the syllabi."

"Continue?" The soft rustling of papers filtered through the room as the students began to hand out the syllabi.

"Yes please, continue on that train of thought."

"Well, I mean these agencies are all bureaucratic entities themselves, so they have to leave a trail of some sort right?"

"Exactly. Now a question to any of the Economics majors out there. What is the first thing that all of you learned in high school economics?"

A voice answered, "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

"Good! Who said that?"

A hand rose and the Professor looked over, acknowledging the young man. "Don't be afraid of recognition, otherwise you'll wish you had it later on." He said to him. "Continuing on that train of thought, every thing needs to be funded," he said gesturing to the young man, "And in turn acquisitions and requests must be made. Since these agencies are in fact bureaucracies anything they do can't possibly be kept secret. So where does that leave us?"

"With a need of an organization that can work in complete secrecy?" Another student in the front said, more of a question rather than an answer.

"But the thought of such an organization is down right frightening." The young woman who had answered before said.

"But it would be for our own good, for the good of the people." Many people in the auditorium nodded their heads. "Isn't that justification enough?"

Another student to the left speaks up, "But at the cost of our own privacy?"

"Privacy over your safety or well being? Now that's a good question. If you have nothing to hide, why worry? Only those who do bad things have anything to hide, right?" Now more people in the auditorium were nodding. Glancing at the wall clock, he saw that he had about ten minutes left. Seeing this, he tossed the stack of papers back on the podium, a predefined signal to his TA in the back of the room to toss out one last bombshell.

"But Professor?"


"Do you believe that these organizations exist? Do you think there is any credence to what you are claiming?"

The Professor paused for a moment before answering, "You want my honest opinion?"

"Well, yes."

"I think it is a load of bullshit," he said emphasizing the last word enough so that everyone in the auditorium could hear him. Many of the faces were surprised at that revelation. He had only moments ago been supporting the existence of these organizations.

Seeing their reactions, he said, "Don't worry, you're all in college now, you can say bullshit." A few people in the class chuckle and he continues, "I have not seen, nor have I been privy to any information or proof that these organizations exist or operate today."

"But what about what you were arguing for the past hour and a half?" one of the students asked.

"I can tell I'm going to like this group." He said to the auditorium. "To answer your question, I was playing devil's advocate."

"But why?"

"Why? Like I had said before, to make you think. Welcome to 'Critical Thinking: Ethics and Society.' If you look at the syllabus, this weeks work is structured around the readings, so if you don't have the book yet, I recommend that you get it soon. Also, if you have any questions my office hours are on the syllabus as well along with my TA Jerry. Jerry, raise your hand, please." He raises his hand and the other students are surprised that the young man they thought was a student is actually their TA.

"Good, now that you know Jerry, you can ask him all your questions first then come to me." he joked. "Seriously though, Jerry is the person that you will get to know through your discussions and he can answer any questions you may have on the course work. Okay class dismissed."

The students packed up their things and begin to filter out of the auditorium while the professor stayed back to answer a few questions. After talking to the last student he too packed up his things to leave. Checking his watch as he walked to his car he sees that if he rushed home he'd be able to catch his wife before she left for work.

Starting the car, he adjusted his mirrors while waiting for the engine to warm up. His thoughts wandered back to the lecture he had just given.

"I have not seen, nor have I been privy to any information or proof that these organizations exist, let alone operate today."

But, then again, it was more of a half-truth. He in fact had not seen any information or proof that organizations like that exist, today at least.

His training had dictated that if you were going to tell a lie you had to be able to back it up later, because later it might have to be a truth. But those were things that he had left behind a long, long time ago. Things that he was glad he and his wife were able to leave behind.

Looking back he now knew that he was one of the lucky ones. They had allowed both he and his wife to leave that life behind.

Putting the car in reverse and pulling out of the parking lot, his mind drifted back to when he was first approached by the Initiative.


It was the summer after his sophomore year of high school. He was out and about doing what he usually did at night: Patrolling.

Buffy was gone and he and the others had tried to pick up the slack in her absence. It was as if the evil in the town knew that the Slayer was missing and it was now open hunting season. He and the others were doing relatively well, but he was still annoyed by the lack of coordination they still had. Even after a few weeks they should have been able to get some kind of formation or stratagems into place, but instead it was walk around and react to the situation.

He had begun to subtly give the others direction and an understanding of working as a team. They had improved somewhat but they could still get better. It was at that point that he decided to start patrolling on his own. If Buffy could do it, then so could he. The only problem was that he didn't have super strength and senses to help him fight. What he did have was a wealth of military information that he was able to tap into, info that could help him plan his patrols, info that could keep him alive.

Of course, he had to keep this from the others. They would try to tell him that he was not strong enough, or smart enough, or lacking in some other way. He heard that enough from his parents, he wasn't about to let them tell him how to live his life.

It was after a late-night patrol, before Buffy had returned, when he met him: Jason Pryce.

He would find out later that his moniker, "The Magician" was something he had earned because of his startlingly high intelligence and uncanny ability to compartmentalize any situation and break it down. He was the best. Period.

"Mr. Harris?"

The young man spun around to see a lone figure leaning up against a wall.

"Jeeze! Didn't anyone tell you that it's not polite to sneak up on people?"

"I didn't sneak up on you. If you remember, you're the one who walked by me."

"That's not what I meant." That's when he realized that they were in a secluded street, not the safest place to be, especially, in Sunnydale. "It's not safe out, you better get going."

"I think I'll be okay out here by myself. There's a lot more to me than meets the eye. But then again, the same could go for you, couldn't it?"

"I, I don't know what you're talking about." What did this guy want? Was he here to hurt him? Why would he want that? What would it gain him?

"You sure?" He asked pulling out a small device and pushing a button on the side. Suddenly he can hear his own voice coming from the device, his voice as he talks his way past the armory guardsman, a small operation that had allowed him to steal an anti-tank missile.

"H-hey, I can explain that." He tried to buy himself some time.

"So can I, the guard was incompetent. But what really caught my attention was the fact that you knew the guard was incompetent." He pressed the button again and Xander heard his voice as he explained how the graveyard guards were usually the bottom of the barrel and were stuck with the duty as a form of punishment. That they weren't the sharpest people the military had to offer.

"So it is one thing to steal a Stinger Anti-Tank missile, but to operate the launcher? Now that is information that not many seventeen-year-old boys just come across by accident. So I'll ask you again, Mr. Harris. There is more to you than meets the eye, isn't there?"

"So maybe I know that stuff. So what, my dad was in the military."

"Lesson number one, Mr. Harris. Don't tell a lie you can't back up later, because later it just might have to be the truth. No, neither your father, nor your uncles, nor your grandfather were in the military. Your great- grandfather however did serve in the military, but only as a medic. Even if your father was in the military that wouldn't have taught you how operate the launcher."

"Who are you?" he asked, fear creeping into his voice.

"No, my boy, the question is, who are you? Nothing in your history explains why you know what you know. But there is something that put you out above and beyond the rest. So who are you?"

"I'm a nobody, no special powers, nothing to put me above and beyond," he said quickly.

"A nobody that understands military procedure and weapons? I highly doubt that, and I never said anything about powers."

Now he was really scared. "What do you want with me?"

"I just want to talk to you a bit. Learn a little more about you."

"Why? What's in it for you?"

"Let's just say that, if I'm right about you, and I think I am, I can help you."

"Again, what's in it for you?"

"What I have to teach you won't be free, you'll have to work for me. So you see, it's a mutually beneficial arrangement."

"What exactly will you teach me?"

"Let's discuss this over a cup of coffee. I know this place around the corner. All you have to do is listen, and if by the end of the conversation you don't want any part of what I tell you, you can leave."

"That's it? No questions asked?"

"That's it, but you will have to forget that we ever talked to each other, if you don't I can't be held responsible for whatever happens to you or your family." The threat behind his words was evident.

"I understand," he answered. "So does this place of yours serve food as well? I'm starved."

Jason Pryce smiled as he put his arm around his shoulder. "Well, my boy, they do, but I'm not sure that I'd actually try to ingest it."

"Sounds great. Let's go."

Jason walked with him to the diner he mentioned before. Walking in, they chose a booth in the back of the establishment. After placing their orders, they sat in silence until Jason asked, "So are you going to tell me why you were able to steal the missile?"

"Shh! Do you want everyone to hear you?"

"Who is going to hear us? There's no one behind me, your back is to a wall and the nearest person is our waitress still over at the bar taking that guy's order," he replied.

"What?" Xander looks around and is able to confirm everything Pryce was able to tell him. "How did you?"

"Know? Now that is something that I can teach you, if you're interested. But again, this information doesn't come free."

"So what do you want to know?"

"How did you learn military procedure? And don't tell me that you read it somewhere, Tom Clancy is good, but not that good."

"If I tell you the truth, you'll probably think I'm crazy."

"Try me."

Xander thought about the best way to put it without sounding crazy. Finding that no matter how he said it he would look crazy, he just decided to tell it to him straight, "Last Halloween I bought a costume from a shop, a soldier costume. The guy who had owned the shop had cast a spell on all of his costumes making all those who wear them turn into the person that the costume represented. The dog tags that came with the costume belonged to a navy seal. So once the spell was cast I became soldier boy."

He looked at Pryce, trying to judge his reaction. Did he think that he was crazy? If he did, he didn't show it. In fact, he barely had any outward expression at all.

"Interesting. But the spell was only temporary right? Your original personality seems to have taken dominance again."

The comment nearly floored Xander. What was up with this guy? "Uh yeah, the spell's focal point was destroyed, returning everything back to normal."

"Or at least whatever passes as normal in this town."

That was the last straw; Xander couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Who are you?!?" he hissed as him, not wanting to draw attention to himself.

"I'm someone who knows that this sleepy California town doesn't sleep so well at night. Now, if I were you, I'd calm down, or else you're going to draw attention to yourself."

As if on cue, the waitress showed up with their order. Xander waited for the waitress to leave before he questioned Pryce again.

"How do you know what you know?"

"I can tell you but it would mean that you would work for me. So I'll give you a choice." He pulled out a card with a single number on it. "I'm going to be leaving now, but you can leave this diner with or without this card. Call me in two hours if you're interested."

With that, Pryce left the diner, tossing a twenty on the table. Xander ate in silence, all the while eying the card on the table. Finishing his meal he got up from the table and began to walk away. He is almost to the door before he stopped and walked back to the table and picked up the card, placing it in his pocket.

By the time he had entered his parent's house, the only thing that he could think about was the offer that Pryce had given him. Walking into the kitchen, he glanced over at the microwave. he still had an hour to call Pryce and take him up on the offer.

What was he thinking? He couldn't possibly take him up on his offer. He didn't know what his motives were, who he worked for; in short he knew nothing about Jason Pryce.

But his offer was intriguing. He knew a lot, too much for someone who didn't live in Sunnydale. Hell, even most people who lived here didn't know as much as he did. The question was how did he know so much? If he could find out what he knew, maybe he could use it to help the others.

Picking up the phone he dials the number on the card.

"Hello, Mr. Harris."

At first he was surprised that Pryce knew it was him, but thought better than to say anything about it. "I've thought about what you said."

"I thought you would. Have you come to a decision?"

"Yeah, I want to know what you know."

"I thought you would. Meet me in the park tomorrow. We'll start from there."


The next morning, Xander found Jason Pryce sitting on one of the benches feeding the pigeons on the ground.

"Good morning Mr. Harris. I trust you slept well?"

"Not really, I had a lot on my mind."

"Don't worry, we wont be doing anything strenuous today."

"But I thought you were going to show me what you know."

"I can show you, yes, but will you be able to learn it? No, I have a few tests that need to be run before we start anything."


"A physical, blood makeup and a short written test."

"You never said anything about this."

"If you want to know what I know, you'll have to do this my way."


Xander took the tests. The physical and the blood makeup tests he could understand, but the timed written test was the surprise.

"Jason, why did I have to take the written test?" Xander asked as they walk side by side a few days later in the park.

"I needed to see what it was that you really knew."

"But I guessed on most of the questions. I barely had any time to really think about them."

"That was the whole point. I wanted to see how much of the old soldier memories were left in you. Consciously, you can barely remember what the soldier did, but I believe that everything that he knew is buried somewhere inside that brain of yours."

"I'm not sure I understand."

"By limiting your time on the questions, I forced you to guess. Guessing is actually your subconscious' way of taking control of your decision-making. If all that information is still in there, the only thing I really have to do is coax it out."

"How do you plan on doing that?" The eagerness in his voice was evident. If he could learn to use those memories, he wouldn't be so helpless. He would be able to make a difference.

"The way it's done normally: through training, albeit slightly accelerated training. But according to your test scores, you should be able to handle it," he said pulling out a manila envelope.

"What do my scores say?"

"Well the written confirms everything I had guessed about the soldier's memories." He said reading the reports. Then he suddenly stopped.

"Jason? What's wrong?"

"Hold on a minute," he said as he pulled out a cell phone. He dials a few numbers before speaking, "This is Pryce. No, it isn't raining here. Not a cloud in the sky." He listened to the phone a second before continuing. "I need to talk to Johnson about report number," he looked at the number on the top of the page, "three, seven, tango, foxtrot, foxtrot, two. No, just a confirmation." He waited a moment until he said, "I see, thank you."

"What's going on?"

Rather than answer his question Pryce just said, "Follow me."

"Where are we going?"

Pryce started to walk away and told him, "Follow me."

"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me where we are going."

Suddenly, a strong hand clamped down on his shoulder and he waspushed back into a tree. "Time for another lesson." Pryce hissed at him. "Never, question me. If I tell you to do something, you do it. Now I'm telling you to follow me." He let him go and began to walk again.

Xander followed Pryce as he walked out of the park and towards a car. "Get in." Pryce told him.

Xander didn't say a word until they were well outside of Sunnydale.

"Where are we going?"

"To a place where we can discuss the results of your tests."

"I thought I scored well on the written test."

"Not that test."

"The physical and blood make up?"

"Those are simple terms for neurological and DNA analysis. What your test results tell me is that your DNA has been altered slightly. There are trace elements of canine genetic material and your neurological pathways are just teeming with activity. The neurological activity I can associate with your possession last Halloween, but the canine DNA? Where the fuck did that come from?"

"Halloween wasn't the first time I was possessed."

"When was the first time?"

"Earlier I was possessed by an animal spirit."

"A dog?"

"No, a hyena. There were a few of us affected when we went on a field trip to the zoo. I became the pack leader."

"Interesting. Unexpected, but interesting."He pulled out his cell phone and tossed it to Xander. "After we arrive, I want you to use that to call anyone that would come looking for you." Reaching into the back seat, he pulled out a file and handed it to Xander. "Tell them you won a trip from a new store that opened in town today. All the information that you'll need is in that file. Your things will be packed up and your room will look like you left in a hurry."

"I can't just leave like that, my friends need me! They'll get killed without my help!'

"No, they won't. Just tell them that since it's been quiet lately you decided to jump on this opportunity."

"But what if it becomes noisy all of a sudden? What happens then?"

"Don't worry, it'll stay quiet for a long time. Until you return at least, I've sent for two four-man teams to take up patrols for you. They will stay out of sight and take care of any major developments."

Seeing that Pryce had indeed thought this out thoroughly, Xander acquiesced the point and asked, "Where are we going?"

"To our base of operations. This new information will allow me to compensate for your training regimen. Hopefully, with your unique DNA and neurological pathways we can accelerate your training even more and have you field ready within months rather than years. At least, that is what we hope for."


"Yes, welcome to the Initiative."


His training had been rigorous; it was perhaps the most grueling time of his young life. Alexander Harris was thinking back to his time training with Jason Pryce as he continued to drive towards his home.

The Magician had put him through more than even he thought he could handle. But by the end of it, Pryce had magically reinforced all of the memories buried deep in his mind and added even more skills. It seemed that the increased neurological activity allowed his brain to process and store new information, a skill that had been there all along, it seemed. All it took to utilize it was some training with Jason.

He learned about the Initiative, a supranational agency created by and then forgotten by the world's leading governments to combat supernatural or paranormal activity. The Initiative was a very stratified, very compartmentalized organization. You only knew who you reported to you, who you worked with and who you reported to. There were dozens of agents out there but you never knew their real names. You would only know them by way of field legend and vice versa.

This way each cell wouldn't know what the other was doing except only on the high levels. If one cell was compromised, the others could work independently despite the breach of security. The structure was ingenious.

Within the span of three months, he trained with Jason Pryce. He learned from him the physical things needed for his trade: hand-to-hand combat, weapons training, explosives and stealth techniques, mostly things he already knew but had to relearn. Since his DNA had been altered somehow by the hyena incident, Initiative researchers had been coming up with ways to utilize the 'dormant' genes, giving him slightly enhanced senses, speed and strength. Nothing too much, but just enough to give him an edge.

But Pryce also taught him the intellectual part of the game. Strategy, analytical assessment, asset cultivation, deep cover legends, culture assimilation, pretty much everything that weapons or violence could not provide an answer for.

By the end of his training, Xander was the best at everything he was taught, or rather second best compared to Jason but that was to be expected, he was after all only the student.

He remembered a question he had posed to him.



"What's up, Xander?"

"Why did you approach me? What was it that made you try to recruit me?"

"I was actually sent to kill you, Xander."


"Yeah, but after I went through your file, I knew there was something more about you."

"So you recruited me instead?"

Jason paused a moment before answering, "I'm getting old, Xander. I just can't keep doing what I'm doing. I am going to be stepping away from field work soon, but I needed to find someone to replace me."

Disgusted, Xander told him, "So the only reason you recruited me was to take your place?"

"You don't understand, Xander. I chose you. I could have picked anyone within the Initiative, but I went outside the black box. I saw in you a man not unlike myself. Your loyalty, courage and perseverance were obvious after I started to tail you and your friends. You were the only person that I felt could continue my legacy."

"So what? You're going to retire from the game? How could you possibly leave all this behind?"

"I'm not; it's just that I can't keep doing field work. It's starting to become too much for me. We have things we call in this business called cardinal moments. Moments that point to the beginning of a series of events that will eventually lead to an agent's death or the compromise of the organization."

"And you had one of these cardinal moments?"

"Yes, so I was given the option to either walk away from the game, or become a shadow player. So I chose to stay in the game."


Xander sighed as he thought about those words. When his time came, when he had his cardinal moment, he and his wife both decided that it would be best to leave the game behind.

Xander chuckled as he remembered how he had first met his wife. It was one of his first operations.


"Xander," Pryce said to him as he entered Jason Pryce's office. "Something has come up. We're going to send you to Boston."

"I see, I was supposed to return to Sunnydale tomorrow. I assume that a cover for my lateness has been made?"

"Yes, the airport you are supposed to fly out of has received a bomb threat. The airport has been shutdown for security reasons."

"Of course."

"The story will hit the news feed in a few minutes, so wait half an hour and make the necessary calls."

"Good, and the op?"

"A certain vampire has been amassing a large army. You are going to be sent to cull the herd so to speak. All the information you need is in the dossier."

"Will I have any support?"

"One potential, but she belongs to another group. I don't have to tell you that she cannot know of our organization. She may be an asset, however her organization, the Watchers, are very protective of their agents, so approach her with caution. Be sure that anything you tell can be affirmed easily but won't point back to us."

"Understood. So this potential, she's the Slayer?"

"Yes. Your flight leaves in an hour. Grab whatever equipment you'll need and go. If you need anything else, I'll trust in your skills of improvisation. Dismissed."

Xander walked out of the office and headed to his quarters to read through the dossier.

"This should be a piece of cake."


Xander sat in his sniper's nest, quietly watching the vampire guards idly patrolling the perimeter of the building. Each alone, no way to contact each other except to yell out, their patrol routes following the same patterns that he had observed the previous nights.

He peers through his RAPTOR night-vision weapon sight mounted atop his .50 caliber sniper rifle. The target would tremble slightly as his blood courses through his body slightly moving the scope with each beat of his heart. He depresses the trigger and felt the weapon recoil in his arms as a silenced soft-tip magnesium round entered another vampire's heart and exploded. Turning it to dust.

He was about to take out the last two when something else caught his attention, movement across his scope.

He silently cursed under his breath as he realized it was the Slayer. The other one, he reminded himself.

"No time to do this the pretty way," He said to himself as he took apart the high-powered rifle. Pulling out his own side arm he attached a laser sight on it and quickly made his way down the side of the building via fire escape.

He ran across the street towards the sound of a struggle. Peering around the corner of the building, he saw the girl being held from behind in a strangle hold by a large vampire surrounded by three others.

Three shots were fired and the freestanding vamps were dusted. The large vampire hadn't realized what had happened even as he saw the red light flash before his eyes. Even with his enhanced hearing, he didn't catch the whisper of the bullet as it lodged itself in his head killing him.

The girl drops to the ground gasping for air. Xander approaches her making sure the area is secure.

"You alright, Miss?"

"Yeah, everything's five-by-five" She croaked out.

"Wasn't very smart of you to attack them like that. Name's Jonathan Hoover by the way." He gave her his Initiative cover name.

"Guess not, maybe I should learn to use toys like yours."

Chuckling, he helped her up. "I doubt you'd need them." He said. He was about to say more but is stunned by her beauty. He was so stunned; in fact he didn't hear what she said to him next.

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Xander said with a hint of embarrassment.

Rolling her eyes she asked again, "So what's the plan?"

"We get out of here," he told her simply.

"What!?! There are about four-dozen vampires in that building. All of which will terrorize my city if we don't stop them."

"I know."

"Then you know we have to stop them."

"And I will, but not from here." Grabbing her arm he tried to pull her away.

"Uh-uh hotshot, I'm not going anywhere until those vamps are dead."

"Fine, you can watch the show up close and personal if you want. But when the van full of C-4 goes off in the subterranean parking structure below, taking the building down with it, you'll wish that you came with me."

Her wide-eyed stare was all he needed to see he had won this argument. "Good. Now let's go."

The pair ran off in the night, down the block and away from anyone's prying eyes. Pulling out the remote detonator, he pushed a button that sent out a broad, spread-spectrum signal to the explosives sitting below the old building. Seconds later, they felt the ground lurch and heard the loud explosion and subsequent crash as the building toppled to the ground.

He began to walk away when he heard her ask, "What if any of them survived?"

"I've got two more sites to hit before sunrise. I'm none too concerned about survivors. By the end of the night, there won't be too many vamps to worry about."

"What about the authorities? Won't they suspect something?"

"Funny thing about that, these organized crime wars just get worse and worse don't they?"

"What do you mean?"

"Many of the vamps killed were turned from the crime families that operate in the area. Any ID found here will lead the authorities to the same conclusions. The dots aren't that hard to connect, after all. That is, if you're the one laying out the dots."

She had followed him to the other sites. He even let her detonate one of the charges. He laughed as she gave off a squeal of delight as she watched the last building fall to the ground.

They watched the sunrise from the Harvard Bridge. The sun rising over the skyline was beautiful. He told her he had to leave. He was about to get up when her hand on his arm stopped him.

"So, is that it? I mean you save my life and you just up and take off without so much as a kiss?" The comment was an unusual one coming from her, he could tell that much. It must have taken a lot to say that to him.

Smiling Xander leaned in and kissed her softly on the lips. The moment was electric.

Pulling away he says to her, "I'll make you a deal. The next time I save your life I'll give you more than just a kiss."

With that, he walked away from her. The remark was meant as a carrot, something that would motivate her to help him next time he was in the area. It was something Jason had taught him. Make sure you have contacts in every city you go to. You never know when you'll need help.

What surprised him the most was when she appeared in Sunnydale a few weeks later. Since Xander Harris was the group klutz and weakling he had to keep his legend active unless he betrayed the secrecy of the Initiative to them, and that was something he would not do. If she recognized him, she didn't show it. He was almost convinced that his acting abilities had thrown her off his trail until Faith confronted him.

He was walking home when Faith cornered him. "They don't know about you, do they?"

She watched as he turned to her, his entire stance and aura changing.

"No, and I don't want them to know either."

"Why? Do you know what they say about you when you are not there?"

"Of course."

"And that doesn't piss you off? Xander, Jon, whatever your name is, out of all the people they all talk about, I know the truth. The real big-bad in this town, is you."

"I'm not out to rule the world or destroy it."

"That's not what I meant. You could probably do more damage to the unnatural in this town than all of them put together."

"And you're wondering why don't I do just that?"


"It's not my job. This town has protection already, a whole team of protectors. Sloppy as they are they get the job done."

"What about Boston?"

"What about it?"

"Did you think I couldn't get the job done?"

"I actually didn't expect running into you at all. But I did and I went with it."

"Who do you work for?"

"Let's just say the good guys."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah. I've got to get home and Buffy is expecting you on patrol. If you're late she'll start to worry and I don't want her to catch us talking like this."

"I want answers and I'm going to get them."

"They're not my answers to give. Just keep doing what you're doing and I'll see what I can do. Goodnight, Faith."

He was about to walk away but she grabbed him and kissed him passionately on the lips, their embrace deepening.

Pulling away, she said, "You have no idea how long I've waited to do that since I saw you."


"Yes, really. And I expect you to deliver on your promise, hotshot." She says with a wink as she walks to meet Buffy on patrol. He stares at her for a moment before continuing to his parent's house.

He was a block from his house when Pryce's voice called out from the shadows. "Xander."


"Interesting bedfellows you have there."

"She's an asset, Jason. Nothing more."

"You sure about that? Are you sure that you're not the mark?"

"What do you mean by that?"

"Her Watcher is dead, Xander. Kakistos, the vampire whose army you decimated?"


"He blames her for that. So he killed her Watcher but she managed to escape. He's on his way here right now."


"I think your friends will be able to handle it but my superiors think that we have a golden opportunity here."

"How so?"

"Recruit her, Xander. Bring her into the fold. The higher ups think that a Slayer double agent would be an invaluable asset."

"I'll see what I can do."


Xander looked at the traffic jam ahead of him and cursed. He was making good time too. Turning on his radio he caught the traffic reports.

"traffic is backed up for five miles on the eastbound 198 today at Willmingto, Expect delays up to an hour and a half. More traffic later."

Cursing, he turned the radio off. Oh, well, he thought. I'll just have to keep myself busy. His mind drifted back to the night the Hellmouth opened again, the night he took care of O'Toole and his gang of zombies. The night he made Faith an offer.

He hated loosing fights. Even if he had to lose them on purpose, he hated losing fights. As Xander listened to the sounds of the fight in the cavern, he quickly went over what Pryce had told him.


"The Hellmouth will open tomorrow."

"Jesus! What do you need me to do to stop it?"

"Stop it? No Xander, the Hellmouth will open as prophesized and it will close without your help."

"Then why tell me about it in the first place?"

"There is a certain wildcard that you need to take care of and neutralize." He tells him as the lights in the briefing room go dim and a picture is flashed onto the wall.

"Jack O'Toole?"


"I've seen him on campus, he's a bully, but I don't see how he can be much of a factor as far as the Hellmouth goes."

"He's a wildcard, Xander, one that needs to be neutralized." Pryce tells him plainly. "As far as being a factor, well lets just say we want to stack the deck enough so that we are guaranteed a win. Your job is to neutralize O'Toole and any accomplices he may have."

"You don't think he's alone?"

"No, it doesn't fit his psyche profile. He'll try to surround himself with people or things he trusts, keeping them in line using his alpha male status."

"You mean violence or threat thereof?"

"Yes. Above all else, make sure none of your friends find you doing this. You are Xander to them, not Agent Harris. Understand? You need to keep this legend active, so long as they believe who you say you are, they will continue to be valuable assets."

Xander almost felt insulted by the last sentence. If he didn't know it was procedure, he would have killed Pryce. But it was procedure and procedure had to be followed or else there would be a breach of security. "I'll make sure the target is neutralized along with any other miscellaneous targets."

"Good. In the dossier there are profiles for some of the other hostiles that will be in the area, a group of she-demons. Try to avoid them, if possible, but if it comes down to it, kill them if you have to. Report back to me after the mission. Dismissed."


Xander heard Willow begin to reach the end of her chant and the distinct sound of a person trying to unsheathe a blade quietly. Willow finished her spell and he heard the sound of the fight begin with the normal grunts and gasps. When he heard the sound of something screeching, he readied himself to make his presence known.

Groaning, he got up from under some rubble. Seeing the worried look on Buffy and the other's faces, he knows that his plan was working.

"I'm good. We're fine over here. Little bit dirty," he said dusting himself off. "Good show, everyone. Just great. I think we have a hit."

Willow asks him, "Are you okay?"

"Tip top. Really. If anyone sees my spine lying around, just try not to step on it."

They all seemed to be buying into his act. His only concern was Faith, since she was the only one in the group to know about his extra curricular activities.

"Xander, one of these days you're gonna get yourself hurt."

"Or killed," Faith added. Xander relaxed a bit, knowing that Faith wasn't going to give him away.

"Or both," Buffy added. "You know, with the pain and then the death. You shouldn't be leaping into the fray like that. You should be fray-adjacent "

Seeing an opening to further his plan, Xander told them, "Excuse me: who at the crucial moment, distracted the lead demon by allowing her to pummel him about the head?"

"Yeah, that was pretty manly the way you shrieked and all," She said to him, none of the others noticing the curious look she was giving him.

"I think you'll find it was more of a bellow." It took all the discipline he had not to wink at her.

He and Faith had been spending a lot of time together. They would hang out before she would go on patrol with Buffy. During that time, they talked about anything and everything, except what it was that Xander really did. Faith learned early on that it was a subject to be avoided because she wouldn't get a straight answer from him. It infuriated her sometimes, one day it felt like he trusted her with all his secrets and then all of a sudden he became a closed book. However, it was just a part of Xander that she knew he would reveal to her one day.

Buffy turned to ask Giles something about the demons. In return, Giles told her that he didn't know what they were, surprising Xander. He couldn't tell them what they were, at least not without revealing how he had learned about the Sisterhood. No, Giles, consummate researcher, would find his answers soon enough.

Xander was brought back to the conversation at hand when Buffy said, "I hope not. These guys were way too fit."

"I say bring 'em on!" Xander said a little too loudly and unevenly.

He got his desired outcome when Giles walked up next to him and said, "Xander, I do think that it best that you keep to the rear of the battle in the future. For your own sake."

"But gee Mr. White, if Clark and Lois get all the big stories I'll never be a real reporter." He hated making such inane comments but he needed to keep the fa�de of Xander Harris alive.

Jason had told him that in this town underestimation is probably the greatest weapon one could have. Once your enemy underestimates you, you've already won.

Seeing that his reference to American pop culture was lost on the English Watcher Xander told him, "Jimmy Olsen jokes are pretty much gonna be lost on you."


"That's okay."

He continued with his act as they left the cavern. Phase one was complete. Now all he had to do was keep placing breadcrumbs on the floor, leading them to the conclusion he had planned out. Xander can't handle himself, we like Xander, we don't want Xander to get killed. If all worked out fine, they would try to spare him from the 'danger' of the Sisterhood of Jhe and the Hellmouth opening. Thus leaving him available to deal with his own target.


The next day Xander sat by himself on campus. He saw Jack O'Toole eating his lunch and decided to put phase two into motion. A couple of guys were tossing a football around and Xander got up and tried to get one of them to throw the ball to him. Turning his back directly at O'Toole, he hoped that one of the jocks would try to over throw his position trying to show off.

"Hey! Bobby! Toss me one." The jocks ignored him as he continued, "Les, I'm open." Bobby glanced over in his direction and he knew that Bobby was going to throw him the ball. "Let's go, Bobby!"

Bobby threw the ball and just as he anticipated, the ball flew over his head and towards O'Toole.

"That's right it's all me" he said running towards O'Toole. He deliberately bobbled the ball forcing it to fall into Jack O'Toole's lap and lunch.

Time for phase two.

"Boy, I'm so sorry, Bobby's throwing is - his arm's like spaghetti we're all so sad for him, is your lunch okay?"

"What are you? Retarded?"

One thing Xander had learned from Pryce was that fear was something that bullies, militant dictators, mercenaries and such used to boost their perceived strength. If a man thought you feared him, automatically he underestimates you, giving you the edge.

"No! I mean I had to do a test when I was seven, a little slow in some stuff, mostly math and spatial relations, but certainly not 'challenged' or anything. Can I buy you another soda?"

"I ought to cut your face open."

Time to push some buttons Xander thought as he told O'Toole, "Hey! It was an accident, okay? Cool down."

"You wanna be starting something?"

"What?" He said mock nervously, "Starting- like that Michael Jackson song, that was a lot of fun 'too high to get over - yeah, yeah.' Rememberthat fun song"

"I get my buddies together and we're gonna kick your ass until it's a brand new shape. Now get out of here."

The plan is coming together quite nicely. As he threw the ball back to Bobby with surprising accuracy, he saw Cordelia walking towards him. He knew that she'd want to put him down or something like that but he didn't care.

When Pryce had asked him about his relationship with Cordelia, he explained it was more or less a love-hate type relationship. But Pryce asked him to think about it and the life that he was leading and ask himself, is a relationship that you got into for the sake of being accepted socially worth the risk to her and his cover?

Did he care for her? Yes. Was it really that serious? No. Was it worth her being used against him or the Initiative? No. His sharp analytical mind was able to weigh the pros and cons quickly. Although he felt a strong connection to Cordy, it wasn't love and it certainly wasn't worth her dying for. With his mind made up, he setup a plan that would allow him to break it off with Cordy in a way that allowed her back into her old circle of friends as well as begin to put some distance between himself and the rest of the gang.

He hated to use Willow like he had, but he needed a mark, someone he knew would shatter Cordelia's confidence in him and strain his connection to the group. Willow was the only logical choice. It was a perfect plan. That is until Cordelia was skewered be a piece of rebar.

Of everything that happened that night, that was the only thing he was truly sorry for. He had asked Pryce for permission to hunt down and kill Spike for putting them in that situation in the first place but Pryce had talked him out of it.

In a sense, it was his fault. He should have been able to foresee all possibilities. But time heals most wounds and Cordelia was fine. When she had thrown him out of the room he knew that his plan had worked.

He and Cordelia spoke with their normal banter. He wasn't really paying attention to what she was saying, until she said, "Integral part of the group? Xander, you're the useless part of the group. You're the Zeppo."

As she walked away, his slightly enhanced hearing was able to pick up that she enjoyed putting him down. At least she had a reason to put him down and it made her feel secure. He couldn't help but smile at her comment. Useless? Not really. Zeppo Marx was more or less the odd man out, and that described his emerging role with the group perfectly.

What he needed now was something to get O'Toole's attention. Thinking back to the dossier, he remembered that Jack liked fast cars and women. Well the fast car part he can handle, as far as the women, well he was sure he could handle that as well.


Pulling up to the school the next day, he hoped to catch O'Toole as he arrived on campus. Hopefully, he'd notice the car more than anything. Instead of seeing O'Toole, he saw Buffy and Willow talking.

Damn, if they saw him and he didn't stop they'd wonder what he was doing with a car like this. So he did the only thing that Xander Harris would do if he had something new to share. He honked his horn and tried to act cool.

"You girls need a lift?"

"What is that?" Buffy asked.

"What do you mean, what is it? It's my thing!"

"Your thing?"

"My thing."

Buffy cringed a bit before saying, "Is this a penis metaphor?"

"My thing that makes me cool! You know, makes me unique. I'm car guy, guy with car."

Willow asked him how he could afford it and he told her a story about his uncle Rory and DUIs. Not a complete lie, his uncle Rory was without his license, but there was no way in hell he would let anyone near his classic ford. But no one knew what kind of car he had. Willow was a genius with computers, but when it comes to cars she didn't have a clue.

She knew that Xander's uncle had a classic car but the last time she was it was when she was twelve. For all she knew, this was his uncle's car and that was good enough.

Xander, seeing that Buffy is distracted says, "If you could be less enthused"


"Evil," Willow says as if it were self-explanatory.

"Big?" he asked feigning worry.

"Biggest. Probably more than I can handle." Buffy said quietly.

Perfect time to see if they still think they were protecting me. "Then we'll handle it together. You know I'm here for you. Just tell me what I can do."


While ordering the doughnuts, Xander idly thought of what it was he would need for this particular operation. He had the car, what he needed now was a girl and some light ordinance and melee weapons. He heard the door open behind him and he glanced at the reflection in the display case. The girl who just walked into the shop was beautiful; he could have used her as a mark. But there was one problem.

The girl was Cordelia.

Upon seeing him, she almost immediately began to make fun of him. She continued to put him down as he made his way to his car. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a young woman making a beeline for his position, her hand in her purse.

He had seen her as he drove up to the shop; she was walking in the other direction so she had to have turned around to meet up with him at this point. His closest weapon was the Heckler & Koch USP compact underneath the drivers seat. He had heavier ordinance in the trunk just in case but he was not ready for a confrontation in the middle of a street in broad daylight.

As she drew closer he could barely hear Cordelia's words as he tried to keep his options open, his mind processing everything around him: Cordelia's position, her words, the woman, everything that could be used as a weapon or shield. Everything.

He could either dive behind the car leaving, Cordelia in the open, or take her with him into the espresso shop.

He poised himself to be ready at a moment's notice but visibly relaxed as he saw her pull out not a gun but lipstick and re-apply it to her lips.

She was right behind Cordelia when she spoke.

"Is that your car?"

Xander could not help but smile, partially for this stroke of luck and partially at Cordelia. "Why, yes it is."

"57 Chevy Bellaire, 283 CID solid lifter, fuel injected V8?"

Since Cordelia was here he could not be as suave as he wanted, so he opted for the lesser approach. "Uh, very possibly."

"How does she handle?"

"Like a dream about warm sticky things." Xander told her, thinking of the lamest line he could possibly say. "You want to go for a little drive?"


Although Lysette was beautiful, Xander discovered that the woman was completely self-absorbed and only concerned with cars. He almost wished he could tell his friends about his skills just so he would be out with them instead of her. He had brought her to the Bronze hoping that O'Toole would show up with either his car or his date, catching his attention.

He spotted Angel walking through the crowd. Seeing this as a chance to gain some info on the group's progress and a way to shut Lysette up at the same time Xander called Angel over to his table.

His conversation with the vampire was short but no less revealing. Whatever they were up against, it spooked even Angel. This was no small event, Angel had been to Hell, and whatever was going to come through the Hellmouth tonight would be bad.

As Angel left, Xander caught a glimpse of O'Toole leaving the club. Xander fingered his car keys in his pocket, causing them to jingle.

Lysette heard the jingle and, with an almost Pavlovian response, asked, "You want to go for another drive?"

Nodding his response, he grabbed her hand and lead her out of the club. Scanning the immediate area he spots O'Toole in one of the cars. Xander deliberately lead Lysette by O'Toole hoping that she would catch his eye. As they continues to walk on past the car Xander saw that O'Toole wasn't taking his bait.

Letting Lysette into the car, he got in and started the engine, gunning it in the process. Even then, O'Toole didn't so much as look their way. So he proceeds to do the only thing he can think of to get the young man's attention. He hit his parked car.

As he got out of the car, Xander fell into his role of the scared weakling. The location, however, was not the best place to confront Jack due to all of the people around. He wouldn't be able to take out Jack, not when Lysette or anyone else could see him do it, at least not without good reason.

But when Jack pulled out his knife, Katie, he saw an opportunity to make his move. As they struggled with the knife, Xander tries to think of the best way to kill O'Toole with his own knife and still make it look like an accident.

He was about to make his move when he heard a voice ask, "What's going on?"

Looking at the source of the voice Xander all but cursed. A cop. When one needed a cop in Sunnydale you could never find one, but when you didn't there was an abundance of them everywhere.

After getting rid of the cop O'Toole says to him, "I was on my way to get my boys together. Gonna cruise around. We'll take your wheels."

Xander nearly cursed again right there and then when Jack mentioned getting his boys together. He had a picture perfect opportunity to dispose of Jack now he would have to deal with his 'boys' as well. All without getting Lysette killed in the process, if possible. The fact the Jack had directed him to a graveyard warned him that Jack's 'boys' weren't your run of the mill hoodlums.

Xander and Lysette were sitting back, watching Jack di a ritual. Lysette, for one, looked confused and bored. Xander on the other hand was watching Jack with a careful eye. The words Jack were reciting were used in a reanimation spell. In short, he was rising someone. He couldn't do anything until Lysette was out of the picture. She may have been an annoying, self- centered girl but she was still an innocent. He didn't want to kill her unless absolutely necessary.

Not much longer now, Xander thought to himself just as Jack said, "shall rise."

At those words a hand clawed through the grave.

Threetwoone. Xander counted off in his head, and at the count of one, as if on cue, Lysette screamed and ran away as fast as she could, leaving Xander alone with Jack and his newly risen friend. He was now out numbered. He needed to separate his targets, isolate them so he could take them out one at a time. It would be the only way for him to fulfill his mission without worrying about getting stabbed in the back.

Xander followed them as they walked through the graveyard. He began to come up with multiple scenarios in his head where he would try to kill them one at a time. He could try throwing one of them out of the car and then kill the other with the SPAS-12 under his seat. Or maybe he could use the car against one of them, run him over.

Xander barely caught Bob saying,"This is gonna be a night to remember."

Xander just smiled to himself and quietly says, "I'm sensing that."

Not long after that the group had grown from two to four. The numbers were just not going in his favor that night. He needed to get away from the four of them and regroup. He needed to switch his tactics, use guerilla warfare and pick them off one at a time when the least expected it.

All he needed was the chance to steal away with his car and slow them down. That very chance presented itself to him when they had him stop when they wanted ingredients to bake a cake. He was about to drive away when Willow walked out of a store.

If the others came out and saw that he was gone they could possibly take out their frustration out on Willow.


"Xander?" She asked with surprise. "What are you doing here?"

Maybe this won't be as hard as I thought. "Nothing! Certainly not crimeWhat about you?"

"I needed supplies for a protection spell. Buffy called from Angel's, it's happening tonight."

"And the thing that is happening is?"

"I can't stay, Buffy'll need this stuff." She started to move away but then turned back and firmly hugged him. "I love you Xander."

He heard movement behind him and turned to find Jack nose-to-nose with him.

"Where are you going?" Jack said in a threatening voice.

Not liking the tone of voice, Xander quickly thought of all his options to back out of the situation. "Something's come up."

Xander thought that he could stun Jack and make his way to the car but Jack's gang of the undead choose that moment to return.

"Xander's going to take off." Jack tells them.

Xander tried to stay out of the conversation as much as possible but the other two goons moved around to either side of him. It was when Dickie said the word 'initiation' that Xander's attention focused back on Jack.

"GreatI wanna be in the gang, sure."

"That's the spirit."

"What do I gotta do?"

"You gotta die."


The radio in his car brought Xander back into the present.

"The incident on the 198 has closed down the freeway completely. Traffic is being diverted onto side streets, expect delays of an hour plus."

Cursing, Xander began the slow movement from the far lane over to an exit. The traffic being so dense it takes him a good ten minutes to get into the exit lane. Sighing, Xander knew that he'd be in traffic for another hour or so.

"Damn it." Sometimes he longed for those times when he could make a quick get away and the consequences be damned. Sighing, his mind drifted back to his previous thoughts.

Xander saw Jack pull out his knife, Katie, and his mind went into overdrive. His control over the situation was rapidly starting to dwindle. For every situation he heard one of Jason's rules; even now he could hear his mentor's voice echoing in his mind.

"Don't be to proud to run, boy. The proud ones are usually the first to die. The ones that run away can come back to finish the job."

So Xander did just that.

He ran.

The others chased him but, unlike vampires, zombies didn't have many added perks so he easily was able to out run them to his car. Jumping in, he starts the car and floored it away from the scene, fishtailing around the corner.

Xander glanced at his rear view mirror and saw that they were not trailing behind him. He hadn't expected them to, but his training, so ingrained now, forced him to double check everything. The reason Jason had given him this near paranoid precaution was because it was usually the one you missed that killed you.

Turning the corner, he saw up ahead two figures flash across his headlights. One of the figures he could immediately tell was Faith. The other figure she is battling was one of the she-demons he had been warned about.

Although Faith was a Slayer, the she-demon seemed to have the upper hand in the battle. Xander, however, had other ideas as he gunned his engine and rammed the demon, sending it flying.

Yanking the SPAS-12 out from underneath his seat, he stood up and took aim at two other demons running towards his position. He let out a single shot and put down one of the demons before yelling at Faith, "Get in!"

Faith jumped into the passenger seat as she heard Xander shooting the remaining demon. Xander hopped back down into the driver's seat and tosses the gun behind him.

Putting the car into gear, he pulled away from the scene.

Glancing at her, Xander could see why she was having such a hard time with that one particular demon. Up and down her arms there were deep angry bruises and the traces of faint scratches. The scratches, he knew were what were left of some superficial cuts sustained from battle. Most of the worst ones had begun to heal already but the blood stains on her shirt were evidence enough for him that she was not having a good night.

He also noted the fading bruises on her neck. Bruises one can only get when a strong pair of hands were strangling them.

"Where to?" He asked her, checking his rear view mirror for any other unpleasant visitors.

"My motel room at the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. We should be safe there for the time being."

"Do you have any first aid supplies? I could help you with some of those." He said nodding his head towards the multitude of cuts and bruises on her body.

"Yeah, I have some stuff back at my room," She told him. "Thanks for the save back there."

"No problem," He told her as the sign for the Motor Lodge came into view. "Turn here?" he asked her.

"Yeah, my room is the fourth one on the end."

Nodding, he pulled into an open parking space in front of her room and they both got out of the car, Faith unlocked and opened the door and Xander backed himself into the room with the SPAS-12 he retrieved from the back seat at the ready. He only set down the weapon once he was completely inside the room.

"Where's your first aid stuff?" he asked her.

"On the side of the bathtub in the bathroom."

Xander walked into the bathroom and grabbed the first aid kit. Walking back into the room, he noticed that her arm was hanging limply at her side and that her complexion was paler than normal.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Nodding her head, she replied, "I'm fine, it's just that bitch dislocated my shoulder. Hold me."

He moved to her and placed one hand on her upper arm and braced himself with his other hand on her hip, creating a stable frame. Gritting her teeth, Faith wrenched her shoulder forward with an audible crunch.

The effects were almost immediate; the color returned to her face and once again, full range of motion was restored to her arm.

"Sit." He told her, motioning to the bed. She complied and sat down on the edge of the bed. Xander followed and sat closely behind her, setting down the first aid kit on the bed next to him.

"You don't have to do this, I can take care of myself you know," she said as she felt his hands pull down one strap of her tank top over her shoulder.

"And I know you can. But from this vantage point it looks like you've had a tough night and you need to rest for a little bit." He examined one particularly bad cut and reached over for an alcohol pad. Opening the package, he pulled out the pad and told her. "Keep still, this will sting a bit."

Her reaction to the pad was instantaneous as he heard her hiss through her teeth as he cleans the wound. "Here, this should help," He told her as he blew lightly on the area.

The intimacy of the moment and the rapid cooling of the alcohol on her skin caused her to shiver. That would be the pattern for the next few minutes as Xander tended to her wounds, every time he would blow on a wound she would try to stop the shiver that seemed almost involuntary on her part. And each time she would silently berate herself for acting like a little girl.

Finishing cleaning her wounds, Xander packed up the kit and set it aside and reached for the SPAS-12 lying next to the bed. Pulling it up and onto the bed, he noticed Faith smirking at him.

"What's so funny?"

"The fact that the rest of them didn't want you involved tonight," she said with a chuckle. "Man, if they only knew what I knew you would be right there on the front lines!"

"Pretty ironic isn't it?" He asked with a smile.

"Considering the front you put up for them it's no wonder. I mean they barely know you Xander."

"They do know me; they just don't know all of me. We all have our own little secrets to hide, right?" he says leveling a stare at Faith.

"What are you talking about?" she asks him.

"You know what I'm talking about, Faith. If anyone should know about false fronts, it's you. The stories you tell, the bravado, all of it, Faith! I don't know who is this persona that you've created but it is not the girl I met in Boston."

"You wouldn't know anything about it, hotshot!"

"Try me," He says calmly.

"The girl was weak! She was weak and she let her Watcher die! She was so weak that she couldn't do anything except watch as the one person who ever gave a damn about her was tortured and murdered! She was the protector of those around her and she failed when it mattered the most!" Faith didn't know when it happened but she knew she was crying. She could feel her tears as they streamed down her face.

"So the girl that came to Sunnydale was strong enough to deal with anything and everything?"

"Damn straight," She told him wiping the offending tears from her face.

What he did next completely took her by surprise. She felt his arms wrap around her and she involuntarily leaned into the warmth he provides. She took in his smell and the feel of his arms around her and weakly protested, "What are you doing?"

His voice close to her ear caused the shivers to return to her body. "You are far from weak. The girl I met that night was strong, loving and cared very deeply about those within her city. She spoke with love and emotion in her voice. You don't have to be brave, brazen or cocky around me, Faith. I've seen the real you, the one that cares and, if anything, it is that other person who is weak. She doesn't have the strength or conviction that the Faith I know has and because of that she will never be as strong as you."

"I bet you say that to all the girls," she mumbled into his neck, reveling in the feel of his cheek on her own.

"Only the ones I save from she-demons," He whispered into her ear.

Faith pulled away gently and looked Xander straight in the eye before leaning into him, capturing his lips with her own. Faith's soft lips against his own sent sparks through Xander's entire body. What started out as a light kiss deepened in urgency, what had been innocent had turned into deep desire.

Breaking apart, Faith pulled Xander onto the bed saying, "Well there's one thing about this Faith I like."

Xander while feeling the tug of Faith's hands on his shirt pulling him on top of her he said, "What's that?"

Faith reached over to the nightstand and flicked off the light before answering. "This Faith is much, much more bolder than the girl you met in Boston."

Before he could say anything, the feeling of Faith's lips against his own silenced him. As her arms circled around his back he forgot for a moment his mission, the she-demons, the Hellmouth, everything. At that moment in time, she is the single most important thing in the world to him. And he intends to show her just that.


Chapter Two
History Lessons

As Xander pulled off the freeway and onto the detour route he remembered the offer he had given Faith that night, before he left her motel room.


Xander was out of the bed pulling on his shirt and gathering any other items of clothing that had been thrown onto the floor.

"So you're off to do whatever it is you do, while we're out patrolling?" Faith asked, holding the sheet demurely over her chest.

"As a matter of fact?" he said nonchalantly, without so much as a glance in her direction. "Yes."

"Aren't you even concerned about what me, and the others are fighting?"

"With what? The She-demons or the Hellmouth opening?" He answered as he pulled on his pants.

"You know?"

"Yes." He was only able to find one sock. He knew it was around here somewhere.

"You know, and you still aren't going to help us?"

"That is my current plan, yes." He answered her from the floor looking under the bed for his missing sock. Using his arm as a probe he finally located it. Clutching it in his hand he moved to get up, only to find a very naked, and very angry Slayer on top of him. Again.

"You know that the Mouth of FUCKING Hell is going to open tonight and you aren't going to lift a DAMN finger to help stop it!?!?

"No. And as much as I love being in this position," with those words Xander rolled his hips upward knocking Faith off balance. Using that to his advantage he planted his left elbow into the ground and pivoted to his right, effectively flipping Faith onto her back with Xander on top of her pinning her to the ground. Xander leaned down and kissed her again in the heat of the moment before saying, "and this position, neither of us have time for a second round."

Xander got up and allowed Faith to get to her feet. But not before he saw the small look of disappointment in her eyes.

"Besides." He continued as he put on the rest of his clothes. "I have it on very good authority that not only will the Hellmouth open tonight, but it will undoubtedly close as well."

"How good of an authority is this?"

"He's never been wrong before."

"There is always a first time."

"I trust him."

"I don't even know him Xander! How can you expect me to trust him?"

Xander seemed to look at her for a long time. "I could show you what he showed me."

"What do you mean?"

"You've always wanted to know what it is I do, well here is your chance. I'm making you an offer Faith. If you survive tonight, meet me at the diner we usually have dinner at and I'll tell you everything."

"But you just told me the Hellmouth will close."

"But I didn't say you would survive it did I?"

"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Faith said with a sarcastic smirk.

"Well if this helps any, here is a little incentive for you." He said as he leaned down and kissed her again, slower this time. He let his lips linger over hers long enough to let his passion be known, but just short enough to make her want more.

"I gotta get going." He said, after releasing her lips. "I've got a world to save and so do you, remember?"

He picked up the SPAS-12 and walked over to the window of the room checking all directions before he pulled the door open. He was about to walk out when Faith's voice stopped him.

"Tomorrow night then?"

Xander turned back and nodded back with a lop-sided grin, "Tomorrow night."

With the SPAS-12 at the ready and a grin on his face he made his exit.


He remembered talking to Faith about that night later on. She said that he was dark, mysterious and incredibly sexy. Xander couldn't help but chuckle at that. Angel would have been proud! Either that or annoyed that someone was stealing his shtick.

As it turned out, Faith didn't meet him the next night. The injuries she sustained in the fight against the Hellmouth demon put her out of commission for a couple of days. He wasn't joking when he told her that he wasn't sure if she would survive or not.

Jason has shown him the numbers for missions such as that. Even with his best teams the mortality rate on the missions were at least twenty percent. The Scooby gang was lucky they had gone through so much already but their numbers had been much better. Later Xander discovered that another reason that Jason had chosen him was that he hoped that Xander would bring some of that 'luck' with him.

The funny thing about it was that he actually did bring that luck with him. Jason said that out of all the agents under his direct command, Xander had the highest success ratio. With each mission, his skills improved exponentially, he was able to fulfill the mission requirements with ease and proficiency. In short, he was becoming the best. There were still some out there that could possibly beat him in different aspects of the game, but as a total player, he was seen as one of the elite.

But it wasn't until he brought Faith into the group did he truly become the best. Correction, when Faith joined him as his partner they became the best. Jason told them those above him had given their little unit a nickname; The Untouchables. They were the wild cards, the two of them separately they could change a situation in their favor, together they would win hands down almost every time.

As he pulled up to his modest home he saw his wife stretching on the front porch. Her daily routine included five mile run every afternoon. She trotted down the steps of the porch to meet him as he stepped out of the car.

"You're home early." She said as she threw her arms around his neck.

"You surprised? Do you have some young guy hiding in the back?" He joked. It had been their running joke for the past few years. Since they had 'settled' down he joked that she would find a younger more attractive man to replace him. She always laughed responded with the same answer.

"You kidding me? I don't think a man exists in this world that can keep up with me, let alone satisfy me better than you. Besides, I've put in so much effort into you, it's be a shame to waste all that hard work hot shot." She said with a wink.

"Well if you're not tired of me yet, would you mind if I joined you on your run? It'd help me wind down a bit." He told her.

"You do feel a bit tense." She stated, "Fine, just as long as you don't slow me down."

"I've been able to keep up all these years haven't I?" He said with a slight leer before adding. "Give me a sec to change and I'll stretch with you."

With that he disappeared into the home. A few minutes later he was at the front door in a tank top and warm-ups. He and Faith had kept in shape over the years, their respective enhancements made sure of that. However it was some of the skills, some instincts that had dulled over the years. The skills were still there, but they were woefully rusty with misuse. What might have taken seconds in a previous life now could take close to a minute.

After stretching a bit he turned to his wife and asked, "You ready to get going?"

"I was waiting for you remember?" She said with an annoyed look, but she couldn't keep the smile off of her face for long, "Come on, let go!"

With that they took off on their run. They headed to a large park that was located three miles from their home. Faith had told him once that she usually did five laps around the perimeter of the park, a total distance of about four miles. The terrain around the park heavily wooded with trails cutting trough patches of trees.

By the time they got to the park the sun was hanging low in the sky. When he had asked her why she enjoyed running at this time her response was that it reminded her of patrol. The dark patches on the trail helped her keep her senses sharp.

When they had started there were a few people still in the park. A couple with their children, a man with his dog, a few other runners along the different paths, but as they begun their fifth lap Xander noticed that they had all left, trying to get home before nightfall no doubt.

As they turned the corner and onto a particularly dark patch on the trail, something grated against Xander's senses, something that harkened back to his days on mission.

He glanced at Faith who looked like she didn't notice anything, but still there was something here, something that was off. Up ahead there were two men walking towards them talking amiably. To some they would have looked like a couple of friends taking a short walk after work but something about them didn't feel right, something that hovered just outside of his senses.

Then he saw it, as one of them pointed to something in the distance and he saw that he was wearing suspenders and a belt.

To some it was nothing. To him it was a tell-all, something that raised warning flags in his mind.

One wore one and not the other, never both. The only reason you would have to wear both would be if you had something heavy in your pockets, like your two backup guns. He quickly assessed him. His pants were cut low enough that they came down to his heels. Not the kind of thing you would wear for work, but if you had an ankle holster and an ankle sheath it would hide both nicely.

What did they want? They weren't there on their previous passes; they had to be there specifically for them. Why? Did the Initiative finally decide that they wanted to clean up any and all loose ends? He and Faith had done what they had wanted, they left it all behind quietly and now they wanted to take them out?

Keeping pace he bent down and scooped up a glass shard off of the ground, he had noticed it earlier on their first lap of the park.

His sudden downward motion caught Faith's attention and he nodded his head towards the two men. After a brief glance he could see the realization on her face. She nodded as they both slowed their pace a bit.

Xander placed the shard in his palm as he felt its edges. It was a slight of hand trick he had picked up to conceal small items, if he needed it he would let the piece of glass fall into his fingers and use it as a small dagger. It would only be good for a single stab, but that was all he would need.

"Excuse me, Professor and Mrs. Stevenson?" The first man asked as they came to a halt. Both men were standing in their way, blocking their path.

"Yes? What can we do for you?" Xander replied breathing heavily, feigning tiredness, and belying his true physical shape.

"You will come with us, we have something we would like to discuss with you."

"I'm sorry but do we know you?" Faith asked.

"No but we do know you two." The second man said placing his hands on his hips, causing his jacket to bulge.

It was an overt threat, telling then that they were ready to use force if needed.

"Sorry, but we're not going to go anywhere with you two." Xander replied.

"Look buddy, like it or not you're going to go..." The second man didn't have a chance to finish his sentence as Xander let the piece of glass fall to his fingers. Grasping the shard on the flat edges firmly Xander stabbed the second man in the stomach tearing skin and muscle tissue in the process.

The man cried out in pain as he went to clutch his stomach, it was this very movement that showed Xander that he was dealing with amateurs, either that or extremely wet behind the ears rookies.

Always go for you weapon first, always.

It had been one of the mandates that Jason had given him. The pain would still be there if you didn't draw your weapon, this way you have a chance to defend yourself.

The first man reached out to his partner trying to help him but was only rewarded by Faith's arms dislocating his shoulder.

Xander meanwhile, reached into his opponent's jacket and pull out the gun in the shoulder holster, pistol whipping the man at the same time.

Almost as soon as his opponent hit the ground so did Faith's. She had hit him with a chop across the carotid triangle pinching the arteries located there cutting off the blood supply to the brain enough to cause unconsciousness.

Switching the safety on the gun off Xander calmly swept the area looking for any other threats. The fight took less than fifteen seconds and he didn't notice if the two were able to contact any backup, but he wanted to be sure. While he swept the area he looked at the Model 92 in his hand.

It wasn't Initiative issue that was sure. The Initiative standard sidearm was the Glock 21, when he had left. The only people who used Berettas as a sidearm were the US army and government agencies. It wouldn't have been uncommon if they were in the Pacific Northwest, but here, here these men had to work for the government.

Faith crouched down to the two unconscious bodies as Xander performed his sweep. Pulling out a badge fold she opened it out and confirmed Xander's previous thoughts. Pulling out the other man's badge fold she saw that they both were attached to the CIA.

The CIA in times past weren't allowed to operate on American soil. However what had happened ten years ago changed all that. It had plunged half the country into martial law while the other half turned a blind eye and quarantined the area off, letting the unfortunate to fend for themselves.

"We need to get out of here, quickly." He told her. "We could probably take a car from the far lot," Xander said but Faith held her hand up silencing him. "What is it?" He whispered.

"Listen." She said quietly, pointing upward.

Straining his ears he searched for the sound that had drawn his wife's attention. Leaves rustling, a dog barking...and...and a soft rumble.

That was what had triggered his senses earlier, the sound was as out of place here as a fish out of water.

The sound of a car in idle.

They moved quietly to see a car parked on a small access road at the back of the park, left in idle. No doubt, for a quick get away. Faith moved to the driver's seat while Xander continued to watch the perimeter, sweeping it with the M92.

"Where to?" Faith asked.

"Home. They wont be able to force their way into our home and the neighborhood is too full for them to try anything." He replied.

"They will confront us." It was a statement that Xander knew to be true.

"Yes, but at least we can do it on our own terms. Lets go."

As they pulled out of the access road and onto normal streets, they wondered why the agency would come after them. Their former identities were hidden, obscured into the past. No one outside of the Initiative should have been able to find out whom they were and what it was that they did. Not even the other Initiative that Professor Walsh had control over all those years ago knew who they were. They all had the 'highest' government clearance.

But Faith, Jason, and himself and the rest of his cell were all beyond security clearances, to the world they were invisible, shadows in the dark, not a single person would betray that secrecy.

No one.

But someone did.

How could security been breeched so completely? Who would have sold their secrets? Someone had been sloppy, someone had opened the Pandora's box and now, now those who couldn't possibly understand their mission, their purpose, were coming after them.

But for what purpose? If they had wanted them dead, they would already be so.

Xander and Faith glanced at each other each knowing what was going through the other's mind. They were caught, unprepared and unawares, they had wanted something else. But the question was what?

They had been out of the game for so long, their secrets were dated, from missions long past. Anything they had to reveal would have been revealed by whatever source had leaked that information.

Faith pulled the car up to the curb in front of the house. Neither she nor Xander cared at this point how strange it must have looked for them to be driving up to the house since when they left, they left without any transportation except their own two feet.

Xander hid the M92 from view as they walked up onto their porch. As they walked into the house he tossed the gun to Faith who deftly caught the weapon as she pulled a light jacket out of the closet. Quickly putting the garment on she secured the gun by the small of her back using her waistband to hold the weapon steady.

Walking to the front window they waited for one of two things to happen; either whoever sent the two agents after them would come in force, or more likely whoever sent the agents would come in quietly and clean up any residuals left in the area.

They had no other guns aside from the M92 they took In the kitchen were some knives, but nothing that would last long in a melee, or against any personal armor that their assailants would undoubtedly be wearing. They would have to make a stand inside their home.

So expectantly, they waited for an unknown enemy to make their move against them.

What happened next however, was completely unexpected. A limousine pulled up in front of their home, with small flags for both the United States and CIA mounted on the hood of the car.

Whoever was in that car was making a peace offering.

An open, public appearance, no shows of force this time.

As the car parked in their driveway, both Xander and Faith made their way onto the front porch.

Xander leaned against the doorframe an arm wrapped around Faith's waist as she leaned back into him. To any watching them from the street, they would look like a husband and wife welcoming a friend to their home. For Xander and Faith it gave them a strategic advantage.

Unbeknownst to those in the limousine, Xander's free hand was around the handle of the gun that Faith had placed at the small of her back. It was a position they had used before, in another life.

It had been another one of Jason's mandates; Amateurs always hesitate to harm a woman. Use that weakness; exploit it.

Faith provided a split second hesitation that gave Xander all the time he needed to get one, if not two shots off. At the current distance to the limousine, both shots would be deadly.

A man stepped out of the limo, his jacket in one hand. Turing his back to them, he closed his door and walked to the passenger side window. He knocked on the window and it rolled down. The man gestured to the driver and then turned around slowly to face the couple on the porch. Leaving his jacket on the roof of the limo he walked slowly towards the house.

"Looks like he's waving the white flag." Faith said softly to her husband.

"Looks like it." Xander agreed.

The man's movements were deliberate. He was showing them he was unarmed and alone.

He continued to walk up the path towards the porch until Xander told him, "That's far enough. What ever it is you have to say can be said from there."

Stopping his forward movement, the man spoke. "I'm just here to talk."

"I suppose your associates at the park 'just wanted to talk' as well?" Faith asked coolly.

An almost imperceptible wince came over the man's features before he answered. "Jones and Leffingwell, were a bit overzealous in their methods. But considering both your reputations..."

"As what? A professor? A housewife? Your men underestimated my wife and I. Plain and simple. They didn't expect us to know how to defend ourselves, the university has many adult self-defense courses." Xander told the stranger in their front yard. Their cover was meant to avoid suspicion, not stand up against focused scrutiny.

"Is that so Mr. Harris? I seriously doubt they taught you two what you did to my men in a self-defense class."

"I don't know who Mr. Harris is, but I assure you my husband and I are quite capable of defending ourselves."

"And who exactly are you? And what exactly is it that you want?" Xander questioned the man standing in front of them.

"I am William Carmichael. Assistant Director for the CIA. As for what I want," he said taking a step forward.

"Stay where you are." Xander said firmly, stopping Carmichael in his tracks.

"As for what I want," Carmichael reached into his pocket and was about to pull out an item when he heard an audible click of a gun's hammer being pulled back. Looking up he saw that the man he knew as Alexander Harris had pulled a gun from somewhere and had leveled it at him.

"I don't care what it is you are going to pull out, but I want you to do it slowly, you so much as twitch the wrong way and I'll blow your head off." When Carmichael had reached into his pocket, Xander had to make a decision. Try to keep their cover intact or protect themselves, as it was with all maters concerning Faith he chose to protect her.

Faith, feeling Xander's grip on her waist slack, she stepped away from him and moved off to the side and began to slowly move toward Carmichael. Carefully keeping the man and in between herself and the limousine.

"Whatever you have in your hand, I want you to hand over to my wife."

"What makes you think I wont try to take her hostage?" Carmichael questioned.

Xander chuckled as he shook his head slightly. "If you tried that, she'd probably break your neck before I could even get a shot off and she'd probably use your carcass as a shield to get back into the house."

Carmichael looked at the stunning woman in front of him, who now had a cold smirk on her face. He could see that Harris was telling the truth. Slowly and in plain sight Carmichael took the small container from his pocket and handed it to the woman he knew as Faith.

"I just want to talk," he told them as he handed the container over. "Consider this a peace offering, I have more where that came from. There is a number written on it, it's my personal cell phone number. Only a handful of people know it."

Taking the container. Faith backed up until she was in the doorframe with Xander.

At the same time the man began to back away towards the limousine. Reaching back, he glanced at the door searching for the handle and opened the door and got into the limousine. A few moments later the limousine pulled away from the curb and down the street.

At the door Xander released the hammer on the gun and both he and Faith retreated into the safety of their home.

Faith opened the container while Xander eyed the window to see if there were any lingering 'visitors' outside of their home.

Looking at what his wife was doing he exclaimed, "Are you crazy! What if that thing is a booby trap?"

"I would have felt the bad vibes the instant I held onto it hotshot. You do remember that I have all the Slayer powers, including the spider-sense."

"I know it's just that this whole situation is unnerving. Faith, the guy knew who we were. I don't know what happened but someone seriously fucked up."

Opening the container revealed a small disc and a card with a number written on it. The disc was dated May 17th, 2000.

The date made Faith go pale. Xander saw the change and went to his wife's side. Seeing the date on the disc made him drop to his knees.

They sat there in silence, in a shared somber. Seconds ticked by, each of them reliving a memory so painful it made them both physically sick.

"We have to watch it." Faith said as she slowly got up and walked to the living room with Xander following closely behind.

Handing the disc to Xander who placed the disc into the DVD player and turned the TV on. Sitting next to his wife he hit play on the remote control and the picture on the TV came to life.

Had anyone been passing by, or even listening closely at that moment, they would have heard a crash and low wailing. A wail that had embodied pain, agony and loss, a wail that emerged from the depths on an individual's soul barring all that was contained within.

For inside the home of Professor Jonathan Stevenson and his wife, the home Xander and Faith Harris, was Xander clutching Faith to him as they sat on the floor. Surrounded by the shards of what was left of their glass coffee table he comforted her as best he could with the white hot seething rage that boiled inside of him as he continued to watch as the video on the screen looped again once more.

On the screen were younger versions of themselves. The night, they had lost the baby.

"What's wrong?" He heard Faith's voice say from TV.

He watched as the doctor looked at his younger self and shook his head, holding the unmoving form of his child.

He heard the barely whispered word as he saw the figure on the television lower his head in sorrow.

"Xander what's wrong?!" Faith's voice said again, more panicked than before, "Why isn't she crying?!? Xander, why wont she cry!?!"

Then the sobs came, not unlike the one he heard now, low guttural sobs. Sobs of pain, sadness and of unwarranted injustice. The doctors left the room as he watched as Xander and some of the other staff tried to restrain Faith.

But it wasn't reliving that moment that cased his rage to boil. Nor was it reliving this moment the cause of Faith's sobs against his chest. The next scene on the tape showed the doctors walking, in what had to be the hallway just outside of the room they had just been in, for he could hear the muffled cries of his wife still faintly on the video.

A man he had never seen before in his life walked up to the doctors. "Did all go as planned?"

The doctor nodded yes and handed a small bundle over to the man. As the man turned around to walk away Xander could see the bundle squirm and as the man pushed open doors at the end of the hallway open he heard the unmistakable sound of a baby crying.

His baby.

Against his chest Faith said the words he was thinking in him mind. But only she said them not with the rage he felt inside, but with pain that racked her body as she sobbed.

"They took our baby. They took our baby. Our beautiful baby girl. Xander, they took her!" She said once again as the video on the screen replayed the scene. Her body shaking with sobs.

Holding her close and cooing her he tried to get her to calm down. Looking down he saw the card that had Carmichael's number on it.

The number seared into his brain.

If Carmichael wanted to talk they would talk.

Xander wanted answers.

Answers he would get out of Carmichael, one way or the other.