The Music of Pain

Author: MH <mh_7[at]>

'The Music of Pain' has been used by another author, I know. But it was used as the name of a series of fics, not the title of a fic. About Xander/Tara, doing the nasty behind Willow and Anya's backs. This ain't it.

SUMMARY: Xander returns a changed man.

TIMELINE: 1 year post S7-'Chosen'

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the TV series or movies that I will be using in this fic.

RATING: NC-17. A little bit of sex & a spot a violence. Mix in some blood and guts, a few bad words, some nudity, and some other stuff.

SPOILERS: Buffy(S1-7) With 1 major changes: Xander doesn't return to Sunnydale in S4.

Angel(S1-4) Minor changes: Faith gets out of prison early to help the Scoobies fight Glory. Everything else happens the way they do in the show.

CATEGORY: Dark Fic. Lots of action. Semi-Comedy. Multi-crossover fic... it's a surprise!

PAIRING: hints of: Xander/Cordelia

CATEGORY: Action-Adventure/Horror/Sci-Fi

Dedicated to Joseph Gonzales for giving the challenge that convinced me to do the fic. (I hope I got his name right.)

Chapter 1

TIME: May 5, 2004
PLACE: Cleveland, Ohio

The group was getting tired of waiting for this guy. But it was only by luck that they had a friend who was bringing this informer to the bar that been designated as their meeting place.

This bar was a shit dive...

No, wait. Don't get off topic.

Clem, you remember him... right?

Buffy Anne Summers, Tara McClay, Willow Rosenberg, Kennedy, Faith, Rupert Giles, and Robin Wood sat at a large table in a corner of the dingy bar. Waiting for what felt like hours, for their demonic friend to show up, with an informant.

That's when they saw Clem enter through the back door, leading a blind man to their table.

Buffy spoke up before anybody else could react.

"We've never heard of him," Buffy told the blind man as he sat down.

Clem sitting in the chair next to him, gave a small wave and a smile to Dawn. Which she politely returned.

"Who?" the blind man asked.

"The man you recommended," Giles replied.

"The guitar fighter?" the blind man turned his head in the direction of Giles' voice.

"Yes," came Buffy's snarl.

"Wiped out a couple towns single-handedly," he said with a smile, "a real nut. You probably heard of him, you just didn't know it was him they were talking about. You should meet him."

He felt the confused looks they were giving him.

"Since I'm the only one here with the info I might as well do with the introduction, heh?" he began, "did you ever here about the Barillo-Cartel massacre, down in Mexico?"

"No," Buffy cut in, before Giles could respond.

"Huh," he conferred, "well that's when I first heard about him. He was a legend. They used to say he was the biggest Mexican they'd ever seen. But it was total bullshit, he was 5'9, 5'10 tops. That's no record, but it's bigger than most of us."

"He's Mexican?" Buffy asked.

"You got something against Mexicans?" the blind man declared.

"No," Buffy replied, "it's just, the way you described him, I thought he was a demon, not human."

The blind man was tempted to leave without giving them the info that they wanted. This little pendeja better shut her mouth. He really wanted to leave, but he needed the money even more.

"Marquez," he started his story again, "he was a different story. Marquez, heh heh, General Marquez..."

"What's this General got to do with all this?" Buffy interrupted.

"That's what I'm trying to explain," he answered.

"You don't have to yell at me," Buffy murmured.

"Well if you'd just shut up, I'd be able to give you the information that you want," he replied.

"Well, if you'd stop telling all these side stories and just get to the point..."

She was interrupted before she could finish her sentence.

"Buffy, please be quiet and let the man speak," Giles begged.

When he was certain Buffy wouldn't interrupt again, Giles turned to the blind man in order to here the whole story.

"Please continue," Giles said.

"General Marquez," the blind man continued, "Powerful... dangerous. Marquez, he had it in for this Mariachi. They called him the Mariachi because he used to carry this guitar."


El Mariachi was sitting at a table by himself, in a small bar, a candle on each table, giving the room very little light.


Buffy was getting bored really quick.

"A guitar?," Buffy sniggled, "whoop-dee-doo."

Giles wasn't the only one that was tired of her always interrupting.

"B," Faith began, "no disrespect, but, shut the hell up and let the man finish."

The blind man waited for...

Buffy? What the HELL kinda name is that?

Well, anyway, he waited for her to shut up before he continued.

"Believe me," he advised, "he really knew how to play it too."


Putting out the candle with his fingers, he threw the table away from him before turning to face Marquez.

The General was ready for anything that the Mariachi might do.

But he wasn't ready for this, because he hated being humiliated in front of his men.

The Mariachi kicked open his guitar case, to reveal a guitar inside. Black Pearl. The guitar was shining, almost glowing.

'El' began playing his guitar.

Marquez's face was turning red with anger, as his men began laughing around him.

But they were caught off guard for what happen next.

Gun shots were heard, and the General's men were being killed around him.


"Well, these stories are well traveled," the blind man admitted, "they might have picked up some embellishments along the way. Just read between the lines. He might not have been the biggest Mexican ever, but SHE was as deadly as she was beautiful."

"There's a girl?" Giles inquired.

"Oh, yeah. There's a girl," the man replied, "when he'd run out of ammo, she'd take over."


The fight was interrupted when a beautiful woman entered the bar. She took one look at all the soldiers who had their guns pointed at a single man, who was hovering above Marquez.

The soldiers were stunned when they saw her lifting up her skirt. They were too distracted by looking at her beautiful set of legs, that they never noticed the throwing knives she reached for, that were hidden by her skirt.

She pulled her arm back up, and with a quick flick of her wrist, four knives were thrown, killing the four soldier that were closest to the Mariachi. The knives were buried in their foreheads.


The blind man continued...

"The most drop-dead-gorgous woman you'd ever see," he murmured.

He paused a bit before continuing.

"That's when all the trouble began. She was with Marquez, and when Marquez saw that she was with the Mariachi, well he went crazy. He hunted them down and fought the Mariachi to the death."


The beautiful brunette held a cut down double-barrel shotgun as she faced General Marquez.


"And then she... put a bullet in his heart... " he whispered.


She raised the shotgun, and shot Marquez in the chest, without hesitating.


" ...but, he didn't die. I don't know what happened after that, either Marquez caught up with them, or the cartel."


'El' was in a lot of pain. Taking three shots to the torso, and if no one helped him soon, he'd die from the blood loss.


"But like I said, the man's a myth... a legend," the blind man finished.

A new voice interrupted their conversation.

"That's not true," a demon growled, in a deep voice.

The entire group turned to see a six foot demon in a trench coat. It looked like a cross between a Minotaur and an ape. It had a human looking body, with the face of an animal, the horns of a bull, and completely covered in black fur.

"And how would you know?" Buffy snapped.

The hairy six-foot demon paid her no attention.

"I heard about him last year," the demon said, looking at the old watcher.

Rupert Giles took his cue to ask the next obvious question.

"What did you hear?" Giles asked.

'Oh, GREAT... Another story,' Buffy thought.

"Did you hear about the coup d'e-tat that happened in Mexico a few months ago?" the demon questioned.

Buffy scrunched her brow in confusion.

"Kuda-Wha?" Buffy echoed.

The demon rolled his eye's from the lack of knowledge this slayer held.

"Coup d'e-tat. A revolution," the demon explained.

"Please continue," Giles interrupted, before anyone else could ask another question.

"It happened November 2nd," the demon replied.

Buffy, not being very bright, kept interrupting to ask time consuming questions.

"So?" Buffy retorted.

Giles didn't even both to turn as he answered her question.

"November 2nd is a Mexican holiday," Giles replied.

The demon nodded in response.

"El Dia de los Muertos" the demon said, in almost perfect Spanish.

Buffy, again, drew a blank.

"And what's that mean...?" Buffy snapped back again.

"It means 'The Day of the Dead'," Giles replied.

Rupert Giles wasn't called 'Ripper' in his young day's for nothing. He has kept his share of secrets from Buffy. Just as each of his charges have from each other.

Giles said he knew nothing of this 'Guitar fighter'.

But in fact, the Watcher's Council has been looking for this man for quite some time.

The hitman had killed a Hispanic potential and a Watcher in training nine years ago. A month before Buffy was called.

This young girl was destined to be called, but in the event of her untimely death, the Council had no time to search for and properly train the next Slayer.

What puzzled Giles was the change the Gunfighter had gone through. Five years ago, the 'Guitar fighter' had no qualms in killing innocent bystanders, just as long as he got his target.

But now he seemed to have a complete change in morals.

Instead of working for drug dealers, he now goes after them, killing their men and destroying their products.

His last stunt was saving the life of the Mexican President. A man who was far from his biggest fan.

This only meant that the President had not revealed the entire truth, since he was against vigilantes. The President had only said that several 'concerned citizens of Mexico' came to his rescue, when his second in command, Nikolas Fernandez, had betrayed him to this General Marquez.

"If dead people get a holiday, why can't slayers also get one?" Buffy asked.

Everyone had finally just stopped listening to whatever came out of her mouth.

"Ooh, we can make it my birthday," Buffy said, with a wide smile, "We can call it 'Slayer Day'. No bad guy is aloud to kill on 'Slayer Day'. And if they're caught, they have to let us kill them, and not put up a fight."

Most people rolled their eye's, a few shook their heads. Already ashamed to be known as friends to this once feared Vampire Slayer.

"Buffy, please shut up. Actual adults are trying to talk here," Kennedy said.

It took a moment for Buffy to comprehend what Willow's girlfriend had just said.

"Hey!" Buffy exclaimed.

Tara hid a small smile, not wanting to bring any unwanted attention to herself.

"You were saying?" Giles asked, before Buffy could prattle on about herself.

"I heard about the Mariachi, and how he saved the President's life."

"So he isn't just some character that was invented through stories?" Giles asked.

"No," was the demon's simple response.

"Where can we find him?" Giles implored.

"No one knows."

"Maybe I can do a locater spell," Willow interrupted.

"Won't work," the demon informed the redheaded Wicca.

"Well, you won't know until you've tried," Willow responded.

"Lots of humans and demons have tried," the demon imparted, "and they've all failed."

Buffy, ready to defend her friend, forced herself into the argument.

"She's alot stronger than she looks."

"She ain't stronger than the 'Charmed Ones'," the demon interjected.

Willow and Tara's eye's widen by this little hint of information. But Buffy was unfazed, as she had no idea who the Charmed Ones were.

"They failed to locate this Mariachi with their magic?" Willow asked.

"They haven't tried," the demon admitted, "but there's a bet going on to see if the Charmed Ones can find this guy. And if they can, how long it'll take them before they actually find him. The jackpot up to $2 million."

"Who're the Charmed Ones?" Buffy asked.

She had no idea how strong these witches were.

"Three witches," the demon began, "natural born witches, the strongest witches in the world. They've vanquished more demons than all of your little group put together."

Buffy was easily angered. Being the slayer was not always her goal in life. But she didn't like being outclassed by anybody. She always wanted being number one in everyone of her friend's lives.

"Can we get back on subject?" Giles insisted.

The demon, proud of his moment in goading the slayer, changed his concentration back into the discussion with the watcher.

"Oh, yeah," the demon said, "saved the President's life, then he disappeared."

Giles frowned.

"He knows magic?" Giles asked.

"Don't think so," the demon began, "no one's ever seen him use magic in a fight. But... it could be a nonactive power."

"Would you care to elaborate?" Giles suggested.

"Nonactive," the demon tried to explained, "uhh, like empathy... or premonition."

"Premonition?" Giles muttered to himself, "that would be great help in our line of work."

"Come to think of it...," the demon began to talk to himself, "premonition would explain a lot of things."

"Explains a lot of what things?" the blonde slayer asked.

"Every single human and demon that has tried to kill him have all failed." the demon explained.

"So this guy's... what, like a male slayer, or something?"

"No," the demon replied, "just a normal human."

"Please," Buffy replied, offended, "he'd have to be a slayer to be as good as you say he is."

"Buffy," Giles interrupted, "for the last time please be quite. We need to know everything about this gunfighter."

And as a surprise turn of event...

"Good idea Giles," Buffy agreed, "we get all the dirt on this guy, we find him, we kill him."

...Okay, then, maybe not.

"Buffy," Giles barked, "we are not going to kill him. We are going to need all the help we can get for what is coming."

Buffy glared at Giles, for not doing things her way.

"You heard what this guy is doing," Buffy argued, "he's running around killing humans, Giles. We have to stop him."

Giles was getting very irritated by Buffy's nagging remarks.

"Haven't you been listening to what has been said Buffy?" Giles asked, "this man is not a murderer of innocence. From what we've been told so far, all he's done so far is protect the innocent people."

"He kills Giles," Buffy argued, "that's not protecting, that's murder. He's no better than demons that kill people as well."

More than a few heads turned towards their table, about a dozen or so demons that had sat close enough to hear the Slayer.

"And like they said," Giles raised his voice, "he saved the life of the President of Mexico..."

Buffy wouldn't let him win an argument without putting her all to fight him with.

"Protecting one man's life does not give him the right to kill hundreds of other human lives," Buffy countered.

"The President of Mexico is one of the greatest leaders in human rights... " Giles began.

But was not allowed to finish, as Buffy interrupted him.

"He probably deserved to die," Buffy stated, "hell, he's probably made hundreds of mistakes. He was most likely cheating on his wife with dirty whores until his wife caught him in the act. And if she's the one that put the contract on his head, I'd say he deserved what he was gonna get."

Rupert Giles, was not a man that let himself become easily agitated, but he had finally had enough of Buffy's prattling.

"The past several President's of Mexico were corrupt," Giles began, "they openly accepted bribes, have dealt in blackmail, and have imprisoned many innocent citizens. This man is a saint compared to the President's of past. He has gone on national television to announce that he would neither deal nor compromise with drug dealers, murderers, rapists, or any other filthy low lives. Everyone of them would pay for the crimes they committed. He released all falsely imprisoned citizens and personally wrote a letter of apology to each and every one of them. And has paid a great deal of money for the pain and grief that were caused to the falsely imprisoned and their families. He has also given hundreds of thousands of jobs to those who were jobless. And for your bloody information, his wife died a few months after he became President. And since then he has not even considered seeing another woman, romantically. He has done all this to honor the memory of his wife."

That had finally shut her up. Buffy's face was completely red with rage, but she had already lost the argument.

So she did the only thing that came to her mind.

She stormed out of the bar.

Giles, for his part, looked almost embarrassed at the argument that had just taken place.

"Please excuse my out burst," Giles apologized.

"It's alright," the demon replied, "I'm a pacifist demon, but already i felt like tearing her throat out."

Giles was a little surprised, by this demon's response.

"She seems to inspire those feeling in demons," Giles said.

"Huh," the demon snorted.

Giles returned to the conversation at hand.

"Do you have anymore information concerning this guitar fighter?" Giles asked.

"You'll find him only when he wants to be found," the blind man responded.

The demon nodded his head in agreement.

"Well," Giles began, "thank you for your help."

Giles drops an envelop filled with money on the table and leaves, heading home for the night.

"I still say I can do the spell," Willow muttered to herself.

The rest of the group had worried looks on their faces as Willow was the next to leave.

Tara, even though they were no longer dating, still worried about her ex-girlfriend. Praying that she isn't overcome by her dark magics again.

Kennedy, even though knowing Willow for almost two years, was dumbfounded as to why her girlfriend would always follow Buffy without question.

Faith, still the black sheep of the group, was never into the group effort. Still wasn't, and never would get used to it. She was afraid that this Slayer army of theirs wouldn't be ready by the time this next big evil arrived.

Robin Wood was concerned for the well being of the young women. He wasn't being sexist. Not in the least bit. Slayers were strong. They could take care of themselves... physically. But... mentally, that was another matter. And what made things worse was that most Slayers felt a need to be in charge, to have people follow their orders, instead of the other way around.

Slayers have always had a large burden to carry on their shoulders. And with this new 'Big Bad' coming their way, and a large group of Slayers in their way, there is sure to be a long and brutal battle of egos in the near future.

And they still had to worry about the bad guys on top of that.


TIME: May 6, 2004
PLACE: Los Angeles, California

Angel was sitting in his chair behind his desk, brooding in his office, about Spike of all people. Not that he was worried about the blonde vampire, but the fact that he also had a soul, and Angel no longer was certain that this Shan-Shu prophecy was about him.

It was also harder for Angel to brood during the middle of the day, with the sun shining on his face, behind the protective glass that Wolfram & Hart spent quite a bit of money to make. He wasn't the only vampire that was working for the law firm, so all of the windows of this building were specially made.

Angel was interrupted from his thoughts by Spike barging into his office. Angel glared at his grand-childe before speaking.

"What do you want?" Angel asked.

"Nothin'," Spike replied.

"Then leave," Angel muttered.

"No," Spike answered, with a smirk on his face.

"I'm not in the mood," Angel barked, "go bug somebody else."

Spike doesn't even bother to reply as he sits down, and props his feet on top of Angel's desk.


Gunn, Fred, and Lorne sat on stools in one of the science labs. Discussing their busy work day ahead of them.

"I have to analyze this demon slime to find a weakness," Fred declared.

"I have a case later today to go to," Gunn said, "a client of Wolfram & Hart is being accused of murder."

"Got an interview for a new employee for the Entertainment Division," Lorne announced, "then I have a meeting with Mel... I mean, Mr. Gibson about promoting his new movie."


"You're meeting THE Mel Gibson?" Fred's voice came clearly through the small speakers as Wesley spied on his 'friends'.

None of them knew that Wesley was watching all of them. Wes had installed small hidden cameras in each of their offices, to pick up any secret conversations they have been having without him.

He had only found out yesterday, that Wolfram & Hart no longer had possession of Cordelia's body.

He had to find her, since everyone else had easily pushed her out of their preoccupied minds. He just needed someone he could trust to help him.

His first choice would have been to ask Xander, considering his past relationship with Cordelia. Even though knowing they had a very messy breakup, Xander still cared about Cordelia. Neither of the two had showed it publicly, but Wesley had later found out.

Xander was the first to know when Cordelia's family had lost all of their money. But kept it a secret, to prevent further embarrassment for his ex-girlfriend.

Cordelia had followed his orders, during the Graduation ceremony, and had stayed by his side. They protected each other that day.

Xander, Cordelia confessed to him, was the one that had helped her pay for her Prom dress. A very sentimental gesture of asking for forgiveness.

Cordelia didn't thank him out loud, but a moment of communication passed through their eyes, as she thanked him personally, and silently told him she was on the road to forgiving him for cheating on her.

But, for some unknown reason, no one has seen him in five years. Not since after the Graduation Ceremony, and the defeat of Mayor Wilkins III.

Wesley left his office, locking his doors behind him, and rode the elevator down to the parking garage and drove out of the building.

But what Wesley didn't know was that moment Angel was also keeping an eye on him as well.

Angel, now standing at his window, gazed down.

His heighten senses were able to pick out Wesley's car from his office on the 30th floor. No amount of good that Wes was able to say or do would be enough for Angel to forgive the ex-Watcher for kidnapping his son.

Even though Wesley had no memory of Connor, for that matter neither did the rest of the gang did, Angel still held it against him, never able to fully trust the man.

Especially his last stunt, that had gotten Fred hurt a few weeks ago.

Angel was no longer paying attention to what Spike was saying, until Wesley's car was out of view.

"Fine," Angel began, "you want something to do Spike?"

"Ya," Spike answered, "I'm bored out of my mind sitting on my ass all day. Unlike you, I don't enjoy brooding my panties into a bunch."

"Then follow Wesley," Angel ordered, "see what he's up to."

"Where'd he go to?" Spike asked.

Spike got up and walked to the window next to Angel.

Angel handed him a small tracking monitor.

Spike raised a eye brow at Angel.

"I placed a tracking device in his car," Angel admitted, "this should lead you right to him.

"Fine, mate," Spike acknowledged, "I'll do your dirty work, and follow the ponce."


Wesley was waiting inside a small pub for one of his informants. The man in question walked in and straight to his table.

Without going into formality that was taught to him by the Watcher's Council, Wesley cut to the chase.

"Were you able to get the information that I asked for?" Wesley asked.

"Yes," he said, "these 'men' have her body."

Wesley's informant produced a picture. And when he said 'men', he didn't mean human, the picture was of a group of demonic male beings in a large room. Although they did appear to be semi-human.

"They are keeping her body here," he continued.

The Informant produced another picture, of an old abandoned building, with the full address on the back side of the photograph.

"It will be hard to enter without their notice," he advised.

The Informant hesitated before continuing.

"Also," he began, "this man is working for them."

the last photograph he pulled out for Wesley was of an old man in his late 60's. A picture of a man that Wesley hated his entire life.


Spike was hidden from view as he listened into the ex-Watcher's conversation.

"Thank you," Wesley said, "here's your payment as we agreed."

Wes paid the man, took the photo's, and left the pub. The man left right after. But Spike didn't bother to follow either one.

"Who's this bird you're lookin for, mate?" Spike wondered.

"Need anything else?" a waitress asked him.

"No thanks luv," Spike replied, "got to be headin' out anyway."

Spike paid for his beer and left the pub to the dark back alley, where he left the company Jaguar. He got in, started the car, and drove back to Wolfram & Hart.

The platinum blonde souled-vampire walked into the office building with a confidence that he lacked, but hid it very well from everyone around him.

"Hey, you soddin' nancy boy, you won't believe what that sissy little choir boy's up to..." Spike announced as he walked straight into Angel's office.


TIME: May 7, 2004
PLACE: Houston, Texas

No one paid him any attention. To them he was just a out-of-work hippy musician. With his long hair, and a tie-dye shirt that was more than a few sizes too big, with very long sleaves that went past his wrists. Blue jeans and an old pair of white sneakers. And to finish it all off, an old acoustic guitar.

He tried to be the person he was before he knew all about demon's, vampire's, and hellmouth's.

The guy with no color sense. Always wearing clothes that clashed with each other. The guy with the "I don't care what other people think about" attitude.

And he didn't care.

All he cared about was walking away from his past.

To start a new life that didn't involve demon's, vampire's, or lowlife drug dealers.

'Cause they all wanted one thing.

To be known as the one that killed 'El Mariachi'.


He was already getting bored in this city. For some reason he'd been traveling a lot, never staying in one place for more than a couple of weeks.

He's already been to several cities after returning to the states.

Las Vegas, Roswell, El Paso, San Antonio, and now Houston.

The problem now was, where to go next?

He wanted to find a place that felt like home to him, but none of the places he had been to so far felt quite right to him.

It surprised him that even the small town of Roswell, New Mexico didn't feel like home.

Roswell was a bit smaller than his hometown, he thought maybe he could settle back down somewhere that felt like the place where he was born, but even then, Roswell wasn't enough to keep him rooted to one place.


People driving down the highway were staring at the brightly dressed stranger hitching for a ride.

But not a single one stopped to give him a ride.

The majority of people in the US were very cautious. Some were down right paranoid.

But there were a few that seemed to try to find the good side of everybody.


It wasn't until just after sunset when that special someone offered him a ride.

The man and his five companions were at a gas station, refueling, when they saw the man in the tie-dye shirt walk along the highway with an acoustic guitar.

Some of his companions were however very cautious, about picking up hitchhikers, especially at night.

Usually he was the one that was the paranoid one, but for some reason tonight he felt like being the "Good Samaritan", and help out his fellow man.

"Why don't we stop and give this guy a ride?" the driver asked.

"I don't like this," the man that sat behind the driver said.

"I agree," the blonde woman said.

A third man with short, dark brown hair nodded his head in agreement with these two.

"Don't worry," a woman with long dark brown hair said.

She sat in the front passenger seat, with her best friend sitting right behind her.

"There's six of us and only one of him," she continued, "if there's any problems, we'll be able to handle it."

Her best friend, a third girl with short, dirty blonde hair nodded her agreement.

"Fine, how about we just give him a ride to the next city we go through?" the driver pleaded.

The ones who were against this all shook their heads no.

Looks like he was gonna have to force them into this.

"Ok, we vote," the driver ordered, "who's in favor of giving this guy a ride?"

The driver, who was usually stoic, the woman with long, dark brown hair, and the woman with short, dirty blonde hair all raised their hands.

"Who votes against it?" the driver questioned.

The man that looked like he had permanent bed-hair, the woman with long, blonde hair, and the man with short, dark brown hair raised their hands.

"Looks like it's a tie," stated the man with permanent bed-hair.

"Nope, we win," the driver replied.

"And why's that?" asked the woman with long, blonde hair.

"Because I'm the leader," the driver pointed out, "so my vote counts as two."

The woman with long, dark brown hair smiled at the driver's reply.

After paying for the gas, they drove off to catch up to the hitch-hiker.

They pulled over to the shoulder, and the driver waited until the stranger walked to the passenger side of the van.

"Need a ride?" the driver asked.

"Sure," the hitchhiker answered.

"Where to?" the driver implored.

The woman with short, dirty blonde hair opened the back door to let the hitchhiker in.

"Anywhere," the hitchhiker indicated.

"Do you have somewhere specific in mind?" the driver implored.

"Nope," informed the hitchhiker, "just take me for as far as you can."

"Alright then," the driver said, "is the next city we get to good enough?"

"Yeah," the hitchhiker agreed, "that'll do."

But before the hitchhiker could get into the old model van, they were attacked by a group of ten vamps that jumped out from behind a row of bushes.

The driver and his companions immediately panicked, seeing the hitchhiker getting attacked they got into action, helping the man they just met.

"These things are stronger than they look," one of the men commented.

"I know that," the driver grunted.

The driver had erected a green shield to protect himself and his friends, but was having trouble keeping it intact.

"What's wrong with their faces?" asked the female brunette.

They were all surprised by how well the stranger was fighting these things with disfigured faced.

But, they were stunned when they saw the stranger pull something out from his back pocket and plunged it into the chest of one of their attackers.

Their firsts thoughts were that they had picked up a serial killer, or someone almost as dangerous, if he was so willingly to kill.

But their jaws dropped when they saw the attacker burst into ashes in front of their eyes.

"They're vamps," the hitchhiker explained, "use anything that's made out of wood.

"They're what?" the driver and his friends yelled.

This guy had to be insane as to what he had just told them. They just had a very hard time believing him.

"Vampires," the hitchhiker spat.

Even though they were certain that the hitchhiker was insane, they couldn't argue with the results of what happened when the creature disintegrated into dust.


The group was leaning against the van, exhausted by the end of the fight.

"So, what you're trying to say is that vampires and demons really exist, and almost all of them try everyday to destroy the world?" the driver summarized.

"Yup," the hitchhiker stated.

"That's not possible," the platinum blonde woman said.

"Come on," the woman with short hair retorted, "it's not that impossible."

She gave the group a look that hinted at a secret that the hitch-hiker had no idea about.

The look was a 'If aliens exist, how is it that hard to believe that demons exist as well' kinda look.

The driver concentrated on something that he read during breakfast that day before replying.

"Wild animal attacks," the driver stated.

The hitchhiker nodded his head in agreement.

"Less than ten percent of recorded attacks are actually made by animals," the hitchhiker stated.

"Recorded attacks," one of the women asked, "what's that supposed to mean?"

"Over a hundred people go missing everyday world wide," the hitchhiker said, "more than seventy-five percent of missing people reported are killed by vampires or demons without their loved ones ever knowing about it. But they're covered up with the usual cover ups: wild animal attacks, runaways, killed during a gang initiation, and a few other colorful explanations."

This was definitely the mother of all mood killers. The small group felt pity for strangers that would lose their loved ones, to never know what exactly became of them.

"Before we get any farther," the driver advised, "lets introduce ourselves."

They all agreed.

"My name is Maxwell Evens," the driver said, "but you can call me Max."

Max continues to introduce the others...

"The man that looks like he just woke up," Max pointed, earning a glare from said man, "is Michael Guerin."

He continued to the blonde girl next to Michael.

"This is my sister Isabel Evens," he called.

And with a smile he held the hand of the woman standing next to him.

"This is my wife Liz Parker Evens," he boasted.

He pointed to the last girl with short, dirty blonde hair.

"This is Maria DeLuca," Max continued.

And to the last man of the group.

"And finally Kyle Valenti," he concluded.

"Valenti?" the hitchhiker questioned.

Just great, another person making fun of his last name.

"Are you related to a Sheriff Jim Valenti?" he conferred.

"Yeah," Kyle informed, "he's my dad."

It took a moment for Kyle to react to that last bit of information.

"Woah wait a minute," Kyle interjected, "sheriff?"

"Why's that such a surprise?" the hitchhiker questioned.

"He was a sheriff a few years ago," Kyle explained, "but he got fired. He joined the police force again, but the last time we saw him he was only a deputy."

"How do you know him?" asked Michael.

"I was in Roswell about a month ago," he informed the group, "and he gave me a ticket for jaywalking."

The girls giggled at this piece of information.

"I had to pay thirty bucks," he whined.

"He was just being careful," Kyle informed, "he doesn't take too kindly to strangers these last few years."

"Neither do I," He muttered.

"We never got your name," Isabel interrupted.

"Oh," the hitchhiker mumbled, "that's right, I'm Alexander Harris. But just call me Xander."

Chapter 2

TIME: May 8, 2004
PLACE: Cleveland, Ohio

The new Slayer's base of operation had moved across the US, right after the collapse of the Sunnydale Hellmouth. Most of the newly empowered Slayers decided to stay and fight the demons, the vampires, and the forces of darkness.

They were inspired not by the Slayers Buffy and Faith, but by their Watcher Rupert Giles.

They were swayed by his very emotional and inspirational speeches. Every single one of the former potentials took careful notes from everyone of Mr. Giles' lectures.

But this morning the Slayer's new base was in a chaotic panic. They were totally unprepared for the early morning attack, as they ran for cover from the gun fire that was aimed at their direction.

What made it worse was that the more experience Slayers, most of the Slayers that were involved in the collapse of Sunnydale, were tired from the previous nights patrolling.

"Giles!" Buffy screeched.

She ran down the hallways looking for the old Watcher, with Willow, Kennedy, and Dawn following right behind her. They made sure they stayed away from the windows to avoid getting shot.

No one seemed to pay attention to the senior Slayer, as they were to busy keeping themselves alive, there were already a handful of Slayers that were injured, and two that were unlucky and had been the first to die.

Since she saw that no one was willing to help her, she grabbed the closest girl to ask for Giles' whereabouts.

"Have you seen Giles?" Buffy barked.

"He's at the front door," the girl yelled, desperate to run for cover and hide till the chaos was over and order was restored.

But Buffy Summers had unceremoniously dropped the girl and headed in the direction in which the former Librarian was in.

"Let's go," Buffy ordered.


Rupert Giles, at the front door, was fighting off a few soldiers that were camouflaged in all black, who were trying to enter through the front door.

He was holding his own in his fights, until he felt something pierce his neck, he pulled the offending object out to see that it was a dart. He felt a bit light headed before passing out from the drugs that the dart had injected into his body.

Moments later Faith and Robin Wood ran into the room to find several soldiers carrying several unconscious bodies outside, with one of them being her unofficial Watcher, Rupert Giles.

She attacked with a viciousness that only a Slayer had, with Robin following closely behind her. But in her blind rage attack, she failed to notice the guns the soldiers held.

She knocked out two of the intruders before a tranquilizer was fired into her arm, and passed out moments later.

Robin was fired at soon after, taking down a soldier along with him.


Andrew Wells was watching from the 'Monitoring Room', helpless to do anything but watch into the cameras that were spread throughout the mansion, both inside and out. And he was helpless to do anything but wait for the soldiers to come for him as well.

But he would watch until that time came. As well as erasing some of Giles' files and account numbers, no need to let the government know exactly how much money they had.


Giles was being dragged out from the east entrance of the large house, along with Faith, Robin, and several Slayers.


Tara was guarding, as best she could, the north entrance with Amanda, Rona, and five of the newer Slayers.


The west door was being guarded by Roberta, Vi, and another six of the new Slayers to be admitted into the New Watchers Council. Headed by Mr. Giles himself.


And the south entrance was guarded by Chao-Ahn, Dominique, Shannon, and the five newest Slayers that had joined.


Andrew was forced to watch as each girl fell unconscious, one after another, while knocking out a few as they fell.

He watched as Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Kennedy were all shot by darts and fall unconscious.

Moments after the last girl fell, there was a banging at his door. Just as he finished deleting the last file from the hard drive, the soldiers managed to knock the door down and Andrew lost consciousness as he a dart was shot into his chest.


TIME: May 9, 2004
PLACE: Los Angeles, California

This was the safest way to have his meeting with his friends without being spied on. He just hoped that nothing went wrong.

Angel, Champion of Good, Vampire with a Soul, and former Lover of the Slayer Buffy Anne Summers, was in a bad mood tonight.

It had been three days since Spike told him of Wesley's private 'meeting'. Now Angel wanted to warn his friends, and to find out what exactly Wesley was up to.

Charles Gunn, Winifred "Fred" Burkle, and Lorne stood waiting for him to begin.

"Are you sure we're not being watched?" Angel asked.

"I scanned the entire area," Fred assured, "including all of our clothes, just like you asked."

"You're positive?" Angel exclaimed, "'cause I don't want anybody listening in on this conversation. Especially Wesley."

That last comment confused them. Why keep Wesley out of this.

"I called this meeting..." Angel began.

"You call this a meeting?" Gunn interrupted.

Angel glared, silently telling them not to say anything until he was finished, before continuing.

"Like I said," Angel announced, "I called this meeting, to tell you that Wesley is up to something, and I want to know what it is."

Wesley? Gunn, Fred, and Lorne were now more curious as to what Angel was talking about. But Fred was the first to speak.

"Up to something?" Fred questioned, "like what?"

"I don't know," Angel confessed, "but I had Spike follow him. Spike why don't you tell them what you heard."

William the Bloody rolled his eyes at the quickness that Angel just took the spotlight off of himself, and had passed it onto his grand-childe.

"I followed Wes to a small pub across town. He met with a guy, don't know who, just in case you're wonderin'. But they kept talkin' 'bout a bird..."

"Bird?" Fred interrupted.

"Yeah a bird," Spike huffed.

Gunn, Fred, and Lorne were confused.

"A girl," Spike explained.

All three got an 'ohh' look that said that they finally got what he was talking about.

"Anyway," Spike began, "their talkin' about a bir... a girl, the other guy tells the boy scout Wes that someone has this girl held somewhere."

"Okay," Gunn stated, "you don't know the guy. Do you at least know who the girl is, who has her, or where their holding her?"

"Uuhhh," Spike hesitated, "nope."

"So," Gunn debated, "we don't have much to go by."

"Yeah," Spike replied.

"And what exactly do you expect us to do?" Gunn asked.

"I want all of you to keep an eye on Wes whenever you see him," Angel explained, "listen in on his conversations, I want to know where he goes, who he's seeing, who's this guy he's meeting with."

"Alright," Gunn replied, "whatever you say."

"That's it," Angel announced.


TIME: May 10, 2004
PLACE: Austin, Texas

Max Evens and his friends were nice enough to bring him all the way here. Xander taught them how to take care of themselves from vamp attacks, and to be more careful with demons, since there were quite a few demons that were harder to kill than vamps.

Now all he had to do was find a place to spend the night in.

After looking for an hour he found a room in a cheap hotel.

But with a habit that he was unable still finding hard to break, Xander went patrolling for vamps in cemeteries.

Luckily for him there was a nearby cemetery within walking distance from the hotel he was staying at.

It didn't take long, in fact it only took about five minutes, to run into his first vamp of the night.

The vampire in question quickly turned to Xander as he caught his scent. The vamp being a newbie thought it would be an easy kill to quench his hunger.

The vamp ran straight for Xander, intent to kill him quickly, but was knocked off it's feet as Xander sent a straight punch into the demon's face.

"Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moon light?" Xander asked as he stood above the vamp.

The vampire was confused long enough for Xander to stake it.

"Huh," Xander huffed, "wonder where I got that from."

He walked off, continuing on his patrol.


TIME: May 11, 2004
PLACE: Unknown

Buffy woke up with a splitting headache.

"Whoever shot me better be begging on their hands and knees for me not to kill them," Buffy asserted.

"That won't be necessary, Ms. Summers," a voice replied.

Buffy Summers looked up to a face she wished she never wanted to see again.

"Colonel McNamara," Buffy growled, "what do you want?"

"The same thing I've been chasing for the last four years," the Colonel replied, "ADAM."

All of those that weren't there to face off against Maggie Walsh's maniacal creation were clueless to the current conversation.

"And what," Buffy shot back, "you need my help in destroying it?"

"If we needed your help Ms. Summers," McNamara claimed, "we wouldn't have locked up you to begin with."

Buffy glared from behind the bars of her cell, as were the other people that were in their own cells.


TIME: May 12, 2004
PLACE: Los Angeles, California

Angel was having trouble fighting a group of demons. He had taken his friends with him, to follow Wesley, when they ran into these ugly bitches.

The sisterhood of Jhe.

They killed the small group, while taking a few injuries themselves in the process.

But they were surprised when ten soldiers jumped out completely covered from head to toe in black clothing.

They didn't last very long, being tired from their first fight, as the soldiers took the advantage of being well rested for this fight.

They were knocked out by the same darts that put down Buffy and her group.

Angel lost consciousness thinking Wesley had set them up.


TIME: May 13, 2004
PLACE: Austin, Texas

Xander was walking back to his hotel room from another typical night of slaying vamps and other uglies.

He was tired, but he was still aware of the squad of soldiers that were following him to his room.

As he unlocked the door to his room, he entered, slamming the door behind him, and locked it, immediately looking for a way out. He opened the window above his bed, but then snuck into the bathroom, hiding behind the door.

He heard the soldiers knock his door down, and just like the idiots they were, they jumped out the window.

He quietly left the bathroom, and waited until the last soldier made his way to the window. But he never made it out, as Xander rapped an arm around the soldier's neck, and dragged him to the floor.

"What the hell do you want with me?" Xander demanded.

"None of your fucking business," the soldier replied, "asshole."

The soldier reached for his radio to call for help.

"Target..." his voice was cut off as Xander broke his neck.

"Repeat soldier," a voice commanded through the radio, "do you have the target in sight?"

"Answer me soldier," the Commanding Officer that was on the other line was getting angrier.

Xander left the dead body as he made his way out of the hotel. Soon the other officers would be coming back for him, once they knew who was missing from their squad.

What he didn't expect, were the soldiers that were waiting for him as he exited the door.

He fell unconscious seconds after the dart hit his neck.


TIME: May 13, 2004
PLACE: Unknown

Buffy and the others had nothing better to do than to just wait until they knew what was going to happen to them. Something that none of them were happy about.

A number of Slayers being held captive by the military had spelled out something very clearly to all of the prisoners.


And if they were doing experiments on Slayers, demons and vamps were sure to follow. And the reopening of the Initiative.

"At least you'll aren't part of it anymore," Buffy said.

Riley Finn, his wife, Samantha Finn, and their friend, Graham Miller were locked in their cages along side Buffy and her gang.

"Well," Riley began, "they weren't really happy with our untimely resignation when the Colonel told us about his plans."

Buffy was glad that she had these three on her side, but even with her group of Slayers, she still felt like it wasn't enough. Something was coming, bigger than the First.

Or maybe it WAS the First.

All they did in Sunnydale was defeat the First's army of Turok-Hon's, they didn't exactly kill the First itself.

And to top it all off, they had to worry about ADAM as well.

Buffy was cut of from her ugly train of thoughts as soldiers were dragging in six new bodies.

"Angel," Buffy yelled, as she recognized her ex.

"Spike?" Buffy questioned as she saw a familiar looking blonde in his trade mark leather duster.

She wanted to deny it, but she couldn't, as he was right in front of her.

The soldiers dragged the fang gang into their cages right as they started to wake up.

Angel rubbed the back of his neck as he sat up. He kept his eyes closed until he felt the feeling of dizziness pass.

"Buffy," Angel called, "What are you doing here?"

"Same thing we're doing here ya bloody git," Spike interrupted.

"Spike," Buffy called out.

"Buffy," Spike replied.

Angel, and everybody else, quickly tuned out their conversation.

The brooding vampire immediately picked up a scent that he hadn't smelled in almost four years. But it was a scent that was still familiar.

"Doyle?" Angel called out.

Allen Francis Doyle, once the Seer to a great champion known as Angel the vampire with a soul, stepped out of the shadow and into the light, to be seen by all the prisoners.

Chapter 3

TIME: May 13, 2004
PLACE: New Initiative Base

"Angel," Doyle addressed his friend.

"Don't listen to him," Buffy interrupted, "it's the First."

Doyle rolled his eyes at the blonde Slayer.

"No Buffy," Doyle affirmed, "I'm me."

Doyle grabbed onto the bars of his cell to prove his point.

"You're dead," Angel accused, a little hesitantly.

"I was," Doyle explained, "now I'm back."

"What for?" Angel asked.

"To help guide someone," Doyle responded.

"Who?" Angel added.

"He's on his way here," Doyle informed.

"You're not gonna give me a name?" Angel continued his questions.

"Nope," Doyle answered, "you'll see soon enough."

Being locked up all day was driving everyone crazy, especially the Slayers. They had alot of energy stored up, but no way to release it.

Giles and Wesley were the only ones making the best out of it, by trying to find any weak points in the soldiers routines.

While everyone else were too busy making pointless conversation, or useless bickering. Giles kept noticing the glares that Angel would send towards Wesley.

That was another thing that Giles had noticed. The dramatic change of his former co-Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Being fired by the Watcher's Council was probably the best thing that had happened to the younger watcher.

He now had the confidence that he lacked a few years ago when Buffy and Willow were in their senior year in high school.

A few soldiers walked in, carrying a body with them, startling the prisoners in their cells.

A few stares were directed at the unconscious body that was wearing a tie-dye shirt. And the home made leather glove that covered the palm of the unknown man's left hand.

Well, at least, unknown to all except Angel, Spike, and Doyle.

Angel and Spike knew the new guy by his scent. Doyle knew him 'cause he was sent by the Big Guy himself to watch over the kid.

"Xander," Angel and Spike said in unison.

Angel saw the smirk on Doyle's face and knew.

"He's the one isn't he?" Angel asked his friend.

"Yeah," was Doyle's response.

"He's the one what?" Spike jumped in.

"The one that Doyle has to guide," Angel replied.

Either no one was noticing, or they simply didn't care that Buffy Summers was glaring daggers at the unconscious body of Xander Harris.

"What's so special about droopy here?" Spike chuckled.

"What's so special is that he's broken quite a few destinies," Doyle's response had gotten almost every ones attention.

Including that of Giles and Wesley.

"Gather around Uncle Doyle kiddies," Doyle exclaimed, "and I'll tell ya one hell of a bedtime story."

"Everybody has a destiny to fulfill," Doyle began, "and sure, most destinies aren't about somebody saving the world from an apocalypse, but still they have a certain direction in life. All the little people that don't know about the good fight are destined to live normal, borin' lives. Be born, grow up, pop out a few kids, then die. Xander was supposed to be one of those little people."

Doyle paused to see quite a few confused faces.

"Before you ask any questions," Doyle said, before anyone could ask, "let me finish without any interruptions."

A few nodded their heads in acknowledgment.

"Okay then," Doyle began, "let's continue. The Big Guy upstairs had this whole universe planned out since before the beginning of time. And I mean 'HAD', cause ever since Xander found out about Buffy being the Slayer, he's been throwing everything off balance. First he forced Angel to take him to the master's lair, where he revives Buffy with CPR."

'No,' Buffy thought, 'that's not true, it can't be!'

"Buffy gives Angel his moment of complete happiness," Doyle continued, "Angel loses his soul, and kills a few people, before he decides that he wants to kill Buffy herself. Angelus gets his chance when Buffy's put in the hospital with a flu. But Xander again manages to get himself into trouble, by standing up to the Scourge of Europe, and saving the Slayer's life once again."

"Then Angelus has the bright notion of wanting to send the world into Hell," Doyle continued, "by opening a portal via Acathla."

Buffy, Willow, Giles, Spike, and Angel knew all too well about Acathla. But the others didn't.

"I'll give those who don't know what Acathla is a short explanation," Doyle said, "Acathla was a demon that wanted to send this world to Hell a long time ago. But a valiant, 'White Knight' was able to stop it. Stabbed a sword through it's heart, and it turned to stone. If the right person came along, they would be able to pull the sword out of the statue and bring forth Hell on Earth. Angel was that said person."

Many of the Slayers were stunned at this new piece of information.

"But there's one little problem," Doyle informed, "Angel was destined to close Acathla, not open it. Back when Buffy drowned, she was supposed to stay dead, Angel was supposed to really dedicate his life for the good fight, which would have lead him to stop Acathla from opening. Kendra died sooner that she was supposed to, and Faith joined the dark side for a while."

Faith was surprised at what Xander had been able to do. It seemed like his friends would easily forget everything Xander did to help them. They didn't give Xand all the respect that he deserved. She herself thought he was kind of weak, never knowing he had stood up against Angelus, but now she knew, and her opinion on the Xan-man did a 180.

"But that's not all of it," Doyle hinted, "see, when Angel lost his soul, he also changed Giles' destiny."

"And how did he do that?" Giles asked.

"By killing the woman you were supposed to marry," Doyle replied.

Giles was shocked, Jenny...

"Giles had a major destiny to fulfill," Doyle claimed, "and his children would have had one if they were born. His bloodline leading down to his great-great-great-great grandchildren were going to be major contributors to the good fight. But with Jenny dead, and no kids any time soon, Giles' destiny had been cut short, and the gap had to be filled."

Xander had been awake the moment the soldiers had thrown him into his cell, so was well aware of the conversation they were having. He kept very still, so they wouldn't know he was awake. But he picked this moment to get up to show his 'friends' that he was awake.

"Asshole," Buffy yelled at Xander, "what the hell are you doing here?"

"Gee I don't know," Xander said sarcastically, "give me a minute and I'll ask these nice people over here with the big guns why they're holding us prisoners."

Xander pointed at the two guards that were standing guard over them at the double doors, that seemed to be the only entrance/exit, each soldier was armed with an assault rifle.

Xander heard a few of the Slayers giggle.

"Whoa," Doyle interrupted, "can you wait to fight each other until after I tell you what needs to be said?"

"Fine," Buffy conceded, but she didn't stop glaring at Xander.

"Now," Doyle began, "the Big Guy has an interest in the situation. So he's keeping an eye on Xander, making sure to guide him in the right direction. He even has a title for Xander. The Big Guy's calling Xander his 'Dark Champion', cause nobody ever saw him comin'."

"Xander?" Buffy chuckled, she made sure she was looking at him straight in the eye when she degraded him, "he's a nobody."

"He's more of a somebody than you are right now," Doyle shot back.

Everyone saw Buffy's face as it visibly became completely red with anger.

"Why is Xander, all of a sudden a champion?" Angel asked.

"I'll try to tell you as simple as possible," Doyle advised, "ever since the war between good and evil started, Champions have been 'chosen'. So a girl a thousand years from now was already picked to be the Slayer for her generation over a million years ago. But now Buffy messed things up even further, when she made Willow work her mojo on all the potentials, by makin' them Slayers. There are rules to all wars, and in this war, the fighters have already been chosen. It's like playing a game of chess, although this is on a grander scale, both sides start with the same number of pieces. Once a piece is taken out of the game, you can't just put in another piece to take its place, it's against the rules. That means that the Big Guy and the First can't just add in more champions during the middle of the war. They can persuade champions from the other side to cross over, and believe me it's happen before, but they can't pick someone out of a crowd and automatically make them a champion. And since Xander here forced his way into this fight, and it was his choice to join up with the good guys, the Big Guy upstairs was inclined to give him that title."

Everyone was too interested in Doyle's explanation of how special Xander was that they didn't pay attention to Buffy and Willow as they began their own conversation.

"I can do a spell," Willow whispered, "to see what Xander's been up to after he left Sunnydale."

Willow spoke of what had happened after fighting the mayor at graduation.

"How does it work?" Buffy asked.

"Well," Willow began, "basically it should just show us where he's been to, and what he's been doing."

"Alright Willow," Buffy conferred, "do your thing."

Chapter 4

TIME: May 13, 2004 (unknown)
PLACE: N.I.B. (New Initiative Base)

Buffy had to think of a quick way to distract the others while Willow did her spell.

She did the only thing that she was very good at. Other than killing demons, that is.

"What's the matter Xander," Buffy said, "can't take care of yourself, so you decided to mooch off of your friends?"

Willow began her spell, trying as hard as she could to drown out the yelling voices of the others.

Tara stayed quiet, noting the hatred that Buffy held for this Xander guy. In all of the years that she has known the 'Scooby Gang', they have never uttered a word about him.

She was so preoccupied with the argument that was happening before her, that she had failed to notice the magical energies that were gathering around her ex-girlfriend.

Everyone gasped in shock, as a swirl of blue light circled around Willow before it shot out and hit Xander, knocking him unconscious.

"Willow what did you do?" Giles yelled at the redhead.

Willow's mouth was hanging open, surprised at what her magic had done to her once best friend.

"All I did was a spell," Willow tried to explain, "it should have just let us see what he has been doing since he left Sunnydale five years ago."

A large portal slowly grew larger against a wall near Xander, preparing to show dark secrets in Xander's life that he wished no one would ever see.


TIME: May 18, 1999 (night)
PLACE: Outside the remains of Sunnydale High School

"Buffy," Xander stood up as he saw Buffy walking towards him.

'She must be bummed,' Xander thought, 'Angel left just about an hour ago, leaving her and Sunnydale behind for who knows where.'

Giles left to keep Wesley company in the hospital, as well as revel in his pain. Willow left with Oz about ten minutes later, to be alone, and deal on their own with the fact that they survived high school and the fight with the mayor. Cordelia went home to pack for her move to LA.

Xander failed to notice when Buffy threw a punch at him. He fell to the ground, his jaw throbbing in pain, as he looked up into the furious eye's of Buffy.

"You lied to me," Buffy growled.

Xander didn't need to be told what she was talking about. He knew she was talking about the 'kick his ass' lie he told her last year.

"I..." Xander tried to explain himself, but found it too difficult to simply put into words what he did, and why he did it.

"Leave," Buffy told him.

"What?" Xander asked. Not wanting to believe what she was telling him.

"Leave Sunnydale," Buffy repeated, "never come back. If you do, you won't have to worry about demons and vampires, 'cause I'll kill you myself if I ever see you again."

Buffy turned and left Xander laying on the ground.


TIME: May 13, 2004 (unknown)

"Buffy," Giles cried out, "I can't believe you did that to Xander."

Giles wasn't the only one that was surprised that Buffy had threatened Xander's life so long ago.

"Giles, you don't know the entire story," Buffy told her Watcher.

"Then enlighten me," Giles responded.

"Xander lied to me about Willow doing the spell to restore Angel's soul," Buffy told her Watcher.

"And you found it fit to threaten his life over one small lie?" Giles asked.

"He didn't just lie, Giles, he lied to ME," Buffy yelled back.

"Get over yourself Buffy," Dawn said.

"Stay out of this Dawn," Buffy yelled at her sister.


TIME: May 19, 1999 (morning)
PLACE: Sunnydale city limits

This was the first time Xander had been awake this early. It was five o'clock in the morning, and he wanted to leave, not wanting to see if Buffy was bluffing or not. He wasn't gonna take any chances at what might cost him his life. Less than half a day after the defeat of the snake-mayor, Xander left Sunnydale in his Uncle Rory's Chevy Bel-Aire.

Only one problem...

...Where to go?

North or East?

A flip of a coin later, and Xander was on his way East.


Dawn was furious with her sister. She knew that Buffy had a hand in Xander's absence in Sunnydale, along with not hearing any news about how he was doing in the last five years since he left his hometown.


A month had passed since his graduation, and he was in Texas, getting any job he could get and patrolling whenever he could.

The latest vamp he was after kept getting away. He was one lucky son of a bitch.


"Willow," Giles called out as he watched on, "why did it just skip?"

"Well," Willow began, "this spell only shows the events that Xander felt were most important to him. Or else we'd spend five years here seeing every single thing Xander went through. Everything from him sleeping, or eating, taking a shower, to using the restroom."


That damn vamp crossed the border down to Mexico. And Xander had no choice but to follow. It lead him into a small town where it made a mistake of attacking someone. Xander took his chance to attack from behind, and finally dusted the damn bitch.

The man the vampire had attacked was bleeding from his neck wound, and Xander couldn't just let him bleed to death. So he ripped a piece of his shirt off, to put it against the wound, and put pressure on hit to help the bleeding to stop.


The gang watched as Xander took the man to the closest hospital, which was only a few blocks away. Xander was told to wait in the waiting room, just like everyone else, while they took care of the man he had just saved.


Xander had been in the waiting room for a few hours now. He was about to give up and leave when a doctor walked in and signaled that he wanted to talk with him.

"Were you the one that brought in that man with the neck wound?" the doctor asked.

"Yes that was me," Xander replied.

"Can you tell me what did that to him?" the doctor inquired.

Xander thought for a moment, a part of him wanted to tell the man the truth, the other part was telling him that the doc would only laugh in his face if he said that it was a vampire that caused the neck wound.

"It was some kind of rabid animal," Xander replied, "it was too dark, I couldn't see exactly what it was."

"This hospital has a policy to only let relatives visit our patients," the doctor said, "the but man was insistent to thank you for saving his life. So if you'll follow me, I'll take you to his room."

The doc lead Xander to the room of the stranger he had saved from the vamp.

"He won't be able to talk because of the wound on his neck," the doctor informed Xander, "so he will be writing down what he wants to say onto a notepad."

They entered the hospital room, the stranger that Xander had saved was laying down in the hospital bed.

Xander walked up to the bed as the man started writing on the notepad.

*Thank you for saving my life*

"You're welcome," Xander said, after reading the note.

*What is your name?*

"I'm Xander," the young Californian said.


"With an X," Xander corrected the man.


"Yeah," Xander nodded.

*What kind of strange name is Xander?*

"It's short for Alexander," Xander said after reading the last note.

*Oh, Alejandro*

" What's Alejandro?" Xander asked.

"It is Spanish for Alexander," the doctor said.

"Oh, okay then," Xander replied.

*My name is Cecil*

"Well, nice to meet you Cecil," Xander said.

Xander didn't personally know this guy, but he was getting these weird vibes from this guy. He didn't know whether if they were good or bad vibes, just weird ones.

"I'm sorry to cut this short," the doc interrupted, "but the patient needs his rest."

Xander nodded in agreement, muttered a 'good luck', before leaving the hospital.


Buffy glared, as she continued to watch Xander's life post-Graduation/Sunnydale, unfolded for everyone in the prisoner's holding cells to watch.

"Hey look," Tara called out, "it's shifting again."

"Wow," someone, Buffy didn't know who, said, "he let his hair grow."


Xander had spent all his time learning Mexico's customs. Not only their language, but their music, their food, and their lifestyle.

He turned around to see a blue truck barreling down the dirt highway. But it passed him and kept on going, totally ignoring that he was in the blazing heat trying to hitch a ride. With nothing else to do, Xander kept walking. He carried his guitar case in one hand and a black jacket in the other, while wearing a white T-shirt and black pants.

Xander looked at the sign next to the road and sighed.

Acuña - 18 miles


Giles was staring in utter horror at what he was seeing.

"I can't believe it," Giles gasped.

"Giles," Dawn got his attention, "that blind guy wasn't talking about Xander when he told us about this guitar fighter, was he?"

"I certainly hope not," Giles replied.

'I certainly hope so,' Wesley thought.

He wasn't there for this meeting between the Sunnydale group and this "blind guy". But if Xander was this so called guitar fighter, the same one that has stories circling around in the demonic community, then he would definitely be of very good use to get Cordelia out of her predicament.


Xander entered a club, greeting the other customers as he made his way to the bar. He sat down on a bar stool, laying his guitar case beneath his stool.

"What do you want to drink?" the bartender asked.

"Refresco," he replied.


"What the hell did he just say?" Buffy yelled.

"He asked for a soda," Roberta replied.

"Translate whenever he doesn't speak English," Buffy barked out an order.


"No hay musica?" Xander asked.


"No music?" Roberta translated, when Buffy turned to glare at her.


"Why?" the bartender asked.

"I'm a mariachi," Xander replied, "I play old classic ballads on an old-fashioned guitar."

"So what?" the bartender questioned.

"I could add a little class to this place," Xander answered, "I work for fairly cheap, I live mostly off tips, and I can guarantee bringing in more customers."

"Tell me," the bartender said, "why would I need one little guitar player when I've already got a full band?"

Xander lifted an eyebrow at the bartender, 'what band?' Xander thought.

The bartender motioned to a young man sitting near a small draped table.

The young man removed the drape to reveal a keyboard. He put on a mariachi hat, dipped his fingers in a shot glass and rubs his fingers together, to warm up for his big show. The young man hits a few switches to turn on the keyboard. He taps a switch and the keyboard blares out an accordion beat. He presses another switch and a horn section swells to a crescendo and continues playing. He adds in strings and more horns by banging on the keys.

Xander grimaces at the awful sound, but the bartender seemed to enjoy it.

The young man finished his song, and sat back down.

"There you see?" the bartender nodded with satisfaction, "either I can pay one guy to sound like a full mariachi band...

Xander picked up his guitar and paid for his drink.

"... or I could spend the same money and only get one little guitar player... understand?"

"Thanks anyway," Xander said as he walked away.

"You want to earn a living?" the bartender asked, "get a real musical instrument."

Xander left the bar, and after looking up and down the street, he decides to head south.

Xander soon found another bar, Domino's Bar, and enters. He sees a few bar bums nursing their jaws, he sits next to them and ordered a drink. A female bartender served him his drink.

"Can I talk to the owner?" Xander asked.

"You're looking at her," the bartender replied.

"I'm looking for work as a mariachi," Xander said.

"I don't have the money to pay you," she told Xander.

Xander doubted she was telling the truth, as he looked around the classy joint. But seeing so few customers, maybe she was telling the truth.

"How can a girl like you take care of herself in a town like this?" Xander asked.

She answered by stuffing a gun barrel forcefully into his mouth.

Xander rubbed his now sore jaw, paid for his drink and left. He could here the other guys laughing as walked away.

Xander entered a rundown lobby of a motel. The old clerk at the counter was reading his newspaper. He saw a pit bull laying by the counter.

"Pit bull?" Xander asked the old clerk.

"Yeah, pit bull," the old clerk told him.

"I need a cheap room for a week," Xander said, "and I'll pay you in a few days, after I've found some work."

"Yeah later," the old clerk didn't pay much attention as he continued reading his newspaper.

"Thank you," Xander said as the old man gave him a key.

As Xander walked away to find his room, the old man called out to him.

"Uh, excuse me señor?" the old clerk said, "I forgot, I need a small deposit."

Xander stopped, turned around, and walked slowly back to the old man.

"You can trust me," Xander told the old man.

"I am very sorry, señor," the old man said, "but... how much can you spare?"

"I've only got a few pesos," Xander said, pulling out his wallet to show the man, "I plan on finding work in town."

Before Xander could put away his wallet, the old man snatched the rest of his money away from him.

"Oh, that's enough for now, sir," the old clerk said, "thank you and enjoy your stay."

Xander could only watch as the old man put his money into the register and slam it shut. The old man himself continued reading his newspaper. Somewhat confused, Xander pockets his now empty wallet and turned to find his room.

Xander walked up a flight of stairs, and was able to find his room. He opened the door, tossed his guitar onto the bed, and hung his jacket in the closet. He glanced above the bed to find a plaque bearing a mace and two crossed swords.

Xander walked into the bathroom to check out the shower and washed his face in the sink. He left the bathroom and sat down on the bed. A few seconds later he dropped back and laid there for a minute, before kicking the door shut, and trying to go to sleep.


"Why is this so important to him?" Buffy asked. She thought it was all pointless, since nothing very interesting was happening.

Giles himself was thinking along the same lines. But unlike Buffy, he was paying attention to every detail, to understand better what Xander had gone through by himself.


Xander bolted up in bed, sweating a little. From his... nightmare? He didn't know for sure, since it was too weird for words. Something about a boy, a ball, a truck, and a deserted town. Weird.

Xander didn't know what the hell was going on when he heard shots being fired. But when he heard the a man's voice telling the gunmen his room number, he ran into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Xander rushed out of the bathroom and behind the front door just as the gunmen kicked the door open.

The men hear the shower, and one motions the others to keep the noise down, before they rush into the bathroom and started blasting. Xander ran out of the room, jumping over the rail to the courtyard in front of the old clerk.

"Cuidado, viejo," Xander said, before heading into the lobby.


"What did he say?" Buffy asked. Irritated that Xander kept changing languages.

"Be careful, old man," Roberta translated.


Xander tossed the key into a cubby hole behind the counter, then he jumped over, and started banging on the keys of the register to get it open. Unable to get it open, Xander jumps back over the counter, and the register opened when he landed on the other side. Xander thought for a moment, whether or not to get the money, but ran out instead when he heard the gunmen running his way.

Running outside, Xander looked around for a moment, and found his escape. He jumped on top of a truck, and timing it just right, Xander dove into the bed of a passing truck.

As the truck turned at a corner the driver slammed on the breaks. Xander heard the driver get out of the truck, and saw when the driver pulled out a gun, telling him to get out of his truck. Xander was about to keep running, if it wasn't for the fact that he had left something very important back in the hotel room... his guitar and his jacket.

Xander starts back on his way to the hotel, but slowed down as he turned the corner, to find that the gunmen were still looking for him. They each had a gun out, looking for a man dressed in all black. Xander was glad he had left his jacket in the closet, or else he would have been in serious trouble right now.

Xander walked slowly towards the hotel's front door, nodding to everyone as he passed them. A few of the gunmen looked at his suspiciously, but continued searching for a man wearing all black. Xander, once he had reached the door, quickly ducked inside the hotel.

Xander entered the lobby, winked at the old clerk, before heading towards his hotel room.

He rushed into the room, grabbed his jacket, and put it on. Then he grabbed his guitar case from the bed.

Xander hesitated a moment before jumping on the bed in order to get to the plaque on the wall. He grabbed the mace, giving it a few practice swings, before he turned to leave his room. As he got out, he looked down into the courtyard to see the gunmen running towards him. Xander ducked down to hide, but it was too late, the gunmen saw him as he was trying to hide and made their way to the staircase.

Xander ran up another flight of stairs, where he found a balcony that was connected to another building. He tossed his guitar onto the balcony, before jumping over himself, narrowly dodging the bullets that were flying at him as the gunmen tried to kill him.

Xander dashed down the hallway and out onto another balcony. He couldn't see a way down, and on the third floor, he didn't want to risk jumping to the ground and breaking a leg or something. Xander turned to see the bad guys trying to climb over the balcony.

Left with no other choice, Xander ran back down the hallway, and slammed his guitar into the first guy that made it over the balcony. The guy fell over the rail to fall to the ground with a sickening splat. Xander looked down to see the old man walk away from the dead body as if it happened everyday.

"Run now, get sick later," Xander muttered to himself, before running back down the hall.

Xander, back on the balcony, tried to find a way down. He looked back to see the rest of the gunmen running down the hall reloading their guns.

Xander turned back around, looked up, and saw his only escape. He swung the mace over an electric cable above his head, then stood on the balcony rail, placing his guitar between his legs.

He started sliding down the cable just as the bad guys started firing their guns at him. Xander looked down to see a bus stopping in traffic. He let go of the mace, grabbing his guitar, and fell right onto the hood of the bus. Xander jumped onto another car and then again to the street before he continued running.

Xander ran through sidewalks and streets in front of odd shops, jumping over small carts and children and even cars to escape from two of the bad guys that were giving chase. He turned into an alley, trying to lose the guys that were chasing him, but a truck turned a corner to block his way out. The bad guys stick their heads and guns out of the windows and laugh as they aim for him.

Xander, though, already having built up momentum, ran right up the front of the truck just as the guys opened fire. And only succeeded in shooting the two guys that were chasing Xander.

Xander ran up and over the cab, into the bed, and then back down onto the street. He swung his guitar case into the groin of another bad guy, grabs his gun and shoots another bad guy in the arm. Xander turned around to face the first guy and shot him with his own gun in the chest. Getting a firm hold on his case, Xander used it like a battering ram, hitting the wounded guy in the face and knocking him out.

He stumbled through the city streets, and paused against a telephone pole as he gazes at a saloon across the street. Xander stumbled across, almost getting hit by a few cars along the way, and dragged himself into the saloon.


"Xander's definitely shown us one thing," Buffy said as she looked on, "he knows how to get into alot of unwanted trouble."

"Nonetheless," Giles began, "he has shown us that he is not this gun fighter, since he as an actual guitar in his case, and not weapons."

Faith hesitated, on one hand Xand's always tried to be as friendly to her as he could. But on the other, he put Angel's life at risk, and if it weren't for Angel she'd probably still be one of the black hats.


Xander staggered into the bar and washed his face in a fountain by the door. He then made his way to the counter as a man paid for his drinks and left.

"What happened to you, Mariachi? Too much refresco?" the female bartender asked, sarcastically.

"I just killed four guys," Xander replied.

She turned around to face Xander, wondering if he was joking. Xand lifted up a bloody hand, grabbed a napkin, then seems to ask permission with his eyes before wiping his hands clean.

"Is it true?" she asked.

All Xander could was nod in shame.

She reached under the counter, pulled out a gun, and pointed it right at Xander.

"Wait a minute," Xander held his hands in front of himself, "what's your name?"

"Domino," the bartender answered.

"Wait a minute, Domino," Xander pleaded, "it was self-defense."

Domino cocked her pistol.

"I'm new in town," Xander said, desperately, "I don't know everyone!!! I have no friends here... and no enemies."

"Thieves?" Domino asked.

"No," Xander replied, "they were well-dressed men. I checked into the cheapest hotel in town, no money, nothing of value, except this guitar and maybe this coat, which they could have taken when I left my room, but they didn't. They were only interested in killing me."

"So why did you come here?" Domino asked, "you want to get me killed."

"I need a place to stay until I figure this out," Xander answered, "they've got me mixed up with someone else."

"And you've never seen them before?" Domino asked, "Not even in another town?"

"Are you saying they followed me, a mariachi, here?" Xander said "what for?"

"Maybe they hate your music," Domino replied.

Xander stared at her expressionless. She stared back at him.

"Maybe you were singing in another town," Domino said, "they hated your voice, and now they're trying to kill you."

"Are you serious?" Xander questioned.

"Yes," Domino said as seriously as she could, before bursting out in laughter.

"Are you going to help me," Xander told her, "or am I gonna have to die on your porch?"

"I have a room upstairs," Domino said, "my room. Don't touch anything. I'll be up after awhile and we can call a friend of mine."

She finally lowered the gun she was pointing at him. Xander shook her hand.

"Thank you," Xander replied, "I'll never forget this."

He tried to kiss her hand, but she slides it away, and slapped him.

"This way," Domino said to Xander.

He followed her to a door revealing an unlit staircase. When he entered, the darkness swallowing him as she shut the door behind him.

Xander entered a roomy, luxurious apartment above the bar. He saw a porcelain tub in the center of the room. Xander placed his guitar on the floor as he made a bee line for the tub. He took off his jacket, dropped it on the floor, and climbed into the tub. He really needed to take a bath, all he needed was water.


Giles was still curious as to the identity of this unknown guitar fighter. Since finally knowing for a fact that Xander was not this mysterious man, then who could it be?


Xander lost track of time when he got into the tub filled with water. He was startled when Domino opened the door abruptly. Xander sat up straight, pulling a towel from the floor, and sat frozen waiting for Domino's next move. All she did was laugh and walk to a counter.

"I thought I told you not to touch anything," Domino said, a little too friendly for Xander's taste.

"Sorry," Xander apologized, "I needed to relax. I can..."

"No," Domino interrupted, "it's alright, finish up. Do you want shampoo?"

"Yes, please," Xander sighed.

Domino turned to a counter and her smile faded. Xander kept his eyes on her, as she paused at the counter before turning around, and walked towards him with a bottle of shampoo in hand. She surprised the hell out of him when she pulled a knife up to his throat with one hand while grabbing his hair with the other. The shampoo hit the floor and began to roll away from them.

"Who are you?!" Domino demanded

"I'm a musician," Xander replied.

The shampoo bottle rolled into the guitar case. Domino saw this, and with her foot reached out and pulled the case towards her.

"What do you have in here?" Domino asked, "guns? knives?"

Xander tried to catch his breath, paused before answering her, as if wondering if all this is really happening.

"No," Xander gasped, "my guitar."

Domino slid her foot out of her shoe, and unsnapped one of the latches with her toe.

"We'll see..." Domino warned.

She unsnapped another. The latches snap loud and echo in the quiet room. Xander gasped as she tightened her grip.

"You're very modest, Mariachi..."

Domino gritted her teeth.

"You told me you killed four men, when you really killed seven. Or were they still breathing even after you shot out their hearts?"

The last latch snapped.

Xander was growing a little dizzy from the lack of air he was receiving. With Domino pulling his hair and holding the knife to his throat.

"I'm a mariachi," Xander said, "not a murderer..."

"Aren't you going to watch?" Domino inquired.

She lifted the lid with her foot. It seemed like an eternity before the case fully opened. Domino looks into the case, but Xander didn't. He knew what was inside.

"I told you... I am a musician," Xander said.

Domino sees the white, well-kept classical guitar, and for a moment she almost believes he is telling the truth. She rushed to it, grabbed the guitar and tossed it to Xander. He caught it, choking after she released the blade from his throat. She moved to the other side of the tub and jammed the knife down between his legs. Xander's eyes bug out.

"Play it," Domino ordered.

"W...w...what?" Xander couldn't believe what she was doing.

Domino shoved the knife in deeper and Xander grimaces horribly.

"Play it," Domino repeated, "damnit, play something sweet!!!"

Xander was sweating and his face turned red. He paused for a long time before plucking an odd note. She squints as if she caught him. But he eventually starts picking out a sweet little melody.

Domino was growing impatient.

"SING," she ordered.

Xander starts to sing but chokes on the words. He starts over, singing a well known Spanish song, with his own made up words.

"What is this place?" Xander sang, "that treats me like a murderer? They've all got their heads up their asses... Even this beautiful girl, With a knife to my balls, Should I kiss her or hit her... Or both?"


Faith was laughing her ass off when he started sing.

"What the hell is so funny Faith?" Buffy demanded, glaring at the dark-haired Slayer.

But Faith paid her no attention, as she continued laughing at the predicament Xander was in.


Xander finished his song, bowing and thanking his imaginary audience. Domino smiled, pulling the knife slowly out of the water and wipes it off on her apron.

"You're a mariachi, all right," Domino said, "and a good one."

Xander bowed a solemn thank you. But his eyes were still on the knife she was holding.

"I think this is the best I've ever played," Xander claimed, "you... inspired me."

All Domino did was laugh.

"Hire me," Xander said.

Domino stared at him with a silent 'what?'.

"I'm good," Xander began, "hire me to play in your bar. I'll work mostly from tips. But, I need steady work."

"I couldn't pay you," Domino told him, "I have no money."

"This fancy place and you have no money?" Xander asked.

"It's the truth," Domino replied.

"I'll work for room and board, then," Xander begged, "please, I'm desperate."

Domino thought for a while.

"Will I have to keep a knife at your balls to get you to play like that?" she asked.

Xander smiled at her question.

"Not if you're paying me room and board," he answered, "at least until I find a permanent job."

"You won't find a permanent job in this town," she told him, "but OK."

She got up slowly, and turned to leave. Xander settled back, smiling triumphantly. Suddenly she darted around and slammed the knife between his legs again with a furious look on her face. He bolted up out of his triumphant daze with a look of complete shock. Her furious look was replaced with laughter.

"You're going to need a better sense of humor than that," Domino smiled, "if you're gonna work for me, kid."

She flung her knife aside. It stuck into the wall. She shrugged, smiled a beautiful smile, turned, and went downstairs. Xander settled back down, closing his eyes. The knife slipped out of the wall and clanged to the ground. Xander jumped again, rolled his eyes, and sank under the water.

Chapter 5

Xander was up on stage a few hours later playing his guitar in Domino's Bar. He wanted to keep his promise, by playing for whatever tips he could get from the customers, and for room and board from Domino.


"Damn, boytoy's not bad," Faith said, staring into the portal that was showing Xander's past.

She smirked as several Slayers turned to face her, with their jaws hanging in at her nickname for Xander.


Domino walked by with a trash can. Xander was sitting on a barstool.

"I need to get my money back from that hotel," Xander said, "I'll be right back."

"Are you crazy?" Domino asked, "if you go anywhere with that jacket and that case you could be killed. Leave that stuff here."

Xander got up and was about to get his guitar case from under the stool. But instead, he did as Domino said, he left his guitar under the stool and took off the jacket.

"I never go anywhere without it," Xander said, "take care of it."

Xander left the bar and headed towards the rundown hotel.


"What are we going to do with Xander?" Buffy asked.

"What do you mean?" Giles replied.

"Giles weren't you seeing what he was doing?" Buffy yelled, "he killed people. Human beings, they had SOULS!"

"And?" Giles asked, "might I remind you, that you threatened Robin yourself. That if he ever tried to kill Spike again, that you would let Spike kill him, and not lift a finger to stop it from happening."

"And another thing Buffy?" Riley spoke, "what he's doing is called self-defense. It's just like when you fight demons, if you don't killed them first, then they'll kill you."

"No, it's not the same," Buffy argued, "I don't go around killing humans."

"No, you don't," Riley agreed, "you just let your pet vampires do your dirty work."


Xander stood silently in front of the old clerk as he read his newspaper. He tapped his foot to get the old man's attention. He got what he wanted when the clerk pulled the newspaper aside and was startled to see that he wasn't alone.

The old clerk was scared frozen for a while before he set down his paper and reached for Xander's old room key.

Xander shook his head, pointed to the register, and rubbed his thumb with the first two fingers, silently telling the clerk that he wanted his money back. The Clerk slowly moved over to the register and pressed a few keys trying to open it. But it wouldn't open. The clerk made a gesture like it was stuck or something. But he wasn't able to convince Xander. He tried again and again; each time pretending to get more impatient. Xander glanced down at the Pit Bull, and pointed to the Clerk as if he has an inside joke with the dog. Xander climbed over the counter and stood next to the Clerk. The Clerk thought Xander was a lunatic. He held up a finger as if cueing the Clerk for a demonstration. Xander then leapt over the counter landing firmly back on the other side of the counter.

The register popped open when Xander landed on the other side. He shrugged, smiled, then reached into the register, taking his money out himself. Xander counted the amount he had when he first entered the hotel, but after a brief consideration, he decided to leave the old man a tip.

Xander waved good-bye and walked out.


Giles was pondering on the implications about what Doyle had said. He was supposed to have married Jenny and raise a family. But when Buffy and Angel had consummated their relationship, the consequences had cost him the woman that he loved. The thing that bothered him the most was what did Doyle mean that the 'gap had to be filled'.


Xander was on his way back to Domino's bar. As he crossed the street, to the bar, he noticed a man leaving the saloon with a guitar case. Xander ran into the saloon as fast as he could.

Xander ran inside and checked to see if his case was still where he had left it. He saw Domino come out of the back door from her upstairs room.

"I just saw a guy with a guitar case like mine," Xander said, "it's him they want."

"Did he say anything?" Domino asked her assistant.

"No," he replied, "he just ordered a drink."

"I don't look anything like him..." Xander replied.


'That's him,' Giles thought.


"Look," Domino began, "as long as you don't carry the case around, they'll leave you alone. It's that guy they're after."

Xander put on his coat.

"I better put this upstairs," Xander said.

He grabbed his case and began to walk towards the stairs, but he paused, the case felt different to him. He looked down at it.


"Wow," Andrew commented, "it's just like watching a movie."


Xander shook the case, and put it on the counter as if to open it. But he didn't need to check it. He knew it wasn't his guitar.

"What's wrong?" Domino asked.

Xander looked up at her startled, then ran out of the bar with the case.

Xander ran through the streets in search of the man in black. He bolted around a corner, and not only did he find the man with his guitar case, he also saw the men that had wanted him dead. Xander was on one end, the other guy at the other end, and the gunmen in between the two of them.

The other man turned and saw Xander with his guitar case. One of the gunmen turned to see what the other man was looking at and saw Xander as well.

One of the gunmen whispered something to the other two, all three switched directions, and started after Xander. Xander looked to the other man for help. But the man only tipped an imaginary hat to Xander and walked away.

Xander started running again as the gunmen opened fired on him.


'This guy's pretty good in a fight,' Kennedy thought, 'Willow said he lived in Sunnydale until he was eighteen. He's gotta be good if he was able to survive that hellhole.'


Xander leapt over a few cars and, to his bad luck, ended up in a dead end. He turned around, dropped the case on the ground, and opened it. In it he saw several guns, some ammo, a couple of brass knuckles. He grabbed a small gun, didn't like how it felt, and tossed it back in.

Xander pulled out the MAC-10 and blasted the first guy that turned the corner into the dead end. He picked up the case and ran out into the street, jumping onto a truck and blasting another one of the gunmen from up there. Xander saw the third guy run away.

Xander jumped off the truck and walked through the streets towards the bar. He noticed that people were staring at him as if he was a cold blooded killer. Xander saw a boy bouncing a ball on one of the sidewalks.


Buffy was furious. They were letting Xander get away with murder, and they had the indecency to throw something she said over a year ago in her face because of it.

Even Riley was against her.


Domino dabbed hydrogen peroxide onto a cotton swab, and applying it to the scars on Xander's back. He had his eyes closed while he washed the blood from his face.

"Where were you when he came into the bar?" Xander asked.

"I was on the phone," Domino replied, "talking to a friend that knows what's going on."

"Did you mention me?" Xander asked.

"No," Domino answered, "he told me the man in black is Azul."

"If his name is Azul," Xander said, "why doesn't he wear blue?"

"I don't know," Domino replied, "anyway, he's killing the men of the town drug dealer. The dealer's name is Mauricio. But he's known as Moco."

"And Moco is sending these men to find Azul," Xander said, "so, why do they chase me?"

"They have never seen Azul," Domino replied, "only Moco knows him. My friend said the description Moco gave his men was that he wears black, and carries a guitar case. Sounds like you, no?"

"Couldn't you tell your friend that there are two people like that in his town?" Xander asked, "one is a killer, and one is a mariachi."

"Only special people can talk to Moco," Domino said, "besides, you've killed a few of his men, now. Your best option is to keep out of sight, stop wearing black, and to hide that stupid case until this is all over."


Doyle noticed the change in Buffy. Back when he had first met her, she wasn't so aggressive. Now she felt like she needed to be control of every situation, and give the final decision.

Lucky for them, Willow wasn't blindly following Buffy around, doing everything that the Slayer said.

Doyle looked around and saw several Slayers drooling at the sight of a topless Xander.


Xander laid down on the floor as Domino tossed him a blanket.

"Are you always closed Monday nights?" Xander asked, "or did you close since I can't play my guitar tonight?"

"Mondays are my day off," Domino replied, "want to play a game?"

"Sure," Xander answered.

They were interrupted by the phone ringing. Domino got up to answer it. Xander carelessly pulled his long hair back.

Domino picked up the phone.

"Hello?" Domino said.

Xander tried not to listen in on her conversation. It was even harder to follow, since he could only hear her talking, and had no clue what the person on the other line was saying.

"I can't," Domino replied.


"I don't feel well," Domino said, "I've got to go."


"No," Domino said, "I've got to go."

Domino quickly hung up.

"Boyfriend?" Xander asked.

Domino was in deep thought.

"No..." she replied.

"I can't figure out something," Xander began, "you tell me you're poor. Poor family. Yet you've got this place."

Domino sighed.

"This place is a gift," Domino said.

"From who?" Xander asked.

"From Mauricio," Domino replied.

"From Mauricio?" Xander repeated, "the man trying to kill me?"

"He's not trying to kill you," Domino said, "his men had you confused with Azul."

"Same thing," Xander returned.

"Look," Domino began, "you know how if you want to impress a girl, you send her flowers, candy, jewelry until you win her love?"

"Yeah," Xander replied.

"If one present doesn't work," Domino continued, "you keep sending bigger and better things until you win her or you're broke?"

"Right," Xander said.

"Well, Mauricio sent me flowers," Domino explained, "then jewelry, then he gave me a job at his saloon, then he gave me the whole saloon... etc."

"He's still giving you things?" Xander asked.

"He'll never run out of money," Domino answered.

"And you accept it all?" Xander asked, "what's the last thing he sent you?"

Domino walked over to the counter and picked up a key.

"A motorcycle," Domino said.

Xander laughed.

"He wants me to ride out to his ranch when I've decided to be his," Domino explained, "he thinks he's close to having me."

"Is he?" Xander asked.

Domino paused for a moment.

"He was," Domino replied.

She sat down on the floor next to Xander.

"Not anymore," Domino confessed.

Domino tilted her head up, while Xander leaned down, and they shared a simple kiss. She got up to turn off the lights.

"So, you really are from a poor family," Xander said.

She clicked the light off.

"I remember when I was growing up," Domino replied, "we were so poor, that my brothers and sisters and I all slept on the same blanket stretched out across the floor. We had to sleep in a circle, with our fingers in each other's ears, to keep the bugs from crawling into them."

Domino made her way back to Xander, and laid down on the floor next to him.

"Ay, wey," Xander exclaimed.

Domino laughed.


Many of the girls faces turned a red as they heard the loud moaning that Domino was doing. They couldn't see any detail as to what was going on, but they knew whatever Xander was doing to her, he knew exactly what he was doing and when to do it.

"Xan's definitely learned a few moves since high school," Faith commented.

Robin had a stern look on his face, which Faith immediately saw.

"It was a one time deal," Faith reassured, "no need to be jealous."


Domino walked up to Xander and handed him a wad of money.

Xander looks at the money then looks up at her bewildered.

"Here's a little bit I've saved," Domino said, "I want you to go get a new guitar."

Xander was about to refuse it.

"Take it, stupid," Domino barked, "I'm not saying go by the best one, just a temporary one so you can play again tonight."

Xander stopped and thought for a moment. He looked up at her questioningly, then he shrugs an "OK", grabbed the money and kissed her before jogging out excitedly.

Xander walked down the sidewalk, passing a few shops. He stopped at a window that had a guitar on display. Xander pulled the money that Domino gave him and counted it.

He stopped after he noticed someone's reflection in the window. Xander turned around and saw the last gunmen, that ran away from their earlier fight, right across the street.

The gunman met up with another man. They were standing right behind Xander. Xander pretends to still look at the window. The two gunmen walk past Xander, not taking any notice of him, Xander began walking in the opposite direction.

Xander never noticed that one of the gunmen had stopped and turned around to face him. But just to be cautious, as Xander turned at the corner of the block, he tried to look for a place to hide.

Spotting a truck, Xander casually climbed inside, and hid in the back. Xander felt the truck move, and stayed as quite as possible.

Xander was searching for a weapon, when he felt the truck come to a stop. He rolled to the side and gently lifted his head. Xander saw the two gunmen walking right towards him. He turned in time to see the driver slam the butt of a rifle into his face.

Xander fell back into truck, blood trickling from his head. He tried to get up, but the driver climbed into the truck and slammed the rifle down into Xander's face hard, knocking him unconscious.


Giles knew now who the guitar fighter was. But by the looks of him, he was most likely a person who didn't get along with others, would do whatever he wanted to do, and was not one to take too kindly to be told what to do.


Xander woke up in a small holding cell, a guard on the other side. He easily found a way to escape by knocking out the guard and taking the key to his cell. Xander grabbed the guard's assault rifle and turned a corner. Two other men grab him. Xander slammed the butt of the rifle into one guard, knocking the wind and teeth out of him, then he kicked down and broke the shin bone of the other guy who screamed out in pain. Xander silenced him by a single punch to his throat. The guy hit the ground hard, and Xander wastes no time to smash the guy with the assault rifle.

Xander climbed up a wall, trying to escape as quietly as he could. He saw two more men running towards him, Xander aimed his assault rifle at a blue Chevy parked nearby. He fired at the truck until it exploded.

Xander jumped down from the wall, and landed right in front of the driver that had knocked him out cold. Xand forced the driver at gun point to drive him back to the saloon. He also took the man's money.

Xander crouched in the passenger seat as a truck passed them, keeping the gun pointed at the driver. He got back up after the truck passed.

"Stop here," Xander ordered.

The man stopped the truck and Xander got out. He motioned for him to leave, the gun still aimed at the man's head. Xander watched him leave, then dashed around the corner to the saloon.

"Domino," Xander yelled, as he ran into the bar, "we're leaving!!! Right now!!!"

Domino's assistant rushed over to Xander.

"She's gone," the assistant said.

"Where is she?" Xander asked.

"Looking for you," the assistant replied.

Xander was about to race upstairs, when the assistant spoke again.

"She gave the case back to that guy," the assistant said, "she left with him to find you."

Xander tried to make sense of it all for a minute before grabbing the gun from under the counter and rushing upstairs.

Xander grabbed the key to the motorcycle and ran out. Xander started the motorcycle and barreled down the road as fast as he could back to the ranch he had escaped from.


"Why did Xander grab the gun?" Buffy asked.

But no one seemed to want to answer her question.

Angel stared at the Sunnydale Gang. Mainly at Willow, Buffy, and Giles. They had been through alot, and had changed because of the danger they put themselves in for eight years.

And he still couldn't believe that Buffy had anything that resembled a relationship with Spike. He was rude, obnoxious, and a really bad dresser.


Xander rode in through the semi-open gate, stopping close to two dead bodies that were lying on the ground. He dismounted the bike, ran over to Domino, and held her close to him.

"So," Moco began, "you're the little mariachi that came to town, killed my men, and stole my girl."

Xander slowly lifted his eyes up to see Moco.

"You are very talented," Moco complimented.

Xander slowly stood, keeping his hands up, to show that he was surrendering.

"I bet you play the guitarra real well, huh?" Moco asked.

Xander just stood and said nothing.

Moco raised his gun and pointed it at Xander.

"Not anymore," Moco said, the fired one shot into Xander's left hand.

Xander grimaced, crumbling to the floor, in pain. He kept a tight grip on his hand. When he finally opened his hand to see the damage, he was able to see the ground from the hole in his hand.

"Now get the hell off my property and take your hand with you," Moco yelled.

Moco laughed and looked at his men for support, but no one else was laughing.

Xander tried to stand, but fell back down. He tried again, as he grabbed the gun that he hid with his good hand, and shot Moco in the chest.

Moco hit the ground hard and gasped for air.

Moco's men gathered around him. One of the men crouched down to check Moco's pulse. He was dead. The man stroked a match across Moco's face and lit a cigarette. He turned and walked away. The others followed.

Xander wrapped a tourniquet on his arm, and kissed Domino goodbye. He walked over to Azul's case and opened it, seeing the weapons inside, Xander decided to ride off with it.


"Now I understand," Giles said out loud.

"Understand what?" Buffy asked.

"The sudden change this gun fighter went through," Giles replied, "four years ago the man they call 'El Mariachi' went from working with drug dealers, to killing them. It was because they were two different people. The man that was lying dead next to the woman, was the original gun fighter. Xander took his guitar case and used the weapons against drug dealers that were once dependent on them to solve their problems."


Xander looked back at the town behind him, then placed his hands on the motorcycle to drive off. He wore a metal brace on his left hand.

Xander rode into the sunset road. He drove past the sign he saw just a few days ago: "ACUÑA 18 miles".


Once the spell broke, Xander slowly woke up.

Angel, Faith, Giles, and Dawn were stunned when Xander didn't seem to put up any kind of fight as to Willow and Buffy's actions.

Xander felt hollow. He had relived one of the most horrible memories of his past. As well as the heartache that followed, knowing he was powerless to save the life of the woman he loved.

'He has given up,' Giles thought, 'caused not by demons or his enemies, but by the two women that were once his best friends.'

The End