What The Hell(mouth) Happened?

Author: mkcrl120 <mike_curl120[at]hotmail.com>

Disclaimer: All the characters mentioned in this story belong to Joss Whedon or Mutant Enemy or some other people. I own nothing and wrote this just to get it out of my system.

Summary: I'm writing some of these, as I've come up with ideas that I honestly don't know what I'll be doing when the Ultimate series gets that far. In the meantime, these won't go away from my brain unless I do something with them. Warning: It may be a standalone it may be spoilers for something later; only time will tell.

Rating: 15 probably… mainly for language.

Setting: Season 3 - I think you'll recognise when.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Sunnydale High School

'Come on, come on... she's gotta turn up soon,' Xander was leaning on the wall in the quad, eyes racing as he scanned the crowd of students, looking for one particular individual. There was a group of students tossing a football around. Xander pointedly ignored them. 'Where the hell is she?'

"What ya doing?"

Xander turned to face Buffy. "What..? Oh nothing really. Just standing here, waiting... for something to do." He made a show of putting his hands in his pockets.

Buffy turned to face the crowd trying to figure out what he was watching; she dismissed the guys throwing the football around as he would have joined in if he'd wanted to. She was about to ask again, when she came to the realisation that Xander had placed himself so that he had a perfect view of everyone as they arrived within the grounds. "She'll turn up Xan."

"I've left messages everywhere." Xander said sadly, kicking a stone on the ground. "She's not answering my calls, and it doesn't even look like she's going to come to school."

Buffy quickly leaned into him, linking his arm with hers. "I saw her last night." She confessed.

"You did..? What did you say..? What did she say..?" Xander asked eagerly. Any new news had to be better than the current state he was in.

"I tried to reason with her..." Buffy drifted off. "I mean I don't know why, you cou..." At his look, she discontinued that line of conversation. "Not the right time, eh?" She joked. "But... I got interrupted by some vamps... When I'd dealt with them, she'd already gone."

Sighing, Xander thought about it. "Typical Hellmouth... won't even let my friends state the case on my behalf."

"She'll come round... Just give her time." Buffy thought about her own share of heartache. 'Think he's got a point about the Hellmouth being at fault... stupid thing, with it's annoying undead population and it's stupid hell dimensions.' Then she noticed, that Xander had completely frozen.

Worried for a moment, she began to shake the arm she was holding. "Xan... Xan..?" She asked.

Wondering to see what had shaken him up so bad, she quickly glanced in the direction he was facing. There she was, the person he'd been looking for; and she was staring directly back at him, though her expression showed she wasn't impressed. "Go to her..."

Xander quickly disentangled himself from Buffy and strode across the quad.

"Good luck... I'll see you in class." Buffy shouted after him.

By that time Xander had reached his target; who'd started talking to another girl he didn't recognise.

"Cordelia, we have to talk." he said interrupting their conversation.

"Rude much..?" She cattily responded, starting to drag her friend away.

"I was waiting for you. I left messages but you didn't respond." He tried to explain.

"Sure looked like it..." Cordelia gestured over to where Buffy was still standing.

"What..? That..? She was just being a friend..." He began.

"Like Willow was your friend..?" Turning to her friend, "You remember what I told you about Willow."

The other girl eagerly nodded. "Yes, you said that he was havi..."

"Excuse me..." Xander got in the new girl's face, "But this is a private conversation."

Cordelia came to her friend's defense. "Well *we* were in a private conversation, but that didn't seem to stop you."

"Touche." Her friend added.

Xander hesitated, wondering how to get through to her, meanwhile Cordelia was still going strong.

"Go back to your friend... talking of which, tell her she'll be getting the cleaning bill for last night."

"I'm sure it wasn't her fault."

"No. It's never your precious Buffy's fault is it?"

"Or Willow's." Cordelia's friend added.

"Look..." Xander began. "I don't even know who you are... But can you just butt out for a moment."

"*Her* name is Anya." Cordelia informed him. "She's just moved here, and due to the influences of your little group of rejects, she's one of the few people with any style that'll actually talk to me."

"Anya, could you please give us a minute?" Xander used a more tactful approach.

"She doesn't know anybody... don't start on her."

"Okay..." Xander turned around to see if she was still there, she was. "You see that girl over there..." He pointed at Buffy, who saw his action and lifted her hand to point at herself. "That one... her name is Buffy. She'll be more than happy to talk to you, while I speak to Cordy here."

"Don't go anywhere." Cordelia instructed. "He just wants you to meet Buffy, so that your life can go down the toilet too."

"That's not.."

Cordelia ignored him, and continued to explain everything to Anya. "When *she* arrived. That's when I started my downward spiral. Started off, me needing help... *me*. Then I ended up in a situation where I was dating the loser in front of you."

"Must have been severe." Anya added, gesturing at Xander's dress sense.

"Buffy has done some good." Xander defended the Slayer. "The details of which, I can't really explain right now." He drifted off.

"She's the Slayer." Cordelia broadcast.


There was a long pause as Anya's face took on a strange look, but then simply commented. "I'm sure that's nice. I don't really understand what that means."

"Ignore it." Xander quickly dismissed Cordelia's previous comment.

"Ignore him." Cordelia said, dragging her friend off.

Xander was shortly left alone in the middle of the quad, he considered following; only to watch them disappear into the female toilets. Sighing, he reluctantly made his way back to Buffy.

"So... didn't go to well, eh?" She tried, wondering how to cheer her friend up.

"About as well as the voicemail messages." He added.


The girl's toilets.

"I can't believe that guy." Cordelia continued her rant, as she washed her hands. "He cheats on *me*, and he thinks he can make it okay."

"Can't see what you ever saw in him." Anya nodded her agreement.

Sighing, Cordelia paused as she thought it through. "Think it was all the danger they seemed to be in. He was always saving me and others. Pretty hard to ignore when it's rubbed in your face all the time. Think the danger blinded to me to his obvious loser-ness."

"Danger *is* a distracting force." Anya passed her a paper towel to dry her hands.

"I mean... I never had a problem noticing the loser, prior to all the danger."

"It *does* stand out."

"You know who I blame?" Cordelia carried on, not paying any attention to Anya's attempts to join in. "Buffy... there was never as much danger til she turned up; she's like a danger magnet or something."

"There are times when I thought it'd be a much better place if Buffy had never come here."

"Really..?" Anya asked, as if contemplating the possibility.

"*But*.... she has saved my life a few times... gotta give her that. So she *has* done some good. Maybe if Xander had never helped her... maybe the world could be a better place, if Xander hadn't gotten so friendly with the Slayer. Yeah... that's what I wish, that Xande..."

"That Xander what..?" Anya asked practically jumping on the spot.

"What's up with you?"

"Nothing... tell me more about Xander and what you wish..." Anya was getting excited now.

"No... you're beginning to freak me out."

"Tell me." Anya shouted at her.

Cordelia looked shocked, here she was in the girl's toilets alone with yet *another* freak. 'This is just typical of the year I'm having. God, now I beginning to think Buffy might be useful again.' "I think I should go."

"No!!" Anya ordered blocking the way. "I mean, no." she said more calmly.

"Why not..?"

"Because... because... I'm your fairy godmother." Anya tried desperately.

"You're my what..?" Cordelia was in disbelief.

"Fairy Godmother..." Anya annouced proudly. "I'm here to grant you a wish."

"How many..?"

"What..? Just the one..." Cordelia gave her a look. "You're thinking of Genie's. Fairy Godmother's can only grant one."

"You're my Fairy Godmother?" Cordelia tried to get her head around the concept. "Well, I suppose that does explain the hair."

Anya's hand automatically went up to check her hair... glaring at Cordelia, she changed topic. "You thought there were only bad demons..? Surely you should have realised, that all the good fairytales also had their own basis in truth."

"I live on a Hellmouth, how come you haven't arrived before?"

"I can only come in times of great peril."

"With my current social status that would explain everything."

"So what's the wish?" Anya asked, pleased with herself.

"Well... I can't get rid of Xander or Buffy... they've both saved my life at various times. So *that* would be bad. Wilow is a possibility. But knowing my luck, she's probably saved my life too... or at least helped to."

Anya tapped her feet impatiently.

"I suppose I could wish that... naaah, that'd probably result in me dying too. Been too many close calls, if I didn't hang around with them, I suppose I could end up dead that way. Hmmm... think I'm getting the hang of this now."

Anya made an over-acted gesture of looking at a non-existant watch.

"Ohh... I know...." Cordelia began.

Anya listened intently.

"I wish... I wish that Willow and Xander had never felt attracted to one another."

Cordelia watched as Any shrugged. "Eh..? Oh well." Anya's face began to transform. It looked like all the skin had become red-raw. A mixture of either the skin had been stripped off, or the girl was suffering from severe burns. Veins were visible on her neck and face too. "Done." was all she said.

The picture faded to white.

Chapter 2

The picture fades from white, back to the familiar settings of the girl's bathroom.

Cordelia opened her eyes. The brightness of the light had caused her to involuntarily close them. Blinking, she tried to focus on the girl in front of her. "What the hell happened to your face?" she asked.

"What..?" The familiar voice responded. As her vision cleared, Cordy watched as the girl slowly came into focus. It was Harmony, and she was now checking her face in the mirror. "Why... what did you see?"

"Nothing..." Cordelia responded looking around. These were her regular friends. Harmony, Amber and the others. She couldn't see any sign of Anya any more. "Where's Anya..?" she asked the others.


"Girl... bout this tall." Cordy raised her hand to just over shoulder level. "Long brown hair, sometimes has a scary face."

"Never heard of her."

'Hmmm.' Cordy thought, trying to work it all out. 'Of course, if Willow and Xander don't cheat with each other, then my social standing's still intact. I'm just a girl with a boyfriend who needs a lot of work, instead of the girl who got dumped by the loser. Yay... Fairy Godmother.' Cordy promised herself, that if she saw the Anya girl walking around the school, she'd quickly help her climb her way up the social ladder.

"So..." Cordy began, as she led them out of the bathroom. "What's next..?"

"Dodgeball." Harmony answered.

Cordy was confused, she gestured as they passed by the qaud, "It's sunny... why we stuck in?"

"Mrs Robbins has been missing for the past week. No replacement PE teacher yet... so we're all stuck in one group."

"Vampire attack?" Cordy asked.

"What a what?" Amber queried.

"Never mind." Cordy dismissed her previous comment, 'Note to self. Remember which people know what.'

"Vampires..?" Harmony, however, was not willing to let it drop so quickly.

"What..?" A voice called from behind them.

Cordy turned, to see Faith following them into the changing rooms. "What are you doing here?"

"Shut up..." Faith strode over to face Harmony. "Exactly what do you know about vampires?"

Harmony, looked panicy. But Cordy soon came to her defense. Dragging Faith away, she quickly whispered. "I didn't tell her anything I swear."

"*You* didn't tell her anything?" Faith asked, becoming quite menacing.

"Chill Slayer... I'm not stupid enough to get in your face. Look, the sheep don't know anything, okay... just chill out a little will you?"

Faith grabbed Cordelia by the arm, and pushed her back against one of the lockers, "What did you call me?"

"Okay... your name is Faith. We have no problem here." Cordelia said, shrugging off her grasp.

Faith looked like she was about to retaliate further, when the room started to fill with other students. Faith gave her one last glare and then moved to a different section of the room.

Amber was the first to comment. "I can't believe you went up against her... the girl's a psycho."

"Jeez. Thanks Cordy. I thought I was dead then." Harmony added.

"She wouldn't start anything on school grounds anyway." Cordy stated confidently.

Amber looked confused, "She did last week."

"She turn up here often then?" Cordy thought about it.

"Eh?" Harmony asked. "Did you bang your head against the locker or something? If you wanna report her, I'll back you up."

"Me too." Amber added.

'Report her,' Cordy thought. Turning round she noticed for the first time, that Faith had started to get changed. 'She *goes* this school?'

Cordy shrugged it off, and begun to get changed.

Soon, everyone else was changed and they all headed into the gym, where the boys were already waiting.

'Hmmm hmmmm.' Cordy thought, as she looked over at where Xander was talking to some of the other guys. 'He's just as I remember him... hadn't really compared his body to others before. Well, not since he was on the swimming team anyway. Better be careful no other girls notice. Not so much the geek anymore. If only his dress sense could be improved.'

Cordy listened to the coach explaining the rules. 'Why does he do this? We play dodgeball every single time we have a problem...' She ignored him as he seperated the teams out. Not really paying attention, she almost missed when her name got called out. Realising she wasn't sure which side she was supposed to be on, she took a quick look. The girl who'd been called in front of her, was still heading to the left. She joined the team on the right and hoped she was correct.

No-one said anything so she assumed she was. Harmony got sent to the other side, and Amber joined Cordy's team.

Faith was also sent to Cordy's side. A quick check revealed that Buffy and Willow were on the other. "Slayer on each side. That's fair at least." She thought aloud.

"What..?" Amber asked from beside her.

"Never mind." Cordelia quickly responded. 'Dammit, I have got to stop doing that. Guess I got too used to hanging out with them lot. It *is* difficult if the people around you don't know the truth.'

Faith sent her a glare as she passed by. Cordelia didn't like the way Faith was staring directly at Harmony. 'Oh God. I hope she doesn't pick on her for the sake of it.' That was the first time Cordelia had realised she was actively wanting to help these people, the same people who'd been making fun of her over the last few days. 'But that was a different reality.' Cordelia thought to herself.

Now the coach started to call out the boys names.

Cordy waited til it reached Harris. Xander had been called onto her team. Finally she thought, finally she'd get to speak to him.

Excusing herself from Amber, Cordelia quickly headed over to him. Amber looked a little confused.

Stopping directly in front of him, she smiled. He smiled back.

"What's up?" she asked, trying to draw his attention to her shapely legs. 'He always liked my legs.'

He glanced down, but quickly reverted his attention to her eyes and then checked elsewhere. "What's up with you, C?" he asked.

"Not talking to me..?" She asked confused.

Now Xander seemed genuinely lost. "Any reason why I should?"

"I thought you might want to."

Xander glanced away again and then returned his attention to her, "Again, I have to ask. Why?"

'Has something else gone wrong? Did we break up again?' Confused to what was going on, Cordy waited til the coach's attention was on one of the guys still waiting to be assigned a team, and then made her move to give him a quick kiss.

Xander didn't get chance to respond. The first he seemed aware of it, was when their lips touched. Backing off, he quickly asked shocked. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Again, he glanced elsewhere this time shrugging in confusion. Cordelia followed his line of vision... which led directly to where Buffy and Willow were standing mouths open.

Willow looked extremely shocked, but Buffy's attention quickly glanced elsewhere; staring at something else and briefly nodding once.

"You cheated on me..? With *her*..? Again..?"

"Hold it... cheated on you? I..." Xander looked lost.

"But you can't like her... you can't... that's impossible."

"Well I do..."

"How long has this been going on?" Cordelia asked, forgetting for a moment, that they didn't know she was from another reality.

"How long has what been going on? Me and her... or you and this crazy delusion of yours?"

"You and, as you so nicely put it, *her*..."

"Just over two years now... Cor, are you okay." Xander asked, genuinely concerned now. Moving to put a reassuring hand on her arm.

Cordelia automatically relaxed into the touch, putting her hand on his. It was completely the wrong thing to do.

She was forcibly turned around by a powerful grip. As the movement finished, she found herself face to face with the person she least wanted to see right now. Faith.

"Look bitch," Faith began. "B's been good to me, so I don't take kindly to skanks like you hitting on her boytoy... understand?"

"B.... Buffy..?" Cordelia began.

"Yeah Buffy... His *girlfriend*." Faith informed her.

Cordelia turned to face Xander, who just nodded his agreement. "You anndd... and Buffy..? And not you and Willow?" She asked reluctantly.

"Me and Willow..?" Xander asked. "What about me and Willow?"

"Youuu..." Cordelia began, trying to force herself to remain strong in front of everyone.

"Faith." Xander said, "I think you better leave it... something weird's going on..?"

Faith stared directly at him, checking his face to see any sign of betrayal towards her friend. Satisfied she backed away, but not too far.

The coach had finally finished reading out all the names. He came over to see what the commotion had been, but innocent looks from both Xander and Faith caused him to pause in his path. The fact that Cordelia seemed upset, but was being comforted by Xander also confused him. Unsure what to do, he let them deal with the issue and attempted to calm the rest of the group down.

"So what was all that about, Cor?" Xander asked in a more gentle tone, while Cordelia composed herself.

"You're with Buffy?" Xander nodded. "So me and you were never together?" Again he nodded, this time confusion was visible on his face. "And therefore you never cheated on me with Willow?"

He shook his head, "No... I didn't."

"Did you cheat on Buffy with Willow?" She asked, a mixture of trying to add some amusement to the proceedings, and making herself feel better.

"No..." He answered truthfully, but this time there was humour in his tone. "Willow's *just* one of my best friends."

"What's all this about you and Willow?" A deep voice entered the conversation from behind Cordelia. "You been hitting on my girl, Xan?" A familiar voice said, with a small laugh.

Cordelia turned around to face the newcomer. For a split second, she thought she was imagining it. All she managed to say was, "Jesse?"

Chapter 3

Later that day
Sunnydale High Library

"Okay... so what *did* happen?" Giles asked for what seemed like the thousandth time.

"C happened." Faith informed him.

Giles sighed, and begun to polish his glasses, "You've told me that, what you haven't said is what that means?"

Jesse smiled and high fived Faith. "Two words... definitely today's winner."

Ignoring them, he turned to Willow who was perched on Jesse's lap. "Maybe you'd like to explain this to me further."

Willow began to babble under the pressure. "We don't know any more than Faith does. Cordelia turned up, started muttering incomprehensibly and Xander's gone to look after her."

"So we don't know for certain that I need to be involved in any way." Giles mood had shifted from exasperation to relief. He'd never particularly liked putting up with that Cordelia girl anyway. 'Always seemed a bit ungrateful, for someone needing to be rescued a lot of the time.'

"But she does have her good points." Jesse muttered. Willow arched her eyebrows at him. "I do not have a crush on Cordelia!"

Faith smiled, climbing onto the desk in front of him, she joined in the teasing. "Is it her big titties, Jess? Are they the *points*you were referring to." Faith thrust her own cleavage out to emphasis the point.

"Ohhh... someone's getting excited." Willow mocked from her place on his lap. "Dunno if it was the thought of Cordelia, or your own magnificent pair though Faith."

"I am not." Jesse defended himself.

"Probably yours Faith." Willow teased.

"What these little things?" Faith put her hands to her own breasts, and stroked them through her t-shirt sensually.

Jesse tried to look away. Willow pulled his head back so they were still in sight. "Well, if *you're* not interested..." Willow leaned in til her face was mere inches from Faith's, her hands creeping up Faith's sides.

Jesse began to redden, and had to re-arrange Willow's position on his lap. Faith and Willow stopped inches apart and broke down laughing. Willow turning slightly resting her head on Faith's shoulder while she wiped tears from her eyes.

"Men are so easy." She commented.

"I know..." Faith agreed. "That's why we like them."

Now that Willow had moved enough to all Jesse to re-adjust his trousers, he quickly did so. "I preferred you when you were *shy*," He hissed at her, through his embarassment. "Before you met *her*."

"No you don't... if I was still shy, then you'd never get me to do that thing you like."

"Ohhh... dirt... dish it." Faith immediately leapt onto the new topic.

"You already know." Willow whispered loud enough so that Jesse could hear.

"You told *her*..?" Jesse shouted, as Willow began to start laughing again.

"Hey... what's wrong with telling me?" Faith pouted. "If she didn't tell me stuff... then who else would she be trying to persuade to join in that birthday thing you wanted to do..." she trailed off seductively.

"Wh.. sh... her.... yo...." Jesse spluttered.

"Good guess." Willow smirked as she lay on the desk giggling uncontrollably.

"You mean you didn't tell..."

"Men always ask for something along those lines stud..." Faith smiled at him. "Don't worry about it."

Jesse put his head face down on the table, "I really hate you two at times."

Willow smiled and began stroking the back of his neck hairs with her hands, "Ahh... poor Jesse doesn't like it when we play with him?"

"But if we don't get to play with him... then we'll have to play with each other... and we won't let him watch." Faith purred.

Jesse did his best to ignore them, as two pairs of hands began stroking his neck and shoulders. Both still giggling slightly.

Xander and Buffy walked Cordelia into the library. "This is Giles, he may be able to help you."

"Were you even listening to me..? I know who Giles is." Cordelia snapped.

"Okay chill... firstly we have to persuade him that this *is* a hellmouthy deal."

However, Giles was halfway to them already. "Thank God you've arrived... do we need to do research..? Is there any research we can make them do..?"

"Okay... that might not be the Giles I know..." Cordelia conceded.

"Doesn't sound like ours either..." Buffy agreed, "What's up with you?"

Giles just pointed towards where the others were sitting at the large table.

"And..?" Xander asked.

"They won't leave me alone." Jesse shouted without raising his head.

"Ahhhh..." Xander said understandably. "I think the trick is to call their bluff." He offered back as advice.

"You so did *not* call our bluff." Buffy corrected him.

Faith left Jesse alone and strode over. "Seconded... you ran like a scared little kiddie."

"*You* started to take your clothes off." Xander pointed at Faith, then spinning round to point at Buffy. "And *you* were helping her."

"Most men would have died to be in that position." Faith flirted, pulling her t-shirt slightly away from her body.

"Most men don't have girlfriends, who can actually kill them..." He tried to reason, refusing to look at the flesh being slowly revealed.

"Don't be shy Xan... you've seen them before." Buffy urged him forward.

Xander tried to knock her hands away.

"You what?" Jesse shouted from his position on the desk, his head was now resting on Willow's lap as she continued to run her fingers through his hair.

"Oh yeah... peeping tom here's seen all of me." Faith seemed please to call even more embarrassment. Giles gave up and went to sit in his office.

"You never told me that." Both Jesse and Willow called at the same time.

"It was an accident." Xander tried.

"He walked in on her in the shower." Buffy informed everyone.

"I thought it was you."

"So he says eh Buff?" Faith winked in Buffy's direction. Buffy laughed.

"It was not funny."

"Oh come on... even my mom thought it was funny."

"You told your mother..?" Xander almost choked.

"Oh god yes.." Faith went on. "Joyce knows all that goes on in our house, doesn't she B?"

"Why did you think she kept announcing when she was going in the shower when you were in the house?"

"I thought she was telling everyone."

"Faith broke down each time she did it."

"I thought it was an 'in' joke. I didn't know your mom was in on the 'in' joke... oh how am I gonna face her now."

"You've faced her since."

"But that was bef... wait she knows I walked in on Faith in the shower... and she knows I was *intending* to walk in on Buffy..?"

Both girls nodded. Xander shook his head, and walked to the table, "Any room there, Jess?"

"Help yourself."

Xander placed his head on the table next to where Jesse was sitting. "Just accept that all three of them are pure evil man... it's what I've learned to do."

"Hey!!!" The girls shouted at once.

Cordelia watched this exchange with disbelief. "Since when are Xander and Jesse studs?"

"Just cos Larry turned out to be gay." Faith said to her.

"What's that go to do wi..." Realisation dawned. "*I* dated Larry?"

Giles returned from the other room. "Can we please get down to the business in hand." When no further comments were forthcoming he continued. "Right... Miss Chase, what is the exact nature of your amnesia?"

"My what?"

"Amnesia... Memory loss... they said you were behaving strangely, and I've just heard you state that you don't remember dating Larry..." Turning to Xander, he muttered quietly "Larry was the one we saved from the..?"

Xander nodded at the unfinished question.

"Now, even I remember the two of you out... you were the victims of a possible mugging, nothing was taken so..."

"You mean vampire attack right?"

Giles coughed nervously, "Miss Chase... I'm not sure what caused your apparent head injury, but we may have to add delusions to th..."

"Buffy is a Vampire Slayer, so's Faith... you're their watcher, or at least Buffy's. So far you've stopped the Master from opening the Hellmouth, and stopped Angelus from opening Acathla... right..? Or did I imagine all *that* too?" She added sarcastically.

"Well some bits weren't exactly corr.."

Cordelia started ticking points off on her fingers. "Previous Slayer was called Kendra. You've managed to blow up a demon called the Judge. Buffy's mom dated a robot. Oz is a werewolf. Angel is a vampire. Xander almost became a fish... anything I'm missing here?"

"I almost became a fish?"

"Yes... when the coach person was giving the swimming team...?" At his blind look she continued. "You joined the team to inviltrate what was happening to them."

"Ermmm no... *I* was on the swim team." He said proudly looking at Buffy.

"No you weren't... that other you was." She corrected him. "The one that dated her."

"Oh yeah."

"Excuse me..." Giles interrupted, "Other you?"

"This isn't Cordelia."

"It looks like her... *another* robot?"

Faith looked thoughtful, "I can't believe I slept with a werewolf... would explain why he left town."

Cordy tried to explain. "No, you didn't... Willow did... though I'm not sure if she had slept with him yet."

Jesse sat up, "Hey... you accusing Willow of cheating on me?"

Xander put a restraining hand on his shoulder, "Not you... doofus... the other you."

"What other me?"

"I didn't sleep with Oz... I wouldn't, I mean... I hardly knew him... and what other Jesse could I have cheated on?"

"Can everyone be very quiet!" Giles shouted. "Okay... now... Xander you seem to have the best idea what's going on, explain it to me slowly."

"What we gathered from talking to her. This Cordy... appears to be from an alternate dimension. Seems in *her* dimension, I cheated on her with Willow... so she met this Fairy Godmother... typical hellmouth in action. And made a wish that was supposed to stop me from doing so... instead... she got moved to our dimension."

"Marvelous." Giles said, heading into the stacks to fetch a few books.

"Alternate dimensions. Like they have in Star Trek?" Willow asked, turning to face Jesse.

"Yep... and *you* said they weren't possible." Jesse added. Turning to face Willow, he started to tease her. "Ahh the scientific... You and Giles might be able to beat us hands down with all the mystical mojo stuff, but me and Xander have been sci fi fans since my mom took us to see one of the repeats of the Star Wars film... you *were* invited but you didn't want to go remember..? Let's see who laughs last with this research session."

Giles returned from the stacks with a lot of books. "There *are* a lot of possible demons who do work on the side of light. I've never heard of a Fairy Godmother actually but lets take look at the list of possibles."

Jesse growned, the smirk disappearing from his face. "No no no no... Giles it's alternate dimensions!! We're meant to study partical theory and flux capacitors and stuff... not *more* demon books."

Jesse turned to Cordelia. "Does he make us all read the boring books in your dimension too?"

Chapter 4

'Now that's a difficult question.' Cordelia thought to herself. 'What the hell do I say to that?'

Luckily, Giles had either thought the question was rude or rhetorical; opening some books and handing them around he sat down and began the line of questioning. "So, this Fairy Godmother... can you describe her?"

Cordelia tried to think of any distinguishing features. "Well I guess, she looked like a normal girl." She replied, looking over Giles's shoulder at the book he was reading. As Giles flicked through the pages, she noticed sketches of a variety of creatures on each page.

"Not that helpful." Faith cattily responded. "Normal girl, eh? Whoo big wows."

"Faith," Giles warned her. "So it was either a human with great power, or was a creature that had the ability to take on human form..?"

"I guess."

"Hmmm..." Giles looked deep in thought. He took the book Xander was pretending to read, and passed it down the other end of the table. Giving Xander another from the untouched pile, he instructed them all to double check if any of the creatures had shape changing ability. He glanced at what Jesse was reading and ordered him and Willow to swap books.

"Hey... what's that for?" Jesse whinged.

"I'm not overly familiar with the edition you were reading." Giles said in a tone that suggested that explained everything.

"You saying I'm untrustworthy?"

"The last species you read about, what characteristics did that show that were in common with Miss Chase's description?"

"Ermmmm... pass."

Giles gave him a look. Jesse handed his book to Willow who smiled at him. "It's okay sweetie, I find your lack of concentration endearing."

"Thanks babe. That's good to know..." Jesse paused to ponder the comment. "That *is* good to know, right?"

Xander and Faith both shrugged at him; Xander mouthed, 'Just go with it.' while he did so.

Giles closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.

Cordelia grinned at the antics, "Glad not everything has changed then."

"There have been changes?" Willow asked eagerly.

"Ooohhh... like major parallel universe type changes."

"Like what?" Giles asked.

Xander was the first to respond, "You know like the whole town gets ruled by Biff Tanner, or a robot gets sent back to stop John Connor from being born.... no wait... that didn't actually cause a different universe..."

Jesse added, "That's the other rule of time travel... the time doesn't change... no... the no consequences theo... that's not right, that's Groundhog Day... wait, the time heals itself... the Timeline-Healy rule." Jesse ended proudly.

"And thank you both for the amusing commentary... but I was *actually* asking Miss Chase what the differences were." Giles admonished the pair, while the two Slayers giggled and Willow gently patted Jesse's head.

"We don't know what they are..." Xander informed him.

Faith felt she was missing out on a good old game of wind-up-the-watcher. "Yeah... How are we supposed to guess them? Twenty questions or some shit..?"

"Well we could just wait til she tells us." Giles held his hand out to stop further irrelevant discussion, once confident they would be silent, he used that hand to indicate Cordelia should continue.

Cordelia looked around at everyone's faces, her eyes unable to stop resting on Jesse, reluctantly she began to answer. "Well... Xander and Buffy know the basics; I was with Xander, Buffy was with Angel, Willo..."

"Angel... who is Angel?" Faith asked.

"What do you mean, who is Angel?" Cordelia responded, glad to have changed topic slightly.

"Which words don't you get in that head of yours? Who. Is. Angel?" Faith was beginning to lose her temper with the interluder to their midst. On some levels she knew this wasn't *their* Cordelia, it was obvious by how she was patiently sitting there, and not complaining about being seen with them; but on others, she looked the same, and occasionally recognisable aspects of her personality came out.

"I'd like to know that too." Xander said.

"I'm a bit confused myself... and according to you, it was me that was dating him." Buffy added. "I mean, we only knew one Angel and he mainly hung around with Giles, trying to..." She paused for a few seconds, before remembering that *this* Cordelia knew about the supernatural world. "Well, trying to help us combat evil." She finished with a shrug.

"That's the one." Cordelia quickly responded.

"You sure?" Willow was shocked.

"Tall, dark hair, pale complexion... basically a big souled vampire puppy dog... til he went nasty that is."

"Wait... this Angel was a vampire?" Faith asked.

"You dated a vampire!!!" Xander turned to Buffy... and suddenly started coughing.

"You okay..?" Buffy asked concerned.

Xander managed to bring himself under control, the coughing fit had been caused by him laughing too hard.

Once Buffy realised that, her sympathy was gone. Hitting him in the back reasonably hard, "For your cough... *dear*."

"Sorry Buff... but you dated a vampire."

"You dated Cordelia."

"You strike me down." Xander feigned an injury to his heart.

"I can't believe you picked *Cordelia* over me."

"I *am* here you know."

"You picked a vampire... an actual corpse over me."

"That is a shocker..." Buffy turned to Cordelia. "Okay... cattiness aside... why the hell was I dating a vampire? It doesn't make sense, I mean, even if you had bagged Xander before me... why do I turn to a corpse as the next choice..?"

Faith couldn't resist, "Hey... I've been with some guys I would consider cold and distant... but B... the undead?"

"What do you mean.... I bagged Xander before you?"

"Well I take it Xander wasn't available... I mean you had known him years before I moved here... I did still move here right?"

Willow was quick to confirm her fears, "You must have, she knew who you were seeing remember?"

"Oh yeah."

"Xander followed you around like a puppy... but you only had eyes for Angel."

"See... I still had taste." Xander commented, then quickly turned to Cordelia. "No offence meant."

Buffy was even more confused, "Your boyfriend followed me around and you didn't mind... and I didn't take him off you?"

There was never a chance that Cordelia would ever have admitted her worry about Buffy stealing Xander off her, aloud for anyone to hear, whether they knew her or not. So she quickly sidestepped the subject. "He wasn't my boyfriend at the time..." She said, only stretching the truth lightly.

"Whose was he?"

"No one's... he was quite the loser though."

"See sweetie... it's not my fault I didn't date you... you were a *loser*." Buffy patted him on the arm in mock sympathy.

"You still picked a *corpse* over me... that's a pretty big leap into loserdom itself..." Turning to Cordelia, "And you dated me... so ha to the loser status..."

"It was all the danger and saving people that attracted me to you."


"The danger... you know... you're helping Buffy... *rescuing* people... duh."

"I do that now."

"I never said you didn't."

"But you... the other you... still thinks I'm a loser... hell, you think we're all losers. And we've all saved you at some point." Xander argued their case.

"I'm not her... or I am kinda... I don't know... In my reality you kept getting me involved occasionally, did you do that here? To start with it was mainly when you needed a spare car. And I was always getting paired with Xander." She told the rest of the group.

Jesse was confused. "Another car..? I mean Faith needed a lift once and you helped out... probably cos she had just rescued you and Scott from a vampire attack... but you refused to talk to her again... I normally drive, and Xander's got a car now... and there's always Giles's rustbucket to fall back on."

"Ahhhh..." Cordelia said, realising what had happened, quickly requiring another distraction she headed back to the original topic. "Anyway, Buffy and Angel had this major love fest going on..." At their looks she corrected herself, "*Love Story*... like Fairytale-like love story. A Slayer and her vampire and all that..."

"That's the best thing I've heard in ages..." Faith was prodding Buffy in the ribs. "Ahhhh... did you have a little vampy wampy of you own."

"Shut up."

"So in summary... Xander was a loser and I fell for a vampire."

"Can everyone just stop accepting the fact that I was loser quite so easily."

"Soz hon... actually, how much of a loser did he have to be, for me to choose a corpse?"

Cordy didn't need much time to construct her mental list. "He wore tacky unco-ordinated clothes. Had a stupid sense of humour, always said the wrong thing and rubbed the wrong people up the wrong way."

Xander was about to say something about her being lucky, when he saw the look on her face. "What..?"

"That's pretty much how you were when I met you."

"Jeez thanks babe."

Cordelia turned to Buffy, "Don't worry about him... apart from the danger aspect, I fell for virtually the same person."

Xander turned to Jesse for advice. "I don't know whether to be happy or offended."

Jesse clasped his shoulder in a strong grip. "Think about it... are, or are they not, both total hotties..?"

"Like that... works for me..." Xander thanked him.

"So what about the rest of us?" Willow asked curious. "How else does it differ?"

Cordelia thought about this one some more. "You're dating Oz, and cheating with Xander... Faith doesn't go to school... mine, Xander's and Buffy's love lives I've already mentioned... my old friends no longer talk to me..."

"So who do I get in bizarro world?" Jesse asked.

"So it's mainly superficial things." Giles concluded, ignoring the question.

"Okay... time out..." Faith put her hands into a T shape. "Just to play devil's advocate... how do you know that we aren't all playing a gag on you..? You know, you *actually* being friends with us in your reality."

Cordelia swallowed hard. And stared directly at Jesse. "You did notice how I didn't list what you were doing?" At his nod she continued, "Before I say it, remember this isn't *you* okay..?" She tried as tactfully as she could, providing some proof to the others that this wasn't their Cordelia. "You didn't survive this far."

Chapter 5

Jesse hadn't spoken for at least twenty minutes. Not since Cordelia's confession. Once their initial shock had subsided, the others had attempted to discover the exact circumstances of his death. Willow being mostly concerned with who it was that had killed him.

Cordelia had ignored the questions instead focusing entirely on Jesse's reaction. Although she hadn't really known him; and if truth be known, was only vaguely aware of him as yet another of those passing boys that had fancied her but were beneath her status; she still felt bad about having to mention it. This had been what she'd been avoiding since she'd arrived in this freaky universe. She was also fully aware that the person who she'd been when Jesse was last alive; was, in this dimension, up until a few hours ago, working hard to maintain her Queen Bitch status on the high school hierarchy. She was seriously wondering if she could ever go back to being that person.

Since making the Wish, she'd thought long and hard about what she'd done. Sure, superficially, she'd been a better position than in the other dimension, but it wasn't perfect. She was seriously considering whether or not the perfect result would have been accepting Xander back. That way she could have continued to work alongside the Slayer's gang, which in her dimension Xander had playfully named the Scoobies; which, she had to admit, did involve risking their lives virtually daily, but as these people had pointed out to her, she didn't seem that safe anyway, guess that what comes of living on a Hellmouth, whether you were aware of it or not.

She began to wonder if after taking Xander back she could have really worked towards re-establishing her status. Scarily, she figured if she could have got Buffy's help it would have been easy. Remembering back to the Homecoming Dance, she realised that if she'd been working alongside Buffy instead of actively trying to one-up one another, then it would have been no contest at all... Holly and Michelle... pah.

She was brought out of her internal debate by Jesse finally asking a question.

"How did I die?" His voice had no trace of emotion in it. It was like he was asking for the answer to a question from a school textbook.

"I'm not sure... it was a vampire."

"You know about vampires, but you're *not* sure?" Willow asked, clearly upset.

"I didn't know back then." Cordelia admitted. "I went to the funeral... but there was no coffin or anything."

"Why no coffin?" Giles asked, at the others look he continued. "As she said, this *isn't* about you... but I must confess to being curious, if this other Jesse was the victim of a vampire attack, then there are only two options; he was primarily used as a source for blood, or as an intended minion. Either way, there would have been a body."

Most of them reacted at the word body. From Xander's sweaty palms, to Willow's tears, to both Slayer's feeling the urge to hit something. This was their friend, this wasn't the same as any of the other vampire victims they ran into. They hadn't felt this bad in over a year, but this was a thousand times worse than that event.

Cordelia interrupted their musings, "He went missing... Xander... *my* Xander told me that they first knew about it when Jesse was used as bait in a trap. Except that he had also been turned. Xander himself had to stake him." She remembered him telling her the event after Angelus had started to wreak havoc amongst the group. From their point of view, although all vampire attacks were unfortunate, those were the only events which had hit them at a personal level.

"Do you know who did it?" Buffy asked, swearing to herself that if that vampire was still alive, then they'd deal with it asap. To end the risk there and then.

Cordelia wasn't sure what to say. "We had suspicions. We think it was Darla. That was the vampire that originally lured Jesse out, Buffy had recognised her later in a battle over mistaken identity with Angel." That much was true, but in this case she'd expanded the truth slightly to make it sound more confident. She justified it in her mind, Darla was Angel's sire, *that* much she was certain about. If Darla was still around in this dimension, then she needed to be taken out fast.

"Darla?" Faith asked, this was getting confusing. First Angel now Darla. At what point were these people getting on first term names with vampires. She could only think of three names she knew off hand. Two because they'd followed her from Boston, and one because he'd joined forces with the surviving Bostonian vampire.

"Died before you were called... Angel killed her. He caught her trying to con her way into my mother's house."

"Jeez Joyce was okay, though right?" Now Faith was worried, the Summers had opened their home to her. She wasn't sure if she'd ever be able to repay them.

"Didn't make it in. Invitation remember? Angel attacked her in the street. My mom saw him throw her into a tree and called the police on him. Luckily the fight was taken away from my house, mom never saw Angel eventually stake her."

"Lucky for her, eh?"

"Lucky for him too. Remember at that point, we didn't know he was a vampire. I told him off for attacking a vampire alone, never mind one as old and as dangerous as Darla."

Xander smiled at the memory.

Buffy saw his look and slapped his arm playfully. "How was I to know he was her childe? We were hardly close."

Xander was struggling to contain a laugh, "I'm just remembering your face when you told him to always carry a stake and a cross and then handed him to them."

"My face..? You leapt a mile."

"Yeah... well. There was the bonus that he left us alone for a week or so... and now I remember... Hah... You heard me. Hah. I was right, you were wrong. Come on admit it."

Buffy was confused, "Admit what?"

"I told you he creeped me out, and I was certain he fancied you... but *you* shrugged it off, saying I was imagining things... that's my 'Hah'..."

Jesse's cold voice shocked them out of the teasing that was inevitably about to start. "As much fun as this is, can we get back to the part where I'm dead."

"Shit... sorry bud." Xander apologised. Buffy nodded her agreement, and remained silent.

"How did Darla get me?"

"What..?" Cordelia was confused.

"Jess that's a little bit morbid." Faith tried to tell him.

Jesse expanded upon his original statement. "How did she get me? Did she go for me, instead of Buffy's mom or something?"

"I don't know the details. It was the same time Buffy came to town. Xander told me Darla picked you up in the Bronze." Cordelia desperately tried to remember anything else Xander may have told her.

"When Buffy came to town?" Jesse asked confused. "When did Buffy come to town?"

"About two years ago... I don't remember the date... she arrived during the middle of term time, think it was some time before Christmas."

"Probably same as this dimension then." Buffy stated confirming when she'd moved.

"So why was Darla picking him up at the Bronze?" Willow asked the question, both herself and Jesse were thinking.

"Hey that's right." Buffy commented.

"What?" Cordelia looked between everyone else. They all knew something she didn't, that much was obvious this was their reality after all, but she needed to know what it was.

"Getting turned. It's a pretty harsh punishment for cheating on your girlfriend..." Jesse said aloud, stating the joke before anyone else did.

"Don't say that... don't say that." Willow shouted at him. "She was a vampire... she's stronger than you... she probably forced you outside or something."

"What?" Cordelia asked.

"We were together at the time. I still don't understand how you could have gone with her, and we didn't do anything." Willow was trying not to cry.

"Even if you didn't know what you were dealing with... like it was *really* early after I moved here. *I* would have done something." Buffy promised them both, "I know I would..." she trailed off.

"Okay... bad newsflash of the night number two..." Cordelia said, waiting til she had everyone's attention. "You two *weren't* together in my reality. *Ever*. Xander himself found out about Buffy being the Slayer on the first day, she was there. Both of *you* were picked up by vampires sometime after that, I'm not sure when, but it was also the first time Xander had *seen* vampires."

"What..?" Willow shouted.

"Wilow, you'd been picked up as well. Xander went with Buffy to save you two... somehow Buffy got involved in a fight with several vampires, and she told you all to run." Faith and Buffy both nodded to show they agreed that's what they would have done. "You got ambushed while making your escape. Willow and Xander survived... Jesse had gone. Xander considered that one of his greatest failures." At their looks she confessed, "By the time I dated him, he was kinda handy to have around in a vampire fight. He blamed himself for a long time."

"We're both kinda handy to have around in a vampire fight." Jesse corrected her. "It wouldn't have been his fault, I can handle anything Xander can."

Xander bit back a challenging comment, this was his best friend's death being discussed here.

"You are now." Buffy corrected him. "But when I first arrived, neither of you had any experience... if that'd happened here and I couldn't rescue you..." She trailed off letting them all accept that facts.

"So I died cos we weren't together?" Jesse asked, looking Willow in the eye. "And you tried to deny it, when I said you were the best thing to happen to me."

Willow leant in for the kiss. She wasn't disappointed.

"So you made friends with Willow in this reality too?" Cordy asked, she thought she'd worked this out now. At Buffy's nod she asked. "So instead of three friends hanging around... it was four, which in reality were two third-wheels and a couple. That's why you started to date Xander... throw in Willow not pining for Xander this time round."

"And the inevitable happened." Buffy said, holding Xander's hand. Cordelia stared at their interlocked fingers for a few seconds, a little bit of jealousy still visible in her reaction.

"So what happens now?" Xander asked.

"What..?" Giles queried.

"Can we send Cordy back to her own reality... and if we do does this one end?" Xander asked.

"What..?" Buffy was shocked.

"I've seen enough time-travel films and programmes to know that we can't be sure if this reality survives." Xander asked.

"Shit..." Faith commented.

Cordelia was about to expand further when she heard the library doors swing open. The person walking through was someone she'd never expected to see again.

"Ms Calendar?" She asked incredulously.

Chapter 6

Jenny Calendar walked into the library, staring at the girl who'd just called her name. "Yes..?" She answered, when no further questions were forthcoming, she started to drag Giles into his office. 'Cordelia..? What's she doing here..?' "Rupert, we need to talk.... in private." She added.

Cordelia just groaned. "You can speak in front of me, you know..."

"That's alright Cordelia, you just talk here with your... friends." Jenny continued to attempt to drag Giles into the other room. "What's she doing here?" She whispered in his ear.

Cordelia had had enough of this. "I'll have you know that in my world, I'm like an honourary part of the Scooby Gang. I know all your guys secrets... well some of them anyway."

Giles could feel another headache coming on. "Cordelia please... If you give us a moment, we'll just go in here and I'll update Ms Calendar on what's been going on."

"Vampires. Slayers. Hellmouth. Watchers. Witches. Demons. Robots. Magic. Portals... ermm.... did I miss anything out." Cordelia turned to face them.

"*She* knows..?" Jenny asked in disbelief.

"Only my death." Jesse deadpanned.

Cordelia had not taken the fact that Jenny obviously thought she was the last person in the world to be told anything. So as she stood up, she cattily added. "Don't worry about it Jesse, Ms Calendar didn't survive either."

"Cordelia!" Giles shouted, shocked she would report such information so callously.

"Hey, Miss C... you and me baby." Jesse stated, as he went to high five Jenny. Jenny just looked at him blankly, before returning her gaze to Cordelia. "Or not..." Jesse trailed off as he sat back down.

"I'm what..?" Jenny asked confused.

"Dead. Don't worry though it wasn't you."

"It seems Cordelia here..." Giles gestured to the girl standing in front of them, "Is from another dimension or something... we haven't worked out the full details yet. In her dimension there have been quite a few subtle changes."

"I'm... dead." Jenny asked.

"Yeah..." Cordelia stated, feeling bad about her abrupt outburst now. 'Note to self. Report's of people's deaths should be handled with more tact.' "I'm sorry... it's just Angelus got you... but I've just realised he probably didn't turn up here."

"Angelus..?" Jenny repeated, her face paling at the mention of that name.

"Guys..? Who is Angelus?" Buffy asked. "The name sounds kinda familiar, like it's on the tip of my tongue or something."

"Angelus... duh... Angel's evil half. Less of the puppy dog vampire... and back with the regular biting type." Cordelia filled in the missing details.

Giles turned to Jenny, "Of course... I don't think you were around when we first met Angel... but Angelus was the vampire that Angel was before he got souled... Good Lord... so in your dimension, Angel's soul failed and Angelus returned?"

Jenny wasn't paying any attention to him however, stepping forward she just grabbed Cordelia by the arm and said one word. "How?"

"He snapped your neck... he realis..." Cordelia began but was interrupted by Jenny.

"Not that... how did he lose his soul?"

Cordelia shrugged, "He and Buffy did the nasty and it was gone..."

"Oh my god!!" Jenny said.

"It's okay." Giles soothed her, rubbing her arms to try and calm her down. "Him and Buffy didn't do anything here..." Turning to Xander, "And once again I find I have something to thank you for."

Xander bowed. "It's what I'm here for."

Jenny was strangely silent, the others left her to come to terms with that piece of information.

"See... useful girl here." Cordelia continued regardless. "Maybe we don't have to return me to my own dimension. Maybe we can just continue with me being one of the Scoobies again... but this time with me having a higher social status naturally."

"She gets to join the gang?" Faith turned to see how the others felt about that.

Jesse and Xander shrugged, Buffy and Willow said they didn't have a problem with it. Giles agreed that if she could keep a secret then maybe she could prove to be a help.

"So..." Cordelia asked the question that had been playing on her mind for a while. "Who am I seeing now?"


After school.

"No one." Cordelia said aloud, causing Amber to stare at her. "I can't believe I'm seeing no one. How can *I* be single? How is this even possible?"

Amber looked towards Harmony for guidance, who shrugged, Amber tried her best. "You said that after Larry... that after the Larry incident, you weren't going to be seeing anyone any more. You said you didn't need men."

"Yeah..." Harmony agreed. "For a while there we thought that whatever had affected Larry, had sunk it's teeth into you too."

Cordelia found herself involuntarily flinching at the teeth-sinking comment. "Well that nev... I'm over that now. So who is available."

Amber started to rattle off a list of various athletes and such.

Cordelia found herself writing most of the list off immediately. 'Dammit Xander, it was a lot easier when I went for the guy based on his car or family or social status... you've seriously cramped my style.'


Bronze that night.

The gang were in the Bronze. Faith had dragged Xander onto the dancefloor and was trying to make him keep up. Willow, Jesse and Buffy were standing at the side watching.

"He'll never keep up til the end of the song." Willow stated, laughing at her friend's predicament.

"Xander'd surprise you... man has the stamina." Jesse said, automatically backing up his best friend.

"I know that, but how do you?" Buffy smirked, causing Jesse to go bright red. "Score."

"Faith has definitely been a bad influence on you two."

"So Buffy, you really think Xander will last?" Willow asked, watching as Faith forced him to start swinging her around the dancefloor.

Buffy watched as she weighed up the likelihood. "I think he'll complete the song out of sheer stubbornness, but he'll probably fake a heart attack or something if she drags him on for the next one."

They watched for another few minutes. The song came to an end, it was replaced by a slow one. Xander started to leave the dancefloor, but Faith tried to drag him back. "Come on... this one won't kill you." She pleaded.

"Faith... I honestly think I'd prefer to risk another high speed number and dying of a coronary, than having Buffy after me with a stake." Xander said, trying to wheedle out of her grasp.

Faith followed him to the edge of the floor. "Xan... come on... that Devon creep's been trying to get me for the last few months. Just cos he knew me and Oz... ya know... he thinks I'm gonna put out for him too... told him I wasn't a groupie, but he didn't believe me. For me... please... it's just to get him off my back."

"Faith..." Xander began.

Unfortunately for Xander, Buffy had heard using her Slayer hearing the end of the conversation. "Go on, one song with Faith. I do trust you, you know."

"You sure?" Xander asked.

"Always." Buffy responded.

Faith, gave Buffy a parting shot as she left the dance floor. "If he grabs my ass it was my fault okay..?"

Buffy laughed, as Xander looked on shocked. "That's okay then."

Xander turned to face her as he was dragged back towards the dancefloor. "What..?"

"Though if I grab his, it's cos it's simply irrestible." Faith laughed.

Buffy smiled, and indicated she was heading to the bar to fetch drinks.

"There will be no ass-grabbing from either party." Xander informed her as they reached a clear space, Faith put her arms around his neck and started to sway.

"Just go with it Xan... it's doesn't mean anything and I wouldn't try to take you off Buffy."

"And I'd never cheat on her."

Faith stared at his face, "So what's troubling you?"

Xander confessed "Just wondering what everyone who sees this thing is gonna think... and I realised it's probably the same as Devon."

"So..?" Faith asked confused.

"What if they think I'm with you... and Buffy's a free agent?"

Faith smiled, pleased with his loyalty to her best friend. "We'll correct them... and tell them I'm just a part of your harem."

Xander smiled.

"Hey," She continued. "Seriously that could work out for me too. Get the freaks off my back."

"They want you on your back." Xander smirked.

"Har har Harris."

Faith smiled and leant in close. "Soo... in this other reality..." she began.


"Don't get offended... I know you love Buffy... but... do you think in this other reality me and you could ever get together..?"

He answered as honestly as he could, "I don't know... why the question?"

"Just wondering... it's just all the good ones are taken you know... Not gonna steal either of you from Buffy or Red but..."

Xander gave her a friendly peck on the forehead. "There'll be someone out there for you... you'll meet them someday. I promise."

"Just wondering if you weren't with Buffy... could me and you have stood a chance?"

"I don't know... honestly you are an extremely attractive woman." He leered at her, causing her to smile. "But I can't see past Buffy."

"I know... but *there* you dated Cordelia."

"True... true... maybe over there, me and you could have stood a chance." He conceded.


At the side of the dancefloor, Buffy had returned with drinks. Willow seperated herself from Jesse and walked over to her. "You sure you're not jealous of them?"

"How could I be..? She's like a sister to me... and I know he loves me. You ever jealous when Jesse flirts with Faith..."

"Jesse doesn't flirt with Faith. Faith flirts with him."

"True," Buffy thought. "You probably flirt with Faith more than he does."

Willow offered no response. Jesse came to join them. "How come Faith never dances with me?"

"Jealous hon?" Willow teased.

"You're not her type." Buffy informed him. "Of dancer I mean."

"Hey I can dance better than Xander... Willow dragged me to those lessons remember. She was ashamed of looking a fool on the middle of the dancefloor."

"And that's why Faith prefers Xander. You know what you're doing... to some songs anyway. Xander is raw undiluted enthusiasm. She guides him where she's going. No one else can keep up."

"You can." Willow corrected her.

"Only cos I'm a Slayer... tell you without the Slayer gift, she'd leave me behind... though maybe if she wasn't a Slayer either she wouldn't... I just don't know how he does it."

Buffy changed topic. "Talking of Slayer related stuff. Saw that guy upstairs."

"Which guy?" Jesse asked confused.

"The one that the cops picked on when his girlfriend was killed. Jeez I feel sorry for that guy. To be wrongly accused like that."

"Oh... what was her name... Debbie." Willow worked it out. "Miss Calendar and I managed to break into the police files last night. That's what she wanted to talk to Giles about."


"Turns out the reason why her boyfriend couldn't have done it, is that her neck was broken by an extremely powerful creature. We're talking at least vampire level strength. The police have it down as a weightlifter or something."

"So it might be something we should be looking into after all." Buffy realised, remembering how Giles had dismissed it as being the Sunnydale Police Department's responsibility and not their's.


A few minutes previously
Top balcony, Bronze.

Cordelia was looking for a man. She'd spotted that guy, the one Buffy had been after in her reality. But he was off talking to a friend of his. She walked past a variety of athletes and band members. All giving her the eye. Trying to remember anything about them, she refused to make eye contact.

One person she noticed staring at her was that short guy... what was his name... Jonathan. She'd made the mistake of dating him once in her own reality. He doubted he'd improved since then, 'He really needs to know how to talk to women.' she thought, 'and I don't have the patience or inclination to teach him.' She remembered how her ex-friends in her reality had taunted her about dating him the day before. Smiling at him, she walked straight past making minimal eye contact. She stopped to look over the balcony, intending to get a better feel for the guys actually available to her.

All she could concentrate on though was Xander dancing with Faith. She watched as he went full out trying to keep up with the Slayer. She smiled as he seemed to do it, and then couldn't help grinning at his antics as he wanted to leave the floor. Feigning everything from tiredness to a knee injury, Faith still wouldn't let him go.

She was sad however when they returned to the dance floor for a slow number. Her heart breaking a little bit more, as she watched them lean in together. Even though that wasn't this Xander's girlfriend, she couldn't help the small pangs of jealousy leaping within her.

She was so entranced by what she saw, she didn't see Jonathan walk up behind her. Didn't see him, slowly look around to see if there were witnesses. Didn't see his face as it morphed into that of a vampire.

Chapter 7

The first thing Cordy felt was the hand touching her back. "Back off Perv!!" She screamed turning around. To come face to face with Jonathan in vampire mode. She let out a bloodcurdling scream.

"I love it when they're feisty." Jonathan smiled at her.

Grabbing a cross out of her handbag Cordy returned the smile. "Don't flatter yourself Loser. That wasn't for you... that was for the Slayer on the dance floor. And I'm sure the other one's around somewhere."

Annoyed, Jonathan growled and lunged at her. Cordelia held the cross up in self defence, pressing it as near to him as she could.

He grabbed her arms in an attempt to stop her bringing it closer. Her arms successfully locked in place, he began to torment her. "Now what you gonna do bitch?"

Cordelia tried moving her arms to attack him with the cross, but she realised she couldn't get to it. Neither could she free her other hand to reach the stake also concealed in her handbag. Realising the stalemate, she did the only thing possible. She dropped the cross onto his forearm, and at the exact same time she kicked him in the groin.

Jonathan screamed, more from the burn of the cross than from the bruised genitalia. Cordelia used the time to pick up the cross again, and place the stake firmly in her free hand. By the time he'd recovered enough to fully stand up again, she was fully armed and facing off against him.

"Really think you can take me bitch?" He teased, lashing out with one of his hands. She stumbled backwards into the railing. The shock of contact making her accidently drop the stake. Jonathan saw this and smiled, casually kicking the stake off the balcony.

"Think of it more of a delaying tactic," She countered, nodding her head in the direction of the Slayer bounding up the stairs.

"Faith..." Jonathan hissed, turning his back on Cordelia. Eyes scanning the remaining club-goers wondering who he could use as a hostage.

Cordelia used the lack of attention in the best way she knew how. Grabbing a stool from behind her, she swung it into the back of Jonathan's head.

Causing him to topple over the balcony and fall to the ground below. Faith arrived just as he went over the edge. "Shit C... Guess you have changed." Faith said as she and Cordelia arrived at the railing to see what had happened. Buffy stopped her ascent up the stairs on the opposite side to Faith and quickly began to run down them. Jonathan pushed himself up off the floor, back in a normal human face. Xander had gone to fetch Cordelia's stake, the second he'd seen it drop. He now found himself standing between Jonathan and the rest of the dance floor, he still hadn't made it to the stake. Jonathan was about to attack, when suddenly the stool Cordelia had hit him with, landed on his head again.

"Who's the little bitch now?" Cordelia shouted, while Faith celebrated her direct hit. Xander used the spare couple of seconds to dive for the stake. Jonathan stood up and angrily tossed the stool into the crowd, ready to face off against Xander, whether he was armed or not.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jonathan saw Buffy running onto the dancefloor rapidly overtaking Jesse's own attempt to aid Xander. Jonathan weighing up the new odds turned and fled.

Xander passed the stake a few feet in front of him, as he headed towards Jesse. Buffy snatched it out of the air, as she quickly headed towards the door that Jonathan had left via.

"Shouldn't we go after her?" Jesse asked.

Xander indicated Faith's own run down the stairs, chasing off in pursuit of the others. "We're on damage control." He told him, as they headed to the students who'd been hit by the stool used in Jonathan's display of anger.

"Man I hope they catch him this time." Jesse commented, as they arrived, trying to wonder exactly who'd been hit. Willow was shortly by their side.

Cordelia came down to see them helping a young couple to their feet. "Nothing more than bruises." Willow was telling them, in a far too cheerful voice.

"Anything I can help with..?" Cordelia asked, once she reached the group.

"Nahhh..." Jesse replied. "Let's go get some drinks for when they get back." At her look he added, "It's the tradition Scooby celebration for a particular bad vampire's demise."

"Hold on... Jonathan's a bad vampire..? But he's... but he's... Jonathan." Cordelia asked confused.

"So he's not a vampire in your reality?" Willow asked confused.


"He's been pretty tricky here." Xander added. "Learnt from a nasty vampire."

"Yeah... Spike was his sire." Jesse informed her.

"Spike..? Vampire in a wheelchair, dumb hair..?" Cordy asked, remembering what the others had told her.

"Dumb hair, yes... wheelchair, no..." Jesse answered confused.

"Seems Spike has a thing for Slayers..." Xander stated, "Turns out he actually scopes out his target and evaluates them, before making initial contact." At her look he added, "I got possessed by a soldier."

"Yep... that's familiar... steal a rocket launcher here too?"

"Guess me and him are pretty similar after all." Xander smiled back at her.

"So... Jonathan?" Cordelia queried.

"Once Spike discovered which school the Slayer went to. He did the smart thing." Willow stated, almost spitting out the word smart. "Turned someone from her year."

Jesse expanded on it. "Not just anyone either. Someone she rescued... and who wasn't surprised when she rescued him... someone that must have seen her in action a few times."

"How long ago..?" Cordelia asked.

"Just over a year." Jesse responded. "Saved him from being the victim of a werewolf attack."

"Ahhh... Oz." Cordelia nodded in understanding.

"You've said that before... seem pretty sure too." Willow mentioned.

"He was part of the gang... your boyfriend to be exact."

"Right..." Willow said, looking uncomfortably towards Jesse.

Jesse grasped her hand reassuringly. "Wasn't you... and I wasn't there. No guilt huh?"

"No guilt." Willow agreed.

"Isn't Jonathan practically a fledgling though?" Cordelia asked confused. "Not really Master vampire status, is it? One year."

"Seems Spike was so willing to bag his third Slayer, that he took Jonathan under his wing completely. Trained him in everything he knew... Jonathan's far nastier than other vampires of his age... and he knows us." Xander said.

"And the sneaky bastard got away again." Faith said, as she and Buffy strolled back in. Buffy immediately heading to be engulfed in a Xander-hug.

"I really hate that guy." Buffy's muffled voice came from Xander's shirt.

Faith walked up to Cordelia, and offered out her hand. "Good work defending yourself. Quick thinking when you handed me the stool too. Guess you've passed the Scooby Gang vampire initiation ritual."

Cordelia took it. "Like it was ever in doubt."

Buffy turned to face Xander, "You wanna give Cordelia a lift home..? Me and Faith thought we might go on patrol before we check in."

"Sure." Xander offered his arm to Cordelia. "You too ashamed of me... or willing to take the chance in this bold new reality?"

Cordelia quickly took it. "Oh... I'm game. But I have a car of my own."

"I'll just follow... make sure you get home okay..." Xander offered.

Cordelia smiled back.

Willow took that as the end for the night. "Jesse give me a lift."

"Do I look like your chauffeur?" Jesse countered as they begin walking off.

"But I like you in spiffy clothes. Remember how horny I got when we had to go to your cousin's wedding. In fact just the thought of it is..." She finished the rest of the sentence whispering quietly in his ear.

"Kids eh..?" Xander laughed as they watched the two leave the club. "Excuse me for a moment."

He left Cordelia's side, in order to give his girlfriend a goodbye kiss. "See ya Faithie..." He shouted as he resumed arm-linkage with Cordelia and headed off towards the car park.

"Don't call me that Harris." Faith shouted after them as they left.

"So... one more sweep of the Bronze then some patrolling?" Buffy suggested, while Faith was still waiting for Xander's repsonse. Realising she wasn't going to get an answer, she dragged Faith by the arm back towards the stairs. "You go up... I'll meet you at the entrance in five."

"Sure B." Faith said as she starting scanning the crowds in front of her.


The Chase Mansion

"You got Faith to like you... I'm impressed." Xander admitted as he talked to Cordelia through the car window.

"Surprised..?" Cordelia grinned back, locking her own car where she'd parked it on a freespot of the drive near the building.

Xander smiled from the driver's seat. "If you knew how much shit the other you put her through... you'd be impressed too."

"Too much rhyming for me to pay attention. You're not a rapper you know."

Xander grinned and imitated the stars he'd seen on MTV, which mainly involved putting his hand in what he assumed was a funky position. "Boys from da hellmouth!!"

Cordelia winked as she walked inside. "So White... so very very white."

"I heard that."

"You were supposed to!!!" She shouted back as she entered the house.

Confident she'd be safe now she was indoors, Xander rolled his window back up, and proceeded to drive home.


A few hours later
Outside Giles Residence

"Come on..." Faith was trying to persuade her co-worker. "Come on... let's just skip it... we can tell G tomorrow."

"Let's just report in and go home." Buffy said.

"No way... I hate the way she stares at me... like I'm scum or something." Faith said standing on the spot.

Sighing Buffy walked behind her and started to push her towards the door. "She doesn't think you're scum... the sooner we do this, the sooner we can get home."

"Oh... it's fine for you... you didn't fail to help her." Faith argued, starting to push back.

"Neither of us found it... face it... regardless of what she reckons, it's probably not on the Hellmouth."

"But I hate that bitch..." Faith said a little too loudly. "Shit..." she added as Giles' door swung open.

"Hello..?" Giles said. "Oh good, it's you two... please come in."

Buffy walked in, Faith reluctantly followed. Scanning the room as she entered; she passed Giles holding the door open for them, and Jenny sitting down on the sofa.

"See..." Buffy whispered to her.

"Safe... phew." Faith whispered back.

"Hey girls." Jenny called from where she was sitting, "Want a drink or a biscuit..?" she offered the contents of the tray on the coffee table.

"No... I'm fine..." Buffy politely declined.

"Oooooh Choccy ones..." Faith said selecting a couple.

Giles sat down next to Jenny.

Faith mumbled through a half chewed biscuit. "We saw Jonathan again toni..." she began.

Then stopped, she swore she'd heard it. The sound of a toilet flushing somewhere in Giles' apartment. "Shit..." she said, spraying some bits of biscuit out in front of her.

"I take it, from the use of the word 'saw' and not 'staked', that Jonathan escaped again." Came the voice of Gwendolyn Post, from the doorway to Giles' other rooms. "Really two Slayers, and you can't take out one solitary vampire."

Chapter 8

Later that night

Joyce was drifting in an out of consciousness. She always found herself stirring at this time of night. Least she had since she'd discovered the truth about her daughter. It was when the girls were due back. Every night without fail she'd find herself feeling anxious about now. When she'd first learned the truth, she tried to wait up for her each night, that'd lasted about a week. She just couldn't function on that little amount of sleep. Her work had started to suffer, and she was getting irritable over the smallest things.

She changed that ritual into one where she went to sleep at a reasonable hour, setting an alarm for around 3am to confirm her daughter was safely inside. She always ended up making herself a cup of coffee in order to force herself not to drift off again; whenever Buffy caught her doing this she wasn't impressed. 'She doesn't know what it is to be a worried parent.' Joyce had figured. Add to the fact that Buffy always sneaked back into the house, she never knew if her daughter was home or not. 'I think it's a teenage thing... sneaking into the house in the middle of the night, even when they actually have permission to be out that late.'

Since the arrival of Faith however, Joyce seemed to sleep easier. She never forced herself to wake up, though she still always did. 'There's two of them and they watch each other's backs.' Joyce thought.

Then she heard it. The sound of the television being turned on downstairs. Followed immediately by Buffy's muffled voice, "Will you turn it down..? Mom's asleep upstairs."

Faith's reply was barely audible, "Relax B... Your mom never wakes up... now shush, I'm trying to find something decent... ohhh... America's Dumbest Criminals..."

Buffy's voice got louder. "Wanna Coke?" Buffy asked, as she opened the fridge, which was in the kitchen directly beneath Joyce's bedroom.

Then Joyce heard the living room door close, and the house was almost silent again.

'Now I can sleep,' Joyce thought as she settled back into her pillow. 'Now I know the girls are downstairs watching late night television like any other teenagers.'

'Wonder if Faith knows how much this simple act of normalcy makes me feel better; or that the sounds of either the television or them patching each other up in the bathroom allows me to sleep easier.' Were her final thoughts as she began to drift off.


The next day
Sunnydale High School
The library

"What I don't get is why Jonathan doesn't create another gang..." Jesse put forward to the group around the table.

"I think after Faith staked the geek friends he'd turned, he may have been put off." Xander responded.

"We had to do something," Buffy commented, "He brought them into the school during the day. They'd eaten five students who'd gone to the basement before we even knew they were there."

"What happened?" Cordelia asked, glad for the distraction.

"It could have been a massacre." Willow informed her. "Jonathan remembered that a lot of students used to sneak into the basements to have a crafty cigarette, so they lay in wait for them. It was quite ingenius really, we weren't expecting to have to deal with vampires during the day, or on school grounds."

Cordelia turned to face Faith, "So how did you know they were there... sense them or something?"

"Hardly," Buffy smiled, "Faith was sneaking down for a cigarette herself."

Cordelia joined in the humour. "That's brilliant... bet they were shocked when they saw a Slayer."

Xander elaborated, "It was fairly soon after she moved here, think she'd only been attending Sunnydale High for a week or so. So only Jonathan recognised her... He ran to the tunnels, while the others were mainly confused as to why she was more annoyed than frightened."

"I bet they were..." Cordelia grinned as she imagined the scenario. "So Jonathan is a serious threat then... coming up with innovative methods like that."

Giles returned from his office. Taking a look at the group, he realised that not much research was being done. He coughed to announce his return. They all quickly pretended to be deep in the books. Sighing, he realised that as soon as he was gone they'd be giving research the part-time treatment. He headed back into his office.

Once Giles was out of earshot, Willow leaned over and whispered to the group. "Yeah... Jonathan's gotta be taken seriously. He's had some good teaching and has a grudge on most of the school, for what he considers a lifetime of bullying. Think he turned the other geeks in the hope that their hatred ran just as strongly. Luckily they didn't..."

"And now he's teamed up with Trick..." Faith drifted off, thinking about the vampire that had followed her across country.

"Trick..? Isn't that the vampire that organised the hunting party on the night of the homecoming dance?" Cordelia asked.

"Er... yeah. Slayer Fest 98 he called it." Buffy replied. "But how did you know? You were busy getting your Homecoming Queen title in the bag."

Cordelia gave her a look. "Ermmm... not me, remember? I was Homecoming Queen?"

Jesse leaned over to whisper in Xander's ear. "You notice how when it's a good thing it *is* her; but when we're making assumptions that she wouldn't know stuff cos she wasn't there, *we're* at fault?"

Xander grinned back at him, whispering he said. "Think it's a 'woman' thing or a 'Cordelia' thing?"

Both got slapped by their other halves. "Play nice!" Willow ordered both of them.

"Jonathan and Trick..? But Trick wasn't that... tricky in our world." Cordelia informed them.

"They've both been trained by Master Vampires and they're both modern thinkers. Mix in Jonathan's knowledge of most of this school's population and you see how they're making names for themselves." Xander explained carefully.

"Not to mention a dent in the school's population." Buffy added.

"Trick's trying to turn himself into a major player... he finds the most powerful demon around and learns from them. He's a vampire; time's on his side and he's patient. This is the sort of person who would have a ten year plan... and it won't be pretty." Faith said.

"Jonathan's only after two things... more like him, to cause hell to the rest of the school; and to turn any hot girl he can find, trying to make up for his lack of success in life by bagging himself a vampire whore."

"That's why he was going after you..." Willow expanded on her boyfriend's comments. "You're the latest one to take his fancy."

"Latest one?" Cordelia asked.

"Yeah... he turned Joy... the head cheerleader, she was his little sextoy for a while... but he got bored of her, so he staked her himself." Buffy commented.

Cordelia cringed a little at the thought of Joy and Jonathan, not a couple she could imagine happening any other way if she was honest. She turned to face Xander as he filled her in some more.

"He only wanted her cos lots of guys at the school did... lots of guys that'd picked on him at some point."

Faith shook her head, "Boy's got issues... and his demon's acting out all his little revenge fantasies."

"Wonderful." Cordelia said as she resumed reading the book Giles had given her on portals and alternate realms.


After School
Cheerleading Practice

Jesse and Xander are sitting on a bench, watching Cordelia and a bunch of other girls attempting to form a pyramid.

Jesse drinks from his can of Pepsi, before passing it over to Xander. "Remind me again why we stopped going to games?"

"Something to do with not liking any of the jocks, and the fact that we never win anything..." Xander said, lifting the can to his lips. Unfortunately the hole was in the wrong position, and he ended up tipping most of it down the left side of his face.

Jesse was so focused on the view in front of him, that he hadn't noticed. "Knew there was a good reason for it... maybe we should start going again?" He suggested.

"You never know..." Xander agreed, wiping his face with his sleeve. "Maybe the team's about to begin a winning streak. We should be there to support that... in case it happens."

"We *might* even pick up some of that school spirit stuff. You know, the one Snyder says we're severely lacking in."

"There does seem a lot of it about. Just look how enthusiastic these students are." Xander gestured towards the semi-completed pyramid.

It's Cordelia's turn to climb up into her position. Both boys lean forward and lower their heads to get a better view. Neither notice the three girls walk up from behind them.

Buffy looks at Xander and back to the cheerleaders and back to Xander again. Turning to face Willow they both then shrug simultaneously. Faith, however, is less subtle.

She sits down beside them, taking the can out of Xander's hand. Taking a big gulp, she leans forward to get the same view they have. Smiling she turns to face the boys. "So which one we looking at..?"

Jesse and Xander immediately sit back up properly. Noticing their girlfriend's raised eyebrows they offer quite pathetic grins in defence.

"Xander, you're drooling." Buffy informs him.

"It's Pepsi." He replies.

She stares at him, knowing he'll be the first to crack. "So I'm clumsy, you knew this when you started seeing me."

"And the cheerleader fetish?" She grinned.

Now he smiled right back, "You knew that about too." Buffy blushed.

Jesse notided that right away, and recognised the look in her eyes. "You dress up as a cheerleader for him?" Turning to face his own girlfriend. "You never dress up as a cheerleader for me."

Willow looked midly hurt, "But I thought you liked the horny librari..." she said aloud before realising the others could hear. She fought the blush down, her look challenging anyone to say anything.

Faith however hadn't noticed. "The librarian and the chauffeur eh?" She commented returning to a more normal seating position, gesturing to the group in front of her she added, "Cowards the lot of them... If I had to dress as a cheerleader I'd be tempted to go commando... just to see who was looking."

None of them knew how to respond to that. The looks on Jesse and Xander's faces, showed they were probably imagining it though.

"B... when you do it for the X-man do you wear anything... cos *technically* a cheerleading outfit is only the top, skirt and pom-poms."

Ignoring the answer, though Xander's eager nodding in her direction, led the others to guess she currently wore underwear but that might change next time they play the game, Buffy quickly changed topic. "When we sent you to invite Cordelia to this evenings meeting, we assumed you'd be bringing her back. Not staying to wait til she was finished."

"I'm with the guys on this one B... I say we wait for her... what?" She replied at their look. "I can enjoy the female form without being a lesbo you know."

"And what a form it is." Jesse automatically responded.

"Amen." Said Willow and Xander together.

"I give in." Buffy stated an sat down. "*Just* til they finish practice then... we're not following them to the showers or anything like that."

The only audible response was Jesse and Xander gulping very loudly.


The Library

The gang plus Cordelia strolled back into the library.

Giles greeted them as they entered the room. "You've taken your time, I was wondering if you'd gotten lost. Now as you all know I've been researching Cordelia's predicament."

They made their way to the table and sat down.

"It seems there is no such thing as a Fairy Godmother... there are however multiple types of demon that can grant wishes. However most of these require the Wisher to complete a set objective or pass a test if you prefer. As Cordelia hadn't mentioned anything similar I was assuming that probably wasn't the case."

"Probably..?" Cordelia asked.

"You may have passed them already."

Faith looked around the others, "I think I speak for everyone one in the room when I ask 'Huh?'"

"It could be that she was being tested without knowing she was being tested. But as I said this wasn't my first suspect. The only other way to move between dimensions is to cause a portal. And you also didn't mention one of those."

Cordelia shook her head. "Didn't see one... don't think I stepped through one."

"Ahhh... unfortunately, that was my first suspect."

"So what you saying G-Man?" Xander asked.

Giles continued in a far more excited tone. "That it would appear we have discovered something new. Or at the very least extremely rare, and therefore not well documented. Now please concentrate Cordelia, is there anything that happened that you may have overlooked?"

Chapter 9

Cordelia sat there thinking, while the rest of the group looked on. She was trying to concentrate, trying to think of anything to give them more information to go on. She'd been relatively fine with most of the changes. Sure she was boyfriendless, but that could soon be rectified. And yeah, she wasn't a part of the Scoobies, but they'd been quite accepting of her so far. It was other things that were driving her insane.

Like her parents, they'd tried to spoil her rotten, something she'd have been quite pleased about in her own reality. But they kept bringing home sons of friends and so on. Suitable suitors for her, in their opinion anyway. Apparently they were quite worried about her lack of dating. She was beginning to realise how much freedom from parental interference dating Xander had given her. Even if they had treated it like she was just trying out a piece of rough for a while. Wherein her mind, it'd been the first worthwhile relationship she'd had.

Also cheerleading in her reality had been a part time hobby. An extra-curricular activity that looked good when she'd sent off for college applications. Something that had kept her in touch with her 'old' friends and allowed her to get attention off a lot of the boys; least until the Xander fiasco anyway. Now it was supposed to be her main hobby, and the losers that were attracted to the cheerleading set bored her within minutes of meeting them. She'd watched the other girls swoon over guys from the football field, whenever they spoke to her she had to cut herself off from making biting comments about needing body armour to run around a field with a ball. My last boyfriend risked his neck to keep everyone safe, but thanks to Buffy being a secret she wasn't able to tell anyone. That'd been something that annoyed her the most in the last reality, not Xander's overall lameness cos what he did overcame that; it was the fact that she *couldn't* tell anyone about the things that made him worthy of her attention, and as a result had no real defence against the accusations from her former friends. And now she was in a reality where she was supposed to be impressed with these morons again, and her former-friends were her current-friends again and she kept occasionally feeling bitter about things they hadn't done.

"I hate Fairy Godmothers." She said aloud, shocking the rest of the group with the first break in the silence since she'd began her internal rant..

"As I said, there is no such thing as a Fairy Godmother." Giles re-iterated.

"She said she was." Cordelia responded.

"You'd think she'd know." Faith added sarkily. "What..?" She said looking at Cordelia. "I'm *on* your side."

"Unless..." Giles drifted off. Taking his glasses off, he gave them a quick polish waiting til he had everyone's attention. "Explain it to me again slowly this time... do not leave anything out."

"Why..?" Xander asked, getting tired of everything going around in circles.

"Because if I'm not mistaken, it might be possible that we're both right."

"Huh?" Buffy and Cordelia said at the same time.

"It could be that Fairy Godmothers *do* exist in Cordelia's old reality, but not in this one."

"Shit..." Faith swore.

"So I'm trapped?" Cordelia asked. "I mean, in some ways it's better than my reality, but in others... this isn't my reality." Cordelia broke down in front of them.

Once she'd composed herself, she began to tell the story again. This time including everything she could remember on the day that she'd somehow went dimension hopping.


Once the story was complete. Giles ran off in search of some more books.

The others looked at one another. None knowing quite what to say.

In an attempt to lighten the atmosphere and a way to avoid the silence, Jesse piped up with, "Let's just go... while he's lost in the bookshelves. He's happy there."

Not even Faith was in support of that suggestion. "Hey... I like *this* Watcher."

Cordelia smiled at her.

"She sounds scary..." Willow stated, getting back on topic.

"Yeah." Buffy agreed. "Definitely demon-y to me. Not how I'd imagine a Fairy Godmother to look."

Cordelia nodded her head in partial agreement, "But she sent me here... where... admittedly... some things are better. I mean it's not so much an overall improvement as just a change."

"So she doesn't seem evil... or that good..?" Xander asked.

"Tricky..." Jesse said, then turning to face his girlfriend. "Maybe it's to do with that yin and yang stuff you tried to explain to me once."

"You mean Balance..? Of course that could explain a lot... she cannot alter the universal balance so she just sent you somewhere where it might be better for you... pity for some of the others like Jonathan, but I'm sure if you made an overall comparison some people are alive who weren't in yours and vice versa."

"Playing with who lives and who dies..?" Buffy added, "I don't like the sound of that. Still not sounding that good a person."

"She *did* let you choose the reality you got moved to." Willow argued.

"Maybe they *all* existed..." Xander mused aloud.

"Eh?" Cordelia asked. Looking around she could see confusion on all other faces except for Jesse's.

"The parallel worlds theory? Yeah... that could explain it." At their looks he decided to expand. "What Xander's suggesting is that this Fairy Godmother didn't play with who gets to live or die afterall. Xander's saying what if both possibilities and a whole lot more, already existed."

Buffy was still confused, "I take your 'Eh?' and raise you a 'Huh?'"

Willow came to her aid. "They're saying Cordelia's wish didn't change anything. They're saying all that changed was which universe Cordelia happens to live in. Given all the possibilities, this universe might probably be the best one for you... depends on the criteria the Fairy used... you still being alive, narrowing down to those that agree with your wish, etc."

Faith raised her hand, "Still a little lost."

"You remember Sliders?" Xander asked, at her nod, he continued. "Like that. But instead of random jumping, got sent to a reasonable one, that the wisher should like. As you'd expect from a Fairy Godmother."


"So my universe is still out there?" Cordelia asked hopefully.

"If that is this case." Willow responded. "That's a scientific theory so I'm not too sure how it applies to Fairies."

"They'd just be taking advantage of it." Xander guessed. "To get the most for the wish, with the least amount of effort."

"Lazy Fairies. Right..." Buffy commented, thinking she had a grasp on it now.

"Back to the important stuff." Cordelia silenced them. "If it still exists then I can go home if I want to right? And what happens to the me that was there?"

Willow scrunched her nose up, deep in thought. "It's only a theory, no-one's proved it's possible so far."

"You may be looking at her, Will." Xander stated.

"I'm just saying... as it's only a theory, the explanations of reverse travel or what happens to the you in the other dimension are at best more theories. She could have disappeared, and *that* Cordelia kinda 'overwrote' the one here. As to what would have happened to this one could be anything to no longer existed, to *her* being transported to your universe, to you two simply swappi..."

"Too much info." Cordelia stated. "I'm not writing a physics book on the subject. Important things only. Can I get back?"

Willow, Jesse and Xander all looked at one another. "Assuming that we *are* talking about the parallel universe theory... then the fact that you got here would suggest that travelling between realities *is* possible."

"That's all I needed to know." Cordelia beamed back at him.

Faith thought about it some more. "But in Sliders aren't they compl..."

Xander silenced her with a look. Luckily Cordelia hadn't heard the statement fully. She'd been distracted by Giles' return.

"I knew it." He said as he walked down the stairs, placing the book open on the table for the others to read he continued. "The veiny face you mentioned... I knew I'd heard about that before. It seems that Witches of a certain power level start to show the attributes you described. This Fairy Godmother could have merely been an extremely powerful witch."

Cordelia started reading, while the others discussed it further.

"Maybe Fairy Godmother's are all powerful witches." Willow suggested.

"Or it was *just* a powerful witch that Cordelia helped in some way." Faith commented, "And she showed she was grateful by giving her one wish... very genie-being-freed-from-lamp-esque."

"Hmmmm." Giles mused those points over.

"This isn't right..." Cordelia stated, pointing at a passage in the book. "It says she was evil... and that the veins were black."

"You said she was covered in veins." Jesse argued back.

"But not black ones... hers were red. And I don't believe she was evil."

Buffy shrugged, "Maybe if you're a good witch your veins go red?" she suggested.


The Old Master's Lair.

"Cordelia knew what I was." Jonathan informed the group around him. "That may mean her little group of bitches also know. And if they know, then it'll be all around the school in days, they couldn't keep a secret to themselves if their lives depended on it. Be extra careful when hunting tonight."

The others nodded.

"So..." Trick called from where he'd been watching. "Cordelia's the new hottie you're after." Trick held his hands in front of him and motioned a pair of breasts by pretending to hold them.


"I thought you said she was a nobody with delusions of power."

Jonathan thought it over, "She used to be... something's changed."

Trick shrugged not really interested. "Something's coming... something big... and this town doesn't know about it yet."

"Most of the people in this town don't know shit." Jonathan explained.

"Not that... something *we* are overlooking. There's a power here, something working behind the scenes for it's own goals."

"You sure..?" Jonathan thought back, "I know you seem to think that Balthazar is coming here, but I can't see the point."

Trick realised this was an old argument. "Balthazar isn't coming here to take over, he seems to be fairing okay in Cleveland... he's coming to take care of something."

"How well do you know this Balthazar anyway?" Jonathan thought.

"Not well... Kakistos knew him. He asked Kakistos to check on something when we were coming here. Kakistos never told me what it was."

Jonathan looked lost, "What could happen here that could affect him up there?"

"Other than the end of the world?" Trick commented.

"Other than that."

Trick sighed, resigning himself to look into it more as more information became available. "So you giving up on this Cordelia girl... gonna get something easier?" He hoped.

"No... Cordelia knows as much about how the school set works as I do... and she's probably gonna know a fair bit about the upper classes too."

Both Jonathan and Trick thought about what they could achieve if they managed to get some wealth behind them.

"No." Jonathan continued. "Cordelia's gone up in the world, throw in her knowledge of the supernatural and she's a keeper. I think Miss Chase deserves more of our attention than I previously thought."

Chapter 10

Gile's Place
After School

"And where are the Slayers now?" Ms Post asked from her position on the sofa.

"I believe they're probably at home eating their tea." Giles responded from the kitchen.

"So what productive methods have they come up with for dealing with Jonathan?" Ms Post asked in a sarcastic tone.

Giles brought in a pot of tea and several cups. "So far they've been unable to locate Jonathan. Since he cleared out of Spike's old lair three months ago, he hasn't been seen in any particular area since. I'm afraid we're having to deal with each Jonathan situation as it arises." He comented as he poured them both a cup.

"Really... unable to locate a vampire. These girls shouldn't be in school, or at home eating food with one of their *mothers*." Ms Post almost spat the word out. "They should be here, with us, now; helping to discover his whereabouts. And the whereabouts of his friend, Mr Trick."

"Jonathan and Trick are their highest priorities." Giles defended his Slayer as he passed her one of the cups.

Ms Post took a sip, "Maybe we should reconsider what we were discussing last week."

Giles put his cup down, and stood up. "You'll do no such thing."

Ms Post wasn't fazed by his outburst. "I'm just arguing over their level of success."

Their discussion was halted, when Giles' front door opened. Jenny Calendar walked in, smiling at both of them as she did so, pausing she looked between, instantly assessing the tension in the room. "So... please feel free to get back to your argument. I was just gonna crash for an hour or so."

"Crash..?" Ms Post replied.

"Yep... crash... sleep... have a kip... grab forty winks... it's what all the cool kids are saying."

Giles met her just before she started up the stairs. "Hard day?"

"Not too bad... classes were fine until detention... then most of the trouble was caused by Xander."

Giles sighed and pinched his nose. "What did he do this time?"

"One of the other kids... a Jack O'Toole was bragging how he'd bagged Faith... and said other *less* complimentary things too."

"And Xander..?" Giles asked, expecting the inevitable.


"So they fought and both got sent to detention for you to deal with." Giles guessed.

"Oh no... this was *in* detention." Jenny corrected him. "Jack hasn't been seen for a few weeks and Xander hadn't done some coursework or something... it was whatever he normally gets sent there for."

"They fought in detention..?" Giles asked. "But Xander never normally gets into fights with his fellow students."

"There were only three of them. Jack was bragging to the other one... probably just to annoy Xander."

Giles still didn't believe it. "He actually started a fight in the school?"

"I got the story off Xander later... Jack kept taunting him, and when I left the room it got worse. Jack grabbed him and threw him over a table. The other guy... Randal something, I think his name was... came to get me once the fight started."

"So Xander let himself get beaten up... that sounds more like him." Giles knew he was going to have to have another word with the boy.

"Only until the other kid left... either Jack said something else or Xander just decided there were no witnesses anymore... that bit Xander wouldn't tell me... by the time we got back, they were standing at opposite sides of the room and just about every chair and table had been knocked over, some were broken. Snyder's going to ask about the furniture, he always does."

"Sorry for that... we'll deal with it tomorrow." Giles promised her, giving her a kiss on the forehead as she made her way to rest before the night's activities would begin.

Ms Post waited patiently til Ms Calendar had gone. "And the fact that you let them have boyfriends."

Giles watched as the door to their bedroom was closed, then he turned to face the other Watcher. "I'll have you know that Mr Harris has done many things which we are to be grateful for. He was the one wh..."

"Resuscitated Buffy allowing there to be two Slayers. I *have* read the reports you know."

"And you *still* think him to be a bad influence on the Slayers?" Giles asked incredulously.

Ms Post seemed to consider her response carefully. "I find him a distraction... not only to your Slayer but also to mine. How you choose to deal with your own charge, is for the moment your responsibility. But when it affects mine..." she drifted off.

"And how pray is he supposed to be affecting yours?"

"He's friends with her... *he* is the one who persuaded her to attend this school."

Giles dismissed that argument, knowing Joyce had been the one that had done most of the persuading. "And how is furthering her education a bad thing?"

"She's a Slayer... what use do either of them have for skills that are designed to help them after school?"

Now Giles was getting annoyed, his voice was raising involuntarily. "You're suggesting that they just abandon even the hope for a normal life? Why don't they just lie down and die now?"

"I'm sure that your intentions to allow them to have friends, family, hobbies and so on are well meaning. In fact, I would go so far as to agree that they probably do provide psychological help for accepting what they are." She cut off his reply before he beagn it. "*But* training them to be the bestr Slayer they can be... now that would actually increase their life expectancy."

Giles hated this topic, and he was never impressed at how un-emotional Ms Pst could be in regard to the Slayer's lives. "I'd prefer them to enjoy what they can... people do say that quality is better than quantity afterall."

"Some do not agree with you... Travers for instance." She informed him.

Giles bit his tongue. He'd had enough run ins with Travers over the years.

Ms Post continued on. "What sort of Slayers are unable to find a group of vampires in a town this size?"

"As opposed to finding an inanimate mythical glove in a town this size." Giles countered.

"If those vampires come into possession of that glove... you will regret it. Trust me, you will regret it."


The Bronze.

Cordelia was here with some of the cheerleading team. So far she hadn't seen any of the scoobies arrive yet. 'God, it's dull being here this early.' she thought to herself. The cheerleading team had been roped into helping setup the Bronze for the beginning of the buildup to the team's last game of the term, which meant they were still there when the doors officially opened and all the students started to arrive. 'Glad to see I was right... you should never arrive somewhere at the very beginning, it's practically the dictionary definition of loser.'

'One more game,' she thought to herself. 'And after Thursday's game we have one more week til it's over. Yay for the Christmas holidays.'

She was disturbed from her thoughts by Amber arriving. "Isn't this so cool?" Amber told her, waving a hand towards all the decorations.

"Kinda lame really." Cordelia informed her.

"You should be showing school spirit." Harmony said as she arrived.

"They don't *win* anything." Cordelia reminded them both, then thought about it. "Do they?"

"Well admittedly they haven't had a particularly good season..." Amber began, but got distracted when the football team started to arrive. "Hmmm... Gary's here." she pointed him out, hoping Cordelia might be interested.

"She only wants you to go for Gary, so that Jason will be easy pickings." Harmony said, pointing at who Gary was standing next to.

"Tell you what... why don't the two of you go for Gary and Jason and see what happens." Cordelia responded. Nothing seemed less interesting to her at this point, than having to listen to the quarterback on a night when they're celebrating the football teams below average performance. 'I actually choose to cheer for these people.' She reminded herself with just a hint of shame.

Scanning the crowd for someone interesting, she spotted Devon trying to attract her attention. 'Loser...' she thought, she had had a brief thing for Devon before Xander. Her band member phase she'd considered it. But here, there were rumours about what she and Devon had got up to in her parent's hot tub. She was pretty sure they were exaggerated, that was to be expected, and normally she'd have clamped down on the exaggeration herself... but she wasn't sure how far they had gone. Or even if *any* of it were true.

Ignoring Devon she spotted the guy that Buffy herself had been chasing earlier that year. 'What was his name..? Oh yeah, Scott. Buffy and him hadn't worked out because of all the Slayer activities that he wasn't involved in. Well, if Buffy got my guy, I'm gonna show her I can make it work where she couldn''t. She had a little smile to herself; realising that she was in a semi-competition that only she would ever know about.

'A little short... but we can work around that.' She thought as she walked over to him.

"Hi." She introduced herself. "Don't you think it's a little early to be making an appearance."

"Hey Cordy." Scott replied. "I'm just here with a friend. He's had a bad time of it lately... you may have heard, his girlfriend died in mysterious circumstances."

'Vampire attack.' Cordelia thought to herself. "You here trying to cheer him up?"

"Yeah... I don't think he's enjoying it though. No offense but what did you want?"

"I was wondering. I was thinking. Oh god, how to do this... Have you ever thought about you and me..?" Cordelia said, after deciding that she was used to being the one that was getting chatted up, not the other way round.

"You mean if we'd continued dating?" Scott asked.

'I've dated him already..?' Cordelia thought confused. "Yeah... did you ever wonder why we ended?"

"You broke up with me, started dating Jake..." Scott answered.

'Least it wasn't Larry,' she thought to herself. "I'm very sorry about that."

"It was only two dates, I thought we had something... Guess you thought it was time to go through a football player phase or something." Scott said, not ashamed to show she'd hurt him at the time.

Unfortunately, Cordelia had no real memory of the event so defending her actions were nearly impossible, she was about to leave when she saw something in his eyes that might mean the attraction was still there. "Yeah... well, like a lot of girls, I grew out of that... eventually." She giggled a little bit at the last word.

"So what are you saying?" Scott tilted his head as he asked the question.

"I'm wondering if you'd be interesting in taking up where we left off."

"I *would*... but I think I need to spend some time with my friend."

"What if I could get a date for him too?" Cordelia asked.

"It's hasn't even been two months yet... I don't think he's ready." Scott looked past Cordelia and where Harmony and Amber were practically drooling over some football player. "And I don't think they're his type."

Cordelia took a look at the the group by the bar, "Don't worry... I'll think of someone else."

Scott smiled. "Tell me who first okay... but otherwise I don't think there will be a problem with it. We can only try, eh?"

Cordelia smiled back, "Course we can... we're only human..." Then as he left she muttered under her breath. "Well most of us anyway."


Same Time
Giles Place

Ms Post had finally gone. Stating she was going to be doing some more research of the glove. Giles went upstairs and entered his bedroom.

Jenny was sitting on the bed crying, she held her head in her hands.

Giles quickly moved over to comfort her. "Jen... what's up?" he asked, sitting beside her on the bed.

"My family wants me to move back home. Said my time here is done." She replied, not looking at him.

"I don't know how to break this to you... but you're twenty eight."

She laughed. "Its not that simple. They could disown me." She curled up into his arms.

"It's okay... it's okay." Giles kept repeating reassuredly.


Same Time
The Bronze

"So Faith..." Cordelia said as she approached the group.

"Hey C." Faith replied.

"Like the decor." Xander commented.

"Very... what's the word?" Buffy began.

"Footbally." Xander finished for her.

Cordelia ignored them, "Yeah... not important. I need to speak to Faith here."

"Me... what about?"

"How would you like to go on a double date?"

Faith's mouth just dropped open.

Buffy smiled at her. Xander was trying to stop a smirk becoming a proper bout of giggles.

Faith looked around, "I'm not... I don't..." She made an attempt at slapping Xander, "I'm not interested in the football types." she swung again playfully, this time making contact.

It was enough to set him off. "You and Cordy..." were the only coherent words as he broke down next to them.

Buffy hit him herself. "Ignore him, he's just being an ass. I think you should consider it."

"Who's the guy?" Faith asked.

"A friend of Scott's," Cordelia responded. "His girlfriend died recently... didn't say what of, but in this town the odds have always got to be..."

"Vampire." Faith said aloud.

"Another we failed." Buffy looked down at her feet. Xander immediately went into comfort mode, wrapping his arms around her.

"Okay... I'll consider it." Faith responded.


Elsewhere in the Bronze

Scott was sitting with his friend. "So what do you think?" He asked, trying to make conversation after the last five minutes of silence.

"About the band or the team?" the other guy responded.


"The team's always sucked... this shit just fluffs there overly inflated egos."

Scott smiled, at least if he was bitching about the football players he might be coming out of his funk. "And the band?"

"Music's still okay. Gone downhill since they lost Oz though."

Scott clenched his fists at the thought of his own insensitivity, he hadn't realised it was the same band. "I know he was your friend, man."

"Not mine. He was Debbie's." The guy replied, "So you're sure about this... I'm not certain I'm ready to get back on the dating seen yet."

Scott smiled at him, "Pete... trust me. You can say 'no' at any time."

Chapter 11

Next day at school
The Quad

Faith managed to catch up with Cordelia before classes. "Hey... so about this guy you're setting me up with?" She asked.

"I don't actually know him... least I don't think so." Cordelia admitted. "I told you all the info I had last night. Scott told me that his girlfriend died recently..."

"Yeah... his name's Pete." At Cordelia's look she added. "I was discussing it last night with Buffy. Pete's girlfriend, Debbie, was the victim of a car jacking gone wrong, well that's the official police statement anyway."

Cordelia took a brief glance around to confirm no-one was in earshot. "Huh? I figured it was a vampire attack."

Faith looked confused, "That's what Willow reckons but ho... forget that. Why do you think that? It doesn't match any of the circumstances of a vamp attack... no bite marks, no blood loss, and the cops aren't saying animal attack or gang on PCP."

Cordelia gave up. "Let's just assume I wasn't here, shall we?"

Faith pulled Cordelia along with her, to a more secluded place near the school's entrance. Most kids tended to hang around the grassier areas, or find somewhere where they could sit on benches or walls. "Buffy said she got a wiggins when she stumbled across the police cordoning off the area. Debbie's body was found just outside the entrance to her garage where it seems she was parking her car. The car itself had been rammed slightly into one side of the garage, like she'd attempted to park but wasn't paying attention and drove into one of the sides. Debbie's body was found a few feet from that. Buffy didn't know about the car being damaged and assumed she'd been killed walking from the garage into the house."

"But that wouldn't make sense. The car wasn't in the garage. And you said there were no bite marks."

"*That*, Willow and Jenny found out later when they hacked police files. And also the fact that Debbie's neck was broken in two places, seemingly with no struggle."

"But no bite marks?" Cordelia was confused. "So why does Willow think it was a vampire atttack?"

"Whatever snapped her neck did it very fast, so we're looking at a demon with at least some enhanced strength. Debbie drives a convertible. And Jonathan did ask her out last year."

"Still not adding it up... apart from the Jonathan angle." Cordelia commented.

"Willow thinks that Jonathan, or one of his minions, snatched Debbie as she pulled onto her drive. Dragging her out of the car as it lost control and crashed into the garage. He's then ready to feed from her when they get disturbed, unable to drink he quickly snaps her neck and runs off..." Faith shrugged, "It's plausible and it mainly fits the available info."


"It doesn't explain why the garage door is open."

"Maybe she has one that opens automatically?"

Faith pondered the possibility. "Hmmm... we'll get Willow to look into it."

"You know Pete sounds very familiar to me... like there's a rumour about him or something."

"His girlfriend probably died in your reality too."

"Yeah that must be it... though I can't shake the feeling... nah forget it."

Faith raised her eyebrows, "You're setting me up with him, you spill anything you might know."

"It must have been a rumour... like he was hooked on oestrogen tablets or something."

Faith opened her mouth in disbelief, "What sort of guy are you setting me up with?"

"Hey, that was in my reality. Maybe Debbie's death sent him over the edge and he used them to overdose or something... you can't back out on me now."

"Of course not..." Faith deadpanned, "Wouldn't want a death by oestrogen to be on my conscious... unless I was having a particularly bad time of month."



"So who's the girl?" Pete asked his friend.

Scott confessed, "Cordy hasn't told me yet... but she promised it wasn't Harmony or anyone like that."

"I'm not so certain about this... I mean it's pretty soon after Debbie. Pete you will be in control... I warned Cordy that you might be a little... delicate. Look once I find out who it is, if it's someone I know you won't like I'll make the excuses immediately okay?"

"Okay... but, for the record, I'm still not sure."

"Noted." Scott said.


The library

"I can't believe we've come to the library." Xander whinged for the third time.

"What..?" Buffy asked him; picking up a book at random, flicking through the first few pages and putting it back."

"You asked me to skip classes. *That* I don't mind. But you could have warned me, we were coming here. I could have mentally prepared myself for the chemistry class."

Buffy looked shocked, "You're saying you'd prefer to play with bunsen burners and little jars of acid, than spend some quality time with your girlfriend?"

Xander couldn't resist putting on the fake voice. "Heh, henh, henh, henh. Fire... Fire. Yeah, henh... fire's cool."

"Stop it!" She instructed, playfully swatting his arm. "You know I hate those guys."

Xander continued his impression, "Yeah, heh heh henh... those guys suck..."

"You keep this up and *I'll* never suck again."

Xander stopped immediately, "Never seen the show, never did the impression, have no idea what you're talking about."

"Better." She replied, stretching to pat him on the head.

Xander put the book he'd been purposely ignoring, back in a random place. "What are we looking for anyway?"

"We've been searching for half an hour and *now* you ask?"

"I might have known at the beginning, but since then the mindnumbing dullness of this adventure has got to me."

"We're looking for anything on the Glove of Myhnegon. Ms Post's after us to find it again... says if Jonathan and Trick get it first we're all in trouble."

"That glove thingie we didn't find when she first arrived. She's not still going on about that is she?"

Buffy sighed, remembering last night's debriefing. "All the time..."

Xander thought back, "But I thought that Legos-guy was after it... I thought the plan was to stop *him* getting it."

"It was."

"Faith cut him into little pieces with my axe. My axe that she *still* hasn't returned you know."

"You're point being..?"

"It's my axe... Now wait, I see what you were asking." Pausing to compose himself. "We couldn't find the glove to destroy it, so we destroyed the thing looking for it... you know... stopping the event, she *wanted* us to stop. Just by a slightly different approach."

"Well, now she thinks that Trick and Jonathan are likely to find it. So we ought to get it first."

"Are they even looking for it?" He asked.


"Unless it's the new fashion accessory for Jonathan's next vamp-whore, I can't see them stumbling across it."

"Don't tell me... tell her. She's a Watcher; their watcher-logic does not resemble our earth-logic." She commented, picking up another book and turning away from him.

"I still want my axe back." Xander huffed.

"You're round my house most of the time. Just ask for it... or just take it back."

"Look in Faith's bedroom... without permission?"

Turning to look him in the eyes, "I trus..."

"You're not who I'm worried about." He interrupted her.

She smiled, turning back to the shelves. "Big baby."

Xander stood directly behind her, and began kissing the back of her neck. "Buff," <kiss> "Buff," <kiss> "Could you," <kiss> "get me," <kiss> "my axe back..?"


The Old Master's Cave.

"What would it take to get power down here?" Jonathan asked the group of vampires in front of him.

All he got in return were a lot of blank looks and shrugs.

"Why do you want power?" Trick asked confused.

"We could get a television set, and a video player... and other cool stuff. I'm getting fed up reading books I've read before by candlelight."

"So steal some more books." Trick suggested.

"Or we could steal some decent electronics gear." At Trick's look Jonathan expanded. "Spike always told me to keep up with the times. Let's you know the most fashionable girl to eat."

"Beauty's beauty. No matter how you dress it up... they're either hot or they're not." Trick gestured towards a group of female vampires with a leer.

"These are cold... room temperature in fact. And they're *minions*." Jonathan informed him, as if being a mere minion made the animated corpse that much less worthy of his attention.

"Fine... so even if we steal some tvs, so you can get to watch hot women in music videos, how are you suggesting we get a television signal down here? Cos I ain't paying for shit."

"Hmmm." Jonathan mused. "I think we need to arrange something with a few companies."

Trick laughed out loud. "Are you joking... I ain't setting up no direct debit or nothing like that."

"I was thinking more of turning some of their field engineers, people who might have the skills to get us what we want."

Trick grinned at the thought, "Moonlight robbery. More my style... though we gotta keep a low profile still."

Jonathan rolled his eyes. "You're still not on about that. We *are* the big bads around here... regardless of whatever vibe you may be feeling may be telling you."

"I've been thinking... remember that group of vampires that came to take over a few weeks ago."


"I'm not so certain they were here to overthrow us... I think they were here to wipe us out on behalf of someone."

Jonathan hadn't heard this before, "What?? Why would you think that..?"

"If you're gonna overthrow someone you take out their leaders right... but you *keep* a lot of their minions. Just like when we took out Wendall's group that'd camped out in that mansion." Jonathan nodded his agreement to the situation's assessment. "Well, these people were systematically taking out our minions group by group... I don't think it was a warning, I think that was the plan. If we hadn't spotted them taking out the remainder of Wendall's people then they *might* have been able to ambush us too..."

"No-one knows we're down here."

"And we should keep it that way. I propose we start letting reasonable size groups start taking over places... for starters we could re-populate the main three; Wendall's mansion, Spike's industrial warehouse and Kakistos dockland warehouse."

"You saying you make it seem like we're always in one of them... but whichever they hit, we just happen to be in one of the others. I like that." Jonathan mused.

"And we'll be able to hide the *true* size of our group." Trick added.

"True size of the group?"

Trick smiled. "I've got plans for expansion... if you'd like to hear them?"

Chapter 12

That evening
The Bronze

Faith, Willow, Jesse, Buffy and Xander are all waiting for Cordelia to arrive.

"So she's in the gang now?" Jesse asked as they sat around a table with their drinks.

"Definitely looking that way." Xander said, nodding his head in the direction of Faith.

"What..?" Faith asked. "*This* C's kinda cool..."

"You threatened to *accidently* stake the other one, on more than one occasion." Buffy reminded her.

Faith shrugged, "I wouldn't have really done it... not a fatal blow anyway."

Willow smiled, "And Harmony..?"

"Until she gets replaced with a visitor from another dimension, I wouldn't hold your breath on any welcome wagons being rolled in her direction." Faith responsed.

"What sort of reality would it have to be where Harmony was part of our group?" Jesse mused to himself.

"You'd have said the same thing about Cordy last week." Xander informed him.

"Just cos the other you dated her." Jesse snarled.

"Hey... maybe in another reality *I* was the one who died, and *you* dated Harmony." Xander offered as a suggestion, causing the others to laugh at Jesse's reaction.

"I think I'm more comfortable with the thought of being dead." He muttered under his breath.

A calm silence went over the group at that last comment. None sure how they'd be if Jesse hadn't been one of their group. Luckily they were interrupted from their deep thoughts by Cordelia's arrival.

"Hey... So how you lot been?"

"You mean beyond the *joy* that was the last game of the season." Jesse said.

"You didn't have to come..." Cordelia replied, "I said I would meet you all here."

Buffy gestured towards Jesse and Xander, "I think they wanted to go watch for *other* reasons."

"Ahhhh..." Cordelia said understanding dawned. "So he's still a perv then?"

"Hey!" Xander exclaimed.

"Trainee perv anyway." Buffy commented. "I think him and Jesse swap their 'video' collection." She added, emphasising the word.

"Ohhh, I almost forgot about that." Cordy exclaimed. "He still got that nurse fetish?"

"What..?" Xander asked.

"You like nurses, Xan?" Faith smirked. "I make a great busty nurse, you know..."

"I didn't... and now the image won't go away." Turning to his girlfriend, "Help me Buff."

Buffy looked less than amused, "How come *she* gets to know about the contents of your video collection and I don't,"

"It's not me... It was the other me... I don't know what they got up to... just as she doesn't know what we get up to." Xander reasoned.

"If you do want some Nurse vids, Jesse's got a few..." Willow offered, causing Faith to break down laughing.

"Willow!!" Jesse squeaked, holding his head in his hands.

"What..? If he borrows the Naughty Nurse one, we can get Spanked Secretary back..."

"Willow!!!" Both Jesse and Xander shouted at the same time; whereas Buffy was giving Xander a death-glare having had her suspicions confirmed.

"If Buffy doesn't want to watch Naughty Nurses with you, I will." Faith offered between giggles. "Should be good for a laugh anyway."

"I don't watch porn." Buffy stated.

"You lie." Willow said.

"You thought the Cheerleader one was cool... you said it gave you ideas." Faith said aloud.

"Hey...." Buffy shouted, then tried defending herself. "That was different... we were having a girly-night and we decided to rummage through Jesse's video collection."

Willow turned to Jesse before he argued. "Don't blame me. You were the one that left it at my house. Faith found it, and we couldn't resist watching a bit."

"You know I *thought* I recognised some of the things you were saying..." Xander muttered to himself, Buffy went bright red.

"You have to invite me to the next girl's night." Cordelia informed them.

Buffy had recovered enough to respond. "With any luck Faith will be getting some by then, and not suggest watching filth." She said, trying to sound as proper as she could.

"You guys are so much more fun than in my dimension." Cordelia said.

"See..." Faith stuck her tongue out at Buffy. "Prude."


Later that evening.

"So..." Faith began, "How's your first official patrolling feel so far?"

"I hav..." Cordelia started.

"I meant in our dimension." Faith corrected herself.

"Well... it's cold. We've seen five disturbed graves and no vampires. Seems pretty standard to me. It's just this is boring..." She shouted the last part hinting that the other member of their gang should hurry up. Though she didn't want to admit it, five graves on the same area of cemetary was a little odd.

Xander came from behind a tree. "What..? I was as fast as I could be."

"Why can't men learn to hold it?" Cordelia asked.

"I offered to hold it for him." Faith said as Xander quickly joined them.

"It must be how most males get turned. Taking a leak in the bushes." Cordelia mused.

"Har har." Xander replied, as he got within earshot.

"Remember Xan... More than three shakes and it's a wank..." Faith smiled.

"Can you stop quoting Ripper to me all the time." Xander responded.

"But he had some classic slang words... I'm trying to add them to my vocabularly. Most of the teachers don't even call you on them."

"Glad it has it's uses." Xander deadpanned, "What is it with you and foreign swear words anyway?"

"You should always know the rude words from every language." Faith informed him.

Xander just sighed, while Cordelia watched amused.

"When did you meet Ripper anyway? He was before my time." Cordelia asked.

"Few weeks ago... Ethan came to town again." Faith responded.

"Ewwww... don't remind me." Xander winced at the thought.

"Come on... even I thought she was kinda hot." Faith said.

"That night was just scary..." Xander said, thinking back.


Meanwhile, a different cemetary.

"So what do you guys *really* think about Cordelia?" Buffy asked, genuinely curious.

"It's a definite improvement." Willow said, "She hasn't really said anything nasty about *anyone* since she's been here. I expected her to be better about us... but everyone?"

"I know..." Jesse agreed, "Seems dating the XanMan did her some good."

Buffy thought about it.

"You're not jealous are you Buff?" Willow asked.

"Cos if he doesn't cheat on you with Faith... Cordelia isn't really a competition."

"It's not that..." Buffy conceded, "Well, it's not all that. It's just, she's had a relationship with him... she's basically the closest thing there is to a major ex. And while we've been together for two years, so any exes we may have could be written off as childhood crushes... she's current. She's new... I mean, in her reality how long ago did they break up?"

"What are you getting at?" Willow asked.

"We were like you two... you know. The high school romance that blossomed. Hell, we even lost our virginity together."

"That hasn't changed Buff." Jesse said trying to sound reassuring.

"But *she*... *they* could have lost their virginities together. She could have thought the exact same things I did... have... about where me and Xander might end up."

"Xander loves you... and no ex could ever break that up." Willow told her. "I've known him for a long time... we both have..." Jesse nodded his agreement, "He loves you."

"But she's not an ex... and you know the Xander I do... none of us know *hers*. What if she knows stuff I don't..?" She said remembering all the joking about his taste in dirty videos.

Jesse thought about it, "You probably know stuff she doesn't."

"But he's my boyfriend... I'm supposed to."

"I still think he loves you." Willow stated.

"But he could love her... he did somewhere else. And what if she's the same as me... hell before I became the Slayer I practically was her."

Willow remembered the discussion during the run up to the Homecoming dance. "Buffy, you've told us about how you used to be like that. But you're not now, and Xander loves you."

"But Cordy's not like that either... face it, she practically is me... we both used to be the homecoming queen, spring festival queen, whatever else we could queen, and we both grew out of it as we became aware of the supernatural world... she's me, but without the Slayer baggage."

And that was the root of Buffy's doubt both Jesse and Willow realised at the same time.

"Let's go find some nasty vamps to take it out on." was all Willow could suggest.


Half an hour later

Cordelia, Faith and Xander turned into the entrance to yet another cemetary when they heard it, the sounds of a fight.

Faith was immeidately off like a shot, heading in the direction of the noise. Xander grabbed Cordelia's hand and dragged her along, trying to force her to keep up.

As they got past the crest of the hill they saw it. Buffy was facing off against five vamps, keeping them from getting close with what looked like a five foot piece of wooden fence. Jesse and Willow were backed against a crypt, trying to hold two vamps off in a delaying tactic so that Buffy could aid them.

Faith grabbed her stake and ran down the hill to Buffy's aid. Xander and Cordelia grabbed theirs and followed her, heading towards Jesse and Willow.

Jesse was covering Willow as best he could. A stake in each hand he was waving them warningly in the direction of the vampires.

They were smiling at him, knowing that the couple in front was going to be dinner. Unfortunately there had been three of them to begin with and the boy had managed to stake the first that went in for the kill. 'Should have realised they'd be trouble when the other girl had proven herself to be a some sort of mystical warrior woman.' the larger one thought. But still they stood, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Willow was okay with the waiting game. Buffy had managed to dust the first couple with ease. But that was before she'd lost both stakes, and before they'd been lured deeper into the cemetary. When the group of vampires had split in order to best kill them, initially she'd been worried. But Jesse had managed to kill one of the trio dealing with them, all it'd taken was her to throw her stake at it's face distracting it's attention away from Jesse killing blow. That still left her one stake, the other on the ground where it had landed. 'Two vampires left,' she thought, and then she spotted the group and the top of the hill, 'and we've got reinforcements heading our way.' She tapped Jesse gently on the back, and whispered "Hilltop," making him glance in that direction. He nodded once he'd identified what she was talking about. It was just a matter of time.

Seeing Faith coming to her aid, Buffy relaxed. She closed her eyes for a split second, saying a silent thank you for the reprieve. Noticing the lack of attention, two of the vampires moved; sensing this Buffy opened her eyes again, automatically swinging the fence panel into the first approaching vampire's face. The force of the blow breaking off the end of the panel, and causing the vampire to been thrown back about ten feet. The second vampire had ducked when his colleague went into the air. Now standing a few away from her, they were facing one another. Neither willing to make the first move.

Buffy was staring directly at it, while trying to keep as many of the vamps as she could in her line of vision. She monitored its face, waiting for any sign that could betray a sudden movement, when she caught it glimpse over her shoulder. 'The fifth vamp!' she thought, after making a quick count of those she could see. Faith was still twenty feet away from her, and unable to provide any immediate help.

She quickly turned to locate the final vampire, saw that it was rapidly creeping up on her. The sound of movement made her realise that the vampire she'd been standing facing had moved. Returning her vision to his direction she saw he was closing the gap, another sound informed her the one behind had moved as well.

Chapter 13

Buffy swung the panel around, catching the first vampire in its side, the glancing blow doing nothing more than knocking it over; maintaining the momentum of the swing she continued her spin lifting the broken end of the fence panel up, succeeding in slashing the second vampire across it's face. Still facing the second vampire, she twirled the panel around, staking the fallen vampire where it still lay. "Would've been easier with a post." She told it while shrugging.

The vampire put a hand to the scratches across it's face. "You'll pay for that bitch!" He told her.

"I'm sure I will." Buffy replied sarcasticly, "Hey Faith..." she offered as a greeting, forcing the vampire to turn to see where the second Slayer had entered the battle.

Faith had dusted the vampire that was getting up from where it'd been hit, without pausing. She ducked and rolled under another's wild swing. "Hey B." She said as she got to her feet, right behind a vampire who'd been watching the other two face Buffy. Staking it quickly she added, "Nice weapon... want a real one?"

Buffy caught the spare stake Faith had casually tossed her way. "Thanks... talking of which, Xander wants his axe back."

Faith turned to face her remaining opponent. "No way. I like that axe."

Buffy dropped the fence panel, and walked towards the injured vampire. "Well... I said I'd ask. Hey you, you said something about making me pay?"

Meanwhile, Xander had got to the vampires first. He dived in, attacking the larger one with a tackle to it's torso, successfully taking them both to the ground. "Kill it!" He ordered.

Jesse went to stake the creature, only to find it blocked his thrust. Punching it in the face, he tried again. This time the creature blocked the move with his arm, and got a return punch on Jesse. Xander was trying to use his entire bodyweight to stop it getting back to it's feet. Suddenly a scream from Willow distracted both Jesse and Xander.

The other vampire had used its opportunity to face Willow alone. She'd attempted to stake it, but it had simply knocked her last stake out of her hand. Now it had managed to grab her and was moving her into a position to feed. "Help her." Xander ordered from his place from beneath the vampire.

Decision made, Jesse turned and headed towards his girlfriend. "Hey fangface," he called, desperate to stop her biting Willow. "Yeah you. You always pick on girls or you man enough to face me?"

Willow used the opportunity to knee it in the groin. Something that should have been more effective than it was. The vampire had curled over, but was still standing and still had a hand on Willow's arm restricting her escape.

Cordelia had finally got to the bottom of the hill, and sizing up the situation ran towards where Xander was in the process of losing a wrestling match.

Jesse had moved once the vampire was bent over. Quickly staking it in the back, he kissed his girlfriend as it turned to dust. "You okay babe?"

"MMmmmm." Willow noded, looking over to where Cordelia had just reached the others.

Xander had been overpowered. The vampire had managed to pin him to the ground. Vampiric strength easily holding Xander's own arms down; one over his head, the other by his side. He was struggling but the vampire was leaning in for the bite, utilising his only free limbs, he tried kicking and kneeing the vampire. Cordelia was about a foot away when he started this. One his kicks caught Cordelia's own ankle and succeeded in tripping her.

"Ow." She whined as she fell forwards on top of the vampire. Panicking she lifted the stake and, holding it in two hands, she held it to her chest, pointy end facing outwards.

She closed her eyes and braced for impact; she landed bodily on top of the vampire. Opening her eyes she could see Xander below her, looking directly into the face of the demon. Which then promptly exploded in a cloud of dust, Cordelia realised that she was falling again, and this time the stake would be piercing Xander's torso. She twisted her body as best she could, moving the weapon out to arms length in an attempt not to stake her ex.

Buffy and Faith were hurrying back, having finished off their own opponents and seeing if the others could use any help. They had been heading in Xander's direction when they'd seen the vampire dust, and Cordelia land heavily on Buffy's boyfriend.

"Mother Fuck..." Xander cried out, cutting off the end of his own comment as he bit into his lip.

Buffy just raised her eyebrows at the scene in front of her. Cordelia was practically lying in the arms of *her* boyfriend. Rushing over to put a stop to that, she saw Cordelia sit up.

Cordelia realised whose arms she was in, and sat up before she found it too comfortable. However she wasn't impressed with his comment on the situation. "You saying I'm fat..? Cos Slayer's boyfriend or not, she won't be ab..." Cordelia drifted off when she looked to where he was staring. Directly at where the stake had pierced his upper arm. 'Her stake,' she corrected herself.

"God... I'm sorry... I didn't mean to. I was trying to avoid stabbing you with it." She began, climbing off him.

The others quickly rushed around, Willow carefully removing the stake and applying pressure to the wound.

"You sure that's the right thing to do?" Cordelia asked, while the Slayer gently lifted him to his feet.

"You wanna go to emergency with that still in him? What could it be explained as..?" Willow told them.

"I'll be fine... just a few stitches and I'll be fine." Xander said through clenched teeth.

"It's better to be staked than to be deaded." Jesse commented, trying to lighten the mood.

"Deaded?" Willow asked with arched eyebrows.

Jesse shrugged, "It was that or eated..."

Willow shook her head, turning her attention back to the wound.

"You sure you're okay?" Buffy asked concerned.

"Add lots of painkillers to that list." Xander commented, as they began walking towards the hospital.

"So... climbing a tree and fell on a fence post?" Faith suggested.

"Isn't he a bit old for climbing trees?" Willow asked.

"It was a dare... or a challenge... to prove he wasn't scared of heights..." Faith drifted off. "We were trying to sneak into the school..?"

"That makes Snyder ask questions." Jesse reminded her.

"We've got a mile or so... we'll think of something." Faith muttered, deep in thought.


Another part of the cemetary.

"I can't believe you sacrificed ten vampires." Trick complained as they watched the group leave the grounds.

Jonathan put down his video camera. "They were fledglings, they would never be anything more than minions at best."

"Ten is a lot of vampires." Trick continued to argue.

"There were more like fifteen... just some didn't stay to get in the fight." Jonathan hit rewind and watched the picture search back to the beginning.

"And where are they..?"

"The Bronze..? The University..? Who cares..?" Jonathan shrugged.

"We're trying to build a gang here... and what are you doing..?"

"It's called Surveillance. Spike told me to always know your enemy." Jonathan lectured.

"At the cost of ten minions?"

"At any cost."

Trick looked doubtful, "I'm not sure about this."

Jonathan pressed play, and started watching the video he'd just made while replying. "Look at it this way... whose idea was it to turn all these guys and bury them in sections of the cemetary near one another? And using old graves to bury them in... unless they're actually checking the earth to see if it's been recently dug, then most of those people get overlooked. The tombstone isn't new, they don't expect the corpse to be fresh... which means?"

Trick thought it through, "Unless they're paying attention they wouldn't expect vampires to rise out of it... genius."

"So if we're burying them ourselves, where we choose to... Then this helps us in our attempt to hide our numbers... which is what you wanted. The number of vampire attacks go down... the number of missing people go up."

"And the Slayers can't be sure about anything anymore... Man. I *like* this plan."

Jonathan mock bowed. "Hoped you would, thought it up myself. Now, let's go call out the electric company... it seems there's no power to my house."

"Let's go do just that." Trick replied.


The next morning.

Joyce awoke when her alarm went off. 'Didn't hear the girls last night.' she thought, a little worried. Getting dressed she made her way onto the landing. Pausing at their doors to see if she could hear anything. Unsure she made her way downstairs, 'I'll make breakfast and shout them to see if they're in.'

At the bottom of the stairs she could hear snoring from the living room, 'Maybe they fell asleep watching television,' she thought but dismissed it because she normally heard that. Curious she opened the door to the room.

Where she found Xander asleep on the sofa. Dressed only in a pair of jeans and sporting some bandages on his upper left arm. 'Maybe I should wake him. Tell him it's okay if he sleeps in Buffy's room.' She decided against it though, realising how embarrassed he would be. 'And I think I've caused him enough embarrassment already.' She figured, leaving the room quietly. 'I'm amazed he can even look me in the eye. Mind you, I have troubles remembering to look him in the eye,' she giggled to herself quietly.

She started getting food to prepare out of the fridge. 'Breakfast for four then.'


Twenty minutes later

The four of them sat around the breakfast table.

Joyce had practically given up trying to get Buffy to eat. 'Lord knows, I understand that girls don't want to lose their figure, but she's going to be skin and bone if she keeps this up.' Smiling, she looked over to where Faith and Xander were trying to devour everything in front of them.

'Why can't she eat more like Faith... I mean no-one can say that girl is overweight.' Joyce wondered, 'It could be that she *is* eating like a normal girl her age, but as Faith always says, with the Slayer metabolism she really doesn't need to worry about calories. And Xander... well, Xander's a growing boy... and they always try to eat you out of house and home.'

She returned her attention to where Xander was teasing Faith. "So... did you hear? Faith is going on a blind date."

Joyce smiled at turned to the other Slayer. "Is this true? What's his name?"

Faith waited til she finished chewing before responding. "You are so dead Harris. Yes... so I have a date... it's not that big a deal you know."

Buffy just grinned at the good natured teasing. "It's been a while."

"Tell me about it." Faith responded.

Everyone else around the table blushed, "Not what I meant." Buffy added, refusing to even make eye contact with her mother.

Joyce smiled. "Just remember the house rules."

Faith smirked back. "No boys in your room unless its a serious relationship... or you think you can get away with it."

Joyce caught the look of embarrassment that crept on both Buffy and Xander's face. 'Maybe he didn't spend the whole night on the sofa then.' She decided to let them be, well if they want to sneak around, it's not my fault they won't just ask... don't think I'd have that problem if it was Faith with the serious boyfriend.' She mused before adding, 'Think it'd be more of a miracle if Faith ever admitted she was *in* a serious relationship, the sex part of it she wouldn't be bothered by.' She thought sadly to herself, feeling bad that a girl of such a young age would be experienced in the physical aspects but not the emotional ones.


Sunnydale High.
The library

Cordelia entered the library to see Xander sitting at the table, and Buffy talking to Giles next to his office. "Xander!!" Cordelia shouted, this being the first time today that she'd seen him. "How are you?"

"Not too bad." He replied truthfully from his seat at the table.

"I'm really sorry about last night." She said sincerely.

"Hey no biggie... you stopped me from being a snack, remember?"

"Yeah..." She replied, unsure of herself. "But there were two Slayers on hand who could have done a much safer job."

Buffy approached Cordelia from behind, resting her hand lightly on her back as support. "But we still had some vampires to deal with... you did the right thing... a little clumsily," she added with a touch of humour, "but still it was the right thing."

"My first vampire too... glad it was saving someone I ca... am friends with." She drifted off.

"So that was your first vampire?" Xander asked, tactfully sticking to the safer topic.

"Yep... not a bad job if I do say so myself."

"I'll give you seven for the execution, but zero for the dismount." Xander joked, causing both girls to smile.

"I remember my first vampire." Buffy commented. "Merrick took me to an old cemetary... at that point I still didn't believe in vampires. I didn't know how to use my powers at all. Missed the heart and everything."

"But look how far she's come since." Xander lightly punched her arm with his good one. Buffy just stared at him.

"So Mr. Bigshot... why don't you tell her about your first vampire staking... and how successful that is." Buffy teased back.

"Har har."

"You don't need to. *Really*." Cordelia informed them.

"It was a little embarrassing, it's no big deal." Xander said.

"Xander... you don't need to cover up when you're with me... *us*." She quickly corrected herself, noticing Buffy's reaction to the comment.

"I know it hurt you." Cordelia continued on.

"It got a few lucky punches in but I wouldn't say..." Xander responded.

"I didn't mean like that... I meant what it *meant* to you. Having to stake him."

Xander just looked lost. "It didn't mean that much... it was a vampire. It attacked Buffy when she was ill. It had to die. I mean, we hadn't started seeing each other or anything... but I still thought she was sexy. And even if I hadn't fancied her, I still would have rescued her because..." Xander mumbled to himself.

"He's cute when he gets flustered." Buffy said, then realised who she was saying it to. 'God, I really hope her and Scott hit it off. Hey hope, Scott. Scott Hope.' She thought smiling at her own joke, the others just looked at the peculiar look on her face and continued on regardless.

"Eh?" Cordelia said.

Buffy tried to counter her previous drifting off into her own inner monologue, by telling as much of the story in one breath as she could. "It was a witch, with a cheerleader fixation to rival Xander's. She put the whammy on me and made me ill. Giles, Willow and Jesse went to see her mom, who turned out to be her, the girl, Amy, that we thought was desperate to be a cheerleader, but really wasn't. Her mom was, but in Amy's body. Me and Xander were supposed to be tailing Amy, who was her mom, but we didn't know that, cos we weren't with the others when they found out. Anyway while we were tailing Amy a vampire recognised and attacked me, which I thought was cheating cos I'd only been here for just over a week, and what are they doing recognising me in that short a time."

Xander interrupted. "And to cut an extremely long story short; she was ill, I staked the vampire. If you managed to follow all that."

'Oh God...' Buffy thought to herself, 'I'm channeling Willow, when the teachers ask her questions about her personal life.'

Thankfully though Cordelia had remembered her own version of events. "When I was blind. The cheerleader tryouts in your first year here."

"Yes." Buffy said.

"I remember now... Xander told me about Amy being a witch the following year after he hired her to cast a spell on me."

"Xander..." Buffy warned, wondering if he'd ever had a spell cast on her.

Cordelia looked confused, "But that wasn't your first vampire, you'd staked a vampire long before that... and you hate vampires. After you had to stake... Jesse."

Faith, Jesse and Willow had chosen that exact moment to walk in. "Erm... excuse me. Who staked me?"

Chapter 14

"Xander was the one who staked you... in my reality." Cordelia informed the group.

"Oh that." Jesse said, seemingly undisturbed by the comment.

"What do you mean, oh that?" Willow asked.

"That's some freaky shit..." Faith agreed.

"She'd told us that already." At their looks, he added. "We were discussing *my* death. It's something you tend to pay attention to."

"Right..." Xander said, "I think I overlooked the part where you mentioned it was me that staked him."

"Cos that story was *all* about you." Jesse teased.

"Sorry bro."

"No troubles." Jesse smiled back, grasping his friend's forearm. "Just don't do it again." He added with a wink.

"So was that a normal night?" Cordelia asked. "Not the vampires, the number of them... seemed a bit hectic even for a group with two Slayers."

Faith responded first. "That was a little crazy... I mean you were there when we found the graves... five all together like that. Only thing I can think of is that someone was doing some recruiting."

"Five. All at the same place? We found something similar just before we ran into the vampires." Buffy added, while Willow and Jesse nodded their agreement.

Xander thought about the implications. "Question is though. Did our staking all we found put them off their recruitement plans, or did it give them the incentive to create more?"

"Them?" Cordelia asked.

"Two guesses... and you have to guess one name each time." Jesse answered.

"Oh." Cordelia responded, coming to the same conclusion the others had. "Good job we have two Slayers then."

"I'll say." Giles responded, entering from his office.

"Dunno." Faith added. "If we have to spend nights like that everynight... simply to try and keep numbers down... it'll just be a matter of time." She conceded.

"We'd need a new plan." Buffy agreed with her fellow Slayer's assessment of the situation.

"They cannot keep this up forever." Giles informed them.

"Why..?" Jesse asked.

"Any ecosystem based on a predator-prey relationship has to find any balance."

"Eh?" Faith asked.

"He's saying it's like with lions and antelope on African plains. You can only have so many lions, else they don't have enough of a food source."

"So too many of them is bad for them... as well as for us?" Xander asked confused.

"In theory." Giles stated.

"Where's the hole in the theory?" Willow asked, confused.

Giles cleaned his glasses as he contemplated his response. "It depends how many they expect to survive. And they *can* travel to more densely populated areas if necessary."

"LA isn't even an hour from here." Jesse said.

"So we're fucked?" Faith voiced the feelings of the group.

"Possibly." Giles admitted. "We need to gain control of this situation before it all goes out of hand."

"Shouldn't we be calling in for backup... from the Watchers or something." At their looks, she added. "I'm not saying we can't handle ourselves... cos at one point we managed to defend a Hellmouth completely Slayerless." Cordelia responded. "Well Xander and Giles did."

"Where was I?" Both Faith and Buffy asked simultaneously.

Cordelia pointed at Faith. "You'd just been called, and hadn't moved here." Then she pointed to Buffy. "And you ran away after Angel bit the dust."

"So where was I?" Willow asked the same question, Jesse managed to stop himself in time.

"I think you were on holiday for some of it. Oz was here to help them though."

Buffy just looked to Faith. "I abandoned my post over Angel." She said, disbelieving she could do such a thing.

"Wasn't you." Faith reassured her, "But *would* you do it if something happened to Xander?" Faith asked.

"I don't know... I'd hope not... I *might* be tempted to take some time out if I knew you were here to cover me." She conceded.

"You got my back, I got yours." Faith told her.

"Always." Buffy agreed, turning to face Xander. "Seems you were quite the hero."

Xander started to look smug, but it was soon ended when Cordelia informed everyone. "Yeah. *Nighthawk* here, sorted out patrols and everything while you were gone."

Buffy smiled at him. "Nighthawk?" She asked.

Faith couldn't stop laughing. "Very macho, Xan." She commented condescendingly.

"I'd like to deny it, and remind everyone here that it *wasn't* me." Xander commented, waving his finger at everyone in turn.

"Oh it sounds like you." Willow added. "Remember when you went through your motorbike stage as a kid?"

Xander closed his eyes, realising what she was implying. "Oh god."

"I'm lost." Faith asked.

"He thought Streethawk was *so* cool." Willow added.

"And you still reckon Nightwing is the coolest member of the Bat Family." Jesse added, supplying the final nail in Xander's coffin.

"He is." Xander defended automatically, then realised what he'd done. "Shit."

"You go, Nighthawk." Faith teased.

"As fun as this is... he *was* good at it." Cordelia defended the Xander she'd dated. "And talking of sneaky little nighttime vigilantes. If you don't want to talk about getting help off the watchers, why don't we contact Angel... three fighters are better than two right?"

"Angel..?" Buffy asked confused. "Angel's dead."


Post Residence

Gwendolyn Post opened her laptop up and placed it on her desk. While waiting for it to boot up she carefully removed the handwritten report Giles had given her the previous day.

Opening a word processing document she began to type it up, reading some of it aloud as she did so.

"Faith and Buffy... Two seperate patrols... grand total of ten vampires... oddity concerning the burial patterns. Believe that current big bad is recruiting..." Gwendolyn summarised each section as she continued to type it up.

Smiling to herself, she thought about the situation which had lead to this predicament.

Soon after she'd arrived, she had realised that Giles still sent his reports in weekly by courier. Relying on the telephone to request aid or information should it be required more urgently. After the first few days of being unable to find the Glove, she'd realised that she wouldn't be able to stay any longer. Her initial attempts to leave with Faith in tow had been over-ruled. There was no way Giles was willing to let her leave with her own Slayer.

That left her with two options; she either left then and cut her losses, possibly coming back when she found more information on the Glove Of Myhnegon, or she found a way to stay.

Giles' lack of computer skills had provided such an opportunity.

She suggested that he be the one to look after them during the day. He was the one the Council had arranged a job at the School for. Therefore, she suggested, it would be easier for her to remain at home during that time. She could then be available for doing any research that was required, and for being the one to update the Council.

Giles' protests had been cut short, when she'd suggested the use of computers and email as the method of updating. 'Really Rupert,' she'd thought at the time. 'Living with a computer teacher, yet still being such a technical illiterate.'

When she'd argued that sending copies electronically was a far better means of communication; incorporating all the benefits of the written document, such as allowing the council to peruse them at their own leisure; while also having the benefits of instant communication that a telephone conversation would have, if you need to call them for anything, the fact that they can rapidly bring themselves up to speed as they should only be a day behind at most, would certainly have it's benefits.

Giles himself had been reluctant to change. Luckily for Ms Post though, both Ms Calendar and Ms Rosenburg had argued her corner; criticising Giles directly for being unwilling to enter the silicon age. Giles conceded defeat, but did insist of keeping up the tradition of the handwritten document by requesting that Ms Post send all original copies of his documents once a month. AS such a compromise had been made, which everyone seemed to be in agreement with. Not least of all Ms Post.

Giles also requested print outs of all of her documents, so that he could go over what she was sending herself. Each day she'd recieve her own report back, dotted with notes in red pen stating where she should expand on some details and other comments.

Pausing at the thought, she stopped typing and took a quick glance at the 'corrected' report he'd provided her with. Yet again it was covered in notes. She made a mental note to change her document to incorporate some of Giles' suggestions when she had time.

She quickly returned her attention back to the document she was producing. Soon she reached the point where she had to pay close attention.

The end of the night, when the Slayers gave their report on the situation. Reading through the last section of the document, she gathered the general summary of their meeting that Giles wanted to portray.

She concentrated as she need to work it out in her mind. And then began to compose her own paragraph, which covered basically the same information but ensured that *she* was never mentioned.

Once complete she re-read the whole document, to be certain that it felt in the same style that Rupert used. It had to be perfect if it wasn't to draw the attention of the council.

Satisfied she'd done another good job, she printed the document off and arranged for it to be sent via courier.

She knew it would inconcievable to anyone that knew Giles in real life, that he himself would be comfortable relying on a computer to send his work. But he may just be comfortable enough to use it to produce it. Again, enough of a change that wouldn't arouse suspicion, but wouldn't rely on her being able to reproduce his handwriting.

Still she thought. 'Keeping this up for any length of time is risky. I need to find the Glove before Travers starts proceedings for Buffy's Cruciamentum.'

Realising she was working on a deadline, she got back to researching the Glove of Mnyhegon. Once she had that, then there would be no reason to have to hide from the Watchers. Once she had that, she'd never have to hide from anyone again.


The Old Master's Lair

"And we have electricity!" Trick commented on the lights in the centre chamber.

"Watch this..." Jonathan said, pressing the power button on the television. "It's ALIVE. It's ALIVE."

"There's no signal." Trick said, pressing buttons on the remote. "It doesn't work."

"We have a video *and* a dvd player... we can always steal more things to watch" Jonathan informed him, pointing the small pile that some vampires had fetched for them. "We need to find someone from a cable company tomorrow night."

"Where is the electrician?" Trick asked. "He could fit out the rest of the rooms."

"He'll be back in a few days." Jonathan replied, not concerned.

"He'll be back?" Trick asked in disbelief. "Why would he do that? You told him if hooked us up with power you'd let him live... what, is he on commision now?"

"Couple of days." Jonathan waved him off.

"And he's coming back?"

"Well, think of it less as 'returning' and more as 'rising'." Jonathan informed him.

"You turned him." Trick said, smiling.

"He's a very useful man. All the time it'd take to hook up all the rooms, and that's just here. We've got three other sites remember? That sort of amount of time, without sunlight, well it's not good for a human... so I took that worry away from him."

"Added the fact that all the guys would be looking at his neck all the time." Trick added.

"Exactly... this time instead of worrying about becoming a meal, he can get his delivered. He's too important to risk getting staked eating out. If he does feel the urge to go, well we can provide someone to escort him."

Trick thought about it. "Gets his meals brought, some little hot vampire chickette to please him. Face it, as a human, he never had it so good."

"We should keep our employees happy." Jonathan agreed.

"Pity he's the only useful one." Trick mumbled

"So far." Jonathan corrected him.

"True." Trick said, "Television in every room, hot and cold running babes or dudes - depending on your gender and personal preference... man, every vampire in town is gonna want to join with us."

"And that's the plan."

"To the plan." Trick toasted, with an imaginary glass of wine.

"The plan." Jonathan moved his own imaginary glass and making a chinking noise as the two hands approached. "Next time we do this we should have some glasses of blood... it'd be far cooler." Jonathan added, staring at his empty hand.

Chapter 15

Sunnydale High Library

"Angel's dead." Cordelia asked confused.

"He..." Buffy's voice caught in her throat.

Cordelia stared at Buffy, trying to decipher the reason behind her sudden bout of sadness.

Xander quickly moved to wrap his arms around his girlfriend reassuringly.

Cordelia's eyes moved across the rest of the group. Willow also looked sad, Jesse was standing beside her ready, his jaw was clenched as though he was angry at something. Finally her gaze reached Faith, who was just looking at the others for the response. When Faith's eyes met Cordelia's, she simply shrugged.

Giles came to the rescue. "Angel died. He sacrificed himself to stop Acathla." Cordelia was about to ask another question when Giles suddenly continued. "Drusilla managed to open Acathla. It was something about their bloodline... we think Acathla may have been linked to the Master at some point."

"Okay..?" Cordelia said, unsure why everyone seemed so upset. Even in her own reality, only Buffy had really been close to Angel. "So what's with the..." She used her hands to gesture the four teenagers comforting one another.

Faith stood next to Cordelia and Giles, watching as the others moved off to the side slightly.

"Once we discovered what Drusilla and Spike were planning, we moved to stop them. Unfortunately, Spike had set it up for Jonathan to arrange a little distraction at the Bronze. In the end that took longer than we'd expected. During the fight, we'd had to split the forces. By the time Angel and Kendra had arrived at Spike's warehouse, the portal was already open." He paused to look at the others and their reactions.

"We knew that it could only be opened by someone with the bloodline of Aurelius, and as such it could only be closed by such a person too." He polished his glasses.

"We do not know the full details of the fight, but we think Angel had concentrated on Drusilla. It would have made sense as Drusilla's powers wouldn't have worked quite as easily on him. Kendra had taken on Spike. She did what any Slayer was trained to do... she was willing to give her life for the sake of the planet. When Buffy had finally made it easy enough for us to handle the Bronze situation, she immediately ran off to aid her fellow Slayer. By the time she arrived however, both Spike and Kendra were gone, and Drusilla and Angel were still fighting in front of the portal. Drusilla had managed to get the upper hand and got Angel with a sword through the gut. As she was running over to help, Buffy believed she heard Drusilla shout the word Spike before diving in herself. Angel then stood up, looked at her and then threw himself into the portal. By the time Buffy had reached the spot, Acathla's portal had closed itself." He paused letting them come to terms with that info. "We don't know if it needed more of the bloodline of Aurelius than Spike had, or if Drusilla needed to be the sacrifice as she was the most likely to open it. It may have been Angel actually closed it, as he was the only one bleeding when he entered the portal; we know the blood was required to remove the sword... in the end we just don't know. What we do know is that it took the lives of two champions in order to close it."

Faith just looked shocked, while Cordelia seemed desperate to ask another question.

"It should have been me." Came the quiet voice of Buffy from across the room.

"Don't say that." Xander automatically said, tightening his hold on her.

"It should." Buffy commented. "*I* was the elder Slayer. If anyone's time was up, it was me... I've been living on borrowed time since you brought me back anyway."

"No B." Faith said, "You can't think like that..."

Jenny walked into the library at this point. Seeing all the faces in front of her, she asked. "What's happened?"

"We were just informing Faith and Cordelia about what happened to Kendra." Giles informed her.

"Oh." She said nodding.

Faith moved over to comfort her fellow Slayer, hugging her from the opposite side to Xander. "B... without you my life would have been shit. I'd have probably kept running... until one day Kakistos would have caught up with me."

Buffy released her grip on Xander and turned to hug Faith back. "You wouldn't... you *would* have been welcome here. Giles would have been your Watcher, and you'd..." Buffy drifted off.

"B. I know you mean well... but we both know that if you'd just died, then there was no way Joyce was going to let another Slayer live in her house."

"We would have arranged *something*." Willow stated confidently.

"It's not like I'd have been welcome at yours, Red. And Xander and Jesse's get written off immediately. Face it, I'd have remained in that motel until the bitch came along to collect me. And god knows where I'd have gone from there."

Giles considered reprimanding Faith for what she'd called Ms Post, but after all the arguments he'd had with her himself, he *knew* that if Ms Post could, she would have taken Faith to god knows where once she'd arrived. 'And I've often thought worse things about her myself.' Deciding he did need to calm the Slayer's down, and get them off this upsetting topic, he did comment however. "And *that* Ms Chase, is why Angel is not around to help us."

"Okay..." Cordelia said, staring at where Buffy was still wiping away tears and hugging Faith. "I don't know if this makes Buffy feel better or not... but in *my* reality. Kendra died around the same time... well a day or so earlier truthfully."

Buffy nodded, not really commenting on whether it being destiny or not made her feel better. 'I cheated destiny with Xander's help.' she figured, 'and it seems I cheated destiny in Cordelia's too.'

"But *that* isn't what I'm getting at." Cordelia commented. "Angel got sucked into a portal in my dimension too. But he came back... very animal-like from what I heard too."

"He came back..?" Jenny asked, a look of shock on her face.

"Yeah... what I'm saying is *where* is he?" Cordelia said, letting the group take that in.


Summers Household.

"Why do I have to watch this again?" Xander whined into his girlfriend's ear.

Buffy turned from her spot on the floor in front of him. "It's a romantic comedy... *I* like romantic comedies... you saying you don't want to watch it with me?" She pouted.

Xander smiled at the small woman sitting between his legs. Shaking his head at her pout, he quickly kissed her lips and answered as tactfully as he could.

"It's hardly very manly, Buff."

She raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "You saying you don't want me in a *romantic* mood..? Cos that can be arranged you know."

Xander grinned at her antics. "Buffy. You know I love your romantic moods... and under normal circumstances I love helping you to get in them... but this time... just maybe there could be other ways to have fun for the earlier part of the evening."

Buffy looked confused. "*Normal* circumstances?" She stared at his face, but it gave nothing away. "Soo.... what would you prefer to watch?" She asked.

"Nothing." Xander answered, looking for all intents and purposes like he had no ulterior motive. "I just thought we could go out... you know... just the two of us."

"And what's brought this on?"

Xander looked as innocent as he could, unfortunately it was a little too innocent and Buffy was getting more and more suspicious. "Everytime we go out now, we go with the whole gang. I just thought... maybe your romantic mood could be established from a night of it just being the two of us."

"We've got the house to ourselves. That is just the two of us."

"I'm not in a 'staying in' state of mind. I was thinking of taking you out... a movie or dinner... possibly dancing?" He suggested.

"I'm not saying it's not tempting, Hon." Buffy responded. "But I was hoping we'd get some *us* time. You know..."

She was interrupted by the sound of a car horn from outside. Suddenly it all made sense. Grabbing a pillow she began to hit him with it. "We. Are. Not. Spying. On. Faith."

Xander protected his head with his hands, "Oww... baby... Slayer strength."

The onslaught continued, "Repeat after me. Faith is going to enjoy herself."

"Faith is going to enjoy herself."

"And we will not be there to make fun of her."

"And we will not be there to make fun of her."

She stopped hitting him, and paused to look into his eyes to check his honesty. Raising her eyebrows she gestured him to continue.

"I just thought Faith would like some moral support." He attempted.

She hit him with the pillow again.


"And Faith's moral support was going to consist of what exactly?"

Risking a look he opened one eye from his curled position next to the sofa. Buffy was sitting on his legs, the pillow held threateningly over his head. "Eermmm... well... the plan hadn't gone much beyond following them to the Bronze."

"And then I suppose it consisted of staying in her line of sight? And making faces, or other things that'd make her uncomfortable? How about saying things just within earshot of Slayer hearing to make her laugh or react in not so good a way?"

"Hey that's good, I completely forgot about Slayer hearing..." Then he saw the look in her eyes. "Shit." he shouted as he resumed the foetal position as the bombardment began again.

"Honey," he tried when she paused again. "It's just... Faith *doesn't* date... We have to make the most of this opportunity."

There was a sound of a door slamming shut upstairs, Buffy quickly placed the pillow back over his head and held him there. Unable to turn to face the stairs.

Faith got to the bottom of the stairs. She turned to look at the occupants of the living room. Xander was lying down next to the sofa and facing away from her. Buffy was straddling his legs and holding a pillow on his head.

"Asphyxiation. Didn't know you guys were into that." Faith stated as she ran out to Cordelia's car.

Now that Faith had gone. Buffy lifted the pillow off of him.

"Now I didn't get to make fun of her clothes." Xander complained, as he climbed back into the sitting position.

Buffy waited til he got comfortable then returned to her original position of sitting between his legs, leaning back against his chest. "Sweetheart... you really have no say in that department."

"You heard her... how come she gets to say stuff about us but I can't say stuff about her?"

Buffy smiled from her position on the floor. "Do I ever normally stop you two when you're teasing one another."

"No... but..."

"This was top material teasing? Yes, I know. But she's not comfortable with it at the moment. Once she is, I promise you can start all you want to."

Xander grinned, thinking of material to use.

BUffy found the remote and rewound the tape back to wear they'd got distracted.

"Have you got a pen?" Xander asked. "I know I'm gonna forget some of this stuff."

She shook her head ignoring him. "If you find one you might wanna note something else down too."

"Yes dear?" He asked, trying to sort the thoughts in his head into categories. "If it goes well... if it doesn't... if she falls in *love*..."

"You are not teasing her if it goes badly!" Buffy informed him.

"Don't worry... the best stuff is if she's in love anyway."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

"So honey... what was your suggestion?"

"My what?" Buffy asked confused.

"You said you had a comment I could use against Faith."

"No I didn't." Buffy thought back to a minute or so previously. "Oh, I remember. I agree on the us going out alone thing. So tomorrow, you've got to take me somewhere special."

"Crap." Xander responded automatically.

"What was that?" Buffy turned around again. "You don't want to spend any time with me?"

"I never said that." Xander attempted to defend his comment.

Buffy turned back to the television and this time paused it.

"So what were you insinuating?"

This time Xander managed to reach behind him and grab a pillow of his own. "Nothing much. Just that I wanted to go somewhere tonight. Tomorrow might not be good for me."

Buffy's mouth opened a few times, doing a good fish impression. Grabbing the pillow she climbed on him again. "I'll show you what's good for you."


The Bronze

"You sure about this?" Pete asked for the fifth time in the last ten minutes.

"It'll be fine." Scott replied from his place on the opposite side of the table.

"Just that my last relationship didn't end well..." Pete mumbled.

"That wasn't your fault." Scott told him. "I know the police gave you a hard time... but you have to remember it *wasn't* your fault."

"Okay." Pete answered confidently. "I'm ready for this. Ready to move on."

"Good." Scott answered, then noted Pete take a mighty swallow of his drink. "Or maybe not."

"Dutch courage. You know?" Pete explained.

"It's not alcoholic." Scott gestured to the drink. "All you're gonna do is give yourself gas."

"Dammit." Pete replied, turning to face the bar. "Think we should get an proper drink?"

"No!!" Scott shouted a little too quickly. "We won't get served."

"I'll get served." Pete informed him, glaring at a specific bartender.

"I don't think getting wasted is the best plan. Anyway, they're here now." Scott pointed at the new arrivals.

Pete turned to face where they'd just walked in. "They're here to see *us*?" He asked, quickly glancing back.

Cordelia was dressed in a small dark purple dress. Designed specifically to reveal just the right amount of flesh. Her companion was dressed in black leather trousers and a tight fitting red top. She'd obviously chosen it to show off her curves. "And what curves..." Pete mumbled to himself.

"Don't you want to know which one yours is?" Scott whispered before they came over.

"Can honestly say I don't mind." Pete responded, Cordelia's friend seemed to smirk at the same time. "And you said you were gonna give Cordelia another try. Make sure she isn't as bad as she was."

"Yes well..." Scott replied. "The other girl is named Faith. She may have a litt..."

"Faith... Gotcha." Pete said. "Anything else, I'll find out the old fashioned way."

By now the girls had reached their table. "Hey Scott." Cordelia stated as she arrived at the table. "Buy two girls a drink?"

Scott smiled. "Hey Cordy. This is my friend Scott." He gestured to the other guy sitting down. "Scott, this is Cordelia." he gestured to the girl who stood at his side. "And this must be her friend Faith."

Faith smiled, and shook Scott's hand. Pete stood up so he could shake hers too.

Faith turned to face the guy she'd overheard commenting on her curves. Remembering a certain line from a comic she'd read as a kid, she said her first words of the evening, smirking as she did so.

"Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot."


Chapter 16

Later That Night.
Sunnydale Cemetary.

Buffy tried to hide her grin as Xander began whinging again.

"I can't believe I got dragged out on patrol... I had my evening all planned. It was going to make fun of Faith and then spend the night with my girl... I mean, as plans go it wasn't much... but I liked it, I was hoping you would too." He tried, looking at her with big innocent eyes.

"It's not my fault mom came home early." She explained. "Her friend wasn't feeling well."

"Damn Pat and her lightweight constitution... I mean what sort of woman lets her best friend down due to a cold?"

"We were going to have to patrol anyway... I gave Faith the night off." Buffy reminded him.

"Yes, but... but... your mom wasn't due back for another couple of hours, that left plenty of time for you to try and persuade me to join you."

Buffy pretended to look hurt. "You didn't *want* to join me on patrol?"

"I prefer the persuasion part of the deal." Xander responded, winking in her direction he added. "You look so cute when you pout, and then when you have to pull out the big guns..." He leered suggestively.

"We're not doing anything in a cemetary." She informed him in a serious tone.

"So no exhibitionist qualities then?" Xander sighed to himself.

Buffy leaned in closer to whisper in his ear. "I wouldn't say that... but I know our luck, that would be the exact point we stumble across some vampires."

"Yeah..." he sighed dramatically. "Talk about getting caught with your pants down."

She giggled as they continued to make their way across the cemetary.

She linked arms with him just as he looked at his watch. "The Bronze has shut now."

"So..?" She asked, confusion on her face.

Xander turned to face her, trying to discover if she really didn't know or if she did and she'd done this on purpose.

Buffy continued to stare back, wide-eyed expression making it abundantly clear that she had no idea what he was talking about.

"That means Faith will be home soon... and we won't be there to make fu... see how it went."

She grinned and playfully slapped his arm. "I was hoping to get chance to talk to her before you did. Then I'll tell you if its okay to make fun."

"No deal baby... next time I see her, it's on!!"

Buffy raised her eyebrows, "And what makes you think I'll let you get away with that."

"Oh no... see at this point, *you* owe me. I'm patrolling and we didn't get to lose that pre-patrol tension. I'm doing you a favour..."

"I have to really bribe you to get you to patrol with me?" She asked a little hurt.

"Well no... you know I love spending time with you, it's just..." He paused, contemplating what to say next. "Okay, this is better... *Faith* owes me the favour. As we're out patrolling so that she can pick up guys with her new best friend. So it's obvious that I get to say whatever I want to her next time I see her."

Buffy was silent for a few seconds while she thought about it. "But Faith will be covering for us tomorrow night. So in reality we're square."

Xander sighed, realising he was beaten, he was just about to give in when he tried one last attempt. "Okay... patrolling is off the favour list." Buffy smiled, thinking she'd won. "But..." He quickly added, instantly removing the smile from her face. "But... patrolling *is* part of the Slayer schedule that I agree with. So I have no problem helping out in that capacity."

"And..?" She asked, unsure why he was being so confident.

"Well, the after-patrol report meeting... personally I don't agree with that as it's unnecessarily boring. I'll wait outside in the car while you finish it up with the Watchers."

She looked shocked, "You've got to come in with me... I can't face them on my own."

"Oh no Buffy, I think you'll find I disagree. While helping ensure my girlfriend stays alive and fights back the forces of darkness is part of the normal boyfriend ritual."

"Normal ritual..?"

"A normal part of being the Slayer's boyfriend ritual then." He amended. "The grilling by Watcher's lies solely in the Slayer's hands. I've helped save the world and keep the hellmouth safe from nasty vampires... my role is done. Us non-destined people have to draw the line somewhere." He finished dramatically.

"You're really going to abandon me to face the vultures alone?" She asked.

"Yep." He replied, smirking he quickly added. "Unless."

"Unless what..?"

"Unless you agree that both you and Faith owe me favours for such additional work. It's like a bonus scheme."

"Fine..." Buffy conceded reluctantly. "But you have to make it less boring... or answer questions or something. Sitting there and watching me get the how-many-vamps questionnaire is not counted as helping."

"Deal." He added, smiling at her. "And I get to criticise Faith all I want."

"Sure." Buffy thought, deciding to give her sister Slayer the heads-up before he saw her tomorrow.

"So how much longer?" Xander asked, as they approached the exit to the cemetary.

"Just under an hour," she answered. "Figured we'd go through the town once again, then do a final walk through RestfieldCemetary." Staring at his inane grin she asked. "What's up with you?"

"Didn't think I'd ever win... I am so the man."

"Don't get used to the feeling... won't be happening often." Buffy grumbled, leading him in the direction of the town centre.


Giles Place.

Jenny Calendar was in the kitchen talking quietly on the phone. "So there is a chance he could be somewhere right now." She responded, listening to the voice on the other end for a few more seconds.

"I don't know." She added. "I got the story from... well it's not important where I got it from. Can you just look into the possibility of somehow locati..."

Reaching into the fridge she pulled out the milk. "I know it doesn't mea..." She continued to pour the milk into three cups. "Well considering this is where it happened, I'd say this was the most likely pla..."

The kettle clicked itself off, having boiled. She poured the water into three cups and started stirring. "Anyway, the only people he knows are here... if he does return this is the most likely spot to return to. No matter where he appears." She stopped stirring and listened for a few more seconds. "Fine. I'll wait to hear from you then." She informed the person on the other end, then hung up.

Carrying the three cups into the main room, she put them on the table and then stared at them for a few seconds. Shaking her inner thoughts off, she informed the rest of the room. "Right, this one should have two sugars," She said passing it to Xander, "And both these are the same." She mentioned to Buffy. Buffy took one of the cups and Jenny sat down with the other.

"You two sure you don't want anything?" She asked the other occupants of the room.

"No thanks sweetie." Giles answered.

"I'll pass on the coffee thanks." Gwendolyn Post commented, managing to put as much disdain into the word coffee as she could. "Americans." She mumbled under her breath.

"And proud of it." Xander whispered into Buffy's ear.

"I thought I heard voices." Giles asked, turning to Jenny who'd sat next to him on the sofa.

"Just had to call my uncle." Jenny informed him.

"As interesting as I'm sure the Calendar family might be," Ms Post stated condescendingly. "Could we please get back to the point where you explain why we appear to be a Slayer missing from this meeting."

Buffy gave her a glare before responding. "Faith took tonight off. Xander covered for her."

"And you think this shirking of her duty is acceptable?" Ms Post added.

"Well considering she's covering me tomorrow I think it's okay." Buffy added, feeling Xander's hand on her arm trying to get her to calm down.

"Really," Ms Post added, looking towards Giles. "And you promote this kind of behaviour?"

"I say." Giles added, not wanting to get into such a discussion with Buffy and Xander present.

"I don't believe that the Slayers should just take time off as and when they feel like it. At the very least they should be clearing it with us first."

"Well, luckily for me." Buffy added sarcastically. "You're not *my* Watcher. So I won't be present for tomorrow's meeting, and there's nothing you can do about it. So you can mark me absent for that already."

Xander managed to attract her attention by touching her knee. When she turned to face him, he raised his eyebrows and indicated Ms Post with his eyes.

Realising his intention Buffy quickly added. "And if you take *my* attitude out on Faith then... well, there's bound to be some sort of official complaints procedure where Slayer's can request another Watcher right?" She added, looking at Giles for confirmation.

Giles coughed to buy some time. But maintained eye-contact with Buffy. The message quite clear, they weren't going to discuss this now.

"I don't need to use yourself as an example of Faith shirking her responsibilities. I've got plenty of material from her own attitude." Gwendolyn added, ignoring the rather obvious signals that were being passed around the group. "And as for the Watcher's Council replacing the field watchers, I'll think you find that more Slayers have been replaced over the years than..."

"Is that a threat?" Buffy asked standing up.

"Let's just say that the council has..."

"Enough!" Giles stated loudly, giving Ms Post one of the most serious stares he could, indicating that he knew where this line of argument was going, and wouldn't allow for it.

"Idiot." Ms Post mumbled under her breath, but not loud enough for Giles to hear.

Meanwhile, Xander had to forcibly drag Buffy back into her chair. "She like this all the time?" He whispered into her ear.

She leant closer to Xander. "Yeah... well, after tonight you're officially allowed to tease Faith all you want."

"Sure you won't get jealous?" He asked, trying to lighten her mood while wrapping his arm around her and pulling her onto his lap.

Gwendolyn looked on, making tutting noises. Buffy could feel the stare at the back of her neck.

"So..." Jenny began, hoping to calm everyone down. "How many vampires did you get tonight?"

"Not many." Xander answered immediately.

Buffy jumped in before Ms Post got any chance to comment, "Three. And one of them was in town."

"Hmmm." Giles thought aloud. "So whoever was seemingly recruiting a few days ago, might have stopped..?"

"Or we're waiting for the next batch to rise." Xander commented. Buffy looking on approvingly.

"You sure you didn't just miss them?" Ms Post asked, not at all confident in a Slayer who went patrolling with her boyfriend. "You might have been distracted by..." She drifted off, indicating Xander.

"Bitch." Xander whispered into Buffy's ear as she responded.

"We covered all the cemetaries at least once. We only found once disturbed grave, and as we killed three I'd say we were up for the night."

"Up..? You *actually* consider staking more va..." Ms Post began.

Giles quickly cut her off. "So was there anything else of note, or shall we end this meeting for tonight."

Ms Post glared at him, but changed topic. "Has there been any progress in the search of the Glove of Myhnegon?"

Buffy was about to respond, but found Xander quickly whispering in her ear. "Her hymen's gone? Now that I don't believe. Who'd go near her... even for a bet?"

Buffy giggled despite her remaining anger.

"Hey, don't laugh." Xander continued determined to calm her down so that they could just get out of here. "We know where your hymen went."

She slapped him playfully on his arm, her complete attention on what he was whispering in her ear. "Xander the Slayer hymen-breaker, that's me..." Then he saw the look on her face. "Well, yours anyway... I didn't go near the other two... I promise." He added, holding two fingers up in the boyscout pose.

She leaned in closer to respond. "Firstly, you told me you and Jesse got kicked out of the cubs on your second day cos you accidently started a fire. And secondly, one out of three does not make you deserving of such a title."

"Okay... well I take you arguments and inform you I'm sure that you're supposed to get a medal for being able to start a fire, and as for the other thing, I'll have you know that thirty three percent is more than I've scored in some tests... anyway, Faith lost her virginity before she became a Slayer and we're not even sure if Kendra..." He drifted off sadly.

"Yeah." She answered back. Deciding to stick on lighter topics, she continued to wind him up. "You get medals for starting fires if done in a campsite style setting... inside the scout hut is technically arson and that's what you got thrown out for."

"So you're not arguing the Slayer Hymen Remover title... as Faith wasn't a Slayer at the time, it was a regluar hymen - therefore upping my score to fifty percent of possible Slayers I've met, a score that's sounding more like my regular tests... and as Kendra was an unknown... I rest my score at between fifty and one hundred percent... and I can't believe we're discussing this."

"*we*... no sweetie, this discussion is your own little sick mind at work... I'm not involved."

"You said..."

"Not involved." She stated firmly, turning back to face the others.

"Well..?" Ms Post said impatiently.

"Well what?" Xander asked, first to admit he had no idea what they wanted from them.

"The Glove of Mhynegon."

"What about it?" Xander asked again.

Gwendolyn leaned forward, eager to hear more. "I take it from your private discussion that you've had some success in locating it."

"Ermmm... no." Xander answered looking to Buffy for support.

Luckily Buffy had been paying more attention than him, "We had a lead... from Willy The Snitch." She added quickly, squeezing Xander's leg to stop the question that she knew he would ask. "Who we went to see prior to going on patrol... before he opened. Not that it was shut... just not very busy." Seeing the looks on the others faces, she continued adlibbing the story. "He gave us the names of some crypts to check out... word on the street and all that. But they all came out empty... glove-less the lot of them." She finished desperately.

Giles rolled his eyes and went into the kitchen offering to make a cup of tea. Jenny simply smiled at them.

Ms Post was too engrossed to notice the signs and sighed. "Okay, well... good. Keep an eye out... we need to get that Glove before anyone else does."

"Sure thing..." Xander agreed, standing up and yawning over-dramatically he added. "And I'm beat... if there's nothing else, I'll go home and crash. You coming Buff?" He asked as he started walking to the door.

"Yep." She answered standing up. "Going to get a lift with Xander... see you tomorrow Giles." She said, as she passed the counter that connected to his kitchen.

"Yes... Goodnight. I'll see you both tomorrow night." He called after them.

"No you won't." she reminded him as she closed the door behind them.

Xander turned to her as they approached the car, "So is it always like that?"

"Yeah..." Buffy sighed, "You should go more often... it's a hoot, really."

"I go the ones at the library." He informed her, sticking the keys in the lock to unlock the doors.

Buffy opened the door and climbed in the passenger side. "Ms Post doesn't go those."

"And that's why being a Scooby is so much more rewarding than being a Slayer... though the powers thing could be cool." He answered as he started the engine.

"I can't believe I have to go to both... it's so unfair."

"Well... that's destiny for you."

"Yeah..." she added sadly. "Destiny... destined to die early... lots of fun there."

"Hey, no thinking like that. Your number already came up remember... it was prophecised... luckily for you, you have a handsome boyfriend who is completely destiny-free... able to thwart other people's destinies simply cos no-one planned on him doing anything with his life." He said as he pulled off away where he was parked.

"If I can't be down on myself neither can you." She commented.

"I'd like to say for the record that I have no problem with you being down on me."

"Perv." She said, facing away so he wouldn't see her eyes light up.

"You're the one dating me... see that's a choice... my problem is purely genetic, it was out of my hands... tho it could be in yo..."

"Stop it." She asked, taking on a more serious tone. "Let's say I agree and that I cheated my fate... what about Faith?"

"Hey I'm still here... and I've got it on good authority that Jesse, Willow and Cordy are all destiny free too... couldn't string a comment in any of Giles's books if we'd bribed the prophet. With us around who knows what you two might achieve?"

"Guess, it is better to look on the bright side." She said, as he continued to drive her home.

Chapter 17

The Next Day. Midday. Summers Residence.

"So it's cool for you to cover us on patrol tonight?" Buffy asked as she buttered a piece of bread.

"Course... no sweat." Faith answered, rummaging in the cupboards looking for something to eat. "What's the plan then?"

Buffy smiled back, "He hasn't told me yet... says it's a surprise and I have to dress smart."

"Interesting..." Faith smiled, pulling a small box out of one of the cupboards. "Might get a few nights like that myself soon."

"So it worked out with Pete then?" Buffy commented in what she thought was a casual manner, while cutting the block of cheese into thin strips.

Faith grinned knowing the suspense would be killing Buffy by now, they'd been up for a few hours now and Faith had been determined not to mention anything until Buffy did. "He seems quite sweet... and god, I never thought I'd go for that kind of guy. Think you and Willow have been a bad influence on me..."

"Xan and Jess say the same thing about you." Buffy added, placing the cheese on one of the pieces of bread. Placing the other on top she put her newly made sandwich onto a plate while Faith pressed buttons on the microwave.

"Well as long as everyone's getting something out of the deal." Faith commented, turning her back on the microwave that began to heat her food.

Buffy waited for a few minutes and when the popping sound started she found herself unable to be patient any longer. "Aren't you going to tell me anything else..?" She finally asked in exasperation.

Faith giggled and turned back to the food. "No."

"It's your duty as my fellow Slayer to fill me in on the goss."

"No it isn't, it's my duty to help fight off the evils of the Hellmouth... anything else is non-compulsary."

"Why won't you tell me..?" Buffy pouted, knowing it wouldn't have much effect.

Faith didn't need to see her face to imagine what she was doing. "Cos you'll tell Xan... and then he'll use it against me... I've got a tough chick image to maintain you know."

"I think you've got that covered... most of the school are afraid of you. Even Snyder... I think he hates you more than he hates me... and I've got two years of trouble on my record."

"Don't try and sweet-talk me. I'm not giving you any details." Faith commented taking the bag out of the microwave.

Buffy tried a different tactic. "Hey, you already owe me for that... he was going to follow you to the Bronze last night and drive you mental with teasing."

Faith shrugged, opening the bag and tossing some popcorn into her mouth. "I figured he'd be up to something... was half-expecting the welcome wagon when I got back last night."

"And I got him out of the house at that point too... which by the way, you doubly owe me for."

"Why..?" Faith looked confused.

"An unscheduled night-off slaying. Your Watcher wasn't too happy with that situation." Buffy mentioned, biting into her sandwich.

Faith shook her head, sighing she realised she was bound to cop loads of grief tonight. "What's the Bitch want now?"

"Still on about the glove... and how we don't take things seriously."

"I can't believe how obsessed she is with that thing... like it's going to be the only magical thing on the Hellmouth that we've gotta worry about."

"Managed to keep her happy a bit last night... told her we'd had a few leads, but hadn't come up with anything."

"What leads..?" Faith asked, figuring she could always double check if it bought her even a little bit of an easier time.

"Made them up." Buffy confessed. "But you might wanna go see Willy for real... see what he may have heard."

"Yeah... I can do that." Faith sighed.

"Don't forget to take the others with you." Buffy reminded her. "It's always better to have back-up."

"Sure no probs... guess we could take a spin to the library as well. Get Willow to do some actual research, see what the books say..."

"You looked at anything yet..?" Buffy asked, curious.

"Not really, you..?" Faith admitted.

"Tried to motivate myself on some occasions but can't say I'm that interested... this is their department not ours."

"Yeah. Bitch telling us we ought to know how to do research for ourselves. Stop relying on others and all that shit."

Buffy thought about it. "If we do that and the fighting then what are they for?"

"Maybe we should ask them to behead the next Pragox demon that comes to town... that's always a joy." Faith stated.

"I'm not fighting one of those again unless someone magically removes my sense of smell."

Faith finished off her popcorn. "Tell me about it... and you've smelt Xander's socks."

"Yes and I'v... hey!!"

"You know they stink... I found the pair he left on the stairs when Joyce went to meet the art dealer."

"Okay fine... Xander possibly has the smelliest feet of any human we've ever met." Buffy felt a grin come to her face. "I must admit, there have been times when I've considered asking him to leave his shoes on while we've been in bed."

Faith couldn't stop the laugh, "That's genius. I am so teasing him about that."

"See..." Buffy commented, "You hear lots about me and Xan... you *have* to tell me details about the Pete scenario."

"We ain't that far along B." Faith admitted. "Not that I've been known to wait in the past."

"Don't care what level of dirt you have... just dish it." Buffy instructed her as they moved into the living room.


Later That Night.
Willy's Bar.

Jesse leaned nearer to Cordelia to whisper in her ear. "I really hate this place." He told her, nodding his head in the direction of all the various shaped demons sitting in the corner playing cards. "It really gives me the creeps."

"Yeah I can imagine." She whispered back, watching the bar where Faith was lifting Willy up above her head for what she considered a light round of questioning. "Some of these things look really icky."

"It's not that which bothers me." He told her. "It's the fact they get up to *normal* stuff. Last time I was in here they were cheering some football team on the tv. Demons have no right enjoying regular sports and playing regular card games. They should be doing something demony... or at least have some supernatural links."

"You worry about some weird stuff." She informed him. "Why are we here anyway..? They never brought me here back in my own reality. I'm not even sure if Xander has been here."

"Faith's questioning Willy." Jesse informed her. "He normally has some scam or something on the go... but we let Willy live as he's human and normally knows what's what on the Hellmouth... he's a regular little information booth."

They both watched where Faith had tossed him onto some of the more cushioned seats.

"Willy, Willy, Willy... we've done this dance so many times. Why don't you just tell me what I need to know and no-one will get hurt... much." Faith informed him, as she leaned down to pick him up.

Willy was fully aware that from this position he could probably see down her cleavage if he so wished. But he also knew that to do so would involve been thrown into the wall headfirst again. Last time he'd done that, she'd told him he made her feel dirty... and not in a good way.

"Slayer..." he said, trying to placate her into not causing any more damage to either him or the bar. In truth the bar was more costly as he knew a guy that was good with healing magic and he always owed him. Let the guy run up the bar tab, and Willy knew that unless it was more serious than a few broken limbs he'd be right as rain by the next day. Unfortunately, the Slayer was pissed and he might be in need of a bigger treatment than normal. "I'm telling you the truth... there has been no-one around looking for the glove since Lagos... who you guys already killed. I ain't heard nothing about it since then."

"Willy, you wouldn't know the truth if it came up and stabbed you in the leg." Faith stated, lifting him in the air by her left hand.

A large grey demon rose from it's seat and took a step towards the Slayer. Willow was the first to notice from her place where her eyes kept flicking back and forth from the doorway to where Faith was interrogating the bartender, "Hey."

Jesse's attention flicked from Cordelia onto Willow the second she made noise.

"I said hey." She repeated herself, lifting her crossbow up to point at him. The creature grinned, showing a very feral set of teeth, and turned it's head towards her.

Jesse lifted his stake and took a few steps in front of both Willow and Cordelia. "She said hey, you should really listen to the lady." He informed it, as Cordelia raised her own crossbow into position behind him.

"You think I'm scared of..." The demon began.

"Sit. Down." Faith instructed it, casually looking over her right shoulder while she continued to hold Willy just over a foot off the ground with her other arm.

The demon stood facing it the Slayer, apparently contemplating whether it could move fast enough to attack her before she could release the bartender and defend herself.

Suddenly the top half of the chair in front of it exploded into fragments of wood. Slayer, demon and bartender all turned to the source of the bolt.

"Oops." Cordelia said, shrugging before reloading another bolt into the weapon.

"Consider that a warning," Willow informed the room, quickly covering for the mistake. "Mine won't be."

Jesse was simply staring down at his left arm, currently not daring to speak. He quietly took a few steps back, ensuring he was no longer a possible target.

"You heard 'em." Faith commented, turning her full attention back to the bartender.

The others continued to stare at the demon, seemingly challenging it to move again. Willow aiming her crossbow at it's torso. Jesse waving his right hand, with the stake in it, in a threatening manner. Cordelia had by this point, reloaded the crossbow and brought it back so that it faced the general direction of the demon that was still standing.

The demon took a quick glance at the three armed humans and the Slayer before deciding to return to it's seat. Faith pulled Willy in closer and began whispering into his ear.

"Does this thing have a safety..?" She asked the other two, causing a subtle smile to appear on Faith's face.

"You almost hit me." Jesse hissed at her. "I actually felt the breeze on my arm hairs."

"You're not bleeding, you big baby." Cordelia admonished him.

Faith casually dropped the bartender on top of the bar and strode out past the others. They all followed, none of their eyes leaving those of the demons. "And if you're lying to me Willy." She paused letting that sink in. "Well, you seriously don't want to be lying to me."

Once outside Cordelia turned to Faith. "So did he know anything about Jonathan then?"

"Wasn't asking about that." Faith answered. "But he still didn't know shit."

All three of the others looked confused. "So what were you asking about..?" Jesse asked.

"That Glove thing." Faith responded.

"Mynhegon..?" Willow asked.

"Sounds right." Faith replied.

"You after that again..?" Jesse said, glancing back to be certain no-one had left Willy's place after them.


"Hang on..." Cordelia said, trying to remember something. "That the glove thing that the evil bitch Watcher wanted..?"

"That's the one." Faith responded. "And you got her official name right too... well done."

"Didn't Angel destroy it... or something..?" Cordelia asked.

"Might explain why we haven't been able to find it." Jesse commented.

"Saves me the effort... this Angel dude destroyed it... I can live with that." Faith agreed.

"That was in her dimension." Willow reminded them all. "We don't know what happened in this one as we weren't as close to Angel as..."

"Buffy was in mine?" Cordelia finished for her.

"Okay, so maybe the souled one didn't destroy it here. So we're back to square one." Faith sighed, realising she was never going to be rid of this burden. "We still don't know where it is."

"There was a book about it in the library." Cordelia casually informed them, at their disbelieving books. "Giles located it and Xander was sent to fetch it... that's when we ran into the whole Angel-was-back-from-hell problems."

"So Angel, Xander and Giles knew where it was... but not you..?" Faith clarified, thinking this was typical of her luck so far.

"But we know the information's in the library." Willow commented, quite excited. "Assuming that Giles in this reality has the same books as the one in Cordelia's."

"Like I'd know anything about that." Cordelia responded to Willow's questioning looks. "One dusty book looks the same as all the others to me."

"But we have a plan." Jesse stated, leaping on his girlfriend's excited tone. "We all check the library tomorrow, and if we find it's location then we go there. And if it's not there we assume Angel destroyed it here too."

Willow didn't look to impressed with the end of that statement. "That's a pretty big assumption. Anyway what if we don't find the location..?"

"Jesse's plan works for me." Faith informed them. "And if the book isn't there, what can we do..? Ask Giles to find out what he would have ordered in a parallel dimension..?"


Elsewhere In Sunnydale.

"Xander, it's an alley." Buffy commented, looking around.

"Shush... we're almost there."

"You're taking me to an alley..? This is your idea of a good night out..? If you wanted to go on patrol with the others... well I'm not saying I'd have been happy about it, but at least the honesty would have been an improvement on dragging me out under false pretenses." She paused, noticing just how deserted this particular place was. "And if this is supposed to tempt me into any outdoor *fun* like you were suggesting last night, well that's not going to happen... especially now I'm pissed at you."

Xander waved his finger at her disapprovingly. "Quiet non-believer. You dare question the honourable intention of his almighty Xanderness." He started leading her towards a doorway.

Buffy gave him one of his worst glares. "Really should have just said you'd prefer to go on patrol... it'd have upped your life expectancy a great deal. And the stupid voice had better stop as well... if I didn't know you so well, I'd assume you were leading me into a trap." He paused to open the door for her, gesturing for her to go inside first. "If there are vampires in here, I'd better find out that you're possessed or something, cos let me tell you I don't expect to be..." She paused taking a look around the room. "... to be taken to a fancy little romantic restaurant."

"It's just opened." He informed her. "It's French and there are rules."

"The French have rules..?" She asked confused, continuing to stare wide-eyed around the place.

"No, *I* have rules." Xander corrected her, turning her to face him, he expanded. "Although we are here in a nice little restaurant. I will remind you that it is French and this means it serves French food." She returned a look that just screamed 'doh'. "What I mean is that, although they may be on the menu, I shall not be eating snails or frogs or any part of an animal that I do not consider to be proper meat. You can, of course, choose to eat whatever you wish... but I think you ought to be aware that if you choose a delicacy," he added wincing at the word, "that your boyfriend does not consider to be real food, then you will not be getting any Xanderloving tonight... or in fact any night til I am absolutlely certain I won't be kissing someone with Toad-breath."

She turned to face him. "This is... wow... it's amazing. Are you sure you can affo..?" She began but he waved her question off with his hand. "Trust me... this earns you major Buffyloving points."

"Enough for public fun..?" He leered at her.

She grinned back. "I don't know about that... but let's hope my mother's gone to bed, by the time we're done shall we?"

Smiling he took her coat, and gestured for her to follow the waiter to a table. "After Tu, Madamoiselle." He said.

She looked back at him, raising her eyebrows in a silent question.

He shrugged, "So French isn't my strongest subject."

They continued to follow the waiter to an empty table. Xander pulled her chair out and allowed her to sit before draping her coat on the back of it. Then he sat himself down opposite her, while the waiter fetched some menus.

"Wow..." Buffy said again, this time staring at the various artwork on the walls. Xander simply smiled at her from across the table.

"I mean major wow." She commented, "If my mom isn't asleep then I guess we'll just have to find something to occupy us while we wait for her to go..." She added quietly, grinning back at him with a promising twinkle in her eye.

"Yes!!!" He replied, before apologetically looking around at the other customers.


Later That Night.
Somewhere on the road to Giles's place.

After finishing the regular round of patrols, Willow and Jesse had returned home. Promising to meet everyone tomorrow so they could take a look in the library and finally do this research thing tomorrow. Cordelia was giving Faith a lift to Giles's place.

"Thanks for coming with me, C." Faith commented, as they approached the driveway to Giles' apartment block. "Didn't think I could face a meeting of the Watchers club alone tonight."

"Hmmmm..." Cordelia thought aloud, as she slowed to a stop on the road outside.

Chapter 18

"I can't say I'm too thrilled at the idea of sitting listen to Giles lecture us either." Cordelia admitted, turning to face Faith now that the car had stopped at the kerb.

"G ain't the problem." Faith mumbled, staring out the passenger window at the apartment block.

"We could just skip it." Cordelia hesistantly suggested.

"Not sure it's worth the hassle." Faith regretfully decided. "There will be lectures on how we could have been killed, and how reporting in is vital to a Watcher's responsibility to their charge... or some similar shit."

"What if we let them know we're alive... but we control how long we talk to them for."

"Once you're in there, you're trapped." Faith informed her. "And this ain't like the library meetings where there's loads of us to share the..."

"I'm not suggesting going in there at all." Cordelia responded.

Faith turned her attention back towards the driver's seat to look at Cordelia, who was grinning while holding a cellular phone in her hand.

"Cool." Faith returned the grin and took the phone while Cordelia, put the car back into gear and started to drive away from Giles' place.

Waiting til they were off the street Giles lived on, Cordelia headed them back towards town while Faith dialled Giles number.

"Come on... pick up." Faith muttered, listening to the ringing sound on the other end.

Cordelia concentrated on driving as they reached an intersection. Faith's voice from beside her, let her know that someone had picked up at the other end.

"Hello, it's me." Faith stated. "Yep, Miss C can you put G on."

Cordelia waited for the lights to go green then made her turn left.

"In Cordy's car." Faith told the person on the other end. "Hey G..." She began waiting for the other person to finish before continuing. "Nah... not much. Staked a couple when out patrolling. Nothing like the other night."

Cordelia watched as Faith scrunched up her face listening to the person on the other end.

"Also went to see Willy. Came into some info on the mein fuhrer glove." She glanced across at Cordelia as she gave that last piece of info. "Reckon that both the location and a 'how to' guide for destroying the glove is in some book at the your library." She paused, obviously listening to Giles' response. "We got it on good authority G, the source is definitely trustworthy."

Cordelia beamed a thousand watt smile. Grinning she revved the engine and proceeded to speed up as she headed towards the Summers home.

"Yeah... we're following Red and Jess now... plan is to go down the library tomorrow and check to see if the info is good. Think we're gonna call it a night."

Cordelia revved the engine noisily again.

"Gotta go G... Jess is losing us and we're trying to keep up. See you tomorrow." Faith hung up before he could respond. "Man, these things are cool... saving time and effort for dealing with Watchers. Might have to get myself one of these."

Cordelia shrugged as she pulled up behind Xander's car. "As long as you're riding with me, then feel free to use it."


Cordelia stared at her.

"What..?" Faith asked, feeling a little uncomfortable under the gaze.

"Just thinking that I hardly knew you back in my reality, yet here you're the person I speak to most."

"Don't worry about it... no school, didn't live at Buffy's... doesn't sound like I was too social back in yours." Faith commented, trying to imagine what life could have turned out to be like if she'd kept the attitude she'd arrived in Sunnydale with.

Cordelia thought back to what she could remember of Faith, "You only really tried to bond with Buffy. Well, you and Xander kinda teamed up during the return of Angel but there were a lot of mistaken assumptions there." Cordelia turned away briefly.

"Makes sense... me and B have the whole chosen thing in common. And Xander's... well, he's Xander... guess if he's your ex, then you know as well as anyone."

"I don't know about you and Buffy, but you and Xander... I might be slightly responsible for you two not establishing the kind of friendship you have here." Cordelia admitted, feeling slightly guilty.


"When you came to town you were... there's no real way to desribe the first impression you left in your wake."

"Dropped quite a bombshell, eh?" Faith chuckled.

"Stories of naked alligator wrestling, priests and policemen... added to the fact that you were a Slayer..." Cordelia drifted off.

"Scared I might have tried to take your boy off you..?" Faith smirked, half joking.

"Yes." Cordelia responded in a serious tone. "I already told you that Xander had had feelings for Buffy for over a year before we started seeing each other. What I didn't say is that when him and me started... well we started... there were no prior feelings, lets put it that way."

Faith looked confused, "You think he had feelings for me... or me for him..? I'd only just met him. And if I hadn't seen how he treats Buffy then I'm not certain if he'd have rated much above the other high school guys."

"It's not that... me and Xander were kind of sudden. It was a response to the danger thing... least it was at first. But I knew that we were mainly built on attraction... so I was always aware that maybe one day that might have ran out... I kept an eye on Buffy for that reason, and then you turned up and I could see his interest growing towards yet another Slayer. It worried me... and I may have made sure there was a slight distance between you because of that."

Faith stared back, unsure what to really say to that. Deciding that Cordelia deserved the same level of honesty that she was providing, she quietly responded. "You were right to be careful... especially if I was only trying to be friends with B. I will tell you that getting another girl's guy, really isn't something I'm unfamiliar with. Would never do it to a true friend," she quickly amended. "But in general, if a girl isn't good enough to keep her man, then it's free-for-all in my book."

Cordelia nodded, accepting the truth as it was told. "I'm definitely good enough to keep my man." She stated, then thought about recent occurrances back home. "Least I am if I'm aware of where the competition is... I spent too much time watching Buffy and making sure you didn't get too close, to pay attention to Willow. Didn't factor her in as a threat... they'd known each other forever and even I was aware that she'd had a crush on him. I just figured that they'd decided not to take their friendship down that route... nice choice of timing of them to see if it would have worked."

Faith smiled back, trying to make it seem like a re-assuringly friendly one and not a condescending smirk.

"Well I think I speak for all the girls I know from this reality when I say that we're not going to try and take Scott off you."

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Considering I don't know where that's going yet, I'm not too worried about it."

"He didn't call..?" Faith asked shocked.

"We only saw them last night." Cordelia responded. "They shouldn't call yet, that's like a standard definition of uncool."

"Not too used to this officially dating thing." Faith conceded. "Pete called though, he seemed quite eager to see me again."

"Well duh." Cordelia responded. "Let me give you a few pointers so you don't seem too easy." Cordelia responded, not noticing Faith's eyebrows quickly raise. "You shouldn't expect a call this weekend. If anything he should attempt to make contact with you again on Monday at school. If we had agreed to go meet again tonight, then it would have been acceptable, anything else reeks of desperation."

Faith smiled, waiting for her to finish the mini-lecture before making her own challenge. "Or maybe it's just that I'm considerably hotter than you... and my guy wants to see me more than yours does you." She teased back.

"Puh-lease. You may be hot-stuff in the graveyard, but when it comes to living breathing male hearts, I'm the girl that always hits her target."

"Hearts don't breathe," Faith added with a smirk. "Anyway, I know lots of ways to make them pump blood faster."

Cordelia smiled back. "Face it, those two won't know what hit them."

"They should definitely consider themselves lucky that we chose them as the targets." Faith agreed.

"I knew I was going to get along with you." Cordelia answered. "I promise if I do return to my reality, I will do my best to make friends with you there too... any tips on how to do that by the way?"

"Thanks, you don't have to, but..." She trailed off seeing Cordelia's questioning look. "If you do want to... I guess setting me up with a potential nice guy to lay would be a good start."

"I'd offer to let you move in... but Daddy's a bit..."

"Hey... that's above and beyond, really." Faith said, waving her hands in a negative gesture. "I never expected B to invite me in. Thanks for the offer though. You want to come inside..?" She asked, pointing to the house.

Cordelia glanced at the car clock. "It's getting late... and you signed us all up for research tomorrow. If we do have to do it, we may as well be alert so that we only have to do it once."

"Suit yourself." Faith answered, climbing out of the car and heading towards the Summers home. "See ya tomorrow."

Cordelia waved as she restarted the car, pulling off she commented to herself. "When I get back I will definitely try to persuade Faith to move in. It's not like we'd be struggling for rooms. Daddy'll just have to accept it... he probably wouldn't even notice for the first week or so anyway. It might go down easier if she changed her dress sense slightly."


Ten Minutes Previously.
Giles' Place.

Giles hung up the phone and wandered back into the main room to speak to the others.

"That was Faith," he informed his fellow Watcher. "They've just finished their patrol and are heading home."

"Without reporting in..?" Gwendolyn Post asked, not noticing Jenny shaking her head in disbelief next to her.

"That was them reporting in. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. However they did get some information from Willy the Snitch. They believe the answers lie somewhere in the library, we will be meeting them there tomorrow."

Ms Post nodded, glad to be finally getting some help in that situation, 'Soon,' she thought. 'Soon, I can leave this place with the charred remains of the Slayers and their friends as a warning to everyone that I am not to be messed with.'

Remembering that for the moment however, until they found the glove, she had to keep up appearances. "Still, Faith is my Slayer," she added, looking Giles directly in the eye. "If she chooses to fill us in via a phone call, then I am the one who should take it."

Giles sighed and headed towards the kitchen to make himself a nice relaxing cup of tea. Jenny got up and followed him, leaving Ms Post alone with her own thoughts.

Chapter 19

The Next Day. 2 P.M. Sunnydale High School Library.

Xander was bored, he was flicking through his fifth book of the day. Turning to his right, he saw Jesse in a similar state of mind. "Hey bud. You got any further info other than it's in here somewhere..?"

Jesse looked up, glad of the distraction. "I know what you mean, I don't think my brain can take in any more information about demons..." He commented, using his fingers to lightly rub his temples.

"We've been at it for hours now... there's no way we can read every book in this place within a week, never mind a day."

"I can't believe she skipped out after an hour's work." Jesse said, "It was her idea."

"It was nearer to two. She said her parents needed to run some stuff past her." Xander explained. "And I can't blame her for taking a few hours off... hell, I'd consider it if *my* parents had wanted me to do something."

"Now that's desperation." Jesse stated, thinking about it. "What could your parents possibly need you for anyway..?"

Xander sighed, "Probably a beer and liquor run if they couldn't be bothered to fetch it themselves. You know what they're like." He added quietly so that the others wouldn't hear.

Jesse perked up at that last piece of information. "Where can you go that'll serve you round here..?"

"My dad sorted something out with this guy he knows... if I go to his shop and order the sort of stuff my parents drink, he always assumes its for them." Xander mused it over. "Actually he may just not care anyway..."

"So how come we didn't fetch any booze for your eighteenth... or mine for that matter..?"

"Mine was held at Buffy's... I didn't want Joyce to know I can get my hands on any."

Jesse looked at him, "Are you telling me you'll sleep with her only child, but you won't have a drink in her house..?"

"I never said I was a saint... I'm just trying to avoid turning out like my parents."

Jesse smiled back. Knowing the full story, neither felt the need to expand further.

They were interrupted by Willow who had arrived out of the stacks behind them, leading Buffy who was unable to see over the giant pile of books she was carrying.

They looked up on the raised platform to see Buffy struggling to keep them all balanced. Willow carefully led her over to the stairs and instructed her when she got to the top of them.

"Okay... stop." Willow said, "Now... step."

Buffy lifted her left leg and aimed it slightly in front and downwards. Once she felt it was secure she moved her other leg next to it.

"Step." Willow repeated. "Step. Step. Step." Pausing between each word to wait for Buffy to move downwards.

Xander watched this with eyes wide open. "Honey, why are you carrying like four hundred books when Willow has five..?"

"Step." Came Willow's voice again.

"Apparently they're heavy." Buffy responded, concentrating on where she was placing her feet.

"She has Slayer strength. And there's only twenty seven." Willow stated, assuming that explained everything. "Step."

"That doesn't mean you get to test the limits of it." Buffy stated, trying to find the lower step with her right leg.

"Sweetie, we would have helped." Jesse offered, standing up intending to remove the top couple from Buffy's pile.

"Sit down." Willow told him. "Step." She instructed Buffy, then turning back towards the others she started waggling her finger. "I know if either of you get up, I'll never get you to start reading again."

Jesse reluctantly did so, casually turning the page without glancing at it.

"Can you stop saying Step," Xander asked. "It's driving me nuts... can't you just tell Buffy she has three more to go before she reaches the floor and leave it at that."

Willow glared at him, "Stop watching us and get back to work."

"Baby, there is no earthly way we can read an entire library in a day." Jesse tried to reason with her.

"We don't have to read all the books... just the mystical ones." Willow corrected him.

They all turned their attention to the sudden crash where Buffy had slightly over-judged a step and managed to drop the top half of the pile while attempting not to fall herself.

"See my step plan was working fine." Willow said, glaring at Xander.

Buffy placed the remains of the pile on the other end of the desk. Then she and Willow started placing the fallen books on the desk too.

"Not there." Willow corrected her, moving the last few books Buffy had placed down, and moving them over to the other side of the table.

"Why..?" Buffy asked.

"They're the books we've already checked. This is the 'To Do' pile and this is the 'Done' pile." Willow said, indicating each in turn.

"I didn't know that." Buffy commented.

"What did you do with the ones you read then?" Willow asked with an accusatory glare.

Buffy pointed at the haphazard pile in the centre of the table. Willow picked them up and moved them to the Done pile. "And what have you been doing with yours..?" She asked the two guys.

They both indicated the piles next to their feet.

"That's not the system." She informed them. "To Do. Done. To Do. Done."

Xander sighed and closed the book he was attempting to read. Concentration gone for the time being. He placed his head on the table and started lightly batting the back of it with the book he was holding.

"Will... honey," Jesse began, taking his attention away from Xander's actions. "There isn't enough room on the table for the system."

"We need to keep the piles seperate so as not to duplicate effort." She informed them. "This is only the second batch, the system cannot break down by the end of the second batch." she said handing out books to everyone. "Only eleven more batches and we're halfway there." She finished happily.

"The first batch took us four hours." Buffy said in disbelief. "We're still going to be here over Christmas at this rate."

"All the more reason to stop arguing and work faster."

"I haven't finished my first batch yet." Jesse complained, looking at the seven books she'd just added to his remaining pile.

"I read the most." Willow instructed them, "I finished mine and then moved onto the remains of Cordelia's."

"But even Buffy only just finished her first batch. Face it, the rest of us just aren't as academically inclined as you are." Jesse tried.

"You're doing better than Faith," She said, pointing at the largest pile on the table. "Where is Faith by the way..?"

The library doors swung open as Faith strolled in carrying a handful of Cokes. "Caffeine for the workers." She said handed them around.

Xander stopped hitting himself on the head and discarded the book onto his read pile. Taking the can offered he opened it and took a large gulp. "Ahhh... nice."

Willow turned to face Faith, "We need to keep working... unscheduled breaks don't help."

"But they do keep us sane, Red." Faith replied.

"We just need to work faster." She informed them.

Xander sighed and leaned to whisper to Jesse. "She thinks we're gonna find something today, doesn't she..?"

Jesse shrugged, and began flicking through pages quicker. Giving each page a brief glance before turning over.

Willow glared at him but didn't say anything. Promising to remember that if they hadn't found anything by the time they were done that she'd have to double check Jesse's again. And probably Xander's and Faith's too.

The library doors opened for the second time. This time it was Giles, Jenny and Ms Post who entered.

"Hoorah... we're saved, the professionals are here." Xander shouted, getting giggles from both Buffy and Faith.

"Have you found anything yet..?" Ms Post asked, heading directly over to the table.

Jenny handed Giles her coat before heading over herself, while Giles placed their coats in his office.

"Nothing so far." Willow answered for the group.

"Right then," Ms Post replied, heading into the stacks to collect a section of books for herself.

Faith leaned towards Buffy, waiting til Ms Post had disappeared she commented. "Never thought I'd be glad to see that bitch."

Jenny sat down at the table, "Okay..." She replied, taking the top two books off Faith's pile. "Let's see what we've got."


Several Hours Later.
Early Evening.

Giles, Jenny, Willow and Gwendolyn were still at the main table in the library searching through books. By this point the table had become extremely full with various books lying open at odd pages. Jesse was lying face down in a book, on top of some others, Willow glanced his way every few minutes to ensure that he wasn't drooling on any of Giles's priceless books. The others had spread around the room in order to find space to read and concentrate. Xander was strolling around the room trying to avoid any more reading.

"Does anyone else feel the need for a sugar rush..?" He asked those around him.

"Doing a donut run, Xan..?" Faith asked, popping her head from behind the counter where she'd been sitting with a book on her lap, having carefully chosen that space as the Watchers wouldn't be able to spot her from there. "Mind if I tag along..?"

Giles looked up from where he was reading. "You've both just returned from a meal. You cannot seriously be hungry already."

Buffy smiled from where she'd been lying on her front on the counter, a book spread out open in front of her. "They probably can... you've never seen two people eat as much as they do."

"We've still got lots of books to check." Willow commented, trying to mentally keep a track of those she thought had been read properly and those that may have only been glanced at due to failing attention spans.

"It's getting dark, Will." Xander informed her, pointing to the small window on the upper level. "We've been at this since just after we got up. We'll still have some more to read tomorrow."

Giles took a look around at the piles of books, "We'll need to get the library tidied up before we leave."

"It'll interfere with the system." Turning to Jesse, she shook his shoulders to wake him up, when he started to respond she ordered him, "Tell them not to interfere with the system."

Buffy looked around at the various books that seemed to be multiplying in various piles around the room. There were books in Giles' office, some in the weapons cage. Just about every flat surface had been used as a storage area. "There's still a system..?" She found herself asking before she realised the implications of her statement.

"Yes!!" Willow responded. "I've been trying to keep a track of where everyone was dumping their finished books so that I knew what piles had been read and which hadn't."

"Really..?" Jesse asked, wiping sleep out of his eye.

Willow pointed at each person as she mentioned them, "Yours are still piling up by your chair; Buffy continued to use the centre of the table even after I asked her not to, then she moved to get more comfortable which involved a few books in the office, when she returned from her meal she dropped them on this side of the counter where she'd chosen to locate; Faith took eight books behind the counter and I don't know what happened to them since then; Ms Post adopted the original 'Done' pile, until it collapsed and then she started placing them on the floor beneath the table; Giles and Jenny continued to use Buffy's pile on the centre of the table until it got too cramped and since then they've been placing them behind them; Xander has only read three books since his return from dinner and the last one he finished was eight minutes ago and he left it in the weapons cabinet where he decided that playing with an axe was more interesting than continuing to research."

Xander looked apologetic and found himself briefly glancing at the axe that he'd left near the doorway. "Your brain is way too scary." He told her.

"I love her brain." Jesse commented, leaning over to kiss Willow on the forehead.

"Don't try and sweet talk me after you've spent the last fifteen minutes asleep." She said, refusing to respond to the feel of his lips on her.

"Okay..." Jenny said, standing up. "I think we've been at this too long now and everyone's in need of a break." She didn't catch the glare Gwendolyn sent her way at the suggestion. "How about everyone takes an hour off just to chill and relax..? We'll meet back here in an hour and see what state we're in... that way we can either continue to research or decide to clean the place up a bit, depending on what people think they're capable of."

There were no objections to the plan.

Jesse glanced at the book open in front of him. Trying to get his eyes to focus he looked at the picture at the top of the right hand page, it was definitely a drawing of some sort of metallic hand. Shrugging he folded the page over and went to the office to lay down, determined that he'd be more useful if he was allowed to sleep for an hour.

Jenny looked behind her at the half-empty stacks of books. "This is going to take some clearing up." She muttered to herself. Giles nodded in agreement.

Willow overheard and strolled over to them. "We can't just put everything back." She complained.

Giles stroked his chin, giving the situation some thought. "How about if we only put the books we've finished checking back..? The others could be stored in my office for the time being. That shouldn't affect your system, should it?"

Willow contemplated her answer. "No... I think I can live with that. I've got some ideas that might help too." She stated, speaking to him about her theories on which books were unread and which may need a double checking. They walked off together into the stacks as she discussed it further.

Ms Post remained where she was at the table. She had paused from her reading but hadn't commented further. "How sure are we that the information is here..?" She asked the others.

"Cordelia believes it was." Xander explained.

"The new girl that Giles mentioned..?"

"Yes... she has it on good authority that it should be here." He expanded.

"She remembers reading about it during another research session..?" Ms Post asked, thinking this would be typical of the attention span of an American teenager.

"Not herself, no." Faith answered.

"One of you then..?" Gwendolyn assumed.

"Kinda." Buffy stated, pausing to glance at Xander.

"You mean there are even more of you that are aware of the Slayer and her role." She asked in a mocking tone. "This is just typical of the behaviour I've seen so far."

Xander had been about to respond when Jenny walked over and placing her hands gently on his shoulders, firmly walked him out of the door. "Not now." She told him.

"But she..." He answered, turning to look past Jenny and seeing the two Slayers following them out.

"Just... get some time away from her," Jenny instructed. "Go on that donut run you mentioned, get some fresh air, stay away from her for an hour..."

"Could do with some fresh air." He acknowledged.

"Me too," Faith replied. "Could do with some action too... getting cooped up all day ain't my idea of fun."

"It's just gone dark." Buffy said, joining their little group. "Could do a quick patrol to blow out the cobwebs."

Faith and Xander quickly agreed, and the three headed out into the night for a while.

Jenny watched the go, then headed down towards the canteen to see if there was anything she could find to eat.


Ten Minutes Later.

Cordelia Chase strolled into the library, complaining vocally as she did so. "My dad was... arghh... he was just so. We were there in town getting a birthday present for my mother, that of course he needed my help choosing when suddenly he recieves a call from his accountant and I'm left standing there in the middle of a shop while he talks on his cell phone for like an hour."

Looking around the room she noticed that there seemed to be an unusual amount of books spread out, but there was no sign of anyone. "Okay, you lot have been busy." she tried calling again.

"Faith, you there..?" She called out, cautiously walking further into the room. "Xander, Buffy, anyone..?"

"Faith, I was talking to my dad before he got sidetracked and I'm using him to practice that thing we discussed. I figure if I can get my dad to agree to it in theory here, then the same sort of arguments should win him over back home... Faith..?" She called out again, she tried listening for a few minutes and there was definitely a sound coming from Giles' office. "I know you said I didn't need to... but I figured I was definitely going to, and considering you live in this dimension and wouldn't know if I was successful or not then there was no harm in telling you."

Looking around the room, she picked up a large book to be used as a weapon. She was halfway to the office, making practice swings of how she could knock someone out with it, when she spotted the weapon's cabinet. Quietly she quickly ran over to that and picked up a real weapon. She walked back towards the office, this time practicing thrusting a sword through someone's torso. "I know you're in there..." She said as she got closer. "I have a weapon..." Hearing no movement she reached out and gently pushed the office door open.

To reveal Jesse asleep half-falling off the chair, book in his lap. Smiling she put her sword into a more relaxed position. Walking into the room, she let him sleep. "Alright for some eh..?" She asked the unconscious person, as she placed the sword so it was leaning up against the side of a set of drawers. "Where are the others..?"

Realising that she wasn't going to get much out of Jesse, she sighed and headed back into the main room. To see a middle-aged woman casually walking down the stairs carrying a couple of books.

"Hello..?" the woman asked. "Can I help you..?"

Chapter 20

"Erm... Yeah." Cordelia answered, trying to figure out who the woman was. "I'm looking for some friends of mine. They can normally be found in here... they get permission from Giles... the librarian. We're into studying in a big way."

"Mmmm... not a bad attempt at cover. If I wasn't in the know, I'd have assumed something was going on, but not particularly sure what. I suppose I should be impressed that you at least understand the concept of a secret. I take it you are this Cordelia girl, that Faith referred to..?"

"I guess..." Cordelia shrugged. "I mean, yeah, that's me. Where is she by the way..?"

"I believe they said they were going to do a quick patrol... it's typical of Slayers, they're not accustomed to being copped up inside for long periods of time." Ms Post continued. "I take it you're here to help..?"

Cordelia looked at the large piles of books spread around the table, "So you're all still working on that..? I'd have thought you'd be done by now."

"Really..?" Gwendolyn walked up closer. "It would help if you could remember where you'd read about this book. I could use hypnotism to help recall the memories with precise detail... if you'd let me." She added, seemingly as an afterthought.

"I didn't read about it." Cordelia answered, picking up a book. "My ex-boyfriend did."

"Maybe we could contact him..?" The woman suggested. Cordelia was relieved to find her backing off slightly.

"That's a bit difficult, although he was only shown the book so he knew what to look for... Giles was the one who told him everything."

Ms Post had a look of shock on her face. "*Giles* knows..?"

"Not as such... it's complicated." Cordelia tried, "I don't mean to be rude but who are you by the way..?"

"Faith's Watcher." Gwendolyn replied.

"Right, right..." Cordelia said, shaking her head. "Should have guessed by the accent and all the tweed. Faith didn't mention she had a new Watcher..."

Ms Post held her hand out for Cordelia to shake. Cordelia reached across and took it.

"Pleased to meet you. My name is Gwendolyn Post. Perhaps you could explain to me, why Giles knew where it was and but doesn't now."

Cordelia froze on the spot, recognising the name from a few weeks ago.


The Cafeteria.

"Are you sure we should be in here..?" Willow asked, looking around.

Giles sighed, trying his best to ignore the girl.

"Willow. You do realise that you're here with two teachers, don't you..?" Jenny asked, not turning her attention from the food she was preparing.

"But you're a computer teacher... and you're a librarian... neither of you work in here." Willow stated, still not confident.

"In the past few years you've been involved in hacking, multiple attempts of breaking and entering, destruction of public property and on one occasion grave-robbing. Why does preparing food in the school cafeteria concern you so..?" Giles commented. Keeping an eye on the grill.

"Because this is stealing." Willow said, storming out of the room.

"Add it to your current list of crimes." Jenny shouted after her.

"That was cruel." Giles remarked with a smirk.

"She's my student and I'm sure she'll still be asking to learn more hacking skills on Tuesday." Jenny answered, turning to face him. "Okay, I've buttered the bread and chopped up the tomato and lettuce... how's the bacon going..?"


The Library.

"What..?" Cordelia asked, shaking herself out of it.

"I asked about Giles and why he doesn't remember anything." Mrs Post repeated.

"Oh that." Cordelia said, letting go of the hand she'd still been holding. Heading back towards the office and Jesse, she started babbling. "There was a spell of sorts."

"Performed on Giles..?" Gwendolyn asked, trying to work out if hypnotism would still be effective.

"Yes." Cordelia leapt onto the explanation, still shuffling on the direction of the office. "And that's why he's got no memory of it."

Gwendolyn casually held her arm, gently the move meant to keep Cordelia's whole attention rather than intimidate her in any way. "So what about your ex-boyfriend..? Even if he doesn't know what book it was in, I take it he *would* remember where he was sent."

"Right... about that. Well," Cordelia said, staring at Ms Post's hand where it still rested on her arm, and noted that the elder woman had subtly turned them slightly around so that she was positioned between Cordelia and the office now. "He's left." She finished simply.

"Left..?" Ms Post asked curious.

"Yep... up and left." Cordelia continued, racking her brains for an excuse. "To college."


"He was in the year above... and let's face it between us girls, don't you prefer an older guy..? They're more mature than high school boys... though he was still in high school at the time." She corrected herself.

"Which college..?" Mrs Post asked. "Would it be possible to call him..?"

"I don't know... we didn't stay in touch. He was a friend of Jesse's from somewhere. We could wake him up and ask him." Cordelia suggested, pointing towards the office door.

Just then Willow strolled back in. "I can't believe they're stealing food. What sort of example is that to set to young impressionable minds..?"

"Hey Willow." Cordelia said enthusiastically.

"So you're back then..?" Willow muttered walking past the two women. "Took your time."

"Who is stealing food..?" Cordelia asked, freeing herself from the Watcher's grasp and following Willow towards the main table.

"Giles and Jenny... stealing it from the school cafeteria." Willow said, looking at her for the first time.

"I know." Cordelia turned her back to Ms Post, trying to make eye contact with Willow. "Sometimes these Watchers can be really evil." She commented, trying to subtlely point behind her with her eyes and a small nod of the head.

"I wouldn't go that far... but I think it's irresponsible." Willow agreed.

"No. Evil. Completely." Cordelia continued.

"Willow, do you know if Jesse has the contact number for Cordelia's ex-boyfriend..?" Gwendolyn asked, trying to make the question sound innocuous.

"Larry..?" Willow asked, before thinking the question through further. "Though technically you weren't the one that dated him, you don't mean Xander do you..? Why would you need Xander's phone number..? Jesse does have it, as do I... and in fact everyone here... except possibly yourself." She finished, looking Ms Post in the eye.

"Cordelia dated Xander..?" Ms Post repeated, confusion obvious from her voice.

"Well, not really... but sort of..."

"Another spell." Cordelia replied, cutting Willow's detailed explanation off before it begun.

"That's the easy way to put it." Willow said.

"Yeah... and talking of that particular spell." Cordelia continued. "In theory how would someone not mentioned in the spell be affected... assuming they were from out of town."

"They shouldn't be... though I suppose every subtle change would have knock on effects that could carry ov..."

Cordelia quickly interrupted while Gwendolyn looked on confused. "So someone should basically remain the same... and the effects should be smaller, the further you get away from the original source..?"

Willow pondered the thought. "I guess. You'd have to speak to Giles... or maybe Ms Post here can shed some light on the subject."

"As interesting as this is..." Ms Post said, returning to the original topic. "Do you believe Jesse would know the whereabouts of this... what was the boy's name..?"

"Oz." Cordelia responded without a moment's hesitation.

Willow looked confused. "Oz... I thought you said that..." She paused, finally noticing the crazy eye movements that Cordelia was sending her way. "Yeah... Jesse knows Oz... Jesse used to follow his band... I think they're still in touch, we can only ask him right?"

"Ahhhh..." Ms Post responded. Heading towards the office.

As soon as her back was turned, Cordelia stepped over some books and looked for a weapon from the stash stored in the cabinet. She returned with an axe.

Willow's eyes opened wide, moving closer she glanced at where Ms Post had just entered the door to the office and hissed in Cordelia's direction. "What are you doing..?"

"She's evil." Cordelia responded, climbing back over the books.

"Are you sure..? I mean I know she's not well liked..." Willow answered.

"She's after the glove again... it's good enough for me."

"So you sent her in to talk to my boyfriend..?" Willow said, looking over to the office. There was no noise coming from there. "What if you're wrong..? You really want to kill her and then find out that she's not evil over here..?"

"Dammit." Cordelia swore, handing Willow the axe. "Hold this." She instructed before climbing back into the weapon's cabinet.


Giles' Office.

Jesse awoke to discover Ms Post shaking him lightly by the shoulders.

"What... what..?" He asked, trying to open his eyes and focus on what was going on.

"Jesse you need to wake up." Gwendolyn told him. "I need you to tell me something."

"I'll get back to research... promise." He said yawning. "Just give me a few minutes to wake up properly."

"You don't need to do any more reading." She told him, watching him smile at that. "I just need you to contact someone for me."

"Sure..." He said, one eye starting to close again.

She shook him gently again. "I need you to contact Cordelia's ex-boyfriend."

"Larry..?" He asked confused. "Why do you need me to contact him..? Can't Cordelia do it..?"

"Not that one... the other one."

"I don't know this Scott guy." He told her, turning onto his side to get more comfortable.

"Oz." She informed him.

"Oz... the werewolf guy... don't know what happened to Oz."

"Jesse, I need you to wake up fully and tell me about Oz." She stated more authoritatively now.

He sat up, rubbing all the sleep out of his eyes. "He was in a band. He left town over a month ago. Faith... knew him." He finished, wondering why he was getting quizzed on someone he didn't know.

He was about to ask why, when the door burst open suddenly and Cordelia rushed in, striking Ms Post across the head with a quarter-staff. Willow had followed her in carrying an axe.

"What the fuck??" He practically shouted as he leapt out of the chair, knocking it backwards so that it rolled into the desk. The book that was on his lap falling to the floor at his feet.

He glanced from where Ms Post was lying unconscious on the floor, back to the two girls in front of him. Willow gave him an apologetic glance, he couldn't work out whether it was for the rude awakening or to try and explain why they'd just smacked one of the Watchers across the head with a large wooden pole. Cordelia's eyes never left the Watcher, quarter staff still raised in case she needed to make a follow-up blow. "What did I miss..?"

Chapter 21

"No, seriously what did I miss..?" Jesse repeated, taking in the scene in front of him.

"Cordelia thinks Ms Post is evil." Willow explained, holding the axe in a more relaxed position.

"*Thinks* or knows..?" Jesse asked, turning to face Cordelia.

"Hey, she was evil in my reality." Cordelia replied loudly, not removing the quarter staff from where she held it in position over the Watcher's head.

"In your reality, I was dead." Jesse reminded her, refusing to look in Willow's direction when he heard the small whimpering sound. "It might not be the same."

Cordelia finally raised her eyes to look at him. "And how would all the changes here affect someone over in England..? It's on a whole different continent."

"Actually it's no... shutting up now." Willow added.

"She was evil when she turned up... we just didn't realise it." Cordelia answered. "We were too concerned with whether or not Angel was evil or not to notice."

"How evil is evil..?" Willow asked, still not confident in this decision.

"She was going to wear the glove to get the powers for herself. Apparently it can fry people." Cordelia prodded Ms Post with her staff.

"What are you doing..?" Jesse asked.

"I thought I saw her move."

"You clubbed her around the head." Jesse shook his head in disbelief. "I don't think she's going to be waking up anytime soon."

"Better to be safe than sorry."

"What exactly are you suggesting doing now..?" Willow asked. "Even if she *is* evil, she's still human."

"Willow's right." Jesse nodded. "We can't kill her in cold blood."

"I wasn't suggesting we do that." Cordelia commenting, making sure she didn't glance anywhere near the axe Willow was holding.

"What did you do to her in your reality..?" Willow stated, staring down at the Watcher and hoping they were doing the right thing.

"She managed to fry herself with the glove." Cordelia responded.

"Doesn't sound like that great a weapon." Jesse commented.

Cordelia thought about it, "Xander said that Buffy cut her arm off first."

"Ewww." Willow winced.


"Because you can't remove it from whoever's wearing it." Cordelia answered.

"So she cut her whole arm off..?" Willow said, pulling a face.

"I think so." Cordelia answered.

Jesse looked down at the unconscious Watcher. "So that option's out." He commented, flicking his eyes over the two weapons. "And we're not cutting her head off with an axe, just in case... you know... Cordy turns out to be wrong."

"So what are you suggesting..?" Cordelia asked, lifting her own weapon in the air.

"Let's just tie her up for now and wait for the others." He replied.

"We could get Giles to check in with the Watcher's Council... find out if she's legit." Willow commented, "He's in the canteen... stealing."

"Okay... so we need rope." Cordelia agreed, glancing around the room. "Where would we get that..?"

"Weapon's cabinet." Jesse replied.

"Rope's a weapon..?" Willow asked.

"If it's not there then we won't have any in here." He continued. "I don't think it'll be included in the extreme sports section of the library."

"There's an extreme sports sectio... oh." Willow said, realisation dawning.

"So, if not here then where else..?" Cordelia asked, concentrating on the matter at hand.

"Gym." Jesse answered.

"Let's check the cabinet." Willow agreed.


A Few Minutes Later.

"Okay... so we're done here..?" Cordelia asked, looking over to where Ms Post was seated in the same chair Jesse had been sleeping in.

"Secure as I can make it." Jesse answered, tying the final rope around Ms Post's thighs and the chair seat beneath her. "I think it's done." He said, eyes looking towards the walls and ceilings. "Room has no windows. We could leave her in here. Do we know where Giles keeps his keys..?"

"Probably on him." Willow responded. "One of us needs to stay here as a guard, while the others fetch Giles."

"Best if two stay. We can sit outside the door." Jesse stated. "I'm volunteering."

"Me too." Cordelia quickly added, turning to face Jesse she explained. "You're still not sure whether she's evil or not."

"Neither am I..." Willow admitted, as she closed the door behind them. "But I'm okay to fetch Giles... let him make the decision. If I'm being honest... I don't know if I want you to be right or wrong."

"That's okay." Cordelia answered. "Now scoot... go fetch the food thief." She waved Willow off, eyes never leaving the office door as Willow passed the axe to Jesse and then left the room.

Jesse sighed, as he watched her go. Placing the axe on the table, but making sure it was in easy reach, he turned to Cordelia. "Go over the whole evil Watcher thing again."

"Why bother..? You don't believe me." She said.

"I don't know if I believe you." He replied. "But let's say for the sake of argument... me tying the Watcher up in a room... pretty much shows I might be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt."

"Okay. Okay." Cordelia conceded, perching herself on the edge of the desk next to him. "You do realise I got all this second hand off Xander, right..?" Keeping a firm grip on the quarter staff.

"In my reality Ms Post turned up while Faith and Buffy were out patrolling. I know I said they weren't as close as they are here, but they still patrol together... guess it's a Slayer thing. Well, as far as I can remember from what the others told me she introduced herself as Faith's new watcher..." Cordelia proceeded to inform him of everything she could remember.


The Canteen.

"MMmmmmm..." Giles mumbled, savouring the taste.

"Enjoying that, hon..?" Jenny grinned back. Watching amused as her partner's stiff upbringing faded, as it always did, when he was biting into a large sandwich.

"MMm mmm." Was the only reply as he attempted to swallow most of the contents in his mouth.

"You know Rip, you're really quite working class..." She commented, smiling as he tried to chew faster in order to retort. "You'd have made a great greengrocer..." She finished with a smile.

"Skew you." He replied with a smirk, through a half eaten sandwich.

"Maybe later... there are students in the building."

"Odd Emm."

"If I thought for one second that you were serious about that statement." She started, leaning in to whisper in his ear. "I'd push you back on the counter behind you, unzip your fly and then..."

"Giles!!!" Willow came bursting into the room.

Jenny turned her head at the interruption. Then turned back and kissed Giles on the cheek. "Back to work eh... no rest for the wicked..." then lowering her voice to a quite whisper she added, "and if Willow had been about ten minutes later, she might have seen exactly how wicked we could be."

Giles made a few coughing sounds and turned his full attention to Willow, trying to ignore Jenny's confident smirk, knowing how much she enjoyed making him squirm. "What seems to be the problem..?" He asked, glancing at his watch. "I thought we had at least another twenty five minutes before we were all due to meet back up."

"Just enough time." Jenny commented from where she was tidying up the mess they had made.

Giles shook his head to clear it, knowing he might need to be focused for Willow's comment.

"Enough time for what..?" She thought aloud, "No matter. Giles, it's Ms Post... I don't know how to say this so I may as well just come out and say it."

"Please do." He commented.

"Cordelia thinks Ms Post is evil."

"Pretty sure Faith thinks the same." Jenny added from where she was watching this discussion.

"Well yes. But, no. Differently evil." Willow tried. "Cordelia seems adamant that the Ms Post in her dimension was evil... which might mean that the one here is too."

"I see." Giles added, thinking about it. "Who else knows Cordelia's thoughts on the subject..?"

"Me, you two, Jesse and..." Willow drifted off.

"Cordelia..?" Jenny added with a smile.

"And..?" Giles asked.

"I think Ms Post will when she regains consciousness."

"When she..." Giles took his glasses off and began to polish them. "Oh dear."


Giles' Office.

Ms Post awoke to find herself tied to a chair. Looking around she began to retrace her final steps. 'Cordelia told me about Oz. Went to question Jesse about Oz. Heard the door open behind me... and then nothing.' She finished, trying to imagine what could have attacked her.

She took a quick glance around the room to discover there was no sign of Jesse, unsure whether that was a relief or not.

She noticed a solitary book lying at her feet. Spotting that some of the pages seemed to be turned over she tried to maneuver herself so that she could open it. Managing to pry it open, her eyes widened when she saw the picture on the page. 'Unless I'm mistaken that's the Glove Of Mhynegon.' She realised, wondering why the boy hadn't informed her that he'd found something.

She was about to call out for help when she realised she could hear voices from the other room. Concentrating, she attempted to make out what they were saying.

"... Angel had managed to create the glove-destroying fire thingie ..." She overheard Cordelia say.

'The Glove can be destroyed..?' She thought, glancing down at the book, silently wishing it were possible to read the text from her position on the chair.

"... knocked out Angel after he told her where he'd stashed the glove ..."

'So someone called Angel has the glove... and someone else knocked him out to obtain it... is Angel the ex-boyfriend that Cordelia was trying to hide... why would she want to hide it from me..?' She considered calling out again, but realised she was in fact finding out more tied to this chair than she had done since her arrival in Sunnydale.

"... Buffy and Faith both fighting, one trying to kill Angel the other trying to make sure he lives ..."

'The Slayers were in on this too... I've seen nothing in Giles reports to explain such an event.'

"... put on the glove ... started trying to fry everyone with electrical blasts ..."

'Of course the power from the sky...' Ms Post thought, grinning despite her predicament.

"... Faith distracts her ... and Buffy chops off the hand wearing the glove ..."

'They did this then hid it from their Watchers..? How dare they..?'

"... then the glove strikes out and fries Ms Post where she stands..."

'Me... it's *me* they're talking about...' Ms Post thinks, confused. 'None of that happened. What is this girl babbling about..?'

Then she heard a deeper voice respond. "And Xan told you all that..? So she's evil... is she a Watcher..?"

"Giles did some checking... turned out she was, but she got discharged from the Council due to practising black magics."

'They know about me.' She suddenly realised, struggling against her bonds, eyes scanning the room for any escape. 'No windows.' Her eyes were drawn to the book again. 'If I had the glove this wouldn't be able to hold me... if I had the glove I'd take great pleasure in burning that cheerleading bitch to ashes.'

She started looking at all items around her. 'Lots of books. Desk. Pen. Telephone. Lamp. Filing cabinet. Umbrella.' She said, rolling her eyes at why anyone would have an umbrella in a town called Sunnydale. 'Typical Watcher... needs to get the stick out of his arse.'

Turning she continued to identify the contents of the room, looking for anything which might help get her out of these bonds. She spotted another cabinet, then her eyes fell to the item leaning against it. And the corners of her lips raised to form a smile.

Chapter 22

"You don't seem worried." Willow stated, watching Giles as the three of them headed back towards the library.

He sighed, ignoring her as he negotiated the corridors on their return. "I'll call the Council and I'm sure we can sort this all out in a matter of minutes."

"Even if she's evil..?" Willow asked, "Cordelia seemed pretty certain."

"Even if she's evil." He confirmed. "And I've no doubt that Cordelia was correct about her being evil in her dimension, we just don't know how it applies over here. You know prior to this week, I would never had taken Cordelia on her word about anything."

"Shows that the Hellmouth effect is out in full force." Jenny commented from her position on the opposite side of Giles to Willow.

"You're not worried either..?" Willow asked, just as a crash was heard somewhere in the building.

Giles picked up his pace and started to build it up into a light run.

"I wasn't." Jenny replied, running to catch up.

"You think she woke up pissed..?" Willow asked, chasing them down the corridor.

"I'd be certain that happened whether she's good or evil." Jenny called back, as they rounded the last corner, the library doors could be seen swinging closed from their position further down the corridor.

Giles had just reached them when Jesse came barging through weilding an axe. "It's me." he said quickly raising his hands.

Jesse glanced at him, then at his girlfriend and the teacher arriving shortly after. "That means she went this way." He said, taking off in the opposite direction.

"Jesse, wait!!!" Willow called out, watching her boyfriend break into a sprint as he headed towards the science labs, she began to chase after him.

"Wait!!" Giles shouted. Sighing as he watched them both disappear around another corner. He opened the door to the library. "Follow them." He instructed Jenny, "I'll collect some weapons."

The first thing he saw when he turned his head to face the library was Cordelia charging at him with an axe in her hands. "Shit." He muttered ducking slightly.

She slowed to a stop, peering past him. "Did you see the bitch..?"

"Jesse's gone after her," He informed, taking the axe out of her hands. "Isn't this a bit overkill..?"

"She has a sword." Cordelia responded, running back inside to collect a crossbow from the weapon's cabinet.

"Pass me another sword." He instructed, while she was still digging in the weapon's cabinet. "We really need some non-fatal equipment." he mused.

"I don't think she's thinking along similar lines, Giles." Cordelia commented, pointing the sword at the broken quarter staff before passing it to him.

He nodded. "Can you use that..?" He asked, staring at how she was loading the crossbow.

"I can make do." She answered, walking past where he was holding the door open for her. "Which way did they go..?"

"That way." He said, pointing in the direction he'd last seen the others.



"She could be anywhere." Willow hissed into Jesse's ears as they stalked the school corridors looking for any sign of the escaped Watcher.

Jenny was wandering behind them, peering in classrooms windows. Testing all the handles to see if any were open.

"This one's unlocked." She informed them, pausing at a door to one of the labs. Jesse and Willow made their way back to her, Jesse leading the way after Jenny had swung the door open. Slowly entering the classroom, he made his way between the rows of desks, eyes glancing to the floor constantly checking.

Willow was following a few feet behind him, knowing she had to stay far enough away to enable him to swing the axe should he need to. She kept double checking each row which her boyfriend had passed, knowing it was up to her should Ms Post try to sneak up behind him. Reaching across, she picked up one of the wooden stools, intending to use this as her first means of defence, knowing it wouldn't fair that well against a sword but hoping it could by enough time for Jesse to join in any fight.

Suddenly the lights came on in the classroom. Both Jesse and Willow turned weapons raised, to where Jenny was standng at the doorway occasionally glancing out into the corridor.

"Don't do that!" Jesse commented, turning his attention back to the remaining two rows as he slowly made his way forward.

"Thought it would be easier if you could see better." Jenny unapologetically explained.

Willow took the time to glare at her before following Jesse. "Warning would have been nice." She muttered under her breath.

"Nothing." Jesse commented as he'd reached the back of the classroom. Turning to make his way back to the doorway, Willow heading in front of him.

Jenny turned the light off as they approached her. "Think we should turn the lights on in the corridor..?" she asked.

Willow squinted at the wall next to her. "Where are the switches..?"

"Either end." Jenny responded.

"We'll do it for the next one." Jesse replied, leading the group further along the corridor.

Jenny moved to the right hand side of the corridor and tested the handle, she pointed to Willow to instruct that she should check those on the opposite side.

Sounds of footsteps from behind made them all turn suddenly. To see Giles and Cordelia heading their way.

"Found anything..?" Giles asked.

"Oh yes, we've cut her into little bits and now you need to locate them all." Jenny replied sarcastically.

Willow scrunched her face up as she imagined it.

"Stop it, or you don't get a weapon." Giles told Jenny, smiling affectionately as he did so.

"I'll have it." Willow offered, disappointed when Giles handed it to Jenny. She turned to look at Cordelia who was only carrying a crossbow. "You didn't bring me one..?"

Cordelia shrugged and offered her a stake that she'd had tucked into her back pocket.

"That's all I get... a stake..?" Willow asked.

"She's a human." Cordelia responded.

"Yeah, cos what we really need in this situation is a policeman." Jesse stated, beginning to head down the corridor again. The others following him, happier that they were armed now.


Fifteen Minutes Later.

"Man, that was so cool." Faith commented as they entered the school building. "I swore that vamp was gonna shit himself."

"Do vamps need to poo..?" Xander asked, causing both girls to giggle. "No, I'm serious... cos I'm thinking they're mainly on a liquid diet."

"You know of all the vampire related trivia I've learned since becoming a Slayer, that was something I never thought to ask about." Buffy commented, linking arms with her boyfriend.

"B and Red are right... you've got a special way of thinking, Xan."

"Is that good special or bad special..?" He asked, enjoying the playful banter.

"Jury's still out on that one." Faith added.


"Stop whining you pussy." Faith commented, opening the door to the library. She stopped as she looked around, spotting no-one. "Are we early..?"

"I didn't think that was possible." Xander replied looking at his watch. It said the correct time for when they'd agreed to meet back, not trusting it he tried shaking it and then holding it up to his ear. "Seems to be working... but I'd have to play odds and say it's more likely we're late and they've gone looking for us."

Buffy stepped over the broken quarter staff, "Mmmm." She glanced in the direction of the weapon's cabinet and noted that the door was open, trying to rack her mind as whether it had been open before they'd left. She headed towards the office to see if anyone was in there.

Both of the others noticed her concentration flick to the weapon's cabinet. Faih darted up the steps to check the back, glancing at the fallen chairs next to the table as she ran past.

Xander glanced into the corner of the room where he'd left the axe, noting it was no longer there he headed over the cabinet to see if they'd put it back.

Faith was the first to return to the centre of the room. "No one up there."

Buffy left the office carrying some pieces of rope that had obviously been cut. "I've got a really bad feeling about this." She added, nodding over to the broken staff.

Xander returned with a short sword attached to his belt and carrying a crossbow in his right hand. Under his left arm were an assortment of swords and axes. Dropping them onto the table, he commented. "When they left, they left armed."

Buffy and Faith each grabbed two weapons each. Buffy preferring two short swords, while Faith chose a sword and a double bladed axe.

"Right." Buffy said, nodding at each of them in turn. They both followed her towards of the library doors. Just in time to meet the others coming in.

Weapons were automatically raised by both sides. Faith pushed Xander with her right hand, almost knocking him over.

Sighs of relief were heard as the weapons were lowered.

"We've got to stop doing that." Jesse commented.

"The swinging doors definitely need to be replaced." Willow agreed.

"What was that for..?" Xander asked, glaring at Faith.

"What happened..?" Buffy asked, staring directly at her Watcher.

Faith simply pointed at where Cordelia was standing, her weapon previously pointed directly at where Xander's chest had been. Giving her a final questioning look, he returned his attention to the others, waiting to get filled in on the details.

"It seems Ms Post is after the Glove of Myhnegon for her own benefit." Giles explained, walking to the table to sit on a chair.

"Huh..?" Xander asked.

"She's evil." Cordelia clarified.

"I could have told you that." Faith commented. "No wait... I think you'll find I *did* tell you that."

"You didn't say she was evil evil." Jesse corrected. "You said she was an evil British Nazi Watcher bitch whose only role in life was to make yours suck."

"Same thing." Faith commented.

"We certain she's evil evil..?" Buffy asked, moving over to where her Watcher was seated.

"I'm going to call the Council to find out." Giles said confidently, moving over to the office to make a call.

"So while we've had losts of evil Watcher fun, what have you lot been up to..?" Cordelia asked the others.

"Ran into Trick." Faith commented.

"Hmmm... evil Watcher..." Jesse muttered to himself, starting to look around the room.

"What was he up to..?" Willow asked.

"Preying on people at the Bronze." Faith said.

"Oh... *that's* original." Willow commented.

"Last time they were original we went up against ten vamps remember." Buffy shouted from her place at the table. "I could live with lots of un-originality for the time being."

"Sing it sister." Faith called over her shoulder, then turned her attention towards the Cordelia. "So what happened with the bitch..?"

"Well..." Cordelia began. "After I'd hit her with the quarterstaff. We tied her up in the office." The story was interrupted by the sound of Jesse coughing.

Cordelia sighed, "Jesse tied her up. I was explaining to Jesse about what she was like in my reality, and Willow went to fetch Giles. While this was going on she somehow freed herself, probably using the sword she had when she attacked us. We managed to fend her off, but she escaped. Then we chas..."

"First she dropped the book she was carrying." Jesse corrected her.

"Do you want to tell this story..?" Cordelia asked.

"No... busy." Jesse commented, continuing to read from the book he was holding. "Please continue."

"First she came out with a sword in hand running right at us." She stated, glaring at Jesse. "I only just had time to raise the staff to defend myself, which of course it chopped right through. Then Jesse attacked her with an axe, but she managed to defend herself and get the advantage... by this point I'd got an axe of my own so I attacked her, and she deflected my blow as well and managed to knock me over the table where I slid to the ground." Turning to look at Jesse, she commented. "*That* better...?" Turning back, she continued. "Then we chased her around the school." Cordelia finished.

"*Now* you're researching..?" Willow asked in disbelief while moving over to her boyfriend.

"So where is she..?" Faith asked, determined to give the bitch a few punches of her own.

"She lost us in the hallways." Jenny commented. "We didn't see any sign of her but we did manage to find a fire door we think she'd escaped via. For me that kinda gives enough doubt as to whose side she was on."

"And if we weren't sure before, the Council confirmed it for me." Giles stated strolling out of his office.

"What did they say..?" Buffy asked, moving closer to the main group.

"The personnel department informed me she'd been fired years ago, something about misuse of dark powers."

"Told you." Cordelia shouted in Jesse's direction.

"Now she knows we're onto us she's gonna be hard to find." Faith commented. "I know what I'd do... either get out of town or if she wants to stay to find that glove then she needs to get a false identity pronto... makes it more difficult to track." She explained.

"And she knows you two are computer whizs." Xander commented, looking at the Techno-pagan and her student.

"Question still remains is what do we do when we find her..?" Cordelia asked Giles, looking over to where Jesse and Willow had their heads in a book. "That's mainly what we wanted you for."

"She's human so we can't really kill her... and we can't turn her over to the police for trying to use a magical weapon."

"How about the Council..?" Buffy asked.

"It would seem to be the best course of action, but they already released her once..." He commented, thinking it over.

"We could set her up with something... so that the normal police can arrest her." Xander offered.

"And you've trusted the Sunnydale PD since when..?" Faith commented.

"That's with vampires... they ought to be able to deal with regular crimes, right..?" He asked the others, seeing if anyone had any confidence with the local law enforcement.

"This is all well and good." Giles interrupted, "But first we need to find her... and as Faith said, that could be very difficult."

"I think I know where she's going." Jesse commented. Walking over he passed the book to Giles. "Magical glove of evil one-oh-one... how to destroy it, last known locations, even some info on the Lagos guy."

Cordelia's eyebrows raised. "She's going to the glove..?"

Chapter 23

"You know where the glove is..?" Faith asked Jesse as Giles quickly read through the appropriate pages.

"Restfield Cemetary." Jesse responded. "There's a crypt there belonging to it's last owner."

"They buried it with the owner..?" Jenny mused aloud.

"They buried it *attached* to the owner." Willow corrected.

"Nice." Cordelia said, quickly looking around. "So we going after this bitch then..?"

"Just waiting for what to do if she's already wearing it." Buffy explained, staring at her Watcher.

"According to this, it only releases itself once it's wearer is dead." Giles explained skimming through the text.

"So we might have to kill her..?" Buffy asked, not liking the option.

"Or you could just cut her arm off." Jesse offered, "Cordelia says that's what you did in her dimension."

"We'll consider them final options..." Buffy answered. "What about if we just knock her unconscious..?"

"Remains attached." Giles answered. "At the moment, Cordelia's suggestion of cutting her arm off seems the most likely."

"Could it ever have been used by a vampire..?" Faith asked, remembering the recent arguments over why they need to find it. "Or was all that a lie too..?"

Giles pondered the comment, "I suppose that the glove might be able to distinguish between an demon possessed corpse and an actual corpse... the text doesn't really go into detail."

"Or she didn't know." Xander offered.

"All it says it that the glove belonged to Von Hauptman at the turn of the century. No details are given as to how Von Hauptman came into possession of the glove, other than it had previously belonged to a demon called Kalos. Lagos swore revenge for this theft from his father and has reputedly spent the last eighty years trying to discover the whereabouts of the glove."

Giles paused, turning the page. "Von Hauptman's children lived in fear of the glove's abilities, swearing it corrupted their father and stated it turned his heart as black as the demon he took it from. They buried it with him and fleed Sunnydale forever, changing their names so as to avoid the attentions of Lagos."

"Fleeing Sunnydale *and* avoiding the nasty demon that wants them dead." Xander mused. "These kids were so much smarter than we are."

"Living Flame..." Giles muttered to himself, heading off into the stacks.

"Hello... no time for reading." Faith commented, waving her hands trying to get his attention. "Evil Watcher to stop remember..?"

Giles returned with another book. "Yes, of course living flame... I believe I have the ingredients right here."

"What ingredients..?" Buffy asked.

"To destroy the glove." Willow responded.

"That's nice... but as Faith said, what about the Watcher..?" Buffy commented.

"If she has put on the glove..." Giles paused thinking it through. "It might only be necessary to knock her out."

"I'm up for that." Faith cracked her knuckles in response.

"We *might* be able to burn the glove off her."

"Won't she be burned too..?" Willow asked.

"It beats cutting her arm off." He replied.

"Okay..." Buffy accepted that as the current plan. "So we fetch Post and then we deal with the glove... Giles you gonna stay here and get the flame thing ready..?"

"We sure that's a good idea..?" Xander asked. "What if she comes back looking to get revenge on us all..? Specifically as we've already knocked her out once today."

"A Slayer with each group would be more useful." Jenny agreed.

"But it took them both to deal with her last time." Cordelia informed them. "One to draw fire and one to cut her arm off."

"Slayer with each group it is." Jesse replied confidently.

"Were you even listening to her..?" Buffy asked.

"Yes... and we don't have four Slayers." He responded. "But we can have a Slayer in each group so that the Slayer can draw her fire, while the rest of us attempt to take her down.

"It *is* likely that only the Slayer can outrun the lightning bolts." Giles stated, agreeing with Jesse's plan.

"Okay..." Buffy started, only to be interrupted by Faith.

"I'm with the group hunting her down." She ordered, then looking sideways at her fellow Slayer she added. "I owe this bitch."

"Okay... take Jesse and Xander with you." Buffy responded. "And make sure you've got distance weapons as well as that axe." She added, staring at Jesse's hands.

He moved into the weapon's cabinet and returned with some throwing knives.

They nodded to the rest of them and the three headed out the door towards the cemetary.

"Try not to cut her arm off unless you really need to." Cordelia shouted after them, getting Xander to wave his free hand in the air in response.

Buffy turned to the others. "Giles, you start preparing the fire in your office... I don't want her taking pot shots at it from the doorway." He moved to do so.

"Everyone else collect your weapons." She said, looking at the remaining women. "Try to avoid putting your back to any windows or doorways, first one to spot anything shout. I'm the lookout in the corridor, but I don't want that bitch getting anywhere near the library without one of us knowing about it."


Ten Minutes Later.

"So that's it." Willow asked, looking at the flame.

"That's it." Giles confirmed.

She looked at it again, shaking her head. "Are you sure it was supposed to be made in a wok..?"

"Willow..." He pinched his nose automatically. "The fire is the important part. Not the container."

"But it smells kinda like spicy chicken." Willow she commented, not daring to meet his glare. "Why's it called Living Flame anyway..?" She leaned forward to get a closer look.

"Cos whoever discovered it chose to name it that way." He responded sighing dramatically.

"Are there supposed to be all these little green and yellow flickers in it..?"


"I've never seen it before." She whined, pointing back to the flame.

"I've never made it before." He countered, "And the only way we'll know if it works right is if it destroys the glove."

Leading her out into the main library he called out. "we're done, any sign of her..?"

"Not yet." Came Buffy's response from where she was glancing in each direction just outside the swinging doors.

"Nothing here either." Cordelia shouted from somewhere up in the stack where she could focus on both the windows and the skylight. Jenny was standing a few feet away eyes flicking in every direction.

"So we wait." Willow asked, feeling a little anxious.

"Til she either comes here or the others bring her in..." Jenny agreed, not bothering to comment on what sort of state she might be likely to be brought back in.


Outside The Von Hauptman Crypt.

"Looks like the book was right." Jesse commented pointing at the list of people apparently buried inside. "The one buried in 1916 is the last, the rest must have fled."

"Probably to the corners of the world." Xander added.

"Shhh..." Faith instructed, as they circled the crypt looking for it's entrance. "If she's in here I don't want her to know we're after her... unless she hasn't put the glove on yet, then I really don't care what she thinks."

On the third side they found the door.

Putting a finger to her lips she instructed the others to stand on either side weapons raised.

Xander raised his eyebrows in silent question. Faith shook her head, making a negative response and then pointing to her ear.

Jesse pointed at the door and back to Faith with a shrug.

Faith shrugged back, glancing at each of them in turn she continued to make eye contact until she recieved a brief nod. Xander stepped back aiming his crossbow at the doorway so that it would travel diagonally into the crypt if it were released. Jesse raised his axe over his right shoulder, ready to make a swing at chest height should anything come charging out.

Satisfied that she was covered, Faith raised her left leg and kicked the door wide open, instantly stepping back and ducking down allowing her eyes to pierce the gloom within. For a couple of seconds all three remained where they were.

Then Faith strode into the crypt, quickly noting the four coffins and the stairs leading down to a lower level.

By this time the others had followed her in.

"Do you think she's down there..?" Xander asked.

"Only one way to find out." Faith responded, swopping his crossbow for her axe and holding the sword in her other hand.

"It better be in one of these." Jesse commented, having taken a quick glimpse down the stairs. "Otherwise we'll be looking for the glove all night."

"Or worse," Xander thought about it. "It *was* in one of these and we have to check the rest of them while she goes on a rampage..."

"Now you're just being annoying." Jesse told him, watching as Faith returned. "Xander was saying..."

"I heard you." Faith cut him off. "There's about twenty or thirty coffins down there. Some piled on one another."

"So we're hoping that these are the latest ones..?" Jesse said excitedly.

"Or that the kids hoped people would assume that, and swapped their father's body with one of those buried in the pile." Xander was quick to counter.

"You're just Mister Pessimistic today, aren't you..?" Jesse sighed.

"Right. Let's get started then." Faith said, grabbing one of the coffin lids and peering inside. "Nope." She stated, moving onto the next one. "Nope." Pushing past the others she grabbed the third. "Bingo." She said, moving the lid to the side.

Jesse and Xander peered into to see that the glove was still attached to the skeleton inside. "Nice..." They both commented at the same time.

Faith lifted the arm up and snapped it off at the elbow. The glove balancing on the hand. Passing it to Xander, she went to close the coffin lid. "Looks like we beat her here."

"A bit of luck." Jesse agreed, glancing over to where Xander was pulling the remains of the skeleton out of the glove, his crossbow resting on top of one of the other coffins. "Not that Mister Glass-Is-Completely-Empty here would ever expect that."

"Leave the arm in." Faith instructed him, turning her attention back to the lid she'd just closed. "We don't want anyone to accidently end up wearing it."

Xander had almost removed the hand from inside, but as instructed dropped the hand back into glove. "It really smells in there." He informed them.

"Give me that back." Faith said, holding her hand out but eyes never leaving the lid. Xander casually handed it to her. "Jesse put your weapons down."

"Okay." He answered, doing so. "Now what..?"

"Both of you try to open it." She ordered, gesturing at the coffin. They shrugged and moved to opposite sides of the lid, grasping each side they each lifed with their hands and arms. Re-arranging the grips they tried again, straining noises could be heard from both of them.

"Come this side." Jesse asked Xander, who moved to join his friend.

This time they placed their hands on one edge of the lid and one of their feet on the wall behind them. This time pushing in an attempt to slide it across the coffin. This was marginally more successful, a few scraping noises could be heard as they slowly moved it an inch at a time, eventually it had travelled far enough so that they would have been able to place their arm inside to find the glove.

"It's fucking heavy." Jesse stated, collapsing against the wall of the crypt.

"It's a stone lid, what did you expect..?" Xander asked between heavy breaths.

"So if you both had trouble... it might be that she's been here but wasn't able to get at the glove." Faith thought about it. Moving around to the opposite side to the guys, she casually pushed the lid back into place making a horrific noise at it did so.

"We got to make it so that it looks like no-one's been here." She informed them, glancing around. "Hopefully she'll come up with the same ideas Xan did... and think she's got to dig around further."

"Why do we want her to believe that it's in here..?" Jesse asked, returning to an upright position.

"In case she comes while we're away." Faith responded, picking up weapons and handing the glove back to Xan. "Anything comes on the way back... I fight it, you make sure nothing gets the glove."

"What are we doing again..?" Xander asked, trying to find a comfortable to position to hold the thing.

"We give this to Giles to burn with the fire thingie... then we come back and wait for her to return to the scene of the crime." Faith explained, pushing them ahead of her out of the crypt. Loudly slamming the door shut as they all left.

Xander wedged the glove under his arm and then zipped up his coat as they walked back towards the school, turning to Jesse he asked. "Just between us, how the hell did you spot the book..? I mean you just picked one up off the ground and there it was..."

"Ms Post dropped it." Jesse informed him.

"Ahh... so she found it then..?" Xander clarified for himself.

"No, *I* found it." Jesse corrected him, at the glances of the others he added. "I was flicking through the books just looking for any pictures with either a hand or a glove on them... if the pictures of the demons only included a drawing of the head then I skipped it."

"Right." Both Faith and Xander responded, wishing they'd thought up the same plan.

Chapter 24

"They're back... and they're alone." Buffy stated, spotting them as they rounded the corner at the end of the corridor. Watching as they made their way past the rows of lockers.

"Think they've killed her..?" Cordelia asked, moving out of the position she'd been holding. Jenny followed her down the steps and past the main table.

Buffy opened the door for them as they all strolled in. Faith walking to the table to unceremoniously dump most of the weapons on it, then making a space by pushing both the books and the weapons in opposite directions climbed on the table, and lay down on her back using three books as a pillow.

Giles watched her do so, and asked the question they were all thinking. "Did you find her..?"

"No joy, G-Man." Xander answered, heading his way unfastening his coat as he did so. "But we got this..." He said, removing the item from his coat. "The Glove of Mine-whatever-it-was, complete with previous owner."

Giles took it from him and looked distastefully at the skeletal remains.

"Smells too." Xander informed him, moving to one of the chairs.

"Right.. well." Giles attempted to remove the arm, eventually pulling so hard some of the fingers fell off when the arm left the protective gauntlet. Giles shook it upside down, causing the fingers to fall out on the floor.

"Ewwww..." Was Willow's response as she follow Giles into the office.

Giles picked up the book in one hand and held the glove in the other. "Nothing mentioned." He commented, "So I guess..."

He casually tossed the glove into the wok, watching as it started to heat up in the flame. The others gathered round to see the glove glow red, then a few minutes later small drops of metal could be seen collecting at the bottom of the wok.

Once all the remained of the glove was a lump of cooling metal at the bottom of the wok with the living flame buring above it, Giles took a small green powder from his desk and gently sprinkled it over the flame. The flame growing smaller as he did so. Eventually it was completely snuffed out.

"We should probably throw that away." Giles said, referring to the ruined wok.

"The dinner ladies must really hate you." Willow commented.

"So what now..?" Cordelia asked.

"Now we go back and wait for Ms Post to arrive searching for the glove." Jesse answered.

"You sure she's still going to go..?" Jenny asked.

"Me and Xan had trouble moving the stone lid between us." Jesse explained. "Faith did it fine, and I'm pretty sure that Lagos thing could probably have moved it easily too..." He trailed off.

"But Ms Post is going to need tools... right." Buffy said, agreeing with the assessment. "This time I'm definitely going to be there in case she turns up."


The Next Day.
Sunnydale High School Library.

"Anything..?" Giles asked, as Xander and Faith strolled into the room.

"Nothing." Faith responded. "We stayed out til three but we need to get some sleep before school." She added shrugging. "Course I was up for skipping it... but none of the others would back me up on it."

"I should hope not to." He replied, watching where Xander had moved over to the table and rested his head on his schoolbag.

"No Slayer stamina." Faith explained, noting where his eyes had gone. "Not that Buffy complains." She added, smirking as it caused Giles to look away. "You're gonna have to put up with more than that if you're going to be my Watcher." She paused, slightly unconfident of herself now. "You *are* going to be my Watcher, right..?"

"For the time being." Giles explained. "The Council have decided to leave you in my charge until they can assign a full time Watcher for you..."

"Good." Faith replied, causing a small smile to be seen on Giles' face.

"They've also reliably informed me that they will be sending full contact details and a photograph of whoever does get assigned to you, to ensure that the same thing doesn't happen again."

"Nice." Faith replied. "So we can find out the dirt before the next one arrives, eh..?"

"We can go check out the crypt during lunch." Giles tactfully changed topic.

"Not sure what good it's gonna do G." Faith mused. "If she's been she won't find it... and if she hasn't then we don't know when she'll return."

"We can at least check to see if the lids have been opened." Giles informed her. "That way we will know whether it's worth keeping an eye on that place in future."

"Okay... we'll check at lunch and give it a few fly-bys during patrol."


Later That Day.

"Hey Pete." Faith commented, gesturing for him to join her at the table.

"Hey." He replied, looking around. "I didn't see you at the Bronze on Saturday."

"I told you I didn't think I'd make it." She answered, giving him her brightest smile. "It's kind of cute that you missed me over the weekend though."

"Was looking for you at lunch." He replied.

"Yeah... had to do a few chores with my friends. Boring really." She waved it off.

"Cordelia..?" He asked.

"Buffy, Xander, Willow and Jesse... think Cordelia was at practice." She thought realising the other girl hadn't been around at dinner.

"She was." Pete answered.

She grinned, unable to resist the smirk. "You often go to watch cheerleaders..?"

"I was trying to spot you." He answered.

"Not a cheerleader, babe." She replied. "Sorry to disappoint."

"You couldn't disappoint me if you tried."

"You always this sweet with girls..?" She answered, flashing her brightest smile.

"Only ones I really like."


After School.
Von Hauptman Crypt.

"Well..?" Willow shouted from outside the crypt. "Anything..?"

"Nothing I can see has been moved." Jesse replied walking out, closing the door behind him.

"You sure it's safe..?" Willow asked. "To be checking this without a Slayer along is what I mean."

"It's still daylight." He responded. "And if Ms Post turns up then she has no magical glove to get us with."

"Still." Willow responded.

"You worry too much." Jesse told her, pulling her into a hug.

She tilted her head up for a kiss. "Mmmmm." She moaned against him. "I'm allowed to worry." She said, once they'd released each other.

"Just gotta finish this week of school then we're done for two weeks."

"Why does everything that cheers you up involve missing school..?" She asked him.

"Not everything." He said, sliding his hand down towards her ass.

"Behave." She swatted him lightly across one arm.

"Don't wanna." He said.

"You gotta." She countered.

"My parents don't get in from work for another two hours." He informed her.

"And we're in a graveyard, why..?" She asked, pushing him away and darting for his car.

"Now you're talking my language." He shouted, giving chase.


That Evening.
The Summers Home.

"Is it me or is Faith happier than usual..?" Joyce whispered to her daughter, watching Faith sing along to the hi-fi.

"Double celebration." Buffy confided. "Her Watcher turned out to be evil, and..."

"That's a cause for celebration..?" Joyce interrupted, confused.

"We didn't like her." Buffy explained. "And she isn't admitting this... but the guy that Cordelia set her up with spoke to her again today... I think she really likes him."

"You sure."

"I saw them sitting together in the quad. She hasn't mentioned it, but she's definitely been smilier since then."

"I'm glad to see life's looking up for her." Joyce smiled, glancing to where Faith performed a little spin. "And how's your love life going..?"


"Okay. If you don't want to talk about yours we could always talk about mine." Joyce responded.

"*You* have a love life..?" Buffy spluttered. "Not that you don't deserve one... or men wouldn't find you attractive or anything." She quickly rushed to correct her behaviour. "Are you sure he isn't a robot..? That's all I need to know, really... not robot, not demon... anything else we can take from there."

Joyce smiled back. "Buffy, you're hyperventilating. I thought having a daughter that went out slaying demons til the early hours might have more self-control."

"I do... I'm happy for you... really... when do I get to meet him..? I just need to make sure Giles is nearby to identify what he is so I know how to kill him."

"Buffy calm down," she instructed her daughter, trying to resist laughing. "I just wanted to run the idea past you that's all... make sure you're okay with it... Pat knows more people from here than I do, and some of them are lonely single parents like myself... so I was going to meet one of them... for drinks."

"It *is* a man, right..? There's nothing else you want to tell me..?" Pausing to think about it. "I didn't even know single moms came in *male*."

"It will be a man, yes. They do, and they're generally called single dads."

"Right... heard about them... thought they were a myth... like Santa." Buffy continued to babble.

"So you're okay with it... in theory..?" Joyce asked, needing her daughter to understand.

"Theory yes... we'll deal with the practical when it happens, and we've got past the non-supernatural criteria and moved onto making sure he treats you right."

"Buffy... I'm your mother... I may be a little out of practise, but I was going out on dates way before you were born."

"Firstly I didn't need to know that... still got mental scars from the band candy incident, so I know how you behaved when you were my age." Buffy responded, deciding not to embarrass her mother further she quickly moved on. "And secondly, this is a Hellmouth... if all three of the women in this house are dating then the odds are that at least one of us is out with a freak."

Joyce was about to respond when Faith walked in the kitchen to join them. "What's going on..?" Faith asked.

"Mom is considering dating." Buffy explained. "I'm teaching her to be wary of the Hellmouth badness."

"Yo, Mrs S... intending to get down and jiggy with it..." She winked at her. "Just say the word and we're out on late night patrols... no problems there."

"Faith!!!" Buffy shouted.

"Thank you, Faith." Joyce responded.

"No worries... sure you'd do the same for me." Faith commented. "Well maybe not patrol... but you know."

Buffy lowered her eyes to the floor, not believing this conversation was actually occuring with her mother present.

Joyce noticed Buffy's reaction and decided it might be time that her daughter's situation with Xander actually got discussed. "Well Faith, I'm not sure. I think it depends on what sort of relationship you were in with the person you'd be intending to bring back... now while I'm sure that this boy Cordelia set you up with is quite nice, I do have to take into consideration exactly how long you'd have been seeing him. Whereas any situation where you were in as long a lasting relationship as say... Buffy and Xander have been. Then it's very doubtful it would be a problem."

BUffy looked up at that last piece of information. However before she could respond, Faith had continued to take centre-stage. "To be fair Joyce, being a Slayer I don't know if I'll even get to live for that much longer. And by then, I'd be out of your hair anyway... so why don't we just agree on a set amount of time, that after that point it's okay for..."

Joyce grinned, admiring Faith's negotiating tactics. 'It might be an option to offer her part time work in the gallery.' Joyce considered before responding. "Not saying that I don't trust either of you, but I do remember how truth can be... *flexible* when you're a teenager. So obviously any length of time that we agree on... and by that I mean *I* agree on, would begin at the point you first bring them home for a meal... not from when you and Buffy state you started seeing so-and-so."

Buffy continued to watch the conversation with her mouth open. 'I'm not supposed to discuss things like that with my *mother*.' She thought to herself.

Chapter 25

The Next Day. Sunnydale High School. The Library.

"So..." Giles began as he left his office, taking a quick look around at the students circling the table. Studying them all in their various degrees of attentiveness. Willow was looking on with wide open eyes, taking in each word he'd been saying. Jesse was sitting next to her, however he was less attentive, peering over at Faith wearing a smug grin while flipping him the bird for some reason or other. Sighing he moved his attention around to the remaining students, Buffy seemed happy to flick her attention between himself and then back to watching whatever Jesse and Faith were arguing about, beside her Xander was holding a crossbow upside down, shaking it occasionally. Obviously trying to figure out what was wrong with the firing mechanism. Cordelia was slightly paying attention, but she kept pushing all the pieces that rolled over back to his section of the table. Coughing to attract their attention, he continued. "So... we have no further leads on Ms Post?" He asked.

"None." Willow responded. "I did some brief checking on the internet last night. No one signed in using her name in any of the local hotels. I'm going to speak to Ms Calendar later about seeing if we can look into finding out what credit cards she was using... that way we can track her financially." She finished.

"What if she's using cash?" Buffy asked.

"We should be able to find out where she's withdrawing cash from." Willow explained, "Least that way we'll have an idea about which town she's in."

"She's still local." Buffy answered dismissively, turning her attention back to where Jesse was now flicking pieces of paper at Faith.

"You're certain..?" Giles asked, wondering if it was some form of Slayer intuition or something that gave Buffy the confident tone in her answer.

"Yep." She replied turning back. "Did a check this mornin..."

There was a loud noise where Xander had banged the crossbow on the table. "Sorry..." He said, looking around sheepishly.

"What are you doing..?" Faith asked.

"He's fixing it, can't you tell..?" Jesse answered sarcastically. "See all those metal pieces, they should be *inside* the crossbow... it won't work like that."

Faith threw her bag at him, almost knocking him off his chair. Buffy just smiled as he threw it back, Faith catching it casually.

"As you were saying..?" Giles tried to get the conversation back on track.

"Doesn't fire properly." Xander answered without looking up. "You pull the trigger and there's a small delay before it releases the bow."

"Not you." Giles clarified.

"The one I had kept going off." Cordelia turned to inform Xander.

"Which one was that..?" Xander asked, mentally adding it to the list.

"Are you certain it was the crossbow at fault..?" Jesse commented, ignoring Faith as she rolled her eyes.

"Yes I'm certain. And not sure..." Cordelia answered both questions, looking at each person as she did so.

Xander sighed heavily, and was surprised to find Giles doing so at the same time.

Glancing upwards he looked at Giles with what he hoped was going to be recognition in Giles eyes, but instead found a glare that seemed to be focused on Buffy.

"Right..." She said, trying to remember what he could be blaming her for. "Oh yeah. This morning... We took a quick run up to Restfield..."

"I drove." Xander muttered, ducking his head before Giles turned the glare his way.

Buffy smiled and patted him lightly on the arm, as his attention went back to where he was connecting what looked like a small hook back to the main part of the crossbow. "Xander met us there. We went to the Von Hauptman crypt again, and this time discovered it open... looking inside, all the lids had been thrown off the upper coffins, and the downstairs..." She paused trying to think of the technical term. "...bit, was in an even worse state."

"So she's returned..?" Giles asked.

"And from the mess, she may have got goons." Faith added.

"Where do they get goons from..?" Jesse mused aloud. "Can we find out where the source of all the goons are and stop them..?"

Willow turned to look at him.

"Hey it's a good idea..." He defended himself. "If we stop all evil people from managing to employ goons and vampire minions, they'd all be so much easier to deal with."

"I think that's why they get them in the first place." Willow stated.

"You really can't say goons." Buffy said, staring at Jesse. "Seriously, you can't pull it off... if I were you I'd make a mental note never to say it again."

"Like you said it any better." Jesse retorted.

"Guys... face it." Faith attracted the group's attention, seemingly taking on the role of peacekeeper in this debate. "None of you are as cool as I am." She finished.

Shaking his head, Giles began to give them final instuctions. "Okay, so she might be in town... and she might think we still have the Glove."

"If she read that book she'll know we know how to destroy it." Jesse corrected him.

"If she read that far." Giles replied. "She may have only read about the location before making her escape."

"And she might think we could be in two minds about whether or not to destroy it." Willow added.

"Whether she thinks we got it or not... we're on her shit list." Faith summarised for the group. "It all comes down to whether she leaves town or not... if she stays, she's coming after us... there's no other reason for her to stay."

"Quite." Giles replied, agreeing with Faith's assessment. "Everyone, we need to find out if she's still around, Willy might be a good person to check in with... especially if she's hired some g... help." He finished ignoring smug looks off both Jesse and Faith. "Willow, work with Jenny on finding Ms Post using that... computer thing... you suggested doing." He drifted off, brow frowning in concentration as he began to realise some other implications. He left the table, "Excuse me, I need to make a phone call."

"So I'm in the group that goes to see Willy?" Cordelia asked, realising that only Willow had been specifically given a particular job. "I can do that." She commented, glancing around at the others.

Xander threw the pieces of metal up in the air, letting them land noisely around the table. "I give up... I take it apart, clean everything and put it back together... yet it's *still* crap." Turning to see Giles heading towards his office, he shouted. "Have you got a manual..?"


Computer Room.
Computer Lesson.

"Hmmmm...." Willow began, peering intently at the computer screen. Which showed a list of local ATM machines. She entered another command, this time recieving a list of card numbers that had withdrawn money from a particular within the last twenty four hours. "Ms Calendar..?" She said softly, eyes never leaving the screen.

Cordelia turned at her friend's voice. She glanced around the room, noticing that the teacher was looking over the work of another student. Cordelia sat a little higher in her seat, allowing her to peer over the computer monitor. Harmony was the student currently capturing Jenny's attention.

Cordelia leaned her head round the side of the screen, quickly glancing at both women and getting eye contact with each of them. With Jenny she flicked her eyes in the direction of Willow, and with Harmony she gestured for Harmony to come talk to her.

Jenny gave a grateful glance too and moved over to Willow.

Harmony came closer. "What..? Aren't you too busy spending time with those losers..?"

Cordelia waved it off, as though it didn't matter. "Goss... you want it or not..?" She asked, knowing Harmony would be unable to resist.

Harmony's eyes lit up as she moved her chair closer to Cordelia, enabling them to whisper in hushed tones. "What goss..?"

"I'm officially *back* on the dating circuit." Cordelia answered.

"It's not Jesse or Xander, is it..?" Harmony said with some distaste.

Cordelia bit back her initial response and counted to ten. "No... you remember Scott Hope...?"

"Him..?" Harmony asked. "Haven't you dated him before..?"

"So..?" Cordelia replied. "He's cute... and anyway I figured if I'm going to start again, it might as well be with one of the nicer boys in the school."

"When you broke up he called you a snob." Harmony informed her.

"He never fitted in with the gang we were hanging around with..." Cordelia answered automatically. "The cheerleader and jock thing just wasn't his scene... so after Larry." She added, knowing the response she'd get.

"True... after Larry." Harmony agreed.

"That's why I'm hanging out with Xander and the others..." Cordelia lied. "They're more his type of people... he feels more comfortable there." She said, dismissing all her recent behaviour with a plausible excuse, least in Harmony's eyes. "Remember Harm... school's all about politics, and it's all about making people feel comfortable in their surroundings..." She continued, confident that Harmony was buying everyone word.

Meanwhile, Jenny had leaned over Willow. "Well?"

"I've got a list from each machine." Willow stated. "That's the local one's covered. So we'll know if she turns up here. Would need to write a different program for a more national search, that one isn't practical."

"Yes." Jenny agreed, quickly glancing over Willow's program. "I've got it setup to just do the bank that we know she's with at first... or was with." She thought aloud. "Make it so that we can get statements of any transactions from her account as the main bank find's out about them..."

"I've written this one to check every hour." Willow commented. "That way it provides a complete list of all withdrawals quickly."

"If it turns out she's not using any of the accounts we're familiar with, it's going to be far more difficult." Jenny answered, trying to find a natural starting point for such a task. "If nothing comes up in first few days then we need to rethink this whole thing."



"So any luck..?" Jesse asked his girlfriend as she arrived at their table.

"It's working fine now." Xander answered automatically, only paying attention when Buffy slapped him gently on the shoulder. "What was that for?"

"Sweety, we're all very proud that you fixed the crossbow, but he was talking to Willow."

"Why what was she fixing..?" Xander asked.

"Not fixing... creating. And it was a computer program to find Ms Post." Willow informed him. "And if she's local we should be in the know... if she's left if could be more difficult." She said, answering the original question.

"If she's left I'm not too worried about it." Buffy commented. "Unless Faith decides she still owes her one, and wants to go hunt her across America."

"Talking Faith out of *that* is a job you're welcome to." Jesse stated, biting into his sandwich.

"How come I'm getting volunteered for that..?" Buffy asked, turning to pout at her boyfriend. Who merely leaned over and kissed her before shrugging and returning his attention to his own food.

"It might be that she's changed accounts and we don't know where she is." Willow answered.

"And on that cheery note." Xander stated through a mouth half full of food. When their attentions turned to him he gestured to where Cordelia and Faith were walking over to them, Cordelia linking arms with the boy seemingly attached to her, while Faith laughed at something the other guy said.

"Hey guys." Faith said, climbing up to sit on the table.

"Heya." Buffy responded with a grin.

"Scott, I believe you know everyone." Cordelia stated, waving her hand to gesture to the table full of people.

"Not really." He replied.

"Right, silly me." Cordelia said. "Right..." She began pointing towards each person in turn as she went round the table in a clockwise direction, each of them waving as their names were mentioned. "Willow. Willow's boyfriend Jesse. The one filling his face is Xander. And this is Buffy, Xander's girlfriend."

Buffy smiled back, nodding politely at Scott and then turning to face Faith with an expectant look on her face.

"What... me too?" Faith asked, shrugging. "Pete, the guys... the guys, Pete."

"Not sure I like being referred to as one of the guys." Willow said, quickly glaring at Faith.

Faith smiled, as she could tell there was no real heat in it.

"Hi." Xander said, offering his hand to be shaken. "I'm Guy number One." He declared first, sneering at Jesse.

"And I'm guy numbered Jesse." Jesse responded quickly, also offering his hand to both newcomers.

"Not-guy called Willow." She informed them, from her position on the chair.

"Just Buffy." Buffy stated, also shaking their hands.

"Right..." Scott said. Cordelia ushering him into one of the seats, a huge grin plastered on her face.

"So how do you guys all know each other..?" Pete asked, looking around the group.

"Grew up as childhood friends." Jesse replied, Willow and Xander nodding in agreement.

"I kinda knew them... but didn't." Cordelia semi-explained.

"Got to know them when I moved here." Buffy shrugged, trying to pass their little gang off as nothing special.

"Ditto." Faith said, leaning over to steal Xander's sandwich.

"That's mine." Xander tried to reach for it, but Faith held him off with her free hand.

"Mine now." She commented, taking a bite into the end he'd been eating from.

"It's got his germs on it." Willow commented.

"That's like you've kissed Xander." Jesse added in teasing tone.

"Hey..." Xander said loudly

"Is it..?" Faith stated, this time seemingly examining it more when she took another bite. "Thought so... Sloppy kisser..?" She asked, turning towards Buffy.

"Don't answer that..." Xander instructed her waggling his finger in her general direction. "Or you." He added, waggling it at Cordelia.

The group laughed at the light-hearted jokes at Xander's expense. None of them noticed the quick glare Pete sent his way.

Chapter 26

End Of School Day. The Car Park.

"So what's tonight's fun and frolics going to consist of..?" Jesse asked from his position of sitting on the bonnet of his own car. Willow was lying down, resting her head on her boyfriend's lap, her feet gently tapping in time to the music.

"Not sure." Cordelia answered, leaning out of her car window, having drove over to them once the car park became a little emptier.

"What..?" Jesse shouted.

Cordelia turned the car engine off, effectively silencing the radio which had been blasting away.

"Not sure." She repeated, turning her head back inside to glare at the radio. "What song was that?"

"Dunno." Willow answered, looking directly up to Jesse with a questioning glare.

He simply shrugged.

"Dammit." Cordelia responded. "Need to know what it is so I can buy it."

"Was kinda catchy..." Willow drifted off.

"You need to know what it is now..?" Jesse asked.

"It's the weirdest thing." Cordelia stated, then after recieving their looks of astonishment, she quickly clarified. "Well, not Hellmouth weird... but still pretty weird... though I guess it is Hellmouth related."

"There was nothing that impressive about the song." Jesse informed her.

"Not the song, dufus." Cordelia corrected him. "But the me... the one that was here before *me*... if you see what I mean."

"Oh god, it's one of these again." Jesse lifted his hands to his face. "I can feel the headache growing already."

"What about that you?" Willow asked, without missing a beat.

"She had really different taste in music to me... it's like about a year ago my tastes and her's completely seperated... you know."

"Not really." Jesse answered, trying to keep track of the conversation.

"You know, you're possibly the only person who can speak about themselves in both first and third person terms at the same time... and manage to be completely correct." Willow informed them, then added quietly. "Without being schizophrenic."

"I didn't know that." Cordelia stated, ignoring the comment. "And as a result I've had to re-purchase almost all my own CDs..."

"I'm sure I could do it if I really tried." Jesse commented, looking at Willow.

"Do you even know which is the first person and which is the third..?" She responded, glancing up at him.

"Of course." He replied with certainty, but was saved from any more comments by the arrival of Buffy and Xander.

"Hey guys." Buffy commented as she walked up to the group, leaning on Cordelia's car next to the driver's window.

"Hey." Xander added, climbing onto Cordelia's bonnet.

"Hey, geekboy." She shouted leaning out of her window. "Sit on your own car."

"I'm not hurting it." Xander replied, leaning closer towards her, threatening to put a dirty hand on the windscreen.

"Off!!!" She shouted again.

"Make me." He teased, pushing his tongue out in a childish manner, while Buffy turned her attention to the others.

"He's like a child in both dimensions." She heard Cordelia mutter, before watching amazed as she turned the car engine on.

"People could get hurt." Willow quickly stated. "Last time he tried car surfing, he fell off."

"That wasn't intentional." Jesse corrected her.

"He still almost broke his leg." Willow stated defiantly.

"It just was a grazed knee." Xander tried arguing but no-one listened.

"I like his legs in working order." Buffy commented, reaching towards the open window intending to pull the keys out of the ignition.

"Relax," Cordelia told them. "I'm not *driving* anywhere." She then proceeded to turn both the windscreen wipers and the washers on.

"Quit it." Xander quickly jumped off. Holding his hand where he'd been hit by one of the wiper blades, and staring at his right shoulder which had been caught in the spray.

"Next time get off when I tell you." Cordelia said.


"Nope... in fact, next time climb on someone else's car." She corrected herself.

"Sorry..." Xander said, making a small buzzing sound. "We can only take your first answer."

"What did he do now..?" A new voice asked, as Faith strolled into the group, Pete walking alongside her.

"Just the usual Harris lack of charm." Jesse commented, responding to Faith's question.

"Hey!!" Xander said. Turning to his girlfriend, he then asked. "Aren't you going to defend me?"

Buffy however was smiling at Faith, and giving her a knowing look. Faith for the most part, was giving her a glare promising a dark and painful death back, practically daring her to say anything. Which was causing Buffy's grin to grow even wider.

Cordelia raised her eyebrows at seeing Pete's arrival, and quickly flicked her view to Faith before being subjected to the death stares herself. "He does tend to hide behide women's skirts." Cordelia commented without much enthusiasm, using it mainly to remove Faith's attention from her own person.

"I do not..." Xander commented, letting his eyes flick downwards towards the skirt that Buffy was wearing. "Though I wouldn't mind hiding in them..." He added, trying to avoid Buffy's unreadable look.

"So you're a transvestite here..?" Cordelia teased.

"Here..?" Pete queried, most of the others having forgotten about his prescence due to his silence.

"Now... she meant *now*." Willow quickly covered, Cordelia eagerly nodding her agreement.

"I'm not a transvestite!!!" Xander shouted. "Not anywhere and not anywhen."

Then he noticed the others looking over his shoulder. Sighing, he turned around to see Larry climbing into a nearby car.

"None of my business bud." Larry shouted back, before starting his engine and driving off.

"This is just great." Xander replied, banging his head on Cordelia's bonnet.

"Will you stop that." She ordered him.

"Right, I'm going home before anything else happens." Xander informed them, linking arms with Buffy.

"What's tonight's plan bud..?" Jesse asked as they were leaving.

"Not sure..." Buffy started to reply as she turnd to respond, then paused as her eyes fell on Pete. "... how it can be any different to any other night... probably meet up at the Bronze later."

"Kay." Willow responded, climbing off the car and getting into the passenger side of Jesse's car.

"Cool." Jesse stated, getting the silent hint.

"Faith, you coming with us..?" Buffy asked as they made their way across to Xander's car.

"Yep... hold on." Faith answered as she gave Pete a quick goodbye kiss.

"I can take you home." Pete offered, gently grabbing her hand.

"Nah... it's fine... Xander'll prob be round ours for a while anyway... mostly likely trying to score some of Joyce's food, if not with her daughter." Faith smirked, while shrugged it off as being an unnecessary gesture.

As Jesse and Willow quickly drove off, Pete turned to Faith and asked. "So... what time at the Bronze..?"

Faith glanced at Cordelia for help. "Not sure..." she offered.

"We're normally in there by half nine at the latest." Cordelia responded. "Tell you what... you speak to Scott and we'll meet you both in there sometime around nine-ish.

"Sounds good." Faith agreed, before giving him another kiss and running off in front towards Xander's car.

"I can pick you up..?" Pete shouted after her.

"I'll be with Buffy so don't worry about it." Faith shouted back.

Pete watched her catch up with her friends before they reached the car. Cordelia shouted "Goodbye!" as she drove off herself.

Realising he was now standing alone in an empty part of the car park, he slowly made his way towards his own vehicle.

Having approached the car first, Xander held the door open for the two girls to climb in.

"After you, ladies..." He commented, gesturing for them to climb into the passenger seat.

"What a gentleman." Buffy nodded towards him, as she passed.

"Suckup." Faith added, starting to climb in.

"You're welcome..." He moved to close the door, before smirking and quietly adding ".. slut."

"You can talk." Faith commented as she placed her hand on the door handle, using her superior strength to lightly bang the door into his knees.

"Argh." He commented, walking around to the driver side with a slight limp. "What did that mean..?" He asked as he climbed in, now secure in the knowledge that buffy seperated him from the dark haired Slayer.

She smirked as she began to inform him, "I'm just saying... in two dimensions you've managed to get three of the four girls in our little gang. I'm the only one who's resisted your charms."

"And isn't that a surpr..." He muttered as he started the engine, and put the car in gear.

Buffy quickly interrupted him. "You do realise I'm not going to defend you in a fight if it's actually *your* fault, right..?"

"No, I didn't know that." He responded. "And while I think it is unfair... I won't be pressing the issue at this particular moment."

"Giles was wrong... he does have some common sense then." Faith smirked back.


"Not defending." Buffy repeated.

Xander pouted at his girlfriend, while on the opposite side Faith stuck her tongue out at him.

"But you can't attack while the car is in motion either." Buffy added, turning to face her sister Slayer.

None of them noticed Pete standing beside his car, his eyes never leaving their car until it drove out of the parking lot and out of sight.


Later That Evening.
Prior To Dusk.
The Masters Old Lair.

"Right..." Jonathan stated happily, admiring the handiwork in front of him. "So that's these rooms kitted out with some necessities... Stephen, I think we need to move you and your expertise onto some of the other buildings."

"I'm not done here yet." The other vampire commented, placing his toolbox down on one of the unused coffins.

"I'm still not certain about whether we need lights or not." Jonathan answered, eyes quickly scanning the surrounding areas, deciding that the current level of candlelight was more than adequate to see by. "And I think making a start on the other buildings is more important."

"That wasn't what I meant." Stephen replied, pausing as if unsure how to broach the subject, he swallowed once then continued. "Mister Trick wouldn't let me in the room to wire him up... he threatened to stake me when I tried to take a look around."

Jonathan shook his head, mocking the minion. "Stephen... no-one likes a tell-tale... but I'll speak to Trick, let me worry about it, I'll find out what he wants, and send someone for you if it's necessary." Walking over to the vampire, he raised his arm up to put it around the larger man's shoulder. "I *need* you to get started on the other buildings."

"They won't take as long." Stephen confidently answered.

"Really..?" Jonathan asked in an interested tone.

"Sure... two of them are ex-warehouses... so it's just a matter of reconnecting a few cables and ensuring the power continues into the building... in this I had to drag lots of cables down here in the first place." He shrugged, "That's why the entrance is such a mess. I won't have to do that in the others."

"Even the mansion?"

"I haven't taken a look, but I assume it had electricity going to it at some point..." He drifting off, pausing to ponder the situation. "Even if it hadn't... it's on the street so it should be fairly easy to connect up."

"Excellent." Jonathan smiled back. "And we get the electricity forever right..?"

"Not quite." Stephen admitted. "At some point the electric company will notice the unscheduled power usage and track it down so that they are able to pinpoint it's location. And that's a seperate task for each site."

"And what do we do then..?" Jonathan asked, curious.

Stephen folded one arm across his chest while the other scratched his chin. "We have to reconnect it." He answered bluntly. "Normally I'd say the problem would be acquiring more cable if the company decide to strip it out... but if they follow the cable then they're gonna run across some of us, so I guess that way it's just a matter of reconnecting everything still." He stopped, rethinking his options. "Worse case scenario is that they rip out enough out so that we can't get what we have to reach, but they don't venture far enough to be caught..."

"And if that happens..?"

"We'd be down for twenty four hours tops..." Stephen replied immediately. "We'd have to wait til dark before we could steal anymore but once we've got it, I just need to get to work."

"Stephen... I must admit, for a vampire, you're a very useful person to know." Jonathan commented. "Is everything alright with you..? Enjoying the girls I sent you..?"

"Oh yes." He answered, a smirk coming to his face. "But I was wondering..."

"Stephen, don't be shy." Jonathan said, placing his hands together to show he was listening. "You can tell me..."

"I overheard you talking to Mister Trick about getting some television down here."

Jonathan looked confused, tilting his head slightly to the left he gestured for the engineer to continue. "And..?"

"There's a woman named Maria Locans... she works for the cable company... as a field engineer." Stephen stated without making eye-contact with Jonathan.

"You making recommendations now..? Is she the best or something..?"

"I dunno about that... but she's the hottest engineer I've ever met." Stephen replied enthusiastically. "I asked her out once but she turned me down." He confessed sadly.

"And you'd like another shot at it... one where she's less likely to say no." Jonathan grinned back. "Perfectly understandable... you see Stephen, this is how working relationships are meant to be... you do me a favour, I do you a favour. Now, tell me about this girl so I can get the boys to look out for her."

Chapter 27

Giles Residence.

"And..?" Jenny asked waiting for him to sit down and start on the meal she'd prepared.

"What do you mean, 'And..?'" Giles replied, continuing the pacing in front of her. "The Council is quite unhelpful regarding this situation. I really expect more from them, it goes against the grain of our every tradition."

"Rupe, it's really not that big a deal." She sighed.

"Not that big a deal..?" He countered loudly, throwing his hands up in the air in disbelief. "For centuries, Watchers have produced hand-written reports concerning all the information they believe to be relevant to the Slayer Lore... it is our method of ensuring that future Slayers have the best chance of survival, while continuing to look after the Slayer currently in their care."

"They're not actually trying to stop you doing any of that."

"They want me to send my reports in via computer... by *computer* of all things."

"The report is still essentially the same." Jenny tried to explain. "The contents are what you enter... all that's changed is you'd be using a keyboard instead of a pen."

"It's not the same... reading through previous Watcher diaries, I was quite able to distinguish between various Watchers by the penmanship... the style... the flow with which they added each new piece of information into the existing document."

"So you're worried they'll blend in..?" She asked confused.

"Yes..." He stated, believing she'd got it now. "If I was looking for the last time a Slayer faced more than one Pengric demon in a single instant... then I'd remember my studies and I could picture the few times they'd been mentioned and..." He paused, seeing if there was any sign or recognition in Jenny's eyes. "... and recognise the handwriting and I'd immediately know where to start looking." He explained.

"Okay... so I could see how that could be useful." She commented, trying to hold back the smirk. "Whereas if it was on a computer then all you could actually do, was do a search for Pengric and get any document that contained a reference to that demon."

"Arghhh..." He shouted, striding forcefully out of the room. A few moments passed before he returned. "You know... not even Ms Post was doing that.. and *she* was evil."

"She did all the work on computer." Jenny informed him. "She simply printed off documents and sent them. Which would make sense as it means she could obtain multiple copies quite quickly."

"I could do that using a photocopier." Giles answered.

"You sure it wouldn't be quicker to get some young students to write it out themselves... making their best efforts at copying the handwriting..?" She stated in a sarcastic tone. "They're trying to join the twentieth century... you know... before it ends."

"I don't see why..." Giles replied, "These procedures have been passed down for many centuries... and they've always faired well enough in the past."

"That's not exactly true is it..?" Jenny countered, an evil smile growing on her face. "I'm sure that fountain pens were looked upon as witchcraft once upon a time, I mean how could they hope to replace the quill with that kind of new-fangled technology."

Looking up to meet his glare, she held back the giggle that threatened to escape from her throat before continuing. "And I think I once even saw you using a biro."

"I hardly think that is the same thi..." He answered before getting interrupted.

"Wouldn't all documents have had to be hand delivered... either by the Watcher or some Junior assigned to them... it was probably decades before the Watchers chose to trust the post office." She stated, unable to stop the initial laugh from escaping when she saw his face.

As he strode up the stairs, she laughingly shouted after him. "And that paper idea... what's that all about... pure evil, that's what it is... there's no way anything that flimsy could hope to ever replace the stone tablet."

The barely audible "Hummph." came from their bedroom, as she sat down and using a fork took a mouthful of lasagne. Still grinning as she did so.


The Old Master's Lair.

"Hey." Jonathan said, as he pushed the curtained divider to Trick's cavernous room. "Stephen said you hadn't got the electrics done yet."

Trick had moved as soon as he'd heard the sound, moving to intercept Jonathan before he entered the room. "I've been busy."

Jonathan held his hands up in a non-threatening gesture. "Anything I need to know about."

"You'll know more before daybreak tomorrow." Trick answered.

"Okay." Jonathan replied, accepting that Trick may have a few plans in the works. "So... you need the boys again tonight..?"


"Cos I was gonna take a few and try and find this cable woman that Stephen knows... gonna get the tv sorted." Jonathan explained.

"Sounds good." Trick replied disinterested. "I'll probably get Stephen to kit me out in a day or so."

"He's moving down to Spike's old place tomorrow." Jonathan informed him. "If you want him to do your room before he makes a start on that then just say the word."

"It's okay." Trick answered. "I'll get it done soon enough."

"Don't really understand the delay." Jonathan admitted, "But it's your room."

Trick sighed. "I wasn't going to show you this yet." He stated, lifting the makeshift curtain aside to allow Jonathan to see into the room.

"Is that..?" Jonathan replied, eyes going wide. Continuing once Trick nodded, "But why..?"

"This room..?" Trick finished for him. "Well, it's kinda like this..."


That Night.

"I've never seen her stay seated for that long." Willow mumbled into her boyfriend's shoulder as they danced to a slow number. "I thought she was genetically unable to do so."

"Hmmm...." Jesse muttered back, eyes flicked over to where Faith was seated with some of the others. Xander and Scott got up and moved over to the bar to fetch drinks, leaving Faith sitting with Cordelia, Buffy and Pete.

"Especially the crazy dance one." Willow commented, lifting her head so she could see his facial expressions. "I was watching her while you and Xander did that... thing... you did. What was that by the way?"

"Dunno." He responded, looking down to meet her gaze. "Think Xander was trying to embarrass Buffy with some really weird moves."

"So you just copied him on the other side of her..? It was the fact you were about a second behind that was freaking me out."

"You try having to second guess a Xander Harris dance move... it's impossible." Jesse explained.

"It couldn't even been referred to as choreography. It was more like one person having a fit and their unco-ordinated shadow trying to replicate it."

"Really... cos that was exactly how it felt too." Jesse teased back. "We embarrassed Buffy so I guess we succeeded."

"It wasn't Buffy I was watching it was the others." Willow confessed. "Cordy monitored Scott's reactions to ensure he was enjoying himself, which he did seem to be. Pete just looked confused then watched Faith... Faith looked like she was kinda pining to be involved."

Jesse shrugged, "She probably was. Like you said, girl doesn't sit still for that long."

"I kinda feel sorry for Pete though." Willow stated. "I know *I* couldn't do anything like that... so when you join in, I'm glad to be left out of it... But I think Pete wanted Faith to enjoy herself... and wasn't sure how to tell her to. And if he couldn't do that sort of thing himself without dying of embarrassment..." She drifted off.

"Hey, no-one's gonna force him to do anything he doesn't want to." Jesse leaned in to gently kiss her nose. "We don't expect you to do anything you're not comfortable with. Pete'll just have to learn to fit in where he can."

"But I think he really likes her... and it seems that she really likes him. I just have a good feeling about this you know."


At The Bar.

"So Scott, what do you do..? I can't say I've seen you much around school." Xander asked bluntly while they waited to be served.

"I'm at school..." Scott answered in a 'duh' tone, before grinning back to show he was joking. "Seriously though, not that much. If you went to your social history lessons then you would have seen me in there."

"*I* take social history..?" Xander asked, "Wow, you learn something new every day."

Scott grinned. "Well... I only noticed you were missing this afternoon... I can't say I've looked for you before." He shrugged, confessing "You were neither someone I knew, nor a hot girl."

"Alas, that is my life in summary." Xander joked.

"I knew enough to know that I never really pictured you hanging aroud Cordelia though." Scott commented.

"A truer word was never spoken... until last week... when those words kinda became a lie." Xander mused out loud.

"So what changed..?" Scott asked interested.

"Ermmm..." Xander thought, wondering how to answer that one. "I guess, she did."

"I *had* noticed a change myself." Scott confessed. "Hanging out with her other friends far less... I always thought she could be someone interesting... once you managed to get her past the school's social structure."

"Gotta confess..." Xander stated, "This is a far superior Cordelia than the one I knew."

"Wonder what happened to her." Scott pondered.

"And on that note, what were the drinks again..?" Xander gratefully changed topic as the barman arrived to take their order.


Sunnydale Town Centre.

Maria Locans knocked on the door again. The place looked completely empty, not a light was on in the building. "Damn students..." She muttered to herself, as she rechecked her clipboard.

"Yep, here it is..." She commented aloud, "Bunch of students from UCSD moved off campus." Looking up, she sighed satisfied this was just the type of cheap accomodation some students would pick out as a 'cool' place to live.

Knocking again, she looked up at the various windows. The building was three stories high and she had no idea how many of the floors the students had rented. "Might not be able to hear me... course they could just be out... or stoned or something." She mumbled, continuing to curse about people who weren't in when they were expected to be. For a split second she thought she saw movement on the rooftop.

Checking the name on the clipboard she continued to mutter. "Dammit..." Taking a few steps back, she tried to get a better angle to see if there had been anyone on the roof or if her eyes were simply playing tricks on her.

"Mr Levinson... is that you..?" She shouted upwards and into the night.

Chapter 28

Closing Time. The Bronze.

"Well..." Scott began as they left the Bronze and all made their way over to the parked cars. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow, Cordelia."

"Sure... three more days of school." She added grinning. "Then my parents are taking me to New York for Christmas."

"New York..?" Jesse asked, dragging Willow along as he caught up in order to join in the conversation.

"To see my uncle..." She explained. "We do it every year... he's a big judge in the city. We spend Christmas day with him, all the family go... it's nice to see snow on Christmas."

Jesse thought about it. "I don't think I've ever done that."

"Well..." Willow smiled, "I don't think California is known for it's White Christmases."

"Aren't you Jewish..?" Jesse asked rhetorically. "I didn't think you were allowed to wish for a White Christmas."

Cordelia and Scott smiled at the teasing.

"I'll be at your house." Willow countered. "So I'll be wishing for whatever everyone else in the house does."

"I haven't even asked you yet." He said with a fake sneer, "You'll have to be extra-specially nice to me or you can enjoy Christmas at your own non-festive house."

"Your mom already did... and I accepted. So ner." She finished lamely.

"I have to go to my gran's on Christmas." Scott commented.

"Anywhere nice..?" Cordelia asked. "Oooh... does she live in Europe... I bet Christmas in Europe is really snowy."

"Some parts of Europe are always snowy." Willow commented, shaking her head.

"She lives in Oxnard." Scott answered.

"Have you ever been..?" Cordelia asked.

"Oxnard?" Jesse answered confused.

"No... Europe." Cordelia cleared up the confusion. "Why would I care if you'd been to Oxnard..?" Then glancing towards Scott and then back to Jesse, she quickly corrected her mistake. "Unless you have family there too..?"

"No." Willow replied. "I went to Canada once."

"And that's like Europe how..?" Cordelia wondered aloud.

"It had snow." Willow replied in a quiet tone.

"I went to the Alps last Summer." Cordelia informed them. "Now *that* was a skiiing holiday."

Jesse leaned over to Willow. "I thought *this* Cordelia was supposed to be less snobby." He whispered causing her to giggle. "Oh god save me from the Chase family skiing stor..."

He was interrupted by a scream in the background.

Immediately tensing up, he glanced first to Willow, then at Cordelia, and as one all three of them turned to see the trailing group.

"What was that?" Scott asked curious, not noticing the change in body language of the others.

The other group were about twenty feet behind, and had all obviously heard it as well.

Buffy was the first to react, patting her coat to check she had a weapon handy on her, she was about to run off in the direction of the scream beginning to utter her first command. "Fai..." She began.

Xander grabbed her arm, pulling her close to him. "Faith, did you hear that, Faith..?" he stated, while Buffy stared accusingly into his eyes.

He met her gaze, then rolled his eyes left, gesturing for her to turn in that direction. She quickly did so and looked to the couple next to them. Faith had also gone straight into a fight or flight mode, but was hampered by still linking arms with Pete. Who had now removed his other hand from his jeans pocket, allowing him to better defend the girl with him.

The two Slayers made eye contact and a silent question was asked. 'What do we do about Pete?'

Luckily, Pete was oblivious to the three pairs of eyes glancing in his direction. "Shouldn't we go investigate..?" He asked seriously. "There are eight of us... maybe we can scare whoever it is off."

By this time the others had joined them, Jesse being the first to speak. "I think it came from over by the old abandoned cinema." He stated, also glancing at the two new members of their little gang.

"You can't be sure of that." Xander quickly replied.

Both Faith and Buffy staring directly at him, trying to silently confirm Jesse's estimate.

"We should probably split up." Xander continued on, ignoring the others. "I'll go with Jesse and see if he's right."

"Me too." Both Buffy and Willow added immediately.

Faith sighed, realising she'd been sidelined. "So us four'll go that way." She said pointing in the opposite direction, towards a random alley. "See if it came from over there."

"Right..." Pete agreed forcefully, bending down to pick up a loose half brick. "Stay behind me." He instructed Faith as he led the way.

Cordelia quickly put her hands on Faith's shoulders and tried to ease the tension. "It'll be okay." She said soothingly. "It's probably just some kids messing around or something."

"Still..." Scott added, stepping in front of the girls. "Better to be safe than sorry."

Pete and Scott led the way down the deserted alley, neither knowing that the most danger they were in was coming from the enraged Slayer who hadn't taken kindly to being treated like a little girl.

Cordelia doing her best to keep the other girl's temper in check.

As soon as they had entered the alley and gone completely out of the sight, the other four picked up their pace into a run. Heading down an alley the led directly for the old cinema.

"Everyone packing..?" Buffy asked as they all ran at Willow's pace. The reponses came in the form of two nods and Jesse waving his stake up to be seen.

"Right." She added as they reached the other end of the alley, watching as it opened up into a street that was full of disused buildings. "Must be somewhere around here." She commented as they all began to scan the local area for any signs of a struggle.

"Can't see anything." Jesse commented.

"I'm guessing the van's got something to do with it, but we can't see any owner." Willow added.

"It's parked in front of that old building." Xander commented. "Any bets..?"

"Let's go in and see." Buffy commented striding across the road, the others drawing weapons as they followed.

They'd just got to the door when a woman burst out with shredded overalls on. Jesse tried to catch her, but she ran directly into the side of the parked van.

"Run!!" She shouted at them, "They're crazy," she said, darting round to the opposite side of the van, attempting to unlock the door. Struggling with the keys she glanced up and saw two figures leaving the building she dropped the keys as she automatically began screaming again.

The first vampire ran out knocking Jesse to the ground, the vampire smiled as he saw the person he'd knocked over wasn't the one he was sent to capture. Extra people meant extra meals. He inhaled deeply smelling the fear coming off... the woman screaming. Confused he sniffed again, looking around at the others he noticed that they all were pumping adrenalin but none were running away and none of the others actually seemed scared of him. "Brave little souls, aren't you..? Foolish but brave." He leered at the thin redhead bending down to the fallen boy.

Hearing the sound of his friend attacking the short blonde girl, he leaned towards the couple climbing to their feet and went "Boo." as he changed into his vampire visage. Neither of the two in front of him seemed surprised. Turning to check on his friend, his eyes widened as he saw his fellow vampire sailing into the wall. "Slayer!!" He spat as he made to join the fight.

Only to find himself kicked from the side by the lad who was now standing. "Killing the Slayer's friends would definitely earn me respect." He commented, smirking as they raised weapons in front if them ready to defend.

The redhead looked at him and smiled. "You should probably learn to count them first."

"What..?" The vampire responded just as he felt the wood pierce his back and he quickly dissolved into dust.

Xander smiled at his friends. "Killed by Math... who'd a thought it."

The three friends turned to watch Buffy stake her opponent, before dusting herself off and walking round to the frightened woman.

"It's okay... they're gone now." She reassured, gently placing a hand on one of her shoulders.

Jesse knelt to pick up the keys, unlocking her door and offering the keys back he opened it, gesturing for her to get in. "It's probably best not to take jobs in certain neighbourhoods once it's dark ma'am," He explained. "There's a gang problem that sunnydale doesn't admit to."

"They were *monsters*!" The woman stated confidently, "Their faces!"

"It's okay... they've gone now." Willow replied, patting her gently on the arm. "You're just a little shook up..."

"Did you get him..?" The woman asked, "The one who said I wasn't a meal... whatever that meant..."

"Got both of them." Buffy replied.

"Two..?" The woman asked, fear returning at their nods. "There were... I dunno... more. The short one sai..."

"Short one?" Xander asked, getting that sinking feeling. Turning towards the others, "You think Jonathan's going for the older woman look now?"

"Don't know." Buffy replied. "This short one... did he have short brown hair? And a kind of loser type look..?"

"He knew my name." The woman repeated. "I walked in, and he said 'Hello Maria. Stephen sends his regards.' How did he know my name..?"

"I don't know." Buffy repeated again, then with a puzzled look on her face. "Who is Stephen..?"

"I don't know any Stephen's..." Maria turned to her, growing more excited with each sentence. "You think it was a mistake..? That they're not really after me..?" She paused, seemingly weighing up her own question. "But they knew my name..." She concluded defeatedly.

"I don't know." Willow answered, gently pushing her into the van. "I think you should go straight home... and don't let anyone into your house. Even if you know them..."

"What were they..?" Maria asked, starting the engine.

"Have you got a piece of paper..?" Willow asked, "And a pen..?" She waited as the woman passed one over to her. "Okay right..." She said, looking at the clipboard her eyes growing wide.

"What..?" Maria asked, staring at the redhead.

"Nothing..." Willow answered as she began writing. "Here is the name and number of a man called Rupert Giles. If you still have questions tomorrow, then call this number and speak to him." She finished as she handed the clipboard back to the woman.

All four stood there as they watched her drive off.

"She was sent here." Willow stated, breaking the silence.

"Well duh... she's an engineer of some kind." Xander commented.

"No..." Willow explained. "The name on the job number... was for a Mister J. Levinson."

"Jonathan's phoning for his food now..?" Jesse asked incredulously. "This is like the vampire version of ordering in..?"

"No." Buffy stated confidently, drifting off as she thought about it some more. "Maria said that they were told not to eat her."

"So... what does that leave..? Turning, sacrifice, bait..?" Xander asked.

"Too many options." Jesse agreed. "We need Giles."

"Well we know what tonight's report is going to be about." Buffy mumbled as they headed back to the cars, to see if the others were still around.

On the rooftop, a quiet figure watched them go.

"Damn you Slayer." Jonathan said, turning to the other two remaining vampires. "That's what happens if you waste time playing with your food. See if you can pick up Miss Locans' scent... find out where she lives. *Nothing* else." He instructed them, before leaving. Hoping they at least had the common sense to wait for the Slayer and friends to go before attempting to follow the van.


Shortly Afterward.
The Old Master's Lair.

Jonathan strode into the main part of the cavern. One of the many minions present quickly came over to him.

"Mister Trick wants to see you." The minion informed.

"Fine." Jonathan spat, anger visible in his features.

Jonathan continued around to Mister Trick's room, pushing the cover aside as he walked in. "What..?" He shouted.

"Didn't think you were going to make it." Mr Trick replied, eyes briefly glancing over to his companion then flicking immediately back to the ground he was watching intently.

"Didn't think I'd make what..?" Jonathan replied wearily as he pulled up a chair.

"My first real Siring..." Trick responded, enthusiasm apparent in his voice.

"So..?" Jonathan shot back. "I've had a lousy night, the Slayer putting delays into my plans all the time."

"This might help deal with the Slayers." Trick said, trying to inflict some of his eagerness onto Jonathan.

Jonathan peered at the ground to the mound of earth there. "*That*..?"

Mr Trick simply smiled back and nodded.

"It's a fucking vampire." Jonathan shouted leaping to his feet, waving his hands in the air as he paced beside the wall. "We have loads of them... they're mainly very stupid... what we need is something to give us an edge..."

"This one knows stuff we don't..." Trick whispered conspiratorially, grinning even more as a pale hand struck it's way out of the ground, fumbling around trying to get a handhold.

"What are you talking about..?" Jonathan asked returning to his chair, watching as the vampire had now managed to get it's shoulders out of ground and was in the process of turning around.

Trick spread his hands out in front of him, gesturing at the fledgling as though that answered everything.

"It's a woman... and not a very attractive one either... if you were desperate there's plenty to go around." Jonathan commented as the woman brushed dirt off her suit.

"Not just any woman." Trick responded.

"Fine, tell me." Jonathan reluctantly agreed, sighing as he sat back in the seat and made himself comfortable.

Trick quickly walked over to him, perching himself on the edge of the desk next to the seat. "What do Slayers have that vampires don't..?" He asked with a glint in his eye.

Jonathan looked lost, opening his arms in surrender he threw out a few obvious answers. "A pulse. A chosen calling. Competent help. Fun..?"

"No, you misunderstand." Trick informed him walking over to turn the female vampire around so that Jonathan could see her face.

"She looks kinda familiar... it's not a teacher is it..? Cos honestly the Slayers are welcome to have them."

"Close but no cigar." Trick stated, as the female vampire started to look around examining her surroundings. "Let me introduce you. Jonathan, this is Gwendolyn Post... Faith's Watcher."

Jonathan raised both his eyebrows. "Okay... I admit... that is majorly cool."

Chapter 29

Summers House. Later That Night.

"Hey, B." Faith shouted as she heard her fellow Slayer enter the house.

"Shhh...." Came the immediate reply. Glancing at the clock on the mantlepiece, she quietly added. "It's half one... mom'll be asleep."

"I think we're okay." Faith added, instructed Buffy to sit by patting the sofa next to her. "So... successful..?" She asked cautiously.

"What..?" Buffy threw her coat onto the other chair as she dropped heavily onto the space next to Faith. "Oh the woman... yeah, we saved her."

"You don't sound happy about it..?"

"Jonathan set it up."

"A *trap*..??" Faith asked, turning quickly to face Buffy. "What was it this time?"

"No..." Buffy sighed wearily. "It's worse than that... the trap wasn't for us. Instead of going hunting, Jonathan's worked a way to order take out."

"Eh..?" Faith scrunched her head up in concentration. "I take it you're not talking about intercepting deliveries from the local blood bank."

"That would be preferable to this." Buffy answered. "Least then we'd know who to be on the lookout for... no, Jonathan's way means that *anyone* who makes housecalls for any reason is a potential meal."

"What????" Faith shouted loudly.

"Shhh..." BUffy began, but paused as she heard the bathroom door shut upstairs.

"Night girls." Joyce's voice was heard from upstairs.

"Night." Faith shouted back.

"Night Mom." Buffy called, then turning to whisper while glaring at the other girl. "You woke her up."

Faith merely smirked back.

"You're *happy* you woke her up..?"

Faith dismissed the comment and returned her attention back to the television. "Can't wake her up if she hadn't been to bed yet."

"She stayed up worrying about us..?" Buffy asked. Realising it was a lot earlier than they normally got in. "You think she does that everynight..?" She asked, giving a concerned look in the direction of the staircase.

"If she's been up to that every night, then she's a very lucky woman." Faith offhandedly said, eyes never leaving the television.

"What was that supposed to mean..?" Buffy responded in an annoyed tone.

"B... I was in *before* your mom was." Faith answered, smirk never leaving her face. "And that's something I never thought I'd say."

"She was *out*..? But... vampires... dangerous out alone." Buffy drifted off.

"Also, not out alone... someone dropped her off."

"Who..?" Buffy asked quickly. "My mom has a social life..?" She muttered to herself under her breath.

"I didn't get a look in the car. But from the look on her face I think your mom has a possible love life." Faith grinned back.

"What..? No..." She finished confidently, shaking the thought off.

Faith continued regardless. "Remember her conversation the other day..? And she's in good shape for her age... all her parts are in working order. You can't blame her for answering a bootie call."

"My mom does not answer bootie calls." Buffy winced at the thought. "I've accepted she has sex in the past... back when she was younger... and still married to my dad. But she's past that now. She lives her life through me, and the gallery and stuff..."

"She's younger than Giles." Faith countered. "You think he isn't bending the computer teacher over a desk any chance he gets."

"This is my mom... and thanks for that mental image." Buffy shuddered. "That's gonna stick with me for days."

"You weren't there for the live show..." Faith grinned. "I dunno what you have or haven't been doing with your boytoy, but his eyes almost popped out of his head when we walked in on that."

"*That* was different... they were under the influence of mystical chocolate." Buffy remembered her boyfriend's comments. "He still won't enter Giles' place without knocking first."

"And you do remember why you sent him with me don't you..?" Faith raised her eyebrow as she asked the question.

"That wasn't mom either, that was some crazy mentally-teenaged version of her..."

"Deeee-looosh-er-nal..." Faith teased in her best Ace Ventura voice, before pausing to think. "How old is Joyce anyway..?"

"I am not delusional... and what the hell does her age have to do with it..?"

"Just wondering... I'd say late thirties... possibly forty." Faith commented to herself. "I just reckon she's still in her sexual prime..." Faith drifted off.

"Not hearing this..." Buffy walked off holding her hands over her ears. "My mom is not having sex... with anyone... especially anyone who'd probably be some evil demon of some sort..."

As she got to the bottom of the stairs called back. "I'm never gonna sleep now... you've left me with thoughts... bad ones."

"I like having bad thoughts." Faith smirked after her, waiting til she'd gone then began to start flicking channels, looking for something better to watch.


The Master's Cave.

"The Glove..?" Post asked, staring at the dark vampire who'd caught her crossing the graveyard.

"We went to where you said it was." Trick answered, "The Slayers practically camped there for a few nights... we got in, but there was no sign of it."

"What glove..?" Jonathan asked confused.

"She told me about a glove." Trick answered, eyes never moving from where they were locked with Gwen's. "When she was begging for her life..."

"*That* life..." Post replied, getting angrier with each word. "That wasn't a life... following in good old daddy's footsteps into an occupation that I didn't want. But it was useful... oh yes, it was useful." She drifted off, staring at a piece of wood on the ground. Looking like part of the remains of an old church organ. Watching her hand as she squeezed it tightly, splintering the wood into many fragments, smiling at her newfound sense of power. "Useful indeed."

"Okay... erm... keep crushing the wood." Jonathan stared at his partner in disbelief, grabbing the larger man by the arm as he dragged him out of the makeshift room. "What's with the glove obsession..?"

"She knew of a glove that could fire lightening bolts." Trick began.

Jonathan's eyes lit up. "That would have been so cool... pity you couldn't find it..." Shaking his head as he moved onto a new topic. "Never mind that. What are we gonna do when the Slayers come looking for her..?" Jonathan sighed. "She can't stay here... it's too risky."

"The Slayers won't be coming after her." Trick answered. "Unless they're coming to stake her."

"Yes... she's a vampire now... I get that." Jonathan waved it off. "But we turned one of their Watchers. They're gonna be seriously pissed."

"She already betrayed them... what we have here is a rogue Watcher." Trick responded. "She was looking for the glove to give her power over her idiot companions. So I did what she wanted... I gave her power."

"Yes... you made her a vampire... virtual immortality and all that... very good." Jonathan replied dismissively. "But the only thing she had of any use is already in the hands of the Slayers."

"Actually it's likely that they've already destroyed it." Post corrected him as she joined them in one of the larger chambers.

"Even better." Jonathan finished sarcastically. "So we can't even attempt to steal it."

"If she knew about that, she may know about other things." Trick tried to persuade his colleague.

"Know about other things..?" Post laughed as she uttered the comment. "I've had *things* like that drummed into me my whole life... various teachers telling me what damage they could do in the wrong hands... and how it was our responsibility to ensure that never happened." She paused as if composing herself. "You know... now I'm on the other side of the line... all their nightmare scenarios... well they sound kind of fun."

Trick gave Jonathan a questioning look.

Grinning back, Jonathan turned to her. "Fun, eh..? Well I'm always up for some of that... what did you have in mind?"

"The amount of stuff that I can think up that you can't yet concieve of, well it's outstanding."

"We want examples..." Trick pushed her for explanations.

"Do you even know how many mystical objects that are reputed to exist... of course not."

"How many are useful to us..?" Jonathan clarified.

"Many can be used by vampires... the Glove of Mynhegan for one." She paused, drifting off remembering a few other things that the Council had mentioned over the years. "Do you have any books..? Specifically one's that the Watcher's Council wouldn't have gotten their hands on."

"Ermm... the Master had some. As did Kakistos... always have one eye on a prophecy or so he used to say." Trick said dismissively. "But there isn't much useful in them."

"You haven't viewed them with trained eyes." She answered. "I'd like to see some for myself."

"Sod the books." Jonathan responded. "Tell us something that's actually useful."

Grinning she replied to him. "Get me some books to start with... and I'll fill you in on some information regarding Slayers that you might find handy to know."


Sunnydale High School.
The Library.
The Next Morning.

"So... you're telling me that Jonathan is ordering unsuspecting people to their deaths..?" Giles asked looking around at the students spread out in front of him, he held his glasses between the two smallest fingers in his left hand and rubbing his forehead with the forefinger and thumb.

"Yep." Buffy answered calmly. "That would have been my reaction too... you know if I had sight problems."

"Willow isn't sure that we can keep a track of all the orders to stop this being successful." Jesse answered.

"You'd have to cover all the fast food joints, plumbers, electricians, emergency doctors... hell... you'd even have to check all shops that offer home deliveries." Xander explained.

"You don't think we can stop it..?" Jenny asked her student.

"I could thereotically set up searches warning us of anything ordered in the name of Levinson or Trick." She quickly clarified, "Ignoring anything for Levinson not sent to his parents address obviously."

"So what's the problem..?" Cordelia asked.

"That's two names... we don't even know the names of the other people they've sired." Willow added. "And considering the searches we currently have ongoing still haven't brought any news of Ms Post."

"Hey... they'll work eventually." Jesse reassured his girlfriend.

"Yep... you and Ms Calendar are the computer gurus." Buffy agreed, "You said Jonathan was geeky, but his skill wasn't anything compared to yours."

"He was a B student at best." Jenny confirmed, "But just cos he probably couldn't do the same, doesn't mean he couldn't think up the possibility."

"So..?" Cordelia asked.

"It might mean he gets inventive with names." Willow answered with a sigh. "And at that point the best we could do is keep a track of people who don't return from making home visits."

"Which effectively gives us a list of dead people." Jenny reluctantly conceded.

"Or a possible list of the locations he's using." Giles replied, trying to keep the room positive.

"Pretty high price to pay Giles." Faith stated, fed up with the defeatist topic. "Did you know that the Magic Box in town sells real magical shit..?"

"What..?" Giles asked.

"Yep." Jenny replied at the same time.

Giles turned to face her. "What..?" He repeated.

"It's been around for years." She waved offhandedly. "It caters for most clients. They would be the problem, not the shop. How did you find out..?"

"We were snooping around the area, trying to distract the guys." Faith shrugged, "That was the only place open so they suggested we see if someone was robbing it."

"Erm... what 'guys'?" Giles asked.

"Was a bit worried incase it turned out to be... you know." Faith answered. "Was cool though, just an all-nighter."

"How did you know it was real..?" Jenny asked confused.

"Was it a Slayer sense..? Did all the hairs on the back of your neck go prickly..?" Giles asked excitedly, picking up a paper and pen waiting eagerly for more info.

Jenny looked at the items in his hand then met his eyes, revealing a slight smirk as she did so.

"Nah..." Faith shook her head indicating nothing of the sort. "I thought it was kinda gimmicky but it got the boys attention so I figured what the hell right..?" She opened her arms, giving a sort of 'no harm, no foul' gesture. "Then C here, whispers that some of the shit was real, so we left before they accidently bought some portal to another dimension or something... no offense, C."

"You recognised that items wer..?" Giles asked in shock.

"Hey!!!" Cordelia interrupted. "I know an Orb of Thesulah when I see it, okay..?"

Chapter 30

"An Orb of Thesulah..?" Giles queried.

"What's that do..?" Willow asked intrigued.

"They're supposed to be useful for certain 'grey' magics." Giles tried to explained. "It's one of a variety of... how shall we put this... mystical containers."

"So they're full of magic and shit..?" Faith looked around the teachers for confirmation.

"They could be." Jenny answered. "Mostly they get used for things you want to keep safe."

"Like magical keys..?" Xander asked.

"No." Giles sharply answered, refusing to make eye contact in case it turned out to be another wind-up.

"More like a safe way of putting a time delay on a spell." Jenny clarified. "Some of the larger vessels could contain demons and the such."

"So this Orb could be used to contain a demon..?" Jesse asked confused. "And this shop sells them..?" Shaking his head, he turned to the others. "Is that a good or bad thing?"

"An Orb couldn't be used to hold a demon." Jenny explained. "Well maybe one of the weaker ones."

Giles added to it. "Most demons would want to be free, the Orb wouldn't be able to hold even a mediocre attempt at freedom."

"So what are they used for?" Willow asked.

"It's like many herbs and other trinkets that Witches keep handy in case of emergency. They are kept around on the offchance that they..."

"He uses one as a paperweight." Jenny commented, nodding in Giles' direction.

Giles sighed. "It's on the desk in my office." He conceded.

Buffy stared in the general direction of the office, brow wrinkled as she concentrated on trying to identify which object they were talking about. "That globe thing..?"

"I thought that was some abstract snowglobe." Xander commented.

"It's empty... and it doesn't snow if you shake it." Jesse corrected him in a superior tone.

"Hence the abstractness..." Xander paused in his explanation. "And how do you know that it doesn't snow..?"

Jesse lowered his head as he confessed. "I may have tested it."

Willow turned to face Cordelia. "So how did you know what the non-snowing magical orb was..?"

"She probably just asked." Giles replied.

"We used it to ensoul Angel." Cordelia answered in a matter of fact tone. "Well we tried... I'm not sure if we did it in time. Though he had a soul when he came back..." Cordelia drifted off, deep in thought.

"*You* ensouled Angel..?" Jenny asked.

"Hey..." Cordelia began before Giles interrupted her.

"You mean after he lost his soul... after he and Buf... Right, well." Giles caught both Buffy's and Xander's eyes. "Good show." He glanced back at where Cordelia was still glaring at Jenny.

"I didn't mean it like that." Jenny stated. "It's just that those magics have been lost to the ages. I can't even imagine where you'd have gotten information like that."

"You." Cordelia casually commented.

"Pardon..?" Jenny answered.

"You got it for us." Cordelia explained, eyes boring into the elder woman.

"But wasn't she..?" Giles asked.

"Dead..? Yes." Jesse continued on, oblivious to the stares the others were giving him. "Me and Jenny... vampire victims, remember? You *can* say it out loud, you know." Turning to the technopagan, he quietly informed her. "If you ask Cordelia nicely, she'll tell you which one of the others staked you."

"Erm... okay," Jenny began, unsure how to politely decline the offer. "I don't think that info would help me in any way."

"I didn't know you knew magic." Buffy commented.

"I don't know that level of magic." Jenny confirmed.

"You got it off your uncle." Cordelia explained. "Can't remember his name. The one that died."

Jenny looked confused. "I haven't got a dead uncle."

"He was killed by Angelu... oh..." Cordelia realised. "Sorry I wasn't thinking of people outside our gang."

"No surprise there." Jesse stated; recieving a smile from Xander and a smack from Willow.

Faith let out a long whistle. "Angelus definitely had it in for your family."

"Well, duh." Cordelia responded.

Jenny cut her off quickly. "There's something I need to tell you."

Everyone's head swivelled towards her, she was wondering how to start this confession when the phone rang.


Ten Minutes Previously.

Maria Locans sat staring at the phone. She'd been gearing to calling this Rupert Giles for the past hour. After a night of restless sleep where she'd been jumping at every single noise, she'd phoned in sick first thing this morning. Her boss had taken it okay until she started telling them not to send anyone to the address last night, after she had attempted explaining it all to him, without actually *explaining* anything to him, he'd asked if she'd been on medication.

A bonus was that he'd told her to take a few days off and he'd check in with her by the end of the week.

After that she'd felt the need to clean the entire apartment. Anything to take her mind off the things which her brain insisted couldn't have been real.

Since she'd finished that task, she'd been left alone with her thoughts. And it was getting to her. At one point she was considering going to get the weekly shop out of the way, but she hadn't made it to the car without her imagination running wild.

These were her neighbours, they were people she knew. But all it had taken was a brief glance at one of her neighbours, and she'd imagined their faces contorting, turning into that predatory visage that she was certain she'd seen last night.

"B-b-but that girl told me not to trust anyone... not even people I know." She said aloud to the empty room, as if begging it to answer her questions.

Taking a final breath to steady her nerves she walked over to the phone. Forcing herself to dial the number before she had chance to change her mind again. "She did say to call if I had questions..."

Letting it ring for a few minutes she suddenly came to a realisation. "But I don't even know her name."

"Hello, this is Rupert Gil..." The male voice with the foreign accent began.


The Master's Cave.
Same Time.

Ms Post sat in the corner with piles of books. 'Don't any of these people read anything..?' she wondered as she looked at the states of some of the volumes they were bringing her. 'Wouldn't be surprised if these hadn't been read for a century or two.'

Sighing she looked up to see where the other two were. Jonathan was attempting to explain something to most of the minions, but wasn't having much success.

'Not a good strategy at all.' She figured, after listening in for a few minutes. 'Firstly most of the people here don't even understand what you're trying to suggest, and probably couldn't be relied on if they actually found themselves in that situation.'

'Secondly,' she considered to herself. 'All that would *ever* achieve is a lot of chaos... and if I was interested in doing it, then there's a far easier time to go about it.'

'Well, they can only plan for that if I actually told them about it.' She reasoned, turning her attention back to the edition she'd been reading. 'One of the Master's hobbies from time to time, eh..?' She thought, flicking a few pages backward to re-read it again. 'I can see why... if this turns out to be true then it might be actually worth going ahead with their plan.'

"You." She shouted, pointing at the vampire who'd allegedly served under the Master over a hundred years ago, before he'd been trapped in his prison.

The vampire in question pointed at himself.

"Yes, you." She waved him over with the index finger of her free hand. "The Master used to read this, you say."

"Yes." The vampire replied. "It's off-limits to the likes of us." He expanded.

"But only when he was free... He never sent anyone... out on *errands* after the incident..?"

"Not that I know of..." The vampire conceded. "But he only really trusted Luke. Until Darla returned to serve him again anyway."

'Both dead.' Ms Post thought, 'and no-one's going to know anything more than this idiot.'

"Have you looked at the book..?" She asked him in a curious tone.

"No." He answered immediately. "It was the Master's... it wasn't my place..."

'You are aware that the Master died right..?' She managed to refrain from uttering the exasperated thought out loud; instead settling to comment. "You know your place... not too smart but willing to follow orders. JUst how I like them... What's your name..?"

"Matthias..." He responded.

"And do you have a problem serving me..?" She asked.

"No ma'am... I'd have hoped that Spike would have raised me to a position of authority when he took over, but he wasn't the sort to follow prophecy and the like. I'm afraid Jonathan has followed in his footsteps..." Matthias trailed off.

"You *do* know you're probably the oldest here, right?" Gwen asked him with a smile on her lips.

"By a clear fifty years, best of my reckoning... but it don't matter to them..." He gestured towards the main portion of the group.

"It matters to me, Matthias.. it matters to me..." Gwen grinned at him. "Being a Watcher always taught me to be very aware of prophecies and tradition."

"Just like the Master." Matthias agreed eagerly.

"Yes... just like him." Post trailed off, then seemingly adding as an afterthought. "You wouldn't happen to know if the Master kept any notes or anything would you..? Some other relics... that he may have stored... *near* this one, for instance."

"You've got them there." Matthias commented while pointing at them, glad to be of help. "The one you're reading was stored with the big black one, and that old red one over there."

Post picked the books up from the untouched pile. "These three you say." Smiling at him. "Matthias... you wouldn't do a major favour would you..? Stand over there and inform me if either Jonathan or Mister Trick should happen to come this way."

Matthias smiled back, before moving to his newly assigned post.


Sunnydale Library.

The answering machine finally picked up the call, dropping the room back into it's expectant silence. Giles turned his head back to face his partner. "Well..?" He asked curious.

"I was sent here." Jenny confessed, eyeing the students surrounding her.

"Of course you were sent here." Willow began, "You replaced Mrs Dranton who took time out to raise her baby."

"No." Jenny stated firmly, cutting off any further information about the school's previous computer teacher. "I was sent here... in the same way that Giles was sent here."

"You're a Watcher..?" Xander asked, then turning to Faith. "When you get assigned a new Watcher maybe you should ask if you could get a cute one lik..."

"Xander." Giles shouted. "What exactly were you sent here to watch..?"

"Angelus." Jenny replied quietly.

"You mean Angel..?" Jesse asked. "But why..? Do ensouled extremely boring vampires get Watchers assigned to them as well as Slayers."

"Not by the Council." Giles answered, eyes staring at the computer teacher, face completely clamped down refusing to let any emotion rise to the surface.

"No... this had nothing to do with the Council." Jenny admitted. "This is about family."

Chapter 31

"Family..?" Xander repeated with a small gulp; Jesse instinctively looking over at him.

"Mine." Jenny stated. "Mine was the..."

"I know I'm missing a lot of the back-story, but how the fuck could your family be responsible for Angelus..?" Faith asked, getting impatient with all the hints. "Unless one of them got vamped, and you know... sired him. Cos even then, not really looking at it as being your fault."

"Darla sired Angelus." Buffy informed her sister Slayer without thinking about it. "Which does leave the question the same... what does your family have to do with Angelus..?" She asked in an accusatory tone.

"My family..." Jenny took a deep breath, unsure exactly how this revelation would go down. "I'm descended from the clan that cursed him."

"Of course..." Willow became excited. "That's why Cordy said you got the spell off your uncle. It all makes sense now."

Jesse simply stared at his girlfriend with wide eyes. "I'll never understand how you can link seemingly unconnected pieces of trivia together to form a solution but have failed your driving test four times."

"People leap out at me..." Willow pouted. "They seem to get death-wishes when I'm on the road."

"No-one goes near you." Buffy commented. "You just over-react whenever someone goes near the kerb."

"We were listening to Miss C's story." Xander reminded her. "And you've got no basis commenting on anyone's driving."

"Quite." Giles insisted Jenny continue with her explanation.

"Hey." Buffy began.

"He wasn't taking about you." Xander informed her.

"I can't see how you think just because I'm safety conscious that I'm a danger." Willow argued to Buffy. "Especially as you seem to have no concept of what road signs are for... or which side of the road we drive on most of th..."

"Angelus killed a member of my tribe." Jenny admitted. "Romany. Gypsies..." She continued, after seeing the blank looks on most of the students faces. "The elders cursed him."

"So..?" Faith asked.

"That's why she and her uncle were killed in my reality." Cordelia commented.

"I got that... I just meant 'so'... as in what's the big deal..?" Faith ignored the cheerleader's tone.

"She never mentioned the curse." Giles answered in a cold voice. "In two different realities, she never mentioned the curse to any of us."

"You knew about the curse." Jenny tried to explain. "When you first introduced me to Angel, you told me he was a vampire with a difference... cursed with a soul were your exact words."

"I didn't know it could be broken." Giles replied. "You kept that information from us and in one reality that ended in Angelus becoming free again."

"Giles, I'm sure she never put us at risk on purpo..." Xander began, noticing Giles's temper coming to the foreground.

"*I* didn't know it could be broken." Jenny countered. "My people sent me here to watch Angel and ensure that he suffered for what he did. No-one ever mentioned that if the suffering stopped the demon would be free. You think we'd put something like that in on purpose."

"I don't know what to think anymore." Giles turned and headed towards his office. "You lied to me. It could have happened here."

"I didn't fucking know it could happen at *all*." Jenny shouted after him, leaving the others standing there and chasing him into the office. All except Faith, going wide-eyed when their teacher had sworn.

The door slammed behind her with an almighty noise.

"G's seriously pissed." Faith began. "Dunno why..."

"He thinks he was lied to." Willow answered. "I'm not even sure if he was even hearing her at the end."

"He's hearing her now." Jesse commented, having heard Jenny's raised voice again.

"I've never seen them like this." Buffy stated. "I've seen Giles annoyed before but it's normally at me or Xander... and it's hardly ever been that bad."

"I don't think it is that bad." Faith muttered, "Giles is flying off the handle over nothing."

"Not quite nothing." Cordelia replied. "You weren't there... you didn't get to see Angelus toying with us for weeks."

"Neither did Giles... or any of us." replied Willow. "And she didn't know... she doesn't even seem sure that the ones who cast the spell knew."

"So it just found it's way in there." Cordelia responded cattily. "Angel just happened to stumble across the get-out clause."

"It's probably to do with balance." Willow tried to explain. "Every action should have a possible anti-action. In order to anchor his soul to something... like his body, they allowed for the possibility that the anchor could be cut... or pulled up..." She looked sheepishly around the remains of the group. "I'm not good with nautical examples..."

"That's a big assumption Will... what exactly do any of *us* know about magic..?"

At Xander's comment, Cordelia looked wide-eyed in Willow's direction but didn't say anything.

"But she said that she didn't know." Willow was almost on the verge of tears, refusing to even think anything bad about her tutor.

"Shhh..." Jesse replied, dragging her into a hug. "It's okay. It'll all be okay. you'll see."

"MMhmmmm..." She commented from her place against his chest. "I don't like them fighting. It's not nice seeing adults fight."

Xander and Faith each looked away from the main group, with similar expressions on their faces.

Buffy moved to comfort Willow. "My mom and dad used to fight... that stopped, after they got seperat..." She drifted off, rubbing a hand reassuringly across her back after deciding that physical contact was probably more soothing than the stories of her parents just prior to her infamous gymnasium arson event.


A Few Minutes Previously.
Inside Giles' Office.

"What is your problem with me..?" Jenny shouted as she slammed the door shut behind her.

"*My* problem..?" Giles replied in equally raised tones. "I can't believe we've been together for over a year and you didn't think you could share this with me."

"Why would I have..?" Jenny tried lowering her voice.

"I ought to have been informed."

"That's pretty hypocritical of you." She shouted, temper flaring before she could reign it under control.

"What's that supposed to mean?" He asked in a sharp tone that he normally reserved for his students.

Unfortunately Jenny picked up on it. "Cos you were so forthcoming with all your secrets. You being a Watcher and all..? Buffy being the Slayer."

"That was different, that was work." He attempted to counter.

"So was this..." Jenny paused, waiting a few seconds to compose herself. "It was exactly the same..." She commented quietly. "You joined the Watchers because your family forced you into it. Well for my whole life I was told about the four demons who strode into our camp and slaughtered over a third of our people in one night. This was *my* family's place in this world... that's what we did."

"You could have told me." Giles repeated also calming down.

"Just like you could have told me about Ripper and Eyghon... and god knows what else." She began, hating having to play that card.

"That was different... that wasn't something I was particularly proud of..." Giles commented, taking his glasses off and rubbing his eyes with his free hand.

"Still... they arrived and you tried to deal with it alone." She pressed further. "You risked all of our lives because you didn't want to admit about your past."

"I tried..." He began.

"What..? What could you have possibly tried to do..? Cos at best I figure you keep us out of it, and we're left wondering what happened to you once you've died... or worse, you just turned up possessed one day and we wouldn't have had a clue why..." She trailed off. "What would that have done to your Slayer..?"

"She would have blamed herself." Giles conceded.

"I never meant to turn this on you... I was trying to do my job just like you were trying to do yours..." Jenny finished.

"I was told that a Watcher's place was to back up their Slayer..." he began, "That we had a noble cause and we shouldn't let anything or anyone get in the way of that."

"And you're changing that... *we're* changing that." Jenny held his chin, forcing him to look at her as she continued. "Look at the group that await us outside... you think they're getting in the way of Buffy or Faith's calling..? We're creating something that the council could never have conceived of... and I'm glad to get the chance to be a part of that. I may have been sent here to monitor Angel's movements but I joined your crusade willingly... and I don't regret a single second of it."

"The Council wouldn't agree with just about all of that."

"Screw the council... screw any family loyalty you're trying to show... I *did*. From the very second I joined in and encouraged Angel to be part of the group, I was going against my family's wishes. They wanted him to mope about forever, brooding in endless guilt for his actions... I was never scared of Angel... but when Spike and Drusilla turned up... that's when my own family encouraged me to run... Here they were, two of them... half of the group that slaughtered my clan."

"Why didn't you run..?" Giles asked, his tone had become curious now.

"Where to..? For how long..?" Jenny argued. "What's the point of spending the rest of my life ensuring Angel pays when we run from the ones that we didn't curse..? You remember what I said when I'd calmed down don't you..?"

"Yes." Giles looked at her. "Good Lord. *You* recognised the names even then... and you still didn't tell us." He asked, unsure what she was getting at.

"And exactly what did I say..?" Jenny countered refusing to back down.

"You advised bringing Angel in for advice as he may have had run in's with vampires like that before." Giles stated, smiling back at her for the first time since entering the office. "You were trying to use your knowledge to help us back then."

"Yes." She confirmed for him. "I've never kept anything back from you in order to hurt you Rupert."

"Angel was useful too." Giles smiled again, thinking back to all the extra help the ensouled vampire starting providing, once he was being formally included on patrols and such. "Both in a fight and with research."

"Spike was a thug and a bully... but Drusilla..?" Jenny agreed. "You had to *know* Drusilla to have any chance of guessing what she might do next. And Angel picked up a lot of knowledge in his time as a soulless vampire... stuff we could use to our advantage."

"I never reported Angel in any of my reports..." Giles confessed. "I admitted the initial contact... but when he was helping us all the time... I never mentioned it."

"You think I told my family I was the one who insisted he should be more involved..." Jenny laughed. "I told them he *was* around more often... I didn't say I approved it... or was the one who suggested it." She walked over to him, giving him a gentle kiss. "The people we work for... they're stuck in the past... dealing with tradition more often than the reality of the situation. My approval of Angel's use as a member of the team, would have been met the same way as your Council would have commented when you first informed them that other students were aware of the Slayer identity... we're products of our uprbinging Giles... but those kids."

She paused looking in the direction of the main library, seemingly staring her way directly through the brick wall.

"Those kids out there... they're the next generation of demon fighters... there are two vampire Slayers for heaven's sake... let's do our best to make them better than us."

Sighing, Giles came to an inevitable conclusion. "If we... *we* are to continue, we ought to be honest with each other."

She nodded.

"I think you know the worst about me... and I take it this is your big secret." He relaxed when she nodded her confirmation. "While I'm sure there are lots of little things that we haven't yet discussed, which may or may not be important. There's only one more secret of mine..." He confessed.

"You can tell me." She uttered, taking his hand in hers.

"As you knew about vampires before you came here, I take it you also knew about Slayers and the Watcher's Council."

"Yes." She quietly confirmed.

"How much..?" He asked in a solemn tone.

"About the council..? Just the basics I guess... what they did, who they looked after, that sort of thing..."

He looked deep into her eyes, ensuring he had her full attention before beginning. "My last confession is something that my role forces me to do..."

Chapter 32

A Few Minutes Later.

Giles spotted the flashing light on his answering machine just before they stepped out of the office. He gestured Jenny ahead of him and pressed Play.

"Hi... this is... is this..?" An unfamiliar female voice began, obviously unsure how to start. "I'm after a Rupert Giles... I was given this number by... well by some kids the other night... That's a point," the woman continued to babble on. "I don't know if you're some other kid like them... or an adult... I'm not sure if I should call you Rupert or Mister Giles... I guess it depends on..." She trailed off, the machine becoming silent for a few moments.

'Is this some prank call?' Giles thought to himself. 'What can the woman possibly want?'

The voice on the other end began again, this time it had a more confident tone to it. "Anyway, that doesn't matter... I'm calling to talk about what I think happened to me the other night. I was sent out to install cable television to this student house when the people inside attacked me... least I think they were people. Anyway, they attacked me and their faces went all weird... and then these kids saved me... least I think they saved me... I'm still not sure whether or not I imagined the whole thing. Probably the result of too much food before turning in for the night. One of them gave me this number, which I was afraid of calling just incase... oh god... it was real... they gave me this number and a name and I rang it and the name at the beginning matched."

The voice on the other end could be heard breaking down in tears.

Giles looked uncomfortably around the room, hoping no-one came in to see him standing there listening to a tape of a woman crying. Silently willing her to get to the point, he moved over to the side of the room to pick his glasses back up and replace them back on his face.

"Anyway, the girl told me I could call you if I had any questions about... well anything I guess. So I'm calling you... I need to know what they were... and that they weren't real... but I'm not sure if you can help me there. My name is <click>"

Giles stared in disbelief at the infernal machine. It had taped five minutes of someone babbling on, a minute and a half of it mainly consisting of the sounds of tears running freely; but had completely failed to tape any useful information.

"And she wonders why I hate technology." Giles muttered before heading into the other room to join the others.


Approximately Five Minutes Previously

Jenny strolled out of the office to greet the others. They were sitting back at the main table, they all looked expectantly up at her, as if unsure what her next words were going to be. Glancing at the clock on the wall she noted that none of them had gone to class, sighing she walked over to them. Stopping when she reached the table, leaning on it slightly eyes, flicking across all the students taking in their likely reactions.

"Hello." She began, forcing her voice into a friendly tone. "My name is Janna Kalderash, but you can all continue to call me Jenny." She finished with a smile.

The students leapt into action simultaneously, all except Cordelia throwing a barrage of questions at her.

"Kalderash..?" Buffy queried.

Willow offered, "We can call you Janna if you prefer."

"So Jenny's like the English version of Janna..?" mused Jesse, mainly to himself.

"Less of a JayCee and more of a JayKay then. That can be cool." This from Faith.

"Was that Janna or Yanna..?" asked Xander.

She raised her hands to calm them down, eyes flicking to Cordelia as if asking her to ask her question.

"What..? I've been through all that bit before... I was just wondering if you and Giles'll be okay?" Cordelia stated, shrugging unapologetically.

"I believe so." She answered honestly, watching as the looks of relief flicked across the faces of the others.

"I'm interested in the spell." Willow asked curious.

"Now that's a surprise." Cordelia muttered under her breath.

"If it could ensoul Angel, could it ensoul other vampires..?" Willow suggested. "You said these Orbs were pretty easy to get hold of."

"Yeah." Buffy agreed. "We could stake the easier vampires and simply ensoul the ones that are harder to catch."

"So we have the more dangerous vampires on our side..?" Xander asked, with a doubtful look on his face.

"Yeah... cos a soul... not exactly proof that they're gonna be a good person." Faith added her own two cents.

Jesse moved over to question Cordelia. "What was the comment about Willow for?"

"I didn't mean anything by it." She tried to explain, then sighed as the look on his face made her realise he wasn't going to let this go. "Willow is the one that did the ensouling spell." She whispered in his ear.

His eyes went wide as he mentally ingested that piece of information. "Magic..?" He mouthed in her direction.

She nodded back, then turned her attention back to the others.

"I don't know the spell." Jenny tried explaining. "I will be speaking to my uncle tonight." She decided to explain.

"I thought you said you didn't know which uncle." Buffy countered immediately.

"Only one came with me to Sunnydale." The computer teacher explained. "I'll start with him... and if it's not... I guess I'll jump straight to my grandmother... she's never lied to me yet."

By this point Giles had left the office and came over to them wearing a confused expression on his face.

"Everything alright hon..?" Jenny asked, ignoring the smiles on the students faces as Giles let her rest her head on his shoulder.

"Ahhh..." Xander began, mimmicking the action on Faith's shoulder. Who promptly flicked his nose and then shoved him off. "Oww."

"Yeah." Giles replied absent mindedly, "What are you discussing..?"

"Willow wonders whether we'd be able to use the spell to ensoul other vampires." Jenny stated.

The redheaded girl nodding her head in agreement, excitedly explaining. "We could have souled vampires on our side... like lots of mini-Angels to help guard the Hellmouth."

"Is it possible..?" Giles asked, internally debating the pros and cons.

"Without knowing the spell, I couldn't say." Jenny admitted. "So getting a copy of the spell is going to be my next course of action."

"Fine." He answered. "We'll see what is possible before we discuss it further."

"You want any help getting the info outta your uncle, just give me a call." Faith offered her services.

Jenny politely declined the offer. "No... I'm sure I'll just ask to begin with."

"Right... I'm lined up for round two. Gotcha." Faith said.

"Okay..." Giles stated, looking around the room. "Would any of you have met a woman recently..? One you gave my phone number to..?" He asked.

Jenny raised her eyebrows and simply smirked at him.

"No... of course not." Willow began. "We wouldn't do anything lik..."

"Last night." Jesse interrupted.

"Except for the time that we did something exactly like that." Willow quickly contradicted herself.

"Why..?" Giles asked. "Cos the message, she left means absolutely nothing to me."

"We told you about it." Buffy commented. "Jonathan's take out order... remember?"

"Oh yes." Giles said, the hint helping his recollection.

"She may actually be one of the few not suffering from the Sunnydale-inspired forgetfulness." Xander joked. "I don't know whether to be proud of her or sorry for her."

"Do you happen to know her name..?" He asked Willow, who immediately went deep in thought.

"She didn't say it?" Jenny asked.

"You didn't ask..?" Buffy raised her eyebrows.

"It was an answer machine message." Giles explained. "I *couldn't* ask."

"Kay... no need to get snappy." Buffy commented.

"Did you check the numb... course not, never mind." Jenny asked, striding off towards the office.

"I know this..." Willow began. "Her name was at the top of the sheet she showed me." She told them, trying to get her brain to give up the information.

"Didn't see it." Buffy answered, Xander and Jesse nodding their agreement.

"Logan." Willow stated confidently. "No wait... but something similar to that." She headed over to the computer to boot it up.

Once done she immediately called up the list of customer addresses from the local telephony company. "No wait." She said, closing that site down. "I know who she works for." She called up the local cable company list and began seeing if she could hack into their personnel files.

Jenny strolled back out of the office, "Got it." She informed them, handing the piece of paper with the number on it to Giles.

Willow looked curiously at her computer.

"She beat you, babe." Jesse said in a friendly tone.

"I've just thought of something else." She informed him, attention returning to the computer as she brought back up the telephony webpage.

"And the name?" asked Giles, hoping that the woman was going to be more coherent now.

"Just tell her who you are." She suggested.

"Willow thinks it was Logan." Xander informed him, shrugging. "Go with that and your own name..."

"I'm not sure." Giles began, just as the phone began ringing again.

"Guess who that's for." Xander commented.

"We don't know it's going to be the same woman." Giles replied.

"It's still *your* phone." Jesse countered, watching as Giles headed off towards the office. This time intending to get there before the dreadful machine picked it up. "So what you looking for..?" Jesse asked, turning back to his girlfriend where she'd know got the school's records in front of her. "She definitely wasn't a student here."

"Shhh..." She hissed at him.


The Master's Lair.
A Few Hours Later.

Jonathan stood in the corner watching Ms Post carefully.

"She's gonna change things around here." Trick said, as he approached the shorter vampire from behind.

"Hmmm..." Jonathan non-commitally answered. "Not gonna achieve much if all she does is sit there and read."

"It's daylight still." Trick replied. "Tonight will be her first venture out. Can't wait to see her in action."

"And if all this reading does turn out to be useful... then we don't really want her out risking herself if we can help it."

Trick sighed, "You're never happy are you..?"

"While the Slayers are still hunting our kind..?" Jonathan answered.

"What about what she said..?" Trick asked.

"That has potential." Jonathan reluctantly agreed. "But even we'd have to be very careful, if we went through with that."

"But earlier you said."

"I don't want them risking it, til we've decided." Jonathan clarified.

"Right." Trick responded. "The guys are back and said they found it."

"They know where she lives..?" Jonathan queried.

Trick patted his inside jacket pocket. "Got the address right here."

"Think we should take the Watcher with us..?" Jonathan asked.

"May as well... let's see what she can do." Trick agreed.

Chapter 33

That Evening. Summers House.

"Here you go girls." Joyce said as she passed them both plates of Chicken Casserole.

"MMmmm." Faith said carrying it over to the dining table, savouring the smell as she inhaled deeply. "Cheers Joyce."

Buffy took her own plate and placed it down, glancing backwards to where her mother was standing empty-handed. "Not having anything mom..?" She called back.

"I'm eating with Pat tonight." Joyce informed them.

"Sure it's Pat..?" Faith asked with a smirk.

"Yes." Joyce replied smiling at Faith's teasing. "Tonight it's Pat."

"So when wasn't it Pat..?" Buffy asked, refusing to let go of the topic now it had been brought up.

"Yesterday." Joyce answered, smiling at the memory. "Yesterday, it wasn't Pat."

Faith looked up from where she was devouring her meal to give the elder woman a wink.

"So who was it yesterday?" Buffy continued with her line of enquiry.

"A friend of Pat's."

"Does the friend have a name..?" Buffy asked.

"B.. you need to let go..." Faith sighed wearily, adding in mocking tone. "You need to understand that your mom has hit the age... well where she becomes interested in people of the male gender. You may find her going on those things that you will grow to know as dates..." Leaning in close with an overly loud conspiratorial whisper. "You may find she participates in activities that you and Xander also find enjoyable."

"Stop it." Buffy turned to her fellow Slayer, while Joyce laughed.

"She may even know what bases refer to what..." Faith added.

"Shut up."

"Faith..." Joyce admonished. "Don't tease Buffy like that, it's not nice."

Faith pouted in response returning her attention back to the remains of her food.

Buffy's by comparison was hardly touched. "Thanks mom."

"Pat's friend did indeed have a name and I, for one, thought *he*," she added emphasising the word, "had a very nice one."

Buffy went goggle eyed while Faith had to stop herself from spitting her food across the table. Joyce blushed at her unintended double entendre and refused to make eye contact with her daughter.

"Now excuse me girls..." She said, silently willing the blush to fade. "I need to go over to Pat's so that we can do the girly-talk thing where we gossip about the previous night."

Buffy was still sitting there open-mouthed, unable to form a coherent come-back.

"See Faith. You should tease her like that." Joyce stated without any hint of shame before leaving the room and heading up the stairs to get ready.

"G-g-girl t-talk..?" Were the first words out of Buffy's mouth as she watched her mother depart.

"That's what you do after a hot-date right?" Faith stated. "I do believe it was you that told me it was your right as a best friend to get the gossip after I'd returned from seeing Pete."

"G-g-gossip." Buffy repeated.

"You don't think Pat's demanding the same..?" Faith asked, getting up and checking the oven to see if there was any more casserole.

"My mother does not... she... well she doesn't..." Buffy attempted to form her first sentence in a short while.

Faith answered scooping herself another half-plateful of casserole. "B... reality check... She may not have for a while... but if she isn't already, then she probably will be soon."

"But she... wouldn't." Buffy looked to her companion for reassurance.

Faith looked thoughtful. "Yeah... you're probably right. I doubt she is yet." Faith commented, ignoring Buffy's growing grin. "At their age, there's probably less rush... I think you're mom's the type of classy lady that would definitely hold out til the third date... definitely." Faith finished confidently.

"There will be *no* third date." Buffy stated defiantly.

"B... don't you want your mom to be happy... like ever?" Faith quietly said in a serious tone, making the other girl feel guilty.

"Yes..." Buffy reluctantly answered in a defeated tone.

"Then chill out. Let her have her fun... she's covered better than most right..? She brings him here and it turns out he's not dating within his own species... well, we're both here to deal... she knows who to call if she gets *that* kinda trouble."

"Yes." Buffy agreed, her brain locking down on the thought of killing this mom-seducing demon.

"And while you're chilling out..?" Faith asked, attracting Buffy from her inner thoughts. "You think you're gonna want any more when you've finished that plate..? Or shall I just have the rest of this now..?"


Giles Residence.
Similar Time.

Giles heard the raised voice coming from the kitchen. "It *is* important!"

Sighing, he turned his attention back to the television. "I wish we could have gone to see her uncle in person." He muttered to himself.

"I know he's gone!" The female voice in the other room said. "That doesn't mean that it woul... it doesn... yes." It drifted off quietly, obviously listening to the person on the other end.

He quickly turned the television off, awaiting the arrival of his partner. As expected she walked in a few seconds later looking a mix of extremely annoyed and slightly defeated.

"He says the spell is lost..." She muttered, apparently to herself.

Taking this as an introduction to a conversation, he turned to face her and gave her a reassuring smile. Which she did not see as her eyes were staring directly at hers hands that were resting on her lap. Sighing he lost the smile and began again.

"Did it sound like he was lying..?" He tried, instantly wincing as he realised that probably wasn't the best opening line.

"I don't know." Jenny replied, her voice didn't sound like it was taking any offence to the question and answered it accordingly. "How am I supposed to know..? He could have been lying to me since he brought me here... I don't know what to believe any more."

"You lost your temper with him rather quickly." Giles stated.

"He was the one trying to get me to return to the family..." Jenny replied. "They said my time was over... with Angelus gone... Angel, god they still refer to him by the name that the demon went by..." She said, standing up and waving her arms around.

Giles was glad that at least she was being animated. She never backed down from arguments with him, whether they were generally playful or heart-wrenching-would-their-relationship-survive-this ones. Seeing her in a defeated posture always chilled him to the bone.

"That... that... that..." She began, anger growing each time she repeate the term.

Giles got up off his own chair and stood facing her.

"What the fuck is his problem..?" She shouted, throwing her hands up in an exasperated gesture.

Giles had to fight the grin; she was swearing now, always a good sign when it came from her. It was quite rare and normally meant that she was fully ready for a fight, no matter who the opponent was.

"I mean... what the fuck is wrong with them..? Honestly, answer me that if you can." She turned to face him defiantly.

"What's wrong with any of them..?" He repeated, "As you mentioned earlier today... they do have a lot in common with the Council; and I can't say I understand any of them."

"Precisely." She agreed enthusiastically, believing he'd hit the nail on the head. "They're so... so... fucking inbred with their need to follow tradition, they can't think outside of it even if it means we can actually save lives... I mean... how can you compare following the methods of some centuries dead asshole to actually changing a few little things and managing to save people... real living people... who are alive now."

"Quite." Giles nodded his agreement. Knowing better than to disturb her when she was in full flow.

"I mean you... you're reluctant to make changes yourself... but at least they're crappy little admin changes... they don't actually risk anyone's life."

Giles didn't comment, feeling slightly chided even if he didn't wholeheartedly agree with the accusation.

"I do it too... *me*... the one who calls you on your little problems... I followed their instructions and didn't tell anyone who we were so as not to put us at risk or to incur the wrath of the demon... *Angel*... Angel had no real wrath... Spike and Drusilla, they were someone to avoid... Darla, she was majorly pissed when they gave Angel a soul... now *she*, they were quite right never to allow her to find out we were the surviving Kalderash clan... but Angel... he was harmless. First time they took me to see Angel, to tell me about my destiny was about eight years ago... I studied but that was the first time I'd actually seen him... he was eating rats in New York... they were frightened of someone who lived off vermin. What's wrong with them."

Giles blinked, trying with difficulty to follow this wandering trail of logic.

"But no... I suggest letting us have a copy of the ensouling document so that we can see if we can ensoul others... recruit people to actually help with the fight against the darkness, and they deny it." Making her voice deeper and doing an impression that Giles assumed was her uncle. "'No, that's not a good idea Janna.' Idiots."

"I often think the same thing about the Watchers Council." Giles said, trying to add something worthwhile.

"Them as well!!! That Cruciamentum thing." Jenny began, face wincing in disgust as she recalled the details Giles had provided to her that afternoon. "That's fucking inhumane. We're not doing that." She stated defiantly, noticing he was about to comment she quickly cut him off. "But that's for another day... we can tackle that closer to the time. Today we need to deal with this..." She drifted off.

Giles looked thoughtful. "Have you been drinking..?" he carefully asked.

"I had to... just a small glass of whisky while I was talking to that *man*." She commented.

"You haven't eaten yet." Giles reminded her. "We'll get some food into you, and it'll be..."

"I only had one... I not pissed... just pissed off." She commented. "Well my uncle wasn't much use was he... time to call Nanna Kalderash."

"Your grandmother's name is Nann... forget I said anything." Giles commented, shaking his head at his actions.


Maria Locans Apartment.

She sighed looking at the clock again. "Still seven thirty." She commented, wishing time would hurry up. Yet still trying to grasp onto what remains of her innocence.

"From what that Giles man said earlier, I think this is gonna be big." She commented to herself. Running through her mental checklist one last time.

"Cold beers in the fridge, check... makes for a friendlier atmosphere and might be necessary... stay away from anything stronger just incase you then don't believe it tomorrow and have to go through this whole thing again."

Looking around the room, she double checked everything had been cleaned to her satisfaction.

Now she was doing what he'd told her. Waiting for their arrival to give her a more full briefing on the whole thing.

"I don't want to know more about this sort of thing..." She almost cried out loud. "I want reassurances that this isn't real. That what almost happened to me last night wasn't real."

She continued to sit there clock watching until there her doorbell rang. Standing up she mentally composed herself before heading towards the main door.

Remembering what they told her in last night, and had given her further hints on earlier. She stood on the inside of the door, making no move to reach for the handle. Wishing she'd had a spyhole installed at some point she called out, trying to make it sound as casual as she could. "Yes..? Who is there..?"

Chapter 34

"It's Rupert Giles." Came the refined English accent from the other side of the door. "I'm here to see a Maria Locans."

Maria swallowed hard one last time, closing her eyes softly, making one last silent prayer to a being she'd never really given much thought about before. Opening them, she reached for the lock turning it with a shaking hand and opened the door in what she hoped was a welcoming manner.

"Hello." She uttered, eyes scanning the group in front of her. Catching her breath as she'd only really been expecting the man she'd spoken to on the phone.

The group consisted of two adults and three of the kids she'd seen the previous night. She quickly glanced across the figures she recognised; the girl with the long red hair that had provided the contact details was present, as was the shorter blonde girl who she was sure she'd seen fighting with one of the men. 'Not men, monsters.' she corrected herself. The final youth was the tall light brown haired boy she'd almost knocked over when she'd practically dived out of the building.

She cast her view over the two adults; the male was wearing a suit, she involuntarily raised her eyebrows when she realised exactly what the suit was made of. The other adult noticed the glance and grinned.

"I know... he doesn't need to wear that for work, but we can't seem to stop him. Kinda like a child who insists on wearing their cowboy gear everywhere they go." The dark haired woman stated in an amused tone.

"Thank you for that." Came the distinguished accent, giving a small glare at the former speaker who simply smirked back.

"Kudos on not inviting us in by the way." Came the voice of the male youth. "See you were paying attention... that'll be useful as there may be a test later."

"Sorry..." Maria exclaimed realising her rudeness. "Please come..."

"He was being serious." the redhead commented. "No verbal invitations."

"Stand aside and gesture." The blonde suggested, walking in when Maria followed her instructions. "Honestly... it'll help you live longer. I'm Buffy by the way... we kinda met." She continued in a chirpy tone.

"Willow." Announced the redhead, following her friend into the apartment, dragging the younger male behind her.

"Jesse." he stated as he was pulled inside.

"I'm Rupert Giles... though you can call me Rupert," The English gentleman offered politely.

"Or just Giles... everyone else does." Said the other woman, beaming a grin as she walked past and into the flat.

"And that was Jenny." Giles commented. "There are a few others but we felt it was better not to overwhelm you."

"Thanks." Maria replied closing the door after the final visitor entered.


Across The Street.

Crouching on the edge of a rooftop watching the scene with some amusement were three figures. Waiting til they'd all gone inside before speaking. "Not getting any intentions towards teaming up with your old buds..?" Jonathan asked the female vampire standing next to him.

"Hardly." Post responded, mocking the other Watcher. "We're here to inform you about vampires and keep you safe from the big bad world... Waste of space... she'd be more useful as a meal. If she hasn't the common sense not to invite strangers inside then it can't be our fault."

"I think they're probably worried more about her inviting friends." Jonathan corrected.

Trick stood on the edge of the rooftop looking directly down. "So... what's the plan..?"

"Stephen may have to wait for his *friend*." Jonathan answered, the others nodding their agreement. "Where are the others..?" He asked, turning his head in both directions to perform a quick three-sixty of the rooftop.

"Down there." Trick replied. "Guess we could go hunting...?" He suggested, figuring this particular outing was over with. "if one of the Slayers is here... then there's only the other one guarding the rest of Sunnydale. We could always make an outing to the Bronze... see if we tasty meals we can pick up."

Post bit her bottom lip as she was deep in thought. "Mmmmm." she hummed through clenched lips.

"I suppose the Watcher has a plan..?" Jonathan asked in a condescending tone.

"You could say that." Post replied.

"What..?" Trick asked curious, glaring at his colleague.

"I was just assuming what Giles is doing in there." Post idly remarked.

Jonathan shook his head, "We know what he's doing... he's giving her the vampire survival guide. Maybe even the Hellmouth survival guide."

"And she's supposed to take all that on faith..?" Post commented. "I think we should help them out... provide a little proof, so to speak."

An evil grin grew on Trick's face, turning to face his partner he awaited til he got the nod of agreement. "Boys..." Trick called to the vampires lying in wait below. "We've got an errand for you."


Inside Maria's Apartment.

"So..." Buffy began, desperate for anyone to speak. They'd just informed Maria that vampires weren't the only evil out there, and some of them didn't need an invitation to get into the house.

"It's not that bad." Willow gently patted the elder woman on the arm, hoping to reassure her that she wasn't going to die or be attacked anytime soon. "The first thing you've got to do is accept that what we're saying is real."

"That or get outta town." BUffy mumbled to herself, beginning to wish she'd gone the Bronze with the others.

"I'd say decorate the place with some religious icons." Jesse commented. "And some decorative yet, and I cannot stress this enough, *sharp* weapons."

"I'm not religious." Maria confessed. "But I do have a gun." She offered looking hopeful. "For self-defence."

"Guns don't do much to demons." Buffy corrected her, hating the way Maria's face fell again at the new information. "A sword would be better."

"For any of you." Giles stated, "Miss Locans could find a good gun very useful."

"You said guns don't kill." Jesse argued with the Watcher. "Me and Xander wanted to get a few and you pointblankedly refused."

"They don't." Giles admitted. "But I'm not suggesting Maria go demon-hunting... if she comes across one, I'd suggest continually shooting it while doing her best to escape. Bullets will slow it down."

"You do know you've just re-opened the whole gun argument right..?" Jenny whispered into Giles' ear.

He nodded and quietly responded. "I'll deal with that when it happens, firstly we need to ensure Miss Locans has the bets chance of survivial."

"I'm not that good a shot." Maria admitted. "I bought it after my last boyfriend left me... at first I was scared of living alone."

"Then I'd suggest that you go down to one of these gun-clubs that you Americans prefer and see if they can actually teach you to use the thing."

"You just had to get the anti-American comment in there, didn't you?" Jenny quietly admonished him.

"They sold a gun to someone who's just admitted they don't know how to use one." He argued back. "That's extremely reckless."

"Gun and sword lessons..." Maria commented, trying to keep what flimsy grasp of reality she still had. "Where do you get sword lessons from..?"

"We get them from Giles..." Jesse replied before he could stop himself. And then found himself on the recieving end of one of the glare Giles gives when he's at his most disappointed.

Giles sighed, realising the conversation had gone beyond his control. "There's no reason to believe you're not perfectly safe in your house."

Then further conversation was interrupted by the sound of the almighty crash outside and the sound of the car alarm going off.

Being the nearest Giles got to the window first glancing outside he noticed the three male figures standing on top of Miss Locans works van. Which had one it front windscreeen smashed in, another vampire had climbed up and only the legs were out of the van, the other half was leaning inside the van and fiddling with something inside the broken window. "Oh dear." He said.

"Is someone trying to steal my van..?" Maria asked, freeing herself from Willow's embrace and walking over to the Watcher. Once she was able to see the sight outside she began screaming uncontrollably.

Buffy was next to arrive at the window, closely followed by Jesse. Taking in the scene she had only one comment to utter. "You jinxed us." She directed at her Watcher.


The Bronze.

"So Buffy's mom is dating..?" Xander asked in an amazed tone while he and Faith waited for the drinks. "How's Buff taking it..?"

Faith just returned a look that screamed 'how do you think?'.

"Right." He said. "So who's the lucky guy..?" He asked.

"You're just glad you're no longer at risk from her amorous intentions." Faith smirked back, taking the drinks off the barman while Xander paid.

"That was a one-off." He argued. "Man, I hope she's calmed down... that was a *little* bit intimidating." He confessed, as he placed the change into his pocket.

Now that his hands were free, Faith handed him his drink. "I dunno... sometimes the forward thing works..." She commented offhandedly.

"You're talking like this to Buffy?" He asked. When she nodded her agreement in a casual manner, he continued his thoughts on the process. "I bet she doesn't know who to attack... you or this guy."

"She doesn't know the guy." Faith stated truthfully. "Joyce hasn't done the get-offspring's-approval thing yet."

"Neither of you have met him... do we even know he's human?" Xander mused.

"Just like Buffy... always thinking the worst." Faith chastened him.

"This coming from you... with her there's-no-such-thing-as-a-nice-guy attitude."

"I *may* be changing that slightly." Faith admitted. "Only slightly though... still think most men just want to get into your pants."

"Those men would do well to stay away from my pants." Xander joked. "Specially if my girlfriend found out about it. Seriously though, I'm sure they can be nice guys and still want to get in your pants." He teased.

"See..." She replied, deciding he'd argued her point for her.

"Faith... if they're a nice guy and *don't* want to get in your pants... well we have terms for that." Xander paused, "And it ain't Faith's boyfriend."

"Fine..." She conceded the point. Glancing across the dancefloor she asked, "Where are the others..?"

"Cordy said she'd be here by half eight at the latest." Xander informed her. "Or is it little Petey you're waiting for..?" He teased.

Faith turned to scan the crowds again, giving him a parting comment. "You really aren't attached to your legs are you..?"

"That's threats of violence that is... I thought we said we were going to stop that."

"I'll stop that when you stop being an ass." Faith casually retorted without looking behind her.

Xander finished his drink and wrapped his arms around her upper torso, effectively pinning her arms at her side.

Faith looked down and where his hands were interlocked, realising that she could easily break free but to do so *might* involve spilling the drink she still held in her left hand. "What are you doing..?"

"Don't bweak my wegs Faithie..." Xander mock cried behind her. "I wuv you Faithie... don't bweak my wegs.... pwease..." He continued on, attracting the attention of people around them.

"Xander..." She said warningly, starting to notice all the people looking in their direction.

"Wuv you." Came the muffled reply where he'd now buried his head in her shoulder.

"People are staring Xander." She repeated, tone becoming less amused.

"No weg-bweakage..?" Xander commented.

"Not if you let go right now." Faith promised.

Cordelia walked up, just as Xander let go and Faith turned to face him.

Not risking any immediate comments she bought herself some time by downing the rest of the drink and then handing the empty glass to him. "Your round."

"It was my round last time." He countered.

The look she returned, provided no leeway for argument.

"Fine." Turning to the latest arrival. "You in, Cordelia..?"

"Sure..." Cordelia responded in an amused tone. "What was all that about..?"

Faith changed her expression into one that just vibed don't-ask, and scanned the club again, this time keeping her back to the bar.

"I was being an ass." Xander proudly replied in an enthusiastic tone.

Pete watched them from above with a serious expression on his face; watching tight-lipped as Xander attempted to attract the attention of the bartender and Cordelia went to his side to help him, obviously deciding that it needed a woman's touch, 'Or at least a woman's cleavage.' he figured as he saw her lean over the bar further than was necessary. He saw Faith finish her perusal of the lower floor, and moved away from the edge of the balcony just before Faith looked upwards to see if there was any sign of the others up there.

Chapter 35

Maria Locan's Apartment.

"Here... they can't be here!!!" Maria shrieked, instinctively moving towards the window. Willow managed to grab hold of the older woman and drag her back to the sofa.

"It'll be okay... we'll handle it." Willow soothed trying to be reassuring. "We did last night, remember?"

"Weapons..?" Buffy asked, her eyes boring into the three vampires standing on top of the van. Her eyes automatically following the first to jump down after noticing the people in the window. The male vampire stood in the centre of the small lawn staring directly at Buffy, who returned the gaze.

"Ermmm..." Giles began, patting his pockets. "I'm fairly sure I had a stake."

"Snap." Jesse stated, pulling two stakes out of his jacket.

"That's *all* you've got stakes..?" Buffy asked in a disbelieving tone. "I thought we were going to be patrolling later."

"I did pack two swords and a crossbow." Giles admitted. "It's just..."

"Just what..?" Buffy now turned to stare at her Watcher, the vampire on the lawn kept carefully in her peripheral vision.

Jenny moved away from the window and tried to help Willow calm their hostess down. "It's okay. These ones can't get in without an invitation, remember..?"

"But you said..." Maria replied in frightened tones.

"Not these ones." Jenny repeated.

"Jesse had some weapons." Giles attempted to distract his Slayer's glare from off him.

"What *else* have you got..?" Buffy turned, ignoring the two stakes in his hand.

"Crossbow..." Jesse began, but quietly finished with. "But it's with Giles' stuff."

"And..?" Buffy queried, getting her usual feeling of doom.

"They're all in the trunk." Jesse finalledy admitted, pointing to his car and where it hand been parked.

Buffy turned her head following the finger's direction. First resting her eyes back on the vampire that was grinning from it's position in the centre of the lawn. Then her eyes moved past him resting the partially destroyed van where three vampires still remained, then finally past that onto the car which remained next to the kerb. "Great." she replied shaking her head.


Same Time.
The Bronze.

Pete arrived at the bottom of the stairs. Turning to face the group he'd been watching he noted that Faith was still scanning the upper floors while the others were now collecting their drinks. Smiling to himself he walked in the opposite direction, following the wall back round the opposite side of the staircase, past the toilets and towards the entrance to the club. He had just passed it and was heading towards the bar, when he heard his name being called from behind.

Turning quickly he found Scott entering the club with some other students.

"Heya." He quickly greeted his friend.

"Hi... no one here..?" Scott asked, gesturing to the fact the Pete was alone.

"They're at the bar... lets join them." Pete responded, leading the other man towards the others.

"Hey." Cordelia responded with a dazzling grin as the two approached them.

Faith just met Pete's eyes and smirked beside her.

"You just missed my round... repeatedly." Xander commented, giving the back of Faith's head a quick glare.

"Don't worry about it, I'll get my own." Scott offered, squeezing past Cordelia and Xander to reach the bar.

"Get me one too." Pete quickly called out.

"Thought you'd already seen them?" Scott asked, turning his head to look over his shoulder.

"Nah..." Pete casually responded. "Just got here a few moments before you... figured I needed a leak before coming over."

"The usual..?" Scott asked, accepting Pete's nod as an affirmative response before turning back and attempting to attract the bartenders attention. Cordelia smiled at the others before turning to join her boyfriend.

Pete's eyes flicked from Faith to Xander and back again. "No Buffy tonight..?" He asked, trying to make it sound casual.

"She'll be along later." Xander responded, eyes flicking over the dancefloor as he took another sip of his drink. "Until then I'm a single guy on the prowl." He joked.

"This is why she doesn't let you out without female supervision." Faith teased back.

"She's afraid someone might steal me off her..." Xander retorted.

"She really isn't." Faith answered. Rolling her eyes as she turned back to her boyfriend. "Delusional... it's sad really." She confessed quietly into Pete's ear.

Pete nodded but offered no real response.


Rooftop Across From Maria's Place.

"Why are they just standing there..?" Trick asked, noticing that the vampires they'd sent across the street seemed free to destroy the van to their unbeating heart's content.

"Cos they can't get it... and they're not actually risking anyone's life." Jonathan replied. "Told you this was a dumb plan." he commented, turning to face the two remaining vampires.

Post was in the middle of the rooftop talking to another vampire. This continued for a few extra minutes before the other vampire took off, Post walked over to the others.

"What was that about..?" Trick queried, gesturing to where the dispatched vampire had now leapt off the rooftop.

"Second part of the plan." Post replied dismissively.

"So why didn..?" Trick began.

"I'll explain it to you later." She replied, "Have they come out yet..?"

"No!" Jonathan answered, clearly impatient. "And there's no reason for them too... maybe we should advise the boys to start knocking on other people's doors... trashing their stuff... bet we'd get some response then."

"It's not necessary." Post replied. "The Slayer and her colleagues aren't likely to want to remain their all night... and there's no way the Slayer will back down from a fight."

"I still think this is a dumb idea." Jonathan complained. "They're minions... they're not that smart... we can't give them contradictory instructions like this."

Post merely raised an eyebrow.

"I still don't believe you volunteered to let us lose an edge." Trick commented, speaking about the turned Watcher in a negative fashion for the first time.

Post simply continued watching the vampires across the street. "You don't think they were ever likely to win do you..?"


Maria Locan's Apartment.

"Right." Buffy commented. Gripping her own stake quietly in her right hand, she held her free hand out for Jesse's spare.

"I'm coming with you." He insisted, refusing to release his own hold.

"You're in charge of the entrance." She corrected. "No one comes in or out... and I'm going to be staying around there, so you've also gotta watch my back."

"Willow take Miss Locan's upstairs." Giles ordered.

"No." Maria replied automatically, shrugging off the redhead's attempt to lead her towards the staircase. "I *need* to see this."

"Miss Locan's, I think that..." Willow began.

"She's right." Jenny cut off her student. "It's her place... she can go anywhere in it that she want's to..."

"Very well..." Giles reluctantly agreed. "But you stay *inside*."

"And as the only registered occupant." Jesse explained. "You do not invite *anyone* in... not even one of us."

"But..." Maria began.

"No." Buffy whirled to face her. "No one. If we're not turned we'll walk back in ourselves."

"So everyone ready..?" Jenny asked, approaching the others.

"As we get." Buffy confirmed her response, taking the second stake off Jesse. "Jess... the door." She instructed.

Jesse pulled the door open, flattening himself against the wall as the Slayer charged past him.

Once outside Buffy didn't bother pausing to get her directions. A brief glance to her left and she flung her left arm out, releasing the stake never waiting to confirm it hit the intended target.

She reached the vampire that was inside the van, just as she heard the one on the lawn explode into dust. Reaching out she swiped in the vamp's general direction, but the stake flashed inside the gap where the windscreen used to be, but was unable to reach the vampire.

Deciding against climbing in, she turned her attention to the ones on top of the van. Stepping back out of range she looked up at the ones above her.

"That all you can do?" She challenged them. "Smash a van..?"


The Bronze.

Xander's eyes flicked back in the direction of the entrance. "Thought they'd be here by now." He stated, looking at his watch.

"Ahhhh... you missing Buffy..?" Faith teased, from her position on the sofa.

"Where did they go..?" Scott asked, not noticing the sudden glances between the two girls.

"They went with the librarian. Mister Giles." Cordelia responded, shrugging as she met Faith's questioning look. "To see... about getting some cable."

"Mister Giles is the librarian, right..?" Scott queried.

"And he's getting cable..?" Pete furthered the line of questioning.

"Sure..." Faith answered, physically turning her boyfriend around to face her. "It's got... channels... for the British." She lamely finished, before dragging Pete in for a deep kiss.

"What..?" Scott repeated.

"Monty Python... playing all night..." Xander expanded.

"They're kidding." Cordelia responded, sending them both glares of her own. "Mister Giles is just *soo* English that he didn't know about all these discovery channels and history channels we have over here."

"Yep... kidding right..." Xander confirmed. "It's like a library, but on a TV channel of it's own... it's a TV library." He announced.

"So why have the others gone with him..?" Scott asked confused.

Pete broke off the kiss to Faith, who looked a little disappointed she hadn't been able to retain his attention for longer.

Cordelia intercepted Xander's reply before it was uttered. "Jesse's aunt works for the cable company."

"That's right." Xander confirmed, nodding enthusiastically.

"So that explains Jesse and Willow, but what about Buffy..?" Pete asked suspiciously, flicking his attention between Xander and Faith.

"She wanted to go with them..." Faith answered.

"So I said, I'd come here with Faith." Xander tried to explain.

"But you live with Buffy..?" Pete asked turning to his girlfriend.

"She's..." Faith began.

"... considering getting cable for her mom for Christmas. As a present." Xander finished the sentence for her.

"Yes!" Faith answered confidently. "She went with the others, while we stayed there to distract her mom."

"That way... if her mom asks, she can say she was buying for me..." Xander added.

"Or me." Agreed Faith.

"Okay..." Pete answered, still rather dubious about the lines he was obviously being fed.

"So if that's covered, whose for another dri..." Cordelia began with a smile.

Just as the skylight exploded and two figures dropped onto the upper balcony.

"What the..." Scott shouted, instinctively grabbing his girlfriend while trying to see what had landed on the floor above them.

Pete did the same to Faith, who merely rolled her eyes as the full extent of the situation became apparent to her.

"Oh fuck." Was all she said.

Chapter 36

The Bronze.

Cordelia froze. Eyes flicking around the group in front of her. Ignoring Scott's protective grip, her eyes flicked from Xander to Faith and back again, neither were looking in her direction. Faith looked like she was edging to get free, but couldn't think of a good reason to go. Xander had moved to the bottom of the stairs to get a better look. His eyes silently questioning Faith as to what she was going to do.

"Where are the bouncers..?" Pete asked, eyes staring upward.

"Good question... let's go find out." Cordelia offered as a simple explanation, unfortunately nobody made a move in any direction.

"You okay..?" Scott asked, believing his girlfriend to be upset by the commotion upstairs.

"I think we shou..." Cordelia began, trying to find any simple explanation that would allow Faith to get free, but none leapt to mind.

Another scream decided it for them. Xander was heading up the stairs before anybody could stop him.

"Xander!" Cordelia screamed first.

Xander patted his jacket in a silent response as he headed up to see what awaited.

"What was that about..? Is he carrying a weapon..?" Pete asked suspicious.

"Hope so." Cordelia breathed quietly.

"What was that..?" Scott releasing his grip so she could turn to face him.

"Hope not." Cordelia said loudly. "Come on." She muttered glancing towards the entrance, there was still no bouncer in sight.

"What is it with him and running towards screams..?" Scott asked, expression curious.

"I need to help." Faith muttered, casually breaking Pete's tight embrace.

"Let me go..." Pete answered, quickly attempting to move in front of her.



Xander reached the top of the stairs to find two vampires standing in the centre of the balcony. Surrounding them were about fifteen students; some bleeding, other's attempting to comfort those that were.

"Least there's no dead." He muttered under his breath thankfully, quickly palming his stake into his dominant right hand.

"Hey." He said, trying to make his voice sound jovial. "I don't think you paid to get in... I think the idea if you don't pay is to sneak in." He gestured to the smashed skylight.

"All we need is an invitation... and this place is public." The larger of the two vampires commented.

"It was meant to be... Never mind." He sighed. "Guess quips are my girlfriend's thing."

"So meatbag... what do we have here..?" The shorter laughed. "Some wannabe hero..?"

"Meatbag..?" Xander repeated, "Shouldn't that be bloodbag... or am I getting you confused with real vampires..?"

The smaller one charged at him, leaping back Xander attempted to stake the vampire in the back as he passed but found himself unable to do so. Facing the shorter vampire, Xander made a sudden realisation.

Turning his head he discovered the larger one was still standing behind him amused.

"I really hate being piggy." He commented, wishing he had two stakes.


Maria Locan's Apartment.

The vampire chasing her suddenly found himself distracted by a stake flying towards his head. Batting the offensive item away, he straightened himself up as the Slayer returned to her place of safety.

"Shut it!!" Buffy commanded as she dived over Jesse's head and into the room, rolling into a somersault to control her momentum.

Jesse slammed the door shut from his crouched position at the entrace. "Two down." he commented.

"Two left." Buffy finished for him. "And two stakes down too."

"Three." He corrected her.

"What..?" She asked.

"Had to throw it at the one chasing you." He informed her.

"Dammit... what's left..?" She asked, spinning to face the rest of the room.

"I've got Gile's one." Jenny stated.

"Me too." Willow answered.

"Two for two... haven't we just played this game..?" Jesse commented.

"You said it was three." Buffy commented.

"It didn't dust... it just got knocked onto the grass somewhere." He commented.

"Right." Buffy took another look around the room, "Where's Giles and Maria..?"

"He took her upstairs..." Jenny replied.

"Okay..." Buffy composed herself. "Jenny, you're in charge of the door. Willow, stay by the window and make sure that neither of us get surprised."

Both women nodded their assent.

"Where am I?" Jesse asked.

"You're with me." Buffy informed him.

"Fighting..?" He queried.

"I'm fighting... you're re-arming." She stated. "I'm gonna try and take both out... or at least get their attention fixed on me... you're getting the stuff out of the trunk. Once you've got crosses and crossbows then you can join in..."

"Kay." He replied, taking a deep breath as he mentally prepared to go out.

"Ready..?" She asked, at his nod she flung the door open again and kicked the first vamp she found towards the lawn, the second was ready for her and she engaged it in hand to hand.

As the two combatants exchanged blows, Jesse made his way round the opposite side of the van. Reaching the end, he realised he could no longer see where the two vampires were. From the sound at least one of them was still tangling with Buffy.

Popping his head round the corner he could see she'd gained the advantage with the one fighting her, but had so far been unsuccessful in any attempt at staking it; the other now was rising from it's downed position on the lawn.

Deciding to risk it, he made the ten yard run to his trunk.

The vampire from the lawn reached the Slayer at about the same instant that Jesse managed to open the trunk. Taking a quick glance he could see Buffy had decided to swap opponents and was now holding off the other vampire while he back was pressed against the van.

"Jeez." She commented under her breath, blocking a right hook with her left fore-arm. She managed to catch the vampire in to torso with a right of her own, knocking him away from her, but then winced as she felt a sharp pain in her left arm.

Quickly glancing at it, she noticed the trail of blood on her left arm.

The vampire stood facing her. "You have a stake. *I* have a stake." He taunted, brandishing the newly acquired weapon.

She gritted her teeth as she moved past the pain, and lifted her own weapon up into position. She moved forward to meet him on the lawn.

Returning his attention back to the weapons on the trunk Jesse realised that none of the crossbows were loaded. Grabbing the nearest and a wooden bolt, he placed the bolt into position and began to draw it back.

The other vampire stood up, running behind and past the Slayer was aiming right at for him.


The Bronze.

"Right." Xander muttered to himself, as his gaze flicked from side to side; the shorter vampire was staring directly at him seemingly waiting for his colleague to take his turn. The larger one had a puzzled expression on his face, as if trying to work something out. "Shit creek." He confirmed to himself. "And this," his eyes glanced momentarily to the stake he was waving around. "Is all I've got for a paddle."

The screams around them continued, none of the three standing in the centre paid them any attention.

Apparently bored waiting for the other to take his turn, the shorter vampire charged again. This time Xander was better prepared for it. Ducking and lashing out with his stake he managed to cause a deep cut across the vampire's midrift.

"You'll die for that." The vampire sneered, pausing as he stood side by side with the larger demon.

"That's the Slayer's boyfriend." The larger creature stated confidently, as if pleased he'd solved that particular problem.

Realising that they were now back on one side of him, Xander changed his stance but refused to comment on the truth of the accusation. Fingers clasping around the stake handle, as he readjusted his grip to get it comfortable.

"So..?" The shorter one repeated, hesitating from making another attack.

"Just saying..." The larger one looked down at the recent injuries. "And it might explain how he managed to achieve that."

"Are you gonna help or name Slayer lackies?"

"I don't know his name." The larger one looked towards his colleague. "He ain't *that* important."

Pete reached the top of the stairs, coming face to face with the two people challenging Xander. Faith hovering impatiently behind him.

"Xander." She said quietly, reassuring herself that he was okay. Her eyes began to scan the other students present on the balcony, confirming there was nothing fatal so far she allowed herself a small sigh of relief.

Pete heard the response and quickly glanced behind him to where Faith appeared to be looking at everyone except him.

Deciding on action he charged at the larger man, shouting to Xander as he did so. "This one's mine, you get the other..." He said, evading Faith's attempt to grasp him.

"Pete!!! No!!!" Xander shouted moving forward to meet them.

Pete reached the larger of the two vampires and attempted to take him back with a shoulder charge around the waist. The larger vampire was knocked back a step before reaching down and casually throwing Pete at the Slayer, knocking them both into a small crowd of students.

Faith snarled as she hit the ground, dragging herself back to their feet. "You'll pay for that."

Pete stirred from his position on the floor, noticing this Faith casually grabbed one of the students and pushed him into another, making them both land heavily on her boyfriend. "Sorry babe." She commented casually, hoping he didn't notice that she was the cause of his current discomfort.

The two vampires maintained their attention on the newly arrived Slayer and as a result didn't seen Xander dive at the shortest one. "This one's mine!" he called out as he wrestled it to the floor.

"Works for me." Faith answered as she approached the remaining vampire. "You hit *my* boyfriend."

By this time, Cordelia had managed to approach from the other flight of stairs.

"Still no sign of a bouncer." Scott called from below.

"Ask the barstaff." She instructed him, turning her attention to where Xander had managed to gain the upperhand with the downed vampire, then flicking it to where Faith was trading blows and kicks with larger one.

"Shouldn't you do that... and I'll see if they need help..?" Scott offered, begining his ascent of the stairs.

"No!!" Cordelia shouted, shocking him into pausing. "No." She added in calmer voice. "I think they've got it under control now."

"So if it's under control then there's no reason to get the bouncers." Scott countered, beginning to climb the stairs again.

"Under control is such a vague term..." Cordelia gave a quick glance behind her, before running down a few steps to meet him.


Chapter 37

Outside Maria Locan's Apartment.

"Jesse!!!!" Willow screamed through the window when she saw the vampire approaching her boyfriend.

Jesse turned instinctively towards the sound, as he did so realising that the demon was now completely upon him.

"Ooof." He groaned as he was knocked off his feet, the force of the collision taking both over the trunk of the car and onto the road beyond. Landing on his back he looked to the side to see the demon recovering from it's own fall. His right hand started pawing the ground next to him, "Where the hell did the crossbow end up...?" He wondered as he eyes flicked from the demon beside him, back to where Buffy had thrown her opponent to the ground. Realising there was no help coming from that direction he moved his hand faster, desperately attempting to locate the dropped weapon.

"Jesse!!!" He heard Willow scream again, obviously worried because she couldn't see anything.

The demon next to him had managed to get itself to a sitting position, noticing the unarmed boy it moved closer, changing into it's vampiric face as it did so.

Finally his fingers found the handle, grasping the crossbow in the correct grip he lifted and pointed it at the demon in one fluid motion, and pulled the trigger, briefly noticing the look of surprise on the demon's face.

Nothing happened.

The vampire wasn't dust and Jesse didn't recieve the recoil he'd been expecting.

Both opponents glanced down at the crossbow simultaneously. Not only had the crossbow draw string not been wound back fully, the bolt hadn't been secured properly and not wasn't with the crossbow.

Jesse went wide-eyed as he realised the new predicament. The vampire smiled and prepared to move in for the kill.

Jesse raised himself into the crab position and immediately began backpeddling, trying to get some distance between him and the demon.

The demon crawled along on all fours after him, apparently relishing the oppurtunity to stalk it's meal.

Finally Jesse reached the end of his car, although further down the street this now allowed him to see Willow jumping up and down in the window. She became more hysterical as she saw the vampire come into view, now standing up so it could tower over her boyfriend.

She began screaming again, gesturing madly at something behind him. But his attention was transfixed by what was occuring in front of him.

"Jesse!!!!" She screamed again, as the vampire made to make it's final pounce towards the fallen opponent.


The Bronze.

Xander struggled with the vampire beneath him. "Will. You. Just. Fucking. Die!!" He shouted at it, each word being punctuated with an attempt to stake it. The vampire twisting it's torso and using it's arms as defense, to ensure that each attempt hit a non-fatal area.

Suddenly the creature beneath him stared over his right shoulder. Unfazed, Xander himself made to roll slightly left expecting an attack from behind.

None came. The demon's eyes tracked some unseen movement behind him; apparently moving from his somewhere behind his right hand side past his left and then disappearing somewhere to the far left.

Xander took advantage of the demon's distraction to ram his stake home. The vampire turned to dust and Xander dropped onto his front, quickly turning over to see what had occured.

All he noticed was Faith walking towards a crowd of classmates. Helping them to their feet and seperating Pete from the others.


A Minute Previously.

"Fine. I'll come with you." Cordelia stated, attempting to drag Scott down the stairs.

"You said everything was fine." He said gesturing towards the above balcony.

Cordelia turned and followed where he was looking.

Just in time to see a large man come flying off the balcony towards the dancefloor below.

"Shi..." Scott began, leaning over the railing expecting to see devastation below.

What he found was a dancefloor full of people all rubbing the faces or shaking some bits out of the hair.

"What happened to that guy..?" He asked.

"What guy?" Cordelia asked. She was standing a few steps higher up than he was, and had seen the man exploding into dust before he ever reached the ground. "The screaming's stopped." She informed him. "Shall we check everyone's okay..?" she asked, heading back up to the upper balcony.

Scott took another look over the bannister. This time leaning over so he check all around for any sign of the falling person having landed anywhere, nothing could be found. Shaking his head, he followed Cordelia upstairs pushing past the students descending the steps.

When he arrived at the top there were approximately five or six students still remaining; they seemed to have various injuries, luckily most of which were superficial. Pete was amongst them, looking slightly bruised. Faith was kneeling in front of him, while Cordelia and Xander were helping the others. Xander had some blood on his shirt but didn't seem to be injured.

"They're just bruises." Pete reassured Faith. "Some idiots landed on me before I could get a chance for another go." He grumbled.

She simply smiled back at him. "Course you would have."

"What happened to you..?" Scott asked Xander as he approached.

"What..?" Xander replied, glancing around the floor.

Scott pointed at his sleeve which seemed to be covered in blood.

"Didn't notice it." Xander responded, making a show a rolling his sleeve up to examine for non-existant injuries. "Must have been someone else's." he shrugged.

"Did you see a..?" Scott began. "Nah... forget it." He finished, moving over to Cordelia.

"And Sunnydale-induced amnesia strikes again." Xander muttered with a smirk.

"Guys." Cordelia attracted their attention, then gesturing to the injured parties in front of her. "I think we really need a bouncer or something... possibly some sort of paramedic..."

"Yeah," Faith agreed looking around. "Willow's normally the one for that sort of stuff."


Outside Maria Locan's Apartment.

Jesse lifted his hands expectingly, eyes locked with those of the demon. He knew he only had to fend the creature off long enough for Buffy to stake it.

Bracing his arms he waited for the creaure to finally land upon him.

Instead of that, there was a loud shot echoing through the air. And the vampire was suddenly thrown to his left, further into the road.

Blinking, he looked back at Willow who was also staring wide-eyed. Then his eyes trailed further up the building, to where Giles was leaning out of the open window, a revolver in his hands.

Jesse turned to see the demon placing a hand on it's wound. "Bullet's don't kill vampires." He remember from Giles' lecture. The demon began to raise itself up on one arm. Another bullet buried itself into the creature's torso, forcing it back to the ground.

Willow began waving her hands about again, seemingly pointing at something behind him. This time he had the chance to look, and he saw what she was referring to almost immediately. Pushing himself to his feet, he quickly walked over to it. Another gunshot rang out behind him, and he heard the vampire shriek in pain again. A small smile came to his lips as he picked the wooden bolt up from it's resting place.

Confidently he walked back to the vampire. Waiting til it met his gaze, then he kneeled down stabbing it through the heart with one fluid motion.

Sighing, he rested there for a few seconds. Turning his head towards the building he nodded his thanks to Giles for his actions. A light coming on across the street attacted his attention.

"Typical." He muttered to himself, "Vampire attack and no-one remembers anything... hear gunfire and everyone calls the cops."

Getting to his feet, he turned to where Buffy had just kicked the vampire in the face, "Buffy... we need to..." He watched as she slammed the stake home, the vampire turning to dust. "...Go." He finished unnecessarily.

Smiling as she dusted herself off, she span to face where he was now picking up the discarded crossbow. "Okay... so you killed yours before I killed mine... but *you* had help... and look," She continued in a cheery voice, holding both hands up. "I came out of my fight with an *extra* stake... did you do that..?"

Jesse sighed as he walked past her back into the house.

"Look on the bright side." She continued, following after him as she entered the house. "She's *sure* she wasn't imagining it... it's not like we've got to take her on patrol or anything."


The Bronze.

Scott helped Xander and Cordelia carry the injured back down the stairs. Faith walked behind them accompanying Pete. Making their way over to the bar, Faith attracted the bartender's attention with a loud whistle.

"You got a first aid kit anywhere back there..?" She asked him, not waiting for an answer.

"Hope the others are okay." Xander muttered to himself, as the bartender left the bar area and head towards the manager's office.

Scott heard the comment as he took some ice that another member of the bar staff as offering it to them. "Why wouldn't they be..?" He asked confused, wrapping the ice up in a tissue and placing it on the wound of the classmate in front of him.

At the other end of the bar, a solitary figure in the dark nodded, accepting that the incident was over. He strode out of the nightclub, and quickly headed down a dark alley. Casually stepping over the remains of the bouncer from the Bronze, without giving it anymore than the briefest glance.

Chapter 38

The Next Day. Lunchtime. The Library.

"I can't believe you're still spouting that crap..." Jesse spouted from his place at the table.

Giles counted to five in order to remain calm. "I am not allowing you to bring guns out on patrol and that is final."

"You saved my life with one last night... *my* life... not that I'm not grateful or anything, but think of how many other lives we could save that way too." Jesse continued.

"You don't know how to use a gun." Giles countered. "How many do you lives might you be endangering..?"

"Those lives are already endangered." Jesse raised his voice further. "It's not like I'm suggesting taking pot shots into crowds... I'm agreeing vamps as the only targets."

Around the table, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Jenny watched this argument swing back and forth to each participant lie they were viewing a tennis match.

"Knew this was going to happen." Jenny muttered under her breath. "Maybe we should have just let him get bit."

"Hey." Willow exclaimed from the seat next to the teacher.

"Only a little bite." Jenny defended her comment.

"There will be no biting of my boyfriend." Willow stated, treating Jenny to her reserve face, who promptly turned away ignoring the younger woman.

"Bet Jesse really hates that." Xander joked to Buffy, causing Willow to go bright red.

"I meant evil biting... from vampires..." Willow corrected herself, blushing further with each added comment.

"Really..?" Buffy teased. "Is this *acceptable* biting a mutual thing or strictly one way..?"

"Shhhh." Willow stated, lowering her head towards the table so she could hide her face in her hair. The others turning their attentions back towards the main event.

"We'd use them safely." Jesse commented, apparently on the defensive now.

"You lose stakes repeatedly." Giles pressed the argument. "You think I'm willing to risk that with a gun..?"

"It's not like we've ever lost a crossbow." Jesse smiled at him, trying to get a 'see we are responsible' expression on his face.

Giles wasn't buying it for a second. "But you have tossed them aside when the fighting's become up close."

"Not loaded." Jesse argued. "And who'd throw a loaded gun away when they're in a fight anyway."

"I'd prefer not to find out." Giles stated in a condescending tone.

"Guns could be more useful than they could harmful." Jesse shrugged, "That's all I'm trying to say."

"You *want* to see how harmful guns could be..?" Giles asked rhetorically before heading towards his office.

"Knew this was coming." Jenny muttered to herself, while all the others watched him disappear behind the door.

Xander and Buffy exchanged confused glances, while Jesse turned back to the others trying to recruit some backup.

Giles came out of the office and threw a newspaper down on the table.

All turned their heads to read it, noting the picture of a local shop below the headline.

"Student killed in drive-by shooting." Giles read aloud. "And that was only last night."

"Okay... it's not like it happens every night though." Jesse tried countering, even as he realised the futility of trying to do so.

"It's already too often for my tastes." Giles paused, letting that sink in. "And that is why I'm not agreeing to teach any of you to shoot, nor will I agree to any firearms being allowed on patrols while you are my responsibility." He finished taking the paper and heading back to his office.

"Can't believe it only happened last night." Jesse mumbled to himself. "Took a lot out of my argument." He continued unhappily.

"You think there's a death that occurs in this town that Giles *doesn't* read about..?" Jenny asked the others, before standing intending to depart towards the office.

She was interrupted by Faith and Cordelia strolling into the library.

"We gotta tell Pete and Scott." Faith announced as she walked in.

"Tell Pete and Scott what..?" Xander asked.

"About the hellmouth..." Faith began.

"And demons..." Cordelia continued.

"And shit...." Faith finished.

"Ermm... why..?" Jenny asked.

"Cos like Xander had to face these vampires himself last night." Faith explained. "And cos of over-protective Pete, I couldn't back him up."

"You didn't back him up!" Buffy leapt in on that last fact.

"Not til I could dump Pete, no." Faith responded.

"You dumped Pete!!!" Buffy went wide-eyed. "It's like over and everything..?" She asked a little sadly.

"No." Faith shook her head. "Are you like *on* something..?"

"No." Buffy commented. "It's just all this information flying past me... Xander fighting alone, you dumping but not really dumping your boyfriend. I thought I was missing out on interesting stuff..." She drifted off ashamedly.

Faith sighed, "Two vamps turned up. Xander went to deal. Pete went to offer to help..."

"Hang on, Pete's fighting vampires now..?" Willow asked confused.

"He didn't know they were vampires." Cordelia responded.

"Man, I bet he got his ass kicked." Jesse theorised, then refused to meet Faith's glare.

"Yeah, thanks for that..." She commented. "Pete got pushed over, I dealt with one vamp, Xander dealt with the other... done deal, everyone lives... I'm just saying it would have been easier if Pete knew to let me follow Xand."

"Where were you..?" Jesse asked Cordelia.

"Distracting Scott... who thinks it's bizarre how we all run *towards* screams." She replied. "Says it's against natural instincts or something... I think I agree with him."

Giles chose this moment to come out of the office. "What's going on..?"

"The girls think we should invite Pete and Scott into the gang." Jenny summarised for him.

"I don't think so." Giles instantly replied. "We aren't here to go advertising what we do... especially not to impress your significant others."

"Don't say that word, G." Faith warned. "I ain't got no significant anything... he's just a potential playmate, understand..?" She finished with a smirk.

"So why do you want him to kn..."

"Cos it makes it easier..." She explained. "He'll know not to be all protective and shit... especially when I'm itching to cave a demon's head in."

"I don't think that actually warrants..." Giles began.

"So everyone else's partner gets to know, but ours don't... is that what you're saying...?" Cordelia argued.

"If I've been led to understand this correctly, you've only been seeing him since you yourself arrived here." Giles countered.

"But her boyfriend found out." Cordelia gestured towards Willow.

"Jesse was here from the begi..."

"Oz." Cordelia interrupted him.

"Pardon." Giles asked confused.

"Oz... she told Oz... well we were all there... but she told him."

"You mean in your reality..?" Giles asked, knowing he couldn't exactly prove or disprove her statement. "I'm sure there were special circumstances in that scena..."

"You mean like the vampire Buffy staked in front of him...?" Cordelia asked.

"Exactly like that, yes." Giles nodded his agreement.

"Well, we could do that... we'll just get Faith to drag one along one night." She finished happily.

"Yeah..." Faith agreed.

"No." Giles stated confidently. "We will not go looking for ways to prove it to them... if one should happen such as it obviously did with this Oz situation then maybe we'll review it... but until then..."

"G." Faith interrupted. "We're currently spending most of our efforts avoiding letting them know... having them find out accidentally is just a matter of not leading them down the wrong alley, or not holding them back when we get involved in a fight."

"We'll give it some thought... but for the moment, they stay in the dark." Giles authoritatively answered.

"Fine." Faith and Cordelia responded simultaneously, obviously not happy with the current situation.


The Master's Lair.

"Well done Matthias..." Post congratulated the elder vampire. "A very... *professional* review of the situation at the Bronze."

Matthias nodded, pleased with her comments.

"So Faith's little boyfriend is hampering her ability to fight as effectively as she should be... mmmm, looks like the Watcher's were right to discourage such amorous activities after all..." Post mused with a grin. "So bad for them... so very good for us."

"That said though, the vampires you sent mistress." Matthias began hesitantly.

"Yes..?" She asked.

"They were more showy than effective themselves... leaping through a skylight... and still failing to kill anyone before the Slayer got to them..." He answered, slightly fearful of her response.

"Matthias... you've got to learn which vampires are useful... and which are just... fodder." Post replied with a glint in her eye. "I bet the Master had them all grouped out in his mind... knew which ones to trust, which ones to send out for specific tasks and which would never be more than sacrificial lambs..."

"That he did." Matthias agreed with a smile.

"You've learnt a lot over the years." Post commented. "I've looked through the remains of Darla's stuff and I've found nothing useful... I bet if there was someone the Master trusted more than Darla you'd know who it was..." She smiled at him, standing up to face him and stroking his head with her left hand as she asked in the sweetest voice she could muster. "Wouldn't you..?"

"He wasn't sure about Darla." Matthias began, closing his eyes as he focused on the attention she was providing. "After she ran away with Angelus and caused havoc for a century he wasn't beyond thinking she might do it again... you know if Angelus ever returned to his former glory."

"Of course... the Scourge of Europe... he'd never truly forget such a thing even if he did allow her back into his good graces." Post continuing to gently carress his cheek with her fingers. She leaned in close enough for her lips to touch his ear, "And who would he have trusted when Darla wasn't available." She quietly whispered into his ear.

"Luke..." He gulped, feeling her tongue dash inside his ear.

"Good boy." She said, moving back so as to look him in the eyes. "You continue to be good to me... and *maybe* I'll be good to you." She finished in a seductive tone, before leaning back in to lick his neck.


Unknown office.

"Sir..?" The smartly dressed man asked as he strolled into the office. "There's someone here to see you that... erm, *isn't* on your iteninary."

"I'm not expecting any *special* guests today.." A man who looked like he was in his late forties replied, "We normally have to make arrangements when they're..." He paused, running a hand through the remains of his thinning red hair. "They look..?"

"Completely normal, sir... but quite angry..." The man responded nervously.

"Then why don't security simply deal with him..?" He added in a friendly tone.

"He's... well old sir... probably well into his sixties... I don't think they want to harm him."

"Sixty isn't that old, Alan. Seventy neither for that matter" The man replied with a grin. "Surely you should realise that. Sixty's barely twice your age. At sixty you could easily still have quite a decent golf game in you." He mused to himself. "He look like a golfer..?"

"Erm... no sir." Alan replied. "As I said, he's quite angry... keeps ranting about his grandson... says he heard about some of your... less official dealings sir. Says he wants your help or else."

"Or else what..?" The man replied in an amused tone. "Never mind, bring him in... let's see what he wants before he upsets any of the regular staff."

"Certainly sir." Alan replied, heading back the door.

Opening it, he gestured for the other man to enter. "A Mister Richard O'Toole to see you sir." Alan announced as he led a large elderly bald man into the room. "Please have a seat." He gestured.

The man sat down while the man opposite scrutinised him, Richard noticed the other man's eyes briefly resting on the scar on his left cheek, and flicking towards the visible tattoos on his forearms. He did note that at no point did the smile ever leave the other man's face.

"So, Richard..." The other man, paused seemingly remembering his manners. "May I call you Richard." At his nod he continued. "So Richard, what exactly can I do for you..?"

"It's like this... sir." Richard began, remembering that he definitely didn't want to anger the man sitting opposite. "It's my grandkid, right... he's the only family I have left, see..."