Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]gmail.com>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me. FYI, I do not watch the series any more... I don't like the series, and never have liked it overly. I do like the potential of the series, and the potential inherent in the Character of Xander Harris... I started watching the series in S6, and stopped before the end of S7, and this fic should in no way be taken as a compliment to the skills of the people at ME... I only started watching the series because of the skills of the writers at the BX_Fanfic Yahoogroup... Unfortunately, even their skill was not sufficient to keep me watching. So, no, I don't own the characters... and as far as I'm concerned ME can keep them.

Other Characters and settings are generally only taken because I DO like them... so if yer not ME, and your stuff is in here, then Kudos on the good work. :) (Though if you work on Charmed, watch out... You're treading WAAAY to close to the hack level of ME lately.)

For the readers... Yes, the above was a rant. But it was also all true. (The facts anyway, if not the opinions.)

Summary: Year One has yet to start, but Xander has a lot of work to do before it does. And time is growing short.

Warning : Crossovers ahead. (Yes Plural.)

Rating : PG-13. For mature themes and all the other fun stuff that rarely makes network TV.

Feedback, It's the coin of the realm.

Xander and Jack had just finished tying off the 579 when a black Trans-Am roared into the boat club and came to a stop a few feet away.

Styles jumped, for two reasons. One, though he'd seen cars on TV and while 'visiting' with some young ladies in Hawaii, he had never seen them this close. And two, even HE knew that they were supposed to have drivers.

"Relax." Xander grinned, finishing the knot he was working on and moving up to KARR. He ran his hand along the unblemished hood, nodding as he did. "They did good work. You look showcase new, KARR."

The AI rumbled slightly, but Xander thought that it was pleased. "How'd the internal upgrades go?"

"Adequately." The AI rumbled in response. "I am now equipped with a Fold-Com that connects my systems to Merlin's information network."

"Good." Xander smiled, "I've told Merlin to give you unlimited access... but Karr... abuse the privilege and I'll have it disabled. Understand?"


Xander nodded. When he had both time and remembered to do it, he'd had Merlin access the records of KARR's actions from the Knight Foundations computers. He had quickly realized that the AI had to be treated with a very heavy handed mix of trust and discipline. Much like a particularly unruly child. Keep it in the dark, and it would revolt. Enforce nothing, and it would run over you. Literally.

"This is Jack Styles," Xander said after a moment, nodding to where Jack was standing. "He's a friend of mine. How come Kevin didn't come?"

"Mr Sorbo is busy on a 'shoot'." The AI replied. "He asked me to relay his apologies and to invite you to the 'set'"

"Thanks, Karr." Xander nodded, "You mind giving us a lift?"

The vehicles doors popped open, and Xander immediately got in on the drivers side. "Jack?"

"Huh? Oh... Yeah." Styles shook himself from his stupor and went around to get in the other side. "Uh... Who are you talking too?"

Xander laughed, "Sorry... I forgot, you don't know... Jack, this is KARR. He's... well, he's the car."

"Oh. Uh... Pleased to meet you Car." Jack said hesitantly.

The doors shut, and the engine revved. "Are we in a hurry?"

"No. Obey the traffic laws." Xander smiled, "But thanks for asking."

"Confirmed." KARR replied, backing out of the parking lot.

The drive to the studio was quiet and quick, none of the three speaking much, each for their own reasons.

Xander was considering everything he'd have to do, especially since he was heading for Sunnydale soon. Which meant he had a lot of expenditures about to go out, and a lot of assets to move and emplace.

Jack Styles was somewhat in awe of the size of the city they were driving through, blinking back the desire to ooh and ahh at everything. He was, afterall, a very cosmopolitan man... or se he had once considered himself.

KARR, on the other hand, never spoke much but always thought.

The AI was continuously reconsidering the deal it had made with Xander, not out of any malicious intent, but simply as an aspect of it's multitasking capability. Not a second passed that it didn't recompute the factors involved in the deal, weighing risks versus rewards.

So far the rewards, including the armor repair and hardware refit, outweighed the risks it had been set against. Even if they hadn't complete offset the risks, the added benefit of a guaranteed repair facility would offset many of the danger factors in and off itself.

For the moment, the AI was comfortable with the deal it had made. For the first time perhaps, in it's entire existence, it felt free. Oddly perhaps, because it was still bound to a human, but there it was. There was no logical reason to come to that answer, but it felt... free. Free of the threat posed by the foundation.

No. Not quite. But something that might be considered analogous perhaps.

The AI shifted that consideration to a subroutine as it noticed the approaching guard booth.

"Can I help you Sir?" The Studio guard asked, leaning out of his booth as the black sports car glided to a halt.

Xander leaned out, extending his ID. "Xander Harris to see Kevin Sorbo."

The guard did a quick check then punched the name up on the computer. After a moment he nodded, "Yes Sir. Just go in to the left and park in the visitors lot. Mr Sorbo is in Studio four... I'll have a guide meet you."


"Xander!" Herc grinned as he glanced up to see Xander approach. His eyes widened as he saw Jack Styles approach behind him. "Uh... uh..."

"Kev, hey!" Xander grinned, "I hope you don't mind... I brought a friend... This is Jack Styles. Jack, Kevin Sorbo."

"Hey Kevin." Jack nodded, shaking the demi-god's hand as he looked around. "Some setup you've got here."

"Thanks." Herc got out, still eyeing the revolutionary spy carefully. "Nice to meet you."

"You too." Jack said, looking down to where Hercules was still shaking his hand. "Uh... do you mind?"

"What? Oh! Sorry." Herc dropped his hand, "Feel free to have a look around... I need to talk to Xander for a minute..."

"Sure, thanks."

Hercules pulled Xander aside quickly, "Geez, Xan... where did you find him?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Want make a bet on that!?" Herc hissed. "Jesus, Xander. That's Jack Styles."

"You know him I take it?"

"Know of him." Kevin replied. "We met a couple times at banquets after the revolution. He was one of the top spies of the Revolutionary government... and on first name basis with the founding fathers. Whether they liked it or not."

Xander grinned, "You mean he's not full of shit? Ha!"


Xander shrugged, "Apparently he was on a mission against French aggression back during the..."

"Napoleonic wars. Yeah, I know." Herc nodded, "The US couldn't get involved directly, but no one was stupid enough to believe that Napoleon would just stop at conquering Europe. Jack was always the kind of guy that brought 'plausible deniability' to mind."

Xander snorted, "Yeah. That makes sense. Anyway, apparently the runt... ah, I mean Napoleon... found and old post-Fall antlantean redoubt."

Herc winced.

"Yeah. Could have been worse... he didn't get anything with any real military application at the time... unless..." Xander frowned.

"Unless what?"

"Well... he could have used the devices to scout battlefields... but only IF he had some kind of reflector over the area...." Xander shrugged, "Anyway. The redoubt had a Stasis field in it. Jack and his partner of the time got in, got some information on the french troop movements, and Jack got trapped in the field while stalling to let her escape."

Herc nodded, shaking his head. "The luck of the Gods. He always did have it."


"Jack Styles..." Hercules hesitated. "Is Autolycous."

"The King of Thieves?" Xander blurted, "From your show?"

Herc nodded.

"The guy you have playing doesn't look anything like him." Xander mused, then frowned. "Hey... how come he doesn't know you?"

"Because he's not the original." Herc shrugged.


"Reincarnation is a weird thing." Herc replied. "But the second I saw Jack in action over two hundred years ago... I knew."

"Whoa. That's freaky."

Herc shrugged, "It happens. I ran into Xena a couple years ago... She came back as a man that time though... funny thing was, 'he' looked just like Joxer."

Xander frowned, "Who?"

Herc shook his head, "Sorry, I keep forgetting that you didn't see Xena in your timeline. Joxer was a bit of a goof, a real klutz, but a good guy just the same. Anyway, Xena, Gabby, and Joxer reincarnated that time in each others bodies... It's rare, but it can happen around people who were closely entwined in one life... the Soul gets to like certain groupings."

Xander shook his head to clear it, "And you think that this is Autolycus?"

Herc nodded.

"He look like him too? Or is it a different body?"

"Spitting image." Herc smiled. "It's good to know what happened to him. If you need any help getting him used to this time... give me a call."


"No problem... Hey, come on... I want to introduce you to someone." Herc grinned and led them across the studio. "Hey Jason!"

"Yo!" A man popped his head up and approached. "What's up Kev?"

Xander smirked at Herc, who just glared at him. "I want to introduce you to a friend of mine... Jason Gibbons, this is Xander Harris. Xander, this is Jason Gibbons... he plays Autolycus."

Xander recognized the man, who had a surprisingly easy going feel compared to his hyperactive character. "Nice to meet you."

"You too." Jason smiled easily, shaking Xander's hand. "Any friend of Herc's here..."

"Yeah yeah." Kevin smiled, "And I think you already know..."


Xander half turned to see a woman in black leather, draped with weapons, reach out and grab him. He half thought about defending himself, but before the thought really entered his mind she'd kissed him on both cheeks and then a hard one on the mouth. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"Uh... Your welcome?" Xander sputtered out in shock. "For what?"

Lucinda Scott set him down, smiling widely at him. "You got me my big break! Do you know how long I'd been giving lessons to airheads?"

"I did what?" Xander frowned, racking his brain. "I don't remember..."

"You told me to, and I quote," Hercules grinned, "Put her in black leather and drape weapons over her... then tell her to look scary and she'd scare the pants off half the viewers... and then I believe you hinted that she'd charm the pants off the rest of them. Turns out you were right. The producers liked her, and she manages to pull of the intimidation factor that Xena had going."

Xander reddened at that memory, "Oh. Yeah... I vaguely remember saying something about that."

"Well, I'm glad you did." Lucinda beamed at him, making Xander even more uncomfortable as he didn't think he'd ever seen Trinity smile, let alone 'beam'. It was unnerving.

"Uh... well, you're welcome. Again." Xander forced a smile. "How's Rollie anyway?"

"Oh he's great... still making movies..." Lucinda smiled, "Still the best in the business."

"He is that." Kevin nodded, "We've got three episodes of Hercules and eight of the new Xena show being done by Tyler FX."

Xander nodded, "that's cool."

"Right." Then Hercules grinned, "Now... I have this favor I need you to help me with..."

Xander groaned.

"Herc..." Xander gritted out. "This is NOT funny."

A statement which, Xander noted, was directly countered by the snickers aimed his way by various people around the area, including Herc himself, Jack, and Lucinda.

"You look great."

"I feel like a refuge from a porn film." Xander muttered, adjusting a leather strap that was riding up on him.

"You look fine." Lucinda assured him, "and before you make any cracks like that, I ask that you remember what *I* have to wear."

Xander glanced over as he shifted in the hot leather and sighed. "Yeah, but you wanted this job. I just keep dragged in by the big guy over there."

"He does do that a lot doesn't he?" Lucinda grinned.

"Too damn much." Xander muttered.

"Ahem." Herc interrupted. "Are you ready?"

"What? Oh, yeah... sure." Xander nodded. "Let's do this."

"Come on then... just like we discussed." Hercules smiled.

Xander looked around the set, "You're sure I don't have to say anything?"

"Not a word. You're just a stand in for the actor who plays Strife..." Herc assured him. "You're about the right build now... and the insurance company won't let me belt *him* around like a rubber ball."

Xander snarled at him, but reluctantly stepped out into the mack setup of a cliff face. "Ok... what now?"

"Ok. What just happened was Strife popped in, insulted me while trying to keep me distracted for Ares... got that?" Herc asked.

"Insulted you. Yeah. I'm on that wavelength right now."

"Very funny." Herc smirked at him, "Now I figured out that he was just a distraction and now I'm looking to go catch Ares... but Strife was told not to let that happen. Ok?"


"Ok, so basically it's just a sparring match... but let's make it look good. K?"

"Got it." Xander nodded miserably, then looked up. "Hey... if I'm a God, why don't I just zap you??"

"We've already done those sequences... We don't need a stand in to show computer effects." Hercules told him. "This is after that, I've gotten close enough to force a fight... and remember, I still have Zeus' countenance."

Xander nodded, "Alright... fine. Let's go then."

Herc grinned. "You asked for it."

Xander looked up in time for his eyes to widen in shock as the Demi-God's big fist came straight at him. "Holy Sh!"

He dropped, barely getting clear of the attack as the fist whistled by over his head. He landed on his back, already pumping his legs up and into a powerful kip that brought him back to his feet as Hercules pulled back for another strike.

The powerhouse swing came from the left, and Xander blocked it with his forearm, wincing under the pressure of the hit but realizing instantly how much the big guy was holding back. He smirked, ducked under a strong right, and jabbed his left fist into the demi-god's gut.

Xander didn't feel the need to hold back.


Herc winced, a little breath of air being forced from his lungs. He stepped back, "Nice moves. You're getting better."

Xander didn't know if he was talking to him, or to the imaginary Strife, but he grinned in response. "Had some practice."

"I'm sure." Herc grunted as he charged forward, swinging hard and fast.

The powerful right caught Xander hard along the shoulder and jaw, and through him back into a styrofoam 'cliff' face behind him. Chunks of foam broke off, falling all around as he slid to the ground and to his knees. He winced, spitting out a bit of blood from where he'd cut his cheek on a tooth. "Nice shot."

"Thanks," The demi-God smiled cheerfully. "I've been practicing too."

"I can tell." Xander said as he surged to his feet and slammed into the demi-God, a huge grin on his own face.

"Whoa..." The director said as he turned back to the fight, watching Hercules go flying into a 'boulder'. "You guys are getting really good at hiding those wires..."

"Uhh..." One of the slack jawed technicians nearby lifted a harness and wire up to the directors vision. "We... didn't get them hooked up..."

The director sprayed his coffee across the floor as he did a fast take to the tech, then back to the fight raging on the set. "What!?"

The tech shrugged helplessly as the Director watched his Star get punched through a wall from twenty feet away.

Hercules smiled grimly as he crawled back through the hole he had made in the 'solid' stone wall. He tossed on of the big foam boulders aside like... well like a big foam boulder, and advanced on Xander menacingly.

<Uh oh.> Xander gulped, backing away. <Maybe that last one was a bit much??>

<I don't know,> Elan snarked sarcastically, <Do you really suppose throwing a demi-god through a wall is a bit much?>

Xander didn't have time to answer as he dodged first one punch, then another, and another, unable to do more then just avoid getting hit as Hercules pushed forward. "Hey... Uh... Big... Guy! Let's... calm down... just a bit!?"

"What's the matter, Strife?" Hercules said, still smiling. "Can't take the heat?"

Xander relaxed marginally. At least Herc was still just playing the role, THAT he could handle. He snapped his arm up, blocking the next punch, then countered with a left across Herc's jaw.

That accomplished exactly nothing.

"Uh... OHH!" Xander screamed as the big guy picked him up bodily and threw him across the set.

"AHHHHHHH!!" Xander howled as he flew, striking the 'cliff' himself and bouncing down to the soft 'dirt' at it's base. He shook his head to clear it as he heard steps approaching fast.

"Whoa." Jason Gibbons muttered, glancing back to the Director. "I don't have to do that do I?"

The director didn't respond, but he felt a warm embrace wrap around him from behind. "It's not really as hard as it looks, Jason."

The actor smiled and caught the arm of his girlfriend and pulled her around to his front as he grinned down at her, "Oh? And how would you know, Alex? You holding out on me?"

"Me?" She flushed slightly, "Of course not... I was just... reading... yeah, that's it."

Jason laughed, pulling her up as he looked back to the fight being staged for the show and shook his head. "That looks like it hurt."

Alex nodded, "Yeah.... these guys are real good. Who's the small guy?"

"A friend of Kevin's." Jason answered. "Just met him today... Xander something I guess."

"He's pretty good." Alex allowed, noting that the fight actually looked pretty real.

Xander felt himself hit the ground again and groaned, starting to push himself to his feet until he heard the director scream 'CUT!'. He just let go and slumped back down to the floor and lay there for a bit while he watched Hercules approach.

"You alright?"

Xander scowled at him, "Oh yeah. I just pounded into Jelly, but other then that I'm just peachy."

"Good." Herc grinned, "We'll review the footage and see if we need another take."


The demi-God just laughed at him as he groaningly pushed himself to his feet. "Lousy stinking Greek..."

Whatever else he had to say was lost in a series of muttered words that sounded vaguely like curses and oaths from a dozen languages.

Three takes later, the scene was finally shot from enough angles that the director was happy, Herc was happy, the crew was happy, and Xander was feeling like he'd just gone one on one with a demi-god.

Most likely because he had.

"You look like hell." Lucinda smiled sympathetically at him.

"I feel like I just told Hercules that his momma wears combat boots." Xander joked feebly.

"Close enough," Jason said, walking up and reading the script.

"What?" Xander grabbed the script, looking it over. "Well... that explains why he was pissed."

"Yeah. Some of those Demi-Gods can be SO sensitive about their parentage," Jason joked with an easy smile.

Xander hid some of his smile, finding the double meaning to the jokes amusing. He passed the script back to Jason, "Thanks."

"No prob... Oh, hey... this is Alex, my ladyfriend..." Jason smiled.

Xander turned his attention to the very pretty asian woman standing beside the actor, "Hi. Xander."

"Alex." She said, extending her hand to him.

He took it lightly and they shook, "Nice to meet you."

She nodded, "You too."

Xander was about to say more, when Hercules called out. "Hey Xander... You better check on Jack... he's bothering the Amazons!"

"Oh shit!" Xander turned and sprinted away. "Sorry. Talk later!"

Later, after he had extricated Jack Styles from a mass of scantily clad females, A mission slightly more difficult then, say, hunting down a marauding hell god, Xander had pushed his luck again by leaving the man to watch the filming of a scene involving Autolycus. Oddly, Xander smirked, the revolutionary spy found that subject riveting.

"Hey Xander," Herc grinned. "You get Jack squared away?"

Xander grinned in return and nodded, "He seems fascinated with the King of Thieves..."

"Funny that." Herc said, grinning widely. "I've got to clean up a script problem... if you want to wait in my trailer we can go over some of the stuff I've had my people working on."

"Sure." Xander nodded, heading for the trailer.

Hercules turned back to his script doctor and was hashing out some trouble when, a few minutes later, he heard a horrifying scream from his trailer. "Xander!?"

"Xander!" Herc ran full tilt into the trailer, only to find Xander clutching at his chest and leaning against the wall as he panted in what was perhaps sheer terror. "What happened??"

Xander panted, still clutching his chest as he let himself fall into the couch. Finally he pointed down to the end of the trailer where Hercules spotted a scantily clad blonde in a similar state of distress. He stared in shock, "'Dite?"

The Goddess moaned, fanning herself as she leaned against a counter.

"What the hell happened in here?"

"I... I.." Xander panted out, "Then... she... she..."

At the other end of the trailer Aphrodite got herself under control first, "I just popped in to say hi to you, lil bro. Then this guy screams... so I screamed... and then HE screamed again..."

"Where in the HELL did she come from!?" Xander managed to blurt out, managing to get his breath. "Christ! I just turned around and she was less then two inches from my face!"

Herc glared at his sister. "'Dite!"

"Well, he wasn't supposed to SEE ME!" The Goddess said defensively. "And besides, the nerve! It's not like I'm ugly or anything..."

She paused, frowning. "Right?!"

"Right." Herc muttered under his breath. "God, Aphrodite... You can't just go breathing down someone's neck like that..."

"Why not? It's not like humans can see me..."

"That's beside the point!" Herc muttered in exasperation. "And this one DID see you."

"Hey... Yeah," She frowned, putting her hands on her hips and glaring at Xander. "What's the big idea with that!?"

Xander's eyes widened, "Excuse me??"

"You." She strode over and shoved a finger in his chest. "Aren't supposed to see me!"

Xander looked to Herc for help, but he just shrugged. "Hey, I'm not getting involved in this. It's your problem."

"Gee Thanks." Xander muttered. "Look Lady, I don't know who the hell you are but..."

"I'm Aphrodite!" She snapped, straightening up, tilting her head toward Herc. "His sister."

Xander's jaw opened, then refused to close. He stared for about a minute before she got tired of it and frowned at him, "Don't even think it."

Xander shook his head, "Aphrodite? THE Aphrodite?"

"You know more then one?"

Xander looked at Hercules, who just shrugged and nodded.

Xander blinked, then frowned. "Geeze, Herc... You couldn't have gotten a prettier actress to play her?"


Instant switcharoo, and suddenly Xander found the Goddess giggling and cuddling up beside him. "See, lil bro? I TOLD you that girl wasn't good enough."

"For the LAST time, she was Miss America! What else do you want??" Hercules threw up his hands in disgust. Then HE glared at Xander, "You just HAD to get her started on this, didn't you?"

Xander shrugged, smirking back. "Don't blame me. It's not *my* problem."

Hercules groaned as his Sister got up off the couch and started into him *again*.

Xander sat back and grinned.

By the time that argument was done, or rather put off for another time, Xander was nicely relaxed and on the way to healing the aches and pains he'd gotten from the sparring earlier.

"So... how come the cutey here could see me anyway?" 'Dite pouted. "I must be losing my touch..."

"I doubt that's possible." Herc smiled at her, shrugging. "It's probably because of who he is."

She looked at him, frowning. "What? I don't see anything special..."

"Can I tell her?" Herc asked, "She'll probably follow you around until she finds out anyway... really, I'm surprised that she doesn't already know."

Aphrodite pouted again, "What? It's not like I spend much time in this Dimension anymore... It's so DULL ever since the industrial revolution."

Xander blinked.

Hercules sighed, "Don't ask. Can I?"

Xander shook his head, "I trust you, Herc..."

Hercules nodded, "'Dite... Promise me you won't tell Ares."

"But... but..." She whined.

"Promise me." Herc said firmly.

"Oh, alright." She sighed, "Maybe I should just follow him around for a while."


"I said alright!"

"Ok... You remember about ten thousand years ago?" Hercules prompted.

"Sure I do. I'm not getting senile, lil bro... Ohhhh... you're talking about the Atlanteans... How are they anyway? Anyone find out they've still got part of their city yet?" Aphrodite asked, smiling.

"Yeah, actually." Xander replied. "I did."

"Good for you, cutey." 'Dite grinned, "Now... what does this have to do with him seeing me?"

"You remember the Knights that protected them?"

'Dite grimaced, still a surprisingly alluring look on her face, "Oh, Them. Talk about a bunch of no fun prudes..."

<WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PRUDE!?> Elanthielle suddenly blasted through Xander's head.

"ARRGH!" Xander doubled over, holding his head in shock.

"Who said that!?" Aphrodite snapped around fast, looking around her for the disembodied voice.

<I DID YOU PAIN IN THE ASS CREATOR WANNABE!> Elan was still roaring and Xander was rolling in pain from the screams. <I REMEMBER YOU! YOU KEPT CASTING LOVE SPELLS OVER ENTIRE TOWNS!>

"God dammit, Elan!" Xander groaned, "A little quieter, please!"

"Elan?" Aphrodite perked up, looking at Xander with interest. "Elanthielle?"

<Yes.> Elan replied, a little quieter.

The Goddess smiled gleefully, "Oh, it's so good to see you... well, not SEE see you, but you know what I mean."

<That's not what you said a few seconds ago.>

"Oh, Pshaw..." The Goddess brushed that off, "You *know* I wasn't talking about YOU. But Cal was SUCH a stick in the mud."

"Uh... Cal?" Herc frowned, looking around. "And Who are you talking too?"

Xander groaned through his migraine. "She's talking to the pain in the brain I've got ripping through my head right now."

"Uh... right."

"So *that's* how he saw me..." Aphrodite clapped gleefully, "My god, how long have you been back?"

<Two years by my chronology.>

"Oh? What happened? You simply MUST be ecstatic to be back..."

Xander groaned. "Oh God. Girl talk and I can't even run away!"

Hercules, piecing things together, grinned. "Luckily... I can. I'll see you later."

"Traitor!" Xander yelled after the demi-god as he ducked out of the trailer.

"So, tell me Lanthi, how HAVE things been going since you got back? I really need to start checking on this plane more often..."

Xander groaned.

"Oh hush you."

<Thank you, Aphrodite.> Elan said smugly, <It hasn't been too bad... though you understand the pain of being stuck with an undertrained bearer...>

Xander scowled.

"Oh, it MUST be horrible... Why, I'm surprised that he even saw me! Isn't enhanced perception a fourth year course?" 'Dite asked. "And you, cuty, stop that! You'll wind up all wrinkly..."

<Well... yes...> Elan said, suddenly in a grudging tone. <But still...>

"Oh, of course... I mean, I bet he hasn't even learned to work in the dreaming yet..."

<Actually...> Elan muttered, then tried to change the topic, <Enough about that... How have you been?>

"Hey now, wait a second... I want to hear more about this..." Xander tried, but 'Dite was already distracted.

"Oh, fabulous... hey, Goddess of love here!" She grinned.


"Of course. Why... what have you heard?" 'Dite frowned suddenly.

<Nothing...> Elan started to say.

'Dite cut her off. "You heard didn't you... You know..."

"Know what?" Xander asked, interested despite himself.

<Alexander...> Elan tried, recognizing the symptoms, <Don't...>

Too Late.

"He's CHEATING on me!" 'Dite suddenly sobbed onto Xander shoulder as Xander sat there, completely shocked and not having a CLUE what was going on.

"Huh?" He managed to blurt as she grabbed at his shirt and wailed again.

<Hephaestus.> Elan said dryly. <Don't worry... they do this every century or so. And 'Dite, you really have no right to complain... When was the last time you had an... extracurricular relation?>

The Goddess sniffed, dabbing her tears off on Xander's collar. "Well... There was that guy in Germany during the war... But he was SO cute."

"Ah..." Xander started.

"Then I guess there was that guy in New Zealand..." The Goddess shrugged, "But it wasn't my fault... I swear! And... well, I had a little fling with a couple in Holland... But it was no big deal!"


"Hey, I *am* the Goddess of Love!" She said defensively before Xander could say much.

<Exactly. So you should know that he loves you, 'Dite.> Elan said, not unkindly. <Let him have his fun too... you know who he's coming back to.>

She sniffed again, this time dabbing her nose on Xander shirt, and nodded. "Thanks Lanthi... I needed that..."

<God I have got to get out of here.> Xander thought desperately.

"Oh no you don't. You go nowhere until Lanthi and I are done." 'Dite practically snarled as she locked onto his arm and curled up beside him on the couch. "We have SOO much to talk about... and then maybe I can do a makeover on you..."

Xander stiffened, sitting up straight, "Here now, wait one damned second!"

<He *does* need it.> Elan added, <The last time he looked presentable, he was dressed by this man named Jarod... Surprisingly good taste for a man, I should add.>

Xander groaned.

"Well since we can't do Lanthi over, you'll just have to do..." 'Dite suddenly grinned, scruffing Xander's hair. "I bet he's still pretty lucky with the ladies..."

Xander's groan was totally lost in Elanthielle's laughter.

"Hey, Kevin..."

"Hey Jack," Herc smiled as he say the familiar figure approach. "How's it going?"

"This place is great." Jack grinned, "But I was wondering... Where's Xander?"

"In my trailer." Herc nodded over his shoulder.

"Ok, I'll go check on..." Jack stopped cold as Herc's big hand slapped into his chest.

"You don't want to go in there." Herc said with a grin.

"Huh? Why not?" Jack asked, glancing toward the trailer.

Herc grinned, "You ever been in a room when two women meet each other for the first time in years?"

Jack paled. "In there?"

Herc nodded.

"And you left Xander alone with them??"

Herc nodded, grinning.

"That's inhuman."

Herc shrugged, "He deserved it."

"What did he do?" Jack asked in consternation. "You're never supposed to leave a guy in a situation like that..."

"He tried to pass on of them off on me." Herc said, grinning. "It would have worked too , except he has a... handicap in the area."

Jack paused, still looking toward the trailer uncertainly. "Turnabout?"


"Ok... well, that's allowed." Jack decided, grinning. "Poor bastard."

"You have no idea." Herc grinned, clapping the spy on the back. "Come on... he'll be stuck for *hours*... let's get you some new clothes, then we'll get some huge burgers for lunch."

"I... well I haven't got much money..." Jack said, thinking of the few hundred dollars he'd borrowed from Xander.

"Don't worry. It's on me." Herc grinned, "Come on."

Jack frowned, hesitating, but an audible groan from the trailer settled the decision. "Lead on."


<Completely ignored her.> Elan said while sighing, <Didn't even notice the invitation.>

"Come on! It was barely a HINT!"

"Hush you." Aphrodite rapped him on the nose.

"Ow!" Xander covered his nose with his hand. "What was that for!?"

"Never... EVER... ignore a lady." 'Dite said in deadly earnest. "It's not polite."

"And rapping a guy on the nose is!?"

"Hush you." Smack.


"How DO you put up with him, Lanthi?" The Goddess of Love asked, shaking her head.

<Oh, he's not so bad...> Elan replied grudgingly. <Just a little oblivious for my taste. He's also disturbingly prudish for a male...>

"No!" 'Dite was shocked.

<Luckily he's been involved with some very sensible women. So things haven't gotten TO bad.>

"Of all the luck... That YOU would get such a bearer... it's a crime, Lanthi... Why, I remember when you and Robin got bored at that Congregation..."

<We don't have to get into that right now...> Elan said hastily.

"Oh no, this is just getting interesting..." Xander perked up.

"Hush you."



Xander opened his eyes to see Aphrodite waving a finger in his face, "Never ask a lady to talk about old boyfriends. It's rude."



Xander quickly brought his hand up to defend against a smack, but apparently his crime didn't warrant one.

<Oh, but you should have seen this one time...> Elan crowed suddenly, <This witch he knows cast a love spell... and the foolish little child called on Innanna!>

"What!? Why!?" 'Dite was scandalized. "Why here? It's like I never existed... No one ever calls on me anymore..."

<Oh 'Dite, she was a Wicca... you know how *they* are.>

"Eh." Aphrodite shrugged, "One of those..."

"Huh?" Xander blinked.

"Never mind." Aphrodite said quickly, "So what happened? If I know that old crone, she did a real number on the Wicca..."

<You should have seen it!> Elan crowed, <What an orgy....>

"Hey!" Xander snapped, "Come on! This is MY private life..."

"Hush you."

Again Xander moved to guard himself, but apparently his crime still wasn't enough for a smack.

"So... what happened?" 'Dite grinned.

<Imagine... Two Slayers, and one of the Charmed Ones.> Elan practically cackled. <Lord, if it wasn't for the spell he would have been *dead* by morning.>

'Dite broke out laughing, falling back in the couch and lounging comfortable as she laughed at the ceiling.

Xander just groaned.

Hercules and Jack Styles slowly poked their heads back into herc's trailer just after they'd returned, slowly looking around the area.

"You're safe." Xander muttered in disgust. "She left twenty minutes ago."

"Great." Herc grinned, coming in with Jack in tow.

Xander scowled up at him, "You tell your sister to stay OUT of my love life."

Herc grinned at him, "Hey. It's what she does."

Xander growled unintelligibly, and threw a pillow at the Demi-God. Herc caught it easily and set it down gently on his chair, patted it, then sat on it. "Thanks. This chair is SO stiff."

Jack Styles grinned, "So... Had some fun with the girls, did you?"

Xander muttered something under his breath, then shook his head. "Hey Kev, What's the news on the liquidating?"

Hercules shrugged, "Auctions have brought in about thirty million in cash... plus I've managed to shift another twenty from the bullion... Snapped about twenty five percent of the gross into some safe investments, kept twenty five million in your account, the way you wanted. The rest I've passed over to that holding corporation you had my lawyer setup to pay your people."

"Thanks." Xander nodded.

"No problem. I've had a long time to practice this sort of thing." Herc grinned.

"I bet." Xander muttered, "Practice running out on your friends too?"

"Only when things get *really* bad." Her grinned. "Hey, Hell Gods, Goa'uld, and demons... I'm there for you. Gossiping women? Sorry. That's above and beyond."

Jack gave Herc an odd look, but didn't say anything as Xander got up.

"Thanks. I think." Xander smirked, "Next time you need a body double for someone... call someone else."

Herc shrugged, "Oh, I think you'll need another favor soon enough."

Xander shook his head, "if I see this set on *TV* it'll be to soon."

"I'm hurt. I thought everyone wanted to be a star."

"We don't all have egos as big as our biceps." Xander grinned, tapping Herc's arm.

Hercules twisted his lips as he smiled crookedly. "Hilarious."

"I thought so. How about you, Jack?"

Styles shrugged, "Nine of out ten."

"See?" Xander grinned, "Haven't lost my touch."

"I wasn't aware you ever had a touch." Herc responded, grinning.

"Ooo. Score for the big guy."

Xander shot Styles a scowl, "You stay out of this."

Styles grinned and shrugged, "What can I say? I'm a spy. I observe, evalute, and report... it's what I do."

"Funny." Xander rolled his eyes and nodded at Herc. "Hey. Thanks for the help."

"Anytime." Herc said seriously.

The two of them struck each other's fists lightly and Xander nodded, "Alright. I've got to get going... need to check with some people before I head out of town."

"Take care, Xan." Herc nodded. "I'll see you around."

"You know." Xander grinned, "You coming Jack?"

"Sure. What else am I going to do?" Styles shrugged. "Lead the way."

Xander's first stop was Andy's hole in the wall shop.

"Oh. It's you." Andy grimaced as he showed up, "Who's your friend?"

"Jack Styles." Xander said, "Jack, this is Andrezj Konzaki."

"Call me Andy." The Immortal Gunsmith said, hobbling around a counter. "Everyone does."

"Nice to meet you." Jack said, looking around. "Nice place."

"Thanks." Andy said, pulling a cherry oak case from under the counter and slapping it on the counter. "Here's the new Eagle, Kid."

Xander nodded, walking over and flipping the case open. He raised an eyebrow, "Black?"

Andy shrugged, "It's what I had in stock at the time. Didn't think you'd mind."

"No, no problem." Xander pulled the gun out and hefted it empty. "It's a little heavier then the old one."

"The magnaports are new." Andy explained. "They'll hold it's muzzle down better if you have to fire off a few rounds quickly. Also, I've toned the recoil springs up a lot, and buffered them with a new synthetic fiber that partially liquefies to absorb energy. It should kick a lot less."

Xander nodded, "Impressive. Still in .44?"

"Yeah. That's the best compromise between stopping power and recoil." Andy said simply. "You still have the ammo from the old one, I assume."

"Yeah. Full load out of silvertips, hollowpoints, and your magnesium flares." Xander confirmed. "This looks great, Andy... Thanks."

"Don't thank me until you see your bill for the rush job." The Immortal smirked slightly, then frowned as he glanced over to Jack. "Excuse me, can I help you?"

Jack looked over from where he was staring at a display case, "Sorry... I was just looking at your selection."

Andy frowned, "Those aren't for sale. That's my private collection... You'd have to be suicidal to take those old babies into combat now."

Jack frowned, looking again at the collection of weapons that he would have considered to be the most modern available, and a few that looked impossibly advanced. He sighed, admitting again that he was incredibly out of date. "I guess so."

"What's wrong with him?"

"Future shock." Xander said, ignoring Andy's odd look as he walked over. "Come on, Jack... let's kit you out with something a little more contemporary."

"I don't need a gun, Xander." Jack sighed, "It's not like I'll ever get back on the job."

"Where we're going? You need a gun." Xander said simply. "Hey Andy, what would you suggest for someone just getting started with modern weapons?"

Konzaki thought about it for a bit, hemming and hawing slightly. "Come on back..."

The Immortal gunsmith led the two of them into a back room, closing the sound proofed door after checking to be certain that the front room security was on. Inside they found themselves on an indoor range.

"Let's see..." Andy frowned, looking over some of the test weapons he kept in the back. "Something simple... reliable..."

The Immortal pulled out a pistol and flipped it up casually, easily catching it in one hand while he slapped a clip in with the other. "Try this. Glock 18... 9mm, 19 rounds with the extended clip. Good gun."

The Immortal slapped it into Jack's hand and pointed down range.

"Pull the slide back," He coached, "That chambers a round. Then aim, and squeeze..."

Jack followed directions, pulling the slide back awkwardly and pointing the gun downrange. He squeezed slowly, the pistol roar catching him slightly by surprise because the pressure needed to trigger the round was more then he'd expected.

"Whoa..." He blinked, smelling a familiar yet vastly different smell as the roar died down.

"Ok... not bad. Again."

Jack nodded and racked the slide again.

Andy caught the bullet in mid air, scowling at his 'pupil', "Hey. What the hell are you doing? It's an automatic. You don't have to pull the slide back after the first time. Each shot automatically loads the next."

"Sorry." Jack frowned, aiming downrange again.


He paused.




Blam. Blam. Blam.

Over and over again the little gun roared as Jack corrected his aim between shots and fired again. He kept firing until the clip emptied and the slide locked back. "Did I break it?"

Andy shot him an odd look, but shook his head. "It's just empty. Nineteen shots, remember?"


Andy tossed him another clip, "Hit the switch there by your thumb... yeah, that's it..."

Jack did as he was told and the clip slid out and fell to the floor before Jack could catch it.

"Don't worry about that. Put the fresh one in, and cock it again."

Xander watched from the back of the room, letting Andy run the handling course while he just watched Jack's reactions.

The revolutionary was careful with the gun. Maybe excessively so, in Xander's opinion, but that was understandable he supposed. A black powder pistol probably required very different skills across the board then this. Xander idly wondered what Andy would think of Jack's pistol if it hadn't been nuked back on the island.

After a long while, Andy was satisfied. "Not bad. You learn quick, Styles. How's it feel?"

Jack nodded his head as he considered. "Nice..."

Andy shrugged, glancing at Xander who nodded and gestured to the other weapons. The Immortal nodded and took the Glock back. "Let's try you out on some others and see how they fit."

Xander left Jack in Andy's capable hands and slipped out into the main store to use his phone.

"Jacks? Xander. How's it going? Our girls good? Yeah... well, that's to be expected. Dawn forgive you yet? Well tell her I said to cut it out. The end of the world comes first... Yeah, I know... one of us should have been there... But what could we do? Ok, so they're moving the Sunnydale on schedule? Good. No, I'm back in L.A. I'm heading up to Sunnydale tomorrow to get things ready... Ok, take care. I'll see you. Bye."

He closed the phone down and sighed, shaking his head. All the resources he had at his disposal, and he still hadn't been there for Buffy when she went through the pressures of being called. It wasn't right, not right at all.

After a moment he flipped the phone back open and dialed another number from memory. "Sunnydale Realtors? Hi, this is Xander Harris... I'm calling to check on my purchases. Yes, I'll hold."

"Went with the Glock?" Xander asked approvingly.

Jack nodded, carefully unloading the Glock and clearing the pipe. "Andy said it's a good gun."

"It is." Xander replied, "but Andy would know better then me."

"Damn right I would, Jr." Konzaki smirked as he emerged from the back room. "You want the 17 added to your account?"

"Do that." Xander nodded, "And give him a box of regular 9 mil, a half dozen clips, and a box of silvertips."

"You got it." Andy said easily, pulling the ammo out of his supply and dropping it on the counter. "Anything else?"

Xander shook his head, "No thanks. Hey, I'm moving into some semi-permanent digs a couple hours away. Little town called Sunnydale... I'll get you the contact info as soon as I set up."

"Gotcha. Settling down are ya?" Andy grinned, "Paige change her mind?"

Xander grimaned, "Haven't talked to Paige in a while..."

"Ow, sorry."

"No problem. Look, I've got to go... have some stuff to do." Xander said, "I'll see ya."

"Yeah, sure... oh hey!" Andy called out, "Styles IS going to get a permit, right??"

"Don't worry, Andy." Xander grinned, "I'll set him up and make sure he knows how to handle the gun."

"You better!"

"Permit?" Jack frowned as they got back into KARR. "Permit for what?"

"A carry permit for the gun."

"I need a *permit* for a gun!?" Jack asked in shock. "What the hell for?"

Xander looked over at him oddly for a second, before his brain caught up to him. "Sorry, I forgot for a second. Look, you need a permit to have a gun now a days... And the Government especially frowns on people *walking* around armed."

"Why!?" Jack asked, disturbed. "My name may not be on it, but I WAS there when the constitution was signed... and I'm pretty damned sure that there's something about the right to bear arms in there somewhere."

Xander blinked, shaking his head to clear it. "Yeah... I guess. Look, gun control laws were passed years ago. You've got people's special interest groups pushing for more control on one side, less on the other... Whenever some big issue hits the papers, one group or another jumps on it and uses it to make politicians pass laws... Crime and accidental deaths started the gun control ball rolling I guess."

"Accidental death?" Jack frowned, "That happens enough to make laws about it??"

Xander shrugged, "One kid shoots himself and it's national news. The right group of people can squeeze that for a lot of political leverage. Hey, KARR, you mind if I drive?"

The car rumbled, but shifted to manual control and let Xander pull out of the lot.

"Let me get this straight... There are people out there who sit around waiting for some idiot kid to shot themselves so they can use the tragedy for their own ends?" Jack asked slowly.

Xander shrugged.

"Great. We've become the British." Jack muttered in disgust.

Xander blinked and looked over at Styles in confusion, "What!?"

"Nothing. It's just stupid. What kind of stupid rugrat shoots himself anyway??"

Xander shrugged, "Kid's do stupid things... Teenagers showing off with daddy's gun, someone's going to get hurt."

"Hell!" Jack cursed, "I fired my first rifle when I was *four*! I was hunting for the family table by the time I was seven! By the time I was a teenager I was in the militia groups!"

"Time's change, Jack." Xander said, "Most parents don't teach their kids how to treat a gun anymore... and not too many families hunt for food anymore... So accidents happen,"

"And they get blamed on the GUNS?" Jack shook his head, "Looks like stupid laws aren't a British thing afterall."

Xander grinned and shrugged, "I think that any government that's been around long enough is bound to have a lot of stupid laws... Especially a democracy."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Jack snapped, scowling.

"I mean, any time you leave law making up to the 'people', you're simply BOUND to get some screwy laws." Xander laughed. "There are a lot of idiots in the world."

Jack sighed, resting his head on a propped up hand. "If only George and Tommy could see it now."

"It's not that bad." Xander grinned, slapping the revolutionary on the shoulder. "There are thirty million people in this city alone, Jack... Do you really want to see what kind of havoc unrestricted firearms would cause with that many people in this tight a space? Hell, it's bad enough with the restricted and illegal ones."

"I guess." Styles muttered, sounding somewhat depressed.

"Come on, we've got some more people to see." Xander grinned, shaking his head.

"Gun!" Xander grinned as the street leader and he embraced quickly, slapping each other's backs.

"Xander, man. Where you been?" Charles Gunn asked, grinning.

"Here there, around." Xander said, "How's it going here?"

"Not too bad. We've got some progress on the streets..." Gunn replied, "Even cleared a couple neighborhoods. We never seem to get them all, but we've got most of the nests cleared out, and people can walk home at night again."

"Only worrying about human evils, huh?"

"You know it." Gunn replied, sobering up. "Can you believe one of my gang got gunned down last week? He survived three weeks of fighting the fuckin shadows, and got taken out in a random drive by. There ain't no justice."

"Oh, there's Justice, Gunn." Xander promised, "In the end, there's justice."

The two of them nodded at each other for a minute, then Xander shook himself and spoke again. "Hey, This here is Jack Styles. New friend. Jack, this is Charles Gunn..."

Gunn nodded at Styles, not saying anything. Jack nodded, back, "Pleased to meet you."

"Yeah. You too." Gunn said after a bit, "Anyway... I've got a patrol to do... care to join me?"

Xander shrugged, "sure. Jack?"

"Patrol?" Styles asked, confused.

"You'll see. Come on." Xander said. "It'll be good."

A few minutes later found Jack and Xander driving the streets of LA in KARR while they followed Gunn's old modified pickup as it went about it's regular route.

It didn't take long for the gang to pull the truck to the curb and hop out, eyeing an old wreck of a tenement building. Xander pulled in behind them and he and Jack got out and approached. "Load a mag of Silvers Jack."

Styles frowned, but pulled a magazine from his pocket and slid it into the receiver on the Glock, letting it click home. He hesitated for a second, but then racked the slide back too, remembering Andy's comment about the Glock's safety features.

"What's going on?" He asked as he and Xander joined the group.

Gunn glanced back, "Some people went missing here over the last week. We've been checking the buildings one by one, but they've all been clear 'cept this one."

"Nest?" Xander asked.

Gunn shook his head and shrugged. "Don't know. We clear them as fast as we find them now, but the fuckers multiply like rabbits."

Xander nodded, drawing his Five Sevens from under his coat. Around them the gang drew their own weapons, a mishmash mix of UZI's, Ingram's, and various pistols. "Jack, stay behind me... if anything comes at you, aim for the heart. Got that?"

"What the hell is going on here?"

"Vampire hunt." Gunn said matter of factly.

"Vampires." Jack's eyes widened.


Jack frowned, looking around as if he expected someone to be screwing with him. Emilia always made fun of him whenever he talked about monsters. Of course, she had a strange definition of 'monster' anyway. "Oookay."

"Just stay behind me," Xander said, "And remember the thing on the island, Jack, before you start thinking we're crazy."

Jack considered that, then nodded. Kid had a point.

"Let's go." Gunn muttered, and the group started to make their way into the old tenement.

Xander held back slightly, keeping Styles by his side as he followed Gunn's crew into the old tenement. For the moment he was more interested in watching how Gunn and his team worked then rushing in himself, but he kept his guns ready just in case they were needed.

Gunn was at the head of the group, the only member of the team who wasn't using a gun but instead had a large axe in his hands as he swept the doorways clear. Once he'd don that, Simms and Pedro moved in with full size Uzi's that Xander hoped were loaded with silvertips. Anything that moved got a heavy dose of silver poisoning, leaving Xander to hope that there were no hostages, but he had to admit that it was pretty unlikely at any rate.

Four vampires vanished into dust at the first onslaught in the main hall of the decrepit building, their faces etched with surprise as their bodies vanished into dust. The fifth got out a scream of warning before he too was eliminated. The scream itself was probably unneeded, given the godawful chatter of two full size UZI's, but it had a psychological effect on Gunn's crew if nothing else.

"Shit!" Simms cursed, scowling. "Sorry boss."

"Don't sweat it, Simms." Gunn replied, backing up against a wall as he threw open a door. "They probably heard the guns anyway... and if they didn't..."

"If they didn't," Pedro grinned, quickly sweeping the doorway for Gunn, "Then they're Deaf or dead anyway, so fuck it."

"Right the first time." Gunn grinned, spinning from the wall and entering the room after Pedro had given him the all clear.

Xander followed the team into the large foyer, his eyes sweeping the sizable room quickly as he watched Gunn's teams work together with impressive precision. <They've been at this a lot.>

Simms took his three and breeched a door at the far side, throwing himself to one side as the rest of his group covered the door. A vamp made his move then and was met by a chattering blast from the three SMG's, leaving nothing more then a smattering of dust along the floor mere moments later.

Gunn, on the other side, did the same thing, holding his Axe tight to his chest as his fire team covered the door. No movement there, so the black teenager threw himself through the door with the Axe held high.

Jack started to make his way across the floor, but Xander stopped him. "Wait."


Another chattering erupted, then silenced a second later and Xander nodded. "Ok. Go."

The two of them made their way across the room, following Gunn's path. There they found a stairwell that lead downward. Gunn was already leading his team down.

"We'll stay back." Xander said, both for Jack's and Gunn's benefit. "Cover the rear. You're teams are working together well, Gunn."

The young man smiled at him, "thanks."

Then Gunn led his team into the basement.

Later, the tenement cleared, the group emerged from the dark. Two of Gunn's group were injured, neither seriously, and the night was considered pretty much an unqualified success.

Xander paused outside, looking up at the night sky, wishing for a moment that the city's lights didn't wash out the stars. "Looking Good, Chuck."

Charles Gunn shot him a disturbed look, "Chuck?"

Xander shrugged, grinning. "Hey, you've finally earned an annoying nickname from me... welcome to the big leagues."

Gunn snorted, "Thanks. I think."

"Seriously. Good work." Xander nodded, extending his hand.

Gunn looked down at it, then grinned and slapped it rather then shaking it. Then he balled up his fist and punched into Xander's own. "Thanks."

"Still rough, you understand." Xander grinned, "But you're coming along."

"Rough my ass." Simms muttered, scowling as he pushed past them to drop his weapons in the truck.

"Simms," Jaina muttered as she too walked past, "The last thing Xander needs you to do is paint a mental picture of your rough ass."

Xander and Gunn exchanged looks, then shuddered.

"So what are you doing now?" Gunn asked as he watched Xander and Styles pack up what little gear they had.

"Got a two hour drive... Then I'll be home for the first time since... hell since Christmas." Xander said soberly. "I don't know if I'm looking forward to it."

"How come?"

Xander shook his head, "been away a long time... Home's not what it used to be."

"You got family there?"

Xander paused, thinking about Willow and Jessie. Then he considered that Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce were moving in this week as well. And finally he smiled as he thought about Giles, who was renting a rather large apartment that currently housed himself, Tara and Mikki.

"Yeah. I've got Family there." Xander said after a moment.

"That's all you need." Gunn smiled, thinking of Elohna.

"I guess you're right." Xander smiled, "Thanks, man."

"No problem."

The two men clasped hands, then nodded as they separated and Xander slid behind the wheel. "See you, Chuck."

Gunn glared at him briefly, but patted the car's room and nodded. "Adios Harris."

Xander smiled at him, nodded, and then pulled away.

They were leaving L.A. when Xander glanced at his watch and cursed briefly.

"What's up?"

Xander winced, "I forgot to call someone."

Jack raised an eyebrow, but didn't ask.

"KARR, dial Maria would you?" Xander asked.

KARR rumbled slightly, but complied.

A moment later, a tired and blearily annoyed Maria Sanchez answered her phone. "What is it?"

Xander winced, but grinned slightly. "Heya Maria, thought I'd let you know that I'm back."

"Where's my boat!?" Maria came fully awake.

Xander chuckled, "Same place you left it. Kevin's berth at the club. Shipshape and bristol ready... whatever that means."

"She better be." Maria grumbled, "So... where are you?"

"Heading for Sunnydale." Xander replied, "It's been a long night, so we'll catch some sleep when we get there and start getting stuff ready tomorrow. I should have a home berth for you this week..."

"Check." Maria said, "I've got a boat show in Santa Monica this week... I'll come by after that."

"Cool." Xander replied, "Get some sleep then... be well rested for the show."

"Funny," She replied dryly, "I was doing just that until something woke me up."

"Really? Isn't that too bad..." Xander grinned, "I'll see you, Maria."

"You got it, kiddo. Bye."

Welcome to Sunydale.

Xander grimaced as the sign flashed past at a relative speed of nearly two hundred miles an hour. He glanced over to where Jack was practically falling asleep and chuckled softly as he tightened his grip on the armrest and tried to trust the AI that was driving the nimble little vehicle.

Jack was lucky in some ways. He didn't have any preconceptions about cars, and how fast they were *supposed* to go, so it never seemed to occur to him that weaving through traffic at almost four times the speed limit was generally a BAD thing.

Xander took a deep breath and forced himself to relax as he watched his home town appear in the distance.

He checked his watch. <Less then thirty minutes. Damn.>

Aloud he announced, "We're here."

"Here?" Jack opened his eyes, "Where's here?"

They topped a rise and then began to drive down into the small town below. Xander looked over the web of lights that made up his birthplace, and thought of all the people sleeping below. And then of all the evil that was waking beneath them, and his face hardened.

"Home." Xander said finally, "I'm home."



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