Something Old, Something New

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me. If their proper owners had the slightest concept of how valuable their characters really were... I wouldn't have to write this stuff.

Summary: Life is a balancing act when you have as many secrets and jobs as Xander Harris, and sometimes it's pretty hard to see where you're putting your feet. Play it again, Xan.

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.

Chapter 1

Sunnydale Zoo, November 18th, 1996

The figure in black landed solidly on the other side of the large stone wall without the slightest sound, as if even the dry grass refused to betray his presence with a stray crackle, and quickly glided across the dark grounds. He steered himself straight across the dry ground, leaving no footprints as he loped easily toward his target.

Ahead of him a dim light seeping through the cracks of a building allowed him to make out the sign.

Hyena Habitat.

"Damn it!" The man cursed loudly, startling the five animals below him.

He shook his head, waving his hand in a derogatory manner at the Hyena's, and went back to his work.

"I know the circle is drawn properly... So why isn't it working!?" He grumbled, drawing out a large tome that he had been working from.

He didn't hear the sound of someone slipping into the room, and despite the light, never saw the figure until he was right on top of him.

"Ahhhh!" The man screamed in shock, dropping the book as he backpedaled.

The figure in black caught the book easily and glared coldly at the man as he casually flipped through the book.

"You know, If you're really stupid enough to work a ritual like this, I don't have any problems with that. It's your life, and what's left of your mind after all." The man in black shrugged, "But this... this is criminal."

"W... what??"

"Preparing your ritual in a public area." The man said in disgust. "Where anyone might sneak in and become caught in it. That's stupid to the point of criminal incompetence. You want to risk you're life, be my guest. This though..."

The man shook his head and pulled a cylinder from a pouch on his leg, flipping it idly over in his hand until he suddenly slapped it against his leg and the cylinder exploded in a blinding red flame.

<Road flare!> The man thought in between blinking as the man in black dropped the road flare into the crease of the tome, and then slammed the book shut. "What are you doing!! No!!!!"

He rushed forward, but was stopped easily by the man in black as he tried to save his book. "That book is one of a kind!! I need it!!"

"I doubt that." The man said dryly, easily shoving him back. "Let's get one thing straight, here and now."

The zookeeper turned to curse at the man in black, but fell silent as his face turned ashen, when the man in black drew a large mat black pistol and leveled it straight at his face. The zookeeper fell back until his back was against the wall that separated the Hyena pen from the visitors.

"This insanity can end here and now," The man said coldly, "in one of two ways. I can blow your brains out, then feed you to your pets down there... Or you can make a choice. Frankly, I'm pretty much fifty fifty on which I'd prefer."

"Ch... choice??"

"I'm not going to tell you to stop this stupidity of yours. I doubt you'd listen to me anyway..." The man growled. "What I am going to say is this... Don't try ancient rituals in public areas you fucking moron. And for christ sakes, read the fine print on animal possession... I hate people who don't do their research."

"W... what are you talking about??"

The man just shook his head, and waved the gun. "Get out. NOW!"

The zookeeper scrambled to his feet and ran.

The man in black sighed, walking forward to the Hyena pen and he looked down at the five animals in the pen.

Xander Harris pulled the black kevlar balaclava from his head and looked down at the five Hyena's who had stopped their pacing when he approached. They all sat down, and yipped loudly as they looked up at him expectantly.

"Don't look at me like that, boyos." He said softly, "I've got nothing for you tonight."

Then he turned around and glanced at the floor of the visitors station and reached into his pocket, pulling a plastic wrapped satchel of table salt, which he quickly sprinkled over the designs that were sketched on the floor.

With that done, Xander Harris vanished back into the night from which he'd come.

"Fieldtrip!!" Jessie yelled gleefully, wrapping an arm around Jonathon on one side and Willow on the other.

"Yay." Both of them said with little enough enthusiasm.

"Come on guys, what's with you two today??"

Willow shrugged, "Well the computer class was just getting to some interesting..."

"Arrrgh!" Jessie let go of her, holding his heart in pain. "Are you telling me that you *want* to be back in school??"

Willow shrugged and Jonathon slipped out from under his arm, "We don't all major in recess, Jes."

"Ouch. That hurt."

"Truth usually does."

Jessie turned around and scowled as he spotted Xander, Buffy, and Faith approach from behind him. "You stay out of this Bro. Until the pod people stole your body you'd be right with me on this!"

Xander shrugged, "Sure sure."

Jessie glanced over at Buffy, who was looking as dejected as everyone else. "Oh hell, Buffster. Not you too?"

She sighed, "It's well... You know, same old same old. We used to do the Zoo trip all the time in my old school too."

Jessie rolled his eyes, "It's not about the trip!! It's about not being in school!"

Xander smiled, remembering saying something very similar, and beside him Buffy brightened. "Hey. You know, you're right. Suddenly all the animals look all new and stuff."

"That's the spirit!" Jessie fell back, looping an arm around her shoulders and drawing her forward.

Xander and Faith watched them walk on ahead and Faith jabbed him in the ribs. "Ain't that supposed to be you, Boytoy?"

Xander rolled his eyes, "If I'm not interested in sharing my bed with you, Faith, what makes you think that I'm going to be chasing a 16 year old Buffy?"

Faith shrugged, "Don't know. Figured you might want to take a shot at blondy. You know, this time you could probably score."

Xander shuddered. "Don't."


"Just... don't." Xander sighed. "Come on, Faith, let's keep up with the group."

"Sure, X. Whatever you say."

<The more things change.> Xander sighed as he spotted the malevolent little huddle that had formed up ahead of him.

"Hey..." Jessie let go of Buffy, "I'll be right back."

"I'll come..." Buffy said, starting forward as she noted what Jessie was heading toward, but she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder and looked back.

"He can handle it, Buff. No vamps, just some jerks." Xander said seriously.

Buffy sighed and nodded.

"Thanks Bro." Jessie smiled, nodding as he started off.

"Don't be stupid, Jes." Xander snapped, causing Jessie to stop in midstep and glance back. "Jono, go with him."

"Right." Jonathon nodded, moving up beside Jessie.

Jessie glanced at Jon, then nodded back to Xander.

As the two headed off, Willow hesitated, but headed after them. "I... I should help."

Buffy frowned, glancing back at Xander, and blinked when she saw him smile. "What?"

"Those three are coming along fairly well." Xander said with satisfaction. "Even if Jessie is still too much of a cowboy."

Faith snorted, "He think's he's you, boytoy."

"Yeah. And you remember how many times I almost got my ass fragged?" Xander sighed. "I'd rather he try to imitate someone else."

Faith shrugged, not commenting further.

The three of them looked on ahead as Jessie, Jon, and Willow stepped followed Kyle and his cronies into the Hyena cage.

Faith blinked. <Hyena... Holy...> "Xander! Isn't that...!?"

Xander nodded, "Yep."

"And you let them go in there????"

"Yep." Xander smiled slightly. "Relax. Handled it."

Faith relaxed. <Of course he handled it. Xan-man still has nightmares about that place...>

It only took a few moments before Kyle and his group of yes-people came slinking out of the Hyena habitat looking like whipped dogs. Xander eyed them carefully, just to be certain that nothing had happened, but let them go when they all checked out as normal.

They waited calmly outside for a few minutes, until Willow, Jessie, and Jon reemerged with Lance in tow.

"Have fun, guys?" Xander asked wryly as Jessie and Jon exchanged high fives and Willow grinned with a flushed look. "Cool.. Let's go... Maybe the Zebra's are feeling frisky today."

Chapter 2

Xander tiredly tossed his books down as he walked into the room he'd claimed as his 'office' or den and sat down in front of the Pentium 233 computer system that Tara had hooked up for him.

The system beeped as it came online, sending it's data up to the plasma monitor mounted on the wall and a voice came softly out of the speaker system.

"You looked tired, Commander."

"Long day and night."

"I see." Merlin nodded. "What is the status of the Hellmouth?"

"So far so good." Xander said as he leaned back. "I've headed off some of the more... unique problems we might have encountered... Mantis Lady and the Hyena dude were easy at least... and with Buffy and Faith patrolling to limit the random type vamps... all in all things are going smoothly."

"Too smoothly?" Merlin asked with almost a hint of a smile.

Xander snorted, "How should I know? I don't know anything about this time crap. Some things are easy to fix... but hell, with that damned Goa'uld attack we've already seen that some things are already changing for the worse... so who knows?"

"Indeed." Merlin replied. "I have a certain... affinity for the timeline myself, and I doubt I could express it better. Deal with what you can in advance, because things are already altered beyond recognition, and it would be better if those things you can handle are handled before you encounter those thing you can not."

Xander nodded, sighing. "Alright. Anyway... How's the recruiting coming?"

"Slowly." Merlin said, this time grimly. "I have a list of nearly one thousand people who would be appropriate for our needs... but we need several times that at least."

Xander nodded tiredly. "Alright. It's still a start. Shoot me the list and..."

The computer blinked and froze up.

"Damn it." Xander cursed, hitting the keys a couple times and cursing to himself as the computer beeped at him. "Cut this shit out! Damn damn damn damn."

He groaned finally and thumbed the power button, shutting the computer off, and then turned it back on. It whirred, it beeped, and after an interminable moment it came back online. The hardlined connection to the net reconnected, and a moment later Merlin was looking at him again.

"What happened?"

"This hunk of junk locked up again." Xander muttered, "Look... I know you don't have any fixed up yet, but put a priority rush on a portable interface system for me, will you? I'm getting tired of this thing."

Merlin nodded, "When we have the first recruits in place I will instruct them to prepare several for field teams."

"Good." Xander sighed, "Alright. Anyway, shoot me the list... and what about combat personnel?"

"I have approximately ten thousand possible names for us to work from in that category." Merlin replied. "Field troops have more of the... qualifiers we require."

Xander nodded, rubbing his nose. "Alright... Tell you what, shoot me the top one hundred for now."

"Any nationality preference?"

Xander closed his eyes, "Give me Canadians and Americans to start... and any other nationalities that are currently located in this country. I don't have time to start jetsetting right now."

"Confirmed. Will that be all, Commander?"

Xander nodded, "yeah. Thanks Merlin."

"You are welcome, Commander." Merlin nodded his head once, and then faded from the screen.

Xander leaned back, sighing. "Man what a mess."

There was a rap at the door and Xander turned around to see Jack Styles leaning on the door frame. "Hey kid, you're guests are here... and uh, they ain't alone."

"Huh?" Xander got up. He wasn't expecting anyone other then the gang from school.

"Don't ask me, kid. Weird trio too... Snooty old lady, stuck up old fart, and little princess that looks to be following in their shoes."

Xander shook his head, "What??"

"See for yourself." Jack Styles shrugged, waving for the door.

"What is the loser squad doing in a mansion in the rich part of town?"

Jessie looked up and shook his head. <I hate this girl. I hate this girl. I hate this girl. I hate this.... Awwww who the hell am I trying to kid?>

"Oh go check your makeup or something, Cordelia." Buffy growled out, waving the cheerleader off as she shouldered past her into the living room. "We're invited. I doubt you are."

Cordy didn't have much to say to that. She knew that she wasn't invited, not that she wanted to be here anyway. Her parents had finally decided that they'd waited long enough for the mysterious millionaire to announce himself and they wanted her along as part of the 'community welcome wagon.'

<A few months late if you ask me.> She snorted at the thought, the scowled at Buffy. "Oh yeah. And who'd invite you anywhere?"

"I would actually."

Cordelia turned around and blinked in surprise as Xander Harris appeared from another room. He looked straight to her parents who, Cordy was suddenly mortified to notice, were snooping. "Mr Chase, Mrs Chase. Nice to see you again."

"Mr... uh...?" Her father let it draw out, obviously not remembering Xander.

"Harris. Xander Harris." Xander said with a knowing smile. "May I help you?"

"Yes uh... well, we came to welcome to new owners of the Graves mansion to the town... Could we speak with him please?"

"You're looking at him." Xander smiled pleasantly. "My parents won the lotto a while back... The house and a trust fund are my share you could say."


A pin drop could have been heard in the room, that is until Jessie snorted and bust out laughing at the expression on Cordy's face. Cordelia scowled and slapped out at him, but he danced back.

"Missed." He taunted her.

"Why you..." She growled, stepped toward him as he danced away.

Xander watched with amusement for a moment, until a shrill voice cut the air.


Cordy winced guiltily and stopped, "Sorry mom."

"Decorum, young lady. Decorum."

"Yes, mom."

"Ahem." Xander broke the sudden tension, attracting the attention on himself. "How may I help you, Mr Chase?"

"Oh... well..." The man seemed taken aback for a moment before he gathered his wits. "I just... wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood."

"Ah." Xander smiled. "Well, thanks."

"Yes... well..."

"I'll bring us all something to eat." Xander offered, motioning with his hands. "Why don't you take a seat..."

"I... well... we..."

"I insist." Xander smiled, fading back from the living room.

After he was gone, Cordelia felt her mother's glare on her and the older woman stalked over. "You know this young man, Cordelia?"

Cordy nodded. "Yes Mom. He goes to school with me."

"You never told us that he owned this home."

"I didn't know, Mom."

"You should have known." Her mother criticized her sharply. "I thought I taught you better then that."

"Sorry Mom." Cordy sighed, flushing red as the loser squad saw her getting stripped down by her mother. <God I hate it when she gets like this.>

Luckily, Mrs Chase soon lost interest in her daughter and turned to examine the room.

The room was furnished tastefully, and expensively, she noticed. But it did have a noticeable lack of artwork or decorations. All in all it was rather plain by her standards.

Her eyes caught upon the single item that wasn't strictly utilitarian in the room, and that was an ornamental sword on the fireplace.

<Typical.> She clucked to herself. <Give a boy money and he'll ignore things of taste and leave his toys lying around.>

Idly she walked up to the fireplace and looked at the sword. At least it looked old, and she decided it might actually be valuable. It was even quite nice, in it's own savage way, she supposed. She sighed, <Men.>

"Xan doesn't talk much about that."

"What?" Mrs Chase frowned, turning around to see a rather pudgy young man looking up at her with an innocent eagerness.

"The sword." The boy said, "Xander doesn't talk much about it. Jessie keeps trying to play with it whenever he comes over though... I think Xander finds it funny."

"Funny? Why on earth would he find it funny?" Mrs Chase asked, her voice aghast. <Children playing with swords! My goodness...>

Jonathon took down the sword and gave a tug on it. "It won't come out. See?"

Humoring the boy, Mrs Chase gave a limp tug on the sword and hemmed appropriately when it remained in it's sheath. "Well at least he doesn't leave dangerous things lying around..."

"Hey Jon, pass me that!" Jessie grinned, grabbing for the sword.

Jonathon plucked it back, "Jess... Cut that out! Hey! Come on man!"

Jonathon backed away until Jessie maneuvered him over a chair and he tumbled back and lost his grip on the sword. It flipped back, thuding solidly against Buffy's legs.

"Ow! Cut it out you guys! This isn't a toy!" Buffy growled, hefting the sheathed sword and keeping it away from Jessie when he came over.

"Aww... come on, Buffster..."


"Come on..."

"No!" Buffy snapped, passing the blade back away from her. "Here... Hold this."

"Huh?" Cordelia blinked, holding the blade that was shoved into her hands between two fingers. "I don't want it! Ew..."

"Just for a second." Buffy grunted, shoving Jessie down into a chair. "Sit! Stay!"

Cordelia Chase looked at the sword in her hands for a moment, noticing the intricate carving of the blade. "This is nice..."

<Hmmm,> She thought, <It looks like there's more under the sheath...>

She wrapped her hands around the blade and tugged.

"Damn." She shrugged as they blade refused to budge so much as an inch. "It really is stuck."

"Yes, it is." Xander said as he appeared in the room with a silver tray piled high with cofee, tea, drinks, and snacks. He set it carefully on the cofee table and plucked the sword from Cordy's hands, scowling over at Jessie he did. "Luckily. Otherwise I'd be afraid to leave it out here."

Chapter 3

"He seems like a... nice young man, dear. Why haven't you mentioned him before?"

"Mom! Harris is the school loser!" Cordelia retorted, falling back to old habits as she tried to get her mother off the obvious track the woman was currently on.

"His family has money now. That's not the mark of a loser." Her mother shrugged as they drove through the expensive neighborhood back to the Chase mansion.

"They won the lotto!" Cordelia was exasperated enough to be a little desperate.

"Ah, but they did win it, after all." Her mother said victoriously.

Cordelia groaned.

"Maybe you should ask him over to dinner some time?"


"Good riddance."

"Come on, Wills... That's not nice." Jessie grinned, "Why don't you just admit how you really feel about her?"

Willow scowled darkly at Jessie, then shoved him back into the couch. "Pig."


Xander rolled his eyes, but smiled. <Oh God, it's nice to see Jessie growing up into a disgusting teenager.>

Elan laughed in the background of his mind, but Xander didn't let it distract him from his enjoyment of the situation. Jessie was even worse then he'd ever been, and Xander truly pitied Tara if she and Willow ever got together in this timeline.

And then he paused, and smiled again. <And I pity Jessie, cause if he rags too hard on Tara there'll be a line up behind *me* to pound him into the dirt.>

"What are you smiling at?"

Xander started, glancing to one side as he saw Buffy come up beside him. He shrugged and smiled as he took a sip of his herbal tea. "Just thinking about friends and growing up."

"Ah... The philosophical stuff." Buffy nodded knowingly.

Xander suppressed a laugh, and just nodded himself. "Yeah. Something like that."

Buffy's face became serious after a moment and she looked steadily at him, "How do you do it?"

"Do what?"

"You've been fighting demons for a year... right?"

"No." Xander said, leaning back against a wall. "Closer to six years now."

Buffy blinked and looked at him, her eyes wide as her mind tried to comprehend that, "That's... that's not possible."

"Neither are vampires." Xander shrugged, half smiling. "Let's just say that I'm older then I look... or then they think."

Buffy shot a glance over to where Jonothan had waded into what had turned into a cushion fight between Jessie and Willow. "How?"

Xander shook his head, "I'll tell you someday, Buff. Maybe even tomorrow. Who knows? But not right now."

Buffy shook her head, "I just don't get you."

"I know."

She scowled at him. "How do you do it? One year... Six... whatever. How?"

Xander was silent for a long time after she stopped talking, watching her as he considered what to say. After a moment he sighed, "You know... It's hard to answer that question. How do I do it? I just do. This is my life, my choice... I've made my own path to walk, and this is it. Someone I respected a lot once told me that they just wanted to be a normal girl... no powers, no destiny... just a nice house, good husband... maybe some kids. Sound like something you'd like?"

Buffy swallowed, nodding hesitantly. "Yeah..."

Xander smiled sadly at the wistful sound of her voice. "I'll tell you the same thing I told her."

"What was that?"

"The people who have all those things, Buff?" Xander said, softly. "The house? The family? The American dream? You know what they dream of?"

Buffy shook her head, "No... I never thought about it."

"No... You wouldn't... You have your own dream, why wonder about someone elses?" Xander asked rhetorically. "I'll tell you. They dream about having a power. About having a destiny. They dream about being *you*."

Buffy stared at him in shock as Xander pushed himself off the wall and reached out to flick a lock of hair from her eyes.

"Kinda screws with your head, huh?" Xander asked with a wry smile as he turned to walk away.

"Yeah..." Buffy whispered as her mind reeled with the new thought. As Xander started to walk away she wrenched herself back to the present. "Wait..."

Xander paused, looking back. "Yeah?"

"What happened to her?" Buffy asked, "The girl you told this too?"

Xander hesitated, then smiled sadly. "She died... she died saving the world."

Buffy drooped, as Xander stopped and pondered his statement, remembering something that happened a year ago in another state of reality. Finally he shrugged, "Or maybe she didn't. I don't really know... All I know for sure is that... Where ever she is, she's still doing what she always did best."

"What's that?" Buffy looked up.

"Saving people." Xander said with a wistful smile, "Saving people, Buffy. She was always my hero."

Buffy nodded as Xander walked off, thinking about what he'd just said and wondering if she'd be able to answer the question if anyone asked her. His voice brought her back, and she looked up to see him stopped again, and looking at her intently.

"You want to know how I do it, Buff?" Xander said, then waited for her nod. "Friends. It's the only way to stay sane. Friends or family... and I don't have any family, Buffy."

She swallowed, "But... What if they... if they..."

"Die?" Xander asked softly.

Buffy nodded.

"Everyone dies, Buffy." Xander let out a shuddering breath as he thought of Chappy Sinclair, and over two hundred other names on a wall just a few hundred miles away. "Everyone. There are no exceptions to the rule. Not on this planet anyway. If you cut yourself off from people because you're afraid that they'll die... well, they'll die anyway, and you'll be alone."

Buffy shivered, the chill of his cold statement running up and down her spine.

"Besides... If you do cut yourself off from them... How will you ever know when they need you're help?" Xander asked with an odd smile. "That could get them hurt or killed just as easy as anything else..."

Suddenly he sighed, shaking his head. "Look... Buffy, what I'm trying to say is this... We're not Gods. We can't predict the future..."

Xander had to pause as he laughed a bit while saying that. After a moment he straightened up and spoke seriously again. "We can't tell what decision will be good, and what one will be bad. You're thinking that if you get close to someone... to Willow, or Jessie... or someone else in your life... if you do that, you might get them killed... Right?"

Buffy nodded.

"Well, what if you don't get close, and a vampire gets them tomorrow at the Bronze?" Xander asked. "A vampire that you would have staked if you'd been there with them?"

"I... I..." Buffy hesitated, "I don't know."

"Bingo." Xander said thoughtfully. "Neither do I. Cutting yourself off from people will only accomplish one thing... It'll give you a layer of insulation from the guilt, but Buff... we live on the edge of life and death... Guilt is a way of life for us. If you don't deal with it, it'll eat you up inside until there's nothing left in you to give to anyone... and when that happens? You die... and so does everyone you want to protect."

Buffy started to curl up against the wall, hugging herself as Xander words hammered at her despite the softness of their delivery. "I just..."

"Don't want it to hurt anymore." Xander said softly as he walked over to her again. He reached out and pulled her off the wall, wrapping an arm around her as she leaned her head against him. "I know. Neither do I... Neither do I."

"Does it ever go away?" Her voice was small, her mind still being drawn down into the blackness of the discussion.

Xander stopped and thought about the sources of his pain.

He saw the first time he met Buffy, how tongue tied he'd been. He saw Phoebe when she stepped into the shower with him that night that never happened. He saw Chappy Sinclair grinning and rallying the flyers around him in the hanger before the last mission.

"God, I hope not." He said finally. "Because nothing can get close enough to hurt that much unless it brought a lot of good times with it."

"I... I don't understand."

"I know." Xander said, leading Buffy over to a chair and setting her down in it. "I know. But you will... I'm sorry to say it, but you will."

Xander straightened up, glancing fondly over to where the cushion fight was still roaring in full bore. His smile faltered a bit when he thought about the likely future that was in store for everyone in the room, but he fiercely shoved it aside and smiled again. "Let the future take care of itself, Buffy. Let the future take care of itself. Until someone hands you a roadmap to tomorrow, it's not your concern."

He straightened up, shaking his head. <And pray no one ever gives you that roadmap too.>

Xander was smiling at the antics of the three when Faith broke into the room with Tara hot on her heals. The looks on their faces weren't good.

"What is it?" He asked, all thoughts of philosophy and such thrust aside.

"You better turn on CNN, boytoy." Faith said. "You'll want to watch this."

Xander spun around, flipping on the television and turning it over to CNN.

"... returned with a guilty verdict. Once more, Standing President Whitmore has been found guilty on all counts. The impeachment process begun months ago has concluded today when the panel reyrned with a guilty verdict for the former President of the United States. Tomorrow, Whitmore and General Gray, who stood by his side through the entire proceedings, will meet the panel for the final time to hear the final pronouncement. Until a general election can be called, Vice President Kealty will be assuming the duties..."

"Sone of a BITCH!" Xander yelled in anger as he fired the remote across the room where it exploded against the wall.

The room descended into silence as the TV flicked off and everyone stared at him in shock except for Faith a Tara. Xander shook for a moment before turning and stalking out of the room.

Buffy found her voice first. "What was that about?"

"Boytoy don't like people screwing with heros, B." Faith said after a moment. "He takes it real personal..."


"I already know."

"Get me a flight..."

"To Washington, already done."


"I took the liberty of preparing two cards."

Xander nodded. "Good."

Chapter 4

"Whoa." Jessie said in shocked silence as the whirlwind that had been Xander Harris vanished down the driveway, even the movements of the car he was driving echoing the anger he felt. "What the hell was that??"

"I told you." Faith said curtly as she shook her head and watched out over the grounds to the gate that Xander had just ripped past. "X don't like it when people screw with someone he respects. He takes it personal."

"But... The President??" Jessie said helplessly. "I mean, I know he said he worked for the CIA... but come on!"

"Does..." Willow spoke up quietly, "Does Xander *know* President Whitmore?"

Faith shrugged, "He's spoken with him... But I guess it depends on what you mean by 'know'."

"Wait. Wait, wait, wait!" Jessie broke in. "Xan's *spoken* with the president?? As in actual, face to face, speech??"

"Over a video conference deal, yeah." Faith confirmed.

"Wow." Buffy said from the background as she tried to assimilate what she'd just heard. "Why?"

Faith sighed, sitting down. "Look... You guys remember that mess that was all over the news back last spring? The terrorist thing?"

Willow nodded, "Yeah. I had to do a class presentation on it."

"*We* did a presentation on it." Jessie interjected.

"Right. Like *We* did any of the work." Willow said sarcastically.

Jessie smiled lopsidedly, "Guilty."

"Yeah well. You should have gotten an F." Faith said sourly.

"What? Why?" Willow asked, hurt.

"The terrorists?" Faith said leadingly.

"Yeah?" Willow frowned.


"Weren't what?"

"They weren't terrorists." Faith said. "They were something else."

"Like what?" Jonathan asked, frowning. "Vamps? Demons?"

"I wish." Faith snorted. "Look, vamps and demons are nasty and all that... but they're not organized... All it takes to ruin their day is a well timed attack with the right stuff. These... guys... were something else. You've got to understand, the Americans, Chinese, Russians... Hell, even a few Brits, Canadians, Japanese, and Aussies... all of them, were outmatched. I'm talking the entire armed forces of the most powerful countries on the planet..."

"What... what were they?" Buffy asked, moving closer as she listened to the 'younger' girl tell her story. <This is what Jacks was talking about... this is the thing she and Vin vanished to fight.>

Faith hesitated, "Look... You've all seen some weird stuff... but this is another level of weird, K? Just... Just... Just think of them as an army. That'll do for now."

Everyone frowned, but Faith didn't get off on the idea of trying to explain little green men from mars to the group. At least not until Xan was behind her to back her up. "All of those forces... PLUS everything that the X-man could call in... and we still almost got our asses kicked. And let me tell you, Xan called in some big freakin guns."

"Like what?" Jessie asked quizzically, trying to understand how Xander could possibly call in anything that would be considered 'big' compared to the US Air Force.

"Like his own airforce." Faith shrugged, "Like Me and G, and some of the toughest bastards I've ever seen in my life... and I'm no shrinking violet. These guys... and gals were scary. Hell, somehow, we even wound up with an honest to God *dragon* in the middle of the fight... Even X doesn't know how he got there though."

"Dragon?" Willow squeaked.

"Dragon." Faith nodded, "I've seen the flight records... Drake was a wicked lizard, let me tell you. He ripped the bad guys planes apart like toy models. But with all of that... we still lost over two hundred people... some of em were friends... some were friends of friends... some we never knew. Xan wrote down every damn name, and now they're all up on the Wall."

Everyone blinked. They could all hear the capital 'W' in the word wall.

"The Wall?" Buffy asked hesitantly.

"Xan started it..." Faith said soberly, "Then Tare... well she polished it up... That was nice work, by the way, Tare."

Everyone looked over to where Tara blushed and nodded. "T-thanks."

Faith shrugged, "No big. Anyway... The President, he found out a lot of big secrets during that... maybe more then I know... I'm not sure. But you know what?"

"What?" Jon leaned forward, soaking in every word.

"He kept every damned last one of them." Faith said seriously. "Through all this impeachment shit. He kept them. If he wanted to save his ass he could have spilled just a couple... but maybe some people would have died over it, maybe a lot of people... So he kept them."

"Damn." Jonathan leaned back in the chair thinking about it. "I... I didn't think stuff like that happened in real life."

Faith shrugged, "I don't think you were supposed to. If you knew... then he didn't keep the secret, right?"

"I... I guess." Jonathan said, helplessly.

"Xan's been watching this since then... and he's been gettin more and more pissed." Faith concluded. "And now he's gonna go do something."

"Like what?"

"I don't know." Faith admitted, shaking her head. "God help me. I don't know."

Lear Jet, bound for Washington

Xander leaned back into the plush seat and thumbed open the concealed cabinet that housed the plane's on board communication suite. In moments he was connected to Merlin.

"Commander." The Atlantean AI said by way of greeting.

"Merlin." Xander returned. "Thanks for getting the plane and gear together so quickly."

"No thanks necessary, Commander. It was easy to surmise your reaction, considering your interest in the proceedings of the past few months." Merlin replied neutrally.

Xander eyed the AI's avatar on the screen and sighed, "I take it you disagree with me?"

"Not at all Commander. I understand perfectly why you chose to take this course of action... But I fear that I don't know what you can hope to accomplish." Merlin said tactfully.

"I don't know either, Merlin. I just know that I have to do something..." Xander said, "besides... If nothing else..."

He held up a pair of plain white cards, spreading them idly between his fingers.

"Indeed, commander." Merlin nodded. "At the very least."

Xander sighed, "Right. Anyway... How about a little distraction... I don't feel like playing tag while I'm in DC."

Merlin smiled slightly, tilting his head to one side. "I believe that can be arranged."

Section One HQ

"We've got a hit on the Harris search!" Birkoff called out as he rushed through the pit. Three other computer operators instantly moved to confirm the hit, and began to correlate entries of their own.

Within three minutes they had reports from a dozen sources confirming the hit, and the commotion was enough to attract the attention of Operations from where he stood overlooking the pit. "What is it, Seymour?"

"The Harris search, Sir! We've got a confirmed hit."


"Dallas, Sir."

"Prepare a brief."

"Yes Sir."


"Harris was just spotted in Dallas!"

"Confirmed?" Maybourne leaned forward eagerly.

"It's gold Sir. Computers picked him up on a facial recognition sweep of the airport security scanners. He just landed from an international flight and had to present his passport too... It's phony, but the picture matches."

"Get a team together!"

"Yes Sir!"


"What!?" Jack Ryan bellowed, wide eyed. "That's impossible!"

"Why Sir?" The Agent looked puzzled. "The match has been confirmed..."

"I... I..." Jack sighed. "Alright... Send it over to Director Jacobs at the FBI, He'll have to dispatch a... No... wait."

"Wait Sir?" The agent looked puzzled.

"Send it to Director Skinner..." Jack smiled, "Enclose my private notes on the Harris file."

"Uh... Yes Sir."

Jack Ryan smiled as the agent closed his door. <That should keep Skinner jumping for a while. I wonder what those two will make of this case? Now how the hell did anyone spot Xander through that fake photograph??>




"Why are we going to Dallas?"

"That's need to know."

"And I don't!?"

The fat man just smirked.

"Dallas." Darian Fawkes muttered disgustedly. "Great."

Chapter 5

Washington D.C.

Xander stepped off the plane, right into the enclosed hanger the Lear parked in, while the rain pounded down outside.

"Mr Smith?"

He glanced over at the man in the suit and nodded.

The man smiled, "Very good, Sir... I have you're rental car here... If you'd sign this please?"

Xander took the electronic pad from the man and scribbled the pseudonym on the electronic surface as he glanced over at the black Lexus that was sitting in the hanger. "That my car?"

"Yes Sir." The man said, handing Xander a set of keys. "Have a good day."

"Thanks. You too." Xander said, pocketing the keys as he walked down to the car.

"You're case, Sir."

"Thanks, Eric." Xander said to the charter pilot as the man handed him the long case Xander had packed with his weapons. He didn't expect to really need them, but it didn't pay to be stupid about things. "I'll be 24 hours."

"I'll be waiting, Sir." The pilot nodded as he watched Xander get into the car. He tilted his head and smiled slightly as the car pulled out. <Weird kid. Nice guy though... Most of those spoiled brats wouldn't let me know when they were coming back. I wonder if Darlene is free tonight?>

Xander drove through the fairly light Washington traffic, making his way carefully to the court house that was currently hosting the historical event that was transfixing the nations.

The execution of a hero.

Xander's mood was dark as he pulled up to the whitewashed building and he saw the crowd of photographers and news crew people swarmed around the doors. For a long moment he stared as he felt his anger build, and not even Elanthielle could calm it.

"Fuck," He cursed, spinning the key to the off position and yanking it from the ignition. "Fuck."

He got out of the car, slamming the door behind him. The noise and action went completely unnoticed in the huge crowd as Xander stormed up the steps.

Sir John Patrick Ryan stepped out into the rain and pulled his overcoat tightly around him. The weather was turning cold a lot earlier this year it seemed, or maybe it was just his mood. The sentencing had gone better then he'd feared, but that didn't make him feel any better for having watched it.

The President, Ryan refused to think of him in any other way now, hadn't drawn any prison time. The opposition had known that the military wouldn't stand for it, and many of them also knew that Jack Ryan wouldn't stand for it either. And though he was rapidly falling out of favor with the new power structure of the country, he still wielded a sharp enough sword to cut to the bone of any politico that tried to cross his President.

He was still brooding when a flash of a familiar figure brought his head up and he spotted a grim faced young man shouldering his way through the crowd.

<Oh shit.> Jack swore mentally as he moved to intercept Xander.

Xander walk through the crowd and almost to the top of the steps when a blur caught his arm and spun him around. He reacted quickly, his hand stiffening into a straight edge as he prepared to disable the figure, but in the next instant he recognized the man and relaxed marginally.

He was spun around by the force of the swing and felt himself pushed hard against a huge column that Ryan had maneuvered between them and the crowd of reporters.

"Are you *insane*???" Ryan snapped tensely as he looked over Xander shoulder, around the column. "Jesus Christ, Xander! This is nuts! Someone might see you!"

"Jack." Xander snarled out. "Why the hell is this happening, Jack!? Why didn't you do something!?"

"Like what!?" Ryan glared down at Xander as he held him pinned there, out of sight. He briefly hoped that no one had recognized him, because this getting on the five o'clock news was a bad thought. "God damn it, you think I didn't want to?? Whitmore order... ORDERED... us all to back off. He didn't want everyone going down for this."

"Going down for what!? Christ sakes, Jack! He helped save the world!!" Xander snapped out, finally forcing Jack off him.

Ryan's eyes flickered over Xander's shoulder again as he looked down the stairs. A couple of the reporters were looking curiously over in their direction now, but a commotion at the door turned their attention back. Ryan sighed in relief as he glared down at Xander again, "You are one dumb shit, you know that?? You think I like this? You think *anybody* on Whitmore's team liked this?? Hell half the opposition walked out on their allies over this crap...."

"Then why is this happening, Jack." Xander demanded coldly, eyes boring holes in the older man. "Tell me that."

"Because, sometimes, the system sucks." Jack Ryan said angrily, "And there are a few people in it that will use any advantage to propel themselves higher... Whitmore made enemies, everyone does in this city, and someone managed to get all his enemies together to hang him. But you know what? Eventually they'll fuck up, and we'll get them back. And that'll suck too, because when we do we'll make more enemies and it'll start all over again."

Xander slumped a little, shaking his head. "God Dammit, Jack."

"Yeah. Yeah, I know." Jack suddenly sounded really tired. It was weird, in some ways he'd always known that the system was like this. He was a professor of military and political history, he couldn't be ignorant of how things were done. But it felt really dirty to say it outloud.

Xander slumped back against the pillar as a rush of noise beside him cause both men to turn and watch as Former President Whitmore, along with his wife, and General Gray emerged looking grim and tired. The reports swarmed them instantly as Xander and Ryan watched, swallowing them entirely within the briefest second.

They watched as the mob moved, broiling around a center nucleus that neither Xander nor Jack could quite manage to see, until it reached a waiting limo down at the bottom. It boiled and swarmed for a while longer, then a door slammed shut, and the limo drove off.

Xander slumped, "It's not right, Jack."

"I know that, Xander." Jack Ryan sighed, pulling Xander off the cold cement column. "Come on. I'll buy you dinner, and we can pretend for a little while that Justice still prevails in Washington..."

"That, Mr President, was the most disgusting display of cowardice I have ever seen."

"Don't call me that any more, General." Whitmore smiled tiredly. "It's over now... Call me... Tom."

Gray swished that around in his mouth for a moment before grimacing. "I don't think I can, Mr President."

Whitmore sighed, shaking his head as he smiled up at the irascible older man. "You're a stubborn man, General."

"You forget... Tom." Gray said deliberately with a trace of irony. "I'm not a General anymore."

"That's your own damn fault." Whitmore said, suddenly bitter as well as tired. "I gave you a direct order to stay out of this."

Gray snorted. "Sir, I swore an oath to defend this country... In my book whenever a good man goes down for something he did *right*, it's just one more bite out of our national worth. Standing beside you was the least I could do."

"You could have done your duty and stayed in a position where you could do some good." Whitmore retorted.

"Like what?" Gray shook his head. "I would have been retired as soon as Kealty took over. He knew that I backed you... he couldn't leave me around where I could cause any damage."

Thomas Whitmore sighed, "At least you'd have retired with Honors, General."

Gray shrugged, "You know what, Sir? Fuck em."

Whitmore let out a bitter laugh, then calmed as he wife looked at him with concern in her eyes.

"I'm ok... really," He said, smiling at her, "Really... I'm fine."

She smiled at him, shaking her head. "Liar."

Thomas Whitmore sighed and smiled as he brought her caressing hand up to his lips, "What did I ever do to deserve you?"

"You chose to be you." Margaret Whitmore smiled back softly as he kissed her hand.

The two of them smiled at each other while General William Grey watched them with a protective gleam in his eyes. Outside the rain poured down on Washington DC as the limo sped on to it's destination.

"How have you been?"

Xander smiled, laying his napkin down as he picked up the fork and steak knife and looked over at Ryan. "Not too bad. You?"

"Been better."

"Yeah." Xander said, the smile gone. "Yeah, I can believe that."

"So..." Ryan rearranged his utensils slightly as he looked down at the perfectly broiled steak on his plate. "How's the car running?"

"Showroom perfect... once I got the trunk repaired." Xander smiled, almost fondly.

"Yeah... I noticed that. What happened there?" Ryan asked with genuine curiosity.

"Oh you know... never lock up a magical sword in your trunk. It might want to go for a walk." Xander smirked slightly.

Ryan sighed, "I shouldn't have asked."

Xander shrugged, "How's the family?"

"They're good..." Ryan said reluctantly, "I'm afraid I've been distracted lately..."

"I'm sure Cathy understands." Xander said. After a moment he sighed, "Where are they staying?"

"My family?" Ryan tried to deflect him.

"You know who I mean." Xander said. "I can find out other ways, Jack."

Jack sighed. He was certain the kid could. Anyone who could create that diversion in dallas could almost certainly find damned near anything they wanted. Still. It was a horrendous breech in security to reveal that information. Impeached or not, the President was under a secret service guard, for the next few weeks especially. It would be a media nightmare if Whitmore were assassinated, and not even his enemies wanted him dead. He'd be an incredible martyr to many in the armed services. <Hell... He already is to some.>

He finally sighed, bundling up his napkin and dropping it on the table. "At the Imperial Hotel tonight. They're leaving for a town in Iowa tomorrow... Whitemore's home town."

Xander nodded. "Thanks."

"What are you going to do?" Jack asked hesitantly, unsure if he really wanted to know.

"Just... pay my respects." Xander assured him with a smile that was incredible unreassuring.

Chapter 6

Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas Texas

"Come on, Scully... Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we're here." Mulder said with a small smile as his partner blinked and stumbled tiredly along behind him.

"Shut up, Mulder." Dana Scully said tiredly. "You drag me out of bed to catch a flight to Texas, so that we can catch a guy who *might* hang out with a witch??"

"You didn't see the name scratched out on the bottom of that sheet of notes, Scully."

"Neither did you!" Scully uttered in exasperation. "It was scratched out!"

"I know, but I had some friends of mine scan it into a computer and do a little of their techno-voodoo on it." Mulder smiled easily.

"Oh God." Scully moaned, "I'm sure I don't want to know... Alright, whose name was it?"

"John Patrick Ryan." Mulder announced with all the flourish of a magician revealing the finale of his trick.

"John Patric..." Scully trailed off, blinking. "Jack Ryan?? The Head of the CIA??"

"Bingo." Mulder smiled serenely. "And that's what I call a reliable witness."

"Yeah. Reliable enough that he didn't want his name associated with your investigation." Scully muttered dryly. "At least *he* is sane."

The two FBI agents continued chattering as they made their way toward the desk that their information said their quarry had been spotted at.

"Whoa! Back up partner..."

"What? What? What are you... Damn it, Hobbes! Let me go!"

"Uh uh. No way, kid. Come on... we're getting out of here." Bobby Hobbes muttered,, hauling Darien Fawkes toward the exit.

"Come on, Hobbes! We've got to get to the..."

"I said no!" Hobbes snapped, "Listen, sometimes you just need to trust me. Got that, Kid?"

"What the hell has gotten into you, Hobbes??" Darien muttered finally as he allowed Hobbes to drag him in the opposite direction of which they had to go.

"See that guy over there?" Hobbes nodded behind them. "The one with the knock out redhead?"

Darien looked over his shoulder.

"Don't *look* at him!" Hobbes hissed.

"How the hell am I supposed to see him if I don't look at him!?" Darien demanded.

"Just look through the corner of your eyes," Hobbes demonstrated by flicking his eyes around.

"You know you look like a psychopath when you do that, right?" Darien asked dryly.

"Just do it!" Hobbes hissed.

After a moment Darien nodded, "Ok. Yeah... Found the redhead... and the guy. Suits... Government?"

"G-men." Hobbes said. "FBI types... What's worse, I know the guy."

"Friend of yours?" Darien asked, "Cause if it is, I can understand why you don't want to see him... I don't want to see anybody you call friend either."

"Ha ha, smart guy." Hobbes muttered. "That's Special Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI."

"Special Agent?" Darien glanced over, then looked at Hobbes. "Hey... we're just Agents... what makes him special?"

"Stop playing around." Hobbes ordered, "Took a good look at that guy-"

"How am I supposed to do that through the corner of my eyes?"

"Just shut up and remember his face."

"Ok... fine, and I'm doing this why?" Darien asked, rolling his eyes.

"Cause if you ever seen him or that broad again, you RUN." Hobbes replied. "And don't even *think* of going see through. That guy can smell a freak from two miles away."

"Hey, watch who you're calling a freak, Hobbes!" Darien snapped angrily.

"Will you just listen to me??" Hobbes said in exasperation. "You stay well clear of that guy. Way the hell clear. He specializes in your kind."

"My kind!? What the hell is that supposed to mean??"

"You know..." Hobbes looked flustered, "Freaks and wierdos..."

"Oh thank you very much."

"Hey now, don't take it like that... I just meant..."

"I know what you meant, Hobbes." Darien shook him off angrily. "Come on. We've got a job to do."

"Oh no... we ain't going anywhere near Mulder or his partner." Hobbes shook his head, pulling Darien back. "Mulder would sniff you out in twenty seconds and then Skull would cut you open to see what made you tick."

"Ok, now you're just being paranoid." Darien said, but he was looking at the two agents a little askance.

"Sure... why don't you go over there and find out?" Hobbes smirked.

Darien hesitated, then shook his head. "We can wait until they're done... I wonder what they're up to anyway?"

"Who knows." Hobbes shrugged, rolling his eyes. "Maybe they came into town to investigate that Vampires Incorporated scam."

"What's that?"

"Oh, it's these screwballs who...."

"Hold on." Michael whispered in his soft voice.

"Why?" Nikita looked back.

Michael nodded ahead of them, "those two are FBI. We'll wait for them to leave."

"You know them?" Nikita asked, eyeing the two agents as they moved toward the counter.

"I've... encountered... the man before." Michael said slowly.

"And he's still alive?"

"Fox Mulder is a very dangerous man." Michael sighed, "And he has some very powerful people interested in what he does. I never received clearance to neutralize him."

Nikita raised an eyebrow. "Operations didn't grant it?"

"He did. Then he rescinded it."

"Curiouser and curiouser." Nikita said, eyeing the man with new eyes.

Mulder and Scully walked up to the counter, glancing at each other with a hint of worry.

"Is it just me or are we being watched by at least two different groups?" Scully asked softly.

"I count four." Mulder said with a half smile. "Five if you count the security guard by the escalator."

Scully shook her head. "Weird."

"I'll go with weird as an appropriate description." Mulder said as he withdrew his badge and began to lift it to show the clerk.

Suddenly he and Scully were jostled apart as a man in a cheap suit held up a badge and snapped harshly. "Military intelligence. I need to see your records on a man named Xander Harris."


"Who's that?"

"Military spook. Dumb ass just got the FBI on his case for operating outside his jurisdiction." Hobbes shook his head.

"That's good though, right? That'll keep them both occupied."

"Yeah, that's good... I just hate amateurs."

"Who's this?"

"Military... NID I believe."

"Never heard of them."

"Air force black group... word is they're associated with Area 51."

Nikita's eye's widened. "You can't be serious. UFO hunters?"

Michael shrugged, "Probably a useful cover. Who knows what their real mandate is?"

"Why would *they* be here?"

"Listen pal, I don't know who you think you are..."

"Special Agent Fox Mulder. FBI."

"Special Agent Dana Scully. FBI."

"Look... I'm with..."

"Military Intelligence. Yes, we heard." Mulder said calmly. "Would you mind informing me what interest military intelligence has with Xander Harris? There's nothing in his file to indicate any involvement with the military."

"He... uh... well..."

"I see. Maybe we should take this up at the FBI offices here in Dallas." Scully suggested with a frigid smile.

The man backed off, "Well... I don't think that'll be neccessary... I'll just..."

"Why don't you just go." Mulder suggested tightly, making sure he had read the man's identification. <Maybourne huh? I can't wait to see what I can pull up on you.>

The man backed off, and finally all but fled from the area.


"Why'd they let him go?? They had him out of juri... juri.. What did you call it?"

"Jurisdiction." Hobbes muttered it like a curse. "They let him go because that Mulder is a damned pitbull. He's gonna dog us on this one the whole way, just you wait and see."

Chapter 7

Emperor Hotel, Washington DC

"Are you alright, Sir?"

Whitmore glanced up at the young woman and nodded. "Yes, thank you Andrea."

The Secret Service Agent nodded once and slipped back out the door as silently as she'd appeared.

Grey looked at the door for a moment before frowning. "I don't remember her on your detail."

"She's new." Whitmore shrugged.

"I'm surprised that son of a bitch is risking having any more agents 'corrupted' by your influence." Grey smirked slightly.

Whitemore shrugged, shaking his head. "I think that he and My Price had a run in."

"Oh... no... Mr President..."

"Don't call me that." Whitmore said, closing a binder and leaning back as he listened to the noises of his wife putting their daughter to bed. "And yeah... If the rumors are right..."

"They usually are, Sir." Grey said grimly. Rumors that reach the President's ears weren't generally spilled on a whim.

"I know. If they're true," Whitmore went on, "Kealty paid a price for underestimating that lady."

Grey snorted, "Serve's the bastard right... Strange though, I didn't expect him to have the balls to go after someone who could fight back."

"With his type? Who knows?" Whitmore shrugged, "Maybe he didn't believe she could."

"He'd have to be a stupid shit to think that an agent on his protective detail couldn't handle herself." Grey said flatly, "And even stupider to piss off all the people who were supposed to protect him."

"No one ever accused Kealty of being bright when it comes to dealing with individuals, William." Whitmore sighed, "But he is slick when it comes to courting the press."

"He is that Sir." Grey nodded, picking up the half full glass of single malt scotch and taking another drink. "Makes me want to cry, Sir. Makes me want to cry."

"Join the club." Whitmore smiled slightly, but without humor. "This isn't how I wanted to make my mark on the history books..."

"Kinda makes you wonder, Sir... How many other people have faced this challenge in the past? And how many of them rose to the occasion..." Grey said tiredly. "How many good men went down on the same sword?"

"It does, General. It really does." Whitmore sighed as he took a drink.

Andrea Price patted the two guards at the suite's door on the shoulders as she passed, nodding to them as she made her way down the hallway.

"Eagle One, Eagle Three." She said into her mic, "Eagle is settled down for the evening. Am checking the perimeter."

"Alright, Andrea," Eagle One, the head of the Whitmore detail came back instantly. "Do a circuit and report back. I'll have Don spell you when you're done."

"Thanks Hal." She said, "I'll check in in twenty... Over."

The entire floor of the Emperor had been rented out for the past week because the President couldn't stay in the white house now that Vice President Kealty had taken residence while preparing his campaign for the upcoming election. That was good and bad news for the agents on the Whitmore assignment. It gave them a relatively tight area to secure, but the word relatively was realtive in this case. It was still a civilian hotel, and that meant that is was designed to allow ease of travel and, above all, multiple exits.

Multiple exits mean multiple entrances, and that made for a long perimeter to check.

<Still better then dealing with that SOB in the oval office.> her lips curled involuntarily for a moment before she caught herself and lashed down on the reaction with a brutal reign of self control. <Don't be stupid. Anyone sees you react like that to the President and you'll kiss your career goodbye, Price.>

She paused as she passed the adjoining suite to the Presidents.

<Did I hear... No... It's not possible.>

Possible or not, she wasn't going to walk past the room now. She took out her master keycard and slipped it into the door.

"Mr President," General William Grey raised his newly topped off glass in salute. "It has been an honor to be court-martialed at your side, Sir."

Whitmore snorted softly, laughing before raising his own glass. "Well. I wasn't court-martialed, general... But I take your meaning... and it was an Honor to be impeached by *your* Side, General Grey."

The big irascible man chuckled softly as he downed half his drink and set it down on the table.

"We make quite a pair, General." Whitmore said wistfully. "I wish things had..."

A startled scream coming from the next room over shocked both men to their feet as they moved quickly to the room Margaret Whitmore was in.

Before they could reach the door it opened to reveal a pale and shaken Mrs Whitmore backing away from a man in dark clothing, who was carrying a body.

"T-T-Tom..." Margaret stuttered out.

"It'll be ok... The Secret Service..."

"Won't be in as quickly as they should." The man said, sounding apologetically as he walked in and smiled at them.

Whitmore's eyes bugged, "You!"

"Me, Mr President." Xander Harris smiled, then frowned as he looked to the body he was carrying. "Uh... Could I use your couch for her? She walked in on me as I was breaking into your suite."

Whitmore recognized Andrea Price and his eyes grew hard, "If you've hurt her..."

"She'll be fine." Xander promised with a rueful smile. "Frankly... I don't even know how she heard me. I'm pretty damn sure that I didn't make any noise."

"Here..." Mrs Whitmore said hesitantly as she cleared the couch.

"Thanks." Xander smiled gratefully at her as he gently dropped Andrea down onto the couch. "You've got one dangerous body guard here, Mr President."

Whitmore glared at him, "Apparently not dangerous enough."

"I wouldn't be too hard on her," Xander smiled as he pulled Andrea's glock from its holster. He smiled again as Grey moved between Whitmore and himself. "Relax..."

He dropped the clip and racked the slide before returning the gun to it's holster and tossing the clip to Grey, who did relax marginally. "She's going to wake up in a few minutes and she'll probably be a little pissed with me."

"Gee, I wonder why?" Grey asked sarcastically as he moved slightly out of Whitmore's way, but stayed close enough to move back in a hurry.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Whitmore asked tightly, moving past Grey despite the older man's objections.

Xander sighed, standing up and looking Whitmore in the eyes. "Truth? I don't really know, Mr President. I just figured that I owed you at least a face to face thanks for all that you did."

Whitmore and Grey were both taken slightly aback as Xander stepped forward and extended his hand. "So thank you, Mr President. On behalf of my people... Thank you."

"I didn't do it for you, Mr Harris. You don't owe me anything." Whitmore replied, but he finally acquiesced and shook Xander's hand.

Xander smiled slightly, but didn't say anything more about it. Instead he stepped back and looked over both men, "You should know... Both of you, you have a hell of a lot of very dangerous men and women who are angry enough to chew nails over all this. And that's not counting the armed forces, Mr president."

Whitmore shrugged, "Tell them to let it go. I intend to."

"Do you? Do you really?" Xander asked softly. He reached into his pocket and drew out two white cards about the size of a business card. "What do you intend to do next?"

"I hadn't thought about it." Whitmore said curtly.

Xander nodded, then extended each hand, one to Grey and the other to Whitmore. "Here."

The two men looked at the cards, taking them after a moment of puzzlement.

"What's this?" Grey asked, holding up the white card. "It's blank."

"Keep watching." Xander smirked.

They did, and both men started slightly when a black ink-like stain made it's way across each card, until both cards were completely black except for two words.

The Knighthood.

"What the hell...?" Whitmore whispered in surprise.

"Open invitations." Xander said calmly. "Join us... We need you both."

Whitmore shook his head, slowly at first, then with conviction. "No. I can't. I'm an American, and I love my Country Mr Harris... I don't know who you people are, but I do know that you're not affiliated with the government..."

"We're not affiliated with any government, Mr President." Xander said, "That's not what we're about."

"Then what are you about?" Grey asked gruffly, still eying the card.

"The World." Xander said simply. "I don't know how much you really know, Gentlemen.. But what happened six months ago wasn't an isolated incident."

"Please tell me that your kidding." Whitmore's face fell in shock.

"I'm afraid that I'm not." Xander said seriously. "The Goa'uld aren't even the most dangerous threats out there. We have internal threats the likes of which you wouldn't believe if I were to lay them out for you here... And external threats that make the Goa'ud look like pushovers."

"And you... people... fight these threats?" Grey asked, frowning.

Xander nodded. "The Knighthood has a very old history...."

Xander was interrupted by a slight moan from the secret service agent on the couch and he frowned, moving over to her. He crouched down, checking her pulse, then looked up. "She'll be..."

He was cut off by the snapping impact of her foot as it whipped out and caught him across the head and threw him hard to the floor.

Chapter 8

Andrea Price felt the world return around her and was momentarily surprised that she was still alive when memory of her situation came back to her. Few people insane enough to make a move like this would leave potential threats alive behind them.

She opened her eyes slightly, quickly seeing the man she'd spotted earlier. He was close by, but not close enough, she decided. He was talking to the President and General Grey, but Grey seemed to be partially in between them.

That decided it. If Grey considered him a threat, he had to go down. The fact that she'd be getting a little of her own back was just a bonus.


She closed her eyes again, remembering her training in positional and situational awareness. And then she moaned softly, trying to sound like someone in pain who was just waking up.

<Yes.> She was exultant when she felt a hand on her throat and then the stranger's voice.

"She'll be..."

She snapped her foot out in a practiced kick that connected just as expected, then snapped open her eyes and rolled clear of the couch as she pulled the comfortable weight of her Glock from her holster.

"Freeze asshole!"

Xander's head was ringing, but he recognized that tone of order easily enough. He ignored it though, already moving to respond as the Glock came up.

The Secret Service Agent pulled the trigger twice before she realized the weapon was empty and her eyes widened in surprise. She dropped the weaver stance and her left hand flashed for her radio control.

Xander brought his left hand flashing up, striking the slim wrist that held the empty Glock even as his right hand flashed forward and he jammed two fingers hard into the Agent's throat while simultaneously sending a surge of energy along his nerves.

Andrea's eyes went wide as she opened her mouth to shout and yell into her radio, only for her vocal chords to refuse to work.

Xander struck again, three times in succession, and Andrea fell back into the soft embrace of the couch as her body refused to respond to her commands.

Xander, for his part, rubbed his head and groaned. "I told you, Mr President... a Very dangerous bodyguard."

"What did you do to her!?" Whitmore rushed over, recovering from his shock at the speed and brutality of the fight. The entire thing took less then thirty seconds.

"She'll be fine." Xander winced as he located the egg on his head and rubbed it. "I just interrupted a few nerve paths... She'll recover on her own by morning..."

Whitmore and Andrea both shot him such a withering glare that Xander winced again and shrugged, "Or I could fix it now."

"Do it." Whitmore ordered tersely.

"Fine. But you keep her under control, Mr President."

"I told you, don't call me that." Whitmore sighed. "And she'll refrain from any further attacks."

Xander nodded, moving closer to Price again. He smiled at her, "Keep your feet to yourself this time."

She glared at him from behind the twitching of muscles that refused to respond to her demands for movement, but he just smiled and reached out and gently laid his hands along her neck and face. Xander focused his internal energy, then slowly ran his palms up along her neck, face, and head. When he let her go, she slipped down into the couch as he muscles went limp. She groaned slightly a moment later, and then slowly reached up to run her throat where there was a sharp bruise from Xander's strike.

"How did you do that?" Grey asked, moving closer, his military mind less shocked by the speed of the fight as by the method of it's conclusion.

Xander shrugged, "The theory is simple enough, General. It's a matter of applying accu-pressure to certain nerve points."

"It can't be that simple." Grey muttered, "Or we'd be teaching it to our soldiers."

"It's not." Xander half smiled, "Pressure alone isn't enough, it takes an energy surge."

"From where?" Whitmore asked.

"From me." Xander shrugged as he moved across the room and took a seat in a large chair. "Now, Mr Whitmore... since you don't like me using your title... We have a discussion to continue."

Whitmore looked over at him uncertainly, as though puzzled, but then nodded. "Right. The... Knighthood."

"Exactly." Xander smiled, "The Knighthood started... a long time ago. You know some of the secret history of the Earth, Mr Whitmore... Most of it based about what? Five thousand years ago?"

Whitmore nodded as he helped Andrea sit up in the couch. He sat down beside her as his wife took a seat by him and Grey sat in another chair. "Yeah... Doctor Jackson told me about the Goa'uld."

"Yeah, well the Knighthood is older." Xander said, "A hell of a lot older. It's been around as long as we have... It's an idea, a dream... and for all the enemies we've faced, they've never killed the dream."

"I just can't believe that an organization like that could exist without anyone knowing it..." Whitmore said, shaking his head.

"It doesn't." Xander said, leaning forward. "You're assuming something that isn't true, Mr Whitmore."


"The Knighthood was destroyed almost ten thousand years ago. It doesn't exist in the way you think." Xander said, "The Goa'uld... among others, managed to take us all down. That's what led to Dr Jackson's history."

"Then how did you...?"

"They built to last back then." Xander smiled.

Grey snorted suddenly, "You're telling us that you're the entire Knighthood. This group we've been hunting for for *months*, and they don't exist."

"Oh they existed." Xander said, "They existed alright. I told you, The Knighthood is an idea. And you can't kill an idea. The Knighthood was destroyed, along with most of Atlantis... But the *Knights* didn't all die... They made their way through history, touching lives... and the lives they touched, well some of those people started to emulate what they saw. Arthur Pendragon. Gilgamesh. Ivanhoe. Robin Hood."

Xander smiled, "Some of them were Knights... some of them just wanted to be... But all of them, and every single person who lives by those ideals belong to the Knighthood, whether they know it or not. And the Knighthood is awakening again, Mr Whitmore... and we look after our own."

"I don't belong to you or you're 'knighthood'." Whitmore said tersely. "And I don't expect or want anything from you people."

"You do, though." Xander smiled again. "Because you can't change who you are. The next time there's trouble, if you can, you'll be right in the middle of it. You too Mr Grey. You'll be there because it's the right thing to do. Because you can't turn your back on people who need you... not even when they've turned their backs on you... And you know what?"

"What?" Whitmore asked, scowling slightly.

"When you are in the middle of that trouble... No matter what you decide here tonight," Xander smiled and leaned forward. "Just look over you're shoulder.... Because some of *us* will be standing right there beside you."

The room seemed to chill suddenly as he spoke those words, or at least that was how Xander's audience felt. Even the tough secret service agent swallowed as she looked into his eyes with a mind trained to detect falsehood and threat, and read none of the above.

"So that's why I've given you the cards, gentlemen." Xander said calmly. "Not because I want you to join us. But because you already have."

"Mr Harris, I have to say," General Grey smirked slightly. "That is the most poetic piece of bullshit I've ever heard."

Xander laughed, nodding his head. "Isn't it though? But it's also true... I wonder Mr Grey... You've been in the military most of you're life, right?"

William Grey nodded, "That's right."

"How many heros would you say you've seen?"

Grey was silent for a long moment, then sighed. "Too many who died young."

Xander nodded, "I know the feeling. Believe me, I know the feeling. You know how many honest to god heros I've known?"

"Why don't you wow us, Mr Harris?" Whitmore said dryly.

"More then I can count." Xander said flatly. "I know a sixteen year old girl who risks her life every night to save lives... She's American ladies and gentlemen, and her life expectancy is less then two years."

"That... That can't be." Margaret Whitmore said in shock, speaking for the first time.

"When she dies... Another sixteen year old girl takes her place." Xander said calmly. "It's been going on for centuries. You do the math and tell me how many children lost their lives fighting an enemy so that the rest of us could pretend it wasn't there."

"That's impossible." Whitmore shook his head, "That just can't be true..."

"It is. Me? I was fifteen when I started." Xander said, leaning forward. "The only adult around who had a clue what was going on was desperate enough that we actually convinced him to let us help."

"Fight what!?" Grey demanded. "What could there possibly be to fight in an american city? Are you talking about vigilantes? Fighting gangs??"

"Use the cards." Xander smiled, "And I'll show you, personally, what we fight. All I can say is that I *promise* that when you see what we're dealing with, you'll never sleep the same again."

Both men looked down at the black cards in their hands, then back up. "Use them? How?"

Xander smiled, "Just hold them up to the phone... any phone. And the next voice you hear will tell you when we'll meet. The invitation is open, as long as you want."

"We could just hand these cards over to the Government." Whitmore said flatly.

Xander smile and got up, "Go ahead. They'll only work for you... I hope you don't mind, but we borrowed you're DNA profile from the military records."

"That won't stop us from leading them to you." Grey said tensely.

"I know." Xander said, nodding. "But on some level there has to be trust. I trust you to remember that when the world needed us, we were there. I trust you to be there when the world needs you."

"And what if we don't trust you?"

Xander quirked a half grin, "I trust that you'll get all the information before you make that choice."

"And if we decide that you're a threat and have to be taken down?"

Xander leveled an even stare at the General. "Then I trust that you'll do what you have to do. Just like I would."

Then Xander walked slowly over to the window and looked out. He checked his watch and glanced back, "Sorry. It's time. I have to go."

"Huh? Why??"

A sharp rap at the door distracted them, then the door opened and a big man stepped in. "Sorry, Sir, but have you seen Agent Price? She was supposed to check in... Oh, Andrea... what are you doing in here?"

Everyone stared, open mouthed at the agent, who blinked and checked his suit. "What? What??"

Everyone spun back around to look at the window, but Xander was gone, and the only thing there was the curtains blowing in the breeze of the open window.

Chapter 9


"For the fourth time today, no one named Xander *anything* checked in here in the last week, month, or YEAR." The clerk behind the desk sounded exasperated.

"Fourth time?" Mulder glanced over at Skully, who raised and eyebrow. "Are you telling me that three other groups have been here today?"

"That's what I said." The man said, shaking his head. "And before you ask, there's been no Alexander for the past couple weeks either. We did have an Alex, but he checked out three days ago."

Mulder reached into his jacket, but the man immediately threw up his hands, "And No. We don't have anyone who looks like that picture."

Mulder let his hand drop slightly, "Picture?"

"Yeah. The one that looks about twentyfive or so, brown hair and eyes, and has a scar under his left eye. That one." The man shook his head, "You'd think that you government people would get more coordination for all the tax money you yank out of my wallet every year."

Mulder and Scully glanced at each other as the man left, still muttering to himself.

"You know, Scully... I think I agree with him." Mulder smiled tightly.

"Alright, Mulder. What the hell is going on here?" Scully demanded. "Who else could possibly be interested in anything that you're chasing?"

Mulder glanced over at her archly, but didn't rise to the bait. Instead he shrugged, "I'm not sure, but the name on those notes was enough to interest me... Maybe it interested someone else too?"

Scully nodded reluctantly, looking around the lobby of the hotel that the computers had led them too. "Something is really strange about this case, Mulder."

"Compared to what?" Mulder asked with a smirk.

"I think that's supposed to be my line, Agent Mulder." Scully returned archly.

"Ok, so now what?"

"Patience, Fawkes. Patience."

"Oh, great advice, oh wise one. I don't suppose you noticed that we've got no leads, no sources, and way too much company on this one?"

Hobbes just shrugged. "Here comes our lead now."

Darien looked to where Hobbes was looking and his eyes widened, "Oh no... You told me to RUN from that guy. Why the hell are we going to follow him?"

"Mulder is a scary guy, Fawkes. Almost as scary as me." Hobbes said smugly. "He's also one of the best profilers in the FBI. If anyone can track this Harris creep, it's him."

"Great. Meanwhile we're stuck tracking a guy who actually gives you the creeps." Darien said disgustedly. "Why does that not make me feel good?"

Hobbes shrugged, "You need to relax, Partner. Go with the flow."

"Uh huh. Whatever." Darien said tiredly, "Hey... If we're following them, what if someone's following us?"

"Haven't you been listening to me, Fawkes? No one follows Bobby Hobbes."

"Stay behind that battered van." Micheal told Nikita as she pulled the black Section van out into traffic.


"They've been with us since the airport. They're following Mulder, we'll do the same until Birkoff can get us something better."

"Alright." Nikita nodded, moving up behind the van.

"Don't get spotted."

"Don't worry."

"Follow that son of a bitch."

"Yes Sir."

Maybourne scowled as he watched the black FBI sedan leave the hotel. He'd recognized Fox Mulder's name instantly at the airport, and now he wanted the man dead in a box. Unfortunately the NID didn't have that level of authority. Not quite, and not yet.

Besides, the man was an expert profiler, and investigator.

As Maybourne calmed himself he watched the car move through traffic, nodding to himself. "We'll let Mr Mulder find Mr Harris for us. Then he and I will have a long talk about whose jurisdiction this really is."

"Another hotel?" Bobby Hobbes frowned. "Why did they come here?"

"You're asking me? I don't even know why we're in Dallas."

"Need to know, Partner. If you needed to know, they'd have told you."

"I see. And did YOU need to know by any chance?"

Hobbes didn't say anything as he fished his parabolic mic out of the back of the van.

"I thought not."

"Get a laser on the glass behind the hotel clerk."

"On it."


"Almost there... got it." Nikita smiled as the system recorded the bounce back and the computer started to record the signal.

"What have you got?"

"Give me three more seconds, Sir."

"Hurry it up."

"The parabolic mic is being aimed by the computer now. We're filtering the extraneous sounds, and adjusting for the camouflage... Got it Sir."

"I'm Fox Mulder, and this is my Partner, Dana Scully. I believe you have reservations in out names?"

"Ah... Yes Sir, Mulder and Scully. Adjoining rooms on the third floor. I'll summon a clerk for you immediately."

"Thank you."

"Congratulations, Master Spy. You just caught them checking into their hotel rooms." Darien said dryly. Then he paused and blinked, "Hey. How come we don't get hotel rooms?"

"Shut up Fawkes."

Darien chuckled, "You're just sore because your big lead led us to his own hotel room. What do you do for an encore? You want to try to catch that Scully woman in the shower?"

"Shut up, Fawkes."

"Plane B."

Nikita nodded, "B for Birkoff."


"They're checking in??" Maybourne reddened in anger. "This is why the country is going down the tubes. No one has a work ethic anymore."

"Uh... Yes Sir."

"Setup around the clock surveillance. If Mulder takes a crap, I want to know it."

"Yes Sir."


"My God, Mulder... There's more people watching our hotel then on the President's security detail."

"Get away from the window, Scully... They could be armed."

"Of course they're armed, Mulder. That idiot from the NID was out there earlier... that means that at least some of them are government." Scully said in exasperation. "Why are they following us??"

"I'd hazard a guess that they don't have any leads either." Mulder shrugged as he tapped on his laptop.

"You sure you should be using that now? They might have bugged the rooms..."

"What? Oh, yeah, they did. I disabled them."

"You did?" Scully looked around, "How?"

"They were using a laser bounced off the window... I attached a vibrator to the base of the glass... All they're getting is the latest music off the local top fifty station." Mulder shrugged. "You know... there's something weird about this case."

"And you finally noticed that??"

"No, I mean the way we all wound up here..." Mulder said, "This Harris guy just came out of nowhere..."

"What are you talking about?"

"His ticket information said that he was incoming on a flight from Madrid. Only Madrid has no records of him leaving there. Interpol has no information in his passport... In fact, the *only* place that appears to have caught him was right here."

"Well, we know that he has to be pretty good at staying hidden. He's managed to evade the government for months." Scully countered.

"Precisely." Mulder replied, looking up. "So why did he screw up here and now?"

Chapter 10


"What are you thinking, Sir?"

Thomas Whitmore sighed, looking out over the lights that made up the Capital of the United States. "That I wish the world was a simple as it used to be."

Grey snorted, "I doubt it was ever that simple, Sir."

"Probably right, William. Probably right." Whitmore said with a pensive smile. "What are you doing with the rest of your life, William?"

"Am I going to join the intrepid Mr Harris, is that the question, Mr President?"

Whitmore sighed, "General..."

"Sorry... sorry. Mr Whitmore."

"As to the question, yeah. I guess that's what I was wondering."

Grey took a long breath before sighed and shrugging. "I don't know Mr President. The story sounds good... and after what happened last spring..."

"Yeah. I know."

"What about you?" Grey asked. "Are you tempted?"

"Tempted? Hell yes. If only to see his full sales pitch." Whitmore snorted, "But I'm not making that call, General."

"Mind if I ask why, Mr Whitmore?"

"Not at all, William. There are two reasons in the next room."

There was a long silence.

"I can understand that, Sir."

"I thought you might."

Xander parked the lexus in the familiar driveway and made his way up the path to the door. The darkness was mitigated by the streetlamps that lined the suburban road, and Xander paused for a moment to admire the neighborhood.

Finally he tapped on the door and waited.

"Yes?" The elderly Asian lady said as she opened the door. When she saw Xander her face broke into a wide smile, "Alexander! Please, come in... come in..."

Xander smiled back, "How have you been doing, Mrs Osaka?"

"Good. Good. And you?"

"I've been ok. I was in town and wanted to check on Joseph and Naomi... How have they been?"

"This year been better then last." The elderly Japanese lady said, her smile turning a little soft as Xander removed his shoes and bowed lightly to her. "Hajime is in his garden... I'll bring Joseph and Naomi down."

"Thank you, Mrs Osaka."

Hakime Osaka barely looked up from his trimming when he saw Xander, the old man just smiled slightly and turned back to his carefully pruned Bonsai.

"It has been a long time, young Mr Harris."

"It has, Mr Osaka."

The old man looked up after snipping another branch, looking at Xander for a long moment. "Something has changed. What is it?"

Xander shrugged as he walked over to the Bonsai that was still on the deck by the Coi pond. "It's getting cold for this isn't it?"

"I'll bring them inside this week." Hajime Osaka said, "But you do not answer my question."

"A lot of things change, Mr Osaka. I'm just one of them."

"Perhaps." The elderly man nodded, "Perhaps that is so. And then again,"

He lifted the pruners again and clipped another branch before tying it down with great care. "Perhaps it is not. How many people have you killed?"

Xander blinked, taken aback at the sudden question. "I don't think this..."

"I can smell your guns. The oil and the powder... I remember the smell well." Hajime said after a moment. "You have fired them within a few days. I know this."

"I keep in practice." Xander said haltingly.

The old man smiled, "No. You do not have the eyes of a man who practices. You have the eyes of a man who does what must be. My brother had eyes like yours once. After he joined the army. When he came home he looked like you do now. He was older then you though... by many years."

Xander took a breath, "Life doesn't always wait for us to grow up."

"No. No, that is does not." Hajime nodded, "So... tell me, if you will not say how many you have killed... How many have you saved?"

"I don't know." Xander replied after a moment. "I lost track a long time ago."

Hajime nodded after a moment, a knowing look on his face. "And yet, I am sure, that you know exactly how many you have killed... Am I not right?"

Xander just shrugged.

Hajime just nodded again. "I thought as much. You do not know how many people you have saved, and yet you do know how many you have killed. That tells me one of two things."

"Either," He continued, "You take honor in death, and judge your self worth against those you have killed..."

Xander winced.

"Or you have saved many times the number you have killed." Hajime finished, looking thoughtful.

"Xander!" A loud, boisterous voice echoed behind him causing Xander to smile slightly as a gleam entered his eyes and he turned to see Naomi and Joseph rush into the garden.

"I think.." Hajime said, smiling slightly, "That I have my answer... I am glad. Naomi and Joseph would be most angry with me if I forbid you from coming again."

Xander turned back, his eyes questioning.

"And I am an old man." Hajime smiled finally. "And a grandfather should spoil his grandchildren... Not be forced to take away their pleasures."

"What is it?"

"Sir, the Harris boy just made contact with the Osaka's."

"Damn. What's he doing in Washington!? Every damned agency in the free world is combing dallas!"

"I don't know Sir, I'm just telling you what the surveillance turned up."

"Tell the team to shut down all units. Pull them out."


"DO it goddamn it. Just do it."

"Yes, Sir."

The man rolled over again, reaching for a different phone, one that wasn't bugged. He dialed a quick number. "Striker."

Xander and the Osaka's were sitting down to a supper spread that rivaled any setting that even Hercules had set when a knock at the door caused them to glance over in puzzlement.

"Are you expecting anyone?" Xander asked, his pulse winding up slightly. It had been a risk coming here, but he had hoped that he could get away with it.

"No. But it is most likely one of the neighbors." Hajime nodded to Naomi who nodded and headed for the door.

They heard the door open, and suddenly Naomi squealed loudly, causing Xander to stiffen where he was seated until he heard her happy voice call out, "Uncle Mike!"

A few moments later, Xander looked upon the imposing figure of Mack Bolan, knowingly, for the first time. He smiled slightly and shook his head, "I'm utterly shocked that Hal would waste resources staking out the Osaka residence."

Mack smiled back, his cold blue eyes glittering like carve ice as he nodded to Hajime and his wife. "Every spook group on the planet is looking for you kid. And Hal wasn't fooled by that fake picture you've got circulating the net either. Mr Osaka..."

"Have a seat Mr Belesko." Hajime nodded, "And please.. Explain your presence here."

Mack kneeled down at the table, smiling gratefully at Mrs Osaka as she served another plate for him. "My... employer, notified me that Mr Harris was here. He asked that I come and speak to him."

"Is Xander in trouble?" Joseph asked, his eyes darting around the table in worry.

"I'm always in trouble, Joe." Xander said, allowing a slight smile. "But I think that it's not too serious. If they had wanted me for anything bad, Mike would never have come in the door. Right?"

"Right." Mack Bolan nodded gruffly. "Hal just wants to talk, Kid. You've made a heavy rep for yourself since we met... Got a lot of dangerous people looking to drag you in... Hal thought it best to hold back your connection to the Osaka's from the community."

Xander nodded, "I knew that he would. Hal has the right priorities."

"Yeah. He does." Bolan said tightly, "But that also means that he wants a sit down with you, kid. Anyone who pisses off this many authorities tends to attract his attention."

Xander smirked, "Yes... you would know that, wouldn't you?"

Bolan scowled lightly, "Carl told me they let slip about that."

Xander shrugged, still smirking.

"Just tell me something." Bolan said after a moment, "This thing that's got them all up in arms... Was it another thing like L.A?"

"Not exactly... but close enough." Xander replied.

"Alright." Bolan nodded, then smiled up to Mrs Osaka. "This looks delicious. Thank you."

"If the mysterious speech is done... perhaps we may eat?" Hajime said sourly. "It is not every day that we have two such esteemed visitors."

Chapter 11

"You know Mulder," Scully looked over her shoulder, "I'm starting to get a little paranoid about this deal."

"Welcome to my world, Scully." Mulder smirked dryly as they walked down the street and into the Texas Rangers building.

Scully rolled her eyes, but bit back the sarcastic response as they double timed it up the stairs and turned right into a door marked, 'Rangers'.

"Can I help you?" They were confronted almost instantly by a man behind a desk.

"Yes," Mulder nodded, flashing his identification. "I'm Special Agent Mulder, and this is my partner, Special Agent Scully. We're looking for a Ranger Walker?"

"Just down the hall here, his desk is on the right. I think he's in." The Ranger shrugged, not bothering to ask further. Walker had more weird visitors then enough.

"Thank you." Scully said as they flashed by.

"We're going in."

"In there?? Are you kidding me??"

"What's wrong?"

"I've been *arrested* in this town before. I'm not walking into Ranger headquarters, Hobbes."

"Figures. Fine, alright. We'll wait. We probably couldn't get close anyway... Unless you want to... you know..."

"Uh uh. No way. Last time I was here there was a nutcase Ranger up there that people said could *smell* a crook from two blocks off. I avoided him then, I'm not gonna change that habit now."


"What was that!?"


"What could they be doing in here?"

"I don't know. Birkoff?"

"Accessing the Ranger database... correlating old reports... hang on a second." Birkoff's voice came over the radio link. "This is interesting..."

"What is it?" Michael asked softly.

"A Ranger Trivette reported a contact with an Agent Harris of the FBI... almost a year ago. The FBI reported back that they didn't have any Agent Harrison in the area, but there was no investigation when Trivette withdrew the report... His partner, a Ranger Walker, signed off on the new report... Case solved, no further incidents reported of the full moon killer, everyone happy."

"Sounds like this Harris guy has been around longer then we thought." Nikita said, her eyebrow arcing up.

"So it appears." Michael replied. "I wonder..."

"What?" Nikita asked softly.

"Birkoff... Run a wide data sweep of all police and federal level information for the past two years... Search for any reference to Mr Harris, or Mr Harrison."

"That's a lot of databases..." Birkoff said hesitantly. "It'll take a while."

"That's fine." Michael relaxed back into his car seat. "I don't think that we're in a rush."

"Oh?" Nikita looked over. "Why's that?"

"I don't think Harris was anywhere near Dallas in the past six months."

"What are those two doing?" Maybourne griped as he watched the front of the Ranger HQ. "Involving the Rangers is stupid."

"I don't know Sir... But Mulder seems to have something in mind."

"Mulder always has something in mind. I've read his file. The man is a grade A lunatic." Maybourne frowned. "He's never seen any proof that aliens exist, and yet he's given up his career to pursue them. The man is insane."

The aide blinked, then shrugged. Pointing out that aliens DID actually exist wouldn't help his career any, so he just bobbed his head in agreement.

"Ranger Walker?"

Cordell Walker glanced up, noticing two people in business attire looking at him. "FBI I presume?"

"How'd you guess?" The woman smiled.

"Just a hunch." Walker smiled back. "What can I do for you Agent...?"

"Mulder." The Man replied, holding out his identification.

Walker accepted it, smiling as he glanced down at the ID. Finally he nodded and handed it back, "Agent Mulder."

"We wanted to discuss a report filed by your partner a little over a year ago. Involving an Agent Harrison."

Walker's smile became just slightly stiff, but he just shrugged. "That was a misunderstanding, Agent Mulder. There was no agent Harrison."

"Well, we have to follow up on these things anyway. Where can I find Ranger Trivette?" Mulder asked smoothly as he exchanged a glance with Scully.

"Ranger Trivette is off duty today." Walker replied.

"I see." Mulder said flatly, "And tomorrow?"

"He'll be here."

"Then so will we." Mulder smiled as he backed off and turned to leave.

"Well..." Scully sighed, "That was informative."

"It was actually." Mulder replied easily. "Did you see his reaction when I mentioned Harrison?"

Scully nodded, "He might just be worried about filing a bad report."

"I don't think so."

The two agents slipped out into the daylight and blinked as they looked down the street.

"Oh joy." Scully said dryly. "Our fan club is waiting."

Las Vega, Nevada

"Excuse me," The cute blond said perkily as she appeared beside the slot machine.

"Whaddya want?" The woman asked, her voice slurred by the drinks she'd been consuming.

"We're looking for someone called Xander."

"Alexander." The woman snapped.


"His name is, Alexander." The woman shook her head. "I should know. I named him."

"Oh. Well, we're looking for him."


The blonde sighed, "Can you help us?"

"Who's us?"

"Just me an my friends."

The woman looked up to see two other women appear beside the blonde. She sneered through the liquor. "Figures. He hits it big and every slut in the country starts chasing him. Go find your own gold mine, Sister."

"What!?" The redhead snapped, starting forward until the Asian girl stopped her.

"Not now, Nat."

The blond's smile grew icy. "We're looking for Alexander. And you are going to help us."

"Says who?" The woman shrugged and looked them over again. Their manner of dress confirmed what she figured. <Gold diggers.>

"Says me you old bat!" The redhead was still being held back by the Asian.

The blond was still smiling in that icy manner as a wad of cash appeared in her hand. "We're willing to pay for the information."

The woman frowned, looking at the money. She didn't really need it. Not yet. She still had a ton in the bank, and a good line of credit here at the casino. Still... She'd lost a little bit at the tables this week, and it'd be nice to come out of the week on top.

Decision made she grabbed the cash and shrugged, "Sure. Why not. Alex will probably thank me for sending you three his way."

The three still smiled icily at her.

"That son of mine is in Sunnydale, California... Can't tell you more then that, he moved and didn't leave a forwarding address."

"Thank you." The blond said, her fists clenching and unclenching as she backed away with her two friends.

"God! What a bitch!"

Natalie just nodded, unable to speak. "I hope we're wrong about this... I just can't believe that m... Xander was raised by... by... *that*."

Alex just nodded quietly, but frowned. "This case is taking too long. I know you don't want it to be true, but he is the only lead we've managed to get that seems to fit the profile. And, you have to admit, he's played us ALL really well."

"Yeah." Dylan muttered in aggravation. "We never even got a picture of him. It sucks royally."

"I'm sorry guys..." Nat sighed, "We've been playing phone tag for a couple months now, and I still can't get any real information out of him."

"It's not you're fault, Nat." Alex replied. "I haven't been able to trace any of his calls either..."

"Unless he's calling you from a different city every week." Dylan smirked. "Which, from the ghost he leaves in every database we've hit, he could be doing."

"Still. We have a town now." Alex said.

"Sunnydale California." Natalie nodded. "We have a town."

"Yeah." Dylan grinned. "Watch out, Xander Harris. Ready or not, here we come."

The three continued out of the Casino, until Dylan suddenly paused and glanced back.

"What is it?" The other two asked, puzzled.

"Say... you think we've got time for a couple games of..."


"Alright, alright... I'm just saying..."

"Come on."

Chapter 12

The Morning sun was bright despite the chill in the air when Xander met Mack Bolan in the lobby of the hotel he'd checked into. The night before they'd agreed to do the sit down with Hal in the morning, and Xander had been mildly surprised when Bolan had apparently taken his word on it.


Bolan nodded, glancing around. "You alone."

Xander nodded in return. "I had my own reasons for coming to Washington this time... They were personal."

Bolan shrugged, knowing that he wasn't getting any more out of the kid then that. "Alright. Your car or mine?"

Xander glanced to where Mack was nodding and smiled. "Yours. Mine's nice, but I like the Vette."

A hint of a smile graced Bolan's face, but it didn't last long. "Alright. Hal's waiting."

"Let's go."


Thomas Whitmore looked around, surprised. "Yes, Andrea?"

"There's an Admiral here to see you, Sir." The Secret Service Agent said stiffly, nodding her head to the sitting room of the suite.

"And Admiral, huh?" Whitmore smiled, "Well... Let's go see what he wants."

The former President and his keeper walked out into the sitting room, causing the Admiral, who had been seated in a comfortable chair, to jump to his feet and start to salute before he caught himself and just smiled apologetically. "Sorry Mr Whitmore."

"That's alright." Tom Whitmore replied with the same boyish smile that had gotten him elected in the first place. "What can I do for you Admiral... ?"

"Chegwiddon, Sir." The Admiral nodded, accepting the extended hand. "A.J. Chegwiddon. I was asked to speak with you on behalf of the secretary for naval affairs, as you know he used to be a Navy man himself and he has a proposal for you."

"Oh? And what does Admiral Morse want with me now?" Whitmore smiled.

"He wants you to accept a position with his office, Sir."

Whitmore blinked. "Pardon?"

"He would like you to come aboard as a public consultant and an advisor on military affairs."

Thomas Whitmore shoo his head, "I don't know what Daniel thinks he's doing, but he may as well slit his own throat as bring me into his office. Besides, I'm no navy man. I was Air Force in my day."

"Actually, I'm certain that the Admiral knows that." Chegwiddon said calmly. "In fact, I'm reliably informed that he and a General Hammond actually debated on which of them would make the offer. Morse won."

"Tell him... Tell him that I'm flattered, but I really don't think that his career needs my black mark against it."

The Admiral sighed. "To be frank, Mr Whitmore, I agree. But Morse doesn't see it that way... and neither does the Navy... Or the Air Force for that matter. He feels that a show of solidarity will do you and your family a lot of good... and probably severely curtail the attempts of the current administration to use your... impeachment... as an excuse to begin dialing back the budget appropriations and unit creations you approved."

Whitmore blinked, then sat down. "I think you'd better lay this out Admiral. What exactly has Ed started rolling?"

Chegwiddon sighed and clicked open his briefcase. "You're not going to like it, Sir."

"Mr Harris."

"Mr Brognola."

The two of them eyed each other for a moment across the hood of the car. The sun was higher in the sky now, and it was starting to burn away some of the early morning chill as the three men met out in the nearly empty park.

"Let's take a walk." Hal said finally, nodding down a jogging path that had a nice view of the white house.

"Sure. Why not." Xander smirked as he followed Hal with Bolan walking along at his side.

"Tell me a story, Harris." Hal said as they began. "Why are you suddenly the most wanted man in the world... at least as far as Intel circles go?"

"That's a long story." Xander said with a smile, "But it started about six or seven months ago. You remember the terrorist siege on the west coast around then?"

Hal nodded. That he did, in the worst way. An entire town burned to the ground, a nuclear reactor sabotaged, the loss of almost two hundred sailors, pilots, and marines. And all of it without the first hint of build up in any of the terrorist groups he watched.

He'd expected Whitmore to rip him to shreds for that one, and wouldn't have blamed the man in the slightest. Instead, the President had just looked him evenly in the eyes and told him to forget it and go back to work.

"What about it?" He said finally.

"It wasn't terrorists." Xander said after a moment. "It was an act of war."

Hal frowned, "Who? The Chinese? The Russians couldn't afford it..."

His mind raced. The Japanese had been a little tight around then too, Hal considered, and he shivered to think of what that Japanese Cop had found when he 'followed' a hunch and followed a man for a day. Hal still didn't know how that coup attempt managed to get moving so quietly, but the fact that they'd developed nuclear weapons to back their move just terrified him.

"No. No country." Xander sighed, "Look... It sounds crazy, and you won't believe the whole story anyway... Look, I'll let Mack fill you in on the basics later... for now, you just have to understand something... just one thing."

"What's that?" Hal asked as his lips twisted slightly in derision at the double talk.

"They weren't human." Xander said simply.

The explosion took almost five seconds, but it was impressive. "WHAT!?"

Xander didn't say anything, he just glanced back to Mack who walked forward and laid a hand on Hal's shoulder. "Hal... I believe him."

"What!? Mack... are you crazy? I mean, have you finally lost it. What? Am I supposed to believe that we were attacked by animals or something?"

"Hal..." Bolan said seriously. "Just hear me out."

Hal Brognola sighed, then nodded. "Alright."

"He did WHAT!?" Whitmore raged.

"Kealty has submitted a proposal to cut General Hammond's operating budget in half." Chegwiddon replied, frowning slightly. The situation was serious, but the former president shouldn't be reacting to this level.

"He can't DO that!" Whitmore snapped. "For God's sakes! Hammond needs every penny we can give him... and more besides!"

Chegwiddon blinked. He didn't understand the problem. A military budget cut was a serious manner, true, but the reaction seemed out of proportion. "Sir... I..."

"Never mind, Admiral..." Whitmore quickly got himself under control. "Alright... Kealty isn't that stupid... Where is the money being used?"

"We don't know precisely, Sir. But there is a black ops budget that just came under secured senate review." The Admiral replied, "Morse seems to think that they got a good chunk of it."

"Oh hell." Whitmore sighed. "The NID."

"Pardon me?"

"Kealty and I always differed on how best to accomplish the goals. I prefferred using regular military, albeit elite units... He fervently backed a group called the NID. They're like the CIA's black sheep cousins... The problem I always had with them was that they tended to recruit people that Hammond rejected for his operation."

"I see." A.J. replied even though he didn't see much, "May I asked what the 'goal' in question is?"

"Classified." Whitmore snapped before catching himself. He gave the Admiral an apologetic look, "Sorry Admiral... But it really is very highly classified, and for good reason."

"Does it have anything to do with the events of this Spring?"

"In other words, does it have anything to do with what happened to me?" Whitmore asked dryly. When the Admiral didn't respond he sighed and nodded, "Yeah. It does."

"I see." He didn't, but that's what Lawyers said. "May I tell Morse your decision?"

Whitmore shook his head, "Tell him that I'll consider it."

"Very good, Sir." Chegwiddon got up. "Thank you for your time."

"My pleasure, Admiral." Whitmore sighed, shaking the man's hand again.

As the secret service people let the admiral out, Whitmore half turned to the door of the room, "So... What do you think?"

Margaret Whitmore appeared, smiling tightly. "I think we should start talking."

Admiral Chegwiddon checked his watch as he stepped out into the street. <Still time to catch the verdict in the Marine's court martial... Rabb's done a hell of a job on that one... I wish I didn't feel like it wasn't going to matter much.>

<Sometimes,> The Admiral thought sourly, <I wonder why the hell I became a lawyer.>

"Vampires." Hal said, his voice dead and without emotion. "Demons and vampires."

Mack nodded.

"Mack... Don't take this wrong... But have you given any more thought to Barb's suggestion that you see a shrink?"

Bolan's eyes glittered dangerously, but his lips pulled back into a smile. "I told you, Kid. We should have done this last night."

Xander shrugged, "I have some proof on me."

"Oh really." Hal glanced over at him. "I'd love to see this."

Xander nodded slowly, and an instant later Hal Brognala gasped and fell back from him as his eyes gleamed with a silver light and a seven foot staff appeared in his hands. "Will this do?"

Hal stared, his jaw dropped and eyes bugged as he swallowed hard and use all of his iron core of discipline. "How did you do that?"

"Magic." Xander replied, lying through his teeth. It was close enough for the Head Fed, trying to explain the difference would only complicate matters. "Here."

Hal started as he caught the staff that the kid had flipped to him. It too was glowing silver, but that wasn't nearly as creepy as the kid's eyes. He barely had time to look at it in his hands, to feel it, when it vanished in a sparkle of light and reappeared in Xander's hands.

"What the hell!?" Hal exploded suddenly.

"Relax. We'll explain it as best we can." Mack stepped in, calming his friend.

Xander nodded, checking his watch. "Yeah... and we have to hurry. I have a flight to catch."

Chapter 13

"We'll be landing in Sunnydale in forty minutes, Sir."

"Thanks Eric." Xander said, before turning back to the computer screen he had been looking at. "So that's the situation. What happened in Dallas?"

The computer generated image of Merlin smiled, "A rather amusing episode of interagency cooperation... or lack thereof, if the computer searches generated are any sign. Though, I believe that I am worried about the FBI agents assigned to track you down. They appeared to actually be successful in picking up your trail, despite a complete lack of solid evidence."

"Oh?" Xander raised an eyebrow. "And who are these super cops?"

"The FBI's X-Files team. They're assigned to track supernatural and extra terrestrial claims." Merlin replied, frowning. "That would indicate that the FBI, at least, has some evidence on the events of last spring. Here are their files..."

Xander watched as the screen changed and read the files with a touch of amazement. "This Scully woman is a genuine super brain... But Mulder... I think he scares me. He's too good a profiler... if he get's a little more to add to the file he's assembling on me, he may actually be able to back track me to some of my friends."

"Indeed." Merlin agreed.


"I don't believe that would be wise." Merlin shook his head, "Mulder has a definite aversion to secrecy. He may decide that the Kine represent a genuine threat, if not now, then in the future."

"He may have a point." Xander frowned, "You know as well as I do that groups like ours don't weather the test of time well without a lot of outside leveling."

"Agreed. However, the Kine do have something most of those groups do not."

"What's that?" Xander asked with a smile, already knowing the answer.

"Me." Merlin said, sounding arrogant as hell, but smiling slightly as well. "My ethical outlines are quite clear. I will not permit them to be crossed."

Xander nodded, "Good. I'll hold you to that. But I doubt that Mr Mulder will agree, or take either of our words for it."

"Indeed not." Merlin agreed. "It is unfortunate. He would be an ideal addition to an investigative branch... I often have difficulty differentiating human and demonic evils."

Xander sighed, but nodded. "Yeah. I know. Alright, keep an eye on him... Maybe something will change. In the meantime, have you got the rest of those support names prepared?"

"I have." Merlin replied, and Xander noticed his screen flash again. "These are the top one thousand names."

Xander closed his eyes, "Alright. Screen them all for Psyche profiles, but show me the list for coordinators and supervisors."

"Very well." A new list appeared, one that only took up two computer screens.

Xander flicked through them, eyeing the list curiously. "These all look fine... Why'd you add this guy?"

"Harold Stamper." Merlin replied instantly. "He's a driller by profession. Widely considered to be the very best... What interested me was that he is also something of a closet engineer."


"He's filed several patents for extremely sophisticated drilling tools." Merlin supplied. "Largely with no formal schooling on the subject."

"Alright. Good... Why's he listed as uncertain then?"

"Mr Stamper's psyche profile doesn't quite match with the people I'd prefer. He's prone to violence and has serious issues with his own position in the world." Merlin replied, "As we have little need for a driller at this time, it may be wiser to simply licence any of his patents as we need them."

"Your call." Xander nodded, "Who have you got to help get the fabricators back online?"

A new list appeared on the screen. It was depressingly short."

"Ten names." Xander sighed, "Alright. If their psyche profile shows ok... send them the offer."

"Done." Merlin replied a couple seconds later.

Xander smiled, "Good. In fact, send out offers to the entire bunch... Arrange for the Eagles to run as transport pilots for them..."

"Very good, Commander." Merlin replied. "I'll have the offers and contact numbers in the prospects hands by the end of the week."

"Good." Xander leaned back, glancing at the clock as he yawned. "I'm going to try to get a half hour's more sleep. Hal made me late, and now I have to go straight to school if I don't want to go over the time Flutey allowed me to take off."

"Very good Commander." Merlin said as he pulled back from the computer system and it went black.

"Where's Xander?" Willow looked around the group, a hint of worry in her eyes.

"Relax Red." Faith answered, "X is just running late. His plane didn't get in until a few minutes ago."

"Oh... Ok." Willow said, nodding as the group headed for the school. "W... what happened in Washington?"

"No clue, Red." Faith shrugged, hefting a book bag over her shoulder. "All X said when he checked in was that he'd done the job and was heading back."

"Oh... ok." Willow repeated, a little dissapointed.

"Oh look... It's the freak squad."

The sarcastic voice brought them all up short as Tara, Willow, and Jonathon flushed and avoided meeting the gaze of the trio of girls just ahead of them. Faith and Buffy didn't have that problem as they both glared daggers at the speaker. Jessie, well he just started drooling.

"So, where's the King Freak anyway?" Cordelia Chase asked, contempt dripping from her voice.

"Yeah." Harmony put in, "Where's the King Freak anyway?"

Cordy shot her a disgusted look, but didn't say anything as Aura laughed.

"Heh. King Freak. Heh."

"Hey shut up, Princess." Faith snapped, glaring at the three of them.

"Who do *you* think your talking to, Frosh?" Cordelia walked up to her, glaring.

Faith met her gaze unflinchingly, "I'm guessing that I'm talking to one of the football teams party favors."

Cordy's eyes went wide in shock, "You bitch!"

"Been called worse by better, Party Girl." Faith smirked. "Pardon me if I don't cry."

"I'll make you regret that, you cheap trailer park tramp." Cordelia hissed.

Fait shrugged, "Maybe you will. Maybe you won't. I ain't gonna lose no sleep over it, Party Girl."

Cordelia growled, but Faith just shoved past her and the group followed her as they walked up and into the school.

"Who does she think she is? She can't talk to you like that." Aura said in wonder, then she frowned. "Can she?"

"Oh Hell No." Cordelia snapped before marching into the school herself as the bell rung.

"Another unsolved X-File." Scully said sourly as they left the Ranger HQ and headed for the airport. "Go figure."

Mulder shrugged, "Maybe. But I have a feeling that we aren't done with this case."

"What makes you think that?" Scully demanded. "It's a dead end..."

"No... Just a temporary roadblock." Mulder returned. "Someone like this Harris person... doesn't just fade away. He'll be back."

"Yeah. Assuming we don't fall for his runaround again, why are we even looking for him??" Scully shook his head, "You've seen the brief... There ARE no charges outstanding on him. No reason given for hunting him down... just a detain on sight order with no reason."

"I know." Mulder's eyes gleamed. "And that's why I'm curious."

Maybourne stared at the report, blinking in rage. "He was seen WHERE??"

"In Washington Sir... if the report is to be believed."

"God DAMN it! How did he get there??"

"I don't know Sir."

"I want teams combing Washington! Have this Brognola person watched around the clock... God damn it... what the hell is this person!?"

"We've been what?"

"We've been called back. The Official recieved a tip that Dallas was just a decoy."

"Ok, cool. Let's go."

Hobbes sighed, "You have money for gas?"

"Huh? Why?"

"Because we're off Agency time now..."

"Oh you have GOT to be kidding me."

"The Justice department mole has reported that Harris was seen in Washington."


"This morning."

Nikita blinked, "He must have caught a connecting flight..."

"If he was ever here in the first place." Michael said softly. "Operations has called us back."

"Lovely." Nikita sighed, "I don't need him flaying us over bad intel."

Michael just shrugged."

General William Grey looked at the ink black card in his hand and sighed, laying it down on the dresser as he checked his suit and considered what he was going to do now. His Army pension was toast, but he had savings to hold him over in relative comfort.

But the time.

He suddenly had more time on his hands then he had ever wanted. Grey growled at himself in the mirror. Too much time.

His hand found the, now white, card again and he picked it up.

It turned ink black in his hand until he was looking at the huge letters of that one word that dwarfed the first word.


It sounded good.

Too good.


Grey lay the card down again, shaking his head as he turned away. Then he paused and grabbed the card from the dresser and picked up the phone. A moment after holding the card up to the mouth piece he heard an audible click and picked the phone up.

"Hello General." A voice said. "If you say the word, transport will arrive within twelve hours."

Grey took a breath. "Send it."

Then he hung up.

The End


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