Year One

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: Back to the beginning, where it all originated. It's Fall of 1996, School is soon to be in session, and the Hellmouth is awakening. 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.

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"Giles." Xander nodded, smiling lightly. "How are the girls?"

"They're both fine." Giles said, frowning lightly. "Might I ask how you managed to 'happen' to chance upon Tara? You didn't seem particularly eager to talk about it the various times I brought it up."

Xander sighed, glancing behind him and then around. "Look... G-man..."

Xander hesitated as Giles glared at him, but then continued, "It's a private matter."

"I see." Giles twisted his lips, rubbing the side of his face as he briefly wished to have his spectacles once again so he could clean them. "Xander... Her parents..."

"Had better hope they never see her, nor me, again." Xander said firmly, his eyes hardening enough that Giles backed away from the topic with alacrity.

"I... See." Giles nodded, and then sighed. "Very well. I hardly think it would be appropriate for girls, especially one Tara's age, to be living with myself however."

Xander nodded, "They'll live with me."

Giles' twisted his lips, "Oh, that's so much better."

"Relax." Xander waved his hand, "I've got it covered."

"I feel so much better." Giles muttered sarcastically. "You do understand that Sunnydale is not going to be 'safe' merely because we know much of the future?"

"I've got it." Xander nodded, "They can take care of themselves."

Giles nodded slowly, "Yes. I suppose that is true. Tara seems... stronger then I remember."

"Younger." Xander replied, "She's had four less years of being forced into a little box shaped world... She's got a lot of potential locked away."

"Indeed." Giles nodded, "So does young Willow..."

Xander hesitated, "Yeah. I know. But Willow scares me... We're going to have to take it one step at a time with her. I'd prefer that she didn't get her start in magic this time by casting a black magic curse..."

"Of course." Giles nodded, looking around. "I believe that our breakfast will soon be ready, and that odd man you are traveling with seems to be... antsy."

Xander chuckled, "Yeah. Jack get's like that."

"Where *did* you dig him up?" Giles asked, watching Styles approach with an old colonial jacket and Tricorn hat that was worn at an off angle with a rakish sort of tilt. Combined with the faded jeans, and modern military boots, it gave Styles a rakish looked with an odd mix of museum quality look and modern functionality. Giles couldn't quite place the name Xander had given for the man. <Styles... That does seem familiar.>

"You don't want to know." Xander grinned, "Trust me."

Giles shrugged and followed as Xander led him to the shared table the group had reserved for breakfast.

The entire group was arranged around the table, for the most part quietly eating their first meal of the day. For the most part because the girls and Jack were listening intently to the plans and problems facing their two companions.

"Buffy should be in town by the end of the week, if my information is right." Xander said, sighing.

Giles nodded, "That presents us with an interesting dilemma. I'm afraid that, with my past incarceration... the council has not entrusted me with her care."

Xander nodded, sighing. "Who're is likely to replace you?"

Giles sighed and considered, "If I recall correctled... The four most senior Watchers are Ms Post, Mr N'Butu, Ms Pryce... and, judging from past activities... Mr Wyndam Price."

Xander sighed, "If it's Post... you know what we'll have to do."

"Indeed." Giles nodded, "From the four, I believe that we should hope most fervently for Ms Pryce."

Xander leaned back, considering. "Ok. What are the odds?"

"Quite good actually." Giles said after a moment, "N'Butu should be in the process of training Kendra right now... He won't be taken from her unless things are quite dire."

Xander nodded, agreeing with the older man, but for different reasons. "Ok. What about Post?"

"I'm afraid that she is the one that I am least certain of." Giles admitted, "I believe that the odds are very much in her favor... probably split evenly between her and Ms Pryce."

Xander wasn't so certain of that, but he didn't want to say anything about it just yet. If his figuring was correct, Wesley Wyndham Price was a recent graduate of the academy, and if Travers' attitude at Faith's trial was correct... Xander was betting on meeting Wesley once more.

He didn't speak the thought aloud, in case he was wrong there was no need to mention it to Giles. The older man would undoubtedly see through it to it's natural conclusion if he did, and that wouldn't be a good thing. There was no reason to hurt Giles over a bad theory.

So he nodded, "Alright. Is the new Watcher likely to have the same cover?"

Giles frowned, "Possibly. Certainly, Ms Pryce, or Wesley would likely do the same job... it fits their training. The other two are less likely."

"Alright." Xander said again, picking at his food. "I've got my papers faked for last year's school... Mik's and Tara's too. We'll all be going back to school."

"School??" Mikki asked disdainfully. "Tried that. No good."

"Mik." Xander growled warningly, "You're going to school."

The young were huffed, folding her arms over her chest and glowered sulkily. Xander just shook a finger at her, "Young lady, I've been stared at with puppy dog eyes more times then you can count... I'm getting quite used to it."

"Dog!" Mikki exclaimed, scandalized.

Xander groaned, "Fine. Kitty cat. Happy now?"


Xander sighed, rubbing his nose. Then he looked at Giles, "How did you deal with this?"

Giles fished an old pair of spectacles from his shirt pocket and handed them to Xander. "Need a handkerchief to go with those?"

Xander just shot him a scowl and tossed them back at the older man.

"Would you like me to come with you?"

"No G-man." Xander said, again flinching at the glare he could feel coming from the older man. "I've got to do this myself."

"Alright." Giles nodded, leaning back against the black trans-am. He and Xander had come out this way after telling the others that they would meet up later to meet the realtor at the new home Xander had purchased.

Xander took a deep breath and strode forward to the door of the familiar house, the house he had been born in, and casually opened the door and went in.

"Hey Dad." Xander said softly, startling the man who was sitting in front of the TV.

Anthony Harris looked up in surprise, then quickly hid the expression from his face. "Huh. You came back."

Xander shook his head, "No. I'm just here to talk to you about something."

His father snorted, getting up and glaring mildly at him. "You've got nerve, kid. I'll give you that. You run away for a whole damned year, never call, and now you show up to 'talk'?"

"Shut up, dad." Xander said calmly, taking a breath.

"Who the hell do you think you're talking to!? I raised you, you little..."

Xander cut him off, "Dad. The Rosenberg's raised me. Hell, the *TV* raised me. You sure as hell didn't."

Then he sighed, waving a hand to cut off his father's angry response. "But you paid for it, I'll give you that Dad. You weren't the worst father a guy could have I guess... Even if you and Mom couldn't stand each other for more then a few hours at a time. You weren't the worst, I've seen much worse in the last year... So I know how bad I could have had it."

Anthony Harris opened his mouth to speak, but this time his son didn't have to tell him to shut up. He simply couldn't find the words when he tried to refute his son's opinion. Finally all he said was, "What happened?"

Xander huffed out in amusement, half smiling. "You know, Dad... That's the first time I can remember you ever asking me that question. Life happened, Dad. Life happened."

The elder Mr Harris frowned, suddenly uncertain how to deal with this young *man* standing in front of him. Had Xander shown up later in the day, Mr Harris would undoubtedly have consumed more then enough liquid courage to discover some words to cover it, but he suddenly realized that was probably the reason why his son had shown up when he did.

That thought didn't make the man feel terribly proud of himself.

"That doesn't matter right now." Xander said, straightening. "I've come back to town... to stay. And I need to get some things out of the way before I settle in. You're one of those things."

Anthony's mouth dropped. Who did his son think he was talking too?? He felt an anger rising in him as he visibly stiffened, "Now you listen to me...!"

"No Dad." Xander snapped, then relented after a moment and spoke more calmly. "No, Dad. You have to listen to me. I'm back. I'm here to stay. But I won't be coming home. I'm getting a house across town, closing escrow on it today. I don't want any problems with you about it."

Xander's father blinked in shock, "How the hell can you afford a house?? Listen to me, I don't know what dreaming you've been doing, but get real. You may not like it much, but you're MY son... I'm your father, and that's never going to change."

Xander nodded, "I know that, dad. But I've outgrown you."

As his father was blinking in shock, Xander calmly plucked a book from his pocket and tossed it to him. "Here Dad, I've got some good news..."

Anthony Harris opened the book, staring in shock at the logo of the First National Bank with his name printed carefully underneath it. Below that there was a deposit record, listing the account as holding one millions dollars.

"You just won the lottery." Xander said stonily. "Congratulations. I'd like to recommend an extended vacation... I could suggest some very nice south american destinations, if you like?"

<This can't be real.> Anthony Harris thought in shock as he stared at the account balance in the book. It *looked* real. But it couldn't be real. "This can't be real."

"It is." Xander said, letting out a long breath. "And I've got another one in my pocket for Mom."

"Where did you...?"

"It's legal." Xander said, still standing stock still. "That's all you need to know."

"I'm your *father* damn it!" Anthony Harris snapped angrily.

"Don't push me, Dad." Xander replied tensely. "You don't want to know how fast I could change that with the Lawyers I have on retainer."

Tony Harris blinked in shock at the venom floating under his Son's voice. He knew that he wasn't up for Father of the year, but he'd never realized that things had gotten that bad. "Alex..."

Xander just sighed, "Look... Dad... Just take the money. Quit your job. And go. I know you hate this town. I know you can't even stand being with Mom... any more then she can stand being with you. You two should never have gotten married."

"We... Your.. Your mother was..."

"Pregnant." Xander nodded, lip twitching, "Yeah. You've told me before."


"Dad... Having two parents doesn't do a kid any good if they hate each other." Xander said, walking around the room to the mantle that held the family photos.

There were two of them. One was a wedding photo, one was a baby photo of Xander.

"We don't... We didn't hate each other, Alex." Anthony tried, but even he didn't believe his words.

Xander didn't turn to look at him, "You know... I spent the last eight Christmases outside in the backyard because I didn't... No, I *couldn't* listen to the screaming. Not on that day."

Xander turned back, looking his father evenly in the eyes. "Dad, you gave up something for me... It may have been something real, it might just have been some fantasy world you constructed in your mind. But you gave it up when I was born... And then you set out to make Me and Mom pay for it for the last fifteen years."


Xander held up his hand, shaking his head. "I'm not blaming it all on you, Dad. Mom was no innocent in this either... Hell, I probably wasn't either... after a time. She gave up as much as you did, and for the same reasons. What I'm here to tell you... both of you..."

Xander shifted his gaze to where his mother had just appeared in the doorway, mouth slack in shock. "Is that those reasons are no longer valid."

"What are you talking about," Xander's mother asked, her lips half twisted as she looked on the two men in her life together for the first time in a year.

"This." Xander threw a small book at her and waited while she read it.

Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open. "How?"

Xander shrugged, "Legally. That's all you need to know. That's yours, I suggest you take a long vacation... away from Sunnydale and away from me. Preferably away from each other too. Maybe... Maybe you can figure out what you gave up and find it again."

With that, Xander turned around and started to walk out.


Xander paused, turning back to his mother. "Yes?"

"This is real?" She waved the book.

Xander snorted, nodding. "Yeah. It's real. The bank has an ATM card waiting for you... for you both. I really do suggest that you both consider a stop at the courthouse as well. I had a lawyer draw up divorce papers, I think you should sign them. Don't worry, the settlement is fair... and If you sign them, I'll personally arrange to liquidate the house and have it split evenly between you."

At the door, Xander looked back at them both. "Try anything else at the courthouse, against me or each other... and I'll have more lawyers on you so damned fast you'll think you're on LA Law."

Then he was gone.

Giles was waiting by KARR when Xander trudged back out. He nodded softly, waiting for Xander to speak.

Xander just walked around and got into the car.

Giles followed suit, still waiting.

They pulled away from the curb and headed back to the hotel, and were almost there when Xander finally spoke. "That was harder then I thought it would be."

Giles sighed, "We never spoke about your parent's Xander... not even after you returned that summer and they'd moved your things into the basement..."

Xander nodded, "They weren't so bad I suppose. Tara had worse."

"Perhaps. But you aren't Tara." Giles said, "And this isn't about her. It's about you."

Xander snorted, "I'll survive."

"Most assuredly." Giles said simply, "I never doubted that you would."

"Thanks." Xander said with a slight smile. "That means a lot to me."

"Xander, I've never had any doubts about your future." Giles said simply, "from the moment I got to know you, I've always known that you would succeed at whatever it was you chose to do."

Giles' sighed, "I did wish... I did hope that you would chose something other then this fight, however."

"Like what?" Xander half smiled, snorting, "Construction maybe? I blow things up, G-man. I don't build them."

"Perhaps." Giles sighed, "but it seems to me that you've begun to construct something quite extraordinary, Xander. Unless you feel what you did on Avalon was meaningless?"

Xander didn't respond as they pulled into the hotel lot.

Giles was quiet too, he felt he'd made his point.

Later, Giles and Xander drove with the rest of the group to the home that Xander had found through the realtor. Their three cars, KARR, Giles' rental 'Vette, and the realtor's sedan were parked outside a wrought iron gate as the group stared up the hill to the large white house.

"Good lord." Giles muttered in surprise.

"X... Xander?" Tara asked softly, "A... are you sure we're at the right place."

"Yeah, Tare." Xander smiled. "This is the place."

The house, mansion really, was the result of the booming real estate values just a little to the south of Sunnydale, especially about a decade earlier. As L.A. continued to expand, it seemed for some time that there would be no end to it, and a lot of speculators had overguessed the range of the boom.

The result was the fact that Sunnydale had several homes worth in the are of five to ten million dollars, and yet went for considerably less. The Chase mansion was one, and Xander's new property was one of the others.

The house was perched on the top of a rise that overlooked Sunnydale on one side, and the Pacific on the other. It was classic architecture, gleaming white and kept in near perfect shape by a maintenance man that the owners had employed for nearly five years now on the hope that they could unload the house, even at a loss.

They had managed that finally when Xander had purchased it for a cool three million less then a week earlier.

The house itself had all the amenities of the very rich, including some key things that Xander had been looking for himself. A large outdoor shooting range had been built behind the home, through a think glen of trees. A full size pool was located in an air conditioned glass enclosed space on the west side of the property, connected to the house.

In the basement was a full gym and a rather extensive library of books that Xander had no intention of ever reading. Most of them were first editions of one type or other, and had been purchased with an eye toward impressing rather then entertaining.

It had three floors, including seven baths, fourteen bedrooms, and all the standard requisites of such a home, including dining rooms, kitchen, den, sitting room, and so forth ad nauseum.

All of that had been nice, of course, but for Xander the selling points hadn't been on the realtors brochure. Not all of them at any rate.

First, there was a jetty below for pleasure boats. The jetty itself was far too small for the PT 579, but the water was deep, and more importantly the cove was sheltered from the worst weather and there was space enough to draw the big boat clear of the water once the right structures was put in place.

Second, Merlin had located an extensive cave network below the house, as existed through most of Sunnydale. According to the ground penetrating radar scans Merlin had managed to arrange of the are through some creative bookkeeping at the NRO, the caves accessed both the major network under Sunnydale and the ocean. Xander could see a lot of potential uses for that kind of access.

And finally, the house had a surrounding property of over thirty acres. Much of it wooded.

And that had been vitally necessary, both to shelter the occupants from neighbors, neighbors from occupants and potential threats, and to allow Mikki room to run.

"You like it?" Xander asked softly, smiling at Tara and Mikki as they stared at the gleaming white house in a kind of hopeful shock.

The realtor, a woman that Xander hadn't seen in person until today, couldn't help but smile as both girls smiled in a pleased kind of shock and nodded.

"Good." Xander said, looking over to the realtor. "I believe you have some papers for me to sign?"

A relatively short time later, Xander sat down in the 'den' of the huge house while the others were exploring. He already knew most of the layout by heart, and had simply grinned and let them at it when Mikki and Tara had asked permission to look around.

"Hey, it's your home now." He'd said, grinning. "Go on. You might like to stake out your rooms... but I'll warn you, Mine's already been chosen and the door is locked. Anywhere else if available though. Have fun."

He'd just snagged Mikki before she ran off, whispering. "There's one on the east side, second floor, with a door that opens on the orange grove..."

She'd spared him a grateful smile, and raced for the stairs.

Giles had gone downstairs upon hearing about the library, and Jack had sort of walked around dazedly. Xander wasn't sure which hit the spy harder, the fact that the house existed on this side of the continent, or the fact that he now had a room in one.

Xander shook his head and sat down by the phone. The hardline wouldn't be connected until the next day, but it felt right to sit there anyway as he pulled out his cell phone. "Merlin."

"Here, Commander."

"I need a scramble and secure line to Jack's office in the CIA.

"One moment." The AI faded for a second. "Done."

Xander nodded and waited for the phone to ring through.

"Ryan." Sir John Ryan said as he looked over an intel report.

"Hey Jack," Came a familiar voice over the line. "Saved the world lately?"

Jack's eyes widened as he grabbed for the receiver and took the phone off speakerphone. "Xan... I mean... is this who I think it is?"

"It's me, Jack." The voice assured him. "Back from my vacation. I want my car back, Jack."

"You shouldn't be calling here..." Jack hissed.

"Relax. You have three taps on your line... They're all disabled." Xander said smugly. "Incidently, you might want to check into some of those abc agencies, Merlin informs me that only one tap is legal."

Jack's eyes widened as he cursed silently. "You're damned right only one is legal. Now I have to find out who put the other two in here..."

"One was a military intel group called NID." Xander responded after a moment, "The other one is a group called Section One. I'd watch out for number two... I'm informed that their work was rather difficult to disable... it was hardwired into your office by hand."

"What!?" Jack shouted in shock, then looked around wildly before sitting back down and hissing, "What??"

"Just what I said, Jack." Xander replied, "Merlin's searching now... but he can't find anything more the whispers about them in the Government Database... That means they have secured servers and don't use any normal Government computers for their work."

Jack Ryan swallowed, "You say that it's been disabled?"

"Yep. But only until this call it over." Xander said apologetocally. "The NID tap was easy to knock offline. They'll have to replace it, but the Section tap wasn't. Merlin is currently scrambling their receiver with white noise... When we stop talking, they'll come back online."

"Shit." Jack cursed.

"Hey, Jack," Xander said, "I feel for you, but let's get back to the important stuff. My Car. Where is it?"

"CIA parking garage." Jack muttered.


"Hey, you wanted me to keep it at my house?"

"It might have been nice." Xander muttered.

"Not with that armory in it I wasn't." Jack reminded him, "Anyway. Relax. I checked it in under a phony ID. I can have it shipped to any address you want..."

Xander chuckled as Jack left his statement hanging, "I'm not telling you where I live, Jack. But if you ship my car to LA... the Train yard will do, and I don't find *any* homers or tails... then I might be persuaded to give you a contact number."

"Deal." Jack grimaced as he spoke, "You drive a painful bargain, you know that?"

"It's my car, Jack." Xander chuckled. "And, as I recall, I left it behind to do you a favor."

"You got paid for that favor."

"Jack, a hundred grand barely covers the car. And doesn't cover my gear inside it." Xander smirked into the phone. "So. We've got a deal?"

"Yeah." Jack Ryan sighed, "We've got a deal."

"Ok. Second thing," Xander grinned. "You ever hear of a guy named Jack Styles?"

Jack Ryan frowned, considering. The name was familiar for some reason, but he couldn't quite place it. After a moment his history professor past caught up to him and he suddenly nodded, "Yeah... Yeah, I have... Damn, I haven't heard that name in years. He was a major figure in the revolutionary war... Something of a joker I guess, apparently he really enjoyed torturing the british."

"Torture?" Xander frowned suddenly, "What do you mean?"

Jack laughed, "No thumbscrews, Xander... No, he'd drop laxative in a British forts water supply, then sit back in the woods and count the soldiers as they rushed for the river to get fresh water... Stuff like that."

Xander laughed out loud, nodding. "Yeah, that sounds like him."

"Why are you asking me about a revolutionary soldier?" Ryan sounded confused.

"No reason." Xander grinned, "I've got to go. I'll talk with you again... if you hold up your end of the deal."

"I'll get it done." Jack promised.

"Talk soon, Jack." Xander said, moving to hang up.

"Wait!" Jack called desperately.

"What is it?"

"We have to know, Xander... That Waterspout thing..."


"How'd you do that?"

Xander paused, considering what to say. His own stomach clenched as he considered the answer, finally he shook his head. "Jack... Believe me when I tell you... you do NOT want to know. I didn't want to know, but they told me anyway. I slept better at nights before I found out."

Then he hung up.

Jack Ryan stared at the phone for a long moment, then hung it up slowly.

After a long period of consideration, he lifted the phone again. Then stopped and stared at it again. Finally he hung it up and left his office.


"Yes, Mr Ryan?"

"There's a car down in storage. Belongs to an agent on field duty, I need to you cut it loose and arrange for shipment to LA."

"Yes Sir. What name, Sir?"

Jack Ryan smirked, "Alex Clark."


"What is it, Burkhoff?"

"Something strange on our CIA tap..."

"What do you mean, strange?"

"I mean... there's a fifteen minute period of static."

"Excuse me?"

"Something scrambled the tap for fifteen minutes. We don't know what was said in the office for that long, Sir."

"Find out what caused. Make sure it *never* happens again."

"Yes Sir."

"And Burkhoff?"

"Yes Sir?"

"Find out what Mr Ryan was talking about during that fifteen minutes... and who he was talking TOO."

"... Yes Sir."

"Colonel Maybourne, Sir."

"What is it, Soldier?"

"Our tap at the CIA has been located and disabled."

"Damn. Alright, talk to our sources inside the agency and see if they know who put it there. If not, we'll wait a few days and slip another one in."

"Yes Sir."

Xander sat back, thinking. "Merlin..."

"Yes Commander?" The AI's voice was tinny as it emerged from the cellular phone.

"Anything else on this... Section?"

"I'm afraid nothing of substance, Sir."

"I'll take what you've got..." Xander replied.

"One moment..." Merlin paused, "Do you have a computer available?"

"Just Tara's laptop."

"That will do. Ask her to reference www dot the lonegunmen dot com. Search their archive for 'Section'"

Xander nodded, "Alright. Thanks."

"You're welcome, Commander." Merlin replied before cutting the connection.

Xander sighed, shaking his head. Things were heating up in Washington, and it was only a matter of time before that came back to roost on his head as well.

He let out another long sigh and made his way out of the den.

If that was the way things were going to be, so be it. He'd do his best to be ready for the consequences as they came.

"Umm... Excuse me, Sir?"

"Burkoff? Did you get the information I wanted?"

"No Sir."

"Then what are you doing here?"

"Sir, immediately after that fifteen minute coversation, Jack Ryan authorized the shipment of a car in a CIA storage facility to a train depot in Los Angeles..."


"It's the best I could do, Sir."

"Alright. Call in Nikita and Micheal... prepare a brief for a mission to L.A."

"Yes Sir."

"Well? Go on..."

"Yes Sir."

"... Madeleine? Yes. Burkoff came through. Something in LA, I'm going to send Michael and Nikita. Alright. Good."

"That's it?"

"I... I'm afraid so." Tara nodded, looking at the screen.

"That's nuts." Xander concluded. "I don't know who these guys are, but their intel is all over the board. I happen to know for a fact that they credited this 'Section' group with at least three ops they didn't do."

"Ummm. How?"

"Because *I* did this one." Xander snapped, causing Tara to flinch back. "And The CIA handled those two."

Tara winced, nodding. "S... sorry."

"It's not your fault, Tare." Xander sighed, "I'm sorry for snapping. But this is useless information... These lone gunmen are just guessing."

"Sorry." Tara repeated.

Xander shook his head, "It's ok, Tare. Section must simply be good at what they do. If Merlin can't pin down any information on them, then they aren't connected to any government networks. He's pretty much plugged into all of those. What does that leave us?"

"Private ones?" Tara suggested hesitantly.

Xander shrugged, nodding her head. "Yeah... maybe. They must have *some* connection into government computers though. They can't possibly run a group without access to those resources."

Xander sighed, thinking about it for a long moment before shaking his head. "I really hate mysteries... But we don't have time right now. We've got to go into town."

"W... we do?" Tara asked, eyes wide.

Xander nodded, "Yeah. All of us. Come on, let's grab Jack and Mikki."

"Ok, just like I told you, Jack..." Xander said, "You remember everything?"

"What do I look like? Of course I remember." Styles replied in a huff, shrugging Xander off.

Xander shrugged and nodded, and let Styles walk on ahead.

"May I help you Sir?"

Styles smiled at the woman, "Yes. It seems that I've lost my ID while I was on vacation... Pretty much all of it."

"I see." The clerk said crisply, tapping information into the computer. "I'll need your name?"

"Jack Styles."

"Date of birth..."

"22nd of june 17... uh, I mean 1958..." Styles stammered out.

"Right..." The woman shrugged and tapped the information in. "Ok, Sir, I need your Social Security Number and current address..."

Jack swallowed, rattling off the number Xander had given him, and then relayed the new address to the 'house' Xander had bought.

"Very good, Sir." The woman smiled after a minute, "We'll get your new card ready for you in just a moment... You'll have to visit your health insurance company, the DMV, and contact your credit card companies as soon as possible."

"Thanks, miss...?"

"Lindsey." The blonde smiled at him, "Erica Lindsey."

"Well, thank you very much Erica." Jack winked at her as they processed his 'new' card. "Say, I'm new in town and I was wondering if you'd consider showing me around?"

Erica looked up at the man, who was smiling invitingly down at her and held up her hand. "Married."

"Oo..." Jack winced, "Too bad."

"Here's your card, Mr Styles." Erica handed the card over to Styles who accepted it with a bit of a flourish. "If you need to replace your passport, there are application forms on the table behind you."

"Thanks again, Erica." Jack winked, then turned away.

Erica bit her lip as he walked off, shaking her head as she smiled slightly to herself, then turned to the next client. "May I help you Sir?"

"Get it?"

"Got it." Styles held up the card, examining it. "What's so important about this thing anyway?"

"It establishes you as a person in the states." Xander grinned, "If you're not in the computers, it makes it tough to do thaings like get a job, drive a car, or own a gun. Legally at least."

"Great..." Jack looked at it. "That was easy to get."

"Harder then you think." Xander shrugged, rifling through the ID's and cards he'd acquired in Mikkia and Tara's names. "Merlin had to sneak into the Government computers and slip your name into the files. But hey, why pay for fakes if you can get the Government to issue you the real deal?"

Jack grinned, "You know, I think I like you kid."

Xander smiled, pointing the way back to KARR. "Come on. Let's grab a bite to eat. I know a good place down the road."

"What is it, Jono? You look like you've seen a ghost."

"Isn't that Xander over there? Getting into that Trans-am?"

Jessie spun around, just in time to see the door of the car in question slam shut and watch the car pull away. "You sure?"

"No... but it looked like him."

Jessie glanced over at his friend, "Come on... Sunnydale isn't a huge place. Let's go after him."

The two of them ran over and jumped into Jessie's car. "But that better not be Xander. For his sake."

"H... how come?"

"Because if he gets to drive a Classic Trans-am and I'm stuck with a VW, I'm going to break his legs." Jessie vowed with an evil grin as he pulled the bright red volts from the curb and headed down the street after the black car.

"Xander, we are being followed."

Xander frowned, glancing down at the display that KARR was putting on it's screen. "Who would be..."

Then he grinned, "Ok, relax. It's a friend of mine."

Xander thought about it, smirking. "KARR... lose him."


"Look, he's pulling in.... whoa!" Jon started as the black sports car suddenly hit the gas and squealed around in a 90 degree turn away from it's previous path, heading down another road.

Jessie switched lanes and headed after it, "Man, if that's Xan, he needs to get a new driving course..."

"He's going for the Crestwood area..."

"That's a cul de sac." Jessie grinned, "We'll be able to see the driver when the car turns around.

The 'chase' wound through the peaceful road, down to the end where the road slipped into Crestwood graveyard and looped around on itself. Jessie slowed as he arrived in the area. "Where is he?"

"He couldn't have gone far..." Jessie puzzeled. He pulled the car to a stop, looking around carefully.

"Alright KARR... Let's put on a show." Xander grinned, after confirming that no one was around to see anything besides his two friends. He reached down and pushed a flashing button.

"Whoa!" Jessie screamed in shock as the car appeared from under a grove to their right and ran straight at them, appearing to be planning on ramming. He had just long enough to actually thank Xander in his mind for buying a car with reinforced side door beams.

Then the car roared and all he saw was it's underbelly as it flashed up and over them.

"Holy..." Jono muttered in shock, staring with wide and unblinking eyes as the car crashed down ont he other side of them and flashed out of the cemetary.

"Yeah..." Jessie said, a little stunned. "Holy..."

"Xander?" Jon asked.

Jessie shook his head, "No way."


Xander looked back over his shoulder and laughed. "KARR you are one *scary* piece of work."

In the back, Tara was holding onto Jack's seat for dear life while Mikki was bouncing up and down and laughing wildly. Jack, for his part, was mildly annoyed. "Hey, can we get something eat now?"

A man picked up a ringing phone on the third ring.


"Yeah... Never heard of them. That bad huh?"

"Alright. I'll see what I can dig up... why not? Fine. Ok. Have a ticket... make that two, waiting at the airport by tomorrow. First class."

"Same deal as always. Standard pay, expenses, and completion bonus."


The man hung up the phone and half turned. "We've got a job stateside. Get packed."

"'Bout time. Nice country to visit, but I'm tired of living here."

"Don't complain. It could always be worse."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Smart ass, punk."

"Hey Giles," Xander greeted the former watcher with a grin as the older man got out of his rented 'Vette.

They'd had a few days to settle into Sunnydale now, all the while trying to keep a low profile from the entrenched powers and, in Xander's case, old friends that might know them. It wasn't that he really wanted to duck Jessie and Willow, but he'd rather not have them looking over his shoulder while he was entrenching *himself* into Sunnydale's infrastructure.

"Good day, Xander." Giles smiled, looking over the huge house once more. "You do realize that this seems a little... over the top?"

Xander shrugged and grinned, "Hey. It's fits my cover story perfectly."

"Oh, and what pray tell, is that?"

"My parents cashed in on a powerball lottery." Xander winked, "Seems that they've become jet setters to the world now... and left poor little old me at home to fend for himself."

Xander sighed theatrically.

Giles snickered, "Ingenious, I'll admit... Some people have all the luck I suppose?"

"Yeah," Xander sighed again, "So while my parents are off in London, Paris, Madrid, or more likely Vegas, I'll just have to get by in this old mansion on my own. Say, Giles..."

Giles looked over at him, "Yes?"

"Being British and all, you don't know any Alfred types I could hire do you?"

"Sod off." Giles snapped, shaking his head.

"Too bad. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find help with a security clearance higher then the President's?" Xander grinned.

"The problems of wealth." Giles muttered, smiling slightly to the side as the two of them started to walk around the terrain. "When is Maria due in?"

Xander pointed down toward the small cove below the mansion, "I've got a work crew down there, reinforcing the dock for the 579... With the new modifications we put on it, it doesn't need nearly as much shelter as it used too, but I told Maria to stay in Santa Carla for a while after that last boat show."

Giles nodded, "I see."

"Faith should be flying back from Boston tonight." Xander said, "Her plane should be in by ten. You want to come along to pick her up?"

"Certainly." Giles replied, "How is she? You talked to her last?"

"She's fine. Had a bit of excitement there last week, but she handled it nicely." Xander smiled, "Merlin had to run interference for her when she tried to call home though."


Xander nodded grimly. "Looks like her cover with us isn't quite covered. Someone ID'd her."


Xander shook his head, "I don't know. I wish I did..."

"Bugger." Giles cursed.

"With interest." Xander replied with feeling, then sighed. "One week to the start of school..."

Giles nodded, "Indeed. Shall we deal with the Master immediately?"

"That would probably be best." Xander nodded, "I don't want to lose anyone to the Harvest. Not one soul."

"Very well. Let's wait for Faith though, shall we?"

"You got it." Xander half smiled, then nodded back to the house. "Come on, I've had Andy ship up some gear for us... I want to check you out on one of his retrofitted P90's. He tells he that he managed to fix the clip problem..."


"Yeah," Xander nodded, "Good guns, but I dropped a half full clip once... what a mess. Good thing it was on a range, or else I'd have been in trouble."

"I see." Giles said, frowning. He wasn't really up to date on firearms, aside from his own hand guns.

"Yeah, anyway, Andy thinks he's got it fixed..." Xander grinned, "Just between you and me, I took his word for it about two and a half seconds after he told me... But don't tell him. He thinks that the six guns he shipped up here this weekend were for evaluation purposes."

"Oh?" Giles grinned, "And why is that?"

"Because Andy already knows he's the best." Xander grinned, "I don't want him to know that I know it too."

Giles chuckled, "Good plan."

The two men laughed as they made their way toward the range.

The chatter of the compact submachine gun died down as Giles let the muzzle slip toward the ground and eyed the target down range.

"Nice grouping." Xander nodded, coming up beside him and shucking the protective head gear.

Giles nodded, pulling the long stick clip from the top of the P90. "Thanks. Did Andy change the weight on these? They feel a little heavier... more solid."

"Yeah," Xander nodded, "That's a combination of the silver ammo and a couple retrofits he did to the frame of the gun. Brings a little more weight to the front, holds the muzzle down on autofire."

Giles nodded, stripping the gun and laying the parts out on the table they'd set up. "I'm not overly familiar with the design, but I think I like the changes."

Xander grinned, "I almost always like Andy's changes."

"Indeed." Giles smiled, "You know... Something occurs to me, Xander."

"What would that be?"

"You think that we'll meet Wesley when we find out who Buffy's new Watcher is... don't you?"

Xander hesitated, "Giles... I..."

The older man smiled, nodding. "You do. I thought so. I read it in your face when we talked about it before."

Xander sighed, "Yeah, Giles. I do."

Giles nodded, sighing himself. "I'm afraid I agree with you."

The two of them stood in silence for a long while before Xander spoke. "I'm sorry Giles."

"I'm not." Giles shook his head. "I did my job. My Slayer lived. So what if the council set me to Sunnydale to die, or worse... fail. I beat them."

Xander nodded, "Yeah. You did that, Giles. You did that."

Giles snarled, a sound that sent a shiver up Xander's spine, slapped a full clip into the P90 he was carrying, and spun around, unleashing the full slip on the target down range.

The paper target was shredded after the first five rounds, the next forty five turned the wooden backing into sawdust.

When the P90 clicked back empty, Giles dropped the weapon unceremoniously down on the table and Xander smiled. "Feel better?"

"Just barely." Giles smiled ferally, Dan'aal shimmering into existence in his hand. He whipped his hand around and flung the sword through the air. It flipped end over end through the air, and sliced neatly through the second target.

As the wood target fell apart, the top of it slapping to the ground with a loud smack, Giles summoned the sword back to his hand and bared his teeth. "Now I feel better."

"Right..." Xander rolled his eyes, <Man, G-man's pissed off. I thought only Ethan could push his buttons like this.>

"Let's go inside." Giles said, scooping up the P90. "I want to do some reading before we meet Faith at the airport."

"Huh? Why?"

"Because," Giles smirked. "It relaxes me... and with Faith back in town, it might be the last chance I have."

At ten forty five, local time, Faith Williams, aka Dana Tasker, trudged off her flight and made her way through the gates. The flight hadn't been too bad, but she'd been stuck next to a howling kid for the entire duration, which had also gone over schedule by forty five minutes.

In short, Faith's temper was to the point where she had been seriously considering turning evil again so she could cheerfully strangle the girl's parents.


She turned and smiled for the first time since saying good bye to the Brothers and Robert. "Xander! G! God am I glad to see someone older then five years old."

Xander and Giles looked at each other in confusion.

Faith paused, then smirked, "Well... It'd be even nicer if you acted older then five years old though."

"You know, Giles..." Xander said dryly, "I think we've been insulted."

"Indeed." Giles suddenly smirked, "Though I suppose it's better to act like five year olds... then it is to look like one."

"Oh... That's it, you poor excuse for a peeping tom!" Faith growled, taking a few steps toward Giles. "You want to go? Come on..."

Giles practically sneered at her, his voice laden with amusement. "Why? You need a babysitter?"

Xander slipped between them, eyes wide as he stopped Faith. "Calm down. Jeez, you two... You want to tone it down a little in public?"

Faith stopped, eyeing Giles carefully. "Oh you're gonna get it for that, G. You know it!"

Giles just smirked, chuckling. "Any time, Faith... but we'd best put it off until tomorrow... Unless I miss my guess, it's past your bed time."

Faith's eyes widened, but Xander slapped a hand over her mouth before she could say anything.

<Jesus!> Xander thought as he glared at Giles, <Man, what's up with G-man?? I'm not supposed to be the adult of the group! It's not natural.> "Guys... Guys... Let's take this out of the airport... people are staring."

After physically keeping Faith from taking a swing at Giles, Xander drove them back to the mansion. "Hey Faith, where's Robert? I thought he was coming with."

"No. He'll be in town in a week or two. He wanted to get a few things straightened out, pick up some stuff he has stashed. You know the drill."

Xander nodded, "Yeah... Cool."

"So what's on the horizon, X?" Faith asked, leaving forward while taking great pains to not look at Giles.

"Master's Cave." Giles' responded.

"Did you change your name lately, G? Cause I sure as hell remember asking Xan over here." Faith muttered.

"Would you two cut it OUT!?" Xander snapped finally. "God damnit! What the hell is wrong with you?? Giles, act your age! Faith... just..."

Giles snickered as Xander trailed off while looking for something to say.

"Oh I hope you've got another research dude lined up, X. Cause I'm gonna kill this one real quick." Faith muttered.

"KARR... take over driving." Xander said softly.


Xander waited for the AI to take over, and then he smacked his head against the steering wheel and groaned.

"The master huh?" Faith asked, mostly just to hear something other the moving of bodies and the click of weapons.

"The master." Xander replied cooly, tossing her a bit of material.

"What's this?" She asked, catching the black swath of cloth.

"Kevlar balaclava." Xander said, not looking at her. "Put it on."

"What? Are you kidding me? It's fucking sweltering out!"

"Put it on." Giles repeated Xander's order. "It's cut and puncture resistant. If a vampire gets you, it'll have a hell of a time getting it's fangs into your neck."

"Besides." Xander looked up and walked over to her. "We want to cover our faces. I'm not ready to be outed to the demon population just yet."

Faith sighed, "You're the boss, boytoy."

Xander snorted, extending his hand and dropping a pistol into hers. Faith frowned at it, "What..."

Then she recognized the gun, and looked up at Xander questioningly.

"It's not a machine pistol." Xander said, turning away again. "But it's a good gun, and I'm pretty sure you're a little familiar with it."

Faith nodded, dropping the clip out of the Five Seven he'd given her, noting that it was full up, and slapping it back in. Then she racked the slide and grabbed for a hip holster from the supply that Xander had accumulated.

"You not going to reconsider, G-man?" Xander asked.

"Sorry, no." Giles smiled slightly. "I'm comfortable with my own weapons. Thanks."

Xander nodded, closing up the case of Five Seven pistols and slapping a padlock on it. "Suit yourself. Just pack a few extra clips... We won't be able to swap with you."

"No problem." Giles smirked.

"Something in case of melee." Xander announced, pressing the switch on a remote.]

The one thing that was completed in the currently cluttered armory under the Mansion was the locked vault that contained the swords, knives, and various other implements of close quarters death that Xander had collected and purchased recently. Upon receiving a signal from the remote, two large sections of the wall clicked and swung open to reveal a shallow vault behind, replete with weapons.

The back side of the swinging doors was also full of weapons of a more traditional nature then the firearms that were their first line of attack.

"Warriors choice." Xander smiled slightly. "I've already got mine."

Giles and Faith nodded and approached the case, looking on with interest.

"Nice selection." Giles nodded, "But I too already have my primary weapon for such cases... still..."

Giles pulled a pair of SAS daggers from the case, then added a half dozen silver inlaid Gibbon throwing knives. "This should do nicely."

Faith's lips twitched, "You know how to get to a girls heart, X."

"I like to think I have a way with people." Xander grinned.

Faith reached out and pulled two matching carbon steel tomahawks from the case, smiling as she flipped the perfectly weighted weapons around in her hands. "Oh yeah..."

"They're you, Faith." Xander nodded, grinning.

Faith nodded, flipping the tomahawks around a couple more times before slipping them easily into breakaway sheaths on her thighs.

"Most certainly." Giles nodded in approval.

To compliment her weapons choice, Faith selected a gleaming Tanto blade and a small colt flip knife from the case before deciding that she was done.

"Alright." Xander nodded. "The rest of the mission load is already loaded. You taking your car, Giles?"

Giles nodded.


"I'm with you, babe." The Slayer smirked.

"God help me." Xander muttered, but then nodded. "Let's move out."

The three of them met again near the school, just after midnight.

"Everyone ready?" Giles asked, his voice a little jumpy as if he was wired.

"Yeah. F?"

"I'm good, X."

Xander pulled a titanium prybar from KARR's trunk and jammed it into the manhole cover they were standing nearby. He straightened up and looked at the other two and, upon receiving nods Xander kicked the prybar and sent the cover flipping into the street.

Faith instantly moved to cover the hole. "Movement!"

Xander nodded, producing a pair of objects from his harness and popping the pins. He crossed his arms as he tossed them into the hole. "Clear."

The three stepped back for a moment as to loud cracks sounded from underneath and the underground lit up like daytime, causing a brief pillar of light to reach for Sunnydale's night sky.

"Go! Go!"

Faith dropped through the hole first, followed by Giles a second later. As soon as her feet htit the ground she moved forward, clearing the path for the mage. She led the way with her P90 as Giles covered the rear, the two of them sorting out the motion from below.

Xander touched down behind her with a whisper of sound that even her enhanced hearing almost missed.

"Got a vamp here." She announced, checking on of the groaning bodies.

"Dust." Was Xander only response.

"Done." She announced a second later, after having driven the vamp's own ribs through it's heart.

"Looks like a Bracken here!" Giles announced.

"Pass." Xander responded, moving over to Giles.

Giles nodded and moved on.

Xander knelt by the stunned demon, "Wrong time, wrong place pal. You'll be alright... don't move until we're gone though... and when we do, I suggest you go north... fast."

The demon looked up at his masked face, seeing only the eyes of a killer behind the balaclava, and nodded in terror.

Clean up took three minutes, and netted the trio four more vampires and a Korath demon that had a collection of human skulls on it's belt. The vamps were dust before they moved on, and the Korath's belt had one more skull next to it.

"Which way?" Faith asked softly as they came to an intersection.

Xander, his senses augmented to the best of his ability without going into hyper, glanced along both tunnels and sought out the memory. Finally he nodded to the right, "This way."

"You sure?"

Xander nodded, he wouldn't forget that night. Not now, not ever. "I'm sure."

The three of them doubled timed it down along the sewer, moving almost silently as they ran. It didn't take long before the concrete of the sewers started to give way to the rough hewn tunnels that mined the Sunndale area.

"Vamp!" Faith hissed a second after Xander too had noted the creature.

Their P90's stuttered together, rending the vampire's heart and tossing it back against a wall as it dusted.

"Faster." Xander said. "Don't give them time to get ready."

The three of them nodded and increased their pace through the tunnels.

"Master!" The minion vampire came rushing into the large cave, "Master... uhhh..."

Luke and Darla spun around to glare at the young vampire, "Silence!"

The water bubbled from the center of the room, and the vampire would have paled if he'd recently fed. "I'm sorry... I didn't..."

The bubbling parted and the ancient, disfigured, visage of the Master rose from it. The water seemed to run off him like he was made of teflon, or coated in oil, and by the time he had stepped onto the hard rock of the cave he was completely dry.

The Master looked around, growling almost subsonically. "Why do you DARE disturb me?"

"Master... There are intruders in the tunnels!"

The three elder vampires glanced at each other for a moment, puzzled. "What kind of intruders?"

"Ones with guns, Master."

Luke laughed, "Guns don't bother us. Be gone..."

"Silence, Luke." The Master frowned.

Darla nodded, "Yeah. Gun's don't kill us... but they hurt like hell."


"What?" Darla snapped, looking at the hesitant expression on the vampire's face.

"These guns..."

Before the vampire could finish it's message, a short burst of sound roared through the cave and it's eyes opened wide in shock. The eyes of the elder vampire's opened wide as well, when the youth suddenly burst into dust.

"He was trying to tell you..." A female voice came from the tunnel entrance. "That these guns DO kill vampires."

"Who dares!?" The master thundered in rage.

Three figures seemed to melt out of the shadows, all dressed in black with hoods over their heads and their faces covered but for their eyes. Weapons hung from them in a deceptively casual manner, but the way they walked marked each of them as the most dangerous of warriors.

"We do." Said a very self satisfied voice, one with a British accent. "You blokes got a problem with that?"

Xander and Giles fanned to the sides as Faith held the center, each of them covering the three vampire's in the cavern with their P90 submachine guns.

Giles looked around, almost amused. "So, this is the big scary Master's home... A little spartan, a throw rug would do wonders for it."

Xander frowned, glancing over. "Isn't that supposed to be my line, G?"

Giles smirked under his balaclava. "Not if I get there first."

Xander shook his head, <Man. Either that new sword's really fucking with the G-man's head, or I'm just losing my touch.>

<Daan'aal isn't precisely the same as I, Alexander.> Elan replied, somewhat enigmatically. <But this is not the time to pursue it.>

<Right.> Xander squarely focused his sights on the center of Darla's chest and his lips curled under his own balaclava. "Hello again, Darla. You should have killed me when you had the chance."

"Do I know you?" The vampiress asked.

Xander shook his head, "No. But we met... once."

"And yet you live." The Master tsked, "Darla... you *are* losing your touch."

Xander shrugged, "Guys?"

"Ready." faith responded.

"Always." Giles said.

The three of them opened up, Giles aiming for Luke while Faith took the Master.

The snarl of the three submachine guns roared through the cave, rending the air as the sound echoed and reverberated through the cavern. And then it was over, and all three warriors let their empty weapons fall until they pointed at the ground.

"What the...?" Xander muttered in shock.


"Bugger all."

Across the cave, the three Vampires were equally shocked as they stared at the pattern of bullets that hovered in the air, stopped by the same mystical barrier that held the Master captive. The Master himself recovered first, forcing a smile. "It would seem that you don't have the advantage after all."

The three of them cast their P90's aside, glowering at their protected foes.

"Shit." Faith cursed simply, "Don't tell me we can't get to them."

"We have to be able to." Xander muttered, "Bu.... *She* was able to get in here."

"The Prophecy." Giles muttered, his eyes searching the room, as if for answers. "Perhaps..."

"Perhaps what, G?" Faith snapped.

<Shift your senses, Alexander.> Elan commanded.

Xander instantly did as she ordered, taking in all the power that was present in the room. It was very nearly blinding until his mind automatically narrowed the aperture to let less of the glare in.

The entire area was bathed in a hellish red light, one that matched the aura's of the Vampires so well that they were nearly lost in it's all permeating glow. Xander and his companions stood out against that glow like candles in the dark, his own Silver and electric blue aura being complimented by the fiery red and purple that was faith, and the gold and green that marked Giles.

The problem in the room, was the forboding black wall of force that stood between them and their prey. "You see that, G-man?"

"Indeed." Giles frowned, "It's black magic... very powerful."

The Master and his two most powerful minions didn't have the patience to wait for their would be assassins to finish analyzing the situation. "They've intruded on my lair. They must DIE."

Luke started to lumber forward automatically in response to the command, but Darla stopped him with a hand. "Don't be an idiot."

Luke growled at her, but paused. "And what do you suggest?"

She paused, looking out at the three intruders and smiled. "This."

The ancient cave had been home to the Master for over a century, and his minions had accrued many trophies from their conquests in that time. It was one of those that Darla pulled from it's resting place and leveled on the one of the three that had recognized her.

"Xander!" Faith snapped as she caught the motion of the blond vampiress.

Xander shifted his senses back in time to see the crossbow and hear the twang as the bolt left it. He was already moving, instinctively drawing his Five Seven's against any possible threat, and merely shifted gear slightly.

His senses hyper-extended, and he felt the sleepy sensation of slowing pass over him.

He pulled a single Five Seven from it's holster, flipping it neatly in his hand, and caught the barrel. As the bolt flashed toward his throat, Xander slipped to one side and extended his pistol, butt first.

The Bolt passed through the trigger guard of the weapon, and suddenly time returned to normal as Xander twisted the gun hard.

The crossbow bolt splintered in mid air, pieces raining down around Xander's feet as he flipped the gun back and fired a burst straight at Darla in instinctive retaliation.

The bullets spattered off the invisible shield, causing the blond vampiress to flinch back, but little else.

"Damn." Xander cursed, lowering his gun.

"Impressive." The Master said softly, looking at the three of them with new light. "Darla..."

"Yes Master?"

"Summon more of my minions."

"Xander..." Giles hissed, "Did you see that?"

"What?" Xander looked over, confused.

"When you fired your weapon." Giles muttered, "You must have seen it. The barrier changed!"

Xander looked back to the three vampires, his eyes narrowing. "I had to lose the second sight to stop the crossbow bolt, G-man."

"Then look again..."

Xander nodded, shifting his view to the mystic again and leveling his pistol on the barrier. The Five Seven blared again, sending the silver bullets flashing into the barrier. Before they impacted the black barrier, one of gleaming white magic snapped into place, intercepting the bullets in mid air.

Xander's eyes widened, "That was..."

"White magic. Yes, I know." Giles muttered.

"What the hell is going on here, G?" Faith asked.

"It would appear that we are not to be permitted this action." Giles snarled, his voice laden with anger.

Xander growled himself, not liking this one bit. "By both sides? Why??"

"Prophecies." Giles said in disgust. "The codex prophecy protects him."

The implications of that were just setting in on Xander when the first wave of minions burst into the cavern from behind the Master.

"Get them." The master snarled.

At least thirty vampires had been in the caves further in, and now they charged past the Master and his eldest, all intent on ripping Xander, Faith, and Giles limb from limb.

"Back!" Xander snapped, pulling two objects from his harness. "Out! Out! Out!"

Faith and Giles drew their weapons as they fell back, laying down fire and dusting several vamps as they passed the mystical barrier.

Xander waited, letting the spoons flip off the grenades in his hands, counting down the seconds. Then he grinned wildly under his balaclava and tossing the two lethal eggs into the cavern. As he ducked out of the cave, both White Phosperous grenades detonated in the small confines of the cave.

"Good lord!" Giles muttered, hearing the shrieks and hissing from behind him. "What was that?"

"Willy Pete." Xander grinned, slapping Giles and Faith on the backs. "Now run! This mission just got scrapped. We can't assassinate the Master, and we're NOT equipped to take on every vampire in Sunnydale so move IT!"

"Indeed." Giles nodded, and soon the three of them were rapidly retracing their steps through the tunnels.

"Vamp!" Faith snapped, feeling her stomach clench. It wasn't a reliable way to detect them in Sunnydale, the essence of the vampires was so effectively masked by the Hellmouth itself, but occasionally she could still feel it come through.

Xander half turned as he kept running, and fired three shots into the hulking form of Luke as the huge vampire came barreling after them.

He missed the heart, but Luke went down in pain, revealing a small horde of them that were following. Xander kept firing, dusting some, temporarily crippling others, until his pistol clicked dry. "I'm out!"

Giles spun around, half running backwards as he opened fore with his score masters.

They were almost back to the manhole when Giles' weapon clicked dry. "Out!"

Faith spun around, dropping to one knee as she opened up with her Five Seven, and fired in a slow methodical fashion. Behind her, Xander cupped his hands and Giles nodded, planting a foot in them as Xander launched him to the manhole.

"Hurry it up, X!"

Xander didn't respond, he just jumped up and caught Giles' lowered hand. His feet vanished from sight just as Faith's pistol clicked dry.

She didn't bother to announce the fact, she just spun around and jumped.

Xander caught her hand easily, and pulled hard just as about fifteen vampires overwhelmed the position below them. As Faith clambered out and onto the asphalt, Xander glanced over to Giles. "Cover!"

"Coming!" Giles flipped the solid cover up and rolled it to Xander.

Xander caught it fast, slamming it down as the first vampire got his fingers onto the top of the hole. The cover mashed the bone and flesh, mangling the vampire's fingers and finally cutting them off. Below them, the trio could hear cursing and screaming from below.

"Damn." Faith muttered.

"Indeed. I believe we should make haste and depart?"

"Yeah." Xander muttered, "Let's beat feet."


"The package was placed on this train," Seymour Birkoff pointed to the hovering image of a line that was making it's way across country. "Our contact in the Agency says that it's a car, listed a belonging to one Alex Clark."

"Clark?" Micheal asked softly, looking up.

"That's right."

"Alex Clark? You're sure it's not John Clark?"

Seymour frowned, "No. The list definitely says Alex."

Michael nodded, leaning back.

"The train left the station a few hours ago." Seymour said, "It'll be in LA next Friday."

"Good." Operations said calmly. "I want a surveillance team ready to identify the person who picks it up."

"What's the package?" Nikita asked from where she was sitting.

Seymour grinned, "A car."

"A car?" Nikita asked, mildly puzzled.

Birkoff nodded, "A classic, restored, Dodge Charger... Nice finish too aparently."

"Nice." Nikita smiled slightly.

"Enough." Operations muttered, "It doesn't matter what it is. I want to know why our tap went dead for that fifteen minutes. It must have something to do with this... Alex Clark. Birkoff... dig up his file from the Agency."

"Yes Sir."

"Well..." The Master glowered as he stared over the cave he called home.

Half of it, cut almost perfectly down the middle, was unchanged. The other half, however, looked as if it had been burned to the bedrock.

Which, of course, it had.

There were dark splotches of burn marks where more of the phosphorus had burned then in others, and the dirt itself still smoked. Whatever magic sealed him in this cave had protected the Master and his minions, but the stench of the burning wasn't prevented from irritating his nose.

Idly the Master reached out and ran his hand along the barrier that prevented him from leaving and he again watched the shimmer of magic that distorted the air as he ran his hand along it.

"It would appear that the Mayor is not my only enemy." The Master said after a time.

"He could have hired them." Luke protested.

"I think not." The Master said camly. "No, had he desired or been able to kill me, he'd have done so before this. The Mayor knows where I am... Indeed, he sealed me here with his infernal magics... No, this smacks of another source."

Luke was silent, accepting the quiet chastening without protest.

"Then who?" Darla asked, "Who else would know where to find you?"

The Master turned away, hands clasped behind his back. "We must have a turncoat in our midst. Someone has informed this enemy of our position... What is our current strength?"

"Badly depleted." Luke responded. "We lost at least thirty of our brethren in the attack."

"Thirty." The Master muttered in disgust, "Thirty lost... as a side effect."


"They were here to kill ME," The Master said, "Not fledglings. Those deaths were... casually done. After thoughts."

"Sure not!"

"Do not be a fool, Luke." The Master snapped. "Had they come here hunting vampires with such weapons, it would have been much wiser to bring an army. No... That was an assassination force."

The Master paused, frowning. "Darla..."

"Yes, Master?"

"Call the Terakan. Ensure that they have nothing to do with this... and then..."

"And then what?"

"And then have one of their teams placed on retainer." The Master said after a moment. "If the Terakan didn't do this, of course."

"And if they did?"

The Master snarled, "Then they will have more to worry about then a failed contract."

"Yes, my Master." Darla bowed her head and withdrew.


"Yes Master?"

"Replenish out numbers." The Master snarled. "I don't care if you have to drain this entire pathetic town..."

"The Mayor?" Luke began to object.

"His time is up." The Master snarled. "The Harvest is soon, and when that comes to past I will personally feast from Mayor Wilkins for the next hundred years."

"Operations... Sir?"

"What is it?"

"I'm sending Clark's file to your system."


Operations cleared his screen then opened the file that had just been sent up from the pit. <Let's see... Alex Harris... Contractor. Anti-terrorist training... Took down three Terakans, then forced their contractor to repeal the contract... Impressive.>

Operation frowned again, still reading. <Paid for a mission to Columbia... some notes from Ryan... nothing spectacular. Then he drops off the RADAR until a few days ago.>

Idly, Operations clicked on the photo link.


Annoyed, he commed Birkoff. "Birkoff!"

"Yes Sir?"

"Where's Clark's photo??"

"He ah... doesn't have one, Sir."


"The man's a ghost." Seymour said unhappily. "The name has to be fake, but there's nothing in the Agency files to correlate it to. Sir, I think we're looking at an Agency Rebirth."

Operations pursed his lips in disgust. The CIA didn't often go in for such things, but when they did they were even more thorough then Section. Section would merely 'kill' one of it's future agents. The Agency would completely erase their previous identity.

"Very well. Back to work."

"Yes Sir."

"What the hell was that!?" Xander snapped as he got out of the trans-am and walked around to where Giles was still sitting in his convertible.

"I'm not sure what to say." Giles said, frowning. "Someone... or, more likely, something has elected to enforce Prophecy."

"One of the PTBs?" Xander asked tensely.

"Most likely not." Giles shook his head, getting out of the Vette. "This seems more... primal then that."

Xander sighed, rubbing his face. "Great. Now what?"

Giles shrugged, "We prepare for the Harvest..."

Xander groaned, "Worse then that."


"We have to get ready for the first day of school."

Giles chuckled a little nastily as Faith groaned along with Xander.

"This looks like a nice town."

Dawn stuck her tongue out at the back of her mother's head as they past the 'welcome to sunnydale' sign. The young girl rolled her eyes and pantomimed gagging.

"Dawn! I saw that!"

<Jeez.> Dawn thought, eyes widening as she stiffened. <Does she have eyes in the back of her head??>

Joyce smirked in the rearview, then looked over at her eldest daughter. "So Buffy? Don't you think it's a nice town?"

Buffy swallowed, then nodded. "Yeah. Sure. Peaceful."

The car motored along a few more seconds and then...


Faith and Xander let themselves into the dark house, silently heading down into the basement where they shucked their armor and weapons before Faith finally broke the silence.

"That could have gone better."

"Ya think?"

Faith snickered slightly at Xander's tone, and shook her head. "What's this mean, Xander?"

"I don't know." Xander wiped his forehead, hanging up his armor and placing his pistols onto a rack. "The Master knows we're here now... so he's going to operate with that knowledge... I just don't know."

Faith shrugged, "We'll handle it."

Xander nodded, "Yeah. I know."

Faith smirked at him, "Come on, toy boy... Let's go to bed."


Bang bang bang!

Xander groaned and rolled over in his bed, looking up as the racket pounded through the house. "What the?"

Suddenly there was shrieking, and then more thumps and bangs, and Xander groaned as he grabbed a pillow and shoved it over his head. "Not again."

Several loud noises later, Xander groaned again and looked at the clock.

<Seven AM. Aw hell... I have to be to school for Nine anyway...>

Xander groaned and shoved himself out of bed and stumbled across the floor.

<Night time slayage BAD for early morning days.> He thought as he opened up the huge sliding mirrored doors that concealed the closet.

He looked inside, his jaw dropped, his eyes bugged out, and...


Mikki skidded to a stop, eyes wide as she looked back toward Xander's room. "What's wrong with him?"

Faith too paused in her attempt to catch the little brat who had just stolen her hairbrush, "Damned if I know, Kit."

"He mad at us?" She asked in her oddly accented way.

"Nah." Faith grinned, "Xander never yells at girls. He's a wuss."

Mikki slapped her arm. "Is not."

Faith wacked her back, still grinning. "Is so."

The young Were glared at her, "Not."

"Oh yeah?" Faith grabbed her by the arm and dragged her to Xander's room. "I'll prove it."

"What happed to my Jeans!?" Xander cried out as he rummaged through the clothes in this closet. "And what the hell is this??"

<It's Silk, you barbarian.>

"Shut up, Elan. I mean, what's it doing in my closet!?"

Elan gave a sort of mental shrug, <Waiting to be worn?>

"Not funny." Xander snapped just as the door to his room cracked and flew open. "What the?"

Faith and Mikki stood there in the doorway, one smirking and the other staring a little wide-eyed.

Xander's own eyes widened, "Hey! That's the *fourth* lock you broke on my door!"

Faith grinned and shrugged, "Briefs huh, X? I remember when you were a Boxers man."

Xander looked down, then up as he realized that Mikki was staring. He yelped and covered himself with his hands as he dove for the Master bath.

Behind him he could hear Faith chuckling, "See Kit? I told ya he was a wuss."

"FAITH!!" Xander screamed, grabbing at a bathrobe. By the time he reappeared in his room Mikki was gone, her attention span about as flighty as that of a kitten. Faith, though, was looking through his closet.

"Damn, X. Fancy duds, I didn't know you were into silk..."

"I'm not." He ground out, "And if I find out that you have anything to do with..."

"Hey!" Faith held up her hands, grinning. "If I did this, you've have nothing but leather and biker chains."

Xander groaned, looking over the clothes and sighed. Finally he gave up and grabbed a pair of black dress pants and a black silk shirt. It would do until he could buy some new stuff, or find his own.

Faith just kept staring with that infuriating smirk as he got dressed.

Xander bore it until he was buttoning up his shirt, then he suddenly stopped. "Hey! Where's the top buttons??"

"I think that's all there's supposed to be." Faith grinned.

"You've got to be kidding me." Xander looked at himself in the mirror. "I look like a pimp!"

"Relax, X. You look good." Faith assured him, though her smirk wasn't assuring him of anything. "Real classy in a relaxed kinda way."

"I look like a gigolo." Xander groaned.

"Well... In that case," Faith grinned wider, "I've got a little cash and we have a couple hours before school starts..."

"FAITH!" Xander yelped as she goosed him. "Cut that OUT!"

Xander made his way down into the kitchen, blushing furiously as he made his appearance in his 'new' clothes.

"Nice duds." Jack Styles said, glancing up and nodding. "Why can't I find anything like that in the... what did you call it? Mall?"

Xander groaned.

"What? What'd I say?"

Xander looked up at the ceiling. "If the guy who is two hundred years out of date likes them, I'm totally FUCKED in school today."

"Ah, what do you care?" Faith grinned, "You wore clown clothes most of the time before, remember?"

"Yeah, but those were *comfotable*!"

"The silk isn't??" Faith asked, grinning.

Xander paused, shifting a little. Finally she nodded, "Well... yeah... but Clown clothes don't look like a gigolo would wear them!"

"Look," Faith growled at him, "Which would you rather be? The clown that all the kids love? Or the gigolo who makes time with the mommies while the kids are with the clown?"

Xander's jaw dropped as he stared at Faith in shock.

"I know my choice." Jack Style grinned. "Hey... can I borrow some of those sometime?"

Xander groaned, then he noticed something.


"Yeah, boytoy?"

"Where'd you get that shirt?"

She was wearing a red silk shirt, tied off around her stomach rather then properly done up. Her pushup bra was doing a real good job of reminding Xander what Faith was going to look like in short order, much like the hip huggers she wore showed off curves that were going to get a lot curvier shortly.

She grinned at him, "You like? You loaned it to me."

Xander groaned again, "Great. My clothes are what teenage girls are wearing. God DAMN IT!"

Tara jumped from where she was eating her cereal.

Xander didn't notice, "What happened to my CLOTHES??"

Everyone just stared and shrugged.

Xander groaned and sat down, "Pass me the toast."

"Alright, everyone ready?" Xander looked around to the heads as people nodded. "Ok. Cool. Jack, you good for the day?"

Styles nodded, "Hey, I've got a lot of history to catch up on..."

"Jack..." Xander said slowly, "Just don't believe everything you see on TV. Ok?"

Styles rolled his eyes, "Don't worry. I'm really hard to fool. Trust me."

Xander groaned, but didn't say anything more.

"Let's go, Boytoy." Faoth nudged him, "If I've got to go to school I may as well be on time."

Xander looked at her oddly.

"What? I feel like tormenting Red and B again. You got a problem with that?"

Xander groaned, shaking his head. "Ok, Tara... Mik? You guys ready?"

"Y... yes." Tara nodded.

"Yeah." Mikki nodded.

"Everyone aboard." Xander said, holding the set of the trans-am forward. "Let's go."

As everyone climbed aboard he whispered low enough that only KARR would hear him, "Thanks for putting up with this, pal. I know that kids aren't your favorite passengers."

The AI didn't respond, so Xander slipped behind the wheel and sighed. "Ok. Off we go."

The black trans-am slid into the parking lot of Sunnydale elementary, coming to a silent stop as people tried to peer into the tinted windows of the sleek car.

After a moment the door opened and Xander got out, holding the seat forward for Mikki, who got out with some reluctance.

"I don't wanna..." She whined.

"Mik, you're going to school." Xander said with a slight grin. "Now come on..."

Mikki pouted, frowned, whined, and dragged her feet, but finally gave up and roled her eyes. "Alright."

"Good girl." Xander knelt down, winking at her. "Play nice. No biting or scratching, K?"

"K." Mikki said sadly.

"Hey Xander!"

Xander turned around, smiling as he recognized Vin. "Hey Vin... Brought little Jacks to school huh?"

"Yeah," Vin grinned slyly. "She drags her feet, but I know she really wants to make all kinds of new friends here at school."

Xander smirked at the half-fey who was glowering at both him and Vin. "Children..."

Vin laughed his booming laugh as Xander looked down at Jacks. "Hey... watch out for Mik for me, ok?"

Jacks glower faded as she nodded seriously.

Xander thanked her, then turned around as he watched a car pull to a stop and a young girl get out. Dawn looked around the lot, her eyes alighting on Xander as he slipped off his sunglasses. Xander smiled and winked at her, and Dawn beamed suddenly. "Mik... Jacks, why don't you go say hi to Dawn? We've got to get to our own school."

As the two girls headed off, Xander slipped back behind the wheel. "Alright guys. Our turn."



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