Year Zero

City of Angels

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me.

Summary: Xander's left Sunnydale, searching for pieces of a life he used to have.

Warning: Crossovers ahead. (Yes Plural.)

Rating: PG-13 to PG-16; for mild cursing, violence, and demonic horror content... in other words a bit more grown up then the series... but only cause I don't have to suck up to censors.

Xander slowed the black Ninja and grabbed the off ramp into L.A., he kept the bike just under the speed limit and did his best to follow the traffic laws so as to not draw attention. He run the bike into town, noting the sun as it set.

<Can't do anything tonight...> he thought, pulling into a cheap hotel.

He walked up to the clerk, helmet cradled under his arm. "I need a room for the night."

"Forty bucks." The man said, not even looking up.

Xander fished the cash out of his pocket and dropped two twenties on the counter. The man grunted and grabbed a set of keys off the wall behind him, "Here. Checkout's at ten."

"Sure." Xander muttered and walked back out to his bike, checking the key ring for his room number.

He walked out, grabbed his bike, and pushed it over next to his room. Then he went in and locked the door behind him.

Xander looked around the room, sighing as he took in the cheep furnishing and tacky colors. <I miss my credit cards.>

He tossed his jacket over a chair, stripped off the assault rig with the FiveSevens, and carefully placed his pistols under his pillow. Then he stripped down and curled up under the flimsy blanket and went to sleep.

Next Day

Xander slowed the bike to a halt outside the unobtrusive shop and kicked the stand down. He frowned up at the sky as he saw the sun starting to dip lower then he'd liked, but he had needed to make a few stops before he came here. Xander flipped off the helmet and dismounted the bike, and walked into the building.

"Whaddya want?"

Xander smiled fondly as he heard the voice, "Hiya Andy."

Andrezj Konzaki narrowed his eyes and looked at Xander. "I know you, boy?"

Xander shook his head, "Not in this life."

"Then that brings us back to my first question," The man in the wheelchair growled. "Whaddya want?"

"I need a couple boxes of these." Xander pulled a bullet from his jacket pocket and tossed it at the man. Andy caught it easily but barely glanced at it.

"Go to a sporting goods store, kid. I don't sell to gang bangers." He said as he tossed the bullet back.

Xander caught it, then through it back. "I'm no gang banger. Look at the bullet."

Andy frowned and looked at the bullet he had just caught for the second time. "That's a weird caliber."

"Five point seven millimeter." Xander replied.

Andy shook his head, "I've heard of a couple weapons in the R&D phase that are supposed to use this size... but nothing that's for sale."

Xander shrugged, "Like I said, I'm no gang banger. Look closer."

Andy frowned and held the bullet up to the light, then he suddenly grunted and grabbed a set of jewelers glasses with magnifying lenses from a workbench. "What the hell? Is this silver?"

Xander nodded. "That's right."

Andy looked over at him, "Who'dya think you are? The Lone Ranger?"

Xander chuckled and walked over to him, pulling one of the FiveSevens from under his jacket. "Relax," He said when Andy tensed. Xander laid the weapon down in front of the armorer.

Andy lifted the gun and whistled. "Nice piece. Looks like it's had some after market work too..."

Xander smiled, "Yeah... you could say that."

Andy looked the gun over, then laid a hand on the slide and looked at Xander. "You mind kid?"

"Go ahead."

He quickly field stripped the pistol and looked at the workings, noticing that they had been well cared for. "You know how to treat your weapon, boy."

"I learned from the best." Xander said, still with a secretive smile.

Konzaki examined the small drill holes that marked some of the modifications and suddenly stopped cold. "What the hell?"

He grabbed a powerful magnifier and looked closer. "What the fuck? That's my trademark. No one knows about that... how did that get on this gun!?"

Xander shrugged, "I guess you must've modified them for me."

"Kid, I ain't never laid eyes on you before. And I sure as hell never worked on a cherry pistol like this. I'd *know*."

Xander chuckled.

"Who are you, kid?" Andy demanded.

"I'm a vampire hunter who needs a couple boxes of bullets... and a steady supply of the suckers for the next few years."

"Vam...?" Konzaki fell silent. "Silver don't kill vamps."

"They do if the silver has been melted down from a crucifix." Xander responded easily, "Although I prefer my old magnesium/thermite rounds, the silver also work on pretty much anything supernatural. And versatility counts."

"You serious?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah. One of those bullets will affect a vamp almost like a regular bullet affects a human. They go down screaming, unless they are real tough fuckers, and the wound won't heal fast... or at all if the bullet is still inside. Kill shots are a bit tricky though, a heart shot is about all that'll guarantee you dust the bastard... and even then it takes some doing."

"Shit." Andy looked at the bullet with a certain level of respect. "I know some folks here in town who'd love to lay their hands on some of these."

Xander shrugged, "Make 'em a brace of them then. Hell, post the recipe on the damn internet for all I care. I just need a couple boxes and a supply for myself."

Andy nodded slowly. "Yeah... ok. You got any proof you hunt vamps?"

Xander smiled and pulled the Bokken from behind his back, "Who else goes around town with a wooden sword?"

Konzaki nodded. "I guess that'll do. You get the word?"


"Group in the warehouse district put out a call for help a couple days back." Konzaki said, "They've been under siege every night for a week. Some new vamp's been moving in around town."

Xander frowned, trying to remember anything of any use. "Didn't hear. But I just got into town last night."

Andy nodded, "That explains it. I work with these guys... most of 'em are just kids, younger then me and my buddies in 'Nam... They got a runner out yesterday, he got the word to me. I've been trying to find them some help, but there aren't to many people who do this kind of thing."

Xander nodded. <Not yet anyway.> "What's the address?"

"Down by Brinks and Eighth. You gotta talk to a guy named Park."

"Ok, I'll check it out. Can you do something about the ammo?"

Andy nodded, "Sure... but I'll need a few bullets to work with and some time."

Xander pulled one of his clips from his jacket pocket and tossed it to Andy, then tossed a shopping bag along with it.. "Here, and the bag has some solid silver crosses I managed to find for you to melt down, you have no idea the looks I got when I brought them to a priest to be blessed. But I'll need the pistol back."

"Sure kid... no problem." Andy said distractedly as he pulled out a caliper and began measuring the bullets.

Xander snapped the gun back into the assault rig and turned to leave, then he looked back. "Hey Andy?"


"You do knives?" Xander asked, fondling one of the crucifixes he had taken from the vampire.

"It's not my specialty... but I know a guy, why?"

Xander smiled.

Xander slowed the bike to a halt as he reached the intersection of Brinks and Eighth. The place didn't look like much, but that could be deceiving. He frowned and looked up at the sky, where the blue was retreating into a slate grey as the sun dropped below the artificial horizon of the city scape.

<Not much time.> He sighed, looking around for any signs of activity.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the place was pretty much dead.

That changed suddenly as Xander watched when an old Cadillac that had seen better days screeched around the corner and slewed to a halt outside the warehouse he was watching. It shut down quick and a group of people, mostly kids, jumped out and ran into the warehouse. There was enough light that Xander didn't figure them for vamps, but he didn't call out to them either.

Instead he sat there and watched.

He didn't have to wait long. Just after the sun vanished and the sky was darkening from a slate grey to a black, two cars crept around the corner and stopped within sight of the building. Xander centered himself and focused his mind, enhancing his vision until he could easily see the figures moving around in the two cars.

A bit of movement caught his eye and he saw the gang from the Caddy burst out of the building and charge toward the two cars. Xander groaned. <Shit. Irwin would throw a fit if he saw this.>

As the group reached the halfway point to the two cars Xander spotted the other five cars pulled into position around the group. That was when the vampires decided to get out of their vehicles.


"Ready your weapons!" Park yelled to his group as the vamps poured out of the vehicles and surrounded them.

"Man, I told you this was dumb!" A young black kid named Charles Gunn snapped.

"Stow it, Charlie." Park snapped. "My turf, my call."

Gunn shut his mouth and hefted a machete in one hand, a rough hewn wooden stake in the other.

Around him the gang tightened up into a knot, their backs to each other as they realized that they were outnumbered by two to one.

Xander thumbed the started and smiled as the engine roared to life, then settled into a quiet purr. With one hand he pulled his helmet down over his head and with the other he flipped the clutch then kicked the bike into gear, peeling out of the place he had been in and charging into the fight.

Everyone heard the roar of an engine and the squealing of tires, but no one had time to look. Park fired his crossbow, dusting one of the vamps, then quickly tried to reload.

"Stupid." Gunn muttered as he slashed at another vamp with his machete, drawing a line of blood across the vampire's chest.

Park went down in a tangled rush of limbs as two vamps charged him before he could finish cocking the weapon.

"Stupid!" Gunn screamed, mostly to himself as he tried to get through to Park. "Simms! Jose! Get my back!"

Two others moved to back Gunn up as he charged through the mess of vampires, the three of them slashing and stabbing as they did. Around them human and vampire alike were falling in a massive tangle of death. They were almost to Park when they heard a bubbling gurgle fro the mess and a sickening crunch of bone.

And then Gunn knew that all that was left was to avenge his leader. That and get his boy's out of this mess.

"Back to back!" he screamed, "Don't let 'em get an opening!"

As he, Simms, and Jose went back to back Gunn belatedly noticed that the whine of an engine has practically on top of them. He snapped his head around in surprise to see a black clad figure on a black Ninja roar into the fray.

As he closed on the fight Xander shifted the bike slightly to hit the mass of vampires on an angle. Just as he reached them he clamped down on the front brake and leaned forward, the rear tire lifting clear off the ground, then Xander shifted his weight, and the bike swung around in a vicious arc. The heavy rear end slammed into three vamps, sending them sprawling, then Xander leaned back and brought the tire down as he completed a three hundred and sixty degree spin.

As the bike settled into its place Xander whipped his pistols from under his jacket and thumbed them to three shot mode. Two vampires charged him and he put three silvertip bullets into their hearts at five paces. The staggered in shock and pain, falling to the ground. Xander kicked the stand down and dismounted the bike, leaving it in place.

As he walked past the two writhing vamps he snapped a kick to the back of each one's head with his steel capped engineer boots, then walked further in.

"Who the fuck is that!?" Jose grunted as he tried to fend off another vamp.

Gunn didn't answer right away, his focus on another two vampires that were trying to grab him and pull him away from his backup. After he jammed his stake through the first one's chest and slashed the second with his machete, Gunn looked up. "Don't know. Don't care. If he's only after vamps, then let him be. He goes after one of ours... kill him."

Xander put a burst into the chest of another vamp as it came at him, and was gratified to see this one burst into dust as at least one of the silvertipped manglers found the heart. He reached a place where three vamps were crouched over a victim, calmly flipped his left pistol to semi-auto, and put a single round into the back of each demon.

Take his time had its rewards, two of the vamps dusted and the third rolled away in pain. Xander looked down to see a young Hispanic girl bleeding on the ground. He kneeled over her, checking her pulse with his left hand, while the FiveSeven in his right kept barking out silver death to the demons that tried to move in.

<She's in a bad way.> Xander grimaced. <Fuck, where's Leo when I need him, huh?>

"Hold on, kiddo." He said over the sound of the fight. "We'll get you some help in just a few... so hang on. You hear me?"

The girl on the ground smiled up at him, her hand twitching until she had managed to flash him a thumbs up sign. "Sure..." She said weakly as she looked up at the black clad figure still wearing a biker's helmet.

"That's a good girl." Xander smiled, retrieved his second pistol, and rose to his feet.

Gunn grunted as he disemboweled another vampire, blood and gore spattering over him and his two compatriots, then spared a second to check on the mystery newcomer.

The figure in black was still wielding those two pistols that seemed to at least have some effect on the bloodsuckers, even if they didn't always dust the bastards. The pistols seemed to spit fire in bursts as the figure tried to keep the vampires at a distance.

Gunn shook his head and turned his focus back to the fight at hand as yet another vamp took a shot at him.

Xander emptied the last of his clip into a charging vampire, thanking god briefly in his mind when one of the bullets found the monsters heart and it vanished into dust. The second pistol slicked empty a scant instant later, the slide locking back on and empty chamber, and Xander ejected both clips to the ground with a flick of his thumb.

He slapped both pistols down to his belt wear he wore the fresh clips in a rig that Lara had shown him how to set up, the clips feed directly into the butts of the pistols in one smooth move. When he felt the click of the slides jumping back into place Xander flipped the pistols away from his belt, ripping the clips free of the breakaway holder they were on.

<Shit. Running low...>

He had one more clip in his pocket, after that he was tapped until Konzaki could machine some new rounds for him.

Xander shrugged the worry off and loosed two more bursts into the chests of charging vampires.

Gunn was lagging, his muscles screaming in pain and fatigue as he tried to keep up his side of the fight. Around him he could tell that his people were in the same boat or worse, as with every passing minute there were less of them visible.

On the plus side, the vamps were thinning noticeably as well. Between his own people and the new guy, things seemed to be turning around. He'd have to chat with the guy about those guns though, he promised himself.

Xander was breathing heavily under his helmet as his pistol emptied for the second time. He briefly considered going for the last clip, but quickly decided that he didn't have time as another vamp decided to try its luck.

The FiveSevens clattered to the ground as Xander went for the Bokken strapped to his back. He had just got it clear when the vamp finally bridged the distance between them.

Lacing the time to bring the wooden blade up, Xander fell back and tucked into a roll as he planted one foot into the charging vamps gut. As he rolled he shifted the vampire's momentum and lifted it clear of the ground, sending the demon flying across the battlefield and slamming into one of the parked cars.

Xander rolled to his feet, not trusting his weakened muscles enough to try 'kipping' up. He rose to a standing position, his Bokken coming up in an inverted en-guard position.

Three burly vampires slowly surrounded him, having marked his path through their comrades with some anger. Xander eyed them nervously from under his helmet, not liking the odds.

"Just DIE!" Gunn screamed as he brought his machete down in a hacking slice that dug into the vampire shoulder at an angle, wedging itself deep in the monster's chest. As the vamp screamed from the pain, Jose took the opportunity to circle around and plant a stake in its heart.

Gann bent over and breathed heavily as he realized that there were no vamps left standing around him. He then looked around and saw where the last of them went.

The mystery guy was holding off the last three with a wooden sword.

Xander stepped back, his left hand flying up to his helmet as he pushed it up over his head and let it fall behind him. It smacked into the ground and bounced a couple times before rolling to a stop by a fallen body.

Xander ignored it as he mentally centered himself and felt the surge of power as his body shifted into 'fight' mode.

As the first one charge him, Xander sidestepped and slashed the Bokken across his face. The Vamp staggered back as Xander reversed his grip and slammed the wooden weapon into the vamps chest. The resulting rush of air brought a self satisfied smirk to Xander's face as he whipped back around to face the other two.

Other one.

Xander frowned as he realized that he had lost track of one of them. He started to turn but was shocked when two powerful arms grabbed him from behind in a crushing grip.

He grunted and slammed his head back into the vamp, eliciting a groan of pain but nothing else.

The other vampire advanced on him and Xander tried kicking out, but the vamp caught his feet in mid air, sneering as he did.

"Not so tough without your guns are you, you little fuck?"

Xander didn't answer as he tried to break free. Everything he tried hit a stone wall as the two vampires leered at him. The vamped out and he could feel the cold breath of the one behind him as it bent for his neck.

"Hey Fang Face!"

The two vampires looked up in surprise at the voice, as they looked around they suddenly realized that they were the only vamps still standing.

Behind them a young black kid was standing side by side with an equally young white kid and Hispanic kid. All three of them were rapping their free hands with weapons as they stood there challengingly.

"Put him down."

The two vamps growled, circling back as they put Xander between them and the three kids facing them. "And if we do?"

"We dust you." The black kid said matter of factly.

"Generous." The vamp replied sarcastically, "How about we don't put him down then?"

"Then we still dust you. Only we make it hurt."

While the argument was going on Xander managed to dig his hand into one of his pockets, his fist closing around one of the crucifixes we had taken a few days earlier. It was a small silver Celtic cross that had caught his eye and he had decided to keep rather then have melted down. He brought his hand up and locked it around the clamped fists of the vampire where it was holding him.

The vamp screamed in pain as the sizzling sound and wisps of smoke rose from the back of its hand. Xander clenched his teeth as the heat began to burn at him as well, but he held on until he felt the vamps grip suddenly go slack.

Xander kicked away, hitting the ground in a roll as the three others charged the two vamps with their weapons raised.

The fight was over in a few seconds, and the sound of dusting vamps filled the air. Xander rolled onto his back in time to see the black kid off him his hand.

"Name's Gunn, Thanks for the hand."

Xander nodded, accepting the hand. "Xander. Thanks for the save yourself."

Xander brushed himself off and walked toward the girl he had helped earlier. Gunn followed him. "Hey, hey! Hold up! Who are you anyway, man?"

"Told you that," Xander grunted. "Xander."

"That don't tell me a whole lot." Gunn said as Xander dropped to one knee by the girl. Gunn looked down and cursed. "Shit. Jaina... you alright, girl?"

The girl lolled her head and smiled faintly up at Gunn. "Heeeyyyyy.... mommy...."

Gunn looked startled. "Mommy!?"

"She's delirious." Xander said curtly, ripping a strip off his shirt and wrapping it around her neck and shoulder. "Blood loss."

"Will she live?"

"Get her to an ER, fast." Xander said, tying the makeshift bandage off and standing up. He looked around the battlefield. "Get them all to the ER..."

Gunn looked around himself, a little lost. "Won't they ask too many questions?"

"Do you have a choice?" Xander snapped, then relented. "No. They won't. These types of injuries get passed off as animal attacks. Stray dogs and shit like that."

With that Xander retrieved his Bokken and walked over to the first of the undusted vamps who were still lying on the ground with his bullets inside them.

"Hey, hey! What are you doing!?"

"Finishing the job." Xander drove the Bokken down into the vamp, then paused to retrieve the little pieces of silver that chinked to the ground after the dust had dissipated. Then he moved on.

Gunn watched the process in shock. "What the hell?"

Xander didn't look back. "Silver bullets. They used to be part of a crucifix... once a holy symbol, always a holy symbol. It's like I shot them with a bunch of small crosses. Burns like hell, doesn't heal. Can even kill them if I get the heart..."

"Shit." Jose muttered as he followed Xander around. "How come they didn't dust with the vamp?"

Xander shrugged, "Probably the same reason they hurt the bastards I suppose. How should I know?"

The group watched Xander finish off the rest of the vamps and retrieve what silver he could find. Then he leaned down, picked up his pistols, looked back at them, an annoyed look on his face. "What are you waiting for!? Get your wounded to the fucking hospital!"

The group suddenly snapped into motion, gathering up the injured and getting them into the car for transport. Xander grabbed Gunn as he walked by. "You know a guy named, Park?"

Gunn stopped, nodded, and pointed to one of the dead bodies. "That was him."

Xander sighed. "Shit. Who's in charge?"

Gunn shrugged. "Nobody."

"Well find someone." Xander said, "Or the vamps will pick you off while you're disorganized."

Gunn shook his head slightly, then nodded. "Yeah... ok."

"Good." Xander bent down to retrieve his helmet, "By the way, Tell whoever takes over that Konzaki sends his regards."

Simms looked up in surprise. "The gimp sent ya?"

Xander turned on him, his face a mask of anger. "You watch who you're calling names, boy. Andrezj Konzaki's more man than you, I'd warrant."

Simms jerked back in surprise, then glowered at Xander. Xander turned his back on the kid and slipped his helmet on, heading for his bike.

"Wait!" Gunn said, then continued as Xander turned back. "Where are you going?"

Xander shrugged, "To get a motel room. Andy told me about you guys so I stopped by to help, but it seems to be over now."

"Come with us man," Gunn said, "You can crash at our place... it's not much but it's home. And we owe you."

Xander stopped and thought about it, then nodded. "Sounds good. I'll follow you guys."

"Cool." Gunn said, smiling as he turned and jogged back to the groups car.

Xander waited on his bike outside the ER as Gunn ran his people inside. Gunn came out several minutes later, looking frazzled but relieved.

"They're gonna be fine."

Xander nodded. "Good."

Gunn slumped against his car and looked up at the night sky. "Shit. Times like this I feel like taking up smoking."

Xander chuckled, "Don't. No point in giving up any advantage to a vamp."

Gunn grinned wryly back at him, "Yeah... not that they need it."

Xander shrugged. "They aren't as tough as all that."

Gunn snorted. "Tough enough if you don't have those guns of yours."

"If you say so." Xander said.

"You didn't do so well against them earlier." Gunn grinned.

Xander shrugged. "Look at me for christ sake. I've got less muscle tone then a binge eater, and I still got one of them before the other two got the drop on me. Some skill and being halfway in shape and you're all set."

"Maybe." Gunn said, not sounding entirely convinced. "Anyway, here comes Simms and Jose... looks like Jaina is being released."

Xander frowned as he looked at the girl being helped to the car by her two friends. "Isn't that a little weird? They usually like to keep you for observation..."

"No insurance." Gunn said softly, "We'll look after her. We're going back to the crib now..."

Xander sighed and nodded, thumbing the starter to the bike. "Let's go."

Xander looked around the place the group was holed up in, and thought how accurate that expression was. <The place is a hole.>

Still... it was warm, dry, and had some fairly comfortably, if ratty, furniture scattered around.

"Nice place." He said, trying to keep his voice neutral.

"We can't all afford to drive around in leather on racing bikes." Simms growled at him.

<Maybe I didn't keep my voice neutral enough.> Xander shrugged, "I stole the jacket from a vamp, and bought the bike with money I lifted from a vamp's lair."

The group looked at him in surprise.


"You attacked a vamp in its lair?" Gunn said, shocked.

Xander looked at them oddly, "Well yeah. Why not?"

"We have enough trouble on our own turf."

"Yeah... I guess I get that. Learn to walk before you run." Xander smiled slightly as he sat down, "I started with Patrols... heavy backup all the time... Then I started going it on my own, eventually working my way up the ladder."

Gunn looked at him oddly, "You can't be much older then us..."

Xander laughed. "Looks can be deceiving, but don't worry about it. I'm only in town for a few days, but if you want I'll give you hand on patrols and stuff."

Gunn nodded slowly. "Ok... sure. Thanks."

"No problem." Xander said, then he yawned. "Shit. I'm wiped. Fighting takes more out of me then it used to. I'm getting too young for this shit."

Jaina, Gunn, Simms, and Jose stared at each other in confusion.

"Ok... Look, Man... catch some sleep. Talk to you come daylight."

"Sure." Xander flipped around and laid out on the couch. "See ya."

He closed his eyes and started to drop off when he heard a noise as someone came back into the room. He reached for his single loaded gun, but was stopped when he heard Jaina's voice. "It's just me... I thought you might want this."

She handed him a blanket before backing out. As she was leaving Xander spoke.


She looked back, "No... Thank you. You saved my life."

He smiled, "No worries, as they say. All part of my charm."

She smirked, then left Xander to curl up and go to sleep.

Xander woke up to the sound of fighting nearby and was on his feet in seconds, his single loaded FiveSeven gripped in his fist.

Xander made his way to the door he heard the fighting coming from and looked through. He relaxed quickly when he saw that Gunn was sparring with the one who'd been introduced as Jose the night before. Xander replaced the pistol in his assault rig and walked into the room.

The fighting styles they were using could only be described street brawling with some movie kung fu mixed in. Amusing to watch, but debatable in its effectiveness.

As Gunn knocked Jose down, Xander brought his hands together slowly and clapped out a slow staccato. "Cute."

"You got a problem man?" Simms asked, growling from the sidelines.

"I got a lot of problems," Xander said slowly, "Lucky for me I can fix most of them myself with a little time. You guys, on the other hand, need help."

"You think you can do better?" Gunn asked, grinning at him.

Xander smiled, accepting the obvious challenge. He stripped down to his black tank top and kicked his boots off before walking up to Gunn. He stretched out quickly, moving through a familiar Kata pattern as he warmed up.

Gunn smirked at him. "Like that Kung Fu bullshit is going to save you."

Xander shrugged and beckoned Gunn in with one hand, "Come on then, kiddo. Let's see what you got."

"You asked for it." Gunn said as he moved in.

Xander stood his ground as Gunn attacked with a clumsy haymaker. Xander leaned back and slapped the fist away with a casual gesture, his hand rocketing out and tapping Gunn lightly on the chin.

Gunn jumped back, surprised. Xander grinned at him as Gunn brushed the spot he had hit lightly, "Alright, Let's try this again."

Xander shrugged and nodded as Gunn came in again, his foot snapping up in a kick aimed at Xander's stomach. Xander reached out and caught Gunn's foot in mid kick, holding it easily for a moment, then twisted it smoothly. Gunn was forced to turn with the motion to keep from having his angle broke and soon found himself off balance and consequently flat on his back.

Xander smiled and reached down, pulling Gunn to his feet. "Not bad. Not bad at all."

"Not good either." Gunn muttered.

"Stay alive." Xander said, "That's the first rule. Skill comes with experience and survival. Don't try to take a vamp one on one if you can gang up on him, don't kill them at short range if you can shoot them from across the street. And for god's sake, get some martial arts training. Common sense stuff."

Gunn frowned as he brushed himself off. "Easy for you to say, Karate Kid."

Xander smirked. "That wasn't karate... That was Akido."

Gunn snorted. "Same shit."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Right. And a Viper is the same as a Hummv."


"Well... they both cost around eighty grand or so... they both have four wheels and an engine, right? So by your logic they must be the same thing." Xander said.

"Now hold on..."

"No. Karate and Akido are two methods to get the same job done, but they are not the same thing." Xander said firmly. "And I'd suggest you get some training in Akido, Ju Jitso, or Judo. Unlike Karate, and the brawling you use, those styles use your opponents force against him, and trust me... it's a very good thing when you're going up against someone who is four times stronger then you are."

Gunn frowned at him, but didn't reply.

Xander sighed. "Look, I'm just trying to tell you that going toe to toe with a vamp isn't a good idea. They're stronger, faster, and take a lot more punishment then you can. Hell, some vamps treat violence as foreplay, it gets them hot..."

"Alright already," Gunn conceded. "You may have a point."

"Who needs that kung fu bullshit anyway?" Simms smirked from the sidelines. "Give me those pistols you pack anyday."

"Yeah, they did me a world of good yesterday didn't they?" Xander turned around to look at him. "Gun's are great, but they're just another tool... and unlike guns, a good martial style isn't something you can lose, or have taken from you."

Suddenly Xander sighed. "Shit. I'm fucking giving speeches for god's sake. Look, take my advice... don't take it... I can't tell you what to do. Just think about it, ok?"

Simms was still sneering in his direction, but Gunn nodded. "I... We will." He promised.

"Good." Xander said, "Meanwhile I have to make a run to Andy's... see if he's made any headway with my order."

Xander turned and walked out of the room, heading for his bike.

"Hey! Wait a sec!"

Xander turned around from checking his bike to see Jaina coming out. Her shoulder was still wrapped up but she looked better this morning, her own rich color having started to replace the pasty complexion she had the night before.

"Look," Xander said tiredly, "I'm sorry for mouthing off to you guys..."

She shook her head, "I don't give a dame about that. I wanted to ask you if you wanted some company?"

Xander looked at her oddly, "Haven't got a second helmet."

She smirked at him and produced from behind her back. "Lifted it from Simms. You ain't the only guy with a bike."

Xander chuckled, and straddled the Ninja. "If you think you can ride with that shoulder of yours... feel free."

She tilted her head and smirked at him again, then hopped on the back of the bike behind him.

Xander thumbed the starter and the two of them roared out onto the street.

"Yo, Andy... any news?"

Konzaki looked up from his bench to see the kid from the day before walk in, a girl right behind him. He shook his head, "Who's your friend, kid?"

"Andy, Jaina. Jaina, Andy." Xander said casually as he walked across and glanced at what Konzaki was working on. "Nice piece."

Andy nodded gruffly, flipping the Browning Hi-Power over and putting it aside for a moment. "I got some good news for ya kid. Local SWAT team is testing out a new sub machine gun that uses your caliber..."

"The P90," Xander responded, "Good weapon. Would love to get my hands on one, but I don't have the space for it right now."

Andy looked at him oddly, but nodded. "Right. Anyway, I got them to swing some favors for me and the company is going to send a mold over by courier so I won't have to go through the process of reverse engineering these things. I should have them later today, maybe tomorrow."

Xander, "That's good news."

Andy nodded. "Yep. Now, how many do you want? And do you need any of the normal ammo?"

Xander thought about it, "A few boxes would be nice... say five hundred rounds total? Hundred, hundred and fifty rounds of the standard stuff and the rest can be silvertips."

Konzaki nodded and jotted down a note. "You got it kid. Hope you can afford it."

Xander grinned, "If I can't, I'll go find a vamp who can."

Andy stared at him for a moment, then laughed. "You know kid... you remind me of a guy I used to know."

"That a good thing?"

"Depends on who's side you're on, kid." Konzaki smirked in his unique way, then changed expressions. "I gotta know kid, how did you come up with these bullets?"

"I didn't." Xander said, "These have been in use since the days of front loading muskets... before that the same technique was used on arrow heads and crossbow bolts. Church has hunter teams that use them against werewolves."

"You've got to be shitting me." Andy said, shocked.

Xander shook his head, "Nope. They just never thought to test them on other targets."

"Fuck." Andy shook his head, "Well trying them out on vamps was genius man."

Xander smiled, "Wasn't me. It was... someone who has a way with weapons."

"I'd like to meet his someday." Andy said.

<Look in a mirror, man.> Xander thought, but only nodded and said. "I wish I could arrange it."

"He dead?" Andy asked softly.

"Not exactly... but he's not quite who he used to be anymore." Xander said, just as softly.

Andy shifted uncomfortably. "Sorry to hear that kid. Look, how long you gonna be in town?"

Xander shrugged, "Don't know exactly... Why?"

"I try to help out the vamp hunters around here as much as I can and I get word every now and then about shit that's going down... and one of the groups I usually deal with, they got out word to me a few days ago about something real bad... I haven't heard a thing from 'em since."

Xander grimaced. "Shit. Any details?"

"'Fraid not."

Xander sighed. "I'll look into it... Say, you have another sword lying around here anywhere?"

Andy's eyes widened. "Why do you think I have any swords here?"

It was Xander's turn to smirk. "That's a real nice walking stick you have there. Now, do you have any others?"

Konzaki reached for his cane reflexively, growling. "What do you need with a sword?"

"Well Andy," Xander licked his lips as he grinned at the man, "Just to give you a *heads* up, I'm almost out of silvertips and when you say 'real bad' I'm think it might be worse then a vamp. A wooden sword doesn't do me much good against a demon."

Andy, who had stiffened at the emphasis Xander placed on the word 'heads' reluctantly nodded and rolled his chair over to the far wall. He thumped a section of the wall and a hidden compartment slipped open. "Take yer pick kid, but I'm putting it on yer tab."

Xander grinned and walked over, looking at the blades inside.

There were three of them. The first was an old French, or perhaps Spanish, Rapier. The second was a more traditional broadsword, and the third was a very nice Japanese Katana. Xander smirked, somehow it felt like a cliche but he grabbed the Katana and slipped it behind his back.

"Thanks, Andy. You got any leads on that group?"

"Here kid." Andy scribbled down some information on a pad and handed the paper to Xander. "Good luck."

Xander nodded and smiled. "Thanks, man.

With that Xander turned around, "Come on, Jaina... let's head out."


"Where we going?" Jaina asked as she slipped onto th Ninja behind Xander.

Xander glanced at the note pad in his hand, then looked at the Rolex he had stolen a few days earlier to replace the mickey mouse watch his younger self had so coveted. Said watch currently resided in the lining of his jacket. For some odd reason he couldn't toss it, though it didn't fit with his self image anymore.

"We got some time..." Xander mused, "I don't want to hit these places until dusk. You wanna play tour guide for a couple hours?"

"Sure." She grinned, "What do you want to see?"

"You know a school called Hemery High?"

She thought about, frowning. "Yeah... That's a posh place out near the hills. What do you want there?"

Xander shrugged, "Just show me where it is, ok?"

"You got it."

Xander slowed the bike as they passed the highschool, eyeing it with an odd expression hidden by his helmet. He pulled the bike to one side and stopped it, kicking the stand down and just staring at the school from across the street.

"What's up?" Jaina asked from behind him.

The bell rang a moment later and Xander flipped off his helmet. He glanced back at Jaina, "Just checking on someone."

"Oh?" Jaina looked across the street at the crowd of students that were forming. "Who?"

Xander didn't answer, his eyes searching the crowds until they came to rest of a group of jocks and cheerleaders that were walking through the crowd with obvious impunity. He kept looking until he spotted her.

Buffy Summer, albeit the fourteen year old version, was walking along and chatting cheerfully with her friends. Xander's heart jumped and his stomach knotted as he thought about what was coming for her, but he didn't know if he wanted to change it even if he could figure out a way.

Jaina followed his gaze as he stared at the blond cheerleader. "Her? Who's the bimbo?"

Xander snorted, and almost snapped at Jaina until he remembered that she was probably right about this particular Buffy at this time. So instead he smiled, "She's... family. I wanted to check on her while I was in town."

"So? You gonna go ask her how she's been?"

Xander shook his head, and fitted the helmet back on. "Nope."

"You're fucked up, you know that?"

Xander hit the starter of the bike and smiled tersely under his helmet. "Yeah, I know. Come on, let's check out the address that Andy gave me."

She wrapped her arms around him and Xander gunned the engine, pulling out of the space he was in and roaring down the road.

"Whoa. Scruffy but cute."

Buffy Summers looked over at her friend, Heather. "Where?"

"On the black bike with the street trash." Heather said

Buffy frowned at her friend, then glanced in the direction. She shrugged as the guy flipped his helmet back on, "If you're into that sort of thing."

"What? Cute, Mysterious, and dangerous?" Heather asked with an absent smile.

"You just saw the guy one time across a parking lot!" Buffy said, exasperated, "I mean, like, can you get any more lost in fantasy land?"

"Well duh. Welcome to Beverly Hills." Heather said, as they continued walking.

Buffy shook her head and sighed. <She's such a ditz.>

Xander slowed the bike as he arrived at the address Andy had given him. It was a pretty run down part of town and he was glad that the sun was still up.

"Wait here." He said, as he got off the bike and looked at the building in question.

"Like hell." Jaina sneered lightly, "I ain't standing out here while you go have all the fun."

Xander shook his head in mild annoyance. "You're lucky I'm used to having pushy, rude, bossy, and aggravating women around me."

She smirked at him, then paused. "Hey! Did you just call me aggravating?"

Xander rolled his eyes, unstrapped his FiveSeven, and handed the fully loaded pistol to her. "You know how to use one of these?"

She took it, checked the breech, and racked the slide. "I grew up on the streets, I can handle anything you got."

"Remind me not to let you around any rocket launchers." Xander said with a quirked grin as he turned and walked into the building.

"Rocket launchers!?" Jaina asked in surprise before following him in.

Xander unsheathed his newly acquired Katana as he approached the door. It wasn't locked, which was just as well since he hadn't managed to find a decent set of lock picks yet. He pushed the heavy oak door open slowly, looking into the dark dust filled interior as the sun's beams penetrated the room.

There was no indication of motion inside and Xander stepped in, mentally centering himself and shifted his vision into enhanced mode.

"What is this place?" Jaina asked from behind him.

Xander glanced back at her, annoyed. "This is the building the hunting group Andy mention was using for a base. You don't know 'em?"

She shrugged, "Heard about some guys up this way... but it's not our turf. None of our business."

Xander shook his head, "Reality check, kid. It's everyone's business, if they don't stop the vamps here, you really think that they won't come after you sooner or later?"

Jaina shrugged, "Then we handle it when it comes to that."

Xander shook his head, annoyed, but didn't comment further as he started moving into the building. The place was quiet, dead even. There wasn't the slightest hint of sound except for that made by himself and Jaina as they moved through the dark building.

"Man, it's fucking dark in here." Jaina complained, "Can you see anything?"

"I see everything." Xander said as he walked to the center of a room and looked at the wrecked laptop and tattered books that were lying there. He leaned down and flipped some of the sheets around but couldn't make anything out. He looked at the smashed screen of the laptop and picked the lightweight machine up.

"What's that?" Jaina asked, coming closer.

"Laptop." Xander said, hooking his fingers into a hole in the plastic just under the keyboard and ripping the machine apart.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting the hard drive. You got anyone in your group who knows computers?"

She was silent a moment, "Sort of... I know a guy from the neighborhood."

"Good." Xander said, tossing the shell of the computer to the ground. "Let's go."


"Wow..." The guy said, turning the hard disk around in his hands and staring at it. "Where'd you find this thing? It looks like its been through a war."

"It probably has." Xander said from where he was standing in the corner.


"Never mind, Jason." Jaina said quietly, leaning closer and smiling at him. "Could you check what's on it?"

"Oh... ummm..." Jason stammered as his attention was distracted by Jaina's sudden proximity. He didn't notice Xander roll his eyes at the scene. "Sure... I can... uh, do that."

Jason got up, reluctantly, and went over to his own computer. He pulled the side off it and pulled some wires out of the box, connecting them to the drive in his hand. When he was done he casually left the driving hanging by the wires as he powered up the computer and adjusted the settings in the CMOS.

"Ok..." He said, all business now as he watched the computer load up. "Let's see... it's small, only a couple hundred megs. I've got eight hundred in my system..."

He smiled over at Jaina and she smiled back.

<Eight hundred megs. Christ, a month ago I had access to a bloody mainframe system with a gig of RAM alone... not to mention a guy who could run all this crap.> Xander shook his head as he watched the guy work.

"Nothing much here." Jason announced finally, "Just some notes that don't make much sense... Something about a demon bar on Grand Street... either the guy was a role player or he was writing a movie or something."

"Let me see that." Xander stepped forward and looked at it. "Caritas..."

"That mean something to you?"

"Maybe." Xander said quietly, "I've heard of it a couple times... just rumors though."

The guy shrugged, "The rest is pretty normal stuff... his OS, a couple games, looks like some internet porn... pretty common actually."

"Thanks." Xander said, turning to leave.

"Wait!" the guy said, "Don't you want your drive?"

"Keep it." Xander said as he walked out.

"Hey, thanks man!" Jason called as Xander and Jaina left the apartment.

"What's Caritas?" Jaina asked as they walked to the curb.

"I'm going to drop you off at your 'crib'." Xander said calmly.

"The hell you are! If we go by there we're picking up the guys and going with you!"

"Caritas isn't a place to bring an army, Jaina." Xander said calmly. "This is a solo job."

"Uh uh. No way." Jaina said firmly, "You want to go in, I'm going with you. Two heads are better then one. Right?"

Xander sighed. "Gunn will kill me if anything happens to you."

"Damn right he will." Jaina grinned at him. "So you better watch my ass."

Xander rolled his eyes at the obvious invitation in her voice but finally nodded. "Alright. You can come along. But you do what I say, WHEN I say. Deal?"

She smirked at him. "Deal."

Xander sighed as she got on the bike behind him. "Why do I feel like I'm going to regret this?"

Xander cruised along Grand Street, looking for anything that might be the demon bar he was looking for.

<Caritas. I always wondered if that place was for real...> Xander mused as he parked the bike across the street from an empty lot.

"We're here." He said as he got off the bike.

"Here where?" Jaina asked, looking around in confusion.

"There." Xander tipped his head toward the empty lot as he checked his weapons and started to cross the street.

"That's a *parking lot*!" Jaina objected, "What the hell could be in there?"

Xander smiled and shook his head, "Watch."

He stepped up onto the curb just ahead of Jaina and kept walking into the 'empty lot'. Jaina's eyes widened in shock as Xander simply vanished from sight as he did.

"What the fuck?" she muttered in shock, frozen for a second. Then she shook it off and traced Xander's steps.

"Holy...!" Jaina cursed and went for the pistol she was still carrying.

"Whoa!" Xander reached out and grabbed her hand, "No guns. This is no man's land. Stay calm, follow my lead."

Jaina swallowed, but nodded and followed Xander into the bar.

The place looked like a scene out of Star Wars. Demons were drinking, chatting, and even *singing*.

"Demon Kareoke." Xander shuddered as a Belgoth demon finished up it's rendition of 'blowing in the wind' and walked off the stage.

To Jaina it was surreal. She felt like she was walking through an oddly twisted dream or nightmare. She could see the enemy all around her, but she wasn't allowed of able to do anything about it. She reached forward and grabbed Xander's arm.

"Are you crazy!?" She hissed. "We should have come in here with the whole gang and a fucking tank if we could find it."

Xander smiled, "Relax. If the rumors I heard about this place were right, we've got no worries as long as we're inside. No violence permitted in here."

Jaina swallowed. "You sure about that?"

"No." Xander said casually as he walked up to the bar.

Jaina stared after him, her eyes wide. <Shit!> She quickly moved to catch up to him.

Xander walked up to the bar and got the attention of the barkeep, who looked to be a human, though Xander admitted that it was hard to tell sometimes.

"Whaddya want?" The barkeep didn't blink at Xander's apparent age, figuring that if the kid could find the place he had a right to order what he wanted.

"Scotch, neat." Xander said calmly.

"You got it, little lady want anything?"

Jaina stared around her, shocked into silence.

The Barkeep looked at Xander, "What's with her?"

Xander glanced back at her, then smiled at the barkeep. "Human."

"Ohhh...." The Bartender said, as if that explained everything. "Welcome to Caritas, little lady. How about a beer on the house?"

Jaina nodded, a little dumbly.

Moments later the bartender was back with their drinks. Xander lifted his to his mouth before glancing at it. "Shit!"

The barkeep turned and looked at him in surprise, "What?"

"I said *scotch*, not 'scottish'." Xander said as he put the shot of blood back down.

"Ooops. Sorry, man. Assumed you were a vamp."

Xander winced. "No problem. Just, get me the scotch, ok?"

"Sure, sure... coming right up."

Xander looked around the club as he waited for his drink.

"Hey bubula. Here's your drink."

Xander turned, surprised to see that a demon had returned with the drink. "Thanks....?"

"People around here call me the Host." The green demon said, smiling. "You can call me Lorne if you like."

Xander nodded, sniffing at his drink lightly. Then taking a sip when he was satisfied that it was what he ordered. It was scotch, and damned good stuff too. He leaned back and sighed. "Ahhh... that's good."

"House brand," Lorne said, smiling. "So, what brings a couple young humans here anyway?"

Xander looked over at him, "You hear about a hunter group that works out of Taylor Street?"

The Host shrugged. "Hunter groups come and go. I don't usually keep track, buncha nazi bozo's usually. Wouldn't know a Fyarl demon from a Fenrin."

Xander smiled, chuckling slightly.

Jaina looked confused, "A what?"

Xander grinned at her, "A Fyarl demon is a really dangerous type... into blood and guts and all that shit. The Fenrin are pacifists, they live in isolated communities in the mountains usually."

"Ooohhh..." Lorne whistled. "I'm impressed. You know your stuff, Kiddo."

Xander shrugged, "Not all hunters are in it for sport."

Lorne sighed, "Tell me about it. A few bad eggs always ruin it for everyone don't they? I mean, I can't walk down the street in broad daylight without a disguise because some idiots decided that humans made a tasty after meal snack a few millenia ago."

Xander shrugged. "Only takes one to fuck it up for everybody."

"Ain't that the truth." Lorne said, "So, these hunter's you're looking for... what's up with them?"

"They went missing a couple days ago. Friend of mine thinks they were on to something big, when I checked their base of operations I found some notes with the address and name of this club."

Lorne was silent for a moment, "We had a few humans in here a couple nights ago... but that's not that unusual... they come and go, you know..."

Xander nodded, wincing as the demon on stage hit a particularly off key note in it's rendition of Starlight, Moonbright.

Lorne glanced up at the demon, "Hang on a second... have to take care of something..."

Lorne walked away and Jaina grabbed Xander by the arm.

"What the hell is going on here?!" She hissed.

Xander shrugged, "Just talking to Lorne to see if he has any information."

"He's a demon!"

Xander shrugged. "You know where the word demon comes from?"

Jaina looked at him like he was nuts. "Who cares?"

Xander continued as if she hadn't spoke. "Back when the English language was being hammered out there were a few small villages in Germany that ran into a dimensional portal. A bunch of strange looking creatures came through, pretty much confused and scared out of their wits by the fact that something had just ripped them out of their homes. Now when these poor creatures ran into the villagers, who were also frightened out of their minds, there was violence. Some villagers died, and they summoned some help. The help came in the form of three very wise mages from the north. They managed to mediate the dispute, and send the creatures home."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, I'm getting to that." Xander said patiently. "When it was all over the villagers asked the Mages what those things were... and the Mages answered them as best the could. They called them 'Dimensional Monsters'. Of course the word monster back then meant pretty much anything that wasn't human or animal. The villagers couldn't understand the word 'dimensional', so they just called them D-Monsters... which quickly got shortened to D-mons... an finally, demons."

Jain blinked. "Nice history lesson. What's that got to do with anything?"

Xander sighed, "What it means is this, not all demons are evil. Many of the ones that are 'evil' by our standards are just trying to survive. And a lot of them just want to be left alone."

Jaina grumbled. "This is still our turf. They can't have it."

Xander shrugged. "It was their's once. Before We drove them out. Some of them think the same way you do, Jaina. And that's one of the reasons you're fighting a war today."

Jaina fell silent as Xander turned to speak to the Host who had returned a few moments earlier.

"I've never met a human who knew that story before." Lorne said quietly, "Even I only heard it as the type of urban myths you hear over drinks. How'd you hear it?"

"I had a friend who was held prisoner by the black mage who opened that portal to distract the three mages from the castle they were protecting."

"What happened?"

"The castle burned." Xander said quietly, "No survivors."

"Damn. That's a bummer." Lorne said calmly.


Lorne shrugged it off, "Look, I might know what happened to those boys you're looking for."


"Yeah. Three of them came in here last night, looking for information on a fifth circle summoning that was supposed to happen. They left with one of my regulars. I haven't seen any of them back."

"Fifth circle?" Xander's heart fell.

"Yeah. Bad news, sweet cheeks." Lorne said.

"You know anything about it?"

Lorne looked at him appraisingly. "Yeah, maybe. You can try a place just out of town... it's up in the hills. Some hot springs they might be using to channel the power for the raising."

"Thanks." Xander said as Lorne jotted down directions.

"No problemo. Good luck, a fifth circle is bad for business... all that carnage keeps my patrons busy, you know?"

Xander chuckled, "I hear you. Cya."

"Anytime, baby face." Lorne said, smiling. "Come back again, maybe I can get you up on stage."

Xander shook his head, "I don't think so."

Andrezj Konzaki grumbled as he made his way from the back of the shop, where he kept his modest living quarters.

"Alright! Alright!" He said, thumping along on his prosthetic legs. "I'm coming! Stop banging on the damned door!"

The banging intensified until he finally arrived at the door and threw it open, covering the door with his shotgun.

Xander rushed in, brushing the Atchisson aside. "We got major problems, Andy."

"What...?" Andy growled as the girl, Jaina walked in past him. "The fuck are you doing here this late!?"

"You get those molds, Andy?"

"Yeah... why?"

"I need some ammo, fast."

Andy closed the door, growling. "Kid, it don't work that way..."

"Have you tried the molds yet?"

"Well, yeah... I melted down and made a couple dozen to test em as soon as they came in."

"I'll take them." Xander said, his voice deadly serious. "What do you have around here in the way of anti-tank weapons?"

Andy stopped dead in his tracks and stared at Xander, beside him Jaina did the same.

"Kid. You better talk fast."

"We got a fifth circle entity coming down our throats, Andy. That's a Demon with a capital 'D'." Xander said, pulling clips out of his pocket and laying them down on the workbench.

"Slow down kid, Fifth what?"

"We don't have TIME, Andy." Xander said, then sighed. "Look... Ninth circle demons are the weakest, 1st circle are practically gods. A fifth circle demon is pretty much immune to most normal weapons, swords, crossbows, probably bullets... general shit like that. If it gets up and moving here in L.A. we'll be looking at a bloodbath."

Andy considered his words, finally nodding and walking across to a section of the wall. He flipped a switch and the wall panel slid away to reveal a heavy weapons cache. "What do you need kid?"

Xander walked over, "The Atchisson with the M203 under the barrel, and two of those LAWS."

Andy nodded, reluctantly and retrieved the automatic shotgun and the two fiberglass tubes from the wall racks. "I hope you know how to use these, kid."

"So do I." Xander muttered under his breath, then raised his voice. "I'll need ammo for the Atchisson and the launcher, HE preferably for the 40mm."

Andy nodded. "You know kid, I don't usually run a tab."

"I'm good for it." Xander said tensely.

Andy nodded. "I know you are kid. Don't know how I know, but I know you are."

Xander nodded, "Thanks. Where do you have those silvertips you said you made up?"

"In the green box on the bench." Konzaki nodded toward the bench as he slid crates out from another compartment.

Xander found the ammo quickly, about a clip and a half's worth laid out neatly in the small green box. He quickly started fitting the ammo into his empty clips.

"Ok, kid." Andy said, dropping a bag on the table as Xander kept loading the clip. "Five stick clips for the Atchisson, fully loaded with Rhino slugs. They ain't silver, but they should rip a decent size hole in anything you point 'em at. Got twenty grenades for the '203, HE like you wanted."

"Thanks," Xander fit the last round into the clip, leaving it half full. He did a mental tally, <Three and a half clips, fifty twelve gauge shells, twenty 40mm grenades, and two antitank rockets... I fucking hope it's enough.>

Xander stuff the slips in his pocket, cast about for a moment until he spotted a canvas military duffel bag. He dumped the contents out onto the floor.

"Hey! That's my shit, kid!"

"Sorry." Xander said, fitting the Atchisson and the two LAWS into it. He flipped the duffel over his shoulder, then tossed the black ammo bag over the other.

"Look, kid," Andy began, "I know a guy who works the same job here in town... He's helped keep L.A. a little safer for the past few years. I'll give him a call."

"Good. I can use the help, " Xander said, flipping Andy the directions Lorne had given him.

Andy grabbed the pad and started dialing. He let it ring, and ring, and ring. Finally he returned the phone to the cradle and shook his head. "Shit. He's out."

Xander shrugged, " Too bad." then turned back to Andy and Jaina. "Jaina, call Gunn... get him to give you a ride home."

"What!? No fucking way! I'm not letting you get yourself killed..."

"Jaina!" Xander snapped. "I am not going into a fucking warzone with an amateur who hasn't proven herself."

Jaina took a step back. "Hey! Listen to me you arrogant...!"

Xander cut her off, "I don't have time for this. Tell Gunn... that if I'm still alive come tomorrow I'll drop by."

With that Xander turned and vanished out the door.

Jaina stared after him for a moment, before letting out an aggravated scream.

"Kid's got a point, Girl." Andy said, "He walks the walk... he knows what he's getting into, you don't."

"That's bullshit!" Jaina challenged him. "He could get killed doing this alone!"

Andy shrugged, "Some people work better alone. I used to know a guy that the kid reminds me of... their crusades choose them, they don't have much choice in it."

Jaina growled, "Do I look like I care about his crusade!?"

Andy shrugged, "Most people don't care about the crusades of others. I do. It was my honor to know the first man I met like that, and I have a feeling it will be my honor to know this one as well. The phone's on the wall, kid, go home... try and get some sleep. If Xander was right, and he can't stop it tonight... we'll all be plenty busy by tomorrow."

Xander walked around his bike before he got on, he pulled the cover off the headlight and unscrewed it, then did the same for the taillight. When that was done he straddled the black bike and hit the starter, feeling the satisfying roar vibrate through him.

Xander twisted the throttle and roared out of the lot, the tires squealing and smoking behind him as he leaned over the handlebars and aimed the bike for the hills.

The man looked over the small clearing that surrounded the natural hot spring. He'd been staking it out for three days now, ever since he got a phone call in the middle of the night from an old friend that he would never see again.

He calmly lie in wait as the cult moved in, dragging their sacrifices along with them. Outwardly he didn't show emotion but inwardly he snarled when he saw two girls young enough to be his daughter in the ranks of the victims to be. The man picked up the sporting crossbow and cranked back the heavy string, letting a bolt drop into the slot.

<Should have brought a couple more guys.> He growled. He tilted his head, then nodded once as he broke from cover and headed for the cultists who were already moving to cast their spell.

<I have to get down there before they cast that damned summoning!>

The lead cultist smiled as he looked over the process. <Not long now.>

Already the summoning spell was underway, and soon Der'Lok would be on the plane of Earth once more. The twelve sacrifices they had would ensure the demon's obedience for the next twelve days that the spell would hold him here. Twelve days to create such havoc and chaos that no one had ever seen.

The man smiled again. Life was good. Death was better.

Xander pushed the bike hard, not knowing how much time he had if he had any at all. The cars on the road went by in a blur as the black Ninja raced along at over a hundred and thirty miles per hour.

His eyes and senses were amped up as high as he could make them, processing the information that he was taking in at rates many times what they would normally work at. He wove through traffic, often becoming visible to the startled drivers around him only when he crossed their headlights to jockey for a better position.

Ahead of him he could see the hills looming, and Xander twisted the throttle even farther as he pushed the bike faster and harder then he had tried to date.

The man let the first shot fly from the crossbow when he reached thirty yards. The black and steel shaft flashed through the air and embedded itself in the throat of the closest cultist. The man went down in a gurgle and a spray of blood as a cry of rage went up in the clearing.

The man grinned tensely, his teeth clamped around an unlit cigar, and racked the crossbow action back again to load another bolt into the slot. "Come on you sick demon lovers! Come and get me!"

The summoners increased the pace of their chant, their voices almost comical as terror spread through the ranks.

"Jesus, it's the fucking Archer!"

The incredulous cry was cut off by a liquid gurgle as a black fiberglass shaft appeared in the screamer's throat. As he went down the man in black tactical armor cranked another bolt into the slot of his crossbow and shifted his aim to take out the lead summoner.

<Take that one out and the spell is screwed.> His finger squeezed the trigger on the crossbow, unleashing another bolt.

As the black shaft flashed across the intervening air one of the cultist neophytes leapt in front of his superior, taking the lethal shot square in his chest. As the neophyte went down the Archer cursed.

"Sonuva!" He cranked another bolt into the crossbow, but his window of opportunity had flashed by as blindingly fast as one of his crossbow bolts.

The lead summoner completed his spell and a crackling of energy worked its way across the spring.

"Oh hell." The Archer said softly, his voice drowned out by the sudden eruption of screams around him.

<Something tells me that lightshow is NOT a good thing.> Xander twisted the throttle again as he cut onto the dirt track that lead toward the spring he was looking for.

The Archer fired another shot, dropping another cultist in his tracks, before turning to the containment circle where he could already see flashes of lightning.

"Oh hell." He repeated, dropping the crossbow to the ground. It wasn't going to be of any use to him for the duration of this fight.

A red glow was coming up from the circle and he suddenly found himself standing in the center of a bunch of prostrate cultists as Der'Lok suddenly appeared in the circle. As the huge demon screamed in excitement as he drew in a shuddering breath of air.

"Soooo Coooold... Freessshhhhh..." The Demon growled, "Soooo Gooooddd tooo beee baaaackkk!!"

Archer reached behind his back, "Oh Hell."

The lead cultist got to his feet, screaming. "The sacrifices! Kill the sacrifices!"

<Like hell you will!> Archer spun around, his sword clearing the sheath on his back. With that thought he leapt into the midst of the cultists even as they lunged for the twelve teenage girls bound tightly in the clearing.

Xander burst through a series of small bushes, wincing as the armored bottom of his bike dug a furrow in the soft ground. He'd had to lose the track a while back, and the Ninja sure as hell wasn't built for this.

He took in the scene in an instant. Big demon. Bunch of bozo's dressed like hari krishna wannabes. One guy with a mean sword trying to keep the weirdoes in the robes from getting to a bunch of bound children.

<The weird thing is that I'm not finding anything weird here...> Xander mused as he put the bike to the handle again and aimed for the closest concentration of weirdoes.


<Geronimo!?> Archer turned to one side just in time to see a black clad figure lay his bike down and crash through a dozen cultists. <Who the hell says Geronimo anymore!?>

Xander climbed up from the mass of broken limbs, pulling the duffle bag up with him. Around him the cultists were mostly just groaning in pain, and he was fine with that. He quickly pulled the Atchison clear of the bag and brought it to his shoulder.

"If you're wearing a dress, it's open season!"

The Cultists actually paused at that declaration, three of them reacting defensively. "They're not dresses! They're ceremonial robes!"

Xander stopped when he heard that. With one hand he flipped his helmet off and looked at the speakers, his face filled with incredulity. "Do I *look* like I give a shit!?"

With that three of the cultists charged him. Xander didn't hesitate, he could see the hulking demon just beyond them and knew that he didn't have time to deal with the cultists. Xander pulled the trigger and the big shotgun bucked heavily in his hands.

The heavy slug caught the closest cultist in the chest, knocking him back a half dozen feet before he hit the ground sprawling.

Xander shifted aim, "If you want to live... RUN!"

Most of the cultists actually took the advise and scattered. The rest paused just long enough for Xander to shift his aim, fire a round skyward, and move to cover them again.

"Ummm... Yeah. Run. Gotcha." The rest of them followed that ones lead.

That left Xander, The leader of the cultists, the man in black, and one very pissed off demon trying to break free of the containment circle that currently bound him.

Archer looked between the leader of the cultists and the strange young man with the Atchison. <Konzaki must have sold him that.... Andy doesn't sell to anyone he doesn't trust.>

Archer turned on the cultist, "Cancel the goddamned spell! Send that bastard back!"

"I... I can't!" The man screamed, "The spell can't be reversed! It's got to run its course!"

"How long?"


"How long is 'it's course'??"

"Tw... twelve days..." The man choked out.

Archer's eyes widened and his fists whitened as he tried to keep from killing the bastard in cold blood. "You sunova bitch."

Xander backed up nervously, his shotgun aimed at the Demon battering away at the wards that surrounded it. "Uh... guys? How long will those hold that thing?"

Archer glared at the man again, "Well!?"

The man shook his head, "Not long... few minutes. If we kill the sacrifices we can control the demon..."

The Archer looked at the man in disgust but was saved from having to respond when Xander spoke up. "How about we feed you to the nice demon, then kill the fucker?"

"You c...can't kill him!" The Cultist said confidently, "He is immune to all weapons..."

"Forged by man. Yadda yadda yadda. Heard that song and dance before. Friend of mine used to say, That was then..." Xander pulled the two LAWS from his duffel bag, "This is now."

The Archer stared at the fiberglass tubes and smiled. "I like the way you think. Don't know who the fuck you are, but I like the way you think."

"Right. Introductions later." Xander said, "Don't suppose you've got any better ideas?"

"No... why?"

"Cause I'm running a tab with a friend on these things, and I'd like to return them intact."

The Archer laughed, "Konzaki let you run a tab? That old fucker must like you."

Xander shrugged and looked at the other man. The man looked to be in his mid to late thirties, average build, and the type of looks that Xander himself often used to his advantage. Meaning the guy didn't look like a demon hunter. He looked like an accountant. "Guess so."

The Archer smiled, then pounded the cultist with his elbow, knocking the man unconscious "Let's get these girls loose and on the move while we still can..."

"Right." Xander nodded, pulling a pocketknife from his jacket and moving on the closest one.

The Archer did the same, moving from girl to girl until they were all loose. "Run. Get away from here, stick together... find a cop. You got it?"

They all nodded fearfully.

"Go!" He yelled, and they all jumped and ran.

The Archer walked back over to where the boy was standing. "They call me the Archer. You?"

"Harris, Xander." Xander said calmly, handing the man one of the LAWS. "You can call me Xander. How come you got the name, Archer? Use a bow?"

"Nope." The man shook his head, "Crossbow. But I guess they'd just feel stupid if they called me the Crossbow Guy."

Xander snickered as he gave a quick yank on the LAWS tube, extending it to its full size. "That makes a weird kinda sense."

Beside him, Archer did the same and lifted the tube to his shoulder. "I always thought so..."

Below them the demon was thrashing against the wards, and the energy surrounding it was looking faint. With a final thrust it broke loose and started to charge up the slope toward the two crouched warriors.

"Think these have a chance?" Archer asked rhetorically.

Xander shrugged, "Maybe. If they had managed to make the sacrifice? Not a sliver of one... but he should still be pretty weak from the summoning."

The Demon closed half the distance between them.

"Guess we find out, huh?"

"On three?" Xander asked.

"Nah." Archer replied, and fired the weapon.

Xander fired an instant later, and the two rockets streaked through the air and impacted into the huge creature. The Archer's rocket took the demon direct in the chest, rocking it back onto his haunches as the antitank weapon detonated and ripped a huge chunk of flesh from its body. Xander's rocket struck to the left, blowing it's shoulder joint apart and ripping the huge left arm form the beast.

It roared in pain, but kept coming after them.

"Not good." Archer said, drawing his sword again. "Time for plan B."

"You have a plan B?" Xander asked, swallowing hard.

The Archer drew a satchel from his shoulder, showing it to Xander. It was a small explosives satchel, equipped with a timer. The Archer quickly set the time for thirty seconds, and turned back to Xander. "Nice meeting you, kid."

"What are you?" Xander looked in shock, then shook his head. "No! Wait!"

"No time!" The Archer said as he broke from cover and charged the Demon.

Xander whipped out his FiveSevens and fired for effect, aiming at the creatures glowing eyes as the Archer rushed it.

The silver bullets stung as they ripped into Der'Loks head and face. The Archer never paused, he just kept running until he got close enough, then he muttered a silent prayer and flung the satchel charge in an over hand motion at the screaming monster's mouth.

<Bingo!> He screamed mentally as the small package scored a direct hit, and landed right between the two jagged rows of teeth. The explosion went off a few seconds later, taking the Demon's head and a sizable chunk of its torso with it. The gore splattered across the Archer as he was thrown back by the blast and sent rolling along the hill.

As he laid there, not really sure if he was alive or dead, he saw a smirking face come into view above him.

"Nice one." Xander said, looking down at the gore covered body.

"Awww shut up." The archer groaned as he felt around his pockets, retrieved a cigar, and put it in his mouth. Not until he had done that did the man sit up. "I'm getting to old for this shit."

Xander snickered, then sat down beside him. "I'm having the opposite problem lately..."

The Archer looked aside at the young kid, "Thanks for the help."

"No problem." Xander said simply, "All in a nights work. You gonna light that thing?"

Archer took the cigar out of his mouth and looked at it longingly, "Nope. Can't."


Archer flicked the cigar away, a disgusted look on his face. "Wife is badgering me to quit. She says it's bad for the girls."

"Ah." Xander smiled. "Listen to her, sounds like a good woman."

"She is."

"So." Xander said, looking down at the smoking remains of the Demon.


"I guess I'd better go... get the rest of this stuff back to Konzaki..."

"Yeah... and the cops will show up soon too."

Xander got up and extended his hand. Archer grabbed it and Xander pulled him up. "Good luck explaining the dry cleaning bill to the wife."

Archer looked down at his clothes in disgust. "Thanks for reminding me."

"No problem." Xander said cheerfully as he picked up the duffel bag and stuffed his things back into it. "It's what I do."

Konzaki looked up as the door opened and Xander walked in, his jacket tattered and his jeans torn. "You look like hell kid. Can I take that as a good sign?"

Xander chuckled. "A very good sign. City is safe for another twenty four hours."

Xander dropped the duffel bag and the ammo satchel on the floor, "Had to use the LAWS..."

Konzaki growled. "That's gonna cost ya."

Xander groaned. "I'll find some Vamps with some loose change tomorrow night."

"You do that." Andy chuckled a little roughly.

"Say, you know a guy who goes by the name Archer?"

"Yeah, he was the guy I tried to call... He was there?"

Xander nodded tiredly as he dropped onto a hard chair.

"Good. Glad he was on the ball." Andy said.

"Yeah." Xander said, "I wondered who stopped it the last time 'round."


"Never mind." Xander said as he got up. "Here..."

Xander dropped a wad of bills on the workbench. "That's about three grand. All I've got except for some living money, consider it a down payment."

"I'll do that." Andy slid the cash away, not bothering to count it. That fact bothered him and, not for the first time he wondered why he trusted this kid so much.

Xander turned and walked to the door. "I'm gonna find a hotel. See ya in a day or two."

"Ok, kid. Cya."

Xander walked out to his bike and hit the starter, listening to the engine roar to life as he fit his helmet on. <What a night. Damn I miss Elan.>

He hit the clutch and shifted into gear, and peeled out of the small lot and headed for the cheap side of town.

Xander hit the brake when he spotted a garish neon sign announcing vacancy's ahead, it wasn't the nicest place but considering the low state of his funds he couldn't be terribly choosy. He was about to shut the bike down when he heard a scream from a short distance away.

Xander slumped. <I can't get a single damned night of peace can I?>

He shifted gears and spun the bike around, heading in the direction of the scream, hopping the curb and heading for a nearby alley.

Amanda Byrnes ran for her life, the five *things* chasing her hot on her heels. She screamed as she ran, the terror of whatever the creatures behind her were finding an outlet in her almost hoarse throat.

She didn't know where she was running, she just ran. The alley seemed to close in on her as she ran for the other side of it. Just as she reached the far side a large figure stepped into her path, barring her way.

Amanda fell to the ground, clawing backward as the figure walked toward her.

He leaned forward, and smiled. She suddenly calmed as the friendly smile washed over her. The man extended his hand, "Get behind me, Miss."

She swallowed and took his hand, nodding dumbly as he stepped between her and the things.

As he stood there, she found her voice. "You... you're... you."

He chuckled slightly, "Why yes I am."

Hans Holan slowed to a stop as he saw the big man standing between him and his prey. The man was obviously a muscle builder. Hans sneered, <More food.>

"Fan out guys... Looks like our meal order just doubled."

The vampires around him chuckled and laughed as they spread out and moved to take the big man from all sides.

The man smiled softly as they came at him and ran his hand through his hair. "Your kind never learns, Nosferatu."

The vampires looked confused. "Huh?"

The man rolled his eyes and took a step closer to them. "No respect for tradition either."

One of the vamps eyes widened. "Hey! I know you... you're...!"

He was cut off when the roar of a motorcycle caused them to turn around. They saw that the alley was cut off behind them, a figure in a tattered black leather jacket dismounting the bike and taking his helmet off.

The figure casually unbuttoned his jacket and let it swing open. "Hey, private party or can anyone join?"

The big muscle builder smiled. "Depends. What side?"

The figure chuckled, "Whichever side gets to dust the fang boys here."

"In that case," The man grinned and took another quick step closer, clobbering the closest vamp with a heavy right fist that sent him flying back a dozen feet. "Be my guest."

"Cool." The figure in black grinned, pulling two pistols from under his jacket and aiming at the closest vampire to him.

Xander thumbed the selector to three shot mode and put a burst into the vampires chest. He figured his aim must be improving as at least one of the silver manglers dug into the vampires shriveled heart and dusted it in its tracks. He calmly shifted his attention to a second vampire he was tracking from the corner of his eye with his second pistol.

As he triggered another three rounds into that vamp, then cursed as the vampire went down screaming but didn't dust. He was moving to follow through when he caught sight of motion in the corner of his eye and ducked instinctively.

Two Vampires flew over his head, propelled by a pair of massive blows from the big man on the other side. Xander's eyes widened in shock. <Jesus! He's stronger then Buffy!>

He jumped back to his feet and yelled, "Hey! Watch where you toss the flying undead, man! I like my head where it is!"

The man chuckled as he decked another vampire. "Sorry! Haven't worked with a partner in... well, its been a LONG time."

Xander frowned, something in the voice nagging at him. He ducked a punch from a vamp who got too close and quickly shifted his eyes into enhanced mode as he backhanded the vampire with his FiveSeven.

"Fuck!" The vampire moaned, "You broke my jaw!"

"Like Cordy always said," Xander quipped, "Duh!"

"Hey, here's another chapter from the book of Cordelia. " Xander grinned as he followed through with a kick to the groin with his steel capped boots. As the vampire fell over in pain, Xander assumed a mocking look on his face, "What? Not a big reader?"

The vampire didn't respond, it just kept groaning until Xander put a burst into it's chest and finished the vampire off.

The man was fighting two vampire at once, looking like he was enjoying himself, easily fending the two bloodsuckers off. Xander's eyes widened as he recognized the man's face. <Holy SHIT!?>

Xander ducked low as another flying vampire nearly took his head off, "Yo! You mind just dusting them and being done with it!? I get enough Dodgeball in school!"

The man smiled a little self consciously. "Sorry... Just needed the exercise."

"Exercise he says," Xander rolled his eyes and shot one of the vamps with a single shot to the heart, waiting to make sure it dusted before he moved on to the next. Another shot, another dusted vamp.

"That only leaves your dance partner, Kev!" Xander said, grinning as he leaned against the wall and watched.

"Don't..." Kevin Sorbo muttered as he dodged a punch from the vamp and returned a jarring blow that forced the vampire back a step. "Call me Kev."

Xander rolled his eyes and pulled a stake from his pocket. "Here!"

Kevin Sorbo caught the piece of wood in mid air and turned it around just in time to catch the last vampire solidly in the heart. As it dusted he looked up, "Thanks."

"No trouble." Xander said walked forward, looking past the actor to the girl behind him. "You ok, Ma'am?"

"I... I... They... What?" She stammered a little helplessly.

Xander shook his head and smiled, "Just remember two things, ok?"

"What two?"

"Don't invite anyone into your house after dark, and carry one of these." Xander tossed her one of the gold plated crosses he was still carrying.

Amanda caught it reflexively and stared at it, shaking. "No.... They can't... this can't..."

"Like the man said," Kevin said gently, "Just remember the rules and don't worry about anything else. Ok?"

She nodded helplessly as Kevin gently guided her out of the alley. "Do you live nearby?"

"Y... yes."

"I'll walk you home."

Xander rumbled the bike to a stop as he watched Kevin Sorbo step down from the old apartment building. The big man spotted him instantly and crossed the empty street to meet him. Xander eyed the man warily as he approached and spoke first.

"So, you really the actor?"

Kevin nodded.

"That's some power you pack in your punch."

Kevin shrugged, looking a little uncomfortable. "I work out a lot."

Xander laughed out loud, "You knocked those vamps three quarters the length of that alley, dude. I've fought beside three Slayers and they couldn't have done that with one punch. So give me another one."

Kevin sighed, looking at the boy. "I'd invite you for a drink... but you're obviously not old enough."

"I'm older then I look," Xander said smirking. "Caritas?"

Kevin looked surprised, then nodded. "Caritas." He said wearily.

Xander got there first and walked in, looking around and wincing as he caught the last lines of Chevy Van as sung by a Tereen Demon. He shook his head and made his way to the bar.

"You again," The bartender said as he walked up, "Same?"

Xander smiled, "Scotch. Not Scottish."

The bartender laughed, "You got it."

Xander leaned back against the bar and looked around as he waited.

"Baby face!"

Xander looked around, surprised, and spotted Lorne coming up to him. "Hello Lorne."

"So, how'd it go?"

"How'd what go?"

This time Xander turned to the other side, surprised to see that Kevin had snuck up on him. "Hi Kev."

Kevin winced. "I told you not to..."

"Kev, Bubula, so good to see you again!" Lorne gushed.

Kevin rubbed his temples and looked at the ground. "Why do I bother?"

Finally he looked up again, and repeated what he had asked. "How did what go?"

"Oh, that." Lorne looked at Xander, "Baby face over here was looking for some information on a Fifth Circle summoning that was going down tonight."

"What!?" Kevin looked shocked, "Where? When?"

"Relax." Xander said, "Handled it. Or rather I helped a guy called The Archer handle it. Nice guy, weird name though."

"I've heard of him." Kevin said, "Never met him though."

Xander shrugged, "He throws a mean satchel charge."

Kevin looked confused, but brushed it off. "Look, kid..."

"Xander." Xander interrupted.


"Xander. My name is Xander."

"Ok, fine. Xander... About tonight...."

Kevin trailed off as Xander grinned at him. "About tonight... Whatever you think..."

Xander interrupted him, "Let's go take a booth."

He nodded and the two of them left Lorne at the bar and grabbed an empty booth in a quiet corner.

"How long?"


Xander looked him in the eyes, his own dancing with humor. "How long since you last worked with a partner? You said it was a long time."

"I don't remember." Kevin said quickly.

"I think you do." Xander kept grinning.

Kevin sighed, "I don't know what you think you know, but..."

Xander shrugged, "I know the Greek gods really existed. I know they were really powerful, and as close to eternal as you get in this universe. I know the Norse Gods were aliens who took a liking to the Norse culture. I know that the Egyptian gods were aliens called the Goa'uld, who were a really nasty bunch. You want to know what else I know?"

Kevin Sorbo sat there, staring at him for a long moment. "How do you know all that?"

Now it was Xander's turn to sigh. If his hunch was right, and the man sitting across from him was who he thought he was, then he had to lay the cards down. If he was wrong, then doing so could be potentially disastrous. Finally he sighed and played his gut.

"You ever hear of an organization called the Kine'Iende?"

Sorbo blinked. "Yeah... But only rumors."

Xander smiled, "Then you've heard more then most people."

"What does a Knighthood that hasn't existed for thousands of years have to do with anything?"

Xander smiled, a little sadly. "You could say that I am... or was... a member."


"Long story." Xander said quietly.

"I have time."

Xander laughed bitterly, "Time..."


"Never mind." Xander said quietly.

Kevin was quiet for a long moment, not certain what to make of the kid sitting beside him. Finally he sighed, "I guess I should have expected this when I started this series... sooner or later."

And he began to talk.

"You know, Kev..." Xander smiled as Kevin winced, "Just one thing I want to know..."

"And that is?"

"That ep where you were turned into a pig, that really happen?"

Kevin grimaced and nodded, then paused. "Hey. Wait a second... We haven't made that episode yet!"

It was Xander's turn to grimace. "Oops."

"Don't oops me. What are you holding back?"

Xander shrugged, "You know those time travel epi..."

"Whoa! That's enough." The demigod held up his hands. "I don't want to know."

"You're not the only one." Xander muttered, holding up his drink and staring at the brown liquid.

"So... what are you going to do now?"

"Find a motel." Xander said finally.

"Not what I meant." Hercules said dryly.

Xander shrugged, "Same thing I've done for the past four and a half years or so... fight demons. It's the one thing I'm good at."

Hercules heard the depreciating tone in the boy's slightly slurred voice and frowned. "Did you come here on your bike?"


"I don't think it'd be such a good idea for you to drive home."

"I only had a couple drinks." Xander protested, "I can handle more then that..."

Hercules shook his head, "I don't think you can. Come on, I'll give you a lift."

"But... but..." Xander protested lightly, but gave in as the iron grip locked on his shoulder.

Hercules lifted him up and firmly guided him out of the bar.

Xander opened his eyes to the streaming of light on his face and looked around, disorientated. <What the hell?>

The room he was in looked expensive. Far more then he could afford at the moment, and Xander quickly checked his mind for an explanation.

<Oh Shit.> His mouth dropped open as he recalled the events of the night before. <Jesus, did I really meet Hercules??>

He threw the covers off and cast about for his clothes. He found them, cleaned and pressed, the jacket even mended expertly, folded on a chair by the bed. He shook his head in wonder as he pulled them on, and straightened himself out. He checked himself in the mirror and almost flinched. His clothes looked good, but he could stand some grooming.

His hair had grown out a little bit, not much, but enough to be scruffy and he needed a shower. He reluctantly stripped down again when he spotted a bathroom just off from his room.

Twenty minutes later he emerged, still a little scruffier then usual, but clean and dry and feeling pretty good for a guy with a raging hangover.

<Damn. I really can't hold my liquor in this body.> He moaned as he quickly centered himself and began purging the remnants of the alcohol from his bloodstream and quickly blocked out the pain signals that were hammering away at his brain. <Thank god for Elan's little tricks. Better then Aspirin.>

That done he got dressed again and hesitantly stepped out of the room, looking up and down the hall as he wondered where to go.

"You're awake I see."

Xander shot Herc a dirty look, "No, really?"

Hercules wasn't perturbed by the sarcastic response, in fact he seemed to find it amusing. He slid a plate of food across the table and motioned Xander to sit down.

Xander obeyed, looking at the food as a hunger came over him as it always did when he had just been playing with any of Elan's techniques. The meal was a big one, what Xander had grown up calling a lumberjacks breakfast. Steak, eggs, and pan fried potatoes. Of course, Herc also included some things that weren't on a lumberjack's menu, and Xander also found himself wolfing down a whole grapefruit, a bowl of oatmeal, and two fair size oranges. On the side were two large pieces of something toasted that Xander wasn't a hundred percent sure about.

"Unleavened bread." Herc said, smiling when Xander looked at it suspiciously. "Old habit."

Xander nodded, then ate those too.

Hercules smiled, his face a little surprised. "That's some appetite you have there."

"Sorry." Xander said around a chunk of bread, "Comes from using the self healing tricks that a friend taught me... leaves me wiped for energy."

Hercules shook his head, grinning. "Don't apologize. Last time I knew someone who could match me bite for bite was a few thousand years ago. It's nice not to be the last person finished for once."

Xander chuckled, "I've always been an... enthusiastic eater, but lately it's picked up a lot."

Herc shrugged, "I wouldn't worry about it. You need to pack on some weight, especially if you're staying in the demon hunting business."

"Tell me about it," Xander groaned slightly, "I almost got killed by a vamp a couple weeks ago... I mean, she was old and strong sure, but before the... well, before... I would have been able to at least break free."

"How'd you get away?"

"She let me go." Xander said bitterly. "I got away because she's not supposed to attract undo attention in my hometown just yet... not until the next Armageddon anyway."

"The next....??" Hercules raised his eyebrows.

"When you live on the Hellmouth it's a semi-annual occurrence." Xander said as he reached for a second serving of eggs.

Hercules looked pensive. "I've heard of that... I thought it was closed..."

"It is." Xander said, "For now. Or it's dormant or some such crap."


"But a year from now..." Xander let the sentence hang.

"Ah." Herc said, "I see."

"Glad someone does. Mystical mumbo jumbo gives me a migraine." Xander complained as he finished off the meal.

Herc chuckled easily at that statement, "You're not the only one."

Xander sighed, "I know. But now I've got a year to go before my life even starts again... if you can understand that."

"Can't say that I can," Herc shrugged, "But then I'm not really sure of your situation..."

"I thought you said you didn't want to know?" Xander smiled slyly.

"I don't." Herc said, "But maybe you should fill me in on the basics so I can at least understand what you're talking about."

Xander nodded, "Well... it all starts with the end of the world..."

"Doesn't it always?"

"Hey, who's telling this story?" Xander smirked.


"So we were facing down another apocalypse... Don't suppose you know the plural of that word by any chance? Never mind... anyway, turns out that we couldn't stop it... but we knew about a way to 'backstep' in time by seven days... have another shot at it..."


"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" Xander asked rhetorically, "Anyway... suffice to say it didn't work the way it was supposed to."

"They never do."

"Right. Anyway, as it turns out I find myself five years in the past... not seven days. And I'm stuck in my younger body too... And, I'm not bragging or anything, but I was pretty buff before this happened."

Herc nodded skeptically, "Right."

"Fine. Don't believe me." Xander said, mildly insulted.

Hercules chuckled, "This end of the world thing... think you can stop it this time around?"

"Think!? When I find that damned elf I'm gonna shove something so far up his..." Xander raged.

"Ahem..." Herc held up his hands, "Enough said. I don't need the mental image."

"Sorry." Xander said sheepishly.

"No problem. Been there, believe me."

Xander nodded and sat back. "Damn. That was a good meal."

"Thanks." Herc grinned, "I've had time to practice my cooking."

"It paid off."

"I like to think so."

Xander sighed again, then looked around. "I really hate to eat and run, but I have to check in with some people... let them know I lived through last night. Where did we leave my bike?"

"It's out front." Herc said, "I tossed it in the backseat..."

Xander blinked. "You *tossed* a Ninja 750 into the back of your convertible?"

Herc shrugged, "It's gonna cost me a bit to get the seats cleaned, but other then that... No Big."

Xander shook his head, "I have to stop hanging around superheroes."

"How long are you going to be in town?"

Xander shrugged, "Not sure. Long enough to score enough cash to pay for the weapons I borrowed last night to take down the Demon... After that, well I have business elsewhere."

Herc nodded, "Weapons?"

"I have a friend who does a lot of work for the government... he let me run a tab on his stock..." Xander smiled.

"How much?"

Xander shrugged, "Fifteen, twenty grand... something like that."

"How are you going to get the cash for that?"

"Contributions from civic minded vampires probably." Xander cracked a slight smile.

"You're going to steal." Herc said flatly.

Xander shrugged, "Don't have a lot of choice... The vamps have something that I need, and they won't have a lot of use for it after they're dusted."

Hercules stared at him for a long moment, trying to gauge the meaning of Xander's words. Vampires were too dangerous to leave alive, that was true, but many hunters went beyond what was dangerous and began killing anything that was different. Then Hercules remembered the Host from Caritas, and the fact that he and Xander seemed to be fairly friendly. Finally the Demigod nodded slowly, "Alright. I can help you out though."


Hercules pulled out a checkbook and scribbled down something, then handed it to Xander. Xander looked at it, and read twenty-five thousand dollars. His eyes widened, "Herc..."

"Take it." Hercules urged, "Unlike vampires I don't have to be killed to become civic minded."

Xander chuckled and nodded. "Thanks. I appreciate it."

Hercules shrugged, "I'm sure you'll pay it back some day... one way or another."

Xander rolled his eyes, "Oh great. Another debt waiting to be called in."

Then the two of them chuckled together, before Xander got up and went out to check his bike.

Xander tooled his bike through L.A., heading for Gunn's 'crib'. He wanted to make sure that Jaina and that crew didn't do anything stupid because they thought he might need help. He slowed to a halt as he approached the building, checking his Rolex out of habit.

<Enough time to handle this, drop the check with Andy, and meet Herc for lunch.> Xander grinned as he dismounted the bike and strode up to the building.

A hammering on the door of the building jarred Gunn out of his slumber; he got up slowly blinking. "What the?"

He saw Jaina out of the corner of his eye, heading for the door.

Gunn got up, and stumbled toward the door as Jaina opened it to reveal Xander Harris on the other side. Gunn frowned as the guy grinned cockily and walked in.

"Heya guys, how's it going?"

"Where have you been!?" Jaina snarled, actually backing him up a couple steps.

"Stayed with a friend last night... didn't think you'd much like a visitor showing up after dark."

"You got that right." Simms growled as he walked out.

"What happened with the big time demon?" Gunn asked, trying to keep things from degenerating into a snipe fest.

Xander shrugged, "Took him out... But it took us two antitank rockets and a satchel charge to do it... Nasty SOB."

Gunn blinked. "Damn, man. I hope I don't have to face something like that."

Xander grinned, "Good call."

"But you lived." Simms said, glaring at Xander.

Xander looked at him questioningly, "Yeah. I am. Disappointed?"


"Did I do something to piss you off?" Xander took a step up to the bigger guy, staring him in the eye.

"Hey! Whoa... calm down guys," Gunn said, slipping between them, "We're all friends here, guys..."

Simms glared at Xander for a bit, then backed down. "Yeah... right."

Xander nodded and turned away, "Look, I just wanted to drop by... let you know I'm still breathing. I've got to meet someone for lunch in a little while."

"Lunch? You've got a date?" Jaina looked at him crossly.

Xander shrugged, "He's not my type actually."

Jaina blushed slightly, though it was hard to tell with her dark skin. "Oh."

"Wait a second," Gunn objected, "First I want to know about that demon nest you took Jaina to last night."

"Nest?" Xander looked confused.

"The karaoke place." Jaina filled in helpfully.

"You mean Caritas?" Xander started laughing.

"What's so funny?"

"Caritas is a bar. Not a nest." Xander chuckled, "What do you want to know?"

"Defenses. How many vamps we'll have to take out. Stuff like that."

Xander turned serious in an instant, shaking his head. "No way. You go after Caritas and I'll be on the other side of that fight, boys and girls."


"I told you he was a fucking demon lover!"

Xander ignored the shouts and growls and stayed focused on Gunn, "Look. It's this simple. When you're fighting one enemy you don't stir up trouble with your neighbors. Caritas is a no man's land, it's great for picking up intel, keeping a few demons and vamps off the street, and more importantly the people who run it are NON-COMBATANTS. They just want to make a living like 99% of the rest of us."

"They're serving human blood!"

"That they get from blood banks, or from willing donors." Xander said, "A bar like that can't kill people... the drain on locals would be too noticeable. So they do what any good capitalist would do, they buy what they need. Besides, all that is irrelevant... only one thing matters."

"Oh yeah? What's that?"

"I like Lorne." Xander said calmly, "He's a nice guy... and I owe him a favor for helping me find out about that demon last night. I don't owe you squat."

Gunn looked at him, trying to gauge his words. "You're not kidding are you?"

Xander shook his head. "Look, not all demons are bad guys... Truth is that most of them just want to live, love, and be loved, same as you and me. It's the dangerous fuckers I hunt... and those... they're not always demonic."

Gunn took a deep breath and sunk into a chair. "Yeah... I read you. I've known some real shits that were a hundred percent human."

"You're not listening to this guy!?" Simms exclaimed in shock, "He's a fucking demon lover!"

"Who probably saved the lives of most of our crew!" Gunn snapped back, "I think that earns him a chance to say his piece."

Xander kept his attention on Gunn, who he could see was currently holding the reins of the group. "Besides... basic tactics. Don't fight a war on two fronts. You have enough to worry about with the vamps."

Gunn nodded tiredly, "That true."

"Then we don't have a problem." Xander said genially.

Gunn shook his head, "I want to see this... Caritas."

Xander shrugged, "Sounds fair. Tonight?"


"K, I'll come back by later... Ummm, how strong are your nerves?"

"Is it that bad?"

"You ever heard Ricky Skaggs sung by a demon who can't hit a single note?"

"Oh shit." Gunn groaned.

"Exactly." Xander grinned, "Anyway, I've got to find some place called O'Brien's before ten..."

"O'Brien's? That's a place down on the boulevard... invite only." Jaina objected.

"Oh?" Xander shrugged, "Easy to find?"

"Well yeah. But impossible to get in."

"I have an invite." Xander said with a smile. "But if it's so easy to find then I've got time to cruise over to Andy's and pay him for the rocket launchers."

As Xander walked out he heard Gunn mutter, "Rocket Launchers? Jesus Christ, what's next? A tactical nuke!?"

"Back so soon?" Konzaki looked up from his bench as Xander strode in.

Xander smiled, "Yep. Here to pay the debt."

Konzaki pushed back from the bench and looked at Xander, "You know you can take some more time..."

"No thanks." Xander walked up, "Here..."

He handed Konzaki a cashiers check for twenty grand. Konzaki took it and looked at it, "This is a bit much. I picked those LAWS up from some friends... they were pretty cheap."

Xander shrugged, "Add the rest to my account then, for the bullets... and whatever else I need."

"You're the boss." Andy smirked and put the check into a lock box. "You want a receipt?"

Xander laughed at the obvious joke. "No thanks. I trust you... don't know why, but I trust you."

Andy growled, "Wiseass."

"That's me." Xander said cheerfully, "How the bullets coming?"

"Not bad. I'll have your first order ready in a day or two... and some bonus stuff if you're interested?"

"Always. What have ya got?"

"Silver buckshot..." Andy slid out a bag, "I got my crosses for this mix... don't worry, didn't use up yours. Have some slugs in the works too... for those heavy duty situations."

Xander nodded, his face serious. "Speaking of that... I'm going to need something with a bit more stopping power... The FiveSeven's are perfect against vampires, but I want something that'll put down a tougher demon."

Andy thought about it and nodded, "Come over here..."

Xander followed him over to another counter. Andy reached underneath and pulled out a wooden box. "Here."

Xander opened it and whistled in appreciation. "Nice."

Inside was a custom Desert Eagle, rigged with and extended barrel and Magnaports along the top of the barrel. The back had been beefed up with recoil absorption springs. All in all, it was a big gun.

"Very nice." Xander said as he hefted the weapon, "What caliber?"

"Forty four magnum... but I could redo it if you have a preference?"

Xander shook his head, "A forty four should give me the extra kick I need... Can you make up some ammo for this too?"

Andy nodded, "No problem. You want some of the shotgun shells?"

Xander nodded, "Yeah... put me down for a box of buckshot and another of slugs... just in case."

"My kind of client." Andy grinned and rolled his chair over to his workbench and made some notes. "I'll add that gun to your account."

"Thanks Andy." Xander said, "Mind if I leave it here until you get some ammo made up? No point in carrying it until then."

"Sure, sure..." Andy said dismissively, "It'll be here for ya later, Kid."

"Thanks." Xander said, "I've gotta go... have a lunch thing. I'll be back in a couple days."

"Cya later kid."

"May I help you... Sir?" The man at the door of the restaurant eyed Xander skeptically, but his voice was respectful as he held the door open for Xander.

"I'm here for lunch," Xander handed the man a card that Herc had given him.

The doorman glanced at it and nodded, "Straight in, Sir. Mr. Sorbo is already at his table."


Xander walked in, glancing around the place as he did. He recognized no less then eight actors and actresses he knew, including two that he knew wouldn't hit it really big for another couple years. He smiled and shook his head, and quickly made his way to where Hercules was seated. "Hey Kev."

Herc grimaced comically at him, but motioned him to take a seat. "You get your business handled?"

Xander nodded as he sat down, looking at the food in front of him. "Yeah, settled the debts and talked a street gang out of raiding Caritas."


"Long story." Xander said as he reached for the glass of coke and took a drink.

Herc nodded, "Well keep them out of Caritas... I'm a partial owner of that place."

Xander looked at him oddly, and Herc shrugged. "What can I say? It keeps some of them off the streets..."

Xander grinned, "I know. I bought controlling interest in a crappier establishment before the... incident."

"Well, it is only logical." Herc grinned as he dug into his meal.

Xander chuckled and started to eat as well.

"So you know how long you'll be in town yet?"

"Another couple of days. Long enough to pick up some special ammo for my guns and then I'm heading up the coast."

"Where to?"

"Frisco." Xander replied, "I want to scope a couple of things out up there."

"After that?"

"Haven't decided yet... Probably cross-country. I have a friend who's in a jam in Delaware... I think."

"You think?"

Xander shrugged, "I'm honestly not sure of the timing."

Hercules shook his head, "You're giving me a headache."

"You? Think how I feel..." Xander muttered.

"Well, you've got a couple days... Want to come by the set this afternoon?"

"You serious?"

Herc shrugged, "Sure. Why not? We've got a big fight scene filming, should be fun to watch."

Xander grinned, "I'd love to, thanks."

"No problem."

Hercules led Xander onto the lot, smiling and nodding at the guards as they let them past. They quickly reached the Hercules set and Herc turned to Xander.

"I've got to go..." Herc grimaced, and explained. "Makeup."

Xander chuckled, and nodded. "Sure. I'll just try to stay out of the way."

Herc walked off and Xander stood there watching the chaos that seemed to pass for business as usual. There were people racing around, lugging large costumes, a frightening amount of coffee, and reams and reams of paper. Xander shook his head, a battlefield looked more organized.


Xander spun around to see a guy pointing at him, "Me?"

"Yeah you! Come over here..."

Xander walked up to him hesitantly, "What?"

"Here, get into this... the scene is coming up."

"Whoa! What!?" Xander looked at the set of prop armor the man was shoving at him.

"Don't you listen? Look, get into this and go stand in the corner over there until Herc comes around to pummel you."

"Hey man, slow down!" Xander protested, walking backwards.

"Come on, aren't you the new guy?"

Xander shook his head rapidly, "No... No new guy here. I'm just visiting the set with Kevin."

The man growled and looked around, "Damn it! Where the hell is he!?"

Xander shrugged and kept backing away.

The man turned back on him, "Look... it's not hard, ok? You just stand there and flop to the ground when Kevin takes a swing at your head."

Xander choked. <Stand there and let the REAL Hercules take a swing at my HEAD!?> "I don't think so."

"Oh for crying out..." The man cast about and spotted Kevin in his Hercules costume walking toward them, "Hey Kevin! You wanna convince your pal here to stand in for one of the guards? We're missing a guy."

Xander looked toward Hercules, head shaking, panic on his face.

Kevin grinned and shrugged, "Sure. Give me a minute."

Xander shook his head as Herc walked up to him, grinning. "Oh no! I'm not doing this!"

"You do owe me a favor..." Hercules grinned. "Though, I have to admit... twenty five grand is a pretty high paycheck for a bit scene..."

"Come on man..." Xander whined, "I thought you'd ask me to help kill a demon or something... Please! Ask me to help kill a demon or something."

Herc dropped an arm around Xander's shoulder, "come on... it won't be so bad..."

"I don't want my face plastered all over the TV! I have friends who watch this show!"

Herc sighed, "Jeez... you know how many people would love to do this?"

"Ask one of them!"

"Fine... come on." Herc said, leading Xander to the casting guy. "Get him one of the armors with the full face plate."

The man looked up and objected, "Those are for the elite guard... Those are the guys you knock around with the fly by wires deal..."

"He can handle it."

"I don't know, Kevin... Our insurance doesn't cover that I'm sure..."

"Trust me." Kevin smiled at him, an the man folded.

"You're the boss." He said miserably as Xander looked.

"When the line jerks you have to go limp, ok?" The guy looked at him seriously. "I'm not kidding..."

Xander shifted uncomfortably in the fake armor, his nose pressed flat by the faceplate. "Yeah, yeah... limp got it. Trust me, the one thing I'm good at is taking a hit."

The guy shook his head skeptically, "I don't know how Kevin keeps convincing people to do these things..."

"You're asking me!?" Xander said incredulously, "I'm the guy he talked into hooking up to this contraption."

The guy laughed and backed away, "Just remember... go limp."

Xander shook his head and hefted the fake pole arm and muttered, "Go limp he says... just fly thirty feet into a freaking mattress, and 'go limp'."

"Places everyone!"

Xander looked around to see people jogging into place around him as the set came to life.

"Alright, Lights!"

Huge floodlights came on, and Xander could feel the heat almost instantly through his plastic armor. <Jesus. I hope we don't have to do this for too long...>


The cameras whirred to life, catching the scene from all sides.


A man in a royal outfit came to his feet and pointed his finger at Hercules and Ioalus. "Arrest them!"

Xander shuffled into place along with the others around him, tensing as the fight started. Hercules swung at the guys around him and Xander heard the 'twang' of the wires snapping taught around him. When it was his turn he flinched involuntarily as he saw the wicked smile on Herc's face as the big fist came in his direction.

The blow was light enough, though it jarred Xander's head. The sudden snapping acceleration of the wire, on the other hand, shocked the breath out of him. His limbs flailed as he flew through the air.

"AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!" Xander screamed in shock as up went down and down went up and he smashed into a soft surface.

As he rolled clear of the mat he shook his head and ripped the face plate off, leaning over and breathing deeply.

"You ok, buddy?" A stagehand asked, concerned.

Xander nodded. "I'm just glad that's over."

The Director yelled out, "Cut! That was perfect! Ok, everyone back to their places for take two!"

Xander looked up, his face a mask of shock and pain. <Take TWO!?>

Xander groaned as he fell into the sofa chair at Herc's place. "I hurt *everywhere*!"

Hercules shrugged, "It's not so bad."

"Says the guy who does the hitting instead of the flying!" Xander muttered.

Herc grinned unapologetically and tossed Xander a health bar he grabbed from the cupboard. "Here. Eat."

Xander looked at it and laid it aside, "In a few minutes. First I need to see to these damn bruises."

Xander sat back and closed his eyes, groaning.

Hercules walked in and looked at him curiously, noting that the boy's heartbeat was slowing in time to his relaxed breathing. A few minutes later he saw Xander's face change color slightly, reddening as blood was directed to various parts of his body. Hercules watched the process with interest for several minutes until Xander opened his eyes and sighed.

"That's better." Xander said as he peeled the health bar out of its wrapper and practically inhaled it.

"It's been a long time since I've seen a human pull that trick." Herc commented as he tossed Xander another bar. "Good to see the technique hasn't been lost."

Xander nodded, chewing quickly. "Yeah. Comes in real handy in my line of work."

Herc chuckled, "I'll bet."

Xander chuckled, then broke into a yawn.


Xander smiled sheepishly, "Yeah... A little."

Herc nodded, "Well go crash then..."

Xander shook his head, "Can't. Have to take Gunn to Caritas."


"Leader of that street gang I told you about... have to convince him that Caritas isn't such a bad place." Xander smiled slightly.

Herc shook his head, "If it'll keep the trouble down... Take care though... and no drinking and driving."

Xander rolled his eyes, "Yes Mom."

"Get out of here!" Herc said, tossing a throw pillow at Xander as he retreated.

"So, this is the place huh?" Gunn asked as Xander led him toward an empty lot.

"Welcome..." Xander said as they crossed the threshold and stepped into the bar, "To Caritas."

Gunn goggled at the sudden appearance of a bar around him, filled with all manner of creatures that were normally his enemies. Xander led him across the room to where they grabbed stools at the bar.

The bartender came up to them, smiling as he recognized Xander. "Scotch, not Scottish... right?"

Xander shook his head, grinning. "Not tonight. Driving my bike, and I promised Kev. Give me a Coke."

The bartender shrugged and grinned back, sliding a Coke to him. Then he turned to Gunn, "What's your pleasure?"

Gunn swallowed, "A Coke will do me..."

"Here ya go." He slid a second Coke to Gunn a moment later.

The two of them turned around and leaned back, Cokes in hand, and watched the 'floor show'.

"Man, that is the second most disturbing sight I've ever seen." Gunn said, referring to the Bolgthan who was butchering a song by the beach boys.

"Second?" Xander questioned.

"I once walked in on Simms while he was... well it was an ugly sight, let me tell you."

Xander chuckled lightly, then pointed Gunn's attention to a table at the far side, "See those three over there?"



"How can you tell?" Gunn asked, staring at the three in question.

"They have a trace reddish tint to their aura's for people with eyes to see." Xander said cryptically.

Gunn turned to look at him, "What are you man!?"

Xander grinned, "You remember those really cheesy Ninja and Kung-Fu flicks?"

Gunn nodded, "You mean all those 'Your Kung-fu is weak!' shit, where their lips never match the words?"

Xander laughed, "Yeah those."

"What about 'em?"

"You remember how the old blind master of the shows always saw more then any of the young guys?"


"Well, my deal is something like that." Xander grinned, taking a sip of his glass.

"What? You're a Kung-Fu blind guy?"

"No, but it's something I got with training..." Xander glanced over at Gunn, a slightly annoyed look on his face, "And don't be such a wise ass."

Gunn shrugged, "It's what I do."

Xander paused at that, <Why does that sound familiar?>

He shook it off, then noticed that Gunn hadn't touched his drink. "Not thirsty?"

"Man, I ain't drinking nothing in this place. It's enemy turf."

Xander shrugged, "Your call... but I know one of the owners... and trust me, if anyone screwed with you in here he'd make them regret their species was born."

"Who is this guy?"

"Can't tell you that," Xander said apologetically, "But I trust him."

Gunn grimaced, then looked at his drink. The message was clear, Xander trusted the mystery man... but did Gunn trust Xander. Finally he lifted the drink to his lips and took a long pull of the soft drink.

Xander smiled and nodded at him, echoing the black man's motion.

"Baby face!"

Xander groaned and Gunn turned to see a green horned demon practically charging them, he hopped off his seat and almost spilled his coke as he got ready to defend himself.

Lorne paused, looking at Gunn in a concerned fashion. "Hey, sweet cheeks, your pal have a nerve problem?"

Xander chuckled, "Sorry about that, Lorne. Gunn here is new to the blurry line... couple nights ago his world was white and black."

"Ah." Lorne nodded and took a seat by Xander, "One of those."

"Hey, man. What's that supposed to mean!?" Gunn asked defensively

"I think he just called you a bigot." Xander grinned.

"Hey now," Lorne objected, "Is that really necessary? I didn't mean that exactly."

Gunn stiffened, "Now you listen here, you green.... whatever!"

Xander chuckled.

Lorne looked at Gunn, "Jeeez relax a little pumpkin..."

"Who're you calling Pumpkin!?"

Xander laughed out loud.

"And what are you laughing at!?" Gunn and Lorne snapped at Xander.

"I'm sorry... couldn't resist." Xander grinned, "Gunn... I think he was more likely calling you... blind."

Lorne shrugged and nodded. "That's close enough."


"Don't try to deny it, sweet cheeks. You've been living in as much a fantasy land as those poor slobs who think that humans are alone on the Earth."

"Come on, I know the truth!"

"Do you?"

Xander watched the back and forth, a slight smile on his face as he watched Gunn be drawn into a moral debate with someone he would have been trying to kill the day before.

"Damn straight I know the truth. I know about vamps and demons and..."

"But you think they're all evil..."


Lorne looked at Gunn, "Most people live in a dream land. They think that they are alone on the planet. You have been living in a nightmare, you know you're not alone... and you thought that you had enemies mounted against you. But the truth is that in reality, you have friends and enemies... both in equal proportion, kiddo."

Gunn opened his mouth to speak, then closed it as he considered the demons words. He finally sat back and shook his head. "Damned if I know what to think anymore."

Xander chose that time to speak up, "That's as good a start as any."

"How'd it go?"

Xander looked over at a chair where Hercules was watching the tube and shrugged, "Ok I guess... He's gotten over the kill anything that isn't human deal..."

"That's good."


"Why? What's wrong?"

"Well, after hearing some of those demons sing I think he's ready to kill the beach boys and a half dozen country singers." Xander grinned.

Herc laughed, "I know, I know... That's a new thing, you know?"


"Yeah... the green guy, Lorne... He's an Anagogic Demon..."

That as a new one on Xander, "A what?"

"He can read your destiny... if you sing for him." Herc said.

Xander blinked, then shook his head. "Remind me to keep my mouth shut around him."

"He's trustworthy, if that's what's worrying you?"

Xander snorted, "Nah. What worries me is that so far I've already managed to erase one entire future... I'd hate to overload him."

Herc rolled his eyes. "I doubt that's a problem."

"Maybe... Maybe." Xander said as he yawned. "I've got to crash... you mind...?"

"Go ahead. I'll see you in the morning."


Two Days Later

"You sure you're ready to head out?"

Xander nodded, "yeah... I am. Thanks for the help, Herc."

"Any time, Xander. Check back in when you're back this way."

"Count on it, big guy." Xander said as he hit the starter and revved the engine of the black racing bike.

Hercules watched as Xander roared out of sight and shook his head. "Good luck, kid."

"Hey kid, come to pick up your stuff?"

Xander nodded as he walked in, "yep. You got it all ready?"

Andrezj Konzaki nodded. "It's all here."

Xander nodded as he looked over the array of items Andy had laid out. Two boxes of shotgun shells, three boxes of 5.7mm, and another for the Israeli Desert Eagle forty four that was laying in its hardwood inlaid box. Andy had assembled a holster for the Desert Eagle that would fit Xander's assault harness and would keep the weapon snug on his hip.

"My friend sent over these 'specials' you wanted." Andy said, sliding a canvas pouch over to him.

"He got them done?" Xander grinned, opening the pouch.

"I asked him to put a rush on them."

Xander unfolded the pouch and whistled in appreciation. Inside were two SAS-styled fighting daggers with double edged silver inlaid blades. The black handles had been redone with silver and ivory Celtic Crosses. Each blade was a work of art in Xander's eyes and he smiled appreciatively as he refolded the canvas pouch. "Thanks, Andy."

"I thought that since you liked those crosses so much, you might like this as well." Andy said, as he handed Xander one last item.

Xander took it and looked at it carefully. It was a silver Celtic Cross with mother of pearl inlay and a single emerald embedded at the focal of the cross. Xander shook his head, "This must have cost a fortune, Andy... I can't take this."

Konzaki smiled, "Don't worry about it Kid. I spotted it when I was hunting down Silver crosses... I thought about melting it down for a bit... but thought you might make some use out of it."

Xander let out a soft breath. "Thanks, man."

"Don't mention it."

Xander shook his head and started gathering up his stuff. He placed everything in a set of saddlebags he had picked up for just this occasion. The ammo, gun, and knives all found their place in the soft leather bags and then Xander stood up and flipped them over his shoulder.

He extended his hand to Andy and smiled. "Thanks."

Andy took his hand and shook it, "I said, don't mention it."

Xander chuckled and turned to leave. At the door he stopped and glanced back. "Andy?"

"Yeah, kid?"

"Don't lose your head."

Before Konzaki could close his shocked mouth Xander was gone.

Xander slowed to a stop outside Gunn's building, and waited. A few moments later Gunn and Jaina stepped outside.

"So, you're really leaving?" Gunn asked.

Xander nodded, "Time for me to leave. I've got some friends that I want to check on."

Gunn nodded and he lifted his hand. Xander reached out and clasped Gunn's hand and they grinned at each other for a short while. "Good luck."

"You too, Gunn."

"Don't be a stranger, you hear?"

Xander smiled, "I live only a couple hours from here... when I settle back down I'll be sure to let you know."

"You do that." Gunn said, then glanced at Jaina before backing off and letting her talk alone.

"You coming back?" She asked, bluntly.

Xander shook his head, smiling. "Yeah... but not for a while."

"Too bad." She half smiled, looking him up and down. "We coulda been fun."

"My loss, I'm sure." Xander said.

"You're damned right." She smirked, then her smile softened and she gave him a quick hug. "Be good."

Xander grinned, "Always am. Bye, Jaina."


Then Xander waved goodbye to both her and Gunn, hit the starter, and took off.

Xander slowed the bike and came to a gentle stop by the side of the road, watching the school for one last time as the bell rang to signal the end of the day's classes.

The kids came rushing from the school, in the way he could remember doing himself so long ago. She was easy to pick out of the crowd though, she and her little group inspired an invisible barrier between them and the rest.

Xander chuckled as he watched, shaking his head with amusement as he saw another side of Buffy. A side he had never really known before. <She wasn't kidding when she said she used to out-Cordy Cordy...>

He blinked as she walked away from her friends toward him. <Huh?>

That's when he noticed the car pull up between them and instantly recognized the driver. <Joyce... Damn it's good to see her again.>

A moment later he goggled again in shock.

In the backseat of the luxury sedan sat a younger version of the little girl he had only recently come to know. <Dawn!?>

He stared at the three women, girls, whatever, in shock as Joyce pulled away from the curb. Just as the sedan pulled out of sight he shook his head in shock. <What's she doing here? Now!?>

Dawn sat uncomfortably in the back of the family car, growling at her big sister and generally giving her mother a headache.

She knew that they were worried about her, especially her mother, because she had been acting so strange lately. But she couldn't explain it to them, or anyone.

A roar of a motorcycle caught her attention and she craned her head around to see it. Her eyes widened in shock as she saw a young figure starting to put a helmet back on.


Joyce half turned in her seat, "Who?"

Dawn swallowed, staring as the car turned around the corner and the bike and rider vanished from sight. "I thought I saw someone I knew."

"Who's Xander?" Buffy asked with a grin, "A boyfriend?"

Joyce rolled her eyes, "Buffy, she's only ten!"

"So what if he is?" Dawn replied snidely, shocking both her sister and mother to silence for a moment.

"Dawn!?" Joyce craned her head back to see her youngest daughter sitting smugly with her arms folded over her chest, smirking at the back of Buffy's head. Joyce decided to leave it be but vowed to keep a watch out for this 'Xander' person.

As he cleared the city Xander took an onramp to the highway and followed the signs until he spotted a sign up ahead.

San Francisco Straight Ahead.

The End


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