Year Zero

Lone Star

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me. If they knew what they were doing I wouldn't have to write this stuff.

Summary: An 'old' friend brings a ton of new troubles to Xander's life.

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.


Montana September 12, 1995

It was well past midnight just over a week later that Xander found himself crossing the border into Montana. The town of Terrace Point was only twenty minutes or so down the road, and he figured he may as well get into town, or at least to the small motel he remembered that lay just outside it.

A light sort of semi-snore from behind him told him that Paige, at least, was getting some sleep. He grinned ruefully to himself as he remembered the argument the two of them had when she announced her intention to join him.

A week ago

"You are *not* coming with me!" Xander had shut the key off and the red and black Charger was now blocking the exit of the dorm parking lot.

"Say's who!?" Paige glared at him, challenging him to say himself.

He didn't fall for the bait, instead he shifted tactics. "What about school!?"

"I quit today." Paige said, matter of factly. "I can take a year off. More if I need. Besides, what about *your* school?"

"Paige, you wanted to be a social worker so much..." Xander dodged the question.

"I want to help people." She replied, "And from what I saw you do that. So I'm still doing what I want to do, just in another way."

"Paige..." Xander faltered for a second, before trying another tact. "What I do is dangerous..."

"So what?" She asked, "You as much as told me that demons would be hunting me down no matter what... at least with you I get to learn stuff and have someone to back me up."

Xander's mouth worked for a few seconds, his brain whining out of gear as it tried to find him another argument, but it came up dry.

Paige smirked at him, triumphant as Xander turned around and stared out the windshield.

"Buckle up." He said, shaking his head and turning the key.

Paige grabbed for the seat belt as the big engine roared to life, wrapping the padded four point system around her. "How do you buckle this thing anyway?"

Present Day

Xander turned his attention back to the road as he slipped past a car that was doing thirty under limit.

"You all look so peaceful when you sleep."

Xander jumped with fright as the voice sounded from beside him, he swerved the vehicle a bit and got it back under control as he recognized the voice. He glanced to one side to see Le Metatron sitting there, looking completely unperturbed by the near loss of control. "Jesus Christ!"

Metatron glanced around, looking surprised. "Where?"

"What do you want!?" Xander asked, hissing to avoid waking Paige, who by some miracle hadn't been tossed off the back seat by the swerving.

Metatron turned back to him, still occasionally glancing around as if looking for someone. "Just see how you're doing..."

Xander felt his heart slow a bit, to the point where it wasn't trying to beat out of his chest. "You're a damned Angel... you don't have to scare the crap out of me for that."

Metatron flinched, "Would you mind terribly not using the word 'damned' to describe me? Touches a little close to home, you understand."

"Sorry." Xander said.

"That's ok."

<Alexander...> A familiar voice echoed through his head, <Since when do you and the Voice sit around a 'chat'?>

<Don't ask me.> Xander replied, <He just keeps showing up...>

Metatron looked at him archly, "I see you've retrieved your... friend."

"Oh, you stay out of my head..." Xander hissed, "I've got enough voices poking around in there already."

"Indeed." Matatron smirked, "But you can relax. I'm not reading your thoughts... Frankly most mortals are a real pain to read, they can never keep anything straight. You, I'm guessing, would give me a migraine."

Elan snickered.

<Oh shut up.> Xander thought viciously at her. "Don't you have somewhere important to be? I don't know, maybe telling someone to build an Ark or something?"

"Oh please. Like I'd want to deal with that drunk again." Metatron muttered.


"Nothing." Le Metatron glanced over his shoulder, "I see you picked up a travel companion."

Xander grimaced. "Yeah."

"She's their sister, you know."


"She's the Halliwell's sister."

Xander's jaw dropped. "Paige is a charmed one?"

Metatron shook his head, "There are only three Charmed Ones... She's is merely a witch, well... not merely I suppose, but still."

Xander shook his head, "I don't get it."

"Oh, it's a rather sordid tale... but I suppose that's what happens when you give a mortal angelic powers then tell them to watch over a few beautiful women I suppose..." Metatron said casually.


"Never mind." Metatron continued, "To make a long story short, when she was concieved... well, the 'powers that be' decided that they could use a backup Charmed One..."

Xander smirked a little when Metatron distastefully mentioned the PTB's, then he frowned. "I thought you said she isn't a Charmed One."

"She's not. Yet."

"I don't get it."

"Well, if one of the others die..." Metatron let it trail off.

Xander's fists clenched around the steering wheel, his knuckled whitening as he put two and two together. "I'm not going to let that happen."

"Oh, we know..." Metatron smiled, "or at least that what we're guessing since He told me to come down and arrange for Paige to travel with you..."

"Arrange...?" Xander glared across the car at the Seraphim, and snapped accusingly. "You set me up!"

"Of course I did," Metatron seemed to be enjoying himself. "What did you expect?"

Xander groaned, returning his attention to the sign that read 'Terrace Point, Five Miles'. "You better hope I don't figure out a way to get back at you."

"Oh please." Le Metatron sounded bored, "It's not like I didn't pay you well enough."


"The Cross dear boy, the Cross." The Seraphim grinned, holding out his hand. In a flash the silver Celtic Cross was in it, dangling by the silver herring bone chain. "Surely you remember the little thing that saved your life?"

Xander looked across again, "You... What did you do?"

"I blessed it of course."

"What does that mean?"

"Oh, all the standard things..." Metatron said, "It grants it's wearer protection from evil, immunity to disease, stuff like that."

"So that's what saved me..." Xander said softly.

"Well... not entirely." Metatron admitted, "That wasn't a normal disease you know... it probably would have killed you anyway if you hadn't stopped fighting it."


"Its ironic really..." The Angel continued, "Your soul is strong enough to have resisted the disease until the fighting ripped your body apart. By giving up, you let the blessing come into full effect..."

Xander swallowed, considering how close he had come to death.

"You're a stubborn one," Metatron rolled his eyes, "The thirteenth apostle had a betting pool running on whether you'd be visiting us shortly over that one. A lot of Archangels are paying off some poorly placed bets even now."

"Great." Xander muttered sarcastically. "Don't you guys have anything better to do with your time?"

"Apparently not." Metatron sighed, "Believe it or not I asked the same thing myself."


"And Rufus told me to 'lighten up' and 'let my wings down'." Metatron said with distaste.

Xander couldn't help it, he started chuckling. "Rufus? Who the hell is Rufus?"

"The thirteenth apostle... Better you don't ask any more, you really don't want to know."

Xander shook his head, grinning like an idiot. "Why are you here anyway? To tell me this stuff?"

"Oh, no." Metatron actually smiled. "I just figure that anyone who can manage to piss off practically every Archangel in existence is worth talking with."

Xander lost the grin in an instant, "That's your big reason!?"

A sleepy voice came from the backseat. "Xander? Who're you talking too?"

Xander looked over at the passenger seat, it was empty.

Xander pulled into the small motel parking lot and left Paige dozing in the backseat of the car while he went inside. The bell rang and he saw a clerk shake himself awake.

"Kin I help ya?" The man slurred, his voice thick with sleep.

"Yeah... give me..." Xander hesitated, "ummm... make it one room, two beds."

The guy nodded, grabbing a set of keys from the wall. "That'll be forty for the night."

Xander peeled off a pair of twenties and dropped them on the counter, then added a five. "Sorry for waking you."

The guy grinned, and shrugged. "Shouldn't have been asleep. But there's not much business around here just now... Tourist season is winding down, most people heading out of town... not coming in."

Xander grinned back, taking the offered keys. "Well that sounds like the best time to visit."

The man chuckled, "You can say that again. Some of those tourists are real wackos, you know that?"

"I can guess." Xander said, leaving the front desk and the Clerk to his siesta.

"Come on Paige, wake up..." Xander urged her gently over the folded down drivers seat.

"Ummmmm huh?" She moaned, opening her eyes. "What time is it?"

"Time to get some sleep." Xander grinned, "Come on, I got us a room."

"Us?" Paige blinked, looking at him. "Taking something for granted aren't you?"

He grinned, "I wish. I got twin beds. Come on, before you cramp permanently into the shape of that seat."

Paige shook herself awake and nodded, "Ok..."

He helped her out of the car as she groaned and straightened up. "You couldn't have gotten something with a softer backseat?"

He smirked at her, "Well I didn't really know I'd be getting you in the backseat now did I?"

She smirked right back at him, "Don't be such a wise ass."

Xander shrugged, "I don't know any other way."

They checked out the room, and were satisfied. It wasn't a suite, but it would serve them well enough. Paige opted for a shower before turning in for the second time, but Xander decided to crash. He stripped down to his underwear and crawled between the sheets of the bed closest to the door, sliding one FiveSeven under the pillow and the second one he crooked between the mattress and the frame of the bed.

Twenty minutes later, when Paige poked her head out of the bathroom, Xander was fast asleep. She looked the room over, and noted his even breathing, before she stepped out. She was clad in a towel as she rummaged through the small bag she had brought into the room with her. It didn't take her long to find what she wanted, and she changed quickly using the towel as cover despite Xander's sleeping back being turned.

When she was done, she too slipped between the sheets of her own bed and flicked off the single remaining lamp.

Within minutes Paige fell soundly asleep.

The next morning came quickly, and the sunlight woke Xander shortly after dawn despite the drawn blinds. He rolled over onto his back and glanced at Paige's sleeping form before staring at the ceiling.

He had to wonder what he was doing. He wasn't really following a plan, just doing what came to mind from day to day. He couldn't handle repeating freshman year, so he left Sunnydale. He needed bullets for his guns, so he visited Andy. He was feeling lonely, so he decided to visit the Halliwells.

And now what? He needed some more equipment, so he called Andy and arranged an introduction to Terry.

Xander sighed quietly, remembering times that hadn't happened yet... and probably never would.

He was still lying like that an hour later when Paige first stirred and opened her eyes.

"Why are we coming here?" Paige asked, looking at the large gaudy yellow building as they parked in front of it.

"Don't let the looks fool you, the guy who owns this place runs weapons to government black ops programs all over the world. If they need untraceable equipment, they buy from Terry." Xander said as he pulled the key from the ignition and pocketed it.

"How do you know all this stuff?" Paige asked over the roof of the car as she shut her door.

Xander just grinned at her, "Ask me that some other time... I might even tell you."

Paige made a face at him as he walked up the cement stairs and went into the building.

Terrence 'Terry' Powell looked up as the two kids entered, but immediately turned his attention back to his small computer display. <I need to hire someone to watch the counter... I hate dealing with tourists.>

To his mild surprise the guy skipped over his stock and approached him directly. "Heya Terry."

Terry looked up frowning. "I know you kid?"

Xander shook his head, "Nope. Andy sent me, my name is Xander."

Terry's eyes widened. <What the hell?> "Andy who?"

"Andrezj Konzaki." Xander said easily, pronouncing the name easily.

"You've got to be kidding me." Terry grumbled as he shut down his computer screen. "Andy must be pulling my leg."

Xander looked at Terry with an odd look, "I have a hard time imagining Andy pulling anyone's leg..." Then he grimaced, "And I didn't mean that the way it sounded."

Terry let out an involuntary bark of laughter, "Ok, you know the old coot. Still...."

"I'm just here to pick up the supplies he sent up by courier..." Xander said.

Terry sighed, "Alright... you know the right stuff... Still..."

"Look, give him a call, ok?" Xander suggested. "I'll wait."

Terry nodded, reaching for the phone. "I'll do that, kid."

Xander waited patiently while Tery talked on the phone, shooting him occasional glances. Finally he looked up as Terry motioned to him. "Andy wants a word."

Xander nodded and took the phone. "Yeah? Yeah... you were right... yeah he is a pain in the ass... thanks."

"Pain in the ass!?" Terry growled taking the phone back, "Who are you calling a pain the ass you..."

Xander grinned, hearing the laughter coming over the line. Finally, a few minutes later Terry hung up the phone.

He still didn't look happy about it, but he nodded to Xander and Paige and they walked to the back. "I've got the delivery in here."

Xander nodded his thanks and opened the wooden crate that he motioned too, checking the contents.

Another three boxes of rounds for his pistols, two silver and one armor piercing. Two more boxes of shotgun shells, one each of silver buckshot and silver slugs. One of Andy's custom 'Konzak' Atchissons was nestled in the packing material, as well as a Government gunmetal blue Berretta 92F. Four boxes of 9mm ammo for the Berretta, 2 of silver and 2 of hollowpoints were also there.

Xander nodded appreciatively. "Everything's here."

Over his shoulder Terry suddenly cursed. "Christ kid... who the hell are you that Andy would send one of his Atchissons?"

Xander shrugged, "Just a guy doing a job."

Terry shook his head, mumbling to himself. "I trust Andy... I trust Andy..."

Xander chuckled, "You have a range here?"

Terry nodded, "Sure kid... In the basement."

"Can we use it for a bit?" Xander asked, "I want give Paige a lesson in firearms."

Terry covered his eyes with one hand, still muttering the same mantra. Finally he nodded. "Ok, kid..."

Xander looked down the range, nodding. "Here..."

Paige looked at the firearm tentatively, finally taking it gingerly. "Are you sure I need this?"

Xander nodded. "If you're traveling with me, yeah. At least until you learn some spells... and even then, it's always good to have a backup."

She finally nodded, accepting that, but still looked at the pistol with distaste. "I really don't like guns."

Xander shrugged, "A gun is a tool, nothing more, Paige. In the hands of a responsible, trained, person it's a very useful tool. In the hands of a reckless individual, or someone without training, it's a potentially disastrous one. In the life you're walking in now, someday, sooner or later, you are going to have to use a gun. Are you going to be the responsible, trained person, or the other type?"

She sighed, "The first kind of course."

Xander grinned. "Right. Now, here's what you do..."

Terry watched the two of them when they came up a couple hours later. "How'd it go?"

Xander nodded neutrally, "Not bad. She's scared of the gun, but she's not treating it like it's made of glass..."

Terry nodded, "That's a good start."

"Yep." Xander confirmed, glancing at Paige who was looking at the empty, unchambered, and safed gun in her hand with distaste.

"You need anything else?"

Xander thought about it, "I could use some body armor..."

"You got it kid, come on back here and I'll show you my stock."

"So," Terry asked, sliding open a cabinet door. "What are you looking for?"

Xander looked through the vests, mostly civilian and police issue Kevlar. Some with ceramic or steel trauma plates, some without. He was flipping through the SWAT version of a Second Chance assault vest when he noticed something odd. It looked like something out of a superhero comic, causing Xander to chuckle a bit when it saw it. "What's this?"

Terry glanced over, his face darkening. "Forget about that kid... That's out of your league."

Xander looked over, "What do you mean?"

"I mean I've sunk more money into that damn suit then I have into this entire store and I'm sick of it." Terry said, disgusted. "It seemed like a pretty good deal at the time. Some next generation armor, lighter, more effective then Kevlar... so I bought the patent. What a money pit."

Xander pulled the odd looking suit out, frowning at it. "Well I wouldn't be caught dead wearing it... you couldn't come up with something a little less Marvel comics?"

Terry grimaced again, looking at the form fitting armor. "Don't talk to me... that one was one of the prototype suits made by the company... It came with the patents. I think the egg head who designed the material was a real geek."

Xander laughed, putting the suit back. "You can say that again. What's so special about it anyway?"

"You know how Kevlar absorbs energy from a bullet and spreads it out over the material?"


"Well this stuff is what's you'd call a Flexible Crystalized Ceramic..."

Xander looked over at the man with a confused look. "What?"

Terry chuckled, "It's like this... when a bullet strikes this material, it absorbs the energy... just like Kevlar, right?"


"But instead of dissipating the energy over the material, the energy causes the material to crystalize... the molecules chain together as long as the energy lasts and form a solid ceramic plate in proportion to the amount of energy expended."

Xander thought about it, trying to imagine what Terry was describing. "You're kidding."

Terry grinned, reaching past Xander and pulling the hideous suit off the rack again. "Nope. See any marks on this?"

Xander shook his head, "No."

"I personally shot this suit with every caliber I have in the store. Including .50 BMG."

Xander's eyes widened as he brushed the flawless surface of the fabric with his fingers. "That's incredible... why aren't you marketing this?"

Terry tossed the suit back in disgust, "Because it's a damn money pit. You know how much this suit cost to fabricate?"

"How much?"

"Three quarters of a billion dollars in tax payer money." Terry shook his head in disgust, "Even after all the research is discounted and the one time costs are taken off, it's still in the area of a quarter of a million dollars for a single suit. I keep this damned white elephant out here to remind me that no matter how good something is, there are practical limits to its value."

Xander whistled, "Too bad they're so damned ugly..."

Terry grinned, "Come on... I'll show you something."

Terry led Xander to the back room and he pulled down a long black duster. "Check this out."

Xander caught the coat and staggered back as he was surprised by how much it weighed. "This thing must weigh twenty pounds."

"Thirty." Terry said dryly.

Xander ran his fingers over the soft fabric, marveling at how supple the material was. It felt thick and soft, like a heavy leather. He smiled, "Why does it feel like leather?"

Terry shrugged, "Leather is a pretty good material... why do you think all the cows wear it?"

Xander shot Terry a dirty look, but the man just grinned. "I'm serious. If you want to create a perfect armor, you start with one of the best natural armor's that exist. Leather is a damned useful material... It's warm, strong, tough, and looks good too."

"I guess..." Xander said, looking at the long coat. "How much for this?"

"You can't afford it." Terry grinned, "I've managed to sell a couple of these... but the government won't pop for them, and police can't afford them... and since I don't sell to criminals, I had to stop production... Only made a dozen."

"How much?" Xander repeated. If the coat was as good as Terry said, he wanted one.

Terry shook his head, grinning like he was telling a big joke. "Kid. For you, since Andy sent you... a hundred grand."

Xander's head ran quickly tallying up what he had left. <After the car, the modifications, expenses...>

"I'll take two." Xander said finally. "Can they be tailored?"

Terry goggled. "Kid, are you kidding me?"

Xander shook his head, "Nope. It'll almost break me... but I can always pick up more cash."

Terry looked at him for a long moment, "Kid... Who the fuck are you?"

"This is *heavy*." Paige complained as she stood there, wearing the long black coat while a woman moved around her measuring and stitching.

"That can't be helped, Paige." Xander said as a man did the same to him. "It could save your life some time."

She rolled her eyes, "Or kill me from exhaustion."

"You don't have to wear it all the time..." Xander said.

"Oh, that's *such* a relief..." She muttered sarcastically.

"Alright... we have what we need." The man said as he and the woman stood up, "It'll take a couple hours to stitch these up to the right lengths... you're sure you don't want them cut?"

"I'm sure." Xander said, "I don't know about Paige... but I have some growing to do."

"Hey! Are you inferring something?" Paige asked sharply, as she slipped the heavy coat off.

"Oh, of course not... I'd *never* do something like that..." Xander grinned.

"Wise ass." Paige growled, handing the coat over to the woman.

Xander did the same with his, then walked out of the back room of terry's place with her. "Hey... look at it this way, when was the last time a guy bought you a coat that cost a hundred grand?"


A couple hours later Terry came out with both coats in his arms and laid them on the counter. "You want anything else?"

Xander laughed, shaking his head. "You broke my bank on these, I'm afraid."

Terry grinned ruefully. "You have no idea how much money I poured down this particular drain, Kid. They seemed like a great idea, but they just cost too damned much."

"Tell me about it." Xander grinned, accepting the coats as he slid a satchel of cash across the counter to Terry.

"You're not going to tell me who you are or what you're doing with this stuff are you?"

Xander shook his head, "Sorry, Terry... maybe another time."

"Yeah..." Terry shook his head, "Well, I'm used to it I guess. Black ops assholes like their little secrets."

Xander paused and looked back at Terry, "Did you just call me an asshole?"


"Ok," Xander grinned. "Just checking."

Terry shook his head, "Get out of my store, kid."

Xander chuckled, "Is that anyway to treat someone who just dropped a couple hundred grand on you?"

"You said your broke now..." Terry replied snidely, "So you're of no use to me. Come back when you get a bigger budget."

Xander rolled his eyes, and walked out. "I'll be seeing ya, Ter."

The door slammed shut and Terrence Powell shook his head, "God save me. A teenage boy packing an Atchisson, and a teenage girl with a Berretta... That's gotta be one of the signs of the apocalypse."

"Where are we going now?"

"Texas." Xander said, as he tooled the car around. "But first I have a couple more stops to make."

"Umm... ok." Paige said, sitting back as Xander pulled up beside a large church. "What's in here?"

Xander smiled, "A know it all."

Xander stepped into the church, walking softly. He was wearing his newly purchase trench coat, more for the fact that the weight was valuable to him as a training regime then for any need of protection.

Of course, it also hid the twin FiveSevens he was wearing in their assault harness, and that didn't hurt.

Behind him Paige was walking easily, she had opted not to wear her coat and was instead dressed in her customary style, Jeans and a loose fitting blouse.

"Can I help you?" Asked an old man who was tidying something up behind the pulpit.

Xander grinned, walking forward. "No, that's alright Father Cranston... I just stopped by to say hello."

The old priest looked over at him oddly, "Do I know you, my son?"

Xander shook his head, "No... I just arrived in town. You know... Cranston... that name sounds familiar..."

"It's not that uncommon a..." The priest began.

Xander grinned, snapping his fingers. "Oh yeah... wasn't an old urban legend called the Shadow who supposedly used that name? Called himself... oh, what was it? Something Cranston..."

"Lamont." The Priest said neutrally, his bright eyes piercing Xander.

"That's it!" Xander grinned. "Say... isn't that your first name?"

"Who are you?" The priest asked curtly.

"Just a friend." Xander chuckled.

"You have an interesting concept of friendship, boy."

"Tsk, tsk." Xander wagged his finger, "Watch it, your starting to sound like an old vigilante instead of a priest... Anyway, like I said... I just stopped by to say hello, and maybe deliver a message."

"What's that?"

"This priest thing..." Xander said, "It isn't you. The time is coming, Lamont."

"What time?"

Xander just winked and turned away, walking out the door with Paige behind him. "The Xanman knows!"

"What the hell was that?" Paige asked as they walked out, leaving a shocked priest behind them.

Xander grinned, opening the passenger side door for Paige, then walking around to the drivers side. "Just messing with a friend of sorts."

"You know, you seem to have a lot of friends who've never laid eyes on you."

"Tell me about it..." Xander cracked, "Am I that forgettable?"

Paige snorted at the thought, "Are you done messing with kindly old men yet?"

Xander laughed, "Wait until you meet him under different circumstances. That kindly old man is one scary dude."

Paige looked at him oddly as Xander turned the key and the big engine roared to life. "You're weird, you know that right?"

Xander grinned and shifted the car into first, pulling out of the church parking lot and heading out of town. "You know... you're not the first person to say that to me."

Colorado Mountains Five Days Later


Xander didn't answer from where he stood, leaning against the side of the car.

Paige got out of the car and walked around to look at the steep drop off that fell away hundreds of feet below them. "Whoa... Why are we here?"

"Put on your coat..." Xander said.

"Huh? Why? Is something wrong?" Paige looked around nervously, inching back to the car.

"No. I just want to show you something."

She grimaced, "But I hate that thing. It's heavy and it's hot."

Xander shrugged, "The weight I can't help you with... that's just something you have to get used to, the heat is what I want to work on."

"What are you talking about?"

"It's time for a magic lesson."

Paige suddenly smiled, and grabbed for her coat. "Cool."

She came back and put on the coat, walking around to where Xander was sitting on the ground. "So... what now?"

Xander swallowed, looking nervous.

"Xander? What is it?"

"Sorry... It's just..." Xander looked sheepish, "Me and magick don't mix... I've had my share of disasters with it."

"Ummm how?"

"Well... Once I read a book and the damn thing burst into flames..." Xander confessed, "I've been caught in two 'love spells'... both disasters... in different ways. Plus various other minor disasters that I'd rather forget..."

"Wow... Two love spells?"

Xander shook his head, "You've got a one track mind."

"Sue me." She smirked at him.

Xander rolled his eyes, "Anyway... yes. Two love spells of a sort... and I'll cop to being to blame for the first one. The second one wasn't my fault though."

"Oh... do tell..." She grinned at him.

"Another time." Xander said, "First... how are you feeling?"

"Hot." She said instantly, "And not in a good way. This coat is hot as hell."

Xander nodded, "Ok... first we start with breathing..."

"I know how to breath, Xander."

Xander grinned, "I said that same thing to someone once... You know what she told me?"


"An ostrich can flap its wings... doesn't mean it can fly."

Paige rolled her eyes, "Fine. Let's do this."

"Look out at the mountains, trace the lines that separate the rock from the sky with your eyes... don't move your head. Take a deep breath, in through your nose... hold it... hold it... now out through your mouth. Now again."

Xander kept talking slowly and evenly for a few minutes, watching as Paige breathed deeply, her breasts rising and falling with each breath. Finally he stopped her. "Ok... Now what you have to know is that you are a natural witch... that means that the magic is part of you. You don't need to call on other powers to exercise magic."

"What others?"

"Some people, we call them practitioners, they don't have access to the well of power you have. To power their spells, they must invoke the names of Gods and Goddesses... drawing power from outside sources. You don't have to do that... you're power is a direct exercise of your will."

"You make it sound like something out of Star Wars..." Paige said, a smile twitching at her lips.

Xander smiled openly, "I've wondered about that myself actually... but in a way, yeah it's a lot like that. You can control the world around you by willing things to happen... but don't get too complicated right now, we're going to start with the training wheels on."

"That's a relief."

Xander wasn't sure if she was sarcastic or not, so he let it pass. "I want you to formulate a rhyme in your mind... something to cool yourself down, think of it like instant air-conditioning."

"Rhyme?" Paige asked, frowning. "You're kidding right?"

Xander smiled, "No. Take a few minutes, then say it out loud... try to feel the words."

She rolled her eyes, "Right. Feel the words. Great."

"Just do it."

She closed her eyes, "Fine..."

She was silent for a few minutes, beads of sweat forming on her brow as the sun beat down on them. Finally she opened her eyes and took a breath.

"Sun above my head, whose heat I want to shed, Go now and leave me, so cooler I can be."

Nothing happened for a few minutes, then a dark shadow passed over them. Xander looked up in time to see a minuscule rain cloud crackle and open up with a sudden flash flood from about ten feet above them.

Within seconds their heads were completely soaked, and they would have been as well except for the heavy coats. Xander didn't move as Paige squealed and tried to get out from under the rain cloud, but it followed her around.

<Hmmm... I should have gotten her to try that one while she was wearing the white blouse...> Xander mused as he watched her run for the car.


<Oh lighten up. It was your idea to try the air conditioning spell.> Xander grinned as he got to his feet and walked over to where the rain cloud was pouring solidly down on the Charger. He ducked under the rain and got in, looking over at Paige as he closed the door.

"Not bad."

"Are you insane!? I got soaked!"

"Don't blame me," Xander grinned, "You cast the spell."

"You told me too!"

Xander shrugged, and started the engine then turned on the windshield wipers. "Well... believe it or not, I'm impressed."


"Hey, calling a rain cloud? That's a neat trick... But I wouldn't do it often if I were you...."

"Why? Not that I'm planning on it."

Xander glanced out to where the rain was still pouring down on the car. "Well... you know... ummm... whats that thing called again... Thermo... thermo..."


"Yeah, that's it." Xander said, "The one where you can't destroy or create matter or energy."

Paige looked out at the rain, "So where did the rain come from?"

Xander shrugged. "Around. Which means that for every inch of rain we get here... someplace else goes dry that same inch."

Paige clamped a hand over her mouth. "Oh my god."

"Relax..." Xander kept staring, "It's starting to peter out... no big deal. Just keep it in mind for the future."

"What did I do wrong?"

Xander considered, "Well... in the future I'd leave the sun out of it... focus close to yourself instead. It takes less energy to actually lower your own body temperature directly then it does to summon a rain cloud."


"Don't worry about it." Xander grinned, shifting the car into gear as the last drops of rain fell and the cloud dissipated. "That took a lot of power to do... like I said, I'm impressed."

"Great." She rolled her eyes. "I can get a gig as a rainmaker."

Xander laughed and pulled back onto the road from the scenic view point, "hey, I'm just happy no one came by while we were in that... VERY localized thunderstorm."

"I'm sorry, ok!?"

Xander kept laughing, "hey... no problem. Better to get used to it with harmless stuff like this, rather then in combat with a demon."

"I guess." She collapsed back into the chair, "You know... I am feeling pretty tired."

"I should hope so..." Xander muttered, "You have any idea how much water vapor you had to accumulate to pull that off? There isn't a cloud in the sky... you must have hauled it in from miles around."

Paige blinked, her head lolling to one side. "I... I fell like I've run a marathon."

"Grab some sleep." Xander said, "I'll pull in to a motel a little earlier today."

She yawned, nodding. "Ok... Xander?"


"It was pretty funny wasn't it?"


Dallas Texas
Four Days Later

Xander parked the Charger in a space just off the downtown core, looking around at the mass of people traveling the streets. "This isn't going to be easy."

"What isn't?" Paige asked, looking around.

"Well, I'm looking for someone... but I don't know where he is..." Xander began. "But, on the bright side, he's got a reputation with the demon population so we should be able to get a pointer from them."

"Well, that's good."

"Yeah," Xander conceded, "but I don't have any idea where to look for the local Demon hangouts here in Dallas."

"You're right," Paige said, rolling her eyes. "This isn't going to be easy."

Xander rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything. He got out of the car and locked it, then looked at Paige over the roof of the Charger. "Time for another lesson."

"It's not working..." Paige half whined.

Xander sighed, walking along side her as they went down the street. "I told you it could take time. It took me months."

"Yeah, but I'm a witch... You said it might be easier for me."

"The key word being 'might'." Xander said softly, "Shifting your senses to perceive magic isn't something I've known other witches to do... or at least they've never told me about it."

"Then how'd you learn it?" Paige asked with genuine curiosity.

Xander shrugged, "From an old friend."

"Ri-ght." Paige stretched the word out, "The same old friend who taught you everything you know... how come this 'friend' doesn't have a name?"

"She does." Xander said evenly, "Her name is Elanthielle."

"Ooooh. It's a she!" Paige said, "Come on... spill all the dirt..."

Xander shook his head, "What dirt? She's a friend."

"Ah, so she's on your 'list'?"

"List?" Xander asked, confused.

"Yeah, you keep talking about places you have to go... people you have to see... you know, you're list."

"Ah. That list." Xander said, "She was on it."

"Oh. Where did you meet her?"

"In San Francisco."

Paige stopped in mid step. "On this trip?"

Xander nodded.

"How come I never met her?"

"You did... in a manner of speaking." Xander smiled slyly.


Xander looked up ahead, "Come on... I've found what I was looking for."

"It's an empty lot." Paige said flatly.

Xander smiled at her, "They use the same trick in Los Angeles. It's a combination of two spell types."


"First the cover the building with an illusion..." Xander explained. "Make it look like an empty lot, a construction yard, whatever..."

"Whoa..." Paige looked at the lot again, trying to peer through the veil that Xander claimed was there.

"Yeah." Xander grinned, "The second spell is an aversion field."

"A what?"

"You ever read Douglas Adams?" Xander asked, the question coming right out of left field.

"Huh?" Paige asked startled, then recovered. "I mean... yeah sure. Hitchhikers guide..."

"Exactly. You remember the SEP field?"

Paige cracked a grin, "Yeah... that was funny..."

Xander matched her smile. "Same basic concept... an aversion field makes people look over and around it... it keeps even the more psychically tough individuals from being interested in the location. Either spell on their own is pretty effective, together they shield the place completely from anyone who isn't actively looking for the place."

"Very cool."

"Exactly." Xander grinned, taking Paige's hand and stepping through the spell's outer limit.

The two of them walked into the odd looking bar, Xander frowning in bemusement as he took in the pseudo-western atmosphere. The owner of this bar was apparently a big fan of Hollywood western's, and had decorated the place accordingly.

The place had all the standard sort of things you'd expect to see in a Texas bar, assuming you were watching a pretty bad movie.

There was a mechanical bull in one corner, the requisite saloon doors, and a complete lack of anything resembling interior finishing. The waitresses were mostly human, Xander decided, which made sense. Demon's, other then vampires, enjoyed being served by humans. Vampires of course, liked it when the humans were served... preferably alive and squirming.

Not for the first time, Xander grimaced at the necessity that prevented him from dusting every vampire in the place. Demons, well certain ones, he could stomach... even grow to like. But the vampires were really riding closer to permanent death then they knew when Xander walked past them.

Some of them seemed to feel it as well, or feel something. The vampires and some demons shied away from him as he walked by, flinching back as if they had come too close to a live wire.

He sighed, angling for the bar with Paige in tow. Killing vamps indiscriminately in a demon bar was just asking for trouble, both in short term and in the long run. So he put the thought out of his mind and focused on the bartender as he approached.

"What kin ah get you folks?"

Xander shook his head and grinned at the bad attempt at a Texan drawl. It would have come off better if the bartender was seven feet tall, green, and wearing a Cowboy hat that Howdy-Doody would have been embarrassed of. "Scotch."

"We don carry them fancy drinks." The bartender said, "We've got plenty of O neg, or Whisky if'n the red stuff don't tickle yor fancy."

Xander fought hard to keep a straight face as he heard a nervous titter from Paige beside him. "Two whiskeys will do fine, thanks."

"Comin roight up."

As the Bartender walked away, Paige nudged Xander. "Is this place for real!?"

Xander just chuckled. "Demons and vampires... demons especially, have a pretty warped view of human culture. Blame it on the fact that they can't walk around in the open, so they tend to watch a lot of movies."

Paige looked around, "Well... duh."

The Bartender came back with their drinks and Xander dropped a couple bills on the table. "Hey, I was wondering if you could help me find someone."

"Well that could be, Pardner..." The demon drawled. "Who ya'll lookin fer?"

"A guy named Crow."

The demon stiffened and shook his head, "Look someplace else."

Xander grinned, "I'm gonna find him one way or the other."

"Not by me." The demon's 'Texan' drawl was gone, replaced by a much cleaner English.

Xander shrugged, "suit yourself."

Xander turned to walk away, before the demon spoke. "Why are you looking for The Crow?"

Xander turned back a smile playing on his lips. "I have some business with him."

"What kind?"

"Personal." Xander matched the demon's tone.

The demon shook his head. "Can't help you."

Xander stepped back up to the bar, looking the demon in the eyes even those he had to crane his neck upwards to do it. "Can't... or won't?"

"Same thing."

Xander shook his head, tapping into Elan's power just enough to let the silver gleam enter his eyes. "No. It's not."

The demon fell back involuntarily. "Look. I don't want no trouble.... and The Crow is nothing but trouble."

Xander let the glow fade, "Yeah... That's Jack all right."

"You know him!?"

"Of him." Xander corrected, then spoke in a commanding tone. "Tell me."

The demon hesitated again, but after looking around nervously. "He's out of town."


"Some hick town north of here." The demon said, "He's got a contract. Nest."

Xander nodded. "Anyone around here know the name of the town?"

The demon considered, "maybe..."

Xander caught something in the demon's voice, "Tell me." He ordered again.

The seven foot demon seemed to shrivel up, "You're not gonna tell him I told ya are you?"

Xander dropped fifty dollars on the bar. "My word." He promised.

The demon looked at the money disdainfully. "Keep the paper. What use do I have for it anyway? Crow's contract is up in Rain Creek..."

Xander nodded, leaving the money on the bar, "Thanks."

"You didn't hear it form me!" The demon hissed as Xander led Paige away.

As the two walked out of the bar several groups of vampires and demons shivered.

"Who the hell were they?" Asked one vampire, "Cocky bastard."

"I do not know." Rumbled a large demon, overhearing the question from another table. "But I would stay clear of them both were I you?"

"Why?" The vampire glanced at the door, a second shiver traveling up his spine.

"Did you not feel it?"


"The touch of the Almighty is on one of them... perhaps both." The demon rumbled, "It would be wise to not anger them I think."

The vampire looked between the door and the half full pitcher of blood in the center of his table. <Fuck it> He thought, pouring himself another drink.


"So what?" Xander asked, starting up the charger.

"So... are we going up to that town?"


"Why tomorrow."

"Jack doesn't like to hunt by night... He'll be hunkered down in a hotel now, probably armed to the teeth and ready to shoot anything that moves." Xander said, "We're going to do the same."

"Gee... you're such a cheery person tonight."

Xander glanced at Paige, smiling slightly. "Always."

Paige looked at him sourly. "Tonight we get separate rooms."

The Next Day - Rain Creek, Texas

The Charger rumbled quietly as Xander rolled down the main street of the one horse town. He didn't know how much of Crow's old war stories were truth and how much were bullshit dreamed up while high on beer, vodka, and god alone knows what else, but he hoped that he'd be able to track Crow using some of them.

From what Crow had told him, the Vatican smoothed things over with the local cops before, during, and after an operation. That meant that the local PD would probably know where to find them. That meant doing something stupid.

Jeremy Simmons looked up oddly as the old muscle car stopped beside his cruiser. The boy behind the wheel looked barely old enough to drive, but he wasn't even slightly nervous as he got out of the car and walked over to the police cruiser. Jeremy shrugged it off, obviously the kid was older then he looked.

"Can I help ya, kid?"

"Yeah... I'm looking for a business associate of mine." The kid replied. "He should be in these parts right about now."

"You got a name?"

"Jack Crow."

Jeremy stared at the boy for a long moment, finally turning off the idling engine of his cruiser and opening the door. "I'm gonna need to see some ID, kid."

The boy actually smiled at him, "Sure."

He accepted the kid's drivers license, looking at it. "Wisconsin huh? You're a long way from home..."

"That's a fact."

"Why are you looking for Crow?" Jeremy asked, his mind quickly running down the odd man he had seen talking with the Sheriff earlier.

"I told you, he and I are in the same business."


"No such thing in our line of work."

"He's out with the Sheriff right now... I'm not sure where."

"Could you do me a favor and check? I've come a long way to see him."

Jeremy Simmons shrugged, walked back to his car, and pulled out the radio mic. "Hey Tammy? You there?"

The radio crackled back. "Sure am Jer... What's up?"

"I need a location on the Sheriff and his 'friends'."

"Why the hell would you need that?"

"Got a straggler here... claims he knows them."

"You've got my condolences." Tammy's voice sounded sarcastic, "Those people are just rude."

Jeremy looked over at the kid for a moment, "This one isn't..."

"Then he's a weirdo in that group... The Sheriff is up in the woods at the old Stilson place."

"Thanks Tam."

"No problem... Hey, Jeremy?"


"Be careful... there's something weird about these people."

"No problem. I'll see you later."


Officer Simmons put the radio back, then turned back to the kid. "Yeah, I know where they are."

"Can I get directions?"

"I'll do you one better... I'll lead you up." Simmons said, <Just in case you're looking to cause trouble, kid.>

The kid nodded, "Thanks."

Simmons just waved him off and watched as the kid walked back to his own car. For the first time he noticed the girl in the car with the kid. <Nice...>

The police cruiser came to a halt beside a Brinks armored car, a grey Jeep, and the sheriff's car. As Xander brought the charger up behind him and slowed it to a halt, as he watched the officer get out to talk to the sheriff he turned and spoke urgently to Paige.

"Listen to me carefully." He began, "These guys are unstable... you have to do me a big favor."


"Don't do any spells... don't talk about witchcraft, don't ask me about your powers... and do NOT try to orb while any of them are around."

"What? Why?"

Xander sighed, "These guys work for the Vatican... and I trust Jack... well, sort of... But I don't know his team, or the priest they have with them."

"What difference does that make?"

"There's a line in the bible about witches..." Xander said, flinching as Paige caught on.

"Oh my god.... you can't be serious..." Her hand flew to her mouth.

"I am." Xander said, his face deadly serious.

Paige just stared at him, in shock.

He sighed, "Look... We aren't staying long, ok? And if anything does happen I'll be there to make sure that you get out alright... just... let's try to avoid trouble ok? At least until we have a few more people to call on."

She swallowed, but nodded.

"Good." Xander smiled, then opened the door to the car and got out.

Sheriff Samuel Johnson watched the kid get out of the old Charger, admiring both the car and the girl who got out the other side. He sized the kid of briefly as he walked toward him, wondering why the little pissant wasn't sweating to death in the heavy leather long coat he was wearing.

"What's your, boy?"

Xander ignored him, walking past the two police and stepping up beside the men who was standing by the jeep. He glanced over and nodded at the old priest. "Howdy Padre."

The priest nodded at him, a little puzzled. The man standing by the winch on the jeep looked at him, annoyed. "Who the fuck are you?"

Xander looked at the old building they were parked by. "When did they go in?"

"Who the fuck are you?" The man repeated.

Xander turned and looked at him, "Alexander Harrison. You?"

"Fuck you." The man said, "I don't have time to deal with a punk ass brat."

Xander shrugged, "Whatever you say. So, Is Jack in there?"

That brought the man back around. "Who the *fuck* are you!?"

Xander was about to speak when a series of shots rang out from the building, attracting all their attention.

Simmons looked up, his hand flashing for his service pistol.

Sheriff Johnson immediately put a hand on his arm, shaking his head. "Stand down, Jeremy. This is over our heads."

Ahead of them the three others were watching the old house intently, waiting for something to happen.

"What's happening?" Paige asked, walking up beside Xander.

"Contact." Xander said softly, never taking his eyes off the building. "Jack's team just found some bloodsuckers."

Another series of shots came from the building, then a scream loud enough that they could hear it from where they stood.

Xander unbuttoned the flap on his coat, then unzipped it about halfway down. He calmly flipped out the cross he was wearing so it was plainly visible. When he saw a man come flying out a barricaded window and roll to the ground just a few feet from him, his throat ripped out, Xander pulled his FiveSevens from under his coat and looked at the man by the winch. "Call Jack. Tell him he's got backup coming in."

Tony Montoya looked up in shock as the kid drew two pistols and started to walk toward the old house. "Kid! You dumb fuck! Get back here! Those pop gun's won't do any good in there!"

The kid ignored him, walking steadily to the open door of the old house.

"Shit!" Montoya cursed, touching the transmitter button on his headset. "Jack! Jack! You've got a crazy fucker coming in to help!"

When he saw the kid draw the two guns, Deputy Simmons again moved for his guns, but was again stopped by the sheriff.

"I told you, Jeremy. Above our heads."

"Montoya? What the fuck are you talking about?" Jack Crow yelled into his microphone as he leveled his crossbow at the vampire that had taken them by surprise.

The fledgling bastard had probably just risen, yet it still managed to rip Rolfe's throat out in the split second it had before the group opened fire on it. The hail of autofire from the MP-5's and pistols slammed it back into the wall, but the fucker got right back up, hissing and spitting as it charged them again.

"Some fucking kid, Jack!" Montoya screamed over the radio, "He's coming in the door!"

"Get him back!" Jack screamed, jumping back as another vampire jumped out of nowhere, giving him two to aim at. He fired on reflex, the barbed arrow driving through the closest vampire's gut. "Got one on the line! Do it!"

The vampire screamed in pain as it clawed at the arrow in his gut, but it couldn't dislodge the barbed bolt. Suddenly the heavy gauge wire attached to the bolt snapped tight, dragging the vampire off it's feet and toward the door.

Jack's eyes briefly followed the vampires path, just long enough to see a figure in a heavy black coat hop neatly over it as it slid out the door. The figure had a pair of dull colored pistols in his hands, and they were sweeping up and looking for a target.

<Must be the fucking kid.> Crow thought to himself as he wrote the dumb fucker off and turned back to the business at hand.

Xander almost grinned at the vampire as it slid under him, but instead turned his focus to the interior of the building. He shifted his eyes into enhanced mode, careful to do it himself and not tap Elan's powers for fear of getting shot if they saw his eyes glow silver. He immediately spotted three more vampires inside, as well as the remainder of Team Crow. He shifted on a vampire hanging out above a pot bellied back with a four day beard, and opened fire.

"Frankie!" Jack snarled out as he saw the kid spin in the direction of one of his team members, "Watch it!"

Too late.

The kid opened fire, but by then his guns had tracked upwards. He fired three short bursts into the air, then a form fell from the rafters and slammed into the floorboards. Just after impact the vamp dusted, and dissapated.

<What the fuck!?> Jack stared for a second, before a growling form charged him from the side. <Shit!>

The vampire slammed him into the ground, rolling them both along the ground as Jack grabbed for the smooth polished stake on his belt. He drew the stake as the vampire rolled him back onto the floor, and slammed it upwards into the creatures chest. He grinned at the thing as it's eyes widened in shock.

"Adios you bloodsucking son of a bitch." Crow muttered as the thing vanished into dust above him.

Xander stepped over where Crow was getting his breath back, already tracking the third vamp he had spotted. This one was a slippery fucker, who liked flitting through the shadows like a wraith.

Xander glanced down as he tracked around the room, "You ok Jack?"

Jack Crow looked up at him, "Who the fuck are you!?"

Xander grinned, "You know... I get that a lot lately. Get up, it's embarrassing."

Jack growled and got his feet, "Listen to me you piece of..."

"Down!" Xander knocked Crow on the shoulders, dropping him back to the floor as the vampire finally made its move and charged them. Xander opened fire, emptying his pistols into the vamp as it charged. Below him Jack spun around and brought stake up to defend them if the vampire got through, but it dusted well clear of them.

"What the fuck!?" Jack stared in shock at the floating dust, "What the hell are you packing in those things?"

"Later." Xander said, pulling Jack to his feet as he looked around. "We've got more of them in here."

Crow looked around. "Team! Tighten up!"

The vampire hunters tightened into a close knit unit as the shadows around them came to life.

Outside, Deputy Simmons stared in utter shock as the whine of the winch drew out a body from the building. He started forward, but fell back a step in shock as the writhing body burst into flames as it struck the sunlight.

"What in the hell?" He whispered softly.

The old priest glanced back, "Wrong direction I'm afraid, my son."

Simmons involuntarily crossed himself as the old priest walked over and gave the ashes on the ground the last rites.

In the building there was another burst of gunfire.

This time there where eight of them, and they attacked en masse.

The first three were skewered on the steel tip of the long halberds carried by the team, sliding forward on the metal until the wooden shaft penetrated their shriveled hearts.

And that made five.

One came straight at Crow, blindly clawing for his throat. Crow ducked, then slammed his boot into the vampire's crotch with all his strength. As it crumbled over, gagging, Crow jammed his stake into th4e vampire's back.


Xander dropped the FiveSeven's, tugging the Desert Eagle from his hip and bringing it level with one of the furthest vampires. The big gun roared twice, the .44 magnum silver bullets ripping into the vampire's chest and lifting it clear off the ground and slamming it back into a dusty old wall. As it slid down the wall, the Vampire vanished into dust.


Jack looked around, "Get them! Fuck it, you assholes! Drive the fucking stakes through their goddamned hearts!"

The men dropped their halberds and drew polished wooden stakes from their belts. They ganged up on the remaining vampires, taking them on two on one or more. Each group drove their vampire to the ground, one or two holding the writing forms down, the other driving a stake through it's heart.

When it was done, there were no more.

Jack looked around, eying the shadows. "Three man teams! Search this fucking place until they're found!"

The men nodded and split up, moving through the old house quickly but carefully. As they did, Jack Crow turned to Xander.

"Who are you kid?"

Xander shrugged, "Just a fellow hunter."

Crow suddenly spun fast, grabbing Xander by the coat and slamming him into the wall. "If you EVER come into one of my ops again, I'll fucking drive one of those stakes up your ass! You get me!?"

Xander nodded, decided not to antagonize the man. "Fair enough."

Jack nodded, letting him go and turning away. "Nice job, Kid. What the fuck are packing in those anyway?"

Xander shrugged, "Blessed Silver made from melted down crosses."

Jack blinked. "You shitting me?"

"Nope." Xander grinned. "I think the recipe has been posted on the internet actually.."

Jack groaned. "Oh you have GOT to be shitting me."

"Fraid not, Jack."

Crow looked at him oddly, "Do I know you?"

"No." Xander replied evenly, "But I know you."

Crow rolled his eyes, "Don't tell me that you're some kinda fucking fanboy?"

"Hardly. You ain't pretty enough, Jack." Xander smirked. "Like I said, just a fellow hunter."

"Slayer." Jack corrected.

"Huh?" Xander looked up, surprised.

"Slayers." Jack said, "That's what the teams are called."

Xander looked at him oddly, <Why didn't he ever mention that before?>. "Where does that come from?"

"Old Legend." Jack said quickly, too quickly.

Xander let it pass. "If you say so."

The men started calling back. "Clear!"


"What about the basement!?" Jack yelled out.

"It's clear!" Three men came up, "There was one hiding down there... no problem."

"That it?" Jack looked around.

The men nodded.

"Alright, come on... let's get the fuck out of here."

Paige watched as a group of men walked out of the old house, most of them looking like they'd been through hell. <Except Xander...>

Xander still looked as fresh as he had after the shower he had taken that morning.

<He has *GOT* to teach me how he does that.>

She watched Xander talk with a hawk faced man for a few minutes, nod, them come her way.

"So what now?"

Xander looked back at where the men were gathering around their fallen comrade. "First they bury their man..."

"And then?"

"And then..." Xander looked up at her, "We're invited to the 'wake'."

"This is a Wake??" Paige asked as they approached the sleazy hotel that was blasting with music and shouting.

Xander shrugged, "If they hadn't lost a man it would have been called the victory party."

"Who *are* these people?" Paige asked with distaste.

Xander paused and looked at her seriously. "These are men who take on a dirty job that no one else wants to do. They get paid for it, sure, but they don't do it for money... and they don't expect to live long enough to retire. Some... rambunctiousness is to be expected."

Paige stared at him, her face a little skeptical, "Ok...."

Xander started to walk further in, but stopped again. "Oh... by the way, you might want to stay close to me."


At that point a guy came stumbling out of the room with a hooker on each arm, the three of them heading for another room laughing and giggling under their breath.

"Cause they might mistake you for a party favor."

Paige stopped in mid step, her face a mask of indignation. "What!?"

"KID!" One of the men screamed out, obviously drunk out of his head.

He stumbled over, three women hanging off him. "Hey kid... I jush... I just wanna thank ya... that shucker wuld've got me fer shure."

Xander smiled at the guy, tolerantly avoiding the hug the guy tried to drape on him. "No problem, Frankie."

The man shook his head, drunkenly trying to remember what he was trying to say. "No... Here... a gift..."

The man pushed one of the women toward Xander, who was more then willing to switch.

"Hey kid... you're pretty cute. What are you doing with these psychos?"

Xander slipped out form under another attempt at hugging him, gently pushing the woman back towards Frankie. "Thanks man, but I'm here with someone..."

Frankie blinked a few times and stared at Paige, then broke into a toothy grin. "Cool, kid... she's a wicked piece of ass."

"Excuse me!?" Paige glared at him.

"Feisty too..." Frankie continued, still grinning.

Xander nodded, "You can say that again... look I have to talk to Jack..."

"Cooool" Frankie drawled, "Cya man."

Xander nodded, waved bye, slipped an arm around Paige's waist and walked off.

Paige waited until they were out of range before speaking. "You better have a good explanation..."

Xander kept smiling and shrugged, "Thanks for not putting up too much of a stink... I really didn't want to be saddled with a hooker for the night."

"I'll just bet." Paige removed his hand from her waist, "But I'm not saddling you either, so don't get any ideas."

Xander rolled his eyes, "Relax. I just want to talk to Jack a bit... then we can go."

Paige looked around, eyeing the debauchery around her with distaste, "Hurry up... please."

Jack Crow was still sober when Xander got to him. He was sitting alone in a quiet room, staring at the wall without really seeing anything.

Xander looked into the room and shook his head. He glanced back at the party and motioned to one of the hunters. "Beer!"

The guy slung a beer at Xander from an ice chest, and Xander motioned for a second one. The guy glanced at the room he knew Crow was sitting in, shrugged, and flung a second beer.

Xander caught it easily and walked in, Paige a couple steps behind him.

"Hey Jack."

Jack looked up, his face dark. "What do you want, kid?"

Xander tossed him a beer, then popped the can in his own hand. "Just to talk. I did come to Texas just for that, afterall."

Jack smirked at him, "So you are a fanboy afterall."

Xander chuckled, "I told ya Jack... you aint pretty enough. How you doin?"

"Been better." Jack replied flatly.

Xander nodded, "I hear ya. Believe it or not, I've been there."

Something in the kid's tone brought Jack's face back up. He didn't know why, but he did believe him. Not that he'd admit it to the kid of course. "Fuck off."

Xander chuckled, feeling Paige stiffen beside him. "Eloquent, Jack... truly worthy of the poets."

"I said Fuck off."

"Ah, but it was the *way* you said it..." Xander replied, deliberately misunderstanding.

Jack stopped and stared at him blankly, before finally chuckling reluctantly. "You're a dumb fucking piece of work, you know that?"

"So I've been told." Xander said, leaning back and taking a sip of beer.

Jack finally popped his own beer and took a long pull. "So what did you want to talk about?"

Xander smiled, "Mostly just to introduce myself... let you know that I was out there if you ever need a hand."

"Kid, I've got my own team." Jack said, "What the fuck do I need you for?"

"You never know, Jack. You never know. I used to think that my biggest problem in the world was getting La..." Xander paused, glancing at Paige who was glaring back at him. "Ummm... well... getting through Highschool... yeah..."

Jack chuckled, eyeing the look of outrage on the girls face and the sudden backpedaling the kid was doing. He shook his head, and gave the kid a break by changing the subject. "How'd you come up with those bullets?"

Xander shrugged, "A couple friends of mine did it. I can put you in contact with a source that can ship them in any caliber you need."

Jack nodded. "How do they work?"

"Well... you need a heartshot to kill a vampire, but they hurt like hell even if you don't get the kill shot. They also work on pretty much any other supernatural type that exist... better on some then others."

"Nice." Jack said.

Xander nodded, "Yeah. Simple recipe, versatile product. I carry a supply in 9mm, 12 gauge, .44 magnum, and 5.7mm... last I heard my supplier was working on a grenade version... but I have my doubts about how well it'll work in the field... at least against Vampires."

"How come?"

"Vamps require a precise hit to kill them..." Xander said, "But I guess a grenade might be useful to take the wind out the sails of a group of them."

"Damn right." Jack said, taking another long pull of his beer.

There was a long silence, punctuated by the two of them sipping on their beers.

"So, what are you really after Kid?"

Xander smiled, "No one does nothin for free, right Jack?"

"Damn right." Jack repeated.

Xander grinned, shaking his head. "You think you could do me a favor?"

"Depends." Jack said, "I owe you for the information about the bullets, if nothin else."

Xander looked pensive for a minute. "I'm strapped for cash right now... and I'm basically going to be hunting vampires anyway..."

"So you want what? To join up?"

"More of a freelance." Xander said, "I'm going north soon, out to the coast... Boston, Washington... Delaware. After that I'm looping back through here and heading for California. I was thinking, if there are any jobs in those areas..."

Jack stared at him for a long moment, finally shaking his head. "You're out of your fucking gourd, kid."

Xander shrugged, "If I were sane I wouldn't believe in vampires, now would I?"

Jack barked in laughter, still shaking his head. "I'd like to help you kid... but my employers wouldn't hire on an unknown to do solo jobs."

Xander shrugged, nodding. "Fair enough, Jack. In the meantime... here."

Xander pulled a card out of his pocket, scribbled down a number on the back, and flipped it to Jack.

"What's this?"

"The number on the front will put you in touch with a guy who makes the silver bullets. Tell him your name... I'll give him a call and tell him to expect you. He also does custom weapons and such... don't give that card to anyone else, Jack. Orders go through you, not through your control officer." Xander said, his voice deadly serious. "You understand? He won't deal with anyone else."

Jack nodded slowly. "And the number on the back?"

"That's my number. Cause you never know."

Jack nodded and put the card into his pocket, "I guess I should say thanks."

Xander smiled, "Save it until you get my bill."

The two of them broke out laughing again and finished their beers, swapping war stories for the next twenty minutes. Finally Xander stood up, gently nudging Paige awake.

"You done? Finally?"

Xander grinned and nodded, "Come on, let's go."

"It's about time."

They walked out after saying good bye to Jack, and found themselves picking their way through a scene that belonged in a D grade porno. There were naked hookers and clients rolling around the floors, couches, tables, and chairs.

"Eww..." Paige said, stepping quicker as she tried to reach the door.

Suddenly a hand reached up grabbed her, pulling her down into a naked and very sweaty tangle of limbs. "Hey baby, where are you going?"

"Ew! Gross!"

Xander grimaced and grabbed her other hand, pulling her up out of the tangle. "Sorry pal, she's spoken for."

"Damn..." Came a mumbled form the ground, "Why are the hot ones taken?"

"Hey!" A muffled female voice sounded from beside the male voice, "What the fuck?"

"Shut up..." The male voice said, pulling the female speaker closer.

"EW!" Paige moaned as the action on the ground got even more graphic.

"Come on," Xander said, Pulling Paige out the door.

Xander slid behind the wheel of the Charger, starting the engine just as he saw Crow step outside the hotel. He waited as the older vampire hunter walked over to them.

"Nice car kid." Crow said, "especially for someone who's tight on cash."

Xander smiled, "Why do you think I am tight on cash?"

"Funny." Crow said dryly. "Here."

Xander accepted the card that Crow handed him, "What's this?"

"Just in case." Crow said, turning around. "Cya kid."

Xander looked at the card, as Crow walked off. "Vampire$ Inc? You've got to be kidding me..."

"What is it?"

Xander looked over at Paige, shaking his head in amazement. "He incorporated his team..."

"You're kidding." Paige cracked a smile.

"Nope," Xander chuckled, pulling the charger out of the parking lot and turning south.

"I thought we were going to Boston next?"

"We are... but there's another hotel just outside of town... I figured we should get some sleep," Xander flashed her a grin, "And I didn't think you wanted to stay with Team Crow."

Paige grimaced, "You can say that again."

The next morning Xander and Paige stopped at a small diner for breakfast. After they had made their orders, Paige frowned at Xander as he skimmed through the Dallas Tribune.

"Why do you always do that?"

"What?" He looked over the top of the paper at her.

"You read the paper every morning... I mean, I know why most people do it... but you never seem to care about what's going on, and its not like you live around here."

"Old habit." Xander said, "I lived with a guy who used to scan a dozen papers everyday, and he had a search engine working on the net full time as well."


"Looking for injustices to right." Xander said calmly. "Me, I just look for supernatural crimes..."

"They have a section for those?" Paige asked, raising her eyebrows.

Xander chuckled, "Not exactly... here, see this headline?"

He put the paper down and pointed to a story, Paige craned her head around and looked at it. "Full moon killer toll rises to nine... So?"

"Well, the victims were mangled... the first three were thought to be animal attacks, wolves to be exact. It wasn't until number four that the cops got suspicious. Number six tipped them off though..."


"The victim was found inside, and their was no sign of forced entry." Xander replied, "Whoever it was killed the victim in a highrise office, then let himself out."

"I still don't see how this is supernatural... It just sounds like a wacko." Paige said.

Xander smiled, "Maybe... but I've seen something similar once."

"What was it?"


Dallas, Downtown Core

"Hey Walker, check this out..."

"What have you got, Sam?" Cordell Walker asked as he stepped over a ripped piece of furniture and walked over the man.

"It looks like... a claw... ripped off into the chair here."

Cordell frowned, "Just like number two."


Walker turned around and walked over to the expensive mahogany desk. He noticed a stain on the surface that looked fresh and knelt down to look closer. He sniffed at it for a moment, then got up. "Scotch... He spilled a drink..."

"Walker... we've got a camera over here..."

Walker turned around, stepping carefully over shredded material from the chair and walked over to his partner. "Do we know where the tape is?"

"Yeah," Trivette nodded, "Got the tape right here."

Walker looked around the expensive offices and quickly spotted a TV, he walked over to the cabinet it was in and opened the doors to reveal a full audio visual setup. "Put it in."

Trivette nodded and slid the tape into the machine.

Cops gathered around as the tape started to run and they saw a man in an expensive suit walk around the office, apparently cleaning up for the night. He mixed himself a drink from the bar in the corner and walked back to his chair to relax.

"Our victim?" A cop asked from behind them.

Walker nodded. "Yeah..."

There was something from off screen that startled the man, he got up fast and spilled his drink over the desk. He looked surprised, but not frightened. They watched him call out a question, probably wondering if it was someone who was supposed to be there. Suddenly their was a flash of motion as the door was busted in, and then the tape went blank.

"What the?" Trivette frowned, smacking the side of the machine. "Something must have happened to the tape."

Walker popped it out of the machine and handed it back to one of the Ranger's behind him. "Get that to the lab... tell them to see if they can recover anything."

The man nodded and quickly left.

"So... what do you think, Walker?"

Walker frowned, "I don't know. Something about these murders are bugging me."

Trivette grimaced, "Something about murders always bug me."

"That's not what I meant," Walker shook his head, smiling slightly. Finally he sighed, "Come on, I want to see if this guy had any enemies."

"Why? This is a serial killing..."

Walker shook his head, "Maybe."

"Maybe?" Trivette called as he chased after his partner. "What do you mean, maybe??"

"You ready?"

Paige shook her head, "I don't know, Xander... I haven't been having a lot of luck with this stuff..."

"You can do it." Xander said, smiling confidently at her. "It's not that hard."

"Then you do it."

"I'm not a witch, remember? Magic has a restraining order out on me." Xander said, smiling patiently, "Just give it a try... ok?"

Paige frowned and let out a breath of agitation, but nodded. "Ok..."

"Did you find anything?"

Trivette shook his head, "Nothing. I mean, the guy had his fair share of competitors and even a few disgruntled acquaintances... but nothing I'd consider a murder suspect."

Walker nodded, frowing. "Ok. I guess you were right. Do we have a pattern on the killings?"

Trivette shook his head again, "Nothing... We've got murders at all levels of society. The first three were in a suburb, an entire family. The next two were a month later, a guy out for a late night walk and a woman who had a habit of moonlight walks. The next one was a split from the apparent pattern though... Rich victim, in his own home... No sign of break in, all the doors were locked. That's when we started to get an idea that it wasn't a job for animal control."

"Good idea." Walker said, flipping over a sheet of paper. "After that we've got a string of wealthy and powerful victims... always in their own homes or places of business... always the same fur and claws that come back as matching a Timber wolf..."

"I give up." Trivette muttered throwing down the file folder. "There just isn't a pattern to this..."

Walker peered at the papers for a second longer, "Or maybe... maybe there is a pattern and we're just not close enough to the problem."


Xander took a deep breath and flashed Paige a smile. "Come on, let's test it."

"You're nuts, you know that?"

"So people keep telling me." Xander said, grinning as he pushed open the heavy wood door and walked into Ranger Headquarters.

"Can I help you Sir?" A Ranger asked respectfully.

"Yes, you can." Xander said briskly, "I'm looking for the Ranger in charge of the Full Moon Killer."

"That would be Walker..." The man gestured, "He's right over there."


"No problem, Sir."

"Come on, Walker... Don't hold out on me..." Trivette said, "Spill."

Walker started to say something, but stopped as he noticed two people walking toward him. "Who's this?"

The man, who was dressed in a black suit and tie, walked up to Walker and smiled. He looked to be young, maybe in his mid twenties, and he looked tired. He had a three day beard and his eyes were heavy, but they sparkled as he spoke. "Ranger Walker?"

"Yes, that's me..."

"I'm Agent Harrison with the Violent Crimes Task Force... I think we may be working the same case."

Xander smiled at the man behind the desk, extending his wallet to the closest Ranger. <Please let this work>. "I'm Agent Harrison with the Violent Crimes Task Force... I think we may be working the same case."

Trivette took his wallet, glancing at the blank leather where a federal badge should be, and the drivers license where there should have been an FBI ID. He nodded, "Nice to meet you Agent Harrison." And handed the wallet over to his partner.

Walker accepted the wallet, flipping it open and glancing at the leather surface and drivers license. "Good day, Agent Harrison..." He said, nodding as he returned the wallet. "I assume you mean the Full Moon Killer?"

Xander nodded, relaxing and letting out a silent breath of relief. He extended his hand to the Rangers in turn, shaking first Trivette's hand, then offering his hand to Walker. <Have to remember to complement Paige... she comes through in a pinch.>

<Indeed, Alexander.> Elanthielle replied evenly, <The aversion spell was quite difficult for a witch of her inexperience. It is impressive that she succeeded.>

Walker looked at him, accepting the hand and shaking it. "Well, if you can add something to this case I'll be glad of your help."

Xander smiled, "I hope we can bring this guy down."

"Oh, we'll get him." Walker promised, "Who's your friend?"

"Oh," Xander glanced back, "This is my partner, Paige Matheson."

"Ma'am." Walker tipped his hat, then looked back at Xander. "Agent Harrison, you mind filling me on what you know?"

"Probably not as much as you at this point," Xander admitted, "But I've tracked similar killings in other cities."

Walker frowned, "You think this guy is new to Dallas?"

"Not necessarily." Xander said, "We apprehended three others, in other areas. So it's probably a local who is simply exhibiting the same symptoms."

"Symptoms?" Trivette looked up sharply, "You're talking like this is a disease or something."

Xander smiled, "Well, just count yourself lucky that the local press haven't connected it to werewolf legends yet, otherwise you'd have a real circus to deal with."

"Werewolf?" Trivette said, half smiling. "You're kidding me right?"

"Fraid not, Ranger Trivette." Xander replied, "Not that I think this guy is actually sprouting hair and claws... but I'm afraid that lycanthropy has proven to be a valid, albeit rare, condition... It's psychological of course."

"Of course." Walker said, sitting down and frowning thoughtfully. "What kind of pattern have you usually followed in the past."

Xander leaned on the desk, "Now that's the fun part, Ranger... The pattern in every case until now has usually been geographic. The killers always liked to hunt in a specific area... I understand that you have a new twist on this?"

"We do." Walker said, sliding a file over to Xander.

Xander took it and flipped it open, trying to maintain a casual air as he looked through the crime scene photo's. It wasn't as hard as he'd have liked having seen, and in some cases caused, worse carnage himself. "The first victims were random... but something changed..."

Walker nodded, "Right. The question is, is it the same guy?"

Trivette looked around, worried. "You think we have a copy cat?"

Xander shook his head, turning to Walker. "Could we have a look at the crime scene?"

Walker nodded, "Let's go."

They walked down to the street level and Walker motioned to his truck, but Xander shook his head. "I'll follow in my car."

Walker nodded, noticing the red and black Charger Xander walked toward. "Nice car. Bureau issue that?"

Xander turned and grinned, "Hardly. My one indulgence... When they sent me down here I had to bring her along..."

Walker nodded, "I understand."

Walker and Trivette got into the grey Dodge Ram and pulled away, the Charger following behind them.

Walker looked over at Trivette. "So, what do you think?"

"Of what?"


Trivette, "Seems like an ok guy... for a fed."

Walker allowed himself a grin. "Yeah."

"His partner doesn't look well though..." Trivette said "She was sweating inside... I know the AC isn't great, but it works."

Walker nodded. "Yeah."

"Is that all your gonna say?"


"Go ahead and look around," Walker said, "I need to talk to Sam here."

Xander nodded his thanks and led Paige into the room.

The Forensics team had removed the body but the smell of blood and death still lingered in the air. Xander could easily pick out splashes of blood on the walls and floor, and he could smell the musk of the attacker still lingering in the air.

Paige swallowed, covering her face to block out the smell that was in the air. "I think I'm going to be sick."

Xander walked through the office, unconcerned by the smell. He motioned Paige to his side as he walked through the crime scene. "Tell me what you see."

She shrugged, looking around. "A messy office... broken furniture... that's about it... well, the tape on the floor... Oh god. Is that where he died?"

Xander nodded. "Now tell me what you *see*."

"What are you talking about?"

"Look beyond the physical, Paige," Xander said, crouching down to examine something. "Shift your eyes to the mystical."

Paige dropped down beside him, hissing. "You know I can't do that... I've tried."

"Focus on your breathing for a moment," Xander said, glancing to make sure the Rangers were still talking with one of the forensics people. As Paige obeyed kept speaking in a low tone, "Start to turn your attention to the back of your eyes... feel a pressure build there... it starts as a light tingle... let it build... let it build..."

Paige winced, her eyes clenching shut. "I feel it... God... it... it stings..."

"Shhh...." Xander said, "It'll pass."

"It feels like someone hooked my eyeballs up to a wall socket..." Paige brought her hand up to her eyes, but Xander caught it and pulled it back down.

"Open your eyes, let it go... relax."

She did, her eyes flying open as she looked around in wonder. "Oh my god..."

Paige rose to her feet, examining the room around her with an expression of awe on her face. "It's beautiful..."

"Shhh..." Xander urged, "not so loud... this is the scene of a homicide."

Paige fell silent, but found herself staring at Xander oddly. He was surrounded by a glow that seemed to swirl in time to a pattern she couldn't place until she realized that it was his heartbeat. There were whirls of brilliant white, fiery red, a deep electric blue... below that were a pattern of greens and browns... and a wild red and black element that seemed to appear and vanish at random. Through it all was a pervasive thread of silver that seemed to dig into the deepest parts of Xander's very being.

"Paige..." He chided quietly, "You can stare at me all you want later, but right now we're attracting attention."

She blushed and looked around. The first thing that caught her eye were the other people. The Ranger named Trivette had a golden brown aura around him, it was solid and secure. Something about it made Paige want to trust the man. The Forensics man had a mishmash of colors that were hard to separate, he struck her as a busy nervous man. When she looked at Walker, though, she had to suppress a gasp of surprise.

Walker stood at the center of a yin and yang mix of green, red, and white. At the moment the green and white were flaring brightly, but it seemed to Paige that the red was merely biding its time, throbbing beneath the surface. The colors were easily as brilliant as those Xander had swirling around him, maybe even more so. And there was something else... something she didn't understand.

"Xander..." She whispered, "The Ranger..."

"Walker... yes. I know."

"What is it?"

"He's been touched by supernatural forces before. They leave a mark." Xander said, his voice neutral. "Look around the crime scene for now."

Examining the scene around her. Suddenly she frowned. "What's that?"

Xander nodded, looking at the faded reddish black glow on the floor. "That's where the man died. Look to the door."

She did, easily spotting small spots of yellow and green that were fading. "What are those spots?"

"Our werewolf left bits of himself where he smashed through the door... but that's not what I mean... look at the air."

She frowned, looking around the door. "I don't see anything."

Xander glanced at her, "There's a very slight tint to the air..."

She blinked, and looked closer. "Ok... yeah... how'd you see that?"

"Practice." Xander said.

"What is it?"

"Black magic." Xander replied, "Very black and very powerful for the tint to still be lingering after all this time."

"What does it mean?"

"Someone tamed our wolf."

Xander's voice was grim enough to shock Paige's vision back to normal as she lost her focus. "What?"

"Someone tamed our wolf." He repeated, looking over the crime scene. "And that is so not a good thing."

Paige frowned, following Xander as he started walking to the door. "What do you mean?"

"A werewolf is bad enough... but it's basically a force of nature," Xander said, "No aim... no real malicious intent... It's a hunter by nature and that's what it does. But someone out there has turned this one into a weapon. It's not the wolf we're after... It's the guy who pointed him at these people and pulled the trigger."

Paige shut her mouth as they came close to the Rangers.

Walker looked over at Xander, "Did you see everything you needed?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah. I think we can probably find a pattern if we focus on the last three or four victims."

Walker nodded, "I was thinking the same thing earlier... I have a couple Rangers running down leads based on that assumption already."


"Walker, I've got a connection between the last four vics, just like you wanted..."

"Lay it out for me." Walker said as he led Trivette, Xander, and Paige back into Ranger HQ.

"They had all won a recent bid on government contracts against one man." The Ranger said, "Trevor Mitchell. Recent fortune five hundred, started out with a corner shop right here in Dallas. Self made man, rocketed up the ladder over the last few months..."

Walker looked at the files, "All of the last four victims were competitors?"

"I ran it back further, just to see... Except for the first three, every victim was connected to this man."

Walker nodded, flipping the file shut. "Thank Ray. Trivette, Agents... let's go pay a visit to Mr Mitchell."

"Nice place." Xander said, looking up at the gleaming skyscraper they walked into.

"State of the art," Trivette said, "Went up only a year ago."


"Beyond belief." Trivette replied.

Xander nodded, not saying anything else as they walked through the lobby.

"May I help you?"

"Texas Rangers. Is Mr. Mitchell in?" Walker asked the secretary as the four of the barged into the office. Walker continued through without waiting for a response. "Thanks very much."

"Wait... wait! You can't go in there! You can't just..."

Walker brushed past her and pushed open a heavy wooden door, walking into a plush office. "Mr. Mitchell?"

"Who are you?"

"Texas Rangers." Walker replied, "We'd like to ask you a few questions."

"Do you have a warrant?" The man asked instantly.

"Do we need one?" Trivette responded, walking around the other side of the desk and peering at the man intently.

The man swallowed. "What is this all about?"

"Do you know these men?" Walker asked, handing over a sheet with a list of names on it.

The man looked at it, shrugged, and looked back at Walker. "Yeah sure. They're competitors."

"Not any more." Trivette said.


"These men are all dead, Mr. Mitchell." Walker replied coldly.

"Well..." Mitchell shrugged, "Lucky for me I guess."


"You think I had something to do with it?"

"We're getting there, Mr. Mitchell." Walker replied.

Trivette nodded, "Yeah... you don't seem too shook up about it."

Mitchell shrugged, "Why should I? None of them would give a damn if I bought it. This is a hard business, Ranger... and I didn't know any of them personally."

"Right." Trivette said, "I guess that makes it ok then."

The man shrugged and sat down, "Unless you have some evidence?"

"No." Xander spoke up, "That's enough. We'll be going now."

Walker and Trivette looked at him oddly, but didn't say anything. The straightened up and walked out.

"What the hell was that?" Trivette hissed as they hit the street.

"I didn't want you to spook him any more then he already was." Xander replied, "He's our man."

"How do you know that?"

Xander smiled slightly. "Call it... an intuition."

Walker looked at him oddly, but nodded. "Alright. Trivette, call it in. I want someone on this guy twenty four seven."

Trivette nodded. "You got it."

Xander motioned to his car. "I'll take first watch."

Walker shook his head, "Not alone. This is a Ranger case... I'll stay as well, until we get someone else on it."

Xander nodded reluctantly. "Alright. Your vehicle or mine?"

"Mine." Walker said.

Xander tossed the keys of the Charger to Paige, "You may as well get some sleep."

Paige caught them, looking uncertainly at Xander. "Are you sure?"

Xander nodded.

"Trivette, get a ride back with Agent Matheson..." Walker said. "Try to get a warrant to search Mitchell's place of business and his home.

Trivette looked uncertainly between them, then nodded. "Alright. I'll get a replacement team out here as soon as I can. That warrant will be tough though... this is pretty flimsy."

"Just try."

"So, FBI Agent, huh?" Walker said, staring out the windshield at the car they had identified as belonging to Trevor Mitchell.

"Yep." Xander replied, sounding bored.

"How long have you been doing that?"

"A few years now."

"And you've already been assigned as an Agent in Charge? Impressive." Walker said, not looking over at Xander. "What tipped you off about the guy?"

Xander didn't say anything for a moment, "Just the way he reacted."

Walker nodded, "You've taken behavioral science courses from the academy."

Xander shot the Ranger a look out of the corner of his eye, "Something like that."

Walker glanced over at Xander, but didn't say anything. Movement out of the corner of his eye brought his attention back to the job at hand. "Looks like Mr. Mitchell is in a hurry to get somewhere."

Trevor Mitchell came out, walking quickly to his car, got in, and pulled out of his parking space in a definite hurry.

Walker started the engine of the Dodge Ram and pulled out of the parking garage right behind Trevor Mitchell's red sports car.

"Nice place."

Walker nodded. "Yeah."

"What now?"

Walker shrugged, "We wait a see if Trivette can get a warrant... or until Mitchell does something stupid."

"Ah. You're awake."

John Christian looked up at the cold voice, shivering from the dank cold of the dark basement he found himself in. "Where am I? Who are you?"

"Always with the questions..." The voice chided, "and always the same ones."

"What are you talking about?" John looked around, trying to find the voice, but the source was hidden in the shadows. He shivered again, and looked down at himself. "Where are my clothes?? What happened to me?"

"Really, John. You should just accept reality and stop hiding the truth from yourself." The voice said, "But I suppose it doesn't matter much. I have another target for you."

"Who are you!?" John screamed, "What are you talking about!?"

A photograph slipped from the darkness and landed by John's feet. He picked it up and looked at it, on the picture there was a man in a cowboy hat, wearing a badge. "Who is this?"

"That, my dear friend, is..."

"Ranger Walker." The man said flatly, "Why doesn't it surprise me to find you here?"

"Perhaps because you have something on your conscience, Mr. Mitchell." Walker said, holding up a sheet of paper. "This is a warrant to search the premises."

"We've got nothing Ranger Walker."

Walker nodded, his face an impassive mask. "Alright. Pack it up."

"Yes Sir."

Trevor Mitchell smirked at Walker as he walked past. "I told you so."

Walker growled at the man as he walked past, but didn't do anything.

Xander walked out, staring steadily forward and avoiding attracting any attention from Mr Mitchell as he did. Once outside he immediately joined Paige.

"I thought he was the guy?" Paige hissed.

"He is." Xander said quietly, "His whole house reeked of magic. He has a hidden passage that leads to his basement."

"The cop said he doesn't have a basement."

"Illusion." Was all that Xander would say.

Around them the cops packed everything up, walking away from the scene until only Walker, Trivette, Xander, and Paige were left.

Walker stepped up to where Xander and Paige were leaning on the Charger. "Why do I get the idea that you're not planning on leaving?"

Xander shrugged.

"We'll get this guy." Walker promised.

Xander looked up at the full moon above them. "We have two more nights before the killer goes back into hiding for a month. Tonight, and tomorrow. That's the timeline."

"We'll get this guy." Walker repeated firmly. "Now come on, I'll buy you a drink at CD's."


"Just follow us."

"So, you still think he's our guy?" Trivette asked over a round of beers.

Xander hesitated a moment, but nodded as he looked Walker in the eyes. "Without a doubt."

"Search didn't find anything." Walker said quietly.

"Sometimes people miss things." Xander said, "Even cops."

Walker shrugged, "It's possible."

"We still need to prove it." Trivette said, shaking his head. "And that's not going to be easy now."

"It'll be easier." Walker said, "He's rattled now. He's going to mess up."

"I don't know, Walker." Trivette said, "This guy didn't seem rattled."

"He was." Xander said, "Don't mistake arrogance for innocence."

"Arrogance?" Paige asked.

"Yeah." Walker said, "He's absolutely certain that we can't touch him... but we have challenged him."

"Which means that he'll retaliate." Xander concluded.


Trivette looked between them, confused. "And you know this how?"

Xander shrugged. "I know the type."

"Same here." Walker replied.

Paige and Trivette looked between their 'partners' and shrugged.

"Whatever." Paige muttered, sipping at her beer.

"What she said." Trivette shook his head.

Walker left the group in CD's, opting to leave earlier to finish up the paperwork he'd accumulated over the expended warrant. He walked out to his truck, pausing in the middle of the parking lot as he looked around.

Not seeing anything, he turned back to his truck and kept walking.

In the shadows a pair of yellow eyes followed his every move.

"Walker's a serious guy." Paige said, after the man left.

Trivette grinned, nodding. "Oh yeah. But he's damned good at his job."

"No doubt." Xander said quietly, his eyes on the door.

Trivette looked at him, "What is it?"

"I'm not sure." Xander admitted. And that was the truth. He could feel the hairs stand up on his neck, but didn't see anything that would cause it.

Trivette nodded, looking around a bit nervously himself now that Xander had set him off. But he grinned and covered his nerves, trying to shake it off. "Anyway, you should have seen him this time we..."

Three gunshots echoed from outside. In seconds Xander and Trivette were up and heading for the door, not far behind them was CD who had paused for an instant to retrieve a shotgun, and Paige took up the rear.

Walker spun on his heel as he heard the growling behind him, his foot snapping out in a kick instinctively. He connected with the shadowing figure in mid lunge, his heel snapping its head around and deflecting it off course.

Walker drew his Taurus 92 from his hip holster and tracked on the shadowy form. "Freeze! Texas Ranger!"

It lunged for him and he squeezed the trigger reflexively.

One shot. No effect.




Still nothing, the beast's lunging form crashed into him and Walker suddenly found himself forced to drop the Taurus and grab for the growling maw that was trying to rip his throat out.

"What in the hell is that?" CD breathed in shock as he aimed the twelve gauge at the fight.

Xander's hand flashed out, pushing the barrel of the old Remington up and away, "You'll just hit Walker."

"Well what the hell do you suggest!?"

Xander shrugged, "Getting my hands dirty... before that thing bites Walker. Paige, make sure you're packing silvertips."

With that he rushed into the fight, leaving Paige to draw her Berreta and check the clip.

Walker heaved upwards, shifting the weight above him and rolling on top of the writhing form. He held on with his left hand, his arms straining against the struggling form and pulled back his right to punch it.

As he did the thing surged and he found himself being rolled back over onto his back with the thing's weight pressing hard against him. Walker heard a snarling sound above him, and barely got his right hand back into place around the wire taught tendons of the thing's throat as its snarling maw began to force its way back to his throat.

<Elan!> Xander called, summoning the staff to his hand and activating it as he ran.

"What in the hell?" CD muttered as he watched a silver staff appear from nowhere.


Paige looked at Trivette and CD, "Don't ask me. He doesn't tell me how he does anything."

Xander swept the staff in a wide arc that intersected with the werewolf's torso, eliciting a howling cry from the beast as it suddenly turned and snapped at him.

"Down boy!" Xander snapped, jumping back form the snarling form and snapping another shot to the beasts head.

The Werewolf yelped and jumped off Walker, circling around the Ranger as it eyed Xander warily.

"Here, doggy doggy doggy..." Xander smirked as he circled around himself, keeping an eye on the wolf. "You know Ranger... you might want to get out of here."

Walker rolled clear, his hand plucking the Taurus from the ground as he came to his feet. "What is that thing?"

<So much for undercover.> Xander thought to himself, grimacing. "Werewolf. Real deal. Talk later."

He was mildly surprised when Walker didn't react overly, instead just uncocked his pistol and slid it back into it's holster. "I should have known."

The Werewolf snarled and charged, forcing Xander's attention back to the fight at hand. He dropped back, rolling as the wolf leapt at him and planting his feet into the beast's body to send it flying over him. The wolf hit the ground rolling, snarling, and yelping.

Xander came back to his feet to see Paige aiming her gun unsteadily at the wolf. "Paige! No!"

"But he's trying to kill you!"

"Just give me a second!" Xander said as the wolf came back to its feet and charged at him.

This time Xander met the charge with one of his own, leading with Elan. He struck out with a short jab that rocked the wolf's head back, then whipped the ancient staff up in a jarring blow under the wolf's jaw.

The Werewolf let out a loud yelp as it fell back, rolling and snarling on the ground.

Xander's face darkened, "Sorry about this." And he snapped the staff around with another shot to the creature's skull.

This time it wasn't followed by a yelp or a howl, it just crumpled and laid there.

Xander leaned on Elan, panting heavily as he looked down at the beast. "Never a rolled up newspaper when you need one."

CD and Trivette came in fast, their guns aimed at the beast as it lay there. Walker came in close as well, but his own weapon was holstered. Paige stepped up beside Xander, her Berretta pointed at the ground. "Is he going to be ok?"

Xander shrugged, "Don't know. It's possible to live with being a Werewolf... but it's not easy."

"What... what the hell is that thing?"

"Werewolf." Walker said calmly, then he turned to look at Xander. "What I'm more interested in, is what are you two? You aren't FBI, that's for sure."

Xander sighed, glancing up at the sky. "Never an easy run, huh?"

Then he glanced at Paige and sighed again, "May as well drop the spell."

"You sure?" Paige asked dubiously.

Xander nodded.

"Spell? What the hell are you on, Agent........?" Trivette trailed off as the two figures in front of him changed.

Rather they didn't so much change as they faded away, leaving two other people in their place. Both of them were younger in appearance, the boy remarkably so. They both wore long leather dusters, tailored carefully to their forms.

"What in the name of...?" CD involuntarily took a step back and lifted his shotgun.

"Put it down, CD." Walker said calmly. "So who are you two?"

Xander smiled, "Just a pair of wandering demon hunters, Ranger. We noticed the Werewolf case and decided we'd give you a hand before Fido here injured, or infected an officer."

"I see." Walker said quietly.

"You're not buying this load a manure are ya, Cordell?" CD asked, his shotgun not *quite* coming up to cover Xander.

"I'm not sure yet, CD... I'm not sure yet." Walker said, turning back to Xander. "When you said that Mitchell was the guy... do you have any evidence?"

Xander sighed, "Nothing you could take to court."

"What have you got?"

Trivette looked around, "Walker... come on... this guy is talking about Werewolves like they're real..."

Walker looked at Trivette, then down at the fur covered form on the ground that was obviously not a man but certainly not a normal wolf either. When Trivette looked down himself, and swallowed, Walker turned back to Xander.

"The guy's aura matches the magic that was used to put a leash on Fido." Xander said, "Black and oily."

Walker rubbed his beard, sighing. "You're right. Nothing I can take to court... But I know what you mean...."



Walker ignored them, still talking to Xander. "I felt it too, when I got close to him."

Xander cracked a grin, "You never were fooled by our FBI act were you?"

"Why do you say that?" Walker smiled slightly.

"Cause if you could feel his magic, then you could feel ours." Xander said.

Walker shrugged, smiling. "You seemed to be interested in helping. It would have been rude to throw in you jail for impersonating a federal agent. But in the future, you should at least get a fake badge and ID..."

Xander chuckled, shaking his head. "I should have known better. Me and Magic never mix. What now?"

Walker shrugged, "I can't let Mitchell get away with this."

Xander looked at him, "You know you can't bring him to prison don't you?"

Walker sighed, and nodded. "Yeah."

Trivette shuffled nervously. "What are we talking about here? Of course we're going to arrest this guy if he's guilty..."

"Ranger Trivette..." Xander sighed, "If you put this guy in prison, he'll break out the moment he wants to... and he'll probably take the worst of the other prisoners along for fun."

"So... what? You're going to kill him?" Trivette shook his head, "No way... I don't work that way... I *won't* work that way."

Xander kneeled down and turned over the unconscious form of the werewolf, "This guy didn't ask to be a killer... he just wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he got infected. But Mitchell... Mitchell bound this poor bastard, and then forced him to kill for him, over and over. If Mitchell had done that with a gun, and you had the evidence to arrest him... what would his sentence be?"

Trivette's eyes flicked around as he thought, "Five or six premeditated murders? He'd get the chair."

"Now imagine what he deserves for turning another living being into a *weapon*." Xander said, but then shrugged as he got up. "Truth is though, I don't think it'll matter."

"Huh?" Trivette blurted, "What do you mean?"

"He means," Walker said, still deathly calm. "That it's very unlikely like Mr. Mitchell will surrender peaceably."

Xander nodded, "He's too arrogant to think that he could lose. He's not going to give up, because he doesn't think he can possibly lose.

"I don't like this." Trivette said, shaking his head. "I really don't like this."

"You shouldn't come, Rangers." Xander said quietly. "No good will come of it."

Walker shook his head, "I'm not letting some kid do my job."

Trivette looked at the group and shook his head, "I still don't see why we can't get a warrant."

"The law doesn't cover his crimes, Ranger." Xander said softly. "And the law isn't capable of dealing with him. Sad fact is, there are some people who are *below* the reach of the law."

"I don't like this." Trivette repeated.

"Neither do I." Walker replied, "But that's not always the name of the game."

"Come on, Jimmy," CD Parker said, half smiling as he hefted his old shotgun. "This is Texan tradition."

Xander shook his head, "You... all of you, should go back into the bar. This guy isn't a perp that you can slap the cuffs on. We've got better then even odds that he'll be prepared for police action."

"Listen here, you little punk." CD growled, "What do you think you can do that we can't?"

Xander silently stretched his hand out and summoned Elan, who shimmered into existence in the palm of his hand.

"What the hell?"

Xander ignored the shock and surprise, instead he slid Elan carefully into his belt and silently walked to the back of his car and popped the trunk. He wordlessly slid the ancient Katana from where it was secured and offered the weapon, hilt first to CD. "Draw it from the scabbard."

CD looked at him oddly, "What?"

"Draw it!"

CD grasped the hilt of the ancient weapon and tried to pull it clear of the scabbard, but it wouldn't budge. CD jerked it, trying to slide the blade out, but it wouldn't move so much as an inch in its scabbard.

Xander tossed the sword to Trivette. "Go on, draw the blade."

Trivette frowned, but couldn't get it to move.

"Give it to Walker."

Trivette handed it off to Walker, who looked at in with interest. When his hand closed on the hilt even Xander leaned forward, a gleam of interest in his eyes. When Walker couldn't budge the blade, Xander stepped back, shaking his head. <Too bad.>

"Pass it back." Xander said, accepting the sword from Walker. He easily slid the weapon clear of it's scabbard and held it up for the three of them to see.

"So what? It's a trick scabbard..." Trivette said.

Xander smiled, "You'd think so, wouldn't you?"

Then Xander turned and flashed the blade at a concrete and steel post that was on the side of the street. The blade flashed twice, then Xander paused.

The post fell apart in two clean cuts, three pieces total. Xander cocked his head to one side, then sighed and nodded. He swiped the blade across the palm of his hand, winching as the lethal edge parted his skin. Then he slid the blade back into it's scabbard, neatly cleaning his blood from it's surface with his thumb and forefinger.

"Holy..." Trivette muttered, looking at the destroyed post. "Hey! That's city property."

Xander groaned, his hand hanging. He looked up at Walker, "Is he always like this?"

"Pretty much yeah."

Xander shook his head, "The point is this. I'm carrying two weapons that bear the same classification as Excalibur. This is what I do, gentlemen. This is who I am. I'm not a cop, this isn't a police action."

"Just what do you think it is?" Trivette asked him incredulously.

It was Walker who answered the question. "A War. He's talking about a war."

Xander nodded. "A war that has been waged for thousands of years, by people who give up everything they have... everything they could have... in the hopes of simply holding the enemy back."

"You can't fight a war in downtown Dallas!" Trivette objected, "I don't give a damn."

"I think," Walker spoke slowly and softly, "That you'll find a soldier never gets to choose where the war is fought."

Xander sighed, "That, Ranger Walker, is the sad truth."

"I'm coming." Walker said, his voice firm.

"So am I." CD Parker said, "Wild horses couldn't keep me out."

Trivette stepped back, spinning his heel as he flailed around in frustraiotn. "Arrrrgh! I *Hate* this!"

Xander shrugged, "Go home. Go to bed, forget what you've seen tonight. Most people would."

Trivette wiped his face and forehead hard with both hands, pushing his short hair back. "I can't! I'm in... dammit, I'm in."

Xander sighed, sharing a glance with Paige. "Fine. I'm the last person to try to keep someone from choosing to fight."

The Dodge Ram and Dodge Charger slowed to a stop three blocks down from the Mitchell residence, and five silent figures got out of the two vehicles and gathered together under the cover of the grove of tree's they had parked under.

"CD." Xander said softly, "Pass me your shotgun."

"Huh?" CD Parker asked, "Why?"

"Just give it to me."

CD reluctantly handed his weapon over to Xander, who popped the trunk on the Charger and dropped the weapon inside.

"Hey! What in Sam Hill do you think you're doing?" CD objected.

Xander unsnapped a black nylon cover and let it hang loosely from the underside of his trunk lid, he pulled out a black object and tossed it to CD who caught it.

"What the hell?" CD looked over the black assault shotgun, his eyes wide.

Walker whistled, a low sound. "An Atchisson. Nice gun."

Xander nodded briefly, but didn't reply. He tossed a drum clip to CD, "That clip is dutch loaded with silver slugs and buckshot. Just in case our friend has any other nasties under his control."

CD looked the weapon over, his eyes still wide. "Jesus Christ, Kid. This gun breaks at least eight different firearms ordinances in this state."

"Call a cop." Xander muttered, pulling out a half dozen stick clips for the Atchisson and handing them off to CD. "The two marked with blue tape are silver ammo, loaded the same as the drum clip... the others are normal buckshot. The shotgun is set on single round right now, flip the selector switch and you'll be ready to rock... brace yourself or it'll put you on your ass... believe me, I know."

Trivette frowned, looking at Xander and then craned his neck to look into the trunk. "What the hell else are you carrying in there?"

Xander shrugged, "Not as much as I'd like. I'm expecting delivery of a couple assault weapons when I hit Boston, but for now we'll have to make do."

Trivette's hands dropped to his side as he looked around, "Walker!? Are you going to stand there and let this slide??"

Walker caught a box of nine millimeter bullets and checked them out, "Silver?"

Xander nodded, "Good for vampires, Werewolves, Demons... and even humans if it comes down to it."

Walker nodded and slipped a couple clips off his belt, quickly emptying them and starting to load the silver into it."


Walker looked up at Trivette, "Ask me that after we're done."

Trivette stared at Walker in disbelief until Paige came up by his side, "You've got a Berretta 92, right?"

He nodded, and was surprised when she slapped three clips into his hand. "Huh?"

"Just in case."

Trevor Mitchell growled as he paced in his den. <Where is that blasted wolf!?>

He growled in frustration and walked to a corner, waving his hand impatiently. His gesture caused a shimmer to appear in the corner, and a circular staircase to become visible. He strode down the stairwell impatiently, sealing it behind him.

The group slowed as they approached the rich home of Trevor Mitchell. The lights were still on, but there was no sign of motion from the outside.

"We have to be careful." Xander said, "It's impossible to say what kind of security he has."

"What? Electronic?" Trivette asked.

"Electronic I can handle," Xander said, glancing over the grounds. "I didn't spend a few weeks with an Immortal thief for nothing..."


"Umm... never mind that." Xander said, "Let's see here..."

Mitchell approached a pedestal set in the center of the small room, ignoring the shelves of books surrounding him. He opened the heavy leather bound book on the pedestal, flipping through the pages until he located the spell he was looking for.

"Reveal that which is under my power, show me where it lies," He intoned, "Reveal that which I have claimed, do this I command!"

The air shimmered around him, fading away until an overlay of the area was floating in front of him. A bright dot on the overlay caught his attention. <He's only a few blocks away... but he isn't moving...>

He frowned and flipped the pages of the book to another section and began another incantation.

In the back of Walker's truck a shimmer of lights fell across a bound form that was hidden under a tarp. In seconds the tarp began to writhe and struggle, until finally a furred claw slashed through the tarp and into the open air.

"The security system is cheap." Xander said, crossing two wires. "There. That should set the system into a loop..."

"How did you know how to do that?" Paige whispered.

"I hung out with a rather famous thief..." Xander whispered back, "Nice lady... but this was pretty cheap... He must be confident in his magic. I'd never have been able to short out a professional system."

"Right..." Paige muttered, "You and I need to have a long talk."

Xander shrugged, "Come on, guys... let's go... but slowly."

In his 'inner sactum' Trevor Mitchell's head snapped around to a sound that only he could hear.

"What?" he looked around, his eyes boring through the air that surrounded him as he searched. Finally he smiled, "Ah... my dear Ranger Walker... Welcome to my humble home."

He walked across the room and drew a long black robe off a hanger, slipping it over his shoulders and drawing the hood over his head. "Welcome indeed. To my home, and your final resting place."

The five figures slipped across the grounds of the mansion quickly, heading for the south side of the building.

As Xander reached the corner of the building he glanced around the stonework and checked the field. Then he glanced back and signaled the all clear to the others. He quietly waved them up with a quiet motion of his hand.

Behind him Paige and CD ran up and fell into a crouch behind him.

Xander remained silent, looking across to where Ranger Walker and Trivette were crouched by the other side. He looked over at them and quickly drew an open ended rectangle in the air.

Walker paused for an instant, then flashed him an ok sign and then drew a square in the air with his own hand.

Xander returned the ok sign and swung his arm through ninety degrees from straight down to straight forward.

Walker nodded and flashed an ok sign, then turned away.

Xander looked back at Paige and CD, "Let's move."

Walker nudged Trivette and motioned to a window just around the corner. "That's our way in."

Trivette nodded, crouching under the window as he slipped a hand up and tested the window. He felt it give slightly and pushed up, sliding it open. He mouthed the word 'unlocked' to Walker, who nodded and sidled up to the window himself.

As the window slid open, Walker looked in quickly.

"Nothing." He whispered, "Cover me."

Trivette nodded as Walker jumped up and slipped into the window.

Xander ducked around the corner, motioning CD and Paige to wait. He quickly reached the door that was closest and crouched by the nob. After checking the door and finding it locked, he slid out a slim piece of a metal from his pocket and slid it into the lock. A few moments later he smiled as the lock popped and he let himself in, waving CD and Paige up behind him.

<Thank you, Amanda.> He thought, not for the first time, as he slipped his eyes into enhanced mode and examined the interior of the house.

"You see anything?" Trivette whispered as he slipped in the window behind his partner.

"No." Walker whispered back as he moved through the room, his Taurus 92 leading the way.

Trivette nodded and moved along behind him.

They reached an archway at the far end of the room, and looked cautiously into the next room. That room was well lit, but there was no sign of occupation so they quickly crossed the room, looking for any signs of the whereabouts of Trevor Mitchell.

Walker stopped at an ornate Oak desk and shifted through the papers that were scattered on it's surface. He frowned while looked at one.

"Have something?"

Walker shook his head, "Maybe... he has a clipping of the last three murders here."

Trivette raised an eyebrow, "Really? That's suggestive..."

"It's not enough... or it wouldn't be..." Walker trailed off.

A new voice echoed eerily through the room. "Or it wouldn't be if this case was to go to court. Is that it, Ranger Walker?"

CD and Paige had slipped past him into the long hallway, and Xander was closing the door when a low growl raised the hairs on the back of his neck.

Instinctively he tried to slam the door shut, but a sudden force slammed into it and catapulted him onto his back and flung the door open wide. A furry form bounded through the open door and flung itself onto Xander, who barely got his arm up in time as a snarling, drooling, mouth full of razor sharp teeth clamped down onto it.

"Xander!" Paige screamed as he caught sight of the huge werewolf that was crouched over top of him.

Walker and Trivette spun around, looking for the source of the voice, their guns tracking across the room.

A robed figure stepped out, a thin cruel smile barely visible under his hood. "My my, Ranger Walker... How the mighty have fallen... I don't suppose you have a warrant for this intrusion?"

Walker and Trivette split apart, their gun's staying on the robed figure as they put some distance between themselves.

"Freeze!" Trivette said, his weapon aimed at the center of the man's chest.

"Certainly, Ranger." The figure lifted his right hand into the air at chest level, palm upwards. A clue white ball of energy suddenly appeared floating a few inches above his palm, "As you wish."

He suddenly flung the energy at Trivette, who stared in shock as the glowing ball came at him.

"What the...?"

Xander winced in anticipated pain, then his eyes widened as he realized that all he was feeling was a hard pressure around his arm. He looked and realized that the werewolf's teeth hadn't penetrated the deceptively soft sleeve of the coat he was wearing. <Bless you Terry.>

Xander surged up, barely managing to move under the weight of the Werewolf, but couldn't dislodge the snarling figure. Around him he could hear Paige and CD yelling.


"Move it girl, I'll get the beasty!"

Xander ignored it, surging again, but this time he shifted his weight and rolled with the motion of the beast. He maneuvered the werewolf onto it's back, his arm still locked in the creatures mouth.

"Bastard." Xander growled through gritted teeth and smashing the beast's head repeatedly with his free fist. "Let. Go!"

"Trivette!" Walker threw himself across the room, hitting Trivette shoulder high and knocking him to the ground.

Above them the blue white ball passed by and struck a plant in the corner behind them, freezing it solid. Icicles formed on leaves, the weight causing the plant to over balance and fall. When it struck the ground, the six foot tall plant shattered into millions of pieces.

From the ground, Trivette and Walker stared in shock at the shattered remains of the plant, then scrambled back to their feet as the robed figure stood there, smirking.

"What?" The figure asked in mock surprise, "Was that too frozen for you?"

"Son! Of! A! Bitch!" Xander screamed, punctuating each word with a slam of his fist into the werewolf's head.

No matter how hard he hit the creature it wouldn't let go, and it's writhing and rolling had sent the two of them along almost the entire length of the hall.

In desperation he reached under his jacket and slid one of the custom daggers Andy had had designed for him, drawing back and slamming the blessed silver weapon into the Werewolf's shoulder.

"Sorry." He whispered as the creature howled in pain and finally let go.

Xander rolled clear, summoning Elan to him instantly and, finally having enough distance to make full use of the ancient weapon, slammed the butt of the staff into the Werewolf's head. As it fell silent and unmoving to the ground, Xander pulled his dagger from the wolf's shoulder and looked at the other two.

"Let's get moving."

As the robed figure brought up it's other hand and materialized a fiery red ball, Walker and Trivette fired automatically.

The figure flicked it's free hand almost contemptuously and the fusillade of bullets slammed into a shimmering barrier.

"Oh please." The figure sounded bored as he spoke, "You'll have to do better then that."

"I thought the kid said those bullets worked against supernatural shit!" Trivette yelled as he dove to avoid the thrown ball of fiery energy.

Walker dropped into a crouch, flinching slightly as the ball of fire exploded against the far wall and rained fire down around him. "I think they have to hit the target in order to work!"

"Yeah..." Trivette considered, "Probably."

Walker rose to his feet, continuing to fire at the figure as he charged forward. The bullets did little more then spatter off the protective field, but they did distract the figure long enough for Walker to close the gap between them.

Walker launched himself through the air, half expecting to be stopped cold by the same field that halted his bullets, and slammed into the robed figure. As both men tumbled to the ground the robed man scrambled away, working to his feet even as Walker did the same.

Walker slammed a fist into the man's gut, doubling him over, then followed through with a kick that sent the man flying back into a wall. The Mage struggled back to his feet and glared at the Ranger.

"Bastard!" He growled, "I'll see you fry in hell!"

As the robed figure materialized another red white ball of fire, Walker launched a spin kick that caught him in the head. The figure spun around, falling to the ground in surprise, and dropped the fiery globe. The ball exploded at his feet, showering both him and Walker with flames that licked at their skin and caught on their clothing.

"Walker!" Trivette yelled, running to his partner as Walker dove clear of the burning flames. He stripped his jacket off and used it to beat at the fire that was flickering along his partner's form.

After a few hectic moments they managed to get the flames put out and Trivette helped Walker to his feet. They tentatively approached the point in the room where the fire was still blazing, their hands held up to shield their faces. As they got closer they realized that robed figure was gone.

"Where is that guy!?"

Walker shook his head, "I don't know... come on, we've got to find him.

Xander and Walker almost ran into each other coming around a corner, both tensing as they led with their guns.

They let out a breath of relief and relaxed slightly as they recognized each other.

"You guys ok?"

Xander nodded, "Fido made a comeback, but it's handled... is that a fire?"

Walker glanced over his shoulder to where the flames were beginning to spread beyond the room they had been in. "Yeah... it's a long story."

"I'll bet," Xander grinned, "You see Mitchell?"



Trivette looked around nervously. "Some guy in a robe pitched fire and ice at us..."

Xander shrugged, "Sounds like a Mage."

"Yeah, fine..." Walker muttered, "But where is he?"

Xander glanced around, uncertain. "Not sure... hang on a sec."

He shifted his perceptions, relying less on his eyes and more on the inner sense that allowed him to perceive auras and magic. As the colors came into focus around him, Xander looked around, searching for active magic.

"This way..." He motioned, leading the group towards a pulsing aura of blue and gold.

Trevor Mitchell stumbled down the winding stairs, tumbling the last few steps as he lost his balance while trying to put out the flames that were consuming his robes. He managed to rip the burning materials from his body and throw them to one side, cursing.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" He muttered, pushing himself to his feet as he made his way to a laboratory style rack of vials and potions.

He looked over the rack and quickly grabbed a few bottles from the shelves, hauling them over toward a workbench.

Distracted, he glanced around himself, his eyes seemed to look beyond. He suddenly growled. "Damned wolf! Useless creature...."

He turned his attention back to the workbench and began mixing solutions and components.

"In here..." Xander said, leading the group into a small but lavishly furnished den.

"Where?" Paige asked, looking around.

Xander frowned at her, "Look for yourself, Paige. You've done it before."

She grimaced, "It's not that easy..."

"What are you talking about?" Trivette growled, looking around himself.

Walker looked around, shivers running up his spine. "You don't feel that?"

"Feel what?"

Xander smiled, "You can sense it, can't you?"

Walker nodded, "What is it?"

"An active spell that's quite powerful..." Xander said, "I don't know what type though... but I can see the energy."


"The corner." Xander motioned to the corner of the room.

Walker nodded, "Yeah... Yeah. That's it all right."

The two of them approached the corner cautiously, looking for anything out of the ordinary as they did.

Xander holstered his pistols and summoned Elan to his hand, tentatively walking into the locale of the magic field.

<Any ideas?>

<I am sorry, Alexander.> Elanthielle replied, <I can only sense this magic, I can not identify it.>

He sighed, but nodded. <Alright.>

"You got anything?" Walker asked, looking intently at Xander.

Xander shook his head, "Not a dammed thing, Ranger."

Trevor Mitchell lifted the small vial to his mouth, hesitated for only a moment before swallowing the vile black fluid.

He grimaced as he slid down his throat, eliciting a gagging sensation from him. He dropped the vial to the floor, the fragile glass shattering as it struck the cold concrete, then wiped his mouth clean with his sleeves.

The Black Mage gripped the workbench as the potion ran through him, his muscles jumping from its effects. Quickly a chill ran through his body, damping the fiery sensation of the burns he had endured and the pain of his fight with the Ranger ebbed away.

As the potion took full effect, Trevor Mitchell glared up at the ceiling, his eyes an oily black and his face a mask of rage.

"You bastards want to play? Alright. We'll play!"

"Come on," Trivette said, "He's not in here..."

Walker shook his head, "I'm not so sure about that..."

The group tensed at Walker's flat statement, looking over their shoulders as if for some boogeyman. Xander nodded at Walker, and stepped into the center of the magical field, feeling his way using the inner perception more then his eyes sight.

"There's something here... A... A doorway I think." Xander said slowly, "I'm not sur... Whoaaaa!!!!"

Everyone blinked as Xander fell through the floor and vanished from sight.

Mitchell growled and started up the stairwell, waving his hand to open the hidden passage. He looked up when he heard a yell, only to have his feet clipped out form under him as a rolling form came tumbling down the stairs.

The two of them kept tumbling in a mass of arms and legs until they hit the bottom.

"Ooohhhhhh..." Xander groaned, lifting his head painfully.

"Son of a!" Mitchell growled, picking himself up off the ground. "Of all the ignominious... Who are you child!?"

Xander looked up, and swallowed as he took in the oily black eyes and aura that permeated the man standing above him. "Uhh... innocent bystander?"

"Where'd he go!?" Paige yelled, looking around in vain for Xander.

Walker was calmer, but still staring intently at the spot Xander had vanished at. "I don't know..."

"Well if that don't beat all..." CD stared in shock.

Walker turned on Paige, "He said that you can see the same way he can?"

Paige swallowed, "I've only done it once..."

"Well, try..." Walker urged her, "He may need help."

Paige looked around, frightened and nervous, but nodded. "Ok..."

"Bystanders should know better then to stick their noses into other people's business." Mitchell growled, extending his hand out toward where Xander lay. Then he muttered a single word. "Electrius."

A blue bolt of electricity crossed the gap between them, slamming into Xander chest. He screamed as his back arced in the sizzling current, but managed to roll clear. Sweat poured down his face from the strain as he rose to his knees.

Mitchell's face was red with fury as he repeated the incantation, doubling the energy of the spell.

Xander screamed again as the voltage surged through him, but he managed to keep his balance and forced himself up off all fours so that he was kneeling.

"Will you just *DIE*!" Trevor screamed, spittle flying from his mouth as he watched in disbelief as the child forced himself up to one knee.

Xander's face was contorted in pain as he kept forcing himself up, but he was as shocked as the mage was that he was still living. He growled in anger and pushed once more, rising to his feet. He gritted his teeth and ground out, "That. Hurts!"

Mitchell growled and suddenly released the spell. "It should have killed you!"

"Sorry, I don't die that easy." Xander muttered, raising his hand, and summoned Elan from wherever she had rolled during his fall.

The silver battle staff shimmered into his grip, fully extended, and Xander shifted into a fighting stance.

"Who are you?" Mitchell asked, his eyes still oily black.

"No one of any importance." Xander muttered.

"That statement shall be true enough in a moment, child."

Xander threw himself to one side as a blue white ball of energy passed through his position. He didn't look back to see it strike the wall but he could hear the crackling and snapping of it's effects as he rolled back to his feet.

"Your aim sucks." He growled, circling around the Mage, holding Elan at the ready between them.

Mitchell growled and manifested another ball of blue white energy. "I'll just have to practice, won't I?"

Xander tensed, watching as the Mage fired the ball at him. He sidestepped, a grin tugging at his lips as he swung Elanthielle into the path of the energy. <Batter's up!>

He struck it cleanly, and surprisingly, the energy ball rebounded and flew back in the general direction of the mage.

Mitchell ducked in surprise, glancing back to see the ice energy strike the steps behind him and coat them with a thick layer of ice. He looked back at the child an instant later, only to find that his distraction was about to cost him dearly.

Xander attacked the instant the mage's eyes flickered to follow the wayward energy blast, snapping Elan out with a broad stroke that caught the mage in the side of the jaw and spun him to the ground.

From his knees, Mitchell snapped out with one hand and Xander felt a pressure wave lift him off the ground and send him back into the wall. He slid to the ground, seeing stars as he did.

"Ouch." He groaned from the ground, shaking his head.

Mitchell growled, clawing his way back to his feet. "You'll pay for that, child."

Xander chuckled, rubbing the back of his head. "Did you take a night course in 'how to be an evil bastard', or does spouting dumb catch phrases just come naturally?"

"Tansmogri Victus!" Mitchell snarled, his hand splayed as it stretched out toward Xander.

Xander tensed as he felt a pressure exert itself on his body, but then found himself looking around curiously as nothing else seemed to happen. "Huh?"

Mitchell was pretty much doing the same. "Who are you!? How can you resist my most powerful spells!?"

"Beats me," Xander quipped, "Maybe it's your age... I hear it happens to a lot of old mages..."

Mitchell growled, "Electrius!"

Xander brought Elanthielle up in defense as the electrical arcs once again connected him to Mitchell, grimacing as some of the power was conducted through Elanthielle to his arms. He surged forward, fighting the jumping of his muscles and the pain that was coursing through his entire body. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as he reached the halfway point, but he kept pushing forward.

As he got within a few feet, Mitchell brought up his second hand and muttered another incantation. "Barrius Incano!"

Xander struck a glimmering blue green barrier a couple feet form his target, the electrical attack still eating at his strength. He dug deep and tapped into Elan's power, turning it against the barrier.

There was a blinding flash as the power of the spell came into conflict with the power of the ancient weapon, sparks of light and dark erupted from the weapon and orbited the two combatants. Then there was a surge as both warriors used the last of their reserves in a desperate attempt to defeat the other.

A moment later everything went white.

Paige opened her eyes, feeling a buzzing pressure reach critical mass in her head. She looked at Walker in shock. "I think I did it."

"What do you see?"

She looked around, staring at the corner of the room with more then a little bit of wonder. "There's power here... it's... I don't know. Something is going on under us..."


She shook her head, "I don't know... I just see pulses... OH!"

Her hands flew to her eyes and she fell backwards in shock. Trivette moved quickly and barely manage to catch her before she fell. "What happened?"

"God! It was so bright!" Paige rubbed her eyes, "I can't see!"

Trivette pulled her hands away from her eyes, then dropped her wrists in sock as he looked at her eyes. They were solid white. "My god."

"I can't see!" Paige wailed, her hands flailing about in panic.

Walker caught her wrists, "Calm down!"

Paige stopped, obeying the commanding tone of his voice. "I can't see..." She whispered.

"What happened?" Walker asked urgently, staring unflinchingly into the milk white color of her eyes. "What did you see before it happened?"

She shook her head, "I don't know... I don't know... there were these pulses, then suddenly it was like looking into an exploding star... everything went white..."

Walker looked back to the corner where Xander had vanished, a churning lump in his gut telling him that things had gone from bad to worse.

As life came flooding back, pain came with it. Xander cried out, his voice grating against his throat as he did. <Oh fuck that hurts.>

He opened his eyes painfully, then instantly slammed them shut again as the air ripped at them.

<Be easy, Alexander... you were badly injured...>

<AHHH!> He screamed mentally, <Not so loud... please...?>

Elan didn't speak again, she merely hovered in the background and tried to project a comforting presence.

"Thank you..." He whispered as he tried to open his eyes again.

The room was dark, but there was enough light for him to see. Trevor Mitchell was lying face down a few inches from him. Xander forced himself painfully to his hands and knees and crawled over top of the Mage, rolling the motionless body over.

Xander winced as he saw the man's face. It was twisted in fury, his teeth were charred black, and there was smoke wisping from the hollowed out pits that were once the Mage's eyes.

<Oh damn.> Xander thought instantly, before realizing that this was how the fight was bound to end no matter what. One way or another only one of them could have walked away.

<Or crawled.> Xander thought miserably as another spasm of pain shot through his entire body.

He summoned Elan to his hand and used the ancient weapon as a walking staff as he painfully began to climb the stairwell.

Walker laid Paige down on her back, looking over her face with concern. He shook his head, glancing back. "Trivette... so if you can put that fire out.. CD, help him out."

Trivette looked nervous, but nodded and quickly headed back to the room where they had faced the robe figure with CD in tow.

"Relax, Paige... you'll be alright..."

She stared at the ceiling, her eyes still an unblinking milky white. "But... how do you know?"

Walker hesitated, his heart skipping a beat as he heard the plaintive tone of her voice. "Just trust me. Ok, Paige? Trust me."

Paige shook her head wildly, not willing to take anything on trust. "Where's Xander? Find Xander... please...."

"I don't know where he is. We'll find him after we take care of you."

"NO!" She screamed, trying to sit up. "We have to find him... he could be hurt... dying."

"Paige..." A hoarse voice rasped, causing her to look around wildly.


Walker turned to look and saw Xander standing behind him, leaning heavily on his silver staff, his face charred black in places. "Jesus. You ok, Kid?"

"I've been better." Xander admitted painfully, "What's wrong with Paige?"

"I can't see..." She said softly, "Xander... I'm blind."

Xander stumbled across the room, falling to his knees and hissing in pain as he reached Paige. "Let me see."

He reached up, gently cupping her face as he held her face still. "Open your eyes..."

She obeyed and he looked at her milky white eyes, frowning. His breath hitched a bit as he winced in pain, then he looked back at her. "How'd this happen?"

Walker shook his head, "I don't know..."

"Paige," Xander said slowly, "What happened?"

"I don't know... I did what you told me, to see the magic?"

"Ok..." Xander prodded slowly, "and next?"

"I looked down... and there was this blinding flash... and then, I... I was blind...."

Walker watched as Xander considered the words, noticing as Xander's eyes went vacant. It was an expression that Walker recognized, he had seen SWAT officers and military do the same thing when they were listening to orders or information over a radio earpiece.

The only trouble was, Walker didn't see any earpiece in the boy's ear.

Xander refocused on Paige's face and smiled through the wracking pain he was feeling. "Don't worry..." He rasped, "We can fix this."

"What happened?" Walker spoke softly.

"Feedback... kind of." Xander explained, speaking slowly. "She wasn't prepared for the level of power Mitchell and I were putting out. Her mind's eye overloaded."

Walker shook his head, "But why did it change the color of her real eyes?"

"A witch's eyes are mirrors on her mind." Xander said softly, speaking more to Paige then to Walker. "When they grow enraged their eyes turn red or oily black... in Paige's case she shock has been echoed in her eyes."

"But... you can fix it, right Xander?" Paige asked, her voice still plaintive.

"Yes..." Xander said slowly, "But the physical problem will be the easy part... you may have caused some long term damage to your inner sense. You might not be able to access it for a while..." <If ever.>

Paige shuddered, "I don't think I'm going to miss that... it hurt..."

"I know... I know..." Xander said, pulling her close to him. "I've felt similar things... We'll fix your eyesight, then we'll worry about the rest."

Walker stepped back, shaking his head. "Kid... what happened?"

"Mitchell's dead." Xander said quietly, still holding Paige.


"The same burst that blinded Paige... burnt him out." Xander replied. "We had a... little staring match. He blinked."

CD and Trivette stumbled back into the room, covered in smoke, soot, and smudges of smoke. They looked in surprise when they spotted Xander.


"Are you ok? You look like hell!"

Xander didn't have much strength, but he had enough to smirk up at CD and speak. "Gee, thanks CD, you know how to make a guy feel loved, you know that?"

Walker chuckled, shaking his head.

"What happened to you?" Trivette asked.

"Later." Walker said, "Trivette... look for some blankets... pillow... anything to keep these two comfortable."

Trivette looked around, uncertain. "Uh... sure. Yeah, right."

"I've got to go for a little bit, Paige." Xander said, pushing himself up.

"Where are you going?" She asked as he slipped out of her reach.

"Not far." He promised, "Not far."

Walker knelt by Paige as Xander returned to the corner and vanished form sight again. "Huh?"

"What? What happened?" Paige asked, looking around.

"He disappeared again." Walker replied, "Don't worry... I think he meant to this time."

"Figures." Paige muttered.

Xander staggered a bit as he walked down the stairs, his connection to Elan improving his own already significant tolerance to pain. He sighed as he looked at the body he had to step over, <How did I survive that?>

Elan's voice was softer then when she had spoken earlier, a tone of concern in it. <One of the first things I noticed about you, Alexander. You have an abnormally high tolerance for pure magic...>

"Tell that to my bones. I feel like he fried me."

<The electrical attack was not pure magic, Alexander. Energy is energy, whether it be created by magic or science. You're tolerance, however, permitted to you absorb and resist the energies he marshaled in the final moments.>

"Great." Xander muttered, looking around the underground lair. "We'll talk about this later. Let's see what he was hiding down here..."

Xander first approached the book on the pedestal, flipping it open tentatively. He couldn't feel an magic on it, but he didn't trust his senses at the moment. When the book didn't strike him dead, he sighed in relief and looked closer.

"What do you think, Elan?"

<His book of spells or, as the Halliwells would call it, his Book of Shadows.>

"Cute." Xander flipped through the pages, examining the calligraphy and illustrations. "Evil?"

<Some... not entirely...>

Xander nodded, flipping the book shut and tucking it under his arm. "We'll spend more time with it later."

He turned through the rest of the small room, examining the books and components. "Some of these are probably valuable... I wish Giles were here."

<You cannot take them all...>

"True." Xander sighed. "True."

He walked away from the books, examining the rest of the basement.

"Hmmm... Shackles, chains, whips... standard stuff for a Mage's basement, and for a dominatrix's home... makes me wonder which one thought of it first..."

<Hilarious, Alexander.> Elanthielle muttered dryly. <I do believe it would be wise if you hurried... you can not ignore your injuries for long.>

Xander winced as a pain shot though his arm, as if to punctuate her comment. He nodded reluctantly. "Alright... we'll move back up."

When Xander reappeared in the room, Trivette was wrapping Paige in a blanket and Walker was waiting for him.

"What's that?" Walker asked, pointing to the book under his arm.

"Spell book." Xander said simply, leaning heavily against the large desk. "Too dangerous to leave lying around..."

Walker nodded, not really understanding but willing to take his word.

"There are some other things down there too..." Xander said, "We'll have to move them out of here and store them somewhere safe."

"Like what?"

"Books mostly." Xander replied, "But don't let that fool you... some books are more dangerous then you'd ever believe."

"How are you going to get them out of here?" Walker asked. "Someone will notice in this neighborhood..."

Xander smiled weakly, "That I think I can manage... for now, though... let's get out of here."

Xander limped as he led Paige into the room they were sharing for the night, groaning as his arm rubbed against the door as it closed.

"Xander?" Paige asked from just beside him, "Are you alright? What happened?"

"I just brushed my arm the wrong way... It's ok."

"Oh..." She clutched at his other arm, forcing Xander to hide the occasional sound of pain as her grip sent its own messages along his nervous system.

Xander locked the door, then led Paige to the single bed, guiding her until she was seated on the soft bed. "I have to go clean up. I'll be right back." He promised, tossing his coat on a nearby chair.


Xander went to the washroom and pealed off his shirt, wincing as sections of the fabric stuck to raw patches of skin. He grimaced as he looked at himself in the mirror. If he had let Trivette or Walker see half of what he was looking at now, they'd have had him in the ER instantly. Luckily the pain trick was easy enough to do, of course it practically had to be, Not much point in having the ability to ignore pain if you couldn't do it under stress.

Still, most of the damage was only skin deep. His bones ached, but those were already recovering from the massive jolts of energy he had received. His healing was becoming second nature.

<As it should be.> Elan informed him as he hit on that thought. <By the time a Neonate has completed training they no longer require a conscious thought to trigger enhanced healing.>

Xander rolled his eyes, <Pardon me if I'm mildly surprised by the fact. It might help if you'd fill me in on more details... You never tell me anything until right before I'm about to find it out anyway.>

Elan's voice was humorous when she replied, <Pardon me, Alexander, but it takes some time to 'fill' someone in on nearly twenty thousand years of recorded history... and it is not like you give me time to explain anything before you dive into the next bit of trouble.>

He chuckled painfully, conceding the point. <Alright. You've got a point there.>

Xander shucked the rest of his clothes and ran a tepid shower, wincing as he stepped under the blast of water. "Ahhhhhhh.... damn."

He quickly cleaned off, then lightly patted himself dry. He was already feeling the tension start to fall away, and was glad of it but now he had to put up with the fatigue he'd earned rush up to replace it. He pulled on his underwear, but crammed the rest his clothes into a bundle and tucke them under his arm as he went back out.

"Xander?" Paige asked from where she was still sitting on the bed, "Is that you?"

He smiled, shaking his head, "Unless someone else was using our bathroom."

Paige blushed a bit, "Sorry... It's just... hard."

"I know." Xander sighed, "We'll see about fixing it tomorrow morning, ok?"

"Why not tonight?"

He sighed again, "because I'm tired, and so are you. And this is going to take every bit of your concentration and focus to accomplish. We'll take it up when you're fresh."

She didn't look happy about it, folding her arms over her breasts and frowning.

Xander sat down beside her, "We'll get your sight back. I promise. But chances are it'll take more then one try anyway... so there's just no point to trying it tonight."

"How long do you think it'll take?" She asked softly, concern etched over her face as a single tear welled up in each eye.

"I don't know." Xander said honestly, "The techniques aren't difficult to master once you have the basics... but you don't have those yet."

"But you do?"


"How long did it take you to learn those.?"

Xander hesitated before responding, "A few months."

"Months!?" Paige rose up form the bed, her face shocked. "I can't be blind for *months*! I... I..."

Xander caught her as she tried to storm away and tripped over the corner of a chair. He painfully lifted her up and returned her to the bed. "I know... It'll be ok, I think I might be able to speed this up a bit... Look, I can't promise you when... but you *will* be able to see again."

Paige reluctantly laid down, resting her head on the pillow. As her hand dropped down to the bed it brushed against Xander's chest. She instantly frowned. "Are you naked!? Why are you naked!?"

Xander snorted, "I am not naked. I just haven't gotten full dressed because my clothes are out here, and someone has been talking to me... remember?"

"Oh." Paige blushed, "Well... get dressed. Now that I know, it's giving me shivers."

"Good shivers or bad ones?"


She heard him chuckle from somewhere off to the side, and then he spoke. "Just get tucked in. I'll crash on the floor once I round up some blankets."

Reluctantly Paige dug her way under the covers, huddling up though it wasn't cold. She closed her unseeing eyes finally, though she had to think about it because she couldn't tell the difference.

"Good night, Paige." She heard Xander say from somewhere to one side, and below her. <He must have found the blankets.>

"Good night." She whispered just loud enough to be heard.


Xander started awake when he heard the curse, looking around the darkened room as he blinked away the sleep. "Wha?"

He quickly spotted a form on the floor, huddled up against the wall. "Paige?"

She didn't answer, and he realized that she was sobbing as she sat there with her kness tucked up under her chin.

Xander got up, quickly reaching her side. "Paige? What happened?"

She looked up, her milk white eyes looking for the source of his voice. "I had to go to the bathroom."

Xander shook his head, but tried not to make any sounds she could take the wrong way. Instead he gently took her hand and helped her up. "Come on..."

He led her into the bathroom and showed her where the toilette was, then ducked outside. "Let me know when your done..."

She nodded, her face locked in the same dull expression. Xander shook his head again when he closed the door and waited outside.

When she called out a few minutes later he went back in and took her hand to guide her back out. Once he got her back into bed he whispered. "It'll work out. I promise."

She nodded softly, but her face was still the same dull mask. Xander could feel her clench at his hand, almost in rhythm with her breath.

"Hey," Xander said, trying to sound cheerful without sounding mocking. "How about if I sit here with you for a while?"

"You don't have to..."

"I want to. Just for a while."

She nodded again, finally closing her eyes. "Just for a while."

So he sat and waited for Paige to slip off to sleep. When she finally did he stayed there until he finally nodded off himself, because he didn't want to wake her up by unclasping her hand from his.

The next morning Paige woke up, wondering for a few moments why she could hear birds singing outside when it was still dark. It took a few moments for the realization to sink in, a few precious moments before she remembered the night before, before the remembered that she couldn't see.

She was blind.

The concept was utterly staggering, causing her breath to catch in her chest as her mind was assaulted by the fact that she might never see anything again. She could feel the panic rise in her chest, her heart clenching, her breath quickening, as her mind processed the information again. She started to move, then realized that there was a weight on the blankets, pinning her down.

She finally noticed that her hand was firmly gripping something warm, and she gently felt around until she found Xander's arm and followed it up to his sleeping body. He was lying beside her, still bare chested at the very least.

She let her hand rest against his sternum for a moment, feeling the slow even rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, then let it fall away.

She thought about moving, but suddenly the panic faded and she just relaxed a bit. She sat, listening to him breath, feeling the sun as it passed on her face, feeling the weight of Xander through the covers that were pressing down on her.

For a long time she lay there, just listening, feeling, breathing, and waiting. Finally she felt Xander shift beside her, then cough slightly.


She felt him move again, then heard his voice. "Huh?"

"Xander... wake up."

Silence, then more movement. "Ummm... ok... huh? Oh Jeeez... Paige, I'm sorry... I didn't mean to fall asleep..."

"It's ok, Xander..." She cut him off, "I'm sorry I woke you but... ummm..."


She grimaced, feeling her face flush again. "I need to go... again."

She felt him breath out, heard the sigh, but couldn't tell if he was annoyed or relieved or what. She sighed herself, annoyed that she couldn't see his face, couldn't *see* what he was feeling. She felt him tug lightly on her hand and let Xander pull her up.

He led her to the toilette again, and she waited until she heard the door close before she sat down. As she used the 'facilities' she again thought over the events of the previous night. She was blind, in a city far from home, and the only person she had to help her was a guy she had just met a couple weeks earlier.

Then she reflected on the fact that she *did* trust him. She trusted him to help her, to protect her, to not try to take advantage. The annoying thing was that she didn't know *why* she trusted him. Something, some voice, in the back of her mind simply accepted that Xander was one of the good guys.

Though, now that she saw... or didn't see as the case may be... what being one of the good guys meant, she wasn't so sure she wanted to join the ranks. Was helping people worth the cost if her eyesight was the price she had to pay?

She let out a long shuddering breath, cupping her face in her hands and began crying as she sat there on the toilette.

Xander waited for ten minutes, then he started to worry a bit. A couple minutes later he tapped on the door lightly, "Paige?"

When she didn't answer he grimaced and pushed the door open. "Paige? I'm coming in."

As the door opened wider he saw that she was still on the toilette and started to pull the door back until he noticed the sobs that were wracking her shoulders.

<Damn.> He cursed mentally, "Paige? Come on... talk to me."

"Get out."

He shook his head, <Well... I asked her to talk to me. That does count I suppose.>. "Sorry. Not going to happen."

"Get out!" She screamed in his direction, her hands flashing out.

Xander felt an oddly familiar sensation in his chest and managed to blurt out a little sound of shock. "Wha..."

Then he was gone.


"Xander? Where are you?" Paige asked, her face changing from fury to fear. "Xander!?"


"Please... come back?"

It was just after half past nine in the morning, and the traffic was just starting to peter off as people reached their places of employment and settled in for a long day's work. That's the reason why only twenty four people witnessed the sudden appearance of a young man in his underwear, coming out of thin air in a brilliant sparkle of light twelve feet above the street.

"ShiiiiiiiiT!" Xander screamed as he fell heavily to the pavement, hitting shoulder first and coming to rest flat on his back.

Around him he heard the squeal of tires and sudden blaring of horns as cars swerved and stopped all around him. Even so he didn't move for a long moment, hot sparkling lights obscuring his vision as he tried to clear his head.


The voice was familiar so Xander opened his eyes.

"Hey, Walker..." He smiled, sort of dreamily as he tried to figure out why his body wasn't really responding.

"Jesus. Kid, are you alright? What the hell happened?"

"You know, Ranger... it's always a bad idea to be around an emotional witch." Xander managed to get out as the Ranger examined him.

Walker frowned, noting the slurring of the kid's voice and the distant look in his eyes. He gently checked Xander's head, his eyes widening as his hands came away red with blood. "Damn. Kid, you smacked your skull pretty hard when you landed... I'll get you to the ER."

"No!" Xander said, his voice suddenly clear, "No.... Just... back to my room."

Walker frowned, shaking his head. "I can't do that."

Xander growled, forcing himself back to his feet and pushing away from the Ranger. "I'm going back to my room."

Walker's eyes widened in shock as he watched the kid, whom he was certain had a nasty concussion, manage to not only get up but also start walking back into the motel he had checked into. Walker stood uncertainly for an instant, before cursing under his breath and getting back into his truck. He moved the vehicle off the road, parked it in the motel lot, then followed Xander up the stairs to his second story room.

"Kid, you are insane."

"Tell me something I haven't already been told by everyone I've met." Xander muttered groggily as he tried to open the door to his room, then realized that he didn't have the key. He blearily patted down his underwear before he realized that he wasn't likely to find it in there.

He banged on the door, then winced in pain. "Paige! Paige! You have to let me back in!"

Paige was feeling her way around the bathroom, her face etched with worry as she felt around the floor for any clue to what happened to Xander.

"Xander?" She called out for the eighth time, "Xander... this isn't funny! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to yell... please...? come back?"

She found the doorway and pulled it open, making her way out into the room proper, still calling out. "Xander? Come on... Xander!?"

Slowly she felt along the floor, making he way across the room until she found the bed. She patter her way along the top of it, but still couldn't find Xander.

Suddenly there was a loud banging on the door, scaring her enough for her fall off the bed. She looked around, trying to get her bearings when a voice came through the door.

"Paige! Paige! You have to let me back in!"

"Xander?" Paige's face twisted in confusion as she began to feel her way along the floor in the general direction of the voice.

"You sure she's in there?"

Xander nodded slowly, wincing at the pain in his skull. "Yeah... unless she teleported herself somewhere..."


"Long story."

"I'll bet."

The door lock clicked, and the knob turned slowly, then the door slowly opened. "Xander? Is that you?"

Xander stumbled inside. "Yeah... it's me."

"Where'd you go!?"

"Paige... I think we need to talk about controlling your powers." Xander said wearily as he stumbled into the room and fell on the bed.

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"I'm not sure, Miss," Walker said as he closed the door and took Paige's hand. "But it probably has something to do with why he appeared out of thin air, out in the middle of the street."

Paige paled. "Oh my god."

"Xander, I'm so sorry...." Paige mumbled for the ninth time.

Xander winced, holding a bag of ice on his shoulder as he rested his head on another one. "It's alright, Paige... I'll live... and we found out another aspect of your power. That'll be good to know, I'm sure."

"So... let me get this straight..." Walker began, "She told you to get out... and basically... you did?"

"Waaay out." Xander muttered.

"I'll say." Walker smirked, "Something like a hundred and fifty feet or so... too bad she didn't drop you off at ground level."

Xander groaned. "Don't remind me."

"I've only got one question..."

"Only one?" Xander opened an eye and stared at Walker.

"For now." Walker grinned.

Xander rolled his single open eye, winced at the pain it caused, then sighed. "What is it?"

"You remember last night?"

"Yeah. I didn't hit my head that hard."

"You told us the reason you survived the fight, remember?"

"Sort of..."

"So, if you're highly resistant to magic... why was she able to do that to you?"

Xander sighed. "Good question. I'm not certain that there is a single good answer for it."


Xander sighed and winced again. "I mean, it's a combination of things I guess..."

"Such as?"

"First off, I'm not immune to magic." Xander said, speaking softly. "Second... well, I have some suspicions there... but nothing certain."

"Not going to tell me, huh?" Walker asked.

Xander shook his head.

"Well, tell me!"

Xander winced, "Not so loud... please?"

"Sorry." Paige flinched.

"S'ok..." Xander said wearily, "Thing is Paige... I'm not sure that your powers are 100% magic..."


"I think you've got some juice from another source... but I can't prove it... not yet." Xander said.

"What other source??" Paige asked, her milky white eyes wide.

Xander chuckled weakly, "You'd never believe me."

"Try me."

"Do you believe in Angels?"

A long silence filled the room, and for as long as it lasted Xander's head felt a lot better. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long.


"Oooowwwwww..." Xander moaned as Paige yelled in his ear.

"Ohmygod... I'm sorry... I'm so sorry, Xander..." Paige winced in sympathetic pain as she heard him moan.

"Not. So. Damned. Loud." Xander gritted out through clenched teeth as he gripped her wrist painfully.


Xander collapsed back onto the bed. "Women."

Paige cut off a strangled cry of protest, instead opting to simply growl. "You are *so* lucky you're injured."

Behind her, Ranger Walker just chuckled softly, shaking his head.

"I can't be sure..." Xander said after he had relaxed a bit more, "But you're powers have some similarities to those of Whitelighters."

"What's that?" Paige asked.

"Among other things, a Whitelighter is a Guardian Angel for natural born witches. They were human at one time, usually peaceful people who dedicated their lives to helping others... When they died they were offered a chance to continue doing that."

"What does that have to do with me?"

"A Whitelighter has the power to 'orb', or to teleport themselves and others from place to place... though," Xander grimaced, "I have to admit that usually they tend to accompany the people the teleport around."

"I said I'm sorry..."

Xander chuckled painfully, "Relax... I'm just messing with you. Anyway, that does bring up a point I'd forgotten about."

"What's that?"

"You're a natural born witch."

"Yeah? So?"

"So..." Xander let the word drag out, "You should have a Whitelighter floating around somewhere looking out for you."

Paige was silent for a moment, causing Xander to look up curiously. "Paige?"

"Where was he when I needed him then?"

Xander fell back down, sighing. "Doesn't work that way. They usually just guide and help form the sidelines... but they can heal pretty much anything."

Her hands flew to her face, covering her eyes with her splayed fingers. "My eyes?"

Xander nodded wearily, "The Physical aspect at least. Try..."

Xander stopped, frowning for a moment.

"What? Try what?"

Xander snapped out of his reverie looking over at Paige again, "Sorry... I was just remembering something someone told me a little while ago... Try calling for a man named Leo."


He smiled, "Just say his name, like you were calling him... repeat it in your mind. If he's your Whitelighter... and I think he probably is... he should respond."

Paige's face was uncertain, but she shrugged. "I'll try anything right now. Leo?"


"Try again... with more... feeling." Xander grinned slightly.

Paige sighed. "Leo! Leo!?"

Still nothing.

Xander sighed. "I guess it's not him... maybe they assigned someone..."

There was a knock at the door. Xander chuckled and raised his voice. "Come in!"

The door opened slowly, and a man with dirty blond hair slowly entered with trepidation.

Xander grinned wide. "Paige, I'd like you to say hi to Leo."

Paige looked around, seeking the source of the sound she heard. "I'd get up top shake your hand... whoever you are, but I'm having a little problem with getting around lately."

Leo stepped slowly into the room, eyeing the occupants warily. "Who are you people?"

Xander rolled his eyes, "I guess the Oracles really don't like me. Come in and shut the door, Leo."

Leo nodded, shutting the door behind him, still standing like he was expecting an attack. "You know the Oracles?"

"They've tried to kill me on occasion." Xander replied, still grinning ear to ear.


"I had... some good friends, and some help from higher up." Xander chuckled, "Leo... Your charge needs a little help."

Leo looked to where Xander nodded, and followed the connection he had with his latest charge. "Who is she?"

"You don't know?" Xander asked, surprised.

Leo shook his head, "I was called a few moments ago and told I had a new charge. No explanations."

Xander snorted, "Sounds like the Oracles to me. Leo, meet Paige... Mathews."

Leo walked over to the brunette, "I'm pleased to meet you, Paige. May I...?"

Paige heard how close he was, and nodded slowly.

Leo gently cupped her face and looked into her eyes. He inhaled sharply as he saw the milky white color. "What happened?"

"Overloaded Inner Eye." Xander said quietly. "She was caught unprepared for a power surge."

Leo winced. "Ouch. Well... let's just fix this up then, shall we?"

His hands glowed with a golden light as he passed them over Paige's eyes, slowly they turned from milky white to her normal deep chocolate brown. She blinked in wonder, staring up at Leo smiling face.

"I... I can see!... It worked."

Leo smiled, "Glad to be of service. How did this happen anyway?"

"Black Mage." Xander answered for her, "He's been using a werewolf as his personal attack dog... say... what happened to the wolf, Walker?"

Walker shrugged, "I booked him as a drunk and have him in a cell downtown. He changed back early this morning, that's why I came by..."

Xander nodded, "Good thinking. We'll have to see if we can find him someone who knows the ins and outs of werewolves."

"I have an idea on that..." Walker said slowly, "I know an old... friend, who might be able to help."

"Good." Xander said.

Leo held up a hand, "What happened to the Mage?"

"Dead." Xander replied. "He died last night."

"Oh." Leo said, his tone neutral.

"It was a fight." Xander explained, "That's what caused the surge that blinded Paige."

Leo nodded, "That must have been some fight."

Xander shrugged.

Paige was standing, looking around, and grinning. "Oh... I can't thank you enough! God it's so good to *see* again."

Leo grinned himself, enjoying the expression of joy on her face. "It really wasn't that big a deal..."

"Say's you!" Paige grabbed his face and kissed him on both cheeks. "I was afraid I'd be blind forever."

"Now, I *told* you that wouldn't happen." Xander grinned from where he was.

"But I didn't believe you!"

Xander rolled his eyes, then winced in pain. "Oww.... damn."

Paige stopped cavorting when she heard the groan and looked at Xander, "Oh... I'm sorry.... I forgot. Leo! Can you heal him?"

Leo nodded, moving over, and examined Xander. His eyes widened a short while later, "What the hell happened to you?"

Xander snorted painfully, "Battle with a Black Mage, Witch tosses me out on my ass... just normal stuff."

Leo nodded skeptically. "Right... Ask a stupid question."

Xander grinned as Leo healed his injuries, taking extra time around his skull. When it was done he grinned and sat up, stretching. "Ahh... that feels good."

"Good." Paige replied, "Maybe now you can get dressed?"

Xander glanced down at himself, and blushed slightly. "Ooops... forgot about that."

As he dove for his clothes the other chuckled lightly at his expense. Leo turned and looked at Walker. "Hi... I'm Leo...?"

Walker shook his hand, "Walker. Cordell Walker."

"Nice to meet you."


Xander pulled on a pair of pants, buttoning them up. "Walker is a Texas Ranger, Leo..."

Leo looked around, a little worried. "The Rangers know about you?"

Xander shook his head, "Just a couple who were working the werewolf case. I think we can trust Walker..."

"Ah." Leo muttered, still uncertain. "And you are?"

Xander stopped halfway through slipping a shirt on. "Jeeez... Sorry, Man. Xander Harris... I'm... well, You'll find out eventually."

Leo looked at him, no better off. "Huh?"

Xander shook his head, pulling the old Celtic cross from where he had tucked it in his clothes the night before and slipped it over his head. "For now... I'm a demon hunter. Later on? Who knows."

"Right." Leo said absently, his attention on the cross. "Uh... About that cross..."

"Huh?" Xander looked down, then glanced back up. "Oh, you feel that do you?"

"Do you?" Leo asked pointedly.

"Nah." Xander replied, "Not unless I'm around vampires or demons..."

"I see."

Walker and Paige looked between them, confused. "Uh... What are you two talking about?"

Leo looked at Xander incredulously, "You didn't tell them!?"

Xander shrugged, "Not something that comes up in everyday conversation."

Leo rolled his eyes, "You're wearing a cross that was blessed by one of the Upper Hierarchy, and you treat it like it's common place. Who are you!?"

Xander shrugged, "Ask Metatron the next time you see him. If you can get a straight answer out of the guy."

Leo goggled, "That's who blessed it!?"

Xander shrugged again.

Paige looked between them oddly, "Who?"


Xander shrugged, "Just an old windbag who pops by occasionally to piss me off."

Leo stared in shock, then glanced up toward the ceiling.

Xander waved a hand at the Whitelighter, "Oh please. He's not the one who controls the lightning bolts, and I didn't say anything he didn't admit to himself."

"What!?" Leo manage to squawk out.

Xander rolled his eyes as he slipped on his assault harness and checked the two FiveSeven pistols tucked into the nylon holsters. "He told me himself... He just pops by cause he gets a kick out of talking to someone who annoys the hell out of the Oracles."

Leo shook his head, looking around at the other occupants of the room. "Who *are* you people!?"

Walker held up his hands, "Whoa. I'm not with them."

Paige looked around, "Don't look at me. I just met this guy a few weeks ago... I don't know anyone by the name of 'Metatron'... I kinda think I'd remember a freaky name like that."

Again Leo fidgeted, looking around to make sure that there wasn't an angry *someone* coming to get him. "Right..."

"Hey, Leo..." Xander asked as he checked his things.


"How are the Charmed Ones?"

For a second Xander thought he'd gone too far and that it might, in fact be possible to give an Immortal Angelic being a heart attack. Leo stepped back, his face tensing, and the tendons on his neck tightening. His eyes bugged and he sputtered. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You really want me to say their names?" Xander asked, a mocking smile on his face. When Leo didn't answer Xander shrugged, "Ok... How are P..."

"Ok!" Leo held his hands up, "They're fine. Alright? Fine."

Xander grinned, "Good. Won't be too long now..."

"What won't?"

"Won't be too long before they wake up." Xander said, still grinning. "Just a couple more years. I look forward to meeting them again... "

Leo collapsed into a chair, "How do you know this stuff?"

Xander shrugged, "Too long a story to get into... and you'd never believe me anyway."

"Oh yeah? Try me."

Xander shook his head, "Sorry, Leo. A guy needs to keep some secrets to maintain his aura, you know."

Leo shook his head, "I don't believe this."

Xander grabbed up his coat, still grinning. "Tell me about it. Walker, you want to go check on the Wolf?"

Walker looked around, his eyesbrows raised. "Sure. Let's do that."

Xander glanced at Paige, "You coming?"

Paige looked at Leo for a moment, "Ummm..."

Leo shook his head, getting up. "Go on. I have to check up on some others anyway... Just call me if you need me, ok?"

"Uh... sure." Paige said, a little skeptical.

Leo looked around, "Not much point in leaving by the door, huh?"

Xander grinned at him, and shook his head. "Nope."

Leo sighed, "I should've known. Bye Paige."


With that Leo vanished into a dispersing stream of white light.

"Wow." Paige said, grinning. "Is that what I look like...?"

Xander nodded. "Yep. Pretty cool, huh?"

"Way cool."

Walker stared at the place where Leo had vanished. "What the hell was that?"

"A Whitelighter." Xander said helpfully, "Like I said, think of them as Guardian Angels..."

Walker nodded slowly, "If you say so, kid."

"I do."

Walker shook his head, "Let's go see the wolf."

Xander and Paige walked into the police lockup right behind Walker, trying not too look too badly out of place. Unfortunately, since Paige hadn't redone the Glamour that made them look more like professional cops, that wasn't as easy as it might have been.

Still, Walker's presence cut them all the slack they needed and they got in to speak to the werewolf without any problem.

He was sitting in a prison issue jumpsuit, watching them as they came in. He didn't say anything, just watched every step they took his attention divided between Xander and Paige rather then Walker.

"Who are you?"

Walker spoke first, "Just came to bail you out."

"Suppose I'd rather stay here?"

"Don't worry." Walker replied, "We'll have you back before sundown... or should I say, moon rise?"

The man shifted uneasily, "I'm getting the feeling that I don't have much choice... huh?"

Xander shook his head, "One other choice. But it has to do with a silver bullet in a painful place."

The man swallowed. "Ok... bail me out."

"Where are we going?" The man asked, somewhat nervously from the back of Walker's king cab.

Xander looked over at him, "To see a friend of Walker's. Someone who might be able to help you out."

The man swallowed. "Help me what? Dig my own grave?"

"Relax. I've got nothing against werewolves." Xander said, "Not as long as you take the proper precautions."

"Such as?"

"Locking yourself up three nights a month is a good start." Xander said dryly. "What's your name?"

"What's yours?"

"Xander Harris."

The man paused for a little while before grudgingly replying. "John Christian."

"Nice to meet, John." Xander extended a hand.

"Thanks." John said, hesitantly accepting the hand.

"So, John... How long you been part of the baying at the moon club?"

Christian glared mildly at Xander, but didn't reply right away. Finally he spoke, his voice a little dark. "Three months."

Xander nodded, "Figured as much. How'd it happen?"

"Don't know."

Xander raised his eyebrows, "Huh?"

"I don't know." Christian muttered, "I started losing time three months ago... Didn't know what the hell was going on until that slimey son of a bitch..."

The truck slowed, and Walker half turned to look at them. "We're here."

The three of them, Paige, Xander, and John, followed Walker as he led them up to an old house. The place was in fairly decent shape, but had an odd atmosphere that hung around it, even though there was nothing outwardly odd about it.

Walker went inside, not bothering to knock, and they followed.

"Hell Washo." An old Indian said calmly as the group arrived in his home, "Or is it Walker this time?"

Walker shook his head slightly, a tinge of regret on his features. "I'll always be Washo here, Grey Eagle."

The old man didn't respond, he just turned his attention to the people standing behind Walker. "And yet you bring outsiders here... Powerful ones at that."

"We need your guidance, old friend."

"We?" Grey Eagle looked up, "I think that you use that word too easily, Washo. Let your friends introduce themselves."

Walker nodded and stepped aside.

Grey Eagle looked at the three others, and just waited patiently.

Xander finally stepped forward, "Hello. I'm Xander Harris."

"No. You aren't."

Xander raised his eyebrows, "Oh?"

"But that will do as well as anything else." Grey Eagle concluded. "And you, young lady?"

"Me?" Paige pointed at herself, "Oh... I'm Paige Mathews...."

Grey Eagle shook his head. "And once again, a falsehood is spoken. I don't suppose you have a truer word to speak?"

John shifted as he realized that he was being spoken too. "Huh? I'm John Christian..."

There was a long silence, then the old man smiled and looked satisfied. "You at least know who you are..."

"Umm... thanks?"

Walker cleared his throat, "He's the reason we came."

"Oh?" Grey Eagle looked closer, "And what reason would that be exactly?"

Everyone looked at John, waiting for him so speak. He finally sighed. "I'm a Werewolf."

"Well, that was interesting." Xander said dryly from the front seat of Walker's truck.

"Who was that guy!?" Paige asked, poking her head out between the front seats.

"That was Grey Eagle... one of the wisest men I've known."

"How can we trust him with a Werewolf??" Paige asked.

"Trust me then." Walker said, "They'll be fine."

Xander nodded, "Yeah. The old man has some power backing him..."

"Great." Paige said, unconvinced.

They were silent for a while, before Xander spoke again. "What I want to know is what the hell did he mean when he said I wasn't Xander Harris?"

Walker shrugged, "Why don't you tell me?"

"How should I know?" Xander muttered, "Hell... I even screwed up and gave him my real name!"

Walker shook his head, "Impersonating a federal agent, false identification, multiple weapons violations... why am I not running you in again?"

"Cause I'm one of the good guys?"

Walker rolled his eyes, "Yeah right."

Xander chuckled, "Oh relax, Walker... It's not like I do anything that's technically illegal. Technically."


"Well... Vampires are technically dead... so shooting them doesn't count as murder. Demons don't exist... so the worst I'm guilty of there is reckless discharge of a firearm..."

"And people like Mitchell?"

Xander turned a little grim. "Well... people like Mitchell chose up sides in a war that they don't even understand. It sucks, but I don't know any other way."

Walker didn't reply, he just remained silent for the rest of the drive back to Dallas.

"Are you sure this is going to work?"

Xander grinned, "Show him, Paige."

Paige frowned, not happy with using magic again, but complied. She quickly cast the spell on Xander. A few seconds later, in his place, was Trevor Mitchell.

"Whoa." Trivette muttered, blinking.

"You guys ready?" Trevor Mitchell asked in Xander's voice.

Walker shook his head, "Yeah. Let's do this."

At three o'clock that afternoon a large moving van pulled up to Trevor Mitchell's house and four people got out and met Mr Mitchell at his door. They were shown into his home and were later seen carrying a large number of boxes out to the van.

Anyone who asked, of which there were not many, were informed by Mr Mitchell himself that while it was none of their business he was moving some of his belongings to storage.

Xander smiled as he slid a painting off the wall to reveal a sizable wall safe. He checked it out briefly, but knew that it would be beyond his meager skills to crack it. He stepped back, grinning.

<What do you think? Three percent enough?>

<Alexander... what are you talking abo...!?> Elanthielle asked as he summoned her and activated the weapon. <Alexander!!!!!>

Xander swung the end of the staff into the wall safe, cutting a shimmering arc of silver light as the weapon and Xander leaked energy. Their was a loud tearing sound as the metal of the staff impacted with the latch and dial of the safe.

Scrap metal hit the floor and Xander stepped closer, smiling.

<Alexander!? Do I LOOK like a can opener!?>

Xander ignored the ranting and pulled the badly damaged door clear of the safe. His eyes lit up as he laid them on the contents. While the Mage had elected to keep his mystical belongings behind magical protection in the basement, he kept his money in a more commonplace area.

Xander quickly counted out a couple hundred thousand dollars, tossing them on the table, and then frowned as he pulled out a set of papers. He was reading them when he heard the sound of people coming back up the stairs.

Xander quickly slipped the papers under his coat, and turned to see Walker, Trivette, CD, and Paige coming up the stairs with another load from the basement.

"What was that noise?"

Xander shrugged and pointed to the cash, "I was opening his wall safe."

Trivette looked at the table and his eyes widened. "Holy.... How much is that?"

"Couple hundred grand." Xander said, "Just a slush fund for him I would guess."

"What are planning on doing with it?" Walker asked.

Xander gauged his response by the tone in the Ranger's voice. He knew that offering him the money would be an insult, and taking it for himself would also be out of the question. <Amanda would hate me for this.> "You know any charities that could redeem the cash?"

"That it?"

Xander nodded, snapping the padlock shut on the storage unit. "Yeah. The stuff in here is fairly valuable, but not dangerous. I'll pick it up later if I need it, or if you guys have use for it you can find it here."

Walker shrugged, "I can't see that happening."

"You never know, Ranger."

"What about the rest?"

"I'm not leaving it here." Xander said evenly. "I'll take it with me to Boston and arrange secure transport to a safe storage."

"How dangerous is it?"

"Depends..." Xander shrugged, "Some of the stuff is fairly tame, but Paige might be able to make use of it... some of it ranks up around the same moral level as sacrificing virgins to a volcano."

"Jeez." Trivette muttered, "You're kidding me."

"'Fraid not."

"I'm just as happy to get it out of here then, but I'm curious..." Walker asked, "Why not destroy it?"

"Because a lot of it is pretty useful for research. You have people who study murderers so you can learn more about how to stop them right?"

"Yeah..." Walker suddenly understanding where Xander was going.

"Same thing." Xander finished, "Don't worry, we'll keep it out of the wrong hands."

"If you say so." Walker said, calmly. "So now what are you doing?"

"Boston." Xander said easily, walking along side the Rangers as they headed back to their vehicles.

Walker nodded, "Well, I can't say I'm sorry to see you go... and no offence, but I hope you never need to come back."

Xander laughed easily, "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that, Walker... You already have a local badass who handles the supernatural around here. And he makes me look like a good ol southern gentleman."

Trivette groaned. "You're kidding."

"Nope." Xander grinned, "If you have any troubles that look like they might be supernatural you might look him up... But I have to warn you, he charges for his time."

Walker maintained a calm about him that was admirable. "What's his name?"

"Jack Crow... he runs a little company called Vampire$ Incorporated."

"You have got to be kidding." Walker muttered, "Those lunatics are for real!?"

Xander laughed, "You've heard of them?"

"Every Ranger has..." Trivette muttered, "Those nutcases blew up a building in Houston last year... Blew it right UP! I'm not talking about a controlled blast either. They locals were picking up debris from an eight block radius for weeks..."

Xander didn't try to hide his amusement. "Sounds like Jack. Oh, Walker, here..."

Walker accepted a card from Xander and looked at it oddly, "What's this?"

"A Gunsmith in L.A.," Xander explained, "He deals with the police and military from time to time, but also has some contacts in my side of things. He's the best in the business, I can promise you that... and you can get the silver bullets form him. Just in case."

Trivette laughed in spite of himself, rolling his eyes. "Texas Ranger's packing silver bullets. That's got a sense of irony to it you know?"

"I'd call it poetic myself, Jimmy..." CD said, smiling.

"Yeah, you would at that, CD." Walker said, smiling slightly.

"Anyway..." Xander said, "I have a friend to meet in Boston... if she bothered to wait for me."

"This girl knows you're coming?"

"No." Xander laughed, "If she did I probably would be too scared to go."

Walker shook his head, "Good bye, kid."

Xander slid behind the wheel of the Charger and waved to the Rangers, then glanced at Paige. "Ready?"

"More then ready." Paige said dryly.

"Then we're moving on..." Xander said, pulling out of the lot.

Walker watched them go, shaking his head. "Strange."

"What? That demons and vampires exist, or that we let that kid go with enough weapons in his car to start a small war?"

"No..." Walker said, "I can't figure out why he had us give that money to charity... How does he pay for all that stuff?"

"So, where too? Boston?"

"Not just yet." Xander grinned over at Paige, "We've got one last thing to do."

"Mr Mitchell!" The Bank Manager jumped to his feet as one of his best clients walked in. "How may I help you today?"

Mr Mitchell coughed, "I'd like to close out one of my accounts, and arrange for some transfers if you don't mind?"

"Whatever you like, Mr Mitchell... you have your account numbers and PIN of course?"

"Of course." Trevor Mitchell smiled.

The End


Valid XHTML 1.1! Valid CSS!