Leaves of Grass
Banquo


This is my first attempt at fanfiction, please be gentle. I have more
of this story ready and waiting, depending on the reviews I'll post
more or never try to write again =] Thanks to Shawn for his input and
encouragement.

Standard disclaimers apply. All things Buffy related, concepts,
characters and monsters are belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. Methos,
Cassandra and the concept of Immortality all belong to Panzer-Davis as
well as all things Highlander related. The only thing that is mine is
the story and the characters I have created in between. For those who
wish to archive feel free to but please send me an email so I know
where my story is going =] 

 

 

The two old, simple problems ever intertwined,

Close home, elusive, present, baffled, grappled.

By each successive age insoluble, passíd on,

To our to-dayóand we pass on the same.

1888-9 W.W

The clouds are overcast, threatening to spill their contents onto the
world. The wind is cold, biting at cheeks and noses, and the trees are
bare. It is a day that not a living thing would be out if they had a
choice in the matter. But the group standing in one of Sunnydaleís many
cemeteries had no choice but to be there. Fall, would turn into winter,
and winter would turn into spring and with it new life. However that
will not be the case here. Fall will be a constant reminder that one of
them is gone. Winter will be devoid of jokes and laughter, and spring
will only amplify their loss amidst a world teeming with life. The
group, consisting of a Watcher, a Slayer, a Witch, and a Werewolf
surrounding a single grave.

Alexander L. Harris

Friend, Protector,

Hero




There are no tears shed at this gathering. Those had been cried out
long ago. All that was left was an empty longing. A need to ignore the
great void so prevalent in their lives. 

"No date?" Willow asks

"No, I thought it would be most appropriate," Giles replied, "I didnít
think he would want anyone to feel sorry him."

A round of affirmatives was all that could be heard.

"I canít believe heís goneÖI mean for the longest time we beenÖ" Willow
couldnít bring herself to finish her sentence. Only Ozís reassuring
hand on her.

"Heís gone, there is nothing we could have done to save him." Oz said
sorrowfully, uncharacteristically showing emotion. 

Buffy, was quietly reading the inscription on the tombstone. Friend,
Protector, Hero. Friend. Protector. Hero. Three words that had been
placed on her mantle, three words that now describe her lost friend.
She was the hero, SHE was the protector, and what good did that do for
her friend Xander? She knew she couldnít be everywhere all the time,
but she at least thought she would be killed first before any one of
them.

"Itís not fair." Buffy said quietly.

"I know Buffy, he was so youngÖ" Giles began.

"That not what I meant," she interrupted, "He had survived so much here
in Sunnydale. The Master, demons, vampires, the ascension, all of it!"
Her voice steadily rising, "He had left Sunnydale for a vacation! To
get away from all of this, for at least a little while! For what? To
die in a car crash? ITS NOT FAIR!" She screams. It isnít directed at
anyone, nevertheless all of them flinch. "Itís just not fair." She says
quietly again.

Willow walks over to her and hugs Buffy. Both are trembling because of
the sorrow, the loss, and the pain of loosing a good friend. The two
men stay back, allowing the women to have their moment. The wind picks
up a little, causing Giles to pull his coat a little closer to himself.
The sound of the wind blowing through the trees was a low wailing.
Appropriate for the setting Giles thinks to himself, it was as if
Sunnydale itself had recognized the great loss of Xander Harris.

Giles, looking around the cemetery sees all the tombstones. Some of the
dates show old and young, but in this particular section the young far
outnumber the old. Sighing, he continues his survey of the cemetery,
when something catches his eye. Confused, he takes his glasses off to
see if anything is wrong with them. Finding no irregularities, he
quickly puts them back. Nothing. Off in the distance he had thought he
had seen a figure of a young man. Dark hair, slight slouchÖmaybe it was
just his imagination. His mindís way of saying that Xander wouldnít
want them to mourn his death, but celebrate his life. His hopeful
thought that Xander was in fact alive, and that the empty grave that
was placed here to commemorate their friend was not necessary. He was
killed in a violent car crash, apparently he fell asleep at the wheel.
They had found the car on the bottom of a river. They werenít able to
find the body. 

The police said that he had probably struggled to get the car door
open, but the pressure difference made that all but impossible. The
struggling causing his air supply to dwindle faster and faster, by the
time the water had filled the car enough water to open the door, he was
probably already dizzy due to the lack of oxygen. Giles shudders every
time he thinks of how Xander might have died, no chance to fight, just
a futile struggle to the surface that would never come. Every time he
thought of that, he would think exactly as his young charge had said,
it just wasnít fair.

"Giles you ok?" Oz asked him.

Turning back to the young man he says, "Yes, Iím fine. I just thought I
sawÖ" He didnít finish his sentence looking back to the spot he thought
he had seen the figure.

"I know what you mean, Willow has been seeing him everywhere. I just
try to console her when she realizes it couldnít possibly be him."

"Iíve done it as well. I was about to call Xanderís house to ask him
help do some research. Right before I dialed the number, I rememberedÖ"
The sentence just trailed off. "Then the next thing I knew the phone
was beeping at me."

Looking up he saw that the two women had heard his story. Looking at
him with understanding they walked up to the two men.

"Its time to go home." Buffy said, "Xander wouldnít want us moping
around here. Itíll take awhile, but weíll move on." Looking back at the
gravesite he added, "But we will never forget."

With that the group slowly plied into Ozís van and pulled away from the
cemetery. Two figures stood watching the van pull away. Both tall, and
lanky with dark hair. But that is where the similarities end. The
taller of the two has short hair. Jeans and a sweater covered his
frame, and concealing his frame even more was a black duster.

The other had longer hair, a slight slouch and was dressed much like
his companion. Turing to him he asked, "They can never know can they?"

"Nope."

"Will I be able to see them ever again?"

"No, you are dead to them. That is what that gravestone means. I know
what this place is, I can feel it, so can you now I suspect." The
taller of the two said.

"Yes, its like when you come near, but less intense, like a dull hum."

"You wonít be able to come back."

"Why not? Lots of weird things happen here."

"And what usually happens here if someone comes back from the dead?"

He had made his point, "Letís go, we have a long trip ahead of us."

"Adam?"

Adam Pierson turns around and says, "Yes?"

"Why us?"

Adam looked slowly around him. Above him the gray clouds moved slowly,
menacingly threatening to spill over. The trees swayed with the wind,
the branches clacking together, the cold giving him the shivers. Then
looking straight at him, "Because we are blessed, because we are
cursed. Letís go Alexander, you have much to learn."


Chapter 1

Xander is sitting at a table books surround him. Some of the books are
very old, the pages yellowed, and the spines showing the well worn
cracks of usage. Some of them however were newer. Books by Thomas
Harris, sit next to Socrates, John Mills next to Stephen King. When
Adam said he had much to learn he had no idea that he literally meant
it, it was almost like doing research for Giles.

"Except this time the world isnít in dire need of saving." Xander says
to himself with a wistful smile. He actually didnít mind all the stuff
Adam was giving to him. Xander didnít make it to college, his grades
werenít up to par, but mostly his resolve wasnít up to par. He had all
but convinced himself that his life was already dangerously short
living on top of the hellmouth. He had never even thought of making it
past graduation. College wasnít even an afterthought for him, it was a
waste of time, time which he had so little of already. 

But all of that changed after the night of the accident. Xander
shudders at the thought of that night.

Ö

It was late. Really late. He cursed himself for being on the road at
this hour. But he had no choice, he needed some extra cash to get some
food and gas for the rest of the week so he went around the small town
to find some quick odd jobs for money. It wasnít hard to find work, the
only down side was the fact that it was really cold, and most of his
jobs were outdoors. 

His last job was cleaning up at a restaurant. They were a really nice
elderly couple who had owned the place for over thirty years. The
problem was they closed at ten thirty. It had taken him about an hour
to clean the tables and mop the floors. Another hour to finish the
dishes, the couple had paid him in advance and had left after eleven
oíclock. On his way out he made sure that the door were locked, and
left the keys underneath the register as instructed. Looking back he
had to smile, proud of the job he had done. He could have left early,
but he wasnít about to do that to the nice couple.

He had made about two hundred dollars today, not bad he thought. The
people here in Washington were much nicer to him than some of the other
places he had tried to find work. At least here, they didnít call him
"boy" or "hey you" or "stupid." He thought that most of what they had
called him was true to some degree. He is young, and would probably die
young. Not cool like James Dean, but nevertheless young. He didnít get
into college, hell he had barely been able to graduate.

He had gotten his gas, some chips and a soda to wash it down. Right now
though, he silently cursed himself for not getting some coffee instead
of soda. His sugar high was starting to come down, and he could barely
keep his eyes open. At least the light from the moon was out; its
natural light amplified by the nearby river. A river he was told that
emptied out in one of the larger lakes of the area. During these long
trips he had begun to reflect on his life and all that it really meant.

Xander looks back on his life. Things had been so much easier before he
had met Buffy. It was Jesse, Willow, and himself. No vampires, no
demons, nothing. In this case ignorance really was bliss. Then
everything he knew, or had known, came crashing down all around him.
Looking back at all the trouble, all the heartache, and all of horrible
things he was forced to live through, he wouldnít change anything.
Throughout the entire ordeal, he had gained something special. Buffy.
By meeting her he was able to look at himself in a new light. He knew
something about the town that very few would ever find out or even
know. That made him special. That gave him the ability to be the hero
that he had always wanted to be, the hero that he always was in his
fantasies. 

The only problem was that in his fantasies, he would save all the good
guys and kill all of the bad guys. Real life didnít always match up. He
wasnít the hero, Buffy was, but he didnít let that stop him. He wasnít
a magic wielder that was Willow. He wasnít the mysterious savior in the
night that was Angel. He wasnít even the guy with all the answers Giles
was the one who provided the answers. So what purpose did he serve?
Research boy? Delivery boy? He was the one who would lend moral support
for those in the group. He didnít have any special powers, he wasnít a
capable fighter, and he was the one that everyone worried about when
the time came for some action. He thought that would change after
graduation.

His parents had told them that they had a secret to tell him after he
graduated from high school. Xander remembered that promise and after
the ascension he had pressed his parents to tell him the secret. Maybe
this was it, he would finally know what he would be, something more
than just the Zeppo. Was he heir to some monster fortune? Or maybe he
was descended from a great line of noblemen and knights! Finally
something that would bring him some kind of justification to his life!

"Xander sit down," His father had said.

Sitting he braced himself for the secret that they would tell him. 

"Xander, your mother and I had waited to tell you this until you
graduated because we thought if we told you earlier you wouldnít be
able to handle it very well."

Xander was very curious about this meeting. His father usually said
less than a sentence to him a day, but now he was trying to have a
whole conversation with him.

"Ösince you have now graduated and that you are your own man now." Now
Xander was really concerned, his father was rambling. He never rambled,
he was always clear and concise with his words.

"Dad, what are you trying to say?" His father looked at his mother and
took a deep breath.

"Xander, youíre adopted."

The hellmouth itself could have opened up beneath him and eaten him
whole at that moment, and he would be able to move out of its way. As
the words sank in to him, his shoulders sag considerably more, and his
head drops ever so slightly. Adopted. It made all the sense in the
world. He didnít really look like his parents, aside form the hair, he
was taller, and his facial features were different. He never really
questioned it before, but then again he barely saw much of his parents
before. 

Adopted. Now he truly is a nobody. His past once defined and clear, is
now just as uncertain and blurry as his future. 

He had to get out. Not just out of the house, but out of Sunnydale.
Running his hand through his hair and staring at the floor, he takes a
deep breath. He looks at his parents and just stands up. They can see
the questions on his face, the hurt, and the tears that would not come.

Xander looks at his parents; "Do you know my birth parents?" 

Xanderís gut wrenches when he see them shaking their heads no, "The
orphanage didnít have any records of your parents. We adopted you and
moved here to Sunnydale, no one knew we had adopted you. Jesseís
parents didnít know, Willowís parents donít know. No one outside this
family knows you are adopted." His mother says, trying to sooth her
son.

He stared at them a while longer and just walked to his room, not
seeing the tears on his motherís face. He spent a long time in his
room, lying down on his bed staring at his ceiling. Well it really
couldnít be his could it? He didnít even know who he really was. Who is
Xander Harris? Is Xander my real name? Scenario after scenario played
in his mind, discovering his true roots, his true past. He would never
know unless he tried to find out for himself. So he got up, wiped the
stray tears from his face and began to pack a bag. 

When he finished he stepped out of his room into the living room with
his bag, and saw that his parents were still there. His father looked
at his bag and nodded. Getting up his father walked into the kitchen
for a second and came back out with something in his hand. He tossed
that something to Xander. "Those are the keys to your Uncleís old car.
Iíve fixed it up so it should drive pretty well now."

Nodding he walk to his mother and hugged her. "Iíll come back, I just
need some timeÖ"

"I understand," She said between the sobs.

Shaking his fatherís hand Xander said his thanks

"Itís ok, take your time. If you need anything, just call."

With that he just left and drove off. He stopped by Willowís and Gileís
to say goodbye to Willow, Buffy and Giles, but he told them it was a
road trip. It wasnít a lie, it was a road trip, but on this particular
road trip he hoped to find himself.

He never did call his parents for help. Days stretched into weeks,
weeks into months, but he still couldnít find what he was searching
for. As his funds started to wane he was forced to find local odd jobs
to pay his way. It had been that way for the last couple of weeks.
Which brought him to where he is now, driving late at night on a road,
alone. He was tired of being a nobody. He was tired of not knowing what
his purpose in life, so tired. 

These are the thoughts that flit about his mind as his eyelids droop
closed one last time.

Xanderís car starts to drift closer and closer to the restraining wall,
flimsy aluminum held up by rotted wooden blocks. When his car hits the
wall, there is little resistance as he drives off the road and into the
river below. As the car impacts on the water Xanderís head hits his
steering wheel, knocking him out. He wasnít able to see his windshield
dip below the water line.

The first thing that Xander knew was that it was cold. His legs were
numb and the feeling was beginning to climb. Looking around he saw that
something was not right. There was no road ahead of him, only a murky
cloud. He could feel something warm just above his eye, the eye that
wouldnít open for some reason. He reaches up and feels something slick,
holding his hand up to his other eye he sees that it is blood, his
blood. The blood had covered his eye and congealed, sealing it shut.

Shaking the cobwebs from his head he begins to realize that the car
wasnít on the road. His car is starting to flood, the water was already
up to his thighs. Looking back through the rear windshield he saw the
sky. The front of his car was sinking into the river that was next to
the road. WAS next to, he was now actually in the river. He unlatches
his seat belt and reaches over to try to open the door. It wouldnít
budge, he could hear the lock tumbler turn as he pulls the lever but he
couldnít open the door. He tries to shove his way out, but still the
door wonít budge. After a few more tries he sees the stars begin to
disappear from the rear windshield. He tries even more frantically to
open the door, but it still wonít budge. His head begins to pound and
the car seems to spin ever so slightly. The air beings to burn his
lungs as continues to weakly open the door.

The water is now to his neck he can no longer feel his hands but he
continues to try to pry the door open. He was about to give up but the
door finally opens. Taking one last breath Xander opens the door as far
as it would go and begins the slow ascent to the surface. The air in
his lungs burns as he looks at the moon shining on the surface. His
numb appendages flail in a vain attempt to reach the surface. Each
movement increases the heat in his lungs. He thinks of his friends, the
only real family he has known. He thinks of Willow his best friend,
Buffy the one person who brought out the best in all those around her,
Giles who was more of a father than his own, Oz a man of few words but
a stabilizing rock for all. He thought of all his friends and threw out
a silent plea of forgiveness. Iím sorry! He had failed them once again,
he had fought with all of his might, but once again it wasnít enough.
With that final thought he released his final breath with a muffled
scream of frustration and sadness. The water that replaced the air in
his lungs froze him to the core. His final thought before the blackness
overtakes him is Iím so sorry.

His body washed up on the shore of a small island. He was still
floating face down in the water when the two sole inhabitants found
him. His presence alerted them to his location. A man and a woman
looked at each other and then at the body. The man nodded and they went
to the water and lifted the body out. They carried the body to the
small cabin located up the trail.

Once inside they pulled off the young manís clothing and replaced them
with dry, albeit oversized clothing, and placed him on a cot in the
corner of the room.

"What do you propose we do?"

"We wait for him to wake up of course."

"What about our plans? I had asked MacLeod to use his cabin because it
was on holy ground, and it was very isolated. We have made some serious
headway here this year, I donít know about you but I have been able to
heal some very old wounds"

"I have as well, but you know as well as I that he will need our help
Methos."

"I know that, Iím just afraid that I will loose all that I have found
this year if we stop." He reaches over and grasps her hand. She gently
squeezes back.

"Donít worry, you wonít. I promise." They gaze at each other for a long
time until they hear a gasp from the corner. They find the young man
jolt upright in the cot. His eyes are wide and wild. He looks from side
to side and focuses on the pair sitting across the room. 

The man spoke first, "Hello there young man, Iím Adam, and this is my,"
he pauses and looks at the woman sitting next to him, she nods and he
continues, "my wife Elizabeth. You are probably wondering what you are
doing here, in a strange room with strange people. Most importantly you
are probably saying to yourself why am I still alive?"

With those two statements Xander Harrisís life would begin anew.


Chapter 2

Beginning my studies the first step pleasíd me so much,

The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion,

The leas insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love,

The first step I say awed me and pleasíd me so much,

I have hardly gone and hardly wishíd to go any farther,

But stop and loiter all the time to sing it in ecstatic songs.

W.W 1871

 

 

Coming out of his reverie Xander puts the book he is holding down. It
felt as if it was so long ago, but it wasnít so long in the whole
scheme of things. Looking at his watch he sees that it is almost time
to meet Adam and Cassandra for his next session.

Driving to Adam and Cassandraís home he thought of his past and the
events that led him to where he is now. The events that shaped the man
he is today. He remembered the weeks that had followed his first
training session with the ancient pair.

Ö

Breathing hard, Xander could barely catch his breath. He wasnít able to
keep up with them. They were still on the gym floor going through the
movements. What did they call them, Xander asked himself, katas? They
looked graceful, balanced, and confident in what they were doing. In a
way it reminded him of the times he had seen Buffy and Faith train. He
was pretty sure that these two could give them a run for their money. 

The problem was, he wasnít Adam or Elizabeth, or Buffy or Faith. He was
Xander, the zeppo, research boy, the one in constant need of saving.
How could he possibly be more than that? How could he learn to use a
sword if he could barely walk down the street without bumping into
things? It would be impossible for him to survive. 

"Xander!" Adam calls across the gym. "Youíve had enough rest, lets
continue with your training."

Begrudgingly he got to his feet and made his way over to the couple.
Adam tosses a practice sword at Xander, which he promptly drops. At
least I canít kill myself with this he ruefully thought. Picking up the
sword he walks over to the training mats waiting for his next
instructions. 

"Ok Xander, lets start from the top. Ready position." Xander mirrors
Adamís postures. "Good, good, now high guard, good low guard, now
parry, parry, lunge, parry. Ok again. Ready position." Xander followed
through with every move, copying them as closely as possible. "Good
Xander, now face me."

Xander is confused, "Why? Arenít you going to show me the next
movements?"

"No, there are one hundred and eight of them in this particular
exercise. I want to focus on the first few that you learned this week.
Now face me. Ready position. Try to anticipate my moves. Go."

Xander comes to position, but this time his body language is completely
different. His confidence is visibly missing and his posture is
unsteady. Xander had always feared failing. He was always afraid of
being a failure. He would always, always no matter what he did, or
tried to do, screw up somewhere. He had just decided to accept that was
the way things are, and he couldnít do anything about it. When the
pressure is on, Xander would screw up. He was a screw up in school, in
life, and now he was a screw up with a sword. He is barely seeing the
sword movements in his mind. Gone is the structure that was there only
moments ago and all that is left is Xander waving the sword back and
forth in front of himself to fend of his teacherís attack.

The attack suddenly stops and Adam asks, "Xander what happened? You
were doing fine a minute ago."

Xander, his head hanging low mumbles something.

"What was that?"

The wooden practice sword clatters on the floor. "I canít do it."

"Yes you can you were doing fine when I was walking you through the
movements."

"Donít you get it? Iím a screw up! I couldnít even save my own life!
How can you expect me to defend it with that!" He angrily points to the
wooden sword on the floor.

Adam looks at Cassandra and sighs. Cassandra nods and walks over to
Xander.

" Xander, Adam is impressed by the progress you are making. Your form
is a little crude, but with practice he could be quite formidable with
a blade. He told me himself." Xander looks at Adam who nods the
affirmative. "I have agreed that the majority of the swordplay and
strength training would come from Adam. You two are about the same
height and have the same build. The endurance training and your sense
of spirituality would come from me. Since I have had training in
various forms of yoga, meditation, as well as aerobics. But we have
both agreed to train you mentally." After a slight pause she continues,
"However we have found early on that you have a very self-depreciating
and self-destructive demeanor, something that cannot be present in a
new immortal, at least one that wants to live. Do you understand what
Iím getting at?"

"But this is who I am, or at least who I was." He says quietly.
"Everything in my life has made me who I am, I canít go back and change
it now can I? Iíll be like this forever."

"A friend of mine once said ĎWhere does the difference between past and
present come from? The laws of science do not distinguish between the
past and the future. Yet there is a big difference in ordinary life.
You may see a cup of tea fall off a table and break into pieces on the
floor. But you will never see the cup gather together and jump back
onto the table."

A look of confusion appears on Xanderís face. "Iím not sure that I
follow."

Adam replies, "Xander the past is different from the present only
because of the amount of chaos that emerges from the structure that was
the past. The cup of tea may break and shatter into a million little
pieces, but that doesnít mean you have to as well."

Cassandra picks up on this line of thought, "You have time on your side
now Xander. It is up to you to make the most of it now. Are you willing
to pick up the pieces of you life and make something out of it? You can
be anything you want to be. The chaos of the present can easily become
the structure that your new life is built upon. You just have to be
able to overcome your own limitations, it takes time, but then again
you have a lot of it now donít you?"

Xander just stands there and nods. Adam seeing that the young man needs
a little time says, "Weíll take another break, just say when you are
ready." Cassandra and Adam begin to walk towards the water cooler for
some water, when a sound stops them. The sound is that of wood against
wood, scraping against each other.

Looking back they see Xander standing there, sword in hand. A slight
grin is on his face. "Iím ready."

Cassandra looks at Adam, who has a grin on his face as well, and then
back to Xander, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, like you said I have a lot of time on my hands now."

Adam walks back to the mat and says, "Good then lets begin again. Ready
position."

Xander plants his feet and brings his sword in the ready position. He
is ready, ready to let go of the zeppo, ready to grow out of the
awkward stage that lasted his entire life. He was ready to show all
those around him what he was really worth. He was ready to be come
Alexander Harris, the man he had always wanted to be.

Ö

Xander often wonders what his life would have been like if he had not
died that night. Most likely he would have been living in his parentsí
basement alone, looking for jobs and not being able to hold any single
one for long. He wondered what it would have been like to be around his
friends after they started going to school. Would they still be around?
Would he have been able to see them as often as before in high school
now that they no longer had classes together? Most likely not. Xander
had a lot of "what ifs" in his life and he had begun to focus more and
more on those pivotal points in his life where an inch in either
direction would have changed his life dramatically. It had reminded him
of the movie Mr. Destiny. Where one moment in time dictated the
direction of his entire life.

Adam had warned him about dwelling over the past, so had Cassandra, but
he wasnít dwelling so much any longer. It was more of a wistful memory.
Although most people had wistful memories of prom, sports, things like
that. He on the other hand had wistful memories of defeating the
Master, his run-in with OíToole and his undead gang, and nearly being
eaten by a giant praying mantis. Not so bad now that his only means of
survival was dependant on his killing his opponent by beheading. 

He thought of his old friends back in Sunnydale everyday. How they
were, what they were doing, school, love life, all of it. He had toyed
with the thought of hiring a private eye to find out how they were
doing, but he had quickly dismissed that. He remembers how they all
wanted a private life away from prying eyes. Away from all those who
would find their actions questionable. 

Surprisingly though he found that the one person he thought about the
most was Faith. The dark eyed, dark haired slayer had left quite an
imprint on him. In retrospect he saw that Faith had never treated him
as the zeppo. As if she thought more of him than the others did. She
had never tried to exclude him from any plan or action she had planned
to take. Maybe it was her brash attitude, maybe it was because she
didnít see him as a threat, or maybe it was because she saw in him
something the other didnít see. They had both been outcasts and they
both shared the same knowledge of all the things the go bump in the
night. Maybe that was why he thought of her so much. Or maybe it was
the one night of passion they had shared. A night where they had shared
each other for one intimate moment of time, maybe that was the reason
why he thought of her so often. Even though right after that moment she
had kicked him out of her motel room, he still thought about it. The
days following he would barely catch a glimpse of her staring at him
before looking away, and he could swear that when she caught him
staring at her as she walked away she would look over her shoulder and
give him a coy smile. Coy might have been a bad word to use, sly maybe.
However he had never moved on any of the signs, he had dismissed them
as the heat of the moment, hormone driven madness. But the moment would
never leave his mind. He would think back and remember her showing him
around the curves with a smile. Yet another what if in his Mr. Destiny
life, what if indeed. Maybe he could have helped her stay on their
side, he would have been a good influence on her. She would have never
gotten into a coma, and he would have never left Sunnydale and all
would have been well and good. 

Xander sighs and says to himself, "What if?"

 

Sunnydale

Inside of the hospital there is a bed in the ICU. At the foot of the
bed there is a chart that reads Wilkins, Faith. It has her vitals for
the week, the medications and treatments that are being used to keep
her condition steady while she is in a coma. However that is all for
naught because the bed is empty.

A bus heading northbound passes a sign saying "Thank You for Visiting
Sunnydale!" The bus is full of nondescript passengers, but towards the
back there is a young woman sitting by herself staring outside of her
window. On the seat next to her is a bag that says Sunnydale Memorial
Hospital. Faith looks out of the bus, at the town she had called home.
The town would never be home for her again, all because of her bad
decisions. All she could do now was get a way and start over somewhere
else, she was a big girl, she could take care of herself, but friends
were hard to come by. 

When she had woken up she stopped by the mayorís office only to find
that he was dead. Anger had flashed through her mind, but without the
mayor fueling her anger it quickly dissipated. She knew now that the
mayor had been using her own anger to control her. Cursing herself she
quietly leaves the office. 

Who would she go to now? She couldnít go to Buffy or Giles, they
wouldnít trust her. Willow would probably be scared to death of her.
Who else? Oz? No, she barely knew him at all. Then it hit her. Xander!
Of all of them he wouldnít judge her, he would hear her out at least
wouldnít he? She frantically searched her mind trying to remember how
to get to Xanderís house, if her memory wasnít totally off his parentís
house wasnít that far from where she was now. When she patrolled she
would frequently pass by his house, hoping that he would be awake. She
saw Xander as the only real friend she had in the group. He never
judged her, or tried to compare her to Buffy. In the heat of the moment
they had slept together but they had both avoided that subject
afterwards. Not that she didnít like it, or even thought of a possible
relationship. But she didnít act on the opportunity and neither did he.
But through it all Xander was a friend.

Reaching her destination what she found dismayed her. The house looked
empty and unkempt. Weeds were growing in the yard and had a "For Sale"
sign hanging on a single hinge on its post. What had happened? Did they
move? There was only one way to find out. She went in search of a phone
book, the place she thought there would be one was a phone booth.
Remembering that there was a park close by she thought she would try
there first. 

She decided to cut through one of the cemeteries in order to get there
faster. She running as fast as she could, she needed to find him. She
needed someone to forgive her for what she did, and the only one that
could was Xander. As she came over a hill she saw Willow standing with
her back to her. 

"Shit!" She said quietly to herself. She could let Willow see her, not
yet. She needed Xander to be with her, to vouch for her. So she quietly
moved around and stood behind a mausoleum waiting for her to leave. She
could just make out what she was saying.

"Öand I passed my last midterm, got an A on it. Arenít you proud?
Buffy, Tara and me went to the Bronze to celebrate, actually we all got
hammered," She said with a slight giggle, "weíre are twenty-one now you
know."

Things must have really changed around here Faith thought to herself.
Willow drinking? Well now that was a surprise in itself. Listening
closer she saw that her conversation was coming to an end. Who was she
talking to?

"Öwell thatís about it. I got to get going Giles needs me to help him
with a spell and some research so Iím meeting him at his shop. Iíll
talk to you later." With that Willow kisses her hand and touches the
headstone. Faith ducks around the corner to make sure that Willow
doesnít see her. Willow gets into her car and drives off. Faith slowly
backs towards to the grave making sure that Willow wasnít going to turn
around unexpectantly. Assured that she wouldnít be returning she
quickly turns around to look at the gravestone. What she sees makes her
fall to her knees.

Alexander L. Harris

Friend, Protector

Hero

In a single moment all her hopes of redemption and acceptance are gone.
Tears flow down her cheeks as she realizes her only option now is to
leave. Which brings her to where she is now, on a bus, leaving the only
place she had ever called home. Thinking about her life and saying to
herself, "What if?"


Chapter 3

Are you sure that you want to buy one of these, these, death traps?"
Adam asks Xander.

They are walking around the Harley Davidson show room. Adam had said
that he would get Xander anything he wanted for his birthday and Xander
was going to hold him to that promise.

"Of course Iím sure, I wouldnít have had you pay for my test fees and
classes to learn how to drive one of these bad boys if I didnít want
one would I?" He hears Adam mumble something along the lines of
Ďungrateful pupí and Ďrespect his eldersí and just chuckles. He was
really eyeing one particular bike. A FXSTD Soft Tail Deuce. It had a
balanced 1450cc Twin Cam 88 engine. It was a beauty, navy blue and
ivory paint job with chrome inlays. It just looked nice. When he was
about seven he saw the movie "The Great Escape" when he saw Steve
McQueen jump that fence on a motorcycle he knew that one day he would
have a motorcycle. It was somewhat of a secret passion of his since
then. He read up on engine sizes, balanced engines, makes and models,
all in his spare time, and now he would own one.

Two months ago he had mentioned to Cassandra and Adam that his birthday
was coming up and jokingly asked them what they were getting him.
Cassandra said Adam could probably get him whatever he wanted. He
chuckled every time he remembered that conversation.

Ö

"Excuse me?" Adam said, "Are you just offering my hard earned cash to
buy just anything?"

"Well, its not like you canít afford it is it?" Cassandra shoots back
winking at Xander. Xander know that something was going to happen and
that he was going to stay as far back as possible so he wouldnít get
hit by the fallout.

"Well no, but I would to at least have a say as to where my money goes.
Not just to some whim or desire that he can think up of. That sounds
fair doesnít it?"

"Of course, but I know you wouldnít want to have any of your desires
denied to you now would you? I know that it would be really hard if
your desires go unrequited for a while now wouldnít it?"

Looking at Cassandra with wide eyes and mulling over exactly what she
had said he replies, "No, of course I wouldnít want that."

"I thought so. Now Iíll leave you and Alexander here to discuss what
exactly he was thinking about. Iím sure it wonít be too extravagant now
will it Alexander?"

"Of course not." And with that Cassandra walks out of the room. Xander
looks at Adam who was watching her leave. "Adam, I was just kidding,
you donít have to get me anything. Really you donít."

"No thatís alright, I was going to get you something anyway. You just
learned a valuable less today Xander." 

Xander looks at him curiously, "What lesson is that?"

"Never underestimate the guile of women Xander. They can manipulate you
in more ways than you can ever imagine."

Xander couldnít help it he just started laughing. He was laughing so
hard he could feel tears falling down his cheeks. Adam, the most
manipulative individual he had ever met was just outdone by the person
he loved the one person who knew exactly what buttons to push to make
him cave in, it was classic. He only wished he had a camera to capture
the look on Adamís face.

"Go ahead laugh it up!" Adam says and looks back at the door to see
Cassandra waving back at him sweetly. That only makes Xander laugh
harder.

Ö

This is the one thought to himself, looking at the Soft Tail. Looking
up he sees the salesman walking over. Well buddy, looks like youíre
going to make some commission today.

"Hey there guys find anything you like? I see youíre looking at the
Soft Tail Deuce, nice piece of equipment there. You have a good eye."

"Thanks." Is all that Xander can say before the salesman starts up
again.

"Yup, this baby has a 1450cc engine that will get you off and running
in no time flat. You see that there?" he says pointing to engine,
"Balanced Twin Cam 88B, not going to find quality like that on just any
bike Iíll tell you."

Adam decides to cut in, "That is just all well and good but what about
the price?"

"The price? Well Iím sure we can work it out."

Adam had a gleam in his eye, "Oh really?"

As they were leaving the dealership, Xander couldnít believe the price
they had gotten for the bike. One hundred dollars above invoice,
including the highest maintenance package, and all the bells and
whistles. He was actually able to walk off with the show room bike!

"I canít believe what you said to them!" He said shaking his head.

"Well he told me I was buying a piece of art rather than a piece of
machinery."

"Yes, and then you told him a piece of art doesnít depreciate once you
leave the gallery." He paused and chuckled for a bit, "I have never,
ever seen a person flounder around for an answer like that. I could
barely stop myself from laughing."

"Well I figured that if I was going to buy the thing I could at least
have some fun at it right? Anyway have some fun with your new bike, but
make your way back to the house, Cassandra and I have one more present
for you."

"Sure, Iíll be back in an hour." With that Xander kick started his bike
and pulled away from the dealership. 

His new bike was awesome. It took him a little less than twenty minutes
to get out to the cityís limits where he would be able to open her up a
little more on the less congested roads. He loved the feel of the wind
against his face, the freedom of riding, the raw power he had with the
bike. It was amazing, but short-lived. By the time he really started to
get the feel of his bike he saw that it was about time to head back to
meet with Adam and Cassandra. 

When he got to the house he saw that the first few lights on the first
story were on. Walking up to the door he pulled out his key ring and
found the key they had given him and let himself into the house. When
he walks into the house he can feel their presence wash over him. He
had been around them for so long that at times he felt as if he could
feel the differences between the two immortals. Cassandraís was softer
initially, but the strength grew as he came closer to her proving that
she was indeed a formidable opponent. Adam on the other hand was like a
tidal wave of cold power. It didnít surprise him much considering what
they had told him about their pasts. But Adam didnít look or act like
an avatar trumpeting the coming apocalypse; but then again Adam also
said not to believe anything you read. 

"Alexander is that you?" Cassandra hollered from the exercise room.

"No! Its the other devilishly handsome student that has a key to your
house!" He yells back with a grin. He may be immortal but he didnít let
that get in the way of his sense of humor.

"Then this present that we have back here isnít for you then!" Came
Adamís sarcastic reply.

Walking back through the finely furnished home he reaches the door to
the exercise room. Walking in he sees that Cassandra is standing next
to Adam and Adam has something behind his back.

"Well? Are you going to give me your present or what?" He asks with a
smile.

Cassandra answers, "Yes, but for many cultures birthdays are more of a
right of passage rather than a celebration of life. What we have here
is something to congratulate you on your right of passage."

Adam takes a walnut box out from behind his back. Itís about four and a
half feet long and weighs about six to seven pounds. Looking up he sees
that they are encouraging him to open the box. Not needing any more
prodding he does so. What he sees leaves him speechless. There lying on
top of the navy blue velvet inlay is a sword. It is about four feet
long the blade catches the light and reflects it almost like a mirror.
The guard has beautiful detail as they spiral out and form the cross
that would protect his hand. The pommel is covered with a braided chain
mail, comfortable enough to allow for easy wielding but firm and rough
enough for a secure grip. At the end of the pommel there is a dark blue
crystal that almost matches the color of the velvet.

Standing up he moves to the center of the room and goes through some
basic movements to feel the balance of the blade. The balance is good
enough for him to use one or two hands with the weapon. The grip is
perfect for him. Itís a little heavier than the sword he has now but
with practice that will go away.

"What kind of sword is it?"

"Its German, more specifically itís a Schloss Erbach Arming Sword.
Around the 15th century armor reached peak efficiency a lot of the
swords that were being used werenít very successful so new sword
designs were made to compensate. What you have in your hands is a great
example of that ingenuity. It can cut, slice and thrust with relative
ease. The only catch is that it is heavier than the black prince you
use, but that shouldnít bother you for a while."

"The blue jewel is a sapphire it is supposed to bring good luck as well
as fend off evil spirits, as well as provide a beautiful accent to the
sword." Cassandra adds. "You like it?"

"Like it? This is the most amazing gift anyone has given me!"

"Well then, lets go have some dinner."

Xander didnít hear Adamís statement. He was still going through a sword
kata familiarizing himself with his new blade. One movement flowed into
the next all conscious thought was pushed away as he continued with the
exercise. Almost nothing could have broken his concentration.

"Xander." Cassandraís voice echoed in his head immediately causing him
to stop mid-movement. "Sorry to have interrupted you but you can
practice all you want tomorrow. I have dinner waiting and Iím not about
to let it go cold."

Embarrassed, Xander apologizes, "Sorry, sure lets go get some dinner."


Dinner was waiting for them on the table, it looked as if they had
spent a few hours in the kitchen and by the smell of it seemed as if
they had spent days on the meal. However he had seen the pair in action
in the kitchen before and knew better. They make the Iron Chefs of
Japan look like amateurs, between the two of them they could make a
seven course meal in just under an hour. It was an amazing side of them
that he was sure that not many had the opportunity to see. Conversation
bounced back and forth as it usually did with the topics ranging from
current international politics to the latest episode of the coupleís
favorite show "ED." 

After dinner Xander announced that he was going to head back to his
apartment.

"You have a safe drive home ok?" Cassandra says.

"Yes mom" It was a running joke between the three that they were a
family. Xander on the other hand thought that it wasnít a joke, they
were his family. He looked to them for wisdom advice and help, and
without question or hesitation they would provide all three. There was
no question about it, these people were his family in the truest sense.
Adam got up as well and said that he would walk Xander to the door.

At the door Adam asked him a question, "How do you like your sword?"

"Itís amazing he said holding up the case. Thanks again."

"Donít worry about it. I have one more accessory for your new bike
though."

"Really? I thought I already all of them due to your amazing skills of
arbitration."

"Well this is actually a special order, not many people will have use
for it but I suspect that you will."

"Enough with the suspense already, what is it?"

Walking behind the sofa Adam picks something up and tosses it to
Xander.

"Ok, I give. What is it?"

"Itís the horse mount sheath for your sword. You can put it under your
saddlebags and stow your sword while you ride. Itís a lot better than
having the damn thing poke your back."

"Thanks." Xander says with a grin. "Iíll put it on before I go."

Adam was about to say something when there was a crash and scream from
the kitchen. They both hurried to the kitchen to find Cassandra on the
floor writhing and clutching at her head. Adam moves quickly to her
side and cradles her head in his lap. He is saying something to her,
Xander canít make it out but it sounds like Latin. He picks up half of
the words. Focus, listen, stay are all he hears Adam say. Cassandra
opens her eyes and whispers something that he canít hear and Adam nods.


Carefully Adam picks Cassandra up off the floor and walks to the sofa
in the living room.

"Xander get an ice pack from freezer and get a piece of paper and a
pen."

Xander nods and brings the said items to Adam, "Thanks Xander. Hold the
ice pack on her head, itís more for comfort than it is for healing."
Adam says answering the question Xander has on his mind before he has a
chance to ask it. Cassandra is mumbling something still but Xander
canít understand a word of it.

"What is she saying?" He asks.

"Its Celtic, a very old dialect. Quiet, I need to hear what she is
saying." Adam starts to write down what Cassandra is saying. "Xander
get a blanket from the closet and another piece of paper please."

Xander hurries off to get the items. Adam takes the blanket and wraps
it around Cassandra carefully. "Sheís asleep now, lets go the kitchen."

Xander nods and follows Adam, throwing a look over his should to prone
figure on the couch. Once inside of the kitchen Xander asks, "What
happened to her?"

"Cassandra is a priestess, she has been trained to be in touch with,
how to put it, otherworldly elements. She was a healer for her tribe
before her first death so she has had these abilities for as long as
she can remember." Adam pauses, "What just happened back there was a
vision. Iíve been through this before with her, she had one of you
before you washed up on our island."

"What did she say while in her vision?"

"I canít say for sure and I know that the details will be hazy for a
couple of days afterwards so Iíll need to do some research."

"Can I help?" Xander falls into research mode easily now, intent on
helping his surrogate mother.

"Yes", taking a piece of paper from Xander he writes down an address
and a list of what Xander can only think are books. "Follow me, and
pick up your sword sheath."

Xander follows him out to the garage with the sheath in hand. Adam
hands him the sheet of paper and takes the sheath from Xander. He
proceeds to tie the sheath down to the bike while explaining what is on
the paper, "On that list is an address. Itís a bookstore that I own. In
the back there is a large safe the combination is below the address.
The key to the store is behind you hanging from the pegboard. Itís the
third one from the right. Once you open the safe there are four shelves
of books, take the ones that are on that list and bring them back here.
Youíll find some boxes and string to tie them up together, that should
make it easier for you to stow away in your saddlebags." 

Adam places the saddlebags over the sheath and looks at his work. You
can barely see the sheath beneath the saddlebags. Adam walks back into
the house and walks back out with Xanderís sword and sheaths it under
the saddlebags. You canít even tell that it is there.

"Iíll be waiting for you here, hopefully Cassandra will be awake by the
time you get back. Now go."

Xander puts the list in his breast pocket and straddles his bike, kick
starting it. "Iíll be back as soon as I can!" He yells over the roar of
the bike. Adam just nods and Xander speeds off to the store. In his
mirrors Xander can see Adam hurry back into the house.

Ö

Xander walks out of a store carrying packages. Checking over his stack
he walks over to his new motorcycle and puts the packages into his
saddlebags. He checks to see how secure they are and checks his sword.
Xander canít believe how much this reminds him of his old life. He is
research boy once again, but this time he doesnít dread it, he thinks
of Cassandra and knows that if there was anything he could do to help,
he would do it in a heart beat.

He is about to kick-start his bike when he hears a scuffle echo from a
nearby alley. Knowing that canít possibly be good he quickly moves to
the mouth of the alley and sees a young woman and five men surrounding
her. Now that isnít right he thinks to himself and makes his way over
to his bike and brings it to life. With the tires squealing as he turns
around the corner, he speeds down the alley. Turning on his lights to
distract the assailants he see something that worries him much more
than before. The men all have yellow eyes and ridged foreheads. Upon
seeing his adversaries in a new light his entire game plan changes
quickly. Reaching under his saddlebags he pulls out his Schloss Erbach
sword bringing it to bear like a Calvaryman. As he nears one of the
vampires he brings his sword down and lops the demonís head off of its
shoulders. Thatís one he thinks to himself. Seeing that the element of
surprise was now gone Xander suddenly clamps down on his brakes. Using
his momentum he launches himself on the closest vampire. He collides
violently with the vampire connecting his sword guard with the demonís
face. The he smiles when he hears the sound of bone and cartilage
crunching. Rolling with the fall he quickly returns to his feet and saw
a very surprising sight. The young woman is holding a stake with a pile
of dust at her feet. Looking at her more closely and sees that she
seems familiar.

He asks her, "Are you ok?"


Then he realizes who she is just before she answers, "Everything is
five by five."


Faith was worried that the man who had jumped into the fight would get
in her way, but now he was a mysterious benefactor. She looks him up
and down and thinks to herself not bad, not bad at all. Even though she
was the slayer she still had problems going up against more than two or
three vampires at once. Looking to her right she saw a pile of what was
the first vampire to be killed, the manís motorcycle, an unconscious
vampire and the young man himself smiling easily at her. "You know
shouldnít be running with pointy objects like that, let alone riding
around on a motorcycle, you could poke your eye out." She says to him.

She doesnít recognize me yet he thinks to himself, "I seriously doubt
that, by the way DUCK!" She did so and the sound of metal on metal
clanged in her ears. Looking up she saw that one of the Vampires had
gotten a pipe and tried to club her with it.

Looking down to see if she is hurt he sees her looking at him, more
intently this time. "If you would be so kind as to move out of the way
so I donít trip on you I would really appreciate it." He says,
concentrating on his positioning and using his leverage to make up the
strength difference between him and the vampire. She didnít need to be
told twice, and she deftly rolled out of the way.

She wanted to see how the young man was doing against the now armed
vampire, there was something about him she couldnít place, but her
attention was brought to her left towards the growling of the last
vampire. "Okay, so you want to play?" She slipped into a modified horse
stance and waited for what she new what the vampire would do and that
was charge. The vampire didnít disappoint and rushed at the young woman
at full speed. A side step and a knife edge chop later the vampire was
on the ground with a stake slammed through its heart. As the dust began
to fall she looked up to see how the man was faring against the other
vampire. He was doing fairly well considering what had to be a huge
strength difference. She looked on as the man battled against the
stronger adversary. 

I canít keep this up he thinks to himself. Opting to change his
strategy, he decides to dodge a majority of the attacks rather than
parrying them, parry or not there was still some considerable force
behind the blows. Just when he thought the vampire wouldnít give him an
opening, one appeared. The vampire came at him trying to club him with
his pipe like it was an axe. This is my chance he thinks to himself and
steps back and performs an upward swing, turning with the swing to add
power and momentum. The vampire sees the blow and tries to bring his
pipe down to block but was too late. The man felt some resistance,
nothing then resistance again as his blade passed through the vampireís
wrists holding the pipe and then again as the blade went cleanly
through its neck. It was only seconds later when the pipe and the
vampireís ashes hit the pavement. Breathing heavily and looking around
he sees that there is one vampire left, albeit this one was probably
crippled right now so he wouldnít have to worry about that one.

Xander appraises the situation once more. Only moments ago he was
thinking about what it was like to become research boy again. Now here
he is standing knee deep in Vampire dust with Faith staring at him.

Again he asks, "Are you ok?"

"Yeah, Iím cool. What about you? I thought your arms would break with
amount of force behind those swings."

"Iíll be fine." He says walking over to his bike. He looks to see if
his cargo is undamaged by the fall. See that it isnít he sheaths his
sword and turns back to see how Faith is doing. 

Turning he sees that Faith is right behind him only inches away.

Faith is busily looking at the young man very closely. He reminds her
so much of Xander. His hair is shorter, his frame is leaner more
muscular but was it Xander? Or was she still holding out for one chance
of redemption? Leaning closer to him he takes his face into her hands
and pulls it closer to hers. His warm breath on her skin gives her
shivers. She looks into his eyes and peers at the dark pools and sees
warmth that only Xander had.

Pulling away, her eyes full of tears she whispers, "Xander? Is that
you?" She begs to God or any god that would hear her plea, please let
it be him! If he is my guardian angel please let him stay long enough
to forgive me! PLEASE! 

What surprises her is that his arms reach around and hold her close to
his body in a warm inviting hug. She can feel his heart beating, and
his skin is warm to the touch. He says quietly into her ear "Yes Faith,
its me." With those four words she leans into the embrace crying into
his shoulder, repeating the words, " Iím sorry, Iím so, so sorry!" The
tears donít stop as he quietly rocks her and coos, "Itís alright. Donít
cry. I forgive you." 

They are like that for a few moments and Xander pulls her away from
him. Faith shivers with the sudden loss of warmth. Xander takes off his
jacket and puts it around her shoulders. "Do you have a place to stay?"
He asks her.

She shakes her, "No, I just got into town. I was looking for a place to
stay when these guys surrounded me."

Propping up his bike he gestures with his head, "Hop on, you can crash
with me tonight. I have to stop by my friendsí house first though."

"Really? You donít hate me?" Her tone is cautious. 

"Of course not. I have never hated you." Faithís heart soars at those
words. Xanderís friendship means more to her than anything to her right
now. With his friendship comes acceptance and a chance to truly start
over. With that she climbs on the bike and wraps her arms around
Xanderís waist and leans into his body. She feels safer now than she
has felt in a long time.

Xander kick starts his bike and feels Faithís arms around him. He feels
apart of him that he had forgotten about come to life. A piece of him
that he shut down when he left his old life behind. Taking a deep
breath he thinks once more "what if?" only this time he thinks of the
possible futures ahead of him, each and everyone of them revolves
around the woman holding on tightly to his body.



Chapter 4

O you whom I often and silently come where you are that I may be With
you,

As I walk by your side or sit near, or remain in the same room with
You,

Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is
playing within me.

W.W. 1867

 

Methos is still sitting next to Cassandra as she sleeps when he feels
Xanderís approach. He is about a mile away. He had been actively
searching for the young man to return ever since he left. He was a
little late, but he had faith that Xander would bring back what he
needed. Methos like many of the truly ancient immortals has a large
amount of control over his quickening. Cassandra, like himself, was
able to manifest the quickening as a tool. For Cassandra it was the
voice and her visions. Methos on the other hand was able to control his
quickening to such a degree that he could mask his presence to almost
nothing. If he knew in which direction to look he could sense an
immortal almost five miles away. But right now he was using his
considerable control to monitor Cassandraís condition. 

The quickening is so very tightly entwined with the conscious mind that
it shapes itself to frame the thoughts and emotions of the owner.
Kalasí quickening was like a conflagration of hatred, looking to burn
everything and anything that came into contact with it. MacLeodís is a
deep amber, golden, reaching out to protect all those around him.
Kronosí was like a black sphere, greasy and slippery, trying to
dominate all around. 

Methos had been writing about quickenings for over a thousand years. Of
all the immortals he had ever met there were only two others that could
do what he can with his quickening. One was Darius, although he
suspected that the quickening he took at the gates of Paris had a lot
to do with what Darius was able to do. The other is Cassandra and as of
this moment her quickening is as still as a pond. On the surface there
was no movement. If Cassandra was indeed there she had withdrawn into
the depths of her unconsciousness. By scanning a little deeper he could
feel the turbulence beneath the surface. Memories rearranging
themselves, settling themselves into the caverns and crevices of her
mind, sorting themselves out to make sense. In the middle of it all was
Cassandra trying to decode all the images thrust into her
consciousness. 

Out of all the immortals he has ever met none have had presence of
young Alexander Harris. His quickening radiated off of him like the way
a flame flickers and burns on a candle. The sheer amount of power he
had within him was incomprehensible for one so young. It was no where
near the strength of his own but it was still quite formidable, to him
Xanderís raw essence far outmatched MacLeodís. 

He had brought it up with Cassandra when they had pulled him onto the
island and into their cabin but they wouldnít understand the source
until much later. They had been on the island for a year trying to heal
wounds. It had been hard at first but as with all things time had
prevailed. Days with only each other for companionship brought out the
best they had in each other. However the one thing that had solidified
that relationship was Xander. Together they were able to raise the
young man from uncertainty to confidence. They were able to teach him
that there was more to him if he only stopped limiting himself. To
Xander, they were his parents and they could do nothing wrong. Even
after telling him about their shared past, and after telling him what
he had once been, he stood up and told them that he understood. They
had asked him if it mattered to him and he had said no. ĎI canít change
the past, and all I know is what you have shown meí is what he said to
them.

It was only when he had taken Xander back home to witness his funeral
from afar did he realize where his power had come from. Xander was
raised on top of the Hellmouth. The natural ley lines that intersected
over the mystical hotspot strengthened his latent quickening. Much like
a piece of metal becomes magnetized if it is in contact with a magnetic
field, Xanderís quickening absorbed a lot of power during his time
there. He thought that Xanderís ability to survive so long on top of
the Hellmouth was because his quickening was giving him just enough to
survive without dying. 

Xander was something special and he was destined for something great,
and after focusing a little harder on his young wardís presence he
found that he wasnít alone. It wasnít another immortal, he would have
felt such an intrusion against the familiar. It was a mortal, but this
oneís essence was stronger, brighter, but unsteady. Methos had also
seen that some mortals were able to register in his mindís eye. They
were usually the brilliant and the special. They had enough essence to
register if actively searched for them, but they wouldnít register on
his normal immortal senses. It would be interesting to see who it was
exactly Xander would be bringing to his home. Methos sat back and
continued to study Cassandra as she slept, waiting for a sign of her
return to consciousness.

Ö

Xander and Faith pull up to the driveway of Methos and Cassandraís
home. Faith seeing that they have slowed down considerably looks at her
surroundings. Even through the darkness the two-story home is very
impressive. The grass is green and the rose bushes in the planters that
surround the home are neatly pruned and well cared for.

Slowly she gets off the bike so Xander can prop it up using the
kickstand. She stands back as Xander goes through his saddlebags and
retrieves a handful of packages. He takes her hand gently into his and
gestures towards the house.

"Letís go, I have to drop these off."

"Whose house is this?" She asks, wary of the unknown.

"It belongs to a couple of friends of mine. I want you to meet them."


Taking a deep breath and nodding she says, "Ok, letís go."

"These people have been my family for the last couple of years, they
wonít hurt you." He says hoping to ease her fears.

With that they begin to walk up the walkway towards the front door. The
walkway is lined with small lights and miniature roses in full bloom.
The fragrance from the flowers surrounds her almost making her heady.
As they get closer and closer to the house Faithís sense of warning
starts to tingle at the base of her skull sending shivers down her
spine. The porch light turns on and the front door opens. There framed
by the doorway stands a man, a little taller than Xander. He is skinny,
no, his clothes make him appear skinny and he is looking at them both
with a sly grin.

"I was wondering what took you so long," he said and then looked at
Faith, "but now I see youíve brought company."

Xander steps directly in front of Faith as if to protect her. Why would
this man threaten her? Then she realizes that her senses are being
triggered by the man standing in front of them, although the sense was
now receding it was definitely coming from him.

"Sheís a friend Adam, I trust her." Is all that Xander says.

He trusts me? Faith thinks, her heart flying. She has never been
affected like this before, by anyone. It is something that she is not
used to. It scares her and exhilarates at the same time.

"I thought I met most of your friends and I donít recall you mentioning
a beautiful young lady namedÖ" Adam says.

"Faith, my name is Faith." Faith introduces herself.

"Faith, a beautiful name. Very well then, welcome to my home Faith." He
says directly to her. "Has Xander here told you of the situation?"

"No he hasnít."

"Thatís ok, Iíll leave it up to him to explain things to you."

"Here are your books Adam." Xander says handing the books over to Adam.
"Is there anything we can do to help?"

"Not right now, Iíll need to do some translations and then Iíll give
you a call. Faith is welcome to help as well. Xander canít speak with
you privately for a minute?"

"Yeah sure." He leans over to Faith. "Iíll be right back, you just wait
here and afterwards weíll head over to my place."

"Sure, no problem." She replies.

"Please make yourself at home, have a seat." Adam says before both he
and Xander move into the house.

Making sure that she is out of earshot Adam asks, "Do you know she is a
slayer?"

Xander was surprised at the statement, "Yes, how did you know?"

"I could sense it and I think she was able to sense me too."

"Sense you?"

"Yes slayers have an innate sense of danger, it is a sense that is
attuned to the amount of power or energy a person gives off. Thatís how
they can find Vampires and other demons, they sense the power within
them."

"So are you saying that our quickenings give off that kind of power as
well?"

"Yes, but mine is a unique signature as you can imagine."

"How is Cassandra?" Xander asks

Adam takes a deep breath, "She is still unconscious. Iím not sure what
is taking so long but Iíll wait it out by doing research. Iíll call you
when I have something more concrete. Will your Ďfriendí help as well?"

"Yes I think she will if I ask. What is it?" Xander asks seeing a look
of apprehension on Adamís face.

"Youíll have to tell her what you are, you do realize that donít you?"

"Why?"

"Sheís a slayer, youíre immortal, something is going to happen that
will force you to show her. It would be easier to tell her rather than
die in front of her."

Xander nods as he mulls over the words Adam said and with that they
walk to the front of the house.

Faith is sitting on one of the chairs in the living room that is
adjacent to the entryway. The furnishings and the assortment of things
that are in the room impress her. She isnít an expert on antiques or
anything but when she was growing up in Boston she had seen a lot of
the old colonial monuments, the homes restored to the original state
when such and such founding father was alive.

The stuff in this room was just as old or even older. Xander had moved
up in the world it seemed. She had a lot of questions to ask Xander.
Some things werenít adding up in her mind and she was determined to
find out why. Now isnít the time though. Sheíll have to wait until they
are in a more private setting where it was just the two of them. No
bullshit, just straight answers. With that Xander and Adam both walked
back into the room.

"Sorry to keep you waiting here." Adam apologized, "But I had to go
over some things with Xander."

"Oh no trouble at all, I was alright in here." Faith replies.

"Thanks Adam but we have to get going. If you need anything just give
me a call."

"Sure, it was nice meeting you Faith."

"Likewise." Faith says with a smile.

Xander and Faith exit the building and make their way to the
motorcycle. 

"Xander we have to talk, not now but when we get to your place, ok?
There is something else going on here and I donít like being kept in
the dark."

Xander sighs, he didnít think that he would have to cross this bridge
so soon. "Fine, letís make our way to my place and weíll talk over some
dinner. You are hungry arenít you?"

"Donít try to change the topic, and yes Iím starving."

They mount the bike and Xander kick-starts the bike to life. They pull
away from the house and make theyíre way towards Xanderís apartment and
the imminent revelations that will be made there. In the distance
lightning and thunder can be heard. It is going to be a rainy night.

Ö

Faith had thought that Xander lived in an apartment. Well she was
wrong. Xander actually lived in a house about fifteen minutes away from
Adamís. It was a modest single story home. The yard was well cared for,
as was the overall appearance of the house.

Xander pulls out a garage door opener and pushes the button to open the
garage and they pull inside. As they disembark off the motorcycle she
sees a car to her right. A red í57 Cadillac a classic car if she ever
saw one. Outside lightning strikes and the sound of the thunder quickly
follows.

Xander turns back and says with a grin, "Welcome to my humble abode.
Itís not much right now but Iím still working on the furniture but I
have all the essentials."

They walk into the house and she immediately sees what he means. His
house is sparsely furnished. It still smells of paint and dry wall. The
kitchen and the living room are the only rooms that have furniture and
most likely the bedroom as well. The dťcor is much more modern than
Adamís house is but still elegant nonetheless. He leads her into the
kitchen, which is all oaks and ivory colored tile. The stove, microwave
and the refrigerator are all stainless steel. 

"You want to take a shower while I get dinner going?" He asks her.

Faith is still looking over the interior of the house and doesnít hear
his question. Xander asks again, "Faith?"

He finally gets her attention and she looks at him, "What?"

"You want to take a shower while I start dinner?"

Distracted she replies, "Yeah, sure." She walks into the living room
where the entertainment center is and sees the setup there. Eight
speaker surround sound system with two floor sub woofers. A huge amp
for the speaker leads and the DVD and VCR leads. Above that is the
satellite receiver all of the hardware is centered around a flat fifty-
one inch big screen TV.

Faith calls over her shoulder, "Uh, Xander?"

Xanderís voice is heard from the kitchen. "Yes?"

"Is this stuff all yours?"

"Last time I checked it was." came the reply.

"Not to sound nosy or anything but how can you afford all of this?"

"You want the real answer?" He says walking in from the kitchen.

"Yeah." She says curious to hear the explanation.

"Iím a, and this isnít a joke, Iím a day trader."

"Excuse me?" She can hardly believe her ears.

"Yeah, follow me." She follows him in to the room adjacent to the
living room. In it is a small office complete with three PCs a TV, and
a fax machine. "I had Adam help me with getting the hardware." He says
sheepishly.

"Where did you get the cash to start off with?" She says.

"Well Adam and his wife Cassandra gave me a lump of cash for one of my
birthdays and I took it and invested it. What you see today is the
fruit of my investments. Now no offense but you really need to take a
shower."

Faith upon hearing the last statement blushes with embarrassment,
something that surprises Xander. He had never, ever seen Faith blush at
anything. More surprising is that he finds her incredibly beautiful. He
needs to get out of the room right now, before his hormones get the
better of him.

Faith was thinking about how she must smell. She hasnít had a showered
in a week, and all that she had was left in the alley when Xander found
her. She didnít even have any clean clothes to change into. With that
she blushed even more, "Uh, Xander I donít have any clothes."

Xander just stares at her for a moment and then shakes himself and
says, "Say again?"

"I left my stuff in the alley. I donít have anything to change into."

"Oh, yeah sure. I mean you can use some of my stuff. Here follow me
Iíll get you some sweats."

Walking into the bedroom Faith can see that this is the room that has
the most thought behind it, all dark woods and black contrast against
the white walls. The bed, a king most likely, had a comforter with a
navy blue and black pattern on it. Next to the bed was a small table.
On it is a lamp, a small pile of books and two remote controls. The
controls are for the VCR and the TV that sit opposite of the bed.
Xander walks to a dresser that is on the other side of the bed and
opens a drawer. Turning around he hands her a sweater and some warm-
ups.

He shows her the bathroom, how to turn on the water, the heater, where
all the amenities are and says pointing to a rack next to the shower
stall, "and here is where I keep all the towels. Ok you should be set
so Iím, uh, going to get started on dinner." 

He is about to leave when he hears Faithís voice, "Can I have your
boxers?"

Xander freezes where he is and slowly turns around and looks at Faith.
"Say again?"

"Can I have you boxers?"

"Thatís what I thought you said." Xander takes a deep breath willing
away thoughts from his head as he asks, "Why would you want my boxers?"

"Xander I donít have any clothes. That includes my underwear. Unless
you have an ample supply of womenís underwear available, I think it
would be best if you gave me a pair of your boxers."

Xander for the second time tonight just stares at Faith. Suffice it to
say that he is thinking some very ungentlemanly thoughts. "Theyíre in
the top drawer." He mumbles out, but Faith didnít understand a word he
said.

"What?"

"They are in the top drawer to the right. Iím going to get dinner ready
right now, ok?"

"Thatís fine, but you owe me some information."

"I know, I know and I promise to tell you. You like Italian?"

"Sure."

"How does chicken alfredo sound?" He asks.

"Sounds great."

They stand there looking at each other uncomfortably for a few seconds
more until they say at the same time:

"I better get dinner ready."

"I better get in the shower." 

With that they turn, Xander towards the kitchen, Faith towards the
bathroom.

Good going Xander! The zeppo strikes again! A beautiful woman is in
your bedroom and asks you for your underwear and you freak out. Xander
berates himself. I better get back in there and show her that I am not
the complete idiot I seem to be. He turns back to his room and is about
to say something but stops as he sees Faithís form retreat into the
bathroom. She pulls off her shirt and tosses it to the ground. He gets
a good look at Faithís toned, smooth back the slight beginning of the
curve of her hips. Xander for the third time that night can only stare.
Turning around quickly back towards the kitchen he thinks to himself
that maybe it was time for him to take a shower as well, a nice long
cold one.

He needed to get his mind off of the situation so he decided to focus
entirely on his cooking. He pulled out a pot to boil water for the
pasta and a pan to fry up the chicken quickly before adding it to the
meal. In another pot he threw together the ingredients he needed for
the alfredo sauce. By the time Faith came out of his room dressed in
his clothes Xander was nearly done with the dish. 

Faith walks up to the counter and sits at one of the barstools. "Should
I be afraid or impressed that you are cooking dinner?"

"Definitely impressed. Iím a pretty good cook if I do say so myself."

"Right, I guess Iíll have to see for myself wont I?"

"Let me get the chicken off the burner and Iíll serve up the best
chicken fettuccine alfredo you have ever had."

As Xander reaches back behind him Faith sees the chicken is already off
the burner and says, "Isnít that the chicken there?"

Distracted for a moment Xander looks at what Faith sees and puts his
hand on the burner where the chicken had once been simmering on. Faith
can hear the sound of Xanderís flesh sizzle as it is burned by the hot
metal. The smell of it fills the kitchen. Xander yells out in pain and
quickly cradles his hand close to his body. Faith is around the counter
in a flash, she grabs a dishtowel and quickly soaks it with cold water.

"Xander give me you hand! We need to put this on it!"

"No! Iíll be fine, I have a first aid kit in the bathroom let me go get
it."

"Sure and how are you going to wrap your hand? Let me do it!" Faith
says not understanding why Xander didnít want her help. She grabs his
wrist and pulls it out. What she sees frightens her. Xanderís hand
begins to knit itself back together, the burns fade away under the tiny
little sparks the float on the wounds. Dropping the dishtowel she backs
away quickly. Looking to her right she picks up the knife Xander had
intended to use to cut the chicken with.

"What the fuck are you!" She screams at him.

"Faith listen, I can explainÖ" Xander tries to calm her down, he
doesnít understand why she is reacting the way she is.

"Yeah right, youíre just like the mayor arenít you?"

"The mayor?"

"Yes! He could heal fast too, get the fuck away from me!" She swipes
the blade at him trying to get him to back off.

"No! Faith its not like that at all!"

"I am NOT going to be used like that again! Back the fuck off or I
swear Iíll kill you!"

The mayor had used her, the mayor was invulnerable, and now she thought
he was the mayor. He needed to get the knife away from her before she
hurt herself. Inching closer to her he tries to coax her into swinging
the blade at him again. She does and Xander catches her arm just inside
of her wrist and pulls the knife away at the same time pinning her to
the counter.

"Faith! Look at me! I am not the mayor! I wouldnít ever do that to
you!"

"Why should I believe that?" She says through clenched teeth.

"This is why." Suddenly he backs off of her and they stare at each
other for a few seconds. "Iím going to show you something that I have
never shown anyone." Xander flicks his wrist and the inverts the blade.
He raises his hand and brings it down. Faith thinking that he is going
to kill her braces herself but realizes to late what he is going to do.

Faith screams, "Xander! NO!" but she is too late as the blade punctures
him between his ribs, through is lung and then his heart. The last word
that he whispers to Faith as she catches his in horror is "Stay."

There is so much blood as Faith pulls the knife out of Xander. She
holds her hand over the wound and use the other hand to try to
frantically push the blood back into his body hoping that it would
somehow heal itself. But she feels no pulse and he has stopped
breathing. She thinks to herself what have I done? Why did he kill
himself? The last word he said was Ďstay.í Even if Faith wanted to move
she couldnít. her body would not react to commands it just sat there
cradling the dead body of the man who only hours ago showed her nothing
but kindness. She realized that she was crying and tried to wipe the
tears from her face but only succeeded in smearing more of Xanderís
blood on her face. She sits there like that for a long time just
rocking the body back and forth as one would do to comfort a child,
only she was doing it to comfort herself. She was like that until
something caught her attention.

Small lightning bolts appeared over his chest wound as they had when he
had burned his hand. To her amazement the wound began to close itself
until there was nothing there. What startled her even more was when
touching the place where the wound had been she felt his heart begin to
beat. She was pretty much terrified when he sat up gasping for air.

Turning around to face Faith he says, "You stayed."

With those two words Faith punches him with a hard right hook that hits
Xander square in the jaw. The last thing that Xander thinks of is ĎShe
broke my jawí and for the second time that night he falls to his
kitchen floor unconscious.



Chapter 5

Faith is sitting on the floor next to Xanderís unconscious form. She is
quietly mumbling to herself, "I canít believe I hit him like that!" she
says, "I could have broken his neck!" She thinks a few moments and then
adds, "Itís not like it would kill him though."

Once again Faith is forced to wait because of her actions. "At least
Iím not in a coma." She says. Faith hates waiting she isnít a very
patient person opting rather to react to the situation around her. A
lot of good it did her she thinks. She looks over Xanderís prone form
and decides to keep herself busy until Xander wakes up. She carefully
picks up the knife and puts it into the sink. She then proceeds to
clean up the mess of blood using the dishtowel she had dropped earlier.
When the towel was saturated she would go back the to sink wring it out
rinse it and wring it out again. She did this for a few minutes until
most of the mess was cleaned up. 

As she was rinsing the towel she heard movement from behind her. Not
bothering to look back she says out loud, "Welcome back."

Xander sits up and groans, "You broke my jaw!"

"Serves you right, how did you think Iíd take it? Oh look my dead
friend just came back to life! Well goody!" She says sarcastically.
"Youíre lucky I didnít pick up the knife and stab you with it."

"Well I guess I lucked then, but you didnít need to break my jaw." He
says ruefully.

"Itís not like it would have killed you." She shoots back finally
turning around to face him.

"No it wouldnít have but it still hurt like hell." He grumbles.

"Look, Iím sorry I hit you. But itís your own fault! Dying in front of
someone and then coming back to life is something I donít see everyday
and Iím a fucking Slayer! You could have at least warned me."

"I did! I asked you to stay." He says trying to defend himself.

"Stay? How in the hell am I supposed to know that stay meant ĎDonít
worry Iím gonna die but Iíll be back?"

She could see Xander was searching for a rebuke but was failing
miserably. She sighed she didnít need or want to argue with him. "Why
donít you go and get cleaned up? Iím almost finished here."

Xander nods he stands there as if he wants to say something but thinks
better of it and walks off. Faith wipes up the remaining blood and
throws the towel into the sink. She takes a deep breath and leans
against the counter. She looks herself over and sees that sheíll need
to clean up as well blood is all over her shirt and warm-ups. 

Hearing the shower turn on she walks to Xanderís room to get new
clothes. She is about to walk into the room when she hears the bathroom
door open. Looking around the corner she sees Xander is standing in
from of his dresser with only a towel around his waist. She eyes him
appreciatively as she notes just how much he has filled out. His
shoulders were broader more muscular. His upper body had much more
definition than she remembers from their night together. Xander grabs a
pair of sweats and turns to walk back into the bathroom. Faith quickly
pulls back around the corner not wanting Xander to know that she was
looking at him. She stays there until she can hear the shower door open
and close.

"What are you doing girl?" She says to herself. "You donít need this
right now." She walks into the room opens the appropriate drawers and
retrieves a pair of sweats and another shirt. 

Quietly she opens the bathroom door intending to get a towel and get
out quietly however as she grabs the towel the rack falls off the wall
and lands with a loud clatter. The shower door opens a little and his
head pops out. Xander says with a grin, "Faith if you really wanted to
get my attention you could have just joined me in the shower." 

Not to be out done Faith walks right up to the shower door and brings
her face right next to his. "Well Xander," She says in a low throaty
voice, "you better be careful," the whole time her lips move closer and
closer to his, "or youíll get just what you want." Just when he thinks
she would lean in to kiss him she backs away.

Xander with his eyes closed leans forward looking for her.
Unfortunately he is holding onto the shower door for support with his
wet hand. His hand slips and he falls to the ground ungracefully. He
can hear Faithís voice as she exits the room chuckling, "You still owe
me some answers Xander! And you still owe me a meal!"

Xander proceeds to finish his shower with a smile on his face. He had
scared Faith earlier but true to form she had regrouped and was not
about to show that she had been rattled. It would make for a very
interesting diner.

Ö

After coming out of his room changed into sweats and a shirt he found
that Faith had changed out of her bloodied clothes. She was setting the
table with dishes and utensils. 

"Hey" He says to her.

"Hey" She says back.

There is a short silence between them as Faith continues to set the
table. Xander walks to the kitchen and pulls out a bottle of wine and
two wineglasses. It was going to be a long night and the wine would be
able to loosen him up enough to get through in one piece. He sets the
bottle down and picks up his cooking and puts it into the oven to heat
it up a bit before they eat. Picking up the bottle the glasses and a
corkscrew he walks to the dinning room table he finds that she had set
the place settings next to each other. That has to be a good sign he
thinks to himself. 

He holds up the glasses and the wine bottle and says, "I thought Iíd
bring a peace offering."

Faith raises his eyebrow and says, "Sure but I hope youíre not think of
taking advantage of me. I could probably drink you under the table."

"You could probably drink the old Xander under the table but then again
youíre not the old Faith either."

Faith looked uncomfortable at that last comment. It was true on so many
levels. She had been in a coma for so long and hadnít touched a drop of
alcohol since coming out. However ever since coming out she had made an
effort to change her ways. The way she acted, the way she thought, the
way she talked, everything that reminded her of her past and the
decisions that had made her life come crashing down on her. For the
time she was on the road she was able to do this with relative ease
because no one knew whom she was or what she had done. But now Xander
was someone from her past, someone who knew who she was and someone who
had seen her at her worst. Yet here he was standing next to her
offering her some wine. Looking at him she knew that much about him had
changed as well. He was the same person but he was sure of himself, the
hesitation she remembered from him was all but gone and what replaced
it was an assertive confidence that hung on him nicely.

"Youíre right, Iím not the same Faith I was then." She replied and
reached out and takes the wineglasses from him, "I guess weíll start
off slow tonight then."

Xander smiles and takes the corkscrew and opens the bottle of wine. He
pours the wine into the wineglasses in Faithís hands deftly twisting
the bottle so that it doesnít drip down the side as he finishes
pouring. Putting the bottle down he tells her, "Iím going to get the
food and weíll eat ok? Then Iíll sit here and answer all of your
questions."

Faith watches Xander as he leaves. She would finally get her answers.
She realized she was mistaken in thinking that Xander was like the
mayor. They were both able to heal incredibly fast but the mayor didnít
light up when a wound would heal. There was more to Xander now that
much was obvious but the change was for the better, it gave him
confidence and strength.

Xander returns with the food and scoops up a hearty portion and give it
to Faith. The food smells wonderful to her. The aroma is intoxicating,
the taste is perfect, and the company she was eating with was good. It
was the best dinner she had since leaving Sunnydale. Xander was looking
at her with a slight smirk.

"Whatís so funny?" She asks between bites.

"I had forgotten how much a Slayer eats, you just caught me off guard."

Faith just shrugs and continues to eat. "This is really good stuff you
made Xander." She tells him as he serves her another helping.

"Thanks, next time Iíll put a little more effort into it and then
youíll really be impressed."

She stops eating momentarily and looks at him, "Next time?" She says
playfully. "A little confidant of yourself there arenít you?"

"Not a little, a lot. You are free to stay with me as long as you like.
I can get my office turned into another room and Iíll move my stuff out
here. No questions asked."

"Why would you do that for me?"

Xander sat back into his chair and said to her, "Honestly? Iím not
sure. You are something from my past and seeing you stirs something in
me. I want you to stay. I need someone that I can talk to about who I
am and what I have seen. Not many people can relate to killing demons
and vampires."

"So youíd use me to ease your conscience?" She says warily.

Sighing Xander replies, "No youíd be a friend who I wouldnít hide
anything from. A friend who knows all of my past, no secrets, no lies,
everything."

The answer eases some of Faithís worries. "Everything?"

"Everything." He says with absolute certainty.

"Tell me what you are." She challenges. Xander sits there she can see
the apprehension on his face as he tries to articulate his next words. 

"I have never told anyone about this before and I donít know how to say
it so Iíll just come out and say it."

"Xander youíre rambling"

"Sorry." He takes a deep breath and says, "Iím immortal."

"Immortal as in demon possessed corpse?" Wary again

"No, Iím actually the exact opposite." 

"So you are an immortal as in one who lives forever?"

"That would about sum it up, yes. But there is a catch."

"That would be?"

"Iíll live forever as long as I have my head attached to my neck."

Confused she asks, "You lost me there. What do you mean you need to
keep your head attached?"

" Immortal is not an entirely true name. Iíll survive almost anything
and come back to life except for one thing."

"That being?"

"Beheading. The total and complete removal of my head from my body."

"Ouch. But why would you cut your own head off? If that is all it takes
you could live to see the end of time right?" She asks him.

"Well its not that simple." He starts thinking on how to approach to
the subject. Faith is staring at him, waiting for him to continue. "The
source of our power comes from what we call the quickening, for lack of
a better word, our souls." 

"Wait a minute, Ďourí and Ďweí? Youíre telling me that there are more
of your kind?" She asks. 

"Yes, lots more an entire race of people who have been living among
mortals since the beginning of civilization. Weíre just like regular
people Faith, we just live longer." He adds quickly to ease her fears.
She was taking it very well he thinks. 

"How long?" she asks amazed at the thought of living through the times
seeing histories unfold.

"The oldest is rumored to be at least five thousand years old."

"Five thousand years." She says just louder than a whisper. The number
is incomprehensible to her. As a Slayer her life expectancy is less
than twenty-five years.

"Hopefully Iíll survive a tenth of that time. Like I said before our
power comes from our quickening. If one of us looses their head their
quickening is released. If there is another immortal nearby the
quickening is transferred into that immortalís body. All that person
ever was becomes a part of you, adding to your strengths and memories.
The older you are the more powerful the quickening becomes, the more
quickenings you take the more powerful you become. Some actively hunt
other immortals just for quickenings, others try to avoid fights
whenever possible."

"So thatís why you carry a sword," Faith says remembering the fight in
the alley, "But why hunt at all? I figure after a few thousand years
you guys would just back off and stop. I mean if no one hunts,
everybody lives forever right?"

"Not exactly." Xander says thinking of the best way to say it. "Let me
put it this way. Slayers have a destiny to fight evil and otherworldly
threats to the world correct?" Faith nods. "Well immortals are the
same, we all share the same destiny; to be a part of the game." Seeing
that Faith was waiting for him to go on he continues, "The game states
that we will fight each other until there comes a point where there
will be only one immortal left. That immortal wins the prize."

"So you live your life being hunted watching your back? After a few
hundred years of that you think someone would go crazy or something."
She says to him.

"Unfortunately it has. If a quickening is so strong it can overwhelm
its recipient, push his consciousness below the surface tainting their
actions."

"What happens then?"

"If that person is strong enough their mind will regain control and the
quickening will be absorbed."

"If theyíre not?"

"Then they are like that until someone takes their head. Hopefully that
person will be strong enough to take the quickening and control it."

"How can you live like that? Always looking behind you wondering if the
next person looking to get his jollies off of you quickening?"

"Well its not that bad. We have an early detection system built into
ourselves. When one quickening gets within range of another it creates
a Ďbuzzí I guess you would call it a Ďspidey senseí at that point you
eith run away or you find the person you see what they want." 

"So what is it?" She asks. "What do you win if you survive till the
end?"

"No one knows. Only one thing is for sure though, at the end that
immortal will have the quickenings of all the immortals that ever
lived. Some say that is enough power to rule the world."

"But that isnít true though." Faith says.

"Of course not, no one knows for sure what the prize isÖ"

Faith cuts him off, "Thatís not what I meant, the winner at the end
couldnít possibly have the quickenings of all the immortals that ever
lived. You said that if someone is near by then the quickening is
transferred. What happens if no one is near by? Who does the quickening
go to?"

"Iím not sure, I guess that the quickening is dissipated and that
personís life would be wasted."

"What about you Xander? Have you taken many quickenings?"

"I have taken a few. I have never hunted anyone though and I gave each
immortal the chance to turn away and leave me be. But sometimesÖ"
Lightning strikes and thunder is heard a short time later.

Faith finishes his sentence for him. "Sometimes they just donít give
you a choice." Faith remembers her fight with Buffy. She hadnít given
her a choice back then either.

They sit there in companionable silence as they finish their meals. As
Xander is clearing the table he sees Faith stifle a yawn. "Faith you
can take my bed tonight. Tomorrow weíll get you some clothes and get a
bed and some furniture for your room."

"Are you sure?"

Xander chuckles, "Yeah Iím sure. Donít worry about it Iíll grab some
blankets out of the closet and Iíll sleep on the couch. Itís not like
it going to kill me." He says.

"I guess not." Faith replies with a smile. "I havenít had a good nights
sleep since I left Sunnydale. Good night Xander."

"Good night Faith."

Xander put his dishes in the dishwasher and puts the leftovers into a
container, which he puts into the refrigerator. He walks to the hallway
closet and grabs a couple of blankets. Walking back to the couch he
spreads the blankets out and gets ready to sleep. After he tosses and
turns he finds that he canít get into a comfortable position. 

Sitting up he says, "I need a pillow." Quietly he makes his way to his
room to get one of the spare pillows. As enters into his dark room he
can see Faithís form on the bed, he can make her face out every time
the lightning flashes outside. She is asleep, her face is peaceful the
worry and wariness that is always present on her face is gone. Asleep
she is delicate and beautiful. He stands there a moment longer and
decides that maybe he could live with a stiff neck in the morning. When
he reaches the couch he lies on the blankets and just closes his eyes.
Regardless of the uncomfortable position sleep comes to him quickly. He
looks forward to the morning.

Ö

Xander is awakened by the sounds of a struggle coming from his bedroom.
His first thoughts are of Faith and her safety. Had another Immortal
gotten to his room without him sensing it? No he was no more than
twenty feet away from the room. A burglar? He lived in a safe
neighborhood and he had an alarm system installed. Then what could it
be? He rushes to his room to find Faith thrashing in bed fighting with
an imaginary opponent in her dreams. She argues with her adversary
words coming out every so often as screams.

"NO!!!" she screams then mumbles more words he canít decipher, "You
canít! I wonít let you! NO!"

Xander goes to the bed trying to catch her arms so she wouldnít hit him
with her considerable strength. He had to wake her up without startling
her.

"Faith!" He raises his voice after he pins her arms above her head. He
tries to shake her out of her sleep. "Faith!" he yells again. This time
her eyes fly open her head turns from side to side trying to get her
bearings. As she realizes her hands are trapped above her head her knee
comes up reflexively into Xanderís side. His ribs break with the
contact. Groaning in pain he releases her and she springs off of the
bed and backs herself into a corner.

Xander is able to hiss out, "Faith!"

The third time her name is said she remembers where she is and who she
is with. Her face over come with worry she returns to the bed to look
over Xanderís injuries. "Oh my God! Iím sorry! Iím so sorry! Are you
ok?" Her hand goes down to where she had kneed him and hisses in pain.

"Remind me never to surprise or startle you ok?" He says through
clenched teeth. "You were having a nightmare and I had come in here to
wake you up."

"Are you ok?" She asks again.

Xander sits up in the bed and stretches feeling his bones knit back
together. "Iíll be a little sore for a while but Iíll be ok." Looking
over he sees her against the headboard of the bed arms around her knees
hugging them close rocking slowly.

"Iím sorry." She says quietly. As she continues to rock herself.

Xander knows the actions very well. It is the act of self-consoling. He
had sat in that very same position the night after killing Jesse. He
had asked for forgiveness from a picture of Jesse. He had rocked
himself to sleep that night. He did the act several times in his life,
when Ms Calendar died, when Kendra died, after he had died the first
time. He had nightmares about drowning for weeks after dying after the
first few nights it had almost become habit, if not for Methos and
Cassandra he would not have made past those first few weeks. Looking at
Faith he could tell that the dreams had plagued her often, most likely
every night. So Xander did the only thing he could think of to help
her, "You want to talk about it?"

Looking up from her position she weakly nods no. Xander knows better
however and continues to push the issue. "How long?"

Faith looks up again with tear brimmed eyes, "Excuse me?"

"How long had it been since you had a complete nights sleep?"

Her head is still held up so that he can see her face but she is no
longer looking at him. She continues to rock. "I havenít been able to
sleep through a whole night since I left Sunnydale." She says barely a
whisper.

"Why?" He asks softly, gently coaxing her to relax more.

She still isnít facing him, "The dreams come every night." She says
quietly.

"What do you dream of? The last fight with Buffy?" Xander says hoping
to hit the nail on the head. The more she could share the better.

"NO!" She yells loudly startling Xander. The rain outside is pouring
down hard now.

"Then of what? What do you dream of?" He says gently.

"I dream of me."

"I donít understand."

"When I had first come to Sunnydale I was so angry. My life was hard
and I had seen my watcher murdered. After killing the monster
responsible for that I felt some of the anger fade away. But things
happened no matter how hard I tried I couldnít fit into group you
know?" 

Xander nods and signals her to continue.

"By that time the mayor had approached me. I had refused at first. But
things just kept getting worse and worse and there was the mayor
telling me things. Telling me how you all hated me, how I would never
fit in and they would never understand. I didnít realize it at the time
but he was using my anger against me. Towards the end my anger had
consumed me. I wasnít the person I knew I was. I was a cold-blooded,
uncaring killer willing to carry out any orders the mayor had wanted.
Faith was gone, I was just a tool." Faith was crying by this time. She
had held all this to herself for so long and now that she was able to
let it all go she would stop until she was finished.

"It was like there were two of me. I could see what the other was doing
but I could do anything about it, revenge and hate was all there was.
Nothing more." Pausing to take a breath and to wipe her face. "Buffy
wouldnít have won that last fight." She stated facing him now.

Xander was surprised at the revelation. Buffy had told them that she
had no other choice that night.

Seeing his confusion she explained. "I was always the better fighter
Xander. She didnít have the heart to kill me Xander, she never did. The
person I was would have killed her in a heartbeat. I could have easily
dodged the last blow and pushed Buffy over that edge but something
happened. The hatred inside of me was gone suddenly. I donít know what
had happened to the mayor, you guys must have distracted him enough
that I was able to regain control. Suddenly I was myself again and
instead of dodging the last blow I forced myself to stand my ground and
take what I deserved. While falling I hoped that I would die so I
wouldnít have to explain what happened. It would have been easier that
way."

"But you woke up with no one to turn to or anyone to listen to your
story. So you ran." He finished for her.

"Iíve been trying to prove that Iím not that person anymore. I try to
help everyone that I can. But no matter who I had helped or how much
good I had done the dreams come every night. I would dream of the evil
things I did. I would fight with my alter-self you know? But she would
win every time. I tried to stop her Xander, really I did." She says.

"But you did stop her Faith. You are living proof of that now. In time
the dreams will pass. Mine still come once in a while but they get
easier to deal with over time."

"Easy for you to say, you have forever to deal with them."

"That doesnít make it any easier to deal with though. Iíll be here if
you need someone to talk to. I know what itís like."

"Thanks." She says, she is no longer crying she has stopped rocking and
for the second time that night she feels safe. Thanks to Xander. 

Xander smiles warmly at Faith and says, "Youíre welcome. Iím going back
to my couch, if you need me just holler ok?" Faith nods. 

Xander gets up and starts to walk out of his room. He is almost to the
door when he hears Faith call his name. "Xander?" She says quietly.

Turning around he says, "Yeah?"

"Do you mind if you slept here tonight? With me?"

Xander couldnít resist, "I hope you intentions are honorable." He says
with a grin. The rain outside continues to fall but now it is gently
taping against the window.

"Of course they are." She grins back. Slowly the grin fades and she
says her next words quietly. "I just donít want to be alone tonight."

"Youíll wonít be alone anymore, I promise." He walks over to the stand
holding up his television and opens the cabinet built into the stand.
Inside is a stereo, she realizes the stands holding up the potted
plants in his room are actually speakers. 

"I hope you donít mind. I like to have music play while I sleep."

"I donít mind, what do you have?"

"You like jazz?"

"Mmmmm, I love it," She says sleepily.

"Then youíll like this." He presses play on the CD player and music
fills the room. The dulcet tones of a piano fill the room quietly. The
chords are slow, relaxing and beautiful. Then quietly after the first
bar a muted trumpet is heard over the piano and the quiet rhythms of a
drum. Xander makes his way to the bed and lies next to Faith. She is
already half asleep but his warmth in the bed draws her closer to him
and she repositions herself with her head on his chest using him as a
pillow. He watches the rise and fall of her chest and knows that she is
asleep. He watches her beautiful face one last time before he turns off
the light. Turning back he can make out her silhouette. Then the
gravely voice of Louis Armstrong replaces the muted trumpet he was
obviously playing.

You go to my head

And you linger like a haunting refrain

And I find you spinning Ďround in my brain

Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne.

You go to my head

Like a sip of sparkling burgundy brew

And I find the very mention of you

Like he kicker in a julep or two.

The thrill of the thought

That you might give a thought to my plea

Casts a spell over me

Till I say to myself

Get a hold of yourself!

Canít you see that it never can be?

You go to my head

With a smile that makes my temperature rise

Like a summer with a thousand Julys.

You intoxicate my soul with your eyes.

Though Iím certain that this heart of mine

Hasnít a ghost of a chance

In this crazy romance,

You go to my head. 

You go to my head

You go

To 

My 

Head

Xander hears the last chords of the song diminish and thinks that maybe
he does stand a chance and the good olí Louis just gave up to easily.
With those thoughts in his head he looks one last time at the face
sleeping on his chest until he too drifts off to sleep.


Chapter 6

Dearset now O soul,

Walk out with me toward the unknown region,

Where neither  ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?

W.W 1881

 

Sunnydale

"Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!" An attractive blonde young woman says to
herself as walks towards her dorm room as fast as she can. She had seen
a bunch of guys follow her out of the local club they looked as if they
were drunk. She had some self-defense training but she doubted that she
could take on three of them at once so she opted for a quick retreat.
She reaches into her pocket and feels her keys. Remembering her
training she grips them is such a way so that the keys were poking out
between her fingers. 

Looking behind her while turning the corner she runs right into one of
the men following her. She lets out a startled scream as she falls
back.

"Well look at what we have here!" The he sneers.

"Please donít hurt me." She whimpered.

"Please donít hurt me!" He mimicked "Donít worry I would hurt you
little girl. Iím just going to kill you!"

He was close enough for the woman to kick him in the groin. With her
would be attacker bending over and grunting she takes her hand out of
her pocket and swipes at his face. What happens next isnít what she
expects. The man grunts and looks down, when he looks back up his face
changes. His eyes are yellow and his forehead has ridges and he is
growling. 

Taking his hand and tracing the cuts on his cheeks he says, "Now that
wasnít nice." Taking the blood and licking it off of his fingers he
says, "Iím really going to enjoy killing you."

"I wouldnít count on that." Another voice said behind him. Looking back
he sees a young girl looking at him holding a stake. "Slayer!" he
hisses.

"The one and only" She says with a flourish. Standing waiting for the
vampire to make the first move she becomes impatient and says to him,
"Are you just going to stand there or do I have to walk over there and
kick you undead ass!"

The Vampire chuckles, "Mark! Devon!" He yells out into the shadows,
"Kill her!"

When he doesnít hear them answer he says again only with less
confidence, "Didnít you hear me! Kill her! Mark? Devon?" 

Another voice answers him. "If you are talking about your two friends
back there they wont be coming anytime soon. Actually they wonít be
coming at all." A man says walking out of the shadows. He is wearing
all black and also carries a stake.

The Vampire screams in rage running full speed at the girl taking a
wide swing hoping to take her out with one punch. She leans back and
the punch misses by the narrowest of margins. As she leans back she
inverts the stake and brings her hand up to her right shoulder. Leaning
forward and twisting her body she brings the stake out like a dagger
piercing through clothes and skin penetrating the Vampireís heart.
Within seconds the Vampire is dust like his brethren. The man and woman
walk back to the girl who is still on the ground.

"Are you ok?" She asks looking her over for any injuries.

"Yeah, I think so."

"You should get going before anything else happens." The man says. "You
want us to walk with you?"

Shaking her head she says, "No, Iíll be fine. Iím only a few blocks
from here anyway. Thanks for the save." The woman walks off leaving her
to rescuers alone.

"Well Buffy, another night of saving the innocent is over. Do you want
to head over to the Dennyís to get a bite to eat?"

"Yeah Iím starved! I think I left my books in your car so I can study a
little while weíre there." She says to Riley

"And afterwards?" He asks

"Weíll just have to wait and see." She says with a smile leaning into
him for a kiss.

Ö

The young woman they had saved was making good time she was almost
home. However she would never make it as a man stepped into her path.
It was almost like he had appeared out of nowhere. 

"Jesus! Not a gain! Look three other guys just tried the same thing and
theyíre in pretty bad shape so just leave me alone!" She tries to bluff
him.

"Then you wonít have any problem dealing with me." He says with evil
smile. "Why donít you try me?"

The woman again tries to use her keys as a weapon lashes out against
the man in front of her. She thinks she is going to hit him when his
hand comes up and grabs hold of her wrist. She screams in pain as he
slightly twists her arm and squeezes harder. 

Almost casually he throws her down onto the sidewalk. As she gets up he
can hear him chuckling. "You have spirit!" He adds with low voice,
"Good!" He walks toward her.

Turning around to run she sees two other men cutting off her retreat.

Turing back to the first man she starts to say, "If you wantÖ" but she
never finishes her sentence. The words are caught in her mouth as she
feels a cold intrusion in her stomach. Looking down she sees a long
piece of sharp steel protruding out of her stomach. The man is grinning
maniacally as he pulls the sword out. Only when the sword is removed
does she feel the burning pain. Her hands go to her stomach trying to
keep her blood from spilling out onto the pavement. The man coolly
flicks the blood off of his sword as she drops to the ground. 

The last words she hears before she dies are "Prepare her." Her eyes
gloss over as her life bleeds out onto the pavement. The two other men
grab hold of the body and drag her off into the darkness.

For many the morning represents a new day of life. The morning is a
time of rebirth when Godís creatures can once again roam the Earth
bathed in light. Morning is the start of a new day that marks the
continuous movement of time. As the sun rises over the town of
Sunnydale light falls upon a grisly scene. In the middle of one the
parks lays a body that has been mutilated in a horrific manner. The
hair that crowns the head once blonde is now matted a deep red, the
color of blood. The body is naked and pink flesh can been seen through
her stab wound on her stomach prominent against the pale skin. 

Tear streaks can be seen on the sides of her face, only there arenít
any tears, just blood. Where her eyes had once been are now dark holes
unseeing. Her mouth is open in a silent scream to the heavens. Inside
her mouth her tongue is also missing leaving only a stub of flesh in
the back of her throat. 

However that is not the worst of it. She is lying face up and to her
sides are gruesome imitations of wings. They are made from her lungs
pulled from her body flattened and spread out. Her rear ribs are used
to accentuate the look of the wings looking like talons protruding from
the tips of her wings. That is exactly how the early morning joggers
had found the body.

When Giles shows them the pictures Buffy falls silent as she recognizes
the girl from the night before. She had saved her only to have her fall
victim to something infinitely worse. 

Things were not boding well in the Sunnydale. Something big was going
to happen and it would happen very soon.

Ö 

Morning comes all to quickly for Xander. He feels a warmth against his
body looking down he sees Faithís head lying down on his chest. Looking
over to his dresser he sees that it is only six-thirty. Carefully
reaching over he turns of his alarm that is set to go off at a quarter
till seven. After doing so he just lies there reveling in the feel of
Faith on his chest. Slowly he moves to get off of the bed without
waking her.

Xander needed to start his morning workout. He thought against running
this morning because if Faith wakes up to an open house she might freak
out. Walking to his kitchen and opening the door that leads to his
basement turned workout room he walks down the stairs leaving the door
open. If Faith wakes up she would be able to hear him downstairs.

He goes through his entire warm up exercise and removes his shirt
before starting his kata. It was one of the first forms that Adam had
taught him. He had claimed that the form was passed to him from a
Tibetan monk he had met a long time ago, the form promoted clarity and
balance. Or at least that is what he had claimed it did. With Adam you
could never tell how much of the truth you were getting. When he had
seen both Adam and Cassandra do the kata the fluidity and preciseness
of the movements mesmerized him. After learning the kata he believed
what Adam had told him, every time he does this kata he feels centered
and calm. 

Closing his eyes he moves from movement to movement, his muscles had
memorized the steps long ago and were now second nature. Each movement
is slow and deliberate. His balance transferring from one foot to
another with only a moment where his weight is equally distributed
between the steps. He had found that he would be able to cycle through
the kata a couple times before finishing his work out. Xander closes
his eyes and lets the kata take its natural course.

Light filters in between the blinds and shines on Faithís face. The
warmth and the light slowly wake Faith. Grumbling she pulls the blanket
over her head to block out the sun, but the damage was already done she
wouldnít be able to get back to sleep. Stretching under the sheets she
finds that she is alone in the bed. She pulls the blankets off of her
and steps out of bed. Stretching she realizes that she feels rested,
more rested than she has felt in quite awhile. She remembers Xander
staying with her throughout the night and his body warm against hers.
Looking back on her life she cannot remember where she had just slept
with another person, no sex, just sleep and it is something that
comforts her for some reason. Leaning over she touches the indentation
his head had left on his pillow. Her fingers linger on the spot for a
short while feeling that the spot is still warm. 

"He couldnít have left too long ago she says to herself." Getting up
she decides to look for him in the house. She walks past the Ďcomputer
roomí as she had dubbed it mentally and sees that he is not there. She
walks over to the dinning room and sees that he isnít there as well.
Walking into the kitchen she sees that one of the doors is open. 

Peering through the door she sees a set of stairs going down to what
she could only guess is a basement. Faith goes to the drawers and opens
them one at a time until she finds a drawer with some rubber bands.
Finding what she wants she ties her hair back and quietly makes her way
down the stairs. What she sees takes her breath away and surprises her
at the same time. Xander is by himself, muscles taut from the
controlled movements he is making. There is a slight sheen on his skin
showing that he had already cycled through the movements multiple times
already. The amount of balance, grace and control he shows is violently
at odds with her memories of the old Xander, many things have indeed
changed.

Looking around the room she is able to see weapons on the walls.
Swords, staffs, punching pads are found on various shelves and pegs. In
the corner she sees a punching bag hanging from a stand. In another
corner is a speed bag. The floor is polished hardwood like what would
be found on a dance floor or a dance studio.

Her visual exploration is interrupted by the sound of Xanderís voice.
"Hey, good to see youíre awake. Sleep well?"

Turning back to look at Xander she replies smiling, "Very. Thank you
for last night."

Taking a sip of water he nods, "Donít mention it, I know how you feel.
If you need to talk some more about it Iíd be more than happy to
oblige." He says to her with a smile. "You hungry? I make a mean
omelet."

"If thatís a Denver omelet then youíre on!" She says back thinking that
she would like to share a lot with Xander.

"Good! You can help me then. Iíll have you use your deft Slayer
reflexes to make quick work of some veggies and ham and after breakfast
weíll go get you some clothes." He says while walking towards her.

"Xander...IÖ" She stammers out wanting to thank him for his kindness
and generosity but her tongue is not listing to her head.

Turning to face her he tells her, "Faith, I meant what I said last
night, no questions asked." Smiling again he adds, "Besides you canít
be wearing my clothes all the time now can you? Think of all the
laundry Iíll have to do by the end of the week!" Chuckling he grabs her
hand and leads her back up the stairs.

Faith considers her hand in Xanderís. It feels right to her, it feels
good as she squeezes his hand gently. When she feels him squeeze back
her heart beat quickens. Xander on the other hand was asking himself if
he did the right thing by taking her hand but the quick, soft squeeze
puts his mind at ease.

Ö

Across town Methos is helping Cassandra sit up, she had woken up a few
minutes ago and was understandably incredibly stiff. Massaging her
shoulders Methos asks her, "Do you remember anything?"

"Bits, nothing very substantial. I remember seeing Darius though and a
few others though, Iím sure as to their meaning in the vision. I saw
swords I think we were fightingÖsomething. People were dying Methos,
painful horrible deaths." She says closing her eyes trying to focus on
the vision. "There were more of us fighting, young like Alexander.
There was someone else though, someone with Alexander. A girl, her hair
is like mine and there is something special about her. Thatís it right
now Iím afraid." 

Methos nods slowly, "Well the girl you saw is named Faith."

"Faith? How do you know?"

"I had sent Xander to get some books to research a few things that you
had said while you were having you vision. When he returned he returned
with her with him. A very beautiful young lady who happens to be a
slayer."

"So that would explain her presence in my vision." She adds quickly,
"What did I say while I had my vision."

"Well you had spoken the words in an old Celtic dialect so I had a hell
of a trying to find all possible combinations. But simply put you said
ĎHellmouthí and Ďdestructioní. I couldnít find much but it is at least
a start. But it looks like weíll have to pay a visit to Xanderís old
neighborhood to see this thing through."

"The Hellmouth?"

"Yes or as modern man has dubbed it: Sunnydale. Iím not completely sure
yet, you cannot believe how many prophecies regarding the Hellmouth
refer to destruction."

"But how many prophecies mention immortals? Death? A witch? Or a
combination of all of the above?"

Methos sits still for a second looking for the words to say next. "Iíll
give you three guesses." Is all he says.

Closing her eyes and praying that her instincts are wrong she says her
next word with trepidation. "One."

Opening her eyes she looks at Adam and he just nods slowly. One. A
number so specific that there was no leeway as to the possibility of
being wrong though she hoped she was. "And the portents? How many have
come to pass already?"

"A few." He says walking over to the dining room table. He picks up a
note pad, some papers and walks back to the couch. "Iíll just point out
the particular points of interest. I canít believe that if someone
could foresee the potential end of the world that they would write
bloody limericks about it, couldnít just one prophecy be written in
prose?" He says bringing a smile to Cassandraís face.

"Here you can see "Ancient enemies turned lovers."

"That could mean anybody." Cassandra says.

"True, I had thought so as well but if look at this passage here I had
originally thought that the reference was to Hades and Persephone but
after going over it one more time it translates to Death and
Priestess." He pauses for the briefest of seconds, "Now you tell me if
that could be anybody?"

"Fine," She concedes, "What else has passed?" 

"One of the signs points out to a Ďsanguine raptorí I took that at face
value but after seeing this online this morning a quickly reassessed my
opinion." Handing her a print out which read on top Grisly Murder. "I
had hacked into the local police database and was able to come up with
a copy of the report. It looks like the girl was killed first by a stab
wound to her abdomen, but look at the pictures of how they found the
body." He says handing her the pictures.

Cassandra paled when she sees the pictures. "A blood eagle? Who could
do such a thing?"

"Iím not sure but it is going to happen again in about a week."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes later in the passage there is mention of a ceremony that will take
place, it is called the Ďawakening."

"I think I remember reading about it. I think that it is supposed to
allow the person who casts the spell siphon off power from a source and
add it to their own, awakening vast stores of power from within."

"Exactly, but here that power source is the Hellmouth itself. All the
energies of hell focused onto one being would make that person all but
invincible. By stealing energy from the Hellmouth you in turn open up
the portal and allow whatever is on the other side cross over.
Unleashing hell on earth."

"How does that tell you that someone will do this again a week?"

"This version of the ceremony is very precise. It calls for the eyes
and tongue of three pure women. In order for the sacrifice to be valid
the parts need to be harvested exactly one week apart, no more, no
less. After the parts are harvested and prepared the ceremony must take
place exactly three days after that. So that gives a total of three
weeks and three days."

"So the blood eagle is just a ruse to throw off whoever is profiling
the perpetrator."

"Exactly. Now at the end where you are given the possible outcomes of
the prophecy we are given two. Option one the bad guys win and the
world as we know it comes to an end."

"And option two?"

"We stop Armageddon."

"Meaning weíre going to take a trip to Sunnydale." She says flatly. 

"Right, Iím going to give Xander a call and explain the situation to
him. Iíll need a few hours to setup some identities for all of us and
to secure some housing."

"Iíll get our things together and contact some friends of mine who
could help provide us with more mystical information once we get to
Sunnydale."

The two ancients talk a little while more before going about their
tasks. They are now part of a great struggle that will tax them
physically and emotionally. They now can only do what they can, prepare
for the worst. Hopefully they have helped their young ward enough to be
ready for the battles ahead. 

Ö

Xander and Faith pull up to his house in his í57 Cadillac. They had
just gotten back from the mall. Xander true to his word took Faith out
and bought her a new wardrobe. After breakfast he had cleared out his
office and set it up again outside in the living room. He had called a
furniture place ordered a queen-size bed some dressers and some lamps
for Faithís room. It had taken them less than an hour to deliver and
setup the things he had ordered. Although money canít buy happiness it
can get you results if you want them quickly. Faith, being the
practical down to earth girl she is, was finished shopping fairly
quickly. A few pairs of jeans, many tops, a leather jacket and a pair
of leather pants. They had also bought sheets and a comforter for her
new bed. Xander thought that Faith would buy something red or black but
she had surprised her again by buying sheets that were a ivory color
and a comforter with a forest green and ivory pattern.

Xander was a little uncomfortable when she had taken him into a
Victoria Secrets to get some underwear. She had taken every possible
opportunity to embarrass him asking how he thought she would look in
some of the racier lingerie. Most of the time he would mumble Ďfineí or
Ďgreat.í The saleswomen all knew what she was doing and they all had
chuckled and grinned at his expense.

What had really surprised Xander was when Faith had taken him into one
of the more formal boutiques. He had asked her what she wanted at that
store and her reply came, "I hope you donít expect me to go out in
jeans and leather all of the time do you? A girl has got to have
something when she wants to dress up. Besides you said you would buy
whatever I wanted."

She and the boutique owner went into the back and left Xander waiting
in the store for about an hour. When they came back she had several
packages and told Xander that she would be getting them. He asked her
what were they she only said with a grin "Itís a surprise."

Upon entering the house Faith went to her room put her stuff away. As
she was putting her clothes into her closet and dresser she sits back
and looks at her room. Her own room she thinks to herself. She thinks
back to the places she had to stay in her life. All of them run down,
dirty and cheap. The one place she had stayed in that was nice was with
her old watcher before she was killed. After that it was a string of
run down motels. For once she had her own room, new clothes and someone
to share her good fortune with. Lying down in her bed she closes her
eyes finally contented with her life. Opening her eyes she decides that
she can put her clothes away later and goes to see what Xander is
doing.

Xander meanwhile is in his kitchen looking through his pantry for
something to make for lunch. Picking out some ingredients he walks out
of his pantry to put the food down on the counter. Walking back to his
refrigerator he decides to call is messaging service to see if he
missed any calls.

"Please dial your password and press pound." The recorded voice said to
him. He dials his password. "Thank you. You have one unheard voice
message. To listen to your message press one." He presses one and his
message is played.

"Xander, its Adam. Cassandra is awake and she is fine. Something has
come up and it involves you and your friend Faith as well. Get packed
and come over, weíll be gone for a few weeks. Weíll explain when you
get here."

He hangs up the phone and goes to his cell phone that he had forgotten
on the counter that morning before going out with Faith. It had seven
missed calls and a voice mail. He didnít need to check the times or the
message to know that it was Adam. "Damn." He says under his breath.
"Damn!" He had wanted to spend some time with Faith but it looks like
they would have to do that on the way to Adamís.

"Whatís wrong?" Faithís voice comes from the kitchen door worry on her
face.

Turning around he says to her, "Somethingís come up." He says holding
up the phone.

"What?"

"I donít know but Adam says that we both need to be there. We need to
pack our bags."

"I donít have any bags though."

"Then weíll just have to share," he says over his shoulder as he makes
his way to his room.

Faith makes her way back to her room. "I guess I wonít be putting
everything away after all." She says as she gathers parts of her new
wardrobe together.

Ö

Xander and Faith pull up to the house thirty minutes later. Faith had
asked him what was going on and he answered truthfully that he didnít
know what was going on only that Adam had told him to pack a bag and to
bring her with him.

Walking to the house he able to feel both Adam and Cassandra inside.
When Cassandra opens the door he feels relieved that she is all right. 

"How do you feel?" He asks her.

"Much better now. Thank you."

"Are you sure?" his concern is evident.

"Iím sure." She says, "Although Adam and myself have taught Alexander
many things my lessons of social graces seem to have not stuck with
him." She says facing Faith.

Xander embarrassed for not introducing them earlier, "Cassandra this is
Faith. Faith, Cassandra."

"A pleasure to meet you." Cassandra says, "Please come in."

Walking into the house Faith says with a smile, "It nice to meet you
too." There was something about the woman that radiated off of her, a
sense of dignity that hung in the air. "Iím sorry, I didnít get to meet
you last night."

"No I was indisposed at the time, I had a spell." Cassandra replied.

Faith nods not quite understanding the meaning of her words. She and
Xander follow Cassandra into the house. They find Adam sitting in the
living room looking at papers and books strewn across the table.
Looking up he sees that both Xander and Faith are here.

"Good, you made it." Adam says.

"Adam whatís up?" Xander asks.

Before he continues Adam asks glancing at Faith, "Does she know?"

"Yes, she knows what I am." 

"Excuse me, but I am in the room here. If you have a question you could
at least direct it at me." Faith says with annoyance.

They both mumble sorry slightly embarrassed of their actions. Cassandra
picks up and says, "Youíll have to excuse them. They are sweet most of
the time but once in a while they tend to get hardheaded. If Alexander
has trusted you with his secret then we can trust you with ours."

"You both are like Xander arenít you?" Faith asks.

"Yes. We were the one that found him after his first death." She looks
at her and then says, "Since you know of our secret would you like to
tell us yours?"

Faith looks from at the couple in front of her, then to Xander. Seeing
the look of betrayal on her face Xander interjects, "I didnít tell
them, I swear."

Cassandra quickly adds, "Faith we trust you enough to tell you our
secret, a secret that could possibly endanger our lives as well as
Xander's. You sharing your secret with us shows that you trust us as
well."

Faith looks at Xander who nods slightly. "I am a slayer. A girl who has
be given special abilities to fight vampires and demons." She says
evenly. Looking directly at Cassandra she asks, "How did you know?"

"Adam told me this morning." She replies

"Okay." She says now turning to Adam, "How did you know?"

"I could sense your presence. I have met a few slayers in my time, you
tend to give off a very distinct presence." Adam explains.

"When I was walking up to the house yesterday I could feel a strange
sensation coming from you too. Youíre not a vampire youíre like Xander
but I canít sense Xander but I could sense you yesterday." Faith stops
and closes her eyes in concentration, "But right now I canít sense you
at all."

Cassandra asks her, "You can focus your gifts on a single person or
area?"

"Oh yeah, Buffy and me would be able to do that kind of stuff all the
time."

"Buffy?" Adam asks curiously.

"The other slayer," Xander says and quickly adds, "Iíll explain later."

"Very well then," Adam says accepting the answer, "The reason why you
canít sense me now is because Iím muting my quickening."

"Muting?" Xander asks curiously.

"Yes Iíll demonstrate, this may be a bit uncomfortable so Iíll do it
quickly." Adam sits back slightly and takes a deep breath. What hits
Faith is like nothing she had ever felt from a demon or a vampire. It
was as if someone had taken her spine and turned it to a block of ice.
She doubles over slightly clutching her stomach and forcing her
breakfast to stay where it was supposed to stay. She is able to see
Xander momentarily clutch his head and Cassandra sits where she is
unfazed. As soon as it had hit her it was gone. Sitting up she gasps
for air as if the wind had been knocked out of her. She feels Xanderís
reassuring hands on her shoulders as she slowly regains control of her
breathing.

"Damn." She says when she has half a breath looking at Adam wide-eyed.

"Jesus Adam!" Xander exclaims, "What the hell was that?"

"That my young friend is but a fraction of my true power. I am able to
mask my quickening allowing me to hide quickly and avoid fights.
Cassandra is able to do the same thing," Adam pauses slightly and looks
at Xander, "and so can Xander."

Xander looks at him startled. "I can?"

"Yes, albeit for you it looks like it is an involuntary action where I
have to consciously mask myself."

"How do you know?" Xander asks.

"I can feel it." Adam replies. "I think it has something to do with
where you came from."

"Sunnydale?"

"Yes, which is actually why I had asked you to meet us here." Adam
takes out his research and begins to tell them everything he had found
out. He tells them about the sacrifices and the portents that have come
to pass and the time they have left in order to stop the coming
destruction.

Faith is the first to ask a question, "One of the signs mentioned Death
and a Priestess. I understand that you are the Priestess,"directing the
statement to Cassandra then she asks Adam, "But I donít see how you
could be Death."

Adam mulls over his words quickly, "I have been alive a long time. With
that long life comes opportunity to make many decisions, many of them
which I regret in retrospect." Adam pauses for a second, "One such
decision led me to become a monster. Have you ever read the bible?" He
asks her.

"Not really." Faith answers truthfully.

"In the bible the book of Revelations describes the end of time. In
that book the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse heralds the
end of time." Another slight pause, "Those horsemen are modeled after
myself and three other men. We were the scourge of three continents
cities cowered at our feet and I," he pauses closes his eye for a brief
second before opening them to continue, "I was Death." Adam sits back
and lets his words sink in to her mind. "Since then I have made a great
effort to change, I am no longer that person and have spent a good
majority of my life to payback all that I have taken. I donít expect
you to understand, just to know that I am not that person any more."

Faith nods and says, "I understand more than you think." She then goes
on to tell the story of her life. Growing up in Boston, her calling as
a slayer and the events that led up to her coma. At the end of her
story her eyes were watering and her breath was becoming ragged. She
half expected them to throw her out of their home rejecting her. What
happened next surprised and comforted her. Cassandra go up from the
chair she was sitting on and sits next to Faith. Cassandra reaches her
arms around Faith and brings her into a warm embrace. Faith stiffens at
first but then softens and buries her face into her shoulder silent
tears running down her face.

"Shhhh child," Cassandra coos, "Itíll be alright, youíll see. Remind me
to tell you how easily forgiveness comes, even between the deadliest of
enemies."

Nodding and wiping the tears from her face she says, "Iím curious, why
did you think I needed to be there as well?" 

"Iíll answer that question." Cassandra says. "Even though Iím Immortal
I also have other attributes that are unique to the human race."

"Such as?"

"Second sight among other abilities. Last night I had a vision. That
vision is what led Adam to find all this." She gestures to Adamís
research. "In that vision I saw many things. I saw Adam, Alexander,
myself and you." She let the words hang for a moment. "I believe that
Alexander has come to us for a reason just as you have come to him. I
do not pretend to know or understand what those reasons are but I do
know that we are all going to play a part in this and if we donít then
horrible things will happen."

Silence follows as they all contemplate her words. Again it is Faith
who breaks the silence. "When do we leave?"

Adam smiles at Xander then at Faith. "If you two packed your bags like
I had asked we will leave immediately. But first weíll have to make
some changes.

Xander looks a little uncomfortable and says, "Changes?"

Adam just smiles and nods.

Ö

Sunnydale had certainly changed dramatically. A university had brought
forth a large boom in the small suburban city. Industry and business
had sprouted up throughout the city attracted by the University hoping
to glean new graduates with new ideas looking for the next innovator to
revolutionize the world. To cater to this crowd a new center of
activity had evolved a center full of chic restaurants and social
clubs. All of them designed to draw in the younger crowd and the neo-
jet setters that had begun to flock to the city.

Inside one such hot spot a couple sits at a table. They are eating the
Californian-style meal, which is colorful, sweet and sour, and prepared
with the greatest care. Such a meal is very costly, something that you
would see on television. However that doesnít matter to this couple as
they enjoy their meal. 

The man is wearing expensive clothes. A ribbed brown shirt contrasts
with the ivory colored slacks. His brown leather jacket sits neatly
folded across the back of his chair. His hair is short with streaks of
blond as if his hair had once been colored yellow but now his natural
color was gaining dominance once again. His lean muscular body is
framed perfectly by his clothing. His hazel eyes focus intently on his
dining partner across the table.

His partner is a beautiful young lady. Her olive green dress is cut
perfectly for her figure. The neckline drapes casually below her
collarbone leaving her neck exposed, her hair only accentuates her neck
even more. It is worn up tonight, nothing elaborate, but still elegant.
Her hair also shows the light streaks which is the trend with her
generation. Her entire ensemble shows her beauty but does not undermine
her confidence. Her green eyes focus on her dinning partner as they
discuss their day and the events that have led up to that point.

To those watching them out of the corners of their eyes note an air of
royalty around them. The few in the restaurant who had met them earlier
in the week know little of Harrison and Amanda Pierce. Harrison is
Vice-President and heir to a large company that was looking to relocate
to Sunnydale. He and his father Ben were both in the area looking at
potential sites to house their business. Father and Son collectively
were reported to be some of the wealthiest people alive. In terms of
familiar wealth only the Rockefellers and the Waltons could top the
Pierces. Each had bought a house in the area in anticipation of the
move. Sunnydale had exactly what they needed, low property values in a
very nice area.

Harrison or Harry as those he had introduced himself to lived with his
wife Amanda. They had met in college. They shared a political science
course together and met in their discussion group. After a late night
study session they knew that they wanted to be together.

After an hour of dinning and a bottle of wine both decide it is time to
retire.

"Harry Iím tired, letís go home." Amanda said.

"Sure thing." Waving to the waiter he signals for the check. Upon
receiving the check he pulls out his Visa and pays for the bill plus
twenty-five percent for tip. Mr. Pierce tips very well. Leaving the
check on the table he pulls on his jacket and helps Amanda with her
coat, a white cotton long sleeve pullover. 

They had parked a few blocks away from their destination and had walked
to the restaurant after seeing a move at a nearby theatre. However the
sun was still out at that time, the sun had set long ago while they
were eating their dinner. Like any center of activity Sunnydaleís
center has fallen victim to the problems that plague any city centers.
There was one major difference between Sunnydale and the rest of the
world the major problem was already dead.

"Well looks like we have us some really rich blood on our hands, donít
it boys?" a voice from the shadows in front of them says. A figure
walks out of the alley in front of them as well as a few others.

"Look we donít want any trouble." Harrison said stepping in front of
his wife. They were almost to their car.

"Good because we hate it when we have to fight for our dinner." The
leader said his face transforming. As if that was the queue to start
attacking, they were out numbered two to one plus the leader who was
hanging back content to let his lackeys do most of the work. 

The vampires thought they had it easy as the first reached the woman.
They thought they had easy as they heard the singing sound of metal
against metal as the man pulls his sword out of its hidden sheath. They
thought they had it easy right up until they woman pulls a stake from
the hem of her dress and stabs the closest vampire in the heart. They
thought they had it easy until the man takes his sword and slices off
the head of the closest vampire and chops off the arm of the next. The
vampires learn far too late that appearances can be deceiving. Harrison
takes quickly takes the head of the vampire he had disarmed. Looking
back at his wife he sees that she has just staked that last vampire
leaving one very startled looking leader standing in fear.

"Dear," He says to his wife, "If you would be so kind." Gesturing to
the last vampire who has now begun to run away from them.

"With pleasure." She says as she launches the stake in her hand
catching the vampire in his back. The stake is thrown with such force
that it punctures easily through the vampires clothing and it heart.
Turning it to dust.

Sheathing his sword and reaching over to his wife he caresses her
cheek. "You ok?"

Smiling and touching the hand on her face she says, "Yeah, nice workout
huh?"

"You got that right." He says to her. They linger a while like that
until he feels her pull away and look over his shoulder. There is
someone at the other end of the alley. A girl about their age maybe a
little younger watching them with wide eyes. They realize that the
blond girl had seen them kill the vampires. Pulling away from each
other they look at each other and smile. Turning to face the girl they
smile a bow slightly and hurry to their car a few yards away. Jumping
in they quickly pull away leaving the girl to stare at the retreating
car.

Inside of the car Harrison turns to Amanda and says, "Interesting
homecoming huh Faith?"

"You can say that again. Letís go home."

The car pulls way on the road and makes it way towards its destination.
Meanwhile close by the alley at a pay phone the young woman they had
left behind was frantically trying to make a call. "Operator Iíd like
to place a collect call. Yes Rupert Giles. Thank you. Yes my name is
Tara. Giles? Giles yes itís me Tara, I know its late but we need to get
everybody together. No Iím fine. You wont believe what I just saw. No
it looks like there are new players in the game. Iíll explain more
later. Yeah, just get everyone there. Iíll see you soon."

Hanging up the phone Tara quickly makes her way to her car and pulls
away in the direction of Gilesí shop. At his home Giles begins to dial
the appropriate numbers to summon his young wards as he wonders who the
new players are. Only time will tell.


continued....