Xander has a run in with the Initiative that could break up the gang.
Note - thoughts
This seemed like a nightmare to Anya. Here she had betrayed Xander without a second thought by having sex with Spike. She betrayed the one man that had invoked feelings in her that she has not felt in over a thousand years.
And for no reason at all, she threw that away to have sex with another person. She didn't understand why she did it. Just after a couple of minutes after walking in, Anya felt like she couldn't get enough of him. She just had to have him and no one was going to stop her.
As a Vengeance daemon, she punished men that did what she did.
"Xander I-" Anya wanted to explain.
"Don't bother Pet." Spike interrupted her, "He's the one that was gone. You said it yourself that you were looking for him for most of yesterday."
Anya felt a wave of irritation for the vampire. That emotion changed to revulsion when she remembered what she had been doing. What was I thinking? Why did I want to have sex with Spike? Anya couldn't believe that she wanted Spike earlier but then an even stranger thought surfaced. Why don't I feel that way now?
"Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if he was seeing someone else."
Anya's internal battle with her emotions kept her from hearing Spike. But a scream that erupted from the vampire got her attention. Spike was on the ground screaming and she grew alarmed when she noticed that smoke was rising from his head and shoulders.
Xander was passively standing above the frantic vampire. In his hand was the small bottle. Xander always carried holy water in that. She felt shock enter her system. He must have dumped the entire bottle on Spike's head.
Xander calmly watched the vampire's skin bubble and hiss from the contact with the blessed liquid. Then Xander pulled out another bottle. "I have to tell you something Spike, that burn looks pretty bad. You might want to get that checked out."
Xander opened the second bottle and slowly poured the holy water onto Spike's unprotected back.
"Ooops, I'm sorry Spike. Did that hurt?" Xander taunted.
"Bugger. You're going to pay for this." Spike growled.
"I seriously doubt that." Xander kicked the vampire in the ribs. "You can't hurt a fly without getting a killer migraine. It must suck to be you."
Despite the pain, Spike staggered to his feet and tried to attack Xander. "Damn!!" Spike had to brace himself against the wall as pain exploded like fireworks in his head.
Xander crossed his arms and watched the vampire with a detached expression. "What you need to do Spike is leave Sunnydale."
"What are you talking about?"
"Exactly what I said O Impotent One. Or do I have to use smaller words because the peroxide in your hair has finally destroyed what little brains you had before you were turned?" Xander asked. "You're pathetic. No wonder Drusilla left you."
Hearing that, Spike charged at Xander. Spike wanted nothing more than to rip the heart out of the boy. Then his chip kicked in.
Anya watched as Xander stayed where he was and watched the vampire stumble and fall on his face. Spike's back and head was starting to heal but he was still disoriented from all the pain.
Xander crouched down by Spike and grabbed him by the hair. "Spike. Now I'm gonna say this one time. After I leave here today, I will give you less than a week to leave Sunnydale. If you are still here, I will stake you."
Spike spit in Xander's face. "Please like you could do anything. Buffy and her Watcher wouldn't let you do anything to me." Spike sneered. "I'm helpless now."
Xander's face hardened. Still holding the vampire by the hair, Xander proceeded to slam Spike, face first, into the rough concrete floor of the crypt.
Xander did this five times.
Each time, Xander put as much of his weight as he could behind each blow.
Anya felt sick. From where she was sitting on the floor, she could see Spike's face as Xander lifted his head one more time. Both eyes were swollen shut with blood flowing from one eye. His nose was shattered and pushed inward. Skin hung loosely from his forehead and cheeks.
Xander nodded to himself and let Spike's head fall to the floor. He then stepped behind Spike. Reaching down, Xander grasped Spike's left hand in both of his then placed a foot on the vampire's elbow. With a hard jerk, Xander pulled Spike's arm backward effectively breaking it. Spike screamed out once before he collapsed from the pain. When Xander did this to the other arm, Anya had to turn away.
Anya could remember things she caused, or did herself, to people when she was a daemon. But to see this man, the man who she was starting to have strong feelings for, do this made her sick.
Anya just wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
"Xander, please..." Anya watched as Xander's body trembled in anger. Then his shoulders slumped and his breathing slowed. When he finally turned to face her, Anya shrank from the look on his face.
There was no anger. No hatred. At most Anya thought she saw something like resigned acceptance but even that disappeared also. There was no emotion in his eyes when he looked at her.
She knew in her heart that whatever they were starting to have before is gone.
Xander turned away from her and surveyed the room. Anya watched as he stopped looking and disappeared from her view as he walked down into the lower chamber of the crypt.
Anya didn't know how long she sat there. Her life with Xander had come crashing down around her all because she couldn't stop herself from having sex with Spike. But I love Xander. Anya's eyes went wide at that thought.
Anya, startled out of her thoughts, looked at the bag of blood that was dropped a couple of feet from Spike. Blood was slowly leaking from a small tear near the top of the bag.
Another bag landed next to it. Anya raised her head and found Xander standing next to a table that had several blood bags on it. Xander went to get Spike's blood supply. But why? Xander was standing between the table and Anya, blocking her from seeing what he was doing.
Xander had tossed another bag over his shoulder. The bag landed about a foot away from the other two. This bag was also leaking. Xander continued in silence and soon all the bags were on the floor. A small pool of blood formed around each bag. Anya heard a deep groan.
The smell of blood was starting to wake Spike up.
Walking over, Xander grabbed the vampire by the ankles. Then he dragged Spike into the far corner, a good couple feet away from the bags. Xander left Spike in the corner and proceeded to gather up some of the clothes that littered the floor and shoved them at Anya.
"I would get dressed if I were you."
That statement reminded her of the blanket she was covered with. "Xander -"
"Stop." Xander voice was harsh as he held out his hand, palm up, at her. "Just put your clothes on." Xander waited as she finished dressing and then pushed her towards the door.
"What about Spike. We can't.." Anya couldn't finish under the glare that appeared on Xander's face. "What are you going to do to him?"
"I'm not gonna do anything more than I already have." With a small, evil smirk, he continued. "Of course he's going to need to drink some blood to help heal himself." Anya felt a shiver go up her spine. "It's just too bad that I poured some Holy water into each bag of blood that he had."
Anya was appalled. "Xander, you can't do this." Anya noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. Spike had started crawling slowly towards the blood. They could hear the bones in Spike's arms moving back into place as he healed.
Xander coldly stared at her. "You lost any say in what I can or can't do the minute you decided to sleep with Spike."
"Xander... I'm sorry."
Xander shook with barely suppressed anger but less than a heartbeat later he visibly relaxed. "Anya, I honestly don't care anymore." He paused and looked her in the eye. "You brought this onto yourself."
With that, Xander pushed Anya out the door. He was about to close the door after him but Xander paused and then smiled as he looked back into the crypt. Leaving the door open, Xander stepped back from it letting Anya see that the sunlight landed on most of the bags.
Xander turned back to her. The feral look on his face scared her. "Now... what am I going to do to you?"
Being a daemon for more than a thousand years, Anya has seen many beings that had tried to intimidate her. Even now as a human very little fazed her but the look in Xander's eyes scared her so much that she was unconsciously backing away from him.
The last time she felt this scared was when they found out what the Mayor was planning for graduation. She remembered wanting Xander to run away with her but Xander wouldn't give in to her fears. He would not abandon his friends.
"Now for you, I need to get some rope, a little barb wire, and..." Xander scratched his head in thought. "Oh yeah," He brought his face close to Anya's. "Bunny rabbits."
Before she even realized it. Anya found herself running through the cemetery entrance, gasping for breath.
Xander watched as Anya ran away from him. Even with the anger that threatened to burn him from the inside out, he still felt some regret at scaring Anya like that but even that emotion evaporated fast.
Xander leaned against the crypt, barely holding back the emotions that threatened to leave him curled up into a ball, crying. He knew that the main reason for scaring her was to make her leave before he did get violent. He didn't want to think that he would hit her but he didn't trust himself not to with the way he was feeling.
A scream sounded out from behind him. That sent a shock through his system which enabled Xander to take control of his emotions and he looked into the crypt. The vampire was holding his newly healed, but freshly burned, arm to his chest.
Spike's head shot up at the voice. His visage was more demonic than normal.
"Awww. Did the Big Bad burn himself trying to get to the bags of blood?"
Spike snarled at Xander but stayed well away from the sunlight.
To Xander, it looked like the vampire barely recognized him. Must be the blood lust. Hopefully he will get so crazed that he will end up killing himself from trying to get the blood. Xander chuckled. Of course that blood will hurt him just as bad.
Xander felt his anger swell again. Two of the four women that have come to mean the most to him in his life, have hurt him within the last twenty four hours.
He wasn't blind about Joyce Summers. Xander knew that when push came to shove that she would side with her daughter. Xander couldn't blame her at all. And as much as he wants to believe that he could count on his oldest friend, in his mind Xander could see Willow choosing the Slayer over him.
Xander felt his heart start to harden against the people who he considered his family.
His mind set changed drastically as he did what he has always did with every bad event that has happened to him over the years, he put it behind him.
Then he found himself starting to think about the various weaknesses of the group that he had noticed over the years. Calculating threat ratios, possible forms of attacks that the Slayer knew and ways to avoid them, scenarios to evade electronic tracking that Willow or the Initiative might try for that matter. Plans and solutions for surviving outside the group.
What actually scared him was how easily he did this.
Xander focused back on the scene before him. Spike was slowly dragging one of the bags out of the sunlight. Both arms were badly burnt but that didn't matter to the vampire as his hunger for blood had overridden his survival instincts.
Xander turned away as Spike brought the bag to his mouth. Walking away from the crypt, Xander could hear a blood curdling scream erupt from within the crypt.
Xander laughed silently at thought of Spike drinking 'spiked' blood.
Sobering up I gotta find a place to stay for a while. Just in case that daemon I overheard was right. Xander was distracted from his thoughts by two joggers outside the cemetery that was running past as fast as they could. "Hey shut up Spike, your scaring away the tourists."
Xander left the graveyard with a small smile on his face.
It has been a long day for everyone.
Shortly after they had found Buffy, a group of Initiative soldiers came into the clearing. They recognized the group immediately and aimed their weapons at them. Without a word they started to carry off their unconscious comrades.
Buffy tried to stop them from taking Riley but then she noticed that several weapons were aimed at her Willow and Tara. That threat stopped Buffy in her tracks. Satisfied that she wouldn't trouble him further, the person in charge spoke briefly into his radio and listened to a muffled reply. His gaze drifted over the group before speaking again. He shut his radio and swept his eyes over the area once more before signaling his men to return to base.
After they were left alone, Buffy slumped to the ground. Except for uttering Xander's name shortly after they arrived, Buffy had not told them what had happened. And despite her concern for Xander, Willow did her best to comfort Buffy. Giles steered the girls to his home so Buffy could get cleaned up.
On the way there, Buffy, between bouts of anger and sadness, relayed what had happened. Giles noticed that by the time they reached their destination, Willow and Tara had dropped back several feet from Buffy, silently arguing.
Giles let the girls in and directed Buffy to the bathroom to wash her face. Looking at the girls, he could almost feel a wall start to form between Willow and Buffy. He was about to attempt to talk to Willow when there was a knock at his door.
Upon opening the door, Giles was greeted by two uniformed police officers. They announced that they were looking for a Rupert Giles. When Giles identified himself, they asked him to accompany them to the police station for questioning. The police insisted the others come too when they learned of the girls' identities.
That was a couple of hours ago.
Currently they were being questioned by the Sunnydale's Finest about Alexander L. Harris.
The official story was that Xander was reported to have snuck onto the local army base for some unknown reason. The military was conducting their own investigation into this and had no comment on what might be missing. Although it was speculated that maybe he was looking to steal weapons either to use in some crime or to sell. There was no concrete evidence, just what appeared to be second hand information.
The one thing that was clear to everyone was that Xander and Ayna were gone. No one knew where they disappeared to.
Each one was questioned about Xander and what they thought their friend might do. Did he have a history of violence? Was his girlfriend likely to help him? If not, would Xander try to scare the girl into silence or worse?
What was causing Giles, Buffy and Willow some concern was the reason for the questions. It seemed that most of the details that were revealed to them were what Xander did to acquire the rocket launcher when the Judge was assembled. The only real difference was that Anya was said to be there with Xander instead of Cordelia.
Willow was growing desperate to talk to Xander. She wanted to find him before the Initiative or the police did. She did not want to be here and she especially did not want to be around Buffy right now.
As much as she loved Buffy, Willow was hurt by her actions. Even though she had sided with the blonde against her oldest friend from time to time over the last year, she couldn't picture herself believing someone she barely knew over Xander. This served only to heighten the tension that started to develop between Buffy and Willow.
Xander's parents were also brought in for questioning along with Buffy's mother and Willow's parents. The girls' parents adamantly defended Xander but the surprise came from the boy's. His mother simply collapsed, crying while his father told the police that Xander had been nothing but a problem with all the trouble that he and the 'Summers girl' got into during high school and offered any help he could.
This shocked the rest of them into silence as Xander's parents were escorted home. Eventually all of them were released and everyone but Willow's parents made their way to Giles' home to discuss what they were going to do.
A dark-haired man stepped out from around the corner of the police station. The man shielded his eyes from the late afternoon sun to watch a small group of people exit the building and walk into the parking lot.
The man pulled out a phone from inside his jacket and punched in a few numbers. He waited for the line to be picked up on the other end and then said. "It's done."
He listened for a moment. "I understand." The man put the phone back inside his jacket and walked into the police station. Once inside, the man walked up to the clerk and asked to see the commanding officer.
After letting the everyone in, Giles told the girls to sit down while he made some tea. With that said, Tara and Willow sat on the couch and Buffy took the chair.
Satisfied, Giles stepped into his kitchen with Joyce right behind him as she had her own questions that Buffy was unwilling or unable to answer. "Rupert," She said quietly, hoping the girls wouldn't notice. "What exactly is going on with Xander?"
"Well for starters, what they said at the police station was, for the most part, a lie." Giles said.
"Well that goes without saying." She said impatiently. "I was told that someone called in an anonymous tip."
"That is what I found out too but the details of..." Giles trailed off under Joyce's gaze. "Joyce, I should tell you that some of the details of what the police said did actually occur."
Joyce could see the confusion in his face and held up her hand to stop Giles from asking. "One night during her senior year, Buffy and I had a long talk about some of the things that have happened before and after we had to move here. Buffy told me the short version of why, and how, Xander gave her a rocket launcher for a birthday gift." Joyce braced herself for the answer to her next question. "Now, what really happened to him?"
Giles turned to her and he leaned back against the counter. "From what Buffy told us earlier is that, according to Xander, the Initiative had captured him. They had ran tests on him and then he escaped."
Joyce gasped, "You think that Riley had -"
"No." Giles interrupted her. "Riley supposedly was not aware of Xander's capture and apparently Xander was trying to warn her about the situation when Riley showed up with several of his men."
"What did Riley tell her?"
"That Xander got into the base somehow and set off an explosion. Do you remember the tremors from last night?" Joyce nodded. "According to Riley, Xander was responsible and because of that, some of the daemons that were being held there managed to get free and people were killed."
"That's terrible. So then Buffy was caught between Xander and Riley and had to choose."
"Yes and she chose Riley." Giles agreed. "And from the way she talked, Xander may have chosen to end their friendship."
"Would Xander really leave her?" Joyce didn't want to believe that the devotion that the young man has displayed for her daughter in the past would disappear.
"Under normal circumstances I would say no but now?" Giles sighed. "Either way, I doubt Xander will show himself anytime soon especially since the police are now involved too instead of just the Initiative."
"Who do you think made up that story?"
"Maybe Xander did to keep everyone confused or it's possible that someone in Riley's group had heard about Xander's past through Buffy and called in a tip, thinking that the police could help." He stopped to think then Giles shook his head in what little mirth he could feel right now. "I do not know what higher power is looking out for Xander but involving the Sunnydale Police was a fortunate stroke of good luck for us. Their gross incompetence will go in his favor."
"True, the Sunnydale Police Department couldn't walk around a tree without getting lost but.." Joyce turned to look at her daughter. "Rupert, what can we do for Xander?"
"I'm not sure that there is anything we can do about Xander at the moment."
Giles paused to look out at the girls. "My concern right now though is for Willow." At Joyce's confused look, Giles elaborated. "Between Oz leaving not too long ago and this incident with Xander, I believe that Willow is very afraid of losing Xander and the only one she can lash out at will be Buffy."
Maggie Walsh was furious. She had just spoke with or rather listened to her superiors who were not happy with the possible exposure of the project. Without turning around, she shouted, "Who the hell decided to contact the police!"
Forrest stepped forward. "Ma'am. The information did not come from this base."
"No?" Walsh voiced her confusion. "Then how did the police get a detailed description of Mr. Harris or where did this story about a weapons theft at the Army base come from?"
"That actually did happen." Riley said.
"What?!?" Walsh marched up to Riley. "You're saying that an incident like that happened and you did NOT include this little tidbit of information in the report you made about Ms. Summers' friends."
Forrest swore softly and Riley glared at him.
"Agent Finn!" Walsh barked out.
Riley snapped to attention.
"I will not ask again."
"Ma'am! I was told that a couple of years ago that two vampires brought a daemon to Sunnydale. This daemon could kill with a touch and no weapons that were made by man could kill it."
Walsh waited impatiently for Riley to get to the point.
"From what Buffy told me, Xander trespassed onto the army base and stole a rocket launcher to be used against the daemon."
"But you said that no man-made weapon could kill the daemon." Forrest interrupted.
"They did not kill it. Basically they blew it apart and picked up the pieces."
"Where are the pieces now?" Walsh asked.
"Buffy never told me."
Maggie Walsh stared at her subordinate. "Agent Finn, you will report to my office ASAP and tell me everything that you have heard in that group. Everything," She stressed. "no matter how small or insignificant you might think it is."
Without waiting for a response, she nodded to Agent Forrest and then turned her back on the soldiers and marched to her office with a slightly slower Riley Finn following her.
Forrest faced to the rest of the soldiers. "Okay men, from now on the capture of Mr. Harris takes priority but not at the expense of exposure. Gathering further intel on him or the others in the Slayer's group is secondary. We will split into groups of..." He continued to issue orders all the while in the back of his mind, Forrest was worried. Not for himself but he had a bad feeling about Xander Harris.
The scene that was taking place in his home was not something that Giles thought he would ever see. Buffy was sitting in a chair while Willow circled her like a lioness waiting to pounce at the first sign of weakness.
"How could you Buffy?"
She knew that question was coming and could feel the anger in Willow's voice. "Willow I.." Buffy found that she didn't know how to answer. Inside she was torn between Xander, who has become one of her best friends, and Riley, who she was starting to get emotionally attached to.
She didn't want to believe that Riley would lie to her but if Xander is right then it was Riley who was lied to. But if Xander is lying.. She didn't want to complete that thought. But there was one thing that the Slayer in her wouldn't let go of though. The memory of the fight between Xander and the commandos kept replaying in her mind.
"What Buffy?" Willow asked, snapping Buffy out of her internal struggle. "What made you treat Xander like that? Are you too dependant on Riley, a guy you barely know, that you can just ignore anything Xander tells you?"
Buffy ignored her friend's tirade. "There has to be something wrong with Xander."
"What are you talking about?" Willow asked.
"There is no way Xander could beat Riley." Buffy said to herself.
"I can't-" Willow was stunned.
"Willow," Buffy voice was firm. "There is no way Xander could beat military trained soldiers. Not unless something has changed him."
"So now there has to be something wrong with Xander, is that right? He could never win in a fight." Willow said sarcastically
"You weren't there Willow. You didn't see him-"
"We have never seen him fight Buffy." Willow stated. "Sure we've seen him jump into a fight and get knocked back out again but we have never actually watched him fight."
"No! There is no way I'm going to let you shift the blame from you to Xander just because you don't want to face what you did." Willow seethed.
Both girls turned to a very irate Rupert Giles. Joyce emerged from behind him and went to her daughter. "Now girls," Giles voice was calm again. "we don't need to start fighting amongst ourselves."
"No Willow." Giles waited for Willow to settle down. "Now we know that Xander was in the Initiative. What we need to do is find out why."
"And find out what's wrong with him." Buffy added.
"Buffy.." Giles tried to intervene.
"No Giles. None of you were there. Xander wasn't acting like himself." Buffy tried to explain.
"I probably wouldn't act like myself too if my best friend turned on me."
"No." Willow cut her off. She gathered her things and started for the door leaving a very quiet Tara in her wake.
"Willow." The redhead paused next to Giles. "We do not need this. Unraveling Xander's situation should take precedence."
Willow stared at the older man silently before turning to the door. "Willow?"
The Wiccan stopped but didn't turn around. "What?"
"May I ask what are you are planning to do?"
"I'm gonna find Xander and - " Willow stopped after opening the door to find a young woman who looked like she just lost everything that mattered to her. Willow stared at the girl's sad, tear streaked face a few seconds before recognizing her. "Anya?"
Willow barely managed to catch Anya as she fainted.
Right now Xander was very glad that he decided to stash some clothes and money, among other items, all over Sunnydale. He didn't understand at the time why he was doing it, only that it was like this need to be prepared for any emergency.
Currently Xander was in a small storage room pulling clothes from a large wooden chest. Xander pulled his shirt off and inspected the bandages on his chest. They had come loose during his confrontation with Spike and Anya. Anya.. Xander ruthlessly buried the feelings of betrayal he felt and changed his clothes.
He packed everything back into the chest. Xander then pushed it back and covered it under a number of boxes. After looking around the room to make sure that everything appeared undisturbed, Xander exited the room.
"Is everything alright, my son?"
Startled, Xander turned to face an older man. "No Father," Xander said after a moment. His eyes glazed over slightly before tuning back to the conversation "but I do want to thank you for the use of your storage room."
"You are welcome as always Xander but.." He paused briefly, as if in thought "I am wondering as to why you are so quiet today."
Xander shrugged. "It's a long story, Father. One that I really don't want to get into right now. Besides," a small smile tugged at Xander's lips. "sometimes I like the quiet." The priest silently watched the young man disappear into the basement of the church.
Father Michael had seen many things while living in this town and he wasn't as blind as some of the residents. One of the things he did notice was a small group of children who did what they could to protect the inhabitants of the town.
He could still remember that one night, not long ago, where he was fortunate to meet Xander.
Father Michael stopped just inside the front entrance of his church. Not wanting to take any chances this late at night, he motioned for the few people there to stay inside while he went to see if he could help whoever was in trouble.
Not far away, a woman was lying up against a car. In front of her was a man that Michael instinctively knew was a dark creature. He had seen plenty of them in the short time he had lived here. He was about to confront the creature when someone beat him to the punch.
"Wow. That was impressive," A dark-haired boy walked out of the shadows. He clapped his hands and gestured to the unconscious woman.
The creature growled and lunged at the him. Surprisingly, the boy simply dropped onto his back and watched as the creature flew over him. He got back to his feet quickly and peered into the shadows behind him. "Aw, did the big bad vampire miss me?" the boy taunted.
Vampire? Michael grabbed a small cross from his pocket as the vampire walked out into the light coming from the street lamp. "You got lucky boy." The vampire stopped between the boy and it's original victim.
The boy looked past the vampire at older man and nodded. Concentrating on the vampire again, he said. "Don't you just hate it when you have to work for your dinner."
The vampire moved toward the boy.
"Look out behind you."
The vampire turned and howled in pain as a cross was shoved in his face leaving a small cross-shaped burn on it. The vampire backed up in pain then jerked suddenly as something erupted from his chest. The vampire dissolved into dust leaving the young man standing there with a piece of wood in his hand.
Although Michael knew what it would take to destroy such a creature, he was still awed at the ease the young man displayed in staking the vampire. He didn't know how long he stood there in shock before a hand was placed on his shoulder. "Maybe we should go inside."
Michael glanced at the owner of the hand. The dark haired young man, maybe seventeen or eighteen, with his arm around the shoulders of a distraught woman. The look he directed at Michael was full of compassion and determination.
Regaining his senses, Father Michael quickly escorted them inside.
That night Father Michael had learned the life story of one Xander Harris and, as Xander dubbed them, the 'Scooby Gang'.
The woman, Kayla Grant, was a couple of years older than Xander and had just started at a college in San Francisco. Kayla was visiting friends when she had the bad luck of leaving a party with a vampire.
Kayla immediately took to a liking to Xander and thought of him like a younger brother. Over the last year she had become quite protective of the younger man.
"Kayla..." Michael could tell that something was troubling Xander. He knew that Kayla would be able to get Xander to open up. Michael didn't know how she could do it easily when he was hard pressed to do the same thing.
Michael noticed that since he had met Xander, the young man always tried to keep his problems to himself so he wouldn't burden his friends.
That selfless mannerism of Xander's caused a smile to grace the older man's face briefly. His expression became troubled as he started to worry about his young friend. Remembering his earlier thought, Michael headed into his office to call Kayla and see if she could help.