Xander has a run in with the Initiative that could break up the gang.
Note - thoughts
Maggie Walsh turned from her workstation as a tech ran up to her. "What is it?"
"Ma'am, you might want to check the surveillance of the Stevenson house," the tech explained as he almost ran back to his station.
Maggie followed the tech and waited. The video showed two female room mates, each soundly asleep in their beds, She was momentarily startled when the sound of pounding erupted from the speakers. One girl got up and let two people into her room. What followed made Maggie's blood boil. Not only did a vampire kill the two students living there, but the vampire did it without raising any alarms. She was about to raise bloody murder when the tech signaled her.
"Wait Ma'am, there's more."
"First you tell me that we have two dead girls that WE didn't even KNOW about and now you're saying that there's more?" Maggie asked in an angry tone.
The tech swallowed audibly. "Yes Ma'am. If you would continue to watch the footage."
Maggie tsked impatiently as the tech started the video back up. the first thing she noticed was that there was a man in the room but she couldn't see him clearly. "Stop. Start it back from the beginning." The tech did so and after a few seconds, Maggie had him stop it. "Can we hear what she's saying?"
"No I'm afraid that she's talking too low. All we get are a few words here and there but that's it. Our surveillance capabilities above ground is not up to the standard that we have inside the base itself."
"Damn." Maggie muttered. "Who were the girls living there?"
"Pamela Sorenson and Kristi Campler."
"Kristi Campler. Why is that name familiar?" Maggie asked.
"She is, or should I say was, the girfriend of Agent Marcus Tyler." the tech replied.
Maggie leaned closer to the screen, trying to make out the man in the room. "What about the video? Can it be enhanced enough to identify the man standing by the door?"
"Fraid not Ma'am. The image degrades far too much to be able to map any recognizable features."
"Damn." she said again. She didn't like this. First Agent Tyler disappears and now his girlfriend and her roommate are killed right under her nose by an unknown hostile. "Have a team -"
"Ma'am," the tech interrupted. "I just called up the real-time feed. Just a few minutes ago, two new men had entered the room."
Maggie turned her attention back to the screen. The tech rewound the video and the started it up again with one of the men walking into the center of the camera's field of vision, looking around the room. Maggie hissed upon recognizing the 'man'. "Hostile 17."
Drusilla hummed quietly to herself as she ran a hand through Spike's hair as the pair laid lazily on the dorm bed. Two men stood woodenly by the door while on the second bed in the room supported the bodies of two dead young women. Suddenly Drusilla squealed in laughter.
"What is it, Ducks," Spike drawled.
"Ooooh, Miss Edith said that the mean mommy finally knows that we're here."
Spike sat up and stared questioningly at his dark sire. "Mean mommy?"
Drusilla focused on Spike. "The mean mommy that hurt you. That leashed you like a little puppy." Her face took on a glazed look. "A puppy with it's skin peeled off, playing in a box full of salt." Then her eyes became lucid and took on a flinty look. "Of course after the way you hurt Daddy, you deserve to be treated like a puppy."
"But I will forgive you this time if you get me a kitten." Drusilla interrupted him.
Spike smiled widely. "I'll get you a whole litter if you want."
Drusilla's face took on a dreamy quality as she got off the bed. "Oh I want just one with dark hair and soulful eyes, then you can be my puppy and he'll be my kitten."
Spike gave her a strange look as he got up and followed her around the room. Drusilla went to the man that brought Spike here, bent over and whispered in Ray's ear, then called the other human over to stand next to her. "Where are we going pet?"
The vampiress playfully crooked her finger at him. Spike stepped closer and then they were gone, leaving the room empty except for the two dead girls.
Barely ten seconds later, the door exploded inwards as several figures dressed in dark clothing rushed inside. One of the men stepped forward, surveying the room.
"Bag and tag, people. Move." He motioned for his men to start the clean up as he pulled out his radio to report back. "Mize to base. We lost them."
Maggie Walsh's face was a stone mask as she listened to the soldier's report. From the computer station, she had watched the entire scene from the time the group disappeared in a puff of smoke to when her people had broke down the door.
Every tech near that communications station held their breath, waiting for the expected explosive response from Maggie. Instead, she simply turned off the video feed and left without a word.
"Well?" The lawyer from Wolfram and Hart asked as he waited impatiently for Xander's reply. Lindsey never did feel entirely comfortable being inside a church.
Xander stared at the hand offered to him and something deep down inside said that accepting that hand would be like trying to grab a snake, you will only get yourself bit.
"Listen, thanks for the offer but no thanks," Xander finally replied, taking half a step back. "I don't believe that I'll be needing your help."
Lindsey's smile fell slightly. "If you believe so but my firm knows the truth of the circumstances surrounding your current situation and has already taken steps to exonerate you."
"Why would they do this?" Kayla spoke up from Xander's side.
"Because," Lindsey favored her with a condescending smile, then turned back to Xander. "we would like to ask you to do a favor for us."
Xander was becoming curious, despite his better judgement. "What kind of favor?"
Lindsey set his briefcase on the back of one of the pews and opened it. From inside, he withdrew a large envelope and handed it, face down, over to Xander.
"We would like you to safeguard this and then deliver it when the time is right."
"Who is this for?" Xander asked.
Lindsey motioned for Xander to turn the large envelope over. Curious, Xander flipped the package over and read the name. His semi-interested look fell, revealing a shocked one.
"We are aware that you have recently come across some information that will let you know when you can expect to be able to deliver it," the lawyer added before turning to leave.
"What exactly did your firm do to clear me?" Xander asked warily, ignoring the envelope in his hands for the moment.
Lindsey smiled urbanely. "One of my colleagues has presented evidence to the local authorities about a certain individual matching the physical description that was given to the police. Plus the location of certain misappropriated weapons that will be found in his place of residence."
At the apprehensive look on Xander's face, Lindsey decided it was time to leave. He didn't even bother to try to get the boy to promise about delivering the envelope. Everything they had on file about Mr. Harris pointed out that once he knew the identity of the package's owner, he would do basically what they asked just to find out if the person was a threat to the people that he considered family. Anything else would not work on the young man given both his strong moral compass and his possible semi-unique status.
Xander felt slightly nauseous as he watched the lawyer calmly walk to the church entrance. They've set someone up to take the fall but who?
Just before the lawyer could step across the threshold of the building, Xander called out, "Wait a minute! Who's the guy that your people set up for the police?"
Lindsey paused momentarily, as if to answer but then continued out the door in silence.
Xander sprinted out the door also to catch up with the lawyer but found no trace of him. Like the man had vanished into thin air. He quickly went down to the sidewalk and looked down both sides of the street, trying to see if there were any cars heading away from the church but there were none.
He looked once more at the package in his hand and marched back into the church. Michael and Kayla watched in concern while Chance was impassive at best, as Xander walked past them with a blank expression on his face and into the Michael's office, closing the door behind him.
In the home of Rupert Giles, Three people, one carrying a fourth, stared at each other as they stood near the front door. The two older people, Giles and Joyce, stared in shock at at the third, Riley, as the commando held the Slayer protectively in his arms.
"Who did you say did this?" Giles asked, desperately needing to believe that he had heard wrong.
"Xander." Riley repeated, his voice seeming to echo in the silent room.
Riley didn't bother to wait for either of the two adults to speak up again. He deftly maneuvered around them and entered the room only to find that Willow and two other girls were asleep on the floor. He carefully stepped over the girls and gently laid Buffy on the couch.
"Why do you think that Xander did this?" Joyce softly asked, coming up behind the young man.
Giles could hear the fear lacing her words. Fear of Xander being what everyone was saying about him. He was worried too. If Xander has changed sides, that could spell serious trouble for the group because he knew that the boy would potentially be more dangerous than even Angelus. The only thing that helped him to keep calm was the obvious nature of some of Buffy's injuries, which lead him to believe that they were not caused by Xander. Even when he was possessed by the spirit of the Hyena, Buffy continued to best him time and again. No, the wound on her neck at the very least was the work of a vampire but that brings up a very important question. Who was the vampire that did this? Giles continued to think about it as he half listened to Joyce and Riley.
"Because I found the two of them fighting in one of the graveyards. Plus there were several of my people lying around them, dead. Somehow Harris killed several highly trained soldiers and managed to severely hurt Buffy."
"I find that hard to believe," Joyce retorted, desperately clinging to the hope of Xander's innocence.
"As do I," Giles stated, coming back into the conversation. "I know what Buffy is capable of and no human would be able to do this to a Slayer unaided." Giles carefully moved Buffy's head to the side. "This is clearly a bite mark and unless Xander has suddenly become a vampire, he clearly didn't do this."
The look on Riley's face turned dangerous. "Are you trying to say that I'm lying about this? About my men?"
"No I'm not but did you actually see Xander kill your men," he asked carefully, trying to defuse Riley's anger.
"No," Riley grudgingly admitted.
"Did Buffy or Xander mention any vampires to you?"
"Riley," Buffy looked at him from within Xander's grasp. "Xander didn't do anything to me. It was Spike."
"She means Hostile 17." Xander shook his head in disgust. " I swear they'll let anyone into the military nowadays."
"Shut up CUB." Xander said. He pushed Buffy away but kept her between them. "Right now I have a bone to pick with Spike and I don't have the time to play with you."
Some of the anger drained from Riley's face. "Buffy said that Hostile 17 hurt her but that's impossible."
"Hostile 17?" Joyce asked, not knowing who Riley was talking about.
"I believe that you know him as Spike?" Riley elaborated. "But that's still not possible, the government chip in his head should have stopped the vampire from hurting Buffy. I still think that Harris had something to do about it."
"Well until Buffy wakes up or we hear from Xander, we don't know what actually occurred between them, right?"
A sudden ringing startled them. Riley pulled out his cell phone and answered it.
While the commando did this, Giles carefully inspected the many wounds on Buffy's body, cleaning them as best he could. When he finished, Giles sat back on his heels, satisfied that the visible injuries were healing nicely and gave her grief-stricken mother a comforting look.
"Don't worry Joyce, Buffy's going to be fine. All she needs right now is plenty of rest and food when she wakes up."
Joyce shot him a grateful look and then took his place next to Buffy. She combed her fingers through Buffy's hair as she whispered words of encouragement to her slumbering daughter. Giles smiled as he watched over them.
"What?!" Riley screamed into his phone, moving away from where Buffy was resting and began pacing across the floor. His action did not go un-noticed by Giles and Joyce who were watching him like a pair of hawks.
"You've got to be kidding me?!"
Riley listened intently to whoever was speaking on the other end then began swearing again.
"I don't care what they say. What about Harris? What does Walsh want to do?"
Joyce exchanged a worried look with Giles, nearly jumping out of her skin when her daughter's boyfriend swore loudly and threw his cell phone, smashing it against the wall.
Giles moved over to the younger man. "What is going on Riley?"
The commando glared in disgust at the remains of his phone before turning to carefully study the man that Buffy loved like a father. He battled internally, weighing whether he could trust him or not. A few tense seconds past before Riley quietly spoke. "I have to leave. Can I trust you to take care of Buffy?"
Giles scoffed, not liking the insinuation. "Of course I'll care for her."
"If I find out that you let Harris near her..."
Giles' expression grew dark as he placed his face inches from Riley's. "You'll what?"
Riley stared back at Giles briefly before turning away. He made his way over to Buffy, brushed a stray hair away from her face and tenderly kissed her forehead before whispering, "I'll get Harris for what he did to you. I swear."
With one more glare at Giles, Riley stalked out the door.
"What now Rupert?" Joyce kneeled down by her daughter, worry marring her beautiful face.
Giles' whole posture slumped as he took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I'm really not-"
A soft moan interrupted Giles and his eyes shifted to the middle of the room where one of the girls had started the slow process of waking up. Shaking her head delicately, Tara tried to sit up, confusion written in her features. A second later she slumped back down on the floor, moaning in pain.
The girl in question raised her head, eyes squinting. "Giles?"
"Easy now, you've been exposed to a tremendous amount of magical energy." Giles gently pulled the girl up into a sitting position. "What do you remember?"
Tara closed her eyes in concentration. "Everyone was yelling, fighting." Her eyes snapped open. "Willow cast a spell on you."
Giles nodded his head. "Yes she did."
"She tried to curse Anya."
Giles nodded once again.
"I.. I.." Tara's forehead creased in concentration. "I stopped her?"
"Almost," Giles replied and then motion for her to look down to her left.
Tara did as he asked and realized that she still held hands with not only Willow but with Anya too. Quickly she let go of them and rubbed the feeling back into her numb fingers. "How?"
"Well my best guess, from what Joyce was able to describe to me, is that Willow was about to release a powerful spell when you made physical contact with her. This caused the spell to hit you but instead of accomplishing whatever it was designed to do, it flowed through you and back into Willow creating a feedback loop. The magical energy kept moving back and forth between the two of you, becoming more powerful until Anya took each of your hands into hers."
Giles took his glasses off and began cleaning them. "Now I'm not completely certain of what occurred but it sounds like the three of you managed to form a trinity of sorts which allowed the arcane energies to stabilize and be consciously directed."
Tara took this in with an awed expression which changed into a worried one. "If we managed that, w-what happened to the magic? D-did we hurt anybody with it?"
"No you didn't," Joyce spoke up, settling a comforting hand on her shoulder. "The energy flashed between you and then all three of you collapsed."
"W-what about Willow and Anya? Will th-they be okay?"
"As far as I can tell, they are in a deep sleep, much like you were," Giles replied. "But I think that they will be waking up soon now that you regained consciousness."
Tara sighed deeply in relief but a small voice in her mind was yelling at her to remember. But remember what? Something about Xander, about Anya. But what? Tara's mind continued to try to recall as Joyce helped her to her feet. That was when she noticed that Buffy was laying on the couch, injured.
"Oh no!" Tara broke from the elder Summers grasp and stumbled over to Buffy's still form. "What happened?"
Giles took in a deep breath. "Judging from her condition, apparently Buffy had been bested by Spike at one point. There is a bite mark on her neck."
Tara's eyes first started to mist as Giles pointed to the bite on Buffy's neck, then they opened wide at the mention of Spike. That rang a bell in her memory. Something about Spike. About Xander. And Anya. But what? Then it hit her.
"Anya was under a spell!"
Joyce looked at her in confusion. "What?"
"Anya slept with Spike because of a spell," she said.
"How do you know this?" Giles scrutinized her over the rims of his glasses.
Tara shrank from his intense stare but was saved from answering when a new voice spoke up.
"We saw it in a vision," Willow softly spoke as she struggled to sit up.
Tara rushed to Willow's side and gently brushed her hair out of her face. "Are you okay?"
Willow rested her head on Tara's shoulder. "Yeah, I think so." Then she shifted her head slightly to look up at Giles with a pained expression. "I'm so sorry, Giles. Did I hurt you?"
Giles smiled tiredly. "I believe that I shall be fine."
The pain in her eyes and the sincere apology soothed a part of him that was unconsciously worried about the level of power that Willow had displayed earlier. He hoped that maybe this would be the catalyst that would cause her to rethink how she used her magic and how closely they are tied to her emotions.
"Well I'm not fine," a different voice spoke, tartly.
All turned to Anya who sat up stiffly, thunderclouds gathering in her eyes. She quickly stood up, showing none of the weakness that Willow and Tara felt upon waking and strode purposefully to one of Giles' weapon chests.
"Are you feeling alright, Anya?" Giles asked cautiously.
"Yes," Anya replied succinctly, pulling dagger after sword after mace until she stopped and held a short-handled weapon that sported a very large, very sharp ax head. She looked appraising at it and then headed for the door.
"Where do you think you are going with that?"
"That should be obvious even to you," she spoke scathingly to the ex-Watcher. "I'm going to find that loathsome magician that made me have sex with Spike and cut off both of his heads. Then I'm going to take them to Xander and tell him what really happened." With that said, Anya marched out the door.
"Oh great," Giles muttered as he ran after the ex-daemon.
After the door slammed shut, Willow share concerned looks with both Tara and Joyce. Then she finally realized just who was laying on the couch. "Buffy!"
Willow quickly moved over to the blonde, her eyes efficiently tabulating the injuries on Buffy's body. Looking up at Joyce, Willow asked, "What happened?"
The elder Summers stared at the door that Giles and Anya disappeared through and sighed. Then she sat down on the arm of the couch, gently combing her fingers through her daughter's hair as she tried to calmly tell what they had learned from Riley.
Xander sat quietly behind the desk in Father Michael's office. He stared at the large envelope in his hands as his mind dealt with a whirlwind of thoughts and fears that assaulted him. Many of them centering on what had happened the night he was captured by the Initiative.
He walked into Willy's Bar, looking to see if owner had heard of any new info on the local vampire population. Making his way over to the bar, he overheard two daemons he'd never seen before, talking. Ignoring them for the moment, he crept up behind Willy.
"Harris," the bar owner literally jumped in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Just came by to see if you'd heard anything interesting lately."
"Who me?" Willy answered, glancing nervously around at his non-human customers.
Xander rolled his eyes at the man's antics. "Everyone knows that you work both sides of the fence."
"Hey," Willy pointed a finger at him. "Between your Slayer and the vampires always roughing me up, it's a wonder that I'm still alive."
A low moan came from a couple of tables away. He looked and found the same two daemons that had caught his eye earlier. "What's with them?"
Willy shot a quick look at them and then shrugged. "I don't know."
"What are you gonna give me?" Willy asked quickly.
"How about peace of mind." At Willy's blank looked, he continued. "If I like what you know, I won't start any fights in here."
"You? Fight in here?" Willy looked a little surprised by his suggestion. "Look kid, any one of these guys could kill you without breaking a sweat so why don't you just go home."
"Nah. I think I'll stay. See what kind of trouble I can get into."
"It's your funeral kid." Willy shrugged.
"Nope. It'll be yours."
"What are you talking about Harris?" Willy asked warily.
"Well you see," He smiled sweetly. "On the off chance that I might happen to die here, say in a fight, I've made sure that my friends will find out that you set me up."
Willy glared at him. "You're bluffing."
He shrugged. "Doesn't matter. One way ot the other, word will get back to Buffy that at the very least, you let me die here. She kills daemons and vampires for a living, so what do you think she'll do to a human that got one of her best friends get killed."
Willy looked around the room for several seconds with a wild look in his eyes. "Fine!" Willy spat. "I think the big guy with the spikes on his shoulders is a Corumish daemon and the smaller, female one with the blue skin is a Delmantri."
"Corumish and Delmantri," he said to himself as he stared at the two for a moment. He could see that the Corumish was a tall, but thin daemon with two deadly looking spikes, one on each shoulder. Those spikes stood out at least a good six inches from his shoulders while his skin was the color of old leather. Whenever the Corumish moved, one could see the powerful muscles that moved under his skin.
The Delmantri was the complete opposite. She looked frail, like you could break her with just a gentle push. Her skin was a rich blue color, like that of a cloudless sky. Her eyes, on the other hand, were jet black and yet he could sense their movement when the daemon's attention would shift around the room, studying the other patrons, one by one.
"Yeah," Willy, not paying him any attention, picked up a rag and began cleaning the top of the bar. Willy steadfastly ignoring the moaning coming from the blue daemon.
"What's wrong with the Delmantri?"
"Hell if I know," Willy replied. "They've been coming here the last couple of nights telling anyone who would listen that some girl that they called the fallen hope is coming, or is already here, waiting for something."
"What's that supposed to-"
The Delmantri shot up from her chair and exclaimed, "Soon, before the ruler of the Were shows her face fully, the fallen hope will awaken from her long sleep and the means of her empowerment will be delivered. Then she, whose path was chosen by powers unknown but blocked by her sibling in Destiny, will face the choice to either follow the path of light or push further into the darkness."
The Delmantri swung her gaze across the room, lingering on him for a long moment before she sat back down into her seat, muttering to herself.
"Oookaaaay. Thanks for the floor show Willy. I'll see ya."
He barely heard Willy mutter about freaky daemons before he left the bar and headed for Giles' place. The Delmantri's proclamation tickled something deep in his memory but no matter how hard he thought about it, he did not know what that was all about but Giles might. Now I only have to get there without be attacked by SunnyHell's night life, he thought, looking at the darkening sky.
"Let's see. On the one hand, I could take the long and safe scenic route though town or I can use the shorter but more dangerous way through the graveyards."
He held both of his hands out like a balance, weighing which way to go. After a minute of thinking, he dropped both hands to his sides. "Aw who am I kidding. Since when do I ever do things the safe and easy way." Then he took off running towards the nearest cemetery.
('Soon, before the ruler of the Were shows her face fully, the fallen hope will awaken from her long sleep and the means of her empowerment will be delivered.')
Those words echoed in Xander's mind as he reread the name on the envelope for the hundredth time. Here he was, holding only God knows what for a hope that has fallen in both the physical and the moral sense. What was in the large envelope, he didn't know. He was unable to open it which suggested to him that it had been sealed with magic.
That alone would be cause enough for Xander to be concerned but not as much as the person that the package was addressed to.
The soft voice startled Xander out of his thoughts. Looking up, he found Kayla and Chance standing on the other side of the desk. Both wore a curious expressions but Xander could tell just from their body language that Kayla was more worried about himself than she was interested in the envelope.
"Who is that for?" Kayla pointed to the envelope in Xander's hands.
"Someone I haven't thought about in a long time." Xander responded, setting the envelope on the desk.
Chance leaned across the desk and read the name on the label, "Who's Faith?"