All the characters, settings, and details described in this story are the property of their creators, production companies, and distribution companies. No infringement is intended; no profit will be made.Not-the-Author’s Notes:
I did not write this. My brother did. Not only that, but I don’t get to complain about having to post his stories to my account, because the change in rules mean that his stories allow me to post my own non-crossover fanfic. Heh. Heh. Heh. Just don’t say anything to my brother…WARNING:
This story contains some pretty extreme violence in it. Phoukabro took Xander off in a rather unexpected, though totally fitting, direction. I think phoukabro was channeling a bit of Stephen King, which considering the crossover, is pretty appropriate. At any rate, the violence is a bit harrowing, so feel free to scroll down past the really scary stuff.The One Who Sees
Xander gave a little sigh as he slid into the booth at the all night diner. He opened up the menu on the table and quickly looked over it. After a few minutes, a waitress walked up to the booth.
“What can I…” the waitress trailed off and stared at Xander’s eyepatch.
Xander smiled at her. “You’re wondering how I got it, right? ‘Travel the high seas, get lots of booty, say argh’, they told me. Then they hit me with the dress code, and I already spent my advance. Last time I use monster.com when job searching.”
The waitress stared mutely at Xander.
Xander sighed. “I’ll take the cheeseburger medium well. Side of fries. And a coke.”
The waitress nodded then backed away from the table. Xander watched as the waitress nervously turned and ran towards the kitchen.
“I hate wasting an A list quip on the unappreciative,” Xander muttered. He fished out his cell phone, and dialed a familiar number.
“Hey, Giles. It’s Xander. I just got back from Castle Rock. I’m in a small town called Cleaves Mills right now…. No, I booked a hotel room here then made a day trip to Castle Rock…. Because that place is, to put it mildly, fucked up. No way I’m spending the night in that town. And I’m speaking as someone who regularly slept outside in my family’s front yard in a sleeping bag in Sunnydale. And that was after I knew about the Hellmouth. Besides, I wanted to drop off Gobo to explore the city when I made my trip…. Gobo…. Gobo Fraggle. The little guy that’s been riding shotgun with me…. Are you sure? I thought I mentioned him before. Anyways, I got all the stock from that store, Needful Things. Looked like a bunch of useless crap to me. But the townsfolk were thrilled to see me take it away. I also picked up a couple of other things. One old Polaroid camera, and word processor. Some guy just walked up and asked me to get rid of them.”
Xander looked up and saw a couple of uniformed cops enter. The waitress immediately went to them.
“Anyway, I’m supposed to meet with your disposal guy tomorrow. He’ll take it off my hands and get rid of it. I’m glad you set everything up for this. Otherwise -”
“Get your hands up!”
Xander looked over and saw the two cops pointing their guns at him. “Giles? Call Riley. I’m going to need his help.”
“Drop the phone and slowly get out of the booth!” the lead cop ordered.
Xander put his phone down on the table, and carefully got out of the booth. He held his hands up.
“Did O’Neill send you guys? Cause I really thought it was okay for me to take all that stuff.”
“Be quiet!” the second cop shouted.
Xander shrugged. “Just trying to be pleasant. No need to be uncivil, right?”
The lead cop glared at Xander. He pulled Xander’s hands down and cuffed them behind his back.
“Oh, yeah. We’re always civil with kidnappers,” he said.
Johnny Smith followed his friend, Sheriff Walt Bannerman into the interrogation room. The suspect sat handcuffed to the table. Johnny noted the clothes the man wore, and the eyepatch on his face. Walt sat down beside the man, and Johnny took a seat next to him.
“I’m Sheriff Bannerman, this is my associate Johnny Smith. I understand you are one Alexander Harris. We’d like to ask you a few questions,” Walt said.
“Call me Xander. Now I don’t know if I’ll be able to help you any. But I’ll try,” Xander said.
“All we need to know is one thing: where’s the girl?”
Xander looked from Bannerman to Johnny. “Uh, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I just got into town this morning. Then I spent most of the day in Castle Rock.”
Bannerman glanced to Johnny. “This is the guy you saw, right?”
Johnny nodded. “That’s him. He was standing over the girl. Eyepatch and all. He’s even wearing the same clothes.”
Xander looked at Johnny in bewilderment. “Look, obviously there’s been some mix up. If you could just call up agent Riley Finn, he should be able to clear everything up. I have his number.”
Walt shook his head. “Johnny saw you by the girl.”
“First of all, I still don’t know what girl you’re talking about. Second, I’ve never seen this guy before in my life.”
Walt grimaced. “Johnny…he sees things.”
Xander looked up at Walt. “Is that a crack about the eyepatch?”
Johnny spoke up. “A while back, I was in a car accident that put me in a coma for several years. When I came out of it, I was different. When I touch certain items, I see visions of the past. Or future. Or present.”
“Oh,” Xander said. “So, you’re psychic. You should have just said that to begin with.”
“You…believe him? Just like that?” Walt asked.
“Sure,” Xander answered. “Seems perfectly reasonable to me. So you saw me wearing these clothes, standing over a missing girl. Right?”
“But,” Xander continued. “The visions you get can be of the future also.”
“Sheriff Bannerman?” A deputy appeared at the door. “We found something.”
“Sally Mason’s schoolbag,” the deputy handed Walt the item, already zipped up in an evidence bag. “It was found on the side of the rode, a few miles from her bus stop.”
Walt glanced at Johnny. “Look, I know we’re supposed to let the lab guys go over it first, but in kidnappings, time is of the essence.”
Walt tore open the evidence bag and dumped the item on the table. He looked at Johnny.
“You sure about this?” Johnny asked.
“You’re the one that sees things. This may be the best shot at finding her.”
Johnny reached out and touched the bag.Johnny stands on an earthen floor. He smells the musty odor and feels the damp air surrounding him. He glances at the floor and see a twelve year old girl, her hands and feet tied.
A tall man walks up and squats down beside her.
“Now, darling. Don’t cry. It’s almost over,” the man says in a soothing southern accent. He reaches out and strokes her hair
The girl on the floor sniffles at his touch. “Please let me go. I won’t tell anyone about you. I promise.”
The man shakes his head. The kind, gentle expression on his face clashes with the scene around him.
“Now there you go with your lying words. It’s the nature of all women to lie. But you will not seduce me with your wicked tongue and whorish attire. I am strong. And the Lord has given me a mission. You will…”
The man trails off as if distracted. He looks up and Johnny sees for the first time, the priest’s collar around his neck. The man looks around the room, until his gaze falls on Johnny.
“What are you doing here?”
Johnny dropped the schoolbag and stepped back from the table.
“Well, did you see anything?” Walt asked. “Is it Harris?”
Johnny shook his head. “No.”
Johnny walked with Walt back to the interrogation room.
“Johnny, I told you. I can’t keep this guy here. I was risking my neck putting out the APB on him after your first vision. But now you’re telling me he’s not even involved”
Xander looked up as they entered the room.
“Walt, just listen to me,” Johnny pleaded. “Xander had a point. The vision I had of him must have been of the future. That means maybe he can help us find Shannon. It has to be soon. He was wearing the same clothes in the vision that he has on now.”
Walt uncuffed Xander from the table. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience here, Mr. Harris. I hope you can appreciate the dire circumstances that they happened under.”
Xander rubbed his wrists. “Yeah. Missing girl. You got to do what you can.”
Xander started walking to the door. Johnny reached out to stop him.
“Please, just hear me out. I think you can help us-” Johnny grabbed Xander’s arm.Johnny looks around the room. Figures are fighting everywhere he looks. Johnny helps a blond girl up stand up.
The blond turns to him . “Xander, get them out of here. We have to retreat. Do it.”
Johnny looks around the room. Young girls are panicking and trying to exit through the door. The body of one girl lies on the floor with a twisted neck.
Johnny runs through the panicked group, directing the girls to the exit. He looks up and spots a man holding a girl up by her neck. He says something Johnny doesn't catch and swiftly breaks her neck. The blond girl rushes at the man. Johnny turns his attention back to the fight. He sees a young girl on the floor and goes to her side.
“Are you OK?” he asks.
The girl nods.
“Let's go,” Johnny says. “ Come on.”
Johnny helps the girl to her feet.
Johnny waves to the others. “ Let's go! Come on!”
A hand grabs Johnny and turns him around. Johnny is face to face with the man he saw threaten the missing girl.
“You're the one who sees everything, aren't you?” The man asks as he rears his hand back in front of Johnny's face. “Well, let's see what we can't do about that.”
The man plunges his thumb into Johnny's left eye, gouging it out. Johnny screams in agony.
Johnny fell to the floor, clutching his face. “Oh, God! Jesus!”
Walt knelt down by Johnny. “You okay? What happened?”
“I saw the kidnapper. Xander has already seen him. He’s a priest.”
Xander looked at Johnny in shock. “Caleb? No way! NO FUCKING WAY!”
Xander shook his head. He felt his knees weaken, and he fell back onto the chair. “She said he was dead. She told me she saw him die. She wouldn’t lie to me. Not about that.”
“Wait, so you know this guy?” Walt asked.
“God, I wish I didn’t,” Xander answered. “I had nightmares for over a year about him. There are still nights I wake up in a cold sweat, thinking I was back there.”
“He’s the one,” Johnny said. “He gouged out your eye.”
“Why would a priest gouge out his eye?”
“I DON’T KNOW!” Xander yelled.
“I think,” Johnny began. “I think he saw me. When he grabbed you. I think he was talking to me.”
Xander looked up. “What?”
“It’s happened before. Someone in my vision could see me. In the first vision he looked right at me. And the one just now, he called me the one who sees.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I lost my eye because you took a peek at the past?
Johnny got up off the floor and looked at Xander. “Please, tell us everything you know about him. You may be the key to finding him. A twelve year old girl’s life is at stake.”
“I don’t know if I can help you here,” Xander explained. “I only met him the one time.”
Xander gripped his hands tightly to stop them from shaking.
“He..” Xander’s voice hitched as be began talking. “He used to be a priest. He’s killed before. Women, girls really. Total misogynist. Kept talking about how women are unclean and whores and how he would rid the world of their filth.”
Xander took a deep breath. “I saw... I saw him kill two girls. Molly and Julia. They were barely out of high school. He stabbed and burned another girl named Shannon. She survived, but last I heard, she still has nightmares.”
“Where does he hide out? In my vision, I saw earthen floors. And there was a musty smell.”
“A winery,” Xander muttered.
“He was holed up in a winery in Sunnydale. But he only went there because there was something already hidden in it. I don’t know if he would do the same here.”
“There are a couple of wineries in the county,” Walt said. “I can see if there are any that are closed down right now.”
Xander stood up. “I need some fresh air.”
Walt nodded, but Johnny looked up alarmed. “You're not leaving, are you? You may still be able to help us find the girl.”
Xander looked at Johnny. “I just... I need a moment.”
Xander splashed cold water on his face and looked up in the bathroom mirror. He lifted his hand towards the eyepatch on his face, but stopped as his hand trembled.
“Get it together. You've got a job to do.”
Xander carefully removed the eyepatch and gazed at the ruined sight that was once his left eye.
“That son of a bitch is still out there. Can't hide from him.”
Xander put the eyepatch back on and adjusted it to cover his wound.
“You have to do this. He has an innocent girl that will die unless you stop him. Do it for Molly. Do it for Shannon. Do it for Julia. But most of all, do it so you'll know he can never hurt another person again.”
Xander inhaled deeply then slowly released his breath.
Walt and Johnny pulled up outside the winery in the patrolcar. Just behind them, Xander pulled up in his Humvee. Xander got out and quickly joined the two.
“This the place?” Xander asked.
“I think so,” Walt answered. “The other two wineries are open with workers going in and out all the time. This one closed down a couple of years ago. Anyone could break in and hide out here.”
Walt pulled out his service revolver. “We’ve got to assume this guy is dangerous. Stay behind me. I don’t want anyone who’s unarmed in front.”
Xander smiled and quickly felt the back of his jeans waistband. The .45 automatic was tucked in safely. “No problem. Don't want to get hurt.”
Johnny stumbled, so Xander grabbed his arm and helped him up. Xander saw Johnny's eyes glaze over for a moment, then refocus.
Johnny looked up at Xander. “Uh... thanks. I'm up.”
Xander squinted at Johnny. “You just had a vision, didn't you?”
Johnny grimaced. “It's not important.”
Xander looked at Johnny is disbelief. “You got to be kidding me. You go traipsing around my memories, going back to the worst moment of my life. Now you get another peek? What was it? Some emotional traumatizing event from elementary school? Or maybe you got a glimpse of some future reaming I'm going to get.”
Johnny shook his head. “It wasn't anything bad. I swear. It was actually pretty good from what I could tell. But it was personal, so -”
“So, nothing,” Xander said. “I've actually got some good news? Then lay it on me. It's the least you can do.”
Johnny sighed. “All right. When you get to Taggerty's -”
“Guys!” Walt said. “Get over here! The front doors been busted open.”
The three men stepped cautiously into the underground storage room. Sheriff Bannerman led the way, followed closely by Xander, with Johnny bringing up the rear. Johnny stopped and sniffed the air.
“What is it?” Walt asked.
“Damp air. Musty too,” Johnny answered. He glanced down to his feet. “Earthen floor. This is what I saw in my vision.”
“Oh, guys?” Xander asked. “Did I mention that this guys likes to set traps?”
Walt shook his head. “You forgot that little detail. Okay, we take this slow and safe. No one -”
A thumping echoed through the room.
Xander looked up. “There's a door at the far wall. That's where the noise is coming from.”
Xander ran to the door. Walt pulled out his service revolver and shouted after Xander. “Wait, a second! We have to be careful!”
Xander stopped, then looked at the door. He turned back to Walt. “Watch my back.”
Xander kicked the door open, then ducked by the wall to the side of the door. He quickly peered into the room, then pulled back. He turned back to Walt and Johnny.
“The girl's in there. I'm going in.”
Xander ran into the room and rushed to the girl's side. He pushed aside a dusty wine bottle on the floor. He quickly removed the blindfold and gag and began to untie her hands and feet.
“Sally? Are you hurt?”
Sally jerked away from his touch and began crying.
“Sally. Sally! Look at me!” Xander ordered.
Sally stopped and looked at Xander in fear.
“We're here to help. The sheriff is here. We're going to take you home. Do you understand? You're going home to your parents.”
Sally eyes darted around the room. “He's going to kill me. He's out there.”
Xander shook his head. “Not going to happen. You're going to be back with your family tonight. And back in school tomorrow. Did you do your homework?”
Sally looked up at Xander. “School? But I... do I have to?”
Xander smiled down at her. “I suppose you can skip a couple of days. But only if your parents agree. We better go check with them. Okay?”
“Can we have pizza tonight?” she asked quietly.
“Sure. Anchovies okay?”
Xander turned back and saw Walt and Johnny standing in the doorway. “She's okay. Any sign of -”
A figure stepped up behind Walt and brutally struck the back of his head. Walt pitched forward, sprawling on the ground.
“Walt!” Johnny yelled.
Caleb stepped into the light and backhanded Johnny. Johnny fell to the ground. Sally screamed the moment she saw Caleb's face. Xander fumbled, releasing Sally and trying to pull out the .45 in his waistband. Caleb spotted Xander across the room.
Caleb strode over to Xander. Just as Xander pulled the .45 clear, Caleb grabbed Xander by his wrist and neck. He twisted Xander's wrist and flung him to the ground. Xander landed next to Johnny, the .45 falling from his grasp. Caleb smiled as he looked down on Xander and tightened his grip on Xander's neck.
Xander glanced over to Johnny. “Johnny, the gun!”
Johnny glanced down at the .45 to his side. The spotted the inscription along the barrel.The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.
Johnny reached out and grabbed the gun. As his hand closed on the grip. A vision ripped through his skull.Johnny sees a man running down an alley. The man stumbles out of breath. He glances behind him, but doesn’t see anything. He turns back around and see a dark shape in front of him.
“Joseph Barrons. You have led a squalid life full of misdeeds.”
The man backed up.
“You have stolen from the poor to line your own pockets. You have beaten the helpless.”
The man began to sob at the nightmarish figure judging him.
“Earlier tonight, you killed a store owner that had only five dollars on him.”
The figure drew out his .45 automatic. The man trembled before him.
“How do you know all this?” he pleaded.
The figure took aim and slowly squeezed the trigger.
WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEART LURKS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN?
THE SHADOW KNOWS!
Johnny shook of the thundering voice in his vision. By the time his head cleared, Caleb reached over grabbed Johnny by the neck and flung him across the room.
Xander frantically reached for the closest object. His hand came across the old wine bottle, and he desperately grabbed hold of it. He swung the bottle, bringing it down on the back of Caleb's head. The bottle shattered, leaving Xander holding the bottle neck.
Caleb looked down on Xander. “I thought I took care of you already, boy. You have an eye for trouble. And if an eye offend thee, pluck it out.”
Caleb extended his thumb towards Xander's right eye.
“No!” Xander screamed. He stabbed the broken bottle in Caleb's face, the jagged edge piercing Caleb's eye.
Caleb roared in pain. He grabbed Xander's wrist and bent it back at a sharp angle. A snap rang out, as the bone broke.
Caleb got to his feet and turned towards Sally.
“Too little and too late, boy,” Caleb rasped. “All you're going to get for your troubles is another dead girl.”
Xander cradled his broken wrist to his chest. He struggled to his feet, but Caleb swatted him back down.
Caleb pulled out a large knife and advanced on Sally. He turned back to Xander.
“I want you to see this.”BLAMM! BLAMM! BLAMM!
Three bullets ripped through Caleb's chest. He toppled to the ground in a thud. Xander turned and saw Walt sitting up, aiming a now smoking revolver at Caleb's body.
“Walt! You okay?” Johnny asked.
“Little groggy,” Walt answered. “Very bruised. But I'm okay.”
“Broken wrist. Otherwise, I'm fine.”
Sally whimpered in the corner. Xander made his way over to her.
“Sally? You saw it. He's dead. He won't hurt you. He can't. Not anymore.”
Sally got up and ran past Caleb's body to Johnny. Johnny pulled her into a hug. Xander helped Walt to his feet and surveyed the room.
Xander turned to Johnny. “You need to get her out of here.”
Johnny shook his head. “I think we should wait for help.”
“Johnny. You need to get Sally to a hospital to get checked out. Walt may have a concussion. Caleb is dead. He's not going anywhere. The rest of us need to get some medical attention.”
Johnny looked down at Sally. “All right.”
The group made their way back to the vehicles. Johnny ushered Sally and Walt into the police car. As he started the car, Xander walked up to the door.
“You head to the hospital. I'll be right behind you.”
Xander watched Johnny drive away. Once the police car was out of sight, Xander walked over to the Humvee, unlocked the back door and pulled out some supplies. He then turned and went back down into the winery.
Blue sparks flickered on Caleb's wounds. As the lightning coursed through them, the wounds slowly healed. Caleb took a breath and sat up. He opened his eyes and saw Xander standing before him.
“Oh, you're back. I'm not ready yet. Give me a couple more minutes.”
Xander pointed the .45 at Caleb and shot him in the forehead.
Caleb came to and tried to sit up. He stopped as he realized that his hands and feet were tied down to the ground and his shirt was open. He looked and saw Xander standing over him. Xander had a makeshift splint on his broken wrist. In his uninjured hand, he held a machete.
“That's a mighty fine scar you got there.”
Xander pointed to the scar that ran from Caleb's right shoulder down to his groin.
“Let me guess. Buffy sliced you up and left your remains on the floor. Then one of your bringers must have bound you back together, and you came to.”
Caleb tugged his hands, testing the ropes.
Xander continued talking. “As long as you're not beheaded, you can pretty much bounce back from anything.”
Xander hefted the machete in his hand. “Well, almost anything.”
Xander swung the machete down, cleanly severing Caleb's left arm at the elbow.
As Caleb screamed in pain, Xander pulled out a digital camera and took a picture. The last thing Caleb saw before he passed out from the blood loss was the flash from the camera.
Caleb awoke. He saw Xander standing beside a fire burning a few feet away. An acrid odor filled the room. Xander glanced over at Caleb.
“Oh. You're back. So could you clear something up for me? What did the First Evil promise you? I figure you were already a murdering son of a bitch when he recruited you.”
Caleb glared at him. “The good Lord granted me strength and sight to carry out his mission. He gave me eternal life to carry out his wishes.”
Xander chuckled. “Sorry. Your boss was many things, but he was not the good Lord. And he may have given you strength and vision. But the eternal life? Not quite what happened. You would have had that anyway. You're an immortal.”
“I would have served him no matter what.”
Xander sighed. “Yeah. I bet you would have. But that does make it easier for me to do this.”
Xander swung the machete down onto Caleb's right arm. Caleb screamed in pain as he bled out.
Xander stood over Caleb and took another picture.
Caleb woke up once more. He looked up and saw Xander throw his right arm onto the fire. Xander turned back to Caleb.
“It's probably overkill. But if you rejoin the severed limb, it may heal up. So better just to burn them up. Bodies are very hard to burn up completely. But add a couple of phosphorous flares, and it'll go right up.”
Xander walked around Caleb, talking casually. “I had nightmares. You know the god awful nightmares you would have as a kid that a monster was after you? When you finally wake up, it takes a few seconds to figure out where you are. Then you just feel so relieved that it was only a dream. I had those every night for months after I met you.”
“You might have guessed that I have a lot of issues to work out. So this is like Christmas came early. You're lying there disarmed,” Xander chuckled. “Literally. And I got nothing better to do.”
Caleb's eyes burned with fury at Xander. “The Lord will strike you down for this, boy.”
Xander squatted so he could whisper into Caleb's ear.
“I got news for you. Your Lord? He ain't here right now. So we'll just do this without him,” Xander glanced at his watch. “It's been awhile. Better wrap this up before the Sheriff realizes I'm AWOL.”
Xander hefted the machete then chopped it down on Caleb's right knee. Just as the pain hit Caleb, Xander brutally did the same to his left knee. Xander pulled out his camera and snapped a couple of shots.
When Caleb came to, he immediately saw he was no longer in the winery. Instead he was lying on a plastic sheet in the back of Xander's Humvee. The vehicle was moving, but soon stopped. Caleb heard the driver get out and walk to the back. The door opened, and Xander looked down on him. With his uninjured hand, he grabbed Caleb and pulled him out.
“Don't worry. I'll be out of your life soon. You know the funniest part of this thing? Your boss never felt the need to fill you in on how your immortality works. See the whole thing can end any day. The deal breaker is decapitation. You lose your head and it's game over. Sounds easy, right? Well the tricky thing is there are a lot of immortals out there. And some of them have this wacky habit of hunting the others and cutting off their heads. Which, if you can fight back, isn't too bad. But when you have no arms or legs, kinda sucks.”
Xander stopped dragging Caleb, and pulled out his machete. “But don't worry. I'll make sure none of them are ever a threat to you. Are you ready for the big surprise?”
Sweat ran down Caleb's neck. He quickly shook his head. Xander leaned down as whispered directly into Caleb's ear.
“I'm not going to kill you.”
Xander stood up and tossed his machete away. “I was going to kill you. For the whole eye thing. And you know, cuz you're an evil son of a bitch. But then I thought about Molly and Julia. And I thought about Shannon. And I figured why should I let you off so easy. Instead, I'm going to make you suffer. And as you're suffering I want you to remember all the pain and death you caused and know that you deserve every second of it.”
Back at the police station, Johnny ran into Walt Bannerman.
“Walt! Have you seen any sign of Harris?”
Walt shook his head.
“Damn!” Johnny cursed. “I should never had left without him. I can't believe I thought he would follow. Now both he and Caleb are missing. Have you put an APB out for him?”
“Johnny,” Walt began. “I got a call from Homeland Security. You remember Harris mentioning an agent Riley Finn.”
“Yeah. He wanted us to call him.”
“Well, it turns out he gave me a call,” Walt said. “Basically I've been ordered to drop the investigation.”
“You're kidding? You're just going to forget about all this? But we need to -”
Walt stopped Johnny. “Look, Sally Mason is back with her family, safe and sound. The guy that snatched her is dead. I put three slugs into him myself. Anything after that is just paperwork as far as I'm concerned.”
The next morning, Xander met Giles's contact at the docks. He walked up to the freighter captain and said hello.
“You Harris?” the captain asked.
“Yeah, that's me. You going to take all this stuff off my hands?”
The captain nodded. “Mr. Giles said I'm to take it all to Devon where it will be properly disposed of.”
Xander nodded. “Yeah. I got one extra item though. It's sealed up in an oildrum. But we can't destroy it. If we do, some unspeakable evil will escape.”
“How do you want me to handle it?” the captain asked.
“I figure we drop it off where no one will ever run across it. Let's say, bottom of the Mariana Trench. Can you do that?”
“All part of the service. Mr. Giles is paying us well. We don't want to disappoint.”
The captain turned to his crew and directed them to begin loading the cargo Xander brought. He turned back to Xander and studied him.
“You mind me asking you a question?”
“How'd you lose the eye?”
“I uh, was in a fight,” Xander explained. “ Actually, I was trying to get away from the fight when this guy jumped me. He's the one that did it.”
“Jesus. What kind of sick bastard does that?”
“That's the question I've asked myself many a time.”
“So what happened to that guy?”
Xander paused for a moment and looked over to the crew loading the cargo. He turned back to the captain with a bitter smile. “He's in the oildrum.”
The captain's jaw gaped open. He turned to see the oildrum being loaded, then turned back to Xander. Xander shrugged.
The captain let out a bark of nervous laughter. “Oh, man. You almost had me there. Mr. Giles warned me you were a joker. 'He's in the oildrum.'”
The captain laughed and shook his head as he walked back to the ramp to his ship.
Xander turned and walked back to his Humvee. He got in and turned to his passenger.
“You belted in there, Gobo?”
“Yes, Mr. Xander. Are we ready to do some more exploring?”
“In a couple of minutes. I need to call someone first.”
Xander pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number.
“Yes?” the voice on the other end asked.
“Hey, this is Xander.”
“Ah, Xander. Haven't heard from you in awhile. How can I help you?”
“I forgot who's assigned to Cleveland these days. Is Shannon over there?” Xander asked.
“That's right,” Robin answered. “But she's out on patrol with Faith and Chao-Ahn. Did you need to speak with her?”
“Yeah. Tell me, do you know if she still has those nightmares?”
Robin paused. “Not as frequently. But yes, she still has them a couple of nights a week.”
“When she gets back, can you have her call me? I want to e-mail her some pictures. They may help her sleep better at night.”
“Yeah, I can do that. Anything else?”
“Nope, that's it.”
“All right then,” Robin said. “And Xander?”
“It's good to hear you're back in the states. I know you were in bad shape for a while. You should drop by if you're ever in the neighborhood.”
“Thanks man. I may just do that.”
Xander ended the call and put his phone away. He turned back to Gobo.
“I bought some fresh radishes for you to snack on. You ready to head on out?”
“Aw, thanks Mr. Xander. I sure am ready. Where are we heading?” Gobo asked.