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Way of the Warrior

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Heart of the Dragon". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Xander has embraced the Iron Fist, becoming the Immortal Weapon of K'un-L'un. But, with that come new challenges, and old ones. Sequel to Like a Thing Unto Iron.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > Marvel Knights
Television > Law and Order
Television > Sons of Anarchy
neoolongFR1814143,74794127,25512 Dec 089 Aug 09Yes

Chapter Three: In the Air Tonight

“You find anything?” Xander asked, leaning in behind Jenny’s right shoulder as she sat in front of the hotel room’s desk. Since Boston was one of their main destinations, he had insisted on splurging a little more. Managing to luck into a suite with two rooms, they actually had some privacy for once. Of course, it wasn’t without some suspicions.

The gypsy looked up over her shoulder briefly, before looking back at the computer screen. Xander had wanted to do it before they had left, but it hadn’t been a good idea. This way, there would be less of a chance that the security breach in the school’s computer network would be detected. She’d done some minor work on the drive over, but that had mainly been to eat up time. Her boyfriend had been like a man consumed, pretty much heading in a straight line, or as much of one as possible, towards the city. “Yeah. Same database as we use in Sunnydale, so I was able to find her school record pretty easily. There’s a picture too.”

Jenny loaded a database management system that would run the school files that she had downloaded. It didn’t take long before she pulled up the Boston potential’s file.

Xander just looked at it. Faith Lehane did not look happy. Likely due to the school photo part of it. Those never went well. Still, she was definitely hot, although more so in that trying too hard high school way. Brunette and heavy makeup, with really deep artificially enhanced red lips. Definitely his type, if he was that same kid from six months ago. But, his tastes had changed, as he had. Still, he had to admit that he was impressed; she was pretty much everyone’s type if he had to be honest. This particular potential was no wallflower.

“Where’s she living?” the boy said after a few moments. He put his hands on Jenny’s shoulders, feeling the tension in them. He massaged them, tapping a little into his chi, and making his hands glow. They started to warm as well.

“Mmmm,” the gypsy moaned for a moment. She could feel the heat penetrate into her tired and sore muscles, relaxing her. It was just another of Xander’s increasingly varied abilities. He could punch through a brick wall, but he could also heal with the same hands. And odd sort of power to have, of which there were a myriad of alternate uses, something they had both come to enjoy exploring. She snapped out of it quickly, though still let Xander work on her shoulders. “Looks like she was staying with a foster family, the Jones, for a little while, there was some trouble there, but she’s with a new guardian now. Diana Dormer, new foster mother.”

“Which matches the name of record for the address that Giles had,” Xander continued on, still looking at the screen. By all accounts, that was enough information. Foster kid bounced around the system and finally picked up by a Watcher. Frosty perhaps, but from her expression and appearance, Faith didn’t look to be a mindless Council drone. “What do you think?”

Jenny put a hand on one of Xander’s, stopping his movements. She didn’t start speaking until he looked down at her. “We came this far. Might as well take a look.”

Xander considered the notion. It made sense, and they had already come all that way. It was what he was in the city for anyway. “Okay. I don’t suppose she’s taking summer school.”

Jenny grinned and shook her head, shoulder length dark hair moving with her. “No, that would be too easy. Try not to get caught this time.”

“Look through the Social Services database. There might be something there that could be of use.” Xander smiled as he looked back at the screen, memorizing Faith’s appearance. He didn’t imagine that anything in there would be pleasant. The smile didn’t reach his eyes.

xxx

He sat near the corner, trying to look inconspicuous. It worked for the most part, since most of the South Boston residents that did pass him didn’t spare him a glance. Xander had considered trying to work his chi to see if he could create an area effect like the hypnosis thing that Orson had taught him, but it had turned out not to be necessary.

It was the middle of the day already and he knew that the two females that were inside the apartment that he was currently scoping out where still in there. He’d seen them through a window in the morning and they were still in there, despite the increasingly late hour. Kind of annoying actually, though it was mitigated by the fact that he had a book. And a pack of Twinkies.

The girls had declined to go along on the stakeout with him. Instead, Nancy had wanted to visit some shop, Bloodstone Curios, in the nice area of town. A real learning opportunity for Vi, as well as a potential source of information and the work-related equivalent of souvenirs.

Sound and movement drew his attention from his own reverie, his eyes surreptitiously moving up to take in the two figures exit the front apartment door and start walking down the street. Diana Dormer met his expectations. From Jenny’s net searches she had turned out to be a former Harvard professor in folklore and mythology. European focus, which was somewhat unfortunate he supposed.

Quit not too long ago to take over the guardianship of a particular young woman.

She looked to be in her late thirties, which made her appropriate familial-wise to the young brunette in tight clothes that was walking next to her. Well, more like stalking next to her, given Faith’s readily apparent amount of projected confidence. On the surface, it seemed like traditional mom and rebellious teenage daughter. He knew the truth though.

Xander put the science fiction novel that he had been reading back into his pack. The opened package of Twinkies was shoved back in as well. He pulled the shoulder bag over his shoulder and stood up from the bench and walked along the street, making sure that he was as inconspicuous as possible as he trailed the two women down the street.

He only hoped it would go better this time. Another appearance by the Thunderer that blew his cover would just be ridiculously annoying.

xxx

Jenny cocked a well-shaped eyebrow at the room that they had just stepped into. It was large and though a converted living room of some sort, it seemed appropriate for the curio shop that it now was. The other rooms of the large house had been turned into a museum. She had never heard of Bloodstone Curios, but according to Nancy, it was quite well known in the more traditional occult circles. The technopagan supposed there had been a slight hint of disapproval in that toward her line of mystical study.

The large grey stone mansion had been somewhat surprising, but then again, she supposed that the wealthy could afford to be eccentric. The Randall Family had had a surprising number of resources and property. It was unlikely that even Orson had known the full extent. It all belonged to Xander now though. Though they both had to agree that they would rather have had Orson back.

The dark haired gypsy strode into the room, her short heels muted on the plush carpet. Her gaze took in the multiple displays and shelves, most of them filled with seemingly arcane objects and books. Nancy and Vi were behind her, taking in the scene themselves.

She supposed that the Council affiliated in the group would be there just to take the site in, and maybe find some educational material. But, she had been tasked with another mission by Xander. Jenny strode forward toward the back of the room and the main counter. There was a short bald man with a heavy mustache that walked throughout the store, but she had a feeling that the pretty young blonde woman that was behind the counter was the one to talk to. Despite the fact that she appeared to be in her early twenties, if that.

Jenny reached the counter, sparing a quick glance at the items in the glass case. They looked like normal antiques of varying culture and origin, and completely out of her range of specialty.

“I’m Elsa Bloodstone. Is there something I can help you with?” the young woman spoke, looking at the newest customer in her family’s shop. It wasn’t strictly needed, as the family was extremely well off, but it still paid to be in the trade given her other line of business. At least, when she wasn’t away at college.

Jenny reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a soft dark blue velvet bag. Drawing the strings, she removed a relatively large clear pyramid and set it on the countertop. It looked to be made of glass, but she knew that it was a crystal of some sort. Xander had found it amongst Orson’s things, but there hadn’t been a note or any other descriptions designating what it was. She had run some computer searches on it, but the signal to noise ratio had been so bad that it had been a complete waste of time. “Yes, I recently acquired this, and was wondering if you would be able to identify it and what it had been used for.”

Elsa looked down at the crystal, not recognizing it instantly. She frowned slightly, wondering about its significance. Looking up at the potential customer, she spoke, “I’m afraid not. I can ask around for you…”

“Well, I’ll only be in town for a week or so,” Jenny inserted into the silence. She didn’t know exactly how much she should say, but figured that any information would be worth the risk. “It would be nice if you could do what you can in the meantime.”

“Alright, is there anything you can tell me about it?” Elsa asked, carefully examining the woman in front of her as unobtrusively as possible. She couldn’t be too careful these days, given her sideline. The pretty brunette seemed okay to her. And the old golden oil lamp at the front of the store did not signal any strong mystical presence. “Miss…”

“Jenny,” the gypsy said, with a smile. “You can call me Jenny. And the piece was part of an inheritance; there was no information about it that I could find.”

She picked the crystal up and deposited it back into its bag, slipping it into her pocket again. She wasn’t psychic, nor could she read auras, but Jenny got the distinct impression that the woman behind the counter could be trusted.

Elsa looked at her, lips twitching for a moment. The fact that the woman was a temporary visitor, and may never have even been to Boston before concerned her. Not because the woman could be a threat to her, but for other reasons. “Have you ever been to Boston before?”

Jenny shook her head. “No, this is just a vacation, but my friend heard about your shop and I thought that it might be helpful. I can pay for your time-“

“No, that’s quite alright. I have the time,” Elsa interjected with a raised hand. She hesitated for a moment and considered exactly what she could say. There had been rumors circulating among those in the underworld recently, and what she had seen in the last couple of weeks had convinced her that there was something out there. She was planning on working on it that night as a matter of fact. “Are you…are you in the trade?”

Jenny detected a hint of tenseness in the young woman’s voice, and looked at her carefully. She didn’t even acknowledge the others in her party as they walked up beside her at the counter. “I am. Is there something I should be aware of?”

The proprietress of the curio shop pursed her lips for a moment before speaking, “there’s been talk of a master vampire that’s recently come into town. Different than most. An old one. I mean really old. Unable to control the change. Nobody knows why he’s here, or if he’s here to stay, but you should be careful. Stay inside at night and take all the usual precautions.”

“Did you happen to have a name?” Nancy asked, inserting herself into the conversation. While the Council did not have the resources to track the movements of every master vampire rumor, it did have an intelligence network that could be used for information. So far, she hadn’t heard anything of this new development. Even if she had been on the road.

Elsa quickly glanced at the other woman, taking in the younger girl that stood beside her as well. Gears started working in her head, hypotheses forming. But, that could wait. “I heard a couple of names thrown around, but the one that shows up the most is Kakistos.”

Nancy’s eyes widened at the name. She didn’t have to look that one up in the texts, she would have reckoned that most Watchers wouldn’t.

xxx

Xander stood on the opposite side of the street, watching as the two women walked into a dojo. It was small and seemed to have little in the way of advertisement, but it certainly drew his attention. Giles trained Buffy and Kendra. And Nancy used to be the one to solely train Vi. It struck him as odd that this newest potential went to an actual martial arts studio to train. Although, upon further thought, it did seem reasonable. Not every Watcher would necessarily be cut out to teach fighting, and Diana Dormer had been a professor. She may have no combat skills of her own, instead utilizing those of the resources that she could find locally.

It made more sense considering the dates on her school records. Unlike Vi or Kendra, all signs pointed towards Faith being a late discovery by the Council, like Buffy. The Watcher Dormer had only been in the picture a couple of months if the school records were any indication.

Still standing there, Xander noticed as the Watcher exited the storefront and walked back the way she had come. Likely heading back home after dropping off her charge. He was glad that she didn’t seem to notice him as he bent down to fake tie his shoes. Taking the time to run through his options, the Iron Fist decided that he might as well get a closer look at the potential. He had come this far after all, might as well go all the way.

xxx

“You sure you want to do this?” Jason said, shoving a cut down shotgun into a long black duffle bag. Technically it was illegal to have modified the weapon in such a fashion, but given that what he was going to do with Oliver was also illegal, he didn’t give it a second thought.

He’d been working on the weapons with his friend all along anyhow. There would be no surprises.

“Yes,” the police detective said quietly, placing his own shotgun into a bag. He picked up a small plastic box and opened it up, taking out one of the rounds that were inside. It was from the batch that he and Jason had worked on. Silver pellets and some other more esoteric stuff, it would take out a few different types of supernatural creature. The fact that it was still metal piercing flesh, soft as it could be, meant that it would take out humans regardless.

Oliver replaced the shell and closed the box, putting it into the bag. He followed it up with a couple of other boxes. They were different colors, color-coded for different types of shells. He didn’t want to know exactly where Jason had gotten them all, but he was glad for them alright.

“You have the sample?” Jason asked, glancing over at his temporary partner as he zipped up his bag. He could see the nervousness in his old friend. If they didn’t know each other as they did, he would have been under the impression that Oliver was scared of the situation. But, he knew better. Oliver was more worried about the circumstances of the situation, and the moral implications, rather than just who was breaking the law.

The detective nodded, reaching into his pants pocket and pulling out a plastic vial. It was filled with a dark substance that not been successfully identified yet. The forensic teams thought it was some contaminated blood sample, but he knew better. One or more of the Hellions had gotten tagged at the big scramble a little while back and had left behind something useful. Or at least it would be after they got the Old Woman to work her magic on it.

He put it back into his pocket, feeling the weight of it, despite the small size. Oliver had had to take it from the station, taking extra precautions to make sure he wasn’t caught. The detective didn’t much like having to do that either.

But, some things needed doing if they were going to head off the bloodshed.

xxx

There weren’t that many people inside the dojo. From what he could tell, it was barely scrapping by as it was. It wasn’t some black belt mill as far as he could tell; a definite plus in his book. The smell of old sweat and liniment told him that much. A few students were working with what looked like an assistant instructor, while he noticed that Faith was stretching in the corner.

Xander smiled slightly as he noticed that the potential was dressed differently than the rest. Instead of the standard gi, she was wearing stretchy exercise pants and a tight sleeveless t-shirt. He could certainly admire the view, though he was more focused on the fact that she didn’t seem to have to tow the line in the dojo. He wondered if that meant that the instructor knew what she really was.

His internal thought process was interrupted as a tall, powerfully built Asian man walked over to him. Looking over at him, Xander figured that it had to be the owner of the place.

“Can I help you?” the man said in a deep voice, giving the newcomer the once over. While he worked with the advanced students and with certain special ones, he made sure that he knew all of the people that studied there. Given the nature of some of the individuals that he taught for the Council, it was important for him to know who came around.

“Yeah, I’m going to be in town a couple of weeks or so, and I was looking for a place to practice,” Xander said, the lie coming easily. That was another thing that Orson had taught him. “Just stumbled across this place.”

The Asian man frowned slightly, still looking at the boy. He was young, and the baggy clothes hid much of his body, but he seemed to be in decent shape. But, there was a depressingly large number of the youth, predominately male, that did not understand why the martial arts should be studied. “There’s a Y a couple of blocks from here. I can get you the address.”

Xander smiled as nicely as he could. “Actually, I was looking more for sparring partners. Not a gym. Is there a reason…I mean you don’t seem to be that busy right now.”

The Iron Fist noticed that the potential had stopped stretching and was checking him out, curiosity plain on her face. Which could work to his advantage, or not, if he had to try to tail her without her knowing about it.

The proprietor relaxed a bit, relenting. “Alright, let me see you spar first. If I think you won’t hurt yourself, then you can stay.”

“You think I’m a poser?” Xander said with a smirk, inwardly glad that he wouldn’t get booted. Now all he had to do was pass the audition.

The Asian man shrugged. “That remains to be seen.”

Xander returned the gesture, taking off his leather bookbag and walking over to the matted main area of the dojo. He placed it on the edge, taking the time to take off his shoes and hoody as well. The Iron Fist noticed that the instructor came along also, and that the assistant and his students had stopped to look at him. He turned around and stepped backwards onto the mat, looking the instructor in the eye. “So exactly what do you want me to do?”

The man smiled, and looked over at his most advanced student in the place. Faith had been eyeing the young man intently. If the boy was worthy, he wouldn’t be thrown by the skill of the young woman. “Her.”

Xander turned around, instantly knowing who he was referring to. He put on what he hoped was an open smile. “Hey, I’m Xander.”

Faith just looked at him, smirking a bit. Sensei Kanno didn’t seem all that impressed by the boy, though with his hoody off, she could tell that he had some muscle. Either way, it would be practice for her, and taking arrogant guys down never got old. “Good band?”

The Sunnydale native looked down, remembering that he was wearing a band shirt. “Dingoes Ate My Baby? Well, let’s just say that what they lack in skill they make up for in volume.”

Faith smiled a little wider at that. She waited for him to move closer to the center of the mats, and though there was enough room for the class to continue, she noticed that they were just standing on the sides and watching.

Xander knew that it was a test. One that he didn’t want to fail; it would be too embarrassing otherwise. He stretched out, wondering exactly what he would do. Obviously he couldn’t use all of his power, and that’s not even considering the actual Iron Fist. And suffice it to say, that he didn’t want to hurt her either. And making her lose too badly would certainly not help. Of course, he still had to be careful and not underestimate her. It was still something of a setup.

He breathed in and out, relaxing and bringing his arms up in a ready stance. The Iron Fist watched as Faith did the same. “You gonna tell me your name?”

Faith just smiled, and snapped out with a left jab, hoping to catch the boy unawares. She aimed at his chin, though she would have pulled it back a bit at the last second before connecting.

Xander saw it coming and deflected it with his right forearm. He took a step back as Faith moved in. Blocking more blows, Xander paced in a circle, not yet striking. “So, uh, you going to tell me your name? Or is this bad girl shtick supposed to impress me.”

It was just pissing her off. Xander figured that out a second too late as he saw her narrow her eyes. She came at him in a flash, using her limited enhanced abilities to snap out in flurry of kicks.

He dodged and blocked them, sending a few slowed down strikes in return to make her take some care. She retaliated more carefully this time, and he let her tag him lightly a little big, just to keep it from being too perfect.

Faith tried for another kick, snapping it forward towards Xander’s upper chest.

Bending low, Xander ducked under her leg as he swept the leg she was standing on. As he rose, he caught her arm as she fell, twisting it behind her and folding the joints. With his leverage, there was no way for her to escape without dislocating a joint or breaking her arm. At least, if it had been actual combat.

Standing over her, Xander smiled guilelessly as she glared up at him, her head twisted as much as possible. “So, uh, you going to tell me your name?”

“Get off of me!” the potential snarled, trying to move. She found that she couldn’t without hurting her arm.

Xander could tell that she was angry, but beyond that he caught a hint of something tense. Almost like fear. Guarded, but he was sure that ne noticed it. Suddenly, it wasn’t just fun and games anymore. He eased off, moving her limb back into place, and helping her to his feet.

He glanced over at the man who had set the whole thing up. The Asian man was emotionless as he watched them. “I pass the test?”

The man nodded, not bothering to smile. “I am Kanno. I would be honored to have you train here. I’ll go get the paperwork.”

Xander smiled and exhaled audibly as the man walked into the office at the end of the dojo. Probably would have been better to have that filled out before he had done anything. Less chance of a liability that way. Still, things had worked themselves out.

Pulling at the end of his t-shirt, Xander wiped a bit of sweat off of his forehead. He moved over to the side and took a seat against the wall. He noticed that Faith walked over as well, though she decided to stand over him. The obvious position of power.

“You going to tell me your name now?” Xander said, smiling goofily up at her.

Faith found that she couldn’t stay angry. He was way too goofy for that. “Faith.”

“Well, that wasn’t so hard now was it?” Xander continued to look up at her, wondering exactly what he should do now. It wasn’t like he had some great plan for how this should turn out. “Uh…”

“So what are you in Boston for?” Faith asked, deciding to sit down next to him.

“Family vacation thing. But, she’s got some work that came up, so I’m basically on my own for now,” Xander supplied vaguely. It was completely and totally unlike anything he had seen James Bond pull off. Not even George Lazenby Bond was as unsuave. “For a while anyway. And since I’m not exactly of the desire to Frommer my way through this, you have any suggestions of what there is to do around here? I mean, besides kicking your ass?”

Faith glared at him again, though the expression on his face and his tone of voice told her that he hadn’t meant it seriously. For the life of her, she didn’t think that he was a complete dick like pretty much every guy that she had met around that was her age. “There are a few clubs and stuff I guess. What are you into?”

xxx

“You have a date with her?” Jenny exclaimed, glaring at the young man currently seated on the couch in the common area of their suite. “What happened to not getting caught?”

Xander tried to take the outburst in stride, and not say anything. He really couldn’t blame her. He wouldn’t want her to go out with some guy either, even if it was some undercover thing. “She…she was confusing. She was confusing me with words.”

“So now you have to go out with her?” Vi repeated, somewhat surprised by the computer teacher’s vehemence. She supposed that it was bad, considering that Xander was supposed to try to keep a low profile there.

“Yeah,” Xander said, turning his attention to the female that wasn’t really really angry with him. “There’s a club she wants to go to. I guess it’s going to be like the Bronze.”

“I don’t like this,” Nancy said at last. She had been caught off-guard by Jenny’s outburst as well, though she wondered if she shouldn’t have been. Vi had filled her in on what had happened in El Paso. “The more you appear around potentials, and maybe Watchers, the more likely it’s going to be that you get discovered.”

“Look, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, okay?” Xander said, trying to keep things on the bright side. He looked between the three women, an apologetic expression thrown towards his girlfriend. “I do this, maybe see if I can at least meet her guardian, make sure everything’s good. If that’s even necessary. Then we take care of this master vampire problem, and then on to New York. Hopefully, I don’t need to see her again, and everything works out.”

“Do you really think that’s going to happen, Xander?” Nancy said, skepticism in her voice.

The Iron Fist looked up and shrugged at her hopefully. “It could happen. I mean, the odds have to be with us one of these times right?”

xxx

“I’m sorry,” Xander said, looking down at the carpet and brushing a hand through his hair. He finished buttoning up his shirt before speaking again. “It just happened, and it’s not like anything’s really going to happen tonight anyway.”

He looked up, still noticing that Jenny looked rather frosty.

“It just happened,” Jenny said, crossing her arms across her chest. She was angry, though logically it wasn’t his fault. “Just like it just happened with Vi?”

Xander froze for a second. That didn’t exactly help him. “Uh, yes?”

Jenny sighed and turned around, exasperated at her boyfriend. And at herself too. It was unfair of her to really blame Xander. And it wasn’t like he had tried keeping it a secret from her too. It had been out of his control, and he had told her as soon as was feasible. He had acted correctly, but she couldn’t help but feel angry at him.

Just like he was technically correct with Faith. It was just frustrating that she couldn’t exactly come out with their relationship, and had to put up with other girls potentially wanting to make a play for Xander. It was just so complicated sometimes.

Xander stood up and walked toward her, embracing the gypsy slowly from behind. He kissed the back of her neck tenderly. “I know exactly what I have to come home to. Nothing’s going to happen tonight, Janna.”

She sighed and turned around, his arms still around her. Jenny smiled a little sadly at him. “I know. And, see that it doesn’t.”

xxx

It wasn’t like the Bronze. It so was not like the Bronze. For one thing, despite the shenanigans that went on with vampires and the like, the Bronze was operated legally. This place was breaking a number of laws. They had, through much cajoling and throwing of elbows, found a place to sit. Looking out onto the main dance floor of the club, it was completely packed. Definitely way past capacity. Faith was using nothing even resembling a decent fake ID, but had still managed to get in. And, the restroom had to be some kind of health code violation.

But, Faith seemed to be having the time of her life. If she would only keep her hands to herself, something he had picked up on early. Xander shook his head to himself slightly. James Bond never had this problem.

“Wild, huh?” Faith said, looking over at Xander. They had been dancing just minutes before, something she really enjoyed doing. Xander wasn’t half-bad, and was actually able to keep up with her. She wondered how he would fare in other areas.

“Oh yeah,” Xander said, nodding in agreement. While it was certainly a new experience, he was also looking for a way out. He might not have known everything about Faith’s story, but as far as he could tell, the limitations that Kendra had had in her life weren’t in place here. “So, you do this often?”

“What?” Faith asked. Xander wasn’t exactly her type. Though he seemed to be a lot more put together than the losers and slackers that she normally ran with. Whatever the case, he sure as hell had a lot more money to drop. It was worth it to try to keep him around.

“I don’t imagine your parents know about you drinking and partying it up like this,” Xander said, having to lean in close to her ear to be heard. He knew the assumption was wrong though. Still, he had to play it like he didn’t have the information that he did. “No offense. It’s just kind of surprising.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Faith said, frowning.

Xander noticed the change in expression, easily picking up the tension there. There was something in her past that wasn’t exactly pleasant and something she really didn’t want to talk about. He could relate, though he knew that this was hardly the time to discuss it. And she certainly wasn’t likely to do it with him at this point. “C’mon, let’s go. This place is getting old anyway. I get the feeling that there’s a lot more that you could show me.”

He smiled at her, making sure that the intent was obvious.

xxx

“Kakistos,” Jenny said looking at the computer screen. She didn’t bother to turn around to look at the potential and Watcher that were currently seated on the sofa looking through their own sources. At least the hotel had fast internet access. “Greek vampire. One of the oldest on record. So old that his hands and feet are cloven. He also had a number of minions, thought to carry over to this day. Replacements for the maenads that he used to command. He’s supposed to be pretty smart. This is bad.”

“His name means ‘the worst of the worst.’ And he just showed up here by coincidence.” Nancy frowned flipping through the text. It was hardly in-depth and was a simple historical guide, but it did contain a passage on the ancient named vampire. “I don’t suppose you have any information on why he might be here? There’s nothing of use in the books.”

Jenny shook her head as she continued to scan the database entry that she was looking at. “Nothing specific, but there’s some historical information here. He’s gone after potential slayers and Slayers before. 1940. Earlier at various times.”

She turned around, glancing at Vi. It didn’t make any sense though. There would be no way that Kakistos could know that she was in the city. “It has to be Faith. He had to have found out about her presence and is here to hunt her.”

Nancy looked over at the computer teacher, nodding gravely. “It’s plausible. Though it does make me wonder how he found her location. Security is tight, and the placements of all of the potentials are highly secret.”

“We found out where you were,” Jenny contradicted gently. The important thing currently though was to find a way to protect the Boston-based potential and her Watcher from a threat they might not even be aware of. “We need to find out where Kakistos currently is.”

“Should we call in the Slayers?” Vi asked, putting her own book down. There was hardly any information in there of use. It wasn’t like they had the full library to pull from, and while they had acquired a book from Elsa Bloodstone’s shop, it wasn’t very detailed.

“They’re needed in Sunnydale presently,” Nancy said, looking over towards her potential. She gripped the young girl’s hand briefly in comfort. “I’m sure that we can handle this.”

“Yes,” Jenny said, nodding having full confidence in Xander’s abilities. “But, we need information. I think we should call Elsa. See if she has any ideas where to find information on Kakistos’ location. There must be some sort of network that we can tap into.”

xxx

“So this is where you live?” Xander asked, looking up at the apartment building. It was probably midlevel in price. Not exactly some extravagant downtown pad, but hardly a tenement house. Money wasn’t likely to be an issue for her; it was probably more the ability to just blend in. “Nice.”

Faith shrugged as she stood on the steps leading up to the front door. She hadn’t been there that long, and it wasn’t exactly the most exciting of places, but it was a lot better than some of the other places that she had stayed in. “It’s okay.”

There was an awkward pause as nobody spoke. They had gone for coffee and had walked around and talked. It was a lot different than what she usually did at night.

The lull in conversation got increasingly uncomfortable. It was broken as Faith pulled Xander by the arm and dragged him up the steps.

“You sure you mom is going to be okay with this?” Xander said as he let himself be dragged through the door and towards the elevator. He noticed that Faith ignored the question and didn’t even look at him as she pressed the up button on the elevator panel.

“Foster mom,” Faith said, as the elevator doors opened up and she stepped in. The boy she had brought got in with her. She wasn’t quite sure, but she thought she detected some reluctance. It was odd; she knew she was hot and every other guy that had been in the same position had been all over her by this point. Earlier even.

“Oh. She cool?” Xander said in apparent idle conversation, though it was the actual intent of his interactions with her. He watched as the numbers on the top panel of the elevator counted up towards the floor that Faith lived on.

“Diana?” Faith said, casting a skeptical glance over at the dark haired boy. “She’s cool I guess. She’s not supposed to be here tonight till really late. Some folklore conference thing she needed to attend in Wellesley.”

Xander said nothing, shifting slightly in place as the elevator doors opened up. It was light in the hallway that they stepped into, and he let Faith lead them in the right direction. That last comment wasn’t something he really needed to have heard. There were all sorts of connotations that would be uncomfortably pleasant.

Faith let them into the apartment, watching as Xander carefully walked into the main room scoping it out. Something was twitching in her head. He seemed way too nervous for someone that was supposed to be getting lucky that night. He was probably just a virgin. She had to smile at that thought. Been a long time since she had spent any time with one of those.

Xander looked at the bookshelf that was at the center one of the walls. There were a number of books, a mixture of old textbooks and some newer novels. There were a few pictures on it as well. One that stuck out to him was of Faith and her guardian. Faith had a rather honest smile on her face, though he detected something guarded in her eyes. Like she wasn’t quite ready to fully display her emotions. It wasn’t an expression he liked on her face.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone. Xander flipped it open and pressed a few buttons, pretending to read a text message. He closed it and shoved it back into his pocket before turning around to look at the girl that had just come in way too close.

“I got to go,” Xander said, adding a disappointed smile to his face to complete the lie. “Family thing, and they want me back. Let me have your number and I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Faith just looked at him, a little bit of shock keeping her from saying anything. He was turning her down. Or he was such an idiot that he didn’t know what he was missing out on. “Uh, okay.”

She gave him her number, most of her thinking that he wasn’t going to call. Part of her was disappointed by that thought, something she hadn’t expected. It wasn’t like he was going to be in town for long anyway. Still, she found herself wanting to see him again. Odd for her, since he wasn’t even that hot.

“I promise I’ll call,” Xander said, saving the number in his cell phone. Which had meant dragging it out again. Still, it played to the spontaneity of it all.

He headed towards the door and walked out, declining Faith’s offer to walk him down. He kept himself blank as he headed down the hallway towards the elevator and waited without moving for the elevator to open.

It wasn’t until the elevator doors had closed and the car was moving down before he let out a shaky breath that he hadn’t known that he had been holding. Things had gotten way too heated for him. He had known that she was hot before starting the whole thing, but actually talking to her was too intense than could be gotten from a picture or just watching her walk down the street. Faith had been something else. But, there was hardly time to dwell on it. He was still on the clock.

xxx

“Master vampire here for the potential?” Xander said, flipping the page on one of the files that Jenny had printed out. He skimmed over it, picking out the important points. Which there weren’t many of, unfortunately. There was only the barest amount of modern material on the vampire. He had evidently gotten smarter as time went on, and was able to cover his tracks much better now.

“Pretty much,” Jenny said, watching him carefully. “We don’t know where he might set himself up, but I put in a call to someone we met in town, and there’s a couple of places that might be useful for information. How was your date?”

Xander looked up at her, putting the pages down. “Thankfully uneventful. I ducked out as early as I could. I’m going to have to call her tomorrow, but things look okay there. We can blow town once this vampire problem is dealt with.”

“Good,” Jenny said, making sure to keep her tone of voice unemotional.

“Yeah,” Xander noted awkwardly. He looked over at the Watcher in the room. “You think we can trust this Elsa? It’d be better to go in with a guide.”

“She would only help us once we mentioned that we were working with a demon hunter,” Nancy admitted. She was able to keep some of what the group did a secret, such as Vi and her official affiliations, but they had had to give something up.

“Demon hunter meaning me.” Xander put the pieces together. He supposed he was developing something of a reputation. “Okay. So what’s she then? Another demon hunter type?”

“More like a freelance occult investigator,” Nancy explained. The name had come up before in her duties. It was a good thing too, since it meant that they weren’t going into the situation completely blind. “She comes highly recommended as someone that can get the job done, despite her youth. You’re meeting her tonight. She was planning on looking for information, but was willing to delay till now so that she could meet you first.”

Xander checked his watch. It was a quarter to twelve. Bars closed at two in Boston, so there was still a couple of hours to do the whole gumshoe thing. “Okay, let’s do it.”

xxx

“You’re not exactly what I had in mind,” Elsa said, glancing over at the young man seated next to her. She made sure to keep her attention on the road though, as they sped down the highway toward the city.

Xander looked over at her as well. She was young. Older than him, but still young. For someone with the reputation that she supposedly had, Elsa Bloodstone was a very well put together surprise. “You and me both. Don’t worry though, I know what I’m doing.”

“You better,” Elsa said, hoping that she wouldn’t come to regret the decision. Usually people just asked her for help. It wasn’t often that anybody offered help of their own. But, something struck her as trustworthy about the group, and she had made the overture of working together. Hopefully it wouldn’t come back to bite her in the ass. “How long have you been doing this?”

“Couple of years,” Xander said after a moment. He looked out the window, watching as they got off the highway. From what Elsa had told him, the place they were going to was in the bad area of town. He adjusted himself, keeping the seatbelt from getting tangled in the shoulder holsters he had under his coat. “You?”

“My father trained me since I was young,” Elsa replied, pulling over and parking along the sidewalk. There weren’t many other spots taken on the street. Most demons didn’t have cars. “He was a monster hunter too. I come from a long line of hunters dating back for thousands of years.”

“Really?” Xander looked over at her skeptically as she removed her seatbelt. “I never heard of you guys before.”

“Okay, second in a long line of monster hunters,” Elsa admitted, blushing a little. “My father’s immortal.”

Xander got out of the car, smiling to himself. He looked up at the building they would be heading to as he smoothed his coat, making sure his weapons were covered. Though he had worn the coat over his costume before, he wasn’t dressed in the uniform of the Iron Fist. There would be no mask and dragon emblem. It was ironic, but he’d be more anonymous without disguising his face.

“So why are you guys so antsy about this vampire?” Elsa asked as they strode over to the demon bar. While she had been intending to investigate the situation herself, the women that had pressed her for information had seemed particularly adamant about it. Much more vehemently than the monster hunter would have expected from temporary residents of the city.

“He might be targeting an acquaintance of mine,” Xander said, as vaguely as he could. He looked around, making sure that they weren’t walking into a trap. As the time was getting late, or early technically, there weren’t many people on the street or milling about the bar’s entrance. “Naturally I can’t exactly let that happen.”

“A potential?” Elsa said, a hint of amusement on her lips.

Xander narrowed his eyes for a moment as he glanced at her. Evidently, he hadn’t been vague at all. “Something like that.”

He paused before speaking, stopping a little way from the bar to dig out his ID, a fake one, but one that would allow him entrance into the drinking establishment. Odd how that would be necessary in that type of place. “How’d you know?”

“Xander,” the blonde woman said reproachfully, the smile expanding. “I wouldn’t be much of an investigator if I couldn’t figure that out. That girl that came to my shop, she’s a potential. Stands to reason that that might be your cause for concern. Kakistos has targeted potentials before.”

Xander said nothing else as they passed through the security checkpoint. He made note of the fact that Elsa had her own fake ID since she was able to get through with no problems. From what he understood, she was in college, and only about halfway through.

The Iron Fist walked behind the blonde as she strode confidently through the crowd. Despite the hour the crowd was large and the music was still going strong. There was a strong and eclectic mix of demons in there, with a small number of humans. From the drinks they were carrying it didn’t look like they were vampires either. Working class group it looked like, especially from the couple of green-skinned reptilian looking demons dressed in denim. That was a sight to behold.

Standing behind and slightly to the right of the local demon hunter, Xander let Elsa go through the motions of information gathering. He just stood there and glowered, trying to look the part of the muscle. It didn’t seem to be strictly necessary as Elsa was having a merry time of roughing up the bartender by herself.

Looking to the sides at the crowd that made an effort to look disinterested, it was apparent to Xander that this wasn’t necessarily an uncommon experience. He couldn’t help but wonder why it wouldn’t make information less accessible if it flowed so free to Elsa.

“C’mon, we’re leaving,” Elsa said after a moment, dragging Xander by the coat towards the exit. She didn’t say anything more until they had exited the building.

xxx

“You have any powers I should be aware of?” Elsa said, hearing as Xander assembled a submachine gun next to her. It was a small piece, and looked pretty modern. Odd thing to pick when going vampire hunting.

“Yeah, it’s like Shaolin magic stuff,” Xander said, inserting a magazine and locking it into place. He placed the gun on the floor of the car and looked out the window. They were heading to the warehouse district, which was where Elsa’s source told her that Kakistos was holed up. With a heck of a lot of vampire minions it was mentioned. “You?”

“Invulnerability, super strength, and some others,” Elsa replied, not exactly knowing what Xander meant, but she had the general idea. “Guns don’t normally work on vampires. You need special loads for those?”

“Thanks,” Xander said, grinning over at her. “I got it covered.

xxx

The man yawned and rubbed at the rough stubble under his chin. It was way too early in the morning to have to deal with this, but he had gotten a call from the club. He was pretty much retired and only rode on the weekends, but he still helped out when he could. Once in, never out and all that.

Pushing some papers out of the way, he read over what he had found out. It was hard to read, being a fax of a copy of a copy of a police report. But, an old source of his on the Phoenix police department had managed to get it to him, and he had felt the need to inform the club. He found the relevant analysis and read it, loud enough so that the speaker phone would be able to get it all. It didn’t take that long to finish.

“You get all that?” the man said, looking over at the large black phone. He could imagine what the place on the other side of the line looked like. He had been there quite often and knew that it wouldn’t have changed very much. The only major one in the last decade that he could remember was placing John’s ’46 Knucklehead in tribute in the main hallway of the club. Despite his disagreements with how it was currently being run, tradition was important to the club. He was one of the first nine after all.

“Yeah, thanks,” a young voice called out over from the other side. It was Juice, the member of the club that had taken over his original intel duties. Things had gotten a lot more complicated really really quickly and instead of just finding things out through money and intimidation, it was all computers now. “Get some sleep, old man.”

“Fuck you,” the man said in a gravelly voice. It wasn’t meant as an insult per se, Juice had too much respect for that, despite how simple minded he could be at times. “Let me know if you need anything else. And stop calling me so late.”

The old man heard laughing on the other side of the line just before he pushed the button to cut the connection. Rubbing his eyes, the man turned off the light and stood up. Piney was a much more active member of the club, despite his health problems, but even he liked to sleep at night.

He never thought he’d get this old. Rory Harris laughed aloud, he was getting too old for the shit indeed.

xxx

“This isn’t right,” Xander said, looking through the binoculars through the top windows of the warehouse across the way from them. He glanced over at the woman next to him. Elsa had tied her hair in a bun and had placed a dark hat over it. Smart move since the blonde color would be less visible and the long hair would be less likely to be pulled in a fight. “I thought there was supposed to be thirty of Kakistos’ minions or something.”

“There are,” Elsa said, frowning. She couldn’t see much inside, but didn’t like how the situation was developing. “How many are in there?”

“Like five,” Xander said, working through it. He doubted they’d all be out for food or whatever, that would be much too visible in this area. Which could only mean one thing. “They’re making their move tonight. We need to get to her now.”

“What about Kakistos?” Elsa asked, getting up and moving back as Xander did.

Xander nodded, not bothering to stop as he made for the other side of the roof and way down. To him, there was no question of who to go after. “We’ll catch him later.”

xxx

“Shit,” Xander muttered under his breath as he took in the scene before him. His mind was working in overdrive as he applied what he had learned to divide up the situation into what he should do tactically. He relied what he could to Elsa, having to speak quickly.

Some of the vampires looked the worse for wear, Faith and maybe even her Watcher had put up quite a fight, but the two women had been overpowered. There didn’t seem to be enough to make up all of Kakistos’ gang, so they probably took out a number before getting captured. They were being dragged down the steps of the apartment building, struggling all the way. The smoke that was pouring out of their apartment window explained how the vampires had been able to get them outside their home, since he didn’t figure that they would have been invited in.

At least it appeared to just be smoke and not a fire that would led to a mass evacuation. That wouldn’t have helped the vampires either, so it was a small favor. Less chance of stray bullets hitting where they shouldn’t.

He glanced over at the driver, noting that Elsa looked intense as well. He forced himself to calm down, making sure that the adrenaline flowing through his body wouldn’t give him the shakes. “Ready?”

“Ready,” Elsa responded, jerking the wheel of her car as she slammed on the brakes. The Dodger Charger skidded to a stop just as she planned, at the angle she had planned, Xander already aiming out the open passenger window.

Firing in short controlled bursts, Xander shot the vampires that were holding onto the potential and her Watcher. Allowing his chi to power his rounds, the vampires burst into flames as the glowing bullets ripped throw them, the bullets looking like tracers as they lit up the night.

The Iron Fist ignored all that, opening the door and getting out as soon as he could. Faith and Diana were free and were attempting to fight off the remaining vampires, who were still trying to redeem the rapidly disintegrating situation.

He strode forward in confident steps, bent over his submachine gun, constantly firing into the mass of vampires as they tried to regroup. Limbs and heads exploded as the rounds pierced them. Some of them were dusted as their heads or chests were removed. The others just tried to crawl away or lay moaning in pain.

The remaining twelve broke for it knowing that they were getting chewed up by the ambush. Kakistos may take it out on their hides, but that was a probable death versus the definite one that was improbably being dealt out by the gunman that was still spitting glowing death at them.

Xander ejected the magazine that had just ran dry, and turned it upside down, loading the full magazine that he had taped to the old one. Technically it was bad form, but he had made sure to be aware of the extra length. He fired a couple of more bursts, taking out more vampires as they made for the two vans that were apparently their getaway.

Crouching down and sighting down the weapon, he placed a couple of empowered rounds into the gas tank of one of them, causing it to explode, sending a shockwave that threw more than a couple of the remaining vampires off their feet.

The remaining van tried to drive off, tires squealing, leaving the driver’s fellow minions to the gunman’s mercy. Xander altered his line of fire, and pumped a burst of rounds into left rear tire, causing the van to flip and crash into a couple of cars parked along the street.

Walking forward, Xander made sure that he wouldn’t be ambushed as he moved forward, shooting vampires as they lay or tried to get away. Reaching the overturned van, he waited until the driver had managed to stick his head over the open door before firing, blowing it away.

Moving forward, he made sure that it was clear before turning around. The remaining vampires were being eliminated by his new partner. Elsa had a gun strapped to her leg, but was using a long spear instead. He didn’t know how he had missed the long weapon in the car, but given the way that the metal tip was disposing off the vampires as it pierced their hearts, it may have something to do with the probable magical nature of the weapon.

Xander moved back over towards Faith who was currently kicking the shit out of one of the vampires. The pair of unlaced boots did wonders on the vampire’s increasingly bloody face. “Faith, that’s enough! We need to get out of here.”

Faith looked up in shock at the man, no boy, that had called her name. It was Xander, looking much more intense, and way less goofy than he had on their date. He watched as the boy pointed his gun and put a bullet into the vampire she had been kicking. Its head exploded into dust, as did the rest of its body.

Xander turned his head, hearing sirens getting louder. Nobody had ventured into the street once the gunfire had started up, but they had called the police. He glanced over at Elsa who was done cleaning up and was currently helping the other attempted kidnap victim up. Looking over at the potential that was now looking at him with conflicted emotions, he sighed. “Time to go.”

xxx

Xander didn’t need to look behind him to know that Faith was undoubtedly glaring at him. He could imagine that she was staring daggers at him and wanted answers.

“Shaolin stuff, huh?” Elsa said, glancing in the rearview mirror. The Watcher looked relieved at having been saved, but she could tell that there was something going on between Xander and the dark haired potential.

The young man shrugged, whispering, “lightning from God.”

“What?” Elsa said quizzically.

“Never mind.” Xander shook his head. He turned around, facing Faith’s icy expression. He was used to it from women by now, but it never got easier to face. “You okay Faith?”

“Do I look okay?” Faith said through clenched teeth.

Xander noticed that she looked better than she would have been once Kakistos had gotten hold of her. But, he kept from pointing that out. He could tell that she was snapping at him as a defense mechanism. He could see the fear that was still in her eyes, and this was just her way of dealing with it. Xander didn’t take it personally. “There’s a vampire after you.”

He looked over at the older woman, the Watcher looking quite shaken by events. She was no field Watcher, that was for sure. “Kakistos. I didn’t know about that then. But, I found out that he was hitting you guys tonight.”

“Kakistos?” the Watcher repeated, looking up at their savior. She thought about it, drawing herself up and taking comfort in one of her strengths, her Watcher honed recall of supernatural knowledge. “The master vampire? Greek I believe.”

“Yeah. I’ve been filled in on the details,” Xander said. He looked over at the driver and gave her the address to the hotel that he was staying at.

“Who are you?” Diana asked, still trying to wrap her head around the situation.

Xander turned back to the Watcher, speaking, “Name’s Xander. The valykrie driving is Elsa. I guess you can call us freelance demon hunters types.”

“You know who we were, before you even met me,” Faith said, struggling to keep her tone even.

Hearing the feeling of betrayal in her voice, Xander took care with his words. “Yeah. It’s not what you think though. I just wanted to make sure that the Council was treating you okay. I never intended to ever have to really talk to you. I’m sorry.”

“Where are we going?” Faith asked. She couldn’t really blame him, and it wasn’t like he had done anything technically wrong. He hadn’t taken advantage of the situation, much to her surprise. But, it still hurt.

“I have a hotel room,” Xander said, sighing. “We can talk more there.”

xxx

Xander sat in front of the coffee table in the center of the room. He cleaned the MP5 that he had used earlier in the night. After he had finished he dragged the black case that he had brought from his room earlier over to him and opened it up.

“You know the opportunity we have right?” Elsa said, watching as Xander took out the pieces of what she recognized as an M4 carbine. There were a number of accessories that he had acquired as well. She wondered where he got his hardware from.

“Yeah,” Xander said, starting to assemble the weapon. He attached the red dot sight to the top as well as a collapsible stock to the back. An underslung grenade launcher went underneath the barrel, attached to a rail. “You need any other weapons?”

“I have a combat shotgun in the trunk,” Elsa replied. She looked over to where the other women were discussing matters. She couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying, but from the expressions, things were definitely tense. “I get the feeling that this wasn’t what you planned on.”

“No,” Xander explained, looking in the direction of the Council affiliated among them. Jenny was there as well, looking none too pleased with the situation. “I was supposed to be keeping a low profile. Not going to war.”

“You did the right thing,” Elsa said, kneeling down for a moment and putting a hand on his shoulder. He had impressed her that night. While she had seen other demon hunters in action, very few of them were as effective as Xander had been. Part of that was due to his natural, or rather supernatural, abilities. But, the way that he combined it with modern weaponry enhanced his effectiveness. Something that was lost on most other hunters out there.

Xander just grunted in response, laying the completed weapon the couch behind him. He took out the twin handguns that he had in shoulder holsters, checking them before replacing the firearms back into the harness.

“Wow,” Elsa said, somewhat surprised by the sight of the two weapons. “That’s some antique gun you got there, considering what else you’re packing.”

The Iron Fist looked over at the woman. “They belonged to my mentor. I guess they’re pretty much mine now.”

“What happened to him?” the monster hunter inquired.

Xander stood up in front of her. “He died saving my life.”

“I’m sorry,” Elsa said, looking sympathetic. She could understand. Most demon hunters didn’t last very long in the business.

“Thanks,” Xander said, smiling slightly. He looked over at the still ongoing discussion. “I think we should get this cleared up and then head out.”

xxx

Amy sat on the floor, her legs crossed as she breathed in and out rhythmically. Her eyes were closed, though in her mind, she could still see the pencil that was in front of her. It was hovering an inch above the carpet, the witch exerting just enough mystical power to keep it there floating steady.

It was one of the techniques that Jenny taught her. The point was to learn control and efficiency. To put only what was required to accomplish the specific task at hand.

Breathing out, the blonde witch let the pencil drop onto the floor. She sighed, looking at it. Though Xander had called a number of times, she still missed him. Xander and Ms. Calendar. It had been only a matter of weeks, but it felt longer.

Her teacher had taught her quite a bit about magic, though she knew that Ms. Calendar had limited power herself. Still, her lessons had opened her eyes to a new way of looking magic, and to see it as a gift to be respected instead of the tool that she had used it as before.

The sunlight spell she had been developed had worked, though had taken a great deal out of her. She would have liked to discuss it with Ms. Calendar, but until she got back it was just Giles, who really didn’t do much except have her read stuff.

Still, she could at least work on trying to make it more energy efficient so she wouldn’t drain herself again.

Sighing at the thought, Amy looked at the pencil, wishing that her friends were back home.

xxx

“You’re going to go after a master vampire?” Diana asked, some skepticism on her face as she looked at Xander and Elsa. Youth was written all over their faces. It was less than impressive, despite the obvious work clothes that they were in. “How old are you?”

Xander just looked at her, unconsciously wanting to put his hands in his pockets and rock back and forth. “Seventeen. But, it’s okay, I have experience.”

“I know how impressive you were when you came for us,” Diana went on, very much the representative of the Watchers’ Council. She was in full lecture mode at this point. “A master vampire is extremely dangerous. This one more than most. They often develop powers as they age. Spike and Drusilla were under him at one time. Spike and Drusilla, once part of a gang of vampires that were the scourge of Europe. This is the danger that he represents. The number of minions you destroyed means nothing in comparison to the power that he may have.”

“Spike and Drusilla? Scourge of Europe” Xander said, a smirk growing on his face. “I knew that part. Who do you think dusted them?”

“Please,” Diana retorted, an imperious look on her face. The boy was not listening to her. “I read the reports, they were destroyed by the Slayers.”

“Really?” Xander said, coming up short. That wasn’t exactly what he expected. “That’s what Giles put in the field reports? That it was the Slayers? I’m not…I’m not actually sure how I feel about that.”

“How many vampires have you killed?” Faith asked, looking at Xander. In the light, he was much more impressive. The black clothes and equipment fit him. Dangerous, mysterious, and a lot better looking for some reason, all the things that made a girl wet.

“I lost count. Look, this isn’t my first time to the rodeo. I know what I’m doing,” Xander said, adjusting the bag on his shoulder. “Elsa and I are going to go do that thing that we do. So, we’ll see you when we get back.”

“Faith will go with you,” Diana said, crossing her arms across her chest. She felt less sure than she sounded however. She had to admit that Xander had been most effective, as much of him as she had seen. Her potential had filled her in on some things, but it was still hard to gauge without actually seeing it for herself. They could be confident, or overconfident.

“She ever…” Xander turned his head to look at the brunette potential. Interestingly enough, he thought she looked prettier without the layers of makeup. “You ever do this type of thing before?”

“I’ve dusted vamps, if that’s what you’re asking.” Faith crossed her arms over her chest, glaring a little at the man that had saved her life less than an hour ago.

“I’m not having this argument,” Xander said, sighing. He figured that she could stay behind and watch the car or something when the time came. “You can come. I got stakes and stuff you can use.”

At least they had found some clothes that would fit her.

He looked over at the others in the room, settling on Vi. Xander didn’t want to bring an untested fighter in with them, but it looked like he wouldn’t have much choice. Vi at least, had some experience, but he didn’t want her to come along either. “Vi I want you to stay. If Kakistos has some mystical way of finding out where you guys are, I want you all here.”

Vi nodded, though she knew that that wasn’t the sole reason for his request.

“Okay,” Xander said, heading over to the front door, making sure that his coat was buttoned. It would hide the gear strapped to him, though his larger weapons were in the bag that was at his side now. “Let’s go.”

“Wait,” Jenny said, moving away from the wall that she had been leaning against and pulling Xander over to the side before he could completely exit the common room.

The Iron Fist looked her in the eye, noting the hesitancy there. “Things didn’t really go as planned. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t,” the gypsy said, shaking her head. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have blamed you for everything.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Xander said softly, intently aware of the eyes that were upon them. Time was wasting as well. “Look, we can talk about this when I get back. I really should be going now.”

Jenny impulsively grabbed him by the coat, drawing him close.

“What are you-“ Xander stuttered out as he stumbled forward.

She kissed him hard, though quickly. It was impulsive and very much a bad idea. “Make sure you come back.”
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