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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
neoolongFR1814143,74794127,90512 Dec 089 Aug 09Yes

Chapter Four: Die Like a Boy

“So what was that about?” Elsa remarked, casting a quick look over at the currently pensive looking boy next to her. She hadn’t known either of the people in the car that long, but she could tell that what had happened just a short time ago hadn’t been expected. Besides, Jenny looked a few too many years older than Xander did. She wouldn’t judge without all the facts though, and he was handy enough in other matters to overlook those potential shortcomings.

Xander kept looking out the windshield of the car, watching as they rapidly ate up highway. He reached up and scratched at his forehead, the black balaclava he had on his head like a ski cap was itchy. “I guess she wanted to set something straight.”

“I’m impressed,” Faith said, leaning in from the back seat and looking over at the boy. A large smile was on her face, though he probably couldn’t see. “And here I thought you were a virgin.”

Glancing over at the potential, Xander smirked slightly. His romantic prowess wasn’t that of the most popular guys in school, though Jenny was certainly quite the babe. It was more than that, but he still allowed himself to feel a little smug about it. “Well, you can understand why it was all weird and stuff. Any other time, and well, you’d be impossible to resist.”

Faith leaned in closer, almost touching his ears with her lips. She liked a challenge, especially one that was more than only better by comparison to losers. “I still am.”

Xander refrained from shuddering at the oddly delightful warmth that wafted over to him, instead leaning slightly away and turning his head. “I’ve seen Elsa fight. And I’ve seen Vi. She can handle herself considering. How much experience do you have?”

“Controlled situations mostly. Diana wants to give me practice so I’ll have a leg up if I ever get called,” Faith said, leaning back in her seat and pouting slightly. Xander wasn’t willing to play anymore. “Vampires. I’ve taken on two at the same time before.”

In truth, she was glad that Diana had wanted to give her some experience, even if she taken a few hits along the way. It was another way to let off steam, and she supposed that her Watcher had done it to keep her from getting to rowdy.

“You ever fight a master before?” Elsa asked, glancing over at Xander. He had the moves down, that was for sure. So did she, but her experience paled next to her father’s. As well as the earlier battle had gone, she still had doubts about the coming one.

“No,” Xander replied, shaking his head. He was glad for the change of subject. “Not directly anyway. I’ve heard about them before though. There was a master vampire back where I’m from that one of the Slayers killed. It had gotten pretty bad before he went down. Hopefully it doesn’t go down that way. How about you?”

“Well, I’ve vanquished Dracula,” Elsa answered, shrugging. She had faced more than her fair share of things she supposed, but it was mostly because she had the resources to travel. And the family reputation that allowed her to hear about things that others didn’t. “But, he always comes back and it usually doesn’t count.”

“Dracula’s real?” Xander asked, a skeptical look on his face. He didn’t remember that from any of the texts that he had perused. He was pretty sure that The Tomb of Dracula didn’t count.

Elsa nodded. Dracula had gone all stealthy after Stoker had published his book. She wasn’t surprised that most dismissed him as a legend, even those in the know. “Oh yeah, he’s all Euro-trashy though. Didn’t live up to the legend.”

“What else have you fought?” Faith asked from the rear, intrigued despite herself. She’d been forced to read a lot of the books that Diana had on the Slayers and their past battles. While she had seen a few demons in her time as a potential, it was limited compared to the full gamut of supernatural creatures that existed. Even those that were in Boston.

Elsa looked in the rearview mirror at her. “Vampires are the most common. But, there were demons of different sorts, necromancers, Mindless Ones. Minions of Dormammu. Stuff like that. Xander?”

“Similar,” Xander said, looking at the sign that was overlooking the highway as Elsa guided them onto the off-ramp. “It can get kinda old I suppose.”

“But, there’s more,” Faith pressed on. She got the feeling that Xander was hiding something. She could tell. He wasn’t that good at hiding his emotions.

Xander turned to look at her. “Yes, there is.”

xxx

“I can’t say that I’m that surprised,” Nancy said, taking a seat on the couch. She looked over at where Jenny was standing, looking a little guilty at what had just transpired.

The computer teacher nodded before walking forward and sitting on one of the club chairs that bookended the coffee table. It had been an impulse, and she had always had a bit of a wild streak to her. Something she had had to tone down during her duty for her family, well not so much her family now. Didn’t mean it had been smart though. She smiled at the Watcher briefly. “I suppose not. But, if we’re going to try to be honest…”

“Do you make him happy?” Vi asked, watching from the desk set against one of the walls of the common room.

“Yes,” Jenny said with certainty, looking over at the girl that she knew had feelings for her boyfriend. It couldn’t have been easy for Vi, and in truth, she probably could have handled it a little more politely. The gypsy hadn’t been thinking of all the consequences of her action at the time though. Faith had riled her up in a way that she hadn’t anticipated.

“Good,” the potential replied. She may not have been happy about the situation, but there was little that she could do about it. She liked Xander, and just wanted him to be happy.

“I suppose there’s really nothing I can say,” Nancy said after a moment. The relationship wasn’t that much of a surprise, but for her to initiate contact like that was something else altogether.

Diana just looked at the two women from her place on the sofa, refraining from saying anything for the moment. She still wasn’t all that clear on the situation, but it did speak to the boy’s character that he had hadn’t done anything with Faith when he obviously could have. The facts, cold and hard, did not seem to be enough to judge the situation.

She knew that her charge was sexually active. And though she frowned upon such activity for one so young, it was an issue she had to treat delicately. She had, after all, only come into Faith’s life recently. “He’s seventeen. He’s your student. And, you entered into a sexual relationship with him soon after his mentor was killed.”

Jenny sighed, turning back in order to face the professor turned Watcher. Nancy, as well as Faith’s Watcher, were the closest things she had to peers in this situation. Hardly an ideal audience for this sort of thing. “Yes. I know it’s wrong. But, I’m not going to stop as long as Xander feels that this is what he wants. This is our lives, our choices, and the rules weren’t made with these cases in mind. And, believe me when I say that Xander isn’t the only one with power. I don’t mean to threaten you, and I know that I have more to lose than him, but believe me when I say that I will do what needs to be done to protect him.”

Diana didn’t know the woman that well, but she knew that Jenny was telling the truth. The gypsy’s eyes had turned cold and hard, and had somehow seemed to get literally darker.

Jenny just stared at the Watcher. The gypsy may not have the power that Amy did, but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t without ability.

xxx

Oliver rubbed his eyes, taking another sip of coffee. He shifted on the hard wooden stool he was seated on and continued to look at what the elderly woman at the bar was doing.

The Old Woman had been at it for hours. Mixing up ingredients and chanting over that small antique-looking bowl. It had something to do with tracking the perpetrators of the Nord massacre, at least that was the assumption. The Old Woman never appeared to be in complete control of her faculties. Some said it was because she was crazy, and some said that it was because she actually existed throughout time at every point, and thus had knowledge of the past, present, and future all at once. Nobody had a clear explanation, and she wasn’t much help in clearing it up.

Oliver took another sip of his coffee, looking over to where Jason was sitting. His temporary partner didn’t look very content with the situation either, though was compliant enough. He never remembered it taking this long when he was a kid though.

“Well, if we need to wait, you have the map?” Jason said, draining the rest of his beer and setting it on the floor. He leaned over the small circular table, brushing off the peanut shells that had lain there from the night’s business.

Oliver reached into a file folder that sat on a stool next to him and pulled out a map. Unfolding it, he spread it on the table, frowning as spots appeared from drink spills. Evidently, the cleaning staff had been lax in their duties. “Well, this is what I managed to remember from the files I accessed. All known club houses and other places of interest for the Nords in this state, and what I could remember in the surrounding ones.”

Jason looked at it intently, trying to find some type of pattern for potential attack. It wasn’t much help since the deaths that had happened had been in the city and at a meeting. Neither of which would track much with where the Hellions would be based out of in relation to where the Nords were located.

“You have any movements on other gangs?” American Eagle asked, hoping that the actions of the motorcycle clubs that were tracked would help highlight those of the one that couldn’t be.

“ATF reports mention a run from Northern California by the Mayans. There are already some reports of them showing up around here.” Oliver pointed to the origin of the journey. “Some of them came down from Oakland.”

He dragged his finger east. “And Reno.”

Jason frowned as he thought about the situation. A gang war was not something he wanted, especially with one of the players still an unknown. And with multiple parties vying for power in the potential upheaval, it was that much more troublesome. “You have a size?”

“At least fifty,” the police detective responded. He shrugged though, hedging his answer. “Maybe more. They’ve been keeping their heads down as much as possible. Only a couple of brawls reported, not strictly gang related. No deaths reported yet.”

“Anybody else?” Jason questioned. Small blessing that nobody had gotten killed yet because of that. “Other clubs?”

“Sons of Anarchy,” replied Oliver, as he dragged his finger back to California to settle on Charming. “Just some buzz, nobody’s started anything yet. But, it could happen. They’ve never been all that friendly with the Nords or the Mayans. And, the Sons patched over The Devil’s Tribe just a little while ago. They aren’t going to be hurting for numbers if they decide to get nasty.”

“You think they’re going to be a problem?” Jason didn’t have that much experience with the Sons. He had heard of them, but they weren’t on his radar. And the Tribe was mainly a California problem.

Oliver looked up at him and shrugged. “File says they run a lot of guns through California. Which means they’re packing a lot of hardware. Couple that with the soldiers they could field…”

“So, if they do decide to get into something…” Jason continued frowning. Things were not adding up to a tidy little package.

“They’d be able to pull out some major firepower,” Oliver finished unnecessarily, knowing the look. “They’ve been mostly quiet for the last decade or so, kept it low key so they don’t get hit by RICO. Still, nobody thinks they’ve gone legit.”

Jason chuckled sarcastically. “Do any of them?”

There was no time for an answer as the Old Woman pushed up the hinged section of the bar that served as a gate with a loud creak. She moved to the table that the two men were seated at slowly, her long stained dress making soft swishing sounds as she walked.

“Do you have something?” Jason said, looking into the heavily wrinkled face of the woman that owned the bar.

“You’ll find what you’re looking for here.” The woman placed a gnarled finger on her the map, pointing at a small area a few miles off the 10 highway. She leaned down, staring intently at the map, using her other hand to push a lock of peppered hair over her ear.

“That’s where the Hellions are?” the police detective asked, wanting to get a straight answer.

The Old Woman looked up and over at the police officer, her dark eyes piercing in their intensity. “You’ll find what you’re looking for here.”

Oliver was about to retort, but Jason grabbed his arm.

“Forget it,” Jason said, settling his friend down. He looked up at the elder. “Is there anything else that you can tell us?”

“I suggest you get there by noon. And, make sure there’s daylight,” the woman responded, turning around and walking to the bar. She didn’t bother to turn around as she continued to speak. “And, next time come earlier. I need my beauty sleep.”

Jason just watched as she used the sink behind the bar to wash the bowl she had been making magic in. It was something at least, even if there wasn’t anything but desert at the place that she had pointed too. Still, she had seemed pretty certain. And remarkably cogent.

Oliver finished marking the spot with a pen, gauging the time it would take from their current location. Checking his watch, he sighed. They’d have to get an early start. The point indicated had been near Joshua Tree National Park, in California. “C’mon we can get a few hours sleep at your place before we have to head out.”

xxx

Xander checked his watch, watching the seconds tick by before he would make his move. The plan had been discussed and agreed upon, though with some protest on the part of one of the participants in the night’s raid. He looked up at the night, waiting until the time was right. The black mask was itchy, but he ignored it.

There was little fear that he felt, although he knew that he would have to move fast. The Master in Sunnydale had had funky mental powers that could be a trait of many vampires that were old enough to be considered masters. The Iron Fist wasn’t sure about his potential defense against that, so his best bet was to be the one that fired first. His chi couldn’t do everything.

The only good thing was that there weren’t more than five or so minions left, the rest having been dusted by them just a short time prior. With nobody expecting them, it should go well. That was the plan anyway.

He crouched down, moving the M4 down under his shoulder with the butt planted against his hip. His right hand grasped the magazine, finger resting against the forward trigger guard. Xander checked his watch again, waiting for his moment.

There was little noise as he squeezed the trigger, and he could barely see the 40mm grenade being expelled from its launcher as it flew its way towards the warehouse wall. However, Xander did see the resultant explosion as it blew a hole through the side of the building. He hadn’t even needed to energize the round.

He was already on his feet as the flame started to die down, moving forward and firing at the vampires that he could see inside. For the most part, they were stunned by his surprise entrance, and three of them went down with even seeing him, explosions of flesh and blood appearing in the torsos of each of the demons.

Xander could hear the report of a semiautomatic shotgun over to his left. It was Elsa doing her part to drive the remaining vampires into his line of fire. He knew that she was firing some type of shell loaded with blessed silver buckshot. Xander didn’t know exactly how that worked, but from what Elsa had said, it was quite effective though expensive.

He, in turn, was putting less energy than he had before into his current rounds. The night had gotten long, and he was starting to get tired. The .45 caliber rounds he had used earlier hadn’t been that difficult to imbue with mystical energy, but the 5.56 he was using now was harder. He could feel each bullet now draining him slightly, though the superior penetrating power of the round helped to carry him.

Dusting a vampire that had decided to charge with a metal bar in his hand, Xander tried to advance, only to have to dive to his side, avoiding a burst of submachine gun fire that tore up the spot that he had been on a moment earlier.

He rolled to a stop, his back against a metal crate that only just rose above his head. Not content to test whether the old and rusted crate was bullet proof, he shuffled over to his right, trying to find more cover.

Xander heard the sound of the Uzi shift to another direction as it was answered by more rounds of Elsa’s shotgun. He looked around, not being able to see much in his current position, wondering where the main target of their operation was. They had verified that Kakistos was in the building before moving into position, but had yet to see him once they had breached.

He shifted in position, moving around a pillar that he had ducked behind, only to have a large wooden crate impact his shoulder, throwing him to the ground, his shortened rifle skidding out of reach. Rolling, Xander got to his feet and pulled his twin handguns firing at the ugly cloven limbed vampire that had tossed the crate at him.

The wild shots missed as Xander sought more cover, hearing as more crates were thrown at him. He hadn’t imagined that the ancient vampire would have been able to Donkey Kong him so accurately without hands. Still, the demon was a giant, and ugly, though that probably didn’t add to his strength. Probably only his disposition.

Weaving his way through the warehouse, Xander jumped to his side, kicking off a steel girder to land on top of a pile of wooden boxes. Diving off as soon as he landed on the flat planked surface, the Iron Fist was able to get a bead on his target, firing a couple of shots in Kakistos’ general direction.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Elsa fighting with a black vampire in an oddly inappropriate velvet looking suit. They had ditched the guns, the blonde monster hunter using her odd spear with the demon using an old iron pipe.

Xander didn’t have time to watch, as he flipped into the air again, spinning laterally to avoid a couple of thrown pieces of scrap metal. He landed in a crouch, firing center mass at the vampire that had been making like Nolan Ryan. His rounds were finally hitting, but it wasn’t so easy this time. The explosive power of his rounds were having limited effect, though they were blasting chunks out of the vampire as it stumbled backwards from the multiple impacts.

The Iron Fist felt himself weakening each time he pulled the trigger, knowing that he was putting less energy into each round now. Slowing down, he took the time to gauge the shots. It was no longer a matter of just putting lead to flesh and bone, but of striking the right point. Just as Orson had taught him, one single strike at the right time was worth more than a thousand punches at the wrong time.

“Smile you son of a bitch,” Xander muttered through clenched teeth as he watched the ugly master vampire regain its footing. Catching sight of sharp fangs and glowing eyes, he fired both of his guns at the same time, the two rounds catching the demon in the head right in the center of the forehead within milliseconds of each other.

Kakistos’ head exploded, turning to dust just as the rest of his body did.

Xander looked to his left, swinging his guns unnecessarily as he saw Elsa thrust with her spear, the sharp metal tip bursting through her opponent’s upper chest, causing it to disintegrate into nothingness. He nodded to her, getting the same in return.

Continuing to look around, he made sure that the warehouse was cleansed of demons before finally holstering his guns.

“We good?” Xander said, smoothing his coat out as Elsa walked over to him minutes later, handing him his carbine. He took it gladly, checking it for damage.

“Building’s clear,” Elsa said, panting slightly. She hadn’t taken out as many vampires as Xander may have, but the last one had been quite a handful, exceptionally quick and innovative for a vampire. Probably quite young in the grand scheme of things, though he wouldn’t be getting any older now.

“That does it then,” Xander said, looking at the destroyed remains of the warehouse. Bullet holes and shell casings littered the area. He had made sure that his bullets had been clear of fingerprints while loading, thus making sure that he wouldn’t have to clean up his brass. That was one task too great for even him. The cops were likely on their way already.

“Color me impressed,” a familiar voice came from behind.

Xander turned, frowning at the dark haired potential that was leaning against the edge of the blown in hole that he had created. “You were supposed to be watching the car.”

“And miss the show?” Faith retorted mockingly. She placed the stake she had been holding into the sleeve of her leather jacket, making sure that the boy could see the object disappear. She smiled at him, a little bit of sin mixed in there. “I would have hated to miss seeing you in action.”

Xander had to smile slightly. In the past, he would have been tongue-tied with the not so double-entendres and just the sheer presence of the young woman. Now though, his girlfriend could make with the seduction with the best of them. He wasn’t immune, but he could still talk as intelligently as he always could. “You were supposed to stay in the car. That was the plan.”

“C’mon, everything worked out,” Faith replied, still smiling. She walked in, inspecting the warehouse. From the fast and furious battle that had happened, a part of her knew that if they hadn’t been around, there was no way that she could have stood up to Kakistos and all of his minions.

“And if things went badly and we needed to make a fast exit?” Elsa asked, picking up her shotgun and reloading it as she stalked forward in anger. “You wouldn’t have been there, and we would have had to stick around to find you. Or leave you behind.”

Faith kept her face expressionless as the blonde’s angry glare hit her full force. She didn’t want to admit it, but the other woman was right. It had been irresponsible, something that her Watcher had constantly lectured her about.

“Look, cops are probably going to be out here sooner or later,” Xander broke in, literally having to step between the two women that were actually coming closer to each other. He didn’t imagine that they would have the time to have it out there, especially since the police would already be on alert due to the shootout at Faith’s apartment. “We can talk about this later. Let’s go home.”

He was too tired to play referee.

xxx

Garson stumbled out of bed, falling onto the hardwood floor with a yelp. He got up as quickly as he can, making his way to his desk. Flicking on the light, he grappled for a silver pen from the pencil holder on the corner while searching about for a map. He had to knock a couple of books and notebooks from the desk’s top, but he managed to unfold the map and lay it flat on the surface.

Looking at the map of the continental United States, the psychic concentrated, feeling his power flow through him as he mentally searched for the energy surge that he had been hit with. It was faint, only the semi-continuous nature of it made it traceable now.

Chanting in Latin, Garson twisted the pen to expose the tip and tossed it into the air. It made its short journey to the apex of its flight, coming to a stop and falling. Inexplicably, it started to slow until it was floating a few inches above the desk. Concentrating, he focused his search, the pen rotating and pointing towards the origin of the energy surge. It snapped to a stop, angled to point to the Northeast quadrant of the map.

Garson added a little more energy to his spell, the pen responding and rocketing towards the wooden surface of the desk. It imbedded itself into the map with a dull thud, quivering slightly. The psychic examined the area it had stuck itself into, frowning. Boston was quite far away. Teleporation was difficult enough as it was.

Sighing, the man reached over and picked up the telephone, dialing the phone number to Lilah Morgan’s personal cell phone. He didn’t need to look at the digital clock that was on the night stand to know that it was still fairly early in the morning. Still, the lawyer that had hired him could be up, they were accustomed to early hours.

“Yeah, it’s me. Garson,” the psychic said as soon as the call was picked up. The woman was not one for pleasantries. “I have a lead on the guy you wanted found. He’s in Boson.”

The man paused, listening to the response. “Uh…that’s not going to work. With the distance, I can only just make it to Boston with just four other people. You’re going to have send them here.”

There was another pause as Lilah spoke. Garson swallowed hard as he listened. “Okay, I’ll see you then, I guess.”

The man hung up, staring down at the pen still stuck in his desk. The scale of the map meant that it was not exactly obvious where in Boston the target was. He couldn’t believe that he had been forced to move to Sunnydale for this. At least the law firm paid decently for the time and risk.

Stretching, Garson turned around, striding over to the bookcase that was against the far wall. He scanned it, looking for the book that he needed. While Lilah and her team would be driving from Los Angeles, and it was technically a two hour drive, Garson knew that he didn’t have that much time to prepare. Not if he wanted to have everyone arrive in one piece.

xxx

Xander gulped down the soda, pushing himself to the limits of propriety. He finished it in seconds, popping the tap of another and downing half of it. He slowed after that, taking the time to sip the heavily sugared drink. It had been a tip of Orson’s to help speed recovery. Pure sugar, well high fructose corn syrup, that could be converted to energy easily by his body.

“You can’t stay here anymore,” Xander said, putting the can of soda onto the coffee table. There was still sweat on his forehead, despite the fact that he had doffed his coat and shirt. The guns needed cleaning as well, but that could wait. He looked over at Diana who had changed into some of Nancy’s clothes it looked like. “If Kakistos found you, your address and photos could start spreading around. You’re going to have to move.”

“I know,” Diana said, the weight of what had happened had started to sink in. While they were safe from Kakistos’ wrath, they could no longer return home. It was a difficult thing to have to subject Faith to. Still, at least they were safe. “We can return and pack what we need. Thank you.”

The Iron Fist shrugged. “No problem. You have anywhere to go?”

“The Council can set us up somewhere else,” the Boston based Watcher stated. It did lead into her next question though. “I have kept current with the journals that Mr. Giles writes in regards to his current charges. The power that Faith has described you possessing is not mentioned.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not exactly any business of the Council.” Xander smiled, though he didn’t feel especially pleased. “I prefer to act in privacy, and your organization has not exactly impressed me.”

“We are-“ Diana tried to get out.

“It’s not important right now,” Xander said, raising a hand. He wiped his forehead, feeling the grit on it. He needed a shower. “I need a shower. You can probably wait a while for things to die down and then check out your place. We can use the Land Rover to move what you want.”

“I can drive them,” Nancy inserted, looking over at her fellow Watcher. At times the Watchers that raised the potentials became their field Watchers, but they were often reassigned as the potentials were called. It had to be difficult for Diana to have been targeted in such a fashion considering that she had previously been pretty much focused on research. Little danger.

Xander nodded in agreement, standing up. He looked over at Elsa who was sitting in one of the chairs near the coffee table, looking terribly amused by events. “Thanks for your help. If you need anything, you have a way to contact us right?”

Elsa nodded. She was feeling tired too, though was somewhat intrigued by the situation that was unfolding itself. In her professional career, she hadn’t met anybody from the Watchers’ Council personally, but she had heard of them. “You’re welcome. About the crystal though-“

“Just call me or Jenny if you have any information,” Xander said quickly, keeping himself from looking over at Faith or her Watcher. He may have been willing to risk his life to save them, but he didn’t know them well enough to trust them with the same things that he had told Vi and Nancy. “Thanks for that. I can walk you down.”

“No, it’s okay,” Elsa said, eyes narrowing a little. She could easily tell that the group was not fully integrated. Then again, most demon hunters didn’t play well with others. “I can see myself out. It was good meeting you all.”

She left after that, the group still talking as the monster hunter walked out of the suite, bag under her arm.

xxx

“How much do you think you can trust them,” Jenny said, taking a seat on the bed. She watched as Xander dried his hair with a towel, tossing it back into the bathroom as he walked into the bedroom that they were sharing.

“Don’t know that much about them. And, I’m playing it cautious. Still…” Xander shrugged, making the dragon on his bare chest spread its wings. He was only wearing boxers, clean ones at least. “She cares about Faith, maybe more so than is Council-mandated. And, in this case, I think maybe a little control and discipline would be a good thing. Faith’s no zombie. That’s good enough for me. Unless you have something else.”

“No,” Jenny said, shaking her head. That was pretty much all that she could ask of him. Realistically, they couldn’t check on all of the potentials. With Giles, Nancy, and now Diana knowing that there was someone watching the Watchers, there was less of a chance of their, or rather her, worries coming to pass. Orson’s word echoed in her mind. “I’ve already asked you for enough.”

“Hey, you haven’t asked me for anything I wasn’t willing to do,” Xander said, walking over and sitting down next to her. “It all worked out, and if we hadn’t been here, who knows what would have happened because of Kakistos. Diana and Faith would be dead by now if we hadn’t been here. Or worse.”

“Faith,” Jenny repeated, a frown momentarily marring her pretty face.

“You don’t like her?” Xander asked, turning to look at his girlfriend.

Jenny didn’t say anything for a moment. It was rather petty to be antagonistic towards a seventeen year old girl. “She’s alright I suppose. But, she’s rather public with her intentions towards you.”

Xander felt a smirk coming on, but he refrained from showing it. “That’s not going to happen. It’s just way too Fast Times for me. Trust me, it’s not going to happen.”

“I trust you,” Jenny replied, looking him in the eye. “Her on the other hand, she doesn’t seem the type to let go so easily.”

“She’ll get bored,” Xander said, shrugging and getting up. He walked over to one of his open garment bags, looking for a clean shirt. “I’m sure she’ll find some other guy to chase wherever they end up moving to.”

“Good,” Jenny said, standing up and coming behind Xander.

“What are you-“ Xander turned around looking at his girlfriend move toward him, her hands going around his waist. “Oh.”

Xander moved forward, guiding his girlfriend toward the large bed that rested against the far wall. He sat her down on it gently, having to bend down as she dragged his head towards her as she lay back.

Jenny kissed him hungrily, feeling his comforting weight as he straddled her. The Watchers and potentials could amuse themselves for a while.

The gypsy moaned as she felt her boyfriend’s hands running down her body. He was about to go further when the door opened.

“We need to…whoa!” Faith said, eyes wide as she saw what was happening on the bed in front of her. She couldn’t help but smile, looked like she wasn’t the only one that got horny after a fight.

Xander paused, sighing audibly as he stared down at the annoyed expression on his girlfriend’s face. He shook his head once as he shifted over, getting off of the woman that he had been on and standing up. Frowning, he looked at the potential, suddenly wishing that he had a shirt on. “Probably should have locked that shouldn’t I?”

Faith ignored the question, instead looking at his naked chest, her short workout with him at the dojo the day before hadn’t done his build justice. She smiled slowly. “Wicked tattoo.”

“Right.” Xander brushed the look off, heading back towards his bag and pulling the shirt that was on the top. Making sure it passed the sniff test, he pulled it on, covering his ink. He put on a pair of pants as well. Xander turned back around, noticing the expression that was still on Jenny’s face. Looking back at Faith, he moved forward towards the door, blocking the teenager from Janna’s view. “What did you need?”

“Diana wants to talk to you,” Faith said, her sultry smile still wide on her face.

Xander nodded. “I suppose she means now.”

“Pretty much,” the potential shrugged, looking around the room. It wasn’t exactly lived in, but she supposed that Xander and company hadn’t been in town that long. Certainly a step up from her usual haunts though. Even Diana’s place.

“Okay,” Xander said, heading out the front door, sparing an apologetic glance behind him at his girlfriend.

xxx

“Where are you going?” Diana said, once the boy had taken a seat. She looked at his shirt with distaste; a garish logo with what looked like dogs, or rather dingoes if the script was right, being served by a woman.

“You mean after?” Xander looked across the coffee table lengthwise at the woman that was seated on the other club chair. “You mean after.”

“That’s correct.” The Watcher nodded once efficiently.

Xander said nothing for a moment, looking at her. Jenny had filled him in on the confrontation that had occurred after he had left with Faith and Elsa. Mostly posturing, but posturing was useless without something to back it up. He could hear and perceive that Jenny and Faith had come back into the room, though he didn’t turn to acknowledge their presence. “I have business in New York.”

“We’d like to go with you,” Diana said, placing her hands in her lap. She looked intensely at the boy, having to remind herself that his apparent age was no indication of his skills or importance.

“To…to report back to the Council,” Xander said, knowing that the woman was nothing if not apparent in her loyalties. “I could check if you called the Watchers, but let’s just assume that you did. So, why exactly would I want to let you come with us.”

“You’re bringing Nancy and Vi aren’t you?” the Watcher said, ignoring Xander’s well-educated guess. “You’re already on the Council’s notice, despite Mr. Giles’ apparently incomplete report. There is no reason to try to dissuade me.”

“I’m not feeling the gratitude here,” Jenny said, from over Xander’s shoulder. She crossed her arms over her chest, eyes narrowing. Her opinion of the other woman was falling sharply at this point. “He saved your life. Yours and Faith’s.”

“Yes,” Diana stated, looking up at the woman who was in a rather inappropriate relationship with the boy seated in front of her, despite her attempts at justification. “And, for that, I am thankful. However, I am a member of the Watchers’ Council and I have certain responsibilities.”

“Right.” Xander grimaced off to the side. He could understand where the woman was coming from, and despite himself, he couldn’t help but respect that at least she was being honest about it. “I suppose I can’t really stop you, other than ditching you and that’s a whole other problem.”

“Good,” Diana said, sparing a slight smile at the young man. It was true, she was thankful for all that he had done. But, supernatural occurrences fell under their purview, even if she wasn’t a field Watcher. The woman felt that it was her responsibility to investigate and figure out exactly what this boy actually was and the full extent of his powers. He could prove useful in the Council’s struggle.

Xander leaned in, eyes cold as he looked the Watcher in the eye. “But, it’s a two way street. I start finding stuff I’m not happy with, and you’ll have all sorts of problems. I can go from zero to bodies on the floor real quick. We clear?”

The Watcher nodded, keeping herself from reacting to the intensity of his gaze.

“Just so we understand each other,” Xander said, standing up. It wasn’t quite an idle threat. It wasn’t even that human life had taken on less meaning for him. Only that he was willing to take that extra step to protect those he carried about a lot easier now. Ford had been the hardest, but it been just as necessary as any of the rest of the lives that he had taken. “It’s really late, and I need to get some sleep. There are probably cops and firemen at your place, but you guys should be able to get your stuff soon enough. Call your neighbors if you want.”

xxx

“I don’t like this,” Oliver whispered, ducking back down behind the large yellowish rock. He looked over to his left, watching as American Eagle calmly checked his shotgun. He looked down at his own, suddenly feeling underarmed despite the weapons and body armor he had on.

The Old Woman’s location had been spot on. There was a cave, or rather a shallow depression, set against the end of a small canyon, a few miles off the highway. The glimpses he had seen revealed demons and humans and likely human-looking demons, bikes and the remains of camp fires. The cuts that the bikers wore had marked them as Hellions.

The Old Woman had been spot on. The Hellions weren’t just a biker gang, and their name turned out to be rather literal. He was glad that he was packing the right kind of heat. Still, the numbers were larger than had been expected. “We might want to come back later.”

“Why?” Jason said, looking over at his friend, voice echoing slightly as it came from behind his helmet. He shifted the shotgun to his other hand, undoing the snap over his crossbow. It was loaded as well, but not with blunted tips or grapples this time. He was packing special silver coated bolts, razor sharp. “You see the campfires? This isn’t a club house. It’s a jamboree. They aren’t going to be here forever; we need to take them. And take them now.”

“That’s not all of them,” the police detective remarked. He leaned his head back, resting it against the rapidly warming rock. Summer was never a good time to be in the desert. “We managed to get some descriptions of the bikes that were used in the drive-by. Pretty distinctive artwork. Custom jobs. They ain’t there. This is them, but not all of them.”

“Right,” Jason said, thinking things over. Of course, there was really only one conclusion. “We’re going to have to take them anyway. Hopefully leave some alive, so we can get intel on where the others are holed up.”

Oliver nodded, frowning. It was flippant talk of just gunning down the bikers, though he knew it was necessary. Still, that wasn’t the job of a cop. They weren’t supposed to be executioners.

American Eagle could read the look easily. He didn’t like killing, and tried to avoid it, but this was a different situation. Humans were governed by Man’s law, but sometimes, in extraordinary situations, it was insufficient to mete out justice. A harder and much more primitive justice was necessary. Undesirable perhaps, but necessary nonetheless. “I know. But, you want to start stopping this. We’re going to have to get our hands dirty.”

Bringing the shotgun around, Jason looked for a way to get close to the gang without giving away their position. Glancing over at his friend he spoke softly, “C’mon Begay, get your backside moving, I’d like to get home before dinner.”

xxx

Xander pulled a ten out of pocket, handing it to the barista as she rang up his order. It wasn’t early anymore, but there weren’t that many people in the small coffee shop that rented space in the lobby of the hotel. Taking his change, Xander looked at it, dumping it into the empty tip jar on the counter.

Stepping to the side, he looked out the window at the people that were walking back and forth. It was supposed to be an exceptionally hot day, and the passerbys were already trying to stay in the shade. He had to admit, Boston was a decent place, and would be cool to hang out at, if he had had more time. Maybe he should come back someday and play tourist with Janna, when he did have more time. If he had more time.

Shaking off the grim thought, he turned to pick up the iced mocha that the young woman behind the counter had just finished making. Taking a sip, he moved closer to the window, just taking the sight of the street in.

The rest of the women were still asleep, all of them having been up way past their bed times. Sleeping arrangements had had to be changed, with an extra bed being brought in. At least Faith and Diana had been able to check out their apartment. The fire department had cleared it, chalking it up to an oddly misthrown gas grenade that was related to the gang-attributed violence that had occurred outside their building.

They had taken all that they had wanted to take. It was just a place after all.

He on the other hand, had managed to only need five or so hours of rest, sleeping much deeper than the others to recover and restore his energy levels. One of the side perks of being the Iron Fist. Watching a striking brunette walk past, Xander frowned, finding her extremely familiar. It wasn’t until she had turned so that he could see more than her profile that he could place her.

Lilah Morgan was walking inside the hotel that he was staying at, an odd group of people following with her, carrying bags.

Xander turned, stepping to the side a little to keep from sight, though his attention was still on the woman. It was an odd coincidence, and he had no idea how it was possible for her to be there. Thoughts and questions ran through his head, as he watched her step up to the front desk.

Walking forward, the Iron Fist stepped into the lobby, heading toward the elevators, but making sure that he could see what Lilah was doing. Which seemed to be checking in. Her and the others in the group. The three extremely large men built like tanks were obviously muscle. The squirrelly looking fellow that followed at the tail might be some type of magical support. Or a demon in hiding.

Pressing the button on the wall, he waited for the elevator to descend to the first floor. Xander still kept a surreptitious watch over the Wolfram and Hart group. He couldn’t believe the luck. Of all the places that they could be, Lilah had to show up there. He probably should have picked a cheaper place to rent from.

xxx

Buffy took a sip of coffee, looking at the boy in front of her. It was a bit awkward, at least from her perspective, but she doubted that Scott noticed. It was her first date after Angel, and she had to admit that she was still affected by that breakup. She had to get back into the game sometime though.

“So, this is nice right?” Scott said, noticing as Buffy turned and looked out the window distractedly. She had done it a few times, and he hoped it wasn’t something that he had done. He had wanted to ask her out during the school year, but she had apparently been dating some older guy. The school grapevine had put the word out that it had ended, and he had gave it a shot. Which worked out. Kind of.

“Oh yeah,” Buffy said, turning to concentrate on Scott. Only a small part of her was thinking about Angel at the moment. He was in Los Angeles, and from what she had heard, was still fighting the good fight. She tried to decline thinking about what Xander was doing. She got the feeling that his postcards didn’t tell everything that was going on. “So any plans over the summer?”

Scott shrugged, taking a drink from his cappuccino. “I just have work at the book store. My dad’s really big into that sort of thing. Says it builds character. You?”

Buffy smiled briefly. “Just trying to enjoy it. I mean, we’re going to be going into our senior year. That’s big, and we should enjoy the time.”

“I get the feeling that you’re kinda distracted here,” Scott said, noticing that Buffy seemed to be faking her enthusiasm. He frowned slightly. The date wasn’t going all that well it would seem. “Something wrong?”

The Slayer shook her head, before changing her mind and nodding. “Sorry, it’s just…one of my friend’s got this huge deal going on, and I’m just kinda worried.”

“Xander right?” Scott replied with a knowing look.

Buffy just stared at him.

“You talked about your friends, and he seemed to be one of the major ones,” Scott continued at the surprised look. “You know, I thought you guys were actually going out for a while. Didn’t think I had a shot with you.”

“What? Xander?” Buffy said, staring at him again. She shook her head rapidly. The thought was just too weird. “No. I mean, Xander and me? We’re like…no.”

“I know,” Scott assured her, smiling at her quick denials. It was sort of amusing. “It’s just, he’s changed, did you notice? I mean, you had to have noticed, but it’s like he changed like halfway through our junior year. Like he grew up or something. And, evidently, worked out quite a bit.”

“Yeah,” Buffy said, knowing exactly what he meant. Although, she couldn’t exactly tell him what had caused the change. She had gone out with Scott on a couple of dates, but it wasn’t like she could bring him in all the way. He was cute and all, but she didn’t know him that well yet. “I guess, I’m just worried. A…uh…a relative of his died recently, and he’s been trying to get over that.”

“Really?” Scott said, eyes widening. Xander’s status had gone up a bit with his change, but it wasn’t like his life was subject for the school’s gossip network as the more popular students’ were. “Is he okay?”

Buffy thought it was sweet that Scott cared like that. She put a hand over his, grasping it for a moment. “He’s getting through it.”

xxx

Oliver coughed, trying to hack out some of the smoke that he had gotten into his lungs. Wiping off the sweat and grime that caked his face, he turned around, looking at the canyon that he was standing in. The rock floor was strewn with evidence of the fight. Dead bodies and burning motorcycles lay at various points, shell casings of different sorts conveying just how much lead and other metals had been flying around.

The desert was never fun in summer.

Things had gone well enough, though some of the bikers had gone hard. The Old Woman had been right, some of the bikers had been skinwalkers. As well as human, and some demonic species that he hadn’t been able to identify.

“You find anything?” Jason said, dragging another corpse to the pile that he had started to make. He dropped the demon’s feet and turned around, walking over to his friend.

“No,” the detective said, sniffing the air. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of burnt and burning flesh. The Hellions lived up to their name; they hadn’t gone down easy. “At least we got prisoners right?”

Jason turned around, looking at a pair of beings in biker leathers and shackles. They had bags over their heads as well, preventing them from looking out. He just hoped the metal bindings would hold them; at least one of them wasn’t all human.

“Yeah,” American Eagle said, taking a book of matches from a pocket. He struck one and tossed it onto the rather large pile of bodies. They ignited almost immediately, greatly influenced by the accelerant that he had poured all over them. He looked back at his metaphorical, and literal, partner in crime. “Get the rest of the bodies, and I’ll start on these two.”

“What are you going to do?” Oliver said, wondering how far Jason was planning on going on this little vigilante jaunt of him. In addition to the rather justifiable homicide, all sorts of laws were being broken. The destruction of evidence did little to assuage his conflicted feelings.

“What I have to,” Jason said, not turning around. He strode over to the bodies that were trying to escape. The bikers were clad in the traditional garb, though one had had to customize his helmet to account for his horns.

He heard Oliver start to drag more bodies, but ignored it. Instead, he pulled the hood off of one of the bikers, looking down at a bloody face that was blinking in the bright sunlight. Sharp teeth glinted sunlight into his face, the demonic heritage clearly evident. That people denied the existence of the supernatural when such beings walked, or rather rode, around in public annoyed him greatly. The ability for people to delude themselves so much was disappointing, to say the least.

“I’m not telling you shit,” the demon spat out, glaring up at the helmeted man that had just ambushed his club. Beyond angry, he struggled again to break the bonds.

“Loyalty to your club?” American Eagle said flatly, his voice echoing slightly underneath his motorcycle helmet, making him that much more intimidating. He leaned down and punched the demon hard in the face, his weighted glove extracting more blood from the demon’s face. “You boys decided to wage war on the Nords. I don’t really give a shit about that. But, it’s spilling out on the streets. And that’s a problem. Where are the rest of your guys?”

The demon just grinned, wanting nothing more than to rip out the throat of the masked human. “Like I’m going to tell you.”

“Then I don’t really need you now, do I?” Jason said as he stood back up, his eyes cold underneath his steel helmet. He pulled his crossbow from his side, feeling as the arms sprung out and locked into place. He lined it up and pulled the trigger, a bolt going clean into the demon’s forehead. It died without making a sound, its face had an expression of complete surprise however.

Leaning down again, Jason pushed the other prisoner over closer to the demon. He pulled the bag off, watching as the biker tried to twist away from the bleeding corpse. American Eagle pushed him closer though, making sure that he couldn’t get away from the blood trail that was flowing out onto the hard ground. “In case you didn’t hear, I want to know where the rest of your club is.”

“I can’t tell you!” the biker nearly screamed, trying to break free. He wasn’t successful though.

Jason just looked down at the biker, human this time. “Yes you can. And I can promise you that you’ll get worse from me than you will from the rest of your club. So, you’re going to tell me exactly where the rest of the Hellions are. And you’re going to tell me exactly what it’s going to take to stop this war with the Nords.”

American Eagle grasped the young biker’s hair firmly, hearing him gasp at the pain. Dragging the boy’s face over, he forced the kid to look at his recently deceased fellow Hellion, the demon’s blood moistening the biker’s face. “Tell me what I want to know.”

The biker, a prospect only at this point in his soon to be ended career, just nodded, trying to avoid getting blood in his mouth.

xxx

“Why am I doing this again?” Jenny said, tapping quickly on her laptop’s keyboard. It had been child’s play to hack into the hotel’s computer system. The wireless network wasn’t properly secured, something that a number of places had difficulty with. And it was connected to the hotel’s server; another security flaw.

“Wolfram and Hart’s in the hotel,” Xander said, from across the room. He pulled a bag up and placed it on the bed. Digging through it, he pulled out some equipment. If the law firm had gotten this close, there was no telling what would happen once he gone interdimensional. He couldn’t just leave with that risk still there. “I need to find out what room they’re in.”

“Okay, and do you have a name?” the computer teacher turned hacker asked, pulling up the hotel’s directory.

“You can try Lilah Morgan, but that might not be the name used,” Xander said, assembling a matte black handgun and screwing a silencer on the barrel of it. “Try the latest check-ins. It should be them.”

Jenny did as requested, pulling up a list of the day’s check-ins and sorting it chronologically. “Okay, looks like there are two rooms booked under a corporate account. Wolfram and Hart. Rooms…2015 and 2016.”

“Which one is the single?” Xander asked, turning as the door to their room opened. It was Faith and Vi, stepping in to see what was going on. They had probably gotten curious when he had hurried and had dragged Jenny inside. They hadn’t knocked he noted, though he decided not to make a remark at the moment. He probably should have gone with his earlier thought and locked the door.

Placing the handgun at the small of his back, secured by his waistband, Xander stuffed his balaclava into his pants’ pocket. He walked over to Jenny, looking at the screen over her shoulder. She had pulled up a floorplan, displaying the layouts of the identified rooms.

Standard hotel rooms, though a bit larger than standard probably. Equivalent of theirs maybe, but on a higher floor. The woman didn’t seem the time to not want to indulge, even when on the job.

“What are you doing?” Faith asked, watching as Xander was all intense again.

“Gotta take care of a problem,” Xander said, adjusting his clothes, and walking towards the room’s door. He looked normal enough, just another tourist on summer vacation. He turned to Vi. “Get everything packed and be ready to leave when I call you. Check out and drive away. That café we ate at. I’ll meet up when I can.”

“Jenny, I’ll need you to make sure that the security cameras for the next hour are erased after I get out,” Xander said, turning back to face the computer teacher.

“Xander,” Jenny said, turning around. She didn’t look happy. “What are you going to do?”

“Just ask some questions,” Xander said lightly. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything I shouldn’t. Unless I have to.”

Jenny frowned, though she knew in her heart that it was probably necessary. If Wolfram and Hart was on their trail, then Xander was likely in danger. And through affiliation, so were they all. It was a risk she willingly took on, but that didn’t mean that precautions shouldn’t be taken. “Xander-“

“I know,” Xander said, smiling back reassuredly. “I’ll be careful. After I call, if I’m not there or don’t contact you in an hour, then go.”

Jenny watched him leave, knowing that there wasn’t anything that she could say to change anything. She didn’t like it though. Not just that they were in danger, or that Xander would likely have to kill to solve it. But, he was increasingly willing to go to that step. She knew that it was necessary at times, but she didn’t like the change that she was seeing in her boyfriend.

Something she’d have to talk to him about.

xxx

“So, what do we do now?” Jason said, glancing over to Oliver as they drove down the highway. There were a few cars on the road, but it wasn’t exactly the most popular place to be driving around. Desert all around, and few tourist traps until they got closer to Phoenix.

“I get the feeling that you already know what you’re planning on doing,” Oliver said, looking at the landscape as they drove quickly back home. “And, that you wouldn’t exactly change if I advised you to let us handle this.”

“Us, as in the cops?” Jason asked rhetorically. “We already went over that. You can go after the Nords if you want, but this won’t end until the Hellions are made to back down. And, that’s something that you can’t do.”

“And that’s going to happen when?” Oliver asked, frowning. He didn’t exactly like the information that Jason had managed to extract from their now nonexistent prisoners, or rather prisoner. At first the violence had just been because the Nords had backed out of a deal. Now, it had taken on a life of its own. It was pure chaos and there were a distressingly large number of Hellion chapters that were getting involved in it. The original reason didn’t matter anymore, they were just caught up in the thrill of it all.

“When they don’t have the manpower for it anymore,” American Eagle said, though even he wasn’t exactly thrilled with that solution. There was no way of telling how many more bikers there were that would eventually get involved. And he was only one man. A partner wouldn’t exactly help that much in the long run.

“That’s suicide.” Oliver sighed, knowing what the real solution actually was. There was only really one after all. “You know what you have to do.”

“Shit,” Jason grunted, lips tight. He shook his head, thinking about where it had all started. Taking down one drug operation. It had seemed so simple at the time. It just spiraled all out of control. His solution was suicide. And the only reason he had even seriously considered it was because of his own guilt. Good intentions and all that. They could be damning. “I guess…I guess we go home.”

That was it then. The end of the road. He couldn’t stop them all, and there was little reason trying. There was no way to take down ever chapter, and there were so many nomads that it would be pointless to even try. It would kill him, despite the superpowers. They didn’t solve everything, couldn’t solve everything, and despite his culpability in matters, all he could do was go home.

“It’s not going to stop with just these two,” the cop said, looking over at his friend. He could see the conflicted emotions all over the man’s face. He felt the same. They’d done what they could, and had maybe cut down on some of the body count that would result in the war that was already started. A new equilibrium would have to be reached, bodies piling up until it happened.

“I know,” Jason said, staring down the now empty road.

“Mayans,” Oliver continued, looking down. “They’re already here. The Sons might get involved, or just use the Nords getting hit to push back on them. Shit’s going to go down hard.”

Jason simply nodded. All he could do was go back to Phoenix, and try to keep things from spilling out onto the streets in his little corner of the world. The rest of the country could and would have to take care of itself. “I know.”

xxx

Xander breathed out tensely, wondering why he had brought the mask with him. It was rather useless, since the woman he was expecting would hardly open the door to a masked man in the peephole. He hesitated before knocking on the door. He had gloves on at least.

He placed his left hand on the side of the door, near where the chain would be. The Iron Fist had some idea of a plan, but at this point, there would be little point to try to come up with a complete one. All he knew was that he’d have to quick and silent.

Xander took a deep breath and centered himself, calming himself down. He lowered his head, obscuring his face from view from the peephole and knocked on the door. It sounded a lot more confident than he felt.

He heard light footsteps on the other side of the door as he reached behind his back and pulled the silenced handgun from behind his back. Xander pushed in with his left hand as the door opened slightly, his hand starting to glow as he tightened his fist around the stout chain that served as an ineffective lock. The man that had opened it cautiously looked surprised as Xander ripped the chain down, shoving the door in as he raised his gun.

“What the-?” Garson was cut off as a swipe of the pistol impacted against his temple, slamming him to the carpet. He only saw a booted foot coming towards his face before he saw nothing.

Xander kicked the door shut behind him, after ensuring that the man on the ground wouldn’t be bothering him for a while. Pistol raised, he moved forward into the room, glancing into the bathroom quickly before moving further inside towards the woman that was looking at him with a blank expression on her face.

It was Lilah Morgan. And though he had never seen her up close until this day, he had to admit, he could see why Orson might have kinda liked her.

“Who are you?” Lilah said, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at the man that had just broken into her room.

“I think you know,” Xander said, pistol aimed right at her. She didn’t seem particularly scared nor intimidated, which was rather troubling. “You mind telling me why you’re in Boston?”

“Looking for you, I suppose,” the lawyer replied, unhappy with how things had turned out. Garson had been more effective than she had thought, though less effective in other ways. Some psychic he turned out to be.

“Sit on the bed,” Xander said, glancing at the papers that were on the desk near one of the side walls. He moved in and over to it as Lilah moved and sat onto one of the beds, still looking as defiant as she did when he originally busted in.

He reached the desk and carefully looked at the papers, noting that they seemed to indicate some method of tracking him. Maps and assorted notes were telling, though Xander wasn’t quite sure of what. Looking at the woman, he put the gun back into his waistband. “I’m very quick. You know that already, so I suggest you don’t try to do anything stupid. Like call for your muscle, they’d still have to bust in here, and I am a very good shot.”

Lilah said nothing.

Xander gathered the papers together, scooping it into the empty trash can that lay near the desk. He made sure to keep track of the woman’s movements however. He also turned on the television, turning up the sound.

“You were the one in the parking garage,” Lilah said after a moment, trying to size the young man up. He looked a hell of a lot younger than she would have expected. That could work to her advantage. “Weren’t you?”

Xander just looked at her, and then nodded. “Yeah. So why don’t you tell me why you’re looking for me, instead of not looking for me like I told you to.”

“I already told you,” Lilah said, crossing her legs as she glared at the boy. “It’s my life if I can’t find…a replacement for Wendell, or should I say Orson.”

“Why would you need a replacement for my…for Orson,” Xander said carefully. He examined her carefully, concentrating on her face and trying to not notice her legs. It was all getting so distressingly familiar.

Lilah looked at him, smiling slightly. It made sense in a way, and if Orson’s abilities were genetic… “Was he your father?”

Xander said nothing, turning as he heard the man on the ground groan. He moved to the short hallway and bent down to drag the man further into the room, making sure to never let Lilah out of his sight. Once the man was lying on the floor in front of one of the beds he faced the lawyer once again. “I answer that, you answer my question.”

“Alright,” Lilah nodded, smiling a little more. Things could still work out, considering that he had met up with her twice and had refrained from simply killing her. She had seen how he had responded, or attempted to prevent himself from responding. Men could be so easy that way.

“Yeah, he was my father,” Xander lied, though it was more semantics than anything else. He had been better than his biological one at any rate. “What did you need Orson for?”

“To fight in the Tournament, though I suspect you already knew that didn’t you...” Lilah trailed off, expecting a name.

“For Wolfram and Hart,” Xander continued, ignoring Lilah’s unspoken question. Undoubtedly her intentions had been to win said Tournament and gain access to the Capital Cities of Heaven for untoward ends. Something that would lead to nothing good.

“So what are you?” Xander looked down at the man on the ground, who was only now coming around in a state where he could be questioned.

“What?” Garson asked, looking up at the man and holding a hand to his head. It still hurt, the side of his face throbbing. He scooted back and leaned against the foot of the bed.

“You’re the one that tracked me,” Xander said, putting the pieces together. “That right?”

“What? Yeah,” Garson said, trying to focus.

Xander glanced at him, wondering exactly what the risks were. “How?”

“Don’t answer that,” Lilah inserted, glaring at the psychic.

Garson did as he was told, though he tried to back up even more as the man that had hit him and kicked him pulled out a gun.

“Answer that,” Xander said, pointing the weapon at the man’s forehead. “If it can be figured out with your notes, then I’ll figure it out eventually. This’ll keep you alive.”

Garson looked toward Lilah for an answer, the woman just rolling her eyes and nodding in response. He turned back to the man, nearly stuttering, “yes.”

“How?” Xander asked.

Garson licked his lips, still nervous about the gun pointed inches away from his face. “Energy signature. When it’s powerful enough, when you use it enough, I can track it through the aether. Happened last night.”

“How’d you get here?” Xander asked, suspecting that he had triggered the reaction when he had gone up against Kakistos.

“Teleportation,” Garson continued to answer, nearly unable to stop now.

Xander nodded. He really needed to learn more about magic. “This tracking, easy to do?”

“No.” Garson shook his head, though slightly proud of his abilities. “I’m just really really good. I doubt anybody else could do it.”

Xander squeezed the trigger, the bullet entering into the man’s head with a soft and wet thud. The body slumped as the life left the psychic. “Too bad for you.”

Lilah gasped, and jumped involuntarily.

That was another of Orson’s lessons he supposed. To protect himself and those that he cared about, he’d be called upon to do things of a questionable nature. The world wasn’t black and white and he couldn’t just use some absolute code of honor. He’d have to man up, and make the hard choices. Make the hard decisions quickly, intuitively at times perhaps, but quickly all the same. He’d have to man up, or die.

Xander turned to her, moving the handgun up to point at her head. He could probably end it by just killing her and going next door to kill her protection. Yet, Orson had mentioned her in his journal. Had spoken of her with some fondness, despite knowing the depths of her evil. He had even told her his real name after initially using an alias. He couldn’t just kill her, even though he knew that he probably should. It was institution maybe, or maybe he just wanted not to be so flippant with life and death so often. “Give me a reason not to kill you.”

“Your father was willing to work with me,” Lilah said, keeping a calm expression though she was inwardly working for a reason for him not to kill her. She smiled helpfully, crossing her legs again, which caused her skirt to ride up higher on her legs. “Maybe we can work out an arrangement.”

“I’m still not seeing a reason,” Xander said, steeling himself up. He was running out of time, and he’d have to make a decision. “And my patience is wearing thin.”

“Chi’Lin,” Lilah blurted out, grasping at straws. It had been one of a number of legends and myths that Orson aka Wendell had looked through. “Your father was looking into it. I could only imagine that there was a reason. I can help you with that.”

Xander said nothing, though it had been the magic word. He lowered his gun though, and placed it back in his waistband. He supposed he could try hypnotizing her, but she seemed a bit too strong willed for that to work. He had to go with his gut instinct it would seem. “And I just let you go?”

“You could come back with me,” Lilah said encouragingly. She glanced at Garson’s corpse, the psychic’s eyes wide open. She turned back to the young man, standing up slowly and smoothing her skirt. “We could go back to your room first…”

“No, pack up anything you might need. You get one bag and you’re carrying it,” Xander said, knowing that it wouldn’t be a popular decision. Damn his hunches. “And any tracking devices, so not a good idea for you at this point.”

Lilah nodded, noting the intense expression on the boy’s face. He may be willing to let her live for now, but she had little doubt that he’d put a bullet in her head just as easily as he did for the hired help. Still, the young were often very responsive to outside influences.
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