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Echoes of the Fallen

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Fallen May Rise". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: YAHF- Xander lost a bet with with Willow, where he had to dress up as a Jewish character for Halloween. Well, he stuck to the bet, and now, he must overcome the memories of a man who wanted only to protect his people, no matter the cost.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Xander-Centered(Recent Donor)ChilordFR181492,971197516226,9082 Jul 094 Dec 09Yes
CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner

Feeding the Maelstrom

Echoes of the Fallen:

Chapter 10: Feeding the Maelstrom

Disclaimer: These aren't my characters, only my interpretation. Magneto belongs to Marvel, Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon and the various studios/networks.

Author’s notes: The beginning of the end was the previous chapter. The destination is set and defined. All that remains is the journey and the path that it will take. There are only a few chapters remaining in this fic, the vast majority have come to pass, and what’s left, is to build up to the climax.

Enjoy.

-Onward Ho-

“Well, this simply won’t do at all.” Mayor Richard Wilkins frowned slightly as he looked over the report in his hand, before glancing up at the vampire shifting in a decidedly nervous fashion in front of him. “And you’re certain about the… validity of this report?”

“Wish I wasn’t.” Trick shuddered, almost violently as he closed his eyes. “That… is one messed up bitch. Scary powerful.”

“Yes, well, she is Glorificus.” Sighing slightly the Mayor casually dropped the report down on his desk. “Well, this is certainly a monkey wrench in things. As if that silly little sisterhood wasn’t bad enough.”

“Apparently there are also rumors of a gang of zombie high schoolers planning on… well... Doing a bit more hell raising than one normally does at that age.”

“Ah, always nice to hear about a fresh young go getter.” Wilkins nodded his head and smiled slightly. “How’re the little rapscallions planning to raise their ruckus?”

“According to reports?” The vampire offered before lightly adjusting his tie and shifting in a nervous fashion. “Blowing up the high school apparently.”

“Oh.” There was a tone of disappointment in the Mayor’s voice at the vampire’s description. “Really, isn’t that a tad… mundane?”

“Yes, well we wouldn’t even know about it, if the Hell Bitch hadn’t scared so many into Willy’s when the young man, a Jack O’Toole was celebrating his recent reinstatement among the relatively living.” Trick noted with a slight look of amusement. “His night didn’t quite end up as… celebratory as he thought it would.”

“Language, Mr. Trick, language.” The Mayor chided lightly as he leaned back, lightly steepling his fingers together. “Well, this has turned into quite the sticky little mess.”

“Well, I gotta tell you, Boss…” Trick paused a moment, his eyes shifting slightly as he would study the man in front of him. “I’m starting to… Hear things.”

“That is what ears are for.” Wilkins noted jovially as he smiled, reassuringly back at the man. “And part of what I pay you for.”

“You’ve heard about the Slayers’ guy…”

“Alexander Harris.” The name was supplied with a mild contemplation as the Mayor almost tasted the word. “Quite the intriguing fellow that one, very, very intriguing.”

“You say intriguing, I say scary.” Trick responded with a slight shrug of his shoulders. “Rayne, the guy I called in for the… Distraction a few months back?”

“Yes, he did do his job admirably, you don’t find many with that kind of lust for what they do these days.” Richard Wilkins agreed, smiling fondly in remembrance. “A shame that the Slayers had to go and ruin so much of that.”

“Well, I was talking to him, keeping up with contacts, networking, you know how it is.”

“Quite. Greasing the palms, pressing the flesh… I am in politics, remember?” There was amusement, dancing coldly in the man’s eyes as he waited for the vampire to get to the point.

“Of course.” Trick responded quickly before looking back into those seemingly pleasant eyes. “During the course of our… conversation, I was probing his willingness in possibly doing another job for us sometime soon.”

“I take it that his response wasn’t in the positive?” Sighing helplessly, the Mayor shrugged slightly in his seat. “Well, considering the fact that he has a pair of irate Slayers less than thrilled with him would…”

“It’s not the Slayers he’s worried about.” Trick spoke in a soft, almost quiet voice as he watched his employer. “It’s not even his old chum, the Watcher.”

“Really? Now that’s interesting. The stories of his Ripper days still haunt a few circles. I had expected a bit more… respect for the man, from someone with such first hand experience.”

“Apparently he doesn’t think the man really has what it takes to truly be the Ripper anymore,” Trick admitted as he paused a moment before continuing. “No, the reason he won’t, is he wants to make sure that Harris has had a longer time to calm down.”

“And his exact words, Mr. Trick?” There was a hint of humor in the man’s voice as he spoke.

“I believe they were… ‘I’m not setting a bleeding foot in that town until either that damned Harris bugger is either gone, or has calmed down,' Sir.” The vampire offered up.

“Now, tell me Mr. Trick: What does that tell you?”

“That Harris is someone to watch out for.” Trick responded with a simple directness he rarely employed. “And that the rumors that he scares Angelus, might not just be rumors.”

“It tells me, that the young Mr. Harris has power.” The Mayor paused a moment, noting a complete lack of protest from the vampire with a slight quirk of his brow before he continued. “Now, not the kind of power a Slayer has, or a demon has, or a caster has. No, the power he has is a much, much more base, primal thing.”

“The power to do what needs to be done.” Trick offered up, his lips pursed as he lightly brushed a speck of dirt from his suit.

“No, not quite.” Wilkins shook his head, lips quirked slightly in amusement. “Not to say that he doesn’t have that particular trait, the tidbits I hear trickling down from the Watcher’s Council are proof of that. He has the power to connect to people it seems.”

“You’ve got connections in the Watcher’s Council?” Now that perked the vampire’s interest, the Council had been a pain for his kind for as long as any of them could remember.

“Connections? Heavens no!” The Mayor laughed softly and shook his head. “They simply… fail to secure things as well as they did once upon a time. Terribly sloppy really, but it does make it all the easier for ones of our… persuasion.”

“What is he rumored to have done?” Trick was curious now, a slow, predatory smile curling across his lips as he gathered enough to realize the Council had made itself another enemy.

“He apparently was less than… pleased with the Council’s traditions. Particularly a nasty bit called the Cruciamentum. Though, I do wish I could get my hands on that lovely concoction they use for it.” He paused nodding absently to Trick’s curious gaze as he continued. “Makes them nothing more than regular, weak girls. Very handy that.”

“Yes… I could imagine how handy.” Trick agreed, a predatory grin on his lips as he mentally filed that little tidbit away for future use. “So, how did our Mr. Harris express his displeasure?”

“Well, he didn’t see who did it, save it was neither of the Slayers, nor was it their former Watcher.” Richard Wilkins responded a slight little smile on his lips. “Described him as of obviously European, Oxford educated with a hint of German in the accent.”

“There are rumors that Harris does slip into what is described as a ‘scary British accent.’”

“Yes, and this mysterious figure decided to shatter the Head Watcher’s knee cap with a baseball bat, before knocking him out, and leaving him in the very same crate he’d used to store the pet vampire they kept for the trial.” Pausing for a moment, the Mayor lightly leaned back in his chair and smiled easily at the vampire in front of him. “The now crippled Watcher was more than slightly distressed by the action. A rather artistic touch I must say.”

“I’m liking the idea of crossing Harris less and less,” Trick admitted in a slightly subdued voice as he shifted just a bit. “He’s not the type to be easily lead astray from what I hear. And he helps to keep the Slayers in line as well.”

“Yes, I had hoped that the new one, Faith, could have been brought around to our way of thinking.” The Mayor noted sadly before letting out a slow, soft sigh of annoyance. “She could have been like the daughter I had to sacrifice almost a century back.”

“Ah…” Trick shifted slightly, uncomfortably as he nodded to the man. “So, what’re we going to do?”

“The young Mr…. O’Toole has been taken care of?” The Mayor arched a brow slightly as he studied the vampire on front of him.

“He managed to aggravate a pair of Polgara demons and found out that just because you’re a zombie, doesn’t mean that you’re immune to being ripped into little, undead pieces.”

“And that pesky Sisterhood?”

“Have already managed to attract the attention of the Slayers.”

“Keep an eye on the situation, just in case.” The Mayor murmured slightly. “It’s getting a bit… Down to the wire, and I’d rather not take the chance of something going wrong if I can help it.”

“I’ll have some of the boys on hand, just in case.” Trick responded quickly as he nodded his head. “Anything else I can do for you boss?”

“That should about cover it… for now.”

“Right.”

-o-o-o-

“Ugh, I so call the shower first when we get home.” Cordelia grumbled as she distastefully flicked bits of demon away from her. “At least I wasn’t wearing any of my good clothes.”

“…Those pants cost you more than my entire outfit, and you say they weren’t your good clothes?” Faith simply stared at Cordelia before shaking her head. “Ya know, I’ll never understand you cheerleaders.”

“Hey!” Buffy’s voice sounded in protest as she glared at her fellow Slayer. “There’s nothing wrong with having an appreciation for fashion!”

“There’s a difference between appreciation, and buying shit just because it’s got a name brand.” Faith shot back, before smirking slightly as she flopped down on a chair and looked around. “So, who’s turn is it to haul away the bodies?”

“Yours.” Xander’s voice spoke up while he stepped into view, holding a bandage on his forehead.

“But…” The Dark haired Slayer started to protest, before her head hung slightly in realization.

“She never learns, does she?” Cordelia noted with a slight smirk on her lips as she leaned back in her own chair. “She who brings it up, has to deal with it.”

“That, and we all have demon fighting seniority over her.” Buffy added with a sweet little smile directed to Faith.

“Oh, yeah, keep rubbing it in that princess over there has been fighting demons longer than I have.” Faith growled back, grumbling just a bit as she pouted just a bit.

“Well, we could always mention that Willow has seniority over her?” Buffy offered, still smiling that wicked little smug smile back at her fellow Slayer.

“Yeah yeah.” Faith waved her hand negligently as she leaned down and grabbed the first, already decaying demon corpse. “So, speakin’ of Red, she’s watchin’ out for furry boy?”

“Quite.” Giles’ voice spoke up tiredly as the weary Brit made his way out from the cage and lightly glanced around the disarray that had been his library. “As usual, the Apocalypse shows very little concern for making things more manageable for us. Rather a bother honestly.”

“So, the Council still snubbing you?” Xander spoke up as he began to pick up various books, beginning to casually place them back on the shelves.

“They plan to send a new Watcher here, and I am, and I quote ‘Not to interfere’ with his duties.” Giles chuckled softly with a tone of amusement in his voice. “So, of course I won’t.”

“Naturally.” Xander agreed with a nod of his head before lightly pursing his lips before turning his head towards the girls. “So, how’re we going to deal with the tweedy scab?”

“Tweedy scab?” Giles’ voice couldn’t hold back the amusement that twinkled in his eyes. “Really, Xander, no need for you to go out of your way on my part.”

“All those in favor of us going out of our way to make the guy they’re sending to replace our G-man’s life a living hell?” Xander glanced around, before grinning as all three girls raised their hand faster than he could raise his own. “And I’m sure Mrs. S and Dawn would agree.”

“Yes, well…” Giles started, before pausing slightly. “You’re not planning on doing anything… too horrible to them are you?”

“Oh, nothing that bad, I assure you.” Xander responded quickly, before pausing a bit and glancing around. “Anyone know how to pick a pocket?”

When Faith and surprisingly Cordelia’s hands both went up, three sets of eyes immediately locked onto the brunette cheerleader who blushed slightly under the scrutiny. “What? We were bored and Faith offered to teach me.”

When their gazes turned towards Faith, the brunette shrugged lazily and grinned back at the group, “You think I’d rather let HER pick the activity?”

“She does have a point.” Xander admitted, before chuckling slightly. “Is she any good?”

“Mmm?” When Xander looked back towards Cordelia, he saw her holding a very familiar wallet, casually thumbing through it with a lazy grin on her lips. “Oh, I’m not bad apparently.”

“There’s a reason I keep my wallet on a chain these days.” Faith confided in the rest of them in a stage whisper. “Princess is scary good at it.”

“Ah, I see.” Xander nodded slightly before he gave Cordelia a look. “You do realize I still have control over your accounts, right?”

Said brunette froze in place, before her eyes widened visibly as she stared at Xander with trembling lips. “You… you wouldn’t do that to me, would you, Xan?”

“… Cor, save that for someone who HASN’T known you since we were six.” The boy shot back, smirking back at her as he held out his hand. “Now, gimme.”

“Dammit.” The brunette pouted slightly before she handed over the wallet, grinning just a bit as she shrugged her shoulders. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”

“Suddenly, I feel the need to keep a much more observant watch on my credit card statements.” Giles noted casually, before pausing and blinking. “Oh, wait, I have control over her accounts as well, don’t I?”

“Yup.” Xander affirmed, nodding his head sagely as Cordelia pouted even more. “Thus, we make ourselves safe from the wicked ways of our new, resident thief.”

“Hey, she just taught me how to pick pockets, not how to break into people’s places and how to crack safes!” Cordelia protested, before pausing a moment and adding in a neutral tone, “That’s next week.”

“… Faith, please tell me she’s joking.” Buffy spoke up, as she turned her attention to a suddenly nervous looking dark haired slayer.

“She’s joking?” The words were hardly reassuring as they left the girl’s mouth, while she shifted slowly, slightly in embarrassment. “Kinda, sorta?”

“Hey, I won that bet fair and square!” Cordelia snapped back. “You owe me!”

“Bet?” Xander, Buffy and Giles all asked in worried unison.

“Yup, she bet me that I couldn’t pick her pocket without her noticing and stopping me.” Cordelia answered with a perky grin on her lips. “The winner got to pick what we did next time.”

“How was I supposed to know she’d be that good at it?” Faith offered defensively at the look the rest of the group was giving her. “Or that she’d choose… well, THAT! I thought she’d pick some girly shit that I really didn’t want anything to do with.”

“You wouldn’t believe some of the things she keeps in her wallet.” Cordelia confided in the rest of the group, grinning a chesire grin as she leaned back in her seat.

“Hey! We had a deal!” Faith snapped, growling angrily as she glared at the cheerleader.

“Oh, we still do. I’m not telling them what I found, only that I found something.” Cordelia grinned at her friend. “That’s all.”

“Bitch.” Faith hissed out and grumbled slightly as she crossed her arms about her chest.

“And this is some sort of eye opening revelation?” Cordelia countered as she lightly examined her nails.

“… And for some reason, the guys in school are jealous of me…” Xander shook his head, chuckling softly as he watched the interplay between the two brunettes. “If they only knew…”

Buffy looked over at the boy, before grinning wickedly as she slipped over and casually slipped herself into his lap. “Why Xan, you wouldn’t be implying there’s something not enviable about… your position, would you?”

When she wiggled just a bit against his lap, Xander blinked owlishly and stared at the blonde girl. “Buff… what’re you doing?”

“Getting comfortable.” Came the simple reply as he could feel the Slayer leaning back casually against his rigidly tense body.

“Bitch.” This time, Cordelia’s voice echoed Faith’s as the pair of brunette’s glared at the blonde.

As her tongue left her mouth in response, Xander growled a slow, dark sound as his voice bit out. “Buffy, make with the splainy, because, ya know, really not in the mood to play your pole, and I really don’t see a walking corpse with a soul around for you to be trying to make jealous.”

The girl froze in response as the boy forcibly reminded her of her actions a year and a half previously. As the pair of brunettes and a quiet Brit watched with an aura of quiet expectation, she slowly twisted her body around so she could face him. For a moment, there was nothing but a tense aura of silence as hazel eyes met a guarded, and almost angry black gaze before she spoke.

“Maybe because I’m doing this because I want to, not to make anyone jealous.” She kept her eyes on his, staring back defiantly as she refused to look away.

“Yeah, that’s just a nice little bonus for her.” Cordelia snarked cattily before she sighed and slumped back in her seat. “Get it through your head, Dweeb Boy, she likes you. Hell, all three of us like you.”

“Which, really fucking sucks, considering you only have eyes for blondie.” Faith added slightly with a shrug as she flopped down into a chair. “Especially since I can’t even bring myself to pull my usual: Want, Take, Have routine.”

“Especially what with Buffy beating you to it.” Cordelia pointed out, smirking at the now glaring blonde girl.

“Hey!” Buffy pouted softly as she sent a mild glare at Cordelia. “Just because I’m finally answering the first question he ever asked me….”

“The first…?” Xander’s brows furrowed for a moment, thinking back, before blinking slightly as he stared at the girl. “Hey now, no taunting the Xan-man with his slips, especially the Freudian ones!”

“Oh?” Cordelia arched a brow as her smirk only grew on her lips. “Now I really want to know what it was.”

“Oh, dear lord.” Giles sighed slightly as he carefully began to polish his glasses on his shirt, finally breaking his silence. “I swear, you four are as bad as one of those abysmal soap operas.”

“Hey, enough with the peanut gallery, I wanna know what embarrassing question the X-man asked blondie here!” Faith cut in, her eyebrows waggling in exaggeration as she drew her lips back into a wicked grin.

“Must we get into that?” Xander groaned softly as he offered a mild glare at the eager girls, his voice slipping slightly into the drawl.

“Well, it’s not every day a girl, especially one fresh out of the loony bin, has a guy literally fall at her feet and ask if he can have her.” Buffy shot back before she firmly reached out and quietly cupped his cheek with her hand. “And, Xan? The answer is yes.” She spoke in a soft voice as she leaned in, and softly lay a gentle kiss on his lips. “And I’m sorry it took me so long to answer you.”

For a moment, the boy said nothing, merely staring back at the girl perched on his lap with a masked, unreadable expression written on his features. Then, with a quiet motion, he gently lifted the petite Slayer up with a soft strength, settling her down on the table in front of him. Then, after a moment of staring into her confused eyes, the teen stood up, and walked wordlessly away.

As Buffy watched in stunned silence, she sat, rooted into place as she watched the boy she’d just kissed walk away without a word. Her eyes growing owlishly wide, the girl turned her gaze and looked at the two similarly stunned looking girls as she managed to get out. “What… just happened?”

“Damned if I know.” Faith shot back, her own eyes wide in shock. “Hell, even I can tell he’s interested in you…” She paused a moment, before sending a mild glare at Buffy. “But, what the fuck are you doing just sitting there, B? Get the fuck after him!”

Still blinking in shock, Buffy nodded, numbly before getting up and beginning to run out in an effort to catch up to Xander. Once the girl was out of sight, Faith turned her head from Cordelia to Giles before voicing her thoughts succinctly. “What the fuck?!”

“Well, Buffy did just dump that on him out of the blue.” Cordelia responded before shrugging just a bit. “Not too surprising that he’d kinda freak…”

“Princess, that was no kinda freaking.” Faith shot back as she stared at the door the pair had left through. “That was… some seriously fucked up freaking. I mean, what the hell? He’s wanted the girl for years, right? She finally offering herself up, and he just… leaves?”

“Buffy and Xander’s relationship has always been… complicated.” Giles spoke up carefully, his eyes darting towards the doorway.

“Complicated?” Cordelia snorted softly. “They’ve been fumbling around their attraction for one another for years. First Buffy was doing the avoiding because of Rosenberg, then there was the whole Angel thing…” The brunette paused before shivering slightly as she came to a realization. “And then with the whole Magneto thing… God, we are just like a soap opera.”

“With demony goodness thrown in.” Faith agreed with a slightly sardonic smirk. “Of course, if we really wanted to get all soap opera-y, I could start sleeping with you, and then one of us could start cheating on the other with Red… Knowing soap operas, it would probably be you with some kinda twisted, love/hate thing going on.”

Unable to resist, Giles threw in his own two cents. “Really Faith, I never would have taken you for the type of person to be so knowledgeable about soap operas.”

Faith froze instantly, her eyes widening like a dear in the head lights as her mouth worked furiously to do emit any kind of response and failed, miserably.

“Well, she does need something to do during the day while the rest of us are at school or working.” Cordelia noted, before giving the girl a pointed look. “Though, I’m starting to wonder, since it seems to be giving her some rather… twisted ideas. Really Faith, you and me? Hell, me and Willow? Soooo not gonna happen.”

“At least, she didn’t suggest something completely outlandish, like you being destined to start up an affair with the new Watcher as soon as he arrived.” Giles countered, smirking slightly before sighing softly. “I hope he’s all right.”

“Me too.” Cordelia agreed, glancing towards the door as they all seemed to sigh collectively before continuing to clean up the mess the Sisterhood of Jhe had made of the library.

-o-o-o-

“Xan!” Buffy shouted out as she caught sight of the stiffly retreating form of the teen she’d come to care for. “Stop!”

His shoulders stiffened visibly in response, but he made no other outwards sign of hearing her, his body never slowing, or halting. Twitching slightly in annoyance, the girl’s eyes narrowed before she spoke up again. “Dammit Xander! Wait a second.”

When he again seemed to ignore her, walking through the school doors, the Slayer’s eyes drew down into slits as she called out once more time. “All right you asked for it. Alexander Lavelle Harris!”

The teen flinched visibly, but he finally stopped where he was and turned around. Dark, guarded eyes glanced towards her, then away, as his voice could be heard commenting quietly, “I’m gonna kill Willow for telling you that.”

“That’s nice and all, but… what’s the what?!” Buffy stalked up to him and stared up into his eyes. “Why the hell are you running away from me?”

“I was walking, not running.” Xander pointed out quietly as his eyes refused to meet her own.

“You were running away.” Buffy countered firmly as she crossed her arms about her chest. “Now, make with the splainy.”

“Buffy… Please don’t do this.” Xander’s voice was soft as he spoke, still refusing to look at her, still refusing to meet her eyes.

“We’re doing this, here, now.” Buffy shot back, before blushing brightly as she realized exactly what she said. “Talking I mean!”

“So I gathered.” There was a bit of that dry humor, which was a good sign as far as she could tell, but it danced in his eyes for only a moment before they faded back into that quiet mask. “Why are you doing this, Buffy?”

“Because you walked out on me after I kissed you, without giving me any clue as to why?” The girl shot back as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“I meant, why did you sit in my lap? Why did you kiss me? Why the hell did you bring up how I made such a fool of myself two and a half years ago?!” Xander’s eyes flashed, a spark of anger pulsing through them as his voice took in a soft growling undertone that reminded of the night where he’d cornered her under the influence of the Hyena spirit.

“Because I’ve been wishing I said yes that day for almost a year now.” Buffy shot back, as she glared defiantly up at the boy. “Because I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell you that’s what I wanted for almost 6 months, and I finally said screw it and just went for it.”

She grabbed hold of his shirt then, her eyes blinking rapidly as she fought back tears as she pulled him close. “Because I’m not the scared little 15 year old girl, fresh out of the asylum and her parent’s divorce who’s utterly and completely lost. I KNOW who I am now. I know what I want, and most of that’s thanks to you, Xander Harris.”

The words stuck in his throat for a moment as he looked down into those glimmering, hazel eyes, before slowly, thickly the words slipped past his lips. “And, who are you then?” He didn’t ask the second question, the fear was eating at him, denial, refusing to let that hope blossom in his chest, that she wasn’t just playing another game with him.

“I’m Buffy Summers. High school student, daughter, sister, friend, Slayer.” She listed off those things with a slow deliberation as her eyes never faltered, never wavered. “I’m one of the girls that’s been falling in love with you, and what I want, is you, Xander.”

“Buff…” The word fell softly from his lips as he couldn’t tear his eyes from hers, the tears in his own eyes lightly swelling up, before the words continued unbidden. “I… Don’t know who I am. Not anymore. Not since that night. I don’t know where I stop and He starts. I can remember his failures of relationships. How the one, truly good relationship he had, was destroyed because she suddenly saw him as a monster.”

“I know who you are.” Buffy said simply as she pulled him just a bit closer. “You’re Xander, the person that’s always been there for me, no matter what. The person that has awed me, amazed me, shocked me and constantly surprising me.” She paused a moment, before grinning ruefully. “The person that helped my mom find herself in a relationship with a good man…” Her nose wrinkled slightly as she gave him a slight, pouting glare. “Even if he is my Watcher.”

“Ex-Watcher.” Xander corrected lightly even as his own lips twitched upwards just a bit. “Buffy… I’ve got a life time of memories of being hated… and I’ve got over a decade’s worth of memories of my family simply not noticing or not caring that I existed.”

“Yeah, well in case you hadn’t noticed, you seem to have picked up a family that does.” Buffy countered, grinning slightly as she did so. “And you have people that care about you, Xander. This isn’t some impulsive little spur of the moment thing.”

“I…” Xander spoke up, trying to protest before he could feel the touch of her lips against his, and for a moment, he simply marveled at how soft they felt.

“Can we at least try?” She almost battered her eye lashes at him as she gently, but instead of taking the coy, teasing route, she stared up at him with a simple, honest, open expression, letting him see that she WANTED this.

“…You sure?” She could feel his fingers gently touching her cheek, the warm skin rough from calluses as he gently stroked his thumb over her skin. “I mean… really sure you want to do this, Buff?”

Her own hand wrapped atop his own, and she nodded, smiling at him in a soft, almost eager way. “Yeah, Xan, I am. You’re the one I want.”

“Heh…” Xander’s lips twitched slightly as he let off a soft little chuckle, a memory flittering across his mind.

“What’s so funny about that, huh?” She scowled just a bit as she lightly poked him in his chest, while never letting his hand leave her cheek.

“Just… remembering what I said to Angelus.” He responded before lightly rubbing where she poked. “And, Ow!”

“Oh…” She paused a moment, a frown marring her features as she looked up at him. “The private stuff you wouldn’t tell me before?”

“Ayup.”

“And what was that?” She arched a brow casually looking up at him as she leaned in a bit closer, her chest pressing against his own.

“He decided he’d go the taunting about getting there first route. With me.” Xander smiled a bit at the memory before shrugging a bit as he lightly ran his thumb against her cheek.

“There?” Buffy’s brow furrowed in confusion before a look of realization dawned and her eyes swelled in realization. “Oh… OH!” Instantly she flinched, her eyes leaving his as she reflexively started to pull back, only to find he didn’t let her go.

“And I told him,” Xander continued, as if she’d never spoken as he looked down meaningfully into her eyes. “It doesn’t matter who it starts with, it matters who it ends with.”

“I thought we were just going to try things, huh, Xan?” She was blushing brightly still, but her lips had broke past the grin into a broad, eager smile.

“Maybe I’m just being optimistic.” The boy shot back, before grinning slightly. “But, I’m thinking… Do or do not, there is no try.”

“You’re such a geek.” She giggled softly, before pulling his head down, and kissing him, deeper this time as she let her mouth linger against her own before letting him up. “Don’t change.”

“Whatever you say, your Grace, whatever you say.” He grinned softly, his eyes twinkling brightly as he leaned in. “Shall we go back and help them finish cleaning up?”

“What, are you suggesting we leave and miss the chance to see the looks on their faces? No way.”

-o-o-o-

“Ugh, even more of these crazy vampires.” The blonde woman grumbled slightly as she glared at the defiant creature trying to stab her and casually back handed it away, sending it flying into a brick wall. “Come on, don’t you idiots know? I am GLORIFICUS! Eesh.”

“Well, this was unexpected…” the pale obese creature suspended in its pool noted as it narrowed its eyes. “What do you want?”

“Ick, you really are a nasty little blob, aren’t you?” Glory sniffed slightly and sighed as she lay her arms across her chest. “Seriously, I mean… completely nasty.”

“What do you want.” The words were flat and growled out as Balthazar glared at the creature wearing the form of a woman in front of her.

“I WAS coming here to try and make a deal with you, but then your little minion things had to go and attack me. Seriously, don’t your insects know their place?” Glory examined her fingers for a moment before smirking at the demon. “Luckily for you, they didn’t make me break a nail, otherwise… well I’d have to be unpleasant.”

“What are you doing, here, now, Glorificus?” Balthazar struggled to keep his face neutral, controlled as he watched the trapped Hell God rant away.

“Well, seems someone, somewhere, some how, went and pushed my timetable forward a few years. No big, really, just means I get to go home all the sooner.” Still examining her nails, the woman waved her hand negligently and smirked just a bit. “But, in order for me to do that, I need to find my Key, and well… I know its hidden here, on the Hellmouth, but not where.”

“And you’re proposing… what exactly?”

“Normally, I’d go to the biggest bad in town with the chance to get into my good graces.” Glory finally looked up from her fingers as a look of disgust rippled across her face. “But, there’s no way I’m going to lower myself to dealing with an insect of a mortal like him.”

“Wilkins is more powerful than he appears.” Balthazar growled in admission while shifting and submerging himself slightly in his pool before rising back up. “And he is so very close to committing the kind of blasphemy…”

“Blasphemy?” Glory looked at the demon in amusement as she lightly stretched out. “And tell me, what’s this great… blasphemy that he’s trying to commit?”

“He is only months away from Ascension,” Balthazar said in a cold, flat voice as he continued to lightly glare at the woman.

“There’s a mortal actually dumb enough to try that?” Glory stared at the man in shock, before shaking her head, laughing softly. “Well, that’s just… funny. Tell you what, I’ll deal with the little insect that dreams of becoming a demon, and you help me find my Key.”

“Agreed.” Balthazar nodded his head as he shifted in his tub, growling slightly. “But, be wary… He is NOT an easy foe to vanquish.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Glory waved her hand and smirked. “Just have your boys with their pointy knives on the look out for the last monk of the Order of Dagon. He’s around here somewhere, and he knows where the Key is. I need him alive.”

“Very well, my… followers should be able to handle that task.” The temptation where there to ask for her to retrieve his amulet for him, but, for the moment, he wasn’t foolish enough to challenge the creature before him, not in his crippled state.

“Just keep your end of the deal, fat boy.” And with that, the Beast was gone in a flash.

-o-o-o-

“Ugh, first we get sword wielding vampires chasing monks, then we get said monk, gibbering babble faster than even Willow…” Buffy started grumbling slightly as she did so.

“Hey!” Willow piped up in protest.

“No offense Red, but she’s got a point.” Faith pointed out, smirking slightly.

“… And now we’ve got to deal with the new would be Watcher from the Council here?” Buffy twitched slightly, her eyes narrowed before she glanced back over her shoulder and looked down at Xander. “Does that about sum it up, Xan?”

“You forgot to mention that said new would be Watcher is greener than a lot of the demon’s we’ve faced, and won’t stop drooling over Cordy.” Xander added helpfully as he grinned up at the girl perched atop his lap.

“Ah, right. Dirty, dirty old man.” Buffy nodded sagely as she glanced at a flustered young Brit.

“Now, see here Ms. Summers!” The man immediately protested as he stood up, glaring down at her imperiously through his glasses.

“And,” Xander continued as he rolled his eyes slightly. “Let us not forget that Mr. Wyndam-Pryce here thinks that it’s quite an accomplishment to have faced two, count them TWO vampires in controlled situations, at what… 24?”

“22 thank you.” Wesley Wyndam-Pryce sniffed disdainfully as he glared slightly at the boy smirking in amusement back at him. “And what exactly does this…”

“Show of hands, who here has ended up against more than just 2 vampires, in uncontrolled combat situations?” Xander asked curiously as his own hand rose up along with every other individual in the room. Nodding his head as he then continued. “Now, let’s see… Personally? I had to dust my first vampire at 15. Who was turned from my best friend Jessie. Buff and Faith, are exempted, as well… Slayers, ya know? How about everyone else?”

“16! Willow spoke up proudly, almost squeaking as she raised her hand and grinned.

“18.” Oz responded simply as he nodded his head just a bit.

“17.” Cordelia grumbled slightly. “Completely ruined my manicure, I mean, seriously!”

“I honestly don’t remember.” Giles admitted as he shrugged slightly. “It’s been too long and there have been too many horrors in between.”

“And your point in all this?” Wesley managed tersely as he glared lightly at the boy holding a Slayer in his lap as if it was the most common thing in the world.

“Beyond that the superior attitude about what you’ve done doesn’t really mean bupkis in this room?” Xander stated casually as the blonde Slayer smirked on her perch. “Incase they didn’t bother to tell you, we really don’t much care for the Watcher’s Council and their lackeys around here.”

“They did mention that there had been some… difficulties in the past, however I am sure…”

“Difficulties?!” Buffy’s voice was incredulous as she stared at the man, before lightly turning her eyes down to Xander. “Please tell me he’s not seriously trying to go that route.”

“Looks like, Buff.” Xander admitted as he shook his head and chuckled slightly. “What you seem to misunderstand, Wesley, is that your Council followed through on an unfortunate series of actions that has rather… drained away any good will we still feel towards them.”

“You almost got Buffy’s mom killed.” Cordelia offered helpfully as she looked up from her nails.

“You fired G-man here.” Faith added a moment later as she lightly propped her feet up on the table.

“She’s worse about that infernal nick name than you ever were, Xander.” Giles grumbled softly as he sent a mild glare towards the smirking dark haired Slayer. “Let us not forget the Cruciamentum.”

“The…” Wesley began only to be cut off before he get more than a short word out.

“Time honor tradition, blah, blah, blah.” Buffy snapped back, lightly flapping her fingers in a motion miming a mouth. “Soooo not a good idea.” Shaking her head just a bit she sighed before slowly standing up and arching out. “Let’s get something straight, Mr. Would-Be-Knock-Off Giles…”

“Please, Buffy.” Giles spoke up, his lips twitching slightly. “I’m not sure Mr. Wyndam-Pryce qualifies that high on the scale of things.”

“Now, see here!”

“He can’t even get the huffy indignation right.” Xander added. “Giles makes it seem dignified, Wesley here? He just comes off as a pompous, well… ponce.”

“Yes, quite.” Giles agreed as he casually began to polish his glasses. “I suppose we could stop playing with him and lay down the ground rules for letting him play?”

“I don’t know, G.” Faith drawled out as she leaned back in her chair. “I kinda wanna make him squirm s’more.”

“Just as long as you lay down that he needs to keep his eyes off of me.” Cordelia added casually before shuddering slightly.

“Right, so, getting to what we’re getting straight?” Buffy offered with a slight quirk of amusement on her lips.

Xander watched the display as he leaned back in his chair, and allowed a soft little smile to curl over his lip as he watched as his Slayer tore into the freshly minted Watcher.

-o-o-o-

“Ya know, this is really getting aggravating.” Glory noted as she glared mildly down at the quivering form of Allan Finch. “Your boss is really starting to get on my nerves, you know that?”

“P-p-please, I’m… I’m just a secretary!” The man was whimpering in desperation as he stared up through blood stung eyes. “He barely tells… me anything!”

“Secretary?” The woman rolled her eyes as she glanced down at the man. “What, you think I’m stupid or something, Mr. Deputy Mayor?”

“Oh, God… I don’t want to die!” Allan Finch whimpered softly as he stared in wide eyed, and abject fear at the woman grinning menacingly over him.

“Blah, blah, blah… So, the Mayor?” Glory casually asked as she lightly twisted on the man’s arm, squeezing with enough force to make the bones creak in protest.

“AAAARGH!” The man screamed with pain as he tried to pull away from the woman’s grip, pulling, jerking as wildly as he could, his shoulder dislocating in effort as he tried, to no avail, to get away.

“I really don’t have all night you know… So, where’s this Mayor guy?” Glory sighed slightly as she looked down at the man. “Really, you just tell me and I’ll even stop hurting you and let you live.”

“All… All I know is that he’s going to be… to be performing an invincibility ceremony, in preparation for his Ascension!” Allan whimpered out, staring up at the blonde woman.

“Now, we’re getting somewhere!” Glory smirked at the man as she simply dropped his arm. “And just where is he doing this, hmmm?”

“C-City Hall!” Allan whimpered out, staring fearfully up at the woman.

“There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Glory lightly patted the man’s cheek before grinning viciously at him. “Now… one more thing…”

And before the man could fully protest, Glory sunk her fingers down into his skull and let off a sigh of contentment as she drained away his sanity. “Ahh… I needed that.”

Without a further word, Glory stood, leaving a madly gibbering Allan Finch behind her, clutching at his injured arm.

-o-o-o-

“Really, now where could Allan be, he was supposed to be here for…” Richard Wilkins began as he approached the pentagram, just before the nearby door exploded inwards, sending shards of wood flying in every direction.

Blinking slightly, The Mayor looked over the confident woman striding into the room. As Trick paled in recognition, Wilkins offered up a simple observation. “Well now, that’s quite some entrance… Glorificus I take it?”

“Got it in one, Dick.” The woman agreed with a smirk, before she noticed Trick trying to inch away. “Pet vampire?”

“Well, he does have his uses.” He responded with a slight shrug of his shoulders before plastering a grin on his face. “Now, what brings you to my office today?”

“Oh, you know, the usual, this and that.” Glory said casually, as she caught trick by his jacket, then casually tossed him onto a jagged edge of wood, dusting him instantly. “You make a deal, then you just have to make sure you follow through with your part of the bargain, so the other guy follows through with theirs.”

“Ah, yes, that is the price of doing business. Gotta keep those promises.” The man continued to smile even as he lightly stuck his hand down into his pocket. “So, what business transaction brings you to my humble office at this time of night?”

“Seems you’ve made yourself the enemy of some rather upset demons, Dick.” Glory noted, smirking slightly as she casually swayed forward. “And unfortunately for you, I need something found, and I’d much rather deal with a demon that knows its place, than an overly ambitious human like you.”

“I take it my survival doesn’t factor into this deal?” The man nodded casually to himself. “Well, I’m afraid, as much as I’d really like to, I can’t help you with your situation, Miss.”

“You say it like you’ve got a say in the matter, Dick.” Glory was grinning, evilly at the man.

“Oh, I do.” The Mayor nodded his hand, and as he pressed down on the watch on his pocket offered her a smile. “Toodles.”

And in a flash, the man was gone, leaving Glory standing there in an empty office, while frowning slightly. “Well, looks like he’s a bit slimier than expected… Damned politicians.”

Sighing slightly before she shook her head and smiled cheerfully as she strode back out the door. “Ah, well, I’m sure some one else around here will have an idea of where I can find him. And from there, get my hands on my key.”
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