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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)ChilordFR181492,971197516225,1062 Jul 094 Dec 09Yes
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The First Cresting Wave

Echoes of The Fallen:

Chapter 9: The First Cresting Wave

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: Thanks to Methos for his help in refining some of my ideas and helping to keep me from running through a nasty bit of stuff I really didn't want to write.

-Now my friends, onwards.-

“Ya know, I was never really close with my mom, but, that MOO shit was seriously fucked up.” Faith muttered as she grunted slightly in effort as she loosened a rusted bolt. “Ya know?”

“No argument here.” Xander agreed quietly as he shifted slightly from where he was staring at a spread out sheet of blue print paper, muttering quietly under his breath in Romani.

“Ya know, it’s kinda freaky when you start doing that, right?” Faith carefully settled the bolt down then went to work on the next one. “The whole, start muttering to yourself in one language or another.”

“Sorry.” He smiled, sheepishly back at the girl as he lightly rubbed the back of his neck. “I just kinda get to thinking, and my mind slips into whatever language fits at the time.”

“Fits?” The girl arched her brow slightly as she would slowly arch upwards, her body a flowing into an upright position as she arched a brow back at the boy.

“Yeah.” Xander nodded slowly, before shrugging just a bit. “You know how different languages are structured differently?”

“Uh, no, not really.” The dark haired girl admitted with a slight blush on her cheeks as she carefully wiped her hands on a rag.

“Ah… Remind me to push you to start learning one then.” He smirked slightly, his eyes twinkling playfully. “They get handy. Especially if you want more creativity in, well…”

“Gotcha.” Faith smirked slightly before shrugging just a bit. “But, you know, school and me? Not the best fit.”

“Eh, sometimes you just need the right teacher.” Xander grinned back at her before shrugging slightly as he muttered slightly under his breath before tossing away the blueprints. “Ugh, I hate dumbing down this stuff.”

“Dumbing down?” The dark haired Slayer asked as she curiously glanced over the rather complex looking diagrams she couldn’t make heads or tails of. “If this is dumbed down…”

“It is.” Xander waved his hand negligently as he grinned slightly and shrugged. “Gotta keep from going too high tech. Mainly using what’s already out there in more creative ways… That way I can stay more under the radar. Still… I did get this after I published a paper on using magnetic fields to create wormholes.”

Smirking slightly, he offered an open envelope to the girl and smirked just a bit. Arching a brow, Faith pulled out the letter it contained before whistling softly in appreciation. “Uncle Sam wants to hire you? And damn if that ain’t a nice sized pay check.” Pausing a moment, she smirked a bit. “You gonna go fly high?”

“Nah, I’m sticking around here for now.” Xander grinned back at the girl. “Gotta keep you girls out of trouble and what not.”

“Because you know, we soooo can’t keep out of trouble on our own.” Faith rolled her eyes slightly and chuckled as he simply arched a brow in return.

“Actually, no, you can’t.” Xander countered, before smirking slightly as he crossed his arms about his chest. “Need I remind you of… the incident?”

Faith paled, instantly as she took a step back. “Hey! No need to bring that shit up!”

“Right,” Xander drawled out as he grinned back at the girl. “Because, we know that…”

“Nuh uh…” Faith cut him off, pouting slightly as she glared at him mildly. “What I do when drunk does NOT count!”

“Fraid so, m’dear.” He grinned back at her, his eyes twinkling with mirth, before they both heard the Garage door opening in the distance. “Ah, I was wondering when she was going to show up.

“Yo, princess! Where you…?” Faith began to shout out in greeting before blinking slightly as an almost glassy eyed Cordelia practically stumbled into sight. “C? What’s up?”

Xande was immediately on his feet, an instant behind Faith as they both rushed over to the girl’s side, looking down at her with worried eyes as he quickly examined her. “Don’t see any injuries… She just seemed to be in shock. Cordy? What happened?”

“I…” Cordelia’s voice was thick, strained as she slightly against the two’s bodies before she shook her head, her eyes fastening on Faith’s with an intense look of shear confusion. “I really need a fucking drink.”

“Err… Wha..?” Xander blinked slightly as he stared at Cordelia in absolute shock, his eyes wide and blinking in confusion. “Ooook…. I’m going to guess something’s wrong?”

“Faith?” Cordelia ignored Xander for the moment, her dark eyes focusing on the Slayer. “Drink, now.”

“Errr, sorry, C.” Faith shrugged a bit, wincing softly. “X made me get rid of it all.”

“You got drunk and started parading about in pink underwear.” Xander deadpanned as he gave the girl a look. “Not to mention your singing.”

“If I don’t get a drink, soon, I’m going to be hurting people.” Cordelia’s tone was cold, and flat, as she glared lightly at Xander. “And since you took away the obvious solution, get it.”

Xander blinked slightly, staring at the girl for a long moment. “Errr… get what?”

“The bottle of blue label you keep on hand for a spectacularly fucked up day.” Cordelia snapped back as she growled out. “Because, after what I found out, if I don’t get something…”

“Oh, that…” Xander winced slightly as he ignored the incredulous stare Faith shot him while he stood up and walked to the office.

“You keep a bottle of fucking Blue Label, and you had me throw out all MY booze?!” Faith growled slightly and glared at the man.

“I don’t get drunk, parade about in pink undies, singing bad 80’s pop music that would send a vampire fleeing in terror.” Xander shot back from the office, before he returned a moment later with a mug and a wooden box.

As Faith flushed brightly in response to his words, Xander set the coffee into Cordelia’s hands then placed the box on the nearby table. Carefully pulling it open, he pulled out the bottle, unscrewed the cap then poured a generous splash into the cup. When Cordelia merely glared at him in response, he tilted the bottle and added more into the mix.

“That bad?” Xander offered as he watched the girl practically take a gulp of the whiskey before nodding her head.

“I just came from home, to find a bunch of IRS agents and moving men, walking off with practically everything.” Cordelia spoke up as she gripped the cup tightly in her hands. “Turns out, Mother and Father, dearest? They decided they didn’t have to pay their taxes, ever.”

“Shit.” Xander summed up succinctly as he immediately winced in sympathy. “How bad?”

“Bad.” Cordelia sipped at the whiskey this time, shuddering slightly as she did so. “It’s ALL gone. Everything save for some of my clothes and some of my personal possessions. I don’t even get to keep my car. They’ll be taking that tomorrow. We’ve got a few days to find a new place to live, then, we’re evicted.”

Cordelia pinched the bridge of her nose, before shaking her head again. “And my genius parents, knew all this was coming, but didn’t tell me a damned thing about it!”

“Ouch.” Xander winced slightly before nodding sympathetically as he lightly patted her on the shoulder. “Well, sucks to be them.”

“Sucks to be them?!” Cordelia almost squawked as she glared at the boy. “They’re pretty much going to jail! I’m going to be stuck, homeless, without even a damned cent! I’m screwed!”

Xander blinked a moment, before pinching the bridge of his nose once more before walking into the office once more.

“Um, X?” Faith blinked slightly as she watched the boy walk away. “I don’t really…”

A moment later, Xander walked back to them, and without a word, lightly smacked Cordelia atop her head with a bank book. Growling softly the girl grabbed the thing out of his hand and took a swipe at him. “Hey! What the hell, Xander?!”

“Cordy, do you really think I’d leave you high and dry?” Xander lightly glared at the girl as he crossed his arms about his chest. “Open it up.”

“What?” Cordelia blinked slightly before looking more closely at the item in her hand, before carefully starting to go through it, her eyes bugging out of her sockets as she looked at the amount inside. “Wha…? Wha huh how?!”

“All of you have an account with the trust.” Xander responded with a shrug, before tossing another bank book at a blinking in shock Faith. “I just never told you about yours because I figured you probably wouldn’t need it.”

“Xan, is this…?” Faith stared at the item in her hand like a deer caught in the head lights.

“Your account. It isn’t as big as Cordy’s, I only started it when you moved in here.” Xander shrugged slightly, before offering the two a lopsided grin. “I know its nothing compared to the funds you’re used to having access to, Cor, but I figured it’d be better than nothing, right?”

Cordelia just stared at Xander for a long moment, her eyes wide as she blinked, then blinked again at him. Finally, she lifted the mug up to her lips and drained away the rest of the whiskey in one long, eager gulp. “Xander, I…” She blinked for a moment, before she just lurched forward and hugged, tightly onto him as she could feel his arms lightly hugging her in return.

“You know I don’t want a handout, X.” Faith grumbled slightly as she lightly glared down at the bank book before turning the look onto the boy comforting their friend.

“Faith.” Xander leveled her with a calm, hard look as he lightly rubbed Cordelia’s back. “It’s a gift from a friend, one that wants to make sure that his friends are taken care of. Because you’re my friend.”

“I know, just… Yeah, you know me.” She shrugged slightly before looking down at Cordelia with a slight frown before sighing a bit. “How much shit you got, Princess?”

“What?” Cordelia blinked then glared slightly at Faith. “Shit?”

“Ya know, stuff?” Faith shrugged a bit as she ignored the slight venom in the cheeleader’s tone. “Things that are yours?”

“What’s in my car while I try to find a place to live before they repossess it.” Cordelia responded flatly before sighing slightly. “Why?”

Faith slowly shifted her eyes over to Xander and arched a brow. “Well, I’ll need to check with the landlord…”

“Well, I’m not sure… you are enough of a troublemaker on your own,” Xander mused aloud as he idly turned the thoughts over in his head. “Two of you, together?”

Cordelia blinked slightly, before blinking owlishly at Faith. “You… want me to stay with you?”

“Well, shit, it gets kinda boring around here once X takes off for the night.” She shrugged slightly, before offering up a tentative grin. “I figure, what the hell, might as well. It’s not like I don’t have room.”

“I’m not sleeping with you.” Cordelia said straight off the bat in her blunt, pointed tone, before she quirked her lips slightly, “And you’re not getting me into those skank pants you love so much.”

“Damn.” Xander muttered audibly, before grinning back at the glare Cordelia sent him. “What? I can’t appreciate a woman’s… assets?”

“And, you’re holding Xander down, so I can smack him upside the head.” Cordelia continued as she twitched just a bit.

“Mmm, an excuse to put my hands on X-man’s helpless body?” Faith practically leered back at a suddenly nervous looking Xander. “How is this a bad thing?”

“It’s not.” Cordelia’s familiar smirk was back in place as she casually arched a brow at the girl. “If you’d be so kind?”

“You know, assaulting your landlord is generally considered a bad thing.” Xander noted warningly. “Especially after you’ve just extorted booze out of him.”

“What’re you gonna do, evict us?” Cordelia offered challengingly as she stood up, stumbling slightly in the process before she glared at the boy. “Huh?”

“Well, no.” He admitted slightly, before pouting just a bit. “But it doesn’t mean you have to remind me I’m completely helpless.”

“Too bad, X.” Faith responded with a grin as she would casually walk up to him, and loop her arm around his shoulder. “Because, you know what? Yes, we do.”

And with that, she quickly put him into a head lock, offering the back of his head to Cordelia. As the cheerleader smirked and moved closer. Xander’s voice spoke up. “You brought this on yourself!”

Xander pushed his mouth up against Faith’s stomach, and blew a raspberry loudly against her shirt, while his free hand reached up and started tickling at her sides.

Things devolved rapidly from there.

-o-o-o-

“So…” A bored looking man with close cropped salt and pepper speckled hair, dressed in military fatigues spoke up to a similarly dressed blonde woman. “What’re we doing here again?”

“Sir… how many times are you going to make me repeat it?” The woman sighed in exasperation as she leveled the apparently superior officer with a look of pure annoyance. “We’re field testing the new environmental units that Eisenhardt Trust designed. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do more than a brief survey of these ruins.”

“Yeah, so much fun.” The sarcasm practically dripped off the man’s words as he spoke, glaring slightly at the woman before sighing slightly. “Is someone making sure that…?”

“I’m sure he’s fine, Sir.” The woman responded quickly as she continued to look over the worn and dusty machinery. “He doesn’t get into trouble everywhere he goes.”

Suddenly a loud clicking could be heard, along with an audible, echoing, “Oops.”

Pinching the bridge of his nose as an ominous hum began to thrum through the air, the man turned to look at the woman, sending her a mind glare. “You were saying?”

“Um… Sorry?” The voice could be heard echoing back to them.

“Just once… Once…” The man muttered slightly under his breath. “Come on, let’s go find out what he did THIS time.”

-o-o-o-

“So, let me get this straight…” The older man stated in a slow, drawn out way. “You managed to get a piece of ancient beyond belief machinery to work, accidentally….”

“Well, with all the times you’ve done it, is that so unbelievable?” A bespeckled man pointed out as he shifted nervously none the less.

“…Point.” The first man admitted. “But, this time, the only thing you managed to do, was push an astrological event, that has no real significance that we know of, forward roughly 2 years?”

“Pretty much.” The younger man agreed, before shrugging slightly.

“Too bad most of the things we do aren’t so harmless.” The man chuckled softly. “All right, lets get back to work, I wanna get home and relax already.”

-o-o-o-

“This... is most disturbing.” A voice spoke up as he gazed through the lens of the telescope. “And our brothers have confirmed this?”

“Yes.” The second voice was equally troubled as the man shifted slightly in coarse brown robes. “There was some how... a shift in what's come to pass. Some how, everything has been pushed forward two years.”

“This is... indeed troubling. If this is true...”

“We believe The Beast has found us as well.” A shudder rippled through the man's body as he looked out into the night. “With how things are...”

The first man stood silently for a long moment, before he stared up at the heavens themselves himself in contemplation. “We cannot escape, and still send the Key to the Slayer, can we?”

“No, we cannot.” A third, soft voice spoke up, as the figure entered into the room and locked his eyes with theirs in a solemn resignation. “The Order of Dagon will not survive long after the Key is sent to the Slayers.”

“Are we sure that we shouldn't follow the Knights' desire and destroy the Key?” The second man spoke up, the expression on his face clouded by uncertainty.

“The Key is energy, is cannot be destroyed, no matter how they might delude themselves into believing so.” The first man spoke up, practically spitting the words past his lips. “It would only free it from what it's been bound to, and make it all the easier for the Beast to get its hands on it.”

“The knights are simple minded zealots.” The third man said with a blunt disdain as he glanced out into the night sky. “Ugh, do they honestly think that we'd choose to risk the world over the Key?”

“Some of our Order might.”

Those words brought the third man up short, before he slowly turned to face the words the first man had spoke, a brow slowly arching upwards. “Surely you don't mean that.”

“I wish I did, old friend, I wish I did.” Slowly looking up towards the heavens, the man paused for a long moment, watching the glittering expanse of the sky overhead. “For too long it has been with us, an object of study, of wonder and in some ways, majesty. Some of our Order have become enthralled with it.”

The second man watched the others, his eyes displaying the nervous energy he could feel, gnawing at him from within. All too soon, if things went according to plan, the entirety of their Order would be dead, most of them at the hands of the Beast, the rest, their lives forfeit to the spell they'd use to protect the Key from it. Swallowing nervously, he couldn't help as his mind wandered between wondering if it was enough, and if he really wanted any part of this madness.


-Weeks Later, in another place-

“No.”

Quentin Travers slowly arched a brow towards the cold stare Rupert Giles was leveling towards him, even as he lightly steepled his fingers together as he leaned back in his chair. “Am I to understand it then, Rupert, that you’re refusing to administer the Cruciamentum to your Slayer?”

Giles barked off a short, cold laugh as he would look back across the room at the Head Watcher, as he would lightly cross his arms about his chest. “You really, have no clue, do you?” Shaking his head in a slight show of amusement he reached out and picked up the cup of steaming tea in front of him and took a slow, careful sip. “You see Quentin, what I’m doing, working to save the council from shooting itself in the stomach.”

“The stomach, Rupert?” The man arched a brow back at the man in front of him as he would lightly mull over the words. “And interesting choice of location. Most would have said the foot, or the head.”

“The foot implies a very, very painful inconvience.” Giles responded as he would take a slow, quiet sip of his tea. “The head implies a quick, if messy end. Relatively painless.” Gently setting the cup down, the man shook his head as he gazed back at the man in front of him. “However, do you know the kind of death being shot in the stomach creates?”

“A slow, painful end.” Travers admitted as he would lightly arch a brow. “You wouldn’t be threatening the Council, would you, Rupert?”

“What I am doing, Quentin, is warning the Council that if they go through with this, they will unleash a monster that will destroy them.” The cold voice was back in full force as Giles’ eyes locked onto those of Quentin Travers. “If you manage to actually hurt her seriously? You will be bled, slowly, carefully, and painfully. If this test of yours kills her?” Giles shook his head and lightly pressed his own fingers together as he stared back at the man in front of him. “I can almost guarantee you, that the Watcher’s Council will end up being wiped out.”

“What rubbish are you talking about, Rupert?” The man stared, incredulously back across the room at the man. “Are you daft enough to threaten the council?”

“I am not referring to myself, Quentin.” Suddenly then, the man’s entire demeanor shifted, changing from the cold stone faced watcher, the almost sadistic glint that reminded the Head Watcher just why this man had earned the name Ripper in his youth. “Though, I can assure you, that if she dies, I will be taking my own pound of flesh from you and your bleeding ponces.”

Shaking his head, and just like magic, the Ripper was gone, and again Rupert Giles stared back at him with those cold, hard eyes. “No, the one you have to truly worry about, isn’t me, Quentin.” Smiling a cold, amused little smile he idly flicked his eyes away, glancing out the window into the cool moonlight night. “The one you have to worry about, is the one that stared down Angelus. The man, that caused the most vicious creature in recent memory, one of the most dangerous vampires ever recorded, to turn tail and flee in utter and complete terror.”

He paused a moment, before chuckling softly. “Not to mention the fact, that you will be completely and utterly alienating Faith.”

“Slayer Lehane…” Travers began as he glared lightly towards Giles.

“Faith,” Giles emphasized the girl’s name as he would casually lock his eyes with Quentin’s own, “Has grown quite close to Buffy since she arrived. They patrol together, they hang out, as the term goes, together, and they share friends. If you think for an instant, you can pull this off without her becoming aware of it, or the Council’s involvement in it, you are sorely mistaken.”

“So, am I to understand you are disobey both council dogma and tradition, Rupert?” There was a warning edge of steel in the man’s voice as he narrowed his gaze at the man.

“As I said, I am trying to save the Council from monumentally buggering itself.” Giles responded as he shook his head and carefully pulled his glasses from his face and lightly wiped them on his shirt. “You’re risking not only alienating the Slayers, but turning them into actual enemies of the Council. On top of that, you’re coming dangerously close to rousing the anger of a man that’s more of a Romani than the Romani.”

“The council’s tradition has existed for as long as it has for a reason, Watcher Giles.” Quentin Traver’s voice dipped into an arctic fashion as he stared back at the man. “And we will not be bullied into forsaking tradition based on the half veiled innuendo of a Watcher who’s grown too close to his Slayer.”

“… You really have no idea what you’re going to unleash.” Giles said in a soft, sad voice as he glanced up at the now standing man, the pity in his eyes only serving to stoke the man’s growing anger even faster. “Deus animae tuae misereatur.”

“We have no need for God’s mercy, Rupert.” Travers nodded to Hobson who, pulled out a taser from his jacket, and forced it against Giles’ neck. “Simply to insure that you do not interfere.”

As Giles’ body jerked and spasmed in response to the volts of electricity surging through his body, he managed to direct a look of great pity towards his superior through the pain before his world blissfully faded to darkness.

-o-o-o-

“Xander, where’s Giles!?” Buffy looked at where her friend was studying at notebook in his garage her eyes more than slightly panicked as he looked up from his notebook, mouth firmly attached to a twinkie.

“Mmmph?” Blinking slightly, Xander looked at her curiously. “Mm mmph?”

“No, he’s not in his office in the library!” Buffy growled slightly before she held up a photograph of her mother being held hostage by a vampire. “I came home to find this behind the door!”

It was a rare sight what came next, as Xander spit out the twinkie and quickly grabbed hold of the photo. “What the… hell?”

“I… I think the Council has something to do with this.” Buffy shifted uncomfortably as she lightly rubbed her arm. “This guy, Travers… he confronted me, said something about Giles not doing his duty… Then he… shot me with this dart gun! And now, I… I can barely throw a dagger anymore! Hell, I’m barely as strong as Willow now!”

“Bloody…” Xander growled slightly before he suddenly twisted his head and bellowed. “FAITH!”

“Yo, X, no need to scream!” Faith yawned softly as she padded into the room. “Something up?” Blinking slightly as she looked at the distraught Buffy, she immediately shifted into a much more serious demeanor. “What’s wrong?”

“A vampire apparently has Joyce, someone from the Council apparently drugged Buffy making her lose her Slayer mojo, and Giles is missing.” Xander summarized, his eyes burning as his voice shifted into the European drawl. “Up for helping Buffy with a rescue mission while I try to find Giles?”

“Lemme get my gear.”

-o-o-o-

Anger burned through Xander’s veins as he quietly loosened the ropes binding Giles down onto the chair in the man’s apartment. “You ok there, Giles?”

“I’ve been worse.” The man admitted with a slight smile, before he slowly rubbed at his neck. “Bloody taser.”

“So, are most of the Watcher’s Council this blatantly foolish, or is this Travers guy an exception?” Xander slipped down as he would carefully free the Watcher’s ankles next.

“He is the Council’s Head Watcher.” Giles responded as he lightly rubbed at his wrists and sighed slightly. “Take it as you will.”

“All right, they’re mainly this blatantly stupid.” Xander nodded his head again before taking a slow, deep breath. “Faith went with Buffy, hopefully she’ll get there in time to save Joyce.”

“Save…?” Giles’ eyes instantly hardened as a growl burned up from his throat. “What the bleedin’ hell are you talkin’ about?!”

“Buffy got a photo of Joyce being held by a vampire.” Xander was growling now as his voice began to shift again into that cold drawl it that echoed the boy’s answer to Giles’ Ripper. “This Travers guy then decided it would be a wonderful time to shoot Buffy full of something that zapped her Slayerness.”

“Travers?” Giles arched a brow slightly as his own voice began to darken. “I was wonder how he was going to try and pull off a Cruciamentum when I wouldn’t help.

“Cruciamentum?” There was a dark flash across Xander’s eyes as he glared at Giles. “What the hell, Giles?”

“It’s a test that the Council typically puts a Slayer through on their 18th birthday.” Giles responded with a grumbling sight. “I had thought I could convince them to not be so bloody stupid as to try and inflict it on Buffy.” He paused a moment, before meeting Xander’s eyes meaningfully. “Apparently I was mistaken.”

“And they decided to do it anyway.” Xander pinched the bridge of his nose as he sighed slightly. “Don’t they realize just how… Ugh. Do they some how expect Faith to simply ignore what they did?”

“I don’t think they really considered that fact.” Giles responded honestly, his lips pursing slightly as he shook his head. “Having another Slayer find out about the Cruciamentum has never been an… issue before.”

“It is now.” Xander noted as his eyes slowly darkened. “As they’re about to learn.”

“Pity that.” Giles agreed as he would slowly steady himself before forcing himself rigidly upright. “Shall we go and see what the girls are up to then?”

“What I was thinking.” Xander agreed, his lips pursed slightly. “And, I do believe I’m going to have a few… words with our dear Mr. Travers.”

“Ah, right then.” Giles nodded his head. “Shall I bring the tarp?”

“It would make clean up easier.” Xander admitted before lightly rubbing his chin. “How badly do you think the Council would miss him?”

“Quite a bit, sadly.” The older man admitted with a slight sigh. “More the pity, really.”

“Yes, quite.” Xander agreed with a casual nod of his head. “It’s so very much more work dismantling an entire organization than just one, foolish, individual.”

“And we do still have the Kalderesh to deal with.” Giles pointed out.

“All things in time my good Rupert, all things in time.” Xander drawled out as his eyes glinted with dark promise.

“True.” The man agreed, his eye eyes tinged with darkness as he set his lips firmly together. “Still, as much as it pains me to ask this…”

“You want me to give them another chance?” Xander quietly arched a brow as he looked back at Giles.

“Despite any… personal feelings about their motivations.” Giles grimaced softly as he spoke the words, his head hanging slightly in self loathing as he continued. “Without the Council to aid them, new Slayers…”

“I get it.” Xander grimaced slightly before sighing just a bit, before offering the man a slight, hopeful look. “Can I at least hurt them a little?”

“Oh, you can hurt them plenty.” Giles quickly reassured the young man with a slight wave of his hand. “Just… For right now, they’re all the Slayers have.”

“Then, we’ll have to fix that, won’t we?” Xander responded back, his voice cool with dark promise as he forced himself to stand, stiffly before he walked over to Gile’s weapons cabinet and pulled out a battle axe. “Crossbow?”

“Yes, thank you.” Giles agreed as he took the weapon and some bolts from Xander. “Shall we then?”

“Indeed.”

-o-o-o-

“Slayer Lehane, I must…” whatever other words Quentin Travers might have had to say were stifled by the sudden, vicious right cross Faith slammed across his jaw, sending the Englishmen flying backwards before falling into an unconscious heap on the ground.

“Dammit, I wanted to do that.” Buffy whined softly as she glared lightly at Faith, before sighing just a bit. “He was trying to get away?”

“Yeah, caught the little bastard trying to sneak out once he saw you heading to the building.” Faith growled slightly before shaking her head as she glared down at the man. “What’re we gonna do with him?”

“My mom comes first.” Buffy said simply and shook her head. “We can deal with him afterwards.”

Turning her head, she quietly pursed her lips for a moment before growling softly as she clenched her fingers against the stake. “Dammit…”

“Come on, B.” Faith responded simply as she put her hand on Buffy’s shoulder. “Let’s go get your mom.”

Nodding her head, Buffy, stood up with a stiffness in her spine as she quickly pushed her way towards the boardinghouse, stake clutched firmly in her hand.

“Oh, one thing.” Faith spoke up, before she suddenly tossed a stake through the air and the familiar sound of dust hitting ground could be heard. “Stupid vampires. Guess they figured you’d be on your own, huh?”

“Let’s hope so.” Buffy agreed, her eyes flashing thankfully to Faith before the cautiously entered the building.

“Yeah.” Faith agreed, pursing her lips. “Got any ideas about how we’re gonna approach this?”

“Well, I think they’re expecting just me, all weak, and helpless… so, guess that makes me bait, huh?” Buffy offered ruefully, before batting her eyes back at Faith with a nervous laugh as she faked a southern accent. “And Ah suppose, Ah’m jus gonna have ta rely on tha kindness of a strange girl.”

“Laugh it up, Bait. laugh it up.” Faith smirked slightly before gesturing to the door. “Now, go and be all helpless and bait-like.”

-o-o-o-

“Hide and seeeeeeek…” The voice floated around her, bouncing off the walls as Buffy moved from room to room, narrowing down one bricked off doorway to the next as she shivered in ill repressed fear.

“Ya know, it makes it easier if you’re just gonna be out here for me to Slay and be done with this…” Buffy noted as she cautiously made her way into the next room.

“Hide and seek! Hide and seek!” The voice almost giggled in amusement as it bounced off the walls, an eager, hungering echo lacing the words.

“Right, as if a normal vampire wasn’t creepy enough, I get the one that’s crazier than Drusilla.” Buffy growled slightly as she kept moving forward, her eyes narrowed as she finally came across a massive crate, waiting alone in a room. “Oh, and THAT’s not ominous.”

She paused a moment, before sighing slightly. “And I suppose I’m going to have to go and open it? Right, because right, nothing suspicious or anything about how you suddenly go quiet as soon as I enter the room.”

Still getting no response, she sighed, shifting her weapons back slightly and tightening her grip on her stake as she slowly, cautiously made her way towards it. Then, suddenly, the door swung open, wide as the vampire, his face twisted in madness, grabbed hold of her by the throat. Eyes gleaming gold, he grinned up at her hissing softly. “Now, now… why did you go into the dark of the woods, hmm?”

Ripping open the bag, he stared slightly down into the collection of weapons and stakes, before tossing them away with a laugh. “Oh, come to bring all these sweets to grandmother’s house?”

“Nah,” Buffy responded, grinning at the vampire slightly as she suddenly pushed a cross in his face, causing him to drop her and recoil for a moment. “I’m just playing Little Red Riding Hood, to get the Big Bad Wolf to come out to play.”

“Oooh, well here I am, Little Red.” The vampire grinned, eagerly back at the Slayer. “What’re you going to do, with no Woodsman here to help you on your way, hmmm?”

“Screw the woodsman.” Buffy shot back, before she stepped to the side to reveal the dark haired Slayer standing behind her, crossbow leveled at the vampire. “I’ve got Faith.”

“And Faith’s got you.” As the vampire’s eyes widened in shock, the wooden bolt pierced his chest, and he dissolved into a pile of dust.

“Faith’s got you?” Buffy, arched a brow at Faith and shook her head slightly. “Your quip-fu is weak, young grasshopper.”

“Hey, I leave that shit to you and X usually.” Faith protested, grumbling slightly as she shouldered the crossbow. “I just do my thang, enjoy a good tussle then head home.”

“Whatever you say, Faith, whatever you say.” Buffy shot back before picking up her own crossbow. “Let’s… go find my mom.”

“Right, I got your 6, B.” Faith agreed as she readied her crossbow.

-o-o-o-

Quentin Travers awoke to the sharp stench of smelling salts assaulting his nose as he jerked his head reflexively away from the stench. Blearily blinking his eyes he struggled to bring his hand up to his face, only to come to a rather disturbing realization. He was bound, tightly to a chair, the coarse rope digging into his flesh as his vision swam in disorientation.

“So, you’re the guy that almost got my mom killed.” That voice was familiar, tugging at the edges of his memory before he grasped hold of the memory with a sudden realization.

“Slayer Summers…”

“Watcher Travers.” The girl’s voice was cold and hard as she glared down at him, her arms crossed about her chest. “What you did, was very, very stupid.”

“I did mention that to him, but he didn’t seem to believe me.” The voice of Rupert Giles spoke up from somewhere Travers couldn’t see, though that didn’t stop him from sending a slight glare in the general direction he thought it came from.

“The Cruciamentum is a time honored and necessary…” Travers began to speak, only to be silenced by a cold, hard glare burning down into him from the petite young woman.

“Necessary?” A new voice was drawling out, somewhere in the darkness, a cold, clipped European tone that drove down into the air. “Is that how you like to justify it? Do tell, how is it necessary to without warning, rob a Slayer of her strength over what is supposed to apparently be a manner of days, subjecting her, and the very world itself to all manner of dangers she could be preventing?

The words paused, a heavy silence hanging in the air, before the voice would slowly continue. “How it is necessary, to destroy a Slayer’s trust in her watcher? The one person she’s supposed to rely on, and yet, you try to have them break that trust, and spring this little… test of yours on them?”

“A Slayer must be adaptive and cunning.” Travers snapped back, glaring lightly into the shadows even as he felt a trickle of worry drip down her spine. “Not reliant on her strength. The Cruciamentum tests that, and it has for thousands of years!”

For a moment, only silence reigned in the air, as Travers could see the building fury in Buffy’s eyes as she glared down at the man in front of her. “Thousands of years… you’ve been doing this to Slayers, girls who were forced into this, just like I was, for thousands of years?!”

“Ya know, B… I’m starting to like these guys less and less…” Faith’s voice added in as she shook her head and swayed her way into view. “I mean… seriously?”

“It does leave a little something to be desired, doesn’t it?” There was that European drawl again, sending a frown across Travers’ lips as he tried to place it.

“Quite.” Giles spoke before sighing slightly. “Well, I’ve already given you my input into the matter.”

“Don’t worry, after we’ve finished with the Kalderesh…”

“You’re still planning to…?” Buffy spoke up, a brow arching visibly on the girl’s face.

“I’m sure they’ll understand.” The voice agreed casually. “They are Romani after all, they understand Vengeance must be sated.”

“Vengeance?” The word left Travers lips before he could stop it, as he could feel his eyes widening slowly in muted shock as he stared out into the dark.

“Yes, Mr. Travers.” The voice answered him, suddenly a hard, piercing thing. “Vengeance. I’m sure you’re aware of the word’s definition, so I find there is little reason to repeat it.” Pausing a moment, there was a heavy silence to the air, before the voice would continue with a cool, sharp menace that sent a shiver down his spine. “Through their arrogance, they cost the life of one of their own. When one turns ones back on those that they are supposed to protect, there is reason for Ire… When their actions and inactions lead to pain, there is cause for Wrath…”

There was a dark, heavier pause then, before the voice would continue as Quentin Travers felt himself caught under the brunt of a sensation he’d not felt in a long, long time. The stare, so commonly dubbed the “Thousand Yard Stare.” A stare he could feel without even having to see it as the voice continued, “And when their actions and inactions lead to death, there is cause for Vengeance.”

For a moment, the voice let those words drip down into the Watcher’s mind before it casually continued with a burning contempt pulsing through it. “And then, that brings us to you, and your Council.”

A cold pit of dread pulsed in the depths of the man’s stomach, as suddenly Rupert Giles’ words rushed to the forefront of his mind in a grim realization. “… You’re the one, the one Rupert was trying to warn us about.”

“Really now, Giles? Spoiling the surprise?” A slight clucking sound could be heard as the voice seemed almost… amused.

“Well, I WAS trying to prevent this stupidity from ever happening you know.” The dry response rippled back through the air, before the man continued. “Then the bloody ponce had me tasered.” He paused a moment before continuing in a voice with a much sharper edge. “Oh, and as I discovered when I attempted to contact the Council to inform them of the… course of events, had me fired as well.”

“Oh, this does get better, and better, doesn’t it?” The drawl could be heard again, coldly washing through the air as the disdain dripped audibly from it. “It would seem you’re Watcherless again, Buffy, Faith.”

“Eh, hey, G?” Faith’s voice rang out with a note of amusement. “I seem to have a vacancy in the Watcher department, you have a resume you could send me?”

“Well, Faith, are you certain you can afford my services?” One could practically hear the way Giles' brow arched up in response. “I do believe I am now the sole experienced, non-Council affiliated, Watcher.” He paused a moment, before continuing. “Unless of course you'd care to go WITH a Council affiliated one?”

“After meeting this guy? Hell no!” Faith shot back, before glancing over at Buffy. “Hmm... Hey, B?”

“No, I'm not giving you a loan to pay for Giles.” Buffy stated flatly.

“Was more wondering if you could talk your Mom into... ya know?”

“I am NOT pimping my mom out to pay for Giles!” Buffy's voice was filled with complete and utter outrage, before she continued. “Mainly, because I didn't think of that to begin with, and I don't want to be accused of copying you.”

“Was more kinda wondering if you could convince her to do the opposite actually.” The wicked grin was dripping in Faith's words as she slowly drawled out. “You know... holding back some?”

“THAT'S BLOODY EXTORTION!”

“Faith.” The unknown male voice drawled out in a slow quiet voice. “Save the negotiations for later, thank you.”

“The Council will not allow any interference with the new Watcher assigned to the Slayers.” Travers spoke up, his voice slightly boisterous as he glared, mildly in defiance.

“My, he doesn't learn very well does he?” The voice's attention was obviously back on Travers as the words slowly hissed past his lips. “What you seem to fail to understand, Watcher, is that your Council has no say in this matter. Your Council lost any right it might have had in what the Slayers choose to do.”

Suddenly, any neutrality in that voice dropped into a frigid expulsion of breath as the words lashed out with a cold, burning whisper. “What you have done, Watcher, is betray the very girls you should be helping in every way you possibly could.”

“The Slayers are the tools of the Council.” Travers responded coolly as he glared out towards the figure he couldn't see. “As they have since the Council has existed.”

“You just don’t get it, do you?” The voice burned now as the words hissed past unseen lips and rippled through the air. “While you stand back, cowering in the shadows giving your orders with your smug self righteousness, they’re out there, fighting, dying, and you simply don’t care do you?”

The words were burning past his lips now, his eyes stabbing like spears into the man from wherever they were in the room. “And you’ve summed up your thoughts on them… and it leaves me utterly, and completely disgusted. Tools? Disposable, expendable tools?”

Quentin Travers’ scream lit up the air as the brutal force of something he couldn’t see, shattered his knee in a sudden, savage force, before the voice continued. “You are not serving some greater good, you are not protecting humanity… you’re preserving nothing but your own, selfish interests.”

The voice, was suddenly there, against his ear, the voice a hot, burning thing as it hissed against his skin. “You have earned Wrath already, Travers. You have experienced the first taste of it, but do not fool yourself into believing you have escaped the full extent of it being leveled against you.” A pause, there, before the voice continued, a cold, haunting thing that drove itself into the depths of the man’s mind. “And pray, you never call down my Vengeance upon you, Travers… It will not be short, and it will not be painless.”

And then, Quentin Traver’s world exploded in a spike of pain, before fading into the sweet bliss of oblivion and darkness.

“Jesus.” Faith let out a slow breath of appreciation as she stared at cold stare Xander continued to level at the now unconscious Watcher. “I know they told me you could be scary, but damn, X-man… I about need a new pair of panties here!”

“Ew, Faith? Too much information.” Buffy wrinkled her nose and shook her head as she glared down at Travers as she addressed Giles. “Are you sure we can’t send him back in that crate they shipped the vampire over here in?”

For a moment, Giles seemed torn, temptation written on his face as he pursed his lips, then opened his mouth as if to respond, before shutting it again with an audible click. Finally, with a sigh of resignation he shook his head. “As much as I would applaud doing otherwise… At this point in time, we do not need to antagonize the Council too much.”

“G, X just shattered the guy’s kneecap, that’s pretty antagonizing as is.” Faith pointed out before glancing over at where Xander was lightly thumbing at the head of a mace. “No offense, Xander.”

“None taken.” Xander responded as his voice slipped in the cool detachment it occasionally took. “What we’ve done is the equivalent to slapping their hands for being caught with their hand in the cookie jar. If we did anything more… drastic, the Council as a whole would be far more likely to take offense as it were.”

He paused a moment before glancing towards Giles. “Pissing off two Slayers into wanting nothing to do with the Council is likely to hurt his position, yes?”

“Considering its never happened before?” Giles chuckled slightly. “I’d say rather so.”

“Good.” Xander stated casually. “Let’s get him back to the Arms then, shall we? I’m sure he’ll have a lovely time finding his way back out from there, don’t you agree?”

“Can I put him in the crate?” Buffy asked hopefully. “Please?”

“I suppose… “ Was the only answer Giles offered, though a flash of amusement could be seen in his eyes.

-o-o-o-

“Ugh, now you just had to go and ruin my dress by bleeding on it, didn’t you?” The blonde figure known as Glory glared down at the monk coughing wetly beneath her, heel driven down into his stomach where a pool of blood was slowly welling up. “So, I’m going to ask, one more time, where is my KEY!?”

“Gone.” Bloody lips curled back into a smirk as the man stared up at the creature atop him, triumph dancing in his dying eyes. “Sent away, to protect it from you.”

“Ugh, blah blah blah, can’t you insects STOP trying to annoy me already?” Growling just slightly she shook her head. “And you’re not going to tell me where, are you? There’s no fear in you, only acceptance.”

“I have done my duty.” The monk spat back as the smile never left his lips. “New protectors have been chosen, where you won’t find them in time.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Glory responded with a sarcastic roll of her eyes before looking down at the man. “Well, one last thing then…”

And with that the woman forced her fingers into the man’s skull and let a smile of satisfaction curl on her lips as his screams began to fill the air.

As the monk screamed, a lone figure was frantically running from the monk’s sanctuary. A single figure, who, with panicked, fearful eyes ran on while casting his gaze back over his shoulder in terror. A figure who was followed by the steady aim of a crossbow.

“No.” A hand fell down on the weapon, aiming it towards the earth as a hideous, greasy haired demon shook his head, smirking back at similar creature wielding the crossbow. “This one will be more useful alive, leading us to where they sent our Master’s Key.”

-o-o-o-

“Ugh, I am so glad that’s over.” Buffy sighed slightly as she slid down into a chair and struggled to twist the lid off of a jar of peanut butter. “And when this stupid stuff wears off and I’m not so weak anymore.”

“Well, you could always ask Xander to help you with it.” A 14 year old girl snarked next to her as she settled back into her own seat. “I mean, I’m shocked you’re not milking this for all its worth!”

“Dawn…” Buffy said warningly as she sent a glare at the girl. “Remember, I might not have Slayer strength now, but you’ll still be the same, annoying little sister you are now, living in the same place, in the same room, sleeping on the same bed, which I know exactly where to find, when I get it back.”

“Moooom! Buffy’s threatening me!” The girl’s voice lifted out, rippling through the air as she pouted visibly.

“Then stop antagonizing her!” Joyce’s voice could be heard snapping back with a hint of amusement.

“It’s no fair.” Dawn huffed slightly and crossed her arms about her chest, glaring at her sister.

“Welcome to life kid. Welcome to life.”
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