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Agents of Grey

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

Summary: Follow up to "A Walk On the Hellmouth". Xander continues to try and make his way in the world. A simple missing persons case leads to more trouble than it's worth, however, and more dangers than anyone should face in one lifetime.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Fantasy > Author: Simon GreenthegoodfightFR18748,4657158,11516 Mar 1018 Mar 10No

Chapter 2

The kettle whistled letting him know that the water had boiled. It had been whistling for almost ten minutes and whatever boiled water was left in it wouldn't be enough for a cup of tea. Rupert Giles didn't care about any of that at the moment, though. He was so wrapped up in the letter he was reading that everything else had been blocked out of his senses. The small office inside of the school library he sat in could have caught on fire and he still might have missed it. No, that was a lie. He wouldn't have missed that happening if only so that he could make sure that he got all of his research material out of their in one piece.

He stopped reading when he reached the end and, for the fifth time in a row, started again from the beginning. It was a very long letter, to be honest, and one that had taken him months to get. All of his contacts had been tapped in order for the pieces of paper in his hand to get to him and he would be the first to admit that he was getting a bit obsessive with it. But who wouldn't? After all of these years, after so many sleepless nights, he was so close to being able to rest. To put her to rest.

After starting the second paragraph he was startled by the papers being snatched out of his hands. He nearly toppled over the chair he was in and would have had it not been for the quick reflexes of Buffy Summers. It seemed only fair that she caught him since she had grabbed the papers from him in the first place.

"Buffy," Giles said after collecting himself. "I didn't hear you come in."

"Not surprised. I think your tea pots burned, by the way," she told him, placing the pages down on his desk.

Before the papers could settle, Giles scoped them up and moved past Buffy into the main part of the library, turning the hotplate off on his way out. "Yes, well, I think I'll manage somehow."

"Those have anything to do with your super secret research project?" Buffy asked.

Opening up the book cage, Giles replied, "Yes, actually it does."

Buffy watched Giles as he proceeded to unlock a special filing cabinet that he had brought in a few months ago. It was small and as far as she knew, it was filled only with things that concerned this project of his. What it was, she hadn't a clue since he refused to talk about it with her.

Not bothering to ask and either get turned down yet again and possibly make him even tenser Buffy sighed and let it drop. "Patrol was pretty standard last night. Just two vamps this time. No one got hurt. You know, except the vampires. But if you asking me, they deserved it."

"Uh huh."

"Willow and Oz tagged along. He's taken to the whole undead and evil running about a lot easier than I thought," Buffy mused, watching to see if she got a response from her Watcher.

"Yes, right," he mumbled.

"And afterwards we hung around in the back of his van and had a Roman orgy with Mr. Magoo."

"Of course-wait, what?" Giles said, snapping out of his thoughts.

Letting another sigh escape her lips, the small blonde hopped up onto one of the tables and looked at Giles. "Alright, I get it. You're all wrapped up in whatever it is your doing but Giles. You have to snap out of it. Even Ms. Calendars starting to worry about it and as much as I refuse to acknowledge that you two have any sort of social life, I have to say that you're going to blow it. After that whole mess with the Judge I would think that you two would start being more careful."

Locking the cabinet and the book cage, Giles turned to Buffy fully intent on telling her to mind her own business. However, the look she was giving him wasn't that of the Slayer but rather of the young woman he cared for personally, as a daughter if he was honest with himself. Reigning in his initial anger, he said, "Thank you, Buffy. I'll take it under advisement."

"Is that stuffy British guy talk for you'll start acting like yourself again?"

Smiling despite himself, Giles nodded. "I believe I may have found the answers I was looking for anyway. I just need to confirm it with a source and…and I can put the whole thing behind me."

"Anything you need help with?"

"No, no. The, uh, man I need to speak with is actually here, in town," Giles said, getting somewhat nervous. "I don't believe it will be too hard getting him to speak with me."

"Cool," Buffy said, sliding off the table. "I'll be by later for training and then me and Willow are going to head out for some much needed girl time before patrol."

"Of course," nodding as his charge left for class.

Once gone, Giles quickly unlocked the book cage again and headed for the filing cabinet. The information stored in it wasn't something that he felt could be left around where any prying eyes, namely Buffy and Willow, could see. Some of it was too personal while the rest of it dealt with a subject matter that was best left alone. After all, the two of them had just started to fully recover from everything that had taken place last Halloween and the subsequent weeks following it. If they found out that he not only was looking into where Xander was but that he was also looking into the man that the boy had turned into that night, it would not go over well.

It wasn't as if he felt that he should keep these things from them but considering why he was looking into all of it he could hardly be blamed for wanting to keep it to himself. He didn't agree with Xander's choices by any means but they were his choices. He could respect that at least were the girls could not. At this point, they would probably try to 'talk some sense' into Xander's head never understanding the hardships that he had endured. The young man had seen the dark side of life and came out through the other side. He was changed and again, while Giles may not agree with him, he understood it. The boy had to be allowed to make his own way in the world as he saw fit. Though if the young man ever did anything that hurt his charges, he wouldn't hesitate to take him down when the time came.

But, he needed answers now. He needed to confirm that not only that the…thing dead, but that its worshipers had been released as well. Everything he had found seemed to say that the monstrosity had been dealt with by John Taylor but a few said otherwise, that it was still thriving out there in the world. Contacting Taylor was out of the question since no one he knew would even try even if they knew how. Instead they tried to reach out to someone who seemed to have a relationship with it but that had proved useless. Apparently she was dead as well. John Taylors name had popped up again when it came to the woman's death.

His only choice was to speak to Xander, to ask him what had happened, what had truly happened. He didn't care if Xander spat on him for how they treated him after his ordeal so long as he got the truth. He would go to any means to get the information, pay any price and if it turned out that they had all been misled, that the…thing was still alive, well, then he would deal with it himself. You do those sorts of things for family, after all, for your sister.

BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK

The last rays of sunshine shone brightly causing Xander to squint as he walked the streets heading towards Willie's Place. Sunlight was still something that bothered him and even though his body was more than used to it, his mind wasn't. If he could help it, he never went out during the day. Even though he felt more comfortable at night his reasons were entirely practical. For starters, most of his clientele came out at night and he had learned to adapt his body to those hours. It didn't make any sense for him to move about in the daytime since he was going to spend most of the night awake as well. Granted he still didn't sleep too well, but he was getting better and those few hours he got were sorely needed.

But the main reason he stayed away from the sunlight was that it was harder to move around during those hours. Too many bright places and not nearly enough shadows. Plus, with this being Sunnydale and all, more people stayed in during the night for obvious reasons. That meant that they spent as much time as they could walking around when it wasn't night and the streets got crowded for a little town. It was easy to be spotted by people he would rather avoid unless it was absolutely necessary and with classes having just let out for the day, he knew that it was going to be harder to do.

Ducking down each and every alley way he could, Xander managed to get to Willie's with spotting only the occasional face but made sure he wasn't seen. It had taken longer than he would have liked but it was worth it in his opinion. It would just be too awkward, not to mention complicated, if he accidently bumped into anyone that he actually knew.

Christ. He could just imagine walking into Buffy or Willow. Now that scared him. Either one of them would probably try and beat him to a pulp on the spot. Oddly enough, he was more frightened of Willow at this point than Buffy. Buffy may be the Slayer and strong as hell but Willow, well, there just wasn't a way for him to lift a finger to defend himself against her even with the ways he had changed. Besides, he was fairly certain that his former best friend was going to be a heavy hitter with the magic if she ever took it up. The few times he had been around her after getting John's abilities he had sensed an aura of power just at the edge of his senses. When he felt around a bit more he could see it coming from the red head and it pulsed with energy. It was only faint because it was untapped but she had the ability to become something fierce.

Xander walked into Willie's Place and did a quick scan of the place as he made his way to the bar. It was surprisingly full for this time of day. In the far corner a few yellow skinned reptilian like demons were talking loudly. At least Xander thought they were talking. It wasn't any language he had ever heard before and with all the hissing involved they could just as well be singing the national anthem as talking about how best to cook human kidneys.

Other than that group, it was the usual crowd that was milling about. A few different breeds of basically harmless demons and creatures. Most of the patrons that came into Willie's Place now tended to be either passive or borderline nasty. The really evil things had learned to find other places to get together since Xander started using this place as his hangout. If anything it had actually improved business for the place. Now if fights broke out it was your typical, albeit demonic, barroom brawl. It could still get out of hand but no one that came in here did so looking for a fight. It still happened, but only rarely. Case in point, the three vampires that suddenly started eyeing him from the other end of the bar. He'd let them make the first move though, if they did anything at all.

Coming up to Xander with an annoyed look on his face, Willie shook his head. The guy was originally from New York, something that was hard to miss the moment he opened his mouth. He was a bit on the shorter side, his hair beginning to thin slightly. Unlike Alex Morrissey, owner and operator of Strangefellows, the oldest bar in the Nightside if not the world, and a friend of John's, Willie was generally an upbeat person when you got to know him. Sure, he was always looking for an angle and dealt in some questionable business ventures but that was who he was. Besides, it was those very dealings that Xander was here. But first he had to hear Willie go off about whatever it was that was bothering him this time. It seemed that it was in the bartender handbook to be disgruntled.

"Hey there Willie," Xander says putting on his best smile. "How's my favorite bartender?"

Willie stopped what he was doing and stared at him for a moment before snorting. "How am I doin'? Kid, how does it look like I'm doin'? It's barely five and the place is packed. In fact, it's been packed for the past two hours and I'm workin' myself to the bone just to get the drinks out before a fight breaks out just so these guys can get drunk enough to start a fight later on. So go on, ask me how I'm doin' again!"

Still grinning, Xander leaned in closer to Willie. "Well, if that's what's bothering you then I've got just the thing to make your night."

"Is that so? Cause unless it's some sort of help for the night then I'm thinkin' it's just something you want me to pawn off and in that case forget it, kid."

"You haven't even heard what it is yet!"

Shaking his head, Willie leaned closer to Xander. "Word is that something dangerous found its way into town and between you and me, I don't want to be anywhere near anyone who's looking to buy. I got a reputation in this town, kid, and it's not exactly a good one. I haven't kept myself alive this long by bein' stupid."

Dropping the smile, Xander started to get concerned. Willie had always been one to broker deals for anyone or anything no matter what the danger, provided that the pay off was good enough. If something was spooking him enough to get him to steer clear of the whole scene altogether then it was probably time to start gathering as much information as he could. Whatever was being brought onto the old Hellmouth might be something that would require Angel to send a message to Buffy and the rest of them or he might have to step in himself. It wouldn't be the first time he had helped the Scooby Gang from the shadows.

"Willie, level with me. What's being brought in?"

Trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, Willie eyed the bar for anyone who may be listening in before whispering something so softly that Xander had to ask him to repeat it. "A Thul Pointing Bone," he whispered again.

"What?!?"

"Shhh! Will keep your voice down, Harris?" Willie hissed. "I'm trying to avoid an all out fight. Just mentioning the damn thing seems to set people off."

Swallowing hard, Xander felt his hands grow sweaty. He had the Thul Pointing Bone in his coats pocket and while he was confident in himself it was only to a point. He couldn't take the karaoke bar full of demons and he couldn't do the same thing here. Well, that wasn't entirely true but he still wasn't embracing all of what John could do. Also he didn't feel like taking out the building itself just to make it out alive when simply playing it cool would work.

Coughing softly, Xander felt his voice crack just slightly as he started to talk again. "So, um, someone's brought that...thing to Sunnydale, huh?"

Willie didn't miss the change in body language. Give the man his credit, he ran a bar were the wrong click of a tongue could start a clan fight. If he didn't take notice of these things he wouldn't be here. "Yea, Harris. Someone did," he said slowly. "That someone is looking to be the biggest target in this town since the Slayer made her way here."

'Crap,' Xander thought. "So, any word on who might have done it?"

Shaking his head slightly, Willie answered, "Nope. Word is that it was from someone in L.A. who made a grab for it and is tryin' to bring it here. I'm thinking that whenever he gets here it's only a matter of time before the demons and the like that are following him show up as well. Add them to the usual types this town attracts and I don't really feel like bein' in this guys shoes, ya know?"

'Double crap,' Xander thought, trying to not go pale at the information. "Hmmm...something to think about, Willie. Alright, I'll let you deal with the riff raft then."

As Xander turned and headed for the door, Willie called out to him. "Hey, kid! Take care of yourself, alright?"

Nodding and giving him a smirk that didn't have any feeling in it, Xander left and was once again greeted by the last few rays of the setting sun. It will keep the vampires inside away from him but they where the least of his troubles.

Lilah, the bitch that she was, must have put the word out about the Thul Bone and now every damn demon that wanted to either use it or sell it would be well on their way to Sunnydale to get it. The target on his forehead suddenly felt bigger and it took everything in him not to just strike out at the nearest person walking on the street. No, he didn't have time to simply get angry, he needed to plan.

He needed to get rid of the damn thing, that was for sure but more than that he needed to throw the trail to somewhere much less crowded. Even with the blanket of ignorance that the town slept under no one would be able to ignore the kind of violence that the demons that would be coming to look for this thing would cause. Most of them where content to stay in the shadows but they still held to certain beliefs and would have no problem tearing through the town just to get the Bone. Too many people would be hurt and dead if that happened and even more if any of them actually did get their hands on it depending on what they wanted to do with it. Either way he needed to do something about it. It was his fault that this was even happening, well technically it was his and Lilah's fault. If she had just paid him...

Screw it. He couldn't go to any of his normal sources. At best they would kick him out and maybe even use his name as leverage to keep themselves safe, at worse they would kill him outright and use the Bone themselves. Not being able to trust most of the people you deal with was one of the downside's to the business he was in. It was time to stop screwing around. The clock was ticking and he knew who he had to go and see. It was a long shot to get him to help him at first but once he knew what was at stake there wasn't a doubt in his mind he wouldn't do what he could. Getting him to listen, however, was going to be a problem.

***********

It had only been months but it felt like years since the last time he had been inside of Sunnydale High School. He had outgrown the place and all of little bits of high school melodrama seemed so much smaller and insignificant than they had before. Before when he would walk its halls everything seemed lively, big, and important. Now all he felt was the undercurrent of magic that the Hellmouth spewed out and the stillness of death that had nothing to do with the empty hallways. This was a place of evil and untapped dark magic. The very fact that someone had went ahead and built a High School over it was only poetic but it didn't add to the energy in the air like he had once thought. It could have been a vet's office that had set up shop here and things still would have shaped up the same.

Xander had waited till well after nightfall before coming to the school. The light had been on in the library and when Xander peered through the raised window he didn't see anyone inside but the lights in Giles small office were on. If he was timing it right, Buffy should be out on patrol and barring any kind of major evil going on, which Xander hadn't heard anything about, then Willow shouldn't be there either. There was always a risk of Jenny being there, the two had seemed to be well on the road to developing some kind of relationship last he had seen, but he had to risk it. If anything she would only be an asset in helping him work out a way to get rid of this thing.

As softly as he could, Xander pushed the door to the library open and simply stood for a moment. Memories that seemed like long ago to him, and they were anyway, rushed back to him. None of them were particularly good but some stood out more than others. Late night study or research sessions that actually where enjoyable and fun, so long as you didn't count the fact that they were researching demons. Of course there were the non-evil and world ending memories that came to mind but those that did were few and far between. One of the side effects of being in someone else's head for near thirty years was that your own life was sometimes hard to remember, especially the not so vivid parts. It was one of these little things that no one seemed to realize that had pushed him away from all of them as well as the more obvious ones.

Shaking the thoughts from his head, Xander walked over to the librarian's office door and peered in the window. Giles was looking a bit more ragged around the edges then he had ever seen him before. His hair was sticking up in places as if he had been running his hand though it over and over again. The clothes he wore were just as bad, the amount of wrinkles making it look as if he had slept in them. But even worse were the man's eyes. They simply look tired. That bone weary tiredness that made a man look haunted. Xander considered letting him be and finding another way. It was only a brief moment, however, but in the end he still needed to do it.

Deciding for a bit of the dramatic, if only to have fun, Xander calmly leaned against one of the study tables and faced the office door. He waited for a good ten minutes, and was almost ready to start coughing loudly, before the older man went to leave his office. Giles probably would have missed him standing there with the way he seemed to be staring at the legal pad in his hand, his face the epitome of concentration. Though it seemed to work out better then Xander could have planned since when Giles did notice him the pad flew up into the air as the Watcher stumbled backwards.

Neither man said a word, only watching each other for a moment. Xander, with a casual half grin on his face and Giles with an almost comical wide eyed stare.

"Hey there, G-Man," Xander greeted trying his best to remain light. Xander dropped the small smirk and stood up. "I know that this isn't exactly the way I would have liked to see you again but I kind of need your help."

Instantly Giles changed. He was no longer the slightly awkward and completely knowledgeable librarian Xander had known him to be. His face grew cold, his eyes hard and he stood taller, tenser. It was as if his mind and body language pulled a one-eighty. No, this wasn't Giles any more. This was Ripper, the person that Giles used to be back in his younger days.

"Why are you here?" Giles asked. It wasn't really the question though. The words may have said that but his tone had a different message in mind. Mainly, 'What the hell do you want and if it's not good I will make you pay.'

At one point, Xander would have been scared. He had no doubt that Giles would try to make good on the veiled threat, but if it came down to it, Xander wouldn't hesitate to do something violent and permanent to the man.

"Like I said, I need your help. There's something in town and it's going to make things a bit too messy, even by our standards," Xander told him steadily. "A Thul Pointing Bone, ever hear of it?"

If seeing Xander had flipped Giles to the Ripper then mentioning the Bone sent him right back to the other side. His face paled slightly and his eyes lost the violent edge, gaining instead the look they held before with a hint of fear. "Th-the, uh, Thul Bone? Are you sure?"

Digging into his pocket, Xander produced the small bag that held the object. "Yea, pretty sure."

"Dear Lord," Giles moved a step back. "Is that...?"

"Yea. And we have maybe a day or so to not only get rid of this thing but also get every demon, warlock and witch to know that it's no longer here. No one I know will touch it and if something isn't done about it then this place will be overrun with all sorts of nasties that won't play nice."

"What in the hell were you thinking?" Giles hissed. "Do you have any idea what bringing something like that here could do, how much power it has?"

"Why do you think I'm looking to get rid of the damn thing?"

His composure returned and Giles was once again steely eyed and angry. "Don't you dare. Don't you dare attempt to be glib with me, not after everything that has happened. You come here after being gone for months and look for my assistance as if nothing has changed, as if nothing had happened?"

"We don't have time for this," Xander told him, ignoring his comments. "There isn't a whole lot of time and I need to figure out how to do this. If you want to play at being angry and hurt because I took off then fine but do it after this is done with. Either help or I'm doing it on my own. But I can promise you that if I do it on my own then it won't end nearly as clean as any of us would like."

It took Giles a moment to get himself under control enough to speak and when he did it came out in harsh, snapping tones. "Fine. What exactly do you have planned?"

"That's kind of the thing. The plan I have isn't exactly a sure fire way to be rid of it. I was hoping that maybe you knew of something else, maybe some way to simply make the damn thing disappear off the face of the Earth."

"No," Giles told him shaking his head. "The Thull Bone is impervious to any sort of relocation spell. You might as well just stand in the middle of town and throw the thing as far as you could for all the good it would do. What about your, um, your 'gift'? Couldn't you simply make it worthless? Destroy the ambient magic that it holds?"

This time Xander shook his head. "Already thought of it. This thing doesn't even come up on my radar as being mystical. My guess is that it doesn't even begin to warm up without some kind of Word of Power. Those sorts of things are always a letdown. They always seem to run out of juice right when you need them the most."

"Right, uh, of course," Giles responded, though clearly not understanding fully. "Even if we got rid of the blasted thing how are we to stop all of it's would be possessors from searching for it here?"

"Well, what I had in mind might just do it but the problem is I can't do it on my own. I don't even know if it would work or not. My first idea is that if we can put back up the spells that where keeping it hidden, it might just do the job for us."

"Enchantments? Of course! Breaking th-th-those spells must have sent out some sort of a signal alerting everyone to its location. It didn't just keep it hidden and protected it actively kept people from finding it the damn thing!"

"I thought you said that the Bone couldn't be hidden like that?"

"That's what they say," Giles told him. "But without knowing any of the specifics, I can't say for sure what it was the spell did. Th-there is a chance that the magic of the spell was either highly powerful or designed specifically for the Bone. But if breaking the spell caused everyone to notice it, then it's safe to say that it was hiding it."

"That would make sense." Xander eyed the wall for a moment. There wasn't any need to correct him or let him know about Wolfram and Hart putting the word out as well. It would only lead to more problems down the line and he was taking a strictly 'one thing at a time' approach.

"Where did you find it?"

"Right here in Sunnydale. Where else would they hide something like this than on the Hellmouth?"

Shaking his head, Giles started walking into the office. "I-if that's the case then simply putting it back and reactivating the spells should be enough to stop them from trying to locate it. It had been here for years without anyone finding it so in theory, it should work."

"And if that doesn't work, then I move on to my next plan."

"What exactly would that be?" Giles asked, shrugging on his tweed jacket, holding a leather bag in his hand.

Instead of an answer, Xander grinned slightly, shoving his hands in his coat pockets. Again, there wasn't any need to alarm Giles with what he was willing to do to keep the Bone out of the wrong hands. It was probably safer if he didn't know anyway.

*************

It took only fifteen minutes for them to get started on their way to one of the many cemeteries that littered Sunnydale. They would have left earlier but Giles had to make a call. While Giles might have been proficient enough to do the rites and rituals himself, he felt that having Jenny meet them there to assist would be helpful. If Xander was honest with himself, he would probably assume that it was also so that way he could have backup in case something happened. Xander wasn't exactly trusted by them anymore and he was amazing that Giles hadn't called Buffy instead. Then again, Buffy didn't know how to bless a room let alone the complicated spells that where going to be used tonight.

After coxing Giles car to start they were off. The silence was uncomfortable and the air was heavy between them but neither seemed prepared to make the first move. Hell, Xander was content to stare out the window the whole time and walk off into the night to drink himself silly after this was done. That was of course if everything went down smoothly. If not, then his night was going to be pretty busy.

Ten minutes into the car ride, Giles finally spoke. "You nearly broke them, leaving like you did. I hope you realize that."

"They got over it. Buffy's a big girl, Giles," Xander sighed.

"And Willow? I suppose that you felt that she was more than able to deal with taking off? I understand that you were going through a hard time but of all the selfish things you could do…"

"Selfish? They made it perfectly clear that they couldn't deal with me after everything happened." Xander turned towards Giles. "I know what fear looks like, Giles. I saw it in their eyes once they realized what it is I can do. What I'm capable of."

"They're children, Xander! Of course they're going to be fearful of what they saw you do, of the things you've done," Giles seethed, gripping the wheel tight. "If you had once thought about explaining yourself to them, perhaps apologizing for what happened-"

Snorting, Xander rolled his eyes and turned back to the window. "Yea, I can see how well that would have gone. 'Well, sorry that Kendra died everyone. Hey, who's up for going out to the movies?' Yep, that would have worked."

It looked as if Giles was ready to explode but he managed to keep his anger reigned in. It took every ounce of will power the man had not to start yelling but he stayed quiet. Xander knew that Giles had a temper that was as hard as steel and twice as deadly, it was something that he had kept from them but Xander had seen peeks of it here and there. That Ripper persona that dwelled just below the surface waiting to be released. It couldn't be their current business that was making him hold his tongue, they could yell and argue all they wanted as long as they got the rituals done and stopped the incoming demons and destruction. It made him wonder what Giles reasoning for holding back was. If anything, it only made Xander more cautious around him. But that was something that he was used to feeling around people now.

At this point, Xander felt that he owed it to Giles to see what it was he was after. Well, that and he was already too tired to play wait for the other shoe to drop.

"Alright, come on. What is it?"

"What is what, exactly?" Giles asked turning a corner.

"Giles, come on. You would have torn into me the moment I stepped into the library but you didn't. You've been holding back since I came to you and the only thing I can gather is that there's something that you're not telling me. What is it? Is it something with Willow? Buffy?"

Before Giles could respond, he had already pulled into a spot next to the cemeteries front gates. Without saying a word, he climbed out of the car and soundly closed the door. Xander sighed and did the same, coming up beside Giles just as he finished getting a small duffel bag out of his trunk. It looked as if Giles was about to say something but was cut off as a set of high beams flicked on and off, which was Jenny signaling. Nodding their heads in recognition, Giles and Xander waited for her to get out and come over.

In his pre-Halloween days, Xander had many fantasies that had included the Wiccan computer teacher. It was hard not to when you were a hormonal teen and one of your teachers looked like she did. However, with years of experience and dealing with women that were sometimes literal Goddesses he was now able to control his brain despite his other wants. She was still as good looking as he remembered but he merely appreciated it and left it as that instead of stealing glances like he would have done before.

Jenny regarded Xander with a thoughtful look as she made her way to the other side of Giles, giving the Watcher a chaste kiss on the cheek in greeting. Inside, Xander was happy to see that if nothing else, Giles had found some happiness, though he kept his face schooled.

"Miss Calendar," Xander said in way of greeting.

"Xander, it's...it's good to see you," she said hesitantly. The awkwardness of the situation making the usually outspoken woman lost for words.

"The sooner we start the sooner we can get this over with," Giles said. Not bothering to look at Xander, Giles led Jenny towards the gates.

Xander followed suite and took the lead after a few moments. He moved a good distance ahead of Giles and Jenny, giving them some small bit of privacy and him some breathing room. He couldn't make out what they were saying but could hear their whispered conversation which no doubt was about him given the harsh tone in Giles voice. Let him get it out of his system, it was better he did it now then when something happened. It was definitely a "when" situation and not an "if". Too many times he had assumed that things would go smoothly and over and over again he had been proven wrong. At this point, it was safest to assume that something was going to happen so he could be ready to deal with it.

Stopping, Xander held up his hand halting Giles and Jenny. He needed to make sure that they got the exact same spot so they could reinstate the spells that he had broken down before. It shouldn't be hard but they had to get the right place in order to do it, at least that's what Giles had said. So, very slowly, Xander began to open up his inner eye. He hadn't marked off the spot after taking the Bone but the residual magic should light up like a flare to him while using his gift. It wasn't pleasant to do so, no matter what the circumstances, but using it right in the middle of the cemetery was even worse. Spirits sprung up before him. Some were trapped in the same repetitive motions that they are doomed to do till the end of time while others he could see howling out in rage and frustration at their situations. All of them equally unaware of each other.

It wasn't only ghost that he could see. They may have been bad and in large numbers but the rest of the world behind the world most people saw was also laid out before him, even with his third eye open to such a small degree. Giant beings walked around blissfully ignorant to what was around them, going about their own private business. Powerful magic's flitted to and fro, sometimes crashing into one and other creating flashes of colors that weren't known to the human race and hurt his head to look at. Countless other things were there for Xander's eyes to see but he focused on the magic that he was looking for, ready to be brought back up and put to use. It was beyond his power to do so, tearing things down was always so much easier than putting them back together.

"There, over by that cluster of bushes," Xander said, pointing in the right direction after shutting down his gift and bringing back up his defenses. It was unnerving to see what he did and if he did it for too long he was sure he would lose his mind, provided he hadn't already.

The three of them moved over to where Xander had pointed. Almost instantly, Giles started preparing for the spell, setting up all the odds and ends that he needed. Luckily, they didn't need to know the specific spell to put it back together. If they worked it right, they magic should just heal itself, closing around the Bone and shrouding it once more.

Jenny stood off to the side watching with mild interest. Xander saw her steal glances at him once in a while and he had to stop himself from smirking. No doubt she had heard something from what had happened and was busy trying to work him out. Like everyone else, she was probably wondering what kind of game he was playing. What childish antics was Xander doing this time? Or maybe she was trying to piece together just how crazy he was because he couldn't possibly be doing all of this if he was sane.

Xander covered the distance between them in three steps coming to stand next to her. "So, how's the world of teaching computers?"

Jenny smirked though both of them caught Giles stiffen slightly. "Can't be more exciting than being a, what is it now? That's right, a private detective."

"It pays the bills...for the most part."

"Pays the bills? What kind of bills does a teenager have?"

"You'd be amazed at the kind of bills a teenager can run up," Xander said with a smirk of his own. His mind suddenly remembering several conversations he-no, not him, John-had with Cathy about that very thing. "But to be honest, I don't think many of them are able to hold their liquor as well as Cathy."

"What was that?" Jenny asked, giving him his full attention. "Who's Cathy?"

Thankful that the darkness hid his slight blush, Xander shook his head. "No one, just someone that I used to know."

"Was it a special someone?" she said playfully.

"What? No!" Xander practically yelled. "Cathy is...No! Just…no!"

"If you're quite finished I'm almost ready here." Giles stood up, wiping his hands on a cloth. "Jenny, if you would?"

Giles and Jenny went about the last minute preparations. When they were ready to begin, Xander placed the Thull Bone in the exact spot he had found it and buried it under a small mound of dirt. It was odd that no one had found before. After all, it wasn't as if it was well hidden physically. But that's why the spells were there. There could have been a big neon sign pointing to its location and no one would have figured it out with the magic over the thing. It was simple but elegant in nature, powerful really. It was probably why he hadn't had a hard time pulling it apart before and hopefully it would also help Giles and Jenny put it back together and hid the Bone again.

It took roughly thirty minutes of chanting, lighting candles and the usual before they got to the focal point of the spell. During the whole time, Xander busied himself with keeping watch and generally being bored. He wouldn't let his mind wander, knowing that he had to be on his guard. Anytime magic was at work on the Hellmouth it seemed to call forth any number of curious things that wanted to take a peek and, if they were so inclined, to throw a monkey wrench into the working. Not only that, but he wanted to be a safe distance away from mystical ground zero. No telling what would happen just because he was to be standing too close. He still didn't trust himself around any kind of working.

Finally, it seemed like they had finished. Giles stood up and helped Jenny to her own feet. "It should be working fine now. Care to take a look and give us your professional opinion?"

Ignoring the sarcasm in the Watchers voice, Xander took a few steps forward and prepared to open his inner eye again. Just before he did, a thought popped in his head. Knowing that it would get on Giles nerve a bit, Xander reached out and took Jenny's hand. The images he saw before came back to life but he made sure to focus only on the spell. There wasn't any reason to scare Jenny too much. The lights that he recognized as being the spell looked as if someone had lit thousands of sparklers of countless colors, some of which weren't meant to be seen by human's eyes and evoked frightening and wonderful emotions in his soul. Giving it a once over, Xander nodded and shut down his gift placing his mental shields up again for the second time that night.

"Everything seems to be in order to me. What do you think?" Xander asked turning to Jenny.

The techno-pagans face was paler then it had been before but there was a smile on her shocked face. Her hand fell limply to her side as Xander let go of it. Stumbling without his small bit of support, Jenny fell into Giles who had come over glaring at him. Xander knew it was a bit mean to do that without warning someone but he had wanted to get a small dig in at Giles not to mention impress Jenny, which by the look on her face, he had done. It was kind of an asshole move of him to do but he didn't dwell on it.

After Jenny found her footing, she looked back at the small mound of dirt that she knew the Bone had been placed in. "That was just…wow!"

"Jenny, are you alright?" Giles asked, still holding her up. "Was there really a need for that?"

Shrugging, Xander looked at the older man. "I felt it needed another set of eyes, just to be sure."

Before Giles had a chance to respond, Jenny looked over at Xander almost drunkenly. "What was that? How did you…?"

Flashing what he hoped was a comforting grin, Xander said, "Trade secret. Don't let it fool you though. It's not all pretty colors."

"Are we finished here?" Giles snapped. When Xander nodded, Giles continued. "Good because we need to have a conversation."

Letting no emotion show, Xander nodded again. "What about?"

"My sister."
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