Jake finally made it back to the motel where Sara, Alex and he were staying. He had hoped that they would be back, but they were still out somewhere.
The memory of the girl's body was still fresh in his mind and it still made him feel sick. The twisted psycho who had done these murders really needed to be caught and fast, before he could catch and murder anyone else. He vowed that he would be there when he was caught, so he could see him or her punished.
Giles was quite shocked at the details Alex had on the way Tars killed his victims. It was very disturbing and he could tell Buffy, Willow, Anya and Tara all hoped they wouldn't end up in this monster's hold. Even the female detective seemed to dread that possibility. He had found three books that mentioned Tars and the more they read them the more they feared this vamp.
"It says here, that he has been walking the earth since the early 1300's," Giles told them all.
"It says in this one that he was once a paid assassin for the local magistrate," Willow added.
"So it's safe to assume he knows how to handle himself," Buffy said.
"I've heard a few rumors, that he knows how to use magic as well and I mean dark magic," Alex spoke up, trying to keep his anger at bay.
"That's just great, guess we might have to call Angel and his team in," Buffy suggested.
Sara noticed the grimace on Alex's face at the slayer's suggestion. In fact she noted he seemed to grow even angrier. She noticed Tara look at Alex as well and she also seemed to sense the increase in his anger
"It would seem Alex was right, Tars does seem worse than Spike, Angelus and the Master put together," Giles said, as she sat down at the table.
"Maybe we should run away," Anya spoke up.
They could all tell that she was afraid.
"I don't think that would help much," Willow said.
"We can't run, this fight is supposed to happen," Alex told them all. "I had a vision that you would all die at the hands of Tars and some faceless man. That is what brought me back here, that is what convinced me to face my past," he added.
"I had a vision too, except in mine you were the one who died," Willow told him.
"Giles, why are they having visions? They're not the Slayer." Buffy asked.
"Not everything is about you Buffy," Alex stated hotly.
"That is very true," a new voice broke into the conversation. They all turned to find a man standing by the door with a smile.
Buffy recognized him instantly. "Whistler," she said.
"Nice to see you again Slayer, also good to see the full team back together," Whistler said in greeting.
Alex reacted instantly to Whistler's comment and Sara had expected nothing else.
"I am not part of this team, got it?" he said fiercely.
"Yes you are kid. You always will be no matter what happens. You're heart belongs here," Whistler told him. "And so does hers," he added, pointing to Sara, which surprised everyone.
"What do you mean?" Willow asked.
"Alex and Sara were destined to meet as it was destined Buffy would cause him to leave," Whistler answered, as he walked to the table and sat down, facing seven very confused people, including Alex and Sara. "Alex was meant to be cast out of the group, so he would find Nikki and be trained to fight and survive," he told them.
"Was it destined that she would die?" Alex demanded to know.
"No it wasn't. Those demons which killed her were sent by Tars to disrupt the balance. There was nothing we could do. Luckily you were not killed as well or it would have caused even more damage to the fight," Whistler answered.
"What about him and Sara being destined to meet? What did you mean by that?" Tara finally asked.
"It was destined that they would meet because she is the only person who can heal his heart and make him embrace the light once again. She is the only one who can make him see through the hate and the anger caused by him being cast out. In a sense she is the only one who could bring him back from the dead," Whistler explained to them all.
"Why was it necessary to make sure he would be cast out in the first place?" Buffy asked.
"Because he had to, it was his destined path just as you were destined to be the Slayer. He was destined to be a warrior of the light, side by side with Sara and Nikki," Whistler answered.
"But she is dead now, so how does that change things?" Alex asked, his anger and hate forgotten for now
"It doesn't really, but it does weaken your side. There is one who could take her place and restore the balance," Whistler told them.
"Who?" Giles asked, very interested in what they were learning.
"Tara," Whistler said simply.
"Me?" Tara asked shocked.
"Yes you. Do you think it was a coincidence that you never believed Buffy was right in her decision to leave Alex out of the fight or that you somehow had known that he was still alive once he vanished, or how do you knew that something dark was coming?" Whistler inquired.
"But why did Willow receive the vision instead of Tara?" Sara asked, trying to absorb the information she was receiving.
"We had no choice. Tars was using his magic to keep us from alerting Tara to the danger, so we had to chose Willow, as she would be the only other person to believe it," Whistler explained to them.
"So you're saying apart from one or two interruptions everything that has happened was meant to?" Alex asked slowly.
"Yes," Whistler nodded.
"Does this happen often around here, this destiny thing?" Sara asked.
"I'm afraid so," Giles said with a friendly smile.
"So what now?" Tara asked.
"I am going to help Alex train you and Sara everything he learned from Nikki. It is essential that you know everything he does. I will also help Giles and Willow find everything they can on Tars and counter spells to his dark spells," Whistler told them.
"What about Anya and me?" Buffy asked.
"I will teach you a few special defense moves that might come in handy, but one thing is for sure, keep off the streets until I say so. That means no patrolling," Whistler said very sternly.
"But that means Tars can freely kill any girl he gets his hands on," Sara said.
"I have hired a few warriors to keep the streets safe until we are ready. This is important, if one of you is captured it's over and the dark will win a huge victory," Whistler said.
"Very well, no one patrols at night," Giles said and the others all reluctantly agreed, including Alex and Sara.
Jake was surprised to see Alex and Sara walking back to the hotel hand in hand. He instantly guessed that somewhere along the way they had become lovers. He quickly hid his disappointment and jealously, as they came close to him. He quickly forced a smile onto his face.
"Hey Sara, Alex," he said with a nod of his head.
"Hey Jake, did you find anything new?" Sara replied.
"Yeah, we found a new body. It was the same MO as the others," Jake told them.
"Great," Alex fumed at the news.
"Were there any clues?" Sara asked.
"No, it was the same as the others. I have to say this one was even more mutilated than the others Sara," Jake responded.
"He knows we are onto him," Alex said quietly.
"Maybe or maybe he's just getting more perverted," Jake said, having heard what Alex had said.
"I guess we'd better have a look at your report," Sara sighed, as she led Alex into Jake's room.
Jake followed hoping she hadn't noticed the slight anger that he knew had been in his eyes.
Willow walked side by side with Tara, as they headed for their dorm rooms. Tara had been very quite since Whistler had told them she was the only one who could restore the balance between the light and the dark.
Then again she admitted silently to herself she would have been just as shocked, had Whistler said it was she instead. She was a little worried about how Tara would undertake this challenge and then her mind drifted back to Xander and his actions and attitude since his return.
She couldn't blame him for being angry and upset at what had transpired three years before, but the extent to which it had affected him sacred her.
Whistler's news that it was supposed to happen had calmed some of the anger and hate within her old friend, but she new deep inside it was still there. According to the balance demon only Sara could cure the hole in Xander's heart and restore the happiness and joy, which had once inhabited him.
She was pleased to see that already some sort of relationship had begun to happen between the beautiful female detective and her lost friend. It already seemed that she had some sort of hold on him and could rein in his anger and get him to focus on the problem at hand. She hoped that by the end of this that they could all put the past behind them and restore the group completely.
Buffy sat at the table in the Magic Box staring at the door. Giles was absently drinking some tea, whilst Anya counted the money in the till as she usually did. Xander's new attitude actually scared her. There was so much hate and anger inside him and she had caused it.
Except now it would seem that it was supposed to happen, according to Whistler, but that didn't make it hurt any less. She had lost a friend and killed all the joy inside him, because it was meant to happen. It gave her one more reason why she hated her role as the Slayer so much.
Sara lay on her bed with her head resting on Alex's bare chest, they had gone through the report Jake had written on the latest victim and it had just made them feel even angrier at this creature called Tars, but now they had to discuss what they had learned from Whistler and what they were going to do when they finally did face Tars. Before she could say anything Alex beat her to it.
"Not tonight Sara. I can't think straight," he told her earnestly. She nodded, leaned up to him and kissed him deeply. Soon all thoughts of talk vanished from their minds, as they joined once more in mind body and spirit.
Alex woke to find Sara watching him with a serine smile. He returned it and then kissed her softly on the lips, before sitting up. He noticed it was still dark outside and he could hear the darkness call. He should be out there now and hunt Tars, but he couldn't because Whistler had made him promise not to go out at night and that if one of them was caught it was over.
He didn't want to endanger any of them, even Buffy and so he curved his anger at not being out fighting the darkness and laid back down, as Sara put her head on his chest. He thought about what Whistler had told them about Sara and him being destined to meet and the fact that she was the one who would bring him back from the hell he had been living in, since Buffy had kicked him out of the gang.
Even now his anger at her for this was losing its intensity, because according to Whistler it had been destined to happen.
He felt Sara pull him closer and he looked down at her to see her close her eyes and begin to fall into a peaceful sleep.
He smiled and allowed sleep to claim him also, knowing the nightmares that had plagued him for three years would be diminished and that this time he may just get some rest.
Buffy kept an eye on the streets from her window, just in case any vamps were stupid enough to pass by her house. She didn't like being inside at night, whilst demons and vampires walked the streets, but she had no choice. She had to trust Whistler in his promise that it was important that none of them was caught. That thought sent a shiver right through her.
Knowing what Tars did to his victims was the most terrifying thing she had heard since becoming the Slayer. Hell even Angelus never went that far when he killed.
She wondered how Xander was doing dealing with what they had been told by Whistler. That her actions three years ago had been destined to happen, that it had to happen so they could stop Tars and so that he would meet Sara and that girl who taught him how to fight, Nikki.
Tara couldn't sleep due to the knowledge that she had to take the place of the girl who had taught Xander to survive to fight the forces of darkness, that only she could fill the gap left behind, when Tars had made sure Nikki had died.
As much as she knew, Tars believed it had been a victory. She believed it had been a mistake, because it had fuelled Xander's hatred and anger and had strengthened his spirit. It was obvious to her, that her death had a real effect on Xander, something that had hit him right to the core. It was possible he had loved Nikki as a friend, a lover and maybe even as a mother.
From what Willow had told her about Xander's parents, it was no surprise Xander was so reckless in his fight to help his friends and why he had been so devastated by Buffy's actions. His parents had never cared about him and the only people who did were his friends and they had betrayed him. No matter how much destiny had to do with it, the fact was Xander had been betrayed by the people he cared the most about and that hurt.
If Sara was indeed the person who could bring Xander back from the brink of self destruction, then she hoped it would happen during their battle with Tars. She knew no one but Xander's old self would manage to kill this demon, because at the moment Alex as he was still missed that vital push. Sara was the only hope they had, as together they would manage to win, but if there were still problems between them especially Buffy and Xander then they would fail.
Giles sat in his kitchen going over the books they had found on the vampire Tars. This time he paid more attention to what this vampire could do. He had found Tars had a vast knowledge of black magic and that made him an even more dangerous foe to fight. At the moment they had a long way to go, before they had a hope of defeating this monster.
"Impressive isn't it?" Whistler's voice startled him. He turned to find the balance demon standing near his door.
"Rather distressing actually," Giles replied.
"There are more problems to deal with, before you stand a chance of defeating Tars," Whistler told him, as he walked over and sat down in front of him.
"Such as?" Giles inquired.
"The rift between Buffy and Xander for starters," Whistler answered.
"I'm afraid there is not much I can do about that," Giles explained. "However thanks to your timely arrival things do seem more peaceful between them," he added.
"Maybe, but there is still too much anger between them, if they want a chance of beating Tars, they have to be a team like they used to be," Whistler told him.
"And do you have any suggestions how we get them like that?" Giles asked.
"That's up to you Watcher," Whistler said with a thin smile.
"What else is there a problem with?" Giles asked, somewhat irritated by Whistler's attitude.
"Willow and Tara are not too well trained in the dealings of black magic," Whistler replied. "You are. You're going to have to teach them everything you know and I mean everything," Whistler added.
Giles almost sank into his seat in surprise. He had never wanted the group to know his full history with black magic, his days with Ethan and just how much mayhem they caused. He had wanted to keep that secret.
"I know you don't like the idea much, but you have no choice if you want to win," Whistler told him.
"Is that it?" Giles asked, trying to hold back the building anger he felt.
"The rest lies sourly with Alex and Sara. It's up to Sara to heal him," Whistler said, before he got up and exited the house leaving a very confused and angry watcher behind.
Alex stood near the window as the sun rose. He looked to where Sara lay still sleeping and smiled. He could already feel some change within him. He didn't feel the same anger and hate cursing through him nor the blackness that usually clouded his heart. She had already begun to heal him. Maybe by the end of this he would once again be his old self and not the half dead soul who had been walking through the darkness for three long years.
He looked out across Sunnydale, his hometown, the place where had been born, where he had met and befriended Willow when they were three. Where he had first met Buffy and begun to fight the darkness, but it was still laced with dark memories, for this was the place where Jessie died, where Kendra died and where he had been destroyed and yet it could be the place where he was reborn in a sense, if Sara could pull Alexander back from the edge and heal his soul.
The question was did he want that, did he want to be Alexander Harris again? He looked at Sara's peaceful face and knew the answer in a moment. Yes he did. He wanted to be his old self again. He wanted his friends back and he would do everything necessary to help make it happen.
Sara secretly watched Alex, as he made his choice. She noted the small smile that played on his lips, as he looked at her and she knew something good had begun. She herself was very happy about the way things were going. She had found someone she loved totally and she knew, without a doubt, that he would give his life for hers in an instant.
This was why the Witchblade had not reacted to Alex's presence when they had first met, why it had not sensed any threat from him. Because destiny had meant for them to meet and fall in love and she had no doubt Alex loved her. She knew now what she had to do and she would make sure Alex and Alexander Harris became one once again.
Alex returned to their bed and lay down next to her. She quickly placed her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him and he placed his own around her as well.
"We'll make it Alex, we'll make sure of it," she whispered to him
"I know Sara, I love you," Alex replied and Sara smiled
"I love you too," she replied, before both once slipped into a peaceful sleep, neither noticing Whistler standing in the corner smiling smugly before he vanished.
Tars was angry, none of his followers had been able to find the Slayer or her friends. He had wanted to catch one of them and torture them, then rape and kill them.
Then he would have made sure he left the body where one of the others could find it. This would have demolished the Slayer and her band and made them angry and if they were angry, then they were more likely to make mistakes.
He had killed the hunter Nikki to tip the balance in his favor and now he wanted to tip it even more in his favor. He knew the boy was here, tracking him, but he wasn't likely to join the Slayer.
Tara sat and watched Willow sleep. Her dreams were somewhat more peaceful than they had been. Obviously having Xander back in Sunnydale and knowing he was alive was helping her greatly.
All they had to do now was heal the rift between them all and crush Tars, before he could kill any of them, then her thoughts drifted to Sara and the aura she had sensed around the woman.
She had lied about something before, because she hadn't trusted them and because Xander didn't trust them yet, but she knew there had to be complete trust between them all, if they stood a chance in hell of winning.