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Mithras Chronicles

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Summary: Faith and Xander flee Sunnydale after the end of Season 3. AU, not Buffy-friendly.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Theme: Heroic Xander(Current Donor)KCollFR181391,092,72217340291,6294 Jul 1220 Aug 14No

Bounty

FIC: MC 52. Apr ’02 Bounty

Title: Bounty
Rating: R (For Language later)
Relationships: X\F, K\T
Story: Action\Adventure
Feedback: In lieu of a Faithbot yeah.
E-Mail: KeithColl@gmail.com.
Disclaimer: If I own the chars, why don't Faith and Cordy do as
their master tells them? Woe is me.

Xander, Faith, Tara, Kennedy, Holland Manners, Lindsey McDonald, Lillah Morgan,
and Gavin Park belong to Mutant Enemy.
Sarah Jane Smith belongs to Doctor Who.
Father Callahan belongs to Salem’s Lot.
Luke Kovak belongs to Sancutary.

“Don’t turn on the light.”

Xander stopped at his girl-friend’s soft voice as he entered their hotel bedroom, the breath suddenly gusting from his lungs. The bedroom was candlelit, flickering light across the room and rose petals covered the bed, an ice bucket with chilling champagne on the near-side table, but that wasn’t what took his breath away.

It was Faith standing beside the bed that did it. Faith dressed in a white, low-cut corset that pushed her boobs up. Faith dressed in a pair of sheer, white mid-thigh length lace stockings attached to the corset via frilly suspenders. Faith with nothing but the tiniest white sequined thong covering her crotch. “Oh god,” Xander nearly had a heart attack when the Slayer gracefully spun in a circle, revealing the laced-up corset had a sizeable heart cut out of the lower back, the rear suspenders stretching over her rounded rump to attach to the corset’s rear, her ass’ only other covering the rear of the thong that could be best described as anal floss separating her cheeks. “I’m in heaven right now, but my mind’s going to make sure I end up in hell later….”

Faith’s grin revealed his girl had heard his muttered words. “Ya like?”

“Y…yeah,” Xander was conscious of the drool running down his chin, but didn’t care enough to stop it. “But it’s not ….”

”Not me?” Faith raised an eyebrow and grinned self-consciously. “The Contessa said some stuff about if you’ve got a special guy, you need to treat him special sometimes, make him understand how special he is to ya.” The Slayer knelt on the far side of the bed, her eyes’ luminosity briefly dimming. “Do ya think Tar’s gonna, ya know talk to me?”

Xander forced the flow of blood from his crotch back to his head as he endeavoured to concentrate enough to answer his girl’s plaintively-asked question. “We’re family,” he finally replied. “Families argue, but the best ones come back together no matter not.”

”Wicked,” Faith’s smile illuminated the candle-lit room, “now how about ya join me on this bed?”

* * *

“Now that’s the run of the mill business dealt with,” Holland Manners looked around his boardroom, their weekly meeting coming to an end, “how about the apocalypse?” He shook his head and rapped his knuckles on the polished table, peering down imperiously at his subordinates from his position sat at the head. “Come now, let’s hear it!”

“Ah,” Lindsey was the first to speak up, the youthful lawyer clearing his throat before beginning. “The Trojan Horse is in position to be primed for his part in the set-up, it’s just a case of getting the amulet to him.”

“Plans to deal with that are under-way,” Holland replied. Or more correctly, the boys in Strategic Planning were in brain-storming sessions to come up with one. If they didn’t manage it, well they’d have nothing to store their so valuable brains in. “He’s entwined with the Slayer?”

”She doesn’t suspect a thing,” Lindsey replied.

That was pleasing but to be less than unsurprising. Holland nodded, according to all their reports the girl was an incredible fighter but rather less than an Einstein when it came to strategy, tactics, or even personal choices. Given the disorganised state of the Council, the formidable resources of Wolfram & Hart and their vast experience at manipulation, it wasn’t even a contest. “And the vampire continues to have no idea about our grander plan?”

Lindsey shook his head. “Both the new Council and Angel Investigations are as far as we can tell operating in the dark.”

“Excellent, excellent,” Holland nodded. Although he was confident that his forces would come out in top in a full on confrontation with Angel Investigations or the Council, there was little reason to risk such a battle that would be a drain on both manpower and more importantly resources. “What else?”

“As you know the Eliminator Program in Rome was demolished by The Mithras Quartet last month,” Lillah put in.

“I know.” Holland grimaced. Those brain-washed Potentials would have been a highly effective bulwark against the Slayer army. As things stood now they could have a very difficult year between the anticipated Mass Calling and The Cracking. “I assume you’ve been working on an alternative counter-measure to deal with the Slayer Army?”

“Actually,” Gavin half-raised his hand before continuing, “some of the boys in Viral-Technology have come up with a means of perhaps controlling the vampire population.”

“Yes?” Holland raised an interested eyebrow. Vampires were notoriously difficult to control. The moment they gained any power they would immediately turn on their human partners no matter the circumstances, as proved by several slaughters at W&H housing complexes or offices in the past few thousand years. Of course those who participated in these massacres were hunted down and their bloodlines eliminated, but that was hardly the point. Using vampires was a wasteful endeavour.

“Yes, I’m not up on the technical information, but there appears to be a way of controlling vampires through their feeding. There’s just one problem, sir.”

“Yes?” Holland patiently queried at the newcomer’s pause. Nobody wheedled like Gavin, he liked that in the Oriental lawyer, one should always play to their strengths.

“According to the experts, there’s only one man good enough to do this work,” Gavin looked down, fingers rustling through his notes, “a Lt. Colonel Robert Neville. He’s a virologist for the US. Army.”

Holland pursed his lips. “That’s no problem at all. I assume plans are in hand to snatch him?” Gavin nodded. “Consider my consent given, have him snatched, but don’t mess up.” Gavin gulped slightly at his warning. “Where will this project be based?”

“We’ve decided America is too high-profile, what with the Brotherhood, Angel Investigations, and the Council,” Gavin replied, “so we’ve decided upon South America, specifically Colombia.”

That would be handy considering their close ties with a number of the cartels. Holland nodded. “You have all the resources you need, but I want results Gavin.” Gavin flinched and nodded at his tone. “As to the Mithras Brotherhood, I’ve decided to hire a man to eliminate that particular problem, the only man to survive a battle with its leader.”

”You mean?” Lillah gasped.

”Yes,” Holland smirked at his subordinates’ open-mouthed shock. “I’ve re-hired Darco, this time to murder Xander Harris.”

***

Cleveland, Ohio

Faith stiffened as Tara and Kennedy started into the lobby where she and Xander were sat waiting for them. “Hey,” Faith greeted, her legs unusually shaky beneath her and heart tight in her chest, “what ya been doin’ all day?”

“Been to a couple of the city’s museums,” Tara coolly replied.

Faith struggled to keep her temper in the face of her sis’ continuing coldness. She’d never been known for her patience and the New Mexican was fast fraying it. “See anythin’ interestin’?” she persevered with an even tone.

Tara shrugged. “Nothing that you’d be into it.”

”Hey,” Faith forced a smile, “if you’re into it, I’m into it.”

“Hum,” Tara looked towards Xander, “are you ready for patrol?”

Xander sighed and nodded. “I’m ready.”

“Come on then,” Tara strode towards the hotel’s exit, Kennedy shooting her a sympathetic look as she hurried after the witch.

Faith’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “Hey,” Xander placed an arm around her shoulder, “just give it time.”

“Time!” Faith glared up at her man. “Time? How much fuckin’ time?” Faith hissed. “It’s been over two fuckin’ weeks! And Jesus, I’m gettin’ fuckin’ tired of apologising for doing something that wasn’t wrong.”

* * *

Xander muttered a groan under his breath as he walked through Cleveland’s blustery rain-swept streets. The weather might be less than ideal, but it was practically tropical next to the frostiness between Faith and Tara. He and Kennedy had been too smart to be drawn into the feud, still it wasn’t the greatest thing for group morale or camaraderie.

As group leader, he supposed it was up to him to get both sides talking. Because of course he was an expert at dealing with women, a regular Don Juan.

This would not go well, he decided even as he licked at his lips and racked his brains for what to say. Be conciliatory? Be commanding, oh yeah, ‘cause that always worked well with Faith never mind both Faith AND Tara. Be understanding? Be compassionate? Witty, perhaps?

Oh crap, he was in quicksand and sinking fast. He stopped when Tara came to a halt, the witch’s brow creasing in concern. “What’s up Tara?” he whispered.

“Something’s near us,” the witch replied. “Something demonic.”

“Oh thank god,” Xander muttered. Saved. Raising his voice, he looked towards the witch. “Where exactly?”

Tara shot him an amusingly irritated look that gave him hope for the future of their gang. “I don’t know, it’s a sense not radar.”

”Fair enough,” Xander passed Faith and Kennedy hand axes while drawing his favoured sabres. “Be on your guard-.”

GRRRR! Suddenly a trio of powerfully-built, rock-grey demons with snouts and curved tusks leapt out of a shadowy alley mouth.

Xander spun to face the intruders, catching a forearm to the face that almost buckled his legs for his trouble. Blind instinct had him ducking under a follow up haymaker that might well have taken his head from his shoulders and then he was crashing his shoulder into the creature’s thick chest, knocking it back a step in an attempt to get some room to use his sword.

Before he had chance the demon was charging him again. Xander spun away from the creature’s snarling rush, slamming an elbow in the side of the beast’s head even as he ducked an attempted clothesline. The monster grunted then began to turn to face him.

Xander left his feet, leaping into the air to catch the demon knees-first in the chest, the momentum of the collision sending the pair of them crashing to the alley’s muddy floor, Xander on top. Xander’s sword skewered down before the demon had chance to react, thrusting up and through the demon’s thick neck, the blade’s point exiting in a gush of blood to scrape the ground below.

Xander didn’t allow himself a half-second to catch his breath. Instead he spun to his feet only to find his companions had already dealt with the other two demons. “Real strange, demons waiting to attack us,” Faith said. “Almost like they were watching for us.”

“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “It was a little coincidental. The first question is what sort of demon are they?”

“They’re Grappler demons,” the witch informed him. “Mercenaries for hire.”

“Yeah?” Xander cast a cautious look around. “That only leaves one question.”

”Who hired them?” Faith queried.

”Exactly,” Xander groaned as he rose, head thumping from the back-hander he’d caught. “Let’s get out of here.”

* * *

Kennedy licked her lips as their hotel room door closed behind them. She’d held off saying something for fear of rocking the boat, but this had gone on long enough. “You should talk to Faith,” Kennedy scolded.

Tara spun to face her, eyes betrayed. “She nearly got you killed!”

”One, it was my choice, and I’m not repeating it again, my choice,” Kennedy scolded. “Two, I could care less about Faith, but she loves you. She’s one of only three people who get how amazing you are, and you’re not just hurting her by shoving her away, you’re hurting yourself too.”

“You don’t understand!” Tara half-sobbed. “I’ve waited so long for you, for someone who completes me and then Faith has to open her big-mouth and bait you into trouble. I was so scared I was going to lose you!”

”I’m here and I’m not going anywhere baby,” Kennedy threw her arms around the sobbing witch. “I love you. And so does Faith.”

***

“Umm,” Draco supped at his whiskey as he watched the wide-screen tv in his hotel room, eyes fixed on the video recording he’d made of the Grapplers’ attack on the Mithras Quartet. He’d not expected to see the Quartet defeated by some minor-powered demons of the Grapplers’ ilk, but his recording of the battle had provided him with some interesting and disturbing data.

First there was the Slayer, as deadly and graceful as she was beautiful. Then there was the witch, calm and serene in the face of danger, and the potential grittily determined. But of most importance of course was the possessed youth himself.

When he’d first encountered Xander Harris, the young man had been ruggedly impressive, but now he was something else entirely, more devastating by far.

The sound of the video rewinding filled the air as he readied himself to re-watch the fight for the fifth time. In the minutes immediately preceding the fight, when he’d first begun recording the youngsters on their patrol through town, he’d noted a certain tension, a friction in their group. But when the Grapplers had attacked they’d meshed together seamlessly.

“Of course,” Draco smiled coldly, inspiration striking. Putting down the video remote he reached into his Saville Row jacket and pulled out his cell.

* * *

Holland Manners looked up from his paperwork, grateful for his phone’s sudden ringing pulling him away from the tedium. “Hello.”

”Mr. Manners,” his skin crawled at the immortal’s distinctive rattle, “I am given to understand that any and all resources are available to me?”

“Your mission is of the highest priority to this office,” Holland replied.

“Excellent,” the immortal paused momentarily before continuing, “in that case I need one of your company’s sorcerers to conjure up a Hass demon.”

“A Hass demon?” Holland tapped at his computer’s keyboard, seeking to search the company database to find just what a Hass demon was. His eyes widened at the search results on the screen before him. “But what possible use would be this sort of demon?”

Draco chuckled. “Let’s just say there’s certain cracks in the group that this demon could help me exploit.”

Holland grimaced at the vagueness of the answer. Independent contractors always turned out to be pains in the ass one way or another. “Very well, I’ll get the company’s sorcerers on it immediately.”

“Thank you.” Draco paused momentarily before continuing. “I’ll also need-.”

* * *

Xander stared around the discreetly-lit restaurant, the sixties soul music coming through the speakers nailed on the walls above every third booth and the tuxedoed waiters unobtrusively flitting between booths, taking orders, serving drinks and food, and delivering bills.

Oh yeah, and the strained atmosphere hung heavier than the bowl of pasta he’d just finished off. He couldn’t forget that, forget the pasta, it was the atmosphere that had given him indigestion.

Ah hell, he could hardly make things worse. “Well that was a wonderful meal wasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Faith grunted.

“It was good,” Kennedy added.

”Okay,” Tara muttered sulkily.

“Look, things have gone on long enough,” Xander said. “Faith might have made a mist-.”

”Like hell I did!” his girl-friend’s ebony eyes hardened to stone. “It was a fuckin’ obvious decision!”

”It put Kennedy in danger!” Tara snapped.

”We live our fuckin’ lives in danger!” Faith hissed right back at the witch. “It’s not my fault ya like the diaper look on the brat!”

”Hey!” Kennedy snapped. “I’ve been standing up for you!”

”Girls-,” Xander tried as he felt the conversation rip away from him.

Faith leaned over the table and glared at Kennedy. “Get this pint-size, I don’t need ya to stand up for me!”

”You just hate that I have someone!” Tara snapped. “You just wish I’d follow you around!”

“Ya know,” Faith snapped right back, “when ya did, kinda boring! I’m glad ya’ve got someone, I don’t do pining stalkers!”

The colour drained from the witch’s face. “In that case,” the New Mexican grabbed Kennedy who was still eye-balling Faith and pulled her up, “I won’t bore you again. We’re leaving!”

The two lesbians started out of the restaurant as Xander placed his head in his hands and groaned. ”Oh that went so well-.”

“You bastard,” Xander looked around to see Faith rising, her dark mane swinging as her head bobbed and finger jabbed at him, her eyes blazing. “I’m yar fuckin’ girl-friend, never fuckin’ try and stab me in the back like this again!” Xander’s mouth opened in a weak denial. “I did fuck all wrong and ya know it!”

“If you just -.”

“Hell,” Faith shook her head, unwilling to listen to him, “it weren’t ya or Tara who had to fight their way through the Nightmare Room to get the brat, it was fuckin’ me!”

“Yeah-.”

Faith’s tirade crashed over him. “And I notice I didn’t get any fuckin’ thanks!”

“Faith-.”

”Well ya can find yar own cab back to the hotel!” Faith snapped. “And ya better hope they’ve got a spare room ‘cause ya sure as shit ain’t sleepin’ with me.” With that the beautiful brunette stalked out of the restaurant, waiters wisely scattering before her.

“Oh yeah,” Xander groaned, “I’m a regular Ghandi, just a negotiating wheeler-dealer.” Dropping his fork onto his plate he looked around for a waiter. “Can I have the bill please?”

* * *

“And so from the fires of hell he comes.
Spreading dissension ensuring hatred looms.
He is the demon called Hass.
His presence has permanent effects.
All praise the Hass!
With him loathing lasts!”

Holland watched with mild disinterest as the seven company wizards finished their summonsing spell, their cowled heads bowed as they stood at the points of their blood-drawn septegram. The candles at the wizards’ feet suddenly extinguished, a chill and sulphurous stench suddenly filling the room.

And then it appeared in the septegram’s centre, a grey blob-like thing, its skin hanging from it like fat layers of an obese man. It had a single unblinking eye and a cavernous mouth, with no apparent limbs to speak of.

”Gavin,” he muttered as he stared at the hideous beast, his underlings beside stood him, the whole group in the offices’ basement, a space reserved for the foulest of sorceries, “phone Draco, tell him his Hass is on his way.”

***

Xander groaned as he awoke and rolled up into a sat position, his neck kinked from his night spent snoozing on the sofa in the hotel’s staff room. Suddenly conscious of a presence in the doorway behind him, he turned, suppressing another groan as hurt blazed through his neck again. Faith had always been a pain in his behind, now it seemed she’d spread to his neck too.

“Sorry about the sofa sir,” the portly porter apologised. “But as I said, we’re booked up.”

“That’s alright,” Xander waved the man’s apology away, “not your fault.” He looked at the towels draped on the man’s arm. “Are they-.”

“For you, sir?” the porter nodded. “The staff changing rooms and showers are just down the corridor, if you’d like I can show you there.”

“Thanks,” Xander nodded, then winced again as pain once again shot through his neck. This was shaping up to be one hell of a day.

* * *

Draco stared at the demon, ensconced as it was in the lounge of the house he’d rented. “I assume you’re ready?” The Hass demon nodded silently. Draco continued to stare at the demon. Normally one had to be careful around such a malignantly powerful creature, but given that he was now employed by Wolfram & Hart, any demon would think twice about attacking him, therefore he was relatively safe.

Relatively being a very dangerous word around the Hass. “Please,” he nodded and smiled. “Feed on them.”

* * *

Faith scowled as she awoke, the other side of her bed depressingly empty. Bastard hadn’t even made an effort to come in and try and apologise. Showed how much he cared.

Her temper still building, she got up, strode into the shower, and turned it on. Normally a warm shower cooled her off, relaxed her, not today, she was still seething even after washing, drying, and dressing in a pair of low-riding jeans and a black gym-top.

The one other thing she noticed, other than the cold, burning rage that didn’t have appeared to abated a single bit since the previous night, was how hungry she was. “Breakfast,” she grunted as she grabbed the room keys off the bedside table and headed out of the room.

She’d barely stepped out of the corridor when the second most unwelcome person in the universe confronted her. “I know why you sent me into the potential smuggling ring!”

Faith shook her head, her temper hardly improved by Kennedy’s accusation. “Fuck off, Ken,” she grunted, “not in the mood.”

”You wanted me dead don’t deny it!” Kennedy waggled a finger in her face. “You’ve always been jealous of me and Tara!”

“I don’t swing that way, kid,” Faith replied through gritted teeth.

“So,” Kennedy ignored her, “you figured, get me killed and take my place in Tara’s bed! Would you have waited until I was buried?” Kennedy laughed mockingly. “I doubt a slut like you could wait that long!”

”Listen good, brat,” Faith snarled, a red mist seeming to descend over her eyes, “Tar was sniffin’ ‘round me, long before she realised I was waaaay too much woman for me and decided ya were more her speed.”

“You bitch!” Kennedy’s eyes blazed.

”Fuck,” Faith sneered, the insults flowing out. “If I wanted Tara, all I’d have to do was cock a finger and she’d be on her back beggin’ for me, and ya’d be nothing but an unpleasant memory-.”

”You tramp!” Kennedy threw a straight right.

Faith caught the blazing-eyed potential’s fist and squeezed, using her Slayer powers to force the potential to her knees, the smaller brunette’s face whitening from the pain as the bones of her hand bruised under the inexorable pressure. The moment the potential’s knees touched carpet Faith grabbed her around the throat, turning the smaller girl’s moans to panicked gurgles. “I don’t need to kill ya to get Tara.” It would be so easy to just squeeze. “But I could anyway!”

* * *

“Faith! No!”

Faith’s head snapped towards him as he raced to his girl-friend and Kennedy. “Fuck,” Faith spat as she released her grip on the potential’s throat, Kennedy folding to the carpet as she coughed and wheezed for breath, “I was just teachin’ her a little respect.”

”A little respect?” Xander crouched down by the purpling potential, relieved to see she was still breathing. “You were close to killing her!”

”Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades,” Faith philosophised before grabbing him by his shoulder and yanking him to his feet, “and why the hell are you taking her side against me?” Faith’s glare cut through him. “Again! Ya know ya Sunnydalers don’t know shit about loyalty!”

Xander gasped when Faith slammed him into the wall, something that didn’t help his aching neck any. “Faith!” he snapped as he grabbed his girl-friend’s wrists and tried and failed to pull them off his shirt. “Let me go!”

“Fuck you Harris!” Faith spat. “I’m not some dumb bitch ya can order ‘bout, ain’t been that for a long while!”

“Expelliarmus!”

“Shit!” Faith squawked as she was flung from him and into the wall opposite, the brunette beauty’s dark eyes widening in shock as she turned to face a scowling Tara. “What the fuck!”

“You two, always arguing about what we do next!” Tara’s eyes glittered in a most unTaralike way. “Sometimes you forget Kennedy and I are even here!” the normally gentle Wicca shook her head. “Sometimes you forget I’ve more power than either of you!”

Faith’s eyes glittered. “Listen sis-.”

“Hesychia!” Tara snapped, Faith silencing instantly. “That’s better. Maybe the pair of you should listen to me,” the wicca poked herself in the chest, “what do you think about that?”

“That’s it!” Xander’s temper snapped, he was sick and tired of refereeing this estrogen-fuelled mess. “You bunch of Cordettes decide who’s head cheerleader amongst you, I’ve had enough!” Xander spun on his heel and strode towards the stairs. “See how far you get without my money and organisation!”

He barged past a couple coming up the steps, his molten gaze dissuading the man from any protestations before continuing on, through the lobby, and into the street outside. “Women,” he shook his head as he took a futilely-hoped calming breath and started on his way, slamming his money down on a newspaper-seller’s stand and grabbing a paper before striding off.

* * *

Draco picked up the ringing phone. “Yes?”

“Harris just left on his own,” the voice at the other end of the phone reported, “looked real pissed.”

”Good,” Draco nodded. “I assume your men are tailing him?”

”Everything’s in hand,” the man reported.

”And you’re still watching the hotel?” Draco’s eyes remained fixed on the Hass demon, grimacing slightly at the milky-grey light surrounding it.

”Me and two of the boys at the front, three at the back.”

“Excellent,” he replied. “Should any of them attempt to follow Harris, kill them. I’ll go and meet your men at the agreed execution point.”

”Understood.” The phone’s click indicated the end of the conversation.

***

Xander was still steaming ten minutes and a mile later. Who the hell did those bitches think they were? He was the resurrected warrior god, the first of his line in millennia! Slayers came along every couple of years and witches? There were hundreds of them in every generation.

His head shaking, he entered an alley heading towards a park. Maybe a few hours away would get him to begin to calm down, but if they were still bickering when he got back, screw ‘em, he had the money and the organisation behind him, they were dust in the wind.

Xander’s eyes narrowed as a shadow to his left seemed to shift, he was already darting back when a fist erupted from the shadows. Xander grabbed the man’s arm at the wrist and elbow before his assailant had chance to pull back and propelled the man forward and over his out-stretched foot, and into another man rushing at him from the right.

“Damn!” Xander cursed as the alley seemed suddenly swarming with attackers, if those tramps hadn’t had him so distracted, he’d have never walked so tamely into this trap.

Sensing a man reaching for him from Xander drove his head back, grinning slightly as the man grunted and fell back. Xander side-stepped an on-rushing black the size of a linebacker, his elbow rising and shooting up at a man to his left.

“Damn!” Xander croaked as the Oriental with a drooping moustache blocked his elbow on his forearm while managing to ram a knee into Xander’s side. Fighting off the pain with the ease of long experience, Xander leant forward at the waist as he stepped towards the Oriental, ducking his assailant’s follow-up right before twisting at the waist and jabbing his fingers at his opponent’s throat.

Xander grunted as the man parried his attack again, Xander side-kicking another assailant in the chest away from him. Pain flared through his head as someone yanked on his hair and pulled his head up. Blood gushed from his mouth when the Oriental caught him with a teeth-rattling right.

Xander rolled with the punch, twisting around to face the stocky six footer behind him and ramming his forehead into the man’s bulbous nose, the man squealing like a pig as his nose splattered across his face. Hearing the Oriental’s footfall behind him, he leapt into a spin-kick that the Oriental ducked under.

But not under Xander’s trail foot that swung up to crash into the Oriental’s neck, blood exploding from his mouth as he flew into the wall behind it, bouncing off it to crash to the ground in the garbage cans.

Xander’s feet had barely touched the ground when one of the remaining five men charged him. Xander waited until the man’s out-stretched hands were almost on him, then hooked his right arm and hip-tossed the man to the ground. “Owww!” he grunted as another of the men rabbit-punched him to the back of the neck, pain flaring down his limbs.

Dazed, Xander stumbled into a cannoning right to the chest from the big black, the wind exploding from his lungs.

Xander ducked under a follow-up left, cursing under his breath as he did so. If he could just get a second’s respite, he could draw something, anything from the Always Pocket, but they weren’t letting up for an instant.

“I’ve got him!” growled a fireplug Latino, his tattoed arms grabbing Xander around the throat in a choke-hold, one thick arm wrapped around Xander’s throat, the other arm around his head.

Xander let out a near-maniacal laugh. “Are you sure about that?” he queried as he leant back against his attacker, reached behind himself to grab the Latino’s left leg and pull it forwards while pushing his body back.

”AhhhH!” The Latino’s shriek was cut short when he hit the ground, his head bouncing off the unyielding concrete and right into Xander’s head as he drove it down with enough force to cave the man’s face in. And then Xander was backward rolling off the mewing man and back to his feet.

He’d barely made a crouched position when he was ducking under the black’s downward clubbing fist, grabbing his arm and beginning to bend it back while kicking another of his attackers in the gut. “Damn!” He howled in frustration when the shaven-headed black grabbed the back of his hair and dragged him off, propelling him backward to the wall.

Xander twisted, hit the wall shoulder-on, and kicked an approaching pony-tailed man in the chest, knocking him back on his ass. Then three of the remaining four were on him, punches and kicks raining in.

It suddenly hit Xander as he twisted away from a right cross that this was no random mugging. Xander sidestepped a thrust kick, hooked the leg at the ankle, and drove his palm down on the man’s leg while sweeping his grounded foot from the ground, the man’s scream drowned out by the snap of his leg as he fell. No, these men were too well-dressed, too expert in the movements to be street thugs, something else was going on here.

A right to the eye burst open a cut above his left eye, dazed, he almost stumbled as he blocked an attempted elbow on his shoulder only to double up when a flung trash can crashed into his gut. And then a strong hand grabbed him by his collar and shoved him down to his knees.

Xander caught a foot coming at his face, blocking it on his arm, ignoring the pain that the block sent reverberating through his arm and shoulder and started to struggle to his feet. And then a trash can crashed into the back of his head.

* * *

“Fuck!” Luther grunted as he fell back, the dented can falling from his hand and eyes fixed on the downed target. “Who is this bastard?”

“My leg, leg, my leg!”

Luther glanced down at Greg, the wailing man clinging to his leg. “Shut up, he killed Miguel and Fu, you’re lucky you’re still living,” he pointed out even as he shook his head, every one of them had been injured, two of them were dead, and a third probably permanently injured. And that was coming from a six on one ambush executed by the baddest team of hombres he’d managed to put together, a team that had been at this work most their adult lives. The boy was a fuckin’ wrecking ball. “You know the instructions,” Luther looked at his two relatively uninjured companions, “I’ll get Greg into the van, you cuff this asshole, and remember the instructions, he wakes up, knock him out again.”

“What about the others?” Donny noticeably didn’t look at the two corpses.

Luther grimaced. “We’re leavin’ them. Make sure they haven’t got any ID on them.”

***

“Don’t you ever cast a spell on me again!” Faith howled as she spun to face a glitteringly-eyed Tara. “Or I’ll-.”

”You’ll what?” the Wicca sneered, sparks dancing from her fingers. “You forget who’s got the power!”

Faith clenched and raised her fists as she stepped towards the wicca. “I’ve got yar power right here-, shit!” She yelped in shock as Kennedy hit her with the corridor table, the blow knocking her through her room’s door and onto the hotel room floor.

* * *

“You don’t threaten Tara!” Kennedy snapped as she snatched hold of a brass lamp-stand, tore it out of its socket, then slammed its top against the wall, the bulb shattering, and started advancing on the prone Slayer, the make-shift weapon’s jagged bulb leading the way.

Tara’s teeth barred as the uppity bitch jumped up. “Get her Ken!” she screeched. “Kick her ass! You can do it! Teach that bitch some respect!”

“What’s going-.”

A casual hand-gesture sent the approaching hotel employee flying the length of the corridor, colliding into the wall, and sliding down to the floor. Tara glared at the people edging out of their hotel rooms, sparks dancing from her finger-tips. “Inside. Now.” She cackled when they obeyed, returning her eyes to the on-going fight. “Kill her Ken!” she ordered.

Her eyes widened when the Slayer slid inside Kennedy’s attack, grabbed the lampstand with one hand, and tore it away from the potential’s two-handed grip, flinging it through the balcony window. “I don’t need weapons to end you, bitch!”

Kennedy used the half-second it took for Faith to throw the lamp-stand away to lunge at the Slayer. “Oooooh!” Kennedy grunted when Faith caught her with an elbow, the blow opening up a bloody faucet above her left eyebrow.

”Not even close to quick enough,” Faith laughed as she twisted until she was side-on to Kennedy, grabbed the potential’s hair and drove her face-first into the wall. “Fuck!” Faith grunted as Kennedy caught her with an elbow to the chest, the Slayer responding with a kick to the back of the knee that would have sent Kennedy to her knees except for Faith grabbing the potential’s wrist and flinging her up and into the ceiling. Kennedy hit the floor with a groan the evil Slayer grabbing her by her arm and lifting the limp potential back up, her right sleeve tearing away. “Told ya not to fuck with me!” the busty Bostonian snarled as she grabbed Kennedy around the throat.

“Oh goddess!” Tara gasped, the red mist resting before her eyes dissipating as Faith began squeezing, her girl-friend purpling as she futilely attempted to break the Slayer’s grip. Tara’s eyes were fixed on the potential’s right shoulder-blade, a greyish sigil of a pentagram pulsing there. “A Hass!” Tara looked at Faith before forcing her own temper under control. “Faith-.”

The Slayer’s head snapped towards her, long mane whiplashing, and eyes hard, drool dribbling out of the sides of her mouth. “Just give me half a minute, bitchy-witchy, I’ll get to you-, ahhh!” The Slayer flew to the other side of the room at Tara’s gesture, crashing into the wall by the shattered balcony window.

“I’ll kill her,” Kennedy gasped between gulping breaths, the potential rolling onto her hands and knees, eyes fixed on the downed Slayer. “You just see if I don’t.”

Tara grabbed her girl-friend’s shoulders. “No, it’s a curse-.”

“You don’t’ think,” Tara reared back when Kennedy swung up, her backhanded slap narrowly missing her, “I can take her!”

“Oh goddess!” Tara felt her own temper flare as she brought her heel down on the back of Kennedy’s head, knocking the dazed potential out.

Tara sighed as she looked around the devastated room with its two unconscious brunettes. She’d have to tie them both up and hope they were slightly saner when they woke up. Heh, a smile spread slowly across her face as she glanced from Faith to Kennedy and back again, and it had started out such a crappy day.

* * *
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