Large PrintHandheldAudioRating
using
 paypal
Twisting The Hellmouth Crossing Over Awards - Results
Rules for Challenges

CPA

StoryReviewsStatisticsRelated StoriesTracking
Story

Summary: Alternate season 7 Buffy, Faith returns, and the world changes radically

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Smallville > Multiple Pairings
Television > X-Files, The
norgcoFR15854,9355811,07613 Jul 0413 Jul 04Yes

CPA

Fic: CPA

Author: Norgco

Summary: The accountant sent to audit the Magic Box is

unexpectedly familiar.


Couples: Anya/Faith/Xander - yes, I think they need

each other. More couples/coupling later

Giles/English Coven - mentioned

Disclaimer: I do not own any of this.

Feedback: Yes.

Author’s note: 1/This was written between season 6

and season 7, so, it AU from that point.

2/I happen to consider the things Xander was being shown to be good at at

this stage in the series to be actually way more valuable than gaining a superpower

would be. So I tend to write him being valued for them, that’s not a criticism of

SuperXander stories, but I see him as making a unique contribution, even if it looks

Too mundane to bloody Joss Whedon.





The Magic Box, 1.30 pm, Saturday morning



The Magic Box was its relatively quiet self that

afternoon, nothing major was happening except for

Anya's anxiety about the arrival of the new auditor.

Repairs to the shop required passing an audit of the

books, to ensure that there was actually the cash flow

needed to repay the loan. Xander had done enough out

of his own pocked so that they could have a 'Post

earthquake Sale' but without the bank loan they were

unable to do more. So the vengeance demon waited for

the only thing more terrifying than a Fyoral demon on

LSD, the auditor.



There was a tinkle as the door opened, and a young

woman in a dark outfit that must have cost more than

the shop made in a month walked in with a laptop carry

bag over her shoulder and a briefcase in the other.

At first no one recognized her, clearly she was the

accountant they were expecting, and therefore Anya and

Giles problem. She walked over to the desk and

introduced herself, that was the real start.



"Hello Anyanka, Patron Demon of Scorned Women, I

am Faith Wilkins, from Harvey, Norman, and Bates

Sunnydale office."



Silence fell over the group, for different reasons

depending on the individual. Anya and Giles were

stunned that an accounting firm would have someone who

recognized a major demon on sight, and still insisted

on carrying on normal business anyway. The formal

mode of address made Buffy and the others basically

ignore the statement, and then the name of the woman

in the suit slammed home into Buffy's paranoid brain.



"FAITH!" and with that everyone looked around,

yes, it was the dark slayer. She had calm, totally

business expression, and the reason no one had

recognized her was clear. In her carefully tailored

clothes and with that expression, she was

unrecognisable. The relaxed demeanour remained even

as the Blonde slayer leaped over the table and grabbed

a sword. When the sword swung up the ex-con did

nothing much, simply looked the elder Summers woman in

the eye and smiled. "Give me one reason not to kill

you now."



"Harvey, Norman and Bates take a dim view of

attacks upon their employees Buffy, they assume it

means the attacker has something to hide somewhere."

The post Enron/Worldcom/etc shakeout of the industry

had destroyed most of the previous famous firms,

allowing the newcomers to take their place. It was

actually a new name for an old firm, with some very

old-fashioned values. How the dark slayer had been

recruited in Prison to join the firm was an

interesting tales she had been hoping to live long

enough to discuss with them. "If you thought Angelus

was dangerous Buffy, wait till the IRS comes after

you. You may be able to hide the remains of my corpse

from the police, but I have ALREADY found some things

in your last tax return you DON'T want them to look

closely at."



"How, ah, I mean, you're an accountant Faith, how

did this happen and why were we not informed you were

even out of prison?" Giles stammered out, Faith had

dropped out of school with quite poor marks, how did

she end up as a qualified accountant only a few years

later and straight out of prison? Surely the Watchers

Council was keeping track of 'the Dark Slayer (TM)',

why had they not informed him of her return to

Sunnydale, at the very least. "Why did you not inform

me you were in town, and who is your Watcher?"



" To answer you in reverse order of question, I

insisted on having Wesley back as my Watcher, I

assumed the Council had already told you, I assumed

the council would tell you, and I was recruited by a

Karnak demon that was working as a prison guard in my

first week in prison. They tested me and it turns out

I'm in the top 1% of the population, IQ of 180."



Once

Faith had finally accepted that her school problems

had been the result of her making intellectual leaps

her teachers couldn't follow, rather then that she was

stupid, as they had always told her, everything had

changed. The demon had been sent to work in the

prison by her clan specifically to look for

salvageable individuals, people with untapped

potential being wasted. She had thrived under a high

pressure but encouraging learning environment, getting

her GED and a Degree in Accounting in the time some

people would have needed for just the High School

work. And then there were the speech and deportment

lessons, what fun...



"Karnak demons, I thought they were extinct for

centuries?" Giles responded, in a calm tone that was

all that kept Buffy from making short, chopping

motions through Faiths body with the Claymore sword in

her hands. Restraining her was important, if the dark

haired slayer was telling the truth then turning her

into minced Faith would be more trouble than they

wanted. "And why would they recruit you as an

accountant, of all things, they were mercenary demons,

if very honour obsessed?"



"The industrial revolution.”



"Huh?" From Buffy, at her intellectual limit

under the stressful circumstances.



"Karnak demons aren't extinct, they were

mercenaries for the money, and the industrial

revolution showed them that there was more money to be

made in business." Hence the Watchers council had

lost track of them, being English Upper Class Twits

with the upper class twit contempt for anyone 'in

trade'. Then, for the benefit of the other Scoobies

she explained. "Before then you could only get rich by

inheriting or stealing from whoever had inherited it,

and as mercenaries they were entitled to loot peoples

treasures. Then they realized the money to be made in

a suit was bigger than with a gun, so they do this

now. "



"Demonic accountants, well that explains a lot."

Xander finally remarked, watching the new version of

Faith, drawn to her. Anya had said she was not coming

back to him, had told him she would never forgive him

and to get 'a new orgasm friend'. Faith had noticed

the look, and smiled back. "The Council has no

problems with your working for demons, AGAIN?"



"My slaying has the full support of the Karnak

Elders, honour demands we protect a society we benefit

from."



"Not many businessmen seem to think like that."

Willow commented, still the daughter of left wing

academics.



"Honour is its own reward." Faith said icily. She

was taking out her Laptop, and examining the General

Ledger of the Magic Box, with the conversation taking

up less and less of her mind. The business's books

were, quaintly in this day and age, still in actual

books, with red leather covers. She approved, the

neat, clearly laid out entries showed pride and care,

not the incomprehensible mess she had encountered when

doing the books at Willie's bar. "Can we discuss this

later, I have work to do?"



The Magic Box, later that night.



Faith had finished for the day, the computer now

contained a copy of the accounts and she could go over

them at her leisure. Everything certainly looked in

order, Anyanka really was as competent a business

manager as she thought she was, perhaps better. And

clearly attracted to the dark slayer, and having

clearly noticed how her ex-fiancé was attracted to

Faith.



"So, how about we go relax?" Xander announced. He

was standing near the counter, just back from patrol

with Buffy, since Faith was apparently still out of

condition from her prison time, though improving

rapidly due to Wesley and a personal trainer supplied

by the firm. Anya looked at him with a smile he had

not seen from her in a long time.



"Yes, how about the three of us go back to my

place for sex?" The vengeance demon asked.



"The three of us, I thought you and Xander were,

ah..." Faith had heard more about the slayerettes

then they had about her, she knew of the break-up.



"We never did a threesome, no, and looking back on

it that was obviously the problem." Anya was totally

serious now; sex and business were serious topics to

her. "And some romantic, lesbian sex and a serious

stud like Xander to use till you both collapse from

exhaustion is what a slayer needs like you needs

Faith, I mean, why else would Buffy keep screwing

Vampires? Lets go."



Giles watched as the trio walked out, Anya clearly

in charge, Faith and Xander following rapidly. Buffy

was not hear to have heard the comment on 'what a

slayer really needs', though Anya being Anya she would

learn soon enough. Xander was in for an exhausting

evening, if his own experiences with the Coven who had

given him the powers used to fight Darth Willow was

any guide. They had insisted on a price for their

help, not that he or any sane man would mind, and he

felt the teleportation spell kick in, as they called

him for his 'payment.'





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









Casa Summers, the large bedroom, Sunday morning,

9.15am



Faith woke up in with the warmth of two bodies.

She had one arm draped over Anya, just under her

breasts, and the other over Xander. It had been an

amazing night, and the vengeance demon had been right,

the combination of making love to a woman and using a

stud for the orgasms was exactly what she had needed.

The other woman was kind, knowledgeable and fun,

Xander did the he-man pleasure machine thing well.

Now to make sure he understood she thought of him as

more than that without triggering the jealousy of

Anyanka, who didn't seem to have worked out exactly

whether she wanted Xander as a lover or a corpse.



The Slayer looked up at the door as it opened, to

see Buffy enter the bedroom. The blonde smiled at her

without saying anything, and placed three coffees and

some doughnuts on the bedside table. A space was

there for it; apparently this was a stable routine.

The ex con was intrigued, little miss innocent was

taking it as a routine to enter the bedroom of her

friends and leave coffee to wake the lovers up.



"Hi Buffster, have a good night?" the dark haired

man in the bed said, as he got up and walked around

the bed to get his coffee. Ok, so this was getting

surreal, Xander walked COMPLETELY NAKED around the

room without a hint of embarrassment from himself or

little miss blonde perfection? "An, Honey, wake up,

Buffy brought coffee."



Anyanka sat up, letting the covers drop and

exposing her own and Faiths bodies for all to see.

All right, so she had nothing to hide from the couple,

but Buffy had certainly never seen her breasts before.

Seeing them she was though, and then the rest of her

as the other woman in the bed got out and pushed the

covers to the bottom of the bed. It was a warm

morning, so it probably was just the absent minded

routine it seemed to be. But how had this become

routine?



Summers house, Breakfast table, later that day



Sitting a breakfast with the Scooby gang was a

bizarre experience for Faith, as the whole morning had

been so far. Part of the strangeness was the touches

of normal suburban life added to the mix. Everyone

but Giles seemed to sleep in the house, and only Dawn

was doing it alone. Or presumably Buffy's under age

sister slept alone, she was sleeping over at her

friend Stacey's place for the weekend, and judging

from the routine here they might as easily be staging

orgies as having a chaste, best friend staying over

time of it. The dark slayer was not going to ask,

until she understood the situation better.



"More coffee anyone?" Willow asked, then when

no one else wanted any she poured the last from the

eight-cup coffee maker for herself. Sitting down

between Buffy and Xander, she hugged both, apparently

for comfort, before resuming breakfast. Her recovery

from the death of Tara was not, and probably never

would be, complete, and the need for comfort and the

reassuring warmth of others was a constant with her.

Faith was guessing about some of this, but knew the

outline from what had been said so far.



After the Warren/end of the world thing the red

head had had her powers removed, leaving her a

grieving, guilt stricken wreck. Xander had led the

effort to bring her back into the world, with the

others becoming involved as their friend swung from

recluse to party girl and back again. Willow had,

when Faith had gently asked about that time,

commented, 'either I was huddled in the corner crying

or I was on all fours sucking and fucking. I did the

whole football team one night and three cheerleaders

the next, I don't even remember what drugs I was doing

most of the time.'



So now the five of them were sitting around the

table, this very emotionally scarred group, with Faith

actually the sanest and most sober citizen of the

group. If it had not been so tragic the dark slayer

would have laughed. The human cost of their struggle

against the darkness was so high, and it was all here

in this room to see. Willow, the shy computer geek

when Buffy arrived, was now going cold turkey from:

Alcohol, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Magic, and a habit of

seducing strangers be they alone, couples, or in large

groups. She could now not sleep without someone to

hold, any more than she could really relax without it.

So the only friend she had who was immune to her,

Buffy, shared her bed every night.



Buffy was recovering from her return from heaven,

and probably always would be. Her own degrading

sexual obsession had been hidden, rather than totally

public, but no less a self-destructive drive to

oblivion for all that. She was learning to enjoy

life again, slowly, the way the red head was learning

to enjoy not being stoned most of the time. The

burden of all the routine financial and job related

stuff was a constant drain on her spirits, well; Faith

had very good news on that front anyway.



Xander, whose life seemed the most successful on

purely economic grounds, was barely coping with his

guilt and the strain of holding everyone else up.

While his career in construction went from strength to

strength - the company he worked for wanted him to be

foreman of a small project when the current one

finished - the strain of getting his oldest friend

back to something resembling sanity had nearly killed

him. And the guilt he felt at failing to stop Warren

from killing Tara and starting the nightmare never

really left him, like the pain of having hurt Anya so

badly by not marrying her. And letting Willow seduce

him, he should never have allowed that, even if it was

the start of her recovery process.



Anya was troubled too, and in ways none of the

others could fully understand, being human. As

Anyanka, the demon, she was avenger of scorned women,

and yet she was in love with a man and could not

decide if he should be tortured to death or forgiven.

Willow had introduced her to the joy of woman/woman

sex, why couldn't she limit herself to that, and

should she feel guilty about it the way her other

friends did about having orgasms with the red head.

The events of last night did not help, she had wanted

Faith for sex and Xander was SO damn good at that, and

useful in ensuring the offer was not rejected. And

the fact that she had responded to her pain by having

sex with Spike, exactly the way so many men she had

wreaked vengeance upon had, did not make her emotional

state any clearer.



"Will everyone be meeting at the Magic Box later?"

Faith asked, trying to decide whether to drop her

bombshell now, and tell Giles separately or not. But

Giles and Dawn were part of it too, it affected their

futures as much as the others.



"Not planning to, why, is something terrible

happening we need the whole gang for?" Buffy

responded, sounding suspicious.



"Nothing bad, something very good actually, but I

want to tell everyone at once, and that includes Dawn

and Giles." It seemed that could be arranged, and, by

the magic to the telephone, it was.



The Magic Box, 5.30pm Sunday night



At times Willow wondered if there was anyone in

Sunnydale she had not had sex with. She actually

listed the only people she knew for a fact she hadn't

at times, just to keep track of things. There was

Giles of course, and Buffy, the most totally

heterosexual woman she knew. Dawn, she had never had

Dawn, never had the chance, and Faith had been in

prison. Some of the other women in the town were

bound to be as straight as Buffy, though an amazing

number had been willing to at least experiment for one

night. And the gay men of course, but anyone else...



"Willow, Will, speak to me, can you hear me,

testing one, two, three..." Xander was calling the

meeting into order, Giles having arrived in a shower

of light, to complete the group. Faith had gone back

to her apartment for something, and now was passing

some official looking papers around the desk. His

arrived, it was on heavy, embossed letter headed

paper, and in thick legal speak.



"As you can see from the documents each of you now

has before you, the Karnak Elders have decided to

support the Vampire Slayers, and their team,

financially. The money mentioned is already in your

bank accounts, or new Swiss accounts described in the

annex." There was silence at the table, both at the

idea of demons paying the Slayers to Slay demons, and

the sheer amounts of money involved. To someone who

had been as poor as Faith had been, and Buffy and Dawn

now were, the figures involved looked like enough to

fund a small war. Which, of course, is exactly what

they were. "The Scooby gang have, after all,

prevented the loss of all the lives, investments, and

future earning power, of the entire Karnak Species

several times. Supporting that activity amounts to

insurance, which is a normal business cost, and given

the total investment protected the figures you see for

back payment are conservative."



The figures were astonishing, both for their size

and neatly itemized nature. Each Scoob was given a

separate figure, itemized according to apocalypse

averted and estimated monthly hours devoted to

research, patrol and recovering from injuries. Loss

of income due to neglect of potential money making

activities and studies, etc. was there too. Proposed

investment and tax minimization measures were

discussed, with a note that the Legal, Accounting and

Investment arms of the Karnak conglomerate were

available to them for a purely nominal fee, which was

of course tax deductible.



"Exactly what do they want me to do to earn all

this?" Xander asked. He was having trouble with the

idea that there was that much money in the world, let

alone his bank account.



"Xman, you've ALREADY earned it. You have helped

saved the world repeatedly, you are not being asked to

do anything more, although you will be made an offer

to continue doing so." Faith had had years to come to

grips with the fact that there were wealthy demons that

cared more about her than the Watchers Council ever

had. She had forgotten how astonished she had been

first faced with the idea.



"What has the Watchers Council had to say about

all this?" From Giles, who was clearly expecting

trouble from his nominal superiors. Willow snuggled

up closer to Faith, had not stopped touching her the

whole time, even while daydreaming. He would worry

about it later, if necessary. Both women need someone

permanent, perhaps his troubled, red headed daughter

could find comfort with the only individual here as

smart as she.



"The Watchers Council has been offered nothing,

they are wealthy and yet let the Slayers live in

poverty, they are safe and yet insist on a test on the

Slayers eighteenth birthday that kills most of them,

dismissing the dead as 'unworthy'." The dark slayer

was angry now, and she dropped out of the rehearsed

speech and her carefully trained tones to finish.

"Fuck the Council, if they want to help, great, but if

they bother us may God have mercy on them, because

they can expect none from our law firm"



"Lets find a teller machine, I want to see that

this is really in my bank account." Anya said, having

read the document carefully, there should be $50,000

in there, the upper limit of what the bank would allow

in one account. Her numbered Swiss account would have

the rest. Not a lot compared to Buffy or Xander, who

had been involved longer, but still seven figures in

hard currency. "Buffy, why don't we go see if you can

quit Doublemeat Palace?"





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







Things to do with a fortune when you have been dead



The first thing Buffy did after discovering that

yes, she was a multi millionaire, was to quit working

for Double Meat Palace. Faith was worried about the

mental stability of all the Scoobies, and if the

blonde slayer had kept that job she would have had the

men in the white coats throw a butterfly net over her.

Anyanka took up the Elders offer to acquire a degree

in finance, since while her business skills were

respectable; investment management seemed her real

area of interest.



Xander did not immediately quit his job, not as

puzzling a decision as it might seem. Construction had

allowed him to find a real skill of his own; something

useful he had a real talent for. Sensibly he allowed

Anya to invest most of his money, bought a house and a

van, and started thinking about his own business. Not

that he needed the money, but he needed to develop the

first real creative skill any of the Harris males had

shown for generations.



Willow insisted on paying out the Summers family

back debts, and the repair cost of the Magic Box.

Anya was still considering if she should run it part

time during her degree, to develop practical business

skills, but the red head felt better about not

sticking the demon with the repair costs of the damage

she had caused. Dawn invested her money, and planned

a life where she never had to worry about being able

to afford anything.



Giles paid off various bills, and set up funds to

pay his various nephew and nieces university

education's. He had never actually been poor; the

Magic Box had been to keep occupied rather than from a

need for the cash income, and he was thinking of

asking Anya if he could go back to running it when she

was studying.



Faith had already received a lump sum, and in

any case had a high paying job and a lot of things

paid for by the company, with a wardrobe allowance to

pay for 'suitable' clothing, and a company car. She

was proud of the car, both of what it actually could

do as transportation and the simple fact that she had

a skill that people valued that did not involve

killing, torturing or fucking.



Unlike the Scoobies, her employers were aware she

had paid the bills during her pre-Mayor slaying by

working in 'A Touch of Class', Sunnydales best

brothel. One 12 hour shift a week paid all bills and

had allowed her to put money in the bank, with the aim

of moving into her own place. The Karnak are not

human, and, do not understand human morals and

prejudices. They knew enough to quietly explain, very

early in the relationship, that they knew and it was

not an issue with them, she did not have to fear them

finding out.



However she had worked out during the

conversation, and confirmed after, that they did not

see what the problem was, they were just humouring a

strange human prejudice. Prostitutes were

professionals providing a service, and the clan judged

them like any other professional. Did she provide the

service paid for, was she skilled at the tasks

required, did she overcharge or in any way cheat her

customers? That human society failed to show good sex

workers the same respect as good lawyers or

electricians was a puzzle to them, but they quietly

found and destroyed all record of Faiths former

employment, to avoid any future unpleasantness.



The Magic Box, Tuesday 7pm



"So, Faith, what's the company car like?" Xander

was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee, what

Anya insisted was the best coffee in Sunnydale and he

was inclined to agree. The repairs would include an

expansion, and an upper story with a research room.

But an espresso machine, Giles personal selection of

tea's and twice daily doughnut and pastry deliveries

were already on line. Xander had bought a doughnut

and pastry franchise, as a joke on his years of

delivery runs for the group. "Come on, let’s all go see

what Faith drives."



In truth they were all interested, but for

various reasons had not seen her pride and joy. They

knew she was proud of her car, that it was supplied

under a 'whatever makes the professional demon killer

happy while she is around us demons' basis, and were

curious about it. Xander was expecting a Ferrari,

Giles an Aston Martin, Buffy a Mercedes like the one

she had ordered. The car they actually saw, however

stunned them into complete silence for a time.

Finally Buffy spoke.



Outside the Magic Box, 7.12 pm



"A White Volvo." They were all staring with

their mouths hanging open, which Faith mistakenly took

for awe at her brilliant choice. The Swedish safety

icon sat in front of the shop, sparkling in the street

light, its chrome roof rack shining. It was set up

for towing, and there was a half tennis ball stuck

over the ball of the tow bar. "With all the

automotive choice in the world, you bought a Volvo set

up to tow a trailer."



"Isn't she great?" The dark haired slayer ran

her hand over the side of the car, and then carefully

polished off the fingerprints with a cloth from her

carry bag. "All the Elders drive them, but mine is

the only one you can tow a boat with. I love

fishing."



That the leaders of one of the most powerful

demonic clans in existence all drove one of the most

boring, but safe, cars in the world, seemed somehow

fitting in light of the insanity of life on the

hellmouth. Giles was deeply concerned that Faith,

former Psycho Slut Evil Bitch, was now the most

conservative and sensible of his charges. This was

the car he would have bought, if there was no Ripper

floating in the back of his mind to leap out and

strangle him at the very idea. The expensive fishing

gear in the back added to the effect.



Xander was thinking that perhaps the

rehabilitation idea had been carried too far, but then

he remembered the dark slayers attempt to strangle him

when he offered to help her, and shut down the

thought. From her performance in bed since returning

he was aware some of the old Faith was around

but...actually her performance in bed was considerably

better than it had been when she took his virginity.

Certainly she had Anya screaming loud enough to

justify the soundproofing of the bedrooms Willow was

paying for.



Willow herself was standing between Faith and

Xander, where she could feel them next to her without

looking like she was feeling them up. Which she did

not do, in public, any more. Or in private any less,

for that matter. She was rebuilding some of her

confidence, but so much of that confidence had been

from Tara, and she needed the touch, the personal

contact. The car was an interesting personal

statement of where Faith was personally now, like the

fact that she insisted on a date with the red head

before they got into the group sex and bondage. Or

that Faith was happy enough for Willow to be the Top

in their games.



"Well Buffy, lets go kill things." With that the

accountant walked off into the dark, a bag slung over

her shoulder, the Blonde slayer and Xander running to

catch up. Exactly what the ex con had in the bag was

a mystery, she had only said it was an experiment from

the security division. That had them a little

nervous, but Faith had assured them it probably would

not blow up and kill them all, honestly. "Beautiful

night for a fight, isn't it?"



A Sunnydale Graveyard 7.46pm



Ratua the destroyer had set up what everyone of

his followers thought was a really good ambush. With

scouts posted around the perimeter, it did not matter

what direction the slayers came from, he would be

informed and the bait would scream, bringing them

running into his trap. With a dozen assorted demons

and as many vampires it would work without a problem.

Victory was assured. He had heard the old truism 'no

battle plan survives contact with the enemy', but

thought he had covered all contingencies.



A scream in the distance made Buffy turn, and

Xander started running to the sound, Faith ran too,

but she brought out the weapon as she ran, in a

smooth practised motion. The empty canvas bag fell

onto the grass, and she was now holding one of the

most dangerous close quarters weapons available.

Most pump or semi automatic shotguns hold 5 to

8 rounds. The 12-gauge semi-auto she was holding was

South Korean, and had a 30 round drum magazine, with

two more loaded mags in the pack on the dark slayers

back. It had been decided that any situation that

could not be handled by 90 rounds could at least be

brought under control by them, people with arms, legs

or heads missing being fairly easily controlled. She

still had stakes for hand to hand, of course.



A group of Fyoral demons with swords ran out of

the bushes to her right, and the dark slayer fired a

double tap at both. Few people in the world could

have fired a dozen rounds while running at top speed

and without missing, but she was a Slayer, and, as

tests showed, she could do it in a real situation.

The ammunition was the special part; the shotgun

itself had been around for years. Double tapping, or

firing two closely spaced shots at the same target,

was important because of the two different types of

cartridge. One was a armour piercing High Explosive

sabot slug, and the second incendiary shot. Two

rounds would therefore punch a LARGE whole in the

toughest demon, or incinerate a vampire. Or blow the

hole and then cremate the remains. Or explode in the

breach and turn whoever was holding it into cat mince.

So far it seemed to work.



With the right hand side of his ambush gone,

Ratua decide to withdraw, leaving the remainder of his

force to be rear guard. A simple plan, ignoring the

fact that these were mercenaries, who had no loyalty

to anything but money and certainly were not going to

die for him unnecessarily. So they tried to run too,

and the dark slayer simply used them for target

practice. Ratua got the furthest, she had to sprint

to catch him, his head disappeared in a spray of blood

and bone. The test had been successful.



"So, Faith, can I have one, can I, huh, please,

pretty please, huh, promise to be your bestest

friend?" Xander was smiling, and in no small awe of

the new ammo. He was a little dubious about what

would happen if they had to use the guns without

enough training to avoid 'friendly fire', or

'collateral damage.' Soldier was still part of him,

and knew the reality of those words in terms of dead

allies and dead innocent bystanders respectively.

Still it worked and worked well, with proper training

it would allow anyone at all to fight the forces of

darkness with a better life expectancy than the

slayers had ever had.



The Magic Box, Wednesday at 5pm



"Giles, the ammunition is exactly what we need,

its amazing. It won't kill a human any deader than an

M16 round will, but it kills vampires and Fyoral

demons just fine." Xander was inspired, at last there

was something that allowed humans to just shoot the

things that go bump in the night, instead of having to

fight hand to hand against things faster, stronger and

tougher. "We could go after the bastards with any

reasonably well trained soldiers, instead of needing

dumping the weight of the world some 15 year old

girl."



The older man was staring into the distance,

obviously mentally a million miles away. At first the

carpenter was insulted, and then he noticed that his

father figure was crying. Slowly it built up until

the former librarian was wracked with tears, his whole

body shaking and he sank onto the chair. Then he

looked up at the younger man, and spoke.



"How many slayers have died because the Council,

in their INFINITE BLOODY WISDOM, deemed it unnecessary

to research modern weapons? How many Xander, we could

have had this decades ago, at least." The mix of

anger and hope in his face was terrible to see. "And

now a group of DEMONS, bloody KARNAK DEMONS who are

supposed to be extinct mercenaries, invent this,

because they say 'its only honourable to give those

whole defend you appropriate tools'. And because they

think its stupid to risk the end of the world just to

keep traditional weapons."



"Giles, we can put out a contract on the

Watchers Council later. Buffy and Faith could die of

old age Giles, we all might."





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









Various beds, Casa Summers, Thursday night.



Buffy Summers was sleeping alone for the first time

in a while. That did not bother her as such, since

she is a, well, a heterosexual woman in a building

with no other except her sister, and she had been

sleeping with Willow Rosenburg, her aggressively

bisexual best friend. No, what worried her was the

possibility that her friend might slide back into her

post-Tara/attempted apocalypse fuck anything human

habit.



Willow, on the other hand, was on top of the

world. She had finally gotten Faith to sleep, through

the simple expedient of exhausting her sexually. The

Dark Slayer/Accountant to the Demonic world, was

superhuman in many ways, but lacked the red heads

recent intense experience, like an Olympic athlete who

takes a year off to drink beer and eat pizza.

Admittedly very few people had the ex-Wicca's

experience, at least in Sunnydale. Regulars at the LA

swingers clubs she had been to were another matter.



Faith, however, had been in prison, where open orgying

is discouraged, and had not been partying much in

Sunnydale before meeting up with the Scoobies again.

She stroked the dark hair gently, and snuggled up the

the other woman, her breasts pressed against the

slayers back and her right arm draped over and cupping

a breast. She was asleep almost instantly.



Anya and Xander were together, in Xanders bed.

The situation had not changed noticeably since the

threesome on the night of Faiths return meeting at the

Magic Box. Anya charted a meandering course between

wanting Xander back as the centre of her life, and

never wanting to see him again. She, at least, had

found a great comfort and relief at her solution to

this problem, which was basically to take charge of

Xander and his orgasm generating activities. Faith

had shared their bed every night, and she was working

on Buffy. Willow, when propositioned, had been

smilingly enthusiastic about 'getting some pork' from

Xander, then, giggling at her idea of a Jewish joke,

thanked the vengeance demon for her kind offer. Both

women knew he had the stamina to deal with any number

of women, courtesy of a dangerously irresponsible

'Birthday present' to Anya during Willows magic addict

phase.



Her former Fiancé's protests that the blonde was

straight as an arrow, and, aside from a habit of

having passionate involvement's with mass murderers

seemed to have tame tastes, were ignored. She

countered that she could at least get the Slayer some

'action' with Xander, and then work up through a little

spanking and into girl/girl action from there. Once

Buffy tried it there would be no going back. "How can

anyone NOT want to have sex with women Xander, answer

me that?"



The only fully employed Harris did not bother to

answer the question. He understood what she meant,

while disagreeing with the central theme. Buffy

seemed to have no desire for females, Vampires and

genetically enhanced soldier boys named Finn yes, but

not women. Also he was enjoying his status as Anya's

one-man stud farm too much to risk an argument. The

demon's plans to get a much bigger bed made, to sleep

at least four, with mirrors on the roof and wall and

loops for handcuffs etc. at strategic points, was also

a powerful inducement to not argue very hard. Life

was definitely improving.



Dawn summers sleeping arrangements will not be

discussed here, since she did not sleep in the house

much, and not much younger than her sister was when

she removed Angel’s soul. She had her implanted

memories of that time, and was determined to avoid

turning her would be first lover into a psychopathic

megalomaniac with an obsession with ending the world,

at least until she had seen some more of it. Though

as far as she knew all alternatives were human, she

still wanted to be careful.



The Magic Box, Friday Night



"And what are you planning for the rest of the

evening?" Rupert Giles asked, as he cleaned his

shotgun and returned it to the gun safe in the floor.

Sunnydale Police had learned about the new weapons the

night of the second field test, when vampires had

staged an elaborate ambush on a patrol car. They had

gotten the first car to call for help, and then were

in the process of draining three carloads of backup

when the group had rescued them. Any complaints were

quietly hushed up, in exchange for an alliance, of

sorts. "I must say I am enjoying the novelty of

getting an early nights sleep occasionally now."

"Well Faith, Willow and I will be doing a daisy

chain while Xander fucks Buffy up the..."



"Anya, you do that just to make him turn red like

that, don't you?" Dawn said. After all this time it

had to be deliberate, surely.



"Do what?" The demon asked, genuinely puzzled.

"I'm just answering the question. It's not like he

doesn't know what a daisy chain is, I explained it to

Faith this afternoon while I sold that nice old Mrs

Greerson her candles."



"Yes Anya, and the Oxygen revived her without need

for cardiac massage, fortunately." The older man of

the group vividly remembered the scene, with the

explanation of the practical details of each woman

having oral sex with two others being matched by the

growing purple colour in the customers face. The

Slayer had asked 'what are we doing tonight?' from the

training room, and the explanation was loud enough to

be heard in there, and therefore by everyone in the

shop and some in the street. "I thought it was very

good of her NOT TO SUE US!"



The red headed once again hacker watched the whole

discussion with an amused half smile. She was seeing

the world improve, for the first time in a long time.

Faith was showing quite a romantic streak, with

flowers and even some poetry. Her first group sex in

ages was on for tonight, and the woman she was falling

for seemed to really understand that, to Willow, it

was just a fun social activity for adults. Buffy had

a real problem with that, with comments about how

could she expect Faith to watch her make love to

someone else, she feared it was a retreat to drugslut

girl That to a seasoned orgy goer making love and

having sex are worlds apart, never to be confused

activities just failed to sink in with the blonde

slayer. The rest of the group seemed to have the two

in their 'proper' compartments, though.



The only thing that made her uncomfortable about

tonight was Xander. She still had nightmares about

what could have gone wrong with the 'get it up when

you want, for as long as you want' spell. The

carpenter himself had managed to avoid murdering her

when he found out, since it all was working as hoped.

The risk she had so casually taken was what scared

her. She hugged Faith closer drawing in the scent of

freshly showered slayer, and thus had her had right

next to the mobile when it rang.



"Sergeant Mendez, yes, I'll ask her...Buffy are

you still ok to run your training exercise tomorrow?"

The two slayers looked at each other, Buffy and

Giles would actually be running things, but the cops

were still getting used to the idea of getting active

help from the slayer rather than covering up

everything and sentencing anyone who talked to the

night shift suicide mission. With Major Wilkins gone

his cronies were gradually being weeded out of the

force, but changing the institutional mindset was a

slow task. "Yes, we will be there at 0900 hours

sharp, that's ok, thanks."



With that the group left, piling into various cars

for the drive to their home. Dawn had a bedroom in

the extension added by Xander's construction company,

or rather the one he worked for, since he did not have

his own YET. It was far enough from the rest that

she could ignore the sound effects from the other

bedrooms, the soundproofing not being added yet.



Buffy had seriously freaked when she pointed out the

need to proof her room as well, but it would be worse

to have to specifically order it when she was planning

to lose her virginity. Everyone else went into the

main bedroom, ready for the night’s festivities.



Well most of them were ready. The elder Summers

Girl was distinctly uncomfortable, if also aroused and

determined to join in what was very obviously the new

Scooby gang activity. Too much pain had been caused

over the last few years by the various members losing

contact with each other, so she was determined to be a

part of it. There were limits, of course,

specifically no Buffy/woman stuff and if Giles was

even THOUGHT of as a member she would never speak to

them again. Willow and Faith were holding hands as

they walked up the stairs, whispered comments and

smiles becoming part of their everyday pattern.

Xander and Anya were more into groping, but even that

would have been normal if not for the two couples

encouraging each other, and including Buffy in all of

it. It promised to be quite a night.







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



Harvey, Norman and Bates, Sunnydale Branch, Managers

Office.



The Accounting world is somewhat conservative, and

the accounting firm of Harvey, Norman and Bates is no

different. However, it is different in the respect

that it is a property of the Karnak demon race, and

the old fashioned virtues are those of mercenary

demons who found a better way of making a living. So

where many other firms in the industry would have

taken a very dim - indeed career killing - view of

Faith's living arrangements, they simply saw the sort

of household common enough in their own past.



Five adult women living with one man, four of the

women and the man involved sexually. Quite normal in

a warrior culture, with its high male death rates, as

was the romantic links between several of the women.

The need to deal with reality rather than hide from it

was a central feature of the Karnak outlook, and

various realities that humans preferred to hide from,

and therefore stigmatise, are accepted as inevitable

cause and effect. So the fact that Willow Rosenburg

had responded to the loss of her beloved with grief,

rage, violence and eventually sex and drugs was felt

to be tragic, but common enough under the

circumstances. The new reality resulting from such

behaviour must now also be dealt with. Hence the

current conversation.



"Logic, Mr Harris, dictates that actions have

consequences, and, therefore, if you perform an action

you must accept the predictable consequences." Xander

was looking at the dark slayers boss, in his true

form, slightly amazed that something that looked so

much like Chewbacca reminded him so uncannily of Mr

Spock, or possibly Tuvok. Giles had commented on

recently being repeatedly drawn into discussions, in

Ancient Greek, on Hellenistic Philosophy. The

experience had left him dazed, if only by the

discovery that not only did these fearsome creatures

have as good a grasp of these philosophical debates as

any of his Oxford lecturers, they had carefully

cultivated Athenian accents. The carpenter was

feeling equally overwhelmed, in this case expecting

Captain Kirk to beam in for his science officers

analysis of something. "You have shown an admirable

sense of honour and concern for your friends, are you

now willing to accept the male parents duties as

well?"



The question did not hit him immediately. The

image of Chewbacca of Vulcan in front of him was still

being processed, so what was actually being said took

a little longer to process. Then the meaning of the

words hit him.



"I'm going to be a father? Faith's pregnant?"

Excitement, fear, joy, panic, and wonder all warred

within him.



"No, Miss Rosenburg is pregnant, and you are

statistically unlikely to be the father, given the

sheer weight of numbers of the possible candidates for

that honour." The creature with the startlingly

original name Smith, stated, still in its calm

monotone, bringing back the humans urge to push the

fur from its ears to see if they were pointed. "You

are, however, the obvious candidate for the role of

Tark, in your language, Daddy. Acceptance of this

role is the traditional right of passage in our

culture, I should point out."



"Fatherhood? Anyone can be a parent, even mine

achieved it and they were..."



"No, Mr Harris, I am not talking about the

ability to reproduce, I mean the acceptance of the

responsibilities of male parent, of the sacrifices

and joys of 2am feeding, diaper changing and 'are we

there yet dad, are we there yet, are we there yet...'

I should add that if we did not feel you were worthy

we would not ask." Still in Spock mode, with the

occasional Steve Martin flash. Sitting in its

appropriately oversized chair, with its fingers

steepled, the demon looked him directly in the eyes,

as it had from the start of the conversation. The

owner of Harris construction pondered the creatures

words carefully.



"So, if you thought I was unworthy but likely to

be stuck with the job by default, you'd kill me or

something?" Xander was in his logical analysis mode,

where he made the hard decisions like telling Buffy to

kill her boyfriend, or lying to her to ensure she

would kill Angel.



"Yes." Still the cold Vulcan tone. Having

decided to intervene directly in the situation by

training and hiring Faith led inevitably to this room,

and this conversation. The Slayer, her happiness, and

her 'family' support system, were too important to the

fate of the world to NOT be having this conversation.

Smith felt the weight of duty on his shoulders, an old

companion but never so heavy. He could not impose

proper moral values on all humans, but given the

opportunity he would use his power for good. If he

had judged the human in front of him correctly, he was

still talking to an ally anyway.



"If I start acting like my dad you'll, what,

feed me to something?" The carpenter had walked out

on his wedding out of the sick fear of becoming like

the animal that had raised him. The lifelong doubts

about himself all ultimately centered on this, would

he be like all the other men in his family.



"Yes."



"We have a deal."



The Magic Box, that night



"I have an announcement to make to you all."

Willow spoke up, Faith holding her hand, Xander on the

other side holding her with one hand and Anya with the

other. The red head had been delaying this

announcement, out of fear of abandonment, of the

friends she had tried to kill so recently finally

deserting her when the final straw broke the camels

back. Faith and Xander had been talking in hushed

tones all afternoon, and come to her insisting it

would be all right. She was only showing a little,

bulky clothes and not quite three months. "This is

really, really important."



"What, is there some new prophecy, end of the

world stuff." Buffy asked, thinking that if the joint

patrols with the Sunnydale P.D. response team kept

working out they would be a major asset at the next

appocalypse. Giles, however, looked puzzled, nothing

major was coming up to his knowledge. "Tell us all

Wills."



"I'm pregnant." Most of the group was silent;

her two supporters squeezed her hand and smiled

support at her. "Xander is not the father, but is

determined to accept it as his child, and Faith says

she will stand by me. I'll understand if the rest of

you are disappointed or..."



She was interrupted by Giles hugging her. The

former librarian kissed her lightly on the forehead.

She had been shaking with fear, and tears were rolling

down her face, her speech too emotional to understand

easily. After her parents response she had been so

certain no one would accept this.



"My dear child, we have guarded the mouth of hell

together, nappy changing is not that much worse,

honestly." In other circumstances Giles would have

been hurt by the assumption he would abandon her, but

he had been there when her Father and Mother had

formally disowned her. They had found her putting

flowers on Tara's grave, gotten the basic story from

her, and started a scene that ended in Giles knocking

Ira Rosenburg into an open grave with a broken nose

and three cracked ribs. No charges had been laid 'to

avoid further shaming the family', and Willow had gone

straight to a bar and started her wild behaviour.



"I would love to be a godmother but, as a

vengeance demon D'Hoffran might object." Anya said

smiling. There was no bigger test, in her opinion, of

a man's worth, than whether her runs from family

responsibility or towards family responsibility. Her

former fiancé had told her he loved her, and then

explained the situation. She was going back to being

in love with him, especially when he promised to still

be her stud. "Actually it might be an idea to make

D'Hoffran the demonfather."



"Demonfather?" Faith asked, knowing the answer

would at least be entertaining.

"Like a godfather, but a demon. After all, god

is supposed to be a nice guy, it's the other side you

really need to be able to call in favours with." And

to Anya this undoubtedly seemed like the most

reasonable idea in the world. "And every child

should know how to eviscerate someone, it's just one

of those skills we really should all learn."



A Sunnydale graveyard, later that night.



Faith was walking point, with Buffy to the rear

to handle anyone sneaking up on them. The slayers

were acting as early warning sensors, since the

response team cops could not tell vampire from human

without Infra Red scanners, which were in short

supply. It was the third graveyard of the night, and

the second week of patrols with SPD. Contacts had all

been short and loud, so far, and the Scoobies had

actually had more sleep than at any time since Buffy

arrived. Vampires are vicious, fast and strong, but

stupid and with no real head for tactics and weapons.

A shout from Buffy proved it.



"Hey, bloodsucker, come and get it." There were

four of them, and the team fell into practiced

formation. The Slayer fell back behind the cops, who

brought up shotguns full of the incendiary/armour

piercing high explosive (aphe) rounds. Xander and

Anya turned away from the obvious attack, in case the

first group was a diversion. The carpenter and soon

to be dad scanned the trees and ground, watching for

anything coming up through or over the grass.



The booming sound of shotguns and the distinctive

sound of dusting vampires indicated all was well, but

he was not used to the 'contact drill' yet, not away

from the training ground, and he was nervous.



Eventually the shooting stopped, amid shouts from the

response team of 'Clear', 'Clear', 'Clear' as each man

confirmed he had no more targets in his arc of fire.

There was a sound of the shotguns being reloaded, and

the Slayers moved to the front again to prevent a

second attack getting through at this vulnerable time.

When reloading finished the patrol moved on, Buffy

taking point and Faith tail end charlie.



Casa Summers, next morning.



The red head slept soundly, sandwiched between

her love and her oldest friend. Or, as said friends

girlfriend referred to him, my boyfriend and your

fucktoy. To say that Xander enjoyed the latter title

was like saying the Pacific Ocean was slightly damp.

After all these years the youngest Harris male was

naked in her bed, and Faith's soft warmth on the other

side was security for her mind. Sleep had come easily

for her that night.



Buffy was sleeping with Anya, partly because she

had gotten into the habit of having a woman in bed

with her through the previous month with Willow.

Partly it was because Anya simply could not be left

alone tonight, not after accepting Xander's paternal

role with the red headed friend of his life. She

could control her jealousy by demonstrating control

over the situation, but sleeping alone in the bed

triggered her 'alone and abandoned' panic response.

So, since Buffy trusted the demon's word to restrict

herself to snuggling, with no sexual advances, petting

etc, and with Buffy in flannel pyjamas with smiling

cows on them, they slept the sleep of the just.



Faith Wilkins was finally where she had wanted

to be in life. She had money in the bank, paid for by

a totally legal job, miracle of miracles. She had

people on the police force that did not think of her as

a potential criminal, for the first time in her life.

She had regular, varied sex from skilful, caring

partners.



But most of all she had someone who she loved,

who was at least growing to love her, and a child on

the way. Ok, she had never quite imagined a

situation where she was part of a couple having a baby

and she was not the pregnant one, but she had not

really been into women until prison, and for a long

time she had seen herself as unworthy of love. A long

time as in, since the age of about four. She was

deliriously happy. She dreamed of what had happened

when they returned from parol, waking up Willow who

slept on the couch. Faith had found an old Beach Boys

song on CD, put it on and sung it to Willow while the

group watched.



I may not always love you,

but long as there are stars above you,

you'll never need to doubt it,

I'll make you so sure about it,



And god only know what I'd be without you,



If you should ever leave me,

well life would still go on, believe me,

the world could show nothing to me,

So what good would living do me?



And God only know what I'd be without you,



If you should ever leave me,

well life would still go on believe me,

the world would show nothing to me,

so what good would living do me?



And God only knows what I'd be without you

God only knows what I'd be without you,

god only knows what I'd be without you,

god only knows what I'd be without you,



Faith had broken down crying as the overlapping

harmonies of God Only Knows flowed on in the

background. The words were inadequate to describe her

love, but it was the closest she could come to

explaining herself. Willow seemed to understand, was

hugging her. And that is what the Mayors former

killer dreamed of, acceptance and love of one woman in

the world who really meant the world to her.





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





It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. I

certainly did in Sunnydale, as the hellmouth drew in

vampires and demons from the world around it to

replace the ones killed by the rapidly improving

patrol system. It seemed that the minions of darkness

simply WOULD not learn the value of modern weapons,

and insisted on fighting hand to hand, or with swords,

against the semi-auto shotguns of the police and

Slayerettes. So the booming of 12 gauge autoloaders

became more and more common at night, and the world

slowly changed, mainly for the better, to accommodate

it.



At first only the SWAT teams, relabelled the Rapid

Response Teams, had been involved in the anti-demon

patrols. But the simple fact that anyone in the town,

and therefore any cop on night patrol, could encounter

vampires meant that had to change. Harvey Norman,

and Bates were only too pleased to supply as much

incendiary and APHE ammunition as was needed, as well

as the South Korean 30 round shotguns to make best use

of them. At least as long as intensive re-training in

fire discipline and proper target identification was

provided FIRST.



In any other city being greeted by the police

with a squirt in the face by a water pistol would be

considered odd, and perhaps justification for a

complaint. Sunnydale being Sunnydale, it became just

part of the routine, to be ignored like all those

dead people with twin puncture wounds and their blood

missing used to be. People in the surrounding

communities certainly started to comment, however, and

journalists, politicians and police chiefs were taken

on patrol to show what was happening. The new members

of the fight felt no compulsion to keep secrets, in

the belief that organization and teamwork were the

keys to any victory.



"Mr Giles this is an outrage." Quentin Travers

sputtered, glaring at the Watcher who had defied the

Council on so many occasions. "The Slayer has a

sacred calling to fight alone, and not only do you

allow them friends but now this, this decent into..."



"Teamwork, superior firepower and, technology?"

The Slayers father figure commented. He was very

aware, as Travers apparently was not, of how all this

looked to the RRT members watching to one side. How

anyone could be so arrogant as to NOT NOTICE the dozen

angry cops with huge drum fed shotguns in patrol

slings he did not know, but this moron was doing it.



"We are killing vampires and demons in larger numbers

than ever, and if we did not have the help of these

men I am afraid Buffy and Faith might both have passed

on."



"Yes, allowing the calling of new slayers better

suited to our traditional..."



"LISTEN HEAR YOU LITTLE ENGLISH PRICK." It was

Murphy, leader of Rapid Response Team Two, also known

as Red Team, and he was holding the Council

representative by the collar and shaking him. RRT2's

leader was not a small man, and had the 'take charge

and move out' personality that went with his calling.

A big believer in meeting dangerous situations with

speed, violence and teamwork, he was a lot like the

old Faith in some ways. "These girls should NEVER

have been left hanging, with no support but one man

providing intel. I'd have you up for attempted murder

for just considering it, except it's too much trouble

over a weasel like you. FUCK OFF BEFORE I RIP YOUR

LUNGS OUT AND FEED THEM TO MY DOG!"



Travers was nonplussed by all this, but also

less intimidated than he might have been if he had not

been an upper class snob with nothing but contempt for

anyone not born to an English aristocratic family. He

had also mistaken the comment about his lungs for a

threat. It had been intended as an explanation of a

possible course of action, by a man who was used to

eliminating problems rather than living with them,

though feeding him to a vampire prior to dusting was

actually the rapidly forming plan. The Watcher was

incapable of believing he had done anything wrong, or

that new methods might be better than old.



"What you fail to appreciate is that for

thousands of years our council has..."



"Sent 16 year old girls out to die while sitting

in libraries reading. You think only the slayer can

fight because only the slayer can match vampires in

speed and strength." It was Hernandez this time, the

more intellectual member of the team. He wanted to be

a team leader himself some day, wanted to be a good

one, and so he studied, theory and how it had worked

in practice. "Do you know what a European cave bear

was, Mr Travers."



“No." Travers was puzzled by this sudden change

of subject, and that no one else seemed puzzled by it.

But they knew the man speaking, and his tendency to

teach by parable. And they knew the one coming up,

had been taken to the zoo to be shown the point of it.



"It was 15 feet of teeth, muscle and appetite

that our 5 foot nothing ancestors had to get out of

the caves before they could move in. Twice the size

and four times the weight of a Kodiak bear, Mr

Travers, and we took them on with fire hardened spears

because the stone tipped spear was still to be

invented." The young Latino was looking directly into

the Council members eyes through this speech, never

allowing the other man to break eye contact, and

putting a big emphasis on the 'we' part. "They are

all extinct now, with sharp sticks, teamwork and

courage we turned them into rugs and bear meat stew.

We did them, and we can do these bastards too. We're

Red Team."



Before Quentin Travers could ponder why this man

was speaking in the present tense, he saw the group

swing up their weapons and level them past him, as he

fell to the ground. The dark slayer had knocked him

down and he turned in time to see a dozen or more

Mertak demons attacking. There was the roar of

multiple shotguns firing as fast as possible, and then

silence as he felt a wet substance soak into his

clothing, he looked at it, it was green blood.



"R E D SPELLS RED,

R E D, R E D SPELLS RED,

RED TEAM,

RED TEAM,

RED TEAM YO!"



They were all singing at the top

of their lungs, ignoring the need to sleep of anyone

around. They also left the corpses in the street, as

was their habit. There was a special phone number for

people with demon corpses to dispose of now, and it

was standard operating procedure to call it after an

incident. But the pickup crews only worked in

daylight, for safety and so the population could see

what all the noise was about. Having to step over

these corpses on the way to work in the morning was a

street cops idea of a PR exercise, 'Without us these

would have been in your house' was the message

intended. It seemed to work, certainly no-one seemed

to complain about the noise and police budget for a

while after doing it.



"Coming Quentin?" It was Giles, speaking

politely and trying not to smile. The slaying task

was rapidly turning into a war and while the loss of

control was a little worrying, it promised a much

longer life span for slayers, and he was all for that.

Since the man on the ground simply did not care about

the slayers life span as such, but did care about

maintaining control over the slayer and slaying, it

seemed like the end of the world to him. Tough.



The Summers house, Friday afternoon.



"Buffy, I have to talk to you about Xander."

Anya said to the blonde slayer, who was getting

dressed for her evening patrol with Blue Team, aka

Rapid Response Team 1. Blue team were behind on the

monthly demon kill tally, and were determined not to

be buying the beer this month, as the low scoring team

was required to do. She went along with the whole

macho thing with good humour; it was extending her

life span after all. "I need you to do us a favour."



"Like what?"



"Reconsider a romantic involvement with him,

you both need it." The vengeance demon announced,

with a serene calm on her face. The house was empty

except for the two of them, with Faith and Xander at

work and Willow out shopping for Maternity dresses.

"All the orgasms would normally be enough to keep any

man happy, but he needs to be romantic with someone,

and he still loves you, so you're the obvious choice.

That and the fact that currently you're both fucktoys

in our group."



"WERE WHAT?"



"Fuck toys, sex machines with a pulse, spare

orifices for..."



"DO YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH?" The slayer was less

than thrilled by her request; Anya had picked up on

that very quickly. The source of the other woman's

anger was less obvious to her, however. Xander was

always smiling at her references, but then most men

would be happy to have proof they were enough man to

keep so many women satisfied.



"No, I have a boyfriend I farm out to please

women, and who seems very happy with that duty."

"So, you're his pimp and you think I should be

happy to be included in that role?"



"No money is exchanging hands, although I really

should have considered it, shouldn't I? " Clearly

the vengeance demon was trying to get the conversation

back on track, while considering the money making

opportunity presented. "What I, sorry we, want you to

consider is a chance to be loved for yourself, rather

than simply be the source of sexual fantasies that

only one of our group can act on. And he always

wanted the whole thing, including flowers and sappy

poetry, but avoid the poetry because he's really bad

at writing it."



"Xander writes love poetry." The image would

not form in her mind, it was just too bizarre.

"Yes, he always has, when I asked he showed me

stuff he wrote the night he met you. Sweet, really

bad, but sweet."



"Xander writes love poetry."



"I managed to get him to admit to himself that

he still loves you, and I think you could really love

him if you let yourself think of him that way, and he

would never leave me so I hope sharing is not a

problem. Eventually threesomes, when you come to your

senses about how great sex with women is."



"Xander writes love poetry."



"Clearly you are having a problem with something

here, so why don't I just make sure the apple cake is

ready for when the guy's get here. One of the things

the demon had learned to do while temporarily human

was bake, an amazingly good apple cake in particular.

Her lemon cheesecake was also highly prized, and she

always had something of the sort ready when the RRT

van came to pick Buffy or Faith up. It was a ritual

that had formed instantly, a good luck charm that you

could eat. After 1100 years as a demon she knew very

little about human psychology, but she did understand

the importance of rituals and charms.



Faith and Willow's bedroom, early Saturday morning.



The red head was six months along now, and the

pregnancy was showing. She was still at UCS, and

still a straight A student, but her studies were less

focused now, with no need to think of a career path.

So she was doing a double major in Computer Science

-because working on Artificial Intelligence was

serious fun - and Ancient languages, to help with

research.



To be honest she was still a little torn, because

she had discovered a recent paper on the quantum

mechanical re-interpretation of certain elements of

solid state physics, and the professor wanted her to

work with him and his team on it. She was really

worried that she was having too much fun, that

university was supposed to be about work and here she

was in the A. I. and experimental physics labs having

more fun than at any time in her life. That the AI

team had two Noble Prize winners on it, and the

Quantum Physics lab one, and they were fighting over

who had more right to pick her mind, was unnoticed by

the Slayerettes.



The simple fact was that no other student below

PhD level could even understand the casual

conversation in either lab, while she, who was

repeating her second year due to time lost trying to

destroy the world etc., had repeatedly changed the

course of research with off the cuff comments. Willow

had been tested once, and told she was in the top 10%

of the population in many areas. Which was true, in a

sense, since she was in the top 100 scientists in the

world. Her romance with Faith was partly built around

this, since while Willow had always known she was

smart, just not how smart, Faith had always been told

she was stupid, when in fact she was significantly

smarter than any of the teachers who insulted her.



The dark slayer's apparent stupidity and

recklessness had the same cause, she routinely saw

three or more steps ahead and acted on that. Since

none of the people who supposedly were teaching or

leading her could follow her reasoning it looked to

them like she had none, and was just lucky. When, in

the course of her prison education she had been

introduced to Probability theory, she had breezed

through it. How could anyone not automatically see the

possible outcomes of any action, the probability of

each outcome, and then work on the possible outcomes

and probabilities of the secondary outcomes? She had

been doing it all her life, could not have survived

her childhood without it. Now Willow talked about her

day, and the things that happened to be puzzling

people in the two labs, and Faith commented on what

she thought was most likely to work out as the

solution. They were enjoying themselves in life, and

asleep now.



"Hello Faith." It was Tara, Faith had not

dreamed about Tara before, not having known her

really. This version was talking quietly, in a room

with quietly tasteful furnishing in pastel colours.

"Faith, this is not a dream, it is a visitation, I

will visit every one of the Scoobs tonight, ask them

in the morning."



"Ok." And to the dark slayer it was, since

either this was true, in which case COOL, or it was

just a dream, in which case, COOL. Her dreams often

revolved around the people she had killed, and/or

tortured, for the Major. Only two were known from

records, which had been 'sanitized' by the Mayor to

allow her the reduced sentence that had allowed her to

get out so soon. But she had seen his interests as

her own, genuinely liked and been liked by him, and so

applied her reasoning to finding and eliminating

possible threats to him. So many people dead, at her

hands, because probability said they would be a future

hazard.



"But not Buffy or the gang Faith, them you let

live. And you could have killed them all, one bomb in

the library and it would have been over." Tara was

talking, speaking logically and smoothly, speaking

the simple truth. She had not killed Buffy and the

gang on her own account, and had not offered her

reasoning to the Mayor on how to do so. "There were

limits to your evil, Faith, and you finally reached

them when you tortured Wesley. And now you turned

back, from the dark side of the force, to the light."



"The Dark Side of the Force, what is the big guy

a Star Wars fan?"



"Well actually he likes the analogy better than

of some serious theological works, yes." Tara

clarified.



"Master Yoda, is the Dark Side more powerful?"

Faith imitated Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.



"No, quicker, easier, more seductive." Tara as

Yoda replying to Luke's question. "He thinks it gets

the point across well, if you don't believe me I can

get you an interview, you are a major Warrior of

Light, and he can make the time for you."



"I thought he would be too busy."



"I was being literal." Tara said patiently. "He

can make the time, it's one of the things he does."



Faith, who was not very religious, pondered the

meaning of all this, other than just, is it only a

dream. She had to ask the obvious question.

"Why are you here, if you really are here, of

course?"



"To encourage you, in your case. Each Scooby

will get a different message, Willow that loving you

is not a betrayal of me, she worries about that,

Xander not to feel so guilty about my death, things

like that. They will tell you tomorrow morning if

they want to." The blonde smiled, holding Faith's

hand without the slayer having noticed her taking it.

"You are earning your place in Heaven, your

redemption. Don't worry so much, and if you need

moral guidance ask both Giles and Xander the same

question. Giles is the kinder, non -judgmental voice,

Xander is distinctly too ruthless for some tastes, but

he sees most clearly when the situation is most

confused. Neither is perfect, but then who is?"



The dark slayer watched the other woman get up

and walk out, and the room dissolve into blackness.

Each member of the gang mentioned the experience at

breakfast. Each seemed a bit more at ease with the

world, and their place in it. It was the beginning of

a beautiful day, for all of them.





**************
Next Chapter
StoryReviewsStatisticsRelated StoriesTracking