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Suiting Up

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Summary: YAHF: Metroid meets the Hellmouth.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Pairing: Other HetAnimeRoninFR181779,547123677,0529 Dec 0426 Jul 06Yes

Chapter 5

5/?

The next few weeks of Xander’s life saw some serious changes and a few rather surprising turns of events – first and foremost, his mother was out of rehabilitation and had moved back East to be with her cousin Michael, who accepted her back into the Family with open arms. It was a rather odd feeling that Xander had the day she walked out of the hospital under hr own power, her eyes not clouded with an alcoholic haze and her mouth not pouring out curses at his mere existence, let alone shouting at Tony at how much of a failure he had been. Cousin Michael, for his part, accepted the fight that was going to come and had told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was Family, and if he ever wanted to make his bones, to just come out East and try and follow in the footsteps of his, Michael’s, father, Vito – Xander had given him a smile and told him to take are of his mother, ‘or else’, and the threat of just what would happen was plain between the two of them as the limo pulled off. He’d gotten a card from her a few days ago and it had said something about her looking into expanding the family business into Waste Management, but Xander didn’t think to even hold his breath with the kind of stranglehold the Soprano family had on that market.

Another thing that had happened, aside from Buffy actually speaking to him on a partially civil tone all of the time, was that Willow and Oz had officially become an item and had gone out on an actual date – this was a bittersweet moment for Xander in that not only was Willow finally coming into her own as both a woman and, well, a woman, but it also a sign to him that he may eventually have to let go of her, or at least learn how to share (he was a selfish bastard like that, sometimes). He had, of course, taken Oz off to the side and threatened the werewolf good and proper, using terms like ‘castration’, ‘evisceration’, and ‘de-furring’, but it was apparent in the musician’s eyes that he would hurt Willow only at his own peril, and those other things would happen only if someone did not get to him before Willow did, because then it would be worse. Willow had, at the Bronze, gotten him out on the dance floor and had one dance with him, never saying a word, she didn’t have to with the look in her eyes – Xander found it hard to let his Willow go, but then again, she was his Willow, and he was sure they’d run across each other again.

Buffy, on the other hand, was having nothing but problems in the Faith sense of the word – a few of the shots that she had taken at the Boston Slayer had apparently hit a little close to home and the sparks flew whenever the pair of them were in the same room and not killing something; Buffy had, after some insistence from himself, Linda, Giles, Jenny and her own mother, apologized to Faith, but apparently those apologies had fallen on deaf ears with the looks of pure distrust and anger that Faith was constantly giving Buffy when not killing something. Xander had, somewhat, tried to calm Faith down and help her through this minor problem, but he could tell that she was closing off to most people and he would have to do something rather drastic to get her to open up, though that had later proven to be unnecessary.

As far as training went, Willow was now hitting the harder magics, under the watchful eye and wooden rulers of both Giles and Jenny, and was not allowed to try out many spells not because she wasn’t powerful enough to try them, but because she wasn’t wise enough to know when to use them and when to leave them the hell alone – this was made very apparent when she tried to summon a wish-granting demon to possibly wish Jessie back to life, so that she, Jessie and himself could be a group again, but said demon, who was posing as a fellow classmate named Anya Jenkins, had resurrected not only Jessie, but he was a vampire, Willow was a vampire and he himself was a vampire. Xander had found it rather easy, disturbingly easy, actually, to dust himself, but had done it without his armor and with a flair that had even the vampire who looked like Jessie chanting along with him as he finished the lines from the movie, “En nomine Patri, Et Fili, Et Spiritu Sancti,” before blowing him away – of course, it was at that time that he turned and put a crossbow bolt into Jessie’s chest, but not before saying goodbye again. Willow had cried this time, both of them had, which allowed Faith to sneak up behind the possibly bi-sexual vampire, given the way she had been eyeing both Slayers and her human self, not to mention himself, talking about a ‘very fun sleepover’, and staking her – that had lead to more Willow crying and even a few hours of ID radio, listening to some of the saddest songs in Country and Western had produced by the year 2009. Both of them got properly shit-faced about the entire affair together and fell asleep in his lab, waking to blinding headaches the next morning and vows to never drink ever again.

He had, after much experimentation, testing and more than a few burnt digits, finally finished upgrading his armor to it’s current fullest potential in that he could take shots from angry Polgara demons, and had, and not even dent the armor, he could, at full power, destroy vampires with a trio of power blasts, but he also had upgrades his armor on his cannon arm and the armored fingers as well – he often found it to be better to not destroy a vampire just yet, so he often clubbed it over the head, but due to the armor’s strength enhancement, he often damaged the cannon, so he hardened the metal there and no longer had that kind of problem. The fingers, though, came from when, while out on patrol one evening, he found that one of his jumps wasn’t quite long enough and he was left scrambling for purchase on a wall even as he fell – he had meticulously installed retractable talons on his left hand now to give him something to grab onto now, as falling off of a building and hitting the ground not only put a good sized dent in his energy reserves, but it was also quite embarrassing as well. Outside of that, though, he had to admit that his armor was damned near kick ass and was quite happy about it.

One of the changes, though, was one that he could have done without – Mihoshi had, somehow, found out about his visit with Tsunami and what it entailed, and had given him ‘permission’ to see other people, though she had done it through tears and a bone-powdering hug that rivaled Empress Misaki’s in sheer ferocity and embarrassment in where his head was most often placed (directly between the breasts – quite nice, in most instances, but when Oxygen began to become a problem, it was difficult to extricate himself from said place without putting his hands in no-no areas); while he wasn’t exactly looking to jump into bed with anyone after this, Buffy had seemed to have taken a sudden interest in him that was inexplicable and, quite frankly, unnerving in how soon that it showed up after the announcement. It had been manageable at first, but one night, after a trip to the Bronze, she had started talking to him about something and, while he was distracted with a thought, had leaned over and kissed him on the mouth, hard – it had lasted for all of three seconds before his mind kicked back into gear and he pushed her off of him, asking her what in the hell she was doing, and she had told him that she wanted to see if it was capable that they could become more than ‘Slayer and her Xander-shaped friend’. He had shot her down as easily as he could at the time, saying that he wasn’t looking for anyone just yet, that he wanted to be alone, and while she looked a little hurt, she accepted – Faith and Willow rode her mercilessly about it for a week after the fact until Buffy made a challenge to Faith to do something about it, as Willow and Oz were a couple, but Faith had shaken her head, and stated that she would respect his want to be alone, that she’d be there for him as a friend.

That was one reason that he found himself at the Bronze this evening, alone and, quite frankly, enjoying himself even as he sipped at a concoction of Washu’s own creation – it was non-alcoholic yet it gave him the sense stimulation that he was indeed intoxicated on a very low level. He’d left the Scoobies at the Library that evening even as Buffy’s impending birthday party was being planned out, sans the birthday girl herself, who was out patrolling, saying that he needed to be alone for an hour or so, and had come to the Bronze to just get away, which is what was happening.

“Hey, Xand.” He sighed and looked over, recognizing Faith as she flopped down next to him – she was dressed in her habitual leather pants and boots, but that night had one a t-shirt and her jacket over it, “What you drinking?”

“Bethishval – concoction that gets you buzzed without the alcohol.” He passed over the flask he had it in and she took a pull off of it after sniffing it, and he was pleasantly surprised to see a smile split her face even as she passed it back, “So, what brings you here, Faith?”

She shrugged, “Not much, just a question.”

“And that would be?” He noticed that she tensed up slightly and hesitated, looking quite nervous for a second, which was a very un-Faith-like approach to life and found himself more than a little curious even as she opened her mouth to speak.

“I was kinda wondering if you wanted to go out some time. With me.”

He arched an eyebrow, “Out? As in a date-like way?”

She nodded somewhat hesitantly, “Yeah. Look, I get that you and your girl just split and all, but, well, it’s kinda hard to explain.” He left it alone even as he could see her trying to come up with the words to say it in, which came a few seconds later, “Okay, here’s the deal – I don’t trust men because of what happened to me when I was growing up. Mom turned tricks and her johns thought I was part of the deal nine times out of ten.” This caused his blood pressure to rise slightly, and not in a good way as a red haze began to descent over his eyes and his mind began to think up places to destroy in Boston as he went on, “But you, you’re different. I don’t know why, but I trust you, and … and I want to know if you’re on the DL or not, ya feel me?”

“You want to know if this is me or a front, right? Like I’m looking to get in your leathers or something?”

She nodded, “Yeah. I mean, sometimes it’s a ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ thing with me, but I wanna do this one right, you know?” She looked really nervous even as his vision cleared of red and his mind shook off the effects of the drink, “So, you know, I wanna go on a date, just to try it out.”

“And if it works?”

She cocked her head off to the side for a second and thought about it, “Well, if it works, we’ll try and work it out, you know? If you can’t tell, I’m kinda new at this, and I wanna do it right this time.”

He nodded, his mind whirling slightly, “Well, I can see the reasoning behind it. Buffy didn’t put you up to this, did she?”

Faith snorted, “No, she wants you all to herself as a trophy or something. Said that if she can’t have Angel, she should have someone who she can protect, or some shit like that.” This angered Xander more than anything, but Faith apparently saw it in his eyes and put a stop to it, “Trust me, if you would have heard the ass-chewing that Red gave her about that comment, you would feel sorry for her right now. Hell, I wasn’t event he target of it and my cheeks are a little raw from it.”

His mind drew up a picture of that act itself, of Willow verbally reaming out Buffy over the statement, and he smirked even as he heard a giggle in the back of his mind, a very familiar giggle of a goddess tree, “Alright. We’ll try it out.” He could see the joy in her eyes even as he held up a hand, “But, to tell you the truth, not only am I a little new at this, call me paranoid, but I don’t think we’re going to have a single normal date. I mean this is the Hellmouth, remember? You Slayer, me Hunter, things looking to kill us.”

She nodded, her joy suddenly gone, “Yeah, I get the message. How you wanna go at it?”

“Something simple, like dinner first, and maybe some nice clothes?”

She nodded, her eyes hooded slightly as she thought, “Okay, we can try that, but nothing too much, okay? I hate dresses, so nothing frilly.”

He smiled slightly, “Damn, and here I was hoping to get you into a full ballroom dress.”

She shot him the finger, a smile on her lips, “Yeah, right, when pigs fly, stud.” They began to chat after that, and Xander suddenly found that his funk was gone, and for once he wasn’t brooding about his love life.

(Two nights later)

His love life sucked, and if this night was any indication, someone up there really was out to get him – Xander had started off the date night with Faith fairly well, coming by her place to pick her up at six, but had met Linda at the door; his instincts had begun to blare at him to run away and hide in a very dark hole after she started to talk, but he ignored them even as Linda proceeded to tell him what she would do to his remains if he had the nerve to hurt Faith – she used words and phrases that made his flesh crawl, about how she’d remove his bodily organs in alphabetical order, starting with the letter ‘P’ and working her way up the alphabet, and quite frankly, he was debating the pros and cons of going out, sans armor, and taking on an entire group of vampires because them killing him would more than likely be less painful than letting Linda kill him if he screwed up that night. Once that was over, though, he swore to her that he’d do everything in his power to have his date with Faith go as smoothly as possible, and her ‘angry mother protective face’ instantly evaporated, being replaced by the ‘nice mother of the daughter’ face that was almost always there even as Faith had walked out of the back room, dressed to kill.

It as obvious that Cordelia had put her two cents into the whole mix in just the style that Faith was dressed and prepared – she was in a pantsuit that flattered her body in ways that leather could not, hugging curves and planes in ways that did interesting things to his heartbeat. The suit itself was a navy color, with the blouse a cream color and her shoes being nice suede with low, sensible heels, and her makeup was tastefully understated to only accentuate her natural beauty – frankly, she was an utter knockout, but even though that was the case, his eyes could see just where she was carrying stakes in her jacket, and a knife near her ankle. Closing his mouth and swallowing twice, Xander found that he could sum up the entire thing in one word, “Wow.”

Faith blushed at this even as Linda grabbed for a camera, “Hi, Xand. Ready?”

He looked down at his own clothes, which amounted to a pair of dark slacks, loafers, a white shirt and a sports coat to match the pants, and he felt slightly underdressed, which was odd as, since Halloween, he didn’t give a damn what people thought of his mode of dress, “Uh, yeah, Faith. Oh, uh, these are for you.” He felt like a total idiot as he handed her a small bouquet of roses, something Giles had suggested, and did his best to ignore Tsunami’s howls of laughter in the back of his mind – why she was there, he wasn’t sure, but she had been ever since he had taken her up on the glass of water he’d downed at her place, “Ready to go?”

Faith had nodded and they were almost at the door before Linda came in, demanding a picture, and once that was out of the way their night pretty much went to hell in a hand basket – the reservations at the restaurant were actually there, only instead of being in a secluded area, as requested, they had been put next to a rather rowdy party of older people who were celebrating a younger member’s anniversary, Faith had found her chicken and pasta to be underdone, he had found his beef to be overdone and as tough as shoe leather, the bill was late, their drinks were flat and worst of all, they had been outside of the place and about halfway to the borrowed car when a sudden storm sprung up and drenched them both. Once in the car, though, it was like a dam burst open and they both began to first snort, then chuckle, and then howl in laughter at the string of events, tears flowing freely even as they sat there, leaning against one another. After their mutual mirth had subsided, they went back to Linda’s so that she could get some dry clothes, and decided to meet at the Library later on that evening, but fate had other ideas in that Jenny, Buffy, Willow and Linda were all waiting on them and craving details, going so far as Jenny and Willow having brought him a spare change of clothes, just in case something had happened.

They were about ten seconds into their story when, naturally, the phone rang and Giles called to say that Oz, whom had been bitten by a werewolf the previous year, had gotten loose, which lead to a collective sigh and arming of tranquilizer guns – the group found Oz only after about twenty minutes of searching, but he was also in the middle of a group of demons who wanted him for lunch, so away everyone went into a massive fight that ended up with Buffy covered in demon muck, Faith and his clothes being torn to absolute shreds, hers more than his, though, and Willow being forced to lug an unconscious were-Oz back to Linda’s house, where he was chained up nicely in the basement, the owner of the home doing her best to patch up what needed to be patched up.

Faith sat next to him at this point, back in her wet clothes, as her jeans and t-shirt, which she had changed into, initially, were trashed, and he was still in his clothes of cargo pants and a button down shirt, mostly, and half-asleep when she looked over at him, “If this is how our first date goes, I’m not sure that I want to risk a second, Xand. No offense, man.”

“None taken – friendly outings for lunch and occasional movies?”

She nodded, “Deal.” They both sighed and leaned back against each other, but she then spoke again, “You know, Xand, I have a question for you that you’ve never answered.”

“Boxers.” She gave him a look and he knew that his answer wasn’t the right one to her question, “What?”

“How’d you meet that chick, Washu?”

He noticed that both Jenny and Willow perked up at this even as Buffy smirked evilly, “Well, the long and short of it is that she wanted to give me a medical exam and I obliged until she needed a … sample from me.” Oddly enough, he felt somewhat self-conscious about the entire affair even as Willow and Jenny began to laugh and Buffy smirked even more, but Faith appeared to not be satisfied.

“What do you mean ‘sample?”

“A semen sample, actually.” He wanted to go crawl out into the road and die as the nasally voice came out of nowhere, then the body of the ‘young’ Washu appeared on her floating pillow and typing away, “All he had to do was to let my magic fingers do the walking and lay there, but he got all prissy and acting like Tenchi about it, running away at the end.”

Faith appeared to take this sudden intrusion all in stride even as he began to slink away, “Oh, is that all? Hell, if you still want it, I might be able to get it for you.” Washu perked up at this even as Buffy snarled and Willow leered at him, Linda and Jenny both laughing delightedly at the turn of events.

“I’ll keep that in mind, Faith. So, cutie, are you talking about everything you wouldn’t tell them now?”

“Yes, he is.” He glared over at Willow, who schooled her features into her famous Resolve Face, patent pending, and he felt his resolve whither, “I want to know what you were doing when you were gone for that month.”

His resolve stopped shrinking and he slammed a mask on over his face even as Washu stopped smiling, “What? Why?”

“I want to know. I mean, you never talk about it and we don’t keep secrets from each other, right?”

“Wrong. I don’t want to talk about it.” He tried to keep the haunted tone out of his voice, but that wasn’t going to happen even as Buffy perked up.

“Come on, Xand, it couldn’t have been that bad.”

He stood up suddenly, pulling away from Faith even as he glared at first Willow and then Buffy, speaking in a dead tone of voice, “It was worse then you could begin to imagine, girls.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked out of the room, house and down to his own lab, ignoring the frantic calls for him to come back – he had a bottle of scotch with his name on it to help put the memories and demons that Willow had drug up back to bed.

(Linda’s House)

Washu had a sad look on her face even as Willow and Buffy looked at each other in confusion, Faith looking at Linda in sorrow and Jenny looking at all of them in a flinty sort of look, “Washu, what happened? Why is it that whenever we try to get that story out of him, he closes us off?”

Washu shook her head, “Because he doesn’t want to give you nightmares about what happened … about some of the things he did.”

“Washu, Xander’s hurting, and if we don’t know what happened we can’t help him.” She looked over at Faith, who had lost her own lost look and had her face set in resolve, “I mean, stud’s tough, but sometimes you need to talk about things to someone.”

Washu nodded, “Well, okay, but don’t blame me if he doesn’t speak to you for a while. You know the score, right? About the plot and all?” They all nodded and she went on, “Well, what you don’t know is that when we were on board of Mihoshi’ ship, several of the kidnappers had also gotten on board and Xander … Xander was forced to take them out hand-to-hand when our internal defenses went off-line.”

“Take them out?” Linda had a growing look of horror on her face even as the words began to sink in, and Washu could tell the woman was drawing the correct conclusions.

“Yeah – it doesn’t matter how you try to slice it or sugarcoat it, he killed people. The first few he hit with his beam cannon at full power and it knocked them out for a while, but not long, and when they got back up … he started using his missiles to stop them.” She shivered at the memory of the mess that had made even as Buffy and Willow both grew wide-eyed and Faith’s mouth dropped open, but Linda and Jenny, oddly enough, didn’t look shocked at all, “We were in space for about a day when the next batch came after us and we managed to sneak off, but only barely and taking a lot of damage to the ship, so while Xander was helping to repair things, I … I augmented his power beam without his knowledge or consent.”

“How much?”

Washu looked over at Jenny and hung her head, “Beforehand, the average person could take about five shots at full power before permanent damage was done to their body, but after my augmentations … the regular power beam, at full power, was capable of taking someone’s life with two shots, and that’s not taking into account the other beams he has on in tha thing. Ice bean would freeze and shatter appendages, the Wave beam would electrocute a person to the point their CNS would misfire and they’d go into immediate shock.”

“How could you?” Washu looked over at Buffy and the Slayer went on, “I mean, I get that they were trying to capture Sasami, but you didn’t tell him and he killed people!”

“You’re point?”

“They had souls! What about that?”

Washu found herself barking in mirthless laughter even as the others looked at her in shock, “Souls? Child, we were fighting for our lives – their ‘souls’ were the last things on our minds at the time.”

Linda held up a hand to stop the retort of the angered slayer, “Be that as it may, what did he say to you once you told him?”

Washu winced at the tone and as the memory of that tounge lashing came back up, “Well, at first he said thanks for the power upgrade, but after the entire thing was over for me to remove it and if I ever touched his armor again without his permission, he’d kill me.”

“Did he at least apologize about killing those people?”

Washu looked over at the blonde slayer incredulously even as Faith snorted from somewhere behind her, “What? Buffy, what’s this fixation you have with people and their souls? I mean, in your mind is it that if they have a soul, they’re good?”

Buffy nodded her head instantly, “Yes.”

Washu snarled, “Grow up, please. Let me tell you about people and their souls – it doesn’t matter one bit if they have them or not, people do evil things and if you want proof, why don’t you go find my former husband and ask him why he took my baby boy from me! Or don’t you wonder why I stay in this form?” With a thought, Washu transformed her child-like body into her adult one and glared at the dumb-struck Slayer, “He took my little boy away from me after his family couldn’t and wouldn’t accept me for what I was, so I regressed my body back down to twelve years old because, hey, I couldn’t have kids or a husband, so no one could hurt me that way ever again.” She fought back tears even as she regressed her body back down to her smaller self again, “And further more, it didn’t matter to Xander one damned bit if those people had souls or not – he saw his job, he did it without flinching and waited until he was alone and we were safe to go and get properly sick about it.”

Willow looked rather pitiful as she spoke up, “But why? Why him? Why was it his job?”

She snorted, “’Alexander’ means Protector of Man and he takes it’s meaning literally, Willow – it comes to him as naturally as it comes to all of you as breathing, to protect people however he has to, and in this case it meant killing. He never told you any of this because he knew how you’d all react, and now that you know, he’ll be expecting you to condemn him for what he’s done, but as a nickel’s worth of free advice, don’t be surprised if he dredges up something from your past and throws it into your face over it, some bad decision or call you made, because he will … and he has.” Washu turned away from them as the memory of Azuza’s reaction to what had happened to the would-be kidnappers was told to him and Xander’s reaction to that reaction came to her mind, but it also didn’t go unnoticed to her mind that Faith wasn’t in the room anymore, and the front door was open. “Before I go, let me ask you all one question – how far would you go? To protect you and yours, how far would you go to stop anyone from hurting them?” With that, Washu left the house and the occupants to stew in their own juices and thoughts, unsure if she had done the right thing at all.

(Xander’s Lab)

It was odd, he thought as the burn of the scotch shot he had just taken slid down his throat, that the Quelvian people, a race of one-meter tall penguin-like people that could click and whistle like dolphins, could have such good music – it was oddly soothing with the way the clicks and whistles echoed in the darkened lab, the ID radio going full-blast as he refilled the shot glass he’d found, and helped him put his demons to rest. He’d learned to live with the death and destruction he had been party to in order to protect Sasami – he’d long since managed to quell his own mind’s objections to killing, but every once in a while a memory of one of the bodies detonating or a strangled scream would sneak up in his subconscious mind and a ‘demon’ was born.

He had gone so far as to get into a light level of brooding over the entire event, something that Angel would have done, and, naturally, that is when everything went to hell and his privacy was invaded – a portal, not six feet in diameter, opened horizontally about ten feet away from him and out of it dropped a figure dressed in the remnants of a pair of pants. Xander was up and moving the second the portal formed, had a stashed mini energy cannon in the form of a Desert Eagle, one that Washu had given him in exchange for being a guinea pig for one of her tests, and had said cannon aimed at the figure even as the door to his lab opened to reveal Faith, “Stay there, Faith.”

“Yeah, do that, Slayer.” The accent was a broad Brooklyn tone and came from a bank of shadows off to his right, so naturally he turned and put three cannon rounds into that bank of shadows, which brought out a shout of pure indignation followed by three screams of fear, “Hey, watch it! Do you know how much this suit cost me?” From the shadows, dressed in the smoldering remains of a 70’s-era pimp suit, walked a man with a scowl, “That’s a fine howdy-do.”

“Who are you, who is he and what do you want?” Faith had taken up covering the groaning lump of person that had curled into a ball on his floor, but Xander hadn’t moved form his target.

“Name’s Whistler, and I work for the Power’s That Be. Soulboy over there needs help and place to stay, and you’ve been elected to give it to him.”

Xander didn’t even flinch – he pulled the trigger of the hand cannon and hit the ‘man’ directly in the chest, but the round didn’t even pulse him as Faith snarled and made to stake Angel, “Stop, Faith – how do you know he’s Angel?”

“I set him on the path to redemption, sent him here to Sunnydale.” Xander fired the cannon three more times on pure principle, blowing the hat, tie and half of the man’s hair off of his head, “Will you stop that?!”

“Why should I trust you? Screw that – get your ass and Deadboy’s out of here. I never invited him in and he isn’t welcomed here, ever.”

Whistler winced and held his hands up, “Look, kid, you’ve been given the nod by The Powers – don’t go pissing them off and saying no. I mean, you are getting you wish, right? You get to be a big player –“

“Playing nursemaid to your corpse? Fuck you, Whistler – you have to the count of four to get him gone before I tell Faith to dust his sorry ass.” He heard Faith give a grunt of approval to this even as Whistler held up his hands again, shaking them and his head urgently.

“What Angelus did wasn’t his fault! Don’t take it out on him.”

Before Xander or Faith could say anything, another voice spoke out, “No, he should take it out on you, Whistler. You knew of the clause in the soul curse, but you chose to ignore it.” In a flash of light, Tsunami came into being next to him and Xander wanted to run away very quickly at the scowl she was wearing.

Whistler’s face drew into a scowl and he looked as if he were about to say something, but whatever it was went away as Xander lowered the aim of his cannon, “Lady Tsunami, all due respect, I am on official business of The Powers – stay out of it, it doesn’t concern you.”

“If it concerns Xander, it concerns me – use your senses, fool, and tell me you can’t feel the Water of Life in him.” Xander blinked at her scathing tone, but also at the term she used, “He is bound to MY cause, not the one of your precious Powers – no poaching.”

“Xander, what’s going on?” He turned and saw Angel was one his feet, looking quite confused, “Who is she?”

“Her name is Faith, Deadboy – check her neck and I’ll dust you.” Angel and Faith both blinked at this even as Whistler and Tsunami started to argue over who he belonged to, “Now, get the fuck out of here – you’re not welcomed here.”

“But … I need a place to stay.”

“Go back to the mansion on Crawford.”

Angel winced, “But … memories of that place-“

“Don’t concern me at all.” Xander aimed his cannon at Angel even as Faith joined him, sensing at what was about to happen, “One.”

“Let’s go, Soulboy,” Whistler snarled even as he stormed past. Before they left, though, Whistler turned and glared at the three of them, “The Powers won’t forget this – ever.”

In response, Xander shot Whistler in the ass even as Tsunami snarled an oath and pulled her hand back, it glowing with power, and Faith smirked.

It took several minutes for the enraged Tsunami to calm down a little, but she did so even quicker after he quipped, “You know, Tsunami, you’re even more gorgeous when you’re angry?”

Faith snorted at the admittedly corny line, but Tsunami preened for a second before stopped and arching an eyebrow at him, “Were you flirting with me, Xander?”

“Quite possibly, yes. Now, what in the hell was that about?”

Tsunami pouted even as he and Faith took a seat, “The Powers That Be, the people who run this neck of the woods, are trying to poach you away from my cause by saddling you with that sorry excuse for a vampire.”

Xander arched an eyebrow, but Faith beat him to speaking, “So, what? You don’t like to share?”

“Oh, I don’t mind sharing his body, but I cannot share his spirit.” The flip, offhand way the goddess said it made some heat rush to his cheeks, but it also made Faith smirk even as she went on, “You see, they are now up to something, I can feel it, but I can’t tell what. I want you to be careful, Xander – my involving you in my plans is rather unpopular with many people around here, so your loyalties may be tested, not only to your friends, but to me.”

Xander narrowed his eyes, “I gave you my word that I would be Sasami’s protector and champion, Lady Tsunami, and I aim to keep that word.”

She nodded, “That’s good to know, but I want you to be careful, please?”

(Elsewhere)

The male Oracle looked at the female Oracle, his face drawn into a frown, “This was unforeseen.”

“For you, perhaps, but I have known this would happen since the dawn of time.” She sounded sad, slightly withdrawn, but no less disturbed.

He scowled at his counterpart, “Do not let your affection for this … this mortal blind your senses, sister. We need the White Knight of the Black and White Queens to fight for us at the appointed time, or The Key will fall into Lady Tsunami’s hands.”

“And would that be so terrible? Lady Tsunami is many things, and one of those things is careful – she would never allow such an object to be placed in danger, unlike what OUR plans are for The Key.”

The male Oracle sniffed in distain, “Regardless, he has taken up her request to be both Protector and Champion for her mortal form – there is little we can do. Alexander Harris must be eliminated and a new White Knight must be chosen.”

Had be bothered to look back at his counterpart, he would have seen a look of dismay and anger cross her features, “He cannot be replaced to easily, brother – one such as he are rare, even in our times. Two others exist on that plane alone, and none of them are worthy or able to handle such responsibility.”

“We must succeed – Lady Tsunami’s acquisition of The Key will herald our destruction. Remove him – Permanently.”

AN: Okay, I swear this is the last part for a while – this is all I have written out and I won’t post more until I have a plotline done. What do you think? Angel’s back, The Powers are after Xander and The Key is at stake – above all of that, the girls know some of what Xander did in his month of absence and, more than likely, aren’t going to be happy about it. Next chapter will have several breeds of evil, so be warned it may get pretty dark. R&R, AR.
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