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The Winding Road to Destiny

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Summary: Yeah, I know -finish one before starting another... But I just had to do it! *big innocent blue eyes* This is a Xander's roadtrip with slash and plot. Three of my favourites all rolled up in one.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Theme: Road TripRivanaFR1818,8720113,28115 Jan 0515 Jan 05No
Disclaimer: Well this here is fanfiction, just a spot of fun for us fans now that the series’ over and done with. There is no money being made, no glory stolen, no malice intended. Jepp, that’s about it.
Pariring: Slash, but otherwise undecided.
A/n: This is a plot bunny my muses sprung on me a while back ago. I would very much like to hear your opinions on it. Does it seem worth continuing?

Xander gave up a deep sigh of relief as he passed the ’you are now leaving Sunnydale’ sign. A whole summer lay before him a summer of freedom from High School and the scoobies. A whole summer away from the slayer thank the gods. He smiled a little tightly at that thought, wonder where he had stopped thinking of the young blonde as Buffy and started referring to her as the slayer. Of course the moment could be pinpointed with relative ease. Ever since she and the others had started to act like he was some kind of liability. Buffy had done this for far longer than any of the others and the sheer stupidity of that girl…

He shook his head so many times had he saved their asses, hell saved the whole frickin’ world and they still had the audacity to think of him as a liability. True, he kept most things to himself, but there where still enough heroic stuff and strangeness to let them see the real him despite the masks he wore. He remembered everything from his night as a black ops agent on Halloween, they should have noticed that by now. Just who the hell did the think would be able to relieve a high security military base from a rocket launcher? He not only remembered his time with the hyena alpha in his head, he now had control of the beast and could use its magical energy for many a nifty thing.

For fucks sake he had taken a bloody hammer to the head, just how blind were these people?! And there was more, he still had control over the pack, though they were no longer as strong as they once had been, their magical spirits had more or less been bound by the ritual in the zoo, but they were still stronger and faster than he average human and were still bound to him. He took them out hunting on regular basis for vampires and the like. Now that he would be gone for three months he had commanded that they only go after fledges and such on the graveyards and on no condition were they to hunt big game or nests.

He sincerely hoped his demands would be honoured since he did not want his ‘children’ to die or get hurt, but he was relatively sure that that was just too much to hope for. He could not expect such obedience when he was not there to reinforce his claim as alpha. Oh well, it was time to let them go just the same. They were after all starting college in the fall and he did not want to hold them back. As far as he was concerned the world saving business was a volunteer gig and that was that. He would of course still be keeping some tabs on his pack, but mostly to ease his heartache. But on with the brooding.

Willow was starting to get out of control with the wicca thing he knew very well that she was practicing with the arts without supervision. He of course couldn’t really blame her since he had done the same thing for years now, but he was afraid that she was not as suitable for the solitairy way, she lacked control, self restraint and a zillion other things. What more was that she sometimes reeked with the smell of the black arts. One of the first things that Xander had learnt when he first started with the whole magic business was to establish control over what energy he gave away, that and a mental shield. He was fairly confident that no one could read anything from or about him nor would he ever be able to be possessed again. Two times was plenty enough of that experience thank you very much.

Of course now he could probably control any spirit that tried to invade his mind to his advantage, but a guy only wanted to share his mind with so many essences. But Willow, he would have to watch her carefully when he got home. A pang of guilty conscience passed his mind for a split second, it was a little dangerous to leave Sunnydale and its citizens to their own devices, but this journey was a necessary one. He glanced over to the glove compartment of his uncle Rory’s old car. He had more than enough money to last these three months fairly comfortably and pay for the classes, weapons and clothes he was now going to acquire.

Enough had been enough, after training and leading his high school peers in the battle against the mayor he felt it was now time to ease the scoobies into the reality that was Xander Harris. He had started out slowly over the weeks that led up to graduation, doing less of the cracking jokes business and more of the commanding and discussing thing. A part of him had at one point felt bad about hiding who and what he was from everyone, especially Giles, but that part was non existent now. He knew his friends and how they worked, intimately so, they would not take kindly to the Zeppo being other than that, he had seen it almost right from the start -another fighter had not been what they needed most during the troubling years since Buffy Summers had arrived at Sunnydale High School so he had obliged and provided them all with comical relief and a constant friend. He had however opted to work in the dark and do just enough to make sure that the scales were always tipped in their favour.

Of course he hadn’t been an expert fighter or spell caster when first he had been introduced to the nightlife of Sunnyhell and he had miles to go before he would ever be satisfied with his abilities, but contrary to popular belief he was not stupid and he had more or less changed his life from that day in the library when he had first heard about the slayer and all that the existent meant. From that day he had changed everything but what he showed on the outside. He had started working out with a violent fervour cursing the fact that there where no martial arts classes available in the small town, he had had no other option than to try and study on his own using books and videos as instruction. He had taught himself to meditate and it was this that had helped him figure out a way to cover up his power signature as his skills excelled when he had started dabbling with the arts of magick.

He had been furious when the Hyena had managed to take control of his body at that zoo incident. Contrary to the scoobies’ belief it had not been the spell that had taken back control from the alpha but Xander’s own mind. He had not been as strong then as he was now and had had to work up the strength to wrench away the hyena’s hold on him. It had taken some time, during which he had been forced to witness all that was happening from within the confines of his head. But, all had been resolved and ended for the best.

The soldier incident however had been something of a heaven’s sent gift, he had managed to stay somewhat in control when the soldier had invaded his mind and had therefore been able to merge with this alternate character of Alexander LaVelle Harris. That had been a great asset he had basically now two lives of knowledge in his head that of himself and that of what he could have been had he chosen the life of a military. Since he had chosen to somewhat merge with the soldier the end of the spell had not taken away his memories. He had explained this somewhat to Giles by saying that maybe the Hyena incident had left some sort of mental mojo resistance in him. Shrugging it off like that had made sure that Giles did not explore the implications of this any further, well that and the fact that they had been rather busy researching another apocalypse at the moment, a moment which of course had been chosen specifically for that reason.

Xander sighed a little. Sometimes he couldn’t help but feel like a manipulative bastard, but he always came to the conclusion that those feelings were irrational at best. He always did what was best for the group that was his focus but it always to second place to doing what was best for the world. A slightly painful reminder of that was the Angelus incident. He sincerely hoped that no one ever found out about the lie he had told that day. It had been necessary at the time, but he very much doubted that anyone would be able to see it that way. Luckily Angel and Cordelia had left town the same time he had, heading for LA and new lives for them both. He honestly wished them both good luck, his opinions of Angel raised a little as he finally seemed to accept his destiny as a champion for the powers.

Buffy and the others always believed that it was jealousy that had him dislike the vampire, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. What was true was that having a soul did not automatically make you a good person, something that Buffy and the others for some reason or another chose to ignore. Xander always made it a point to judge people by their actions and Angel had come up somewhat lacking. He had improved though and therefore Xander had opted to head for LA at the end of the summer to establish a better working relationship with the souled vampire. Though still not all the way out of the dog house, Angel had somewhat proven himself and that had to be rewarded, not to mention that you shouldn’t fight with members on the same team if it could be avoided. If Angel indeed continued on his champion road he would be an ally and therefore had to be welcomed into the team. And of course the less time that the vampire and the rest were together the less chance that something bad happen or be revealed so Xander would work as a liaison between the two parties. Xander smiled, I love it when things work my way…

Xander looked at the road sign he just passed. Oxnard. Funny name. Hopefully they had a nice diner and hotel room for him here. After a few minutes he spotted a good enough looking place to eat so he parked the car and went inside. The diner looked like any other he had ever seen however the air of the place felt somewhat suppressed. Xander tried to hype up his senses somewhat and could now interpret some of the feelings in the room. Fear and anger being the most prominent. He creased his eyebrows in distress and the hair on the back of his neck started to rise, something rotten in the state of Denmark he thought with a inward sigh and here I thought I would at least get one day of vacation. With eyes and ears open he moved towards an empty corner booth, he sat with his back towards the wall and picked up a left over menu from the table. He cast one eye down to the text to see what to order then spent a few minutes with the menu in his hand while gazing over the gathered people trying to pick up some more fact about the situation. The feelings were constant and some words reached him through the silence. Girls…missing…blood. Fuck. That did not sound good. Xander lost himself in thoughts. Perhaps it was as simple as a serial killer. Unlikely, but that would make it police jurisdiction. Yeah, deluded much? Vampires, most likely. Although demons could not be ruled out at this point. Sacrifices. Gods. He really hoped that wasn’t the case he may be more powerful than he led on, but he was not a master mage nor a full breed warrior at this time. Right. Need more information.

“Hi there precious, what can I get you?”
Xander looked up from his reveries and placed his order. The woman looked nice enough, but her smile seemed strained. He put on his patented goofy, but trustworthy look.
“Hi there…Lucy… As a roadtripping student just passing through any news to be aware of?”
Her smile faded a bit before being plastered on once more.
“What news?”
Alright, so it’s a hush hush deal. Xander’s smile grew wider.
“I don’t know, just you know, news. Oh and also, do you know of a good, semi cheap hotel and maybe what goes on here at night?”
She visibly flinched at his last question. All right so night creatures it is.
“Well, Captain’s Inn is just down the street, it’s a good place. Owner’s a friend of mine.”
“And nightfall?”
“All right sweetie I’ll go get your food now. Be back in ten.”
She turned and walked away without answering his question.

Wow, talk about nervous. What the hell is going on here? He resolved to try one more question when the waitress came back. Then he would head for the hotel, pry some more and tonight he would hit a bar. Bartenders always knew stuff. It was natural law. He spent the rest of his waiting deep in thoughts, counting weapons and walking through spells in his mind that might come in handy if he should happen to stumble in to something. Knowing himself Xander knew that if there was indeed supernatural trouble in brew here it would find him. That was another law of nature. Xander Harris always gets into trouble, one way or another. He didn’t have much research literature with him if need be a good idea might be to find a church or convent, they might have some books that could come in handy. He very much doubted that the town library held any additions that he might find useful. Lucy returned with his meal and he stopped her again with a question.

“I can’t help but notice that the atmosphere is a bit gloomy all around. Is there some trouble in town that I should be aware of?” There, much more direct he could not be without flat out ask if there were supernatural baddies around. Lucy’s shoulders sagged at his question and he felt sorry for her.
“Hey, is something the matter? Wanna talk about it? Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger you know. Maybe I can help.”
At that she just folded down on the seat opposite him and started shaking. Oh Jesus, he thought, what did you go and do, you made her cry. You big dofus. Now you have to fix this.
He hurriedly left his seat and scooted in next to the waitress.

“Hey now, come on. What’s wrong?” She just continued shaking so he put one arm around her. She immediately buried her face in his chest and started sobbing. Xander held her tightly and made small soothing noises. Soon the sobbing subsided and he handed her some napkins.
“Thanks,” she said shakily. “I’m sorry.” She sniffled.
“Don’t worry about it. Now, wanna tell me what’s got you so worked up?”
“All right,” she conceded in a small voice .
“Good.” He carefully disentangled himself from her.
“Please have some fries while your talking. It’s always good to replenish salt after a good crying.”
She smiled a little at that.
“Thanks.”
“No worries. Now, let’s hear it.”

“It don’t know where to start.”
“Start at the beginning and work your way from there.”
“Promise you won’t think I’m crazy?”
He smiled at that while his mind cursed. Supernatural. Of course.
“I promise. I have heard some strange things in my life and seen even stranger. Nothing that you can say will faze me and I will not think you crazy. Believe me.”
“Funny,” she said and looked straight at him. “But I kinda do.”

He nodded and waited. After a while she started talking and his mind filled with dread.
Lucy was being stalked by a vampire who was leaving her pressies. Black roses, teddy bears covered in blood that sort of thing. Figures, they all got some kind of obsession or another. At the same time there had been no less than three girls gone missing from their homes this month and rumours were that there could be found some sort of symbols or writings in blood at the crime scenes to the police were doing their best to keep it under the lid. Xander swore under his breath.

“God damn it those nasty sob’s.” He continued swearing in a few different languages, some not entirely human. However, he soon came to his senses and locked eyes with the young woman in front of him.
“Lucy, I can’t promise anything, but I’m gonna see what I can do about this situation. I would like you to do some things for me though. Firstly I don’t want you to walk home alone after dark, or at twilight anymore. Also avoid shadows and alleys during the day. Absolutely do not invite anyone in to your home be it day or night. Whether you know them or not. If and when you open the door and the person on the other side needs to get inside. Simply step aside so that they can enter without you saying the words. If you have a plaque or a matt or something that says welcome or come inside or anything of the sort. Remove it as soon as you get home. Do not go outside your door alone after dark and I do mean outside your door. If you hear a noise and get curious, ignore it. Since one of your ‘presents’ was left in your apartment it’s safe to assume that one of your stalker’s minions have somehow gained access to your home so I’m going to accompany you there when your shift has ended and do a simple disinviting spell. I also want you to start wearing a crucifix on you at all times and carry a wooden stake and a vial of holy water. Ok?”

She looked at him dumbfounded.
“I… How…? I mean…who are you?”
“The name’s Xander and I deal with this stuff everyday. Now which time does your shift end?”
“Actually,” she looked at her watch. “It ended five minutes ago.”
“All right then. Go get your things and we’re outta here. And here’s what I owe, keep the change.” He dug out some cash and put it in her hand. Without counting. He knew it was probably one of the largest tips she’d received, but hell the girl could use some good times.

Well that went surprisingly well. He thought as Lucy left for the back room. Luckily he had only brought the kind of clothes he actually liked wearing on this trip. Dressed as he was in black jeans and dark blue dress shirt with his shades hanging from his v-neck he looked years older than reality. Well that and the eyes, they had seen so much and when he didn’t use his mask of goofiness or such they spoke of age. That’s why she listened to him. He needed credibility right now so he would not tell her too much about himself, for some reason he had learnt over the years that mystery can actually help with your credibility. If he was not mistaken Angel had used the same approach when dealing with the young slayer in the past. It was purely psychological. He only hoped that he would be able to resolve this situation without having to call for backup.

Of course he would if things got out of hand, he did not have the same qualms as some people he knew, if it helped save someone he would do a whole hell of a lot and asking for help was definitely not the hardest. Still he hoped it would not come to that and to be perfectly honest he wasn’t so sure that help would come even if requested unless the situation was somewhere in the vicinity of an apocalypse… Ah well, Lucy was coming his way again. He silently nodded to her and rose from his position. He met her by the door. As they stepped outside he searched through the shadows with keen eyes. Twilight was almost upon them. Damn it.

“Do you have a car?”
She shook her head.
“I usually walk home, my place is just a few blocks from here. I…I guess that’s not such a good idea…”
He looked at her appreciably; she really took things in stride.
“No I really don’t think it is. We can use my car for now then you must arrange for someone to start walking you home and if you work in shifts I want you to try and change to work only morning ‘til midday.”

They stepped into his car and he was grateful that he had just cleaned it at the last gas station. He sensed a little trepidation coming from her as she entered. Good, she had good instincts.
“All right you have to guide me now. Or maybe you would like to drive?”
She cast him a grateful smile.
“That’s ok, thanks though. For someone being stalked I’m showing a whole hell of a lot of trust right now.”
“No kidding,” he smiled. “However, it is not misplaced. Now, where’re we going?”
She guided him to an apartment building a few blocks deeper into town.
“This is actually not too far from the Captain’s Inn.”
He looked around as he exited the car.
“Good, then I can keep an eye on you. Hang on while I grab some things.”
He went to the back of the car and opened the trunk to reveal a few bags, he reached for one of the duffel bags and picked out a box and two wooden stakes. From another box he produced a small silver crucifix. He then proceeded to close bag and compartment and turned to Lucy.
“Shall we?”

She led him through the outer door to a set of stairs that they climbed. She lived on the second floor. When they reached her door she opened one of the locks and stepped inside. Only one lock, he would have to talk to her about that to. To his relief at least she did not have anything that told a stranger to come inside so whoever had entered the apartment previously had to have been invited personally.
“So you want the great tour?” Lucy smiled a bit nervously.
Xander put down his things on a small table by the door and smiled back in a reassuring way.
“Sure.”

She showed him the living room, the small bedroom, the kitchen and lastly the bathroom.
“And where did you find the teddy bear?”
She blanched at the memory.
“On the desk in my bedroom, I haven’t slept there the two days since it happened. Actually I haven’t really slept at all except for on my breaks at the diner. ”
He looked at her compassionately.
“Understandable. I’m amazed you’ve stayed here at all and even managed to clean away the stuff from your bedroom.”
“Actually, that wasn’t me, that was John, a friend I met a few months ago. He wanted me to come live with him, but I didn’t want to impose and I don’t want that creep who’s doing this force me out from my own home.”
Xander was duly impressed; this girl had guts, that’s for sure. Ok so she needed some survival training, but not everybody grew up on a hellmouth. After the small tour Xander returned to his things and picked up the stakes and the crucifix.

“Here’s a crucifix for you. I want you to keep it on at all times, never take it off. The stakes are made of wood and are used to kill vampires, just pierce the heart and that’s that. Make a habit of always bringing a stake wherever you go, see if you can keep it at the back of your belt, the other stake is your back up, I suggest you put this in your purse or something. Try and make or buy your own too. As long as they’re woody and pointy that’s really all it takes. Now I’m gonna do a disinviting ritual, please watch carefully so you know how to perform one for yourself should the need ever rise.”
Lucy nodded and accepted the items.
“Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome. It’s what I do.”
After this he concentrated on performing the spell slowly though he realized that maybe it would be better to simply write down instructions for her.

“Right then.” He spoke after having done the spell. “Do you have a pen and a paper and I will write down some instructions for you?”
“Yeah, sure. Please sit down.” She gestured towards the sofa and coffee table in the middle of the room. He sat down and waited. When she returned with the requested items he began writing down instructions for her. When he was finally done he looked at his work and realized that he had written a small essay on the matter of vampires and the things that go bump in the night. He returned the notebook to her with another smile.
“I hope this will be of help to you. Now, why don’t you tell me a little more about this place, the Captain’s Inn , stores, sights, you know.
They kept on talking for hours until they finally noticed the time; two in the morning. Lucy retired to the bedroom and let him have the couch to sleep in. Xander told her that it wasn’t necessary, but Lucy pointed out that she had to go back to her bedroom sometime and what better time than when she had a nice and big man to keep her safe. He had laughed at that, but then solemnly said that nothing was going to harm her that night.

The morning came and Xander rose early, used to surviving on only a few hours of sleep. He went through his usual morning exorcises, but belayed the running because he didn’t want to have to leave the apartment just yet. Instead he sat down to meditate until Lucy started to rummage in the kitchen.
“Would you like some coffee?”
“I’d love some,” he said and stood up from his meditative pose.
They had breakfast together and then it was time for Xander to start his day.
“Now, remember everything that I told you. The number to my cell is on the counter. Use it.”
“Yes ma’…”
He laughed.
“Good girl. I’ll be seeing you.”
“Thanks again…”
“No worries, take care. Bye.”
“Bye.”

As she closed the door behind him he waited until he heard the third lock in the door before he descended the stairs to start his vacation with a bang. First stop, the Captain’s Inn.
He watched the shadows on his way to the car and was not surprised to sense a predator in there. So, he had a sentry out in the day. He would have to take care of that. With a smile he grabbed his duster from the back seat and headed for the alley. It took approximately fifteen seconds to get the desired response.

“Well, well what do we have here, a little snack.”
As Xander drew closer he could sense age from the other creature, it was not a fledgling, less than a century old, but not by more than a couple of decades.
“I guess you’re Lucy’s admirer? Mr…?”
“Vendell. But you can call me master. Meat”
“And a conversationalist, my Lucy sure is lucky to have you as a suitor. Only I cannot allow that to continue so you will just have to die. Right after you tell me what’s going on in this town that is.” Xander moved quickly and kicked both of the vampire’s kneecaps out. When it fell he jumped on top of it, in one hand he now held a stake which he pointed towards Vendell’s chest and in the other he had a cross.
“Now. Are you the one who has been stalking Lucy? If yes why, if no then who?”
“Go to hell” the vampire snarled in full game face and slightly panting for unneeded breath.
“Wrong answer, pet. Now remember I’ve faced down William the Bloody and Angelus, you do not have anything on me and I will soon make you hurt a great deal more if you don’t start talking.” He pressed down the crucifix to the vampire’s cheek and smiled at the sizzling of the skin. Inward he cringed however; necessary as it may be when dealing with the creatures of the night torture was not one of his favourite ways of getting information. He removed the crucifix and wiped the smile off his face.

“Now, let’s try that again.”
“Yes, alright. I was going to make her my first childe!”
“Such an honor. Now what’s going on with the missing girls?” He could see a glint of fear in the vampire’s eyes at that question. All right so this had to do with a big bad.
“Belay that. Is there a demon bar in town and where is it?”
“Fuck you!”
Again the skin sizzled underneath the holy symbol and the vampire howled in pain as Xander dragged the cross from cheek to cheek.
“Any time you’re ready…” he singed. He got an address then. “And now the girls. Who has them, where and why?”
“The master has them and soon you will join them in hell!”
“Where are they?!!”
“Fuck you!!”
He used the cross once more, but judging by the fear and determination that he could sense from the creature there would be no more answers. The vampire only continued to howl in pain and anger at his continued onslaught. Xander spitted out some well-chosen demonic curses and put the stake through its chest. He rose from his kneeling position in the alley and returned to his car. He proceeded to walk up the stairs to the apartment and knock on Lucy’s door.

“Heya Lu. I’ve taken care of your stalker, but I suggest you still keep a watchful eye out and continue to follow vampires 101 guide.”
She stared at him in full-blown shock mode.
“Oh my God!! You, but I…and you. You just left!!”
“Well yeah, lucky shot he was standing in the alley outside. He said he wanted to make you his childe. I don’t think any of his minions will be back, but just in case you know, keep up security. Ya hear me?”
“Yeah sure. I…thank you so, so much. I don’t know how I could ever repay you.”
She stepped over the threshold and hugged him tightly. Tears in her eyes and a bright smile lighting up her face.
“That’s ok. All part of the service. Though next time, don’t step over the threshold to hug, makes me worry you know.”
“Oh, sorry.” She blushed.
“You be good now, I’m heading over to the Captain’s Inn. I’ll be by the diner later to check up on you. Have a nice day and try to get some more sleep.”

They said their good byes once more and Xander headed for his car and later the Captain’s Inn. He could use a shower and some clean clothes and a shave. Or, maybe not a shave. The shade made him look older and that may be a good thing for what he had in mind next. As he drove up to the wooden building with the old looking sign in front he tried to come up with a plan on how to approach this supernatural mess that was brewing in Oxnard.
He picked up his clothing bag and the one with the disinvite box and headed for the lobby. Inside the environment was one you could expect from an Inn, a good hundred years ago. The atmosphere was old and homey and a little gruff around the edges. Just like the man behind the counter. He looked to be in his early fifties, had a weathered face and piercing blue eyes, he looked like an old sailor captain alright. Xander smiled disarmingly and extended his hand in a greeting.

“The Captain I presume, I’m Xander. Lucy said this was a nice place to stay for a while.”
The man’s face softened at the name and he met the offered hand with his own.
“Yep I’m the Captain alright. Name’s Donner, but just call me Cap.”
“Will do, Cap. So, got a room for me?”
“There’s always room for a friend of Lucy’s, how is she?”
“Much better now. I’ve taken care of her stalker so she shouldn’t have too much more of a problem.”
“Stalker?” The Cap’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
“Yep, nasty bugger that one, but as I said it’s been taken care of. Lu could use some emotional support though; she said she thinks of you like an uncle so maybe you could talk to her some, later.”
“What the hell are you talking about kid?!”

Xander winced at the anger in the man’s voice. Obviously casual was the wrong approach when dealing with other people than the scoobies.
“Look can I get a room and an hour to freshen up? I’ll get down here then and we can talk. I saw Lu just 10 minutes ago and she was doing fine I promise.”
Cap hesitated for a moment, but then nodded tersely.
“Right, a room for you then. Number 12 is up the stairs and to your right. I’ll be here waiting for you in one hour.”
Xander nodded and smiled once more for good measure before heading up the stairs to his room.

The first thing he did once inside was to perform the disinvite spell, with a slight modification it worked on hotel rooms too. Or, should work at any rate, he hadn’t seen it tested out properly yet. Having eased his mind on this account he proceeded to take a shower and change into other clothes -another pair of black pants and a black t-shirt. He slipped the crucifix he was wearing to the outside of his shirt and drew his hands through his hair. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror he hesitated. He looked like a badass. Good as that was, maybe he should tone it down a bit. With a sigh he took off the black t and swapped it for a white one. A look at his watch told him that he still had twenty minutes to go. He placed his stake in the compartment on his right leg and checked through the fake pocket on his left that his silver knives were securely fastened to his thigh and easily accessible. Satisfied he grabbed his wallet, his keys and his key card and exited the room.

Downstairs the Captain was standing by the desk still and nodded as Xander emerged from the staircase.
“Hang on a sec and I’ll get Mick here.” He left through a back door and soon returned with a young, black man. “Let’s go to the tavern, shall we.”
He led the way through a side door and they entered the Captain’s Tavern. Here there were a few people present who seemed to be enjoying either late breakfast or early lunch.
“Booth or office?”
“Office,” Xander replied without hesitation. Cap nodded as if he already knew the answer and headed behind the bar. Xander followed and stepped in to a small office space where he was offered to sit in a comfortable looking chair in front of a medium sized desk. Cap closed the window to his office. Odd that, as if he knew that what would be said should not reach unwanted ears..

“Can I get you anything to drink?”
“A coke would be nice. You however might want something stronger.”
Cap raised an eyebrow at that, but said nothing more until he had returned with a bottle of coke and a tumbler with two fingers whiskey. He sat down behind his desk with the tumbler securely on the table between his fingers.
“Alright then. Let’s hear it.”
Xander took a swipe of the bottle before speaking.

“First off I have to ask you. How much do you know about what goes on in this town after dark?”
The Captain blinked and took a sip from the glass in his hand while he tried to get more comfortable in his chair.
“That depends, do you mean criminal activity or…”
“I mean the things that go bump in the night as my friends and I usually refer to it.”
“Right then, so vampires?”
Xander smiled appreciably at that. This would be easier than he thought.
“Yes, vampires. Lucy has been stalked by a master wannabe by the name of Vedell for the last two weeks. Wanted to make her his first childer. He sent her black roses, bloody teddy bears, placed one in her bedroom too, the usual bs. I met her at the diner yesterday when I had just arrived in town and after a small amount of prodding she broke down in front of me and told me what was happening. I followed her to her apartment and cautioned her on the lore of vampires and practical home security. I stayed the night on the couch so she would dare to use her own bed again. Then this morning I met up with Vendell who was lurking about in the shadows outside in the alley. I dusted him, told Lu and that’s that.”
“Fuck and she didn’t tell me of course ‘cause she probably figured I would think her nuts. God damn it. I never thought to warn her about those things. I’ve hardly ever seen a vamp in this town. Figured they had better places to be ya know. Wishful thinking I suppose. God fucking damn it, I’m such and idiot!!”

Xander kept silent during this tirade. There wasn’t much he could say really. It had been pretty naive to ignore the vampiric threat in the neighbourhood. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. After a few more moments of cursing Cap went quiet once more and now sat sipping his whiskey looking contemplative.
“You make it hurt?” He asked suddenly.
“Oh yeah…” Xander answered with a happy grin. Cap answered with one fairly nasty one of his own.
“So you figure the threat’s gone?”
“More or less. You never know, but minions don’t usually have enough of a brain left to avenge anyone and I don’t think there were any ulterior motives for stalking Lucy. Whatever is going on with the missing girls in town, it’s something else. And speaking of which, what do you know about that?”

Cap sank deeper down in his chair and took another swipe of whiskey.
“The cops are keeping the lid tight on this one, but I’ve heard things while working the bar ya know. Rumours are that there’s some psycho running around trying some satanic ritual. There’s symbols written in blood where the girls have gone missing from, but so far no dead bodies have been found.”
“No dead bodies or no dead girls?”
“I don’t know, I don’t have any tabs on the general police investigations. I just hear things.”
“Alright. Do you know who’s on the case?”
“Detective Lina Marson, if I’m not mistaken. She’s the resident badass cop in town. I doubt she’ll take kindly to any interference, but you never know. Why, thinking of lending a hand?”
Xander shrugged.

“It’s what I do. I don’t like working with strangers, but I need intel. Do you know the cops’ take on vampires and such?”
“As far as I know they only ever refer to it as ‘gang bangers’.”
“…on pcp. Yeah heard that one. Great. Do you know the addresses of the girls?”
“Actually, I do, one of the girls, Sarah is the daughter of a friend of mine.” His body tensed at that and he swiped the rest of his drink. “Yeah, I’ve got the addresses.”
He grabbed a notebook and scribbled down names, dates and addresses before handing the whole thing over.
“You think you’ll be able to do something?”
“Something yes, but I can not promise anything.”
Cap nodded.
“Sorry I can’t be of more help.”
“No worries. I’ll be on my way then, I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah, later…”
Xander headed out once more, he took one of the free maps from the lobby and after looking up the first address in the notebook he went to work.

The first address was an ordinary looking apartment building. The missing girl Rita Myers had lived on the third floor. Xander headed up and looked for the yellow tape that would mark the place of the obduction. He found it soon enough. He put on a pair of plastic gloves and tested the doorknob. Of course it was locked. He took out a pair of lock picks from one of his many pants pockets and opened the door without much ado, just one more thing he’d decided to pick up after his last time in shackles. He ducked under the tape and entered the crime scene. The apartment was eerily quiet and Xander kept all senses on high. He quickly found the blood markings and made a detailed sketch of them in his notebook. He searched the rest of the place, but there was nothing else there that seemed to be of any significance. Using one of his meditation techniques he changed his sight to find any magical ties in the place. As he had been afraid of the blood markings glowed with black arts energy, but what it was for, he could not tell. He really needed more training. Great, just great.
He exited the apartment and headed down for his car to go to the next address on the list.

The next stop was a suburban villa in colonial style. He would really much rather come here in cover of darkness, but something in his mind told him that time was of the essence and he had since long learned to trust his instincts. This was where Sarah Langston lived with her parents, apparently they had not wanted or been able to stay at their home after the incident. Since the location was so open he felt that stealth was wasted here, he might as well hide in plain sight. With this in mind he sauntered up the driveway and checked the door. Locked also. He worked the lock picks and tried to make it look like he actually had a key and just had some troubles getting it to work properly. Once inside he checked around after clues, but once again all he found was blood markings in the girl’s bedroom. The markings were almost identical, but not quite, a few were slightly different. Something tugged in his memory as he sat there and scribbled down the whole thing once more, but he couldn’t focus on it long enough to find its meaning so he decided to meditate on it that evening.
With a heavy sigh he rose from his position and went to exit the house to proceed to the next victim’s home. A Christina Delawere almost on the other side of town.

He arrived at the last apartment building just as the rain started to fall. Cursing he hurried inside and looked up the apartment number. He tested this door as well beforehand, it too was locked so he performed his unlocking ritual once again and walked inside. Looking down at his feet he saw that his shoes had left marks on the hall floor. Great. He stepped out of his shoes and hurried through the apartment, quickly finding the bedroom where he crouched down for the third time to sketch the markings. These too were almost identical, but not quite. So, maybe an incantation followed by some kind of data. Perhaps names or… Could it have something to do with the locations? He picked up his map and a marked up the locations of the three girls’ homes. As he sat and pondered the significance of his findings he could hear noises from the door. Someone was coming. Ah, well it couldn’t be helped. Patiently he remained seated when the sound of feet over floor stopped behind him.

“As far as I can figure out, these markings are all incantations of some sort, drawn up with the girls’ blood. I think we can be fairly certain that the girls are still alive for now since they have not yet been found. Our perpetrator must need them for something still. Perhaps as some sort of vessels for whatever it is he or she is conjuring up. What do you think detective?”
He slowly rose from his position and turned around with his hands clearly visible to the woman who stood in the doorway with her weapon drawn.
“Who the hell are you, mister?”

“Name’s Xander, I’m here to help.”
“Really...” Her voice was full of sarcasm.
“Really. I was passing through town yesterday when I heard about this case. It sounded to be right up my alley so I decided to lend a hand before things got outa’ hand if you know what I mean.”
“And you’re an expert?”
“On crimes of the occult nature. Yes, that would be me. Unfortunately I have no credentials for you. The things I do are mostly kept quiet for obvious reasons.”
“Such as?”
“Such as when the talk starts about demons and vampires most officials like to keep their name clean of anything concerning such affairs.”

“Vampires?” Her tone was slightly condescending, but there was a hint of fear as well that he would surely have missed if he hadn’t had amped senses at the moment.
“Yes, detective. Vampires, you know what I’m talking about so let’s not do the whole sing and dance routine where you call me crazy, I call you ignorant, you say I believe in fairytales, I ask what you classified your last bloodletting as.”
She sighed and put away the gun.
“We alternate between gang violence and wild animals.”
“Yes, that’s usually the labels. So, want my help?”

“You know, I usually like it when people first talk to me and then go on and pollute my crime scene.”
“No pollution, see…” He showed her the gloves. “And I left my shoes by the door.”
“Wonderful. Now you’re only guilty of breaking and entering.”
“Ah, but I didn’t break anything.”
She looked at him with a raised eyebrow as only response to that.
“So, you’ve got some identification and how much do you charge for these things anyways?”
“Well, that’s the thing. I don’t on both accounts.” Here comes the tricky part.
“I’m sorry?”

“Look, I’m a demon hunter. I do this because someone has to make it so that the normal people can go on with their normal lives, blissfully unaware of what goes on in the night. The only monetary reward I ever got is what I can find in my raids on nests and stuff. As for my identification, that’s the prize for my services. You don’t ask for my real name.”
Her eyes narrowed at that.
“And why’s that?”
“Many reasons, top one being that what you don’t know you can’t tell someone during torture. I like my privacy, it keeps me alive. Demons are a vengeful breed.”

“You want me to believe that someone would actually torture me just to get your name?”
“Hell yes I want you to believe. I have good friends who’ve been tortured for less and let me tell you it’s not very much fun to carry their bloody bodies to the hospital and wait by their beds hoping that they will regain consciousness. Standing watch by the door in case the bastard that did it decides to have a second go. If you want my help and believe me, you need it, that is my one demand. Take it or leave it. If you decide to leave it, know that I will still do my best to get to the bottom of this, but it would be easier if the cops would work with me and not against me.”
“I don’t know if I should be really scared or really pissed right now.”
“Sure you do and for what it’s worth I’m sorry we live in such a shitty world.”

“Yeah, you and me both. So, Xander huh?”
“Yep.“
“You think the girls are still alive?“
“That would be my guess yes. Although I do not know for how long so we need to get a move on if we want them back.”
The detective closed her eyes and looked like she was agonizing for a moment, but then she opened them again with a determined mask over her face.
“All right. What do you need?”
“Right now I really need to get to the convent and use their library to do some research on the ritual that these markings are for. I could use some help on that. Especially if you got some people who can read latin or any foreign and or ancient language well. Later I want to head over to Meg’s Diner to see that Lucy hasn’t had any more stalker problems and then I’m heading for the resident demon’s bar.”

“There’s a bar for demon’s in my town?!”
“Yes, detective and I suggest you leave it that way and in peace. Demon bars are neutral territory and good for two reasons. They keep the demons off the streets and are a valuable place for information. You should also know that not all demons are evil, soulless creatures. Killing them just because they’re different would be murder.”
“Ok, so you are an expert. Thank you, I think I’ll tag along with you for now and I’ll get someone to meet us at the convent. Are you done here?”
“Yes I am, let’s go.”

They left together, the detective idly talking in a cell phone. They took separate cars and Xander drove after her black sedan towards the convent.
The convent was a medieval looking building in stone. Much like any monastery he had ever seen. Xander let Marson knock on the large gate and let her ask for entrance and an audience with the father. It wasn’t until they had entered the audience chamber and she was asking for admittance to the library that Xander spoke up.
“Father if you please. We would ask for admittance to read your library on demonology and the arts.”

The father looked at him then with piercing eyes.
“What would a young man such as yourself know of such things?”
“More than I would like father.” He met the eyes head on with an unwavering gaze.
“I need to know about a ritual that requires incantations written in blood to be drawn in specific location with a specific time frame while the vessels are located elsewhere.”
“The missing girls?”
“Yes that would be it. May we see the library?”
“Certainly, though I must warn you that we do not have much English literature.”

“That will not be a problem for me, though there is strength in numbers so if you or some of the brothers would like to participate in the research it would be much appreciated. I have sketches of the markings with me.”
“Very well, young man. It will be our pleasure to help, this way please.” The father rose from his chair and showed them to a library.
At the library, a dim lit, stonewalled room, smelling of musk the Father continued through past rows upon rows of books until they reached the back wall. There he made a movement with his hand and muttered a few words under his breath. Xander’s breath hitched in his chest as he recognized an unsealment spell. As they stepped in through the now opened trap door the hair on the back of his neck rose.

“You certainly have tight security here.” He was duly impressed and just a little apprehensive. What could the brothers be storing that warranted this kind of protection wards. Half of all the supernatural security he didn’t even recognize.
“This close to the Hellmouth you can never be too careful.”
Xander just nodded, once again able to conceal his amazement.
“Why do you trust us?”
“I have a truth ward in my chambers. I apologize for the intrusion, but if you really know about the war of night then you know that it is imperative that we use all means necessary.”
“Not all means, father, but this I can understand and appreciate.”

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Winding Road to Destiny" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 15 Jan 05.

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