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Hunter

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Summary: During Buffy's absence during the summer before senior year, Xander realizes that without a Vampire Slayer, they are rightfully and truly doomed. Luckily, he has a plan... X/F

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Pairing: FaithPsyckosamaFR181083,5406225393,63311 Apr 064 Aug 08No

Chapter 2: Even Rocky Had a Montage

Really, I don't know why we bother with the disclaimers, but here we go... All characters and situations belong to their respective owners. If they should happen to take offence to this piece of fiction, I shall edit as necessary, or if need be, cease and desist like a good little slave to our almighty corporate masters. Amen.

Hunter
Chapter 2: Even Rocky Had a Montage
By PsyckoSama (Psyckosama@gmail.com)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SamasAsylum/


From the outside, the Squeaky Clean Up Waste Management Plant seemed like any other art deco building in Newark, New Jersey. Well, maybe except for the massive brazier, but you can make exceptions for style. The buildings true face, its true purpose though, lay beneath its foundations, imbedded into the very rock that supported the city lay a Top Secret branch of the United States government: the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.

Special Agent John Myers could not help but feel a sense of impending doom as he pushed a large cart of flap jacks towards the vault that served as Hellboy's room. That’s not to say he didn't like the big red lug, hell, Hellboy'd been his childhood hero. Oh, sure, he'd thought he was a only comic book character, but he'd still been his hero. The problem was that he knew the big red monkey well enough that he could gauge his mood from his tone of voice, and if the way HB'd sounded this morning was any hint, he was in for one hell of a morning.

John absently tugged at his tie as he pushed the cart through the threshold. Sitting on his custom pickup truck rear end turned bed, sat Hellboy. Very much the image of the stereotypical demon, Hellboy was a full seven foot tall, nearly three feet wide at the shoulders, and had to weigh over 350 pounds. If his size was not enough, bright red skin, tail, horns, and massive stone right hand were also one hell of a give away.

"Hey, Myers! Just the man I was lookin' to see!" Hellboy exclaimed and he put down the belt sander he used to grind down his horns, "Oh, pancakes! Come on, sit down... I'll let you have a short stack!"

Myers gulped. Hellboy never shared his breakfast unless he wanted you to do him a favor, and considering their line of work... Yeah, he was screwed.

"Somethin' wrong Jonny-boy?" Hellboy asked him with a toothy grin.

"Nothing," John relented with a sigh as he sat down on Red's bed.

"Great!" Hellboy replied, "Because I need you to do me a favor..."

John sighed once again. The fish was right, he was easy.

"What do you need?" he sighed.

Hellboy sat back and pulled over an old weathered photo album. John glanced over as Hellboy began to thumb though the pages. Pictures of Hellboy as a child, Hellboy and several famous people, Hellboy and his late father... just for a moment, he felt a bit closer to his demonic comrade.

"Here we go," Hellboy stated as he stopped flicking and turned the book over to John. "This page."

The FBI agent looked down, into the book. On the aforementioned page were two faded images of Hellboy posing with friends. The first was Hellboy with a statuesque redhead. The second, with a rather morose looking man with black hair. It surprised him how happy and young his friend looked in both images.

"Who's the girl," John asked with a smirk, "Old girl friend?"

Hellboy smiled slightly, "First crush... but this isn't about her. Its about Angel."

John blinked. He guessed the other guy was Angel, but if the obvious age of the photograph was any hint, then that man had to be at least be in his seventies by now.

"I take it that’s the man in the other picture?"

Hellboy grinned, "How long did it take you to figure that one out, Boy Scout?"

"Har-de-har. Who is he?"

"He's a Vampire."

John scowled. "Aren’t vampires blood thirsty demonically possessed corpses who lack all moral compass?"

"Not this one," Hellboy replied, "He was cursed with a soul."

"So," John asked with a sigh, "What do you want me to do?"

"I want you to check up on him. He was like an uncle to me as a kid. He helped me see past the mirror, helped me realize that this..." Hellboy waved his flesh and blood hand in front of his face to bring attention to his demonic vestige, "...isn't all there is to it. I want you to check up on him. I've heard some nasty rumors, and I owe him at least that much..."

John smiled slightly. He remembered how his own uncle had taken him in and raised him as his own. If this vampire was like an uncle to Hellboy, he'd do it. He owed his big red buddy at least that much. "Okay, where am I going?"

"Sunnydale," Hellboy replied.

John winced. Yeah, there was a catch, he knew it...

"Don't worry buddy," Hellboy stated as he slapped his friend on the back with his stone hand, almost knocking John off of the bed. "Its nothing you can't handle, besides, its not like we'd send anyone to a Hellmouth without backup."

John glanced over. "So this is approved?"

Hellboy nodded, "Yep. Already got Kate to sign the orders. Just wanted to make sure you're fine with it before I filed them."

"Alright," John sighed. "Who are you sending with me?"

"Mulder and Scully. You're the senior agent on this one."

John repressed a groan. He knew them. Former FBI X-Files investigators, transferred to the BRPD after the whole ordeal in Russia. Plenty of field experience, none of it with the BPRD.

"So you're sending three green agents to the Hellmouth?"

Hellboy grinned, "Don't worry. You did just fine in Russia, and they've been dealing with this stuff for years. You'll do alright."

"Great," he sighed. What could be worse?

"Oh, yeah..." Hellboy added, "There are some others groups operating in the area. Make sure to check your fire, and if you see anyone in tweed, report in immediately."

John winced. He needed learn to keep his big mouth... brain... what ever, shut.

------------- -------------

Jack O'Toole smirked as he walked down the streets of his home town. Sunnydale, lovely Sunnydale. He could just taste his plans for the night. Hang out with the gang, get drunk, get laid, maybe beat someone up. It was a good plan. Damn good plan...

Jack scowled for a moment, his train of thought broken as a chill went up his spine. Was he being followed?

Jack glanced over his shoulder and shrugged. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a dirty old street. Cars, trash, and a cardboard box. Nothing out of the ordinary...

Shrugging it off, he continued to walk. Yeah, he'd call Bob, Dickie, and Parker once he got home. Maybe stop by the Bronze... sure the drinks sucked, but there was plenty of hot Jailbait to tap. He'd get one of the little sluts a drink, get her drunk, and get her sweet ass to the Downtown Apartments. He'd hit that shit, let her fall asleep, and run off with her purse. Heh. Love and money... God, he was a genius...

Jack paused as another chill went up his spine. Turning around, he once again saw nothing. Dirt, street, trash, cars, cardboard box... man, what was with all the fucking boxes?

With a shrug, he onces again turned about and began walking, and again, he felt another chill run up his spine. He started to turn around, but this time, he didn't quite make it. He felt a pair of hands grab him, one twisting his arm around, locking him in place, while the other twisted him into a painful head lock.

"What the fuck!" Jack exclaimed as he gasped for air, "You're breaking my fucking neck!"

"Not yet," growled his assailant, "But if you don’t tell me exactly what I want to know, I just might."

To make a point, he jerked Jack's head. The young criminal winced back a yelp of pain as his vertebra creaked from the stain.

"Fine, what the fuck do you want to know!"

"I need an ID," he replied, "You know people who could get me one." It was not a question.

"What the fuck!?" Jack exclaimed, "All this for a fucking fake ID? Shit, I'd have just told you!"

"I need one that can pass serious inspection. I'm not just looking for drinks here."

"Alright. Joe at the DMV. He's the old black guy with the lazy eye. He can set you up for 100 bucks. Just don't tell him who sent you, okay?" Jack whined.

"Thanks."

In a flash jack felt his feet being kicked out from under him, and barely had time to cry out in shock as the pavement rushed up to meet him. After that, all was darkness.

He woke up in the hospital two hours later with a splitting headache.

------------- -------------

Ethan Rayne smiled as he heard a gentle knock on his front door. Glancing at the clock, he couldn't help but smile. Five in the afternoon. Unlike her sometimes intimidating but comically inclined companions, the neophyte witch apparently hadn't been raised in a barn by the animals.

"Hello!" Ethan said with a smile as he opened his front door.

"Hell, Mr. Rayne," Willow stammered, nervously glancing back and forth.

Ethan stepped to the side, letting the girl enter and calmly closed the door behind her.

"One important thing, Willow," Ethan stated off the top, "Mr. Rayne was my father. I am either Ethan or Rayne."

"Alright, Ethan," Willow replied nervously.

"Is there something wrong?" Ethan asked the girl.

"Sorry," Willow muttered, "I'm just a bit nervous. I can't help but think of the whole Halloween thing... that was pretty evil..."

Ethan sighed and sat down on his couch. "It was not evil," he stated clearly, "It was actually rather neutral."

"But all those kids turned into demons..." Willow protested.

"Yes, true, but you do remember that there were no serious injuries, that in fact, despite the number of little monsters running around, there were no fatalities, something I am sure has never happened before in Sunnydale"

"Well, we were keeping things under control..." Willow replied.

"With a ghost, a noblewoman, and a soldier?" Ethan countered with an infuriating smirk.

"Yes..." Willow meekly responded.

"I take it you didn't notice all the police, the white hatted cowboy, knight, soldiers, and super hero costumes I sold."

"But if you wanted chaos, why sell good-guy costumes? I mean, don't heroes fight for peace, justice and order while bad guys blow things up and make messes and chaos and all that insanity..."

Ethan sighed, "Chaos is change, my dear. My objective was to add some spice to life with the unexpected, not to further the goals of the forces of evil or what ever black and white clap-trap Ripper has been feeding you. You must understand that chaos where evil dominates isn't chaos, it is carnage. The same is true with all good and no evil. You just end up with some stagnant happy land where everyone is smoking weed all the time. And that, my dear, is boring; and I abhor boring."

"Besides," he continued, "The locals here are too goddamn sedate, and I thought that maybe a nice kick in the arse might be needed. Could open their eyes, could make them pull their heads from the mud. I didn't know, and frankly, I couldn't care less why they've decided to ignore reality. Playing possum while monsters eat them? That’s their decision, not mine."

Willow blinked and smiled. "You mean you did it for a GOOD reason?"

"No," Ethan replied, "I did it because it was fun, because it was unexpected. The possibility of opening the eyes of these blind idiots was only a boon, not the objective."

Willow scowled, "I see..."

Ethan grinned, "Now, did you bring what I told you to bring?"

Willow blinked, "You mean a picture of the school bully?"

"Yes," Ethan replied, "I am going to be teaching you a spell tonight."

"Really?" Willow's face lit up. "But I thought we were going to be working on Xander's transformation..."

"Oh, we will..." Ethan responded with an impish grin, "But I do wish to teach you some practical knowledge."

"Okay, but why did you need a picture of Larry?" Willow asked again.

"This boy tormented you throughout your childhood, correct?" Ethan asked.

Willow nodded with a scowl. "Yeah, he always used to make fun of me, call me a nerd. And he always pushed around Xander and Jesse and was mean to them..."

"Then, wouldn't you say some revenge is in order?" Ethan asked with a gleeful smile on his lips.

Willow recoiled, "I don't want to cast a curse on him... curses are bad."

Ethan grinned like a shark. "But my dear, we will not be casting a curse. Technically, we'll be casting a love spell."

Willow winced. "That’s even worse..."

"Oh, don't worry," Ethan replied, "It is a VERY weak one. All it does is cause the subject of the spell to have vivid and sexual dreams about the other target or targets of the spell..."

"But why would I want to give him naughty dreams?" Willow wondered aloud. "And how would that be revenge?"

"You told me that this Larry is very macho, a real ladies man, correct?" Ethan asked the red-head.

Willow thought about it for a moment. "Well, he has gone out with half the cheerleading squad..."

"Yes," Ethan responded, "And that’s why the subjects of the spell will be the entire defensive lineup of the San Francisco 49ers."

"You mean we're going to make him have naughty sex dreams about a football team!?" Willow squealed as her face began to match the color of her hair.

"Exactly!" Ethan exclaimed, "Now, he's either going to be waking up in cold sweats every night, or this might drive the macho little git out of the closet. The fun is in the mischief... well, that and tormenting him with 49ers paraphernalia."

"Alright," Willow smiled, "What do we need to cast this?"

"I already have the spell prepared, I only need the final material component."

"And that is?" Willow asked with a mischievous gleam in her eyes.

"The photograph, just sign his name on the back," Ethan replied with a hint of condescension. "You see, all that primitive paranoia about photographs stealing your soul does have a small element of truth. When combined with the power of your true name."

"Really?" Willow asked, a bit put off by the idea. "You mean you can cast a spell on someone just using their picture?"

"Only very weak ones. A simple protection spell or charm will keep you safe from such low level magical trickery," Ethan said with a shrug.

"I'm surprised you're telling me this," Willow replied, "I mean you're all Mr. Prankster mage and you're telling me how to protect myself against pranks..."

Ethan laughed, "What I am telling you are things that any semi-responsible, or failing that, semi-capable mage will tell all their students. Besides," he stated with a predatory grin, "I don't use such pedestrian tricks. You'll need more than a protective charm to defend against me if you do annoy me enough to pull a prank on you..."

Willow gulped.

"Relax," Ethan winked. "Now lets go curse this bully of yours..."

Ethan calmly stood and led the girl over to his dining room table where a rune inscribed circle was already drawn. Off to the side, a note pad lay with a photograph of the 49ers sitting on top of it.

"Just follow the instructions and I'll help walk you through it if you need me."

Willow nodded. "Okay... this isn't going to be hard, is it?"

"Not at all," Ethan replied, "In fact I'd say this spell is probably below your talents."

Willow looked down at the instructions and scowled a bit. It was below her talents. It was a beginner's spell. Nothing really worth worrying about. For a moment she felt a bit insulted that he considered it necessary for her to go through with it, but she guessed he was just trying to gauge her talents.

"It's easy," Willow complained.

Ethan smiled, looking the girl in the eyes. "The point of this little exercise is to make you think about how much you can do with magic rather than how much magic you can use."

"I don't understand."

"This is a lesson in flexibility and application. You see, the secret to magic isn't using the largest spell for the most impressive effect, but rather, using a little power to great effect. Now do you understand."

Willow nodded, "So you're trying to show me that unconventional use of a weaker spell can sometimes have the same desired effect as a more powerful one?"

"Exactly!" Ethan exclaimed.

Willow smiled and sat down at the table. "So I guess I should start casting?"

He nodded.

Willow glanced at the pad and looked back to the circle. Quickly, she arranged the photographs inside the circle, and placed a small crystal figurine in the center.

"By Cupid arrow and Aphrodite's will
Bind them to my chosen as if by seams
Let not their heart, nor soul be still.
He shall find no rest in his dreams"


With a flash, the two photographs were consumed by pink balefire, and the small glass ornament began to glow with an inner light.

"Is that it?" Willow asked.

"Yes," Ethan replied proudly. "We'll see what happens, Willow. The spell will run its course and end by the next full moon, or until that bauble is broken. Which ever comes first."

"So... So what now?"

Ethan sat across the table from the girl. "Now you help with this bloody substitute Slayer mess." He sighed, "Its actually a rather direct spell. Problem is I've come to a bit of a bloody difficult impasse."

"Oh?"

"Using these samples it should be rather easy to bind and activate the powers. Problem is that for a transformation spell of that caliber you need to anchor it within a physical item. Usually something related to the spell its self or what ever deity you're drawing from. It stabilizes the effect. With something like this it usually has some kind of proximity issue. If you're too far from the focus, the spell weakens. If the focus is destroyed, it ends. The difficulty here though, is that this whole Fish Man bit isn't bloody magical. Spell's going to bloody activate it."

"You mean Xander'll turn into a fish?!" Willow exclaimed.

"No, I'm going to make sure he stays human. It's what I was hired to do," Ethan replied indignity, "Problem is that if the spell anchor is destroyed or lost, the spell keeping him human will fade and he'll turn into the bloody Creature from the Black Lagoon."

Willow winced. "So how can I help? I mean, I don't want Xander turning into a fish. It was all scary the first time, and those fish men are icky..."

"What I need," Ethan interrupted, "Is an anchor that is connected to the spell itself, is unique enough to serve as a strong focus, and cannot be destroyed or removed from his person. If I can't figure this out, then I'll have to pay back the money, and considering I already spent it on this month's rent... I really need to figure out this damned spell."

Willow paused for a moment. "Something connected to the spell, that’s unique, and can't be removed...?"

Willow leaned back in the chair and blankly looked into space as she considered it. She needed something unique, something related to the spell, and something that could not be taken from Xander, at least not without removing the threat of that funky fish DNA.

Willow eyes widened. "Unique... Related..."

"Is there a size limit?" Willow squeaked.

Ethan sighed "No..."

"So it can be really small, and I mean can't see it small?" she happily rambled on.

"I guess so..." Ethan drawled in confusion.

"Then use the fish-man DNA as the anchor!" She exclaimed, "It can't be removed without making sure he doesn't turn into a fish! It would always be there. It could even make his powers hereditary so they carry on like a family trait! So maybe there'll always be a fish-soldier-hyena guy around, kinda like a real Slayer! He'd be really tough, really strong, and all that without the risk of the fishy bits getting out of control or the easy to lose power core!"

Ethan smiled as he began to consider what she had just said. "Willow, if you can think of a way to bind it to his genes then I will do it. You'd need something much tighter than a normal magic circle though. Any ideas, kiddo..?"

"Well, I remember reading something about Indians using henna tattoos for some physical modification charms on the internet. Here, I brought my laptop..." Willow stated and she pulled a notebook computer out of her bag. "If you let me use your phone line, I can show you the site."

Ethan smirked. He could see why Ripper liked the little redhead. The girl was a bloody genius.

------------- -------------

Later that night, Larry Blaisdell awoke with a gasp. Covered in perspiration, the tall football player crawled out of bed and stumbled into his bathroom.

Absent mindedly, he flicked on the lights and looked at himself in the mirror.

"Wow," he though out loud, "What a dream..."

Grabbing a washcloth, he washed his face and threw the cloth into the hamper.

As he turned off the light, and began back to his bed, he thought to himself. "I hope I have another one just like it..."

------------- -------------

Xander Harris had thankfully never seen the other side of the Hellmouth, but now, now he was sure he knew exactly what lay on the other side of the gateway to hell. Hell was the DMV, and Xander Harris was in hell.

He was not usually a violent person, in fact Xander really didn't like to see other people injured. Maybe a good kick in the butt everyone once in a while if they needed it, but harmed? Never. It just wasn't in his nature. The DMV though, it was evil... After two hours stuck next to a fat woman with a crying baby, and an unwashed hippy who apparently hadn't bathed since Nixon was in the White House, he could almost empathize with Angelus.

Growling, and repressing a wholly unhealthy urge to rip someone's throat out with his teeth, Xander glanced down at his ticket.

He was number 225...

Xander then glanced over to the display on the wall.

They were on number 224...

Xander for a moment, Xander could hear the angels sing out in an immaculate chorus and it felt as if his soul was being touched by the infinite grace of God. For a moment, Xander imagined that this feeling was what salvation must be like, for he felt as if his soul had been lifted from the depths of purgatory and that release from this hell was in sight, just out of reach...

With a click, the sign changed to 225. Xander exhaled a deep, near orgasmic sigh of relief as he stepped forward, cocksure and comfortable now that his torment had come to an end.

Standing before him was a black man with a lazy eye who looked totally disinterested in his job.

"What do ya want?" growled the disgruntled DMV attendant.

Xander smiled, "I need an ID."

"Replacement ID? Fill out the papers and it'll be 15 bucks..."

"No," Xander interrupted, "I need a NEW ID, Joe. I don't know the forms, but I heard the cost is one hundred..."

The old man's eyes narrowed, and his voice dropped. "Keep your voice down, and how the hell did you find out about that, kid?"

Xander shrugged. "Beat it out of someone."

"Could have guessed as much," the old man shrugged, "Just be back here at 5pm. Wait at the back and we'll run you through after closing."

"Alright," Xander replied.

"Good, now get the hell out of here before you cost me my fucking job."

------------- -------------

Giles entered his library to the sounds of someone strumming on a guitar. Smiling slightly, he continued in towards the source. He had been planning to speak to Oz on the subject of his newly found divinely inspired abilities. After doing some research, he had come to the conclusion that what was going on was simply not possible. Watcher records clearly showed that just ordination or claims of priestly status were not enough to convey a blessing. It required something more. Something unquantifiable that gave some people the strength of will to call upon the power of the heavens and left others as demon kibble.

"Hello, Oz," Giles greeted warmly.

Oz glanced up from his place reclining against the stacks. "Hey, Giles."

Giles walked over to the young man and sat across from him. "May I have a moment of your time?"

Oz nodded, "What do you need?"

"Oz, I have been looking into the nature of your newly found abilities and I must admit that I am at a bit of an impasse. From the research I have undertaken, what you're doing should be impossible."

Oz nodded and adjusted a cord. "What do you mean?"

"There have been individuals who have claimed to be clergy before who have lacked the ability to create holy water able to harm vampires, and I did come across an experiment in the 1970s about these mail in ministries..."

Oz nodded and plucked a couple of cords. "Do you have to be a priest to make holy water?"

"No," Giles replied, "Divinely inspired individuals as well as those of great faith have been shown to possess the ability."

"That must be it," Oz though out loud, "Its all about faith."

Giles raised an eyebrow. "Please, take no offence to this Oz, but you have never struck me as the religious type."

"I'm not," Oz smiled, "I'd like to think I'm the spiritual type."

"In what way?" Giles asked.

Oz smiled and lifted his guitar. "You know that angels are organized into choirs, right?"

Giles sighed and nodded, "Of course."

"Music is divine," Oz stated. "It's the language of heaven. Every time I play, I pray. When they say you got to have soul, they're being serious."

Giles paused and leaned back in thought. The young man did make an interesting point, and if it was true. If he did believe that his music was divinely inspired, and seeing how deeply interested he was in the art...

"I guess you're a Minister of Soul then," Giles remarked in amusement.

Oz smiled, "I like the sound of that..."

Giles smiled at the young man. "You have given me a great deal to think about."

Oz nodded, and smiled thinly. "Glad to hear it, man."

"I do not believe I have told you this," Giles stated, "And if I haven't then I am at fault. In the past several months you have become an important member of this group. It is just unfortunate that your taciturn nature leads people to sometime dismiss you. This is something for which I am also guilty and I apologize."

Oz nodded, "I'm just happy to help."

Giles stood up and began to leave.

"Hold on."

Giles turned back to the young musician. "Yes, Oz?"

Oz strummed at his guitar. "Giles, what kind of music do you like?"

Giles paused for a moment. "Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Lead Zeppelin, KISS, and I'm rather fond of Spinal Tap."

"The classics," Oz stated sagaciously. "Ever heard of Wyld Stallyns?"

"Not really," Giles admitted, "I lost my interest in popular music around the time Love Fist began polluting the air waves."

Oz nodded. "If you like classic metal, you'll enjoy them."

"Why did you ask?" Giles inquired.

"Their first single does a good job of saying how I feel. If you like KISS, you'll like this song."

Giles nodded and returned to his seat.

"Lets hear it," Giles replied as he absently took of his glasses and leaned forward, giving Oz his full undivided attention.

Oz nodded and began to play.

"God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
Do you know what you want? you don’t know for sure
You don’t feel right, you can’t find a cure
And you’re gettin’ less than what you’re lookin’ for

You don’t have money or a fancy car
And you’re tired of wishin’ on a falling star
You gotta put your faith in a loud guitar

God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone...


------------- -------------

Xander Harris tugged at his collar as he walked into the Sunnydale Ammu-Nation, his new ID in hand. He had to admit, that old man did some good work. All he did was make a completely valid duplicate ID that said he was 21 rather than 18. It gave him a way around that obnoxious little California state law that made selling handgun ammunition to anyone under age 21 a misdemeanor.

Oh sure, he could buy alcohol with it, but really, after the object lesson in the value of sobriety he liked to call mom and dad, he was not really interested in partaking of the demon liquor.

Looking around the place, the small part of him that was Soldier Guy felt like a kid in a candy store. There were weapons everywhere and he knew how to strip, clean, and operate every single one of them. In fact, it was beginning to give him ideas. Or rather, the large section dedicated to various odd and somewhat demented book subjects, such as "How to build your own Bazooka", "Kitchen Demolitions", and "Functional Home Made Silencers", gave him ideas. He almost couldn't help but laugh. Maybe he'd come back here later on and start himself his own personal guerilla library. Make the war against the undead a bit less medieval and a bit more Viet-Nam...

"How you doin' kid," stated the man behind the counter. "Is there somethin' I can help you with?"

Xander mentally inventoried what he would need. He only had one magazine for his grandfather's service pistol. He had plenty of ammo and all the mags he'd need for the 9mm he'd stolen from the army, but a cleaning kit would be good. He'd also need to invest in hollow points for it later on because they'd do more damage to a vamp than normal FMJ round.

"Yeah," Xander replied. "I need two magazines Colt M1911. I'll also want five hundred rounds 45 Automatic. Hollow points if you have them.. Oh, and a gun cleaning kits for .45 caliber and 9mm."

"Sure thing kid," the owner stated as he searched for the requested items behind the counter.

The shop owner began rummaging around, pulling out two huge boxes of bullets, the two magazines, and the two cleaning kits. Running them off through the bar code scanner. Xander could not help but wince as he saw the price grow. After paying Ethan Rayne for that spell and investing in the fake ID, this was going to wipe him out. He was not going to be taking Cordy out for the next couple weeks, that was for sure. Still, it was worth the investment.

"Alrighty. What's the damage."

"$139.60" The owner stated. "Now, lets see some ID."

Xander sighed and handed him his newly fudged state driver's license.

The owner nodded, and handed it back to him. "Looks to be in order."

Xander nodded and emptied his wallet, giving the owner a rather thick wad of twenty dollar bills.

Taking the money, the owner quickly gave him his change, receipt, and handed Xander the ammo and other gun related items.

"Have a nice day now, ya hear?

------------- -------------

Cordelia Chase sighed in frustration as she waited in line to buy a Mocha. Cordelia was a girl who could comfortably admit that there were many things in this world she just hated. She hated vampires, she hated those fashion disaster shirts Xander was always wearing, she really hated the IRS, but right now, the thing she hated most was waiting in line to give her damn order.

"Hi, how can I help you," the seemingly disinterested register jockey drawled.

"I'd like a Mocha," Cordelia harshly stated.

"That will be four dollars," the server replied.

Cordy began digging through her purse. She knew she had a ten so this would be easy to cover. Once she fond her money clip though, she was disappointed to discover that the ten was actually three ones. Knowing she didn't have any change she reached for her credit card but winced as if she'd been struck when she remember that her credit cards had all been canceled.

Stupid IRS. Stupid daddy.

"I'm short," She snarled, hating the feeling of not having enough money.

"Well, sorry then," her server stated, obviously not giving a damn, "Next please."

Cordelia hung her head in defeat. Oh how the mighty have fallen, she reflected with some venom. She felt like a bum. In fact, she could just hear the rumors now. Cordelia Chase kicked out of the Espresso Pump because she couldn't even afford a damned mocha...

"Hold on," a man said behind her.

Cordelia turned around to find a guy rummaging through his wallet. Pulling out a five spot, he smiled, " I'll cover it."

For a moment, Cordelia felt even more humiliated. Here she was, Cordelia Chase, having to accept the hand-outs of complete strangers like some kind of beggar. Still, she thought, the guy was cute. Sure, he was dressed a bit like a dork and he definitely needed to go to a stylist. Though, she reflected, she was dating Xander Harris, a man who's fashion sense should be illegal, so this stranger was not all bad.

"Thanks."

"No problem," the mystery man replied with a smile, and a cute one at that. "By the way, my name is John. John Myers."

Cordelia smirked and paid for her coffee. "Cordelia Chase."

He nodded and glanced to the server, "Large coffee, two crawlers."

The girl behind the counter nodded, "Seven fifty."

He paid and offered one of the pastries to Cordelia.

Guy definitely wanted to have coffee with her. Not a bad looking guy, and definitely had that brainy mature thing going without looking old, but she had a boyfriend though.

Cordy shrugged. What the hell, it would be nice to talk with someone normal. Someone who was not knee deep in things that went bump in the night, and who wasn't an immature jerk like all her so called friends from school. Or at least the non-slaying ones.

She growled to herself as she remember how that bleach blond bitch Harmony had referred to her as poor. To her face. In front of all their friends. For that one, oh, Cordelia almost hoped that someone turned her just so she could have the privilege of ramming a stake into the bitch's blackened heart!

"Ah, are you okay?" John asked, breaking her train of thought.

"Sorry," Cordy smiled falsely, "Something unpleasant just came to mind."

Cordelia took a deep breath and accepted the crawler. Not her favorite, but beggars cant be choosers. She paused, winced, and wished that she could find the person who made up that vile cliché so she could kick them in the ass. It just hit too damn close to home.

Walking with Myers, they sat in a booth with a view of the street.

"So," she asked, starting off the conversation, "What brings you to Sunnydale"

He shrugged, "A couple of things. Favor for a friend, he asked me to look up an uncle of his who's gone missing..."

Cordelia visibly winced. There were a lot of disappearances in Sunnydale due to the towns rather... "unique" population. This guy seemed to be nice. She hoped that he didn't get himself killed.

Myers' eyes narrowed slightly when he saw her reaction, but he continued speaking as if he'd missed it. "I've also gotten a job at the local university teaching a couple of night classes..."

Cordelia visibly winced. Christ, was this moron trying to get eaten by vampires?

"Listen," she interrupted, "Be careful around here at night. There are a lot of... gangs... on PCP... who hang around at night. They're really dangerous."

Myer's raised an eyebrow. "I see... Thanks for the heads up."

"Oh yeah," she added, "Don't invite anyone into your house. It’s a local superstition. If you want to let someone in, just step to the side."

John slowly nodded.

Cordelia shrugged self-consciously, "Listen, I think its silly too, but you'll annoy some people if you do..."

"Okay," John replied clearly, "Gangs on PCP, don't invite anyone into your house. Should I start wearing a cross?"

"It wouldn't hurt," Cordy replied with an absolute deadpan.

John laughed. "Okay, so tell me about you."

Cordy took a deep breath and began, "I just want to get this out now, I have a boyfriend."

John sighed, and dramatically lamented. "Why do all the cute ones always have boyfriends?"

Cordy smirked at being called cute, but said, "If you want to call it quits..."

"Nah," John said with a smirk, raising his hand disarmingly. "Just kidding around. I have no problem with friends. Besides, you're a little young for me anyways. What are you? Twenty? Twenty-one??"

Cordelia flushed ever so slightly at the idea of a cute older guy thinking she looked mature. "I'm Seventeen, though I'll be turning 18 next month. Though really, how is that young for you? You can't be over, what, twenty-three? Twenty-four?"

"I'm twenty-seven..." John deadpanned.

Cordelia blinked. Holy crap. For a guy pushing thirty he looked young.

"So," John said after a moment of awkward silence, "Are you still in high-school?"

"Yeah," Cordelia replied, "I'm starting my senior year."

John nodded. "Any plans for after high-school?"

"I'm thinking LA. I want to become an actress," she replied.

"No college?" John asked.

"I don't think I could afford it," Cordelia admitted.

"You never know," John replied, "Though I think you'd make a good actress. You have the look for it."

Cordelia beamed. "Thanks."

"So what school do you..." John trailed off as his cellphone began to ring.

Cordelia smirked. "La Cucaracha?"

John shrugged and glanced at his phone.

"Listen, I have to take this call... It’s the friend I was talking about."

Cordelia nodded, "I understand."

"You want to hang out again some time? Its good to know someone when you're new to the area," he quickly asked.

Cordy nodded. "Sure, why not?"

"Here," He quickly wrote down his number. "Give me a call."

"Cool," Cordy replied, "And thanks for the Mocha!"

John nodded, and stepped out the door, Coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other.

"Bye!"

"See ya!" Cordelia shrugged. "Nice guy, a bit dorky, but a nice guy..."

------------- -------------

"Yeah HB, what is it?"

"How's the mission going, Myers? Found him yet?"

"I just settled in! Christ, Red, I'm still getting used to the weather. Hold your horses, okay man?"

"Sorry, I'm just a bit anxious, that’s all."

"No problem, and I do think I found a lead."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I met this girl..."

"Picking up chicks on company time? You dog you!"

"Oh grow up, HB, she's only 17..."

"Ah, John..."

"Yes?"

"You know that’s kinda... illegal. Right?"

"Hellboy..."

"Yeah, John?"

"Shut up."

"Okay..."

"..."

"..."

"So, about this lead?"

"That girl that I met, she knows about the towns paranormal activity."

"You sure?"

"Considering she warned be about 'gangs on PCP', told me not to invite anyone into my house, and recommended that I wear a cross, yes, I'm pretty sure."

"Good find, Myers! So tell me about this under aged girlfriend of yours."

"She has a boyfriend..."

"Never saw you as the other man type... Must be moral decay without my good example."

"I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."

"Ya just did, Johnny."

"Is there a point to this phone call, or are you just board?"

"Err... Well, Liz is out and..."

"That’s it, isn't it! You're just board. You really need to get out more."

"Hey! Screw you, Myers."

"I'm going to hang up now..."

"Hold on, buddy! Just do me a favor and keep an eye on this girl okay?"

"I'm not a spy."

"I know that, you're not a prick either. That’s why I asked you to take this mission. Give me a name and I'll have them look up what ever we have on this girl of yours."

"Alright, HB. Her name is Cordelia Chase."

"Thanks. I'll see what we can come up with. Talk to you later man. My second lunch just got here."

"Later, HB."

"See ya, Myers."

------------- -------------

"Xander," Giles stated as aforementioned young man entered his library, "My friend Duncan just called about your sword."

"Already?" Xander asked, "I thought it had to be sent to Paris and all that."

"No," Giles replied, "Fortunately he was staying at his home in Seacouver."

"I see," Xander replied with a laugh, "So, what's the prognosis?"

"The sword," Giles began, "Is a mass production weapon built for Japanese officers during the war. He says for a mass production sword it is of relatively good quality, but you could buy better from a good catalogue."

"Oh well," Xander laughed, "No going all Seven Samurai on the local Vamp problem, I guess."

"Duncan has offered to take it off your hands for several hundred dollars," Giles mentioned.

"My grandfather brought it home from the war," Xander replied, "It wouldn't be right to sell it."

Giles nodded, "I had guessed as much."

"I think I'll hang it on my wall," Xander thought to himself. "Maybe over my bed, just in case something nasty gets into the house..."

------------- -------------

"I have coffee," Fox Mulder announced as he walking into the apartment that he was sharing with his two fellow agents on this operation.

"Thanks," Dana remarked as she continued to breeze through some esoteric text.

Dana took a sip of her coffee and smiled. Black, just how she liked it.

"So, what are you reading?" Mulder asked his old FBI partner.

"Professor Bruttenholm's analysis of Vampire hunting behavior," She replied calmly. "It is really quite interesting."

Fox smirked. "You know, Scully, if I had told you six months ago that you'd be reading a report on Vampires and taking it seriously, you'd have thought I was out of my mind."

"I'm sorry, I went to the FBI academy to learn how to keep little old ladies safe, not how to properly meet and great with something I thought existed only in comic books," Dana quipped with a thin smile.

"Speaking of that," Mulder laughed, "I still remember the look on your face when they introduced us to Hellboy and Abe. I swore you were about to pass out."

"At least I didn't stare at his horns," Scully replied.

"Yeah," Mulder stated with a grin, "You were too busy showing Abe your gold-fish imitations. Really, I'm surprised the whole thing didn't short out your brain."

"Actually," she replied, "I found it quite comforting, once I'd finished... processing all that I'd seen."

"Really?" Fox asked sitting across from her, "How so?"

Dana placed her report down and glanced at her partner. "My complaint with the concept of the paranormal has always been the idea that there are things out there are able to ignore basic physical law. All this has done is open my mind to the fact that there are laws that govern reality that modern science does not commonly perceive. Working within this expanded model, things such as vampires, demons, and magic can exist inside the realm of logical possibility."

Mulder smirked. "You say that, but you still call me crazy?"

"Well, you see Mulder," Scully replied with a grin, "You are crazy. And thanks for the coffee. Where did you get it?"

"Place called the Espresso Pump. Myers recommended it."

"Ah, I see," Scully said as she returned to her report.

Glancing at his partner, Mulder grabbed his own cup of coffee and sat on the couch, reaching for the remote. He could only wonder, did they get the Playboy Channel?

------------- -------------

Xander smiled to himself as he stalked though the alley ways of Sunnydale. According to Willow, she and Ethan were on the brink of finishing up the preparation for the spell that would turn him into a substitute Slayer

Soon, there would be no more need for all this half-assed late night stalking. He'd be a full fledged Slayer type person, able to kick vampire ass. No more walking around in the middle of the night trying to trick a vampire into attacking him. He'd be the predator looking for vampires.

He almost couldn't wait. It would be his chance to kick some ass...

Xander spun at the sound of a foot on pavement, but was quickly disarmed and thrown onto his ass.

"Didn't anyone ever warn you about playing with pointy sticks? It's all about fun and games until someone looses an eye."

Xander's jaw dropped as he looked at the petite from standing before him. He could not help it as he was hit with a wave of conflicting emotions. Anger that she had the nerve to talk shit after leaving them to do all the work for three months. Abandonment that she'd just left them to die. Relief that his friend was still alive. And finally, a hit of depression that the substitute Slayer was no longer needed.

The real thing was back in town.
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