Disclaimer: Joss, WB, UPN et al. own Buffy and its spin offs. I do not; I'm just borrowing them.

Title: Hopes and Dreams

Author: Paradigm Shifter

Rating: R, I suppose.

Pairing: Buffy/Xander

Feedback: Please. Thanks to Hitmanhand, WBH21C, White Werewolf, TopQuark, Sedeyus and RobClark, Sherif and all others for reviewing. Glad you like it.

Continuity: Mark of Kayn, Guilt and Betrayal.

Notes: Makes no sense if you haven't read the previous two. If you haven't read them, use the author page to find them.


Buffy had been ordered by the Doctors at Sunnydale Hospital to do nothing strenuous while she was recuperating.

Which meant no Slayage of any description.

That, in turn did not make Giles very happy, but even he wouldn't risk Buffy after her recent brush with death. With Krystos running loose, the Slaying duties were left up to Giles, Willow and Spike. Xander refused to leave Buffy, so unless they encountered Krystos, Giles agreed to let him stay with her.

Not that he would have had much choice.


A typical night Slaying for Giles and Willow involved first bribing Spike to come and help them, initially as a target, then, once he discovered, purely by accident, that while he couldn't hit humans he could pound the living (or unliving) daylights out of a demon, it was far simpler.

Giles and Willow had a strong, fast person aiding them again, and Spike had a perfect outlet for his more violent tendencies.

Willow was becoming adept at fire spells, while Giles was getting in a lot of practice with a crossbow. He could hit a vampire at almost 40 yards now.

Vampires seemed to have standing orders to run like they had all the Legions of God behind them whenever they saw any of the Slayerettes. But still they came out, trying to find exposed people to turn. Unfortunately, the Slayerettes could not be everywhere at once. Many people were turned, despite every action the group took. Vampire numbers started to rebuild. People who were turned one night were out the next, looking for more targets to sire.

As much as Giles hated to admit it, they were fighting a losing battle. Without Buffy or Xander, they had little hope in maintaining the current numbers of vampires, let alone trying to lower the numbers.

After one patrol, Giles, Willow and Spike returned to Giles apartment to unload weapons and debrief.

"Is much as I hate to admit this, I hope Krystos moves soon. Too much more of this and we will all be too worn out to aid Xander in the fight." Said Giles.

"What about Buffy?" replied Willow, "won't she kill him?"

"I'm afraid not, Willow, she must spend time recovering from what Adam did to her, both physically, which is healed for the most part, and mentally, which takes far longer."


Spike opened his mouth. "Look, mate, if we don't find and kill Krystos pretty soon, we can kiss pretty little SunnyHell goodbye, cause every single person is gonna be a vamp."

Giles nodded morosely.


The Angel Investigations team were likewise going out Slaying every night, but with one of their heavy hitters out of the loop back in LA, looking into yet another Wolfram and Hart mess, things were starting to look bad.

Angel was regularly getting beaten into a pulp every night by demons who decided doing the souled vampire in would get them points with the current master vampire. Fortunately, he healed well during the day, but was starting to get worn down.

Wesley had been thrown into a large tombstone in a cemetery and was nursing a nasty bump on his head and a sprained wrist, while Cordelia now had a slowly healing triple slash on her cheek where a Koth demon decided to swipe at her. Angel had gone mental at that particular demon, taking its head by putting his fist straight through.

With Buffy and Xander, accompanied by his new powers out of the loop, the two teams needed to combine their forces, but tensions were high with both groups. Angel did not believe that Spike would not hurt someone, while Giles and Wesley also had difficulty working together, bad memories from Watcher days. So, to cure this, they stayed apart.


Sitting in Buffy's front room, staring at the screen of the large TV there, Xander was having a waking dream. He could still see the room he was sitting in, but it was overlaid by the vision of an Avatar.


On a small island, an Avatar stood.

Clad in the armour of Kayn, and wielding the Sword given to him by his master, the Avatar was a fearsome sight. The army he was about to face almost cowered in fear. Only the anger and righteous hatred of their leader kept them from turning tail and being cut down like dogs, from behind.

For not running, they earned a warriors death.

The Avatar moved his shoulders in an almost sigh. Raising the blade, he saluted the enemy of Kayn. This warrior deserved his reputation, for he had defeated the Sais. Saxons, the people who came from the sea, and ravaged the lands they found, decimating whoever opposed them. Raping, pillaging, plundering. They did it all, and this warrior had stopped them.

The warriors name was Arthur. He who wielded the legendary Excalibur.

The reason for his death was quite simple. Kayn wanted Excalibur. Why, the Avatar did not know, nor did he care.

The army charged. No more time to think, only time for death.

Men fell left and right. Blood and gore sprayed around bathing the Avatar and anyone who dared get near him. Those who got near died swiftly, those who did not died soon the others, and just as swiftly.

Executing a spin, the Avatar moved himself inside of the Britons shield wall. The Sword of Kayn cleaved through a shield and took the man carrying it in the throat, catching his spine, leaving a few tattered inches of flesh to hold his head on his neck. The blade continued on its path of destruction, dropping low and taking another off at the knees.

A spearman blindsided the Avatar, attempting to surprise it. As the spear tip was mere inches from the Avatars back, he stepped aside to the right, swapped the blade into a single handed grip in his right hand, reversed it, and allowed the spear to pass between his body and left arm, and once the shaft was visible gripped it bellow the spearhead and pulled forward suddenly. The spearman, unprepared for the sudden jerk stumbled into the blade, disembowelling himself.

Only a few hundred men remained to face the Avatar. Of the thousands Arthur had assembled, less than a thousand individuals now remained.

Not wasting time to return the blade to its proper orientation, the Avatar merely swung it while it was behind him, bringing it back round to the front of his body, and there reversing the blade to be held like a sword again. Three more died in the swing.

The Avatar had reached the legendary Arthur. Excalibur gleamed in the man's hand. Arthur had supernatural speed for someone wearing as much armour as he. Coming in swiftly with Excalibur, Arthur managed to avoid the blade that parried and countered, but just barely. Regaining the offensive proved difficult for the Avatar as he was forced to block blow after blow, the Sword of Kayn making an odd sound each time Excalibur struck it.

It would have proved extremely hard to see who was more surprised, Arthur or the Avatar when with one final almighty swing, which, if it failed would leave Arthur lethally open, struck the Sword of Kayn and shattered it. A small fracture appeared and ran along the blade quickly becoming a large crack and finally the blade split into small chunks of what looked like obsidian, and yet still sucked the light out of the nearby area. Even the chunks of the blade gave the eye pause; it just didn't want to accept that they were there.

The block, which would have saved the Avatars head if it had succeeded, failed spectacularly.

Excalibur continued on, through the armour of the Avatar and took the head of the creature diagonally, also removing an arm and half a shoulder.

The body sagged and collapsed, armour disappearing.

Arthur looked wearily down at the corpse. "All these dead from one person?" he shook his head. "Goodbye, Gawain, my friend. May the Gods have mercy on your soul." He spat on the floor by the Avatar, to ward away evil, and collapsed likewise, from exhaustion.

~End Flashback~

As full view of the Summers' living room swam back into focus, Xander knew with terrifying clarity one fact: Arthur ordered the creation of the Watchers Council after that. Only later, when they discovered one, did the Council take upon itself the training and control of Slayers.

He was very scared. The dreams did not come unwarranted unless they were to give him some grave piece of information. He could search his memories for things he needed, but unbidden ones meant big trouble.

I must be on my guard from the Watchers Council, then. Xander thought. Something is coming, and I must be ready.


In LA Coma Research Centre, Bed 224A; lay Faith. The bruising and outer damage that Buffy had caused had long since gone, courtesy of Slayer healing factor. The only thing remaining wrong was the irreversible coma she lay in.

Twenty-two floors below, in the lobby, a middle aged but handsome blond doctor walked through the door.

At least, his nametag and white lab coat said he was a doctor. He had never been in a hospital as anything other than a patient.

The man's name was Mr. Smith.

He had no other names.

He was a member of the Council of Watchers, and one of their most successful employee's. Mr. Smith was the greatest assassin the Council had under their command. He was the greatest because he killed without feeling or remorse, without fear or truly anything at all. Many enemies of the Council had fallen to his hand. Or pistol. Or rifle. Or needle, or whatever was required. He was inventive. But this would be simple.

The target was in a coma.

The target was Faith.

Entering the lift, he pressed the button for the 22nd floor, and stood back as the lift ascended. He pulled out a needle that was going to be the death of the comatose Slayer. It was totally colourless, and completely undetectable by anything other than magic. And since no one believed in magic, it was absolutely undetectable.

It was magical of itself. Distilled from the blood of ten different demons, it was lethal to anything smaller than a blue whale in doses as small as one part in ten billion. In the syringe was three cubic centimetres of the substance in its purest form.

The elevator went ping and stopped at the 22nd floor. Slipping the syringe back into his pocket, Mr. Smith stepped out, and strolled casually into the Coma Care Unit. Speed was not needed; she wasn't going anywhere. Walking too fast would only attract attention.

Reaching bed 224A, Mr. Smith picked up the file hanging from the frame at the end of the bed. He nodded. This 'Jane Doe' was Faith. No doubt about it.

Injecting the syringe into her IV supply, he beat a hasty retreat out of the opposite door.

As soon as the IV fluid with the venom hit Faith's bloodstream, she started to convulse violently. Her heart rate soared.






The Slayers enhanced physiology allowed her to survive the drastically increased heart rate. Then the poison hit her brain. All functioning was stopped instantly. As signals from the brain ended, so did Faith's heart and breathing.

The heart monitor flat-lined just as the duty nurse reached Faith; Mr. Smith gave an evil grin, hidden in the corridor as he was.

Now all they had to do was take care of Buffy.

The Council had stopped the transfer of powers to a non-slayer using a spell. Buffy now had both her powers and Faiths. A slayer squared. Yes, thought Mr. Smith, once she was taken care of, the new Slayer would indeed be formidable.


Buffy had expected her mother to complain at Xander's fierce insistence that he sleep in her room. When she got no argument, Buffy nearly asked her mother what was wrong. So, nevertheless, Buffy slept in her bed, with Mr. Gordo and her other toys, Xander slept at her feet on the floor with a couple of blankets and a pillow. Joyce slept in her own room, trusting Xander.

"Buffy?" called Xander gently.

"Yeah?" she replied.

"You're awake then?"

"No, I'm talking sensibly in my sleep…"

"Oh, OK, then." Xander rolled over and sighed.

"Xander…" Buffy sat up. "I'm awake, OK?"

"Love you, Buffy."

"I love you too, Xand." Buffy said quietly, knowing he would hear.

"Why?" asked Xander suddenly.

"Why?" repeated Buffy.

"I asked first."

"Why? Why…" Buffy trailed off. "Xander, why do you want to know?"

"Humour me."

"Oh. OK. I love you because you're funny, handsome, witty, comedic and about the best guy I know."

"So it's not a guilt or rebound thing?"

"Why would it be that?"

"I don't know…"

The phone rang. The issue was forgotten.

"I'll get it." Said Xander, picking the phone up. "Hello?"

~Yes, This is LA Coma Centre. Is there a Ms. Buffy Summers there?~

"Yeah, hang on."

"It's for you, Buff." Said Xander, handing her the phone.

"Hello?" asked Buffy.

~Ms. Buffy Summers?~


~We have you're name and number as next of kin for a Ms. Faith Wilkins in the LA Coma Care Centre.~ The voice sounded stressed.

"That's right." Said Buffy. She didn't know where this was going.

~I'm afraid she passed away at 1900 hours. It took us this long to find the details of next of kin. I'm sorry.~

Buffy was shocked. "That's OK. Thank you." She hung up the phone.

"What was that about?" asked Xander.

"Its Faith…" chocked Buffy. "She's…she's…dead."

"Oh, Buffy. I'm sorry." Xander reached out to hug the broken up Slayer. Even though Faith tried to kill them, Slayer's tended to be pretty close. A sister was dead.

They fell asleep with Buffy crying into his shirt and Xander just holding her.

Faith was gone.


Angel Investigations and the Slayerettes met again with Buffy and Xander after Xander had phoned Giles to tell him of the death of Faith.

"She was that psycho bitch wasn't she?" asked Spike without any tact whatsoever.

Giles stared at him and his lack of feeling, but hey, what do you expect from a vampire? "We prefer mentally disturbed."

Xander snorted. "No, Spike's right. She was a psycho. Only a psycho could…" Xander cut himself off, remembering that he had never actually told any of the group about his night with Faith. She didn't do 'one night stands' she did '1 hour stands'. He smiled sadly to himself.

Tara, whom Willow had brought along to introduce was merely sitting there, unsure of what to say, after all, she had never met Faith.

Angel broke the uncomfortable silence that had formed. "So you mean there's another Slayer now? One controlled by the Council?"

"Unless Faith was removed by the Council for a particular reason, yes, Angel." Replied Wesley. Despite having broken contact with the Council, similarly to Giles, he still had a more intimate knowledge of what they would do; after all, he had remained in England for a lot longer.

"What if she was?" interjected Buffy suddenly. "What then?"

Wesley sighed. "The Council have methods for stopping the transfer of powers to an uncalled Slayer. It is extremely dangerous, both to the Slayer at the time, and the prospective Slayers, but in dire emergencies…" He trailed off momentarily. "It can be done. In this case, I expect it means that Faith's Slayer abilities would go to the other active Slayer. You Buffy."

"So then I've got two Slayer's powers?"

"Yes. But more than that: the two powers amplify each other, so you would be more powerful than two separate Slayers."

Buffy just sat and absorbed all this.

Willow sat down by Tara, and gripped her hand, unnoticed by all except Xander, who frowned, but refused to comment. Tara looked at Willow gratefully, but it had a hidden undercurrent of lust.

Cordelia started to talk. "This is lovely, but what about Krys…" she ended suddenly as she collapsed on the floor holding her head and moaning in pain. Angel and Wesley quickly pinned her down gently, to stop her from hurting herself as she thrashed about on the floor.

The world for Cordelia was a whirl of bright, psychedelic colours. Out of the maelstrom of colour came a vision.

Seeing the vampire in the purple robes, ruling over an army of vampires and demons.

Massacring Sunnydale.

Xander; standing in his dark armour, but missing the Sword of Kayn.

The Sword suddenly coming into her vision, wielded by the purple robed vampire, thrust into Xander's chest, piercing straight though, never stopping and appearing out of his back.

Xander's face contorted with pain as the blade pierced his heart.

The vision was lost in a further swirling mass of colour. Then, suddenly it faded back for a fraction of a second.

Angel, or someone with Angel's face leading Krystos' decimated army paving the way for the final demon invasion of earth.

As the world swum back into horrible focus, the last thing she saw was Angel's grinning features staring at her.

Cordelia knew with terrible fear:

That wasn't Angel.

It was Angelus.

Angel lost his soul again.


After Angel and Wesley had verified Cordelia as relatively OK, Giles broke up the meeting. Angel tried to get Cordelia to tell what she saw, but every time she looked at him she burst into tears and tried desperately to get away from him. The Slayerette's left Giles' house, and Willow and Tara went straight back to Willow's dorm room. Angel, scared about the response he had received from Cordelia after her vision beat a hasty retreat and let Wesley take care of her.

Angel went on patrol, but missed more vampires than he caught, as he was brooding to deeply about Cordelia.

Xander walked Buffy home. Their conversation revolved around Cordelia and Willow.

"Buffy, did you see the way Willow looked at Tara? And the look Tara returned?"

"No." replied Buffy innocently.

"They were holding hands! I think something's up."

Buffy sighed. She didn't really care, but Xander was obviously worried about his childhood best friend. "Maybe she's just trying to forget about Oz, Xander. You saw her the first few days she returned. I didn't. Cut her some slack."

"I just never thought of Willow as gay, that's all."

"Why? She's a girl of the 90's!" Buffy sounded indignant for her friend.

"Yeah, but she was just so interested in Oz. And before that, me."

"You knew about Willow's crush on you?" Buffy sounded angry.

"Yeah. I'd have to be blind not to. I may have been the Zeppo, but I'm not that dense." Xander sounded insulted.

"But, you just totally ignored it! That was so cruel!"

"Which would have been more cruel, Buffy? Telling her I loved her, but as a friend, not as a lover, or trying to ignore it and hoping that either I'll start to return her feelings or she'll find someone else?" Xander was starting to get really riled. If it got much worse, the Avatar would come out.

"You should have told her, instead of leading her on!" Buffy was adamant.

"I never 'lead her on'! Leading her on would have involved using her love for me in unethical ways!" Whoa… where did that come from? Xander could feel the Avatars armour creeping up his back, and fought valiantly to control his anger. Fortunately, it was too dark for Buffy to notice. Xander felt a slight tingle as a previous Avatars memories overrode his own.

Buffy gave him an odd look for his 'unethical' outburst, but shrugged it off and continued. "You still should have told her you knew. What are you, a man or a munch-kin?"

"Actually, I've never been, nor ever want to be, a munch-kin. And I'm not really sure I'm a man any more…" Xander went from angry and indignant to manic-depressive in half a sentence flat.

Depressed worked. The Avatars armour retreated.

"Come on, I'm sorry." Said Buffy, contrite. "What do you think about Cordelia and her 'I wont tell you' vision?"

"Honestly? I'm scared."


"Because it doesn't feel right. I had a waking dream the other night in your front room. It feels linked to that."

"A waking dream? What's that?"

"It's the only way I can describe it. I'm awake, or asleep, or whatever. It seems worst when I'm awake. The things I see get kind of overlaid with the view from a previous Avatar. I've had a couple of them now."

"What was the last one about? The one that seems to have you slightly freaked?" Buffy tried to inject humour into her tone, but failed.

"It was an Avatar that got beaten by a knight. It was in England. Fifth century England. The Avatar was Gawain."

"As in Gawain and the Green Knight?"

"Sort of. He was a friend of Arthur."

"King Arthur?

"Yeah. You could call him that. But he was never really a King."

"So what happened?"

"The Avatar pulped the few thousand men sent against him. Excalibur seemed to be more powerful than the Sword of Kayn. Arthur managed to beat him, but just barely."

"And?" Buffy was worried that Xander wasn't telling her everything.

"I got this feeling that the Council of Watchers was set up by Arthur, after that fight."

"Slayer's were started then? All those centuries ago?"

"Arthur was probably around in the 5th century, if he ever existed at all." Replied Xander.

"So Slayers have only been about for, say, about 1500 years?" Buffy was curious now.

"No. I encountered… I mean the Avatar, encountered Slayers thousands of years before that. The Council of Watchers only took it upon themselves to train and control the Slayer when they found one, and decided that it would be advantageous to control someone that powerful. Until then, Slayers worked solo, or with friends or family. They were considered by most of the worlds more pagan religions to be chosen by the Gods."

Buffy was silent.

Xander continued. "I have this feeling that the Watchers are more than they seem. And not for good. Something tells me that Faith didn't suddenly die, just like that. I think the Council were involved, a lot more than anyone wants to admit."

Both Buffy and Xander ended the maudlin conversation as they neared Buffy's home. Neither wanted to worry Joyce without reason.


"Mom?" called Buffy. "Mom? Where are you?"

"Mrs. Summers! Joyce?" called Xander.

Only silence greeted them.

"Something's wrong Xander." Said Buffy.

"I know."

Xander strode over to the kitchen, and stopped dead at what he saw.

Crockery smashed and strewn about the room, dining table missing two legs and looking as if something went flying into it. Lying on the worktop was the cross that Buffy insist that her mother keep on her at all times. The gas cooker still had a ring on, ready to start cooking.

What Xander noticed last of all was the note pinned to the wall near the door with what appeared to be Faith's knife. The note read:

Well done. You have found this.

I have her.

You know of whom I speak, and you know who I am.

D not attempt anything clever, or she will die. Come get me: The mansion.

I am sure you recognise the trinket I used to attach this to the wall.


"Bastard!" Xander spun and hit the table, which succeeded in making the other two legs collapse, and split the surface in two.

Buffy was merely standing in the doorway, looking at the destruction in the kitchen, shell-shocked.

Xander paced about, finally seeming to come to a decision. He picked up the phone from its position on the floor.

Dialling Giles' number, he simply said when Giles picked up, "Krystos has Joyce." And hung up.


The Slayerette's and Angel Investigations groups all congregated at Buffy's house when Giles phoned them to tell them what had happened.

"How could Krystos get in? Isn't he a vamp? Doesn't he have to be invited?" asked a perturbed Cordelia.

"Yes, that is true, but Krystos didn't necessarily have to come in himself. He could have sent demons that do not require the Invitation." Replied Giles.

Xander stood in the corner of the room fuming. It took all his will power to stop the Avatar from taking over. While he had some control over the Avatar when it arrived, some things he could not control, and currently, with all the bickering that was occurring in the room, he didn't trust the Avatar not to start killing.

Glancing over at Buffy, Xander saw that she sat on the couch where he had guided her after seeing the kitchen and phoning Giles.

She looked catatonic.

A solid rock in a sea of chaos, kind of. But a rock with a fatal flaw. First Faith dead… no, not dead, murdered… he was sure of it, and her mother taken hostage by some mad vampire that had a grudge against Kayn, and like all vampires, Slayers in general.

Joyce was bait for a Buffy trap. But Buffy had not reacted in the way that Krystos had expected her to.

Finally sick of the arguing about how to go about a rescue, Xander spoke: "Shut up, all of you." The room fell silent.

Angel looked about to protest, but Xander's quick look in his direction shut him up properly.

Giles spoke up; "What do you think we should do then, Xander?"

"First, all this arguing is not productive. Stop putting each other down and work together. If you can't, let me work out the plan and don't argue with the result."

"What would your plan be then?" Wesley sounded condescending.

Xander threw another glance at Buffy, who showed no signs of snapping out of her catatonic state.

"Simply put, and taking a leaf out of Buffy's book; I'm the plan."

"What! You can't be serious?" Angel jumped up indignant.

Xander ignored his outburst. "OK. Simple obviously isn't the best way to explain this. Willow, Tara, Cordelia; stay with Buffy." Tara nodded, Willow looked about to protest, but Tara touched her shoulder and she nodded as well. Cordelia seemed relieved that she didn't have to fight. "Good. Giles, Wesley, you guys will have the rear entrance. Keep the vamps there occupied. Angel, Spike, take the front. Try to find Joyce, but if it looks dicey, don't risk her. I'll be along shortly after you get there and engage them. When I tell you to get out…get out. No arguments! Any questions? No? Great."

Angel didn't look too happy about being paired with Spike, but kept silent. Spike didn't.

"I don't want to work with Peaches! The poof'll get us both dusted. A frontal assault is suicide, even if we are already dead! I won't…" Spike trailed off as Xander fixed him with a piercing stare.

"Don't argue, Spike." Xander's eyes flashed an even lighter grey as he spoke.

"Alright mate." Spike seemed cowed.


Giles and Wesley were situated round the back of the mansion. It was where Angelus had tried to summon Athcatla. They were both equipped with small crossbows, similar to the one Willow had used against Kayn. They both had sharpened wooden tips, unlike Willows, which had had small contact explosive charges.

Neither looked happy. They were sitting in a bush, picking off vampires when they strode out the back door for a smoke or some 'fresh air' so far; they had bagged three.

"Do you think Xander's plan will work?" asked Giles.

"No." retorted Wesley, "it won't."

"Why not?" replied Giles.

"He's mad. The Avatar has changed him. He is no longer the person he was before."

"That is painfully obvious. He has more power than a hundred Slayers. Coupled with the guilt of millennia on his shoulders."

"And his love for the Slayer."

"Buffy's love may be the only thing that has kept him sane. Buffy being injured was the one thing that succeeded in pulling him out of the suicidal depressive state he was in. His humanity in his love for Buffy saved us all when he was the Avatar for Kayn. If not for that, Kayn would have won."

"Shh… another vampire." Wesley was uncomfortable about the high regard Giles held the boy in. As far as Wesley was concerned, he was reckless, idiotic and irresponsible.

Giles let fly with a crossbow bolt, and caught the vampire in his chest, right through the heart. He burst into dust.

"That's four." He whispered.


Angel and Spike were in a similar position round the front of the house. They were shooting vampires as they came back from their nightly hunting missions. Angel was staking them with small wooden bolts, Spike was sitting keeping score and wearing a pair of yellow rubber gloves.

"You look like a fool." Said Angel.

"Better a fool, Peaches, than have my hands covered with Holy water." Responded Spike. He had a plastic water pistol in each hand and two 40oz bottles of Jack Daniels, which he had downed quickly and filled with Holy water. Angel though it lucky that Spike had a demons constitution, or he would be completely and totally pickled. If Angel missed with a bolt, Spike sprayed the unfortunate in the face with Holy water and crept out to cover the things mouth as it screamed in torment and its head was eaten away by the anti-vamp juice.

Angel didn't want to bring the topic up, but felt he had to. "Why did you back down from voicing your opinion to Xander?"

Spike stared at him. "Weren't you listening when we explained about the Initiative mate? I was captured and 'arris freed me. While he was the Avatar, for Gods sake! Y'know… the thing that hunts and kills any demon, vamp or other threat to Kayn?"

Angel looked dubious. "He can't have been controlled that well then."

Spike was starting to get irritated. "He looked plenty controlled when Kayn told him to kill all your friends. He only just had enough willpower to stop from carving Buffy up like she was a haunch of meat."

"But… still…"

Spike cut him off. "NO! 'arris may 'ave been dark enough somewhere in his heart for Kayn to choose him, but the love for Buffy and his other friends beat it back. Hell, 'e 'ates me, and still let me go… kinda like he knew what was gonna happen. Anyway, I owe him. An' I ain't gonna let that go."

Angel seemed sufficiently chastened.

Spike looked at his watch. "Its 2100 mate, we'd better go."

Angel nodded and got up, pulling two stakes out of his duster. Spike spun the two pistols like a bad western and snickered. "I need a super-soaker."

Angel just looked to the heavens. While doing this, he asked himself, why me?


Angel and Spike stalked through the entrance of Angel's old mansion.

This place has so many memories, thought Angel, and none of them good.

Spike seemed to be enjoying himself, spraying any unsuspecting vamp he encountered with Holy water. They invariably went screaming off to try to remove the burning water. Krystos would know they were there by now.

Angel smiled slightly and thrust a stake backwards just as a newborn vamp charged round the corner. It ran onto the stake, dusting instantly.

Idiots, he though to himself.


Giles and Wesley stayed outside the rear of the house, catching the vampires that were scared and running from Angel and Spike. Most were easy targets, didn't even try to dodge. Neither knew that they were blind from Spike spraying them in their faces with Holy water; nevertheless, it made it far easier to remove some of Sunnydale's new problems.


Angel and Spike reached the room where Krystos was holding Joyce.

When Spike saw Joyce, he was very glad Buffy was not there to see it. Tied to a table, which had been upended and attached to the wall so that she was at an angle, Joyce was totally out of it. Blouse matted with blood, her head sagged slightly, whether out of exhaustion or death neither could tell. Only the faint heart beat that both vampires detected advertised that she was still alive.

Krystos was standing near her, holding a ceremonial blade that looked peculiarly like Faith's dagger.

That was impossible.

Buffy was holding that blade. A duplicate?

When Krystos deigned to notice the two vampires enter his lair, he charged, calling his minions to do the same. They did.

Spike and Angel, no matter how good they were at fighting couldn't defeat in combat a three thousand year old vamp. They both deliberately avoided engaging Krystos, instead choosing to slaughter his followers.

It wasn't until the numbers got lower and neither Spike nor Angel could miss fighting Krystos that it started turning against them.

"Where the bloody 'ell is 'arris?" screamed Spike as Krystos whipped the dagger across his chest, opening a quickly bleeding wound.

"Don't know!" called back Angel. "He said he would be here as soon as he could!"

Both of the beleaguered combatants staked a vamp at the same instant. The only vamp now left was Krystos. Spike and Angel both were not overly keen to engage that particular vamp.

Krystos stalked toward them, silent.

Spike looked quickly at Angel, and both nodded, coming to some silent agreement.

They rushed out the door, with Krystos hot on their heels.


Xander was in the realm he had almost affectionately named limbo. This was where Kayn's Avatar retreated when not required. In it, he could locate almost any person, and most vamps and demons.

Xander found Joyce quickly, and deciding that both Angel and Spike would die if he didn't draw Krystos' wrath off of them, he altered his plan.

Xander appeared next to Joyce in the black armour, forgoing the Sword for a time.


"Hang on." Xander sounded desperate. He pulled off the manacles holding Joyce to the wall as gently as he could. Joyce sagged into his arms as the supports holding her up were removed.

"Hang on…" Xander whispered again, and was surprised to receive a moan this time as response. "OK…" Xander vanished again as he took Joyce back to Buffy.


"Buffy!" Xander called as he materialised, "I've got your mother!"

Laying Joyce down on the floor as gently as he could, he rushed into the front room to see Buffy, Willow, Tara and Cordelia sitting and watching a 'girl movie'. Well, watching may have been too specific a word, as Willow and Tara were gazing into each others eyes, and Cordelia was too busy watching Buffy. Buffy herself was staring mechanically at the TV screen.

Xander sat down on his heels in front of Buffy. "Buffy," he whispered, "I've got your mother. She's in the kitchen."

Buffy just twitched slightly.

Cordelia took her eyes off of Buffy to raise an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Really." Said Xander. "Look, I'm sorry, but if I don't go back, both Spike and Angel are gonna be dust. And as much as I dislike both of them, I'd rather they stuck around. Show Buffy her mother." It wasn't a request; it was a command.

"OK." Said Cordelia, "what shall I do about those two? They said that they were going to try to wake Buffy up, but all they do is stare at each other."

Xander smirked. "Leave 'em. They're too in their own world to notice us. Gotta go, sorry. Tell Buffy I love her." Raising a quizzical eyebrow at Willow's behaviour over recent weeks, Xander straightened.

Buffy snapped out of the almost trancelike state she was in when Xander disappeared in front of her. "Xander?" she called out. "Mom?"

Xander disappeared again.


Appearing next to Spike, Xander smirked as both he and Angel recoiled from the sudden and unexpected presence next to them.

Angel spun and tried to stake Xander, thinking he was a vampire. Gripping the stake by the point, Xander turned it away.

"Chill, Angel, its only me."

"Xander?" Angel had never met Xander while he was encased in the armour of Kayn. The dark statue in front of him was not what he had expected.

Spike snapped out of the daze he was in. "Look mate, we kept Krystos occupied as requested. Now finish the bugger." With those words, Spike fled.

Angel nodded. "We kept him running after us for ages. He's likely a bit ticked off now." Angel tired to swallow the next comment, but it made it out anyway. "Be careful. Come back alive." Angel then followed Spike's example and hightailed it out of the building.

Xander felt the Sword coalesce into his hand. "Just you and me now." He whispered to the empty corridors.


Krystos stalked down the main corridor of Angelus' large mansion. He could feel that the souled one and his childe had fled, but it was replaced by a deep unease that he hadn't felt for such a long time he had almost forgotten what caused it.

"Kayn…" he snarled.

Xander stepped out of the shadows. "No, sorry. No Kayn, Just me."

"You are the Avatar, are you not?" Krystos was trying to buy time.

"I was… but now Kayn is dead, I'm just me." Xander's voice slowly turned more and more lethal. "You took the Slayers mother."

Krystos just smiled. "You got her back. All is fair in love and war… well war certainly. Love? Possibly."

"Not when it comes to Buffy. She's had far too much pain and not enough pleasure in her life. Her mother isn't going anywhere."

"Enough talk. Kill or be killed…" Krystos snarled and lunged at Xander.


Fighting Krystos was something Xander had been dreading. After having seen what he did to the Avatar in ancient Greece, paranoia was running rampant in his mind.

Can't lose sight of him, he'll do something tricky. Can't let him get behind me. Can't let him get the sword of Kayn. If I do all is lost, nothing will stop him.

Krystos used Xander's incapacitation against him. Having absorbed some of the Avatars powers previously, Krystos could nullify some of Xander's protection. Almost as fast as Xander, just as strong, and able to move through his armour like it wasn't there.

Xander had got so used to the armour deflecting everything that hit it that he was completely unprepared for the pain and burning sensation as Krystos' claws went through the armour and scraped his side.

Hissing in pain, Xander recoiled and re-evaluated his opponent. Far more dangerous than he first appears, despite a vampiric aura which would have Buffy on the floor writhing in agony if she got near.

Deciding that attack was the best defence, Xander moved on the offensive. Slashing with the blade, Xander stepped forward into Krystos' next swipe and blocked it with the flat, returning after having cut a slight furrow down the vampire Masters chest.

Krystos' Avatar enhanced healing quickly sealed the shallow cut; the only evidence that it had ever occurred was the slice in the fine silk of his robe.

Bringing the sword into a diagonal guard position across his body, Xander hesitated. Krystos' attacks didn't seem to have any real pattern to them; they were seemingly random and quite violent. As if Krystos wanted Xander to underestimate him.

Xander spared a quick glance at the floor. No chance for a move similar to the one which removed Adam. The brickwork was too soft and wouldn't rebound the blade; it would absorb the strength of the attack, if it didn't stop the blade completely, leaving him lethally open.

Xander's attention was quickly brought back to the fight as Krystos made a half-hearted attempt to deprive his opponent of his weapon. Xander's counter opened a deep cut along the vampires hand, which healed as quickly as the wound on his chest had.

Krystos had evidently got tired of the cat and mouse game they had been playing. His attacks became that much more powerful and vicious. Slicing a neat set of four cuts deep in Xander's chest, he smiled evilly. The second swipe he delivered caught Xander in the face, tearing away the flesh of his face, leaving a jaw half uncovered by his cheek on the right side, in a perpetual grin.

Xander could feel the helm he still had on his head quickly filling with his own blood. As swiftly as the thought appeared, the helm melted into the rest of the armour, leaving his head vulnerable. Not as if it really mattered, as Krystos' claws went thought anyway.

Feeling the flesh start to repair itself just moments after the wound was inflicted, Xander was not put off the fight until he heard the words in the voice he never, ever wanted to hear when he was in a fight as the Avatar.

Buffy stood in the doorway, watching the fight between the two almost invulnerable, semi immortal creatures with a look of horror, but one tinged with morbid fascination.

"Oh my God, Xander…" Buffy said as she saw his face.


Buffy stood in the doorway, watching the combat between the two mortal enemies with a sick interest.

Krystos suddenly seemed to loose interest in the fight and backed off, only to be followed closely by Xander, who pressed the advantage. Krystos them viciously whipped his clawed hand around, as Xander had completed a low strike that meant he could not block properly. It tore into his face, seemingly penetrating the helm that he was wearing, and coming out bloody.

Xander's helm slid from his face, to reveal a distinct lack of flesh over where his right cheek should have been, and blood pouring from the wound which left the right side of his face a red bloody mass which had the distinctive death's grin of a skeleton's jaw underneath the flow of blood.

Buffy couldn't stop herself. "Oh my God, Xander…"

She froze as she realized that Xander had heard her, and had taken his attention from the fight to look in her direction.

Time stood still.

Xander looked at Buffy, with all the self-loathing and anguish any person could possibly put into one expression. Buffy stared at him in morbid fascination as the flesh over his cheek healed itself with no blemishes in a matter of seconds.

Time started again.

Krystos took his opportunity. Jerking forward, he gripped the Sword of Kayn just above Xander's hand, and then punched him full in the face with his other free hand.

Caught by surprise, Xander was sent flying by the blow, and Buffy heard the low, sickening crunch as bones broke under the punch. Now armed with the sword of Kayn, Krystos approached Xander.

"I defeated your kind once. You should have know it would be foolish to face me again…"

Krystos looked round as he heard a battle cry and was met by a Slayers boot to the solar plexus. He shifted his stance to maintain balance under the blow, and then grabbed the Slayer by the foot and sent her hurtling into the wall opposite.

"Buffy!" Xander screamed seeing her flung about like a rag.

"I'll deal with the Slayer bitch next, after I have finished you." Krystos neared Xander again.

Buffy snapped out of her flying and painful landing induced haze, in time to see Xander backing further off from Krystos. Xander snapped a look in her direction.

"Buffy, get out of here! NOW!" Xander bellowed it at the top of his lungs, hoping that she may actually pay attention.

Buffy felt Xander's words and tried to ignore them, staying to help him. But the words themselves struck a chord in her, one that could not be ignored. Xander was planning something. Something he didn't want Buffy anywhere near. She nodded slightly and ran for the exit, where the rest of the Slayerettes and the Angel Investigations teams were waiting.

"Be careful, Xand…" she called.


Rushing down the steps out to Giles and the others, Buffy tripped on the final step and fell headlong into Spike's arms.

"We gotta stop meeting like this, pet, or 'arris will think something's going on between us."

"Nothing ever has, is not, or ever will happen between us Spike." Said Buffy picking herself up.

"I can dream can't I?" he asked jokingly.

"Not about me, you can't. Unless you want Xander to dust you without a second thought."

Spike, amazingly, took the hint.

Just as Giles was about to ask if she was OK, an unearthly roar filled the night. Part anger and part pain, none of the group, even Angel and Spike, could stop from cringing at the sound.

"Xander!" Buffy turned round and started back toward the building. Angel and Spike both made a grab for her, to try to stop her, and it was only by virtue of Giles' textbook flying tackle that she was stopped before she entered the building.

"Get off me!" screamed Buffy. "I've got to find Xander!"

Slowly, but quickly building up speed, like some ancient steam train, the building fell in.


After Buffy had left the room, Xander merely waited until he could be sure that she had left the mansion before stopping the game of chase he had been playing with Krystos.

Turning suddenly, he stalked toward the Master vampire. He had to get the sword of Kayn back. If he didn't all was lost. Krystos seemed happy to oblige.

Xander dodged two swings which would have been quite a pain to heal if they connected, Xander waited until Krystos tried a lunge.

And he stepped into it.

Krystos' expression at seeing that move was priceless. If Xander hadn't been more worried about the pain, he would have wanted a picture.

Feeling the sword of Kayn pierce his stomach, and then slowly slide through the rest of his lower body organs was torture itself. It then cut through his spine as well, cutting all feeling off below his waist, Xander couldn't be sure if it was a blessing or not.

Xander reached out and wrapped his right hand around the grip of the blade, over Krystos' hand. Squeezing tightly, so he couldn't let go, Xander pulled the blade that little bit further in, bringing a smile to his bloodied lips as he did. With his left, Xander took hold of Krystos' throat, bringing his face in line with Xander's own.

The fear showed in Krystos' eyes at that moment. Xander was trying to think of a witty comment, but none would come.

Krystos, in immortal fear for his unlife, croaked out, "Don't you want to know who gave me that dagger? Or who told me about the Slayer here?"

Xander, nearly passed out from the pain, but aware that his Avatar healing was already working on overdrive, ground out "Tell me…"

Krystos smiled evilly. "No."

"Fine." Xander wasn't in the mood or condition to play games. His grip tightened around Krystos' throat, threatening to make his head pop off like a cork on a bottle of champagne.

Seeing that Xander really didn't care about finding out who it was that sent him, Krystos renewed his struggle. Only needing air to talk had advantages. Being a vamp, muscles didn't need to have oxygen to work.

Knowing that he had to end it now, Xander started to pull the Sword of Kayn from his middle. Pulling it out was a pain a thousand times worse than it staying in. Screaming in agony, so loud that Xander thought his vocal chords would break, the sword inched out. An added difficulty was that Krystos was battling to keep the blade where it was.

Just as Xander pulled the last of the sword from his stomach, Krystos' eyes flashed bright white.

Xander's unearthly scream had damaged the foundations of the house, and the support beams used to hold the roof. Timbers creaked and broke, plaster cracked away from where it had been for 150 years.

Somehow, Krystos' mad struggling succeeded in freeing him, and he dived for the sewer entrance that Angelus had kept open for emergencies. Xander was panting, trying to regain his breath after pulling out the sword.

Krystos had escaped.

Xander swore silently to himself, realising that he would have to find him at some point, if only to protect Buffy, let alone himself and the rest of the places and people he could terrorise if he was wielding the sword of Kayn.

With a loud moan, the timbers in the roof finally gave up their fight against gravity and collapsed. Merely a step ahead of the falling beams, Xander followed Krystos' example and dived at the manhole. Entering the sewer mere seconds before the entire building collapsed, Xander was choked by the plaster dust and other small breathable things that floated down into the sewer.

Incredibly weary after his gruelling fight with the Master vampire, and short of breath because of the dust in the air, Xander sank down against the wall of the sewer and passed out.


"No! Xander!" Buffy was still struggling against Giles, Angel and Spike as she tried to get into the steadily collapsing building. First, the roof fell in, crushing anything beneath it, guaranteed. Then, with glacial slowness, the walls fell inward as well.

Giles went flying as Buffy grabbed his collar and flung him away, quickly followed by Angel, who, if he had not been a vampire would have had no face to speak of. The blow intended for Spike glanced off as he twisted his head with the blow, weakening it enough to not do major damage.

Spike growled. Despite the fact that Buffy's attack hadn't done much, it still bloody hurt. "Buffy!" He called, getting her attention for a second. "This will hurt me way more than it hurts you!"

Pulling back his fist, Spike put all his weight behind the blow, knowing that the chip would slow most of it. However, the sheer momentum of the swing could not be stopped, and he caught Buffy on the chin, knocking her senseless for a short time.

The chips instant reaction was to fry his brain. Spike staggered back, reeling from the amount of pain the chip pumped into his head. He made it four steps away from Buffy, clutching his head in pain and screaming before the chip in turn knocked him unconscious.

Giles slowly got up and looked at the unconscious vampire. "Never knew he had it in him…"

Angel groaned and stood as his vampire healing took effect. "Spike acting for the greater good? I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it."

Wesley looked over to them. "We must get Buffy home and calm her down before she tries to get to Xander again. She would kill herself trying. No one could have survived that."

Giles nodded morosely. "I am afraid I am forced to agree with you. Even the Avatar would barely withstand getting buried. Xander is probably dead."

Angel looked in amazement at the two men, then shook his head, wincing at the slight twinges of pain it brought. "I may not like the guy, but I'm not willing to say that he's dead until I see the body."

Wesley looked about to argue. Angels look stopped him. Tilting his head in the direction of Buffy and Spike, he said, "Shall we?"

Giles nodded and picked Buffy up gently. Angel did not look overly pleased at having to carry Spike, but picked him up, none too gently, and carried him to Giles waiting car.

Angel called out to Giles, "How did you learn to tackle like that?"

"What do you think I did at Oxford?" replied Giles, answering his own question he continued, "I played Rugby."

Giles drove back to Buffy's house, where a distraught and slightly bruised Mrs. Summers was waiting, along with Tara, Willow and Cordelia.


Willow and Tara sat opposite each other in Willows dorm room. Once Xander had returned with Joyce, Buffy seemed to come out of her stupor and left to find him. Cordelia stayed with Joyce.

Currently, the two witches were reading through the ritual for cursing a demon hybrid with its soul.

In other words, the Gypsy Curse used on Angel.

All the necessary herbs and implements were gathered, and Tara had found her orb of Thessula. She had been using it as a paperweight. Tara would have to endure much teasing over the next few weeks, as Willow thought it was hilarious.

Willow had located Krystos' soul in the nowhere realm that souls removed by demons went to. It was no mean feat. Krystos' soul had been in the realm for so long, it had forgotten what it was. Fragments remained, but most was lost in the ether. She had spent days, possibly weeks of mind time searching for all the lost pieces and reassembling them. In real time it had been about 20 minutes.

Time was different in each realm. Time passing in one place didn't necessarily mean that it passed at the same speed in another.

Once Willow had reconstructed Krystos' soul, she trapped it inside the Orb until they could locate Krystos to send it to. The Orb sat on its small pedestal and glowed an eerie white while both Willow and Tara looked, it was the colour that Xander was to see flash in Krystos' eyes.

They found him, still in Sunnydale, but couldn't find his exact position. Somewhere around the area of Angelus' old mansion. Another presence was near, and it was blocking the exact location.

Willow chanted in Latin, Tara said a few words every so often in Romany, both staring intently at the crystal in front of them. As they chanted the final words in the curse, the crystal pulsed such a bright white it left images in their eyes for minutes after.

Then the colour faded completely, the Orb was empty.

"Is that good?" asked Tara nervously. She had never done something that advanced before.

"Yes, it means that his soul has returned to him. Krystos should be easy to kill now."

Tara nodded, and leaned over to whisper in Willows ear, "You're the greatest…"

Willow nodded seriously. "I know…" Then she grinned impishly and turned to face Tara. The two shared a short kiss. It could not really be described as passionate, but it was early days yet.


Xander slowly came round after the dust had settled. While he had been out, as the building finished collapsing, a large roofing timber, easily weighing several tons, as the mansion had been huge, had slid down at a near enough vertical angle.

When it had slipped through the open drain cover, it had twisted and barely avoided taking Xander in the head. It had lodged in the wall inches from his head, and in fact, at one point he thought he might have been leaning on it.

Slowly rising to his feet, Xander staggered down the sewer tunnel, looking for an unblocked exit.


Giles, Wesley, Angel and Spike, who had woken up moaning not far from Buffy's house, got Buffy home and gave her to her mother. Joyce put her straight to bed and left her to wake up. After Giles had finished explaining, she rushed upstairs to be with her when she woke up, after all, she could be potentially very distraught.

"What made her like this?" Joyce was fuming.

"The building that Krystos was in collapsed shortly after she got out. Xander was still inside. She tried to get back inside to find him, while it was still collapsing. We had to knock her out to stop her."

Joyce nodded, but then her expression darkened. "You left Xander in that building?"

Angel spoke, "We had to… he couldn't have survived that… and he told us to get out, no arguing when he planned it. He knew what he was doing."

Giles concurred.

All heads snapped to the front door as two heavy thumps were heard on the porch. Then a short drumming tattoo on the door called Joyce forward to answer it. Angel gripped her shoulder and shook his head.

"Let one of us get it."

Spike and Giles headed over to the door. Giles opened it while Spike looked out. A very dirty and pained Xander stood half standing, half leaning on one of the porch supports. His shirt was very badly torn. As the door opened and Spike was revealed, a relieved look passed over his features, quickly to be hidden again as his eyes rolled up and he passed out into the arms of the chipped vampire.


"Put him in Buffy's room." Joyce's voice held no room for argument.

Spike nodded and started to haul him upstairs.

"How?" asked Giles. "We saw the building collapse on him."

"I don't know," replied Angel, "but it's a miracle."

Wesley wisely stayed silent.

"Why don't you ask him, when he wakes up?" asked Cordelia. "He should know what happened after all…"

"Is Krystos dead, or just vanished again?" Wesley thought that needed answering.

Giles snapped a look at him. "We will worry about him when we have Buffy and Xander on their feet again."


Joyce sat next to Buffy on the bed. She had moved a few minutes ago, and it looked as if she might start waking up soon. Xander was in the next room, with Spike watching him. She shook her head. Never in a million years will I get used to the idea that Spike may be good after all. She smiled at her unconscious daughter. Or that Xander is some super-powerful ex-lunatic Avatar. I can't believe he has hundreds of people's memories in his head. So much for my daughter falling for someone normal.

Buffy turned over and her eyes flickered open.

"Xander!" she looked around and saw her room, and her mother. Buffy dived for her. "Mom! You're alright!" She buried her head in her mothers shoulder.

"Yes, honey. I'm all right. So is Xander… are you?"

Buffy's eyes lit up. "Xander's OK?"

Joyce nodded. "Yes. He's next door. He's unconscious, but Spike's watching him."

"I've got to see him!" Buffy got up and rushed out of the room so fast Joyce couldn't turn her head quickly enough.


"Spike is Xander alright?" Buffy bowled into the spare room at top speed, barely giving the vampire time to step out of the way before flinging herself next to Xander.

"'E seems to fine, from what I can see, pet." Said Spike. "But 'e's still out of it."

Buffy laughed almost bitterly. "I'm not surprised after what happened."

Spike curiosity was piqued. "Err… what happened pet? Peaches an' me left when he told us…"

Buffy looked to Xander, not sure she should tell everything she saw. It would be up to Xander if he wanted to tell everyone everything. "He was fighting Krystos. It was incredible; I've never seen anything like it. Them moving perfectly in sequence; almost choreographed. Both beautiful and terrifying at the same time."

Spike nodded knowingly. "Yeah, vampire feeding is like that, if you get a weak demon. You need the blood, and the demon loves it, but whatever is left of the person is revolted. Ya wouldn't think of ol' William the Bloody as weak, would ya pet, but I'm never very keen on the feeding part. It's the hunt I enjoy."

Buffy was sidetracked for a time. "Why?" she asked.

Spike grimaced at having to reveal his past. He didn't want to, but felt that maybe he had to, to build trust. "Before I was turned, I was a Forest Ranger. You know, lived off the land, hunting big game when they became a danger, stuff like that…" his eyes turned inward as he remembered what he had been. "Then Dru showed up… and ol' Peaches…" now his eyes turned hard. "But enough reminiscing, already. What 'appened to Xander next?"

"Krystos got through his guard. His claws went straight through the armour. The impenetrable armour. His helm slid away a few seconds later to reveal half his face missing." Spike winced. "In seconds, it had healed and he was fighting again, he called for me to get out. Even though I didn't want to, something told me to. The next thing I know is the building is collapsing." Buffy purposefully left out that it had been her distracting Xander that had caused him to be injured in the first place.

Buffy and Spike watched over Xander as he rested and healed.


The world was pain.

The wound in his stomach healed, but was still trying to repair all the damage caused by the blade. The beatings and other damage Xander had taken were conspiring to slow the healing process.

He could make out the quiet sounds of conversation next to him, and the low bass rumble that came from the street as an open topped car drove past blaring the latest music sensation. It hurt his ears.

"Quiet…" he mumbled.

Buffy snapped to attention. "Did you say something Xan?"

"Quiet… Shut up… too loud…" Xander turned slightly.

Spike crossed to the other side of the bed. "Should we wake 'im?" He asked.

"No… leave him…" Buffy cut out as Xander turned again, far quicker this time, and caught Spike full in the chest with a fist. He flew the few feet to the wall and slumped down.

"Ow… bloody 'ell, mate… that 'urt…" Even as he said it, vamp healing took over.

Xander sat up suddenly, eyes dark, his hand closing around Buffy's throat. "I'll kill you Krystos!" he whispered in a deadly voice.

"Xand… Choking…me…" Buffy couldn't breath. "Spike… help…"

Xander seemed to see who he was strangling. "Buffy?" he let her go. "Buffy!" he grasped her in a bear hug, so strong it nearly broke ribs.

"Xander… still can't… breath…" only this time it was from the hug.

Xander released her and smiled at her. "Love you, Buff."

"Yeah, Xand, I know, just don't pull stupid ass tricks like that again. Please?" All was forgiven.

Spike got up off the floor. "Don't you think we had better tell the bunch downstairs what happened?"

"Yeah, that might be an idea. Don't want to tell it twice…" Xander smiled, but winced slightly as he pulled not quite healed muscles.

"You alright, Xan?" asked Buffy with deep caring showing in her voice.

"I'm fine, Buff. I just need to get fixed a bit better. Krystos really did a number on me…"

Buffy nodded and linked an arm with him, heading to ward the door and downstairs to explain what had happened, and what was going to happen next. Spike walked behind them, muttering something about "Bloody public displays of affection…"


That's no. 3 over for now. Look out for the next one, which will have Buffy and Xander going to LA to look over the problems and other things that have been hinted on in the stories so far…

The fourth will come out soon, but it will be a while before the fifth and subsequent others do. My muse has decided to holiday…

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