Look who's back, back again, Cranston's back, tell your friends!

It is important to remember that I own none of these characters, or their respective universes. I just play with them.

"blah blah blah" – talking

I think therefore I am – thoughts.

Summers Household

The three original members of the Scooby Gang, plus two Angels, had made their way back from the church, Xander refusing to explain what had happened there. As a result, Willow and Buffy were annoyed and Xander twitchy, while Bartleby and Loki were desperately avoiding attracting attention to themselves (Buffy still had the iron bar in her hand.). They were all surprised to find an equally jubilant and scolding Giles greeting them.

"Where the devil have you been? Going off without telling anyone where you were going!" This caused Xander to throw a sharp glance at Buffy, who winced. "Sorry G-Man, guess each of us thought the other had told ya. Constantine gave me a message which I acted on, Wills and the Buffster decided to tag along. We've got a coupla more fighters for our side, might I introduce Bartleby and Loki."

Giles hadn't missed the glance, correctly interpreting it for what it was. I wonder why Buffy didn't tell me. I'll have to inquire later. "Very well, if you vouch for them they're truly welcome. And don't call me 'G-Man'."

"Well, it's not so much me vouching for them as you trusting me to know whether to trust the individual who sent them here. G-Man." Xander smirked at the older man.

The six made their way inside, Giles taking note of the fact neither Bartleby nor Loki required invitations.

"Would you be so good as to pass on the identity of this 'individual'?" inquired Giles dryly.

"It was someone claiming to be 'Le Metatron', Giles!" Willow burst out "It can't be, right? I mean, you always refer to Christianity as mythology and stuff…"

"Well, I'm not sure that…" began Giles, only to be interrupted by Xander.

"He's the real deal Wills, talked to Moses, de-toxed Noah, informed Jesus Christ of his parentage, the whole enchilada."

"I say, how do you know this?" asked Giles.

"Long story, suffice to say there was plenty of proof of the incontrovertible variety." Xander turned to Willow, whose face had gone grey. "And that bit in the bible about witchcraft, not from on-high at all." He said reassuringly "Heck, there are witches out their followed around by guardian angels 24-7!"

Willow's face regained most of its colour.

"How do you know?" This was from Buffy.

"Again, long story. If everything goes to plan, we'll have a surplus of time to chat about it, and if we fail, we'll talk anyway, just on the other side of them pearly gates. For now, trust me."

"We do Xander," began Giles "it's just, we're unaccustomed to not knowing the entire plan."

"Nothing I can do about that I'm afraid. I may know a little more than you guys, but I'm getting directions from higher up, and they're not about to tell me any more than I already know."

"But you can tell us all you know already." Pressed Buffy.

"No. Part of the plan requires not only your non-participation in part of it, which I know wouldn't happen if you knew what it was, but for your reactions to the rest of the plan to be natural."


"No buts. I know I'm asking a lot, but I promise you that the plan should work."

"Should?" asked Giles, mildly alarmed.

"No plan survives contact with the enemy G-Man. This one gives us about a sixty-four percent chance of complete success, and a twelve percent chance of a partial one."

"But what are we meant to do?" wailed Willow.

"We do what we always do, we save the world."

Buffy slammed hurled the iron bar into a nearby wall in frustration. It stuck in place, a quarter of the bar impaled through the wall. Xander winced, knowing he'd have to fix that later and there was a startled cry from the next room.

"Damn it Xander! That's not good enough! I need to know the whole plan! I'm the one in charge of all this, so I need to know what you intend to do or I won't know whether I can cover or depend on you or not!" Buffy's shout attracted the attention of the others in residence.

"What's going on?" asked a nearby potential.

"Xander was about to explain what his grand plan for beating the First is." growled Buffy. Willow was glancing from one of them to the other as if unsure of whom to speak to, while Giles hung back.

"I knew it couldn't last." Muttered Xander under his breath, as he looked at the newly assembled group in Buffy's hall. "Alrighty then folks, here's the general gist of it. We're the delaying action and distraction for another group who'll be doing the tough part. Our job is to keep the First focused on us, create the situation which will let the other's succeed, and inflict what damage we can on the First's forces in case the other's fail. No, I'm not saying who the others are, because you don't need to know. Heck, I only know one of them for definite, but I do know the one who's pulling the strings and it is no exaggeration to say that he's one of the most powerful forces of goodness to ever exist. If anyone here feels uncomfortable with the fact that we're deliberately drawing the inimical attentions of The First Evil, I'd like to point out that the newest additions to our force are honest-to-goodness Angels. By that I mean they have fiery swords, angelic armour, and impressive wingspans, all wrapped up in neat packages created by God. Any of you guy's want to leave, I'm not gonna even try to stop you; you're here by choice to oppose evil and save the world. You figure that that's not what we're doing, the door's behind me."

There was some shuffling amongst the group, as Buffy and Willow stared at him, flabbergasted that they were the distraction for the real fight. Some of the potentials looked uncomfortable and the Initiative commando's had gotten blank expressions. Riley shouldered his way to the front, accompanied by O'Neill and Helen Tasker.

"So, you're saying that we're the window dressing for an op undertaken by an unknown force with an unknown goal. The only verification for their mission we have is you, and in order to let them do the job, we piss off the most powerful force for evil we've ever encountered?" enquired Riley, his expression forbidding.

"Whoa now, I didn't say anything about assaulting the IRS!" exclaimed Xander, eliciting chuckles from most of the group. "But essentially, yes."

O'Neill grinned "But could we add them to the list of targets?" he joked.

Riley's poker-face cracked and he mock-saluted Xander. "Colonel Paper Target reporting for duty, sir!"

Blade nodded from his position near the stairs.

"The SGC's with you." Stated O'Neill.

"So am I." chirped Seras.

"Intangible evil with countless hordes of super-vamps. The opposition isn't any tougher than before. I'm in." said Clark "Just don't leave me alone with the potentials – ever."

"Hell, LA's best SWAT team will make a great distraction." Harrumphed Hondo.

"I'm in." said RoboCop.

"Me too." Murmured Oz.

"I'm in for the long haul X." affirmed Faith.

"We're not going anywhere." Helen stated, her arm snaking around Faith's shoulders.

"Anything to piss off the big bad." Smirked Constantine.

Only the potentials and remaining Scoobies had yet to voice their choice. Then, one by one, the potentials nodded their assent to Xander, leaving only Giles, Willow, Buffy, Dawn, Wood and Spike unconfirmed.

The Scoobies glanced at one another, confirming to themselves that one of their own had taken such a step.

Giles glanced around the hall, "We few, we happy few…" he declared as he motioned his assent.

"We band of buggered." Chimed in Spike with a vicious grin and a nod.

Dawn, Willow and Wood likewise motioned their assent to this radical departure in strategic planning.

With a final glance around the assembled people, the assembled heroes, in her home, all looking to Xander, Buffy finally accepted something. While important, she was not the be-all and end-all of things. If she declined to follow Xander's lead in this, he wouldn't try to force her. But these others would follow him, and she couldn't not oppose the First to the best of her capability.

"I'm with you, Xan." She said quietly, ceding her command to her oldest companion in the good fight. "I expect a whole avalanche of explanations after the apocalypse though!" she insisted.

Xander looked Buffy right in the eye, saw the sincerity shining there, as well as the relief, albeit unconscious, as part of her realised she was no longer responsible for the entire weight of the world.

"You got it Buff." He assured, as that weight was shifted to him. "You got it."

He glanced at his newly re-affirmed team, seeing the commitment, the fear, the strength and the will exuded by them all.

"Let's get to work."

Wow, another chapter down. Sorry it's been so long, my muse not only stopped providing, it actively stifled what creativity I have of my own! Reviews are more than welcome, they're positively encouraged! Tell me what you think, or else I'll think no-one likes it!