"Xander's going to college?"
Buffy grinned, "Yeah, that's what I thought when he told me. He said he's got an apartment somewhere near here, he's throwng a party sometimes this week."
"Why wasn't I invited?" Willow pouted slightly.
Buffy smiled, "I'm sure you are. He hasn't actually decided on when yet, it's just an idea still."
"Oh." She brightened, "It's gonna be like old times then... all of us here... in college..."
"Looks like." Buffy said brightly, "Giles even cornered me and Riley earlier talking about some weird prophecy."
"Just like high school." Willow grinned.
Riley walked into the Initiative Command Center with a perplexed look on his face.
"Ah, Agent Finn." Walsh stepped forward, "I've been waiting for your report."
"Report?" Riley looked confused, "I came down here to find out what the hell happened upstairs?"
Walsh looked at him strangely. "You were there Agent Finn. You and Summers led the defense of Lowell House."
"You weren't there?" Walsh said uncertainly.
"Where?" Riley asked, "Look, I just want to know what the hell happened to my men upstairs. They look like their coming down off a mission and I didn't think any was scheduled."
Wordlessly, Walsh turned a computer screen toward Finn. Equally wordlessly he watched as He and Buffy led his men against group of pistol wielding suits, he heard his own voice snapping orders and rallying his men. Finally he collapsed into a chair, still staring at the screen.
"What in the hell?" He managed to say.
"That, Agent Finn, would appear to be the question of the day. I don't suppose that this is actually Ms Summers?"
"No." Riley said weakly, "Buffy and I were walking across campus at that time... Mr. Giles talked to us at some length about some prophecy he had found in his books."
"It would appear that someone felt the need to help your men against their attackers." Walsh frowned at the screen. "In some ways this reeks of HST interference... but the Attackers were human... and the imposters caused no damage. Most perplexing."
Riley nodded, "And the attackers?"
"Undergoing chemical interrogation as we speak."
"Good." Riley's voice had gone cold. "I want to know why those bastards attacked my men and who they work for.
"As do we, Agent Finn. As do we."
"Magic?" Miss Parker's voice was as skeptical as it was sarcastic.
Jarod grinned at her across Giles' living room. "Magic." He replied simply.
Phoebe nudged Xander and whispered in his ear, "He's enjoying this way too much."
Xander returned the grin and whispered back, "He's like that. Boy has a real sadistic streak in him... glad he's on our side."
The two turned back to the argument.
"Magic is all smoke and mirrors, Jarod." Miss Parker snarled, "I've seen enough of you're handiwork to know that."
"You have no appreciation for hard work," Jarod chided her calmly. "Besides, that wasn't *my* handiwork. It was her's" He smiled and nodded in Phoebe's direction.
"I *don't* care." Parker said, "What have you done to the Centre, Jarod?"
"Ah... that." Jarod smiled.
Xander chose this moment to join the conversation, "Nothing much. We just arranged for those men to break into a top secret government research lab."
"That was a *Frat* house. Not a lab."
"Appearances can be deceiving, Miss Parker." Jarod smiled, "It is what was *under* the Fraternity building that truly matters."
"Under....?" Parker's voice trailed off as she considered the implications.
"As we speak, they are interrogating those cleaners."
"And when the find out who they work for?" Parker asked slowly.
Xander smiled, "Then, 'the marines have landed'."
Miss Parker snapped up, "Jarod, you have to let me warn my Father and Sidney."
"All in good Time, Miss Parker. All in good time."
"In the meantime," Xander began, "We have some bags to pack."
"Giles?" Buffy called out as she opened the door to the apartment. "You here?"
"Yes, Buffy. Do come in."
She went in and looked around, the place looked like Giles had just thrown a party. "What happened here?"
Giles grimaced as he picked up the remnants of snack food and crumpled paper. "Xander had a few friends over."
"Oh." Buffy grinned, "I guess you'll be glad that he got his own place then?"
"Yes, quite." The British voice didn't sound entirely sincere.
"I take it that Xand's not around is he?" She asked, looking around a bit.
"No, he had to leave."
"Oh," She smiled, "Could you tell me where his new place is?"
"Actually, no." Giles said, "He hasn't told me yet either. I think it needs some repairs. However you wouldn't find him there either."
"Where is he then?"
"He left town."
"He what!?" Buffy practically screamed.
"I believe that one of his friends had a 'family emergency'. So he and a couple others caught a plane less then an hour ago."
"Oh..." She said slowly, "An emergency... well that's important I guess."
"Ok, he's coming back soon though right?"
Giles smiled gently, "Yes, he is coming back quite soon."
"Well... good." She said firmly, then looked at Giles curiously. "Say... why do you get to meet his friends and me and Willow get left out in the cold?"
Giles coughed, in an attempt to cover up a sudden choking fit. "Well..." He managed to begin, "Xander does sort of live her fore the moment."
"Oh... yeah. That makes sense."
Redeye Flight from Springfield to Delaware
"Yes. Sidney was like a father to me. Broots is a good man, his daughter needs her father. Angelo deserves better then the Centre, but I doubt that the army will provide it. We have tog et them out."
"What about her?" Xander tipped his head toward where Miss Parker sat, scowling at them.
Jarod smiled, "I trust her... in a way. She's loyal to her family, you can't fault her for their shortcomings."
Xander grimaced, "No, I'd be last person to throw stones at someone else's family."
At the mention of family Jarod's face lit up, causing Xander to remember something.
"Jeez man, in all the excitement I forgot to ask you, how is you're Mom?"
Miss Parker's face registered shock. "You found your mother?"
Jarod grinned, a look of pure happiness. "She's fine. I helped get them out from under the watchful eye of several Centre teams. They have a very nice home away from the dangers of my world now."
"Good." Xander smiled, "You going to join them when this is over?"
Jarod shook his head, "No. As much as I'd love too, I've found something that needs to be done out in the world. Something more important then I'd ever thought possible."
"Lovely." Parker growled, "Back to Demons and ghouls again."
Jarod and Xander just looked at each other in amusement.
The Centre, Blue Cove, Delaware
"Broots," Sidney responded patiently, "This is the Centre. Something weird is always going on upstairs."
"I mean *really* weird. Raines is freaking out."
"Raines?" Sidney looked skeptical, "I doubt that."
"I swear. He actually threw his telephone out of his office... Willy had to run out and get it."
Sidney sat down, staring blankly at the wall as he considered his words. "Have you heard from Miss Parker lately?"
"No." Broot's looked sharply at Sidney, "Not since she hit Sunnydale... You don't think that has something to do with this do you?"
"Could be, Broots. Could be."
"What happened to them?" Raines wheezed.
"I don't know." Willy looked nervous. "The teams reported in that they had Jarod cornered and then nothing. We haven't heard from them since. I could call them...?"
"No!" Raines shook his head, "Under no circumstances are you or *anyone* to call those cell phones ever again."
"All Passengers are asked to fasten their safety belts and prepare for our arrival in Blue Cove, Delaware."
Jarod and Xander looked at each other as the Captain's voice rang over the intercom. "Almost Game Time."
"Game Time?" Jarod asked curiously.
Xander quirked a grin, "I mean it's almost time to go to work."
"Ah. Game Time... huh."
Miss Parker groaned in her seat, "Would either of you have some nicotine gum?"
"That's correct," The man in the white labcoat answered, "Every one of them revealed that as their place of emplotment."
"And why they came here?"
"That's where it gets strange." The man looked perplexed, "Something about an experiment, codename Pretender."
"Pretender? That's not our nomenclature."
"No Ma'am. There was also some confusion among the men as to what it was exactly. Most of them seemed to think that it was a human, but some were very insistent that it wasn't. As you know Ma'am, Chemical interrogation can be difficult to interpret sometimes."
"Not human." Walsh said to herself, "That's enough for me. The chances that they show up here and mutter about non-humans during interrogation are too remote. I want all the files on this place dug up, I don't care where they are or who's protecting them."
The Center - Blue Cove, Delaware
Broots flinched, "No. And I'm thinking that is a really bad thing."
"Indeed." Sidney looked thoughtful. "Mr. Parker looked very angry this afternoon."
"You noticed that to?" Broots almost whispered as he looked at Sidney.
Sidney smiled, "Yes. I noticed that to."
"Good." Broots looked relieved, "I was wondering if I was going nuts or if it was the Centre."
"Trust me, Broots. It's always the Centre."
Sunnydale, UC SD Campus
"Calm down, Willow." Buffy said, "Giles said that one of his friends had a family emergency, and you know Xander."
Willow took a deep breath, "Yes, I know Xander. But he should have called or written a note or visited or something like that. It's not like him to just run off without telling anyone..."
Buffy jumped in when Willow drew a breath, "He did tell someone Willow. He told Giles, remember?"
"Yeah, but Giles isn't ME!"
A silence loomed between the two friends after Willow's outburst. Finally Buffy broke the quiet, her voice soft and full of regret.
"I know. It's not me, either."
The Centre - Blue Cove, Delaware
The voice startled him out of his reverie, causing him to stare at the figure casually leaning against the wall of his office. "Good God." He whispered.
"Jarod?" He stood up slowly, tentatively, and walked around the desk. He never took his eyes off the black clad figure, as if it would fade into the shadows if he so much as blinked. "My God, Jarod, it is you! What are you doing here? This place isn't safe for you."
"It's not safe for you anymore, Sidney. Nor Broots, or Angelo. It's time to leave the Centre behind, Sidney."
"My God man, what are you talking about? I can't leave my work, you know that."
"Have Broots backup your files, because the Centre is coming down. Along with anyone still here when it does."
"What have you done?" Sidney asked in shock.
Miss Parker strode into the office, ignoring Mr Lyle and moved straight to her father, "Daddy, you have to get out of here."
Mr Parker frowned, "What? Why?"
"Jarod conned the Cleaners you sent after him into raiding the cover of a Military laboratory. It won't be long before they send people here to raid the center."
"What!?" Parker blew.
Mr Lyle looked over, concerned. "What kind of lab? Do you know what branhc of the military they were with? We might be able to smooth things out through the Tower's contacts..."
Miss Parker chopped her hand through the air, cutting Lyle off. "There's no time. I'm getting out of here, and I'm cutting all ties to the Centre. Jarod gave me the chance to come and warn you, Daddy. I've seen these people in action, if the cleaners talk, the Centre is finished."
"Well..." Mr. Parker started, "There must be something we can do."
"Daddy, do you really think that Jarod will have left you an 'out' this time?" Miss Parker's tone was lethally sharp. "You tried to kill him."
"I did no such thing." The man blustered.
Miss Parker lifted a portable recorder and pressed the button. Mr Parker's voice came through it, loud and clear. "I want Jarod terminated!"
In the silence that ensued Miss Parker turned to leave.
"You're not going anywhere!" Mr. Lyle drew his pistol. "Hold it right there, Sis."
Miss Parker's Smith and Wesson swept up, leveling straight at Lyle and she stared at him over the rail of her gun. "Back to this are we, Lyle?"
The standoff lasted only a few seconds when a silver staff appeared from thin air and cracked against Lyle's wrist. He yelled in pain as his gun clattered to the ground, his eyes widening as a blurry form stepped from the shadows of a nearby corner. It wavered for an instant, then solidified to reveal an armored form that was tracking his every move with a tri-beam laser.
As the two men stared at the form in shock a distorted voice came from it, "The Centre's operating privileges have been cancelled. For this country at any rate. You lose, thank you so very much for playing."
"What the hell?" Mr Parker stared.
"A new friend of Jarod's, Daddy." Miss Parker answered as she walked out of the office. "I wouldn't annoy him if I were you, he has friends of his own that make Raines best cleaner teams look like little leaguers."
The armored form performed a mock bow, then turned to follow Miss Parker out the door, shimmering into the air as it did.
"Holy hell." Mr. Parker muttered in shock.
Broots looked over his shoulder at the two grim men behind him and shook slightly. "I don't understand. Why am I doing this?" He asked as he order to computer to dump all data to a series of DSA disks.
"Because the Centre is coming down, Mr Broots. And you don't want to be here when it falls."
"Just asking." Broots wiped the sweat from his brow as he kept dumping every piece of information from the Centre's mainframe network onto the small digital disks. Encrypted data, open data, even the top secret stuff he wasn't supposed to have access too. Broots shuddered and refused to contemplate where Jarod got those access codes.
There wasn't a verbal response but Miss Parker could hear the scampering in the vents. Finally a timid voice came out.
"Time for what?" She was confused.
"Time to go!" Angelo scrabbled clear of the duct, grinning at Miss Parker and at an indistinct section of the wall behind her. "Friend go too?"
She glanced back, her eyes easily picking up the slight blur now that she knew what to look for, and smiled. "Yes, we're all going."
Under his armor Xander raised an eyebrow as he followed the two people down the hall. How the hell did he see me so fast?
"Hurry up, Broots" Sidney urged as Broots packed away the last of the DSA's.
"I'm almost done."
"That's a relief." Miss Parker came in the door, striding fast with Angelo in her wake.
"Miss Parker!" Sidney smiled, "I'm glad that your all right."
"I'll be all right when we get out of here, Sidney." She snarled.
Jarod smiled slightly at Angelo and turned to Sidney. "Take Broots and Angelo and go pick up Broots' daughter. After that go directly to the airport, I have tickets waiting for you under these names." He handed them a series of passports and identification.
"Don't stop for anything, I've included instructions on where to go and who to get in touch with if we don't contact you soon. There's enough money in these accounts to get you well settled into new lives."
Sidney looked at Jarod, calmly accepting the documentation and cards. "I can't thank you enough, Jarod. Please, get through this all right."
"I will, Sidney. Don't worry."
The three people moved fast through the corridors of the Centre, duffle bags tossed over their shoulders. It was after hours and the place had largely cleared out, leaving only a skeleton support staff who were mostly in their offices. Those that were passed in the halls shrunk back from the lead man, who's armored form brooked no interference.
"SL 15." Miss Parker answered. "That's where the central archives are."
The three people entered an elevator and selected their destination, calmly staring at the doors as the floors ticked by. The doors opened, revealing a dozen sweepers with weapons aimed.
Xander stepped out casually, Zat in hand, and opened fire with a rapid fire series of blasts. From behind him another series of electrical blasts spat into the Sweepers. As the assembled group hit the ground, shivering from the discharges running through their bodies, he crooked a grin under his helmet and kept walking.
Behind him he could hear Miss Parker curse as her Initiative Blaster whined into recharge mode. "Damn it. I like your toys better, where'd you get them anyway?"
"Took 'em off a squad of guys who tried to kill me about three thousand light years from here."
Miss Parker stared at the retreating back of Xander's armored form, then looked at Jarod. "Is he serious?"
"I'm never sure."
A few moments in the archives was all they needed.
"You done, Jarod?"
"Yes." He replied, "I've inserted a virus into their system that will search out and destroy all information concerning me, Miss Parker, Sidney, Angelo, and Broots. The Pretender data is also being destroyed as we speak."
Xander nodded, not really understanding the level of emotion in his friends voice. "Charges are planted too, Timers set. We're done here."
They didn't go back up, instead they took the elevator back down to SL19. From there the trio evacuated through an old storm drain system that most of the people at the Centre had long since forgotten about. Assuming they ever knew.
Once they were in the clear Jarod took out a cell phone and hit an autodial button. "Yes, is this the Centre reception? Thank you. I'd like to report a bomb."
As he dropped the phone into a nearby ditch he glanced at Xander, "Time?"
They watched as people stormed out of the building, some hanging around the parking lot while others got in their cars and roared clear of the area. Five minutes later they felt, rather then heard, a shudder ran through the ground. A few moments after that smoke began pouring out of the Centre's doors and windows.
"We done?" Miss Parker asked, looking at the scene with distaste.
"We're done." Jarod responded. "Let's go... home."
A few hours later the three of them were waiting for the next flight to the west coast.
Xander turned to Jarod after a few moments of thought, "Did you finish the plans for the building?"
Jarod smiled, "I sent them to the construction company. They should be well underway by the time we get home."
Xander's eyes widened, "How?"
"The Centre had me design a similar building to use as a CIA safe house and fallback point in the middle east. I lifted the schematics from one of my old sims."
"CIA safe house? Jarod, I just wanted some repairs done... what the hell?"
Jarod just smiled.
"Why am I going back with you?" Miss Parker interjected.
"Why Miss Parker, after you've chased me all around the country I'm hurt that you want to ditch me so quickly."
Parker gave Jarod a dirty look.
Xander decided to have pity on her, something Jarod often seemed to lack. "We thought you might like proof that Vampires exist."
"Oh please." She sounded disgusted.
"Well," Jarod said cheerfully as he pulled a pez from a mickey mouse dispenser, "I have to say that I have yet to see a vampire myself..."
"So I'm expected to take the boy wonder's word for it?"
Jarod shrugged, "I have seen a demon. Or something that certainly wasn't human."
Parker was silent. Jarod wasn't the type to outright lie to her, despite the head games he liked to play. Normally if he said something flat out it was the truth, it was when he turned cryptic that you had better call your therapist and make certain he or she had plenty of couch time for you in the near future.
"Fine." She said finally, "I'll give you your chance monkey boy."
Jarod nudged Xander, "Is this where I should say 'hey!'?"
Parker looked away in disgust, "I need a cigarette."
Giles hung up the phone and turned to Buffy and Willow, "That was Xander, He says that he's coming back tonight."
"Is his friend's family all right?" Willow asked.
"Umm, Yes. Apparently there was a... small fire at their place of business. Things have been cleared out now."
"Quite." Giles said lightly.
Riley looked back and forth between the girls and Mr Giles, "What friend is this anyway that he would take off across the country for them?"
"You do not know Xander Harris, Mr. Finn, and for that reason I will overlook your inane question. There is little that Xander would not do for his friends."
"Ok." Riley said quietly, sitting back.
"Yeah, but Giles," Buffy spoke up, "Riley has a point in a way... I mean, who are these people? I've never met them, and Willow doesn't know them either... Xander isn't exactly the best judge of character sometimes."
"Yeah," Willow spoke up, "remember the mummy incident? Or mantis lady?"
"Right," Buffy jumped in.
"Of course." Giles said testily, "Much like Parker perhaps?"
Buffy turned bright red, and Riley stiffened and leaned forward. "Hey, that was low Giles."
"Y... yes, perhaps it was." Giles adjusted his glasses, "I apologise."
"It's all right, Giles. You're right... We've *all* made some mistakes in the past."
Giles winced at Buffy's stress of the word all. "Yes. Quite."
SGC - Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
"General Hammond, Sir?"
"We're getting hits on the Harris file, Sir. Some unit code-named the Initiative has requests all over the network."
"What the hell?"
"Sir, I can't get access to know more about them then the code name." The officer looked frustrated.
"Don't worry about it, Lieutenant. That's more then we got the last time."
General Hammond retired to his office and sat down heavily in his chair. After a moments deliberation he grabbed the red phone off his desk and spoke into it tersely.
"This is Hammond. Get me the chief."
The man on the other side of the satellite link saluted and cleared his throat. "We raided the complex without incident, Ma'am. It had been evacuated a short while ago. Our tech experts managed to recover some information from their computers, the ones that weren't destroyed, and we are preparing raids at locations across the country as we speak. They have safe houses and satellite offices in nearly every major city, Ma'am."
"Who are these people?"
The man shook his head, "I'm not sure Ma'am. We've already uncovered evidence that they've participated in abducting children, aiding the Yakuza crime syndicate, and were possibly involved in an attempt on the lives of a United Nations Peace delagation."
Walsh whistled, "Nasty bunch then."
"Continue, and report back as things develop."
"Phoebe? This is Xander."
Phoebe brightened up, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I'm calling from the plane, we'll be landing in Sunnydale shortly."
"Did everything go ok?"
"Perfectly." Phoebe could hear the smile in his voice.
"That's great!" She smiled herself, "I wish you would have let us come."
"Thanks for the sentiment, but these weren't demons Phoebe. They just acted like it."
"We help people, Xander. Demons aren't the only evil out there, we know that."
Xander's voice came back gentle. "I know, but it's ok. Everything went according to plan. Besides, there was no point in risking your exposure on this."
Phoebe was silent for a moment, forcing Xander to speak again, "All right already... I'm sorry for leaving you out. Forgive me?"
His voice was so plaintive that the witch giggled into the phone. "You're forgiven. Do it again and I'll turn you into a toad."
"Just as long as it's not a rat." Xander grinned into the received.
"Oh you!" Phoebe growled.
"We're landing, I have to go. I'll see you in a few days, right?"
"Right. You're place or mine?"
"Mine. I have an apartment warming party, remember?"
"Fine. But that's twice in a row I visit you... next time it's your turn."
The big plane touched down smoothly just north of Sunnydale, its occupants delivered safely into the mouth of hell. Only two of the people on board truly appreciated the irony of that, and they weren't talking.
THE END OF : Journeys Book One
Ok guys, this is it for the first part of journeys. I know I promised some B/X in here, but I don't rush my stories... and I don't feel that the characters are ready. There will be B/X in book two... (Anyone think it's presumptuous to call this a 'book'?)
But don't expect it to happen instantly... There will be a major rebuilding of their friendship first... and there will likely be some setbacks along the way. Such is life. I hope to Continue with Book Two (I'll think up a title eventually) soon, but first I have a Wandererverse story to complete and an original novel to add some stuff too. Also there is always RL. :) In the meantime 'Wheels Of Fortune' will be coming along to further expand on the start I've made and keep you entertained. :)
Below is a 'Trailer' for the second book of the Journeys series. This is NOT a teaser. It is several 'clips' from the story that may or may not be in order. Those who do not wish to see this should proceed no further
Xander Harris kneeled down on the gym mat in the dojo. He crossed his legs and carefully laid Elanthielle, his ancient battle staff, on the mat in front of him. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, taking in the oxygen deeply and expelling carbon dioxide. He felt his pulse slow down from his workout, listened to it as it dropped steadily to the point where an observer would have to pay close attention to be certain he was still alive.
He likewise slowed his breathing as he let his mind wander, his thoughts clearing as his body slowly slipped into a sleep state.
Very good, Alexander. Elan's voice came to him, soothing and calming. This is perhaps the best you've done yet. Now we shall try something new.
Excellent indeed, Alexander. Now try this, Elan began, Focus on you're eyes. Imagine an energy building within them, charging them. It starts as a tickle just behind your eyelids, and slowly grows into a strong vibration almost like an electric charge but not painful.
And Xander's eyes snapped open, and glowed a bright silver white that cast reflections and shadows across the room.
Walsh proudly turned to the assembled generals and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to present... Adam."
Xander woke slowly, an odd sensation in the back of his head. He felt like his had a hangover and couldn't remember how he'd earned it. He pried his eyes open when he felt a soft chuff of breath against his ear.
They suddenly snapped wide open when they recognized the source of the breath, driving a spike of pain through his brain as too much light was admitted.
Buffy!? What the hell?
I'm in bed with Buffy and someone else? Who? Oh god. If that's Riley I'm throwing myself out a window, I swear it!
Xander's hand flashed to his through, feeling the dart embedded there as his eyes began to go dark. He crumpled to the ground in a boneless heap, and his last sensations were of being manhandled into the back of the dark SUV.