Alrighty, another of my new BtVS fanfictions, along with Dealing With Denial and Who Am I. Another story, Five by Five, Or Are We, will be posted soon as well.

Hope you enjoy!


Chapter One

Xander watched on with everyone else as Buffy silently surveyed them all and began her ascent up the stairs. He couldn't quite decipher what he was feeling. On the one hand, he was glad that she had returned in one piece, she didn't seem to have been harmed any. But on the other hand, he could feel slow anger building as he thought about the carelessness with which she had entered the portal, not bothering to consider what the 'trade' referred to, not worrying that all of them had had to risk their lives to fight off a demon without a Slayer, not even seeming to notice that all of them were slightly injured or drained in some way or the other.

And there was still a splicing of his anger at the big speech that she had given everybody earlier in the evening. A very uplifting speech, he thought dryly. Yeah, she was their defacto-leader, he had long ago come to terms with that, what with the supernatural abilities and all, but he couldn't believe that she had so abruptly brushed off his reminder of their friendship. She sure had a great way to inspire the bunch of girls that had come to her for safety and protection and were instead being forced to put their lives on the line to help her. The best way was of course to tell them that if they felt scared of their imminent death possibilities they were basically copying the girl that had killed herself. He couldn't help but think that the Buffy he used to know had left a good chuck of her humanity and compassion behind in her grave the year before.

The ringing of the telephone cut into his thoughts. He glanced around the destroyed room, noting the broken furniture, the despondent faces. Sighing, he made his way over to the telephone and answered in what he hoped was a neutral tone. He had no idea who would be calling Scooby Central, especially considering the time of night that it was.

"Xander? Is everything alright?" came the reply laced with concern. Ah, that makes sense...

"Yeah, Giles, everything's..." he glanced around the room once more before continuing. "Everything's fine, just tired, I guess."

"Yes, I imagine the stress of things must be getting to everybody at the moment," Giles sighed in return. "Xander, I apologise for the hour, but I received quite an interesting, and honestly unsettling, phone call earlier. I was hoping I could trust your help and discretion," he questioned.

Xander lightly scratched his head at the vagueness of the request. "Uh, yeah, I guess..." he trailed off, hoping to draw more information. Of course, nothing could quite have prepared him for the information he received.

"The phone call was from Wesley," Giles began, and Xander noted the slight hesitation in his voice. "It appears that..." he paused, "Angelus is loose once more."

Xander tensed at this. Great, just what they needed on top of dealing with the First was Angelus to be out terrorising people. Or worse, on his way to Sunnydale to assist with the slaughtering of the Potentials.

"Oh, God..." he breathed, picturing the devastation that could lay ahead.

"Now, I believe that you needn't worry about the girls in Sunnydale, there appears to be plenty going on in Los Angeles that is keeping him occupied for the time being." Giles assured him. "It seems to be a long story, one that I am not fully aware of myself, but Wesley and the others are having a lot of difficulty in locating Angelus, much less attempting to reinstate his soul."

Now he realised where the conversation was going. He glanced over at Willow sitting slumped on the couch, clearly still exhausted from her many attempts at returning Buffy from wherever that portal had taken her. He really didn't know if she had it in her. Just as he was opening his mouth to tell as much to Giles, he heard the voice over the line continue.

"I suggested to Wesley about utilising Willow's skills in that department, but at the time being it appears that another demon, one of which they have little to no information on, currently has possession of Angel's soul, thereby any attempts at restoring it will be futile. And with the unknown location of Angelus himself at the moment, not to mention the devastation in Los Angeles at the moment, Wesley has thought it for the best to hold off on any restoration until they at least have Angelus captures. He has come up with a rather..." he could almost hear Giles struggling for the right word, "controversial plan."

Taking in all the information Giles had relayed, he was having trouble figuring out where Giles was going with this. A controversial plan? Did he want to send Buffy to LA to capture Angelus? Given what happened back in high school, he could only imagine the time that would take. Time that was desperately needed to be spent here. But why was he asking for his help? Xander couldn't think of anything he could do against Angelus, except provide some sarcasm, threats and bruises on Angelus' knuckles. Why did he need to use his discretion? Did he not want Buffy to know?

As all of these questions circled his head, he almost missed the next words out of Giles' mouth. Once they registered, he almost needed to ask him to repeat them, because he couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Wesley plans on visiting Stockton Women's Correctional Facility and convincing Faith to help with the situation. Apparently he believes that Faith is the best possible person for this job..." Giles admitted, sighing heavily. The sigh seemed to indicate less of a disapproval and more of a hesitance. Xander could just feel there was more to it, but he still couldn't move on from this shocking piece of news.

"He what?" Xander nearly shouted, causing all heads in the room to swerve in his direction. Not releasing the phone, Xander turned towards the group sheepishly. Thankfully he noted that the only people that remained were Spike, Robin and Dawn. He just hoped that none of them cared quite enough to question him. The only one he really worried about was Dawn. The young woman was too smart and observant for her own good at times.

Apparently accepting Xander's tone as clearly expected, Giles continued to explain, causing Xander to turn his back on the three other occupants of the room. "From what I have gathered, there are quite a few members of Angel's cohorts gathering to help, Cordelia being one of them, as well as Wesley himself. But apparently Wesley is the only one currently holding up hold for any form restoration of Angel's soul. Wesley believes that given his own help in Faith's previous situation that she is likely to be the only one to be fully committed to Angel's rehabilitation, as it were, as opposed to extermination. I'm not entirely sure if I agree with his decision, but as I am not even in the country at the moment, I suppose I am forced to accept his judgment on this one.."

Xander sighed deeply. He just couldn't believe this. Faith. Faith, Miss Larger Than Life, who turned evil and aligned herself with the Mayor who was working towards becoming a giant pure demon bent on destroying all of Sunnydale. Faith, who from everything he had gathered from Buffy, had tried to kill Angel and had tortured Wesley himself for hours on end, and ended up in jail. And now Wesley wanted to help her bust out of prison to help restrain Angelus' long enough to shove a soul back in him. He couldn't wrap his head around it.

"Is anyone thinking clearly these days?" he muttered inadvertently into the mouthpiece of the phone.

"I understand your feelings in regard to this, Xander, and I must admit, I myself am not entirely comfortable with the idea of releasing Faith, but as strange as it may seem, Wesley assures me that Faith has changed. He was not entirely forthcoming about the events that occurred prior to Faith's incarceration, but from what I gather, it appears that Faith herself surrendered herself to the authorities, willingly. And it seems that Faith made quite a 'breakthrough' while in Angel's care, although I am not sure what that breakthrough entailed," Giles informed him. "More importantly, however, given the circumstances of the First's threat and the immediate need of a Slayer guarding the Potentials, I am forced to agree that it seems the only option available. Furthermore, it would be quite useful for another Slayer to help in the battle if Faith is indeed successful in assisting Wesley and Angel in this matter," he begrudgingly conceded.

Xander sighed. Damn it, he thought mildly angrily, why does he have to get all logical on me? He had some pretty good points and, given Buffy's ever changing views, it might actually be good to have another strong fighter on their side. Assuming she is on your side, his brain screamed loudly. He pushed the thought aside.

"Fine, I guess you have a point there. So what help do you want from me?" he asked, curiosity and disbelief seeping into his tone.

"Given your past history with Faith, and the uncertainty surrounding her alliances, I thought it would be best if you could accompany Wesley to retrieve her from the prison. Just keep an eye on her, report back to me if you have any concerns about what is going on?" Giles requested tiredly.

Xander paused. He had no real desire to interact with Faith given the whole strangling thing that occurred between them. But he guessed if she was actually reformed and would be returning to Sunnydale to help anyway, it probably would be best to get all that awkward re-meeting thing away from the accusing eyes of Buffy and the curious eyes of the Potentials. He looked around the room once more as he considered his options. He didn't really do that much around Scooby Central that couldn't be skipped for a few days. He hoped it was only a few days, anyway. He helped with training sometimes, but mostly left that to Buffy, Spike or even Kennedy. He generally fixed things around the house, but if they actually chipped in cleaning up the trashed room he was in, he guessed that he wouldn't be needed too bad. He kept up morale, but there was still Willow and even, strangely, Andrew who helped with that as well. But could he really just take off in the middle of the biggest Apocalypse they'd ever had?

He thought for a moment. He was, under normal circumstances, a shoulder than Buffy depended on, asked for advice, those sorts of things. But lately that had fallen to Spike. And given his anger still dripping through him about Buffy's latest attitudes...

"I guess I'm going to LA..." he sighed.


There you go, don't worry, Faith herself will feature soon, don't think I could write this myself if she didn't...always had a soft spot for our lovable yet tough chick Dark Slayer!

Please review if you like!

AShadowedLife

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