Forward : Due to ff.net's downtime I elected to begin using a yahoogroup to post my stories to. For those of you who wish to catch the latest parts ahead of the ff.net readers by at least 24 hours then I suggest/ask/beg that you join up at :

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Journeyverse/

I tend to try to post 1-2 parts per day on this group... There also a surprising amount of discussion going on about the verse as well... shrug so if you like that kinda thing then drop by. :)

I am currently undecided whether to continue posting to ff.net, since the downtime I don't even know if anyone is still reading from here or if everyone has moved to the journeyverse group...

Anyway, I'll decide between now and the weekend, On to the story

*****

Jan 25th, '00

"Buffy, you go left with Willow and Tara. Faith, Phoebe, and I will head right." Miss Parker ordered quietly, "Remember what I told you..."

The five girls nodded and said in chorus, "Don't screw up."

Miss parker smiled in that nasty way she always did, "And don't any of you forget it."

Low chuckled sounded as the group split and moved toward the nest. These vampires had apparently opted to ignore the vamp guidebook and had skipped the obligatory abandoned warehouse for a nice suburban home that had been on the local Realtor's sales list for over three months with no serious bids.

Small wonder.

The home had come to Willow's attention when she was perusing the local database's for anything that seemed out of place. The local Realtor's had a semi-private board on the net for their agents to share information. The address in question had several message threads devoted to it. The overall tone of the messages was simple. Don't go near the place, day or night.

Three Realtors and eighteen clients had been injured visiting the home in the past two and a half months. Three more clients and the realtor who had originally been given this particular home to move had vanished. Police *assumed* that all four people had simply packed up their belongings and left town.

Miss parker shook her head, which means that these vamps are fairly smart. They know that the local PD will take any chance it can to cover up a supernatural event, so they steal their victims belongings from their homes and make it look like they moved out. Wouldn't fool a kindergarten child, but when the cops are already looking for a reason to drop the case...

She shook her head clear as she allowed the Dark Slayer to take point, leading the move into the suburban home.

*****

Faith grinned, enjoying the feelings running through her as she approached the back door. Mentally she counted down, knowing that on the other side Buffy was doing the same. When her mental count hit zero, she checked the door.

Locked.

She grinned and glanced back at Parker, who nodded.

One step back, three steps forward.

And the Slayer was standing on the other side of the, shattered, door. He swept into the room, her pistol still riding on her hip. Guns were last resort on this run. The ammunition would fry the house, and maybe a good chunk of the neighborhood if the fire department didn't arrive on time.

A quick glance around the room told her that the vamps weren't in sight, the kitchen was empty. "Nada."

Phoebe and Miss Parker slipped in behind her, stakes on their belt, pistols in their hands.

*****

Buffy checked the door and smiled.

Locked.

A few seconds later that wasn't a problem anymore, and wouldn't be until the Realtor's got up the courage to send a repairman.

The blond slayer moved in fast, her eyes scanning the hall as the pre- dawn light glimmered through the windows and broken door.

"Nothing here."

Behind her Willow and Tara slipped in, spells on their lips, guns on their hips.

*****

The two teams met up in the living room.

"Nothing?" Miss Parker asked, looking at Buffy.

Buffy shook her head.

"Well, they know we're here now. Attic or Basement?"

The Blond looked up, then down. "Basement."

"Right." Miss Parker said, "Careful."

"Always."

*****

Faith looked up at the hatch in the ceiling. "I hate Attics."

"Bitch later. Slay now."

Faith chuckled, looking at Phoebe. "You are a real wiseass, you know that girl?"

Phoebe arced an eyebrow, "Someone must be a bad influence on me."

Parker looked at them, "Could you two do the buddy buddy crap later?"

"Right," Faith jumped up and grabbed the hook in the ceiling, pulling the recessed stairwell down easily. As it opened up Phoebe and Parker covered the hatch with their pistols. Nothing.

"Damn." Faith said, "I hate Attics."

The Slayer shrugged and started up the stairs, a stake in each hand. Halfway up she winced and glanced back. "Vamps." she mouthed silently.

Parker and Phoebe nodded, moving to follow her up the stairs.

*****

Buffy checked the door to the basement. Locked. She shook her head, "Gonna have to knock it down."

Willow and Tara nodded, "They already know we're here anyway... want to go for overkill?"

Buffy smiled, "Talking my language."

The two witches smiled and glanced at each other. Buffy watched a flash of silent communication echo between them and moved quickly out of their path when the focused on the door.

"Obliteratus." The combined voice echoed eerily through the room as the power of the spell charged through the air between them and the door.

As the energy impacted the door it wavered, bending and distorting for a few seconds, then it shattered into splinters that flew down the stairwell.

As the sound of the spell's affect died away, Buffy stepped around and glanced down the stairwell. "Nice."

The two witches nodded and smiled. "Thanks." They said in unison.

*****

Faith stepped cautiously up the stairs, looking around slowly. The barest whisper of air behind her triggered her Slayer enhanced reflexes. She ducked.

A muffled curse was followed by a chunk of something biting into wood.

Faith's eyes opened wide as she recognized the blade of a sword embedded in the attic floorboards ahead of her. "Shit!"

The Slayer spun around and came face to face with a very angry Vampire. "You almost cut me, you bastard."

"That was the idea, bitch."

Faith grabbed the vamp by the collar and pulled hard. With a yelp the vamp came crashing down from his perch, and tumbled down the stairs. As he came to a stop at the bottom he groaned and looked up from the floor into the cold eyes of a dark haired woman.

"Wha?"

"See ya, dusty." Miss Parker said as she drove a stake into his heart. As he dusted she straightened from her kneeling position and nodded up at Faith. "Careful."

Faith rubbed her throat and nodded.

*****

Buffy stepped over the three piles of dust and smiled. The shards of the door had handled the first part of the job for her. I'll have to thank Will for that.

Behind her she could hear the two witches moving slowly. Ahead of her she could feel the presence of at least one more vampire. She flashed a hand sign to Willow and Tara, and pointed ahead into the darkness of the blacked out basement.

Willow nodded, and lifted her hands. "Lumos."

As she spoke the word the three girls clenched their eyes shut, avoiding the blinding glare that swept through the room. A second later they opened their eyes, and blinked as they looked around the fully lit basement.

The girls smiled as they locked onto two more vampires, who were covering their eyes and stumbling about. "Damn! Can't see a damned thing!"

Buffy smiled, "Too bad."

"Who said that?"

The two stakes flashed through the air and buried themselves in the chests of both vamps. As their dust drifted toward the ground Buffy looked around, her face a mask of concentration. A moment later her features cleared.

"No more." She said as she turned back to the Wiccans.

*****

Finally in the attic Faith looked around, guarding the stairwell as the other two stepped up.

"Anymore?" Parker asked in a hushed tone.

Faith just nodded.

The trio moved into the cramped space slowly, stepping cautiously over the random debris. As they came abreast of an old armoire A vampire screamed and leapt out, smashing into Miss Parker and driving the woman to the ground before she could react.

As the struggling duo hit the floor of the attic Faith tried to find room to step in but they rolled clear, both combatants clawing and gouging at the other in a no holds barred fight.

From the middle of the fight they heard Parker growl out, "I could use a hand here."

Phoebe darted forward, stake in hand, and managed to get a hand on the back of the vamps coat. Pulling at it she drove the stake down in a smooth motion.

The vampire screamed, but didn't dust.

"You missed the heart, girl." Faith yelled from where she was hopping over an old box to get at the fight. "Oops."

"Don't say that!" Parker growled, "No 'Oops' ever again, just stake the bastard."

Phoebe pulled back and tried again. This time she was rewarded by the sound of the vamp dusting.

Miss Parker sat up slowly, and rubbed her neck. "Thanks."

"No prob."

Faith grinned at them both. "Attic's clear."

*****

Buffy smiled as she saw Faith walk down the stairs with a wide grin on her face. Everything went ok, then.

"We kicked ass. Two of em dusted."

Buffy smiled, "We win. Five piles in the basement."

Faith smirked, "Well duh. It was the basement after all."

"Could you two argue later?" Miss Parker turned to the three witches. "You guys got what you need?"

"Oh yeah." Phoebe smiled, "Custom made."

"Good."

Phoebe handed out a slip of paper to the other two witches, who looked at it and smiled.

"Cool." Willow said.

The three witches smiled at each other and began to chant in unison.

"Bar this home to intruders foul, protect these walls from evil all. By Wiccan three we do decree, by our word make it so."

A shimmer of light glowed through the house for a second, then was gone.

Miss Parker looked around, "that it?"

The Witches nodded, "Nothing demonic is coming in here for a few days at least, well... nothing short of one of the big boys I mean." Willow nodded in agreement with Phoebe and added, "I'll leave an anonymous tip that they'd better move this place fast... we'll keep an eye on it, and come back if we have to."

Faith grinned, "You guys are wicked."

Willow grinned back, "We're all wicked."

Faith suddenly crowed with laughter.

"What?" Willow asked, perplexed.

"That's us..." Faith grinned, "The Wicked Ones."

*****

Two Weeks Later

Miss Parker shucked her coat, tossing it haphazardly against the far wall as she closed the door to her room. Slowly she stretched out her muscles, groaning in a cat-like purr as she felt the tension under the surface of her skin. She shifted her neck, and winced at the slight pain in the muscles, then smiled.

She peeled off her silk blouse and tossed it onto the bed, her eyes absently watching its trajectory. When it landed on a metal case she looked sharply at the bed. What the?

She lifted her blouse off the aircraft aluminum casing and looked at it closely. On top was a card that said, simply, 'A Gift.'

She smiled, and opened the case.

Her breath hitched as she looked over the contents. Inside was a custom built Smith, she presumed from Konzaki's bench. The weapon had been completely retooled, and she could feel the difference when she balanced it in her hand.

"Nice."

It was a nickel and chrome plated 9mm, same model as she carried normally. But the similarities ended there. The action was smoother, the trigger had the feel of an electric typewriter key instead of the long pull she was used to, and the sights had been redone with a tritium 'three-dot' system. Inset into the grip was an unobtrusive 'Crimson Trace' laser system that activated as soon as her hand closed around the weapon.

Very nice.

After examining the weapon she looked inside the case and pulled out the remaining contents. Six clips, each marked with a band of paint along the base. She looked at a card that had been nestled in with the clips.

"Explosives are Red, AP is blue, Hollow-points you'll know... To Miss P, Thank you."

She frowned/smiled as she read the card and looked over the boxes of ammunition settled in beside the clips. Rereading the note she smiled, Jarod, you do know a way to a girl's heart.

*****

Hey Faith, "Xander smiled as the Dark Slayer slipped into the room. "Feeling a little up tonight?"

Faith grinned at him, "Oh, I'm feelin fine, lover. How 'up' are you?"

Xander chuckled shook his head, and pulled her onto the bed beside him. "You really are wicked you know that?"

"What?" Faith pulled away for a sec, looking at him curiously.

Xander looked surprised by her sudden motion, "Wicked... you know, nasty? Evil, in a good way..." He grinned and played his eyebrows at her.

Faith relaxed and grinned, "Come on Lover, you don't know the half of it... but I'll show ya."

The two quickly got closer and were shortly rolling around the bed.

*****

"I'm home!" Phoebe called out, looking around. "Hello?"

No one answered her so she turned back to where Jenny stood behind her, "Thanks for the... lift. I guess, you call it..."

Jenny grinned, "No problem. Glad you asked me, Leo had some plans with your Sister this weekend that I don't think he wanted interrupted."

Phoebe grinned, "I know. Who do you think helped him set them up?"

The Whitelighter laughed softly, "A girl after my own heart. I hope your visit was ok?"

Phoebe nodded, "Yeah. Wish we could have done more for that Coven though..."

Jenny nodded, "We did what we could. And at least we've prevented a recurrence."

Phoebe tilted her head in an affirmative manner. "Yeah. Hard to believe that sort of thing could happen today you... you know?" "Fear and panic lead people to do frightening things." Jenny said somberly, then she abruptly shook her head and tried to clear the thoughts. "Anyway, did you have that talk with Xander?"

Phoebe nodded.

"That bad huh?"

"Not really..." Phoebe said, "But I don't think we'll be getting back together..."

Jenny nodded, "Why?"

"Something he said..." She trailed off, "It sort of hit me."

"What?"

"He told me that he couldn't give me what I wanted... what he thought I deserved. He said he could probably give me what I needed... but sometimes that wasn't enough."

Jenny smiled sadly, "That boy has moments of actual wisdom. Problem is, I can never tell them apart from when he's being a complete ass."

Phoebe snorted, bubbling laughter forcing its way out of her lungs. "I know exactly what you mean."

"You giving up on him?"

Phoebe looked her in the eyes, "Never. But that doesn't mean that I think we should be together either."

Jenny shrugged, "Do as you will. That's the biggest blessing and most horrible curse I can offer."

"Thanks. I think."

The Whitelighter smiled and vanished in column of light, and a peal of laughter.

*****

Willow and Tara let out twin breaths of relief as the collapsed onto their bed. "That was horrible."

Tara just nodded in agreement.

"I never knew it could be so bad..."

Tara nodded, "I kn... know. It was like... being... *there*." Willow shuddered and Tara felt the shiver run through the bed. She turned to her lover and pulled her into an embrace, "That's why we have to be careful... you see that now right?"

Willow nodded, burying her head in Tara's shoulder. Her voice was muffled when she spoke, "I know..."

"Good." tara whispered, as she lifted Willow's chin with one hand.

Willow looked at her and smiled hesitantly, "Thank you..."

Tara smiled back and bent her head in, capturing Willow's lips in a deep kiss. Moments later the two Wiccans were entwined in each others arms.

"Wicked." Willow whispered between kisses.

END