Title: Embracing Darkness

Title: Embracing Darkness

Author: Faith Harris

Summary: Xander, Faith, and Spike have returned after three years. Notice I love these returning back after (fill in length of time) stories? Well, they're back, and they've brought a power to Sunnydale that no one could imagine any of them wielding- to fight an evil equally powerful. And guess what- Buffy is pissed at all of them. But that doesn't matter when the remaining members of the Scooby gang discover that sometimes you need to fight pure evil with pure darkness (notice I didn't say you have to fight it with pure evil) and this darkness comes with a price…

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel: The Series, or anything associated with the show. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own that. I do own all the Hunters- 'cept the Lady (You'll see) and the Characters that are not on either of the aforementioned (oooo…big words) shows, such as Christopher, Leijah, etc.

Distribution: If you ask, you can have. If you put my name on it.

Time: around 2003. I go along with the show until about "Where the Wild Things Are" then I go from there. Well, actually, Xander leaves shortly after that episode, and ADAM was destroyed.



What is it? What makes us tick, what makes us feel the slightest amount of love, of pain, of anger, of fear? Is it only one part of us? One part of our soul? Or many different parts? Do the signals ever get confused, mixed, smashed together?

I think I was once able to distinguish these things from one another. But not anymore. The darkness has destroyed that now.

There are so many forms of darkness. There are the ones that scare you, which you avoid, and run from, your heart racing, and your face white. Those types of darknesses I've experienced all my life- starting with my father.

There is the type of darkness that is a nightmare, that just repeats itself, the same thing, but different people, time and time again, the darkness that you convinced yourself as a child that if you just lay with your head under the covers and laid very still, it would go away. I've seen that darkness too, I've fought it, along with Slayer, and others, since I was in high school. I've confronted it, and it no longer frightens me. I've become stronger, even after I left the Slayer. And I found others who confronted the darkness.

Then there is the type of Darkness that destroyed my ability to differentiate between love, pain, anger, and fear. It is the kind of darkness that doesn't scare you. It terrifies you, makes you paralyzed with fear. But you still go to it for comfort. You still run to it, let it embrace you, change you.

And you forget all else.

That's what she is to me. Faith.

It's not just her share of the darkness that's changed me. I suppose that the other Hunters had something to do with it. After all, they are like brothers and sisters to me, and The Lady Of the Night is like a mother.

There is no father. That place is reserved for one Rupert Giles, the man who was more of a father than my father was.

I shouldn't have left, I suppose. But I have returned. Not to make things right. But to bring my own darkness and kill the darkness that once scared me.

This may make no sense now, but it will.

Oh, it will.

But you may not like it.


I did a spell today. The searching spell I've always done since that night Xander disappeared. I know that Giles has always said it was pointless, with a tear in his eye, but I still try. He has given up.

Speaking of giving up, Buffy has too. When she speaks of him- which is rare- she mad at him. She used to be really sad, and bring up memories of things that had happened. But now she says that he was an idiot to leave, and if he died…he deserved it. And she deludes herself now, saying that he was never that good of a friend anyway. That he was never there for us anyway.

Which is a lie. We were never there.

But back to the point. I did the spell today, and I found something. I felt his energy. I didn't see an image at all, but I felt him, heard him whispering in my ear, "Willloooooooooww, soon." Goddess, what does that mean?

I'm scared though. It was him. It was his energy. He wasn't possessed, or controlled. But he sounded- not like himself.




I'm so scared. What does it mean? Oh Goddess help me, what does it mean?


I'm worried. They've been acting weird since we entered Sunnydale. Faith has gotten quiet, real quiet. She only speaks to Xander and Spike, and even then, it's in whispers, as if someone's listening in. she's hiding something about her time here. I feel it.

I don't need to read her mind to know. I guess I can read her mind, but I feel like I'm violating her. I've never had to dig into her head before. I've never wanted to either.

Usually, I'm the one people need a mind reader for.

Spike isn't much different. He doesn't speak much, and smokes even more than he did before Leijah got him to quit. And the only words that he says are about how the Slayer there is going to have his head.

I wouldn't blame her. He did try to kill her and all she knew.

Xander is suddenly in Boss mode. I mean, he's the leader- aside from the Lady-, so it shouldn't be surprising. But he never just barked out orders before. He doesn't even help me and Andarnis play tricks on anyone anymore. It's really scary.

I know that they have reasons to worry. I would be worried to, if it wasn't for the fact that all the people I knew in Sunnydale are dead. Long gone and dead.

But I'm scared for them


Oh dear lord. I thought I was over it. I thought I was over him. Over Xander's leaving. That dork left us here without a word, without a note. I shouldn't care anymore.

But am I going insane now?

I saw him today. I was patrolling. I was fighting a vamp, and it just dusted. I looked at the place it stood, and right there was Xander, holding a stake. He smiled evilly at me, a smile that reminded me of when Faith had been evil and she used to smile. He was wearing all black= black jeans, black tee shirt, black combat boots, and a black leather jacket. He dropped the stake on the ground in front of me. And then he just walked away.

I was coming out of my daze, when all of a sudden, a mist wrapped around him, thick and black. And then he disappeared. Was it even him? I wish I knew.


We're back.


Spike sat down at the desk, putting his feet up on the table, cigarette in his hand. He glared at Christopher, whose face was hidden behind an Anne Rice book. Spike stayed there, and started to tap out a beat on the armrest of the chair.

"I know you're there," Chris said, not putting down the book, "And I wish you would go away." Spike grinned, and sat straight up.

"Come on, mate, you know you love me." Chris glared at him, before putting the book down.

"What the hell do you want, Spike?"

"I want to go out. As in out the factory. To eat." Spike said, "And Xander thinks that I can't go out without someone to protect me from the slayer" Chris got up.

"Well, you came to me because?" he asked.

"Cause you can bloody read her mind and then control it!" He said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Which it was. Chris sighed. He didn't like Spike, and he had tried to make that perfectly clear. But he couldn't have him dead. Even though they both wanted to find each other in a ditch somewhere, they worked best together. It might have been because they both enjoyed the killing part of the job description.

Chris sighed again, and Spike knew he was going to go. He stood, and straightened his jacket. Then he looked at Chris out from the corner of his eye, the evil smile still there.

"Who knows, Killer," Spike started, using his nickname for Chris, "maybe you'll get a little blood on your hands tonight." Chris laughed, imagining holding his gun in someone's face again.

"Sorry, we're on the good side, remember?" He reminded Spike, who let out a groan and said, "Just because we're the New Generation of White Hats doesn't mean you should give up the kill completely. You got a talent, and it takes practice to get better at it."

"I'll wait until we have to torture an answer out of demon to have fun, Spike. I'm not gonna hear m'lady screaming cause I felt the urge to blow somebody's head off." Chris said, putting on his bubble jacket that had been lying on the table. Along with his gun, pocketknife, and a stake. Spike eyed the gun, eyebrow raised.

"You say you've stopped killing," he mused, "But I smell blood on that knife. You washed it off, but…" Chris moved faster than Spike had realized he was capable of moving. Spike soon found himself pinned on the wall, Chris holding him with one hand by his neck. Spike's cigarette fell on the floor. Chris stomped it out. Then his eyes clouded, and turned completely black. Spike's eyes grew wide. Even he didn't usually get Chris this pissed.

"If you spill this to anyone," Chris growled, and his voice came out deep and raspy, "I will rip apart every piece of organ you have left after I empty a clip in your stomach and head. And then I won't even need the stake to drive into your heart. Got it?" Spike shook his head quickly. Chris dropped him, and Spike fell on the floor. After he resumed his composure, and Chris's eyes had turned back to their normal brown, he asked, "So, was it a good kill?" Chris shut his eyes, smiling, nodding.

"It was great." He murmured, "A sweet little chick, vulnerable, weak, about 18. Blonde, brown eyes. Tortured her too, with the pocketknife, before shooting. She screamed too. A real, terrified scream. I didn't even have to ask for that." He opened his eyes, "Why do people try so hard not to scream these days? Do they think that'll stop them from dying?" Spike shrugged.

"You kill without your weird eyes. I kill with my face on." Spike said, "I don't have to ask for it. They do it naturally." Chris rolled his eyes.

"Showoff." He snorted, while putting his gun in the holster hidden on his belt, under his shirt and his jacket. The pocketknife went in a small pocket hidden on the inside of his boot, and the stake inside an inside pocket. Spike crossed his arms.

"Well, hurry it up." He said impatiently. Chris ignored him, and walked out the room. Spike came out after him.

"Hey, mate, wait!" he yelled after him. Chris ignored him and continued to walk. He started to walk down the steps, and decided to wait for Spike to catch up. Spike came up to him, glaring. Chris grinned and walked downstairs.

"Watch it Spike." Leijah said as Spike ran straight into her. He moved away, but not before squeezing her rear. Leijah gave him the finger, and Spike faked offense. Chris rolled his eyes again. Leijah and Spike made him sick. All they ever did was feel on each other and bicker. According to Xander, they were worse than him and his old girlfriend Cordelia.

All Chris knew was that they made him want to hurl.

Leijah and Spike continued to fondle, until Chris tapped him on the shoulder.

"Mmmm?" Spike asked.

"Blood." Chris reminded him. Spike quickly pried himself away from Leijah, who acted angry.

"Well, looks like you'll be sleeping in your own room tonight." She yelled as Spike followed Chris out.

"Because you'll be there too, love!" Spike retorted. Chris shook his head and sighed before leaving the factory.


"So you really saw him?" Willow asked excitedly, "I knew he was here, I knew it! I felt him here when I did the spell, I did!" Buffy looked at Willow skeptically as she watched her happy friend. She almost wished she hadn't told her.

"We can't get our hopes up, Will." She said warily, "He did look…different. It could be that he's possessed or something." Willow shook her head.

"No. I felt it." She insisted. She looked at Buffy's face and frowned. "You think that I'm just imagining this because I want him back, don't you?" Buffy shook her head.

"I don't know, Will. I just don't think we should- oh my god." Buffy looked past Willow.

"Is it Xander?" she asked hopefully. Buffy shook her head no, distracted. She held her stake tighter. Willow turned to face what Buffy was seeing. She gasped, fear invading all parts of her mind.


Buffy sped up, walking in Faith's direction. Faith was sitting next to a grave, watching it. Buffy walked straight in front of her. Faith looked up, startled.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Buffy demanded to know, "What, you weren't done torturing us?" Faith stood up, scrambling. She pointed to the grave.

"Look B, I was told to patrol, all right?" she said. Buffy glared.

"I'm sure you were." Buffy snorted, "I guess you just wanted to wait here and then wait until we came by, uh?"

"B, I didn't…" Faith looked towards Willow, "Red, I'm, I'm sorry…I…" Willow turned away, and caught movement by a small mausoleum nearby.

"Buffy…" she started. Buffy didn't let her eyes move from Faith.

"Did you come back for Riley?" She snapped, "Well he isn't here, so you can just-" a gun that was now pointing at the side of her head cut Buffy off. Faith looked worriedly at the person who wielded the gun. Willow gasped, and a cold hand covered her mouth.

"Shhhh, Red" came the familiar whisper. Willow's eyes went wide as she realized it was Spike.

"Now, Faith, was the bimbo Slayer bothering you?" Came the deep voice of the person with the gun.

"Chris, don't." Faith said, "Put the gun down. I know you're trigger happy, but we're not here to kill any humans." Chris grumbled and put the gun back in its holster. Buffy quickly punched him, and was about to do more, when Faith grabbed her arm.

"No one dies now." She said. Buffy laughed.

"Since when did you start caring whether or not I kill someone?" Buffy said. Willow made a muffled noise, and Buffy was prepared to stake Spike.

"Spike, let go of the girl." Chris commanded. Spike stepped back, letting go. Willow stood next to Buffy.

"Looks like Spike and Faith found a new friend to help kill us." Buffy quipped.

"If I wanted to, Slayer," Chris said nonchalantly, "I could have you and the red-headed chick there kill each other." Willow looked at him, and watched in shock as his eyes changed from normal brown, to complete black orbs. He was smiling, and Willow felt the power radiate off of him. She had gotten good at that over the past few years.

"You're scaring the bloody hell out of her mate." Spike interjected, "They think we're here to kill them, and your not making it any better."

"Oops." Chris said sarcastically, "My bad." Spike laughed. Willow was very confused.

"Buffy, they're not trying to kill us." Willow squeaked, "That's a good thing- and oh, isn't it interesting that Faith and Spike show up when you saw Xander?" Chris looked at them, surprised.

"He showed himself already? Didn't think he would do that. Thought he'd think of laying low. Idiot." He shrugged.

"You three are with him?" Buffy screamed, "I can't believe this! Xander would never, ever, never-" Faith looked at her.

"Hang out with three ex-murderers?" Faith said, "Well, guess what, B, things change. People change. We've changed. And so has Xander. So what, B? Red? Were you two planning to exact revenge or something? Because I have other things to do." Buffy slammed her into a tree.

"Don't tempt me Faith, because I will…"

"You won't do anything." Spike moaned, "Because we know where Xander is, and if you kill anyone of us, especially her, he will never come near you again." Buffy let Faith go.

"You take us to Xander, and we don't have a reason to kill any of you." Buffy said.

"We don't take you to him, but we arrange a meeting. Five of us- one of whom is Xander- meet with you guys, wherever you want." Chris stated. Buffy looked like she was going to say 'forget it', but she looked at Willow, and she looked so hopeful that she nodded.

"Fine. Tomorrow, 9:00pm, Giles's house. Xander should know the way." She said. And without another word, she left. Willow strayed behind for a moment.

"Xander is…good? Happy?" she asked. Faith looked at her.

"Red, me and him are…" She started. Willow's eyes became pools.

"Involved?" she filled in, "Whoa, I guess you were right…a lot has changed. But, how is he?"

"He's fine now. He's been talking about seeing you guys since before we got here." Faith answered. Willow nodded, smiling, before going off with Buffy. Chris pulled out his knife and sat on the ground.

"Can I kill the Slayer? It'd be interesting to see how long it would take to make her scream." Chris commented.

"Try to kill her boyfriend." Spike said.

"Really? Cool." Chris said. Faith looked at both of them and they shut up.

"Now, we have to tell Xander we arranged a meeting with them. Without asking him first." Faith said. Spike waved his hand.

"No problem. He won't even give."


"You did what!" Xander yelled. Spike slumped down in his seat.

"It wasn't me, really, it was more of Chris doing the talking at that point…." He babbled. Xander proceeded to go to the wall and start banging his head against the wall.

"I'm not ready to talk to them, I can't." He started to chant. Chris swallowed. Xander didn't usual get like this. There was reason to be scared. Faith, he saw, was glaring at Spike. He won't even give, he had said. Chris made a mental note to give Spike a few bullets in his kneecaps later on.

Xander started to pace. What was he going to say to any of them? He could guess their reactions. Buffy would be psychotic. Willow would be happy. Giles would be happy, but on guard, thinking it probably wasn't him. Riley would hate him, as always, which was fine by him. Anya would be angry he was with someone else. Tara would be confused about why he was back and why he had so much energy stored inside him.

Why did the Powers that Be hate him so very much? Had he done something to deserve this? He was a good guy. A slightly wild good guy, but a good guy nonetheless.


Xander sat down finally. Everyone watched him, nervous. Xander leaned back in his chair.

"Five of us, you said?" Xander asked Spike.

"Yeah. At the Watcher's place." Spike said.

"Still Giles?" Xander asked.

"Yes." Faith answered. Xander nodded to himself.

"So it'll be us and…Eric."

"Hell no." Chris said, "He's not coming with us." Xander glanced at Chris.

"Who would you bring? Rachel?" Xander said, talking about the girl that Chris was currently sleeping with. Chris shook his head no.

"I'll regret this, but Leijah should come." He said after a moment, "She's nice. She and that red-head, Willow, could get along." Xander nodded in agreement.

"Spike, get Leijah." Xander ordered. Spike got up.

"Keeps talking to me like I'm some puppy to be ordered around…" Spike began to rant to himself.

"Oh yeah…Spike?" Chris piped up before Spike left. Spike turned.

"What is it?" he asked. Chris pulled out his gun and shot Spike in the arm. Spike held the arm and for a second he nearly collapsed from the pain and how deep the bullet had went.

"Why the bloody hell did you do that?" he cried. Chris shrugged.

It wasn't the kneecaps, but it would do.

"So guys," Xander said, standing up, "looks like there's gonna be a gathering. Chris?"

"Yup?" he said.

"Don't show off your gun."


Giles was tired of watching Willow pace anxiously around his house. Buffy was on the stairs, her eyes following Willow's feet. To the bookshelf. To Giles's stool. To the fireplace. Back again.

"Willow, could you please sit down. It's rather unnerving, watching you pace." Giles proclaimed. Willow stood still.

"Sorry, it's just, like, Xander's back, he's being of the back, in the most back sense of the word!" Tara walked over and slipped her hand into Willow's. It seemed to have an instant calming affect. Willow took a breath, and she sat down. Tara did the same.

"Giles, he's with Faith and Spike." Buffy said, "And there was a guy that Faith specifically called a murderer."

"Ex-murderer." Willow corrected. Giles removed his glasses to clean them.

"If it is true, in fact, that this young man was reformed, then perhaps Xander had some part in reforming him. If not…Xander might be very different from when we knew him." Giles declared.

"He didn't seem very reformed when he was sticking a gun in my face." Buffy mumbled.

"But him and Faith were friends. He was protecting her." Willow countered. Buffy turned to her.

"Will, you can't keep making excuses for his 'friends'. They're not safe people, and we have to face that fact.". Willow frowned, and nodded. Just then there was a knock on the door. Everyone looked at each other before Giles got up to open the door. Everyone stood up, tensed and hopeful.

There Xander stood, and the door, wearing a pair of black leather pants, and black muscle shirt, and a leather jacket. He had on a pair of sunglasses and his hair was the length it had been when Buffy had first met him. He had his arm around Faith's waist. Faith wore a pair of jeans and a white tee. Behind them, they saw Spike in his usual attire, Chris with a pair of khakis, a gray tee shirt, and his bubble jacket, and a girl with long dyed red hair that wore a long maroon skirt and a matching tube shirt. The Scooby gang stepped back. This was not the Xander they knew.

"Giles, hi." Xander said. Giles hugged him.

"We've missed you Xander." He said. Xander grinned lopsided.

"Ditto." He said. Giles moved so Xander and his friends could come in. As they did, Buffy noticed that the upper part of Spike's left arm was bandaged tightly.

"Will, Tara, gimme some hugs." Xander spread his arms out for Tara and Willow and they came, Willow hugging as if for dear life.

"Told you I'd be here soon." Xander whispered in her ear, and she jumped back. Tara stepped back with her. Xander moved to where Buffy was on the steps. She walked down a couple of steps, but made no move to hug him, or even shake his hand. Xander stood at the bottom of the steps for a moment, arms crossed, waiting for Buffy to make the first move. When she made none, he turned to the others.

"You all know Spike and Faith, and Willow and Buffy have had the unpleasant experience of meeting Chris, our personal assassin - by the way, Buffy, he apologizes for nearly shooting you- and this lovely lady is Leijah, our resident hacker and peacemaker. Except when it comes to Spike." Xander introduced everyone. Chris looked confused.

"I'm sorry for that?" he asked. Leijah elbowed him.

"Yes you are. Very sorry." She said. Willow giggled, but stopped once she remembered his eyes from the night before.

"You may all sit, you know." Willow said. Spike sat on Giles's desk chair, Faith on the desk, Leijah sat on the couch, and Chris remained standing along with Xander. Chris had made no motion to take off his jacket, although both Xander and Spike had taken theirs off.

"Assassin?" Buffy asked. Xander nodded.

"Actually, I do mostly torture jobs," Chris corrected, "But occasionally I do assassinations." Giles swallowed nervously.

"Sorry, but I do not understand. Why would you need to assassinate anyone?" he asked.

"Well, we do the whole demon hunter group thing, so if we need to assassinate human trying to work with demon, Killer loves it." Spike explained. Everyone stared at Spike.

"What?" he wondered, lighting another cigarette.

"William…" Leijah warned, and Spike sighed and put the cigarette out. Leijah smiled and blew a kiss.

"God, Lei, don't you guys ever stop?" Faith said. Leijah stuck her tongue out at her. Chris put his hand to his forehead.

"These are the world acclaimed Hunters." He sighed. Giles looked at Chris.

"Did you say the Hunters?" Giles choked out, "The Watcher's Council- when I was employed by them- said that they had disbanded after their Leader died." Leijah shook her head.

"We just went underground. The Lady decided that the Council was too conservative. They tried to control the Hunters, and some of us" Leijah looked pointedly at Chris and Spike, "can't handle authority." Spike smiled at her.

"The Hunters?" Willow said, and then she got excited, "Oh, I read about them. They were like the little society type thing that killed demons. They had even discovered a way to destroy a Hellmouth- but they weren't very nice. They were-"

"Practically evil?" Xander filled in.

"Had a tendency to kill the evil, but not protect the innocent?" Chris added.

"Killers?" Spike said. Willow nodded keeping silent.

Buffy actually got off the steps now and marched over to Xander.

"So this is what you are now? I thought you wanted to protect people? How could you not want to? This is insane, Xander."

"I never said that was me." Xander mumbled. Faith stood up.

"Look, out of all of us, Xander cares the most. He even got Chris to the point of nearly caring, okay? So don't jump him B. He's doing his best." Faith argued. Chris looked down at the floor, swallowing slightly. He didn't like being used as an example.

This is not my Xander; Buffy's thoughts came flooding into Chris's head, un asked for.

This is not him. He would never join a group with a reputation like this. He wouldn't hang out with psychotic group like this. Especially with Faith. Even he can't believe she's actually changed. People don't just change like that. No one does. And Spike? That soulless bastard. I don't trust any of them.

"You have reason not to." Chris said to Buffy. Buffy looked shocked.


"Trust us. You have no reason to trust us." Chris explained. Buffy's eyes grew wide.

"I didn't say that. I thou-" Buffy was at a loss for words. Chris tapped his temple.

"Your thoughts are loud. I didn't try to read them, so don't try to kill me. They floated in my head." Chris explained, tensing up incase Buffy did try something. She looked like she wanted to. Chris didn't blame her. His killing instinct was on overload. He wanted to rip her throat out. He took a breath, reminding himself that Xander wouldn't really appreciate that.

"Now he's reading my thoughts!" Buffy screamed, "Xander, you're hanging out with a murderer who reads minds?"

"And controls them, occasionally." Xander mumbled under his breath. Buffy looked like she was about to responded, but Giles interrupted.

"Did you say that you knew how to close a Hellmouth?" he asked. Leijah nodded.

"It takes a lot of energy. See, it involves finding the local Power demon and killing them to unstabilize the mouth, and then you need to be ready for it to open. And then you use someone's energy to close it for good. We were able to use Chris in New York, but it's not really recommended, unless of course you have a year's supply of tranquilizers." Leijah said. Giles leaned forward.

"Why is that?" he inquired. Spike answered, "He'll go insane from the strain on his mind."

"It opens me to all the thoughts of everyone in Hell. And in Sunnydale, until the point where I can't tell the difference between those thoughts and my own." Chris whispered. He shivered as he remembered the two times. All those thoughts, all the demons' thoughts, melding into one thought in his head: kill. But it wasn't the natural urge he was used to feeling, and could control when necessary. This was something beyond him, something that wasn't him.

"Why can't you use someone else?" Willow asked.

"No one so far has had enough energy stored inside them to close a Hellmouth and live." Leijah explained. Willow nodded in understanding. Buffy bowed her head.

"So it's always gonna be open. Great."

"Actually, the reason we're here is to try to close it. It's not recommended, but still, we've restrained Chris before-" Xander started.

"Barely." Spike interjected.

"I think we can do it again." Xander finished, glaring at Spike.

"What? I think they would want to know if you restrained him and then he got loose." Spike snapped.

"Shut up, William." Xander said, and his voice was full of authority. Spike was absolutely silent after that.

Tara watched in wonder as she let herself see everyone's power. Leijah's power was softer, but strong. She was a comforting presence, and she held herself with confidence and pride.

Spike was the same as all vampires: Strong, but dark, with its weak spots in the neck and in the heart.

Chris radiated an unusual power. Tara did not feel it; rather she saw it, smelt it, tasted it. It was blood red, and tasted the same. It was cold, imposing, and scary. Tara shivered. She didn't like it at all.

Xander radiated a power that Tara had only felt while in the midst of a powerful spell. He nearly overwhelmed her with a darkness that was unlike any demon she had ever seen. But, underneath it, he was still Xander.

That was what scared her.

"Xander, are you…" Tara stuttered, "the leader of the group? And that power…where, where did it com-come from?" Xander turned to Tara.

"Not the leader, the Lady is the leader…you guys will probably meet her later. Giles, I think you'll like her." Xander said. Chris laughed.

"Give it up, Xander." He said, "Most of us are more likely to listen to you than the Lady. So you are the leader." Leijah and Spike nodded in agreement. Xander blushed wildly, and Willow giggled.

"The power came from being there in New York. See, the team was housing me, but I wasn't an active part yet. I was research boy, basically. But I ended up being thrown into Chris's way while they were closing that Hellmouth. I was hit by both the energy of the mouth and Chris's energy. I was in a coma for about a week, but, when I woke up, I had taken some of Chris's power." Tara's eyes grew wide.

"You mean that Chris had-d more pow-power once?" She gasped. Buffy blinked; what did Tara see that she didn't? Was she able to see power like Willow had learned to?

Chris nodded, "Used to be able to level a house if I got pissed. I guess it's a good thing I can't do that anymore." Spike stifled laughter. Everyone else looked slightly pale.

"As much as you hate us, B" Faith spoke up suddenly, "We're here to help."

"No one here needs your help, Faith." Buffy snapped.

"You don't seem to get it, Buffy," Leijah said, "Everyone in this room, and possible a few others, are needed to close the Hellmouth. You have no choice but to let us help you. Some of us have…old enemies in the area, and we all need to help each other. I refuse to have any fatalities. On either team." Leijah was standing in front of Buffy at this point. Her beauty and her absolute resolve were intimidating, although Buffy did not want to admit to it. Xander and Chris were smirking. Buffy felt her face turn red with anger. She quit the Council because they gave her too many orders. And now she was going to have to take orders from Xander and his group of killers? She didn't think so.

Giles watched as this all went on. He noticed the way that Spike seemed to follow Xander's orders without argument, and how Chris seemed to look at Buffy with an almost blood thirsty longing. If Giles didn't know better, he would have thought him a vampire. He also noticed how after everything she said, Leijah seemed to look at Spike, almost gloating to him. And Spike seemed to react with love, like he did with Drusilla so very long ago. Faith and Xander seemed to be avoiding each other's eyes.

"Whose this Lady?" Willow asked, to change the topic. Faith's eyes seemed to light up.

"The Lady? She's like, wicked cool." She said, "I mean, she's like the mother that I never had. Or, rather, the good mother I never had. She watches over all us and is so awesome-"

"I think they get the point that she's cool, Faith baby." Xander said, slipping up beside her, "She's like what a Watcher would be if we had a Watcher and they were as cool as you, G-man."

"I've asked you time and time again," Giles said, "Do refrain from calling me that." Xander grinned.

"Got it, G-man." He teased. Giles felt a smile tug at his mouth. Spike slapped his hands together.

"So, when do we get to fight?" he asked. Xander looked up to the ceiling; Spike was hopeless.

"When it's your turn to patrol, Blondie." Faith said, "and we find the Power Demon."

"Which is bloody impossible in this town." Spike mumbled.

"Spike's right." Xander said, "There are enough powerful demons here to make New York look like a piece of cake."

"I'm hungry." Chris announced suddenly. When everyone turned to him, he looked confused, "What did I do? He mentioned cake, I realized I was hungry." Everyone shook his or her heads.

"Look, it's time for us to go, anyway. We'll meet up tomorrow, to patrol. Is that cool with everyone?" Xander asked. Everyone nodded. Giles stood up.

"Xander, thank you." He said.

"For what?" Xander asked, genuinely confused.

"For coming back to us." Willow whispered. Xander smiled, and stood there for a moment after the other Hunters had left. Then he closed the door.

"Welcome to hell." Chris said to him once they were outside. Leijah glanced at him.

"I wish that weren't true." She said. Xander turned.

"Did you get a vision or something?" he asked. Leijah shook her head.

"I don't need a vision to know what we're getting into."