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Feral Discovery

By: Doc
Summary: Buffy has a sister, but its not Dawn. Find out what happens when the Slayer shows a side that she never knew she had.

AN: Greetings and Salutations. Okay, this is my first challenge. It’s a Buffy/Mutant X crossover and was delivered by Manticore-gurl 071134. The parameters are: Buffy isn't as slayer but feral Buffy/Angel pairing Season 3 or 4 Willow/Oz pairing Pg-13 ish  Knows Adam someone Possible shal's sis
AN2: One other thing, Shalimar’s Buffy’s age. Well, that’s it. Have fun.

Chapter One

“Come on.” Buffy muttered as she and Willow made their way through the park. “What, we beat the Mayor and all the demons make a run for it?”

“Well, maybe we filled the Hellmouth with rocks and stuff.” Willow suggested. “You know, closed it permanently?” Buffy grinned at her friend.

“I doubt it, Wills.” She said. “It’s probably…” Her nostrils flared. Since the final battle with the Mayor, there had been some changes in Buffy. Her senses had been heightened, as had her strength and agility, past anything she had experienced before. Willow was the only one she had told, mainly because Giles would have worried. Besides, it wasn’t all bad, if you discount the fact that Sunnydale had a serious brimstone smell.

“Trouble?” Willow asked. Buffy sniffed the air. She was slightly wigged by how naturally it had come to her, how easily she trusted these new instincts.

“No, not trouble.” Buffy said, glaring at one tree in particular. “Not for us, anyway. Right, Angel?” Willow stared at her friend.

“How’d you know it was me?” The souled vampire said as he stepped out form behind the tree. Buffy shrugged.

“I always know when you’re around.” Buffy said non-chalantly. She tried not to show how much it hurt seeing him. He had left after the Mayor had been defeated for her own good if you listened to him. “What are you doing back here so soon anyway?”

“Whistler.” Angel said. “He told me I was needed here.” That you needed me, he thought. “So I came back.”

“Any clue why?” Buffy said as calmly as possible. She made a mental note to turn Whistler inside out next time she saw him. Angel shook his head.

“Not really. Just ‘the only way to save her is to be with her.’” Angel said.

“An impossibility, right?” Buffy said, angrier then she had meant to. “Look, whatever it is, I’m sure we can handle it, so why don’t you go off wherever.” She turned and stormed off, leaving Angel and Willow standing there.

“I’m sure she didn’t mean it.” Willow said. “She’s just angry, that’s all. You did hurt her with that whole ‘this is for your own good thing’.”

“I thought I was right.” Angel muttered. Willow stared at him for a second.

“All right, what aren’t you telling her?” She said. “And don’t try and back out of it. See, I have Resolve Face. You’re not leaving until I get answers.” Angel sighed.

“I hate when you do that.” He said. Willow continued to glare. “Alright, alright. Whistler said something about a secret past coming back to haunt her, something that will bring everything into question. I…we could loose her.”

“What past?” Willow asked. What could there possibly be in Buffy’s past that could bring everything into question? “Is it something Buffy knows about?” Angel shrugged.

“I don’t know.” He said. “That’s all he said. Willow, you can’t tell her. This is something she has to discover.” Willow thought a moment.

“Well, maybe she already has.” Willow said, explaining about the new powers.

“That’s how she found me? She smelt me?” Angel couldn’t believe it. In all the time he had known her, in all the time he had been watching over her, she had never shown that kind of ability. Or had she? Was there something he had missed? He wasn’t sure. “Look, Willow, you better go after her, make sure she’s alright. I’ll do a quick patrol and head back to the manor.”

“Okay.” Willow started off. “Oh and Angel? She really is glad you’re staying I know it. She’s just…confused.”

“I know.” Angel said, moving off.

Buffy moved at speeds she had never been capable of before. She couldn’t believe him. He disappears for a ridiculous reason, and then just appears suddenly on the orders of some short greasy balance demon and thinks everything can go back to normal? No, that’s not right, she thought as she slowed down. He didn’t say anything about things gong to normal. Those had been her thoughts. Now…

“Well, looky here.” A familiar voice broke her train of thought. “If it isn’t the Slayer?” Buffy turned slowly. Her instincts were telling her to take it easy. She knew the voice, and she knew he was dangerous.

“Spike.” She said dangerously. “I thought we had a deal.”

“True enough, but Dru’s not here.” Spike explained. “She dumped me for some fungus headed Chaos demon, so I thought I‘d come back to good old Sunnyhell and have some fun with my old friend the Slayer.”

“I’m not in the mood right now.” Buffy said. “Get out of here, or I do what I should have done long ago.” Spike laughed, pulling on his game face.

“Oh, please, get over yourself.” He said, launching at him. Buffy fell backwards, sending the vampire up and over. He got to his feet quickly, and turned to find Buffy in a low stance, almost to the floor. “You changed your styles, love?” Buffy growled, and, to Spikes surprise, her eyes change momentarily. Yellow closed from two sides, creating the image of cat’s eyes before returning to her normal eye colour. “What the hell…?” Spike didn’t get a chance to finish as Buffy launched at him, hands outstretched. He fell to the ground as she closed one hand around his throat, the other smashing down on his face. He gave an inhuman roar, throwing her off. “Where the bloody hell’d that come from?” He yelled. Buffy landed on her feet, again crouching low, ready to strike.

“Don’t know, don’t care.” She said in a low threatening voice. “But I kinda like it.” She launched at him again, fully intent on ripping his head off. Spike leapt to one side and took off running. Buffy ran after him, using her enhanced senses to lead her on the trail. She came to a stop at the cemetery. She sniffed the air momentarily. Nothing. “How does it feel to be hunted?” She muttered, turning for home. Spike watched from his perch on a nearby tree.

“I don’t know.” He muttered in answer. “How does it feel?”

Willow made her way towards Buffy’s house, hoping to catch her before she got there. She kept one hand on the cross under her jacket. She should have asked Angel to walk her, but with Buffy in the mood she was in…

Willow was about to give up when she saw Buffy ahead of her. She ran to catch up. “Buffy, are you alright?”

“Yeah.” Buffy said, turning towards her. “I’m good.”

“You sure? You’re all…sweaty.” Willow commented. Buffy wiped her forehead with the back of her hand.

“Yeah, well, I had a run in with Spike.” She told Willow. “No big, but he got a serious fright out of it.” So did I, Buffy thought.

“No big?” Willow almost exploded. “Buffy, think on that a moment. Spike is back. Spike. Not exactly a bunny rabbit here.”

“Wills, its fine.” Buffy tried to calm her down. “I see him, I‘ll stake him. Its that easy.” Willow looked at her doubtfully. “No, seriously Wills, I can take him. He ran from me.”

“Excuse me? Spike ran?” Willow couldn’t believe it. “This is the same Spike, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but…” Buffy suddenly wrapped her arms around herself. “I scared him off, Willow. I did…something. The increased sense and everything, they hit a peak, right while I was fighting him. All those instincts I’ve been hiding from everyone started guiding my actions, showing me how to do things I’ve never done before. I was moving faster than I ever have before. It…scared me a bit too.”

“Hey, don’t worry.” She said. “I’m here, and there’s Oz and your mom and Giles and Angel and…” She stopped and gave Buffy a weak look. “I shouldn’t have said that last one, huh?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Buffy said. “Your right. And besides, if Angel wants to help, well good for him. It’ll just be a while before I can get close to him again, and that’s a good thing, right?”

“Right.” Willow said as they headed for her place.

“We have something.” The agent said as he walked into Ekhart’s office. “Possible new mutant.” Ekhart looked at the photos. They showed a young woman executing impossible moves.

“Do we have a name yet?” The albino asked.

“Not yet sir, but we’re looking.” The agent said. Ekhart nodded.

“Where were the photos taken?”

“Sunnydale, California.”

“Send some men.” Ekhart ordered. “Find her and bring her here.” He looked at the photo again. This one, he would get to before Adam did.

She fought valiantly, but there were just to many of these shadow things. Every time she took one down, two more would rise to take its place and the more she fought, the stronger they got. This was one fight she wasn’t going to get out of.

That’s when she showed up.

The first sign of her that Shalimar had was a flash of light, then the sensation that there was someone beside her, fighting along side her. By her movements, the woman was a feral, like Shalimar herself. Beside the blonde hair, she couldn’t get any other feature, not facial or anything else. All Shalimar knew was the moment she showed up, the shadow’s started losing ground. Eventually, there were no more. Shalimar turned to her mysterious saviour. “Thank you.”

“No big.” The other said. “Someone had to bail you out.” She turned to walk away.

“Wait. I don’t even know your name.” The girl stopped.

“I can’t tell you.” The girl said. “Not here, not yet. But soon. We’ll meet soon.”

“When?” Shalimar asked. She got the feeling that she should know her. But from where? “How will I know where to find you?”

“Don’t worry.” The stranger said as a brilliant light engulfed her. Shalimar saw a sign of some sort behind her, couldn’t see what she said. “I’ll find you.”

Shalimar sat bolt upright in bed. That was the third time this week she had had that dream, and she was no closer to figuring out what it was all about. Was it for real? Who was that girl? Shalimar crawled out of bed. She wasn’t going to get anymore sleep tonight. She never did after that dream. She’d train a bit before everyone else woke up. Then…well, she’d figure that out later. One thing was for sure. The dream had a more desperate feel this time.

As she walked toward the training room, Adam X, the mentor and leader of Mutant X, came up beside her.

“Your up early.” He noticed. “Something up?”

“No.” He gave her a sideward glance. “Okay, maybe. I’ve been having these dreams, but they don’t feel like dreams.” She outlined the dream to Adam, who nodded.

“Well, as I see it, we have two options.” Adam said. “We can leave things as it is for the moment, see if any more options come up, or we can get Emma to have a look and see if she can find anything.”

“You believe me?” Shalimar asked, surprised.

“Well, I don’t see any reason to discount the possibility.” Adam said. “After all, the majority of this rather strange family are mutants. Who’s to say this isn’t one feral in need reaching out for another?”

“It didn’t feel like that.” Shalimar said. “It felt like…I knew her. Or, should have known her.” Adam nodded.

“Well, I’ll check the database for someone with a connection to you.” He said. “In the mean time, let’s get Emma out of bed.” Shalimar grinned at the prospect as she checked her watch. Four thirty.

“I’ll get the ice.” She said with a smile.

Angel sat back in the chair. I can see why Buffy was complaining, he thought. There was nearly no activity what so ever. Still, it gave him an excuse to stop by Willy’s. The souled vampire grunted. He’d given Willy nearly all the money he had and all he had gotten was an ‘I’ll look into it’. He was so frustrated he could hit something. Asking about the lack of activity was an even bigger bust. Angel walked to his training area. A couple of hours, then some sleep. He was met with an unexpected figure.

“Spike.” The peroxide blonde vamp turned to him. “What are you doing here?”

“Peaches.” Spike said. “What a pleasure. I thought you’d left.”

“I asked you a question.” Angel said threateningly. “Don’t make me ask again.”

“What no shop talk?” Spike said. Angel growled. “Alright, settle down. I had a run in with your Slayer, only she wasn’t acting like her.”

“Buffy?” Angel breathed. What had happened after she had run off? “What do you mean?”

“Besides the fact she nearly took my head off with her bare hands?” Spike drawled. “I’m tellin’ you, it was down right frightening, seeing a Slayer acting a like some kinda animal, an’ I’m don’t scare easily.”

“Never figured out if that was courage or stupidity.” Angel said. Spike winced.

“Bloody hell, you’ve been with that bloody Slayer to long.” Spike said.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Angel said. “Is there anything else, or are you done over exaggerating?” Spike threw his hands I the air.

“I’m not bloody well exaggerating.” He exploded. “I’m telling you the truth. She was movin’ faster, hittin’ harder an’ that trick with the eyes…”

“Eyes?” Angel suddenly took him seriously. “What about them?”

“Oh now you believe me.” Spike said. “I thought you said…”

“What about the bloody eyes?” Angel roared, sounding more like Angelus than anyone else. Spike balked.

“They kinda got yellow shading around the edges.” He said. “Like eyelids. They closed into a cat’s eye, then went back to normal.” Angel stormed out of the room.

“This can not be happening.” Angel said, going into the cupboard under the stairs. He came out with a box under his arm. “Of all the things that could happen…” He muttered some choice oaths under his breath.

“What the hell are you on about?” Spike said. Angel turned to him, as if just remembering he was here.

“You tell anyone about this, Spike, and I’ll make you wish Dru had never turned you.” He growled. “ I’ll make you wish your parents had never been met, had never even been born. Now, out.” Spike didn’t argue. He’d known the Poof long enough to know that when he got that tone about him, you did what he said.

Angel opened the box and pulled the phone out, pressing a number. He held it to his ear until someone answered. “Hello, Adam? I need that favour.”

Chapter Two - Flashbacks and Truth

Adam moved into the room where Emma and Shalimar were sitting. Angel’s phone call had been as unexpected as it had been informative.

“I have some information.” Adam said, making his presence known. “I just got off the phone with Angel. He has a new mutant for us, in Sunnydale.” Shalimar turned to him. “It seems that Slayer he told us about is a feral.” He handed her a print out of the file. Shalimar read the file.

“A sister on file?” She said. Adam nodded, handing her a second printout. Shalimar looked at it and stopped. Her jaw dropped as she saw whose file it was.

“Shalimar?” Emma looked over her shoulder. “No way.” Shalimar’s photo stared back at her. “Do you think that’s her?” Shalimar pulled the other file to the top again and looked at the name. Elizabeth Anne Summers.

“Only one way to find out.” She said, looking at Adam.

“We’d better wake Jesse and Brannon.” He said. “If Sunnydale is really as dangerous as Angel said, we’ll need everyone on board.”

“One question.” Emma said as they moved to wake the boys. “Who’s this Angel guy?”

“Long story.” Shalimar said. “I’ll tell you on the way.”

Buffy lay in bed, still running through the happenings of the night before. When she had fought Spike something had happened. She had become…better, stronger, faster and deadlier than she had ever been in the past. She had struck with a ferocity that had never been present before. She wondered if, with all the fighting, all the battles against darkness, some of the darkness had become part of her. If that was the case, how long before she turned against her friends? She shook her head.  No. She would never do that. Besides, she couldn’t worry about that. With only a month til university started, she had to start getting ready. She pulled the prospectus towards her and sighed. What kind of courses would suit a Vampire Slayer?

The ring of the phone interrupted her thoughts. She waited for her mom to answer it, and then remembered that she was out preping a new exhibit for the gallery. She sighed again and headed downstairs.

“Hello?” She answered.

“Buffy, it’s Angel.” Buffy straightened, remembering what she had said last night. She shouldn’t have said that. No matter what happened he was still her mate…whoa, what was that?

“Angel, I’m sorry about what I said last night.” She said, ignoring the rogue thought. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

“Don’t worry about.” He answered. “Willow told me about these new powers your experiencing. I think I know what’s happening. Could you come over to the manor?”

“Um, yeah, sure.” Buffy made a mental note to give Willow a lecture on keeping secrets. “Mom’s not here right now. I could come tonight…”

“There may not be time.” He said. “Just get over here, now. I’ll explain everything then. And don’t stop for anything.” He hung up before she could say anything else.

“Okay.” She said. What was that about? She shrugged. She should just leave him hanging, but he sounded…worried. Like he knew she was in danger. She sighed for the third time in half an hour. Like I could say no to him.

She made her way over to the mansion quickly. Angel was waiting for her in the entrance hall.

“Are you alright?” He asked.

“Yeah. Angel, what’s going on?” Buffy looked at him. “Your acting strange, even for you.”

“Thanks.” He said dryly.

“I’m serious.” She stood there, hands on her hips. “You haven’t acted like this since…damn, you’ve never acted like this, not even when I went to face the Master.”

“Because the Master would have only killed you.” Angel said. “I guess I’d better start at the beginning.”

“That’d be nice.” Buffy said. “I’d like to know what you meant by the Master would only kill me.”

“The guys that are after you would break your spirit.” He said quietly. “You’d better sit down. What I’m about to tell you is going to come as shock.” Buffy walked over to the lounge and sat down. “Have you heard about the mutants?”

“Yeah.” Buffy nodded, thinking about the news report. “They’re considered dangerous enough that the government forme the GSA to bring them under control.”

“The GSA doesn’t want to bring the mutants under control, unless by that you mean they want to control all mutants.” Angel informed her. “I met one of the original fathers of the project that created them about a week before I arrived in Sunnydale.” He took a breath and started his story.

LA. Years ago.

Angel walked over to his car. He had to get a move on. Buffy was going to need him, and he had to be there.

He was about to set off when he heard a noise from a near by alley. He walked over and saw one girl against about five guys.

“Just come with us and there won’t be any trouble.” One of the guys said. The girl snarled, yellow cat eyes covering her own momentarily.

“I’ve got a better idea.” Angel said. “How about you let her go, and there won’t be any trouble?”

“Get out of here string bean.” The man said. “This doesn’t concern you.” Angel looked over at the girl. Her hair was covered in muck and it looked like she hadn’t eaten in a while.

“When creeps like you start terrorising innocent people, I make it my concern.” Angel said, moving purposely towards them. To of the guys tried to stop him. Instead, they found themselves on the ground. The other three rushed him. Angel moved with all his vampire speed, bringing to of them together to render them unconscious. The leader came at him with a stun gun. Angel grinned, reaching out and disarming him easily, and then sending him head first into a wall. He continued to walk until he was in front of the girl. “Are you alright?” He asked. She nodded. “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. What’s your name?”

“Shalimar.” The girl said. Angel helped her to her feet. “I can stand by myself, y’know.” Angel chuckled.

“My apologies.” He said. “You don’t look like you’ve had much to eat, that’s all.” She grinned weakly.

“I am kinda hungry.” She said.

“Hey. String bean.” The leader of the men said, dragging himself to his feet. “Back off. The girl’s coming with us.” Angel turned to them.

“Like hell.” He said. Shalimar stood beside him, crouching low. She looks ready to pounce, the souled vampire thought. “Let us through, and you won’t get hurt.”

“Oh this is just to rich.” One of the others said.

“Get ‘em.” The leader said. They rushed forward, only to be met halfway by a slightly ticked Angel. He pushed them back in one movement. The leader grinned as he snuck past him, grabbing the girl. Too easy.

“Let go ‘a me.” She screamed. Angel spun on his heels.

“Shalimar!” He roared as the other four grabbed him. “That does it.” He threw his head back, and the bullyboys with it. When he looked at them, he had what would become known as his game face on. His forehead became wrinkled, his eyes yellow. Fangs gleamed as he snarled at the man. The guy stared at the transformed vampire.

“What the…” He never got a chance to finish as Shalimar elbowed him in the gut. She spun, ramming her knee into his groin.

“She’s got spunk.” Angel said, moving forward. “I like that.” He grabbed the man by the collar and slammed him against the wall. “Now, let me get something straight. I’m a vampire, hence the fangs. Try this again, I drain you dry. The girl’s under my protection from now on. Got it?” The man nodded. Angel dropped him and his game face and turned to Shalimar. “You alright?” She nodded. “Come on, let’s get you something to eat.” When they exited the alley, they came face to face with another guy. “You want to try something too?” He asked.

“It’s okay Angel.” Shalimar said, moving between them. “He’s my friend, Adam.” Adam looked at the vampire, then at Shalimar.

“Are you alright?” He asked. Shalimar nodded with a grin.

“I’m fine.” She said. “Angel beat those creeps into the ground.” Adam looked at Angel.

“Alone?” He asked. Shalimar looked at him sheepishly. “Shalimar?”

“The guy grabbed me.” She said. “Besides, Angel’s different too. His face went crinkly, and he threw four of those guys off at once.” Angel kept his face straight as Adam looked at him inquisitively.

“I think we need to talk.” Angel nodded, wondering how to explain it all.

By the end of the talk, both men were slightly overwhelmed.

“Your a vampire?” Adam asked sceptically.

“Souled.” Angel said for the third time. Adam shook his head and looked over at the sleeping Shalimar.

“If not for there being mutants, I probably wouldn’t believe it.” He said. “But why did you tell me?”

“A warning.” Angel said. “Shalimar is something new. It’s possible some vampires may try to get their fangs into her, especially if they think she a Slayer.”

“And there’s nothing you can do?” Adam asked. He knew Shalimar was strong, and fast, like one of these Slayers Angel had mentioned. He just didn’t know how she’d handle a vampire. She’s only sixteen.

Angel looked out the window. “There is something that might help, but…” Angle looked down at the girl. “Vampires don’t usually encroach on other vampires territory, especially if the vamp in question is particularly powerful. I have a reputation that might protect her, but only if she bears my bite.”

“You have to feed off her?” Adam said disgustedly. He doubted the vampire’s intention until he looked into his eyes. They were so full of pain. He didn’t want to, but to protect her… “Why are you doing this?” Angel smiled.

“She reminds me of someone I know.”

Sunnydale. Now

“Why are you telling me this?” Buffy asked. Angel looked at her sadly.

“I’ve been thinking. Every time you’ve been in a particularly dangerous situation, your powers were pushed to levels no Slayer before you has been able to touch.” He thought briefly of Faith, comatose at the hospital. “Or since.” He said dryly.

“What are you saying?” Buffy asked frantically, already knowing the answer. This was not happening.

“You’re a mutant.” Angel said. “Like Shalimar. I’ve already checked with Adam. You’re in the database. That’s why I needed to talk to you right away. The GSA probably knows about you already. We didn’t have time to wait.” He walked over to her, sitting down beside her. “I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have to go through this.”

“So, all this stuff with me being the Slayer…?”

“True to a point.” Whistler said, walking in. The two looked towards him.

“Don’t you ever knock?” Buffy said. Whistler grinned.

“No.” He said. “As I was saying, it was true to a point. You were the Slayer until the battle against the Master. Then Kendra was called and your natural abilities…”

“Whoa, time out.” Buffy said, getting to her feet. “What are you talking about, natural abilities?” Whistler sighed.

“Settle down, kid. This is all very complicated.” Whistler leaned against a wall. “When Genomax started the project to create new mutants, the Watchers Council saw some possibility. The idea of having only one Slayer wasn’t enough for them. They wanted to create their own.”

“So they got into the mutant program to create their own Slayers.” Angel said. Whistler nodded

“Right. Only problem is the whole thing went screwy and someone made sure none of the parties involved could find them. Meanwhile, several of the mutants actually became Slayer’s in Waiting, so the Powers capped their abilities so they only had the standard Slayer powers to rely on.”

“But when I drowned, I wasn’t the Slayer anymore, is that it?” Buffy asked. Whistler nodded. “So, what, the cap wore off?”

“Well that’s one way of putting it.” Whistler said. “But for some reason the extra power stayed hidden, gradually building. Lately with all the extra activity with the Mayor, it came out full-blown.” He looked over at her. “I’ve been meaning to ask, kid, ‘cause the Powers are keeping a lid on it. What are your powers?” Buffy and Angel both grinned.

“She’s a feral.” Angel said. “That’s the classification. Her senses are enhanced, and her speed and strength is just a little more than a Slayer’s.”

“She’s a feral.” Angel said. “That’s the classification. Her senses are enhanced, and her speed and strength is just a little more than a Slayer’s.”

“Sounds like your still in familiar territory.” He said “Anyway, just keep doing what your doing for the moment, no matter what the Watcher’s say. Keep the extra abilities between you, Angel and Red, tell no one else.” He turned to walk out. “Oh, and you’ve got another surprise coming.”

 “Another one?” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Can I skip this one?” Whistler laughed.

“’Fraid not, kid. This one you need to take on something new.” He said. “Watch yourself. There are humans mixing where they shouldn’t and they may see you as a threat.”

“Thanks Whistler.” Buffy said. Whistler was about to continue, then stopped and turned back to Angel.

“One more thing. You do this right, and you’re off the hook.” With that he disappeared out the door. The two warriors looked at each other. What was that about?

Chapter Three - Dreams and Confessions

“Okay, we’re coming in on Sunnydale.” Adam said. The other members of Mutant X were still sitting in stunned silence.

“So vampires actually exist?” Emma said. Shalimar nodded. “And your sister, who you didn’t even know existed, is one of these Vampire Slayers.”

“Pretty much.” Shalimar confirmed. “When Angel told us about it, we discounted the possibility she may have been a new mutant because Slayers had been around before the project.”

“It never occurred to me that someone might have been using the project to create their own Slayers.”

“Well, it’d make things easier.” Brannon said. “Better than just waiting for some higher power to choose a girl.” As much as Shalimar hated to admit it, he had a point.

Adam set the jet down gently just outside of town. “I’ll park somewhere and meet you at the hotel.”

“Watch yourself.” Shalimar said. “Angel said this place is full of vamps. We don’t want you becoming some vamps three course meal.”

“I’ll try to be careful.” Adam said.

“I’ll stay with him.” Jesse said.

“Be careful.” Adam said as they began to leave. “Don’t trust anyone. Head straight to the manor Angel told us about.”

“Relax, Adam.” Shalimar said. “We should be able to handle any vamps we meet.” She led Emma and Brannon out.

“I hope they’ll be all right.” Jesse said.

Shalimar kept her senses peeled, ready for action. “So, exactly what do we do if we see a vampire?” Brannon asked.

“What, you don’t watch horror movies?” Emma teased him.

“Pointy objects through the heart.” Shalimar said. “Any crosses you have will burn them. You could always try to fry them.” Brannon grinned, electricity arcing between his fingers.

“I can handle that.” He said. “Do we even know where we’re going?”

“Relax, Brannon.” Emma said. “Shalimar knows…” She stopped, looking at the feral mutant.

“Vamps.” She said simply. “Just this way. With victim.” They moved silently.

“Whoever it is, she doesn’t feel afraid.” Emma said. Brannon moved up in front of her.

“Whoever it is, he’s got brass.” He said as they rounded a corner.

“He?” Emma said when they saw that the ‘victim’ was actually a she. She fought the vamps back, staking one as they watched.

“It’s her.” Shalimar whispered, rushing forward. She moved in quickly, sending two of the vamps onto their backs. She pulled a small stake out of her pocket and staked one. She spun quickly, taking another out. Brannon pulled his palms forward, and electricity arced between them. He pulled his hands back, then thrust them forward, sending electricity directly at the vamps, hitting three of them. They fell to the ground, twitching. The mystery girl, flipped over, staking the three fallen vamps before they could get back up. One of the vamps noticed Emma and figured she was an easy target. That is, until she made him think he was running through a volcano. Shalimar finished the creature.

“Thanks for the assist.” The girl said after they had finished the vamps. “Not that I couldn’t finish them myself.”

“Oh, yeah.” Brannon said. “You had them right where you wanted them.”

“As a matter of fact, sparky, I did.” She said to him. Emma sniggered into her hand. “So, I’m guessing you guys are mutants?” Shalimar nodded.

“And your Elizabeth Summers.” She said. The girl made face.

“I prefer Buffy.” This time it was Brannon’s turn to laugh. “Something funny, sparky?”

“Would you not call me that? My names Brannon.”

“Sure thing, sparky.” Buffy said with a smirk. Kinda cute. Not as cute as Angel though. She turned to Emma. “And you are?”

“Emma.” She said.

“How’d you do that…?” Buffy groped for the word.

“I’m a telempath.” Emma said. “I simply made him feel as if he were going through a fire.”

“Nice.” Buffy said. She turned to Shalimar. Her newly enhanced senses were trying to tell her something, but Buffy couldn’t put her finger on it. “No prizes for guessing your power…”

“Shalimar.” The feral said. A small smile appeared on Buffy’s face.

“THE Shalimar? The one Angel rescued?”

“That’s me.” She said. “You must be the Slayer he couldn’t stop thinking about.”

“Yeah.” Buffy said. “Come on. I’ll take you to Angels place.”

Later on as Buffy got into bed, she wondered about Shalimar. There was something about her, something…familiar. It wasn’t that she was a fellow feral. But there was something about her. Something that Buffy just couldn’t shake. She shrugged as she slipped into sleep. Couple of days, she’d have more important things to worry about. Like college.

She opened her eyes in some kind of lab. “Well?” One of the men said. His white. Completely white. White hair, white skin, the only this that wasn’t white were his clothes.

“The child died during testing.” The other said. “The parents aren’t going to be happy about this.”

“We told them the operation was experimental.” The albino said. “Still, they may talk. We have to do something.”

“Well, what about the twins?” The other said. “We swap them and no ones the wiser. It gives us a chance see if there is any kind of link between twin mutants like there seems to be.” The albino looked over at the babies in questions. They were sleeping for the moment, but their hands were draped over the sides of their beds, and they were close enough to be touching. It was the only way to shut them up.

“Do it.” He said, turning away.

 

Buffy shot bolt upright in bed. What the hell was that about?

Buffy made her way down stairs. Mom was just finishing breakfast. “Hey sleepy head? Have a good sleep?” Buffy shrugged, heading for the table. “Buffy? Hon, is something wrong?”

“Mom…was there anything about my birth that was…weird?” She asked. Joyce looked over at her. “Like, was I really sick or something?” Her mother sat next to her.

“When you were born, there was something wrong.” Joyce began. “We didn’t think you would survive. One of the doctors suggested something. A friend of his worked at Genomax said maybe they could help. They took you to their labs and a week later, you were fine.” She looked at her daughter. “Buffy, what’s wrong?”

“I…had dream last night.” She said. “There was a lab and two guys talking about how some kid died, how the parents wouldn’t be happy. They gave the parents a replacement. I thought…” Joyce wrapped her arms around her daughter.

“You think it was you?” She asked. Buffy nodded. “Buffy, it doesn’t matter what happened. You are my daughter. Unless…”

“Don’t even think it.” Buffy said. “You’re the one who raised me, mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But…mom, there’s something else. I’m not really the Slayer. Well I am, but…not the way it was supposed to be. I’m…I’m one of those new mutants they talk about.” Joyce pulled away a bit. “Mom?”

“Oh…my…” Buffy pulled away, heading for the back door.

“I gotta go. I’m meeting Willow and…” Joyce grabbed her by the arm.

“How long have you know?” She asked.

“Powers started upping during the battle with the Mayor.” Buffy said, angrier than she meant. “Why? Need an alibi for you freak daughter?” Joyce slapped her across the face.

“Don’t you talk to me like that young lady!” Joyce yelled. “I think I was pretty supportive about the whole Slayer thing.”

“You mean the part where you told me ‘if you walk out that door, don’t bother coming back’?” Buffy bowed her head. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t necessary, it’s just… Your reaction when I said I was a mutant, you looked…” A tear fell from her eyes. Joyce pulled her into her arms.

“I’m sorry, it’s just that when you said, ‘there’s something else’, I didn’t expect that.” She smiled down at her daughter. “You just shocked me, that’s all.” Buffy closed her eyes. Nice and normal, she thought. Yeah right.

Chapter Four - Plans and Meetings

Spike watched form the shadows. She could smell the wolf on Red? Since when? There was definitely something new here, but that didn’t matter. Soon as he had the Gem of Amara, it wouldn’t matter how much power the Slayer now had. She’d be dead meat. Maybe he’d even turn her. Power she had now…yeah. He could just imagine it. The bloody swathe they’d cut across America…hell, the entire world…

“Hiding in the shadows?” He turned to see a man, dressed in a black suit, standing there. “No surprise, though you look like you could use suntan. Here, let me help with that.” He held a hand out and released a beam of energy, sending Spike flying into the sunlight. The now smoking vampire jumped down the nearest. What the hell was going on? Did everyone in this bloody town have super powers?

The mutant looked at the house. That’s where she lived. His hand brushed the device under his coat. He’d deliver her, collared, to Mr Ekhart. Maybe he’d even have some fun with her en route. With the inhibitor on, she wouldn’t have a choice. He grinned. Yeah, this job had some perks.

Buffy walked in to Giles’ apartment. “Sorry I’m late.” She said. “I had some…things me and mom had to talk about.” She didn’t like lying to them, but she didn’t know how they would handle it. She had told her mom because…well, actually, she didn’t know why she told her. Willow knew because she needed someone to talk to about it. Angel knew because Willow told him, but Buffy had to admit, she was glad he knew. She still wasn’t sure why Shalimar seemed so damn familiar.

“That’s alright.” Giles said. “I, um…well I have some rather interesting information. It seems that someone else has been fighting the demons around Sunnydale lately.”

“Someone else?” Oz asked as Willow made her way over to him. “What, another Slayer?”

“Well, um, not that I know.” Giles said. “But I talked to Willy. Whoever they are has every demon and mystically inclined being in Sunnydale ducking for cover.”

“I’ll keep a look out tonight, see if I can spot something.” Buffy said. Since her powers weren’t mystical in nature, she might be able to stay below their radar. Shalimar and friends could probably help too. “I’ll talk to Angel, see if he’s seen anything.” Giles nodded, a bit apprehensive. “Relax Giles. We’re keeping at arms length. Nothing’s going to happen.” Nothing could ever happen, she thought. “Besides, this might have something to do with…whatever it was Whistler warned him about.”

“Well, I suppose.” He said. “But just be careful.”

“Always.” Buffy said with a smile.

He made his way carefully through the park. The target was just up ahead, hunting some of Sunnydale’s nocturnal residents. The mutant shook his head. Vampires. How could people miss that? That explained the number of graveyards. Not that it mattered. All he had to do was grab the girl and…

He ducked behind a tree as a group of commandoes snuck past him, dragging a vampire behind them. He stroked his chin. Maybe he could use this. He walked up to them, readying his credentials. Yes, much better.

Buffy moved silently through the cemetery. She thought about the commandoes that Giles had been talking about and hoped that they weren’t connected to the GSA. She shook her head at the thought. From what she could figure from the usual connections, they’d been around for a while and hadn’t done anything other than hunt demons. So they wouldn’t try for her or the others, right?

She felt more the heard (or smelt) Shalimar’s presence to her right. That was her other mystery. Why did the other feral seem so familiar? It was like they were supposed to work together, or at least meet. But why?

“We told them the operation was experimental.” The albino said. “Still, they may talk. We have to do something.”

“Well, what about the twins?” The other said. “We swap them and no ones the wiser. It gives us a chance see if there is any kind of link between twin mutants like there seems to be.”

The scene from her dream played in her mind. Could that be it? Could the dream actually be her own past like she thought? Could she be one of the girls and, more to the point, could Shalimar be her lost twin?

“Hold it!” Buffy spun and came face to face with the commandoes and a man in a suit. “ GSA. Your under arrest.” Suit said. “I’m authorised to take you in for proper training in your abilities.”

“What makes you think I need it?” She quipped. “I’ve been defending this town from vampires longer than your army buds have been in khaki.”

“Maybe, but you don’t have a choice in the matter.” Suit said. “You’re coming with me.” Buffy dropped down to a fighting stance, her eyes glowing yellow cats eyes for a moment.

“You want me, big boy?” Buffy said, a dangerous grin on her face. “Come and get me.” One of the commandoes fired his tazer at her. Buffy leapt to one side, propelled herself off a tree and took him down with a vicious kick. She lashed out with her fists, taking two more down, following up with a round house kick, flooring three more. She leapt up on a tree branch and looked down at her attackers. “That’s it? This is the best the GSA can send after me? You’re kidding, right?”

“They have nothing to do with us.” Suit said. “I merely requested assistance from then.”

“GSA creds go a long way, huh?” Buffy sneered. “Well, I’m not impressed. All I see is another Big Bad wannabe who can’t do his own dirty work.” Suit glared at her.

“Very well then.” He held his hand out and released a beam of energy.

“Predictable.” Buffy said, launching over the blast and landing behind him. She jammed her foot in his back, knocking him to the ground. He got to his feet, a strange device in his hands. “Ohh, you brought me a toy. How sweet.” She launched forward again, knocking the device out of his hand.

“You’ll pay for that.” He said.

“I suggest you re think that.” Angel said, running towards them, Shalimar not far behind. Suit look at the three of them.

“We’ll meet again.” He said, turning and running.

“Counting on it.” Buffy said, picking the device up and handing it to Shalimar. Any idea what it is?”

“This is how they put the subdermal inhibitors on any new mutants they capture.” She said. “Any time they try to use their powers, they experience extreme pain. If they disobey orders, they cop the same.” Buffy looked at the object. Angel seethed. They were trying to put one of these…things on his Buffy? He would not let that happen.

“Talk about creepy.” Buffy muttered. Walking over to the soldier guys. “Listen very carefully, ‘cause I’m only saying this once. Stick to hunting demons. I hear you guys team with the GSA again, I find you and shut you down. Oh,” She added, pointing at Angel. “he’s off limits. Touch him, I rip your head off.” No one will hurt my mate. Damn, there I go again. What’s with that? “Leave.” The commandoes moved off in a hurry. Buffy got a whiff of one of them. She grinned. At least she could track the guy now.

Chapter Five - More Truth and Sisters Bonding

Riley Finn looked through the stacks. He had a lot on his mind. The things at that point were the classes that were starting soon. The other thing was that new mutant the GSA had asked his squads assistance to capture. She didn’t seem dangerous, unless you take into account that she managed to take out his entire squad without breaking a sweat. The there was that hostile sub-terrestrial that she had warned them away from. Maybe she didn’t know he was a HST, but not likely. He bent over to get a book from a lower shelf, and was hit in the head by a falling book. “Ow.” He grunted, straitening up. Then he came face to face with the last person he expected to see.

“Oh, my god, I’m so sorry.” She said quickly. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I think so.” He said, trying to think through this. It was her, the new mutant. What were the odds? Pretty good, obviously, he thought as they talked. Actually, her red headed friend did a lot of the talking. The mutant merely stood there, looking like she was trying to understand the conversation. Riley noticed her nostrils flare. Before they left, she leant up to his ear.

“I know who you are, soldier boy.” She whispered. “I can find you anywhere you hide. Remember my warnings from last night.” With that she walked off. This was not good. Not only did she know who he was, she was in the Psych class he was helping Professor Walsh with. He moved to the professor’s office. He had to tell her of this new development. Maybe they should stop assisting the GSA, and stay away from that HST. He doubted he could convince her of that second one, but he would certainly try. He did not want to be the one she took her frustrations out on if she found him missing.

“Watch it!” Buffy yelled as electricity arced around her. Brannon grinned as electricity streamed from his fingers.

“Is it me, or is he enjoying that far too much?” Jesse muttered. Shalimar stiffened as she watched.

“He better ease up, or so help me…” She muttered. She could feel Buffy’s frustration, and wondered if it was a two way street. If it was, the girl was keeping it quiet.

Buffy grinned at the feelings coming through her connection with Shalimar. She, also, wondered if it was a two way street. She looked at Brannon. “Alright, sparky.” She yelled. “Play time is over.” She ran towards him, dodging to the side as the electricity arced towards her. She ran up the wall, keeping her eyes on him at all times. As Brannon moved to hit her, she leapt off the wall, coming down beside him. She hit him with a round kick before he could act, and then leapt on him as he fell to the ground. “You give up yet, sparky?”

“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” He said.

“But it suits you.” She said with a grin. Adam laughed from where he stood. Angel merely shook his head.

“You’ll never change.” The souled vampire said.

“Why would I want to?” Buffy said with a shrug. She looked at Adam. “So, how’d I do, coach?” She asked him.

“Well, the last five years of patrol haven’t done you any harm.” He said. “You took in the situation and acted decisively.”

“This is the Hellmouth, Mr. X.” She told him levelly. “A mistake here means someone dies. You have to be able to think on your feet.”

“Yes, well your training with Shalimar over the last couple of days has helped to.” He said. “I doubt you would have tried that manoeuvre before.”

“Huh?” Buffy looked at him strangely. Training?

“I haven’t had time, Adam.” Shalimar informed him. “She came up with that on her own.” Buffy shrugged.

“Let’s chalk it up to instinct.” Like these psycho thoughts concerning Angel. She really wanted to get those straightened out.

“Maybe.” Adam said. He glanced at Shalimar. She had told him that she seemed to have the ability to sense the girl. He wondered how much went down the link.

“Alright, that’s it.” Buffy said. “You know something I don’t. Start talking, or I start walking.”

“Buffy…” Angel moved over to her.

“Not this time, Angel.” She said. “I’ve run their gauntlets, kept their secrets, now I want some answers.” Angel sighed, and then nodded. There was no way he could calm her down, not this time. He just hoped that whatever secret Adam had was worth Buffy’s anger.

“Alright.” Adam said. “I suppose we should have told you sooner.” Shalimar stepped forward. Buffy could sense worry and wondered if she was about to hear what she thought she was about to hear.

“We’re sisters.” Shalimar said. Buffy nodded. “You don’t seem surprised.”

“I suspected.” Buffy said. “Aside from the whole ‘I sense you, you sense me’ thing, I had a dream.” She explained what she had seen.

“Ekhart.” Adam said. “It matches what’s in the file.” Buffy turned.

“I’m gonna head back.” She said. “I’ll see you later.” They watched her walk off.

“I’m going after her.” Shalimar said. “I’ve got to make it right.”

“Shalimar, don’t force her.” Angel said. “She’s one of the strongest willed people I’ve ever met.” Shalimar looked back and grinned at him.

“So am I.” She said and went after her sister.

Buffy stormed through the park. She couldn’t believe this. She knew! Shalimar had known the entire time and she hadn’t told her! She was so peeved she almost didn’t feel Shalimar coming toward her. “Yes? Something else you didn’t tell me?”

“I guess I deserved that.” Shalimar said. She moved up beside her. “Buffy, I was going to tell you, but…”

“Wait, let me guess. ‘Your criminals and you didn’t want to get me involved in that life’?” Buffy said angrily, spinning to face her sister. “Sorry to tell you this, but I’m involved.”

“Buffy…”

“No, Shalimar! No more.” Buffy turned, trying to hide her tears. This was her sister; she should be able to trust her. But if she could keep that a secret, what else might she not be telling her. “I can’t take it anymore. We’re sisters, Shalimar. Pack. We should be able to trust each other, but I can’t trust you if you can keep secrets like that.”

“Buffy, I…” Shalimar stopped. What did Buffy say? “Did you just say we’re pack?”

“Don’t…” Buffy stopped, realizing Shalimar was right. “God, not again.” She muttered. “It’s bad enough it happens in my head, now it spills out of my mouth. What’s wrong with me?” Shalimar put a hand on her shoulder.

“Buffy?” She turned her around. “Buffy, what…

“Words, feelings for people given names that don’t belong.” She turned to look at her, tears in her eyes. “What’s happening to me? Am I loosing myself? Am I turning into an animal?”

“Buffy, its okay.” Shalimar assured her. “That’s just your instincts being given thought, that’s all. How you relate to or feel about them. So, where I’m concerned, your instincts tell you I’m pack.” Buffy nodded. So it was her instincts that were telling her about Angel, based on what she felt for him. That made sense.

“I just wish they’d shut up.” She muttered.

“You’ll get used to it.” Shalimar said. “I meant to tell you. I was just worried about how you’d react.” Buffy grinned sheepishly.

“Guess I confirmed your fears, huh?” She said. Shalimar shrugged.

“Don’t worry about it.” She said. “I understand. But I have one question; when were you going to tell me you knew?”

“I only suspected.” Buffy said defensively. “I wasn’t sure.” Shalimar laughed.

“Don’t sweat it.” She said. “So, forgiven?” Buffy hugged her sister. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Well isn’t this sweet?” Four vamps walked out of the shadows, game faces in place.

“That is a lot of ugly.” Buffy quipped.

“You said.” Shalimar looked at her. “Shall we?” Buffy grinned. Looks like Slayage ran in the family.

“Let’s.” Two sets of eyes went cat yellow and the sisters charged forward.

Chapter Six - VampNapped!

They walked into the manor later arm in arm. “I take it you worked out your differences.” Adam said as they walked in. The other members of Mutant X had headed back to the hotel. “Angel went out looking for you.”

“We’re good.” Buffy said. “We just needed to…”

“Work some things out.” Shalimar said, finishing her sister’s thought. Buffy grinned.

“Right.”

“So I take it the local vampire population will be a bit more careful?” Adam asked. Buffy made a face.

“Probably not.” She said. She headed out to the kitchen. “Wonder if Angel’s got anything other than blood in the fridge.” She muttered.

“You might want to shelf the snack attack, kid.” Whistler said, walking in. Buffy whirled to face him.

“I presume this is the surprise you were talking about?” She said. Whistler winced. No wonder she was so good. Vamps probably withered under that glare of hers.

“You mean Shalimar?” He said. He noticed the feral in question was also glaring at him. “Yeah, that’s it.”

“Buffy, who is this?” Shalimar asked.

“Whistler.” Buffy said. “Balance demon, messenger for the Powers That Be, bearer of cryptic messages. General pain in the collective asses of both me and Angel.”

“Well, I think that’s going a bit far.” Whistler said.

“I don’t.” Buffy shot. “So, what is it this time?” Whistler gulped. This wasn’t going to be easy, and he was going to cop it in the neck.

“You’ve got an emergency.” He said. “Normally, I wouldn’t be allowed to do this, but…it’s Angel.” Buffy stiffened. Shalimar looked over at her. She was worried…scratch that, she was near panicking. “Those soldier guys got him while he was looking for you two.” Guilt near overpowered her. Her rage was her saving grace.

“Those BASTARDS!” She roared in feral fury. “I told them. I warned them to stay away from my mate!” Shalimar moved over to her, shocked. That’s how she thought of Angel, how she felt about him? Did Angel feel the same way? Stupid question, she thought.

“Buffy?” Shalimar placed a hand on her shoulder.

“We have to find him, Shalimar.” She whispered. Fear, anger, panic, all was present in her voice. “We have to save him.” Whistler walked up to them.

“I wish I could do something more…”

“Get Shalimar’s friends.” Buffy said. “Get Willow, Oz, Giles, anyone else that can help.”

“I can’t.” Whistler said.

“Then what good are you?” She screamed. Adam looked at her. He had no idea Angel was that important to her.

“Jesse.” He said.

“What’s up, Adam?” The density shifter’s voice came though the earpiece.

“Get back here. Angel’s been captured.”

“On our way.” Adam looked at Buffy again. Her fists were clenched at her side.

“I warned you, Finn.” She whispered. “I warned you. I know your scent. I can find you anywhere. You should have tried harder, should have convinced them. Now, nothing can save you. Your mine.”

Riley crept carefully through the park. There had been a demon seen, some kind of dog thing, only five feet tall and covered with spikes. He and his team had been sent to find it and bring it in.

“FINN!” He recognised the voice that called his name and immediately wished he hadn’t. He turned to see Buffy moving towards him, and she was pissed.

“Buffy, what…” Riley found himself backed against a tree, hard. Buffy held him by the collar.

“I warned you!” She growled. Her eyes shined the yellow cats eyes once more. “I told you to stay away from him, but you just had to make a move, didn’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He said.

“LIAR!” She screamed. “I already know your boys have grabbed Angel, just like I told you not to.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Riley said again. “My team was the only one out tonight, I swear, and I’m not stupid enough to grab him. I’ve seen what you can do.”

“Riley.” The rest of his team came behind her, tazers ready. One of them walked up, ready to fire.

“Hold your fire.” He said. “This is just a misunderstanding.” He looked down at Riley. “I assure you, my team didn’t grab him.”

“Then who did?” She demanded as Shalimar came towards them.

“Buffy, calm down.” She said. “I’m worried too, but threatening them isn’t going to get us anywhere.” Buffy, dropped Riley and turned to her sister. “He doesn’t know anything.”

“He better be okay.” Buffy muttered as she walked away. Shalimar looked down at Riley.

“A suggestion.” She said. “If you did have anything to do with Angel’s disappearance, find the deepest darkest hole there is and hide in it. Buffy is not happy and if she finds out that you or your organisation had anything to do with it she will come after you. And I may not be able to stop her.” With that she walked off.

“Should we follow them?” One of the commandoes said. Riley shook his head.

“Negative.” He said. “They’ve got nothing to do with us. Let the GSA handle them.” Or not, Riley thought. He remembered her comments from that night. “We better head back to base.”

Buffy watched as they moved off. “Buffy, even if they lead you to their base, how are we you going to get in?” Shalimar asked.

“I…I don’t know.” Buffy admitted. “But I have to find him.”

“Buffy, he was telling the truth.” Shalimar said. “He doesn’t know anything.”

“Whistler said these guys had him.” Buffy said. “There’s no reason for him to lie. Even if Riley doesn’t know about it, he’s the key.” She moved after the commandoes, following their scent. Shalimar followed. She was worried about her sister. She wished she had known about Buffy and Angel before. She also wondered what could possibly have broken them up.

Chapter Seven - Rescues and Transformations

Angel opened his eyes. His hands were chained to a wall. “Ah. You’re awake.” The souled vampire looked up.

“It’s you.” He said, recognising the GSA agent from that night a week a go. “You’re a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?”

“We’ll see, vampire.” He said. “As soon as I have your girlfriend wrapped up and ready for delivery, you’ll become another one of Walsh’s experiment’s.”

“Well, how about a proper introduction?” Angel asked.

“Why? So you can curse my name while the doctor’s are cutting you open?” The agent sneered.

“No. So we have a name for you tombstone when Buffy rips your spine out and feeds it to you.” Angel said smoothly. At that moment, Riley walked in, Professor Maggie Walsh right behind him.

“So you did grab him?” Riley said. “Are you insane? Do you want us to get caught?”

“Frankly, I don’t care.” The agent said. “All I want is the girl.”

“Yeah, well you’ll get her alright. She knows he’s gone.” He told him. “And she has my scent.”

“So she’s a feral?” The agent mused. “At least now I know what she’s capable of.”

“You have no idea.” Angel informed him, a grin playing on his face. “But you will. When she busts in here and hands you your ass on a silver platter, you’ll know.”

“I doubt she’s much better than any other feral I’ve run up against.” The agent said confidently. Angel looked at Riley and Walsh.

“Tell me.” He said. “Have either of you ever heard of the Slayer?”

“A myth.” The professor said. “A story told to keep the demons in line.”

“She’s real.” Angel assured her. “I’ve faced them every once in a while, before some gypsy’s cursed me with my soul. For a while, we thought Buffy was one. She’s had all the training, knows all the techniques. She even beat me once.”

“Then why are you still here?” The agent asked smugly. Slayer? What rubbish.

“Long story.” Angel said. “Basically, there was a condition to the curse that I didn’t know about. That condition was met, and I turned bad again.” He looked over at Walsh. “You think your pet demons are bad?” He asked. “They’re nothing compared to the Scourge of Europe. After I lost my soul, I tried to send the world to hell. Buffy stopped me, but not before her friends restored my soul. I was trapped there for centuries before I made my way back. For her, to help her.” He turned back to the agent. “You think you can beat her?” He asked. “You think you know what she’s capable of? You don’t have a clue. But I’ll tell you one thing. I can’t wait for her to enlighten you.” Suddenly, the lights went out. Angel grinned, looking at Riley and Maggie. “She’s here. The question is what side do you want to be on? Her good side, or her bad side?” Riley looked at Professor Walsh. He knew what side he wanted to be on, and it wasn’t her bad side.

“Orders, ma’am?” He said formally.

“Find her and bring her here.” Maggie said. “Of her own free will if possible. And arrest this…” He gestured to the GSA agent.

“Why you…” Suddenly he found a pair of legs wrapped around his throat.

“Thing about vampires.” Angel said, game face in place. “When you restrain them, make sure you do it properly. Now, I believe she said something about ‘a rest’.” He slammed the agent against the wall, knocking him cold. “You look like you could use one.” He returned to his human visage. He looked up at Riley.

“Remind me not to stand near you.” The soldier joked, moving off. I really detest him, Angel thought. He’s just the kind of pretty boy that could take Buffy away from me. On second thoughts…

“I’m going to undo the cuffs.” Walsh told him.

“Relax.” He said. “I’m not going to bite you. A have sweet deal going with the local butchers. I keep the vamps off their backs, they give me the extra pigs blood.” Walsh wrinkled her nose as she undid the cuffs. “Better than biting necks.”

“There is that.” Walsh said as Buffy came in.

“Angel!” Buffy rushed past her, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Are you alright? Did they hurt you? If they did I’ll…”

“I’m fine.” He said, holding her. He berated himself for his earlier thoughts. No matter what, he couldn’t let her go. They’d figure something out. Somehow.

Buffy turned to Professor Walsh. “I warned your people not to get involved with the GSA.” She said. “I told them to stick to hunting demons, and that Angel was off limits. Are you planning to ignore all of my warnings?” The professor stood there, stock-still. Riley had said that she had a commanding presence that, she could make a girlish grin seem threatening, and now she understood why. There was something about her, something other than her being a new mutant that gave her an air of superiority.

“I had no idea what was going on.” She assured the feral. “He pulled rank on my people.”

“The dangers of working with military.” Buffy said. “Make sure this doesn’t happen again.” She looked over at the unconscious GSA agent. “I presume something’s being done with him.”

“We can’t do much.” Walsh said. Buffy nodded.

“Not surprising.” She muttered. She turned back to her psych lecturer. “Consider this the final warning. This happens again, I shut you down. Permanently. And if you’re wondering how, I have ways of making sure every demon in Sunnydale knows where you are.” Walsh looked at her in horror.

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Don’t be so sure.” Buffy threatened. “I have my ways. One more thing. I noticed a lot of research happening around here. Stick with hunting and killing on sight. I don’t want any Frankenstein monsters running loose in my town.” With that, she walked out, Angel hanging off her arm. Maggie Walsh watched her leave, thinking about her warnings. This was one time she was going to listen to someone else’s advice. Buffy Summers was not someone she wanted to be on the wrong side of.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Buffy asked for the thousandth time. Angel grinned.

“I’m fine.” He said. “It wasn’t too bad. That Walsh woman and her pet soldier walked in before he could really start.”

“I hope your not suggesting we owe them one.” Buffy said. “You wouldn’t have been there if they’d spread the word to back off.”

“I guess.” The vampire said. He sat down heavily. There was only two hours til sunrise. “You should get some sleep.” Buffy shook her head.

“Too jazzed.” She said. “Can’t sleep.” Angel nodded and closed his eyes. “Are you…?”

“I’m fine.” He said irritably. “What happened with Shalimar, anyway?”

“We made up.” Buffy said. “Kicked some ass afterwards. I sent Shalimar to get her friends while watched our way in.”

“Then you moved in by yourself?” Angel asked. “She’s not going to like that idea.”

“I’ll make it up to her.” Buffy said. “I just couldn’t leave you in there any longer than I had to. Besides, Riley invited me in.” Angel stared at her.

“You mean you didn’t turn the power off?”

“That’s why the lights were off?” She said. “I wouldn’t have clue how to do that. Too technical.”

“Then who did it?”

“That was me.” They both looked at the door.

“Whistler?” Buffy looked at him. “I thought you couldn’t help. You told me you couldn’t do anything other than deliver the message he’d been taken.”

“And I’m gonna cop it, kid.” He said. “You two owe me big.”

“Thanks.” Angel said. “I’ll make it up to you, somehow.” Whistler shrugged.

“No problem.” He said. “Besides, I’ve gotten to like you two.” Buffy grinned at Angel.

“Waddaya know?” She said. “We’re likeable.”

“Already knew you were likeable.” Angel muttered. Whistler grinned.

“Glad you feel that way.” He said. “’Cause the bosses have decided you two deserve a reward.”

“Why?” Buffy asked, confused. “We didn’t do anything.” Whistler chuckled.

“Don’t be so sure, kiddo.” He told her. “Your little ‘talk’ with that Walsh woman made some changes. There was a big danger coming out of that place. You convinced her to cancel certain projects, averting it. Hence, a reward.”

“What kind of reward?” Angel asked. She deserved something for her trouble. Whistler grinned.

“You.” He said. The two Warriors stared at him. “You’ll see in,” He checked his watch. “less than two hours.” With that, he left.

“What was that about?” Angel asked.

“We seem to ask that question a lot when it comes to Whistler.” She said. Angel shrugged.

“You better get home.” He said. “You need sleep.” Buffy looked over at her. What if someone else came and took him? What if they dusted him? She couldn’t live without him; she’d tried. He was her mate and she couldn’t loose him.

“I think I’ll stay here.” She said. “Just in case.”

“Buffy…” Angel looked over at her. What was her problem, she knew the dangers.

“Relax.” She said. “Separate rooms. You’ve got enough.” Angel looked at her. Something was wrong.

“Alright.” he said. Buffy made her way to one of the other rooms. “Sweet dreams.” Angel whispered, lying back in the chair. He just hoped whatever reward the powers had for her made her happy.

Angel’s eyes flew open. It was dawn and something was wrong. He got to his feet and made his way to where he could hear Buffy’s heart beat. He looked into the room. She was still there, sleeping soundly. Odd, he thought. He could hear a second heart beat. But they were the only ones there. Weren’t they? He checked all the rooms. Nothing. He walked back the lounge room. On the way, he noticed one of the curtains were open. The sun was shining in. He was standing right in it.

But he wasn’t burning.

He stared at the open curtain. This wasn’t possible, he thought. Any moment I’ll wake up. A moment later he was still standing in the sunlight. This wasn’t possible. Then he found the second heartbeat.

It was his.

His mind raced. What was going on here? How was this…

“What kind of reward?” Angel asked. She deserved something for her trouble. Whistler grinned.

“You.” He said. The two Warriors stared at him. “You’ll see in,” He checked his watch. “less than two hours.”

Angel nearly fell over. He was Buffy’s reward. As in a living, breathing human him.

“Not quite human.” Whistler said, stepping out of the shadows. Angel turned to him.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He demanded. “And what do you mean, ‘not quite’?” Whistler shrugged.

“You’d find out yourself soon enough.” The balance demon said. “And you’re a mutant, a feral. Same as the kid.” Angel stared. That explained why it took so long to realize what was happening. All his senses were the same as he was used to.

“What does this mean for…”

“Your alive.” Whistler said. “Unless you give it up, you can’t loose your soul. Figure it out yourself.” Whistler walked past him and headed to the door. “Take care of yourself, and her. We’ll keep in touch.” Angel watched him leave. He stood there a moment, then grinned. He headed back to Buffy’s room. She’d be seriously pissed that he woke her this early, but the surprise would make up for it. More than make up for it.

Chapter Eight - Revelations Pt.1

Buffy walked into the house, Angel right behind her. She had been ready to kill Angel for waking her, but when he’d shown her that he had a heartbeat…

“Buffy, where have you been?” Joyce asked as they walked in. Then she saw Angel. A confused look crossed her face. “It is morning, isn’t it?” Buffy smiled, a smile so wide that it almost split he face.

“The Powers That Be decided to reward us.” She said. “He has a pulse.” Joyce stared at her daughter like she was mad. “He’s human. Well, mutant. Feral, like me.” Joyce continued to stare. There was no way Buffy would make this up, and Angel had walked in during the day, without smoking.

“That’s great, hon.” Joyce said, less enthusiastic than she felt. “No really, I am. It’s just…” She gave her daughter a withering look. “You’ve got a flare for strange tails.” Buffy grinned.

“I wouldn’t be me without some weirdness.” She said. A look of worry spread across her face.

“What is it, love?” Angel asked, moving closer.

“How do we explain this to the others?” She asked. “I mean Willow knows about the whole not a Slayer thing, and Shal and the others…” She stopped, turning to her mother. “Almost forgot. I found the sister from that dream.” Joyce’s face dropped.

“So that is the truth?” She questioned, frightened of what it meant.

“Don’t worry, nothing changes.” Buffy assured her. “You just get another daughter.” Buffy’s look of worry returned, thinking about Oz, Giles and Xander, who had returned recently. How would they react? Would she loose her best friends because some idiot decided to play God? “I’m going to loose them.” She whispered. Angel put his arm around her.

“They’ll understand.” He said, looking down at her. Silently he prayed to whoever was listening that they would. He knew that their support had kept her alive all this time. If it weren’t for Xander, he would have lost her against the Master. They were her pack, and she needed their support. “I’m sure of it.”

“I beg your pardon?” Giles said, taking off his glasses. Buffy had just walked in, with Angel, which was surprise enough. But what she had said next, and the explanation for why he had been able to walk in the sun had blown him and Xander, who was currently spending the days with the older man until he found a job, away.

“I’m not the Slayer.” Buffy repeated. She could see disbelief in both sets of eyes. Angel was behind her, within reach, for which she was grateful. “I haven’t been since the Master drowned me. I’m…a new mutant.”

“You’re…” Xander stopped cold, his brain trying to process the new information.

“Dear God.” Buffy could smell disbelief, worry…fear. She began to shake violently. They were afraid of her. They were going to…Angel wrapped his arms around her. She took in a deep breath, saturating herself in his scent. “And Angel…” Giles prompted.

“Was given his life back, with the same abilities as me.” Buffy said. “Payment for services rendered.”

“How long have you known?” Xander asked quietly.

“Powers have been stronger since the battle with the Mayor.” Buffy said. He’s going to run, she thought, scared of losing her friend. “Found out about the mutant thing not long after.”

“And you’ve waited til now to tell us?” Xander started to raise his voice. “I thought we were friends.”

“Xander we are, but…”

“But what?” He yelled. “There’s no excuse for this, Buffy. None.” He stormed past them.

“Xander…” She watched as the door slammed shut, tears in her eyes. She’d been afraid of this. They were going to reject her, one by one. She turned to Giles. “Giles, I…” He raised a hand, signalling her quiet. Buffy stood there, wrapped in Angel’s arms. Her body was shaking again, and finally she couldn’t help it anymore. She ran out the door, sobbing loudly. Giles closed his eyes, turning away.

“How could you?” Angel growled. He, too, had had enough. But he wasn’t going to run away crying. “How could you? You’re like a father to her. She needed you, needed you to tell her it was all right. But you just stood there, shut her up. Why?”

“I don’t think I need to explain myself to you.” The former Watcher said calmly.

“You’d better!” Angel roared. His eyes turned yellow cats eyes momentarily before reverting to normal. He glared at the man a moment more. “I hope you’re happy.” He growled before starting after his mate. Giles watched for a moment more, then broke down and cried himself. How could he indeed?

She ran, scared, alone. The two people she had hoped that would accept her had rejected her, sent her away. She was so drowned in her own sorrow that she didn’t see the man in front of her until she ran into him.

“Sorry.” She said.

“It is all right.” He said. “You look troubled. Is there anything I can do?”

“Can you turn back time, alter the time space continuum or change peoples minds with out talking to them?” She asked. The man chuckled.

“I am afraid not.” He said. “But I can lend a friendly ear.”

“Thanks, but my friends seem to like running.” Buffy said, a sad smile on her face.

“Do you want to tell me about it?” He asked. Buffy shook her head.

“It’s alright.” She said. “I don’t want to burden you with my problems, being a total stranger and all.” The man nodded.

“Then perhaps we can get past that.” He said, holding out his hand. “I am Kwai Chang Cane.” The feral looked at him.

“Buffy Anne Summers.” She said with a grin, taking the hand. “Is there a shortened version I can call you?”

“People call me Cane.” He said.

“Buffy.” She said.

“Now perhaps we can talk?” Cane asked. Buffy sighed.

“You’re not letting me go til we talk, are you?”

“I will not force you.” He said. “I simply wish to help.”

“Alright.” She said. “But let’s find somewhere a little more private.” He nodded and followed her. She seemed nice enough, a troubled soul in need of assistance. Much like himself, he mused.

Chapter Nine - Revelations Pt. 2

Xander’s view.

I stood by the window as Buffy gave the news. About Angel. About her. I tried to hold my anger in, but the more she said the angrier I got. We were her friends; we’d kept one secret this long, now she couldn’t trust us with another?

The next thing I knew, I was shouting. I don’t really remember what I said. All I remember was the pain in my heart and the hurt on her face. I wanted to stop, to say something, but I was out the door and down the road before I knew what was happening.

I don’t remember how long I walked for; I just kept going. Before I knew what happened, I found myself out front of the old high school. I looked up at the blackened husk. Things seemed so much simpler back then. We’d gather around the library, eat doughnuts, save the world. So much easier. Now…

Now, Buffy was a mutant, Angel had a pulse and I felt like my entire life had gone down the toilet. I just wanted to scream. “She could have told us.” I muttered.

“So you could disappoint her earlier?” I turned to see Angel standing there, glaring at me. Seeing Deadboy standing in the sunlight…damn, guess I can’t really call him that anymore.

“Do you blame me?” I said.

“Do you blame her?” He turned my question back at me. I hate when he does that. “Considering how you reacted, can you really blame her for being afraid?”

“Afraid?” I blinked a couple of times. Buffy afraid? The term didn’t compute for some reason. “Of what?”

“Rejection.” Angel said simply. “That you guys would turn her out for what she is. Not the Slayer, but something else. Created to soothe some guy’s ego. A freak. Like you did.” I stood there mouth open. I slapped myself in the forehead.

“I am such a heel.” I said. “How could I do that to her?”

“I was wondering the same thing.” Angel said. “You should probably go and find her.”

“Right.” I said, beginning to race off. Then I stopped. “What about Willow?”

“I’ll find her, explain what happened.” Angel said. I nodded, and raced off. There weren’t many places she could really go, now. Giles’ place was out, so that left the manor, UC Sunnydale or her place. I just hoped I could find her before something happened. I could never forgive myself if she got hurt because I was a jerk.

Giles’ view.

I watched as Buffy ran out crying. I wished I could go after her, that I could soothe her like I wanted to, but I couldn’t. This had to happen. It would make things easier. For both of us.

I stood there as the now living Angel fumed at me. I couldn’t understand how the Powers That Be could reward him. I still haven’t really forgiven him for what happened to Jenny or Kendra. I watched as he followed both Buffy and Xander’s example, before finally giving in to the sadness that had been threatening to consume me. I moved the papers on my desk until I found the letter from the Council. I still couldn’t believe they knew about her.

 

To Rupert Giles,

It is the will of the Council of Watchers that you return to England for reassignment.

It has come to our attention that Buffy Summers, the girl you have been Watching, without orders, is not the Slayer. Whether or not she ever was is no longer important. What is important is that your services and experiences are needed to prepare for the day when the renegade, Faith Williams, dies, and a new Slayer is call.

We await your return. All is forgiven.

 

Quentin Travers.

I read the letter again.

All is forgiven.

What? Giving a Slayer the care and support she needed, deserved? Telling her about the idiotic test?

All is forgiven.

I crumpled the paper and threw it across the room. What the bloody hell am I doing? Leaving the best thing that ever happened to me? Buffy was like my daughter. How could I treat her that way, just because I wanted to spare her the pain of my leaving? I’d hurt her more by not saying anything than if I had told her I was leaving. I couldn’t leave, not like this. Not after what I just did.

I grabbed my coat and headed out the door. I just hoped she’d done the sensible thing and headed to her mother’s house. Hm, Buffy do the sensible thing? I sighed and headed to Angel’s place. More likely she’d be there.

Willow’s view.

The first clue I had that something had happened was when Oz pointed out Angel walking towards us. That in itself was cause for concern, but considering it was daytime, I did what I normally did when it came to the unbelievable or just plain freaky. I went into ‘babble mode’.

“Angel, your out and walking but its day time and the suns out and there’s no shadow and your in direct sunlight and your not burning and does Buffy know and…”

“Willow, take it easy.” Angel told me. “Breath. I’ll explain later, but right now, we have bigger problems.” A pit formed at the bottom of my stomach. “Buffy told Giles and Xander. They took it badly.” I think my face must have gone pale at that moment, because Oz looked at me with both concern and curiosity.

“Took what badly?” He asked. I hoped he wouldn’t take the fact that I kept it from him too badly.

“Buffy’s not the Slayer.” I said. “She’s one of those new mutants. She hasn’t been since the Master drowned her and Xander used CPR to bring her back. Her powers are pretty much the same though, so we didn’t notice.” I turned back to Angel. “How badly did they take it?”

“Xander went back to the high school.” He told me. “Giles…went into distant Watcher mode.”

“Giles did what?” I couldn’t believe it. “Why?”

“He didn’t give a reason.” Angel said. “I talked Xander into finding Buffy and talking to her. Giles…”

“I’ll talk to him.” I volunteered. Oz’s reaction was suddenly the farthest thing from my mind. Giles had been a father to all of us. For him to turn his back on Buffy… “I’ll make him understand, if I have to beat him into submission.” Oz chuckled and even Angel gave a smile. I have to admit; the thought of me beating Giles around the head was pretty funny.

“Alright, I’ll find Buffy.” Angel said. “She’ll definitely need someone to talk to.” I nodded, torn by the need to find my friend and help her, and the conflicting desire to jump on Giles’ head with both feet. In the end, Oz and I headed toward Giles’ place.

“You’re not mad at me, are you?” I asked him. I was happy to keep Buffy’s secret, but I didn’t want to loose my wolf-guy.

Oz looked at me thoughtfully. “Not you.” He said. “And not Buffy. She asked you not to tell anyone and I can’t fault her for that.” I breathed a sigh of relief and cuddled up to him.

            “Thanks.” I said.

            “Welcome.” He said in typical Oz fashion. I smiled. Yeah, I’ve got the best guy in the world. That’s when we ran into Giles, barrelling down the street like the hounds of hell were on his heels. I gave him a glare that told him maybe he should run the other way before giving him a piece of my mind.

Oz’s view.

We sometimes forget that Willow has one of the strongest wills of any of us. Sure, my mate can be timid, even shy. But when she thinks one of her friends has been wronged, or if its end of the world, out comes the ‘Resolved Face’ and shy, timid Willow takes a back seat to a more dominant version. Still, none of us have ever really seen what she’s capable of. Until now.

“Giles what the hell were you thinking?” Remind me never to piss Wills off. “Buffy came to you hoping to make things right. She was tired of the secrets, she wanted to tell you and you and Xander treat her like she turned into Spike.” Giles stood there, flabbergasted. I don’t think he ever even suspected Willow could release that much rage in one sentence. I certainly didn’t.

“Willow.” Giles began. “There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for my reaction.” Willow glared at him. I just stood off to one side. Let her handle it. “I received a letter from the Council, ordering my return. They know Buffy isn’t the Slayer and have ordered me back. I have to leave.” Willow’s look turned to one of shock. Then she really exploded.

“So you pushed her away!?” Wills couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. “Right when she needed you the most. Why, so it wouldn’t hurt her when you left? News flash, G-Man, you hurt her more by not saying anything than you could have in any other way.” Giles gave a sheepish look. He’d already figured that out, but Willow telling him just drove it home. “Now, I think we all know where she headed, so move it!” With that she got behind Giles and pushed him towards Angel’s manor. I shook my head. I don’t know why I worry sometimes.

Chapter Ten - Revalations Pt. 3

“So that’s what happened.” Buffy said. Tears were starting to fill her eyes again. “I thought, y’know, yeah, I kept it from them, but maybe they’d understand.” She closed her eyes. “Maybe I put to much pressure on them.”

“Or maybe, you do not trust them enough.” Cane said. Buffy looked at him. “A true friend can be trusted to bare the greatest burden. Yet you must always remember that a secret kept can drive a wedge between the truest of friends.” Buffy looked at him.

“That actually made sense.” She said. “Your right, though. I should have trusted them to handle the secret. All of them, not just Willow. Now…” A small sob tore from her throat. “What do I do? What if I’ve lost them?”

“You will not know if you do not ask.” The Shao Lin said. “Talk to them. It is the only way you will find out. If you wish, I will help.”

“Why?” She asked. “You barely know me. Why do you want to help me?”

“Why do you continue to patrol for vampires?” He said simply. “You are no longer the Vampire Slayer, so why do you patrol?” Buffy thought for a moment.

“Who else will?” She said after a while. “I’m the only one who can. Besides, why not?” She stopped, looking at the priest. He smiled knowingly and nodded. “Giles would like you.” Buffy said after a while. “You’ve both got the whole father figure thing going. Well, he did.”

“Perhaps there is another reason.” Cane suggested. “Someone maybe pressuring him.” Buffy’s face turned hard.

“If it’s those bloated wind bags from the Council again, I’m going to…” She was cut off as a very out of breath Xander charged in.

Xander’s first thought was who the old guy sitting with Buffy was. He was dressed simply, with something next to him wrapped in leather and an old cowboy hat. “Buffy I’m sorry.” He blurted. Okay, not the perfect way to apologise for running out on your best friend who’s saved your life more times than you can count. He took a few breaths to calm himself, pushing the detached, emotionless feeling that came with that calm to one side. He needed to be Xander here, not a living supercomputer.

Buffy ran over to him. Well, it looked more like she leapt. She grabbed hold of him. “Buffy, ribs. I need them.”

“Oops.” She said, breaking the embrace. She looked up at him and she knew she was going to cry again. “Xander…”

“Hold on, I need to finish.” He said. He took another breath. “Buffy, I was a jerk. I know you had your reasons for keeping the whole mutant thing a secret. I shouldn’t have reacted that way.” Besides, he thought. She wasn’t the only one that had secrets.

Buffy hugged him again, this time careful with her strength. “I’m the one that should be sorry, Xand. I should have trusted that you guys could handle it. Forgive me?”

“The most unnecessary request you’ve ever made.” He said. He looked over at the old man. “So who’s this? You out to replace me already?”

“Like that’s possible.” She said, finally relaxing. “Your one of a kind, Xand.”

“And girls everywhere will mourn when I’m finally taken off the market.” Xander quipped. The old man grinned as he stood to his feet.

“I am called Cane.” He said, holding his hand out. Xander took it.

“Just call me the insensitive jerk face.” He said with a grin. Buffy elbowed him in the side.

“This is Xander.” She said. “I ran into Cane, literally. He’s been helping me…” She paused, trying to place her feeling into words without hurting him. She was saved when Angel burst in.

“Buffy, are you…” He saw Xander first. “You’ve talked to her?”

“Yeah, we’re all good.” Xander said. “Though I think I owe her about a year as her devoted sex slave.” Angel growled slightly.

“Sorry Xander.” Buffy said, pointing at Angel. “That’s his job.” Xander’s laughter turned to a gasp of shock as, for the first time in centuries, Angel blushed. Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Damn, you should blush more often, Angel. You’re cute when you’re red like that.” At that point, Willow and Oz arrived, dragging a very flustered Giles behind them. Buffy felt her breath catch in her throat at the sight of her former Watcher.

“Giles.” She whispered. Angel moved close behind her.

“Go on.” Cane urged her. Buffy closed her eyes and nodded.

“Giles, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.” She said.

“Buffy, it’s alright.” Giles said before she could say anymore. “Truth be told, I suspected something was different for a while. The undesirables of Sunnydale had been complaining to Willy about how your efforts to clean up the streets had become a bit more…painful.” Buffy’s jaw dropped. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t Slayer strength. The Council knows. Well, that you’re not the Slayer any way.” Buffy suppressed the growl she felt coming. “They’ve ordered me back to England for reassignment. ‘All is forgiven’ they say.” The growl tore out of her throat. “I…didn’t want to upset you with leaving.”

“You aren’t leaving.” Buffy said, as calmly as possible. “They fired you, remember? You don’t have to do anything they say. If they think they can just ‘request’ you presence and watch you jump through their hoops, they can guess again. We still need you here Giles. I still need you.” Giles couldn’t believe it. After what happened she was ready to let things get back to normal. “You will stay, won’t you?” The older man looked around them, his young friends. His family.

“Well of course I’ll stay.” He said with a smile. “You think I’m going to let you delinquents run around without a chaperone?” Buffy smiled and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tight. “Buffy, I need to breathe.”

“Oops.” Buffy said, pulling back. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry, Giles.” Xander said. “I know the feeling. I think she cracked a couple of my ribs.” He turned to Angel. “What about you, Deadboy?”

“You really can’t call me that anymore.” Angel said.

“I know.” Xander said. “But ‘Liveboy’ isn’t as funny.” Cane made his way to the door.

“Where you going?” Buffy asked, breaking away from her friends.

“It is time for me to move on.” He said. “I still have a journey ahead of me.”

“Anything I can do?” She asked.

“I do not think so.” He said. “I am looking for someone. My son.”

“Do you know his name?” She asked. “’Cause if you do, Wills could probably find him on the Internet. Failing that…well wouldn’t be the first time she’s hacked police files looking for something. ‘Sides, I owe you one. And maybe you can help Oz.” She gestured the dark haired young man standing next to Willow. “He’s got a beast within kinda problem.” Cane looked over at Oz. He did indeed seem to have an edge to him, like there was something else, hidden.

“I will see what I can do.” He said. Buffy smiled and grabbed his arm.

“Come on.” She said. “I want to properly introduce you to everyone.”

Chapter Eleven - Confrontations and Another Secret

“So you’re really Buffy’s sister?” Xander said for the third time. The chances against were enormous, yet here she was.

“Yes, I am.” Shalimar said. She looked over at Buffy. “Is he always like this?” Buffy shrugged.

“He’s had this crush on me since I arrived in Sunnydale.” She said. “Angel got me before he had a chance though. I guess he sees you as a second chance.”

“No, never. I’ve given up on Summers girls completely.” Xander said. “So, what’re you doin’ Friday night?” Everyone laughed at the comment. Buffy looked around at her ever-growing family. Cane, Giles, Adam and her mom were in the corner, discussing the various events occurring both on the Hellmouth and new mutant scenes. Brannon and Xander were taking turns flirting with the various females, and receiving jealous growls from Oz and Angel when it came to Willow and Buffy, while the others simply laughed at their antics.

“So much for giving up.” Emma said. Xander shrugged.

“Her last name isn’t ‘Summers’.” He said simply.

“Yeah, but she’ll probably give you as much problems.” Brannon said. Shalimar shot a look at him.

“Can I help it if attitude is genetic, sparky?” She said, bringing a groan from Brannon.

“Help me, someone, they really are sisters.” He moaned in mock pain. Everyone laughed at the act.

“Stop. Sides ache.” Willow managed to gasp. Buffy grinned. Everything was back to normal.

Spike poked his head through the floor. Finally, the Gem of Amara was his, and soon Fluffy would follow suit.

He looked through the treasures looking for something that might be it. He picked up an amulet from around the neck of the corpse and placed it over his head. He was sorely disappointed when he found he couldn’t pick up a cross nearby. He tried to think but couldn’t get past Harmony chattering in the background. Finally he’d had enough.

He broke a sharp piece of rock off and turned around. “Would you SHUT UP?” He roared, ramming it through her chest. To both of their surprise, she didn’t dust.

“I can’t believe you just did that!” She wailed. Spike looked at her as she babbled away. It wasn’t possible that this bloody chit had found the gem.

He grabbed a thick cloth and picked up the cross, then held it on Harmony’s head.

“What are you doing?” She cried. Spike threw the cross away. No burn, no smoke, nothing.

“It’s the ring.” He said, grabbing her hand. There was a struggle until Harmony finally pulled away.

“You want this stupid ring?” She said pulling it off and throwing it at him. “Is that all you care about?” Spike said nothing as he walked out. The Gem of Amara was his. And the Slayer was next.

“Relax.” Cane said.

“I’m trying.” Oz told him. He sat in the lotus position on the floor, trying to focus on getting inside himself. It was the only way he was going to be able to gain control.

Angel and Shalimar sat to one side. “Think he can do it?” Shalimar asked. Angel said nothing. The feral grinned. Having a pulse hadn’t changed him much. She leaned back against the chair, thinking about how her life had changed. The other member’s of Mutant X had returned to Sanctuary. She had opted to stay and help Buffy watch the Hellmouth. Her sister was up to something, Shalimar could tell. After the Gentleman, she had been working more closely with the Initiative, preparing for…something. She was also spending time with the comatose Slayer, Faith. She looked over at Angel, wondering if her sister’s mate had any idea what she was up to.

Suddenly, there was a bolt of shock running down the link she shared with Buffy. “Something’s up.” She muttered, concentrating on the feeling. What happened next really blew her away.

“Spike.” She could hear Buffy’s voice but couldn’t see her, only the peroxide blonde man in front of her. When she couldn’t mover her head to look around she realized she was looking through her sister’s eyes. “How?”

“Well, you know me pet. I’m just full of surprises.” Shalimar’s sight cleared and she was back in the manor.

“The hell?” She muttered.

“Shalimar, what’s up?” Angel asked.

“A blonde.” She said. “Some guy named Spike.”

“Spike?” Angel leapt to his feet. “Where are they?” Shalimar got up.

“The university.” She said. “What’s up?”

“Let’s move.” Angel said. The two ran out the door. Cane and Oz watched as they left.

“Spike in broad daylight?” Oz muttered. “Not good.”

Buffy rolled as Spike brought his foot down. This was not good. Spike was in daylight, and nothing she did seemed to work. At least, in Slayer terms. She’d done everything she could think of, staked him several times, and he refused to dust.

“You ready to give up yet, pet?” He asked. “Make it easier on yourself. You can’t stop me, and I’ll be real good to you.”

“What, is that a promise of a quick death?” She asked. She could feel Shalimar coming closer, and Angel was with her. The three of them could take him; she just needed to hold him a little longer.

“I never said I was gonna kill ya, luv.” He said, his British accent starting to grate on her nerves. “I got plenty of plans for you and this power boost. We’re gonna have lots of fun, and an eternity to have it in.” Buffy gave him a look of disgust and horror.

“You want to…did you hit your head or something?” She asked him. “’Cause I think you knocked your few brain cells loose.” She dropped low. “Even if you turned me, I’d never do anything for you. And I would never live as vampire.”

“You say that now.” Spike said, closing in. “Maybe you just need to know what its really like.” Buffy thought back to the time where the nightmares of Sunnydale had become a reality, when she had, temporarily, been a vampire. She thought of the near uncontrollable thirst, about thinking how easy it would be to rip her friends throats out.

“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” She said.

“You say that like you have a choice.” Spike said. “I know how you fight, luv. I know every move your going to make, and you can’t do a thing about it.” A feral grin slid over Buffy’s face.

“You don’t have a clue.” She said. Her eyes flashed the yellow cat’s eyes and she leapt forward, literally, covering the space between them in a few seconds. Both feet connected with Spike’s chest, sending him to the ground. He got to his feet, only to meet Buffy’s fist. “Do yourself a favour. Stay down.” Spike rolled away from her and got to his feet. “Okay, all that peroxide really has killed your brain.” She charged forward again, throwing a furious combination of punches and kicks. Spike struck back, catching her on the shoulder. She spun away and glared at him.

“Still think I don’t have a clue?” He asked snidely. Buffy ran towards him, but instead of leaping or staying on the ground, she ran up the nearby wall, angling herself toward Spike. “What the bloody…?” Buffy foot crashed against his jaw once more, and Spike could have sworn he felt a tooth jiggle loose.

“Still think you do?” She shot back. Spike clambered to his feet.

“I knew there was something special about you, pet.” He said with a grin. “But you still can’t stop me. You can’t even stake me. What will you do?”

“SPIKE!” A familiar voice roared. It couldn’t be, Spike thought as he turned towards the voice.

“Bloody hell.” He breathed as Angel ran towards him, another blonde chit close behind. He felt something hit him in the back sending him sprawling. Angel ran over to Buffy.

“Are you alright?” He murmured.

“I’m fine.” She said. “I’m okay.” She leaned against Angel, just breathing in his scent. “How’d you know?”

“Shalimar felt something was wrong.” He said. Buffy smiled at her sister.

“Gotta love that twin link.” She muttered. Shalimar grinned, then looked over at Spike, slowly getting to his feet. Angel had explained who he was, and what he was.

“Any idea how he’s out and about?” She asked. A storm of static came over her communicator.

“Shalimar, its Xander.” The com suddenly came to life. “Don’t ask it’s too long a story to tell right now. Just listen. Spike’s got a new piece of jewellery; that ring on his finger. Chances are, that’s how he’s out in broad daylight. Take it off and he should start to burn.” Shalimar looked at the ring in question. How the hell had Xander known about it? How had he gotten onto the comlink? And why had he sounded so distant? Answers later.

“The ring.” She said. Spike’s head came up. “Go for the ring.”

“What?” Buffy saw the ring. It was new, but that didn’t mean anything. “Shalimar, how…”

“Don’t ask, Buffy.” Shalimar said. “I don’t even understand it properly. All I know is that Xander somehow got through on the comlink and pointed out the ring as a possible cause.”

“Xander?” Angel muttered. Buffy looked over at Spike.

“How the bloody hell…?”

“I don’t know how he did it, but by Spike’s reaction, it’s right on the money.” Buffy said. “Let’s do it.” The three nodded, gathering together. Three sets of eyes went yellow cats eyes.

“What the hell?” Spike couldn’t understand. Not only was the Grand Poof out in sunlight, but also his eyes did the same trick the Slayer’s did, and so did that other chit’s for that matter. “What the bloody hell is this?”

“Watch your mouth, Spike.” Angel said, charging forward. Buffy and Shalimar ran to the sides, circling around Spike. “There are ladies present.” The former vampire turned feral lashed out, catching his grand Child (or former, as the case may be) in the face with a vicious right. “I thought I taught you some manners.” Spike pulled back. The Poof had a heartbeat!

“What happened to you?” He asked, trying to keep back of his opponents reach. “Your alive!”

“Who said good things never happen?” Buffy said from his right. She tackled him to the ground. She held him there, pulling the ringed finger out for all to see. Angel grabbed his other arm as Shalimar moved in.

“You do this, you’ll kill us all.” Spike told the. Buffy looked up at Shalimar and grinned.

“Let’s test that theory.” Shalimar said as she ripped the ring off his finger. Buffy and Angel let go as the vampire began smoking.

“Bloody hell!” He yelled jumping down the hole he had crawled out of.

“Jerk.” Buffy muttered. “He needs to get his head read, or a cat scan, or…”

“Buffy?” Angel couldn’t explain it, but he knew this had been more than the usual ‘out to kill the Slayer’ for Spike. “Buffy, what is it?”

“It doesn’t matter, now.” Buffy muttered, cuddling up to him. “He’s gone.”

“But he’ll be back.” Angel said again. Spike had obviously done or said something that had shaken her. “What was he after?”

“Me.” Buffy said after a long silence. Shalimar looked at her. A low growl escaped Angel’s throat. “He’d seen the power boost and decided he wanted to turn me.”

“I’ll kill him!” Angel growled. “I’m going to rip his heart out and hold it in the sunlight. I’ll…”

“Easy, Angel.” Buffy said. “You’re starting to sound like Angelus. Like I said, he’s gone, and he’ll think twice about trying that again now he knows there’s three of us.” Shalimar looked at the hole the blonde had leapt down.

“He’d better stay down there if he knows what’s good for him.” She muttered. “If I see him again, I swear, I’ll dust his ass before he can blink.” Buffy smiled.

“I almost hope he tries again.” She said. “Just to see his face.” Shalimar smiled while Angel held his mate close. I knew he was a bad idea, he thought. He’d better hope I don’t run into him. “Anyway, we have other things to worry about. Xander.” Angel nodded. The Scoobies resident goof ball had hacked into Adam’s com system and given them a working strategy like it happened every day. That wasn’t normal. So how’d he do it?

Chapter Twelve - Xanders History

The second the three ferals walked in, Xander knew he was in for it. He quickly slid the red-tinted ‘sunglasses’ into his pocket before turning to greet them.

“Hey guys.” He said innocently. “I found some…”

“How’d you do it?” Shalimar demanded. I’m dead, Xander thought.

“Do what?”

“Let me think for a minute.” Look’s like that glare’s genetic, Xander thought. “Hack the com signal, spot the ring or figure out what it was? Your choice.” Xander gulped as Giles came out of the kitchen.

“I take it you took care of Spike then.” He asked. In his hand was a large old book.

“Yeah.” Buffy said, also glaring at him. “With help from Xander.”

“Yes, so I gathered from Shalimar’s outburst.” The former Watcher looked over at his young friend. “I suggest you tell us how you did it.” He said. I am so dead, Xander thought. He took a breath.

“First, Buffy, you might want to come over here so you can hit me.” He said. Buffy continued to glare at him. “Okay, maybe not.” He took another breath. “I’mHomoSupereiorIcananalyzedatafasterthananysupercomputerIonlyfoundoutacoupleofmonthsagopleasedon’tkillme.” Buffy’s glare was suddenly full of daggers.

“You shit!” She screamed. “You make me feel bad about keeping my mutantcy a secret and you neglect to mention you’re a natural mutant? What, you think a man made mutant is beneath you or something?” Angel wrapped his arms around her, partly to calm her down, partly to stop her from tearing Xander’s head off. Shalimar, however, wasn’t held back by anyone. Her fist exploded across Xander’s jaw, sending him sprawling to the ground.

“I guess I deserved that.” He said.

“Yes, you did.” Shalimar agreed, moving back to Buffy’s side.

“I wish I’d taken your advice now.” Buffy said darkly. “When were you going to tell us?”

“I don’t know.” Xander thought. “It always seemed like a pretty useless power anyway. Correlating and analysing data, coming to a conclusion based on it. What possible use could that be?” Buffy’s look change to one of amusement. “What?”

“Contradicting Apocalyptic prophecies.” Buffy said, before cracking up. Xander gave her a confused look.

“I think what she’s trying to say,” Giles started. “is that you could gather the data from several prophecies, cross it with current events, and come up with a reasonably accurate assumption of what was happening in less time than it takes us normally.” Xander looked at the Englishman.

“Oh. Yeah. Oops.” He said after a while. By this time, every one was laughing.

“So, how did you find out?” Buffy said after finally managing to stop laughing. “When you spoke to me about your trip, all I got was something about your car breaking down, and you working as a male stripper.” Angel raised an eyebrow at that. Shalimar resumed laughing.

“Dear God, lad, is that the best story you could come up with?” Giles asked with a grin.

“It worked.” Xander said defensively. “I made her promise not to mention it, hence, not having to give any details.”

“Sure.” Buffy said. Xander gave her a withering look.

“Can we wait til everyone gathers, please?” He said. “I don’t want to tell this story a hundred times.” Buffy nodded.

“This had better be good.” She said.

 

“I still don’t believe you didn’t tell me!” Willow screamed for the thousandth time once they were all gathered at the manor, Cane included. Joyce merely glared at the boy. After what he did to her daughter, he pulls something like this.

“Wills, calm down.” Xander said. “Mrs Summers, if you’re going to say something…”

“After what you did to my daughter…”

“Mom, settle down, please.” Buffy said. “I’m sure he had his reasons.” She turned her glare to him again. “And it had better be good.” She muttered.

“Okay.” Xander took a breath. This was not going to be enjoyable. “What I originally told you, Buffy, wasn’t entirely true, but it wasn’t a total lie, either. I made it as far as L.A, and then the engine fell out the bottom of my car…”

 

Xander’s view. The past.

“Shit!” I muttered, kicking the tyre. This wasn’t my day. I looked around at the City of Angels, kind of wishing, for the first time ever, Deadboy were around. Especially after I saw some girl being led into an alley by tall, dark and creepy. “I left Sunnydale to get away from this crap.” I muttered, walking towards the alley, cross in hand. I know, not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but I figured hey, it’s just the one. I can handle one.

Like I said, the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Because there wasn’t just the one. There were more like ten of them, and they weren’t too happy that I interrupted their meal.

“Didn’t your mother’s ever teach you it’s rude to bite?” The first thing that came out of my mouth, and probably the last. At least, that was the thought at the time. Until the ‘victim’ showed she wasn’t so helpless as she looked.

“You bloodsuckers need to be taught some manners.” She said, getting to her feet. She had this unbelievably silver hair, and looked like a goddess. Especially when she floated about ten inches off the ground. A wind whipped through the alley and dark clouds gathered overhead faster than I thought possible. The lightening started flying from the woman in question, controlled, striking only the vamps, until there were no vamps.

“And I thought you needed help.” I said with my trademark grin. The woman merely glared at me.

“You should not be here.” She said. “You do not know what you are dealing with.” I think that’s when she noticed my cross. “Or perhaps you do.”

“Yep, spent my entire life in a town full of them.” I said. “’Course, I only found out about five years ago. Been fighting them ever since. Me and some friends.”

“Impressive.” The woman said.

“Xander Harris.” I said, sticking my hand out. The woman took it.

“Ororo!” A guy came out of the sky. Literally, zoomed down faster than Giles around Jelly doughnuts.

(“I beg your pardon?” Giles interjected. The other Scoobies grinned. It was true.)

My reaction was understandable.

“Holy shit!” I yelled as he landed, glowing slightly. “How-wow-wow…” I took a breath, calming myself down. “How’d you do that?”

“Cannonball can surround himself in a blast shield which makes him impervious to harm. It also allows him to fly.” The woman, Ororo informed me.

“So I noticed.” I said, slightly freaked. “And you control the weather, right?” Ororo nodded. “Cool. One more question, how do you do that?”

“We’re mutants.” A voice said from behind me. I turned to be faced with yet another hot boded babe, this one with black hair and a pair of strange tattoo’s on her face. “Homo Superior. Like yourself.”

“Me? No way, uh-uh, not happening. Sorry, but you’ve got your wires crossed somewhere… What do they call you anyway? Tats?” Cannonball snorted. I even got a smile out of Ororo. The woman in front of merely looked at me.

“An obvious assumption, considering my appearance.” She said calmly. Talk about your ice queens. This one could have frozen a fire. “I am called Sage. I observe, I correlate and I come to a conclusion. This,” She tapped her glasses. “is actually a computer, with a various array of scanners. Including genetic. You have the X Gene that makes a base line human a mutant. It’s active, which makes me wonder why you haven’t had any outbursts.”

“Unless my powers the ability to attract carnivorous demons.” I said, my head spinning. Me, a mutant? I’m the zeppo; there is no way that was possible. “Can you tell with that thing what my powers are, if any?”

“That’s the odd thing.” Sage said. “I can’t seem to decipher anything but the fact that you’re a mutant. We’d have to run some tests to figure that out.”

“Great.” I muttered. “I get to be poked and prodded til I blow something up.” Cannonball guffawed again.

“Ah wonder how you became active?” He said, and I noticed his Kentucky accent for the first time. “Usually happens durin’ times of stress an’ what not.”

“Times of stress?” I thought back on my life on the Hellmouth over the past five years. “Well, it would be easier to list the non-stressful times in my life.” Cannonball laughed again.

“Ah like this one.” He said. “Can we keep ‘im?”

“Hey, I’m house broken.” I said, burying my concerns under my humour, like usual. Inside, though, I was panicking. A mutant? What would the guys think?

 

The present.

“So you know why I kept it a secret.” Buffy said. She was still a bit steamed, but she could understand why he did it. “And you still lost it?”

“I know I don’t know why I did. I’m still trying to master the training I got off Sage, so I don’t have full control over my emotions.” Xander told her. “Anyway, after a few days, we found out, completely by accident, that I was like Sage; a living super computer. She started training me, pushing so hard, I thought I was going to go into meltdown. I survived, and came back. Sage gave me these before I left.” He pulled the red tinted glasses out. “It’s still hooked up to their network, so I can access whatever info they have stored, and I can get in contact with Sage if necessary.”

“Wow.” Oz said. Willow merely looked at her friend. There was something very familiar about this, suddenly it hit her.

“Ororo. Was she African?” She asked. Xander smiled.

“Yes, Wills.” He said. “She was.”

“You met the X-Men?” She blurted suddenly. The rest of them looked at her, then at Xander.

“Met and was accepted by.” He said with a grin. “Well, by the external team, anyway. They pulled away from the home team based at the Xavier Institute to protect the normal people without any powers, while the main team took care of bigger threats.” He didn’t tell them of Sage’s suspicions concerning Professor Xavier himself, or the fact that he agreed that the data she had supported those conclusions, not that there was much. They didn’t need the world of the X-Men on top of everything else.

“Makes sense.” Buffy said. “I mean, the big guns can’t handle everything all the time. I still wish you’d told us earlier. A true friend can be trusted with the greatest burden.” There was a collective coughing fit as she said that. Even Angel was a bit surprised. Cane, however, simply smiled. It would seem he was at least able to teach someone something. “What?”

“We’re not used to you spouting philosophical like that.” Her sister stated. “You surprised us.”

“What can I say?” Buffy said, shrugging and pointing at Cane. “He rubs off on you.”

Chapter 13: Meeting Veruca

Oz sat in the lotus position. He seemed to spend a lot of time like this, but it was worth it. He was getting close he could feel it. A little more and he could finally confront his bestial alter ego. He just hoped the wolf would listen.

He opened his eyes and saw Willow sitting in front of him. Actually, any closer she’d be on him. Not that he’d mind.

“Hi.” She said cheerfully. “Seen any furry you’s in there yet?” Oz grinned.

“Not yet.” He said. “Almost, though.” Something was bugging him. Willow could almost sense it.

“Is something wrong?” She asked. Oz finally got to his feet, frustrated.

“I just wish this didn’t take so long.” He said. “The full moon’s coming up. What if I break out?”

“Concentrating on what may happen will not help in your task.” Cane said. “You must focus on the task at hand.” Oz nodded. He was trying, it just seemed the wolf was purposely keeping him out.

“Can he take a break?” Willow asked. “Y’know, recharge the batteries?”

“There is nothing keeping him here.” Cane said. “He may take a break if he wishes. It may help him find the focus he needs.” Willow smiled as Oz wrapped his arms around her waist.

“So, Bronze?” He asked. Willow grinned slyly.

“Well, maybe for a couple of hours.” She said suggestively. Oz grinned.

“I’ll get my jacket.” He said, moving off. Willow looked over at Cane.

“Can he do it?” She asked the Shao Lin.

“I do not know for sure.” He answered. “He is doing well, but it seems that something is keeping him back. I do not know what.” Willow nodded, slipping her hands into her pockets.

“Oh, almost forgot.” She said, puling out a slip of paper. “I think I found your son. He was put through the Social Services system after the attack. He was adopted by a Manhattan detective and followed in his footsteps.” Cane took the paper and looked at the two photos. The one of the boy looked like his son.

“It is he.” He said sadly. “Thank you.” Willow shrugged as Oz walked in.

“No big.” She said. “You’re helping Oz, and you helped Buffy. I’m just doing you a favour.” Cane smiled. That such an innocent could grow in such an environment was beyond him. “’Sides, it was fun. Haven’t had to hack government computers in years.” Cane chuckled. Not quite so innocent.

“Ready to go?” Oz asked. Willow nodded and waved as they left. Cane smiled again. He was gong to miss these children, he realised. He would have to find a way to keep in contact.

 

Oz couldn’t keep his eyes of the girl on stage. Her name was Veruca, she was the main singer in one of the other bands that played the Bronze, and for some reason Oz couldn’t keep his eyes off her. To make things worse, Willow had noticed, repeatedly trying to get his attention. Willow looked over at Buffy, who was also looking intently at the stage, but the look on her face was completely different.

“Buffy, what’s wrong?” She asked. Buffy looked at her friend.

“Get Oz out of here.” Buffy ordered. “The chick on stage’s a werewolf and she’s got her eyes on your man.” Willow looked at Buffy, horrified, then at Veruca, then at Oz.

“That miserable, dirty, skanky…” She muttered under her breath.

“Just get him out of, Wills.” Buffy said. “I’ll take care of the rest. With help.” She focused on the link with her sister. “Shalimar, where are you?”

“Not far. Me and Angel are just around the corner.”

“Tell Angel he’ll have to stay outside for the moment. We have horny wolf problems, and I’m not talking about Oz, though he’s coming close. I don’t need Angel in drool mode.”

“Got it, but he’s not going to be happy.”

“I’ll make it up to him.” Buffy turned her attention back to the stage. Oz and Willow were long gone, and Veruca was just starting another song. The wolf looked briefly at Buffy’s table. Sorry, bitch, Buffy thought. You’re not splitting my pack that easily.

 

Veruca had just finished her set. It was a pity Oz had left early. Oh, well, she’d have plenty of time to show him where he truly belonged in a few nights’ time, and it wasn’t with the soft skinned wimp.

She went past the table he had been sitting on, just to get another nose full of his sent. The blonde that had been sitting with them grabbed her by the arm while the other blonde that had joined her glared.

“I know what you are.” She said. “And I know what you’re up to. I’m here to tell you it won’t work.”

“It looked like it was working.” Veruca sneered. The other blonde leaned over.

“Perhaps my sister was being a bit to subtle.” She said. “It won’t work because you’re going to leave town. Tonight. Sunnydale can get real dangerous to the wrong people.”

“Are you threatening me?” Veruca asked in an amused tone. “Because if you are, then you don’t understand at all. Oz is a wolf. He belongs with his own kind. I’m going to prove that, and there is nothing you can do to stop me.” Her amusement was cut short when two sets of cat’s eyes glowed briefly.

“You’re the one that doesn’t understand.” The first blonde said. “The name’s Buffy. Ask around about what happens to people who mess with my friends.” With that, Buffy let go, got to her feet and left, Shalimar close behind. Veruca watched them leave. Well, little pup, she thought. It seems you’re friends are going to make this a little more interesting than I thought.

 

“Think we over did it?” Shalimar asked. Buffy shook her head.

“Nope.” She said. “Doubt it even worried her. She’s so damn confident she’ll win.” Shalimar nodded.

“Hopefully, Oz will get things under control soon.” She said as they exited the club.

“We’ll just have to make him see the dangers.” Buffy said. “’Cause one thing’s for sure. That bitch isn’t going to balk at killing Willow to get Oz.”

“So I take it she didn’t get it?” Angel said, walking up behind them silently. Buffy smiled. Being alive hadn’t detracted from his ability to move like a shadow.

“We could have put it on a neon sign and she still wouldn’t get it.” Shalimar muttered. Angel nodded.

“I know the type.” He said, looking down at Buffy. “And so do you. Cordelia wouldn’t stop.” Buffy grinned.

“God she was a pain.” She said. Another woman came to mind, another that had tried to take her Angel from her. “Darla.” She said out loud. Angel winced. “Your former sire couldn’t get the hint until you shoved that crossbow bolt through her heart.”

“Xander.” Angel said in reply. “He just wouldn’t leave it alone.” Buffy giggled.

“You two seem to attract the stubborn ones.” Shalimar said.

“Makes things more fun.” Buffy said. “Y’know, a test of loyalty.” Angel put his arm around her shoulder.

“Speaking of which…” He said, nuzzling her neck.

“Bye, sis.” Buffy waved as her mate pulled her away. Shalimar watched as they left. No prizes for guessing what they’re going to be doing tonight. Hopefully Buffy will do her the favour of putting her shields up this time.

Chapter 14: The Cure

Oz stood in the cage. “You sure this will work?” He asked. Xander shook his head.

“Not really.” He said. “There isn’t enough data to come to a definite conclusion, but what data I’ve been able to scrounge points to at least a fifty-fifty chance.”

“Can you not do that?” Oz begged. “It really scares me. Just doesn’t…”

“Sound like Xander?” Buffy asked as she, Shalimar and Angel walked down. “You said it, but that’s alright. Better than a string of bad jokes.”

“Hey!” Xander said suddenly. “I’m not that bad.”

“I know.” Buffy said, smiling sweetly. “I just wanted to break that icy façade of yours. It really doesn’t suit you.” A chuckle echoed from the corner.

“She is right.” Cane said. “It is not you.” Xander shrugged.

“At least I can help.” Xander said indignantly. “So, what’s up?”

“Thought we’d give Oz a reason to try a little harder.” Shalimar said. “Seems that Veruca chick at the Bronze’s a wolf, and unfortunately, she’s got her eyes on you.” Oz stared at them.

“That’s the reason…” He stopped, embarrassed. Buffy nodded.

“She’s got some serious hormones coming off her.” She said. “That’s why I got Willow to get you out of there last night. Me and Shal tried to talk her out of it, but she’s determined.” Angel looked at Oz.

“It’s time to figure out who and what you are.” The former vampire said. “And, more importantly, what you want. Willow needs you, more than she’d let on. And you need her. She’s the key to your control, you know and I know it. What you have to decide is how long it’s going to take before you acknowledge that fact.” Oz nodded as the sun began to go down.

“Full moon.” He said, sitting in the lotus position. “I hope this works.” Buffy looked over at Xander.

“I figured that the barrier he keeps running into has nothing to do with him or the wolf, and everything to do with the full moon.” Xander told them. “Or more precisely, the wolf’s reliance on the full moon. With any luck, once the two halves are working together, Oz’s wolf form will be able come out without the full moon, making it possible for Oz to be more helpful in battles. At least, that’s the theory.” He shrugged. “I really don’t have much to go on.” Buffy looked at him, impressed.

“Not bad.” She said. “This super computer thing you got going does come in handy, doesn’t it?”

“Well, I asked Sage to go over the data and see if she came to the same conclusion.” Xander admitted. “She came up with better odds.” They watched as Oz began to transform into the wolf then, suddenly, stopped half way. “Fingers crossed.” Xander muttered.

 

Oz looked around him. He was in some kind of forest. Before him was a cave of some sort. A wolf den I guess, he thought. He walked up to it and was about to enter when a low growl stopped him.

“You should not be here.” A voice said. Oz watched as a large, sleek wolf walked out. “This is not your place.”

“We need to talk.” Oz said. The wolf growled.

“No, we don’t.” It said. “You wish to persuade me that I’m wrong and your right. You are not the first to try, and you will surely not be the last. It will not work.”

“I have to try.” Oz said. “You’re hurting innocents every time you go out there.” The wolf growled.

“They are prey.” It said. “Pink, soft and weak. They are food, nothing more.” Oz snorted.

“You sound like a vampire.” He accused.

“You dare compare me to those…things?” The wolf roared. “If we did not share this body, you would be dead.”

“So why act like one if you don’t like them?” Oz demanded. “Why hunt humans when there are vampires and demons and God knows what else walking around? We’re on the Hellmouth, there are…”

“The Mouth of Hell?” The wolf demanded. “You have brought us here, to this place?” Oz started to read something in its voice.

“Yes.” He said. “I brought us here and while you are locked away during those nights and days without the full moon, I’ve been helping my friends fight the demons you seem to hate so much. They accept what I am, Buffy included, and she used to be the Slayer.” It was a gamble, mentioning Buffy’s former destiny. But if the wolf was as much an enemy of vampires as it sounded…

“The Great Hunter?” There was a sense of awe in its voice, then “Used to be?”

“She died.” Oz said. “Xander, one of our friends, brought her back with CPR. Its…” An image appeared of one of the lifesaving courses he had taken, showing him applying CPR. That’s interesting, he thought.

“Your friend her saved with…this?” The wolf asked incredulously.

“Yep.” Oz nodded. “Xander has a way of being there when needed, and doing the impossible.” The wolf nodded, as an image of Xander appeared, goofy smile in place.

“This is…Xander?” It asked. “Interesting. Show me the girl, the former Hunter.” Xander was replaced with an image of Buffy in mid battle, plunging a stake into the heart of a vampire. “How is she still doing this?”

“We found out she’s a new mutant.” Oz said. “A genetically engineered human with extraordinary abilities. In her case, the agility and strength a little more than a Slayer’s, plus enhanced senses.” The wolf tilted its head, interested.

“Incredible.” It said.

“Not nearly as incredible as…” The image was replaced by Willow, red headed and beautiful. “Her. My fiery red headed Willow.” Oz thought he heard the wolf’s breath catch.

“Beautiful.” The wolf whispered. “She is…breathtaking.” The wolf took a deep breath and Oz realized he was bringing an image of Willow that smelt like the real thing. The wolf walked up to her. “This is the one you fear of hurting more than any other?” Oz nodded.

“My mate.” He said. “My love.” He moved closer, gently stroking her cheek. “And she’s in danger.” The wolf growled suddenly, a low, protective growl.

“Who?” It demanded. “Who would endanger our mate?” Oz smiled. The wolf really was a part of him; it’s the only way to explain how easily it had taken to her.

“Another wolf.” He said. “One that thinks she’s not worthy of us. One who sees only the frail, weak human, and not…” He played the image of Willow telling Giles off for his reaction to Buffy’s mutantcy. The wolf chuckled.

“She is spirited.” It said.

“Yeah, she is.” Oz nodded. “And beautiful, gentle, kind, loving…she’s the greatest friend a lot of people have. I’d even go as far as saying she’s the heart and soul of our little group.” The image of Willow was surrounded by the other Scoobies, Buffy, Xander, Giles, Shalimar, Angel, even Cordelia was there, and Cane and Mrs Summers. The wolf looked at the group.

“They are…our pack?” It asked. Oz thought a moment.

“I never thought of them that way.” He admitted. “We’re as close as family, so yeah, I guess we’re pack.” The wolf nodded.

“And there are others?” It asked.

“No one we really know.” Oz admitted. “But…the entire town we’re living in, a town built on the edge of the Hellmouth, is filled with people who do not know of the dangers in the night. We’ve been protecting them all.” The wolf looked at him, then nodded.

“A Guardian of the Earth.” It said. “A Protector. I understand; it is the place of a wolf to protect his territory.” Oz smiled.

“I think you’ve got it.” He said.

“Indeed.” It said. “But the restrictions of the moon make things difficult. There is a way.” Oz looked at it questioningly. “We must fuse, totally. The whole of one must consume part of the other. You will not loose anything, but you will have full access to my powers on the nights where the moon is not full, and will keep your human form when it is. You will be able to transform to the full wolf when necessary, but will keep your wits. You will be better able to protect our territory, our pack…” It looked at the Willow image. “…Our mate.” Oz nodded, understanding. It was the only way.

“Let’s do it.”

 

Oz’s eyes flew open. It was still night, the moon was full, but he was human.

It worked.

He leapt to his feet. “Look who’s up?” He looked over at Angel, who was sitting against the wall.

“Where are Buffy and the others?” Oz asked.

“Bronze.” Angel said. “They wanted to get Willow’s mind off Veruca and you, so Buffy, Xander and Shalimar took her out.” Oz nodded, and walked towards the cage door. “I take it you had some success?” Oz grinned.

“You could say that.” He said. “Let’s just say I won’t be having any control issues.” Angel grinned, unlocking the door.

“So you talked it around?” The feral asked.

“Better.” Oz said. “We merged, totally. I have full access to the wolf’s abilities. Better to protect my territory, pack and mate.” Angel nodded, understanding, throwing Oz’s shirt at him.

“Put this on.” He said. “Willow will definitely want to know.”

 

Willow looked at the door for the thousandth time. “Do you think everything’s all right?”

“Wills, relax.” Buffy reassured her. “Oz will be fine. Angel’s there to watch him, and it’s not like you’re man can’t handle himself.” Willow sighed.

“Guess you’re right.” She said. She looked over at Xander, who had his ‘glasses’ on. “What’s up? Checking your e-mails?” Xander grinned.

“Actually, I’ve been keeping an eye out for anything pointing to Veruca.” He said. “Scanning the area, you know. I picked something up, something you might be interested in.”

“What?” Willow asked. Xander shook his head.

“Just watch the door.” He said. “You’ll see in three, two…one.” At that moment, Angel walked in. Right behind him was a very human looking Oz. Willow felt her breath catch.

“I can’t breath.” She whispered as they walked towards them. “Why can’t I breath? My lungs aren’t working and there’s Oz coming towards us and he’s human and the moons full and…” Oz made it to them smiling at her. “Oz, you’re human and it’s a full moon, but that’s not possible because you should be all hairy and growly, but here you are, human and non-wolfy, but how, did it actually work, are you in control, the moons full…” Willow stopped talking as Oz bent closer, covering her mouth with his. Buffy watched with a smile as Angel moved over to her.

“I guess it worked.” She said.

“Guess so.” They watched the two lovers for a moment.

“Hey, whoa guys, come on.” Buffy said, covering her eyes. “Public place here. Get a grip, would you?” Oz grinned as they pulled away.

“Oh wow.” Willow whispered.

“Yeah.” Oz said, and then led her away. “Bye guys.” Willow waved breathlessly. Xander chuckled.

“Damn I’m good.” He said. Buffy rolled her eyes.

“C’mon you.” She said, grabbing Angel’s arm. “Those two made me jealous.” Angel grinned as she dragged him off. Xander shook his head.

“Where’re they all going?” Shalimar asked, walking over from the bar.

“Two guesses.” Xander said. Shalimar groaned.

“I’m not getting any sleep tonight, yet again.” She muttered, walking off. Xander watched as they did so, then turned his attention back to his scanners. Just in case.

Chapter 15: Faith

Oz walked in just as Veruca finished her practice session. He took a breath, but not to control his hormones. It was to control his rage, so he didn’t rip this bitch to pieces for trying to take Willow’s place.

“Nice to see you again.” She said as she came towards him. No scratch that, she almost purred. It took everything he had not snarl back. “I guess we didn’t catch each other last night. Pity.”

“Not really.” Oz said. “Actually, it was rather lucky. For you.” He finally let got the snarl he was hiding. “I know why you’re here, so let me just reinforce Buffy’s warning. It. Won’t. Work. The reason we didn’t run into each other was because last night I achieved the impossible. I now control the wolf. We talked, and it was decided that we would merge, completely, so as to better protect our mate. Willow. She is the only one for me, and if you think for one moment that you could ever take her place, you’re wrong. If you so much as glance at her sideways, I will rip you to shreds. That’s a promise.” With that he turned and walked out. Veruca watched him leave. We’ll see about that, young pup. We shall see.

 

“So, how’d it go?” Willow asked, bounding up to Oz’s side as he walked into the manor.

“Buffy was right.” He growled. “She’s so confident, so sure. I almost shredded her there and then.”

“I don’t blame you.” Buffy said. “I just wish Shal would let me carry a knife or something. Preferably something blunt.”

“Buffy, behave.” Shalimar admonished her. “Wait til she goes wolf. Then you can kill her.”

“Such friendly sentiments.” Xander said. “Maybe I should ask Sage to talk Wolverine to come down and talk to her.”

“No.” Oz said firmly. “That goes for you two as well.” He looked pointedly at Buffy and Shalimar. “She makes a go for Willow, she’s mine.” Buffy was about to object, then changed her mind.

“Right.” She said. “I understand.” She gave a quick glance over to Angel. She understood all to well. “She’s all yours. Just try to leave something for us to use as a punching bag, ‘kay?”

“Got it.” Oz said, holding Willow tighter. No one was going to hurt his mate. No one.

 

“You sure you have to go?” Buffy asked. Cane nodded sadly.

“I am afraid so.” He said. “I now know where my son is, thanks to you and your friends. I wish to see him, at least.” Buffy nodded.

“I understand.” She said. She handed him a piece of paper. “My phone number. Call us sometime.” Cane nodded

“I will never forget any of you.” He said. “It has been…an experience.” Buffy grinned.

“Yeah. You can now add straightening out a  former Slayer turned new mutant and curing a werewolf to your resume.” She said. Cane chuckled. Buffy embraced the Shao Lin. “See you ‘round. We’ll miss you.” Cane place a hand on her shoulder.

“As I will you.” He said. She let him go. Cane placed his hat on his head and bowed briefly. Buffy returned the gesture, a deep, respectful bow. “Farewell, my friend. May we meet again.”

“We will.” Buffy said with a grin. “I know where you’ll be. Nowhere is safe from the Scooby Gang.” Cane chuckled, then turned and walked off. As he did so, he pulled his old flute out, and began playing. Buffy grinned. It would definitely be quieter around here without him.

 

She sat quietly near by. Former Slayer turned new mutant? How’d that work? If Buffy didn’t have her Slayer powers, hell, this wouldn’t be anywhere near the challenge she had been hoping it would be. Nowhere near as fun, either. She could always chase that old man and kidnap him. She grinned. Yeah, that could be enjoyable.

“Alright, Faith. You can come out now.” Buffy said suddenly. Faith started. How the hell’d she do that? She hadn’t made a sound since she started following her. “Come on, F. I don’t have all day. Let’s just get this over with. We need to talk.” Faith walked out cautiously.

“How’d you know I was there?” She demanded.

“Same way I know you’ve been following me around for the past two days.” Buffy said. “You weren’t at the hospital.”

“Checking up on the big, bad Faith?” The Slayer sneered. Buffy smiled sadly.

“Actually I was checking up on the could have been friend that I failed when she needed me.” She told her. Faith raised an eyebrow.

“Alright, what’s the scam?” She demanded.

“No scam, Faith.” Buffy assured her. “Just honestly sorry. You needed a friend and I let you down. If you want to take it out on me, I wouldn’t blame you. Just hear me out first. Then you can try to kick the crap out of me all you want.” Faith glared at her.

“Alright, B. I’m listening.” Buffy sighed. She’d expected hostility, she knew this would be hard. She just wished she knew how to handle her.

“Like I’m sure you just heard, I’m not the Slayer any more.” Buffy began. “I haven’t been the Slayer for four years, since I died and was brought back by Xander. That job was filled by first Kendra, and now you. I’ll be frank with you, Faith. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve watched too many friends die, seen too many things that, honestly, I could have done without. It’s time for me to step aside, let the true Slayer take over.” Faith gawked. She didn’t know what to expect when she and B finally talked things out, but this wasn’t it.

“Hold on a second. If you aren’t the Slayer anymore, how’d you survive the night life this long?” Buffy grinned.

“That’s the other reason I’m leaving Sunnydale.” Buffy began.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time out.” Faith exploded. “Leaving? When? Why? You got it good here. You got friends, family…”

“Yeah, but I’ve got family out there, too.” Buffy interrupted. “I’ll always love mom, hell she raised me. But I recently found out she’s not my real mother.” Faith’s jaw hit the floor. Joyce wasn’t Buffy’s real mother? “I, my sister and who knows how many others, were the product of Genomex’s experiment, the one that created the new mutants. I’m a feral. All the Slayer powers, with heightened senses and no destiny. My sister and I were separated at birth. We don’t know who our real parents are; we don’t know where we really come from. But we want to find out, and I can’t do that fighting vampires in Sunnydale.” Faith stood silently, trying to rap her mind around what Buffy was saying. “There’s a government military organization I’ve been working with, prepping them for when I move on. Y’know, which demons are huntable, which ones have info, that sort of thing. But I’d feel better leaving the Slayer here to watch things. You, whether you decide we have to fight here or not.” She turned to walk away. “The choice is yours, Faith. I hope you make the right decision.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She demanded. Was she threatening her?

“The Council’s hiding out in the hotel.” Buffy explained. “Shalimar and I checked it out. They have orders to kill you to make way for the next Slayer.”

“And you care?” Faith shot. She knew, the second the words left her mouth, that it was too much. Buffy had already shown that she did.

“Yes, Faith, I do.” Buffy said sharply. She’d had enough. “As much as I should probably just walk away and let them blow your head off, I do care. I care because, as much as you’d like to think otherwise, we are alike. We’ve both lost a lot to this war. Hell, I nearly lost my sanity. That doesn’t have to happen anymore. I’m trying to help you, but if you don’t want it, then just go, plan your revenge or whatever it is you want.” She stormed off, leaving Faith leaving like absolute shit. Why the hell’d I do that, she wondered. She watched the feral a moment, and then raced after her.

“Buf…” A hail of bullets cut off her shout. “Shit!” Muttered, running a dumpster for cover. Faith noticed Buffy turn, then dart off. It was a trap, Faith thought darkly. The cheerleader set her up! I didn’t even think she had that in her. Faith crept into the nearby alley and crept up the fire escape. “Two can play at that game, blondie.” She muttered. As she reached the top, she heard sounds like a fight was going on. She poked her head over the top. “The hell…?” Faith watched as the feral threw the gunmen around the top of the roof. She had nothing to do with the shooting. Faith suddenly felt really bad for blaming her. A determined look set on her face as she crawled over the edge of the roof, moving silently to the nearest gunmen. “Target practice is over!” She said, belting the guy over the back of the head. “And you were lousy anyway.”

“Damn straight.” Buffy said. “They didn’t nick either of us. I thought the Council hired decent assassins.”

“Maybe they’re low on funds.” Faith said as they mopped up the last shooter.

“Or low on brains.” Buffy suggested. The two warriors stopped and looked at each other. “So…”

“Buffy, I’m real sorry about what I said.” Faith blurted suddenly. “You were just trying to help, and I spat on in your face. I can understand if…”

“The offer’s still there.” Buffy told her. “The Hellmouth’s your responsibility now. I don’t want anything else to do with vampires for a while.”

“What about Angel?” Faith teased.

“Actually, he’s a new mutant like me now.” Buffy told her. Faith’s jaw dropped again. “Payment from the Powers That Be for service rendered.”

“Well it’s about time you got something for your troubles.” Faith said, flabbergasted.

“It still leaves him off limits.” Buffy warned. “Besides, you left someone rather unceremoniously and, against better judgement, he still harbours feelings for you.” It took Faith a while for it to click, but when it did, she almost fainted.

“Xander? You’re kidding, right?”

“’Fraid not, F.” Buffy said. “He’s still got a thing for you, so if your going to start appologies, I think you should start with him.” Faith nodded. “Scooby Central’s at the manor on Crawford Street now, most of the time, anyway. Meet us there tonight. Try not to be too late, ‘kay?” Faith nodded and watched as Buffy headed back to the fire escape she had used. Faith took a deep breath. Time to get this over with.

Chapter 16: Final Battles Pt. 1

“And don’t forget to take out the trash!”

“Alright already!” Xander yelled back at his father. I gotta get out of here, he thought. Maybe I should’ve taken Storm’s offer and joined the team.

“Hey Xand.” Xander froze and looked over at his bed or, more to the point, the person laying on it. “I was wondering when you’d get in. Don’t you have a Scooby meeting later or something?”

“Faith.” Emotions he thought he’d buried began to resurface. Now was not the time for him to go all weak kneed at the sight of the girl that had gone crazy and tried kill him, so he did the only thing he could. He shut down his emotions and went into what he had started to call ‘Sage mode’. His mind became a living super computer, processing data at inhuman speeds. No signs of break and enter, his parents hadn’t mentioned anything though, and they were still alive, so he had to assume she wasn’t here to kill him. Besides that, there were no weapons of any kind that he could see. “What are you doing here?” Weapons chest still locked, and on the other side of the basement. She didn’t look psychotic. “When did you wake up?”

“Two days ago.” She told him. First sign in two days. Hmm. “I had a talk to Buffy. She told me…” That last piece was all he needed. All the other clues snapped together suddenly, forming the picture he had suspected, but hoped wasn’t right.

“She’s leaving.” He said shortly. “Her meetings with the Initiative were prepping them. Translating Giles’ books onto their computers so they had all the relevant info. Introducing Agent Finn and the other squad commanders to the informants so they knew who had what info. All so there wouldn’t be too huge a gap. Except for the gaping hole left by the Slayer. You.” Faith nodded. “That’s why she’s been visiting you. That and the fact that she blames herself for what happened to you.” He said it coldly, in an almost monotone voice that made Faith shiver.

“What happened to you?” She whispered. “You don’t sound like you anymore.”

“A long story I can’t really go into right now.” He said guardedly. “You still haven’t answered my first question.” Faith looked at him for a moment, and then got up.

“I’m sorry, this was a mistake.” She said, heading to the laundry door. “I shouldn’t have come here.” Xander watched for a moment.

“You seem almost apologetic.” He said suddenly. “Not like you at all, so the question should be, what happened to you?” Faith stopped and turned to him.

“I realized I made some mistakes.” She said. “I realized that someone I spent the entire time I was comatose hating, someone who has an excuse to hate me back, actually cares. And that the one guy I wish didn’t hate me, does.”

“Don’t say that.” Xander said, his cold façade finally breaking. This wans’t how he’d pictured Faith re-entering his life. “It isn’t true. I’ve been beating myself up about my feelings for you since that night. I…” The words caught in his throat for a second, then,  “I love you, Faith.” Faith stared at him. Did he just say…?

“You…” Xander gave a sideways grin.

“It was easier to say that while you were comatose.” He admitted.

“You…” Faith was still stuck on what he had said. Xander stepped up until he could hold her.

“I’ve been wanting to do this a while.” He muttered as he leaned in. I’m going to faint, Faith thought as he kissed her. I’m going to make an absolute fool of myself. Xander pulled back and saw a strange smile on her face. “You alright?”

“Can I get back to you on that one?” She said, dizzily. Xander grinned.

“So, are you coming to the Scooby meeting?” He asked.

“I…don’t know if I should.” Faith said. “I mean there’s a lot of things…”

“Buffy told us to meet her there, right?” Xander asked. Faith nodded. “Then you’re coming with me. And if anyone argues, they can deal with her.”

“Not going to stick up for me yourself?” She teased.

“What, with the power that’s in that group now, I’d prefer to stay alive. Willow’d probably zap you, or me, before I get a syllable out. Oz…well, let’s just say, if it was day, or not a full moon, he’d still go wolf and attack us.”

“I think you’d better explain the power upgrades to me.” Faith said. “But first, let’s get…reacquainted.”

 

Veruca sat outside the dorm as Willow left. Good. No Oz, and no freaky friends either. Once the red head was gone, nothing would stand between her and Oz. She grinned as Willow walked past. “Hello, dinner.”

 

Xander smiled as he looked over at Faith. He was glad she was back, and that she seemed to be over what ever had happened between her and the Scooby Gang. He pulled his ‘glasses’ on, and did a quick scan of Sunnydale. His smile almost instantly disappeared.

“Oh shit.” He muttered.

“Problem?” Faith said, sitting up. Xander nodded.

“Veruca.” He said. “She’s following Willow, and I’m willing to bet that she’s not going to ask her over for dinner, unless Willow’s dinner.” Faith was up and getting ready. “I’ll call some back up. This bitch is going down.”

 

Veruca grinned as the sun began to go down. It was time. “Hello, Willow.” She said, stepping out. Willow spun.

“Veruca.” Willow was slightly panicked. She was too far away from the mansion to run for it, and the sun was about to go down. “Can I help you?”

“You can step aside.” The wolf said. “Let Oz come home, to where he belongs.”

“He doesn’t want to.” Willow said nervously.

“Because you’re holding him back.” Veruca growled. The transformation had begun, and poor Willow was all alone. “He thinks he’s in love with you. I’ll prove his feelings wrong, if I have to kill you to do it.” Fur sprouted over her body, but her transformation would not get a chance to complete itself, as she was thrown backwards by a blast of energy.

“Mangy creature.” The shooter said, stepping out. He was dressed in a suit, with dark hair. “They should all be exterminated.”

“Their not all bad.” Willow told him. “That one’s just…misguided.”

“No.” The man said. “That one’s dead. I hit it with enough power to kill a dinosaur.”

“Wow.” Willow said. “So, what kind of mutant are you, natural or man-made?” The man grinned.

“Man-made.” He said. Suddenly, a cloth was pressed against her face. “Like your friend, who, hopefully, will be joining us shortly.” Willow began feeling tired. Her limbs felt like lead and eventually she drifted off into sweet oblivion.

 

“Uh oh.” Xander muttered as he and Faith ran towards Willow.

“Trouble?”

“Big trouble.” He activated the com link. “Shal, problem. That GSA agent’s back, and he’s got Willow. Tell Buffy what’s happening. Yeah, me and Faith’ll follow them to make sure she’s safe.”

“I gotta get me one of those.” Faith muttered as they raced off.

 

Oz moved quietly through the bushes. If he was going to stop Veruca, it had to be tonight. He just hoped Willow was all right. Of course she is, he chided himself. She’s with Buffy and the others they can handle it. You just do what has to be done…

He stopped when he came across Veruca’s dead body. He moved silently, using his enhanced senses to figure out what had happened. He wasn’t very happy when he had. “Willow.” He whispered, heading off in the direction of her scent. If whoever had her hurt a hair on her head, he was going to rip them to pieces, slowly and painfully.

 

Buffy, Shalimar and Angel moved with all the speed their new mutant abilities allowed them. What’s with this guy, Buffy thought. Was his skull so extraordinarily thick he couldn’t get a hint?

“We’re almost there.” Shalimar said. “Xander and Faith aren’t too far away…” She stopped a moment, listening to what Xander had to say. “Oh boy. Oz’s moving in fast.”

“Assume he knows what’s happened.” Buffy said. “That means we get there before he does. He may have control of the wolf, but not its temper or its instincts. He’ll be going in there to do two thing; rescue Willow and hurt whoever grabbed her.” They came to a halt outside an old warehouse. “Why do they always hide out in warehouses or mansions?” Angel shrugged.

“Cheap and easy to booby trap.” He said.

“Great.” Buffy muttered. She looked around. “Okay, this is eerily familiar. Isn’t this where we fought the Judge?”

“Yes.” Angel said, not liking the memories it stirred. “This is the place.”

“Of all places, why here?” Buffy muttered. Angel moved up behind her.

“What happened last time will never happen again.” He told her. “I’ll be with you forever. Promise.”

“I know.” Buffy said. “Just got a case of the wiggins.”

“Alright.” Angel accepted that. This wasn’t the usual snatch and grab, not for Buffy anyway. She was used to demons and vampires, not living beings. Being here didn’t help either.

“Go time.” Shalimar muttered as they moved in.

“Shal, go around back.” Buffy ordered. “Angel, take the left. Shal, tell Xander and Faith to come in the right. Don’t move until we don’t have a choice. I want to try and get Willow out of there first.” They nodded and moved out. Buffy took a breath. The last time she was here, she’d lost Angel. Was she going to loose Willow this time, or her freedom? No, she refused to let that happen. She set her jaw and walked in. This ended here and now, and it ended her way.

Chapter 17: Final battles Pt. 2

“Well, well. You were fast.” The agent said as she walked in. “I haven’t even sent the ransom note yet. Did you come alone?”

“Do you see anyone else, Beamer?” Buffy asked. “Where’s Willow?” The agent stepped to one side, showing Willow, unconscious and tied to a chair.

“I’d hoped she’d be awake by the time you got here.” He admitted. “Her pitiful pleas might have persuaded you to do the right thing.” Buffy growled. “Ah ah. I don’t think you want to do anything stupid.”

“Always thought Red’d make a decent vampire.” A familiar voice said, walking out of the shadows behind Willow. “Looks like we get a chance to find out.”

“Spike.” Buffy growled. “Figures. You always seemed like more of minion than a Master.”

“Hey!” The vamp shouted. “Just for that, I’m gonna make you watch.”

“Get away from her.” A male voice growled. Shit, Buffy thought.

“That the wolf?” Spike asked, watching as Oz prowled in. “You Scoobies are just full of surprises.”

“Get away from her.” Oz ordered again.

“Or what?” The agent sneered. “You didn’t see what happened to the last mutt I ran in to?” Oz looked at him and grinned. The agent tried to suppress the shiver that ran up his spine. He looks ready to eat me.

“This ends here.” Buffy said. “Let her go and I won’t hurt you.”

“I think you’re in the wrong position to be makin’ demands, luv.” Spike scoffed. He felt something sharp press against his back.

“Is this the right the position?” Shalimar asked coolly from behind him.

“I warned you.” Angel said, coming in from the left. “I told you not to piss her off. Now you’ve got bigger troubles than you could’ve possibly imagined.”

“You think I can’t handle you fools?” The agent asked. He was answered by Faith, who swang down from the ceiling, knocking him out with a well placed kick to the head.

“Is this party by invitation only, or can anyone crash?” She asked jokingly.

“Crash away, Faith.” Buffy said, watching Oz out of the corner of her eye. He walked up to Willow. He called the wolf’s claws, slicing through the ropes.

“Wills?” He whispered. The Wicca’s eyes opened a bit.

“Oz?” She asked groggily. “You came. Knew you would.”

“You alright, love?” The wolf asked.

“Sleepy.” She muttered. “Nightie-night.” She cuddled closer and slipped back into unconsciousness. Oz held her close, before laying her gently on the ground, her head pillowed on his jacket. He stood and walked over to Spike.

“Let him go.” Oz ordered. Shalimar gave him a questioning look. “He threatened my mate. He has to pay.” Shalimar nodded and backed off slowly. Spike smiled, walking forward.

“You really think you can stop me?” Spike said. “In case you forgot, you’re not hairy anymore.” Oz grinned. He hadn’t seen the claws.

“Only when I don’t want to be.” He said, doing a half-change.

“Bloody hell.” Spike breathed. “Can’t you gits do anything normal?” Oz answered with wolf-like howl, crashing head long into the vampire. Spike felt claws rip through his side. He pushed the werewolf off and wiped a finger across the scratch. “Yeah, you’re just full of surprises, wolf boy.” Spike muttered, licking his blood of his finger. “Still, I’d prefer the taste of your girlfriend, I think.” That was it for Oz. He had taken all he could from the blonde vampire.

“First, you threatened my pack.” He growled dangerously. Spike started to have second thoughts about his choice of words and victims. “Then you threatened my mate.” The change began to continue, his clothes tearing as his body expanded. Fur grew all over his body. “Now, you think of my mate, my Willow, as prey. That will not be tolerated.” He let out another low, horrifying howl as the change completed. He charged forward, his claws tearing into Spikes chest. The chest cavity collapsed inwards, allowing Oz access to the heart.

“Bloody…” That was the last word to lave Spike’s mouth as he turned to dust at the hand of the young wolf. Oz looked down at the pile of dust and snorted, sending it towards Shalimar.

“Remind me not to piss you off, Oz.” The feral said. The wolf chuckled, which sounded more like a huffing noise than anything. He then moved over to Willow’s side, nudging her hand with his snout. The red head moaned and opened her eyes slightly.

“Nice wolfy.” She said, petting his snout before slipping, once more, into unconsciousness. Angel moved over to them and picked Willow up gently.

“I’ll take her.” He said. Oz nodded to his pack-brother.

Buffy watched the exchange and Spike’s final death before looking over at Faith. “I see you decided.” Faith shrugged.

“Xander can be real persuasive.” The Slayer said with a suggestive grin.

“I really do not want to know.” Buffy muttered.

 

They stood just outside of town as Mutant X’s jet touched down.

“I guess this is goodbye.” Buffy said to the others. Joyce pushed forward, wrapping her arms around the girl who would always be her daughter.

“Your always welcome back home.” She told her. “And when you find your parents, give them my number. I want to tell them to take care of my girls.” Buffy smiled through her tears.

“I will.” She said as Joyce pulled away. Buffy walked over to the gang. “I’m going to miss you guys. Life’s never going to be the same without you.”

“Same here.” Xander said, his arm around Faith’s shoulder. He handed her a piece of paper. “Some numbers. Former X-Men, a couple of others. Storm’s already filled them in about you, so they’ll be able to help if you get in too much trouble.”

“Thanks Xand.” Buffy said, taking the number. “We may need it if Ekhart gets a bit to concerned about our search.” Willow stepped forward with a package, Oz not far from her side.

“I managed to make this for you.” She said, handing the package to her. Buffy unwrapped it to find a small amulet inside.

“Wills…”

“There’s a contact spell on it, so we can communicate without the use of high tech communicators or telephones.” Willow told her. “Just in case. I’ve got the other one.” She reached under her shirt and pulled it out to show her.

“Wow.” Buffy muttered. “Thanks Wills. I’ll use it.”

“Better.” Oz said. Buffy smiled.

“Take care of her.” She ordered. Oz simply nodded. Giles was next.

“I don’t think any Watcher has ever had a girl like you under their care.” He said. “I see why Merrick thought so much of you.” Buffy looked at him inquisitively. “He wanted you to have this. I’m sorry it’s taken this long to give it to you.” He handed her a small, leather covered book. Buffy opened the cover.

“His…diary?”

“There are a few other things too.” Giles said. “Some accounts he set up for you, a little money from me. Uh, and Wesley, of course. You caused quite a few changes in our lives, ones that you can’t just forget. I know I’ll never be the same.” Buffy smiled up at the man who had been like her father for the past five years.

“Thanks.” She said, wrapping her arms around him. “I’ll miss you too.” Gilles patted her shoulder gently.

“We should get going.” Brannon said. Angel and Shalimar turned and walked up the ramp. As they past him, they each grabbed an arm and dragged him inside.

Giles and Buffy held each other a little longer before separating. “I guess I should be going then.” She said. She looked past her friends to where Riley and a few of the Initiative’s men were standing. “You take care of my friends, Finn.” She ordered. The soldier snapped to attention, saluting sharply.

“Yes, ma’am.” He said officially.

“Since when have I rated a salute?” Buffy asked. Riley walked forward with an envelope.

“This just came from the Pentagon.” He said. “Professor Walsh organized this. She hoped it would protect you from the GSA.” Buffy took the envelope and opened it.

“I’ve been accepted as a civilian consultant to the Initiative with the honorary rank of Sergeant?” She read slowly.  “Wow. Who’s idea was this?”

“The professors.” He said. “The Watcher’s aren’t the only one’s you’ve impacted. Stay in one piece.”

“I’ll try.” She said. She turned and walked up the ramp, as she got to the top, she turned and looked down at her friends, her family. I’ll never forget any of you, she though before turning and entering the jet.

And as the aircraft disappeared into the horizon a faint whistling can be heard. Like an old Chinese flute.

 

Fin.

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