Lines of Convergence

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]>

Author: Tim Joy

Author: Icewing

Author: Greywizard

Author: Tohonomike

Author: Marc D

Author: Bighead

Author: CJ Whittaker

Summary : When things go to hell, hope isn't lost. When a man is down and in trouble, it takes strength to ask for help.

Disclaimer : BTVS characters do not belong to the authors, nor to any crossover characters. Original characters are ours, for what that's worth.

Rating : Mature/Adults Only (M/AO)


Alpha of the Omega

Tara Maclay smiled as she worked her way toward the Summers residence, thinking about her recent reconciliation with her paramour, Willow Rosenberg. Willow had done wrong, Tara knew that, but she couldn't help it. She loved the red haired Witch.

That wasn't to say that she hadn't cast a quick spell on herself to check for tampering. Trust was something spent easily, but earned only with great difficulty. Tara knew that too well. Still, Willow was making a genuine effort to curb her magic abuse, and was also making up to her and their friends. That was enough to earn her a second chance, Tara decided. An honest attempt to make things better had to be respected.

Things were finally looking up in all their lives.

Buffy had pushed Spike away, at least until she could figure out what she wanted for herself. Willow was getting better, and Xander was engaged to Anya. The night before, Buffy had arranged the arrest of the entire Trio that had been plaguing them with annoying attacks all year, and it seemed like the standard end of the year Armageddon that had happened every year since she had come to Sunnydale was finally going to skip a year.

Hopefully more.

Tara was turning the corner when the dark van squealed to a stop beside her, causing her to jump in surprise and shock. The side door opened suddenly, and she looked at it in genuine puzzlement.

Until she recognized the face in the darkness.

"Donny!" She gasped, shocked, then shrieked in fear as her older brother reached out of the van and jerked her inside.

The light dimmed as the door slammed shut, and Tara found herself lying on the floor of the panel van, her father looking back at her from behind the steering wheel. "It didn't have to come to this, Tara. You should have come home on your own."

"N... no!" Tara yelled, struggling as the van pulled away from the curb. "No! Donny, let me go!"

"We're taking you home," her brother sneered at her as he held her in place. "Where you belong."


Tara kept struggling, trying to get up, trying to move, but couldn't. Her brother weighed at least twice what she did, and he was pressing down on her hard. Her arms were pinned by his knees, and she knew she was being bruised by the force.

"Don't struggle, Tare," Donny said, smiling down at her. "We're your family."


The word whispered in her mind.

Tara shook her head wildly, "Let me go!"

"You've forgotten the lessons I taught, you sis." Donny replied, his voice growing colder. "but that's ok... I can teach you again."

His hand slid along her cheek, lifting her chin as she continued to try to pull away. He just smiled as he let his hand drop until he was squeezing her breast through the sweater she wore.

"All of the lessons," He told her.


The word was clear now, like someone was speaking to her, but Tara couldn't listen. She could pay attention. She was frozen in place by the memory of the touch.

Touch? Bad touch.

"Daddy...?" Tara said softly, looking past her brother. "Please..."

Her father didn't look over his shoulder, he just kept driving. "This is for your own good, Tara."

"That's right, Sis. Your own good." Donny smirked, bending down until she could feel his breath on her face.

Your good. Choose your good.

Donny's hand moved, letting one breast go as he groped the other, all the while smiling down at the blond pinned under him. Tara squirmed, but didn't look at her brother. She focused on the roof of the van as his hands roamed her body. There was no point appealing to her father, she knew. If he looked back, Donny would appear to be doing nothing more than restraining a hysterical little girl. He'd done it before.

Daddy doesn't want to know.

Tara shuddered, a shiver of cold running through her, though she didn't know if it was Donny's touch or the soft, whispering voice.

Daddy doesn't care.

"We're going to be a family again, Sis," Donny said aloud, then leaned in. "A close family. Just like before."

Tara clenched her eyes shut, screaming inside but unable to make a sound as she felt his hand reach down and into the hem of her pants.


The voice whispered again, urgently.

Scream. Rage. Let it out!

Tara's eyes snapped open as her brother's hand slid under her underwear, the gentle blue turning ice cold.

That's it! Play with them!

Donny looked up, and down into his sister's eyes, gasping in shock as he watched a pattern of frost expand across her pupils, and then out into the whites. He started to open his mouth to speak, but Tara beat him to it.

She screamed.

The sound filled the van, causing her father to swerve as he lost control for a shocked moment, and then her brother screamed. He screamed as he pulled his hand back from her pants, the biting pain in his fingers spreading down his hand and then up his arm. He screamed as the frost formed along his arm, and he beat at it in an attempt to warm it up or somehow stop it.

When his arm snapped off, he just screamed again.

Tara stared at him without emotion as she sat up, watching the frost pass to his chest and freeze his heart as cold as it had always been to her. In moments the frost froze his throat and lungs, and the scream stopped. She tilted her head to one side, watching as Donny's limbs froze in place, and then he just became a statue. Kneeling in the back of the van, where he had tried to evoke old memories in her.

He succeeded didn't he?

Tara ignored the voice. She looked past her brother, to where her father was turning around and staring in shock.

"You devil..." He whispered, staring behind him as they drove up the road. "What did you do to him!?"

He slammed on the brakes than, and the van squealed to a stop. The statue that had been Donny rocked off it's 'footing' as the van stopped, and slammed into the passenger side seat hard enough to knock it's head off.

As the bowling ball sized skull shattered on the floor of the Van, Tara watched the horror in her father's eyes. She felt it herself, a sliver of it anyway, shock at what she'd done. Shame.

Shame? He deserved it.

Tara shivered, the cold starting to affect her as the old fear came creeping back. She looked into her father's eyes and saw fear. Fear of her. And that same horror as he looked at the headless corpse that was rocking gently on the floor of the van.

Where was that horror when YOU needed it?

The chill passed.

The voice was right.

"Where, Daddy?" Tara whispered.

Mr Maclay looked up, eyes shell shocked and expression confused. "What?"

"Where!?" She yelled. "Where was the horror for what happened to me!?"

Mr Maclay fell back from her anger, seeing the frost glazed eyes that hid his daughter from him. He turned in a panic, throwing open the door of the van and tumbling out into the street. He scrambled to his feet, trying to run, but couldn't resist a glance over his shoulder as a strange sound came to his ears.

The side of the van was frosting quickly, moisture condensing fast, then turning almost instantly to ice. He stared in mute horror as it shattered then, falling to the ground like glass, and his daughter stepped slowly out of the van.

"Where was your horror then, Daddy?"

He backed away, trying to put distance, any distance, between himself and her, but she followed him. Around them people were staring in an amazed wonder, watching the events unfold.

"H... Help me!" He screamed. "Help me! Someone!"

"Where were you when I said that, Daddy?" Tara whispered. "Did you help me?"

"For God's sakes! Someone help me!"

No one moved, though none turned away. It was as if they were unable to believe this was happening, yet were not at all surprised by it. Jed Maclay kept scrambling backwards.

Give daddy a kiss.

Tara nodded. The voice was right. It was time to kiss and make up. Forgive and forget.

"Come here, daddy." She said, reaching for him.

Jed Maclay tried but couldn't get out of her reach then, and she caught him in a grip that should have been impossible for his little girl. But she wasn't. Her eyes were still iced over with a haze of crystal froze, like there was no heat inside to thaw them, and he could only stare in horror as she leaned in.

"A kiss from your daughter." She told him, catching his face in her hands as she leaned down to kiss him on the lips.

Jed sucked in a cold breath of shock as he felt her tongue push into his mouth, his eyes widening in shock as he looked at her and she pulled away.

"Just like Donny used to kiss me," She told him.

He opened his mouth, tried to speak, but nothing came out. His chest was freezing, biting cold, and he could feel it spreading. Frost began to form along his lips, and then his own eyes covered and Jed Maclay was blinded. He could still feel the cold surge through him, however, until in a final flash of pain it all went away.

Tara felt the energy drain from her, her eyes melting back to the warmth she normally held, her limbs gaining feeling again, but she couldn't feel any of it.

Not really.

Because she was staring at the frozen corpse that had been her father, and she was the one who'd killed him.

"no... oh no..." She shook her head, sanity rushing back and brining pain and guilt with it. She fell back onto the ground and scrambled away from her father as he had done from her. "No... no..."

Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared, and in the distance she could hear the voice giggling.

Bored now.

Tara screamed, eyes locked on her father, and then something snapped deep down inside her, drawing all color out of the world as she sat there on the ground and kept staring at her dead father.

"Stop the car!"

Dawn's scream startled Xander but he obeyed without much thought, hitting the brakes hard and skidding the SUV to a halt.

"What is it??" He asked wildly, looking around.

"Look!" She pointed down the street they had just passed, and Xander's eyes followed her hand.

He frowned in confusion almost instantly, seeing the van hauled over on the side of the road, and two figures in the street, surrounded by spectators.

"Is that Tara?"

"I think so.. come on!" Dawn threw open the door, rushing out.

"Dawn! Dawn! Wait a minute!," Xander called, slamming his hand down on the steering wheel. "Damn!"

He hit reverse, stepping on the gas, and spun the tires as the SUV squealed back, the door Dawn had opened jerking wide with the momentum. He spun the wheel, bringing the SUV around, then slammed it into first and hit the gas. The open door slammed shut then, and he roared down the down the street.

The SUV easily overtook Dawn, passing her before she got halfway there, but Xander let the girl run. It would serve her right for not responding, besides, he was close enough not to tell that it was indeed Tara sitting in the street. He hit the horn, startling some of the spectators out of the road, and barreled on into the scene.

Xander skidded the SUV to a stop and jumped out with the motor running, rushing first to where Tara was still sitting on the pavement.

"Tara! Tara! Are you al..."

Xander choked in mid word, falling back on his ass in shock as her expressionless face turned to look at him and he saw the glaze of ice crystals across her eyes.

"Holy... Tara... Are you ok?" He asked in a shocked whisper. "Tara...?"

She looked away from him, her eyes focusing again on the other figure in the street, and Xander tore his gaze from her to look the same way.

Whoever it was, the person was a Popsicle, or at least that was his first, irreverent thought. Xander rolled off his ass, coming to his knees as he got a better look.

Who? Who was it?

"Xander!" Dawn yelled, running up. "What's going... oh my..."

Dawn came to a stop, staring between Tara and the frozen figure in the street. "Wh... what happened?"

Xander shook his head slowly, "I don't know... but I think I know this guy."

"Y... you do?"

"Yeah..." Xander whispered softly, "Dawn... go get in the car."

"What? But Tara needs..."

"Get in the CAR!" Xander roared, turning on her quickly, startling the young girl into jumping back.

"Uh... yeah... Car. Right." Dawn swallowed, backing away toward the SUV.

Xander let her go, turning his attention back to Tara.

"Tara... it's me, Xander... are you alright?"

She didn't even look toward the sound of his voice, instead she just nodded slowly. Xander breathed a breath of relief, thanking god that she wasn't completely catatonic. "Tara... can you tell me what happened here?"

She nodded again, still slowly.

Xander took a breath. "Tara... what happened?"

Tara didn't respond for a moment, and then she simple rose to her feet in a fluid motion that defied physics. Xander fell back from her in surprise, then quickly scrambled to his own feet. "Tara? Tara!"

The blond wasn't listening, or if she was she didn't give any indication that she heard, instead she turned and began to walk away.

Xander lunged forward, grabbing her shoulder, "Tara! Listen to me, I'm try...AHH!"

He fell back, clutching his hand in pain, staring at the swiftly melting ice crystals that had formed along his fingers. He watched her walk away for a moment, then turned and ran for the SUV.

"What are you doing!?" Dawn screeched as he jumped in, "We can't let her walk away like that! She needs us!"

"Shhh!" Xander snapped, grabbing the car phone.

"Shh!? Don't tell me Shh! Tara needs us!"

"Dawn, shut up!" Xander growled, hitting autodial.

Tara stared at the immobile form of her father for a long while, not paying any attention to the people milling around as they whispered shocked words. Vaguely she could hear someone screaming her name, but paid little attention other than to look away from her father for a moment.

Whoever it was wasn't important.

The voice, though, she knew it now.


She loved Willow.

I love you to, sweetie.

Tara felt nothing at the words, but she thought that she should. She must not be well.

You're broken, sweetie... but I can fix you.

Tara shivered, feeling nothing but the cold. She didn't want to feel the cold, but it was better than the pain and guilt. It was so easy to not care anymore. About anything.

You love me, don't you, sweetie?

Unblinking, Tara nodded slowly. She loved Willow.

I can fix you, sweetie. You do want to be fixed, right?

The voice was purring in her ear, warming her ever so slightly.

Tara nodded. She wanted to not be broken anymore.

Come to me sweetie. I'll show you the way.

Tara hesitated a moment, than rose to her feet and began to walk.

She didn't even feel the pressure on her shoulder until it was already gone, but the voice in her mind giggled.

Naughty boy. We'll play with him later, you and I. Won't we, sweetie?

"Magic Box, what may I sell you?"


"Oh, hello Xander," Anya sounded disappointed. "You're not going to buy anything, are you?"

"Anya, is Buffy or Willow there??"

"Not that it matters, because your money is my money so if you bought anything you would be wasting my money..." Anya paused, "You're not wasting my money are you!?"

"Anya! Listen, I need to speak with Willow or Buffy. Are they there?"

"Oh," Anya pouted, looking across the store. "Yeah, they're here."

"Put them on!"

"Which one?"

"Either! Both!... Willow!"

"Well that's confusing." Anya replied.

"Anya!" Xander snapped.

"You're already talking to me," Anya informed him.

There was a silence from the other side of the line, "Anya. Something's happened to Tara. Let me talk to Wil... No, Buffy. Put Buffy on."

Anya paled, "Tara... Right... Buffy!"

The blond looked up from the large table on the other side of the shop, "What is it, Anya?"

"Xander needs to talk to you!"

The Slayer nodded and got up quickly to cross the room. In a few moments she took the phone from Anya and spoke cheerily into it, "Hey, Xan... How's it going?"

"Bad." Xander's voice replied over the line, "Something happened to Tara."

"Tara??" Buffy's voice went up, attracting the attention of the entire shop, including Willow. "What happened to Tara?"

Willow snapped around, eyes wide. "Tara? Something happened to Tara?"

Buffy lifted a hand to signal her to wait while she listened to the phone. "Talk to me Xander, what's going on?"

Over the line, Xander's voice sounded desperate, worried. "I don't know. There... It looked like maybe a car accident, I don't know. But Tara was there on the street, she didn't look hurt, but she wasn't paying any attention to me..."

"She's not hurt?" Buffy shook her head, eyes locked with Willow. "What happened?"

"I told you, I don't know!" Xander snapped angrily, "But Tara's eyes... they're like ice. I tried to touch her shoulder and I almost got frostbite, Buffy! And... there was a guy frozen solid out there in the road... I... I think it was Tara's father."

Buffy's face drew pale and drawn, and her fingers gripped the phone with a white knuckle force. "Where are you now?"

"I'm following Tara... She's just... walking out of town." Xander told her, "You better get Willow up here on Henderson Road... fast."

Buffy nodded, "Right. Ok, you stay on her. We're coming."

Willow rushed forward as the phone slammed down, "What's wrong!? What happened to Tara!?"

"Xander doesn't know, but it sounds like... I... I don't know what it sounds like," Buffy admitted, "She's not hurt he says, but she's just walking up Henderson Road and he got hurt when he tried to stop her."

"Hurt?" Anya blinked. "Xander's hurt?"

"Tara hurt Xander?" Willow's eyes widened, and she shook her head. "That's... that's... impossible."

"What's up Henderson Road?" Buffy asked, trying to figure out how they were all going to get there without a vehicle.

Willow barely heard her, but she managed to mumble as response anyway.

"Kingmans Bluff."

Come here sweetie, right this way.

The cool sea air blowing in off the pacific rustled her hair as Tara climbed the hill, unaware that behind her there were two people following close. Xander and Dawn were only a few feet away, though Dawn's presence was due primarily to her Summers bred stubborn streak and Xander's unfortunate familiarity with same.

They were watching the blond as she made her way up the bluff to where it overlooked the ocean, neither of them having the slightest clue as to what she was doing, or why.

"Tara!" Dawn tried again, "Tara, please... listen to us! We're just trying to help you... Are you even there? Tara..."

Xander just did his best to hide the expression of pain that he knew was painted on his face as he watched Dawn try again, desperate to reach one of the women who was her role model in life. Buffy, Willow, Tara... they were everything Dawn because of how close the three had become.

Tara was his family as well, but he couldn't find a way through to her.

He checked his watch reflexively, looking over his shoulder.

Where were the others anyway?

Tara came to a stop at the top of the bluff, overlooking the water, and they stopped behind her. Xander stepped a little closer, hesitantly, "Tara? Are you ok?"

"Yes..." She whispered, eyes front.

Xander didn't know how to take that. It sounded like a response to his question, but it was obviously a lie and he didn't think Tara really knew how to lie. He stepped closer, "Whatever it is... We're here for you."

"I know," She replied softly, almost inaudibly.

Xander sighed, stepping closer and slowly wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Whatever it is, we're your fam.... AHHHHHH!!!!"

His scream caused Dawn to bolt forward, actually tackling him from behind and driving him away from Tara. They tumbled to the ground where Xander lay shaking and shivering as Dawn got up and turned on Tara.

"How could you do that!?" The little girl demanded. "You hurt Xander!"

Tara didn't say anything, she just lifted her hand and pointed at Dawn.

Tara stopped at the top of the hill, looking forward for her Willow. She was here somewhere. She'd said so.

I'm here. Do you love me, Sweetie?

"Yes..." Tara whispered.

I love you too.

"I know..."

Tara felt a flash of warmth, all too fleeting, as if someone had given her a hug. Then it was gone and in front of her there was the most beautiful light.

Its the key, lover. Turn the key and we will be together.

Tara lifted her hand.

Turn the key. Let me come to you, sweetie. I want to come to you.

Dawn's screaming jarred Xander up, making him forget the pain in his arm. He looked between the two girls and the magical lightshow that connected them and did what he did best. That is, he didn't stop to think, he simply dove into the midst of the threat to Dawn and let the chips fall where they may.

The energy tore into his back as he tackled Dawn to the ground, igniting his jacket in a burst of flame and scorching his back with searing heat. He ignored it as best he could, rolling with the dip of the hill to put some distance between Dawn and Tara as best he could.

He could hear Dawn whimpering in his ear as they rolled, and could only worry at what was happening.

More yelling and screaming erupted behind him, but he couldn't pay attention to that either.

"Tara! Sweetie!" Willow screamed, "What are you doing!? Please stop!"

Tara didn't turn toward her, the blond just turned to follow Dawn and Xander, lifting her hand again.

"Tara! Don't do it!" Buffy yelled, charging forward. "Don't do it!"

Again, the blond didn't seem to hear. Another blast of energy tore out, seeking out the escaping girl, lighting the grass on fire as it tracked toward Dawn and Xander. Buffy didn't pause, didn't hesitate, she just slammed bodily into the blond witch.

Tara took the blow without moving an inch, she just stood there as Buffy plowed right into her. Buffy held on, planting her feet, and tried to leverage the witch to the ground. In seconds her arms and chest were chilled, and then freezing, but she didn't let go.

Buffy gritted her teeth, pulled slightly back, and threw as hard a punch as she could muster into Tara's face.

Willow screamed in shock, running up the hill to catch up with the quicker Slayer, "NO!"

Tara didn't flinch, didn't even move as the blow struck her, but a pulse of light and energy lifted Buffy from the ground and threw her over fifty feet through the air to where she tumbled along the hilltop.

"Tara!" Willow reached her lover, "What are you doing??"

Tara didn't respond, she just opened up the energy conduit again and sent it after Dawn.

"Please Tara!" Tears streaked down Willow's face, "Please, talk to me! Don't make me stop you! Please!!"

A scream from below told her that Tara's energy had found it's target and Willow lifted her hands, eyes growing darker even as her cheeks were divided by two clear streams. "Don't make me... please..."

The plea trailed off into a whisper as Tara did nothing, said nothing, just continued to mount her spell. Dawn's screams faded away for Willow as she hesitated, but finally she could do nothing else.

Her eyes blackened, glistening and gleaming with tears, and she snapped her hands out.

Tara jerked back, struck by the force of Willow's blow, but maintained her spell. Willow struck again. The blond shook, then regrouped, and redoubled her spell. The screams from below were deafening then, and Willow's fear and anguish combined as one as she struck out.

The spell hit Tara full on, blasting the blond witch hard enough to lift her off the ground and send her flying back a dozen feet to where she landed and didn't move. Willow gasped, falling to her knees as she stared at Tara's still form, and her eyes slowly returned to normal.

"God.... Tara... Why!?" She asked in an anguished whisper.

"Because I asked her to."

The voice was familiar, like hearing yourself talk on a tape recorder, and Willow had heard it before. Once. She turned slowly, eyes wide and wet, and found not quite what she expected, but even more than she feared.

It was her.

Not the vampire her, but her just the same. And Willow didn't think this version was any 'nicer'.

She, the other 'she', was dressed all in black with hair to match. Her eyes were on fire, dancing flames against oil black, and her face was lined with dark veins of energy that pulsed to Willow's magick trained eyes in time with the other her's heartbeat.

"W... who are you?" Willow asked, whispering in frightened shock.

The other Willow, the Dark Willow, was floating just above the ground with her bare feet pointed downward so her toes were almost skimming the grass. She smiled, though the expression looked cruel and careless at the same time.

"I'm you." The Dark Willow said with that careless, cruel smile. "I'm here to save my Tara."

Willow glared, "She's MY Tara!"

"Don't pout, sweetie," the Dark Willow smiled, "I'll share."

Willow stiffened, rising to her feet in a fluid motion, "You did this."

"Of course I did."

"You did that to Tara!!"

"No." The Dark Willow smiled, "Her family did that. The family that you all ignored once they were gone, and never bothered to ask about. Better forgotten, remember thinking that? What you don't know can't hurt you..."

Willow flushed, but her eyes blazed, growing dark.

"Well it certainly hurt Tara." The Dark Willow sneered before turning casually away from Willow.

"What are you doing!?" Willow demanded, eyes fluctuating in color as her emotions raged.

"Finishing the Job my sweetie started," The Dark Willow replied offhandedly as she lifted a hand toward where Xander and Dawn were lying crumpled on the ground. "Tara opened a conduit to me... now it's time to invite everyone else."

"What!? Who else!?"


Willow screamed in rage as the Dark version of herself opened up another energy conduit, and the force burned into Dawn and Xander yet again.

"NO!" She screamed, eyes going inky black again, "I will NOT let you!"

The energy blast caught the Dark Willow by surprise, as though in her arrogance she hadn't expected to be challenged by herself. The energy disrupted her spell, throwing her headlong into the rise of the hill.

"Willow... what's going..." Buffy asked groggily as she staggered back, then stopped and stared between the two versions of her best friend. "Oh god. I must have hit my head harder than I thought..."

The Dark Willow sneered, snapping her hand out as she rose from the ground, and Buffy just barely managed to jump aside as a black bolt of energy ripped into the ground where she had been standing.

"If you think that any of you can defeat me when I was willing to tear my own Xander limb from limb for trying," The Dark Willow sneered, "You are all insane."

"We're insane...?" Willow said in shock, "H... have you looked in a mirror lately??"

The Dark Willow screamed, snapping her hand out, and the magic cracked from her hands as she made her attack.

Willow snapped up her own hands, chanting the spell under her breath, and a mystical barrier snapped into place between them, easily parrying the attack.

"Your magick will not save you from mine," The Dark version of herself promised, looking around. "Wait... where... HOW!?"

Her eyes searched the field, widening in shock as she realized that she no longer saw Dawn or Xander on the hill. She screamed in rage and lashed out, shattering Willow's defense in an instant, throwing the red haired witch to the ground as she stalked past. She ignored Buffy and Willow, pausing only by Tara.

"Come, love... It's time we go. There are other ways to do what we must."

Willow watched in agonized pain and emotion from where she had fallen as Tara rose to her feet, eyes frosted over with the force of her magic, and the two rose into the air together and sped off.

Xander groaned with the exertion, his every muscle screaming in agony as he pushed along the ground with both legs, dragging Dawn with him. He'd managed to pull them both out of sight while the two Willows were battling.

Two Willows.

For some reason that thought terrified him.

There was only one Willow.

His Willow.

For another to exist just wasn't... right somehow.

He had known that they did, he supposed, on some level. The Vampire Willow from years earlier had been proof of that, but this one seemed even worse. Were all other dimensions, Hell Dimensions? Or just Hellish?

Another thrill of pain screamed through his body as he pushed himself another few inches and looked up to see his SUV just ahead. A noise behind him drove a thrill of fear through him, and Xander began moving faster, even though it cost him dearly.


Buffy's voice caused him to relax almost instantly, turning over to see her and Willow, his Willow, rushing up.

"Ohmygod! Xander! Did she... Did I, I mean the other I... Did she hurt you??"

"I'll live." Xander said weakly, smiling at Willow's babbling shock.

"Willow, get Dawn," Buffy ordered grimly as she picked Xander up like he was a rag doll, "We need to get home and try to figure out what happened here."

"R... right." Willow said, heaving Dawn up into her arms as they both headed for the SUV.

Xander groaned at the jostling, but managed to fish his keys from his pocket. "I can't drive..."

Buffy looked at him with a humorous gleam in his eyes, "So this is what it takes to get you to let me drive your new car?"

Xander smiled weakly, "Not even close. Wills? You drive."

The shell shocked look on Willow's face lifted slightly as she smiled weakly and even laughed a little, while the humorous gleam in Buffy's eyes was replaced by a shell shocked, wide eyed, look.

All in all, a successful moment, in Xander's opinion.

The body of the demon Rack hit the ground with a thud and Willow sighed.

"Bored now," She said in a sorrowful voice, running her index finger along her lips. "Barely worth playing with."

She shook her head, turning to Tara who was watching impassively. "We'll need more, Love. I wonder, are those cute little Wiccans from college still getting together for their bake sales?"

Tara nodded, "Yes... But they've also began helping Witches who lose themselves in their magic. I helped them get organized."

"Of course you did, dear." Willow smiled, sidling up to the blond and cupping her cheek with one hand as she moved around behind her and wrapped her other hand around the blond's flat abdomen. "Let's pay them a visit, shall we?"

Tara turned her head under the pressure from Willow's hand, her lips opening as the black haired Witch leaned in and kissed her. Tara moaned deep in her throat as she felt the warmth flow through her as their tongues intertwined. Willow slid her hand up the blond's belly to her sternum, crumpling up the peach colored sweater under her firm pressure, until coming to a stop under Tara's right breast.

Tara moaned again, the Dark Witch's hand kneading her breast, and groaned in protest as Willow broke the kiss and the momentary warmth vanished. Willow smiled, leaned her head back, and blew out a cold fog of condensing air from her lungs.

"Mmmm... Sweet and fresh." She said, breaking contact with Tara, "Come Sweetie... it's time to visit your friends."

"What was THAT!?"

"I don't know!" Willow said, shaking her head as they piled into Buffy's home, laying Xander and Dawn down on the couch.

Xander was still awake, but Dawn hadn't yet came too from the blasts she had taken, and whatever magic Tara and the other Willow had done were bad enough that she wasn't sure either would recover. There was just no telling either way.

"Her eyes."

"What?" Buffy's head snapped over to Xander as he spoke.

"Her eyes," Xander said again, tiredly, not looking at them. "They were... covered in ice."

"It's magic." Buffy said then, shaking her head. "It's Magic. Your eyes go black when you use magic heavily, Willow... Her eyes are covered in ice. What does it mean!?"

"I DON'T KNOW!!" Willow screamed, shaking all over. "I don't know! I don't know why my eyes turn black!"

"You have to KNOW! You're the magic girl here!!"

"Well I don't!!"

"Stop... it." Xander's voice was almost lost in the conflagration.

Neither of them heard him, and they continued to argue back and forth, both defensive, both attacking. Xander tried to move, but he was wracked by pain and sank back. It was another voice, louder than he had managed, that finally cut through the noise.

"Both of you... shut UP!"

Buffy and Willow stopped in shock, turning to the source of the noise and saw Dawn painfully lifting herself up off the couch.

"Just... shut up." She whispered, falling back down.

Xander caught her, moving her over closer to him, and held her as she closed her eyes again.

"She's right." He said, looking up, "We can't... fight now. Call Anya, have her bring some books... Willow, you pick her up. Then, Buffy, you call Giles. Ok?"

The two girls looked at each other and nodded.

"Yeah. ok."

Amy Madison spit out blood as she fell to the floor, and looked around as the other members of the Sunnydale Coven laid out around her. They weren't even witches, most of them, and those that were had none of the power they'd needed to deal with this. She looked up to see the dark figure approach and she smiled through blood stained teeth.

"Always knew you'd lose it." She said from the ground as the Dark reflection of the Willow she knew stopped beside her. "Everything came so easy for you... I knew you'd never be able to handle it."

Willow looked down at her, expression amused yet weary. "Hello Amy. It's been a long time since I killed you."

Amy looked confused, shaking her head. "What?"

Willow extended her hand, palm down, then flipped it over quickly. Amy jerked up, her body moving of it's own accord in time to the motion's of the witch's hand. Willow lifted her hand up, and Amy followed it, dangling helplessly in mid air before the Dark Witch.

"Bitch." Amy muttered.

Willow sighed, "Bored Now, so... common."

She reached forward, grasping Amy's head in both hands, "Let me show you something I learned from a Goddess..."

Then her fingers pressed in, flashing with light as they penetrated into the blond's skull, and Amy's eyes rolled back in her head as Willow leaned in. "I killed her too."

Then Willow drew back her fingers, and the blond fell to the ground in a crumpled heap.

Willow turned around, taking Tara's hand as she did. "Come, Love... There wasn't enough power here for what I need. I should have taken the power from my weaker self when I had the chance..."

The two women lifted into the air, and the wafting winds carried her next words as they vanished.

"Arrogant little thing she was... Daring to attack her better self."

"Xander!" Anya cried out as she rushed in, throwing an armload of books to the floor as she rushed to the couch.

Behind her, Willow was following, and her eyes lit up with outrage. "Books! Don't throw the books!"

Anya ignored her, leaving Willow trying to pick up the books while not lose any of the ones she was holding in her arms.

"What happened, Xander? Are you ok?" Anya snapped, eyes wide, then she remembered that she was still angry with him. "Not that I care or anything."

"I think it's safe to say that I'm a long way from ok, Anya." Xander groaned out, "But thanks for asking."

Buffy was across the room, on international long distance to England.

"No, Giles, I'm telling you this isn't the same thing. This Willow is Evil!"

She paused.

"Well of course the vampire version was evil too, but that's not what I meant!"

Another pause.

"Giles!" She whined, "You're not listening to me! This is serious and... and..."

Her voice trailed off as she looked out the window, "Giles... the sky here is turning red... Since it's only two o'clock, I think that's a bad sign. I've got to go."

Tara screamed.

The pain was hideous, and it felt like a cold fire running through the every nerve, but she couldn't move. Behind her, Willow looked sad, but didn't stop as she continued to draw energy from Tara and directed it to the Bluff.

The ground was rumbling, but her voice seemed apart from all that.

"Not long now, sweetie... just a little more."

Tara just screamed, unable to see through the pain, as the long buried temple under Kingmans Bluff pushed up through the ground and the sky darkened, turning blood red. Willow smiled at the sight, ignoring the screams of her once and future lover.

"Playtime is coming..."

Buffy led Anya and Willow outside as the three of them stared up into the sky, seeing but not believing.

"Wh... what is it?"

"I don't know..." Anya said, shocked. "I've never seen anything like it."

Buffy swallowed, shaking her head. "It's got to be you, Will... I mean, the other you."

Willow was pale and drawn, shaking her head. "But... what? Why?"

Anya shrieked, "That might have something to do with it!"

They looked, following her gesture, and the Slayer and the Witch both stared in shock as a creature appeared from thin air about a hundred feet above them and shrieked as it stretched it's wings. It flapped a few times, then circled around, and dove for them. Behind it, another similar creature appeared, then more and more.

"RUN!" Anya screamed, pushing the others into the house as balls of flames roared into the ground and ignited the yard on fire.

Inside they threw the door shut, but Anya didn't stop there she rushed over to Xander. "Xander, get up! Get up! We have to go!"

"Go where!?" Buffy yelled, "That thing is huge!"

"It'll destroy this house! Don't you see!?" Anya yelled, pulling at Xander who was trying to climb to his feet while holding Dawn. "We have to run!"

"But... but where,?" Willow asked, pale, "It's... flying."

Anya looked lost for a moment, then her eyes widened. "Underground! The sewers!"

They exchanged looks, and nodded quickly, everyone flinching as the sound of an explosion tore through the air.


Everyone started moving, grabbing what they could as screeching could be heard knifing through the air like a physical thing. A second later a flash of fire roared through the house and a cloud of smoke and dust poured down the stairs like a living thing.

"Move! Move!"

Buffy and Anya got on either side of Xander as they rushed the door, Willow's eyes already beginning to turn black as she prepared her best spells, and they rushed out into the streets of Sunnydale, and into Armageddon.

Chapter One
The Plea

The Magic Box

"We can't stop this, can we?"

It was a simple question that Dawn put forth. From the way that everyone was nursing their own bruises, the answer seemed drastically apparent.

They were screwed.

It had been a week since the initial attack had been played, personally, against the Scoobs. They had found themselves fleeing from place to place; trying desperately to keep safe, and keep Dawn out of the hands of their enemies. Even the safe return of Giles was only able to raise their spirits for a very brief moment of time.

While under normal circumstances there would be piles of books across the table in the upper corner of the Magic Box, today the table was desolate. Only an empty surface, surrounded by a wounded group with wounded spirits gave presence to the table.

Every other part of the store, much like the entire town, was in ruins. Dark Willow had enjoyed playing with them, with 'her toys,' immensely. Everywhere they looked they could be reminded of the remains of the high school after graduation day. But now it was worse.

Where before the only debris had consisted of brick and mortar, the streets were now littered with bodies here and there as well. The situation could have been worse, but not by far. Demons walked the streets now, unimpeded by any signs of resistance, but that would have to change.

Though, as intense as the devastation was out there, in here, within these walls, the Scoobies felt the loss of a loved on more deeply. Perhaps it was worse than that. They had been fortunate, perhaps more so than they deserved. While none of them had escaped without at least a minor wound, they hadn't lost any of their numbers. Well, no one save one.

It was even worse than loosing a loved one, for this person wasn't truly dead, though, it was impossible to see Tara as she once was. The Dark Willow had twisted the very light that had radiated within the blonde Wicca's soul. And, when the attack came, it came without notice.

If having one of their very own turn to the side of darkness wasn't enough, though they truly believed it was due to brainwashing, or some similar type of manipulation; her being joined by a Dark Willow, that was far more powerful than any other foe they had ever encountered, was enough to make them want to weep and give up hope. But they were the Scoobies, and such an occurrence would never truly happen.

They had been so fortunate that Willow, their Willow, had been able to remain aware of her surroundings as she was betrayed by the one who owned her heart and soul. How she had accomplished that; none would be able to answer. But it was she that saved their lives.

As powerful as Tara had apparently become, it was a crazed mind that controlled the magic. And while proving quite difficult, Willow had barely been able to hold off Tara's attacks.

It had taken considerable willpower, on Willow's part, to actually subdue the crazed Tara; but that was when Dark Willow had made her entrance, and the troubles really began.

The immense power that the dark witch was able to wield was as incredible as it was horrifying. It was believed, and probably rightly so, that it was the unimportance that she held for The Scoobs that had allowed them to escape. But they didn't truly escape the danger; it was actually far from it.

It had been believed, at the time, that another attack would come from the dark witches. The apparent need for Dawn, The Key, seemed evident from the events that took place on The Bluff. Had they ever been more mistaken?

They hadn't even had time to recover before the sky had turned blood red, and a whole new menace emerged. Now, Buffy's house, like the rest of town, not to mention most of California, was in shambles.

With two injured people, Dawn and Xander, the gang had been lucky to escape with their lives. With each passing moment, the demons destroyed anything and everything they could find. Scorched earth, which was once Buffy's front lawn; now lay ruin and desolate. And with each passing moment, another house, another person would be blown away in an explosion of magical fire. There were no survivors left in their wake, not in those initial assaults. There was nothing but destruction left in the wake of those demons.

As devastating as those demons were, it was still that Dark Willow that had to be considered a top priority. No one had the power to defeat her. Even if their Willow hadn't told them that, they would have known. Even someone without knowledge of the mystical could feel the physical waves of dark power emanating from that dark and deadly source.

As the Demons began to ravage the streets, it was decided that a tactical retreat would be best. It was only to their luck and good fortune, that Dark Willow seemed to be more interested in tending to Tara, and opening up this reality to those of hell dimensions. For however long that short sliver of time would last, they would make good with their retreat. But, in their minds, they knew without a doubt, there would be a cost to pay the moment Tara was once again whole.

Dawn's question remained unanswered for long moments until Xander's voice broke the spell of silence.

"You know, it's a damn shame." Everyone looked at Xander as he was shaking his head. He looked up somewhat sheepishly as he realized he had actually spoken aloud.

"Ah, quite. What, may I ask, is such a shame?" Giles had already pulled off his glasses and had started polishing.

As all eyes once again turned back to him, he simply shrugged. "I was just thinking it's a shame we can't take a page out of the bad guy's play book." He still only received blank stares tinged with pains from their wounds. "Oh, you know; make an inter-dimensional phone call or something."

Buffy sent a smile that was mixed with a smirk in his direction. "Sorry, Xan. I only got Verizon on my phone. I don't even want to think what the minutes would be like."

The two of them chuckled, not seeing the wide eyes of both Giles and Willow, and the serious and thoughtful look on Anya. Dawn simply observed everyone, not knowing what to make of the situation.

"Dear God."

Dawn shook her head, 'Yep, there it was.'

Xander and Buffy both turned their attention towards Giles, who had his sole attention focused on Willow. It was somewhat interesting that the two of them appeared to be having a non verbal communication. But, in the end, Willow simply stood up and started gathering components for a spell.

Xander looked back at Buffy. "Ah, what did I miss?"

Buffy just shrugged as Willow's voice floated back to them.

"We're going to make a call."

"Oh." Came from both Buffy and Xander simultaneously.

Xander looked at Buffy once again. "It's night time, so we should be good on your minutes." Buffy just shook her head as everyone watched Willow, soon followed by Giles, searching the wreckage of the store, and gather components for this spell they were going to do.

Once the floor had been cleared of debris, the pattern of a large circle was made using different salts, crushed herbs, and even some sand.

Certain runes, painted in blood red, had been placed on Willow's cheeks and forehead. A similar blood red rune had been painted on Dawn's forehead, while the other members of The Scooby Gang, less Anya, had blue runes painted on their foreheads.

"Ok guys," Willows voice was firm as she placed all the troubles she felt behind her, and simply focused on the upcoming spell. "The runes that I now possess should enable me to access the latent energy within Dawn, and will allow my mind to break though the barriers that separate the different realities." She could see a few people shuffle upon hearing just what they were doing, though she moved on nonetheless. "This spell would take too much time, energy, and would be too noticeable if I went in blindly." She glanced over towards Xander who sat on the floor, cross legged, like everyone else. "The runes on your head will enable me to make contact with those in other realities. If anyone answers me; I'll be able to open a portal to our reality using Dawn's energy once again." She glanced over at Dawn and gave a small smile. "Don't worry Dawnie; I know that you're still hurting from what happened on The Bluff. But don't worry, you won't feel a thing."

Upon everyone's nod, she began her chanting. Soon enough the build up in power could be physically felt as the waves crashed over them.

Tendrils of energy, laced with conscious thought began to weave its way through the boundaries that separated the dimensions. Its task was a simple one, yet almost impossible to achieve. Within a system as infinite as the multi-verse, it had to restrict its actions, lest it cause more harm than good. That, however, wasn't the foremost problem that it, she, had to face.

Willow could feel another consciousness enter the magical field of the spell, none other than her evil counterpart. No words were spoken, yet a conversation took place. The dark laughter of the Evil Willow almost shook her concentration. The tendrils of energy began to retract, faintly touching only a handful of dimensions, and each second moving closer and closer to its original source.

One by one, Evil Willow began to sever the connections she could feel reaching out into the realms of the multi-verse. She had already blocked off the connection that Willow would have to other versions of herself. In her eyes, there was no greater threat than another Willow. After that was complete, the connection to Buffy was severed. A backlash of pure power struck out at Buffy causing her to fly across the room and into some of the debris.

Soon enough Giles followed suit and the bonds that connected Willow to Dawn began to weaken. That eerie laughter never fading in the background.

Where before the magic was seeking beings of both light and power, the focus of such a task seemed almost impossible. If Willow could not find a suitable link, all would be for not. And, in those final moments, a link, the final link she had available to her, was established, and the tendrils gained in intensity.

The search for power was not hard to find. The closeness with which she felt tied to this individual made locating them child's play. However, where once the plea, and transportation, to the reality of origin could have been made to numerous realities; the power that was now behind the spell was enough to reach only a small handful of dimensions. And before, where a plea would be given, there was only enough power to either send the plea alone, or simply bring them across. She had no real control as to who would receive a plea and who would not. She had no real control over who would be brought here and who would not.

One tendril shot out, gently brushing the consciousness of another, before flowing back into the ether. Another aspect of the spell found its contact in a reality not that far from its own. The contact it was seeking was nowhere near stationary, though it may have well been. As though of a conscious mind, the spell activated a portal for the contact to go through, though no plea had been given, the result would be the same.

Two tendrils went out into separate realities. Only a brief moment's worth of contact had been made before the spell engulfed both individuals and brought them forth. For them, no plea had been given. Where the energy would have taken them to Sunnydale, close to the position of the caster, in this instance, another form of energy interfered, sending them into this proper reality, but to an unknown location.

More tendrils went out, some able to heed the plea that had been designed in the spell, some forgoing it in order to bring forth those needed. No spell was ever fool proof under the best of circumstances, and this one was no exception. The spell itself could almost be considered an entity all within its own. There was a place where it needed to be, but no plea would be able to break the barriers of this reality. Another route needed to be taken.

As a final act of desperation, the spell lashed out within its own reality. Even Dark Willow could feel the power of this spell as it rocketed past her current location. A portal would be open, and if the spell could not reach its destination directly, than the plea for help would be carried out indirectly. As that final act of desperation came to a close, that particular plea had gone out.

Now, it was a game of waiting. Would those called find their way home? And would that final plea make it to where it was so desperately needed.

Only time would tell. It was such a shame that something they needed so dearly, was currently in short supply.

Chapter Two
Blurring the lines

Dimension Methus Fiver One Nine

Xander couldn't help but to reflect on his life at times like these. He had always considered himself the normal one of the group. Even after being possessed by a hyena, a soldier, and living through nightmares that no person should have to live through, he still believed himself to be 'the normal one. '

He, however, had been anything but normal. Even if what would make him abnormal lay dormant within him throughout most of his mortal life, it had always been there.

Who would have thought that he would have become Immortal? Perhaps the term 'become' wasn't a proper way to describe it. The energy that caused his immortality didn't suddenly appear; it had always been within him. It had simply been dormant. It seemed though, that even the abnormality of being Immortal was not enough.

Whether it was through chance or fate, he knew not. Not that it mattered anymore. In order so save the world, he had stood in the bath of fierce indignation in the very being that comprised his best and oldest friend, Willow.

He stood in her path as she released wave after wave of condensed earth energy. The stream turned into a mighty raging river, that engulfed him whole. Perhaps, had he been normal, such an occurrence would have killed him. But he was not normal.

Instead that earth energy intertwined with the dormant energy that lay within his very being. If one were to look, it would be impossible to know where his quickening began, and the earth energy ended.

The new dormant quickening that resulted went unnoticed until shortly before the time of his first death. And it had only been the intimate healing powers of a Whitelighter, an Elder nonetheless, that enabled anyone to sense anything. And, in the end, it took his 'first death' and the activation of his quickening for true power behind his quickening to emerge.

No, he was not normal now; nor would he ever be. Even with the hyena and the soldier spirit exorcised from his being, he would never be normal. It had been necessary to retrieve those energies that were slowly being drained by his quickening. It had only been luck that, a then Major O'Neill, an elite air force commando, was simply an essence and not a departed spirit.

It had been child's play for Cassandra, an immortal witch, to return that essence back to its source. Soon after that, she transferred the primal essence from within his being, and formed the first ever Hyena based Sentinel. It still surprised him to this day, that the foremost thought on the Hyena's mind was no longer him proving dominance, it was simply to 'protect the pact. ' And it would do just that.

Xander stood in the alleyway. His back was facing the brick wall in the farthest corner from the mouth of said alley. There was another man, Immortal, like him, standing just inside the mouth of the alley.

Both men had a calm focus about them. As Xander drew his sword, he was once again brought back into the memories of recent developments. He had been shielded from visions, and had been watched over, from an extremely passive standpoint. As he began to, unknowingly, fulfill his role as a Champion, that being began to take a more active role.

Xander wasn't completely sure how it worked. But he knew that he was no pawn, like the way the PTB tried to create of their own champions. He was his own man. He could go where he wished and do as he desired. As long as he stayed true to the path he had set for himself long ago, he would be doing the work he was meant to.

There were a few benefits to being the Champion of Metatron. For one thing was this unbelievable katana that his teacher and friend, Methos, had gifted him shortly before he left for his own private journey.

The sword in and of itself was a work of art. Created by a master swords smith, that had first started in this particular profession millennia in the past. This man had been many things, a swords smith but one. He had been a warrior, holy man, and an uncountable slew of lifetimes that came in between. He now resided as a holy man, aware of the darkness that permeated this world, and helped in any way he could.

He had made this sleek and lethal sword specifically for Xander. It felt as though it had become a part of him the moment he first made physical contact gripping the sword. There was always a presence of peace that passed through him as he held soft yet firm grip of the pummel. He could not figure out what it was made of, and no one would tell him, other than to send him a secret smile that only the truly old could do. The feelings of warmth and peace could have been produced by the ancient swords smith, or perhaps it was the fact the Metatron had personally blessed the sword the moment its making was complete.

Whether the sword was being used to defend himself from another immortal, or if he was in combat with vampires and demons, he knew that his sword would not fail him. The holy nature of the blade dusted vampires without the need for decapitation or piercing the heart. It also had the ability of cutting through the nastiest of demons. And with this sword, he felt a calm and peace, even when fighting another immortal, as he was about to do.

There was no battle cry; there had been no warning. The offending immortal had tried to ghost his way to the, apparently unsuspecting, foe. Xander hadn't been unaware, and he certainly wasn't unprepared. Though he may not have had the opportunity to take off his trench coat, his unique sword made a metal upon metal sound is it deflected the blow from the other immortal. Moonlight seemed to dance upon the polished blades as they danced their own ritual of death.

Ever since taking his first head, certain abilities, such as sword fighting, became easier to engrain into what could only be second nature. His ability to train and use the fighting styles of other immortals was progressing quite nicely.

The blades continued to dance in the dimly lit alley. Small sparks began to fly as the metallic swords collided again and again. It was when the offending immortal went for another decapitating blow that Xander used a burst of speed to push himself forward and gain a mortally wounding strike against his opponent.

As he was apt to do, he offered the kneeling immortal, who was clutching his side as blood pored from his wound, the chance to walk away from this if he would walk away and never offer another challenge to him again. And, in return the other immortal would be indebted to him. As was the case for all but a few immortals, the man began to curse Xander's family and friends.

The nameless Immortal never even heard the wind part as the blade struck through his neck, severing flesh, muscles, tendon and bone as though they weren't there. As the immortal's head came clean off his body, Xander whispered, "There can be only one."

As to be expected, if not dreaded, a soft glow began to emanate from the deceased body. Bolts of electricity began to spew forth from the glow as it intensified. Those tendrils of electricity shattered brick and mortar. And as they found their way to the only immortal alive within its presence, it ripped screams of complete agony mixed with that of overwhelming pleasure. Xander's body was pulled into the air to hover over the alley as the tendrils went through him and flew in all directions.

While each quickening is different, there are a few constants. One such constant is the assault of memories from the deceased immortal. Sometimes they were vivid, others were vague. There appeared to be no rhyme or reason to it. This time, however, it was even more confusing than in the past. This time, the past memories flickered into existence, entire lifetimes were granted to him in less than a physical, or metaphorical, eye blink.

As the memories died down, as though they were never there, there was nothing but emptiness. Xander had only a brief moment to wonder what was wrong before the energy and lightning that coursed through his body began to change and intensify.

He could swear that he heard that faint echo of Willow's voice, but he had only a moment to reflect on it. Suddenly the intense energy seemed to increase exponentially. There was no longer any pleasure, only pain. He held his arm, outstretched towards the cloudless sky. His sword pointed up towards the heavens as his screams intensified with each passing second.

As the swirling tendrils of energy merged with that of the quickening he was receiving, his world began to turn to nothing but darkness. Even the blinding light that cocooned his body, bright enough to illuminate miles of darkness, couldn't permeate the intense pain that turned his world blind.

With a final scream the light intensified before blinking out of existence, taking one Alexander Lavelle Harris, student of Methos, Duncan MacLeod, and Amanda, and family and friend to many, with it.

Dimension Prox Nine Ninety Eight

Xander hit the ground with a roll. He was damn lucky he didn't harm, let alone decapitate himself with his sword. He tried to get up from his prone position, but found that simple movement was beyond him. So instead he simply lay where his body came to rest and listened to the noises around him.

Something was wrong. This was the same alleyway that he had just been in, but there was no decapitated body next to him. Using considerable strength and willpower, he placed himself in a half laying, half sitting position. He glanced around the deserted alley before falling flat on his back again.

He spent an indeterminable amount of time laying on his back. He couldn't keep track of time with so many things taking his attention away from his own body trying to heal itself. Whatever had happened to him, it had been something huge. He didn't want to know what could take this long to heal, if not death.

But that wasn't what really bothered him. It was the sounds coming from the streets outside. They were all sounds he knew well, whether from nightmares of past lives he never lived, or from past experiences of his own. The problem was, those particular noises had no business being used together, in downtown Los Angeles no less!

The sound of heavy weapons fire awakened fragmented memories of a soldier that no longer resided within him. Past lives of other immortals ghosted to the forefront for a sliver of time, reinforcing what he knew he was hearing. There was a battle going on. No guerilla warfare but open and brutal. From the sounds of things there were no quarters being given, and none being asked for in return. But that wasn't what truly worried him.

It was the deep guttural sounds that he had heard before. These sounds, once again, had no place out in the open of downtown Los Angeles. The sounds of uncountable demons responded to the steady staccato of weapon fire. Xander prayed that he was simply hallucinating, that he must have heard wrong.

With all the willpower he had left, he withdrew his aching body from the damp pavement of the alley. Using the brick wall as support, he slowly made his way to the mouth of the alley.

As his eyes suddenly focused on the scene that lay before him; a strangled breath escaped his lips and his eyes widened to horrified proportions.

There was only one word that could possible describe the horrors that he was witnessing.


Dimension Gray Niner Niner Break Gamma

It was a calm beginning of night, the sun had just gone down and preparations were being made in Casa de Summers for what the inhabitants considered their jobs. Stakes were stored in pockets, hairs were tied in ponytails, a little perfume was spread (had to smell good for your significant other) and they were almost ready.

"Okay, you lazy bugs, who's staying and who's going this time?" Buffy asked, coming down the stairs, Faith following a few paces behind.

Xander and Willow traded a silent conversation through their eyes until Xander eventually sighed and stood up, walking to the back door. Buffy perked up, she could always steal some kisses from her boyfriend during patrol, but Faith looked downcast. The blonde Slayer nudged her slightly.

"Don't worry, we can do a quick patrol the three of us and you can come back earlier if things are light, 'kay?"

That made the Boston native smile. She approached Willow and kissed her passionately. "Don't worry, love, I'll be here when you get back. Someone has to keep an eye on Dawn," the redhead said.

"I know. Be back before you notice, Red," she said and turned around, going to the backyard, to find Xander and Buffy lip-locked, being watched by an apparently bemused Ares. "Hey, come on, we have bad things to kill. Either we go hunt them down or you guys go get a room, either is fine to me," she said with a smile.

The couple reddened furiously and promptly disengaged. Buffy approached her, while Xander walked to the center of the backyard.

"Remember me to annoy you when you and Willow are engaged in certain activities," she said under breath.

"Careful, we might ask you to join us, B," Faith quipped back, to which Buffy's jaw fell. "You're so easy, B," she said, laughing out loud.

Xander looked to his surroundings to see if no one was peeking over the high walls. When he was satisfied, he lifted the Sword of Power.


As soon as he screamed the phrase which would activate the transformation, he had the distinct notion of hearing someone calling him.

"Wil…" he said, starting to turn around, but it was already too late. The thunderbolt descended from the skies, as it always did, but this time it was clearly larger and brighter than the previous times he had transformed.

Magic had some curious aspects, one of them was that certain types of magic searched for similar magical signatures. Xander and Ares were quite dissimilar creatures, but at the moment of their transformation, their auras aligned in such a way that it could be said they were a single creature, magically speaking. So, the spell, cast by a person that wasn't aware of such facts, simply did what the caster had required of it, and grabbed them both into its folds, whisking them away.

The bolt expended itself, leaving behind only a patch of blackened and smoking ground.

"XAAANDEEEEEER!" Buffy screamed to the heavens.

And the Universe burped.

It was the only sensation he could relate to. One moment he was transforming into Buffy's backyard, the other he was being shoved head over heels into a dirt patch of cold, wet cemented floor, his brains and stomach feeling like he had just came out of a five day bender, after being shoved into a blender and put to rest inside a dirty toilet, the clear sensation of displacement attaching to all of his senses.

He tried to stand up, his muscles failing. Groaning, all that he managed was to turn around and lie on his back, his shirt and jeans getting wetter by the second, the light and cold drizzle making him suffer even more while his sword slipped from his nerveless fingers.

Where in the heck the Universe had just spit him?

He was engulfed by darkness before he had an answer.

Dimension Prox Nine Ninety Eight

He woke up again with a wet tongue slobbering his nose and face. Opening one eye, he saw the pink muzzle and blue eyes of his dog.

"So, you came as well, Ares? Where are we?" Xander asked with a rough voice. Turning his neck to one side, then the other, he noticed that he was in an alleyway, somewhere unknown. He managed to sit down after some time, Ares resting his head on his lap. "Do you think Dawn or Willow have something to do with this? Or perhaps S'kor?" he asked the dog, who replied by shaking his head slightly as if saying no. "Come on, boy, let's see where we are," he said, grabbing his sword and using it as a makeshift cane to help him up.

Holding to the alley walls, he managed to reach the mouth of the alley, a small squeak leaving his lips.

"LA. We're in Los Angeles, buddy," he said, recognizing some of the view. "What the hell is going on?" he said, surprised, looking to all sides. After storing the sword back in its pocket dimension at his back, he patted himself up. His wallet was still in his pocket, with enough money for the bus trip to Sunnydale and some food, if the need appeared, but his cell phone, however, was nowhere in sight.

"Okay, pal. What should we do first? Call Willow or perhaps Buffy?" he asked, eyeing the pay phone a few yards away. Buffy should be frantic, he mused. They started to walk slowly to the booth, when Ares halted, head snapping towards the south, ears twitching like mad. Xander noticed the action and looked to the direction his dog and battle companion was facing. "What is it, buddy? Problems?"

The dog barked once and started running in circles, an action Xander had learned meant big problems to them. That's when a huge explosion rattled the windows and the ground around them, and not surprisingly, it came from where they were facing. "Ah, damn. Not five minutes in LA and I already have to deal with something. I guess the problem isn't the Hellmouth, Ares, it's me. Come on, let's see if we can help," Xander said with a grimace.

They tried to run back to the alley, the screaming muscles enabling nothing more than a brisk walk. When they were hidden enough, Xander put his right arm to his back, drawing the sword from apparently nowhere. He hesitated for a moment, thinking on what had just happened, but a second explosion removed all fears from his being. Standing taller, he raised the sword.

"BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!" he screamed to the skies, and Nature heard the ancient invocation once again, drawing energy from its magic, which surrounded the entire planet. A magical bolt of huge proportions descended, hitting the tip of the Sword of Power, the blinding light effectively illuminating the entire alleyway. Inside the magical cocoon, a transformation took place, Xander's human body being infused with power and enhanced by the enchantments on the Sword and his own mystical legacy, until in his place stood a man completely different from the brunette teenager.

"I HAVE THE POWER!" He-Man finally screamed, and pointed his sword to Ares, who hadn't even flinched with the display of magic around them. Another mystical bolt traveled the space, this time between man and animal, and the dog was enveloped in another cocoon of light. The cocoon expanded immensely, and when it dispersed, where a Siberian husky used to be now stood a humongous black wolf, the size of a large SUV, dressed in gleaming silver armor. The wolf howled to the air, while He-Man jumped in the saddle at his back. "Let's go, WarWolf," he said, and the mystical beast jumped, the aching muscles being healed by the magic of the transformation.

Dimension Zero Dark One One Kin

Xander stood on top of the high rise building, his jacket being whipped around behind him in the wind his long tousled hair doing the same.

"I swear you do it on purpose" a smoky voice said from beside him.

Xander's black eyes turned to face the curvaceous beauty at his side, a smile just curling his lips, "What's that?" he asked.

"Stand some place that will make you look cool." Corina told him, her cupid bow lips twisting into a sardonic smile and a wave at his coat.

Xander turned back into the wind to hide the smile that threatened to show there. Corina watched his profile with a ghost of a smile on her face. In some way's she was still getting used to this man. The changes that had been wrought in him since her death and separation from him. They were surprising her every day. She could see hint's of humor in him now, where as before he had been somewhat dour at times. Strangely enough, at least to her, he seemed to want to hide it. She had heard a great many thing's about Muerte since her first death. She'd died for him after all.

Corina didn't blame Xander for that, she couldn't when she knew in some deep part of her soul that he would've done the same for her. Yet, it had been Muerte's enemies that had killed her, not Xander's. To her there was a distinction between the two that was very clear. Muerte was death, in every way. Cross Muerte and you would be dead; she had learned what had happened to Grace Arthur. Muerte had wiped out her and her entire clan for killing her. That had a way of making a girl feel all warm, even if it was not a classic romantic notion.

'If only there was romance' Corina thought with a downward turn to her emotions. Xander had kept himself well away from any continuation of their relationship. That had, while not hurt, perturbed her somewhat. She felt strongly for Xander, she wasn't sure you could call it love, she'd been hurt far too many times in the past for that, but there was something there. Something that she was interested in pursuing, only Xander did not. She had to admit it was likely a shock bumping into her like that, especially when they had been missing each other all over 'frisco. It was funny really, when they compared notes they must have nearly walked into each other at least ten times.

"Nice night" Xander's deep voice wafted back to her carried on the wind in a rush.

Corina eyed the storm clouds building over head and felt ice cold wind that her trench coat didn't even pause. "nice?" she asked curiously. "It's freezing out here and it's going to rain."

"Exactly. Nice" Xander said his eyes focused downwards, 15 odd stories straight down.

Corina just goggled at him, "You're weird you know that right?"

"Uh huh" Xander said just *walking* off of the edge of the building and dropping like a rock.

"Ahh!" Corina growled in aggravation, "I HATE it when he does that." she told herself. With a slight stomp of a high heeled foot she turned and ran towards the roof's only door.

30 flight's of stairs later and several hundred swear words Corina exploded out of the alleyway entrance to the building. Her eyes widened as she watched Xander disappear and then reappear behind a huge Polgaran. The fight didn't last much longer than that, the gleaming Katana that she had come to know as the big white glowing thing; made short work of the demon's armored hide. She knew it was a Katana, as an Immortal she damn well knew her swords. But to her a Katana was a well crafted folded metal beauty, not some sort of crystal grown into the shape of a sword. Let alone a weapon with more ancient magic stuffed into it than a menagerie of mages.

"Took you long enough" Xander said with what, Corina was almost certain, was a smirk.

Corina opened her mouth to shoot, what would doubtless, have been a stinging retort. When suddenly Xander became as still and alert as a pointer dog.

"What is it?" she asked, her voice firm and professional. It was one of the many reasons that Xander had taken her on as his partner in the first place.

Xander frowned, virtually ignoring her for a moment as he 'felt' his way around the immediate area.

Corina watched him, she had rarely seen him so focused, the other times had been pre-death and had usually involved a lot of sweat and smiling on her part. Since being his new hunting partner it had been in battles. Normally Muerte didn't find much challenge in the battle's they fought on a day to day basis, but sometimes something threw him a curve ball and he had to engage fully.

Xander gave up, "I dunno, there's something... weird in the air."

Corina looked at him askance, "Weird, this is you saying something is weird?"

"Yes" Xander said not noticing, or rather ignoring, her sarcasm.

Suddenly his eyes narrowed as he spotted a shadow that seemed out of place in the alleyway. "Got ya" he said with a smile and pulled out one of his huge guns and took careful aim at the oddity. "Come out with your hands in the air." he said in a foreboding voice.

The shadow stepped away from the wall and raised it's arms. All six of them. The shadows dropped away leaving what could only described as one of the most bizarre sights that Xander had ever seen. It had eight leg's, a thin horse like body and six arms that emerged from the torso of a man. It's head was vaguely insectoid and three set's of glittering eyes regarded them balefully.

"What the fuck are you?" Xander asked his eyes wide.

"We could assssk the sssssame thing" the odd creature asked back in a sibilant voice.

Xander's gun dipped slightly, "Demonic?" he asked carefully. Was this thing an alien? It sure looked like one.

"Yesss" it replied with a smile that flashed rows upon rows of teeth. Prompting Xander's weapon to rise once more and aim unerringly at the center of the nightmarish creature's head.

"What are you doing here, you don't seem local" Xander said, drawing a weird look from Corina.

'Local?' she mouthed at him.

Xander just looked from her back to the demon, "Well?"

The demon smiled again and started to back away.

"Stop, or I will shoot" Xander said pausing for all of a nanosecond, "Fuck it" he said pulling the trigger.

For something with so many legs it was able to produce an amazing turn of speed. It actually evaded the bullets and smiled maliciously at Xander. "Muerte" it said by way of goodbye before turning and galloping away at top speed. It's top speed was frighteningly impressive.

Xander glanced at Corina and started to run, the beautiful immortal not far behind him as they ran to the end of the alley after the demon firing as he went. It charged out into the flow of traffic, causing the SFC peoples to screech to a halt and generating several minor pile ups.

Xander swore softly to himself. It was the one thing he missed about being in a small town like Sunnydale. At least there it wasn't busy at all hours. Xander racked the slide on his gun placing another clip in with Max's gadget. He looked around quickly. He knew that even Kasi couldn't get to him quickly enough to stop this creature. He needed transport, and he needed it now.

A Ducatti monster took chose that moment to be ridden by, making the dark haired man smile. Using his considerable speed Xander grabbed the rider off of the muscular bike and placed him on the floor. His leg was over the bike and hand on throttle before it had even slowed.

Corina watched him with wide eyes and adrenaline pumping through her system. Then as Xander's form settled on the bike and the engine revved she knew that he was planning on leaving her behind. This was not a new thing to her, despite being his 'partner' for a short time. She wasn't about to allow it again. With a sudden decision she hoped into his lap even as the bike reared up under powerful thrust.

"What the fuck!" Xander asked her as the bike's front tire hit the pavement again.

"Don't even think about leaving me again!" Corina said her eyes a little wild.

"I can't ride like this, damn it!" Xander shot back angrily. Trying to look round her as he accelerated through the traffic. His eyes flicking around to find the strange demon.

Corina smirked, "You used to like this position" she told him, her throaty purr reaching his enhanced ear's even other the roar of the engine.

Xander's lips actually quirked into a smile at that, but he quickly put on his 'Muerte mask' as the trio called it. "I don't have time to argue with you." he said beginning to slow the bike.

"Oh no you don't" Corina said. She grasped his shoulder's hard, propelling herself up and round she 'span' around him her leg's locking round his middle. Her trench coat fell open slightly and flapped behind her as well as flashing an expanse of her leg. "Happy now?" she asked.

Xander smirked, he was actually impressed at that little bit of acrobatics. He'd had no idea that she was quite that limber outside of certain situations. "Fine" he said, his voice showing no hint of the smirk on his face.

The bike roared as Xander pulled back on the throttle and weaved through the traffic. His eyes fixed on the eight legged demon that was ripping through the traffic. "Kasi, come in" he said after a seconds thought.

"Yes Xander" Kasi's sensual voice purred into his ear.

"Need you"

"Tracking your position...are you moving in another vehicle" she asked in what was almost a jealous sounding voice.

"Only just, that's why I need you" Xander said to his beloved car. "Get here fast okay!"

Kasi sighed off and Xander knew he was going to be getting it in the ear later, but right now he had other problems, like trying to keep up with that demon. It appeared to be moving at 50 miles per hour and since it was just ripping traffic apart and he was weaving around it. It was pulling quickly away.

"Fuck it" Xander said his entire focus shifting into a higher level as he brought his every sense online feeling everything around him in a way that he usually never allowed himself. Generally it was too painful to do.

Corina's arm's and leg's were wrapped around him tightly, so he was almost carrying her in a piggy back, but it did allow him to use both of their weight's to make the bike dance across the asphalt.

Suddenly he smiled, the familiar hum of Kasi pulled up beside them, her forward sensor weaving back and forth like mad as she calculated and recalculated the odd's and scenarios for this journey over and over.

"Hold on tight" Xander called out, "Kasi Open a door if you would"

Kasi did as she was asked, no comment's made as she was far too worried about Xander who was on a motorcycle doing close to 70 mph at times. Plus she knew what he was planning, and whilst normally she found someway to object to Corina's presence in the passenger seat. Tonight had to be different.

Corina stifled a scream as Xander just jumped straight up in the air. It had been totally unexpected. She knew she was immortal and all, but jumping off of a bike at this speed would *hurt* damn it! Then she noticed that they were not in fact dropping down and she remembered that Xander could fly, they flew sideway's and Xander slipped into the seat almost lying down on his front across the seats. Corina smirked at the back of his head, "Kinky, I've not tried this one before"

"Cori get off of me so I can drive!" Xander said in an exasperated tone of voice.

Corina just smiled and with difficulty they managed to get into their respective seats. With Kasi driving it wasn't really necessary for Xander to be in the driving seat. That said, however, Corina was no fool and she REALLY didn't want to be shot out of the ejector seat, which would certainly happen if ANYONE but Xander got in behind the wheel. Kasi was a special car and as a female AI was wrapped around Xander's little finger, even if he didn't see it. Corina knew though, it was obvious from the way her door was often locked just as she tried to enter the car, or by the way Xander occasionally had to kick the underside of the dash when Corina had made a flirty comment. She too had seen the ejector seat come on, or the sunroof open for that matter. Kasi also NEVER talked to her.

"Let's get this bast....demon" Xander said.

Corina almost laughed, Xander swore, a LOT, except when he was within 'ear shot' of Kasi.

The sleek black sport's car shot forward like a greyhound after a rabbit. The traffic around them became almost a blur as the highly advanced modular engine that Knight Industries had created started to really get to work. Even a bike as fast as the Ducatti had NO chance of competing with Kasi in full flow.

The Demon happened to glance backwards it's toothy smile disappearing in a wink as a low slung glass black car rocketed up behind it. The demon, possibly the fastest creature on earth at that point poured on the speed, working up well past 200 miles per hour until it was running flat out. All the time the gloss black sports paced it and when Kasi was sure the demon was flat out, she engaged super pursuit.

The LED indicator on the dash suddenly went wild as they jumped from 230 miles per hour to 300 and then back to 230 and dropping quickly down back towards normal speeds.

Xander was looking in the rear view with a grim smile on his face. The demon was mulch.

Suddenly Alarm's blared and flashed all across Kasi's state of the art dashboard.

"What's... THAT!" Xander said in shock as a whirl pool of black ink appeared in front of them, spinning around with flashes of purple lightning dancing around it.

Kasi put her entire focus into trying to stop herself from hitting the event horizon of that odd whirl pool. Yet, it was for naught, they had just plain been travelling too fast. Even Kasi couldn't beat the law's of physics. She skidded sideway's into the whirl pool of darkness.

There was a black flash of light and then suddenly there weren't where they had started off.

Kasi didn't have time to ascertain their exact location, she had other things to worry about. As she 'looked' at their new position she realised that she was about to hit a wall. Unsure what would happen if she did Kasi used all the skill and advanced maneuvering at her disposal to bring them to a stop. The gloss Black Molecular Bonded Shell just kissing the brickwork of a large shop and rocking slightly from unspent energy.

The entire world seemed to hold it's breath for a long moment before Xander let out a low drawn out sigh, "Damn that was close. Well done Kasi" he said once he had filled his lung's again.

Kasi's beam swept back and forth scanning even as her engine revved slightly at the compliment.

Xander looked out of the front window and the smile that had started to grow disappeared in a flash.

"Scanning Location" Kasi intoned as she logged into various GPS networks. Which in itself was odd as usually she kept in constant contact with such things.

"Don't bother" Xander said in a dead voice. "I know where we are"

"Where?" Corina asked, finally getting her heart under control enough to talk.

Xander spoke a single word, his Muerte persona well and truly in place, thus making him seem dark and foreboding as he did.


Dimension Canos Major Mark Beta Nine

A few months ago Alexander Harris had been visited by a strange traveler through the dimensions, and had had activated upon him a spell which singularly recalled, reinforced and made permanent the magics that had affected Xander directly. The Earth and Animal magic of the Primal Hyena, the training and memories of the Soldier from Halloween, the Unity used against the Initiative cyborg, and the link to Dracula himself. This did not account for the effect of the mage's dimensional magic, which caused metaphysical links of Unity-Willow to her vamp self, or because of her Unity link with Xander and the to Daracula, the formation of a tendril to Vamp Xander. Thus he held and could wield magic at the same levels as Willow, but with the Dark Prince's innate abilities he'd concentrated on that first and not the regular spells others might know. And the Slayer Essence of changed demonic origin in the midst of this strange transition, effecting direct improvements of its own before blending with the whole.

Thus an Alexander Tepes evolved in an instant, that was of great Power, but of focused capability, with the knowledge and mental training of Watcher Rupert Giles in a magically-teleportable castle that was similarly charged and effected. A Place of great Potential and strong Wards of a Unity Magic not yet truly understood though Alexander practiced it within the flair and melodrama of the Dark Prince.

Thus of Earth and Life, Chaos, Demonic, Shamanistic and Divine nearly atop the Hellmouth, on ley lines crossing Sunnydale in a great Pentagram of fault lines…did the Shadow Prince feel the tendrils of Darkness within a Touch of Light; the familiarity was striking. Willow sat across from him at this moment, and yet it seemed two different Willows were brushing against his psyche. Evil was laughing at Light. He'd not felt something quite like it since the other Alexander, that strange traveler, had helped him become what he was today. The fear felt by the Light Willow, and the contempt of the Dark, made it clear his help was needed. He turned to the few of his family that were with him now, and asked them to leave.

"I'm sorry, but I might not survive this," he told them abruptly after returning from one of the vaults. He set down the globe containing the First that the Watchers somehow had forgotten, adding it to the Gemina Ferula and a golden statuette of Janus, "But Darkness is hurting Us in another dimension…I know this not so much in words, but it was Willow calling."

Buffy understood the non-verbal bond the two still had after all they'd been through, and nodded, unsure of what was to come, but not liking the survival reference, "Please explain Xan."

"If this Evil can move into their dimension, and I'm…close enough…to hear her calling, it might keep coming. I hope I have enough power to double myself and the castle, sending one of me to their assistance while leaving the other here."

Buffy looked at him, "But-"

"No Buff, I need you to keep everyone off the property, and remember, I'm planning to be here too. And the Power I'm starting to feel from the other side…is incredible."

His beautiful gal, filled out by actually eating the last month they'd been going out, put on a brave front and shooed the others out as he prepared.

'This could leave me exhausted, but hopefully the Wards on the castle will hold,' he thought, but with the Power levels he feared the reverse, of being overwhelmed. He set the statue of Janus, ironic a nemesis being called on in a different aspect, the Keeper of Doors and Portals. He carefully mixed the components of ad hoc Request; the intervention of Janus would be the True Medium in this.

Carefully he invoked the deity, and offered the energy of the First as both fuel for the spell and offering to the god. And in an earlier section of the multiverse effect became cause, and Alexander Tepes and his immediate Demesne transitioned in a flash of light attracting multiple strikes of lightning against the Hellmouth and around the Castle.

The lines across and between nodes glowed for a few moments, from the Bluff to the Magic Box in the almost-leveled business district back to the Bronze, up to the Castle, down to the Crawford Mansion, and back to the Bluff. Then from the outer points to the adjacent nodes, the Hellmouth in the center of this ringed star, a pulsating ugliness of Dark Power.

The bubbles of reality and irreality forming and fading, until a minute later…he felt not only unfatigued, but supercharged; indeed he felt Chaos strong around him…the quiet scream of rain falling…peacefully….and then he watched as his Place merged and reformed with an unblessed duplicate.

As the effects wore off slightly, he felt the wrongness of this Other Sunnydale…

"Alexander?" a sleepy Jenny Calendar yawned, distracting him, causing him to pull back his senses from contact with the demonic and the dead throughout the area of the ringed star, "Where'd everybody go? I was only asleep in the den for a moment…"

Alexander sighed, shaking his head and shrugging off the high that was developing, then explained what little he knew as he led her to one of the highest spires in his castle and looked out over Sunnydale. Alexander could feel difference in the Castle and the surroundings as they reached the top. The lightning had replenished the natural magics drawn from his lands, and the castle itself was now a larger edifice of both Dark and Light; his Wards might not hold against the Enemy, but minor nuisances such as vampires or zombies-those bound unnaturally to nature flesh, should be unable to cross. Jenny looked around, noting a few differences, the school being one of them, and the fact that the tower was twice as tall as it should be, and much wider.

"Alexander, your tower is much bigger than I remember," she smiled coyly, causing the mage to blush and choke.

"You've been spending too much time with Faith…"

"She's a great girl, any chance of meeting up with her in this…place?"

"Don't know, Jana, but if she needs help here, even with our limited resources, we'll help our new family just like the other one."

"From here, I don't see any of them around the grounds of the place, so I guess for sure we're the copies?"

"Alternate originals, please," he chided playfully, then frowned, "Do you feel anything?"

She frowned, since being brought back just a few weeks ago, it had turned out she had a very good and specific danger senses, though beyond that only her techno-pagan experience.

"Something big is disturbing…the dead…and I don't think it was just the lightning from our arrival, Alexander." She sighed and her stare clouded, "And there are demons running around…This world's Hellmouth is almost open, but something over at Kingman's Bluff is for the moment far more Powerful and Unnatural."

"That's what I thought," Alexander agreed with her, nodding, "And whatever is responsible is most likely there…though I think the Willow who called me felt like she was at the Magic Box."

She sighed and looked out over the three-quarters ruined and burnt out city, and seemed to draw into herself.

"You're still feeling alone, Jana?" he noted, looking concern as he gathered her into a side hug, "I thought you were adjusting to being back?"

She sighed, "I guess the last twenty minutes have been weirder than usual? Rushing off to the rescue of another Sunnydale? I know this is probably uncomfortable for you, since I'm not Buffy, but, uh, could you just hold me here for a few minutes? It's just that I was getting used to being back…"

"Sure, thing … I guess it has been a heck of thing to get used to?"

"Yeah…" she inhaled then changed the subject, "Should we try to contact Willow by cell phone, maybe one still works?"

"I guess since the Willow of this world is a magic wielder, others we know might be around. Maybe we should secure the place, load for bear, and actually make contact in person if it doesn't."

She pulled from the reassurance of human contact, smiling wanly, "A better plan, especially since we don't know the situation yet, would be to use a locator spell first? Then go find them?"

"That is safer…"

They noted that in the direction of Kingman's Bluff, reddish light seemed to radiate toward the storm clouds above, fire in the night that for all they knew could be day time. Loud sounds from the direction of the airport and armory , with draconic and demonic nasties flying that way, some with what looked to be people in their talons.

"Hmm, maybe we'll just use the phone for now…" he remarked, "I am wondering why this group of flying weirdoes seem to be ignoring us…I guess some of the Wards are still working after all…oh."

"What is it?"

"Um, opposites attract and like…repulses…if what I'm feeling is correct, the combination on Earth and Chaos Power that 'blessed' my property…wow."

"What is it Alexander?" she asked as rhey walked down the steps, and in the Great Hall found Wesley, Giles, Merrick, Buffy, Faith, Darla, Willow, Catherine and Amy. Alexander shook his head, "Buffy, I thought I told you to-"

Giles held up a dismissive hand and interrupted, "That's enough Xander, she did, and we helped her-from this side of the magical line. When she informed us what you were using it became clear there would be duplication-so by us choosing to assist you, th-the more the merrier."

"And Lord knows I couldn't let my godson Rupert run off and have all the fun in two universes," Merrick smirked as only a character portrayed by Donald Sutherland could, "And in all seriousness, I owe you a debt of blood, so here I am without leaving my post in the other universe. The others feel the same and it's too late so accept our help as you've expected and wanted your help accepted these past years."

That argument alone silenced Xander's objections, "Alright, but not knowing what we're up against, what I really need is for all of you that aren't slayers, to research and accomplish the powering back up of my Wards, and to concentrate on defense and somehow storing up Power like a big battery until we need it. I was just expressing to Jenny that it felt as though the blessings on this place, being of Light, Earth and Chaos are now accessing something Dark. Luckily, it seems the Wards seem to be using the extra Earth magic access, to filter the inherent nastiness out."

"Okay, if my fear is that if a Black Willow or Other exists proves true, with the level of Power that exceeds my own, and perhaps ours combined, then prepared defenses are our best hope. That and our Slayers here using the illegal weaponry in my Armory against any attackers."

Giles and the others nodded, and as this was clearly Xander's mission, accepted his leadership. Jenny and Rupert hugged tenderly, glad to see the other, and Buffy embraced her man.

The dark-haired Slayer voiced the next question on her mind, "Should B and I cover you while you make contact with the local Scoobs?"

"Yeah, that's probably a smart idea; we'll go grab a recent newspaper to figure out date and situation, then head over to wherever a locator spell tells us."

"Okay, B and I should grab what for this?"

"Do the trench coat thing to hide swords, the Desert Eagles I showed you last week and anything your gut tells you to take; I hope for first contact we won't need more."

Buffy broke the hug and nodded, "What are you carrying?"

"The same, but I already have them on as part of the glamour."

Giles considered Xander's revelations, then queried him further, "Xander, can you feel the Enemy?"

"Not directly right now, but whatever it set up, possibly a self-sustaining portal, seems to be on Kingman's Bluff. But as the minutes pass, it becomes less focused, either because I'm adjusting to the local magic, or because the one perpetrating this has gone somewhere else."

"P-Perhaps we should avoid that place until we know more…nothing precipitous?"

"I agree, but the only ones with the 4-1-1 will be our counterparts."

"Can you extend your glamour to both Slayers as well as yourself?"

"Good idea, Giles, we don't want to make targets of ourselves."

An hour after the message from the local Willow, the three left the castle intent on seeing what Hell might literally await them…

And found a Magic Box nearly intact, but with the detritus of surrounding structures heap against it enough to where unless looking for it, it would blend with the destruction. They approached the building, having only dusted a dozen vampires and avoided some bug like things heading toward the highway to LA. Xander opened his senses and dropping the invisibility on te three of them, opened the door of the store and walked in, startling those inside.

The three inter-dimensional travelers were quite the shock as the invisibility spell dropped away. Alexander still being Xander, had left his Prince Tepes style of glamour running, and as it had basically altered only slightly for the Slayers, all three looked … hot… in their castlevania-style of wardrobe.

"Hello? Willow called for help so my wives and I are here…"

"Xander!" the Slayers with him exclaimed with surprised glares, which broke some of the uncertainty in the room. He rolled his eyes and addressed the entire room.

"What actually is happening, and what intel do you have that might be usable for rectifying the situation?"

Local Xander raised both eyebrows and interjected before the others, "Why are you talking like Giles but look like a seriously buffed up vampire-me?"

"Short answer? Combine the Hyena, Soldier, Unity and Dracula into me, like Doc Strange, but regional, not local…therefore…Brit-Speak."

"Ah, congrats and sorry to hear it," the local responded, both smiling. Local Giles interrupted, trying to focus on the situation.

"Be that as it may, we DO have a dilemma here…um, if I might inquire, how powerful are you?"

"Hard to say, really, I generally avoid direct magical conflict, but the Willow and … do you have a girl named Tara in your world?" He noted the pained expressions, and that Giles waved for him to continue, "Well they thought for sheer Power, I was about equal to the group…but I've only been practicing illusions, sensing and stuff like that for the last four months. I can redirect energy to be at Unity-Slayer levels for a short time for the physical stuff, but it burns off quickly…"

"Good Lord…so you might be at the very least a large power source for spells we know already?"

"Possibly, and the Castle itself has built up an impressive accumulation in and of itself?"

"You brought a castle with you?!" Local Buffy exclaimed as the more magically experience paled slightly, "How did you do that?"

Alexander explained in general how he'd powered the transition and what he felt. Anya was the one to pick up on the fact that there was another Scooby Gang at the castle already researching.

"So there are other versions of us at your place?"

"Well, there's us, Giles, Willow, Wesley, Giles, Merrick, Jenny, Darla, Amy and her mother Catherine…"

The minds of the locals boggled at some of the people named, but Anya wanted to know more, "No me? Who're you going out with then?"

"You left town, and Buffy," he said, his girlfriend smiling at him, "But anyway, do you wish to stay here, or base out of the castle? And is there anything here you're likely to want to take with you?"

Giles looked around, mostly on the table, "Whatever materials we have on portals, magical power levels and such, I suppose, more of what we've been researching."

"Do those spells require any particular components or materials that you have?" the black-clad properly-dressed version of Xander asked, "In case we can't come back for them? Anya? Any hope of wished or D'Hoffryn granting us one on the cuff here…?"

"No, with all the demons, it might be a major demon lord making a move, so he wouldn't want to get into a war over some humans…"

"Hmm, but aren't humans his power source?"

"Yes, but there are plenty of other dimensions…"

"Oh well…are there any demons that would fight against whoever's invading?"

"Yeah, but they're probably having their own problems in LA, there's an exiled Duke named Sebasis or something there…has like 40,000 demons that follow him."

"Don't suppose just to play both sides, your ex-boss might give us a one-shot where we wish 'em all with guns and ammo here at the Hellmouth? So he could hedge his bet?"

"Good idea, but probably not…"

"Okay, maybe if we manage some success later, we can try him…"

They made it back in three hours, packing books but managing to eliminate four hunting parties as an intermittent stream of evil alternated between milling about or heading off under taskmasters. But they did make it, and learned what the state of the world as they knew it was. A week of North American-focused invasion, not limited to the Hellmouth area, though Sunnydale seemed to be spewing forth probably a third or more of the nasties on the ground. Aerial demons in great groupings would filter in, then the USAF or CRAF would move to engage…but since it was till going on there was reason for hope, and for despair, since it meant humans were holding for the most part, but how long when it took weeks or months to make planes and such.

Not to say there weren't incursions elsewhere in the great cities of the world, merely that whoever was conducting the attacks, seemed to have a plan that favored this continent.

On the ground, it seemed that semi-independent 'toumans' like those of the Mongol Horde were sent out toward targets after groups of less-controllable Things made it through the dimensional barriers to create havoc and destructions. It seemed a strategy that worked for now, simple enough for demon minions of the kill-eat-kill level of thought to understand.

Dimension Kinari Minor Mark Four One Two

He really should have known better.

Really. He was normally smarter than that.

It was one of the first things he'd learned after he accidentally stumbled over the existence of the Slayer and the things she fought in the night, when he'd decided to dedicate himself to that selfsame battle that had previously been fought by conscripted young girls forced to fight alone against the nightmares that preyed on the unsuspecting masses of humanity.

And yet he'd gone ahead and jinxed himself by calling down the attention of what was probably an entire pantheon of malign and mean-spirited bastards who just sat around and waited for fools like himself to stand up and yell, "Hey, Idiot Jeb here! Come on down and shit all over me!"

The day had started normally enough, with Faith, Buffy and Willow all fussing over Joy and Jesse as they got them ready for their semi-annual checkups with Tom Wells and his gang of semi-certifiable lab rats over at the Base.

Someone who didn't know who he was would probably have immediately identified Tom as the kids' grandfather the way he dotted on the two of them, Xander had to admit with a smile. Considering the way his little darling ran rampant through the lab and charmed everyone she encountered with those expressive big brown eyes of hers, something she'd inherited from Faith, it was no wonder that Jesse came in a close second behind her in popularity, since all he could really do at the moment was gurgle, smile up at whoever was holding him and blink those incredible blue-green eyes he'd gotten from Buffy.

Tom had been just as pleased as they all were when all the reports came back stating that Joy was a completely normal, totally adorable three year old girl and Jesse the textbook picture of a three month old boy.

Of course, he was just as glad that neither Joy nor Jesse showed any signs of being anything other than completely normal, considering the way the two of them seemed to run four adults ragged. And he really didn't want to even try to imagine the pandemonium that awaited them all when Willow finally delivered the twins five and a half months from now…

After they'd ferried the kids home, he'd kissed all four of his girls and Jesse, too, and headed down to San Francisco for an inspection of the new facilities, where'd he'd run into Dru and Forrest, agreed to a sparring match with the two of them after the review, and actually come very close to having them kick his ass. Man, if they had actually beaten him, none of the girls would ever have let him live that down.

The girls managing to finally restore her sanity had allowed the once-insane, semi-undead Seer to once again walk in the sunlight and, with her prescient senses and the augmentation she'd received after joining the Initiative, she was very nearly a match for Willow now, although the other two enhanced Slayers could still consistently kick her ass in their semi-weekly training sessions.

After a brisk workout and showers afterwards, he'd been telling his two fellow Initiative agents about the kids' checkups and it was then that he'd made his mistake, saying, "And Tom says that the twins and Wills are all doing great, too. Everything's terrific, guys. I really couldn't ask for anything else - my life's pretty near perfect now!"

It was, of course a moment later that he'd felt the call, the feeling as though he could hear someone calling out to him from some unimaginable distance.

< Please. Help us. >

He'd managed to gasp, "Will?" before things began swirling around him and then the world seemed to simply vanish.

"What do you mean, he just disappeared? People don't just disappear! Especially not Xander! He promised to stop disappearing after he came back with Glory's body!"

Willow was half-screaming as she questioned the last two people to talk to her husband before he had vanished from the Initiative's main base, in full sight of a dozen other people.

"Will, you need to calm down," Buffy advised as she put her arm around her semi-hysterical spouse and led her over to the couch, coaxing her to sit down as she did so. The redhead was already normally inclined to over-react to stressful situations, and the mood swings she'd been experiencing during the past two months of her pregnancy hadn't improved that aspect of her character in the least.

"Sorry, Willow, but that's all I can tell you, 'cause that's all I know," Forrest told her, as he anxiously glanced over at the blonde Slayer trying to calm her wife.

"That is exactly what happened, Little Tree," Drusilla Macintyre answered Willow's question, her dark-eyed gaze steadfast as she returned the redhead's unwavering stare with one of her own.

Just because she'd had her sanity returned didn't mean the tall brunette didn't still have some - quirks - Buffy reflected as she watched the two of them lock eyes.

While none of them had any doubts about the former Master vampiress' loyalties - not after what had happened last year in San Francisco - hearing her continue to refer to them by the names she'd used back when she was still an undead head-job could be the least bit disconcerting.

"Our Tiger-Wolf was speaking of the joy he held in life because of you all, his Shamrock and your kittens, when he suddenly paled, said your name, and then vanished into the ether," Dru said, shaking her head in commiseration.

"And at that same moment as he spoke, I could see your face before me in many different aspects, my friend, but none of them were truly yours," she continued, her eyes seeming to blank slightly, as she again reviewed her memories of that brief instant . "They belonged to others, reflections of you as you might have been had you chosen differently. That is all I can say with certainty at this moment. I am sorry I cannot tell you more."

"You say, you saw *my* face?" Willow asked, her eyes wide with surprise at that revelation.

"No, she said she saw faces that looked like yours, honey," Buffy immediately corrected her wife. "There's a big difference."

"Wait a minute," Forrest broke in, looking at his partner in surprise. "You're just now mentioning that you saw Willow's face when Xander disappeared?"

"I said that I saw aspects of Little Tree that she chose not to become," the Seer calmly informed her associate. "Had I told the Commander of my vision, we both know that he would have insisted on an investigation to ensure she was not responsible, and thus wasted precious time we cannot spare. He has not the strength of belief that River-born possesses in the Tiger-Wolf and the Shamrock nor the trust that the Stone Lord has bestowed upon your heart-father, and he would have dithered and dallied the hours away with heartless and senseless questions. We cannot abide such nattering, my friend."

As Forrest was attempting to make sure he correctly understood his teammate's statement, Faith walked in, her face a mask of carefully molded unconcern and calm.

"Sharon says that they haven't detected any incoming or outgoing traffic on any of the SG sensors anywhere in our system, and that the Asgard told Jack the same thing," she announced folding her cellphone as she entered the room.

"So, since it doesn't look like ET's responsible, we need to figure out what demon groups or clans are stupid enough to want to screw with us and then go stomp their asses into the ground until they give us Xander back," the brunette Slayer continued in a dismal attempt at a lighthearted tone of voice.

"It's not that simple, Faith," Buffy broke in before anyone else could respond. "Dru said she saw some faces that looked like Willow, but different, at the same time Xand disappeared. Other, unchosen aspects she said."

"Shit!" the dark-haired Slayer reflexively spat. "Sounds like it might have something to do with an alternate dimension or some kind of parallel world thing, like you talked about when Vamp Willow showed up, back in the day," Faith said after hearing Buffy's explanation.

"Okay then, so we go stomp some alternate universe asses into the ground until they give us Xand back," the brunette shrugged nonchalantly. "Still works for me."

"You know what? I agree. No one steals our husband and walks away unbroken," Buffy smiled ferally at her other spouse as she got to her feet. "I'm gonna go get the makings for a locater spell.

"Why don't you guys go start putting a squad together for backup, okay?" she suggested as she headed towards the pantry for supplies. "And see if the lab boys are finished with the prototypes for those BFGs they were talking about at the last staff meeting, okay? I think they'd be just about perfect for what I intend to do, once we figure out where Xand went to."

"Who're we gonna get to watch Joy and Jesse?" Willow asked from her position on the couch.

"You and Giles." Faith and Buffy's answer sounded like quadraphonic stereo it was so nearly simultaneous.

"What do you mean, me?" Willow's outrage was almost palpable, Forrest thought as he quickly headed out the front door, thankful that he didn't have to face down the redheaded Slayer-witch over that particular point of business.

One thing he was completely sure of - if he did end up getting involved, no matter who won, he'd end up losing.

If Willow didn't go with the retrieval squad heading out after Xander, he'd be occupying the top five slots on her shit list, and if she did win the argument and manage to accompany the squad, he'd end up at the top of Xander's, Faith's and Buffy's shit lists.

< Oh joy. Lose-lose. Always a winner, > he thought to himself. Once thing he was sure of, though - *he* was going with the retrieval squad. No way was he staying here and risk having to deal with a crank and pregnant Slayer/witch.

The windows weren't quite shaking from the vehemence of their arguments as he was leaving, but Forrest figured that it was only a matter of time.

For an instant, it felt as though he were back falling through the portal with Glory, that same sensation of everything being different in a not-really-wrong-but-not-necessarily-right way, and then he was being turned inside out in the most painful manner possible, like something was tap dancing on his testicles but distributing the sensations equally throughout his entire body, while simultaneously marinating him in that super-hot jalapeno sauce that Buffy had liked so much while she carrying Jesse, and then shoving whatever was left down a garbage disposal and mixing it thoroughly with the products of a sewage plant.

After what seemed like forever (but probably wasn't more than an eon or two), he felt himself falling for the briefest instant, before landing on what was - given the way his luck had been running lately - probably a large pile of semi-petrified Tyrannosaurus shit.

Opening his eyes, he looked around, blinked once to verify that he wasn't imagining anything, and groaned.



Dozens of them.

Maybe hundreds.

"Oh shit," he groaned. "Not again."

Shoving himself to his feet, he borrowed Giles' favorite quote from one of his own favorite movies.

"I'm getting too old for this shit."

"Something else has just arrived. About ten miles away, in that direction."

"Great, that's just what we need now - more monsters."

"I don't think that this one is one of their's. It - he - feels like a good person. A powerful good person."

"That's great in a different way. Someone else for them to look for. Maybe we'll be able to find a way out of town while these demons are looking for whoever just showed up."

"That's cold, Pheebs."

"Well, tough shit, Paige. You'll just have to forgive me for not giving a shit about whether some superpowerful newcomer I don't know or care about gets the shit kicked out of them while we still don't know if our missing sister and nephew are dead or alive, or whether they're prisoners of these bastards that have eaten half the people in the city and made slaves out of the other half, and I'm three months pregnant and puking my guts out every other hour, and the last time I saw my husband, he was being overwhelmed by a horde of demons who were trying to kill all of us, and I don't know whether our baby is even going to get a chance to be born, let alone whether or not he'll have a father if he does make it through the next six months."

"You know, you could just say it's the hormones that're making you bitchy."

"Shove it."

"But then again, you're like this all the time anymore."


"I love you, too, Pheebs."

"Let's get the hell out of here."

Dimension Alpha Break Five

Jack O'Neill, Colonel of the United States Air Force, tried to hide his fidgeting as he watched the shimmering gate. The contact team had gone through to meet the man claiming to be him some time earlier, and were now coming back according to their IDC. They'd cleared the man as an actual Jack O'Neil, which was slightly disconcerting. He wasn't an android, and didn't appear to be a clone or Goa'uld trick. In fact, he claimed that he might, might mind you, be from the future.

That was a neat trick, one that Jack himself had pulled once, so they couldn't discount it. He'd wanted to go meet the team himself, but Hammond had vetoed it without discussion. There was no way he was going to let Jack offworld when there was no way he could be certain which Jack he was getting back.

The gate rippled as the first members of SG9 came through, and then the four members of SG1 followed suit. Jack watched them step down the ramp, coming right up to the original (and still best) members.

"So." Jack said, looking into his doubles eyes. "What brings you to town?"

Two Carters and Two Daniels hid smiles while Two Teal'C's merely raised their eyebrows.

The other Jack shrugged, "You know. Heard there was a good fishing spot in the mountains here."

"Ah." Jack said, nodding. "So I hear. Well... come on, general's waiting."

"Let's go see the General then."


The other jack nodded, finally giving in and going first. "Yeah. Let's."

Jack watched the other Jack go, then shared a glance with his team. "This should be interesting."

Daniel tilted his head slightly, then shook it. "Yeah. I need more boredom in my life."

General Hammond frowned as he steepled his fingers, taking a moment to digest the story he had just heard. It was fantastic, if it weren't all too plausible. Monsters that could fly, women capable of basting through mountains, all of it was insane of course.

But then, so was half the things they'd run into during his tenure as Commander of the SGC. Demons, Vampires, Aliens, and Humans with powers that made all of the above look commonplace. They'd seen it all.

Or almost all, judging from this story.

Thank God.

Still, there was one thing in the story that didn't jive quite right.

"I see one problem, Colonel." Hammond said to the two groups of people in front of him. His own versions of SG1 were in their habitual uniforms and clothing, but he'd immediately assigned new orange jumpsuits to the others. They'd accepted the necessity without trouble, thankfully, but he wished he'd had something in stock that was less, well, criminal looking.

Though, Hammond reflected, there were probably a good many people in Jack's past who believed that orange was precisely the color he'd wind up wearing one day.

"Oh?" Both Jacks looked up at the same time, speaking in tandem.

They paused, looked at each other, and spoke again. "That's just freaky."

Another pause, then again both spoke, "You cut that out!"

Hammond cut off any further vaudeville routines by clearing his throat, "For the record, I was speaking to the Colonel O'Neill not currently under my command."

"Ah. Oh." Jack said, nodding. "Sorry."

The other O'Neill smirked at his double, then looked toward the General. "What problem, Sir?"

"The date, Colonel. You said the attack occurred in July of 2002?"

"That's correct."

Hammond exchanged a glance with SG1, his SG1. Damn that was going to take some getting used to. He shook his head and nodded to Major Carter.

"It's 2005 here." Samantha Carter said seriously, "And nothing like that happened here three years ago."

The alternate Jack O'Neill looked shell shocked for a moment, then his mouth opened. "Oh."

"So... what happened?" The alternate Daniel Jackson spoke up, frowning. "I mean... Something happened. Right?"

"I think it's safe to say that something happened," General Hammond allowed with a tense smile.

"Could... Could it be like the quantum mirror?" Sam suggested, looking around.

"Alternate dimension? You think the ninth chevron might be a... what? Dimensional address?" The alternate Carter asked, voice becoming excited, "If that's true that that means that..."

"Wormholes can breech the time space continuum past the dimensional barrier..."

"And perhaps exist completely outside the physical universe as we know it!"

The two Jacks watched the exchange between both Carters and groaned together.

"Oh God," They said together, "There's two of them."

They both looked up, scowled at each other, and snapped, "Now cut that out!"

General Hammond sighed.

It was going to be a long debriefing.

"We need a way back to our home dimension," Jack O'Neill insisted, growing tired of the theoretical discussions, "I'm in command of the Alpha site, and we may need to begin setting up fall back positions in case our dialing computer has been compromised."

"Well... Sir," The Sam carter that wasn't a member of his team, he thought, said hesitantly, "I'm not really sure how to go about it."

His Sam nodded in agreement, "The events that led to our position here were rather unique Sir."

The local version of Daniel Jackson hesitantly help up a hand, "What about the mirror?"

"No good," Both Sam's said, shaking their heads together.

"Why not?" Jack asked.

His Sam waved a hand to the Other Sam, and said, "Go ahead."

"Thank you," She smiled, then turned to him, "Because the Mirror is linked to a specific frequency and can't be altered..."

"At least not in any way we found," His Sam finished.

That was either cute, or infuriating. He'd decide later.

"There is one other option..." The local Daniel said after a moment.

Jack looked up, curious, but noticed that his double had suddenly become very very wary.

"Daniel," the local Jack growled.

"Jack, they need help... He probably could help them."

"You know it's not safe," the Local Jack growled, shaking his head. "drop it."

"What's going on?" Jack asked, eyes flitting around the room.

"Nothing, Colonel." Hammond replied, "Just a... disagreement."

"If it's about getting us back to where we're supposed to be, I think I should hear it!" Jack growled.

"I said it was nothing, Colonel." Hammond snapped, his voice in a tone that Jack recognized all too well. "Drop it."

Jack frowned, leaning back in the chair. "Fine."

Hammond nodded, looking around the table. "Very well. We'll table this for now, and let the Majors Carter look into it on their end. We'll do everything we can, Gentlemen, Lady... You have my word on that."

Jack checked the door, making sure that it was closed, then moved over next to his orange team members.

"So what do you guys think?" he asked, leaning in close to whisper.

"They seem to be telling the truth," Daniel shrugged.

"They're hiding something," Jack said, shaking his head. "Something big."

"Indeed." Teal'C agreed.

"But what, Sir?"

Jack shook his head, "I don't know that yet. It's big though."

"Yeah, you uh said that already Jack." Daniel smirked. "The question is... what can we do about it?"

"Nothing yet," Jack said after a moment, shaking his head. "But keep your eyes and ears open. I don't just don't trust them... us... whatever."

Sam and Daniel exchanged another smile even as they all nodded in agreement.

Just as they did that, their door burst open and men in black uniforms marched in.

"Are we clear?" Jack asked softly, looking around.

Sam nodded, looking up from her equipment, "Yes Sir."

Daniel looked up, "I still say we should call him."

"Are you nuts?" Jack growled, "Kealty and the NID are just looking for a reason to put us out of business for good, and you know it. As it stands we can barely keep that jackass from cutting our budget into negative numbers, and if the SGC goes down you know as well as I do what that leaves. The NID with the only operating Stargate on Earth."

"And him."

"Don't talk to me about him, alright, I've got enough headaches." Jack growled, shaking his head. "We're going to..."

He was interrupted by a commotion in the halls. They exchanged glances and hurried to the door just in time to see their doubles being led through the halls by soldiers in black tactical gear.

"Hey!" Jack growled, stepping out into the middle of it, "What the hell do you think you're doing!?"

"Back off, Jack."

Jack felt his lips curl as he recognized the man stepping up from the back, "Maybourne."

"You may still have some favors in the current administration, few and small though they may be," Harry Maybourne replied with a thin smile, "But your double here, doesn't. We're taking them to Area 51 for questioning, please... try to stop us."

Jack opened his mouth to say something, only to be interrupted by a chime from Maybourne's cell phone. The NID officer smiled as he gestured to Jack to hold on and answered the call. He listened for a moment, then looked around with an angry expression. "Where's Doctor Jackson!?"

No one replied, but Jack looked around quickly himself and felt a sinking sensation in his chest.

<Oh No.>

"Hold them! You two, with me!" Maybourne growled, charging into the next room.

They rushed in to see Daniel Jackson setting down the phone receiver and lifting his hands into the air as they brandished their weapons. Maybourne growled and rushed over to where he was standing and ripped a black card from his hand, he looked at it for a moment, then crumpled it up with a growl.

"Daniel Jackson, you're under arrest for conspiracy to commit treason, association with known terrorists, and breach of contract. Under the Homeland Security Act of Oh One, you do not have the right to an attorney, nor do you have the right to remain silent."

"Oh now, Come on!" Jack objected, pushing through the two soldiers.

"You stay out of this Jack," Harry spun on him, "I'm warning you, you're on thin ice already. Whatever you have on the President will only get you so far with him and me. We let you run around here free because the Asguard and other allies like you, but there are limits. So choose, Jack."

Jack O'Neill glowered at the man, but fell silent because in the end he knew that he couldn't leave the last bastion of true government defense of the entire planet to men like Maybourne and the NID. He looked at Daniel as they led the young man away, eyes seeking forgiveness even as Daniel just smiled and shrugged.

"This was always going to happen, Jack," Daniel said fatalistically as he was led out.

Jack just shook his head, and knelt down to the card that Maybourne had thrown to the ground. It was fading now, almost pure white, but he could still see the faint glint of it's metallic silver lettering.

The Knighthood.

The End


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