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Buffy knew that the moment she hit the ugly big demon, she was going to royally piss it off. And boy was she right. Six times over.

"Oomph!" Buffy huffed when she crashed through a tombstone.

There she was, covered with dust after a slay, casually walking down a path when she happened to chance upon a hole in the ground. From the looks of it, it was blasted open. It looked like something worth investigating, so she hopped in and found a tunnel of some sorts filled with lots of glittery things. It's like the stories you read when you were a kid. Go into some cave and you find treasure. Exactamondo. Only, the stories didn't say that the treasure cave looked as if it just endured a big trashing. And that big, ugly demony bodies were lying around in various painful death positions. Or that there were still some alive and were now attacking her.

"Okay guys, I don't want your nice things," Buffy said as she ducked a blow.

The big, grey ugly demon just snarled. "My thing! Go!"

"Well, I'm trying to!" she snapped as she avoided another swipe from a big, clawed hand.

She gave one of the demons a roundhouse kick, but it merely backed a few steps and showed its fangs at her. Distracted, she did not notice two demons behind her. By the time she did, they had pounced on her and had her hands pinned behind her back. As she struggled valiantly to free herself, the other demon got read to plunge its claws into her gut.

Buffy struggled wildly, but they held her fast. "Don't!" she screamed.

It didn't faze the demon. With a roar, it plunged its claws into her belly-

Buffy closed her eyes, preparing for the all-consuming pain of a slit-open gut.

It didn't come. "Huh?" she muttered, opening her eyes.

The demon was gone, on the floor with a thick arrow between its eyes.

The other two demons stared dumbly at their companion's sudden death. Buffy didn't wait for them to take out their frustrations on her. With a grunt, she hoisted herself up and kicked, with both feet, as hard as she could on what she assumed were their knees.

The demons let her go with a grunt, but almost immediately reached for her again. Not letting them have the chance, she punched one in the face.

Its face didn't even move. And boy did her fist hurt.

Angry, the demon shoved her hard against the wall, which stunned her momentarily. Again Buffy gave it a violent kick, but it only distracted the demon.

When it reached out for Buffy again, Buffy was prepared to deck him one between the eyes -- hoping that was its weak spot -- when the demon grunted once and then fell.

Buffy's eyes widened when she saw a long, gold encrusted sword protruding from its back.

"Why didn't I think of that?" she muttered out loud. Then lifted her eyes to see-

Her mouth hung open in shock.

"And a good evening to you too, Buffy," Wesley said, his voice flat and devoid of humour.

"We ... wuh ... what?" Buffy asked, flustered.

"There will be more coming. Luloth demons are very territorial. It's best we move out," Wesley said calmly. With one fluid move, he yanked the sword from the creature's back.

Buffy could only stare, bug-eyed, as Wesley circled the area, looking into the deep recesses of the cave. Like some kinda pro. Like some kinda demon hunter. He wasn't screaming like a girl. Nor did he look the least bit scared. Aside from the obvious change in appearance, there was an assuredness about him that was not there when he first came to Sunnydale. Honestly, the change was amazing. They say LA does things to people ... but this...

When Wesley looked back, his face held a mixture of disappointment and anger. "The Mother is gone," he said bitterly.

Buffy frowned. "Whose mother?"

Wesley spared her a brief glance before taking a golden, shimmering thing from the pile of gold at his feet and tossing it to her. It was another sword. Surprised by the move, Buffy caught the sword before it could fall tip first on her foot.

The man, meanwhile, moved towards the gaping hole high above them.

"I'm sorry to be abrupt and everything, but, what the hell are you doing in Sunnydale?"

"I'm looking for something," Wesley murmured as he studied the hole above.

"Huh," Buffy muttered and followed Wesley's gaze upwards. "It's too high. Let me give you a --"

Without a word, Wesley leapt, easily making his way out of the hole. After a few moments, he peered at her from above. "Are you coming?"

"Colour me stunned," Buffy muttered, looking up in amazement. She followed suit, more eager to get some answers about Wesley's sudden super-poweredness than to escape a horde of demons.

But she didn't have a chance. A kick to her face was her welcome above ground.

When she fell on her back, a Luloth demon snarled at her, all fangs. She quickly curled her legs and kicked with all her might. This time, at least, it sent the demon staggering some distance back. She bounced back to her feet quickly and made a quick grab for the sword.

"Their weakness is between the eyes and in the back!" Wesley called from somewhere.

Buffy hoisted her sword and shifted to a battle stance. Two Luloth demons crept towards her. "Bring it on," she muttered.

When Angel and Gunn returned from their fruitless search, they found Willow and Giles sitting pensively at the table in Percy Mason's library.

"Found anything?" Gunn asked. He sat heavily in Mason's favourite chair.

"He knows what we're doing," Giles said. "He probably knows we're tracking him now."

Angel frowned. "How-"

Giles merely handed him the journal with the page entry. Angel closed the book with a loud snap, looking angry. "We have to stop sitting around!" he said in frustration.

"Yes, I agree," came Percy Mason's voice. He came in through the front door of the shop, where he gave his coat to Fred who helpfully hung it up.

"I found where the Luloth demons are nesting." Mason met Giles' eyes and said heavily, "It's Sunnydale."

Angel's frown turned into shock, then fear. "Buffy," he whispered. He began fumbling for his cell phone and walked a distance away to make his call.

"Do you think he's there?" Fred asked.

"Undoubtedly," Mason said calmly as he settled into a rickety chair by the table. "Elementals have a way of accomplishing their tasks."

Willow began leafing desperately through a book, looking fruitlessly for something. "I can't figure it out," she said desperately. "We're never going to build a weapon this fast. We don't have time!"

"Are you still planning to stop Wesley?" Mason demanded, surprised. Seeing their determined faces, he sighed dramatically. "Nobody listens to me. I think we're making a big mistake, but I'll help you -- just to prevent him from hurting innocent civilians. Give me the book," he snapped his fingers at Willow, who quickly handed it to him.

"Willow, I need you to teleport us to Sunnydale. If we're to make it there on time ..." Giles trailed off.

"But the weapon-"

"I'll do the research," Mason said gruffly. "I know more of Elementals than you can know in a short while."

Willow looked at Giles, a frown etched on her face. "It'll be really uncomfortable-"

"We can handle it," Angel snapped, striding back into the library. Throwing Gunn and Fred a quick look, he said, "Both of you stay here. In case Wes makes a surprise visit." Then to the rest he said, "Xander says that he saw him in Sunnydale. We have to be there, now."

"Give me a moment," Willow said, heading towards Mason's bathroom. "Got to charm some water with the Element of Water. We need something that could make him at least pause."

"Use the Element of White Water," Mason said, not taking his eyes off the book. "It's the antithesis of Green Fire. More effective. Damn, I hope we're doing the right thing," he muttered.

"Are you alright?"

"Oh, peachy," Buffy muttered as she yanked the sword from the Luloth's head. Although stained with gunk, it still sparkled. "Wow, how much is this worth?"

"Easily twenty million dollars," Wesley said with a smile as he came to her side.

Her eyes went as wide as saucers, but before she could say anything, Wes said, "Best to throw it back into the pit. It'll attract Luloth demons to you from all over the world."

Buffy dropped it like as if it was crawling with fat maggots. When she looked up, she realised that Wesley had walked away, having dropped his sword beside hers.

"Hey, wait up!" she ran to him, and stopped him with a hand to his shoulder.

He looked surprised to be stopped -- as if he didn't expect her to do that. What startled her were Wesley's eyes -- they were pools of ... sadness ... Buffy wondered what caused it.

Sliding her hands into her jeans pockets, Buffy gave Wesley a small self-conscious smile. "I didn't say thanks for saving my butt."

"You're welcome," he looked as if he wanted to turn and leave, then appeared to change his mind and said awkwardly, "Have you been well?"

"Well ... as well as a resurrected girl can be," she said quietly, reflecting back on the year that was Spike, the Troika, Willow going bad and more badness. She just gave him a wry smile. "I'm really ... glad to see you. It's been a long time."

Wes shifted his glace to the ground. "Likewise," he murmured. "Sunnydale reminds me of a time where things were simpler."

"And now it isn't?"

Wesley shrugged and gave Buffy a lopsided grin. "Not by a long stretch, no."

That was when Buffy spotted the scar than ran vividly across one side of his neck. It stood up angrily on his tanned skin, and it looked relatively recent. Shocked, she looked at him for an explanation, but Wesley shifted up the collar of his black jacket to hide it.

"It's complicated," he muttered as he walked away.

"Hey ..." she caught up to him. "Is everything okay in LA? Angel-"

"-is fine," Wesley answered, his voice strangely flat. "Why I'm here doesn't concern him. Though I wager he'll be here soon."

"What's going on?" her voice was hard, demanding.

"You wouldn't understand. And no, you can't help me." At that he paused and gently, if hesitantly, placed a hand on her shoulder. "I was never a good Watcher to you, Buffy, and I caused a lot of difficulties, especially where Faith was concerned. So I'll be damned if something happens to you because of ... my task. So ... leave me alone," he said, suddenly brusque, as he removed his hand. With that, he left her standing alone in the deserted graveyard.


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