Chapter Three - Penitence

"Youíve got it?" Willow asked.

"Yes," Giles said. "I, I do believe I have." He walked down from the stacks to where Willow was sitting, placing an old, leather-bound volume in front of her. "Jack Kinn seems to have been a detective in the late Ď30s and early Ď40s. He died untimely."

"Why would Trick want him?" Willow asked. "Does it have something to do with the cross?"

"Most definitely," Giles replied. "It would seem that Mr. Kinn was the um, ah Ö companion of the Slayer of the time. They were quite intimate, and it seems they slayed vampires together."

"Thatís romantic," Willow said. "In a non-romantic, semi-icky way."

"Quite. The Slayer it seems was killed and Mr. Kinn was killed shortly afterwards. He may have used the cross to transfer, if you will, his soul or consciousness so that he could live on."

"But why?"

"I donít know," Giles said, frustrated. "But this particular type of vessel can be dangerous. It doesnít just affect the wearer, you see. It can affect others around the wearer, as well."

"And, and since this guy was a er Ö friend of a Slayer Ö" Willow said. "Oh."

"Exactly," Giles said. He tapped the book in front of Willow determinedly. "We must contact Xander and Buffy immediately."

"Iíll call them," said Willow. She went over to the phone behind the libraryís checkout counter and dialed

Buffyís number. "No answer. Iíd better get over there."

"Yes," Giles nodded. "Bring the two of them here and I will continue researching this Mr. Kinn."

[ ~~~]

Willow knocked on Buffyís door.

She had rushed over to Buffyís house, worrying the entire way. Weíve got to get that cross off Xander, she thought. If itís influencing him and he tried anything with Buffy, sheís going to kill him.

Willow knocked again. No answer.

Feeling slightly guilty, she tried the door. It was unlocked. "Buffy?" she called out as she walked inside. "Itís Willow. Is Xander okayó?" She turned the corner of Buffyís entranceway into the living room and stopped short. "Oh my God," she breathed.

Buffy and Xander were lying on the floor beside an overturned couch. They were asleep, covered in popcorn. Asleep and naked. Asleep and naked and in each otherís arms. Their arms and legs were intertwined, with only an old comforter barely covering them.

"Buffy!"

Slowly, Buffy stirred from unconsciousness. "Whaó" She sat up, the blanket falling to her legs. Xander, lying beside her, woke up and pushed himself up on one arm.

"Willow?" Buffy asked. "Whatís going on?" She looked down at her exposed breasts and up to Willow. She looked down at herself again and then back to Xander.

"Aaagh!"

Buffy grabbed part of the comforter and quickly covered herself.

Xander looked down at himself and up to Buffy.

"Aaagh!"

"Wh-wh-what happened?" Willow asked in a small voice.

"I think," Xander began, "Buffy just gave me a happy."

"Oh my God," Buffy groaned. She grabbed the comforter, wrapped it around herself and ran upstairs.

"Willow, Ió" Xander started. But Willow was looking at him strangely. "What?"

Willow blushed, but didnít take her eyes off of Xander. "Xand Ö youíre uh, um Ö having a slight case of, uh Ö nakedness."

"What?" Xander looked down. His eyes went wide as looked back up at Willow. "Turn around! Turn around! Turn around!"

Willow stifled a giggle and turned around. "Weíve got to get back to the library," she said. "Giles has found something."

[ ~~~]

"Ö and that is the story," Giles said. "It seems this cross has the ability to affect others, as well."

Buffy hardly heard her Watcher. I had sex with Xander.

She could remember every kiss, every caress. It was passionate in a way she still couldnít believe.

I had sex with Xander.

But it doesnít matter, she told herself, it wasnít me and it wasnít himóit was that damn cross!

Xander sat at the table in the library with his head in his hands. What have I done? he moaned inwardly. Itís like I raped her. He stole a quick glance at Buffy. She wouldnít even look at him. Not that I blame her, he thought.

"Iíve been doing some research," Giles was saying. "And it seems to be a rather simple matter to remove the cross. The Black Chronicles makes reference to a spell that will allow us to easily remove it. Iíll need to get a few suppliesÖ Say we meet back here in an hour?"

"Fine," Buffy said, standing quickly. "Iím just going Ö somewhere else." She turned and almost ran from the library.

"Buffy!" Xander stood and ran after her. "Wait!"

Buffy ran out into the hallway but stopped when Xander came flying out after her. "What is it Xander?" she asked, her voice breaking. "I really donít want to talk to you right now."

"I know," he said. "Look, BuffÖ it wasnít us. I mean, it was us, but it wasnít."

"Does it matter?" Buffy asked, tears in her eyes. "We still didÖ what we did."

Xander walked up to Buffy and put his hand on her shoulder. "It does matter," he said. He lifted the cross off his chest. "It was this damn thing. Listen Buff, Iím really sorry. My God, I donít blame you if you never want to see me again; I know I wouldnít. All I can say is that you have nothing to be ashamed of."

Buffy could see the pain in Xanderís eyes. He really means it, she thought. I canít blame him for something thatís not his fault. She reached up and put her palm against Xanderís face. "Xander, Ió" Buffy stopped when she noticed Xanderís features suddenly contort as if in intense concentration. "Xander?" Buffy asked, "Whatís wrong?"

Xanderís speech came out in short gasps. "Itís happening again," he said. He grabbed the sides of his head with both hands. "Get out of here, Buff!"

Xander could feel whatever it was trying to enter his mind. Itís getting stronger, he thought desperately. Itís not trying to influence me anymore, itís trying to replace me! Iíve got to get out of here!

Buffy barged through the doors to the library, causing Willow and Giles to look up in alarm. "Didnít you just run out?" asked Willow.

"Itís happening again," Buffy said curtly. "Xander is out in the hallway, and itís doing something to him!"

"Oh my," Giles commented. "We must restrain him before he gets out of control."

The three ran back out into the hallway to see Xander on his knees, clutching his head. "No, no, no," he mumbled. "Make it stop!"

Buffy knelt down beside Xander and put her hands on his shoulders. "Itís going to be okay," she said. "Try and fight it."

Xander shot out his arm, his elbow crashing into Buffyís face. She smashed headfirst into a locker on the far side of the hallway and slumped over, unconscious.

"Thereís no use fighting," Xander said as he slowly stood up. "Not when it feels sooo good."

Giles stood in the hallway, his hands held out in front of him. "Now, Xander, you must try and control yourself," he said. He took a quick step forward and punched Xander in the face. Xander arched backwards and slammed into the lockers. "Willow!" Giles shouted. "Grab him!"

Willow was standing in the hallway with her mouth open in shock. Giles words seemed to shock her into motion. She ran forward and grabbed Xanderís arms. "Just relax," she said to Xander. "Everything is going to be fine."

"Everything is fine," Xander snarled. He threw his arms out, forcing Willow to let go. He spun and punched Willow in the face and she dropped to floor. He used his momentum to spin around 360 degrees and backhand Giles, who was running towards him. Giles flipped over, slamming hard into the floor beside Willow.

Xander ran through the doors into the library. He went straight for the weapons cage. Rummaging around, he pulled out his automatics. Quickly checking to make sure they were loaded, he headed back out into the hallway.

Willow and Giles were still lying on the floor, Willow with her hands over her face. Buffy was picking herself up from being slumped against the lockers. Xander brought his hand down quickly, striking Buffy across the head with his pistol. She fell back to the floor, unconscious again.

"Iím sorry, baby," Xander said. "But this is something I have to do on my own." He ran down the hallway towards the front doors of the school.

[ ~~~ ]

"Drakkus, my man," Mr. Trick held his arms open wide, a smile on his face. "Itís good to see you again!"

Drakkus ignored Trickís embrace. "Whereís Kinn?" he asked.

"We donít know," Trick said, his smile fading. "Itís good to see you too. Donít worry, weíll find him soon enough."

"Itíll never be soon enough," said Drakkus. He took a quick look around the warehouse they were standing in.

"Nice dump youíve got here."

"Well, I ate the maid, so weíve been having a problem," Trick responded with a smile. "What took you so long?"

"I stopped for a snack at the bus station," Drakkus responded. "I want Kinn and I want him now."

"Youíll get him," Trick said. "Weíve got people out looking for him right now."

"Good. Iíve been waiting fifty years for this reunion. I plan to make it a memorable one."

[ ~~~]

"Unghh," Buffy mumbled, rubbing her head. "I do not like waking up like this."

"Just take it easy," Giles cautioned her. He came over to her and helped her sit up. "Xander seems to have lost complete control."

"Xander Ö" Buffy sat up abruptly, the pain in her head forgotten. Xander attacked me, she thought. No, the thing controlling Xander attacked me, she corrected. She pushed herself to her feet. "Weíve got to find him," she said. "Before he does something thatís going to get him killed."

"Or hurt someone else," came a nasal-sounding voice. Willow came up from behind Buffy. Her face was covered in dried blood, which she had obviously and unsuccessfully tried to wash off.

"Willow!" Buffy was shocked. "Was it Xander?"

"Yeah, but I know he didnít mean it," Willow said. "But we canít just let him wander outside like this."

"I know," Buffy said worriedly. "I already had someone I love acting like Mr. Psycho, and Iím not going to let it happen again. Not when I can stop it."

"Someone you love?" asked Willow.

"Pardon?"

"You said someone you love," Willow said. "You love Xander?"

"No, I Ö I donít know Ö. Listen, I canít deal with that question right now," Buffy said hurriedly. "Right now I just have to find a way to stop him."

Buffy turned and without another word, walked briskly out the doors to the library, passing a very surprised Oz, who was just coming in. "She is in a hurry," he said. He took one look at Willow and came rushing over. "What happened?"

"It was Xander," Giles said. "Heó"

But Oz had already turned and ran for the doors.

"Oz, wait!" Willow called after him. "Heís not thinking straight!" She got up to run after Oz.

"Willow, you canít go," Giles said, putting a hand on Willowís arm. "I need you to help me prepare the spell."

"ButÖ"

"No Ďbuts,í young lady," Giles said. "This is important, and your love-life can wait."

Willow sat back down. "Oz," she said sadly.

[ ~~~]

Xander was hunting.

What for, he didnít know. Why, he didnít know either.

What he did know was that he had to find someone and find them quickly. He didnít have much time. People were coming for him. They wanted to interrupt the plan. He had to finish what he started before whoever was following him stopped him first.

"Hey!"

Xander spun around, his fist arcing in a wide circle. It connected with the person who had come up behind him, sending them spinning to the ground.

"What the Hell!" The person sprang to their feet quickly. "Canít a girl just say hello?"

"Faith," Xander growled. "What are you doing here?"

Faith, the second Slayer, rubbed her chin and examined Xander warily. "Iím on patrol," she said. "When did you get macho?"

Xander ignored her comment. "Leave me alone," he said. "Iím busy."

"Busy doing what?"

Xander frowned and ran his hands through his hair. "Faith?" He looked at her strangely. "What are you doing here?"

Faith put her hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?" I donít know this guy all that well, she thought, but he looks wacked.

"Iím fine," Xander said abruptly. He seemed more in control suddenly. "Iím just busy, so Ö" He put his hand over hers to shove it off, but stopped suddenly.

Faith was confused. She had seen Buffyís friend walking through the park and decided to just say hello. But now, she wanted to talk to him. That was strange enough; Faith didnít really like to talk to anyone. What was stranger was that she was starting to feel attracted to Xander.

Heís always been cute, she thought to herself, but guys are for using then abusing. She shook her head.

Xander stepped closer to her. "Why are you here?" he asked.

"I donít know," Faith replied. "I, I Ö guess I came here to see you."

A growl came from the bushes and the two sprang apart. A vampire sprang out from behind some shrubs and ran at Xander. Faith moved to help, but was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground. Xander reached into his jacket and pulled out his pistols. The vampire swung his leg out and kicked one of the pistols out of Xanderís hands. Xander went down on one knee, shoved his pistol into the vampireís stomach and pulled the trigger. The bullet blew out the vampireís back and he slumped to his knees in front of Xander.

Xander placed the pistol under the vampireís chin and pulled the trigger. The vampire, now missing the top of his head, slumped sideways onto the ground.

"Blood-sucking freak," Xander muttered. He ran over to where the second vampire was wrestling with Faith. He grabbed him by the jacket and threw him off of the slayer. The vampire rolled and was up in an instant. Faith jumped up off the ground and stood beside Xander.

"I didnít know you packed," she said over her shoulder. "But Iím kinda glad you do."

Xander didnít have time to say anything as the vampire charged. Xander shot him through the chest, but it didnít even slow him down. The vampire leapt through the air, but was stopped short by a roundhouse kick from Faith. He scurried up from the ground and faced them again.

"Looks like weíve got company," Faith said. "And itís not the good kind."

Xander took a quick look and saw what she meant. He quickly counted at least six vampires running towards them from different locations in the park. They followed the noise of the shots, he thought to himself. Iíve got to remember that.

"I say we run," Faith said. "Run fast."

"Run if you want to," Xander replied, picking up his second pistol and cautiously eyeing the vampire in front of them. "Iím staying."

Faith gave him a Ďyou-must-be-crazyí look and then smiled. "What the Hell," she said. "Iíve always liked a good party."

[ ~~~]

Buffy ran down the street, worried.

She was worried about what Xander would do. She was worried about what the guy controlling Xander would do. And she was worried about what she had said in the library to Willow.

I said I loved Xander, she thought incredulously. Do I? Buffy had been through a lot with Xander, not the least of which was his saving her life. A year ago, she would have hotly disputed any attraction to Xander, but now she wasnít so sure. Yes, Xander was handsome, funny, witty, and brave. But Buffy had Angel. Or did she?

Buffy and Angel both knew they couldnít be together; Angelís curse prevented that. She wouldnít go so far as to say she didnít love Angelóshe did. But she found herself more and more leaning on Xander for the support she once went to Angel for. Angel was Buffyís fantasy, and she was quickly realizing that grasping a fantasy wasnít always as fun as chasing one.

But Xander wasnít a fantasy. Xander was there for Buffy during the night and during the day. He always had a joke or a smile to make her feel better. She remembered how they had fought over restoring Angelís soul, but she also remembered how he had told her to be careful when she went off to face the vampire.

But how much of what she was feeling was due to the cross? We need to get that thing off of him and then have a long talk, Buffy mused. We have to talk about what happened.

What happened. Buffy smiled and slowed her pace a little. She couldnít say she didnít enjoy what happened. It was strange. She knew she would have never have done Ďthe deedí with Xander if it hadnít been for the cross.

Never say never. But Xander was strong and gentle at the same time when they were together. He was funny, tickling her while in the throes of passion, but serious and attentive to her needs. With Angel it was all about passion, she thought. With Xander, passion was a given, but it was more about sharing something more intense.

Buffy shivered. The two of us have to sit down and talk, she thought. Now if only I could find him! She heard gunshots in the distance. Thatís coming from the park, she realized. And itís gotta be Xander, or whatever Xander is becoming.

[ ~~~]

Xander went down on one knee, a vampire flying over top of him. He fired both pistols at the vampire as it passed him and it rolled heavily on the ground, groaning.

Faith spun into a spinning leg sweep as one of the vampires charged her. She quickly sprang up in time to stake another one as it ran at her from the side. The vampire on the ground swung his legs and knocked her legs out from underneath her. She fell heavily to the ground, but rolled instantly, just in time to avoid a follow-up punch by the vampire who had knocked her down.

Xander grunted as a vampire swatted one of the pistols out of his hand. He fired into the face of the vampire who had hit him, but another punched him hard across the face. Xander slumped to the ground, his vision graying.

Faith saw Xander go down and moved to help him. Two vampires grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her to the ground. As she scrambled up, she saw two more vampires drag Xander towards a van parked at an entrance to the park. Thereís too many of them, she thought desperately. I need some help.

Regaining her feet, Faith stood in a fighting stance. Six vampires surrounded her. She gritted her teeth. Time to get serious.

One of the vampires arched his back and let out a grunt. He quickly exploded into dust. The others turned to face the new threat.

"Faithóyou were having a party and didnít invite me," Buffy said. "Iím disappointed."

"Donít worry," said Faith. "Thereís plenty of fun for the two of us. But weíve got to be quick; theyíre taking Xander out of here by express courier."

"What!?!" Buffy looked to where Faith was pointing. She saw two vampires putting Xander into a dark van. She moved to go after him, but two of the vampires stood in her way.

"Move." Buffy looked at the vampires pointedly. "You canít stop me."

"We donít have to stop you," one of the vampires said. "All we have to do is slow you down."

Buffy whipped out the hand she was holding her stake in. The stake flew through the air and landed in the speaking vampireís chest. Just as he began to turn to dust, she grabbed the stake out of its chest, spun around, and jammed it into the second vampire. He turned to ashes as quickly as the first.

"Amateurs," Buffy said. She ran towards the black van, but saw it screech away from the curb before she could get close enough. "Xander!" she yelled.

Faith came running up beside her. "What happened?" she asked. "The vamps just took off."

"They took Xander," Buffy said, panic in her voice. "Weíve got to find them. Letís get back to the library; maybe Giles has an idea on how to track these guys."

[ ~~~]

Xander was cold.

He had been wandering the streets for what seemed like forever, but he couldnít remember exactly when or where he was. His head ached, and so did his feet. He stumbled forward, somehow sensing that he had to keep moving. He had to find a place to rest that was safe.

Xander stumbled and fell into a puddle filled with snow. Funny, he thought. It almost never snows in Sunnydale. But this didnít look like Sunnydale. It looked like New York. What the Hell am I doing in New York? he asked himself. He picked himself up off the ground and looked out of the mouth of the alley he was in. A small diner stood across the street, the warm glow of its interior lights beckoning him forward. He pulled his coat closer around his neck and stumbled towards the light.

The diner wasnít full. A few truckers, the cook, and two waitresses made up the dinerís compliment. Xander took an empty stool at the counter and flagged down the girl behind the counter. "Coffee," he whispered. "Three creams, three sugars."

"Iíve been waiting for you kid," a voice said behind him. Xander spun around to see a large man in his early Ď30s take a seat beside him. The man removed his hat, a fedora, and placed it on the counter top.

"Youíve been waiting for me?" Xander asked. "Who are you?"

"Jack Kinn," the man replied with a small smile. "I figured itís about time we met."

"About time we met!? Youíre the guy in the cross!"

"Iím the guy in you," Kinn corrected. "Listen, kidÖ thereís not a lot of time to explain whatís going on here, but youíre going to have to trust me."

"Trust you," Xander repeated. "Why should I trust you? You almost got me killed!"

"See, kid," Kinn continued as if he hadnít heard. "Thereís something Iíve gotta doósomeone Iíve got to meet and finish things up with. Think of it as cosmic payback, fifty years late, but with interest accrued."

"Youíre not going to use my body," Xander said firmly. "Iím not some kind of spiritual Holiday Inn."

Kinn sighed and played with his hat. He turned towards Xander seriously. "You canít tell me you donít enjoy the skills, the power," he said. "With me and you together, we can take on that undead bastard and finally get them back for what they did toÖ"

"To whom?"

Kinn seemed to catch himself. "It doesnít matter," he said. "Listen, kióXander. In this world, you are either the lion or the lamb. The wolf or the cattle. In your case, you are either Kinn or kine."

"I wonít do it."

"Weíll see," Jack said picking up his hat and placing it smartly on his head. "When you donít have a choice, making a decision comes easy." He gave Xander a little wave and walked out the door of the diner.

"Hereís your coffee, buddy," the waitress put the coffee in front of Xander. He stared into its murky depths. Its blackness seemed to hypnotize him, draw him in to its darknessÖ

Ö "Is he awake yet?"

"No."

"Well, wake him up!"

Xander heard the blow coming before he felt it land. There was a Ďwhooshí of air and then a blinding pain on the side of his face. I must have been dreaming, he thought. He quickly snapped his eyes open.

He was chained by his wrists to the floor in a darkened warehouse. Great, Xander thought. This is exactly how I wanted to spend my evening.

"I see you are awake," Drakkus. "Good. Itís so much harder to torture you when you are asleep."

"T-t-torture?" Xander squeaked. "Canít we all just get along and let the healing begin?"

Drakkus smiled. "Iíve been looking for you for years," he said. "Iíve killed hundreds, but you were always the one who got away. The only one who was worthy to face me. The only one I am going to enjoy watching beg before he dies."

"What do you want?" Xander asked, trying to stand. Drakkus stepped forward and kicked the young manís legs out from underneath him. "Youíve got the wrong guy!"

"Your new face canít fool me," Drakkus snarled. "I know who you are. I can see beyond the veil you cower behind. I know your true face."

"What do you want?" Xander asked again.

Drakkus smiled. "I want you to suffer, of course."