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Returning Darkness

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They took a boat to get there once they had made it to the other side of the country; it was the easiest way to avoid the sun considering Angel's Wolfram & Hart resources were gone. Spike, Angel, and Illyria arrived thirteen days later. Once they tracked down the Watcher they headed for his house, although when they arrived they realized it was more like a mansion. It was quite impressive; there were two wings by the look of it, and the gate was guarded by teenage girls, but they were slayers, of course.

Any normal person would think getting past them would be easy, but if they tried it they'd find out that they were horribly, horribly mistaken.

Angel went up to one of the slayers. "Hi, um, I'm Angel, this is Spike and Illyria. We're here to see Buffy and Giles, and Willow. All those guys, you know. They're not expecting us, but can we come in?"

The slayer stared at him for a minute. She had heard of the two vampires. All the slayers knew of them, but not because of their famous histories, only because of their relationship with the original slayer, Buffy. She wasn't sure exactly what to do here since he obviously wasn't aware that the group had split up, but she decided to call it in anyway.

She took out a phone and called the house. Another slayer answered, her name was Jen.

"Hey, it's Gina. There are some people here to see Mr. Giles, important people. Angel, Spike, and... some blue chick."

"Oh, they don't know that the others aren't here then?"

"Nope."

"Wow, well this'll be awkward, but I'll go let him know."

"Okay, thanks."

Gina held up her pointer finger, signaling for them to wait.

Jen came back to the phone. "Send them in."

Giles was surprised, but not completely. He'd heard about the goings on in L.A., and he knew that Angel would come eventually. He was very confused when he heard Spike's name, though. Spike was dead, or well truly dead.

He headed to the main hall where the three had already entered.

"Uh, hello, welcome to our new headquarters." Giles wasn't sure where to start exactly.

Angel came over to him. "Hi, Giles, it's been a while."

Giles was staring at Spike and Illyria, prompting Angel to explain. "Uh, yeah, Spike's alive. We're not sure of the details as to how it happened, but..." He shrugged, trailing off, "And that's Illyria, she's, uh… was a god, not anymore."

"I am still a god. Just because I am in a human body and on this mortal plane does not take away what I am and will always be."

Angel stared at her, unimpressed. "Uh, yeah, right. So, we have some problems. Where's everyone else?" He said looking around.

Giles took off his glasses and started cleaning them. What was he supposed to say?

"Uh, they're not here."

Spike came forward. "Well, where are they then?" He knew something was not right here.

Giles sighed, "I don't know where they are. Everyone went their separate ways, that was around two years ago."

Angel and Spike were shocked. Spike had seen the group go through some very bad times, but they had never left each other's sides. "You mean no one has spoken-- no one has seen each other in two years? That sounds like bollocks to me, you all could never get rid of each other."

"Well, it's the truth. Things had been tense and then there was a big blow up. Buffy and Faith left together, then the others followed suit."

Angel was puzzled by that, "Buffy and Faith hate each other. Why would they leave together?"

"They hated each other when you knew them, but things change. You know that. They became quite close. There was always the potential for them to be good friends, and then due to the events that led to Sunnydale's demise and the aftermath they were brought together in an odd sort of friendship."

"Well, I suppose that makes sense, as odd as it still is, but okay, you really don't know where any of them are?"

"No, I don't. I don't mean anything against them, but do you really need them here? I see no reason to barge back into their lives as we have plenty of capable slayers here."

The two vamps looked at each other. What was going on here?

"Yeah, we kinda need them. It's concerning all of them, actually," Angel answered.

Giles was slightly annoyed. He had finally gotten used to everyone being gone, and he had no desire to go back to the incredibly strained state the gang was in when they were all living in the mansion.

"Well, I'd like to be filled in on what you know, and if it's necessary I suppose I could ask one of the witches to locate them while you explain."

"Witches?"

"Uh, yes, there are several new witches here."

This whole situation was going to take some getting used to for Spike. "So, that's how it is now? The whole gang's gettin' replaced?"

"It's not like that, Spike."

"Right. Well this is end of the world business so you best get on finding the others right now."

It took only hours for the witches to locate Xander. They figured he would be the easiest to find, but maybe not to convince. Having him on board could be a way of persuading the others, though.

It didn't even take that long to get his phone number. Giles dialed it, still feeling very unsure about this whole thing.

"Hello?" Said a young woman's voice.

"Um, yes, hello. Is Xander Harris there?"

"Yeah, hang on a sec. Alex, hun, there's a British man on the phone for you." She had a slight southern drawl.

There was a pause before he answered. "Hello?" But he already knew who it was.

"Xander, hello. I know it's been a while-"

"Yeah, it has. Look, I don't know why you're calling, but I won't come back. I have a new life now and it's different, but it's good for me." He was talking very quietly. Giles assumed that the woman who answered knew nothing of his life previous to Texas.

"Yes, I understand, believe me I did not want to call and bring you back into this, but it's important."

"Isn't it always?" He did sound more peaceful now, which only made Giles feel worse.

"Uh, yes, I- I suppose it is. It's end of the world business, but more importantly, it's involving Willow specifically, and Buffy."

Angel and Spike had explained the visions to Giles, as he requested, while Xander was being located. Meanwhile, Illyria, was being used as practice for the slayers. None of the girls had a chance against her.

Xaner was silent. He didn't know what to do. "What happened?"

"Well, nothing yet, but we'd like to prevent it."

"If nothing's happened yet I don't see why we're talking. I don't mean to be rude, Giles, but the future isn't written in stone right? So how do you know something bad will happen?" He was talking outside now so he wouldn't have to whisper.

"The seer envisioned the last argument and everyone leaving, so we would just like to make sure. It would be best if you came."

Xander sighed. He didn't want to sit by and watch the end of the world, but his new life didn't fit in with the old. But honestly, he missed the action sometimes.

"I'll leave as soon as I can, alright?"

"Yes, thank you."

He hung up. What was he supposed to tell Kelly?

"Hey sweetie, I need to go to England for a while."

"Why?"

Well, because I have to do some vampire slaying, demon killing, possibly apocalypse related business.

He thought about lying to her, but he had knew that some form of the truth would be the best. "My friend, the one on the phone, is having a gathering all us old friends together, you know they were like my family and it's been so long since we've seen each other. We didn't say goodbye on the best of terms, well, we didn't really say goodbye at all, but I think that I need to be there."

She smiled at him, "Of course. You should go. I know you don't really talk about them much, but you miss them. I can tell."

He kissed her forehead and went to pack his things. He would leave immediately.

Back in England, the witches were still trying to find Buffy, Faith, and Willow, but they were coming up empty.

"They don't exist."

Giles scoffed, "That's impossible. They can't not exist."

"Well, they don't show up anywhere."

"They don't wanna be found." Angel said.

"Yeah, but we have to find them. So what do we do now if they could be anywhere?" Spike asked the witches.

"Well, there's nothing we can do, it's too powerful for us. But, you could ask around, I guess. See if anyone's heard anything about them. I mean, they're the slayers and Willow's probably one of the most powerful witches in existence. Someone has to have heard something about them. Laying low doesn't really seem like their styles."

"I agree. You two should go around the demon bars and ask around, and if you know anyone here then you should find them as well."

They nodded and left.

The local demons heard some stories about the two slayers in Canada, Australia, India- you name it. But there were more people saying Mexico, so they decided to start there. No one knew anything about Willow, though, they're response was usually, "Who?"

Angel didn't know anyone in Mexico. "Do you know anyone in Mexico?" He asked Spike.

"I knew a bloke when Dru and I were there. Can't say he'll still be there, but it's worth a try. If not we can just ask around, knock some skulls, you know, the usual."

They called Giles and told him that they were headed to Mexico.