Spike in the City Of Angels, Episode 3:


In Hope Of A New Beginning


by John Cope



Part Five

A strong cup of tea later, Buffy, Giles and Jenny were sitting in the unfamiliar but familiar surroundings of 1630 Revello Drive's kitchen. The Mayor had arrived shortly after Buffy had slapped a shocked Giles back into consciousness, and so the Calender residence was secured by his security staff so that tomorrow's plans could be made without anyone barging in and asking about that pale girl.

"Matthews dead and guy's in hospital for the next few days so I'm down to ten people, counting me." Jenny had also seen the strained looks on her vampire hunters' faces, they worried her. "Some of those kids are on there last legs nerve wise, another couple of fights like that..I'm not sure they could stand it."

"We all want it all done and dusted, especially me, so I can go home and Giles here can get his Slayer back." Giles managed a weak smile. "I figure we can add at least two of the cops to our force, Giles if he's as good a fighter as he is back home, and a few of the Mayor's men." She shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe Wilkins too, I know he's fought before."

"Well I guess." Jenny hadn't gotten that interested in local politics, she'd had vamps on her mind. "Do you think Vietnam would have given him the experience he'll need for this though?"

"Yeah." Buffy resisted the urge to shout Vietnam hell he might have fought at Gettysburg. She didn't want a certain person absentmindedly burning her ticket back to humanity. "Trust me, he knows what he's doing. Well Giles how about you? You over the fright yet?"

"Quite definitely." Giles looked down into his cup at what Jenny called tea and felt certain that he'd rather face vampires than another mouthful. "Do you have a plan? Usual I'd propose one but as I don't know the town that well from my brief tenure in the library."

"Burn down the Bronze." Jenny knew there was a powerful element outside that wanted to do that right now. "Take the Master out in daylight so we don't have to lose any more people."

"Normally I'd dismiss that out of hand as being apt to draw attention but in the circumstances of everyone in this town knowing about vampires it seems like a good idea." Giles noticed the smile his comments elicited from the dark haired woman, civility had to be observed he realized. "Any more tea in that pot?"

"No I think we more or less drained it." *He agreed with me, what a surprise I was expecting instant dismissal.* "But I could make us some more."

"Please there's no need to go to that much trouble," a relieved Giles answered, turning his attention to a grinning Slayer. "And I take it from your expression that you concur as well?"

"Who me?" Buffy suddenly realized that she was grinning like an idiot over something she could definitely never tell the people. Her face went stern in an instant. "Actually no I don't, the Master has hostages in the basement and I checked the sewer plans, there's one just a few feet from basement wall. Now did anyone else notice how dirty some of those vamps were?"

"Yeah." Jenny shook had noticed a certain ripeness in the air when she came to think about it. "And we have had a lot of missing people who never turned up dead or vamped, what was he doing with them?"

"Farming them." Buffy saw the look of horror on the two adults' faces. "He was keeping them fed and draining them a little at a time, also there are the pets to be considered."

"Pets?" Jenny looked at the Watcher who blushed scarlet.

"Er well...what happens is...the vampires." Giles spluttered a little.

Wanting to get on with her life Buffy broke in. "If a vampire thinks you're hot, they'll keep you alive till they get bored, torture you, have sex on you, pretty much do what they like then you're drained and dead or if you're a real hit, turned. I figure that's what they had planned for you and yours."

"Oh!" Jenny had a quick mental image of what could have happened and shuddered. "Guess that's the fire option pretty much ruled out then."

"An attack in daylight would just force the vampires down into the sewers and they'd come out all over town at sunset." Giles took of his glasses and rubbed tired eyes. "An attack at night allows them to come out and fight us in the street causing more bloodshed."

"And if we attack them in such a way that they have to run outside and we're waiting..." Buffy had a plan, but she needed to clarify some things first. "Ok, you guys go find someplace to sleep...separately. I'm gonna go talk to the Mayor, get myself some animal blood for me and the boys and I'll meet you back here a couple of hours from sunset."

There was a silence in the room after she left, broken eventually by Jenny. "Separately?"

"Did Buffy know you, Ms Calendar?" Giles took in the nod. "Curious turn of phrase."

"Call me Jenny," Jenny stood up and beckoned him to follow her. "It's the least I expect from people who sleep on my sofa."

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Angel had been expecting the call, it came surprisingly just after dawn however Treat must be somewhere under cover. "Hullo homes, is your lady there?"

"No Buffy's at her Mom's house this weekend. Your associates activities in LA have landed me with some unwelcome houseguests."

"Shit vampire you got my sympathies. A fine lookin' gal like that and you not gettin' any." Angel's fingers whitened round the receiver. "But still that's none of my business, you wanna get that childe over to your place by midday today so we can make this arrangement. I get messed around much longer and the deals off."

"She'll be here." Angel slammed the phone down. "I think I'm kinda glad a Buffy who categorically doesn't like vamps is gonna be dealing with this guy. I'm very glad indeed."

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"How's the frame up going?" Buffy noted a smiling Chief of Police walking away from the Mayor and felt like puking. "Got yourself a candidate?"

"No." Wilkins gave her that irritating smile. "I think it must be the fact I'm getting all this good influence from you plus all the votes I'd lose, cause people in this town know the truth... if I turned a hero into a villain, chief's gonna set himself up a nice multiple pile up just outside of town."

"Gee which could it be goodness or votes?" Buffy noted the half smile and really didn't like the guy but then she did need him. "One question for you though."

"Fire away."

"How well do you get on with Colonel Newsome?"

Part Six

Xander parked his Chevy outside the Mansion and looked across at his passenger. She returned the look, a smile playing across her face. "You ok?"

"Yeah." Anya put her hand on top of his and squeezed it gently. "I'm just thinking how much I love you." Fear clouded her face for a second. "It is ok for me to say...?"

"Sure is." He leaned over and kissed her tenderly. "And I love you, too."

It had been different from the time with Faith, sure again a more experienced woman but this time he hadn't just gotten screwed into the mattress. Anya had taken him to places he'd never been before but hesitantly and as if she was going to them for the first time, too.

Anya felt like crying for joy as she held onto Xander. He actually loved her. After all those centuries someone had finally said those words to her. She'd had many creatures during those years before she obtained the power of the Wish, she had been used in so many different ways, some pleasurable most painful but no one had ever told her that they loved her the day after. "Thank you."

"Look," Xander drew her attention back down the drive. "Look's like we weren't the only ones got a post Buffy shock happy."

The old grey Citroen was coming up the drive with Giles and Karen riding in it. "Even the oldsters..." Xander paused at a loud ahem from his car's passenger. "What, ah well you look good for your years...ow, what was that for?"

"If you don't want another swat, Xander Harris, you shut up now. I may love you but that doesn't mean that..." And then she was silent, her mouth too busy with Xander's kiss for her to say anymore.

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"Look's like somebody may have been busy last night." Karen couldn't help but notice the passionate embrace underway in the car they parked behind. "Young love, isn't it grand?"

"Yes, er quite." Giles tried to return Karen's grin but couldn't quite manage it. "Of course technically it's not in Anya's case."

"Oh she's a teenager now, interesting baggage she's carrying granted, but in the light of what I've heard about Xander's previous encounters with the supernatural at least this one doesn't seem to want to kill him."

"You're right, I suppose she is normal now." Giles still had his worries though, just because Anyanka had lost her powers didn't rule out her ever getting them back. "I just hope everything turns out ok for him this time."

*****************************************************************************************************************************

The realization that she had her mortal daughter back had struck Joyce just as she got home from an emergency shopping trip that morning.

Finding Buffy still asleep after she got up, Joyce had gone downstairs and checked the cupboards and found not a lot of Buffy stuff. Ok sometimes her daughter liked to snack on human foo,d but she didn't have her daughter's breakfast favorites in stock anymore, that is, other than the blood.

She got into the kitchen and set the juice presser going. "Don't think like this, she isn't your daughter, she's a different Joyce's girl and you can't keep her."

"Mom." Buffy was stood in the doorway dressed in a pair of Buffy's trainers and sweat pants and shirt. "You supposed to be talking to yourself?"

"No dear, probably not." The scar on Buffy's face left her feeling like she bore that cut herself, but better that than death surely. "Are you ok? Did you sleep alright?"

"Yes" Buffy looked down. "I just hope I won't mind me borrowing these clothes."

"I'm sure you won't." Joyce was glad Buffy had changed, she figured the girl might have carried on wearing what she'd arrived in. She didn't seem to care that much about appearance. The black eyeliner worried her too, it made the girl look so hard. "Did you find something you liked easily enough?"

"Well there is a lot of leather in there." Buffy flushed but that stopped when Joyce laughed. "Your daughter sure does dress vampiric."

"I guess it's her demon." Joyce had occasionally arguments post-turning over her daughter's enhanced fashion sense. Still she had to admit for leather wear it was classy and Buffy dressed old Buffy enough for college still. The living Buffy, on the other hand, seemed happiest in sweats, not a good sign. "If you'd like to try on a dress or two I have some packed away I got her earlier in the year."

"I don't do dresses." Joyce was surprised by the vehemence of the reply and realized she'd overstepped her bounds from the way Joyce flinched. "You can't slay in a skirt."

"I see, I'm sorry, it was just a thought." Joyce turned back to her groceries. "Do you want waffles? I have fresh orange to go with them, then you can go to the Mansion for your meeting with the others."

"That would be good." Buffy hesitated over bringing up what Joyce had obviously overlooked. "And as I don't know where this place is, could you drive me there?"

"Why sure, I've always wanted an excuse to sit in on one of their meetings." Joyce went over and turned the toaster on. "Picture their faces when turn up there."

In the car over to the Mansion they talked amicably enough, but Joyce knew in her heart that whatever happened she wanted her vampiress back so very badly.

************************************************************************************************

"Can I 'ave a word with you son?" A voice said to Xander from the shadows as he entered the Mansion.

"Who me?" He nervously addressed the vetala, checking that the guy wasn't eyeing up his neck. "What about?"

"I understand you're bang up-to-date on military technology." Browne had always been annoyed that his vampirism had so precluded further military service on his part. "Though I've kept in touch as best I could, I need a bit more info about something."

"Ok if I'm in my T-guy capacity then ask away." He quickly followed Browne towards the kitchen, his friends overhearing him ask, "Does this mean I might get to blow stuff up?"

"Gee I hope that vampire doesn't get him into bad habits." Willow stood by the living room table, checking over the maps with Angel and Oz. "He has enormous destructive tendencies..." She noted the looks. "Browne that is."

"Oh we never thought you meant Xander." Giles took of his glasses and tried to hide his grin from Willow. "Honestly."

"Is Buffy coming over?" Angel checked the time on the wall clock, it was quarter past eleven. "We need her to talk to Treat."

"Yes her mother...I mean our Buffy's mother is fetching her." Giles had made the arrangement last night after the shouting had stopped. "She should be here soon."

"Remember people, treat her like Buffy." Willow put on her teacher lady voice as she spoke. "I know she's different but she's our friend, and don't stare at it."

"She's tough." Oz had the odds estimated this was gonna take more that bow and arrows. "That's good."

"I know, so's Buffy but Buffy has a sensitive side. It's just this Buffy has it buried deeper." Willow turned to Angel for support. "Arn't I right?"

"Yeah, it's all there." Angel hadn't really enjoyed his conversation with the alternate Buffy. The constant sound of her heart beat in his hypersensitive ears had haunted him for every second he stood by her. "It's just if you piss this one off, she's more likely to hit you."

"Well that's the bad guys sorted." Xander came back into the room beaming. "Browne's ringing a demon in LA owes him badly enough to risk delivering illegal stuff here in daylight and then we party."

"What are we gonna do?" Willow gave him the look. "Is it something Buffy wouldn't like?"

"Come on Xander spill." Giles was studying the map as he spoke, for some reason somebody had put circles all the way up a trail on sunset ridge. "We're all dying to know."

"Primarily because if Browne wants to be the first vamp to split the atom we'd like to be well clear." Oz's calm air as he delivered the statement did nothing to reduce the alarmed expressions on his friends' faces at the implications."Of the State."

"Claymores." Xander sat back smug in his current inside knowledge.

All eyes went to the hand and a half swords on the wall and there was a loud chorus of "Huh?!"

*****

"What has he got planned Xander?" Willow knew she couldn't even lift one of the huge swords let alone swing it. "You can't be serious..." She waved her arms about in a very un-Willow like way. "If that's the best plan you can think of then all the two of you are gonna do is get us killed."

"It's a damn good plan but Browne wants to tell you it..." He sat up startled as Willow stormed from the room. "Hey what's the problem here?" He looked around the room. "Is it me or is Will majorly tense?"

"She's worried," Oz answered unable to keep the concern out of his voice. "It's this gateway thing."

"She's got to send someone back now as well as bring people here." Giles nodded and rose to go after the redhead till he noticed the look on Oz's face. "Yes you're quite right, Willow's a big girl and won't appreciate my interfering."

"Oh she'll take all the help you can give later, it's just if you stand out there now she can't bawl Browne out properly." Oz smiled faintly as he pictured the vetala's fate. "It's not something you should see man."

"What's the plan Xander?" Angel tried hard not to growl out the challenge and failed. "Talk."

"Like that is gonna work," Xander snorted as contemptuously as he dared. "Sorry not intimidated at all."

"Xander the plan." Karen was giving him the look, ok it wasn't as scary as Buffy's but it was still there. "Tell us or else."

"Or else what?" Xander was seriously starting to enjoy this. "I've left High School so what do I get detention, let me remind you that Giles honey that you may be you are not the Principal of me."

"He is right Karen," Giles smiled at his aforementioned honey. "And he never had any respect for authority when he was there."

"Hey I resent that," Xander began before Anya grabbed his hand and began to pull him towards the garden.

"I'd like to put a proposition to you outside Xander," She explained. "Care to hear it?"

"O....k." A variety of images ran through Xander's mind as he let himself be dragged. "That sounds like fun."

**********************************************************************************************************************************

Willow found her vampire in seconds, being so old-fashioned he had no cellular and so was using the hall phone. She didn't bother listening in she just snatched the list he was reading from him and walked away with it.

"Oiii!" The Vetala hissed covering the mouthpiece. "Give us that back 'ere Missie this instant, do I...."

He saw the angry expression she had on her face and suddenly remembered about the black arts. "Alright I'll go from memory then."

Willow read, or tried to read, the scrawl Browne called hand writing. *Twenty pounds C4, six hundred meters of det cord, fifteen detonators, fifteen trigger mechanisms, one thousand five hundred ball bearings.* The list went on but she'd read enough.

"Buffy really wouldn't like this!"

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"So what's the proposition?" Xander said trying not to drool to badly. "Is it something we can do this close to our friends?"

Anya leaned forward to give Xander a glimpse of cleavage. "Alexander, do you remember that thing I did that made you cum so hard you nearly fainted?"

Xander nodded vigorously, about to ask what she had in mind, when what she had in mind hit him. "Could I just check this is a bribery thing isn't it?"

"Sorry no it's blackmail." Anya smiled at his sweetly enough but he knew a demoness when he saw one. "Tell me the plan or I'll never do that to you ever again."

"Oh right I see," Xander thought for a second and then went on. "Well the plan is..."

*******************************************************************************************************************************

"You know I think splitting the atom might not be to far from the truth," Willow stormed back in and handed the list to Giles. "Bomb making equipment, I don't know what he has planned but it's not stuff we should be doing."

"Plastic explosives?" Giles stood up and walked towards the door. "Ball bearings, what on earth is that creature up to now?"

"Claymore mines." Anya said from the doorway. "Browne intends to have the vamps walk up into an ambush and blow them to hell."

"Mines!" Xander standing in the doorway suddenly found a Watcher in his face. "Have you lost your sanity, you intend to plant mines in Sunnydale, anyone might stumble onto them!"

"As if I'd want to have to lift mines that Browne had built if the vamps didn't tread on them." Xander though the plan sounded great if the alternative was having to face down vamps armed with kalashnikovs with weapons that had gone out of fashion several hundred years before. "They're command detonated, you face them towards your enemy and when he steps into the blast zone press a trigger mechanism and boom, then all you have to do is pick off the ones who don't combust on the spot."

"This isn't us, Xander." Willow made no effort to keep the disappointment from her voice. "There has to be another way."

"And there is Red." Browne had crept in without anyone but Angel hearing. "You and Oz joint crewin' an M-60 whilst the rest of us fire and maneuver with assault rifles and hand-grenades. It's not us, fuck it luv do you wanna die young and pretty, cause these blokes arn't nice people and they'll kill you if you give em a seconds chance. So we take em down the same way."

"But Buffy..." Willow began.

"Wouldn't necessarily turn this plan down." Angel's comment brought a look of stunned surprise to the faces of both Xander and James. "I know it's not our usual methods but this isn't a usual problem, so we'll ask her what she thinks and go with her decision." He looked across at Willow and gave her a half smile. "After all, thanks to you Will, there is a new Slayer in town."



Part Seven



Buffy paused at the door of the Alibi, intrigued by the sounds of hammering from within the bar. "Don't tell me the guy's in trouble again." She walked inside expecting violence and was not exactly worried about the prospect of giving some vamp a bad time.

Instead however she found the Snitch siting at his leisure, a cup of coffee beside him, as four men in Sunnydale town works department overalls fixed the floor behind his bar. Her raised eyebrows were met with a smile from the bar-owner who pointed to a chair across the table from him. "Take your ease, Slayer, and help me watch these guys doing this free work."

"Ok so what the hell's happening?" Buffy took in the happy face of the Snitch and felt the guilt over what she had done in her own Sunnydale return once more. "You got something on the Mayor I don't know about?"

"No I never managed to find anything on him at all, which considering he's a politician is kinda worrying, but hell he sure is a generous guy." Willy held up his bandaged hand and sighed happily. "Fixed my floor, compensated me for injuries sustained and paid me back the two thousand five hundred dollars you stole."

"What two thousand five..." Buffy took in the look of help me out and I'll cut you in that Willy was throwing her. "Oh that two thousand five hundred dollars. Plus the fact I bought that blood from you makes for quite a score."

"I can afford generosity kid." Willy motioned with his head towards the back room. "Step into my parlour."

"Don't mind if I do." Despite odd glances from the workmen, she followed him into the back. "Six bags please."

"You can have these on the house, though to be honest they may be the last." Willy hastily loaded a carrier bag. "You should have seen the way the butchers were looking at me this morning."

"You need a cover story stat." Despite a certain desire to see Willy kicking on the end of a rope, Buffy also felt some guilt-induced sympathy. "Try getting a sausage machine, some skins and a supply of blood sausage from out of town, stick it on your menu and voila. Other that the hygiene inspector closing you down, your problems are solved."

"Doesn't help my rep as a friend to the undead though does it?" Willy looked uncomfortable. "Which I gotta admit is true."

"There are a lot of people in this town who have reason to be guilty, and though all they did was look the other way rather than fight it doesn't mean they're better than you, Willy." She took the carrier bag from him. "You own a crossbow?"

"Yeah." He frowned and then shook his head at the implication. "Now Slayer don't get me wrong I'm no coward but fighting the undead...so isn't my line of work, you know, a drink, a little banter..."

"You wanna stay alive?" The Snitch nodded. "You don't have to be near the front, stand well back and shout encouragement, fire over the vampires' heads if you have to, but get the rep as a guy who helped this town, live and eventually the hellmouth will get back to normal and you'll get your nice safe 'not killing people on or near the premises' custom back." Buffy shrugged. "And in the mean time, you'll still have the scumbags who think the Fish Tank's too loud and trashy to live on."

"You're right, Slayer, I have to be more philosophical about this place." He held up the hand again flashing the broken digit. "I'm gonna forgive you over this, just ask if you need any help"

"Thank you," responded a startled Slayer, was it secretly possible that Willy was actually a decent guy...no, no decent guy would voluntarily try to operate a business like his in a town full of vamps. But that didn't make him scum either. She remembered the scream of fear and pain she'd heard when she'd raised the hammer the second time and found it hard to repress a shudder. "I appreciate it a lot."

The demoness stirred in her head, sniggering at the memory of the ecstacy it had felt and pining for more. *Laugh it up bitch I may have a way to send you screaming back to hell.*

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Colonel Newsome didn't really like the Mayor, he considered the man not only to be to clever for his own good but also a useless leader to have allowed things to have gotten to the straits they had in Sunnydale. So to have him sitting across the desk from him now was not a pleasing sight.

Of course members of the 33rd had been lost when the Master rose, but the regiment had never retreated from a position it held without orders. Newsome had kept that record intact and his men for the most part, too. He didn't intend that to change now.

Wilkins studied the walls of the office as Newsome read the list he had passed to him. West Point graduation, he had considered that option in his youth but gone to Harvard instead. Other photos charted a young man growing older and there were more of the 33rd last two deployments abroad first Iraq and then more recently Bosnia but neither had been as bloody as the years the regiment had spent in Sunnydale.

There were paintings, too, the brass plaques underneath spoke of trials long ago. Gettysburgh, the Wilderness, the Meuse-Argonne and D-Day. He smiled as he remembered his own time in a uniform, still not fully aware of his powers he had enlisted to fight Spain in 1898 and it had been in Cuba that the truth had come to him and the knowledge of La Boca Del Inferno and the concept of Sunnydale had been born.

Though he had only been a Second Lieutenant of volunteers, Wilkins could see that a siege mentality had overcome the soldiers here, the cross welded to every panel of the fence showed that. As did the cloves of garlic that the Colonel was wearing round his neck despite the daylight outside.

Granted though the Master's only major defeat before the last two nights had been handed to him by this man. A month after rising, the Master had rammed vehicles through the fence and sent his minions streaming through only to discover what the new watch towers Newsome had created were for.

The searchlights were never normally turned on for a reason...they only beamed out ultra violet light.

A routed group of blistered vampires later a mutual unspoken understanding was reached, Sunnydale's vamps wouldn't set foot near the base and Newsome wouldn't come after the Master without orders that the Pentagon was very unlikely to give. So if nobody local ever asked Newsome for help he was safe and sound behind his barricades.

Wilkins needed to change that. "Well Colonel can I have your answer?"

"I'm sorry sir but there is no way that I can release those systems without orders, or the men." Newsome put the list back on the desk and fielded his best excuses. "I would suggest you ask the State Governor to release a National Guard unit to you authority. I have as stated no powers to intervene in this matter without Federal government orders."

"Harry this town doesn't have a National Guard unit and you know why." Most of the civilians knew subliminally that if they chose to stay here they had more important things to worry about than foreign enemies. "If you don't help me then a lot more people will die than have to. I'm telling you sir that we intend to take the Master down, doesn't that mean anything to you?"

"I cannot justify expenditure of lives on such a project, though I may see my way clear to releasing certain supplies to you, but not men or munitions." He saw the look of disgust on Wilkins' face. "I believe that's generous sir, alternately phone Washington and the Defense Secretary."

"We both know that the Federal government knows what's happening here, but they won't send you orders." Wilkins usual good humour was deserting him and his voice rose. "The panic such a revelation would provoke would be to great, but I must ask you a question Colonel, one you won't like."

"Ask away." Newsome steeled himself for what was coming. "I'm listening."

"Has your Regiment lost it's pride, it's honour?" Wilkins raised hand stopped the Colonel's immediate reaction. "The pride that sent in twelve times against the stone wall at Fredericksburg, stopped it's retreat at Kasserine from becoming a rout and led it to victory on a two dozen fields of battle in the wars of this century, are you going to cower here like dogs while other men fight this evil?"

"Richard..." Newsome's cheeks began to redden. "I think that there's no reason..."

"Those boys of yours will get the best crossbows money can buy." The weapons were already on their way by air at great expense. "And if those vehicles get even the faintest hint of a scratch I'll pay for a re-spray."

"When the Master first rose." Angrier now, Newsome stood up his fatigues were creased, he slept in them the faster to get to his men's aid in the event of an attack. "I offered to take my men in there with flame throwers and destroy those vermin but you turned me down, and every offer I've made since got the same response. Why now?"

*Cause I was going to ascend and the Master would have been just one rather dusty mouthful.* Wilkins shook his head at that shattered dream. "Three nights ago the Slayer arrived Colonel, she is the most inspirational person I have ever met and she leading our people." Wilkins stood up, too, face just inches from Newsome's "That's our people, Colonel! Against the Master tonight! I've promised her all the support I can grant her, will you break my promise?"

The Colonel turned away and looked out of the office window as a company of his soldiers jogged passed. A regiment permanently confined to barracks, what a life for them. Then there were the drives through town in daylight, the sight of all the boarded up homes tore at his heart. "Alright Wilkins, you can have your men and the other stuff."

"Thank you, Harry." The Mayor felt the urge to cheer but repressed it at the cold look the soldier threw him. *Guess he knows me well enough, still when I do write the Secretary of Defense it'll be a letter of commendation good enough to get our Colonel his first star.*

"When the boys go out, Richard, I'm going with them." Newsome said it like a challenge and wasn't expecting the broad grin he got in response."Something funny?"

"No sir." Wilkins extended his hand, germs temporarily forgotten."I'm going out with mine, you want to shake on this comrade in arms to be?"


Continued

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