Notes: 2 years have passed.


Xander looked across the room, shaking his head.  Something was very wrong and he still couldn't get a feed from the stupid wire.  He was listening as hard as he could but all he could hear was breathing.  Goemon was somewhere in there and his lack of talking was upsetting some of them.  He finally heard a sigh and a soft mumble.  "Louder, dude."  He winced as a loud 'clang' happened in his ear, turning back down the sensitivity on the microphone, listening as the guard came in with water for him.  Someone else said something from the hall, something about another prisoner.  This was the first they had heard about this.  He raised his hand, making a note when Lupin came over to see what was wrong.  Goemon was saying something, threatening the person in front of him.  He winced when he found out he didn't have his sword, making a note of that as well. He glanced but Fujiko wasn't in the room so he pulled the headphone plug and inserted a speaker one instead.  Goemon's calm voice came out.  He sounded tired.  Considering he had been up for three days straight it wasn't surprising.  The guard said something about the other prisoner again, then left him alone, the door clanging loudly in the speakers.  Goemon mumbled something else.  "I'm not sure he wants us to hear that," Xander told him.  "He's done that twice now."  He looked at Lupin.  "All I make out are the kids' and her names."

Lupin nodded, patting the younger man on the back.  His hair was starting to go grey now and it was a little less thick, but he still ran his hands through it.  "He sounds injured," he noted.  Xander switched back, robbing them of the breathing sounds.  He looked back at Xander, who nodded at the balcony of their room.  "Thanks."  He walked out, dragging Fujiko inside.  "He was just threatening some guards," he told her.  She broke out in a smile.  "They've got other hostages.  We still haven't heard anything yet."

"Why isn't he cutting himself out?" she demanded lightly.

"Because he doesn't have his sword," Lupin told her, making her glare at Xander.  "It's not his fault.  All we know is that the guy wants him, not why."

Xander, not the most patient of creatures ever created, stood up.  "Then let's go find out.  Shall we?"

Jigen shook his head.  "Not yet.  He's making the rules and he could get upset if we break them."  Xander frowned at him.  "He said tonight."

"And I'm sure he expects us then," Xander told him.  "For all that he told me to come alone."  He looked at Lupin.  "If we go now, or at least start making a plan now, then maybe we'll have something better to do then than wait."

"We need to know the layout," Fujiko told him.  "Would this guy have Goemon's sword somewhere?"

"Probably in his hand," Xander told her.  "He seems like the arrogant sort."  He crossed his arms.  "If he has been up for three days, we're going to need someone who can use the thing.  Can you?"  She shook her head, looking away.  "Lupin?"

"Somewhat," he admitted.  "The same as you can, Xander.  Calm down, we're working on it."  Someone knocked on the door and he waved Xander to get it.  If it was a messenger he'd have to take the message anyway.  The creatures this guy sent didn't seem to see anyone else.

Xander walked over, opening the door.  "Oh, the plot just got thicker," he said, letting in Dawn and Zenigata, along with one of his people.  "Who do they have of yours?"

"Ray," she said, frowning at him.  "Goemon?"  He nodded.  "Fuck."  Myron Banks blushed and stepped away from her.  "Lupin, plan?" she demanded.

"Let's share information first," Zenigata said firmly, stopping her.  She was still too apt to jump into situations without looking.  He and Lupin shared a look, then shook their heads.  They hated it when they had to work together.  "A letter," he said, tossing it over to Jigen.  "From my boss to yours."  He looked at Lupin.  "He took Ray yesterday.  They're both injured?"  Lupin nodded.  Fujiko's breath caught.  "Sit."  He sat Dawn down, handcuffing her to his side.  A futile gesture but he should be able to feel her picking the locks and stop her from rushing off.  "He took Ray last night.  Got him on the street, shot him in the shoulder."

"We think Goemon's got one in his side," Jigen told him, handing over the letter he had just finished.  "She wants to spoil our fun."  Zenigata groaned.  "Didn't read it?"

"It wasn't my place to."  He looked at Xander, raising an eyebrow.  "You're going to vibrate through the floor.  Sit."

Xander gave him a scowl, going back to his listening.  He smiled and gave Fujiko the headphones.  He was talking about her now.  A feverish ranting sort but she would appreciate it.  She sat there, hands clutching them tightly.  "He's infected.  It sounds like a fever rant."

"Fine, we'll go early," Lupin agreed, looking at him.  Xander nodded, he could hold onto his violent urges until then.  He looked at Dawn, then smirked at her.  Her old man was still handcuffed to her but she was pulling a lock pick with her cuffed hand.  He read the letter, frowning.  "They're going to what?"  He looked up, looking disgusted.  "Where's the fun in that?"

"I think that's the point," Dawn said, scowling when Myron took the lock pick from her, then pulled her up to pat her down, taking them all from her.  "Meanie."

"Every day.  This time we work as a team, Dawn, not as backup when you need us.  Ray is one of us, not just your near-big brother."  He glanced at Xander, who was giving Dawn a look.

Dawn shrugged at him.  "He's neat.  It's like talking with the goofy, normal you sometimes."

"Hey, I like Ray and Myron.  I'm happy that they like you enough to fuss," Xander told her.  He looked at Myron.  "If something ever happens to me, you and Ray get custody of her.  Her husband can soothe her depression but you guys get to take my spot."

"Of course," he agreed, looking at him.  "Are we expecting it?"

"We never expect it, but I have been hurt in the past," Xander told him.  He looked at the letter, frowning as he read it sideways.  "They're doing what?"  He took it to read, shaking his head.  "Idiots."  He handed it back.  "I don't care if they do take us off the list, we can always put ourselves back on there."

"They'll ignore it," Dawn told him.  "She said so.  This new one's a psych major."  He shuddered.  "This is her way of discouraging you, to take away all your notoriety.  To take you off the list and publically announce it was because you guys have done so much of their work for them."  The whole group shuddered, even Fujiko.  "The only people higher on the universal shit list is a terrorist and she said if you wanted to take him out, she'd be really thankful," she noted.  "But otherwise you guys are forever on her good side."

"Damn it," Lupin sighed, shaking his head.  "That'll just make it harder on the little fourth to do the work."

"By the time she's old enough, there will a person in the job who believes crooks should be locked up," Zenigata said firmly. "She's only four and a half."  He looked at Lavelle.  "Why does he want you and Dawn?"

"Thus proves the Sunnydale axiom 'if you haven't seen someone in a while, there's a plan in place'," Xander announced.  "Sunnydale occurrences?" he asked her.  She nodded.  "The Key?"  She nodded again.  "Think or know?"

"Pretty sure it's related," Dawn admitted.  "You're a power store, I'm a power store.  You notice he didn't call for Marcus or Ethan. He probably wants me and figures you can transfer it into him."

"Interesting as this is," Jigen noted, "he's not into that."

"Sure, because his messengers haven't been zombies," Dawn told him.  He looked stunned.  "I'm surprised we haven't seen them being deheaded by Xander yet."  She leaned back, finally getting her wrist free.  Her husband took the paperclip from her and recuffed her.  "I'm not running off."

"Sure you're not," he snorted.

"Because you didn't already try that once this morning," Myron agreed dryly.

"Twice," Zenigata told him.  "That's why we're here.  She knew they were here, we followed her."  He looked at Lupin again.  "Plans?" he asked.

"Standard," he admitted.  "Go in, kick his ass."  He looked at Xander and Dawn.  "Let them go in alone for now."  Zenigata shook his head.  "They won't hurt her."

"I know they won't, because we'll be there behind her," Myron told him.  "We don't let our people out without backup."

"Backup, that's a nice thought," Xander said, looking up.  "Ethan?  Can you please yank Marcus' leash?" he called.  Marcus appeared a moment later, buttoning his jeans up.  "Morning," he said dryly.  "Phone still broken?"  He nodded.

"Who has the kids?" Lupin asked.

"Dawn's nanny," Marcus said, looking at him.  "What's wrong?"  He shook his head and pulled something out of his pocket, handing it over.  "Here, from Ethan.  He said he thought you would have called sooner when you realized the man was calling zombies as slaves."

"I was hoping he was one too," Xander noted, reading the short note.  He went to look him up on the 'who's-who' website. "Got our slime," he admitted.  He backed away, letting everyone else see it.  He looked at Jigen, who held up Myron's handcuffs.  "Fine.  Not moving."  He stood there, considering his options.  This guy was smug, he was arrogant.  He was in the way. He was also ill.  He looked at Dawn, who was out of her handcuff to her husband but now cuffed to the couch.  "He's sick," he told her.  She looked thoughtful, then shook her head.  "Not the reason?"

"Not the reason," she agreed.  "He wants to go out with a bang?"

Xander shook his head.  "Doesn't fit.  Declare himself a higher being?"

She grimaced.  "Thinks that if he's a higher being, he won't be sick?  He'll be immortal?"

"Probably," he agreed, that made the most sense to him.  "Someone needs to find out why the seventies created so many egomaniacs."  He sat down, thinking out his plans for the night.  He caught Dawn's eye and she rolled hers.  He smirked slightly at her.  She blinked.  They'd be going in first. He went back to his planning, Dawn let him plan when it was the two of them.  He knew what he was going to do, something bold, yet stupid.  Walk right up to him.  Be the best diversion he could.  He glanced around, finding Jigen watching him.  He smiled and licked his lips, making the other man shake his head.  As soon as his back was turned, he and Dawn left, going on their own.

"That was faster than I thought," Lupin noted.  He looked at Zenigata.  "I'm assuming you know where he is."

"It's a fortress.  The old one outside of town."

"Marcus, if you wouldn't mind," Jigen ordered, picking up his extra bullets.

"Of course.  Anything to spare my mentor a possible death."  He concentrated hard on the portal spell he had learned so long ago.  He couldn't read very well now and hadn't been able to study magic since his head injury.  He could use what he already knew or what someone told him verbally, but he could no longer pick up new spells from the books without getting a brain-altering headache.  Fortunately, he had learned the portal spell a long time ago to get out of his former caretaker's house.  He concentrated on the pictures Myron had of the courtyard, creating a portal to there.  "There are guards," he announced.  Jigen and Myron moved up to take point and Marcus pulled his sword and gun, just in case.  They stepped through and the fight was on.


Xander and Dawn landed where the asshole had told them to, walking down the hallway.  Dawn looked up at the high ceilings.  "Damn idiot took over a palace," she snorted.

"It probably suited his ego," Xander pointed out.  He opened the door for her, letting her inside.  "After you, my darling little sister."  She swatted at him but walked in, taking point.  He could kill from behind her, she would duck.  He followed her down this hallway, feeling the wrongness growing.  "I think we got it backwards," he noted.  She glanced at him.  "Switch the roles."  She stepped back, letting him take point.  He walked into the throne room first, giving the man sitting on the throne a bored look.  "You wanted to speak with us?"

"Yes, I did," he agreed, smiling at them.  He pulled out Goemon's sword and Ray's gun.  "You give me what I want and I give you them."

"Then I'd be bringing them out," Dawn told him.  "We don't negotiate with idiots who hide what's ours."

He snapped his fingers.  "Bring them," he ordered one of his minions.  He stood up, walking down to stand near them.  "I want what this one has," he said, pointing at Xander.

"My bank accounts?" Xander asked.  The man gave him a look.  "Oh, you want my gun," he said, pulling it.  "This one or one of my others?"  He pulled a second one.  "Like this one?"

The man snorted.  "No, young man, I want your gifts.  The ones your consort left in you.  That way I can start my own ascension."

Xander put back up one of his guns.  "Tough."  The man gaped at him.  "It's not like I can *hand* it to you.  Half of it's etched onto my skin."

"I've heard of those," he admitted.  "I don't want those. I want the raw power and the knowledge you carry about Hell's minions.  I will make them mine."

"I seriously doubt it," Dawn told him.  "What could he possibly know that would help you?"

"He knows the name of the Most Unholy."  Xander looked at him like he was insane.  "It was whispered into your ear, young man.  That is what caused you to take so much damage."  He reached over to play with a strand of silver hair.  "What caused this while he was raping you."  Dawn looked at Xander so he let the hair go.  "Wasn't it?"

Xander shook his head.  "No."  The man looked stunned.  "I had silver hair long before he butted in."  He shrugged and gave him a look.  "Anything else?  Demands up front and then we'll check on the condition of your hostages.  The more hurt Goemon is, the worse of a mood I'll be in to bargain."

He nodded.  "Fair enough."  He went to bring in the hostages, sitting them on their knees beside his throne.  "Look them over."  He watched Dawn.  "Not you.  Him, Key."  She raised an eyebrow.  "Yes, I do know. It is very apparent to some of us.  Unfortunately, you are of no use to me except as a filtering and exchange service."  He looked her over.  "Though you are very pretty in your own White way."

She snorted. "Fat lot you know."  She looked at Goemon, catching his eye.  She called his sword over to her, catching it in her hand.  She pulled it, looking it over.  "Wow.  You dinged it."  She looked at him. "Figured it doesn't work with someone who doesn't know?"  She walked it over to its owner, handing it over.  "Here, yours," she said softly.  "They're coming."  He nodded so she looked at Ray and gave him a grin.  "Weird stuff coming."

"Hey, fine.  I'm used ta weird around you," he said weakly.  He coughed.  "Doctors coming too?"

"Damn it, I hope so," she admitted.  "'Cause I don't know why I can't heal you."  She patted Xander on the back, catching his eye.  "Xan?" she asked quietly.  He gave her a small smile.  Then he turned and walked back to the man's side, leaving her there.  "We'll do whatever we have to," she promised. She walked back to Xander's side.  Until everyone else got there, she was his backup.

Xander looked at him.  "You don't touch them ever again," Xander said quietly.  The man crowed.  "Not to change them like you did your messengers, nothing."  The man nodded.  "Good.  Then let their friends come in and get them.  Otherwise you're going to be sucking my energy out of their bodies after *I* heal them."   The man laughed, smiling and waving at his minions to drag the hostages out to where the gunfire was.  Xander looked at Dawn, who was scowling.  "Now, precious.  Give him exactly what he wants."  She shook her head.  "I mean it, Dawn, exactly what he wants and nothing more."

She frowned but had to trust him.  She knew he had a plan.  She had no idea what it was, but she knew he had a plan.  She laid a hand on his chest, feeling the hiding pendant come undone under her hand.  She looked up at him, eyes wide, and he smirked.  "Xander," she whispered.  He gave her a kiss.  "Fine."  She took the idiot's hand, starting the power transfer.  The knowledge took a little longer, then the man stepped back, screaming as his skin ripped open.  She got out of the way, she was still a fragile human.   She found his necklace in her hand and looked at him, turning away from him.

Xander calmly took off his jacket and shirt, making the demon flinch.  "Come on," he said.  "You're mine now.  Before you can unleash yourself, you just made yourself my legal target."  The demon chuckled and lunged forward, trying to hit him.  Xander was fighting hard, taking the demon on.  Then suddenly, his pants were left when he shifted himself, making the demon roar in outrage and turn to face him.  Xander's back was to him and he was howling in pain, holding his eyes.  "You should know what you ask for before you ask," Xander said, turning to look at him.  "You really should."  He kicked the demon, making it look at him.  "Look at me," he ordered, compelling him.  The demon groaned, eyes bleeding now.  "See me," he hissed, stepping closer.  The demon's eyes were drawn to the marks on his chest.  There was nothing that could stop that.  The demon batted at him, getting him in the head with his fist, but it wouldn't save him.  The tattoos marked on his body were set in a certain way, guaranteed to draw the demon's eyes to the final one on his left hip, where his pants waistband would have hit.  He screamed and flailed around desperately, hitting Xander's limp body again before falling down, bleeding from his eyes and ears.

Dawn came rushing over, holding Xander's head gently.  "Xan? Come on, Xan, wake up," she pleaded.  She tried to heal him but her powers weren't working.  This place was going to make her hurt soon, it was too dark.  She put her jacket on him and drug him out to the courtyard.  The zombies screamed and ran off, in pain from his markings.  "The demon got him.  Marcus, demon, make sure it's dead," she ordered.  He ran back that way, going to make sure of it.  She looked at Jigen and Lupin, both of whom looked stunned.  "He took two good blows to the head."

"How?" Jigen asked.

"He made him vulnerable by giving him what he wanted," she said bitterly.  "Once he became a demon, it was easier to kill him."

Lupin looked at the marks.  "What do they do, Dawn?"

"They're marks to kill, compel, or hurt demons," she said quietly.  "They've been there since before he got back."  Jigen nodded, he had seen them.  Marcus came back. "Is it dead?"

"Fully," he agreed.  He got down to check Xander, shaking his head.  "I can't heal him."

"I couldn't in there.  It's too corrupt."  She knelt beside him, trying to work on him again.  She could feel the energy drain and plugged it, stabilizing him.  Then she looked up again.  "He'll live.  I'm hoping he wakes up."  Her breath caught as Xander's energy started to flow again, he was fighting her.  She traced it to Goemon, making her hit him.  "I can fucking well do that, Xander, let me!"  He went limp and Goemon screamed in pain, grabbing his injury.   She walked over to check him, finding it healing.  "It'll be fine," she promised.  She checked Ray's, his was much the same.  Then she went to break Xander away from the energy.  Marcus was already working to do so, but she was stronger.  She ripped his connections to it, falling to her knees, panting hard.  "Stupid asshole."

"Him or the thing in there?" Marcus asked, giving her a look.  "You had to know he was going to do that."  She glared at him.  "He *is* Xander Harris, Dawn.  You should have realized that from the start."  He picked the young man up, wincing at his weight.  "I believe we should adjourn to somewhere that has medical facilities," he suggested blandly.  "Head injuries are notoriously tricky and they are still running high fevers."  He created a portal, heading Xander back through to his favorite private hospital.  They liked him there.  "He was knocked in the head," he told the nurse.  "Twice.  By something with fists the size of your average compact car."  She got him onto a gurney and Marcus leaned against the side.  "Those marks are very old," he said.  She nodded, marking them down.  Dawn walked through, handing over his hiding necklace.  "This conceals them."  He put it on the boy and the marks disappeared.  The nurse looked at him, mouth open to say something.  "Think about the boy," he said dryly, turning away to help with the others.  Lupin and Jigen had Goemon, Myron had Ray.  "Plus, they're being healed from a gunshot wound each," he told her.

She rolled her eyes.  "Do you not ever have easy problems?" she snapped in imperfect english, going to get some help.  They were a small, private clinic, they didn't staff a full emergency department.  A surgical one, but not an emergency one.

Lupin grabbed Marcus by the arm, leading him away.  "Explanations," he ordered calmly.

Marcus winced, shaking his head.  "I cannot.  I promised."  Lupin scowled.  "You'll have to ask either Xander or Dawn."

Jigen came over.  "Let me guess, he's went back to his roots?" he asked with mock- sweetness.  Marcus gave him a look.  "Both of them?" he asked flatly.  Marcus nodded.  "Fucking hell.  Dawn!"  She jumped, giving him a guilty look.  "Does your husband know what you do when you take those sudden vacations?"

"Um," she said, edging away from her people.  "Hopefully not."  Her husband looked at her.  "So we've found a few things that needed slayed," she said with a shrug.  "It's helping the good fight."  She backed away from more, but her husband caught her, making her look at him.  "I'm sorry, but it was necessary.  My sister has all the younger ones over there.  There aren't any in Europe at all right now," she said honestly.  "I had to.  So did Xander."  She nodded and he scowled, a look only Lupin usually received.  "I was very safe.  We had Marcus going through the databases and everything," she offered.  "The whole vampire army in Sweden is gone now," she tried.  He growled.  She swallowed.  "I *had* to," she reminded him.  "We're it here."

He shook his head.  "You could have asked for some help, Dawn.  You are not alone in that duty.  There are people who are *supposed* to be doing that sort of thing.  You are not."

"Gee, now you're sounding like the sister," she said bitterly, getting free of his restricting hand.  "You want to know what I've taken on?  I took out the vampire army in Sweden.  I took out the one building in Japan under the guise of a cult.  I took out half of the underground in Paris, collapsed it totally so there's only a few solo ones, no more family groups, and only a small cult building.  I took out the ones in Moscow as well, most of them died running from me," she said, staring into his eyes, her own burning pits of rage.  "I am not, nor have I ever been, a helpless little woman, Zenny.  You'd better get used to it right the fuck now.  Yes, I've done more than Xander has.  He had a real job, something that takes up his time.  He did them as they came up for the most part.  It's amazing, the Don in Istanbul thanked him for cleaning up her problems for her last year.  Promised him *anything* for doing so.  Moscow's Don said the same thing to me.  The one that the other families listen to, the old guy in the wheelchair who wants to be Hitchcock."  He went pale.  "Somebody had to and my sister, the bitch, has all the juniors over there to train.  The US is *uber* covered and Europe and Asia have had me and Xan.  And guess what?  If he survives this and is better in time, we're going to Carnival this year in Rio.  There's supposed to be a powerful uprising and no one seems to care that the world isn't being protected.  Hello, are you going to hunt with me?"

"If you had asked," he said bitterly.  "I'm not that old."

"No, you're not, but you're needed in ways I'm not."

He grabbed her again, this time by the shoulders.  "And our children?" he hissed.  "Do you think they don't need you?"

"They have you, the world has *no one*," she countered.  "Hell, even Ethan and Faith have said that it was necessary since she got so badly injured and didn't healed right."  She got free of him again, stepping back so she could cross her arms.  "You wanna know what restarted this?  One coming up to our door *expecting* to be let in.  The herd is thick in Western Europe and if there's only two hunters, it helps some.  Especially when they're very good hunters.  I've already gotten a paranormal kill ratio beyond what my sister had in her prime.  For that matter, who do you think has been teaching Little Tara how to hunt?"  His mouth fell open. "That's right, me and Xander.  Mostly him recently, but sometimes me.  She's taken to it like you wouldn't believe, and knows it's necessary without enjoying it.  Now, you can accept, you can bitch me out *later*, or you can walk away now and come back when you're ready to yell.  Your choice."  She turned, heading in to check on Ray.

Zenigata glared at the doorway, then at Myron when he got between them.  "Did you know?" he asked coldly.

"I caught her staking one but she swore it wasn't a habit," he admitted gently.  "You need to talk to her, boss.  She'll walk away.  You'll go home and find her and the kids on a sudden vacation."  Zenigata pushed past him, going in there to fight with his wife some more.  "Dawn hates to fight with him," he explained blandly.  "The same way Xander refuses to fight with you two."

"Marcus," Jigen asked, sounding smooth and calm.  "Give."  He turned but Marcus was no longer there. "Ethan," he snapped.  A file appeared at his feet, complete with pictures. "Thank you."  He picked it up with a small groan for the pain in his back, looking through them.  "How long has this been going on?" he demanded.

Lupin looked over his shoulder, pointing at something.  "That was either three years ago or last month.  We weren't there then and he hasn't taken a long vacation recently."  He took the folder, flipping through it faster.  It was very telling, especially when the last note was file 3 of 5.  He looked up.  "The rest?" he demanded.  More files fell at their feet, letting them see what their lover has been up to.  "Fucking hell," he said in awe.  Xander had never stopped hunting it looked like.

Ethan appeared with a tired sigh.  "He's had to now and then," he admitted.  "He didn't start hunting for real until a year ago.  When a vampire had the audacity to step up to him on a street during his watch and demand that he blow him before he killed him."  He looked toward Xander's room, then at the worried lovers.  "Dawn was quite correct, there is no one in this part of the world.  Miss Summers has all of them with her.  The vampire to human ratio in Paris is 1:47.  When you first took on Xander, it was 1:250 or so."  They winced.  "The vampires were winning everywhere but in the United States.  I and Faith have aided and abetted them as needed.  As has Ripper.   Before it was something he had to do now and then, now it's become a calling.  He *has* to because it's either him, Dawn, or a child."  Lupin let the files fall from his fingers.  "That's why his ribs were bruised last month."

"He didn't say anything about that," Jigen told him.  "We would have noticed."

"Would you have?" Ethan asked.  "That would depend on him not having them treated, wouldn't it?"  He gave him a look, then a tired smile.  "Xander is magnificent when he's fighting.  Both for you and against the paranormal. Speaking of, he also seems to have picked up the nasty habit of cleaning out paranormal treasures and hiding them.  He's only let you see part of them."

"He's been keeping it from us," Lupin said in awe.  Xander wasn't that sneaky.

"No, he's been keeping things best left far away from other humans away from everybody.  He told me once he was going to suggest you two help him if and when you ever retired to destroy or remake some of them. "

"Remake?" Lupin asked.

"Melt them down, pry off the stones, such things," he admitted.  "Turn them into something useful somehow."  He shrugged. "I have no idea.  I have not understood anything since Ripper was turned last year by Spike."  They shuddered.  "I believe he staked him rather quickly at that, taking my planned torture, but he did it out of remaining feeling for Ripper."  He shrugged, giving them a lopsided grimace.  "He is who he always was.  People are safer because he exists."  He walked in to look down at Xander, plugging the energy leak he could feel. "If you quit, I'll go help them," he whispered in his ear.  "But you've got to stop.  Unless you want to spend a symmetrical amount of time in a coma as you spent in Hell."  Xander sighed and shifted, quitting.  "Thank you."  He walked to the next bed, laying a hand on Ray's shoulder.  "Relax, it will hurt," he noted, healing the gunshot wound and cleaning it out.  "This way Xander doesn't have to.  It will make sure he wakes up sooner."   He went to the other one, looking down at him.  Then he looked in the hallway.  "This is going to be one hell of a fight.  Are you going to get in the middle?" he asked as he healed his side.

Goemon grimaced, wincing as his flesh heated up. "I owe the boy my life a few times."  His eyes closed as he felt the magic removing the taint he could feel spreading throughout his cell from his body.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  As I told the other stubborn one, Xander would die doing it otherwise."  He walked out, heading home to report and soothe Marcus.  "I healed him," he noted.  The boy gave him an adoring look.  "Xander was still trying to.  His powers from Hell are going to be a bit weaker soon."  He flopped down, putting his feet up.  "Marcus, get me some tea, dear.  Now."  Marcus nodded, heading to do that for him.  "Thank you."  He took a long sip, giving him a smile.  "Chamomile, perfect," he praised, giving him a smile. "Go help them.  They'll need someone to keep their tempers in check."

"The older two will go drinking tonight," he noted, sitting at Ethan's feet.  "That is what they do when they are mad at Xander these days.  Dawn will be lucky if she isn't chained to her bed for the rest of her natural life.  Her husband is feeling very hurt because he feels she doesn't trust him.  Also because she said she doesn't have a real job, but that won't occur to him until later I believe."  He leaned forward, giving him a hug.  "Shall I go take watch at Xander's bedside, Ethan?"

"Please," he agreed with a small smile.  "They'll be sending everyone else away soon and you know how Lotus can be about her uncle."  Marcus nodded, heading to do that.  Ethan sighed, sipping his tea.  "This is a tangled mess.  Maybe I should send them to his bunker."

"Let them find him when he's gone," Faith suggested from the doorway, leaning on her cane.  "It'll be good for them since no one will let them steal anything anymore."  She walked in, sitting on his lap. "Ripper's having another Janus fit.  I tied him down again."

He gave her a smile.  "I know how much you adore these times, Faith.  Have fun with the poor thing."  She beamed, kissing him gently.  "Thank you.  Go play, be a good girl for me."  She nodded, standing up and heading into their bedroom.  Ethan smirked at his library, finishing his tea.


Xander woke up, groaning at the bright lights.  He batted at one, muttering something.  It only darkened slightly.  "Fuck me," he said, closing his eyes again.  He rolled onto his other side, pulling out the IVs and tossing them away.  "Fucking hospitals.  Hate them."  He let himself drift off again, liking this sleeping thing.  It was kinda nice.  For now, then he'd have to get up and do something.

Goemon looked over from his book, shaking his head.  "If you would get up, I could take you to where they are drinking," he suggested quietly.  Xander grumbled something else so he let him go for now.  "You will wake soon.  The children are coming."  His wife walked in, giving him a look.  "He woke up long enough to protest the lights, swear at the hospital, and pull out his medication."

"Sucks to be him," Fujiko snorted.  "Lupin's pissed that he's been holding back again."

"He has not.  Things that we do individually are not usually shared with the group," he reminded her.  "He's the one who told the boy that."

"He's panicking, do you think that's going to have much weight?" she asked.  He shook his head, returning to his book.  "Dawn's nanny will be bringing the kids over tomorrow.  Can we get him up before then?"

"Hopefully," he agreed.  "I would hate to see Lotus' reaction to him being unconscious for her visit.  She may sit on his chest and pout until he wakes up."  She had done it the last time Xander had gotten hurt, when she was three.   "Where has he been storing such artifacts?"

"Probably near his house in Geneva," she offered.  "He's spent some time there recently," she said when he looked unsure.

He shook his head.  "Not unless it is a hidden entrance.  We have been all over the house looking for our son. He would have found it by now."  He turned the page on his book.  "You could sit beside me," he offered, giving her a look.

"I'd rather nap beside you," she told him, giving him a look.  She leaned down, giving him  a kiss.  "The nurse said you were in bad shape."  He nodded.  "Are you okay now?"

"Mostly.  The castle tainted me but Ethan removed all that he could," he admitted as he put his book aside.  "I am back to myself again if that is what you wanted to know."  She slid into his lap, snuggling against his chest.  "I missed you as well."

"I was so worried about you," she whispered.  He stroked her back, soothing her, but she needed to make sure he was really all right.  "We need to go back to your room."

"If we leave this one alone, he will leave," he pointed out, looking into her eyes.  He smirked when he saw the look in her eyes.  "Let us handcuff him.  He is not the most proficient in that skill still."   She nodded, doing that for him.  Then she led him back to his room, making sure he was fully fine again.  The nurses smirked at their door, they had seen such intense needs before.


Lupin and Jigen wandered in the next morning, finding Xander still in his bed, still sleeping, and a note beside his bed.  Jigen picked it up and snorted.  "He's justifying himself," he said, sitting beside the bed.

"See, I knew it was safe enough to sleep outside in Geneva," Lupin read, frowning at the man on the bed.  He balled it up and threw it at Xander's head, waking him.  "How dare you do this and not tell us!" he said angrily.

Xander yawned, looking at him.  "I was gonna tell you," he complained.  "You wouldn't let me."  He closed his eyes again.  "Have a headache.  Need to sleep."  He looked at Jigen, then reached behind him and turned off the annoying beeping machine.  "There, better.  You can yell later too," he told Jigen.

"Why would we want to do that?" Jigen asked dryly, getting comfortable. "Because you've
endangered yourself unnecessarily for about three years now?"  Xander winced.   "Oh, really?" he asked.  He looked at Lupin.  "He winced at that figure."

"Xander, I want answers," Lupin demanded, coming over to roll the younger man onto his back, staring down at him.  "When did you decide you were a slayer?"

"Five years ago," he sighed. "While I was resting."  Lupin's mouth opened.  "I was protecting the kids, Lupin.  Really.  That one sneered, saying that they were going to take the little ones for the fucking army they were building under Paris.  I couldn't let it endanger them."  He sat up with a small groan, holding his forehead.  "What did you want me to do?  I tried to tell you and you said you were too busy to listen to me then."

"And later?"

"Later was the fucking Swiss job," Xander said bitterly.  That had been a beautiful fight.  "I didn't do anything for a few months, until I had to.  Then I got forced back into the life.  Again, not able to let everyone be killed because Buffy can't fucking share the wealth of Slayers."

"You mean, not able to stop fighting," Lupin told him.  Xander shook his head.  "Really?  You sure?"

"Very sure.  Do you think I *like* this?"  They both nodded and he snorted.  "No, I don't like this.  This is a damn duty.  No one else but Dawn and I are capable of doing this.  Faith can't fight with her weakened hip.  Marcus can't fight most of them.  His eyesight is too bad and a liability.  Dawn and I tried our damndest to get Buffy to send one over here and she said they needed them over there more.  Even pointing out that we had fucking armies massing didn't help it any.  Therefore, Dawn and I *had* to step in and solve the problem.  As soon as someone else more capable comes along, we're handing it over.  We both know we're not young anymore and slaying is like SWAT teams: for the young, unattached, and gung-ho.  We're two old-ass veterans who got recalled into service."  He laid down with a groan.  "If you're gonna bitch me out, at least give me a damn shot to kill the pain in my head."

Jigen handed over his flask.  "Take some."  He looked at Lupin, who was still nearly glaring at the boy.  "I remember him throwing a fit about Buffy a few years back," he admitted.  "Something about her and her selfish ways.  I thought it was about the boys."

"No, that one probably was.   The armies were taken out almost four years ago," Xander admitted, taking another swig from the flask before handing it back.  "Thanks.  Can I have some tylenol too so I can complete the cure?"

Lupin pushed Xander back into the bed, making him wince.  "You endangered all of us by doing that."

"When?" Xander asked.  "When I removed them before they could eat Fujiko and Goemon a few months back?  When I got the slime demon hunting Jigen?  Or how about when I capped the siren heading for you again?" he asked bitterly.  "You guys were tainted by the paranormal long before Jigen met me.  They've come for you for years, that's why all that shit falls into your laps.  I've been keeping it from killing you, even when you didn't know, for years now.  There's a great thought running around that you and Jigen would make wonderful vampires in the paranormal criminal underground.  Fortunately, the head over that one died too."  He looked him in the eyes, giving him a bitter look.  "What did you want me to do, let you fucking die?" he demanded at the shocked look.  He sat up again, moving Lupin out of his way as he climbed out of the bed.  "Excuse me, I've got to pee."  He headed in there to do that, giving them the chance to talk behind his back openly.

Lupin looked at Jigen. "*He's* the injured party here?"

Jigen nodded.  "Probably. He's always been one of those guys who did what had to be done without bragging. Buffy taught him that."  He shrugged.  "I'd rather chain his ass to my side now."

"He'll bring them to us," Lupin argued.

"Like they're living?" Xander snorted from the bathroom, coming out.  "They're mostly dead.  They can't come back without someone like myself or Dawn saying so."  He climbed back into his bed, looking at him.  "How would they come for you, Arsene?"

"Don't call me that," he snapped.  That was for their special moments and they weren't having one then.

"Fine."  Xander shrugged.  "Fine with me.  Should I come pack my stuff now or would you like to do it for me?"  Lupin gaped at him.  "It's clear you don't want me around anymore.  So I'll head to my house and let you fucking well sulk until something happens.  Then you can deal with it yourself.  That should be after this year's maze."  Lupin's gape got broader.  "Your choice.  I trust you to pack for me."

"Xander, don't be stupid," Jigen sighed, scratching his eyebrow.

"No, if he wants to go, let him," Lupin said, turning and walking out.

Jigen sighed, standing up.  "I'll calm him down."

"He'll calm down whenever he's ready.  I'll be at my house and he can come and fucking apologize to me for his crap," Xander told him.  "All of it." Jigen gave him a look.  "You're welcome to come do the same," he agreed.  Jigen gave him a look.  "It was obvious you were thinking it, Jigen.  Go catch him before he runs the Benz into another tree."  He slid down, laying on his side facing the other wall.

"Fine.  When you've both quit pouting, we'll get together again."  He walked out, heading after his best friend.  He could bring Xander around later.  He looked at the nurse. "Don't let him check himself out.  He's not ready yet."  He strolled on, finding Lupin pacing in the parking lot.  "Stop it," he ordered, stopping him.  Lupin scowled at him.  "I can walk away too," he pointed out.  "I'm not putting up with either of you pouting."  Lupin glared at him so he backed off.  "Fine, you pace and whine.  I'm going to go home."  He headed for the car.  He had the keys.

"My car, Jigen," Lupin said firmly.

"Then I'd get your ass in gear before it leaves you here to pout at Xander some more," he called back.  "Because I can also lock you out of *your* house and away from *your* kids."  He opened the door, sliding in.  By the time he had the engine started, Lupin was heading his way.  Lupin slid into the passenger's seat, glaring at him.  "Good.  Do you think you should calm down now?"  He pulled out of the parking lot.  "We could even *ask* someone if they've seen them coming for us.  Ishi would know."

"He's a kid," Lupin snorted, turning to stare out the front window again.  "What would he know?"

"Who watches Xander all the time?" Jigen asked.  Lupin grunted.  "Besides us," he said tolerantly.  "Lotus was saying something about a stake being dirty the other day.  You thought she was talking about something in the garden."  Lupin slumped a little.  "He's been protecting us, Lupin.  If we rant at him, we won't see him again."

"It'll make it stop," Lupin said firmly.

"Yeah, because we didn't touch a golden mask that made you see hieroglyphics for days before him.  Or anything that nearly sucked us into another realm.  Or even anything that was magical before I took him in.  Are you fucking losing your mind?"

"No," Lupin said quietly.  "Things were going so well."  He sighed and looked out the side window.  "Then Geneva happened."

"Shit was going wrong before the Swiss job," Jigen reminded him.  "You were ignoring Xander while you planned that caper, and he was desperate for affection.  I'm surprised he didn't go searching for it somewhere else."

"He went to you."

"No, I was a bit busy with my ripped neck muscles," Jigen reminded him.  "The kid handled it on his own, Lupin.  I'm damn impressed that he didn't cheat then.  Or maybe he did.  He did have those three days far from the house.  Either that or that was when he was fighting."

"Shit, I thought he was off getting an abortion," Lupin snorted, looking at him.  "We left him back there thinking we didn't want him."  Jigen nodded.  "Turn the car around."

"We know where he'll be.  He told us to show up when we were ready to apologize."  He glanced at him.  "I can easily take us to Geneva right now."

"I hate Geneva," Lupin told him.  "You two should buy houses somewhere else."  He leaned his head back, considering it.  "Four years?"  Jigen grunted.  "When did he have time?"

"Those midnight walks he started to take.  The times he volunteered to go scout the hotel first," he offered.  "Probably some of those shopping trips when he came back rosy cheeked and smiling."

"He always had stuff when he did that," Lupin pointed out.  "Did he really take out an eight-foot demon last night?" Jigen nodded.  "After letting it suck his energy?"

"Probably," Jigen agreed.  "As a human he would have been harder to kill.  I think only Marcus expected him to do that."  He shrugged, passing the exit to the house. "You know, now that we're not internationally wanted, we've only got a few country warrants."  Lupin snorted, shaking his head.  "They're all gone?" he asked, sounding pissed.

"Very.  All gone but the ones in Africa. And the one in Mexico is still around I think.  The US even went with Interpol this time.  I got a message from somewhere over there asking if we wanted a legit job doing what Dawn's doing."  Jigen groaned.  "I sent back a polite 'hell no'."  He smirked at his friend.  "We'll be off the list as of next week sometime."

"I'd like to cap the bastard on top of us," Jigen noted.  "Go out at number one."

"We can do that.  He's in Paris.  Then again, we're the top of all thieves, he's a terrorist."  He shrugged.  "If you want, we can do that.  It would be a nice one to end on."

Jigen turned the car around, taking them back to Paris to do that.  It would be nice to go out as number one most wanted.  Besides, one last chance for Zenigata to arrest them, it was perfect.  Xander might even come help them.


Dawn woke up in her own house.  She knew she had been drunk the night before and she hadn't been planning on coming home.  The kids didn't need to see her that way.  She tried to sit up and found herself tied to her bed with long strips of velvet cord, and sighed.  "Let me go," she called.

Ray strolled in, smirking at her. "Fuck no," he told her, still grinning.  "You two fighting means the boss doesn't get anything done, and if he can't work neither can we.  Therefore, you're a pretty sacrifice for him.  We even hosed you off and helped you brush your teeth.  Vodka breath is nasty," he shared, strolling back out, closing the door so none of the kids could go let her free.  He tapped on the study door, walking in at the irritated grunt.  "Myron and I found her, sir," he reported.

"Where is she?" he asked, not looking up from his paperwork.

"Upstairs waiting on you, sir."  Zenigata looked up at him, dropping his pen.  "We cleaned her up.  She was kinda drunk so we did you that favor."  His boss gave him a look and he gave him an impish grin.  "This means Myron and I can go to Paris Con," he said happily.  "That fine with you?"

"Fine.  Untie her and go," he sighed, going back to his paperwork.

"Sir, if you go talk to her, it might make both of you feel better," he offered.  The Inspector shook his head, sighing in defeat.  "Fine, but I can't release her.  I don't know how to do those knots when I'm not in them."  He walked out, going to talk to Myron.  He found Myron and Lotus staring out the front window at something on the sidewalk. "What's going on?" he asked.

"Bad people," Lotus said simply, pointing for his benefit.  "Bampires."

"Vampires," Myron corrected gently.  "Inspector!" he called.  "We're about to have a problem."

"Why?" Ray asked.  "We're here."  Myron turned and vamped out.  Ray took the baby from him, forcing her to walk away.  "Tell me you didn't turn the baby," he pleaded.

"No, I'm normal," she giggled, patting him on the leg.  He glanced down at her and she gave him a smile.  "He's not fully bad.  Auntie can do a soul restory."  She trotted off to get her uncle and tell him.

Ray looked at his friend, shaking his head.  "Am I supposed to stake you now or should I let you live?"

"Oh, come on," Myron said seductively.  "We can do all sorts of things, Ray.  We can eliminate all the criminals in the world.  Who could stand against us as a team?"  He could see the younger cop falling under his spell.  "It would be so great.  The cons would be more fun.  The criminals would wet themselves in fear of us, man.  We could do it all," he hissed, giving him a kiss.

"I did not need to see that," Zenigata said as he walked into their living room.  Myron hissed at him.  "What the fuck are you doing?" he demanded.  "This is no time for you to try out a new costume."

"It's not one," Ray said absently.  "The teeth are real, sir."  He moved closer. "What about ethics and the good fight, Myron?" he hissed.  "Where is that in you now?  The need to capture the bad guys and make them pay?"

"I'll make them pay," he promised.

Lotus giggled.  "Not like that, silly.  Do soul spell," she told her uncle.  "Auntie know how."

"Ray, go release Dawn," he said, handing over the baby.  "Take her with you."  Ray backed out, leaving them alone.  "Myron," he said, sitting down, his gun in his hand.  "When did this happen?"

"Last night," he admitted, grinning at him.  "People want you in the underground, Zenigata.  We will win."

"You won't win," he swore.  "You can't."

"We can.  The Light has almost no warriors and the two who were called back into service are injured," he cackled.  "Who is to stop me?"

"Me," he said, pointing his gun at him.  "They're wooden before you ask, I found her stash," he noted.   "Don't move.  We'll see if Dawn can fix you first."

Myron laughed.  "Why would she be able to?  I bit her last night.  She's *weak* now," he sneered.  "No one can touch me but Harris, and he's injured from his last fight.  There are no slayers in Europe.  There are no potentials in Europe.  There aren't even many trained civilians in Europe.  Who's going to stop us!" he laughed.  "You're an old man.  Your hair is turning white.  I'm going to be this age forever!"

Ray came back with Dawn.  "Him," he said firmly, pointing at him.

"Dawn, were you bitten?" Zenigata asked.  She nodded, moving past him. "Dawn," he warned.  "Get out of the way.  You're too weak to do the spell."

"I'm not," she said firmly, staring at Myron.  "I have the thing memorized," she promised.  "If I can't, Marcus can and will.  Ethan can and will if you get near Xander."

Myron chuckled.  "Why would I want to do that?  I have no desire to get near *him*.   Others will turn him, you're my duty."  He lunged and she caught him, holding him in place with a shield spell.  She was sweating nearly instantly and he was taunting her about being weak, singing the word over and over again.  Finally, the shield gave and he lunged, but the bullet caught him on the shoulder.  "You're not that good, old man."

Dawn shrugged.  "Neither am I, on *humans*."  He looked stunned as she pulled a stake.  "But you're not human."  She moved but he jumped out the window, getting away from her.  "You see," she told her husband, falling down onto the couch.  An arm came through it so she staked it, earning a whining grunt.  "Ray, did he get you?"

"Nearly," he admitted, looking down at his feet.  "Boss?"

"I'm fine," he said softly, looking at his wife.  "What will stop that?"

"Killing them," Dawn told him. "As many of them as possible.  Each one can turn at least fifty a week if we let them.  If we can get the head, then we might be able to take out some of the cohesion but it'll still leave the minions there."

"Isn't there some rumor about killing the master freeing the minion?" Zenigata asked.

She looked at him.  "Only if they're in thrall."  She shrugged and stood up, going to pull out her weapons trunk, kicking it open.  "Someone call Fujiko to come get the kids.  With Goemon.  I don't want her here alone.  If we're doing an Alamo, we'll need them out of harm's way.  Otherwise, kids are snacks."  She pulled up her favorite crossbow, stroking it gently.  "Come on, precious, let's go hunt some."  She loaded the clips, heading out the door.  "Stay," she told Ray when he tried to follow.  "Guard the kids."  She stood on her front porch, shooting as many as she could see.  "You are not driving me back to the US," she said firmly.  "I'm not leaving."  She got a few more, then had to head back inside before they got her in their big rush on her position.  She heard a motorcycle up the street and swallowed, hoping it was Xander.  Or even Fujiko.  That girl could stake.  It went past her location and she stepped into the house, firing at them.  A few were brave enough to step up.  "My house, Myron can't invite you," she told him.  It tried to cross and she shot it.  "I said no, get a fucking dictionary."  She slammed the door, leaning against it.  "I need holy water," she told Ray.  He nodded, going to get it out of her trunk.  "Get the bundle of herbs too," she called.  He came back with them, bleeding from a cut on his hand.  "Ow. You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," he agreed, eyes glazed.  Dawn splashed him with some and he whined, wiping at his face.  "What was that for?  That's not buddies," he said angrily.

"No, but it's necessary!" she told him. "Zenny!"  He came down the stairs.  "They've bitten Ray, he's not turned yet."  She turned, working on the uninvite spell as fast as she could.

He stopped Ray, looking him over.  "You okay?"

"No!" he said, pointing at Dawn.  "She splashed me with acid!"

"Holy water," he sighed.  "Wait for me in the dining room, Ray."  He gave him a panicked look.  "If you're not turned, we'll be fine," he pointed out, taking him that way.  He hated to do it but they needed some help, badly.  He called Fujiko's cellphone himself.  "We're in the middle of a standoff and your kids are here," he told her.  "Come get them all."  He hung up, tying Ray to the chair he was sitting in.  "Stay there."  He went back to help his wife, finding her nearly unconscious from the strain.  "Dawn," he said, leading her away from the door.  "What do I have to do?"

"We need someone to cast," she told him, looking in his eyes.  "We'll be fine in a minute.  Keep them from coming in."  He nodded, going to do that.  She slumped, then pulled up more of her energy, enforcing the house's shields with her own energy.  She even tapped into the necklace she had stored energy in so many years ago.  Then she prayed like never before.   She'd even welcome her sister showing up right then.


Fujiko hung up and went running through the house until she found her husband. "The kids are in danger."  He looked at her, scowling.  "Zenigata just called.  They're in a stand- off situation but the kids are there. He didn't say where they were!" she said, grabbing him by the kimono.

He gave her a hug. "He's at home.  I know he is."  He picked up the phone, dialing Jigen's.  "Where are you?" he asked, sounding calm even though he wanted to be rushing into that situation.  "Zenigata just called, said the children are in trouble.  I believe he's at home."  He winced when he heard the squeal of brakes.  "Thank you.  We'll head that way as fast as possible."  He hung up, looking at his wife.  "We must hurry to Dawn's," he instructed.  She nodded, taking him out to get on her bike.  It was faster than the car would be in Parisian traffic.  He made sure he had his sword and that the gates locked behind them.  The other children were upstairs with their nanny.  They should be protected in there. He grabbed on as his wife took a turn sharply, but couldn't reprimand her for it this time.  Things were very critical if his children were in danger.


Jigen walked into Xander's hospital room, bending down to wake him. "Xan, wake up," he hissed.  Xander looked up at him, looking confused.  "Vampires are surrounding Dawn's house."

"Fucking Janus," he muttered as he stood up, wobbling a little.  "He wants us to pray so he can have us for eternity.  I heard him," he said when Jigen looked at him.  "Find me comfy clothes," he ordered, holding his head.  "Find me a crossbow too.  I can't take them on manually like this." Jigen nodded, going to get his clothes from the nurse.  Xander calmed and centered himself, taking his bloody clothes when they were handed over.  "Thanks."  He slid them on, wincing at the crusty nature of the blood on it. "Demon blood, ick," he muttered, putting on his shoes.  He accepted the hairband, tying his hair back.  Then he accepted the crossbow.  "Go there the regular way.  I can hit her house in my sleep.  I have in the past," he admitted at the worried look.  "Go." Jigen nodded, rushing back to the car.  Xander took a deep breath and activated what little magic he had left, heading that way.  He landed on the back lawn, looking at the vampires. "Damn it, I thought we got rid of the fucking Parisian army," he said bitterly, shooting as many as he could before running inside.  "I need ammo," he called.  Zenigata came out of his dining room to give him a look. "What?"

"You're injured," he said firmly.

"Fucking yay. Can you shoot a crossbow?"  He grabbed Dawn's, checking the clip in it then the spares she had.  He handed back the empties.  "Load those, arrows with the arrow on the side," he ordered. "Then go guard the kids."  He walked out to the front, firing out the broken window.  He was quickly out but someone handed him a few reloaded clips.  "Thanks."  He fired some more, realizing that no one should be down there with him.  He glanced back, grinning at Myron.  "Hey.  Howyadoin'?" he asked.  He grabbed him, hip- tossing him and standing on his back.  "Stay down," he ordered.  "Never make me do this again, Myron.  You won't like it when you become Angel."  He continued to fire, taking out the minions.  "Shit, we need to get the big guy."  He knew who it was.  They were targeting them hoping to get Buffy called for.  He dialed her, letting her make her own decision.  "Hey, me," he told the Slayer who answered.  "Yeah, me, Tara.  Why?"  He grimaced.  "Really?  Well get her bon-bon eating ass to the phone.  Paris is presently overrun with vampires.  Yes, I said Paris," he reminded her.  "That place where we've been training you?"  He rolled his eyes.  "Yes, you are *exactly* like your fucking mother," he sneered.  "Now put her on!"  Buffy came on.  "Buffy, your sons are in mortal peril at the moment from the vampires surrounding your sister's house because you couldn't get off your ass to send anyone our way.  Dawn's injured, I'm injured.  I called to cuss you out one last time.  If they live, I'll have someone send them back."  He hung up, firing some more.  If she came, she came.  If not, then not.  They'd handle it.  They had in the past.


Lupin and Jigen came up behind Zenigata's house, getting out to go help with the ones in the backyard.  They had stopped to get some crossbows, not being bad shots.  Not exactly expert, but not horrible.  Half their shots weren't hitting the heart but it was incapacitating them.  They got the yard cleared and headed inside, going to help whomever was moaning in the dining room.  "Ray?" Jigen asked.  Ray looked up at him and shook his head. "You already gone?"

"Not fully," he admitted, holding up the ropes.  "I can't get free to go help."

"It's better that way," Lupin decided, heading for the living room. "Xander?"

"Running out of ammo," he noted.  "Myron's turned, he's in here."  He glanced back, then had to turn back around and duck as someone tried to throw a pointed garden stake at him. "That doesn't work on humans," he noted, sending it back.  It was a girly throw, but it made a few run.  He accepted the extra ammo with a smile and a kiss for Jigen. "Thank you, bless you.  Janus wants us to be his for eternity.  This is Dracula trying to get Buffy."  He felt magic going off and winced.  "That's not Dawn," he said, pointing behind him.  "In Dawn's study."

Lupin headed that way, stopping the young redheaded woman from moving.  "Who are you?" he asked.

"His goddaughter," she said firmly, getting around him.  "He called for help.  Buffy's a cunt."  She walked out, opening the door, sneering at them.  "I am a Slayer, here to stay," she announced.  "You can all leave now."  A few more ran off, but most of them moved to try and get her.  Lupin moved up behind her, firing over the young girls' shoulder. "Thank you, uncle."  She stepped out, closing the door behind her to take them on.  She turned on her video feed, letting the others see what was going on.  Weren't there any humans left in Paris?

Lupin caught Xander as he came around a corner, panting and shaking his head.  "What?"

"Jigen.  Myron bit him.  I staked him."  Lupin headed that way while Xander went out to help his goddaughter.  "Fuckers," he hissed, letting his temper come into play.  He got more of them than she was.  She glanced back at him, then went back to fighting, giving him a little smile.  He snorted. "Pay attention, Tara.  It's important in a battle."  She nodded, going back to her wide swinging moves.  "Try not to hurt yourself either," he suggested dryly.  She changed styles, kicking ass better now.  "Good girl."  He hit a few more, making the remaining vampires run.  Then he turned and found two other Slayers standing behind him.  "Oh, hey, rebelled?" he asked, getting out of their way.  "Go for it.  There's an underground here in Paris.  It's about seven miles in town.  Tara knows where it is."  They nodded, taking the younger slayer off with them. "Be careful with her.  You're all little kids but she's smaller."  They gave him a look and continued on.  He walked back inside, closing the door, finding Buffy staring at Ray.  "He'll be fine once your old enemy is gone," he sneered.  "Thank you for finally noticing the fact that there's a world outside of the US."  He went to check on his lover, finding him bandaged and getting slightly drunk.  "He all right?"

Lupin looked up at him, shrugging.  "Is he?"

"He'll be fine, even if he got force-fed some of the blood," he promised, bending down to look at the bites.  Jigen kissed him, hard, probing, like he would his female self.  Xander moaned, letting it go now.  "Thank you," he whispered, touching him gently on the cheek.  "You rest, I'll be back in a while."

"Xander, you're injured," Lupin told him.  "Three of them went."

Xander looked at him.  "The last time Dawn and I went to clear it out, it wasn't even a meeting night and there were hundreds.  We lost count after the first half an hour."  He heard a door slam and looked outside, pointing up the stairs.  Fujiko and Goemon ran up the stairs.  "Take all the kids with you, back to Japan," he ordered.  "Your house is safer.  We'll gather there in a few days, as soon as possible."  Goemon looked at him. "I mean it.  You take care of them for us."  He nodded, hurrying to find his children to hug them.  He turned to look at Lupin.  "Get him headed with them. They'll need help."

"Goemon could help," Jigen said weakly.

Xander gave him a kiss. "I know, precious, but I want him with the kids.  Fujiko might be able to stake someone but I want someone *good* with them and you're injured more than I am.  It'll take days to feel better."  Jigen looked at him.  "Really.  I'll be there soon."  He pulled him up, holding him tightly. "You be safe," he whispered.  "Take the other kids with you.  Take my black box off my dresser.  It's got a few things in it that you can use."  He gave him a desperate kiss, then sent him off, turning to look at Lupin.  "I'd rather you went too.  We could die."

"We could die each time we wake up," he said, grinning at him.  "It's not working, Xander, I know you."  Xander slumped.  "Good job, I hadn't wanted to do that part."  He watched as Goemon gathered Jigen and the kids, taking them away.  Then he popped his wrist and his neck.  "Where are we going?"

"The underground."  Xander and he sat down, loading more clips.  "With the arrows," he said.  Lupin unloaded that one, doing it right. As soon as they were packed, they headed out to take the bike Fujiko had left when they had taken the Benz.  "Buffy, coming?" he called as they walked out the door.

"Do I have to?" she asked.

"Do you really want *me* to slay Dracula?"

"Coming," she agreed, hurrying out to ride behind Lupin.  "When did you learn how to do this?" she asked.  She squealed as they took off, grabbing Lupin as hard as she could. "Slow down!"

"We sent Tara with the others," Xander told her.

"Shit!  Go faster!  I only sent one!"  He went a little faster, heading down to the opening in the train station he knew.


Zenigata treated Dawn's injuries, making her look at him.  "Will you be okay?"  She nodded, biting her lip.  "I'll come back," he promised. He walked out, running into Goemon with the kids.  "Take good care of them," he ordered, touching his own daughter on the head.  "You behave in an acceptable manner."  They nodded, letting him take them down the stairs.  He listened, but everyone was clearing out.  The fight was in a different spot now.  He went to find the rest of his bullets, going to help however he could.  He found a confused looking girl standing in Dawn's study.  "Who're you?" he demanded.

"I'm Demara.  I'm a Slayer," she said, looking at him.  "Demara Lupin."  He shuddered.  "Where is my father?  I can smell his aftershave."

"He went with Lavelle to help them slay the vampires."  Her face hardened.  "Lavelle said something about an underground."

"I put a tracker on Buffy," she said, pulling out the tracker.  He took her to his car, going to help her.  Lupin could shit.  He didn't know he had a daughter this age.  "You're Zenigata," she said, looking at him.  He nodded.  "My father is helping you?"

"He is.  His other daughter was here."  He started the car, pulling down the driveway.  "Dawn was here too," he admitted, heading the way the detector said to go.  "Where is that?"

"If he said underground, I'd hazard that it was a real place," she said, frowning at the device.  "They're heading down into the Tube."  He groaned. "Hurry up."  He sped up, braking the traffic laws this time.  She glanced behind them as a cop car lit up, leaning out the window to throw something back at him.  The cop car flipped over so she sat down again.  "Sorry, but they're unharmed."  She composed herself. She hardly ever got to see her father.   He was not going to be happy to see her this time.  As soon as the car stopped, she hopped out.  She could feel the wrongness.  She headed down the stairs at a run, hopping the turnstile.  The attendant started to scream so she tossed a sleep gas grenade into his booth, making him pass out.  She ran down to the lower levels, backtracking to a maintenance door, opening it to find the fight on.  "Fuck me," she announced, pulling two stakes and jumping in.

"Demara!" Lupin shouted. "What the fuck are you doing here?"

"Hi, Slayer Demara," Xander called, waving before he punched someone with the fist he had wrapped around his broken stake.  Then he staked it.  "Lupin, pay attention," he called.  "Go back to back with her, you can yell later!"

"Fine," he agreed, doing that.  "Daughter."

"Father," she agreed lightly.  "I've missed you.  You forgot to send me something for my birthday this year."

"I did, it was going to hit your hands tomorrow," he said patiently.

"Kidding, daddy.  Give me a backrub and Lavelle's autograph if we make it out of this."

"Dear, he might as well be your step-father," he said impatiently.  "When were you going to tell me?"

"Um, never?" she suggested lightly, staking and kicking someone.  He stuck with her, impressing her.  "Gee, dad, do much fighting this way?"

"A few times," he said dryly.  "Usually I like to take them out with the Walther."

"Speaking of, can you teach me how to shoot soon?  You did promise when I was six."

"Sure.  If we both make it.  If not, demand Lavelle do it."  He looked over but he couldn't find Xander.  "Xander!"

"Living!" he called back, clearing a few more quickly.  He grinned and flipped back his hair. "Pay attention," he mouthed, going back to his fight.

"Usually it's us telling him that," he groaned, getting a few more of his own.  "This is horrible."

"I'm imagining this is what the final fight in Sunnydale was like," she agreed.  She squealed as Buffy cleared a few of hers.  "I had them!" she said.

"Fine, find Tara."  Demara nodded and took her father with her.  "He isn't needed," she called after her.

"Fuck you, that's my daddy you're talking about," she called back.  "Far from the normal human."  She caught up to Lavelle, giving him an adoring look, even when he and her father kissed.  "You are damn cool," she told him.  "Why does Buffy hate you?"

He took a deep breath. "I'm Xander."  Her mouth opened.  "Let's go.  Target?"

"Tara.  Now."

"Good."  He looked around, breaking a new path to her side.  She was bleeding and holding a shoulder.  She fell before they got there but was still living.  Lupin got her out, silently promising to take care of his little girl for him.  Together they made an impressive combination.  She fought like him. Just opposite enough to be able to cover his blind side. "You're good.  Didn't train with Buffy?"

"Daddy got me private trainers, he said I needed self-defense lessons," she panted.  "Damn it, I'm tired," she complained.

"There's at least an hour left, Demara.  Welcome to the war."  He was getting tired too.  Their group fell to some gunfire and he brought her to the floor to get her out of the way.  "Shit.  Reckless assholes."  He looked up, panting hard.  "Jigen!  Aren't you supposed to be gone!" he called, helping her up.  She was bleeding from a few spots, including a graze.  "You okay to go on?" he asked.  She nodded, firming her stance again.  "Good.  Jigen got bitten earlier, go guard him.  Take out the edges."  She nodded, heading to help him.  He headed for the main area, Buffy and Dawn with him.  He gave her a look and she nodded, giving him a look.  "We go then," he agreed, kicking in the door.  They rushed in, finding the smug bastard sitting there drinking wine.  He felt a wave go over him and sneered.  "I'm not who I was then," he said bitterly.  "You can't make me your minion."

"Or me," Dawn agreed dryly.

Buffy stalked around the table.  "You did this to get me here, let's go."

He stood up and pointed a small derringer at her.  "I've learned better," he said with a smile.  It was shot out of his hand by Xander, who gave him a smug look.  "Who are you!" he demanded.  "This is my battle."

Xander bowed.  "Xander Harris," he said.  The man backed away from him.  Xander smirked, moving closer.  "Fight or run, Draccie-poo, you're gonna die.  I'm not the nicest of people, nor have I ever been."  The vampire tried to get around the other side but Dawn stopped him. "Buffy," he snapped. "Sacred duty and all that."  She moved, staking him.  Xander and Dawn chanted something, tossing some salt onto his ashes.  Outside someone screamed and Xander's concentration broke, making him run that way.  "Tara!" he called, fighting back to her side.  She was losing it.  She was crying.  Something bad was going on.  He made it to her side, not finding Jigen.  "Where is he?"

"Your other partner has him," she cried, leaning against him.  Her left leg was broken in a few places, the bones were sticking out on each side.  "I couldn't get him, Uncle Xander."

"Shh, Tara, I'm taking you out of here."  He walked her away, going back to where everyone was gathering when they retreated.  He turned her over to a paramedic, then frowned as he looked at him. "Who called you guys?"

"The nice men who gave me this," he said, handing over the stake.  "Why do I need it?"

A vampire ran past them and Xander tripped and staked him, then handed it back. "That's why."  He went back to the fight.  "Tell them to meet me at the kids," he called as he ran off.  "I'll be there."  He found Demara, stepping in to help her.  She gave him a tired look.  "Outside.  Slayers, mop it up," he called.  "Now!  We've got normals on the way!"  They glanced at him, then went into overdrive, killing the rest of the vampires.  A few of them were dead as well, he said a silent word on their behalf, then led Demara outside.  He found Dawn waiting on him with an injured Buffy.  He turned, leaning against the hood of the Benz.  "Fuck, I ache," he noted.  Dawn hummed and nodded.  "Husband?"

"Fine," Dawn told him.  "Small bite, not bad. Yours?"

"Fuck if I know.  I left Tara with Jigen."  He looked at Demara as she came back out after checking with the paramedics. "Jigen?"

"Left," she noted, coming over to give him a hug.  "Take me with you?  I think I need some more training."  Buffy snorted.  "He did more than you did, even blind on one side, with a recent head injury, and limping."  She led him back to the Benz to let him get in. "Come on, Mrs. Zenigata."

Dawn looked at her. "I'll hitch a ride back with the hubby.  Say hi to the kids for me.  Tell mine that I'll come get them later this week.  Consider it an extended sleepover."

Demara nodded, getting into the front seat and putting her head down.  "Soon, Xander.  Then they can whine at us."

He grinned.  "Not at me.  Jigen gave me a look like I was God," he shared with a grin, starting the engine.  "Move, Buffy."  She moved and he took off, heading to take his special cargo to Japan.  That's where everyone would gather.  Goemon had the safest house.  He found tickets waiting for them so they took the time to clean up in a nearby hotel and change clothes before heading over there.  He grabbed his head as the plane started to accelerate, feeling himself pass out.  "Japan," he slurred at her firmly.  She nodded, agreeing to make sure he got there.  He let the darkness overtake him.


When Xander woke up again, he was back in a hospital bed but the nurse was Asian.  It was a good sign.  "Morning," he told her in Japanese.  She looked startled and he shrugged.  "I like anime."  She frowned and left to tell someone he was up.  Lupin strolled in, handing him a soda.  "Body count?"

"None of ours.  Myron on Dawn's side," he admitted, kissing him gently.  "You okay now? It's been a few days. I was about to let Lotus in to sit on you again."  Xander gave a weak laugh before sipping his soda.  "How do you feel, really?"

"I'm okay.  My head doesn't hurt now.  How's Jigen?"

"A few steaks and he was fine," he promised, sitting beside him.  He looked at his younger lover.  "You've done that before?" he asked.  Xander nodded.  "Recently?"

"Dawn and I used light spells," he admitted.  "He used to have mirrors in there."  Lupin nodded.  "How's the girl?"

"Demara's good," he admitted with a grin.  "Goemon loves to teach her.  Unlike you and Marcus, she absorbs his wisdom.  Tara's with us too by the way.  He's working around her broken leg.  She's a plucky little thing."  Xander grinned and nodded, handing back the soda.  "Had enough?"

"Of hospitals.  If you get me sprung, I'll let you fuck me back into unconsciousness," he pleaded.

Lupin chuckled. "I knew you'd say that.  You can't have sex until you don't get a headache for days.  Your medicine is in the IV."  He nodded at it.  Then he smirked at Xander.  "Which means you can show us the treasure you've been hoarding, Pirate Xander." He gave a light laugh at that.  He leaned over, kissing him again.  "I'll spring you as soon as they'll let me.  Goemon's house is a big love-in right now. It's sickening.  Almost as bad as Fujiko's throwing up.  She started early this time."

"It's probably nightmares," Xander admitted, giving him a look.  "Were you hurt?  I can kiss it and make it better."

"You can't, not for at least another week," Jigen said as he walked in.  "Time's up, my turn."  Lupin sighed and stood up.  "The doctors won't let us at the same time.  He thinks we're odd."

"Gee, what a shock," Xander said dryly.  He pursed his lips and got a deep kiss, one which made him moan and shift.  "You'd have to do that to me when I'm not allowed to have sex," he complained.

"It's a promise for when you get out," Jigen vowed, giving him another one.  "How's the head?"

"Sore.  How's your neck?"   He reached over to touch the bite marks with a shaking finger.  "Am I having a Parkinson's day?"  Jigen nodded.  "For real?"

"No.  They said you'd probably shake for a little while.  Your blood sugar's a little low and you haven't had caffeine in days, Xander."  Xander gave him a little look.  "You're good.  Your head will be fine within weeks."

"Weeks?  I have to go without for *weeks*?" he asked.  "Na-uh, no way in hell!" he said, sitting up with a moan.  "I am not going without sex for *weeks*.  Nurse!" he bellowed.   She came running back.  "I'm leaving now, right now.  There is no way I'm going without sex for weeks, I'll turn violent and homicidal."  She said something rapidly and Xander raised an eyebrow.  "I'll have you know I'm a world renowned assassin, Lavelle.  This man and the other one keep me from killing people.  Would you rather I go on a rip through the city?"  She shook her head, her eyes very wide.  "Then let's get me checked out with the appropriate medicine so I can go have sex and calm down again.  I don't care if I end up hooked on advil for my head."  She said something, giving him a pleading look.  "So?  I've had other concussions!  Move, woman!"  She hurried out, going to talk to the other man.  Jigen was laughing beside him.  He looked at him and grimaced.  "I have."

"I know you have," he agreed.  "That's what they were worried about."

Lupin stuck his head back into the room.  "One more day, Xander, all right?"  Xander scowled.  "I promise, one more day and then I'm going to find your choker.  Got it?"

Jigen looked at him.  "Why?  Will you be needing it?" he asked.  Xander gave him a delighted look.  "Hell, I'd miss you if you were gone," he admitted dryly.  "I figure I can try it once.  That's it though, no promises."

"Hey, none needed," Xander agreed, giving him a long kiss.  "No, I'm not staying," he told Lupin.  "I want out now."

"I'm not gonna back out," Jigen soothed, helping him lay back down.  "You rest, babe.  We'll work it out between us on how you're best to get it."  Xander gave him a smile.  "Good.  You be a *good* boy.  No more terrorizing the nurses."  He gave him a fond pat and an extra kiss.  "Look in the mirror soon too.  You've got a dark streak in your hair."  He walked out, following Lupin to the car.  "How is Pops?"

"He's in a blind panic.  He won't let Dawn out of his sight.  I think she's going to have another too," Lupin said dryly. "I'm still not sure if it was the vampires or Demara's existence though."  He got in to drive, smirking at Jigen.  "Nice job," he praised.

"Hey, he needed to stay and I am willing to try," Jigen told him.

Lupin started the engine.  "Top or bottom?" he teased.

"For him, maybe.  For you, never," he said with a smug look.  "My ass is his property. He proved he's the better warrior."

"Hell yeah," Lupin agreed.  "I never want to do that again."

"Me either," Jigen agreed, nodding.  "Think we can talk him into giving it over to the girls who are staying?"

"Hopefully.  Pops has made Dawn brief them, while he listened no less," he said smugly.  "He's very impressed with his wife.  She's got that dangerous touch again and you know how much dangerous people turn him on."  He pulled out of the parking lot, heading back to their hotel to tell Goemon and everyone the good news.

Lotus could sit on his chest once they got him back to the house.

If they let him alone that long.

Dangerous people turned them on too.

The End.

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