Damned If You Do.
Xander was off rescuing someone when he ran into someone interesting. One of the hostages was in a room full of her picture. He had no idea who she was. "Did anyone ever tell you you look like Pepper Potts?" he asked.
She nodded slowly. "Are you the guy who took me hostage?"
"No, he's in a bendy yet uncomfortably cuffed position. I'm here rescuing the others." He walked over to free her of the ropes. "C'mon, let's get out of here."
"Are you an officer?"
"Nope. Freeing them for someone else." He shrugged and led her outside. "I know a few. I can get you somewhere safe so you can call home and all that while I call them." She smiled and nodded. "I promise, I'm not mean." He pointed at the other beings. "Home is to the left," he called. "Take ten steps then down." They nodded and walked blindly that way. "They live underground."
"I guess that's why they look like moles," she said, giving them an odd look. Xander let her into his car and got in to drive, taking her to the warehouse. He handed her his cellphone. "Um, no signal."
"Shoot. I forgot I still had the jammer on. Someone gave me a nuclear weapon a few months back and I didn't want a signal to get in here or out for a while," he explained, finding it and turning it off. "There you go." He used the desk phone. "Detective Beckett, it's Xander. I was rescuing those sewer dwellers and found a people. She's here at the warehouse with me. You know no one's going to hurt anyone here," he said dryly when she complained. "Because you guys have Feds in your office and I make them nervous. Thank you." He hung up and grinned. "They have some stupid idiot of oversight in." He looked at the fridge. "I have bottled spring water and soda if you want some. It shouldn't take too long for someone to get here. She's arrested more than one of my ex's."
"Can I have a water?"
"Sure." He looked and got her the coldest one from the back then walked off to let her call in private. She was looking nervous. He checked the door, then the peep hole. No one yet.
Beckett hung up. "Esposito, go to the warehouse. Xander found someone when he was rescuing someone else. He's got her safely stored there and she's probably creeped out by now if she's not evil."
"Going," he agreed. The investigator stood up as well. "No, you stay." He walked off. Ryan blocked him from moving. The other one on the team gave him an interested look. "A contact just freed someone being held hostage. I'm going to pick her up."
"I can follow you."
"No you can't because you guys are creeped out by him." He got into the elevator and headed down to the garage, driving off as soon as he could and checking for tails. He made it to the warehouse and found Xander waiting on him. "Who did you find?"
"She looks a lot like Pepper Potts."
"The actress who played her in the movie?"
"There's been a movie?"
"Yeah, kid. You need to quit writing so much," he said, patting him on the arm. "Ma'am, NYPD," he called, heading for the office. She jumped but he smiled. "Xander's a fantasy writer," he said quietly.
He nodded. "That's Alexian Harris," he said quietly, helping her up. "We're being plagued by federal inventory takers but we can let you rest and recuperate at the station until someone comes for you."
She nodded, following him out. "Thank you for letting me use your phone, Mr. Harris."
He grinned. "It's not a problem. It's the sort of guy I am." He shrugged. "Was the movie good? Apparently I missed it while writing."
"A lot of people thought so." He beamed and bounced a bit. "I hope you have an easier day."
"No, I have muses. They're never easy."
"I know other writers like that," she said with a smile, following the detective out. Once they were in the car and headed back she looked at him. "He's really Alexian Harris? Someone was looking at his DCIS series as a movie."
"Yeah, that's really him. He's a sweet, goofy kid until someone around him is threatened. Then he turns into Batman." She giggled. "We love the guy anyway. He dates evil people we get to arrest; he brings some more innocent excitement to us."
"He said someone gave him a nuclear weapon?"
"Yeah, after sleeping with him. He very nicely turned it in." She gaped. He smirked and nodded when they stopped at a red light. "We love the kid. He's a good guy most of the time. He has four cats and a lesbian librarian as a roommate." He drove on at the honking. "You were perfectly safe with him."
"Does he never get out?"
"No. He writes most of the time. He has a bunch of days where he made a hundred pages a day."
"Unless someone nudges him he never goes out. He might pick up the next evil thing we have to arrest. We've all tried to fix him up with nice people but they never take to him." He shrugged. "We see him kinda like the country cousin around the station." He pulled into the parking garage and parked in his spot, turning off the engine. "Do you need to call anyone?"
"I called a friend in town to come pick me up. I said I'd call back to tell her where I landed since he was calling you for me."
"That's fine. You can use our desk phones." He got out and walked her to the elevator then up to the squad room. "Guys, Xander just rescued her." Beckett handed over her phone.
Castle looked up with a smile. "I figured it was you. Who had you?"
"I don't know but he had the huge, scary shrine to me and some underground dwellers that looked like moles."
"I can get that from Xander," Beckett said. "Here, use my phone."
"Here, use mine, the number's probably in there," Castle said, handing it over with a smile. "Was he bouncy today?"
"He was a bit strange."
"Asked her if the movie was any good," Esposito said.
"Yeah, he never gets out. I have to have someone fix that," Castle agreed. She smiled at him. "He's not shy. He just never gets out of the house unless someone prompts him." He shrugged. Beckett wrote down the address for Xander's last rescue. Castle looked. "Richie Morans."
"We know him?" Beckett demanded.
"He's a huge collector," the pretty actress said with a smile. "I never saw him though. I woke up with a stack of things to sign but he knocked me back out and tied me to a chair."
"We can take a report," Beckett assured her with a smile. "That way he's stopped before he does it to someone else." She pulled up the forms. The actress called her local friend then handed back the phone and gave the simple statement. She didn't know very much about what happened.
Ryan looked at his partner. "Think we should make the kid leave the house tonight?" he asked quietly.
"Knowing him, he's in geek glee and renting movies today."
Castle looked at them. "His DVD player at home is broken. That's why he's all but moved into the warehouse again."
"Why?" Beckett asked. "Just because of that?"
"No, Tara and her girlfriend are fighting. The cats are all fussy and going to be fixed this week on Thursday. He's being driven nuts at home so he goes there to write and fondle the sword and battle axe collection." The actress gave him an odd look. He smiled. "Yes he does. He's a super geek about some things."
"Wow. He seemed very nice, just a bit...strange."
"Yeah, but no stranger than any other writer."
"Good point. There's rumors going around that someone's looking at his DCIS series."
"He'll either be horrified or bouncing happily around for days," he assured her. She smiled back. "I'm not sure which and it might depend on who tells him and what he's doing. We share a publishing agent."
"I'll let that be known."
"He's really prolific too. She has ten or twelve books she's holding back for him."
"Wow. In that series?"
"In all four series."
"Huh." She nodded. "Some of them are really cute."
He smiled. "Tral's addictive. I swear it is. It gives you the strangest dreams if you read them before bedtime too." She giggled and nodded. "Let them know and I'll casually suggest to Xander that people are thinking that way. That way it's not sprung on him suddenly and he freaks out."
"Thanks." Her friend came off the elevator. "Michael."
He smiled. "Are you all right?"
"Yes. A very nice young man rescued me, got me to safety so I could call the first time, and got these officers to come get me."
"Do we need to find him and thank him?"
"No, we know Xander very well," Castle assured him with a smile.
"Harris?" Michael asked. Castle nodded with a smirk. "Figures. The Batman of writers." He shook his head. "C'mon, I've already called around. You can have my spare room until we can get you a flight home."
"Thank you all," she said with a smile. "Tell him thank you as well." She walked out with him, talking quietly. She wanted to play one of the female detectives *so* badly if they made it into a movie.
Detective Ryan led the way into the warehouse. "Xander?" he called.
"Downstairs in the armory," he called back.
"Cool. That's why we're here." He walked down there, looking around. "You kept the snake and altar?"
"Yeah, it's blood tainted and I didn't want to interrupt the thing stopping the summoning from finishing. Since I can't figure out how to break it, I'll leave it that way and safely keep it out of other hands."
"I like that idea," Beckett said, glancing in there. "It is a huge snake around the altar."
"It's all custom basalt work too," Xander said. "It's pretty if you like snakes."
"Very." She smiled. "I heard you got more weapons?"
"Since last night?"
"Not that I've seen." He waved a hand. "Look around, guys. I haven't seen anything here and I've been here all night. Did we check the other place?"
"Yup, they said they didn't get anything. Since we got faxed the list." She handed it over.
Xander stared. "That's in bin 13 at the other place. That's the inventory I think." He found the inventory for over there and looked at it. "Yeah, it is."
"Minus two things," she agreed.
Xander looked then at her, shrugging a bit. "I've been here all night."
"Good. Can anyone else verify that?" Esposito asked.
"Were they used somewhere?"
"There was a suspicious fire fight downtown by Union Square last night," she admitted.
"Uh-uh. Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh. No! No, I was here last night because I was having a headache thanks to Tara. She's leaking magic and I was so wobbly I couldn't drive. I stopped at the little corner store right before it closed for some tylenol and soda since I'm out."
"All right," she said. "Ryan, go check that." He nodded, going to the other storage area. "Let's look around here, make sure it's not here."
"Sure, but don't touch things," he reminded her. "Last time you set off a mystical artifact that nearly got you eaten."
"I remember." They looked around, no new weapons down there. "Are you missing a sword?"
"Yes. I decided I didn't like the overly decorated blade so I sold it."
"Wasn't that an artifact that was already here?" Esposito asked.
"Yup but I sold it to a highly skilled demon guard who had wanted it. It was kinda over-decorated yet too light for me. For a ceremonial blade it'd be in better hands with him."
"Probably since it was so pretty." They looked around the other areas. They were very careful not to touch anything. Ryan called in the update. "It was there. Someone apparently sent us the inventory to update it after using it."
"The guard said no one had been in," she said.
"Yeah, he's another that's pissed at me that they used me to try an apocalypse run."
"That makes no sense," Beckett said.
"If I had been one of the community and that had been done to me, even without my consent, then they would've killed me. Outing the community is a death penalty offense."
"Any idea on who used it?" He shook his head. "Could it have been Tara?"
"No. She hates guns. Always has."
"Any idea if it was human or demon?"
"Where was it used?" Xander asked.
"The school that most of the community uses," Beckett said.
"Demon," he said dryly. "There's been a lot of strife out of there based on clan allegiances, loyalty issues, and what they're teaching some of the clans about the combined history. Because I haven't heard of a hunter here in town recently. I wouldn't rule it out but I know a few demon clans that have been protesting it a lot. Vocally."
"Okay, I get that," she agreed. "Can we find out for sure?"
He shook his head. "I burned all my contacts when they used me. If I hadn't fought back I might still have some but I'd also probably be dead."
"Kid, what's this locked room?" Esposito asked.
"Council people I'm giving back to the LA team."
"Um, no," she said. "Because they might let them go."
He shrugged. "I got ordered to hand over all of them to the LA team by Giles."
"No. Sorry. Did they try to take the contract on you?" He nodded, staring at her. "You don't look surprised."
"I'm not. I knew they'd start hunting the hunters because of what happened. Hell, I saw them taking out a good portion of them right before the next emergency. Which we'll need all the weapons we can find and I'm having an ethical dilemma."
She stared at him. "You're having an ethical dilemma?" she asked. He nodded. "Why?"
"Because I hate my former friends like hell for the way they stuck up for the demons trying to screw me over and yet we're going to have an apocalypse battle in downtown LA in a few months."
She considered it. "Did they know?"
"Probably. And they hate me just as much for sticking up for myself. They said I should've just given up and died as a sacrifice to stop it."
"Okay, first, you need better friends. I've never encouraged anyone I thought of as a friend to commit suicide, even if it was going to save a whole lot of people," she said, staring at him. "Secondly, you can warn others and have, right?"
"I need to make sure they remember. I handed over those warnings before the book trip and all that mess."
"Tell me too so I can see if we can help. I'll release some of the weapons for that."
"It's in LA."
"So? I don't want to see that happen and spread." He nodded at that. "So we'll work to stop it." He nodded, relaxing again. She smiled. "It's trite but some things do trump trifling bitches like your friends. Maybe you can go in and back up with the military."
"Maybe." He shrugged and sat down on a nearby case. "I have to call the general and the people in Homeland who know."
"Do it while we're here," she ordered. "That way I know if we need to release stuff."
He nodded, finding the number in his phone book. "Graham, Xander Harris." He put him on speaker. "I'm here with Detective Beckett, who claimed oversight of the poker circuit's weapons payment warehouse. How far along are we on stopping the upcoming thing in LA?"
"What upcoming thing in LA? Riley, upcoming thing in LA? Xander wants to know how far we've gotten in stopping it," he shouted.
Riley came on the line. "Harris, they went underground and we're sure they stopped that plan since it was known about."
"Then you know that they bought the necessary materials, including the sacrificial victim, for it?" he asked.
"No, I didn't. I thought you retired fully."
"No, it's more that I'm being shunned for not acting like a screaming girl and jumping off somewhere very high. Detective Beckett has oversight of my warehouse and we needed to know if we needed to subtly shift some stuff out that way."
"Who else knows?" Riley asked.
"That general, Jack."
"All right. We'll check and let you know within a week. Just in case we do need some of your stuff."
"Thanks." He hung up and looked at her. "We'll know sometime soon."
"Remind that general so he can put people on higher alert that way." He nodded. "Good. Let me know when you hear."
"I will." She smiled and they went to check the other storage area to see what had been taken. They might need some of it.
In South America Riley snorted. "He's still trying to jump in even after we made it really clear that we don't want him around. Figures."
"It's not like he had a single thing to do with that stuff," Graham said. "He was the victim as much as the others." Riley glared at him. "We all knew Harris wasn't going to lay down and die. That's why we made plans for it, Finn. It's not our fault you and your dumbass wife didn't plan on him being noble and shit." He walked off calling LA.
"Cordelia, Graham Miller. Xander just called to make sure the invasion apocalypse was stopped so he knew if he needed to shift some weapons out your way. Any intel right now?" He listened then nodded. "Okay, tell us within a week so we can arrange things. Thanks." He hung up. "They're still active," he said dryly, staring at his former friend. "They're just better hidden and we're not sure of the date now." He walked off, rejoining the rest of the team.
"They can't do it," Riley assured him. "We'd know and try to stop them, even if they do have everything they need." He followed his team of worrying girls. He swore they all worried too much.
That night, Xander woke up with a gasp, holding his head. "Tara!" he bellowed. She came jogging in. "Vision." She got him his tape recorder and turned it on once it had a new tape in it. He told it what he saw, everything that he saw. The date was wrong. He blinked as it faded, taking the cup of painkiller tea she had prepared for him. "Thanks." He took a sip. "It's off by two weeks."
"I'll tell Beckett and leave a message for Willow," she said, smoothing a hand over his hair. "You try to sleep off the headache." She checked, the cats were staring. "Daddy could use some cuddles." One hopped up once he laid down and the rest came over in their own casual way. She went to email everyone, including that general. Because that was bad and she might have to step in as well. She hated to fight but she wasn't about to let people fall to the demon invasion from a hell plane.
Jack O'Neill got the email that next morning and stared at it. He booked a flight to New York to talk to the kids first. He brought along a copy of the video file as well. That way he could verify it was the same species. Because he had the feeling other things had changed. If he knew where Daniel Jackson had ascended to again, he'd ask him, but no one knew where he was floating around at the moment. He left, shaking his head all the way back to his car. He slid in to drive and found his old teammate waiting on him. "Warn a guy," he complained.
"There's a bomb on the engine, how's that for a warning."
Jack slowly and carefully pulled the keys out of the ignition. "Okay, why?"
"Because you know things that are crimping someone's plan." He grinned. "But I hope like hell you guys win. By the way, he was looking at the Jewish calendar. I'm not sure he converted it right. You'll have to make sure of that."
"Okay, I can do that. Some symbolism?"
"No, but he knows it's different thanks to the research work and Willow Rosenburg's family. The higher powers can never just outright tell anyone anything. It's against the rules somewhere in the bet they made." He smiled. "Good luck and use the beaming from the ships to move the artillery he has today. That way it's ready and not missing. Talk to Beckett, she'll authorize it."
"I can do that. Thank you."
"Welcome." He smiled. "I'll probably be back shortly. They needed me to calm someone else down before they threw a fit and unhinged the world. Because Rodney nearly ascended." He faded out.
"Yay," Jack said dryly. "That would disturb a lot of people if Rodney McKay ascended." He got out and waved over one of the guards. "Check for a bomb please?" He grabbed his bag and let them drive him to the airport instead when they found it. Yeah, someone somewhere had a plan.
O'Neill figured out who Beckett was on the plane by looking up the boy's known associates in his Homeland file. The paranoid yahoos were at least thorough this time. He signed in at the station and got let up into the squad room, finding her. She was the only woman in there that wasn't handcuffed. He sat down and opened his laptop, starting the video file. She stared, then at him. He pointed. She went back to watching and shuddered. "The date's off."
"How far off?"
"Very far off. We're taking the whole entire storage area today."
"Okay," she said, writing out an email to the others who watched over it. "We can handle that. How far off is it?"
"About two weeks. Though the kid might have translated the calendars wrong. I need to talk to him."
"I can get him up here," she agreed, calling him. "Come see me now, Xander. O'Neill is here and we need to confer." She hung up. "It usually takes him about twenty minutes. I'll call in ten to make sure the muses didn't suck him back in. What can we do to help?"
"Hope like hell it didn't move here."
"Please, God, don't let it move here," she begged quietly.
"We all hope not." Xander came off the elevator a minute later. "You were nearby?"
"My favorite bakery is up the street," he admitted, putting down the bag. He looked at him. "Tara sent you the vision I had."
"The calendar was the Jewish one and an ascended thought you might have translated it wrong."
"Okay," he said, sitting down to find the notes in Beckett's email for her. "There you go. Um... Yeah, that's about two weeks later."
"That's...." She found a site online to convert it. "Two weeks and a day." She looked at him. "Close."
He smiled. "I usually can't do it in my head." He looked at Jack. "Stealing my weapons today?"
"Yes. Are you going to be there?"
"I should be. I don't want to be but I should be."
Jack stared at him. "I heard. All of it. Even the sealed parts." Xander shrugged. "You good?"
"No. I need to make better friends this time."
"Did you bring us bagels?" Esposito asked as he walked in.
"No, I was at the bakery and the upcoming invasion is being talked about. Sorry to dash your hopes," he offered with a smile.
"Invasion?" he demanded. "Like alien?"
"Like open portal, vomit out entire demon plane?" he countered.
"LA or so," Jack said.
"Thank you, God," he said, looking up. His partner patted him on the back. "They have military bases close by there. We don't."
"West Point would probably jump in," Jack offered with a grin. "There's a few others in the nearby area that can 'copter in."
"Better yet, don't let it happen here. They can go eat all the little brainless bimbos who do stupid shit to get attention and leave the talented actors alone."
"The new one I saw wasn't downtown. They moved it outside the city to nearer to Oxnard. I kinda recognized the area from when I was stranded and partying there."
"Even better. Less civilian casualties," Beckett said.
"Good base of operations to work from though," Jack told her. "I've been through there for training exercises." He looked at Xander. "Why were you stranded there?"
"My car exploded there when I was on my post-grad roadtrip. I ended up working at the strip joint."
"Ah!" He nodded. "I got taken there by some of the guys I was on exercises with. They didn't realize it was an all male strip joint until they got there."
"Yup." Xander shrugged. "I was supposedly working in the kitchen."
"I don't need to know," Jack said with a smirk. "A few of those guys are evil enough for you."
"Hell no. They don't deserve a nice guy like you." Xander smiled at that, a happy, true smile. He sent a message to the base once he had the coordinates of the warehouse and the other places Xander said he could raid. One was empty but they were moving things to another location so it got tracked and set off. They stole those weapons too, and freed their slaves. They sent them to the nice detective so she could help them. Since she knew about demons and the local community.
The week of the invasion, Xander let Alexis and Rick have the cats. He went back to LA, flying out but keeping himself calm. He hadn't told any of the group he was out there. Tara he hadn't told more than he had business meetings. If she wanted to come, she could arrange it for herself. She was still having that same 'witches shouldn't kill with magic' ethical debate with herself. She knew how bad it could be. She would argue with herself all the way until she finally got to LA if she decided she was needed.
Xander found a nice hotel, not swanky but nice and it had room service. He checked in and found a few familiar faces. He walked around one, giving him a poke on the arm. The guy shot him a dirty look. "Far way from home?" The military guys around them growled but the other one laughed.
"Well, yes, but I'm sure we have reason. The same as you do."
"Not this week," John said dryly. "Next week we have meetings. This week is downtime."
"Yeah, mine too." He grinned. "Pop around and take me out to dinner like old times sometime this week?"
"Sure. You're here?"
Xander nodded. "Yup." He held up his keycard. John nodded so he smirked. "I've even brushed up on my poker skills." He nodded. "I need to go rest. I'm going to pop in on a favorite bookstore here later." He smiled and walked off. He'd feel a lot better during the invasion with John on his side. "Oh, three day margin of error," he reminded them.
"We heard." John watched then looked at Rodney. "I think I know where we got the storage area from," he said dryly.
"Probably." They went up to their block of rooms with the other soldiers they had brought from Atlantis. The other scientists were already asleep because they were exhausted. They were supposedly in for a unit R&R session. They'd talk to the kid later on about meeting with the local team. Though O'Neill hadn't been specific about the stresses going on within it, just that there were some.
The first possible day of the invasion, Xander was on the cliffs, by himself, watching the area they planned to use. It wasn't very high up but it was a dead end road and higher up so he had a good vantage point. To anyone it looked like he was sitting on his hood contemplating the sky. Not like he'd need a set of binoculars to spot the portal. He had enough stuff to keep him hydrated and fed. If he had to, he could camp here. The military guys were taking the three day margin of error to mean the last day. So they'd see. It was possible. Xander was using the time to think too. His muses knew there was a problem so they were quiet for a change. He had no idea what would happen after this.
The day after the military guys relaxed, Xander sent one a video capture to his phone. He was calmly driving down to the problem. John looked at Rodney's phone. "It's Xander." He accepted the video. "Shit, it's now." They gathered things and headed off, being beamed to the site. It was something that John was going to have nightmares about. Not even being fed on by a wraith was this fucked up. There were already hundreds of demons and more pushing to come through. It wasn't a military action, it was a mob.
Buffy grimaced when she saw who was calling. "What does he want?" she muttered, accepting the message. The video made her hop up. "We were wrong, it's now!" she shouted.
"They didn't do it," Angel snorted. She showed it to him and he went pale. "Where is that? That's not here in town." Willow wove the anti-sun spell around him and Spike and they left. He called some contacts. "We're going to be late to this one. It's by Oxnard." They got beamed and blinked in confusion. "What was that?"
"I don't care because there they are and the other people are in camo's. Military." She jogged up to one, killing the demon. "Their hands hold a poison," she told him. "One of the snake bite anti-toxins works." He called that in and let it be spread. She jumped in and worked her way forward. This was really bad and she needed a bigger sword. Though the guns were looking kinda handy at times.
"No wonder you told us it was going to be bad, Sammy. Should've used the bigger, more descriptive words you learned in college," Dean complained.
"Sorry, but how do describe this sight?" He shot another demon's head off and they reloaded before moving on. One of the military guys handed them better guns, getting a nod of thanks for the ammo. They walked on and it was easier. The larger caliber rounds worked faster. As long as you hit the head, it went splat. The military guys were getting the same thing. They spotted Buffy. She hesitated but took one and used it. "Slayer's here," he told his baby brother.
"Good! Is anyone else?"
"Yeah, I can see Spike. He's got a halo of darkness over his head. Looks like Connor too." That got a nod and they moved forward. They heard artillery start going off and glanced around. The military guys had it. "No Xander," he said more quietly.
"I'm not sure I would've come if I was him either," Sam admitted. They kept moving forward. "Someone needs to hit that portal. Shit, why didn't Rosenburg come!"
"She's eight months pregnant."
"Oh, yeah. Tara?"
"No clue," Dean admitted. They spotted their father up the street and nodded at him. "The military guys spread around that they've got poisoned fists," he called.
"I heard. This fucking sucks."
Dean grinned. "Yeah it does, Dad. Welcome to hell."
"There's no way I'm falling to this mess." They bunched together and kept taking out that side of the flow.
Xander was fighting his way forward too. He had the better shotguns already. He had a few of them and a large bag with ammo. The military guys all smirked at him for that. They knew who had found the excessive amount of artillery. Xander spotted the portal and ran back to the artillery pile on the truck, finding what he wanted. "Rodney, portal," he said with a point. That got a nod and he had help getting it set up to use on the portal while Xander jumped back in.
Rodney used the auto targeting to hit the portal. It cracked but didn't break. "Well, that wasn't effective enough. Get me something bigger!" They handed him something and he used it. Another crack. "What is that thing made of!"
"Fuck this shit," another voice said. "Use naqquadah tipped bombs," she ordered.
"That'll blow up all our people near there," he argued. "We don't need to lose them." He saw someone appear. "Tara!" She looked up and he helped her up. "What takes out the portal?"
"Magic." She looked and found something. She knew what it did and wove the spell around it. "Use that." He nodded. The other one on there scoffed but oh well. She accepted a hand down and a shotgun. She hated guns but she'd be damned if she wasn't going to help. A few guys had fallen back to be treated. "They're poisonous," she said.
"We got the shot, miss."
She smiled. "I'm Tara." The portal went down with a crash then a tinkling sound. She sighed in relief. "Thank you, Goddess." They moved forward. She knew how to use a gun. Her father and brothers had hunted. She noticed Xander. She noticed Buffy's group. She noticed the other hunters. She resisted the urge to shoot them too. Finally she ran out of ammo and there were still a hell of a lot of them. She handed off the gun and drew power, creating lightening. A few of the soldiers got mildly zapped if they were too close but nothing too harmful. The demons fried to a crisp. She put her hands down and smiled. "That helped."
Buffy looked back. "Thanks, Tara!"
"Hands!" she called, pointing.
Buffy turned and blew that one away. "This is so much easier than staking." The military guys cleaned up the rest. Buffy pushed back her sweaty hair, walking over to where Tara was. "Are you coming back with us?" she asked.
"No." She shook her head, hearing the sigh. "Because you guys are assholes." Buffy gaped, Tara didn't swear. Ever. "I'm sorry, Buffy, but no." She walked off, heading to find Xander again. He and the military group around him was still fighting the last few on that edge of the battle and something else. She stared. "When did the higher demon get here?" She called his axe and tossed it to him. "Xander." He looked up and caught it, then lunged for the higher demon. She looked around but Buffy had already left. Wonderful! She spotted Faith though. "Faith!" She pointed. "Higher ones!"
Faith looked then jogged over. "Damn it, I need a blade," she called.
"Here," Dean called, tossing her his backup. She caught it and lunged into that fight. Dean stared. "Xander's here after all."
Sam smiled. "Ethics." They went to help but the military guys were keeping them away. "Guys, we're actually hunters," he said, pushing one out of his way. "This is our job."
Xander got the higher demon and one of the other ones clawed him, making him yelp. Then it's head parted ways with the neck. He moved on to kill the one Faith was working against. It wasn't paying attention to him at all. It went down and he stared at her. "We're in New York if *you* need us."
She nodded. "I heard."
He shook his head. "Probably not all of it." He leaned on his axe, looking around. "Looks like we're done?"
"I hope so." She stared. "They got the last few." She looked back and Xander was gone.
Xander was in the medical tent because someone had dragged him off. Tara was bouncing trying to help. The doctors were glaring at her. Xander glared at the doctor. "Leave her alone."
"Fine. Mr. Harris, will the usual anti-toxin work on you?"
"It has in the past." He looked at the bottles and picked up one. "That's not what we used to use though." He looked at Tara, who summoned his medical pack. He found the general anti-toxin and took it, then handed her the bottle. "We use that on patrol. It's an herbal thing."
"You're getting the anti-toxin anyway," the doctor assured him. "Just in case. I'd miss your writing if you died." He grinned at her. She stuck him with the needle and helped the bouncy blonde witch bandage the cuts and scrapes. "Why a battle axe?"
"She's my baby," he said quietly. Tara finished up and the military guys sent them back to the hotel. "The rental car's up there."
"Was there anything in it?" she asked. He shook his head. "Then take a nap. You've got to be tired."
"Yeah." He went to clean himself up with a sponge bath and doing his hair. Then he laid down. It was a double room so she used the other bed once she had cleaned up. His mind was going in circles. It wasn't shutting up. He did the calming down exercises. Nothing. His stomach was still too tense to eat anything. So he got up to fix that problem. He grabbed his wallet and headed out to the brothel of his choice. Well it was near dark so he decided on a club instead. The single drink he'd allow himself would help too. Tara would huff but he didn't care.
John ran into Xander at the club. He nudged Rodney, who looked. The other military guys with them smirked. "Xan?"
Xander smirked, nodding them to come with him. "They're my crew," he told the guards.
"Sure, Mr. Harris. Loved the newest book."
Xander grinned. "Thanks, dude. The new DCIS or the newest Tral?"
"The newest Tral. Very funny with the tree."
"You know, they made me cut that down for decency." The guard laughed and let them in. His posse was a bit big but that was fine. They all looked like the day after a fight. Xander got a drink and headed onto the floor. The others followed. They didn't group around him but they were all relatively close by. One of them hung at the bar to watch over the group but that was usual for bodyguards.
John looked at his people. "Xander draws the relatively evil, people. So watch out for anyone who likes him too much." They nodded and picked their own pretty partners of choice. It was good to relax and let it out. They were exhausted but couldn't sleep, too wired from the battle. Xander was the same way. He was yawning but not ready to sleep yet. He was too tense.
Beckett got the newest viral video the next day, wincing when she saw it was the battle. She watched it. It was cut to show Tara electrocuting the demons. She sent a message back to the one who had sent it to her that she'd like to see the full footage. Someone she knew from high school was in it. They sent her the fullest copy they had. Beckett sent it to Castle's publisher friend with a note that the military was trying to block it out and did she realize her prized author had stepped in? It had that last fight with him and some brunette girl. Who wasn't Buffy. She knew Buffy on sight.
Paula heard her email beep and looked at her assistant. "What is it?"
She got into it, reading the message and watching the video. She knew someone who could use that. She called them. Plus Tara's phone to make sure she and Xander were all right. It went to voicemail but that was all right. Hopefully she was taking the time to sleep in today. She forwarded it to Rick. Her reporter friend pinged her with an instant message. She wrote back. They talked about it and decided yeah, the military was wrong. The people needed to know.
Xander's date of the day stumbled them into her home and stripped off her shirt. Xander purred and finished the stripping for her and took her against her couch. She howled and scratched but in the good way. She finally got off with a swear and pulled him around to kiss him and handle his own needs. He was so nice, he even gave oral sex. It was sweet.
John finally got back to the hotel about the same time Xander did, watching him wander in looking half asleep. "C'mon, I'll make sure you get to bed, Xander." Xander nodded. "You exhausted?"
"She was very nice."
"Good." He got them on the elevator. "How evil was she?"
"Don't know. Didn't ask. Just had sex." He grinned. "She was very nice."
"I'm sure she was." He walked him to his room, finding his room key in his back pocket. He opened the door and tossed it in there then let Xander wander to his bed. John followed to help him strip down then left them alone. Tara was snoring. Xander was asleep as soon as he laid down. Went back to his room to do the same thing. They had no idea the shit storm that was starting on the east coast.
O'Neill got the message that someone had taped the invasion and put it on YouTube. He moaned and told his superiors so they could get it stopped. That's when he learned Time had a copy of it. The New York Times had a copy of it. So did CBS news and one of the Christian channels to denounce it. He set up a quick conference with Buffy's group. That way the harmless ones were warned. This was going to be *real* bad. Not even the president could stop this one. Of course, he was in denial land. He didn't accept it as real because those weren't humans. Which was going to cause more problems.
Xander woke up the next day to the gentle nudge of Rodney. He blinked at him. "Did I sleep with you?" he asked.
Rodney snorted. "No, I wasn't that uptight afterward," he said. He smirked. "Breakfast?"
"As long as we can go somewhere that doesn't have demon cooks in the kitchen. The one here hates me and keeps shooting snot into my food."
"I'm sure we can arrange that," he said. Xander nodded, getting up and going to shower. "Do you need those looked at?" he called after him.
"No, I'm good. Thanks." He came out looking around. "Tara?"
"Off visiting someone." He got a nod and Xander went back to cleaning up. He came out to find something to wear and then followed him down to the lobby to gather the others. He found John complaining about the food. "So he said," he told him. "Let's go to Denny's."
"Not Denny's. Eww," Xander said, still sounding tired. "Same problem probably." He led them to a place he used to eat a lot and they got happy there. There was a demon in the kitchen but he was only doing dishes and didn't get to touch the food. The waitresses gave them awed look. Xander smiled. "I liked to eat here when I lived in LA." She smiled and got their food orders, coming back with coffee. The others showed up and she got to brag about it later that they drank coffee like it was going to be banned the next day. She got them to sign their checks too. Which confused most of them but that was fine. They were probably being modest.
Tara ran into the group coming back. "It's on YouTube," she told Xander quietly.
"Great," he said. "Who did that?"
"Andrew's new evil geek group."
He nodded, looking at the others. "The whole thing?"
"They cut it up into pieces, but yeah. Sorry." She walked around them and went to tell the others she knew in town, plus to scowl at Andrew for it.
Xander looked at them and shrugged. "Evil geeks, who knows."
"Rodney, prove to the evil geeks that they're posers," John ordered.
"Of course I will," he agreed dryly. He went up to their room to get his laptop and find them. The note from O'Neill asked him to be as evil as he wanted since Sam Carter was siding on their side about the military blackout only hurting things. "Yes, but people don't want to know this," he said dryly, hacking that group and making them miserable, evil wannabe minions to his wonderful evilness.
Xander shrugged at John. "I was going to pop in on my favorite bookstore for a signing today."
"Did you schedule it?" he asked.
"Kinda. For one."
"We can go. We could use a bit of book and magazine shopping. Right, guys?" They all nodded and went to change clothes into something better. Xander changed shirts to a goofy saying t-shirt. John snickered. "Paula would be horrified."
"Yup. Yay. It's comfy and relevant." He found his pens and made sure he had his wallet and key card then they left together. He got them all into cabs and paid for them too since they were escorting him. The bookstore was busy today but not horribly busy. He walked in and took off his sunglasses, mimicking Rick's stance. "Ah, my people." A few glared but one squealed. He let her hug him then grinned. "Since I'm local I figured I'd pop in and do the signing thing. Since I have new stuff out and haven't been here in months." She ran off to change the books she was going to buy. He smiled at the manager, his buddy from the writing group. "Howdy."
"Xander." He pointed. "Set up there, that way you can be seen." He nodded, moving a chair and table to suit himself. The patrons came down to see who he was if they didn't know. It made a lot of people happy that he had dropped in to sign stuff. He was clearly a fan happy author. The military guys got their own books and sat around watching. More people came in. Xander was going to be busy for *days* if he wanted to be. He was even nice enough to buy a new pen when his ran out so he wouldn't disappoint the people waiting on him.
Paula got the message of thanks from the book store, staring at it. "He did what?" she asked, calling his phone. "What did you do?" He told her he was surrounded by fans, who were happy. "Signing?" She nodded. "Okay then. Ask if they have previews of the newest book and read some of it." She hung up shaking her head. Her assistant gave her an odd look. "Since he was in LA by his favorite bookstore out there, he decided to stop in and do a signing for us." She shrugged. "I guess it was nice of him."
She snickered and nodded. "He is very good to his fans."
"Yes he is." She got back to work on the latest book from Rick. It needed some polishing.
Xander hung up. "Hey, Bobby, my publisher wanted to know if you got advanced copies of the newest one."
"I think we have a few in the back." He went to check. He came out with the box. "That's all we have so far."
Xander smiled and opened the box to see which one it was. "Cool! The newest hunter novel." He grinned. "I'll read a section once all these nice people are finished." The crowd clapped and cheered. He finished the entire line's worth of books and settled in to read the first chapter of the newest one. That box was gone by the time he was done. The crowd left very happy and the bookstore had an excellent day. Xander smiled. "Thanks."
"No, thank you. We only get this level of sales during Potter book coming out parties."
Xander grinned. "I'm not quite that good." He winked at John. "I'm going to dinner." He grinned. The manager shook his hand and let him walk off. "Ice cream, John?"
"Yeah, ice cream is a decent dinner tonight," he decided. His guys snickered but let them head off together since they were buddies. A few of them had gotten the newest book too. He and Xander caught up and it was nice. Calming. He asked about his friends out here and Xander stopped that one so he pried delicately, for him. He agreed, the kid needed better friends. Thankfully he was a great one.
Paula got the request to interview Xander about the fight and sighed, calling her. "It's Paula, I got your letter." She leaned back. "No, he won't speak about it. He's of the view it had to be done and he'd like to not be known for that. I'm not even sure if he knows that others have seen it." She listened. "I realize that but he and the blonde witch are both very private and she's extremely shy. Stutters shy and flinches around most new people shy." She listened.
"I'll ask him but I doubt he would. To him, that's a duty. You might ask the LA team, they might like to be known. Or some of the others if you can find them." She shrugged when her boss looked at her. "I think he might like to talk to you but not about that. Sorry. I'll suggest it but don't get your hopes up about either of them. Thank you for offering first." She hung up and moaned, rubbing her face before calling Xander.
"I'm getting interview requests for you to talk about the battle?" He choked and started on a 'hell no' monologue. "I know. I told her that, Xander. Calm down. Yes, eat more ice cream. Yes, I'll probably have some tonight too," she sighed. "How did it go?" She smiled. "That's wonderful news. Good job." She hung up and looked at her boss. "To him it's one of those non-issues as he puts it. It's something he has to do. Like he's in the National Guard."
"I can understand that viewpoint," he admitted. "Though I'm not sure it's good for his sales."
She shrugged. "He sold out the first box of his new book earlier when he showed up to sign things at his favorite bookstore in LA out of the blue."
"Huh. Interesting. How long did it take?"
"He signed then read the first chapter. By the time he got done reading, they were gone."
"Excellent news. That blonde?"
"Oh. I didn't realize. She wasn't in a dress and didn't have her hair pulled back." He walked off happier with that explanation. Harris did seem to have an aversion to the press. He certainly didn't play things up like Rick Castle did. He'd have to have the senior author teach him how to handle that better.
Paula called Tara to warn her and found her hiding in the 'forbidden forest' of the ancient book stacks because a reporter had shown up at the library with a cameraman. She sighed and called LA's headquarters. "Buffy, it's Paula. Xander's publisher. No, a warning. The press is presently stalking Tara and Xander over the battle. No, it's online and news people have seen it, Buffy." She smirked. "Yes, he was there. He and Faith got caught handling two huge demons at the end by themselves." She snickered silently. Buffy was such a spoiled bitch sometimes. "Yeah, I'm quite sure. It's on YouTube." She hung up and let her discover what she wasn't paying attention to. The girl needed a swift kick.
In their motel room Sam swore, nearly tossing his computer.
"What?" John asked from the table.
"We're on YouTube."
John looked at him. "What's that?"
"The place where you find all those stupid pet videos," Dean said dryly. "The battle or us?"
"Both. There's a Winchester channel with film of us hunting as well as the battle. We're linked to the battle's channel." He let them see it.
John looked at the first one. "I looked like hell. Can we erase these?"
"No. Only the person who put them up can."
Dean watched the next one and shuddered. "I sounded like hell doing that exorcism."
"Not the point," John said.
"I know, Dad." He looked at Sam, who had flopped backwards and pulled the pillow over his head. "It can't be that bad."
"Look at the subscribers, Dean."
He did and winced. Thousands of them. Yay. "It's a passing thing. In a month everyone will forget about it, do the denial thing."
Sam looked at him. "You know it's been on the CBN station for days, right?"
"CBN?" John asked.
"One of the God channels," Dean said. "With the telepreachers who think God needs money."
"Oh, them. No one really listens to them."
"It was on CNN this morning," Sam said, looking at him. "They've opened whole discussion topics about it."
"This keeps getting worse and worse, Sammy. Shut up," Dean ordered. Before he panicked.
"So, people know about the demonic," John said. Sam nodded. "What about the underground?"
"Oh, they know. One of their bigger people, who is a minister as well, stepped forward to denounce them and point out that they had lived among humanity for centuries and never bothered anyone."
John moaned. "I agree. Shut up, Sammy, before you give me a headache." He went back to watching. "They got Bobby too."
Dean looked at the comments. "They know the documentary was a fake. They say it's the guy from that fake documentary, and that he was probably trying to discredit Xander before he outed things. A few very sharp people and paranoid ones."
"We're never going to get any peace and quiet," Sam said. "We should head on." They nodded and packed, looking like they were going to the laundromat across the street. Then they headed off from there. They could be in Iowa by that night. There were plenty of quiet hiding spots up that way.
Xander came out of the hotel the next morning into an ambush. "Geez, people, quit. I haven't had coffee yet!" he complained. They got out of his way when he walked forward. "Is the president here or something?"
"Mr. Harris, were you at that battle?"
He stopped to stare them down. "Go. Away." They stepped back. "Now. That is a duty, not a fun topic. Scram." They fled. He finished his trek to get coffee, calling Tara on the way. "In the Restricted Room?" He snorted. "Basically, yeah. Ambush. I'll be back tomorrow night." He hung up and walked into Starbucks, seeing the smiles. "Give me the biggest you have, double sugar and real milk."
"Yes, sir." He made it personally and came back. Xander paid and added the change to the 'help us' jar up there. "Thank you, sir."
Xander took a sip, nodding. "Have a better day, guys." He went back to the hotel to hide. He ran into Rodney. "I got ambushed."
"Demons?" he asked.
"I'll be careful." He went to get his own cup of coffee. The hotel made terrible coffee. He got ambushed as well. "Well, what did you want? Or are you going to stupidly stare at me some more?" he demanded when no one said anything.
"Sir, you're Doctor Rodney McKay, right?" one asked. He nodded, giving them a look like they were stupid. "What was a scientist of your credentials doing there?"
"Working with the military." He walked around them. "Otherwise, no comment." He walked into the Starbucks. "Grande latte." The worker smiled and got it for him. He paid and pocketed his change, walking out drinking it. They were still there. "Did you have more pointless questions?" He took a drink.
"Dr. McKay, what do you do for the military? I didn't know they'd need a person of your skills."
"Well, today I'm looking over ship specs," he said dryly. "Why?" He took another drink. John was coming up the street. "There, pounce him." He walked off in the other direction. He needed chocolate today.
John stared at the cameras and lights. "Put that in my face and I will have you arrested for stalking, people."
"You're Colonel Sheppard, right?" one asked, smiling at him.
"Yes, but I have taste so please quit trying to flirt with me."
"You escorted the author Alexian Harris around Europe and Asia on a signing tour?"
"I did," he said, walking around her. "As a favor to someone we both know because of that death threat on him."
"There's still an active death threat?"
"Yes. We caught some in town last week," he said dryly.
"Oh. Were they after him?"
"I didn't get to talk to them. I only punched one." He walked into Starbucks, giving the worker a dirty look. "Grande, espresso and milk." He paid and put the change in the jar and walked off out the back door. They had to scurry around the building but by then he had disappeared into another store to browse and buy something then back to the hotel. One caught him doing that but oh well. She didn't squeal loud enough to bring the others. He called his people together to warn them about the leeches known as reporters. This was going to be really bad.
"Doctor McKay!" one reporter shouted when she spotted him, rushing forward with her microphone and the cameraman behind her. "Sir, what do you say to reports that you're building spacecraft?"
He stared at her. "What are you smoking?" he demanded.
"Sir, we have it from a reliable government source that you're building spacecraft, you're actually stationed on an orbital platform that is run by the military, and that you've known other species. She even gave us pictures of you meeting one."
He stared at her. "Anyone can photoshop anything," he said dryly. "You should probably be checked for whatever is eating your brain before it becomes terminal. That way you become a better human being." He walked around her.
"Sir, what do you say to the reports that the Stargate program has been active now for over ten years and you're actually working in another galaxy?' she called.
"I say one word. SECURITY!" They came running. So did Evan Lorne. "Major, this nice reporter just demanded a comment on a supposed stargate program and some photoshopped pictures of me with aliens."
"I'll handle it," he agreed, calling for backup. The general was going to eat someone.
"I don't have to say a word," she sneered. "Reporters are protected."
He smirked. "That's fine. You can still sit in jail." He bundled her off to the nearest police station to interrogate her. The general was coming and he only had to hold her that long. The camera was confiscated and Jack got to see the tape.
"Who was your source?" Jack demanded calmly.
"I don't have to tell you anything, General O'Neill. How are other planets though?"
He smirked. "This delusion of yours is getting worse. They might have to treat you for that."
"I can handle the seventy-two hour confinement."
"We're the military, we have our own," he reminded her, making her less smug. "Who told you what, lady?"
"I'm not telling you a thing."
"Which agency was she in?" Evan asked. "That way we narrow our search? She'll be joining you in a happy pill cell."
"I'm not saying a word without my lawyer."
"That's your right but you're not under arrest by civilian officers. You're under military arrest so that means our system. You still have the right to an attorney but it'll be a JAG one unless you have one on speed dial who is authorized in military courts."
She stared at him. "Why are you so scared of me?"
"Because you're spreading harmful lies that could impact national security when people start to panic and riot, lady. No one wants to see that."
A large demon appeared with a sigh, glaring at her. "You are endangering my eggs, woman. Desist!" he growled, making her flinch. "Now! Before I am forced to protect them by suing you and your company. Even if it wasn't for the debt I owe someone I would not stand your sort." He glared at O'Neill. "You just had to show up, didn't you?"
"Yes. That's what I do."
The demon snorted. "You're much like that boy. Pity." He disappeared.
Jack smirked at Evan. "I think that was a compliment. Right?"
"Yes, sir, being like Xander's older prototype is one to me."
"Good." He smirked at her. "So see, you won't win. Major, call people to investigate her. Doctor Carter isn't doing much today beyond bitching about magic." That would protect who Sam was since she was known as a Colonel in most circles.
"Yes, sir." He called the main base. "Connect me with Doctor Carter asap. The general wants her." He got connected. "Doctor Carter, the general has a reporter who has been fed lies by someone in the government talking about aliens." He nodded, reading off her ID's name and address. "Thank you, Doctor." He hung up. "She'll search it out right now, sir. You're right, she said she wasn't busy."
"Would that be Samantha Carter?" the reporter asked.
"No," Jack said. If she kept digging she'd hit a lava belt soon and be swallowed by it. They did not want this out there yet.
Three hours later, in DC, Jack led a small group of people to an office in Homeland Security. "This gives me great pleasure," he said smugly. "Riley and Samantha Finn, stand up and turn around, hands behind your head."
"What? Why?" Riley demanded, moving slowly and carefully. They had weapons pointed at him already.
"Treason for sharing classified information above your station, Mr. Finn." A JAG officer stepped forward to arrest them. "This is their unit's offices," he noted. "Search it." The team moved to confiscate all the systems and search everything.
Riley looked at his wife. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything!" she complained.
"Sir, the email was sent from Captain Riley Finn's email, but in his wife's name," one reported.
"Fucking yay, they both go," Jack O'Neill ordered. The others were staring. "They decided to try to out an eyes-only project to the press to salve their butts being chewed for not being in California for the battle."
"Some of us were there, sir," Graham pointed out. "And I know what you do as well."
"You've never told anyone else, Miller," Jack said dryly. "Have you?
"No, sir. Though it's on the news. I sent you an email about that."
Jack turned on the news. "Which station?"
"All of them." He flipped to a news station, letting him watch the present coverage. "I did try to take reasonable precautions and warn you, sir."
"Good man." He clapped him on the arm and called Landry to let him know. He could give the president an ulcer instead. It went with the job as leader of the SGC.
Xander managed to make it home without any reporters finding him. His home answering machine was full of them requesting some of his time but the cats hissed at it. "I agree, they deserve kitty hisses," he said, sitting down to pet them. He flopped sideways and let them curl up on him and around him. It was nice to be home. Tara walked in and shut the door, locking it again. "They bother you too?"
"Many times, especially to see if I knew about what John Sheppard does." She flipped on the tv to a news station. "The Finns blew that open."
"I really feel sorry for their asses due to the prison sex then," he said dryly. "And Buffy for being stalked since it's well known she dated him." She snickered, heading to change. One of the cats looked. "You can follow the mommy. She doesn't mind." He gave her a nudge but she licked his fingers so he petted her. "Okay, I don't mind if you cuddle instead."
They settled in to sleep around him. He shook his head. He hadn't really thought about pets before moving in with Tara. Now he couldn't remember when he didn't wake up to a sniffing nose trying to figure out his armpit or a sharp claw kneading his stomach. He petted them all and let himself drift off so he could ignore the news some more. That's what he needed, a nap like a cat.
John looked at his people. "We're cutting R&R short due to the problems of the press." They groaned. "I know, people, but it's not safe. Two of us have been jumped and one other has had to flee a whorehouse." They all nodded they had heard that. "So let's go back to the base and we can take careful day trips from there." They got beamed back once they had checked their gear and John had checked them out. He didn't want his people mauled by the reporters or the fanatics who had come out of the woodwork. There was no telling what sort of diseases some of them carried when they tried to sleep with the soldiers because they had met aliens.
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