Blinded By The Hunting.
Willow and Buffy were pacing outside the hospital room Xander was
in. Buffy felt guilty. She had said that Xander could handle
that one demon on his own. Willow was backing them both up but
Buffy had the harder demons - which made sense with her being the slayer
and all. Unfortunately, the books had been wrong about what the
demon could do. Nothing had said anything about acidic spit.
Or acidic sweat. Or any other body fluid that had caught Xander
and had burned him. His face had a lot of burns. His lips
were burned. The area on his arms that hadn't been covered were
burned. Even his legs had burned through his jeans. The
worst was his eyes. Buffy had realized that Xander was having
problems when he had screamed about the acidic whatever getting in his
That was a bad way to find out there was a problem with their battle plans.
The scream was going to haunt her for quite a while. Maybe even past death.
The doctor came out. "We've finished the eye wash," he told Willow, who was Xander's medical contact person.
"Is there any hope?" she begged.
"No." The doctor shook his head. "We saved the structure but
his corneas are burned. There's a slim chance a cornea transplant
would work but I wouldn't recommend it. There's a good
possibility that whatever did that burned more and we'll see more
complications later on. Was it a gay bashing?"
Buffy shook her head. "No, he and I were in the park and got
attacked," she said quietly. The doctor nodded. "So he's
going to be okay, just blind?"
The doctor nodded. "Yes. Do you know what he does for a job?"
"He's working construction," Willow sighed. She rubbed her
eyes. "I'll talk to his boss tomorrow. I think he has
disability insurance." The doctor nodded and let them go in to
visit Xander. He was heavily sedated but they could hug him, hold
his hand, and think bad thoughts until he woke up.
Buffy followed Willow into the Magic Box. It was after midnight
but she had told both 'adults' to meet them. She grimaced, looking
at Giles. "The books are wrong."
"They're what?" he asked.
"They didn't say a thing about acid anything," Buffy said quietly.
"Like the stuff that the demon slung at Xander. He's got a lot of
first degree burns all over and some got in his eyes." Giles went
pale, grabbing the counter.
"He's going to be all right?" Joyce asked calmly. Buffy shook her head. "No?"
"No, he's going to be blind and even a cornea transplant might not
work," Willow said. She deflated into a chair. "Even healing
spells won't work. I tried one like what we used on Buffy's cut
that time. It didn't do anything but ease a few of the
burns." She rubbed her face. "He's sedated. Spike's
sitting watch on the hospital to make sure no one's going to touch him."
"Then we've got to get him to leave the town," Giles said. The girls glared at him.
"I hate that it's a sensible solution but he'll be in more danger here,"
Joyce sighed. She sat down, pulling Buffy over to hug her.
"I'd never want to make the decision for him but if he's blind he'll be
in more danger than usual and it's not good for anyone."
"We have to tell Anya," Willow said. "We called but couldn't find her."
"She's off having dinner with one of her former friends," Giles
said. "She left a bit early for that." They nodded.
"So, what are his options?"
"Healing for a long time," Buffy said. "They're keeping him
sedated for right now." She pulled her hair back. "I don't
like surprising him with that decision. We should at least ask
him. It's his life."
Joyce nodded. "Of course. He needs to have an idea on where
he wants to move." She gave Buffy another squeeze. "Willow,
you need to find him somewhere that he can learn how to manage his
She nodded. "I need to check to make sure he has disability
insurance too." She looked at Giles. "We'll figure it
out. It'll be days before they let him out."
"It might be days before they let him wake up," Buffy agreed. She
looked at her mother. "I'm... This goes way beyond needing
ice cream, Mom," she said quietly.
"I know. It's the first real injury we've had in the group."
She got up and took her daughter home so Buffy could have some ice
cream and cry in private. She needed to let it out before she
decided to hunt out of anger and got killed.
Giles sent Willow back to the dorm to calm down and make plans. He had some heavier thoughts of his own.
Xander was allowed to wake up and tried to blink but found his eyes
taped closed. "Did they think I was dead?" he asked the person he
could tell was beside him.
"No, that's so you don't damage them any more, Mr. Harris."
"Damage what?" he asked a bit too calmly.
"It's perfectly normal to not remember the incident that damaged
you. It's a way of the mind protecting itself from the
Xander let out a growl. "What damage? I can't feel my feet or my hands," he said, starting to panic a little bit.
"That's the medicine we have you on so you don't fuss at the acid burns."
"What acid burns?" he growled. "Quit dancing around it. Please!"
"You were attacked by someone carrying something acidic. He
splashed most of your front. Your jeans protected your legs the
most but your shirt got eaten through before the paramedics got
there. I'm afraid you have third degree burns on your chest and
arms, and some second degree ones on your legs and shoulders. A
few second degree ones on your face as well." He reached up slowly
and carefully, patting around. "Yes, some of it did get into your
He deflated, making himself stay calm. "How damaged?"
"Very. The doctor will be in soon to do a bandage change. You can ask him." She left.
Xander patted around. He was in a hospital bed. He could
smell the casket factory's stench so he had to still be in
Sunnydale. He willed himself to not scream. He wasn't going
to give in to that urge. He wasn't. He would handle this
like the mature man he was growing into and then make sure whatever had
done it was dead. It'd be more dead than the Master was thanks to
Someone male cleared their throat from the doorway. "Mr. Harris, I'm your doctor."
"All we know is that you were out with a female friend and you got
attacked by someone carrying acid." He came over and touched
him. "It's going to sting a bit when I remove the bandages."
"Why am I still here? Usually I'd have been moved."
"Your friends have been watching over you. You've had a constant
guardian the whole time." He cut the bandages on the side of
Xander's head and unwound them. He tossed them into the bag the
nurse was holding. Then the pads over his eyes. Then the
tape holding his lids down. "Okay, open your eyes
slowly." Xander blinked a few times. "What do you see?"
"A shitload of dark gray. And a few flashes of minor light from about there," he said with a point.
"That's your bedside lamp," the nurse said quietly. She and the
doctor shared a look. She left him to handle the delicate
situation. He was a good man and not a vampire. He'd take
care of the boy.
When the doctor had examined them, put in new drops, and redone the
bandages he left. Xander was left alone in the dark. He
hated the dark. He really hated the dark. He had never liked
the dark and now he was confined to it forever. This was going to
Spike leaned down. "Slutty's crying again," he said in his ear. "She said she's sorry."
"Is the thing dead?" he asked.
"She set it on fire." He patted him hard on the head. "Need noise?"
"I could use a few minutes to process."
"Nope, not allowed." He smirked. "The girls or someone will want to visit later."
"I don't think it's a good idea because I'm about to start spewing."
Spike nodded, getting up. "I'll be outside and up the hall
flirting with the pretty nurse that reminds me of my princess." He
closed the door behind him. Willow had told him to give Xander
room if he wanted it. He had to grieve or something like
that. Spike had no idea why. He wasn't used to dealing with
ideas like this. Even with the wheelchair he knew he'd get better
sometime if he fed on the right source. He heard something break
and winced. "At least it's not crying," he muttered to himself.
Giles sat down beside Xander's bed, clearing his throat. "Xander, are you awake?" he asked quietly.
"Not much else to do in here when you can't watch tv," Xander said sarcastically.
"Yes, I can see how that would be a problem." He cleared his
throat and fidgeted for a moment then calmed himself. "It's
been... We've been talking." Xander nodded at that.
"We think it'd be better if you left town."
"Gee, just what I need. To start over again without any support
anywhere I might be familiar with," he said dryly. "Because, ya
know, that'll just make it *so* much easier."
"Yes, but it'd be safer," Giles said. "Not as many demons."
Xander turned his head to 'look' at him. "Bull fucking shit.
I carry enough hellmouth energy to draw them to me. At least here
I know who all the threats are."
"I think that someone might have a plan to capture you to use against the group," he said quietly.
"I'm not real useful for that now," he said. "The only thing they
could use me for is as a sacrificial victim. Which can happen
"Yes, but the vampires...."
Xander burst out in angry sounding cackles. "Really? We're
worried about *vampires*? When there's a crapload of vamps in most
cities? Which, again, I wouldn't be familiar with.
Therefore I wouldn't know my way around and wouldn't realize how to get
"That's a concern but there's also schools for the blind to help you
learn how to manage things for yourself." He cleared his
throat. "Most of them on the east coast admittedly."
"California's is in Fremont."
"Yes. There's one in about every state," Xander said.
"Willow showed up earlier to babble about the various ones. Also,
hate to say it, but I don't have insurance that would cover this sort of
thing if it doesn't happen at work. She was pouting about
that. Though she did think it was neat that my middle name is
shared by one of the schools. Also, most of them are for high
school aged kids. Willow looked at the one here, it's only for
people up to 22. Which I'm over now."
Giles sighed. "I hadn't thought of that."
"There's a whole lot of things to think about but I'm still not happy
with the whole 'push Xander away' thing coming back. I'm actually
safer where I know the territory. Not somewhere completely new,
not somewhere with unexplored threats, and not somewhere there's not a
job training program."
"There's regular disability," Giles offered.
Xander turned his head to 'look' at him again. "Which means I need
to move somewhere very inexpensive. SSI, as far as I know, is
only six-seventy-four a month." Giles hissed and winced.
"Yeah, not exactly something I can live on on the east coast."
"Well, perhaps we'll find something." He hesitated and patted him on the arm. "We'll work it out."
Xander nodded. "I'm sure I will. Has anyone heard from Anya?"
"She was here the next morning but you were sedated. I'll talk to
her when I get back to the store." He stood up. "Do you need
anything right now?"
"Less itchy from the burns. My eyes ache. The usual things I'd expect," he sighed.
"All right." He patted him again then left.
Xander growled and resettled himself in the bed. He seriously
needed to beat someone's ass. "Maybe I'll take martial arts
training now," he decided. "It can only help." He turned on
the tv for noise. The nurse came in to turn it down on him.
"I need the noise."
"You're too noisy," she said, smiling at him. "You'll keep up the cranky old woman up the hall." She left again.
Xander considered things. This sucked. This sucked on a
galactic scale that not even comic book heros could deal with.
Even Daredevil didn't have weeks like this one.
Willow huffed as she hung up. "It's not *their* fault their books
are wrong?" she said sarcastically. "Bull snot!" She threw
the phone and huffed, staring at her computer. It was wrong.
It was very wrong. Then again, so was the Council. She
opened her laptop and then closed it to go get a drink from the campus
bookstore. By the time she came back she had a good idea of what
needed to be done. She found someone that would make a good cover
for her activity and walked up to them. He stared at her. "I
want your help."
"With what?" he asked hesitantly.
"Xander got hurt because some idiots in England's books were wrong. I want to fix it for him."
He stared at her. Then around before looking at her again. "You want us three to help him?" he asked quietly.
"I can hack," she said dryly. "I need a good covering
group." She stared at him. "They're hoarding knowledge and
creating problems. Heck, they even tried to kill Buffy a few
He nodded once. "Sure. Let me get the guys together. What happened?"
She sat on the bench next to him with a sound like she was
deflating. "Their books were wrong and they won't take
responsibility for it being wrong. They never said anything about
acid that would burn Xander so badly or his eyes."
He awkwardly patted her on the back. "He'll be okay."
She looked at her hands, shaking her head. "No, they can't save his sight," she said quietly. "At all."
He winced. "Damn. We'll definitely help. One of us
owes our lives to Buffy." He patted her again. "Give me two
She looked at him. "The address?" she asked dryly.
He grinned. "We've been working on the Council for a few months
now, Willow. They're hiding some of the greatest stuff in the
world but they're kinda more evil than our group of evilness.
They'd be competition we don't want." He got up and walked
off. The other two of his trio were in class for another few
minutes. It gave him time to make plans. Willow would be so
amazed, Johno might even get to ask her out. She was his sort of
Willow stared after him, mouth slightly open. She had no idea the
geek trio were going evil. Huh. She'd have to tell Buffy.
Xander woke up with a mental groan when he heard the door open. "What?" he asked. "Medicine time?"
"No," Andrew said, coming in and sitting next to his bed.
"Great," he growled. "Who told everyone?"
"Willow asked us to cover her hacking." He grinned, patting him on
the hand. "They're so very sorry." Xander looked
confused. "We've been thinking about them being our evil
competition for a while now."
"Angel said that Wolfram and Hart are the ultimate evil corporation and
they're lawyers. They've been pissing Cordy off for months."
"Huh. We'll work on them next." He smiled. "The three
of us negotiated your retirement from the evil after-hours job you
had. Including your retirement fund."
"Retirement fund?" Xander asked.
"As in magical fingers investment method?"
"Yup." Andrew grinned at him even though he couldn't see it.
"There's also been some research about schools for the blind. The
local one won't work. They didn't have any links for adults who
suddenly lost their vision but there's groups that do help.
Including one-on-one tutoring." Xander grimaced. "That way
you learn how to read braille. You learn how to use the little
white cane and maybe a dog." Xander almost smiled at that.
"And they'll teach you how to get around since you won't be able to
drive. Though, you'll have enough for a driver." He
grinned. Someone opened the door and tossed in a note then
left. He read it and nodded. "Johno said that they're trying
to take most of it back. They're going to be miserable.
Willow's working on it too."
"Thanks," Xander said quietly.
"It's not a problem. If it wasn't for you guys, we'd be dead right
now. All big blobs of snake crap." Xander grimaced but
nodded. He patted him on the shoulder. "Got anywhere you'd
like to go to?"
"Here? I know the terrain here."
"Willow said that wasn't an option. Sorry?"
"No, Giles tried that too," he sighed. He shifted. "I get out in
two days. I still haven't talked to my girlfriend either."
"I can have Willow go tell the scary woman to show up." He stood
up. "Let me go help her. You rest. It's going to be a trying
few days, Xander." He left, going to tell the others that they
had to get Xander a retirement fund one way or another. No matter
what any hackers the Council had thought. They found Willow doing
something magical off to the side. Then suddenly the hackers quit
trying to attack them. Andrew looked at her. "Did you kill
"No. But they have no idea about anything they've ever done." She smiled. "How is he?"
"A bit depressed but I'd consider that normal. He wanted to talk to Anya."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea."
"They're dating," Warren pointed out. "I'd want my woman's input and so would you, Willow."
"Maybe," she said. "But Anya's not really ...normal."
"We know," the guys said.
"She's dating Xander, of course she's not," Jonathan quipped.
She smiled. "Thanks, guys. Just make sure they can't get it
back or trace it?" They nodded. She went to talk to
Anya. The guys settled in to deal with the evil things.
Andrew told them what Xander had said about Wolfram and Hart. They
were the ultimate evil corporation so they'd work their way up to
them. Though they had nice accounts too and no hackers on staff
for some reason. It was really dumb of the demons to do that.
Anya knocked then walked into Xander's room. "I was here days ago."
"I was asleep then," he said. He turned his head to face her. "So, how's things?"
"Bad," she admitted. "I'm not really happy."
"Think how I feel," he said dryly.
"That's something I don't really know how to do." She sat
down. "I know you're probably angry and upset about all
this." He nodded. "I have no idea what I could do to make
you feel better. Sex obviously isn't going to be enough, or even
cuddling. This might even take Dr. Phil's help."
He shook his head. "Counseling maybe but probably not. I doubt he'd want to hear about demons."
"He knows. He is one."
"Good to know. Confirms my theory about him," Xander said. He shifted. "Everyone's pressuring me to move."
"There are all those bad sorts who would bother Buffy or Willow trying
to get you for some nefarious plan. They'd never get anything done
thanks to them."
"I doubt most of them would and what about all the hellmouth taint I
carry? It caused no end of troubles when I was in Oxnard. I
saw more demons there than I have here."
She grimaced. "I have no idea how to handle that."
"Me either," he said. "Which is why I'd rather learn how to be ...this new me here, where things are familiar."
"Bu it's February, there'll be a battle soon. Then what'll you do?"
"No maybe about it. Willow was hearing rumors."
"There's some pretty areas that have schools."
"Mostly for kids."
"Oh." She crossed her legs. "I'm not sure what needs
to happen. I don't want to go somewhere people won't understand
"You know you're welcome to come with me."
"Yes but then I'd have to take care of you like you were our child until you got better. Which I can't do, Xander."
"I know." He reached out and she moved her hand so he could touch her.
"So I guess I'll get the furniture?"
He smirked, shaking his head. "Hell no."
"You won't care."
"I will care. I bought it. There's payments still due for another six months."
"Dirt. I don't want to deal with that."
"I didn't figure you did."
"Maybe Mrs. Summers will let me rent her basement." She got up and
kissed him on the forehead. "I'll see you in a few days.
I'll bring you some chocolate." She left, going to talk to the
others. Hopefully Xander would see sense.
Xander woke up in his new apartment. He could tell it wasn't the
hospital, it didn't stink. It wasn't his apartment, it didn't
stink like Spike's aftershave or Anya's perfume. Or her sweat from
all the sex. Also, the bed was a king and theirs at home was only
a full. He felt a crinkly thing under his hand and felt it.
It had raised letters that read 'play tape'. He patted around
until he ran into the tape player, finding the button with the little
play arrow on it.
//Yes, we had to move you, Xander,// Willow's voice said. //There
was a huge demon that decided you'd be a fun playmate so we evacuated
you. The trio of terror made sure that no one can track you, your
money, or any of your energy. We did something so nothing should
be picked up from you about that. As of the moment, you're in San
Diego. There's two former military guys who're going to help you
learn all about being blind and managing things like your safety.
Because we'd worry, you know that right?
//Anyway, they're two former Marines and they seemed pretty nice.
Joyce found them. They have ties back to the people that do the
guide dog stuff when you're ready. The apartment you're in is
yours for a year, renewable if you want to stay. It's got an
elevator and you're three stories up. Not too high in case of
emergencies or earthquakes. Not too low so you have to smell
exhaust fumes from the cars.
//You're a block from the beach so you should be able to hear it when
it's quiet. The building has a doorman who knows that you've just
recently been blinded. So he'll help with groceries and stuff if
you need it. Also, if they ask if you want a Ramaren puppy, say
no. It's a hellhound offspring. It's cute and protective but
scary. They'd never let you on busses with it.//
Xander snorted. "Busses, great," he muttered.
//Maybe some day you can hire a driver type person, who knows.
Anyway, I left all the information on your stuff on the desk. The
geek triad agreed you'd never have to worry about anything and if
someone tried something they were going to get mean and give you
more. So don't worry about that stuff. Also, after the
regular training you can move wherever you want and do whatever you
can. I have no idea what sort of career blind people can do.
I couldn't find any research on it. So anyway, we'll call real
soon. Rest, get better, all that. Behave, be safe, don't
date girls like Anya. We love you and miss you already.//
The tape cut off.
Xander threw the tape player against the opposite wall.
"Feel better?" a male voice asked.
Xander turned his head that way. "No. I can't beat the shit out of someone."
"I've had that feeling, kid."
"I'm twenty-three." He sat up and winced. "How badly am I still burned?"
"Few on your legs. Your back's sore because they dropped you while
carrying you, however they were carrying you." He walked in and
looked down the back of the guy's t-shirt. "Few good
bruises." He let him go. "I'm Arnold. There's Jerry
who'll be in later." Xander nodded once. "You don't seem too
"As soon as I woke up they were trying to get me to move."
"They said your town's dangerous." He patted him on the head. "How long were you in the hospital?"
"No damn clue. I've been awake four days I think."
"Okay. That account?"
"Not my doing. She was trying to be sweet and the people whose
books were wrong, which led to me being burned, were who she was taking
it out on."
"Like bomb making?"
"No." He grinned. "I have no idea how to explain that to you
without suggesting a day trip up to Sunnydale. Though you'd
really need to stay in all night so you don't die."
"I heard about some whacked out project up that way."
"The group I was part of helped shut them down." Arnold hissed, so
he had probably winced as well Xander decided. "If they said
anything about Buffy? I worked with her."
"Yeah, heard a lot about her from some of the drunkest people I've ever
met." He patted him on the head, earning a wince. "Still
"Don't apologize. How'd it happen?"
"I was helping defeat something bigger and stronger than me that we
didn't know sweated acidic stuff. Which he sprayed me with."
"Ow. No wonder you're still burned." He helped him up. "Bathroom?"
"Please, yes. I'll even sit down."
"Might be easier at first." He led him in there and gave him some
privacy. "When do the bandages come off your eyes?"
"I'm wearing bandages?"
"I'll see if the redheaded babble patrol can get your medical records
then." He called her, walking out into the living room. "We
need Xander's medical records, the full thing if possible. Also, I
heard what was on that tape, Rosenburg." He listened to her
babble and the thing in the background sneer that she should be on
Janus' side by now. Then it die loudly. "What was that?"
"Did it sound gruff and tell Willow she's a bad witch?" Xander called.
"It's name was George and it's a people eater. It wants her as a wife."
"Oh, okay." He listened to her. "Sure, we'll come up and get
them." He hung up. Something was seriously wrong here and
he needed the right information. Because that kid wasn't the
average non-trained civilian who had gotten hurt. He knew that
just from the single time he had met Rosenburg and Mrs. Summers.
He helped the kid out to the couch, making him grin. "What do you
"Whatever one of us felt like cooking? I wasn't home all that often."
"Okay." He went to make him something from the freezer and brought
it out. The boy inhaled the scent and got happy, slurping it down
as fast as he could. He didn't make too much of a mess either.
Arnold talked to a friend that night who wasn't in San Diego, but who
had contacts pretty well everywhere that counted. He got them a
dossier on the boy done by that group they helped shut down, the same
one that had all those newly drunk people on their base. He also
got them film. Which explained a lot about why those guys were
drunk. He and Jerry went over it together. They got one of
the base docs they trusted, who handled the Special Forces guys, to come
see the kid. Two days later they had a better medical report, the
better dossier done by people who had actually talked to the boy, and
more film that made them drink even more. Apparently the kid
realized what was going on because he offered them tylenol all the time.
Yeah, the kid needed a lot more help than they presently could give but
they'd help him get as close to everyone else's idea of normal as they
Clearly the boy needed normal.
Jerry, who was Xander's other helper, looked at the kid. "You're about ready to start PT."
"I used to work construction. I did PT all the time for work."
"Well, now you get to learn how to do it differently." He
grinned. "Let's start to see how strong you are. The
building has a gym." He helped him up. "It'll also help when
we start working with the cane so you can figure out how to get
"That might be okay."
"Good!" He got the kid downstairs and to the gym, testing him on
the various equipment. He was taking good notes but the kid was
being wishy washy. He suddenly upped the lifting weight he was
pushing and the boy groaned but handled it. "So, construction?"
"Yeah, I'd just barely made crew lead," he said quietly. "If I
must, I can lift up to about one-fifty in a dead lift. Average, I
try to stay under eighty."
"That's not bad," Jerry said. Arnold walked in. "We're going over what he can do."
"Not yet," Xander said. "If we must I run like a girl.
Mostly because I was surrounded by girls. That and the gym coaches
didn't want us to really run very well."
Jerry looked around then at him. "Blue guy?"
"Judge?" Xander said. "Wanted to kill everyone for having emotions."
"Huh," Arnold said. "We saw the film."
Xander grinned. "That was a nice birthday present for her kind of."
"I thought Rosenburg babbling was going to warp my mind," Jerry complained.
Xander grinned at him. "I've known Willow since the first day of school."
"I guess that's why you run like a girl," Arnold quipped. "How're
we doing?" Jerry showed him and they went back over a few machines
to see his max weight. They got him working on how to use the
cane afterward. How to tap it, how to tell when you ran into
something and where it was relative to you. The boy had good
relative visualization of his space but crappy balance. So they'd
work on that. A lot.
Jerry walked into Xander's apartment and shut the door with a slam,
locking it as hard as he could. "Xander, you're in trouble."
"What did I do this time?" he called from the bathroom. He came
out with his electric razor in one hand and a wet washcloth in the
other. "I haven't been out in days."
"There's some people looking for you. The person we got your file
through heard someone else was sniffing around and they're of the
"Great," he growled. "Wolfram and Hart or the Watchers Council?"
"One's a law firm. The other's mostly Brits."
"Law firm probably."
"Yay," he muttered. "Okay, well...." He started to look
around and sighed. "Can you find my phone?" It was handed
over. "Call Cordy." It dialed and he sat down. His
razor and washcloth went onto the coffee table but Jerry moved it off a
magazine. "Cordy, me." He put her on speaker.
"Xander?" she asked.
"Where the hell are you? We heard rumors that you left town? Got run out of town?"
"Some demon we were fighting spit acid all over me, I'm presently blind," he said quietly.
"Oh, God," she hissed. "You're what?"
"In San Diego and there's rumors that your law firm people are looking my way as a sacrifice?"
"Huh. Angel!" she bellowed. "Wesley!"
"What?" a male voice called, sounding a bit cranky.
"Wolfram and Hart are trying to get Xander?" she demanded. You
could almost hear her tapping her foot in the background. "He's
blind, Angel. Did we hear that?"
"No, I hadn't," he admitted. "Harris?"
"Yes," he said patiently. "I'm hearing rumors of sacrificing lawyer scum?"
"Yeah. It happened recently but that's why they decided I had to
leave everything I was comfortable with. Lawyer scum?"
"I'll look into it."
"Can we do it quickly?" Jerry asked.
"Who's that?" Cordy asked. "Is he cute and single?"
"No clue, can't see him," Xander said dryly. "As for single, ask
him. His name's Jerry and he's one of the two guys teaching me how
to handle things."
"Someone tried to ambush us on our way back to the base to meet with
some buddies," Jerry said. "They weren't military of any
sort. Not trained to attack at all. He asked if they were
British but they didn't have accents. They demanded to know where
he was so they could kill him."
"Sounds like the lawyer scum," Cordy agreed. "Give me a few hours to ask some people, Xander. Where are you?"
"Good! I'll be down this weekend if you're still there." She hung up.
Xander hung up and put his phone down before he threw it. He was
throwing a lot of things these days and his phone was necessary for
now. "Okay." He leaned back, making Jerry move where he was
leaning. "My accounts are all set up and protected?"
"Yeah, when we heard the sort they got it from we had it moved somewhere airtight."
"Not a problem, kid." He patted him on the head, getting a
wince. "Doc said that concussion was older but would heal
"I'm sure it will." He looked at the door when someone knocked. "They can't trace your phone."
"Wolfram and Hart have government contracts," Xander said. He got
up and blindly felt his way to the tv stand, finding his gun behind
it. He felt, the bullets were in it. It felt full. He
walked over to the door and opened it, pointing his gun in the face of
whoever was out there. "You'd better be a missionary."
"Mr. Harris," the man said. "I'm with Wolfram and Hart."
"With my past, that's a really good reason to shoot you. You've got about ten seconds to tell me why I shouldn't."
"We're aware that someone hacked us on your behalf."
"Wasn't me. I was in the hospital."
"I can see the bandages. Could you actually hit me?"
Xander sniffed and nodded. "Yes, the hyena says you stink.
She's growling about soul rot and things like that." The man
backed up. "Keep going. Your ten seconds are nearly up."
"Do you know who did that?"
"Do you care that that's illegal?"
"Which is different than being on an anti-demon patrol how?" Xander asked.
"Um...." The lawyer considered that. "I'm not sure what you mean."
Xander cackled. "Boy, I used to work with Buffy Summers. As in the slayer."
"Oh. Dear," he muttered.
"Yeah, the mayor said that before he went sploosh. So did the Judge."
The lawyer swallowed and backed up further. "I had no idea you were part of the Sunnydale group."
"Know many other Xander Harris'?"
"No. Not actually." He cleared his throat. "We'd like to talk to the people who hacked us."
"I have no idea about any of that. I was in the hospital, mostly sedated."
"That's fine. I can report that."
Xander smirked. "Report that now I'm a bit paranoid and I'm going
to destroy anything or anyone that comes near me. It might save
someone's ass." He shut the door. Jerry took the gun to look
over. "I know what to do with them. I learned over the
"That's fine. Just making sure." He looked at the kid. "Are they going to come back?"
"Possibly. It depends on if they think I have value." He sat
down, barely on the chair. He shifted to get comfortable.
"What was I doing?"
"Shaving. Though you missed half of your chin."
"This sucks. I'm growing a damn beard."
"You can manage it." He took him to show him how to do it the
easiest way. When the door blew in Jerry still had Xander's gun
and his own. That solved that problem and the PD was there before
the last of them fell to the floor. They actually took the last
shot. "Guys, I'm his caretaker. He's newly blind." He
held up the gun. "That's his."
Xander leaned out of the bathroom. "Pawn shop bought but registered through them last year."
The police officer closest frowned and pointed.
"It's real new," Jerry said. "That's why I'm helping the kid learn what he needs to know."
"I still suck at it," Xander said.
"It takes time to learn new things, kid."
"Yup, which still sucks."
The officer shook his head, pulling Jerry away to talk to him.
Another went into the bathroom to talk to the kid. She kept him
calm and got him talking about all this.
Jerry looked at one's ID. "Kids, this one's a Brit."
"His son works with Cordy in LA. Hopefully he's dead since he
tried to wet works me when I was seventeen. Then Buffy and Faith
last year." He patted around. "My phone?" The officer
went to get it for him and he called her. "Cordy, me. I
think we just shot Wes's dad when he broke into my place. Here's
Jerry, yeah him." He held the phone out. "Jerry,
Cordy." He took it to tell her that name.
"It's him," he said, hanging up.
"Whoo-hoo, one less person who wants to kill my ass," Xander said
dryly. "If one's named Travers it'll make my damn year." He
went back to the bedroom to curl up on his bed. "How many were
"You know a lot about them?" the officer asked.
Xander nodded. "A bit. They keep trying to kill some of my
friends and they consider me the scab from underneath Satan's
tail. They've tried to kill her a few times."
"Are they a US firm?" she asked, sitting on the foot of the bed.
"No. British." He grinned. "By Stonehenge. My
former mentor was one of them but they fired him for giving too much of a
"Huh." She went to talk to the officer in charge, who was getting
what he needed from someone on the phone. They got the mess
cleaned up and talked to Jerry about him going to a more protected
location since he was so helpless right now.
When they were gone, Xander walked out there. "I'll still shoot
'em. Even if I can't see them." He went to get a
drink. He had learned how to pour milk without it spilling all
over. Took a few times but he got the trick.
Jerry watched the kid act like it was nothing unusual. He knew
commandos that couldn't pull that off like the boy was. "How many
times has this happened?"
"Them? Once. As far as I know. They tried to get Buffy
three, four times." He sipped his milk. "They hate me
because I did back up Buffy. It was supposed to be her, her
watcher - one of them - and that's it. Then I warped things.
So yeah, I'm like the scab that fell off the underside of Satan's tail
for them." He took another drink. "So now what? I can
feel the tension all the way in here and I'm pretty sure it's not sexual
"No, you're still not my type," he said blandly. "Let me talk to Arnold."
"Sure. Can I watch tv?"
"Go for it, kid." He went out to the hallway to call his
buddy. This totally was out of their depth. They may be
Marines but they weren't used to homicidal secret societies.
Especially not foreign ones. "How do you feel about planes?" he
called a few hours later.
"Never been on one. I might not want to go on one with all the
ones that've crashed if I could see the ground getting way too tiny."
"Then it's good you can't," Jerry joked. Xander grinned at him for
that. He liked the kid, he really did. The kid didn't
whine, start on a 'why me' thing daily, or try to be annoying.
He'd miss the kid a lot.
Xander got escorted to a warm, damp, humid place. There was an
apartment with a lot of light. There was a beach nearby and a
highway. There was a lot of noise. He closed the window with
a wince. He turned to listen to Arnold talk to whoever. "I
don't want to be a bother," he said.
"You won't be." The stranger smiled. "There's a good school
here in Hawaii. They have an outreach center for the older of you
who need help. They'll set you up with someone to help you take
care of the house and someone to teach you how to do things."
Xander nodded. "Other than that, it's a lot safer here.
There's a lot of tourists but the community pretty well gets to know
regulars." He walked over and helped the kid to a seat. "How
recent is the injury?"
"Under a month."
"Then you're doing okay so far, kid." He patted him on the head. "Anything I should know, Arnold?"
"Did Jerry tell you about the British secret society sorts?" That
got a groan. "Or that we got a file on him that made us both get
drunk for almost a week?"
Xander grinned. "All in the wacky that was my life. I really
should talk Spike into moving in. He'll pick on me but it'll
definitely be safer."
"He showed up once. We don't want to think about Spike," Arnold
said. He looked at his buddy. "He's going to try to stay out
of trouble. Out of his old life before they find him that way."
"Wolfram and Hart probably tracked a pizza delivery and the Council
probably got it off them," Xander said. "Either that or my scary
ex's, Cordy and Anya, might've spilled."
"That's another thing. While he's here, try to set him up with something nice," Arnold ordered.
"Something? It's okay if you're bi, kid."
Xander shrugged. "I've had girlfriends. I haven't really done much thinking about the whole gay thing really."
"His ex Anya gave us both a headache," Arnold told his buddy. "We
were with a few of our fellow Marines, mostly still in service, and we
*all* had to drink after a half-hour with her."
"She didn't try to kill me," Xander said. "It was nice. She was there, she liked me."
"The other, Cordy, is a princess. A scary damn princess.
Mack, there's SEALs who thought she was too scary to mess with."
Xander burst out cackling, curling up some to laugh. "So if you
can, find the kid something nicer."
Mack Wolfe smiled at his buddy. "I can try."
"Thank you." He shook his hand. "Let me get back there. Jerry's finishing the packing for him."
"He still can't steal my pistol," Xander said.
"Including his pistol," Arnold sighed.
"Hey, I could ask someone to get my stored stuff in Sunnydale."
"It's coming too. We asked someone to ask Rosenburg." He
rolled his eyes since the kid couldn't see it. "The file we have
on him is in my bag." He got it for his buddy. The detective
read it over, nodding slightly. "He's not to go there."
"It might make me safer if I did touch base," Xander said. "Without divulging my location."
"There's a whole bar and it's on another island," Detective Wolfe
said. "They got run out of everywhere else so they built on one of
the smallest of them."
"Sorry, but it'll definitely be safer if they don't know where you're
staying." He closed the file. It was already giving him a
headache. "We'll introduce you to some nice people. Maybe
find you someone nice to date. Then you can work on all the
retraining. Including going to one of the local dojos that works
with the blind community on balance and learning how to tell your area
"That would help," Xander agreed more quietly. "Thank you. I know I can be a pain."
"There's some extraordinary circumstances but otherwise you're still
learning. It's only been a month. For now, get settled in
and relax. We'll deal with things." Xander nodded, letting
them help him into the bedroom so he could rest. It had been a
long, tiring flight in coach. Mack came back and looked at his
former running buddy. "This is bad," he said quietly, waving the
Arnold nodded. "That's the better one. We got one that was full of crap."
"Any of them local to here?"
"Wolfram and Hart maintains a corporate apartment but it's on another
island." He handed over that information. "The Council has
no one local."
Mack nodded as he read it over. "That's good."
"The kid's also a bit vindictive. He called some friends and asked them to take out the law firm for him."
"Don't know," he admitted.
Xander snickered. "Maybe. They said they're missing Warren
since he tried to shoot Buffy. Willow apparently snapped and fried
his ass when Buffy complained about a gun." The older men both
groaned. He grinned. "If not, I've got a call in to someone
"That's good. You rest, kid. I'll bring over your helper
later or early tomorrow. Can you handle it tonight?" Xander
nodded. "Good." He left with his buddy. "I want that
"Talk to Jerry."
"I can do that." He shook his hand and took him to talk to the
outreach people. They had everything set up, they just had to
introduce the kid. That would help him get more comfortable in his
apartment and where things were.
Xander was sitting on his tiny balcony a few days later, sipping some
tea. Thankfully they had gotten him plastic cups since he had
found them by knocking a few down. His housekeeper was a
flake. Seriously. His teacher wasn't too bad but his
housekeeper was bad. She was also a demon, he could smell it on
her. She huffed from the doorway. "Keep it up, watch me find
my old hunting stuff," he said quietly.
Xander turned his head to stare in her direction. "Go get my
wallet." She did and he found the thing he had put into one
pocket, holding it up. She gasped and started to babble. He
put it back. "I'm not really in a good mood," he said quietly,
putting the wallet next to him. "I haven't been in a good mood in
over a month. Especially not since I keep hearing someone
"They're not Council. They're on vacation. They're nice
older people who have a second home here. Most of the Council goes
to the Carribean when they want a vacation."
"Uh-huh." He sipped his iced tea. "What are you doing to the shower?"
"It smells like slime."
"It is, but it's cleaning it very well. It's all natural and won't hurt the fragile sewer system we have here."
"Oh, okay. Just warn me so I can hide out here from the stink. I hate slime."
"Sure." She went inside to call the trainer he had. They had
no idea he was from Sunnydale. That was going to suck for him
when the big thing happened next week. But she was sure she could
find a nicer person to help. He was a bit...angry most of the
Xander's trainer was leading him around the beach to practice using his
cane when he heard the fighting. "Great," he muttered.
"You're in no shape," she said firmly.
He laughed. "When have I been in shape?" She moaned. "What is it? Mugging? Demon uprising?"
"No, they're having a party later."
"I heard." She winced and hissed. "You might tell them I'll kill them all."
"Sure," she said weakly. She walked him off while calling the
beach cops about the attempted fighting going on. "You really
should lay lower."
"I do until something comes for me."
"Then I get to let out all the anger I have about all of this on
something." They nearly ran into someone and he sniffed. He
knew that scent. He smiled. "I like your perfume,
ma'am. My last girlfriend wore the same scent." She laughed
and swatted him. "Though I do wish that I could benefit from all
the people that are planning on screwing with me for the rest of my
life. Preferably in a way that means I can buy a driver and a
house somewhere. Or multiple houses." He kissed her on the
cheek. "Hi, Kelsi."
"Xander," she moaned. He grinned as they walked off. She
went to check with D'Hoffryn. Her skin was itching to grant that
one. "Harris just laid a loaded one."
"I heard and that would complicate things but not stop them
fully." She granted it and then they saw all the plans
unraveling. "How?" he asked, looking at them.
She laughed. "Anya said every evil thing wanted a Xander of their
own." She disappeared to talk to him. He was clearly needing
someone to listen and maybe kick him around a bit. It'd be like
therapy. His soul was screaming 'victim' to her. It was
tasty and he was good from what Anya said.
Later that night, Xander woke up after having been taken from his
apartment. He could feel the ropes around his wrists. He
could hear the shaken voices and the screaming going on from the other
captives. "Fuck this shit," he muttered. He found his pocket
knife in his back pocket and opened it, using it to first cut something
on his arm by feel. Then the ropes. When nothing happened
he felt around until he found it then he cut it.
He felt warm suddenly. Very warm. The feared voices were
babbling and trying to get away from him. He handed one his
knife. "I want that back." He made his way out there,
following the noise. They had nicely smoothed the path out for
ease of dragging sacrificial victims. He heard a cheer showing
that they had just killed someone. So he called up that hint of
'oh shit' from Sunnydale. Oh shit was what Giles had called it
when he had realized how much taint Xander was carrying from the
hellmouth. Plus some latent magic.
"Look, he's choosing his time," one shouted, pointing at him.
"Why yes I am." He muttered Willow's explosion spell.
Nothing. "So we'll do this my way." He concentrated and let
the power out. It leaked. They glowed. A few
screamed. And then the cops showed up. Xander passed out and
the building went up. That helped them a lot since it was just
the roof and two walls - not the people or the demons.
Xander woke up in a familiar smelling place. "Hospitals, yuck."
"Stay," Detective Wolfe ordered.
"Am I under arrest for saving my ass?"
"No, you're in radiation lockdown."
"My town has a nifty spot that's a thin spot between realms."
"Uh-huh. You're glowing." Xander patted his arm. "We bandaged that."
"We need to seal it and then redo the lines I cut."
"That's just weird."
"Yeah but it's meant to keep it inside." He smiled. "I doubt I could do that again though."
"Good! We have cops in therapy, Xander."
"Definitely." He patted him on the head. "Thank you
for doing that. Even if you did destroy most of the building."
"They deserve it. They were renting it but the owner's filed for
his insurance by now I'm sure. They shouldn't want to come after
"Welcome." He watched the kid get comfortable. A nurse he
knew wasn't human came in. She was green and looked like she had
bug eyes. Clearly not human. "Ma'am?"
"Present," he sighed.
"What did you do?"
"Let out the hellmouth taint?"
"Clearly!" She sealed the cut on his arm, healing the lines back
into proper form. "There, don't do that again." She patted
him on the head and handed him something. "Tootsie pop?" He
grinned. "You'll get out soon. I'll tell your doc.
He's not one of us but he knows about Sunnydale." She left, making
notes on his chart.
Detective Wolfe shook his head. "Yeah, that's weird."
"Sunnydale is full of weird. Sorry to drag you into it." He
unwrapped his sucker with some help and stuck it in his mouth with a
sigh of pleasure. "The evil one that does my house hates candy."
"I'll talk to her."
"Check my wallet since my bank account said it was shorter than it should be?"
"Um... yeah, I can do that." He went to the kid's house. It
was cleaned out. He got someone from Robbery there to handle
it. At least the suspect pool was small. They got all his
things back by that night and it was nicer. They even got most of
his money back from his housekeeper, who thought he wouldn't be needing
Clearly she had underestimated Xander.
From his files, that happened a lot.
Not from the Hawaii PD anymore but maybe it'd help him land a good girl some year soon.
Xander faced off with the new instructor. "What do you call situational awareness?"
"That time when you realize you're about to be attacked so you notice a lot more going on around you," Xander said.
The instructor blinked. "That's a good time to use it. Now you need to use that more often."
"I'm trying but my balance is shot and things that're below my knees are tripping me. A few even bit."
The instructor smiled. "We can work on that. Balance could
be because of the injury? I'm told you're not naturally blind."
"No, it was an acid attack while I was helping with my former friends
and our town vigilante patrol." The instructor snickered.
"Seriously. Our town has a twenty-six percent death rate."
"Shoot, no wonder." He was still smiling. "Someone splashed you with acid?"
"Something like that. Thankfully most of the burns are gone."
"Any hope for a transplant?"
Xander shook his head. "No. I need to see someone better
than the one I saw back there but they said no. So now I have to
learn to get used to this," he finished with a sigh. "I'm not
adapting very well."
"I'd be pissed off too, Harris." He walked him over to the matts
and balance beam on the floor. "All right. Slight step
up." Xander overcompensated but that was normal. "We have a
balance beam on the floor. So you can't do more than stumble."
"My balance truly sucks," Xander warned.
"I noticed you're wobbling while standing. A lot of newly blind
people do." He helped him onto it and the kid stumbled. "Had
your ears checked?"
"Not unless they did it at Sunnydale General. Or the Special Forces doc my first helpers made see me did."
"Hmm. We'll see." He helped him back onto it and helped him
walk down it. "It ends about a half footstep in front of you," he
warned. Xander tried to turn and stumbled but got back up
there. "Are you on any medicines?"
"Nothing for pain?"
"Is it working?"
Xander's snort sounded a bit bitter to him. "No. I don't want to be a junkie though."
"If it's used appropriately you won't be."
"Both my parents are drunks. Addiction does run in my family. It loves us."
"Still, we can see if you can get an as-needed something. We have
docs here who can recommend a good doctor for you." He kept
working on the kid's balance. He clearly needed some things
examined. He got the person who referred you to better specialists
in to talk to Xander about his medical records. Xander said that
his former people may have given them to Detective Wolfe but otherwise
no one was sure. They got him set up with a new eye doctor and a
regular one to check his ears and other things. Then they let him
go home and sulk on his balcony. His helper could help him make
Detective Wolfe looked up when someone walked up to his desk. "Can I help you?"
"You have medical records for a Mr. Alexander Harris?"
He leaned back in his desk chair. "I do. Why? They were given to me in confidence."
"We'd like to subpoena a copy," he said with a smile.
"I'm betting you're with the law firm that was trying to sacrifice
him." The man glared. Mack smirked at him. "The answer
would be no. Not without his permission and a court order."
"I do have the court order."
Mack looked it over. "I don't have to comply with that." He
handed it back. "You have a better day somewhere else."
"I'll still get them."
"You have no reasonable reason to have them." He called
Xander. "One of those lawyer sorts they warned me about is here
for your medical records, kid."
"Want me to come shoot 'im?" Xander asked. "I'm having a bad day. I can do that."
The lawyer laughed. "I doubt it. You don't really have the vision necessary do you, Mr. Harris?"
Xander was back in evil mode; Mack could hear it in his voice.
"Who said I need it? After all, other senses do compensate.
Including the ones that I learned on patrol with the slayer." The
demon backed up looking scared. "Now, leave the nice detective
alone please. If you want me that badly, you come at me.
Annoying me any other way means I get to be vindictive." He hung
Mack smirked again. "Boy's right." The lawyer stomped
off. Mack got back to his paperwork but he'd talk to the kid later
about things. He was still too pissed off.
Xander weighed his options and then called someone in LA. "You
still owe me." He listened to the guy complain. "No, the
fucking lawyers. I don't care *which* Power likes it." He
snorted at the answer. "Then I should get to destroy them for my
fun, right? Well, you *do* owe me," he said dryly. He
listened to the complaining noises. "Up to you. I can come
back there and team up with Cordy to help me. Not an issue,
He grinned. "Thanks! Well, hell, I'll take all their net
worth, all their hierarchy points, and them being turned into the
government but I'll settle for most of the law firm's net worth."
He smiled. "Sure, you have fun with that and let Cordy do
some. She sounded stressed when I called. Thanks,
man." He hung up and got himself a bottle of water from the
fridge. He turned and nearly fell over a chair but pushed it back
in. "I hate furniture," he complained, going to sit outside
again. It was shady on his balcony this time of day and the noise
did him good. Made him feel less cocooned.
Some day he'd be able to get back to kicking butt.
The eye doctor looked at Xander. "The acid did a very bad
job." Xander nodded he knew that. "So did your local
"That doesn't really surprise me. Did they make it worse?"
"They didn't make it any better. You wouldn't have nearly as much scarring if they had gotten you to a specialist sooner."
"Doc, Sunnydale's hospital has a really high killed patient rate. I'm lucky I survived my week or so in there."
"Why aren't they reported?"
"For the same reason my town has a twenty-six percent death rate?"
"Ow," he muttered, making that note. "How would you know?"
"I was on our town's protection patrol until this happened. We were in a fight when this happened actually."
"Well, that explains some of the scars I see all over your chest."
Xander nodded. "Want the bad news or the bottom line?"
"They didn't think a transplant would do anything."
"No, it won't. Bottom line is they managed to save the eye
itself. The other has a serious infection in it." Xander
groaned. "The discoloring that was noted is one. Not a
"Is that why I'm off balance all the time?"
"That could be, yes. We'll give you something for it. How are you doing on your retraining?"
"I suck," Xander said. "Things that weren't there before are
suddenly in my way and all sorts of things." The doctor smiled, he
could tell. "No, seriously." He got up and walked around
the office carefully and sure enough a table moved into his way.
"I do." He stared at the table. "Are you magnetic?"
"Not that I'm aware of. If I am I wish someone would tell
me. I'll decorate in wood." He got helped back into the
chair and sighed. "I think it's a plot by someone to injure me
badly enough that I need to go back to the ER. There's a law firm
that wanted my medical records for some reason."
"I have no idea about anything like that," the doctor said. He
wrote out the prescription. "Have them get that filled."
Xander nodded. "It's to be taken twice a day, with food if
possible. You probably should eat more often. You look a bit
"I can't really cook, Doc."
"Didn't they get you a temporary housekeeper?"
"I had one, she stole everything out of my house. Which was nice, I
didn't trip for a few days. I've been eating sandwiches a lot."
"I'll talk with the coordinator for you." He made that note as
well. Xander got released back to the school's driver and sent
back home. He went to call the school's coordinator. Someone
seriously needed to be watching out for the boy.
Xander got what he wanted ordered in and set up in his living
room. He smiled at the demon that appeared. He heard him
appear. "So, do I open the bottle, pour blood into it, and then
make a wish or do you guys leave me the fuck alone?"
"That would destroy a great many lives, Harris."
"Yup. It might."
"It might destroy your friends."
"The ones who decided I should be wasting away in my apartment and never
get outside again? The same ones that complained that my trainer
got me out onto the beach to let me walk around in the light because it
might be *dangerous*? Or the ones that decided I was incapable of
doing more than sitting on the couch eating brownies because I was now
helpless? Maybe the one that called me while slightly drunk
and guilty feeling but told me he never should have let me help the
group because I was normal?"
"Um...." The demon stared at him. "You're really pissed off at them, yeah."
"Okay. Well.... Just don't bleed into the bottle,
okay? Or break it or anything like that? That'd be really
rash and stupid."
"No. It'd end the threat of anything ever coming for me again from
a demonic source. Mostly because there wouldn't be any demons on
this plane. They'd all be banished."
"Yes but that could release three Old Ones back as well."
"We fought Wilkins."
"Oh. I forgot about him." He shifted his stance, looking at
the very calm, forcibly insane human in front of him. "Most of us
"No but the ones that are think I'm going to suck my thumb when
something happens so they take advantage of it. Like the nice one
that stole out of my bank account."
"We wouldn't normally do that."
"Uh-huh." He checked the stopper.
"No, don't move that." D'Hoffryn showed up and tried to take the
bottle but it was protected as long as the stopper was in. "He's
really upset, Lord D'Hoffryn."
"I can tell he's insane."
Xander giggled. "No, just tired of the shit. Between the law
firm, some of the lesser ones that think I'm vulnerable....." He
grinned. "Sending most of them back to their home planes doesn't
sound so bad."
"It could kill a lot of demons."
"A lot of Sunnydale may be killed when the three Old Ones appear."
"If they appear," Xander corrected. "Two are dead."
"Fuck," D'Hoffryn said. All his vengeance demons screamed in fear
and ran for another plane. Their boss didn't swear. That was
a bad sign. "Just... don't. Let us see if that wish can
"You'd think it would've covered those that tried to sacrifice me," Xander said dryly.
"They were poor. You only wanted monetary gains."
"Or the law firm that's been moving things around so they could get my medical records and blood."
"They're higher beings. We don't have a thing to do with them. We're forbidden."
"Maybe I should go to LA. Work with Cordy for a bit on that
problem." The demons shuddered. "Then there wouldn't be much
that you couldn't handle, right?"
"With how many demons in LA might run for safety, no," D'Hoffryn
said. He summoned one of his people. She stared at the
bottle. "Tell his former girlfriend Cordelia to please call out
for me." She left. She paused on the way to the Hyperion to
tell a demon bar that Harris had a Bottle of Ancients. Suddenly
everyone paid their tabs and left, calling their friends and
family. "Let's talk and see where the problems are, Harris.
"Thank you." They settled in to talk to him. Maybe they could calm him down.
Buffy looked around as demons started to leave by the truckload.
"What is going on?" she demanded, stomping over to one. "What big
thing just appeared?"
"Your former helper is going to destroy all of demon kind for some of us
screwing with him," he sneered. "You clearly didn't do him any
service sending him away!"
"Yeah! At least none of us wanted to sacrifice him," another complained.
"Xander can't do anything, guys. He's blind," she pointed out.
"Except get hold of an ancient artifact that would destroy all of us,"
they told her. They left. They still had time to get to
their native realm.
"What?" she demanded. "Xander can't use magic!" She stomped
off to talk to Anya. Who was now packing. "What did he do?"
"Somehow he got hold of a bottle with three Old Ones trapped in
it. All it takes is a bit of blood to awaken them," Anya said as
she packed her pants. "He's a bit upset since some demons broke in
to kidnap him to sacrifice him and a law firm is trying to get his
blood too." She walked around Buffy to grab more clothes.
"Anyone with any sort of demon taint is leaving this plane. You
should too since the slayer essence is from a demon."
"I'd have to stay to protect others." She walked off calling
Xander's cellphone. Which was out of service. She got the
number from Willow, who had the new one. She called him and nagged
into his voicemail about losing his temper. Clearly something
needed to be worked on. Maybe some nice therapy? She walked
into the Magic Box. "What's a Bottle of Ancients?" Spike
moaned, shaking his head. "How bad?"
"There's a few. They're not hard to find but no one wants
one. It's too bloody dangerous." He looked out there then at
her. "Someone pissed off the whelp?"
"Apparently. He's not answering his phone. We can't go to San Diego to talk to him in time probably."
"Probably not since they had to move him to Hawaii to protect him from
the Council tossers," Spike agreed. She gaped. He stared at
her. "They thought they'd take their shot." He lit a
cigarette and took a deep draw. "Well, your job's going to be
boring." He went to collect his poker debts. That way maybe
he could hide on another realm too. Though Harris respected
him. Hated him but respected him. So maybe he wasn't on the
menu? Angel was probably a goner but Spike might just survive.
Everyone else in town said Xander's temper came from his parents, so of
course he had finally snapped and was going to kill every demon in the
world. Blood had finally told.
Mack Wolfe showed up at Xander's the next morning, staring at the kid. "When was the last time you ate?"
"I had a sandwich last night."
"Why?" He looked around the kitchen. "The bread's green, Xander."
"That's probably why I feel a bit nauseous."
"We can go to the ER."
"No we can't. Not until that law firm is gone."
"What are they looking for?" he asked. "Where's your debit card? I'll order you something for lunch."
"She nearly emptied my account anyway."
"You got that money back."
"No, not according to the bank I didn't."
"Damn it!" He called someone to handle that. "You're getting
an executor." Xander shrugged. "You don't care?"
"Make sure it's not the law firm?"
"I can do that." He saw a new bottle on the table. "What's that?"
"The reason most demons decided to flee last night."
Mack stared at it. "I was wondering why."
Xander grinned. "I got tired of being fucked with so I lost my temper."
"Okay." He finished making his calls. He could afford to buy
the kid lunch. He clearly needed it. Something nicely
subtle so it wouldn't upset his stomach. Then he called the school
to talk to someone about that housekeeper. He came back.
"Do you still have your trainer?"
"The PT guy I see three days a week."
"No, the one who's supposed to be teaching you how to do the normal guy
things." Xander shook his head. "Since when?"
"Since they tried to sacrifice me. They never came back either."
Wolfe walked off muttering to get the food from the doorman. Who
was scowling but yay. "What? The kid cause you problems?"
"Some of us can't leave."
"Then I'd tell the others to quit screwing with him." The doorman
looked horrified. "Apparently it's an epidemic." He walked
off. He got Xander sitting down and eating. Xander didn't
want to go to the ER. He refused any bloodwork. Mack got him
talking about why. When he finally got the real reason he called
his ME friend to come draw some for some quiet testing that he assured
only the three of them would see. Xander relented because he
wanted to know too. And if someone spied maybe it'd help stop
On a demon realm, D'Hoffryn was watching what he had prompted to
occur. They needed to know how far the boy would really go.
When they saw the results in his bloodwork, they decided it didn't
matter. It was too dangerous to let go on. He sent his
minions out to start working on the law firm for demons. He sent
another few at the Council. This seriously sucked but hey, the kid
respected him so he might live, right?
Mack Wolfe looked at the antigen tests and then at his ME friend. "This is really bad."
"Yes, it is." She burned the papers. She had made digital
copies but the originals were destroyed. "What are you going to do
"I think... I'm going to see if the kid can afford a real
housekeeper and bodyguard. Someone with more training than the kid
had, since he learned on the job, and then I'm going to suggest he
spend the summer with my cousin. Who has freaky things happen
around him so he'll deal real well with it. Plus he's a former
Ranger so he can vet bodyguards better than I can."
"You're sending him to Jim?"
"More to Blair for a few weeks."
"Okay." She shrugged. "You know the kid better."
"Can you tell me what to give him for the eating of green bread?"
"Yeah, I can do that." She got him a prescription written. "Is he on anything?"
"He was for his eye but that just ran out."
She nodded. "Okay." She handed it over. "Go fuss over
him. It might help him calm down and maybe if he talks some of
that anger you noticed will calm down too. It doesn't sound like
the kid's made any friends."
"No, and his are nagging him that he should be in the house all the time, being *safe*."
"That's a horrible way to live. Especially here in
paradise." He nodded and left. She made sure the electronic
copies were sealed with a good password. She did not want that
getting out. Though it was something Mack could figure out if
something happened to her.
Xander was helped into a seat at the nice restaurant he had been invited to. "Good afternoon."
"Good afternoon, Mr. Harris." He nodded at the obvious helper.
"Detective Mack Wolfe. I watch over the kid."
"That's reasonable." He smiled. "I have a fairly simple
business proposition for him." The waiter paused to fill water
glasses then left. "I've heard Mr. Harris has a bottle in his
possession that I would very much like to own." Xander sniffed and
then drank his water, nodding slightly. "Yes, I am half. It
is to save everyone."
"To be honest, I got it on buy one-get one free sale." He
smiled. "But it worked. Me holding it means that no one
really wants to sacrifice me anymore."
"There is that, but there's ways around that which would mean more protection. Including having money."
"He had money, someone stole it," Mack told him. "We're working on getting it back for him."
"I'm prepared to pay eight billion for those two bottles."
Xander stared at him. "To use?"
"To have destroyed."
"There's another ten around."
"Yes, but even if you owned them you have two with very loose caps and someone else may want to buy them to destroy them."
"Are you aligned with the Council?" Xander asked.
"No. I actually loathe them for their methods. As I heard you do?"
"I've worked with Buffy, Kendra, and Faith."
"Then you are him."
Xander grinned and nodded, taking another sip. The waiter came
back. "Is there something like soup? I unfortunately ate
something that didn't agree with me last night," he asked.
"We have some very good chicken noodle soup," the waiter offered with a smile.
Xander grinned back. "Please. Some bread on the side?"
"Of course. Garlic or regular?"
"Garlic," Mack said. "It'll help his stomach." Xander nodded
that was good. He ordered something simple and the businessman
ordered something with pasta. When the waiter was gone he looked
at the businessman. "That's an awful lot, even if they are
"If the seals weren't broken on them they'd be less dangerous."
"There's another that has a loose seal," Xander admitted. "It's
got a dead Ancient thing in there too. One has two gone, one has
He considered it and wrote an email to someone. "I'm talking to an
associate who may like to buy that one from you." He put his PDA
up and smiled. "That way we can get the truly dangerous things
gone." Xander grinned. "Were you going to use them?"
"Wolfram and Hart is trying to get me."
"Oh!" He nodded once and hissed. "That's troubling and a good reason."
"That and I'm apparently the wanted candy of the universe in some ways."
"Well, some of your draw went down when you did release that on the
group trying to sacrifice you." Xander grinned. "Though it
was a good plan and I heard it saved most of them."
"They got two before Xander stopped them," Mack agreed quietly. "They've since all been put in jail too."
"Wonderful." Their dishes were brought and the waiter vanished
again. Mack tasted some of Xander's and then let him eat it.
"Are we that worried?"
"Considering how many times I've tripped over things that move on their own in my apartment? Yup," Xander admitted.
"That's a good reason then. Please, eat. You look like you
could use a few good meals." They dug in and talked over the
particulars of the deal. He knew how to set things up so no one,
not even the government, could touch his money. Not identity
thieves, no demons, nothing. His friend finally wrote back with
his offer and they agreed it would be better for everyone. Xander
brought him back to his place to pick them up. The cashiers checks
had already been wired to the accounts - Mack had made sure - so things
were going well. Finally.
Mack looked at the boy. He had a housekeeper now. One who
could travel with him. She cooked really good. She liked to
make Xander eat. Her last employer had been wheelchair bound so
she wasn't going to balk at his disability or him trying to figure
things out. "All right, kid." Xander turned off the tv to
shift in his direction. Mack sat across from him. "Two
things. How's she working out?"
Xander grinned. "She's amazing. She made dinner."
"She's supposed to make you dinner." He stared at the kid.
"The person who's handling your accounts wanted to suggest a few
things." Xander nodded. "One being that you quit renting
because it's a liability if you have to move or something
happens." Xander nodded again. "So we're thinking about
where you might want to do that."
"I like it here," he admitted. "Not on the highway but I like it here."
Mack grinned. "There's a few nice places around here.
Including a room for Gretchen." Xander nodded at that idea.
"Second, there's a cousin of mine who can help you find someone to train
you better. As I recently found out he has a connection to the weirder
community and the academic community. He's taken up with an
Anthropologist of all people and that guy seems to know half of
everyone. We think he can help you find someone to train you
easier." Xander relaxed and grinned. "That would give us
time to find you a decent place to live and you might think about one on
the mainland for hurricane season. That would be an okay place to
do that. It's pretty safe up there. My cousin's a detective
"Okay. So a quick vacation up there?"
"Yeah, that'd be for the best. Blair would love to help you.
He's that sort of guy." Xander nodded. "Anything you want
in a house for sure?"
"Floors I don't slip on?"
"Maybe somewhere that might be dog friendly for when and if I get a seeing eye dog?"
"That could help too." He smiled. "For now, Gretchen, can you travel to Cascade with him?"
"Of course." She gave Xander a bottle of water. "Does he have an apartment?"
"A monthly rental place." She nodded, going to check on things. "Would that work for you, kid?"
"I guess. He won't put me down because of all this?"
"No." He smiled. "That girl at the bar was stupid,
Xander. You only have a few scars and you were protecting people
when you got hurt. It was her being shallow, not your
injury." Xander nodded, sipping his water. "Good boy."
"Are we telling your cousin in case something comes up while I'm there? Since it has in San Diego and then here?"
"I can slip him some information without telling him everything."
He patted him on the head, seeing the wince. "Still?"
"Yes," he sighed. "It's slightly better though."
"Good!" He left them to talk about what to bring for the
moment. He called his cousin on the way back to the office.
"I'm bringing you someone who needs your new partner's help. Long
story, check your mail. I sent his file to you a few days
ago. Yes, as in. No, not former officer or military.
That's fine. Call me back when you read it, Jim. No, he
needs a trainer sort. Plus I think Blair would help him a
lot. He could use someone to talk to. Thanks, call later,
Jim." He hung up as he pulled into his parking spot. He
hoped Blair knew someone good. He fell outside the income
guidelines at the local school's outreach center. They wanted
major money to help him. Which Mack understood. Too many
couldn't afford it so they charged the ones that could. With the
theft from one of their people they weren't being very..helpful
either. And hey, maybe Blair could introduce Xander to some nice
Mack walked Xander into Jim's unit. "Guys, watch out for him for
me please," he told the staring detectives. "I'm handing him to
Blair for a few weeks."
"I'm not that helpless," Xander complained.
"A female arms dealer wanted to steal you last night," Mack said.
"Maybe they know some nice, normal girls, Xander." He looked at
his cousin. "Jim, this is Xander. Xander, this is my cousin
Jim Ellison." They shook hands. "No Blair?"
"Twenty more. Traffic accident by the school," Jim said.
"You guys sound very alike," Xander said.
"We're nearly twins," Mack said with a smirk for his cousin. "It used to piss off his father when he got us mixed up."
"That's cool," Xander said with a grin of his own. He sniffed and
'looked' around. "Are we near the drug lockup?"
"No," Jim said. "That's someone in the interrogation room in the
next room over. He was smoking hard when we caught him."
"Okay, then I won't expect it to smell like this all the time." He grinned. "That'll help me identify where I am."
"That'll work," Jim agreed. Blair came off the elevator and came
over, dropping his bag onto Jim's desk. "Xander, this is my
ride-along partner Blair. He also takes up my spare room with a
lot of very dusty books."
Xander held out a hand. "Hi."
Blair shook it. "Hi, Xander. Jim shared what happened." Xander nodded. "How are you coping?"
"I'm... well I have friends who think I should curl up in a corner and die."
"Of the yelling that he went outside sort," Mack added.
"He got me a housekeeper who feeds me," Xander said with a smile.
"Good. It's going to take a while before you can get back to the point of cooking for yourself," Blair agreed.
"He can?" Jim asked.
"Yeah. As long as it's simple he'll be able to chop by feel and
put things into a pan or a pot. I know a few blind people who
can," Blair said. Xander grinned at him. "Come on, you
clearly need lunch. Let Jim and his cousin talk. No cane?"
"I'm still trying to learn how to use it. That and braille. I
pick up languages okay but they're reading ones, not spoken.
Feeling them is not going as good as spoken ones."
"That's something we can work on. I speak a few myself."
Blair walked Xander off, one hand lightly on his arm to guide him.
"Later this week I'll see if my friends have time for dinner.
Right now they're up at our school in Vancouver, Washington. They
won't be back until Saturday."
"That's cool. I was working with the center and school in Hawaii then the housekeeper they got me stole from me."
"That happens sometimes." He got them onto the elevator and down to his car. "She's a classic," he excused.
"I know nothing about cars," Xander admitted. "I used to drive. I guess now that's Gretchen's job too."
"Probably but there's other ways to get around. Walking is better for you anyway," he said lightly with a grin.
Xander grinned back. "I've been jogging on a treadmill. It doesn't usually trip me."
"That's good." He took them to a burger place. A guy
Xander's age would be more comfortable in one. Blair summarized
the menu categories and read off what was in that one when Xander picked
one. They settled in to talk and eat.
Mack looked at Jim. "He's just passed his two month anniversary of
being blinded," he said quietly. "He's a good kid. He's
very self protective. He knows there's people who'd like to see
him dead because of what he used to do and where he's from."
"I got that part of the file too. An arms dealer?"
Mack grinned and nodded. "Yeah. Offered him light artillery
for sex too." Jim groaned, sitting down. "The two that
handed him to me to watch were former Marines. They said that his
last two exes scared them and their buddies who talked to them."
"Why did they send him to you?" Jim asked.
"A psychotic law firm who wants to help rule the world and a secret
society out of England." He handed over that file. "That's
also on the group that his former group helped end."
Jim read through it, giving him a strange look. "What?"
"Yeah. Keep going." He sat down.
Jim read about that project and growled. "None of the Rangers I know would've stood for that."
"At least one was a Ranger. The last page is what a hacker I know
found about personnel lists." Jim read it and went back to
growling. Mack smiled. "So, Xander's very self-protective."
"Great, two trouble magnets out to lunch together," one of the other
detectives quipped. Jim glared at him. "Should you call and
check on them? Before he's taken hostage too?"
"Blair's not that bad," Jim complained. "It was only the once."
"He's only been around you for three months, Ellison," the detective
said. "He's nearly gotten blown up twice now." Mack laughed,
shaking his head. "Is the kid that bad?"
"He'd probably handle it or they'd want to date him. Someone
wanted to sacrifice the kid because of where he was born and the kid
destroyed most of the building for them. We're not sure *how* but
we found him afterwards because of that. Saved a few other victims
too." He looked at Jim, seeing him looking at that last
page. He looked and pointed. "Fell into an old grave doing
construction," he said quietly.
Jim nodded. "His housekeeper?"
"Nice lady." Mack smiled. "Can shoot, I made sure, but is a
nice older lady. Who's a bit blue but otherwise really normal and
cooks pretty good."
Jim shut the folder and handed it back. "He needs someone who can protect him."
"He still need someone to train him," Mack pointed out. "They can
be a bodyguard at the same time if you find the right one." He
stood up. "When the people the school in Hawaii sent him stole
from him, they decided to almost shun him."
"Blair said ours has a sliding fee scale."
Mack shook his head. "He has money. He found a few things
and sold them for a lot of money. He also has a conservator to
make sure they don't steal from him again. We're getting back the
rest of the other stuff."
"That's good." Jim considered it. "Where is he staying?"
"He and Gretchen are sharing a two-month rental place above the coffee
shop on your street." He smiled. "That way he's close enough
in case he needs something because another arms dealer wants to date
"They have three stairs and then an elevator," Jim said.
"He's learning how to get around. He's still got some balance
issues. The physical therapist at the school was helping him with
that. I'm pretty sure Blair can find someone to help him up here."
"Probably cheaper too. Blair knows a lot of people." Mack
smiled. "What's going on at his apartment during those two
"He's buying a house. His conservator said it'd be better and
easier. He is former military. He knows about that project
and the law firm."
"That's fine." He considered it. "We can help the kid.
I'll even introduce him to a few nicer officers." Mack
smiled. "Is he ready to date?"
"He'd like to have someone there all the time again. It might help
him a lot. He's still got some anger over the way his friends
railroaded him out of his former life. Jerry said they moved him
sedated so he couldn't complain."
"That...sucks," Jim decided was as nice as he could be about it.
"Same friends?" Mack nodded. "Blair's a good friend to
have. He'll get him straightened out pretty fast."
"That's what I was hoping for. Or I'd have asked Nick since they were in the same sort of business."
"Boyle?" he asked. Mack smirked and nodded. "That explains a lot."
"Yes it does." He grinned. "Anyway, I'll be on their couch
tonight to make sure there's no problems." He nodded at the
imposing African-American man in the sweater vest who walked past
them. "I'll let you know how the house search is going. He's
not asking for a lot. Off the highway, a bit of lawn, dog and
tripping guy friendly as he put it. Enough room for Gretchen and
maybe the trainer if they want. I also suggested the kid find
somewhere that's nice for hurricane season."
"That's reasonable with how everything goes during storm season," Jim agreed. "LA? It'd be closer."
"He's from three hours outside there. The law firm has a main office there too."
"Okay, two strikes then. Hell, I'll talk to Boyle myself to see if there's a safer area so the kid won't have to do that."
"That might help." He shook his hand. "Let me go rest.
The kid had his second flight and there was turbulence so he spent it
babbling about stuff in Latin and clawing my arm up." He left.
Jim called someone, walking off to talk to them in private. "Nick
Boyle please? Jim Ellison. He'll know." He got onto
the elevator and went down to his truck. "Nick, long time no
hear. No, I have a reason. Mack, my cousin in Hawaii, sent
me a kid to help for a few months. Newly blind. From near
LA. Does things like you do according to Mack." He
listened. "Xander Harris." He listened to him look the kid
up. "He has what? Well, that's probably what he sold to make
sure he had enough money to protect himself from a stupid law firm and a
secret society in England. Talking to Blair. Is he
He listened. "Faulty records. He was in the group that
stopped them. Mack has his full file. There's some stuff
that I want to disprove." He rattled off Mack's cellphone
number. "That's his. He said he was going to talk to you
about the boy if I my new ride along partner couldn't help him.
Thanks, man." He hung up and considered it. Then he called
another contact to see what they knew about the kid. With that
difference in the profiles, one had to be wrong. Which one he
wasn't sure and he didn't want to trust his guide to someone who might
What he found out did not amuse him. Or Nick when he shared it.
Blair smiled at Jim as he walked into the apartment. "I got Xander back to his place."
"That's good. I stopped over there. He... Chief, he does some really strange, weird, dangerous things."
"I know about demons, Jim," he said dryly. "I've seen many of them
over the years I traveled." Jim relaxed. "The fact that the
kid used to hunt the bad ones doesn't really surprise me. Even
Naomi wouldn't go into his hometown. She went on a cleansing
retreat after reading about it. She made sure we never got
anywhere near that town even if it was the closest place to sleep."
Jim nodded. "So he's good?"
"He's good." He wiped his hands off. "Xander's group was the
protection society in town, Jim. They took out things that were
very bad. Mostly that were attacking people. I asked
him about his local PD and he said they did *nothing*."
"From their stats, they did less than that. Twenty-six percent death rate."
"That's with them working to bring it down."
"Yup." He grinned. "Mack seems pretty nice."
"He is. I called a person we heard deals in the strange stuff too."
"That's fine. I called one I know." He grinned. "Is
yours in San Fran?" Jim nodded. "Then maybe they know each
other and can talk." He got back to fixing dinner. "How did
the rest of your day go?"
"No cases. I told Simon about the kid and let him see what Mack
sent through the mail. That way if something happens Simon knows
that it's not going to be normal."
"Good idea. His last girlfriend tortured unfaithful men for over a
thousand years." Jim moaned, going upstairs to change
clothes. Blair grinned. He loved freaking Jim out
sometimes. Jim was just so...straight he needed to be bent at
times. It'd do him good.
Xander opened the door at the knock. "Do we know you?" he asked.
"I'm Nick Boyle, this is Alex Moreau. We're in the same business
as you were working after-hours. Can we come in, Mr.
Harris?" Xander got out of the way. The walked in and Xander
shut the door. Nick looked at the slightly blue looking
housekeeper. "Ma'am," he said with a nod.
She smiled. "Xander's a very nice boy, people. Don't upset him."
"Why would they?" Xander asked.
"Xander, they're from another group that's about as old as the Council but not as evil."
"Oh, sweet." He turned to face them. "So, what's wrong?"
"You know Jim Ellison?" Alex asked, sitting down.
"I met him yesterday, why?" He sat down. "Please,
sit." Nick sat. "Let me guess, someone freaked about one of
the unauthorized profiles done on me?"
"Yup," Nick said with a smile. This kid was a smartass. "And that you have some ...artifacts in your possession."
"I do. They're keeping the Council and Wolfram and Hart far away from me."
"You sold a few?" Alex asked.
"Mack and I made sure they didn't want to use them."
"That's good," Nick decided. "Can we go over what's in both your
profiles to make a better one? Our group would like one. We
don't trust the Council."
"They tried to kill me a while back," Xander admitted. "Do CPR one
time and it freaks them out." Gretchen walked off giggling.
"Can we have something to drink, Gretchen?"
"Sure, Xander." She got them iced tea and left them alone to
talk. She didn't need to know. She knew what was in the
demon underground's profile of the boy. The Legacy was in for a
warping talk. It'd do them good, make them resettle on the side of
the light again.
Nick Boyle walked into the command center at the Legacy House two days
later, putting down three thick folders. "Half right, slightly
right, and his real one from the demon underground." Derek Rayne,
his boss, looked over that one. He also scowled at things.
"He's the one that did CPR to create two slayers."
"Which is why the Council has a price on his head I'm sure," Derek
agreed in a Dutch accent. "Anything of note on those artifacts?"
"Yeah. He doesn't want to have to use them but he has some higher
demons on his tail." Derek stared at him. "That law firm we
have as 'do not touch, too dangerous'? They want him as a
sacrifice because he was born and bred in Sunnydale."
"Oh, dear." He went back to reading. "Are they safe?"
"Sitting on a shelf. He dusts them for his housekeeper, who is a
harmless lower demon. Well, half demon but I'm pretty sure he
realizes that. He told me he lived with a vampire for a while too
because the watcher out there needed to get him out of his house."
Derek shook his head to clear that thought. "That's nearly insanity."
"The kid... I talked with one of his friends when they
called. The boy just walked off shaking his head and muttering in
"Then he does research?"
"Not now. He's blind. He could use that software the house in Cairo developed."
"I'll see if that can be passed on." He finally had to put the
file down and take something for his headache. "Which one is the
"The demon underground one," Alex said as she joined them. "I
wanted to mother the boy, Derek. He could use more support.
His friends basically rode him out of town to supposedly keep him
safe. They didn't even hear that the Council tried to wetworks the
kid in San Diego."
"I heard some of their people had been arrested," Derek said.
"Xander and his caregiver at the time shot them," Nick said.
Derek nodded. "Is he staying involved in the paranormal community?"
"I don't think they'd let him go," Alex said. She sat down.
"He's a lot like Nick only doesn't have a Mustang and dates more deadly
"I gave him Philip's number so they could talk. I think the kid
could use some support from someone who knows and can talk to him about
his bad urges to want to hunt. Plus help him get over some of the
past traumas." Derek stared at him. "You don't just suddenly
jump into hunting demons even if you grow up around them, Derek."
"What percentage of blind is he?"
"Fully. He was taking on a demon that had acidic sweat and they
didn't know that. The Council's books didn't say that," Alex said
more quietly. "It burned his corneas and he had a lot of other
burns that're healed but scarred."
"He said the specialist in Hawaii said not even a transplant would
help," Nick agreed. "He also apparently threw up a challenge to
the Sunnydale hospital because of the high death rate out there."
"Xander said he was surprised he lasted a week, especially with a few
days sedated, but they had their tamed vampire guarding him," Alex said.
"How do you tame a vampire?" Derek asked.
"The project his group ended put a control chip in his head so he can't
eat," Nick said. "That and what they did to their own people were
probably the nicest of their actions. I asked someone about that
project and what I got back disgusted me so much I wanted to hunt them
down, Derek." Derek nodded at that information. "Ellison is making
sure that his new trainer is former military if possible.
Especially after the serial killer wanted to go out with him."
Alex snorted, shaking her head. "He was dating the vengeance demon
over women scorned, Nick. A serial killer was probably nicer."
"Anyanka was there?" Derek asked.
"She got fired," Nick said with a grin. "So she and Xander took up together."
"She's fully human," Alex said with a smile of her own. "She called to complain about living on her own being hard."
"And how she missed all the sex," Nick added.
Derek shook his head. "That is also interesting. Is there one in the hunting community that could be his trainer?"
"If he suddenly went deaf, yes," Alex said. "I don't know anyone
who can teach him about being blind. I called all my contacts for
"Me too," Nick agreed. "Military and not. The Council is
trying to get everyone to not help him if they could. Of course,
we also heard that the Council had someone do a suicide bomb in their
boardroom." She nodded she had heard the same thing. "No
one's touched the library but the artifact room, the slayer records
room, all those got blown up for some strange reason by their own
Derek reached over and tapped in a phone number, getting a video picture
a minute later. "There was problems with the Council?"
"Yes. How did you hear?" the head of the London house demanded.
Nick leaned over and waved. "They were trying to screw with a hunter that just got blinded."
"Oh, crap. That whole Harris thing?" Derek nodded. "Is he going evil?"
"No, he's trying to protect himself since they tried to kill him again," Nick said.
Alex took the keyboard to type something in. "That's his correct profile as far as we can tell."
The head of the London house followed that link and hummed, then cleared his throat. "Does he have those?"
"He sold three to people who wanted to destroy them," Nick said.
"All three had broken seals. The rest he dusts so his housekeeper
doesn't have to. Between the Council and Wolfram and
Hart...." The head of the London house sneered. "They want
the boy badly as a sacrifice."
"I'd like to see them destroyed like the Council was."
"The demons too. Because they don't want to see Harris decide
that's the best way to protect himself with the other eight bottles."
"There's twelve," Derek said.
"One's been broken for a few years," Alex said.
"That's charming." They made notes of that in the system. "The other three were destroyed?"
"Yes. They were sent up on a satellite that got shot into the sun."
"Even better," the head of the London house complained. "What does
the boy need? I don't know of anyone who can teach him how to do
the things he has to learn now."
"He could use that translator software out of Cairo," Alex said with a
smile. "He knew a few written ones that aren't translated into
"I can see if that can be passed on. They have it under protection
for the most part." He made that note. "Anything else?"
"His trainer needs to know about the underground and be trained to
protect himself and the kid," Nick said. "He nearly went out with a
serial killer before Detective Ellison stepped in."
"Also, that's where Naomi's son is," Alex said with a smile.
"Ellison's cousin was protecting Xander in Hawaii and introduced them so
Blair could help him find someone."
"He could also probably use a good therapist if he doesn't stay around
Blair," Nick said. "Those girls are bitches. I don't use
that word lightly but I've seen nicer cannibals."
Derek nodded. "The Watcher there?"
"Agreed they needed to railroad the boy out of his old life to protect him," Alex said.
"On one hand that does seem reasonable," the head of the London house
said. "On the other, he'd probably have more people there who
might help him." They nodded.
"They complained Xander had to move to Hawaii to protect himself, they
had gotten him out of the house, and now he was in Washington state,"
"Ah, that sort of girl." He nodded. "I heard the slayer was a
bit mean." Nick held up two fingers. "How?"
"CPR. Which is one reason why the Council hates him." Nick
grinned. "The other's in a jail cell for a friendly fire
incident." That got a low moan and a nod from Derek. "She's
in this state though. By the way, Rosenburg is showing signs of a
magic addiction. Xander made excuses for her when she accidentally
gave him puppy ears by long distance."
"That shall end," Derek said. "I'll comb my contacts to see if
there's someone who could help him learn how to cope. It does
sound like setting him and Philip up to discuss things would be helpful
to both as well."
The head of the London house nodded. "If anyone can give the boy
the support he needs it's Father Philip." He hung up and went to
have a large drink. Then he went back to reading that
profile. It was his job to make sure the boy wouldn't be a threat
to the Legacy.
Derek looked at them. "Have you talked to Philip?" Nick nodded. "Did he agree?"
"He called and talked to him." He smiled. "He said he wants
to meet Xander too." He stood up. "He's planning on a house
over here for hurricane season and one in Hawaii for the rest of the
"Goot." Nick and Alex left him to think and go back over that
profile again. He could see why the boy had taken an extreme step
to protect himself. He might have as well.
Xander met with Blair's friend, smiling at her. "Hi."
"Hi." She shook his hand. "How long?"
"Just over two months now. I think I'm coping amazingly well all told."
"Good." She led him to a couch. "No cane?"
"I'm still trying to learn how to use it."
"That's reasonable. I was born blind and it took me a few years to
get used to one too." She patted his hand and settled in to talk
with the boy. Blair was right, he could use some support from his
new group. He had no idea how to do a few things. Once Blair
had sent him home she relaxed. "He seems a bit... spoiled," she
told her friend.
"He's not. He's had some rough spots. He's still really angry with some of his former friends."
"I got that part. He has a housekeeper?"
"He needed one. He had one through the school in Hawaii and she stole from him."
"Ah, so they got vindictive." Blair made an agreeing sound. "No cane?"
"He's got some balance problems. I've taught him some about how to
use it but he whacks way too hard and he misjudges his area of
"That's reasonable. I did the same thing."
"I'm trying to find someone who can help him learn that stuff.
That's what he really needs. Though I'd like for them to be
protective considering Jim thundered up to arrest one of his dates."
"What did they do?" she asked, smiling some.
"They killed four people."
"Oh." She grimaced. "How charming."
"Xander's always drawn the bad girl society according to him."
"Then a bodyguard might be handy, yes. Can he afford one?"
"Good." She considered it. "I'm not sure if the school would know anyone like that. Your mother?"
"I called. She hasn't answered yet."
"Pity. Naomi knows nearly everyone."
"I had some friends that were in slightly the same field he used to be
in up to talk to them. They're asking their friends as
well." His phone rang. "Who are you?" he muttered, answering
it. "Blair Sandburg." He listened. "No, Miss
Rosenburg, I introduced him to a friend who is also blind and they
chatted but Xander went home to nap. Yes, up here. He'll go
back to Hawaii in a few weeks. They're working on his place so
it's more friendly to his special needs." His friend snorted and
shook her head. "Why?" He listened to her babble. "No,
I don't think that's necessary. If you want to send them to him,
he might not mind. We're working on getting him a translator that
would read it to him."
He smirked at the wall. "No, I don't think that's a good
idea. Just send him the books and it'll give him something to
do. Miss Rosenburg, I know a few blind people. Most of them
are very competent, work outside the home, and manage their daily lives
very well. Xander will grow into that as he learns what he needs
to know. I'm fairly certain he'll be just fine." She hung
up. He put his phone back. "He should be at home protecting
himself," he mimicked. She burst out cackling. "He can't
cook, he's blind!"
"That's not an excuse," she agreed with a smile. "No wonder you want to introduce him to real people with real lives."
"The boy could use some really good friends. One of the people I
called up knew of a priest that would want introduced to him about their
former jobs. So they're working on things. He's...
he's a bit damaged from all that but I think having a mentor he can ask
questions to about problems he's having would help."
"I think it helps most of us. I had my teachers growing up.
He's too grown for that but he could use a few good teachers." She
reached over and he moved his hand so she could pat it. "He'll be
fine, Blair. And think of all the vacation time you can sneak in
going to check on him."
Blair grinned. "That's a bonus I won't take for granted. I like the kid even if he was living in Alaska."
She shivered. "Much too chilly for my tastes." He laughed
and got them some coffee, settling in to go over what Xander really
needed to learn first.
Xander woke up to the feeling of someone staring at him, blinking at whoever it was. "Am I that cute?" he asked.
"No but I am wondering if you're useful to my plans." He left the
body he had been possessing and entered the boy's. No matter how
much he struggled the demon would win. Then he found himself
thrown out. "Bah, you're useless to our side."
Xander stared at him. "Not really." He threw the knife under
his pillow at it, making it shriek and fade out. Xander panted,
sitting up holding his head. Gretchen knocked. "Possessing
sort of demon, Gretchen." She nodded, getting him something to
calm him down. He took notes of what he had heard while they were
fighting. Including a few names. "Do we know them?"
"One's a hunter," she said quietly. "I have no idea how you'd contact them."
"For that, I usually ask Cordy to look them up for me."
"She's having problems this week," she reminded him. "Something about a mystical pregnancy?"
"All pregnancies are mystical. Some are just caused by higher
beings and some aren't." She swatted him but she was
smiling. "Okay. Let's see if we can look them up then.
That sucker had ideas."
"That's probably a sad thing to hear." She got his laptop, which
had a browser that was modified to read things to him. He got to
work locating the hunter's network and found something. One who
even had an email address. Xander carefully crafted the email to
send out to them. He didn't put his name because what he'd heard
of the hunters, most of them were paranoid and might attack him or
Gretchen. Though he thought it was sweet how everyone was trying
to avoid telling him that she was a half-demon. He knew, he could
smell it on her. He needed to talk to Blair and see if his hyena
senses picking up were normal.
Jim was out with Blair and Xander at the grocery store and he was
noticing something about the kid. "Xander, I know that most blind
people have their other senses start to compensate. Are you
"They've always been a bit more sensitive," he evaded.
"Any idea why?" Blair asked. Xander leaned over to hiss in his
ear. Jim, being sense gifted, heard what he said and gave the boy a
strange look. Blair stared at him. "We're doing tests to
see how much that is," he decided.
"Sure," Xander sighed. "Will it help me get around better?"
"Yup," Blair said.
"That could help then."
"It's good you have a willing victim, Chief. I hate sensory
tests," Jim quipped. Blair batted him on the arm. They
finished picking out vegetables while Blair told Xander about some
tribes he had worked with. In the ice cream, which Xander had
insisted he needed, they found a problem. Well, two
problems. One was the guy cleaning up a spill who was orange and
had a head fin. He saw Xander, shrieked, and ran.
"I'm not mean today," Xander called. "I'd never bother something peaceful either."
"That's very odd," a female voice said.
Blair winced. "Hi, Naomi." He smiled at her. "Xander, this is my mom, Naomi."
"Hi," he said, holding out a hand.
She shook it and patted it. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Why?"
"You seem really angry, dear."
Xander stared at her. "Don't call me pet names please. It
irritates me to no end." Jim laughed. He had set that off
earlier. "Second, if I have an anger issue it's probably
justified. Thank you though. Do you need your son? Jim
can help me get stuff home for my housekeeper if you need Blair."
"No, that's fine. I'm sure Blair's doing good with your nutrition
needs. Though I'm not sure why you need so much meat."
"Because I'm a carnivore and I'm still getting over the crapload of acid
burns I got a few months back. Beyond that, I'm twenty-three and
vegetables are for hippies and vegan chicks." He walked off with
Jim. "I should introduce you to Tara," he told Jim. "That
way she knows more guys who are only scary against stupid people like
"If she shows up, I'd like to meet her. You've said she was nice."
Xander nodded. "She's very sweet. Ice cream." He
touched the nearest freezer door. "That's too warm for ice cream."
"That's frozen bread dough."
"Can you grab me some cheesy garlic bread?"
"Sure. Chief, get Xander some ice cream?"
"Chocolate with stuff in it. Not Rocky Road."
"French silk," he decided after seeing what was there and wasn't freezer
burned. They checked out and drove Xander home. Then they
went home. Naomi was there waiting on them. "Naomi, don't
nag Xander. He's still in transition. He's still trying to
make things work and get used to his new life."
"Fine. Even if the boy is fairly mean."
Jim shook his head. "He seems pretty normal to me."
"He's from Sunnydale, Naomi. He was helping protect the town,"
Blair said quietly. Her eyes went wide. "So don't nag him."
"I won't." She helped him put up what they had bought. "Meat, really?"
"Yes, I need meat," Jim said. "Man cannot live by vegetables
alone. That's why we have meat eating teeth." He turned on
the news to see what was going on during his day off.
Blair nodded. "We do." He put things up and then settled in
to talk to his mother. She would let him help Xander and probably
would help him as well if he asked.
A few days later, Xander waited until Naomi was had left them alone to
pull Blair aside. "She reminds me a lot of Willow," he said
quietly. "Which is freaking me out."
Blair smiled. "She's set in her ways."
"She's downright manipulative of them," Xander corrected. "She's
still trying to convince me I don't need protein to heal, I can get all
that I need from beans, which make me puke, and that it'll all be all
right in the world."
"She doesn't know what you've seen, Xander," he said quietly. "You
hit it pretty well on the head when you said she was a vegan hippie
chick. She pretty much is. She still protests too. She
nags Jim about the same things."
"In that case, she might have the right because she's his future son-in-law or something."
"No, man, not close."
"Uh-huh. Then he gets sweaty around you for some other reason?"
"Maybe. I'll meditate to that thought."
"She told me I had to detach with love about my last life, Blair. I
kept myself from suggesting a trip to the local demon bar."
"We've met demons in the past," Blair said. He gave him a light
shoulder nudge. "It'll be okay. Do you like rum balls?"
"I don't drink."
"I'll have her make chocolate chip ones instead." He hugged
Xander, getting hugged back. "Go rest. I know she can be
like a whirlwind."
"She was folding my underwear."
"I'll talk to her, Xander. I know she's not dangerous enough for
you." He let Xander go back inside then went to his own
house. "Naomi, you frightened him."
"How did I do that?" She held out a spoon. "Did I put in too much rum?"
He tasted and nodded. "Make those for Simon. Xander's
parents drank." He leaned against a counter to watch her
work. "He has two very grumpy, cranky, spoiled female friends,
Mom. He dates dangerous girls. You were folding his
"It's clear his housekeeper wasn't doing a good enough job."
"Naomi, leave him alone," he said. "Please. He's still in
pain from things. He's not going to be able to detach at all
yet. He's still got the urges to go protect people." She
stared at him, spoon above the mixing bowl. "He wasn't an officer
but he was helping protect his town. He spent about five years
doing that." She shuddered. "So lay off Xander. He
likes meat, he's like most boys and hates vegetables. He doesn't
need nagged, and Gretchen is doing a fantastic job with him. She's
helped him adjust to a normal life while adjusting to this new
disability of his. Okay?"
"Fine." She huffed. "Do you think he'll like these?"
"Simon will. Xander's favorite thing is chocolate." He
smiled. "With two drunk parents, it might set off a flashback or
"I guess I can see that. Clearly some parents weren't worthy of
the title." Jim walked in. "Bad day being a thug?" she
He stared at her. "If I'm a jack booted thug, that gives me a good
reason to boot you off the balcony, Naomi. It is not the day to
start." He looked at Blair. "Where's the kid?"
"He went up to rest just a few minutes ago. Why?" He
called. "Gretchen, Jim just came in wanting to know if Xander was
all right?" He smiled. "That's great. Thank
you." He hung up. "He cleaned off his bed with her help and
laid down for a nap."
"Thank God." He got a beer and went outside. Blair followed. "Remember Brackett?"
"The asshole from a few days ago?" Jim nodded. "He escaped?"
"He sent me a letter asking me if Xander was like me." He sipped his beer.
"No, you and Xander are somewhat alike but not on that level."
Jim grimaced and took another drink. "It freaked Simon out."
"He's met Xander."
"He thinks Xander's a bit damaged but overall nice. He did wonder the same thing though."
"No, I'm helping Xander with other things." He patted him on the
arm. "He decided Naomi was a lot like his friend Willow."
"I heard from her recently and yes, she is." They shared a
look. "Mack said he found a nice place. He wanted to know
what Xander thought about tile floors since Xander's apparently lost his
"Gretchen had it because she lost hers. I don't think he'd care as
long as he wouldn't slip and fall on it. All one level?"
"Two stairs up to the front door and one down from the kitchen to the
living room." He finished his beer. "It's poker night."
"Simon said he'd host."
"That might help. What is she doing with the rum?"
"Making Simon rum balls."
"Huh." He shook his head. "By the way, Xander's still in pain."
"He doesn't want to take something too harsh and he hasn't responded to
the herbal stuff I've had him try. Are we talking right now?"
Jim let his senses roam up the block to where the kid was sleeping, with
a window open. He nodded. "Yeah, that throbbing came back I
think. He's clearly having a headache." Blair sighed but
nodded, calling someone to pick up something else that might work.
"Blair, see if the spirit guides might like him?" he asked
quietly. Blair stared at him because Jim liked to ignore his
spirit guide most of the time. "The last two times I've seen mine,
it's been around Xander."
"Then I'll see. Which gives me an idea." He added something
to the order and left to pick it up. He brought it to Xander and
let him try that. The tea for those who went on dream quest
visions helped. Blair smiled, tucking him in. Then he went
home. "Vision quest tea."
Jim smiled. "That's got a nasty taste so he won't get hooked."
"All natural so he won't anyway." Blair smiled before going to his
room to meditate. He needed to talk to his spirit guide to see if
there was a reason they liked Xander. He wasn't a sentinel and
being spirit possessed might not be the reason.
Jim got another beer and settled in to watch the reruns of the last
basketball game. Naomi was fussing at things in the kitchen but
that was what she did as far as he knew. Though the rum balls
smelled really strong. He'd bring those to poker night instead of
Blair blinked as Xander turns and punches someone. "Xander?" he asked.
"Stalkers," he growled.
"Okay. Yours or mine?"
Xander turned his head in his direction. "I can't tell. He's
been humming that we're pretty together for the last ten blocks
"Then that's probably a good reason to hit him, yes." He moved the
boy so he could look at him. They were outside the station.
"Can you go get someone to arrest him?"
Xander used his cane to find his way to the doorway and opened it.
He felt. No air conditioning so there had to be double
doors. He found that one and opened it. "Guys, Blair
Sandburg said to please come arrest the guy I just hit for following us
for ten blocks muttering about how good we'd look when he forced us to
do porn together." An officer groaned but walked him back out
there. The man was complaining he was admiring, not wanting to
capture them. "Asshole, I may be blind but my hearing is *just*
fine." The man squeaked. "Now, want to go explain that to
Ellison? I'm sure the nice officer can find him."
"He's probably on his way down," Blair quipped. Sure enough, Jim walked out a minute later. "Hi, Jim."
"Hi, Jim," Xander quipped with a grin.
"Xander, Sandburg." He glared at the man. "You wanted to do what to him?"
"Nothing! I didn't know he was blind! That ruins all my plans."
Xander hit him again. "Just because I can't see doesn't mean I'm
not fantastic in bed. Remember, plenty of people play with
blindfolds and it gets them off. I can do it even better
now." He huffed off. "I smell pretzels. Blair?"
"Sure," he agreed. "I've got your wallet, Xander." He followed
him. He smiled at his friend. "You're right. Being
blind doesn't make you any worse in bed than you were before. It might
even make you better because now you have to concentrate on the other's
body even more." Xander blushed but nodded. "We'll try to
set you up with someone nice, Xander. You could use a nice girl."
"Are you someone's grandmother?" he quipped.
"Yup, yours." He patted him again and got them pretzels, and Jim
one since he probably had missed lunch for that car chase they had heard
about. They walked back. "You're getting better with the
"I still feel like I'm going to tip over."
"I know. We'll work on that later." He handed Jim his. "I bought you one."
"Thanks, Sandburg. He had tranquilizer darts." Xander
snorted, shaking his head and taking a bite. "He's very sorry he
decided you having no sight meant you were worthless in bed, Xander."
"I'd show him how fantastic I am but I'm not into kidnaping role
play." He sniffed around. "I smell Naomi's perfume."
He walked off, tapping his cane while he ate with his free hand.
"Xander, twenty feet to the right for the crosswalk," Blair
called. Xander nodded, working on that. "Cab right next to
it." Xander grinned and waved. He found the door of the cab
and got in, heading off to go home before Naomi could nag him
again. Blair looked at Jim. "Why did he want to kidnap us?"
"He thought you and Xander would look hot together."
"Not my scene." They went inside.
Jim shook his head at Naomi. "He went home." They got onto
the elevator and she wasn't fast enough to follow. "She's still
trying to get him to detach with love from his last life?"
"Yup. She followed him when he went out last night to a demon
bar. She had friends in there too but none of them spilled about
him. Though she did see someone pinch Xander and him beat them."
"Well, maybe next time." They got off the elevator and walked to
interrogation. "He singing the 'I'm a bad boy' tune yet?" he joked
to the watching detectives.
"No, more the 'he's ruined for my purposes' song," one quipped
back. "I personally told him the kid was probably hell in bed with
the way the assassin last month drooled to get him back but apparently
"This one's pathetic," Blair said. He went in there to goad the
guy into confessing why he was going to kidnap them. The guy got a
bit stupid staring at him so that was very helpful. It also let
Blair finish his pretzel before it got too cold. The guy was
paying more attention to his mouth than what he was saying so that
helped a lot. They found out about his nice internet business and
where he did it from before he realized he had said a thing while
staring at Blair's lips.
On the other side of the glass Jim smirked at his boss. "I should let Xander go out to club."
"Your stats are already great, let the rest of us go with the kid," the
other detective complained. "I need higher stats to get a raise,
Simon Banks, captain over their madness, shook his head. "No using
the kid as bait." He walked off to call a DA to get the guy into
jail as soon as possible and get a search warrant.
Xander heard the phone and no one answering it so he got up and stumbled
toward the living room, feeling for doorways. He found it and the
phone a minute later. "Hello?" He smiled. "Hi,
Mack." He searched until he found a couch and sat down.
"Really? Pretty?" He listened to him tell him about his new
house. "It's sturdy, right?" He nodded. "That's
great. Tiles? Slick ones? Oh, even better. That
little bit of texture will be really welcome. Was it owned by
someone with problems before?" He grinned.
"That's great news, yeah. Thank you for finding that for me.
No, I'm kinda driving them a bit nuts because the bad girl society is
back. Not really, no luck in finding me someone to help me learn
that stuff either. Thanks, Mack. Yeah, we're here. Well, I'm
here. I'm not totally sure where Gretchen is. Yup, have a
good night and thank you." He hung up. "Dude, your breath
stinks," he noted. "I know damn well you're not my housekeeper so
quit trying to lurk."
"Good senses," a familiar voice said. Xander lashed out and
connected but he got pushed back onto the couch. "Relax,
Harris. I'm here to make sure you're all right."
"What did you do to my housekeeper?"
"Just knocked her out. Some gas, nothing harmful."
"It had better not, Finn."
"Do you really think I'd do that?"
Riley snorted. "I have changed."
Xander gave him an impatient look. "Why did you break into my apartment to stare at me while I was asleep?"
"I was about to wake you up so we could talk when your phone rang. Mack?"
"A detective who was helping me find somewhere good to live."
"Interesting. A few people have been looking into some records of ours."
"The guys that Willow handed me to were Marines. The had a full file pulled on me."
"Oh." He nodded. "Okay, that explains them. Why is a paranormal group doing it?"
"Because they're anti-Council sorts. They heard I had scared a
good portion of the demon community and wanted to know how and why."
"Do we know anything about them?"
"About as old. Deal with a lot more of the possessing sort of demons."
"Huh. Interesting. We'll have to look them up. On the side of the Light?"
"Yeah." He shifted, getting comfortable. "So, how's the spoiled blonde thing?"
"She's fine. She's confused. She doesn't understand why you're so angry with them."
"Um... No one told you Tara died?"
"Oh, crap. Yeah, right after Warren tried to shoot Buffy. He snuck up on her to try again."
"Why wasn't I told?" Xander asked calmly.
"I guess they didn't want to risk you coming back into town for the funeral."
"Slug the bitches for me."
"I can tell them you're mad but I can't beat Buffy sparring, Xander. You know that."
"I have the feeling the ones I've been talking to could." Riley
growled. "Mack handed me to a former Ranger, now a detective, up
"Huh. Which one?"
"Ellison." He felt Riley flinch. "He's up the road actually. So, why else did you show up?"
"We wanted to know about that and what you did to scare everyone."
Xander got up and got a bottle off the shelf. He felt and counted. "Where's the other one?"
"No idea what you're talking about."
"Riley, these are pretty dangerous artifacts that could pretty well
destroy everything." The door was kicked in and Jim came in with
his gun drawn. Blair was behind him. "Hi, Jim. This is
Captain Riley Finn, who was dating Buffy. He has one of the
"Sandburg, search him." Blair came in to search him, finding it
and putting it back. "Xander, sit. Blair." They got
out of Jim's way.
"I decided that I wanted to be a Ranger after hearing about you," Riley said.
"Too bad your project disgraced the uniform," Jim said.
"That wasn't my doing and I turned against them."
"He did," Xander agreed. "After he found out they had tampered with him."
"I did realize that what we were doing was wrong," Riley said firmly, glaring at the younger man.
"It took you over a year to realize that? Dude, you so need to
talk to Blair's mom." Blair gave him a hug so he calmed
down. "Why else did you show up, Riley?"
"To check on you for the girls. To see why people were in the
files, and to see what you had done. Since I've done all that I
can head home."
Jim snorted. "Fat chance." Riley attacked and Jim beat him
pretty badly. "Weak and pathetic. Clearly Rangers were
better in my day." Blair had already called for backup and was
checking Xander over. Jim went in to check Gretchen. She was
sleeping but sounded normal. "Xander, any idea what this is?"
"No. Back in Sunnydale they didn't gas, the tazed."
"Crap." Blair came in and figured it out. They let her sleep
it off and Blair stayed with them while Jim did the paperwork to arrest
Riley. They really needed to find Xander a bodyguard and trainer
sort. Before someone else wanted to date the kid or own him.
Mack Wolfe showed up the next morning, staring at the man Jim was watching. "Who's he?"
"Captain Riley Finn."
"I saw his name in some files." They shared a look and Mack
grinned. "I found someone, maybe, who can do the bodyguarding
stuff but has no idea about the blind thing."
"That could help." He looked at the prisoner again. "He said he wanted to become a Ranger after reading about me."
"He disgraced the uniform." Mack patted him on the back. "Blair with him?"
"Xander went with him to his office to get some tactile work in."
"It's good for him."
"Is the new house nice?"
"Very nice. I'd live there." Jim smiled. Simon Banks strolled in. "Morning."
"Jim, Jim's cousin." He nodded and looked in the room. "This one?"
"Part of the mess that Xander's former group stopped," Jim said.
"He showed up, gassed the kid's housekeeper, and then settled in for a
"Charming," Simon said sarcastically. "Let's hope they let him go to jail. The kid?"
Simon looked at him. "Is that wise with the trouble those two get
into?" Mack snickered, shaking his head. "I take it you've
"I've seen who wants to date the kid," he said with a smile.
Jim nodded. "We're trying to keep him and Blair's mother
apart. Though he did suggest she should talk to Captain Finn about
what his group did and why it took him a year to realize torturing
other species was wrong."
Simon shuddered. "She'd preach more than some ministers I've
heard." He walked off shaking his head. "Check on the two
Jim called. "Blair, tell Xander Mack's here." He
listened. "Why is there an alarm going off? Oh, in the
library's collection. Not a robbery is good. No, just stay
out of trouble, Chief." He hung up and shook his head. "Two
of Naomi's friends tried to steal a native piece of artwork to give
Mack patted him on the back. "Xander has a banana tree in his
yard." They walked off together. Blair's automatic call of
'we're okay' an hour later got Jim to groan and head off for the
college. Mack went with him because it was probably Xander's
dating committee. Those sort took backup.
Mack talked to the person that had been recommended for the kid.
He wasn't who he'd pick. He was a bit too tough. "The kid's
"Then it's high time for him to get used to things," the man said.
"He's only been blind for three months." The man groaned.
"It was an acid attack while he was trying to stop something trying to
hurt others." Mack stared at him. "Also, Xander's not
coddled. He was working construction before this happened.
He wants to be independent, he's trying really hard to work his way back
"I get that." He considered it. "Does he know braille? I can't teach him that."
"No. He's still working on how to use the cane."
"Some year soon. He'd like a dog, especially if it'd play with
him." Mack smiled. "I like the kid but he dates some evil
The guy grunted. "Sounds like someone I've heard stories about. Where's the kid from?"
"Yup, that's him." He sighed. "There's a military 'no touch' order on him."
"Why? I didn't find that."
"We don't know who put it on but it went on the other day. Something about commandos trying to get the kid back?"
"He helped stop something that was torturing people. Some Rangers were involved."
The guy snorted, shaking his head. "That figures." He stood
up. "I know some people that might be able to help. Is he
"Moving back to Hawaii."
"I'll keep that in mind and ask around for you. How much self-defense will he need?"
"We have to keep pulling arms dealers off him."
"Crap, he is the one I heard rumors about," he muttered as he walked
off. He called his last boss, who was with Wolfram and Hart.
Then he called a buddy to warn him that the kid needed him badly. If
not him, his ex wife. The kid really needed some help and they had
a child that was blind so they had gotten one kid through all the
training. It could only help this one.
Mack walked Xander up the walkway to his house. "Two steps," he
said quietly. Xander nodded, tapping them with his cane before
walking up them carefully. "Still off balance?" Xander
nodded. "We'll figure that out too." He handed him the key
card. "This is your key and there's a keypad next to the
handle." He showed him where it was and then the keypad.
"Insert, tap the code," he said, showing it to him. "Then remove
the card." The door swung open.
"That's really handy."
"It's a good system and it's linked to the security alarms." He
let them inside and watched Xander take off his shoes. "Terra
cotta tiles, all rough finished so you don't slip." He slowly led
Xander around the house to show him where things were. The tv came
on a bit loud but Xander turned it down. The kitchen was nicely
laid out and Gretchen was already arranging things in Xander's preferred
manner. Mack led him outside. "Banana tree." Xander
beamed at him and nodded. They walked around the yard, which was a
bit squishy from some earlier rain but the boy didn't mind.
"Fenced in yard. Garage for the car if you ever get one.
Bench." He put him onto it. "This'll work?"
"This is great," Xander said. He hugged him briefly. "Thank you, Mack."
"It's not a problem." He ruffled his hair. "Your trainer's
due out later. Gretchen has a huge freezer for your pizza
habit." Xander grinned. "Want to go back inside?"
"Later. Is my computer in the office?"
"Right now your laptop is in front of the couch."
"That's cool." He sniffed and calmed down. "Nearest neighbors?"
"About a sixth of a mile up the road to the right. On the left you
have a street between you two." Xander nodded at that.
"There's sidewalks on this side so you can learn how to use them
better. There's a park a few blocks past that intersection and
about ten to a public beach."
"Which is a good walk but nice. Thank you."
"You're welcome. Just don't call Naomi to come out here, okay?"
"No, I'd never do that. She ... reminded me a lot of Willow actually."
"Yeah, I kinda got that vibe off Willow's last call too." He
helped him up and back into the house. "Wipe your feet on the soft
thing." Xander did and they went to the couch. Mack got
Xander used to the big button remote that handled everything in the
living room. So he was still there when his trainer got
there. She wasn't real friendly but she seemed genuine and
cautious to him. Clearly trained by the way she stood. She
sat down next to Xander and helped him memorize where things were.
Yeah, he could handle living in a dark world like this for the rest of his boring life.
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