by Mytryk

Buffy slid into the chair across from her sister slayer with a grin.  "Clay said hi."  Faith actually blushed and ducked her head.  "They had to go be commandos last night so he sent that."

"You two...."

Buffy nodded.  "I nearly lost my mind and packed myself," she sighed.  Faith snickered.  "My mother lost her mind yesterday too.  She called me *mature* because of all the stuff I learned on my trip."

Faith smirked.  "That's good.  No boytoy?"

"He can't walk."  Faith gaped.  "It's not even his boyfriend's fault.  He was at work and someone started a real fight in the bar he's bouncing in.  Someone shot him on the butt.  So he can't really sit.  Or walk.  And he's leaning when he stands.  But that guy.... messy when Xander finished with him.  Then apparently he said ow and started to whimper in pain."

"I guess some guys are tough that way."

"Yup, which is why the super psycho commando wants him as a wife.  Pity though, Roque was already on the plane back so he didn't get pity cuddles.  Roque wrote Wes an email saying to cuddle in his place.  Then the other one that wants him said he'd be more than happy to cuddle him.  Xander forwarded it so Roque can tell him that himself."

Faith snickered.  "I see drama's still around."

"Yup, but it's LA and all the pretty people like drama.  It gets them noticed."  She smirked.  "So, Mom can't send you cookies unfortunately.  She was going to but she checked with the people here and they said no cookies.  Sorry."

"That's okay.  I'm not at the stage when I'd kill for cookies."  Buffy grinned.  "Any other good news?"

"Well....  Next spring might have a bad thing.  We're working on it but who knows."  Faith nodded once.  "Worse than the other night."

"Xander said something about it during the thing."  She leaned on the table.  "Any happy news?"

"Willow got straightened out when she showed up."

"She's back from the land of 'oh dear' and glasses cleaning?" Faith asked.

"No, she just showed up to tell Xander he shouldn't have a boyfriend.  She threw a fit.  She attacked Xander and Xander ended up winging her leg.  Then she got a weekend of calming down at UCLA's shrink unit.  She finally realized there was a problem and went back home after telling the shrink that he was judgmental, which he was.  He tried to tell Xander he shouldn't have a boyfriend too."

Faith shook her head.  "With what I saw of his dating history, the boyfriend is safer."

"Yup.  I appreciate his boyfriend a lot.  He even nags the Xander about getting into trouble.  Though they don't hear anything about the duty or patrol."


"His boyfriend has to beg for mercy."  Faith smirked.  "Yup, he needed it.  Clay had to go pick the handcuffs for him.  His boyfriend's doctor said that he had to stay on his back so Xander was nicely keeping him there."

Faith cackled.  "That's so evil."

"Yup."  She smirked.  "Hey, guard lady, do I have to hand you the books and magazines or can I hand them to her?" she called.  She came over to get them.  The Maxim got a strange look.  "One of our friends has a picture in there."

"That's borderline not allowed.  We don't allow anything too racy, miss."

Buffy found the picture and carefully tore that page out, handing it to Faith.  The rest got handed to her with a smile.  "Thank you."

"It's not a problem.  It's always better to ask than to get her thrown in solitary for having them."  She walked off.

"The career fair back in high school thought I'd make a good one of her," Buffy told Faith.  "I think I like traveling more because it's got to be a hard job."

"It is," Faith agreed.  "People give them hell in here."  She looked over the books.  "Shakespeare?"  She looked up.  "Wes?"



"But it's all the funny plays.  That way you have some laughs."

"I could use laughs."  A bell rang and Faith sighed.  "Time's up."

"I'll be around for the next month I think.  So I can come back next time.  Of course I'll call first so I can make sure it's still on."  She got up with a grin.  "Be safe.  Protect yourself.  Don't take any shit from anyone because I saw bad places in Asia that made this look like a kindergarten, okay?  I had to help get a potential out because she was female and thinking."

Faith nodded.  "That truly sucks."

"Yeah, so she's going to school."  She smiled.  "I so threw a fit with her watcher for that.  And then Travers for allowing it.  He agreed, she could go somewhere nicer."  She winked.  "Maybe Clay'll write."  She walked off.

Faith shook her head.  "I'm not sure if she's happy or just slightly kinked."  The guard came to get her and she brought her magazines and books back.  The guard looked at them.  "Picture of someone we know and stuff to read that're funny."

"That's always a welcome thing.  Remember your limit of how much you can have."

"I know but I only have a library book.  Want that one?"  He shrugged and took it for her.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Lehane.  You don't give us trouble."  He walked off, handing over the library book.  "Someone gave Lehane Shakespeare's plays."

"Some of those are funny," the other guard said.  Everything was calmly going the way it was supposed to.  At least until light's out.  Then they found an extra woman.  "Who's she?" the guard demanded.

Faith looked at her.  "She just walked in.  I knew her from high school.  I told the new blonde lady but she acted like I was invisible."

"How did she sneak in?" the guard asked calmly, radioing for some others.   They showed up.  "Miss, please step out of the cell."

"Is it really that illegal to visit a friend when you need to talk?" Willow demanded.

"Yes, miss, when she's in jail and you're not, it is," one guard said.  "Lehane?"

"I told the new blonde lady," Faith defended.

"Don't blame Faith.  I showed up," Willow said.  "I needed to talk about some mutual friends because they're acting strange and I'm worried that it's not them, it's me."  She pouted.  "You guys are wankers.  I'm sorry, Faith.  I didn't mean to get you in trouble."

Faith waved a hand.  "You needed to get that fixed anyway, Red."

"Yeah, I do."  She shrugged.  "Maybe they were right and I need to finish maturing."  She disappeared again.

"How did she do that?" the guard demanded.

Faith shrugged.  "Not my skill.  She's from Sunnydale.  She got it there.  If you talk to the guys that sometimes shows up, Wesley or Rupert, they'd be able to tell you more and yell at her for you.  It was not me.  I didn't call, didn't ask, didn't summon."

"Was she a demon?" one snorted.

"Witch, but Sunnydale, ya know?"  She shrugged.  The guards all groaned and they called that in.  The block tapes were checked.  Lehane had told two different guards about that and nothing had gotten said.  So she wasn't in trouble.  The warden heard and went to ask her questions but she still had no idea how it was done.  Faith pointed out if she could do that, she'd run out for a burger some nights.  The warden snorted but called those two men to get some answers so they could make sure it wasn't going to happen again and no one could use it to escape.  Faith laid back on her bed, reading one of the MAD magazines.   It was nice to have some humor stuff.


Giles walked into the Hyperion the next morning, finding Buffy nagging Xander about having driven over.  "Why are you standing wrong?"

"Bar fight got me shot in the ass," Xander said dryly.  "I ache like hell.  How was your night?"

"I spent most of last night yelling at Willow for popping into the prison.  Does the girl no longer have sense?" he demanded.

"With the way she attacked Xander for having a boyfriend?  No," Buffy said.  "We had a talk about it though."

"She popped into Faith's cell?" Xander asked dryly.  Giles scowled but nodded.  Xander burst out cackling.  "Is Faith all right or did it get her put in solitary?"

"She's fine.   She had warned someone when it happened so she wouldn't get into trouble."  Giles was still scowling.  "I really should paddle that girl."

"When she had her weekend off in UCLA, her parents showed up," Buffy said.  "I pointed out she was turning into her mother."

Giles stared at her then rubbed his forehead.  "I fear my brain might explode.  Do quit."  Wesley and Gunn came in already arguing about something.  "Wesley, do you have a rather large hammer so I can strike myself on the head repeatedly?"

The duo stared at him.  "Why?" Gunn asked.

"Willow went to visit Faith in her cell by magic," Buffy said with a smirk.

Gunn rubbed his own head.   "She's clearly lost her ever-loving mind," Gunn complained.

"Rupert, have we talked to any of the covens?" Wesley asked quietly.

"No, but I fear I should.  They can paddle her when I can't because I'm not in England at the moment."

"Willow!" Xander called.  She appeared, staring at him.  "Giles and Wes wanted to talk to you about a coven they found so maybe you can make some new witchly friends."  She beamed at them.  They walked her off, Gunn following to make sure she couldn't run.

Once they were out of sight, Buffy leaned over.  "That was so mean," she said quietly, getting a grin back.  "Mom's going to love that story."  She called her.  "It's your favorite daughter.  Willow's back.  No, mostly normal."  She walked off telling her what had happened.  Her mother moaned and cackled but promised she'd be coming soon.  "Mom's coming," she called, not going in there.  "She wanted to hear how Willow's doing in college."  She escaped, helping Xander go to breakfast.  It was much safer for all their butts.  Joyce would be paddling Willow a lot.  She'd probably even tell Willow's mother so she could point out what a failure she had about passing on common sense.


Xander looked up from his crossword puzzle when someone came into the bar.  They were dead tonight.  "Hi," he said.  "Bob, customers," he called.  The bartender came out.  Xander kept an eye on him since he was young and twitchy.   Something was off.  Xander kept one eye on him while doing his puzzle.  He heard the door open and grimaced at who came in.  "Must you?"

"Yes, I must."  He smirked.  "Would you reward me for not taking out their team?"

"By not shooting you?" Xander offered.  "Sure, I can do that."  Wade smirked at him.  "Why are you telling me this?"

"They ran into another former minion.  I'm told they're alive because Max *really* thought you were hot."

"I am hot."  He smirked.  "That's why I danced and made a lot of money."  He glanced at his puzzle, filling in a word he figured out.  Which didn't fit so he erased it.

"I can't believe they let men like you in decent places," the young thing at the bar complained.

Xander stared at him.  "Excuse you?"

"Men like you are disgusting to real men."  He sneered.

"Really?  And yet I'm sniper qualified and fairly good.  I can handle any piece of artillery competently, and gee, I'm a combat vet."  The man glared harder at him.  "Now, anything else you want to spew before I pick you up and throw you out?"  The bartender laughed.   "I dated tougher women than him.  So many of them tried to kill me."  He shrugged.

"You mean you're not just a *stripper* but you're gay?" the guy demanded.

"Some of the toughest guys are," the bartender quipped.

The guy pulled a gun and opened fire.  Bob the bartender fell first.  He shot at Wade, who moved out of the way.  He got Xander as he was tackled and Xander yelped then punched him.  "Get off me!" the guy shouted.  "Gay mother fucker!"  Xander hit him again, this time he gasped and wailed in pain.

Xander looked up.  "PIP!" he shouted.  "Shooter!"  The bouncer outside on smoke break ran in to check them.  "Get Bob."  He tried to move and couldn't.  "Okay, stay calm," Xander told himself, trying to move again.

Wade came over, staring at him.  "It's locked your hip.  Stay still."

Xander looked at him, his eyes watering.  "I don't like these bullets in me.  This is the second time in a week and a half.  I'd rather never be shot again.  Can't I go strip?"

"I might mind but I'd gladly watch," he offered.  "Since you're not mine."  He smirked and walked off.

"No, if my boy did that, I'd have killed him when I got out of the ER," Xander called after him.

Wade just smirked.  "You said you can't be mine until you're single."

"I'm so shooting you again."  Pip the bouncer laughed nervously.  Police ran in.  "He shot me as I tackled him.  I think he did a bad thing to my hip, I can't move," he said.  The officer nodded, calling that in.  "I've knocked him out and I'm going to kill his ass.  Pip, Bob?"

"He's....  no.  Lucky shot, Xander."  Xander hit the guy again.  "Can we move him?"

"No, not yet.  The paramedics will do it."  They rushed in.  "He's gone, guys."  They nodded and helped Xander.

"Ow!" Xander yelped.  "Owowowow!  Damn it," he muttered.  He was gritting his teeth.  "My hip is not moving," he said bluntly.  "Get me to standing or on my knees and then move me.  Please.  Before the bullet shifts."  They nodded, helping him up and then onto the gurney.  Neither one looked pleased at the injury.  Xander looked down.  "Damn."

He leaned his head back.  "Ow.  This is my second one this month and I'm really tired of being shot."  He swallowed.  "Check my stomach please?  I'm tasting blood."  The paramedic gave him a strange look.  "I'm field medic trained."  They nodded, checking his stomach.  The blood from the puncture wound had been hidden by the other blood.  Xander looked.  "No wonder I'm nauseous.  Can I have pain killers now?  Before I start to blubber like a littler boy?"

"Sir, you're taking this very well," the paramedic said as they moved him.

"Real men can take injuries and only swear or retaliate.  You cry when you're being stitched."  Xander took a deep breath.  "My boy's going to kill me."

"Sir, do we have to worry about anything in your blood?" one asked more quietly.

Xander stared at him.  "Just because I've finally found someone decent who doesn't try to kill me during dates doesn't mean I'm a druggie whore or have anything," he said, staring at him.  "Hell, I used to strip and never used drugs.  I'm about to break that.  Please don't make me beg?"

"You'll be at the ER very soon.  They'll have something for your surgery."

Xander nodded.  "Okay.  Make it a really fast trip?  Unlike the last one that took thirty minutes?  And by that way that's on my right ass cheek.  I stupidly was handling another problem in the bar."

They got him loaded and one climbed into the back with him.  They told the nurses that he wasn't crying, blubbering, begging, or anything, that he was conscious and mostly rational, so something was clearly wrong.

The nurse looked at him.  "Sir, have you taken anything today?"

Xander stared at her and pointed at his chest.  "I got that when I was seven," he said dryly.  She shuddered.  "I've had worse than this.  Okay?"  She nodded.  "I've been in combat.  Real men only start to cry and beg after the battle's over with," he said slowly and clearly.  "I ache like shit from both wounds and the old one from a week and a half ago.  Can I *please* have something for it?"

"Sure," she said, going to get him something very light while his blood ran.  She checked, so far the machine was reading nothing.  She came back and injected it into his IV.  "It's not as bad as it could be."

He pulled her over and put her hand over the other wound.  "What is that?  It's making me physically nauseous and has since they helped me up."  She checked and shook her head.  "Knife, smaller?"

"Probably a round looking thing that was about a screwdriver's worth?"

Xander lifted his head to look at it then at her.  "Am I bleeding internally?"  She looked.  He pointed at the blood pressure machine.  She looked and it was going down.  She checked and there was some.  His hip was worse.  She called for the surgeon again.  "I can stitch many things on myself, that isn't one," he said, keeping his focus on the ceiling.  "And if I tried, someone would be yelling.  Did you find my phone?"  She nodded.  "I need to send two text messages.  One to Buffy.  The other to Jensen."  She got it for him and he slowly tapped out messages to both of them.  "Am I at UCLA?"

"No.  General."

Xander added that and sent it then he passed out.

"Oh, dear."  She got more help in there.  "He was lucid until he sent a text message to let someone know something had happened."

The attending looked.  "He's been shot."

"Yes, and stabbed.  He was a bouncer, someone shot them."

"If he was lucid and not screaming he's not...."  The nurse pointed at the machines.  She stared.  "Was he on something?"

"Tests say no," a nurse said as she walked in with some blood units.  "Test's done and he's not on anything.  No sign of anything in his system outside of caffeine."  The doctor gave his body a look.

The first nurse pointed at a scar.  "He got that at seven."

"Oh, dear.  So he's an abuse survivor and can probably withstand torture."  She checked.  They were bad.  "Let's get him upstairs."

"I've called for a surgeon twice," the first nurse said.  "He said he could stitch many things on himself but not those."  She pointed at the stomach wound.   The blood got hooked in and things still looked bad.  New blood was flowing but out of his stomach.  "That's a bad sign."

The doctor checked.  "I'm not a surgeon."  She called for one.  The head of surgery complained until she told him why.  He stomped down.  "He's a bouncer.  He got shot on the job."

"That sucks for him," he said dryly.  He looked at the stomach wound.  "That doesn't look that bad."  The nurse unblocked the IV line and it started to bleed again.  "That's bad," he decided.  He checked his hip.  "That's a mess.  Are there no other surgeons?"

"I called twice," the nurse said.  "They're not that busy tonight from us.  We've only had two auto accidents."

Buffy stomped in and shoved someone trying to stop her out of the way.  "I want him moved to a really good hospital.  I have authority to treat from his medical contact, who is in Central America on a mission for the army."  The doctor stared at her.  "Can we safely do it before surgery?"

He nodded.  "Barely.  It's not a good idea.  Who are you?"

"Buffy Summers."  She handed over the paperwork Jensen had sent to her.

The doctor looked it over.  "It's a risk."

"Is he going to have to wait?" she asked.

"Probably.  It's bad but not horrible."

"Could he be paralyzed if he's not operated on soon?" she asked.  The nurses nodded.  She called.  "Giles, where?  Then ask Wesley, damn it!  Xander got shot on the job."  She listened.  "He was at UCLA before.  He's been at that one downtown before."  They nodded, calling there.

A nurse smiled.  "It's a good choice, next time have him tell the paramedics," she said quietly.  They got him sent to UCLA and Buffy rode with him.

Buffy patted him.  "Jensen's throwing an ungodly fit," she said quietly, stroking over his hair.  "So you stay down and we'll be there in minutes."  The paramedic with them nodded.  "I'll make sure the psycho one doesn't come up to taunt you too."  They pulled in and she held up her paperwork.  "I have his authority to treat."

The nurse looked it over.  "His family?"

"Parents are dead.  Uncle's a drunken shithead."

"Okay.  Two wounds?"  She walked her back there.  "Doctor, they sent the records as well," she said, handing them over.  "Oh, dear, I remember taking care of his last one."

"The notes said he was lucid until they started to probe his stomach wound," the doctor said, looking at it.  "What is that?"

"Whenever they add blood, it starts to seep," the paramedic in there said.  The doctor nodded, looking at something else.

Buffy was pushed out of the room.  "I want to know so I can update people."

"Of course.  Just stay there," the nurse ordered.   "Why switch him?"

"No one could find a surgeon and when the head guy came down, he was huffy and not happy to help him."

"They have been overworked," the nurse said.  They got Xander to surgery and let her wait up there and call people.


Jensen's phone rang.  "Buffy," he said, putting it on speaker.  "We're all here outside of Cougar.  He's walking the perimeter."

"Xander pulled through surgery very well.   He has a whole lot of stitches.  I've seen quilts with less stitching than his hip.  His stomach had a small seep on a vein that meant whenever it was full it seeped.  They fixed both.  Xander is on goofy drugs because he was talking to his curtains."  Roque snorted but moved closer.  "He was being a tough guy in the first ER but I had him moved to UCLA."

"Good choice," Clay said.  "How long are they going to keep him?"

"He'll be hopping for six weeks or so with that hip wound.  He'll be in here for a week or until his stomach is mostly sealed."  Her voice turned away from the phone.  "Xander, lay back down!  I'm telling Roque that you're being a good boy."

"I'm a very good boy," he said, sounding slurred.  "I didn't argue, and I was politer than last time, and I even waited to pass out until I got to the ER," he finished with a pout.

"You did and I'm very proud of you," Buffy said.  "So is Roque."

"Yes I am," Roque agreed.  He took a calming breath.

"Wade was there and ducked then said he would've helped me if I was his but he walked out because I said I was a taken man," Xander babbled.  "I was a good boy."

"You were," Roque agreed, his fists balling up.

"Roque," he cooed.  "I'm a good boy."

"Yes you are, Xander.  Be a good boy and take a nap?" Roque said.  "Like I needed."

"Okay," he whined.  "But I'm not tired and there's all sorts of light fairies in here.  They're in the folds of the curtains."

"What light fairies?" Buffy asked.

"The little twinkling things that aren't from shiny glass stuff."

Buffy sounded confused.  "I'll ask Giles if they're dangerous for you."

"They're not coming over so they clearly don't like me and therefore they're not dangerous," he babbled, sounding happy.  "Just pretty."

"Very pretty.  Why don't you nap?  Roque wanted you to take a nap."

"I ache."

"I know but you have medicine."

He shook his head.  "I still ache."

"You will for a few days but I know you can handle it," Roque told him.

"That's right," Clay agreed.  "You handled worse before, Xander.  Sleep it off for us and we'll see you real soon."

"If you're sure," he said.  "The pain killers aren't really killing the pain.  They're just making me happy.  Even the nurses said I'm happy."

"You're very happy sounding," Jensen agreed.  "You should try to rest so they don't have to worry about you."

"True, that way they can go help people who're really sick.  Night night, Roque Bear."

"Night, Xander."  He shook his head, rolling his eyes.  Jensen was grinning at him.  So was Pooch.  "You rest and I'll be there soon."

"Good.  I could use cuddles."

"I know.  I needed some and you gave me good ones, Xander."  Xander yawned and purred, then started to snore.  "Buffy?  Honestly?" he asked when he heard the beep.

"Honestly they're really nice and they smile at him a lot because he's so nice and happy.  The injuries looked really nasty but cleaned up it still looks nasty but not as bad.  As for the psycho thing, no clue.  He was at work."

"All right.  Find out and tell us," Clay said.  "That way we know before we can get up there.  It might take us as much as a week."

"I can do that."  She hung up with an 'oooh, bad'.

Roque and Clay shared a look.  "I say we kill all the fuckers tonight."

"Hostages," Pooch reminded him.


"It's good to see you in goofy love, Roque," Pooch said with a grin.  Roque growled and pulled a knife.  "Easy, boy.  It was a compliment."  Roque stomped off.

Clay nodded.  "Plan it for later."  They got the rest of the info they needed to bust in and save the hostages.


Buffy hung up, staring at the man standing there.  "Hi, Xander's uncle."

"You're not his family."

"No, I have his authority to treat him," she said bluntly.  "As given by the holder of it since he's in Central America."

"Him?" Xander's uncle sneered.

"Yes, him.  He's a big, badass guy that's fairly nice."  She stared at him, glancing at a nurse.  Then back at him.  "Xander said his family wasn't to make any decisions and he's lucid enough when he's awake.  Xander?"  Xander snorted and woke up, blinking at her.  "Your uncle's here?"

Xander stared at him.  "It's been over a year and you visit now?" he demanded.  "How hard am I to find since I've been in here twice."

"I wasn't on duty those days," he sneered.

Xander stared at him.  "I saw you one of them.  I thought you made yourself very clear."

"I heard you're living on a rich person's arm," he sneered.  "We taught you better."

"No, I bought my own house with my own money," Xander said.  The man gaped.  Xander stared at him.  "I may have a special thing but he'd look at you and sneer."

"Him?" Rory demanded.  Xander nodded.  "You fucking...."

"Enough," Buffy snapped.  "I don't give a damn but get away from Xander."  Rory glared at her.  "Nurse, please?"

"I'm not happy and it still hurts even when I am," Xander called.  "Can I be less happy and less in pain?"

The nurse brought in something.  "The doctor changed it on you, dear."  She injected him.  She looked at the older man.  "Xander, who do you want to make a decision for you if you're passed out?"

"My boyfriend but he's in Central America.  Buffy's good enough to do it and if she needs to she has people she can ask questions with."

"I'll make sure your charts says that."  The boy nodded, drifting off again.  "You rest.  You need rest to heal."  She looked at the maintenance guy.  "You're upsetting him and he got shot on the job earlier.  He does not need this.  You may be an uncle but he's made his choice for now."  Xander mumbled something.  "No, there's no reason that she should have to turn machines off on you," she soothed, patting his hair down.  "We'll go over that the next time you wake up, Xander."  He nodded, shifting some with a wince.  "No, stay flat."  He pouted and curled up anyway.  Buffy helped by putting a pillow between his knees.  She looked but his uncle was gone.  "Try not to make such a scene," she told Buffy quietly, getting a nod.  "We have a waiting area you can yell at him in if he comes back."  Buffy smiled.  "Thank you.  Was it helping the pain any?"

"No but apparently he found sparkly fairies in the curtains."

"We've always wondered about those."  She walked off to make notes about all that in his chart.

Buffy walked over to look.  There was clearly something sparkly but she thought it was a sparkly thread.  "Huh."


Buffy walked into the Hyperion.  "Xander's being a butthole about wanting to go home already."  Giles shook his head, taking off his glasses to clean them.  "Part of that is because his uncle showed up to yell at him and he doesn't want another round of it.  I apparently slept through one."  She stared at him.  "They're talking about firing his uncle for that."

"Good," Gunn said.  "How is he otherwise?"

"Good painkillers.  Anyone talk to his boss?  He wanted to but they wouldn't let him use his phone in the hospital.   It's locked in some sort of personal object locker downstairs."

"Not yet," Wesley admitted.  "You could go talk to him.  I know where he works."  Buffy grinned at him.  "He'll be all right?"

"He's bordering on cranky because that one psycho was there and taunted him a little bit.  Xander's pouting he should've shot him then."

"I can see Xander being in pain and doing that, yes," Giles said dryly.  "He has gotten a bit tougher."

Buffy stared at him.  "He would've done it in Sunnydale, Giles.  Really."  He gaped.  "I took a lot of looks back at things in high school.  I made some crappy decisions and people followed me anyway.  That was one of them."  She looked at Wesley, who was smiling at her.  "You're driving."

"Of course I am, you're horrid at it," he teased with a smile.

"And not on the bike either, Wes.  I don't need the Buffy panties problem before going into a bar."  He cackled but nodded, getting Gunn's keys from him.  "We'll be back in a bit."  She followed him out.  "Should we tell the demon bar so they're nicer?"

"No, it may lead to a few people trying to break into his house."  She nodded.  "There is an agent we should tell however.  We can do that on the way back."  She smiled.  "He knows Xander has weapons."

"I heard about that sitch.  He complained.  A lot."  Wesley laughed.  He drove her to the bar, following her inside.  She stared at the older guy behind the bar.  "I'm Buffy, Xander's friend."  The older man stared at her.  "He'll be okay, out in a bit but hopping for a bit."

"I saw the statement the police took.  How okay is he?"

"The guy apparently had something round and pointy that got him on the stomach and the bullet hit his hip in just the perfect spot to get into the joint."  The older guy winced.  "So he'll be fine.  UCLA cleaned it up and they'll be releasing him soon.  He wanted to call but they won't let him use his phone."

"That's fine, Buffy.  Thank you for letting me know.  Where is he in UCLA?"  Buffy wrote down his room number.  "I'll pop around before we open."

She smiled.  "He might like that.  They have him on better pain killers so he's a bit growly and scowly thanks to his uncle but not happy anymore.  That night he talked to the curtain fairies."

"Real ones?" Wesley asked.

"He called them twinkly light fairies."

"Ah.  Those are rather pleasant to see."  He shook his head.

The old guy shook his head.  "Xander's a hell of a kid."

Buffy nodded.  "Yeah he is.  Anyway, just an FYI.  Laters."  She walked out with Wes.  The old guy, who was the owner's bodyguard, took the coffee back to tell him that.  He'd go talk to Xander later.  The boss hated being scowled at, though it was probably a good reason to scowl.  The drive to the Federal building wasn't too long but traffic was rotten again today.  It seemed like LA had whole weeks like this.  "The traffic in Bangkok when I overnighted there was slightly worse than this at two in their morning."

"The traffic in most Asian cities is atrocious," Wesley assured her.  "There was a problem on a Chinese highway in the news recently that led to a four day traffic block."

She whimpered.  "Four days?  How did they eat and go potty?"

"The side of the road for the last I'd assume.  Otherwise, no clue."  She shuddered.  "Much easier for gentlemen, yes," he teased with a smirk.

"I learned how to properly use a tree while I was in Cambodia."  He laughed.  "Seriously!  The outhouse was disgusting.  Even the villagers wouldn't use it.  I texted back for an idea and Xander suggested they get some lye to put down it."

"I believe that was the way they did things from what I've read, yes."  He pulled into the parking area in front of the building.  "There you go.  I'll wait out here."

"Okay.  Hopefully it won't be too long.  Which agent?"  Wesley showed him the picture on his phone he had accidentally taken during a questioning period about demons.  "Name?"


"That's cool."  She got out and went to the receptionist.  "Hi, I need to FYI an Agent Granger about a mutual friend," she said with a smile.  The woman called and nodded, handing her a visitor's badge.  Buffy clipped it onto her belt and let the security guys scan her.  She got onto the elevator as instructed and went up there.  She spotted him and sat down at his desk, staring at his tired look.  "Bad day?"


"Yup."  She stared at him.

"It's been a hell of a week.  Another battle?"

"There was a guy at the bar who hated male strippers.  He shot the bartender and Xander got one in the hip."  Granger moaned, rubbing his face with his hands.  "He's going to be okay.  He'll be out soon.  He said that psycho guy Wade was there and taunted him, plus didn't help, because Xander wouldn't fuck him."  Colby stared at her.  She smiled.  "He's somewhere in LA still probably."


"Psycho Canadian army guy?"

He thought back and leaned back.  "Don?  Who's Wade?"

"The wannabe he shot in the crotch," he called back dryly.  "That commando."

"Oh!"  He looked at her.  "You think he's still in town?"

"Yup.  Probably.  I woke up at three when he snuck in to visit."

Colby smirked.  "There's a restraining order.  We nicely filed one for him."

"That's cool.  I don't think the nurses would be of much help though with the way he was mean before."

"No, probably not."

"And he still thinks Xander's a really good wifey candidate.  He offered him a ring last night and all that."  Colby moaned, shaking his head.  "Xander was all babbly on his painkillers and joked that he'd have to be part of Roque's harem if he accepted it."  She stood up.  "So, anyway, you guys can handle that.  Xander's got his alarm system on.  I told his boss.  Now I'm going to get some real sleep.  I kept getting woken by nurses, him, and his uncle, who showed up to whine about Xander having a boyfriend and not taking care of him.  Xander had the nurses make a note his uncle is not to make any decisions for him."

"I'll keep that in mind."  Buffy smiled and left.  Colby got up and went to talk to Don.  "Wade visited Xander in UCLA this morning to offer him a ring."

Don Epps stared at him.  "If the nurses tried to interfere he'd probably hurt them."

"Yup."  He smirked harder.  "He's probably in the city."

"Find his ass.  We can go remind him of the restraining order and make sure he hates violating it."  Colby nodded, going to do that.  Don called some other sources that might have an idea.  Including one of the arms dealers Xander liked to talk to.  "Tell Arnold it's Agent Epps."  He got put on hold and then passed over.  "I just talked to someone who said that Wade's in town bothering Xander."  He listened.  "No, offered him a ring.  Xander's in UCLA."  He listened, making notes.  "That'll help him, yes.  Thank you."  He hung up and handed that to Colby.  They got their vests and guns, and a few other agents too.

You brought extra guys with big guns when dealing with someone like Wade.  And possibly Xander.


Roque walked off the plane and saw the pissed off look Pooch had.  "Jolene swear at you?"

"We've got an immediate ship out," Pooch said dryly.

"Can't," Roque said, pointing at Jensen, who was limping.  "He needs a cast."  The higher up sneering at them glared at him.  Roque stared back.  "Not like we can do a job without comm and tech support."

"I can get you a sub."

"Like hell," Clay said dryly.  "What you outlined, he should be able to do once he gets a cast put on.  It can wait two hours?"  The higher up sneered again but nodded.  "Thank you.  Guys, let's hit the ER, do the report while waiting on hop-along there, and then we ship to Georgia."

Cougar looked at him.  "Ours?"

"Theirs," the higher up snorted.

"Charming, it's winter there," Jensen said dryly.  "That'll just make it *so* much fun.   Hopefully we have time to repack since our all stuff was for our last mission in South America."  They helped him to the waiting jeep.  Even if it was the higher up's ride.

Roque called out to LA while Pooch was on the phone with Jolene.  "How is he?"  He listened to Buffy babble at him.  "What?  Mother fucker I'll kill his ass," he assured her.  She cackled, they could all hear it.  Then he burst out laughing.  "He'd be pathetic at it but thank you for that mental image and him for turning him down again.  Europe.  Thanks, Buffy."  He hung up.  "Wade snuck into Xander's hospital room and proposed."  Clay stiffened and growled, his eyes narrowing.  "Xander said if he accepted it, it'd mean Wade was part of my harem too."

"He'd make an ugly wife," Clay said dryly.  Roque nodded, smirking at him.  "I'd never let him come near your other wife."

Jensen looked down.  "If you do take Wade in that way to train him better, we'll shelter Xander until he's fucked too stupid to do anything."  The nurse glared at him.  He glared back.  "He's a psychotic guy who likes to kill.  A lot.  Especially innocents."

"This....Xander?" she demanded.

Roque looked at her.  "Mind your own business, lady.  Just get him a cast.  We're shipping out again in a few hours."  She huffed off.

"Unwise," Clay said quietly.

"Damned if I care.  I can make better money going private.  Plus get permission to go kill Wade."  Jensen grinned at him.  "You, stuff it.  Even with the goofy drugs."

"Yup, sure I will," Jensen quipped.

Roque pulled out a knife.  "I can make sure you can do laundry."

The base commander stomped in.  "Who is Xander?" he demanded.

"Do I ask you who any of your trashy little girlfriends are or their sisters that you fucked, sir?" Roque demanded.  "Xander is the guy we were protecting before."

The base commander sneered.  "Are you admitting you're in a relationship?"

"No, I'm telling you it's none of your business.  The same as I don't care that you had to use nerve gas on someone last year to get them into bed after the base-wide Holiday party."  The base commander sneered more.  Roque shrugged.  "Not like I care."  He looked at Cougar.  "I'll let you borrow a few extra shirts since whoever sent me clothes gave me so many long sleeved ones."  Cougar nodded his thanks.  The doctor came back.  "Finally!  We ship out in a few hours, Doc."

"Not if I don't say so," the base commander sneered.

Clay looked at him.  "Hey, talk to Poindexter," he offered.  "He was just ordering us.  And there's nothing wrong with us guarding a young guy from a psychotic mother fucker who killed whole villages for fun."  The base commander backed down at that slightly.

"I think it's nice Xander offered Roque to retrain Wade so he could be a better human," Jensen agreed.  "It might make them both less growly and maybe even make Wade sane."

"I doubt that'll happen," Pooch said dryly.

"Me too," Clay agreed.  "There's not enough sex in the world to make Wade sane.  Even if you fed him anti-psych drugs first."

Buffy showed up in a glowy light, looking around confused.  "This is not my bedroom in LA.  How in the hell...?"  Her phone beeped with a text message.  She read it.  "Oh, Willow."  She nodded.  "Okay."  She looked at the huffy and staring people.  "Not my idea."  She shrugged and kissed Roque on the cheek.  "He's still babbling at the curtain fairies."  She kissed Clay properly and smiled.  "Willow said you may not go to Georgia because it's actually a demon problem.  Something about a demon gang uprising."

"Demons?" the doctor snorted.

Buffy slapped the base commander and stole his image projector.  "Yup, just like him."  She looked at Clay again.  "She also said they're cannibals, they would eat you for fun, and the only one they'd save is Jensen and Roque because for *some* reason they respect Xander a whole lot.  I'm not sure what he did to earn it though."  Roque moaned, shaking his head.  "You know, that agent guy did the same thing when I told him about Wade."  She smirked.  "And when you come back, he said only he can kill his uncle."  She looked at Clay again.  "So if you go, they won't let you stop the uprising and I doubt you can kill them since it takes a very tiny amount of uranium in a small patch of skin on their hips.  Which they wear armored patches over from what I saw when I met some in Cambodia."

"Who are you?" the Doctor asked.

"Demons are my job to handle when they're being bad."  She looked at the base commander.  "Xander likes them a lot."  She smiled.  "Did I forget to introduce myself?  I'm the Slayer Buffy."  He backed off looking scared.  She looked at Clay again.  "I have no idea why they're uprising and by the time you get there most of their targets will probably be stew."

"That's a disgusting thought.  Can I get the information on their species in case we still have to go?"

"Ask Wes.  He can fax it and all that stuff since Giles thinks fax machines are as evil as computers."

"I can do that," he said with a smile.  "Thank you, Buffy.  Tell Xander to relax and not kill his uncle, just snub him and have him banned from his room."

"He can't.  His uncle's doing the floors up there.  He asked last night when the nurse interrupted his uncle nagging him about not taking care of him since they're blood."

"Did Xander remind him his father always thought a man made his own way unless he leaned on his son?" Roque asked.

"Yup, which was when the 'we're blood' thing started," she admitted.

Roque shook his head.  "Let Xander work out some stress."

"What did the ring look like?" Jensen asked.

Buffy grinned.  "Three carats of round, brown diamond and two one carat blue ones beside it.  It matched their eyes.  Platinum band.  Really pretty but way expensive."

"Wow.  Box?"

"That special store in the Hills that even I can't drool enough on.  HW, Jenny."  She grinned and texted Willow.  She got back one.  "No, I can't go on assignment with them but if I need to I can travel and lurk if they want me to," she answered.  She got taken back to LA.

"Do we think he bought or stole from Harry Winston?" Pooch asked quietly.

"You buy the special things.  You steal the things for hos," Roque said dryly, staring at Clay.  Who shrugged.

"That ring wasn't in the store when Jolene took us to fantasy shop," Jensen said.  They all stared at him.  "She wanted to fantasy shop for a fiftieth anniversary piece."  Pooch grinned at that thought.  "There wasn't a single piece in the store that looked like that.  No brown diamonds that I remember."  Cougar shook his head too.  He had escorted her and the baby.

"So it was custom," Roque said.  Jensen nodded.  "Shut up, it keeps getting worse."

"He dropped large," Pooch said.  "I looked at a blue diamond pendant and it was twice what a normal one was."  Roque glared at him too.  He looked at the base commander.  "We don't care about peaceful demons, sir.  We learned a lot about that side while helping Harris.  And how to stake vampires when we went to hunt in Sunnydale with the slayers."

The base commander shuddered.  "Harris?"  They all nodded with a smirk.  He looked at Roque.  "Then I wish you luck if that's your taste.  I won't put in papers against you."

Roque shrugged.  "Can't prove anything anyway."

"Whatever.  I'll see if that demon uprising is the mission.  You will need a slayer for them."  He left to go shudder in peace.  Harris had taken a boyfriend?  Damn, he hadn't heard that rumor.  Probably because he was military and so was his boyfriend.  He wondered if that meant he'd have to give Roque and Harris a present when they married.

Clay looked at Roque, shrugging.  "Who knows."  Roque nodded back.

The doctor got done.  "I'm going to forget seeing you boys.  Go away."  They left, Jensen hopping along on his new crutches.  He checked, his scales weren't showing so the slayer had known who to nag.  It was good she was still going and growing up.


Xander woke up to find Wade staring at him.  He looked around the overly spacious room, then back at his captor.  "You kidnaped me from the hospital the day they were going to let me out?"

"It was easier than trying to get you at home and having you reach for artillery."  He smiled as he stood up.  "The housekeeper made breakfast."

"I could eat but I'm still not letting you fuck me."

"That's for after the wedding."  He walked off looking smug.

"I didn't say yes," Xander called.

"You will.  I'm fantastic."

Xander groaned.  "Damn it and we have to plan for that invasion," he complained to himself.  Wade came back, giving him an odd look.  "I'm part of LA's defense team, you know that right?"  Wade nodded.  "Within six months we're having a demonic invasion."

Wade tipped his head.  "Seriously?"  Xander nodded.  "I hadn't heard that.  Who?"

"Black Thorn.  We've been working on stopping them.  I'm the one planning the defense for when they do it.  So I need to get back to LA really soon."

"I'll have to look that up."  He walked off to verify that information.  It could be a cheesy ploy to get free of him but no... there was one and one of other former Minions of Max was involved.  He made plans to kill him in a few days.  Xander would like the calming down time and his housekeeper loved him like a son so she could tell Xander how good he was when he wanted to be.


Xander waited until he was alone that night.  He got up and limped to the bathroom again.  Because he had something in there and he could blank out all the cameras.   He wasn't stupid, he had been learning electronics in his downtime.  And he had found something sharp and pointy.  If Wade had cameras in there, it'd just make it a bigger fight.  He could handle that.  Xander looked around.  Then he breathed on the mirror and inscribed symbols in the steam, getting a nice picture of Fred.  "I have no idea where I am."

"Neither do we," she said.  "Buffy?  It's Xander."  She came jogging in.   "How are you doing that?"

"Something I picked up in Oxnard."  He looked at Buffy and shrugged.  "Wade.  This is his hideout with his housekeeper but he doesn't like Black Thorn either."

"Then I guess it's pretty universal.  Now if only your mirror had GPS," she said dryly.  He pointed at his hip.  She smirked and nodded.  He had that locator chip implanted because Roque had ordered Cougar to stick him with one.  "I'll work on that.  They're at Bragg.  They were almost sent to a demon uprising but they decided it would be really messy because they heard you had been captured and Roque was pissed.  Are you good?"

"He said I'm not under obligation to screw him into the bed until the wedding," he said, giving her a look.

She stared back.  "Now I have that mental image of you in the big poufy dress," she complained, rubbing her forehead.

"With his body, he should go for a mermaid style," Fred quipped with a grin at Xander, who grinned back.

"Fred," Buffy complained.  "Eww, push up bra and all.  Bad."  Xander blew on the mirror again since the picture was fading.  "Let me...  Go get this image out of my head before I need Giles' big hammer."  She walked off rubbing her forehead but calling.  "Jensen, Buffy, found Xander.  Wade's got him at his hideout with his housekeeper.  Xander said he hasn't tried anything funny and won't until after the wedding."  She hung up on the loud swearing.  "I thought Clay and I had potty mouth," she mumbled.  "Giles, I need your headache hammer."

Fred shrugged, looking at Xander.  "Protect yourself and rest.  You need it to heal."

Xander nodded.  "Yes I do."  He blew on it again.  "I'll call again tomorrow."  She smiled and waved.  He wiped off the steam with a towel and limped back to bed.  He ached like shit but he wasn't taking the painkillers that had been left beside his bed.  He didn't trust anyone there.

In his room, Wade turned off the video camera's feed.  "Smart, sensitive, and crafty; very nice," he decided, laying down to get happy with the thoughts of his new wife.

"Eww, you're loud!" Xander shouted a while later.  "And I'm not that flexible!"

Wade cackled, changing his fantasy a little bit with that information.  He'd help him work on that flexibility problem.  It'd be good rehab for his hip.


Jensen stomped/hopped into the other room in their off-base house.  "Wade has him."  Roque looked at Jensen, still sharpening an older knife.  One of his favorite ones.  "He somehow got word back to Buffy.  He's at his hideout with his housekeeper.  She said he hasn't tried anything and won't until the wedding.  But he doesn't like Black Thorn either."

Roque nodded.  "Do we know where that is yet?"

"There's six possible places.  I have the name of a contact who might know and he's easily talked to."

Roque gave him an evil smirk. "How easy?"

"Depends, how fast can we go get a senator's aide?"

"Very.  Tell Clay?"

"I was hoping he was in here calming you down."

"He tried really hard but I'm going to kill a whole lot of people."

"I'll hop behind you with pom-poms since I like Xander a lot too.  He's a nice guy and could really be a good friend."  He hopped back to his room.  "All of them are in nice, warm places."

"Good.  Remember to pack a good med kit for him."  This extraction was going to be hard with Jensen on crutches and Xander still needing some.  But if they killed everyone there, it'd be easier.  He could appreciate that plan and Xander would be the sort to reward him this time.


It took over a week.  Xander was in better shape and could walk easier.  That was a positive.  Xander had almost made it off the grounds on his own the night before but there was a huge snake and Xander only had a kitchen knife.  He had killed the snake but it had slowed him down and that housekeeper was one tough Russian lady.  She had picked him up and carried him back inside, nagging the whole way in her native language.  She put him in his room, handing him some clean towels with a smile and a pat on the cheek, then left him alone.  Apparently she approved of him.

So when he heard a chopper the next night he was happy.  It might be a rescue party, though that was a very open plan for the Losers.  He heard it land and went to the windows.  No line of sight.  Xander climbed out onto the roof to watch, laying on his stomach.  The one he saw didn't amuse him.  Xander snuck back down and left the house again.  This time he was more stealthy.

Everyone was focused on the general in the chopper.  Who he recognized as Black Thorn.  He heard a shot and sighed.  "Maybe it'll help stop the invasion," he muttered.  He made it over the fence this time but he was in pain now.  He took one of the painkillers and snuck into the trees.  He was out of practice for woods tracking but the hyena was purring in his head.  They were plains hunters but she could appreciate trees.  He figured out which way was North and walked that way.  He had to run into a road or a town eventually.  Right?

There was no indication of being on an island so he was probably okay on that plan.


Wade finished with the general who was causing his new wife some stress.  "Supposedly so tough," he said dryly.  "Burn him," he ordered.  "Send his uniform back with a note."  The guards nodded.  He looked around, mentally counting.  "Do I have to kill whoever left Xander unguarded?"

"The house is locked, sir," one said.  He was new though so he was still stupid.

Wade shot him.  "From the inside, idiot."  He walked off.  "Maman!  Is he still here?"

"No, dear, he snuck into the woods."

"Goody.  I could use some hunting," he said with a leer.  He packed a backpack of necessary supplies.  New knife, very sharp.  Blanket.  Clothes.  Medical kit in case his wife tore some stitches.  Lube.  Condoms.  Handcuffs.  Gag.  Blindfold.  Extra socks.  The standard things in his pack.  Then he went to find him.  Wade considered.  Then he started south.  That was the closer road and town.  If not, he'd drive along the road looking.

Xander wasn't trained that way.  His dossier said nothing about woods training or survival training, even if it had mentioned he talked about camping once.

He was a nice, soft Southern California boy from a bad town, but not that bad.


Xander found a bar and walked in, leaning on the bar with a wince.  "May I use the phone?" he asked in Spanish.  "I need to call someone to come rescue me from someone who kidnaped me."  He blinked a few times.

"You are not local," he said quietly.

"No, I'm supposed to be in LA."  He spotted someone and looked.  "I know you, you got a phone?"

"We do not piss that one off, Harris."

Xander stared at him.  "Would you rather my boy shows up?"


"Then let's get me back there or let me call him?  That way I don't have to help World War 3."

"He will find out and torture us."

"Apparently me being this way means he likes me more," Xander said dryly, glancing outside.  Then at the demon.  He looked in the mirror, spotting his tail.  "Huh."  He turned and threw his knife at the guard outside who was pulling out his phone.  "Thanks."  He walked over and took the phone, leaving the guy begging for mercy.  Xander stared at him.  "I'm in pain but I might have mercy."  He frisked him, finding his wallet, keys, and an extra phone.  He looked at that one.  It only had his wife's number in it.  "Go home to her.  Someone like him will kill you quickly or someone against him will."

He tossed that back down and went to look over the car.  He knew what a GPS system looked like.  His sedan had one and he had it looked at by a mechanic to make sure it wasn't a problem device.  He found it and ripped it out then got in and drove off, calling Clay's phone.  "Okay, well, I've stolen a car, I've stabbed a guard.  Um..."  He looked around.  "Leaving a dinky town to the north of the compound he had and he took out the Black Thorn's general."  He heard the static and looked at the phone then put it back against his ear.  "I feel like shit.  How's your day been, secondary wife?"  The phone went dead.  Xander kept it on though.  Jensen could track it.


Clay threw his phone against a wall.  "Xander managed to escape at least partially."

Jensen grabbed the phone to get the number, pulling it up on the scans.  "Huh.  They're in Canada."  Roque looked over his shoulder.  "It's pinging these towers."  Roque nodded and grabbed his bag.  "That narrows the compounds down to two."

"He was heading north from it," Clay said.

"That would weed out both of those."  Jensen got into a property search as the others grabbed bags.  He let it run while they moved out to the jeep they used on base.  He looked.  "Bingo.  Only large property up there belongs to ... I'm guessing that's his housekeeper."  He showed Clay what they had on record for it.

"I'm betting he had it remodeled after those plans had to be put on file," Clay said, taking the laptop to look over.  "That way no one could get an accurate layout.  Any cameras?"

"No, not that I can hack into.  As far as I can tell it's a satellite system and there's no telling what one he's using.  I can check some but it'll take forever with how many satellites there are."

"Six hour trip," Roque said.  He got the number from Clay's phone and called.  It was real staticky.  "Xander, head southeast.  You're going too far west."  He hung up.  "Staticky."

Jensen sent a text message with those exact words in case it was a code.  "Think we can get any help from the Canadians?"

"No," Clay said.  "Or they would've dealt with him by now."  His phone rang.  "Clay."  He listened.  "That's very nice.  We can be there in thirty.  Heading that way now.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Pooch, head west to that private airfield that business guy uses."  Pooch nodded.  "We've got a private flight offered by someone."

"Human or demon?" Pooch asked.

"Don't know," Clay said.  Pooch nodded and they made it there in great time.  Traffic was light this time of night.  They were all very motivated to break the speed limit.  When they got there, they found a guy in a suit.  Clay stared at him.  "Mr. Hasar.  I saw your picture in the paper last night."

"I have the utmost respect for Mr. Harris, even if all my uncles and Father don't," he said in a light British accent.  "And would gladly help that man with his plans."  He smiled.  "Many of us think that the group of that trio plus any others they bring in or rope in can solve nearly any apocalypse.  No matter what the rest of the Council thinks."  He pointed.  "It's going to Canada, are you going that way?"  He walked off.

"Thank you," Clay called.

"Just make sure the next one doesn't end us all."

"We're working against the plans for the invasion of LA," Jensen called.  Mr. Hasar turned to stare at him.  "Black Thorn...."

"Bloody hell, already?  That's not due for years last I heard."

"They moved it up because people knew it'd be in three years," Clay said.

"Then I'd get that boy back into shape.  That last wound is probably fairly bad and that little trainee watcher twerp was quite stupid."

"Is Wade's family from the Council?" Jensen asked.

"No, Travers just thought him a fitting reward for stepping in where he wasn't meant to go."  He smirked as he walked over to his car.  "Have a nice flight, boys, and don't harass my stewardess too much please.  She's fragile and prone to killing people."  He got into the back and his driver drove off.

They got onto the plane.   Jensen showed the pilot where the tracker was at that moment so they could plan.


Xander had to rest and let the pain die down.  So he had rented a room in the scummiest motel he could in the biggest city he had hit so far.  Even the check-in guy had prison tats.  He had looked at Xander like he was a meal.  "I have to give the gunshot wound time to heal before the rest of the commandos and arms dealers show up," he said dryly.  The man gaped at him.  Xander smirked.  "Key?"  It was handed over.  "Thank you."  He blew a kiss.  "Like the dragon on your ear.  Very sweet work."  The guy grinned at him for that compliment to his tattoo.  Xander went up to stretch out.  His hip was killing him and the pain killers clouded him too much to be able to drive.

He patted his thigh and dug out the small chip Cougar had hit him with, tossing it down the drain and running water after it.  If anyone was using it, it'd send them off on the wrong path.  Wade would figure he had dropped it and then taken off after a bit of minimal care.  Unfortunately his hip was going to cause him issues for weeks on end.  He had spent far longer in the car than he had wanted to.  But it was imperative he got to safety.   He didn't want to be married to Wade.  Roque would kill him.  Well, both of them really.  Xander let himself drift a bit on the haze of pain but it was all bad so he couldn't really sleep.


Roque snuck into the motel room, staring at his boy.  He had given them fits making it that far.  Xander wasn't asleep, which he thought was a good idea, but he was clearly spaced out on something.  He snuck closer to the bed.  Xander came off the bed with an older hunting knife he had found somewhere and sliced at him. "Whoa, boy," he ordered.  Xander attacked again.  He picked him up and slammed him onto the bed, getting slightly cut.  "You need to sharpen that, Xander."  Xander blinked at him.  "Hi."  He smirked.  "Clay's expecting you to faint at my feet this time."

"Ow."  Roque let his leg go.  "Thank you.  That hurt like fuck."

Roque stared at him.  "What?"

"Roque, a-hundred-thirty-eight stitches, dear."  Roque shuddered.  "Hurts since the pain killer I took is wearing out."  He nodded.  "Can we go home?"

"Yeah, that's why I came in to rescue your stubborn ass."

"Pot, kettle," Xander said dryly, moaning as he stood up.  "How far behind us is he?"

"At least an hour by his phone."  He helped Xander down the car.  "Jensen, scoot."  Jensen moved closer to Cougar, letting Roque sit with Xander in his lap.

"Can I go in the trunk?  I ache.  I sat way too long."

"Yeah you did," Clay said dryly, looking back at him.  "How did you manage eight hours sitting with that injury?"

"I'm stupid."

"You are not," Jensen said firmly, helping Xander shift onto his lap instead.  Roque glared at him.  "This way he can stretch his leg across yours to ease the hip injury.  You know I'm not going to fondle him or anything fun like that."  Roque shrugged but let it happen.  Cougar was looking.  "How healed are you?" Jensen asked.

Xander looked at him then at Roque.  "Did you pick up those painkillers for me?"

"Yeah, I grabbed the bottle, the wallet you had, and the other two things in there on the way out.  Why?"

"What other two things?" Xander asked, blinking hard at him.  He was going to fall asleep soon.

"The knife and the ring....."  Xander shook his head.  "Shit."  He looked.  "Damn that is nice."

Xander moaned, putting his head down on Jensen's shoulder.  "So he found me and left me there?"

Jensen texted that to someone he knew locally, who asked.  When they got back to him Jensen shook his head.  "No.  He had it sent ahead so you could stare at it.  He sent it with a minion who was at the motel making sure you couldn't escape again.  He headed in the other direction."

"I figured it was the sort of place no one would mention anyone without a warrant," Xander said through a yawn.

"Ten more minutes," Pooch said quietly.  Xander nodded.

"I always thought it was sweet when my niece did this," he teased, checking Xander's stomach.  "That healed nicely.  What did he have?"

"He had an awl in his pocket from work."  Xander grimaced.  "Hurt worse than my hip did.  I was doing okay until they added some blood and it started to seep.  It was making me nauseous," he said through another yawn.  "And wobbly headed.  I was lucid until then and I was even nice to the nurses."

"I'm sure you were," Roque agreed.  "Buffy said you refused to be whiny because you were a manly man sort."  Xander nodded, staring at him, pouting slightly.  "We're taking commercial flights back but there's four layovers back home.  At least an hour each one.  Each flight is no more than three hours."  Xander grinned at him for that.  "You can rest on the flight."  Xander nodded.  Roque checked the ring box.  No bugs, no tracking chips.  Or in the ring itself.  He put it into his pocket.  He'd talk to Wade about his desires for his good thing later.  When he had more knives than usual on him.

"I was a good boy, I even asked for painkillers instead of begging," Xander told Jensen, who hugged him.

"I probably would've begged, Xander, and they thought you were too tough because you didn't."  He watched the pouty one fall asleep, smiling at him.  Roque shook his head.  Pooch pulled into the parking lot and they got out, Roque helping Xander.  Jensen on his crutches.  Cougar following the group and watching around them.  They got to security and the guards gave them dirty looks.  "He's still got stitches from being shot, guys.  Including at least a few staples.  Hip and stomach.  There's no brace under my cast and no metal parts on it.  Cougar can help me through."

They hand-wanded them and let them through after checking ID's.  They had been sent Xander's from LA.  One guard spotted Clay's dogtags, getting a pointed look back.  Clay smiled as he put them back on.  Jensen got himself, Cougar, and Xander something to nibble on the plane.  The guy's wallet was nicely stuffed.  Must've been payday.  They settled in to wait, Xander napping against Roque's arm.  The gate check in stewardess gave them odd looks.  Jensen grinned and pointed at his crutches, getting a nod.

She walked over.  "Do we need to call ahead for wheelchairs, sir?" she asked Jensen.

"I can hop along and Xander's had recent surgery on his hip so standing would be easier on him.  He'll probably need that time to stretch."  She nodded and smiled.  "But thank you for asking," he said with a happy grin.

She smiled back.  "We get a lot of elderly people from the resort through here."  She winked and went back to her station.  When it was time for pre-boarding of families with children and those disabled, they got to go in first.  They arranged themselves with Roque and Xander in two seats, Roque on the aisle.  Clay and Pooch in front.  Cougar and Jensen beside them.  Roque put down the window shade and let Xander nap against his arm again.  Once they were in the air, Roque carefully moved, putting an arm around Xander's body.  It let him snuggle better and the armrest got put up for him too.  It was...nice.  Very comforting.  Though he removed the arm anytime anyone came near them.


They finally got back to North Carolina and Xander was back in pain.  Roque promised they'd let him take a painkiller and lay down at the house.  It was only twenty minutes away.  Xander nodded and yawned, following him out to the cab area.  Xander even paid for it so they could use the bigger, private cars instead.  They got home and Clay found his note on the door for anyone showing up to get them for meetings or a mission now had a note written on the bottom.  Underneath the 'off rescuing a friend in Canada' was written 'report at ten am the morning you got back or else - General Harmrick, Base Commander'.  Clay checked, it was about fifteen minutes 'til but he could run to the base that quick.  Driving was faster.  He let Pooch take his pack and headed off.

Roque got Xander some water to take his pill and put him into bed.  Xander snuffled the pillows and smiled, falling asleep.  Roque sniffed but they smelled normal to him.  He had no idea why Xander was smiling.  He went to shower, change, get food that wasn't in a wrapper, and then came back to rest with him.  On top of the sheets in case someone from the base broke in.

Clay walked into the base commander's office.  "We're just now back, sir," he said, saluting.  "Within twenty minutes of us getting back."

"Good timing," he said dryly.  "That was a very vague note when I came to talk to you about the problems with the last proposed mission that got canceled."

"Wade had stolen Mr. Harris to Canada."  The base commander gave him an odd look.  "That one you busted our asses about in Peru?"

"Oh, him," he said with a grimace.  "Why did he steal your contact in LA?"

"He was planning on coercing him into marriage, even though Mr. Harris has told him no many times.  There's even a restraining order against him because of that.  Hell, Harris shot his ass twice and he can't get a clue."

"That's pathetic," the base commander said.

"Also, Harris was doing a pretty good job of saving himself, but he was taken the day of his discharge from the hospital for gunshot wounds.  Somehow he managed to drive a car for eight hours with a still healing gunshot wound to his hip."

The base commander shook his head quickly.  "I did some research on him.  With what I found out, I'd say he'd make him pay that pain back."

"Possibly.  He nearly stabbed Roque when he snuck in to rescue him."  He grinned.  "You didn't call for a mission, sir.  Was there one we missed?"

"No.  That uprising was taken care of when we heard why.  Though we agree with the demons' reasons.  So we fixed that too."  He stared at him.  "I want to know more about LA's upcoming issue.  I heard rumors."

"We're still figuring things out and trying to stop them.  Xander did say that he had ended one of the members that was trying the invasion."

"Invasion?  I heard a law firm was going to summon something huge to take down LA."

"Black Thorn is planning on opening a portal from another demon dimension so they can kill us all."

"Huh," the base commander said.  "Does anyone else know that out there?"

"Yeah.  Harris has FBI contacts who hate him having weapons."

"Good!"  He smirked.  "Is he local?  Or did your second-in-command escort him home?"

"He's resting on Captain Roque's bed at the moment.  Roque fed him a painkiller he had available in the motel room and he drifted off again."

"Even better.  You might call out there."

"I'm sure Jensen has."

"Good."  He stared at him.  "You five are a good team, Colonel.  Though it seems you've gotten a bit ...nicer over the years."

"Take that back, sir," Clay growled.  "I'm not nice, never have been nice, and I'll be damned if I'm going to be insulted that way."  The base commander laughed.  "We still kick ass and kill very hard for the Army."

"I know you do, Colonel, but someone NSA thought you might want to switch to a different sort of team?"


"I don't know but I believe they had Harris' file too."

"If so they'd know not to go near him.  He has a pathological hatred of NSA agents after that one group they sponsored sank his hometown.  Who knows what those torturing sickos would've done."

"I hadn't heard rumors about that."

"A mixed group but mostly Army, called the Initiative."  The base commander looked that up and grimaced at what little information wasn't fully classified.  What little he saw showed that the classified parts were probably stomach-turning.  "They summoned or had something summon a very high demon, who got offended at the way they were torturing the lesser species.  So he sank the town."

"Oh, dear."  He went back to reading.  "Huh."  He looked up.  "That I've heard rumors about too.  It was noted he took you vampire hunting."

"Over seven hundred out of more than three thousand.  All in those nifty underground highways the original bad guy in that town had built to win him friends and allies."

The base commander shuddered.  "Sounds like a smuggler's dream."

"There's an underground condo complex," Clay told him.  The base commander whimpered.  "Never been to Sunnydale, sir?"

"No, my mother's people would be driven insane by the power there."

"I nearly scratched for two days."  Clay ran a hand over his hair.  "Sir, do we have to switch?"

"No.  Someone higher up thinks it'd do you good though."

Clay shook his head.  "If we want to quit going to the ends of the earth into situations that remind us of looking under Satan's tail, we'll go private security, sir."

The base commander smirked.  "You are due for a reup this year.  All of you are but Jensen.  He's got an extra two months.  He's due in February."

"I'll let them know that, sir.  Is this because of Bolivia?"

"I think it's because they think your second-in-command deserves some happiness, or Harris does."  He shrugged.  "Let me know, Colonel.  I have paperwork I need to pass to the officer over that."

"Yes, sir."  He saluted and left, going back to the house with a quick stop for some minor groceries.  Even if Jolene had picked some stuff up he doubted she got soda for Xander's habit.  He walked in and found Jolene and Pooch kissing.  The baby was staring from the recliner Roque usually sat in.  "Hey, baby Pooch."  He patted him on the head, picking up Jolene and moving he out of the way.  "I can't get by you and I have ice cream."  She swatted him and went back to kissing Pooch.  "You should see the ring."  He went to put things up.  Jensen and Cougar were in the kitchen playing cards.  "Jolene's here."

"The baby squealed when he saw his daddy," Jensen said with a grin.  Cougar grinned.  "Ice cream?"

"For later.  Base commander wanted us to have a team talk too."

"Roque, team talk," Jensen shouted.

"Let him sleep," Clay ordered.  He went back to the living room.  Pooch had his wife and son both in his lap.  Roque came down scowling.  "I got him ice cream."

"He'll hug you later.  What's the topic of the meeting?  Mission?"

"Two topics.  Someone NSA wants us to switch what type of team we are.  They also thought we were becoming nice.  No reason given but the base commander thinks it may be a 'playing nice with the team out there' thing or maybe not.  He's not certain.  Second, everyone but Jensen reups this year.  Jensen, you're due in February."

Roque nodded, walking off.  "Hell no and I'll consider that."  He went back up to sleep.  He was exhausted.  He hadn't slept on the way up.

Jolene looked at Pooch, who shrugged.  "I don't know, baby."

"All right.  We'll talk and the team'll talk to make that decision."  Clay nodded.

Cougar shrugged.  "Nothing better to do right now and hell no."  He walked off.

"No peeking at my cards, Cougs," Jensen complained, hopping after him.  "I'll consider it and hell no I'm not going to work for the NSA.  I've turned them down every six months for the past eight years."

Clay smirked at Jensen's back because he had figured someone tried but didn't know for sure.

"I agree on the no, I'm army or we'll go private security.  I don't want to be NSA," Pooch said.  "Otherwise, make a decision and I'll consider things."  Clay nodded, going to his own room.  "We should get the box so Roque can quit staring at it and being pissed off," he said more quietly.

"Jolene should see it," Clay agreed, going to take it and show her.

She cooed.  "That's beautiful but 'spensive," she said in awe.

"More than 'spensive," Pooch agreed.  "Jensen said there wasn't anything like it in the store when you went fantasy shopping."

"I don't remember any colored diamonds outside a few yellow ones."  She looked at him. "He blew a wad.  Is Xander all right?  Does he need a shoulder?"

"Wade said he wasn't going to touch him until after the wedding."  She shuddered.  "So he's still good."  He hugged her.  "Thank you for thinking about him."  She kissed him.  The baby let out a squeal, scowling at them.  "Is it your turn?" he teased, smiling at his son.  He kissed him on the forehead, cuddling him too.  The baby tried to latch on so Jolene had to shift to feed him.  Pooch watched.  "I don't ever think I can see enough of that."

"I can," Clay said, hurrying off.

Roque came down to get the ring box, walking off shaking his head.  "I thought it was only hippie chicks that whipped out a tit and slid a little sucker to it in public," he complained.  He went back upstairs.

"You can put it in the gun safe," Pooch called.  "That way you're not staring at it."

"I'm going to put it into mine."  He closed his bedroom door firmly and locked it.

Pooch kissed her on the cheek.  "He's so jealous."  She smirked and nodded.  The baby belched and took a few pants before diving back in again.  Pooch patted him on the back, making him a happy baby.


Xander made it home and found someone waiting.  He stared at them.  "What?"  Granger gave him an odd look.  "Tired, sore.  What?"


"Fuck if I know?"  He gave him a confused look.  "Blonde lady named Buffy?"

"She's coming over.  We're holding the meeting in your house."

He nodded, unlocking the door and opening it.  "Damn, that stinks."  He opened a few windows and checked.  It wasn't the fridge.  Or the trash.  He went downstairs and called the neighbor on the way up.  "Peter, Xander Harris, the guy on your right.  Are you missing a lawn goat?  Because I just got back from my trip and found it dead behind the house and rotting.  Yeah, little brown and white goat.  The one that liked to come try to get into my garage.  No, I don't think it bashed its head in.  Though I can't tell from the decomp.  Well, I'd suggest a shovel and a garbage bag maybe?  Maybe drop them at the vet's if you want to have it cremated or buried?"  He hung up and found the air freshener.  Jensen hopped in.  Xander gave him a confused look.

"I can't go into the field for another five weeks," he said dryly.  "They're making due with some lesser geek."  He sat down.  "What died?"


Jensen just nodded, shuddering some.  He sprayed some more.  Then he flopped down and stretched out with a sigh of pleasure.

Granger looked at him.  "Stitches nearly out?"

"Another week," Jensen said.  Granger nodded.  Someone knocked.  "Who is it?"

Buffy walked in.  "Making sure someone was here."  She looked at Xander, who was now asleep.  "Awww."  She flopped down next to Jensen.  "Are you the team's appointed placeholder and note taker?"

"Today."  He pointed at his foot.  "Can't go roaming around dealing with bad guys with that."

"Poor baby."  She patted him on the arm.  "You'll be okay soon.  Just like Xander will.  What's that stink?"

"Dead goat."

"Eww."  She went to look and found a garbage bag and a shovel.  It got cleaned up and put on the side yard next to that neighbor's yard.  Then she went inside to wash her hands.  She sat down again.  Gunn came in from his check-in.  "Okay."  She reached over and nudged Xander's foot, waking him.  "I talked to the bar.  They're missing two people but it's not enough."  Xander grimaced.  "We think they found someone for their sacrifice but they still want one of us, particularly you because of the hellmount taint stuff."  Xander nodded once.  "Backup is Willow, then Fred."

"I'd kill them all," Xander said.

"I know.  So would Willow.  We'd all kill them over Fred."  She looked at the agent and Jensen again.  "It'll happen."  Granger groaned, nodding and leaning forward.  "No one knows an exact date but we have a good idea of month."

"That'll help."  Granger looked at Jensen.

"No idea if we'll be in the US.  That can change within hours."

"I remember," Granger admitted.  He looked at Buffy.  "Which month?"

"May.  They were thinking middle but not perfectly sure."

He nodded.  "That gives us three months."  He looked at Xander, who was asleep again.  "Long flight?"

"The only flight with an opening for him was non-stop so he took a pretty good painkiller," Jensen said quietly.

"What's the priority that we need to gather things for?" Colby Granger asked Buffy.

"Drop the portal.  That'll keep them from adding more.  As for their type, bullets will work but it's iffy if we don't hit them in the single five inches."  Colby winced.

"What about magnesium rounds?" Jensen asked.  "They'd set them on fire from the inside."

"I've never seen those used," Buffy admitted.  She looked at the notes she had.  "From Wes."  She looked it over.  "He doesn't say that they're impervious to fire."  She shifted and it woke Xander up.  "Magnesium flares?"

Xander called.  "Magnesium flare rounds, Wes?" he asked.  He listened to him ask someone at the club.  "You're sure?"  He winced.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "Blow the heads clean off.  So large caliber to blow the brain out or do it with swords."

She huffed.  "That's going to be a lot of beheading.  Worse than the zombie thing last year."

Xander grinned.  "I heard about that and you wanting my axe."

"Yeah, it's got a better grip than my sword did.  A hundred zombies," Buffy told the two guys.

"How big is this portal going to be?" Jensen asked.  "Are we talking as big as the sewer system we hunted in?  And how big are the demons coming?"

Xander smirked.  "They're about five feet tall and have you seen that show _Stargate_?"  Jensen nodded once.  "That size at the least probably.  It'll have to have a hard boundary to help steady it or it'll kill whoever's casting it."

"So, like in that book with the white horses," Buffy said.  Jensen moaned, slumping down in his seat.  Xander nodded.  "So we're going to have a full army."

"We can blow something into them to stem the tide and hopefully the portal will snap shut."

"What will shut it?" Colby asked.

"Neither of us is great in things like that," Xander said.  "Ask Agent Grumpy's brother."

"He'd need references."

"Giles has three," Buffy said happily.  "And if you need to expose him to magic and demons, I'll take him to the demon club."

"Okay, I'll keep that in mind," he said.  He made his own notes, taking Buffy's to look over and copy off what they needed to know.  "Xander, how much stuff can we count on from wherever you're hiding things?"

"At least eight or nine things if we can use medium level instead of the upper levels."

Colby made that note with a nod.  "Where could they be putting this up?"

"They'd need a structure and Giles said there's very few places in LA that you could set up a portal this strong without interference.  LA apparently has a lot of areas that magic is wrong."

"It's spread from Sunnydale," Xander told her.  "Radiation spreads no matter what you do.  Between that, the original native protections out toward the old tribal lands, and all the holy areas from the damn missionaries there's only sections of Hollywood, two neighborhoods in Beverly Hills, and downtown by Wolfram and Hart's building."

"So I'm going to guess it's going to be near there," Colby said, making that now.  "Are you sure?"

"You can unholy the ground but it takes a lot of blood being spilled," Buffy said.  "I asked that part myself in case they were going to since they don't seem to care about bodies piling up."

Colby nodded, adding that at the bottom, then looking at the kids.  "Are they all going to be one type?"

"No," Xander said.

"Yes," Buffy said, looking at him.  He shook his head.  "Giles said it's probably going to a non-mixed one."

"That'd be great but there's no realm that's totally pure.  So we'll have at least a few different ones but most likely the beheading still rocks for them."

"Is there an easier way to behead?" Colby asked.

"Really large caliber shotgun," Jensen said.  "Blow it off."

"Otherwise, we all have a really good sharp and pointy collection," Xander offered dryly.  "Then Wes suggested we burn the bodies."

"Yeah, I think that's almost a given," Colby said.  "Anything we have planned so far?"

"How long would it take if you called the military as soon as they started to pour out?" Buffy asked.

"Somewhere between ten minutes by chopper for the primary guys to thirty or forty for backup troops," Jensen said.  "San Diego would take an hour on a good day unless they choppered them up.  Our base commander was told by Clay.  He asked about something he heard about Wolfram and Hart trying to take down LA by summoning something higher."

"He a partial one?" Xander asked.  Buffy nodded.  Xander gave her a confused look.


"Never mind."

"Buffy, switch with him so he can lay down," Jensen said.  "He can't stretch out there."  She nodded, getting up and helping Xander up so he could lay on the couch.  Xander stretched out.  Jensen rubbed Xander's ankles, getting a grin.

Buffy smiled.  "It's good he has guy friends again.  We clearly warped Xander way too much back in high school.  He could name tampon brands."

"I could do more than name them thanks to you two," Xander said dryly.  "I could identify them by wrapper and in your back pocket."  She swatted him with the notes. He smirked at her.  "Plus I found out *way* too much about boob weight gain, hair issues, and shoes."

"Too bad you can't match clothes," she quipped back with an evil smirk.

"Black, goes with everything," he said dryly.  "As does gray and most shades of brown."

"Good point.  Clearly we had a good effect, even if you do wear ungodly shirts."  She stared at Jensen's.  "And it's spreading."

Jensen looked down then at her.  "I've had this shirt for five years."  She shook her head quickly.  "It's a geek thing, Buffy."

"That's probably why I'll never get it," she quipped.

Colby stood up.  "I'll let you guys tease and play.  Gunn, anything to add?"

"My guys are going to be trying to help but a lot of them will be guarding the shelter and things."

"Agreed.  That's important and they're vulnerable.  Thankfully I work in a building full of agents who can fire guns."  Gunn smirked at him so he left.  He went back to the office with a quick stop for really good coffee.  They'd all need the treat while they made plans.  Too bad Clay or Roque wasn't answering their phones.  He walked in with the tray.  "Break room," he ordered.  "And the boss if he's being read in."

"That bad?" Don asked.  "You got whipped cream."

"Worse.  I got chocolate sprinkles and real caramel in Megan's."  He walked in.  "Guys, we're talking about this spring's issue."  They fled.  "You'll be told later.  It's really horrible this year."  A few others showed up to listen.  Including the boss.  Colby put the papers on the projector screen, looking at them.  "May.  We don't have a definite day."

"Beheading?" Don asked, sipping his coffee.  He needed this.  It was keeping his stomach calm.  "What's the odds we're blowing this out of proportion?"

"If they manage it, we're screwed," Colby said.  "Anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for more than the agents and the local team.  Clay's team may or may not be in the US at all.  Also, we need to know how to bring down the portal.  Giles has references for Charlie and Buffy said she'd escort him to the club to show him things safely."

His boss raised his hand.  "We don't know where?"

"Few locations that're more likely.  Most likely is near their building.  Apparently there's some sort of interference that blocks most of the city.  Outside a few neighborhoods or the desert."

"What's the chance of them moving it?" Don asked.

"Zero.  Huge ass altar according to Gunn last night.  They're all in and out of the city all the time.  We'd all *love* to stop them before they do it.  Three have died and it hasn't stopped them; Buffy had notes that the General that was a member died somewhere in Canada and two are missing, presumed dead.  They're going to try for one of three people for the main sacrifice but they apparently have a backup on hand just in case they can't do it.  If they can do that, Wesley said that they've got it made and it's baby steps from there.  They can do most of those anywhere and it'll still happen here."  He smiled.  "Which is why I got the good stuff for this talk."

Megan nodded.  "Thank you, I needed it."  She took a drink and pushed her hair back over her shoulder.  "Any idea when in May?"

"They think middle of the month, can't be certain.  No one's sure."

"So, we'll be on guard during May, slip some news to the local bases," Don said, looking at their boss.

"One positive.  The base commander at Fort Bragg asked Clay because he heard something was going to happen.  So they know some."

"So there's probably higher ups who know," Don said.  "Good.  So we need to know how to take the portal down as quickly as possible."  Colby nodded.  "Can it be destroyed?"

"I'm told it has to have a solid barrier or it's too hard to hold steady for long enough.  If I had to guess, I'd say if we break the sucker, it dies faster but I'm not sure."

One of the other agents raised his hand.  "Like a magical gate sort of portal?"

"Yeah, from what they said it sounded like the one in that Lackey series."

"Weapons?" Don asked.

"Xander said he has eight or nine bigger but not totally huge things.  We do have those things that we made him put into our storage that we then pissed him off by not letting him have when he needed it.  Plus the rest of that vault."

"Beheading?" Megan asked.

"As Harris put it, sharp and pointy collection or really large caliber shotgun was Jensen's idea."  She nodded.   "Also, some of Gunn's people are going to be guarding the shelter and the things that they protect."

"Agreed," their boss said.  "I'd rather the professionals do it instead of a demon hunting and protecting street gang."

"We have a whole building full of people who can fire guns," Colby said dryly.  "We have bases nearby.  If we have to, we can bomb the building if that's what it takes.  An airstrike, whatever.  Harris suggested we start by blowing something into the portal to try to stem the tide.  He said they're about five feet tall.  The smallest the portal will be is about eight feet high probably.  Maybe a bit shorter.  He compared it to that show _Stargate_."

One of the extra agents looked up from his note taking.  "If I see an Asgard around Harris, I'd probably only walk off shaking my head.  Clearly the strange loves that boy."  The others all nodded.  "Can we get more however he does or go kill a few more arms dealers?"  Don Epps looked at him.  "That first one?  He had to kill one of them with a large bounty on his head to get what he used.  But the guy had been pissing him off all week anyway."  He went back to his notes.  "Are we talking the sort of shotguns that shoot gas canisters or something slightly smaller?"

"I'm going to say as big as we can get them," Colby said.  "Just to make sure the head comes off."  They all nodded.  "Also, burning at the end," he told the boss.

"Of course.  I don't want to know what germs they might carry.  We'll arrange to have the sanitation guys gather the parts to a central location so the fire department can burn them for us."  He made the note to arrange that.  "Do we think City Hall knows?"

Granger grinned at him.  "Before he got shot, last time that team was all in on leave, two officers asked him to handle a pair screwing on the steps of city hall.  The two officers turned out to be one turned one with a plot and his partner, who claimed he was in thrall.  Apparently the mayor told them to go away."

"So he knows about demons," the regional boss decided.  "Good."

"Wolfram and Hart loves him.  They contributed a lot to his last campaign," Don told him.  He turned to look back at him.  "Plus the last judicial campaign they contributed large to six of them and minorly to three others, one of which they seem to hate now."

"On the subject of the evil law firm," Megan said dryly, standing up to look at the agents.  She smirked meanly.  "Someone nicely mailed my team tapes of them sacrificing some people."  The agents all smirked.  "Including three on a jury that their lawyer was handling.  We've put them in for a warrant and the judge told us not to bother, they'd have it slide off them and kill the lawyer responsible.  We pointed out that they had killed some judges as well and he snorted, telling us that's how some judges finally got to move up the ladder and some prosecutors got to be judges.  So we've turned him in.  We've turned the evidence to the higher lawyers to handle.  They're now pissed and seeing how deep the corruption goes in DC."

Don snorted.  "Half?"

"So far, six.  Including one of our state senators.  So, if you know someone who wants to run for public office...."  The guys all laughed and left.  She looked at her team.  "How hard is it to get those sort of guns from the ATF?"

"That would depend on them realizing it and understanding," Don admitted. "The local ones are brass monkeys."

"The DC office?" David asked.

"No clue," Don admitted.  "I've been casually mentioning things."  Buffy strolled in.  "Huge problems?"

"I have to go back to Sunnydale to handle things.  A lot of things."  Don shuddered.  "Yup, and I have almost no backup."  She smiled.  "Know anyone who wants to take a trip?"

The team stared at each other.  "We need to get the local ATF out of their blindness."

"No.  No going to Sunnydale for that, guys.  That's way too dangerous.  If Clay's team nearly died a few times, and they had to evacuate Roque while Xander was holding onto a vein to keep it closed, no.  Around town, yes."

"Xander's in no shape," Colby said, considering it.  "Gunn's crew?"

"Maybe some but not all.  They're mad that slayers exist and there wasn't one in their face before."

"Hmm," Don said dryly.

"Also, the Council wants me somewhere in Central America for the next month.  I've pointed out I have to reduce the huge ass threat.  They said the huge demon down there is a problem.  I told them to call Clay.  They didn't like that answer, especially the part where I'm pulling in more people that shouldn't be part of this war according to them.  So I told them to get Faith out of jail.  They hated that one even more."  She sighed.  "And I know if I go, Xander's going to get up off the couch, grab some weapons, and go handle things."  Colby nodded with a smirk.  "Which he's too injured to do."

"Yup," Colby agreed.  "Why can't they handle a single big demon?"

"Because some of them are wooses.  They fight worse than a teenage Xander did."  Don snickered.  "Seriously!"  She pouted.  "So I need to either be in two places at once or I need to get some backup for Xander going up there."

"When do you have to go?" Don asked.

"Tonight.  But I need to hit Sunnydale within a few days and that's going to be a sucky long trek through the jungle to find the thing."

"Go ask and see if that one's really a problem," Megan told her.  She beamed at her for that suggestion and bounced out.  "Think the ATF guys could handle it?"

Don shook his head.  "No.  Last time, the group got over seven hundred of them."  She moaned and curled inward some.  "Plus the ones Edgerton got... " He snapped his fingers and called her, walking off.  He conferenced in Ian when she said that the demon could be shot with special rounds.  Ian was busy for the moment but agreed he could go once he got the dirtbag he was presently hunting in the mountains.  Buffy offered to help but he said he'd get him tonight.  Buffy conferenced in Giles, who told him about the demon, and it was dangerous, and Buffy told him the plan.  He agreed that'd work.  That plus a lot of ATF agents going to Sunnydale....  Yeah, that'd help and with the apocalypse coming up.

They hoped.


Xander walked into the demon bar and up to someone.  "We're going up tomorrow."  She smiled at him.  "You know the drill."

"I do.  Is that team back?"

"No but the ATF here in town needs to get a wakeup smack."  He smirked.  "The FBI said so."  She whimpered, shaking her head.  "So we'll be using flare rounds.  That means anything, and they'll probably be jumpy down there, can get caught."

"I can agree with that.  We'll let the non-vampires know to hide."  She patted him on the hand.  "If not, there's about ten large nests."

"I need maps, that's the other reason I showed up today."

"Boy, you're injured," she said dryly.

He stared at her.  "And?"  He shrugged.  "I'm able to walk.  I'll be in pain later on that night but it'll go."  He looked at her.  "Same as always."  She sighed but got him what he needed.   He scratched her ear, earning a smirk and a swat, before he left.


Xander, who was on a very nice painkiller patch that was time released so he didn't get too goofy or out of his mind, unrolled the maps.  He pointed.  "See the red dots?  They're nests."  Buffy strolled over.  "Ten huge nests."  She moaned.  He pointed at the bonfire they were holding.  "I say we start there, free the hostages, then move."

Buffy looked through the binoculars.  "Yup, they've got at least ten hostages and one's my mother."  She handed it back and strapped on weapons.

"Wait on me," Xander ordered, handing one of the guys the map.  "Follow.  We'll be underground after this."  They followed, used to hostage things.  They were trained for this sort of situation.  Though the bonfire was very cult-like and they didn't usually have to deal with that in the LA office.  A few guys had though.

And then the vampires attacked.

Some in game face.

The ATF agents freaked out and started to shoot people.

"You shoot my mother and I'm going to kill your ass," Buffy ordered, moving ones' gun.  "I will make you wish for death while you're fucking that gun."

"Guys, regroup, only hit the vampires," Xander snapped.  He got a few more.  "If I can fucking do this with stitches, you can as agents."  They regrouped and moved in again.  It was freaky but bad.  Very, very bad.  One evacuated the hostages while the rest moved underground.  Two hung back to guide that one once the ambulance took the hostages.  They found more of them in the tunnels.

One tapped Xander, pointing.  "What's that?"

Xander looked then at him.  "A child with a parent who needs their ass kicked or a very high demon who took over a kid.  Take your pick."  He walked over and stared down at her.  "Shouldn't you be inside?  It's dangerous out here."

She gave him a pouty look.  "My mother's boyfriend is being mean and told me to wait out here."

"Show me where you live, dear.  Guys, I'll catch up."

"But..." the head ATF guy said, looking panicky at Buffy's back.

"Dude, I grew up in Sunnydale.  I was born here.  I did some of this in high school."  They all whimpered.  "I'll catch up."  They nodded.

"Be safe, Xander.  Remember your leg."

"I am.  Quit nagging, woman."  She smirked and led them to a nest.  He smiled at the kid.  "Where do you live?"  She pointed.  Xander walked her home.  He put her aside then kicked in the door.  "I'll be goddess damned if you leave a child out there when we're hunting!" he shouted.  The male demon jumped up and looked scared, backing away, babbling.  The mother was crying.  He pointed.  "Go hug your mother.  Ma'am, with all due respect, not even some of my ex's would've found him worthy of wiping their shoes on.  Cordelia would've skinned him for new boots.  You can do better."  The mother hugged her daughter and sniffled.  "The only one?"  She shook her head.  "How old?"

"Nine," she said quietly.  "I think they've already gotten him."  She looked up.  "Knight.  You're hunting?"  Xander nodded.  "The slayer?"

"And some ATF guys we're training.  Which vamps got him?"

"The one by Sunny Rest.  I heard Borkin and he's the main vamp there."

Xander nodded.  "Kick the loose ass out.  You need better."  She smiled.  He left.  "Have him fix the door too since he's an idiot and an asshole."  He went to scope that nest.  Yup, they had the kid.  They had a bunch of kids and he couldn't use holy water because half of them could be killed by it.  Xander checked his load and concentrated.  He knew they could smell human blood.  They were all sniffing.  So he kindly stepped in and shot them with flare rounds.  He did wing one but it went into the wall instead.  That left about seven vamps and some coming up the pipeline.  Xander stared at them.  "Let the kids go and I won't call the slayer here."

"She's weak," he sneered.  "There's two now."

"There has been since we were in tenth grade when I did CPR.  Now, let the kids go."  He threw a holy water grenade back, and winced at one kid screaming.  He tossed some powder on him to sop that up, calming him down.  "I'm sorry."  The little boy sniffled, hugging the back of Xander's leg.  He stared at them.  "You can let the kids go or I can end you here.  The screams mean that the slayer is coming."  The vampires started to look nervous.

"I can easily gas you all and let the parents come get the kids.  I can stake you while you're all down.  I have sleeping gas that will not hurt them."  A vampire screamed and rushed so Xander shifted and staked him, letting the kid hide behind him.  The vamps tried to rush, all but one.  Xander got most of them, got a few bites, and then got backhanded into a wall.  So he came off it and let loose with the hyena, who had some fun.  That last one was sobbing.  Xander shot him.  He went up.

"All right, let's drop you kids off at home or somewhere safe."  They nodded.  Xander led them off.  That little one had parents looking for him.  "Yo, Momma Cursava."  She looked and ran over.  "I had to holy water the vampires who had him but I put on some neutralizing dust," he said quietly.  "He's okay but he's fairly traumatized."  She nodded, hugging her boy.  "You guys should've heard to stay inside tonight."

"We were but they broke into our clan's housing area."

He nodded.  "I understand.  He's a bit dinged and probably a bit traumatized since I handled the menace in front of them."  She nodded quickly.  "Let's get them home?  Can you help?"

"Yes.  Even if one's a mortal enemy of my clan I wouldn't see any child injured."  They got them to a central, protected location, spotting the slayer and the agents.  "They are not the ones from last time."

"No, they're ATF agents being broken in for the spring apocalypse."

"We've heard."

Xander smiled.  "Stay up here that day.  Stay safe.  And if you know what day it is, let us know.  Buffy's usually at the Hyperion or Wesley or Cordelia or Gunn or Fred will take the call."  She nodded.  Buffy stared, mouth slightly open.  "Nest by Sunny Rest."

"Ummmm."  He waved the gun.  "Oh, okay.  I see dust so you holy water grenaded some?"

"Yeah, they were coming up to reinforce and had him."  He smiled at one.  "Your mother is worried sick and she's dumping her boyfriend."  The other mother snorted.  "He made the kids stand outside.  He's going to be in deep shit when I grab him."  He walked the little one off.  "Give me thirty, Buffster."

"Yup."  She helped the mother get the kids safely inside and made sure the door would stand.  "Xander's kind of in pain," she explained with a smile.  "About three weeks ago, he got shot where he was working in a bar."

"We heard.  He's still in pain?"

"Oh, yeah.  It was an unholy mess."

"Poor thing."  The agents stepped in to help and guarded them while parents showed up.  One vamp showed up in gameface.

Buffy looked.  "You can't have kids."

"My girlfriend has two, slayer."  Xander came back dragging a demon.  The vampire stared.  "Can I have him?  I need a snack."

"He's got a kid," Buffy said when he raised his gun.  "We'll let the kid decide."  The girl tugged on her shirt so she looked.  "Is he your stepdaddy?"

"Mommy's nibbling boyfriend," she said.  She was fully human.

Xander pointed.  "Take her with the vamp to make sure they get home safely."  The agent he had pointed at escorted them off.  Xander hauled the demon up in front of Buffy.  "He was trying to kill his girlfriend for daring to care about her kids."

"If we had prisons," she sighed.  She stared at him.  "She good?"

"Bruised badly.  I let one of the healers in and told him about this."  Buffy nodded.  "She wanted him killed and said to please hand this girlfriend abuser to you."

Buffy nodded and stabbed him, making him moan and clutch the wound.  "He's bait.  I'll be damned if I'm going to let any demon hurt any kid.  Or abuse their girlfriend.  I have Willow level of girl anger now, mister."  The demon tried to run but Xander carted him off.  She looked at the staring agents.  "There's no prison.  If we left him, he'd kill her, her kids, and then go on to do it again.  Or she'd kill him.  Or pay a vamp to eat him.  This way at least he's useful."

"Hunting's got loose ethics," Xander told them.  "We know vampires used to be people.  The used to be people now eat others.  That's why it's called hunting."  They all nodded.  "If you guys want to arrest him...."  They all shook their heads.  "Good, then he's bait."   He shoved the demon into the next nest's pipe and they came out to investigate, giving the team ample time to shoot them.  And one got the demon too.

Buffy stared.  "Over too soon since he stuck his girlfriend's kids out to be eaten or hurt."  She walked over him.  They went to finish the nest.  Xander found something pretty hanging up and took it but she just rolled her eyes.  "Your boy won't like that.  It's too fancy."

"I was thinking it's cursed since it was glowing with its own light.  I was going to have Wes or Giles disarm it."

"Good idea.  We can come back to get that stuff for them to disarm."  They kept going.  By dawn, they were covered in dust, bites, scratches, various types of blood, and ichor.   They had packed up all the magical things for Giles to handle with Willow or Wesley.  They were tired, sore, Xander could barely stand, and it was a long day ahead of them with a three hour drive back to LA.  Buffy looked at Giles when he showed up.  "Your crates."

"Thank you, children."  He looked.  Xander held up the pendant and he gasped.  "That's a powerful Light artifact.  What were they doing with it?"

"Dangling from an overhead lamp," Buffy said dryly.

"That's not good.  They were probably using it to torture each other."  Xander was now on his hood, which was warm, on his stomach.  "Does your hip hurt, Xander?"

"Yup.  Your overly warm hood makes a great heating pad.  Thank you."

Buffy looked at the agents.  "Anyone up to driving?  I've been banned since I tend not to do it so good."

The lead ATF agent let out a snort.  "You can't drive?"

"I can drive.  I just pay attention to the sidewalks in case I run into harmful demons.  Literally."

"She also drifts lanes," Xander called, sounding tired.

"We'll drive," the head ATF agent decided.  They went for the vans and found Epps there with Granger.  He stared at Epps.  "They're nuts," he said once everyone had gotten in.  Xander in the cargo area so he could stretch out some.  "They're brutal, they have loose ethics about things, and this is going to drive them nuts."

Don nodded.  "For those who do it, it's a duty.  Like those officers who have a reason to join the force.  And Summers got tapped to do it mystically at fifteen."


"Yup.  This spring there's an invasion of little things that need beheaded."  Don smirked.

"We'll...  I guess we can shoot those?"

"We're pretty sure."

"Thank God.  You're driving."

"That's why we showed up, Philip.  We knew you guys wouldn't be able to.  Last time, Edgerton sniped from up there to get the ones in the open.  They took a commando team down, a Delta team, and got about seven hundred."

"Yeah, that's about our count tonight," he admitted.  He got in to ride back.  Granger and Epps got in to drive the two vans.  His was without the natives.  He looked back.  "Apocalypse this spring, guys.  That's why we know."

"May sometime we think," Don said.

"Yay," one said flatly.  "Can you drop me at a church, Epps?"

"I can drop you at the office so you can cab to one.  There's a nice church up the street and they do know about demons and hunters.  Harris refills his holy water stash there."  They all whimpered.  "The one with all the blue stained glass?  That one."  He turned onto the main road and sped up.  It was getting brighter and the agents were all relaxing slightly.  Though a few looked ready to cry.  Not that Don blamed them, he would too.  "The higher ups wanted a report," he said when he dropped them off.

"Yup, while we're in church."  They went to shower in the locker room and change, then head over there as a group.


Roque hung up on the call from a snitch in LA.  "I swear I'm going to beat my boy's ass," he decided, stomping off.

"What did he do?" Clay called.

"Went with Buffy to clean out the tunnels.  With some ATF agents."

"Jensen said he's still in a shitload of pain," Pooch said, looking confused.  "Is he suicidal?"

"No!" Roque snorted, glaring at him.  "That's like us finishing a mission while injured.  He had a time release painkiller patch and a lot of guns.  Saved some kids."

"Good," Clay said.  "At least he took precautions.  ATF?"

"Epps wanted them read in for this spring."

"Jensen said May, probably the middle," Clay told him.  Roque grimaced but nodded.  "And probably downtown."

"Oh, charming," Roque said dryly.  "All sorts of food for the biters who are too stupid to run."  He stomped off again muttering about his boy's stubborn and heroic tendencies that were going to get him dead.

"I'm sure he'd feel the same way about yours," Pooch called after him.  "Jolene does about mine."  He glanced at their temporary tech, then at Clay, who rolled his eyes.  "Four more weeks and Jensen gets his cast off."

"Yup, and then we need to make sure it's working and he won't need rehab," Clay quipped.  "So that could be another month."  Pooch huffed.

"Rumors state we'll be training," Cougar said quietly from where he was cleaning his gun.

Clay stared at him.  "What rumor was that and where are we training?"  Cougar smirked at him.  "Oh hell no I'm not taking a team full of green as fucking grass newbies onto one of our usually fucked up missions!" he shouted.

"Rangers," Cougar offered.

"Still hell no!  Or our own!"  Roque came back looking confused.  "Cougar heard we'll be team training."

"Fuck, I'll retire and go work for a private company," he muttered, shaking his head.

Pooch nodded.  "Yup, definitely."  Cougar shrugged.  They looked at Clay, who was still huffing.  "If so, maybe it'll be in May?  That way we can bring more?  Since Jensen mentioned how to blow off heads."

Roque grimaced.  "Hopefully it won't take swords or Xander's extra axe."  He rolled his eyes.

"What's going on then?" the tech guy asked.

"Something bad is planning something in LA," Clay told him.  "We've been working with the agents trying to stop it."

"Are the higher ups in the Army in the know, Colonel?  I can pass that to other hackers."

"Jensen has to those who already knew something about the threat, kid.  When we have very concrete details we'll be spreading it more openly."  The temporary tech nodded at that, going back to what he was doing.  This was going to be a really long mission and this tech was silent.  It was creepy after hearing Jensen babble for years on end.  Even Cougar didn't really like the kid.  He was *okay* but he wasn't great.  He could do what was necessary, barely, and met qualifications.  That was probably the nicest thing they'd ever say about a temp tech support guy.


During May, everyone got more and more uptight.  By the last day of the month, someone was seriously going to break out in a party at midnight on June 1st.  Of course, they'd have a hangover the next morning when it was reported they were starting.  Xander had conveniently found a coffeeshop just near Wolfram and Hart's building to visit and read in every day in May.  He came out with his new mocha latte and paused, gulping it as he speed dialed.  He'd need the calories later.

"They decided June was a beautiful day to start a new world order," he said in greeting, running for his car.  They were already running behind.  The others were gathering and Xander saw the normals actually react and flee.  Which he appreciated a lot.  It was nice some people in LA had sense, though they clearly didn't drive since none of the drivers had sense on the highways.  He grabbed shotgun, shells, and his axe just in case.  He could carry it on his back.  He loaded his pocket with more shells and closed the trunk, heading forward.


Granger hung up and stood up.  "It's now."  They grabbed the prepared kits and headed out.  They were only a few blocks from Wolfram and Hart and demons were already by them.  It was a really bad sign.


Roque hung up and growled.  "It's now."

Willow appeared.  "Let's get there, people."  They grabbed the supplies they had packed, and the new team's supplies, because they were looking confused, and took them with her.

"Guys, the heads come off," Clay ordered, heading to help.  "Shit fucking hell," he said in awe, staring at all the demons.  "Roque, get the damn portal down."  He nodded, moving forward.  "Jump in, Greenies."  They ran forward to help while Clay called contacts.  Jensen had given him that neat bluetooth thing so he could fire and talk at the same time.  "It's Colonel Clay.  I'm in LA and it's now," he said firmly.  He took another shot.  "Close to two hundred by estimates at the moment and it just started, General."  He hung up and they moved forward.  Jensen was cackling about something.  "Jensen, head in the game!" he shouted.

"They need to burn anyway and the magnesium flare rounds do work," he called back.

"Good!"  They kept going, moving toward the building.  Willow was getting others to help.


Willow popped into Traver's office.  "Hi, we have a small emergency," she said dryly.  "There's a demon invasion right now in LA."  She turned on the news station on the tv in his office.  She had connected with them while she was in college over a few of their people needing witches to do bad things.  So she had bound them and brought them to Travers.  "Can Buffy borrow some people?"

He stared then started to call around.  "Beheading," he told them over and over.

"We're using shotguns to blow their heads off," Willow said cheerfully.  "Then we'll burn the suckers.  And look, ATF and FBI are helping.  So you won't have to do the coverup."  People ran in and she brought them back.  They ran forward and she went to help Buffy.  She couldn't use a gun and hated the things but she could sure throw fireballs.


Xander ran out of ammo and growled, shrugging and pulling out his battle axe.  The gun went into the back quiver he had for it.  It was awkward but he could handle it.  He moved forward.

Buffy looked over.  "You brought your axe?"

"I ran out of bullets."

"Oh.  Cool.  Did you bring another sword?  I'm about dry too."

He tossed over his keys and pointed.  "We haven't gotten much past it yet."  She ran to get one and came back.  "Someone slam my trunk shut," he called.  One of them did that after handing out swords.  "I want those back.  They're expensive."  He growled and got another one, moving forward.  And they kept going.  "C'mon, someone bomb the damn building!" he shouted.  He looked around to check on people between hits, staring at one.  "Huh," he said, blinking a few times.  He shook his head and decided he needed to move forward.  "Buff?"  She looked over and he nodded.

She looked and huffed then they moved forward.  "It's nice your stalker's being handy," she quipped tiredly.

"Yup."  They heard a jet scream in and Clay was calling frantically to Roque but Xander could only breathe right now.  He'd puke later.  He knew things wouldn't last because of the demons.  Hell, either one could've been shot again on the job and this time not made it.  He was mentally praying that Roque made it out in time but he wasn't holding out hope because that's the way his life went.  The jet shot something at the building, which made it explode and the demons stop coming.  They moved to clean up the remaining mess.  Xander and she even went after the ones that had split off the main group.  That way he could get away from Wade.

Roque found his team and the greenies staring at the mess.  There were a few left.  Cougar shot most of them while the greenies stared in horror.  "Welcome to LA," Roque said dryly.  "Bad shit happens here every spring.  You should see Sunnydale."  He looked at Clay.  "Where's my bitch?"

"He went with Buffy to track some of the last ones.  Because he wasn't sure how someone knew the date and time."  Clay pointed.  Roque turned and looked, then pulled out a knife and headed that way.

"Should we stop him?" Pooch asked.

"Hell no. I think it's fitting Wade decided to give up his misbegotten life by sacrificing it for a demon apocalypse."  They walked off.  "C'mon, kids.  There's ones hiding and lurking who'll cause more damage for weeks."

"Belay that," Epps shouted.  "The military sealed off this area within ten minutes.  There's only ten that got past them and they shot them.  They're moving in to do a building-by-building, Colonel."  Clay nodded at that, taking his trainee team to the higher ups for orders.  He looked at the complaining people.  All of which sounded British.  "How did you guys know?" he asked more politely.  His boss probably didn't want a call from the British consulate and he didn't want to deal with diplomatic crap today.

"Miss Rosenburg brought us."

Willow looked at them.  "It'll take me a day to rebuild enough energy to bring you guys home," she said.  "Sorry."

"We expected to fly back," the team leader assured her.  "Nice work however, even if you are butting in."  He walked off.  "We'll be at a motel and then fly home, Agent whoever."

Don rolled his eyes.  Willow grinned.  "They're the ones who train girls like Buffy.  Aren't you glad Giles is sane?"

"Most of the time, yes.  Was he here?"

"I couldn't get him from Thailand."

"Damn.  Summers and Harris?"

"Faded to finish them off?" she guessed, looking around.  "Isn't that the guy who kidnaped Xander?" she asked with a point.  "I hacked to find out what he looked like.  The rest was uber sealed."

Don Epps stared then nodded.  "And his boyfriend."  He whistled, getting Megan's attention.  She looked where he pointed and shuddered, shaking her head.

"I'm too tired to pull those two apart," Colby admitted.  David nodded he agreed.

Willow walked over, staring at him.  "If you want Xander that much, you have to get past all of us," she told Wade bluntly.  "Because if you're not good enough for him, we'd kill you, even if you were asleep."  She smiled and manifested a small fireball.  About all she could do at the moment.  "Have you even dated my Xander shaped friend?"  Wade was laughing, shaking his head.

Roque looked at her.  "Go sit down, Rosenburg.  This is guy work."

She snorted.  "There's no such thing except sitting on the couch watching sports with a beer.  That's why the Goddess created women."  She glared at Wade.  "Remember, I can have fun destroying you."  She walked off.

Epps walked over.  "Thank you for your help," he told Wade.  "Now please get the hell out of my city."  Wade burst out in new cackles.  "I can have the boy kill you," he offered.

Roque snorted.  "Hell no, that's my fun."  He attacked and Wade fought back.  They had been taught to fight while tired.

Buffy got escorted out by two of the military guys.  "Xander said stop it before he shoots you both," she called.  "And I mean now."  They didn't so she threw the stakes she had hidden on her.  They both yelped.  "Military people are cleaning up things, Roque, and wanted reports from you as well."  She looked at Wade.  "I don't care what sort of hard-on you have for Xander."  She gave her best glare.

"Anyone who would leave him shot on a floor of a bar doesn't deserve him and we girls who are his friends would have to take you out."  She smirked.  "Faith said prison's really nice and I could have a vacation if I join her for killing you."  He walked off snickering.  She rolled her eyes.  Roque was still snarling.  "Down, puppy.  Now.  Military guys are trying to get Xander to join up."

Roque stomped off.  "Where?"  She pointed.  "Is he injured?"

She snorted.  "Aren't we all?"  She looked at Epps.  "They insist it's their job."

"Let me talk to them."  He followed her that way.  "Guys, it's her job."  They al stared.  "It's her appointed job to deal with these things.  Harris helps her with it.  So does Rosenburg.  So let them go if you have them so they can fade, like usual.  It happens every spring, this year was just really bad."  The military commander was spluttering.

"Yeah, two years ago Xander had to blow up a nuclear bomb," Buffy said with a shrug.  "Last year it was a huge demon.  This year we couldn't really use artillery."  She smiled. "So let my people free, to blatantly steal a line."

"You could do good work in the military," the commander said.

"No, thanks anyway.  My mother hates that I have *this* job.  She'd hate me being in more danger more.  Beyond that, there's a whole group in England that'd kill you if you tried."  She took his assault rifle and bent the barrel, smiling as she handed it back.  "They'd better already be heading home."

"Actually, they argued about our medics patching them up."

"Yeah, we don't really like most of the military since a secret project that was military sank our town."  He shuddered.  "Though we like Colonel Clay a lot.  He's really hot and really good at what he does."  She smiled.  "We have plans all set up.  Have since we started to hear rumors about this."  Don nodded.  "We go to FBI man here and he makes them while Xander makes our battle plans."  That colonel shuddered.  "So, want us to finish the house-by-house?"

"No, ma'am, we're doing that," he assured her.  "The president said so."

"Okay.  Have funsies.  Watch out for vamps.  There's some in this area.  Most are stakeable but not all.  Beheading works on anything though.  Also, there's some homeless people in this area.  Please distinguish.  One of our people works with them a lot and his gang will show up.  Fair warning because they can be hard asses."

"Gunn's a good guy," Clay agreed as he walked over.  "Xander's pouting at the butterflies Cougar's doing."

"I usually let Xander and Giles do mine," she quipped.  She walked off with him.  "Is everyone all right?  Don, did we lose anyone?"

"Lots of injuries, one fell to a missed shot," Don admitted.  "But that was in his shoulder and he's all right."  She stared.  "One of the ATF guys."

"That's why I don't like guns as much.  It's easy to hurt others by accident."

"You can do it with a knife too," Clay reminded her.

"I know but at least that'd be in person and you can apologize.  Not from across a parking lot."

"Cougar can get them from nearly half a mile away," he said with a smirk.  "It's very useful on the job."

"I'm sure it is but I can't do that with demons.  They don't usually die that way."  She grinned.  "How long are you doing reports and who's going to order dinner?"

"We're ordering dinner," Pooch assured her.  "And then I'll brave my wife's temper to call her and the son."  Buffy patted him on the arm.  "Thanks.  Why don't you two head back to Xander's house?"

"Yup, we can do that.  Anyone coming with?" she called.  "We're going back to Xander's."

"Me," Xander called.

"Your car has four flat tires and a few claw marks on the trunk," Clay told him.

"I'll have it towed later," the head military guy said as he walked in.  "That black sedan?"  Xander held up his keys, getting a nod.  "Where to?"

"I use the garage on sixteenth and wherever.  Ask Gunn.  He's the bald black guy that's lurking.  His friend runs it."

"Okay."  He made that note as well.  "What if someone wants a debrief?" he asked Clay.  "The Joint Chiefs are swearing heavily."

"I got taught by Xander," Clay told him with a small shrug.  "We helped him weed down some of the problems in their town."  Buffy nodded they had helped.   "She's been doing it since fifteen and him sixteen."

"Damn," that guy muttered, making that note.  "Anyone they can debrief?"

"Rupert Giles," Buffy said with a smile.  "He's my Watcher.  Unfortunately he's in Thailand handling something."  She shrugged.  "Payback for not showing up to die with us," she quipped with a grin for Xander.  Who chuckled and nodded.  Then winced and tried to get away from Cougar.  "Quit being a baby, Xander.  It can't be worse than when you got shot at the bar."

"Yes it is!"  He plucked out the piece of claw, holding it up.

"Eww."  She walked off with Clay again.  "Do we have to watch for Wade?"

"I hope not.  We shouldn't."  She smiled and nodded, leading him somewhere more private.  Most of the guys caught a ride back with them and it was nice.  Pooch ordered dinner with Jensen.  Clay and Buffy got some stress relief to make them rest.  Roque was growling at Xander, who was ignoring the growl and getting a cuddle.  Pooch was avoiding his wife's phone calls.  Jensen wasn't answering his phone either since it was his sister, though he had sent an 'I'm okay' message to make sure she didn't worry.


Gunn showed up, handing Xander his keys.  "I drove it back.  Bobby said you owe him close to two hundred."

"I can do that."  He grinned.  "Thanks."

"Welcome, white boy."  He looked around.  "No trainees?"

"They went back to Fort Bragg."  Xander grinned.  "The whole team got recalled for some strange reason.  There wasn't even time for post-apocalypse stress relief."  Gunn laughed, shaking his head.  "Buffy's pouting hard though."

"Who was that guy your boy attacked?"

"Wade.  The guy that kidnaped me to Canada."

"The one that was going to marry you?" he asked dryly.


"Why did he show up?"

"I don't know but Roque got *so* pissed off when I got roses with a nice card saying I looked ultra hot with the sword and battle axe."  Gunn burst out cackling, shaking his head.  "I thought he was going to have a stroke his blood pressure went so high."

"That has to drive him nuts."

"Yeah, just a bit.  He has the ring too, put it in a lock box so Wade can't get it back.  It's pretty but I require wooing.  A lot of wooing.  Wade hasn't gotten his woo on and I don't touch others when I'm taken."

"Good!  Hate to think you were a trifling ho."  Gunn looked around then at him.  "You good?"

"I don't think I can drive and they emptied every scrap of food in the house.  Wanna drive me to go grocery shopping?"

"I can do that," he decided.  Xander got money.  "What happened to your check card?"

"Jensen said someone got into it so I'm cash only for a bit.  Beyond that, I have to find another job.  The boss at the club shut it down."  That got a nod and Gunn took him to the cheaper grocery place, earning a grin.  They shopped, and Gunn got stuff for Angel's crew to eat too.  Then he drove Xander home and cabbed back to the Hyperion.  Xander put things up and laid down again.  He was damn sore.  He hated apocalypse battles where you couldn't use artillery.  "I need to get back in shape.  I could do that a few years ago and be less sore."  He yawned.  "I'll start after a nap."


Jensen turned off the feed, staring at Roque, who was smirking at him.  "See, he's just fine."

"Fine."  He walked around the room they had been stuffed into for the debriefing.  He fully hated this.  The higher ups were giving them bad looks.  They might retire them or something.  Or even worse, send them to deal with demon threats all the time.  That would suck.

Clay came back from the debriefing looking worn out.  "That bad?"

"They wanted to know why we brought the trainee team with us.  I pointed out we were down people, they were Special Forces trained too, and they had to be able to handle a sudden battle.  Plus they were there.  I wasn't going to ignore an asset that way."

"They complained?" Pooch snorted.  "We were tougher when we went through."

"No, they didn't complain.  The trainers complained."  Clay grinned.  "The trainees looked at them and told them to suck them."  Roque cackled, nodding.  "They nominated them for Losers 2 and 3 teams."  He sat down and stretched.  "The Joint Chiefs are in and nagging.  They apparently found Rupert and called.  What they heard didn't make them happy.  They aren't happy that the main Council is British."

"Some of their Spec Ops people are good," Jensen pointed out.

"Yeah but the Council doesn't hire them," Roque said dryly.  "They're hereditary."

"They have some commandos on their retrieval and extraction teams but they're for getting girls that act up," Clay said.  "So they're talking with them about taking them over.  Because no one thought to stop press coverage."

Jensen shuddered.  "It's on youtube, Clay."

"Yup, they said that."

"Xander told Gunn about the roses," Pooch told him.  Roque was growling again.  Clay laughed, smirking at them.

"Buffy's already left for Albania for some reason.  Faith's had herself put in solitary to get away from people since some of the Council decided to visit.  She asked and one of the guys somehow managed to sneak in a vial of poison so they're protecting her," Jensen told them.

"It's going to suck when they get nationalized," Pooch said.  "They might make the researchers come out of the library."

"For some reason I keep seeing James Bond showing up with a stake," Jensen said, rubbing his forehead.

"Did you eat puffer fish again?" Pooch demanded.  "The was the last time you hallucinated."

"I had food poisoning from the other stuff, not the puffer fish, and no, I didn't.  I had the same stuff you guys did last night."

"I felt sick all morning because of all the shiny things in formal uniforms I got nagged by," Clay admitted.  "No clue if it was dinner or not."

"I'm fine," Cougar said.  "Wasn't the food."  Roque shook his head, trying the door subtly.  Still locked.

"They're making sure we stay around for questioning," Clay said dryly.  "It might take days."

"Then I'd be bringing in food," Jensen said dryly.  "Before I decide to sacrifice one of you and eat them."

Cougar looked at Jensen, then pulled out the holy water Wesley had gotten him to splash.  Jensen yelped.  "Possessed."

Roque sighed and came over to help hold Jensen down while Cougar did the exorcism.

One of the generals knocked then walked in, catching them doing it.  "Why are we torturing your teammate?" he asked, slamming the door.

"He's possessed," Clay said dryly.  "Cougar learned the exorcism rituals for our team."  Jensen growled and glowed then whimpered and went limp.  "If you sucked up an incubus or succubus, it goes too," Clay ordered firmly.  It mewed at him, trying to bat at him but Cougar got him free.  Clay sighed, looking at his problem-drawing tech boy.  "That's it.  We need to get him something to eat and rest."  He got up and looked at the General.  "We're done for the day, sir.  You can call us back tomorrow."

"We wanted a scan, Colonel."

"Sir, it's out of him and I'm told it doesn't show up on scans."  He wrote down a number.  "Wesley Wyndham-Pryce.  His father's high up in the asskisser portion of the Council."  He let the boys walk Jensen out to their shared ride.  They got Cougar more holy water from the base chapel and went home to make sure nothing else decided to take up root in Jensen's pointy brain.

The general called him, walking off to let the others hear about possessions.  That was very strange.  But apparently they did know a lot out in LA.  Must be why all the strange things were said to happen.


One of the generals the next morning looked at just Roque.  He had separated him out for this talk.  "Captain, someone said that you were cohabitating with the person you were staying with?" he asked bluntly.

"Sir, do you remember Wade?" he asked dryly.

"Quite.  I remember you pouting when we got you from the airport because you didn't get to kill him."

"He wants Mr. Harris a whole lot.  Kidnaped him."

"I remember your team going off base without orders to retrieve him."

"We've been protecting him from Wade."

"So, not a relationship?"  Roque stared at him, giving him a funny look.  "I know the rules, the same as you do, but there's all sorts of rumors about date nights and check-ins....  I wanted your take on it."

"We are friends.  I do hang at his place whenever we're out there."

"So no sexual initiations?"

"Sir, I'm not going to out anyone, including myself, even if it was happening.  If I was, I'm not saying a word.  Beyond wondering who I get to thump and kill for spreading such rumors."

The general stared at him.  "All I wanted was to know if you needed time off to visit him?"

"I'll probably visit him a lot.  LA's pretty safe for us to get lost in for downtime.  It has a bunch of stuff to do.  Xander works in the bar industry so he knows the best places to quietly get lit most every night.  He and Jensen go to the theme parks.  The whole team likes to hang at Xander's house."

"It's said he has weapons."

Roque nodded.  "He has an impressive collection," he agreed smugly.  "We adore it when we need to bum something."

"Don't the FBI worry about him?"

"He knows a few agents and they know he has hidden weapons.  They confiscated some before he needed them to blow up a nuclear bomb a few years back.  He's still pissed off about that."


"He killed an arms dealer that was trying to woo him," he said with a smirk.  "Xander only draws the really deadly and dangerous.  Which is why Wade thinks he's a pinup."

"I can see that reasoning," he decided.  "But you're not together?  No upcoming nuptials?"

"I've heard some of the peaceful demon communities were taking bets on that but no.  I'm not the marrying kind, sir."

"That's fine.  If the rules should change..."

"Then it'd be a happy day for a lot of commandos I know who are gay," he said dryly.  "Anything else, sir?"

"No, Captain.  How is Corporal Jensen?"

"Tired.  He has a headache.  Apparently the succuba he inadvertently sucked in gave him a migraine."

"Is it gone?"

"Yup.  No taint left.  We nearly drowned him in holy water getting all that out of him."

"How did you meet Harris?"

"Remember Clay calling in some commandos picking on a stripper?"  The general nodded.  Clay had made that report to him when he was the base commander.  "That was Xander."

"Oh!"  He nodded once.  "Is he still...."

"No, because of people like Wade trying to get him.  Mostly because of Wade actually since Wade nearly killed a whole club to kidnap him."

"Huh.  I didn't think a man like Wade was gay."

"That's a stereotype, sir.  Through Xander I've met some of the toughest gay men ever.  And then I've met some of ours that're tougher than some of them."

"Fine.  Thank you, Captain."  Roque nodded and left.  The general made notes.  Rumors from an underground community and a law firm that was evil and on the FBI's list of people they wanted to bring down wasn't enough to take action on a report of a commando being gay.  Even if they had pictures of Mr. Harris being happy and squealy with the whole team.


Pooch finally made it home and stared at Jolene for a minute.  She looked pissed off.  "The generals kept us in a little room for the most part.  They asked us insane shit for days, sweetie."  She still threw the vase she had been dusting at his head.  "Hey!  It's not my fault!"

"It's not his fault," Clay called from outside.

"Get your asses in here," she yelled.

He leaned in.  "I'm dropping Jensen off at the airport then we'll be back."

"Is Roque already on a plane?" she asked dryly.

"No, he's coming later on.  The former base commander asked if he was gay."  He left, taking the sleeping Jensen to the airport.

Pooch stared at her.  "I wish I could've been home sooner, Jolene.  It wasn't my idea to lock us in a little room and let Jensen be possessed."

"Why?" she asked calmly.

"No idea, he had three, and one was a succuba."

She snorted, walking toward the kitchen.  "Go play with your son.  I'll beat you later.  When I can get the rest of you."  She called Jensen's sister to warn her that he was on his way up.  Then she called Xander to talk to him.  He was clearly in a bar since it was loud.  "Working already?" she asked, checking the clock.  "Huh.  That's nice of them, Xander."  She smiled and walked outside to talk to him.  It was a pretty day to beat the hell out of her man for worrying her.

Pooch went into the nursery, smiling at his son, who was playing with his feet.  "Hi, son."  He picked him up, hugging him.  "You're so much better than every single general there is."  His son smiled and pulled on his ears, happy to have him back.   "I missed you too."  They sat in there to cuddle so he could avoid his wife's temper some more.


Clay walked into the meeting room and nearly turned and marched right back out.  Three generals, and the president, without Secret Service guys.  Charming!  He saluted once he had the door closed.  "You requested to see me today, sirs?"

"Do you think that the bigger threat to the US is the demon threat, drug lords and arms dealers, or Wade?" the president asked.

"Wade, because he's a good minion with a lot of contacts but I'm sure Roque's going to be killing him soon for stalking."  He considered it.  It sounded like they were trying to decide what his team was going to be doing for the next little while.  "Otherwise I'd put them about equal, sirs.  The demons with plans are fairly strong and hard to kill, some even take special weapons.  Some are law firms that has government contracts."  The president stared at him oddly.  "Wolfram and Hart?"  He nodded a bit with a slight smirk.  "They're the lawyers for the evil ones, sirs."

The president wrote down that name.  "I'll have to look into them."

"I'm told that they have their people sign contracts for their souls, both their employees and clients. The team in LA has been fighting against them for years."

"Wonderful," he said dryly.  "How many more might be making plans, Colonel?"

"Sir, anyone can make a plan.  It matters if it's a good plan, an idea fairy plan, or a crackhead plan.  Some of the vampires in Sunnydale had crackhead and idea fairy ideas.  They usually got handled quickly by the team out there.  The ones doing things in LA and Sunnydale for the true apocalypse battles in the spring aren't usually vampires and are usually higher demons.  None of them have wanted to touch the area of terrorism however, they'd like to rule the earth and make it a demon world again.  I'm told that's how it started out.  And then some higher ups or someone created slayers."

"I've seen their history," one of the generals said.  "I went home and got drunk.  Broke ten years of sobriety for it."

Clay nodded.  "That's about what my team did too.  Though one of my guys added in a drunken call to his wife."

The president smiled.  "If you're guessing we're thinking about training issues, you're right, Colonel."

"Sir, I suck at it.  Ask the greenies I was just forced to mangle."

"They said you gave better advice than the trainers," another general told him.  "They said all that hunting training you gave them helps a lot with urban combat situations.  Especially that tunnel work you put them through in Sunnydale."

"Fortunately I only had to smack one for being a 'let God sort them out' sort, sirs."

"I would've beaten the shit out of them," the first general admitted.

"That was Xander's correction method as well.  And then he lectured."  He smirked.  "We all learned a bit from his mistake."

"How trained is the Council?"

"A lot of them are the white guy researcher stereotype.  I'm assuming most field watchers get more training than the research guys.  Both Rupert and Wesley were pulled out of the library to go to Sunnydale.  Wesley when Giles got fired for treating his slayer like a daughter instead of a warrior.  Apparently there was a mystical birthday present test according to Miss Summers.  One that robbed her of her gifts and stuck her in a house with an insane vampire without a weapon.  And her mother hostage."  They all glared.  "They apparently don't like them to get too old, it means they're not as fast and bendy as Buffy put it, sirs."

"Huh," the president said, making that note as well.  "How are slayers trained?"

"One watcher, one slayer, somewhere in the world."

"Her family?" one of the generals asked.

"No.  Buffy was missed."  He smirked.  "Faith was missed as well but her upbringing was bad and so was the torture she underwent before going to Sunnydale, which was what led to her slip to the darkside.  She's apparently got her head on straight now.  She'll be out in about a year we think."

"I looked up that incident," one of the generals admitted.  "It seemed it wasn't just her fault."

"Buffy admitted that much, yes.  But Faith was also led astray and joined the former mayors' team for a bit."

"Ah!  So that's why they charged her," that general said with a smirk at the others.

"Yes, sir, but a year before she and her watcher, who had saved her from the streets of Boston, had been tortured by a very old vampire.  She had watched her watcher die from it."  They all nodded at that.  "Faith can come back, she's showing signs she wants to stay straight and narrow now."

"Would you think that the military might help by taking in the trainees?" one of the generals asked.

"No, sir.  I don't.  I think Summers has proved that the best way to do things is to have a supportive team like my team.  People who cover the major duties, back each other up, help you when it's a really bad day, and who'll watch your back.  I believe if the military takes them over, they'll ruin the girls just as much as the Council does, only slightly less emotionally stunted.  Buffy met one of the Council raised girls.  She had never talked to boys, didn't know how to shop, had one outfit, and had put all her life's frustration into hunting.  Her lone, favorite possession was a stake she gave Buffy that she had carved.  I think the military would end up doing about the same thing only less emotionally distancing.  Also, I doubt the military wants to teach the girls how to deal with magical things."

"No, I don't," the president admitted.  "How much of that crap is there in hunting?"

"Loads.  From protections to summonings you have to counter or use sometimes, to spells you have to interrupt.  It was a spell that opened the portal that allowed that demon plane to vomit into LA.  I'm just glad it was LA.  Most cities would've been more traumatized.  LA and San Francisco are too used to weird things to do more than quietly fix the damage."

"Are there demons up there?"

"I'm told there's a whole peaceful hippie commune of them," Clay said with a grin.  "They have kids, their own school and med clinic, all that.  They just 'ohm' all day and meditate to the Goddess."

The president shook his head.  "No deaths?"

"Not many.  I've heard there's some vampires but they let their brethren in LA know to warn them if Miss Summers showed up so they could all flee to the east coast."

"I can see that point, I'd run too," one general admitted.  "If she was going to kill me for existing."

"Summers and her team, and Lehane, *all* pride themselves on only hunting the hunters.  Though I believe that the vampire in charge of the LA team will someday grow up and quit taunting Xander into staking him, or beheading him, the rest of them know that killing people brings a slayer.  Feeding slightly from hospital discards, club kids but not killing, or even the butcher shop keeps a slayer away from them.  Minions are cannon fodder.  They're dumb and cannon fodder, sirs.  Of course they do stupid things that draw a slayer.  The older, smarter ones lived so long because they didn't do dumb things."

"Is it an automatic transition if you're fed on?" the president asked.

"No, but having an army of minions is like having your own personal army, sir.  It's a status and power thing."

"I can fully understand that.  I felt very powerful the day they told me the Army was mine to lead," the president said dryly.

"Beyond that, sir.  They consider minions easy pickings and can always make more.  You have more sense about not throwing us at unreasonable things."

"Thank you for that compliment, Colonel," he said dryly with a smirk.  "I'm glad I don't rate on their scale."

"Oh, no, sir, you have your days but you're usually yelling at other world leaders."  The president cackled, nodding that was true.  "Beyond that, the system is broken but fixable.  Stepping the military in as more than training for hand-to-hand, because the slayers are faster, stronger, and have more stamina, as proven by Buffy formerly being able to shop all day for a perfect pair of shoes, or so she said.  Fortunately she's grown up thanks to her traveling for her duties."

"She was?" the president asked.

"Yes, sir.  When Sunnydale fell in, most of her team settled in LA to help out there while she traveled to handle some of the issues the potential slayers were having.  She also told them about free will and self decision making.  Plus how backup had helped.  I'm told the head people at the Council loathe her for that and upped the price on her head again because of it.  To those sort, slayers are useful tools.  Some are better at it however."

"I don't much like Mr. Travers," the president admitted.  "I met with him and I wanted to shoot him in the head.  How much is his price on Mr. Harris?"

"He loathes Harris more than he hates demons, sir.  Harris created the two-slayer situation thanks to CPR.  He warped prophecies.  He stepped into what they thought was a single girl's battle to help her.  They blame him for the root of all evil.  If he was Satan they'd like him more.  So they're offering a toasty and cool half a mil for him and about sixty thousand, translated from Pounds, for Slayer Summers.  They're scared to death of Rosenburg so they won't do more than shoot her on sight if she's acting up.  She had some issues with her powers becoming more important in her life than her brain.  Tried to enforce her will on people, that sort of thing."

"I got those notes as well from him," the president sighed.  "He thought them all very worrisome and very bad for humanity."

"No, I like Xander.  He's a good kid.  He draws psychotic mother fuckers who want him.  I always know anyone who dates him is dangerous, deadly, and should mostly be shot on sight.  My whole team is looking forward to doing that to Wade the next time we run into him.  Though we have all agreed that Xander gets to keep the ring Wade bought him," he finished with a smirk.

"Huh," the president said.  "He's still in lust with him?"

"He believes Xander is the perfect wife.  Xander has pointed out repeatedly he's not a wife.  Or a girl.  When Wade stole him from UCLA's hospital the day he was being discharged for the severe gunshot wound he got at work, which was bouncing at a bar, he healed long enough to get free, then escaped.  Somehow, with a slightly open wound and stitches, he managed to sit up for eight hours in a car to drive as far away from Wade as possible."

The president blinked.  "I think that's a fairly good sign he didn't want him, yes.  I heard you went to rescue him?"

"We helped extract him from Canada.  My whole team likes Xander."

"Good.  Is he... team fun?" the president asked.

Clay stared at him.  "No, sir, I'm usually found fucking Summers," he said dryly.

"Oh, I see.  All right.  Is it..."

"She's very squealy, yes, sir."  He smirked.  "And she'd probably want to spar with me for saying that."

"That's good then.  Is it serious?"  Clay gave him an odd look.  "We were thinking about gathering the potentials and creating a training area for them."

"I'm told they're all over the globe to handle minor things that're happening wherever they are, sirs."

"Interesting.  Even though they don't have the full gifts yet?" the president asked.

"According to what we've heard, yes."

"Huh.  I'm going to kill Travers."

"Buffy would like popcorn since he endangered her mother."

"I'll see if we can arrange that then."  He smirked.  "Training yes?"

"Training would always be a good thing.  I'm not sure who would be best to do it though.  It'd have to be someone who was excellent at hand-to-hand and weapons, modern and ancient.  Before she traveled, Summers hated guns.  She wouldn't let any of her team even carry one for self defense.  Now she sees the point of them but still doesn't favor them.  She favors stakes and swords.  Harris favors guns, artillery, and battle axes."  He shrugged.  "You use what works."

"Yes you would," the president agreed. "So good hand-to-hand, good sword and gun skills, and tracking," he said, making note of that.  "Could your team take a slayer and train them competently?"

He considered that.  "In everything but demonology.  We only know the basics and whenever we asked Rupert Giles anything he lectured.  Wesley put it in shorter lectures."

"So, that'd be something that she'd need to learn outside of commando skills," one general said.  Clay nodded.  "What if we put teams in the Council, or at their help?  Put a girl with a team and a person who knew demonology?"

"I think it'd help a lot but there's only usually one called at a time so they'd have a lot of pre-teen girls to train.  Summers got called at fifteen.  At eighteen if they're called they get that sucktastic test.  Most of the girls don't last long, and that would solve some of that, but girls have been called as young as eight according to Wesley.  Fortunately it's now usually older."

"So if Summers dies," the president said.  "It's only Lehane and whoever?"

"No, Summers died, it moved to Kendra, but Buffy retained it.  Kendra died and activated Faith, and Buffy's still surviving, sir."

"So, Lehane dies and we get a new girl and Summers if she's still living," he said.  Clay nodded.  "And a bunch of preteen girls who've been raised like little underground militia members."  Clay nodded again.  "What if they're not dying young?"

"They keep going until they die, sir.  That's what slayers do as I'm told.  Buffy thinks she'll never make it to retirement and if she did, something would come for her.   She's already having things hunt her down to test themselves against her.  Some day she'll be too slow, a bit too achy, not as flexible as she was at fifteen...."

"The same as the really strong commandos never make it to retirement because we throw you guys at the harder stuff," the president sighed.  Clay nodded.  "What if something happened to Lehane and they did CPR?"

"I'm assuming the same as last time but I'm not totally sure.  I know that when each girl is called, the spiritual resonance of the prior girls is passed into them to gift them with the special gifts and knowledge.  Faith has admitted she has some of Buffy but as far as I know it won't matter.  Though there's some that insist having two is why Faith went dark."

Willow appeared, clearing her throat.  "No, it wasn't.  The spirit's not all that strong in Faith.  Hers was her upbringing.  The same as Xander's a bit darker."  Clay slapped her on the head.  "Ow!  Mean shit!"

He glared at her.  "Shut up about things you don't know about, Willow.  You've never even sat down and talked to Faith.  You have no idea what she's been through in her life."  She gaped.  "You're turning back into a judgmental bitch again."

She glared.  "I should make it so you and your *team* have to train the girls," she sneered.

"Sure, we can remove them to another country," he said dryly.  "One with a lot more natural space.  Xander too."  She gaped.  "You'd be shot on sight."  She pulled up power and he pulled a gun.  "Mine's faster.  Go get right with the Goddess again, Willow.  Before we put you back on seventy-two hour confinement."  She huffed off.  He put his gun back.  "And that was Miss Rosenburg's magic addiction speaking," he said dryly at the horrified looks.  "I wouldn't let them stay in the US, sir.  Too much risk of people trying to help in the wrong way.  They'd have to have time to adjust and we'd need room to train."

"That's actually reasonable," the president agreed.  "Plus it'd keep the Council and the army out of it."

"Mostly, yes, sir.  We'd arrange for people to help without having everyone in to help."

"That's a good plan.  Where would you put it?"

"I don't know.  Mexico?  It's got a lax government, no CPS people to look in on them and try to interfere with training times.  Plenty of varied hunting environments for training and work purposes.  Easy travel to handle things.  We'd definitely be able to clear the drug dealers and other assholes out of an area and take it over."

The president nodded.  "How about cold training?"

"Most of them don't like the cold.  But we can travel anywhere to do that.  There is a lot of activity right now in Central and South America from what I hear.  Summers had to travel that way frequently.  Europe is too crowded but we can set up in the jungles down there quickly and easily enough."

"With the right people it can be self-sustaining," the general who hadn't said anything agreed.  "Helping the villagers would get you a good support group locally."  Clay nodded.  "Good planning, Colonel."

"Thank you, sir, but I'm hoping it doesn't come to that.  If she does create that sort of situation, we'll help the LA team through the mourning if permitted."

"That'd be fine," the president agreed.  "There's rumors, and she brought this up as well, about Harris and your 2IC?"

"Rumors, sir.  We do tend to stay at his house.  He has a huge tv, doesn't mind the company, and my whole team treats him like a little brother.  Though if Rosenburg's plan does happen, him and Summers would both not be totally helpful with the other training.  They're scarily self-trained for the most part.  She had an earlier watcher that helped but all hers is instinct and things.  All Harris has is self-training."

"Huh," the head of the Army said.  "I was wondering how he learned to use a battle axe that way."

"At one point in time he was possessed by a PFC in the Army," Clay offered.  "It left him with a lot of information but also expiring base codes when they needed it to kill something huge in a mall."

"I saw that report.  I wondered if that base was that lax," the head of the Army said with a smirk for him.

"No, Xander said that was his best date in high school actually."

The president shook his head quickly.  "I think the boy's insane."

"They took a friend."

"I understand why he did it.  It's fairly classic and the fact that people call him a White Knight is telling, Colonel," he said dryly.  "I still think he's insane.  I'd hate to have that job."

"Me too, sir.  It keeps giving me headaches when vampires go to dust instead of die like proper bodies."

The president smirked.  "Smartass."

"Often, sir."  He grinned.  "That's why they gave me who they did."

"I like your team, Colonel.  Let us talk for a few minutes.  Go get some coffee."  Clay saluted and left.   "Well....  We have a semi-professional opinion since he knows more than most of the military people do about this topic.  I want ideas."


Clay came back to LA with his team.  Who was looking anxious.  Xander picked them up and brought them back to the Hyperion.  Buffy was sitting on the old check-in desk doing her nails while Cordelia bitched about the bills.  Everyone else was standing around waiting.  Clay let his team file in.  "There's some news from the higher ups."

Buffy looked at him.  "We confined Willow again."

"Good."  He looked around.  "The president wants to put the pre-slayers with a team."

"As in..." Xander said with a wave.  Clay nodded.  "Why?"

"That'd be supportive teams they could use," Buffy said.  Clay nodded.  "No watcher though."

"They'd learn to train together and they'd all get the same lectures.  There's apparently a lot of pre-teen slayers but not any in the 2-5 year-old range."  She looked confused.  "We don't know either.  There's another gap in the 8-12 range.  There's only two.  The rest are between the gaps."

"Huh.  Okay.  So they missed more," Buffy said dryly.  "That figures.  We're fantastic though."

Clay smiled.  "You're getting our team."  She gaped.  "Because we've worked together, and when Faith gets out, she'll get her own.  Here or not.  Sunnydale or not."  Xander scowled.  "No, you don't get shoved aside.  None of us know swords or battle axes.  We're in for the big things.  And if she has to travel.  Also, Sunnydale is being reopened in a few months."

"We're going back," Buffy agreed.

"Good.  We're all going back."  She gaped, dropping her nail polish brush.  Cordelia grabbed it and put it back into the bottle.  "The president wants Sunnydale under military authority and the firm hand of you or Faith when she gets out.  Or Faith could travel like you have been.  I'm not sure."  She nodded once, then slumped.

"We found a demon bar in DC and talked to them.   They said as long as it's not the Initiative restarted, it'd be mostly fine and would give you more backup so Xander could find a job he really liked," Jensen said.  "Plus we'd help out with the whole Willow issue and other issues.  Including clearing up a lot of the hell of the vampire menace up there.  The younger ones are going to be taken from the Council, which the UK government is having issues with.  They're moving back to research only because they talked to some of the pre-slayers."  Buffy winced.  "Travers is going to jail for a few things, including putting a contract out on you and Xander."

"Okay," Buffy said.  "So....  I'll have you guys and Xander helping?"

"Here and LA," Clay agreed.  "We can help with both areas.  Even in the spring.  As long as they're not minutes apart."

"Huh," Cordelia said.  "So you'd be our backup team too?"

"Yup.  We're close enough and all the other girls are very young.  If any don't get called, they'll have ways of protecting themselves, education in place, and might be encouraged but not shoved to go military later on by their teams.  Someone on each team will be adopting the pre-slayers.  Because no one kept records of who their parents were."

"That's in the genetics lab," Wesley told them.

"No, we raided that too.  They burned it," Roque told him.  "They burned the whole lab down."  He looked at Xander.  "Also, the weapons you've been working on, we're supposed to field test and pass along."  Xander grinned at that.  "So, we're all moving to Sunnydale.  We're officially on detached assignment.  The same as the guys who get to guard embassies are."

"We're to keep things peaceful and see if we can tweak any clans or whatever that might cause problems so we have peace treaties," Jensen added with a grin.  "Cougar and Pooch are our diplomats."

"I know most of them," Buffy said with a small shrug.  "What's the bad?"

"Us always being underfoot," Clay said.  "Possibly getting a bit restless."

Xander snorted.  "We got at least ten vamps a week, guys.  It's never boring in Sunnydale."  The others all nodded.  "Is Spike coming back with us?" he asked.  "Since we finally found him and he's chipped by the bastards who sank the town."

Clay shrugged.  "That's up to you guys.  We're here to lurk, help, and shoot vampires in the tunnels for you."

Buffy nodded.  "That'd be a really big help," she agreed.  "What happens if we get it calmed down?"

"By then it'll probably be spring," Jensen quipped.

"Oh, yeah, then."  She nodded.  "Okay.  We'll get you guys more hooked into the kitten poker circuit.  They're putting up new houses now.  I'm not sure which one Mom wanted or if she's moving back too."

"I'm meeting with one of the bars up there to talk about a bouncing job," Xander said.  They all nodded.  "I'm getting an apartment on the east side."  He found the information on the new housing developments and maps.  "Here, I've got one here.  I'm selling my place and buying there."  They all nodded.  "We might have some problems here and here.  With the way things fell in, it destroyed two cemeteries so they razed them and built housing projects over it.  One poor people houses."  He looked up.  Clay nodded at that.  "If you guys want outer ring instead of closer to the hellmouth, I'd suggest these areas."  He pointed.  "Some are houses, some are apartments, whichever way you guys wanna do it.  Pooch, is Jolene and the baby coming?"

"Outside town.  I don't want my son to glow from hellmouth radiation.  Also, they've got meters to warn us when it's starting to act up."  Buffy and Giles both smiled at that.

Xander shook his head.  "Half the time it's someone wanting to open it, not a bursting open like a zit thing.  And it's back under the new high school too."  Buffy stared at him.  He handed over the maps.  "It's under the gym this time."

She stared and whined.  "Why?"

"Mayor's cocksuckers took over?" Xander guessed, shrugging a bit.

"Good point I guess."  She put it down.  "We'll figure that all out."  The guys smirked at her.  "When are you moving, Xander?"

"Six months.  I'm talking to agents right now about selling the house."

"That'll work," Clay agreed.  "Bigger, smaller?"

"Condo.  Four bedrooms."

"Why can't you get a house?" Pooch asked.  "It'd give you more room for weapons."  Xander smirked.  "Oh, no."

"Oh, yeah.  My storage area's still up there."  He smirked at them.  "I'll introduce you when we all get up there.  Want to go play some kitten poker?"

"Sure," Clay decided, letting the kid lead the way.

"Sometimes I worry that we made Xander too strange and he's compensating for all the girls around him," Buffy sighed.

"It's possible," Clay admitted.  She smiled at him.  "The team we were training will go to Faith when she gets out."

"They were kinda nice.  Mostly polite.  They learned not to destroy the peaceful things."

Clay nodded.  "He's still remembering that beating."

"Good.  It's always good when they don't hurt the harmless things."  She grinned.  "I'll see where Mom's putting us or I'm going tomorrow."

"That'll work," he agreed with a smug look.  She grinned back.  He'd have to make sure it could get loud.


Pooch looked at the people who were selling the house.  "How steady is the basement area?"  They looked clueless.  "When the sinkhole happened that got most of the town, how did your house do?"

"We barely felt it," the wife said.  "Are you moving in to work at that new tech program?"

He smiled.  "Actually, my wife, son, and I are retired military.  I'm going to be teaching a few things up at the college and so will she.  She's teaching in the Economics department."

"Aw, that's wonderful," the wife said with a smile.  "You hear such bad things sometimes about military personnel but you seem very nice.  When is your wife going to be able to come see the house?"

"She'll be out day after tomorrow.  Today I'm previewing since I'm giving her the final decision," he said with a smile.  They smiled back and showed him around.  The housing in Sunnydale sucked badly.  The basement had huge cracks in most of the ones he'd seen.  Not from the 'quake' that had happened when the base sunk in, but because they were cracked.  He came out calling Jolene to tell her about that house.

Buffy smiled.  "Hi, Mrs. Johnson.  Xander Harris said to say hi too."  The former fourth grade teacher smiled and waved back, going back inside.  She looked at him.  "Want to look up the road at that other house?"

"Please."  He let her navigate.  She had gotten a suggestion from her mother.   It was in the next school district.  Thankfully.  It was a nice older house.  He got out and looked it over.  "How long has it been abandoned?"

"Before we moved.  Barely.  Mom said that she was told the owner committed suicide thanks to the ghosty ghost in the attic driving her to it."  Pooch stared at her.  "I'm told we can fix ghosties."

"I'd hope so."  He went to look in the windows.  "Is this area stable?"

"Yeah, even when we have massive quakes hardly anything in this area shakes.  That's why Mom thought about that house."  She grinned.  "The realtor's still alive," she said with a point at the sign.  "I don't know how since he likes to party all night at the Bronze and pick up underage girls."

Pooch called and talked to them about that house.  It was large.  More than large enough for his family, which would hopefully be growing soon.  He wanted the kids to be close together so they got along most of the time.  He was smiling so what he heard was good Buffy decided, looking around the area.  She looked up at the attic, staring at the ghostly figure staring back.  She smiled and waved.

The ghost floated down to stare back at Pooch, who only looked back.  The ghost smiled and faded.  Pooch asked about the haunting and they said it was rumored to be but it was mostly a polite spirit.  That they could have the house blessed or whatever.   He agreed he could do that and they agreed to come out to let him look around.  He hung up and walked back.  "I think it liked me."

"I hope so."  She smirked.  "I'll ask Giles just in case."  He grinned back.  The realtor got there a few minutes later, giving Buffy an odd look.  "I'm navigating while he looks since I'm helping his group settle in."

"That's fine, Miss Summers.  I saw your mother recently."

"I saw her last night for dinner."  She grinned.  "She's kind of excited that Sunnydale's reopening."  The relator smiled and showed him the house.  He came out babbling at his wife and son about it.  The ghost had liked him a lot, patting him on the head.  The realtor had ignored it in finest Sunnydale fashion.  So it was good for everyone.  And the house was cheap, which was a great bonus.


Xander walked into the Bronze that night already scowling.  "Roque, can I have the spare couch for a week?"

"Why?" he asked with a grin for his good thing.

"Because the guy who was selling my condo building just set it on fire for the insurance money."  He sat down.  "They're *really* very sorry.  They also said I'm getting my money back tomorrow because I promised I was going to shove a grenade tube up his ass and fire it."  He smiled.  "I even pulled out the one in the trunk to demonstrate."

Clay looked at him.  "Won't that get you in trouble?"

"No, probably not.  Hey, Officer Paul!" he shouted, getting his attention.  "The whore that was building where I was going to be living set it on fire.  I saw him do it.  I'm the one who called the fire department.  He's promising we're all getting our money back or else I vowed I'd find something to kill his stupid ass."

"Sure, Harris."  He smirked at him.  "How are you affording there?"

"I'm selling my semi-beach front in LA."

The officer whimpered.  "Did you become a boytoy?"

"No, I dated an arms dealer," he said dryly.  The officer whimpered.  Xander smiled.  "I'm *sure* I can get something to deal with him if the police don't."

"I'm fairly certain we can do something about him," he decided, calling his boss.  That would let them have some fun too.

"Any idea where you're going instead?" Clay asked.

"Three ideas."  He looked back at the officer.  "Make sure he pays us back first, Officer Paul.  His wife's a whiny thing that's blessed herself to Artemis and Athena."  Paul shuddered, he knew about her.  He turned back around with a grin.  "It's nice that real estate up here is *so* much cheaper than in LA."

"It is," Pooch agreed.  "Or around Fort Bragg.   I could get three houses for what ours there sold for."

"My real estate agent in LA thinks I can get really huge ass money for mine," Xander said with a grin.  "Especially if I want to leave the tv."

"No, bring it with you," Roque said.  "That way we can bum it for games."  Xander shrugged but nodded.  He sipped his beer.  "Why is it a place like this has to give out shitty beer?" Roque asked.

"Because they usually serve college kids and below, but it is technically all ages," Xander said dryly.  "They do have microbrews available if you ask."  He went to get one and came back, letting Roque steal it.  "That's my favorite."

"No ID checks?" Pooch asked quietly.

"Yeah but they know me here.  And my former parents."  He grinned.  Buffy came strolling over.  "Did we see the pretty fire?"

"I did and nearly had flashbacks to villagers dancing around fires like I saw on school filmstrips," she said, sitting down.  "Where are you going to park yourself instead?"

"No clue yet.  He did promise I'd get my money back because I vowed I'd kill his dumb ass."  She grinned.  "I even proved I could."  She laughed.  "Beyond that, I have a few places in mind."  She nodded. "Pauletra's house is open."  She whimpered.  He grinned.  "He was our resident drug dealer back in high school.  We know he's got a basement sealed area."  Clay shook his head at that.  "And a paranoid bunker."

"And a sauna," Buffy added with a smile.  "And a pool."  Xander nodded at that with a slight grin.  "Any luck on the bouncing thing?"

"Three really good prospects.  Or I can bartend instead."  She nodded.  "The Phoenix wanted me to bartend."  He took his beer back from Roque to get a drink.

"The demon strip club?" she asked dryly.  Xander nodded.  "Um.... no!"

"Pays good," Xander said.

"Hell no!"

He shrugged.  "It might do better than a few other things."

"No because then you'd draw all the evil ones there."

"Which would increase my tips," Xander said with a grin.

"Huh, but still tacky with what we do after hours."

"Good point, which is why I turned them down."  She reached over to hit him on the arm, getting a smirk back.   "I'm going to Andrew's new hole of a pub."

"That's a dark, dirty place," she sighed.

"That pays ten an hour," he shot back with an evil grin.  She grinned back.  "They're trying to lure more adults in.  It's not somewhere my family would be caught dead in."

"That'll work and maybe be less dangerous," Clay said.  "Plus a good hangout."

Xander grinned at him.  "Including two new pool tables."  Clay smirked back.  "And it's a college kid bar about a quarter of the time.  The rest it's mostly teachers and guys who work on the construction crews or at the docks."

"Even better," Clay decided.  "We'll stick out less."  He finished his beer.  "That is watery."  He took the bottle of microbrew to drink.  "That's pretty decent," he said with an appreciative look at the bottle.

"Also only a buck-fifty," Buffy teased with a grin.  "Unlike your watery tap beer that's three bucks."  Jensen went up to get the next round for them, all of the microbrews so they could taste them.  "Don't get the one with the black and silver label," she called after him.  "It sucks and it tastes like table pepper."  He nodded at that, smiling at the bartender.  "Give him the frat boy special, Roy.  They want to pick a new favorite."  The bartender grinned at her and did that.  Jensen came back with two trays of bottles of beers and went back to get another one.  Buffy took one back, getting a refund.  "Bad, nasty stuff."  She bounced onto the floor because she felt a vampire come in.

Clay watched, sipping his beer.  "She's really good at that."

"That's baiting," Xander said dryly.  He sipped his own, smirking at Jensen.  "No one but six people in this town drink this because they say it's too sweet."  Jensen took it to sip, nodding when he looked at the label.  He was making notes of which ones he liked.  Xander got them some clean glasses so they could pour some from each type.  That helped a lot and they all found a few nice microbrews they liked.


Wade hung up the phone in his rental in LA, considering the information his snitch had given him.  Xander was selling his house to move back home.  So probably more time with a sword and a stake but Sunnydale was a place Wade could shoot as many people as he wanted and no one would really notice.  As long as most of them were vampires or evil shits, they'd be fine with it.  Plus it had a nice weapons pipeline through the demon community.  A good money laundering system.  A lot of very high quality specialty goods from other realms being snuck in.  Property was pretty cheap when he looked it up online.

Within ten minutes he had a lead on a good realtor who dealt with underground housing needs.  He had him hacked and found out Xander was going through him too.  Probably so his friends didn't realize he had saved a good bit of money and he'd be banking a lot after selling his house.  Speaking of, he knew someone who needed a new place in LA so he pointed him at that one.  Him being *that* Xander meant that the guy pissed him off but he was willing to pay major bucks for the place's benefits.

Wade looked over the listings that agent had and found a nice mansion with an overgrown garden and a wonderfully archaic mediaeval kitchen.  Used to belong to Angel from what the listing said.  He considered it.  His housekeeper would like it after he renovated.  Or there was a larger one that used to belong to the Mayor, who was apparently an evil shit who liked plastic with the way everything in the house was wrapped.  He looked him up and burst out laughing.  So that's who had been blown up during Xander's graduation!

Yeah, he wanted that house.  It was a good statement, it was a good size, and his housekeeper would adore cutting all the plastic off so he could use it to wrap bodies in.  He'd have to save a really big piece for Roque someday but that was fine.


Xander got the check back from the former place's owner's wife, staring at it then at her.  "It's drawn on a bank that doesn't exist?"  She glared.  He stared back.  "The offer of me doing harm to someone still stands," he said, smiling at the officer stomping his way.  "Are you here about the check drawn on the Second National Bank of Sunnydale?"

The officer shook his head.  "No.  That doesn't exist."

"He threatened me," she said firmly.

"Because you tried to pay me in fake money."  He held up the check for the officer.  "I'm going to hurt her and then I'm going to sue her.  And then I'm going to tell the arms dealer I used to date."  She whimpered, shrinking away from him.  He looked at the officer.  "Is that legal?"

"No, that's not a legal check, Harris.  How did you get money?"

"I'm selling my semi-beachfront place in LA.  It's three blocks from the beach but overlooks the water.  Has a huge play area downstairs with a big screen tv that the last owner left."  He grinned.  "Six bedrooms but only two bathrooms."

"How did you afford that?" the woman sneered.

"I traded up when my ex wanted to use my old place instead."  He shrugged.  "It's a really nice place."  He grinned.  "And I paid for the one he traded me for."  The cop moaned.  Xander smirked.  "I was stripping then but it paid for a really nice condo downtown."  She moaned.  He smirked.  "And you still tried to pay me in fake money.  I can easily go ask for a favor to get something."  She turned and stomped off.  "I get it by today at five or I'm filing the paperwork.  I already have it filled out so I only need to pay ten bucks and drop it off."  He looked at the officer, handing him the check.  "Officer Paul was supposed to move out into the same building."

"I'll warn him.  This arms dealer...."

"I know a few very nice FBI agents who came over a few times."

"Oh," he said flatly.  Xander grinned.  "And the ones you've been seen with?"

"Helping things."  He walked off.  "Have a better afternoon."

"I saw you on tv."

"I am that pretty," Xander quipped back.  "I should be a pinup on every girl's wall, especially the ones that want to be wicked and naughty."

The officer went to tell his coworker about that fake check so he could look at his.  And that Harris was now evil.  That wasn't a good thing for Sunnydale.  Summers might get mad.


Buffy walked up to the new mayor later, smiling.  "I heard what's going around about Xander but he's not evil.  The evil ones want to own him."  She grinned.  "That's part of the reason our friends are moving out here, since he has a Canadian commando who's a bit psycho wanting to marry him."  She walked off again.  "If he becomes evil, I'll let them spank him."

"Whatever," the mayor said, sneering at her back.

Buffy smirked back at him.  "It could be worse.  Willow actually went fully evil."  She went back to her strolling off for patrol.  She had to get to know the new layout of the town.  They had built some things to block people running across town in emergencies so she had to find ways around them.  Or learn from Clay how to get over them easily.

The mayor went to talk to her people about that information.  Rosenburg was unpredictable with her upbringing and if they wanted Harris, more would show up in Sunnydale.  Which might be a bad thing.  They didn't want another version of the Mayor.  She managed to start making plans before the building blew up.

Buffy looked back, staring at it.  "Huh.  I wonder what happened."  She turned and staked the vampire then moved on shaking her head.  "Welcome to Sunnydale, home of the Strange," she quipped to the next vampire she staked.


Xander walked up to someone the next morning, staring at him.  "I was out by the Gulf Club," he said dryly.  "I wasn't anywhere near City Hall last night."  The Chief of Police stared at him.  "I have sixty guys who were watching me strip at the time.  I made six hundred bucks during that number.  I was actually on stage when it went up because it interrupted my music."  The Chief slumped.  "Buffy was doing Buffy things."  He smirked.  "She had told the Mayor that I wasn't evil.  Because she, like the others who want me, decided I'm great lap candy."  He walked off.  "Look at who benefitted or who she pissed off.  Since she tried to tell the people at the place I was buying that giving us back funny money after their insurance arson was a good idea."

"They did what?" he demanded.  Xander pulled out the papers to show him.  He read and grimaced.  "That bank hasn't existed in twenty years."

"I know that," Xander said dryly.  "Which is why I promised I'd talk to an ex who was an arms dealer."  He grinned.  "And no, they're in Central America the last I heard.  Want the name of a few good FBI agents to investigate?  I've met a few."

"No, we have it," he said, handing them back.  "She's left town."

Xander pointed at the woman who had roots for feet in the park.  "Really?"  He looked and moaned.  "Not me either," he chirped, heading for the courthouse.  "I'm going to sue your ass," he called as he walked.  "You tried to pay me with a bad check."  She was whimpering but he just grinned.  Her mouth was partially barked over.  She could get liquid from rain water since her bottom lip was sticking out but otherwise she was a tree woman.

The court clerk took the forms, checked them, took the ten bucks, and stamped them, then pointed.  Xander went to hand them to the next person and she nodded, stamping them and handing them off.  The last one glared so he held up a photocopy of the check.  "I have the original and the documents of what I paid."

She grimaced.  "I heard she left town."

"No, she's in the park.  I just walked past her."  She grimaced but handed it to the clerk for the local judge.  Who was heard laughing in his office.  Xander grinned, heading that way.  "I'm hiring a really tough lawyer too, Your Honor."  He smiled at him.  "Because I've had a whole lot of enough of this."

"You could stay in LA," he said dryly.

"Yes, I could, and date even more evil shits."  The judge stared at him.  "Last night, I was at the Phoenix."

"Oh, dear."

"On stage."

"Oh."  He grimaced.

"In the middle of an act.  There were sixty people there begging for me to flash them some dick."

"You're unpredictable and dangerous."

"Only when you screw with me," Xander quipped, leaning in the doorway.  "She did."  He handed over the photocopy of the check and the forms from the sale.  The judge looked it over.  "She did it to an officer too."

"Do you know anything about the explosion, Mr. Harris?"

"I could tell that the bomb they used was in the back area, that's from the way the outer walls fell.  Looked like it was in the old stash room the old Mayor had.  I could tell it was probably on the second floor, because of the way the roof fell."  The judge stared at him.  He grinned.  "Dated people who told me things."

"Oh, I see.  Some of us are aware of what your...friends used to do."

Xander grinned.  "Aren't you glad I'm the good boy and bait?" he asked dryly.  "Since Willow started on an addiction?"

"Do we think....."

"No.  She hates weapons.  If I hear I'll turn it in.  I know my civic duties."  He smiled.  "Can we please get me the hearing soon?  That way I don't have to bum a couch?"

"Fine," he muttered.   He looked at his schedule book.  "I have Monday."

"That'd be nice.  Thank you.  I'll see if someone can free her from the park by then."  He walked off.  He saw a nice car outside and got a really bad feeling about that.  So he walked off, heading for where Clay and the guys were scouting.  That was a bad thing in the making.  He heard the car start, no other car in town would be a diesel.  And yeah, it was a bad thing.  Xander ducked into the back roadway and down into the sewer, heading to where the guys were.  He had no idea who that was but it was probably really bad.


Buffy saw the guy planting the bomb and pounced.  "He's got a bomb!" she shouted, bringing people running.  Including an officer, which was strange for Sunnydale.  She guessed he was out at lunch since he was out of the station.  She pointed.  "He just dropped it in the sewer."

They looked and had to evacuate the area.   It had very little time on it.

Roque looked and went down to disarm it, carrying it back up.  "The things you learn in the army," he said dryly, handing it to the officer.  He stared at the guy.  "Reginald Marison."

"Who is a what sort of dirtbag?" Buffy asked.

"Drug dealer.  My team caught most of his people but he took over after they were killed in a hostage situation they had planned."

"Huh," the officer said, looking at the bomb then at him.  "You were army?"

"Demo expert, Special Forces," Roque said smugly with a smirk.

"Oh, I see," the officer said.  "Are there others?"

Buffy nodded, looking at Roque, who shrugged.  "I was out by the Phoenix last night and saw him leaving with three other guys.  And Wade."

"He's fucking here?" Roque demanded.  "That psychotic mother fucker?"  A mother covered her own ears, not her kid's.

"Could that one be who blew up City Hall?" the officer asked.  Buffy pointed at the guy in custody.  "We're sure?"

"He may or may not have the knowledge.  Wade could only use premade.  I'd have to look at the bomb fragments to tell you anything about it and who could've done it."  The officer nodded, calling in for someone to pick up this bad guy and to take Roque to look at the bomb.


Roque looked at the Chief of Police.  "It's not a new bomb."  The man glared at him.  He held a piece up.  "No one makes bombs that hold year readouts.  Notice the eight spots?"

The Chief took that bagged piece of material to look at.  "That is eight spots."  He counted.  "Seconds, minutes.  Days.  Years.  So it was Wilkins," he said.

"Probably.  I asked the residents we know about him.  They think it's possible."

"All right," he said, putting it aside.  "That one we caught earlier?"

"Call the FBI agents I'll give you the number to.  He's on the list to be arrested on sight."  He wrote down the number.  "This is Agent Epps, he's the team leader of one of the top teams out of the LA office.  He met Harris and Summers in LA."

"So he's not going to freak out about anything," he said.

"He's the guy that got the agents into the battle," Roque said more quietly.

"Good to know."  He called him to talk to him about that guy.  Roque left.  He got the drug dealer out of his jails in the morning, if he survived the night.  Epps had almost promised to find out who else had shown up since his officer heard there were others in town.

Apparently, Harris was drawing dates again.


Epps looked at the tape from the strip club, staring at the men he knew from their wanted posters.  "And Wade never caught a clue," Colby said from behind him.  "Charming."  He walked off.  "They still up there?"

"Apparently they're having a convention and Xander's working it," Epps said dryly.  "I wonder how much he made this time."  They gathered what they needed and more agents, heading up there to arrest them all.  Sunnydale might be a lax local police force but that didn't mean they could hold a bad guy convention up there.

Even if Xander did pickpocket everyone and get some neat new weapon pets.


Xander walked into his new place.  It was really nice.  It was super nice.  It was decorated for some reason and not with his stuff.  He looked around.  The kitchen had food.  He had a plate waiting on the counter.  There was very masculine furniture in the living room.  A very decent sized, new tv in there as well.  He could see into the room where the old tv was.  It had nice two-person couches in there.

At least four of them.  He looked toward the bedrooms.  They were in there.  His bed from the other place.  He stared, moving back toward the doorway, finding his phone.  He called Buffy.  "Did I have things moved up here?" he asked quietly.  "Please do if you're on patrol with Jensen and them.  Well, I have a new couch, someone made me dinner, and someone decorated fully, Buffy. And it's not Willow's style.  It's all real masculine.  Brown suede."


Buffy looked at the guys.  "Xander wants to know if you guys decorated on him?"

"Yes," Jensen said.  "We got stuff moved and Roque picked out the couch."

Buffy put her phone against her ear again.  "Yeah, Xander, they decorated.  Jensen and Roque."  She hung up.  "He said thank you to whoever made him dinner."  Jensen shook his head.  Roque strolled off checking his knives for sharpness.  Buffy sighed.  "Who do we think it was?"

"Few good ideas," Jensen told her.  "Wade left though.  He's back at his compound gathering and packing."  They followed.  The vampires would still be there in an hour.  They got there and found Roque kissing Xander and Willow pouting.  "Did you make the dinner, Willow?  Because he's got a really bad psycho stalker who wants to marry him."

"Yes," she said dryly.  "I like to cook."

Roque growled at her so she slunk off, hiding behind Buffy.  He went back to kissing Xander.  "I like the couch."

"It looks comfy and stain resistant," Xander teased with a smirk.  "How did you guys find that stash?"

"Jensen," he said with a smug look.  "That's what he does."  He walked Xander into the bedroom to christen it.  He'd be doing this for the next few days.

If Wade had them bugged, he could jack off to the pretty noises his good thing gave to him  because he wasn't giving him up.

The End.

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