(yes i tried to do on one my own, it's not tooooo bad, right?)
Idea: We all know that Xander, Willow, and Jesse played with each other, they had parents who weren't attentive, and at least the boys used to roam around town whenever they could. I'm betting that they knew spots that not even the demons knew about, probably not even the mayor.
Found and Lost
Xander looked around his classroom. He was seriously bored today. Tenth grade was not making him happy at the moment. He'd be more happy being eaten by the things he'd been hunting for months probably. He looked outside, spotting some of the younger kids playing over at the elementary school and mentally sighed, going back to the teacher's really boring lecture on Imperial Japan. Which might've been cool if presented in a way that kept his attention. After all, he liked samurais when he ran into them in comics and anime. This was just....sucking his mind out of his body. Then later on he'd get to go beat up on vampires with Buffy and Willow. What a wonderful day he was having! The bell finally rang and he ran out, heading for the library. "Save me from boring history teachers?" he begged Willow when he found her in there.
"She's not that bad."
"Yes she is! How can you make something like feuding kings who think they're gods and samurais boring!"
"Fine." She waved a hand. "I'll give you my notes."
"Thanks, Wills." He smirked at her. "What's the what for tonight?"
"Giles broke a crossbow. He's trying to fix it."
Xander went to the office area to look it over. "Do we need parts, screws, or something else?"
"It appears the main bracing bar is cracked," he admitted. He let him see it. "I've been trying to glue it."
Xander stared at it. "Can we do a bar across it and screw it into the sides?"
"It'd block the arrow's path."
Xander nodded at that. "So let me look around." Giles gave him a dirty look. "We had one dropped last night in a cemetery, Giles. Maybe it's still there."
"Perhaps but that could be seen as a bad thing."
"Us using it or the others getting it and using it on us," he said bluntly.
Giles sighed. "That is practical then. Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome." He walked out. "Buffy, your crossbow's totally wrecked. The main brace is cracked."
She grimaced. "That's not good I take it?"
"No. G-man says it can't be fixed. Where did that one drop his last night?"
"Um..... Sunny Heaven I think. It probably won't still be there."
"But we can check," he pointed out.
"True, we've got one coming up in there anyway," she sighed. "So, there, Restview, then the Bronze?" she suggested.
Xander shrugged. "If we must."
She smiled. "We must. It's time for some fun."
"I'll meet you there," Willow said. "My mother wants a family dinner because she heard it's good for us."
"Have fun with that," Xander said dryly.
Willow smirked. "Want leftovers?"
"If you can, please. Bring 'em to the Bronze?" She nodded, packing up and heading. He walked out with Buffy once they had stakes. The crossbow had been kicked into some bushes so it was still there. He split off to hand it over to Giles then meet up with Buffy at the Bronze. Willow didn't show up with dinner so he had overpriced drinks that were basically flavored soda instead. In the back of his mind, he had all sorts of ideas going on. Mostly about other people's things that seemed to end up in hands that probably shouldn't have them.
It had taken months but Xander had been raiding the nests that they had taken out over the last year. Now his storage area had a lot of stuff in it. Some that he didn't know what to do with. The lesser weapons sometimes went to Giles for Buffy's or their use. The clothes he usually gave to Goodwill unless it was something that would fit him better than his present clothes. Shoes too. Some vampires seemed to collect shoes for some reason. He wasn't sure why vamps did that; he thought only girls did and not all of these had been female vamps.
Buffy and Cordelia would probably drool over his present shoe collection then call him gay. He looked at the other piles of things. Books. A lot of books, a few journals, some magic books. Some weapons too. He really needed to secure his storage area better. He got to work sorting the new things into their areas of the small storage area. He heard someone moving outside but it was probably the vampire security guard. He went to check, finding it was Willow staring at his locker doorway oddly. "What?" he asked her.
"What are you doing?"
"Removing things from the vampires taking them back."
She grimaced. "That's stealing, Xander."
"They're dust. Do you really want the next one moving in to get his guns? Or magic books?"
"Magic books?" she asked flatly. "Why do *you* have magic books? You don't do magic! You know it goes wonky around you."
He huffed. "Because I found the demon that Buffy ended last month hoarding some and I haven't dropped them off on Giles shelving cart yet."
"Oh." She calmed herself. "Anything good?"
"I'm sorting the stuff we found tonight." He let her inside. She stared at the clothes pile. "That's going to Goodwill this weekend. I go each Saturday."
"I was wondering why you had dresses."
He gave her a dirty look. "You've known me how long?"
"That's why I was wondering. I knew you weren't cross-dressing." She looked around. "Wow, a lot of magic books. We should hand them to Giles tomorrow." She stared at him.
He pointed. "I'm more concerned that I found that earlier," he said.
She looked then kicked open the box, groaning at what was inside. "What are vampires doing with automatic rifles like you see in the movies?"
"I don't know, but we don't go out in body armor so I don't want them to have them. You?"
"No, I don't want them to have them either." She closed the trunk and relocked it. Then she looked at him. "You can't sell those."
"You can," he corrected. "You just have to be very careful or go a gun show."
"That's illegal and weapons dealing, Xander."
"Do you think they got them legally?" he shot back. "Or that we can turn them into the local police to have them destroy them? The vamps would get them back in a day, Willow."
"I know," she complained. "I don't have an answer for that." She sat on top of the box. "What if someone hears you have them?"
"The security guard's a vamp."
"Oh." She grimaced. "What if he breaks in?"
Xander pointed at the tripwire and crossbow setup he had pointing at the door, making her huff. "It works for now. I'm working on getting something more secure."
"Fine." She stood up. "Are you nearly done? Buffy was worried about you being flaky earlier."
"Why would she? She didn't really talk to me earlier." Willow glared. "You two chatted and I followed along. Not exactly like she was talking to me about Angel."
"Fine. Whatever. Are you nearly done?" He nodded, finishing his sorting duties. He rearmed his security system then came out to relock the door. They noticed the guard watching and smirked. "Padlocks good," he told Willow.
"Uh-huh. We need to find a way to hand those over before you get in trouble." She huffed off.
He shook his head. "Girl moods, which chaos god created them," he muttered as he followed to make sure she didn't get attacked. He paused to look at the guard. "Don't steal from me. Please?"
"The officers should hear that you found those, Harris."
"Why? They're the ones handing the vamps like you guns." The vampire smirked. "And if you do I can go take them right back." The vamp lost his smile. "Plus I'll be moving it soon." He left. Willow got walked home then he came back with his uncle's car. The local cops wouldn't stop him for not having a license. He found two vampires in his storage area and some things missing. They went whoosh and so did the guard when he came jogging over.
Xander kindly used their truck to move the rest of his stuff to a place he and Jesse used as a fort on many occasions when they playing in town. He had checked it a few times and no demons had ever been down there. Plus it'd be free to use and a lot bigger. He put the truck on the docks then jogged back to his uncle's car to sneak it back to his house. He went home and laid there thinking for the rest of the night. How much stuff was missing around town that was never reported? It might help the fight against the blood sucking, wandering, unthinking creatures that kept trying to sniff him.
Xander walked into a bar in LA over the summer, walking up to the bartender. "Hi."
"You're a bit young to be in here. We'll get busted if I serve you, kid."
"I hate alcohol," he said bluntly. "Not why I'm here." He put down a few polaroids he had taken last night. "I was told by Willie to come here about finding those."
The bartender looked at them then at him. "You *found* them?"
"Some of our bad guys left town. They left it. I need a good road trip fund," he offered with the goofy grin that made everyone underestimate him. Apparently the bartender was too. "Not like our PD is any good or I'd hand it over. I heard some people who aren't *bad* come here from Willie. I'd rather not give them to an asshole with a plan."
"I know plenty of assholes but legal ones don't usually have plans." He stared at the kid. "I can't believe you found that."
"I found more than that," he admitted. "That's just off the last few days." He grinned again. "I sent all the clothes to Goodwill before my female friends decided I'm gay and collecting them. The books went to our local school librarian because he collects them."
"Not a bad idea. Let me think and call. Sit in a corner so we don't get busted."
"Yes, sir." He went to do that. This was really freaky and making him feel a bit scared. Half the people in the bar could probably kill him if he looked at them or if they thought he looked at them. The rest were trying hard to be ignored. Some nearly had ignore-me spells going non-magically by blending in so well. Someone new came into the bar and the bartender looked at him then pointed and nodded at him. Xander sat up straighter. "Hi."
"How did you hear about here, kid?" he asked as he sat across from him.
"We have a pretty scummy, underground bar in Sunnydale. With alcoholic parents I know most of the bars," he said a bit nervously. This was really setting off his bad thing radar. "But anyway." He pushed over the pictures. "I don't want to keep them. I don't want to give them to an asshole with a bad plan. But I do want a road trip fund for after I finally graduate if possible. It'd be safer for the town if they got removed."
The guy nodded. "That's true. I've heard some bad things about your town."
Xander nodded. "We have a really high death rate already. I don't want to give them any more reason to go hunting my classmates, sir."
"I get that, kid. Relax."
"I can't. You're kinda scary."
The guy smirked. "Good. I should be at your age." He stared at him. "I've heard things about your town that included vigilantes?"
"Protection patrol since our cops don't come out at night? Yes I will admit to that. Which is why I found those. To be blunt, I don't want to face those down some night while we're patrolling."
The guy nodded. "That's making more sense then." He pushed them back. "How much were you thinking?"
Xander shrugged. "I have no clue what they're worth on the market. Willie was horrified that I had found some of what I have found. These are probably the nicer things but I have no clue. I'd settle for a nice reward for my future road trip."
"You're honest and not pushy. I like that. When can I see them?"
Xander head-nodded outside. "These three and one I *really* didn't want in town is in my uncle's trunk. That one I was going to walk into a local PD and give them. I scared the crap out of myself when I found it."
"I might be able to handle that for you."
"Sure." He got up and the guy followed him. He unlocked the trunk and let him look inside. The guy moaned. Xander looked at him. "Which is why I nearly panicked and went looking for a way to reduce the collection of found things again," he said dryly. He glanced at the case then at the guy. "I'm seriously wanting that one destroyed or handed to the proper people but I have *no* idea how to do that without busting myself."
"I know a few Feds I can trust," he said, shutting the trunk. "It was stupid to travel with it."
Xander shrugged. "How else was I going to let you see it and then give you the address for the rest of the stuff?"
"Good point," he admitted. "How much more?"
"Lots. Some books, some other stuff. I've been finding now for almost a year."
"That's reasonable with what we've heard about your town. Is it safe?"
"Yeah. Very safe. The only person who might realize it's there is my best friend and they disgust her. The mayor's people haven't seen it. Plus I have a very nice booby-trap on it if they do try to get in." He smirked. "Dye packs and things."
"That's not a bad idea." He looked at him. "Give me the address and meet me there in the morning? Can you skip classes?"
"I'm nearly a pro at that part," he admitted with a shy grin. He wrote down the address and handed it over. "Thank you."
"Welcome, kid. Head back and check on things." Xander nodded and got into the car to pull out and head off. He called his boss. "You won't believe why I got called to the bar, boss." He listened to the Major. "No, a young guy from Sunnydale found stuff. Oh, we need a contact to get rid of one. Definitely. No, I think he's got a pile and he's not sure what they're worth but he wanted to make sure they didn't go to anyone bad. Or as he put it, an asshole with a plan." He smirked. "I got the addy. He said he can skip tomorrow. Thanks." He hung up and went back to let them take the film from the camera setup he was wearing. That could help their armory a lot. And hey, the kid wasn't going to be pushy on the price as long as it was enough for a good road trip. Buying guns on the black market was always expensive. Especially when you were desperate for one.
Xander heard the heavy engine and got out of his sleeping bag the next morning, looking around. Still all there. He checked a few cases in case then went out to find the guy from last night, a guy about his age, and a dark-haired female. All clearly military trained. "Hey," he said quietly.
"Morning," his contact said. "Sleep well?"
"Not bad," he admitted. He led them inside and flipped the hiding switch he had paid the demon to put in. Everything appeared suddenly. He grinned. "Had to pay for it but it's really handy to hide from the girls I know."
The guy his contact had brought with them gave him an odd look. "You just...found it? Like lying around?"
"Like the bad guys left and left them," Xander said honestly. "I wasn't going to let someone else pick it up to use on us."
"No, that's reasonable, but half of those cases are illegal if they're what's marked on them."
"I think so. They might've come from the local reserve base, I'm not really sure. I know one was marked Maryland." He waved a hand. "Go look if you want." They went to look things over. They avoided the books, the jewelry, the other things; they just wanted the weapons. Though the female did give him a business card to a pawn shop with a smile. He grinned back, tucking it into his pocket. He didn't need so much girly jewelry. Not like he could give it to his girls. They'd complain that vamps used to own it.
His contact smirked at his boss. "This is the one he said he wanted to turn over, Major."
He looked. "I can see why. We can definitely do that for him." He looked at the kid. "You sure you don't have a set price?"
"I have no idea what they're worth," he admitted. "I figure they're really expensive on the underground markets but I have no idea how expensive. I also know going to guys like you, who probably aren't going to use them to destroy the US, would be a bit more honest so I can learn things but I'm still not going to do more than want a good road trip fund for after graduation," he babbled.
The Major nodded. "Not bad, kid." He looked things over. His coworkers took two outside to make sure they worked in the light. He had heard weird things about Sunnydale. They came back and nodded. "Okay, let's talk some serious business so you know in the future how much things are worth. Though, if I catch you selling artillery, I'd have to beat you then hand you over, kid."
"That's why I wanted a better good guy to have them."
"And our PD sucks monkey balls, sir. Really sucks. Half of this they gave to the ones I took it from."
"Even worse. You can come to us about that sort of thing. We have contacts who're legal and can give them back if they're stolen or use them for good, honorable means." Xander beamed and nodded. "Now, guns. Pricing varies, but generally you're looking at least a hundred a handgun on the open market. Depending on how panicked you are and where you are." The boy nodded, listening to what he told him. At the end, he gave the kid a very nice cash payment for his current collection. Then they called in a friend to get their truck to bring it home. The boy had found a loading door so that was nice enough. They left him alone and the boy was nearly hugging the money. They smirked at each other. It was odd, but a good buy and they needed to get it into better hands than some kid who did some minor town protection. Before he had a teenager fit and blew up his school or something.
"Sir," the Major said, walking up to where his contact was sitting. This one was an old pro at the covert work and his boss had told him to go to him as a source this time.
"Major Sheppard. You called a meeting?" He waved a hand at the free chair. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.
"We had a young guy walk into a black market bar the other night."
"Tell me this is a joke?" he demanded.
"Wish it was. What have you heard about Sunnydale? It's about three hours from here."
"Bad stats. Other than that, a lot of strange rumors. What did this kid find?"
"A little bit of everything. He was cleaning up behind some of their bad guys, as he put it. Found his stash of books, clothes marked for donation, jewelry, weapons, shoes." His contact groaned. "He had no idea what it was worth. He said all he wanted was a good road trip fund for after he graduates. He had some that he agreed should be handed over to someone in a more official capacity but he said their cops were crap?"
"It's the only town with under sixty thousand people, including the college, that has a twenty-five percent or better homicide and missing persons rate combined," he said quietly.
"So we were right, he had a good reason to be on their protection patrol."
"They have one?"
"I'll have to look into that." He sipped his coffee. "Anything really good?"
"Many, including some that got stolen. Which means I need to hand them to you to hand back. Some of them make us nervous."
"I can understand why," he agreed. "How bad?" He showed him a picture, making him choke. "That's bad," he said once he could breathe.
"No, that's about middle of the road."
"Did you give him a good fund?"
"Sixty grand. It was worth over a few mil on the market."
"That's good for you guys. Get plenty of new things?"
"A lot." He smirked. "Want to come see the toys that need to quit being petted by Benny Ray? Before he decides to adopt?"
"I can definitely do that." He paid his bill and they left together. Sometimes being a covert agent was a bit odd. Today was apparently one of those days. He followed him down to the bunker, looking at the things they had stacked against the walls. "Who had all this?"
"The people in Sunnydale that disappeared," the Major said dryly. "Which is why the kid found it."
"Sweet Jesus," he muttered, coming over to look things over. "Everything works?"
"Two've been cannibalized," Benny Ray admitted, pointing at them. "I tagged 'em, sir."
"Good work helping that boy."
"The bartender called me instead of someone we might buy off. They might've killed the kid. He said the kid was nervous, new at this, and had no idea what he was doing. But the pictures were probably a bad sign." He smirked. "Margo gave him the address of a pawn shop for the jewelry he had found."
"Even better." He looked it over. "We can hand them to the ATF people or the military since half of it was theirs."
"Whatever you want. Don't say where it came from?"
"I can slip that it's from a bad guy's stash that a teenager found and turned in for a reward to a covert operative I knew," he promised. That got a nod. "Let me get a truck."
"Use ours," Benny Ray said, tossing over the keys. "It's a rental anyway."
"Thanks." He smirked. "The boy happy?"
"All but hugged it like his teddy bear," Matt said dryly. "He's clearly new at all this."
"The Major there was even nice enough to tell him how much some things were worth on the market so he knew next time. He said he'd call us first anyway. We paid sixty for over 2.3 worth of stuff though. About half a mil that we can keep and use."
"Even better. Do we think there's more?"
"Yeah," Matt said dryly. "Probably."
"Crap." He went to find the truck and come back to get some help loading it into the back. This was going to be a long talk with someone.
Xander looked around the library when he came back from his day off doing things with his new money. "Hey, Buffy and Giles."
Buffy stared at him. "Why did you skip today?"
"I was doing a pawn shop run," he said blandly. "You know that stuff I got tangled in when I went to stake that one vampette?" She grimaced but nodded. "That stuff."
"Get anything good for it? We could use pizza," Buffy suggested.
"Yes but I had to put some money down on an apartment." He handed her a twenty. "Get us dinner." She beamed, going to do that in the office. "It's a research night anyway," he reminded her. He looked at Giles. "In the trunk of the car are some magic books I found in a nest. Did we want me to burn them?" he asked quietly. Giles was willfully ignoring all his new books from his hunting.
Xander shrugged. "Not like I checked, G-man."
"Do quit calling me that horrid nickname, Xander." He went with him to look, moaning at some of them. "Oh, dear."
"No, but some do contain some very powerful spells." He gathered them with the boy's help, carrying them inside. "Thank you for bringing me these. And the others of course," he said before they could walk in.
Xander smirked at him. "Not like I want them to have them. They might use them on us. Especially since I had to find someone to sell a gun to earlier." Giles gave him a horrified look. "Commando. Covert ops type, not a bad guy."
"That's good I suppose. Are you sure?"
"Looked him up online through Oz."
"Even better." He walked in, putting the books on the check-in desk. Buffy gave him an odd look. "He found magic books in a nest you two took out."
"We can't burn them?" she asked.
"They might be important. I was letting him make that decision," Xander told her.
"I guess that's okay. Do anything else good today?"
"I have a small studio up the street." She smirked at that. "So I can get out of the house."
"That's probably a good idea," she decided. "I hate going near your parents' house, Xander." She bopped him on the arm. "What're we looking up this time, Giles?"
He pointed at the books on the table. "The blue things that you spotted but couldn't catch."
"Blue, hairy? Looked like Cookie Monster?" Xander asked her. She nodded. "Gone. Left town late last night. You scared them off but they were harmless. I caught sight of one humping a tree and making it grow."
"Okay, so not a threat?" He shook his head. "Good!" She smiled. "No new ones coming up tonight in the paper either." The delivery boy came in and she paid him, taking the pizzas. She turned and found him vamped but Xander was staking him and taking the money back. "That's not nice."
"We can give the money to the guy at the shop. I wasn't going to let him bite you for your love of pepperoni, Buffy." He tossed her the money bag. She smiled and took the box with her to go. He shook his head, looking at Giles, who was staring at him. "What?"
"You saw a tree growing after it had...relations with it?"
"Yeah." He went to the classification manual that was out, flipping until he found it. "It looked like that only it was blue." He let him see it.
"Those are harmless," he agreed, handing it back. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome, Giles. I dropped the clothes they had too. That way someone more unfortunate and hopefully alive can use them."
"That's good of you. What else did you find?"
"Some limited artillery but it went with the commando guy." Giles went pale, gripping the desk. "That's why I went looking for someone honest to take them, Giles. I don't want that in town. Not even body armor would help that."
"True," he said weakly. "Is it gone?"
"Yup. Left town at ten. They have contacts to get rid of it properly he said."
"Excellent. Thank you for that."
He grinned. "Not like Buffy usually looks, Giles."
"No, not usually. Did you find anything else that was interesting?"
"One of Dru's dolls." Giles shuddered. "Exactly. I dropped it in a cemetery on the way here. Trust me, if I find other big things, you'll hear. I don't want to face a vamp with artillery or a big bomb."
"Thank you for showing some sense and some subtlety, Xander. It's very good of you. Though I do wish you didn't have this hobby at times."
He snorted. "Next time I'll let the vamps who move in next have it."
"No, I'd rather not have that. Any weapons we could use?"
"Yeah, I was going to bring them over later tonight and leave them in the book cage again. Oh, you're welcome for the poly-resin crossbow."
"It is very light and very nice," he admitted. "Thank you." Xander grinned and left to get his own dinner. Giles looked at the books. "At least he's protecting us all by taking them out of harm's way." He settled in to look over the books. Some he'd have to send on to the Council because the spells were too powerful to have even the hint of in the open. The rest, well he could use a few new books. Though he did wish the boy wasn't stealing that way.
Xander sighed as his friends needed artillery. Because he had sent off that last load not three days ago and he wasn't sure where to get the thing they needed from. But hey.... Well, there was the reserve base. His memories were very strong on what he could do. So maybe.... His contact would beat his ass though. But it wasn't going to be sold so maybe he wouldn't? He decided to say fuck it. He could take a spanking if necessary but the world ending would be bad and they'd hate that more. It was an interesting night. When he finally made it back to his crash pad, he had a message waiting on his machine. He knew who it was before even replaying it.
//You had better have had a *damn* good reason for that stunt earlier, kid,// Major Sheppard's voice said from the little answering machine. //Or else we will be talking soon.// Beep.
Xander sat down to get into the mall's security footage he had thought to grab then decided to send it to them in the whole. He copied it then sent it to them. That should pretty well explain it. And hey, messenger demons were wonderful things. They did it for the joy of traveling apparently. He summoned one and handed it over, letting it find the Major. Then he got some ice cream. He deserved it.
Benny Ray yelped as someone appeared next to him in the field. "What are you doing here?" he demanded quietly. It held up the tape. "From the kid?" The demon shrugged. He snatched it. "Thank you." It disappeared. Sure, they were playing midnight paintball to test some new field equipment but it still wasn't what he wanted to see. He ducked Margo's attempt to hit the back of his head. "Got a tape for the Major."
"Yay," she called. "Protect your six better."
He shot back at her, getting her, making her yelp at the sudden pain of the paintball hitting her leg. "Sure I will." He jogged off. He found Sheppard and handed him the tape. "Messenger demon."
"Charming." He looked it over. "Too bad we don't have a VCR out here."
Benny Ray shot him before he could be shot. "We have one in the SUV." He jogged off to get CJ, their last present member.
"Smart ass. Quit teaching the kid tricks," he called after him. He went to the car to watch the show. He fast forwarded to the point where a blue person showed up. "What?" he muttered. He rewound it by a few minutes, watching what was going on. It was...touching people who then passed out? Then the little blonde girl that his contact hung out with showed up with the boy, two other friends, and an artillery case. The same one he had been called about. They used it on the blue person who was killing others, making it into little blue blobs. He stared then rewound to watch it again more slowly. "Good form for being so tiny," he muttered, tipping his head slightly. Then he caught sight of something during the clean up. He slowed it down again to watch that. "It's regenerating," he said as Benny Ray and Margo leaned in. He let them see the whole thing.
"Means we shouldn't beat the kid," Benny Ray decided. "Yeah, the town's full of those sort of things, Major. That's what the kids hunt to protect everyone else. If we hadn't done the confiscating a few days earlier, he probably would've used something of his." He smirked at him. "He's got good style and she's clearly not the usual girl."
"Clearly not. But it's regenerating."
"Uh-huh," he agreed, nodding some. "Some things do that. I caught one he was tossing into a tree the time before last. He showed me some of them since he caught me following him on a patrol." He shrugged. "Apparently they needed it."
"Maybe," he decided, turning off the show. "Anything else from up that way?"
"Not yet." He climbed into his seat in the SUV. "Anyone want a burger on the way back?" he asked his teammates. "I'm starved."
Matt shook his head to clear it. "I could use a burger to go with my beers." He got in to drive, letting the other two have the back. He'd be thinking for a long time tonight to his beers.
Xander met Benny Ray outside of town eleven months later. "If I say we have to do something major that not even artillery will help kill, can you give me a second opinion before you take the stuff I had to load in the truck?"
"Someone found your hiding spot?"
"Yeah, the same sort of bad guy that's going to make us kill him." He handed over the keys and the plans. "I don't know what to do this time, Benny Ray. Giles said he planned it well enough. I don't think so. Mine are in there too." He gave him a helpless look. "Can we conveniently borrow a whole troop of Marines maybe?"
"That bad?" Xander nodded. "Need some of this to stay?"
"Hell no! He'll use it!"
"Okay." He unrolled the plans to look them over. "Two big faults. Where is this going to happen?"
"At the school. During graduation on Saturday."
Benny Ray stared at him for a minute. "You could've asked sooner."
"Giles didn't plan until last Friday. I've been doing what I can."
Benny Ray sighed. "He's not a planner, is he?"
"Crap." He looked it over again, shaking his head. "You have an outer and an inner force and no way to get civilians out of the way." He looked at the boy. "They'll be trapped in the crossfire and you'll end up sacrificing to keep them alive."
"That's what I thought." He pulled his out to show him. "I like this idea better but this area sucks to me."
Benny Ray looked then pointed. "An escape?"
"Not with what we're doing later."
He looked over the later part of the plan then nodded once. "Has to happen?"
"Yeah, the only way we can find."
Benny Ray looked at the normally bouncy young guy next to him. He looked so grim. Like this was his last battle ever and he didn't expect to walk away. "How did you get the ability to plan battles? When we first met, you couldn't stop bouncing. Then suddenly you have planning skills, artillery knowledge, base codes, all that. You stopped bouncing so much then too."
Xander gave him a sheepish look. "Remember the letter I sent you about that halloween?" The Marine sharp shooter nodded. "Then. I got turned into my costume like everyone else. By the way, you might tell the guy in Columbia to quit going with the hookers before he catches something." Benny Ray groaned. "I think his name's Deacon? Something like that."
"Basically. Memory download and I kept them. It's come in real handy now and then."
"I can see why, kid." He patted him on the back. "What's that?"
"A protection and anti-scrying amulet. It keeps flipping back there." He let him see, getting a smirk. "I don't want him to figure out I do this. He might try to do something mean and make me pay him back. I doubt he wants his office painted in Agent Orange or something since he's germphobic."
"Probably not." He went back to it. "You need a bigger unit than you have."
"Marines?" he asked hopefully, but grinned when the older man looked at him. "It'd help if the Calvary showed up too with tanks I think."
"It might at that. If we could get someone to believe it, I'd try." He looked at it again. "Anyone else in the school who can fight?" Xander nodded after a moment's thought. "Good fighters?"
"No. But I can get them enough to help me make a stand so the spectators can clear out. They know Buffy's the reason why we have such a low death rate suddenly. They said so at the prom."
"Then that could help. Make it volunteer only."
"I can do that. I won't pressure anyone. No one needs to sacrifice themselves this way." He got into the truck and handed him something. "If I don't come out of this, that's my storage area with the records I have of where I keep finding things. That's also the mayor's storage area where he gets his dirty cops to store things for him to hand to the demons. That's also my bank account and will. Plus where my lockbox is in my apartment. That's got my hunting journal and cash in it." Benny Ray nodded, tucking it into his pocket. He gave him a hug. "Be safe. Stay away from Sunnydale until you hear it on the news. Thanks, man." He walked off. "It's a rental. I prepaid for milage to LA."
"Good luck, kid." He watched him walk off. "He'll need it," he muttered, getting into the truck. Margo had ridden up with him but had stayed in the truck this time for some reason. She could follow him back. He'd deposit the money into the kid's bank account for him this time. By the time he got back, he was really worried and the Major had a file in his hands. "We should stay local."
"Why? We have a consulate hostage situation."
"Xander's got a battle during his graduation," he said quietly. Matt gave him a horrified look so he showed him the plans he had kept.
"Damn it!" he muttered.
"He said to stay away this time, at least until we heard it on the news, but he also jokingly asked for some Marines and the Calvary."
"I'd want it too." He stared at it. "We might be back in time. We can call some local contacts to watch out for it and to help if it doesn't get solved." He handed over the original plans. "That's bad."
"The kid changed it some." He let him see that. "I suggested he take volunteers."
"That's probably going to help him." He looked it over. "How did he learn how to plan?"
"Remember when he changed? Right after a halloween he complained about? The one with the British guy he said to not go near if we ran into him or possibly just shoot him before he screwed us up?" Matt nodded slowly at that. "Someone nicely turned him into his costume. He said he's a guy named Deacon and he's down in Columbia sucking up the local working girls while working the same job."
"I've heard about him."
"He said to tell him to quit going after hookers before he catches something."
Matt shook his head. "No thanks. Don't know him that well. Hold on, he got his *memories*?"
Benny Ray smirked at him. "Yes, including those base codes. That's apparently how he got onto the base that time before that blue guy."
"No wonder," he muttered. He rubbed his forehead. "We've got seventeen local former military guys I know and trust. We can warn them if we're not back in time, plus some of the harder underground contacts might help too."
"Let me get on that," Margo offered quietly. She looked at the plans. "He's not a bad kid. Just a bit strange."
"With what he does all night, I'd be strange too," Benny Ray assured her. He looked at his boss. "So?"
"So," he agreed. "Hostage situation first, then a major battle if we can get back in time." He let them see it while Margo started to call around to warn others. It might be necessary for them to help.
Xander plopped down next to the old man who was in the park watching the sunset that Saturday. "It's not safe out here," he said quietly.
He looked at him. "I realize that."
"He'd be pissed if I let you die tonight." He stared at the old man. From the halloween memories he knew the guy had trained the one whose BDU's he had worn. "I can't let them have you."
"You did good. A lot like some I've trained, kid."
He grinned. "You should hear about that Halloween sometime, Captain." He stood up. "Walk you to your car?"
"Want to go military?" he counter offered.
Xander shook his head. "It's more important that I help here. Even when they don't see me."
"I can understand that. A soldier's duty is his life, even when he's reviled for it." He stood up, looking the boy over. "It's a never-ending war, boy."
"I know. The same as I know some day I'll either die or pass on my duties to someone I've helped train. Just like you did. I'm hoping for the second but I'm realistic."
"Good. I've heard good things about you from the boys in LA."
Xander grinned. "Tonight I'm going to raid some of the giant worm's stuff since he won't be needing it." The captain laughed, clapping him on the back. "Thank you and the others for helping with that outside force. It was more than we expected and it was very handy to have."
"I'll tell them that. Then in the morning when they all have hangovers." He walked off, the kid walking beside him. "You could use some formal training."
"I know. I don't know who can do it though."
"That's a good point. It'd take years to get the military training I gave my boys." He looked at him. "I'll talk to Sheppard, see if he knows of anyone."
"How did their hostage thing go?"
"FUBAR." Xander winced. "It happens but they handled it well enough. Only a few injuries and minor ones at that." He pulled out his keys to turn off his car alarm. "I hope you find a way to pass on the calling too, kid. Let's hope it's good for you."
"I kinda hope that we don't lose anytime soon too. Ending the world would suck."
The captain smirked. "It definitely would. Be safer, boy. He's not the only bad thing out there. There's still other bad politicians."
"Yeah but not here yet. When they do, we'll hopefully realize it before we did about him." He watched him get in and drive off. Then he went to Buffy's house, finding her and her mom in jammies in front of a girly movie. "I thanked the guys who helped with the outer force," he told her, staring at her. "They're all off now."
"Did we lose any there?" she asked.
"One got a bit clawed and then trampled but he's already been released from the ER. They're also the ones who got the rescue teams there so quickly."
"That's good then." She smiled. "Now what?"
"Now, I go on my road trip. You have a diary entry to write tonight probably. Then we'll come back together again this fall."
"Have fun and be safe, Xander. You know what happens if you date or anything."
He snorted. "Yeah, like that's my main worry on a road trip. I'm more worried about muggers and road rage." He hugged them both then left to pack. Then he went to do some warehouse raiding with a rental truck he conveniently found near one of them. Turned out the cops were doing the same thing. Pity when he tranq darted them. The things you learned working with a werewolf who locked himself up in a weapons locker.
Matt and Benny Ray walked into the bar together, Benny Ray leaning on Matt since his ankle was in a cast at the moment. "Any messages?"
"Two, sir," the bar girl said, holding them up. "Both from the same people."
He took them with a smile. "They managed it." He read the second one. "Awww, he left us a present before he left."
"Probably. He said he didn't sort though." They went up to the office, Benny Ray putting up his foot on the desk's bottom drawer. "Better?"
"Much, thanks." He took them to look over. "Margo!" he bellowed. She came walking into the office a few minutes later. "Sorry, too sore to hop."
"I figure you are. What's wrong?" He handed over the second message. She read it and grimaced. "He didn't sort them?"
"Apparently he didn't have time before he left on his road trip," Matt said dryly. "Thanks, Margo."
"Should I wear decontam gear in case of fleas or other bugs?" she asked dryly.
"Probably not. He said it's his working stuff so probably magic crap, more weapons, that stuff."
"Even better. I'll wear really thick gloves." She went to handle that.
Matt called in the captain that had trained him. Inviting him for a beer was a good way to get a sit rep and find out what he thought about the boy. He went down when he got told he was there. "Captain."
"Sheppard." He shook his hand. "How was South America?"
"Hot and muggy, same as last time." He got them good beers and sat down in a corner with him. "Anything I should hear from up there? Benny Ray's nearly fussing himself to hives over it." He took a sip.
The captain waited until the young pup swallowed to answer. "It went and it wasn't pretty. I've seen full battles that weren't pretty but that one was bad." He took a drink, then sighed. "The boy needs more than implanted memories."
"I realize that. We have no idea how to get him those."
"I offered him a military spot. He said it's his duty and calling to be there."
"I can see why. He helps handle some pretty impressive stuff."
"Yes, but those ones around him aren't supportive." He took another drink. "One of us took a camera's tape if you wanted to watch it. He got some volunteers. He commanded. He didn't do too badly either." He took another drink. "Some of us are still having nightmares though."
"That's why I asked for people to go watch his six. He pull through okay?"
"Arm's aching it looked like. A bit depressed. Went raiding stuff later that night to cheer himself up."
"We got that truck here somewhere. Margo's handling it."
"Good of her." He smiled. "He'd do good things with a good trainer."
"He would if he could give up the hunt. There's not many legal jobs that can let you do that, even in the military."
"He's a good tracker. I can definitely see him doing that part. Or even hunting down people who have escaped." He finished his beer and stood up. "He'll survive the trip. Headed right to Vegas too. Did you remember to pay him?"
"I did right before we left." He smirked. "He win big?"
"Met two hookers who tried to take him out, one who used to be a covert operative and decided this paid better and made her bend over less. The other was probably demonic. Didn't do any good at the tables but he walked away after a few hundred lost. Gawked like a tourist then headed south and east. I'm alerting all my former good students to look out for him if he's local to them." He walked off smiling. That boy did bring some energy back into his life. He hadn't seen a screw up that bad do so good in years.
Matt went back up there. "We paid him, right?"
"Yeah, right before we left."
"I thought I had." He sat. "He raided, then left for Vegas. Found two working girls that tried to kill him, then headed south before going east. He's having his people watch out for him. Maybe one of them can talk him into taking some formal training."
"He doesn't have that kind of time to spare or else I'd offer," Benny Ray admitted. Margo beeped them both. He stared at his, then snickered. "She doesn't like the truck's content apparently."
"Let me go see how bad it is." He went to the private garage the kid had rented a space in, finding her sitting on the trunk's bumper. "That bad?"
"Not really. We need to melt some of it down before someone gets a bright idea." She let him raise the back gate to look at things. "I asked the guys at the gate. He's got another truck in a free spot." Matt moaned at the magic items, ancient weapons, and books in there. Some were clearly made of things that should make humans want to vomit. They went to look in the other truck, finding the usual in there. Clothes, weapons, computer gear for some reason this time. Margo looked at him. "Get a bonfire license?"
"I can do that for those books in flesh." He went to call a contact in City Hall so they could hold a good bonfire. Some of that was very creepy.
Xander grinned as he walked into the bar five months later. "Hola." He smiled at Margo, who swatted at him. "What?"
"For that necklace. It tried to strangle me."
"Me too, and she wanted to use it as a sex toy. Which is why I got it out of there and put the warning sticker on it before I sent it to safety." She handed it over to him. He grinned. "Thanks. Think I can give it to Buffy?"
"Why? What'd she do this time?" Benny Ray asked from behind him. He sat, looking at the boy. "That bad?" he asked at the amused look.
"Well, yeah. By the way, can you guys tell me anything about a military unit that's working in my town?" They stared. He nodded. "Torturing them for scientific reasons. It hit all the way to Texas."
"Excuse me?" Margo asked. "That's illegal." Xander handed over the notes he had taken from his interviews and discussions with various people. She looked it over then him. "That's illegal."
"That's what I thought. Buffy's supposed to be dating one. Which is why I think she'd look really nice in that necklace."
Matt walked down the stairs. "Welcome back to California, Xander. Good trip?"
"Bit strange. Lots of bad girls. Won a bit my second time through Vegas. Ran into the Captain again in Minnesota when I saved him from a thing trying to eat his grandson. Ran into a few other hunters who had no idea about Sunnydale." He shrugged. "Then I started to hear rumors about a military group working in my town and Buffy dating one."
Margo handed over the notes. Matt sat down to read them. "That's very bad."
"Which I'd like to not be picked up by," Xander admitted. "Then we'll see I guess. Oh, did you burn those books?" They all nodded. "Thank you. I would have but I wanted to get out of town before a few of them decided I was tasty that night." He shrugged. "Apparently I managed to spill some blood during the battle."
"I figured you would have," Benny Ray admitted. "Accidental swipe?"
"Not really sure but one told me I had lost my blood innocence so I smelled better." He shrugged. "I don't know why but I left so it wouldn't matter."
"That's probably reasonable with what you guys handle," Matt agreed. He handed back the notes. "I haven't heard a thing about them."
"'Kay. If I hear more, can I pass on notes and maybe have you guys tell someone so we can make them go away? They're supposedly infecting our college somehow."
"We might be able to do that," Matt agreed. "Programs like that are bad for everyone." Xander beamed at that. "Find anything nice on your trip beyond the choking necklace?"
"She said it was a sex toy. That's why I sent it somewhere safer. I figured maybe she knew someone who could use it." He pulled out a set of keys with a grin. "Found it in Texas at a cult's compound. They were demonic. The locals were liking them though." He smirked. "That's a civic duty since the head guy wanted all the virgins to sacrifice. One of his wives came after me to become an acolyte."
Matt shuddered. "Gone?"
"Fully. That's where I ran into some hunters too. They were not happy plaid flannel wearing, truck driving, shotgun using guys. Said I was too flashy. I used one of their smoke grenades," he said more quietly. "I found more helping handle it later that night and they were cooler about it." They all nodded and grinned at him. "But anyway, that's just toys. Minor toys but toys. I'm off to find a real job and beat my friends for not writing for over a month. Need anything or have you guys heard anything is coming our way up there?"
"Not yet," Matt told him. "Call when you need to dump stuff."
"I always do. I like you guys. You're honest, good people who do good things for the world." He gave him a pointed look then grinned at Benny Ray. "Someone offered me a bluetick hound if I'd marry his sister to get her away from the total dirtbag with a mullet she was dating. Is that a fair trade?"
"Depends on how good the hound is and how pretty she was," Benny Ray admitted. "Plus how easy she'd be to divorce later on."
"Champion lines, she was a cheerleader but back row pretty. Guy was driving a t-bird that had bondo and pink parts along with the midnight blue."
"Then it might've been a fair trade."
"I took the easier one and beat the guy for him since he had approached me while I was losing horribly at pool with him. Still said I could have the dog. Said she's too big a puppy and won't quit bouncing sometimes in the woods."
Benny Ray smirked. "Do we possibly have a dog?"
"In the car," he sighed. "I like dogs, but I'm not sure she won't be eaten at home."
"Probably," Margo agreed. "I can't have pets."
"Let's see her, she might be trainable," Benny Ray said. "My ex wife trains them." Xander took him out to see the dog. She loved on him so much he had to push her away from his face a few times before she settled down. Xander let her go mark a parking meter then hop back into her comfy seat. "She's young."
"I have no clue. My father ran over my last pet so he wouldn't have to buy it food."
Benny Ray squeezed his shoulder. "Papers come with her?" He dug them out of the glove box with a grin. "Let's give you to my ex-wife. She'll love you. Thanks, kid."
"She's a friendly, happy puppy but I know some sucker would bite her some night at home if I trained her to help us patrol."
"Have a good trip." Xander grinned and got in to head home. He walked the dog inside. She stayed with him so she had some training. "She's a happy, bouncy dog like he is." He sat down. She stared then hopped up in his lap to lick his face some more. "Quit that," he complained, dodging the tongue. "Get Margo."
"No thank you." She got out of the way of the tongue of doom. Matt scratched her ear, getting a moan of pleasure. "Let me call around about that program, guys." She fled before the dog got attached to her.
"Your ex will be happy with her," Matt said.
"I think so. Plus she can use her to teach my boy how to train 'em too." He called her, dodging the tongue as often as he could. "No, don't lick me. Settle down, dog." His ex laughed in his ear. "Someone got given a registered 'tick hound if he beat up on some other guy's brother. Girl. Fairly young and got a tongue on her." He dodged another swipe. "Lick him for a minute." The new bar girl came over to coo over her. "Thanks." He listened to her. "She's cute. Very friendly, a bit bouncy, but walked beside me properly. That's what I was thinking, letting our boy learn how to train on her. Yup, papers and all." He looked at them. "Champion line through her bitch. Two generations back in the stud's side. At the bar. I can bring her out if you want. Thanks." He hung up. "She said to bring her out after dinner."
"That's fine. Let's look at the minor toys he found then you can drive her out."
"Can I watch her?" the bar girl begged. "She's adorable and loving. So much better than the guys who hit on me."
"Sure," Matt agreed. "Make sure you clean up after her." She beamed and took her behind the bar to play with her until more customers came in. He and Benny Ray walked out shaking their heads outside. The current bar girl was very cutesy at times. Which was probably why she hadn't hit on Xander. The minor toys ended up being a good load but useful if they weren't stolen. They put them in for an official check while Benny Ray took the dog to his ex-wife's trailer. Matt went to enjoy watching his bar girl duck the drunken passes. It was cute when she pouted one out of it. Cordelia was a good hire. Especially since she had laughed at and snarked back at the guys who had wanted to rob the bar last week. It had been nice to see them stomp off pouting in misery about her taunts.
Xander walked up to where Buffy was staking something, getting the one trying to sneak up behind her. "I'm home, beloved, did you make dinner?" he quipped.
She spun around, giving him a horrified look. "We are *so* not like that, Xander."
"Duh, Buffy, I was teasing," he said with a grin. "How was your summer?"
"Did yours go bad?" she guessed. "You look tired."
"I drove most of the day. I even managed not to bring home a dog."
"Dog?" she asked, sounding tired.
"Yeah, some guy offered me a dog in exchange for beating his sister's boyfriend."
"A friend in LA has a wife who trains hunting dogs. I gave her to him since she's one."
"Even better." She looked him over. Then into his eyes. "You didn't lose weight, you're not scruffy, torn, scratched, or hurt. Did you make it out of the state?"
"Yeah, made it all the way to DC actually. Ran into a few small problems." She smirked at that. "A demon cult leader in Texas who wanted virgins. Those rogue demon hunters we heard mentioned. Two hookers who tried to kill me. Hit Vegas going each way. Lost five hundred the first time, won it back the second."
She gave him an odd look. "You won?"
"Yeah, I did," he offered with a grin. "I have no idea how but I did. The girls were nicer on the second trip."
"Huh. You found and dated good girls who didn't go bad?"
"Dated, no," he admitted dryly. "Speaking of, what's this I hear about yours? All the way to Texas by the way."
She blinked a few times. "There's rumors about who I'm dating in Texas?"
"Yeah," he repeated. "Big, huge, bad crap," he said quietly, staring her down.
"He's a nice guy and he understands." He handed over his notes. She read and got paler and paler. "Where?"
"Some councils, some others who came to talk to me when they recognized me. A few I hunted down and asked. Speaking of, I need to tell Willie his sister's son says hi. Walk you that way?"
"Sure," she decided, reading as she walked. She absently staked a vampire on the way. Then she handed them back. "I want proof, not demonic rumors."
"That's why I showed you, Buffster." He smiled at her. "So you can find out."
He nodded. "Welcome. Got you a good set of postcards, a few t-shirts, and a few other things too in the car."
"Wow. You had spending money?"
"Yup." He walked her into the bar a few minutes later, nodding at Willie. "Your sister's boy said hi and his bar is nicer than yours."
"His is newer, he hasn't had to remodel yet due to commandos."
"I heard that."
Willie stared at him. "Want a map?"
"Why would I need a map, Willie?" He smirked. "I did play all around town since I could run around with Jesse." The demon gave him some directions. "I wondered about that." He tucked them into his back pocket. "Goes well with what I heard about pod military people on campus too, huh?" Willie nodded.
"You know about this stuff?" Buffy demanded. The demonic bartender nodded quickly. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't want captured," he said bluntly. "You're dating one of them, slayer."
She sat on a stool, looking at him. "Xander gave me notes about rumors. What do you know?" Willie sighed, staring at her. "I can threaten you if you want but I'm exhausted from classes earlier. I mean, who gives papers in college."
Xander shook his head. "Another good reason for me not to go." Buffy shot him a dirty look. "Not like I like writing papers." He looked at the bartender, handing over the notes. "That's what I heard."
He read them over. "Less than the reality." Buffy slumped further. "Nothing's ever gotten out except Spike."
"He disappeared and couldn't tell us what they did," she complained.
Xander patted her on the back. "We'll find him sometime soon." He looked at Willie. "Got concrete evidence?"
"A lot of business that left one way or another." He looked at her. "You have bad taste according to some clans." She swatted him. "You do."
Xander nodded. "Any idea why that second hooker wanted to kill me?"
"She was doing that job so therefore was evil already?" Buffy suggested.
Xander shook his head. "One was a former covert agent type who thought that was nicer as a career."
"She was a demon, but not one of the bad ones. Something told her if she did, she'd get paid for it."
"Any relation to this problem?"
He shrugged. "That I don't know."
"Even better. Thanks, Willie. Try to stay in business." He walked her out, looking down at her. "So?"
"Sure, call Wills. We'll do presents if I can crash on your mom's couch tonight." She beamed and did that, taking him to the house once he had picked up his car. "Hi, Joyce."
"Xander!" She hugged him, then pulled back to look at him. "You look good. Was it a good trip?"
"Pretty decent outside of a demon cult and two hookers." Buffy blushed but her mother laughed and gave him another hug. "I promised to give out presents if you'd let me have the couch tonight. Can I bum?"
"Go ahead, dear." She went to make them snacks since the group was always hungry. Willow burst in and flung herself at Xander to hug him. She came out. "That's good to see." She put down snacks and went back for drinks. Buffy and Xander were getting things out of his car.
Buffy spotted the hidden cash stash and looked at him. "Vegas money?"
"Road trip fund." He put it into his pocket. "There, one last bag."
"Why am I carrying it?"
"Never mind then." She walked inside with him once he had locked the car up and turned on the car alarm again. She sat, letting Xander hand over the other presents. Two he tucked out of the way. "Um, you didn't hear Oz hit Tibet?"
"No, I heard. That's for Giles and someone else." Joyce was cooing over the pictures and other things he had found her. Buffy was smiling at the shell jewelry and t-shirts. Willow was humming over her postcards. They apparently liked them. He nibbled while they did and explained each spot to them. It wasn't a bad homecoming.
Xander found Buffy's boyfriend out and about on campus the next morning. "You'd be Captain Finn," he said loudly enough to be heard across the grass he was standing on. The guy flinched and glared at him. "Hi. Xander Harris, Buffy's backup." The guy took a step back but he was trying to sneer. "I hate to tell you this, but my ex, Cordelia, sneered *so* much better." He walked closer, sneering now. "I've heard about your little problems. There's rumors all over the US about your program, idiot boy. Clearly, subtle is not a language you speak." He stared him down. "Leave Buffy the hell alone and don't drag her down with you. Or else I will make sure the next apocalypse likes you guys. There's always one coming and they always want victims. Am I clear?"
"You can't do that."
Xander laughed. "Yeah, I can. As a matter of fact, that little lack of subtlety? Had a talk with someone in DC about it when I was there." The boy went pale. "I see you see the problems going on by working inside the US illegally."
"Xander!" Buffy complained.
He grinned at her. "Threatening him to treat you right, Buffster. Or else I'll make the next apocalypse want him as a butt boy. I'm sure I can bait and switch him so they want him more than me."
"Probably if it's female," she said dryly. She swatted him on the arm. "Willow already gave him a shovel speech."
Xander smirked. "Shovels are too nice for some people, Buffy. Big, strong, Midwest boys like him need something heavier than a shovel. She'd only get sore wrists. I can find more artillery."
She smiled at him. "I like that about you." She swatted him again. "He won't treat me wrong."
"He'd better not." He smirked at Riley. "Will he?"
"No, I won't," he said firmly. He stared the boy down but the boy's smirk got worse. "Back for good?"
"Yuppers. Had my vacation road trip, saw a lot of the US, talked to some very interesting people, all that. Even won some in Vegas."
"That's good. So, are you going on patrol again?"
"I do most every night," he said blandly, looking at Buffy. "That warehouse by the docks? Is it on the list?"
"Why?" she asked. "Nest?"
"Yup. Nearly walked into it earlier while looking at jobs open down there. At least sixty vamps I caught playing minion poker."
"Eww. That's worse than kitten poker."
"Yeah," he admitted. "But they're minions. They don't get a say."
"I know. Still disgusting when they trade them to abuse."
"I won't complain if they stake them though," he countered.
"Good point. As long as they stake them, then they shouldn't have been turned anyway. Maybe the demons in them like it too. Who knows with minions." She smiled at her boyfriend. "You were headed for the dorm?"
"I was going to see if you were done for the day so we could hit the caf for lunch."
"Sure. I could eat." She took his arm. "Be a good boy, Xander. Mom wouldn't like you giving him the extended shovel talk."
"Who do you think sent me?" he shot back, giving her a look.
"She said she liked him more than Angel."
"Um, yeah, he's living."
"Oh. Well I guess Mom won't always like who I'm dating. C'mon, Riley. See you at the Magic Box later?"
"I'm going to pop in on Giles in a few hours anyway. Have fun in class." She made a grossed out face as she walked Riley off. "Remember what I said about the artillery meeting your insides, Finn." He walked off muttering. That was *so* not good. He ran into Willow and a shy girl. "Hey." She gave him a horrified look. He smirked. "Have we hacked his records yet?"
"He's not bad."
"Yeah, he is."
"No, he's good to her, Xander."
"Willow, he's not a good guy." She slumped and pouted. "I'm sorry but no. Especially not with how Spike got away from his people." She gave him a horrified look. He smirked back. "He's army if it helps. A Captain."
"I'll look him up later."
"Decent. Finding an apartment, I'll see you at the Magic Box?" He smiled at the blonde girl trying hard to get the ground to swallow her. He stroked her cheek. "If you're precious to Willow then that's fine with us. As long as you're good to her, decent over all, and don't try to do bad things to the group." She gave him a horrified look. He stared back. "If you're good together, we're not going to mind. We like her being happy. The same as I'd love to see Buffy date a nice guy once." She gave him a hesitant smile. "Relax. I'm only evil if you are. If you were, you'd be trying to date me instead of Willow so we know you're not." The girl burst out laughing. "Good girl. I'm going to find a spot to park my tapes and tv. See you guys tonight." He looked at her. "Good choice. She's sweet."
"She is, but you can't steal her."
"What would I do with a lesbian?" he asked dryly. "Beyond ask her to make me cookies?"
"Good point," she admitted. She relaxed again. "See, I told you one of them would give you the shovel talk," she told her girlfriend.
"Shovels are for girls, Wills. But I doubt we'll need one for Miss Tara." He smiled at her. "She's a good girl." He walked off with a wink for her.
"He's so full of macho bullsnot sometimes," she said.
"He was nice," Tara said quietly. "Very nice."
"He is. We've been friends for years." She pulled her girlfriend closer to snuggle subtly while they studied together. She'd worry about Buffy's bad news boyfriend later.
Xander walked into the Magic Box, looking around. "Damn, it's even more packed than when you used to send us down for candles."
"Xander!" Giles said happily from behind the counter. "You're just now back?"
"Last night. Gave out most of the presents then." He handed Giles' over to him. "That's your part of the present pile." He grinned, looking around again then at him. "Joyce sent me to threaten Riley."
"I'm not exactly fond of the boy." He stared at him. "You know something," he realized.
"Yeah, a lot. He's bad. He's part of why Spike had to escape."
"Oh, yeah. Rumors all the way to Texas about her boyfriend. I talked to her about it first. She seems to have forgotten all about that."
"He's had some negative influence on her already. She's not training as often or patrolling I'm afraid. Though things seem to have calmed down."
Xander nodded. "Because all the others are in custody."
"Oh, dear," he muttered. "We're sure?" Xander handed over his notes. He read through them. "I'd like some proof."
"She asked Willie. He said those are too light for the full reality."
"I see." He put them aside. "I'll talk with her."
"Thanks. I did, you might get through easier." He leaned on the counter. "So, I'm back. There's a new nest or play area in a warehouse." Giles let him have the map so he could mark it. "There's that. I'm living here," he said, writing it down for him. "I'm on to start day work at the docks tomorrow." Giles nodded. "Then we'll see what happens until I can find a real job."
"That's fine. One of the harmless demons told Buffy that you were hunting on your road trip? In Texas perhaps?"
"No, I was approached by a demonic cult leader to be an acolyte to his cult of sacrificing virgins. I decided there were better uses for virgins than black magic." He gave him a look. Giles smirked at that. "Yeah, I used their own gas on them and got them down. Ran into those rogue demon hunters Wesley told us about. They didn't know a thing about us so we had a beer and a long talk that night."
"Good. Are they coming here?"
"Not at the moment. They were off hunting other things. They did say they'd pass around that the town here was a hellmouth and what that was. That way if an apocalypse gets past us, someone has a clue and will realize what's happening when it does."
"That's a reasonable precaution," Giles decided. "That way they can stop it if we should fall."
Xander nodded. "Definitely. We'd need the help." The front door of the shop got blown up.
Xander woke up with a gasp of air. He rubbed his forehead. "I don't like those," he decided. "Fucking cult bitch just had to make me have visions." He calmed himself and got up to write down what he saw happening. Just in case they did come for him. He wasn't going to go quietly but if they came for him, he'd be ready and warned. He looked around the Summers living room. Well, when he went to threaten Riley tomorrow he'd have to be more subtle apparently.
Xander found Riley and his 'friends' by their 'frat house', taking some quick pictures while seeming to screw with his phone. He looked up and found one glaring at him. "What? I came to meet my bestest buddy's new boyfriend. That way he knows I'm going to destroy him if he screws with her." He put his phone back, staring at Riley. "Hi. If she mentioned Xander, I'm him."
"She said a few things."
"And yet you saw us at grad." Riley went pale. "I recognized one of your little minions of fratboy stupidity there from one of the guys helping evacuate." He smirked. "He didn't tell you?"
"He did report that."
"Hmm." He moved closer, looking him over. "Midwest boy clearly. Idaho or Iowa I'd say. I always get those two confused." Riley nodded slowly, staring him down. He smirked. "You do know that there's rumors all the way across the US about who she's dating? I heard about you two in Texas before I had to help end a black magic cult that wanted me."
Riley cleared his throat. "Really?"
"Really." He smirked. "She was very chatty and very nice. She even made really good cake. She's the one who told me why the cult wanted me and the local virgins too."
"Interesting. Did they say I treated her well? Because I do. I'm not mean to her. I'd never make one of you kick my butt."
Xander smirked. "Kicking butt is for minor things. Automatic weapons, whips, chains, and vampires are for abusive boyfriends." He stared him down, making sure he got the point.
"I'd never hurt her."
"Good. Because the rumors said a few things about some wild...moments that've happened since you two met the first time, before you even knew her name."
Riley went pale. "You heard about that?"
"The caveman beer, and later on." He looked at the watching minions. "Don't worry, if he hurts her, I'll make sure you can either watch if you helped or egged it on, or you can run away screaming my name as a prayer for mercy." He looked at Riley again. "Never, ever hurt my girls. I'm a very protective friend over them. Willow may have a shovel, but I can raid a nest," he said quietly. The guy nodded quickly. "Good. Then we understand each other perfectly." He saluted him then walked off still smirking. "I'll see her later at the Magic Box. Tell her I'm finding an apartment today since I've got a semi-decent part time job."
"Sure," he said weakly. That was strange in many ways. He looked at his men, who shrugged at that. Though, why did he salute him? Did he know.... rumors all over the US? "Let's go talk to the Doctor," he said quietly. "I'm not sure if he should be watched or not."
"The girl said he was a normal who jumped in," his second-in-command Graham said.
"Maybe," Riley said. "But I saw into his eyes. He'll kill us if we get her hurt." They all nodded at that. Riley didn't want to admit it but he was almost scared of the guy.
Xander walked into the Magic Box, finding his girls in there. "Met your asshole," he told Buffy. "Made sure he knew I'd ruin his future and soul if he got you hurt or hurt you in any way."
She groaned. "Xander! You're not my brother."
"Shut up." He looked at her. She slumped and nodded. "I was even subtle. I told him his buddies could run away begging and praying for mercy if they didn't help." She smiled weakly at that. "But I now have an apartment to find furniture for and decorate if one of you lucky, nice girls wanted to help. Or Tara of course, Willow." She squeaked, giving him a scared look. He smirked. "She sounds nice from what I heard. Shy, sweet, nice, gentle, knows what she's doing. I'd like to meet her to make sure she's all that they said since she sounds like an incarnation of the Goddess. Because good girlfriends should be talked into making us research cookies."
Willow relaxed. "How did you hear about her?"
"I was out earlier by the docks getting a job. Nearly walked into a nest." Buffy moaned. "They were playing minion trading poker." She whined. He shrugged. "Yay. Ran into one of the harmless ones and a former co-student. She told me the gossip from that way." She smiled at that. "Oh, and saw Harmony as a vamp for some reason." Buffy made more whining noises. "She sneered then fled when I reached for a weapon."
"That's probably not going to make Cordy happy," Buffy said.
"I saw her at her current job. She was being a cute rollerblading bar girl." He sat beside her on the couch in there. "So, Giles, patrol tonight?"
"There's not been much going on, Xander. How was your trip?"
"Mostly good. A bit freaky in Texas and when a former agent turned working girl tried to kill me. You know, the usual," he finished blandly. Giles cracked at that, shaking his head and moaning. He grinned.
"You're joking, correct?" he asked patiently.
"Oh, dear," he sighed, pulling off his glasses to clean.
"Mom thought it was really funny," Buffy told him.
Xander nodded. "Me too looking back on it. Ran into a few of those rogue demon hunters Wesley told us about." Giles gave him an interested look. "They had no idea what a Sunnydale or a hellmouth was. So we had a talk in case something gets past us some year. That way some nice hunter who has some experience can step in if we fall."
He smiled. "That's sensible. Did you learn anything off them?"
"They salt and burn ghosts instead of banishing. Do it to the graves. They have a devil's trap that traps the sort of demon that possesses things. They've never run into a witch that didn't get their powers from a demonic deal. I cleared up that one with some examples. That way they wouldn't show up to get ours." He grinned at Willow, who gave him a hug. "Thanks."
"Thank you for protecting me."
"I knew you didn't make a demonic deal. They can't bake either." He looked at Giles again once she had swatted him. "Other than that, nothing seemed to be going on by the docks. The foreman said they'd had some disappearances of some of their best people though."
Buffy nodded. "We've had more missing people complaints from bosses than we have vamps coming up."
"Oh, saw Spike. He was where Harmony ran to." Willow whined. "Sorry but yeah. So maybe he's wanting a new princess since rumors say that Dru's in Brazil."
"That's not much better than doing Dru," Buffy decided. "She's kinda...vacant instead of having scrambled brains."
"Definitely," Xander agreed. "She was literally sneering that I matched."
Buffy looked him over. "I noticed that." She looked at him. "Is that a demonic deal thingy? Like a power you made one for?"
He glared. "I can match things, Buffy. Though if you must know the woman who thought I was a working boy bought me the shirt to entice me to be hers and only hers since her husband is deployed." She groaned, covering her face to hide the blush. "I didn't take her up on it. I told him I'm free, not for rent. She pouted but said I'm still nice. Bought me lunch too but some of the other wives on the base caught us and she had to dance out of that one and dump me before anything got started."
"Dear lord, you really can't stay out of trouble," Giles complained lightly.
"It wasn't intentional. She caught me crossing a street to get a latte."
"Decided since you were on a corner you were *on a corner*?" Willow asked. Xander nodded. "Figures you'd have something like that happen," she decided. "You weren't going to take her up on it, right?"
"No, probably not. Fun for a few days, not for a few years while he's in Japan and she can't travel."
Giles shook his head. "You really do liven things up, Xander."
He grinned. "Of course I do."
Buffy looked at him. "Any other bad girls we need to hear about that might show up here?"
"I told her I was from San Dimas."
"Even better," she said dryly. "Still, any others?"
"No. Not that I'm aware of. The cult's people are gone. The other hunters were all guys." He considered it. "No. None that come to immediate memory."
She smiled. "Much better. Now you can date the next evil thing here so we know that she is one."
He patted her on the back. "You first. Unless he has female coworkers?"
He smirked. "I was very subtle but I did tell him if he hurt you I was going to use his insides for target practice."
"I guess that's fine since Willow gave him the shovel talk."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, since what they're doing is called treason," he said quietly. "No military unit may work inside the boundaries of the US. That's why we have the National Guard." She made a whimpering noise. "Truth."
"Does he know you know?"
"He may've caught a clue. I did tell him I heard rumors about who you were dating and some wild times you'd had recently." She squeaked and blushed again. "Something about beer...." She swatted him harder. He smirked. "I did salute him as I walked off. If he's smart, he caught a clue. If he's as dumb as some of them think, he just thinks I'm an overprotective friend."
"He's not that dumb. He's in college so more brains than some. Why aren't you in college?"
"I hated school," he reminded her.
"You'll miss out on stuff."
"So I'll work. People like me make sure things get done for those who get Ph.D.'s."
He kept in his opinion that she wouldn't finish college anyway. He didn't need to see her sulk tonight. "So, that warehouse?"
"I guess we can." She stood up. "Then I've got a date later."
He nodded. "I'm going to be at the vamp thrift store to see if they found anything nice in the way of furniture."
"That's dangerous," she pointed out.
"Why? They deliver cheaper, it's usually better stuff, and gee, we did learn how to do uninvites." She nodded at that. "Besides, I don't live there yet. Once I do they won't be able to get in."
"Don't come eat us if they turn you."
Xander gave her a look. "I think a commando would make you taste funny anyway, Buffy. You never know where they've been." She squeaked and blushed, getting up to walk off. He grinned at Willow, who pinched him on the arm. "He is."
"I know, still not polite." He gave her an odd look. "My mom tried to teach you manners, mister, use them around my girlfriend at least."
"She's not here and I will."
"Fine." She got up to go cheer Buffy up again.
Xander looked at Giles, who was shaking his head. "They are."
"I realize that with all the stories around town about them."
"All the way to Texas."
"Well," he sighed. "We'll figure it out as we did when she was dating Angel." He walked off. "Buffy, are you going on patrol tonight?"
"No, Xander can go get furniture. I won't need help for the warehouse."
"If you're sure. If not, call. I've still got my phone." He got up and walked out, heading for the vamp furniture store. He walked in, making the counter boy look *real* nervous. "New place syndrome."
"Really?" he asked with a nervous laugh. "Please don't stake us?"
"Nah, if you guys deliver I won't stake you. Won't let you back in, but I won't stake you guys. You're cheaper." The guy relaxed some. "Buffy's going on patrol if you wanted to go threaten her. She's even in a skirt again." He went to tell someone in the back that while Xander picked out some stuff. And a few new shirts. He needed some. Those cultists were really mean to his clothes.
Xander woke from another vision of the Initiative capturing him and sighed, getting up to send everything to Benny Ray that might incriminate him, just in case. Then he went to wait up for them. Apparently they decided he was a threat to their torturing habits of life. When the first gas grenade came in, he picked it up and tossed it back at them then grinned and waved. "I'm not scared of you. I've seen bigger dicks on vampires." He shut the door in Riley's face too. Only he was that size of all his little minions. Xander shot the first few through his door. He was nice enough to use tranq darts, but he did shoot them. He ran out with one last one. They had their nice little taser gun already up. Xander looked at it. "Those things recharge really poorly."
"So?" the soldier demanded. "On your knees, asshole."
"Don't make me hit you."
"You can try." The guy tried to kick him. Xander kindly knocked him down then looked down at him. "Did *no one* teach you anything about self defense?" he asked kindly. "You were off balance, boy. That's a *really* bad thing to be in a fight when you're kicking at someone." He felt one get up and turned to hit him. He got hit back but Riley went down again. The messenger demon came back. "Not there?" It grunted something. He grinned. "Thank you." He smiled at them. "I think someone wants to have a word with you guys."
He took that one's gun, then looked at the demon. "We're taking them to the same place." The demon gave him a horrified look. "Now. Then you can go." It grumbled but helped him. He appeared in the bunker, looking right at Matt. "You wanted to talk to these nice Army idiots who can't fight worth a damn and are only concerned with their little taser rifles?" He plucked that one to toss to Benny Ray. "Had it in his hands and tried to kick me instead of using it. The rest I tranq'd. Damned if I wanna deal with the shit tonight." He walked off, heading up to the bar. "Hey, Cordy, can I have a beer?" he asked.
"I know how old you are, Xander Harris," she said firmly, hands on her hips. "What are you doing here?"
"Idiot military guys who're going commando around our town tried to capture me as a fun new toy."
She gave him a horrified look. "I've heard about them going around to capture....others." She glanced around.
Xander nodded. "Buffy's dating one."
She smirked. "No wonder. No females to be evil for you?"
"Apparently not." He spotted Margo coming in. "They decided I was a fun toy. So I gave them to the boss for his questioning pleasure," he mouthed when she stared at him in horror. He got himself a bottle of beer and left a few dollars on the bar. "Thanks, dear." He blew a kiss. "Going to find a way home." He walked off shaking his head. Matt met him outside so he finished the beer quickly to toss into a nearby dumpster. "Sorry, needed it."
"What did you do?"
"Gave you the idiots before I managed to destroy them. Because I'm tired of them already. Only been a day and two whole wonderful visions about what they'd do to me because I'm helping Buffy and they think she's neat and a new experiment to make their guys into. I didn't want to be tortured until I could lead a rebellion to break out of their prison under the college. It'd suck for my rep. I'm sure as hell not letting them take me in."
"No, I don't want them to take you in either, Xander. Are you calmer?" With the babbling, you couldn't always tell.
"Hell no," he snorted. He looked around then waved at someone. "I talked to one of his people, I think, when I started to hear rumors."
Matt looked. "I know him. He's cool." He waved at him, getting a nod back. He looked at the kid. "How did you know about the bunker? And how do you know my bar girl?"
"I used to date your bar girl. Until the fluke when Willow and I made out a few times. She got shived on rebar by accident by the same thing that had us captive. It was a mess and nothing I'd like to hear about again."
"How did you know about the bunker?"
"When did you start having those?" he asked. That was something he hadn't been briefed about yet.
"The cult leader's girlfriend touched me and it started it off or transferred it over, whatever you think about how it starts them off. That one I had was about a failsafe in a building nearby." He looked around. "I don't see it from this angle. It's blue and gray? Gray awning on the side door pointed this way? Has a huge ass failsafe underneath it. Oh, the New York guy that's coming around the same time? He's a *lot* like me only he's been UC for a bit too long. If you treat him like you do me, he'll be just fine with it but you'll still end up a bit frustrated with him now and then."
"What New York guy?" he asked, looking confused.
"In about six months. Something about a prison? I got a flash of him in prison clothes then in the back of your SUV. Then on a mission. Jumping out of a plane from a low height."
"That's not that uncommon."
"True. Oh!" He smirked. "They had the guy I got the memory download from in their people. He's gathering intel maybe, not really sure why he's with the torturing sickos. I wasn't sure it wouldn't freak him out if I told him that in person."
Matt nodded once. "You're really nervous, aren't you?"
"I figure you're probably a bit pissed. I'm a bit upset with myself because I had the thought to play with them in finest vamp fashion, but I don't like that part of myself, even if they do deserve it for trying to warp Buffy and take me out. So I'm trying to control my temper. For some reason I've had a lot of that since grad."
"Your first battle often awakens those thoughts and urges, kid," Matt told him. "Pulling back or working it over in your mind should help."
"I can't pull back. They've got a quarter of the town under the college." Matt groaned. "Not all are harmful though." Matt nodded at that. "I don't know why they're down there playing 'what can you do'. I don't want to know what they'd try to figure out on me. I definitely don't want to lose it and make them prey."
"That's a good thing," he decided. "You could find a pastor or someone to talk to."
"They hate that we have to do this, Matt. To the ones around town, evil's a construct that they talk about so you don't have to experience it. Like talking about it wards it off."
"I've seen the sort but there's others who do the same thing you do around the US. Including a few priests." The boy gave him a hopeful look. "I'll have Benny Ray find the addresses and forward them to you in an email." The kid hugged him and he patted him. "Get off." Xander grinned but pulled back. "We'll hand them over since they're toxic weapons of a human sort. Go be safer. How did they know about you?"
"I went to give Riley the shovel talk. He's dating Buffy." Matt shuddered. "I did hint that I had heard rumors about him. The only really unsubtle thing I did was salute him before walking off. I wanted him away from Buffy. Before they turned her to the wrong side."
"I can see why, kid. Shoo. Head home."
"Need to find a cab," he muttered. Matt tossed over the bag that he had sent to Benny Ray. "Thanks, man. I didn't want them to trash my place and find it."
"You're paranoid for us very well, kid." Xander grinned, walking off. "Anything I should know about her?"
"She's got a really sharp tongue. I've seen her make vamps stake themselves by verbally flaying them."
"Good to know she doesn't just do it to attempting robbers," he decided, heading back down there. "They do anything but groan?"
"One gave me name, rank, and serial number," Margo said. "Who are they?"
"That special project. He wasn't subtle enough when he went to warn one off his friend." She snickered. He pointed. "I think that's Captain Finn there."
"Hopefully soon known as the defendant," Benny Ray told him. "He calm down?"
"Nope. He gave them to us so he wouldn't have to beat on the urge to do to them what they do to others. Graduation awakened those thoughts."
Benny Ray nodded. "My first battle did to me too. Preachers up there?"
"I can find him an address." He looked at the lumps of miserable military people. "I can't believe our people have gotten worse since we left."
"Finn's Army. I'm insulted for my former teammates since his jacket says he's a Ranger," Matt told him. "By the way, Feds outside."
"Invite 'em in for them?"
"Let's talk to them first," Margo said, staring at the one who was awake. "I want to know some things." They waved a hand and got out of the way.
Matt looked at Benny Ray once she had stalked over there. "One of the things in Texas gave him visions," he said quietly.
"Wonderful. He good?"
"No. He saw the guy he got the download from up there to gather intel or something. He wasn't sure."
"I can make that noted." That got a nod. "Anything else he saw?"
"A blue and gray building with a gray awning has a failsafe."
"That's the lawyers up the road." He gave him a dirty look. "Why do lawyers have a failsafe?"
"I don't know but he said that's how he knew the bunker was down here. Plus the New York guy, he called him that, is a lot like him when we run into him. We should treat him about like we treat the kid."
"Okay. When that comes up, I'll remember that." Matt smirked. "He needs to get off the hell-hole up there."
"He can't leave her by herself. The world might end. But get this, Cordelia? He used to date her until he had some sort of making out fluke with the redhead. Nearly got her killed. Her tongue was just as sharp back then."
Benny Ray smirked. "I knew I liked that girl." He looked at the moaning man that Margo was making want to cry. "If he can only take that much pain, he's a woose and should've been drummed out during basic," he complained. "I feel so sorry for our services."
Matt nodded. "Definitely gone downhill since we left."
Margo smirked. "This one says he's a Marine. Finn's Army I know."
"Miller's Army," Benny Ray told her. He pointed at him. "I think he's the only Marine that we've heard of so far."
"Then let's get their names at least," she decided. The boys helped by dragging the bodies off somewhere for a better ...talk. She hadn't gotten to interrogate in a while. She almost missed it.
Matt and Benny Ray went to have a beer and call someone formal to get them. They wanted *no* part of Margo's temper. Matt looked at their bar girl. "You didn't bop him on the head? You did the last one who tried to reach over the bar."
"It's better to let the dweeb calm himself down. He might've tried to mess up my hair by girly swatting me or something."
"He told me," Matt told her. She grimaced. "We've known Xander for a few years, Cordelia."
"He occasionally finds things around town."
She stared for a second. "That's how he got his apartment." Matt nodded. "Nests?"
"The mayor's stuff too," Benny Ray told her.
"Figures. At least he's being handy."
"One of those was dating Buffy."
"So he said. I've had my moment of bad taste."
"He's a good kid. He looked like he regretted it at least."
She nodded. "I made him regret it." He smiled at her, taking his beer to their usual table. "Should I send the guys outside to you, boss? He's doing the 'psyching himself up pee-pee dance' out there."
"Please. Is he a suit?"
"Yeah. Not even your boss." She rolled out that way, grabbing him by the ear. "Being nervous like that outside a bar means we think you're here to rob us, buddy. You want something, go talk to the boss. He's at his usual table." She let him go and pointed. "Now, mister!" He ran inside. She smiled. "Still got it, Cordelia." She rolled back behind the bar, going to serve the nicer drunks. At least they didn't get too many drooling ones like Xander's parents were.
Benny Ray looked at the guy. "FBI, ATF, or CIS?" he asked.
"ATF, sir. We've heard you have a contact that seems to keep finding artillery somehow from someone in the military."
"The last time he found any it belonged to the mayor that got blown up in his town," Matt told him. "He comes to us because he knows we know someone to hand it to. He gets a small reward and keeps it out of bad hands. Which he was worried about."
"Can we talk to him about where they might be getting it?"
"He has no idea where they get it," Cordelia said, rolling over to hand her boss some nuts and a bowl of pretzels for Benny Ray. "They just do and they keep trying to end the world with it. He's doing a public service. Otherwise he'd use it on his friends when they think he's too normal to do anything and try to send him away again." She rolled back to her
spot. She was finally used to the rollerblades she had to wear for this job.
Matt nodded. "What she said."
"He doesn't sell to anyone else?"
"We make sure of it," Benny Ray told him. "He got a mutual contact to call me. He specified someone with good ties that wasn't going to use it. I'm a former weapons instructor in the Marines."
"I know that, sir. Thank you for your service to us all, and your continued service." Both of them smirked at him. "He's not a danger?" Matt shook his head. "Is he hoarding anything?"
"A few things for the team there. They have a small protection patrol out that way."
"Why are things hoarding weapons in Sunnydale?"
"Because they want to end the world," Benny Ray told him. "Like their mayor did."
"As long as you keep him under a tight rein."
"Oh, we do," Matt assured him. "He's helping us with some rogue military members working inside the US at the moment."
"Interesting. Why? Isn't that treason?" They both nodded. "Why do those things happen up there?"
"If we knew, we'd stop it," Matt assured him.
"Fine. Thank you, sirs. Should I call someone in their office for you?"
"We have our favored agents among them," Benny Ray told him.
"Then it's been a nice talk, gentlemen. Thank you. Let us know if there's any problems." He walked off, going to report to his boss.
Matt smiled, eating a nut. Margo came up a bit later. "We get anything good?"
"Names, ranks, serial numbers, and some begging for mercy from Captain Finn when I told him that Xander had wanted to do to him what he did to the last thing he turned over but gave him to us to play with instead." She handed that list over. "I did talk to a hacker I know. She can get into their video feeds. It's not pretty. I've seen Russian facilities that are prettier than theirs. I said that to Finn and he started to beg for God and Buffy." She got her own beer. "Thanks, Cordelia."
"Just don't date Xander. He'll turn you evil too," she told her. She rolled off to get another beer filled.
"Not my type, way too young," Margo assured the girl. She came over to sit down. "We need a higher up who can stop this. They've got high oversight and they're classified."
Matt nodded, considering it. "I have a contact who knows the director at NCIS. Or I know someone tough in CIS and JAG."
"I know a really good JAG guy," Benny Ray agreed.
Margo shrugged. "I can call some higher contacts but they might like it. The one who begged claimed they'd be putting their type in our places in the field."
Matt snorted. Benny Ray choked. "Hell no," Matt told her. He patted Benny Ray on the back. "Calm down. The military would never let that happen." She smirked. "Seriously?"
"Yup." She ate a pretzel then drank some of her beer. She stared at them. "NCIS is harder but most are Army."
"I know the biggest hardass in their agency," Matt told her. "He can turn it over and he will make higher ups beg."
She smirked. "That might be handy." He went up to his office to find his number. She looked at Benny Ray. "You okay?"
"I'd hate to start an anti-Marine group if they took them into service."
"Some do look human," she pointed out. "They could be honorably serving of their own free will."
"That I'd accept. This, no."
"Good. Should we go scare Finn off Miss Summers again? That way there's no more problems and the kid doesn't have to suddenly appear out of nowhere with more gifts?"
"Lets," he agreed, going to help her.
Xander looked up from their researching when the shop door's bell jingled. "Hey," he told the obvious suit. "Need something in particular we can help you with?"
"Depends. Are you Xander Harris?"
"Yup, I am, Agent...." Willow gave him a horrified look. He looked at her. "Some of the commandos kindly tried to break into my apartment," he said quietly. "So I gave them to a former Ranger and a former Marine I know casually." He looked at the agent again. "You're which one with who?"
"Charmed," he said, waving some. "What did you need?"
"First, let's talk about your finding habit, kid."
"You wanted it in their hands or the hands of others who wanted to have a plan?"
"I have no problem with you turning in things for rewards, you can even call it recycling for all I care. How are they getting them?"
Xander shrugged. "There's a few contacts out there. I'm not fully sure."
"Can I have what you do know, kid?"
"Sure." He wrote that down, handing it over with a grin. "That's the only link I know in the demon arms chain."
"Xander?" Willow demanded.
He grinned at her. "I found it in someone's address book. It's a nest I found artillery and multiple guns in. I turn those things in to his sort of people to keep them from using it on us. Did you want the vamps to have artillery?"
"Well, no. It's still wrong though. It's stealing!"
"They're dead, vampires, and were going to use it on us, Willow. I'm keeping it out of future hands. If you don't like it, yay." He looked at the agent again. "She's a nice girl."
"Miss Rosenburg, he's turned in over sixty pieces of artillery and over three hundred guns from what he's found lying around town," he told her, making her go pale. "Exactly. We'd rather have them back."
"We don't need guns here in town," Buffy said as she came out of the back. "It'd be bad since I don't use them. You are?"
"Agent Gibbs, NCIS."
"You're here about some of the things Xander found?"
"No, I'm here because the commando team that broke in to try to capture him for helping you got turned in to his contacts that he turns those weapons over to," he said bluntly.
She grabbed the counter to hold herself up. "Why come after him?" she asked him.
"Because he could ruin them," he said bluntly. "Also because he could get their newest test subject, you, out of their grasp."
Xander nodded. "I don't want them working here."
"I don't want them in my military, Mr. Harris. They're an embarrassment to us all." He looked at the young woman again. "To be perfectly blunt, Miss Summers, they're committing treason. You can get shot for that. You were a test subject to them so you're not in trouble. I can and will explain this to your mother later on so she understands exactly what they've gotten on her." Buffy nodded quickly. "As for his finding habit, we like it when he turns it in to who he does. They're good people who do good work for us quietly. He picked well." He looked at Xander. "We've been at their base all day, kid. That one guy who Benny Ray suggested might be gathering intel was." Xander grinned and nodded. "I did find their files on all of you. The rest of them are under arrest as well but we need to know how to release their prisoners. I'm told some aren't harmful?"
Buffy shook her head. "Not all demons are."
"We know they did some mean things to some of them, Agent Gibbs," Willow offered quietly. "We know a vampire who escaped. They put a chip in his head that means he can't hunt to feed after torturing him."
He nodded. "We found his file too. They've been actively looking for him for a while now." He looked at the boy. "Is there some sort of manual that could help us identity those that're harmless and can be released, or given to some sort of demonic physician perhaps?"
"There's healers," he said. "Buffy can take you to the local ones if you want. Giles has a few books with different demon types in them."
"I have an online one we use a lot," Willow offered. "Are you just going to let them go?"
"If they're harmless, yes. If they're not, we're making that decision." They all nodded. "It's practical but not a good thought. They had more than a few vampires in custody."
Xander nodded. "Figured they did. They're our main problem around here. Willow, can you get him into that database so the healers can help him if they don't know what it is right off?"
"Sure. Buffy, want to help us?"
"Please. I don't like to think about these things going on. When Xander told me, I went looking for proof."
"We know," he assured her. He didn't but it'd make her feel better. "These healers?"
"Let me grab my jacket. It's getting a bit chilly." She went to do that and grabbed a few stakes too. Xander gave her a pointed look. "No, stay. Find that current problem and tell Giles?"
"Sure. Have fun with that." She nodded, walking out with the agent and Willow. He sighed, getting up to call Giles. "The Initiative is no more," he said into the line once it was answered. "We had someone from NCIS here to bust them. They wanted Willow and Buffy's help to get healers to those who need it and release the harmless things. That's why they went, yeah. Here at the shop doing the research. Thanks, Giles." He hung up and used his phone to call Benny Ray. "He seems like a hard ass. Thank you." He hung up and got back to his research topic of the moment.
Buffy came back a few hours later, looking green. Xander handed her a ginger ale. "You knew?" she demanded. He looked up and nodded. "That they were torturing things?"
"The rumors said that nothing that's went in has come back out except for Spike. There was some speculation that there was torture involved. So when I found an agent out that way, I talked to him about it too. He said it was highly classified and they'd need proof. If we got any that it was truly going against federal or state laws, to let the local office know. I looked him up, he's out of the DC office."
"So he said." She opened her soda, sitting down to sip it. "Riley's team broke into your place?" He nodded. "What did you do?"
"Tranq darts," he said with a small grin. She smirked back. "Came in very handy then I handed them to the same guys I hand the things I find to."
"I don't like that hobby, even if it is practical. It seems like stealing. Willow's in a huge huffy mood over it too, Xander."
He shrugged. "I don't care, Buffy. I'd rather turn it in than have it used on us some night."
"Which is practical but it's like selling it."
"No, if I was selling it, I'd have millions of dollars. Pieces of artillery on the underground black market start at sixty grand and move up." She shivered. "Most of the stuff I turned in for a reward was above the million-dollar mark." She whimpered. "Plus guns, which can go from fifty to three hundred for handguns."
"So I turn it in for a small reward. That keeps me out of arms dealing and helps them since they do good commando things, like rescue hostages. They know who to dump the things they don't need with and handle all that. They're nice guys."
"Introduce me?" she asked.
"Can't. They're majorly freaked out by demons. They watched us a few times to see where I was getting stuff from. Sorry."
"That's okay." She took another drink. "So you get what, ten percent as a reward?"
"Under that. Maybe two."
"Which is how you got that apartment back in high school."
"Yup, to get away from the wonderful drunk parents. Now I'm mostly going to be living on my job's paycheck. There's not a lot in town since I turned in the mayor's stash before I left."
"Thank you for that."
"Of the sixty things, twenty-eight were from his alone." She shuddered. "He was going to get the town one way or another, Buffy. It's practical and I get a reward."
"I can understand that. I'll ease up on Willow about it. Want help? I could use some shopping money."
"Not really. I've been looking at some of the local nests. I've only found a few guns so far."
"What about crossbows and things?"
He gave her a look. "How do you think you got new ones?"
"Giles got a lot of magic books from it too. Some of which I saw in Willow's room." She shuddered. "So maybe we should talk to someone about that since she's scaring demons?"
"I'm not really sure but a few clans that have seers are scared to even say her name," he said quietly. "I don't know why."
"I'll talk to her about the magic stuff. Have you met Tara?"
"Not in person but I'm told she's very nice, very sweet, shy, and has parents about like mine from those who've watched."
"Probably, yeah. From what Cordy said. Mom thinks her parents are bad with the way she acts and dresses." She shrugged. "If they come here, I'm going to let something eat them if they're that bad." She finished her ginger ale. "We find anything?"
"Six or seven things that're worse than wrong in their files and pens. You?"
"The furry things aren't harmless but they're usually peaceful," he offered, handing over the book. "We need to see if they're hunting someone who hurt their nest."
"I can ask around. Thanks, Xander."
"Welcome. You know I'm still here to back you up. I might not be a commando for real but I do have the memories and I do play at it now and then," he finished dryly.
She smiled. "I know. Happy job tomorrow. I've got english."
"You can come lift heavy things with me."
"I get enough of that with my textbooks." She took the book off, going to talk to Giles. He opened the door, looking at her. "Did you know how Xander afforded his apartment?"
"I had an idea. With the way he handed over many books, I figured he sold some things."
"He turned in some heavy weapons for a reward."
"That's good of him. Not selling it openly?"
"No, apparently he knows some guys who do the good commando work and he turns them in through them. He said they're freaked out by us and vamps so he won't introduce me."
"That's good. Perhaps your next one will be better." He let her inside. "What did we find?"
She handed him the book. "We need to see what they're hunting. They could be hunting things that hurt their nest."
"That's wonderful." He smiled. "One less harmless thing to hunt if so."
"Also, did you know that Willow has some of the books he gave you?" He gave her a hard look. "I don't know how he knows but he does."
"He said some demons are refusing to say her name and acting scared, Giles. We don't need more drama."
"No, we don't. I'll talk to her about her magic collection tomorrow." She beamed. "Go rest for classes tomorrow. You and Xander can hunt down the furry things tomorrow." She nodded, jogging off. He sighed, looking outside. "I can sense you," he called. A tall black man came down the stairs to his patio/front stairs. "Who're you?"
"Deacon. I heard some things about Xander. Wanted to talk to him."
"He was at the store. Are you one of the ones with that unit?"
"We have some mutual contacts."
"Let me call the boy." He found his phone but the man was gone. "He's very sneaky for being his size," he decided, shutting the door. Xander could clearly handle it.
Xander looked up as the shop's bell jingled again, staring at the guy. "Did that pro in Brazil ever get tired of trying to nag you?" he asked.
"No. She still does now and then about wanting me back. But who can blame her really." He smirked. "How did that happen?"
"A few years back, we had a chaos sorcerer playing around on Halloween to give his god Janus a boost. He turned us into our costumes. I went with some BDU's from the thrift store and a gun, which I got from his shop."
"Ah. That's how. So you got a memory download?" Xander smirked and nodded. "It help?"
"A whole lot. Thank you."
"Not a problem, kid. My sources say you're pretty decent at what you do."
"I try but I know I need training and things. I can only get on-the-job training around here."
"Sometimes it has to happen. Higher callings and all that." He stared at the boy, not seeing him flinch back. "You're strong."
"Maybe. Maybe not," he admitted.
He nodded. "It's a wise man who can understand that."
"And not take some of those things to his friends when they start telling him he's too normal to help."
Deacon smirked. "Good to know."
"Oh, we've ranted about that to God in the past."
"I figured you had. It can't happen again, right?"
"The spell got ended when Giles broke it up."
"Decent. You good with that?"
"It's been *real* helpful around here, man. Trust me on this. Patrols, hunting, all that stuff. Oh, and with the weapons inventories and things too. Plus some of the stuff you did in Cuba helped when I nearly got trapped by that stupid cult in Texas."
"Heard about that," he said with a smirk. "Nice job."
"Thanks. I tried, even if I did get visions."
"That's gotta suck." He nodded. "You'll do. Don't follow too closely in my footsteps, kid."
"Not like you hunted vamps. I can't be the commando you are. Nor can I sleep with that many girls at once." The guy actually blushed and looked sheepish. "Though if I ever go to Bangkok now I know where to hang." He grinned. "Thanks for the help stopping them."
"For some reason I have the sense that you're nearby. As in within the town. It didn't work when I heard you were in Louisiana at the same time I was but it did here."
"Good to know. You can call me if you need to talk, kid. I've seen and I do understand."
"How do you stomp on the urge to turn them into gooey spots?" he asked quietly.
"You realize if you don't, you become just like them." He smiled and left. The kid would do fine and what he had gotten from him clearly helped keep him alive this long. He was all for making the good fight easier if he could.
Xander smiled, going back to his other research. He wanted those visions to go away. They gave him such headaches.