Xander looked up as his hauling and toting of boxes got interrupted by his friendly inspector buddy.  "What's up?"

"A young bloke your age named Andrew just showed up in the UK looking for you.  Went to a demon bar and they tried to shoo him off but he pointed out he was your staff?"

"He's the Council's housemother."  He grinned.  "I need help."

"Clearly."  He pointed at the car.  "Him?"

"Yup.  Andrew."  He got up and bounced over to hug him.  Xander hugged him back, grinning at him. "I've worn out two of Willow's robots."

"That's fine, I can help."

"Giles promised me a housekeeper."

"Even better."  He grinned.  "Get the shorts yet?"

"No, I don't look good in them.  I'd never hear the end of it from my ex that's now out of custody."

Andrew cackled.  "That's so evil, Xander."  He batted him on the arm and magically floated the boxes out to the truck. "How far have we gotten?"

"The underground areas around the ritual room and there's a few that need ended.  The coven refused."

"I can look at them tomorrow."  He smiled.  "This is better than the beach of bitches in Aruba.  Here the girls like brains."

"Mostly," the inspector said.  "I heard a news story about a kraken in Aruba?"

"I got it off the slayer down there and told her how to kill it since I couldn't play fetch with it anymore."  He grinned at Xander.  "It loved to play fetch the fledgling."

"That is a great game with kraken, yeah.  And you can get rid of the young vamps at the same time."  The inspector was looking horrified.  "Beats beheading," Xander told him.  "We can't let vampires loose or they'll kill people."

"I suppose."

"It keeps the kraken from hurting people or taking maidens too," Andrew said.  "Not that there were so many maidens in Aruba.  There were mostly snobby bitches who couldn't see past my giant brain and my lack of tan."

"Some women are stupid, Andrew.  You'll find a better woman here.  Sam's going to Lord's College tomorrow I think he said.  Something like that.  He's looking up a spirit that they have there."

"I have an open invitation to the British version of MIT," he said happily.  "I've already arranged to start taking online classes while I'm helping."

"Cool."  They got the truck loaded and he closed the tailgate, putting the last few in the front seat between theirs.  "There.  That's gotta go to the old campus tomorrow."

"That's cool," Andrew agreed.  "My stuff's all being shipped outside my carry-on."  He ran to get it and came back.  "Are we going now?"

"Yeah, I'm hungry."  He smiled at the inspector.  "Thank you for rescuing him before he got lost in London.  They might've traumatized him with the fashionable cranky women."  He got into the truck.  Andrew got into the passenger's side.  Then they drove off.

The inspector watched them go, then went to have a beer with his boss to report that.  He hadn't thought that people like that existed outside of things like books and comics.  Especially with the way he filled out his Customs forms by listing his occupation as evil overlord/Council Housemother/techie master.


Dawn walked into Xander's house and found Andrew, giving him a hug.  "Hi, 'Drew."

"Hi, Dawn."  They shared an evil grin.  "I've been making Xander new robots and charming them stronger than Rosenburg did."

"Cool!  Sam's going to take you to the college to look around."  He hopped up and ran to get changed.  She walked back down the stairs, taking the tea from the new housekeeper's hand.  "For me?" she asked with a smile.

"For Andrew, he never eats."

"'Drew, tea," she called.  He came jogging down pulling a shirt on and took it to gulp, then handed it back and raced outside. Dawn smiled at the housekeeper.  "Sometimes being a huge geek is hard work."

"I noticed that when he and Xander shared an all-night geek movie marathon."  She went back to the kitchen. "Xander should be back soon."

"That's fine.  I showed up so Sam could take Andrew to the college with him."  She went to the office, calling Willow.  Willow gave her a confused look.  So did Kennedy.  "The library at the Council is full of books that don't like me.  They like to pretend to be blank, even after Xander took down the alarms in there."

Giles walked behind them.  "That's because they're charmed so only watchers can use them, Dawn.  Which means you'll have to get the same sort of marking that Xander has."

"His doesn't let him read them either," she said.

He grimaced and nodded, drawing out a figure, with arrows to show which way it should be drawn.  "Here," he said, letting Willow email it to her.  "That should be what was done.  If not, we'll have to do it again I suppose.  Somehow."  He walked off shaking his head.

"Or we could just break the protections," she countered.

Dawn grinned.  "I have done a few books we desperately needed because some young teenage girl summoned something to eat her cheating boyfriend.  Faith was *so* not amused and Xander showed up to tell the girl how to summon Anya and others before the cops took her to jail.  She might even be sharing a cell block with the guy who summoned a demon to eat his soon-to-be ex wife so he didn't have to give up anything in the divorce.  Not cheating or anything but he didn't want to split the bank accounts."

"I thought it'd be easier over there," Willow complained.

Dawn grinned.  "It's pretty easy but now and then we get some really bad things."  She leaned back.  "How is my sister, who cannot write apparently?"

"She's outside chopping wood," Kennedy said.  "For the firepit tonight."

Dawn nodded.  "We've had one of those for stupidly possessed things.  Dean considers it great fun when I talk Sam into dancing around it.  Especially if we can get Xander to join us."

Willow looked confused.  "Why would Xander be doing pagan fire dances?"

"Africa," Dawn said sarcastically.  "They tend to end celebration days by a feast and a dance around the fires too."

"Oh, them.  Never mind."  She shook her head quickly.  "My mind's in the wrong spot."

"I'm sure it'll get better," Dawn said dryly.  She got the figure from her email.  "This looks nothing like the one on Xander's arm."

"Travers did it so that figures," Willow snorted.

"Fine."  She smiled and waved.  "Tell my sister she's not that retarded and does know how to write.  Even if you did do all her homework for her, she had to learn to write before then.  Even cheerleaders have to do *some* homework."  She hung up and went to get the book on that from the library.  Xander had brought it back.  That wasn't the right mark either.  That was for the research council, which meant Dawn should have it done.  She sighed and looked up Xander's.  Which was a 'dethroned heir' marking.  She would get his arm later and undo it. 

She broke the bindings and protections on the book, finding the one they really needed and settled in to trace over it.  It glowed and she was happy about that.  When Xander came in she pulled him into the nearest bathroom to trim the mark off.  It tried to reform so she canceled the spellwork on it.  He was wincing but yay!  Finally it was done so she traced the new one for him.  He got the official art set to do it with and she did it.  Travers' ghost and Wesley's father's ghost both showed up to yell at her but she finished it and let him do hers.  They flashed and settled in. "I'll get Dean and Sam tomorrow."

"Okay."  He looked at the ghosts.  "Do you know how much shit you have that nearly destroyed the earth thanks to improper storage?" 

Travers blustered but Wesley's father nodded.  "Sometimes we just shoved them somewhere and went to make reports to the Council."

"I found the Monarch's Heart in a room that got easy light, in an area that got easy light."  Travers flinched and floated backward.  "It's been taken care of."  He looked at Wesley's father's ghost.  "Don't bother Dawn."

"I'm not.  She's actually quite good at the work.  If the real Council was still around we would've taken her in as one of us.  Especially as the sister of a slayer."

"I'd never have worked for you guys, you guys sucked assholes for a living," she said.  "I hate assholes like you guys and I especially hated Travers and his people for trying to kill my sister multiple times."

"I can see those reasons as being valid but you could have helped change it from the inside.  We did have that nasty little reform guild going."

"We found a few of them," Xander said dryly.  "They're being intellectuals in some colleges to hide from the US."  Sam and Andrew came in with Andrew babbling excitedly.  "Good field trip, 'Drew?" he asked.

"Very great field trip.  I love that college, even though they don't have hardly any computers or any electronics allowed in the dorms.  It's a great old campus, built on a ley line, and it's wonderful!"

"It seems like some of the better colleges are built on ley lines," Dawn said.  She shrugged slightly.  "This is the Council's house mother, Andrew.  Andrew, this is Wesley's former father and Travers, who used to run the puss suckers."

Andrew smirked and waved.  "Can we banish you so you can go scowl on another plane?"

"No, I think not," Travers said bluntly.  He stared to open his mouth.  Sam tossed some rock salt on him and he faded.  "What is this?" he bellowed.

"I'm hoping it's hell," Xander offered with a grin and a wave.  "It's where you deserve to be."

"Any idea where their bodies are?" Dawn asked.

"Yes.  In the conference room for his."  He scratched the back of his neck.  "I found Shelob's smaller sister guarding them."

"We can come handle it," Sam promised with a smile. "I'm sure they had some sort of memorial we can bury the ashes under."

Xander nodded.  "That's a hell of a trek to carry bodies, Sam.  You might want to get Dean to rig up a platform to lower them with."

"We can probably do that."  He called Dean.  "We're with Xander."  He hung up on the screeching of brakes.  "That didn't sound good."

Dawn concentrated on Faith, nodding.  "Sheep."

Sam cackled, shaking his head.  "That figures.  I knew they were in sheep country."

"Sheep are not as friendly as their fluffiness makes them look," Xander said.

Andrew looked at him.  "When did you meet sheep?"

"I met a few sheep.  Liset and a few others had sheep in their families.  I walked up to Liset while she was feeding her family sheep and nearly got killed by one for being near the herd mommy."

Dawn snickered.  "She told us that you scared the sheep into nearly rioting and stampeding."  She walked Sam off, showing him the marking research.  She got him and Andrew marked as well.  Though he got a headache when she marked Sam.  She checked for spells around him.  "Hmm.  Xander, we need the basement set up for containment.  There's some sort of demon marking on Sam."

"Dean said there's a demon that plagued the family when Sam was six-months-old."  He came out to hand her chalk.  She went to draw.  Xander looked at him then took off his protection amulet and put it on Sam.  They all looked up at the screams going off.  "Apparently it didn't like Chinese mystics," Xander quipped, leading Sam down there.  "I guess maybe they got some bad chinese food once or something."

"Is this marked against a certain demon?" Sam asked, looking at it.

"No, it's marked to a certain Lord of Vengeance.  Unless it's just by his standards it won't let any spell hit you."

"That's cool but probably dangerous.  Wouldn't that demon mind?"

"Not really.  He's probably sighing in disgust," Dawn said.  "He was over Anya when she had a job."

"Oh, him.  Okay," Sam said cautiously.  They got him into the protections and Xander put back on the amulet.  "Are you that worried?"

"Yeah, the Devon coven kinda hates his guts," Dawn said with a grin.  "Apparently since he stopped Willow from ending everything he interfered in witch and coven business.  That's why one gladly took the money to report where he was and was trying to hand over Willow and the others."

"Charming.  Is she young enough to spank?" Andrew quipped.

Xander looked at him.  "Don't give me ideas.  You know better."  Andrew smirked at him and went to help the housekeeper.  Xander and Dawn shared a look.  "It's not a bad idea."

"No, not really.  They tried to nag me too, warned me about raising power and trying to be too powerful."

Xander snorted.  "I think you have plenty."

"Me too."  She got to work on the outer ring of protections around Sam.

Dean and Faith walked in and Dean stared at his little brother.  "Problems?" he asked.

"We marked him as a research watcher and suddenly a demon screamed really loudly," Xander told him with a grin.  "So now we're fixing that."

"Dad said he got it."

"I have the feeling that 'got it' was a temporary fix, not a permanent one," Dawn said as she finished up.  "Faith, go get some weapons?"

"Sure," she decided.  Always better to be armed than not have enough weapons.  She came back down.  "Anything special, X?"

"My office, case under the desk."  She went to get that and brought it back, humming at the niceness.  "According to the research it was the backup weapon to the scythes, which none of us got out of Cleveland."

Dawn winced.  "I'll see if we can find them."

"The military still has the house locked down," Xander reminded her.  "There's no way we can sneak in."

"We have contacts."

"Cleveland's become the Demonic Wild West, Dawn."

"Damn.  Spike?"

"Can't.  I already tried."  He sighed and leaned against a pillar.  It moved and he looked back at the demon pretending to be architectural support.  "Can you go get the stuff out of the house?"

"One of the highest demons there would love to date you," he offered.

"Yeah but she's a flesh eater and I don't want to be eaten.  I avoided it with the praying mantis demon.  I'm already missing enough flesh with the eye thing."

"Good point.  She can't touch the scythes and they're in DC.  Under heavy guard from what I'm told."

Dawn smiled.  "Thanks."  She called someone as she walked off.  "Tony, Dawn Summers.  I know that, dear.  But we'll need the scythes back eventually.  Like the next apocalypse battle and maybe sooner since we've just figured something out about a pretty badass apocalypse attempt.  And by the way, I want my stuff from the house.  Including my mother's pictures and her wedding rings."  She listened.  "Hell no they had better not have burned it," she sneered at a wall.  "They'll remember it badly if they did, dear."  She hung up and calmed herself.  "Xander, stop me?"

"Want me to knock you out?" he offered dryly.  "Or offer a last resort?"

"Fuck that.  Homer!" she bellowed.  He showed up looking scared.  "I want everything of mine from the house, including the pictures I had left of Mommy and her rings."  The demon shook, nodding and looking down.  "And we need the scythes.  Today."

"She's a bit pissed off," Xander told the demon.  "Not that I'm not but ya know how that goes."

The demon looked at her.  "I still wish to worship you."

"Then start a cult," she said, glaring at him.  "You're the one stopping me from going over there and showing them what sort of pussies they are."

"That could be bad," he decided.  "Though the hellmouth would quit fighting and mostly follow you, Key."

She smiled.  "You say the sweetest things, Homer.  Just.... one of us is going to get that."

"I will ask my contacts.  Thank you for the warning."  He looked at Sam then at her.  "It is not wise to get involved in that situation," he told her quietly.  "That demon is powerful and will control all if he gets his way."

She snorted.  "Then he'll want to date Xander, right?"

"We were not sure why he did not come after the Knight.  He went after people with native born gifts.  Like sight."  He glanced at Xander.

"Wilkins?" Xander guessed.

"He could have stopped him from hunting in his town.  Or perhaps he didn't.  Are you marked?"

"How would I tell after all the shit I've been through?" Xander asked.

"Good point.  Just the hyena taint would cancel it out some."  He stared at Xander, then nodded.  "It was canceled out by your blood oath with your potential mate," he said, sounding awed.  "When he died it went with him."

Xander calmed himself down and nodded.  "Thank you for telling me that, Homer.  Any idea if this one is a slayer problem?"

"It is beyond a slayer problem.  Getting involved will kill them."  He disappeared to tell them the Key and Knight were pissed off.   Some demons laughed.  The rest knew that it was a huge problem in the making.  They went to resurrect what the military had burned.  They brought it all to Xander.  Dawn kissed one on the cheek, burning him a bit but making him smile.  Homer thanked them as well.  Then he sent them off the hellmouth.  They were too weak and nice to be here and involved in the power struggles going on.  That would take real demons who were not scared of slayers.

Faith found the scythes and nodded.  "Still pristine."  Xander grinned and Dawn broke the link to Sam.  The demon appeared as a black cloud, which Faith took on.  Even though the cloud tried to laugh.

Andrew gathered some power and looked at it.  "Weaker than the First.  You can't even convince people to kill their best friends."  He moved forward to stand beside Sam.  "I'm sure you think you're so big and bad.  Pity."  The demon rushed at him and he held it back.  Faith got in another blow.  Xander got in a good one as well.  The demon screamed.  It tried to surround Xander to suffocate him or enter him.  The unholy glow going through the cloud made him scream loud enough to shake the house.

The housekeeper came halfway down the stairs.  "I didn't know we were torturing things."

"We're not," Dean said.  "That's a demon that was trying to hurt Sam."

"Oh, that's fine then."  She went back up the stairs.

The cloud had to break up, the glow was killing it.  Faith got the littler parts.  Andrew blasted a few.  Xander hugged some into screaming and dying.  The last few parts fled before it was destroyed.

"We really need a simpler, kill any demon, weapon," Faith decided.  She looked at Xander.  "Glowy now too?"

"Blessings from a tribal leader who was kinda dead already but guarding an artifact I had to hide before it got used?"

"Uh-huh.  What artifact?"  He went to get it and brought it back down.  "That's got my skin itching, boytoy.  What was it?"

"Actually, it holds the upper court of one of the demon societies trapped before they could rend humanity from the earth's surface."  He put it back into the containment box.  "The tribal elders decided I'd be a good guardian in their place since it had been found."  He grinned.  "The last time some Nazi assholes found it but were killed by the guardians.  This time, higher level demons wanted it and they couldn't kill them."

Dawn stared at him then at Dean and Sam.  "Yeah, he does that," she assured them.  "And dates bad girls."  She walked off shaking her head.  "Call your dad, guys?"

"Yeah, probably should," Dean agreed, looking Sam over.  "You good, Sammy?"

"I'm okay.  My head doesn't hurt.  My arm itches over the marking but otherwise I'm okay."

Dean nodded.  "Good.  Next time the thing's going down."  He walked Sam off to get something to drink and call their father.  "Dad, you only killed the demon temporarily," he said in greeting.  "We killed bits and pieces of it when it came for Sammy because of the new protections on him."  He listened to his father swear.  "Basically, yeah.  Faith and Xander got some.  Andrew got some.  No, we're still here.  Xander has a shitload of artifacts to deal with that should be hidden."  Xander walked past them with the box, nodding as he got into the closet.  Something in there roared.  "I thought that was a wardrobe that led to the bossy lion," he called.

"It does," Xander agreed.  "That's at Wes's house."

"I don't want to know," Dean complained, walking off sipping his coffee.  "Did we get a name, guys?" he asked Faith.

"The demons that helped us knew about it," Dawn said cheerfully, smiling at them.  "Beyond that, it's a Hell Lord of some sort.  It was too powerful for just any sort of possessing demon.  It has to be a higher up.  So therefore the apocalypse it wanted you two to start has to be putting hell back on earth.  You know, the cheesy reason?"

Dean nodded, repeating that to his father.  "Any idea which level of Hell Lord?"

"Lesser," Xander called.  "Any being of a Higher class, capitalized, would not have reacted that way to me."  He leaned in, grinning.  "Most of the Highers, like D'Hoffryn, aren't going to be scheming to use humans for their dirty work.  We're unpredictable.  We're not exactly a tidy end and half the time we'd do what we want to instead of what they want us to.  It takes too much work for a Higher to control a human that way.  Now, the classes of Hell Lords, or the lesser nobility of hell, can and often do have those sort of plans.  They want more power, want to move up in the standings, and think they can do it.  The true nobility of hell are busy swatting plans and laughing at their lesser nobles."

"So they're the dukes and counts of the demon world?" Dean said.

"Knights and up," Xander corrected.  "Hildegard, the one in Brussels, is a Knight level.  Dukes and Counts are like Visha Kirul.  She's in Russia.  Both are possessing capable if they don't have a corporeal form.  True princes and the upper reaches have steady forms, have enough power to control humans, and don't want to because we're messy and roaches to them."

"Okay, so we're looking at a few levels," Sam said.  He went to the library to find that source.  They had it at Dawn's place.  "There it is," he muttered, carrying it back.  "Here, the structure lessons."

Dean looked it over and texted what he was reading to his father.  They had agreed to email on this later that night.

"Which means it's probably a Knight level," Dawn realized.  "A lot of plans, not enough power to do them without humans involved."

Sam nodded.  "I've had a few dreams about other kids the demon adopted, for lack of a better word."

"That's an interesting word though," Dawn said, getting online to look something up.  "There it is.  The Knights."  She let Sam look it over.

"Here's three good choices," Sam said.  "But they all feel wrong."

Dawn looked.  "Look under the 'demoted' section," she said with a point.

"Azazel."  He shivered.  "That's the name."  Dean sent that.  John sent back a 'got it' message.  Sam took the phone and called John's phone.  He read that background for him.  He had tried to 'adopt' chosen ones in the past to open a hell gate.  John figured he could take that down before the time for the next attempt.  They made a solid plan and hung up.  "What if they're tracking our calls?" Sam asked Dawn.

"Then maybe they'll take down the hellgate?"

"Why is there a prophecy about the president being given?" Xander complained as he walked past the door.  He called someone.  "Whoever gave that new prophecy about the Prez wasn't with us as far as I know.  Well, I'm the only seer in the Council," he said dryly.  "So yeah, it's not from me.  It's not one I recognize from the books.  I'm pretty sure someone made it up to help but check the source to see if they've had other visions, Tony.  Thanks, man.  Yeah, let that be known."  He hung up and thumped his head against a door.  "That's going to cause more hell," he complained.

Andrew walked past him, patting him on the back and handing him a muffin.  "Blueberry?"

"Yes, thank you."  He nibbled it, still forehead to the door.

"I'll get dressed up and go talk to someone tomorrow," Dawn called.

"Thank you," he called back.

"Xander, those other higher demons?" Dean asked, walking up behind him.

"Can't be touched, and I don't really want to lose my life to stop them from enjoying the pot brownies and slavery rings they set up?"

"Good point.  Can we tell anyone?"

"Tell the Inspector I work with at Scotland Yard?"

"I can do that when I take her to the news station," Dean decided.  He let Xander marinate in his misery for now.  He'd be fine sometime soon.  Or he'd take that frustration out on the Council building.


Dawn smiled at the people who met her at the cars the next morning.  "Good morning," she chirped.  The agents all stared at her.  "We did not make that prophecy, I have not seen it in any of the prophecy books, and the Council's only seer is Xander.  He didn't have it."  They relaxed.  "The only one he's had recently was about someone trying to run over the Queen when she's chasing after a dog that got away from her."  She handed that to the inspector with a grin.  "For you."

"I'll pass that on," he said as he read.  He looked at her.  "Why would they put out something like that?"

"Perhaps to support the Council?  To possibly make a name for themselves?  I'm not really sure.  I'd ask a shrink."

The agent they had worked with in MI-5 nodded.  "We did and she thinks it's one of those."

"That's all we could come up with," Dawn admitted with a small shrug.  "I was going to deliver a statement saying that it wasn't us."

"That's a good idea.  Harris?" the MI-5 agent asked politely.

"Xander?" she called.

Dean opened the door.  "He's still asleep for some reason.  We're not sure why."

"Would that reason possibly be that someone went onto the hellmouth last night and caused a lot of hell?" she asked, walking that way.

"No, I asked a contact within the demon realm to please rescue the only pictures I have left of my mother and her wedding rings," Dawn said.

"No, it was after that," the Inspector said.  He smiled.  "Is it possible?"

"I didn't send him.  He can't send himself.  So unless someone asked really nicely....."

"Can we wake him up?" the Inspector asked.

"Xander!" Dean yelled.

"I'm up," came a cranky voice as he came down the stairs.  He looked at the gathered people.  "I heard.  I got a phone call at 3."  They all winced.  "It wasn't me.  It was a shape changer pretending to be me so he could clear out some of the stupid shit going on.  A lot of the peaceful community would like the ones with plans to go away."  He leaned against Dean while he yawned.  "The shape changer didn't get me exact.  When they ripped off his shirt during the second fight, they knew it wasn't me because of the scars."  He yawned again.

Dean looked at him.  "How would they have known about your scars?"

"A few different ways."  He walked out there, looking at the pictures.  "I have scars there," he said with a point.

"Good to know," the Inspector said.  Xander took off his shirt and they compared them.  "You're not the same.  Any idea if it helped?"

"A lot.  There's still ones making plans but that one cleared out a good portion of the evil shits trying to take over.  Now you have bigger names trying to take over and the peaceful community trying to endure and survive."  He put back on his shirt, looking over at the twinkling.  "That was a really nice plan to send the shape changer of me."

She smiled and walked over to pat him on the head, smoking a bit when she touched him.  "We're tired of the hell.  When are the slayers moving back?"

"When the US lets them."

She huffed.  "That is not in any higher being's plan," she said bluntly.

Xander shrugged then yawned again.  "Not ours either.  We nearly lost Giles and Buffy to treason charges for saving everyone's butts."

She looked at him.  "Go back to bed.  I know the panicking got to you, Xander, dear.  I'll send over a coffee cake later.  You can take today off and work on your usual one."  She smiled.  "Dean, put him back into bed?"

"How do you know who I am?" he demanded calmly.

She smiled at him.  "Every single higher being knows you three Winchesters.  There's a lot of betting about which one ends up with each of you."  She beamed.  "I'd love to have your brother, he'd do a great bit of service within my empire, but I know he'd hate it."

Dean nodded.  "Yeah and you'd hate it when Dad and I take you out for it."

She giggled and waved at him.  "I doubt it'll happen, dear.  You don't 'take out' beings like me.  Perhaps banish but not remove from existence."

Xander looked at her.  "I have that inside.  I can teach him to use it."

She patted him again.  "Go nap, dear.  You're getting mean and silly.  Andrew?"  He looked out.  "Put Xander back to bed please, sweetie.  He's getting mean."

"Sure, Hildegard.  Xander, come on before you get asked out again?  Gile would freak out."

"Fine," Xander muttered, heading back to bed.

Dean looked at Andrew.  "Huh?"

"It's not a really heavily guarded secret that she and Visha would both *adore* Xander as part of their empire and harem," Andrew explained with a grin.  "They'd both love to knock him off the light path and make him their favorite concubine and problem handler.  Buffy tried to give him to one once when she was pissed off at him but Xander pulled a sword and growled.  They both cooed at him.  Buffy gagged and walked off muttering swear words again.  The other slayers thought it was *adorable*."

"The girls got their butts kicked," Faith said as she joined them.  "Hildegard, I was tryin' ta sleep," she complained, crossing her arms over her chest.  "You interrupted a happy dream about cute guys in tiny shorts.  Do you mind?"

She giggled and patted Faith on the arm.  "I'm sorry, Faith.  I did not mean to interrupt the only action you'll be getting this year."

She snorted.  "I turned down ass yesterday.  He was too smart and not enough muscles for me."

"Hey!" Andrew complained.

She looked at him.  "He had no dick, 'Drew.  You do."  He beamed at that compliment.  "Even if I heard you built it and it runs on batteries?"

He cackled, shaking his head.  "No, I made that for Spike."  He grinned.  "Spike said he needed a better dildo before Angel decided he was desperate and kinky.  I'm told Angel ended up in it the same night he woke up on the roof just before daylight."  He walked back inside.  "I'm making coffee."

"I'm going back to bed after this," Faith called after him.  She looked at the demon.  "Can you drool over the hunters later?"

"Fine," she sighed, looking at Dawn.  "I could use a good mind like you."

Dawn smirked back.  "I love you dearly, Hildegard, but I'd hate lesbian sex.  Like Faith, I learned to like dicks."  The demon cackled and left.  "She's of the equivalent level of a knight within the hierarchy," she told Dean.  Who just nodded.  "To compare."

"Ours is more insane, less powerful, and hopefully doesn't want to date any of you."  He walked back inside, going to use Xander's pounding door for his own head.

Dawn snickered, shaking her head.  "All the really bad ones love Xander," she told the Inspector.

"I've met two of his that he dated.  They are not happy he's here in the UK.  They said he'd ruin their plans."

"Probably," she agreed.  "He has in the past.  If not, Faith gets that job.  They enjoy taunting her too.  Especially if they have Xander hostage."

The Inspector handed over his card with a smile.  "If that should happen again, let us know and we'll see if we can help."  She tucked it into her wallet.  "As for last night, any other ideas?"

"It was probably helpful.  A lot of helpful."

"Good," the MI-5 agent agreed.  They got into their cars and left.

Dawn went inside.  "Xander, two of your dates are worried that you'll jinx their present jobs," she called.  Somewhere upstairs a door slammed.  She smiled at Dean.  "It has been more insane in the past.  Like all the slayers deciding they had to shop *right then* and kidnaped Xander, in handcuffs no less, to make him give them opinions.  Six and a half hours later we finally found them, released them, stopped the stand off with SWAT in Cleveland over him being a hostage, and got them not arrested."  She patted him on the arm as she walked past him.  "This is almost normal on the slayer scale."

Dean looked up once Dawn was in the kitchen.  "Thank you for making me a hunter, and a boy hunter at that," he told the ceiling.  "I couldn't have handled being a slayer."  He grabbed some breakfast so he could take a nap.  Maybe he could hide until things got back to the normal guy's version of normal.  He could nap for a few days if he had to.

Dawn was cackling in the kitchen.  Sam was giving her worried looks but she hugged him and let him go hide too. He'd get used to them if they were around long enough.


Xander was back to his primary job, finding artifacts that should not be stored in the open of a partially destroyed building.  He heard a bad noise and looked around, hurrying to the shield symbols on the wall.  It went up just before the small grade missile exploded against the shields.  "Yay," he said, looking around.  He grabbed his weapons and checked them on his way toward the entrance, calling the Inspector.  "It's Harris, someone just shot at the building.  Small grade missile, probably a hand-held unit."  He hung up and checked. 

"Oh look, it's GI Joe," he sneered, shooting at one trying to get into the building.  They screamed.  They didn't go down but they screamed.  Xander changed bullets to a blessed set and shot at them again.  This time they went up in flames.  He heard sirens and so did the others because they tried to disappear.  It wasn't going to work thanks to the shields.   Officers showed up and got fired on by the soldiers.  Xander shot them in the back of their legs.  One laying a charge was shot in the stomach.  Xander ran over to kick him backwards, putting the gun in his face.  "Drop the detonator.  Now."

"Stand down!" one of the officers shouted.

"He's laying explosives."  The officers got the others and came over to take him.  "Drop the detonator," he repeated.  The man sneered and shifted his hand.  One of the officers stepped on it.  Xander took a deep breath and backed off by a few steps, looking at the bomb.  "Simple timer.  Pull it and it ends," he said quietly.  The officers looked at him.  "I had to train slayers in Africa, guys."  They nodded.  They hauled that guy up first to pat down.

One of the officers stepped over.  "You're Council?"

"Yeah.  I'm undoing all the storage nightmares in this building to move them safely somewhere else."

"Then you're Harris?"  Xander nodded, pulling out his wallet to show him his ID.  He smiled.  "What ammo are you using, lad?"

"Blessed rounds."  Xander unloaded his clip and showed him.  "Simple blessings."  He looked at the one they pulled up to pat down.  "Do his mask?  That way I know what type he is."  They did and he looked human.  A bit greenish tinged and had fluted ears but mostly human.  Xander grimaced, taking a picture and sending it to Dawn.  She sent back a question mark so he described them.  He switched phones to the other one and got them on the digital camera with the built-in filter.  That worked and she sent it back a few minutes later.  "They only show up on specially filtered digital film," he said, letting the officer talking to him see the information.  "And they can kill each other with chlorinated water."

"Most of ours is city water," the officer said, making notes.  "Who's this in case we need questions answered?"


"At the Pryce mansion?"  Xander smiled and nodded.  "She's a pretty girl."

"Her big sister is Buffy, one of the senior slayers."

"No wonder she's involved."  He handed the phone back.  "How did you block the first attack?"  Xander reached back and patted the shields, which created a colorful splash pattern in them from the impact.  "Ah.  Weird things.  About what we expect from you lot."  He smiled.  "Let us sit someone here?"

"You're more than welcome to.  I have no idea what they were coming for.  If I knew I could make sure it was safely contained."  He stared at them.  "Got any ideas?" he asked.  One muttered something and the others kicked at him.  Xander snickered.  "It's not here any longer.  We hid it and it's gone for good."  They all complained but got led to the van that was pulling up.  "They wanted the heart," he told the inspector he worked with.

"Well that sucks for them since no one can get to it.  Can they swim?"

"Not that deep."

"Even better!"  He clapped Xander on the arm.  "Nice work, Harris.  Go back to puttering and finding obscene things that make us all drink."  Xander grinned and did that.  He looked at the officers.  "That artifact is far gone now.  They took that one specially so nothing like this could happen to it."  The other officers relaxed and finished the prisoner loading.  They would have a lot of paperwork later.  Especially about the water restrictions they'd need to put into place.  Most jail cells in the UK had running water and toilets.  Unless they moved to a really ancient prison, and most of them were historical landmarks and not exactly in use.

Xander got back to work checking what he had already done that day. It was all safely stored.  He called Andrew to come get it.  It was safer if it was somewhere less obvious.  Like his basement.  Even his bathroom would be a better place than this building right now.  Andrew showed up with a new gun and a few new cold bottles of water, plus the bottle of advil.  "Thanks."

"The scanner said it was bad."

"Yup.  Water demons wanting a powerful artifacts."  He took two advil and changed out his main gun.  Andrew took the majority of the artifacts with him.  Xander carried out some of them, nodding at Dean when he ran into him.  "They wanted something that was already gone."

"Figures the underground didn't work that fast."  He took two of the boxes to load.  "You good?"

"I'm fine.  Calming down.  Not the first assault I've been in."  He smirked.  "I nearly pissed myself the first few times but then again... they wanted to eat me not kill me."  He walked off to get another few boxes.  They got put into the truck and Andrew took Dean off to unload those things.  Xander went back into the building to clear out some more stuff that should not be around people.


By the time Xander got home, the little archiving robot had a list of what he had stored and Sam had the books down to look them up.  "Anything with a red triangle is too dangerous and needs to be contained and possibly sank somewhere."  He walked around them to get a beer and came back to help.  "The purple marked ones are mid level problems and we have to be thankful no one stole them.  Blue means that they're holding something, probably demonic.  Purple means that it's got some sort of transportation device involved.  Including the book that tells you how to make all the portals."  He opened his beer and took a drink, putting it aside.  "Black is highly dangerous and needs to be ignored until we can hide it."

Dean nodded.  "That makes some sense but what about the things that you've marked that aren't that important?"  He showed him one.

Xander pointed.  "The smaller one that's fused with it will take you to that realm so they can sacrifice you."

"That little dot of a thing?"  Xander took it out to flip over and show him the new artifacts fused to it.  Dean nodded.  "Okay, that makes more sense."  Xander got him the list he had been doing as he packed things up.  "That makes more sense."  He checked.  "We're missing some?"

"Some are hiding in the basement, some Andrew have taken up to the old campus building to hide.'

"That makes sense I guess."  He got back to it.  "What about the attack earlier?"

"They wanted something that I let the UK people hide for us."

"Is it safe?" Sam asked, looking over.

"As long as we don't start being in Seaquest's uni, we're all good on that part."

"Even better," Sam agreed.  They finished up checking the inventory then what was missing against what Andrew had taken.  So they had two boxes missing.  Dawn summoned them back, getting an extra one.  "One of the ones that you had hidden?" Sam guessed.

Dawn nodded.  "Yup.  Andrew, who was here?" she called.

"I didn't know someone did."  He came out to look at those.  "I haven't seen them.  Maybe they got taken on the way here?"

"Maybe," Xander agreed, checking them over.  He looked up.  "Give it back, I found it," he called.  The small pendant twinkled into being next to him.  "Thank you, Hildegard."  He put it back in there then let Andrew and Dawn make the closet safer for artifacts.

"We do have a ritual room here," Dawn said.

"Which is tainted by Watcher cooties," Xander countered.

"Good point."

"We have a storage area out back too but again, full of things improperly stored."

"We should work on that tomorrow," Dean decided, looking at Faith.  "Before something gets released."

"We've got to get with the lawyers about the stuff that got sold off due to no heirs," she countered.  "The judge clearly had an idea."

Xander looked around Dean at her.  "He's one of Visha's minions."  He went back to checking the stuff he had stored and had been sent to keep out of US hands.  He was getting that itchy feeling that meant there was a higher powered artifact somewhere around them.  He got up and went to the storage area out back.  It looked like a garden shed but had a pull up door that led to the underground chambers.  Andrew was out there.  "Get out of them.  I can feel something."  Andrew backed up slowly and carefully.  Xander came over to look.  "Shit, that's a high one.  Get Faith and the scythes," he said quietly.  He took it upstairs and outside to a blank field.  He didn't want it to activate anything already down there.  Faith and Dean came jogging out.  "I'm not sure what activated it."

Dawn came out to the doorway.  "It's magic reactive.  Anything magic near it would set it off."  She pulled Andrew back.  "You have a protection going," she said to ease his pout.

"I do.  I'm sorry," he called.

"Not a problem, Drew.  They should've stored this shit better," Xander said.  "Get my axe?"  Dawn had Sam get it and bring it out.  She would definitely set the demon holding device off.  They watched as it rocked and started to smoke.  "Inside, Sam.  I'm not sure it can't hit seers."  He nodded, going to guard Dawn and Andrew.  Dean looked at him.  "I'll be fine.  Dawn needs guarded," he said more quietly.  Dean nodded.  They watched it finally break open and a plume of smoke went up.

"Finally," the demon sighed in pleasure, looking around.  "This is very open and almost no people to feed on."  He looked down at them.  "How quaint, a slayer."

Xander took the first swing, which knocked Faith out of her staring.  Dean jumped in with Faith behind him.  "Slayers aren't quaint," Xander told it.  "Most of them don't even manage polite."  Dean snickered.  Faith nodded she agreed.  They battled it back.  "How do we reseal it?" Xander panted.

"No idea," Faith admitted.  She glanced at the pieces of the containment device, kicking the halves together.  It started to seal.  "It's got self-repair."

"Good," Xander agreed, taking off something and throwing it at the demon.  The demon screamed and moved back.  Dean got the device under it again and let it try to suck.  Xander glanced at it.  "Don't let it totally seal without him in there."  He and Faith fought it back while Dean manned the device.  They got it partially sealed in when the device tried to seal.  Xander switched with Dean, letting him attack.  Xander held it open by putting his fingers in the opening.  They drove it back toward Xander, who was fiddling with it.  More came out but then it started to suck.  Xander grimaced but had to keep his fingers there, no matter how much it felt like they were being burned by cold.  Only the head remained and Xander removed his fingers and let it seal while sucking in the head.  The demon stuffed his nose up and some hair got caught too but Faith destroyed them.  Xander sat down on the burned grass, looking at them.

"Boytoy, you good?" she demanded, panting.

"Fingers could use some warmth," he said, letting Dean haul him up.  He looked at the ball trying to rock itself free again.  "Then next time, pull your nose in," he shouted.  It quit rocking.  A very pretty brunette woman appeared, shifting her fur stole down off her neck.

Faith stared at her.  "Have I ever told you that you make me feel really plain next to you, Visha?" she asked dryly.

She blew a kiss.  "You're still stunning, Faith.  I can't wear those leather pants of yours with the same class you do, dear."  She looked at the ball then at Xander.  She snapped her fingers.  "Hands."  He glared.  "Now, boy."  He held them up.  She healed the damage.  "Next time use a stick, Xander!"  She patted him on the head then noticed the third one.  "Hmm.  New blood in the Inner Council?"

"That's Dean.  Buffy flirts with him," Faith said.

She moaned.  "Very handsome.  And a Winchester by the markings that weak thing put on you."  She stroked his cheek, smiling when he moved away from her fingers.  "You're adorable. If you want to quit hunting, let me know, baby."  She picked up the ball.  Xander started to complain.  She glared at him.  "I'm going to send it into the sun.   His bellowing about his nose is annoying me."  She snapped and the ball disappeared.  She smiled.  "There, now he's one with the universe and can no longer cause you stress.  You'd be less pretty with wrinkles."

"If I get to that point, I'll be wise instead of handsome," Xander said dryly.

She grinned.  "Probably."  She patted him on the head again.  "Good work on that weak one as well.  We hate the plans he has.  I might have to get messy."  She adjusted her stole again and then left.

"What the fuck?" Dean demanded quietly.

"She's got the hots for Xander," Faith said dryly.  She rolled her eyes.  "She also said she'd take in Buffy as a neat toy too."  She walked off.  "Emergency's over, people, but we need to straighten out that mess down there."

"We can do that tomorrow," Dawn assured her.  Xander was getting dirty looks from Dean.  "This would be part of that whole 'bad girls love Xander' thing, Dean.  It's not everyone that would jump into the battles the way Xander has and given up what he has for us and the slayers.  They all think if they could turn him then he'd be the perfect consort or lieutenant in their empires. If they could tempt him over it'd prove they had a better bit of power too because Xander's pretty uncorruptable outside of my sister pissing him off."

Xander nodded. "Usually."  He held up his hands.  "Warm water?"

"Andrew," she said, getting out of their way.  Xander hissed as his hands got stuck in the warm water.  "Next time, use a stick or a knife," she said, giving him a hug from behind.  She checked Dean over.  "Need medical?"

"No, I'm okay," he admitted.  "How many others want him that way?"

"There's three.  Hildegard, Visha, and Foret.  He's in Brazil though," Dawn quipped.  "So maybe he's off telling my sister how much he wants to bed Xander."

Xander shook his head.  "No, not this week.  I'm not really in the mood for gay sex."  He looked at Sam and then at Dean.  "Unless you two are really needy?"

"No, I've got hands," Dean quipped back with a smirk.  "What happens when you tell them no?"

"Then they attack the slayers," Faith said.  "I lived through the last one he threw a fit at.  Took me three weeks to manage it but I did live through it."  Dean and Sam both winced.  She smirked and nodded.   "Yeah. Me and the two minis both regained consciousness to X there yelling that Foret had hurt the slayers and he was going to destroy him from the inside out.  Even if he had to crawl up his ass and start blessing tissues so he could scream for a good, long time."  Dean shuddered. "I heard Foret coo and heal us enough that we lived."

"Jesus," Sam muttered, shaking his head.  "I hope I don't have any like that.  Dad would kill me."

Dean smirked at him.  "Ya think he'd make it there first, Sammy?"

"He'd probably knock you out," Sam shot back.  "He knows what sort of jerk you can be, Dean."

"Shut up, bitch.  I'd get there first because he's in Canada."

"Guys, the only bitch in this house is me," Dawn announced.  "Even Faith doesn't get to call herself a bitch when I'm in the house."  They all laughed at that.  She looked at Dean.  "And if you're a bitch, you need breasts and a better pussy since your dick's too big to be one."  He burst out cackling and walked off.

Xander hugged her.  "I love my bitchy little sister."  He went back to soaking his hands while Andrew added some warmer water and some herbs to it.  "Thanks, Andrew."

"Welcome, Xander."  He grinned.  "Sometimes you do what you have to do."  Xander nodded.  "But soak.  You need a lot of soaking."  He walked around the housekeeper to help with dinner.

Faith walked off.  "I need a shower.  Do I have time?"

"Yes you do," the housekeeper agreed.  "Boys, go shower."  They walked off to do that.  Xander settled in on a stool to finish his hand soaking to finish dethawing his fingers.  Andrew got kicked out and sent to do something beyond fuss in the kitchen.

"He enjoys fussing over people," Xander said quietly, looking at her.

"I understand that but it's my turn tonight."  She finished dinner and started to set the table for everyone.  By the time she was putting the roast on the table everyone was back downstairs, though she did have to scowl at Faith's attire.  Faith glared back.  "It's not very ladylike."

"I can't fight in ladylike clothes," she countered.

"I'd hope that they wouldn't come over dinner."

She shrugged. "They come when they come."

Xander walked out.  "I was hoping that nothing out there was too bad.  In vain," he quipped with a grin.  "But I had hoped."

"We all hope that there's not that many problems in the next year," Dean said.  He sat down.  Dawn came in and he stood up.

"I'm not that sort of queen, dear."  She sat down.  She smiled at Dean.  "But thank you."  She looked at Xander, checking his fingers.  She did a healing spell and he sighed in pleasure.  "That helps even more."  She let him cut the meat once Sam and Andrew were there.  Dean took the knife since Xander had clumsy, non-bending fingers.  They all ate and made plans for the next week of what they needed to do.  Dean and Sam could help Andrew with the artifacts out in the storage area while Faith and Dawn did the house's collections.  Then they'd move to do Dawn's and support Xander's removing more things from the main building.  Then they'd go do the other ones since that judge had been taken off all those probates.


Xander was called in for the probate hearings and dressed up, even did his hair.  The lawyers still scowled at him.  "Not like I own a suit," he said dryly.  They went inside and he waited to be called.  He saw the Inspector staring at him and shrugged. "Probates."

"Fine.  Hopefully it won't be a problem."  He went back to his own waiting to testify.

Xander decided it was nice he wasn't being stalked this time.  It was great not to be stalked by people waiting for problems.  He got called in and walked in.  The judge scowled too.  "I dressed up in my best, Your Honor."

"My scowl was more about you being American," he sneered.

Xander shrugged.  "Can't help where I was born."

"Fine.  You're the representative of the new Council?"

"I'm the head that's not in hiding.  Our official head is in hiding from the US."

"I saw that crappile over there," the judge admitted.  "What are you doing presently?"

"I'm presently looting the old main building that was partially destroyed due to the First Evil so all the artifacts are safely stored somewhere they can't be used, destroyed unless necessary, or bothered.  Myself, our present head researcher not in hiding, two hunters from the US, and one of the senior slayers are also working on the collections in the old line watcher families."

"Which would be a concern for this probate," the judge said.

"The house I'm in I traded one of the surviving heirs for."  The judge nodded at that.  "Last week we had to deal with something very powerful that was improperly stored so it got loose.  It took something a lot more powerful showing up to hit on me to finish handling it."  The judge went pale.  "I'm finding *tons* of things, literally tons, that are the same way.  Someone shoved them in a room and didn't take an inventory, didn't rate how dangerous they were, and didn't properly store them so the ones holding things couldn't get out."

"What of things that are too dangerous to be released?" the judge asked.  "The probate filing said that some are."

"Most of those I've turned over to the UK government.  They've dealt with them.  The ones I've turned over were so dangerous, them being accidentally used would destroy the planet or humanity very quickly.  Like within minutes."

"I can agree with that," the judge said, making notes.  "How many tons?"

"So far we've had sixteen pickup trucks full.  It's a quarter-ton pickup."  The judge winced.  "Those have all been hidden and inventoried properly."  He handed that file over.  "That's the inventory from the main building and the one from the house I'm in."

"Which would be your house?"

Xander nodded.  "Yes, Your Honor.  I straight traded for my condo in Cleveland."

"That seems odd.  An older english manor house for a condo?"

"That was the same day that the US lost its mind.  Giles wanted me to handle the building's contents because I've had good experience finding things that should be hidden, I have prior construction experience, and I've spent a lot of  time handling anything that may occur."

"By what means?"

"Whatever was at hand.  I was the one sent to train slayers in their native environments.  Including in Africa."

"That's probably good training for handling whatever might come out."  He stared at him.  "Were you part of the Council before it got blown up?"

"No, before then the present senior council worked with the senior slayer in Sunnydale."

"Hmm.  I'm told that your team precipitated the crisis point?"

Xander grimaced.  "Yes and no.  The First was going to be coming out within a decade.  We've found six other groups that was trying to summon her."  The judge shuddered.  "Yes, our witch did bring our slayer back out of heaven.  She was also suffering from a magic addiction that a year later nearly led her to ending the world.  They've since worked that out and made her see what a bitch she was.  Especially when she lied to us about what was going on."

The judge tapped his pen a few times.  "So you had no knowledge?"

"From what Willow told us, the slayer was in a hell realm.  Suffering.  None of us thought that was very fair with the way she saved the world so often.  Willow had me help with a tiny part of her rite, and I've since apologized for that.  I was acting on incorrect information based on her lying.  I had no idea what I was doing beyond that as I don't handle magic.  It tends to go wrong around me.  The whole group made sure nothing magical ever needed my help because of that issue."

"So she lied to you to get you to help with something then did the rite herself?"  Xander nodded.  "Where is she?"

"Hiding from the US and the Devon coven.  The Devon coven helped her get out of her magic addiction but she felt something coming for her when she was with them.  So she set up a safe refuge for herself, our senior slayer, our head in hiding, and the slayer she's dating."

"Anything more concrete about her location?"

Xander stared at him for a moment.  "Even if I knew, I would not put that into a matter of public records so the US could hunt them down for their own shits and giggles," he said bluntly, staring at him.  "I don't want to see them harmed because the giant demon worm that was my former country's Vice President had decided to take out the Council."

The judge snickered.  "I saw that."

"I lived through another one of those.  That happened during my graduation, only twice as large."

"What if there continues to be legal repercussions due to him and the US's new stance on demons?" the judge asked.

"I've applied for British citizenship based on the witch hunt, for lack of a better term, they're having."

"That's not a bad thing.  Were you fully employed by the Council when that happened?"

"I had just retired.  Giles asked me to do this as a favor to him and the Council."

"I suppose I can understand that with such a grievous injury," he said with a point of his pen at Xander's eye.

"I lost that just before the First Evil battle in Sunnydale, Your Honor.  I spent a few years in Africa, Asia, and South America without it."  The judge shuddered. He smiled.  "I only retired because the girls were being bitches to me and I got tired of the nagging that I was supposedly lesser and worthless for being a guy."

"That makes even more sense."  He sighed.  "I really should put the estates up for auction for the death taxes."

"The estates in question all had the Council as their beneficiary, Your Honor," the lawyers said.  "It would be us that would pay those."

"It would drain the coffers of the organization and I'm not sure it's the right thing to do," the judge said.  "Many of their remaining books and things could help researchers."

"We have no problem with that," Xander assured him.  "I carried some books over to one for Giles right after I retired.  We have no problem with non-paranormal and those who work against a world-takeover bid using our libraries.  We're not the old Council, Your Honor.  Most of us in the new Council hated the old one for some of their bullshit.  Especially when they had a price on my head for jumping in to help the slayers."  He smiled.  The judge gave him a horrified look.  Xander nodded.  "Not all that high but fairly up there for a normal, mundane, non-business related source.  The last I heard it had been about sixty thousand dollars, US."

The judge grimaced.  "Why did you jump in?"

"Vampires took my best friend," he said more quietly, staring at him.  "That and no one young woman should ever have to face those things alone.  Even with a bossy Brit on her tail, she was going out hunting alone.  That's not right."

"No, it is not," he said, looking at the young man.  "How old are you?"


"That's very young but I suppose you pass simply on experience."  Xander nodded.  "What will the Council be doing to set up things so others whose life's work is in their vaults can use them?"

"We're removing things from the old building to the original campus that they left for it being too small.  It has better security options both for the people there and for the artifacts.  Once we're set back up, they're more than welcome to call our research people to see if we have any sources and, pending a slight background check to make sure they're not actually working with a cult that wants to call back a higher demon or anything, they'd be given access to research."

"A bit paranoid but reasonable to my thinking," the lawyer agreed, glancing at Xander.

"Paranoid but reasonable," the judge agreed.  "The artifacts?"

"If it's not something that's holding a demon or dangerous I would see no problem with letting the researchers study some of them.  Nothing that has anything dangerous around it of course.  Those they could have pictures and anything like notes we have on them," Xander said.

"Again, reasonable."  The judge considered it.  "The money?"

"Goes only to the salaries, which are minimal at best, the upkeep of the slayers, and their later needs for problem handling."

"Weapons?" the judge asked.

"Frankly, Your Honor, I've dated a few weapons dealers," Xander said dryly. He grinned.  "If we need something huge for a battle that we don't have I can ask for a discount."  The judge gaped.  He grinned a sweeter grin.  "Only the tough and bad guys like me."

"I can tell."  He made that note.  "What about the UK's safety?"

"I have a liaison I report anything we hear is going on to," Xander said.  "He's with Scotland Yard.  I have a person I know in MI-5 if it's too huge."

"What about when something happens in the US?" the judge asked.

"We're struggling with that problem since we're predicting a major thing within a year," Xander admitted.  "It is our duty to solve it, but we would rather not put the slayers in harm's way.  So we're working on a way of handling it and then disappearing very quickly before the US can capture anyone else."

"We've heard overtures of the US wanting to talk to some of you," the judge said.  "Someone from the Home Department asked me to pass that on."

"I'm the easiest found of all of us," Xander said.  "We know where I am.  If they were interested in talking peacefully they could show up.  Since last week they showed up via robotic golem to take me and the old building out....  I'll go armed.  Thanks."  He grinned.

"That might be a good idea, young man."  He made that note on the note he held and put it aside.  "All right.  Who is going to be over the funds if you get them?"  Xander pointed at the lawyer.  "Are you sure?"

"Neither Giles nor I are financial geniuses, Your Honor.  I'm sure he can find us a CFO, or whatever they're called."

"Probably, yes.  British?"

"Whoever is best but British if possible.  Also we'd be looking at an arms master since I'm so busy.  That may be one of the hunters we saved from the US's plans and an apocalypse attempt.  It may not be.  We have slayers that still need training and I'd be more than happy to nominate him for my old job doing that.  We need both positions filled.  Frankly, the thirty of us that are left are mostly researchers or the Sunnydale team.  We're taking the place of over a thousand people that used to sit on their butts and do nothing but bitch."

The judge laughed.  "Quite possibly."  He made more notes.  "I can see the protection problems and the needs of the Council to regather things that the families had.  I still think that there's going to have to be auctions."

"Yes, sir, but that's something we can do after we clean out the houses for dangerous things," Xander said.  "There's ten houses leftover from the crisis and another three that're falling in.  We were going to probably auction off a few of those because we only need two or three.  That would pay those death taxes very well and also make sure we don't have too much going on in our inventory of things we have to keep up."

"That makes good sense.  The artifacts?"

"No, not unless they're totally harmless artifacts and have no ability to harm people.  Giles would probably want those to tour museums instead."

"Which would be helpful on the insurance against those things being destroyed."

"It's not like we'd usually file for compensation if they did get broken," Xander said.  "They may be priceless but I'm more worried about insurance on the buildings than the artifacts."

"They are priceless."

"The library is more precious."

"Good point," the judge said, nodding slightly.  "So insurance...."

"I'm assuming Giles knows that if the lawyers we have don't," Xander said, looking at the lawyer.

"We know there is one, not where," he admitted.  "We've been looking.  It may be in the documents room?"

"Which was on one of the floors that got destroyed," Xander admitted.  "But I can see if there's anything in there sometime soon.  Let me finish clearing out the dangerous stuff."

"Do that tomorrow," the judge ordered.  "Insurance policies usually have time limits.  That way you could add on for more storage.  I'm assuming that the collection of artifacts got spread out so much because it was either too dangerous to have together or because they needed more room?"

Xander shrugged.  "Could be the more room thing but a lot of that was because people weren't using proper or even a decent protocol for them.  A lot of them were just shoved in a room without an inventory.  It's led to neat things like three harmless artifacts fused to one of the worst things ever to keep it in power."  He showed them a picture.  "I have no idea how to undo that and the three minor artifacts are the sort that could be shown off.  With that one attached, there's no way I could do that."

"What does that dangerous one do?"

"It summons a tribe of demonic undead warriors to protect a certain group's queen."  He gave him a look.  The judge moaned and shook his head.  "Which I wouldn't mind them taking over but I can't do that when it's got power to it, Your Honor.  Things like that I really need to talk to Giles about."

"Understood.  I wonder if it could go into the Tower."

"Yes but I'd be scared since they don't have good storage for things of a demonic nature.  I visited and nearly got confused with a cousin no one's seen in years."

The judge looked at him.  "Cousin?"

"Apparently when I was about three-years-old, I had a cousin that managed to take a piece of the Crown Jewels.  They say I look a lot like him.  We've found that and handed it back over."

"Good!"  He tapped his pen a few times.  "Is there a place that would have suitable storage?"

"I have no idea.  I'd have to have someone from that agency or group tell me that."

"An even better point.  Well, if they do I'm sure they'll show up," he sighed.  "All right, all asides to the past, the Council has a year to pay the death taxes on the estates.  That is ten percent of the total worth."  The lawyer and Xander nodded.  "No one else has stepped forward outside one entity wanting a certain artifact."

Xander took that letter to look at it.  "It's highly dangerous and I've handed it over to the government for hiding," he said, handing it back.

"Even better."  He made that note and put it aside.  "I'm going to grant all the estates' wills as being valid and everything in them going to the new Council of Watchers.  There will be an audit of all of the estates on my desk within six months."  That was handed over.  "Very nice.  Thank you."  He read through them.  "This one...."  He handed it back.

Xander looked then at him.  "That's the one I traded for.  His son did survive to get to Cleveland but his son wasn't favored by his father so cut out."

"Did he survive the US's actions?"

"As far as I know, he's hiding somewhere being a teacher."

"All right.  Do you have the documents on that hand-over?"  Xander's lawyer had them so he looked them over.  "Even better.  What other one is being repurposed at this point?"

"The Pryce estate.  We worked with Wesley, the last son of the line," Xander said.  "Our research team is using it."

The judge nodded.  "That makes some sense and I'm sure the son wouldn't have minded much?"

"Probably not.  He did outlive his father, who died in the main building's explosion.  Wesley was on the LA team that went down during the invasion."

"That's fine.  As long as the last surviving relative wouldn't have minded, the Council will inherit it anyway."  He handed those back.  "Ten percent taxes, paid within a year.  Get me a list if they're going to auction them off."  They nodded and left.  He sighed, getting a courier to take those notes back to those who needed it.  The judge went to have a good sniff of brandy and then some tea sandwiches.  The Council unsettled his stomach.


Xander looked up from the document finding when he heard a footstep.  "You passed the friend and foe alarms so I knew you were here," he called.  The man stepped into view.  Xander blinked a few times.  "There's no way in hell you're not him."

The man smiled.  "Brilliant marketing ploy to help England's interests around the globe and hype our Intelligence skills.  It gets us a lot of trainees who want to be me."  He walked further into the room.  "There are storage areas, Mr. Harris."

"Cool.  There's a few things that are totally monarchy related and I'll gladly hand them over if you're sure that they're safe."  He went back to looking.  "I've been ordered to find the insurance policies."

The agent laughed.  "That could be helpful."  He came closer carefully.  "Whoever did the bombs caused damage but not too much.  You could rebuild here."

"I don't want to rebuild here.  It's too insecure, too large, and we'd have to do a lot of speciality building to get it fixed properly instead of making it a large office building with a library and labs.  If some community college wanted it, we'd gladly sell the remains to them."  He found the folder and smiled.  "Only slightly smoke damaged."  He looked.  "And of course it's the old one."

"It at least would give you a company."

Xander tucked it into his back waistband.  "How secure are they?"

"It's totally secure.  It's in a clean room environment, locked underground and under water.  It's actually a sealed vault under the Thames.  Only accessible two ways and one's if you blow into the vault."

Xander smiled.  "Sounds secure.  You have separate storage areas?"

"Separate investigative cubes for now."

"Wonderful."  Xander led him down to the work area he had those stored in.  "Did you see the crowns?"

"We did and the Queen was quite amused I'm told."

Xander grinned at him.  "So was I."  He opened the door and disarmed the trap, looking around.  "Bring it back, Andrew," he called.  Andrew walked it back in.  "This room's Monarchy related."

"I was looking to see if it had more than one Queen on it."  He grinned.  "Oh my God, I sound like Dawn but you're *HIM*."

Xander patted him on the back.  "Andrew is our housemother and genius geek."  He grinned.  "These should be yours, Mr. Bond."

He smiled at Andrew.  "The new girl in Q division said the same thing when she met me."  He walked in and looked at them.  "Any touching warnings?"

"I wouldn't as a general rule.  Skin salts and the like," Xander said.  "The green one, just don't.  It calls back Queen Victoria's shade from what we've seen in the notes.  There's a group of demons who would adore having her back and taking over their culture but I doubt she'd like modern life too much, especially not rap videos."

"No, I can't see the Victorian types really liking modern music videos at all, or most modern music probably," Mr. Bond said.

Xander grinned.  "I think they would've hated disco more."

"Probably.  Many people did."  He had to smile at the young men.  They were quite nice.  "The attack?"

"We handed the robotic golem soldiers to Scotland Yard," Andrew said, grinning at him.  "They were kinda neat but not real good.  Probably real person controlled somewhere."

"Probably," Xander agreed.  "They didn't have good processing brains from what little I saw.  And the two demons with them weren't happy either."

"I heard the judge that remanded them into custody thought it was odd that they could be killed by tap water but he shrugged and said to keep them safely and securely away."

Xander smirked.  "They weren't nice in the least."

"I figure they weren't."  He stared at Xander.  "How many more floors of artifacts are there?"


James moaned and shook his head.  "Why?"

"Because they filled up rooms by shoving and then not inventorying, then when it was full they made another one.  Once I get all that done I'll have someone cut the magic on the building.  That'll keep it from the security setting that would bring it to a fairy realm and uncreate a few of the underground levels."

James looked at him a bit oddly.  "How did they do that?"

"Had to be a treaty," Andrew said.  "The fairy peoples are usually very big on protocol and treaties."

Xander nodded quickly.  "They will kill you too.  I fully respect all of the Little People, no matter which country they come from.  After accidentally tripping over a shrine to a warrior one in Africa, and nearly getting killed and eaten for it, I learned."

James nodded.  "That's wise.  Where were you in Africa?"

"Pretty much all over.  We have nine slayers in Africa that I trained and another three that're hiding somewhere on the continent right now."

"That makes sense."

"Right now we're in our guerilla Tomb Raider phase and then we'll move onto the more genteel training and study centers," Andrew said with a smile.

"I can't imagine either of you in the outfit," James quipped, cracking Andrew up.  Andrew gave him a quick, short hug then bounced off.

Xander smiled.  "He's done a lot to reform himself from the bad guy he used to be," he said quietly.

"Clearly.  He seems pretty normal for his age group to me."  He lifted the three cases once they were closed.  "Any others, let it be a bit known and I'll show up."

Xander dug out the card and showed him.  "That's our contact in Scotland Yard."

James smiled.  "That's fine.  I can check with him.  I'm sure he'll fuss but it's easier if one person is giving out information."  He left, taking those back to the office to be stored properly.  There had been copies of the notes included in the boxes so that was quite helpful of the boys.  He found a few people outside, nodding politely.  "Taking these to be hidden."

Dawn stared, mouth slightly open.  "Hell, you're not looking for new women.  Even if I wouldn't make the cut as a Bond Girl, Faith would."  Faith blushed and swatted her.

James laughed.  "I've put most of them behind me, ladies.  Now I long for a true mate of the realm."  He winked at Faith and got into his car to drive off.

Faith swatted Dawn again.  "Don't do that to me!" she complained.

Dean looked at her.  "You do look as good as any of them have been," he told her.  She swatted him too.  Xander came out and handed over the insurance paperwork.  Dawn took it from him.  "Okay, you handle that."

"That goes to the lawyers."  She looked at Xander.  "So the Queen Victoria summoning thing went?"


She smirked.  "Good deal.  We're doing the remains bonfire tonight."

"Okay."  They went up to gather the bodies while Xander gathered more things that shouldn't be in the open.  He found some of the spells were unraveling because a few rooms had been squashed together.  It made a huge ball of artifacts that were glowing.  "Crap," he said.  "Dawn?"

"I felt," she called, walking up behind him.  She stared.  "How in the hell?"

"Some of the stretching is undoing."

"I'll get to work on that."  She jogged off to do that.  Andrew could help him.  That would take some heavy lifting.

Andrew walked in and whistled.  "That's going in the 'this is how you store things properly' classroom," he quipped.

"Only if we have somewhere big enough."  They got it put into a take-apart crate and then out to the pickup.  Sam had to get in to shift stuff around for them but that was fine.  Dawn and Dean came out, followed by Faith.  "The bodies?" Xander asked.

"We can gather them but the Inspector said to do that tomorrow night," Dean said, looking tired.  "Something about local regulations."  He shrugged.

"No clue," Xander agreed.  "We should sell this building to a community college."  Dawn burst out laughing.  "It has all that it could need once they fixed those few floors."

"Probably but I'm not sure there's community colleges like in the US, Xander."

"That figures."  He got in to drive and the others got into the Impala, which now thankfully had legal UK plates, and went back to Xander's place.  The lawyers were waiting but that was just another tiring thing for the Winchesters to be able to skip out of.


That night in London a male voice got loud in an underground research laboratory.  "It can't *really* summon back Queen Victoria.  Such things are rubbish!" he sneered.

James looked at him.  "Whatever, Percy."

"I am *not* like Percy Weasley!" he complained.  He touched the artifact and sure enough a ghost floated out.  He started to splutter.  "But that can't happen by rules of physics!"

The former Queen sneered at him.  "This is the third time such has happened and we are not amused."

James bowed and smiled.  "He's young and impetuous, Ma'am.  He's very sorry.  How do we unsummon you so you can go back to your rest and looking over your family?"

She snorted.  "We gave that up long ago.  It got quite headache inducing."  She stared at him.  "Are those nice beings that are horribly misfigured around?"

James pulled out his phone.  "Let me check on that, ma'am."  He walked off to call Harris and see how he summoned them and how to unsummon the queen.  It turned out to be the same answer and they came to gather her spirit so she could help them be more proper and flourish under her leadership.  James looked at the other researchers, one of whom had shoved the little brat into a closet and locked him in.  "Let's lock that up, shall we?" he suggested.  They locked that up and added to the notes.  They did not want her back.  James went to make that report, starting off a brand new ulcer for his boss.  And himself when he went to drink himself to sleep.  Because she had been eyeing him up and down like he was a steak pie.


Dean and Xander looked up the next day from digging the new mass burial spot for the bodies they had to burn.  It was next to the Tomb of the Unknown Watcher.  It seemed like a ripoff of the special one in DC to Dean but he guessed plenty of them had died without knowing who they were.  They had a few ghosts complaining that they should have had full state burials and that they were Knights or higher so they were due extra honors.  The rest were just looking sad.

Xander finally looked at them.  "We can only do it this way, all right?  The other Watchers are all in hiding somewhere in the Americas or other places.  Unless you want me to call back the ones that got fired for things like molesting the slayers?"  They all shook their heads.  Travers was scowling.  "I'm not going to call the others from their safety for this.  Therefore you're being cremated as Watchers and put here because we don't know who you all were either.  Not like there was a daily sign in sheet for whoever was in the building and we can't get the records from the badge log-in system either before you mention it, Travers."  He piped back down.  "Good!  Thank you!  It's been years since I had to do one of these."

Dean looked at him.  "Africa?"

"My last one was in China.  A whole town succumbed to something.  My slayer and I were about the only healthy ones so we got volunteered by the army when I called them in.  The locals didn't want to but they had docs and I didn't.  Not that it helped too much.  But at least everyone got buried and my slayer made sure everyone got identified."  He wiped his forehead off with the back of his forearm.  "What if we don't identify them?"

"It's possible some may stay and hang around," Dean said.  "Not totally likely though."  They nodded and got back to work after some water.  It had to be a pretty deep pit.  When they ran into another body, they sighed and left it there.  Sam, Dawn, and Faith were moving the remains.  The local church's pastor was over to nag them about things.  Dean walked up behind him.  "Pastor, can you please not make this harder than it already is?" he complained.

"Why didn't the County people come get them?" he demanded.

"Because this is the Watchers Council building," Xander said as he walked past him.  "You know they won't come near here, Vicar."

"Fine.  The funeral?"

"Cremation," Xander and Dean said.  "That way their spirits can move on."  Xander grinned and stuck his tongue out at Dean.  Dean smirked back and shook his head.  They got to work carrying the first few remains out.  They were mostly pieces.  The bombs had been that efficient even if it hadn't destroyed the building.  Sam spread the gas into the first few and said a Latin prayer for them.  The pastor moved up to do his own.  That was more formal and normal. 

Dean and Sam brought down the heavier ones since Dawn couldn't lift them and Sam had turned his ankle getting away from one of the spirits the night before.  It was nearly four hours before they were done.  Xander did one last run through the building, finding a few last bodies hiding and had them brought down.  More gas, another few prayers for the dead, and they went up.  One of them screamed.

Dean looked at her.  "Made a deal, didn't you?" he sneered.  She got pulled down into hell.

Xander crossed himself and muttered a new prayer.  The building glowed and Dawn looked at him then at the building.  Any spirits still in there were sent on.  Xander shrugged. "A shaman and elder taught me for battlefields.  That way I wasn't possessed again."  He looked at the last few ghosts.  Wesley's father.  Travers, two female ghosts, one younger one.  He looked at her.  "You're one of the potentials."  She nodded, biting her lip.  "Faith?"  She looked at her and assured her they had it, she could move on.  The girl found where her body had been buried.  Alive as it turned out.  Travers spluttered but Xander called him a special escort to hell.  The demon showed up and took him with him.  That left the other three.  All three research watchers.  "Behave or go too."

They nodded and backed down.  Faith got her body salted and burned so she could move on.

Sam looked at the last ones.  "Did we miss part of yours?" he asked politely.

"My husband has our daughter and I wish to watch over her," one said.

"Go for it as long as you don't cause harm without a reason.  Then we'd have to show back up," Dean said.  She smiled and took her lover with her.  Dean looked at Wesley's father.  "Wanna go too?"

"Not really.  I've seen what's on the other side and got frightfully bored with my son nagging me."

Xander grinned.  "We knew Wes grew a great backbone after being in Sunnydale." 

Wesley's father scowled but settled himself in to helping that young chit research things.  She was good but it had been his life's work.  He could still help and help her be turned into a proper research watcher and young woman.  He floated over to them.  "Dawn, did you borrow those from Slayer Faith?" he asked about her leather pants.

"Buffy bought them for me for Christmas last year."  She smiled.  "American girls are very different than British ones."  She walked Faith off talking about the current problem areas in the UK.  She looked at Xander.  "One's a Little People shrine."

"Ask them first," Xander ordered.

"They'll let us handle it," Wesley's father snorted.  "We have a treaty."

Xander looked at him.  "Even if there is, it's still polite.  I treat all Little People with respect because I know what scary bitches they can be."  The ghost piped down at that and huffed.  He looked at Faith.  "Bring them some food presents."

"I can do that."  Faith gathered Dean to go pick things up and head to that shrine in the morning.  Dawn and Sam went back to the house with Xander.  Andrew had been fussing over the big ball of artifact to see if he could unmerge some of it.  It was hopefully going to be a quiet night in.


Xander looked up at the whistling.  "We know," he called.  The friend/foe alarm had let them pass without killing them so it was probably an okay person to be there.  He looked out of the hallway at the man.  "Oh, James."  He held up a hand.  "It's in the meeting room on the third floor.  I found it up there and it's real heavy.  It's heavier than we usually need for apocalypse battles."

"Good to know."  He jogged up the stairs to look, staring at the case.  He opened it.  The weapon was all there and armed.  He disarmed it and it wouldn't fit in the case.  He counted, three too many missiles.  He put them into a carrying bag and reclosed the case, bringing it down to his car.  "Any idea if there's more of these?"

"Yes, but I can't get into the armory.  The door's stuck shut.  The bomb welded part of it."  Xander looked at him.  "I'm a bit busy with these and Dean doesn't know how to weld that way."

"I'll see if any of our gear people do.  I'd rather have the big things in safer custody."

"Sometimes we may need them for a battle," Xander reminded him.

"Yes, well, I'm told you used to date two arms dealers."  He smirked.

"Six total, though three of those were just one night things a few times when we were in the same area.  The other three...  Andrea and Aria would probably give me a discount.  The other, Syd, is a cold hearted bastard who only loves his money and thinking he has enough dick to satisfy anyone."

James shook his head.  "I know those names so I won't comment."

Xander smirked.  "I was hard up in Africa.  Not like I could date my slayers and any locals were for keeps, which I couldn't play with then."

"Still.  Aria's like a walking disease creation factory at times."

"Not her, her granddaughter.  She set us up to go out after I turned her down."

James blinked a few times.  "Isn't her granddaughter about eighteen?"

"Yes and she wanted her stigmatic virginity taken care of gently."  Xander smirked.  "She came back for seconds."

"Wonderful."  He considered it.  "I've seen your file from the US."

"Which file?  The crap one from the Initiative guys?"

"No, the one from Homeland."  He smirked.  "Which did have that one in it, though it was mostly to critique it and make fun of whoever wrote it."

"I did plenty of times," Xander agreed.  "How bad did it get?"

"Bad enough my boss wanted to know if you wanted a job, young man."

"No, the only dangers I want to face daily is finding a good lover sometime soon.  Tell her thank you but I have enough on my plate with apocalypse battles and training the slayers."

"I shall."  He stared at him.  "There was someone debating if you were in Bolivia."

"Yes I was.  Twice.  Why?" he asked, looking cautious.

"That temple, one of the other victims was one of ours."

"No, I was there before then.  The ones taking hostages to sacrifice were stopped by Hogar."

"Ah!"  He nodded.  "That makes more sense then, yes.  Though a few are convinced that you're the same person."

"He's like ten years older than I am," Xander complained.

"I know that but they're a bit on the idiotic side sometimes."

"I feel the same way about the slayers but I can paddle them when they're being brats."

"If I handed out spankings they might think it was a benefit of the job," James said sarcastically.  He walked off.  "Let me see if anyone can unweld that for you."

"There's a few other doors too if you can find someone."

"If I can."  He called that in and sure enough they did have people who could weld.  They were sped out there and James showed them the armory vault door.  They got it unsealed and Xander came up to try the two combinations he knew.  The main one worked.  James looked at him.  "How did you know it already?"

"Most of the lockers near the ritual rooms have the same combination.  I guess they figured if they only had to remember the single one, anyone who needed something during an emergency could get it."

"That makes sense," James agreed.  "Where did the weapon come from if this was locked?"

"The lesser ritual room.  There had been someone in there trying to pull up something to fight back the bad guys.  They had it with them."

"Yes, I'd probably have wanted a large weapon then as well."  They walked into the armory, which looked empty until Xander traced over the warding lines.  Then suddenly racks and racks of swords, shields, spears, and other weapons appeared.  Off to the right were the more practical guns and simple carry knives.  As well as a few things of artillery.  Xander walked over and then found the closet in there, opening it to show the stack of boxes.  James moaned, but got into them to see what was still useable.  He was not amused.  He really wasn't.

Xander grinned at him.  "It could be worse.  This could be your retirement position.  We do need an arms master."  James scowled.  He grinned before walking off to show the welding person the other doors.  He got them unsealed by that night.  James had called someone to pick up the weapons that they didn't want the boy to have.  "Thank you."

"What's in your personal collection?" James asked.

Xander snickered.  "No comment.  Most of mine I have to make sure still work since they got Willow'd."

"I see.  We could certify a small vault for emergencies."

Xander smiled.  "Which the US would hate so they won't.  I already asked."  He strolled off.  "I'm setting up the alarms for tonight."

"Good idea."  He closed the vault door and followed Xander down to the ground level again.  "We don't want to have to worry about your collection, Mr. Harris."

"It's Xander," he reminded him.  "And most of mine I'm not sure works until I can check it over.  It's been over a year since she got hold of them."

"I can do that for you."

"You'd confiscate things."  Xander stared at him and set the alarms.  "Ask me after LA next spring.  Then we'll talk."  He walked over to his truck and got in to go home.  He needed a shower.  His back was starting to hurt.

James considered it.  "What's going to happen in LA next spring?" he asked himself, then went to pay that nice Inspector a visit to see if he knew.  It might be able to be stopped beforehand if they were fast and good enough.


Andrew answered the door, staring at the agent on the other side.  "Xander's in bed because he ripped a muscle in his lower back."

"I wondered why he hadn't been there in the last few days."  He walked inside.  "What is going on this spring in LA?  Is there a way others can help?"

"Well, we need to find a way to disappear suddenly when it's done," Faith said from the study.  "Another artifact light up?"

"Not that I've heard.  He mentioned he might need some higher weapons this spring in LA?"

Faith nodded.  "Might help by what we're seeing.  X, you in shape for visitors?" she called up the stairs.

"Fuck.  No," floated back down.  "Not unless they've got painkillers."

"Sorry," she said with a grin.  "He's really cranky that the ER would only give him advil."

"We have no idea why they thought missing an eye meant you were a pain killer junkie," Andrew said.

"Most emergency rooms won't give out the good drugs in case one is an addict," James said.

"They were talking surgery for his back," Faith said.  "And then said, well, no you don't get painkillers then either."  She grinned.  "Our own doc is back in Cleveland."

"Doesn't he have a primary doctor yet?"

"He barely admits that doctors exist," Andrew said.  "Xander has never been the sort to go to the hospital.  It's amazing they made him go when his eye was popped."

"Eww," Faith warned.

"Sorry, Faith."  He led James up there, tapping first.  "Maybe he has some idea about a local doc that could help."

Xander moaned.  "I really don't like people seeing me when I can't move."

"I tend to hide in a small cabin in Spain by the coast," James said dryly.  "Ripped your back carrying something?"

"Ripped my back reaching for a plate of potatoes after all that.  The ER people laughed, even after I started to growl.  Thankfully I had a copy of my records here at the house."

"That is a handy thing, yes."  He stared at him.  "This spring?"

"Invasion light.  Bigger but fewer things."

"Can the US handle it on their own?"

"If they would quit being blind and actually handle it?  Yes.  Will they is another question."

"Good point I suppose.  How is this doing on your schedule of cleaning things up?"

"Faith, Dean, and Sam have been cleaning out the houses that the Council is auctioning off.  Giles doesn't like that idea but he agrees that there's not going to be enough need for them in the near future.  He doesn't like moving back to the ancient campus, thinks it'll still be too small.  Though I have pointed out we'd do less than fill one of the dorm buildings.  He thought there were more of us than that but I pointed out I hadn't recruited beyond Sam and Dean and neither had he."  James nodded.  "He still thinks it'll be too small.  I'm going to send him pictures because I think he's thinking of the wrong one.  He thought I was taking a vacation until Dawn chewed on him for me since I couldn't get out of bed.  The usual things that were why I retired."

"We checked on the charges they want to lay against you."

"I heard.  I like how they've decided that it's treason to save our own asses too.  All of those are from leaving Cleveland uncovered.  When I called someone I knew over there to touch base, I reminded him that I wouldn't have fled if it wasn't for their earlier stupidity and I didn't want shot again.  I lived through a couple of execution attempts thanks to evil bitches, I wasn't going to let the higher up evil bitches have me.  Then I promised that if they tried to kill me for saving myself and others that I'd end up on the side of the dark and they'd hate that."  He smirked.  "Tony agreed."

"How many times have people tried to kill you?"

"I was the evil one-eyed white man in Africa who showed up when things were going bad due to demons.  I got called a witch *many* times."

"I suppose that's normal for them then.  I've never been in the bush, only in a few of the cities."

"I made it over about eighty percent of the continent."

"Interesting."  He smiled.  "Do we have anything on what it is definitively?"

"We have rumors of what it'll be, a time coded prophecy, and my own vision a few days back," Xander offered.

"Most agents won't do anything with a vision."

"I'd love to let them have them instead of me."

"I'm sure I would feel the same.  Let me look those over and see if we can perhaps let them do it on their own."  He went back down to talk to Faith, who was in charge as far as he knew.  They had a very loose corporate structure that was hardly understandable to those with a more rigid way of doing things.

Xander shifted with a wince and got comfortable again.  He could handle this and be out of bed in a few days.  He had to be out of bed in a few days.  The US might be coming again.


Xander turned on the video conferencing system, smiling at the agent on the other side.  "Do not make me show up to kill you for taking them hostage."

"They've left, Mr. Harris."

"Good."  He smiled.  "Dawn, check on your sister subtly please?" he called.  "There's agents there."  He looked at the agent again.  "If you guys hadn't tried to arrest us for doing things you didn't want to do, you wouldn't have to handle Cleveland on your own."

"That's not our call.  Ours is to arrest and bring for trials."

Xander snorted.  "There's not going to be any trials.  They were going to execute anyone they could get on the say-so of that demon worm."  He stared at him.  "Which is why we all left and why you guys get to handle that on your own now."

"Still not my concern, sir.  Where in the UK are you?"

Xander smirked.  "Come at me, watch me destroy you," he said happily.  "Like I did the last set."  The officer shuddered.  "And there'll be more soon I'm sure.  If so, I'll handle it.  And then whoever shows up and lives through it can nicely go to the government."  He hung up and stood up slowly and carefully.  He was still barely moving.  "Guys, they're going to try us here," he called.

"We know," Andrew said, giving him a mug of something.  "That herbal stuff for your vision headaches."

"Thanks."  He sipped and grimaced.  "No honey?"

"None in the house."

Xander nodded.  "Okay then."  He looked around.  "Everyone else?"

"Safely away."  He grinned. "They're not happy."

"They're going to be even less happy when I react to us being attacked.  Speaking of, shouldn't you be somewhere safer, Andrew?"

"Probably."  He jogged off, getting on his scooter to head off.  He had a safe house set up and was letting the others use it.

Xander stretched once he finished his tea.  It helped loosen up the muscles and got more blood flowing into them.  It also made him slightly fuzzy headed.  Not enough to impair him but enough that he was in a goofy, happy mood.  Even when someone broke in the front door.  The gas grenade got tossed back with a laugh and Xander grabbed something, opening it.  Didn't work.  They were very close so he mentally said 'fuck it' and gave them what they wanted.  And then blew them up.  He scratched his empty eyesocket's edge, frowning at them.  "I was having a better day since I could move.  Pity."  He looked at the next thing, nodding.  "Willow'd too far."  He got it fixed with a bobby pin and used it on the next people through the doorway.  "I can do this most of the week," he called.  "I'm not a happy camper."

"Sir, the US wants you," a female voice called.

"That's nice.  They're trying to arrest me for surviving the demon worm's purge and letting them do it on their own.  They hated the Council existing.  Hell, I was retired before that.  It's their own damn fault and I'm not dying because they don't like it."  He heard a click and grinned at the guy behind him.  Then he ducked, spun, and killed him.  "Huh, not even demons this time."  He threw a gas grenade at the group in the kitchen then the ones in the doorway.  He waited and counted to ten then called the nice inspector.  "How many teams did they send?  I've taken out three."  He heard a fourth and hung up, going to find them.  They were in the library and he gassed them too.  Then he went to find something he had stored.  He brought it back and opened it, dragging most everyone into it.  Then it shut.  "Let them get out of the everlasting swamp," he said happily.  The few he left out were the commanders.  He tied them up and smiled at them pretending to play dead.  "I'm the nicer one, guys.  Rosenburg would make you pets."

One blinked at him.  "You're still wanted for treason."

"How is it treason when you guys hated that we handled things for you and saved the world?"

"Not our call to make."

"Hmm, and yet, I was retired until you guys tried shit."

"Still not our call, sir."

"How about this.  It's my call and I'm not the nice one."  Xander stared at him.  "Your people are safe...ish.  They probably won't die at the very least."  He stared at the horrified look.  "While Giles might be nice and academic.  Buffy might be an airhead outside apocalypse battles.  Willow might be a magic addict.  I'm the combat veteran of the group.  Giles sent me to Africa to train for a reason.  Beyond grieving but for a fairly good reason."  He stared at them.  "Now, you have a choice.  Who's your call-in person?"

"We don't have one," one sneered.

"Then you'd have a shitload of trouble getting me out of a foreign country," Xander pointed out.

"We have execute if necessary orders," one of the commanders sneered.

"No we don't," the first one awake said.  "Our orders say to bring him in for trial."

"Neither of which will happen.  I've already nearly had the firing squad treatment once for being an evil white man who showed up to handle demons."  They all stared at him.  "Nearly been burned to death too."  He stared back.  "I'm sorry you guys got the shitty orders.  I can put you with your people if you want.  It's still safe-ish."

"Are there creatures?" one of them demanded.

"Perhaps.  It's a swamp though."  He grinned.  "Very handy.  There's some slavers from Africa wandering around in it too, which I'd consider less safe than the alligators."

"Probably," the lone female agreed.  "How did you get your combat veteran status?"

"Eight years on the hellmouth with yearly apocalypses," he said bluntly.  "And then traveling to train slayers."  He stood up and winced.  "Fuck."  He rubbed his back.  "Sorry, was grabbing dinner."  He walked off, going to check the rest of the house.  He heard sirens and waved at the inspector.  "Four teams, right?"

"As far as we heard."  He got out and walked over.  "Are you injured?"

"Ripped my back the other day," he said quietly.  He led them to where the people were then handed over the artifact.  "The rest of the soldiers and some slavers from Africa.  It's a neverending swamp."

"That's handy."

Xander grinned.  "I got given that when I promised the next time someone tried to kill me I'd become an apocalypse that no one would win."  The inspector tried to stare him down.  Xander stared back.  "Yeah, that's one reason why I retired," he said dryly.  "Though, the offer still stands."  He walked off.  "Let me go take something for my back again.  Please have them.  Before I have to kill someone else."  He pointed at the one in the corner.  "He was sneaky and that's cute of him."

"Jesus, he's not right in the head," one of the commanders muttered.  The others glared at him.  "He's not!"

"We're lucky he didn't call something to eat us," the female said.

"That'd take a favor and I hate owing people," Xander said as he walked past the doorway with his phone.  He had no cell reception in the kitchen.  Outside he did.  "Aria, it's Xander.  Yeah, him.  No, US.  Willow'd.  Please?  Not that much and my back's kinda out.  How did you want paid?"  He listened.  "I have ten of them.  Sure.  I'm at home.  For now.  Thanks."  He hung up and walked back inside.  "I have got to undo the Willow'd weapons, which you guys won't like," he told the Inspector.  "Considering it's part of our apocalypse closet."

"I'd rather we had it," he said calmly.

"Yeah but I want it in case more come."  He smiled.  "By the way, they think they don't have a contact officer."

"We can figure that out."

"Feel free to use the house's torture chamber.  I'm only using it for the laundry room."  He hummed as he walked off.  That box of weapons got taken up to his room so he could check them over and fix things.  The Inspector and his people grabbed the soldiers to take off, one carefully carrying the artifact as well.  By the time Xander's weapons contact got there that night he was in a less happy mood.  His back was hurting again.  His weapons were working partially.  Very few but some.  He looked out the window when he heard the knock.  "Who is it?" he bellowed.  They stepped back and looked up.  "I'm in bed.  Who're you?"

"Aria sent me, Xander.  She said you needed things?"

"Many things.  It should be open."  The guy nodded and got up there a minute later.  "Sorry, screwed my back a few days ago."

"That's fine.  How do you know her?"

Xander smirked.  "Ask her about Swaziland."

"I was at the home office when that happened," he said, blushing a bit.

"That was Mark; I'm the guy that saved her from him when he got high."

"Oh!"  He nodded and smiled.  "She mentioned you a few times.  What's going on?"

"The US thing."

"US thing?"

"I'm a demon hunter."

"Oh," he said, grimacing.  "And they came for you."

"They so sent four teams here after me."  He smiled.  "They're not happy."

"I wouldn't be either.  Why don't you take over that island that you earned?"

"That's pretty blunt and kinda hidden.  Almost no one knows that was me.  That's my fallback and damn it spot."

"I get that.  The others in your group?"

"Here and there.  Andrew knows about the island.  I was drunkenly complaining the next day."

"Interesting.  I can do a few things.  I don't have much stock here."  He helped Xander move the tiny weapons.  "What happened to them?"

"I had Willow shrink them for easy carrying and hiding in Africa.  They've been down too long."

"Damn."  He looked them over, taking a few to fix.  "That's not that hard to undo."

"Then you have to unmagic them and make sure the fix held," Xander said, handing him the charm to do that.  "Other than that, I'm not sure what I'm doing."

"The island would probably be for the best.  It's safe.  The government doesn't have tight ties to the US."

"I know but I have to finish cleaning out the bad artifacts here."

"That's also a problem.  How many are useable?"

"Most.  Unfortunately most of them."

"Then move everything there."

"We don't have enough room for that."  He grimaced.  "If I had won the bigger island...."

The man smiled.  "I heard how you won it.  How drunk were you?"

"It was my ass or my life.  I wanted to live and I'd heal from that."

"That's a good point."  He nodded.  "I can see that very easily.  Who has the bigger island?"


"Is he amenable to a change?"

"No.  I can kill him but I probably shouldn't.  He's kinda big in the demon underground and it'd make me enemies.  More than usual anyway."

The man nodded.  "Okay."  He got that one fixed and checked then went onto the next one.  "Are you considering evacuating?"

"A lot."

"Any idea how you'd get things there?"

"Yes.  There's a treaty of aid in times of great emergency.  I think they'd like to have the attacks stopped."

"Probably, yes."  He handed that one over.  "I'd do that."

Xander smiled.  "There's more than one island."

"I heard.  Then again, even you can't be Octopussy, even with all the nubile young slayers."

Xander grinned.  "Don't tempt me."  The man laughed.  "Can we find me something so I can hold off another one?  Is that a flashing light?"  The guy got up to look and nodded.  Xander sighed.  "Fine."  He did the packing spell that Dawn had left and then called the beings over the treaty.  He bowed and looked at them.  "The US has attacked the Council."

"We are aware," the Little Person said.

"They're going to kill the rest of us."

"We have heard you defended against them."

"I can't do it now.  I'm too injured at the moment."

"What aid did you need?"

"All the artifacts from all the campuses, the libraries, all the slayers, the remaining watchers, and all my things there."

The two beings talked then nodded.  "That is not that hard. Though we cannot move all the slayers."

"We can get word to them about where we are," Xander decided.  They nodded and it was done.  "Thank you."

"We wish you much luck," the one said.  He bowed.  Xander bowed back.  They left.

Xander walked out of his new bedroom.  "What the fuck is this?" Sam demanded.

"At one point in time I was captured.  Fully captured.  Was going to be killed for being Council," Xander told him, which made Dean groan.  "They told me if I fought my way out I'd be killed faster but if I participated in their games then I could win my freedom.  So after having a 'my ass or my life' talk with someone, I made the Queen beg.  This is my reward island."  He grinned.  "Dean, is your car here?"

"Let me check."  He went outside, coming in nodding.  "She's pristine and the trunk is full.  "This place is tiny, Xander."

"It's actually not."  He walked out and the things holding the island hidden were broken.  Dean moaned at the view in front of them.  "We have enough room to train the slayers," he said quietly.  "We have some food growing and some that we'll have to buy.  Dawn, please go unWillow the weapons?"  She nodded, going to do that.  "Here is uncontested and unowned because the people who should own it know that it's demon owned."  He looked at Dean.  "This is my next-to-last-resort fall back."

"What's your absolute last resort?" Dean asked.


Dean nodded.  "No way anyone would find you if you didn't want them to."  He sighed, looking around.  "It's warm.  Unlike England, there's sun too."

"We're near the Middle East."  Dean gave him a pointed look.  "We're just below the Tropic of Cancer line and closer to India than Oman.  There's actually a boat so we can go to any of the countries.  There's Oman, Iran, Pakistan, and India within good reach."  Dean gaped.  He grinned.  "The boat's charmed so even those who don't know how to use a boat can use the boat.  I'm told it'll teach you how to use it as you do.  It'll reach any of the ports that're marked on its map within a day."

"So we're magically within a day of the Middle East or India," Dean said to make sure.  Xander nodded and grinned.  "You couldn't be in Greece?"

"Well, I could have been.  There's people I can trade this island with to get theirs but more friendly to the US.  Also more well known."  He walked off.  "We have a small airfield."

"Is this fantasy island?" Dean demanded as he followed.

"Not that many women here," Xander said dryly.  "So unless I'm your fantasy, nope."

"Well, maybe that'll change," he decided.  "Are we calling the slayers here?"

"Yes.  The ones in the most danger first."  Xander paused to look at him.  "I need you to take over my old job of training."

"I can do that," he agreed.

"Thanks.  We have to locate the group with Giles.  There were soldiers or agents there.  Andrew went to his own safehouse too."  He went back inside to find his backup phone.  He called Andrew.  "It's me.  Find Giles, tell him where the island is on your way here. Get the girls too, Andrew.  Thank you.  Yeah.  And bring food?  Thanks, man."  He hung up and went to look over things.  All his stuff was there.  The entire library was in the library.  All of Dawn's stuff was here and sorted out.  They could handle this and if they had to, they could hide here for a while too.

"Oh my fucking god, there's a baby dragon!" Sam shouted.

"His name's Belle," Xander called.  "He's only a meat eater if you wake him up and piss him off, then offer him fingers."  He went to the kitchen.  He really needed something for his back and the medical kit should be in there.

"Who named the dragon after a Disney princess?" Dawn called.

"No clue.  He was a present from one of Visha's cousins."  He found the pills and took two, then went to lay down on a hammock.  It had a nice breeze.


Andrew snuck up on his target.  "You're fairly noisy," James complained.

"Not all of us can be super stealth Xander."  He grinned.  "Xander's moved everything to the island he won when it was him playing or his life."  James choked on his beer.  "That was our thought too but he healed nicely afterward and they respect him now for winning it."  He grinned.  "He said you're allowed as the ambassador of the UK.  It's been demon owned for so long most people don't even admit it exists.  Anyway, I'm off to rescue Willow and them.  And then get the girls there."  He grinned.  "Xander's already said I can't pretend to be Octopussy.  We're too far to the east for that."  He walked off happier.

"Where is it?" James called after him.


James moaned.  "That's not much of a clue."

Andrew turned and waved with a  grin.  "I'm not saying anything in case the people who always watch you hate Xander too."  He disappeared.  He was going to pretend to be Xander for a bit.  He had studied him a lot; he could do that.  He even had some of the weapons.   Well, knock out grenades.  He hated weapons since the First had made him stab Jonathan.  He knocked out most of the prison that had the girls and Giles.  "We're on the island."  He grinned at Buffy.  "There's got to be a cot for you to sleep there."

"That might be nice.  I think they killed a few of the girls."

"Then Xander will kill them," Andrew reminded her.  She relaxed and nodded.  Willow was crying.  "Kennedy?" she asked quietly.

"She knocked Willow out of the way of the bullet," Giles said, rubbing his face.  "How long do we have?"

"Two more minutes.  Willow!" Andrew called, making her look up.  "We're on the island."

She rubbed her face.  "We have to bury them."

"Then we've got to knock people out again."  She waved a hand and magic rippled around them.  "Okay.  Airport?"

She nodded, calling one of Xander and Spike's contacts from Sunnydale.  He could get them to Xander.  Andrew checked.  They had gotten a few of the girls and there was no evidence of Kennedy.  He hugged her.  "I'm sorry," he whispered.

"I'll be okay but they'll pay."

"If we become what they fear they'll never leave us alone," Andrew said quietly, making her look at him. "They'll keep coming until they kill all the others.  If they all fall, then go Darth Rosenburg."  She relaxed and nodded.  "For now, let's do a quick burial, cremation, and move on."

She concentrated and did that.  She felt another one somewhere else catch too.  "One of the girls in Asia died."

"We'll handle it.  We need to get everyone to the island."

"Where is the island?" she asked.  "And what is it?"

"Remember when Xander got captured?"

"He did?" she demanded.

"Way, way back when.  Back on his first tour of Africa."

She slumped.  "We didn't know.  We're rotten friends."

"You can and a few others can hide somewhere if you want," he assured her.  "Xander, Dean, Sam, Dawn, and Faith have most everything in hand."  She nodded.  Their contact got there and helped remove them to the island.  They were on the other side of it.  Andrew called.  "We're here but on the volcano side."  He nodded.  "Okay, thanks."  He hung up.  "We're living on the western side according to Sam.  This isn't."  The rest of the slayers appeared, some looking startled and one nearly naked.  "Sorry, Mitra."

"It's all right, I was showering off goop anyway."  Their bags appeared at their feet.  "Where are we?"


Mitra grimaced.  "I hate that they captured him but at least he managed to find a way free."  She put on clothes.  "How far?"

"Few miles I think," Andrew said.  "I know we need to head west."

One of the native slayers climbed a tree to look.  "More like a few hundred miles, Andrew.  I can't even see the other end."

Andrew had one of the mapping robots in his stuff so he summoned it and had it make a map of the island.  They all sighed when they saw it.  "Okay, so twenty miles.  We have a few good camping and resting spots though."  They nodded and hiked off.  He took the robot with them.  Some of the girls were whiny and complained but the rest glared.  Buffy especially glared.  Andrew gave her a hug.  She calmed down and let herself grieve on the walk there.  Giles helped hold her up for now.  It was all they could do at the moment.


Nine hours later, Dean welcomed them at the gates.  "Ladies, I'm Dean Winchester.  The group in England rescued myself and my brother from the US and the apocalypse they were starting with our hunting family."  He opened the gates.  "To the left and through the trees, down the path, is a large house with a ton of beds that aren't being used."

Buffy stared at him.  "Hi, Dean."

He hugged her briefly.  "Hey, Buffy.  Go rest.  We can talk tomorrow."  She nodded, leading the way that way.  "And ladies, no one hits on my little brother Sammy without my permission."  A few grinned at him.  He looked at Andrew.  "Long breaks?"

"They're all tired.  Xander?"

"Hammock, blissed out on something for his back."

"Good."  He walked off.  "Let me check the other buildings."

"We have, Andrew.  Did you bring food?"

"I have some being brought.  I used my scrambled satellite phone to call a few demon contacts that Spike had."

"How did you get a scrambled satellite phone?" Dean asked, following him to the main building.

"Xander suggested it'd be a great idea.  He has one too.  He doesn't really use it outside of the field problems.  Faith and Buffy had them too.  Giles refused to use a cellphone."

"Figures from what we've heard about him not liking computers."  They walked into the main house and Dean sighed in pleasure at the air conditioning.  "This heat's going to take some getting used to."

Andrew grinned.  "We're near the equator.  Of course it's hot."  He grinned.  "No snow."

"Yay," Dean said dryly.  "There's supposed to be snow sometimes.  Even if it does make digging up a corpse to salt and burn it a bitch."  He walked off.  "Sammy, it's always going to be warm.  You can leave two or three layers off," he called as he walked.

Faith cackled.  "He does always look snuggly."

"Still can't date my brother without permission," Dean quipped with an evil smirk for her.  "We want someone who wants Sammy for more than his giant brain and trouble magnet issues."

"Not me.  It'd be like dating Xander's smarter brother."  She strolled off.  "All the minis?"

"In the other building," Dean said.

"Good."  She went to the kitchen.  There was suddenly a deep freezer and it was full of pizza.  "Are we turtles now, Andrew?"

"Yes, for at least a day."

"Okay then."  She found some pizza bites and nuked them for a snack on her way to investigate her room.  It had nice ceiling fans and large windows that opened without screen so she'd have bugs.  Thankfully there was some netting around the bed. They had demon cable too.  That was interesting but she had happened on their version of the food network so she found something nicer to watch.


Xander got woken by a shove the next morning, blinking at Buffy.  "I screwed up my back."

"Is that helping it?"

"No but the pain pills did."  He yawned and got up carefully, not minding in the least when she held the hammock for him.  "Dean's doing drills and training while I finish with the artifact problem."  He kissed her on the temple.  "You need more sleep."


"Andrew can make you my vision tea.  It'll help."  She nodded, going back toward where she could hear Andrew swearing at bugs.  Xander listened.  "It used to have a bug spell," he called.  "Make some of your anti-bug potion, Andrew."

"Thank you!"  The foul cloud drove Buffy out of the kitchen but the bugs ran out too.  A few tried to run into the house but Buffy stomped on them and they ran the other way.  Andrew came out to fume the rest of the house, which was probably a good idea.  Though Faith could be heard stomping some of the bugs.  Not successfully by the way she was swearing.  Then there was a crack of noise and all the bugs fled the building.  "Way to go," Xander called, heading for his bottle of lighter pain killers.  He took two, got a bottle of water to sip on his way to the bathroom, then went back to his hammock.  That was better.  He was snoring within a few minutes.

Buffy stared at him then at Andrew.  "How much did he hurt himself?"

"He strained it moving a lot of artifacts and then screwed it worse during dinner.  The docs there refused to give him more than advil for it."

"Ow."  She went to check on him, finding Dawn doing it.  "You're okay," she sighed, hugging her.

"Of course I am.  Xander's the ultimate big brother protector.  We've been hanging out in England helping him move artifacts and researching this spring."

"That might get left to them to handle.  I don't feel like saving anyone's chubby butt."  She walked off again.  "Ladies, let's get back into the routine," she called once she was nearer to the other building.  "Morning PT and stretching.  Now."  They groaned but most came down to do it.  Sam and Dawn went to get up the others so they could help.  They found one dead.  No marks on her.  Buffy huffed and went to wake up Xander.  "Are there demons here?" she demanded.

"Not since I won it," he said through a yawn.  "What happened?"

"Mitra died in bed."

"She had been fighting something," Andrew reminded her quietly.  "Could that have been poisonous and she didn't tell us?"

Buffy groaned, going to see if she had something to show what she had been fighting.  She found some goo covered clothes but they were older.  "No, she got hit by poison snot and demon blood at least a few days back."  She showed the girls.  "That's always poisonous when you see it."  They nodded.  Dean and Sam came to respectfully gather her and they started a new slayer burial tradition that morning.  Buffy watched what they were doing.  "Why the salt?"

"So she can't come back as a spirit," Dean said.  "The same as the cremation will be."

She nodded.  "I guess that makes sense."  They let the girls saying their goodbyes then lit up the corpse.  "We've got to get Giles to go over identification," she said once it was burned out.

"Not Xander?" one sneered.

"He threw his back and he's napping off the painkillers," Buffy said.  "Besides, Giles tells us how to kill things and Xander trains us to make sure we can handle it."  She looked at Dean and Sam.  "I'm guessing you guys are still helping."

"I'll be doing the training while Xander deals with the artifact issue," he told her with a smile.  "Sammy's a research nerd so he's been helping Dawn and them."

"That's fine.  We need breakfast then we'll spar."  They glared at her.  She glared back.  "It's not like we're totally safe now.  The US could come again."  Most slumped.  "Though I'm pretty sure Xander has some weapons if they do since we can't kill humans."

"He held off some in England before we moved," Dean said quietly.  "Used a little thing that led to a neverending swamp to safely capture most of them."

"Good!"  She walked off grimacing.  "Andrew?" she called.

"I put fruit baskets in the dining room out there," he called back.  "I'm baking bread and things to go with it."

"Cool.  Girls, fruit in our dining room."  They went to look.  It was fresh picked, it was sweet, and it was a good breakfast.  They all got messy from the fruit and then went to bathe, change, and then get back to sparring with Dean.


Giles walked around the large ball of artifact.  "Xander, how could you let that happen?" he complained.

"I didn't let it happen.  It happened when some of the stretching spell undid itself."

"You should have started in the more temporary rooms."

Xander looked at him.  "That would've required me to do magic to know which one that was."  Giles flinched.  "As is, there was a lot more than you thought since that was on the eighth level down in the basement.  It had six more from the bottom up.  All stuffed full of shit that wasn't on any inventory and usually just shoved together.  All those were in two rooms that ended up joined.  I had no way of knowing it was going to do that until it happened."

"That was bloody stupid of them," Giles muttered.

Xander nodded.  "They did tons of stupid stuff down there.  That wasn't the only merged thing.  And a few the UK wanted to keep safe so I let them."  He rolled over in his hammock with a moan, holding his back.

"Did we not see a physician?" Giles demanded.  "You have to take care of yourself, Xander."

"I did see one.  He said if it didn't heal they might want to go in to sew some of the muscles back together and then refused to give me more than advil.  Right now, I'm resting it and hoping like hell that it heals."

"Fine.  I suppose that's a bit normal in today's world."  He sighed, looking around.  "Where is Connor?"

"He and Gunn are at one of my hiding spots," Andrew called, coming to the door.  He glared at Giles then glanced at Xander and glared at him again.  Giles backed down.  "They'll be here in two days."

"That's good.  As long as they're safe."

"Most of the hunters in the US headed north or south, depending on which was closer," Andrew said.  "We've kept in touch with Dean and Sam's father.  He's in Canada."

"That's good.  What about this spring?"  Xander shrugged and muttered.  Giles rolled his eyes.  "You could go to your bed."

"My bed is less supportive than the hammock."

"We can find a board for it."

"It's still an ancient, squishy mattress I need to replace.  Actually I should replace the whole bedroom suite because it reminds me of how I won this island."

"Why did we not hear when you were captured?"

Xander opened his eye to look at him.  "You did.  You were sure I'd find some way out of it because all the slayers were busy right them.  That was about two weeks before Kennedy's thing."  He slumped and nodded.  Xander closed his eye and let himself drift off again.  "Library's toward the beach for some reason.  Sam should be there.  He and Dawn are research people so they've been working together and with the hunters."

"That's good."  He left him to rest, heading for the library.  Giles smiled.  "They managed all the books from all the campuses and the houses."

"We asked for aid due to the treaty," Dawn said.  "The one that wanted Xander to clean a house of demonic things is still pissed but we pointed out it wasn't Xander's so he couldn't loot it."

"Me, Dean, and Faith looted most of it but apparently he missed a few things," Sam said with a smile for Giles.  "We found a local hunter there and he said he'd go over it with a finer tooth comb and let the Little People have them.  Since no one's able to find an owner to ask."

"That's fine.  They should accept that.  If Xander had done it, it would've been considered theft."

Sam nodded.  "Which is why we did it for him.  That way if we needed to, we could be accused but we weren't with the Council really then."

"Good thinking," Giles said, patting him on the back.  "This spring?"

"No clue," Dawn admitted.  "We know what due to the prophecy.  We know how to kill them.  We have no idea how to get there, handle it, and then get away safely."  She showed him the book.  "Buffy doesn't feel like we should go."

"I can agree on one level with that sentiment but it'd be wrong to do so," Giles said quietly.  He looked at them.  "It's not a huge problem and we'll handle it."  They nodded.  He sat down to read over what they had.  "That's going to be nasty."

"Probably," Sam agreed.  "Xander pointed out to a few people that if they hadn't tried to capture all of you, and then us, that you'd still be there handling problems so they made their own issues."

"And then they wanted to arrest and charge everyone for not handling problems," Dawn snorted.  "I think they're full of shit."

"Where are the other researchers?" Giles asked.

"Hiding in colleges.  I'm guessing they removed their marks or hid them somehow," she said.

"Quite possibly."  He sighed and got back to his reading.  "How soon before Xander heals?"

"We'll be lucky if he doesn't need surgery," she said bluntly.  "I went with him to the ER.  The docs were almost certain he'd need some."  Giles grimaced.  "And that with the missing eye he was probably a pain pill junkie."

"No, I don't think he takes any most of the time."

"Not really."  She looked at her list.  "So far we've got a few things we need to shop for.  New bedroom for Xander.  A lot more food.  Some training gear and helpers.  Some more containment boxes considering how massive the artifact collection is."  Giles nodded.  "Sword and weapon cleaning supplies.  We also need to make a statement."

"I would rather not," Giles said.

"They're going to come again and if people aren't on our side it's going to get worse," she said.

"I can see that point but I'd rather let it die down a bit."

Dawn shook her head.  "Diedre's here."

Giles moaned.  "Oh, fuck."

Dawn grinned.  "Yup, probably."

"Damn it."  He looked around.  "Diedre!" he bellowed.  She came jogging in.  She was a pretty young woman, the girlfriend of one of the slayers.  "Is there going to be a stink about you being here?"

She winced.  "I didn't even think about that.  How do you work the vid conferencing system?"

"I'll help," Sam said, getting up to take her to the office.  "Why are they so worried?"

"My uncle has custody of me and he's the President, Sam."

"Oh!"  He nodded.  "Yeah, they're going to throw a fit."  She smirked and nodded.  He got her logged onto the system and let her put in the number to call.  It came up and he got out of the way, heading to get a drink.


He glared.  "Who has you hostage?" he demanded.

"No one.  I'm not a hostage.  I came to be with my girlfriend."

"They're brainwashing you too!" he shouted, brining guards.

She sighed.  "Uncle, shut up!  I'm not being brainwashed!  I've had a girlfriend now for six years."

"You brought home those boys," he said firmly.

"They were the ones I was tutoring, not the ones I was screwing."

"Your last exam said you're not a virgin," he growled.

"First, that's awfully invasive of my privacy and you don't have that right since I'm an adult," she sneered.  "Secondly, that's why someone brilliant made latex."  Her uncle flinched back.  "I'm calling to tell you I'm all right.  I haven't been kidnaped.  I'm with my girlfriend and we're doing okay."  She smiled at the guards.  "He was never this prudish or such an asshole before.  Are you sure the former demon didn't influence him?"

The guard winced.  "We aren't sure how to check, Diedre.  Where are you?"

"Safe."  She smiled.  "Somewhere you aren't.  Since you wanted to punish the slayers for being attacked by the demon's orders, and then having to run for their lives, I don't want to be part of the US any longer.  What would you have done if you had killed them on his orders?  You were going to execute them.  Buffy was saved."  The head guard winced.  "So now you're wanting to kill them for not handling things because you guys attacked them so they couldn't handle things.  Real wise."  She glared at her uncle.  "Tell Auntie that I'm fine and I'll call her later from someone's phone."

"You'll come home now or I'll have you found," he warned.

She leaned closer to the camera.  "Uncle, do not start.  I will *so* hold a press conference about what the slayers have been through.  Not like I wasn't in the building when they raided.  Actually, I was in bed with my girlfriend when they raided."  Her uncle started to splutter and choke.  "Good day, gentlemen.  I'll call my aunt in a few days."  She hung up and got up.  "I need real clothes," she noted to Andrew.

He stared at her.  "Go bum from Buffy."  She nodded, going to do that.  She came back and he looked at her.  "What?"

"Shopping list?"


"Good.  Boat, plane?"

"Boat, takes a day to get anywhere.  Plane, we have a landing strip."

She smiled and called someone.  Plus her bank account's manager.  He was more than happy to hear from her and that she was going to be perfectly safe.  He also told her that her uncle had went on TV and demanded her return from whoever had taken her hostage.  She promised she was going to fix it on the way to the boat with Dawn and Sam.


Diedre walked up to a news station, earning a few gasps.  "My uncle was apparently under the influence of that demon worm who used to be his VP.  May I make a statement?"  She smiled.

"Yes," the reporter said, grabbing a camera and walking her to a studio.  "What happened?"

She smiled.  "I'm madly in love with one of the slayers.  I got caught up in their purge and now the new purge because they were almost purged."  The reporter groaned.  "Therefore I'm going to make myself quite clear."  He nodded and let her make her statement.  She took off the head scarf during it to prove it was her.  She was wearing a new chic outfit, Buffy's had been too small for her.  She reminded them that punishing the ones saving everyone for saving everyone was always a bad idea and there were many who desired not to do the duty if they could help it.  She looked right at the camera, speaking to her uncle about how big of an idiot he was.  Then she walked off.  She kissed her girlfriend and they went shopping for the hoard.  Dawn had control of the funds and the lawyers for the Council had agreed to that need.  They even found a nice pilot who could fly the supplies back faster for Andrew so the girls didn't have to live on fruit.


James watched the report in replay.  M had called him up to see it.  "She's in Oman."

"Why there?" she demanded.

"I'm told Harris won an island when he was captured, as a way of getting free.  All the Council's Housemother said was 'it's in Arabia' and it was held by demons so long that no one admitted it existed."

"So possibly in the Arabian sea," she said, finding a map.  "There's no islands close to Oman."

He frowned, pointing at the Maldives.  "That's closer to India.  There's other islands not marked."

"Yes but they're generally just spots of grass or dirt."  He got her assistant in to pull up Google satellite images of the area.  No, there were a few larger islands out there that weren't on any map.  M stared.  "That's quite weird.  How did they do that?"

"If they were demon controlled they may have hidden them somehow."  He let them fiddle with the image by logging into one of the spy satellites.  "That's where they are," he said with a point.  "There's a lot of heat signatures there and a few large buildings."

The assistant looked.  "This one as well."  She showed him.

He countered the heat signatures.  "There's fewer than the other one.  I know there's about three hundred slayers and about sixty watchers left."

"Well, that gives us two targets.  Her uncle wants her back safely."

He smirked.  "Andrew did say I could be the diplomatic liaison."  He walked off to pack and find a way there.  He doubted Virgin Air went there.  Karachi was on the Arabian Sea so perhaps it was close enough.  He booked a flight to there.

M smiled.  "I'm sure James will get right on that situation and straighten it out."

Her assistant looked at her.  "The girl didn't look kidnaped.  He might have to find out how to tell if the President is under control, ma'am."

"Perhaps.  If so, our PM will throw a fit I'm sure."  She smiled and got some tea to sip while she did paperwork.  Karachi?  That was a bit sensible but she would've went to Oman.  Though they had no operatives in the area to help him so she supposed Pakistan was the next best thing.


The girls on patrol had a surprise visitor drop in.  They stared at the man who landed in the field, looking at each other.  "Andrew said he had met him," one hissed.  The others nodded so they ran out to pounce him.  James was ready but he wasn't going to hurt the girls that were trying to hug him of all things.  "Hi," one said with a grin.

"Hello.  Is Xander here?"

"Napping on his hammock."  They giggled and led him to the main house.  Andrew was in a foul mood so they all got banished to the library and locked in.  They sighed and settled in.  "Andrew," she explained.  "His bug potion didn't work and he's in a bad mood.  It's the anniversary of when the First started to make herself known."

"Xander's going to have some bad days soon," another of the girls agreed quietly.  "The anniversary of him losing his eye is sometime in a month."  They all sighed and nodded.  Thankfully she had her phone.  She called Dean.  "Andrew locked us and our visitor in the library, Dean.  He locked you in your room?  That sucks.  Please.  When you can.  I'll call Dawn."  She did that and told her to send out a few girls on patrol since they were locked in.


Dawn hung up from her sister and walked down there, finding Andrew slinging things around.  She walked up behind him and hugged him.  "We all miss people, Andrew.  I miss Mom a lot," she said quietly.  "The same as you miss Jonathan."  He turned and held her, crying a bit.  "The dead can hear us.  They can hear when we think about them.  I'm not sure why Mom didn't come back to beat Buffy for her swearing about having to raise me but I'm sure she heard it."  She cuddled him.  "Jonathan can hear you and he's probably pouty that you're sad."

He pulled back, wiping off his eyes.  "You think so?"  She nodded.  "I'm sorry I'm being so girly."

She snorted.   "Sometimes you gotta get it out, Andrew."

"Xander wouldn't."

"Bullshit.  He doesn't let us see it because it'll make the others think he's even more weak, but he does."  Andrew nodded, hugging her again.  "It'll be okay.   Someday you'll have a little Jonathan and a little Warren, though he hopefully will be better than his namesake.  They can do all the stuff you three had planned."

"I guess."  He smiled.  "I can't ever get the girl."

"You're trying too hard.  You flirt with the worst cows in existence so of course you get turned down.  Those sort only want you if you have bling, a recording contract, and a hot car.  You have brains.  Hell, Gates got a supermodel."

Andrew laughed.  "Yeah, he did."  He gave her a squeeze.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Now unlock everyone?  The girls in the library said we had a visitor."

"They can stay there until Xander's awake again."

"We've got to get someone to look at his back or a healing spell."

"I'm looking."

"Me too."  They shared a look and decided to kidnap their former doc from Cleveland.  She had moved to Mexico to practice in case they came for her.  She was a great doctor and had little patience with Xander's moodiness when he was injured.  Or Buffy's crankiness when she was injured.  They called first to be nice then Dawn got her there.  She went to check Xander's back, waking him slightly.  He was in happy pill land though so he could only grunt and drool.


James looked over as the library door opened the next morning, and not a moment too soon before the girls thoroughly warped him as well.  He had somehow gotten dragged into a talk about boybands of all things.  Though some day they were going to be gorgeous young women he might flirt with.  Maybe in ten or so years.

Buffy looked at them.  "Who're you?" she asked.

"James.  I was one of the UK liaisons to Xander when he was cleaning up the Council's building."

"Oh, okay."  She nodded.  "He's still out in happy pill land.  The doc agreed with him doing that and said he'll probably need some surgery."  She let them out.  "Andrew made eggs."  The girls ran for the kitchen.  She looked at James.  "You look familiar."

He smiled.  "I get that a lot."

"Uh-huh.  Flirt with Xander, not the slayers.  The slayers are all younger, good girls.  Xander could be a bad Bond girl though."  She walked off.  "He's still in his hammock."

"Is Diedre here?"

"Yup.  Probably at breakfast."  She led him that way.  "Diedre?"  She looked over and blinked at them.  "He helped Xander in England."

"Wow."  She walked over.  "You're cute enough I might give up the girlfriend for you," she flirted with a grin.

"I'd never try to change a lesbian from her lover.  It'd lead to later doubts and then fights.  A happy relationship is always better."  He winked and smiled.  "Your uncle has asked the UK to return you."

"I'd rather the UK found a way to see if he was under demonic control."

"We fully agree on that issue.  Is there a way?"

"Yes.  There's a very simple potion, a dust sort not a drinking sort, that can do that."  She led him to Dawn to go over what that would need.  He sent that back to his boss via less than secure email.  He wasn't going to log into their intranet here if he could help it.

"We have satellite service," Dawn quipped.  "Demonic in origin but really handy.  It means we have six hundred stations of demon shows."

"Including their version of food network," Andrew called.  Then shuddered.

"I had no idea they have television stations."  He settled in to go over what had happened this time.  He had helped get the people out of the swamp.  The slavers too, though those went right to jail.  A few wanted back in the swamp instead of jail but pity.  Not how the judicial system in England worked.


The Prime Minister of England smiled at the people there to meet him.  "One of my agents is with Diedre to make sure she's quite fine."

"Is she in the UK?" the man asked.

"No.  She refuses to and she is an adult.  He has made sure she's not captive."

"Her Uncle...."

The Prime Minister smiled.  "We want to test him for demonic taint."  His agents surrounded the group and took the president off quietly to be tested for all the types of taint that his agent had found out about.  They found quite a lot and had to find out how to remove it quickly and without danger.  That herbalist Harris had sent them to had a lot of ideas and knew how to do that.  They watched him mix the potions and then let the President have them.  By the end he was nearly sobbing.  The Prime Minister showed up once it was all done, smiling at him. "Your niece is quite fine with her girlfriend."

"I still don't think she's like that."

"Pity since she's been with her young woman since before she got Called into service."  He stared at him, scowling some.  "The slayers are really very nice, even if they have offered to trade my agent for some chocolate.  Personally the rest of the world thinks that you're insane."  He smiled.  "Now, how would you like to handle your own apocalypse this coming spring?"

One of the Secret Service guys coughed.  "There is?"

"Yes.  I'm told there is.  I'm also told that the slayers aren't sure they want to save your behinds this time.  I agree with your niece, as does most of the world.  You brought it on yourselves."  He smiled again.  "They're planning on how to get there, handle it, and then disappear before you lot can capture them again."

The president stood up.  "There won't be one.  Robert said there wasn't."

"That's because he was going to eat all of humanity so they wouldn't need one," the Prime Minister said.  "It's a damn shame it's not election year for you."  He walked off.  "We're having a formal dinner in two hours if you can be civil and sane."

"How dare he," the President sneered.

The guards all looked at him.  "Sir, most of the Secret Service feels the same way he does," one said quietly.  "We're sorry."  The president huffed off and they had to follow him.  It was their duty.  They understood the quandary that the slayers found themselves in all too well.


James looked over Dean's plans, shaking his head.  "That's much too open."

"We can't pick the spot or make it come to us," Dean said, leaning on the table.  "It sucks but that's what we're dealt this time."

James nodded.  "Which does indeed blow."  He pointed at something.  "What's that?"

"Movie theater the last time Connor or Gunn were in LA."

"Hmm."  He considered things.  "You can't make them move it?"


"What about the military?"

"We're praying they're slow."  He shrugged a bit.  "And the agents in the city too."

"Perhaps some warning to clear out the area?"

"That would definitely mean more soldiers and agents there," Dean countered.

"True.  Though you'd want the people out of there."

"I'm going to blow up part of the sewer," Xander said as he wobbled in.  "When did you get here?"

"Three days ago.  The girls have decided I'm now a hostage to get chocolate in exchange."

Xander snorted.  "They're girls, forgive them."  James smiled at him.  "Yeah, I'm still in sucky pain.  The doc said I do need surgery this time."  Dean winced.  "She knows some nice Indian docs who went home so she's calling them for a recommendation."  He pointed.  "They can't put it in the intersection.  Too many wires that would interrupt the portal.  It has to be out of it so nothing can touch it."  Dean moved that back a few feet.  "My plan starts with blowing up something here," he said with a point, marking the spot.  "That would clear the area and wouldn't bring military or agents.  We can use the methane demons that're local because they always want to blow up things anyway."

"That could damage the streets," Dean said.

"Yeah but they'll love the rubble and we can be surrounding the area," Xander said, marking a few areas.  "That cuts off all the running options and gives them the worst footing.  They'll stumble out and then be taken out because they're not fully on balance those first few steps."

"That'll lead to more to handle," Dean said.

"Yup, it could.  But by the time we're being overloaded the military should be up from San Diego.  Which means we can use the cover of the battle to disappear and let them handle it.  The last few can watch to make sure it's going all right."

Dean looked at James.  Who shrugged.  "I wouldn't want to leave in the middle of a battle but if I knew the replacements were there I'd gladly disappear to save myself.  That would let me handle the immediate until they fixed it themselves."  Xander nodded.  "Which is a good balance to the fight the girls are having."

"I'm having the same argument.  I don't really care at the moment.  Which makes me pissed at myself."  He moved a few things.  "Buffy's group.  Faith's group.  Three other slayer led groups.  Smaller, least battle ready ones behind as a backup in case one tries to get out of the trap."

James nodded.  "That might be the best option you have.  I can't see many other options if things like snipers won't work."

"No and we have to magically guard against them," Xander said.  "Or give us some way to know when they're moving into place."  He looked back at Connor and Gunn, who were staring at them.  "LAPD?"

"Don't want it to happen in LA and will help the slayers.  They're not going to try to capture us," Gunn said.  "I called and the commander said word was passed down that there was another one this spring, that the girls were deciding if they would be there and risk their lives for them, and that they might have to act faster.  If so, they'd back us up and give us a bit of cover when we needed to scatter and fade."

"That'll work well," Xander agreed.  "The few who would call agents won't have the plans until it happens.  Then it should be fairly obvious."  They all nodded.  "Anything you can see going tragically wrong?" he asked James.  "I figure you have more experience."

"I did from my time in the Navy," he admitted.  "But I think that's probably the best probable plan at this point."  They nodded and took pictures then erased the board.  "The girls?"

"Will be worked on starting in March to get their positions down," Xander said.  "That way they're used to sparring with their group so they know who's going to do something out of the ordinary during a fight."

"They've all trained together," Dean agreed.  "Mostly to handle things as a team but with any slayer that's available."

"Like the police do, we want them all to be on the same page, even if some do have special skills or things that tip their styles toward certain ways," Xander said.  "That way they can trust any slayer that's field cleared to be able to handle things."  That got a nod.  "My logistical nightmare is getting them there and then back."

"I tend to go for the fake identity," James said.

"We can't all come from the same place.  They're going to be looking for smaller, strong women.  The only good thing we'll have is there's a gymnastics meet that weekend."

"International?" Gunn asked.

"No, unfortunately not."

"Then not much help.  Most of those will be regional girls and they'll have grown up knowing each other," James said.  "You can fly them to a variety of cities, let them rest, then head to LA the day before.  Start a few in each area.  They can even rest somewhere in Europe or Asia then get there the day before to minimize the US people finding them."

"Which still runs into the problem of the girls being found by Customs," Dean said.  "They're hyper paranoid."

Buffy leaned in.  "Xander, Cleveland just went up in a ball of hell fire."

He groaned.  "Why now?" he complained.  He went to watch the news and came back.  "Faith, I need six girls."

"You're injured," they all shouted back.

"Do it now!" he shouted back.  They ran for weapons.  "I swear I'm going to beat every last one of you bloody for that shit," he muttered.  The nearest one flinched.  "Andrew?"

"Working on it.  Willow's helping."  They got a transportation circle started and the girls went through with Xander behind them.  Andrew looked around.

"We need you as magical support," Willow said quietly.  "Even injured he can handle it."  A few more girls hurried through to help.

Diedre sat down next to James.  "It sucks when they go off to battle and just blow an air kiss in your direction."

"It does, but it's not any easier for her."

"That's good to know."  She looked.  "Can I help?"

"We're planning on how to get the girls to and from LA," Dean said.

"Can we do it that way?"

"Not without being too showy and that runs the risk of us getting caught," Dean said.  She nodded she understood that.  "We might have to layer some of them there first and then bring the rest the night before."

"That's dangerous if someone like the FBI hears we're in town," Diedre said.

"We know," James agreed.  "We'll figure it out.  Should others go to help?"

"Sammy ran through with the last batch," Dean said.  "If I could I'd be going but I'm on a bum ankle and I know better than to go into a fight with it."

James nodded.  "That makes better sense than going in with a sprained back."

"He's Xander.  As I'm told, he does that shit," Dean said with a grin.  "A lot."

Diedre nodded.  "The girls hardly ever respect him because they consider him too normal at times.  Especially with how little he's trained."

"He didn't get military training?"

"Back when he was in high school, he was possessed by the spirit of a PFC going further," Dawn said.  She smiled at the groan.  "Thanks to a chaos sorcerer.  Beyond that, it's been on the job training.  A lot of years of on the job training."

"Since I've trained as a hunter since I was about four, Xander handed training over to me while he worked on the artifact inventory," Dean said.  "That plus his back."

Dawn nodded.  "Xander doesn't handle magic all that well.  It downright hates him most of the time so he doesn't use it."

"We were taught that all witches made demonic deals for their powers," Dean quipped.  "It wasn't until three years ago that I met a witch that was a bloodlined one."

"Someone would seriously make a demonic deal to get magic?" Dawn asked.

"Yeah.  Usually because someone's picking on them, hurting them, something like that.  A few have made deals for healing gifts that would pass on into the family with their sacrifice."  He grinned.  "They're some scary bitches."

"Clearly!"  She shook her head.  "I'm not like that.  I don't think Willow made a deal for hers.  Or Andrew."

"Hell no," Andrew muttered.  "I inherited mine.  She's a scary first gen witch though."

"There were?" Dean asked him.

Andrew looked at him.  "My big brother was into black and necromatic magic, Dean.  I inherited it the same as he did."

"Is he a future problem?" Dean asked.  "We can ask Dad to handle anything he puts up."

"No, Buffy and them stopped him," he said quietly but he was smiling.  "He was an asshole of a big brother."  He went back to watching the news.  "They've made it to the hellmouth," he reported.

Buffy came to watch around his shoulder.  "Good.  I should go."

"Shut up, you're still healing," Dawn ordered without looking.  "They'll manage it.  They always manage it."  Buffy sighed but nodded.  Dawn looked over.  "If we've got to stagger entry into LA, you need to dye your hair another color."

"I can see us going in disguise that way," she agreed, then huffed.  "And I don't dye my hair."

"Buffy, you have roots," Dean said, grinning at her.  "Go work out so you get some sun bleaching to fix that."  She nodded, going that way.  He and Dawn shared a look, and Dawn put hair dye on the later shopping list.

James shook his head.  "They need help on their clothes too," he said quietly.  "I've never seen an agent who'd wear that outfit your sister was in the field."

"She's worn clubbing clothes on patrol for years," Dawn quipped.  "Heels and all."  James shook his head quickly.  "Backless shirts too."

Dean nodded.  "I caught her taking out a demon in a pair of skinny jeans, heeled boots, and a sparkly club top.  That's how we met."

"I'd never respect an agent wearing that."

"Hunters call that baiting," Dean said with a grin.

"There is that, I don't often have to bait the people I'm after," James admitted.  He glanced at the news.  "He's already limping."

"He's been limping for three weeks," Dean told him.  "Only whenever someone wasn't looking."

"Don't tell me that, I'll go kick his butt," Buffy called as she came back in with mugs of coffee.  "Hotty agent man, if you want tea, there's some hot water left in the kitchen."

"No, I'm good with coffee.  Thank you, Miss Summers."

She smiled.  "Welcome."  She walked off.  "I forgot to brush my teeth.  Sorry."

He sipped his coffee, putting in some sugar.  "A bit strong."

"That helps sometimes," Dean agreed.  They all looked at the tv at the explosion.  "I think they're sorry now.  Can they come back?"

"They have to make it back to the transport spot," Willow said, starting to nibble on her lip.  Some of the girls reappeared.  The rest Xander was helping back there since agents were showing up.  "C'mon," she muttered.  "Don't make me come up there."  The other girls started to show up but two and Xander spotted a little kid being held by a demon.  She winced.  "No!" she whined, heading for it.

"If you use it, it'll break," Dawn reminded her.

"Darn it!"  She sighed.  "Faith?  Xander and two others are still there."

She panted, leaning down to catch her breath.  "Give me ten if I can.  Kicked in the ribs," she panted.

"I'll go," Buffy said, pulling back her hair.  She stepped across.  "Guys, let's go!" she ordered.  She glared at the demon. "Let the baby go!  Before Willow has to show up."  That distracted the demon enough that Xander could slice into it and kill it.  The girls ran for the circle.  Buffy made sure they got in there and was grabbing Xander when the agents started to pull guns.  Which made Buffy freeze.  She'd seen plenty of guns before.  "Xander!"

Xander growled and pulled up something, sending the gas grenade at them.  "Then next time, don't take out your last line of defense," he sneered.  "Not like we do this for shits and giggles, people, and most of us want to let you handle it on your own, which you've clearly failed at."  He limped off.  They got in there and heard a shot but Xander waited until he was home to sit down and look at his leg.  "Okay, now I need the medical kit."

Buffy squatted to look. "Andrew, they got a lucky shot.  It's got a blinky thing.  Is it explosive?"

"Probably a tracking round," James said, coming to look at it.  "It is."  He eased it out.  "Go throw it in the ocean so it'll disappear."  Andrew threw it back into the transport ring and then ended it.  "Even better."  He helped haul Xander up and to his hammock so they could treat his leg.  And his back.  James could see the cramp's tension from across the room.  The doctor came out complaining but she fixed the wound, hit him with a shot of antibiotic, and then berated him for doing that with his back problem.  James cleared his throat.  "He's cramping there as well."

She checked then swatted the hell out of Xander.  "Dumb bitch!"

"I am not!" he complained. "It had to be done."

"There's other people who're more healthy."

"Sammy?" Dean called.

"He's with us," Faith called back.

Dean limped that way.  His phone was already ringing.  "He's fine, Dad."  He hung up and went to make sure of that.  The text message of 'Beat. His. Ass.  For. Me.' made Dean giggle. He showed it to Sam, who glared and sent one back in Latin.  Dean helped him up and to a table so he could treat the cuts and scratches.  "Anything poisonous?"

"Not that we saw," Faith said.  Dean helped her sit down.  "Is the doc done beating Xander yet?"

"Doc, she's got a broken rib," Dean called.  The doctor came down to check on Faith while Dean finished Sam's stitches and taping.  Then Dean swatted Sam across the head.  "Dumb ass."

"It had to be done," Sam said quietly.

"Uh-huh.  You're not Xander."

Sam glared.  "So?"

"It seems to be an infection," Dawn said.  "You get it for a few days and then you go back to normal, just a bit more tough."  She hugged Sam.  "I'd miss your giant brain so don't get dead.  It's the slayer and Scooby motto."  She walked off.  Buffy was having flashbacks so she needed to help her sister.

The doctor stared at all of them, scowling hard.  "Next time, take better weapons, more precautions, and don't leave the others behind to handle a child taken hostage!"  She stomped off.

"Sorry," Dean and the girls called after her.

"I'd hate to be Xander right now," one of the girls muttered.

The others all nodded.  She was going to beat Xander to death.


Xander woke up and looked around.  "I know I didn't go to sleep in this hospital," he said quietly.  "That's a really bad sleep teleporting trick.  I'll have to find out how I did that and make sure it can't happen by accident again."

The nurse at the foot of his bed snickered.  "Sleep teleporting must be very disconcerting," she said in accented english.

Xander looked at her and switched to Arabic.  "How did I get here?"

She beamed at the courtesy of switching to her native language.  "Your personal physician said you needed back surgery.  It went very well and the doctors will be in soon."  She patted his foot with a smile.  "You rest."  She made notes on his chart and left.  They hadn't known he could speak Arabic.  She heard the bed shift and paused.  She had to grin at the swearing about Allah's goats having eaten on his back.  It was adorable.

Xander finally made it back from the bathroom and laid down with a sigh of relief.  The older man with very sparse hair was staring at him.  "Potty break," he said in Arabic.

"We heard."

Xander shrugged a bit.  "I'm used to pain sometimes."

"Good.  We need you to rest however."

Xander stared at him.  "Where am I?"


"Okay," he decided.   "How long before I can go home?  The girls will need some common sense soon."

"Two days.  You'll be in bed for all that time and then weeks once you are back at home."  He smiled.  "How did you do that much damage?"

"I reached for the potatoes after a day of hauling boxes."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "That can happen.  What were you on for it?"

"I had some bootleg stuff from the US in my traveling kit.  When I finally got a chance to rest it, I took three days in a hammock."

"I was told that.  It was good.  You were nearly swollen to paralysis when they brought you in."  Xander winced.  "No more battles, young man."

Xander stared at him.  "What's the chances that I'll have to get out of this bed to defend myself or hide?" he asked quietly.

"Hopefully very low.  If so, the window beside your bed leads to a fire escape and the next building is nicely within walking distance once you're on the roof."  He stared at him.  "You have two weapons under your pillow and the nurses know why."

"They know *why* or that I'm being hunted for doing the right thing?"

"They know you are being hunted but they think it is from a Warlord."

"I met a few of those who'd like my guts," Xander admitted.  He smiled.  "Thank you."

"You are most welcome.  Your people will show up when we call them.  For now, rest."  He made more notes and left Xander to rest.

Xander shifted until he was comfortable and then had to flip onto his side.  He did face the door, he didn't want anyone to sneak up on him.


Andrew answered the phone the next day.  "Harris house."  He listened.  "What do you mean Xander had to escape the hospital?"  He listened.  "Yes, it's probably better that the two warlords don't find him to fight over who gets to kill him thanks to him blowing up their drug pipelines."  He rubbed his forehead.  "Any idea which way he was headed so we can come rescue him?"  He made a note.  "That'll help.  Thank you, Nurse.  And if the US shows up as well, let us know?"  He hung up and thumped his head on the wall.

"I hear the universal 'Xander did something' alarm," Buffy quipped from the doorway.

"Two of the Somali warlords he ended the drug pipelines of while he was in Africa had people bust into the hospital to get Xander so they could fight over who would get to kill him," he muttered.  He banged his head again.

"Philippa!" Buffy called as she walked off.  "Get ready to go rescue Xander please?"  The South African slayer looked at her oddly as she came out of the bathroom.  "Warlords."

"The drug ones he took down in Somalia, the slavers by my own homeland, or one of the other ones?" she asked.

"I don't want to know," Buffy said firmly, holding up a hand.  "Unless the hotty God of War is following them around, I do not want to know how or why Xander took them down.  Though, Somalia from what Andrew said.  So he busted out of the hospital, took off into the city, and is presently trying to hide."

"He did what?" James called, coming out of the study.  "What warlords were these?  That was not in his background file."

"We have no idea because we'd beat his ass for it," Buffy said with a smile.  "How hard is it going to be for him to hide in Gawadar?"

James looked up that city.  "That close to Iran they speak Arabic most likely. It's a smaller city but older.  So perhaps he can hide for a day while we get there to get him out."  He looked at the slayer.  "What warlords?"  She went into Xander's room and got his journals, coming out to hand them over.  "A diarist?"

"What he couldn't include in his field reports so no one showed up to beat him to death," she said.  She looked at Buffy.  "I can go rescue him."  Buffy smiled and walked off.  "Tell the other fast and speedy slayers to find me."  She walked off pulling her hair into a ponytail.  "It was my day off sparring too."

James cleared his throat.  "How many weapons does he have?"

"One knife, one pistol," she said.  "That's all the doc let them take when they sent him over."

James rolled his eyes.  "Sure.  Let me see if I can help."  She beamed and nodded.  He had seen how easy it was to jump in.  The girls needed help.  They weren't fully trained for these sort of things.  He got his own weapons and a light jacket for the sail over.  The mystical boat was very comfortable but a bit windy.  A bit creepy as well since it looked like an ancient dragon-headed viking ship.  He followed the girls down.  And Dean since he wasn't limping anymore.  "Do we think Xander's hiding very well?"

"Probably," Dean agreed.  "He seems to blend in pretty well."

James nodded.  "I've seen him do that.  Does he speak Arabic?"  The girls who knew nodded. "Any others?"

"Swahili, two African demon languages, and he reads a bunch more," one of the girls said.  "He had to swear at someone who wanted to buy me from him in most of them."

Dean looked at her.  "Where did he find you?"


"The US version?" Dean asked.

"I wish."  She pouted.  "It's all screwed up up there."

"Yes it is," James agreed.  He settled in to read the field reports.  It was most enlightening and they had all wondered why a few targets had disappeared.  Now he knew most of them were moping and building a legitimate empire for them to rule together.  He pulled out his specially shielded laptop and the scanner, scanning in the first journal for M.  She was going to be tickled.


In London, a computer beeped the new email beep.  M, the head of James' agency, opened it and read the scanned in first page.  She reread it.  Then she mentally started to swear while calling in someone who should hear this.  The MI-5 member that had helped Xander with the slayers showed up later and didn't seem at all surprised.  "This isn't in his file."

The half-demon looked at her.  "We can't keep up with what he does.  He's a force of chaos and tends to break apart things that aren't glued together well enough.  Bad ones want to own him and keep him.  Good ones won't date him.  And yes, he likes weapons."  M grimaced, typing back a note to James.  "We were wondering if you had sold your agent to him in marriage as an alliance?"

M stared at her.  "Why would we have?"

"It would be good to be aligned to the Council.  You'd always know where the problems were.  Your pouty agents who think they can do the job would hate being tested against the slayers and found wanting.  They could use the help and most people who work with them agree that they need help for the same reasons Harris did - one little girl shouldn't do the job alone."

"I believe our official stance is that we support them doing their jobs and we applaud them for having the courage and duty to do so, and that we'll aid them if we need to, but that our agents aren't really cut out for demon hunting," M said.  "Though, if James should...turn over that way for Harris, then I'd be highly surprised and give him a grand honeymoon to spend time with him."

The demon smiled.  "There's a betting pool about whether or not you used him as an alliance marriage."

"I shall let him know so he can make his feelings known.  After all, before now it was all about the pretty young women."

"There's many of those within the slayers."  She smirked.  "Over three hundred very pretty, strong, talented young warrior women."

"Yes, there is that.  So perhaps he does have his eye on one.  I'll ask him that so he knows to make his choices known."

"They'll like that.  Also, tell him that the two people who bet that Xander would show up in Cleveland are roundly hated right now.  One's Andrew, and one's Faith."  She smirked.  "They made the bets a long time ago."  She left.

M finished her email back and sent it, then got up to have some sherry.  She needed to clear her mind of those very nasty thoughts.  Selling James into an alliance?  She'd have used a less valuable agent surely.


James heard the beep and pulled out his computer to look at.  He scowled.  "What gas did you test?" he muttered.

Dean leaned over then cackled.  "That figures."  He looked up.  "Faith and Andrew were the only ones that bet that Xander would be back in Cleveland if something happened.  The whole demon underground hates them."

The girls all smiled at each other.  "That means chocolate's on Faith," one quipped.  They sent her a message and got back to their 'fishing'.  That was their excuse for being on the water.

James looked at Dean.  "Why would they even consider that?"

"They sent you to them.  I got asked by a few different sources if we were making a family alliance between Sammy and Dawn or Faith.  I told them to ask Sammy and Dad."

"When do we get to meet your dad so we can totally scare him by flirting with him and make Jess feel puny for being a normal girl?" one of the slayers quipped.

"Sammy thinks he and Jess are together forever sorts, ladies.  If you screw that up for him he'll fuck you up."

"We've seen her picture," Philippa said.  "She's a pretty blonde girl."  The others nodded they had too.  "She seems...sweet and not really into something like hunting."

"Sammy wanted to be a normal guy though," Dean said.  "Normal guy Sammy would make her a good, overprotective husband.  She'd look good on his arm to whatever law firm Sammy wanted to join."

James looked at him.  "Do you think he'll be able to go back to that?"

"I hope so.  He said he was happier in law school," Dean complained then shrugged a bit and looked at the water.  "That's up to Sammy and I've gotta stay out of it.  Dad too.  Though when they get together, there's gonna be a fight."

"We'll back Sammy up," one of the girls said with a grin for him.  "If only so we can get special Sammy hugs.  He hugs really nice."

"You're too young for anything but hugs," Dean shot back.

She smirked.  "I'm legal."

"Yay.  Keep it up and I'll send you to Dad."

"Sammy said your dad was a great hunter but a miserable bastard the rest of the time.  Maybe we'd cheer him up."

"He's still grieving our mom, Amber.  He'll probably always grieve for her."

"Willow was doing a genealogy spell for one of the girls who had a mother that remarried.  Sammy walked past and paused, which made it hit him," Philippa said, staring at Dean.  "There's a Winchester left in the US."

"No there's not."

"Yes there is.  About four or five years younger than Sam and in the US.  A boy."

Dean pulled out his phone to call his father.  "Dad, quick question.  Why would a genealogy spell Rosenburg was doing pick up a little brother?"  His father choked.  "Dad?" he asked patiently.  His father gasped out something and hung up.  Dean waited thirty seconds and called back.  "Dad, he's in the US," he said dryly.  "Really."  His father hung up and the next time Dean tried his phone was busy.  "Thanks, ladies, though I want to know when that happened."  They all grinned at him.  He called Sam.  "We have a brother?"  He listened to what Sam had found.  "Did you get him out of the US?"  He grinned. "Even better.  I asked Dad, he choked.  Yup, on our way."  He hung up.

"They could be tracing those," James said.

"Maybe," Dean agreed. "I'm pretty sure they won't be coming for us.  It's the benefit of being hunters."  James pointed at the mark on Dean's arm.  Dean nodded he remembered that.  "They won't be coming after us.  Getting the lesser slayers and hunters won't solve the problems or hide the ones they've created and would cause more problems.  Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, and Faith are boned.  Dawn if they know about her.  The US would want them as the figurehead to charge to 'end this problem' they supposedly didn't create."

"They need the rest of us to handle things," Philippa agreed.  "Which is why Xander got to bring weapons with him."  The others all nodded.  "Beyond that, even if they do track Sammy's phone to the island, there's record of it."

"It does show up on a satellite," James warned.

"Yeah but they can't take the island down," Dean said.  "There's protections all around the waters and the island itself has some.  That's what keeps tangling Andrew and Rosenburg in the bushes."

James considered it.  "I didn't have any problems when I jumped in."

"Xander was kinda expecting you or someone like you," Dean admitted.  "It does feed off Xander's mind.  He marked you mentally as a friend.  So for now you have access.  If you screw Xander and the girls over I'm pretty sure that would change."

James nodded.  "I can see that being reasonable.  How do you do that?"  Dean and the girls all shrugged.  "Magic?"  They all shrugged again.  "We'll ask him when we find him then.  I know places that would adore that sort of protection."

"So do I, but we have no idea how the demons did it.  Sam asked."

James nodded.  "Perhaps we can figure it out then."  One of the girls caught something and Dean had to teach her how to reel it in.  James smiled.  The girls weren't bad, just a bit hyper at times.


Xander heard people come into his hiding spot and winced.  It was time to let himself fall back into battle mode.  Not that he was that great but he had found that useful in Africa and his other travels.  When someone made it up to his floor's hiding spot he lashed out with the knife, cutting across their stomach.  Then he shoved them off.  He moved to a new hiding spot.  He couldn't outrun them with his back in the shape it was in.  If he had more than the six shot pea shooter, he might've had a better chance.  But no, that's not what he had on him.  More people came up the stairs and he got a few of them with the gun then came out to kick butt if he could.  He wasn't *bad* but he wasn't anywhere near James' level. 

One kicked him back and knocked the knife from his hand so he grabbed the wires hanging down and swung away then back to kick them.  They came loose and he looked up.  He yanked hard, landing on the floor again and electrocuting the next few.  He kicked the next one back, making him fall down the stairs.  He heard the elevator moving and winced, using the wires as a whip to hit and shock the rest of the bad guys.  Then he saw *her*.  He paused, frozen in thought.  That face was familiar and in the wrong spot.  She should not be able to be here.  He whipped another one with the wires.  They yanked it from his hands so he kicked them back and managed to grab a board and break it when they blocked his blow.

That gave him a stake, which he was very familiar with.  He staked them.  He noticed the woman was in the elevator was alone.  The elevator was shaking.  The wires were near it.  The elevator plummeted and he grabbed the wire before it could be dragged down.  He didn't want her electrocuted.  Which was when he looked around.  Something was seriously screwy.  Including the fact he had seen this scene in a James Bond movie.  He saw a face in the bricks and knew.  He just *knew*.  Another bad guy came in and got shot by someone else.  Xander looked over.  "James."

"Xander."  He looked him over.  "You left quite a subtle trail of destruction."

"I tried ya know."  He stood up.  The wires started to slide and he tried to grab them.  James moved him.  "No, she has to live."

James looked, shaking his head.  "She broke her neck in the fall, Xander."  He led him off.  "What is going on?"

"Something's not right.  We need to find a demon bar."  He rushed out, James following.

James nodded at someone.  "Kevin," he said quietly.

"James.  Cleaning up from you?"  James pointed at Xander and hurried after him.  "Interesting."

Xander found a demon tea shop and stomped in.  "Where's the temple?"

"What temple?" the bartender demanded, then realized who he was talking to.  "Knight, which temple do you need?"


"It's inland," the bartender said, staring at him.  "Why would you need such?"

"Because something screwy's going on," he sneered.  "Are you sure?"

"Quite. The only one here is in the mountains, Knight.  You may find one on your island."

Xander took a calming breath then grabbed his head.  Visions sucked.  Them on a firing range.  A special, retired prison back into use.  Five yards around a central prison.  Some of them were still inside.  Him, Dawn, Faith, and two slayers were up first.  He was chanting something quietly.  The guards were sneering but he knew that rite.  He had found it recently.  When he was shot, he turned into a bunch of energy that ended up resolving into a phoenix.  A dark cloud of feathers, pissed off energy, and anger.  He flew to gather the others.  They all knew.  Everyone but Giles and Buffy because he knew they wouldn't use it.  He burned the jail and they all got freed. He took them back to the island.  Sam was staring in horror.

"Dawn, Faith," Sam called quietly.  They reformed from their energy prison and wrapped around him, burning him with their marks but it made them whole.  The two slayers had boyfriends that they flew off to find after seeing that.  Xander moved all his stuff out to a house in the woods and went to perch out there.  Where he got to explain things to James a few days later when he got accused of pouting.  The fact that he didn't have a _Beauty and the Beast_ moment sucked large but he knew that.  He blinked, looking at the bartender, who looked scared.  "James, boat.  Please?"

"You need the hospital," he chided.

"I know.  We need to have a Council meeting more."

"What was that?" James asked once they were outside.

"A vision and it proved that things are wrong."  They finally got to the boat and he got to lay down and ache for a bit while thinking. His thoughts weren't pleasant by any means.  Not even Dean tried to interrupt them.  Once they got back, with Xander was rested from the long trip, he got the others of the Council going to one area and stopped Buffy, walking her into the study.  "When?" he asked.

"What?" she asked.  She looked very confused.  "What are you talking about, Xander?"

"When did you make the wish?"

"I didn't."

"You sure as hell did."  He stared at her.  "When did you start feeling that wrongness again?" he asked quietly.  She flinched and sat down crying.  He hugged her.  "I don't blame you."

"I can't have made a wish.  I didn't!"

He gave her a squeeze.  "It might've been an unsaid one, Buffy."

"It's still wrong!" she cried.

He tipped her face up.  "We've all made critical mistakes.  Mine was the love spell.  Willow's was her grief.  Yours was wanting to go back," he said quietly.  "When?  How long has it been going on?"

"Since right after you left."

Xander slumped.  "You know, we have cliffs here.  We can even name them after you."

"I can't," she said, shaking her head quickly.  She got up and stomped off.

Xander looked out in the hall.  "Dean, go put her in chains.  She's not rational."  He went to the meeting he had called, slamming the door.  "We're in a wishverse."

"Not doubting you but how can you tell?" Dawn asked.

"Well, first of all, I spotted D'Hoffryn watching what was going on when I was protecting myself."  She shuddered.  "Secondly, I'm not the ninja master.  There's no way I could've defeated those assassins.  Thirdly, I ran into someone I knew was dead.  Her daddy killed her for wanting me when I shut down his drug pipeline."  They all stared at him.  "So...  I figured it had to have a few causes.  Either we're in a wishverse inside a wishverse inside another one or it was just a single one.  That part I'm not sure of."  He looked at the others.  "Beyond that, I had a vision of how this one ends."  He grabbed a book and put it down, opening it to the right spot before sliding it over.  "Disney movies beyond the point, the Beastly kiss was you and Dawn with Sam," he told Faith.  "Kerra and Tiff with their boyfriends, and me in the woods waiting on one to be reborn."

"You don't have one?" Giles asked.  "How many others knew about this spell?"

"Everyone but you and Buffy because you two wouldn't use it," Xander said, staring at him.

Giles exhaled.  "You're right, I wouldn't.   She...  It's her wish," he said quietly.

Xander nodded.  "She started to feel the pull home right after I left for Africa according to her."

D'Hoffryn appeared.  "I fought for three weeks trying not to grant her wish."

"Because it would screw up everything," Xander said.

"Yes.  Quite."  He stared at him.  "It started just before you got captured.  There was help coming but it never got there in time."

Xander nodded once.  "That sucks ass, D'Hoffryn.  Why not tell us?  We've had a few others around us after all."

"If it was not for her wish, you would still be in Africa."  He stared at him.  "As you know, I'm forbidden from coming near you unless the punishment is just.  Anya's final act made it so."  Xander nodded.  "I did add things to the area around you so you could handle things without calling on supernatural powers."  He shut the book and looked at him.  "This is not my script."

"I know.  I know how those things work, I asked Anya.  Is this one nestled inside or a clear, single one?"

"It's been nestled so many times.  I cannot undo them."

"You can go back and undo the first one," Dawn said.

"I am forbidden," he told her.  "Which would also leave you all more vulnerable."

"Or you could've granted Buffy's unspoken wish of her heart earlier," Xander said.  "Given it time to get cleared."

D'Hoffryn looked at him.  "I'm still forbidden from traveling back to change things."

Xander nodded.  "We're not."

"No, you are not," he said quietly.  "Then again, you exist because a godling pointed out that other realms did not die when you were in high school.  They looked and found why their plans were broken."  Xander grimaced.  "So yes, you are the lynch pin even though it is not your wish."

Xander sat down with a huff.  "When, exactly, did it start to call out?"

"May of that year."

Xander got up to get something from the artifact room and came back to shouting.  He whistled.  "If we fix it, she gets help," he said to stop the argument about letting Buffy be sacrificed.  "Because I'm all for committing her damn ass."  They all piped down.  Xander sat down rubbing his back.  "Would that work to cancel out all of them?"

D'Hoffryn looked then nodded.  "Though it may leave you with no other choice but to do that rite or to be captured."

"It wasn't the best time of my life," Xander sneered.  "I'd love to not have gone through it, but if must needs then so be it.  Because apparently being the One Who Sees What Others Do Not comes with a price."

"It does," D'Hoffryn said, looking at him.  "I'm sorry, Knight."

"So am I."  He slammed the artifact on the table and took himself back to that time.  He was back in Africa.  He was younger, in more pain, and had a good back still.  He called Giles.  "It's Xander.  I've just been told by someone that Buffy wants to go home, Giles."  He listened to him complain.  "Not Sunnydale, the one Willow pulled her from," he said quietly but firmly.  "She's making a wish, Giles.  D'Hoffryn will have to grant it even if he doesn't want to."  Giles complained.  "There's numerous hospitals in the US.  Find a decent one.  Yes, that is an order. 

"Because I just lived through the wishverse of what happened.  Including when the US killed us all."  He hung up.  He settled his mind. If he had to he'd bring Buffy to where he was and let her work it out of her system or die in an honorable battle.  He could not let that happen.  Though it appeared he would have to check on the VP demon worm thing too.  He got into his jeep, figuring out where he was and when so he knew where he should be going.  There was a note in the empty passenger's seat telling him he was heading to Philippa to save her from the people who wanted to capture her.  So he'd head that way.


Xander was in the middle of a battle when he suddenly got backup from a pissed off agent.  He had just been captured and fought his way free.  He felt like shit.  He really needed some mental help himself.  He did not want to have this talk with James.  He nodded once everyone was dead.  "We need to blow their drug holding area and free the few slaves they have."

"I'd like some explanations."

"And you'll get it once I get the slayer out of the drug hiding spot with the other slaves and we blow it the fuck up," Xander said firmly, staring at him.  "Sorry, I'm not in a great mood."

"Your back?" he asked politely.

It figured he remembered everything.  "No, not my back."  He walked off.  "Philly, make some noise," he called.  They heard the banging and got the slaves freed, including the slayer.  Then Xander looted and burned the compound down, making sure it set off the explosives in the drug holding area.  He checked her over and nodded at the jeep.  "Rest or take them to the local town."  She did that.  He looked at James once they were alone.  "We were in a wishverse."

"Start there.  What's a wish verse."

"People like my ex, vengeance demons, grant wishes to punish people.  Depending on their areas, they grant different things."  James nodded.  Xander sat down with a hiss and a wince.  James gave him a pointed look.  "I still fell into the trap," he said bluntly.  "I'm in a great fucking shaky mood right now, thank you."  He calmed himself.  "If a wish is granted that's too strong, or too warping, an independent pocket universe is created.  A wishverse.  Basically only those who were in it should know anything.  That can be anywhere from the original wishee or other people who got pulled.  I realized that had been one.  I even realized why when all the deaths started to pile up."  James shuddered at his cold tone.  "Buffy needs help," he said more quietly.  "When Willow pulled her back it was from Heaven and her soul wants to go back."

"But you can't do that," James said.

"She earned her rest, James."

"I know those I hope did, though I'm not very religious myself."

"Me either.  I know about all the higher powers and how they all hate my ass."  He shrugged.  "Buffy would never consider doing herself in.  She'd rather die in a battle.  The same way she went last time."

"But... there's not going to be one of those anytime soon."

"The LA invasion is next month," Xander said.  "It's probable it'll be there."  He shifted with a wince.  "I'll still be over here handling problems."

"I understand that point.  I even can see where she wants it badly enough to make a wish."

"It was an unspoken wish.  It was too strong for D'Hoffryn, who's over all the vengeance demons, to ignore.  And that one created a wishverse when someone else wished for things to go better.  And then a slayer created a third one to save them all.   Frankly, I'm not certain we're not in that one right now."

"How can you tell?"

"I can tell for a few reasons.  D'Hoffryn, by the last act of my former fiancee Anyanka, may not touch my lifeline unless it's a just punishment.  Secondly, when my eye was popped, Caleb called me 'the one who sees what others don't'.  Basically, I'm the Cassandra of the Council.  Common sense that no one listens to until it's too late. I noticed it and talked to her then the main Council.  They decided they couldn't agree to do anything.  Even with the vision I had in it of the US capturing us and shooting us via firing squad without a trial."  James shuddered. 

"Which was when I pulled up an ancient vengeance rite.  It would've turned those of us who did it into basically an energy of anger in phoenix form.  Dawn and Faith got saved by Sam.  The other slayers who managed it got saved by their boyfriends.  I spent a long time watching over the slayers.  Including being an omen when slayers were born to those outside the group.  We let the world rip itself apart because we had to.  We didn't have much of a choice without being killed.  The US's thing got worse."

"So now you've countered it and it won't happen.  Why were you captured?"

"They moved the trap."

"So not willingly?"

Xander glared at him.  "I don't know anyone who'd willingly go through that."  He got up and winced.  "Make sure the VP doesn't succeed or get voted in.  It'll save everyone."  He walked off.

James watched him.  Now he felt horrible.  "Xander, I didn't mean it that way."

"I still need some time alone to get my head on straight.  Make sure Philly gets back to her family in South Africa please."  A flash of magic took him.  Xander fought his way out and went back to Africa.  Alone.  It had probably been a good day since he had been taken so that was fine.  He was still sore, bleeding, and probably getting a low grade infection.  But he could handle it because he was Xander fucking Harris and he had to handle these things.  No one else seemed to be able to.  He started to walk off, then found his jeep.  He got in and drove off.  That was easier on his tired lower half.  There was a hospital about a day away and he could get some antibiotics there.  Even if they would think he was evil and white.


Giles hung up the phone and looked at his slayer.  "Buffy, we need to talk," he said, making her look up from her reading.  He saw the tiredness in her eyes.  He got up and held her, making her choke up.  "Someone said that they felt a wish being requested," he said quietly.

"I didn't wish."

He tipped her chin up and kissed her on the forehead.  "Out loud?"  He sat in front of her.  "The source said that D'Hoffryn has been hearing an unasked for wish."

She choked back another sob.  "I'm sorry, Giles."

"Do not be.  We will get through this, though you will be going on medicine since that source saw the wishverse that it would have created."

She slumped.  "I talked to the shrink that we use."

"I dare say that's not enough," he offered.  His phone beeped with a message from Dawn, making him push the button that said 'view'.  He read it and nodded.  "That's not a bad idea.  The same source told your sister and she had an idea."

"Dawn has ideas?" she asked, wiping at her cheeks.

He nodded.  "Two or three good ones.  One being that you should talk to Dean's father."

"What would he know?"

"I'm not sure.  She was certain he could help.  It could also help that family since there's an upcoming apocalypse using them."  She grimaced.  "Also, Dawn noted that we have a battle in four months."  She nodded once at that.  "And that she wants you to live through it.  She said some day she'll want to spawn and her children had better have a natural aunt."

She let out a weak smile.  "I don't know what to do."

"Well, first of all, you're going on something to help you with this depression."  She nodded, looking down.  "And then we'll make sure you can go talk to Dean's father."

"Thank you."  She hugged him and went up to her room.

Giles calmed himself down and went to call their psychologist for help.  Buffy needed it and quickly.


Dean Winchester looked up as the car parked next to where he was waiting, nodding at the blonde that got out.  "Buffy.  Problems?"

"Huge ones."  She paid the cab and got her bag, walking over to sit across from him.  "Dawn thinks I need to talk to your dad for some reason.  I don't know why."

"Okay.  Is Dawn a seer?"

"Longer than average story and why I got pulled back from Heaven," she said, looking down then at him.

"Shit," he said, staring her down.



"Kinda and I'm..."  She shook her head.  "It's a bad time, Dean.  I'm not sure why I need to talk to your dad but I have some information from Dawn and Xander for him too."

"He'll be here tonight."  He stared at her.  "Want me to ask about tiny, white rooms?"

"Been there, done that during my parents' divorce after I burned down a gym full of vampires."

He winced.  "Damn."

"Kinda."  She took one of his fries to nibble on.  "I still don't know why I need to talk to your dad."

"Maybe he'll know.  He's good at getting to the bottom of the bullshit."

She nodded.  "I feel like I'm in a well of it and I made it all myself."

He nodded.  "I've had that feeling.  Dad kicked my ass all around Aurora for it."  She smiled weakly.  "C'mon, I can give you a lift to the motel."

"Thanks, Dean."

"Not a problem.  You don't deserve to go out that way.  Not unless you have to.  Remember, you told me the first rule was no dying."

She nodded. "I've violated it twice now."

"Twice?" he demanded.

"The first time Xander did CPR.  That's what started off the two slayer thing."

He shook his head.  "We can talk about that later."  She nodded, grabbing her bag and the rest of his lunch to take with them.  They found John at the motel checking in.  "Dad," Dean said, accepting a short hug.

"Son, you look decent.  Miss," he said with a nod.

"Dad, this is Buffy Summers, the senior slayer," Dean said quietly.

John stared.  "Pleasure, ma'am."

"I'm not that old, even if I feel like it today," she said quietly.  "Dawn said I needed to come talk to you and I had to give you some information someone gave her from a wishverse."

"What's a wishverse?" Dean asked.

"When a vengeance demon grants a wish that's too encompassing that it has to create a new reality," John said, staring at her.  "How long ago was this?"

"Apparently in a few weeks from what she explained.  Can we....."  She went to get her own room and they followed her to it.  She sat on the bed and opened her bag, pulling out her medicine to take two pills and then handed over three journals and a scroll.  "I know one of those is from Xander, who is our seer and normal guy.  I'm pretty sure more of it might've come from him.  Xander's kinda immune to wishes since Anya's last work as she died protected him from them."

John started with the scroll.  He stared at the information.  It looked a bit too familiar.  "Where did he get this?"

"Giles got it from the Watchery library in the old building.  I mean the one that they were in before they blew up the last one."

"Okay," he said, moving on.

"Will that help?  I know Dawn said that an apocalypse was coming for your family."

He nodded.  "It'll help a lot.  It filled in some gaps."  Dean stole it to read, grimacing.  "It's a prophecy so mutable, Dean."

"That's Xander's job too," Buffy said.  "He's really good at it.  It's why I'm alive again."

John looked up at her.  "Why weren't you alive?"

"The first time, drowning and he did CPR.  Totally screwed a major prophecy but it saved Sunnydale."

"Okay," John said.  "And the others?  Since you said the first time?"

She sighed and looked around.  "There's that damn site she told me to find.  I didn't bring a laptop."

"I have ours," Dean offered, going to get it.

She looked at John.  "I'm told that I created the wish verse," she said quietly.  "I don't want that.  Dawn said I should come talk to you."

"I can help," he assured her.  "You've been fighting a long time from the rumors I've heard."

She nodded.  "Since I was fifteen and I'm twenty-five.  I'm so damn tired though."  Dean brought back the laptop and she found the paper with the address on it.  She typed it in and let it pull up.  She found the proper link and let him have it.  "That was my town."

John glanced over things and gave her a horrified look.  "Graduation?"

"There's going to be one doing it in DC right after the US attacks us," she said dryly.  "If the wishverse is right."

He grimaced and went back to it.  He found where she had died by skipping the various big issues.  He slumped and kept reading.  He saw the resurrection and the problems.  "Someone needs to paddle her to death," he muttered.

"Within ten months she had went full blown magic addiction and we had to stop her from ending the world.  She got help after that," she told him.  "Xander was lied to so he did his tiny part and she did the rest to be in control or something.  But I'm tired, John."

"I get that."  He looked at her.  "Bright, sunny?"

"Lots of grass," she said with a smile.  "I could walk barefoot and not worry, the grass was so soft."

He put it aside.  "You're being called."

She slumped and nodded.  "I don't want to be.  I have to be there for the girls and the upcoming invasion."

"No, you have to be here for yourself first," he ordered.  Dean took the information and went to his own room.  He stared at her.  "You made an unspoken wish?" he asked quietly.  She nodded.  "Damn."

"I didn't mean to and I don't want it to happen.  I got told enough to know that it's horrible.  The US went after the Council again.  We all nearly died and Xander had to save us."

He looked at her.  "We can talk about it," he assured her.  She pointed at the pills.  "That's a good crutch for right now.  The invasion?"

"In downtown LA."

"That is very bad," he decided.  "We can work on it, Buffy.  No one deserves these problems."

She looked at him.  "I'm scared it'll happen anyway but I can't leave the girls and I can't... I owe them.  I'm their new saint."

"Right now, you're just a woman with some problems.  A hunter who's seen too much, done too much, and is ready to lay down and die."  He stared at her.  "We'll handle it."  She nodded.  "That information?"

"Was on some demon that was after Sam?  Who's Sam?  I met Dean."

"Dean's little brother.  Dean?" he called.

Dean came back with his phone to his ear.  "We have a way to get the demon to leave Sam alone and it'll go after his girlfriend."  He showed his father the last note and John grimaced.  He wasn't about to be 'civilized' by Sam's girlfriend after one drunken night.  "I have Sammy on the phone but he's throwing a fit."

John took the phone.  "Son, we have information from the Watchers Council," he said.  "Including a stupid prophecy.  We need to talk today or very soon.  We're in Illinois.  Then pick somewhere Sam.  Today.  Before the demon does to Jess what he did to your mother," he said more quietly.  Sam stopped having a fit.  He calmed himself.  "That's fine.  We can do that."

"Tell him to call Dawnie at the Council, she can arrange a flight," Buffy said quietly.  "She said she would."

John repeated that.  And the number from the letterhead Buffy had.  He hung up and a few minutes later John got a text with a flight number and time.  "We can pick him up."  He looked at Dean, showing it to him.  He nodded, he'd pick up his brother.  He looked at Buffy.  "We'll figure it out."  She relaxed and nodded.  Letting others handle things was easier for her right now.  She had too much to think about and do but she needed someone there to buffer for her.

John watched her think and then handed her some paper from the table in there.  "Write it out, Buffy.  Just like therapy only cheaper."

She gave him a weak smile.  "I can do that."  She found a pen in her bag and got to it.  By later that night she'd need a few notebooks but that was probably normal.


Sam stomped into the motel room, staring at his father and the...girl.  "New hunter?" he guessed.

She waved one-handed while writing with the other.  "Buffy, senior slayer.  My people found that information for you guys and due to a wishverse we figured out how to end it for you."  She looked up at him and smiled.  "That way the other stuff can't happen either."  She got back to it.

Dean let Sam read what they had.  Sam started with the scroll, his scowl getting bad.  Then worse as they went on.  "A wishverse?"  Buffy nodded.  "Why?"

Buffy looked at him.  "Long, involved story.  But there, my sister and Xander saved you and Dean.  Which set in motion the saving stuff.  Now we're cutting out all the bad stuff, like the US coming after the Council and the hunters.  I'm just hoping we were wrong about the VP ascending."

John looked at her.  "I read over that in your graduation.  The US's vice president?"  She nodded quickly.  "That ...  He'd send people after the Council so he couldn't be stopped."

"And then they decided they came after us for not being there when he sent people after us because it left the hellmouth uncovered and things going bad."  She looked at him.  "Xander's vision ended with a vengeance phoenix of rage thingy."

John grimaced.  "I've heard of that."  She pointed at the journal.  He took it to read.

Sam sat down, still reading the other information.  "Okay," he decided, looking at Dean.  "Can we save Jess?"

"Yes, and we can find the demon to kill it," John said.  "There's plenty of weapons that can kill any demon."

"Including the slayer scythe," Buffy offered.

"Then we can handle that," John agreed.  He looked at his youngest son.  "Law school?"

Sam smirked and nodded.  "I can do a lot for humanity that way."

John nodded.  "I can see that.  You always were very smart, Sam, and I'm sure you can use the skills you learned hunting to trip up dirtbags who need to be in prison."

Sam nodded.  "I can."  He sat down, watching Buffy write then looked at his father.  John slightly shook his head, handing back the journal.  He went over it.  Part of it made Sam give John a long stare.

"I'd never, son."

"Dawn said during it they found a little brother," Buffy said, looking at him.  "Because he was in danger from all this and the later parts of the apocalypse."  All three Winchesters stared at her.  "If he succeeds, Xander foresaw a long road of hell from higher, good beings."

"What?" John demanded.

Buffy texted Xander and handed her phone to John.  When Xander answered he read it and groaned.  "Yup.  And the other one's a part of that part."

"Fuck," John muttered.

Dean took it to read, grimacing.  "I'd kill us both first," he said bluntly.

Buffy looked at him.  "Being dead's not all that much fun."  She got back to writing.

"I'm sure it's not," Sam said, realizing what the look in her eyes was.  It made more sense to him now.  He looked at his father, who stared back.  "If we can get whatever off me I'd be really happy and I'm willing to introduce Jess to you guys.  As long as Dean doesn't hit on her."

"I don't touch those that're taken outside of some harmless flirting," Dean reminded him.  Sam grinned.  "So how do we do this?"

"We call it out," John said.  The boys nodded.  Buffy looked up.  "You can help."  She grinned and got back to it.  "Also, I've been told there's an invasion in LA in a few months."

"Four or so," Buffy said.

"Like alien invasion?" Dean asked.

"By demons."

"Spaceships?" Sam asked.

"Portal.  Evil law firm."  She grinned.  "Some of the community there will be helping.  Including some of the peaceful demons."

"That's going to be bad," Dean decided.  "We can help with that."

"I'm hoping that the military is going to do it for us," Buffy admitted.  "There's less than three hundred slayers.  Only two hundred here in the US.  We need all the help we can get.  That'll lead to another try by the US to try us but that's fine.  We can hold that one off."

John nodded.  "Why don't you rest, Buffy.  Let me catch up with my son."

"This is my room," she reminded him with a smile.

"Good point."  He took Sam and Dean back to his room to go over what they needed to do to kill the demon.  Sam pointed at Buffy's room and he shook his head.  "She was brought out of heaven," he said quietly.  "And silently wished a wishverse."

Sam shuddered.  "That's bad."

"They suggested she should come talk to Dad," Dean said.  "I met Buffy last year during a hunt."

"She seems like a really nice young woman," Sam said.

"She's your age, son," John said.

"Really?  Huh.  She seems younger."  He sat down.  "Are we doing it before or after the invasion?"

"Before if possible," John said.  "I haven't heard any hints of it being around."  His phone rang.  "Yes?"  He listened, then put it on speaker.  "Who are you?"

"Xander," the phone said.  "I'm the seer at the Council.  Do it *after* the invasion.  If you do it before, we might be without you and to be blunt, we need all the help we can get since they won't be calling me back.  Or the girls I'm training here in Africa.  You're talking about a few hours of battle."

"Full stream the whole time?" Dean asked.

"No.  The clean up will be longer.  If the US steps in we'd be thankful but wary.  I'd really love it like hell though."

"We know other hunters," John said.

"Get them heading toward LA.  I'm not sure they can handle it if Buffy's not there.  And if had my way, I'd ease that," he admitted, sounding honest.  "I know why she's tired.  I know how tired she is.  Which is why I think she can be helped by you, Mr. Winchester."

"How did you know about me?" John asked.

"In the wishverse we saved Dean and Sam.  I learned a lot about you through them."

"That's a good reason," John said.  "Why else did you call?"

"Because I know, relatively, where the demon is.  If you look in the journal, there's a few pages stuffed in it.  Those are from Dean's journal there."

John found those and looked them over.  "Mother fucker," he muttered.

Dean took them to look over.  "Yeah, that's bad.  Thank you, Xander."

"Not a problem, dude.  I do not want anyone to go through that hell.  Since I remember what happened there, it's up to me to stop it.  Also, we need to start tracking some very specific herbs and articles to see if the wishverse was right about certain higher ups trying an ascension bid.  I really don't want to see another demon snake ever again. Even if that one was half of ours at graduation."  He groaned.  "Sorry, gotta go.  The battle I expected later is now apparently."  He hung up.

John put his phone down and took the journal pages back to read over.  It was very disgusting and very bad.  "What's an ascension?  I know about a bunch of spirits ascending at once causing a problem.  Are we talking what their graduation was?"

Sam took the computer to look that up.  "Yes."  He searched the rituals out and found what was needed for the various sorts.  He created a list of them by type and let his father have it.

"Some are easily grown or found.  Some aren't and are already illegal," he said, reading it over.  "And poisonous spiders why?"

"For immortality.  That's a last step in three of them," Sam said.

"Huh.  I'd hate to see it if the vice president does ascend."  They got back to their personal plans.  Even if they had to do it after the invasion it was nearly done.  They would not let the demon keep going.


Xander hung up and looked at the man coming toward him.  "Are you the harbinger of the battle tonight?"

"No, they're already gone."  James sat across from him.  "Why is it that every time I run into you I run into people who need to be shot?"

"I don't know," Xander said.  "What're you doing here, James?"

James stared at him.  "I misspoke," he said. "There was no way I thought that was your fault."  Xander shrugged slightly and went back to sharpening his machete.  "I had the training against all that but I have no idea how to handle that situation," he said honestly.

Xander looked at him.  "I hope you never have to."

"Me as well."  He moved closer.  "Are you fine?"

"You weren't the first to suggest I had wanted it.  I told them to fuck themselves."

"You about told me that too."  He looked at him.  "Do you want helped back to a more civilized area with a good hospital?" he asked quietly.

"I'm fine now.  Thank you.  The antibiotics worked."  James stared at him.  Xander shrugged.  "I'll be fine."

"If you're sure.  I know there's a few psychologists that handle such situations.  I know of one in the UK."

"I..."  He nodded.  "I might, I'm not sure."  James handed over the card.  Xander put it into his wallet.  "Thanks."

"Not a problem.  I'd want to kill whoever did that."

"That would take an act of blood warfare," Xander said dryly.

"That's something else that never got clarified.  There was a warning not to draw your blood and let it be exposed."

Xander nodded.  "And a few more to come probably."

James stared at him.  "Does anyone else know?"

"How many people got that file?"

"That may be a troubling number."

"I know."  He grimaced and put the machete aside.  He picked up a throwing axe.  "Did you get both groups?"

"I only saw one."

"Then we'll handle the other one."  He looked at him.  "If you're on the continent in about fifteen weeks we'll have a huge problem that'll send me to the ER and ICU."

"I remember hearing something about that."

"Please show up.  At least to make sure I get there?"

"If I'm local, of course.  I'd hate to see the world end."  Xander grinned and relaxed.  "The girls?"

"Nowhere near here.  This is someone who wanted to own me."


"I have no idea," Xander admitted.  "There's a lot like that though.  I don't really like them."

"I can understand that.  I get women thrown at me all the time."

Xander grinned.  "I get some of those but they're not all that nice either."

"Half of mine are bad girls wanting to be bait."  He checked his own weapons.  "That warlord thing still bothers me."

"That was a few months back."

"The woman in the elevator."

"Her father killed her.  Which was a huge clue that something was weird."

"I suppose it would be, yes."  He looked up at the sound of a truck's engine.  "Them?"

"Probably some guys from the town."  They watched them drive past.  "People who think I'm evil and a witch out to cause harm."

"Hmm.  Perhaps you should travel with one of the girls?"

"No thank you.  I don't want nagged and they all got it from Buffy."

"How is she?"

"Still really depressed."  James nodded.  "Then again, when you get pulled out of heaven, earth is really crappy."  James turned and shot someone behind him.  He looked.  "Huh, I thought it was a snake."  He shrugged.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  They cleaned up the mess and waited about a half hour before the attack happened.  Xander was decent but clearly needed some training.  James looked over after the attack.  "I could find you an apprenticeship," he offered.

Xander smirked.  "The girls would shit elephants.  Beyond that, it's kind of a duty."

"I understand that."  They shook hands and James left to report that the people he had been tracking were dead and another group too.  This one looked like a militia of some sort.  Perhaps Xander would make things safer and saner for everyone but he still had a job to do.  And some day he'd get Xander into some proper training and a job that made the most of his skills.  There had to be someone to follow in his footsteps.  He glanced over at the sound of artillery going off.  Huge demon.  Xander grinned and waved at it as it fell.  Well, maybe he'd take some therapy to turn a bit more normal before James recruited him.

The End.

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