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
"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
"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."
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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."
"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
"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,
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"We do have a ritual room here," Dawn said.
"Which is tainted by Watcher cooties," Xander countered.
"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
"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
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.
"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
"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
"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,
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,"
"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
"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."
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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."
"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
The man nodded. "Okay." He got that one fixed and checked
then went onto the next one. "Are you considering evacuating?"
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
"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
"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."
"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
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
"We have satellite service," Dawn quipped. "Demonic in origin but
really handy. It means we have six hundred stations of demon
"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
"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."
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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.
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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'
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.
"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
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?"
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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.
"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."
"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
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,
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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.
"Spaceships?" Sam asked.
"Portal. Evil law firm." She grinned. "Some of the
community there will be helping. Including some of the peaceful
"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.
"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
"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
"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.
"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.
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