Safe and Sound.

Xander was let into the slayer house by Willow, who was giving him a strange look.  "What?" he asked, glancing around.

"Why are you so tense?  No one here wants to shoot at you or anything, Xander."

He snorted, staring at her.  "You mean besides the guy at the airport, who had orders to try to get my blood?"  She blanched.  He stared at her.  "How did anyone find out?" he asked quietly.

"They asked about you when they did the profiles for the FBI, after the LA invasion."

Xander nodded once.  "So did we leak or did they?"

"It's not a big deal!  I'm sure the FBI could arrest them, Xander."  She huffed.

He snorted again.  "Yeah, because I didn't see a whole village killed trying to get me?"  She backed up, shaking her head.  He nodded.  "Oh, yeah.  Did.  Those terrorist sorts are really not happy campers."  He walked off to find Giles.  "Did we leak or did the FBI leak?"

"Why would either have a leak?" he asked, looking him over.  "What's happened?  You look tense and upset."

"I just stopped someone else who had an order to try to get my blood."  Giles flinched.  "Willow said you guys told the FBI, so who had the leak?  Because they're responsible for a village dying as well."

Giles pulled off his glasses, laying them on top of the book he was translating.  "It was not us.  We told the FBI when they asked if there were any problems that may create problems for them."

"That's fine.  Then I'm going to sue their asses," he said dryly.  "You I would've yelled at."  He walked off.  "Let me go do that."

"Xander, we have a lawyer on staff."

"I'll talk with them later.  After I make my feelings known."  He left, driving himself to the local office.  He smiled at the receptionist.  "I need to talk to the local supervisor in the FBI office please."

"Why, sir?  Most people want agents."  She gave him a perky smile.

"Because someone sold some information and I know what they sold."  She flinched and nodded, typing that in.  An assistant sort came to get him and he followed them.  He saw the look at his dirty, sweaty clothes.  "I just flew back from Africa today," he said dryly.  He was let into the office and pulled out an envelope, dumping the pictures on the desk.  "All those people died because someone told someone who likes to make germ warfare devices about my blood."

"Who are you?  Let's start there," he said with an encouraging smile.

"Alexander Lavelle Harris.  I've been off training slayers.  Willow and Giles both said that they told you guys about my blood problem."

He looked him up in their files and winced.  "I have you listed."  He read the file, going paler and paler.  "Um, graduation?"

"Not relevant at this point," Xander said firmly.  He flipped over the pictures that were face down.  "I was in their village, passing through.  I had stopped to get a few stitches done after a slight attack the night before.  I figured it was raiders, had seen a few of those.  The clinic doc fixed me up."  He pointed at that picture.  "Her.  That's her wife and their nurse."  He pointed at another one.  That one was very young.  "I'm told she saw the raiding party first," he said.  "I had just left the village, not even thirty minutes earlier.  Apparently she managed to get enough of a warning out that they managed to hide a few of the kids and one old woman, who later got found by the military.  Who told me.  They provided the pictures and helped get me to Cairo so I could get back here, where I'm supposedly safer.  Except for the guy at the airport I had to stab because he tried to kill me."

"Oh, dear," he said, typing that in.  He called his boss.  "I can't be sure which end leaked."

"Only Willow, Giles, Buffy, Spike, and Dawn knew in Sunnydale.  Everyone else is either dead, and I'm assuming Spike is dead again since he wasn't hanging around, or here."

"That's not good news."  He got connected.  "Sir, we have a problem.  We had a leak of information.  It was us or the Council.  Yes, I'm staring at Mr. Harris actually."  He listened.  "No, sir, I'm not going to take him into protective custody."

"No, you're not.  I'll kill anyone who tries to take me right now," Xander said bluntly.  "US agents or not.  I'm at the stage of paranoid and pissed off.   Somebody gave them information on my blood.  I'm pretty sure I can trust my made family and they said they didn't."

He looked at him.  "We can put you into witness protection."

Xander let out a bitter sounding laugh.  "No you can't."  He looked at something, flipping over that picture.  "Look familiar?"

"Um, he's US military by the uniform."

"Yeah, he was trying to capture me to get my blood too."  He stared at him.  "He had *orders*."

"That's even worse.  Do you have copies of them?"

Xander pointed at the tape that fell out.  "When I questioned him.  I had the nice agents in Cairo copy it off my phone."

The local assistant director ran it, letting his boss hear.  He got up to walk off talking to his boss.  He watched the boy, he was paranoid.  He was glancing around at all the windows.  He hung up and came back.  "We want you to go into hiding."

"I think that's a great idea," Xander said dryly, staring at him.  "I have no idea where since you guys sold me out.  I'm really not happy.  Giles has already offered me his attorney."

"That would make more notice, not less."

"Yeah, but it might keep me safer.  Or at least make it so I have a way of hiding somewhere outside the wilderness."

The assistant director shrugged.  "Witness protection is still an option.  It's not all of us.  The US Marshals are over that program."

"How many of them are compromised?  Because even if we're talking half-demons, there's a whole lot who hate that I made sure Buffy won all through Sunnydale."

"The files say that, yes.  Apparently a few of our agents are of mixed blood and one added that warning to your file."  He considered things.  "The best we can do is protective custody, sir.  At least while we figure it out.  Do you know which group?"

Xander nodded, handing him over one picture from his pocket.  "That was them before I flew back.  I insisted so I'd be safer.  The military guys thought I couldn't do it."  The assistant director flinched.  "I've just spent the last three years in Africa."


"Yeah.  And not in the pretty parts either.  Native slayers tended to show up in the smaller villages, some nomadic and some not.  The closest we got to cities was one down by South Africa.  So no offense, but after the *military* tried to get me I don't trust any of your agents, no matter which group."  He stood up.  "I'm going back to the slayer house tonight."

"Maybe you should hit a hotel?" he suggested.  "In case they show up?"

"We have protections on the house for everything but bombs and I'm going to help them do one of those in a few minutes."  He stared at him.  "If it was you guys that sold me out, I want to know how you're going to fix it.  Because if I have to fix it, they're going to try to charge me with something."

"Probably," he agreed.  "The one in the airport?"

"No clue who he was other than he tried to grab me.  I noticed him watching me and moved to a more secure, private location in one of the bathrooms.  That way he couldn't hit normals.  I was peeing, watching the mirror, and he came in and tried to grab my throat.  He did not like my knife going into his chin."  The assistant director shuddered.  Xander nodded.  "Like I said, I'm a bit paranoid.  I think I have reason to be."

"I believe you do as well.  Let me call the local PD to make sure you're clear on that incident."  He called the Chief of Police to talk to him.  He got the full status report and nodded.  He said a quiet 'thank you' and hung up.  "They got surveillance film.  You're in the clear there though they wanted to know why.  They weren't sure you weren't some sort of drug or arms dealer coming into the country."  Xander shook his head.  "Do you have weapons?"

"No comment?"  He smirked.

"Probably a good idea.  Tonight we're going to set you up with a few agents at a motel room.  That way you have someone to watch your back.  That will give me time to look up who else has been into your files.  If I find out it was one of ours, I'll have them taken down and find out who they told or sold the information to."  Xander nodded once at that.  "If it was one of yours, I'll have them arrested."

"That sounds reasonable."  He shook his hand.  "I need to make some pretty important choices later on about where I'm going to be putting up a safe area."

"There's a few areas that are safer, even counting the threat of demon assassins."  Xander nodded at that.  "I'll have one get the information to you by tomorrow morning.  Then you can meet with myself and Mr. Giles?"

"That would work," Xander agreed.  "Though if they sold it, I want what they sold it for.  It's my blood money."

"I can see that point.  I'll try to get it passed."  Xander nodded.  He called up some of his best people.  "Gentlemen, this is Mr. Harris.  Mr. Harris has had people trying to get his blood."  They all grimaced.  "Apparently people from this agency told others.  Including someone military with a plan.  Tonight, get him somewhere safe where he can calm down and think."  They nodded, taking Xander with him.  He sat down to work on this gordian knot of a problem.  He did check with a contact at the Pentagon, who said that military unit was not supposed to be doing that.  He let them listen to that tape as well.  He had no idea if any of that team was still around.  Harris looked like he had went cold and professional to protect himself.


Xander and one of the agents from the night before limped in looking worse for the wear.  The head director of the FBI gasped.  Mr. Giles, there for their meeting, grimaced in distaste.  Xander looked at the regional director.  "I found out who sold it."  He tossed his phone on the desk.  He sat down with a wince and a hiss.  "Your other agents are in the ER.  As far as I know they're mostly fine."

"Sir, let me go make a report," the agent said.  "Is he safe here?"  The director nodded.  "Sir, no offense, but last night it was the CIA."  He left.

Xander relaxed, looking at Giles.  "Glenda said hi."

"Glenda....  Briony's sister?" Giles demanded.

"Yeah.  She didn't realize I was me until I beat the shit out of her.  Then she begged.  That's who I questioned and I left her tied up in the bathroom of the hotel room."  He looked at the agents.  "Two went down to the gas they pumped in, two to tranq darts.  The gas made me woosey enough that they got in and got me down but I destroyed them once I was able, and the blood they had drawn.  They did not make it out of that room.  Most of them not alive.  Tell the nice local people I'm really sorry again?"

"I can do that."  The director got into the audio note taking files and found that one, playing it.  It was grainy but they heard who had cut their orders last night.  They looked him up.  "NSA."

"Used to be NID," Xander agreed.  "I called one of the contacts I have to ask them.  We were in the diner having coffee to calm down and make plans.  That was right before they tried to ram a truck into it and then set it on fire."  The director moaned.  "They told me it was Hortense Mann and the NID wanted me for other reasons, namely the incident in high school.  They had no idea I was carrying antigens for three dead strains of deadly things.  The agent asked to make sure they weren't after my blood due to the antigens for something deadly.  Fortunately that one was dying so he didn't repeat it.  So unless someone was scrying what was going on, we're clear on that as far as I could tell."

"What was he dying from?" Giles asked.  Xander leaned forward and put his two guns on the table then looked at him.  "Oh, dear."

Xander nodded.  "Kinda necessary.  I'm glad I brought them back from Africa and the guys in Cairo helped make sure they traveled with me."

"Us too," the director said.  "Hortense Mann was the name we saw as well.  We have no idea who that is since they're not one of ours."  Xander leaned forward and got his phone, texting someone.  One got sent back and Xander snorted, sending another one.  That got him a name and he showed them.  "That one I know," he admitted.  "He's in the DC branch."

"I don't care," Xander admitted.  "Whatever he sold me for is now mine.  That way I have a way I can protect myself.  Because, frankly, I need to hide from agents."

"Go to Denver," Giles said.  "There's very few demons.  There's some strong agents who we have done a background check on.  We ran into one with the weapons issue we had for a battle."  Xander nodded once at that.  "We worked with them on that once they realized what was going on.  Mostly because Dawn broke rank and went to talk to one of them in their home that night."

Xander smirked.  "Dawn's like a younger, nicer me sometimes."

"Yes, we all worry about those tendencies in both of you, though I believe you're putting yours to good use."

Xander nodded.  "Very.  Denver?"

"Yes," the director said.  "We can mask your trail enough by changing your bank accounts and anything else you have."

"Sure, I'll sell the ATF some of my weapons as long as they at least pay the underground price for 'em," Xander said dryly.  "Otherwise, I have a few things being shipped tomorrow.  Including the rest of the slayer support fund, Giles.  I only used half."

"Take it," Giles said.  "We'll officially retire you and make sure that you're not on our rolls as more than a retired member.  List you as killed in action."  He patted him on the wrist.  "We'll be sorry to see you go," he said quietly.

"If I don't, they'll take down the house," he said.  Giles nodded.  "I need the books on shielding and the ones on protection rites."

"I can have Dawn pull those."

"If you tell Dawn, she'll try to follow."

"I know.  We'll do what we can, Xander."  He patted him again.  "The things you're having shipped?"

"Are going to Dawn.  I sent Dawn a letter, it's in the mailbox, of where to store them for the night.  Plus money to put them there.  I'll move them from there."  Giles nodded.  "I did learn a lot about how the underground works in Africa," he said dryly.  "I had to smuggle two slayers out of danger."

"That's not noted," the director asked.  "Can we debrief you about what you did over there?  That way we know?"

"Sure, as long as you buy lunch," Xander quipped.  They nodded that was reasonable and took him to a meeting room without windows to go over what he had done for the last three years.  They had heard rumors of some crazy American white guy over there handling demon problems.  Now they knew the truth.  Not fully crazy, but paranoid and in the wrong place all too often.  It let their tech people take the notes from his phone for evidence.  There would be a quiet, messy trial.


Xander got to Denver by the underground, tipping the person that had helped him.  He had to go that way because someone had tried him at the train station.  With the FBI guarding him.  He found which storage area was his and went to it.  He was due to meet the Council's contact out here there.  He nodded at the casual looking blond man who was really tense.  "Agent Larabee?" he asked quietly.  The man stared at him.  "Xander Harris."  He shook his hand.  "What did they tell you?"

"I got a full briefing of what's been going on.  Why here?"

"Everyone said here was safest if something happened.  Low demon threat, low scumbag threat."  He shrugged.  "Apparently African terrorists don't like cold and snowy weather."  Larabee snorted but nodded that was true.  "I have plans I'm going to run by you in a bit.  I had some help putting them out with the transporter that got me here."

"You had to go that far?"

"They attacked the guards I had at the train station.  We had switched cities and they attacked us."

"Crap," he muttered.  "This is yours."

"That's not the only one.  That's the slayer apocalypse closet."  He opened the lock with the key on his keychain.  He picked up the stone in front of the door.  It ended the spell hiding things.  Larabee moaned.  Xander looked at him.  "It was me training the native slayers in Africa," he said quietly.  "I had eight girls who were very far apart, having to handle things that usually needed a team.  Yeah, beyond that I like weapons.  You can't have the axes or swords, and I need some of the guns if I can."  He let him go look.  "The cases, pat the red mark."

Larabee did that and opened the first one, shuddering at it.  "I know the deal was to pay black market value.  I have no idea what this is worth."  He looked at him.  "I need to call in one of my people."

"Giles said he trusted your team.  Dawn as well."

"He would be the one she broke in on to talk to."  He called him.  "Come to my meeting."  He hung up.

Xander went to check his other storage area.  He came back with two duffle bags.  "Pirates and other scumbags that bothered my slayers," he said at the look he was getting.  The scowl got worse.  "I would've left them but they didn't need them and my slayers got half."

"That's half?" he demanded.

"No, all this is half."

Larabee blinked a few times, looking around then at him.  "How in the hell?"

"They were bothering my slayers.  A few times they were bothering me."  He shrugged.  "I'm not the nice fairy anymore, Larabee.  I haven't been since graduation.  Battles do change you," he said quietly.

"I know that.  I was a SEAL."

Xander nodded.  "There's days I wish I had went military.  It might've ended up better."  He hopped up to sit on a case.  "I can hear a car."

Larabee looked and nodded.  His agent and another on their team came in.  "Harris, this is Standish and Tanner."  Xander waved.  "I showed my team the memo in case something happened."

"Cool with me.  Like I said, Giles and Dawn trust you."

Standish looked at him.  "We can guard somewhere tonight."

"No.  I'm going to find a place I can ward and guard other ways.  Thank you but they've already gotten a few agents shot."  Tanner winced.  "I'll gladly call."

"Do so," Larabee said.  "Ezra, what're these worth for the black market?  Pat the red button before opening anything." 

He went to look, making an inventory list.  Then he called a contact he had.  Who asked if it was Xander's collection.  He looked at the boy.  "My associate, Paul McMertry...."

"Mountie guy pretending to be a thug?  Tell him I said hi and I missed our date, but I'm sorry."

Ezra repeated that and smiled.  "He said you're forgiven, he heard your reason.  Yes, that one."  He read off the rest and nodded, making notes.  "Thank you."  He hung up and handed it to Larabee.  "They have found the root of the problem and how much he was paid.  That sustenance will be here tomorrow.  What, in general terms, plans do you have for the foreseeable future?"

"I'm going to set up an absolute safe haven," Xander said.  "Safe from demons, magic, agents, military guys, NID, all that.  Then maybe I'm going to set up a bar to make sure I have cash forever.  Or at least as long as I last."

"That's not a bad idea," Tanner said  "There's plenty of agents who'd love a safe club to hang out at."

Xander grinned weakly.  "I figured there were."  He hopped off.  "Did you get this stack?"

"I did not."  He opened them to check them, gasping at one.  "That is beyond black market standards, Mr. Harris.  It is beyond military standards."

Xander looked then at him. "He wanted to date me really a whole lot but he was also beating the people growing and processing his drug crop for working too slowly.  I applied jackass-be-gone solution."

Ezra found himself smiling.  "We know a few with that predilection toward the dangerous dating environments."

Xander grinned.  "My former fiancee, who died in Sunnydale, was a former vengeance demon."

"You may be worse then," Tanner quipped.  He patted the boy on the arm, feeling how tense he was.  "Relax.  Our team you can trust."

Xander looked at him.  "I thought other people, like the FBI, were."

"We don't overly much," Larabee admitted.  "Not the local office anyway."

Xander nodded at that knowledge.  "I'll keep that in mind."  He yawned.  "Agent Standish, I need to liquidate those duffle bags as well.  Tonight, I'm going to a place I know has safe rooms set up."  He yawned again.  "Can I meet you back here at ten?"

"You may," he agreed.  "I'll at least have news by then."  Xander nodded and left after grabbing a few pieces of clothes and shutting the other storage area.  Ezra looked in the first duffle bag, giving it an odd look.  "How?"

"He said they were bothering him and his slayers," Larabee said.

"They say he's fiercely protective of those in his in-group."  He zipped them and took them to his car.  "Let me talk to the delightful Paul McMertry.  I'll see you both at ten."  They nodded.  Larabee locked the weapons up with his own lock.  They went to rest for the night.


Xander had everything set up and was looking for somewhere suitable.  He needed training areas, hiding areas, room to roam since he couldn't really come out without being noticed.  Larabee had gotten the full debrief about Africa from the head of the FBI.  Plus what had happened in Cleveland.  Now he was giving Xander funny looks like Xander was the insane one.  So clearly he needed time and space.  He got a few good suggestions from the contacts he had gotten locally from ones he trusted. 

It turned out Spike was presently alive again and being a pain in the ass in LA for now.  Which suited everyone just fine.  Spike's contacts had been filtered for trustworthiness and problems that might haunt Xander, or make him hunt them, so he had a few he could run to for things.  Like guns since Larabee had taken most of his.  Xander was looking at a new building.  It was four stories including the basement.  It had been a bar with working girls up top before the police had busted it and shut it down. 

It was nearly perfect.

It was a bit too close to the demon areas.  It was a bit dirty and clearly needed some work.  He'd have to pay for wards to go up and other more sophisticated methods of protection.  He had an ex who could do both of those and Xander was really uptight.  Though that ex was now dating someone, who was a scumbag actually and Xander would love to shoot them to put them out of his misery.  The price was decent.  He could hide while getting it upgraded.  It'd only take a little bit to do the work that it needed since it looked structurally sound.  He fiddled with his eyepatch, looking at the realtor, who was a sister of a contact.  He nodded.  "I'll need help setting up some things but yeah.  I can do this."

She beamed and nodded.  "Good.  I can draw up the papers today.  Are you going to offer full price?"

Xander snorted.  "It's way overpriced in this housing market."  She blinked.  "I used to work construction."  She nodded at that.  "Start with twenty under asking price.  Guilt them with the fact that it needs a tiny bit of work if it'll help."

"I'll try."  She walked off calling the number on the sign.  She came back blinking.  "They know you."

Now he was back to being too tense.  "Interesting.  Who owned it?"

"Philip DeSangra?"

"Eww."  He shuddered.  "But if he'll take less than asking that's great."

"He countered with fifteen under it and he has the name of a quiet construction firm."

"We'll see after a background check.  Fine."  She smiled and called them back.  They went to fill out the paperwork and Xander did the transfer from the bank.  The construction company employed former agents and they were very quiet.  Xander met with them to talk about what he needed.  It got a few funny looks but one called his own contacts and suddenly they understood that people were hunting Xander so he was paranoid.  So it was all good.  It'd take a month but otherwise it was good.


Xander finished with the moving of furniture in his new place a month later.  He had the full basement for his needs.  He had magical wards up so there were anti-violence spells, protection against demons popping in, against people being teleported in or out, and against anything too technological that was above modern science because he had heard about a nearby project that was like that but was respectable.  The walls had signal blockers for cellphones and listening devices.  It had insulation so you couldn't use a laser listening device as well.  He had left one small corner of the bar able to use cellphones.  Upstairs, the rooms that had been part of the brothel were turned into completely safe rooms, with the same protections as downstairs.

Xander went into his new armory.  He had to buy a few extra guns.  Which Larabee had probably heard and scowled about but no one had bothered him about it yet.  He checked, he had ammo.  He hung all the guns up on the pegboards and the ammo went underneath them on the shelves he had put in.  His work bench was in there as well.  He checked, it was smooth and level.  His tools from his carpentry days were in there on the other side of the room.  So maybe he'd do some little carvings or things.  He walked through the doorway on the wall between the guns and the swords into his practice space.  It was large, had wood floors, had a mirror on one wall, and had nothing else in there.  He'd need some time to work on his sword work and other defensive actions.

Once that was checked, he moved to the bedroom.  The basement only had the one bedroom but it wasn't like he needed more of them.  He had a queen sized bed.  He had dressers and some new clothes since most of his was in bad shape after three years in Africa.  The bathroom was nicely large with an older cast iron tub that he could almost fully immerse himself into when he was sore.  No jets but the shower had a few.  So did the less deep hot tub in the corner. The sinks were clean and nice.  The toilet had its own stall without a door but the bathroom door blocked it when it was open.  He had gotten over modesty in the toilet in Africa.  Having to crap in the bushes did that to one. 

Though it was nice there was nothing he had to watch out for when he crapped.  He hated being bitten by a snake for peeing on it.  He went back to the living room.  He had a good cable package and it was already on.  So was his internet, and it was fully shielded.  The geek on the construction team had made sure that the whole building had a shielded internet.  You couldn't trace them back to it, it had a built in virus scanner in case someone sent one at whoever was using it, and it was totally anonymous.  You could even log into sites and they couldn't find you.  He logged into his mail and checked.  Dawn had sent him one so he smiled and sent her one back.  It made her feel better and worry less.  She was the only one there he talked to for their own safety.

He put his computer aside and went to take a shower, with the extra showerheads running because he ached.  He was getting too old for hunting anyway.  He was not sixteen anymore and his body reminded him of that most days.  There were too many days he had felt Giles' age while in Africa.  At least after one of the illnesses he had, earlier on it had been easier and just overuse strain.  After he got done, he got into the hot tub for a while.  Heat therapy seemed to work the best.

All he had to do now was start the club up.  He needed noise and people being around before he went insane due to all the hiding.


Xander looked at the bartender candidate.  He was a former agent.  He had passed a serious background check in both the upper and lower grounds.  He was said to be a good man.  Xander told him about what he wanted and the guy agreed, Denver could use it.  He knew of a few agents that really needed that service.  He had also bartended back in his younger days so he knew what a bar and club needed to be able to run.  That was helpful since Xander had no idea about liquor licenses and permits for clubs.

They set up the plan for the club, how to approve new members, how to invite the first few, and how deep of a background check they needed to do.  Xander also mentioned that he had been asked if they were using working girls and he had said no.  The bartender had an idea for that.  He knew some that would pass a background check, they were the ones agents went to anyway, and they could keep a discreet referral list.  Xander decided that was a good idea. 

They also made up how to put up a website.  It wasn't fancy but it did have a passcode page put onto it.  Xander wisely put up a FAQ section as well.  That way others could have the dumber questions answered.  They got to work on what to stock, how to do music, and what to put in the bedrooms upstairs.  Xander had no idea on sheets beyond clean or dirty.


Agent Standish got the invitation in the mail a few months later.  He read it carefully.

//You are hereby invited to become a member at a totally peaceful, protected, non-violent club in downtown Denver.  All members have been background checked before being offered admittance.  All of you are in fields that are on the positive side of humanity so there will be no underground involvement.  It is a club where you can relax totally as there are no means of surveillance able to penetrate our walls.  We invite you to become a member.  If you have questions or want to look us up, use the address below and your invitation number.  We look forward to serving you.//

Ezra got onto his computer and put in the address.  It came up with a 'please verify your membership ID/invitation code.  He did that and it brought him to the club's page.  The pictures of it were nice.  Not very telling of how things were laid out so someone had a good hand at protecting the area.  He looked over the FAQ page, smiling at the 'are you a brothel' question and the answer of 'no, but if you need that sort of service we have pre-screened and background checked a few places and can give you their phone number.  We do not take any money from them for this, nor do we do more than let you rent a room for the night so you can relax'.  It was a decent reason for the call-out list. 

He decided to go that night and test their defenses.  Larabee had wanted to check on Harris anyway.


Ezra walked up to the door, showing his invitation.  The guard nodded and opened the heavy wood door to let him in.  "Have a nice night, sir."  The door was closed behind Ezra and it automatically locked itself.  He scanned the area around the door.  You had to be careful since so many people had security needs inside.

Ezra walked up to the bar, nodding at the bartender.  "What do you have that's ancient and smooth?"

The bartender smiled.  "We have a fifty year old scotch and a slightly younger bourbon.  We have varying ages down to the newbie level of bourbon but it's not that smooth."


"Some of the younger," he offered with a smile.  "Some of the older.... not hardly."  He pulled up a bottle, getting a nod of pleasure from the label.  He poured Ezra a drink and took the money for it.  "For future reference, if you need to use your cellphone, the gray area on the side of the bar," he said with a point.  "Is the only place they will work in here.  If you need to get online, we do have an in-house, shielded wi-fi with a built in virus scanner and it goes though a site that blocks anyone from tracing your whereabouts or who you are."

"That is excellent to know."  He sipped his drink and smiled.  "That is wonderful."

"It is."  He smiled.  "The owner let me pick whatever I wanted as long as the bottles were less than a thousand dollars each."

"Xander does have a good mind for knowing what is best."  He smiled at the shocked look.  "We met when he first moved.  I was one of the agents that helped him."

"Oh!"  He grinned.  "He's hiding in his apartment."

"I figured he was."  He settled in at a table.  There was a small library of books and a sign saying that they had ebooks available to loan if you wanted one of them.  There was a quiet tv in a corner.  There were a few tables, not too crowded.  Only one other person in the club tonight but once news got out to the right sort, they would have more customers.  That single person was an investment person if he remembered right.  It was the one he had introduced the boy to.  "If I wanted to refer someone?"

"I take referrals, we do background checks, then we offer," the bartender said with a smile.

"Do the protections go upstairs?"

"Yes, sir.  We know that some of you need a place that's totally quiet and safe to finally relax and let down your guard.  They're shielded the same way and cellphones don't work up there at all."  Ezra nodded at that, smiling as he sipped the ancient bourbon.  It was very calming in there.  Since he knew he couldn't be attacked or have his job outed he could fully relax his guard and just enjoy himself.  One other person came in during the time he was there but it was an agent from the FBI who they had worked with a few times and his team considered competent if not exciting.  Ezra nodded when the agent sat at his table.  "Gray."

"Standish."  He sipped his beer.  "This is really nice."  Ezra nodded with a smile.  "Who set it up?"

"Someone my team had to help," he said quietly.  "Because someone in your agency tried to have them killed."

"Oh, him.  We heard from the head office in case we had to run into him."  He glanced around.

"He's quietly resting."

"That's good though."  He sipped his beer.  "It's really quiet in here."

"Which is a warm blanket over frazzled, overly stressed nerves," Ezra reminded him.

"Good point.  There's been many times I needed something like this after a bad case."  Ezra nodded he knew that feeling.  "Can we invite?"

"You can refer," Ezra said.  "I asked.  They will background check."

"I can fully understand that.  I would too."  He got up to get another beer and went to watch some tv, which was on a fairly innocuous animal show instead of the news.  Clearly it was to keep them from being stressed.

Ezra frowned, putting his cellphone in the gray area on the bar.  It beeped the 'missed call' message so he sat there and called the number with a mental sigh.  "Mr. Larabee, is there an emergency that would necessitate me leaving my evening's repast?" he asked blandly.  "Why did that happen?"  He grimaced.  "Was it his taste in dates or was it another's taste that set them up?"  He nodded once then rolled his eyes.  "I shall endeavor to meet you there."  He hung up.  "Duty calls," he complained.  He left, heading to the discreet parking garage across the street.  It had nice security and guards.  His car hadn't even a fingerprint on it.  He got in and drove to the emergency room to help calm down their leader before he could rend their sniper's newest date to her component atoms.  Later he would refer the rest of his team to the club.  They could all use such a service.

"Where were you?" Buck demanded.

"At a totally protected club.  One that there is no method of surveillance or of being bothered by the outside world."

Larabee stared at him.  "He managed it?"

"Yes."  He smiled.  "It is by referral only."

Larabee nodded.  "We'll see.  Let's get the bitch that decided to stab Vin first."



Xander wanted to scream.  He really did.  There was a major problem not even a hundred miles from him but he couldn't help because it would expose him and it was military created.  So he was pacing his rooms.  He could help.  He knew he could help.  It was like some torment from some higher power.  He could help, he had the means to help defend the town from the problem.  Or Denver but it wasn't spreading here yet.  If he knew how he could do that and not expose himself, he would.  It was going to drive him nuts.

He checked his contacts for updated information.  Most of them realized he was stressing and wanted to be there.  They were being tolerant of his fussing because eight months in Denver hadn't been long enough to change his nature yet.

Finally, Xander snapped.  They were losing.  Humanity might end if he didn't help.  They had warriors, but he was used to wars that involved things that weren't human.  Most soldiers weren't.  He gathered a few things and headed to his car.  It was a good forty-five minute drive but he knew how to get to where they were presently fighting without being seen.  He was really good about sneaking through woods after three years of fighting in Africa.  He found where they were fighting and laid down some ground surprises then took out some of the problems himself.  If the soldiers noticed the numbers thinning, no one said anything.

Xander finally took more direct action.  The things looked like demons.  They acted like demons.  So they were demons.  Or alien demons maybe.  Not that it mattered at the moment.  He shot one last one that got him some notice from someone but he nodded and hid again.  He set off the ground defenses and the alien demons went down.  The soldiers got a better foothold and moved forward to destroy more of them.  Xander considered it and set up one last helper.  Then he went back to Denver once it was set off by the military guys who found it.  Humanity would win and go on, which was all that was important.

Of course, on the way home he got spotted and nearly stopped by someone.  Someone in an official car.  Xander had to evade them and hope like hell they couldn't figure out where he was.  The club's building was in a different name.  One not associated with him.  He had never used it, not even in jest.  If anyone did a search on the name they'd find a very obscure comic that had been popular in LA when he was about ten.  So no definitive link back to him.  He made it home and went to shower and calm down.

Only one person had seen him.  He'd be okay.


The soldiers got together with their general.  "Who set the explosives?" the general asked.  No one said anything.  "Anyone?  Because I didn't order that.  It was helpful but we didn't have that on base.  So either we had helpers we didn't know about or we somehow stole material from another base that's not in the US.  That was warzone ordinance, not what we use."

One of the colonels shifted and raised a hand.  "I saw someone I didn't recognize.  Not in uniform, sir."

"Okay.  Any idea what he was doing?"

"He shot one of the aliens to give me room to move."

"So he was on our side?"

"Apparently?"  He shifted again.  The guy had been a bit...worrisome but he had looked like he knew what was going on.  "He may have been prior military with how he shot and how he was standing.  He was in a black tank top and jeans."

"Did anyone else see him?" the general asked.  "Any idea which direction he came from, Sheppard?"

"No, sir.  I have the feeling he didn't intend for me to see him either."

"Could be," he agreed with a huff.  "Someone find him on the tapes?  We have cameras on all the ways onto the base.  And look at the ones in town too if we can hack into them."  His people nodded.  "Anything else to report on him, Sheppard?"

"He looked very...tense.  It wasn't his first battle, you could tell by the calmness.  He had that 'it's gotta be done' look."

The general nodded.  "I've seen that look a few times.  It usually speaks to burnout.  So more likely he's former military."  Sheppard shrugged.  "Yes, no?"

"I have the feeling, from just that quick view, that he wasn't *official* military but he's not a militia yahoo or anything.  I don't know why though.  Maybe he used to be in the Reserves instead of full-time military?"

"Most guys who spent a while in the full-time service stand a certain way," one of the other guys agreed.  "They move a certain way because that was trained into them.  A lot of them keep the very short haircuts."  A few of the people in the room checked their own hair.  "They tend to sneak, if they're sneaking, in the way that they were trained to."

"Exactly.  I wouldn't have worn that outfit to a battle if I could've helped it because it would've left me too exposed to the elements in case it rained or left my skin too open for injury.  I would've worn at least a short-sleeved shirt.  It's a bit chilly today anyway," he finished with a quip.  "And boots to give me extra tread."

"So we're not looking at a fully trained soldier," the general said.  One of his geeks brought in a picture.  It was from behind.  "I can see what you mean."  The higher general walked in.  "We had a helper."  He held up the picture.

"I knew that.  I also know where he is.  Not who he is but where he is."  He looked.  "I've definitely seen him before."

"Is he military?" the lesser general asked.

"Not exactly."  Sheppard smiled.  "Good guess though, Colonel.  It's a long story.  One I do not know all of.  All I have is a warning about him."

"About him?" the lesser general asked.

"Carter, remember that guy the NID was trying to get at the same time they were trying to get Teal'c the last time?"

"Yes, sir.  Something about DNA anomalies when I hacked in."

"It was him."

"Do we know anything more about him?  Is he being recruited?" the lesser general asked.

"No.  All we have is a 'he's had problems with people wanting him' and somehow he was in Africa for a while.  We know nothing beyond that."

One of the people in the back of the room cleared his throat.  "While that's very interesting, I did help hack during that incident and you're both wrong."  They stared at him.  He smirked.  "He was in Africa, yes.  He was in Africa doing things like that group we're not supposed to admit we helped last year."

"He was?" the higher general demanded.

"Yes.  I found a sealed FBI file.  Some of them tried to get him for some other reason.  They decided to *share* with the NID."

"Shit," Sheppard said, looking back at him.  "Why?"

"No idea.  That part was not in the file.  That was all the file mentioned.  It didn't even have his name any longer.  They listed him as in deep hiding and probably killed if not seen for years."

"So why is he local?" the higher general asked.

"He's obviously hiding.  Whatever reason got him *hunted* is why he's hiding.  I'd say he was somewhere nearby since we're in a low crime area and a have a low concentration of the screwed up mess that they deal with."

"So he's hiding somewhere and what we had going on brought him out of hiding to help us," the lesser general said.  The guy in the back nodded.  "That's counter-intuitive."

"Unless you've been fighting for years," Sheppard said.  "Most of us would come out of hiding to help and then sneak back to our hiding spot, General.  If it was an important battle, if humanity could lose like it nearly did, then we'd be there."

The higher general nodded.  "Me too probably."  The lesser general groaned and walked off.  "McKay, see if you can find anything else about him without alerting anyone that he still is alive?"

"I can look but there's not much hope. I looked then and nothing came up."

"Well, if we find him, say thank you for the help.  Try to keep yourself safe because we heard they're hunting you, and next time call one of us somehow and we'll take any weapons you want to let us borrow," the older general said.  "We don't want him to get hurt by showing up.  I never want to let anyone be captured by the NID for any reason."

"I have a few contacts in town.  I'll have them see if they can get word back to him," McKay said.

"Thank you."   He looked around.  "Beyond that, great job, guys."  The older general smiled.  "We won.  Even if we did have help.  Regroup, calm down, get ready for the next one."  They nodded and dispersed to do that.   The general went to figure out what he was going to do about a civilian helping.  He wasn't going to put it in the reports.  NID would come back and no one wanted that.  Least of all him.


Xander came up to get a drink.  "I fucked up," he muttered at the odd look he got.  "Majorly."

"You did what you had to do, Xander."

The boy looked at his bartender.  "How did you know?"

"A friend of a friend of an ex-girlfriend.  They said thank you and next time find one of them and donate.  They didn't want you to risk yourself."

Xander shrugged.  "It's the duty sometime."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No.  Not in the least.  Ever."  He sighed.  "Life sucks ass sometimes and you survive it."  He walked off drinking.  "Let me go back to hiding."

"Why don't you sit in a corner up here tonight?"

"No.  Not yet.  Thanks though."  He went back downstairs to watch some anime.  Something mindless.  Something calming.  So Excel Saga it was.

The bartender shook his head.  The boy needed help. More help than he could give the boy right now.  Now if only there weren't hunters in town.


Sheppard found something interesting in his mail a few days later.  He looked at the invitation, mentally sneering at it.  He did look it up online and the benefits sounded nice.  It was nice it was 'no underground' but why send it to him?  He went to talk to the generals.  "Sir?" he asked the older one, sitting across from him since he was eating in the mess.  He handed over the invitation.

"I've seen one of those.  They're very hard to get."  He stared at him.  "Go."

"You've gone?"

"Once.  It is very ...calming.  There's no outside interference.  Even if we wanted to we couldn't beam you out of there.  I had them check.  It's got good booze.  Actually it had some really ancient booze that was great.  If you need it, there's totally private rooms upstairs so you can sleep protected."

"That's something I could've used a few times," Sheppard said quietly.

"Which is why the person who did it set it up.  I have the feeling it's related to the topic the other day."

"Probably unless there's a huge coincidence," Sheppard decided.  "So I should go?"


"Then I guess I need tonight off."

"Go for it.  You could handle a night off."  He gave him a pointed look.  "Just enjoy yourself.  You could use a night off."  Sheppard nodded and walked off contemplating what he was going to do tonight.

Jack O'Neill smiled.  A place like that was good for a warrior.  They didn't often have *safe* places they could fully relax.


John Sheppard presented his invitation. "Yes, sir," the guard said, letting him in.  "Have a nice night."  He got out of the way.

John walked in and glanced around.  There was a place on the bar that was painted gray and said 'cellphones only work here'.  They had a few already there.  He put his down and the bartender handed him a cord.  "What's this?"

"Plug that into your headphone jack.  If your phone rings it'll blink the LED."

"That's handy.  Thank you."  He did that and walked around the bar.  "Beer?"

"We have multiple beers.  We have international beers, American beers.  We have some local privately made yuppie beers."  He smiled.  "How wild did you want to go tonight?"

"Good, subtle, strong?"


"Been a long time since I had stout," John admitted with a smile.  One was poured for him and he paid, getting five bucks back.  "Nice prices too."

The bartender smiled.  "We try.  The boss wants it to be calming, not expensive unless you have really expensive tastes."

"How expensive do they make it?"

"We have just gotten in a bottle of two-hundred-year-old brandy.  It was found, ice filtered, and then rebottled."  John moaned.  "There's only a few around here who would appreciate it, but we have some hundred-year-old scotch too."

"That's really an expensive habit."  John smiled, looking around.  "Are you always this busy?"

"We usually get ten, twenty a night.  We're never going to be one of those overcrowded clubs."  He stared at him.  "I'm the one who does the invitations and background checks if you had questions."

"A few."  He sat down and settled in to ask some.  Within two beers he was feeling like this could be a home, healthy, healing spot.  Then he saw the guy from the battle sneaking up to get a beer.  He watched him then looked at the bartender, who shrugged.  John strolled over, getting in his way.  "The general said thank you and next time, just offer us weapons so you don't risk yourself," he said quietly.

The guy gave him a weak smile.  "Sometimes you do what you gotta do.  Even if you do get into trouble for it."  He looked around then at him.  "Have a good night."

"Colonel John Sheppard."

He smiled.  "Xander."  He walked around him.  "I'm going to go back into hiding."

"You could stay and talk."

"Some other night.  Tonight's...  a really bad night actually.  Ask me on a happier night than a remembrance one."  John nodded, backing off at that.  "Sorry.  Have a good night, John."  He went back downstairs.

John went back to the bar.  "Is he going to be okay?" he asked quietly.  It was the look in the younger guy's eyes.  He'd seen it in plenty of soldiers' eyes right before they never came home.

"Yeah.  It's a bad night for him.  This whole week is a bad one for him actually.  He had one last month too.  I don't know what he used to do but apparently it was sucky for him."

"But he's right.  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, no matter the circumstances."

The bartender nodded.  "All too often.  So, another stout?"

"Give me a less powerful beer this time."  He got handed a Budweiser bottle.  "Thanks."  He went to a table where he could look at the books in the small library and the tv.  He found one he had been meaning to read and pulled it down.  The chairs at the tables were padded and comfortable.  He could put his feet up in the chair across from him, and the bartender brought him some snack mix.  John grinned, settling in to read and be calm for a bit.  And if Xander came back up, maybe they'd talk about whatever was bothering the guy.  He looked like he could use a few friends.


John reported to his general the next morning with a yawn.  "Sorry, sir.  I got caught up reading."

"That's always a nice thing to do.  Did you have fun?"

"Not really but it was a good night.  I talked to the bartender.  I recommended a few people around here that could use the peace and quiet.  I nearly fell asleep at the table while reading."  He yawned again.  Then shook himself.  "I had a short conversation with Xander.  He said sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, even if you get into trouble when I passed on your message."

"Yes you do.  Xander?"

"That's what he said when I introduced myself."

"Then he is the guy we heard about.  Well, at least he's got somewhere safe set up."  John nodded.  "Hit your bunk for a few hours, Colonel.  There's nothing that important today that we can't call you about."  John nodded and saluted before leaving.  General O'Neill leaned back in his chair and considered things.  He liked that club after battles.  It was extremely calming to sit there.  Though he wouldn't be telling any higher ups about it so they couldn't infest the place.  It'd ruin it too quickly.


Ezra showed up after a bust a few months later tired and stressed beyond belief.  He was at the point of 'twitchy' and knew that the club's peaceful interior would soothe him.  Or at least he hoped it would.  He flashed his card and got let in.  The bartender looked at him and started to pull out something old and fine.  "Give me something to dull my nerves," he said  quietly.  "It has been a horrendous time for the last month and I'm not up to appreciating anything at this moment in time."

The bartender got him a glass of modern bourbon, getting a nod and it being drank quickly.  He got him a second and the slim binder he kept behind the bar.  "This is the referral list," he said quietly.  "We have people we have cleared by background check and who do not hire runaways or other questionable people.  On the list are things from massage experts in a few fields to people who do...more."  He stared at him.  "You can rent a room upstairs for the night for a hundred, bring whoever you want up there, just let me know first, and relax quietly."

Ezra gave him a weak smile.  "I tend to not dabble in such predilections."

"Even just a massage might help, Ezra.  It's clear that the wound on your arm is bothering you with the way you're holding yourself.  We don't make any money off them.  They don't pay us fees or anything.  Just take it and look through it.  Maybe you'll find something that can help with the tension."

"I can look at the services recommended," he decided, taking it to his table.  They did have masseuses, call girls, even fetish artists.  He turned the page and found the gay version of the first list.  On the next page were a few individual numbers, including to a doctor he knew handled quiet patients.  There were also two personal shoppers listed and one upscale department store's personal shopping department.  There were also two shops that sold ammunition and guns but were discreet and you had to be introduced to even get in the doors.  That was quite handy to know.  He winced as he moved his arm.  Brad had been right about him having been shot through the arm.  It did hurt immensely and he couldn't drink with his pain medicine, which he was loathe to take because it would leave him open to attack.  Well, here he didn't have that problem.

He got up and put his cellphone on that spot on the bar, plugging in the little flasher module.  Which of course was already going off since he was ignoring everyone.  He sent a quick text message that he was calming down, he was not home, and he would not be home tomorrow probably.  Then he turned the phone's ringer off and walked back over.  "Perhaps you were correct in that I could use some attention paid to my stiffening muscles," he admitted quietly.

Brad pointed.  "If you just want worked out, she's great.  If you decide you want more at the end she can do that.  If you just want a massage, Cindy's excellent but a bit rough.  Jacob is excellent but I know some guys freak out with a guy doing their backs and legs."

"That is not a problem I have," Ezra said with a slightly brighter smile.

"Manuella has the best touch with my back, which I throw out all too often," he said with a grin back.  "She can be delicate or harder, depending on what you need.  As a special birthday treat I let her do my whole body while naked and she made me relax, enjoy it, and that was the best birthday present to myself I've ever had."

Ezra smiled and nodded.  "Then perhaps I'll call on her services."  Brad dialed and handed him the phone, walking off to give him some privacy.  She answered.  "I am here at Out," he said quietly.  She said she'd be over in ten minutes.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "She didn't even ask."

"She will once she gets here."  He handed him a key, taking the credit card to run for the room's fee for the night.  "That's the last door on the right as you turn left."  He pointed where it would be.  "It's got a queen sized bed, clean sheets.  Each room has their own bathroom.  The phone on the table leads down here if you need anything or dial 9 to get an outside line."  Ezra nodded, getting a third drink to take up with him.  When Manuella got there he simply gave her the room number. 

She smiled and took her case up there with her.  She knocked and the tired looking man let her in.  "I'm Manuella," she said quietly, shaking his hand.  "Bad day?"

"Indeed.  And a most charming time in the ER getting my arm stitched up as well," he sighed.

She smiled and pulled something out from under the bed, popping the table up.  "I charge two hundred for a full body massage.  If you want extra beyond that it's more of course."  He nodded, staring at her.  "If you wanted me to help you finish relaxing after I've done the rest of you to limpness and you want it orally it's an extra hundred, two for anything penetrative, on either side."  He nodded, smiling at her.  "I'm always up front about that so no one gets any ideas."  She helped him out of his shirt, wincing at the bandage.  "Through and through?"  He nodded.  "Then I'll be real gentle when I'm doing your shoulder and forearm but I won't touch your bicep so I can't hurt it accidentally."  She helped him strip down to his boxers.  "Up to you if you want to keep them on.  Some guys are modest, some aren't."  She got a clean towel out of the bathroom and came back to find him lying naked on the table on his stomach, arms under his head.  "That's fine."  She put the towel over his butt and pulled out the oils she carried.  "Which one do you like?"

He sniffed and pointed.  "That one smells very nice against my aftershave and soap."

She smiled.  "It's always better to get them complimentary instead of fighting against each other."  She saw the flash of the phone alert.  "Your phone?"

"I do not care," he admitted.  "Not for a few hours."

"Okay."  She warmed some oil up and checked the rest of him for injuries.  "Want me to cover this graze on your calf?"

"It's a few days old.  It shouldn't be a problem."

"That's fine.  I'll be very gentle around it."  She got the oil out and started with his neck, slowly working her way down.   He did finally relax and it was good.  She started over and went back over everything. Then down onto his legs.  She was careful of the graze but otherwise his legs were limp by the time she got done with him.  She moved onto his arms, making him sigh in pleasure as she ended the cramps in his injured one.  She carefully moved around the bandage, making sure nothing tense remained around it.  She even did a wonderful scalp massage that had him moaning in pleasure.  She smiled at him.  "Want me to do your hind end or front?  I don't touch those unless gentlemen ask because I know how some are."

"That is not a foible I've ever had," he said, sounding sleepy.  She smiled and worked those muscles too.  She could tell he was hard.  He had a nice length to him.  She finished up with a foot massage, making him moan and tense and shift a few times.  She grinned.  "I have nearly a thousand dollars at my disposal," he said quietly.

She leaned on his back.  "That is up to you, but I do not do anything freaky like."

He grinned back at her.  "Nor do I usually."

She smiled and went back to his butt, putting on some gloves.  "Did you need me to finish your relaxation with an oral massage or some interior ones?"

He moaned and shifted.  "Some interior ones please."

"Yours or mine?" she asked.  He stared at her.  "Some men can only fully relax when their prostates are worked a bit.  Some only when they've worn out someone else.  I can easily finger you or use a toy."  She pointed at her case.  "You wouldn't be the first ever."  She teased his hole, sensing that he was one that needed that final relaxation.  He spread out for her, giving her the answer she needed.  She carefully found the lube bottle and spread some on her fingers, using it to open him gently.  "Ever done this before?"

"I've had a few girlfriends who tempted me that way during oral massages."

"I don't have the nails to harm you.  They're long enough to scratch but not long enough to scratch there unless I'm really trying."  She smiled and added another finger, making him moan when she hit his prostate.  That and a bit of teasing and fingertip stroking of his cock and he got off, finishing his relaxing.  He paid her and she helped him into bed, tucking him in and kissing him on the forehead.  "You sleep.  You need to sleep to heal."  She gathered up her things quietly, put the table back down and under the bed, then left him to rest.

Ezra smiled, enjoying the softness of the sheets, the sandalwood scent on them, and his relaxed state.  It was a great thing.  Even if his phone was flashing again.  He threw a pillow to knock the flasher unit onto the floor, then let himself drift off.


Xander tapped on the door the next morning, smiling and holding up a plate.  "I made extra toast and bacon if you'd like some."

"Thank you."  He took a piece of bacon to nibble on.  "How are you doing?"

"I've been hiding a lot since I saw an NID weenie while I was grocery shopping.  How about you?"

"It was a horrendous and painful set of busts."

Xander hugged him briefly.  "I'm sorry the bad guys were so mean to you, Agent Standish."  He grinned.  "If the others need a night here, tell me and I'll cut an invitation.  I sent one to Larabee and never heard back and I sent one to Tanner and he came in once."

"I shall if they need it."  He smiled.  "It is an ingenious and useful idea we all could use."

"Everyone needs somewhere safe that they can finally relax and pull down all their shields and masks."  He shrugged one-sidedly.  "Brad said your phone has been trying to ring non-stop for the last hour."

"I'll go right to the office to nag them."  He took another piece of bacon, got the phone light and left for his day.

Xander changed the room and sprayed the bed down.  Then he went down to hang out with Brad.  No one was here this time of day.  Brad was doing a few background checks he could almost help with so it was nicely peaceful for him.  He paused at one name.  "No way in fucking hell."

Brad looked.  "He's an FBI agent locally."

"He's one that came after me to kill me for my blood.  I wonder how they missed him in the purge."

"Seriously?"  Xander nodded.  "Why do they want your blood?  I know it's classified."

"Um....  Let's just say that I managed to not get fully sick but yet sick enough at one time."

Brad stared then shuddered.  "Crap, I heard there had been a guy the FBI sold out.  You're him?"  Xander nodded.  "Shit, dude."

"Yup.  And then the NID wanted some too for a whole different reason."  He grinned.

"Yeah, I don't think we'll let him.  I'll call an old buddy from when I was an agent to talk about him."  He got up to do that from the bar.  He came back.  "He had connections and he turned evidence."

"So they let him keep his badge?"

"He's now a civilian consultant and working with an ATF team."

"Hell no.  Tell Larabee?"

"Gladly."  He got the guy's file and background check done and then decided he needed lunch out.

Xander finished their morning's work and opened the club.  A few guys came in for lunch.

"Hey, a new guy," one of the agents cheered.  "I'm owed a few free drinks."

"No one told me that."  He stared at him.  "When did that happen?"

"Think you're so hot?" he sneered.  "I bet I can kick your ass."

"I doubt it and if you did the owner would probably wipe the floor with you."

"Why?  You his boyfriend?" he sneered.

"No, I'm the owner."  He grinned.

"Oh, sorry.  Just, you know...."

"Yes, I understand the alpha dickhead principle very well," Xander shot back, giving him a look.  "Don't try it with my staff.  I will wipe the floor with you.  Possibly even with a sword."

The agent shuddered.  "That's just freaky."

"But they're very handy sometimes.  So, what's up, guys?  Need a drink?"

"Lite beer us please," one of the others asked.

"Sure.  Miller, Bud, Coors, or one of the yuppie local beers?"

"Coors."  They got their beers and paid for it.  Xander made them sandwiches, Brad had him put in a small kitchen in the back area.  They settled around a table to eat, relax, and tease the guy that had tried to alpha dog Xander.


Brad saw the dirty look from Ezra and sat down across from him.  "We had a person get referred that you need to tell someone about," he said quietly.

"Is he underground perhaps?"

"He was one of the guys that got the boss attacked," he mouthed, glancing around.  Ezra stiffened.  "If it wasn't important."

"I know."  He accepted the folder to look through and growled.  "That just made my week since he was the cause of the predicament I was in last night."  Chris sat down and grunted at Brad, taking the folder.  "I believe there's a problem."

"I believe there's an issue too," Chris said.  "Thank you.   And thank the kid."

"Not a problem, guys."  He got up and left.

Chris stared at the contents.  "I don't want him here."

"I think we'd all be safer without his presence."  He ate another bite of his sandwich.

"You better?"

"Much."  He smiled.

Chris stared at him.  "What did you do last night?  Or shouldn't I ask?"

"I got a delightful whole body massage from an excellent young woman who came highly recommended.  She babied both my injuries and even did a rousing scalp and foot massage."

Chris grunted.  "That's nice of her.  Think she could do Buck's and make him relax?"

"There are those that offer the sort of service he could use but I doubt he'd ever go to them," Ezra said blandly then ate another bite.

Chris smirked. "Maybe not."  He stayed with Ezra until he was finished then they went back to the office together.  Chris took the folder upstairs to their boss.  "Travers, got a few?"

"Only if you save me from the paperwork you had to fill out due to that bust."

"It has to do with that bust," he admitted, finding Ezra's and Vin's reports in the pile and handing them over.  Assistant Director Travers read them and grimaced.  Chris handed him the folder and the grimace got worse.  "We also know about the incident that got him fired."

"I haven't heard a thing about that."

"Yes you have but it's been almost a year."  Chris stared at him.

"A private request from the FBI," he realized.  Chris nodded.  "Who did the background check?"

"A very private club that has a no-violence, no underground members, absolute safety clause."

"Absolute safety?"

"Cellphones only work in one corner of the bar.  Nothing else will work, no form of surveillance."

"You know of this club how?"

"I got invited.  So did Ezra.  It's really nice and calm.  A few other agents here got referred."

"Are we talking like one of the old Gentleman's clubs?"  Chris got onto the site and used his membership ID number.  He let him see it.  Travers read and nodded once then shut down his browser completely.  "That's good to know we have one."

"It's real quiet.  They even stocked some really old scotch for Ez."

"It sounds nice.  I'm assuming that's why he's finally relaxed today?"  Chris nodded.  "Do we trust their background checks?"

"The guy who runs the bar now is a former agent.  We can redo it."

"I'm going to have someone neutral redo it, in case it relates back somehow since he apparently gave you the information that got two of your agents injured."

"That'd be fine.  If so, can we kick his ass off the roof?"

"I might let you," he admitted with a smirk.  "How do you get entry?"

"Referral to the guy who owns it or the bartender."

"How did you get referred?"

"It's connected."

"Oh, I see."  He grinned.  Chris smirked back.  "So it's nice?"

"Really nice.  Very calm.  Has a lot of books on one wall you can read.  They have a few ebook readers you can bum for a few hours too with more on them.  Some music, a nice tv that they never let show the news.  Rooms upstairs so you can sleep securely for a bit."

"Even better.  Think we could use it for extreme circumstances?"

"Probably not unless it was something major.  He wanted nothing to endanger the club."

"I can understand that.  What, overall, topic did the FBI ask you to help them with?"

Chris called downstairs.  "AD Travers wants that file," he said then hung up.  In a minute JD walked up with it.  "That jackass was one of the ones that turned on him," Chris said quietly.

"He was down nagging Ez that if he had followed orders he wouldn't have gotten shot.  Josiah threw him out and into the elevator.  Josiah said he apologized for the dent he caused."

"Good," Travers said.  "Have him banned from the building for the day." JD smiled and went to tell the secretary that.  He read over the very short file, shuddering.  "How bad?"

"Very bad.  They actually found out he had international cooperation to get out of Africa from the Egyptian government."

"Fuck," Travers muttered.

Chris nodded.  "Then some of them turned on him and shot their own people.  I do not want him near mine."

Travers shredded that file.  "Me either.  Make the ban permanent and I'll call over there to chew someone a new one."  Chris nodded, leaving to do that.  Travers did call his counterpart to talk to him, he even tried to be polite about it.  When the other guy sneered that Team 7 was known for being cowboys who couldn't work with others, he suggested he look in the guy's profile.  When he did, Travers got to smirk at the outpouring of filthy language.  "He is banned from my building before I let people hunt him down," he said bluntly then hung up.  He sent out a mass memo to all his teams about that idiot and that he was clearly a problem they might have to handle.  Even the teams that could and did work with the FBI office locally decided he was to be arrested on sight.


Six months later, John Sheppard was back on earth after another six months on Atlantis, and a hellish six months it was.  Atlantis was back on earth.  They had lost a lot of people on the city.  They needed to go back.  John was so tense that he was going to snap and break someone.  Their IOA overseer wasn't letting anyone off the base but Sheppard emailed O'Neill and got permission.  Which Woolsey tried to deny.  "You're not a general," Sheppard said finally.  "He said I can go off for the night before I bash someone's skull in."  Woolsey stepped back.  "Good.  You have a good night."  He walked off.  His second-in-command stared at him.  "I'm going to refer a few people to somewhere safe," he said in his ear.  "Totally safe."

"I could like that," he agreed.  "Please do, sir."

"I'll let you know tomorrow."  He went to change clothes.  His uniform was starting to drive him nuts.  He loved it, he adored being in the SGC and in control of the city, but right now he needed to not be a soldier.  He got beamed to Colorado Springs and saluted the general.  "Sir."

Landry looked at him.  "O'Neill told me you needed to go off base.  Is it a problem, Colonel?"

"I'm going to kill Woolsey.  I'm going to be brutal about it and then I'm going to feed him to the sharks in the San Francisco Bay, sir."

"I know he rubs people the wrong way, Colonel."

"He's already denied everyone's leave and we're all in a battle tense state, sir.  My people need time off the base to calm down and get back into a normal soldier frame of mind.  We also need some repairs that he's saying aren't necessary."

"Oh, crap," Landry muttered.  "I can't have him removed."

"He can go on vacation," John offered.  "It might do him some good.  It will do my men some good and the science teams some good, sir."

"I'll talk with him.  Make sure he knows that your people do have leave time accumulated from all your time there, Colonel.  Where are you heading tonight?"

"Denver.  Somewhere I can calm down."

"Granted.  Be back by late check-in."

"They have rooms I can rent for the night, general."

"Then be back by noon and well rested."

John nodded and saluted, striding out and off the base.  There was a rental car place not far from there and they came to pick him up when he called from the front gate.  By the time he got to Denver he was almost starting to relax.  He showed his membership card and got let into the club.  Brad looked at him and he shrugged.  "Beer me please?"

"Sure, want stronger or weaker tonight, Colonel?"


"Rooms upstairs are a hundred a night," he said, handing over the binder.  "You look like you've had a shit year."

"I have.  The last six months especially."  He looked.  Then he flipped the page to the gay side. He calmed himself mentally.  He did not want to hurt anyone tonight.  Xander sat next to him and he looked at him.  "It's been a bad six months."

"Someone told me," he said quietly.  He patted him on the hand.  "I'm sorry your city had them there waiting on you and that you lost so many, John."

John sipped his beer.  "How did you find out?"

"There are those that consider what you do and where you live mythical.  And then they warned me that you were back in case someone among them wanted to try me.  Between that and the head-ripping vision of the explosion in two weeks time, I did some checking."

John shut the book.  "Two weeks?"





"Yup."  He grinned.  "Very.  I have a letter I was going to mail you in the morning.  I only had the vision earlier and I've been checking all day."

"I could like that."

"Calm down first, get it from me in the morning," Xander said.  He patted his hand again.  "For now, you're safe.  If they come here, I'm beheading them."

"You can do that?"

"Yeah.  I learned how to do that at sixteen."  John slumped and shook his head.  Xander patted him again.  "Rest for now, call out later."

"What if I wanted something more....normal?"

Xander grinned.  "I'd offer but I've never even had the thought, John.  Though you're adorable and I can see having those thoughts."  John grinned back.  "For tonight, rest, call out later.  Then we'll talk tomorrow."  He winked and left him to think and relax.  Dawn had probably emailed him back by now.  She'd have more information for them from the Council's sources.  She had a full file and then some on the city.  John would be happy with that.

John looked at the bartender.  "Visions?"

"Yeah, I saw him fall down with it earlier.  They totally suck at his brain sometimes.  He said he got them when his eye got popped."  He got John another beer.  "Want a room?"

"Please."  He paid for it.

Brad smiled.  "There's a duplicate call out sheet in the bedside table drawer.  Call me if you need any help.  Dial 9 for an outside line."

"Thank you."  John took that beer and another one upstairs.  His city was safe but they were all tense and he was tense because of it.  Here, he was safe.  There was no one attacking.  There were no other soldiers that needed relief.  He did go back down there and wrote out a list of names.  "My guys?"

"I'll clear them tonight if I can.  We're a bit slow."  John grinned and went back up there.  He settled in to do background checks.  Most of them were able to be cleared and a few he passed onto a place out there.  He had went looking and found a similar, if less stringent, place by where they were serving.


Xander walked over to answer his door, letting John in.  "I'm downloading the last of the stuff Dawn sent me from the Council."

"Thank you."  He stole a kiss and Xander moaned.  "Not even a thought?"

"I haven't had many thoughts since before I went to Africa."  He gave him a sad grin.  "I lost my last fiancee during a battle."  He made sure the door was locked and led John to the living room area.  "Here.  Let me put more paper in the printer."  He did that.

"What's all that?"

"Dawn is part of the Council."

"I've seen something on them.  Someone brought it home from a leave."

"She's a research nerd to put it nicely.  She looked up your pretty city and this is what she found.  You may have some of it, not totally sure."

"If not, my head scientist will kiss you."

"I'm not sure if I could do a three-way," Xander quipped, cracking John up.  "Never even tried with girls."  He shrugged.  "Not that I got so many girls.  I was too much of a dweeb."  He finished the printing and gathered it together, sticking it in the same envelope.  "There."

John put it aside and took another kiss.  "You understand."

"Yeah, I do."  He kissed him back, letting John lead the way this time.  Xander might be easy but he was still a virgin to guys.  John clearly wasn't.  Xander found himself on his back on the couch and pulled back, letting John move to his neck.  "Are we going to stay on the couch?"

"For now."  He nipped him.

"Not a vampire, right?"

John looked at him.  "You know they don't exist, right?"  Xander took off his shirt with a sigh and John saw a few two-hole bite marks.  "They exist?"

"Yeah.  I hunted a lot of them in my day to save others."  He stared at John.  "That's what I started doing at sixteen," he said quietly.  "And had an apocalypse battle later that same year."  John shuddered.  "We all do what we have to do to save the world.  Some of us shoot at space vampires.  Some of us stake real ones.  Some guys go into the regular military and do regular military things."

"Yeah, they do.  I did.  Well, I wanted to fly."

Xander grinned.  "You need wings."

"I'm not sure I could handle wings."  He shook his head and went back to making himself happy.  Xander was good at his limited level but he was willing to try things and let John do whatever he needed.  When John got ready to move them, Xander eagerly followed.  Xander didn't mind a bit of alpha posturing or even a bit of wrestling.  Nothing too harsh but enough to relieve tension and stress.  Xander even let him tie him to the headboard as long as he could get them free if he needed to.  Which John understood all too well.  The sex was great.  It was hot, it was freeing and relaxing and calming all at once.  When they were done, Xander curled around him, which was what he needed.  Hiring someone wouldn't get him cuddled or held if he had nightmares.


John walked back onto his base the next day with the envelope Xander had made sure he had.  "McKay."  He came out of the office.  John waved it.  "Info on the city from a local source."

"How did they get it?" Woolsey demanded.

"I talked to someone who had a contact with that Council place.  They had that in their files.  Also, read the enclosed statement.  It came from one of their sources."  John had read it and yeah, he was going to stop that.  "Major, I was told this morning to have you check your email."  He nodded, moving to do that.

"Some things we knew but a nicer schematic than we first had and what is this system?" McKay muttered, looking it over.

John looked and pointed.  "It's a backup weapons one that is on."  McKay snorted and went to go look.  They hadn't really explored that part of the city.

Major Lorne smiled at both emails in his system.  "Sir, General Landry sent orders as well."  He printed them and handed them over.

"Nice of him."  They shared a look and John quirked up an eyebrow, getting a grin back.  "Some of those are also for Denver," he said quietly.  "They thought a closer one would be nicer."

"It's very appreciated."

"Good."  He read the orders and held them up so Woolsey could read them.

"Unacceptable.  There's no leave time allowed.  We can't let anyone find the city."

"The general is over the soldiers," John said bluntly.

"The IOA is over the SGC," he shot back.

"Woosley, we're going to kill you," John said bluntly.  "Before I left last night, I was ready to behead you."  Woolsey stepped back.  "I and my men are allowed leave time.  The military says we are.  The IOA cannot keep us from taking the leave time we're entitled to.  Nor can the SCG.  The science team members have the same rights we do since they are employed by the military.  The IOA may be our oversight body but we are employed by the military.  Unless you want me to walk out this door and spill every single little thing to the closest news station I can find, back the fuck down."  Woolsey backed up some more. 

John smirked evilly.  "My men need leave time to calm down and grieve.  That is a human need.  If you don't have that need, then I know where the Council currently is and I'm sure you'll love Cleveland with the rest of the demonic population of earth."  He walked off.  "Major, get me a list.  No more than a fifth off base at any given time."

"Yes, sir."  He got to work on that.

"I said there's no leave time," Woolsey said, taking his tablet computer from the major.  "I am over this city."

McKay casually shot him in the leg, handing the computer back to the major.  "We'll see."  Woolsey stared at him while crying in pain.  McKay made a few calls, including to the general to admit he had just shot him.  By the time he was done there were two generals, a president, a prime minister, and three other beings there to yell at him.  McKay sneered at them.  "Like the others that have just spent the best and worst years of their lives fighting for all of our lives, we do get leave time, correct?" he asked O'Neill.

"Yes.  Hank made sure you got leave time coming, McKay.  I think you're going today actually."

"I was going to chop him into pieces and feed him to the sharks," John said, coming out of his office.  "I have no idea why Woolsey is so frantic that we not have leave, sir, but I don't care.  We're all at the point of snapped and stretched too far."

"You need tonight off too," O'Neill told him.

"I had last night off."  John smiled.  "It was a very good night off.  I even talked to someone who found out about our city due to Council things.  They sent Rodney the information they had in their library."

"Good!" O'Neill decided.  "I've talked to a few of them and they seem like nice flakes who deal with shit I don't want to know about."

The president looked at him.  "Ditto."  He looked at the colonel.  "Did you have to shoot him?"  John pointed at McKay.  "Oh."

"Yes, I did.  Because he was frantic that none of us get off base for *some* reason."

"I promised if my men got hurt, I'd go on the news, treason or not," John said, leaning against a wall.  "The health of my men and my science people has to come before politics or whatever is wrong him," he told O'Neill.

"It does," he agreed.  "I fully agree with that.  Though I didn't want him shot in the leg.  Now he'll have to limp around the main base for a while."

"San Francisco has a great many hospitals," McKay said with a smile.  "I'm sure he can visit one as our doctors had to be sedated last night so they got sleep for the first time in a week."

The Prime Minister of Canada winced.  "That's bad."  He looked at the president beside him.

"We approved leave time when they landed," General Landry said.  "Until yesterday I had no idea it had been denied.  Then I talked to Colonel Sheppard.  I sent over a memo giving everyone on the city two weeks leave, staggered so she wasn't left abandoned."  Major Lorne handed that over.

"Woolsey threw a fit and denied it again.  He tried to deny me leaving last night," Sheppard said.

"The IOA has overstepped themselves," the President decided.  "All of your people are to take a staggered two week leave, be evaluated for battle burn out and all that good stuff, and then we'll figure things out, Colonel."

"Thank you, sir.  I had plans of a fifth of us off base at a time."

"Go ahead and send half," O'Neill said.  "We'll send you replacement geeks and soldiers to guard your city, Sheppard."  John smiled and nodded.  "Send McKay in the first batch?"

"Sure."  He touched his comm.  "By order of the President, Prime Minster of Canada, and both generals, all people with names A through N are to go on leave today for two weeks.  When you get back you are to be evaluated for battle stress and other issues.  We are getting replacements.  In two weeks, the rest of you go."  He hung up but they could hear the cheering going on.  He smiled.  "My people are very happy, General.  Thank you."

"Welcome, Sheppard.  I'd rather not have anyone that stressed.  If someone is that stressed and can't wait, tell me."

"Only two," Major Lorne said.  "Two of the nurses, sir."

"Send 'em.  I'll have Lam come take over for a few weeks while your people are gone."  He called that in.  He hung up and looked at them.  "Anything else that needs to be covered today?"

"Are we leaving Pegasus to the wraith?  There's not many people left there but they'll eventually wander," McKay said, glancing at John then at him.  "Most of us would go back to finish the battles."

"Don't know yet," O'Neill said.  "There's been a bunch of bitching and moaning about that topic, Doctor McKay.  When I know you will."  They smiled at him.  "For now, go home.  Visit your niece and nephew.  All that.  Find a new cat for all I care.  Just get off the city."

"Gladly.  I'll see you in two weeks, Sheppard and Major Lorne."  He strolled off.

The president's guards sent Woolsey to a classified military hospital.  People got beamed back to the main base so they could leave from Colorado Springs.  A few decided to fly back to San Francisco when Major Lorne informed them of the safe club they had been invited to.  General Landry gave him an odd look but O'Neill was pleased with that decision.  So it went and they'd all calm down.

As it happened right before something that the Council had to handle happened as well.


Xander walked into the bar and flipped the tv on and to the news.  Though the battle was being covered everywhere.  It was on the East coast this time, in Miami, so he couldn't get there.  But he had to know if his girls fell.

Brad gave him a stroke down the arm to get his attention.  "You don't have anything you can send them."

"Some are friends," he said quietly.

"I know."  They watched it, and the few agents in the bar walked outside to call that in.

One of the military guys was staring in horror and trying to get his phone to work.  Xander pointed outside and they ran out to call.  They got beamed off with the rest of the Atlantis and SCG staff they could find quickly.

Xander stared.  "That's John," he said quietly.  He relaxed.  John was a warrior, he understood.  Xander found his phone and got John's number from his file, sending him a message about how to kill them.  On the screen, John's phone rang and he shouted out the orders.  The other military guys dove in better and helped back up the slayers.  More demons were still coming and the science people they had with them figured out how to stop them and destroy the cloning going on.  Parts of Miami were going to be a total wreck by the time they were done but the demons wouldn't win this time either.  Xander relaxed and took his drink from his buddy.  "Thank you," he said.

"Welcome, Xander.  I hope we never have that here."

Xander slugged his drink back and nodded.  "If so I'd have to help."

"Wear a ski mask or something," Brad joked.  Xander grinned and nodded.  They both had a drink of the good stuff and Brad got help stocking for the people that would come in tonight to clear their mind from what had happened.


Ezra stomped in that night, looking around then heading down to the apartment.  He knocked.  Xander opened the door and stared at him.  "At least you didn't go."

"If it was local, I would've found a way," he admitted.

Ezra smiled.  "Are you all right?"

"None of my girls fell.  A few got injured but they're good."

"Good.  We were worried."

"I'm okay.  You can tell Larabee that I'm okay."

"You could come tell him yourself."

Xander shrugged.  "I'm thinking."

Ezra pulled him upstairs and made him sit with him and Chris.  Brad got Xander some water and they all calmed down.

John and a few others walked in together.  John looked at Xander.  "You don't answer texts back?"

"It was his phone."

"That's fine then."  John sat down.  "Hi, Colonel John Sheppard."

"Chris Larabee and Ezra Standish," Chris introduced.  "ATF."

John nodded.  "That's a hard job."  He looked at Xander.  "McKay said thank you."

"It's not a problem."  John smiled.  "Go play some music before your majors take over the jukebox?"

John looked back.  "Don't you dare play anything too dorky, boys."  They nodded and turned on something more quiet and soothing.  Then they got drinks, took over a table in the back, and started a card game.  Ezra went to play with them.

John looked at Xander.  "Are you okay?"

"None of my girls fell.  Thank you and your guys for making sure of that."

John grinned.  "Thank you for telling us how to kill them or we'd still be there."

"I'm sure we'd all be happy if that never happens here," Chris said.

"As far as I've heard there aren't any planned," Xander offered.

Chris smiled.  "Good.  Let me get a beer."  He left those two.  It was nice to see that Xander was making good contacts, even if they were a bit tense from the battle earlier.

Xander blushed, grinning at John.  "Was your week better?"

"After McKay shot Woolsey in the leg, yeah.  Even if I did have to see the President, a prime minister, and a few others."  Xander grinned more brightly.  "I think we were all told to find somewhere nice for tonight."

"We have twelve rooms," Xander said.

"We may take all of them."

Xander smiled.  "I might let you have the couch if you want."

John grinned.  "I might take you up on that."  He took a sip of his beer.  "What's on the top floor?"

"Storage right now.  I was thinking about a real club but there's not enough people here and it'd shatter the peace and quiet."  John nodded.  "So for right now it's some of my stuff that I can't fit in my closets and a few other things like extra sheets."

"That's cool."  He checked on his guys.  "Guys, there are rooms upstairs.  They rent for a hundred a night," he told them.  They nodded.  "Be respectful."

"Yes, Colonel."  They got back to their card game, hoping to win some of their money back.  But Ezra was a nice card shark and keeping everyone happy and calm with insane stories about being in the ATF.

John looked at Xander.  "Want to go look out the windows?" he suggested.

"Sure," Xander agreed, taking him with him.  Xander noticed he was looking around.  "I keep it modest," he said, closing his door to his armory.

John nodded.  "It looked modest.  One of the girls earlier wished you would show up with artillery."

"I haven't had real artillery since just after I got here to Denver.  That's how I met Chris and Ezra."

"That's a good thing.  I'd hate to see you in prison for having artillery."

Xander grinned.  "Not unless I need it."  He moved closer.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm ...  It was different fighting real demons."

Xander nodded, giving him a hug.  "I understand.  It was different when I was fighting the raiders I ran into in Africa."

John smiled and cuddled him.  "Sore?"

"Little bit."

"We can work on that."  He took a kiss and Xander let him handle things again.  Xander was moaning before long so it was good.  Very relaxing and enjoyable.  When they were done, John decided to ask a pretty simple question.  "Is there something you like to do?"

Xander looked at him.  "I've had two girlfriends, four cheap, fast things, one night I can't remember, and now you.  I'm still figuring that out."

"Really?"  He petted Xander.  "By the time I was twenty I had that many."

"I was a bit busy, and a geek," Xander said.  "I was in no way the handsome, sporty sort."

"I can understand that.  Though I have a math degree."

"Yeah but you don't look like it.  I did even though I hate math."

John smirked.  "You hate math?"

"It does not make any sense to me."

"I can see how that happens.  Especially if you don't have good teachers that make it interesting."

"No, mine didn't in any manner.  Then again, not the greatest school in the world either."

"That happens at times."  He took a kiss.  "So you have no idea what you like kink wise or anything like that?"

"I didn't really like the guy that kidnaped me and tied me up while he masturbated."

"Okay, I won't do that."  John smiled.  "Really?"


"The same guy?"

"Yes, and the second time he pouted that I had winged his arm and shot his bodyguards getting away."  John shuddered.  "Let's change the subject.  I've noticed you have a slight thing for ropes?"

"Sometimes," John admitted.  "Does that bother you?"

"No, not really.  As long as I have a way out."

"That's always a good idea."   He took another kiss and ran a hand over Xander's chest.  He was ignoring all the scars.  Xander ignored his.  Though Xander did have a thing about sucking on things because he distracted John's teasing by sucking on his shoulder.  That was very nice. John could appreciate that.  As long as he didn't have a hickey.  He bit gently on Xander's stomach then moved to tease him.  Xander shifted and winced.  "Sore?"

"Yup.  Sorry."

"We can handle things."

"I have a hot tub," he offered with a shy grin.  "Or a really deep tub."

"Hot tub sounds nice."  They got up and went to shower together while the hot tub warmed up, then sank into it.  It was very nice.  They were about to fall asleep in it when John got them out and back to bed.  The sleepiness carried over so John got cuddled by Xander all night.  It was nice not to have nightmares.


John and his guys reappeared on base the next day, John yawning.  "Get kept up?" O'Neill joked with a smirk.

"No, sir.  No music in the car and I didn't drive."

"I don't want to see if you drive like you fly," Lorne joked.

"Probably not," John quipped back.  He looked at O'Neill.  "We did get thanked and we talked to the people we helped.  They said thank you as well, General."

"So did I and it was nice.  Though we don't expect it to happen again anytime soon.  Thankfully."

"How many times has that happened?" General Landry asked from where he was sitting.

"They have one about every spring but there's been three that have gotten public notice," John said.  "I asked, sir."

"I remember two," O'Neill said.

"The group was in that town that fell in."

"Oh!  Them.  Okay."  He nodded.  "Glad I wasn't there for that one too."  He looked around.  "Beyond that, those of you on leave, go back to it.  Those of you due on the city, we'll be beaming you in about twenty minutes.  Go get a candy bar to bring with you."  They broke up to do that.  Jack watched John Sheppard.  Things were looking very interesting with him knowing that Xander guy.  Two of the guys were begging Sheppard for five bucks.  "Didn't we pay you?" Jack joked, following them out of the office.

"Yes, sir.  Played poker with a shark that's pretending to be an ATF agent," one said.

Jack laughed.  "Sounds like fun.  How did you fare, Sheppard?"

"I watched some tv instead, sir.  I was a bit sore and the owner offered me the use of his hot tub."

"That's cool.  I could've used a hot tub myself."  He gave him a pointed look.  John just grinned.  They met up with Ronon on the trek to the on-base store.  "Morning, Ronon."

"General."  He looked at John.  "There are people I got warned about here," he said quietly.

"Oh, hell no!  Not today!" Jack O'Neill complained, heading up there.  "Sheppard, beam back.  Now."

"No, don't," Landry said, catching up to them.  "The IOA brought NID there.  Teyla's hiding with her son and we've beamed them somewhere.  Sheppard, take him and hide somewhere we can't find you.  Take the emergency stairs."  They nodded and headed for it.  Jack was already calling the President.

Jack hung up.  "Arrest them," he told the MP's standing around guarding them.  They got arrested.  One tried to fight but he got knocked down.  "The President will be here in a minute."

"We have congressional approval," one sneered.

"Watch me kick your head in," Jack offered.  The President appeared in the customary twinkle of lights from being beamed.  "Sir."  He saluted.  So did the others that could.  "These misbegotten slime sperm creatures think that congress can tell me to turn over my people?"

The President nodded.  "I wouldn't have given them that much evolutionary credit, General.  No, they don't.  The Supreme Court has already told them that."  He stared down at them.  "And the IOA has been disbanded."  One yelled.  He sneered back.  "No one needs you anymore."  He looked at O'Neill.  "Ronon and Teyla?"

"Being protected somewhere I'm not aware of."

"Good!"  He nodded.  "Have them stay there at least for today."

"I can see if they can do that."  He texted someone.  He got back a 'got it' from McKay, who had Teyla apparently.  Sheppard didn't answer but that was all right.  He was probably going back to the absolutely safe spot.


Rodney looked at his protectees.  One of his many contacts at Area 51 had warned him so he had come back to help his friends.  "We're going to go somewhere very protected," he said quietly.  He checked them for beaming or homing targets, not finding any.  There were two options he had and he called in some help to get them somewhere more protected.  One of the Atlantis soldiers called into the club they had been invited to the night before and they agreed to house them.  They didn't have full protections against beaming but it'd have to do.  Rodney thanked the owner, paid for a hidden room for them, and got them there so they could rest.  He only hoped that John had somewhere this good.


John walked up to the door, flashing his card.  "Sir, no visitors."

"It's an emergency, get Xander for me please?" he asked.

The guard opened the door.  "Brad?"  He came over.  "He said it's an emergency?"

"NID showed up for him," John said.

"Get in here.  Check for anything that might be on you guys."  They did once they got inside and he got them upstairs to a room.  He went to talk to Xander, who went to talk to John.

"NID?" Xander asked when John opened the door.

"Yeah.  This is Ronon."

Xander smiled and nodded.  "Hi, I'm Xander."

"Thank you for giving us some protection."

"There's no way they can get you from here without a full out assault," Xander said.  "No magic, no beaming, no teleporting, no listening devices."  Ronon gaped.  "Because they want me too."  He looked at John.  "Want to borrow my kitchen?"

"If I can.  And maybe something from the armory?"

"As long as you replace it or give it back."  John smiled and took Ronon down there to get something to eat.  Xander went up to the bar.  "Brad, there's every chance someone will try something," he said quietly.

"I'll warn you, Xander."  Xander nodded and left.  He called Larabee.  "Warn us if you guys get told to come bust us please?  NID is hunting one of the other members," he said quietly.  "No, Xander's back in emergency mode.  I wouldn't doubt it.  Thanks."  He hung up and called someone else in the local PD to ask for that same favor.  Someone was trying but he got John Sheppard in on it and he told them that it had been rescinded, gave them O'Neill's phone number to check on that.  They got put on with the president himself, who said they had to arrest the people that were trying.  Brad hung up after hearing that and went to tell Xander that news.  It was better.  Still paranoid but better.


Xander looked up from his bookkeeping duties when the door was pounded on later that afternoon.  He got up and went to answer it.  "Yes?" he asked the people standing there.

"Sir, does this bar have licenses?" the man there said.

"Yes, I do.  Brad, pull the license file please?"  It was handed over.  Xander handed that over.  "Our current ones.  They don't run out for a few months."

The man sneered.  "I'm going to investigate this place."

"First, you haven't shown me any ID of who the fuck you are.  Second, unless you're with the liquor board or the health department you have no right to do anything like that.  Third, I already know who you are."  The man flinched.  "And if you don't get out of my face I'm going to kill you like I killed your brother."  He took the file back and handed it back over his shoulder.  "Anything else?"  The man pulled a gun.  Xander already had a knife at the guy's throat, making him swallow.  "Was I not clear?" he asked quietly and calmly.  "I thought I was clear."

The guard coughed.  "I can have him arrested, sir."

"That would bring Feds here."

"I'll call Tom," Brad said, calling the number in his file.  "It's Brad, the bartender at Out.  The owner just had to pull a knife on someone who threatened him.  No, the owner said it'd take a Fed.  Xander, why?"

"His brother got killed in Africa for trying to capture me and my slayer for his drug trade."

"The owner said he's a drug dealer that almost captured him in Africa.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "He'll be here in about ten minutes, Xander.  Want some rope or something?"

"No."  The man tried to move and Xander moved to beat his ass.  He got wounded slightly when the gun went off into his side but the graze was worth it for the stress relief the guy gave him.

Cars pulled up and someone got out.  "Xander, can we have him?" he asked politely.

"Sure."  He got off him.  "I should still kill him like I did his brother for trying to capture me."

"Xander, bleeding," the guard said quietly.

Xander went to get the first aid kit then came out putting on the bandage.  "I'll clean it up in a few," he told the guard, getting a nod.  Brad brought him a bottle of bleach.  "That'll work too.  Thanks."  He poured it over the blood drops.

"We can get that for you," one of the agents offered.

"No.  Thanks though."  They nodded and let him handle it.  "If you need his file, I'm pretty sure he has a 'do not do more than arrest and deport' sort of file somewhere."

"By his ID, yes he does," the agent that came to the bar said.  He came closer.  "Where did you run into him?"

Xander looked at him.  "Africa.  I was training slayers," he said quietly.  "I do not like that he was able to find me.  Or anyone else from that time in my life."


Xander pulled out his ID and held it up.  The agent looked that up in his handheld device.  The guy saw the tiny file and looked confused.  He looked then smiled.  "Call Standish and ask him," he said quietly.

He walked off doing that.  "Agent Standish, this is Agent McMahanon, FBI.  We're here at Out arresting an African drug dealer and I got referred to you about why he came for the owner."  He listened then waved over his boss, turning it on speaker but turning the speaker down.  "Repeat that please?  Only myself and my boss can hear, Agent Standish."

"We really would like to keep this as quiet as possible.  Tell Xander to calm down about someone finding him.  We'll find out who leaked his location."

"Agent Standish, I should've heard before now," the local supervisor said.

"Look up this file number," he said.  He repeated it.  The boss did that and gasped in horror.  "The *reason* behind that action was someone selling someone."

"I heard.  And he was the one that got sold," the boss muttered.  "Got it.  Thank you for being so discreet about it.  Is there anything else we should know?"

"I'm fine.  I don't even need stitches," Xander called.

"Good!"  He stared at him.  Xander gave him a pointed look.  "We'll find out who sold your location, sir."

"Make sure no other agencies, even the illegal and torturing kind, know please."  He nodded behind himself and they went to arrest the people stomping toward them.  One of them lunged toward Xander and found Xander's gun up his nose.  Xander stared at him.  "I will destroy you all.  Every last one of you," he promised quietly.  "Put me back into battle mode and see what happens."

"You know nothing about fights," the NID person sneered.

"Really?  And yet, I made the battle plans for the Council.  All the way back to graduation."  The man flinched and tried to back up.  The other agents finally got him down.  "Please get the torturing sickos away from my building," he said politely.

"Gladly," the head of the local FBI said.  "What group are they with?"

"NID," Xander said.  "The torturing sicko squad."

"I've heard about them somewhat."  He looked around.  "Are you safe here?"

"I'd better be."  Xander looked at them.  "If not, I'll find a way to be safe."  That got a nod and the FBI took their new prisoners off.  Xander went back inside.  "I'm going to go be paranoid and pet the weapons," he told Brad quietly.

"Got it.  If they try to rush us, I'll warn you and them."  Xander nodded, heading down there.


Jack O'Neill walked up to the door of the club, flashing his ID.  The guard let him in.  He walked in and looked around then at the bartender.  "Closed?"

"No, sir.  Just quite tonight."

"Get me a beer.  Miller."  The bartender handed him one and took the two bucks.  "My colonel and warrior?"

"Upstairs, sir.  Room 4."

"What happened earlier?"

"No idea how it happened."

"NID was on their way up to us and spotted him."  He saw the face peeking around the door.  "They have no idea it was you and they've underwent a controversial memory procedure to get it gone."

"That's nice," Xander agreed.  "Means I don't have to be as paranoid.  Who told the idiot?"

"That I'm not sure about yet.  No one is that I know of."

"Okay.  I'll be a bit paranoid now instead."  He smiled.  "Brad, want to do the grocery shopping this week?"

Brad smirked.  "As long as you work Saturday."

"I can do that."  He grinned back and disappeared.

Jack went up and knocked on the door, getting Ronon.  "NID have no memory of you guys."

"That's nice.  Can we erase the rest of them?" Ronon asked.

"If the president would let me, yes."  He sipped his beer.  "Sheppard, relax."

"I'm trying.  I heard we had a problem earlier?"

"Someone told one of the guys he ran into in Africa he was here.  NID saw him but they have no memory either."

"Who busted his hiding spot?" John asked.

"No idea.  Yet."  John nodded.  "For right now, stay here tonight to make sure all the drama is ended."

Xander walked up and handed Ronon a key.  "So you two don't have to share a bed unless you want to."  He grinned at the general.  "I know who sold it."  He walked off.

"One of us?" he called after him.

"Not quite."

"Crap."  He followed to see what he knew.  Yeah, he knew that name.  "I'm going to stomp them to death," he promised, leaving to do that.  His bodyguard/driver was happy to drive him back to the base.  The president was still there so he got to see him deck the person responsible.  "How much did they pay you to disclose where Harris is?" he asked, staring down at him.

"What?" he demanded, trying to get up.  "I didn't...."

"Bullshit."  He hit him again.  "How much?"

"Harris is a fuck-up and NID deserves him destroying them," he sneered, trying to fight back.  O'Neill wiped the floor with him.  The guy moaned.  "He can destroy them," the soldier whined.  "If they destroy each other, it's better for everyone.  He can't warp the slayers."

"Shut up," Jack ordered.  "You're a disgrace to the uniform."  He walked off.  "Hank, make sure no one that served with him is here.  We don't need that shit on top of aliens."  He paused to get some water and then headed up the hall.

The President looked at him.  "Son, where did you serve that was so horrible?" he asked intolerantly.

"Sunnydale," Landry said, pulling up his file.  "I've heard that name mentioned about the Council people."

"Ah, one of them," the Secret Service guard with the president said.  "Figures."  The president turned to look at him so he hissed in his ear.

The President sneered.  "If there's more of them still in the military, let JAG or someone handle them."

"Most of them are in Homeland."

"Not in my government they're not," the President said.  "To talk like O'Neill, fuck that shit."  The guard winced at that.  The President hardly ever swore.  He called his boss and let the President talk to him about those idiots.  "Landry, where can we find Harris?"

"No clue, sir.  Ask Sheppard?  Or O'Neill?"

"I can do that."  He went to find O'Neill.

Landry looked around.  "Clean up my mess, people.  I don't want them here either."   That one got dragged off and the others started to talk to their fellow soldiers to make sure none of them had been there.  By that night he was missing two scientists and another soldier.  Though that one got cleared since he had been on the clean up squad.


John flinched when the room phone rang, grabbing it.  "Yeah?"  He listened.  "Thanks, Brad."  The call got transferred.  "Sir.  Ronon, it's O'Neill.  That's good news, yeah.  We can do that, sir.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "We can head back in the morning.  We found out who told."  Ronon nodded.  "Let me go tell Xander and get us something to eat."

"Sure.  I'll watch some more tv."

John walked out, heading downstairs.  No Xander so he knocked on his apartment door, getting a semi-naked, sweaty guy.  John smiled.  "That's a happy look."

"Good news?"

"One of the people on our project was Initiative."  Xander grimaced.  "He told.  They paid him well for it when he spotted you at some sort of flea market?"

"That's when I got the bar probably."  He huffed.  "Are they still coming?"

"The President went to kick all their asses."

"That's sweet of them."  He let John in.  "So I'm safe?"

"As far as we know.  We cleaned them out of our program.  We're due back tomorrow."

Xander took a kiss and grinned.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Can I get you dinner in thanks?"

"If you want."  He smiled.  "Are we eating with your warrior buddy?"

"He's watching some tv."  He took another kiss and pressed Xander into the couch.  It was quick and dirty but good.  Then John went out to get dinner.  Xander cleaned up and went to put up all the weapons he had been cleaning.

Maybe things would be okay after all.  Hopefully.  If not, he'd do it all again he guessed.

The End.