There was going to be a war soon. Ares knew it, everyone on the fucking Mount knew it, but it was his job to fix it. And he couldn't. Not anymore. He hadn't really had control over every little war since Strife had died a few centuries back. The sad thing about that was no one cared. No one cared that he didn't have the capacity to stop this war on both sides, he might be a God but he couldn't divide himself into parts. No one cared that this was going to be the bloodiest war ever. No one cared that it was going to take about two days to destroy everything all the other Gods had worked so hard to build up. He tuned his scrying mirror back to one of the idiots who was going to set the war off, shaking his head. "Stupid fuck," he muttered, banishing the image. He had to do something about this. Even they had to see the sense in stopping this one and giving him back an assistant. He straightened his clothes and teleported over to the meeting area, glaring at Zeus. "I need an assistant," he said calmly. "Or else, you're all going to die."
Zeus snorted. "I've heard that before." He saw his wife look at all the empty seats that the meeting area held. "I'll allow you to have another mortal helper."
Ares snorted. "Zeus, that won't be good enough. I won't have the time to send him everywhere to stop this war. You know that!"
"No." Zeus leaned forward. "Ares, you know I won't allow you to have another immortal or Godly helper. You're too dangerous with them."
Ares crossed his arms. "Then you can all die. I'll live longer, the last few humans will still be fighting for a few months at least." He watched his father go pale. "Yeah, so, I need what I need to stop this, or it won't get stopped. Ever. And I don't know about you, but I can't be in three places at once to convince idiots that nuclear weapons are bad."
Hera sighed. "We can allow them to have temporary powers." Zeus stared at her in shock. "Do you *really* want to face down Strife?" she asked coldly. "He made it quite clear who he's going to be waiting on to cross over."
Zeus shuddered and manifested a necklace, which he tossed over. "Here, put this on your assistant. Make it someone from that Joxer person's line. I liked him at least."
"What?" Ares said in shock. "His line's been dead for ages."
"Not quite," Hera said quietly. "There was a girl-child born to the last of the line out of wedlock. That line still has a few stragglers." She smiled. "Don't trip over Athena while you're down there, Ares. Fighting her will waste more of your time."
Ares clenched the necklace in his fist. "Thanks, Hera." He glared at his father before leaving, going back to the Halls of War. He set all of his mirrors to track any and all of Athena's people, Hera's clue had told him that the one he needed was around them. All the mirrors stopped on a smallish blonde girl, which made him look around her. "Athena's chosen one," he murmured, checking out the mortals around her. "A Baccae? Around a Slayer?" He shook it off. That wasn't his concern, Athena would deal with her in her own way. His gaze slid across the dark haired boy the first time, but something brought his attention back to it. "Huh," he said in amazement, right as he left to go find the boy. "He'll do." He landed in front of an older man and this boy, checking him out further. He lifted the necklace and made himself appear to them. "Sorry, but this is more important," he said as he broke into the lecture. "You're my new assistant. We don't have time for you to argue," he said as the boy opened his mouth. "Unless you want everyone you know to die in three day's time, you'd better come with me now."
"Now wait a minute," the older man said, standing up. "You can't simply appear..." He looked this newcomer over. He knew this person. "Ares?" he said quietly, looking into his eyes. "May I help you also?"
"No." He looked at the boy again, holding up the necklace. "Come on. You're the last of your line and I've been told it had to be your line."
Xander touched the necklace, and it flashed out, appearing around his neck. "Huh?" he asked the God of War.
"You're his new assistant," the older man said, giving him a fond smile. "He only needs one in the most dire situations. Xander, you are now the new assistant to the God of War. Ares, this is Xander Harris. He doesn't fight very well, but he does do what he can."
"Now he can do more but it's temporary," Ares said, grabbing the kid and disappearing with him. "This," he said, waving a hand around the room they appeared in, "is the Hall of War. It's my temple. Here is where you'll come back to after I send you out." The boy hesitated but nodded. "Good. We've got to plan this very carefully. The psycho, the stupid one, and the angry one should be about ready to butt heads." He led the way to a map table, showing the map with the end result. "This is what we're stopping."
Xander raised a hand. "How am I supposed to help? I'm a normal twenty year old guy."
"Temporarily you're a minor God," Ares said, dismissing the subject. He turned when he heard the thump, sighing in aggravation. "Yeah, this is *so* going to work," he muttered, picking the boy up to shake him. "We don't have time for this," he said when the young man had wakened. "Are you done?" Xander nodded. "Good. You're going to be my second in command to stop this thing. I need you to go here," he let go of him with one hand and pointed at a dot on the map. "I need you to go mess things up in that single room. I need you to not be seen doing it. Any questions?"
"How do I get there and how do I become invisible?" Xander asked.
Ares got a predatory smile. "Easy, you will it to happen. The necklace should guide you to where you need to go." He stepped away, leaving the kid standing there. "Try it now, you've got about ten minutes before it becomes critical."
Xander stepped away from the map table and concentrated on being invisible. When it didn't work, he gave his boss a helpless look. "Are you sure it's supposed to be me?"
"Yup. Zeus decreed it." Ares looked him over then shook his head and slapped the young man across the back of his head. "There, try it now."
Xander tried it again and all the little doubts he had been feeling didn't come back. He crowed as he became visible again, then concentrated on being somewhere else. He landed in the spot Ares had told him to go and instantly became invisible. He checked the room, and the people in it, frowning when he saw the plans on the table. He stepped closer, nearly missing someone who rolled their chair back to grab a doughnut. He peered down at the map, frowning at the lines that contradicted Ares' map, but shook it off. He was here to create chaos, and he would. He walked over to the computer, frowning at the big cylinders of tape spinning around. Willow had told him about things like this.
"Don't mess with the tape," Ares voice floated down. "Change the blue plans to something else, something that's improbable."
"Okay," Xander whispered, turning to find someone staring at him. He checked himself but he was still invisible. He shrugged. "It's a job, man," he whispered as he walked past him, touching the blue map. He smiled as he recognized the plans, it was a standard hit and run pattern for the Special Forces teams. The soldier he had been changed into temporarily one Halloween had been taught that in Basic training. He waved a hand over the plastic map and changed it, making it so they were supposed to be invading Sesame Street instead of the Middle East. He grinned and giggled, going to work on a few more of the maps, changing them to suit his will. He stopped at the one big one on the computer screen, frowning at it. How was he supposed to change that one without harming the computer's tapes? He got a slow smile and leaned down to touch a control panel on the front of the work station, sending it the cold he had had last week.
Everyone in the room jumped as the computer sneezed and then came alive. Xander waved at the face that appeared, then disappeared, going back to his boss' side. "Ares?" he called, looking around the empty room. "I'm done."
A man with beautiful white wings appeared, glaring at him. "You're the one taking Strife's place this time?" he asked angrily.
"Who's Strife?" Xander asked, looking confused. "I got pulled up here to help screw up a war before it went nuclear."
The winged man nodded once. "Pop?" he called. Ares appeared, giving his son a disinterested look. "You're trying to replace him again?"
"No, I'm trying to stop this war before the rest of us die," he said coldly. "No one can replace Strife, Cupid, you know that." He looked at Xander. "Nice trick with the computer, kid. Go to the blue dot and make that leader paranoid. I need him to jump at his own shadow and at every sound, without having him kill everyone in the palace." Xander nodded and disappeared. "Cupid, I had to," he reminded his son. "I couldn't stop this one alone. You know that I haven't been able to handle all the wars going on without a Lieutenant, and this one got out of hand before I could turn my attention to it. I needed the kid to help me stop it." The winged God sighed and left. "Thanks." Ares went back to his in-field paranoia building. The idiot would have to turn his attention away from the angry one if this one started to go off again. His advisors would make it necessary.
Xander lay back in the bed he had been given, wondering why his life had taken such a strange turn, and how he had been caught up in this mess. He was almost okay with his boss treating him like an idiot, he'd had bosses that had done that before. He was okay with the cold shoulder he was getting from everyone, he was used to that too. But a 'gee, that was interesting' wouldn't hurt, would it? He rolled onto his side, trying to get comfortable on the fold-out military issue cot. First he had been given a real job, an important job, to do, without anyone ever saying why he had been picked. Now here he was, being uncomfortable and thinking too much. He shook his head mentally and closed his eyes. "I can worry about it once I'm done," he told himself. "It doesn't matter why I was picked, I just need to do my best. Even Giles respects this guy."
He slowly fell asleep, only to be woken up after what seemed like minutes. He glared at his boss. "Sleep, it's a natural part of life," he complained.
"We don't have time," Ares reminded him. "Did you make the psycho paranoid?"
Xander pushed himself up and leaned against the wall. "Yeah. He's ready to attack anything that's going on. What next?"
"Next, you..." Ares tipped his head to the side, listening. "I don't believe it. The fucking moron!" he shouted, grabbing Xander and bringing him with him.
"Hey, you taught me that trick already," Xander growled. He really needed his morning caffeine fix. Otherwise, his boss was not going to be too happy about his performance. "Coffee?"
"What?" Ares asked, looking totally confused.
"It's this thick, dark stuff that holds caffeine and keeps most Americans from killing the rest of the world?" Xander suggested. "It's a good thing, boss. Really."
Ares waved a hand and a pot of coffee appeared. He watched as his Lieutenant poured out a cup and added about four spoons of sugar. "How do you drink that?" he asked in revulsion.
"It keeps me sane," Xander said as he took a sip, adding a little more sugar. "Your cook makes worse coffee than I did at Starbucks." He looked at the map. "What now?"
"Now," Ares said, looking at the map, "I'm going to take care of the idiot, one way or another, and you're going to go visit the angry one. He needs to lighten up a little, but not lose the stress."
"Got it. Funny problems." Xander finished off a second cup while he was being watched, then put the cup down and looked at the map. "Which one's the angry one again?"
"The green dot," Ares told him, watching as the boy disappeared. "I'm going to get Zeus for this," he muttered, going to talk to a loyal follower that headed the idiot's army.
Xander looked around the bare office, frowning. He concentrated, turning the room baby blue with lace curtains and doilies everywhere. He shrugged and went out into the outer office, going to make some more changes that might lighten someone's mood. He stopped when he saw a monkey outside, smiling as an idea came to him. He got back to the office just as it's usual occupant screamed in outrage. Then Xander brought in the dancing monkeys.
The angry world leader turned at the organ music, his mouth hanging open when he saw the three monkeys dressed as harem girls. He looked like he wasn't sure if he should yell, laugh, or cry, but he sat down and stared at them for a few more minutes. He reached out and touched his intercom button, but Xander had rerouted it. The man on the other end was speaking Chinese. He cleared the call and tried it again, this time it sounded like Donald Duck. The world leader started to cry and shake as things fell apart around him.
"Oops, too much," Xander said, fixing everything back to it's original states. Except the monkeys, he liked them. And they were funny. He changed their dancing patterns, smiling as they started dancing Salsa style.
The World Leader started to laugh, bringing his secretary, who shrieked and ran away, making him laugh harder.
Xander grinned and went back to the Halls of War, finding the winged guy standing in front of a mirror, watching what he had been doing. "Ares said to keep him stressed but make it happy stress," he noted with a shrug and a slight smile.
Cupid started to smile then shook himself. "Yeah, that was good," he said flatly. "How long are you up here for?"
"I think until this is resolved," Xander told him, grabbing another cup of coffee. "How do I make this hot?" The winged guy pointed at the cup and it started to steam. "Thanks. Can I help you too?"
"Nah, I'm just here to watch over you." He moved closer, watching the young man's responses. "You're taking the spot of a very muchly missed God, mortal. Do you know that?"
Xander shook his head and collapsed a little in on himself. "No, I didn't," he said quietly. "Ares just appeared and told me that I had to help him. Which is this great honor and all, but I didn't know I was taking someone's place." He looked around the dark room. "What happened to him?"
"He died," Cupid said flatly. "Don't you have to study history?"
"Some," Xander admitted. He gave the God a small shrug. "You guys aren't taught as history. You're taught as mythology, which isn't that taught anymore. I know, basically, who Ares is, but I have no idea who you are."
"I'm Cupid," he said coldly.
Xander blinked a few times. "You're supposed to be a baby."
Cupid looked stunned. "They have me confused with my *son*?" he asked, outraged. "Who did that?"
"That's the way it's been," Ares said as he appeared. "No, son, we're not taught anymore, except in specialty classes usually at the college level." He looked at Xander. "You almost drove him over the edge."
"Wouldn't that have worked too?" Xander asked. "He wouldn't have had the power to do anything."
"Yes, but the vacuum that would have been created would have made it easier for a soldier to launch a weapon. No clear orders." Xander bowed his head. "You did good with the correction though. He think's it's a trick sent from the idiot." He looked at Cupid. "Go away," he said slowly and clearly. "You may not help with this war. I will not die because you tried to help."
Cupid fluffed his wings out. "I think I'll go find out what's being taught about us," he said snidely, disappearing in a flash of pink light.
"Whatever, as long as you stay away," Ares grumbled, looking at his assistant. "What?"
"I think he was looking for some reassurance that I wasn't taking his friend's place," Xander said quietly, looking at the ground.
"I'm War, kid, I don't do hand-holding."
"Not even for your own son?" Xander asked in shock.
"He's got a mother for that." Ares pointed at a dot on the map that had just appeared. "I need to go there, but I need you to watch the map and make sure that no other dots appear. If they do, I need to know where and what color they are. Got it?" Xander nodded so he disappeared again.
Xander pulled a chair over and sat down, watching the map. When the first new dot appeared, he blinked, memorizing about where it was. He decided to be smart and took a picture of the map as more dots appeared, bringing it down to his boss, but staying invisible. "We've got lots more dots," he said, handing over the enlarged picture.
Ares looked at it then nodded. "I expected a few of those. One of them is ancient. What's the pink one?"
"I don't know. I'm not good with geography." Xander went back up and took another picture of the map, taking a second one of any new dots so that they could be seen closer. He reappeared and handed them over, taking back the old picture.
Ares swore and brought them both back to the Hall of War, looking down at the map. "How could this have gone so wrong?" he muttered.
Xander cleared his throat. "Why can't we turn them all against someone else?"
"That's what we're trying to do," Ares grunted.
"They why target each one for mayhem? Why not put mayhem somewhere random until this has all ended?"
Ares looked at him. "That's dangerous for that other country."
"Not if it can't possibly be true," Xander pointed out. "If you put them all against somewhere like Sweden, and start rumors of impending nuclear disaster from a major weapon that they're *not* testing, then maybe it could work."
"It might, if they weren't already doing that," Ares agreed.
"Then how about the Swiss plotting to put mind control agents in the chocolate so they can take over the world without having to fight?"
Ares stopped to think about that one. "That might work. The idiot's going to be getting a shipment of Swiss chocolate later today. Send out an anonymous email message," he ordered.
"Huh?" Ares looked at him. "Can't you use a computer?"
"Enough to go find porn, but how do you send an *anonymous* message? I know a hacker who said all messages can be traced."
Ares shook his head. "Use your powers to insert one into the end computer. It won't have a traceable signature."
"Can I have an assignment where I understand what you're saying?" Xander asked after considering how to do that.
Ares grunted and glared at him. "Yes," he said impatiently. "Go to this pink dot and find out what's going on. Do you think you can do that much?" Xander nodded. "Then go," he said, losing patience. His mood didn't get any better when Athena walked in, her silver armor glowing in her aura.
"What are you doing with my chosen one's friend?" she asked coldly.
"Zeus gave him to me as a helper so I can stop this war."
She snorted. "I've already got that fixed. The bombs won't go off."
"What about the missiles?" Ares asked coldly. "Or the submarines with nuclear capabilities that are in *just* the right spot to destroy most of Europe?" She blanched. "Those little annoying details got in your way again, didn't they?" he chided like he would a deficient child. "Unless you want to die too, I'd suggest you go fix those other weapons. *They're* what's most likely to be used."
Athena glared at him. "How dare you speak to me that way!" she hissed.
"Get out," Ares said, sending a blast of power at her, denting her armor. "Get out or I'm going to tie you to one of the missiles with Heph's last rope."
She turned and stormed out, disappearing in a flash of silver.
"Cunt," he said, going back to his planning. "Why can't she get over it. She can't plan a battle to save her life." He snorted. "Or anyone else's."
Xander landed in the Hall of War and looked at the grim face his temporary boss was giving him. "What? I did what you said. The guy's mad at the idiot because he's an idiot." He shrugged. "I can't help that the idiot doesn't remember who runs what country and that all of Europe wants to invade the US to fix us."
"It's not that," Ares said, pointing at a nearby chair. He hated this job, but it was his to do this time. "One of your friends died today," he said once the kid was sitting down. Xander hopped up, his mouth open. "I couldn't do anything about it and neither could you!"
"Bet me!" Xander yelled, waving his arms around. "If I had been there, then none of this would have happened. I could have stopped it."
"Kid, you fight worse than Joxer ever did, and he was *bad*," Ares said, shaking his head.
Something inside Xander snapped. "Fuck you and the bitch you rode in on," he said, his voice becoming deathly quiet. He glared around the room, then back at his shocked boss. "Yeah, you heard me. You took me away from her side and she died. I can do a lot more than *you* think. I'm going home."
"You can't, not yet. If you do, then I'll never get this war stopped and there's going to be a nuclear holocaust."
"Yay!" Xander shouted. "Fucking yay! Let them all die!" He picked up the chair and threw it against a wall, watching as it shattered. "Let them all fucking die!" He stormed out of the room and went back to where he was staying, sitting down on his bed. He tried to pull the necklace off, but it was stuck. He couldn't even turn it around to check the clasp, it wouldn't budge.
"You can't do that," Cupid said as he appeared in front of the hurting young man. "And you can't leave yet. You'll be back in time to mourn," he said quietly, squatting down to look at the young man. "We need you, Xander. And he's right, there's nothing you could have done. She was killed in her house. Some vampires got wise and burned her house down." Xander blanched. "You'll get back in time to kill the ones who did it, but only if you help us fix this. All right?" He stood up and held out a hand. "Come on, we've got to go help Ares."
"Fuck him," Xander said coldly, standing up. "You want it fixed, have Europe invade the US." He finally got the necklace off and tossed it at the God of Love's feet. "Send me home, please, Cupid. I need to be there."
Cupid sighed and the necklace appeared in his hand. "I can't do that, Xander. Zeus himself had you brought up here." He tossed the necklace aside. "I can do something else though, something I've been wanting to do for a while now. Close your eyes." The boy glared at him but did it, and Cupid teleported him to a stone gateway. "Now, step forward about five steps."
"NO!" Hera shouted as she appeared, but she had to watch as the portal sucked the boy through. "Cupid, you will *pay*!" she threatened, calling upon her powers.
"Yay," he said calmly, pointing at the boy walking back out. "Now he can fix it all." He disappeared, taking Xander with him. They landed in front of Ares, who was relaxing in his throne. "Aren't you supposed to be busy?" he asked snidely.
"Yup." Ares straightened up as he saw Xander. "You decide to apologize yet?"
"You decide to apologize for having her burned down?" Xander asked coldly, the voice in the back of his head telling him what to say. He liked the person that he had walked through in the gateway, and apparently they had been joined somehow. For someone who had been possessed before, he liked having a human do it, it was a nice experience compared to the hyena. He looked Ares over. "You've never even looked at that purple dot and it's the most likely to burst without you watching it. Maybe you should go do that."
Ares stood up and walked down, putting his hand on Xander's head. "I didn't have her killed," he said quietly. "Athena did that."
"Then I'll deal with her too," Xander promised, the other person shining from his eyes. "It's her time too." He shook off the hand. "The purple dot, Ares. You need to be there."
Ares nodded. "I know. Go bother the cranky one again. He needs to lighten up some. But don't make him paranoid. It'll get everyone in his country killed."
Xander shrugged but he disappeared.
Ares looked at his son. "I'd go find the biggest hole you can and fill it with stuff so you can survive while you live in it," he said quietly. "Before Hera finds you." He flashed out, right after his son had left his temple.
Xander leaned against the map table, looking around the hall and shaking his head. He looked at Ares as he appeared, glaring at the woman standing behind him. "Harm me and the other part of me comes back," he warned. He pointed at a new dot on the map. "I think you should have someone invade the US to make them more like Europe."
Ares shook his head. "Too many lives lost and I promised my worshipers there that I wouldn't." He tapped the new dot then smiled. "This will actually help. It'll get the cranky one's mind off the idiot and his last speech."
"Which insulted the world," Xander agreed, still staring at the older woman. "What?"
She grimaced. "You will let that boy alone, grandson. You don't belong on this plane."
"Bite me, bitch." He turned to look at Ares, seeing his shock. "She hurts me, the other part comes out and she has to pay for what she did. After all, if she hadn't gone after Hercules, *nothing* would have happened." He pointed at a country without a dot. "What's up with them?"
"They're waiting to see how much worse it gets before they step in. England doesn't have the resources to play peacemaker this time." He frowned at the map. "Why don't you go talk to someone there and suggest mildly that they might not want to wait so long this time. Warn them that the idiot doesn't believe in the mutual destruction ideal." Xander nodded and disappeared. "You knew Strife would be back some day," he reminded his mother. "At least you're not top on his list," he offered at her sour look.
"True," she said as she disappeared, going to report what was going on.
Ares sighed. "Zeus knew this was going to happen too. That's why he worked to destroy all of Strife's lineage. And Joxer's. Their love was too strong and it's been passed down too often. Oh, well," he said with a shrug. He frowned as a dot started to waver over England. "Hey, not bad," he said in admiration. "All it will take is the *right* words and this may all be diffused quickly." He pulled a chair over to sit in, having to bring it from another room because the one in here was still broken.
Xander left his last job and went somewhere quiet in a deep woods. He leaned against a tree and closed his eyes, talking to the voice he could hear. "Listen, I'll be your body, but I need you to help me do something first," he offered. "I have to avenge her." He smiled at the fast response he got. "I have no problem with most of them, but not that one." His smile got brighter. "Good. Thanks, man. After this is done?" He nodded and opened his eyes, finding someone standing in front of him. "Hey, just getting in touch with my inner self," he said as he disappeared.
"Xander, don't do that, we can't give the mortals a clue we're still really here," Ares said as he reappeared. He ignored the flip-off he was sent, Strife was bound to be pissed at him too, and Ares considered it normal for Strife to want to destroy things right now. After all, being dead wasn't a picnic. He pointed at the map. "Good job."
"Thanks." Xander brushed his hair back, glancing around the room. "What next?"
"Now, we wait. Go eat something, kid."
"Not hungry." Xander hopped up to sit on the map table, and got zapped for it. "You need more chairs," he reminded his boss.
"Sit on the floor against the wall, you'll feel cooler." He had noticed the sweating the young man was doing, but he knew the reason for that too. When a God took over a mortal's body, they were often burnt up. Mortals weren't meant to hold a God in them, and Gods had to actively have power to stop it from happening. He sent a shot of healing energy to the boy, watching as his sweating stopped. "Better?"
"Much. Thanks." Xander cleared his throat. "Are you going to let him get his revenge?"
Ares shrugged. "It's not up to me, Xander. It's not my vendetta. I'm staying right here." He patted the arm of his chair. "They did it," Ares said gently a few minutes later. "The speech was made." He looked over and noticed the boy was asleep. He shook his head and sent him to bed. It was time for them to sleep anyway. He could watch while he slept.
The next morning, Xander woke up feeling a lot worse. "This is you, isn't it?" he whispered as he swung around so he could sit up. "Just honor our deal, and I'm yours," he promised as he stood up, bracing against the wall to make it stop moving. He groaned and closed his eyes, but it wasn't helping very much, so he swallowed and went out to do his job. He found Ares standing in front of the map, touching each dot in turn. "It going okay now?" he asked from the doorway, afraid that if he stepped out into the room, he'd fall.
"Almost," Ares agreed, not looking up. "Coffee's on the altar." Ares watched out of the corner of his eye as the boy slowly walked over to the coffee urn and poured himself some, shaking his head at the needless destruction the boy's body was going to go through before Strife could take it over. At least the boy wouldn't feel it, which was all that was soothing his nerves right now. Xander probably felt like he had a case of the flu, but he couldn't feel his cells changing, which was about the only nice part of the whole process. He went back to figuring out who they had to manipulate today, grimacing at the new dot that had shown up. "Well," he said, standing up and looking at his helper. "Someone's decided to take your advice. There's actually a group planning on invading the US if they were strong enough."
"Make it Europe," Xander croaked between sips of coffee. "That way we can get socialized health care and decent education that's not based on income." He put the cup down with a grimace. "That's even worse than yesterday," he noted as he walked over. "Where do you want me today?"
"I want you here, watching the map, while I go find out what the idiot's planning." Ares disappeared, muting his usual flash so he wouldn't hurt Xander's eyes.
Xander sat down in Ares' chair, watching the map for him. He saw a new dot appear and swore. "Um, Ares?" he called. "Another one appeared, and it's mushroom shaped?"
Ares reappeared and bent down, looking at it. "Yeah, that's the one I thought might happen. I can go solve that. You stay here." He disappeared again, and the dot disappeared from the map a few minutes later, as did part of the town that had been under it. He reappeared and wiped off his face. "That wasn't pretty," he told the boy. "A rogue military unit was trying to steal one of the old warheads and they almost set it off."
"Part of the town disappeared," Xander noted, pointing at the map.
Ares leaned down to check on it. "That's okay, it's not of note now. Anything that disappears isn't of note anymore." He looked over at his helper. "Feeling better yet?"
"Yup. Where should I go?"
"You're map watching while I put out the rest of the little fires. This takes a God's touch," he explained at the hurt look. "You did good, especially with the monkeys." He clapped the boy on the back, giving him a slight smile. "Better?"
"Much. When do I go home?" he asked quietly.
"In a few hours. Just about sunset your time." He disappeared again, and the dot of the angry world leader's office went out shortly thereafter.
Xander watched as all but one of the dots left the map, and he understood why the one for the US didn't leave, after all, just look at who was leading them. He shrugged off his feelings of uneasiness, blinking a few times as the voice in his head apologized for the pain he was going to go through in a few minutes. The first pain started as Cupid and Ares got there, both Gods working to make him as comfortable as they could while he changed.
Xander/Strife looked at the two nests of vampires, the only two left in town. He wasn't sure which one was responsible for Buffy's death, but he didn't really care at the moment. Strife used his powers to send fire down on them, and Xander slowly slipped away as he watched them burn up. Xander's last thought in his body was wondering why they were going back up to Olympus.
Strife appeared in front of his grandparents, glaring at them. "Surprise," he hissed, throwing out his arms. "You fucked up." He sent a bolt of pure energy, fueled by his rage and Xander's grief, and watched as both Elder Gods were not only hit, but were holed by it. He smirked as the bodies fell out of their thrones and walked up to take Zeus'. He noticed Athena watching him carefully and smiled coldly at her. "The prophecy said a son, not which son," he reminded her. His mother appeared in front of him and he sent a bolt at her too. "You should be hung up by your short and curlies for what you let them do to me," he told her as he sat down on the throne. He smiled as he felt it accept him. "But I'm lettin' ya live with the knowledge of what you helped make me." He watched as she got it and left in a hurry, then smirked as Ares walked in. "You, I'm only mildly pissed at."
Ares threw his head back as he laughed. "Do you really think I care!" he shouted, looking around at the other Gods. "Leave me and mine alone and I won't challenge you, Strife. That's the only way you're going to get peace from me."
"Deal," Strife agreed, grinning at him. "Hey, you need an assistant, doncha?" Ares gave him a dry look and nodded. "Cool, go find one." He waved his Uncle away, then looked at Cupid. The God he had twisted enough to help him. "Hey, Cupe, whatcha doing here?" he asked lightly.
"I just wanted to see you sitting up there." He looked around at the shocked Gods and Goddesses. "What? You thought I wanted one of *you* sitting up there? Strife can be a bitch, but at least he's usually fair about it. We all get it." He nodded his head at his cousin then disappeared.
"Cupid's right," Strife said with a smirk. "Things are gonna *change* around here!" He disappeared before anyone could attack, appearing behind them to surround the older Gods with their own powers, drawing it from the attacks they were sending at his chair. As soon as he had everyone but Athena wrapped in bonds made of each other's powers, he smirked at her. "So, Iron Britches, you ready to be reasonable, or do I have to teach you what it means to fuck with Strife?" he sneered.
She backed away from the coldness in him. "I'll be reasonable, for now," she muttered, disappearing back to her temple, where not even the King of the Gods could harm her.
Strife grinned. "Cool. My first executive decision." He smiled at what was left of his family and waved, leaving to go back to his temple, making sure they stayed there for a *long* time. He landed in front of his altar and snapped his fingers, putting a small picture off to one side of the polished marble, making sure it was just right before backing away. "Thanks, Xander. I'm back now and it's all gonna be okay. I'll watch out for them for ya." He touched the picture frame again and decided he wanted to check out the modern world. After all, he'd been gone a long time.